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Finish the Fight.

I wanted to share some thoughts about how AWESOME Jason Garrett has been this season as a coach. I can’t applaud him enough. There is something to be said about his leadership in making sure morale is high.

Fight. That was the motto this season and I challenge anyone to prove that hasn’t been true for the Dallas Cowboys. It wasn’t just about Fighting. It was about what it takes to #FinishTheFight. He could have benched his starters early on in the game. He didn’t. We already had the division, why not?

Morale. You finish what you started. You don’t just win, you win big. You don’t just match records, you break them. You keep breaking them. It wasn’t just a win. This game will send us into the playoffs pumped.

The fight isn’t over.

A New Season, A New Era

The playoffs are over, the big game is set, and honestly, I wish it was already over.  We all had big hopes for this season and although we didn’t get to see our dream come true…playing in the Super Bowl in our own house, we did finally get a few changes made that were desperately needed.  Wade is gone, Garrett is in…a new era, a new time, a new passion, and much needed discipline. 

Garrett brings in a Johnson-esque style of discipline requiring the players to be more responsible; they actually have to show up on time for practice, no more wandering in whenever they feel like it.  No more showing up or traveling in clothes that are unbefitting America’s Team, they now once again have to look the part.  Full pad practices during the regular season, and big new flashing red digital clocks installed to remind the players the importance of being on time and that there are consequences if they’re not.  Garrett has put a work ethic back into the team and let the players know that the lazy days under Wade are gone, and if they want to play for this team, they had better start earning it.

Since Garrett took over the team, also gone is the average of 20 points per game and fans wondering where their team was and when they would show up.  We all got a glimpse of the team we know and love and were able to cheer on their average of 32 points per game, giving us all hope for the future.

There are a lot of questions and rumors flying about why Garrett didn’t make some of these changes to his offense, since he was in charge of them before he was promoted to the head coach position.  You have to look at the big picture to find that answer.  Although he did call the plays and hope for the execution, he can’t do it all himself.  The players have to want to make it better, want to make it work, and care about their team again.  That has come from the culture change that has been instilled since Garrett took over.  With players showing up to actually play and wanting to make a difference and keep their job, the level of play on offense and defense goes up.  Turn overs are down, penalties are down, allowed sacks are down, and big plays are up.  Now that’s a change we needed to see.

All of this gives us hope for the new season and the future of our team, America’s Team, now and forever!  I say bring it on!!

LSS Extra Points: Goodbye 2010

After ending the 2010 season a disappointing 6-10, the Cowboys will pick 9th in the 2011 NFL draft. While some would have rather the Cowboys lost the finale and received pick #6, I like what DeMarcus Ware had to say about the situation:

“It’s all about pride. When a fan sees you’re still fighting in the last game of the season and you don’t have anything to play for, you talk about the winning tradition of the Dallas Cowboys.”

***

2011 Opponents are as follows:

Home: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins

Away: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots, New York Jets.

***

Sam Hurd, who was sidelined at the season finale game due to a head injury, was chosen as the recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award. The Ed Block Courage Award is an annual award presented to selected players in the National Football League, who are voted by their teammates as role models of inspiration, sportsmanship, and courage (Wikipedia).

***

Wide receiver Roy Williams make some interesting comments in the past week.

“I was the go-to guy in Detroit. Coordinators can make who they want to make the star.”

“This is my dream [to stay] here and it started out good. Started out real good, but it fell apart I guess you could say. I love to be here.”

Many believe Williams’ is on his way out of Dallas, and I’m sure he has very few supporters campaigning to keep him a Cowboy. 37 catches for 530 yards and five touchdowns hardly warrants the high priced contract Jerry Jones generously issued back in 2008 (6 years, $54 million).

***

DeMarcus Ware won the NFL sack title with 15.5 sacks on the season. With his three sacks in Sunday’s game, Ware beat out Kansas City’s Tamba Hali by one sack. This is Ware’s second sack title in his 6-year career.

