Posts

Who Will Be the Cowboys Mystery Youngster?

Each year all thirty two NFL teams begin on the same footing. No wins, no losses and no ties. Usually they all have their minor bumps and bruises as they progress through mini and training camps. Every owner, general manager, coach and player have the same goal in mind. Super Bowl Champion. That’s right all three words have a capital letter because it is that important. Each one of those four positions have some of their own duties that are different from each of the other four or at least not the same as the other four. One duty that they all share is how to make all the pieces come together so they can achieve that one goal that they start every year with.

Each off season all players move on to another season whether it be with another team, another step in their life as they retire or maybe even stay with the same team and try to build on the blocks that have already been assembled. For those special few though that are drafted out of college to start their childhood dream of playing for an NFL team they become those mystery players that every fan wonders if they will be able to make it in the NFL. Granted some of them were so well known in college and they were drafted in the first round of the draft but there are those that fly under the radar and no one sees it coming. They end up playing a significant part on their new team. Some take a year to gather all the information before it starts to click but occasionally a team will get that difference maker. Where everything clicks the moment they put that NFL helmet on. Each team has these players but more importantly every Super Bowl Champion has these players. So I venture into the NFL statistics vault to find out who some of these players were over the last five years and who might possibly be candidates for the Dallas Cowboys in 2010 as they drive towards the six-pack of Lombardi Trophy’s.

Over the last five years each NFL champion has had one or two players that were either in their rookie season or in their second year that made a difference on their run to a Super Bowl title. They may not have even started but they may have filled a hole in the lineup due to injury or maybe they were the situational player that wasn’t on the field every down. Either way they made a difference for their team. Last year there was a player on the Saints that many may not have heard of because his name isn’t announced very often and the only time you hear his name spoken is if he makes a mistake. The Saints second year player out of Nebraska, Car Nicks, came into last season and ended up starting all sixteen games of the regular season for them. In fact he had started 29 out of thirty games for them he has given up only two sacks over his first two years and only had his name called six times over two years for penalties while he held down that left guard position and help establish a rushing game and keep Drew Brees upright. The year prior Lamarr Woodley in his second year played fifteen games for the Steelers and racked up 11.5 sacks on their way to their title. Barry Cofield was fourth round pick for the Giants and playe din 16 games for them in their drive for the trophy. The year before that the Colts had two second year corners that played in almost every game during the regular season. Marlin Jackson sealed their victory of the Patriots on their way to the Super Bowl. Kelvin Hayden took a pick back for the Colts against the Bears for a touchdown to seal the win in that game. The Steelers fifth title was highlighted by two players, Ben Roethlisberger and Max Starks, that started 14 and 10 games respectively. Roethlisberger even won the Rookie of the Year trophy the year before.

Now you may start thinking to yourself(at least I did) … Who could be that player for the Cowboys this year? Well lets just say there isnt a lack of players that has the opportunity to do it. Between last years draft and this years draft there are definitely some players with the talent and ability to step up and make the difference during this season. Kevin Ogletree is one of the fastest players on the team and he was really starting to come on at the end of last year. Dez Bryant is fresh out of college and if his production matches his hype the NFC East will be in a world of trouble for years to come. Receivers and those skill position players are easy to pick out by just the average fan. I am looking for that player that comes from no where and as the season starts to progress they start to question… Where did he come from? This is complicated by the fact that the player will need to also have an honest chance at possibly making it on to the field. So below I have listed my top five players based on those two categories mainly but with other factors added in as well.

(1) David Buehlergranted almost every Cowboys fan knows who he is but he is taking on the actually kicker position for field goals as well. They brought in Chris Boniol to help coach him up as he has never really had any formal training by a kicking coach. Boniol, who holds the record for field goals by a Cowboy, has already been with him and working through the off season. With the type of offense many are expecting the Cowboys to have he could have an outstanding year when it comes to points. They really haven’t brought in any competition for him but if he starts to stumble I am sure Jerry will have no problem finding a replacement. That is the main reason he is at the top of this list. The job is his. All he has to do know is … Aim, Plant..   and Swing!!

(2) Michael Hamlin – a fifth round pick out of Clemson a year ago. He was making some strides until he broke his arm. He didn’t do much the rest of the season as he found himself just struggling to get on the field. He makes number two because he the starter from last year is gone. This basically brings the fight for the position to come down to the winner between Alan Ball and him. He is a little bigger than Ball and if he can somehow get his hands on the starting position. He couldreally make a name for himself. Thought they did sign Barry Church out of Toledo after the draft and he could be dangerous as he is talented has nothing to lose.

