IRVING, Texas – With their only appearance on ESPN's "Monday Night Football," and their Thanksgiving Day win against the Oakland Raiders it seems as if it's been awhile since the Dallas Cowboys played a game. It will be 11 days, but as we recap the week, we will stick (mostly) with the on-field discussions about the Chicago Bears and the ghosts of December past. Jean-Jacques Taylor is ready to believe in quarterback Tony Romo. The Cowboys know they have to finish the season strong to make a playoff push, unlike in 2011 and 2012 when they didn't get it done.
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys converted just 35 percent of their third-down plays this season, good for 23rd in the NFL. On the season, the team is last with just 49 made third-down plays. There was a terrible three-game stretch where the Cowboys couldn't convert a third down play regardless of who was on the field. Dallas went 8-for-36 on third downs before going 4-for-11 at the New York Giants than then 7-of-13 on Thanksgiving Day against the Oakland Raiders last week.
IRVING, Texas -- Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox took over the starting job at free safety from veteran Will Allen, eventually forcing Allen's release. But after five consecutive starts, Wilcox suffered a sprained knee in practice and was replaced by rookie Jeff Heath. But when Wilcox recovered, he didn't get his old job back. That remained with Heath, who has played well the last three weeks. "He was available when I wasn’t, so that’s how I look at it," Wilcox said.
With 11 days between Dallas Cowboys games, we are in a bit of a slow time. Having already previewed both the offense (click here) and defense (click here), and reviewed the game against the Chicago Bears last season (click here). I've run out of things to write about. Hence, I decided to run an old post that I think is hilarious; hopefully you find it as entertaining as I did.
The following is re-posted with permission from my co-conspirator, Erasmus. I have made, without permission, some small alterations and several additions._______________________
As I promised a few weeks ago before undergoing the 55-hour trance with the shamans at Pashupatinath in Kathmandu, I will share as much of the visions as I can recall (when it is possible to express it in words). The strongest image I remember, which was almost omnipresent, was Tony Romo, grinning as he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy over his head, and then all the nay-saying Romo-haters drying up into contorted pieces of driftwood until finally they dissolved into dust like some wicked witch of the unbeliever land.
The Dallas Cowboys will win the 2013 Super Bowl, but the interesting part is what will happen afterward:
- The Dalai Lama will start using the 2013 Dallas Cowboys as an example when he explains the concept of perfection in nirvana.
- Tony Romo will win a Nobel Prize in the field of Quarterbacking Awesomeness.
- DeMarco Murray will be awarded the Booker Prize for his autobiography “The DMM Express: Running Over Defenders in the NFL.”
- President Obama will start to consult with Jason Garrett on all major decisions. Garrett’s shrewd advice on foreign policy solves the problems in the Middle East and puts him on the front page of newspapers all over the world. Hundreds of thousands of gingers (people with red hair) gain the courage to stop dying their hair.
- After he becomes an international sensation and PSY does a tribute (“Superman Style”) to him, millions of South Koreans will claim to be related to Sean Lee. As word of this famous Korean spreads to North Korea, the stories of “Superman” will get embellished; several North Korean spies get arrested at Valley Ranch trying to steal a DNA sample from “Superman” for their human-cloning program.
- Barry Church and Jason Hatcher will face off against 10 of the world’s highest ranked MMA and UFC fighters in a no-rules cage match. Three of the fighters, one having recently evacuated his bowels, refuse to participate after seeing and hearing Hatcher roar like a wild beast. The other 7 get defeated in a contest that never seemed fair.
- “Witten” will become the slang term for anything that exemplifies excellence, as in:
“Dude, did you see that dunk? It was so Witten”,
“This new album is Witten”,
“I just Wittened the $%#& out of that exam”, or
“She totally digs me…..Witten!”
- Dez Bryant will team up with William Kamkwamba to build 1000′s of windmills in Africa that all have blue and silver stars at the end of every blade. An entire continent becomes part of The Cowboy Nation. A group of Rastafarians purchase a small island, name the new country “The Cowboys Republic” and put an image of Dez 'throwing up the X” on their national flag. (If you don't know who William is, google it, then read his book; it will change the way you see the world.)
- Descendants of William Shakespeare and Ludwig van Beethoven will collaborate to compose an ode, and then a symphony, dedicated to DeMarcus Ware’s Super Bowl performance entitled, “The Essence of a Sack”. After the score is performed by the London Symphony Orchestra (with DeMarcus Ware as a guest conductor), it replaces the Ninth as the benchmark for aesthetic greatness and artistic genius.
- Monte Kiffin, after a party at Hugh Hefner’s place, will make Maxim’s “100 Sexiest People”.
- Morris Claiborne will make interceptions that appear to defy the natural laws of kinetic motion and gravity. After the Super Bowl, Roger Goodell assembles a team of international scientists to study the tape and what the media deemed: “The Mo Effect.” After two weeks of study, the spokesperson for the group, Stephen Hawking, concludes, “In order for the inspected tape of the Super Bowl to be an accurate representation of a real occurrence, Morris Claiborne must have invisible machines in his hands that create tiny blackholes that then interfere with the normal trajectory of a football thrown by a human.” Claiborne will later reveal that he spent all of his time "rehabbing" from injury learning to channel the spirit of Everson Walls.
