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An Early Look at the NFC

We have been waiting and waiting for months. Now the wait is just about over. The Cowboys report to training camp tomorrow and their first practice is Saturday. As the next week goes by all the other teams will also open up training camps and most will have their sights set on Super Bowl XLV in Cowboys Stadium next February. It’s the start of a new season with new hopes and dreams. So who are the favorites in 2010 and who will be the disappointments? Here is an early look at the NFC.

NFC Favorites

  1. New Orleans. The Saints need to be at the top of the list simply because they are the defending Champions. Someone needs to knock them off the top of the mountain. As far as talent and leadership the Saints are no different from last season. They are explosive on offense, which helps when it comes to their 25th ranked defense.
  2. Minnesota.They are rated above the Cowboys because of how easily they beat the Cowboys in the playoffs. Most people are tired of the so called “Favre Watch”, but if he comes back they will still have a potent offense. If Favre shocks everyone and retires, then the Vikings as a team fall a few spots in the rankings. Their defensive line is one of the best, if not the best in the league, but their secondary is suspect at times.
  3. Dallas. No major changes for the Cowboys during the off-season. They have the talent in place on offense and defense to go along with some playoff experience. Tony Romo had a great 2009 season, minus the Giants game early in the season. I think the offensive line will be fine with Doug Free taking over for Flozell Adams. The major question is how will Alan Ball be at safety?
  4. Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers has become one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He has a lot of offensive weapons to choose from as long as his offensive line can protect him. The defense played very well last season as they went from a 4-3 to a 3-4. A few losses in 2010 on defense like Johnny Jolly and Aaron Kampman may hurt them.
  5. NY Giants.I tried my best to find another team in the NFC I could put at number five, but I kept coming back to the Giants. Eli Manning seems to always find the open receiver when he needs a big play and they Giants have a lot of weapons at receiver. Was Brandon Jacobs really hurt in 2009? That will be the big question for this offense in 2010. The defense just seemed to give up last season as they allowed over 40 points in three of the last four games. That prompted the Giants to hire new defensive coordinator in Perry Fewell.

 

Disappointments

  1. Philadelphia.Franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb was traded in the off-season. No more Brian Westbrook in the backfield. I think the Eagles are going to take a step back in 2010. They are handing the offense to unproven quarterback Kevin Kolb. Their defense is not the force it once was as the Cowboys showed in beating them in back-to-back weeks, outscoring the Eagles 58-14.
  2. Arizona.The Cardinals lost their heart when Kurt Warner retired after last season. Matt Leinart has done nothing that says he can lead this team. They also lost dependable receiver Anquan Boldin to free agency. The defense lost a few pieces as well with the departures of linebacker Karlos Dansby and safety Antrel Rolle.
  3. Chicago.I’ve read a lot of good things about the Bears this off-season. How Jay Cutler is going to be better now that new offensive coordinator Mark Martz is there. How the signing of Chester Taylor and Julius Peppers has improved the team. But head coach Lovie Smith likes to run the ball and Mike Martz likes to throw the ball. Could be an issue as the season moves along and the winter weather enters the picture. The question is also whether Peppers really wants to be in Chicago or was it the money that attracted him there?

Interesting

  1. Detroit.I’m interested in seeing the Lions this season. I know they have combined for only two wins the last two seasons, but this team has some talent. Especially on offense with Matthew Stafford going into his second season and Calvin Johnson becoming one of the best receivers in the league. Stafford also has a quality tight end in Tony Scheffler to go to now. The Lions drafted speedy Jahvid Best to ignite the running game. On defense they added cornerback Chris Houston, defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch and defensive tackle Corey Williams through free agency. The Lions also added defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who was the second overall pick in the draft.

2010 Opponents Announced

The NFL has released the opponents for the 2010 NFL season.

Cowboys will face the AFC South along with its usual lineup.

Home games
NY Giants, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Detroit, Jacksonville, Tennessee, New Orleans

Away games
NY Giants, Philadelphia, Washington, Green Bay, Minnesota, Houston, Indianapolis, Arizona

Back To Reality

Dallas Cowboys Green BayWell Cowboys fans, it looks like we were hit with a dose of reality Sunday in Green Bay. The Cowboys offense did not show up to play and once again we are left wondering why?

