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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.

Two Plays Away From 2-3?!

A win is a win in the NFL.  There are no style points.  No polls.  We all know the old adage “on any given Sunday.”  Hey, I will take the Cowboys 31-22 win anytime.  That being said something is not right with this team right now.  The fact of the matter is we are two fumbles away, in Dallas teritory, from facing a 2-3 start.   Now, those fumbles did happen and we are 4-1.  But to think that Dallas is one of the elite teams in the NFL is just not true.  They are not the best team in the NFL.  They are not the best team in the NFC.  Heck, they are the 3rd best team in the division right now!!   There is a sense of accomplishment that this team has that is quite simply not warrented.  WE DID NOT WIN THE SUPER BOWL LAST YEAR!  We could not beat the Giants at home, a team that we beat twice already, to get the the NFC Championship.  Do I think they could beat anyteam, anywhere right now…..yes!  But there are a few things that MUST be figured out before this team takes that next step:

  • Tony…I love ya…”your my quarterback”….but what is going on?  INT’s in 8 straight games?  Another lost fumble?  It’s becoming more clear that is may be feast or famine with our QB. I wouldn’t trade him for anyone but HE HAS TO PLAY BETTER. 
  • T.O?  Snap out of it..your getting the ball & making plays. What more do you want?
  • Patrick Crayton has to step up and stop with the key drops.  I know he found the ball in the end zone yesterday but he has to be more consistant.
  • I know I knock Anthony Henry but Terence Newman has got to stay healthy.  With him and A Jones, by the end of the season could really be dominating.  The only place I want to see A. Henry is in nickle or dime coverage.
  • It’s kind of ironic to me how MB3‘s playing time is almost coming full circle.  He was the 3rd down back for J Jones, getting a few carries a game.  I can see this happening to F Jones.  I AM NOT KNOCKING MB3 but F Jones is a better pure runner.  Would 20 carries for MB3 & 12 for F Jones be a bad thing?
  • What is going on at home?  I truly think that this team is far too overconfident at home and has a us vs the world mentality on the road that works better for this team.

All that being said we are still 4-1 and if we can win at Arizona and follow that up with a win at St Louis all of a sudden 6-1 looks pretty good.  Pretty good would be ok for most teams in most years…just not what the expectations are for this year. 


Get Off the Ledge Cowboys Fans

What can we learn from a week 4 loss?

A tough loss? YES! Losing at home to a division rival? NOT GOOD!  Is this the beginning of the end for the 2008 season?  C’MON….NO!

If there were one team that any true Cowboy fan would least like to lose to it would have to be the Washington Redskins.  While falling to 3-1 and out of first place is not what many would have thought going into this weekend hope for a Super Bowl is not lost.  In fact, if you would have asked me before the season where we would have been after four games I probably would have said 3-1 and take it. 

With a home game against winless Cincinnati this week things may look different after next week.  What Sunday’s loss did to me was start to cast some doubts as far as the Cowboys ability to win at home.  As we mentioned last week Dallas is 0-5 in their last 5 December home games.  Three of the four losses last year were at home as well.  If we do not start dominating at home this may turn out to be a very difficult year.  Let’s face it: four of the best, let’s say six, teams are in the NFC East.  I feel confident that we will be able to get this game back and win a division game on the road this year.  But it does say something that I am more confident winning in New York than at home.  If we don’t get back to winning at home the road to Tampa may start and finish on the road.

 

From where I’m sitting:

  • Barber 8 carries, F Jones 0….we’re not going to win many games like that.  And if you didn’t think so before MB3 is the key to the offense (remember 2nd half vs Giants).  The offense will only be as good as the running game is. 
  • I have seen enough of Anthony Henry.  Not that he played that badly or did anything in particular on Sunday.  It’s time for M Jenkins or A Jones to take over at corner
  • Nitpicking here but can Andre Gurode please do a better job with the shotgun snaps..kills the timing of every shotgun play
  • Boy is Santana Moss a pain in the neck
  • 12 men on field??   After a timeout??  CMON!!!
  • I love Tony Romo.  After years of Q Carter, D Bledsoe, V Testaverde, R Leaf & D Henson it is nice to have a QB that can play.  That being said HE HAS TO STOP WITH THE TURNOVERS!  Sunday makes 7 straight games with an INT.  The 3rd qtr INT changed the entire game.  If he doesn’t start practicing ball security any playoff run will be a short one.

