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Written by Darren | 01 November 2010

The Cowboys are off to one of their worst starts in franchise history. The Jacksonville Jaguars beat up the Cowboys to the tune of a 35-17 victory at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday. The Cowboys have all kinds of issues in every aspect of the game, which has caused them to go 1-6.

What Did We Learn- The Cowboys love to make mistakes. Watching this team and the mistakes they make is absolutely disheartening. The thing is, Tony Romo has nothing to do with the defense and most of the defense is healthy but they just can't stop the other team.  The Cowboys have struggled to stop the run all season and Maurice Jones-Drew rushed 27 times for 135 yards yesterday. It marked the fourth time this season the Cowboys have allowed a runner to gain at least 100 yards in a game. Dallas gave up 200 rushing yards in the loss to the New York Giants.

After the game, Wade Philips was asked if he's lost this team, to which he replied "I hope not." Wake up Wade, you have lost this team. The Dallas Cowboys have too much talent to be sitting at 1-6 right now. I get that we lost our QB and that Kitna isn't a great option as a backup but this team wasn't doing much with Tony Romo in. If you analyze yesterdays game, Kitna didn't really do a bad job (34 of 49 passes for 379 yards, 1TD) but he did throw 4 interceptions which doesn't help anyone.

The big story for the Cowboys remains the mistakes the team makes on the field, whether it be penalties, blown coverage or missed tackles and the sad story that is our running game. The Cowboys were booed off the field at the end of the first half and rightfully so as the Cowboys couldn't punch in a TD when they were on the 1-foot line.

There is no answer for the rest of the season. The Cowboys schedule gets brutal from this point on. In the month of November, the Cowboys play @ Green Bay (who shutout a tough Jets team yesterday) @ NY Giants, home against Detroit (who is a very tough losing record team) and home against the Saints on Thanksgiving. We could very easily be talking about a  1-10 by the time December rolls around.

Jerry Jones will need to make choices but probably won't make those choices during the next two months. However, every player and every coach should approach the rest of the season, whether it be games, practices, meetings, etc. as if they are under evaluation by the owner. At the end of the day, the only people safe in this organization are those named Jones and directly related to the owner. (Sorry Felix, you don't count!!) Jerry will need to blow up the entire coaching staff and bring in a new regime. The current staff just isn't getting the job done for whatever reason. This is a team that has the talent needed to succeed but for some reason isn't. After all, this was a team that returned 20 of 22 starters from last season’s 11-5 campaign, and started training camp as a 6-1 favorite to win the Super Bowl. Jerry Jones has every right to be embarrassed about what has happened to the Dallas Cowboys.

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Written by Darren | 29 October 2010

The Jacksonville Jaguars come to Dallas hoping to get to .500 while the Cowboys try to make something of a season gone horribly wrong. Jon Kitna will be taking the snaps in place of the injured Tony Romo. Hopefully after a week of taking snaps, the new look Cowboys (circa 2007 Detroit Lions) will be able to look a little more comfortable this week.

The Jaguars will get starting quarterback David Garrard back for this game, as he's been cleared to return from his concussion. The Cowboys defense is sure to have their hands full with a few guys on the Jags. Tight end  Mercedes Lewis (23 catches, 278 yards and five TDs) is a favorite target and the Jags offense is built around Maurice Jones-Drew (135 rushes, 510 yards and one TD). With the way the Cowboys run defense has preformed this season, you can expect Jones-Drew to get a lot of plays called his way.

As for the Cowboys offense, for me it has to be about the running game. Jason Garrett needs to get this part of the offense going, even if it is too late for the season to go anywhere. Jacksonville ranks 30th in total defense and 25th against the rush. The Cowboys have 3 very qualified backs, one who hasn't even touched the ball in weeks, but ranks 30th in the league with 86 ypg. This is THE week to get it going.

By getting the running game going, Kitna will probably find a little more time in the pocket, which he'll need because he's not mobile at all, and should concentrate on getting Dez Bryant the ball, much like he did on Monday. Bryant is going to be a leader of this team and why not start that process now. Even though making the playoffs is highly unlikely, Dallas can still try for a respectable record and play spoiler along the way. I don't want to leave out Austin and  Williams but I don't think Kitna will be throwing as much as Romo normally does.

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Written by Darren | 28 October 2010

Need proof that Tony Romo is a tough SOB and a leader of this team? That he's the type of guy that goes out on to the field and tries his hardest? Here is a video from the Giants game on Monday where Tony Romo was wired for sound. Notice that after the injury,while lying on the ground,  when the trainers came out to ask him what was hurting, he initially only cared about whether or not Austin caught the ball. Also, as we noticed during the game on Monday, he did try to sneak back into the game before a trainer stopped him. Thanks to my Giants fan friend for pointing this video out to me.

