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Cowboys’ – Bengals’…. Where is That Killer Instinct?

Good Afternoon Cowboys’ Fans:

As we close the book on the game with the Cincinnati Bengals and a 31-22 victory yesterday, I can sum this game up by saying, “complacent, somewhat lethargic, and often just down right sloppy”. I don’t know if the Cowboys were still “hung over” from the loss to the Redskins or not, but this team is experiencing some mental issues right now that I am not sure a good “shrink” would have the answers. They have lost “that killer instinct”!!

When the Cowboys jumped out to an early 17-0 lead, I felt the game was going just as planned against a Bengals team the boys were supposed to beat easily. Suddenly it seemed the Cowboys let their foot off the gas and began to coast. Before they could speed up again, it was 14 minutes to go in the game and the Cowboy’s lead had shrunk to 17-16. It was only then that Marcus Spears forced a Chris Perry fumble and the Cowboys’ came back to life. Romo connected with T.O. on a 57 yd touchdown pass and the game seemed to be in hand.

 I was happy to see the running game return with MB3 and Felix Jones, and the defense played very well. I was very disappointed we lacked intensity in other areas i.e. special teams and QB play.

I became extremely concerned in the third quarter with Tony Romo as I think everyone in Texas Stadium could sense he had gotten so down on himself that it really affected his play and mentally he had taken himself completely out of the game. I just think Tony is “beating himself up” over his turnover situation so far this season to the point it is actually affecting the way he releases the ball. I felt yesterday that at times he was almost unsure about throwing the ball in fear he will throw another interception. That was not the normal Romo that is usually all smiles and loving to play the game as he finished with a very uncharacteristic season low of 14-23 for 176 yds and three touchdowns.

Possibly we can look upon this victory and the lack of intensity by the Cowboys was due to playing the 0-4 Bengals? What concerns me though is if that is the case, the Cowboys have to get back to the basics again.

To play on words; “When you have a wounded animal backed into a corner like the Bengals were, you have to go in for the kill.” The Cowboys have a relatively difficult test Sunday on the road against the Cardinals and then two games that would seem to be easy tests against the Rams in St. Louis and Tampa Bay at home. These games are a chance to gain back that momentum. A momentum and they must have in 4 weeks when they travel to the Meadowlands for their first match up with the “G-men”.

I am in no way down our team or feel that this team is not still the best in the NFL. I think they just need to do some soul searching and come back to that determination and intensity that they had at the beginning of the season. They need to get back that “killer instinct”!!! 

Get Off the Ledge Cowboys Fans

What can we learn from a week 4 loss?

A tough loss? YES! Losing at home to a division rival? NOT GOOD!  Is this the beginning of the end for the 2008 season?  C’MON….NO!

If there were one team that any true Cowboy fan would least like to lose to it would have to be the Washington Redskins.  While falling to 3-1 and out of first place is not what many would have thought going into this weekend hope for a Super Bowl is not lost.  In fact, if you would have asked me before the season where we would have been after four games I probably would have said 3-1 and take it. 

With a home game against winless Cincinnati this week things may look different after next week.  What Sunday’s loss did to me was start to cast some doubts as far as the Cowboys ability to win at home.  As we mentioned last week Dallas is 0-5 in their last 5 December home games.  Three of the four losses last year were at home as well.  If we do not start dominating at home this may turn out to be a very difficult year.  Let’s face it: four of the best, let’s say six, teams are in the NFC East.  I feel confident that we will be able to get this game back and win a division game on the road this year.  But it does say something that I am more confident winning in New York than at home.  If we don’t get back to winning at home the road to Tampa may start and finish on the road.

 

From where I’m sitting:

  • Barber 8 carries, F Jones 0….we’re not going to win many games like that.  And if you didn’t think so before MB3 is the key to the offense (remember 2nd half vs Giants).  The offense will only be as good as the running game is. 
  • I have seen enough of Anthony Henry.  Not that he played that badly or did anything in particular on Sunday.  It’s time for M Jenkins or A Jones to take over at corner
  • Nitpicking here but can Andre Gurode please do a better job with the shotgun snaps..kills the timing of every shotgun play
  • Boy is Santana Moss a pain in the neck
  • 12 men on field??   After a timeout??  CMON!!!
  • I love Tony Romo.  After years of Q Carter, D Bledsoe, V Testaverde, R Leaf & D Henson it is nice to have a QB that can play.  That being said HE HAS TO STOP WITH THE TURNOVERS!  Sunday makes 7 straight games with an INT.  The 3rd qtr INT changed the entire game.  If he doesn’t start practicing ball security any playoff run will be a short one.

