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The Dallas Cowboys (2-3) face off against the Carolina Panthers (1-4) on Sunday, October 21.
Below is a story line about the game. I am using the plugin for Storify. If you have trouble loading the links, try this link.
The Cowboys had their typical December collapse in 2011 after posting a 7-4 record after a Thanksgiving Day win over the Miami Dolphins. Although Dallas picked up the victory on Thanksgiving, some problems that occurred in that game have shown up a number of times since then.
Dallas had 11 penalties for 59 yards and lost the turnover battle thanks to two interceptions. The Cowboys narrowly won thanks to a field goal by Dan Bailey.
Since that game, the Cowboys have played ten more regular season games. Their record is 3-7, and two of those wins came over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who suffered through a ten-game losing streak to end the 2011 campaign.
A few disconcerting numbers about the Cowboys in their last ten games:
- Dallas has been called for 102 penalties for 535 yards. Many of these penalties have caused drives to stall because they are often called on offensive linemen for false starts and holding penalties.
- Opponents’ penalties during that ten-game span: 59 for 448 yards.
- The Cowboys have committed 16 turnovers in the last ten games. This includes 10 interceptions.
- The Cowboys have caused 7 turnovers during that span, giving the Cowboys a turnover differential of -9 in the past ten games.
Compare the Cowboys’ turnover differential with numbers from the New York Giants. New York finished the 2011 season by going 6-0, including the playoffs. During that time, the Giants recorded 12 turnovers and only gave up 2. That’s a differential of +10.
The Giants haven’t been quite a strong in 2012, but they are still 4-2. They have recorded 14 turnovers and have given up 7 for a differential of +7.
Giants in their last 12 games: 10-2, with a turnover differential of +17. Super Bowl title.
Cowboys in their last 10 games: 3-7, with a turnover differential of -9. Demented owner thinks team can vie for the Super Bowl title.
Several radio commentators noted this today, but until Sunday, the Cowboys had never rushed as many as 42 times for 227 yards and lost the game. Here’s a further breakdown of where this ranks:
200-Yard Rushing Days
The Cowboys have gained 200 rushing yards or more as a team 84 times. The team’s record in those games is 72-11-1.
The team record for most rushing yards is 354, set against the Colts when they were in Baltimore in 1981.
Most Rushing Yards with Only One Touchdown
The Cowboys ran for only one touchdown on Sunday. That is not unusual. In the 84 games when the Cowboys have rushed for at least 200 yards, the team has scored one touchdown or no touchdowns in 29 of those games.
The most rushing yards the team has ever gained while only scoring one touchdown also came against the Colts in 1978. Dallas rushed 45 times for 278 yards in a 38-0 win at Texas Stadium.
Most Rushing Attempts in a Loss
The Cowboys nearly set a team record for the most rushing attempts in a loss. The team record was set in an overtime game in 2000, when Dallas ran the ball 46 times in a 16-13 loss to Philadelphia.
Overall, the Cowboys have rushed at least 42 times in 94 games. The Cowboys’ record in those games is now 91-3.
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DeMarco Murray increased his rushing total in 2012 to 330 yards. He would be on pace for more than a 1,000 yards but will likely miss next Sunday’s game with a foot injury.
The Cowboys don’t return home until September 23, when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A friend visiting Dallas asked whether it was worth taking a look at Cowboys Stadium.
As a venue to watch a game, it certainly is. Some have written that the stadium ranks has high as second among NFL stadiums. Other have written about Cowboys Stadium compared to other stadiums around the world.
Anyway, during a week with an away game, consider visiting the stadium and taking a tour. Cost is about $30, which is a bit high, but you get to visit field, locker rooms, and so forth. Worth the trip, especially if you’re a Cowboys fans.
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The Cowboys rank pretty high in various power rankings, which Dallas Morning News reporter Scott Bell has summarized. The high-end ranking has the Cowboys at #6 (Pete Prisco, CBS), while the low-end ranking (Ashley Fox, ESPN) has the Cowboys at #13.
However, if you visited there at 12:20 a.m. Central time, you would have discovered that the Chicago Bears had taken over the entire site. Here’s a look:
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“Mo Claiborne’s got to get out there,” Jones said on Friday. “The times he’s been out there, it’s been impressive. But he certainly can’t make the club in the tub, if you will. He’s got to get out there. It’s time. We got to start having a mentality that we’re going to play through things.
