Cowboys Secondary is a Primary Concern

We are three weeks into free agency and I have to admit am very concerned about our secondary situation.

First, we release Adam Jones, which even though he has skills was a must move. Then we trade Anthony Henry for our new backup quarterback. I still don’t understand the move with free agents like Garcia and Leftwich still out there looking for jobs.

Another questionable move was the Roy Williams release. As bad as he was in pass coverage, he is better than what we have right now.

The only addition to  the secondary is Gerald Sensabaugh, who is mediocre at best. Although Sensabaugh did have his best year in Jacksonville in 2008, he has had some trouble with the law. After being arrested three times, the latest in February, he may start the season on suspension by the NFL. This signing baffles me. He is the exact type of player the Cowboys are trying to avoid, but thats another story for a different time.

Safeties… So as of right now Ken Hamlin and Patrick Watkins are our starting safeties, with Tra Battle and Courtney Brown as backups. Sensabaugh will jump into the starting lineup whenever he is available to play. This absolutely scares me that we have no one better than him to start. Keith Davis is still on the roster but expected to sign somewhere else shortly. There is very little left out in free agency. A Darren Sharper or Mike Brown maybe, but signing Sensabaugh tells me Jerry is not looking for another safety in free agency. I have seen Patrick Chung in a lot of mock drafts being there for the Cowboys at pick 51. He is a Roy Williams type that has better speed to play the pass. He would be a nice addition to the secondary and I could even see him jumping into the starting lineup at some point in ’09. After Chung the pool of safeties is not very deep so lets hope he stays out there for the ‘Boys.

Cornerbacks… Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins are the starters right now, with Scandrick and Ball as their backups. This is the scariest position for the Cowboys in my mind. With three of the four corners having 2 years or less experience in the NFL and Newman constantly being injured, it seems like a recipe for disaster. I hear people say we need to let the younger guys develop. That’s the smart thing to do, but you don’t develop them by throwing them out into the starting lineup on a team that should be contending for the Super Bowl. Jerry needs to sign a veteran so the younger guys can learn by being out there on 3 or 4 receiver sets.

Scandrick and Jenkins have skills but I’d much rather see them learning against a 3rd or 4th receiver rather than getting torched by a one or two. Ken Lucas was released last week, I would love to see Jerry go after him. Other than that Dre Bly and Chris Mccallister are the only semi-decent corners left. Taking a corner in the draft just isn’t going to happen. The ‘Boys have three young talented guys they just need some guidance from experienced veterans. I don’t even want to think about how devastating it would be if Newman got injured, but recent history has shown us there is a good chance.

I know a lot of you are saying as long as we get pressure on the quarterback the young guys will be fine, right? Yes, we led the league in sacks last year, but (and I am not going to throw a big stat at you) the Cowboys had no consistent pressure at all! (Igor Olshansky should help.) Games like the Tampa, Seattle, and San Francisco  are a great examples. Yes we won the games and yes we stopped them in the red zone, but these three pathetic offenses moved the ball on us at will between the twenties. If those were decent teams we could just as easily lost.

Honestly, I hope I am wrong and that the young guys thrive. I just don’t see how we can contend for our sixth ring with the secondary in the shape it’s in.

 I am going to leave you with my stat of the offseason. The Cowboys only had 8 interceptions last year. Yes, that’s right, only 8! One pick was by a pass rush specialist, Greg Ellis, and four by Newman, that leaves only 3 picks by the rest of the secondary. That is pathetic! Only Detroit and Denver had less interceptions than the ‘Boys did last year. The Cowboys need to improve the secondary or we have no chance of contending for the Super Bowl in ’09.

Cowboy Bill’s End Of Season Rant

I’ve had trouble all season coming up with positive things to say. Bringing doom and gloom isn’t fun for anyone. I’ve noticed that most posts on this site have some sort of positive spin by most of the writers. I try to follow suit. But I couldn’t. I was so concerned with being labeled as a “hater” that I let virtually the whole season go by with nothing to say other than a few comments on other writers’ posts. Well now it is time for me to vent.

The phrase I’m so sick of hearing-especially from Tony Romo- is “It is what it is”. What that actually means is you know the answer and you’re not man enough to say it. You’re not man enough to say you’re struggling under the pressure. You’re not man enough to say it was your fault the team lost that week. But all we get is “Turnovers are part of the game” or “Give (enter team name here) credit”. That’s crap. Total and complete crap. It’s PR spin that I aint buying.

