A win is a win, but we’ve been down this road before with the Cowboys

The Cowboys earned an important division win on the road against the rival Eagles yesterday. It may have also been a victory that saved their 2012 season as they move forward. The Cowboys currently sit at 4-5 and in second place with five of their final seven games at home. Not to mention that they don’t have to go on the road for the next month with the Browns, Redskins and Eagles next up before a trip to Cincinnati in mid-December.

Although it was a nice win against the Eagles, I’m not about to get all warm and fuzzy considering how the Cowboys have been playing and their history of losing in December. Let’s not forgot that the game yesterday was 17-17 going into the fourth quarter. If not for Dwayne Harris’ punt return and Brandon Carr’s interception return this game could have gone either way. These Cowboys teams have let us fans down way too many times for me to get all excited because they finally broke a two game losing streak. If they are the truly the team that they keep telling everyone that they are then they will take advantage of the situation that is in front of them get on a roll now.

What bothers me is that once again the Cowboys committed 13 penalties yesterday. Many were offside penalties from the defense on third down that allowed the Eagles to keep their drive going. Morris Claiborne had his worst game in his short career, but he is a rookie and is going to have some growing pains. These are things that can be corrected which are good signs for the defense. One the positives coming out of yesterday’s win is how Bruce Carter is growing into an elite middle linebacker. He has taken control of the defense with Sean Lee out and has shown what kind of player and leader he can be for the Cowboys.

On offense it’s another story. I heard this description of this Cowboys offense yesterday. It was called a “Grab Bag” offense, which fits them perfectly. This unit, led by Jason Garrett has no identity at all. They don’t know if they are a running offense, passing offense or even somewhere in the middle. It just seems as though Garrett uses his play sheet as a grab bag during the game. Before every snap he reaches into the bag and whatever he pulls out is what they run. It has created issues all season for the Cowboys offense and will continue to cause issues as the season moves on unless something is done. Maybe things will improve once DeMarco Murray returns from his foot injury, which is hopefully very soon. Although Felix Jones did play a very nice game yesterday, he still needs to prove he can do those things week after week. Tony Romo’s security blanket continues to be Jason Witten with eight receptions against the Eagles. Romo needs to open it up more with his other receivers and bring this offense to another level, but that in the hands of Garrett as he struggles with an identity for this Cowboys offense.

The time is now for Garrett to decide what he wants to do with this offense. If he wants it to be a pass first offense then he needs to start getting more creative with his offensive weapons. Start creating more plays for Cole Beasley in the slot. Maybe more plays for Romo to roll-out to create something down field. If Garrett wants to run the ball first then he needs to start using Lawrence Vickers more. He has proven that he is a quality fullback and can lead the other runners to daylight. I think the problem is that Garrett doesn’t know how to put his offensive players into position to have success.

With the win over the Eagles yesterday and with the Giants struggling, the Cowboys have a great opportunity to make a move and possibly make a run at the division title. The question is can they correct the things like penalties, poor tackling and lack of identity so that they can take advantage of the situation that’s in front of them? The defense is going to continue to improve. I have no doubt about that. It’s the offense that worries me. Even with how bad they have been playing recently they have a golden opportunity to make something of their season. I’ll be watching, but will hold off on the warm and fuzzies for a while until I see some changes, especially from Garrett and his grab bag offense.


Happy Veteran’s Day: Today We Honor the True Heroes

StarStruck Graphics

On behalf of everyone at Lone Star Struck we would like to take some time to remember and honor all of our brave servicemen and women that have served and continue to serve our great country.

Each Veteran’s Day we have an opportunity to recognize the all amazing men and women who make up the greatest military in the world. They faithfully protect our borders and our freedom and our way of life.

God Bless all of you for your unwavering loyalty, patriotism, strength, and courage.

Happy Veteran’s Day!



Cowboys Need To Figure Things Out On Offense

Contrary to what everyone was saying at the beginning of the season, this is not the Cowboys year to win the Super Bowl.

After a massive win against the New York Giants in the first week of the season, the Cowboys took a quick fall and have lost four of their last five games.

While their defense has stayed relatively consistent throughout the year, their offense needs to get on track if they want to start winning games.

The biggest problem with their offense this year is their discipline.  They have dropped multiple passes throughout the year that could have helped the team pick up much needed wins.

Dez Bryant arguing with an official made it so the Cowboys did not have enough time to get into field goal position to win the game against the Baltimore Ravens.

On a Monday Night Football game earlier in the season, Tony Romo threw five interceptions to the Bears defense.

Basically, no matter what the Cowboys do during a game, they find ways to blow it and ensure they do not come out with a win.