***

Jason Witten and Miles Austin both finished the season with over 1,000 yards. Witten passed the 1,000 yard mark in the final play of the game, ending the year with 85 receptions for 1002 yards and nine touchdowns. Austin finished with 69 receptions for 1041 yards (down from 1320 in 2009) and seven touchdowns.

***

And last but not least…

After the media mania on Sunday morning declaring Jason Garrett the official head coach, Jerry Jones himself denied the rumors.  Jones reiterated that he will honor the Rooney Rule, which states a minority must be interviewed.

“I am really interested in following the spirit of our NFL rules and that’s what this is all about.”

Reports Sunday and Monday say the Cowboys will interview wide receivers coach Ray Sherman to honor that rule. ESPNDallas reports that interview will take place Tuesday. ESPN also believes Jones wants to hire the next head coach of the Dallas Cowboys by Friday. Which only leads one to believe that Jason Garrett is Jerry’s man.

Cowboys Fans Are Gaining Confidence

If you tried out for the football team in high school, you’re probably painfully aware of how charmed Jason Garrett’s life is. His staggering talent was apparent even in high school when he dominated three different sports, earning honors and letters along the way.

Since his teenage years he’s broken records, won two superbowls, retired as a player and moved his way up the ranks to become the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He simply never lost momentum.

So how has this unreckonable force worked out for the Cowboys so far?

When you compare Garrett with former coach Wade Phillips, the first noticeable difference is the elasticity of the team. Because there is none. The offense is tighter than we’ve seen in a while and every player out on the field is on the same page. With Garrett’s shiny new leadership, however temporary it may be, the Cowboys could be a different team by the 2011 preseason. I’m not saying that Garrett conducts them like a symphony or runs a well-oiled machine yet but he does run a tight ship.

Any time there’s a new sheriff in town, one guy has to test his mettle and see how much slack he can get. Marion Barber was that guy, dissing his new coach’s mandate that all players ‘suit up’ in slacks and collared shirts on game days. Even though his game play was  unsurprisingly limited for the dress code violation, Barber’s new calf injury has ensured his rightful place as bench warmer. Even though the playoffs aren’t in the picture this season, the injuries sustained by the Cowboys up to this point show how much fight we put in to each game, yard after yard. Wide-receiver Dez Bryant is now MIA with a fractured ankle and Tony Romo’s collarbone is taking its sweet time to heal.

However, if traffic resurgence on sports gambling sites can tell us anything, it’s that Cowboys fans are regaining confidence. Sites like GameBookers.com are coming to life again on game day as if the fans are slowly, unashamedly peeking out of their foxholes. Season ticket-holders’ seats are filling again. There, there. It’s not an easy step to take after the 45-7 shellacking delivered by Green Bay in November. The newfound freshness and pep that the Cowboys have shown so late in the season is part of an attitude change that fans have adopted in solidarity.

Is it ironic that Wade Phillips was replaced after a loss to the Packers… by Garrett, whose career pinnacle was 311 glorious yards and two glorious Thanksgiving Day touchdowns as a back-up… against Green Bay? It’s the NFL’s own brand of poetic justice. Now, if only we could get Jerry Jones to take a hard look at his assistant coaches…

What Will It Take To Get Over the Hurdle?

Let’s list a few names, shall we?

  • Barry Switzer (“We did it!  We did it!  We did it” … no Jimmy Johnson did it Barry!)
  • Chan Gailey
  • Dave Campo (as head coach)
  • Norv Turner (we let him go!)
  • Bill Parcells (also let him go!)
  • Terrell Owens (needed to go!)
  • Mike Vanderjagt (couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn!)
  • Martín Gramática (don’t ask!)
  • Roy Williams (the receiver – sticker shock!)
  • Zach Thomas (is this where old men come to die?)
  • Pac-Man Jones (enough said!)
  • Ryan Leaf (I should be shot for mentioning his name!)
  • Vinny Testaverde (another Social Security player!)
  • Drew (my grandmother could move in the pocket better) Bledsoe
  • Sean Payton (only went on to win a Super Bowl with the Saints!  Under who’s mentoring?  Yes, Bill Parcells!)
  • Bobby Carpenter (how dare he wear number 54!)
  • etc., etc., etc., (yes, we could all go on!)