* * *
The Cowboys don’t have a proven third wide receiver, but the team is not going to try to bring in a veteran such as Plaxico Burress.
Center is another potential problem area, but the Cowboys are also not going to sign former Eagle Jamaal Jackson.
The starting center for Monday night: David Arkin.
The 49ers got to celebrate the 30th anniversary of “The [@#%$&!!!] Catch” on January 10 this year. I don’t need to remind anyone, but one dynasty began that day while the Cowboys fell into mediocrity in a few short seasons.
I’ve always thought the entire defense was to blame for the entire drive. However, I have also thought that Walls had Clark in man coverage. The Wikipedia entry for Walls notes, without attribution, that Walls thinks The Catch “tarnished his otherwise outstanding pro career.”
Others disagree that the play was actually Walls’ fault, and that may very well be the case. Safety Michael Downs was playing in the middle of the field, and it appears that Walls briefly released Clark to Downs on the play. Here is the replay:
Still, in a recent interview, Walls does not provide much insight about who is to blame, and we might just need to leave good enough (or bad enough) alone.
Here is the interview:
Many fans would think that these moves, as well as free agent signings, would mean that things are looking up for the Cowboys in the near future. However, a recent article on ESPN ranked the Cowboys at #14 in terms of the team’s outlook for 2015.
Dallas has just the third highest ranking in the NFC East and ninth overall ranking in the NFC. The team trails both the Eagles and the Giants and even comes in behind the Panthers and Falcons.
The article broke down the rankings into five categories, including roster, quarterback, draft, front office, and coaching. Here is a complete description of the ranking.
Dallas wasn’t bad in terms of QB or coaching, but the team took a hit for its front office and draft. The summary is as follows:
Roster: Age is a concern. And unless they do a good job in free agency and the draft, the talent level will drop off in the next couple of years. They should remain fairly young at WR and RB, and they seem to be rebuilding their offensive line. Defensively, they are not very young and their best playmaker of the future will be rookie CB Morris Claiborne, but a lot of replacements are needed.
Quarterback: Tony Romo is perhaps the NFL’s most underrated QB. Given protection, he’ll put up big numbers, period. Romo can play hurt, but adding Kyle Orton to the roster gives Dallas one of the NFL’s best QB situations.
Draft: The Jerry Jones-led war room has an unpredictable streak, but the Cowboys’ great need picks — in T Tyron Smith and Claiborne in back-to-back years — tells me they may have toned it down. The 2009 draft was bad, but they’ve had good results since.
Front office: Jones may be the most involved owner in the NFL, in terms of player personnel, and every decision goes through him. Although his son, Stephen, continues to take a bigger role in day to day operations. Scouting director Tom Ciskowski is a blue-collar, well-respected guy. They will do whatever it takes to attract players in free agency and aggressively upgrade their roster.
Coaching: Not always a real patient organization under Jones, the Cowboys’ expectations are so high that if success isn’t immediate there can be turnover. However, because this is such a high-profile team with a chance to win every year, they also attract the top coaches in the business and you get the feeling that things have stabilized now that coach Jason Garrett is more comfortable and he has two big-time coordinators, Bill Callahan (offense) and Rob Ryan (defense). The group in Dallas may stay together for a while … if they succeed in the present.
Most of these are fair assessments. Two good drafts do not erase several bad drafts, so the team will have to continue to improve in that area. It would be nice if Jerry would get out of the way, but nobody really believes that will happen.
One gripe about this piece is the suggestion that the roster is old. The Cowboys had three starters over the age of 30 in 2012 (Romo, Kyle Kosier, and Montrae Holland). Two of those three (both guards) are gone. Jason Witten has turned 30, but the other players are also quite young.
On defense, the best players are DeMarcus Ware (turns 30 in July), Jay Ratliff (turns 31 in August), and Sean Lee (25). Terence Newman and Abram Elam are gone, and the team will have entire secondary of players who are under 30. The team will need to replace its safeties and some of its defensive linemen, but that is because those positions require upgrades and not so much because of age.
By 2015, there will be concerns about some of these ages, but the future of the team will likely hinge on the development of Lee, Dez Bryant, Mo Claiborne, and so forth.
