Sigh. Trying to decide whether to start with Greg or Dez, I flipped a coin. Greg it is...
Chase dares to ask the million dollar question:
When Dallas Cowboys fans cheer a Greg Hardy sack or go crazy after Hardy tips a ball that's intercepted, do they become vile by association, having chosen to cheer for a man convicted for domestic violence and a lowlife who, rather than shutting up and trying to become a better human being, chooses to act like he's a victim instead?
Another Q&A over at the Dallas Morning News, this time with Bob Sturm. Here, a reader points out that no NFL franchises boast spotless records when it comes to their players' behavior. Sturm concurs:
I tend to agree with this line of reasoning. There really isn't a team who hasn't dirtied their hands in some capacity at some point. Now, not all players are the same, not all crimes are the same, and not all teams are covered the same. But, the NFL is made up of men, ages 22-32 and it would seem that this is the age where many men in society find trouble.
After directing his readers to a website that lists all NFL crimes, Sturm gets another question about whether the media has made Hardy a target:
On one hand, I agree. On the other hand, Hardy has handled the aftermath about as poorly as he could. He only needed to play the game publicly of contrition and rehabilitation for about 15 minutes a week in front of the cameras. He couldn't do that.
Why write one article about the Cowboys '"bad boys" when there is enough material for two? Fair warning, the video of Dez' rant is definitely NSFW due to language.
You can always rely on Eatman for a healthy dose of perspective. Here, he reminds us that the only reason things have grown so testy in the Cowboys' locker room is because of their winless streak:
This, is yet another example of what losing does for a football team and for individuals. This incident reminded me of a similar one in 2010. Jay Ratliff had a standoff in the locker room with a reporter about a story that was written about Ratliff reportedly being benched. That altercation went on for several minutes with some uncomfortable threats being tossed around. Want to take a stab at the Cowboys’ record during this incident? Yeah, that would be a big 1-7, thanks to a five-game losing streak.
Archer with some realness on the Dez Bryant spat:
Initially, Bryant was upset about a story written last week by ESPN's Jean-Jacques Taylor.
I can hardly blame Dez on this one. Every time I read one of JJT's pieces, I get angry and want to hit stuff, too.
These are the never-ending stories here in 2015. I would so have preferred this one:
The Cowboys defense was treated to the best scout team quarterback play they've seen since, well Tony Romo, circa 2003. Here's the Senator:
"I thought it was pretty funny seeing him out there," tight end Jason Witten said. "And he was in rare form, just as he always is. He's such a competitor and moving guys around, adjusting the routes and the protection. Just good to see him back out there. He brings a lot of energy in that huddle even though it was on scout team."
Archer pens an ode to the "new" Run-DMC
This Darren McFadden is picking up tough yards, withstanding the grind of 20-carry games and showing things he had shown just once before, 2010, his third year in the NFL....This McFadden looks more decisive. He looks more aggressive. He looks more downhill. He looks more like how DeMarco Murray looked last year. Thought of more for speed, he has displayed some power.
Number 94's early season promise vanished quickly and then never really returned:
"I've was out there early in the year, with limited playing time, and I was making plays and being some factor here and there. The last couple of games I just haven't been able to do anything.''
Gregory has not been on the field for more than 13 snaps in any of the three games since his return. He did manage two quarterback pressures - again against the Giants - but failed to make a statistical scratch against Seattle or Philadelphia.
Since his play has fallen off a bit, the Cowboys "second first rounder" acknowledges he has to regain the coaches’ trust a little:
"Day by day, I think the biggest thing in practice is showing them I can handle everything, which I have," Gregory said. "But I’ve got to kind of give them a reason to put me out there again. I’ve got to make plays. A guy like David Irving, next to me he’s probably getting the least amount of snaps than the other guys, but when he’s in there he’s making plays, so it gives him chances to get more snaps in there. I kind of have to do the same thing."
Benoit, one of the few journalists who can both watch film insightfully and write coherently, shares his mid-season all-pro team. Strangely, the only Cowboy is a defender--and an injured one at that:
Sean Lee, Cowboys
His play recognition is the most important part of Dallas’s run D. Has also had a positive impact in blitzes.