Two of the best coaches, we let go (Parcells and Payton).  Payton later went on to win a Super Bowl in New Orleans, while Jason Garrett relives his glorious payday and his Thanksgiving game against the Packers.  “Just throw it high to Harper,” he exclaimed after the game.

I am glad that we are not as piecemeal as we used to be!  Those years between ’96 and ’06 reminded us the die-hards that the Cowboys are an every two-decade team.

In this writer’s opinion, the team that takes the field in 2010 will be the best team since the ’92 – ’95 teams, IF, they can play as a team like the dynasty of the 90’s did!  We need one man to step up on offense (Romo, Austin, Barber?) and another to step up on defense (Ware, Newman, Ratliff, Brooking?)  It needs to be someone to keep this team [as] a team – the coach sure can’t do it!  Let’s see less of Jerry on the sidelines this year.

The time to win is now!  Start 88!  Draft him so high and then don’t start him?  Let Dez live up to that number!  The pieces are there, let’s just not hope for an end of season collapse that so many Dallas Cowboys fans have become accustomed to!

Next blog – Left side of the line, and secondary …

Frustration and Anger

I normally don’t post while I’m upset, but this week I will make an exception. I’ve always thought of myself as a realistic Cowboys fan and I normally tell it like it is. I’ve always expressed my concerns with this team going back to 2007, but I’ve stuck with their decisions. Hoping I would start to see changes in the offense, defense, coaching, play calling and penalties. But to this point I have not seen anything that I would consider progress from this team.

The latest loss was tonight to Denver, 17-10. After scoring 10 points in the first quarter the team could not manage another point the rest of the game. Not to mention yards were close to nothing except for the final drive of the game. The bad play calling is still there, Tony Romo’s bad passes continue and of course the penalties never go away. Sure the defense played well, but then of course they get called for a facemask penalty or a roughing the passer penalty. And the last I knew Mike Jenkins was a cornerback, not a ref that is supposed to make an incomplete pass call without touching the receiver first.

This team has been inconsistent in all areas for the last few seasons. Simply said…Same team, different season. After the loss to the Giants I waited a few days to calm down because I did not want to bash my team. But this is how I have felt for so long with this team. I’ve been loyal to the Cowboys since I was 9 years old. And because of that I feel I can criticize when things are not going right. Especially when the same things are happening over the last few seasons with most of the same players and coaches. NO, Terrell Owens has nothing to do with this. Which is my point. The same things were happening with him and they continue without him.

I’ve supported Tony Romo since the very beginning, but it’s getting very hard to continue with that support over his inconsistent play game after game and season after season. We can’t keep saying this is only Romo’s second season or third season and so on. He is a veteran QB who has been in the league long enough not to keep making the same mistakes over and over again. He continues to make the bad throws behind receivers or over their heads. He just seems like he rushes to throw the ball often and whether it’s his fault or not I’m tired of him waiting until their is one second left on the play clock before getting the play off.

The offensive line has played together long enough together and have been in the league long enough not to keep having the same false starts, holding and now add tripping to their penalties.

The play calling by Jason Garrett makes me want to bang my head against a wall. The same goes with Garrett as it does with the players. I’m not seeing any changes or improvements over the last few years.

The defense still does not respond in big moments. This was the season all of that was going to change with Wade Phillips taking over. But I still see a defense that can not pressure the quarterback, coan not blitz effectively, and gives a lot of cushion to opposing receivers. I watch other defenses in the league as they fly all over the field and attack offenses and I wonder why the Dallas defense can not do some of the same things.

I just don’t know what to say anymore and maybe I have not expressed myself correctly. Maybe I should have waited before posting tonight. I’m just tired of making excuses for this team and coaching staff. I’m tired of their excuses as well. Once again this week we will hear Romo talk about learning from the game and getting better, we will hear about the missed opportunities, we will hear Wade talk about how they did some good things, but need to just focus in some areas. I’m just tired of it. Is the coaching, is the players, is it both? I just don’t know.

