The Aaron Rodgers Effect

Two good quarterbacks. Both have the potential to go number one over all. Only one will.

Tampa Bay is on the clock. As this years scouting combine comes to an end, more and more attention is being put on just who they will select with the number one overall pick. Marcus Mariota is a tremendous athlete with great size and speed. Jameis Winston has great size as well. A solid arm that can make all NFL throws. He has been lauded by his football IQ. Who will Tampa Bay go with?

This is huge for their franchise. General Managers and coaches get fired for not picking the right player or not getting said player to reach expectations. The immediate success of your team evolves around your franchise QB. Great teams seem to have great quarterbacks. Millions of dollars are wrapped up in this player who you believe will learn your system and be the missing piece to restore glory and prestige to your team. There can only be one overall pick. The other player will be thrown back into the pool, just a name on a card until a team puts their hope and future into his hands.

How ironic that it will be ten years since the 2005 NFL draft when San Francisco had this same dilemma. Interesting that Aaron Rodgers was slotted to go number one overall, but Alex Smith ended up being the 49ers pick. Do you remember what happened to Rogders? He slid all the way down to Green Bay at the 24th pick. Green Bay already had Brett Farve, but picked up Rodgers anyway. We all know how that worked out.

Part of the combine is getting medical evaluations of these prospects. Players are given physicals and past/previous injuries are made known. The Dallas Cowboys made headlines when they requested an electromyography (EMG) of Jameis Winston’s shoulder. Not unusual until you see where the Cowboys are selecting from, the 27th pick. Winston just might be the first name called on April 30th. Why would the Cowboys waste time getting an EMG (use of electrodes to analyze problems in muscles or nerves. A graph is charted and then doctors interpret results) to look at the health of a player’s muscles and nerves when he is more likely to be gone? They are certainly being thorough.  If Winston or Mariota are available, they want to be prepared. Yes, fully prepared just in case the Aaron Rodgers rule is in play.

When San Francisco chose Smith, it gave 22 other teams the chance to draft their franchise quarterback. Out of the 22, 15 could have used an upgrade at QB.  All 15 teams passed on him. Dallas and Minnesota passed on him twice. (Dallas went on to select All-Pro LB DeMarcus Ware and 3-4 end Marcus Spears. The Vikings selected Troy Williamson and Erasmus James. James only played three seasons, marred by injuries while Williamson struggled through 5 seasons. He never caught more than 40 passes, gained over 500 yards or scored three touchdowns in any of those seasons.) Out of those 15 teams, only 8 picked a pro-bowler.

Bottom of the basement teams sent out players like Marques Tuiasosopo (Oakland), Gus Ferrotte (Miami), Chris Simms (Tampa Bay) and Trent Dilfer (Cleveland) in 2015. The old saying rings true that hindsight is only 20/20.

The Cowboys don’t want to make that mistake, especially with an aging quarterback. One that has several back surgeries on his list of injuries. Another tidbit of news from Combine was that Jerry Jones believes this soon to be 35-year-old QB with Chronic back problems has up to five more years left in the tank. Will Romo’s body hold up that long? Who knows, but look favors the prepared. We saw what happened last year. Do the Cowboys want to start grooming its future QB now or put it off for later? What do they see in Weeden that we haven’t seen? Is Dustin Vaughn going to continue to develop? Fortunately, it’s not my decision, nor my money.

Jerry did say something that I agree with. The last two years they were in need of some defensive help but chose to go in a different route in the first round. They followed their draft sheets and picked a player on the offensive side of ball. Not bad picks as they turned out to be All Pros- Zach Martin and Travis Frederick.  In years past, the Cowboys have abandoned their draft shhets and reached on some players or let their impulse drive their decision. To their credit, and certainly Assistant Scouting Director Will McClay’s, they have done a better job drafting players that not only fit their scheme but at a good value. What about this year?If their targeted prospects for defensive end and defensive tackle who they graded out as first rounders are gone, what do they do?

Best player available is usually the smartest move.  The Cowboys could pick an offensive tackle, a defensive back or whatever player they graded out as a first rounder. Even a QB like Winston or Mariota if they slide down that far. This is highly unlikely, but the Cowboys would be wise to learn from the past.

