An early look at the Cowboys 2012 defense

When it came to the Cowboys defense in 2011 not much could be counted on except for allowing fourth quarter leads to disappear.  There are big changes coming for the defense in 2012 as the Cowboys focused on rebuilding the secondary this off season.

The Cowboys were very aggressive in free agency this off season. Their first signing was cornerback Brandon Carr from Kansas City who will replace Terence Newman who was released. They then signed linebacker Dan Connor from Carolina and safety Brodney Pool from the Jets. Connor looks to do battle with Bruce Carter for other inside linebacker position next to Sean Lee. The Cowboys also decided to franchise Anthony Spencer, who will play the 2012 season without being offered a long term deal. In the draft they went heavy on the defensive side of the ball. In a move that surprised everyone the Cowboys traded up eight spots and grabbed cornerback Morris Claiborne from LSU. They also drafted defensive end Tyrone Crawford, linebackers Kyle Wilber and Caleb McSurly to go along with safety Matt Johnson. Time will tell if any of these draft picks will work out, but excitement is high and fans can’t wait to find out.

Looking at the new Cowboys secondary, Brandon Carr and Morris Caliborne take over at the corners. Adding to the depth at cornerback is Mike Jenkins who is trying to come back after off season shoulder surgery. Word out of Cowboys camp is that Jenkins would like to be traded, but Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett have made it clear that it’s not an option, at least not right now. Orlando Scandrick returns as the slot corner, but may face some competition from Jenkins once training camp starts if Jenkins is cleared by doctors to practice. The Cowboys were 23rd in passing defense in 2011 and opposing receivers seemed to have their way with the Cowboys on a weekly basis. Hopefully with all the changes to the secondary it will mean better coverage and more success. 

At safety Gerard Sensabaugh comes back after signing a contract extension. At the other safety spot it looks to be a battle with Brodney Pool and Barry Church. The Cowboys are also hoping that fourth round draft pick Matt Johnson from Eastern Washington can add some excitement to the safety position and hopefully develop into a starter.

As with any defense that plays the 3-4 alignment the Cowboys are stocked with linebackers. First and foremost they have DeMarcus Ware who seems to get better and better every season. On the other side is Anthony Spencer, with Victor Butler and Alex Albright as the backups right now. Add in the newest linebacker Kyle Wilber who the Cowboys selected in the fourth round from Wake Forest and looks to contribute this season. Inside will be Sean Lee who had a breakout season in 2011 and has become the team leader. Next to him is anyone’s guess at this point. Bradie James and Keith Brookings are gone and the Cowboys are looking to see who will step up to replace them. Bruce Carter is now fully recovered from knee surgery, but can he get back to where he was in college before the injury? Dan Connor was brought in and would like nothing more than to start alongside Lee who he played with in college at Penn St. Orie Lemon adds depth as well as rookies Caleb McSurdy from Montana and Adrian Hamilton from Prairie View A&M.

Up front is where it should be interesting since there doesn’t look to be many changes compared to 2011. Jay Ratliff will be the man in the middle once again with Josh Brent backing him up. Jason Hatcher will most likely start on one end and as far as the other end it looks to be up in the air right now. Marcus Spears is still in the mix along with Sean Lissemore, Kenyon Coleman and Clifton Geathers. Add in rookie Tyrone Crawford from Boise State and the Cowboys have a lot of competition when it comes to the defensive end position.  

What it comes down to is that the Cowboys secondary has been rebuilt with youth and speed as Carr and Claiborne take over. With an improved secondary hopefully that will also create more pressure on opposing quarterbacks from the front seven and more turnovers. The defense should benefit from a full training camp learning Rob Ryan’s defense which was not possible last year due to the lockout. The Cowboys believe they have improved the defense and have corrected the issues that hurt them in 2011. Now it’s time to move forward and see if they are right.

