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Written by Darren | 19 November 2010

 

The Detroit Lions head into Cowboys Stadium Sunday at 1pm Eastern looking to end a 25-game road losing streak. The Cowboys are looking for their first win at home this season.

This game could be dubbed the "Battle of the Backups" as Kitna gets set to take on Shaun Hill. Kitna struggled the first few weeks after the Romo injury but finally led his team to victory last week with a 327 yard, 3 Touchdown performance against the New York Football Giants. Believe it or not, Kitna's quarterback rating of 124.1 against the Giants is better than injured starter Tony Romo had in all but one game this year. Shaun Hill passed for over 300 yards against the Bills but his receivers dropped a lot of balls and the Lions couldn't find a way to beat the previously winless Bills.

There are a few things that the Cowboys will need to pay attention to this weekend. If you look at the Lions numbers for receptions, it’s tight end Brandon Pettigrew and running back Jahvid Best that are having productive seasons and receiver Calvin Johnson leads the team with nine touchdowns.

The Lions’ offense is having the same problems that the Cowboys are and that is the inability to run the football because the offensive line tends to struggle getting any type of push or securing linebackers at the point of attack. Jahvid Best is having a much easier time catching the ball than running it this season.

Kitna and the offensive line will certainly have to pay attention to Ndamukong Suh. This rookie seems to be anything but a rookie and will certainly be an anchor on this Lions team as they develop in the years to come. A matchup to watch on the outside is defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch against Doug Free. Vanden Bosch is second on the team with four sacks.

I can see Kitna having success by throwing at the outside corners. Alphonso Smith and Chris Houston don’t have much height, who are both in the 5-foot-9 range. Their height issues should allow for Miles and Dez to have big numbers, if the offensive line can give Kitna the time.

If Stafford were playing, I actually might pick the Lions to sneak out a win. Either way, I don't see this being a high scoring affair. If the Cowboys want to be 2-0 under the new head coach, Garrett will need the same type of effort and intensity that his team played with against the Giants to come away with a victory.

 

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Written by Darren | 17 November 2010

Rookie cornerback Bryan McCann was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week today. McCann, in his second NFL game, intercepted an Eli Manning pass and returned it 101 yards for a touchdown. 

It was McCann's first career touchdown and in the process he set a franchise record with the interception return. McCann finished the game with five tackles, one tackle for loss and a pass breakup. McCann earned extra playing time because of injuries to Terence Newmanand Mike Jenkins. 

McCann’s 101-yard return tied Amos Marsh (101-yard kickoff return) and Ike Thomas (101-yard kickoff return) for the second-longest play in Cowboys history. 

McCann is the second Cowboys player to win the award, DeMarcus Ware won it in Week 3.

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Written by Darren | 16 November 2010

The Cowboys defeated the Giants 33-20 in the new Meadowlands stadium and looked pretty good doing so. Here is what we are buying and selling this week.

Buying

Jason Garrett - I said it last week, the Cowboys had to do something about the coach but I didn't believe Jason Garrett was the answer. I was wrong, at least for this week. It appears that Garrett went into the locker room and ruled it in a way that Wade Philips couldn't. He seemed to have a lot more answers than Wade ever did. If Jason Garrett wants to lose that "interim" title, Sunday was certainly a step in that direction.

Jon Kitna - This win was a long time coming for Jon Kitna and he finally looked comfortable taking snaps as a Dallas Cowboy. He was calm and cool when the Giants were able to put pressure on him and when he got time, was able to move the offense. Kitna's numbers for the day 13 of 22 for 327 yards and 3 TD's. He was picked off once and sacked once.

Bryan McCann - Wade Philips didn't seem like he wanted to put in the inexperienced kids to see what they could bring, even when the season got away from him. The Cowboys had no choice but to put McCann in this week due to injuries so it remains to be seen if Garrett will be different than Philips in that aspect. McCann picked off Eli Manning and took it 101 yards to the house, the longest return in Cowboys history. While McCann did get beat on a few plays, he looks like he would certainly improve once given more snaps.