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Cowboys vs Packers Preview

Two storied teams battle for the right to play in Conference Championship game.

The Dallas Cowboys face off against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau field. This game between two of the most storied franchises in NFL history will decide who gets to play the Seattle Seahawks for the Conference Crown and a trip to the Superbowl.

The Temperatures will be 15 below freezing. The Cowboys are going against the best passer, probable MVP, in football in Aaron Rodgers. Their dynamic duo of Nelson and Cobb haven’t been contained all year. They have a solid running game in Eddie Lacy and this Clay Matthews led defense can present some troubles for an offense. Not to mention the Packers are undefeated at home this year. So!

The Cowboys believe and they know what they are up against. Besides, there are no Gifts in the NFL. This is a “Take” league. Nothing is given to you. If you want it, take it. The only question is how bad do you want it. This is playoff football; win or go home.

This team has heart and a fight in them. They are and will be up to the challenge. It is not going to be easy, but the greatest accomplishments require the greatest efforts. The Cowboys have been building for this moment. To be in the playoffs, playing with house money, against a juggernaut like Green Bay to prove what they are made of. To go to Lambeau, perhaps one of the worst places to play come playoff time and play their best football. They vowed to finish the fight, and they stand firm in their resolve.

What do the Cowboys have to do to pull out the upset? Jason Garrett speaks of staying true to yourself. Believing in yourselves, your preparation and the system. In its spirit, football is an easy sport. Run, throw, tackle, block and kick. The teams who do this well have the most success. To win, you have to be the stronger and tougher team, mental before physical. Offensive coordinator Bill Callahan said that the team that wins will have to go ” the longest, the hardest…”

Aaron Rodgers may have a Calf injury, but his best quality is still his arm. He has a quick release and is very accurate throwing the ball. That is the main reason he hasn’t been intercepted at home in his last 477 passing attempts that have totaled 38 touchdowns. To buck this trend, the Cowboys will not only have to force quick reads, but react even faster themselves in playing passing lanes and getting deflections and possible interceptions.

The receivers of these throws are usually Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson. Both have caught over 90 passes for over 1250 yards this season. Hard enough stopping one 1000 yard receiver, but they have two. They are both explosive playmakers who brings their own flash to this offense.

Aaraon Rodgers aerial attack is a thing of beauty but they have become a little more run conscience with the emergence of Eddie Lacy. He is a tough back that fights for every yard. The physical play of this run game has only been cranked up as the season progressed. In the first 10 games, Lacy went got over 14 carries in a game once. In the last six, he was 5 out of six with his biggest workload the last game of the season to clinch a bye and the division as he rushed for 100 yards on 26 carries. Interesting to note that in this high scoring offense, he only has a score in 43% of their games but this is playoff football. This number shouldn’t be an indicator. Anything can and will happen.

This Green Bay offensive line is the unsung heroes of the offense. Rodgers release still needs time to survey and plant his feet. They feel disrespected with how much praise and honor is bestowed on the Cowboys unit and want to show that they are just as good, if not better. They will be motivated, especially trying to protect a banged up Aaron Rodgers.

As good as this offense is, and it is prolific, they could use another weapon like a Jason Witten or a Cole Beasley to compliment what they do. The Cowboys are hoping that all their array of playmakers shine this game. One matchup to watch is how the Packers defend Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar. This could be a mismatch.

The Packers rush Defense took a blow early in the season with BJ Raji suffering season ending injury. He was so important at clogging up the middle and taking up blockers. The lineman are not stellar, but they do their job. This defense is highlighted by Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers, combining for 18 sacks and 3 interceptions. Peppers also boast 11 pass deflections. When you prevent big plays and cause big plays you are a disruptive force and Green Bay will move him around to bring the most pressure on opposing Qbs.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are 35-5-1 in the last five seasons at Lambeau field. While they do hold a significant home field advantage, especially in cold weather, they are not unbeatable. The Cowboys can take heart that they are 1-2 in the playoffs during that span. If the Cowboys plan in winning, they will have to step up on Defense.

