It's happening again. I can feel the hair standing up on the back of my neck. That sick feeling is settling into the pit of my stomach. Worst of all, the memories keep looming out of the dark, circling and snapping at me like mangy wild dogs. I've been down this road, and it led nowhere I wanted to be.
Yes, folks. They are starting to say good things about the Cowboys out there. And I don't know whether to cry or howl in impotent rage.
When I start seeing the media finding nice things to say about the Cowboys, I keep remembering one thing.
2010. When the Cowboys were set. The predictions were almost all positive. Dallas had the talent, the Super Bowl was in Cowboys Stadium, it was all destiny.
Yeah. A 1-7 destiny. So you will understand why, when national writers start talking about how good some of the players on the Cowboys are, I get nervous. Even a little scared.
And it is getting pretty bad out there. Or overly good, whichever way you chose to look at it. As KD pointed in the article I have linked to above, the Cowboys are said to have the fourth best cornerback unit in the league - based on one guy who never played with the team before, a rookie who has not practiced with the team, and a sulking veteran who wants to go pretty much anywhere else but Dallas.
That is just the beginning. See what else is going on after the jump.
Before I go on, you don't have to point out that I may be a tad paranoid here. Believe me, I know it. But paranoids have enemies, too, you know. Besides, I prefer to think of it as judicious caution.
It wasn't one or several articles that first got me worried about this disturbing trend. It was my obsessive interest in the Twitter feeds during OTAs and minicamps. I wasn't sure that I was interpreting it correctly, but a few podcasts confirmed it. The beat writers for the Cowboys, many of whom have been a bit harsh towards the team, seem to really like what is going on this year. From the attitude adjustment Jason Garrett has embarked on, to the way some of the unheralded rookies have stepped it up, to how experienced players like Dez Bryant and Jason Hatcher were showing the results of hard work and displaying a little fire out there.
But that was not all that bad. It was tempered by valid concerns, and besides, if they saw something good, it was because they were actually seeing something. They were there at the practices. No, my Concern-O-Meter started spiking into the red when I saw the national guys, the ones who don't actually see what is going on in practices, start saying nice things.
And it starts right at the top, with the most visible Cowboy of them all (not counting a certain owner who is also all over the place, but not always in a great place), Tony Romo. In his ranking of NFL quarterbacks, Ron Jaworski of ESPN, put Tony in the number 10 spot. While some may feel that is somewhat disrespectful of his talent, I thought Jaworski's comments, as reported by Nick Eatman at DallasCowboys.com, were really quite favorable.
I've always sensed the perception of Romo was that he turned the ball over too much. That is dead wrong. In his last two full seasons, he's only thrown 19 interceptions in almost 1,100 attempts. That, my friends, is outstanding. Romo is without question a top 10 quarterback.
Why do I feel such dread when Jaws starts agreeing with some of the opinion around BTB?
And that is not the only nice thing said about Tony. In an article behind the paywall at ESPN, Gary Horton of Scouts, Inc, puts up a list of the NFL's 10 most dynamic duo. Calvin Watkins at ESPN Dallas shares the relevant part of that with us.
Here's what Horton said of his criteria: "The key to a truly impressive tandem is a twosome that works better together than they do apart. They cover each others weaknesses and enhance each others strengths -- even if their link isn't readily apparent."
There is one duo that Cowboys' opponents should worry about: Tony Romo and Jason Witten.
Well, that's two of the Cowboys' top performers. Now who have we left out? Oh, yeah, seems Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings was talking about whether anyone could get 25 sacks in a season, and he felt he needed to mention one name in discussing the possibility.
"I think 25 is possible," Allen said. "I thinks someone will eventually get it. Look at some of the athletes, the DeMarcus Ware's of the league and the matchups he creates as a 3-4 guy on a running back or something. I think it's possible."
Now, if you are wondering if it is only the established, older stars that are getting the love, well, no. Over at Rotoworld, Greg Cosell offered a bit of a reevaluation of a much younger Cowboys star. Sure, they deal in fantasy football, but they also are very concerned with on field performance.
"DeMarco Murray ended up playing better in Dallas than I thought he would based on watching his college tape," Cosell acknowledged. "I thought watching him at Oklahoma, he was somewhat of a straight-line guy. Very good downhill when he put his foot in the ground, but pretty much a straight-line runner. And while I wouldn't call him overly shifty or elusive, I thought that he showed much more of that in the NFL.
"And the other thing, which I found really intriguing watching him in Dallas, was I thought he ended up having a little more natural power than I thought, watching his college tape. And I think those two elements -- a little more lateral agility and a little more natural power and strength -- really made him an effective runner. Because there's no question that he has good speed and good short-area acceleration. Clearly, when he put his foot in the ground and got downhill, there was a burst to his game. And you need that, you certainly need that. But I thought those two other elements were things that I did not think he would be able to show in the NFL. Because I didn't really feel like I saw them when I watched him at Oklahoma."
It's bad enough that some of the individual players on the team are getting some love from a variety of sources, putting them on the radar. But what is even worse, there are some that see the team making strides that could put them into the mix for the playoffs. Over at SB Nation, an early look at the league a while back put the team here in the rankings.
9. Dallas Cowboys (8-8, LW: 13): The Cowboys felt they were one player away from making a serious run. Morris Claiborne is that player.
So my worries just continue. The national media is starting to sense that something good may be going on in Dallas. The last time that happened, things did not turn out so well.
But then, maybe they are right. Maybe the Cowboys are going to put it together, and at least make positive strides this year. I just wish no one noticed.
Until September 5th. Then I hope they all get their eyes opened. So, despite my apprehension, there is just one thing left to say, even if it is a bit early.