When the NFL schedule gurus created this Sunday Night Football matchup, the Cowboys and the Bears looked much different than they do now. Jay Cutler was the QB in Chicago and Tony Romo was the man in Dallas. Instead, we get the veteran Brian Hoyer versus the rookie, Dak Prescott. But the starting QB’s may not be the only missing pieces from the originally planned lineups. CB Orlando Scandrick (Hamstrings, has not practiced), RT Doug Free (Quadricep, Limited in Practice) and DE Jack Crawford (Shoulder, Limited in Practice) could all potentially miss Sunday night’s game. Everything coming out of the Star in Frisco says that Scandrick could take the week off. I know the Bears are win-less and playing a backup QB, but these Bears receivers are not to be taken lightly. Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White are both capable of putting up big numbers at any moment and Hoyer is a seasoned veteran who finished last season with a passer rating over 90, throwing for 19 TD’s and only 7 INT’s.
The Chicago defense has been decimated by injury with 10 players either limited or not practicing this week. This should be the week Dak gets his first and maybe second TD passes of his career. The question that could spark the most debate, however, isn’t with the rookie Prescott. Of all the position groups on this team, the offensive line has the most intriguing dilemma. With Doug Free limited in practice, Ron Leary aching for action on the sideline and La’El Collins struggling at Guard, it’s creating a perfect storm to move Collins (who’s every highlight is in the open field) over to right tackle and Leary back into his left guard spot. This could help the struggling run game significantly. Collins missed 5 blocks last week in the run game. To say he isn’t the mauler we all hoped for is an understatement. Ezekiel Elliott needs some holes this week to help him get his mind right after being benched for the first time in his life. Zeke dropped the ball twice last week after only fumbling 3 times in his entire college career. Couple this with his off the field ‘issues’ (if you can call them that), and he needs a big game this week.
Defensively, the Cowboys need to get to Hoyer and force him to make bad decisions. This has been a problem spot for the Cowboys D, which is to be expected when you are essentially rushing 4 DT’s. The two sacks this season are, of all things, coverage sacks which allowed time for the big guys up front to power their way home. Those coverage sacks might be a little harder to come by this week. If Scandrick sits, look for Byron Jones to get some action at corner alongside Carr, Claiborne and rookie Anthony Brown with JJ Wilcox and rookie Kavon Frazier getting more reps at the Safety.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Game Time: 7:30 PM on NBC
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington
All in all, this week is set up perfectly for the Cowboys to break that 8 game home losing streak pretty easily. Here are the keys to the game:
- Continue to get Dez the ball – Expect to see at least 1 X thrown up.
- Establish the run – It’s a case of the chicken or the egg here. Getting the ball to Dez opens the run. Running the ball early opens up Dez.
- Do NOT let Alshon Jeffery beat you – Hoyer is capable, but is prone to make mistakes. Shutting down their playmaker should help him make some more.
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By Matt Robinson — 4 years ago
Golden State Warriors
Starting Five: C: Zaza Pachulia PF: Draymond Green SF: Kevin Durant SG: Klay Thompson PG: Steph Curry
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 1 seed; 3 seed; 1 seed
KD going to the Warriors is not the best chance for him to grow as a basketball player, it’s the best chance for him to get a ring. When you see a Jared’s commercial and a guy has a ring, you always see women behind him saying ‘he went to Jared’s’. Next year, when you see KD with a ring, you are going to hear current and former players saying ‘he went to the Warriors’. While this was a good move for KD personally (a single guy moving from a small town to a big, exciting city), he can no longer be seen as one of the elite superstars in this league after going to a team that has been to the Finals two straight years. It takes a special kind of person to want to be THE guy, and apparently KD does not want that. It takes nothing away from how talented he is as a player, but for someone to even be in contention for best player in the world, they need that. After his signing, its quite apparent that rings are more important to KD than being the best player. Even though it kills me as a fan of the game, because I want to see each player want more than anything to be the best and to be the fiercest competitor alive, there are some extremely talented players that do not have that desire.