Fill in the gaps, make proper reads, and don’t miss tackles. The safeties will have to look to make plays, not necessarily the big hit. Play sound football and continue to force turnovers. The corners have been making plays when they need to and though banged up, the linebackers remain the heart and back bone of this defense. They are constantly fighting and setting the tone. While the pass rush is still not prevalent, they remain poised to have an impact on this game.  Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Lawrence will have to be factors in all four quarters. Do they have enough talent to get the job done? Defensive coordinator Rod Marrinelli stated that he “believes in these men. Cause of their attitude, work ethic and they’re tough.” We will see how tough.

Jason Garrett has this team ready for this game. They are “Locked in at the task at hand.” As he has preached all year, and every year he has been here, it’s a process. Taking it day by day and being great everyday. It’s all about bringing your A game. Will the Cowboys A game be good enough? Time will tell.

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Cowboys vs. Lions recap

A win is a win. No matter how ugly it is. Their Victory over the Lions puts Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys one win closer to their dream.

The Dallas Cowboys will be advancing to the Divisional Round of the Playoffs thanks to their comeback win at home against the Detroit Lions.  The Cowboys scored 17 unanswered points to stay alive in their quest for a sixth Championship.

It was plain out ugly in all phases of the game early on but they battled back and came out with a Victory. The first possession of the game for Detroit saw Golden Tate beat Barry Church in a double move for 51 yards on a score. Their second drive was kept alive by DeKoda Watson with a “running into the kicker” call. Ironically, Watson was signed for his special teams play. This call extended the Lions drive on fourth down. The Cowboys would have had not only good field position but momentum. Instead, the Lions proceeded to drive down the field (99 yards total) and score on a Reggie Bush 18 yard scamper into the end zone.

During this first quarter, the Cowboys could not establish the run, nor connect with their passes. Throughout the game, Detroit dialed up wonderful blitzes that disrupted the Cowboy’s passing game.

The Cowboys would later answer in the second quarter with a 76 yard catch and run by Terrence Williams. Detroit would go on to get two field goals, but nothing else. Two key calls went the Cowboys way. A pass interference call was overruled and on a Cowboy drive, the Lions were called for pass interference. These two calls gave the Cowboys life and helped turn the game around.

The game wasn’t pretty like the last three offensive showings for the Cowboys, but in the end, they stepped up and made crucial plays on offense and defense to win the game. The Cowboys started to make more tackles and get more stops in second half. On offense, Jason Witten and Cole Beasley found holes in this stellar Lions defense to pick up the chains and get back into the game. On the last drive for Dallas, Romo found Terrance Williams cutting back across the end zone for a score that would be the game winner. Rookie DeMarcus Lawrence had not had the season he or Cowboy fans expected, but in a win or stay home moment, he played his best football on Detroit’s last drive coming up with a sack-strip and redeeming his prior fumble. This sealed the game for the Cowboys and punched their ticket to Green Bay where perhaps the best offense in the league and “the frozen tundra” awaits.

What a game. What a comeback. How do you gut out a win in the playoffs like that? ESPN’s Tim McMahon heard Jeremy Mincey, who had a pass deflection that led to a pick and a sack, say it best: “Heart, Baby! Heart!”

Here are some of the things that the Cowboys will look to correct as they advance in the playoffs.

Defense: The Defensive strategy was good to limit big plays against the Lions, but was poorly executed for most of the game.The Dallas defenders were out of position, made bad reads and poor tackles. This kept them on the field for longer periods of time and weakened them. They need to play with more discipline and improve their tackling skills. The defense is to be commended for capitalizing on an opportunity, making stops when they had to, forcing 4 fumbles and an interception and getting 3 sacks.

Offense: The offense will have to find better ways to get their Running game involved. They could use more power and zone schemes than what they showed against the Lions. What good is having an All-Pro guard if you won’t reward him and let him pull for the NFL rushing leader who ran well with his limited touches… The offensive line struggled to open up lanes for the rushing game, struggled to protect Romo at times (gave up a total of 6 sacks) and picking up the Blitz. Communication and recognition goes a long way in beating the blitz. Look for the Cowboys to adjust their longer routes into quick slants and spot routes in blitz situations.

