It Is Not Time to Panic Cowboy Fans

Good Afternoon Cowboys Fans:

I am over the initial shock now of last weeks “drubbing” at the hands of the St. Louis Rams, a team in all actuality should not have been on the same field with the Cowboys.

I sometimes think expectations are a little high in Dallas from the fan base and especially from Jerry Jones. At the start of the season all the NFL analysts, “armchair quarterbacks” and sports reporters across the country had already penciled in the Cowboys to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. They got off to a fast, 3-0 start and everyone was on the bandwagon. Then the Redskins came to town in week four and kind of humbled us. Two weeks later, the Cowboys went to the desert to play the Arizona Cardinals and quite frankly I think were beaten in all three aspects of the game (offense, defense, and special teams)… and the Cardinals’ played with much more intensity.

After the shameful exhibition the Cowboys put on last week in St. Louis, there has many a doubt surfaced as to whether the Cowboys can even make the playoffs, much less fulfill the pre-season Super Bowl expectations. All the people want to talk about is the plethora of injuries, a cancer at corner and a ticking time bomb at wide receiver, and most skeptics do not believe the Cowboys can overcome all this adversity and once again climb that mountain to become a Super Bowl contender. I am not one of those skeptics… and here are a few reasons why:

Brad Johnson even though he did not show it in St. Louis last week is not a typical back-up quarterback. You will not see him panic under pressure and run out of the back of the end zone for a safety. He will be the first to admit his arm strength and some of his talent has eroded over the course of his 17 year tenure, but I think he can still manage a game as good as anyone. I think if Cowboy’s Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett will not take as many “shots” down the field, but instead put Johnson in position to make plays and minimize the risk. We have to live with the fact Romo is hurt right now and get past the next 2-3 weeks. Johnson has a Super Bowl ring and still knows what it takes to win.

MB3 what can you say? He truly is a work of art and shows the heart of lion every time he straps on the star. Barber does not have the size of a Larry Johnson, (Kansas City) or a Frank Gore, (San Francisco). He is certainly not the fastest back in the NFL, but no one plays with as much heart as MB3. At this point in the season, Barber is my odds on favorite for MVP of the Cowboy’s offense.

As an opposing Defensive Coordinator, I would lose some sleep at night trying to come up with a game plan to stop the Cowboy’s offense. With T.O., Patrick Crayton, and now newly acquired Roy Williams, the Cowboy’s should have the best 3 receiver combination in the league. Now throw in Jason Witten and when the opposing Defensive Coordinator does get to sleep, it turns to nightmares. Over the next 2-3 weeks until Romo gets back and playing Brad Johnson, who has weaker arm strength, the long ball is not as big a factor. I am still convinced if Jason Garrett and Brad Johnson control the game clock with long time consuming drives and big doses of Barber, while complimenting him with 15-20 yd outs to the receivers and some across the middle plays to Witten, the Cowboys can play with almost any defense in this league. When Romo returns then “hell’s fury” will be unleashed in Dallas again!!

It was tough losing Felix Jones for a few weeks to the hamstring, but Cowboy fans don’t count out Tashard Choice. I had the brief opportunity to watch Choice when he was at the University of Oklahoma. Unfortunately, he transferred shortly after when it was apparent the writing was on the wall. A RB named Adrian “AD” Peterson came to town and Choice’s chances of playing the next 2-3 years at OU were going to be almost non-existent. He transferred to Georgia Tech and became a 3 year star. I think Choice was a steal in the 4th round and will produce big numbers for yrs to come in Dallas. Choice does not have the blazing speed or pass catching ability of Jones, but he has better vision and lower body strength. Combine that with the power of MB3 and they should beat, bruise and batter any defense.

Jason Witten has always been Tony’s security blanket and for next few weeks he should be the same for Brad Johnson. I think he is the best TE in the game today. I think linebackers and safeties don’t have the agility to stay with Witten and I am convinced most corners do not have the size or certainly the strength to matchup with him either. If they slow down the game with Johnson, I think Witten will be a major player in the next few weeks until Romo returns.

After Romo took a beating at the tune of 20 times in Arizona and broke his finger, everyone started pointing their fingers at the Cowboy’s offense line. However, no one pointed at the receivers for getting locked up in coverage or Romo for double-pumping to many times in the pocket. I did not see Tony one time in that game just take off and go get a 1st down.

The Cowboys have some Pro-Bowlers (Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis and Flozell Adams) on their offensive line, and the entire unit going into the St. Louis game had only given up 7 sacks. Keep in mind too, that the Cowboys have lost starting LG Kyle Kosier for most of the season. Even though Proctor has done well, he is still not a healthy Kosier.

Defensively DeMarcus Ware is a beast and despite drawing double teams all the time still leads the team in sacks with six (6), and is second on the team in tackles (32). What is so impressive about Ware is that he can play from the left side or the right side. In addition, he has the ability to rush the passer, defend the run and run with backs and tight ends in pass coverage. 

In addition, I have always believed the best way to protect a weak secondary is to blitz, rush the corners, blitz and rush the corners some more. Just the other day, I was talking to my good buddy, BIG, which incidentally besides me, just might be the biggest Cowboy fan I know! He said we have to keep pressure on the opposing quarterback and force turnovers. With the depleted secondary, the DEs’and LBs’ have to step up and make the big plays. I believe that other than long 3rd downs, we are foolish to sit back and play zone coverage. The Cowboys only have 15 sacks for the season and with that kind of talent up front they should be way ahead of that total.

