Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Down 29?

I have to get downtown to do some stuff this morning, but here are some stories that should be blogged:

Mavs take a horrid matchup with the Timberwolves into one of the most enjoyable evenings of basketball this season …The Jet was awesome...

No-calls on consecutive possessions at the offensive end ultimately got Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle steaming mad. Watching his inexplicably listless team get run by the Minnesota Timberwolves started the boil.

Certain Dirk Nowitzki was getting hacked, Carlisle earned double-technical fouls, twice clapping emphatically in the direction of referee Gary Zielinksi with 6:30 left in the second quarter.

The Mavs trailed by 16 points and if Carlisle intended for his ... at first heave-ho of the season to ignite his team it backfired badly first.

Minnesota practically doubled the lead to 29 points early in the third quarter. Although the Mavs have made a habit of rallying at home, not even struggling Minnesota figured to blow this one.

Then with Mavs assistant coach Dwane Casey at the helm against his former team, the Mavs turned the game upside-down, jacked up the intensity and couldn’t miss as they raced past the young and skittish Wolves 107-100 to complete the largest comeback in franchise history.

"There were a couple plays there where I thought Dirk was getting hit and there should have been fouls called so I took the referee to task and probably overdid a little bit so I got thrown out," Carlisle said. "Frankly I was tired of watching it anyway."

Carlisle, who won his 300th career game with an assist from Casey, took a quick peep into the Mavs’ postgame locker room where Devean George
cracked: "You missed a good game."

After getting outscored 62-40 in the first half, the Mavs (19-12) reversed field 67-38 in the second half.

"The main thing is we said, 'Let’s go down swinging no matter what " Casey said. "Let’s respond the way we can make it good for the happens,’ fans."

The rally was swift and mesmerizing, starting with a giant swing that cut Minnesota’s lead from 70-41 to 72-63 in a six-minute stretch in the third quarter.
Jason Terry was lead magician. The sixth man scored 24 of his game-high 29 points in the second half, hitting four of his five 3-pointers and scoring 10 in a row during a fourth-quarter stretch.

Here are some fun facts from the PR Dept:

• The Mavericks completed their biggest comeback in franchise history. They were down by 29 points, 41-70, with 10:36 to go in the 3rd quarter. Dallas’ previous big comeback was 25 points at DEN (11/26/94). Dallas was down 37-62 with 1:05 to go in the 2nd. The Mavericks won the game 124-123 in OT.

• The last team to complete a 29-point comeback was PHO at BOS (12/5/03). The Suns won 110-106 after trailing by 29 in the 3rd quarter.

• The largest comeback in the NBA in the last 10 seasons was by LAL vs. DAL (12/6/02). The Mavericks led 66-36 early in the 3rd quarter before losing 105-103.

And now the story that was going to be the lead:

New Years Day – Noon – Red Wings – Blackhawks – Wrigley Field

The N.H.L. gleaned two simple lessons from the rousing debut of its Winter Classic game last New Year’s Day. No. 1: Do it again. No. 2: Make it much, much bigger.

What began in the snow and sleet at Ralph Wilson Stadium outside Buffalo continues Thursday at Wrigley Field in Chicago with two of the league’s Original Six teams. The Chicago Blackhawks, a renascent team in second place in the Central Division, and the defending champion Detroit Red Wings, who are in first place in the Central, play at 1 p.m. on NBC (and CBC and RDS in Canada).

This time, it will be in a much smaller stadium, but in a far larger market, with more corporate involvement (like the title sponsor Bridgestone, and Honda), and more expensive tickets — seats that cost $10 to $203 last time are now up to $25 to $335.
A few seats are being offered on StubHub for as much as $10,000 each.

Reebok has opened two stores near Wrigley to sell merchandise through Jan. 5. Also, Chicago sports legends — among them the Blackhawks’ Bobby Hull and the Cubs’

Ferguson Jenkins — will be honored, and the Red Wings great Ted Lindsay is expected to drop the ceremonial first puck. And fighter jets will fly over during the national anthems.

This isn’t quaint anymore. The league believes the Classic — a regular-season game played outdoors every New Year’s Day — will be a long-term annual event that separates hockey from other sports; it projects the game as a midseason ritual for its fans to root nationally, not for their local teams. Already, there is demand for future games in Philadelphia, Detroit, Toronto, Montreal and Boston.

Before the league got its rental at Wrigley, which is in the midst of being sold along with the Cubs, unoccupied old Yankee Stadium was seriously considered to be the site.

“This is part of our new business model and gives people a sense of what we can do,” said John Collins, the league’s chief operating officer. “We introduced our Broadband player, we reintroduced We have 53 million fans who love the game, 22 million in the arenas and a $2.6 billion business. But it doesn’t feel as big as it should.”

What happened last season in Orchard Park, N.Y., before 71,217 fans in a football stadium on a hastily built rink, provided the Classic with legitimacy and the league with good will. The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Sabres, 2-1, on Sidney Crosby’s shootout goal. The ice was iffy (several breaks were needed to patch holes), but the snow created a magnificent special effect.

An average of 3.75 million viewers watched on NBC, more than four times what the league’s All-Star Game drew and close to the 4.5 million average for the Stanley Cup finals. The number of viewers who tuned in and were stunned to see regular-season hockey in the snow was not a demographic measured by Nielsen Media.

But the snow did not hurt in a New Year’s Day afternoon time period that it shared with four college bowls and will share Thursday with three (the Outback, the Capital One and the Gator). The forecast in Chicago calls for temperatures in the 30s and with a 30 percent chance of afternoon snow showers. And if it doesn’t snow? “We’re not going to have snowmakers at the game,” Collins said. “There won’t be any snow, unless it’s heaven-made.” He added that the cost of staging the game, including a custom-built refrigeration system, “is in the millions, but it’s a moneymaking venture.”

A check of the Chicago Weather

Forecast from National Weather Service As of 5:52 am CST on December 31, 2008

Today... Mostly clear. Scattered flurries during the predawn hours.
Blustery...colder. Highs in the lower 20s. Wind chills as low as zero to 10 below zero. Northwest winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph at times early in the morning decreasing to 10 to 15 mph in the late morning and afternoon.
Tonight... Mostly clear. Lows 13 to 17. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph.

New Years Day... Partly sunny in the morning then becoming mostly cloudy. Blustery...warmer. Highs in the upper 30s. Southwest winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph at times.

MLB Network set to Launch

The MLB Network is set to launch Jan. 1, and it might seem that a 24-hour channel is aimed at fans who passionately follow the entire league. But as their numbers dwindle, they aren't the viewers president and CEO Tony Petitti is relying on to sustain the network.

The reality of TV sports today is that World Series ratings fluctuate greatly from year to year depending on who's playing. Still, many teams draw large audiences in their home markets. So while the MLB Network is national, Petitti likes to think of it as a conglomeration of regional interests.

"We want to complement the way fans watch their local team," Petitti said during a Dec. 17 tour of the network's studios.

For the first year at least, the network will be more focused on highlights and analysis than live games. It will air only 26 regular-season matchups, but will broadcast an eight-hour highlight show six nights a week. The lengthy time slot will require two shifts of commentators.

Looks like the Cowboys are in Mourning

Shanahan got fired? ….Forde looks at the post-Elway era…

Since John Elway rode off into the Rocky Mountain sunset after a second consecutive Super Bowl title in early 1999, Denver has been utterly ordinary. It has won a single playoff game in the decade without No. 7 at quarterback.

The post-Elway Broncos have been a blur of fired defensive coordinators, failed free-agent acquisitions, boom-or-bust drafts, spotty special teams, late-season swoons and -- on those occasions when they did make the playoffs -- postseason pratfalls. Shanahan has continually churned the roster without changing the bottom line. The magic is long gone, and it will be up to someone else to recapture it.

