It's the week before Christmas. The time for peace, fellowship, and a spirit of giving. And for Dallas Cowboys fans to build up a good case of pure hate going into the game with the Philadelphia Eagles. Now that is the Christmas spirit!
Maybe it's a bit vain, but I like having the NFL universe paying attention to the game. Sure, I would be happy if Dallas had the division all wrapped up, but it is kind of fun to have everyone watching to see how things are going to turn out. It sure beats being out of the playoff picture entirely, right?
You never know what Jerry Jones is going to say. This week, he seems a bit afraid of the Eagles in this audio clip. However, the Dallas players don't seem to put much stock in it.
"That's Jerry," defensive end Jason Hatcher said. "I understand because he's the owner. He ain't got to strap it up. We, as players, we've got a chip on our shoulders, too. (But) we're not scared of anybody. We're looking forward to the challenge."
Tony Romo has his own opinion of it all.
"We obviously took a tough loss to the Eagles last time," quarterback Tony Romo said when asked about Jones' comments. "So we know this team is dangerous. We have to play a great game out here to get a win. I know we've approached it that way. We're excited about going and playing those guys."
However, some of the national media rather predictably thinks Jerry should have a little fear, listing four reasons, including this one:
RB LeSean McCoy. The Cowboys' run defense has been pretty good all season, with one notable hiccup. McCoy burned them for 185 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries in the first meeting. He now owns the Eagles' record for touchdowns in a season (20 overall), and he has found the end zone in every game other than Week 11 against the Giants. McCoy causes Dallas problems because of the speed he has to consistently turn the corner.
More info and smack talk after the jump.
Keith Brooking seems to go along with the idea that McCoy is a potential problem for the Cowboys.
"I don’t understand why he’s not talked about as the best back in this league," Brooking said. "I mean, I’m sure you can argue a couple of guys, but he’s right there at the top."
Making excuses early for whiffing? Not the best sign.
One thing that crops up a lot, especially in the Philly media, is the fact that the Eagles are facing the second Ryan coached defense in a row. But it doesn't meant the two are all that similar.
That, of course, makes a big difference in the way a defense looks and plays. Even if Rex and Rob are twins, the Jets don't have DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff up front. The Cowboys, ranked 19th against the pass (the Jets are seventh), don't have Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie on the corners.
However, there is no question that the Eagles have certainly feasted on the Ryan brothers this season.
Despite Rob's brash trash talk leading up to the first Eagles-Cowboys game Oct. 3, the Eagles spanked Dallas 34-7, which stood as their most productive offensive game of the season until Sunday's 45-19 beatdown of Rex's Jets.
Is it just me, or has Rob been kinda quiet this week?
In an observation that undoubtedly escaped almost every football fan in the world, the Boston Herald points out that Michael Vick may be the key to the Eagles' chances against the Cowboys.
Most of us Dallas fans are a little uneasy about Felix Jones sitting out practice, but Stephen Jones offers assurances that it is just a case of caution since the team is a tad thin at running back.
Meanwhile, if the Cat is not able to go, Sammy Morris is getting ready.
Morris has gotten much more work during this week’s practices with Jones not participating. But the graybeard back says his approach hasn’t changed.
"It's not really complicated," Morris said. "It's help the team win, whether it's five carries or 25."
Mike Jenkins has struggled with injury, but he seems to be playing better this year than in 2010. He attributes his improvement to going back to basics.
"Footwork," Jenkins. "Pretty much footwork. Be more aggressive. I’m actually more aggressive this year than I was last year. I think that was kind of big on me last year. Once you come in new to a system, just starting in the system in the year I went to the Pro Bowl, a lot of guys didn’t know what to expect from me because I was a new guy then. Good coaching and making adjustments -- they know I like to sit on routes -- I kind took advantage of it."
Dez Bryant is another player that has shown some signs of improvement, but there are many who still criticize him for lack of focus and effort. Which may have something to do with his choice of wardrobe on Wednesday.
Bryant had on a Nike t-shirt that said: "LAZY BUT TALENTED."
It's a joke, right, Dez? Dez?
Amongst all the talk about what the Cowboys should do depending on how the Liza Minnelli Bowl (New York, New York) turns out, Jason Garrett says it doesn't matter to his preparation. Which I think we could all have predicted from JG5000.
That Romo fellow seconds the motion.
And there are plenty of reasons to just play to win this game, among them the outside chance of getting a wild card slot if things don't work out against the Giants.
There remains an outside chance that the Cowboys could make the playoffs as a wild-card team even if the Giants won Saturday and beat them on Jan. 1. To do that, they'd need some help (the Falcons would, I think, have to lose two games), but they'd definitely have to be 9-7 and not 8-8. So as long as that possibility remains in play, it'd be foolish for them to mail in this weekend's game.
Doug Free is out $7,500.00, fined for a play that did not draw a flag.
His counterpart on the other side, Tyron Smith, is working on doing better against Jason Babin.
It is easy to forget about players when they go out with an injury, especially those that aren't the stars, so I was personally interested in this article about Phillip Tanner, who was unable to step up with a chance prove himself when DeMarco Murray wnet out.
"I look at it like everything happens for a reason," Tanner said. "But it's always disappointing when I can't get out on the field and help my team."
I hope he gets his chance next season.
And finally, speaking of some good old fashioned hate, the national media is still trying to dethrone the Cowboys as, well, you know.
It's a good thing for the Dallas Cowboys that the America's Team nickname isn't subject to a vote.
According to one recent poll, it wouldn't even be close for the Cowboys.
The Green Bay Packers were by far the most popular team with voters surveyed by Public Policy Polling, according to results released Wednesday by the organization. The Packers received 22 percent of the votes, twice as many as the Cowboys.
Gee, doesn't that kinda happen every year when the bandwagoners get all excited? Oh, well, we all know the truth.
Meanwhile, GO COWBOYS!