Posts by kimdunningsportsblogs

Kim Dunning is host of the radio show Stay Out of My Crease. She also blogs for Sports Elite and Inscriber Magazine. You can follow her on twitter @irish_lassie79 or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kimdunningsportsblogger/

The Work-In Progress: Dallas Cowboys Week 2

The Dallas Cowboys squeaked out a win against the Washington Redskins on Sunday.   It would be proper to thank the Redskins organization this week for not picking Alfred Morris’ contract up and for their center, who with his ten second run-off sealed the game for the Cowboys.  Although it wasn’t a pretty win, it was a win none-the-less and the Cowboys remain a work in progress.

The offense actually found the redzone more than once this week.  It was nice to see Dallas not relying on the foot of Dan Bailey.   Dak Prescott got his first NFL touchdown by rushing for 6 yards and rookie Zeke Elliott had a rushing touchdown.  The touchdown that really burns Redskins fans is the Morris one, where the offensive line opened up a wide hole and he walked on in to seal the go-ahead touchdown.

While the offense for the most part clicked on all cylinders, the defense was still wishy-washy at best, however, when it counted the defense dug deep and found a way to make big plays and stops when it needed.

Overall, this game was a much better team effort than last week’s one point lost to the Giants. 

Dak went deep, but in order to crown him the next best thing, he has to show that he can consistently go deep and connect on long passes.  This way, the defense can’t completely stack the box against the run for fear of being burned by the long pass.  He has proven that he has what it takes to play in high pressured games and keep his composure.

There was also someone missing in action all day yesterday.  There was a lot of Butler sighting but Terrance Williams was MIA.  Dallas could have used Williams to help kill time on the final drive, after all he proved he was good for that last week against the Giants. 

Dez Bryant showed up to do more than play tickle tag.  For only the second time in Bryant’s career he had over 100 yards against the Redskins.   Not only did Dez show up, he also caught the ball.  It’s the small things that count.

On offense, the chemistry is beginning to show through, slowly but surely.  The more these players work with Prescott as their quarterback, the more trust they have as an offensive unit.  It can only get better from here.

My only bone to pick here is with Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan.  I am still unsure as to why they would attempt an on-side kick with the lead.  It was a huge fail and good thing it didn’t lead to a touchdown.  It’s still mind boggling as to why Garrett has a job still.

The Cowboys are still a work in progress, but slowly but surely they are finding their chemistry on offense and in survival mode on defense.  This team should keep fans on their roller coaster ride, but that’s nothing fans don’t expect from this organization.

The Same Old Dallas Cowboys

By Kim Dunning

The Dallas Cowboys may glamour fans with promises of a high powered offense.  They may even say their offensive line is solid.  However, after watching week 1 against the New York Giants with home field advantage, the Cowboys proved they are a smoke and mirrors team lead by probably the worst coach in the league.

Let’s talk the easy part, the offensive line.  The offensive line is still arguably the best in the league.  However, the biggest weakness is Doug Free.  Fans remember a couple of years ago, Free was the worst player on the offensive line.  He made steps forward but he has taken steps back in the last few games.  Doug keeps letting blockers get free and is getting beat play after play.  It’s a good thing the rest of the line can pick up for him but they aren’t that solid line people want to believe they are.

The offense was good but not great.  The offense seemed to have the avoidance to the end zone syndrome from a few years back when Dan Bailey carried the team.  All Dallas fans can say is thank goodness they have a consistent kicker who is the most accurate one in the NFL ever.

The wide receivers with the exception of Cole Beasley were a huge disappointment.  Dez Bryant had one catch for 8 yards.  Not very well for a player who considers himself elite and whined for a big pay day and actually held out.  Now let’s get to Terrance Williams, who as a veteran wide receiver should have known to catch and get out of bounds.  Your team has the most accurate kicker in the NFL and a bonehead decision doesn’t even give him the chance.  No one will ever know if Bailey would have made his career long field goal. 

Let’s just hope Dez and T-Willy sit and think about how they helped cost their team the game.

