Are Miles Austin and Morris Claiborne Still Key Players?

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.

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If the Cowboys Miss the Playoffs Again…

With the Eagles’  24-16 win over the Redskins on Sunday, the Cowboys at 5-5 now sit a half-game out of first place in the NFC East. The Cowboys are also a full game behind the 49ers, Bears, and Cardinals for the last wildcard spot. Even if Carolina loses to New England tonight, the Panthers would still have a 6-4 record.

9013775-largeDallas now has to travel to the Meadowlands for a rematch with the resurgent Giants, who have won four straight. In fact, none of the remaining games are going to be easy for the Cowboys, and it is possible that Dallas will have to beat the Redskins on the road and Eagles at home in the final two weeks of the season to reach the playoffs.

On the positive side, that is exactly what the Cowboys did in 2009, the last year the Cowboys made the playoffs.

On the negative side, should the team fail, the Cowboys will have the third-longest playoff drought in franchise history.

The longest period where the Cowboys missed the playoffs was the first six years of the team’s existence from 1960 to 1965.

The next longest period was the five years from 1986 through 1990, which included the final Landry years and the first two years under Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones.

The current Cowboys have missed the playoffs three straight years. That was the same number of years the franchise missed the playoffs under Dave Campo.

Yes, the current Dallas Cowboys could have a longer streak of missing the playoffs than the teams led by the rotating of quarterbacks that included an aging Troy Aikman, an aging Randall Cunningham, Anthony Wright, Clint Stoerner, Quincy Carter, Ryan Leaf, and Chad Hutchinson.

Jerry gave more money to Tony Romo last off-season than any other player in team history, yet one more season without the playoffs means that the Quincy Carter (et al.) era may start looking better than what we are seeing now.

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Drafting a Tight End in the Second Round and Expecting a Different Result

Overused quote of the afternoon: Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well-respected DMN columnist Rick Gosselin on Monday noted that Cowboys use of a second-round pick to take Gavon Escobar is already haunting the team. I would much rather take a week off from worrying about the Cowboys’ decision-making […]

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First-Down Trivia

The Dallas Cowboys gave up 40 first downs to the New Orleans Saints. It was the most in a single game in NFL history.

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New Orleans 49, Dallas 17: A Defense as Effective as Air and Gravity Alone

The Dallas defense gave up more than 600 yards again, and the offense provided no help at all, as the New Orleans Saints clobbered the Cowboys, 49-17.

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Photo Trivia: Cowboys Rocked by the Saints in 2006

Discover which member of the New Orleans Saints scored three touchdowns against the Cowboys in 2006.

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Cowboys Will Play Their 22nd Game on Sunday Night Football

The Dallas Cowboys will play on Sunday Night Football for the 22nd time when they face the Saints.

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Cowboys Set a Low Mark in Rushing Attempts

The Dallas Cowboys had only 9 rushing attempts in their 27-23 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

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Dallas 27, Minnesota 23: Scoffing at Win-Probability Analysis

The Dallas Cowboys drove 90 yards with less than three minutes remaining to score the game-winning touchdown in a 27-23 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

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How Jerry Used to Respond to Dumb Losses and Mediocre Seasons

Can’t quite forget these facts— His defense allowed a receiver to gain 329 yards due largely to a pathetic defensive scheme. His team still had a 99% chance to win with just over a minute to play but found yet another way to lose a game. His team is now 4-4, and his head coach […]

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