It seems that when the Cowboys play teams they are supposed to beat, the other teams ends up looking like world beaters.

We had no running game to speak of (gaining only 61 yards) and Tony Romo went 24 for 39 passing, for only 251. We were left wondering what happened to Miles Austin (4 catches for 20 yards). We seen Roy Williams have his best day statistically as a Cowboy yet we seen him fumble on a 42 yard completion and he dropped another pass that he should have caught down the sideline.

We had an injury on the offensive line as Columbo went down to a broken fibula and high ankle sprain, Mike Jenkins went out with a deep bicep bruise and Ken Hamlin was lost to a high ankle sprain as well.

The day was not a good one, but now we have to regroup and beat the Washington Redskins this weekend.

This would have been a great day to get a win as the Eagles lost to San Diego and the Giants were on a bye week, however we are left with the fact that we are still in first place for now.

Lets just hope that the Redskins do not look like super bowl champs this coming weekend and leave us again wondering why?

Romo to Williams Finally Connected

Roy WilliamsRoy Williams stirred up a little controversy this past week saying the balls Romo was throwing to him were all over the place.

Well Sunday night against Philadelphia they finally connected. It was not a ton of catches nor was it for a ton of yards, but it was nice to see Williams catch five for 75 yards. It was great to see Williams thrust his hand forward after making a first down.

I am not sure what the issues were, but the extra work put in at practice must have helped. Maybe it was the fact the Miles Austin was drawing double coverage and that left Williams one on one or maybe it was Williams running crisper routes and getting open. Whatever it was, it was great to see.

Hopefully we will continue to see the Romo to Williams connection and hopefully it will account for more touchdowns.

The Cowboys are learning to play well together in all phases of the game. That becomes more evident along the way as we ride this four game winning streak.

Next up are the Cheeseheads from Green Bay lets show them how our team can play. GO COWBOYS!!!

Another Chapter In Farve’s Legacy?

Well nfl.com has reported that the Vikings and Brett Farve are meeting later in the week. If this deal happens then the nightmare that Green Bay tried to avoid last year is on the verge of striking and will strike hard.

Here is the video that was on the nfl website.

Brett Farve Meeting With Vikings.

So what do all of you think about the possible return of Brett Farve let me know I’m interested in hearing everyones outlook on this and for me personally I would like to see him back for one more year and show Green Bay why they shoulda let him do his thing for one or two more years, because only he knows when he needs to retire.

Chiefs Sign Former Cowboys TE Tony Curtis

As reported by dallascowboys.com, The Kansas City Chiefs have signed Tony Curtis to fill in a roster spot left open when they traded Tony Gonzales to Atlanta.

The Kansas City Chiefs announced the signing of former Cowboys tight end Tony Curtis today. Curtis was one of five restricted free agents for the Cowboys this season, but the team did not submit a tender offer for the former undrafted free agent.

Curtis came to the Cowboys after the 2005 draft and spent more than a year on the team’s practice squad. He had a short stint on the active roster in 2006, then went to NFL Europe in 2007.

A 6-5, 251-pound project out of Portland State, Curtis may best be remembered for his three catches in 2007, all of which went for touchdowns. He proved versatile as a blocker this season, filling in for injured fullback Deon Anderson against Green Bay in Week 3.

It was Curtis who blew his assignment on the blocked punt against Arizona that not only cost the Cowboys the game, but put Mat McBriar out for the season. He began the season as the usual No. 2 tight end, but eventually saw his playing time decreased as rookie Martellus Bennett matured in the offense.

The Chiefs had previously met with Cowboys unrestricted free agent safety Keith Davis this off-season, but the special teams captain left without an offer.

Cowboys – Steelers: Good vs. Evil

As regular readers of LonestarStruck.com surely expect, this is where I’d usually post some random news and/or talk a little smack about our upcoming opponents. Considering this week’s game is against longtime rival the Pittsburgh Steelers, I’m sure many of you thought I’d unveil a masterpiece along the lines of “29 Reasons Dallas is better than Pittsburgh” or “Top Ten motorcycles that have thrown Ben Roethlisberger on his head.”

Sorry to disappoint.

