In 2006, the Cowboys players and then-head coach Bill Parcells could be seen wearing shirts that read "All in," to signify their level of commitment. More than eight years later, it appears the phrase is back in vogue...
As Helman (aka "Tiny Jim") notes, the players in the locker room have started to sound an awful lot like their head coach - and winning has only served to increase this correspondence. An example occurred on Wednesday, when Orlando Scandrick was asked about the importance of finishing the season strong:
"We’re not even at the finish line now, we’re still just a little bit past the halfway point," he said. "We’ve got a big opportunity Sunday night to go down to a division opponent and win a game."
As this suggests, Scandrick has bought into Garrett's message:
"I believe it, man. All the best teams that I’ve been on, we’ve bought in," he said. "When I was at Boise State, I bought into our formulas up there, and we won a hell of a lot of games up there. You’ve got to do this together – this is such a team sport, and it really takes everybody."
There has been a lot of chatter about how Romo will negotiate the quick turnaround between the Giants and Eagles games. Number Nine's having none of it; he's operating according to a "one game at a time" mindset:
"It’s really about this week and getting ready for the Giants," Romo said. "Once that game is over, I’ll set up a different plan and talk to trainers and coaches, and we’ll go from there. But this week it’s not about thinking about next week at all. You’ve got to get yourself ready to play in this one game and against the Giants. This is a very important game, a big game for us."
In a piece ostensibly about the entire defense, the focus is on Rolando McClain and Tyrone Crawford, both of whom used the bye to get rested and ready for the stretch run:
"I feel rested," said Rolando McClain, who missed the game in London due to several nagging injuries. "I don’t think you ever get to 100 percent in a football season, but the rest is well needed for everybody. More guys had their legs today in practice."
Through the first 11 weeks of the season, Archer notes, teams coming off the bye have posted a 10-16 record. Four current division leaders - the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals - not only lost after their byes, but lost by an average of 18.2 points. Archer concludes, "What the bye week offers up in rest it might take away in game readiness." He shared these chilling stats with Barry Church, who responded:
"Just judging on how my body feels after the bye week, I feel like I can go out and play full speed," Church said. "But for teams to pretty much just lose after the bye week is pretty shocking. I can also see how it happens. They get kind of lazy or they get stuck in their ways and don't progress. They stay the same.
A lazy Cowboys team falls to 7-4..
In a must-read look at the Cowboys offense through ten games, The Sturminator makes a very strong case for a couple of key offensive developments. The first is the running game:
Everyone will have their story, but if you want to know what the Cowboys have done this year that has put them in a spot to win the NFC East in the 3rd week in November – despite almost nobody thinking they could 3 months ago – it has to be the ability for this team to run you into the ground. They have moved to 2nd in the league, behind only Seattle, in rushing yards and with Russell Wilson averaging almost 60 yards on the ground a game, you can see how the Cowboys have the traditional run domination category to themselves. Ground and pound with no misdirection or sleight of hand.
The second is the emergence - at long last - of 12 personnel
I think both of the above charts demonstrate that again, the Cowboys may have finally figured out "12″ personnel. We can be cynical about how many years they have been trying this and how many picks they have spent to make it happen, but the proof is now arriving each week that Jason Witten plus James Hanna and Gavin Escobar is crossing defenses into unfavorable situations.
Out of two tight end sets in 2014, the Cowboys have run 147 plays for 908 yards, a neat 6.1 yards per play.
The Broad One dispenses up his weekly look ahead at three of the upcoming opponent's key players. This time around, the first game this season the Cowboys face a team a second time, he selects WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (weapon), TE Larry Donnell (nemesis) and DE Robert Ayers (under-the-radar). Here's his take on Donnell:
The Giants like to line him up at several spots in the formation. The spot where I believe he is the most dangerous is when they put him in the backfield and run him through the middle of the line like he is blocking on a running play. This way, he gets past the linebackers who are stepping up to take on the run...When he does this, he usually finds a spot behind the linebackers and in front of the safeties, which makes a simple throw for Manning off the play action fake.
Although Eli Manning is coming off his worst game of the season, the Cowboys aren't expecting a repeat performance on Sunday Night. Tony Romo told reporters that Manning the Lesser:
"...really gives that football team a really good chance when not everything is going perfect," Romo said. "He still allows them to compete game-in and game-out and have a chance. Ultimately, that is what you are asking is that the pieces around you some years are better than others, but he has been a constant, and I think it shows over the years."
Ed Valentine, the head honcho over at BBV, asks the question: "Can the Giants do enough offensively to beat Dallas?" It's a legit question; thehave averaged 14.4 points per game during their five-game losing streak. Here's are some of Ed's final thoughts:
First and foremost, the Giants will count on seeing the 'Good Eli' who has been present most of the season rather than the 'Bad/Atrocious/Horrific Eli' they saw during Sunday's five-interception abomination against the. A key to that will be protecting Manning better than the Giants did Sunday, when he was sacked/hit/hurried on a ridiculous 24 of 47 drop-backs. The presence of Schwartz, wherever the Giants choose to put him on the line should help. Same with Justin Pugh. The Giants will cross their fingers that the right tackle, who left Sunday's game with a quad strain after just eight snaps, will be able to play vs. Dallas.
FYI: Pugh was listed as "did not participate" on Wednesday's practice report.
As per Archer, the fine fellows at ESPN Stats & Information have come up with a compelling argument that the Cowboys are currently more than getting their money’s worth on Bryant.To wit:
Among the 40 wide receivers with a salary-cap hit of at least $3 million, Bryant is the biggest bargain when using receiving touchdowns as a measurement. According to NFLPA figures, Bryant carries a $3.898-million cap figure, which would take his cap hit per receiving TD number to $476,225, which would still be the best bargain.
Since we've heard that his agents religiously read BTB, I'm sure we've just given them fodder for their contract negotiations...
In the Cowboys locker room, DeMarco Murray, Bruce Carter, Dez Bryant and Dwayne Harris all sit along a line, which has been dubbed Free Agent Row. Of all those guys, Archer notes, Carter has the least certain future in Dallas. Carter's response? Gotta chop wood:
"I don’t think we really talk about it, but I think it’s one of those things where it’s already understood," Carter said. "Me, Dwayne and DeMarco, and you can even throw Dez in there, there’s a bunch of us who are in our last year –- in a contract year -– but for all of us, we’ve just got to go out there and play football. We really don’t want to think about any individual things like that right now. We just want to focus on the Giants."
Anyone who believes all the Cowboys must do is split their final six games to earn a spot, Moore argues, is thinking with his hearts rather than his head. In the NFC, ten wins doesn’t guarantee a team a playoff berth unless they win the division, as Moore demonstrates:
If the Cowboys finish 3-3, the odds are they will be in a fight for their playoff lives with three other teams. The number of wins isn’t the only factor at that stage....It’s about picking up the right wins. It’s about hoping you finish tied with a team that you win the head-to-head tiebreaker (Seattle) rather than falling into a three-way tie (Seattle and San Francisco) that will bring other factors into play that won’t be as favorable to your case.
Sturm uses the down time offered by the bye week to assemble an impressive list of targets for next year's draft lottery. Of particular interest to me were the prospects at running back, defensive end and cornerback.
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