now browsing by category
Jerry Jones didn’t have a great weekend. His Arkansas Razorbacks were worse than some Division 1-AA (or whatever they’re called now) schools in a 52-0 loss to Alabama on Saturday.
On Sunday, former Razorback Felix Jones returned the opening kickoff for the Dallas Cowboys against the Seattle Seahawks. He fumbled. Seattle recovered. Seattle kicked a field goal. Seattle didn’t trail again.
There was more fun on special teams. Jones returned the second kickoff 16 yards, and the Cowboys managed to gain five yards. On a punt attempt, Seattle’s Malcolm Smith raced up the left side of the Dallas line and managed to block Chris Jones’ punt. Jeron Johnson recovered the loose ball and scored, giving Seattle a 10-0 win.
I mean lead, not win. My apology.
The Cowboys moved the ball on its next drive only to have Romo throw an interception while trying to throw the ball across the field from his right to his left. Seattle couldn’t capitalize, and the Cowboys were able to move the ball on their next possession as well. Romo hit Miles Austin on a 22-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 10-7 with 12:09 left in the second quarter.
Dallas had momentum and managed to hold Seattle to a three-and-out. The game never got closer, though.
The Cowboys punted the ball right back to the Seahawks, who drove for a field goal. Dallas had a chance to drive for another score in the final two minutes. Felix took the Seattle kickoff eight yards deep and decided to run it out.
He made it to the 15. The Dallas drive stalled at the Seattle 40. Halftime score: 13-7.
Nobody has provided a good reason why Felix is still getting time on the field.
Anyway, former Arkansas Razorback Jimmy Johnson said the Cowboys were going to dominate the second half. I cannot think of any analogy that would express how wrong he was.
The Cowboys had the ball on four drives in the second half, and the team gained 81 yards. Meanwhile, Seattle and its rookie quarterback completely controlled the Dallas defense, which simply could not make stops when it needed to. Seattle had one 90-yard drive followed by an 88-yard drive to put the Cowboys out of their misery.
* * *
After last week, three teams in the NFC East were 1-0, and two of those teams were the Cowboys and Redskins. The third was an Eagles team that barely beat a bad Cleveland team.
At one point today, the Giants trailed Tampa Bay by a score of 27-13. The Eagles trailed Baltimore 23-17 in the fourth quarter.
Of course, the Giants and Eagles have had a bit more success than the Cowboys and Redskins in the past few years. And, of course, both figured out how to win those games.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys went through the motions in Seattle, while the Redskins lost a 21-6 lead to the hapless Rams on their way to a 31-28 loss.
Anyway, I suggested last week that this was definitely a new year. I meant that literally.
Robert Griffin III started the game against the Saints throwing a series of WR screens. Those screens became downfield throws soon enough, and he finished the game completing 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards with 2 TDs and no picks. That’s a passer rating of 139.9. Drew Brees only managed a passer rating of 70.9 in a 40-32 loss to Washington.
The other rookie is running back Alfred Morris, who was previously best known as a deep fantasy sleeper. He ran hard en route to a 96-yard, 2 TD game.
In Cleveland, the Eagles did not look good all game. Michael Vick threw four picks, and the Browns held a 16-10 lead in the fourth quarter. However, Vick managed to hit Clay Harbor with the game-winning touchdown with 1:18 remaining, giving the Eagles a 17-16 win.
That means that defending Super Bowl Champions are now the only 0-1 team in the NFC East. On top of that, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Chicago each had strong games, showing that the NFC as a whole looks awfully tough.
Tony Romo's QB rating vs. the Giants was 129.5. That is the 8th best game of his career in those terms. http://t.co/0be2YhO7
— kickholder (@kickholder) September 8, 2012
That ranks as his 8th best game in terms of passer rating. Here is a list of those 8 games.
148.9 (vs. Tampa Bay, 2006: 22-29, 306 Yds., 5 TD, 0 Int.)
