Saturday, December 22, 2012

How the Eagles lost their wings

Not a soul can pinpoint exactly when or how it happened.  Did it happen after the Eagles gave the Cowboys their first playoff win in umpteen years and in doing so being the first time the Reid-McNabb regime went one-and-done in the playoffs?  Did it happen upon trading Donovan McNabb?  Keep in mind that McNabb is still the last Eagle quarterback to win a playoff game.  Did it happen after inking Michael Vick to a rather substantial contract?  What about that "dream team" blather being uttered by back-up QB, Vince Young?  I believe it was a combination of all of these events and then some.

The End of an Era

I to this day believe there has been no quarterback who has received more undeserved criticism than Donovan McNabb.  From the day he was drafted he was booed which would eerily foreshadow what was to come.  I get it, the guy didn't get it done.  He didn't bring a Super Bowl to the City of Brotherly Love, but there is no doubt McNabb had a positive impact (much more positive than negative) on that franchise.  You talk about a man who was the subject of an abundance of criticism throughout his career that one could think that he was a criminal.

The 1-4 record in NFC Championship games are well-documented.  The throwing up in the Super Bowl is well-documented.  He didn't get it done.  It's simple and I get that, but at the end of the day, the man was responsible for a gargantuan amount of regular season success.  Sporting a 98-62-1 regular season record, won nine playoff games (9-7), won four NFC East crowns (not including 2006 led by Jeff Garcia), and he did it all with respectable numbers.  There is no telling what the Eagles could have done if he didn't have multiple seasons derailed by injuries.  He also made the Pro Bowl six times.  This was by no means a scrub.

The guy could play professional football yet at the end of the day, it was never enough.  He couldn't get it done and was eventually ran out of town after a defeat at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys.  It wasn't just that the Eagles lost, it was the fact that they were blown out by a team who hadn't sniffed a playoff win in over a decade and at the same time was the first time ever Reid and McNabb went one-and-done together.  The marriage was over and they would trade him to Washington Redskins.  In hindsight, it appears as if the Eagles made the right decision seeing as how McNabb's career would end, but I don't believe Washington and Minnesota were good fits for him.  I believe McNabb had another good two years left in him had he spent them with Philly.  However, Philly seemed to believe that Kevin Kolb was their savior so they turned to him.  Which I believe was one of many mistakes and contributed to the fall of the Eagles.

The Return of Mike Vick

Vick literally bailed out the Eagles in 2010 and it started in Week 1 after Kolb was injured against the Packers and Vick would engineer a near-comeback win.   A season mired by injury, Kevin Kolb would be relieved by Mike Vick who would go on to go 8-3 as the Eagles starter.  He would have by far the best season of his career.  Leading them to an NFC East crown.  Finishing with a 21:6 TD:Int ratio with over 3000 yards passing, over 600 yards rushing with 9 rushing TDs, and a 100.2 QB rating.  Although it wouldn't end well seeing as they lost to those same Packers again in the Wildcard.  The Packers would go on to win the Super Bowl and Eagle fans were left wondering 'what could have been' once again.  It would lead to an offseason that would once again end up being a huge mistake.

Trying to Buy a Championship

Over the years it's been proven that you just can't buy championships.  The Washington Redskins have proven that and so have the Dallas Cowboys.  Building through the draft (or undrafted free agents) has always been the blueprint to building a championship team.  The Eagles would add themselves to that exclusive list of trying to buy a championship and failing.  Not only did they give Mike Vick a huge payday, but they would give a huge contract to Nnamdi Asomugha.  They also handed out contracts to Cullen Jenkins, Vince Young, Ronnie Brown, and Jason Babin.  It seemed as if every time you looked up, the Eagles landed a coveted free agent.  In hindsight, it has proven to be a mistake just as it happened with previous teams.  Trying to buy a title can lead to chemistry issues and guys being handed starting jobs without truly working hard for it.  Competition within camp is always the best way to build an organization and when you are bringing in high-priced free agents, it's hard to achieve that.

As it also happens, Mike Vick came down to earth from his 2010 season.  In 2011, he looked nothing like the Vick from the previous season and he couldn't stay healthy either.  The wheels had already fallen off after 2011.  Vick's downward spiral would continue into the 2012 season, and now he's lost his job because he was predictably injured again and even when he was healthy, he was turning the ball over way too much.