Post-Elway, Shanahan seemed to believe he could plug any quarterback into his creative, aggressive offense and it would work at a championship level. He hand-picked Brian Griese for the role, and it didn't work. He hand-picked Jake Plummer for the role, and it didn't work. The current hand-picked quarterback is Jay Cutler -- and so far it hasn't worked.

Here are 2 Documentaries I watched over vacation that I give my seal of approval as strong to quite strong:

Cocaine Cowboys on DVD/Showtime

Dirty Driving on HBO

Tim Tebow demonstrates how Romo should have handled his post game press conference:

Amazing. Halen 88 mourns

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cowboys Reading Material

Ok, Tuesday link time, and I have plenty of various Cowboys items.

First, I asked All-Star intern TC to compile the catch % of all of the Cowboys receivers to see if the numbers back up my thoughts on how incredibly spare Roy Williams has been. The numbers don’t lie. Here are the entire 16 game numbers for all of the players, where he had 82 balls thrown at him combined:

Player Catch %
M.Barber 85%
M.Bennett 74%
P.Crayton 71%
T.Choice 70%
J.Witten 68%
T.Curtis 67%
T.Owens 60%
M.Austin 57%
Ro.Williams 44%

TC Writes:

As you can guess, these are not the only numbers that indicate Roy Williams did not have the initial return we were all looking for. Of the 79 players ranked, he is 75th in DVOA at -17.1%. He was also 76th in DYAR with -39. Any way you look at it, he was one of the worst wide receivers playing football this year. It's not hard to see why: between the Lions and Cowboys, he was thrown at 82 times. He turned those opportunities into 430 yards and three touchdowns. I've got a strong feeling that Danny Amendola could pick up at least 430 yards if he was given 82 passes. I have that same feeling about nearly every receiver in the league and some that aren't. On the other side, Martellus Bennett is as awesome as Williams is sucky. He led tight ends in DVOA, and finished 13th in DYAR (the counting statistic) despite having been thrown only 27 passes. To put that in perspective, Chris Cooley is 14th in DYAR, and he was thrown 111 passes.

Meanwhile, reports broke yesterday that the Lions have at least some interest in Jason Garrett taking their job …I wonder if he wants out of this circus bad enough to take that job…I wonder how badly they want him…I wonder if he regrets his Atlanta and Baltimore decisions….

The Lions made history on Sunday, completing an unprecedented 0-16 season with a 31-21 loss at Green Bay. On Monday, they began working on the future -- again -- after firing coach Rod Marinelli and announcing two anticipated front-office promotions.

Tom Lewand, formerly the chief operating officer, is the new team president, while Martin Mayhew is the general manager. Both had been operating in those roles on an interim basis since Matt Millen was fired as president in September. Now both will spearhead what is expected to be a wide-reaching search for Marinelli's successor. And the work to find the Lions sixth coach since 2000 begins in earnest this week.

The Lions already have received permission to interview two of the top NFL candidates, New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, a league source said. According to the NFL Network, the Lions also plan to interview Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and Washington Redskins secondary coach Jerry Gray.

Spagnuolo was a leading candidate to land the vacant Washington Redskins coaching position last winter, but he removed his name from consideration and signed a contract extension with the Giants. That three-year, $6 million deal makes him one of the league's highest-paid coordinators. And with the Giants on a postseason bye week -- they practice today and Friday -- that interview is expected in the next few days, though Spagnuolo, 49, figures to have more than one team visiting him.

"We'll just let it play out," Spagnuolo told Newsday last week. "If the good Lord presents me with an opportunity because we had a bye week, then we'll take it from there. I'll give it the thought or address it when it happens."

Adam Scheffter looks at the top of the 2009 draft

After a history-making 0-16 season, the only consolation for Detroit are these words: The Lions are now on the clock.

In fact, the teams at the top of the 2009 NFL Draft are. The official order of the first round of the draft still is being worked up and finalized, but here is the order of the first nine picks of the draft on Apr. 25-26.

1. Detroit — A franchise QB or linchpin left tackle would be enticing.

2. St. Louis — If the Lions don’t take an OT, the Rams will.

3. Kansas City — Could this be the year the Chiefs go quarterback in round one?

4. Seattle — An offensive line that was old and injured needs help.

5. Cleveland — Defense, defense, defense.

6. Cincinnati — More defense for Ohio.

7. Oakland — A big-time wide receiver would help JaMarcus Russell.

8. Jacksonville — After losing so many offensive linemen this season, it would be nice to add one.

9. Green Bay — A run stuffer who also could get some QB pressure is ticketed for Green Bay.

The Lions will use the Cowboys pick at #20 most likely

By virtue of the Roy Williams trade that sent the receiver to Dallas for a first- and third-round draft pick, the Lions will get either the 19th or 20th choice in the first round.

The Cowboys are currently sitting at No. 20, but they could move up to No. 19 if San Diego goes to the Super Bowl. (The two Super Bowl contestants are automatically moved to No. 31 and No. 32 in the draft order -- with the winner going to No. 32.)
The Chargers are currently selecting in the 16th place and they'll stay there if their playoff run ends short of the Super Bowl.

For the third-round pick, the Lions will have the Cowboys' 17th or 18th choice in that round (again, depending on a possible Chargers' Super Bowl run). The Lions will have at least five overall picks in the top 82 choices.

According to multiple sites, the Cowboys 2009 opponents:

Cowboys 2009 schedule (dates announced in April)

NY Giants
San Diego

NY Giants
New Orleans
Tampa Bay
Kansas City
Green Bay

AFC West and NFC South. Who knows what is tough anymore, but the AFC West looks reasonable.

And then there has been a high demand for information about the The future of the Pro Bowl

The Pro Bowl will be played one week before the Super Bowl in 2010 and both games will be staged in Dolphin Stadium, a person directly involved in the decision told The Associated Press on Monday.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the NFL has not announced the move, but Hawaii's governor and Honolulu's mayor both confirmed the situation later Monday.

"While I am disappointed the Pro Bowl likely will not be played in Hawaii in 2010, I respect the NFL's decision to play the post season all-star game in the same city as the Super Bowl, one week before the Super Bowl, on a one-year test basis," Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle said in a statement.

It's not a new notion to have the game moved up to take place between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. The NFL has discussed it multiple times in recent years, and commissioner Roger Goodell told the AP last month that having the game precede the Super Bowl would avoid a "somewhat anticlimactic" ending to the season.

"Plans for future Pro Bowls are not final, but we have stated publicly several times that we are giving strong consideration to moving the Pro Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. "We also have been exploring playing future Pro Bowls at the site of the Super Bowl as well as in Honolulu."

The Pro Bowl has been held in Honolulu since 1980, and it's probable that the game will return to Hawaii after 2010, although not on the permanent basis as has been the case over the past three decades. Lingle said she was hopeful a deal could be struck in time for the 2011 game to return to Honolulu, and the city's mayor, Mufi Hannemann, told The AP that he also is optimistic for eventual Pro Bowls.

Cris Carter loves Terrell Owens

Quality Minor League Fight

Monday, December 29, 2008

Week 17: Eagles 44, Cowboys 6 (9-7)

That is going to leave a bad taste in your mouth about Dallas Cowboys Football. I realize that hope shall spring eternal, and right about the time training camp rolls around (I was going to say the draft and then I remembered that the 1st round pick is in Detroit for that receiver that broke out yesterday for 2 catches and 4 yards) you will attempt to locate that jersey that you tore off yesterday during the Cowboys trouncing at the hands of the hated Eagles, but wow.