Coaching: Good game plan, but players couldn’t execute early in game. Great adjustments made at half time. This game was ugly. The type that all coaches love come practice/ film study. Plenty of things to work on, but you get the chance to do so as you advance to the next round. Get to work! Green Bay is going to be a tough game.

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Cowboys vs Lions: Keys to the game

Cowboys face off against the Detroit Lions in the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs.

The Cowboys are out of their rut of 8-8 seasons. The NFC East Champs are in the playoffs where Romo is 1-3. What do they need to do to get the win versus Ndamakong Suh and the Lions?

1. Control the clock. Run the ball. Pick up first downs. Running the ball will also gas out this Defensive front and give Romo more time on passing downs.

2. Get the gimmes. Convert on short yardages and goaline opportunities. Win your one on one matchups on offense, and on defense don’t lose yours and don’t miss tackles. If you have to kick field goals, make them. Force holding calls and pass interference calls. Turn their mistakes into opportunities and score off of them.

3. Don’t let Calvin Johnson turn into Megatron. Keep him human. Get to Stafford. Speed up his clock. Play physical with him and throw different looks at him and Johnson. But don’t forget about Golden Tate. He is their leading receiver this year.

4. Be bigger than the moment. Don’t let your emotions get the best if you. Play sound football and trust your preparation. Stay focused on the task at hand. Your only goal is to win. Match their intensity and be willing to fight for 60 minutes.

(Talent + Preparation) x Opportunity ÷ (Teamwork – Mistakes) = Winning

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Dallas Cowboys, Back Home in Playoffs

After three straight 8-8 seasons, the Cowboys find themselves 12-4 and hosting a playoff game.

AT&T Stadium. Playoffs. Dallas Cowboys, home team? It may have seen improbable after the way this Defense played last year and the over all, average play over the past four or five years, but today the Cowboys will be hosting former Highland Park quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions.

The past seventeen weeks have confirmed that not only do the Cowboys belong with the top teams in the league but they have a formidable offense that can go toe to toe with anyone. The Cowboys rank highly in points, yards and touchdowns and are number two in rushing yards.

The punishing rush offense, combined with the dynamic passing game has given Dallas a shot in every game that Tony Romo has played in. This offense is well-balanced and one of the most talented in the NFL with six Pro Bowlers, all who made the AP All- Pro teams as well.

The question comes down to this. Can the Defense make enough plays and get enough stops to close the deal and “Finish the Fight?” The Cowboys safety play remains suspect, their pass rush remains absent (and no Henry Melton) and while they have been battling all year, the War is reaching its climax. The biggest tests remains before them. 

The Auto-Boys and their 26th ranked passing defense will be asked to stop Megatron, Calvin Johnson, and Golden Tate. This is not a one man mission. They have to stop the run, force Stafford into mistakes, cloud the zone, and be mindful of where Johnson is at all times. No doubt he will be doubled and shaded during the game and Marinelli will give him different looks. With good reason. He is one of, if not the best receiver in the game. Add to that what he accomplished when these two teams last faced off. Megatron ripped the face of the defense off, burning them for 329 yards, and a Touchdown. Be it scheme or talent, the Cowboys were outclassed. There was nothing they could do with one of the mist athletically gifted receivers in the History of the game (Johnson is 6’5, close to 240 pounds and runs a 4.3 forty). When asked why they call him Megatron, they replied because he is built like a machine.

But don’t forget about Golden Tate, their leading receiver in yards and receptions. He is crafty and has become a good target for Stafford. The fourth quarter if the season was a good one for Brandon Carr. He and Orlando Scandrick must continue to make plays and deflect passes if the Cowboys want to be solid on Defense.  Much have been talked about the dirty play by Tate against Sean Lee but the biggest revenge will be to win, to knock him and his team out of the playoffs.