Mike Jenkins needs to be a big part of the Cowboys secondary in 2012

When the Cowboys signed free agent cornerback Brandon Carr, many spoke about how improved the secondary would be as long as Mike Jenkins came back healthy in 2012. Now with the Cowboys trading up eight spots in the first round of the draft to select Morris Claiborne, some believe that Jenkins is the odd man out. There are even reports that the Cowboys have been looking to trade Jenkins in hopes of getting something for him since he becomes a free agent at the end of 2012. I think it would be a mistake to trade Jenkins at this point. He may choose to leave next off season, but for 2012 I believe he needs to be an important part of the Cowboys secondary.

When he is healthy, Jenkins is one of the top corners in the league. I understand that he has had some injuries recently, but those injuries occur because of how many times he gives up his body to make a play. Jenkins adds important depth and experience to the Cowboys secondary, which is needed for the long NFL season. He needs to be on the field helping the Cowboys. But how is that possible with the additions of Carr and Claiborne?

My question is can Jenkins play the slot position for the Cowboys? Will the Cowboys even consider that if he is not traded? I ask these questions because I believe that Orlando Scandrick is the weak link in the Cowboys secondary. From what I’ve seen over the last few seasons is that Scandrick is constantly getting beat by opposing receivers. And other times he is called for penalties because he is beaten on the play.  I think it was a mistake to sign Scandrick to such a long contract extension last season. And now with Carr and Claiborne on the team it magnifies that contract mistake even more because it might come at the expense of Jenkins leaving. Jenkins can help the Cowboys defense get to the next level, but he can’t do anything if he is sitting on the bench. With his talent he can’t be the odd man out.

The Cowboys secondary can be completely transformed in 2012 and become a force in the NFC East with Carr and Claiborne starting, Jenkins in the slot and Scandrick and Mario Butler as backups. I don’t know if the Cowboys would even consider trying Jenkins in the slot, but that is how I envision the secondary for 2012 being the most effective. Jenkins is just too good to be traded and also too good to be sitting on the bench. With the NFL being a pass happy league teams need at least three quality corners that can make plays. I guess the Cowboys could have worse problems than dealing with a bunch of cornerbacks that they believe should be on the field making a difference for the team.

Do Bad Things Happens In Three… Weeks?

Alright I am back. After having watched the very first two weeks of the NFL season. I can’t exactly say I am thrilled. The team seems to have so much inconsistently I am actually starting to think they might be bipolar or have some sort of multiple personality disorder. There is a multitude of things that are morphing what was initially was expected to be a fairy tale season into a greek tragedy. The good thing is that the issues themselves can be fixed. The bad thing is… they have to fix enough of it to get a win this week. Usually I don’t try to put too much in a now or never scenario too early in the season but, after checking the history books of the NFL I have some startling news for my fellow Cowboy fans. No team has ever… I mean EVER!! won the Super Bowl starting the season with an 0-3 record. IN fact there is only four team that have started the season 1-2 and won the Super Bowl. This obviously a very short list that includes the 1981 san Francisco 49ers, the 1993 Dallas Cowboys, the 2001 New England Patriots and the 2007 New York Giants.

Granted there is a some good news about how some of the players have performed but there is also some bad news. The biggest problem is these bad news players are bringing the team as a whole down to a level that none of us fans thought they would be at after two weeks. The defensive backfield and the ability to cover and create turnovers is a big problem. A defense needs to have the ability to create turnovers. We have had this same issue the last couple years espescially when it comes to getting interceptions. We played the Chicgao Bears last week. The same Bears team that has Jay Cutler at the helm on offense. Mr Interception himself! I figured we would at least walk away with two inteceptions. We walked away instead with a big goose egg. This can not happen. In fact the secondary seems to almost look lost when teams start throwing down the field on the them. When I say down the field I mean over ten yards. In fact our two pro bowl cornerbacks from last year seem to be getting burned on a regular basis.

Its one thing to say that the defensive front needs to put pressure on the quarterback in order to help out the secondary. We are getting pressure but it seems that opposing offense has been tearing us apart. The Chicago Bears game I believe we may have blitzed too much. We should have left some of the pressuring the quareterback to the defensive line and the two rush linebackers. We sold out on some of these blitzes and left Greg Olson open for long run after catches. I do believe if we can cause some turnovers though that this will help out our defense and also put our offense in position to score. This week though we are going up against a team that beat the team we lost to in week one. A team known for throwing the ball… ALOT!