- Rod Marinelli will start a school of 'life coaching'; his students take the Fortune 500 world by storm utilizing his patented methods of intensity, dedication, and badassery.
- Pantera will re-release their “Vulgar Display of Power” album dedicated to the ferocious pan-cake blocks of Tyron Smith. Theories of Smith being some kind of X-men like mutant and him carrying a “T-Rex gene” will consume the tabloids for weeks.
And shockingly, after the Super Bowl, Broncos fans will whine about an NFL conspiracy and blame the officials.
IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne has been ruled out of Monday’s game against the Chicago Bears, but wide receiver Dwayne Harris was able to take part in a limited portion of Saturday’s practice and is listed as questionable. Clairborne will miss his fourth game in the last five with hamstring injuries. He returned to play against the New York Giants on Nov. 24 but aggravated the injury in the game and has not been able to play since.
IRVING, Texas -- The location of Tyron Smith's new locker at the Dallas Cowboys' Valley Ranch practice facility says a lot about how the franchise views the 22-year-old left tackle. Smith moved this week to the locker formerly occupied by defensive tackle Jay Ratliff. It's noteworthy because that stall is one of six that border the exits in the locker room, and coach Jason Garrett has strategically tried to put team leaders in those lockers because they are the highest trafficked areas in the room.
|Is Cowboys Performance Tired?|
But let's examine these ideas critically for a moment.
Shall we look at our division compadres? The Redskins, who looked so resurgent a year ago? 118-149-1. (.442) The Eagles, with a run of 5 years in a row of double digit wins? 146-120-2 (.548) And the two-time super bowl Champion Giants? a whopping 146-121-1 (.546).
In other words, a little over .500 is normal for a team over a 17 year span, unless you are a team like the Patriots or Packers who had the good fortune to find two Franchise QBs back to back (or the Colts, who got 14 prime years of possibly the best QB ever in that time span). Even current NFC faves the Saints (138-130, .514) and Seahawks (143-125, .543) are squarely in this range.
But this team has a reputation for showing up small in December with the playoffs on the line. But let's examine some of these "same stuff, different day" teams, shall we?
1998 - with HoF QB Troy Aikman at the helm and a power running game from Emmitt Smith behind 4/5 of the "Great Wall of Dallas" (who was still a fantasy monster with 1332yds and 13TD), Dallas won back to back games against its division rivals to go 10-6 and enter the playoffs, where playoff ace Troy Aikman threw 49 passes for 191yds and 3 INTs to 1 TD and Dallas went down 20-7 to the upstart Arizona Cardinals. At the risk of going against my point, it's worth pointing out that the romanticized memories of the 90's Cowboys are a bit fuzzy. Those who say a good running game and Troy Aikman meant we "never" had late season or playoff issues are, simply, wrong.
2003 - Dallas rides an easy schedule with the pick-me-up provided by a coaching change along with the #1 defense in the NFL (#2 in points, in case you wondered) to a playoff spot where they lost to the eventual NFC champion Carolina Panthers and their wunderkind Jake Delhomme in his brief shining moments as "that guy who can usually get the ball to a still-young Steve Smith".
2012 - after starting 3-5, Dallas put on a late season surge, winning 5 of their next 6 games before an overtime loss to the Saints and rough Tony Romo outing in Washington eliminated them from the playoffs in the final game for the second year in a row. Lest this be a spark for the separate but even more incorrect "Romo chokes in big games" conversation, let me remind that in these last 8 games -- each one of them with playoff implications-- Romo was 214/330, 2509yds, 18 TD and 6 INT for a 98.4 passer rating. Certainly a 64.8% completion percentage, with 5018 yds, 36 TD, and only 12 INT would be an acceptable season, no?
Other recent playoff history we are familiar with, but worth pointing out that in 2007 we played the eventual Superbowl Champion Giants every bit as strongly as the undefeated Patriots (and again in 2011) and that in 2009 it was a late season surge and a top notch defense that got us into the playoff win column again.
But to summarize: Several of those years saw very solid offensive line play. 7 of them saw a top 10 defense. 4 of the last 10 seasons saw a top 10 performance in sacks. They've spent more first round draft picks on the offensive line since Jason Garrett took over than Jimmy Johnson did his whole tenure (in fact, only 2 regular starter offensive linemen were drafted by Jimmy Johnson- Erik Williams and Mark Stepnoski).
The results may have been the same and may yet be this season, but it absolutely has not been for all the same reasons, nor has it been the same story. Perhaps most importantly, this year looks nothing like last year, where we hit the 3/4 point at 6-6, but with defensive players continuing to drop and with serious red zone and turnover issues on both sides of the ball. This year we are a game ahead of where we were, with a 67.6 TD% in the red zone (compared to 51.2% last year), and tied for first in the NFC in net turnovers at +12 (instead of 14th in the NFC at -13, last year). It could be another disappointing finish, no doubt, but the road there has been different every year, and it's foolish to claim we know the ending before the story is written.