Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yes, it was preseason, but gotta do better than that

The Cowboys won the meaningless preseason game last Saturday against San Diego, 16-14 thanks to a once in a Blue Moon or Haley's Comet game-winning safety. But what I'm pointing to is the first team offense stinking out the joint in the first half. Ofcourse I must mention in their defense, that they only had the ball for about six and a half minutes of the entire first thirty minutes. San Diego had two turnovers that killed lengthy drives(the Cowboys committed one) in the first half, where it was starters versus starters for the most part. The stats were super lopsided. Time of Possession: Chargers 23:30, Cowboys 6:30. First Downs: Chargers 14-3. Total Yards 205-49 in favor of the Chargers. Halftime score: 7-7. Huh?(if you're a Charger fan at least) Romo was 4-11 for like 29 yards including the tying TD throw of 8 yards to Miles Austin with just over 2 minutes remaining in the half. That play ended the (very offensive) night for the first team offense. That play was also set up by the Bradie James fumble recovery of 80 yards. How do you get dominated like that and are even in the game let alone tied? Oh well, that's enough of that. It was a preseason game. A game that was tied 14 all for most of the fourth quarter before the game winning safety( A quarterback sack and fumble recovered in the Charger end zone by an offensive lineman) In preseason, I'd rather lose than go to overtime. It looked as thouigh neither team wanted to win and that it WAS headed for overtime. Whew! Anyways, the Cowboys have two more preseason games to get ready for the opener. My gut feeling is that the defense at least, will be ready to rumble come opening night. The offense? You know once they ARE in sync, they'll be hard to contain. You've got to hope that they are on track to start out but hopefully the defense is for sure rough and ready. Last year, the offense came out winging, but it took the defense a few games to find their niche. As a result, the Cowboys dropped a couple that they probably should've had(one of them certainly should've been won) in a 2-2 start. They would go on to win eleven games, the division, and a playoff game. But this year, Cowboy Nation expects bigger and better things. The opening three games before receiving an early bye week in week 4 reads: At Washington, Home to Chicago, and at Houston. The Cowboys on paper should be 3-0 to start. We'll ask the question "are they having their bye too early?" a little bit later on. The Cowboys will hopefully have the cobwebs cleared in the opener. I can see that game being a defensive struggle at least in the first half. On paper, the Cowboys are better. But games aren't won without being played. The Cowboys are better than the Redskins. Better than the Giants. Better than the Bears. But they need to play better than them when they meet. It's that simple.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Opening up against the Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys open up the new 2010 regular season against a familiar foe. It has the feeling of one of the Monday night openers against their division rival Redskins. For Sunday Night Football in America is the NEW Monday Night Football it seems. Especially with the voice of Al Michaels. But Monday Night stilll exists, only it's on ESPN instead of ABC. Sunday Night Football in America is on NBC. And ever since the NBC's deal, the Cowboys have done exceptionally well when showcased on that stage. 10-2 is their record so far. Should be 11-1 but that's already been covered. And for the 7th time in 10 years, they open up on the road. The Redskins are a vastly improved team on offense; they already have a good defense so they should present quite a challenge. I will make a prediction right now that the Washington Redskins look to me like the main challenge for the Cowboys this year with the addition of Donovan McNabb at QB and new head coach Mike Shanahan. The Cowboys are almost if not the unanimous favorites to win the division and the consensus pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl in BIG D come this next February.