Selling

David Buehler - Why is it that the place kicker for the Dallas Cowboys always seems to be an issue? Buehler missed a PAT attempt and then missed a 34-yard FG try. Buehler's strength is supposed to be kickoffs but he didn't do that well either. Of his seven kicks, only one got into the end zone and that was returned. The Cowboys still have issues with their place kicker and we all kind of forgot about that!

Marion Barber - Barber, it appeared, didn't follow the new dress code. While most of his teammates wore suits and ties with dress shoes, the veteran running back had sneakers, an untucked shirt, jeans and a blazer. We know Barber has dress clothes, we've seen him wear a suit in the past. Why is he being a shithead and trying to test the new head coach? Is he trying to make a statement? Garrett is trying to change the Cowboys and those changes come in many forms. I for one, wouldn't cry to see this guy get a ticket out of town during the off-season and its not just about the dress code.

Pass Rush - Didn't seem to get much pressure on Eli Manning. I think they hurried him once. Thankfully the defense played a great game and Eli made a few mistakes.

 

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Written by Darren | 15 November 2010

Give David Garrard credit, his hail mary was one for the ages BUT when it comes to hail marys in the NFL, nothing will top what I believe to be the definitive hail mary, the one that gave these plays a name. The expression was made famous when it was used to describe the game-winning touchdown pass by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson in a NFL 1975-76 divisional playoff game. Afterwards, it was reported that Staubach said, "I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary."

 

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Written by Darren | 15 November 2010

rsz_jason_garrett_111410The Jason Garrett Era as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys starts with a stunning 33-20 win over the NFC East-leading New York Giants. One thing very absent from the field were the costly penalties from Dallas, the costly turnovers, and mostly, the costly bone-head plays. In other words, the Cowboys looked like a competitive NFL team for the first time in a long while.
 
 Dallas took a commanding lead early and sent a stunned Giants team into the locker room at halftime. The Cowboys were up 19-3 at that point. The third quarter was a very interesting 15 minutes of play as we saw 28 points scored in that quarter, plus a power outage in the stadium.
 
 So is Jason Garrett the solution? After one week its hard to argue against the changes that he's made in practice but it was only one game. Jason Garrett and the Dallas Cowboys have a long way to go. They've dug a huge hole, and only consistent good play will give any belief they are on the way back up, for good.
 
 The Cowboys did a great job focusing on the Giants all week and not looking at the past or the future. This week the Cowboys get to focus on playing the Detroit Lions, who will have something to prove next week after losing to the Buffalo Bills yesterday.

We will talk much more about this game and the next one in the days ahead but for now, we will sit back and feel good about what Dallas gave us yesterday.

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Written by Darren | 12 November 2010

A few weeks ago, we had a Q & A session with the guys over at UltimateNYG before the Cowboys/Giants MNF disaster game. We thought we would switch it up a little for this matchup and do a scouting report for each other. From a Giants point of view, this is what the Cowboys can expect to see on Sunday. Of course I am hoping for a win but I am mostly hoping that we come out of this game in better shape than we did a few weeks ago.

Offensive Line
 
Injuries are leading to some new sets of linemen for the Giants.  Shaun O'Hara, the Pro Bowl center, has been in and out of the lineup all year and has multiple injuries.  He has not practiced as is less likely to play on Sunday.  Adam Koets, the backup center, was hurt last week vs Seattle.  This means that G Rich Seubert moves over to play Center.  LT David Diehl will miss his first ever career start (since joining the team in 2003) with a torn hamstring. There is a lot of opportunity for opposing teams to test the backups and the communication between this unit.  Shawn Andrews, the former Pro Bowl Tackle from the Eagles, is a very credible backup which will assist this transition.  2009 2nd round draft pick Will Beatty is recovering from a broken leg and will be back this week but his efforts in 2010 have not been nearly as effective as the promise he showed in 2009.  Rookie Mitch Petrus has the inside path to start at LG for the first time in his career.  Kevin Boothe looks to get snaps, coming off the PUP.
 