D.Ware has a third of them himself and he is always double-teamed. Chris Canty and Marcus Spears have to collapse the pockets which should allow Greg Ellis and Kevin Burnett to blitz more. Heck I am not even opposed to seeing Zach Thomas or Bradie James blitz some from the inside linebacker position. I would think that would be some kind of a secret weapon, because I doubt many Defensive Coordinators expect to see a blitzing Zach Thomas.

The indefinite suspension of Adam “Pacman” Jones was kind of sad, but a hell of a lot more embarrassing in my opinion. Not to mention a major distraction to the team this early in the season. I don’t think that it is nearly as significant as the lingering injuries to Terrence Newman though, who is expected to be out at least another month. I do think when he returns (if it is not too late), the Cowboys will be ready to make the run.

A lot of people don’t like Anthony Henry, but he is a big and certainly physical corner, and I think Mike Jenkins has shown some promise already. I watched Jenkins many times in college and he is a “big time” playmaker. He just needs time to graduate from the college to the NFL level and that kind of leap takes time.

Where I think we are hurting in the secondary is in the nickel and dime corner package. I think if they would utilize Orlando Scandrick more and continue to get more help from the blitz packages; it will in turn make that part of our defense even better. Losing SS Roy Williams was a blow because he is also such a “run stuffer”, but injuries are part of this game and Pat Watkins, Pro Bowl FS Ken Hamlin will have to step up and make big plays. Something I would like to see more of is too is punishing the opposing receivers more after the catch. I think this secondary has lost a lot of respect, especially because the secondary is giving up way to many balls over the middle. In the past, when an opposing receiver came over the Cowboy’s middle, they became a sacrificial lamb! 

The bottom line is this Cowboy fans:

“Don’t Panic”!

We will still make the Playoffs!!

I am more concerned in getting that “monkey off our back” and winning that playoff game once we get there. Have a great Sunday everyone and GO COWBOYS!!

Some Players Are Worth The Gamble. Emmitt Sure Was.

The 52-17 drubbing of Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVII wasn’t as close as the score indicated. It should have been 59-10. Buffalo’s Frank Reich was beyond the line of scrimmage when he released the ball completing the pass to Don Beebe for 40 yards and a touchdown. Beebe later stripped Leon Lett of the ball at the last second on a 64 yard fumble return. The ball rolled through the end zone for a touchback. Dammit.

The offseason between ’92 and ’93 was pretty sweet. Cowboys fans were smiling and smiling big. Super Bowl XXVII was in the books, the Cowboys were on top again. The planets were finally aligned once again. There was no doubt this team would repeat. Who could possibly beat them?

In 1993 Free Agency was a new thing. I don’t think fans had a real grasp on how it would change the game. Most players no longer spent careers with one team. But rest assured agents DID know how Free Agency would impact things, especially their own bank accounts. A bitter contract dispute between Emmitt Smith and Jerry Jones was immanent. Most headlines read things like "Trouble In Paradise" and basically predicted a team headed for self-destruction. Smith was offered $2.2 million. He wanted $4 million. He held out. There were rumblings about egos. Mainly Jerry Jones’ and Jimmy Johnson’s egos. Out of the gate Dallas was 0-2. How could this be happening??

January 2, 1994. Anyone remember that day? Last game of the 1993 regular season. Giants vs. Cowboys. Meadowlands. Winner is NFC East Champs. Ring a bell yet? In the second quarter Emmitt separated his shoulder after a long run. I think it was about a 40 yarder. None of us knew the severity of the injury at the time. But as the game progressed it was very obvious. He couldn’t even get up after a tackle without help from his teammates. He was in tears on the sideline. His arm just hung beside his body. He never stopped running. He never stopped fighting.

At the end of that game Emmitt Smith had taken over the game offensively. My memory of that day is pretty vivid but I could be wrong about exacts. I’m sure I have it on video somewhere. Bottom line is, Emmitt was a warrior. The game went into overtime because of Emmitt. The game was won because of Emmitt. The Cowboys didn’t lose another game that year(actually they didn’t lose another game after Thanksgiving). They started 0-2 WITHOUT Emmitt.

I remember 3 years earlier, Emmitt Smith, the rookie, was holding out in training camp. I sent a letter to The Dallas Cowboys Weekly saying things like "Who does this guy think he is??".. "He’s unproven!" You get the gist of it. At the time it felt totally justified. He WAS unproven! Sure he broke like a million records as a Florida Gator but this was the NFL baby! He was not worth the money he was asking! Obviously I didn’t have a crystal ball. The letter was printed in the following week’s "Letters to the Editor". Therefore I’m immortalized, IN PRINT, saying Emmitt Smith isn’t worth the money.

Well, 18,355 yards and 164 touchdowns later, I’m pretty sure Emmitt Smith was worth the money.

The moral of this story is this:

We’re now asking ourselves is Marion Barber worth the money. Again, I have no crystal ball. I can’t compare him to Emmitt Smith. That’s not fair to Marion. Smith is a once-in-a-lifetime back. But Marion Barber has earned respect of Cowboys fans across the nation. His reckless style is both scary and inspiring to watch. His desire is unquestionable. His refusal to go down without a serious fight deserves recognition.

Is Marion Barber worth more than $30 million? I don’t know. But I don’t think the Cowboys can win that 6th trophy without him. With him, I think the Cowboys can not only win a 6th, but probably a 7th as well. Would that be worth more than $30 million? We would all ,in unison, say "YES!!". But Jerry Jones has the bankbook. What we should do as fans is not speculate what Barber is "worth" and just hope an agreement is met and we have "The Barbarian" for many years to come.