Cowboys Face Defining Moment in Eagles Game

For the third consecutive year, the Dallas Cowboys find themselves facing a dreaded “play in game”. Let’s face it, these haven’t gone well for Dallas in recent years and they face added adversity especially at the quarterback position, going into this showdown with the Eagles.

Tony Romo, who hasn’t performed well in these type games anyway, has a major back injury.
Orton is an experienced but unproven backup and out of desperation the Cowboys signed former backup Kitna who is a math teacher currently. I’m reminded of a scene from the Blues Brothers movie:

Elwood: “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark…..and we’re wearing sunglasses.”
Jake: Hit it.

In a way the Cowboys are on a mission from God in a quest to finish with a winning record and make the playoffs for the first time in years. Losing this game means finishing 8-8 again and missing the playoffs …again. It’s almost unthinkable. Another offseason of Jerry Jones telling us the Cowboys are pretty close to “Super Bowl ready” and coaching changes that never pan out the way they were intended.

While it may seem like the same scenario as the previous two years, it feels different this time. The NFC east was as winnable this year as we have seen in a long time. The Redskins were awful, the Giants down this year, and then the Eagles with their new coach Chip Kelly from the college ranks. It was there on a silver platter for Dallas to take but they found themselves in a must win game last week and again this week. Fighting for survival.

This time Dallas faces a clearly defined crossroad for the organization. They either get over the hump and build a team that can contend or they lose and have to hit the reset button and just start over. They turn the corner or crash and burn. I can’t see much in between.

In my Blues Brother analogy, Elwood points out all the adversity that makes their mission not likely to succeed. For Dallas it’s easy to list many reasons why their mission will likely fail Sunday night. There is the defense that has allowed tons of yardage and points this season and the Eagles offense coming in after scoring more than 50 last week against the Bears. Then the whole shaky QB situation with Orton on a big stage and the coaches hoping they don’t have to put the math teacher in.

I could go on about all the injuries but it’s too easy to focus on the obvious reasons why the underdog Dallas will probably finish 8-8 yet again. Instead like Jake who focuses on the mission and simply tells Elwood to “hit it”, Dallas can’t fail. They must find and create a way to win by coming up with a turnover or two, getting a timely sack, and giving the ball to Murray to help their QB.

This is not the time to focus on why this mission is likely to fail. On Sunday night it’s just time to hit it and accomplish the mission one way or another.

Advertisements

Cowboys Top Of NFC East: Young Defensive Line Steps Up

George Selvie introduces himself to Foles.

George Selvie introduces himself to Foles.


Both the Cowboys and Eagles came into this game scoring about 30 points a game and with pass defenses that allowed opposing QBs record breaking games. So this one had to become a shootout right? Actually this game turned into a lot of punts and a defensive battle. Go figure.

Early in the season, Dallas found out they would not have their last year pro bowler and franchise tagged DE, Athony Spencer. If that wasn’t enough, they found out this week they would play the Eagles without their best defensive lineman DeMarus Ware due to injury. And this week Jerry Jones finally gave up on that hot mess Jay Ratliff by cutting the problem defensive tackle. Oh and Edgar Jones who Dallas brought in from KC to help provide depth at DE, was out with an injury too.

To say the least, it was gut check time for the Cowboys young, inexperienced, and no name defensive front. I doubt many fans have been spotted walking around ATT&T stadium with “Selvie” or “Wynn” jerseys. When I saw the name Wynn involved in a sack today, my reaction was “who”?

In desperation, the Cowboys also pulled up DE Jason Vega from the practice squad to help provide depth. Nick Hayden is another no name guy that Dallas turned to for a DT this year. And Drake Nevis has stepped up at DT too providing a lot of energy to that front line.

Know any of these names before the season? Probably not, but if they keep playing like they did in this NFC East showdown today, these names will soon become common names among Cowboy fans.

Jarius Jessereel Wynn was just signed by Dallas on Tuesday from the Chargers. How could he even learn the scheme or plays that quickly? Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli must have told him to just line up and go get Foles. Because that’s exactly what he did by knocking Foles out of the game with a sack in the 2nd half.

In the off season, I thought the addition of coach Rod Marinelli was a huge pick up for Dallas and I’m even more convinced now that he was a tremendous hire. He has done an outstanding job of getting the most from the guys he has to play with.

Selvie had one solo sack and also was involved on the sack with Wynn, that made Foles head for the locker room early. Hatcher had a solo sack and hurried rookie QB Barkley who came in for Foles, resulting in an interception for Lee.

