Good, Bad, and Ugly All Evident In First Preseason Game

Coaches and fans got their first look at the 2010 Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night against a highly touted Cincinnati Bengals club that many are predicting to be a Super Bowl contender this season. The Boys had an impressive showing for a preseason game, not allowing Cincinnati to score until the late 4th quarter. However, there were also some loose ends the Cowboys need to tie up before they take the field against Washington in the season opener. Let’s play a game of “Who’s hot, who’s not” to summarize the first preseason game.

Who’s Hot

*Tight end John Phillips. He took advantage of the absence of Martellus Bennett and showed great all-around ability throughout the night. He had a couple of superb catches, and also showed his blocking ability on several occasions. With Bennett’s problems of late, I would not be at all surprised to see Phillips get more playing time than Bennett when the season starts.

*Defensive end Stephen Bowen. He also took advantage of the absence of a fellow teammate (Marcus Spears), and was a force along the defensive line all night. He was constantly in the backfield and recorded a sack before his night came to an end. With Bowen, Spears, and Jason Hatcher all playing on one-year tenders, I expect the competition to continue between the three.

*Offensive tackle Doug Free. Though he only played one series, Free looked very comfortable at left tackle, and had his way with Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom in both passing and running situations. Free definitely looks to have a leg up on Alex Barron in securing the starting left tackle spot. It will be interesting to see how he performs the rest of the preseason against pass rushers like Shawne Merriman and Mario Williams.

*Backup linebackers. A solid night on defense was topped off by the impressive play of players like Brandon Williams, Victor Butler, Jason Williams, Steve Octavien, and Brandon Sharpe. Jason Williams, Butler, and Octavien all showed their ability to get to the quarterback with a sack each. Brandon Williams and Sharpe showed their abilities in coverage with an interception each, Sharpe’s going for the only touchdown of the evening for the Cowboys. The Williams boys and Butler are showing flashes of the abilities the Cowboys saw in each of them when they drafted all three last year. Keep an eye on the ‘backers again in the next preseason game, as Sean Lee should step on the field for the first time and show his skills, too.

Who’s Not

*Offensive lineman Robert Brewster. He looked simply horrendous playing both tackle spots, and gave Stephen McGee no time to throw the ball all night. It is safe to say the intent of the Cowboys to develop Brewster as a tackle has run horribly amok. His footwork is below average and his ability to get out of his stance is poor. If the Cowboys want to avoid missing on yet another offensive line draft pick, they should consider moving Brewster to guard, where his slow feet will be less noticeable.

*Backup running backs. In a virtually impossible battle for a roster spot at running back, Herb Donaldson and Lonyae Miller did nothing to prove they are even worthy of a spot on the practice squad. Donaldson fumbled the ball early, and Miller had less than one yard per carry. With Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice all locks to make the team, Donaldson and Miller will be nothing more than camp bodies for the duration of training camp.

*Return specialists. The return game for the Cowboys was non-existent the entire night, with Titus Ryan, Jamar Wall, Bryan McCann, and Cletis Gordon sharing the duties. Ryan had a decent return to start the game, but left early with a broken thumb. Wall, McCann, and Gordon shared the punt return duties, but none of the three did more than fair catch and flirt with potential disaster when a return was possible. Gordon and McCann were also creamed on one of their returns, McCann’s coming on a terrible non-call in which he clearly called a fair catch.

Boys Could Look To Add Outside Linebacker Depth Early On In Draft

Outside linebacker play got more consistent for the Cowboys in 2009 with the emergence of Anthony Spencer and the usual All-Pro play from Demarcus Ware. There are questions however with the depth behind the two starting outside linebackers. Contrary to popular belief, I think Victor Butler played well for a raw rookie making the transition to linebacker. And we can’t forget about Brandon Williams, who was sidelined for the year with a torn ACL, and should be ready to compete by the time training camp starts. Still, expect the Cowboys to take a close look at the deep class of ‘tweener type linebackers that fit well into their 3-4 scheme. Here are a few prospects to watch.

Thaddeus Gibson – Ohio State, 6’2″ 243

Many questioned Gibson’s decision to declare for the draft early. But after his performance at Ohio State’s pro day, it looks as though he made the right choice. He has the size that 3-4 defensive coordinators covet, and would project to be an outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. Gibson also has the speed to go along with his size, running a 4.58 40-yard dash at Ohio State’s pro day. His 40-time is comparable to Demarcus Ware’s when he performed at the combine in 2005 and ran a 4.56 40. Gibson will probably go in rounds 2 or 3, which may not be too early for the Cowboys to consider an outside linebacker.