148.4 (vs. Buffalo, 2011: 23-26, 270 Yds., 3 TD, 0 Int.)
141.7 (vs. Philadelphia, 2007: 20-25, 324 Yds., 3 TD, 1 Int.)
141.6 (vs. Atlanta, 2009: 21-29, 311 Yds., 3 TD, 0 Int.)
141.3 (vs. New York Giants, 2011: 21-31, 321 Yds., 4 TD, 0 Int.)
140.6 (vs. Tampa Bay, 2009: 16-27, 353 Yds., 3 TD, 0 Int.)
133.9 (vs. Tampa Bay, 2011: 23-30, 249 Yds., 3 TD, 0 Int.)
129.5 (vs. New York Giants, 2012: 22-29, 307 Yds., 3 TD, 1 Int.)
Interestingly, it is not his best game against the Giants in this regard. His performance on December 11, 2011 at home against New York was better on paper.
The difference: when the game was on the line against the Giants in 2011, Romo and Miles Austin could not hook up on a pass that would have put the game away.
On Wednesday, with the game on the line, Romo made a great throw to Kevin Ogletree on third down to secure the win.
This list gives us reason to look forward to September 23, when the Cowboys host Tampa Bay. In three starts against the Buccaneers, his total numbers have been 61 completions on 86 attempts for 908 yards with 11 TDs and 0 interceptions. That’s good enough for a three-game passer rating of 144.7.
Few teams in NFL history were as clueless about what to do with a lead than the 2011 Dallas Cowboys. This was the team that couldn’t hold a 24-10 lead over the Jets, a 27-3 lead over the Lions, or a 34-22 lead over the Giants. Making matters worse, the Cowboys had those leads in the fourth quarter.
There have been too many reminders of those failures during the long offseason. And with the Cowboys opening against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Wednesday, it looked as if Cowboys fans might have to endure some more pain. Few thought the Cowboys would win.
Then came the fourth quarter. Dallas led 17-10 heading into the quarter and still held that lead when the Cowboys got the ball with 13:03 left in the game. Tony Romo promptly led the team on a 12-play drive that ended when he hit Miles Austin on a 1st-and-30 play and Austin was able to split defenders on his way to a 34-yard touchdown.
Exciting, of course, but there was that reminder: Dallas held a 24-10 lead over the Giants, but nearly 6 minutes remained on the clock. Plenty of time for Eli and company.
Of course, it took Manning just over 3 minutes to cut the Dallas lead to 7. To make matters worse, former Cowboy Martellus Bennett caught the touchdown that cut into the Dallas lead.
The Cowboys had to kill 2:36 from the clock. The Giants had two timeouts. After two plays, there was yet another sign that this could be a frustrating ending. On 3rd and 2, it appeared that DeMarco Murray had run for a first down, which would have iced the game. However, referees called Jason Witten with a hold, moving the Cowboys back eight yards. Dallas had to convert a 3rd-and-10, or Eli would have yet another chance.
Then Romo threw a quick slant to Kevin Ogletree, who slid past defenders for a 13-yard gain. That ended the game.
This was the same Kevin Ogletree who had caught a total of 25 passes for 294 yards and no touchdowns in three seasons. On Wednesday night, he caught 8 passes for 114 yards with 2 TDs. We hope Laurent Robinson is happy in Jacksonville, because Ogletree looked better on Wednesday than Robinson looked last year.
On top of that, this defense seems to be for real. It was mildly exciting when the Cowboys only gave up a total of 12 first-half points in four preseason games. The team once again did not give up a touchdown in the first half on Wednesday, holding the Giants to a single field goal. That field goal came after the Cowboys defense kept the Giants out of the end zone following a Romo interception that Michael Boley returned inside the Dallas 3-yard line.
Romo made up for the pick, completing 22 of 29 passes for 307 yards with 3 TDs. Austin finished with 4 receptions for 73 yards and the score, while Dez Bryant had 4 catches for 85 yards.