Freedom isn’t “Free”

As the new dawn of a new season approaches, the 2008 Boys are thankfully faced with very few question marks. There is the ongoing Terry Glenn fiasco, which I don’t really understand, because if TG really wants to be on this team, then what is 700 grand to a multimillionare (the difference between his salary and his injury settlement)? And that is ONLY if he does get hurt. TD to Terry: sign the dang paper! The receiving corps is the standard question mark thrown about in the media, and understandably so, but I have enjoyed watching the development of Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd, and I think they are going to be consistent enough to offset any double coverage on TO. I also remind everyone not to forget that Jason Witten is the true number 2 receiver (number one if you go by receptions).

That being said, the other big question mark is the secondary. It has a little bit of a new twist this year in that we actually have a surplus of DB’s for the 4 to 5 spots back there. The candidates are highly paid and highly controversial. A rundown and a personal, unprofessional scouting report:

 

The Godfather: Roy Williams – 7th year – Oklahoma. The often criticized Roy has gone from the most popular Cowboy to the most maligned. Whether it is due to weight gain, lost confidence or even putting his faith and religion over football (as some have suggested), Roy has lost a big step and is very vulnerable to tattoed tight ends and deep bombs over the middle.

The Natural: Terence Newman – 6th year – Kansas State. T-New became another member of the secondary to cash in on a huge contract and bonus. The interception totals won’t make your heart flutter (16 for his career) but he is a true shutdown corner with speed. A team leader and well respected across the league. Will start every game as long as he is healthy for the next 5 to 7 years.

The Beast: Anthony Henry – 8th year – South Florida. Henry is a big, physical corner who is solid in the run game and the pass game. Injury prone in his first 2 years here, but when he is on the field, he has shown to be a playmaker with a knack for the football. He was given a huge deal in free agency and has shown to be worth the investment to this point. He needs to stay healthy and not get frustrated by any possible positional changes to continue to live up to the deal.

Mr. Consistent: Ken Hamlin – 6th year – Arkansas. Hamlin was left on the trash heap for any team to have prior to last season. The Cowboys signed him to a one year deal and he turned that into a Pro Bowl season and a brand spankin new 6 year, 39 million dollar deal. He will anchor the secondary and play more of a hybrid free safety/strong safety role in the Phillips 3-4 this year. 

The Wild Card: Adam “Pac-Man” Jones – 3rd year – West Virginia. Oh, everyone knows the story, but as the 6th overall pick in the 2005 draft, no one questions the talent. If he can stay focused on football and stay away from the strip clubs and Hennessey, the Cowboys will have arguably the best group of cornerbacks in the entire NFL. Stay tuned.

The Rook: Mike Jenkins – 1st year – South Florida. Jenkins will be paid as a late first round pick that he was so the staff will likely look to get him on the field. He was a big part of a great season for the South Florida Bulls who rose as high as Number 2 in the nation last year. Projected as a higher pick than he was and Cowboys traded up to get him. Great speed and agility. Bright future in the league, but still a rookie and will most likely not be left on an island against any seasoned NFL receivers.

 

So now that we know the pieces to the puzzle, we should look at the puzzle itself. There has been great conjecture from the media and the fans alike that Roy will be cut in a salary cap move. I am not going to sit here and say that it absolutely will not happen, I just see it as very unlikely. Primarily due to depth and injury concerns. Ask yourself one simple question, would you rather have too many or not enough?  The base defense will most likely have Hamlin (FS), Williams (SS), and Henry and Newman. Simple enough, no breaking news there. The questions begin when you factor in how well Pacma…oops, Adam Jones performs in camp and if/when he is reinstated, and of course injuries as well as matchups. I would suggest, in my humble opinon, we get Henry some reps at free safety during camp and when we play a team like Cleveland with a prolific passing attack for example, have Henry back at free safety and bring in Adam Jones and Mike Jenkins in at corner and nickel back, respectively. When we play a team like Philadelphia or San Francisco, teams with a west coast offense and not much of a deep passing game, keep Roy in there with his physical presence and intimidation factor, and put Jones in at the nickel in passing situations. That is as long as Jones doesn’t beat out Henry for the starting cornerback job…..whew. I am tired after all that. The bottom line is Jerry Jones has paid all of the DB’s alot of money and they will be a huge part of our ultimate success. To whom much is given, much is expected.  