As for the team, this is going to be the most beautiful offense the world has ever seen…when they find their rhythm. Just like any team, it will take time (probably 20-40 games) for them to be who we think they will be right out of the gate. Don’t be surprised if the Warriors start out 12-8 in their first 20 games. That is exactly why the Warriors over/under of 68.5 wins after the KD signing was crazy. Its not as if the Warriors are the only team that got better this offseason. Six or seven playoff contenders in the West got better as well. Also, it seems that the injury bug has avoided the Warriors in the regular season for the past two years, and it may not this year. While the Warriors did add a super-duper-star, they also lost key players from last year, in Bogut, Barnes, Barbosa, Ezeli, and Speights. That’s 37 ppg and 22 rpg, not exactly something that gets replaced easily. And the last, and most obvious, reason…there is only one ball! Steph and Klay are going to have to give up a lot of shots and pass a lot more to account for KD. This team is like a fine wine, it will get better with age. So don’t make any prejudgments about them before the All Star break, because you may be eating your words in May and June.
Los Angeles Clippers
Starting Five: C: DeAndre Jordan PF: Blake Griffin SF: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute SG: J.J. Reddick PG: Chris Paul
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 2 seed; 5 seed; 3 seed
I can’t tell if Austin Rivers needs to thank the new salary cap or his daddy for his $11 million contract, because he sure as hell isn’t worth that. The Clippers are the only playoff team in the West that did not add at least a good player to their roster. Their biggest signings were Wesley Johnson and Marreese Speights, and Wesley Johnson may sneak into the starting lineup. I know they feel that the CP3 and Blake injuries in the playoffs are the only reason they lost to the Blazers, but honestly that was probably as far as they were getting if they didn’t get injured. It would be very difficult to find a legitimate reason why anyone thinks they would’ve gone on to beat the Warriors in a series. They can keep telling themselves that they have the 1st team All NBA center, and that is only their 3rd best player, but honestly, who is DeAndre really competing against? Chris Paul has about two more years of superstar in him before he is going to struggle mightily in the playoffs, or he is going to have to find another superstar to play with to compete for a title.
Truthfully, I hate watching this team play. They are the biggest group of whiners in the league, which I’m sure they picked up from Doc. And I’m not talking only about complaining about EVERY SINGLE foul called on them, but also complaining that others have the success they wish they could’ve had. It’s not just the whining; the offense they run is one step up from streetball. Alley oop here, isolation there, then jack up a shot when there’s three seconds left on the shot clock. They rely way too much on talent, which they have a ton of, but that will not cut it in the playoffs. NBA teams are too good and too smart to
allow streetball beat them in a seven game series.
Los Angeles Lakers
Starting Five: C: Timofey Mozgov PF: Julius Randle SF: Luol Deng SG: Jordan Clarkson PG: D’Angelo Russell
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: Out; Out; Out
As much as I dislike the Lakers, I have to agree that the NBA is much better when they are at least relevant. They are drafting well by the look of things, but that is easy when you have the second pick two years in a row. For the Lakers to have any shot of making noise in the coming years, they are going to have to get a big name, whether that be through trade or free agency. In ‘96
when they got Kobe as a rookie, they also signed Shaq, the biggest free agent on the market. They may get lucky and find that Russ wants to come back home to LA in a couple of years, but they better not put all their chips in that basket. As much as everyone loves going home, I find it pretty difficult to see the ultra-competitor, Russell Westbrook, coming and joining a team that has won 65 games in the past three seasons combined.