It would seem that breaking down the various elements of yesterday’s game instead of focusing on the far bigger picture would be a bit like pointing out a few weeds in the sidewalk of a house that just burned down, so I think we should attempt to do both here this morning.

First, the big picture. I am reminded of a quote from the Rams game, when Moose was calling the game on TV, he began to suggest to us that the Cowboys mix was not to his liking:

”Adversity doesn’t build character; it reveals it” – Daryl Johnston, On Fox, October 20, 2008, Dallas versus St Louis.

I certainly don’t want to be the old man here, especially if the “young man” needing the lecture is Jerry Jones, but what kind of team has been built? What kind of selfish, narcissistic, ego maniacs have you assembled here? This season has revealed so much. It has shown that when adversity hits, this team reveals its character. And while a large portion of the team may have the “good” kind of character, there is a faction that certainly seems to lack it. That faction affects everything. It undermines leadership, it teaches the kids how to conduct themselves, and when things go poorly, they are the first to turn knives on the team. As they say, this team is not a team of character. It is a team of characters.

So, now you combine a team of characters – many who have already been promised their money - with a coaching staff that seems to command almost no respect from those that would undermine them, and you have what you have right now…a pile of rubble.

What do you do with this underachieving crew that seemed to shrink to the occasion for the better part of the entire year? Jerry Jones has already said he plans to do nothing to his head coach, Wade Phillips. What folly that seems. The statistic Fox offered yesterday says plenty about this entire crew: The Wade Phillips Cowboys started 12-1, since then, they are 10-10. For anyone who thinks that Bill Parcells had this team set up to dominate, and then Wade and Jerry have allowed this thing to erode back into a mess, that statistic will make your case pretty well.

I think a new coach is very necessary. I also think that Jason Garrett is not who I would hire. I might entertain the idea of Garrett staying at coordinator, but I would surely not promote him after this mess. I think the days of not considering elements of team building when assembling a roster needs to stop. From now on, if they are a head ache, they don’t play here. If they require special rules, they don’t play here. If I have to hire a special security detail to babysit them, they don’t play here. If Ed Werder makes a full time living reporting on what my diva WR says everyday, then my WR doesn’t play here.

But, I know that expecting Jerry Jones to stop being Jerry Jones is an exercise of complete stupidity. So, with a new stadium ready to open, we can only hope that the man has learned a lesson. Fat chance.

Anyway, since we did all suffer through 44-6, let’s at least look at a few moments of the last chapter of a very bad book:

• Tony Romo is a mess right now. I hardly recognize the guy who I have bought stock in. His grasp of where to go with the football is completely screwed up right now, and his decisive ability to make reads and throws seems long gone. I think this off-season will be an interesting one, because for the first time in his life, he is going to have a lot of doubt. He is going to begin to question how good he is going to be, and how badly he wants it. His stock is way, way down, and his own organization is going to begin to question whether he is the man. I caution everyone against declaring a player of his quality and age a complete failure (see: Manning, Peyton), but at the end of the proverbial day, it is not very important what you or I think about this situation. It is important what he thinks. If he spends the off-season trying to convince himself that he has it all figured out, then I will be afraid. But, if he is obsessed with figuring out where it all went wrong and what he needs to get back to doing to make it all make sense again, then I think he will be one of the best QB’s in the league again.

• Speaking of Romo and Garrett, for an offense that was not nearly affected by injuries in December like the defense was, is there a chance we can figure out the confusion before next season? You know, the WR and the TE and the QB looking like they are not on the same page? How many times in the last few weeks have they looked like they had never played together? How many years before Roy Williams looks like he knows what plays are being called? And why am I already tiring of his routine this early in the game? Bad routes, drops, body language, and at times looking like he is just out there running around. Some franchise Wide Receiver.

• If the Eagles are dumb enough to let Brian Dawkins get away, I would send a jet to go pick him up immediately. I know he is just a shadow of what he once was – he once was the best safety in football – but if there is a guy who understands the position, it is that guy, the heart and soul of the Eagles defense for all of these years. His blitzing again yesterday was superb, and his sure tackling is something the Cowboys defense has lacked. Roy Williams may have faults, but when Williams, Patrick Watkins, Keith Davis, and friends are all hurt, we see the big plays multiply. Safety appears to once again be a sizeable hole in the defense. And Ken Hamlin may be paid like a great safety, but I am not sure he is much better than average.

• Bradie James is one of the positives of this season. Wade has really figured out how to best utilize him through blitzing. But, there is still that issue of covering receivers, and opposing QB’s still look for 56 on defense in the red zone to isolate a back or TE. Easy money.

• Did you know the Eagles only had 5 more yards than the Cowboys? When you see a drive chart that has 5 consecutive drives that end with: “Interception, Fumble, Fumble, Fumble, Fumble” then odds are good that total yards will not matter.

• Did Tony Romo pull Wade’s pants down when he waved the punt team back to the sideline? Is that a reasonable enough sign that your coach lacks respect? I guess I must be forgetting all of the times Parcells was waved off.

• If Pac Man Jones ever plays another second in Dallas, I will be disappointed. Dumb players make dumb plays. We saw about a dozen this season – in 9 games.

• Nick Folk kicks field goals very, very well. He does not kick off very well. No touchbacks, and then he kicks the ball out of bounds, too? It might be time for the designated KO specialist.

• By the way, if Bruce Read is coaching special teams next year, I will be disappointed.

• Plays of the game: The 59 yards catch and run by Correll Buckhalter on 3rd and 8, and then 3rd and 9 pass to DeSean Jackson for 34 yards. Both plays put the Eagles inside the Cowboys 10, and ready for a Touchdown. And both plays featured Terrence Newman coming up empty.

• I roll my eyes when I hear the December records brought up, but there is no running from that reality anymore. This team cannot close the deal. They cannot rise to the occasion. And when their backs were against the wall the last two weeks, all units of the team failed miserably. Jerry Jones must consider any and all alternatives after the way 2008 ended. The message must be sent loud and clear that this is unacceptable. But, will that message be sent?

• And so it ends, one of the most disappointing Cowboys seasons ever. For some reason, it might take several months for many of us to work up a renewed enthusiasm for this thing. Here is a vote for change if there will be hope.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Taking Out The Trash

And now, as I clean off 1,000 emails and return from vacation clean shaven, with an empty email box, and an empty blog notebook, you get what we will call:

“Things that have been emailed to me and are now being put together in a blog that will at least burn 30 seconds of your life”

This first one was emailed to me the other day from something called the Dallas Business Journal.

Friday, August 7, 1998

`Sturminator' replacing Miller on `The Ticket'

You may have noticed that Max Miller, evening talk show host on KTCK-AM ("The Ticket" 1310), went on vacation a few weeks ago -- and was never heard from again.
Turns out that Miller was actually given the old heave-ho by station management.
Instead, Bob Sturm -- a.k.a. "The Sturminator" -- has been tapped to try his luck in the competitive evening slot between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, said Bruce Gilbert, KTCK program director.

Sturm will go head-to-head with former KTCK afternoon host, Chuck Cooperstein, who hosts the 8 p.m. to midnight sports talk program on rival WBAP-AM (820).

Cooperstein, incidentally, was fired from KTCK last year because he didn't have enough "schtick."

The evening slot has proved to be a difficult one for KTCK, weighing in at No. 15 in the market ratings. By comparison, the station's morning and afternoon shows are top picks among males ages 25 to 54. They rank No. 2 for the entire week and No. 1 Mondays through Fridays.

Miller's departure was effective July 20, after he used some outstanding vacation time, Gilbert said.

"We decided to go in a different direction, and Bob fit the change," Gilbert said. "He brings a lot of energy, and that's really what we're all about."