Yes, I’m very tired of it all. I’m frustrated because of how much of a fan I am of the Cowboys. I want good things for the team. I want them to be champions again. I want them to add to the Dallas Cowboys history. Some people might accuse me of being a bandwagon fan, of not supporting them 100%. But I believe that being a loyal fan means telling it like it is. Not pretending there isn’t a problem when it’s clear that there is. How much longer can this continue before it’s addressed? I do know one thing, even with the frustration and anger I am feeling right now I will be sitting here again next week when the kickoff happens with the Kansas City Chiefs.

FORWARD PROGRESS: Weapons Of A Different Breed

Forward Progress

Training camp is finally here! Rejoice Cowboys fans! Another beginning will soon be upon us, and this is the first step along the lengthy journey of the season. You win in December and in playoff games and in Superbowls by preparing both physically and mentally here in late July and August. I didn’t get a chance to hear much of the “State of the Cowboys” address by Owner Jones and Coach Wade, but let’s be honest, I don’t think I missed a whole lot other than some cliche’s and some hopeful optimism, not that there is anything wrong with that. I must admit that it is hard to be so close, yet so far away from real football. In a way, I am going to have to fight through a lot of the things that are going to be brought up and mused upon over the course of the next 3 or 4 weeks. You know, the usual suspects: Can Romo win in December? How will the offense perform without Terrell Owens? Can Wade get his players to stay motivated? Blah, blah, blah! I understand that the media has a job to do, but I am just not interested in the same ole, same ole.

Some of the things that I am looking forward to finding out over the course of training camp will be how the new additions to the defense are going to fit in, who will win the number two spot at wide receiver and maybe, just maybe, get a glimpse at how Jason Garrett plans to manage all of his unique weapons.

Ah yes, Mr. Garrett and his weapons. I can’t think of a Cowboys team in the past with a more unique set of offensive weapons than this 2009 outfit. It will be a challenge and a delicate balance to efficiently use all of the running backs and tight ends, as well as develop the chemistry and timing between Romo and Roy Williams and the rest of the receivers. I am excited to see what Garrett can do with this group. I still have confidence in Garrett, I think he did have some challenges and obstacles dealing with Owens last year and in the end I believe that it affected his play calling and game planning. That is just my opinion, nothing more, nothing less.

I think that the best thing for Garrett, Romo and the entire franchise would be to have the heart and soul and identity of this team actually be the running game. If you are able to establish the run week in and week out, then it makes everything else so much easier. You can control time of possession, and gain valuable field position by churning out those first downs. Honestly, if we are unable to establish THIS team’s running game than there will have to be major changes in many areas next off-season. The extremely well compensated offensive line, led by Leonard Davis, are just flat out going to have to open some holes and then let the three headed monster do it’s thing. We have 3 backs who could arguably be starters for almost 20 other NFL teams at least. There are other great backs in the league, but I can’t think of any teams who would turn down Marion Barber or Felix Jones, and very few who would not like to have a guy like Tashard Choice somewhere in the mix. All that being said, there are no excuses to not dominate in the running game this year.

Once we soften up the line of scrimmage, we can open up our can of beans and rice! We should be able to carve up the middle of the field as well as any team in the league with our dynamic tight ends. We have the top tight end in all of football in Jason Witten, who also will contribute to the running game with his solid blocking, and then the young, explosive Marty B as his sidekick. This will be one of the most exciting things to watch this year for me. It’s not exactly rocket science here. When it’s third down and six, look for Beans and Rice.

And then, when it’s time to really put it on them, as my boy Nate the Cowboy Ninja would say, just dial 9-11. Romo to Roy Williams, and don’t forget Miles Austin, Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd. This is where the majority of the big gains will and should come from and if the running game is established and the middle of the field has been softened up by the tight ends, it will be easy pickings for an accurate passer like Romo.

Man, just looking at all of the options gets me really excited, we have the weapons. It’s time to optimize them and, bottom line, that’s on the shoulders’ of the coordinator.

