Dallas Cowboys


Friday, January 11, 2013

Valley Ranch Rehab Part 1

Valley Ranch Rehab (Part 1)
This is my 10 Step Plan to bring Dallas back to its dominating days; this section focuses on the major issues in Valley Ranch.
Step 1: Denial
There are three major issues in Valley Ranch that have everyone thinking that they’re swimming in that river in Egypt:
Issue 1: Structural Flaws in the Organization
Jerry’s strangle hold on the organization has us taking one step forward and two steps back each year. He tries to wear too many hats and this juggling act has turned into a full three ring circus. He needs to step back a bit, even if it’s just handing Stephen the reigns.
Issue 2: Lack of Execution in Situational Football
Jason Garret has never been a head coach before his tenure as interim/permanent head coach and in crunch time it shows. We need a strong battle tested captain to steer the ship, whether Jason becomes one or we go out and find one.
Issue 3: Lack of Depth/Talent in the Trenches
All of our issues on the field this year stem from a lack of talent/depth in the trenches. Every football dynasty, from the Steelers and Niners in the 70s and 80s or the Cowboys and Patriots in the 90s and 2000s, was built from the trenches out.
Step 2: Acceptance
Issue 1: The bloated contracts to overrated players, like Doug Free, Mackenzie Bernadeau, Miles Austin, etc and letting hard working under the radar guys like Chris Canty, Stephen Bowen, etc. walk away have both crippled our roster. Meanwhile, busting on players in the draft year after year, the best example of which is Felix Jones while Ray Rice, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, and Rashard Mendenhall all get drafted after him, has failed to replenish our roster.
Another perfect example of Jerry’s ill-advised moves was finding out the other day that Rob Ryan was fired. As will be discussed in detail throughout, the major flaws on the field for our team come from our terrible play in the trenches, mainly with the offensive line. Our defense was the number 1 ranked defense through the first several weeks of the season while our offense was stagnant. We were unable to run the ball or consistently sustain drives all season and our defense was ravaged with injuries as a result. Six of eleven starters and a seventh if you account for how often teams use three and four receivers and our slot corner also went down, were all lost to injuries for the rest of the season. Josh brent our second tackle in four linemen sets and backup nose tackle was also lost for the season after his terrible mistake this past fall. If anything, he should be commended for having his defense be turned into an intensive care unit and still hanging in enough games to put us in position to nearly make the playoffs. To paraphrase ESPN’s First Take’s Stephen A. Smith, this is exactly why America’s Team is actually America’s Joke.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Interview with Miami Hurricanes-RB-Mike James

The Miami section of the sideline during halft...

Having been a Miami Hurricanes fan since 1984, I have always taken pride in how many players from the program have made it the NFL and made a significant impact.  Recently, the stream of players has slowed quite a bit but one diamond in the rough, that I think, if given the chance, will not only make an NFL roster but could be a star, is Mike James.  

James has that middle to late round star running back written all over him.   His college stats compare quite nicely with another late round pick, Terrell Davis. Only look at guys like Adrian Foster, Alfred Morris, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis to know you can find a franchise back at any time in the draft or after it.   The thing about Mike James, to go with his athletic ability, is the character and wisdom of someone much more seasoned than a college senior.   Any NFL team looking for a talented high character running back needs to look no further than Mike James from the University of Miami.

What are your official height, weight, bench and speed?
Mike James: I am 5-11 ½ and roughly 222 pounds.  I run a low 4.5.  Last time I benched I did 225 pounds twenty eight times.

What other school recruited you besides Miami?
MJ: I got offers from a lot of schools including Florida State, USF, all the Big East schools, every school in the ACC, except North Carolina and North Carolina State.  I also got an offer from Notre Dame.

Tell me a little about your work that allowed you to be nominated for theAllstate AFCA Good Works Team? 
MJ: I enjoy doing community work such as volunteering for Empowered Youth, project manager for the 2012 University of Miami Bone Marrow Drive and serving meals to the homeless, anything to help others in challenging situations.    I was just doing what I usually did before playing at Miami.    I grew up in a tough situation, but no matter what, you can always help others, as someone always has it worse.  

As the two year anniversary of your mother’s passing just happened, I have to ask where you found the strength to play in the Bowl game that year against Notre Dame eleven days after the accident.    MJ: Playing in the bowl game was the toughest thing I ever did but being on the field with my teammates eased my mind.  I did not want the last image I had for the year, to be my mom laying there after the accident.    I just felt I needed to be on the field with my guys and make my mother and family proud.

How challenging have the past two seasons been at Miami? Did you ever regret your decision to go to Miami? Crazy, challenging and unreal happiness, but I don’t regret anything about my time at Miami.  I didn’t share that I suffered from turf toe my junior year, as I wasn’t looking for pity and knew with a coaching change I needed to stay on the field.

What was the biggest adjustment between Coach Al Golden and CoachRandy Shannon?
MJ: Attitude.  Coach Shannon and Coach Golden have very different styles and very different demeanor.   I was brought in by Coach Shannon so I was technically his guy, but Coach Golden has been great too.   I’ve learned a lot from both men and can never thank them enough.

What are your feelings of playing special teams?
MJ: I love playing special teams.  I love dominating the guy in front of me.    I just want to be on the field whether it is as a fullback, tailback or special teams.

Who has been the best player you faced during your football career either at Miami or as an opponent? MJ: Best opponent was Marvin Austin at North Carolina, and the best player I knew as a teammate was Sean Spence(currently with the Pittsburgh Steelers).  Sean really packed a punch and is a special talent.

What is something an NFL scout or coach couldn’t learn about you by just watching game film?  
MJ: I consider myself an intelligent player who loves to break plays down to learn the inside and out of the play.   I often laminate plays to have them with me to study.

