I'm opening with a theme much in line with that Tom chose for yester-morning's linkdump, which he titled "Great Kids! Don't Get Cocky." Today's variation on the theme: eschew the curds, lest ye tread upon a steely trap.
Cowboys can't eat the cheese - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
The Cowboys are an unexpected 3-1, but cannot afford to take the pedal off the metal. To make this point, Archer goes to an old Parcells-ism: "Don't eat the cheese." Parcells told that to his players when things were going well, because he didn't want them to read about their success (the media's "cheese") for fear they would relax and stop working so hard. Then again, this group might not have enough laurels to rest on them:
The Cowboys haven't been 3-1 since 2008. Only Jason Witten, Tony Romo, L.P. Ladouceur, Anthony Spencer, Doug Free and Orlando Scandrick remain from that team. Only 16 players have been around for the four-game winning streak the Cowboys experienced in 2011.
The majority of the Cowboys have not experienced what it's like to have sustained success in a regular season. They know nothing more than 8-8.
"I think we're young enough to not even think about the cheese, that's how young we are, which is good," Carr said. "Don't even know about the cheese. As long as nobody puts no mouse traps around they're not going to know what it is."
Remaining tidbits from the Saints buffet:
Marinelli Report - Week 4 - New Orleans - Bob Sturm, Live from Lewisville
The Sturminator's weekly breakdown of the Cowboys defense presents a gallimaufry of statistical insights, as well as this pithy summation of the state of the Cowboys' D:
There is no question that once again we are impressed by this team's defensive motor. They fly to the ball and rally around the action very well. This is a defense of fighters and high-motor players who want to get in on the ball. Credit the scouts and coaches for knowing what type of players they need to target. The question remains whether they are high enough in premium talent and whether motor alone can win over the long samples.
Jason Garrett praises fans, calls for more noise - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
In a recent presser, Redball had a message for Cowboys fans:
"I thought our fans were great (Sunday) night, too," Garrett said, unprompted. "In that kind of a game, against a team that is so close to us, a team that travels well, I think as a football team, hopefully we did a lot of things that made our fans stay involved in the game in a positive way. But that atmosphere really helped our team, and I thought that was really important for us to establish that -- to have some success, them be behind us. It’s hard for teams to go on the road and deal with crowd noise and deal with a crowd that’s into it as much as our guys were last night. I thought it was a really good thing for our team, and we appreciate that certainly going forward when Houston comes to town this week."
Dez hoping teams continue to show Williams disrespect - Nick Eatman, The Mothership
It's a simple equation: double Dez, and T-Will makes 'em pay:
If he’s singled, you have to take advantage of it," Bryant said Tuesday at Valley Ranch. "That’s exactly what he’s doing. I think T-Dub (Williams) is doing a terrific job of that. I’m loving every bit of that because it’s just making my job that much easier....The more they disrespect him they more he’ll dominate. That’s what it is."
On Sunday night, Williams (and several other Cowboys receivers) made the Saints pay for concentrating on Number 88. Eventually, Rob Ryan called off the dogs, and Dez got his catches (and a score). Nasty equation for rival defensive coordinators, that.
Cowboys Jerry shedding those "Texans tears" - Mark Lane and Mike Fisher, Cowboys HQ
A transcription of an interview with one Jerral Jones. Here's JJ's take on whether the Cowboys need to start spelling Murray more to avoid burnout:
We've really got a good situation at running back. And Randle given the number of carries that Murray's got would be impressive with his production. And you see that. He's an outstanding back. Now, he's not as fast around the corner as Murray, but I'll tell you right now: he's a top back certainly between the tackles. He'd get a lot of yards. Of course, Dunbar gives us a dimension I know everybody is saying, "Boy, you got to him in more. Get him some more plays there so he can make those plays." So, the answer is yes. It's probably smart to try to get, in your standard type situations, smart to ease Randle in there more and probably smart from a production standpoint of winning to get Dunbar some more touches.
A not unreasonable plan, going forward...
Four games in, so lots of scribes are writing "state of the Cowboys" pieces:
NFC East confidence rankings - KD Drummond, Cowboys HQ
The Drummond offers revised position-by-position ranking of the four NFC East squads (he did the same exercise before the season started). Here's his take on the respective O-lines:
Here’s what I wrote before the draft: Philadelphia's line is the best in the division, followed by Dallas who is one player away from the title. The other two have also-ran lines. Ran into the wall, also ran over by defenders.