Our offense on the other hand seems to be lacking the one thing that we should be excelling at… running the rock. We have what a lot fo people believe to be the best running back trio in the league. So why can’t we seem to create a running game that other teams will fear? Seriously we rank 28th in the league in rushing. Thats out of 32 teams folks. We also seem to hit the 30 yard line of the opponent and Garrett suddenly decides to put a clamp on the offensive play calling. It’s like we hit a wall or something. We move down the field at break neck speed but hit the other teams 30 yard line and then we turn into the Cleveland Browns. The worst part about it happening there is that most teams feel comfortable kicking a field goal from there. Not us our field goal kicker is still finding his rhythm on that aspect of his game.

The good news and yes I said good news is…  We are one game out first place. Thats right the other NFC East teams having been doing a whole lot better. Because of that I believe we are not as far in the whole as a lot fo these NFL “experts” have made us out to be. If we show up and become the team that all of us believe we can be I think  We can cover Andre Johnson and let D-Ware do what he does best… eat a quarterback for lunch. The offense needs to committ to the running game and use it help open up the passing game and drive us beyond that 30 yard line barrier that has become our line in the sand.

Cowboys Defensive Coalition

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

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

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

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

Getting the Party Started In San Antonio

Training camp signifies the beginning of football season, and the Cowboys always know how to get the party started right!

I’d like to thank my good friend Becky for sharing these pictures via text as she enjoyed memorable moments down in San Antonio. Training Camp is open to the public with free admission so if you are in the area or have the chance to make a road trip down south, as you can tell from these pictures I have no doubt you will have a wonderful time.

San Antonio, Texas Training Camp: July 23rd through August 6th

Oxnard, California Training Camp: August 14th through August 27th

Rowdy on stage at the Kickoff Spectacular

Felix Jones taking some time to sign autographs for fans

Roy Williams signing autographs for fans in the stands

Dez Bryant getting attacked by the media at training camp

Mike Jenkins and others on the sideline at practice

Marion Barber and teammates at practice

Tashard Choice stretching in the endzone

We Will Be Back

I am a very analytical ‘stats’ kind of fan.  I like to learn from the past to predict where we may go in the future, so please bear with me as I ramble on in my blogs.  I ended my last blog wanting to talk about the offensive line and the defensive secondary – and that I will.

2010 will mark 15 years since the Cowboys last hoisted the Lombardi trophy.  Let’s analyze then and now:


1995 produced four Pro Bowl offensive linemen (arguably it could have been five).  Names like Erik Williams, Larry Allen, Ray Donaldson, Nate Newton, and Mark Tuinei should bring a smile to any die-hard Dallas fan!  1995 also produced a line that gave up only 14 sacks for the entire season for a drop-back, pocket passer that would only scramble if there was a single, female country singer within his view (yes, I will give credit where credit is due to the slant route and to Emmitt).


2009 produced two Pro Bowl offensive linemen, Gurode and Davis; however, this line allowed 34 sacks for a scrambling quarterback that could give Houdini a run for his money.  Yet, this line produced 4.8 yards-per-carry for arguably one of the best three-headed running attacks in the league.  Hmm?


Arguably one of the best shut-down cornerbacks of all time basically cut the field in half (Deion Sanders) allowing Larry Brown, Darren Woodson, and Brock Marion to flourish; with Woodson having a Pro Bowl year.


2009 produced two Pro Bowl corners in Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins; but the safety positions remain in question.

So my first question – with names like Kosier, Gurode (Pro Bowl ’09), Davis (Pro Bowl ’09), Free, Colombo, Barron (who by all accounts is just another Flozell), and 7th round pick Young, can they keep Romo healthy enough (and calm enough in the pocket) to hit our targets?  We know they can run block, but can they protect the QB?

My second question – do you feel that the defensive line and the linebacker core are strong enough (which by all indications they are) to be left alone, or will they end up, more times than not, leaving Newman and/or Jenkins alone in space as they keep a safety in the box?  What are their names?  Ball, Church, Hamlin, McCray, Owusu-Ansah, and Sensabaugh.  You be the coach, what lineup do you go with?

