Sunday, March 6, 2011

The upcoming season for the Cowboys and one more final lookback

Well it's on to 2011 for the Dallas Cowboys. There is absolutely no question that they can beat any team in the league. Judging by the pattern of the last several years, I'd say that 2011 is a year to look forward to and 2012 might not be(LOL) The odd years have been better than the even years of the past eight years. But enough of that. The Cowboys had a disappointing campaign in 2010. VERY DISAPPOINTING. What many people don't realize is that they didn't have a good training camp. They were traveling around and not in their normal place at any time long enough to get in any kind of sync. There were injuries on both sides of the ball even at the start of the season. Then the season starts and it's penalties galore. And yes, there were some very horrible calls that went against them early on as well. Penalties, turnovers(the team was minus 9 in turnovers in the first half of the year, which produced a 1-7 start and the firing of Wade Phillips. By that point the team had quit on him and Romo was done for the year. And there were plenty of other injuries on both sides of the ball the whole year. But in the second half of the year after Garrett took over, the defense still surrendered points and yards in bunches but they forced turnovers while the offense quit giving it away and scaled way back on the penalties. A 5-3 second half that was only seven TOTAL points from being 8-0. Absolutely should have been at least a 7-1 second half. But it won Jason Garrett the official Head Coaching gig and the removal of the interim tag. This team has to get more depth on the offensive line(so that the running game can return to form) And the defense was a big disappointment with only DeMarcus Ware performing at his normal level. The secondary had been lights out in 09 but was lit up like highway flares in 2010. Again, injuries, the lack of depth there along with underachieving Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer on the D-Line contributed to the defense giving up a dreadful 436 points (compared to 250 in 09). The offense, thanks mainly to their second half surge(avg 30 pts a game) actually scored more points in 2010(394) than in 2009(361). The 2009 offense had mainly been about being explosive but more of a control the game type. In 2011, they can be both more explosive and control the game. But again, they need to avoid turnovers and keep the penalties down like they did in the second half of 2010. If the defense improves at all, this team could easily jump back to the 12 win area and contending for a the top seed in the conference. Offensive line improvement to get the running game back up to it's capabilities along with an improvement in the secondary, which will in turn restore the pass rush. This team was not ahead half as much either in 2010 as they were in 2009, so the defense wasn't nearly as effective playing without a lead as they were with one. One final stat: Aside from the two lopsided losses at midseason that basically said that the team had quit on Wade Phlllips(35-17 to Jacksonville AT HOME. and the 45-7 no show against Green Bay) the other 8 losses were by a TOTAL of 36 pts(avg margin 4.5 pts a game)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Jason Garrett is the new head coach in Big D

Well, he had a lot of cards stacked against him when he took over the badly underachieving team at midseason. That's putting it lightly. The Dallas Cowboys were 1-7!!!!!!! Should'nt they have been 7-1 or at least 6-2? Probably. But each week losing became contagious. When they came off of their bye week and lost to Tennessee, there really were just no more excuses. That game was the beginning of the end of the Wade Phillips regime. The countdown and discussion had officially begun. There were games lost that a year ago they don't lose. That Tennessee game was nothing but mistakes, penalties, and disciplinary issues. Everything they could possibly DO to beat themselves. Yet until Romo went down a couple of weeks later on a Monday Night against the Giants, it looked like a they could still turn things around. They were doing all of these things, finding ways to lose, ways that you weren't sure were possible even, and they were losing only by a touchdown or less. But Romo then went down. The six point loss to the Giants felt more like 26. And then it would get worse before it got better. The losses to Jacksonville and Green Bay were by a combined score of 80-24. Cowboys sank to 1-7 and it was Bye Bye Wade. Unfortunate because he was a nice guy and the Cowboys had been 33-15 in his 3 full seasons as coach before that unsightly first half of 2010 that got him whacked. He appeared incapable of rallying the troops. Enter Jason Garrett, the team's offensive coordinator for 4 seasons and one of the league's highest if not THE highest paid assistant coach. He comes in and does the Giants in the Meadowlands. And he proceeds to go 5-3 in the second half. He has no Romo and several others are banged up or out. And he misses going 8-0 by 7 total points. The team's turnover ratio went from -9 in the first half of the season to +9 (even though the depleted defense continued to surrender points in bunches) The offense went from averaging just over 20 pts a game to nearly 30. And to think what he'll do next year when Dez Bryant and Tony Romo come back healthy. The big upgrade and improving area is the defense, which came into this year highly touted. After all in 2009, that same defense had held the Eagles to 30 TOTAL points in three wins against them, including that playoff game. Garrett brings discipline, accountability, and passion to this team, as they look to rebound in 2011. Many speculate that Jerry Jones didn't check out the coaching candidates out there more. But Garrett's second half of the season at the helm spoke loud volumes. He's been with the organization for the better part of almost 20 years and judging by what he's said and how he's carried himself so far, that it's his dream job. And he has inherited a talented roster. The offseason has begun in Dallas. It will be a time to heal and look forward with plenty of realistic optimism.

