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2011 NFL Draft: If James Williamson was in Charge of the Cowboys…

To readers of Lone Star Struck: I’m sorry that I have not been here in a while. I’ve been swamped with school, and I knew that Kelly and the other writers have things covered mostly, so the breaking news pieces aren’t needed from me.

However, I needed to give my thoughts about the draft that is just tomorrow. Here is what I would do.

Everyone has a opinion. Everyone has an idea of what they would do if they were in charge. Many may have similar notions as others, but each one is somehow unique when it comes to detail.

Well, lets assume that I’m in charge of the Cowboys draft for one day. Lets pause momentarily while I laugh maniacally for several seconds.

Okay, now for some serious business.

I’ve been talking to a buddy of mine named J.D. He’s one of the most brilliant sports minds I’ve ever encountered, and we routinely text each other about sports, mainly our favorite football team, the Cowboys. But, we can talk about the draft or other players or even other teams.

So, today I was on the elliptical at the Fitness Zone when I get a text from good ole J.D. Well, I have ten minutes left to burn some calories on the machine, so I finished my workout, then walked over to the treadmill for a small walk and checked the message.

After the usual talking about Ryan Mallett, Blaine Gabbert and even a mention of previous drafts, the Cowboys pick came up, and J.D. and I both agreed that Dallas needs to trade the pick.

We also agreed on what players that he and I liked the most. We are both high on Louisiana State cornerback Patrick Peterson, Florida guard/center Mike Pouncey, and Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castanzo. Despite rumors that Dallas wants University of Southern California offensive tackle, Tyron Smith, J.D. and I are not high on him.

So, as we are texting, and I’m on the treadmill, a lightbulb the size of the sun turns on over my head, and I relay my idea to J.D.

Since the Cowboys have the ninth overall pick, they are in a prime position to draft a quarterback in a quarterback rich draft. And not just quarterback, but also a position for Nebraska defensive back Prince Amakamura and Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones.

Teams with mid-first round draft choices would love to move up and draft a player they believe will not fall to them, so that makes Dallas a prime candidate for a big trade. Dallas does not have a giant need that can be addressed at just the ninth pick, so not only COULD they move back a few spots and get more draft picks in exchange for a trade, but they actually SHOULD do that.

Before I go further, let me give you a key part of  the draft order real quick, so that you can follow along with my points.

9: Dallas Cowboys
10: Washington Redskins
11: Houston Texans
12: Minnesota Vikings
13: Detroit Lions
14: St. Louis Rams
15: Miami Dolphins
16: Jacksonville Jaguars
17: New England Patriots (Originally Oakland Raiders)
18: San Diego Chargers
19: New York Giants

I’m telling J.D. that a lot of quarterbacks like Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett or even Blaine Gabbert could/will be there at the ninth pick, and there is something that every football fan needs to know about the draft, so listen up.

Teams that need quarterbacks tend to reach for quarterbacks. By reach, I mean they either draft a quarterback with a too high draft selection or they trade up to grab a quarterback and pay a king’s ransom for the rookie signal caller.

Dallas has one of the premier draft picks, and they also are ahead of the Redskins who have the 10th overall pick. The Redskins are likely to draft a quarterback, so a trade with a quarterback-needy team for the ninth overall pick and maybe some more picks, like a second round pick for 2011 or a first rounder from 2012 is very reasonable.

There are three teams that I would definitely consider trading with. The Minnesota Vikings at 12, the Miami Dolphins at 15, and the Jacksonville Jaguars at 16. Any other team past the Chargers pick at 18 is a no because as you can see the New York Giants possess the 19th pick.

The New York Giants most glaring needs are offensive tackle and offensive guard. The whole point of Dallas trading the ninth pick is to get some more picks while still getting the player they desire, which if I’m running the draft, is either Anthony Castanzo or Mike Pouncey. Those two guys will not last past the Giants at 19, so any team past the Giants is out.

J.D. and I both think the Cowboys should pick up the phones and call the Jaguars, Dolphins, and Vikings and let them know that if they want a guarantee that they’ll get the quarterback they want, and not the guy that the Redskins passed up, they’ll have to pay the right price. I’d definitely secure their 2011 first round pick, 2011 second round pick, and maybe even a 2012 first round pick.

The Minnesota Vikings have a talented team, but have made some bad decisions. They did not draft a quarterback to learn from Brett Favre, so they were expecting to be the champions and worry about the quarterback issue when Favre finally retired.

Well, their lotto scratch-off ticket did not earn them the top prize or any prize. The Vikings now have needs at an aging offensive line, a weak secondary, and a quarterback. They are not as high on Joe Webb as they’d like to be, so now there is a thought of them trading for Donovan McNabb from the Redskins.

However, since they don’t know if they can get McNabb due to the lockout, the Vikings will probably reach for a quarterback, making them prime candidates to trade with Dallas.

I’d definitely squeeze the Vikings like I’d squeeze an orange for juice. They would be more than willing to pay a very high price to get a chance to draft a quarterback before the Redskins.

It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out, that’s for certain.

Next, the Miami Dolphins are being coy about wanting Ryan Mallett. Ryan Mallett has character issues building up, but the Dolphins took a chance on Dan Marino in 1983 when there was a huge rumor that he had tested positive for drugs. The test results had been kept hidden from the public, so Marino fell to the Dolphins 27th pick.

I think the Dolphins see themselves as being a legitimate quarterback away from being a real Super Bowl contender, and they are not wrong. The only needs they have are quarterback and running back. Mark Ingram is probably not worth the 15th overall pick, and they can attempt at free agency to secure Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown or replace them.

Also, before any Dolphin faithful announce to the world that Chad Henne is “the guy”, may I remind them that “the guy” is not doing his job right or else they wouldn’t have been 7-9.

Ryan Mallett, however, may not slip past the Washington Redskins or the Minnesota Vikings. I’ve been torn on this kid myself, and I used to think he’d be a bad choice, but recently, I’ve found myself wondering if Dallas should take him. I like how he was honest about making mistakes in the past and is willing to change. That’s a sign of maturity and change.

