As is usually the case on Thursday mornings, we begin with leftovers from the previous game...
Archer's post-Jags dispatch from London. In it, he considers an even handful of pertinent Cowboys stories from the Jacksonville game. For instance:
I wonder if the coaches will show Terrance William's hustle on Joseph Randle's 40-yard touchdown run when they meet with the players for the first time after the Jacksonville win. It was rather amazing. Lined up to the right side of the formation in the slot, Williams was able to block cornerback Peyton Thompson at the Jacksonville 36 as Randle gets the handoff....At the 7-yard line, Williams gets just enough of Demetrius McCray to knock him off balance to make it easier for Randle to run through him and get to the end zone. That is the kind of relentless spirit Jason Garrett talks about.
The Sturminator's weekly must-read on the Cowboys defense. He begins with this:
The defense finished Week 10 feeling great about itself. To go win a game away from home (a long way) and to win 3rd Downs (Jacksonville 4 of 14, 29%), take the ball away multiple times, hold them to 3 yards per carry, and to do it all without Tyrone Crawford and Rolando McClain is just flat-out impressive. Yes, it was against a Jacksonville offense that hasn’t accomplished much of anything against anyone on their schedule, but this was a Dallas defense that we were pretty sure couldn’t stop anybody back in August.
And, as a bit of perspective, this closing:
But, let’s give credit where credit is due. The Cowboys overhauled their defensive personnel depth, and added guys like McClain, McClain, Mincey, and Melton to the return of Spencer and development of Crawford and Wilcox and the additions of rookies like Patmon, Hitchens, and, now, Lawrence. And now, Josh Brent will have a chance to add to the mix and you can see that this defense isn’t about the top 3-5 players. It is about 20 guys who seem to have a role and are each ready to contribute when the chance arises.
Wednesday's top stories from a click-generating perspective? Josh Brent's return and Dez Bryant's contract:
Josh Brent is now officially activated on the 53-man roster and is eligible to play in the next game, Nov. 23 against the Giants. That doesn't mean he's forgotten what happened on a Friday night in December 2012:
"Honestly, Jerry was a great person, a great player and had a great future," Brent said. "Again, the mistake that I made took that away from him. It took that away from his daughter and took that away from his mother. That’s something that I make sure I’m conscious of. I’ll never forget that."
In a piece derived from the same interview, JJT adds this from a reflective Brent. His goal?
"Honestly, to make sure Jerry's name does not die in vain,"
Number 88 says he would prefer to retire as a member of the Cowboys, but feeling respected by the franchise he plays for is a higher priority - and that respect is measured in dollars and cents:
"I just know what I'm going to accept, and I know what I'm not going to accept," said Bryant, whose rookie deal was for $11.8 million over five years. "I've been here for five years. You know, it's not about the money. It's not about none of that. I just feel like a little respect should play a factor in that.
Lest ye be concerned, this doesn't mean that a deal won't get done:
"I just think it's all business," Bryant said. "They have to do what they have to do. I have to do what I have to do. And I'm pretty sure at the end of the day, we'll come to a nice agreement."
Among other things in this "top stories" piece, Fisher adds a bit of needed perspective to the Dez contract flim-flammery:
...I'm told the wheels are turning... that the silliness of DeSoto Police log incidents that don't even actually involve Bryant are not a real factor here...and that at least some of the people involved think the bye week is an opportune time to touch base on a contract extension for Dallas' standout receiver.
I think one of those people is Jerry Jones.
The Broad One answers some mailbag queries. Here's his take on Dallas' second round draftee:
I am surprised that fans are as critical as they have been in these first two games for Lawrence. In the words of Aaron Rodgers, everyone just needs to relax. This kid is really a good football player and his time will come. His technique has been good and his effort has been even been better. As long as he continues to play this way the production will come.
With ten games in the books, it's time for some "State of the Nation" pieces:
The Noble Drummond kicks off his by-week assessment extravaganza by ranking the current Cowboys from 1-52 (or, more properly, from Bryant to Clutts) with a few others - Jakar Hamilton, Ben Gardner - thrown in. Good stuff, check it out.
It's also time to reflect on the Cowboys coaching staff...
Jones the Elder:
"I think Jason is going to be a better five years from now than he is today and he's a much better coach than he was five years ago," Jones said. "He's a growing, smart, hard-working coach who's getting some really great experience and he's getting it on our time.
Apparently, the Jones family wonders whether the current staff is the best Cowboys coaching staff in the last 25 years. Here's the case:
"Jerry and I talk a lot about how this staff might be one of the best staffs we’ve ever had here, when you really look at it, including Jimmy’s staff," Stephen Jones said Tuesday. "Scott [Linehan], Bill Callahan, Rod [Marinelli] and Derek Dooley, there’s a lot of guys that have been head coaches.
Fair enough, but I'd place them third, behind Jimmy Johnson’s staffs that included Norv Turner, Butch Davis, Dave Campo and Dave Wannstedt and the Parcells group that included Sean Payton, Mike Zimmer, Tony Sparano and Todd Haley.
And some thoughts about the Cowboys going forward:
Todd and Tim go head to head to debate whether or not to start Tony Romo against the Giants, with a short turnaround Thanksgiving contest looming against the division-leading Eagles. Timmy Mac points out that playing against the Giants might make Romo less than fully healthy for the more important of the two games:
Use Romo as a closer, not a starter, Nov. 23 against the New York Giants. Give No. 9 and his bad back legitimate hope to be the best version of himself a mere four days later against the Philadelphia Eagles.
All NFC East games are not created equal. Thanksgiving counts twice as much because it's also a chance to put a loss on Philly's ledger. And this would maximize the odds of sweeping the quick two-game set.
Todd's point can be put more succinctly:
I don't think the Cowboys can take any game for granted.
What a difference a year makes: a year ago, Dallas entered the same week ten bye after being crushed 49-17 by New Orleans. After the humiliating defeat, Garrett insisted everything was fine, but it was clearly not: the defense was in tatters and the offense was sputtering, leading Garrett to take over play-calling duties. That said, a nasty stretch awaits: "Four of the last six games are on the road and in cities — New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington — where the conditions can be unfavorable."
Until then, the view from here ain't half bad...
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.
Early this morning, we had 231 votes logged, and the popular sentiment is Redskins over Bucs (87%), 49ers over Giants (90%) and Packers over Eagles (96%).