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Talking Owens, from a reader

Bryson Treece

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Got a comment today from a reader, and I want to expand on what he correctly identified as another topic. The Wizard wrote:

"I'm in agreement with you about Garrett, who I truly believe is the biggest problem on the team right now. People can point at TO all they want. But, when they were 13-3 and Owens was heavily involved in the offense there were no problems. In fact, he was being called a model teammate. Now, with Sparano gone and Garrett's reluctance to use Owens more effectively he was upset.

But, that is another topic."

Something that always comes to mind about T.O. is what he says about getting the ball, "When I get the ball, good things happen." He's right, when he gets the ball, the Cowboys win the game, and that has yet to be proven otherwise.

Owens caused a lot of distractions late this year in his interview with Sanders where he called out Garrett's scheme. He started an uproar when he had a meeting with Garrett about his perceptions of ball distribution. And he has been labeled as a trouble maker since he left San Francisco after problems, only to start a similar problem with his new team, the Eagles. We all know this stuff.

I write that here because of the need for some background on this post, but also because it doesn't seem like knowing things about Owens is enough make any difference.

We know that he wants the ball, and we know we win when he gets his way, yet we translate that into not winning because he doesn't get his way, and that's just not the case. I'm one these people that still has issues with him because of watching him give up on a route only to have the ball thrown his way, but because had stopped running, it was picked off. I'd like to see and hear some accountability over that from him, and the coaches, and Tony Romo.

If Tony wants to lead this team, a good way to show it would be to call out that "certain influential receiver" in front of the team for those few times when he did give up on a play. Hard not to follow a guy that can do that for the team, and if Owens would respond badly to that, hard to find a reason to keep him at that point. There's virtually no loss there.

Anyway ... I firmly believe that Owens only has a problem when we lose. How many times did anyone hear him talk about getting the ball when we were winning games? Now with that said, the first game lost and he's back at it again with none other than Prime Time himself on ESPN.

So he could use a few pointers on how to better direct his grievances, but to say, or act like, because he has grievances that he is the reason the team lost some ballgames is just ridiculous. If that were the case, we'd have only needed one of the Trio to win those three Super Bowls, an obvious fiction to say the least.

So like The Wizard says above in his comment, people can point at T.O. all they want. He's used to it, and has made it clear that he can handle it. But as was demonstrated for us all so painfully in December, this team cannot, so cut the crap and focus on the real problems. If we stop losing games, T.O. will never say a word, will he?



Nothing gives me greater joy than the experience of being a Dallas Cowboys fan come time to check another victory on the schedule every Sunday. I live Inside the Star everyday and blog on it occasionally, as well. Follow us on Twitter - @InsideTheStarDC

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9 Comments
  • The Wizard

    Well put.

    I agree that Owens needs to ir his grievances better. But, that is easy for me to see being that I don’t constantly have a mic or camera in my face.

    I’m glad you made references to his past. It seems like people want to focus on those incidents instead of judging him solely based on what he has done/said with the Cowboys. Personally, I thought he was right in Philly too. What he said about McNabb was absolutely accurate and many people were thinking and feeling the same thing. To put it bluntly, McNabb did cost the Eagles that Super Bowl. If you were a player who played his heart out on a foot that he had no business playing on then watched your QB puke on the most important drive of the game, what would you say or feel?

    As for his route running, he needs to improve it – period. As for beating the jam, he needs to work on it. Maybe he can enlist a martial artist to help him in that area.

    But, to blame TO for all the teams problems is ridiculous.

    Look at his stats. He had an off year and had to play 3 games with a quarterback who can’t throw the ball more than 10 yards down the field.

    And, as you stated, when he gets the ball in his hands good things happen.

  • Bryson

    Absolutely on all counts. And thanks for the lead …

    It’s like they said on the Ranch report the other day, a team leader, you know, the leader on a team is usually beyond reproach. With Owens’ past transgressions, justified or not, it’s hard for him to be the leader that he obviously has the heart to be because you can always point out something he did way back when.

    But in Dallas, it’s those past issues that instigate the current issues, and he’s not even the one instigating it. That’s not the kind of accountability that this team needs, not in the locker room, not in the offices, and not from the fans.

    But as you point out, he does need to improve his game. His natural abilities have declined as he ages, which itself is natural. So he needs to account for that in some other way. But even if he doesn’t, he’s still a good receiver and an asset to this team.

  • The Wizard

    Completely agree. As far as his declining skills, which is natural, that is where I blame the coaching.