What ran rampant in the preseason of 2011 was a certain dream team remark by Vince Young.  As a diehard Cowboy fan, I know all about entitlement.  You think you have a team good enough to win a Super Bowl so you become entitled and think you deserve it.  Completely disregarding the fact that you have to go out there and win football games.  That's been the Dallas Cowboys for years.  Thinking that just because they are America's Team and have a storied history, that teams will just lay down and the championships will just continue to pile up.  The Eagles thought because they had one of the most talented teams in the NFL and were due for a Super Bowl run, meant that they should become some sort of a dynasty.  This is the NFL and the other teams just happen to be professional too.  This isn't a watered-down sport and it's any given Sunday.  It may not have been Young's intentions, but he put a huge target on the Eagles back and put unrealistic expectations on the shoulders of men who weren't ready for it.  Not only that, but Vick's comments regarding a dynasty was over the top as well and it illustrated once again that this team had a sense of entitlement.


Through it all, I believe the fall of the Eagles happened mainly because of trading McNabb, trying to buy a championship, and their sense of entitlement.  Not only that, Andy Reid's firing has been long overdue.  It's not that Andy Reid isn't a great coach because he is.  Only God knows where the Eagles would be had he not signed on to be the head coach in 1999.  The bottom line is you just can't keep a job in this league as long as Andy Reid has without getting it done on the big stage.  It's just the way it is.  I'll be the first one to tell you that I'm not a big fan of coaches being fired, but it's time for a change in Philly.  The Eagles have lost their wings in the way the Cowboys did after Jimmy Johnson.  Making bad personnel decisions, having bad drafts, giving out bad contracts, and walking around with an undeserved sense of entitlement.  But at least with the Cowboys, they won Super Bowl rings before they fell off a cliff.  The Eagles didn't win a single Super Bowl after winning the division six times since 2001, going to four straight NFC titles games (2001-2004) and a Super Bowl berth (2004), not to mention another NFC title appearance in 2008.  It's just a damn shame, and now the Eagles will fly off to irrelevance for an extended period of time.  Fly, fly, fly, fly.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Orlando sends a huge message to the Lakers

It wasn't just that the Lakers lost to Orlando, it was in the manner that they lost.  Dwight hilariously misses 12 free throws.  Kobe tries his best to carry the Lakers to a victory and fails yet again(And by the way, his defense is absolutely atrocious now).  The Lakers get a 40 spot hung on them in the 4th quarter.  A quarter where a team that aspires to win an NBA championship, should absolutely out-execute a lottery team.  What makes this loss so alarming is this is the Orlando Magic.  Yeah, that team who sent a flustered Dwight Howard in a 4-team trade to the Lakers while getting almost nobody of substance in return.  On this night, it seems as if they made the right decision.  Ironically, Arron Afflalo(you know one of the main pieces they got in return) absolutely destroyed the Lakers.  The Lakers tonight got a nice dose of karma if you ask me. 

That game couldn't have possibly played out any more perfectly if you are a Magic fan.  The Magic use the Hack-a-Howard strategy that was successful late in the game.  Howard misses his FTs and the Magic follows that up by making 3s on the other end.  Through it all, Pau Gasol was watching from the sidelines down the stretch in which I believe was an absolutely horrible coaching move.  Love D'Antoni, but there is no way you can justify to me that Antawn Jamison is superior to Pau Gasol.  He just can't.  Even more shocking considering they were intentionally fouling Dwight down the stretch.  Pau is one of their best players.  I don't care how bad he's playing, there's no excuse for playing the career-loser Antawn Jamison over him.

This is easily the worst loss of the season for the Lakers and easily Orlando's best win.  The game perfectly illustrated what I've been saying about the Lakers all along:  Kobe is too old to carry this team as evidence of the Lakers being 1-6 in games where he scores at least 30 points this season.  Dwight's maturity is in question and he can't knock down free throws to save a child's life.  There was no defense in sight once again.  You can thank D'Antoni for that.  Nash will not fix this team.  He will only assuage the problem by helping them win more regular season games, but it won't translate to playoff success.

The Lakers are in huge trouble and the fact that they lost to this team of all teams sent a huge message.  Christmas came early for Orlando and the nightmare season for the Lakers continues.  A loss that comes merely two days after having one of their best offensive performances of the season.  My head is telling me that they will turn their season around and win over 50 games, but what they can do in the playoffs is all that really matters in the grand scheme of things.  My opinion hasn't changed, this team is a second round exit at best and I'm seriously leaning towards a first round exit.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dwight Howard must mature for the Lakers to be a title contender

