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Mostly Uninspired Questions Waiting for Answers

Trying to get into a good mood for this week’s game. The loss to the Redskins in some ways seems like it was three weeks ago, but, of course, NFL Network hasn’t let me forget the game altogether. So welcome to the most uninspired Questions Waiting for Answers of the season.

But by God, if we are going to be uninspired, we might as well be happy and uninspired. Let’s hear it for Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team!



(1) Does this team start looking like a 6-2 (making it a 10-6) team? It will probably take at least 10 wins to make the playoffs, and even if the Cowboys win this week, they are going to need to look like a .750 team for the rest of the season. It starts on Sunday.

(2) Any chance we can get Bill Parcells to coach this team? This debate is getting very old, but this team has suffered from being undisciplined and continues to make stupid errors and commit stupid penalties. That was a significant part of the problem with the team under Dave Campo, and there just haven’t been that many improvements.

Here is what Mickey Spagnola had to say:

Keep hearing all this stuff about penalties and the team being undisciplined. Well, I don’t think pass interference is an undisciplined penalty. That happens in the course of the game, and so far, the Cowboys have been called for four offensive pass interference penalties, costing 40 yards, and five defensive P.I.’s for a whopping 139 yards. So that’s nine interference calls, total, for 179 yards, or 27 percent of their 660 yards of penalties. The biggest offense so far? False starts. Like 14 accepted for 64 yards. That’s almost two a game. As for holding? Try seven, six accepted for 60 yards. Less than one a game. Not bad. But it’s all these weird calls the Cowboys keep getting like tripping, crack-back block, chop block, block above the waist (?), invalid fair catch, two open helmet grabs and two celebration penalties that seem to be adding up. These total 11 for 125. That’s what’s distorting the picture.

So it’s just a distorted picture? Maybe just bad luck? Aw, shucks, maybe this isn’t a stupid team after all!

(3) Should we worry about the Cardinals’ offensive weapons? Edgerrin James averages 2.8 yards per carry. But Anquan Boldin is on his way to a 1,000 yard season, and Bryant Johnson averages 21.3 yards per catch. Larry Fitzgerald is likely to return this week. The real question might be whether Matt Leinart can get the ball to them.

(4) Does Terrell Owens really makes this “personal?” Or is he confusing “personal” with “selfish.” Here is the quote:

“I think the first six games of the season I was just out there,” Owens said. “I really wasn’t involved. But now I’m involved. I expect to get the ball. … Tony does a lot of things for us. I want to go out and make plays for him.”

Owens said to expect a lot more plays from him in the coming weeks.

“It’ll be something personal,” he said, adding only that the next eight games will “no doubt” be better than the first eight.

(5) Can Emmitt beat Mario in Dancing with the Stars? I thought Emmitt would have enough votes from football fans, but my wife thinks that all of the housewives will vote for Mario.

Oh sh-t. Please disregard (5).

Anyway, thought this was sort of funny:

(6) Prediction: Dallas 17, Arizona 3.

Really don’t think that Dallas will have a great offensive performance, but the defense should be able to shut the Cardinals down. I’m looking for a 10-0 game through much of the third quarter.

[tags] Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals [/tags]

In Memory of Pat Tillman: His First NFL Game

Pat TillmanThe Arizona Cardinals have announced that at halftime of this weekend’s game, the team will unveil a statute of former safety Pat Tillman and will induct Tillman into the team’s Ring of Honor. The story is below.

Tillman was a seventh-round pick of the Cardinals in 1998. He started at free safety in his first NFL game that season when Arizona visited Dallas in week one. Here is a clip of that game, including his first tackle as a professional (note the comments by Ronnie Lott):

The story:

Cardinals to unveil statue, induct Tillman in Ring of Honor

During a ceremony at halftime of Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Cardinals plan to induct Tillman into the University of Phoenix Stadium’s Ring of Honor.

The team also will dedicate the outdoor pedestrian walkway ringing the stadium as Pat Tillman Freedom Plaza and unveil a bronze statue of him near the Glendale venue’s northwestern corner.

Tillman’s parents and widow are among those expected to attend the ceremonies.

