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Cowboys Defensive Coalition

Okay, so I’ve been a little absent this week. Some of it is for personal reasons, and some is because… well… its hard to get motivation after a loss. Either way I should know better. I should know that one loss in the first game of the season doesn’t mean shut everything down. It doesn’t mean we don’t still have a excellent chance to go all the way and it doesn’t mean we don’t have a great team.

At the beginning of the week someone tried to tell me that the defense didn’t look very hot. I stopped him mid-sentence… Are you freaking kidding me? That defense looked great. They kept us in the game until the very end. While holding Washington to only  two field goals isn’t a feat of genius it still is pretty damn good in a rivalry game such as Cowboys at Redskins.

Either way, I felt that a few underrated defensive stars really deserved some love. Due to my absence this week, I’m playing catch up and releasing five graphics for Cowboy fans to enjoy.

Let’s hear it for: Keith Brooking, Bradie James, Anthony Spencer, Mike Jenkins and Marcus Spears!

Random Observations

-Miles Austin is a GREAT receiver. He is elite. Period. Dez Bryant will make this offense unstoppable when he finally starts opposite Austin.

-2009 Ball State 3rd round pick Robert Brewster is still a year away from being an NFL caliber OT or G. Missing his rookie year due to injury, he just doesn’t have “it” yet. I would release him on the final cuts and try to get him back on the practice squad. If not, oh well. We need solid backups to survive this Super Bowl run.

-The tight end situation is terrible. It went from a strength on the team to a worry with John Phillips tearing his ACL. Although, if Sicko progresses this year, it gives us an out with Martellus Bennett should he continue his mundane play.

-Alex Barron needs coaching. Hudson Houck must change this guy’s bad habits or he will be a one and done as a Cowboy. You don’t pay good money for Pat McQuistan production.

-No way do you cut Deon Anderson. If you want Chris Gronkowski on the final 53, you must deplete another position’s depth and keep two fullbacks. Deon has been a fantastic blocker and a surprise threat out of the backfield as a receiver.

-David Buehler is doing a good job. Kickoffs, as usual, have been stellar. Touchback after touchback. Field goals have been good enough to keep believing in him. I love that he is working with Chris Boniol.

-Jon Kitna will be a solid backup should we, God forbid, need him to hold the fort for a few games.

-The linebackers on this team are off the hook. Our starters dominate. Bradie James and Keith Brooking will be the vocal leaders on this very strong defense. There are surprises such as Leon Williams that will make the final cuts a very hard job.

-Too much is being made of win/loss, Redzone failures and other trivial statistics in the preseason.

-5 preseason games could make you a tired team in January.

-Wade Phillips is awesome. His defense rocks and he has survived the headhunters of Dallas (media) through hell and back.

And So Another December Starts… Badly!!

So the Cowboys stood at 8-3. A two game lead over the NY Giants with an opportunity to send the Giants to a 6-6 record and pretty much end their season. We all know the December history with this team over the last three seasons and we have all heard the talk this past week. The Cowboys then open a 10-0 lead on the Giants late in the second quarter and well…that’s where it kind of ended.

The Cowboys took a 10-0 lead on the Giants with a nice Romo to Williams touchdown pass. They had the Giants just were they wanted them. The once mighty 5-0 Giants now at 6-5 and little or no confidence in the way they were playing. So what does the Dallas defense do when they have the Giants down? Well, you would think they would step on their throats and end it for them. But no, they allow the Giants to drive down the field and score to tighten the game to 10-7 and give the Giants some life.

Next possession for the Cowboys with a little over a minute left in the first half. The Cowboys try to answer the Giants touchdown, but then Marion Barber fumbles. The Giants take full advantage of the turnover and score the go ahead touchdown right before halftime. Dallas had the Giants on their knees begging for mercy, but just like in past seasons the Cowboys let a team off the hook and gave them life.

Third quarter…Romo leads the offense to the go ahead score on another touchdown to Williams, 17-14. You think the Dallas defense would try to respond once again. But….it took the Giants only one play to take the lead back. A short pass to Jacobs resulted in a 74 yard go ahead for good touchdown. Here is my question. How does the defense let something like this happen? I honestly thought the Dallas defense was still on the sideline after the kickoff. But then I saw Anthony Spencer, Bradie James and Gerald Sensabaugh. But Spencer might have well been on the sideline as Jacobs ran away from him like he was standing still.

Onto the fourth quarter as the Cowboys held the Giants to an all important field goal to keep the Giants lead to only seven points, 24-17. Although I must say that it really had nothing to do with the Dallas defense on the third down play as Steve Smith clearly beat Scandrick (That’s a surprise!!!), but dropped the pass.