Terrell Owens needs to just shut the hell up and play football. Period. Maybe some things he says is true. But handle your problems internally, as a team. Reporters are looking for a story. He never fails in delivering the story. He’s an incredible athlete with serious personality flaws. He’s far too inconsistent to be pointing the finger at anybody. When he’s on his game there is no better. Unfortunately, those times are getting few and far between. Maybe his age is catching up with him.

Signing Adam Jones was the second biggest blunder of 2008. This guy looked lost from the beginning. He covers about half the time and has been a disaster on special teams. Whatever he “had” at Tennessee is gone. Long gone. The only thing that’s left is off-the-field issues that a team like this does not need. Send him packing. I beg of you.

The biggest blunder was signing WR Roy Williams. So far this guy has brought nothing to the table. The chemistry was lost when Romo came back from injury and had a new personality to figure out. Not to mention Williams is a horrible route runner and is afraid to get hit. We had great chemistry with Owens, Crayton and Austin. Williams is the odd man out and history will prove that.

“They had a good game plan”… “It took us until the 3rd quarter to figure it out”… “The defenses have figured out what we’re doing”. These are not direct quotes but close enough and are all BS. The Cowboys’ offense of the 90’s was very predictable. Difference is, even when defenses KNEW what was coming they couldn’t stop it. It’s all about execution.  Plain and simple.

Wade Phillips says he’s going to put together a plan. Can’t wait. A plan. Wow. Well, Wade, PLAN on kissing your job goodbye if your PLAN fails. How bout fining Romo $10K for every interception? Or fine T.O. when he decides to cry to Deion Sanders, on national TV, before a big game? Or fine your coaches for not having an effective PLAN to begin with! Fine Flozell and Colombo for false starts every freaking game! Fine DB’s for blown coverage. Fine WR’s for blown routes. Fine Folk when he kicks it out of bounds! DO SOMETHING!  ANYTHING! I’M SICK OF THIS HORSE CRAP YOU’RE FEEDING US FANS!

Stop talking. Stop making excuses. Fix this. Fix it now. We deserve better. A guy on the radio said it best. “Cowboys fans are paying for fillet mignon but what they’re getting is Hamburger Helper”. Enough said. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go take some more Tums.

Cowboys-Rams: A Fan’s Agony To Receive One Gift and Have Another Taken Away!

Good Morning Cowboy fans:

As the Cowboys enter week 7 of the NFL season, I am somewhat of a “train wreck” over everything we as fans have had to endure this week. I have been on vacation the last two weeks so I have definitely had some time to reflect and “arm chair quarterback” some ideas in my mind if Jerry decides to call.

As my week began on Monday, I was still smarting from the fact we had just literally gave a game away in Arizona to drop to 4-2, when the news began to trickle in.

Our beloved Cowboys were beginning to crumble at our feet. First it was the news that our field general Tony Romo had broken a finger on his throwing hand and would be out up to four weeks. Shortly thereafter, it was learned that Felix Jones would miss two weeks with hamstring issues and finally the news began to trickle out that “Pacman” Jones would be suspended by the Commissioner of the NFL for four games due to his after hour activities which was deemed detrimental to his probation placed on him by the NFL Commissioner when he was reinstated a little over 6 weeks ago.

Adam Jones has or had a very good opportunity to be one of the premier defensive backs in the league and a real gift to the Cowboys. I really felt that when Terence Newman returned to the lineup the Cowboys had two Pro bowl caliber “shutdown” corners. Now that gift has been taken away from the team and us as fans all because of his foolish decisions.

So, with all that said it has not been a good week for Cowboy fans!

I do feel confident in Brad Johnson to lead the team while Romo is out. With the injuries to Terence Newman and Felix Jones, and the verdict still out on Adam Jones, the younger players like Michael Jenkins and Tashard Choice will have to step up and play key roles in the Cowboy’s defensive and offensive game plans.

Well Jerry Jones has never one to be out-done on any deal. After all the bad news we could endure so far, Jones came out of the NFL meetings with a gift to replace the one that had been taken away. The Cowboys announced on Tuesday that they had reached a lucrative deal with former Detroit Lions wide receiver Roy Williams. I for one am ecstatic that Williams is coming to Dallas. Jerry Jones’ pursuit of Williams was almost as ardent as that of Adam Jones’. The Cowboys owner had attempted to trade for Williams over the last two years but could not get the Lions to agree.

So, with just a few hours before the 3 p.m. trade deadline Jones began earnest negotiations with the Lions to bring Williams to Dallas. With at least nine selections in next year’s draft, the Cowboys felt comfortable in giving up their first-, third- and sixth-round picks in return for Williams and Detroit’s seventh round pick. The Cowboys immediately worked out a contract extension to keep the Odessa, Texas native and University of Texas star in Dallas through 2013. The deal said to be in the 45 million dollar range will more than likely give Williams’ a chance to finish his career as a Cowboy.