There isn’t really anything good to say about the defense. Sean Lee, well he was pretty much the only consistent on defense.  There was no secondary to speak of and run stopping was having a party somewhere, but they were definitely not on the field.  Maybe it wasn’t that bad, but that is what it felt like to fans.  The defense had one job, to stop Jennings from getting a first down and they failed miserably.

While we are on the subject of defense, we should talk about the continual bad angles on tackles, not knowing how to keep up with your assigned receiver and not sealing up the holes.  Dallas has a bad habit of going for the strip a lot of the time before wrapping up and tackling.

Finally, let’s get to the coaching staff.  Everyone knows that Garrett is supposedly head coach and head coach only, but it sure seems like Scott Linehan is using Garrett’s old vanilla playbook.  It is beyond me why this coaching staff cannot make adjustments at half-time.  They had Zeke who is a rookie continually running like by some miracle it was going to click to go north and south as opposed to east and west.  That works in college, not the NFL for the most part.   Morris, who was a gift from the Redskins, was having better success hitting the holes and running for more positive yardage.

Call me crazy but it would seem in order to win games and score touchdowns it would be common sense to run with the running back that is more successful.

Positive notes, Dak Prescott handled his debut with class and composure something that made Dallas fans proud.  Bailey, was “Mr. automatic” as usual and Witten, Beasley and Butler stepped up and made catches and put their bodies on the line to do so.

 

Dallas hasn’t changed much in the last few years.  They really are the same old Cowboys, or at least starting the season that way.  There is too much talent on this roster for Garrett not to be able to get the very best from them.  This could be the beginning of a very long season!

The Laughing Stock of the NFL

The Dallas Cowboys once again became the butt of NFL jokes this weekend.  As the season starts on Thursday night, Dallas signed veteran backup quarterback Mark Sanchez.  Sanchez will be backing up rookie Dak Prescott.

Sanchez is infamous for his butt fumble fiasco against the Patriots when he once played for the Jets.  The Cowboys needed a veteran backup but they really went to the dirt beneath the bottom of the barrel for Sanchez.


Although people will point out that Mark has more playoff wins than the Cowboys have had in the last decade, it doesn’t help that ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has been poking fun at this move every chance he gets.

Now, as Dallas focuses for the beginning of the season against the New York Giants, one has to wonder and hope that Prescott isn’t made of glass and Sanchez does nothing more than ride the pine while getting suspended for eating hotdogs out of complete boredom.

In all seriousness though, the Cowboys have also put their foot in their mouths once again with the whole Tony Romo on injured reserves.  Romo was projected to be out 6-10 weeks with his newest injury.  Dallas refuses to put him on IR at the moment because that would force him to be out for the first 8 weeks of football.   Now Math has never been my strongest subject, but it would make sense to put him on IR since he’s predicted to be out at least 6 weeks.

Dallas will rush him back though of that I am certain.  It seems to be the trend when it comes to Romo and Dallas.  They both hurry back and it runs the risk of a more serious injury.

Finally, don’t expect Dallas to win the first game against the Giants.  There is no way the NFL will allow that on the 15th anniversary of 9/11.

For the Cowboys, hopefully this Sanchez move will be the final move that causes Dallas to be laughed at by the NFL experts, analysis and other teams’ fans.  The Cowboys have gone from a top tier respectable organization to the laughing stock of the NFL.  Thanks Jerry, on behalf of all fed up Cowboys fans!

The Jason Garrett Experiment

By Kim Dunning

The great debate lately between Cowboys fans is quite simply whether or not Jason Garrett is a good head coach.   More fuel has been added to this fire with Eric Davis’ comments from NFL Network the other night.   It’s now time to end the Jason Garrett experiment in Dallas.

 

Davis comment for those that missed it was: “I’m more interested in seeing what the coaches do.  Because when Tony went down last year, you should have been able to find a way.  That roster was good enough to find a way to win more than one game.  And I want to see what happens this time.  Because if Jason Garrett can’t do anything coming out of the gate without their quarterback, with everything else you have in place.  I still say I don’t know why he’s still there now, after that, but he may not survive it.”

 Davis didn’t say anything that a few Cowboys fans and peers of mine haven’t been saying for year.  Jason Garrett is not head coaching material.

