Sunday, May 31, 2009

What do the so called experts really know?

The Cowboys are kind of under the radar from an expectation standpoint. Based on what happened in 2008. A year ago at this time, they were almost a unanimous pick to at least be in the Super Bowl, which was based on 2007. 2007 was when they were the best team in the NFC but choked in the playoffs. 2008 was when they had lofty expectations but had lots of injuries, which basically made them like a track star on crutches. Romo breaking a finger and missing three games, two of them lossess. Losing their pro-bowl caliber punter for the year in week 6. Losing Felix Jones in the same game, also for the year. Romo broke his finger in the SAME damned game at Arizona. The turmoil followed based on the team all of a sudden under achieving. It turned into drama. Marion Barber hurting his toe on Thanksgiving in an easy win against Seattle (Isn't that usually when a key injury happens? A game that you are winning without breaking a sweat), caused him to be less than 50 percent in the last four games. He didn't play at all against Pittsburgh. If he had, they would have closed that one out for sure. Choice filled in for him decently but there wasn't any other runner in there to spell him since Felix Jones was lost back in October. Felix was an upgrade from Julius, who was an average back on a 13-3 team in '07. Both he and Barber are back 100 percent. The only real question mark I think is at the number one receiver slot obviously. Roy Williams has potential but the Cowboys could very well be better and more effective if they mix in a nice 50-50 run, pass ratio. And Williams could have dynamic year if teams don't take him nearly as serious as T.O. This team if harnessed right and healthy, is going to be very good. By harnessed, I mean, team concept, accepting the roles, and DISCIPLINE. And as I recall, in a few other instances where, nobody talked about a team going into a season, then the team wound up a suprise or should I say, better than everyone thought. The 2007 Giants. The 2008 Cardinals. The 1995 Packers come to mind as a team that had lost I think NINE free agents, and not much was done to compensate much less improve the team according to the so-called experts. And they made it to the NFC Championship game, battling valiantly before losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champ Cowboys, and then dominating and winning it all the following year. Remember the 1999 Rams? They came out of nowhere. The 2001 Patriots were unheralded until Bledsoe goes down in week 2 and this unknown named Tom Brady steps in and the rest is history. Tony Romo was an unknown before he took over for Bledsoe in 2006 in the seventh game of the season and has gone 27-12. And the Cowboys of 2009 certainly wouldn't be looked at as a team that came from nowhere to go on a playoff run. People are quick to base something off of the year before when it comes to negativity without remembering the facts and circumstances of why this highly touted bunch only went 9-7 and missed the playoffs. I mean there were probably FIVE games last year that the Cowboys should have won but didn't and that's just how the ball bounces. Then there is the coaching thing. Who is to say that Wade Phillips doesn't finally have his day? People said the same thing about Tom Coughlin. About Doc Rivers. About Joe Torre. People want to bash Norv Turner but he's gotten the Chargers further into the playoffs than anyone else ever did since that time that they were the sacrificial lambs to the Niners under Bobby Ross in 1994. (The REAL Super Bowl that year was the NFC Championship between the Niners and Cowboys) And Jimmy Johnson was the genius who became the first head coach to ever win a NCAA Championship and the Super Bowl, which he did back to back and who knows how many more he would' ve in Dallas had he stayed. And then he didn't taste really any more playoff suceess in Miami then say Wade Phillips has to this point. Three more months until football and not a moment too soon. And no reading into any so-called power poll rankings because they are a load of crap as I've mentioned earlier. There really ought to still be a nasty taste in the mouths of the Cowboys lingering from that ultimate no show in the last game against Philly.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Can this finally be the year?

Well, it looked like 2007 would be the year that the Cowboys would at least get to the Super Bowl. They were unquestionably the best team in the NFC that year, having bested the Packers in that November showdown(both teams came into the game at 10-1) and taken care of the Giants twice. (the Giants were really not even considered a darkhorse despite making it in as a wildcard) And then we know what happened next ofcourse.

And then 2008 was REALLY supposed to be it but the problem was that they probably believed it too much. So the year turned out to be injury plagued, inconsistent, sloppy play, and a very dissappointing end. Humbling. And they felt the need to let T.O. go. Is that addition by subtraction? Is Roy Williams the Number One guy? Can the running game stay healthy and be the potential lethal trio? Will the defense indeed be deep due to lots of experience now from the younger guys that got forced into playing in '08? Is Tony Romo finally going to take that next step? Will Wade Phillips finally taste success in the postseason?

Not much has been said except from DE Jay Ratliff, who recently said that there are tighter rules now, and that everyone, in order to be a TEAM, has to one by one, check their egos at the door.

It's clear that this team is overdue. And it's also possible for someone to go 16-0 in the regular season and still biff it in their first playoff game. But the regular season is what comes first and putting yourself in position to at least have the homefield advantage. And THEN worry about the playoffs. There will be no playoff success if you don't even get there in the first place. Nothing is a given in this league. The Dallas Cowboys should have as much say in the big picture as anyone. I myself have been optimistic about it being a question of when rather than if.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Looking forward

Clearly the Cowboys are better than last year's 9-7 will attest. But they certainly won't be the NFC Consensus to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl not based on last year's dissappointment but probably because it's simply a level playing field. That said, the opportunity window is still there. And will continue to be. My prediction is that the Giants take a step back this year in the standings, the Redskins continue to hover around .500 while the Cowboys main threat is the Eagles. That's what I predict this year. On the surface it doesn't look like much has been done thus far to improve the team. No doubt that there is a lot of talent on the team and what seems to be believed within the organization is that they will be able to harness it more without T.O. It's unfortunate that he had to go but it looks as though he had to go. A combination of inner turmoil and the fact that he may finally be starting to show some age. (He will turn 36 on Dec. 7 of this football year) Is Roy Williams the guy at the number one slot? They think so apparently. Will Crayton be as affective back at the number two as he was in '07? He's just turning 30. The offensive line being smart and healthy along with a healthy three man-running back tandem of Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Taschard Choice is vital. And Witten and Bennett at the Tight Ends. Witten was beat up much of '08 and hardly missed any time. He's the best in the business. Especially if he's healthy. There's talk about using Bennett in the wideout sets and two tight end sets. And ofcourse there's Romo. He's unflappable and fearless. He just needs to take a sack or throw it away instead of throwing an INT in those rare instances that he's in trying to improvise and everyone's blanketed. The depth at WR includes the return of Sam Hurd and a healthy Miles Austin. The defensive secondary is expected to be solid for sure with the developement of a lot of guys getting playing time last year when injuries forced them into action. There's still a long summer left ahead between now and then. Plus there are probably a few acquistions to be made too. It would be nice to bring in a Julius Peppers on defense to bolster the front line as well as maybe some more depth at the offensive line. One thing that will help is the drafting of USC kicker David Beuller to be the kickoff specialist while steady Nick Folk(over 88% FGs made) will continue to handle FG duties. Definitely not what's broken. But Folk hasn't been very deep on the kickoffs. Team Game. The Dallas Cowboys, if they play as a team, could seriously be the best considering their top notch talent level. The biggest question marks will be Roy Williams being a number one slot receiver, the offensive line, and Tony Romo, the QB, the leader. I think this is a 12 or 13 win club if they stay healthy. In 2008, they were anything but.