“We honor a lot of individuals for what they accomplished on the field,” Cardinals spokesman Mark Dalton said. “But what he did away from the field, displaying his conviction and principles and what he stood for, is what you’d hope every member of the organization would stand for.”

Tillman, who would have turned 30 last Monday, was drafted in the seventh round in 1998 out of Arizona State where he was voted Pac-10 defensive player of the year.

He started for three years as strong safety for the Cardinals. But after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Tillman turned down a $3.6 million contract and left the team before the 2002 season to enlist in the Army.

Tillman was killed on April 22, 2004, when members of his own platoon fired in his direction in an incident that remains under investigation by the Army.

The Cardinals retired his No. 40 jersey after his death.

Bobby Carpenter: Already the MOP Award Winner for 2006!

A couple of weeks ago, I featured the first “Find Bobby Carpenter’s Hair” post. For either of you who read that post, here is the answer to where Mr. Carpenter is located in the shot:

Bobby Carpenter


mop.bmpEven though we are at the midway point of the season, I’ve decided to give the Most Obscure Player (MOP) Award to Mr. Carpenter for 2006, for I seriously doubt he will do anything that would render him ineligible for the rest of the season. Congrats, Bobby!

Anyway, I completely missed it, but Bobby was credited with his first tackle in the game against Washington! So on the season, Bobby has played in five games and has one tackle and no assists. And that means that the timing of the award couldn’t be better!


In honor of Bobby’s MOP Award, here are two “Find Bobby Carpenter” shots:

vs. Carolina

Bobby Carpenter

vs. Washington

Bobby Carpenter

[tags] Dallas Cowboys, Bobby Carpenter [/tags]

Some Miscellany, With No Improvement to the Web Design reportedly upgraded its front page, though in all honesty, it is more likely to elicit an “Oh. Huh.” response. I recently decided to test a possible update to this page by stretching it out to the full width of the browser using 1024 pixels. But then I recalled what happened in August when I tried to make some updates with the site. You can read about it here; in a nutshell, I deleted the whole site. So no more neat little updates.

Tim CowlishawDarnit, I don’t want to agree with Tim Cowlishaw. But I am doing so much more frequently these days. It’s kind of like a Republican saying, “You know, having the Democrats take over Congress really isn’t so bad.”

There are reasons this 4-4 record feels like the end of the world to Cowboys fans. Two very valid reasons.

One, this is Bill Parcells.

Two, these are the Cowboys.

It’s not as if Parcells took over some wretched franchise in 2003. These aren’t the Giants or the Jets.

The Cowboys have won as many Super Bowls as anybody (five). Been to more Super Bowls than anybody (eight). Only franchise that has seen three coaches win Super Bowls.

More conference championship appearances than anybody (16) in the Super Bowl era.

So Cowboys fans’ expectations differ from those poor folks who shiver in Giants Stadium and who, in the Giants’ case, had not been to a title game in 20 years before Parcells showed up or, in the Jets’ case, had not been to a Super Bowl in more than 25 years when Parcells arrived.


Brad ShamI do, however, like to agree with Brad Sham:

Would you like the good news or the bad news?

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

The bad news is the Dallas Cowboys are just an average football team. They’re nothing special. They’re not champions-in-waiting. They’re just the Jets and the Vikings. They’re a bunch of guys. Just average.

The good news is, they’re better than that. They just have to prove it.

If you’re a frustrated fan who can’t comprehend why your favorite team is flopping around in the middle of the pack, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. The head coach is right there with you. So are the assistant coaches and the owner and all the players. They don’t get why they’re average. The players especially know that in their case, the sum of the parts is less than the whole, and it’s making them nuts.

Now we’ll see if they can do something about it.

Danny WhiteDallas Cowboy Fans United has a great post that features an interview with the Danny White. I’m not too fond of title (“Danny White Does DCFU”), but…. well, I’m not too fond of the title.

Here is one of the questions about Tony Dorsett’s 99-yard touchdown run in 1982:

What was going through your mind when you handed the ball off to Tony Dorsett on that 99.5 yd run in Minnesota on Monday Night Football? (doc/dcfu)

I was worried about a safety. We were on the 1 footline and only had 10 players on the field. Ron Springs ran off the field leaving us 1 short and no lead blocker. With time running down I had to decide whether to use a timeout or go ahead and run the play. The rest, as they say, is history.