If he becomes even 1/4th of what Marino was, the Dolphins are in the playoffs.

Lastly, the Jaguars are a team that doesn’t need a quarterback “immediately,” but David Garrard is 34, and why not draft a good quarterback that can replace Garrard in a few years?

I think the Jaguars will be hesitant to make the deal because they’ll probably want a guy that will fall to them, but if Jerry can use his Texas charm on them and make them see that Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett is an amazing prospect, then they may take the bait.

From there, the Cowboys simply just make the teams sweat a little bit and keep the auction going. Whoever gives up the most gets the ninth overall draft choice, and the quarterback they want.

As I was working that through my mind on the treadmill, another thought, well actually it was a text from J.D., hit me. Not only do teams want quarterbacks, but the ninth pick also could secure other skill players, namely Prince Amakamura and Julio Jones should they fall.

After discussing with J.D., we came to the conclusion that there are four other teams that might want to trade up for the ninth overall pick should either Julio Jones or Prince Amakamura fall. Beside Minnesota, the Detroit Lions also have a need for a cornerback like Amakamura, and there is no way that Amakamura falls past the Houston Texans at 12. The Texans had the worst pass defense to possibly ever grace a football field. You can guarantee that Amakamura is not dropping past them.

The Detroit Lions are definitely a team that is on the verge of actually contending, and Amakamura could definitely help out there. So, if Detroit is willing to fork over enough, they can get the ninth pick and a possible shutdown corner. They definitely need one after ranking 16th in passing yards allowed.

Now, the likelihood of that happening is small because teams don’t generally reach for cornerbacks, but quarterbacks and wide receivers? Much more likely.

Which brings us to the idea that if Julio Jones falls to the Cowboys, the Redskins are also a prime target for him to go to with their best receiver, Santana Moss, hitting free agency whenever free agency occurs. Julio Jones is a very highly touted receiver, so teams that want that big wideout will definitely want to trade up to secure him.

The teams that need a receiver are: the St. Louis Rams at 14, the New England Patriots at 17, and the San Diego Chargers at 18.

The Rams have the biggest need for receiver out of them all. Their two top receivers had season-ending injuries last year, and Sam Bradford needs a real legitimate target to have besides Danny Amendola. The Rams may be willing to exchange a great deal for Julio Jones.

The Patriots are the ideal trading mate. They have so many draft picks that it is ridiculous. They have the 17th and 28th overall picks, and they have the 33rd overall pick, which is the top pick of the second round. If you want an ideal partner, it is them. I’d love to have those three picks. However, the Patriots have those picks because they are shrewd rather than stupid.

J.D. believes that Belichick would want a chance to draft a big play wideout in Julio Jones because they traded Randy Moss and nobody else stretches the field like him.

J.D., I have to disagree man. I just don’t believe that Belichick will want to trade all that or even part of that for Julio Jones. I wish he would, but I doubt the Patriots trade up when they’ve tried to trade down.

However, I’d still give Belichick a call and see if I don’t get a “No thank you” from him. Getting the 17th, 28th, and 33rd picks would be a huge acquisition. Heck, even getting the 17th and 33rd would be huge for Dallas.

Lastly, the San Diego Chargers are a team that had special teams mishaps cost them the playoffs. The 2010 Chargers are a perfect example forever of how special teams impacts the game. They were second in scoring offense and 10th in scoring defense. With numbers like that, they should’ve made the playoffs and maybe even the Super Bowl, but they lost at least three or four games due to horrible special teams.

Instead of being 12-4 or 13-3, they were a 9-7 failure.

Now, the Chargers do need a real receiver for Philip Rivers. Vincent Jackson is still franchised, but he may hold out again, and A.J. Smith is like a bulldog with a bone in his mouth. He is not going to sway from his stance. Jackson will either not play or he’ll play on Smith’s terms.

That’s part of the reason why I highly doubt Dallas will squeeze the Chargers of anything. Not only are they already an elite team without a top wideout and since A.J. Smith is one of the most stubborn people you would meet in any walk of life, I have doubts as to the abilities of not just Jerry Jones, but anyone, to get that guy to budge.

He’s the guy who drafted Eli Manning when Eli Manning did not want to play for San Diego, and he held Manning in his grasp until the New York Giants traded Philip Rivers, a 2005 first round pick that became Shawn Merriman, a 2004 third round pick that was used to get Pro Bowl kicker Nate Kaeding, and a 2004 fifth round pick that eventually was traded to Tampa Bay for Roman Oben who was a very good left tackle for the Chargers for about two years.

So, if Smith can gut the Giants when he was in a lose-type of a situation by drafting somebody who had publicly said that he did not want to play for the Chargers, then I don’t think even Jerry Jones could get that guy in a bad deal.

That’s what the Cowboys would do if I were in charge. Will they do it? It is possible, but is it probable? That remains to be seen.

Why should Dallas do this though? Can’t they just draft whomever they want at the ninth overall spot and not worry themselves with trades?

They could do that, but it would not be prudent. They need more picks people. It is the sixth rounders at the end of the day who put you over the top. They could get a few more picks for more players and more talent and still come out with the player that they want in the end.

Also, there is one more side. Rookie players are paid on a ratio to where they are drafted. If Dallas drafts a top 10 player, he’ll want top 10 player money, but if he’s draft 15th or 16th overall, he can only ask for top 20 player money.

Not only can Dallas get more talent, but they can save themselves money by trading down.

I won’t guarantee Dallas does trade, but I will say that I’ll be surprised if the commissioner announces Dallas’s pick at the number nine spot.

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This article was originally posted an NFLtouchdown.com here

Cowboys Apparently Not Interested In Safety O.J. Atogwe

When it comes to the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones is one of the best, if not the best, owners in the National Football League.

As a general manager, he’s one of the biggest riverboat gamblers on either side of the Mississippi River.

A lot of times he’s been right, and a lot of times he’s been wrong.