Ok, you would think the Cowboys are in good shape as they are only down by seven points with a lot of time left in the game. So they get the ball back and what happens? Yes, three and out as Barber gains three yards on first down, Romo get an intentional grounding penalty which results in a lost down. And on third and 17 they can only manage a short gain to Witten.

Punt formation!!!! Ok, punt the ball and let’s get the ball back with plenty of time left. Nope!!!! Not going to happen. Hixon gets the ball and after three missed tackles (well, I kind of stopped counting at that point and proceeded to destroy my living room), Hixon scores on a 79 punt return to put the Giants up 31-17.

Once again the Cowboys get the ball back and start driving. They get to the Giants 36 yard line where Williams is beyond wide open down the right sideline and what does Romo do? He misses him on what would have been a touchdown. And two plays later they fail on a fourth down attempt.

Yes, Romo once again drove the Cowboys down the field for a score at the end of game that was already over, but it was just too late at that point. The Cowboys once again just gave up too many big plays and were not able to respond when they needed too. So, December of 2009 is underway and the Cowboys are now 0-1. They have fallen to 8-4 and are tied with the Eagles for first place with the Giants now only one game back.

What is ahead for the Cowboys. Oh, not much. Just four teams playing at the top of their game. Yes, even the Redskins who lost today, but still played one hell of a game against the Saints. Here is the rest of the schedule for the Cowboys….

San Diego, 8-3

at New Orleans, 12-0

at Washington, 3-9 (record will not matter)

Philadelphia, 8-4

At this point I honestly do not know what will happen the rest of the season. The way I am feeling right now (frustrated), I can take a guess, but I would rather not because it just makes me sick to my stomach. I would say I’m speechless, but I just read my own post and I guess I’m anything but speechless.

Packers Break Cowboys’ Winning Streak, Dallas Loses 17-7

The Cowboys winning streak came to a halt today as the Packers beat the Boys 17-7. It was a strong defensive game on both sides but penalties, injuries and missed opportunities ruined the day.

green bay dallas

The most painful thing to come from this loss will be the hole that Marc Colombo leaves on the offensive line. Colombo went down in the first quarter and later it was learned that he suffered from a broken fibula. Doug Free came in to replace Colombo and immediately failed to protect Romo.

There was an injury scare with Bradie James who returned to play, and Ken Hamlin left the game with an ankle injury.

Another stinger was an arm injury to corner Mike Jenkins. He returned to play but left again for good after a few minutes.

Tony Romo also took a beating from the Green Bay defense taking five sacks, while Aaron Rodgers was sacked 4 times by Dallas. Romo ended the day 24 of 29 completions, 251 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Roy Williams caught 5 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. Sounds good right? No, not really. He also fumbled what would have been a 41-yard completion along with a dropped pass that could have been a game changer.

Luckily the Cowboys were able to score a touchdown in the final seconds to avoid getting shutout for the first time since December 14, 2003.

The running game was basically nonexistent. The three-headed monster combined for a measly 45 yards.

Defensively things were looking pretty good, just not good enough when your offense can’t produce and injuries sideline your starters. DeMarcus Ware had two sacks and Bobby Carpenter and Stephen Bowen recorded one sack each. Jay Ratliff was quiet, however Anthony Spencer stepped up and made several great plays.

Dallas has to pray that their injuries aren’t as bad as they seem. Of course Colombo is likely out for the season, but Jenkins and Hamlin should be able to return.

The Cowboys move on with a 6-3 record, still leading the NFC East and come back home to play the Washington Redskins for the first time this season.

Balancing It Out

Yes there was only 1 football on the field at a time, but from the way Dallas looked this week and the way Tony Romo spread the ball around it sure didn’t look like it. Dallas had Seattle confused from the very beginning on what their game plan was and that was to dominate.

Tony Romo went 21/36 for 256 yards and 3 touchdowns with NO interceptions. Miles Austin had 5 receptions for 61 yards rushed for 11 yards and had a touchdown. Sam Hurd had just one reception but it went for 35 yards and a touchdown. Roy Williams finally had his first touchdown as a Dallas Cowboy with 2 receptions for 19 yards. Patrick Crayton had 39 yards receiving and returned a punt for a touchdown for the second week in a row. Jason Witten, Felix Jones, Kevin Ogletree and Martellus Bennett all had receptions for over 100 total yards.