That one player is Zack Martin. While their run blocking has been maulificent, the pass protection is still a work in progress for Dallas. They rank an abysmal 26th in Adjust Sack Rate, while Philly and the Giants are both in the top third of the league. While the Eagles run blocking has been horrid (32nd) the Giants are again in the Top 10 and surprisingly take the top spot.
Four questions after the first four games - Bryan Broaddus, The Mothership
In a "Cowboys at the quarterpole" kind of summary post, The Broad One asks and answers several questions. Here's the answer that I found interesting, in response to the query, "What’s your first quarter fix?":
I am worried about
J.J. Wilcoxplaying in coverage, and I want to fix his eyes....If he saw things just a tick quicker he could make the play because we all know that he is more than willing to get into the action. His eyes could also help him in the angles that he takes in the running game. There are snaps where he is so aggressive that he tends to overrun plays and this I feel is due to how he sees plays develop. Experience will help him get a better feel for how to make plays, but his eyes will help him make more of them.
Reports from Wednesday's practice - the first in preparation for the Texans:
Dallas Cowboys practice report: QB Tony Romo, LB Bruce Carter sit out - Brandon George, DMN
As the headline suggests, the Cowboys were without one player on each side of the ball at Wednesday's padded practice. Of course, Romo is not practicing for a third consecutive Wednesday as the club continues to manage his recovery from back surgery. I think we're all just fine with him skipping Wednesdays...
Tony Romo: you want to feel healthy - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
After missing parts of his third consecutive Wednesday practice, Number Nine told reporters:
"You want to feel healthy," Romo said. "You want to feel good. You want to feel like you're maximizing your opportunities to be at your best within each day and obviously within each week and start over and do it again. I don't think about it anymore than that."
And people wonder if the team is buying into Jason Garrett's message...
Cowboys practice report: Henry Melton is limited - Calvin Watkins, ESPN Dallas
The news: Henry Melton and Anthony Spencer were limited; Rolando McClain and Dez Bryant were full participants
And our eyes turn to the in-state rival:
Scout's eye: Texans' usual weapons are going strong - Bryan Broadus, The Mothership
In his weekly look at the opposition's key players, Broaddus turns his scouting eye to three particular Houstonians: DE J.J. Watt (weapon); WR Andre Johnson (nemesis); and RB Alfred Blue (under-the-radar). If you're wondering why Johnson is categorized as a nemesis, Broaddus offers some clarification:
Johnson might not be the player that he once was due to various health issues that he has had to deal with throughout his outstanding career. Nevertheless, he is still a dangerous route runner and productive pass catcher at all levels of the field. Johnson doesn’t have the initial quickness or extended burst that he once had to gain separation, but he does still play with body control and balance. His hands have always been his calling card. He is natural in the way that he is able to extend them to make catches in the open field or with a defender on his back. He can still run the slant with the best of them and secure that first down.
Insider: film breakdown of Texans impact receiver - The Mothership
Will McClay joins the Cowboys Insider crew for a film study of Andre Johnson's running mate, former Clemson Tiger DeAndre Hopkins. Hit the link and jump to the 1:14 mark to see the team's Assistant Director of Player Personnel in his element.
Travis Frederick says Texans are more than J.J. Watt - Calvin Watkins, ESPN Dallas
I included this article for one reason, and one reason only: this quote from Fredbeard:
"...We're not playing the Houston J.J. Watts. We're playing the Houston Texans"
Don't forget to submit your picks for the BTB Pick 256 Challenge
Pick 256 is a season-long contest in which BTB members and readers get to pick the straight-up winners for all games each week. If you haven't yet submitted your picks, now would be a good time, here's the link to the entry form.
If the link above doesn't work for whatever reason, use the following alternative, which does not autofill your BTB user name into the entry form.
Alternative Pick 256 Entry Form
Through the early hours of the morning, we've logged about 250 entries, of which 98% have picked the Cowboys for the win over the Texans on Sunday. You can review the full Week 4 standings and the season leaderboard of our Pick 256 challenge in this fanpost by BTB-member Hookerhome.