Having enough faith in our backup receivers to cut Terrell Owens and subsequently, Miles Austin emerged. Good.

Trading two first round draft picks for Joey Galloway. Bad

Well, Jerry Jones is on the craps table and is rolling the dice again. This time with the safety position of the Cowboys.

Gerald Sensabaugh, our strong safety, signed his one-year tender with the Cowboys, and Jerry Jones may extend him, but the free safety position is still a concern because Alan Ball, the replacement for Ken Hamlin, who we cut, is… the best word would be unproven.

I’ve seen Ball in preseason games, and he’s good, but when Jerry Jones passes up a shot to get Darren Sharper, a beast of a safety, in free agency, you wonder if Jerry is taking too large a risk with the team.

Well, now the Cowboys aren’t going to make an effort to sign free agent, O.J. Atogwe, a safety who last played for the St. Louis Rams.

Atogwe is a pretty good safety. I know he’s an upgrade from Ken Hamlin, but not on the Ed Reed/Darren Sharper level. I was hoping to possibly see him with the Cowboys and give me more assurance than Alan Ball has.

However, Jerry Jones disagrees. He replied to the question, “I’m ready to go to our season with the safeties we have. That might answer your question.” According to the Cowboys official website.

Jerry Jones feels comfortable with new draft picks like Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, a fourth rounder from IUP, or Jamar Wall, a cornerback who might convert to safety from Texas Tech.

Add in Michael Hamlin (no relation to Ken Hamlin), who missed most of last year due to a wrist injury, and the incumbent, Alan Ball, to the mix and Dallas has a strong depth at the position.

There is even some undrafted players that can work out as safeties.

Jerry Jones apparently has faith in these players, so Dallas fans are going to have to trust them. Who knows? Maybe a Miles Austin will emerge.

We can only hope, but for right now, it is for-sure that Jerry Jones isn’t rummaging for his checkbook to give Atogwe a contract.

This article was originally published here.

Top 10 Players In Fantasy Football

I dont know about everyone else but I do play fantasy football during the season, and with it as popular as it is I figured I’d break down nfl.com’s top 10 players and my top 10players.

          NFL Ranking 

  1. Adrian Peterson-RB- Minnesota Vikings
  2. Matt Forte-RB- Chicago Bears
  3. Michael Turner-RB- Atlanta Falcons
  4. Maurice Jones-Drew-RB- Jacksonville Jaguars
  5. DeAngelo Williams- RB- Carolina Panthers
  6. Chris Johnson- RB- Tennessee Titans
  7. Drew Brees- QB- New Orleans Saints
  8. Steven Jackson- RB- St.Louis Rams
  9. Brian Westbrook- RB- Philadelphia Eagles
  10. Frank Gore- RB- San Francisco 49ers

           My Ranking

  1. Larry Fitzgerald- WR- Arizona Cardinals
  2. Adrian Peterson- RB- Minnesota Vikings
  3. Chris Johnson- RB- Tennessee Titans
  4. Drew Brees- QB- New Orleans Saints
  5. Marion Barber- RB- Dallas Cowboys
  6. Calvin Johnson- WR- Detroit Lions
  7. DeAngelo Williams- RB- Carolina Panthers
  8. Peyton Manning- QB- Indianapolis Colts
  9. Steve Slaton- RB- Houston Texans
  10. Andre Johnson- WR- Houston Texans

It Is Not Time to Panic Cowboy Fans

Good Afternoon Cowboys Fans:

I am over the initial shock now of last weeks “drubbing” at the hands of the St. Louis Rams, a team in all actuality should not have been on the same field with the Cowboys.

I sometimes think expectations are a little high in Dallas from the fan base and especially from Jerry Jones. At the start of the season all the NFL analysts, “armchair quarterbacks” and sports reporters across the country had already penciled in the Cowboys to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. They got off to a fast, 3-0 start and everyone was on the bandwagon. Then the Redskins came to town in week four and kind of humbled us. Two weeks later, the Cowboys went to the desert to play the Arizona Cardinals and quite frankly I think were beaten in all three aspects of the game (offense, defense, and special teams)… and the Cardinals’ played with much more intensity.

After the shameful exhibition the Cowboys put on last week in St. Louis, there has many a doubt surfaced as to whether the Cowboys can even make the playoffs, much less fulfill the pre-season Super Bowl expectations. All the people want to talk about is the plethora of injuries, a cancer at corner and a ticking time bomb at wide receiver, and most skeptics do not believe the Cowboys can overcome all this adversity and once again climb that mountain to become a Super Bowl contender. I am not one of those skeptics… and here are a few reasons why:

Brad Johnson even though he did not show it in St. Louis last week is not a typical back-up quarterback. You will not see him panic under pressure and run out of the back of the end zone for a safety. He will be the first to admit his arm strength and some of his talent has eroded over the course of his 17 year tenure, but I think he can still manage a game as good as anyone. I think if Cowboy’s Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett will not take as many “shots” down the field, but instead put Johnson in position to make plays and minimize the risk. We have to live with the fact Romo is hurt right now and get past the next 2-3 weeks. Johnson has a Super Bowl ring and still knows what it takes to win.

MB3 what can you say? He truly is a work of art and shows the heart of lion every time he straps on the star. Barber does not have the size of a Larry Johnson, (Kansas City) or a Frank Gore, (San Francisco). He is certainly not the fastest back in the NFL, but no one plays with as much heart as MB3. At this point in the season, Barber is my odds on favorite for MVP of the Cowboy’s offense.

As an opposing Defensive Coordinator, I would lose some sleep at night trying to come up with a game plan to stop the Cowboy’s offense. With T.O., Patrick Crayton, and now newly acquired Roy Williams, the Cowboy’s should have the best 3 receiver combination in the league. Now throw in Jason Witten and when the opposing Defensive Coordinator does get to sleep, it turns to nightmares. Over the next 2-3 weeks until Romo gets back and playing Brad Johnson, who has weaker arm strength, the long ball is not as big a factor. I am still convinced if Jason Garrett and Brad Johnson control the game clock with long time consuming drives and big doses of Barber, while complimenting him with 15-20 yd outs to the receivers and some across the middle plays to Witten, the Cowboys can play with almost any defense in this league. When Romo returns then “hell’s fury” will be unleashed in Dallas again!!