Dwight finished with a 28-20 line against the Nuggets Friday.
Amid the Lakers shooting clinic against the Nuggets in Friday's night's late game, I noticed something:  Pau Gasol put up another yawn-worthy line and Kobe Bryant was almost a non-factor aside from passing.  A brilliant shooting performance from beyond the arc assuaged real problems that the Lakers have.  Pau Gasol's lack of production is a combination of aging and not fitting well in D'Antoni's offense, and Kobe won't be able to carry them night in and night out.  You could see Kobe was playing with dead legs despite the fact that he had multiple days off to shake the flu and get ready.  Granted, Kobe will try his best to carry them when they need him to and if he has the energy to do so, but I don't believe he will be able to when they need it most.  That was evident in the loss against the Indiana Pacers at home when he scored 40 points w/ 10 turnovers in a losing effort.  With all due respect, if Kobe is scoring 40 points, the Lakers have no business losing.  Not when you have Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard on the same squad.  So, they lost to a Granger-less Pacers squad with Kobe, Pau, and Dwight?  That is unacceptable.

Tonight's hot shooting performance will certainly calm down some antsy Laker fans and it gave a glimpse as to what this offense has the potential to be under D'Antoni but make no mistake about it, this is not a championship caliber team. When you bring in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to go with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, you are supposed to be poised for a title run.  The Lakers clearly aren't ready for a title run.  Hell, they aren't ready to make it past the 2nd round.

Certainly, the jury is still out on what this team could do because Steve Nash has yet to lace em up since D'Antoni took over, but you can clearly see the flaws they have.  Tonight was a lot of theatricality and deception, masking the deficiencies that this team has.  Deficiencies that were exposed in the aforementioned battle against the Indiana Pacers.  The lights-out shooting with an abundance of three-point attempts are something we have all grown accustomed to with a D'Antoni offense, but what has his scheme ever led to in the grand scheme of things?

They can't guard the paint even with a dominant defensive presence like Dwight.  Point guards are breaking down their defense way too easily, Kobe is not the defensive player he once was, Metta World Peace is gambling for steals too much, and Pau Gasol almost looks as if he's playing goalie defense waiting for the ball to come to him instead of going to it and contesting the shot.  So when you bring back Nash, who can't guard a door, things could get much worse.  No-defense basketball doesn't win in the playoffs and D'Antoni has proven that and with Nash leading the way.  I don't care if Nash comes back and averages 10 assists a game, Kobe scores his 27 a game, Dwight gets his 20 and 10, Pau gets his 15 and 10, Peace gets his 12-15 points, Jamison gets his 12-15 points, and they average over 120 points a game, it still won't translate in the playoffs.

And just in case you didn't notice, the players I just named off excluding Dwight are only 38, 34, 32, 33, and 36 years-old.  (No kidding).  You think those guys can run at this pace for a full season and still have enough gas in the tank for the playoffs?  This must be some kind of sick joke, right?  Absolutely not.  Anyone with an IQ above room temperature can see this Laker team is not going far in the playoffs with the way this roster is assembled.  They can compete in the West and with luck could win the West, but they are not beating the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.  No way no how unless something drastically happens.

The drastic I'm talking about is Dwight Howard maturing.  Not only physically, but mentally.  If you watched tonight's game, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  He looked as if he was having a little too much fun out there.  Acting like a goofball, shooting a 3 at the end of the game, and generally just behaving like a little kid on the court.  That's Dwight for you.  Yes, he had an outstanding game, but Dwight always has those big games.  This is nothing new.  Those games are nice, but we saw from tonight is not what the Lakers need. 

The Lakers need Dwight to be a bully.  They need him to be mean.  To play with some seriousness.  To play with a chip on his shoulder.  To play like someone who just hates the world.  To play like he hates everybody.  To play like he thinks everybody is after him and trying to impede him from getting where he wants to go.  That's what the Lakers need from him.   Being nice is cute, but that doesn't win championships.  You are in LaLa land now big guy.  The time for playing is over.  They expect championships down there.  You are a long way from Orlando.  If he thought the media storm in Orlando was something, he hasn't seen anything yet.  It wouldn't hurt if he would make some free throws either.  The guy has been flat out atrocious from the line this season.  If your free throw percentage is lower than your field goal percentage, it's time to have a Come-To-Jesus-Meeting.  Also, he needs to eliminate the careless turnovers, and they need him to become a consistent passer out of the post instead of a blackhole.

These same things have been said about Dwight for years so unfortunately for the Lakers, this probably will never be who Dwight is.  Dwight just wants everybody to love him.  He's a fun-loving guy who's a big kid at heart.  Nothing is wrong with that, but he needs killer instinct if he wants to win a title with this team.  Think back to Shaq's early days.  He was the same way.  Having too much fun, being immature, tearing down basketball goals during games and just trying to dunk over everybody.  When Shaq started winning championships, he mostly cut out the immaturity.  Yes, he would still play and joke around off the court, but on the court, he became a bully.  He would foul people hard intentionally, and he would use his big frame to get away with fouls that no player should get away with.  He would even take shots at teams like the Sacramento Kings by coining the "Queens" phrase.  Shaq became a mean player, an adept passer, and most importantly, he knocked down his free throws when he needed to.

