...for all of you who have the day off tomorrow -- and for those of you who don't.
-- The Dallas Morning News' Chip Brown reports that University of Texas' OT Justin Blalock will return to school for his senior year. I don't have the the link handy, but apparently Blalock sought counsel from former Cowboys' GM Gil Brandt, who advised him he would be a late second to third round selection.
-- FS LaRon Landry announced late Sunday he will return to LSU for his senior year.
-- No word on Fresno State C Kyle Young, which means he will stay in school as well.
-- Sean Payton is one of four HC candidates on the Bills' radar. He joins longtime NFL special teams' coach Bobby April, former Saints' HC and former Bills' LB Jim Haslett and former Giants' HC and current Ravens' OC Jim Fassell.
Pittsburgh's win over Indianapolis today could clarify or further muddy Payton's immediate future. Follow this bouncing coaching ball: the Detroit Free Press reports that Jim Haslett and Steelers o-line coach Russ Grimm, a former teammate of Lions' GM Matt Millen are numbers 1 and 1A on the Lions' list. NFL rules prevent teams from negotiating with teams still alive in the playoffs. If the Lions are serious about Grimm, they will have to wait until at least next week to speak with him again. (He interviewed briefly with Millen late last week.) If Detroit likes Haslett, they will likely move quickly to prevent losing him to Buffalo.
Expect this and most head coaching spots to be filled in the next three days. The Senior Bowl begins one week from Monday and should provide the first massive shuffle in prospect ratings.
-- Ranch Report scribe Mike Fisher wonders if the Cowboys slide from 7-3 to 9-7 was the "worst collapse in franchise history?"
In a word -- no. The '86 Cowboys were 6-2 at the halfway point when they faced Bill Parcells' Giants in the Meadowlands. The teams were tied atop the NFC East, though Dallas had beaten New York in the season's Monday Night debut, which was also Herschel Walker's first game as a Cowboy. Landry, with some help from new assistant Paul Hackett, had the Cowboys' offense ranked number one.
Carl Banks forced Danny White from the game early with a vicious sack, but Dallas hung in and was poised to win when Tony Dorsett caught a long pass inside the Giants ten late in the game. But that catch, and several other positive plays were nullified by holding calls against RT Phil Pozderek, who could not handle Banks.
The Cowboys lost the game 17-14; "holding, number 75, offense," became a phrase of shame for Dallas fans and the cruelest blow came when it was revealed that Banks had broken White's throwing wrist.
The win over Dallas would be the second of twelve in a row for the Giants, who would hoist the Lombardi trophy that January. The Cowboys' offense, which had topped 30 points six times in eight games reached 20 only twice the rest of the way. The Cowboys limped to a 7-9 finish, their first losing season since 1965. None of us watching knew it then, but that game marked the passing of the torch from Landry to then youngbloods Parcells and Joe Gibbs. Tom would be gone two years later.
That was the biggest and easily the most painful collapse in club history.