 

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Written by Darren | 27 October 2010

dez_bryantThe Cowboys lost to the Giants on Monday night so our "Weekly Buy/Sell Report" is a little late this week.

What I am buying into this week:

Dez Bryant - He was probably the one bright spot on a night that had so much let down. For a brief moment when Tony Romo left the field, Dez Bryant made us believe it would be ok, that the Cowboys could still succeed. He returned a punt 93 yards for a score, the second longest return in franchise history, and two fourth quarter touchdowns were his highlights. He's the first rookie since Emmitt Smith in 1990 to score three touchdowns in a game. If anything, we know now that this kid needs to get the ball more early on in the game.

Bradie James - Led the team with 9 tackles on Monday night and had a beautiful strip and recovery on a Bradshaw tackle.

Special Teams - In games against the Titans and the Vikings, the Cowboys special teams gave up huge game changing runs. It was so bad, I listed Joe DeCamillis as one of the guys to blame for this seasons woes. Monday was a different story.  Danny McCray and Sam Hurd set the tone early for the special teams unit. Would have been nice to get an onsides recovery but you can't really hold it against them.

Here is what I am selling this week:

Run Game - Specifically Marion Barber. It's time to really give the Jones and Choice show a chance to show us what to do. With our playoff hopes nothing short of a pipe dream, why don't the Cowboys concentrate on trying to develop this duo. Barber isn't what he used to be so lets move on. Monday night the run game averaged just 3.2 yards per carry and Choice hasn't seen the ball in 3 weeks.

Defense - Yes, the defense did force a season high 5 turnovers but when the team needed them the most, they didn't deliver. They allowed 31 consecutive points in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, didn't really make Eli rush around and allowed the receivers to be too open. Don't let the 6 point loss fool you.

 

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Written by Darren | 26 October 2010

Roy Williams, who played with Kitna in Detroit has this to say about Jon Kitna.

"Tony is our starter, but Jon is just as good",said Williams, who enjoyed the best season of his professional career when Kitna started in Detroit. "We are going to work this week in practice so we can get the timing down with the receivers. But I have complete faith in him. I have played with him for three years and I know how good he is."

The last time Romo went down was in 2008 and the Cowboys limped through 3 weeks, losing to St.Louis and New York while Brad Johnson took over QB duties for the Cowboys. Now, truth be told, Kitna is not Brad Johnson, he is much better than that. Kitna has been under appreciated most of his career. While with the Lions, Kitna had over 4000 yards in both seasons and led the Lions to a 7-9 record in his second year, which was the same team that went 0-16 the next season with Kitna on IR. So, with some practice, Kitna should be able to get the ball to the receivers.

Kitna has played behind very bad offensive lines in the past and actually done well. Obviously we can't expect the Cowboys offensive line to improve their level of play and Kitna doesn't have the mobility demonstrated week in and week out by Romo. But can we believe that Kitna will be productive and the Cowboys will avoid being winless while Romo is out?  The answer to that is yes. I do fear that because of Kitna's mobility issues, we might be writing an article about Stephen McGee fairly soon.

As I mentioned in the recap from last night, the Cowboys schedule gets brutal from this point out. Lets take a look at the next 6-8 games and yes, I realize on any given Sunday... so I don't need to hear that.

Jacksonville - a good possibility of getting a win.
@ Green Bay - probably a loss
@ NY Giants - probably a loss and I fear another hurt QB with that pass rush.
Detroit - they are a very tough bad team but we could manage a win
New Orleans on Thanksgiving - Tough game but with Bush back, Saints are a much better team.
@ Indy - Loss
Philadelphia - tough division rivalry and Philly might have a lot riding on it by that week.
Washington - They've been playing well and like Philly might have a lot riding on it.

So that's the 6-8 weeks that Romo will probably miss (a 3pm press conference by Philips today might shed more light on the Romo recovery time table) and I have them going 2-6, maybe 3-5 which puts them at 4-10 at best.At that point I'd let Romo sit the rest and focus on next season.

Should the Cowboys manage more wins than what I predicted here, you know Romo will get blamed for everything, that he's the one who was holding them back. We have to remember that sometimes, teams rally around the backup and play harder because they know they have a greater responsibilty for getting wins, instead of sitting back and letting the star QB take care of that.

