Let's start with Sturm, because he's just plain awesome.
One of several exercises in Sturminology required by Doctor Rabbs each week. Here, he spends most of his column inches on the bright spots going forward (I see you, D-Law), but only after reminding us just how poor the Cowboys have been on third downs of late:
They hoped to be a team that could be led along with a physical running attack, but the 3rd down issues since the last collarbone injury are now impossible to overcome at 4 for 31 (12%). If you cannot occasionally convert a 3rd down and extend a drive and further a scoring attempt, well then, you get what you get.
Oh, in case you didn't hear, the Cowboys will go with Kellen Moore as the starter for the rest of the season.
Tiny Jim with the newsy news - Tony Romo will, at long last, be put on season-ending IR - and a parting tidbit:
One of those decisions might involve practice squad quarterback Jameill Showers. The rookie garnered some notoriety for his play during the preseason, and Garrett confirmed that he could be in consideration for an active roster spot these final two weeks.
Not much new here. Except this: Moore is the first left-handed quarterback to throw a pass for the Cowboys in team history. Now he will be the first lefty to start a game for the Cowboys.
Archer with a touch of historical perspective:
For just the second time in franchise history, the Cowboys will have four different starting quarterbacks in one season with Moore joining Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden and Cassel. The other time came in 2001 when Quincy Carter, Anthony Wright, Ryan Leaf and Clint Stoerner combined to go 5-11.
2001? Yeccch; that's the worst Cowboys team I've ever watched play...
After an awkward yet gutsy first game, Moore has drawn comparisons with Tony Romo, who
enjoyed suffered through a similar debut. The clear-eyed among us call balderdash on such comparisons...
As Bill Parcells used to say, let's not break out the anointing oil just yet:
The Romo comparisons are pure folly. The only thing Romo and Moore have in common is they're each undrafted free agents. Moore is listed generously at 6-foot and 200 pounds; Romo is a legit 6-2 and 230 pounds.
Romo has a strong arm; Moore doesn’t. Romo is a guy who can move around in the pocket and has a knack for using his patented spin move to create big plays from chaos. Moore has limited mobility and seemed reluctant to run against the Jets.
For now, the best thing about Moore is that he isn't Matt Cassel or Brandon Weeden.
The key, Archer reminds us, is that we don't give too much weight to these final two games, since they should have no bearing on the Cowboys' offseason plan:
The two games left this season offer him a chance to show whether he can or can’t play at this level. It’s up to him to prove those preconceived notions wrong. He won’t get a second chance.
For the Cowboys, what Moore does or doesn’t do in the final two games should have no bearing on what they do at the position behind Romo for 2016.
Fish dispenses with some tired memes and them reminds us what we should realistically expect from Kellen Moore:
One continuing error would be to view Moore as the savior. That’s a ridiculous idea as it applies to his likely career trajectory; what Dallas will look for here as it plays out the season string is whether Moore — the former Boise State star who might make up for what he lacks in measurables with his overflowing intangibles — can be a No. 2 or No. 3 QB for the future.
As I tweeted on Monday, if he has Jason Garrett's playing career, Moore will consider himself blessed, indeed.
While Jones the Younger was impressed by Kellen Moore's debut, the way he plays in these final contests will have no impact whatsoever on what the Cowboys might do in the draft:
"I think he can certainly influence what we do in a veteran quarterback type situation," Jones said. "I don't know that it necessarily influences our thought process on what we might do in the draft or what we might do looking at a younger quarterback in terms of our future."
As the Cowboys have lost eight of their 10 games without Romo, Jones has continued to wonder what could have happened if Cassel had the benefit of an offseason and a training camp as the team's backup quarterback.
He never once said publicly the Cowboys erred in moving away from Weeden.
Perhaps he should - and perhaps he should ask the coaches why Weeden could get it done in Houston but not with the Cowboys.
Those of you calling out the Cowboys' coaching staff for not being "creative" enough ("why don't they call the touchdown play!?!?") would be wise to read these pieces:
The Broad One went into the wood-paneled basement at his mother's house and clicked on the projector. Here's one of the things he saw:
My teammates on "Cowboys Break," Derek Eagleton and Nick Eatman, have been calling for Scott Linehan to get "cute" on these third-and-short situations. Both Eagleton and Eatman got their wishes when Linehan gave the Jets a heavy look, and, with Tyler Clutts in the backfield off set left, flipped the ball to Darren McFadden running right. McFadden did a nice job of getting the ball to the edge and around the corner for 12 yards due in large part to an outstanding block by Terrance Williams at the point of attack. Nice design, execution and finish for the first.
Ratty with a nice look at the various ways the Cowboys offensive braintrust has used Lucky Whitehead this year.
Taking a page from the once-great Peter King, Jaggi produces an extensive list of the "things he thinks he thinks." Many of these are worth noting; here's one that stood out in particular:
I think that Byron Jones is going to be as good of a first round choice as any of the offensive lineman taken around here the last few years. He hasn’t been spectacular but he has made enough plays and shown you the type of coverage and intelligence that can get you excited. You just get the sense that he has the makings of a real player for this defense.
Not only do the final two games offer an opportunity for the Cowboys to see how youngsters such as Chaz Green and Mark Nzeocha play under fire, but there are individual accolades to consider:
Darren McFadden needs 102 yards in the final two games to reach 1,000 for the season. Jason Witten needs 10 catches to reach 80 for the seventh time in his career. Greg Hardy can earn an extra $500,000 with 2.5 sacks to reach eight for the season.
The Babe's weekly Q&A. Here, he smartly articulates the reality that lies at the heart of the matter:
And sometimes the ball literally does not bounce your way. It is a very competitive league, where the margin between winning and losing is razor thin. Last year, the Cowboys were 4-1 in games decided by 7 points or less- this year, 2-5. The record may say otherwise, but they are not that far away. You have to resist the urge to make changes for the sake of change.
As hard as it is for fans to accept, luck plays a HUGE part in determining success in an 8-8 league. In 2014, they were pretty lucky; in 2015, had the Cowboys enjoyed a similar degree of good fortune, they'd win a second consecutive division crown. But that was not to be; they were unlucky. Decidedly so.
The Cool One delves into the Cowboys' rookie classes since 2007 and reaches the following conclusion about the 2015 crop:
The 2015 rookie class finally was hit by injuries to many of the drafted players, but made up for that with its undrafted rookies, La'el Collins chief among them. The 9.8% snap percentage narrowly edges out the 2014 class for the second best value of the last nine years.
The stats-churnin' dudes over at PFF release their weekly top performers. This one's a shocker, not only because there is a Cowboy on the list, but because of who that Cowboy is. You might want to be sitting down:
That’s much better from Bakhtiari, who has had an uneven 2015, but looks to be hitting his stride at a crucial time of the year. Free might have less to play for, but he’s reminding everyone he’s got some gas left in his tank.
There were a lot of Cardinals on the offensive side of the ball. Because they're good and, you know, the team they played isn't.