These two have opened up a number of times against each other. And to my best knowledge, the Cowboys have won all except for one. I have to think here as I go back to the openers between the Cowboys and Redskins. In 1980, Danny White debuted as the new starting QB after Staubach's retirement. That was a 17-3 Cowboys win at RFK. A year later, new Redskin coach Joe Gibbs lost his debut against the Cowboys 26-10 at RFK. In 1983, again at RFK, the Redskins were defending Super Bowl Champs, and they were dominating the game when the Cowboys rallied to win by a point(31-30) In 1985, the Cowboys and Redskins kicked off on a Monday Night in Texas Stadium. On Joe Theismann's 36th birthday, he was intercepted 5 times in a 44-14 Dallas win. It would be 7 years before the two teams would open up together. In 1992, the Redskins came into Dallas as defending Super Bowl Champs again(their last title to date) and their QB Mark Rypien was safety blitzed on the first play of the game. They Cowboys shut down the vaunted Redskin offense in a 23-10 win. The Cowboys would win their first of three Super Bowls in the next four years that season. In 1993, Emmitt Smith was holding out for a new contract(he held out the first two games, and Dallas started 0-2 before he got his new deal) so he was not with the team as they went to RFK for the opener against Washington on a Monday Night. The Cowboys looked like a distracted team not ready to go, as the Redskins romped 35-16. You wouldn't know it that night but the Cowboys would rally to go 12-4, win the division and repeat as Super Bowl Champs. Meanwhile the roof fell in on the Redskins, who were without Joe Gibss on the sideline for the first time in 12 years. They would sink to 4-12, last in the division, and only make the playoffs 3 times in the next 17 years, bringing us to the present day. And the only time since then that these two have opened up was in 1999. That was when Dan Snyder debuted as the new Redskin owner. The Cowboys rallied from being down 35-14 in the fourth quarter at Fed EX field(current Redskin home) to force overtime. Then in the overtime, after the Cowboys defense forced the Redskins to go three and out, Troy Aikman(on 3rd down) play action faked to Emmitt Smith and unleashed a 76 yard bomb to a wide open Rahib (Rocket) Ismail, who caught the ball some 10 yards behind the secondary and was gone for the dramatic 41-35 win. So in season openers to my knowledge, the Cowboys have 6-1 record against their DC rivals. It should set the stage for a really good one this time on September 13. The most memorable one to me in openers is a tough one. I still have to lean towards the 1983 opener. This game, nothing, and I mean NOTHING was going right for Dallas. The first half was dominated by the Redskins. Danny White was 1-10 for 10 yards. It was 23-3 at the half and it could have very easily been worse. In the second half, I'm suprised(as a 12 year old at the time) that I tuned in. Probably just to see if anything drastic could happen right away because that's about the only way it was possible for the Cowboys to get back in it, have a chance. Well on about the fifth play after receiving the second half kickoff, White dropped back under great pass protection and threw long over the middle to Tony Hill. Hill caught the ball in stride and outran Redskin cornerback Vernon Dean into the End Zone to complete the 75 yard TD strike. The Redskins got the ball, made a couple of first downs before the Cowboys defense stiffened, forcing a punt. Then from about midfield, White, again with great pass protection, dropped back and launched a strike down the near sideline to Hill again. Hill caught the ball with one hand with another Redskin defender Anthony Washington running stride for stide. The defender fell down as Hill stepped into the end zone. All of a sudden the Cowboys were back to within 23-17. Two big plays just like that. Exactly what needed to happen. Otherwise, they aren't coming back to win that game. The score stayed that way until late in the fourth quarter when Danny White led the team down the field for the go ahead score. White converted a daring 4th and one play in the process on a quarterback sneak. Tony Dorsett's 18 yard draw play set the Cowboys up for a first and goal. And just before the two-minute warning, White bootlegged to the right corner of the end zone being chased by Redskin LB Rich Milot. Then the defense intercepted Theismann to set up an insurance TD. It was a dramatic win. And the one that stands out for me the most in this entire rivalry that I've followed.

This coming opener between the two has Donovan McNabb (in a rare trade within the division) as the Redskins new QB. Certainly the best Redskin QB since Brad Johnson at least if not maybe Mark Rypien. ( The Mark Rypien of the Joe Gibbs era that is) I think that the Redskins and Philly will trade places from last year. Or at least it makes the Redskins probably better than Philly if not better than the Giants too. It should be interesting. It can't get here soon enough that's for sure. I will be taking the game in at our unofficial time share spot in St. George(Utah)