So the answer to the title question isn't a black and white, yes or no question. On the surface, we as fans might want to say no but honestly, it will be up to the coaching staff and play calling to make Kitna a better QB and right now, Kitna is all we have and we HAVE to believe in him.

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Written by Darren | 26 October 2010

If a 1-4 start for a team that had such high expectations wasn't bad enough, it turns out the script for the 2010 Dallas Cowboys had an even worse case written into it. While the Cowboys certainly made it interesting in the end, I don't feel the final score was a very good indicator of what happened.

The Cowboys were cruising along. They were getting turnovers from the Giants, something I said they needed to do and capitalizing on those turnovers. Then,  Chris Gronkowski missed a blitz pickup and Michael Boley planted Tony Romo into the turf. Tony Romo would leave the game with a broken left clavicle and is effectively out for at least six weeks and is likely out closer to two months. I knew right there that if Romo's injury was serious, the season where the Cowboys were supposed to win it all in their building had come to a crushing end, my gut and heart both told me.

Surprisingly the Cowboys took a 20-7 lead a few minutes later when Dez Bryant took a punt 88 yards for a TD. Then, the team just fell apart. I'm not sure if word started spreading around the bench as to what Romo's injury was because the Defense just stopped playing. 17 points in the final five minutes of the first half and then a quick 14 more after halftime. It appeared the Cowboys had just given up because the Cowboys had no answer for the Giants, on either side of the ball.

I said the final score wasn't a good indicator because the score was close, the game was not. When Romo left the game he was 5-7 with 39 yards a 1 TD but Kitna would finish the game 16-33, 187 yards and 2 TDs. Kitna didn't pick up a first down until midway through the 4th quarter.

If you didn't watch the game, all you need to know is that Romo is gone for a while, the Cowboys allowed 508 yards on defense and had just 5 first downs until late in the fourth quarter. That's the story of the game.

In 2008, the Dallas Cowboys lost Tony Romo for a month and we suffered through three games of a team that played with zero heart. Kitna will get time in practice to find his game and the Cowboys get to host Jacksonville on Sunday which is a game they could win but then its off to Green Bay and New York followed by New Orleans two weeks later on Thanksgiving and Indy the week after that. We knew the Cowboys schedule was brutal and now the brutal part begins, without our leader.

I know the playoffs aren't realistic for this team but I do hope to get something positive out of this season. If I had to pick something positive from last night, it would be Dez Bryant. The guy is phenominal. IF he doesn't turn into a knucklehead somewhere down the road, he will be an amazing player.

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Written by Darren | 25 October 2010

Lets hope this isn't the best part of the game tonight!The Giants and Cowboys sqaure off tonight in Dallas. The Giants look to pull the plug on a Cowboys team that is currently on life support. At 1-4, the Cowboys have been a complete mess and have given away games by countless penalties and turnovers this season. The Cowboys can only blame themselves because the days of blaming Jessica Simpson and Terrell Owens are long gone. A loss to the Giants tonight would mean the proverbial nail in the coffin for the Cowboys.

Can the Cowboys win? Can they stop shooting themselves in the foot? A few things need to happen in order for the Cowboys to take a win away from the Giants.

#1 - Cowboys MUST score first. The fans are already impatient with this team, can you even imagine what the crowd will be like if the Giants take an early lead?

#2 - Turnovers: Cowboys must not give anything away to the Giants and MUST start taking the ball away on defense. The Cowboys have four takeaways and nine giveaways, which equals a minus-5 differential, which equates to a 29th league ranking. Manning is tied for 5th in the league with 8 interceptions and hopefully will throw a few tonight.

#3 - Get Points: The Cowboys have the third-ranked offense based on yardage but rank 16th in the league in scoring. The Cowboys outgained the Vikings 314 yards to 188 yards but still lost the game last weekend. Why? The Cowboys average starting position was their 21 while the Vikings' average start was their 40. Turnovers/Penalties ARE COSTLY!!

#4 - Play Smart Football: I've been saying this for weeks now and hopefully, one of these weeks it will come true. Score a TD just hand the ball over to the ref and avoid the costly penalties after the TD. I mean it is your job to score TD's, act like it! Don't commit stupid penalties that kill momentum on offense and negate 3rd down failures by the other team. There are always going to be some penalties but the last 2 weeks, the Cowboys penalties have been excessive.

It's simple. If the Cowboys win tonight, the team can continue on the quest of trying to get into the playoffs after a miserbale start. If the Giants win, forget it, pull the plug and call it..

