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Tony Romo should be the answer, not the question



Cowboys Blog - Tony Romo should be the answer, not the question

Where to begin?

How about I lighten the mood first with a little shtick? I could put on the juvenile hat I often see donned on blogs abroad and hence forth refer to Tony Romo as Tony Thromo Interceptions.  What, no love?  Weak, you say?

I could suggest that Romo must have been wearing extra Under Armour apparel, considering how many under-thrown deep balls he threw. Get it?  Still the sound of crickets and a leaky faucet drip on the other side of the house.  Okay, I think I can do better, just not in the sense Romo apparently meant it last week.  {Zing}

I could tell a story about how one day I offered Tony the rest of my box of chocolates but when he saw 8 in the box he instinctively responded, “Pass.” I’m not going to lie, I’m really proud of that last one.

Or I could simply employ a fantasy-anecdotal device and relate that were I the Head Coach of the Cowboys I would hand Tony Romo the game ball in the locker room after the game, yank it back and tell him, “you owe me two!”

The three unacceptable and inexcusable interceptions aside, there should and could have been more. By my count, there were two more that hit defenders in the hands only to be dropped and one that Dwayne Harris was able to win the jump-ball situation to prevent a fourth catastrophe in the game.

But out of all of these issues Romo experienced Sunday, perhaps the most unforgivable, absurd, rookie-like oversight came within 2 yards of the end zone on a day where Murray was averaging over 6 yards per carry during that same possession.

The Scenario:  It was 2nd and 1, meaning 1 yard yields 4 more plays, 2 yards yields the tying touchdown.

Romo checks out of a run play to a pass because the defensive alignment suggested the 49ers were expecting the run. I repeat, Romo read the defense and expertly deciphered they were expecting the run 2 yards away from pay dirt.

Really? Really? REALLY?

I could have been escorted to under center blindfolded and read that the defense was expecting a run in that situation.

Of course the 49ers were expecting the run!

That may have something to do with the fact that Romo could have literally taken the snap and leaned forward with the ball to make that first-down and potentially a touchdown. That was absolutely not a time to get cute and he simply outsmarted himself; which is ironic, because given his decision-making throughout the day, I would have never guessed he was smart.

The result:  A sack, due to a miscommunication between Romo and Tyron Smith and, ultimately a Field Goal.

Please do not misunderstand; I know he is intelligent, so to the Romo apologist, please save your defense armed with some of the emptiest misleading stats in quarterback history. Romo still gives the Cowboys the best chance to win, but with all of the question marks that still plague this team, the Cowboys can ill-afford for him to join those ranks of questionable.

Furthermore, given that offensive line and the caliber of weapons he is surrounded with, it is critical that he starts playing to live for another play as opposed to trying to win with every snap. The onus is no longer squarely on his shoulders to win games, but that defense is not good enough to weather his mistakes.

Romo is not the only one on my chopping block.  But with all of the negative press that has already been - and will be - hammered out, now would be a good time to hand out a few honorable mentions, despite the dishonorable results.

Rolando McClain – Given the relatively cheap price of a conditional 6th round pick, the Cowboys may have struck figurative gold with Rolando. He may not be Sean Lee, but I think most would agree he was far better than the alternatives and played like he truly wants to be here on Sunday – not for just this season, but also for the foreseeable future. He is the type of player that can infect and affect the play of his teammates. The question is where does he go when Sean Lee comes back?

Cole Beasley – He was not the star of any Fantasy League, in terms of stats, but he is proving to be the Jason Witten of slot receivers. Without the benefit of blazing speeds or ideal size, he gets open with crisp, on point routes and catches almost everything that touches his hands, even when Romo is not accurate with ball placement.

DeMarco Murray – Once the 49ers put up 28 points on the scoreboard, coach Harbaugh took his feet off the offensive gas pedal and dropped the defensive coverage back, allowing for much of Murray’s running room. Having said that, he ran with vision and authority, being the predominant reason the Cowboys were able to keep several drives alive. I am not a proponent of his consistently looking for contact to close his runs to darkness, but in games where the Cowboys hold a lead, that grinding style will come in handy.

Bruce Carter – Given the level of criticism and scrutiny this young man suffered through this off-season – with questions about his love of the game to his intellectual ability to grasp the game – Bruce Carter also played with both passion and instinct Sunday. He was all over the field, suggesting that once again a position group –linebackers - that was perceived to be a weakness when the season opened may actually prove to be a strength as the season progresses.

This game was hard to watch, but I trudged through it dedicated to dissecting both the good and the bad from my limited view through the television screen.

Stepping away from the sting of the loss, what particularly bothered me was the incomplete grade we were collectively able to ascertain from this game. The 49ers were to be the measuring stick that gave fans a true idea of the Cowboys identity. Instead, one player (Romo) failed miserably, placing the rest of the players in a situation that they could not overcome.

Would this game have ended any differently minus the horrible decision-making of Romo? Hopefully Romo gives the team a better chance to answer that question, one way or another, next Sunday.