That's what the Lakers need from Dwight, because Kobe at the age of 34 on bad knees with a boatload of playoff games on his legs isn't carrying this team to a title.  Pau is declining and the offense doesn't even suit him to begin with.  Jamison doesn't know what it takes to win considering he's always been on losing teams.  Metta World Peace is a walking ticking time bomb.  Jodie Meeks and Steve Blake will only give them so much.  Nash plays no defense whatsoever and he's already experiencing injuries since leaving the Suns, who famously have one of the best medical staffs in the league.  He has missed 14 games for the Lakers.  That's noteworthy considering he missed only 37 games from the time he joined the Phoenix Suns in 2004 and left last season.  By the time Nash comes back, he will have missed nearly 20 games.  Which means he would have already missed nearly half the amount of games for the Lakers than he did his entire time as a Phoenix Sun.  Certainly, age is a contributing factor, but also not having that outstanding medical staff is making a difference as well.

The Lakers have a lot of things going against them:  Age, chemistry, maturity, and a coach with no emphasis on defense whatsoever.  It's hard to see this Laker team making it past the second round.  Wouldn't be at all shocked if they were a first round exit.  The only way the Lakers can go far is if Dwight matures and becomes a meaner and smarter basketball player.  There is nothing wrong with everybody hating you.  That is something Dwight needs to understand.  If nobody is hating you, then you aren't doing something right.  Make them hate you to the point where they have no choice but to love you.  That's what Michael Jordan did.  That's what Magic and Bird did.  That's especially what Bill Russell did at a time where civil rights was in question.  Russell made the city of Boston love him despite his skin color, and he did it by winning.  If he can do it during a time like that, then why can't Dwight do it now?  Just win, Dwight, just win and they'll love you forever.  No matter what it takes.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Be thankful that the Dallas Cowboys are showing heart

I've enjoyed a long Thanksgiving break although on the day we give thanks, the Dallas Cowboys nearly ruined my vacation with a gut-wrenching loss to a bitter rival.  The soar of boos could be heard from miles away as the Cowboys went into halftime down 28-3 after just giving up 28 points in the 2nd quarter.

As a diehard fan, I have to be honest, I never had high hopes going into this game against RG3 especially when Jay Ratliff was ruled out.  Add the fact that they needed OT just to beat the Browns just four days prior.  The Redskins were practically coasting past the Eagles while the Cowboys were in a dogfight just four days before the two teams would meet.  Frankly, the Cowboys just had too many injuries on the defensive front to generate the type of pressure needed to force RG3 into mistakes and didn't have the proper safety play or ILB play to cover the middle of the field.  And I was right once that second quarter hit.  Big play after big play, and the offense didn't do the defense any favors by failing to score TDs earlier in the ball game when they could have ceased control of the game or Romo's interception that contributed to the 2nd quarter surge.

Those injuries were just too tough to overcome.  Injuries are certainly not a good enough excuse because every team has them this time of year.  It's all about surviving and persevering at this point in the season and many teams have done that.  Teams like the Falcons, Giants, Pats, Bears, Texans, and Packers have had their share of injuries but they took care of business when they needed to.  A slow start against the Giants in Cowboys Stadium and a failure to come away with a win in Baltimore despite completely dominating that game is coming back to haunt the Cowboys at this point.  Win those two games, and they are 7-4 at this point instead of 5-6 meanwhile the Giants are a game back for the division lead while already losing twice to Dallas; so essentially a two-game lead.  Yes, the Cowboys spotted the Giants a 23-0 lead and it's hard to say the Cowboys deserved that win, but the fact of the matter is, they ceased control of the game and came all the way back.  And by all means should have won the game.  Dez Bryant just has to make sure his hand isn't out of bounds.  Inexcusable.