Looking at the roster they have now, don’t expect that 65 mark to jump to high. I can’t imagine this team winning 30 games. The biggest upside is their coach, Luke Walton, but this is going to be night and day different than the situation he just came from in Oakland. Coming from a highly professional organization built around winners with a winning mindset and attitude and going to an organization that looks like a chicken with its head cut off. That rings even more true when you see their longest tenured veteran doing things like this:
Luke, I hope you still think this is your dream job when the Lakers are 10-30 and Swaggy P and D’Angelo Russell are more concerned with who will be picking up the tab at Avalon Hollywood than the gameplan for the second half. Brandon Ingram may grow into a great player in this league, but for now he’s almost a foot taller than me and the same number pops up when we get on the scale. He’s going to get thrown around more than two kids in the back of a station wagon when their dad is driving around on back roads because he’s ‘not lost’.
Starting Five: C: Tyson Chandler PF: Dragan Bender/Marquese Chriss SF: P.J. Tucker SG: Eric Bledsoe PG: Brandon Knight
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: Out; Out; Out
Dragan Bender is the brightest spot on the Suns, and that is completely by default. Phoenix seems more like the landing spot for Kentucky Wildcat mediocrity than a threat to even sniff the playoffs. Even the head coach, Earl Watson, is in over his head. From an NBA journeyman, to NBADL head coach, to assistant coach turned interim head coach in the same year, and now
is the actual head coach of the Phoenix Suns. I guess it is going to be trial by error this year in Phoenix, because Watson sure doesn’t have any experience to rely on. I would have a problem with an NBA franchise offering a position that there are only 30 of in the world to someone with 2 years coaching experience (at any level), but, honestly, Pop, Riley & Phil couldn’t get this group to the playoffs. So, the Suns might as well save money with what looks to be the lowest salary for a head coach in the NBA at $2.5 million. Yeah, players aren’t the only ones who had salary increases, apparently the coaches are seeing a bump too.
The biggest upside of the salary cap increasing for the Suns is that now the fact that they had two overpaid point guards is erased. With the new contracts coming out this year, $12 million is how much bench players are getting. Maybe the Suns front office was just ahead of their time, or at least that’s what they’re telling owner Robert Sarver in hopes that they can keep their jobs. The only hope that the Suns have of making the playoffs in the next five years is that Dragan Bender becomes more Dirk and less Darko. Or maybe they are backing up their pick with the acquisition of Marquese Chriss, who plays the same position and has been highly praised by the organization as having unlimited potential.
Starting Five: C: DeMarcus Cousins PF: Willie Cauley-Stein SF: Rudy Gay SG: Arron Affalo PG: Darren Collison
Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 7 seed; Out; Out
DeMarcus Cousins has been in the league long enough to be a mature leader on his team. Being a part of the US Olympic team put him around his peers who are motivated winners, something he has not been around since he has been in the league. inning is a mindset, and being on that team and winning a gold medal should give Boogie that mindset for the first time as an adult. He will also be coming back to the most stable and capable team the Kings have had since Cousins was drafted. Hopefully he can get along with coach Dave Joerger better than he has with his coaches in the past. I’m still confused why Joerger
would leave Memphis for Sacramento when Boogie has been known as a coach killer and headcase his entire career, but that’s not for me to worry about.
I would have better hopes for the Kings, but they don’t have any depth. Ben McLemore has been in the league for three years and has done absolutely nothing besides disappoint a fan base that thought they would at least get some highlight dunks. He played less minutes per game in his third season than either of the first two, and with Affalo getting signed to start at the 2, Ben
will struggle to see 20 mpg this season. One thing the Kings do have going for them is the nominee for best name in the NBA with Bogdan Bogdanovic. I’m still trying to figure out if he was the youngest of 13 kids and his parents just got lazy, or if they were dyslexic James Bond fans. The name’s Bogdan, Bogdan…Ovic. Give this team one more year and they may be in the playoffs, but with a new coach let’s pump the brakes.Views: 0
By Matt Robinson — 4 years ago
There have been many theories on why “America’s Team” has been average for the past two decades. Some have blamed Jerry Jones for the drought. Others point to the general manager (also Jerry Jones) for uncalculated free agent signings, poor drafting, and trying to create a team of big name ‘stars’ instead of building an actual TEAM. There are even some naysayers that believe the problem begins and ends at the quarterback position, including the much beloved Tony Romo. All of these reasons may have played a part, but the real reason resonates throughout every season since the glory days with The Triplets. The Dallas Cowboys head coaching since 1997 has been questionable, at best. Since Barry Switzer retired after the 1997 season, the Cowboys are 148-149 in the regular season and playoffs. While some may have been worse than others (Chan Gailey and Dave Campo), not one of the head coaches were impressive.