Sturm started at KTCK last week after spending four years hosting the only sports show on a Virginia talk radio station. His program is already shaping into a "typical Ticket show," Gilbert said.

"It's about having fun, hanging out with the guys and not getting into trouble," Gilbert said. "We don't miss any big sports stories, but we have a lot of fun along the way."

Weird, huh? I have never seen that article until now. 10 years later.

Here, you can confirm that Mark Teixeira makes more money than you

Buy the every DVD of the Wire for $89

That is 3600 minutes of the Wire!

And now, various youtubes that have no correlation to anything:

Brahmas Goalie Fight

Sidney Crosby Cheapshot?

Sling Shot Man

Scarlett falls

Dude Loves the library

And now, some email:

Mark Titus is a junior walk-on on the basketball team at Ohio State. I just came across his blog:

It's pretty well written and funny. I thought you might enjoy it.

Dallas P1
Dear Bob,

Just wanted to give you a shoutout for following the Reds, I too am a supporter since 1998 after watching Michael Owen make the powerhouse that is Argentina look like their legs were tied together on the pitch.

I just recently caught wind of your blog and I enjoy reading it. I too have a blog and if you ever get a chance, i'd appreciate it if you'd check it out:

anyways just wanted to say I love the show and keep up the good work.


-P1 from Southlake

The Giants signed Derek (no hands) Hagan this week. Hagan was the Dolphins 3rd round pick in '06.

Check out the Dolphins roster;

Undrafted WR's; Greg Camarillo, Davone Bess, Brandon London, Chris Hannon
Free Agent WR: Ernest Wilford 4yrs for 13 million, 3 reception for 25 yds, zero starts and a healthy scratch in 12 games.
Derek Hagan; played one game and then cut 11/04/08

Free Agents: Ernest Wilford. Reggie Torbor back up. Keith Davis cut at the end of training camp.

Lost: Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas

Ex Cowboys: Jason Ferguson, Anthony Fasano, Polite, Akin Ayodele, Al Johnson, Nate Jones and Erik Walden.

'07 Total Defense ranked # 23
'08 Total Defense ranked # 11

'07 Points allowed per game ranked # 30
'08 Points allowed per game ranked # 8

Yeh, Parcells is over rated. The Dolphins went from 1-15 to 9-5. The Cowboys went from 13-3 to 9-5.



There is always controversy when an NFL team stinks it up in preseason….Detroit lions went 4-0 this year! What an indicator preseason is.


I understand your love of The Shield. I too have seen every episode. But, I honestly have to say that I won't miss it. I'll miss their interviews on TheTicket more than I will actually watching the show. It was good entertainment. But, it was finally to the point to where I had had enough. I was ready for it to end. Actually, for about the last season and a half, I was ready for it to end. No, I never got close to dumping the show or anything.. I did have to see it through. But, if it would have continued on past this year, I would have had to have made a decision as to whether or not I wanted to continue watching the show.

Now, on to The Wire. It is the best show in the history of TV in my opinion. It is much more intelligent than The Shield. It is more realistic. No, it's not as violent, but there is more than enough action to keep me interested. Both are acted extremely well and are well written. But, TheWire is just more realistic and more intelligent.

Which would I recommend to a friend? I would recommend both. If I could only recommend one, it would definitely be TheWire. I've known probably 5-6 people that have given TheShield a shot and ended up giving up on it. Each one of those have seen every episode of TheWire. I honestly do not know a single person that has made it through the entire series of The Shield. I just don't think you can get more than 3-4 episodes into The Wire without feeling the need to see it through. Personally, I am watching the last season of The Wire right now. Unlike with The Shield, I am not at all looking forward to finishing this series. Finishing this series will truly be a sad day in my life.

I suppose one of the reasons as to why I just wasn't quite as into The Shield towards the end was because of the killing of Lem. He was my favorite character on the show.... so perhaps that's it.

anyways, baby arm.


Friday, December 26, 2008

World Juniors - Start Today

Of all of the things on your mind on the day after Christmas, I am guessing the World Junior Hockey Championships are not terribly high on your list. However, if you give it some consideration, you might be awfully intrigued by one of the bigger stages and moments on the hockey calendar to those inside the game.

I honestly never had much of a grasp of this event for years and years, but once I began to talk with the players, coaches, general managers, broadcasters, and pretty much anyone else who makes their living inside the National Hockey League, I learned I was missing quite a spectacle. For the next few weeks, the small talk in the dressing room is about this tournament. Steve Ott will always engage one in talk about the World Juniors, a tournament that he was featured in back in 2001. The trouble was, to the American like me (and I am guessing, you) there was this small issue of nobody in the media covering this event and therefore not knowing what I was missing.

No Radio – of course.

No Newspaper – not even a word.

And, of course, no television. Oh, the apple of my eye. That sweet magic box we know as tv. Without television, the sports world is just a rumor. For years, the NHL was just a rumor in my life, as then commissioner John Ziegler thought it would be a great deal to sign a television deal with Sportschannel America, which was available in about 54 homes. Almost the entire era of Edmonton being dominant in the 1980’s was something that I read about in Sports Illustrated, but seldom saw with my own eyes – despite growing up in the frozen north of Wisconsin.

But, then, the NHL found ESPN. And many of us found the NHL, just in time to see Gretzky in Los Angeles…and St Louis…And New York.

Well, now there are many ancillary segments of hockey that are opening up to us who love this game. And, now, in HIGH DEFINITION!!!!! I bring you (actually, I don’t – the NHL Network does) the World Junior Championship – live from Ottawa, Canada.
What is it? Basically, it is an annual holiday tournament that places the very finest talent the hockey world has to offer (under the age of 20) on the same ice for 10 days of great hockey. It is a feeding frenzy for all scouts and personnel gurus around the NHL to either check in with the talent they have already drafted, or talent that they plan on drafting this June.

So, here is what I think you need to know about this tournament:

Q: Where can you see it?

A: Exclusively, on the NHL Network

Q: When are the games on – and where is a full schedule?

A: Here you go: As found at USA

NHL Network Coverage of 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship

Fri., Dec. 26 Germany-United States 2:30 p.m.
Canada-Czech Republic 6:30 p.m.

Sun., Dec. 28 Kazakhstan-Canada 2:30 p.m.
United States-Czech Republic 6:30 p.m.

Mon., Dec. 29 Germany-Canada 6:30 p.m.

Tue., Dec. 30 United States-Kazakhstan 6:30 p.m.

Wed., Dec. 31 Canada-United States 6:30 p.m.

Fri., Jan. 2 Quarterfinals 2:30/6:30 p.m.

Sat., Jan. 3 Semifinals 2:30/6:30 p.m.

Mon., Jan. 5 Bronze/Gold Medal Games 2:30/6:30 p.m.

Q: Who do the Stars currently own in this tournament?

A: 3 players. Sergei Korostin, the Stars 3rd rounder in 2007 plays for Russia, is a Right Winger. Ondrej Roman, the Stars 5th rounder in 2007 plays Center for the Czech Republic. And last, but certainly not least is Jamie Benn, another 5th rounder from 2007, plays LW for Canada. The Stars are really hoping that he shows some offensive impact on a loaded Canada squad, and of course, as with all snipers, they want to see how well he minds his own end of the rink.

Q: Who are the players that will be household names in the 2009 NHL Draft who will be featured in this tournament?

A: Well, it is actually a pretty good list. And of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However, there is a bit of a consensus being created, and according to a poll of scouts put together by TSN , here are their findings:

TSN's Top Ten Prospects at the WJHC

1. John Tavares (CAN)
2. Victor Hedman (SWE)
3. Magnus-Svensson Paajarvi (SWE)
4. Jordan Schroeder (USA)
5. Evander Kane (CAN)
6. Dimitri Kulikov (RUS)
7. Jacob Josefsson (SWE)
8. Ryan Ellis (CAN)
9. David Rundblad (SWE)
10. Tom Erixon (SWE)

Q: What sort of evidence can you present that this is worth my while as a hockey fan?