It was tough losing Felix Jones for a few weeks to the hamstring, but Cowboy fans don’t count out Tashard Choice. I had the brief opportunity to watch Choice when he was at the University of Oklahoma. Unfortunately, he transferred shortly after when it was apparent the writing was on the wall. A RB named Adrian “AD” Peterson came to town and Choice’s chances of playing the next 2-3 years at OU were going to be almost non-existent. He transferred to Georgia Tech and became a 3 year star. I think Choice was a steal in the 4th round and will produce big numbers for yrs to come in Dallas. Choice does not have the blazing speed or pass catching ability of Jones, but he has better vision and lower body strength. Combine that with the power of MB3 and they should beat, bruise and batter any defense.

Jason Witten has always been Tony’s security blanket and for next few weeks he should be the same for Brad Johnson. I think he is the best TE in the game today. I think linebackers and safeties don’t have the agility to stay with Witten and I am convinced most corners do not have the size or certainly the strength to matchup with him either. If they slow down the game with Johnson, I think Witten will be a major player in the next few weeks until Romo returns.

After Romo took a beating at the tune of 20 times in Arizona and broke his finger, everyone started pointing their fingers at the Cowboy’s offense line. However, no one pointed at the receivers for getting locked up in coverage or Romo for double-pumping to many times in the pocket. I did not see Tony one time in that game just take off and go get a 1st down.

The Cowboys have some Pro-Bowlers (Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis and Flozell Adams) on their offensive line, and the entire unit going into the St. Louis game had only given up 7 sacks. Keep in mind too, that the Cowboys have lost starting LG Kyle Kosier for most of the season. Even though Proctor has done well, he is still not a healthy Kosier.

Defensively DeMarcus Ware is a beast and despite drawing double teams all the time still leads the team in sacks with six (6), and is second on the team in tackles (32). What is so impressive about Ware is that he can play from the left side or the right side. In addition, he has the ability to rush the passer, defend the run and run with backs and tight ends in pass coverage. 

In addition, I have always believed the best way to protect a weak secondary is to blitz, rush the corners, blitz and rush the corners some more. Just the other day, I was talking to my good buddy, BIG, which incidentally besides me, just might be the biggest Cowboy fan I know! He said we have to keep pressure on the opposing quarterback and force turnovers. With the depleted secondary, the DEs’and LBs’ have to step up and make the big plays. I believe that other than long 3rd downs, we are foolish to sit back and play zone coverage. The Cowboys only have 15 sacks for the season and with that kind of talent up front they should be way ahead of that total.

D.Ware has a third of them himself and he is always double-teamed. Chris Canty and Marcus Spears have to collapse the pockets which should allow Greg Ellis and Kevin Burnett to blitz more. Heck I am not even opposed to seeing Zach Thomas or Bradie James blitz some from the inside linebacker position. I would think that would be some kind of a secret weapon, because I doubt many Defensive Coordinators expect to see a blitzing Zach Thomas.

The indefinite suspension of Adam “Pacman” Jones was kind of sad, but a hell of a lot more embarrassing in my opinion. Not to mention a major distraction to the team this early in the season. I don’t think that it is nearly as significant as the lingering injuries to Terrence Newman though, who is expected to be out at least another month. I do think when he returns (if it is not too late), the Cowboys will be ready to make the run.

A lot of people don’t like Anthony Henry, but he is a big and certainly physical corner, and I think Mike Jenkins has shown some promise already. I watched Jenkins many times in college and he is a “big time” playmaker. He just needs time to graduate from the college to the NFL level and that kind of leap takes time.

Where I think we are hurting in the secondary is in the nickel and dime corner package. I think if they would utilize Orlando Scandrick more and continue to get more help from the blitz packages; it will in turn make that part of our defense even better. Losing SS Roy Williams was a blow because he is also such a “run stuffer”, but injuries are part of this game and Pat Watkins, Pro Bowl FS Ken Hamlin will have to step up and make big plays. Something I would like to see more of is too is punishing the opposing receivers more after the catch. I think this secondary has lost a lot of respect, especially because the secondary is giving up way to many balls over the middle. In the past, when an opposing receiver came over the Cowboy’s middle, they became a sacrificial lamb! 

The bottom line is this Cowboy fans:

“Don’t Panic”!

We will still make the Playoffs!!

I am more concerned in getting that “monkey off our back” and winning that playoff game once we get there. Have a great Sunday everyone and GO COWBOYS!!

The Dallas Cowboys…. “Are They Fragile or Are They on the Brink of Destruction”?

Good afternoon Cowboy fans:

As I sit here at the computer trying to figure out what words I should use or what to title this article. My mind started using “Are they fragile”, “or is this team on the Brink of Destruction”? As these words kept floating in and out of my mind, my heart was telling me something different. It was telling me this is only a dream and I will wake up and everything will be alright in Cowboy land.

I was completely swept up in total amazement on Sunday, as I sat and watched what I thought was a proud Dallas Cowboy team, just being totally humiliated and “whipped”. The only thought that kept running through my mind was that of a young, frail school boy versus the big bully on the playground. I witnessed the St. Louis Rams, a team that was everybody’s “whipping post”; just dismantle the Cowboys piece by piece. The same Cowboys team, which at the beginning of the season was to be the “bully”, the “monster of the midway”, and to some they were being called “the real beast in the NFC East”.

In all the years of watching the Cowboys, I had to do some real thinking to remember when I ever saw a poorer performance. That even includes the 1989 team that finished 1-15 and ironically played who at that time a team called the Los Angeles Rams, and lost 35-31.