Some choice selections from Sturm's weekly chat. Here, he's asked about Tyrone Crawford, and appears to be as mystified as the rest of us are:
I really wish I had a good theory on what has happened to Crawford. I don't think he has been bad, but he has made about half as many big splashes as last season at this point. I think he showed last year he is a solid 3-tech, but maybe, just maybe, you can push him to 1-tech and find a home for him, too. I really like him and now that they have paid him, they will be looking for the best fit. Weird year, for sure.
Although Jason Garret has hemmed and hawed when asked about Tyrone Crawford's play, Rod Marinelli offered a clear, succinct answer:
"No. No. He’s got to, and he knows that," he said. "He’s just got to keep working....I think we really like where he was at the end of last year coming and now he’s just got to produce," Marinelli said. "It’s a producing position. He knows that. We’ve just got to keep going."
The Babe with his usual mid-week Q&A. Here he responds to a question about the team missing Orlando Scandrick:
Was thinking about this driving home after Philly game. He certainly would have helped, no question about that. I will say that corner is easily the Cowboys deepest position. So if they were able to absorb an injury to any unit, that is where they had the luxury of having one. But he was the Cowboys best player in the secondary, so it goes without saying that he would have helped. That said, before you think he would have been the guy taking the ball away from the other team, he has never had more than two interceptions in any of his 7 seasons.
Sturm's end-of-week Xs and Os piece. He looks at several key plays; here we get a deeper look at the Jordan Hicks pick-six. Sturm levies blame: accordingly:
For me, this comes back to the throw. We have two problems here. 1) the throw is late. You have to get it out there quicker, basically once McFadden plants his cut-foot. and 2) the throw misses to the inside. This is the killer. You can't miss to the inside. That is where the defender is. Miss high. Miss low. Miss outside. You can miss this throw a number of ways and it is only incomplete. But, if you miss to the inside (behind him) then you are going to pay dearly in the NFL.
Broaddus with his weekly match-up post. Here, the talks about why the Cowboys' interior linemen will have their hands full with Bucs DT Gerald McCoy:
McCoy is a combination of explosive quickness and power. The way he comes off the ball presents issues for blockers to have to deal with. He is disruptive at the point of attack and if not completely taken care of on the backside, he will chase the play and finish. Outstanding lateral agility and body control. Can really change direction and pursue. Can be difficult to handle when he is on the inside charge while on the move.
Grant with three reasons why the Cowboys will get off the schneid. Here's one: the "motor" for their 4-3 hasn't been playing well:
The Buccaneers are currently ranked 14th in the NFL in run defense. This defense gives up 3.7 yards per carry. They’re giving up 108.4 total rushing yards per game. That’s right in the middle of the pack in the NFL....one of the main problems that maybe the reason why this run defense have given up those amount of rushing yards per game is because of their defense tackle Gerald McCoy.
Their all-pro defensive tackle hasn’t been playing like the all-pro there are accustomed to seeing each Sunday. In the last four games he’s only registered just three tackles.
The Buccaneer's rookie signal caller has been better of late, thanks to Tampa's coaching staff helping in much the way the Cowboys helped Romo in 2014:
Tampa Bay has done a much better job the past month helping Winston manage the offense. In his first four games, he threw more than 30 passes three times. He also had seven interceptions and six touchdown passes.
The Bucs have relied more on the running game of late, limiting Winston’s opportunities to make mistakes, and the results have been much better.
He’s thrown more than 30 passes just once in his past four games.
With the Cowboys facing off against the Bucs, the inevitable "former Tampa Bay coaches" pieces have been clogging the blogosphere. Here's a good quote from the Cowboys' defensive coordinator on Bucs head coach Lovie Smith and why he stayed in Dallas:
"He's one of my best friends in my life, but I just felt that we got something started here," Marinelli said Thursday, "and I've really enjoyed it here and I've been there. Sometimes it's hard to go back. I love the [Cowboys] head coach and the organization."
The two coaches became friends while they were roommates during their rookie season as NFL coaches..
"I came from USC and Lovie came from Ohio State, so just our first year in the NFL. We were the only two in the Holiday Inn Express. Everybody else had the Marriott at the airport with their own room."
At least they stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. Maybe that explains why they know so much about defensive football.