They need to cut down on turnovers and penalties if they want to get a win this week against division rivals the Philadelphia Eagles.  If they cannot do this, the Eagles defense will surely walk all over them.  If they can, the Cowboys not only have a good chance with the NFL odds that have them at +2.5, but they will have a great chance of winning the game.

The Cowboys need a win big time this week if they want to have a chance of making the playoffs this year.  If they cannot start turning their season around, there will surely be some releases coming soon on the teams coaching staff.  A team of this caliber should be winning much more than it has been.

The Coalter Report: Dallas vs. Falcons

What Went Right

The defense once again was solid this week. Ware got pressure constantly and made sure to leave Matt Ryan’s face print onto the field before the game was over.  Ratliff showed signs of him old self and until his injury, he was walling off the middle to Michael Turner and charging into the pocket consistently.  McCray has shown that he may be a legitimate option to start. If nothing else, he is definitely exceeding the expectations set for an un-drafted free agent.

                On offense Ogletree is finally following up his season opener performance with a solid game. He showed athletic ability on his touchdown grab. Witten, to no surprise, surpassed Irvin’s record for franchise receptions, and was Romo’s security blanket throughout the night. Cole Beasley finally found himself in the action, and made a decent reception.

What Went Wrong

                Play calling was, in my opinion, the greatest handicap on this offense. Garrett seemed to have put training wheels on his nine year veteran quarterback, not allowing him many opportunities for deep throws and big plays. I do not see how calling a conservative game plan with this team, would ever put them above the Falcons electrifying play-makers.

                The offensive line struggled once again with penalties and pass rushers. It seems like this “rebuilt” offensive line, may not be the upgrade Jerry Jones had in mind, but more of a lateral move. Our interior still can’t push defenders out of the way, and the edge blockers give up too many sacks and drive killing penalties.

Next Week’s Focus

                I feel like the focus of next week’s game should be on the play of our offensive line, and the offensive play calling. We should hope to see our big men pushing the Eagles D-line like they’re on skates, as well as giving Tony Romo enough time to check down through his receiver’s. With Jerry Jones wanting big plays, we should see Jason Garrett dial up Dez Bryant’s number a few more times, answering with a touchdown or two.

Dallas Cowboys Face Another Tough Test Against Atlanta Falcons

The Dallas Cowboys season of disappointment continued Sunday with a gut-wrenching 29-24 defeat to the New York Giants. Now, the 3-4 Cowboys must regroup for a tough road match-up against the  undefeated Atlanta Falcons.

Dallas is pegged as a 4-point underdog against the Falcons with the over/under listed at 47.5, according to this week’s NFL odds. Atlanta, which sports a 5-2 record against the spread this season, is coming off a sharp 30-17 win over the Eagles as 3-point road underdogs.

Dallas has seemingly found a new way to lose in each of their four losses and Sunday was no exception. This time it was a flurry of early turnovers that dug the Cowboys into a 23-0 hole that they could never overcome.

Except for the turnovers, the Cowboys may have outplayed their division rival Sunday. The Giants were limited to just 11 first downs and 293 yards by a stout Cowboys defense, while Dallas mustered 28 first downs and 434 total yards.

The Cowboys should be encouraged by the continued improvement of Rob Ryan’s defensive unit as well as the increased production of pass-catchers Jason Witten and Miles Austin. Witten had a career day against the Giants. He set a new NFL record for tight ends with 18 receptions, which accounted for 167 yards.

For the Cowboys to be successful against the Falcons, their No. 3-ranked pass-coverage unit will have to play like it and slow down quarterback Matt Ryan and the Falcons aerial attack. Additionally, the Cowboys may need to run the ball more to take advantage of a Falcons rush defense that is highly suspect at this point.

It would be a big boost if No. 1 running back DeMarco Murray returns from injury for the Cowboys, but as of mid-week his status remained uncertain for the Falcons.

This marks the halfway point of the season for the Cowboys and another loss would be a huge blow to their playoff chances. There are some potentially good match-ups for the Cowboys in this one, but it is still difficult as a bettor to support a team that continues to be so mistake prone.

Cowboys Are Home Underdogs Against The Giants, But I Smell An Upset

The Dallas Cowboys managed to win their way back to .500 last week, but a true test of their quality going forward will come this Sunday when the first-place New York Giants come to town.

The Cowboys made their way to 3-3 last week with a 19-14 road cover at Carolina that, based on this week’s NFL odds, has left bettors unimpressed. Depending on where you look, the Giants (5-2) are laying up to 1.5 points as road favorites.

