Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Listening the World Series with a heavy heart

So I'm sitting here listening to the Philadelphia broadcast of the continuation of game 5 of the World Series. As I type this Brad Lidge is trying to close down the game and series for the Phillies and he'll probably be done by the time I finish this post. (1 out)

I'm conflicted as I listen to Lidge. Just three years ago, he was a pitch away from sending the Astros into the 2005 World Series and he hung a slider to Albert Pujols that he hit so hard that it took about six days for it to land. (He just gave up a single). I firmly believe that if Lidge had been able to close the door on that game 5, the Astros would have won the World Series. I could be wrong. I mean, they didn't just lose, they got swept by the White Sox. (stolen base, man on 2nd, one out)

After that pitch, he wasn't the same. In the World Series, he gave up (2 outs) a walk off home run in game 2 to Scott Podsednick and the winning run in game 4. Then the next two years, he was a shell of himself (0-2 count), giving a bunch of hits, unable to strike guys out like before, and his ERA went up 3 runs from the previous year. (That's the ball game on a strike out. Fitting. Congrats Bill) He was a classic "needed a change of scenery" guys. So he moves on to Philadelphia and becomes what he used to be in Houston before Pujols crushed him and the hearts of Astros fans. Automatic and now a World Series Champion.

I'm happy for Brad Lidge. He was awesome for the Astros for three years and was a huge part of two Astro playoff teams, but I can't help but be a little sad at what I missed.

Monday, October 27, 2008

How I'm Feeling (with 2 buts)

After the St. Louis game, my facebook status said, "Russell is wondering what in the hell is wrong with the Cowboys." Two of my friends posted asking me to say how I really feel. Well, today I'm feeling much better, and winning a game, no matter how ugly, will do that for you. It was good to see some great effort from the Cowboys as opposed to the way they played against the Rams where they got down and couldn't get back up to save it's life. The defense looked better despite losing another cornerback and having to trot out 2 rookies (Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick) and guy who's been active a grand total of 3 times over the last two years (Alan Ball). I think the biggest change was in the attitude, especially on defense and Marc Columbo. So things are looking much better than they did a week ago.

I think they get slaughtered next week against the Giants. I watched a bit of the Giants/ Steelers game yesterday and I fear for the life of Brad Johnson. I think we see Brooks Bollinger next week and we may never see Johnson again because he will be in a body bag. The Giants sacked Ben Roethlisberger 4 times yesterday. How many does that add up to for the Cowboys next week? About 10? They need to run the ball early, often, and well to give them a chance to keep the game close, especially if Jason Witten is out. Also, with a decimated secondary, unless they can really pressure Eli Manning, he and Plaxico Burress and the rest of the Giants wide receiver corp will run wild against the Cowboys' defense. Next weeks game could be one of those 35-10 games.

I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel. After the Giants game, they have a bye. Then they'll hopefully welcome back Tony Romo, Felix Jones, Terrence Newman, Anthony Spencer, a fully integrated Roy Williams, Jason Witten, Bradie James, Anthony Henry(assuming the last three are out this week),and Kyle Kosier. If they add these guys back, they'll be set for a strong effort down the stretch, which is something they haven't had since..... I don't know when. This team isn't dead yet. The Bucs game may be a turning point.

Monday, October 20, 2008

No Longer a Kneejerk

Sometimes it sucks being right. It's taken me four days to try to come to grips with the latest Cowboys debacle. There is no other way to spin what happened this past Sunday. The Cowboys were laughed at by the Rams. Every team has games when they aren't at their best, but the problem I saw Sunday was a whole bunch of guys who looked like they didn't care about getting their butts handed to them by the Rams. Only DeMarcus Ware acted liked he game a rip about playing football for Dallas. This season could go down the drain in a hurry if something doesn't change. The problem is I don't know what they could possibly change to turn around the season. They are officially on the fast track to missing the playoffs.

Losing Tony Romo is not helping matters, but he wasn't playing that great anyway when he got hurt. Brad Johnson is definitely not the answer, but who's really excited to see what Brooks Bollinger has to offer? I've seen what he's got when I was in New York, and I'll tell you it's not alot.

Even when Tony Romo comes riding in on the white horse, either this week or after the bye week, it's not gonna matter unless the offensive line continues to stink. They are providing about as much protection as a circa 1967 beaded door. I think Marian Barber is tiptoeing and may be proving that he is not a feature back, but if he has to make moves in the backfield, then that's on the offensive line.

