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Friday’s Cowboy Notes

Here it is Friday, a couple days before game time. This is usually the time where Cowboys fans, or football fans in general begin to get that itch, to get that feeling as the excitement starts to build for the upcoming battles of the weekend. Statistics are showing that interest in the sport are the highest they have been in twenty years or so, and you can feel it and see it everywhere you look. Right now Cowboys fans still have this feeling, but I think it is a bit more subdued as we are unsure of which way our team is going to go. We seem to be on the apex of our season right now and we are only four games in, teetering on the point where if it gets worse we will slide back down to another disappointing season. But if they are able to turn it around and take care of business the point at which they sit can become just a step as they climb back up to the top where we know they can and should be. It NEEDS to start this weekend against the the Kansas City Chiefs. A loss against this team can and probably will force the Cowboys down to another dreadful season.

Injuries are obviously a part of the game, and Dallas has had their share early on. Wide Receiver Roy Williams and Strong Safety Gerald Sensabaugh will not practice Friday and their status for the game this weekend is doubtful.

“We’ll wait and see [up until] the last minute on all those guys,” Phillips said before Friday’s practice. “They haven’t gotten a lot better, so you want to be well enough to play. You don’t want to play with injured players … and they haven’t gotten to the point, right now, where it looks like they will be ready.”

Miles Austin will take Roy Williams starting spot in the likely event he will not play, and as Kelly mentioned earlier in the week Safety Patrick Watkins would replace Sensabaugh in the secondary. Running Back Felix Jones also will not practice and has been ruled out for this weekends game, while Center Andre Gurode has improved and will most likely play. Tackle Flozell Adams and Running Back Marion Barber were full participants in practice, and the Barbarian should have a big day against the suspect Chiefs defense.

With Barber coming back we really need Tony Romo to step it up. We all know his play the last couple games (I hate to say it) has been horrible. We need him to be confident in his ability and in his team and try to stretch the field against the Chiefs. Tony is only 1-7 for 80 yards, a touchdown and an interception on pass attempts of 21 yards or more on the season. That is not good and it has to change and if he is able to do this it should open up the running game for Marion Barber and Tashard Choice.

You wouldn’t know it but the Cowboys are tied for fourth in total offense (3rd rush, 13 pass) and 26th in total defense (18th rush, 29th Pass). I think the lack of defense is what jumps out to me, that too has to change. So fans dont give up yet. The Cowboys are 8 1/2 point favorites as of right now and have a very winnable game this weekend. So before you jump off lets wait and see if the Boys can do what they are supposed to do to the Chiefs, and if for some reason they dont, I will be the first to clear the way down.

Cowboys Secondary is a Primary Concern

We are three weeks into free agency and I have to admit am very concerned about our secondary situation.

First, we release Adam Jones, which even though he has skills was a must move. Then we trade Anthony Henry for our new backup quarterback. I still don’t understand the move with free agents like Garcia and Leftwich still out there looking for jobs.

Another questionable move was the Roy Williams release. As bad as he was in pass coverage, he is better than what we have right now.

The only addition to  the secondary is Gerald Sensabaugh, who is mediocre at best. Although Sensabaugh did have his best year in Jacksonville in 2008, he has had some trouble with the law. After being arrested three times, the latest in February, he may start the season on suspension by the NFL. This signing baffles me. He is the exact type of player the Cowboys are trying to avoid, but thats another story for a different time.

Safeties… So as of right now Ken Hamlin and Patrick Watkins are our starting safeties, with Tra Battle and Courtney Brown as backups. Sensabaugh will jump into the starting lineup whenever he is available to play. This absolutely scares me that we have no one better than him to start. Keith Davis is still on the roster but expected to sign somewhere else shortly. There is very little left out in free agency. A Darren Sharper or Mike Brown maybe, but signing Sensabaugh tells me Jerry is not looking for another safety in free agency. I have seen Patrick Chung in a lot of mock drafts being there for the Cowboys at pick 51. He is a Roy Williams type that has better speed to play the pass. He would be a nice addition to the secondary and I could even see him jumping into the starting lineup at some point in ’09. After Chung the pool of safeties is not very deep so lets hope he stays out there for the ‘Boys.