Marion “The Beast” Barber had only 14 rushing attempts but went for 53 yards and a touchdown. Felix Jones had 8 attempts and pounded out 39 yards. Tashard Choice got in on the action with 4 rushes for 11 yards. The offense went for a total of 26 first downs in the game, with 17 of those coming in the first half alone. 15 of those first downs by passing and 7 of them by rushing. Our third down efficiency was at 53% with a total of 362 net yards. Time of possession was an astounding 34:45

th_newman-1Keith Brooking continued to make his statement towards defensive player of the year with 8 tackles and forcing 1 sack. Demarcus Ware once again had a strong game with 2 tackles and a sack and Bobby Carpenter refused to be overlooked and got in with 3 tackles and a sack. Terence Newman and Bradie James both had good games each forcing a fumble that was recovered by Dallas. With a total of 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and only allowing 79 rushing yards by previous Dallas Cowboys RB Julius Jones, holding the Seattle offensive possession time to 25:15 and only 17 points, the defense made a statement once again.

You hear all this talk about what division is the toughest in the league. If you look at the numbers it is an easy decision to make. the NFC east is the only division in the league to have 3 teams with at least 5 wins on the season. With 5 out of the next 4 games being on the road you could make the argument that Dallas has the toughest schedule to finish out the season but with the way they are coming together on both offense and defense, bring on the competition.

Sunday night is going to be a true test for Dallas when we play Philly for first place in our division. After we win that game and silence all the critics we make our way north to Lambeau field for a battle against the Green Bay Packers before we come back home against our long time rivals (I cringe every time I even say their name) the STRUGGLING Washington Redskins.

Although we are looking very strong at home, we need to prove to not only ourselves but all the critics out there that we can win on the road. Once we win Sunday night and take over first place, then come home after winning in Green Bay with a 3 game winning streak, maybe, JUST MAYBE, everyone will see that this year DALLAS IS ON A MISSION!!!!!

LET’S GO BOYS!!!!!!!

Weekly Game Balls: Week 4

Sometimes its hard to find anything positive from such a heartbreaking loss, however several players did play well and for that they deserve to be recognized.

This week’s offensive game ball goes to Sam Hurd.

Sam Hurd, who has been nearly invisible offensively this year, zig-zagged his way down the field on 4th and 3 to set up a chance for the Cowboys to win last Sunday.

Hurd finished the game with 62 yards on 3 catches. He made up most of those yards his 3rd catch, a 53-yard gain.

Sam was also thrown to twice in the final seconds but could not secure the ball. He was covered by the Pro Bowler Champ Bailey.

We are likely to see more of Sam Hurd with Roy Williams injured this week.

Star50

This week’s defensive/special teams game ball goes to Bradie James.

Bradie James was a beast out there. He helped give the Cowboys a chance in the game.

With the offense sputtering, the defense was needed to step up and Bradie led the way. With the exception of the Brandon Marshall touchdown (in which they couldn’t tackle), the defense gave Denver quarterback Kyle Orton all kinds of pressure.

James finished the game with 6 tackles with 2 assists. He also had 1 sack and a fumble recovery.

Star50

Congratulations to Sam and Bradie for their outstanding play.

That was a game the Dallas Cowboys should of won. Kansas City is next, hopefully the Cowboys will give us an overwhelming win and that should make it more satisfying to give out game balls next week.

Runners-up: The Entire Defense

Breaking Camp And Ready For Some Football

The Boys have left the Alamodome and are now preparing for some football in their new home. The consensus among the players is that this years camp was much tougher, and more focused than years passed, especially after last years circus.

Gone are the likes of Terrell Owens, and Adam “Pacman” Jones who always brought their own distractions wherever they went. And lets not forget about Jessica Simpson … or actually maybe we should. With her around it was clear to every fan that Romo’s head was never truly in the game. Hopefully this year he has his priorities straight, and his focus on the Lombardi Trophy. Oh yea and I almost forgot that other distraction that followed the entire team around last year, the HBO show “Hard Knocks”. It was fun to watch as a fan but if you think what it must of been like for the players being followed around all the time and every detail filmed. “It was a drama-free three weeks in San Antonio” reports KTBB.com, which is what we like to hear.

“This camp has been like two of the other camps put together. I haven’t heard anyone call this one cupcake,” linebacker Bradie James said.

Coach Wade Phillips wanted to push the team a bit more this camp, making sure they stay focused and to help them get stronger as a team.

“I am trying to do what helps this team. It’s a long season and the mental toughness is part of it,” Phillips said. “I say the mental part of it. When you get tired, that’s when the mental process comes in. I thought it was good for our guys. I think they have come through it well.

Phillips will have even more on his plate this season as he is also the teams defensive coordinator.