Dallas may be deserving of its home ‘dog status this week. The Cowboys failed to inspire much confidence when scoring just one touchdown against the lowly Panthers last week and they now have several key injuries to deal with. In addition to running back DeMarco Murray being out another week, the Cowboys will be without their defensive captain—inside linebacker Sean Lee—against the Giants and beyond. On top of that, center Phil Costa—who had spearheaded the Cowboys’ running game since returning from injury—suffered a dislocated ankle and will also be out for significant time.

When forming this week’s NFL picks one would duly note the Cowboys went into New York and beat the defending Super Bowl champions in Week One, 24-17, as 3.5-point road underdogs. Since then Dallas has been as inconsistent as any team in the NFL.

The Cowboys’ defense took a big step forward in the win against Carolina, however. It held Cam Newton and the Panthers offense in check, thanks in large part to a secondary that’s evolving into one of the better pass-coverage units in the league.  Dallas will have to continue that momentum to have a chance when Eli Manning and company come to town Sunday.

This game figures to go a long way in determining the fate of this year’s Cowboys. It will likely come down to their ability to withstand the injury issue and how quarterback Tony Romo and the offense can respond. Those questions loom large and make the Cowboys a risky proposition this week.

That said, this is why you play the games. There’s no accounting for the human element. Although the odds look like they’re stacked against the Cowboys, the home crowd could fire them up, one or two players can rise to the occasion, the opposition can choke. We’ve seen this time and time again. Sometimes this team plays their best football when their backs are up against the wall.  I smell a big upset in this game and believe that ‘Boys will rise to the occasion.

Go Cowboys!

The Coalter Report: Dallas vs. Panthers

What Went Right

The Cowboys on Sunday against the Panthers displayed the ability to overcome diversity. This is a trait that every great team in the last decade has shown, and it is great to finally see a glimmer of it in our team. As Sean Lee came out of the game with an ankle injury, we lost not only our leading tackler, but our defensive general as well. However, Dan Conner stepped right up to the plate and managed to stifle the Panthers running game while maintaining the middle of the field. When our unlucky center left to the sidelines, previous offensive line savior, Ryan Cook filled his teammate’s huge shoes and bulldozed a pathway for Phillip Tanner and Felix Jones to run through. In previous seasons, an injury to either position would throw us into chaos, but not this year. We have the deepest team we have been able to field in years, with young players full of potential playing behind proven veterans.

What Went Wrong

Carr was beat all day by both Brandon LaFell and Steve Smith. He seemed to be a step behind every route ran his way and was never in a position to make a play on a ball. Romo started out with a hot arm, but was quickly cooled by the Panthers pass rush, and was unable to be consistently accurate. Our offensive line continues to be manhandled by any and every defensive lineman lined up opposite of them. Doug Free is still regressing, and it is only a matter of time before Jerry Jones moves on to a younger player with more potential.

Player of Focus

Jason Witten:

After watching Witten play for years, it still blows my mind how team after team, year after year, cannot cover him. He is not the most physically talented tight end in the league. He could make a race against a glacier competitive, and runs his routes as curvaceous as Jennifer Lopez. Yet despite this, he has not only become the most prolific pass catcher in Dallas Cowboys history, but has maintained a presence as one of the better blocking ends in the last decade. He may not be the flashiest at his position, and may never lead the league in touchdowns or average 15 yards a catch. However, I would take his well-balanced, and team inspiring toughness, over any of his younger one dimensional counterparts.

Dallas Cowboys A Road Favorite Against Carolina Panthers

Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant had a great game against the Ravens, but the team fell short in 31-29 loss.

After letting a potential win against the Baltimore Ravens slip through their grasp Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys will hit the road to take on the Carolina Panthers as a 2.5-point favorite in the Week 7 NFL odds.

Dallas actually played one of its better game of the season last week when handily outgaining the Ravens and in complete control of time of possession. It still didn’t matter. Baltimore clung to a 31-29 win to drop the Cowboys to 2-3 this season.

Dallas was led by a ground attack that racked up 227 yards and also received a bounce-back performance from quarterback Tony Romo, who finished 25 of 36 for 261 yards with two touchdowns and an interception against Baltimore. Perhaps even more encouraging for the Cowboys was wide receiver Dez Bryant had his first breakout game of the season with 13 catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns.

That’s the good news. The flip side is the Cowboys continue to sabotage their chances at winning by mistakes and questionable coaching decisions. In Carolina they will be further hampered by the loss of starting running back DeMarco Murray, who looked great when running 14 times for 93 yards before going down against the Ravens.

In the post-game aftermath, head coach Jason Garret and Cowboys players chose to focus on the positives. There were certainly enough encouraging signs, but this is a results-oriented league and the Cowboys have never really showed that killer instinct under Garrett.