A: Here you go: 12 months ago, the all-tournament team had Drew Doughty, Kyle Turris, and Patrick Berglund on it, all 3 are regulars in the NHL today. The tournament 24 months ago had, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Carey Price on the all-tournament team. And just 3 years ago this week, the leading scorers in the World Juniors were Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin. That is pretty reasonable evidence, right? Well, how about this: 4 years ago, the World Juniors had: Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Getzlaf, Alexander Ovechkin, Jeff Carter, Dion Phaneuf and Sidney Crosby.

So, if you can spare the time amidst the parties and bowl games, and of course, the Stars game and the brilliance of the NHL Winter Classic, check out the World Juniors on the NHL Network.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Vacation Update

After those Cowboys game notes, I bid thee Happy Christmas from Wisconsin. I am not sure how much blogging will be done between now and our return to the radio on December 29th, but check back periodically, and maybe I will shock you.

Week 16: Ravens 33, Cowboys 24 (9-6)

There is very little to say right now about how the Cowboys wet the bed Saturday night in their final game at Texas Stadium. The simple fact of the matter is that much like a great deal of their season; the Cowboys saw it slip through their fingers in the most agonizing fashion possible. To put it mildly, it would seem that 2008 is just not their year. I am a big believer in hanging in there and keeping hope alive until the last breath in a league where 31 of 32 teams will end their season in disappointment, but it is surely a tough time to keep the faith around here.

The plain truth is this: They had the season right where they wanted it. All they had to do was beat a Baltimore team that certainly has skills on the field, but doesn’t have the talent resources at the key positions that Dallas has. The Ravens have a rookie QB that they protect from having to move the ball down the field in the air. They grind and grind and count on the defense to win the turnover battle and the war in the trenches. If Dallas could make a play or two down the field, they would quite possibly open the game up and put the Ravens in a very uncomfortable spot. It would depend on the defense of Baltimore completely stopping Tony Romo and his mates. And you know something? They made it look easy.

If you read this blog, you know I am a Tony Romo supporter to a very strong degree. I believe in his quality, and I surely have walked a plank with the young man to a point where people claim I have lost my credibility because of my defense of the QB. Well, I accept the critiques coming my way, but I also can see things for what they are. While I believe Romo will ultimately hold a Lombardi Trophy overhead in a Cowboys uniform, I also recognize that he is nowhere near a finished product. Why he played the way he played on Saturday night is beyond any reasonable explanation. He hasn’t honestly looked right to me for huge chunks of 2008, and while he has put up numbers and wins, he also has appeared shaky, uncomfortable, and unsure of what this offense needs out of him. It would be easy to blame the coaching staff, but at the end of the proverbial day, he has to know better. He has to know that you cannot make the spinning desperation throw into double coverage. In a game where you can only lose if you turn the ball over, he turned the ball over. He appears to press when the booing begins. He appears to press when the pressure is on. And he appears to press when the games are vital and mandatory to stick in the win column. These are points that I cannot dispute. I never said he was perfect. I said he was a stock I believe in and would buy. I still do, but he is surely NOT infallible.

The lasting memory of the final game at Texas Stadium will be the back to back runs of 77 and 82 yards. And why wouldn’t it? The longest opponent’s runs in the history of the stadium happened in the final 4 minutes of the final game ever played there? Are you kidding me? Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain? Alas, sometimes you cannot write these things. If it wasn’t so sad, you would laugh to make yourself feel better.

Here are some various random notes from Week 16, Game 15 against the Ravens – the day the Cowboys lost control of their own destiny:

• What are they doing with Marion Barber? What are they thinking dressing him against the Giants, getting nothing out of him, and then dressing him against the Ravens, and getting nothing out of him? Talk about not learning from your mistakes.

• Joe Flacco was impressive last night. He threw for less than 150 yards, but he made some big throws into tight spots. He looked calm and cool, and once they got the lead, they could stop throwing the ball for the most part on 1st and 2nd downs. I don’t see Baltimore much, but I really enjoyed his composure and calm in the storm on a night in which he got sacked 5 times in the first half. You would think Saturday night was going to be a tough spot for a rookie to succeed, but Baltimore must be giddy about his rookie campaign.

• How much would the game have changed if Tony Romo doesn’t miss a streaking Miles Austin on 3rd and 9 in the middle of the 3rd Quarter? He was wide open. Wide open. And, that play was the play of the night. If he hits him, it is a 79 yard touchdown pass that gives the Cowboys a 14-9 lead. Instead, on the next snap, the punt, which Jim Leonhard returns to the Cowboys 37. A few plays later, Ken Hamlin does not recover a fumble that is in his hands. A few plays after that, a fake field goal is run for a first down, and a few plays after that, Derrick Mason is scoring a touchdown to put the Ravens up 16-7, and game was slipping out of reach. All because Romo missed a wide open receiver. When you are playing the Ravens, you cannot miss wide open receivers. It is that simple.

• Suggs, Lewis, Reed, Scott. They have some hitters on that team. That is a system and a culture of laying a beat down on your opponent.

• Roy Williams cannot beat Frank Walker? The same Frank Walker who has not been a starter in this league? Sorry. 9 games into his Cowboys career, I have to check and make sure I still have the receipt. He seems to be a whole bunch of style and a small bit of substance. Ed Reed is sitting on top of Owens while Samari Rolle is jamming him. Wasn’t the point of getting Roy Williams to punish the opponents that would dare do that? And he can’t expose Frank Walker? Ouch. And to think he has been labeled a future #1 WR when Owens moves on.

• 10 more penalties. Don’t be afraid to play a clean game at some point.

• I think Brad Sham said this first, but allow me to echo it. Jason Witten needs about 2-3 months on the beach. I have not seen a player take a beating like that in quite a while.

• Would I have tried an onside kick? No. I think they made the right call. Look, you had all of your time-outs. You knew that there was only one thing the Ravens were going to do. Run the ball between the tackles. There was no mystery. You could put 11 defenders in the box. You have no excuse for allowing those two runs. Ken Hamlin will not win the critical eye of the league on those two efforts. Of course, like so many on this team, he already has his money, so I am sure he will be fine.

• As I was leaving a frigid Texas Stadium after the game, I was walking right behind a Dad and his boy. The boy must have been 7 or 8 years old and was crying about the result. Some people might roll their eyes, but I knew how the boy felt. When you are young, and you love a sports team, you believe the games and the seasons will all have the happy endings of the Disney movies that you watch. Guess what, son, if you are going to pledge allegiance to a team as it appears you have with the Dallas Cowboys, I want to welcome you to the fellowship of the die-hards. Understand, that once you do, you are not allowed out of this commitment, and you should also understand that most seasons are going to end in tears. A favorite team is the only thing a male human feels the same about when he is 5 and when he is 45 and when he is 75. You will change your mind on everything else. Girls, money, hobbies. But, you will always still feel the adrenaline rush of a win, and the gutting sadness of a horrible loss. I didn’t say anything to the boy, as his Dad was handling it (and he might not have welcomed my advice) but I felt for him. Welcome to sports, young man. Someday, you may live to see a championship or five, but most years will end with your guts spilling onto the floor.

• So now what? Hope. Is there time for still another redemption with this team? Thanks to the Redskins and Chargers, perhaps there is. A trip to Philadelphia. A chance for a glorious clutch win, or one final agonizing opportunity for Cowboys fans to end their holiday season in tears. Is this all there is in 2008?

• 4,376 days and counting….

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Is He Back?