The offensive line will also be tested. The Lions have the best rush Defense in football. Two months ago, Arizona came into Arlington with their NFL best Rush Defense and limited DeMarco Murray to 79 yards. What will be the outcome today? While Detroit will be without Nick Farley, Ezekiel Ansah and Ndamukong Suh will look to wreak havoc on this line. Not only do they stop the run, but they also put pressure in the quarterback. Ansah has 7.5 sacks and Suh has 8.5.  With everyone watching, the Cowboys line looks to prove that they are worthy of being called the best offensive line in football.

Dez Bryant will play a huge part in this game. Hopes are that he doesn’t let the paper on the sideline affect how he plays against the players in the field. Greatness in your field and area if expertise makes you want to accomplish more. It fuels more. Gives you something to thrive for more. Competition isn’t a bad thing and we all need things that measure us. This Dez vs Calvin story will be a apart of the game, but it shouldn’t be “The” game. The Cowboys have their game plan in place. If they stick to it and exercise matchups, Dez should get his own touches. And when that time comes, look for fireworks.

Romo is 1-3 versus the Lions and all those games have been close. In those four games, he has completed 67 percent of his passes, averaged almost three touchdowns and a pick. The biggest difference is the resurgence of the rushing attack and the rise of DeMarco Murray. Can he get the job done in his playoff game? If he can’t can Romo pick up where he left off in December where he had 12 touchdowns to only one interception with a passer rating of 133.7?

Without a doubt, this is the most talented offense the Cowboys have had in years. The players are playing at a high level and the coaches have them focused and ready. Tony Romo has more weapons than he knows what to do with at times. He can hand it off to the Rush King or throw it to the Touchdown Maker. He has the best safety valve anyone fan ask for in Jason Written who understands this offense and what the opposing team wants to do like no other. Cole Beasley always seem to be open and Terrence Williams is your big play threat. When you get in the Red zone, you can play big boy football or find one of the biggest red zone targets you have in Gavin Escobar. All while being protected by three All-Pro lineman in Tyron Smith, Zach Martin and Travis Frederick.

This Cowboy team has a different feel to it. Romo looks different. Different can be good. Championship contending Cowboys seem like a natural look. Like this is who they were supposed to be. They look right at home.

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Keys to the Game: Cowboys vs Cardinals

This is going to be a great Matchup.

  1. Eliminate big plays for Carson and the Cardinals. They possess explosive Wide Receivers and use their RB in the passing game.
  2. Minimize the loss of Justin Durant. No missed tackles. Cover the flat, cautious of wheel route. Don’t bite on play fakes/action.
  3. WR/TE must win one on one matchups and catch what Weeden throws. No dropped passes. Be more physical than they are.
  4. Protect the ball. The Cowboys only losses have came in games where they have turned the ball over three times. The cardinals are to good for us to waste possessions or give the ball away.
  5. Avoid long third downs. Cowboys are facing a team that loves to blitz. Limit their chances by staying ahead of the chains. If you gamble on first down, make sure it is a safe one. Don’t get pretty with play calls. Put your QB in good position to convert.
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Can Cowboys Overcome Cardinals?

Now is when all those one on one matchups will pay off. Both of these guys will have to bring their “A” game…

The Dallas Cowboys (6-2) are set to face off against the Arizona Cardinals (6-1) today at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys will have to go against this mighty opponent without Justin Durant who was lost for the year with a torn Bicep. They also will most likely, be without Tony Romo who has now went from a bruise, to a contusion, to fractured back. These are two of your top six players on your team now. But so be the grind of playing in the NFL. Injuries happen. Either you are lucky to have the injury bug hit where you have depth or good enough that it doesn’t hinder you from achieving success. The Cowboys are hoping for both.

Brandon Weeden will get the start for Dallas. Last week he performed well in what was a sample size of playtime. This week Weeden will be fed a main course. The Cowboys hope that what they are loosing in play making ability and knowledge of Defenses will be negated by  Weeden’s arm strength and momentum.

On Defense, the Cowboys look to Anthony Hitchens, rookie out of Iowa, to step up in the place of Durant. He has already shown he can make plays when asked, and has started this year. The Cowboys were mocked for picking Hitchens, but they knew exactly what they were getting and the pick has payed off.