[tags] Dallas Cowboys, Danny White [/tags]

We’ve Got Answers. Brought to You by NFL Network!

NFL NetworkOther than Adsense, there isn’t much advertising on this site. But that is going to change today, for even though the NFL removed all of those YouTube videos, I am going to provide for the league free advertising for NFL Network!

Why, you ask? Because I might as well put my memorization of their advertisements to good use. I have never in my life seen any television network repeat an advertisement more than this one. Ever. In fact, I am not sure which will drive me to insanity first– the Cowboys losing every other week or listening to these damn ads. [It doesn’t matter anyway, because household finances are sure to beat either of them to the punch].

[Text]: Who is the Greatest Super Bowl Team of All Time?

[Voice]: At season’s end, there comes a shining moment.

[Text]: Stories 40 Years in the Making

[Voice]: Champions, captured in metal; legends, etched in gold and silver.

[Text]: Chronicled by Those Who Made the Game Great

[Voice of Tom Brady]: Well, we had just spiked the ball. You know, running off we’ve got seven seconds left on the clock, and you’re thinking, this is, this is for the world championship.

[Voice of Joe Greene]: And in that precise moment, when you know that the next ball game will be in the Super Bowl, it… aw man, it just doesn’t get any better, doesn’t get any better than that.

[Voice] The countdown begins, to the greatest Super Bowl team of all-time. One game that can define a career. It’s a game we all love. It’s their game. It’s our game.

[Text]: America’s Game: The Super Bowl Champions. Coming in November on NFL Network.

What do you want to bet that I get an email asking for the removal of the NFL Network image due to trademark infringement?


Okay, so I should probably answer those questions from last week. Ugh.

1. Does Gregg Williams’ defense confuse Romo and cause him to make mistakes? I thought that Carolina would be able to do that, but Romo made all of the right decisions. The guy just has great poise– at least for now.

Romo kept his poise, completing 24 of 36 for 284 yards and 2 TDs. He led the team to what should have been the game winner. No complaints there.

This is from Big Shot Blurbs:

Week by week, Tony Romo is quieting his doubters. He’s only had two starts, but you have to like the way he dealt with the crowd noise and pressure from Gregg Williams’ defense. That 28-yard pass to Witten on the final drive was a big-time throw.

See, not all negative?

2. Weekly question: what can we expect from Julius Jones and Marion Barber? Their combined 141 yards, along with short passes, were crucial in last week’s win. Jones had 94 yards in the week 2 win over Washington, and Barber added another 39.

Solid week again for both backs, combining for 118 yards. It appeared in the third quarter that the Dallas running game might crush the Redskins, but obviously that wasn’t the case.

3. Can the Cowboys shut down the Redskins receivers yet again? They did it in week 2. They shut down Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson last week. And Santana Moss has not practiced this week. I’m betting they can do it.

No Santana Moss, but the others hurt Dallas when it mattered. Chris Cooley caught three passes for 66 yards, and none of those receptions were as important as his fourth quarter grab that tied the game at 19.

4. Will Jason Witten stay involved in the offense this week?

He finished with five catches for 50 yards, including the 28-yarder that should have set up the game winner. We can’t really complain.

5. Should we worry that the Redskins had two weeks to prepare for this game? I think there are enough problems there, but I still fear a Joe Gibbs team. The Redskins are in a position worse than the Cowboys last week, but it can turn around pretty quickly.

Washington came out strong but was outplayed for most of the game. I don’t think that the game hinged on the fact that Washington was better prepared but rather hinged on Dallas’ inability to put a team away.

6. Prediction: Dallas 28, Washington 14. The Cowboys should have confidence for this game, given that the Cowboys already beat Washington. Though there may be some cause for concern that Washington routed Dallas at Washington last year, I don’t think that the Redskins are the same team this year. If Dallas avoids mistakes, I think they will win this running away.