When it was announced this week, that Brad Johnson would be starting in the place of Tony Romo, I was one of the first that came out and said everything will be okay with Johnson, and Tony will be ready in 3 weeks when they play the Giants. Then when Johnson engineered the opening Cowboy drive for a quick 7-0 lead, I was telling myself “this will be a walk in the park”. What I didn’t know, that as the game began to unfold, I would soon realize, there would be very little more to cheer about.

This team has gone through more of a transformation than the Incredible Hulk and anyone you ask all have a different opinion, or want to give you their take on the demise of the mighty Cowboys. I do know this much though, there’s no confusion on what happened on Sunday. The Cowboy’s were out-coached, out-thrown, out-run, out-fought, out-thought, out-physicaled, and most of all out-scored 34-14. This is evidence that you can’t cover up.

I think about all the problems over and over in my mind and ask myself, “If I had to re-build this team piece by piece, layer by layer, where would I begin? Many people have different opinions and some believe that the re-building process should begin with the coaching staff. Should Wade Phillips be replaced by Jason Garrett? Is Jason Garrett also part of the problem or is the coaching solution?

Other fans are screaming for former Pittsburgh Steeler coach, Bill Cowher. Could Cowher’s coaching style in Dallas be right for these players or this organization? Bill Cowher has a reputation of being somewhat of “a steel head” that uses a hard-nosed approach, but has the player likeable type of personality.

I think from this fan’s prospective, maybe that’s what this team needs right now is a hard-nose approach? Maybe they have been “coddled”, hugged, and loved too much? There is no fire in this team, really no heat to speak of either. They seem to have had all the fire knocked out of them and have lost their desire to play the game.

Right now, the Cowboys are generating all the heat of a rain-soaked book of matches.

I did not see anything in the game on Sunday that I could write home and say was positive. We know the Cowboys played without our star quarterback and without our troubled and possibly ex-cornerback Adam Jones. We even managed to lose Roy Williams, the safety for the season again when he re-broke the forearm that he just spent 3 weeks trying to get healed.

Forty-year-old backup quarterback Brad Johnson tossed three interceptions and finished with a 45.5 QB rating. Terrell Owens had two catches for 31 yards. Roy E. Williams, the receiver, acquired in the much publicized trade with the Detroit Lions, did not even catch a cold, let alone any passes.

I can go on and on, about the problems in Sunday’s game and still not get to the part about the 8 penalties, two of which cost us touchdowns, which instead led to missed field goals. I really shiver when I think about the lost fumble, or maybe the fact the offensive and defensive lines totally broke down. I could not remember the last time our defensive line played so porous.

Ram’s running back Stephen Jackson finished with 171 yds rushing and 3 touchdowns. Jackson Texas Two-Stepped all over our defense, that at the beginning of the year, most believed books would be written about. Now it seems they just quit and want to be anywhere but playing a football game.

So is it the injuries? Is it the coaches or maybe this team is just getting very fragile? Do the players need to get back to the basics and quit worrying so much about their own individual persona? Is this the team we watched on “Hardknocks”, and everybody thought was the hottest team in the NFL?

Well Cowboy fans, I have a news flash for all of us. This Cowboy’s team is going to be hard-pressed to even make the playoffs, with virtually the same group that went 13-3 a year ago.

What truly puzzles me is that this team was built for a Super Bowl, but may very well be “on the Brink of Destruction”.

LoneStarStruck.com Mock Draft 2.0

 

 

1. Miami Dolphins – DE Chris Long – Virginia – SR 6’3   266lbs. (With Glenn Dorsey’s health issues coming into play lately, this seems the logical choice for a Bill Parcell’s type pick and guy.)

2. St Louis Rams – OT Jake Long – Michigan – SR 6’7   335 lbs. (With all the problems on the offensive line for the Rams, they would be dummy’s for letting Long get passed them, for he can be the anchor of that O-line for the next 10 years.)

3. Atlanta Falcons – QB Matt Ryan – Boston College – SR 6’4   228 lbs. (With Falcon fans still reeling from the Michael Vick saga, QB is the biggest need for this organization. Playing QB Roulette last year with has-beens as well didn’t help the cause.)

4. Oakland Raiders – RB Darren McFadden – Arkansas – JR 6’1   211 lbs. (The Raiders need a Star at Running Back. With McFadden’s speed and size, Al Davis would be a total moron not to draft the Best running back of the 2008 draft.)  

5. Kansas City Chiefs – DT Glenn Dorsey – LSU – SR 6’1     310 lbs. (The Chiefs have pressing needs in many areas but D-Line is one of the biggest.)

6. New York Jets – DT Sedrick Ellis – USC – SR 6’0      309 lbs. (The Jets had absolutely no pass rush in 2007. Selecting Ellis not only makes sense but the guy can dominate the inside forcing teams who use a ground game to go vertical more often than they want.)

7. New England Patriots – DE Vernon Gholston – Ohio State – SR 6’4     255lbs. (With New England getting a taste of the blitz happy New York Giants in Super Bowl 42, the aging Patriots LB Core could use a shot of the fountain of youth and return the favor to opposing offenses in 2008.)

8. Baltimore Ravens – QB Brian Brohm – Louisville – SR 6’3       230lbs. (With the Ravens pressing need at QB and the ever vigilant legs of Steve McNair no longer running, Brohm seems the logical pick for the Ravens.)

9. Cincinnati Bengals – OLB Keith Rivers – USC – SR 6’3       232 lbs. (With the Bengals defense getting torched last year due to a non-existent pass rush, Rivers play-making ability is a welcomed sigh of relief.)

10. New Orleans Saints – CB Aqib Talib – Kansas – JR 6’2      205 lbs. (The Saints should be not only ecstatic but should be counting their blessings that Talib fell this far. Talib immediately starts and helps a defense that gave up the big play way too often in 2007.)  

11. Buffalo Bills – WR Malcolm Kelly – Oklahoma – JR 6’4       224 lbs. (With the Bills not having a big play threat opposite Lee Evans this pick immediately supplies Trent Edwards with a possession receiver who can move the sticks.)