But it's the same ole same ole with these Cowboys.  Always good, but not good enough.  If there is a silver lining you can take from that Giants' game, it's the fact that they didn't give up.  That's been a common trend in every game since the Chicago nightmare on Monday Night Football.  You probably wouldn't believe me, but the Cowboys are among the top 5 in the NFL in points scored in the 4th quarter.  They average 9.0 points per game in the 4th quarter which is 4th in the league behind only the Pats, Broncos, and Lions.  It's evident these Cowboys just don't quit

The fact that they dug a 28-3 hole and actually came back to make it 35-28 was a feat within itself.  And there was plenty of time to make a stop and actually tie it, but they just couldn't do it, and came up short.  But don't let that get you down.  Yes these Cowboys are 5-6, yes the Giants made a mockery of one of the NFC's best last night, and yes the Cowboys would need an improbable run to make the playoffs this season, but I'm saying don't give up just yet, because they certainly haven't.

Think back all the way until the Baltimore game after the bye week.  They gave Baltimore all they could handle and came up short.  But remember the two 4th down conversions late in the game by Romo and Witten.  Remember how they refused to give up.  Remember the onside kick being successful and the Cowboys surprisingly almost having a chance to win that game only needing a 51-yard field goal from Dan Bailey.

Remember the very next week as it seemed the Carolina Panthers, coming off a bye, had the Cowboys on the ropes yet the Cowboys fought back to steal the game.  As I mentioned, remember how they battled all the way back from a 23-0 deficit against the Giants.  How about in Atlanta when they refused to give up even though it was clear Atlanta was superior?  And the next week at Philly when it seemed as if  Foles would lead the Eagles to a win after putting them up 14-10.  Romo had an amazing drive that tied the game at 17-17, and then they would proceed to score 21 points in the 4th quarter from defensive and Special Teams TDs.  How about against Cleveland, when they were completely outplayed trailing 13-0 at half and rattled off 17 points in the 4th quarter, and continued to battle back even when it looked as if Cleveland grasped full control of the game?  And of course, we can't forget the way they battled back against the Redskins on Thanksgiving.  For good measure, the Cowboys scored 18 points in the 4th quarter of that one.  So in the last three games combined, the Cowboys have scored 56 points.  For you math wizards, that's almost 19 points a game in just the 4th quarter.

You can say what you want about the Cowboys and their perceived "chokes," but the fact of the matter is, this team hasn't choked this year.  At least not compared to last season where they blew five 4th quarter leads.  If anything, they've risen to the occasion more than they've fallen flat on their faces in the 4th quarter this season.  The problem with the Cowboys this year has been starting games, not finishing them.  Maybe if the Cowboys weren't almost dead last in 1st half scoring on the season, they'd be in position to win the NFC East instead of two games back.  The Cowboys need to figure out a way to start games from here on out if they want to make a miraculous run to the playoffs.

But at the end of the day, I say the Cowboys have dug too deep of a hole to make the playoffs, ironically like they've been doing in football games.  But if there is one good thing that can come out of all this, it's the fact that the Cowboys haven't given up and are showing heart.  In past seasons, the Cowboys certainly would have lost on Thanksgiving by at least four TDs instead of making it respectable.  They certainly would have laid down and quit against the New York Football Giants after falling down 23-0.  Also don't forget they are seemingly losing a starter every single week.  This squad is as depleted as it gets and now Bruce Carter is done for the year.  They've showed a lot of heart in moments when they could have laid down and tapped out.  Even when they lost Sean Lee in Carolina they fought back and still held on to win.  This team isn't quitting any time soon despite what is up against them.  It makes you believe that maybe this team sometime in the near future can become a Super Bowl contender if cornerstone players like Murray, Lee, and Carter can stay healthy.  Heart is something all Super Bowl contenders possess.  The Cowboys have that and now all they need is the talent and depth to go with it.  That is something we as Cowboy fans can be thankful for.

Monday, November 12, 2012

What to make of the Dallas Cowboys win over the Eagles

I'm not quite sure if that was the Chicago Bears or the Dallas Cowboys.  Are you kidding me?  Not one, but two defensive touchdowns?  A Special Teams touchdown?  You mean to tell me that a side of the ball other than the offense managed to put up three touchdowns in the final quarter of a game?  I'd be willing to bet that that has rarely, RARELY happened in Dallas Cowboys history.

Boy does it feel good for the balls to bounce in the Cowboys favor every once in the while.  It only took nine freaking games for the Cowboys to manage a defensive touchdown, and they did it twice in the same game.  I've always felt like my Cowboys just weren't good enough to beat the best teams in the NFL in the last decade or so, but at the same time I felt like they rarely got the breaks as well. 

Yesterday was shaping up as yet another game where they would lose.  A breakdown in coverage saw them trail 14-10 with momentum being heavily in Philly's favor.  They were seemingly making mistakes at the worst times with numerous penalties on 3rd down resulting in 1st downs as Nick Foles was gaining more and more confidence with each drawback.  This had the makings of another one of those close ball games that the Cowboys would lose.