Terrell OwensIf Owens catches the long pass thrown to him with about four minutes left in the third quarter, then Dallas takes a 26-12 lead. Then I would have been pretty close. But you know what happened. Dammit.


Right about time for another NFL Network commercial! [Think I’m exaggerating?]

[Text]: Who is the Greatest Super Bowl Team of All Time?

[Voice]: At season’s end, there comes a shining moment.

[Text]: Stories 40 Years in the Making

[Voice]: Champions, captured in metal; legends, etched in gold and silver.

[Text]: Chronicled by Those Who Made the Game Great

[Voice of Tom Brady]: Well, we had just spiked the ball. You know, running off we’ve got seven seconds left on the clock, and you’re thinking, this is, this is for the world championship.

[Voice of Joe Greene]: And in that precise moment, when you know that the next ball game will be in the Super Bowl, it… aw man, it just doesn’t get any better, doesn’t get any better than that.

[Voice] The countdown begins, to the greatest Super Bowl team of all-time. One game that can define a career. It’s a game we all love. It’s their game. It’s our game.

[Text]: America’s Game: The Super Bowl Champions. Coming in November on NFL Network.

[tags] Dallas Cowboys, Tony Romo, NFL Network [/tags]

A Premature Sniglet

Tony RomoWas sort of proud of my Romo sniglets from last weekend, though I have a feeling they are not going to take off in the Cowboys blogsphere….

But that won’t stop me from trying a few more. This one was from YoMick: Romo Sapien. The definitions must be endless. I just can’t think of one.

I can, however, come up with yet another sniglet: Romoribund. Something to do with being near a state of death. But, of course, that state is not Romo’s fault, and it is a bit premature. A loss to the Cardinals and it won’t be.


The Washington Post was apparently impressed with the young Mr. Romo:

Dallas quarterback Tony Romo looked busy yesterday afternoon, continuing to write the first major chapter of his NFL story two weeks after ditching the headset and clipboard for the Cowboys’ starting job.

With 31 seconds left and the game tied at 19, Romo looked the part of a savvy veteran, putting his team in position to steal a road win against the Washington Redskins. Taking over at his 39-yard line after Nick Novak’s missed field goal attempt, Romo showed poise while moving Dallas into field goal range with a 28-yard strike to tight end Jason Witten, who ran free through the heart of the defense.

And then Mike Vanderjagt lined up for a field goal to win the game. And then Marc Columbo didn’t block Troy Vincent, making us tear our insides out….

Yes, I’m getting over it.


This was from FanSince83 on his blog:

The game upset me, too. Yes because we lost, but because I wanted more! I wanted to see OT. These two teams played their hearts and souls out and were neck and neck all afternoon. I wanted to see another quarter. You knew whoever had the ball first, at least I just had that guy feeling, would NOT score first. Sad to see it end on one of those game breaking calls that can go either way. Was it a 15 yarder or a 5 yarder facemask? Who knows. It’s a judgement thing.

You wanted to see OT? Are you ill? If nothing else, remember to spell judgment without the “e”!

Parcells News Conference and Other Clips

Really miss embedding more of these videos, but this will have to do.  Here are a few clips available through ESPN:

Bill Parcells press conference from 11/6:

Bill Parcells

Mike Ditka and Steve Young debate Terrell Owens’ antics:

ESPN Steve Young and Mike Ditka

Jeremy Green of Scouts, Inc. thinks that Dallas can still make the playoffs:


[tags] Dallas Cowboys, videos [/tags]

What To Do When Tuna Goes Bad?

Bill ParcellsI spent a bit too much time today arguing about who should take the blame for the Washington disaster. There’s so much blame that needs to go around, I’m not so sure right now that it matters. And I’m supposed to run a less-than-serious blog, at least according to tag line. Dammit.

Anyway, several fans want to defend Bill Parcells by saying that it is his players and not his coaching that is causing the losses. I’ve spent time as a blind optimist (believing that the Cowboys would somehow turn around their season in 1986, with Steve Pelleur at quarterback) and as an apologist (defending Barry Switzer in 1997, even as the team was crumbling around him). I guess I don’t have that in me any more. My response:

Chan Gailey had plenty of team losses. In fact, most of his losses couldn’t be blamed on coaching but rather on lack of execution. He made more playoff appearances in Dallas than Parcells has (2 to 1), yet he was shown the door. And he did it with an aging Aikman, Smith et al. If you are only permitted to criticize the head coach when it’s the COACHING and not the PLAYERS, then why didn’t he remain head coach?