    Everything was going good this season until the Green Bay game. Even with the Cowboys winning teams saw a blueprint as to how to take Owens out of the game. Garrett had to know that other teams would try the same thing being that the NFL is such a copycat league. Still, I watched and I’m sure you did too, every opponent from there on out employ basically the same defensive plans. Garrett didn’t make any adjustments until later in the season and those really didn’t make much of a difference.

    I really hate to harp on the 07 season, but what they did with Owens that year was fantastic. They lined him up in the backfield on occassion, put him in motion, etc… And, Owens, Witten, and Crayton all had great seasons.

    Now, all of a sudden this year Garrett just completely abandoned the things that were successful in the previous season and watched this offense regress. Personally, I would think bad of Owens if he didn’t speak up. To me that would mark a person who was just wanting to collect his paycheck regardless of his performance. In a nutshell all he said is that he wanted the ball and wanted to run routes that took advantage of his abilities. I find nothing wrong with that at all.

  • Bryson

    Heck no. I don’t even blame Garrett for trying something new this season, but it took few games to see that it was different and that opposing defenses had an answer for it.

    My motto is don’t fix it if it ain’t broken. Not sure what Garrett has against that, but he obviously doesn’t feel the same way.

    That’s the one bright spot I see with Garrett coming back for next year. He got a big ass slap in the face by his own scheme. It shouldn’t be hard for him to find his way back to a more aggressive, elusive, and imaginative scheme like what was used in 2007.

  • Bryson

    Especially with a running threat that is ten times the threat it was in ’07.

  • The Wizard

    I don’t blame hism for trying something new either. Good coordinators do that. But, completely abandoning what they did last season was foolish. If he simply looked at how he could counter what the Giants did in the playoffs to slow down the offense and incorporated a few things I think he would have been better served.

    But, that is why I don’t get paid the big bucks.

    I do think bringing him and the coaching staff back is a good idea. Everyone has something to prove now. I would like to believe that Wade and Garrett both have pride and want nothing more than to prove the naysayers wrong. Now, if that is the case and they can communicate that to their team and use that as the motivation for next season, the Cowboys will be tough to beat.

  • Bryson

    You’re right about that. There is a whole database of knowledge to be obtained simply by studying the three games against the Giants in 2007. From one game to the next, the Giants D changed to be more effective against our O, and they finally got it right in the last game.

    Looking at what could have caused them to make certain adjustments could tell Garrett loads about how his scheme looks to an opposing team. It only gets better when you include the fact the Giants are a division rival, a team that knows our game as much as any team can.

    It’s also a plus on that note to think that they went on to win the Super Bowl with their adjustments. That lends a ton of credibility to Spags and the changes he made, making the use of his adjustments as a basis for improving our offense the most logical solution to our problems on the field in 2008.

    It doesn’t account for the distractions and media bull, but it certainly makes Garrett look smart if he gets it done that way.

  • Tay

    What I do not understand is how people keep trying to bring Owens past in San Francisco or Philly into this? It is a convient arguement for many, but I’m not convinced. In San Fran it was about his contract, in Philly it was about money he was owed that everyone knew Philly wasn’t going to pay. The only problem he has spoken out about here is his lack of involvment in the game plan and the was he is being misused in the system.
    The talk this season has been that he does not run good routes, he quits on routes, he drops balls, he can’t beat press coverage. Well my question is how is it that he has been able to put up all the stats he has in his career if these things are true? How did he put up the numbers he did last season and catch as many balls and touchdowns if he wasn’t running good routes or was quitting on routes all of the time?
    Now he might have trouble now getting off the line against press coverage, but how do you alleviate that? It’s easy, and Owens has said numerous of times how to do it, you put him in motion more so that he can get a free release. Or here’s a thought how bout lining him up in the slot and run a slant pattern? It’s amazing to me when I see other teams use this one simple route and kill team yet the ‘Boys can’t seem to effectively put it to use, same as the RB screen.
    I’m not trying to come off as an Owens apologist, I’m just saying that all the talk of the failures this season being his fault or him destroying the locker room is overblown. He’s an easy target for the media and fans, because he speaks his mind and says what most won’t. It’s mentioned that his calling out of Garret’s scheme in the interview with Sander’s was the starting point of the team’s downward spiral. Well if he was wrong, then why did opponets say these same things the last 4 weeks? Why did Romo himself say the same things after the last two games?
    Is T.O. “Mr. Innocent” no, is he deserving of all the blame being put on him by the media and fans, absolutely NOT! AT some point, we have to look past the easy target and look at the heart of the problem and this season it was the coaching staff and their inability to come up with effective game plans and make proper in-game adjustments…

  • Bryson

    Tay, those are my points exactly.