With Romo out and DeMarco Murray leading the league in rushing, you would think that the Cowboys will just run the ball down the Cardinals throats. Easier said than done. Arizona only gives up 77 yards on the ground a game, second in the NFL. They have yet to see a runner go over 84 yards (LeSean McCoy) and only one team has rushed for  a 100 yards on them. (Eagles) So even with this line, it will be hard to win the edge in the running game.  The other dynamic is that while they are stellar at rush defense, they are dead last in passing yards per game at 311.  These numbers are misleading in the fact that they played Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers.MNot only that, but you have one of the best Corners in the league in Patrick Peterson back there who is dynamic as any corner we have seen in the last 15 years.  If Dez is looking to redeem his self and release some frustrations, now would be a good time. Or maybe Weeden can use his arm strength to go deep to Williams or fire it in to Gavin Escobar who was quite Monday. This receiving corp will have to come up with plays to help out their quarterback.

Weeden and this Cowboys offensive line will also have to Combat the Cardinals blitz packages. Last year, the Cardinals blitzed more than any other team at 49% of all drop back passes and they show no signs of letting up. Last week, the Cowboys struggled to find the answer to Washington’s blitzes.  With a backup QB who sometimes locks onto receivers, look for Arizona to not only bring the blitz but be creative with it.  The Cowboys need to get the plays in to Weeden fast, avoid 3rd and longs, pick up the blitzes better than they did the last week.  The line will have to hold their lives edge blocks longer since Weeden does not possess the ROMO-bility to extend plays and avoid rushers. The pocket needs to be set and allow him to make plays there. Overall, the Cowboys have a good offense. They can run or pass and are ranked 6th in the NFL in scoring efficiency. With all the Talent Weeden has around him, he doesn’t need to wow anyone. Do his job and trust his team mates and preparation.


Carson Palmer is playing terrific football right now. He is showing excellent control in Bruce Arian’s offense. He has been savvy and efficient and the Cardinals have yet to lose with him under center this year. They are one of the most talented offensive teams on paper. Two studs at wide receiver and a blazing rookie who is eager to gain targets and make a name for himself, a TE who gets over looked sometimes, and two running backs who can beat you any type of way coming out of the back field in Arrington and Taylor.

This Cowboys Defense will face its toughest task yet. Though they are tied 4th in pass deflections and 12th in pass defense, they are 19th in stopping the run and overall efficiency.  To become a better Defense, they need more front line attack and better play from their suspect secondary. They have the ability to play better than what we have seen. Is today the day that it all comes together for them? One thing to look forward to is rather those deflected passes will turn into more intercepted passes. 

Those familiar with the Cowboys know how well they have played in the November the last week ten years, Tony Romo has a 24-5 record in November. The question is rather the trend will continue or will the Arizona Cardinals get the best of Brandon Weeden and the Cowboys? We are about to find out…

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Weeden Wednesdays Work…

For seven straight weeks, Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo has sat out practice on Wednesday.  Brandon Weeden have took all of the snaps for Romo on this day.  This rest has been a huge help to Romo as he still is recovering and more so, protecting his back that he had off-season surgery on for the second time.

Since week two, Romo has looked and played better than many of us had hoped he would. He was effective and efficient. The running game has helped, but all have attributed his performance to his weekly sabbatical.  Rest is good, in the last three games Romo has tooken at least one hit that has left him in pain. The last of such came on Monday night with 7:50 left in the third quarter against Washington.  A knee to the back from Linebacker Keenan Robinson left Romo throbbing in pain on the field for minutes. You knew that he was hurt, and hurt bad. Flashbacks of last years game flew through your mind. Did he reinjure the same disk? WWasit a different disk? Was it a fracture? Would he miss significant time? Would he need another surgery?  Then our focus turned to a different Cowboy.

We looked at Brandon Weeden. Many were unsure of what he could do. Like the third string QB starting for Washington (Colt McCoy), Weeden had been born, beaten, ripped to shreds and sacrificed for the Browns. Cleveland- Home of the Broken Quarterbacks.  Your passion and confidence are torn from you.