Cowboys Fan for Life – TD

Answers Needed From The 2009 Training Camp

Well, training camp is here as it started yesterday. The Cowboys enter this year’s training camp with a lot of unanswered questions. We all are seeking answers to the following questions:

Who will be the number 2, 3, & 4 wide receivers?

Who will be the starting right cornerback?

Will LB Bobby Carpenter be playing a more active role this year?

How will we ensure that all three of our running backs get carries?

Will the offensive line be able to provide better pass and run blocking?

Will wide receiver Roy Williams be able to put up comparable numbers to that other wide receiver we had?

Will Jason Garrett’s offense be able to get back to where it was two years ago?

Will the special teams be able to perform better under Coach DeCamillis?

These are some of the many questions that training camp should help to provide and yes some of the questions we will not know until the season begins. I believe that this year’s camp will be harder and more will come out of it than did last year. I believe the Cowboys have learned that you get what you put into it.

Yes, last year we started out okay, but we did not finish okay and I believe that training camp instills that work ethic that can carry you through the year. The young players on the team need to step up and play big and I think that will. I hope that we start strong out of the gate and do not let up until we have won the Super Bowl!

News and Notes from Wednesday’s OTA’s

I’m amazed how many things are coming out of the OTA’s.  From encouraging news to funny news to who cares news. It’s the who cares news I can do without. Our team will always be under the microscope I suppose, so I guess we just read the news and move on. Here are some things I’ve read about from Wednesday’s OTA’s.

Romo v.s Garrett?

It was reported that Jason Garrett told Tony Romo that he needed to get into better shape. But Romo denied that yesterday saying that he has a “phenomenal” relationship with Garrett and they continue to work on his performance as well as the offensive performance.

“If there’s anything those guys tell me, it’s to throttle back sometimes just because I do a lot of running playing soccer and basketball and stuff to stay in shape, plus the stuff we do,” said Romo, who added no such meeting occurred.

“If you need to be coached to be good or great, then you’re probably not going to be that good or great,” he said. “I’ve had coaches in the past … one of the best lines ever was, ‘If I have to stay on you 24/7 then you’re probably not going to last very long.’ So you need to be self-motivated. You don’t get to this position if you’re not. I think the biggest misconception is that people need to treat you like you’re 17 years old. You’re either going to do it or you’re not. Either you want to be successful or you don’t. Either you want to be great or you don’t.”

A Different Wade?

Wade Phillips continues to enforce strict rules this off-season. The team is going to hand out heavy fines to players who come into training camp overweight.

“I expect them to be in the best shape they’ve been in. That’s part of being accountable,” Phillips said. “I want them to come in the best shape they can be in. We’ve put [targeted] weights on them. The league maximum [fine] is $453 a pound. We expect them to come in [to training camp] at their weights or under and we’ll have that done when we come to training camp.”

Ratliff’s Backup

So who will be backing up Jay Ratliff in 2009? Well, there is one player who is ready to take on that job. Junior Siavii is the Cowboys best shot at backing at Ratliff due to his 6 foot 5 frame and 320 pounds. Some say he is the ideal 3-4 defensive nose tackle.

Company Man

Is DeMarcus Ware the new Cowboys defensive captain now that his jersey has the letter “C” on it?  Well, he might very well be the defensive captain, but it’s not because of the letter “C”. That came compliments of Lenard “Bigg” Davis who had the letter “C” stitched to Ware’s jersey because it stands for Company Man.

“He thought it was more important than lunch to go put a C on my jersey”, Ware said.

Ware became a Company Man in the eyes of his teammates last week during the teams OTA’s when the team usually finishes their workouts with 200 yards of sprints.

“Let’s run 300!”, Ware hollered

Loving Ratliff

Jay Ratliff was seen blowing through the offensive line time after time on Wednesday almost like they weren’t even there.  This coming from a 2005 draft pick who many thought might not even make the team. And also the same year that DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears were drafted.

The Barbarian

One player standing out in better physical condition this off-season is Marion Barber. Looking more chiseled than ever in his arms and his chest. That can not be good news for opposing defenses.