Jerry Hughes – Texas Christian, 6’2″ 255

A hometown boy who played his college ball for the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Hughes was a terror on the Frogs defensive line, posting 26 sacks in the past two seasons. Like Gibson, he is a ‘tweener prospect who will play outside linebacker at the next level. He posted a very solid 4.69 40-time at the combine, and has the size comparable to Anthony Spencer. Hughes’s draft stock has been solid throughout pre-draft workouts, and he could go as early as the late 1st round. The Cowboys are not likely interested in drafting an outside linebacker in the first round, so Hughes could be out of reach. If he falls to them in the 2nd round however, they will take a long, hard look at him.

Ricky Sapp – Clemson, 6’4″ 266

Sapp is another athletic defensive end who will transition to a 3-4 outside linebacker. He has fantastic size and speed, both comparable to Demarcus Ware, and had a terrific outing at the combine. Did not really have impressive sack numbers during his collegiate career, but certainly has the intangibles that pro teams look for in a 3-4 outside linebacker prospect. He could go anywhere within rounds 2 through 4, and could get interest from the Cowboys.

George Selvie – South Florida, 6’3″ 252

Selvie is a prospect who really fell off the map after posting 14 sacks in the 2007 season. His drop-off in production was partly due to nagging injuries. The emergence of Jason Pierre-Paul on the Bulls’s defensive line also took alot of eyes off of Selvie. Regardless of his recent drop-off, Selvie has intriguing size and upside that will draw the interest of any defensive coordinator looking to add athleticism to his defense. I could see Selvie going in the late 3rd round to 4th round range, which is certainly within the range that Dallas would likely pull the trigger on an outside linebacker project.

Koa Misi – Utah, 6’3″ 251

Misi is one more intriguing ‘tweener prospect amongst a very deep class of pass rushing athletes in this year’s draft. He showed his athleticism at the combine in the vertical jump and the 3-cone drill. Like Selvie, Misi did not accumulate impressive sack numbers in 2009, but was plenty active and racked up plenty of tackles. Also like all the other prospects named in this article, Misi possesses the intangibles to be a force at the 3-4 outside linebacker position. He is projected to go anywhere within rounds 2 or 3. Like the other prospects, look for the Cowboys to consider him if he is on the board after round 1.

Weekly Game Balls: Week 10

Honestly, I didn’t even want to give away a game ball this week. Truly standout performances were non-existent and hard to find. And while some may argue that Roy Williams and his 105 yards deserved the honor, it clearly illustrates why numbers alone does not dictate a solid performance.

This week’s offensive game ball goes to Dallas Cowboys Fans.

After four straight wins, we knew it would be a tough challenge for the Cowboys in Lambeau Field, but nobody could have predicted such an impotent display of offense against the Packers.

We deserved better… and though at times the Cowboys showed some fight, most of the time they were getting pushed around and knocked to the ground as evidenced by the five sacks on Tony Romo.

So for your unwavering support and undying loyalty, we are pleased to award you the fans this weeks Game Ball.

Thanks for always supporting the Silver and Blue through good times and bad.


This week’s defensive/special teams game ball goes to DeMarcus Ware.

This one was a lot easier than the offensive game ball, and I thank DeMarcus for that.

Ware is back to his old self and registered two more punishing sacks against the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers.

He added six tackles to his tally and once again he has become one of the most feared linebackers in the NFL.

Quarterbacks Be-Ware!!!


Way to go to Ware and Cowboys fans!

Honorable Mention: Anthony Spencer, Mat McBriar

Weekly Game Balls: Week 3

This week’s offensive game ball goes to Tashard Choice.

The quickness and toughness he showed against the Panthers defense made him an easy “Choice”. On any other team Choice would easily be an every down back. The Cowboy’s depth in the backfield was on full display Monday night.

It’s really fun to watch his signature “T.C.” every time he scores a touchdown.

Choice had 82 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown, he also had a 2 point conversion. He also hauled in a remarkable 8 catches for another 36 yards.

Although the injuries to Marion and Felix sadden me, we don’t miss a beat when Tashard Choice is on the field, and that truly shows the remarkable depth we have at running back.


This week’s defensive/special teams game ball goes to Terence Newman.

T-New sealed the game for us with his interception returned 27 yards for a touchdown. Terence finished the night with only 3 tackles but he did cause a fumble. This one was close with Victor Butler who also forced a fumble and recorded two sacks.