Knowing the season was on the line, Romo did what he always does and doesn't get enough credit for, he kept the Cowboys close and tied the ball game 17-17 with arguably his three best plays of the season.  Dodging a convoy of would be tacklers to convert a pivotal 3rd down was just the beginning.  Then he would cap off the drive with a beautiful throw to Dez Bryant to tie the game.  Whether or not you think it was a catch is up to you.  This is nothing new for Romo.  I criticize Romo a lot, but I do believe he comes through more often than the pundits say he does.  The problem has always been he doesn't get the help necessary needed to finish the game.

That wouldn't be the case yesterday.  After tying the game, Romo wouldn't get the ball back until they were up two scores.  You can count on your finger the number of times Romo had a 14 point lead in the 4th quarter of a game when the last time he had possession, the game was tied.  What transpired in the 4th quarter of yesterday's game was just odd indeed.  I'm sure Cowboy fans were in shock with the way things played out.  We haven't seen anything like that in a long time

But what should we all make of this performance?  Was it just a mirage?  Was it more illustration of a sign of things to come for the Cowboys or does it highlight the serious problems in Philadelphia?  I didn't have the Cowboys winning yesterday and I'm glad to say I was wrong, but what should we really take away from this win?  The Cowboys far exceeded themselves in that 4th quarter.  In a game that looked like it was coming down to the wire, the defense and Special Teams made some big plays to help mask another anemic offensive performance.

The Cowboys D frankly has just been too good to be so unlucky for this long.  They were due for a game like that.  You have to also keep in mind Anthony Spencer had an interception negated by a penalty by Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick dropped two interceptions in which one of them could have went to the house. 

Imagine that, the Cowboys D played aggressive and forced some turnovers and could have easily forced even more than the two they did if not for penalties and drops.  You could see that Rob Ryan's D became a lot more aggressive when Nick Foles entered the game.  It makes you wonder why they haven't always been this aggressive throughout the season.  You see, the Cowboys just haven't been a Jason Garrett problem, it's been a Rob Ryan problem too. This hasn't just been about Romo, Dez, or Garrett.  This is an organizational problem. 

Do I think the Cowboys will pull it off and make a big push towards the playoffs this year and maybe even win the division?  Absolutely not.  Do I think they are capable?  Of course, but things have to go their way.  They need a lot of what happened in the 4th quarter yesterday to beat the likes of Pittsburgh, New Orleans, and even Cincinnati.  Shoot, Washington(2x), Cleveland, and Philly(again) at home won't be a picnic by any means.

Let's face it, this offense is still putrid.  They are horrible at converting 3rd downs, horrible in the redzone, and they don't make enough big plays down the field.  Maybe DeMarco Murray can come back and assuage the situation, but this team still has a lot of issues.  Safety play is still a concern, turnovers are just too hard to come by, MoClaibo will have his bumps in the road, and they still don't have Sean Lee.  Asking the Cowboys to win 10 games is a tall tall order.  Especially for a team that isn't that deep in the first place. 

Enough of this talented crap I keep hearing from the media.  Yes, they may have a talented starting 22, but this sport is all about all three phases and all 53 men.  When someone says to me that the Cowboys underachieve, I honestly don't believe that individual has any clue about this sport.  The best 53-man rosters win Super Bowls.  22 people have never won a SB in this sport.  The Cowboys don't have one of the best 53-man roster in the L and that's why they aren't a Super Bowl contender.

Despite yesterday's win, my opinion hasn't changed of the Cowboys.  Just for once they got some breaks and capitalized, but doesn't mean their season has been turned around.  Yesterday wasn't the team I've come to know for many many years.  That was a different football team that made plays in all phases and didn't beat themselves with stupid turnovers.  I suspect the real Cowboys will show up sooner rather than later.  I still believe they lack the necessary talent and depth to make a playoff push.  I still believe the in-game adjustments from the coaching staff are a huge problem.  I still believe they are far too penalty-prone as they showed even in the win yesterday.  I still believe Romo will make critical mistakes and won't do enough to overcome this team's flaws.  I still believe this pass rush is slightly above-average and the defense as a whole is soft.  I believe the inevitable was only delayed a few weeks.  This is the New York Giants' division to lose.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles

If you read my last article, you would know how livid I am about the Dallas Cowboys and their organization and have basically conceded that they are just an average franchise until proven otherwise.  I'm still holding firm to that opinion, but they do have a chance to keep their season alive with a win tomorrow.

