The Monday after a game, even in pre-season, generates a boat load of Dallas Cowboys coverage. Dive in with us as we sort out the stuff you need to know.
First, the coverage of the key body part on the entire Cowboys team, Tony Romo's back.
Everyone has been worried about what would happen the first time Romo took a hit. Well, he didn't, but he still survived the first real test of his recovery in trying (rather ineffectively) to stop Courtney Upshaw from returning a botched handoff for a touchdown. It was both a very awkward move and not something people were expecting - but it is an unpredictable game.
On his first series, following a botched handoff attempt where DeMarco Murray seemingly forgot that he had human arms, Romo found himself in the awkward situation of trying to tackle a fumble-scooping 275-lb human bulldozer barreling towards a defensive touchdown. Uh-oh.
This is not normal quarterbacking activity. This is not the plan. This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife. Buckle your seatbelts, folks - the season is now officially on the line as Tony Romo attempts to tackle an SUV while wearing a body cast.
As we all now know, everything turned out fine, and Romo looked, well, perfect from then on, at least according to his quarterback rating.
Two things about this post. First, the headline really says it all. And second, it seems a rather obvious point.
Again, the headline tells you about all you need to know: They are still going to go slow with Romo in camp, which I'm sure will worry many people. After all, lots of room for him to improve on that 158.3 QB rating . . .
While injuries remain a concern, the good news is that the team does seem to be gradually getting healthier.
Brandon Carris expected to practice fully Tuesday for the first time since camp began, while Sterling Moore(groin) and Morris Claiborne(shoulder) could get back on the practice field this week. Head coach Jason Garrett also anticipates Anthony Hitchens(stinger) practicing Tuesday.
Additionally, Jason Garrett held out some hope that Henry Melton could play against the Miami Dolphins this week, and that Terrell McClain could get back on the field for practice soon, although not in time for that game.
Among the many annual concerns that swirl around the Cowboys is the question of whether the team is finally going to commit itself to running the ball, something Garrett promises every summer. While the role of running the ball amounts to more than just a count of how many times the quarterback hands the ball off, there were certainly times last season when the coaches seemed to forget that passing is not the only way to move the ball down the field. How is it looking this year?
The Cowboys have said in past years that they want to run. But all it took was a negative play or two for that commitment to waver.
That didn't happen in the team's second preseason game. Rookie Zack Martin was hit with a holding call on a run to open the game. DeMarco Murray followed that with a 1-yard loss on a run off the right tackle.
Four plays later, a botched handoff from Romo to Murray resulted in a fumble the Ravens returned 26 yards for a touchdown. Murray lost yardage again five plays deep into the second possession.
And Scott Linehan continued to call Murray's number in his second game as the team's play-caller.
Linehan is getting some serious love from the beat writers in Dallas. When you even get some nice remarks from the often irascible Jean-Jacques Taylor, things must be going well. Taylor likes not only how Linehan has blended his approach with what the Cowboys were already doing, but how Linehan has worked to maximize the talents of his players, especially Romo.
However, those who have been around BTB for a while will know why this was the line that caught my eye - especially given who wrote it.
When coach Jason Garrett initially broached the idea of hiring Scott Linehan to call plays for the Dallas Cowboys, Tony Romo needed to do some research.
With the seriousness of the injury to Devonte Holloman still not disclosed, there are even more questions about how the Cowboys are going to man the linebacker positions. Bob Sturm takes a long, detailed look at some of the options and permutations. His best guess for how things will shake out for the opening game of the regular season:
They really want McClain to win the MLB, but I am not sure there is much evidence on the field that he is worthy of the spot. I think they hope he wins it so that Durant/Carter is your WLB, McClain in the middle, and Wilber at the SAM. Then, on nickel downs, Wilber becomes a edge rush DE, and Durant joins McClain and Carter is off the field altogether. That trio should at least be adequate in Week 1.
But, the bigger point is that Justin Durant might be their best fit at all 3 spots. This from a 28-year old veteran who signed for a 2-year, $2.4m deal from Detroit without even a headline a year ago. Now, things are in such disarray that he is as valuable a piece as this front 7 has.
Bryan Broaddus covers a grabbag of topics, including how Dez Bryant is improving the small things about his game.
On his 22-yard reception during the first series, Bryant snatches the ball and starts to head up the field. What was different about this particular play is that Bryant realizes he is going to encounter three defenders in his path. Instead of holding the ball away from his body, he clearly tucks it tight, even putting his right hand over the ball, to not allow a hit on it. For Dez Bryant it has been about the little things and those areas in which he can improve.
The article uses the play where B.W. Webb and J.J. Wilcox worked together to break up a pass to Steve Smith to illustrate both the physical nature of Wilcox and how the team is looking to get more stops this year. It goes on to discuss the overall contributions Wilcox is making to the defense.
Wilcox has all but cemented his starting spot, going unchallenged in Oxnard, California. He has been among the most vocal defenders when things have not gone well for the defense. At one practice when Webb and Terrance Mitchell were out of position, Wilcox called them out.
Mike Fisher takes a lighthearted but still informative look at some of the high- and lowlights from camp in California using movie titles to describe each of his awards. Even with the humor involved, he still manages to mention some poignant moments.
REAR WINDOW: Unfortunate sight: injured Matt Johnson's hotel room in Oxnard was on the second floor and overlooked the field. He was too rarely able to participate, and on some days was supposed to do nothing but rest. But I would see him emerge from his room and perch himself on his balcony, looking mournfully out at the practice field he just can't see to quite earn a place on.
"I had a pity party for myself,'' Johnson told me. "But you can't do that. It's not going to solve anything.''
So he nurses his hammies, sees a specialist hoping there is an answer in his back ... and watches from his balcony.
I don't know if this is a current post, but I saw it as a link. Curiosity drew me in, and I discovered an amazing fact: Based on the judgement of the authors of this piece, every Super Bowl won by a New York NFL team (including the Jets and Broadway Joe Namath) had one of these ten worst quarterbacks at the helm.
That sells me on the validity of this article. Oh, and just because I know you want this one, here is number six on their list.
Eli Manning - New York Giants
Unlike his superstar older brother, Eli has been quite the clutch quarterback in the playoffs. However, he's not nearly as talented as big brother. He consistently makes bad decisions. But, to his credit, he did play a major role in leading the Giants to victories in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI - both over the Patriots. Manning took home MVP awards in both games. His stardom has fallen off since.