Who is the best TE?

Jason Witten gave a few rookies a lesson during Wednesday’s practice. On one assignment Witten was asked to block rookie OLB Jason Williams.  Not only did Williams not get anywhere near the QB, but Witten almost  bent Williams in half on the block.  The next play Witten caught a pass and turned up-field where rookie OLB Brandon Williams was waiting. Witten froze Williams with a shoulder fake and then turned towards the sideline before heading up-field. Williams attempted to get his feet back under him and recover, but by that time Witten was long gone.

Pictures

Here is a link to some pictures taken from Wednesday’s OTA’s

http://www.dallasnews.com//sharedcontent/dws/pt/slideshows/2009/06/pho_061709_minicamp/

Cowboys News: Offensive Talk and Nick Folk Update

There will be no Wildcat offense in Dallas this season, well kind of. The Cowboys are calling their Wildcat formation the Razorback because it features Felix Jones. The formation shows Tony Romo lined up at wide receiver and Patrick Crayton in the shotgun as Jones goes in motion.

“Man, it was great,” said Jones, who was utilized primarily as a decoy. “It brought back old memories. It’s just the first day. I believe we can get a lot better at it. You’ll see a lot more of it, I’m hoping, when the time comes.”

Maybe Jason Garrett is getting the message and wants to do different things in 2009. He needs to take advantage of all his offensive weapons. A few weeks back it was reported that Dallas ran the halfback option pass with Marion Barber throwing a touchdown pass to Patrick Crayton.

In other news Nick Folk is healing from his hip surgery he had after the draft in April. It was reported on DallasNews.com that Folk is ready to do some light running on Monday. Folk said he should be able to start kicking a volleyball in mid to late June. A volleyball is lighter and offers less resistance. Dr. Marc Philippon who performed the surgery said Folk should come back stronger and never have an issue with the labrum again.

Tuesday’s OTA Notes

Here are a few updates from Tuesday’s practice.

Jason Garrett seems to be a little different during practice so far in 2009. Yesterday he actually got mad at Jason Witten when he had a false start, yelling…

“get me another tight end!”

The same thing happened when a false start was called on Leonard Davis.

 “Get me a new right guard!”

It was reported that Davis walked over to Garrett and said something, but Garrett just ignored him. Wade Phillips pulled Davis from the first team for one play because of the false start.  There is something about this that I like. Many people have said that this team is too soft and we all know how many penalties they have been called for in recent years. Most of those penalties were at the worst possible times.

Although it has been reported that Tony Romo and Roy Williams have been working a lot together. In yesterday’s seven-on-seven drills they were not on the same page as they missed on several passes. Looks like they need to keep working. Which is what these OTA’s are all about.

Sam Hurd was the latest to hit the injury list with a sore quadriceps muscle. It is not believed to be anything serious. This goes along with injuries to Isaiah Stanback (torn meniscus), Rodney Hannah (broken finger), Tim Anderson (toe), Jason Hatcher (knee), Kyle Kosier (foot) and Nick Folk (hip).

Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick received first team reps opposite Terrence Newman. Mike Mickens has yet to attend the OTA’s until he officially graduates. DeAngeloSmith has worked at corner and safety. Newman broke up multiple plays on Tuesday while also coming close to intercepting a Romo pass that could have gone for a touchdown. Fifth round pick safety Michael Hamlin has been getting praise from coach Brett Maxie for his play and he also calls him a sponge. Everything that is asked of Hamlin, he then takes it onto the field and performs at a high level. 

The Cowboys released cornerback Tra Battle and defensive tackle Casey Tyler on Tuesday.

A new twist to the Cowboys offense was when the first team scored in the red zone on a Marion Barber halfback pass to Patrick Crayton.

It’s still early, but I’m starting to like many of the things I’m reading about the Cowboys. I especially like the toughness from Garrett and Phillips. I think that is what this team needs. They need to be coached and praised when everything is working, but also called out when things are not working. I really hope that not being in the spotlight (Hard Knocks) this season will help them. Keep working guys. It will all pay off in the end.

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