    But it gets a little more involved with what you bring up, about him dropping balls and beating press coverage, and not running good routes. Every player drops catchable balls, but those same players don’t complain about not getting the ball after a spell of a lot of dropped balls like Owens did. More of a point for him to better address the situation than anything.

    He gets the numbers he does in a season, particularly 2008, because of a few things, of which being his complaints causing action. We all know that Romo forced the ball his way a lot this year, and that can’t always be a bad thing, especially when Owens is the guy being thrown to. He can make things happen to come down with the ball. That helps to get his numbers and production up despite drops and whatnot, while also adding huge risks for turnovers. We saw this year the latter of the two was most concerning.

    The talk is overblown about T.O. But the point still stands, and hopefully not for much longer, that the OC has got to find a way to utilize this player better. An argument could be made for Garrett trying to do that and nothing worked, but Owens has shown that if you can’t find a way to get him open more, then you’re not trying hard enough.

    I think we all agree that Garrett’s calls were often very vanilla and he didn’t even try to move Owens around most games. You’ve got to put a player like that in bad matchups on the opposing defense. You can’t let them just stick their best cover guy to him all the time, because the best on the best equals not much at all.

Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Seahawks

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Seahawks

Like the majority of you, I was expecting the Dallas Cowboys to build off of their win over the New York Giants and put together a much better performance than they did against the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, I should've remembered that the Cowboys don't have the best track record when playing in Seattle.

If I would've been paying attention to the Cowboys history when playing in Seattle, I would have been much more prepared for the manhandling that took place a few days ago. Dallas just seems cursed when they play Seattle at home. It doesn't matter if it's a regular-season game or preseason.

I hate to say it, but maybe we should start calling it the Tony Romo curse. Maybe this all started with his botched snap that ended the Cowboys playoff run in 2007. Let's not forget Seattle is also where Romo's career probably ended when he hurt his back in a meaningless preseason game in 2016. As you can see, history doesn't lie.

If I would've remembered this, I probably still wouldn't be feeling a little sick to my stomach. Unfortunately it is what it is and all we can do is move on. But, that's not going to keep me from sharing with all of you what I believed to be The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Cowboys against the Seattle Seahawks in the Week 3 of the 2018 season.

The Good

Leighton Vander Esch

Dallas Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch

After pretty much getting completely manhandled by the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday afternoon, I had a pretty difficult time to find some good to put in this section about the way the Dallas Cowboys played. I really had to take a deep breath and put my emotions to the side for a little while, but I did discover a few individuals that deserved recognition.

The first person I want to identify is Cornerback Byron Jones. He continues to play at a really high level and is finally playing up to that first-round pedigree. It was also really good to see Running Back Ezekiel Elliott finally find some running room and look like his old self, although he probably could've done without the fumble. Lastly, how good is rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch playing? He finished with 11 total tackles against the Seahawks.

I know it doesn't provide much comfort in the way these individuals performed since the Cowboys couldn't come away with the victory, but at least it wasn't all bad. All we can do is hope they can clean things up and take this as a learning experience.

The Bad

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

There was no shortage of bad for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday afternoon against the Seattle Seahawks, but for me it had to be Quarterback Dak Prescott and the Cowboys passing game. The struggles in the passing game is completely hamstringing the offensive productivity and unfortunately I have a hard time seeing them improving much right now.

Prescott is only averaging about 160 passing yards a game and that's just not going to cut it if this team is planning on winning many games this season. He has thrown just as many touchdowns (2) as he has interceptions (2) this year. To make matters worse, it looks as if there's a void of playmaking ability from his pass catchers.

Honestly, I don't really know where the blame should fall right now. Is it Prescott's fault or does it fall at the feet of his receivers? Unfortunately, it doesn't really matter because nothings working for either of them right now anyway.

The Ugly

Chidobe Awuzie, Kavon Frazier

Dallas Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie

I was going to go with the stupid "mental" penalties the Dallas Cowboys had against the Seahawks yesterday for the ugly, but instead decided to go with the blown coverages in the secondary.

The Cowboys secondary has been playing really well so far this season, but unfortunately they blew a few assignments yesterday against the Seahawks which resulted  in touchdowns. I really thought they would be better prepared considering Kris Richard has spent nearly his entire coaching career in Seattle before joining the Cowboys, but maybe I was expecting too much.