I tried to do something like that but my heart wasn’t in it. Don’t misunderstand, I hate the Steelers, more than any team not from New York or Washington or a team that has a coach whose best wardrobe consists of cut up sweatshirts. But at the same time, I also have to respect them. When you look at the NFL, there are really two teams which stand out as the crown jewel franchises. One of course is the Cowboys while the only other choice has to be the Steelers.

Whenever a team is successful, you’ll find a segment of the country jumping on the bandwagon trying to feel like winners. This allegiance is always short-lived, ending as soon as said team stops winning Super Bowls. In the late 80s, 49er gear was all over the place. Has anybody bought red and gold merchandise in over a decade? When Green Bay and Denver had their brief moments in the spotlight, they garnered a smattering of nationwide support but most of that was pity and none of it was sustained over the years. As for the most dominant team of the 00s, nobody outside of New England cares one iota about the Pats except to hate them.

The only two truly national franchises are the Cowboys and the Steelers. People say that since the Cowboys call themselves “America’s Team“, that is typical of a an arrogant organization, it is also true you’re just as likely to find a Cowboy fan in Bangor, Maine or Butte, Montana as in Dallas, Texas. Likewise, “the Steeler Nation” extends far and wide as is evidenced by the waves of Black and Gold which invade road stadiums in numbers like no other.

So why do I hate them? Why can’t I establish mutual respect and leave it at that? Why does Batman hate the Joker? Why does Superman enjoy punching Lex Luthor in the mouth?

Why?

I think it might be because we are the same, but opposite. One is summer while the other is the winter. One is light while the other is dark. One is good while the other is evil. I think you can figure out which is which.

The Cowboys have always been “prime time and flash” filled with red carpet superstars. In fact we have been known to have players named “Primetime and Hollywood”. The Steelers on the other hand have always symbolized blue collar, hardworking, get your hands dirty type of team.

 Now I know the Cowboys have always been known as “one player is the franchise” or “one player is the centerpiece of our team” as most say was evident in Tony Romo this year or Terrell Owens last year going down and sent the team into a tailspin. Well, I will admit that in the 1990’s Jerry Jones put all his eggs basically in one basket when he created “the triplets”, but all they did was win 3 Super bowls in 4 years! The Steelers on the other hand have always been known as a franchise that prided themselves on one of the lowest salaried organizations and still produced great teams. They have always been about the whole being more than the sum of the parts. We may be a team known as a culture of individualism, but in the end we have as many pieces of hardware as the Steelers!

Many believe that Jerry Jones is the most arrogant irritating jackass of any owner in the NFL and you know there might be some truth to that. Jerry will admit that he and his Cowboys love living on Broadway. What is so wrong about having a team, a business, or anything that is the best it can be. The Cowboys are known worldwide in every walk of life. If you get TV or media print, you know the Dallas Cowboys!!

The Steelers say they rid themselves of evil before it tries to embed it self into their locker room or franchise. That is why the troubled Plaxico Burress is now the Giant’s problem. The Cowboys on the other hand seem to surround themselves with the “Tank” Johnsons. the “Pacman” Jones and others to just name a few. I like to think Jerry gives a great football player a second chance. Does it always work out? No not all the time but more times than not they have come to Dallas, had successful careers and ended up in Canton.

So Steeler fans, you can talk about your pure franchise, your subtle business-like owner with his “spend no money” style. I will not sit here and “knock” your team and say it is not one of most storied NFL franchises’ in the history of Pro Football. I would be crazy to think such thoughts. Just don’t knock ours because we were built on oil and not steel mills. We love Broadway and you love Pea Nut Butter sandwiches. 

Look, the moral of this story is just this. Sometimes good wins but occasionally evil is triumphant. In Super Bowl XXX  Michael Irvin and his band of madmen (as Steeler fans want to call us) handed the Steelers their lone Super Bowl defeat when as legend tells us Christian gentlemen/future astro turf salesman Neil O’Donnell was paid off by Jerry Jones threw two badly timed interceptions. Steeler fans want to believe that we are still paying for that win as we’ve never won another. That’s all fine, but after this weekend when we go into the house that steel built and beat the Steelers up; Good will then be expressed as Great and Evil will be known as “I wish I played for the Cowboys!