(3) Sean Lee – Drafted this year in the second round there were a lot of teams that thought prior to the college season that this could have been a sure fire first round pick. He comes form Linebacker U after all. Thinking of all the linebackers that have come out of Penn State just makes me smile when I think of this kid. His only downfall is his injury history. He played like a first rounder through college but had a torn ACL his junior year. Has enough speed to play all three positions in 4-3 defense but in the 3-4 he will be able to roam as an inside backer and with Brooking getting a little long in the tooth it might not be long before we start hearing his name announced in the starting lineup.

(4) Akwasi Owusu-Ansah- though I was initially a big fan of Scandrick when we drafted him this kid has more than just the ability to step in on passing downs and display his coverage ability. He also is a pretty electrifying return man in college. Granted his dancing feet wont work well in the pros he will how ever be able to make people miss no matter how close they are to him. He could make his impact felt not only in the secondary as a nickel corner but also in the return game. If he can beat out Scandrick or even just make it as one of the defensive backs on the team they could also use him as a possible candidate at safety thought he is only 6 feet tall. I am looking forward to seeing what he can do on returns more than anything and I believe he will be an upgrade over what we have now.

(5) Victor Butler- Many already know who he is the limited spot duty he was able to play last year. He came in as a pass rushing specialist to give Spencer and Ware a breather. He ended up tying for fifth in the league for in sacks by rookies and if he is able to improve on his coverage abilities which he has been working on during the off season with Reggie Herring(linebackers coach) and Anthony Spencer he could give Spencer a run for his money and maybe give the Cowboys a depth of riches at the position. Especially with fellow 2009 draftee Brandon Williams earning lots of praise already this year at the same position during off season workouts.

Franchise or Not, Miles Will Stay In Dallas

According to a recent post at Star-Telegram.com the Cowboys will not franchise Miles Austin nor will they sign him to a long term deal. What?

“We don’t need to use the franchise tag,” said Stephen Jones. “How many times have you seen another team give up a one and a three?”

“It’s very difficult for us to make an offer when we don’t know what the system is going to be. I’m not saying that it won’t happen, but it may be difficult,” Stephen Jones said. “We want to win next year, but we want to win in the future.”

Jerry Jones was quoted on ESPN radio saying the Cowboys will do whatever it takes to retain Austin.

“We’re just not going to have Miles Austin any place but with the Dallas Cowboys,” Jerry Jones said on ESPN/103.3 FM radio.

I’m sure that the recent comments from Stephen Jones will send some into a tizzy and spur on an onslaught of posts raising the panic alert, but all Jones did was explain the course of action regarding Miles Austin and the current climate surrounding the yet to be determined collective bargaining agreement.

Obviously the owners want to reduce the rate of salary growth while the players union want the opposite. It may take some time before they come to an agreement that suits both of them.

With the financial picture so cloudy and hard to predict, it makes it difficult for all NFL teams to negotiate long term deals with their current players.

Would you go out and buy a new house after finding out that your company was laying off 300 workers next month?

How can the Cowboys negotiate a big deal with Austin when there’s even a slight chance that there still might be a cap, and if the owners get their way, a smaller cap…

Another huge contract on top of those already given to Roy Williams, Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware and Marion Barber could suffocate the Cowboys and prevent them from making any other additional moves.

Hopefully, a new collective bargaining agreement will be in place by March 5, 2010, thus making it easier for the Cowboys and every other NFL franchise to navigate through their offseason plans and better prepare for the new season.

Miles Austin isn’t going anywhere. He is now one of our most prized possessions and there is no way the Cowboys would risk losing him.

Happy Thanksgiving Cowboys Fans!

TG2

On behalf of everyone at Lone Star Struck, we would like to thank all of our wonderful readers and contributors for all of their amazing support over the years.

It’s always such an enormous pleasure to share our opinions and interact with the number one football fans in the world!

We also want to thank and remember all of our brave men and women who continue to serve our country and defend the American way of life. Our thoughts are always with you, and we honor your incredible courage and commitment to protecting our freedom.

Thanksgiving and Dallas Cowboys football has always been a great American tradition that sets us apart from all the other NFL teams. Here’s to a great game today as we take on the Oakland Raiders. Today is all about family, friends, great food and Dallas Cowboys football baby!

From all of us, to all of you…

 

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

 

turkeystars

THE LOSS TO THE REDSKINS…CAN I SAY A FEW WORDS ABOUT T.O.?

Hello Cowboy fans…

Normally I only write one story a week for Lonestar, but this week I felt the urgency to write two stories. My second story, Cowboys’-Bengals’…and a guy named OchoCinco will post on Thursday. 