Carolina may be an ideal opponent for the Cowboys following such a disappointing loss as they have struggled through a 1-4 start to the season. The positives working for the Panthers are they managed to play a pair of potential playoff teams close in their last two games and will have two weeks to prepare for the Cowboys following their bye.

With that said, Dallas remains easily the better team on paper and it’s getting that time of the season to either put up or shut up. Look for the Cowboys to take out some frustrations against the struggling Panthers as one of the NFL picks of Week 7.

Is Jason Garrett more Princeton material then NFL head coach material?

After two days I’m still trying to figure out what the Cowboys were doing when trying to set up for the potential game winning field goal against the Ravens. Does the blame fall on Jason Garrett or Tony Romo or maybe both of them? I saw no sense of urgency from the Cowboys offense after Dez Bryant caught the one yard pass with 20 seconds left and one timeout remaining. I saw players standing around, I saw Bryant arguing with the official. To me it seemed as though everyone was looking towards the sidelines wondering what to do next. In that situation I wish Romo would have either got the offensive unit up to the line to clock the ball or call the timeout right away instead of letting it run down to three seconds. Even if the offense didn’t have another play ready (which they should have) the smart thing would have been to rush the players to the line so that Romo could spike the ball. Then there is probably about 15 seconds left and the Cowboys still have their one timeout left. Then they could run almost any play they wanted to get Dan Bailey closer. It was poor clock management by Garrett and there are no excuses in my opinion. Garrett says that Ogletree and Austin ran vertical routes and it would have taken them longer to get back to lineup. Then that falls on Garrett for calling a horrible play with so little time left on the clock. I want Romo as the true leader of the offense, with the game situation at that time to take control and know what to do instead of looking towards the sidelines for answers from Garrett. I’m not really blaming Romo since he is only doing what the coaches tell him to. In those situations I wish Romo would just stand firm no matter what the coaches will think and quickly make a decision on his own instead of waiting for his own coach to make a decision as the clock to running down. Seriously, what’s going to happen? Does anyone believe that Garrett would bench Romo for making a quick decision like that?

It’s almost as though Garrett coaches scared sometimes. I would hope his only thought in that situation is to get his team closer for the field goal attempt and not thoughts of an offensive penalty or a sack or a turnover. As the head coach you not only have to be aware of the situation, but you also need to be aggressive and be ready. There is no time for Garrett to be learning on the job for the Cowboys. He needs to be prepared no matter what situation comes up.

“We had the one time out, so we had the ability to throw the ball inside,” Garrett said. “Tony was going to get them on the ball as quickly as he could, knowing that we had that one in our hip pocket, and try to get a play run, knowing that we could throw the ball anywhere we wanted with the timeout. It just took too long for everybody to get un-piled. It got down to the single digits, so we said ‘take it down to four seconds and bang the timeout.”

Un-piled? Where exactly did Garrett see a pile? There was never any pile after the Bryant completion.

“The urgency to get back is critical in that situation,” Garrett said. “We have to do a better job in that situation, and it starts with me.”

There was no urgency from anyone. That is the main concern. Why did it seem like everyone was looking towards the sidelines for what to do next?

“They chose to bring pressure and we got the ball out quickly to Dez,” Garrett said. “The initial thought process was try to get everyone back on the line of scrimmage as quickly as we can and, at minimum, clock the ball. And if everyone gets back quickly, we can call a play and then we’ll save the timeout for the final kick. Having said that, when you have those combinations up and you have some people running away from the line of scrimmage, it’s going to take them longer to get back. When I look at that as a coach, I say, ‘OK, I like the answers, but one of the issues is we have two receivers running vertically down the field and it’s going to take too much time for them to get back.’ So that’s my responsibility. I made that play call and I’ve got to do a better job of that.”

“You keep working on it and keep learning from it,” Garrett said. “I think we won four of five games last year in the last second or overtime, in similar-type situations, so the idea is to handle them that way every time. Those guys get paid on the other side too, and we’ve got to make sure we handle situations when we think we’re going to be able to get this.  To be able to make a good play, you have to respond better. The more you put your team in that situation in practice, the more you learn from not only your game experience, but the situations that happen around the league, the better your going to get at it.”

Right now the Cowboys are 2-3 and are last in the NFC East. Next week they travel to Carolina in what can only be seen as a must win game. Falling to 2-4 will be crushing for the Cowboys with teams like the Giants, Falcons and Eagles coming up.