12. Denver Broncos – OT Ryan Clady – Boise State – JR 6’6       320 lbs. (With Jay Cutler’s blindside not really protected, Clady provides protection against elite NFL pass rushers immediately.)

13. Carolina Panthers – RB Rashard Mendenhall – Illinois – JR 5’11      225lbs. (With DeShaun Foster no longer a Panther, Mendenhall gives the Panthers that Brian Westbrook Philadelphia element to the offense.)

14. Chicago Bears – QB Joe Flacco – Delaware (1AA)- SR 6’6       231 lbs. (With all the problems the Bears have had in past few years at QB, Flacco immediately comes in and give Grossman a run for his money. Flacco displayed the best and strongest arm at the NFL Combine.)

15. Detroit Lions – CB Leodis McKelvin – Troy – SR 5’11      186lbs. (With the Lions pretty solid on offense, the Detroit secondary needs help badly. McKelvin brings that help immediately.)

16. Arizona Cardinals – CB Mike Jenkins – South Florida – SR 5’11      200 lbs. (Rated as the best cover corner in many draft boards, Jenkins will make an impact early and often in the Cardinal’s secondary.)

17. Minnesota Vikings – DE/OLB Derrick Harvey – Florida- JR 6’4       269lbs. ( The Vikings need pass rushers, enough said.)

18. Houston Texas – RB Jonathon Stewart – Oregon – JR 5’11           233 lbs. (With the Texans solid at QB and WR, Stewart would bring defenses to respect the running for once in the Texans history.)

19. Philadelphia Eagles – WR DeSaun Jackson – California – JR 5’9      169 lbs. (With the Eagles offense lacking any big play receivers ever since T.O. left, Jackson’s speed will stretch defenses.)

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – WR Mario Manningham – Michigan – JR 6’0      188 lbs. (With the Bucs offense lacking a complimentary receiver to Joey Galloway in 2007, teams doubled him in the latter part of the season. Manningham will provide Galloway much needed relief and could eventually replace him.)

21. Washington Redskins – FS Kenny Phillips – Miami – JR 6’2        210 lbs. ( With the tragic loss of Sean Taylor, the redskins will once again have one of the best one two punch at safety in the NFL with Phillips and Landry.)

22. Dallas Cowboys – WR Limas Sweed – Texas – SR 6’4     214 lbs. (With T.O. & T.G. both in their mid-30’s, Sweed’s youth and potential automatically threatens Crayton’s 3rd spot.)

23. Pittsburgh Steelers – OT Chris Williams – Vanderbilt – SR 6’6      321 lbs. (Considered by many to be the most athletically gifted tackle in the draft, Williams’s stock rose after Pitt’s Jeff Otah had a bad NFL Combine.)

24. Tennessee Titans – WR James Hardy – Indiana – JR 6’6         220 lbs. (Having the best size of any receiver in the draft, Hardy will provide the possession receiver that Vince Young has sorely missed since his Texas days.)

25. Seattle Seahawks – TE Dustin Keller – Purdue – SR 6’3       244 lbs. (Seattle has never had a great pass catching TE and Keller has been the most consistent pass catching TE in college football in the past 2 years. Need anything more?)

26. Jacksonville Jaguars – RB Felix Jones – Arkansas – JR 5’10     210 lbs. (Even though RB Fred Taylor was voted to his first Pro bowl, he isn’t getting any younger. The Jaguars going to the 2 back system will add some burst to Taylor’s legs in the latter part of the season.)

27. San Diego Chargers – OT Gosder Cherilus – Boston College – SR 6’7    315 lbs. (Upgrading an aging O-Line would be the Chargers best bet.)

28. Dallas Cowboys – CB Dominique Rod
gers – Cromartie – T
ennessee State – SR 6’2     185 lbs. (With the Boys having no solid back-up’s to Newman and Henry, Cromartie becomes the grasshopper to Newman.) 

29. San Francisco 49ers (*via trade with Colts) – WR Devin Thomas – Michigan State – JR 6’2    220 lbs. (With the 49ers lacking any star receivers, Thomas is the best receiver left on the board. He is tall and can run the deep pattern.)

30. Green Bay Packers – TE Fred Davis – USC – SR 6’5        252 lbs. (With Bubba Franks no longer a Packer, TE is a priority if Green Bay doesn’t want to become one dimensional.)

31. New England Cheatriots – (Picked forfeited due to Spy Gate Scandal by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.)

32. New York Giants – LB Dan Conner – Penn State – SR 6’3      233 lbs. (Very versatile linebacker who broke school records at Penn. Could be moved inside and outside. The Giants would love this guy.)

 

Cowboys Record Against Other NFL Teams

Just in case you have ever wondered how the Cowboys have matched up against other NFL teams through the years, I have put together something you might be interested in.

Below you can see the Cowboys win/loss record against each team in the NFL since 1960. I snagged the info from the 2006 media guide and updated the records by adding the wins/losses from the 2007 season. The totals below are from the regular season and the playoffs. It does not include pre-season play.


Arizona Cardinals55-28-1
Atlanta Falcons    
15-8
Baltimore Ravens   
0-2
Buffalo Bills      
7-3
Carolina Panthers
7-3
Chicago Bears
13-8
Cincinnati Bengals
5-4
Cleveland Browns
11-17
Denver Broncos
5-5
Detroit Lions
12-10
Green Bay Packers
15-12
Houston Texans
1-1
Indianapolis Colts
8-6
Jacksonville Jaguars
2-2
Kansas City Chiefs
5-3
Miami Dolphins
5-7
Minnesota Vikings
14-12
New England Patriots
7-3
New Orleans Saints
14-8
New York Giants
54-36-2
New York Jets
7-2
Oakland Raiders
3-6
Philadelphia Eagles
54-43
Pittsburgh Steelers
15-14
St. Louis Rams
14-14
San Diego Chargers
6-2
San Francisco 49ers
14-16-1
Seattle Seahawks
6-5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9-3
Tennessee Titans
7-5
Washington Redskins
56-38-2

Keep in mind that these records reflect games with Dallas when some of these teams were under other names and/or played in other cities than they do now. 