I really thought the Cowboys secondary would shut down the Seahawks passing game, especially after what they were able to do in Week 2 against the New York Giants. The Giants have much better weapons in the passing game, but somebody forgot to tell Seattle's receivers. I still have high hopes that this was just a fluke, but I think I may temper my expectations a little moving forward.

What is your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Seahawks?



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott Takes Accountability for Week 3 Loss

Jess Haynie

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Ezekiel Elliott: NFL's History with Domestic Violence Shows Inconsistency, Hypocrisy 2
James D Smith via AP

Despite breaking 100 rushing yards for the first time this season, Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott took the blame for Dallas' loss in Seattle yesterday.

A 31-yard touchdown reception was called back in the second quarter because Elliott stepped out-of-bounds prior to making the catch. Dallas would go on to kick a field goal, making the score 7-3, but Zeke's error cost the team four points on the drive.

Early in the fourth quarter, with Dallas trailing 24-6 but starting to find offensive rhythm, Elliott ripped off a 26-yard run. But the play ended with Zeke getting caught from behind and the ball knocked out of his hands, and the Seahawks recovering.

While many might argue the the Cowboys' inept passing game was the real reason for the loss, Elliott took full responsibility when talking to the media afterwards.

"I had a poor performance today," Elliott said. "Did well in the run game, but overall, I dropped the ball. That loss is on me."

"You can say whatever, but at the end of the day, when you've got the ball in your hands, that's the team in your hands," Elliott said. "Me being a leader on the team, me being a better player on this team, I got to do a better job of taking care of the ball. That cost us the game."

While Zeke may not have loved his leadership yesterday, these comments show that the 23-year-old is developing into one.

Last year, Elliott had little to say to the media. That was likely for the best, though, while he was embroiled in all of the controversy surrounding his suspension and appeals.

But now, a year removed from that issue and in his third year with the Cowboys, Zeke appears to have found his voice again. He is still the catalyst for the Dallas offense, and the highest-drafted player on the entire roster.

For a player whose maturity has been called into question during the first two years of his NFL career, Ezekiel Elliott showed a lot of it yesterday. Hopefully, it helps his team to regroup and get back to winning as the seasoning continues.



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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Poor Execution, Timely SEA Passing Game Doom Cowboys

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Poor Execution on Offense, Timely Seahawks Passing Game Doom Cowboys in Seattle
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Dallas Cowboys have yet another disappointing loss to put behind them, or at least attempt to, as their struggles on offense carried into Seattle for week three. A desperate team in search of their first win at home, the Seahawks took full advantage of the Cowboys lack of preparation in the first half before capitalizing on mistakes to pull away 24-13.

The Cowboys dropping their second game in three weeks, both in similarly lackluster fashion, this will be a long week at The Star before Dallas kicks off against the Detroit Lions at home on Sunday.

Perhaps the Cowboys need not look any further than their next opponent to realize not all hope is lost for 2018. Like the Seahawks, the Lions were fighting to save their season yesterday, and did so with a home win against the now 1-2 New England Patriots.

If the Cowboys are going to reclaim their status atop the NFC East at any point this season though, some drastic changes are needed on offense. As always, here are my immediate notes on a Cowboys team that relied on their defense a few too many times in this latest loss.

  • I understand the Cowboys plan to use heavy personnel on offense against a defense with as much lateral speed as the Seahawks, but once again the execution from their wide receivers and tight ends was very poor.

By inviting defenders near the line of scrimmage, the Cowboys were challenging their offensive line to beat the Seahawks off the ball and potentially create some big plays for Ezekiel Elliott on the ground. Elliott did find some success as the game became further out of reach for his team, partially because of his own miscues.

The Cowboys' offseason approach at WR is yielding no immediate results, but so too is their confidence in Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, and Rico Gathers to step up in the absence of Jason Witten. While Witten isn't the missing piece for the Cowboys pushing the ball down the field, their lack of a threat at tight end is a serious detriment to Dak Prescott.

An early second half sequence that really hurt the Cowboys in this game began with a Gathers false start, the team's second straight penalty. Byron Jones' holding penalty on a Seahawks punt backed the offense up to their eleven yard line, and Gathers' ensuing procedural penalty had Dallas driving from their own six.

The Cowboys would do well to earn a manageable third down, despite a predictable run for no gain on first and 15, but Michael Kendricks' sack of Prescott forced a three and out.

  • This will do little to take the heat off Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan, but the Cowboys bigger issue on offense was execution compared to play calling in this loss.