 Garrett has always had a free pass when it comes to his head coaching career with Dallas.  It’s almost like he has blackmail on Jerry Jones and Jones is afraid to let him go because all of it would come out.  I say that very tongue-in-cheek, but any other head coach for Jones would have been gone.

Garrett’s offense was the reason why Wade Phillips was fired.  You really can’t blame Wade because he has succeeded well outside the Cowboys.  When Garrett took over at interim head coach, all the reports were how the players walked over Phillips and it was “camp cupcake” all the time.  However, things haven’t really changed for Garrett either.   Dez Bryant as passionate as he may come across to a certain selection of fans, still throws temper tantrums and mouths off on the sidelines.  Imagine if you could, Jimmy Johnson putting up with those shenanigans, because Jimmy wouldn’t have.

Garrett is a lost cause as head coach.  There is no fire befitting a redhead in him on the field and if there is behind closed doors, no one has made mention of it.  Yes, Garrett has honored Landry with the final formation after a win and he has made them wear suit and ties to games but none of those translate well onto the field.

The players are still undisciplined on the field.  The penalties pile up game after game and for the most part are drive-killing penalties.   The players still throw tantrums on the side lines and when Dallas is losing, all the body language on the sidelines screams defeated.

The Garrett experiment has been over for a while.  Ever since the stat came out he is 37% against teams with a winning percentage.  Garrett’s time is nearing the end.  As Davis stated, if Garrett can’t get talent out of this squad, we have a major problem.

The Cold Hard Truth About the Dallas Cowboys

By Kim Dunning

Dallas played their third pre-season game last night against the Seahawks.  This is the pre-season game that is most worth watching, as this is the dress rehearsal for the starting players.  This is where you see your guaranteed roster spots play.  Dallas proved a lot in this game and the cold hard facts are rather heartbreaking.First off, the elephant in the room is really Tony Romo and his health. 

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you know that Romo was injured on his first series. It was another injury to his back. Romo didn’t make the veteran decision to get rid of the ball, he made the decision to run. At 36 years old, already injury prone, he shouldn’t be running out there like he used to be able too. That Romo is gone forever fans.
The sad fact is now Romo finally has a team around him offensively.  It took almost his entire career before the Cowboys organization cared enough about him to give him the offensive line, the weapons and the running game that had been lacking.  They never gave him a chance with a defense.  This Tony story will be one that will end up heartbreakingly sad.

Romo is done.  There I said it.  His career is done.  He will start the season this year and this will be his last.  Dak Prescott will end the season being the starting quarterback.  You see, Room’s body cannot take much more abuse.  He’s already had numerous surgeries and has been injured the majority of his career.  For those that don’t know, Romo has played four complete seasons in his entire career.  

Dallas left their hero out to dry.  They took for granted a statistically great quarterback, one that probably deserves a Super Bowl and if he were like Demarcus Ware and went elsewhere would probably have had it.

The rest of the game last night was basically the same as it has been.  Dak Prescott looked amazing, poised and wasn’t flustered even when he ran the two-minute drill right before the end of the half, that set Dan Bailey up for field goal.   Regardless of whether you are “team Dak” or “team Romo”, you have to give it to Prescott that he faired very well against a very good defense.   He may actually be the real deal and just in the nick of time for Dallas. 

 Defensively, Dallas is screwed.  That’s the facts.  There is no way this pee-wee football defense is going to be able to stop anything or anyone this season.  The offense will have to put up a lot of points, have long clock killing drives and stay on the field as long as possible to win games.   It’s a sad fact that once again the organization couldn’t build a defense like they built an offense.

 

Special teams had a hiccup with a big miss by Bailey, who rarely misses.  Nothing else really stood out on special teams.  They will be serviceable when the season begins in two weeks.

Sadly, Dallas will not be a team that will compete for championships anytime soon.  It’ll be a roller coaster ride for the season, but then when isn’t it for Dallas fans.  It’s just so sad to watch Romo wither away, after all he gave the Dallas Cowboys and they just spit on him, until it was too late.