With camp ended the Cowboys stayed fairly healthy. They will be without Fullback Deon Anderson for some time after he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last week. But both corners Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman who have been a little banged up returned to practice and are set to go. Roy Williams wrist is improving and barring any set backs he should be fine as well.

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett will have a three headed monster in Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice to get the ball to. The idea is that Barber with use his brute strength to soften and beat down the defense, then have Felix use his speed to fly by and around them. Choice will get a few carries a game as well to give Barber and Jones a break. Garrett is looking to get the ball to Felix 12-15 times a game and doesn’t care if its by air in the passing attack or handing it to the speedster.

With so many weapons, and as long as everyone can stay healthy, the tougher camp and the time spent together could push the Cowboys back into the elusive playoffs, then watch out!!

Another Day In Cowboy Land

For the Dallas Cowboys and their fans the crack of pads, the ear splitting screech of whistles followed by the hollering of instructions usually signifies the approaching end to summer and the beginning of a new season. We are well into training camp with one pre-season game under our belts (shhh lets pretend that didn’t happen).

Roy WilliamsAs is expected and normal across most camps, the Cowboys have had their share of bumps and bruises but (knock on wood) nothing serious. We all held our breaths with the news of Roy Williams’s wrist injury, but the sprain only kept him out of practice for a day. His status for Friday night’s second pre-season game is unknown right now, but I would be surprised if he doesn’t get in for a drive or two.

The secondary got stronger as well with Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins back in practice. Jenkins missed about a week with a sprained right ankle.

Sporting News Today is reporting that backup quarterback Jon Kitna and center Cory Procter have been having trouble with the snap through out camp and it actually carried over to the game against the Raiders which resulted in a 16 yard loss on one play, and a missed field goal on the drive. Obviously it is still early and is something they will continue to work on. Let’s cross our fingers and hope Kitna wont be needed this season anyway.

Bradie James is looking to become a nice compliment to DeMarcus Ware and help take some pressure of him when they attack the quarterback. The Dallas Morning News reports that James had two sacks against the number two offensive line and showed some speed in doing so.

With the dismissal of Terrell Owens the offense is looking to use a two tight end set as another weapon this season. We all know what Jason Witten can do, and now with second year man Martellus Bennett as the second tight end these two make it very hard for opposing defenses to cover. Bennett is a big strong target with good hands and knows how to block as well. This duo is going to be hard to stop, watch out!!

Let’s see how things fare for the Boys on Friday night in their new stadium against the Titans. It will bring us one step closer to the regular season and the hopes and dreams of the Super Bowl.

Bradie Wants You to Join the James Gang

Three years ago after being a faithful Terry Glenn lover, I decided to change my favorite Dallas player to Bradie James. I’m not exactly sure what moment I realized Bradie was ‘the one’ but I just remember watching this guy and seeing how exciting and fun it was to see him make a tackle. I believe its fair to say Bradie has not let me down since I dubbed him my favorite current Cowboy.

Bradie James was the sixth drafted linebacker in the 2003 draft, being taken by the Cowboys in the 4th round. What a steal! Every year since being drafted his numbers have risen, with last season being his best thus far. In his 7 year career he has collected 13.5 sacks and last year alone he earned 8 of those. He also had a career high 116 tackles.

In 2007 Bradie’s teammates elected him defensive team captain and in 2008, when the NFL first allowed defensive radio helmets, he was chosen to wear the communication device.

James has started every game in the past 5 years without fail, and every season he becomes more and more of a leader for this team. He has embraced this leadership role by taking control on the field and speaking to the media off the field. We all know how much the Cowboys are in the media and it’s comforting to know that James is a vocal and honest voice who takes pride in his team.

Bradie established Foundation56 in 2007, a foundation dedicated to fight breast cancer, in honor of his beloved mother whose life was taken in 2002. He also helps kids in his hometown of West Monroe, LA by hosting a youth football camp every summer.

This summer Bradie James has gone above and beyond with “James Gang Back-to-School Jam Pack Contest”. Not only was Bradie raised by a teacher, but he always excelled academically and realizes the importance of education.

“I’ve always done my football camps in the summertime. But I’m trying to attack it from an academic standpoint, because when you go to college, you’re not just an athlete, you’re a student athlete. My whole message is if you can compete on the football field, or the basketball court or whatever your respective sport is, you need to compete in the classroom.”

The James Gang Back-to-School Jam Pack Contest is giving away backpacks, school supplies and Cowboys memorabilia to ten lucky students. Two students will also receive an autographed #56 jersey. Those wishing to register can learn more and sign up at BradieJames.net.