Let me start off by saying I was very unhappy about the Cowboy loss on Sunday afternoon as I am sure all Cowboy fans were. The team seemed much unprepared, at times very non-responsive, and seemed for the most part as having that “why do I have to work on Sunday attitude”. I was especially disappointed in the selection of plays that were called on offense. MB3 getting only 8 touches and Felix never got into the backfield. It seemed the coaches went completely away from their normal offensive game plan that up until Sunday has been almost flawless.

I thought Tony was running for his life all day and the defense at times looked non-existent. I know it is a rival game and seems like over the last few years the Cowboys’ have had their fair share of difficulty beating the Redskins’ when clearly they were the better team. This game on Sunday was no exception to that rule.

Now did this writer think our beloved boys would “run the table” and reach that 19-0 perfect season? Let me answer that one loud and clear before all the Cowboy fans send out a lynch mob, hunt me down, and we all head for the biggest oak true we can find.

No, that thought, to be honest, never crossed my mind. As I commented in a previous post last week it is extremely difficult in this day and time of professional football to go undefeated. With the age of the salary cap that causes such parity between the NFL teams, and not to mention I knew going into this game on Sunday, it would be a difficult test. Even though this is not one of the better Redskins’ team, they are still pros, and a pro team can beat another pro team on any given Sunday.

Of course anytime the Cowboy’s and Redskins’ meet, no matter what the season records, it is always a four quarter fight to the end. I just sensed watching the game, that Cowboys’ had no sense of urgency. They seemed they would go and score when they wanted to and other times they seemed to just be somewhere else.

Secondly, I wanted to make a statement regarding T.O… I was extremely disappointed at his after the game comments which began airing on all the media outlets almost immediately after he said it. T.O. made the statement that “when I touch the ball, the chains move and when I don’t touch the ball, the offense goes stagnate”. Well Terrell, here’s news flash for you. I do not know what stadium you were at on Sunday, but I certainly think you had your fair share of touching the ball! T.O. had 17 balls thrown to him and he caught 7, not to mention he had two end-around plays making a total of 9 touches for the game. Now in defense of Terrell, there were some balls thrown to him that if he had been ten feet tall he could not have caught. Then there were others that I could have caught that he missed, especially the one in the corner of the end zone that went right through his hands.

What aggravates me is the fact this is the same kind of talk that filtered through the locker rooms of T.O.’s former teams, San Francisco and Philadelphia which eventually cumulated with T.O. leaving both squads and burning all the bridges behind him. When T.O. came to Dallas, I was one of his most staunch supporters and it was me that always said “T.O. is finally happy, leave him alone and he will be a shining star”. In reality this has been the case and he has been a role model player for the team.

Now we all know that T.O. is going to be T.O. to a certain extent. You will never take the man out of the kid or the kid out of the man. I just think it was wrong for his post game comments especially when it seems at times the offense was all about Terrell, and it seemed to me that the play calling was all about Terrell. For him to make those type of comments when it was just not true was signs of the old Terrell Owens. Now I know Terrell thinks the team is all about him and that is fine to take that leadership role. Just remember there is no” I in the word team” and a real leader of a team is not going to come out make those types of statements.

In addition, T.O. has seemed to take the leadership role with “Pacman” in keeping him on the straight and narrow. Remember you lead by example and in my humble opinion; you set a bad example on Sunday night.

So T.O. if you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say anything. Let your game on the field do you’re talking for you!!

The Ralph Neely Bowl and the Governor’s Cup

Cowboys fans no need to worry or go find the highest building with a very small ledge. A 0-2 start in pre-season, as long as it’s not accompanied by crippling injuries, means absolutely nothing. I think all coach Phillips really wants is to get to the Sept. 7 opener in Cleveland with all hands on deck.

I think the coaching staff has been very encouraged with camp and the pre-season so far. The Cowboys have definitely upgraded their personnel over the one that posted a 13-3 season in 2007 and at this point good health is all that counts.

So this brings us to Friday night when the state’s two NFL teams collide on national TV  at Texas Stadium. As preseason football goes, this will be as good as it gets. I have heard that both teams plan to play their starters into the third quarter. There may even be more than the usual intensity.

After all, the Governor’s Cup is on the line!!

As far as bad blood, however, none really exists between the two teams. The Texans, though they are responsible for the single most embarrassing moment in (what a lot of football purist say) Dallas’ history they will never be a rival to “America’s team”. Still Jerry will not ever forget what happened in 2002 when the Texans became the first NFL team in 41 years to win an expansion season opener at the expense of our beloved Cowboys.

Jerry Jones has never been one to take anything lying down. The Cowboys have since rebounded to become one of the top three or four teams in the NFL and they are playing their final season in Texas Stadium. Next year they move into the spectacular “JerryWorld”, which by most accounts is the be all and end all of modern stadiums. So Reliant stadium get ready to take a back seat again!