For example, the record against the Tennessee Titans also reflects games played against the Cowboys when the Titans were known as the Houston Oilers.

It is interesting to note that out of the 31 other teams in the NFL, the Cowboys have a winning record against 22 of those teams, they have a losing record against 5 teams (Ravens, Browns, Dolphins, Raiders and 49ers), and their record is at .500 with 4 teams (Broncos, Texans, Jaguars, and Rams). 

LoneStarStruck.com Mock NFL Draft 1.0

1. Miami Dolphins – DE Chris Long – Virginia – SR 6’3   266lbs. (With Glenn Dorsey’s health issues coming into play lately, this seems the logical choice for a Bill Parcell’s type pick and guy.)

2. St Louis Rams – OT Jake Long – Michigan – SR 6’7   335 lbs. (With all the problems on the offensive line for the Rams, they would be dummy’s for letting Long get passed them, for he can be the anchor of that O-line for the next 10 years.)

3. Atlanta Falcons – QB Matt Ryan – Boston College – SR 6’4   228 lbs. (With Falcon fans still reeling from the Michael Vick saga, QB is the biggest need for this organization. Playing QB Roulette last year with has-beens as well didn’t help the cause.)

4. Dallas Cowboys (*Via trade with the Oakland Raiders) – RB Darren McFadden – Arkansas – JR 6’1   211 lbs. (Jerry Jones stated in the off-season that he wanted to add that wow factor to his offense and with his close ties and alliance with Al Davis, this was a no-brainer. McFadden & Barber will be ravaging defenses for the next 5 years.)

*Oakland receives Dallas # 22 this year, Dallas # 28 this year, Dallas 2nd Round Pick in 2009 and Dallas DT Marcus Spears.

5. Kansas City Chiefs – DT Glenn Dorsey – LSU – SR 6’1     310 lbs. (The Chiefs have pressing needs in many areas but D-Line is one of the biggest.)

6. New York Jets – DT Sedrick Ellis – USC – SR 6’0      309 lbs. (The Jets had absolutely no pass rush in 2007. Selecting Ellis not only makes sense but the guy can dominate the inside forcing teams who use a ground game to go vertical more often than they want.)

7. New England Patriots – DE Vernon Gholston – Ohio State – SR 6’4     255lbs. (With New England getting a taste of the blitz happy New York Giants in Super Bowl 42, the aging Patriots LB Core could use a shot of the fountain of youth and return the favor to opposing offenses in 2008.)

8. Baltimore Ravens – QB Brian Brohm – Louisville – SR 6’3       230lbs. (With the Ravens pressing need at QB and the ever vigilant legs of Steve McNair no longer running, Brohm seems the logical pick for the Ravens.)

9. Cincinnati Bengals – OLB Keith Rivers – USC – SR 6’3       232 lbs. (With the Bengals defense getting torched last year due to a non-existent pass rush, Rivers play-making ability is a welcomed sigh of relief.)

10. New Orleans Saints – CB Aqib Talib – Kansas – JR 6’2      205 lbs. (The Saints should be not only ecstatic but should be counting their blessings that Talib fell this far. Talib immediately starts and helps a defense that gave up the big play way too often in 2007.)  

11. Buffalo Bills – WR Malcolm Kelly – Oklahoma – JR 6’4       224 lbs. (With the Bills not having a big play threat opposite Lee Evans this pick immediately supplies Trent Edwards with a possession receiver who can move the sticks.)

12. Denver Broncos – OT Ryan Clady – Boise State – JR 6’6       320 lbs. (With Jay Cutler’s blindside not really protected, Clady provides protection against elite NFL pass rushers immediately.)

13. Carolina Panthers – RB Rashard Mendenhall – Illinois – JR 5’11      225lbs. (With DeShaun Foster no longer a Panther, Mendenhall gives the Panthers that Brian Westbrook Philadelphia element to the offense.)

14. Chicago Bears – QB Joe Flacco – Delaware (1AA)- SR 6’6       231 lbs. (With all the problems the Bears have had in past few years at QB, Flacco immediately comes in and give Grossman a run for his money. Flacco displayed the best and strongest arm at the NFL Combine.)

15. Detroit Lions – CB Leodis McKelvin – Troy – SR 5’11      186lbs. (With the Lions pretty solid on offense, the Detroit secondary needs help badly. McKelvin brings that help immediately.)

16. Arizona Cardinals – CB Mike Jenkins – South Florida – SR 5’11      200 lbs. (Rated as the best cover corner in many draft boards, Jenkins will make an impact early and often in the Cardinal’s secondary.)

17. Minnesota Vikings – DE/OLB Derrick Harvey – Florida- JR 6’4       269lbs. ( The Vikings need pass rushers, enough said.)

18. Houston Texas – RB Jonathon Stewart – Oregon – JR 5’11           233 lbs. (With the Texans solid at QB and WR, Stewart would bring defenses to respect the running game for once in the Texans history.)

19. Philadelphia Eagles – WR DeSaun Jackson – California – JR 5’9      169 lbs. (With the Eagles offense lacking any big play receivers ever since T.O. left, Jackson’s speed will stretch defenses.)

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – WR Mario Manningham – Michigan – JR 6’0      188 lbs. (With the Bucs offense lacking a complimentary receiver to Joey Galloway in 2007, teams doubled him in the latter part of the season. Manningham will provide Galloway much needed relief and could eventually replace him.)

21. Washington Redskins – FS Kenny Phillips – Miami – JR 6’2        210 lbs. ( With the tragic loss of Sean Taylor, the redskins will once again have one of the best one two punch at safety in the NFL with Phillips and Landry.)

22. Oakland Raiders (*From Dallas via trade)- WR Limas Sweed – Texas – SR 6’4     214 lbs. (With the Raiders owning two first round picks thanks to Dallas, Sweed will provide a great and huge weapon for last year’s # 1 pick QB Jamarcus Russell.)