The Menagerie Collection of Dallas

By Kim Dunning

So Dez Bryant is hurt again.  Don’t freak out, he only has a concussion sustained in practice on Monday.  According to Dallas fans everywhere, don’t freak out.   This is actually a cause for at least a pause of concern.  You see Dallas has a history of drafting glass menageries as opposed to football players.

Dez Bryant is one of a few recently drafted players who cannot stay healthy.   Dez was hurt a majority of last season, which affected his production on the field.   After snagging a huge contract, after a holdout of course, Bryant was less than lackluster but it’s because he was injured.

Sean Lee is another player Dallas drafted that cannot stay healthy.   He has spent more time on the bench and injured reserves than he has being a productive player on the field.  However, in Lee’s defense, when he is on the field he is a beast.

The first round draft pick, the one most Dallas fans still cannot wrap their heads around, has been injured in the preseason with a hamstring.  Any fan of the Cowboys knows that the hamstring is the bane of all existence when it comes to their players. Remember former player Miles Austin? There are numerous occasions where Miles hammy came between him and playing.

As an educated female fan, the blame can be laid for these “glass” players on a few reasons.  The first is the players themselves.  They need to be held accountable for their own personal off-season program.  Sometimes accidents happen and it is the sport of football, which is a contact sport, but Dallas has had more than their fair share of injuries.

 The scouting program can also be blamed.  Take for example this years’ second round draft pick, Jaylon Smith.  Smith will not see action this year due to an injury sustained in college.  It’s an injury that caused a lot of teams to pass on his talent because there is no guarantee he will ever see action.  A similar situation comparative to Smith would be Bruce Carter and he is no longer a Cowboy.

The main reason would be because of their strength and conditioning program coupled with the new regulations the NFL has put in place.  The practice and non-contact restrictions put in place by the NFL has done more harm than good to the players of the NFL.  They are not fully prepared for the full contact they receive on game days and therefore the players are not well equipped to deal with hits and falling properly.

So as the NFL turns and Dallas continues to collect its menagerie collection.  Maybe within the next few years, the coaching staff, management staff and scouting department will get it right and start drafting NFL players who won’t break.

Dallas Cowboys: Evaluation Game # 2

By Kim Dunning

 

The Dallas Cowboys played their second preseason game against the Miami Dolphins on Friday night.  They were much improved in some areas but there is still a lot of work needed to be season ready.

With veterans, Tony Romo and Jason Witten playing for a few series, the Cowboys offense once again came out as a powerhouse offense.  Alfred Morris, a gift from the Washington Redskins treating him wrong, has proven that he can definitely be the workhorse of the offense.There should be no issues when it comes to the offense for the Dallas Cowboys.  They are proving that even with their backups, they have a shot to continue to compete.  


Dak Prescott, once again is showing he could potentially be the steal of the draft, much to the Cowboys haters chagrin.

Special teams are looking good and Dan Bailey continues to show that he is an intricate part of this team.  Bailey made a 51-yard attempt to close out the half for the Cowboys offense.  Bailey is so good, that the announcers even said during the game, why do they even make Bailey kick anymore.  It’s a logical question because Bailey is the best kicker ever in the league and he currently stands at making 90% of his kick and never missed an extra point in his career.  This is pretty good for an undrafted kicker.

The good news is the bubble players stepped up and protected the lead last night.  This shows that they want to make the team and will do what is necessary to make it.

The problem with the Cowboys still lies in their defense.  Their defense did look better last night and much improved from the first game.  Practice makes perfect, but they are still taking bad angles on tackles and their secondary with the exception of Morris Claiborne and Bryon Jones are still looking shaky.


The other thing with the Cowboys is they need to really watch their penalties.  The penalties are killing drives and could continue to be a problem with keeping drives going in the regular season.   Jason Garrett needs to emphasize the fact that they need to be more disciplined.  He would be well served not to clap on the sidelines when they get these bonehead penalties.

All in all, there is a vast improvement from the evaluation game 1 and evaluation game 2.  However, Dallas really needs to work on penalties, defensive tackling, secondary and the defensive line.  If Dallas can put in the hard word, my preseason 8-8 record could go up, but with Garrett at the helm, it’ll be difficult to do.