Stars beat the Phoenix Coyotes last night, and Loui Eriksson was the hero with 2 goals. He now has 14, and I believe he will break “the Brenden Morrow factoid” into many pieces. “The Brenden Morrow factoid” is one of the more disturbing trends about this franchise, and I plan on writing an entire study about it very soon, however, the short version is this: No Dallas Stars draftee has scored 20 goals in a NHL season since Brenden Morrow. 1997 was Morrow’s draft, so to go for more than a decade without drafting a 20 goal scorer is shocking and disappointing. However, Eriksson and Neal have us all hoping that the Morrow Factoid is about to be blown out of the water. I love watching Eriksson grow up before our eyes, and I think we can all agree that the brightest spot of a dark season has been seeing the future the Stars have in Eriksson, Neal, and Brunnstrom.

Meanwhile, don’t look now but Marty Turco is playing like Marty Turco. After back to back starts where he held Detroit and Phoenix to 2 goals (total) on 61 shots, he looks like he owns his crease, and if it were not for that meltdown goal where Trevor Daley mishandled a Turco pass last time Phoenix came through town, the Stars
may really be rolling right now.

Since he was pretty much the most vocal Dallas Stars player regarding the Sean Avery soap opera, I was very curious if the exit of Avery would have any impact on Turco’s play. If people suggest that the play of Turco was negatively affected by the circus, wouldn’t it be positively affected after that?

Well, so far, it is actually pretty convincing. Looking at the below chart, look how starts 21-27 for Turco – which include the last game with Avery and the 6 starts without him – appear to be the best work of his season.

GamesGoals allowed per StartSave Percentage

Table Tutorial

I am still not too crazy about the fact that in 30 games this season, Turco already has 27 starts (90%). I am not sure if the Stars are trying to make Marty the Martin Brodeur of his office, as Brodeur actually has started 78 games in a season, but I think they need to be careful with him so they don’t run him into the ground. Tobias Stephan looked the part in Nashville, so let’s see some more of the guy and not just wear down Turco.

Finally, I wanted to write a little something about Mike Ribeiro. There is no doubt his production is feeling the effects of not having Brenden Morrow around. The Stars success in the playoffs last year was largely due to the unstoppable duo of 63 and 10. Now, the numbers are quite clear that Brenden is the necessary finisher that Ribs needs.

RibeiroWith MorrowWithout Morrow

Table Tutorial

Notice that Ribs goal totals are not affected. But he is a special player because he sets up his mates with great passes, generally from below the goal line. He needs a finisher, and without Morrow, Ribeiro is having a hard time breaking loose. Loui's overtime winner last night was set up by a vintage Ribeiro pass from down low. Maybe that is a combination they should roll with for a while.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


1. OCT 12, 2005 - WAYNE GRETZKY
2. NOV 30, 2005 - MACK BROWN and VINCE YOUNG
4. MAR 9, 2006 - MIKE MODANO
5. APR 5, 2006 - ROGER CLEMENS
6. MAR 15, 2006 - LEBRON JAMES 1
7. AUG 15, 2006 - TERRELL OWENS
8. NOV 16, 2006 - WILL SMITH
9. NOV 20, 2006 - PEYTON MANNING
11. MAR 5, 2007 - LEBRON JAMES 2
12. AUG 8, 2007 - WADE PHILLIPS
14. DEC 7, 2007 - ALLEN IVERSON
15. JAN 23, 2008 - PARIS HILTON
16. MAR 18, 2008 - DAVID BECKHAM
17. MAY 27, 2008 - PHIL MICKELSON
18. AUG 7, 2008 - MAGIC JOHNSON
19. OCT 8, 2008 - MARK WAHLBERG
20. NOV 4, 2008 - LEBRON JAMES 3
21. DEC 14, 2008 - ELI MANNING

Tuesday Ice Blogging

Looking at the latest from the Wildcard run-in, it would seem we could probably eliminate Washington from this mix. Otherwise, you can certainly make a case for everyone. It sure looks like Atl, TB, and Dallas will all get to 10 and maybe 11 wins. The most Philly can get is 10-5-1, so they would beat anyone at 10-6. Meanwhile, Chicago seems like 10-6 might be close to assured with the Packers and Texans already making their plans for January in Cabo. Meanwhile, of the 6 teams on this chart, only Philly and Dallas have tough Week 17's as they play eachother. Meanwhile, everyone else looks like they have a lay-up. This is going to be a wild few weeks:

16BaltSD@ MinnPhil@ WashGB
17@ PhilOakST L@ SFDal@ Hou

Table Tutorial

Stars play another bad team tonight as the Coyotes visit…while fully coming to terms with the fact that they are a bad team and therefore have trouble beating bad teams….James Mirtle does the math on why the Stars can likely forget the playoffs….

This obviously isn't a surprise given everything that's gone on. Avery has three and a half years left on a four-year, $15-million contract that's going to be awfully difficult to unload unless the Stars eat half the salary.

Dallas' options would seem to be using re-entry waivers to try and find a taker for Avery at half his cap hit (about $1.9-million until 2011-12) or buying him out at two-thirds of the remaining three years for $8-million. The Stars would then be left with $1.33-million of cap space dedicated to that buyout for the next six years.

By the numbers, Avery's play in Dallas has been fine, and he's being made into a bit of a scapegoat here. He leads the team in Corsi, has a low goals against at even strength and is one of the few plus forwards on the team. He was also one of the better producers on an awful Stars power play.

Avery may have been a distration, but Dallas' major problems consist of (a) bad goaltending and (b) the worst special teams in the league (where Avery isn't a major contributer). The Stars are ranked dead last in team save percentage (.878), tied for 29th on the power play and 28th at killing penalties.

The team shed an awful lot of depth last season at all positions, does not have a capable backup goaltender and has been giving solid minutes all season to Niklas Grossman and Matt Niskanen on the blueline. The team's been getting very little production out of Mike Ribeiro, Fabian Brunnstrom is getting beat up badly defensively, and with Brenden Morrow out for the rest of the season, there's a very real leadership void there, too.

They're going to improve over the remainder of the season, no question, but Dallas needs a record of 34-18-1 — a 107-point pace — to hit 95 points this season.

That's not going to happen.

The Stars already have $42.7-million commited to the salary cap for next season, as well, and are poised to lose Jere Lehtinen and Sergei Zubov as free agents. If they decide to re-sign those two long-time Stars, the makeup of the team next season could be very, very similar to the one currently in dead last in the Western Conference.

Mike Heika escribe el mismo tambien

This is not where the Dallas Stars pictured themselves – and yet it's a reality they're trying hard to grasp.

Midway through December, with the next four games against teams that are not in playoff position, the 11-14-4 Stars are getting about as close as they can to "must-win" mode.

"Look at where we are," coach Dave Tippett said. "If we don't start thinking that every game is like a playoff game for us right now, then we're not going to be in the playoffs, simple as that."

The Stars are only five points out of eighth place, the last playoff spot in the West. But they also are 15th in the West, meaning they are competing with seven other teams to get that one spot. Bottom line: A team that has won consecutive games only once this season now has to go on a heck of a win streak – and starting tonight against ninth-place Phoenix would be a good way to start.

"Those are teams that you're right there with, and we're probably going to be right there with them for the next couple of months," center Brad Richards said. "You've got to beat them and start digging into the hole right now. It's all good and well to get up against the Red Wings, but you've got to do it against everybody."

The Stars' upset win over Detroit last week actually did little to help them in the standings, because they lost the next night at Nashville.

"We're not in a position where we can take any steps back, and I felt we did that against Nashville," Tippett said. "There's very little room for error. Just because you've got injuries doesn't mean you can't play your hardest and give yourself the best chance to win every night."