Murray had a nice game, gaining 131 yards on the ground. His 48-yard run in the 3rd quarter helped to set up a Dan Bailey field goal.
On defense, Sean Lee continues to make a name for himself. He had 12 total tackles and forced a David Wilson fumble in the first quarter. Many expect Wilson to contribute heavily, but he had only 4 yards on 2 carries.
Meanwhile, Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz were targeted a total of 17 times combined but had only 10 receptions for 96 yard between them. Cruz also had two costly drops.
DeMarcus Ware made some history tonight by recording 2 sacks. That gives him 101.5 during his career, which is a franchise record (though only because sacks were not an official stat before 1983).
Two quick thoughts: (1) New Orleans was a good place for the Cowboys to visit following the 1971 and 1977 seasons, so there’s at least some history; and (2) who the hell is Jamison Hensley?
(Answer: ESPN’s AFC North blogger. I’m confident now.)
Anyway, several commentators have the Cowboys going 8-8 again, or perhaps going 9-7, or perhaps going 7-9. In a Morning News poll, 24.63% think Dallas will go 10-6, while 20.42% think that Dallas will go 9-7. The Morning News staff has the Cowboys starting at 3-1 only to finish at 9-7. Importantly, the staff thinks the Cowboys will be swept by both the Eagles and Giants. The only bold prediction by DMN with a positive spin is that the Cowboys will beat New Orleans in week 16.
Back to ESPN, most have picked either the Eagles or Giants to win the NFC East. However, at least Herm Edwards thinks that Dallas will grab one of the two wildcard spots.
Mel Kiper picked the Cowboys as a possible dark horse, though he wouldn’t use the label dark horse.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Bengals won 11 games. I could also see them winning five. They’re the team I can’t peg either way, which has been their history. The Cowboys aren’t much of a dark horse in that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them in the playoffs, but Dallas is an 11-win team if it can stay healthy in key spots.
The Cowboys have not made an official announcement about the final 53-man roster, but several reports have indicated which players have been or will be released.
The big news was the release of fifth-round pick Danny Coale, who some thought would play a Wes Welker-type of role on the team. Kevin Ogletree has probably won the third receiver job, and Cole Beasley has looked better this preseason than did Coale, who battled through some injuries. It looks as if Andre Holmes beat out Coale for the #6 receiver spot, which is why Coale is gone.
The other name was OLB Adrian Hamilton, who might make the practice squad if he clears waivers.
Some of the rest of the cuts are more up in the air.
If so, that means that the only player remaining from the 2009 draft will be tight end John Phillips and linebacker Victor Butler.
Awful, Jerry. Awful.
Phillip Tanner will make the squad at RB. Lance Dunbar had some impressive plays against Miami on Wednesday night. However, it looks as if Dunbar and Jamize Olawale will only make the practice squad, assuming they clear waivers.
Not quite as awful.
* * *
This is coming one night too late, but the Cowboys finished the regular season at 3-1 by beating the Dolphins 30-13 on Wednesday. The Cowboys only gave up two field goals in the first half, meaning that in four games, Dallas gave up a total of four field goals and no touchdowns during the first half.
The best news from the preseason thus far has come in the first halves of the three games:
Dallas Cowboys 30, Opponents 6
Dwayne Harris showed that the Cowboys may actually have some depth at receiver. He hauled in three passes in the first half, two of which went for touchdowns. He and quarterback Tony Romo allowed the team to jump out to a 17-3 lead in the first half, en route to a 20-19 win over the Rams.
Harris finished the night with three receptions for 118 yards. Romo only played in the first quarter but still completed 9 of 13 for 198 yards, giving him a QB rating of 151.4.
Backup Kyle Orton led the team on a late drive in the first half, setting up Dan Bailey‘s second field goal of the half. The drive featured some nice receptions by Cole Beasley, Kevin Ogletree, and James Hanna.
In fact, Ogletree ended up with the most receptions on the night, hauling in five passes for 75 yards. However, Ogletree could not haul in a pass on a 3rd-and-6 play and forced the team to settle for a field goal.