What we saw today was that Dallas can win without Spencer, Ratliff and the aging Ware, on the defensive front. It has been over due for Dallas to get younger on the defensive line and all these things forced that to happen this week. It was kind of like the first day of a new defense today. Letting go of the past players and reaching for the future. And the results were pretty darn good too.

If not for an INT by Romo, this defense was pitching a shut out today against an offense that can be a hand full. Some sceptics will point out the Eagles didn’t have Vick today but they had McCoy and last week Foles was NFC player of the week as their QB.

Today this “no name” defense played as a unit and got after it and put the Cowboys all alone in first place in the NFC East.

Cowboys @ Eagles Analysis: Stick a Fork in The Loser of This One

Eagle fans notorious for once booing Santa are now booing Andy Reid and Vick.

The Cowboys play their NFC foe Eagles Sunday and both teams come into this one with a 3-5 record that reflects the kind of season they have had so far. Similarities between these under achievers are easy to identify and a lot is at stake. Neither team can afford to be 3-6 after the game and have any hope of playing in the post season. This is the kind of game that can cause coaches and/or QBs to lose their jobs.

Eagles coach Andy Reid has been under fire lately and so has Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. QBs Michael Vick and Tony Romo haven’t exactly played without criticism this year either. They have not had good seasons to say the least. This game could be a turning point where one team starts going up and the other well, crashes and burns in 2012.

Both QBs Believe it is Better to Give than to Receive:

Both teams, led by poor QB play, have turned the ball over much more often than taking it away.  These two teams are at the bottom of the NFL in the give away/take away category with a -11 differential for Dallas and a -9 for the Eagles. Romo leads the NFC in INTs with 13 while Philly leads the NFC with 10 fumbles.

My Take: So far the Cowboys defense has not created turnovers. If they can’t come up with a few against this Eagles team, then it’s pretty much hopeless. Not going to get a much better chance to take the ball away. On the other hand, Romo must make sure he protects the ball. Last week Romo had no INTs against the Falcons which means he is due this week to throw about 4 or so. It’s been that kind of season. Which ever QB gives the ball away the most, loses.

QB Michael Vick Human Tackling Dummy:

Coming into the 2012 season the Cowboys offensive line was called out as the weak spot of the team. So far, while not perfect, they have been better than expected.  Vick has been playing behind an offensive line that has allowed him to be sacked 27 times which ranks 29 in the NFL.  Monday night Vick was sacked 7 times by the Saints which is not exactly the best defense in the NFL.

In comparison, Romo has been sacked 14 times which is in the top 10 in the NFL.

Dallas defense has 16 sacks while surprisingly the Eagles defense has only 11 sacks this year. That’s the lowest number in the NFC and only ahead of the Jaguars in the entire NFL. Looking at their personnel up front, that is really under achieving.

My Take: So far the Cowboys defense has not gotten a lot of sacks. This Eagles team will offer about as good of a chance to get some sacks as they will get. If they can’t get a few sacks on Sunday, then it’s pretty much hopeless. I think the Cowboys can pressure Vick relentlessly Sunday.  If Dallas gets at least 4 sacks, they win.

These 2 offenses couldn’t score in a women’s prison with a carton of Marlboros:

The Cowboys average 18 points a game while the Eagles offense has averaged 16 points a game. Both are near the bottom in the NFL in scoring for a variety of reasons. Strangely, both teams have moved the ball well but haven’t converted that into points. The high number of turnovers has contributed to that tendency. It’s not like the teams don’t have weapons because both have good WRs and RBs. My Take: First team to score 20 points wins.

Ground Game? Eagles have one and Cowboys don’t:

In the absence of RB DeMarco Murray, the Cowboys have really struggled to run the ball. The Eagles are in the top 10 in rushing yards led by “Shady” LeSean McCoy who has 623 yards and 2 TDs in 2012. The Cowboys defense has been pretty solid against the run except late in the games when it matters most (sorry, still not over Falcons loss).

My Take: Cowboys will need to run the ball at least 20 times to win the game ( I say this every week, and they don’t do it, and they don’t win) If “Shady” gets more than 100 yards rushing for the Eagles, I don’t like the Cowboys chances of winning. That will make things easier on Vick who the Cowboys need to pressure.  

Home field advantage? Cowboys feel about as welcomed in Philly as Santa Claus.