Cornerbacks… Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins are the starters right now, with Scandrick and Ball as their backups. This is the scariest position for the Cowboys in my mind. With three of the four corners having 2 years or less experience in the NFL and Newman constantly being injured, it seems like a recipe for disaster. I hear people say we need to let the younger guys develop. That’s the smart thing to do, but you don’t develop them by throwing them out into the starting lineup on a team that should be contending for the Super Bowl. Jerry needs to sign a veteran so the younger guys can learn by being out there on 3 or 4 receiver sets.

Scandrick and Jenkins have skills but I’d much rather see them learning against a 3rd or 4th receiver rather than getting torched by a one or two. Ken Lucas was released last week, I would love to see Jerry go after him. Other than that Dre Bly and Chris Mccallister are the only semi-decent corners left. Taking a corner in the draft just isn’t going to happen. The ‘Boys have three young talented guys they just need some guidance from experienced veterans. I don’t even want to think about how devastating it would be if Newman got injured, but recent history has shown us there is a good chance.

I know a lot of you are saying as long as we get pressure on the quarterback the young guys will be fine, right? Yes, we led the league in sacks last year, but (and I am not going to throw a big stat at you) the Cowboys had no consistent pressure at all! (Igor Olshansky should help.) Games like the Tampa, Seattle, and San Francisco  are a great examples. Yes we won the games and yes we stopped them in the red zone, but these three pathetic offenses moved the ball on us at will between the twenties. If those were decent teams we could just as easily lost.

Honestly, I hope I am wrong and that the young guys thrive. I just don’t see how we can contend for our sixth ring with the secondary in the shape it’s in.

 I am going to leave you with my stat of the offseason. The Cowboys only had 8 interceptions last year. Yes, that’s right, only 8! One pick was by a pass rush specialist, Greg Ellis, and four by Newman, that leaves only 3 picks by the rest of the secondary. That is pathetic! Only Detroit and Denver had less interceptions than the ‘Boys did last year. The Cowboys need to improve the secondary or we have no chance of contending for the Super Bowl in ’09.

Take A Deep Breath

Cowboys Still In Great Shape

 12 and 2, NFC Division Champs, First round bye in the Playoffs and a Great Chance for home field throughout the playoffs still in the mix. I find myself taking a deep breath despite the loss to the Eagles, (which was a very tough pill to swallow.) The only thing worrying me coming out of a 10 to 6 loss to the Eagles was the injuries to a number of key players for the Cowboys. 

Tony Romo

Romo suffered a right thumb contusion, and left Sundays game with his right hand heavily bandaged, but said he would be "fine" for Saturdays game against the Panthers. If his bruised thumb still affects him It would be wise to concentrate more on running the ball.

Andre Gurode

The Pro Bowl Center Gurode left the game Sunday with a sprained left knee. Gurode had and MRI done on his knee Monday and was waiting for results to come in later Monday evening. Nothing has came in as of yet on the status of Gurode at this time.  We just need to hope that Gurode will return to the Field for the Panthers game on Saturday. If we are having to rely mostly on the run, then Gurode will defiantly be needed going up against the Panthers defensive tackle Kris Jenkins who is one the best at his position.

Chris Canty

Phillips said Canty had just a sprained knee and could be ready to play this week.

Anthony Fasano

Fasano suffered a mild concussion Sunday afternoon, but Phillips stated that it isn’t anything serious and would be ready to play on Saturday. 

Patrick Watkins

Watkins might not be ready to play this week, Phillips termed his injury just a "regular ankle sprain" that doesn’t appear to be a long-term setback.

The Cowboys still have plenty of things to be optimistic about regardless of their bad day Sunday. Terry Glenn is Hopeful to return to the lineup on Saturday. And Everyone including myself have been eagerly anticipating his return. With his presence on the field he is going to open up this offense to a whole other level. 

Things are still on the UP and UP for the Boyz. We as Fans just need to brush off this past game and be hopeful for everyone to be healthy and ready to go on game day. I don’t feel like this is the December slide that most have been worrying about. I feel like this is going to be a December To Remember  for the rest of our Die Hard Cowboys Lives.  So lets all take a deep breath and get pumped up for Saturday.  Go Cowboys!!!!