They will be heading into a hostile Philadelphia and will face themselves, literally.  They seem to have their own sitcom down there in Philly as well.  Both of these teams are so eerily similar that it's scary.  Both find ways to lose ball games they should win.  Both turn the ball over at just an astonishing rate.  Both offenses have just been laughable and have trouble scoring touchdowns, settling for field goals.  Both find ways to lose in such a hilarious way.

I give the Cowboys a pass for their woes because I know what they are.  The Eagles have been one of the best ran organizations under the Andy Reid Administration or ARA like I like to call it.  I have been highly critical of the ARA in the past, but it's been highly successful when you look at the resume.  No, they haven't won any Super Bowls, but they've won a lot of playoff games, divisional titles, one Super Bowl appearance, and five NFC Championship Game appearances.

Which brings me to the point that the fact that the Eagles are standing 3-5 right now and almost last place in the division with the ARA still intact, is stunning.  The offensive line has been decimated this year but that is no excuse for the Eagles being 3-5.  They are too deep and talented to have such a poor record.  I expect  this with the Cowboys.  When they lose a key player, they don't have the proper depth to be as successful without that key player.  The Eagles on the other hand are usually pretty deep and have great drafts year in and year out.

Philly heads into gameday knowing they are in the same boat as the Cowboys:  You lose, your season is on life support and if you win, there's still an outside chance you can make the playoffs.  And who knows, maybe the Giants don't pull away and 9-7 wins the division again. 

I don't have a great feeling about the Cowboys chances especially given what happened last week.  I really love the way the Cowboys match up with the New York Giants as they showed in both games against them.  Winning one of them and nearly winning another after trailing 23-0 and had two outstanding defensive efforts in the process.  I'm not so sure they have the same advantage against the Eagles.  Not that the Eagles have better weapons than the Giants, but the way they attack you is in a way that Dallas might have trouble with.

As evidenced last week against the 8-0 Atlanta Falcons, the Cowboys had a tough time covering the middle of the field.  I commend He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named for signing Brandon Carr and trading up for Morris Claiborne, but not bringing in an impact safety is hurting this team.  Regardless of how great Carr and Claibo have been, the secondary still has poor safety play and Scandrick is not a good corner.  Then you add not having Sean Lee for the rest of the season and the middle of the field is ripe for the picking.  Oh, and they have a guy named LeSean McCoy by the way.  He'll be a load to handle.

Last season the Eagles shredded the Cowboys defense in the middle of the field in Lincoln Financial last season as they blew out the Cowboys 34-7.  McCoy also did his thing rushing for nearly 200 yards.  I highly doubt the outcome of this one will be similar, but I think the Eagles will have some success in the middle of the field the way the Falcons did.  Especially if the they can't pressure Vick and keep him from beating them with his feet.  They could also wear down as they did in ATL if the offense doesn't do anything.  That could lead to some huge runs for McCoy late.

I expect a great effort from the Cowboys but it just won't be enough.  I like the Eagles in this one because they are at home and just as desperate as the Cowboys.  If you can recall, the Eagles defeated Baltimore and the defending champion New York Giants at home.  So it is a little surprising that the Cowboys are a one-point favorite in this game.  This is a game that if the Cowboys don't get off to a fast start, it could get ugly really fast.  I think Andy and Vick's jobs will be safe for another week as they win 20-10.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Dallas Cowboys are who they are: An average organization

You are who you are.  That is something that I have always believed in.  Everyone at some point in their lives aspires to be something they are not.  That is not the way you want to go about life.  If you aspire to be something, at least be good at it.  What you hope to be in life should be something that is within your range and not beyond your ken.  You know, they tell you when you are younger that you can be anything you want to be when you grow up.  I've grown up and have learned that that is a bunch of baloney.  You can't be anything you want to be.  You can try, but you will likely fail at most things.  When I was a kid, I wanted to be one of the best professional basketball players the game has ever seen, but by the time I graduated from high school, I stood at 5'11 with no athleticism to speak of.  Yeah, so much for that.  No, I'm not saying that children shouldn't be told when they are young that they can be anything they want to be when they grow up; I'm saying that it's a big crock and when you get older, you'll realize just how full of crap that castle-in-the-sky thinking was.  They tell you a lot of things when you are younger that you find out are full of it when you get older.  That's the facts of life for ya.

Whatever it is you decide to be, it's usually something that you are talented in or good maybe even great at.  At the end of the day, you are who you are.  If you have the talent, athleticism, and size to be an NBA, MLB, or NFL player, then that's what you shoot for.  If you have the skills to be a doctor, then that is what you should be.  If your soul is on the market and you'll do whatever to sell it, maybe you should become a lawyer.  If you are great at being a drug dealer, then that's probably what you should do.  You know, a lot of people in this world are good at being bad; just the way it is.  You are who you are but it just sometimes takes you a while before you figure it out.  Which oddly brings me to these Dallas Cowboys.  They haven't figured it out yet.