Let’s start with Bill Parcells, since the two preceding him were nothing more than placeholders. Parcells came into a situation when the cupboard was barer than any Cowboys roster since the 80’s. He had aging stars on the edge of retirement (Woodson and Allen) mixed with players that he got to perform well above their talent level (Coakley and Williams). This was Bill Parcells last head coaching job, and he treated it as such, by trying to build a team that another coach could come in and take back to the promised land. That included signing undrafted rookie Tony Romo to become the Cowboy’s first franchise quarterback since Troy Aikman. The problem was that Jerry Jones let that coordinator (Sean Payton) get away. Payton went on to become the head coach of the New Orleans Saints the year before Bill Parcells turned his job over to Wade Phillips. Wade was, and is, a great defensive coordinator, but as we’ve seen many times before, that does not always translate into being a great head coach. Wade’s job was made even harder since he most likely knew that his offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, was basically a head coach in waiting. Wade took the Cowboys to the playoffs a couple of times in his stint as head coach, but was not able to make it past the divisional round either time.
That brings us to the current head coach, Jason Garrett. He took over halfway through the 2010 season and is two games over .500 in that time. Not exactly a record that deserves the job security he seems to have with Jerry Jones. Jerry always seems to find an excuse for why Garrett failed, instead of demanding results in the face of adversity. While Garrett has a great football mind when it comes to X’s and O’s, that is where his coaching prowess ends. He possesses the skills needed to be a successful coordinator in the NFL, but falls short of those skills required to become a Super Bowl winning head coach.
Let’s look at the greatest example of an NFL head coach right now, Bill Belichik, and see how Garrett compares in three different areas. First, Belichik’s delegation is second to none, and the best way to exemplify this is by his coaching tree. He has produced seven NFL head coaches and seven NCAA Division I head coaches. One of those coaches was Nick Saban, who just so happened to be the head coach of the Miami Dolphins when Jason Garrett was the quarterbacks coach. That’s right, Belichik’s coaching tree is now so extensive, other trees are now growing off of it, and Garrett is a branch on one of those trees. While Garrett definitely has not had the tenure to grow the coaching tree Belichik has, by this time in his career Belichik had already promoted out Pat Hill to Fresno State and Nick Saban to Michigan State.
Second, Belichik’s in-game strategy makes Garrett look as if he learned how to game plan by playing Techmo Bowl. We could delve into the most specific and minute stats to see how Belichik makes more right decisions than Garrett, but the easiest is to look at how they react when their hands are tied by playing without their respective star quarterbacks. Since Brady became the starter, Belichik is 15-5 with his backup quarterback, a winning percentage only 1 percent lower than with Brady. Since Garrett took over as head coach of the Cowboys he is 7-14 without Romo as the starter, a whopping 26 percent lower winning percentage than with Romo. Basically, that means if Brady is out, the Patriots still have almost an equal shot at winning with Belichik, but if Romo is out the Cowboys are about half as likely to come away with a win with Garrett.
Finally, Belichik’s superiority over Garrett can be seen by the talent he can attract from around the league. From big free agents superstars like Darrelle Revis to proven talent in Chris Long to the Golden Boy himself, the Patriots can continually get cream of the crop talent for considerably less than they are worth on the open market. Not only do the Cowboys have to pay top dollar for free agents to come play for America’s Team, they could not even convince their All-Pro running back, Demarco Murray, to take even the slightest pay cut to stick around.