By the nature of the position, head coaches are always judged on how their players perform. And yes, they get too much blame when they lose and too much credit when they win, but that comes with the territory. Tony Dungy’s teams lose in the playoffs, yet he is the one who gets a bad reputation for his team’s failures come postseason– and Jon Gruden has a ring from Tampa Bay that he received for coaching Dungy’s players. Marty Schottenheimer has suffered the same fate– he has a better winning percentage than Parcells (191-126-1 to 167-127-1) but doesn’t have the two rings. Why doesn’t he have the two rings? Because of letdowns by his players (Cleveland in the 1980s), not because of his coaching. Does anyone put Schottenheimer in the same category as Parcells? Not too many people.

So now Parcells is above criticism for his 29-27 record in Dallas? Some of us are now idiots for thinking that maybe, four years later, we might want to look at the head coach as part of the problem for those 27 losses? In most instances, the head coach would take some, or much more than some, of the blame for 11 penalties and 153 yards in penalties in a single game. Dave Campo certainly did in his day. But not Parcells, because he is above all of this.

I don’t know if I’m right, but I suspect that one could easily find 50 coaches who have been fired for team performances as mediocre as what we’ve seen from the Cowboys since 2003. In the past four seasons, the Cowboys have had two winning streaks of longer than two games. Here is a quick look:

2003: A five-game winning streak gave the Cowboys a 5-1 record. They were shut out by Tampa Bay 16-0 in the seventh game. Dallas had two more two-game streaks that year and finished 10-6.

2004: Dallas won back-to-back games twice all year. On two occasions, the Cowboys had three-game losing streaks. Record: 6-10.

2005: The Cowboys won back-to-back games over Philadelphia and New York, but then lost to Seattle on the road. Dallas won three straight games after that to improve to 7-3. But the Cowboys lost three of the next four, and finished the season 9-7.

2006: Dallas won back-to-back games over the Redskins and Titans, but has since alternated losses and wins.

Tim Cowlishaw:

So there it is. We are 3 ½ years into the Parcells Era, and the Cowboys are still an undisciplined .500 team. A trip to the playoffs remains possible but it’s less than 50-50 right now that this team makes it. Five NFC teams are above the .500 mark. Four more are tied with the Cowboys at 4-4.

You look at the way Julius Jones and Marion Barber are running, the potential of the receiving corps that Romo is just starting to tap into, a defense with five first-round picks in the lineup, the presence of Vanderjagt and Mat McBriar, which should be the best kicker-punter combination of the NFL … and it still adds up to 4-4.

This team isn’t playing to its capabilities. Parcells is doing nothing to show why he commands the salary of an elite coach.

At least we are getting some response from Parcells:

Bill Parcells is discouraged by the Dallas Cowboys’ mediocre first half of the season and frustrated by the team’s penalty difficulties.

That doesn’t even cover Terrell Owens’ end zone antics.

A day after the Cowboys lost to the Washington Redskins 22-19 in a wild final few seconds, Parcells labored over the mistakes that left Dallas one of five teams in the NFC with a .500 record.

Parcells, who was 5-3 at the midway point during his first three years in Dallas, said Monday he is discouraged the Cowboys are not entering the season’s second half in better position.

“We’ve got to get going and put some things in sequence or we’re going to wind up being average to below average,” he said.

It’s okay, Bill. We’re getting used to it.


Let’s hear from Frank Luksa, with whom I would never argue:

This one went to the top of the list of novelty defeats for the Cowboys. As someone who’s seen almost all previous 317 regular-season and playoff losses in franchise history, I find one word to describe what happened Sunday in Washington.


There’s another word for the 318th, too. Disgusting.