Oh how I wish I was a student again…

I look forward to many more years cheering this lifetime Cowboy on. His contract runs out in 2011 but if he continues to play like he has his first 7 years, I’m positive Jerry will keep him a Cowboy for life. These days it’s extremely hard to find a dedicated, passionate leader who speaks up for the team and continues to improve his game every season. We have definitely found that in #56.

Here’s to many more prosperous years of Bradie James leading the way.

Am I allowed to be excited in June about the Cowboys Defense?

So I keep reading about all these different things the Cowboys are doing with their defense during the OTA’s. If one thing is certain it’s that Wade Phillips knows defense. I made comments to people late last season that the defense was playing different when Wade took control from Brian Stewart. They seemed to be moving around more and attacking more.

Today I’m reading things like DeMarcus Ware lining up on the left side along side new starter Anthony Spencer. Ware also lined up as what looked like a defensive end in a 4-3 defense.

Bradie James also lined up as a defensive end attacking from the outside.

Gerald Sensabaugh lurking at the line of scrimmage to maybe blitz or maybe to pick up the tight end or running back.

Everyone attacking from all over the field. I also have a very good feeling about the Dallas secondary this season. If they can play more man-to-man defense and play it well then that will allow the defensive front to continue to attack. They might even have a chance to break last seasons sack total of 59.

Bradie James…

“We have guys just attacking,” James said, somewhat satisfied with the aggressive nature of this defense. “This is how a 3-4 is supposed to be. I don’t know that you can call this a 3-4 after all this.

“It’s a multiple defense.”

“You want to be aggressive and not stand around,” James said of some of the more unusual formations being used on the nickel and dime. “We’re doing a lot of different things, different schemes.”

“We never would do that last year,” James said of all the movement the defense was showing. “(Phillips) was still learning the personnel. We can do different things with Bobby (Carpenter) and Spencer and D. Ware.”

I think the defense will be faster this season with the additions of Gerald Sensabaugh, Michael Hamlin, Mike Mickens and DeAngelo Smith. As well as Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick taking over for Anthony Henry and Anthony Spencer taking over for Greg Ellis

Wade Phillips…

“Things we ran today are fairly complicated and we didn’t make many mistakes today,” said Phillips, who did suggest the possibility of playing more man coverage this year. “Play a little more man and maybe more blitz stuff.

“We’re a pretty good pressure team with all the movement we have.”

On a negative note for the defense. One of the schemes the Cowboys ran during practice while defenders were blitzing and mixing up coverages, there was DeMarcus Ware running 30 yards up the middle of the field chasing who? Felix Jones, and guess who won that contest? Ware needs to move around and do what he does best, rush the QB.

Yes, I’m excited in June to read all of these things about the Cowboys defense. I can’t wait to see this all in action. Attacking week in and week out. Pressure, Pressure, Pressure for 60 minutes. Could this be the newest version of the Doomsday Defense? Let’s hope so.

Cowboys Extra Points: Bradie, Bullet Bob and Country Music

extrapts2Cowboys Stadium will host it’s first event this Saturday. George Strait and Reba McEntire will be in concert at the billion dollar home of the Dallas Cowboys. If you are a Cowboys fan and a country music fan this is the perfect opportunity to visit the new stadium. Tickets are still available, click here for prices.

NFL.com lists the “Top 10 players not in the Hall of Fame” and has former Cowboys wide receiver “Bullet” Bob Hayes ranked at number 5. Someone should tell them he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year and will be inducted on August 8.

Another list on NFL.com recognized Bradie James in a feature story naming great linebackers.

Bradie James, Dallas — James follows the format of how to ideally play the strong side, inside linebacker position in a 3-4. James is frequently responsible for taking on the lead block and he is a violent knee buckler, whether it’s a guard, fullback or trapping tight end. Besides playing his role responsibly, James also has been Dallas’s top tackler for the past three seasons. He had a career-best 116 tackles last season and he added eight sacks, a very high total for an inside backer.

 

 

Around the League

Eagles running back Brian Westbrook is scheduled to have surgery on his ankle tomorrow. The procedure is aimed to clean up bone spurs and there is no time table for his expected return.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger limped off the practice field yesterday morning after tweaking his knee. The team declined to comment but indications are its not serious.

While quarterback Kerry Collins holds the reins in Tennessee, Vince Young is looking to take over and return to the field. Young says he wants out of Tennessee if he’s not the starter. Titans coach Jeff Fisher says Young will have to earn the starting role but as of now Collins is the starter.

Although I’m not looking to earn any bad karma, I would just like to say those are three things we should be happy we do not have in Dallas right now – star running back injury, quarterback injury and quarterback controversy.

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