In this writer’s opinion, the offensive line (particularly the left tackle) and the safety positions will determine the fate of this upcoming season.

Cowboys Playoff Chances Depend On Every Player Giving It Their All

Is anybody else as bored as I am during this painfully long Cowboys offseason?

Mike Florio of the Sporting News believes that the Cowboys are one of six teams that are virtually assured of making the playoffs this season.

The NFC East has a quartet of evenly-matched teams. Last year, for example, the Cowboys won the division even though the Giants, who didn’t qualify for the playoffs, swept them.

This year, each franchise has question marks. Of the four, the Cowboys have the fewest.

Then there’s the fact the Cowboys host the Super Bowl. That may not be enough of a carrot to get them to the game, but it should at least get them past the first major cut.

I agree with Florio, and I hope this time they can go all the way. The other teams he sees in the playoffs are the Chargers, Ravens, Colts, Vikings and Packers.

Is Mike Jenkins sounding a little too cocky and starting to take his starting role for granted?

Well according to some recent comments he made, Jenkins gave those listening the distinct impression that he no longer has to give 100% and work as hard as he once did when he was trying to nail down a starting job. According to ESPN Jenkins said,

“I’ve got a Pro Bowl under my belt, so that’s one of the goals I don’t even have to work for. I feel like my job right now is easier, so I don’t have to work as hard. I can just go on and ride that roller-coaster and keep playing.”

Jenkins is a great player and really excelled as one of the cornerbacks last season after leading the team with five interceptions, but there is still plenty of room left to grow and he is far from perfect.

Now that Jenkins sees no real threat to his starting job, rather than working on refining his skills to take his game to another level, he seems to have taken the approach that his starting job is safe and that he doesn’t need to try as hard.

I find that attitude totally unacceptable.

Hopefully, one of the veterans will take him aside and explain the concept of giving it your all and leaving it on the field.

This team needs players who are hungry for a title, and not simply satisfied because they achieved a meaningless individual honor of playing in the NFL’s most meaningless game, the Pro Bowl.

If we are going to make the playoffs, we need to play as a team with one solitary goal and focus.

Every player must give 110% percent every second that game clock is ticking.

The last thing we need is another key player essentially admitting that he is mailing it in.

Your 2010 Pro Bowl Cowboys

Sadly, the 2009 season ended for the Dallas Cowboys a couple of weeks ago, but this weekend when the Pro Bowl kicks off you might reconsider tuning in. In addition to the six Cowboys elected and Terence Newman who was added last week, two more will join the Cowboys coaching staff on the NFC roster. Andre Gurode will not be playing because of knee surgery.

Tony Romo and Mike Jenkins will play in the game due to injury of the elected starters. Romo was chosen to replace Brett Favre (ankle injury). Jenkins will replace Antoine Winfield (foot injury).

That makes a total of nine Cowboys attending this year’s Pro Bowl in Miami. Philadelphia is tied with Dallas for having the most players at the game. It is also the sixth most selections in franchise history.

StarStruck GraphicsYour 2010 Pro Bowl Cowboys:

Miles Austin, wide receiver

Leonard Davis, guard

Andre Gurode, center (injured)

Mike Jenkins, cornerback

Terence Newman, cornerback

Jay Ratliff, interior lineman

Tony Romo, quarterback

DeMarcus Ware, outside linebacker

Jason Witten, tight end

Head Coach Wade Phillips and his staff

Cowboys Fall to the Giants 31-24

Wade PhillipsDallas went to New York with high hopes and fell short, a touchdown short to be exact. Giants (7-5) walk away with the win and are only one “W” out of  first place. The Cowboys (8-4) now share the division lead with the Eagles. Never a dull moment in the NFC East.

Early on the Cowboys seemed to be controlling the game with a score of 10-0 up until the two minute warning. Then all of a sudden the Giants scored two touchdowns in less than two minutes right before halftime.

Tony Romo put up good numbers, but that just proves that stats don’t win games. Romo went 41/55, 392 yards, three touchdowns and ZERO interceptions. Romo’s 41 receptions set a new franchise record.