Being quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys is one of the hardest positions in sports. It’s up there with playing Shortstop for the Yankees or Center for the Lakers, but the head coach in Dallas is no stress-free job either. Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson flourished in the role, while Barry Switzer and Bill Parcells were good within their own right. These coaches were used to the bright lights that come with being the head coach of America’s Team. Jason Garrett’s resume prior to the Cowboys is less than impressive, to say the least. To say he had never been in the spotlight before is an understatement. In fact, he was so far from the spotlight he couldn’t even cast a shadow. From quarterbacking Ivy League schools – to bouncing around in lesser professional leagues – to becoming a career NFL backup – to coaching in the NFL, Jason Garrett had never been a focal point of any meaningful organization. So the next time you see a ‘deer in the headlights’ look while watching a Cowboys news conference, or the next time you cringe at Garrett’s horrible game-management ability, try to keep in mind that he’s still adjusting his vision to the bright lights at The Star. Unfortunately for Cowboy fans, he may also be the roadblock to a sixth championship ring.Views: 0
By Brendon Jessop — 4 years ago
Game Time: Sunday, 3:25 p.m.
Location: Levi’s Stadium; Santa Clara, CA
Betting Odds: Dallas -3
Over/Under: 46 points
The Cowboys will once again more than likely be without Dez Bryant as they head to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. When asked how the Offense will fair without their star WR, Dak Prescott said, (and I paraphrase) It won’t change our offense any, we’ll just run our offense and whoever is open will get the ball. While that is what you want to hear from your QB, I honestly think he really believes that. And why wouldn’t he? Dez hasn’t really been the poster boy for elite receivers that we have been accustomed to over the course of his career. But with Ezekiel Elliott looking more like a 4th overall pick, Dez is starting to find his rhythm. Bryce Butler will presumably take the reins this week as the physical receiver cutting across the middle and should provide the necessary speed to open up the long ball as well. Butler said on Wednesday that he is ready to get the opportunity.
The 49ers defense pitched a shutout week 1 over the Rams, but have since allowed 46 points week 2 to the Panthers and 37 to Seattle. Their run defense isn’t shabby, ranking 10th in the league allowing only 122.7 ypg. Where the Cowboys can make their money is in the passing game. The 49ers rank 19th allowing 254.7 ypg through the air. All this includes the week 1 Rams game where they allowed only 130 passing yards and 65 net rushing yards. So the total yards are skewed a bit. The 49ers run a 4-3 and will be healthier than the Bears (who also run a 4-3), so Dak will see a few new looks that should provide a new test. With Tyron Smith still missing practice Wednesday due to his back issue, Chaz Green will be facing those same tests. If Dak and Chaz pass this test, the Cowboys should be 3-1 come Sunday night.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, rank 11th in total yards allowed, and 10th in points per game allowing just 20. With nothing even closely resembling a pass rush, the Cowboys need to find a way to get to QB Blaine Gabbert. Essentially rushing 4 Defensive Tackles can only get you so far as the Cowboys have racked up a whopping 5 sacks so far this season. Hope is on the horizon, however, as Demarcus Lawrence is expected back next week when the Bengals come to ATT Stadium.
Keys to the Game:
- Pressure Gabbert. Give any NFL QB time, and he will pick you apart, even Gabbert. The 49ers receivers don’t have any names that will scare you, so make Gabbert throw the ball quickly and there should be an interception in it for you.
- Get the ball deep. The 49ers, if smart, will stack the box and shut down Zeke. Use Brice Butler to open up the field while also running quick slants across the middle and that will force them to respect all facets of your game plan
- Don’t be cute. This should be a solid win. If the coaching staff (Jason Garrett), can put this team in a position to execute the simple things, the Cowboys should be able to win this thing pretty easily. Don’t let the 49ers get confidence, shut them down early, play tough.
49ers: 10Views: 0