Williams came in to the league in 2003 as the Lion’s first pick and went to the Pro Bowl in 2006. Since that time his numbers have fell off considerably due in part, to many quarterback and coaching changes that also resulted in many different offensive schemes as well.

When Williams was drafted by the Lions, all they could talk about was his great character and the talent he possesses. Now he joins Terrell Owens to form a dynamic duo at receiver that will feature not only good size but game breaking speed. That combination should play havoc on any opposing secondary.

Thanks Jerry, I am feeling better already!

Brad Johnson is on the spot this week. So are T.O. and MB3 on offense and DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis on defense. Pro Bowl players must perform at a Pro Bowl level to help the Cowboys overcome the loss of Romo and the others when the Cowboys travel to St. Louis on Sunday to play the Rams. I think the two players that will have the biggest impact on this weeks game is Miles Austin and Patrick Crayton. Both play wide receiver, but they will be filling different roles against the Rams. With Adam Jones gone, Crayton will be handling the punt return duties and without Felix Jones on kickoff returns that will be the responsibility of Miles Austin. The Cowboys have to maintain good field position. Johnson is not Romo. He has neither his arm nor his mobility. So sacks figure to increase and big plays decrease with a 40-year-old quarterback at the controls. The Cowboys will need more plays to cover more yards to fuel scoring drives.

Field position will be critical Sunday against the Rams. The longer the kickoff and punt returns by the Cowboys, the shorter the field for the offense. With Felix Jones out, Austin figures to return kickoffs and with Adam Jones out, Crayton figures to return punts.
The Rams are strong in the kicking game and we will need long kickoff and punt returns to shorten the field for Johnson and the offense. I think the game will be slowed down considerably compared to what we normally see with Romo. Johnson will be a lot more deliberate with his decisions on the field, I am sure a very good run oriented offense has been put into place this week. That will allow Johnson and the offense to control the clock and have very few mistakes.

In the end the Cowboys will do just fine and get out of St. Louis with a win. My prediction is Cowboys 28-17.

The Secondary Is A Primary Concern

With the draft just around the corner, some feel it’s time to start thinking about a corner. It certainly seems that the deal for Tennessee Titan Adam Jones is inevitable but, considering his past antics, that brings little security at the position.

The Dallas secondary isn’t nearly as inept as some "experts" would have you believe. Pro Bowl CB Terence Newman is coming in healthy this year which is huge. Anthony Henry holds his own most of the time. Henry had 6 interceptions in 13 games last season. While not stellar, that is still more than the two previous seasons(28 starts) combined. Newman had 4 INT’s in as many games.

This "lacking secondary" had 19 INT’s last year. Tied for 4th in the NFL in INT’s doesn’t seem lacking or inept to me. The secondary was and is above average in every category. Things have a tendency to get skewed because of the occasional big play given up by the secondary. Just keep in mind the injuries suffered by Newman and Henry throughout the season. Newman fought through foot and knee injuries throughout the 2007 campaign. Henry had a nasty ankle late last season. So the alarm about the Dallas secondary- at least the CB’s- is much ado about nothing.

We all know Roy Williams isn’t a traditional safety. I’ve been a huge critic of Williams over the last 2 seasons. Williams is a great run defender. He had 30 more tackles in 2007 than in the previous season. But I’m sure everyone will agree that if there is a hole in the secondary. That hole wears the number 31. He can’t cover TE’s like Shockey or Cooley consistently.

A 2/28/2008 report in the Star-Telegram brings up concerns about Williams’ behavior in relations to the players and staff. The Star- Telegram reports: " He has become a bit of enigma in the locker room; the defense normally goes out to eat as a unit on Thursdays during game weeks, but Williams seldom attends. He has displayed a tendency to blame others for pass coverage breakdowns, something his teammates have noticed… Coaches, former coaches, teammates and ex-teammates have tried to talk to Williams, but they often receive the same defiant and defensive posturing he takes with his "friends" in the media."

Why not trade Williams? Nobody is going to take the salary cap hit that Williams would bring to the table. He signed a 4 year, $25 million extension in 2006. Trade him? Not gonna happen.

So as we approach the April 26 2008 draft, do we need go to after a corner? Maybe we consider a safety instead? Maybe use Williams in short-yardage and goal line situations in 2008? I don’t pretend to know all the answers to these questions. What I do know is this team is so so close to that illusive 6th trophy. It’s there for the taking. Right around the corner.