The four Dallas quarterbacks combined for 333 passing yards. Orton was sacked twice, while the others were not sacked at all.
The defense shut down starter Sam Bradford all night. He completed only 6 of 17 passes for 64 yards, and Morris Claiborne broke up a pass in the end zone late in the first half, denying the Rams a shot at a touchdown.
DeMarco Murray ran five times for 26 yards. He apparently suffered a hand injury, but it does not appear to be serious.
Other potential bad news: nose tackle Jay Ratliff reportedly suffered a high ankle sprain during the game. A few have tweeted that he may miss some regular season games.
Dallas hosts Miami on Wednesday night. Starters are not likely to play.
The first six quarters of the 2012 preseason gave Cowboys’ fans plenty of optimism about the defense. Dallas outscored two opponents 13-0 during those six quarters.
Then came the second half of Saturday night’s game against the San Diego Chargers. Stephen McGee committed two turnovers in the fourth quarter that led to two San Diego touchdowns, as the Chargers came from behind to beat Dallas, 28-20.
There were still plenty of positives for the Cowboys. Tony Romo led the starters on a 15-play drive in the first quarter, resulting in a field goal. Kyle Orton came in during the second quarter and led the team on its first touchdown drive of the preseason. His 35-yard pass to Kevin Ogletree set up a two-yard touchdown by Jamize Olawale.
The touchdown drive was set up by an interception by new cornerback Brandon Carr, who also had a second pick later in the second quarter. The second pick nearly set up more points, but Orton’s pass to Andre Holmes was tipped in the air and picked off (narrowly, but confirmed under review).
The Cowboys continued to lead until the fourth quarter. Charlie Whitehurst threw two touchdown passes during that quarter as the Chargers grabbed a 28-13 lead. Rudy Carpenter led Dallas on a late drive and threw a touchdown pass to Dwayne Harris.
Rookie Cole Beasley of SMU had a standout night, catching seven passes for 104 yards. He appears to be a long-shot to make the roster, but he had a night to remember on Saturday.
Dallas has its first home preseason game against the Rams on Saturday, August 25.
The Dallas Cowboys’ offensive starters played until the beginning of the second quarter on Monday night. The team gained nine yards on that possession, which doubled what the offense had gained on its first two possessions in the first quarter.
The rest of the game wasn’t any more impressive, as the Cowboys struggled to move the ball all game long. The teams were tied 0-0 at halftime.
Kyle Orton led the Cowboys on their longest drive of the game, taking the offense from its own 18 to the Oakland 15 before the drive stalled. The key play was a 20-yard completion to rookie tight end Andrew Szczerba. A pass interference penalty on the Raiders also helped.
The defense had some trouble with rookie receiver Rod Streater, but neither he nor the rest of the Oakland offense could pose much of a threat in Dallas territory. The Raiders missed two field goals in the loss, and the Cowboys put the game away when Mana Silva picked off Terrelle Pryor with less than 40 seconds left in the game.
Running back Jamize Olawale from the University of North Texas led the Cowboys in the ground by rushing 12 times for 42 yards. DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones combined for a total of four rushing yards.
Dez Bryant played and caught a 24-yard pass. Andre Holmes caught three passes for 40 yards.
Dallas next plays at San Diego on Saturday night.
Rookies have already reported for the Cowboys 2012 training camp, and veterans will report on July 29. The camp opens in Oxnard, California on Monday.
It’s been a while since I have summarized the history of training camp locations, so here is a 2012 update:
1960: Pacific University, Forest Grove, Oregon
From Landry’s Boys by Peter Golenbock:
The Cowboys’ first training camp was at the University of the Pacific in Forest Grove, Oregon. It was in the middle of nowhere, a haul from the nearest big city, Portland. [Tom] Landry intended to run a boot camp, and Forest Grove was the perfect place to conduct it away from any distractions. The town had one movie theatre and one bar. Nearby was a maraschino cherry factory. The sweet, syrupy aroma permeated the place as the players sweated under blue skies.