Despite missing several tackles in a shaky first half, Newman bounced back and kept the Panthers’ top receiver Steve Smith in check.

“Before the game we talked about how our defensive line and linebackers did their job last week and how we didn’t do our job,” Newman said. “So I told them ‘Hey it’s on us. We’ve got to shut these guys down.’ We let this team down last week and we have to make up for it this week.”


Congratulations to Tashard and Terence for their outstanding play.

Runners-up: Victor Butler, Patrick Crayton

Secondary- What Is Wrong?

Wide receiver Steve Smith dives in for a fourth-quarter touchdown as the Giants spoil the opener of the Cowboys's new stadium.

After watching the first two games of season I have to admit, I am not sure that our secondary is taking this seriously. I understand that Gerald Sensabaugh is new to the team, and that Jenkins and Scandrick are now rotating starts, and Terence Newman has had some injury issues, but come on. We gave up 300 plus passing yards to Tampa Bay and another 300 plus to the Giants.

Something is wrong with this picture. I watched both games and I’ve seen things such as playing 10-15 yards off the line of scrimmage. That allows the receiver to come out and makes an easy catch. Sometimes the corners are playing as if they have safety help, but the help never shows up.

According to head coach Wade Phillips we are playing more man coverage, yet how do we let receivers made easy catches time after time? If the D-line and linebackers do not get pressure on the QB the secondary cannot cover all day, but a lot of the yards are not due to this. Yes it may take some time for the secondary to gel and understand what their responsibilities are, I just hope it does not take until late in the season otherwise we will be again sitting at home for the playoffs.

We have good corners and Sensabaugh is supposed to be a coverage safety, so lets hope that they get it together soon.

Poll Results: Key Position Battles

At the beginning of Training Camp we asked this question:

Which of these key position battles do you think will be the most interesting?

Poll ResultsThe results were a dead heat between Jenkins/Scandrick (38%) and Crayton/Austin (38%).  In third place was the battle at offensive guard position with Kyle Kosier and Montrae Holland who received 15% of the votes. Finally, linebackers Bobby Carpenter and Jason Williams received a measly 8%.

This poll is full of so much irony. In the end Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick have been told they are both starters who will alternate starts and playing time. Miles Austin didn’t really show us that he deserves to start over vet Patrick Crayton. Kosier and Holland?… boring. Bobby Carpenter and Jason Williams, well that was easily answered when Williams got injured.

Maybe we should have had a 5th choice between Isaiah Stanback and Kevin Ogletree, but who knew?

New poll: What are your expectations for the upcoming season?

Linebackers Will Be a Strength For Dallas

DeMarcus Ware, Bradie James, Keith Brooking and Anthony Spencer will be our four linebackers this coming season, and it looks they will have a lot of success to go along with their talent.

We know what we are getting from 94 and also Bradie James and for the most part Brooking as well, but the question all off season will be how will Anthony Spencer do starting at outside linebacker for an entire season for the first time? Head coach wade Phillips sees great potential in Spencer, he is very athletic and knows how to play the game.

Phillips knows good talent at outside linebacker when he sees it, after all he has coached Shawn Merriman in San Diego and coached D-Ware in his most productive season as a pro to date.

Brooking was a big part of the Atlanta Falcons defense and a solid piece in the middle of that LB corps, he will bring experience, leadership, and a desire to win with him to Dallas. Bradie James is often left out of the conversation when it comes to middle linebackers not only on this team, but around the entire league James is very underated. Bradie is a force in the middle, and has been for a few years now, but is seldom talked about despite leading the team in tacles for the last two seasons.

We might have weaknesses on this team, but if they stay healthy our linebackers will not be one of them.


Finding That Blue And Silver Lining

There are times, in life, when things aren’t going exactly as you would hope. In those times it is difficult to remain positive. Focusing on the negative just seems so much more natural. I know it sure is true in my case. I can’t speak for you of course. We all handle things in our own way. Some manage to look on the bright side no matter what. I, for one, could learn a lot from these people.

The one thing that 99.9% of visitors to this site have in common is obvious. Our love for the Dallas Cowboys.

Being the cynic that I am I tend to look at negative things in life and take for granted all the good things going on. Looking back on the 2008 season I’ve focused on lack of discipline, lack of leadership and a general sense of discord with the Cowboys organization as a whole. But there were some amazing moments this year. New faces emerged and old reliables continued to amaze us.

