We begin with fun with a Star Wars crawler generator:
The news this week has focused in part on the return of Miles Austin and Morris Claiborne, along with Jason Hatcher and J.J. Wilcox.
If Austin could return to his 2009/2010 form, this would be bigger news. Even his 2012 form would not be bad. However, after catching 10 passes in the season opener against the Giants, he has caught a total of five passes for 53 yards. He has not caught a pass since September 22, thanks mostly to his hamstring injury.
Claiborne is not even a starter, having lost his job to Orlando Scandrick. Advanced NFL Stats ranks Claiborne as the #74 cornerback in the league, while Brandon Carr ranks 6th and Orlando Scandrick ranks 35th.
Assuming those ranks (win probability added especially) have some meaning, 74th is not especially impressive.
The #73 corner is Green Bay’s Micah Hyde, a rookie fifth-round pick. Not exactly the same expectations that comes with the #6 pick overall.
As for the Cowboys’ other corners, some good news is that Carr outranks Joe Haden, who is widely considered the best cover corner in the league.
The bad news? Former Cowboy Terence Newman ranks third.
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Here’s a great article by former Dallas columnist Gary Myers about why the Cowboys will not win with Jerry Jones running the franchise as general manager. This is disconcerting:
“As a general manager, he’s horrific. Just horrific,” said a former GM who once helped his team get to a Super Bowl. “What makes him bad is everything he does is based on perception, star power, making a splash. Fourth or fifth on the list is soundness. Everything revolves around him. He undermines his head coaches with his antics. They don’t have a lot of real harmony and he creates a lot of the storms.”
(Hat tip to Fred Goodwin at Dallas Cowboys Books Blog for the link.)
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You might think that a 5-5 record is fairly common, but not for the Cowboys. Since the league added two games to give the league a 16-game schedule in 1978, the Cowboys have started at 5-5 only three times.
In 1997, the Cowboys started at 5-5. They won their 11th game against the Redskins, but a blowout loss at Green Bay caused a tailspin. Dallas finished at 6-10.
In 1999, the Cowboys saw a 3-0 start become a 5-5 record. Dallas beat Miami on Thanksgiving Day to improve to 6-5 as Chan Gailey beat former Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson. Dallas continued to play mediocre football from that point on and finished at 8-8. However, thanks to a bunch of help, Dallas made the playoffs.
Dallas also started at 5-5 in 2012, losing to the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving en route to an 8-8 finish.