Will the Cowboys rebound? - Pat Kirwan, CBSSports.com
Kirwan writes that it's gut check time for the Dallas Cowboys.
Good teams bounce back off a surprising loss. That's just what the Dallas Cowboys have to do if they are the team many think they are this season.
Arizona is coming to Dallas and they fear no team. In fact, they relish the idea of beating good teams. Arizona is 13-3 over their last 16 games dating back to last year. That includes wins in Seattle when the Seahawks went on to win the Super Bowl and wins this year against San Diego, San Francisco and Philadelphia. Arizona just finished up watching the Redskins blitz the daylights out of the Cowboys last week and the Cardinals are already a 62 percent blitz team on third downs. They may increase the pressures in this game.
Dallas needs to get the ball to Dez Bryant more against the safety blitz packages. Last week he only caught three passes for 30 yards and there were opportunities for big plays, but the Cowboys didn't figure out how to block the blitz. Well, it's time for a rebound game. Dallas needs to make the adjustments because time is running out on their home games. After this Sunday, Dallas only has two home games left for the whole season.
Bob Sturm’s Xs and Os: A closer look at why the Redskins could sack Tony Romo | Bob Sturm, DMN
Sturm looks at what what went wrong on the five sacks the Redskins had against Dallas, and concludes that Redskins DC Jim Haslett called an unbelievable game against Dallas.
All in all, these plays demonstrate why my biggest takeaway from Monday night was the coaching victory of Washington’s defensive scheme and the disappointing reaction from Dallas to all of these various tactics. For once in 2014, Dallas was on the short end of the football chess match.
Handling blitz is key to beating Arizona Cardinals - Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN Dallas
JJT points out that the Cowboys have been outstanding against blitz much of season, but not against the Redskins.
For now, the Washington loss is an aberration. That's because Romo has been outstanding against the blitz much of the season. He has completed 49 of 75 passes against the blitz for 634 yards with eight touchdowns, two interceptions and a 116.2 passer rating.
But he has also been sacked 11 times against the blitz, tying the Chicago Bears' Jay Cutler and the Jacksonville Jaguars' Chad Henne for most in the league.
Cowboys Friday Injury Report: Romo Out Again, Will Be Gametime Decision - Blogging The Boys
Tony Romo wasn't on the practice field again on Friday. After missing practice all week, he is now a gametime decision for the Cowboys. Here are Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett on Romo:
"Obviously you’ve got your 53-man roster, and we have to turn our actives in within an hour before the game," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM], "and so that’s when you’ll know."
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Friday morning that Romo told him he was feeling better. "He’s moving around, and he’s doing a little stuff in the back there to get the stiffness out, kind of like a bicycle-type thing," Jones said. "He’s moving around, been in the meetings today."
The future of the Dallas Cowboys Sean Lee is at weakside linebacker - Calvin Watkins, ESPN Dallas
Interesting thoughts from Jerry Jones, articulated on 105.3 The Fan on Friday. Jones said the weakside spot is where Sean Lee will end up. The Cowboys had previously said they are interested in signing 25-year old Rolando McClain to an extension; Jones' thoughts suggest McClain is already penciled in as the long-term solution at MLB.
Dallas' DeMarco Murray is on track to set a new season rushing record - Sam Farmer, LA Times
Farmer takes a look at the latitude coaches give DeMarco Murray on the field, allowing him to run to where he sees holes instead of run towards where they are supposed to be.
"That's the good thing about here," Murray said. "They give me the opportunities. They don't coach me up on where the ball should go or where it needs to go. They kind of give me examples, 'Hey, this is where we're blocking and how we're doing it,' and then they let me use my eyes, trust my eyes and make it work. Sometimes I'm wrong, and I'll get it fixed on the sideline. But being a running back is a lot of instincts. And stuff doesn't always happen the way it's drawn up."
The Cowboys love that about Murray, and they point to runs such as one in the fourth quarter against the New York Giants in Week 7. All the blocking was set up for him to run left, but he saw something he liked to the right, and he cut back against the grain for a 17-yard gain.
"In the running game, you have your initial steps, your blocking scheme, you know the front, the secondary.… You have all that information, but once that ball's in your hands, you've just got to go play football," Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett said. "You know where the play's supposed to go, but if it isn't there, just go be a football player. DeMarco's a really disciplined player. He does all the stuff the right way, then he just goes out there and plays."
Henry Melton is PFF's top-ranked Defensive Tackle - Pro Football Focus
With a hat-top to BTB-member Trent Schoneweis, we get this piece of somewhat surprising news from the film graders at PFF:
The top-ranked defensive tackle with 130 or more pass rush snaps in terms of Pass Rush Productivity, garnering 19 pressures with four of them being sacks.
Agent's take on how the Cowboys built a winner - Joel Corry, CBSSports.com
Hat tip to Dr. P for this link, in which former player agent Corry takes a detailed look at how the Cowboys built the current team. Here are the first two paragraphs from a very interesting article.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is gaining a small measure of vindication against the numerous critics of his performance as general manager with his team's unexpected 6-2 record, which leads the NFC East.
Consensus opinion is Jones needed to give up his general manager title a long time ago for guiding the Cowboys into mediocrity and hire someone with an extensive football background to run the franchise. Dallas has only won one playoff game since 1996, a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009, its last playoff appearance. The Sporting News named Jones as the NFL's worst general manager at the beginning of the season. Surprisingly, Jones is a leading candidate for NFL Executive of the Year at the midpoint of the season.
Joseph Randle jaws with Dez Bryant at Cowboys practice, causing Jason Witten to intervene | Jon Machota, DMN
Dez Bryant got into an argument with Joseph Randle during practice over something Randle said in his arrest video, in which you can hear Randle making several comments about his Cowboys teammates, including one about Bryant, "Dez didn't miss no games for slapping his mama."
Randle kept talking to Bryant during stretching, prompting Jason Witten to step in before things got ugly, according to Mike Fisher of CBS Dallas.
"Alright, don’t say another (expletive) word!" Witten yelled at Randle. "Alright? Don’t say nothin’ from here on out. Don’t talk about it."
Cowboys downplay Dez Bryant's practice squabble with Joseph Randle | David Helman, FOX Sports
Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, and Brandon Weeden address the squabble between Bryant and Joseh Randle.
"I don't really feel comfortable talking about it. We handle it inside our football team. It's all good," Witten said Friday after practice. "There's fiery guys, things happen all the time," Witten said. "It just so happened that you guys were out there for a little bit of it. All that's handled and we'll move forward."
"It's all good, it's alright, you know. That ain't no big deal," Bryant said. "It ain't no big deal. We're trying to get on these Arizona Cardinals."
"They're always arguing about something. I've seen them fight over who is better, Jordan or Kobe," Weeden said. "When those guys are going at it, I just laugh at it. I've been around them, so nothing surprises me."
Player tiffs happen, get over it - Calvin Watkins, ESPN Dallas
"Keeping your mouth shut regarding teammates off-the-field issues is an important part of locker room code," Watkins sagely writes, and highlights the importance of Jason Witten in the Cowboys locker room.
Witten, the sage captain of this team, has seen these issues before. He was involved in a skirmish himself with former wide receiver Terrell Owens several years ago. And in 2006, former cornerback Terence Newman got into a fight with former defensive tackle Chris Canty over some foolishness.
"That's Witten, that’s just him, it's great to have somebody like that in this locker room," Bryant said. "Not a lot of teams (are) blessed with a guy like that. Wit does a tremendous job, that’s why we look at him as our leader. We’re going to keep doing that."