I am 35, married and a father of 2 boys. I have been a Cowboys fan since Jimmy Johnson took over; not because I had anything against Tom Landry, but because it just so happens I was old enough to start following and understanding football right as that new era began. Since then, I haven't missed games if I could help it.

Star Blog

Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Brian Martin



Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Since becoming the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Rod Marinelli hasn't had too many of his former players follow him to Dallas. In fact, I can only think of one… Henry Melton, and we all know how that turned out.

I don't know about you, but I found that a little strange. It's pretty common for coaches to try to bring some of their players with them when they accept a new job. Familiarity goes a long way in the NFL and former players can also help make the transition easier for everyone.

Strangely enough, Rod Marinelli hasn't really been afforded that luxury, whether it was his doing or not. But, there is a free agent who played under Marinelli's tutelage in Chicago who might make sense for the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Shea McClellin.

Rod Marinelli was the defensive coordinator in Chicago when the Bears decided to draft Shea McClellin 19th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Marinelli likely had a big say in that decision, and if he still feels the same, a reunion could be in order.

Shea McClellin started his career in the NFL as a 4-3 left side defensive end playing opposite Julius Peppers, but was also viewed as a potential Brian Urlacher replacement. He showed flashes of becoming a solid defensive end his first few years in the league, but was eventually moved to linebacker, where he seemed to find a home for himself.

Shea McClellin

New England Patriots LB Shea McClellin

After his contract expired with the Bears, the New England Patriots decided to bring him aboard to help with their linebacker depth. He only ended up starting four games for them in 2016, but made some memorable plays to help the Patriots become the Super Bowl champions.

Unfortunately, the 2017 season wasn't very kind to him. His entire year was wiped out due to a concussion, which probably had a lot to do with why they recently released him.

This of course could be good news for the Dallas Cowboys. They currently need some depth at the linebacker position and Shea McClellin could provide that, if he's healthy. The healthy bit here is key, because he has had problems with concussions in the past.

If McClellin is indeed healthy, he could bring a versatile skill set to the Cowboys defense. His best spot is probably at strong side LB (SAM), but I think he could play middle linebacker (MIKE) as well. He also could provide depth at defensive end, the position he played to start his NFL career.

With the LB depth a concern, Shea McClellin makes quite a bit of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, his past history with concussions is a red flag, but it also drives down his asking price. I think he would definitely fall into that "bargain shopping" mentality the Cowboys have been using these last few offseasons.

He probably wouldn't be viewed as a very important signing, but you still need these types of players on your team in order to succeed in the NFL. Let's see if the Dallas Cowboys agree.

Do you think a Rod Marinelli and Shea McClellin reunion is in order?

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Star Blog

Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys

Jess Haynie



Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys

Now that he's signed with the Washington Redskins, cornerback Orlando Scandrick joins a lackluster list of former Cowboys players and coaches who have gone from Dallas to its historic rival. The history of these moves is ugly for Washington, going back over 40 years, and can't have their fans too excited anytime they sign an ex-Cowboy.

The most recent example was just last year with defensive tackle Terrell McClain. After a strong season as a 15-game starter in Dallas, McClain got a four-year, $21 million deal to join the Redskins. He missed four games with injuries and was only credited with two starts; hardly what the team wanted given the money they paid.

Before him it was Jason Hatcher, whose 11-sack season for the Cowboys in 2013 got him a four-year, $27.5 million deal from Washington. Hatcher would battle knee injuries for two season, getting only 7.5 sacks from 2014-2015. His early retirement in 2016 brought an abrupt end to a disappointing tenure.

Continuing the legacy of defensive linemen was Stephen Bowen, who Washington paid a shocking amount of money ($27.5 million over five years) to in 2011 to pick up in free agency. Bowen had a great first year for the Redskins with six sacks and 16 starts, but injuries would soon cost him 14 games from 2013-2014. He was eventually released after only one standout season in four with the team.

Going back even further, DT Brandon Noble joined Washington in 2003 after being a full-time starter for Dallas for over two seasons. He would miss all of 2003 with a knee injury, have an unimpressive year in 2004, and then missed all of 2005 with more health issues. He retired after being released by the Redskins in 2006.

Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys 1

Hall of Fame CB Deion Sanders

Orlando Scandrick won't be the first cornerback to go from Dallas to Washington, or the best. At age 32, Deion Sanders was released in 2000 by the Cowboys and then got a huge seven-year, $56 million deal from the Redskins. This came less than a year after Daniel Snyder bought the franchise and was desperate to get them relevant again.

The Sanders move backfired horribly. Even after a solid season by his lofty standards, Primetime was disgruntled with both the coaching staff and his increasing struggles as an aging player. He suddenly retired after just one season of the seven-year contract.

Washington also tried to tap into the Cowboys' glory days when they signed receiver Alvin Harper in 1997. Harper had left Dallas in 1995 and spent two years with Tampa Bay, but had not carried over the same success he enjoyed playing in the Dallas offense.