QB
 
Eli Manning is the weakest link on the offense.  Eli Manning is the strongest link on the offense.  It varies from quarter to quarter, game to game.  Eli's overall stats have been impressive, but his turnovers have been troublesome. If Eli plays up to the level he is capable of ON A CONSISTENT BASIS for 4 quarters, the Giants can stamp their ticket for Dallas in February.
 
RB
 
As long as Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs and Danny Ware stay healthy, good things are going to happen.  Bradshaw is underutilized in open space.  Defenses have to account for his ability to cut back when there is no hole.  Defenses should know that while Bradshaw loves to fight for the extra yard, it is an opportunity for them to strip the ball while he is upright and not yet tackled.
 
WR
 
The emergence of 2nd year WR Hakeem Nicks has completely changed the tone of the entire offense.  He is the "X" receiver that replaces the loss of Plaxico Burress, only without the baggage, with more work ethic and a greater set of skills.  On pace for 1300 yards, he is a tremendous talent with large hands, a terrific first step after he catches the ball, a nose for the end zone and very good footwork on the sidelines.  Add that Pro Bowler Steve Smith cannot be singled either and you begin to understand why the Giants have the #1 offense in the league.   
 
TE
 
Kevin Boss would be a featured WR in a different system, but Kevin Gilbride has never commensurately utilized his TE in proportion to their talent.  Soft hands make this large body a great red zone target.  Surprisingly, he only has 1 TD, delivered almost intentionally by Manning to him so that his first homecoming to the Pacific Northwest could be a splash.
 
DL
 
Osi Umenyiora has stolen the headlines with his league-leading sack strip fumbles.  But the Giants resurgence this year stems from the shoring up of this unit, which was injured and is now healthy.  Tuck, Canty, and Cofield all get notable mentions.
 
LB
 
Michael Boley has the most range for the 21st century NFL passing league.  The emergence of Jonathan Goff at MLBer has been crucial to the run defense.
 
CB
 
Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas are quietly as good as any pair of CBs in the league.  
 
S
 
Deon Grant fills the box.  Antrel Rolle fills the airwaves.  Kenny Phillips fills space over the top.  In today's NFL, where your Safety is vital, the Giants are solid. 
 
Special Teams
 
Rookie Punter Matt Dodge is making less mistakes.  KR Reynaud has been replaced by Blackmon.  So right there, the Giants are improving.  Given how terrible specials were, this area is still a big weakness, but at least it is not a huge liability every time they are on the field.  
 
Coaching
 
The defense is playing for DC Perry Fewell.  Kevin Gilbride has his X Wide Receiver in Hakeem Nicks.  As Fewell goes, so goes Tom Coughlin.

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Written by Darren | 08 November 2010

Wade Philips leaves the Dallas Cowboys today as Jerry Jones relieved him of his duties with the team. These are the top five and bottom five moments from Wade Phillips' tenure as the Cowboys' coach:

The Top 5

1. Dallas defeats Philadelphia, 34-14, in the 2009 NFC wild-card game, Phillips' first playoff victory of his career and the first Cowboys playoff win since 1996.

2. The Cowboys defeat the previously unbeaten New Orleans Saints, 24-17, on Dec. 19, 2009, ending what appeared to be another December swoon.

3. Cowboys win Phillips' regular-season opener, defeating the New York Giants, 45-35. It was the first of five straight wins as Cowboys coach for Phllips.

4. .Dallas beats Detroit, 28-27, on Dec. 9, 2007, to clinch the NFC East. The club was 12-1 at the time.

5. A 24-0 win over Philadelphia at Cowboys Stadium in front of 100,621 is the club's second straight shutout of 2009 and has team on roll headed into playoffs.

The 5 Moments To Forget

1. Needing a win to secure a playoff appearance, the Cowboys are trounced by Philadelphia, 44-6, in the final game of the 2008 season. They fall to 9-7 and are out of the playoffs one season after going 13-3. The game comes one week after Dallas fell, 33-24, in the final game played at Texas Stadium in front of a sellout crowd and a gaggle of legendary Cowboys.