In the words of Rodney Dangerfield, “tough crowd” would be the way to describe Eagles fans who booed and pelted Santa at a game with snowballs. Now dissin’ Santa ain’t right. This is the crowd that cheered when Michael “playmaker” Irvin had a career ending knee injury. It’s been a tough place for Dallas to pick up a win in the past. Eagles always get up for the Dallas game.

My Take: Get ahead early and try to take the home crowd out of it. If Cowboys fall behind by more than 10 points at any time in this game, they lose.

Predictions?

  • Cowboys win on last second FG (16 to 13)
  • The fat guy with a beard gets booed and pelted with snowballs. No not Santa, Coach Andy Reid.
  • Vick gets benched and pelted with snowballs for fumbling. Vick throws snowballs back at fans but of course over throws them.
  • Jerry Jones tells us what a genius GM he is for hiring Jason Garrett. And declares team headed to super bowl.

Looks Like Dion Lewis and Dez Bryant Won’t be Charged

With the offseason NFL crime spree, we could sure use a little good news. It appears Dion Lewis of the Philadelphia Eagles and Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys escaped charges this time at least. In light of recent events, that’s considered good news.

Lack of evidence for Lewis:

Lewis was the one with the embarrassing incident at a NY Hampton Inn when he and his brother returned from a night of partying in the early morning hours and were locked out. Desperate to get in, they came up with an effective but as drunk guys tend to do, an ill-advised solution by pulling the fire alarm. But today the DA said “no evidence a fire alarm was ever pulled.” HERE

My Take: “I got two Eagles tickets that says my client didn’t pull that alarm.”

Really DA? No evidence the alarm was pulled?  You have two guys out drinking all night standing out front of a hotel because they are locked out. They are desperate to get in and the fire alarm went off. I would say you have your “smoking gun” right there. No security cameras anywhere outside to show it getting pulled? Kind of hard to believe.

Anyway, Lewis pretty much confessed to it when after the incident he released an apology, “I want to apologize to my family, the Albany community, the Eagles organization and fans, and to the NFL for my involvement in an incident this past weekend. It was never my intention to cause any public alarm or damage any property. I am sorry for any embarrassment and inconvenience that my actions have caused. I am committed to continuing to conduct myself in conformance with the high moral, ethical and professional standards that I have my entire life and of which so many others rightly expect of me.”

Was he apologizing for not pulling the alarm??

Please understand it’s not that I want to see Lewis convicted of a crime that seems high schoolish compared to other incidents involving NFL players recently but something sort of smells here. All I can say is enjoy those Eagles tickets Mr. DA….

Mom chooses to not press charges:

Dez Bryant of the Cowboys was arrested for a more serious incident when his mother said he hit her. She decided to not press charges on Dez.

MY TAKE: “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

I’m not shocked by this turn of events in the least. While it’s unclear exactly what happened between Dez and his mom, it certainly has made Dez look bad. It’s safe to say Dez is the meal ticket in the family and damaging his NFL career wouldn’t be of any benefit to his mom at all. Only make her life worse. She may be coming to that unfortunate realization.

Let’s hope that Dez learns from it and seeks the help he needs while mending his relationship with his mom.

NFL Veterans Need a Symposium? 10 Offseason Arrests and Counting. Updated Daily with arrest!

The number of NFL players arrested in the offseason is not an easy number to keep up with. It’s getting so bad that the NFL Network needs to add “America’s Most Wanted” to its channel’s programing. The most recent arrest was Philadelphia Eagles RB Dion Lewis for falsely setting off fire alarms at a Hampton Inn at 4 AM Saturday. Reports indicate he and his brother were drunk at the time. (you think??)

Dion please. A Hampton Inn? Really? Come on man, you’re pulling enough coin to stay at a 4 star hotel with a lounge, you know like a true baller would. No wonder you and your home boy came back from the clubs empty handed. You got no game. Just saying.

Dion, maybe you can hook up with former NBA player Chucky Brown and go to a Red Lobster sometime. Referencing Jim Rome interview:

Rome’s first television show The Last Word, Rome interviewed former NBA player Chucky Brown, also a former CBA player, on the differences between the NBA and CBA. Brown would often say that players got very little meal money in the CBA and would often eat at fast food restaurants, while in the NBA players could afford to “go to Red Lobster, get you a nice meal.” Then, Isiah Thomas came on the show, and following Rome’s greeting, Isiah said, “My pleasure. I just got back from Red Lobster.”

I mean if you’re going to get in trouble at least “go big or go home” like Pac Man Jones who admitted he “blew a $1 million one weekend”.  You know, make it rain or something. Getting caught pulling a fire alarm at a Hampton Inn ranks you right up there with a 15 year old High School marching band member on his first over night field trip.