There are many criticisms or perceptions about the Dallas Cowboys.  They can't finish games.  They are an accident waiting to happen.  The head coach can't coach.  The QB is a choker.  Those perceptions may be true, but I say it's time for people to accept the Cowboys for who they are:  An average NFL organization who gets press only because they have an owner who is a marketing guru.  We are many years removed from the glory days.  The days of living up to the America's Team pseudonym.  The days of making the playoffs seemingly every year.  The days of winning Super Bowls and building dynasties.  Those days are long over.

This organization began a rapid decline after Troy Aikman was forced into retirement.  A decline that originally began to come into fruition after a bitter feud between He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named and Jimmy Johnson.  A short-lived marriage ended and would be the beginning of the end for a once-great organization.  After years and years of success and jubilation, the Cowboy faithful is now subjected to a laughable, abominable product on the field.  One playoff win in the last 16 seasons says all.  No need to delve into the poor regular season record since 1996, the December woes in the last decade, or the constant shortcomings in big games.  Winning big games was a problem before Tony Romo came into the fray.  The Cowboys just frankly don't know how to win anymore.  It's almost hard to comprehend when they made it look so easy in the 90s.  Times have definitely changed and have taken a turn for the worse.

Yet it's almost as if the Cowboys are still a great organization when you consider they are the subject of much gossip in the media year after year.  But that can be largely attributed to a delusional, braggadocio owner.  An owner who believes this current team is capable of winning a Super Bowl.  A team that doesn't have a single player on it that has won a Super Bowl.  Heck, this team doesn't have a player that has won more than one playoff game on the roster.

That's a lot of talk for an owner who has seen his product produce just one playoff win in the last decade and a half.  One measly playoff win, yet you think the team you have now is capable of coming out of nowhere and winning the three or four playoff wins required to win a Super Bowl?  And here I thought my aspirations of being a professional basketball player was delusional.

The Cowboys will be this way for the foreseeable future as long as this owner is running ship.  Drafts will continue to be porous year after year.  They will never be able to get anything right no matter how hard they try.  Even when they hit on guys like Sean Lee or DeMarco Murray, it's guys who can't stay on the field or had proved to be injury-prone in the past.  The Dez Bryant pick is looking worse by the day.  The negatives greatly outweigh the positive.  They have yet to recover from the forgettable 2009 draft that saw 12 valuable picks go to absolute waste.  Not a single player from that draft is on the current 53-man roster.  I'll never let go of the 2008 draft where they took Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins in the first round when there were better backs such as Matt Forte, Chris Johnson, and Ray Rice who would go later.  I could go a step further with guys like Jordy Nelson, Brandon Flowers, DeSean Jackson, and Jamaal Charles in that same draft.  In a draft that was loaded with talent, the Cowboys could only manage Felix Jones, Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick, and Martellus Bennett out of it.  Hindsight is always 20/20, but missing way more often than they hit has been a common trend for the Cowboys for a decade running.  But this is what I've come to expect from this organization these days.

This will be a team that always comes up short when it matters most.  They will usually collapse late in the season or will find it hard to overcome significant injuries because of the lack of depth due to poor drafts.  They'll tease you and make you think they have what it takes, just as they did in Week 1 against the Giants, but when it's all said and done, they'll show you that they have no guts, no honor, or no heart.  They'll fold like a lawn chair at the first sign of adversity.  This is a mediocre organization who could be on the verge of becoming the new Detroit Lions.  The only thing that the Cowboys do have at this point is entitlement and that's not a good thing.

This may be a little harsh but I believe in my heart of hearts that it's the truth even as a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan for over 20 years.  Cowboy fans will just have to accept the mediocrity.  No matter how much the media shoves them down our throat.  No matter how delusional their owner perceives them to be.  Enough Super Bowl talk.  We should only hope for a playoff berth and playoff advancement.  We can talk Super Bowl when or if we ever become a Super Bowl contender again.  But for now, the fact of the matter is the Cowboys are yesterday's news, not relevant, and will soon become obsolete as long as this owner is running this organization.  Maybe at some point this owner will realize what he isn't, but he is who he ain't so till death do us part.  We as Cowboy fans just need to accept it.  I don't see the culture in Valley Ranch changing any time soon.  This is a country club, not a football organization.  This team has become a laughingstock.  The Cowboys are who they are.