Are You Ready for the “Kam-Akwasi” Cowboy?

We find ourselves meandering through the practice notes and news each day as we lead up to the Hall of Fame game today between the Dallas Cowboys and the Cincinnati Bengals. Lots of questions from the past season are on every fans mind as we get to have a look see at some of the young players the Cowboys are prepping to make the final roster to head into our 50th season and hopefully our 6th Lombardi Trophy and NFL Championship. Since I already focused on the main position that most people are focusing on this year, left tackle, I thought I would delve into the other main question that has been dogging us since Woody left with us a big hole in the secondary when he walked off into his final sunset as a player.

Free Safety is the one main position that we over look every year. Mainly because we have a couple of guys who tend to just kind of get by and barely get the job done. We were spoiled for a long time because we had Darren Woodson back there to hold down the fort and once he left we got to see just how special he really was. This year though going into the off season Jerry decided he has had enough and gave Ken Hamlin his walking papers and went out and drafted someone that everyone thought we were looking at as a cornerback but some scouts believe that he could turn into a very good free safety. I bring you Akwasi Owusu-Ansah from a small little division II school out of western Pennsylvania.  He has a lot of the same attributes that Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie had when he came out of a Division II school, DRC has a bit more speed then him but Akwasi may be a more versatile player and be able to impact the game in a couple other ways then playing in the secondary.

Akwasi was a running back n high school and was switched to cornerback when he got to college. You can see this high school background when he is returning the ball, whether it is on an interception return, a kickoff or punt return. He has those knees just pumping away and doesn’t stop those legs churning until he is brought down.  Usually not on the first attempt at tackling him either. I have watched a couple of the highlight reels of him returning kicks and seen a couple where it took five to six attempts to finally knock him on his keester..    and some he didn’t find his knee on the ground until he was striking paydirt. With his 6 foot, 200 lb frame he is that tweener between a corner and safety when it comes to size but his 4.4 range 40 yd dash time will make you forget about that quickly especially because that speed translates on the field as well.

Now I know everyone will be questioning his ability to transition from division II to the NFL in the secondary but, that is not a worry because of his talents in the return game. Returning a football on kicks in college no matter the level the same talents are needed in the NFL. Awareness and the ability to turn on a dime and also make people miss. That is something he excelled at in college. He will have time to work on his secondary skills while returning punts and he has already gotten some praise form Brett Maxie because of his ability to learn the defensive sets while recovering from shoulder surgery in the off season. He will obviously have to learn run support to play safety as he was a cornerback in college but he has long arms and great closing speed to stop plays dead, whether its wrapping the ball carrier to tackle him or using those arms to deflect balls. His closing speed though allows him to jump routes on receivers.

All in all I think that his ability to help create turnovers, which the Cowboys need a huge shot in the arm in and also his return ability coudl help us have one of the best return games in the NFL. How would you luck to be the coach or kicker trying to decide which person to kickoff to…  Akwasi or Felix. Talk about trying to pick the lesser of two evils!

What’s wrong with Roy “The Hitman” Williams? I know! I know!

I vividly remember the day, Saturday April 20, 2002. The day Roy Williams became a Dallas Cowboy. Now, myself not really being a big college fan at the time, I had heard through NFL Draft Analysts how Dallas was targeting either Roy Williams that day or Ed Reed. Most analysts stated that Roy Williams was the bigger and better suited safety, noting nothing about his coverage skills at that point. I even remember one analyst stating that Roy Williams was a shoe in Hall of Famer whether Dallas got him or not. He has Ronnie Lott’s box presence and ferrosciousness and could cover out of the slot, so said one NFL scout. So then came Dallas pick #6 in which Dallas traded down 2 places with Kansas City and then selected DB Oklahoma Roy Williams with the 8th overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. I was elated and ecstatic! We already had Woody back there and adding Roy Williams? Damn, I immediately had visions of having the best 2 safety tandem in the NFL by far.