All I know is that I personally would rather have too much than not enough!

It should be a great season…..camp kicks off tomorrow and then the first practice is on Friday.

Cowboys Fan For Life – TD

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.

Its All About The W’s

More W’s Then Just The One For Win!

How about the one for WOW!

With Sunday’s heart stopping victory, The Cowboys brought home the NFC East Title for the first time since 1998. It most definitely wasn’t a pretty win and there may have been a little help from Lady Luck, But A Win is a Win. I’ll take it anyway they can get it.

Then theres the one for WADE!

Head Coach Wade Phillips has taken full blame for the flat performance that was shown by the Cowboys Defense. He claims he didn’t  fully prepare them for the run and had to try and readjust the defense to what the Lions were giving them. He also stated that Cowboys corner-backs Terrence Newman and Anthony Henry may have been rusty from the switch back to thier original positions in the back Field. With what he is saying only leads me to the next W.

which is WAKE UP DEFENSE!

There where a number of plays that lead me to believe that the Dallas defense was shell shocked by the way the Lions offense came out swinging. The defense has to be ready for anything any offense brings them. The backfield defense cannot be sitting back waiting on the receivers to catch the ball and come to them. They have to attack the ball.  One thing that stood out to me on the defense that made all the hype of Kitna’s comments from last year worth it was my next W

WARE!

With 3:22 left in the first quarter, Ware was penalized with a personal foul for ruffing the passer. It hurt the defensive stand but it was well worth it to see Ware slam Kitna on his butt after the film flam Kitna was saying last year of the defense. I thought for sure that would get the Dallas defense the spark it needed. I think it only lit a fire underneath Kitna. Thats the way it goes sometimes in the NFL. 

Last but certainly not least WITTEN

Despite a fourth-quarter fumble at the Lions’ one yard line on a drive that would have given Dallas the lead, Witten set a franchise record with 15 receptions and a career high 138 yards receiving. Only adding to his glory of the day Witten hauls in 4 of the last ten plays on there 83-yard game winning drive, the last of the four for the game sealing touchdown score! Truly the Best Tight-End in the NFL. He keeps playing like he is and that may turn into all of NFL History!

How Bout Dem Cowboys!!!!!!!

 

 

 

Injury Report: Week 11

Out:
WR Terry Glenn (knee)

Questionable:
G Leonard Davis (ankle)

Probable:
CB Anthony Henry (ankle)
WR Isaiah Stanback (shoulder)

Despite rumors of sightings of Terry Glenn in the Cowboys locker room, Terry Glenn is still OUT! And don’t expect to see him next week either. IF he comes back at all this season, it may not be until the playoffs.

Guard Leonard Davis sprained his ankle in practice on Wednesday. The good news is that he walked off the field on his own following the injury, the bad news is if he can’t play Cory Procter will take his place. Procter has never played a game at guard. Davis is a huge reason, Romo is having such a fantastic year.

Anthony Henry is slowly coming back from his ankle injury in late September. He has played in the last two weeks but has yet to start a game since the injury.

Rookie Isaiah Stanback is listed as probable after injurying his shoulder two weeks ago during his NFL debut. If they are not sure he can handle returns, then he will probably be inactive Sunday. Stanback took over Tyson Thompson’s job on special teams two weeks ago. Last week Austin Miles and Nathan Jones shared returns.

Just to clarify Tyson Thompson is not hurt. He has been demoted due to lack of production on special teams. In 2007, Thompson averages just 23.6 yards on kickoff returns, which isn’t bad but isn’t great either.