Gene Upshaw the Ambassador of the Game

Like many, I awoke this morning to hear the sad news that Gene Upshaw had passed away. I did not know Upshaw personally or anything, but I watched him so much as a Raider, I feel like I lost a friend.  He was a legendary Raider that prevented would be tacklers from getting to the quarterback and consistently, with Art Shell, opened gaping holes for a running game that was nearly unstoppable.

Seven Pro Bowls, eleven all league or all conference selections, he was a pivotal cog on an offensive line that made it to the Super Bowl three times and won two while he held down the fort left of center.  It nearly seems appropriate that the Raiders’ and possibly the NFL’s greatest player to ever wear the number 63 also passed away at the age of 63.

Upshaw is part of the NFL’s 75 Year Anniversary All Time team, was the captain of the Raiders offensive unit for eight years.  During the fifteen years he spent as a Raider, the team went to the playoffs 11 times, won 8 divisional titles, one AFL Championship, two AFC titles, and two world championships.  He’s the only player in NFL history to participate in three different Super Bowls in three different decades.

This writer spent many Sundays watching Upshaw and the great Art Shell sweep right or sweep left and throwing lead blocks for Raider runners. It was sight for the football fan’s eyes.

Later after his playing days were over Upshaw was pivotal in getting many things done for the players in NFL as head of the (NFLPA) National Football League Players Association.

Player’s salaries have risen to unbelievable amounts while protected with pensions after three years of service. A rookie can now make a league minimum of $200,000.00 which was never the case when Upshaw came into the league. Over the years Upshaw worked behind the scenes and helped make the NFL one of the best systems in all of professional sports.

I think one of the greatest accomplishments Upshaw achieved as chief of the NFLPA is that the NFL marketing arm is both the owners and players walking hand in hand.

Gene Upshaw promoted all this unity between the players and the owners. He always worked on the belief that what was good for the players was good for the league and what was good for the league was good for the players. This was a tough act to balance, but if you grew up watching Gene Upshaw you knew he was a tough guy and could carry the load.

So tonight when we watch our heroes’ on the gridiron, take a moment to remember Gene Upshaw. The player, the pro-bowler, the NFL player executive and the man.
GO COWBOYS!!

A Texas-Size Running Back Controversy

Even before the Philadelphia Daily News posted the rumor that Julius Jones could be traded for the right price, we were talking about the Cowboys running back dilemma. Right after the season ended we asked this question:

1. I love both Julius Jones and Marion Barber equally, but both of them want to start and yet only one of them can. How does this situation resolve itself next season?

We didn’t get many responses, I think alot of people didn’t consider it an issue. Think about it though, we have two starters but only one of them can actually start. Yes, Marion Barber got most of the touchdowns, an impressive 16. Julius Jones only had 4 TDs but he racked up 1084 rushing yards in 2006. It was a nice 2-back system Parcells was running. But alot has changed since last season ended, and even more will change before training camp comes around. And don’t forget about Tyson Thompson. Tyson was placed on injured reserve after breaking his ankle in Week 8 last season. Prior to his injury he was turning a few heads with his kickoff returns and his speed. So we may see him in the mix in 2007.

I think with the success of the Dallas running game in 2006 it would be ideal to keep the 2 back system intact. In fact, Jerry Jones was quoted saying, "It’s likely that we’ll be going with the running back group we ended the season with," Jones said. "Hopefully we can have (Tyson) Thompson there that could give us a third back." I would love to see this happen. I think if Barber and Jones only improve during the off-season, they will be unstoppable together next season. It will all come down to how they handle the situation. If Jones accepts Barber gets most of the TDs, and Barber accepts that Jones is the starter, then its smooth sailing ahead; but if not, we will have ourselves a Texas-size running back controversy.

 

Cowboys Coaching Staff

2006 Departures:
Head Coach – Bill Parcells (retired)
Passing Game Coordinator/WR – Todd Haley (went to Arizona)
Running Backs – Anthony Lynn (went to Cleveland)
Tight Ends – Freddie Kitchens (went to Arizona)
Quarterbacks – Chris Palmer (went to NY Giants)
Off. Quality Control – David Lee (went to Univ. of Arkansas)
Defensive Coordinator – Mike Zimmer (went to Atlanta)
Safeties – Mike MacIntyre (went to NY Jets)
Special Teams – Bruce DeHaven (went to Seattle)

Still Around:
Running Game Coordinator/OL – Tony Sparano
Linebackers – Paul Pasqualoni
Inside Linebackers – Vincent Brown
Defensive Line – Kacy Rodgers
Secondary – Todd Bowles

New Arrivals:
Head Coach – Wade Phillips
Offense – Jason Garrett (role yet to be determined)

Source: dallascowboys.com