Felix Jones

How many of us saw this guy coming? His incredible burst and open-field speed left friend and foe alike wide-eyed with mouths hanging open in amazement. Not to mention you would be hard pressed to ever see him without a smile on his face. This young man has a very bright future ahead of him and I know we all look forward to watching him grow into the elite running back he obviously has the potential to be. I have no doubt that had he not gotten injured and subsequently put on injured reserve he would be the 2008 NFL Rookie of the Year.

DeMarcus Ware

Just when you think this guy couldn’t get any better what does he do? He gets better. His athleticism and sheer determination are something to behold. This man is a game changer. A difference maker. One of the greatest linebackers I’ve ever seen play the position and I’ve seen plenty. My personal choice for Defensive Player of the Year. I have no doubt he will be a Hall of Famer. First ballot. Bank on it. And he’s a Dallas Cowboy baby!

Jason Witten

Can you have a more solid teammate than Jason Witten? The greatest tight end in the game today, bar none. He’s always willing to give a little extra. Even with injuries that would have sidelined most players, Witten never relented, always stayed focused on the task at hand and never let anyone down. A warrior.

Tashard Choice

If you haven’t seen it yet check out the Georgia Tech locker room speech video of Choice posted on youtube. This video alone makes you well up with pride that he wears the blue and silver. His running style and ability to find the hole and to get extra yards where most players wouldn’t reminds me so much of Emmitt Smith. This guy is a legend in the making.

Bradie James

James is emerging as a true leader on the defensive unit. This diamond in the rough is only going to get better. I mean.. 116 tackles and 8 sacks at inside linebacker. Are you freaking kidding me? Should be a Pro Bowler. I have the upmost respect for Bradie James. He’s a great interview and has no problem telling it like it is.

These are just a few of what was arguably the largest collection of talent on any team in the NFL. Yeah, as a whole this team underachieved. But they will be alright. They will right the ship. Nothing comes easy in the NFL. Chalk 2008 up as a learning experience. What’s done is done. Time to move on.

On this day on January 28, 1996 the Dallas Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. Number 5. They were not and are not done. Not by a long shot.

The destiny of the Dallas Cowboys is the same as it has always been. Greatness. Some things never change, my friend. I’ll never stop believing in this team. Many, many great men have donned the blue and silver. More have arrived and more will follow. No team does greatness-knows greatness-like the Dallas Cowboys. Glorious battles and future gold are just over the horizon. All we have to do now is wait for the clouds to break and follow the stars.

Jim Schwartz Excited About Turning Detroit Around

I was on the NFL website this morning and I saw where they hired Jim Schwartz the defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans and where he he claimed he is excited about the opportunity to turn around the Detroit football team.

 Bring it on, says Detroit’s new head coach.

 “There’s no better feeling in football than turning a situation around. Thats what drives me here,” the 42-year-old former Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator said during his introductory news conference this Friday at Ford Field.

 The Lions badly want the one-time Georgetown University economics major to come up with a formula to fix a franchise coming off the NFL’s first 0-16 season, an eight-season stretch that has been the worst in the league since World War II and a run of more than 50 years with only one playoff win.

 “I can’t speak of the past, I’m here right now,” Schwartz said. “I’m not here to exorcise any ghosts.”

 While Detroit’s football future is far from certain, Schwartz told reporters they can count on at least one thing.

 “We’ll put a team on the field that you’ll be proud of,” he said one day after agreeing to a four-year contract worth about $11 million.

 The son of a police officer and a deceased mother who raised nine kids, Schwartz said he was a blue-collar guy who will fit in well with the culture of Detroit.

 “This is what I am,” Schwartz said.

 Schwartz said he owns only two suits that fit, finding out recently that a third is too small because of the weight he gained during the season.

 “He’s a football guy — I love that,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said.

 Schwartz’s coming-out party was the culmination of years of hard work. He started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Maryland in 1989, later had the same position at Minnesota and went on to become a secondary coach for North Carolina Central and linebackers coach at Colgate.

 The Baltimore native became a head-coaching candidate in recent years because of his work in Tennessee, leading to interviews with the Miami Dolphins,Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins and San Fransisco 49ers in recent years.

 But Schwartz got his start as an unpaid intern for Bill Belichiek with the Cleveland Browns, later was paid as a scout and moved on to be an assistant for the Ravens, then became one of the league’s best defensive coordinators in Tennessee.

 Schwartz singled out Belichick, who’s now leading the New England Patriots, and Titans coach Jeff Fisher as mentors.

 Schwartz replaces Rod Marinelli, who was fired two weeks ago after he went 10-38 in three seasons, dropping Detroit to 31-97 since 2001 when former team president Matt Millen took over a mediocre franchise and turned it into a laughingstock.