Roy Williams collected two touchdowns and had six receptions for 60 yards. Jason Witten came away with a career high 156 yards on 14 carries. While, Miles Austin had 10 receptions, 104 yards and one touchdown.

Romo and the receiving corps played great but those numbers mean nothing though when you lose to a division rival. And, it certainly didn’t help that the ground game never showed up. Between the three backs, Dallas only had 45 yards on the ground. All three lacked explosiveness and ran tentatively.

Nick Folk missed two field goals, and to be honest may not be a Cowboy for much longer. The Cowboys need a winner and Folk is definitely struggling lately. Many games come down to field goals and when you are in a run for the playoffs you need to be sure your kicker can make those shots.

On the defensive side of things, highlights include Jay Ratliff’s forced fumble and recover, Mike Jenkins’ interception and DeMarcus Ware had one sack. Other than that, mistakes, penalties and missed tackles were abundant.

This one is on the defense and special teams.

Jason Witten, who should have been celebrating a career best day and his 500th career catch said it best…

“We’ve got to challenge ourselves and find a way to play. We have to get back to it and forget all this December stuff. I’m not trying to avoid it or say it’s not true. We’ve got to put it away. You let another one slip and you’re really in trouble.”


Things we kept waiting for but never happened:

1. Massive Sack Attack from DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer

2. Deep Passes to Miles Austin

3. The Three-Headed Monster to Wake Up

4. Urgency From the Cowboys

Fans prepare yourself, because its going to be a long week of hearing about the Cowboys record in December. The schedule doesn’t get any easier either. Coming up: Chargers, Saints, Redskins, Eagles.

I’m not saying that our season is over, I’m not saying we can’t still win the division. All I’m saying is it won’t be easy.

This loss pissed me off more than any of the others this season. Usually I get sad, but not necessarily mad. It’s passion-driven anger. It’s uncontrollable and I shouldn’t let it get the best of me. I apologize to anyone who I offended or attacked during or after this game.

Don’t worry, I will pull myself together. I’ll get over it and look forward to the next game. The team should do the same thing. I hope they take this loss personally and take it out on the next team in line.

Injuries Will Make Things Interesting

Tomorrow the Cowboys face Redskins in Dallas for their first matchup of the season. The Skins will be missing some big names in their lineup including Chris Cooley and Clinton Portis. While the Cowboys will be without starters Ken Hamlin and Marc Colombo.

Washington may be banged up and they may only have a record of 3-6 but you can’t count this as a win just yet, as we’ve learned already this season.

The Cowboys have to hope that Doug Free is ready to fill in for Marc Colombo, otherwise the Cowboys offense could suffer severely. Alan Ball will be starting in Ken Hamlin’s place at free safety.

As always expect a great game between one of the biggest rivalries in football at “The House That Jerry Built” tomorrow at noon (central time).

Cowboys Injuries for Week 11
NamePositionInjuryPractice StatusGame Status
Marc ColomboTAnkleDid Not Participate In PracticeOut
Ken HamlinSAnkleDid Not Participate In PracticeOut
Allen RossumCBHamstringDid Not Participate In PracticeOut
Marion BarberRBThumbFull Participation in PracticeProbable
David BuehlerKright ToeFull Participation in PracticeProbable
Mike JenkinsCBElbowFull Participation in PracticeProbable
Gerald SensabaughSThumbFull Participation in PracticeProbable
DeMarcus WareLBFootFull Participation in PracticeProbable
Redskins Injuries for Week 11
NamePositionInjuryPractice StatusGame Status
Chris CooleyTEAnkleOut (Definitely Will Not Play)Out
Clinton PortisRBConcussionOut (Definitely Will Not Play)Out
Eddie WilliamsRBAnkleOut (Definitely Will Not Play)Out
Albert HaynesworthDTAnkleDid Not Participate In PracticeQuestionable
Mike WilliamsTAnkleDid Not Participate In PracticeQuestionable
Stephon HeyerTKneeLimited Participation in PracticeQuestionable
Ladell BettsRBAnkleFull Participation in PracticeProbable

Injury Report from

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?

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

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

green bay dallas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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