GO Cowboys!!  31-20

If there was ever a time to rally the troops…

Hard to see this one coming. Think back to Sunday night September 21. Dallas was rolling over Green Bay in Lambeau. Tell me you didnt at least have the thought of an undeafeated season in your head. Best team in NFC AND NFL. Make your reservations for Tampa.  Hard to believe that was only six short weeks ago. 

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  

Now 5-4 and in last place in the NFC East and, as hard as it is to believe, the playoffs are far from a sure thing.  Sure the starting QB missed some games. Terrence Newman & Felix Jones being out hurt too.  But all of the Cowboys woes can’t be placed on injured players being out.  There were plenty of signs in the Arizona game that this team was flawed. All this talent and 5 wins in 9 games ?  Where do we go from here?

After all the injuries, poor play and coaching, the PacMan Jones saga and a rough start in the division the season can still be saved!!  One win in Washington can save the season.  Next Tuesday the practice field should look more like the 2008 Cowboys were supposed to:  Romo, Newman, Kosier, F. Jones, A. Spencer and Roy Williams.  Two weeks to rally the troops.  Two weeks to save the season!

From Where I’m Sitting:

-Brad Johnson.  Seems like a nice guy.  Too bad his last NFL pass had to be an interception.

-Finally hit me after 8 weeks yesterday how big a loss the Kyle Kosier is.  Without trying I saw Cory Procter get beat 4 times yesterday

-I really hope that we didn’t waste a first round pick on Roy Williams for 3 catches. I understand that it is unfair to judge him on 3 games with Brad Johnson but lets hope he can make more plays with Romo

-What was Mike Jenkins thinking on the last Giants TD run? 

-I know I’m reaching but did anyone else want to see an onside kick at 28-14?

-I say it every week that I love MB3…but we sure do miss Felix Jones

-Not sure that Witten had a catch yesterday…but man it should say something that he even gave it a go yesterday with a bye coming up..

The Cowboys? Is it Crisis Mode or is it Only Memorex?

Good morning Cowboy fans:

We are six weeks into this season; I have to ask all the Cowboy faithful the same question I kept asking myself over and over yesterday? Is this Dallas Cowboy’s team already in crisis mode or is it only Memorex? As the sun comes up over Valley Ranch this morning, I don’t think the 30-24 overtime loss on Sunday to the Arizona Cardinals will go over very well.

The Cardinals?

Seriously?

I believe I can safely say that is not the Cardinal’s team of old. I watched a Cardinal’s team that did not fear the mighty Cowboys and may have set precedence around the league that no team needs to again.

Was that the case at University of Phoenix Stadium?

I just kept asking myself that same thing. When my cell phone began ringing right after the game, all I could tell people was “I don’t know, they’re not the same Cardinals everybody is used to beating up on”.

The bigger question might be reversed: Who exactly are these Cowboys? All seemed fine in early September, with wins coming against Cleveland, Philadelphia and Green Bay. All of a sudden comes a slip-up at home against Washington, and followed up by a totally uninspired win against the Bengals.

Earlier this week the talk around the NFL began with story lines like, “Coach Wade Phillips isn’t tough enough”, “T.O. wants more touches and the star of the NFL’s Bad Boys “Pacman” Jones is showing off his old TNT wrestling skills in one of Dallas’s finer hotels, drawing headlines across the nation”.

Naturally, when Dallas started slow in the desert, I concluded that the Cowboys were distracted, haunted by a week of controversy. After the game, it turned into a main storyline from the west coast to the east coast and all parts in between. Are the Cowboys now in crisis mode or this picture only Memorex?

I personally think that this is a big misconception that stuff like that can affect a pro team. Jerry Jones’s Cowboys dealt with all that type of hype in 1990s’ and still walked away with three Super Bowl titles.

The thing that I am finding so hard to understand is that the Cowboys own one of the league’s best offenses and ran on seven cylinders most of the time yesterday. Now I know Tony threw for 321 yds and three touchdowns, but he also fumbled three times while losing one. T.O. only caught four passes. Jason Witten got more attention for false-start penalties until he caught the 30-yard pass just before Nick Folk kicked the 52-yard field goal to send the game into overtime.

What exactly happened to that high-octane offense?

You got me on that one!