2. After a first-round bye, the favored Cowboys lose to the Giants, 21-17, in the NFC divisional playoffs in the 2007 season. A 13-3 record turns into playoff disappointment.

3. Despite all the excitement of the opening of Cowboys Stadium on Sept. 20, 2009, Dallas loses, 33-31, to the Giants in front of a record crowd of 105,121.

4. In a 2010 season full of disappointing moments, Phillips watches as his team plays poorly in a 45-7 loss to Green Bay that drops them to 1-7.

5. A Super Bowl favorite to start the season, the Cowboys desperately need a home win against the Giants. Instead, they lose 41-35 in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated to fall to 1-5. Quarterback Tony Romo fractures his left collarbone and could miss the remainder of the season.

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Written by Darren | 08 November 2010

We knew it was coming. After being embarrassed on National TV last night, Jerry was kind of forced to do this. I asked for it this morning, even if that meant Jason Garrett taking over. I don't think he'll be the coach next season but it was a move that was very much needed. I know Wade is a great guy, but this is business and from that aspect, he lost the team.

More to come right here on the Nation!!

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Written by Darren | 08 November 2010

The Cowboys traveled to Green Bay on Sunday night and I am not even sure the Cowboys ever got off the plane once it landed in Green Bay. The Packers outright embarrased the Cowboys on national TV. The entire team has quit on Wade Philips. The Packers were up 14-0 very quickly and that is all they would need in order to beat the Cowboys. Of course they went on to kill them by a score of 45-7.

I had agreed with Jerry Jones stance, that firing a coach midseason really didn't need to happen because what exactly would that solve. The Cowboys were done and there was zero chance of saving the season. Last night we got the answer and the Cowboys need to stop the embarrasment that is their team. Firing the coach now might shake the team up a little, to the point where they actually give some effort in the 60 mins that they are on the field because right now, there is NO effort. Something has to be done and Wade isn't going to survive this, he can't and right now, he's nothing more than a dead man walking. Last week I said that if the Cowboys were going to get even one more win this season, they would have to win a game they had no business winning. Now, they aren't even trying so there is no way that they are going to win anything.

Lets look at a few things from last night.

The Cowboys pass rush, to me, seemed unprepared. As Chris Collinsworth kept pointing out all night long, the defense kept rushing past Rodgers and would try to come back down and get him but everytime they would rush high, he would step up and fire a pass down field or take off running. The Cowboys D never changed their plan of attack and got burned everytime. What exactly are the coaches doing if they aren't preparing their team or making adjustments during the game?

Even when the Cowboys did something right, it turned out to be wrong. Let me explain with a couple of examples. The Cowboys blocked a FG very early on and should have had decent field position but Terrence Newman fell on the play and in doing so, kicked the ball which cost them yardage. I know, those things happen but once you block a FG, aren't you supposed to stay clear of the ball? I know Leon Lett knows all about that! Demarcus Ware had a great stop in the backfield at one point but got called for a facemask penalty. It was unintentional but it still happened. The Cowboys got a break on a beautiful punt that pinned the Packers down on their own 7 yard line. 10 plays and 5 mins later the Packers were in the endzone. The drive looked almost effortless.

Dumb challenges are costly. For some reason, Wade decided to challenge a TD run early in the game. Regardless of whether or not he was in the endzone, winning the challenge would have put the Packers at the 1 inch line and looking at the review, it wasn't something the Cowboys should have challenged. Don't we have coaches watching reviews and telling Wade what to do? So that challenge cost us a time out and later, when we needed to challenge a play that would have been reversed in our favor, we were out of timeouts and therefore couldn't challenge which led to 7 points for the Packers. Dumb mistakes are made by this team from the front office to the coaching staff to the players.

Speaking of mistakes, Felix Jones completely missed a blitz and Jon Kitna almost had his head ripped off of his body. It was the same type of play/mistake made by Gronkowski that cost Romo his collerbone. Players have to be aware of what is happening on the field and at least try to get in the way of a blitz. Again, I will point to the coaches and ask why can't they get this team and its players to successfully do the little things?