 

Injury Report: Week 10

Game Status:

Out
WR Terry Glenn (Knee) 

Doubtful 
N/A

Questionable 
WR Isaiah Stanback (Shoulder)

Probable
FB Oliver Hoyte (Neck)
CB Anthony Henry (Ankle)
S Pat Watkins (Ankle)

Rookie wide receiver Isaiah Stanback had his first start in the NFL last week and ended up suffering a shoulder injury that will likely leave him out for this game. It has not been announced if Tyson Thompson will get his kick return job back or if Miles Austin will get his shot.

Rookie fullback Deon Anderson was placed on thje Injured Reserve on Monday after a season ending rotator cuff injury incurred last Sunday. FB Oliver Hoyte is expected to play after missing the last six game with a neck injury.

Safety Pat Watkins sprained his ankle last week in the fourth quarter against the Eagles and has had limited practice this week.

 

Injury Report: Week 9

Game Status:

Out
WR Terry Glenn (Knee) 

Doubtful 
N/A

Questionable 
CB Anthony Henry (Ankle)

Probable
FB Oliver Hoyte (Neck)
LB Justin Rogers (Calf)

Anthony Henry is set to return after being out since the end of September. Henry practiced Thursday and Friday and is expected to play Sunday against the Eagles.

Terry Glenn is still not well and has yet to practice with the team. Hopes were high that he would return sometime after the Bye week but its not looking good for him. There are 9 games left so we still can’t rule him out for the year.

Oliver Hoyte and Justin Rogers are listed as probable. You may see the rookie linebacker Rogers on Special Teams Sunday. Hoyte has missed 5 games with a neck injury and probably will not see much action, if any.

 

Injury Report: Week 7

Game Status:

Out
WR Terry Glenn (Knee)
CB Anthony Henry (Ankle)

Doubtful
FB Oliver Hoyte (Neck)

Questionable
S Courtney Brown (Biceps)

Probable
S Keith Davis (Shoulder)

Anthony Henry is still out with that high ankle sprain. This will be his third week out, hopefully after the bye week coming up he can return in the following game against Philly. 

Keith Davis returned last week and made it through the game with some soreness. He should be active and ready to go on Sunday. 

Rookie safety Courtney Brown hasn’t played in a game yet, but we may get to see him in action this week.

There were worries about Tony Romo after hearing that he had a shoulder strain this past week. It was his non-throwing arm, no concern there and he was not on the injury report.

 

Injury Report: Week 6

Game Status:

Out
S Courtney Brown (Biceps)
WR Terry Glenn (Knee)
CB Anthony Henry (Ankle)

Doubtful
FB Oliver Hoyte (Neck)

Questionable
S Keith Davis (Shoulder)

Probable
LB Kevin Burnett (Leg)

Anthony Henry did not practice this week. With the high ankle injury he sustained, it may take more time to heal than first thought. It definitely would have been nice to have him for this big game. 

Keith Davis practice fully the last two days after a shoulder injury that kept him out of the last two games. Davis will be a game time decision.

Kevin Burnett has had bad luck with injuries this year. During the third quarter of the Bills game he took a helmet to the thigh and suffered some pain and bruising. He should be ready to play on Sunday. 

 

Injury Report: Week 5

Game Status:

Out
S Courtney Brown (Biceps)
WR Terry Glenn (Knee)
CB Anthony Henry (Ankle)

Doubtful
FB Oliver Hoyte (Neck)

Questionable
S Keith Davis (Shoulder)

Probable
LB Greg Ellis (Achilles)
CB Terence Newman (Foot and Knee)

With the temporary loss of the very productive Anthony Henry, we will finally get the chance to see Terence Newman back in his starting role. He had a good practice on Friday and we expect him to have a fairly decent game.

There are reports that Terry Glenn has started the rehab for his knee. If all goes well, he should be ready to play in 4 to 5 weeks.

Keith Davis hasn’t practice all week after a shoulder injury that kept him out of last week’s game against the Rams. Coach Phillips says Davis has a "50/50" chance of playing and will be a game time decision.

Greg Ellis had an excellent game last week and we expect he will only improve as the season progresses. You will probably only see him in the nickel defense as a pash rusher, until he heals more.