Was it the special teams that gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown so quick that a lot of fans were still standing in the pre-game concession line? The same specials team, incidentally that allowed the game-sealing blocked punt? Was it a much uninspired Tony Romo and Terrell Owens that looked like they both wanted to be somewhere else? How about the offensive line that spent more time picking Romo up off the ground than they did picking up on-coming Cardinal rushers?

Through it all, I will try to add some perspective to yesterday’s game. I will give the Cardinals credit for a nice win, and I can only hope this game was a real eye opener. I can hope this team can come to the reality that this is the NFL, and the NFL stands for just that, The National Football League; I would like to say to the team though; The NFL can also stand for “Not For Long” if they keep playing like they played on Sunday”.

I honestly did not think the Cowboys would be sitting 6-0, but I knew that was the possibility. I did not ever dream that this team would become so lethargic and complacent as they have shown since winning there first 3 games. Right now Cowboy fans at this moment; I don’t know what this team needs to do. So I ask all the Cowboy faithful out there? “Is this team in crisis mode, or is it really just Memorex”? Only next week will answer that for all of us.

Lack Of Discipline Is A Concern

I  may get flack for telling it like it is but that’s OK. We’ve had way too much “sunshine and lollipops” the last few weeks anyway. Bottom line is winning is great. But just because you win doesn’t mean you played well. And it will catch up with you.

This team lacks discipline.

Nothing makes a coach any crazier than stupid mistakes. Some times you can escape with a win after bumbling through a game. The Eagles game is a good example of that. You give up 37 points you deserve to lose. No, the Cowboys didn’t lose that game but they sure tried their best to.

Opening day against the Browns was another example of lack of discipline. Way too many penalties to consider the game a success. Luckily for us fans the Cowboys were so much better than Cleveland that those miscues didn’t cost them the game.

The Green Bay game was the exception. This team had a solid performance at every phase of the game. This was a game that could have easily gotten out of hand. Romo’s interception in the red zone was probably the one thing that kept the game from being blown wide open.

Now to the Washington game. There are times when you know early on in a game your team is just “flat”. That was very apparent throughout this game. Poor tackling and lack of enthusiasm was so obvious even the most casual viewer could see it. I was livid during this game. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone either. Nobody, not even the Redskins themselves thought they could go into Texas Stadium and dominate the Cowboys the way they did. Yes, I said dominate. They moved the ball at will and their defense held this explosive offense to 4 three and out drives as well as the 3 and INT drive.

Twelve men on the field on 3rd and 2 is the epitome of lack of discipline. Wade can’t keep taking the blame for bone-head plays by professional football players. That play cost the Cowboys 3 full minutes at the end of the game.

The bright side is now we can stop with this NONSENSE of going undefeated and concentrate on the task at hand. WIN THIS WEEK. Everyone was thinking 8-0 going into the Giants game. I even thought.. “All we have to do is get past the ‘Skins and the schedule gets soft for 4 weeks”. I think most of forgot this is the NFC EAST we’re talking about. Nothing is guaranteed.

I’m as much of a believer in this team as anyone you’ll meet. When they lose I take it personally. I bleed silver and blue and have for over 30 years. This team has more depth than any team in its long, glorious history. The talent is close to that of the 90’s Cowboys. The only thing that glares at me is the discipline issue. Address that and NOBODY in the NFL can beat them.

Cowboys Now the Hunted in the NFC….NFL?!

ALL ABOARD!!  The Dallas Cowboy bangwagon is filling up fast.
 
If there were any doubters after giving up 37 to Philly last week a dominating effort in Green Bay once again has Cowboy fans talking the “S” word….and rightfully so.  Two impressive road wins over playoff teams and a hard fought come from behind Division win over another likely playoff team has Dallas sitting at 3-0 and in clear position to be the NFC reprensentive in the Super Bowl.  Wait!  Haven’t we heard this before?  