Yes, execution is also part of coaching, which makes not only Linehan but the rest of the Cowboys coaches along with Head Coach Jason Garrett responsible for the team's floundering 1-2 start.

The Cowboys finally saw Elliott involved in the passing game on an apparent second quarter touchdown, only to have Elliott step out of bounds before the catch. Settling for early field goals with good field position is typically a sign that a team is in for a long day on the road, and this is exactly the type of afternoon it was for Dallas.

Adding another Elliott fumble and two Dak Prescott interceptions only provides further context on how well the Cowboys defense is playing, keeping this game within reach until the closing minutes.

The Cowboys offense is a house of cards right now, deliberately played by those that should have been held to higher standards as early as last season. With enough talent on this side of the ball to turn things around, the Cowboys must quickly figure out the right layers to peel away before discovering the root of their offensive woes.

Whether or not this ends up being Linehan, or if he simply becomes the scapegoat for a team that's never truly wavered in their commitment to Prescott, it's hard to argue with a change in philosophy for a Cowboys offense still searching for identity.

The Cowboys certainly weren't more creative in this loss, even on their deceptive pitch to Tavon Austin for his second touchdown in as many weeks. That exact play has been used by plenty of teams in that situation this season. With each successful conversion, more teams will add it to their arsenal - the Cowboys being the latest, with nothing to truly show for it.

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

That Tavon Austin TD? Yep, it's a copycat league. https://t.co/ggILr2TRGi

  • The Seahawks first touchdown came as a result of two of the worst defensive plays of the year for the Cowboys. 

After being a great blitzing team through two weeks, the Cowboys poorly executed an aggressive third down blitz with the Seahawks on their 35-yard line. The result was a 19-yard conversion to running back Chris Carson. Both Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith were picked up easily by the Seahawks pass protection on the play.

On the very next snap, the Seahawks' speed beat the Cowboys as Jaron Brown freed himself for a 16-yard touchdown. Of course, Seattle would never look back after this second quarter score to open a 7-0 advantage.

The Cowboys issues in coverage didn't stop here either, with Russell Wilson making the timely plays that Prescott left on the field. On Tyler Lockett's touchdown, pushing the Seahawks lead to 14-3, Kavon Frazier was beat to the spot in helping Chidobe Awuzie down the sideline.

Expecting the safety help to be there as it had been with Jeff Heath or even Xavier Woods (playing in his first game of the season), Awuzie still struggled to slow down Lockett, giving a below average cover player like Frazier no chance to get back in the play.

The Cowboys are committed to rotating their linebackers and safeties this season, and while the results have mostly been positive, they simply got caught with the wrong safety in the wrong spot here.

To make matters even worse, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas made these gaffs a "what could have been" moment for the Cowboys, turning the game with two interceptions against a team that may still make a push for his services.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Earl Thomas said a couple of Cowboys coaches said to him before the game, "You ready for the trade tomorrow?

  • It took a rough outing from Chidobe Awuzie to be fully appreciated, but Byron Jones was able to show why he's the best cornerback on the Cowboys right now.

On a positive note, the Cowboys are absolutely being rewarded for moving former first-round pick Byron Jones back to cornerback. This was one of the first decisions Kris Richard made upon his arrival to Dallas, looking to bring the Seahawks model to the Cowboys secondary.

Jones size and frame gave him a great chance to succeed under Richard before ever suiting up, but his awareness at cornerback has been off the charts. As opposed to dealing with players already at full speed or at the catch point when he was a safety, Jones is embracing being able to break on the ball and make more plays.

When the Seahawks needed a play through the air, they picked on Awuzie, who was exposed a bit for his tendency to sit on deep routes and react late to anything across his face. To start the game though, the Seahawks learned quickly that targeting Jones was a losing battle, unable to get anything behind him.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Week three was a great example of how much the NFL is a week-to-week league. Before kickoff in Seattle, the Cowboys were perceived to be entering an easier stretch to their season. Now, the Seahawks look like a team that can climb back into the playoff race, as do next week's opponent in the Lions for the Cowboys returning to AT&T Stadium.

It feels safe to say that at least two things are true of the Cowboys through these trying three games however. The Cowboys defense is already one of the best in the league, with the potential to get even better. Meanwhile, their offense is objectively one of the worst.

Whether or not the Cowboys offense is fixable is a question this staff must answer between now and next Sunday. As mentioned, it may feel like a long time until then, but for a team with as many issues as Dallas right now there will be little reprieve from salvaging relevancy (or trying to) in week four.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Poor Execution, Timely SEA Passing Game Doom Cowboys" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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