Finally, if you need proof this team has quit just go to the touchdown by James Jones in the third quarter. Mike Jenkins had a chance to put a hit on him near the goal line but just pulled up and watched him dance in the endzone. That play and the way the players look walking around the sidelines speaks volumes for me.

So, this team right now is an embarrasment and I wasn't calling for the firing of Wade Philips until January but the Cowboys have to do something right now. Make Campo the coach again for all I care or even Jason Garrett. Something has to be done to shake up this team a bit. The season can't be saved, we know that but the Cowboys, even if they go 1-15 could at least do so with some dignity.

I do wish someone could explain why Tashard Choice isn't involved in this team at all. He eventually got in the game last night and had 3 carries for 9 yards in the 4th, which is the first time he has seen action in a month but he wasn't put in the game until very late. You can't tell me that Felix Jones and Marion Barber are better options at this point.

I guess we will see what this week brings but the Cowboys head into New Jersey next Sunday to take on the very hot New York Giants and that game, based on the Cowboys performance yesterday and the way the Giants manhandled the Seahawks yesterday has the potential of being an even bigger blowout than last night.

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Written by Darren | 05 November 2010

The last time that these two historic franchises met was in 2009 on a Sunday afternoon contest at Lambaeu Field. The Packers were at a real crossroads in their season with a record of 4-4 and really going nowhere after back-to-back losses to the Vikings and the Bucs. The Cowboys were 6-2 and all seemed right in the world for the team as they prepared for that trip to Green Bay riding a four-game winning streak. The Packers beat the Cowboys 17-7 and that day saved their season.

There was once a point in time where a number of people circled this game on the calendar as a possible NFC Championship preview. Both these teams were supposed to be powerhouses in the conference. Green Bay still has that ability as they sit 5-3 a top the NFC North but the Cowboys are anything but in the race. The Cowboys are coming off another disappointing loss at home to the Jaguars while the Packers are coming off a pretty good week as they shutout the Jets on the road.

Some notes for Sundays game:

  • Cowboys lead the series with a 12-11 record against the Packers
  • Dallas has pretty much owned the Packers in recent years winning 8 or the last 11 meetings.
  • NBC is probably sorry they got this game since the Cowboys have been so awful!!

Cowboys Notes

- RB Marion Barber has rushed for 249 yards in 3 career games vs. GB (83 per game).  Incl. playoffs, RB Felix Jones has 8 career TDs (7 rush, 1 KR) & averages 47.1 yards per TD (377 yards)
- WR Roy Williams had 5 catches for 105 yards (21.0 avg.) & TD in last meeting.
- LB Keith Brooking has 44 tackles in 5 career games vs. GB, incl. 10 in last meeting.  Ranks 2nd on team with 42 tackles in ’10.

Packers Notes

- In 3 career games vs. Cowboys, QB Aaron Rodgers has completed 65 of 101 (64.4 pct.) for 680 yards with 2 TDs & 0 INTs for 90.4 rating.
- RB Brandon Jackson has 398 scrimmage yards (281 rush, 117 rec.) in past 4 games (99.5 per game)
- CB Charles Woodson had 47th career INT last week, tied for most among active NFL CBs.  Since 2008, Woodson leads NFL with 18 INTs (Kitna threw 4 INT's last week!!)

Final Thoughts

I know Roy Williams is trying to be a positive role model in the locker room by refusing to believe the season is gone and actually believing the Cowboys can win 9 in a row. The truth is, other than week 3 in Houston, the Cowboys haven't given us much reason to believe that they can put together a confident and disciplined game plan. The Packers want to keep rolling, especially with the Bears playing the really bad Bills this weekend. With that said, the Cowboys worse games this season have been at home and maybe playing away from Cowboy Stadium this week can work in their favor.

I still think the Cowboys fall to 1-7 and talk of replacing Wade Philips mid-season gets much louder this week. I'm picking the Packers in a 28-17 win.

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