 

Who didn’t think after beating Green Bay in week 13 last year that Dallas wouldn’t even make the NFC Championship game?  Wade Phillips has to find a way to pace the season out so it doesn’t peak too early like it has in each of the past two seasons.  Truth be told, nobody on this team has lead his team to the Super Bowl before. Don’t forget Tony Romo has not even won a playoff game. T.O, who played great once he got there, was on the sidelines while Philly made its run to the Super Bowl. MB3, Witten, T-New, B James even Zack Thomas… not one has been on a team with such high expectations. With New England, Indy & San Diego struggling out of the gate in the AFC the concensious around the league is that Dallas is now the team to beat. With all of the talent that this year’s team has, coupled with the strength of the NFC, anything less than a visit to Tampa for the SuperBowl would be considered another disappointing season.
 

 

From Where I’m sitting:

 

  • I love MB3 but I get the bad feeling every time he touches the ball that he will get hurt.  Can we see more of Felix Jones?  8-10 carries a game maybe? I know this is crazy to say but Felix is a better natural runner than MB3 and it’s a long season Wade..lets not wear wear down our best back
  • Patrick Crayton?? Patrick, where are you? I am still not over the drop against the Giants..and you are not doing much to make me forget it
  • Jason Witten has eclipsed Jay Novacek in my mind as the best Cowboy TE I have ever seen….I’m 33
  • Nick Folk has become almost automatic…as a matter of fact I can’t remember his last miss
  • Please reserve a ticket to Hawaii for Jay Ratliff… hands down the best player on the defense so far
  • Hey Adam Jones: Don’t be afraid to run straight up field on one of these punts.  I know you want to make the big play but you can’t make it every time
  • Miles Austin??  I’m speechless…
  • Last One: Crazy statement, but would you rather play at New York in the NFC Championship or at home…before you answer consider that Romo is now 13-2 as a starter on the road and Dallas is 0-5 at home after December the past two years…

Luckless in Lambeau?

This Sunday, the Packers will host the Cowboys at Lambeau Field for just the sixth time in the history of the two clubs.  At Lambeau, the Cowboys have never tasted success.  Our record against the Packers has been great when we play them at Texas Stadium and we have had wins against them at Milwaukee (where the Cheeseheads have occasionally played some home games).

In the five previous meetings at Lambeau, here’s how things turned out:

Nov. 13, 1960 – Cowboys 8, Packers 41

Dec. 31, 1967 – Cowboys 17, Packers 21  (the Ice Bowl)

Oct. 8, 1989 – Cowboys 13, Packers 31

Nov. 23, 1997 – Cowboys 17 – Packers 45

Oct. 24, 2004 – Cowboys 20, Packers 41

As you can see, the Boys have been pretty luckless in Lambeau so far.  Will Sunday be different?  I think so.  It seems as if last season and this one have both been seasons of “firsts” and “lasts” for the Cowboys and our young leader, Mr. Romo.  Personally, I think the key to victory in Green Bay this Sunday will be the arm of our young Wisconsin native.  Perhaps it will take a young man who grew up in Burlington, Wisconsin to break the jinx of Titletown, U.S.A. and warm up the “Frozen Tundra” for a first Cowboy victory.  So – no pressure Tony – but we’re countin’ on ya.

The Packers don’t have Brett Favre anymore.  We all know that.  To paraphrase the Packers management, “The Favre Train has left the building.”  He now plays for the New York Bretts, leaving the reigns of the Packer season in the hands of Aaron Rodgers.  Rodgers has looked good thus far, but the season is early, and the Packers haven’t played a team with the kind of talent the Cowboys have. 

Also, Rodgers did look good when he replaced Favre last year against the Cowboys at Texas Stadium – just not good enough.  Many in the media are singing the praises of the new Packer starting QB – calling Lambeau field “Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood.”  However, like Bill Parcells once said, “Let’s put away the anointing oil.”  It’s early.  Romo may have something to say about who the real sheriff in town is.

Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood?  I don’t think so.  Perhaps we, as Cowboy fans should sing the song together and add a new twist.   Hopefully, you are old enough to remember the original show on PBS.  If not, here’s how it goes with a final change to the ending:

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

A beautiful day in the neighborhood…

Won’t you by my…

Won’t you be my…

VICTIM!!!!!

Fair warning to our dear “neighbors” in the north – you’re going down.  Go ahead and nail up the sign “Cowboys Owned” over the Lambeau label.  The “Favre Train” has left the station and the current “Rodgers Trolley” just doesn’t have the “umpf” to pull the hill.