In a performance worthy of ridicule and scorn, the Cowboys made a miraculous U-turn from apparent victory to ludicrous defeat. How did they do it? By turning sunshine into total eclipse and losing a game after the game had ended.

. . .

The game-closing sequence deserved its place in franchise infamy, but I suggest the opening series impacted the outcome almost as much. I refer to the Cowboys first play to follow the Redskins being repulsed without scoring on six plays from inside the Dallas 4-yard line.

Julius Jones was trapped for safety trying to punch out from the 1-yard line. Ahead 6-5 minutes later, Parcells consulted a two-point conversion chart, went for a pair, and missed. TV analyst/former quarterback Troy Aikman correctly objected that it was too early for that gamble.

So add it: two points donated on a safety and another lost by not kicking an extra point. Three points were not only the losing margin but they dictated how the game played to conclusion.

The euphoria from last week’s 35-14 shelling of Carolina has been muted. An earlier 27-10 victory over Washington is now devalued. Whatever self-confidence existed has ebbed. Doubts sprout that even 1-7 Arizona can be subdued.

A 4-4 record speaks of stagnation, and the way it’s been fashioned reveals a team that too often mangles the play that separates winner from loser. It’s a team beats itself as often as the opponent does. Sunday’s humiliation confirmed the trend.

The Cowboys can extend mild suspense over their eventual finish by snapping a four-game losing streak in Arizona on Sunday. Anything less and the Cowboys become more of an irrelevant muddle.


Unlike the distinguished Mr. Luksa, I’m becoming a bit less of a fan of Mr. Spagnola. Here is a clip from today’s post:

As I suspected on the 15-yard facemask call on Kyle Kosier, he basically brushed against the facemask, never really holding or yanking for any length of time, meaning that should have been a five-yard penalty. Heck, next time, he should just grab the facemask and absolutely yank him to the ground. That would have been at about the 20, thus giving Washington the ball at its own 35 with one play to go. Big deal. Also, did you realize the only “skill” people on the field capable of dealing with Sean Taylor’s speed after the block were Witten, holder Tony Romo and deep snapper L.P. Ladouceur? All the rest were linemen it seemed.

Um, it was the field goal team. Since when does any team put skill people, other than the holder and perhaps a couple of tight ends, on the field goal team? I’m losing faith in you, Mick!

[tags] Dallas Cowboys, Bill Parcells [/tags]

A Sequence for the Season, Act II

Last week, I submitted a post wondering if the sequence of plays in the third and fourth quarter of the Carolina game, which resulted in a Dallas win, would be a sequence to remember this season. It only took a week for a second sequence to leave us wondering where the heck this team is going, now that it is at 4-4.

We begin with the Redskins facing a 3rd-and-3 from the Dallas 28 with less than a minute to play…:

[tags] Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Highlights [/tags]

NFL Highlights (To Make You Ill)

I’m trying to avoid using a string of profanities on here… this highlight clip may be too much to handle. It’s the NFL’s highlights, and you will need RealPlayer to watch it.


The story:

LANDOVER, Md. – The Cowboys had several chances to complete their sweep of the Washington Redskins, but Redskins kicker Nick Novak made good on his own second chance.

Novak drilled a 47-yard field goal on the last play of the game to lift Washington to an improbable 22-19 win over the Cowboys.

Novak missed a field goal attempt with 31 seconds left, giving the Cowboys good field position at their own 39. Quarterback Tony Romo set the Cowboys up for a potential game-winning field goal by Mike Vanderjagt, which was blocked and returned by Washington. The Redskins got great field position because of a facemask penalty, and Novak kicked the game-winner.

In his second start, Romo didn’t waste time breaking a halftime tie. He connected with Patrick Crayton for 48 yards, then found Terrell Owens in the end zone five plays later for a 4-yard score to put Dallas ahead, 19-12.

Owens nearly gave Dallas a two-touchdown lead later in the third quarter, but he dropped a sure touchdown after beating two Redskins defenders deep. The Cowboys ended up punting, and the Redskins tied the game at 19-19 on the next series after drawing a costly pass interference penalty on safety Roy Williams.

The Cowboys will travel to Arizona next Sunday to face the Cardinals in the final leg of their three-game road trip.