But that was not what we seen Monday Night. Weeden came into the game and he looked comfortable. More importantly, this team looked comfortable. Plays got in. Players got lined up and Weeden did what every backup quarterback should do, don’t mess up.  Be ready. And trust your preparation.  Weeden put the ball in the hands of DeMarco Murray and let his work horse do work. Murray went on to rush for over 140 yards. When Weeden needed to pass, he stepped and made good throws. Each of his six throws were on target. Weeden had two drives, and led Cowboys to points in both. Maybe if Dez Bryant had a little more magic left, both drives would have been for Touchdowns.

Showing the heart of a Champion, Romo came back onto the field after pleading his case to all medical personnel for the Cowboys and was allowed to return to game action. Weeden’s day was over. He finished the night 4 out of 6 attempts for 69 yards and a Touchdown.  Obviously the added reps he has been getting on Wednesdays and earlier on in Training Camp have paid off.  Not only him, but Wade Wilson and Jason Garrett are to be commended on how they have approached this opportunity and gotten Weeden ready for this moment. The team trusted him and he did not dissapoint.  Though the Cowboys eventually lost in Overtime, Weeden’s play was a positive for the Cowboys as we know what he can do in a game.

Romo received a CT scan on Tuesday along with other medical tests. It appears that his back was just bruised and no other new damages have formed, but we are still waiting on official report.  If he checks out, Romo will be on the field Sunday versus Patrick Peterson and the Arizona Cardinals. On the side line, ready for when and if his number is called will be Brandon Weeden.

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Cowboys Roll Dice On Rolando

The Dallas Cowboys added another Line backer for training camp. 2010 first round (8th overall selection) Rolando McClain is now a Cowboy.

The Cowboys are still trying to find a solution for the problem at middle linebacker. The linebacker group was hit with a strong blow when Sean Lee went down in OTAs with a torn ACL. The Cowboys have mainly been using players on their roster like Justin Durant and fourth round pick Anthony Hitchens trying to fill the void.

It has been speculated that they would seek to get someone in Free Agency, but the Cowboys instead traded a conditional sixth round pick to the Baltimore Ravens for Rolando McClain and a seventh round pick on Tuesday. McClain retired after the 2012 season and hasn’t played in a game since.

The Former SEC Player of the Year was never the player he was at Alabama in the NFL. He struggled in pass coverage and did not make enough plays in the running game to be a dominant player that many expected him to be. While playing for the Oakland Raiders, he saw his playing time diminish. As the result, in 2012, he was kicked out of a practice after an argument with his coach.

During all of this, McClain was also dealing with problems off the field. McClain was arrested several times on different crimes from his window tint being too dark to gun charges. So the perceived poor decisions followed him. His talent, however, is something that you can not deny.

McClain has all the physical tools at 6 foot 3 inches tall at 259 pounds with a 4.6 forty yard dash time. He looks the part and during his tenure in the NFL, he did show some flashes in his limited production. In the three years in Oakland, he averaged 81 tackles a season. (Only six tackles a game) This just wasn’t enough. He only had five games were he had 10 or more tackles and only registered 6.5 sacks and one interception.

The questions that need to be addressed are rather he is committed physically and mentally to play Football and can he be a player for the Dallas Cowboys and Marinelli in this Tampa 2? The Tampa 2 requires its middle linebacker to play in zone and in man coverage. Most of the time he will be responsible for anything under the middle or the Tight end in man to man coverage. Your middle linebacker is expected to cover and hold his own there. Can McClain handle these responsibilities? Has the defensive staff and scouts seen enough film on him to believe that he can or that Marinelli can work with him enough to get the job done?

Just what are the Cowboys thinking in bringing in a player like McClain with all this baggage? He can’t be a “right kind of guy” for this team can he? It is a gamble, but one Dallas is optimistic about. The Cowboys have a linebacker on the team with some middle linebacker experience. He is only going to be 25. Training camp is just a little over three weeks away. The Cowboys want to make sure that not only they have the right players in position but they have extra bodies for the grueling days of practicing. And it is also little risk. If he plays well and makes the team, you only lose a sixth rounder. If he doesn’t, you only swap picks in the seventh. The risk reward factor is heavily in Cowboys favor. So even if he doesn’t pan out or reretires for the third time, the Cowboys don’t lose much for kicking the tire on a talent like McClain.