With no bowl game to show your skills one last time, what are you doing to stay in shape in preparation for the April Draft?
MJ: Working out every day.  Some all-star games like the East/West Shrine and the Raycom College Football All-Star Classic.

Who has big the biggest influence on your football career
MJ: My mom was the reason I played.   She wanted me involved in sports, so I played for her.

If a scout, coach and general manager wanted to see Mike James at his best at Miami what game film would you give them?   
MJ: The games from my senior year would be the Georgia Tech, Florida State or the North Carolina game.
Finish this sentence.  When Mike James was a kid I pretended to be _________ when I played football with my family and friends?  
MJ: Emmitt Smith and Terrell Davis

After your football career is complete where do you see yourself career wise?
MJ: Right now I am working as a marketing intern for the Miami Dolphins and working on my Masters.  I can see myself in the world of sports in some capacity.

If you could have dinner with any three people who would they be? 
MJ: Vince Lombardi, as he had the mind of a winner; JFK, just to pick his brain, and Martin Luther King, as he was such a great leader but without any violence.

Describe yourself in a few words? 
MJ: Loyal, tough, honest and charismatic.

Can fans follow you on Twitter?
MJ:  @Prince_James_5

Follow me on twitter at @ftballdialogue 

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

NFL Fans Are Obsessed with America's Team Designation

Dallas Cowboys 2009
Dallas Cowboys 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a lifelong Dallas Cowboys football fan, I cannot help but laugh when I read or hear the constant debate regarding their title of “America’s Team.”
I have seen polls on major websites asking the specific question: Are the Dallas Cowboys still America’s team?  I have read countless articles by respected journalists throughout the country arguing that the Dallas Cowboys should not be considered America’s team anymore. I have also heard other players saying that the Dallas Cowboys are not America’s team anymore, or even better, talking up their team as America’s team, or even funnier, saying their team is the world’s team instead. 
My question to all this is, “Who cares?”
For anyone who knows the true story about the nickname of America’s team, it was not something Dallas gave to themselves because, as we all know, you cannot give yourself a nickname. Did we not learn that watching the Seinfeld episode with George trying to give himself the nickname “T-Bone”?  
Instead this nickname was given to the Cowboys by Bob Ryan at NFL Films in 1978 after watching season highlights and noticing how the Dallas Cowboys had so many fans, even for road games.    Initially, as the story goes, Coach Landry did not even like the name, but eventually accepted it.   
The issue I find funny, and kind of sad, is the obsession with so many parties trying to stake claim to that nickname for their team.   
I might be wrong, but I am willing to bet the reason the name sticks with the Dallas Cowboys is simply that they are beloved and hated almost equally, so it means they make money for the league, the networks and all the merchandise arms of the NFL.   
The Dallas Cowboys games on Sunday, Monday and Thursday night are traditionally in the top two or three for ratings for the season, and often they are part of games that set record ratings. Dallas Cowboys merchandise sells not only in Texas or the South, it sells everywhere. 
This summer I was in Lancaster, Penn., and had to laugh when I noticed all the sports stores we went to had Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys gear. Which one does not belong? The others were all from cities within driving distance of Lancaster, but Dallas had the biggest shelf space and the most merchandise. 
This might all explain the recent Forbes evaluation of the NFL franchise that placed Dallas with a valuation of $2.1 billion, the New England Patriots second at $1.64 billion, the Washington Redskins third at $1.6 billion and New York Giants fourth at $1.47 billion.   
The difference between first and second is almost half a billion dollars. Even the biggest Cowboys haters have to admit that is a pretty nice price tag for a franchise that has only won one playoff game in recent memory.   
I think the players, media and fans who are so concerned with the title of America’s team should focus on their team and leave the rest up to what happens on the field. If they are not careful, maybe they will be given a nickname they don’t like, say, maybe, “Ko Ko”?

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012: Seattle Seahawks Vs. Dallas Cowboys on November 27, 1980

Tom Landry, former head coach of the Dallas Co...
Tom Landry, former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Approaching another Thanksgiving, now as a father of two small children, I cannot help but reflect on the great memories I have from my childhood for this time of year. I grew up in a family with two brothers, one older and one younger and one passion we all shared was football. We played football against our friends and family, we watched our favorite team whenever they were on and read about the games in newspapers and magazines. Football was in our blood especially around Thanksgiving.
I talked with my brothers the other day and asked what if any game stuck out in their memories to see if it matched mine and we all agreed the first great football memory was a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks in 1980 when the Cowboys defeated the Seahawks 51-7. My memories are vivid for several reasons. First, it was one of the last Thanksgivings we had at my grandparent's house as my grandfather would pass away in the summer of 1982, so it was the next to last Thanksgiving we had with him. Regarding the matchup, as a lifelong Cowboys fan the game was as close to perfect as you could get with a total domination by the Tom Landry led Cowboys.

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Get Some Help Jerry Jones-- Please!!!!

Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys.
Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I consider myself a die-hard Cowboys fan for the past 32 years. My first real football memories are of the 1980 season when I was eight and let me say we are at a crossroads for this franchise. The Cowboys are not lacking talent, as they have several players that would start on many NFL teams. After years of struggle, thanks to Bill Parcells, they solved their quarterback deficiency with Tony Romo. Contrary to many people, I like our coaching staff and believe it is pretty talented with head coach, Jason Garrett, and coordinators Rob Ryan and Bill Callahan. Amazing what a great offensive mind Garrett has when DeMarco Murray is healthy and how suddenly "he can't call a run play" is the cry when he stuck with Felix Jones. Let us all remember the early struggles of some of the best coaches ever. Garrett has the ability; he just needs time and the authority to run a team. Our singular problem is one man, our meddlesome owner, Jerry Jones.

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