The Redskins hoped that reuniting him with Norv Turner, who had been Harper's offensive coordinator and was now their head coach, would help Alvin get back to form. But between ongoing injuries and the absence of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith as teammates, Alvin Harper was never the same guy as when he won two Super Bowls in Dallas.

The failed poaching attempts go back many more decades, another one being running back Calvin Hill. The fourth-leading rusher in Cowboys history and a four-time Pro Bowler while in Dallas, Hill joined Washington in 1976. He served as a backup only, averaging only 3.8 yards-per-carry as he played behind the likes of Mike Thomas and John Riggins.

Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys 2

Norv Turner also couldn't bring his Cowboys success to Washington. (Brian Bahr/Allsport)

The bad history doesn't stop with players. The aforementioned Norv Turner, who was one of the hottest assistant coaches in history after the Cowboys first two Super Bowl wins in the 90s, was hired as the Redskins' head coach in 1994.

Turner's run started with a whimper, drafting quarterback Heath Shuler third overall in that first year. Shuler would go down as one of the biggest QB busts in NFL history

Norv's Redskins never seemed to recover from that blunder. He only had two winning seasons and one playoff appearance from 1994-1999, and was fired midway through the 2000 season.

Far more recently, Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan left the team in 2015 and took the same job in Washington. He didn't get to bring the offensive line or DeMarco Murray with him, though. As such, the Redskins have remained one of the league's worst rushing teams for the last three seasons. They fell to a new low of 28th in the NFL in 2017.

~ ~ ~

Of course, none of this means that Orlando Scandrick won't have success in Washington. But with the Redskins generally the most mismanaged team in the NFC East, all of the Dallas players and coaches who've gone there have not walked into good situations. For all that Cowboys fans love to complain about Jerry Jones, he handles the owner and GM roles better than any pair Washington's had in almost 30 years.

Given the nature of the rivalries, we naturally can't wish success for Scandrick or anyone else who leaves Dallas for a division opponent. With the track record we just discussed for Washington, it's not something I'll be losing any sleep over.

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Star Blog

Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?

Brian Martin



Cowboys Have Their Version of Tryann Mathieu in Xavier Woods?

It's not uncommon for Dallas Cowboys fans to zero in on certain free agents in hopes that they will bring their talents to America's Team. In fact, just about any "big name" player to hit the open market is often linked to the Cowboys in some way or another. That was the case when the Arizona Cardinals decided to move on from Tyrann Mathieu.

Once Tyrann Mathieu became available, Cowboys fans immediately wanted to see him with a star on his helmet. But, despite the fans petitioning, the Cowboys brass seemed to show almost zero interest in the former Cardinal.

The decision to not pursue Tyrann Mathieu certainly didn't sit well with a lot of Cowboys Nation, but I think it was the right decision.

Despite Mathieu's perceived talents and youth (he's just 25), the Cowboys weren't interested in paying the price to bring him to Dallas, especially since they already have a similar player on their roster.

Xavier Woods

Dallas Cowboys DB Xavier Woods

It may sound crazy, but I think the real reason the Dallas Cowboys didn't show much interest in Tyrann Mathieu is because of Xavier Woods.

I honestly believe Xavier Woods and Tyrann Mathieu have a similar skill set. Both players are little undersized to be a full-time safety in the NFL, but each of them have the versatility to play several different roles in the secondary.

Mathieu may have been listed as a safety on the Arizona Cardinals roster, and now the Houston Texans, but the truth is he played mostly out of the nickel/slot in his professional and collegiate career. That is where he is at his best, and the same can be said about Xavier Woods.

As a rookie, Xavier Woods showed his versatility with the Dallas Cowboys by playing a variety of different roles in the secondary. His versatility was one of the reasons the Cowboys decided to trade up in last year's draft to acquire his services.

His name might not carry the same kind of weight as Tyrann Mathieu right now around the league or amongst NFL fans, but I don't think Xavier Woods is that much of a drop off talent wise.

Xavier Woods

Dallas Cowboys DB Xavier Woods (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Personally, I believe Mathieu is starting to decline a little as a player. I think injuries are starting to take a toll on his play, although it may be minimal. I actually prefer Xavier Woods' upside, especially when you take into account the difference in salaries between the two.

Surprisingly enough, Xavier Woods might just have been more productive in 2017 then Mathieu. Woods started just four games and finished the season with 42 tackles, three passes defensed, and one interception. Mathieu on the other hand started all 16 games and accumulated 78 tackles, one quarterback sack, one forced fumble, and two interceptions.

As you can see, Xavier Woods was almost just as productive as Mathieu in nearly a third of the playing time. What's even more impressive about this is that Woods accomplish this as a rookie.

Of course, all of this is speculation, but I for one am not all that upset the Dallas Cowboys missed out on Tyrann Mathieu. I'm willing to bet on Xavier Woods being able to do everything Mathieu can and at a fraction of the cost.

Were the Cowboys right not to pursue Tyrann Mathieu?

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