Reports show that he couldn’t finish, let alone pass the condition testing with the Ravens and allegedly didn’t want to perform linebacker drills. We will have to see how bad Rolando wants it. Is his hunger deep enough that he will do whatever this staff ask him to do? How quickly can he learn the playbook and what impact will he have on this team, because with Jason Garrett on the hot seat, if he can help the Cowboys win then he is certainly a “right kind of guy” in the eyes of his coaches and cowboys fans who long to return to the promised land.

This also lets you know what they think of the talent that is out there in Free Agency. While this is not the end all be all for transactions, the Cowboys went the route they did instead of going with a player like Jonathan Vilma, Stewart Bradley or Pat Angerer. The Cowboys could also add a player after the first, second or final round of cuts before season starts.

Is McClain the answer to the puzzle at middle linebacker or this Defense? Who knows. But the Cowboys will roll the dice and hope for the best.

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Creating a Winning Culture

The Dallas Cowboys have had its fair share of ups and downs. Here lately however, they have been experiencing more downs. They have one playoff win the past 18 years. Haven’t made the playoffs since 2009 and has gone 8-8 with a chance to end that drought the last three seasons. This organization that boasts 13 Hall of Famers and 5 Superbowls have lost its touch. What can they do to get it back? Do they have enough in them to want to get it back?

Jason Garrett, team head coach, speaks about a process and a culture that you have to fall in love with. We might be seeing that culture take shape.
The Cowboys far too many times made acquisitions that made too much noise in the news and not enough noise on the field. If this team had big money, then they went out and got the biggest fish they could catch. Sometimes their catch was too big for the boat. Other times they found out that the fish wasn’t big. It was just big boned. There was nothing there really. So in both cases, the catch was eventually thrown back. Lately they have not had the cap to do this. This might turn out to be a blessing. Not only are they forced to look elsewhere for talent but they had to take a long look in the mirror. How did America’s Team get put in the middle of nowhere? We are made stronger and smarter through our failures and mistakes. The Cowboys are realizing what they did wrong and are trying to correct it. Please be advised, this takes time.

The best way to build your team is through the draft. In any scouting, you have to know who you are and what you need. Once you know, you can evaluate who fits that mold and see what they offer. No stat is more telling than the Cowboys only have four players on their roster that they drafter prior to 2010. (Witten, Spencer, Free and Scandrick) Pause. Let that sink in.

One thing of note is the exceptional job the Cowboys have done in finding undrafted players that have hunger and talent. Barry Church and Tony Romo are the first ones to come to mind. Particularly since they are starters for us in positions of high importance. Somehow they keep getting these guys who perform well with the skill set for the NFL. Cowboy fans are hoping that this doesn’t change, especially with the new crop of UDFA at the rookie mini camp that is going on right now.

The Cowboys seemn to be trusting their scouts, believing in their coaching staff and hoping they can become Championship Contenders again. They are making one football move at a time and taking it one day at a time. Will these moves pay off? Time will tell. In the mean time DeMarcus Ware will be missed. The Ghosts of past drafts will continue to haunt. They can’t run from it, only out their best foot forward.

The NFL is a popular sport. But it is not a popularity contest. Its not a nursing home either. This is a now league. No one cares about what you once were. Its all about what you can do for this team at this moment and going forward. Do you fit in with what we are doing and can you make us better? Pride, Integrity, Leadership and a Strong work ethic are what you are looking for in players. These are the players that turn into stars. They prove their worth everyday and are not content with anything short of greatness and expect those around them to do the same. A locker room of players like this with a desired goal and purpose will put you in a position to Win every Sunday.

An organization is not going to make the right moves every time, but they can not be afraid to obtain greatness.
You can look around and see the Culture being created. They have pieces in place and they are building. Its been a long hard road, but they can see something forming. The Cowboys can’t wait to see the fruitage of their labor.

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