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Written by Darren | 23 October 2010

A great thing about being part of the Bloguin network is that there are so many resources to collaborate with for upcoming games. This week, we have a Q&A session with the great guys over at Ultimate NYG

1. Statistically, Tony Romo has been having great games, despite the Cowboys losing record. What does he need to watch out for against the Giants? Are there any areas he can pick on? 
 
The Giants' strengths on defense are its pass rush, its run defense, and its secondary's talent.  The weaknesses are its LBers in coverage and the Tampa2 zone, where a WR can sitdown between the CB and Safety.  I would still use Witten and test the Safety who is guarding him. 
 
2. The Giants appear to be getting to the opposing QB with ease over the last couple of weeks. Kyle Kosier is out for Dallas which hurts an already weak offensive line and Romo has a thumb injury on his non-throwing hand, so there is obvious concern about the pass rush for Cowboys fans. What makes the Giants pass rush so effective and do you think they'll continue the same success against the Cowboys?
 
Romo should look for ways to step up into the pocket and avoid the Osi strip sack.  Simultaneously, he can leave the pocket above Osi and buy more time if needed.  But that advice is predicated on the interior linemen holding the Defensive Tackles at bay.  Cofield (and Canty to a lesser extent) have been able to get pressure, so that makes it harder to step up in the pocket.  Considering the difficulties that the Dallas OL has had, I would not think they would be successful vs the Giants DL. 
 
3. The Giants had a few rough games in the beginning of the season but have turned it around over the last few weeks. After starting so well last season and then having a disaster of a finish after the bye-week, are the Giants for real this season?
 
Games like this can help us figure that one out.  If you ask Rolle and Tuck, the Giants defense is just "having fun" out there now.  Fewell has definitely made some adjustments on the defense.  The offense is finding a little more rhythm.  If Eli can play a little more consistently, this offense can really hum.  The 3 Giants WRs are pound for pound as good as the Dallas WRs, which says a lot. 
 
My summed up answer is that this team can go as far as MLBer Jonathan Goff can take them.  He is the X-factor.  He can be the glue that makes the defense stout or he can be the jelly that makes it ooze.  Every game he is out there as the starter he is getting more comfortable.  If he can make his reads, stop the run and handle coverage assignments, the Giants will go as far as he can take them.
 
4. Are you worried the Giants will focus too much on the fact that the Cowboys aren't having the season predicted for them and not take them as seriously as they should?
 
Absolutely not.  If anything, the Giants were a little bit flat vs the Lions because that game was sandwiched between the Texans and Cowboys.  The Giants know full well how dangerous the Cowboys are, how the Cowboys have outgained their opponent every week, despite the losses.  They know the Cowboys are a wounded animal.  As Pete, one of our contributors to the blog notes, this game is the Super Bowl for the Cowboys, because at 1-4 they simply cannot afford another loss and they can ill afford a loss to a division rival.  The Giants know this and will have to match that intensity.
 
5. What do you think is the key matchup for the Giants on Sunday and do you have a prediction for the game?

Wonder, another contributor to UltimateNYG, notes that there is only one question, the first one I gave to you... can the Dallas OL keep Romo upright?  So the key matchup is the Dallas OL vs the Giants DL.  If Romo gets the time, Dallas will win.  Two years ago in December, Romo did not have the time, but neither did Eli.  Both were getting ripped apart.  But here was the key- Jason Garrett started using 3 step drops and a steady dose of screens to slow down the pass rush, and that put Romo back together.  Kevin Gilbride, the OC for the Giants, did not make those same adjustments, Eli ended up with 8 sacks and the Giants lost.  So as we type up these answers, we ask aloud, what is Jason Garrett going to do to help his OL and to help his QB? If Garrett schemes this well, and Fewell adjusts, it will be a great game. 
 
Prediction?-  Which Dallas team shows up?  The one that commits a million penalties and turnovers, or the buzzsaw that annihilated the Texans?  I fully expect the buzzsaw, but I also expect the Giants to play a very good game before their bye week.  No call.

Thanks to the guys over at Ultimate NYG for answering these questions. I will have a preview of the Giants/Cowboys game up Monday morning.

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Written by Darren | 21 October 2010

 

The Giants just might be the right team at the right time to come to Cowboys Stadium this weekend. Sure, the 'Boys are 1-4 but wouldn't turning the season around, starting with the New York Giants just be a perfect script to write? I tell you, I am an optimist when it comes to this team.

If the Cowboys are going to start the turnaround we're all hoping for, they'll need to start by shutting down the Giants passing game. Perhaps a better way of getting that done would be to get after Eli Manning and stop the passes before they even start. On offense, Dallas will need to control the Giants pass rush, something they were doing early in the season but recently have struggled doing.

Some Note on the Cowboys / Giants Matchup for you:

The Cowboys lead the series overall with a 55-38-2 record against the Giants but New York has won 3 of the past 4 and Coughlin is 9-7 against Dallas while Philips is just 3-5.

The last time they met, Hixon returns punt 79 yards for TD with 5:33 remaining to put game out of reach as Giants hold on for win. (Special Teams problems even back then!!)

Other Cowboys Stats:

Tony Romo - Has posted 100+ QB rating in 4 of the past 5 meetings. Cowboys are 28-5 when Romo starts and has 100+ rating. He is looking for his third straight game with 3 or more TD passes.

Roy Williams - Has 5 rec TD's in the past 3 games, including a 2 TD game last week in Minnesota. Williams is hoping for 4th straight game with a TD as are the fans!!

Jason Witten - Even in the loss in last Giant meeting, Witten lit up the Giant D for 156 yards on 14 catches.


Other Giants Stats

Eli Manning - 19-4 as a starter in the month of October which ranks #1 among QBs who began career in the last 45 years with a minimum 20 starts. He has 20,123 career passing yards & joined Phil Simms as only Giants with 20,000+ passing yards.

Brandon Jacobs - He rushed for 2 TDs last week & has 4 rushing TDs in past 3 weeks, not bad for a guy who wanted out of town!!

Ahmad Bradshaw -  Leads NFC in rushing (582 yards) & ranks 2nd in scrimmage yards (675). 

Justin Tuck -  Has 4 sacks, 2 FRs & FF in past 3 weeks. Including the playoffs, the Giants have won 14 in row when Tuck has sack.

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Written by Darren | 19 October 2010

The Cowboys are 1-4 and most people would agree that their hopes of being the first team to play at home in the Super Bowl are pretty much gone. So who is to blame? I mean you have to blame somebody don't you?

Wade Philips - As the head coach, the blame for a failed season (which through 5 games, yes this is a failure) always gets placed on the you. The bottom line is that the Cowboys don't appear to be a disciplined team and that is kind of your responsibility. They take stupid penalty after stupid penalty and don't ever seem to learn from their mistakes. Two weeks in a row the team gets called for celebrating in the end zone?? Its a penalty that really hurt them against Tennessee and I just can't believe the coach would allow it to happen again. Sorry, if I were the head coach and it happened, I don't care who you are, you're sitting. I don't think Wade has a lot of control out there but is that really his fault?

Jerry Jones - When you want to be the puppet master, then you certainly get the blame. It's no secret that Wade Philips was hired by Jerry because he wanted a "yes man" after having Parcells in as head coach for a few seasons. For me, it doesn't work. You can't have a team be successful where after every game, the media doesn't want to talk to the head coach but would rather get a quote from the owner. Jerry NEEDS to take a back seat, find a coach that he can give control to and sit in his box, watch the games and count his money. How can Wade Philips have a disciplined team when everyone in the world thinks that Jerry is actually the one controlling things? Bill Cowher's name comes up a lot in coaching conversations for the Cowboys but for that to even have a chance at happening, Jerry would need to change.

Tony Romo - You are the Quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys and with that comes blame when things go wrong. Don't get me wrong, Tony puts up some great stats but he does make some crazy mistakes. He makes them and key times which amplifies mistakes. For instance the other day, he threw a pick that led to the game winning FG. They got the ball back, he couldn't move it and got the ball back once more without any timeouts and couldn't do anything. Tony needs to find a way to put the team on his back and win games when they really shouldn't. It's what seperates the decent from the elite.

All interceptions aren't the QB's fault, in fact shouldn't the NFL have a stat for interceptions like the MLB has for pitchers when it comes to wild pitch vs passed ball?

Jason Garrett - How can you not blame the offensive cooridinator when you have a team that has three quality running backs to go along with a strong group of wide receivers, and last but not least a Pro Bowl tight end yet has no identity on the offensive side of the ball? Garrett's play-calling has been average at best. The sad number in Jason Garrett's play calling is that Jason Witten has 3 touchdowns over the last two seasons. I know Tight Ends don't put up huge numbers when it comes to touchdowns but I think Garrett could benefit using his tight end in red zone situations.

Joe DeCamillis (Special Teams Coach) - Two big game changing returns, one for a TD and the other to deep inside the red zone. It's unacceptable and your name is climbing the blame list quickly.

Who are you pointing the finger at?

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