Offseason personnel moves seem to have helped the Cowboys as far as their odds for winning Super Bowl XLVII. Odds-makers have the Cowboys as 20/1 favorites to win it all in 2012. That ranks about 11th among the NFL teams.
The Packers are the favorites at this point at 13/2, while the Patriots are at 8/1.
Here is a list:
Green Bay – 13/2
New England – 8/1
San Francisco 49ers – 10/1
Denver Broncos – 12/1
Houston Texans – 12/1
Philadelphia Eagles – 14/1
Baltimore Ravens – 16/1
New Orleans Saints – 16/1
New York Giants – 16/1
Chicago Bears – 20/1
Dallas Cowboys – 20/1
Pittsburgh Steelers – 20/1
Dallas is already an underdog for week 1 according to Betfirms.com, which currently lists the Cowboys as a 3.5-point underdog when Dallas faces the New York Giants on September 1.
I am going to criticize Jason Witten in this short post, and some may not forgive me for it. However, I think that Jerry Jones‘ nonsense has rubbed off on his veteran tight end, and I just want to point this out.
The analysts at NFL.com debated whether time was running out on the Cowboys’ playoff window, with the story headline “Now or never.” The story itself mentions that there is a closing window for the Cowboys to win it all. Here is Witten’s quote that appears as part of that story:
You try not to think about the window. But obviously, we’re realists. We understand where it’s at. I feel great and we’re playing great. But it’s about now. I think that’s how this whole organization thinks, from owner to head coach to veteran players.
Here’s my problem: How do you use the term “realists” followed two sentences later with “we’re playing great?”
This is a team that has gone 6-10 and 8-8 in two seasons. Witten has only played in five playoff games during ten years. The last time the Cowboys were in a solid position to do anything in the playoffs was 2007, and the team blew it against the Giants at home.
The point that the analysts addressed was whether the window is closing for veteran Cowboys. That would include Witten and Tony Romo. The rest of the team’s core is rather young, though, so it is tough to say who else is watching the window shut.
When the season starts, DeMarcus Ware will be 30 and Jay Ratliff will be 31. It’s hard to believe they don’t have at least four more years left in them. Miles Austin will be 28, and all of the running backs along with Dez Bryant are younger than that.
On defense, things are looking better with younger players like Sean Lee and the revamped secondary.
It looks more like a window could start opening if the team could get more solid play from its 32-year-old quarterback. Using great to describe anything about this franchise, though, is just pushing it.
Before the quotes, take a look at a “highlight” videos about that team.
On to the quotes—
“‘K mart’ didn’t try to fall down. That’s just football. You’ve got to accept it.”
Troy Aikman after a 27-21 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The Cowboys led 21-10 at halftime but could not score in the second half. Aikman was referring to receiver Kelvin Martin, who fell down on a route late in the game, leading to an Aikman interception.
“The rocky days are not over for the Cowboys. But I’m happy to get the win. We’re going to have a lot of wins over the next so-many years in Dallas, and it’s good to get it started.”
Jimmy Johnson after the Cowboys picked up their first and only win of the 1989 season against the Washington Redskins.
“Winning and losing concerns me, but what concerns me more is when you take away from the integrity of the game. It was confirmed last night by an Eagles coach and two Eagles’ players that there was a $200 bounty on Luis Zendejas and a $500 bounty on Troy Aikman. That’s not the way the game is supposed to be played.”
Johnson about bounties that Philadelphia coach Buddy Ryan placed on several Cowboys’ heads. Dallas lost to the Eagles on Thanksgiving Day, 27-0.
Did You Know?
When the Cowboys lost to the Falcons, it marked the first time since 1963 that Dallas had started a season 0-2.
- Cowboys might have taken Junior Seau in 1990 (examiner.com)
- Troy Aikman backs Dallas Cowboys’ move to select Morris Claiborne – NFL News (blogs.bettor.com)
- The Dallas Cowboys built their dynasty through a series of great drafts (examiner.com)
- When Legendary Dallas Cowboys Quarterbacks Have Moved On (knowyourdallascowboys.com)
- Dallas Cowboys History in Quotes: Cowboys vs. Giants (knowyourdallascowboys.com)