Now lastly let me close with some history that most Cowboy fans may or may not know. Back in the mid 1960’s when the Houston Oilers (now Texans) were part of an upstart American Football League. I have to tell you it was all out war between the AFL and the NFL. The two operations held separate drafts and were hot on the heels of college stars like Billy Cannon and Joe Namath.

But it was an offensive lineman from Oklahoma named Ralph Neely who turned the Oilers into longtime Cowboy’s owner Tex Schramm’s mortal enemy. Both Houston and Dallas signed Neely. At that time Oiler’s owner Bud Adams promptly filed suit against the Cowboys.
In a Houston courtroom, Dallas seemingly won the battle and lost the war. Neely was awarded to the Cowboys, but at a steep price. The judge ruled that Houston would get Dallas’ No. 1, No. 2 and its two No. 5 picks in the 1967 common draft between the newly merged NFL and AFL.

As if the draft choices weren’t a bitter enough pill for Schramm and the Cowboys to swallow, the judge decreed that Dallas must play five preseason games against the Oilers, with three of them in Houston. Nevertheless, the Cowboys dutifully came to Houston to play the Oilers at Rice Stadium in 1967 for the first of a series of exhibitions that came to be known as the Ralph Neely Bowl. Neely, by the way, quickly became an All-Pro tackle and started 12 years for Tom Landry.

They have played over 30 more times in pre-season since that 5 year shotgun wedding we had to go through.

The Governor’s Cup still means a lot to some, but will never mean what it meant to Tex Schramm and Bud Adams.

This Might Explain Some Things – NFL Salary Cap

A lot of fans are continuously asking why we aren’t signing Marion Barber – you say ‘do it now’, ‘give him the money!’ Well the truth is the Cowboys don’t have the money because of the salary cap. They have $3.9 million left and are number 30 of 32 in the list of NFL teams money left under the cap. We still need some funds for the draft, in which the Cowboys hope to pick up some future stars.

That’s why they issued Barber the highest tender, it was the best way to keep him safe. God forbid someone makes Barber an offer and the Cowboys have to counter-offer, they will have to move some numbers. If all goes well, Barber will probably get a long term deal this summer or during the next season. Don’t sweat it!

NFL Salary Cap Facts:
2008 numbers: Cap = $116 million, Floor = 85.2% of cap = $98.8 million

In transitions, if a player retires, is traded, or is cut before June 1st, all remaining bonus is applied to the salary cap for the current season. If the payroll change occurs after June 1st, the current cap is unchanged, and the next year’s cap must absorb the entire remaining bonus.

Because of this treatment, NFL contracts almost always include the right to cut a player before the beginning of a season. If a player is cut, his salary for the remainder of his contract is not paid, and never counted against the salary cap for that team. A highly sought-after player signing a long term contract will usually receive a guaranteed signing bonus, thus providing him with financial security even if he is cut before the end of his contract.

Source: Wikipedia.com

Although the following article is about how most teams have more money than they can spend, the Cowboys aren’t really one of those teams. Check out this article.

Increase has teams well under salary cap – Yahoo! Sports

Back in Dallas

 

 

 

Jason Garrett… name sounds familiar. Oh yeah, he was Troy Aikman’s back up QB in the 90s. Those were some great years! Even though Garrett didn’t get to play very often, he was still there taking it all in. And now after a day long meeting at the Ranch with Jerry and Stephen Jones and Bill Parcells, Garrett has been offered the job as Offensive Coordinator. Not only that but he is now one of the top candidates for the Head Coach Opening. What? This guy wasn’t even on anyone’s list as a probable contender. Well, since when does that matter?

Wade Phillips seems to be a very likely possibility. The Dallas Cowboys requested and were granted permission from the Chargers to talk to Phillips. During an interview the native Texan told reporters:

"I’m really happy where I am. I can’t say enough about the (Chargers’) organization and the players and the fans. But I have family and a home there. Us Texans, even though we haven’t been there in 20 years, it’s always home and the Cowboys are our home team."

That sounds pretty promising to me. Considering the way the 06 Chargers season went, I think I’d be happy with that. Phillips has been head coach of 4 NFL teams: Saints, Falcons, Bills and Broncos. He has the experience and has been very successful most recently as the defensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers who were 14-2 this past season.

I believe Phillips and Garrett would make an awesome pair. However there are still other names and possibilities that have been tossed around and no decision has been confirmed yet. So back to the waiting game. I feel confident whatever the decision, that 2007 will be a very successful year for the Dallas Cowboys. A new leader… a new year… a new outlook.