23. Pittsburgh Steelers – OT Chris Williams – Vanderbilt – SR 6’6      321 lbs. (Considered by many to be the most athletically gifted tackle in the draft, Williams’s stock rose after Pitt’s Jeff Otah had a bad NFL Combine.)

24. Tennessee Titans – WR James Hardy – Indiana – JR 6’6         220 lbs. (Having the best size of any receiver in the draft, Hardy will provide the possession receiver that Vince Young has sorely missed since his Texas days.)

25. Seattle Seahawks – TE Dustin Keller – Purdue – SR 6’3       244 lbs. (Seattle has never had a great pass catching TE and Keller has been the most consistent pass catching TE in college football in the past 2 years. Need anything more?)

26. Jacksonville Jaguars – RB Felix Jones – Arkansas – JR 5’10     210 lbs. (Even though RB Fred Taylor was voted to his first Pro bowl, he isn’t getting any younger. The Jaguars going to the 2 back system will add some burst to Taylor’s legs in the latter part of the season.)

27. San Diego Chargers – OT Gosder Cherilus – Boston College – SR 6’7    315 lbs. (Upgrading an aging O
-Line would be the Charger
s best bet.)

28. Oakland Raiders (*via trade with Dallas) – DE Lawrence Jackson – USC – SR 6’4     274 lbs. (With the Raiders adding to the O with the 22nd pick, they quickly select Jackson to improve the D.)  

29. San Francisco 49ers (*via trade with Colts) – WR Devin Thomas – Michigan State – JR 6’2    220 lbs. (With the 49ers lacking any star receivers, Thomas is the best receiver left on the board. He is tall and can run the deep pattern.)

30. Green Bay Packers – TE Fred Davis – USC – SR 6’5        252 lbs. (With Bubba Franks no longer a Packer, TE is a priority if Green Bay doesn’t want to become one dimensional.)

31. New England Cheatriots – (Picked forfeited due to Spy Gate Scandal by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.)

32. New York Giants – LB Dan Conner – Penn State – SR 6’3      233 lbs. (Very versatile linebacker who broke school records at Penn. Could be moved inside and outside. The Giants would love this guy.)

  

 

  

Looking Ahead: Cowboys Opponents for 2008

Several weeks ago, the NFL released the opponents the Cowboys will be playing in 2008. Although we have been told which teams we will play at home and which are road games, the NFL has not yet released the date that each game will take place. I am sure that when the dates of the games are released, Kelly, here at StarStruck, will be busy designing schedules for us all to post on our sites.

Naturally, we will face each opponent in the NFC East twice during the regular season. This means that we will have to face the Giants, Redskins, and Eagles once on the road and once at home for a total of 6 games of the 16 game season.  Although we won our division handily this year, we cannot take any of these games for granted. I have said it before and I will continue to say it: Year in and year out, the NFC East is one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NFL. Although I believe we are better overall than each of these teams, any one of them is capable of beating the Cowboys on any given day. I think we are the stronger team out of these opponents and will win the division again next year, but I will not be surprised at one or even two losses within the division. I can already feel some of you steaming at that last remark. Please understand, I am not being pessimistic, just realistic. 

One side note: Considering that the Giants knocked us out of the playoffs this year, I would be very willing to bet that one Monday night game will involve us playing the Giants either at home or on the road. There’s too much drama there. The NFL almost has to put one of those games in prime time.

The remaining ten games in the regular season are made up of non-division opponents. 

They are:

Road Games
Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Home Games
San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Of these teams, only four had losing records last year: the 49ers, Ravens, Bengals, and Rams.  The rest were .500 or better.  Six of our opponents made the playoffs. These were: the Giants, Redskins, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Packers, and Steelers. Since we play the Redskins and the Giants twice, that means that 8 of our 16 opponents for 2008 were playoff teams in 2007. 

I have read some comments from other fans that we have an easy schedule and we should go undefeated in 2008. Again, I don’t want to sound pessimistic, but this is the NFL and since we were the number one seed in the NFC this last year, the powers that be in the league have no intention of making it easy on us. Although most of these teams didn’t come close to matching our 13-3 record last year, this will still be a tough schedule. Remember, we almost lost to Buffalo early this last season (and to be honest, we probably should have the way we played) but we pulled it out in the end. Just like I said about the NFC East, any team in the NFL has talent and can put together at least one great day of football (I think the Patriots would agree with that anyway).

As for an undefeated season, I would enjoy that just a much as any Cowboy fan. However, history makes me face the realistic probability that this won’t happen. Seldom does a team have that opportunity.  It takes talent on your team, but due to the level of opposition in the NFL, a little luck is also usually needed. Personally, I would rather see us take a loss or two in the regular season and then go into the playoffs fighting mad. Lose early, get it out of our system and enter the playoffs knowing that we are a good team but not overconfident about it (Once again, I think the Patriots might agree with me here).

So, here’s what I think and some of you may write nasty things to me about it – but it’s ok, I can take it.  We will win the NFC East. We will be the frontrunner for the Superbowl title and I think we WILL take it. Undefeated? No. I honestly believe our record will be no better than 14-2 and could even be 12-4.  Again, I am not being negative, just realistic based on that schedule. We will lose at least one or two games in the NFC East and maybe one or two among our remaining opponents.  I hope I am wrong.  19-0 would be wonderful. If I’m wrong I will gladly let my wife spank me and call me names (Hmmmm…..Now that I think about it……never mind. Now where was I???  Oh yeah….).  The bottom line is that a tough schedule with some losses will prepare us to rise to the occasion when the playoffs arrive.  Just like diamonds are made under extreme pressure, it may very well be the pressure of losses that cause our Stars to shine. Shine on Cowboys. Run for the Ring baby!!!

2008 Opponents Announced

Here is a complete list of the Cowboys’ 2008 opponents:

Home: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals

Away: New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers

Information from dallascowboys.com