At this point I don’t see Garrett progressing as a head coach. Maybe he will, but how many more games will the Cowboys lose at the expense of Garrett not doing a better job when it comes to clock management. Maybe Garrett was Princeton material, but right now I don’t think he is NFL head coach material. I was going to say that I don’t believe Garrett is in any jeopardy of losing his job after this season if it ends badly, but after reading Jerry Jones latest quote I’m not so sure anymore.

“We know that you want your team as healthy and as in sync as it can be as we get on in to the end of the season. We know that we’ve played one division game and won it. We’ve got those guys, the Giants, coming back in here. We know that’s going to be a big game for us. All of those things give us a chance to take a team that is evolving into — if you look at the pluses yesterday — evolving into a team that can be a team that can compete for the championship. Not next year, this year.”

Wait, compete for the championship this year?

“Correct,” Jones responded. “Correct. Let me emphasize that. I’m not into everybody getting better, learning for years to come. It’s this year.”

Like I said in my last article, there is a common thread over the last few seasons as players and coaches continue to say they need to learn and get better. At this point I’m still waiting for that to happen and I guess so is Jerry Jones!


Lone Star Struck joins Google Sports Network

I just wanted to share with our fans some pretty cool news.  First, it’s not everyday you get an email from a Google employee about a pretty awesome opportunity.  Google contacted us in regards to a recent partnership with the NFL to engage fans even better than before.  They created the Google Sports Network so that Google can reach out to sites like us for opinions and other fan-related stuff.  Right now, we are the ONLY FANSITE that represents the Dallas Cowboys within the Google Sports Network.  From the discussions I’ve had with Google, we were essentially hand-picked.

Like I said, you don’t get an email from Google and pass up an opportunity like this.  What we will be doing is beefing up our Google+ (Google Plus) usage and eventually will be starting a Google Plus hangouts as well.  If you are already on Google Plus and have us added to your circles, great.  Share us with your friends!  If you haven’t added us yet or haven’t checked out Google Plus, you definitely should.

Click on the G+ Icon in the top-right area of our page!

New LSS Writer: Coalter Thornton

Hello fellow Dallas Cowboy fans. I am a new addition to the writers here on Lone Star Struck. My goal as a writer is to give Dallas Cowboy loyalists articles that illustrate my take on the players, coaches, and events that surround our team.      I am privileged to be part of the greatest fan base in sports and hope to contribute insightful articles to the community.

                Despite our recent lack of playoff success, we do have a legacy that rivals any team in the NFL. This is why I think that the team, this year, will do something great. We have a great core of skill players, a passionate young coach, and a General Manager who has three Superbowls managing this team. We have a quarterback, Tony Romo, that is almost always in the top ten among his position in yards and touchdowns. The running back has the potential to be our best since Emmitt Smith, with his combination of piston legs, and a stiff arm that rivals Tyson’s right hook. The receiving core has as many weapons as Borderlands 2, and more speed than the next “Fast and Furious” movie.  Our pass defense has revamped from a cheese wedge full of holes for offenses to attack, to a wall of hands, deflecting passes like my mother slapping my wrist away from the last piece of cherry pie. Demarcus Ware is still the sack machine, and with Jay Ratliff back, he should only increase his numbers.

                We are the fans of “Americas Team,” so no matter what the outcome of the game on Sunday is, keep hope and continue to support our players and coaches.

Big Game For The Cowboys Against Ravens In Week 6

Things are not looking good for the Tony Romo led Dallas Cowboys this year.  Many believed that they would be the team to beat in the NFC East this year, but that does not look to be the case as they are already 2-2.  They have a really tough game this week in Baltimore against the Ravens and look like they will need everything they have to get the win.

One of the biggest reasons for the Cowboys dismal performance this year has been their subpar offense.  Tony Romo has not been playing up to his usual elite level in the league and his age is starting to show.  In the Cowboys game against the Bears two Monday nights ago, they could not get anything going and Romo threw five interceptions on the day.  This does not bode well for them in week 6 as they have to play a Ray Lewis led Ravens defense that has twelve turnovers in just five games.  Hopefully Romo and his team used their BYE week in week five to try to get some game plans together for this game.  If not, they could be looking a losing record early in the season.

Luckily for the Cowboys, their defense has looked solid this year despite such a weak offensive start.  They will need to hold strong against a Ravens team that was struggling to get points on the board against a terrible Chiefs defense this past Sunday.  Getting to quarterback Joe Flacco and forcing turnovers is the key to a Cowboys win in week 6.  If they cannot do this, the Ravens will certainly be able to get the ball to Ray Rice, Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin for huge plays.

The Cowboys need to make some big adjustments to win this week in Baltimore.  They are still a good choice as one of your NFL picks on the week, but they need to dig deep if they want the win against the Ravens.