1961: St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota
From Golenbock, quoting Bob Lilly, who was a rookie in 1961:
“I went to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, for training camp. That was a beautiful campus, except you had to walk down 386 steps– I counted them– to get from the dorm to the playing field, plus I was on the third floor of the dorm.”
1962: Northern Michigan College, Marquette, Michigan
Ron Smith provided some great information about the Cowboys’ 1962 camp from the book Dallas Cowboys, Pro or Con? by Sam Blair.
In mid July the Cowboys found themselves moving into a new training camp again. This time they almost wound up in Canada.
The site was Northern Michigan College at Marquette, where the temperature rarely rose above the fifties during the day and a 20-m.p.h. wind frequently blew off nearby Lake Superior.
Marquette had become a rather sudden second choice for the Cowboys.They had planned to return to St. Olaf College at Northfield,Minnesota,but the athletic conference to which that school belonged ruled at its spring meeting that no member could house a professional team on its campus. So, with little time to check out prospective sites, the Dallas club settled on Northern Michigan,which greeted the players and staff cordially but assigned them to a girls dormitory which wasn’t occupied during summer school.The beds were shorter and the doors were lower than they were accustomed to and the taller men suffered some bruised noggins during their stay.
To those who had known some scorching Texas summers,the weather at Marquette was almost unbelievable. Water fountains on the campus were left running all night so as to not risk frozen pipes and rare was the July or August evening when the temperature didn’t dip into the thirties.
So many players were shivering that equipment manager Jack Eskridge laid in a large supply of thermal underwear.
Although the air was invigorating,the weather was not conducive to the hot and heavy work which players need during a training camp. There was an extremely high number of injuries, particularly pulled leg muscles and damaged knees,and you have to believe some of them resulted directly from the players’ inability to warm up properly.
1963-1989: California Lutheran College, Thousand Oaks, California
Most of us who are older than 30 or so remember that the Cowboys trained for years at the campus of California Lutheran College (now University) in Thousand Oaks, California. Here is a clip from Wikipedia:
. . . California Lutheran University served as the training camp location for the Dallas Cowboys. The CLU football practice field used by the Cowboys as well as the CLU Kingsmen football team was replaced by a large sports complex in 2006. The Cowboys Clubhouse in Thousand Oaks still stands across from the complex, and is currently a family residence.
1990-1997: St. Edward’s University, Austin, Texas
This is from NFL.com:
Before Johnson’s arrival, the Cowboys spent 27 years training at California Lutheran College in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Johnson held camp there his first season (Aikman’s rookie year), but he and owner Jerry Jones moved the operation to Austin, Texas, in 1990. Jones wanted to move camp closer to the team’s regional fan base. Aikman says Johnson supported the move because he wanted his players to experience the Texas heat, a weather condition he considered ideal to train a football team.
“Jimmy believed in a lot of contact, being physical and practicing in the heat. It was about 100 degrees [in Austin], the humidity was 90 percent,” Aikman said. “We were a young football team, and I think that maybe at that time, it was good for us. You certainly can’t argue with the results we got.
“But as the team got older and we continually practiced in that kind of heat, I think it had diminishing returns. It probably wasn’t until we made the playoffs in 1991 and achieved a pretty good level of success that Jimmy didn’t keep the foot down on the guys as much as he had in previous years. Early on, when he was trying to put the team together, it was really, really tough.”
1998-2002: Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas
There was once a site known as CowboysCamp.com, which had this to say about the Cowboys’ camp location in 1999:
As part of the team’s commitment to keeping their training camp in Texas, the Cowboys selected Midwestern State as the home of the Cowboys preseason preparations in 1999. This will mark the 10th year the Cowboys have held camp in Texas.
The new surroundings proved to be a success in 1998 as new head coach Chan Gailey helped lead the Cowboys to a 10-6 finish and the NFC Eastern Division title. Since making the move to a Texas-based training camp, the Cowboys have had just two non-playoff seasons.