Fast forward to 2005. Roy Williams has been everything I expected. A big stout safety who is considered a spark plug on a good defense. Roy excelled his first 4 years in the league. Even starting for the # 1 defense in the league in 2003 and making his first pro bowl. He had at least one bone crunching hit in every game and led the league in interceptions as a rookie in 2002. You can safely say and argue the fact that from 2002-2005, Roy was the Cowboy’s best and most marketable player. His #31 jersey sold like hotcake’s and could be easily seen in Texas Stadium every Sunday afternoon. I myself was even guilty of this feat. I saved up $300.00 in 2003 to get my authentic Roy Williams throwback from the Cowboys pro-shop. It was my most prized possession for quite awhile.

The decline. I really didn’t want to believe that Roy’s skills were suspect. The big warning came in 2004 when Woody went down a had to retire. Roy was exposed! He couldn’t cover the deep receiver. Although Roy had great 2004 and 2005 campaigns, Roy gave opposing defenses an attack plan. Even though Roy was exposed, he was still that bone crunching hitter. He still instilled fear in opposing wide receivers that came over the middle. That just hasn’t been the case lately.

Fast forward to this season. Up until this year, I had been the biggest Roy Williams supporter. This season he has not only been suspect in coverage but he has suffered when playing in the box against the run. The last two weeks I have seen Roy take two bad angles on huge TD runs by the Packers and Lions. I even remember seeing Roy stiffed arm badly by an opposing RB earlier in the year. I don’t want to think that his skills as a football player are on the decline because he is only 27 years old and at times this season he has looked like he is 37 back there. So what’s wrong with Roy Williams you say? I have the answer or answers……… on.

Answer # 1. Confidence. Most people who have ever played the game of American football will tell you that confidence in one’s own abilities is a big factor on how the athlete plays. Lately I believe that Roy has began to question his own abilities. His ability to not only cover but to hit as well. I believe he has began to hear and believe all the naysayers and boo-birds in the media and at games and it has begun to cast doubt. Once that doubt sets in, the player becomes vulnerable and susceptible to mistakes and that’s exactly what’s been happening lately to Roy.

Answer # 2. Fame and money. The say that Fame and Money changes a person for the worse. Roy just signed a 4 year extension in 2006 making him the highest paid safety in the league. Players become totally entrenched in things on the outside and forget the things that made them rich and famous in the first  place like playing football. I believe this answer is common for many athletes in the NFL today. I honestly believe that more than half of all NFL players are in it more for the money than for the love of the game. They start to forget how hard and grueling the road to the NFL was. It’s not an easy task people. Roy is a humanitarian. He spends alot of time helping charities and foundations he has set-up. Hey you all have seen those United Way commercials. I believe this answer does not apply to Roy for that fact, but hey I could always be wrong.

Answer # 3. He just doesn’t want to be a Cowboy. I know this is a little far fetched and out there but anything’s possible. The only reason I bring this answer up is because I have tried to keep an eye on Roy this year seeing what he does on every play. There are times in the game when the defense comes up with a big play and Roy has no reaction. Like he doesn’t care. I have seen this reaction a few times. Roy, at least to my knowledge, has always been an emotional player. Every time he made a big hit or big play in the past, he has always shown alot of emotion. Same when someone else on defense had a big play. You would always see Roy be one of the first players to show some congrats. Haven’t seen that lately as well.

So there you have it. Some of you might agree with what I have to say and some of you may not. I honestly believe that if Roy was playing the way we are used to seeing Roy Williams play in previous years, this defense would be special. I have always been a great Roy Williams supporter but lately, like this whole season, its been hard to defend the guy. I would love nothing more than to have Roy turn around and start hitting some people like he used to. During the Green Bay game a few weeks ago I saw a flash of the old Roy when he came up on a running play and decleated Ryan Grant at the line after he was stood up by Canty. That was the old Roy I came to love watch play. The only time this season I saw Roy knock someone silly. Anyone out there know where that Roy is?          

Contributed by Fred the Fredooch