The whole steroids issue is really harshing my gig. I hate having things like that hanging over our heads. I’m still hoping that somehow it goes away without any serious consequences for the Cowboys. I do believe that steroids in football is an issue that will have to be dealt with in a better way than baseball has managed to do, and I think Roger Goodell will do that. I wrote about the steroids issue over a year ago and mused on what kind of commissioner Goodell might be.
But enough of that, let’s get back to other stuff about the Cowboys.
Strangely, JJT and I have been on a mind-meld recently. I know, that could either be good or bad, but he’s penned an article that pretty much lines-up with what I wrote about Flozell Adams yesterday.
At the start of the season, the answer — based on the organization’s actions — seemed clear. The Cowboys, who have had no contract discussions with Adams’ representative, appeared inclined to let him leave through free agency and let Pat McQuistan, James Marten and Doug Free battle for the job, with Leonard Davis available as a fallback plan.
Adams, though, has played so well over the last few weeks that Dallas needed to rethink things. Based on Jerry Jones’ comments the other day that Adams is in line for a third contract, it seems as though the Cowboys have already made their decision.
Yes, Adams will you drive you crazy with false starts from time to time, but when he’s motivated he remains an excellent player. He’s not Seattle’s Walter Jones or St. Louis’ Orlando Pace, when Pace is healthy, but he’s on the next level.
JJT also does some Q&A and I found this one interesting.
Q: Is Roy Williams’ impact on the team diminishing?
TAYLOR: He hasn’t been the impact player this year that he has been in the past. Before the season is over, the Cowboys are going to need him to be a dominant player. We all know he struggles in coverage, but he actually did a pretty good job last week. The Giants tried to isolate him and, while they completed a lot of passes, Williams made all the tackles he was supposed to make and didn’t get beaten deep. He did give up a touchdown, but it wasn’t the end of the world. The Cowboys need him to be a bigger factor when he blitzes and make some plays in coverage. We’ll see if he can get it done.
What JJT said about Roy in the Giants game is all true, I wrote about it here. But I don’t agree with his overall impact being less this year, in fact, I go against the conventional wisdom and say Roy is having a good year just in a different way. I loved Roy as the enforcer too, the guy who blows up the opponents and jacks up the defense. But, I think I’m now coming to realize that in doing those things, Roy was maybe getting out of position on occasion and his loading up for big hits sometimes became bad form tackles. He would miss completely or the offensive player would stay upright and continue running. Granted, he did get the hit more often than not, and offensive players paid the price, but those occasions when he missed were damaging. And being out of position in pass defense can be a killer.
This year, not so much. I’m sure everyone has noticed that we’re not getting beat down the middle nearly as often as we used to and some of that credit is due to Ken Hamlin’s presence, but it might possibly be that Roy is playing a more controlled brand of football. I’ve definitely noticed that his tackling has become much better – especially after that bad play trying to blow up Desmond Clark that failed. So perhaps while Roy’s more visible hits and turnovers are not as present now, it could be that he is just playing more solid football and that is benefiting the Cowboys defense more than we acknowledge.
The Terrell Owens Revival Tour is in full swing. We’ve been hearing T.O. say that greater focus and concentration have led to better results but I never could pin that down as to why he’s playing better. A lot of it has to do with new coaches and Tony Romo, but Bradie James crystallized the improvement for me in this statement.
"He's showing up," inside linebacker Bradie James said. "A lot of people are doubling him but he's so tenacious, at some point when he gets open (Tony) Romo is hitting him. He's had opportunities in the past, but this year I think he's more concentrated and focused on catching the ball and not running before he catches it."
Ah, I just wrote in my film review about the biggest improvement in T.O. that I’ve noticed recently was his hands – he’s not dropping or bobbling passes anymore. As Bradie says, his concentration and focus are helping him see the ball, catch the ball, and then run with it.
Mickey Spags, bless him, takes about a million words to say what’s been obvious, DeMarcus Ware is a stud. I like that Mickey pointed out the same things I did in my film review, that Ware is impressive against the run now and can rundown the ball carrier from anywhere on the field.
The opening of Spags piece revives the old Ware vs. Merriman debate, a debate that many thought the Cowboys lost on due to Merriman’s spectacular start. We aren’t hearing that much anymore. Whether it’s the new coaching staff in San Diego or a dropoff caused by not using steroids anymore, I don’t know. It may be a combination of both.
Merriman, either without the assistance of steroids - earning him a four-game suspension last year - or the defensive scheme Wade Phillips brought from San Diego to Dallas this season, has 5½ sacks.
Merriman is certainly not the terror he was a year ago.