 The Chicago Cardinals, who won just 23 percent of their games from 1936 to 1943, are the last team to perform as poorly as the Lions have over an eight-season stretch.

 Detroit will count on Schwartz to use his background to come up with ways to improve a defense that ranked last in the league and gave up 517 points — threatening the NFL record for points allowed (533) in a season, set by the 1981 Baltimore Colts.

 Schwartz’s 2003 Titans defense ranked first in the NFL in rushing defense and led the league in third-down defense at 27.7 percent — the lowest mark since the 1998 Oakland Raiders. The Titans ranked in the top seven in yards allowed in each of the past two seasons and finished second in points allowed per game at 14.6 in 2008.

 Schwartz said he has coordinators he’d like to have in Detroit, but neither is in place. He also planned to talk to the remaining assistants from Marinelli’s staff.

 “I’ll talk to a lot of people next week at the Senior Bowl,” he said.

 Schwartz also planned to call Detroit’s entire roster.

 “I want to make personal contact with every player,” he said. “Finding my way from the hotel to the facility will be a good start, also.”

Personally I am glad to see Detroit get as good of a defensive coach as Schwartz is. I hope for Detroit’s sake that will win at least 3 games next season or who knows maybe Schwartz will do for Detroit what Parcells and Sparano did in Miami. Only time will tell though.

Cowboys Coaching Staff Filling in Nicely

The Cowboys have been working hard since their season ended, trying to fill coaching and staff positions early in the offseason. After former Cowboys head coach took over operations for the Dolphins, a four coaches left to join him in Miami. 

The Cowboys brought back some familiar faces with Dave Campo and Hudson Houck. Campo spent over a decade with the Cowboys before being fired in 2002. Many of those years were very successful when he coached the defense, prior to being named head coach. Hudson Houck led the offensive line from 1993-2001, what were glory years for the Cowboys.

Hopefully all the pieces are falling into place. Some critics believe the only coaches that matter are the head coach and the offensive and defensive coordinators. I disagree with this, I think every person counts and has an effect on the team, even the smallest roles. These could be the leaders of a dynasty in the making.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.   –John Quincy Adams


2008 Coaching Staff for the Dallas Cowboys

Wade Phillips – Head Coach



Jason Garrett – Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator

Hudson Houck – Offensive Line 

Ray Sherman – Wide Receivers

John Garrett – Tight Ends

Skip Peete – Running Backs

Wade Wilson – Quarterbacks

Wesley Phillips – Offensive Assistant/Quality Control



Brian Stewart – Defensive Coordinator

Todd Grantham – Defensive Line

Dave Campo – Secondary 

Reggie Herring – Linebackers

Dat Nguyen – Assistant Linebackers/ Defensive Quality Control 



Bruce Read – Special Teams

Joe Juraszek – Strength and Conditioning 


Defense Decision in Dallas

The Dallas Cowboys have big decisions to make today. Three defense assistant coaches could leave Dallas after today. Todd Bowles, the secondary coach; Kacy Rogers, the defensive line coach; and Paul Pasqualoni, the linebackers coach become free agents.

The three assistants did not accept the contract offered on January 13th, when the Cowboys season ended. All are close with former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells and former Cowboys assisant coach Tony Sparano, who are now running the show in Florida.

If the men choose to leave, the Cowboys will being interviewing to fill the spots this week. They do not expect any of the other coaching positions to change.

Legends of the Star – Chuck Howley


Chuck Howley was originally drafted out of West Virginia University by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the NFL Draft in 1958, but after a seaon ending injury in 1959 he was forced to announce his retirement. However, in 1961 Chuck Howley decided to make a comeback, and the Dallas Cowboys traded draft picks to the Chicago Bears for his rights, and thus began his remarkable career as one fo the best defensive players in team history.

Chuck Howley had a punishing style of play and was known for his ability to impact a game with his deceptive speed and blistering tackles. He was one of the best outside linebackers in the league and certainly one of the best ever to play for the Dallas Cowboys.

He played 14 seasons for the Cowboys tying him for the second longest tenure in franchise history, and was selected to six Pro Bowls during that span. Howley helped lead the team to five Eastern Conference Titles, two NFL Championship games and two Super Bowls. He holds the distinction of being the first defensive player ever to win a Super Bowl MVP, as well as being the first player from a losing team ever to named MVP in Super Bowl V.

 In 1976, Chuck Howley was the fourth player to be inducted into the Ring of Honor at Texas Stadium.

Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys.