Thursday, October 30, 2008

Something to be said about history

History has repeated itself in the world of sports and multiple times. The Cowboys, on paper, are depleted and the line for the game this upcoming Sunday in the Meadowlands against the division rival and first place Giants has grown from what I've heard to nine points from seven originally. Plus Nine that is for Dallas. A month ago ofcourse the line would have been even probably before the injury bug came completely out of nowhere to bite the Cowboys. The Cowboys have lost three of four, mainly from being slowed by injuries. The Giants are 6-1 with their only loss at Cleveland on a Monday Night to a Browns team that got blown out by Dallas in the opener. First off, it's never as bad or as good as it appears. I will revisit a time when I remember two NFC titans(the VERY BIG TWO as they were called) meet for a big showdown where one team was healthy and rolling along at 8-1 and the other was depleted at 5-4 and seemingly going nowhere fast. The year was 1995. The Dallas Cowboys were on their way to their third Super Bowl in four years. The San Francisco 49ers were the defending Super Bowl Champs and had been the second best otherwise in the two years prior to that when they lost to the Cowboys back to back in the NFC Championship game. These two teams were head and shoulders above the rest. Head and Shoulders. But into this week 10 showdown on November 12, 1995 in Texas Stadium, Dallas was firing on all cylinders at 8-1, probably should have been 9-0(their one loss at that point had been an upset loss to a rebuilding Redskin team in week 5 at RFK by four points when Aikman had left the game in the first quarter with a pulled hamstring if memory serves). Aikman returned the next week and the Cowboys hadn't lost since then. The 49ers were a trainwreck at 5-4, facing their fourth straight game without Steve Young(separated shoulder, again if memory serves-Young missed one more after this game)and having just suffered embarrassing back to back losses, both at home to the struggling Saints by a score of 11-7 and then hitting rock bottom the next week prior to Dallas, by losing 13-7 at home again to the expansion first year Carolina Panthers. Elvis Grbac had yet to find his rythym and the Niners had no more Ricky Watters(in Philly via free agency)and Fullback William Floyd, was gone for the year. Watter's replacement Derek Loville, was solid but not the kind of gamebreaker, game changer that Watters' had been capable of. So the Niners' offense was stuck in neutral, and their league leading defense was spending far too much time on the field. And Dallas was leading the NFL in every offensive category except passing TDs since Aikman moved the chains and the redzone was always EmmittZONE. Emmitt Smith was in his prime, the NFL's leading rusher and on his way to breaking the record for most rushing TDs in a season with 25. And the Cowboys defense was solid, ranking in the top third in the NFL. All signs pointed to BLOWOUT CITY for Dallas. The question all week on SportsCenter read "will the Niners' even SHOW UP?" And if that wasn't enough, the Cowboys had the added incentive of avenging the previous year's NFC Championship loss to the Niners. The Cowboys had swiped Deion Sanders, who'd won a ring the year before with the Niners just like when the Niners had snagged Ken Norton from the Cowboys after he'd been on the winning side for them. And a lot like '92 when Charles Haley(still a huge part of the Cowboys in '95) had been traded to Dallas from San Francisco. I remember wondering what the buildup was still for. Dallas was going to spank the 49ers' right? Embarrass them right? And then I turned on the tube, and on the second play from their own 19, Grbac found Jerry Rice over the middle being covered by Dallas linebacker Darin Smith and he was off to the races. 7 Zip Niners. No big deal still just a blown coverage. ALright, so the Niners won't get shut out. The Cowboys get the ball and on the first play, Aikman finds Michael Irvin on a routine slant pattern. Irvin was hit and did something he almost NEVER did in his career: Fumble! Scooped up by Niner free safety Merten Hanks who waltzed into the endzone and did his funky deal that he liked to do. One minute in 14-0 NINERS! And I vividly recall Pat Summeral saying "for those of you who've just tuned in, that's a correct score" Then Aikman was safety blized by Niner's safety Marquez Pope (Deion Sander's replacement) and injured his knee. Then Troy threw a pick to linebacker Ricky Jackson and a field goal made it 17-0 San Francisco still in the first quarter. And on the following series Troy Aikman (enter Wade Wilson) exited the game after being sacked by Dana Stubblefield. ANd just like that the Cowboys lost their second game of the season when they were double digit favorites AND incredibly in both games Troy Aikman didn't finish yet returned the following week as if he was never hurt and led his team to victory. Rice was moved around during the game and was uncovered each time he caught the ball. The Cowboys had NO IDEA what ran over them as they lost 38-20. And it wasn't even THAT close. It was an earth shattering loss for Dallas who DID manage to hold on for the NFC's number one seed and got a break in the playoffs by not having to face the 49ers, who were upset by Green Bay. Dallas still owned Green Bay and beat them in the NFC Championship and then beat Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. But that game between Dallas and San Francisco in Nov. 1995 served as the ultimate lesson of the catch phrase probably adopted by Chris Berman, "that's why they PLAY the game" After the game then Niner's president Carmen Policy jokingly thanked Dallas for not running up the score. There have been some other cases like this happening before then and since then but that one stands out the most TO ME. Is it possible that Dallas could go into the Meadowlands (where they have won the last two times) with not too much to lose(since there ARE still seven more games after this one including a rematch against New York) and a LOT to gain and end up consuming all of the emotional edge and just kick the hell out of the Giants like San Francisco did in 1995 at Texas Stadium? I'll never forget the sight of Emmitt and Irvin with just looks of bewilderment on their faces during that debacle and wondering what hit them. I'll also never forget all of the emotion on the San Francisco sideline. I mean the emotinal edge was all San Francisco's in that game. For starters, the Cowboys just need to have that emotional edge. The proverbial " come on, you can do it" "this is our game".

OH, and Jason Witten said" anyone who doesn't think we can win this Sunday, should stay behind"

Monday, October 27, 2008

What can happen with a late bye wk as opposed to an early one

The Giants got to take their Bye week after only three games. They've stayed healthy up to this point. The Cowboys were the best team in the NFL up to that point. But five weeks later, it's all changed with the team having still not reached their bye week and at a solid but not gaudy 5-3 record. A year ago the Cowboys had their bye week after beating Minnesota at home to improve their record to 6-1. So it wasn't as late as this year's which mercifully comes on Nov.9. It's just the breaks beating the Boys. The Redskins have been fortunate as well and they finally have their bye when Dallas does. From a standpoint of injuries, especially because they are untimely, the NFL could stand for the No Fair League. To win in this league takes a lot of luck. And part of luck is staying healthy. The Giants have been more lucky than good from the injury standpoint. They Cowboys are certainly good but not lucky thus far. Not only the injury thing but also the fact that they have a solid defense but are STILL minus 6 in turnovers. The Cowboys have very little margin for error even when they will be healthier again coming off a bye. The schedule is unforgiving. The Cowboys should beat the Seahawks, Ravens, and 49ers at home. But tough Road games at Pittsburgh, Washington, Philadelphia, and a tough home game against those F---ing Giants. Not to mention having to go to the Meadowlands with a hand tied behind their back this Sunday. The NO FAIR LEAGUE is just one of many obstacles that the Cowboys must somehow overcome to get to where they want to be. If they can get into the playoffs at least, in today's NFL, it's anybody's game. And when healthy, Dallas can take down anyone anywhere. No matter what happens Sunday, the BYE week will hopefully cure what's ailing Big D. It's amazing how the injury thing just happens out of nowhere.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's wasn't pretty but a win's a win

With the Redskins, Eagles, and Giants all victorious today, you had to know that the Cowboys somehow someway were going to get a win because they had to. Didn't know exactly how but that they would. And how? The defense. With the offense stuck in a much lower gear with Brad Johnson's checkdown approach (but no mistakes to hurt his team at least) the defense bended often but would not break. The Bucs were forced to settle for four field goal attempts, making three (a 51 yarder late in the first half was long enough but way off target) in the game, two in the first quarter from 36 yards out each. In the second quarter, the Cowboys offense, came somewhat alive enough to score 10 points including the game's only TD with six seconds to go in the half from 2 yards out on a pass up top from Brad Johnson to Roy Williams. Williams had both of his catches on a drive that also saw the Bucs penalized four times. The first penalty occured at midfield when the Cowboys were bailed out on third down when Ronde Barber (no relation to the Cowboys Marion) was flagged for a personal foul Horsecollar tackle on Marion Barber. The Cowboys were at the Bucs 2 and instead of kicking a chip shot fieldgoal to tie the score at 6, Johnson threw up a jump ball that Williams caught that put Dallas up 10-6 at the half. In the second half, it was an exchange of field goals, first a 45 yarder by Nick Folk, for a 13-6 lead midway thru the third and then Tampa's Matt Bryant nailed a 41 yarder to narrow the margen to 13-9 late in the third quarter to complete the scoring. The Bucs final drive stalled at the Cowboys' 18 when Garcia, pressured and hurried all game, was forced out of the pocked and threw incomplete with 13 seconds left. I don't know how we're going to pull off one next wk at the Meadowlands because clearly we're not the same team right now with the aforementioned guys out until after the Bye Week. Sure would be nice to have the BYE week now when you consider most teams have already had theirs, many of them long since. And our Cowboys finally get one on Nov. 9. But we'll just see what happens. If we lose next Sunday, it can be blamed a lot on the injuries, namely Romo. With Romo on the field alone next week, I'd like our chances but we have to go once more without him. No matter what, we'll be more like our normal team next time we play the Giants at home and down the stretch. As I mentioned earlier, the other divisional rivals all won today as well. The Eagles outpointed the Falcons at home. The Redskins came from behind to dump the winless Detroit Lions on the road. The eight point margin of victory is the Redskins' largest this year. They are 6-2, and like the Cowboys, are getting a late bye week on Nov. 9 as well. The Eagles are 4-3 and the Giants came from behind on Steelers miscues to win at Pittsburgh 21-14. It looked for awhile like the Steelers were in control of that game. Unfortunately, when they had chances to put it away, they failed and the Giants did what they almost always do when an opponent has them down but fails to put them away: they make you pay for allowing them to hang around. They aren't awesome or flashy and they can look bad at times. But here they were again losing in the fourth and the Steelers had a couple of opportunities to extend the lead and they didn't and New York found a way to win. All things considered, had the Cowboys lost this one today, they'd be staring at 4-5 after next week at the Meadowlands. They will need more of an offensive output to win next week. And the defense will have to step up again. I know some turnovers would go a long ways towards something. Suprisingly, the Giants are only seven point favorites next wk considering they're at home, and relatively healthy while the Cowboys are like this track star forced to go on crutches. It wasn't pretty today but we'll take it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Trying to make do until Romo's return

Well, now the Cowboys should be a bit more focused obviously this week than last if for no other reason than the fact that they know who's at QB for the next two games until their Nov. 9 bye. Tony Romo is on the original return timetable afterall, Nov. 16 against the Redskins. The Cowboys are staring at a stretch that could jeopardise their playoff possibilities much less the division. Against the Rams, the Cowboys all week were not prepared like they should have been and were DOA come gametime. Yes, I'm referring to DEAD ON ARRIVAL in case anyone's wondering. That's how Jim Rome put it and I'd have to agree with the assessment because I can't think of one that's more fitting, at least not off top. Brad Johnson, you'd think is BOUND to be a lot better on this Sunday. I really expect him to be anyways. He couldn't have been any worse against the Rams. Tampa Bay at home. Dallas would be a ten point favorite if they had a healthy Romo along with Pac-Man, Terrence Newman, and Felix Jones. But they are out this Sunday. Each of them. And they're dinged in many other areas. But ofcourse, if you're Tampa Bay, let me put it this way: If I were a Bucs fan, I'd like our chances against a Cowboys team that's maybe 65 percent. But that's why they "play" the actual game, as Chris Berman always likes to say after there's been a supposedly big upset. And this game is not an upset either way, given the circumstances. The Cowboys still have their receivers, Marion Barber, and the line on offense. And Brad Johnson was rusty. He's not Romo. But he certainly better than LAST sunday. As Bill Belicheck would say after last Sunday's loss" yeah we got our asses totally kicked on both sides, and outcoached. I know we're better than THAT though" I expect the team to rally around Brad on both sides. Especially when even Terrell Owens is saying publicly how the team has confidence in Brad and the team that they will be able to play better from here until Romo gets back. While the worst case scenario is that the team could actually be 4-5( Now WHO would have thought THAT?) when Romo gets back, that would mean a long tough uphill battle just to make the playoffs. If that were to happen (lose their next two to fall to 4-5?!) I'd say that the division crown is likely out of reach but certainly not the playoffs. Playoffs? Don't talk about PLAYOFFS! Are you kidding me? PLAYOFFS? I just hope we can win at least one of our next two games. Man, I thought Jim Mora was awesome.

You know the frustrating thing about this to me? The fact that the Cowboys probably would be the best in the NFL without these key injuries because a month ago, they WERE the best in NFL. And a month ago, the Rams were the WORST in the NFL. But now, probably the worst team has to be the Detroit Lions. Oh, yeah, how in the HELL does newly acquired WR Roy Williams not even catch a ball this past sunday. That's how bad Brad Johnson played, although our defense was an equal contributor to last Sunday'a debacle. I don't think I envisioned losing to the Rams even right before the game started. I could go on forever but, if somehow this team can win Sunday, then there's reason to believe that a division crown is still possible. If we beat Tampa and lose at the Meadowlands next wk without Romo, we DO get another shot at the Giants at least. And the Giants aren't unbeatable for sure. Losing to Cleveland and then having a bit of a hard time with an inferior San Francisco squad. Or we could get embarrassed again on Sunday, that's always possible too. Hope not.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Looking Bleak Continued.....

Well, it was an ugly deal. Losing to the Rams 34-14, a team that started off the season looking 00-16 bad. I mean a month ago, Dallas beats St. Louis 42zip or whatever but that seems like more than a year ago. Obviously, the Cowboys are depleted in their secondary and their special teams have their issues. But first and foremost, no disdain for Brad Johnson, but we need NUMBER 9 back in there. Maybe the Cowboys will be this years' Giants or this year's version of the 2005 Steelers. Maybe this means finally when the calender switches over to December, that the Cowboys will actually be peaking instead of puking. Obviously they haven't played their best football yet and the injuries go a long ways towards putting that off a bit. But next Sunday at home against the Bucs, a team we're better than when at full strength. This team needs to somehow get mad and get Romo back in there. Now, BRad Johnson probably would play much better next week if he were to go but Romo, who was actually active for today but didn't play, needs to be in there and I would almost pencil him back in against Tampa Bay. A month ago, this team was unquestionably the best in the NFL, but now that seems like forever ago. This is the worst that CowboyNation has got to be feeling since 2004, when we KNEW we weren't very good.

Looking Bleak

It's halftime and the Cowboys are down to the supposedly worst team in the NFL 24-7

They've decided that Brad Johnson was going to start and after he led the team down initially to a TD and a 7-0 lead, NOTHING. NOTHING BUT A NIGHTMARE! It's been all Rams since and if Wade Phillips doesn't give ROMO a try in the second half, he ought to be FIRED

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Romo playing this Sunday?

Now for the past three days, Tony Romo has been telling the coaching staff that he is ready to go this Sunday against the Rams. The players, staff, and Jerry Jones namely, have been watching Romo throw in practice and the pinkie "appears" to have very little or no affect on the throws. Ofcourse, we will only know in the game situation. Since it's only the Rams (YES, I maintain that their win over Washington was a fluke) I might lean towards starting Brad Johnson and take it as it comes. If it goes well enough, and they get ahead comfortably, maybe put Romo in to see how he is, or be all means, if he's fine he's fine. If tomorrow, we see the Cowboy offense make their first trot onto the field and we see number 9 among them, then that's when we'll know for sure or if it will be a Tall #14, then we'll know it's going to be Brad Johnson. Obviously, regardless of who plays tomorrow, Romo will be back much sooner than expected. And even more obvious, regardless of who goes tomorrow, it's a MUST win for the Cowboys. If they can't beat the Rams...................we'll we don't want to be on that road.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Stunning few days in BigD

It was bad enough that we lost to the Cardinals (a team we'd have blown away anywhere other than in Phoenix) even worse was HOW they lost, and now, comes all of the other things out of the game. First off, four nights before the game, Adam "PacMan"Jones (you know his track record)the talented defender/special teamer but undisciplined off the field guy, messed up in getting into a brawl, reportedly with one of HIS OWN BODYGUARDS if you can believe that. He played against Arizona but the NFL has now handed down a four game suspension and so he won't return until safety Pro Bowl Safety Terrence Newman is back from Sports Hernia surgery and after another Pro Bowl Safety Roy Williams returns from a broken forearm. But the real stunning news comes from that botched overtime period. Come to find out, TONY ROMO (shit! OH NO!) broke the pinkie on his throwing hand ON THE FIRST PLAY of the overtime session. He's out the next three games reportedly, with a bye week finally coming on November 9. He should be back on Nov. 16 against the Redskins. 40 year old Brad Johnson will take his place in the meantime. Punter Matt McBriar got hurt on the blocked punt, he's out possibly for the year so obviously the Cowboys will have an interim punter come Sunday against the Rams. Felix Jones has a hamstring and will miss possibly the next two games, so another Rookie, Tashard Choice, will start in his place to go along with Marion Barber. But just when the wheels appear to be coming off in BIG D, the team makes a big splash. They have signed ANOTHER Roy Williams, the talented receiver from the woeful Detroit Lions. Williams, a native of Odessa, Texas, played his college ball as an All American at Texas, and is elated to come back home and play for Dallas and T.O. is reportedly estatic about it, meaning he'll get more one on one instead of so much double teaming. Williams, who will wear a #11 Jersey like Danny White and Drew Bledsoe before him, is about the exact same size as T.O. And it could be a scary combination. There will be a lot of Four Wideout sets on plays, you can count on it. Patrick Crayton will still facter in a lot as well. So that's definitely an upgrade. Plus the Cowboys gave Williams a Five Year Contract Extension after this year. But now the serious reality of it all:

Surviving without Romo. Romo is 28 and ofcourse still on the rise. He's a fine athlete like Favre and a lot like Jim Zorn (current Redskin coach) the player. Mobile, improviser, part gambler, sometimes Mad Bomber. He can extend plays as well as anyone that's ever played the game. He still makes a few mistakes that not even I might make (just kidding, you get my point though) Romo's injury doesn't require surgery though he'll reportedly have some kind of a cast on it for the few weeks. Don't you suppose that he will try to get back for the November 2 game against the Giants (who got their asses whopped by a Browns team that Dallas routed)? Anyways, Brad Johnson has been around. He has a ring from his stint with the Tampa Bay Bucs. He was one of the top QBs in the league during his two year stint with Washington (1999-2000) but that was nearly a decade ago. Just last week I was talking to a fellow fan of mine, a co-worker, about Brad Johnson and how he looks to be perhaps a future assistant coach, perhaps staying on with Dallas after he decides he's no longer a player. And now he's the starter for at LEAST the next two games. He's 40 as I mentioned (not that old, only three years older than me) and not Romo in terms of youthful abandon. He will be certainly in a more under neath pass approach and a pocket passer. He won't make plays that Romo makes but some of the mistakes that Romo makes probably won't be made by Johnson either. He will certainly be a coach on the field. A great field general. He's 6-5, so he will be able to see over most. The main concern is whether the offensive line will protect him enough. They certainly are capable of it. Give Johnson the time and protection he needs and you like our chances. Also, look who we play at least in the next two weeks. The Rams, who upset the Redskins, (Redskins beat themselves) The Rams are still bad. The Cowboys should be able to go into St. Louis and win as long as they don't turn it over. Then a home game against the Bucs. I see that being a 16-10 or 20-14 kind of game. But not to look too far ahead. My prediction for this Sunday: Cowboys 24 Rams 10. That will put the Cowboys record at 5-2, which is something most of the teams in the NFL would envy.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another one that got away

The Cowboys dropped a tough overtime loss to the much improved Arizona Cardinals 30-24 on a blocked punt TD recovery only a minute into the extra sudden death session. There were three things that happened during the course of the game that allowed the Cardinals to have a chance in this:

1. The opening kickoff was returned 93 yards for a TD by JR Arrington to put the Cardinals up 7-0.

2. Right before the end of the half with the score 7-7, Dallas blew a golden opportunity to score a TD and then Nick Folk , who later nailed a 52 yarder to send the game into overtime, suffered his only miss of the season thus far, on a 37 yarder that clanged (loudly) off of the left upright, leaving the game tied at halftime.

3. After Romo's TD to Miles Austin on the opening drive of the second half put Dallas up 14-7, and saw at that point, the Cowboys dominating in yards and time of possession, the Cardinals faced a 3rd and 17 which saw Kurt Warner being rushed and getting off screen that was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Tank Johnson and right into RB Hightower's hands and he did his best impersonation of Marion Barber and got the first down by a half a yard and gave his team some momentum that would get them back into the contest.

ANY OF THOSE THREE THINGS DON"T GO ARIZONA'S WAY, and DALLAS WINS! And the Cowboys didn't take advantage of the Redskins losing AT HOME to THE RAMS!

The Rams are Dallas' next opponent. NO excuses. THey'd better win this next one OR ELSE!
Sure is painful to write this, but we're underachieving so far!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cowboys rebound against the Bengals but far from a complete game

Dallas rebounded against Cincinnati on Sunday at Texas Stadium but it was like two different games. The Cowboys improved to 4-1 despite making it FIVE FOR FIVE so far this year in not winning the turnover battle. Two more turnovers by Tony Romo, one a fumble when he had scrambled for six yards and a first down with the team running the two minute drill before halftime. Had Romo tucked away and held onto the ball, the Cowboys, up 17-3 at that point would have likely at least gotten a field goal before intermission. Instead, the Bengals get it at the Dallas 41 and come away with a momentum changing field goal of their own to close the deficit to 17-6. In the second half, the Cowboys received the kickoff and proceeded to be forced to punt one of only two times all game. The Bengals took that ball, drove the length of the field and scored a TD to cut it to 17-13. Again Romo had the Cowboys on the move with a first down at the Cincy 35 when he threw his fifth interception in as many games this year, and had it returned to the Cowboys 39. The Cowboys defense again held the Bengals to a field goal and trimmed what was once an intimidating 17-0 early second quarter lead (and certain blowout) to 17-16. Then Cincinnati stunned Dallas with a suprise onside kick and recovered at midfield. The Bengals got a first down and then Tank Johnson finally put an end to the nonsense streak by punching the ball loose from Cedrick Benson. Two plays later, Romo connected to T.O for a 57 yarder to revive the Cowboys somewhat, giving them a 24-16 lead. The Cowboys special teams, however, allowed another long runback to the Bengals and they then took it the remaining 37 yards in six plays for a TD. After a failed two pt conversion, it was 24-22 Dallas midway thru the fouth. Romo then took the Cowboys the length of the field mixing in running and passing well and then just inside the two minute warning, threw his third TD of the game to Crayton to seal the deal, a 31-22 win for Dallas. And the Cowboys remain minus 4 in the turnover department, something that needs to turn around at some point. The defense doesn't appear to quite be there yet for Dallas. Again the Cowboys at home failed to bury the still winless Bengals when they should have and it turned into a battle much like the game two weeks ago when Cincy took the Giants into overtime before succumbing. The Cowboys are 4-1 despite losing the overall turnover battle for the season. The defense DID recover two fumbles but they still don't have an interception yet. Hard to believe. Eli Manning of the Giants has only thrown one pick so far this year and the Redskins' Jason Campbell hasn't thrown any yet. Neither ofcourse have as many touchdown passes as Romo, who has 11 now. But this being good for one interception a game certainly doesn't sit well with Romo. He'll be the first to say it although it's not always his fault necessarily either. Owens only had two catches on Sunday, one for a ten yard first down reception in the first half and ofcourse the aforementioned 57 yarder that gave the Cowboys some breathing room after they had let the Bengals back into the game.

Consider this: Dallas is not playing their best football yet overall but they are still right there with the Giants and Redskins, who are at the moment, playing their best football. The Cowboys, at their best, are still the best in the NFL. Sunday was one of those games that they had to win and did despite not playing anywhere near their best. The running game got back on track with the Cowboys running for over 200 yards (96 for Felix Jones and 84 for Marion Barber) Look for Romo to get back in sync with T.O this Sunday and the prediction is that he goes his first game without a pick and throws for three or four more touchdowns. The running game will be vital as well so look for the Cowboys to continue to use their dazzling, haven't hit their peak yet by any means-ONE TWO punch of Barber and Felix. Arizona with Kurt Warner, put up a fight this Sunday but the Cowboys, the road studs that they've been the last two years, out fox the Cardinals. Both teams will score, but the Cowboys defense, though not in top gear yet, is still better than the Cardinals. Call it Cowboys 34-24.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Since Romo Took over

I know it seems like more starts in some ways and in other ways maybe not, but the Cowboys over Romo's 29 regular season starts have something that I think many in CowboyNation (myself included) have overlooked. The Cowboys have been a better road team than a home team. 8-6 at home. 13-2 on the road. Both losses were at Washington. In 2006, in only his second start, the Cowboys gave away a game like a gift to the Redskins who were struggling that year. Not that it was Romo's fault. The other road defeat came in last year's regular season finale, when the Cowboys were 13-2, having clinched the home field advantage in the NFC, and resting many key starters. Romo played for about half the game and it was the only road setback for the Cowboys for the year. What really contributes to the subpar home record in Romo's tenure was the loss of their final three home games in 2006, including that embarrassing loss to the hapless Detroit Lions. Now the Cowboys DID go 6-2 last year at home. One was a loss to New England (not an upset) The other home loss was a huge upset to Philadelphia. The Cowboys had hammered the Eagles in Philly 38-17 just month earlier.

And now they're 1-1 at home this year after outlasting the Eagles in week 2 and the 26-24 setback to the Redskins this past sunday. For whatever reason, in the two home games, the Cowboys, much like other times at home the past two years, have shown up basically taking it for granted that they're going to win, not only because they are better than the opponent, but because they're at home. That has to change.

I mean on the road, the Cowboys always seem to come out with something to prove right away. They come out as though they can't wait to get at the other team. They've been much more poised on the road, much more focused. Two comfortable wins on the road, and a struggle for one win at home over Philly, and the dissappointing setback last Sunday, when they had been 11 point favorites. They Cowboys are favored at home by 17 this Sunday against Cincinnati. Dallas needs to come out and assert themselves early on and they need to come out pissed about the one that they let get away last week. And not come out flat in the beginning and wait for the other team to make a mistake. And that brings up another thing. THe Cowboys are minus 4 in the turnover category and only have a couple of fumble recoveries. Eventually the turnovers will come for the Cowboys defense. But in the meantime, the offense needs to get back to the run-pass balance that they wound up not having against Washington, and not have any more turnovers. They ARE averaging 30 pts/game so far but imagine how much it would be with no turnovers and when the defense finally starts making the opponents turn it over more. And stops on third down need to be improved. The Redskins had the ball for a ridiculous 39 minutes and some change.