Monday, January 3, 2011

It didn't happen this year obviously

It had been THREE whole months since my last post on my beloved Dallas Cowboys that I'd forgotten my password. Yeah, that gives you a pretty good, clear idea or indication on how the roof fell in and quickly on my team. Once again, in an even year, the Cowboys fell off of the mountain in what was supposed to be regarded as THE year.(We thought that 2008 was bad) We found out that while this is a very talented team, injuries can quickly destroy a season before it really even begins. There just isn't that fine of a line between winning and losing so critical turnovers and silly untimely mistakes can also spell the difference between what would have been a W that becomes instead a dismaying, disheartening loss. The 2009 season and end result was enough to win Wade Phillips a stay of execution. He wound up being what we THOUGHT he would be if the 2010 season was anything less than 2009: FIRED. Only it was SO bad, the beginning that it happened midseason. I'll back up to the very beginning. A mistake-penalty filled 13-7 loss to the division rival and recently hapless Washington Redskins. The game-winning touchdown pass to Roy Williams as time expired was nullified by a holding penalty on a backup on the O-Line. Then losing their home opener to the Bears(who hadn't been any good for a few years) was up next. More penalties and the defense gave up critical big plays. The defense, which had allowed the second fewest points in 09, would up falling WAY off in 2010. After seemingly regrouping to wax the previously unbeaten Texans down in Houston, the Cowboys had an early bye week. Certainly things were back in order. The Tennessee Titans were up next at home. But a mixture of events happened much like the first two losses. It was a 34-27 loss and certainly a big determining factor on how the rest of the year was going to play out. It was a game that the Cowboys absolutely, without question, should have won. But as it turned out, it wasn't just that simple. Had they come out and taken care of business like the should have and won, perhaps we're looking at something different entirely. Next up, another blown game up Minnesota to a suddenly mortal 41 year old Brett Favre and the equally dissappointing Vikings. At 1-4, the New York Giants were coming to town. THIS was the game in which the Cowboys were going to finally right the ship once and for all or else, 2010 was to be an OH WELL WAIT 'TILL NEXT YEAR song. It started off well as the Cowboys got up 20-7 with the aid of two intereceptions of Eli Manning and rookie sensation WR/Kick returner Dez Bryants 89 yard punt return for a touchdown. Then Romo dropped back and completed a pass and got drilled in the upper chest area by an unblocked(a blown assignment on a rookie fullback)Giant linebacker (Michael Boley) and he was down and out with a broken collarbone. The Giants roared back against a suddenly passive defense. Backup Jon Kitna, rusty for the two quarters which saw the Giants take control of the game with 31 unanswered points, led a rally that fell short as the Cowboys sank to 1-5 on the year in the 41-35 loss. The Cowboys lost more than the game though. Romo was done for the year as it would turn out. He was able to play in December but it was pointless with the Cowboys playoff hopes out of reach by then. The next two weeks following the Monday night Oct. 25 loss to the Giants and the loss of Romo, saw two absolutely miserable showings that gave Owner/GM Jerry Jones absolutely NO choice but to let Wade Phillips go. Another embarrassing home loss to an average Jacksonville Jaguars team and the plain WE QUIT ON WADE FORFEIT up at Green Bay which made the firing an absolute NO OTHER CHOICE. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, Troy Aikman's backup in the 1990's, was promoted to be the interim head coach.

At 1-7, the Cowboys still had another half of a football season left to play. Garrett took over with a 38 year old backup quarterback and the team all of a sudden started to show up on the field again. In his debut, Garrett let the Cowboys up to the Meadowlands and knocked off the Giants 33-20, exacting a measure of revenge for what had happened earlier. The Giants had been 6-2 and flying high heading into that contest. Garrett put an emphasis back into mixing it up on offense with more running and screen passes. The defense also forced 3 turnovers. Then came incredible as it was and sounded, their FIRST home win of the season, in a 35-19 win over the Detroit Lions. The Cowboys would go on to win 5 of their 8 second half games. Wins over the Colts, Redskins and Eagles to go along with the wins over the Giants and Lions. Their three losses(the Saints on Thanksgiving, the Eagles in their other game, and a loss to the Cardinals on Christmas Night) were by a COMBINED 7 points. Seven points from going 8-0 in the second half of the season for Jason Garrett. This was despite losing Kitna, Dez Bryant, and LB Marcus Spears along the way for the season as well. The Cowboys beat the Eagles in the regular season finale with their third string QB Stephen McGee. Well a disappointing year in 2010? Definitely overall. Especially considering that the Super Bowl is going to be played in Big D and that sparking Cowboys'Stadium in about a month. But are things looking up? Certainly. I have maintained that the Tony Romo led Cowboys would have turned things around had he not gone down for the season. But Wade Phillips being canned? Would that not have happened? It seemed like the team quitting on him was the bigger issue. The defense, very dominant a year ago, surrendered the second MOST points this year after allowing the second fewest the previous year, as I mentioned before. They seemingly played hurt all year, except maybe for DeMarcus Ware. But obviously, the Cowboys look to improve on that. Romo will be back ofcourse next year but a couple of others on offense may not. Roy Williams and Marion Barber are names that are being mentioned as being on that possible casualty list. The running game could very well be potent with Choice and Felix Jones. Gronkowski, who missed that blocking assignment that nearly got Romo killed, would need to develope more as fullback, especially catching and blocking. Columbo is another possible casualty on the offensive line. Austin, Witten, and Dez Bryant will only get better. I would say that the Place kicker shouldn't be David Bueller.. He was too inconsistent. He's like the Raiders Sebastian Janakowski. He can nail a 55 yarder and miss a PAT in the same game like he did in the one point loss to Arizona.

I won't speculate anymore on the roster. I DO think that Jason Garrett did enough to be the Head man. 5-3 record, that easily could have been 8-0 in the second half of a season where the wheels had come off in the first half. He knows the organization, the players, and he brings the energy, passion, and discipline as seen so far. It was a dissappointing year in Dallas in 2010. But sometimes it happens to good teams. And sometimes it's necessary to take a step back sometimes before putting a best foot forward.