And it's not like the defense has done anything worth remembering. Their two best cornerbacks are out, Terrence Newman with injury and Adam Jones with suspension, so rookies get to take two of the top spots and the other is a guy they wanted to move to safety.

The coaching has to put under the microscope as well. Can a head coach like Wade Phillips really inspire confidence in having a real plan going forward? Do we really think that is going to turn over a table? Would that even work? The one major change that comes out of the Rams game is that Wade is going to take up calling the defensive plays. Oh boy, just what we need.

The season is not over. They still have time to turn it around and become the team that everyone expected them to be at the beginning of the year. But they are expected to lose this weekend against the Bucs. Can they muster a decent effort against the Giants? If not, it may be a blood letting. This could be a long season.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The continuing destruction of the 2008 Cowboys

The Cowboys are 4-1 and tied for 2nd in the NFC East. Sure, they struggled the last couple of games, losing one to the Redskins and having to scratch and claw to keep their head above water against the Bengals. But that's ok, because the Bengals took the Giants to overtime a few weeks ago in New York. Tough game coming up with the Cardinals, but the Cowboys will be focused on the game and should take care of business.

Now, excuse me while I take my rose colored glasses off and start knee jerking.

The Cowboys are on a road for this year that I don't like. I'll start with the least concerning and go up.
1. I'm concerned about Tony Romo. He has not looked sharp since Green Bay. There were a few throws against the Bengals that looked short. He continues to throw stupid interceptions like the one in the end zone last week- Jason Witten was tripled covered. How many games will he lose this year because of dumb mistakes.

2. The defense still doesn't look good. There was absolutely no pressure on Carson Palmer until the final series. There were wide receivers running free in the secondary again, just like in the Redskins game. They were getting gashed on the ground. Terrence Newman is hurt and who knows when he will returns. That leaves a still rusty Adam Jones (more on PacMan later) and two rookies, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick. By the way, I know Jones missed all of last year, but how long does it take to shake off whatever "rust" he has? He has looked all kinds of mediocre. I watched just about every game with him in Tennessee and he looked really good, but Dallas is still waiting for him to start playing.

3. Everyone keeps talking about the reason that Terrell Owens is not getting the ball as much is that he is being double teamed with a corner and a safety. I wonder if his problem is that he is either 1) loosing a step or 2) Tony Romo is sucking. I'm skeptical of the whole double team thing. How in the world do the Redskins stack the box against the run (obviously the problem because the Cowboys completely abandoned the run) and take TO out of the game with a double team. You gotta be able to do one or the other if you're a good team.

4. Penalties and just all around undisciplined play kills this team. A critical stop against the Redskins is negated because of 12 men on the field. They come back from a time out after a punt and get a delay of game penalty. A drive is stalled because an offensive line decides to pile on after a play is over drawing a personal foul. Those are signs of an undisciplined team and a lack of discipline will cost this team.

5. Finally, I beginning to think that the problem with the Cowboys is Jerry Jones and the way he runs things. On the surface, things are better for the Cowboys than they were after Jimmy Johnson. The drafts are better and the free agency moves aren't so haphazard, but he continues to close his eyes to the problems on the team. He refuses to take character into account when taking people onto the team and places too much faith in the program that Calvin Hill is running for the Cowboys. He brings in Terrell Owens, who isn't a bad guy. He's never been busted for drugs or abusing his wife or girlfriend, but he is a jerk. He's your typical arrogant, self absorbed wide receiver. Jones also brings in Adam Jones, who can't or won't get away from being "PacMan." He's a good, not great, player who hasn't been near worth the trouble so far. On top of all that, and I'm including Tank Johnson and Keith Davis in "all that," he hires who can only be described as a cross between a village idiot and Sargent Schultz from Hogan's Heroes. I don't really think that Wade Phillips is complete idiot who spends most the time asleep at the wheel, but do you really think that he is holding the whip over this team? Again, the Cowboys aren't full of bad guys, in fact, I think there are lots of really good character guys, but they're human, and minds wander and when the going gets tough, are they going to be able to keep excellence in the big games. They've fallen apart down the stretch and in the playoffs the last several of years. So, at the end of the year, when they fade again down the stretch and miss the playoffs or flame out once again and those of us who live and die with the Cowboys are angry once again, Jerry Jones can look in the mirror and realize that it's his fault. And nothing could make me happier than being wrong.