Entering Week 10, the Cowboys have afforded themselves the opportunity to partake in the 2011 playoff hunt with a record of 4-4. Once a team reaches eight games, you normally have a picture of which teams are in a position to make a stretch run, and which teams needs a little seasoning. Sure, surprise teams catch fire late in the year, but for the most part, 8-10 teams remain a part of the chase.
Dallas currently sits alone in second place of the NFC East, two games behind the New York Giants. Their .500 record contains both promise and worry, as questions abound as to what kind of team we'll be reflecting on come season's end. For now, though, we know they have a shot to do damage; sitting within striking distance of the easiest path to the playoffs.
Follow the jump for a stroll around the web to see the latest on the Cowboys and their rivals.
"I do have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Johnson," Garrett said. "I had the good fortune of playing for him for two years and have learned a tremendous amount of football from him when he was a head coach, just seeing how he operated. And since then, in many conversations that he and I have had. That could be an opinion he might have and other people might have. But right now, we feel good about the structure we have on our staff and that is what we will do going forward."
Myself personally, I don't recall many coaches that went 9-7 in their first season following a coach who was 6-10 being asked about relinquishing control of a unit. But this is Big D after all.
With Miles Austin out 2-4 weeks, the Cowboys will need additional depth at the wideout position. Owner/GM Jerry Jones says that the team won't be looking to sign a receiver from outside the organization.
"We've got some options," the Cowboys owner and general manager said during his weekly radio appearance on 105.3 The Fan (KRLD-FM). "We have [Dwayne] Harris on the practice squad and that will be where we limit it to. We won't do anything away from the roster."
The sixth-round pick from this April's draft was demoted a couple of weeks ago and has been spending time on the practice squad. He flashed plenty of potential in the first preseason game, but has struggled to find his niche since.
Here's a coverage map for you. CBS is sending their A-Team, but you still might have trouble viewing it over most of the country. Remember, if the game isn't broadcast in your area, you can get real time coverage by following me on the BTB Twitter account @BloggingTheBoys.
NFC East / NFL
Dallas Cowboys: Wide Receiver Miles Austin had a poor overall rating last year due to seven penalties, and the fifth-worst run block rating. Now he has just one penalty and an average run block rating.
New York Giants: Tight End Jake Ballard was given just six snaps last year, but now is making them forget Kevin Boss. He’s had 2.56 Yards Per Pass Route Run; the highest for any TE in 2011.
Philadelphia Eagles: After not starting since Week 9 of the 2009 season, the Eagles have made the most of left guard Evan Mathis. His +8.5 run block rating is significantly higher than any other left guard this year, with +4.9 being the closest.
Washington Redskins: Unfortunately, the two players who have seen the most improvement are Tim Hightower (on pass plays) and Kory Lichtensteiger (in pass protection), have both landed on injured reserve.
The NFL doesn’t want "All-22″ game film — the "eye-in-the-sky" view that coaches use to analyze their teams and their opponents** — released to the public because "it would open players and teams up to a level of criticism far beyond the current hum of talk radio… [F]ans would jump to conclusions after watching one or two games in the All-22, without knowing the full story."
This is, of course, ridiculous. Obviously the argument doesn’t work, because if anything the All-22 would clarify the hasty conclusions fans and commentators already jump to on the basis of poor angles and little information.
Good read here, and of interest to bloggers and writers everywhere. Highly recommended.
The article spends entirely too much time talking Jets (I'm being biased, Aaron Schatz is awesome with the wizardry), but it did contain the following nuggets:
- Over the last 20 years, NFC East teams have spent the following number of weeks with the highest DVOA rating (overall rank in parenthesis): Philadelphia 41 (1st) , Dallas 26 (3rd), NY Giants 11 (13th), Washington 0 (lol).
- Unfortunately, Dallas hasn't performed the feat since 1997. D'Oh!
- Total DVOA rankings: Giants (6th), Eagles (14th), Cowboys (16th), Washington (24th)
NEW YORK GIANTS
GM Jerry Reese vindication, TE sensation Jake Ballard, San Francisco 49er trepidation and more.
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who also missed the Week Nine win over the Patriots, also did not take part in practice for the Giants on Wednesday. He’s dealing with a stress fracture in his foot and Coughlin said that there’s been some progress in Bradshaw’s condition. He stopped short of ruling him in for the 49ers game, though.
"We’ll see. He’s better, as I said, than he was last week and he’s walking around, that kind of thing. If he keeps getting better, we’ll see."
Hakeem Nicks did some running and cutting at full speed today. Thursday, he’ll do individual drills. If all goes well, he’ll practice Friday. And if there are no setbacks, he’ll play on Sunday.
But so far, the Giants’ wide receiver is only one step into that process, so he’s being cautiously optimistic he can play on a strained hamstring
Prince Amukamara remains a practice-only player. But he hopes that's about to change. The rookie cornerback played "a few snaps" with the first team defense on Wednesday.
"Just proving myself," he said. Will he prove enough to coaches to play Sunday in San Francisco? That's a question that will likely be answered later this week.
Remember when the talk was that Dallas was going to select Prince at #9?
1. Coach Mike Shanahan re-iterated his belief in John Beck and Rex Grossman. And, yeah, he staked his reputation again on them. Shanahan also took another shot at the roster he helped build.
"I believe in both quarterbacks and I have to give them the right supporting cast," Shanahan said. "It’s my job and I’m going to get them the right supporting cast.
"I understand there will be growing pains. But I have to give them the right supporting cast, when we do that I feel very good about our guys."
Fun times in DC. Talk radio has been stinging Shanahan this week, noting that he can't talk trash about his son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and the job he's doing. Also, they are questioning his reputation as a quarterback guru. Which is funny, because I can't recall whom he helped develop while being a head coach, and couldn't back when he was hired last year.
Wide Receivers: DeSean Jackson, Phi (-2.6)
Receivers who drop the ball make my life a lot easier when it comes to writing this article. Jackson is seemingly trying to play himself out of the franchise tag...
Cornerbacks: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Phi (-3.9) and William Gay, Pit (-4.8)
DRC may go down as one of the biggest wastes of talent in recent memory. I saw him play so well with my very own eyes in 2009, but this guy’s look beyond useless and at times disinterested.
Also on the team were Washington's Stephen Bowen (-3.2) and Rocky McIntosh (-3.6) No Cowboys or Giants on this one.
Comments section show that some fans might have grown weary of the head coach's press conferences following losses. Seems so familiar...
Hat Tip To JasonB of BGN for posting this. Ladies and Gentlemen... Your Philadelphia Eagles fans!