The Stars are without six injured regulars and won't even be able to put newly acquired center Brian Sutherby into the lineup tonight. The former Anaheim Duck is nursing a groin injury and probably will be out for at least two more games. And while Joel Lundqvist (shoulder) and Jere Lehtinen (upper body) skated in practice Monday, the Stars could have to go with the recent bare-bones lineup for the next two games.

"With the position that we've put ourselves in, unfortunately the challenge is there every night to constantly be thinking about points," goalie Marty Turco said. "There are no easy games any more."

And for a team that has averaged 100 points per season for the past decade and had designs on contending for the Stanley Cup this year, that is an odd feeling.

"I do recall some nights in the past where it used to be easier, but that was a time when the whole setup was different and we felt confident we were one step ahead in the way we played," Turco said. "We need to get back to feeling that way."

I wanted to include this today because I have a lot of Packers fans all over my case about not being thrilled out of my mind by Aaron Rodgers, year #1. Look, I know when I excuse Tony Romo at times, I remind people he is young. But could you imagine sending Troy Aikman away because you thought Tony Romo was great and needed the starts?

Well, the Jets put up with Favre and all his drama and interceptions, and now 9-5, they are close to winning their division.

Meanwhile, the Packers, with Rodgers and his great QB ratings, are 5-9, and don’t have to put up with Favre’s interceptions anymore. And they don’t have to put up with going to the playoffs either.

This story shows that while Favre understands what it take to win, Rodgers has yet to learn that one …given that Favre has more wins than any QB ever, who would think he would impact the win totals for the Jets and Packers?

And no, I will not get over it.

Will Rodgers be awesome in 2012? Sure. But, in 2008, I cannot fathom turning a 13-3
team into a 6-10 team faster than what the Packers brass did.

The longer the streak goes, the harder it gets for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The Packers' 20-16 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars marked the seventh time this season that Rodgers had the ball in his hands late in the fourth quarter with a chance to beat a team and wasn't able to do it. The defense collapsed at the end of the game, but Rodgers had 1 minute 50 seconds to lead the team to a winning touchdown.

"I get paid to make plays and I need to make plays," Rodgers said. "I haven't been doing that as often as I want to be or should be. I take it upon myself. I'm disappointed. I've got to make the throws. I haven't been making them and I take that right on my shoulders."

Rodgers completed 20 of 32 passes for 278 yards and a touchdown with one interception, so his day wasn't a complete loss.

But the game followed a familiar script, in which Rodgers can't get the Packers into the end zone midway through the fourth quarter, the defense gives up the lead and Rodgers can't pull out a last-minute rally. It's a scene that has been played out numerous times this season.

Whether it all falls on Rodgers' shoulders is a matter of opinion.

"I think it's the whole offense," coach Mike McCarthy said. "The quarterback is a big part of it. The 2-minute drive there at the end, really, without seeing the film as far as the throw and coverage and so forth, I couldn't really answer that accurately without seeing the film."

Bill Simmons gold

Dallas on Gerald Wallace ….

Boomer! Boomer! Billy Simms perhaps is not acting dignified here:

Shelly vs. Ivanans last night:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Week 15: Cowboys 20, Giants 8 (9-5)

In what would have to go down as one of the craziest weeks in the history of this storied franchise (and consider for a moment what that is saying), we see yet again that winning cures cancer. At least temporarily, that is. It would seem that cancer does exist in the Cowboys locker-room, and I understand how a fans hope and dream is that the media is creating everything, but I would think it would take naiveté of the highest order to believe that there is no civil unrest in that Cowboys room. Something smells badly, and I think we all know who the usual suspect is on that front; but for a day, the Cowboys beat the Giants and everyone feels better and believes that they are now prepared to fight another day.

I said after the Seattle game : If there is anything that Wade Phillips can say that did not exist before he arrived it is that ability to sack the QB. The last time the team broke the 40 sacks barrier before Wade arrived was 1994. Now they have done it both years Wade has been here. The last time they had done it in back to back seasons is 1987-1988. Well, 8 more sacks against the Giants have the Cowboys high atop the National Football League with 53! The pass rush is relentless, and whether it is due to Wade taking control of the defensive playcalling, or the return of Terrence Newman, or a combination of many things…the
fact is quite clear. It is tough to block the Dallas Cowboys pass rush right now.

Now, to the much-maligned QB, Tony Romo. He has had prettier performances. He has made things look easier. But if football legends are made when a guy takes a beating and guts his way through a difficult game and a tremendous amount of punishment, then I think Tony Romo took another step in quieting his critics. The game was a December win, so put that one on the positive side of the ledger, and go back and review the throws he made while someone had a helmet in his sternum. Playing QB is tough, playing it in Dallas is tougher, and playing it in Dallas during the circus of #81 is next to impossible, but I think Tony Romo can limp around his house today feeling pretty darn proud of his evening. 0 turnovers (granted the fumble in the end zone was close) and a QB rating of 113.7 constitutes an amazing night given the piano he was carrying around on his back entering the game. Meanwhile, Eli, he the wearer of the Super Bowl ring, put a rating of 43.9 up, with 2 interceptions and looks like he wouldn’t mind having Plaxico and maybe Shockey back in the mix. I have said it a dozen times, and I have been ridiculed for saying it. But I haven’t changed my mind: “They have Eli, We have Romo…Give me Romo”.

Now, on to thoughts and comments from a big win against the Giants:

• We talked about the difficulty of this defensive gauntlet that the Cowboys are trying to survive. Well, they may be surviving, but the bruises are mounting up. I sure think the physical toll is mounting, and question what will be left of the Cowboys if they do make the playoffs. This Steelers-Giants-Ravens-Eagles December is as rough and tough as it gets. That was some hitting on that field yesterday. As a fan, you have to love it. As a player, you have to love when it is over.

• Jason Witten is as money as it gets. On 3rd down, Tony Romo looks at Witten 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Why? Because he makes the catch, and then he fights and fights to get that yard. Terrell can do a lot of things, but fight for that yard? I think we all saw that hook slide one yard short of the marker from Owens. Did he slip? Doesn’t matter. He didn’t come close to the marker. And then on the play of the game, Witten gets a 3rd and 9 even though he was being tackled 3 yards short of the marker. You want the ball on 3rd down? You better get that yard. Or 3.

• Audible boos during the starting line-ups, and during a few various moments of the game for Owens. I wonder if that has any effect on him at all? Nah. I am sure, Rosenhaus, Irvin, and Sanders will all assure him that the fans were calling him “Moose”, and that he is in the right and that everyone else is conspiring to keep him down. Surely, this is the last season with the narcissist known as T.O., right?

• Roy Williams: 1 catch for 5 yards. Something tells me the Cowboys anticipated more than 14 catches for 182 yards in his first 8 games here. That projects to a season of 28 catches and 364 yards over 16 games. YIKES. Apparently, Terrell refers to him as “Decoy Roy”. So far, I cannot argue with that point.

• Big credit to the coaches and players for figuring out how to slow down the Giants pass rush a bit as the game moved to the 2nd Quarter and beyond. It appeared the first step was to get Cory Proctor some much-needed help. Then, the next step was to use some screen plays and catch the Giants in some blitzes. Regardless, aside from Gurode snapping the ball well before the team was ready on that safety, the protection improved dramatically as the game went on. The first quarter was plenty damaging as it was.

