People are starting to notice that the Dallas Cowboys are doing some good things this year. Quick, somebody do something to distract them so we can stay under the radar.
This article points out a couple of things: The running game in Dallas is starting to impress, and even in praising the team many people still get so much wrong.
The Cowboys were brave to take Notre Dame guard Zack Martin as opposed to Johnny Manziel with their first-round pick, and while Manziel would just be fanning the flames of discontent behind an inconsistent Tony Romo right now, Martin's been a key component in the game's best rushing attack.
Inconsistent? Romo's passer rating in the first four games, in order: 60.8, 93.5, 116.8, 137.4. Yeah, I'll take some more of that kind of "inconsistency".
The theme of creating a great offensive line continues.
We can argue about whether the Cowboys used proper value in getting two interior linemen with their last two first-round picks, but there's no doubt they've built a great line.
On the other hand, I have no idea how this terrible Cowboys defense is shutting out the Saints through one half.
Right. This terrible defense. How about this wild and crazy theory: MAYBE THE DEFENSE IS BETTER THAN YOU THINK?
Sorry. I'll stop yelling now.
You can tell this is a bit of an unusual season when I am calling on Tim MacMahon to support my position. He says this is not a dominant bunch, but one that is very different from the one that got pushed around so often last season.
If there were any demons hanging around from last season's historically horrible defense, they were exorcised in the first half of Sunday night's 38-17 rout of the New Orleans Saints. The New Orleans offense that humiliated the Dallas defense last season, setting an NFL record with 40 first downs and cruising to 625 total yards in a blowout, entered halftime with a goose egg on the scoreboard.
Going into the game, Jimmy Graham was at the top of everyone's list of Saints' weapons the Cowboys had to handle. He wound up with one reception in the first half, and only started catching a lot of balls when things were getting out of hand. It was one of the brilliant bits of coaching and planning that Dallas had.
A mixture of coverages wasn't necessary against Graham on Sunday, but keeping him in front of defenders is. For most of the night, starting with the first pass directed towards him, a drop on a high throw, the Cowboys kept somebody near or right up on him. Even on his touchdown catch, he dove through three defenders. It wasn't so much the safeties job, but cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Sterling Moore and the linebackers kept watch.
Bob Sturm cheerfully admits that he was one of those who did not expect much out of this year's edition of the Cowboys, and that he is pleasantly surprised at where the team is in the standings. Lots of good stuff from him, as always, like this.
This offense, with its new coordinator Scott Linehan, absolutely has the attention of the league now. No matter how cynical anyone was about the Cowboys A) having the intention of running the ball and then B) having the ability to actually do that, we sit here on the Monday morning after Week 4 in the NFL and the Cowboys have run the ball more than any team, have more yards rushing than any team, and somehow average 165 yards per game on the ground. That makes them 1st, 1st, and 1st by NFL rank.
The efficiency of the Cowboys' offense was not unexpected, but the way the D has stepped up has caught many by surprise.
Weekly NFL viewing teaches us to be numb to the great surprise. And then there was this.
It was just last November that the Saints set an NFL record with 40 first downs and rolled to 625 total yards - most ever against a Dallas defense - in a 49-17 New Orleans rout of the Cowboys. Sure, this is a new season and things change quickly but ...
This much change? This quickly?
There is a lot of personnel related news. Let's get the worst out of the way first.
It has been a really bad week or so for Morris Claiborne, who is going on injured reserve after surgery. As always, head coach Jason Garrett just kept motivating.
"Mo's been dealing with a lot of different things from a physical standpoint," Garrett said. "This is another one of those things. He's going to get the surgery done and he's going to come back stronger and better than ever."
An MRI confirmed the injury for Bruce Carter. It is considered . . . wait for it . . . no, not day to day, but week to week.
Because the NFL did not hear an appeal Josh Brent filed in the specified amount of time, his suspension was modified, which means he is able to start working out at Valley Ranch two weeks earlier than he could under the original terms of his suspension.
"It's a really good thing for him to lay the foundation to get back," Garrett said. "The biggest emphasis that we have with Josh is to make sure he gets himself settled back as a human being, as a man. We feel like being around football, his livelihood, his passion, can be good for him in that regard. I think it's set up the right way for him."
He will not be practicing with the team until week nine, but will be able to work out at the facility rather than having to work on his own.
The return of Jakar Hamilton will have a much quicker impact. With his suspension under the substance abuse program over, he is now available to return for the next game.
The Cowboys will have a one-week roster exemption. If they choose to activate Hamilton for Sunday's Week 5 game against the Houston Texans, they would have to make room on the 53-man roster.
With Claiborne on IR, a roster spot is already there for him.
Amobi Okoye has kind of been lost in the depth chart, but he thinks he is ready to start contributing as soon as he is off the non-football injury list, continuing his incredible return from a near-fatal coma.
Now, he's not only healthy enough to do conditioning work, but he's also ready for contact. Okoye was cleared for conditioning work in August and said he'll "definitely" be ready to go when he's eligible to return Week 7 against the Giants.
"It's definitely been tough," Okoye said. "I mean, first of all, I had to sit out all of last year, then had to sit out another six weeks. But it is what it is. I was pretty bummed out the first time when I was put on the list, but I took it for what it is. I needed more time to get better."
I included this because when University of Texas head coach Charlie Strong met with Roger Goodell, he brought up a very valid point about the entire domestic violence issue in the NFL that is mostly overlooked.
"(It) was not so much about our core values, but also we just talked about the character of athletes," Strong said of his discussion with Goodell. "I said to him what is happening in the NFL is we're sending you some players that have questionable character, and I said you're giving them a lot of money.
"You give somebody who has bad character a lot of money, that's a situation probably you want to avoid," Strong said. "We have to do a better job in college of just preparing young men and doing a better job with their character."
It doesn't start in the pros, folks. And the work needs to start earlier than college, too.
Bills coach Doug Marrone announces Kyle Orton is replacing EJ Manuel as the Bills starting quarterback.— Matthew Fairburn (@MatthewFairburn) September 29, 2014
Looks like Cap'n Neckbeard got what he wanted after all. Jerk.
This is just too cool. Follow the link and watch the tribute the players gave, apparently on their own, to some real old-school football.
To close out my article, I'm
stealing borrowing the close King used in his article (which does have several other nice bits about the Cowboys as well).
The Adieu Haiku
How 'bout them Cowboys
Who thought they'd be 3 and 1?
Go figure football.