In retrospect, however, the move to Wichita Falls wasn’t particularly positive:
For the last four years, the Cowboys trained in Wichita Falls. At first, people swarmed onto the campus of Midwestern State University. By 2001, however, attendance was way down.
Nick Gholson, sports editor at the Wichita Falls Times Record News, says 100-degree temperatures helped chase off the crowds, as did the fact that the Cowboys tumbled to last place in their division.
Also, fan expectations didn’t mesh with training-camp reality.
“A lot of people thought they were going to games, but they’d go there and see (the players) stretch for 30 minutes and realize they were watching a practice,” Gholson said. “And there is not much more boring than watching a football practice.”
Having the team in Wichita Falls brought about $16 million into the local economy over four years, and having the camp raised the North Texas city’s visibility.
In appreciation, a team photo was put on the cover of the 1999 Wichita Falls phone book.
Townspeople in Wichita Falls never got ho-hum about having the Cowboys, Gholson said, but they also stopped swooning when they ran into a player at the shopping mall.
2001: River Ridge Sports Complex, Oxnard, California
During one of the seasons that the Cowboys trained at Wichita Falls, they also spent time in Oxnard, California,which later became the regular site of their training camps.
2002-2003: The Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
The Cowboys moved south to San Antonio in 2002.
For the players, the differences between Wichita Falls and San Antonio will be noticeable.
The dorms at Midwestern State will be replaced by rooms in a luxury hotel on the bustling Riverwalk. And where the limited nightlife of Wichita Falls tempered opportunities for preseason mischief, San Antonio will present more than a few temptations.
The two towns do have one thing in common, and that’s heat.
August days in San Antonio average upward of 95 degrees. When the sun is high in the sky, however, the plan is for the Cowboys to practice inside the Alamodome on an artificial surface.
2004-2006: River Ridge Sports Complex, Oxnard, California
The Cowboys moved their camp back to California for three seasons, though the team hardly had the same success as it did for many of the years when camp was held in Thousand Oaks. Scheduling conflicts forced the Cowboys to move from San Antonio in 2004.
2007 : The Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
The Cowboys signed a five-year contract in May 2006 to return to San Antonio. Here is a clip from that press release:
Remember the Alamodome? The Cowboys do.
Jerry Jones confirmed here Thursday the team will be making San Antonio its training camp home once again, the Cowboys’ owner and general manager announcing a five-year year contract has been struck with the city to return camp to the Alamodome starting in 2007.
“It’s great to be home,” Jones said in a joint announcement with San Antonio mayor Phil Hardberger inside the San Antonio City Council chambers. “We have a phrase in football that we like a player in a game to completely empty his bucket with his effort and emotions. When he’s done that, we’re satisfied that he’s given the Cowboys and our fans all he can do.
“That’s what we will represent to (San Antonio).”
2008: River Ridge Sports Complex, Oxnard, California
With the Alamodome unavailable for training camp, the Cowboys agreed to return to Oxnard. This was the season that the Cowboys were (unfortunately) featured in HBO’s Hard Knocks.
2009: The Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
The Cowboys again returned to San Antonio in 2009 following their disappointing finish in 2008.
2010: The Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas and River Ridge Sports Complex, Oxnard, California
After alternating between San Antonio and Oxnard for several years, the Cowboys decided to hold camp at both locations in 2010. Plenty thought the idea was not a very good one, and the results in the regular season— a 6-10 season — hardly validated the decision. Nevertheless, the Cowboys have expressed willingness to split locations again at some point in the future.
2011: The Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
And the Cowboys were back in San Antonio in 2011. It marked Jason Garrett’s first training camp as head coach, but the offseason had been marred by the owners’ lockout.
2012: River Ridge Sports Complex, Oxnard, California
The Cowboys return yet again to Oxnard in 2012, hoping to improve on their 8-8 finish in 2011.