Lewis arrest comes just after we watched the TMZ video of the Vikings Adrian Peterson resisting arrest while drunk. At least the cops managed to do what most NFL defenses haven’t been able to do, corral Peterson.

An NFL rookie symposium was conducted recently to warn rookies to stay out of trouble but based on this offseason, perhaps the veterans should have been invited too. Guess Michael Irvin  also needs to scare some of these veterans straight. I’m counting 10 players arrested so far but there could be more than that.

In fact, the Detroit Lions have had so many players arrested in the offseason they plan to change their team colors to orange so after they play on Sundays, they can wear their jerseys to go pick up trash on Monday. (rim shot, “be here till Friday be sure to tip your waitress!”)

Six Lions arrested so far in the offseason:  Update: 7/22 Berry of Lion arrested AGAIN- LIONS CUT BERRY UPDATE 7/15: Elvis Dummervil arrested

UPDATE 7/16: Cowboys DEZ arrested.   UPDATE: 7/17: Marshawn Lynch Arrested        UPDATE: 7/19: Rams Robert Quinn DWI

UPDATE 7/20  Titans Kenny Britt DUI   Update 7/22 Chiefs Donald Washington DUI  Update 7/23 Giants Diehl drunk driving

Lions arrested this offseason
Date Player Reason for arrest
Jan. 23 Johnny Culbreath Marijuana possession
Feb. 18 Mikel Leshoure Marijuana possession
March 12 Mikel Leshoure Marijuana possession
April 3 Nick Fairley Marijuana possession
May 27 Nick Fairley DUI, trying to elude police
June 23 Aaron Berry DUI, hit and run

If you’re Going to Play in the NFC East, Protect Your QB

Over the years in the NFL, the NFC East has established a reputation for having very good defensive lines and being very good at pressuring quarterbacks. Last year in 2011, 3 out of the top 5 NFC teams in sacks, were from the NFC East. RANK

The Eagles were tied for first in sacks with the Super Bowl Champ Giants at 3rd and the Cowboys 4th. Even the Redskins finished in the upper tier of the NFC coming in at 7th.

Individually, 3 out of the top 4 NFL pass rushers play on NFC East teams. Demarcus Ware (Dallas), Jason Babin (Phil.) and Jason Pierre-Paul (Giants) finished just behind Jared Allen of the Vikes.

A big part of the Giants success last year was their effective defensive line rotation which made life tough on opposing offensive lines. Must have seemed like a “Men in Black” movie with a constant bombardment of large, scary beast coming at you. And when the 4th quarter came around, a battle weary offensive line faced fresh beast coming at them.

The nightmare ended with the Giants as Super Bowl champs. Let’s face it, the formula works. In fact 4 out of the last 5 teams to win the super bowl finished in the top 3 teams in sacks.

If you are going to compete in the NFC East, your team better have a good offensive line. If not, it will be exposed.

And it’s not getting any easier next year: 

Eagles- The Eagles who had 50 sacks last year and finished tied for first in the entire NFL with the Vikings, added more talent on the defensive line as if they needed it. In the NFL draft, they traded up to select Fletcher Cox who arguably was the best defensive lineman available in the draft and then later picked DE Vinny Curry who appears to have excellent pass rushing potential. The rich get richer you could say.

Cowboys- Demarcus Ware carried the load for the Cowboys last season finishing second in the NFL in sacks. The Cowboys used their 3rd round pick (second selection in the draft) to take DE Tyrone Crawford. A promising pass rush talent that plays with a good motor. Expected to get into the Cowboys rotation next season.  While the Cowboys didn’t add much on the D-line in free agency, they have improved their secondary which may result in better QB pressure since the Cowboys blitz frequently in Coach Ryan’s scheme. At least that is the plan.

Having Your QBs Back:

Last year the Giants did the best job of protecting their QB in the NFC East allowing 28 sacks and 72 hits on QB. The Eagles were nearly as good at protection allowing 32 sacks and 72 hits on QB while the Cowboys and Redskins have the most improving to do. Dallas allowed 39 sacks and 89 hits on the QB and the Redskins allowed 41 sacks and an astounding 108 hits on their QBs.

By drafting RG3, the Redskins will have a QB with more “escapeability” so their numbers just may improve in those areas. However the less mobile QBs in the NFC East are going to have to rely on their O-lines to come through for them. The “Beasts in the East” refers to the defensive linemen that make life miserable for QBs.