• DeMarcus Ware is an animal. Everything you could say about his domination has already been said. 3 more sacks takes him to 19, and a legitimate chance to catch the all-time official NFL record of Michael Strahan (22.5) and the unofficial Cowboys record of Harvey Martin (23). Last night, they loved flipping Ware from Right End to Left End, to give both of the Giants tackles a chance to get Eli killed, and he just had his way. The best part of that night though, was when Ware was on the sideline with what appeared to be an equipment issue. That was during the Giants 2nd drive of the 3rd Quarter, and after they moved the ball from their 7 to their 45, A Ware-less defense scored back to back sacks with Spencer/Canty on 2nd down and Ellis/Ratliff on 3rd down getting the meet at the QB sacks. Loved the pressure.

• It was quite clear that Marion Barber had very little burst and ability to get up to speed last night. Luckily, it sure looks like Tashard Choice is ready to get the ball and make something happen. He also has the ability to catch the ball pretty well, which I didn’t realize back in Oxnard. I can’t imagine the depth in 2009 when Felix is healthy again.

• Having Newman make plays changes everything. He has had a very uneven year, but last night he really changed momentum with his first interception of the night. And who is the 2nd best corner on the squad? I think it has been Orlando Scandrick, recently. I love his fight. I love his effort. And I think he has some raw talent. Hard to believe you can find Choice and Scandrick on day 2 of the draft, but like Ratliff and Crayton, it demonstrates why scouts mean everything in the NFL.

• Too many penalties, boys. I know this is something they don’t seem very worried about, but good gosh, another 108 yards in flags? Attention to detail!

• Only 5 more days to Baltimore, and the final home game ever to be played at Texas Stadium. Heal fast, because this is another game you must win. Hey, Cowboys, how about everyone zip the lips for a few days, ok?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Am A Sieve!

Here is the video from the Bob Sturm vs Mike Ribeiro shootout. I don’t think you would consider my movement in goal to be “cat like”….
Video Here

Hockey News suggests that Hull could be out very soon
Here is the playoff run-in. 5 teams for 2 spots, Tampa and Dallas control their own destiny, but Philadelphia looks like they may have the most coveted finish….Say your football prayers….

WeekDallasTampa BayAtlantaWashPhil
15NYG@ ATLTB@ CinClev
16BaltSD@ MinnPhil@ Wash
17@ PhilOakST L@ SFDal

In case you are curious why we are tracking the following numbers. Well, first of all, what else do you want us to spend our time on? Beyond that, I think it is awfully interesting to see what numbers really mean rather than just listen to some knucklehead commentator spew out something that may or may not be supported by statistics.

Here are the 3 numbers we are tracking this season:

Does having a RB get to 100 yards have a correlation to winning?

In week 14, 8 runners hit the 100 yard barrier. Only Ryan Grant of Green Bay did so in a losing effort. The NFL was once again 7-1 with this number, and on the season, the record is now 73-22, or a 77% win percentage. Pretty convincing.

Does having a QB get to 300 yards have a correlation to winning?

Unlike the 100 yard rusher, most stat heads have never thought that a big passing day connected to winning. Rather, it seems that often 300 yard passing days come when a team is trying to come from behind and get a big dose of passing plays and prevent defense. This week, 300 yard passers were 1-2, with Matt Schaub getting the win, but Jeff Garcia and Matt Ryan did it in losing efforts. For the season, 300 yard passers are 39-22, for 64%.

Does winning the Turnover battle mean you will win the game?

This is traditionally the most convincing of all of the stats, however, week 14 was not overwhelming in its persuasive evidence. The winner of the turnover battle went just 9-5 this week, with teams winning the game but losing the turnover battle including: Vikings, Texans, Titans, Broncos, and Panthers.

For the season, the number is 128-39, or just a hair below 77%. Usually, it is always above 80%. I am not sure we are going to get there this year.

What do Tom Gribble and Toby Peterson have in common?

Chris Webber is insane

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Romo Manifesto - Draft #1

I think everyone enjoyed the Romo email segment Monday, so I wanted to offer a bit more of the fun so that everyone can realize that we don’t make this up. Below, please find a random sampling of the anti-Romo emails we have received in the last 24 hours. Then, below that, find my thoughts on the controversial young lad. It must be fun being a QB in this league:

Subject: Romo
Date: 12/7/2008 4:41:44 P.M. Central Standard Time

What do you think of Turnover Tony today? Pro Bowler my a--.....

I never want to hear
Date: 12/7/2008 6:25:19 P.M. Central Standard Time
From: 8177015360@VTEXT.COM

I never want to hear that romo is a jedi ever again. Can't say It's the cold because big ben has been alright.


Subject: Romo
Date: 12/7/2008 6:38:47 P.M. Central Standard Time

So, I got to listen to you two knuckleheads all week in The Ticket promos referring to Romo as a "Jedi". So, do Jedis throw 3 int's and have a QB rating of 44.9 in a big game against a possible Super Bowl team. Romo is a Jedi against teams like Seattle and San Francisco. I'm still waiting on him to win a big game.

I hope you guys can get over your man crush of Romo and see this guy for what he is. I know there is potential for greatness but, let's hold off on annointing him a Jedi until he actually wins a big game.



Subject: Maybe You Two Will Finally Get Off the "Jedi" Crap...
Date: 12/7/2008 6:49:30 P.M. Central Standard Time

Granted I haven't listened to you two "dudes" in quite some time as you guys have "dude"-ed me to death (the show should really be called "Dude Radio"), but if things have still been the same, GET OFF THE JEDI CRAP. HE IS NO JEDI, HE IS FAR FROM IT.

He might be one some day, but he is not one now. Three turnovers tonight? Yeah, you can blame the 4th & 10 on Witten, but still, when it is clutch time, he chokes too much. He can't nut up often enough when it's time to do so. Looks as if he & Jess can start having a fun off-season early.

I am tempted to listen to tomorrow's show to see if anything bad will be said about the anointed one (and I don't mean Obama). If you two "dudes" have stopped this Jedi chit & if he is not an untouchable for criticism, then my apologies. But I doubt it.

Muser & Hardline P1,


Subject: Romo
Date: 12/7/2008 7:04:53 P.M. Central Standard Time

Being an long time Cowboy fan, Romo reminds me of Danny White. Great against the weaker teams but he can not win the big one. I like him but, he's not like Troy. The identity of this team is Romo and four turnovers just will not do it. The sad thing about this is I am really pulling for this guy.
I've heard you say so many times that the mistakes that Romo makes really doesn't matter. Well I beg to differ...


Subject: jedi
Date: 12/7/2008 9:19:47 P.M. Central Standard Time

JEDI MY A--, B----ES
Ronn Ausborne


Subject: Jedi?
Date: 12/8/2008 8:00:37 A.M. Central Standard Time

Now, can you please take your mouth off of Romo's teet for at least one week? Niiiiiiiiice game, Tony. Please tap the brakes on the stupid Jedi talk until this guy wins something.



Subject: Romo
Date: 12/8/2008 9:01:11 A.M. Central Standard Time

It’s official. He’s a big game and December/January choker ….. the monkey is on his back now like it was on Peyton Manning’s for years. Good luck Romo. Good luck Cowboys fans…


Subject: Tony Homo
Date: 12/8/2008 9:04:42 A.M. Central Standard Time

Bob were you really on the pre-game show campaigning for Homo to be in the MVP mix if he had a good game in Pittsburg? Are you high? How do you feel now? He is looking more and more like Brett Favre everyday. You are a frigging idiot to even be discussing this interception machine for any award. This guy is a pretty spare QB who looks good against mediocre teams but any team with any semblance of a defense makes this guy look very junior varsity. Every guy form Wisconsin is not great. Let your homerism go. He sucks!!!!!!!!!

Curtis Patrick


Subject: Romo the Jedi
Date: 12/8/2008 11:31:38 A.M. Central Standard Time


Please read this email. I read your blog today and it seems your tired of people
emailing you and telling you that you are wrong about Romo. Well had you and Dan not anointed him a Jedi before accomplished anything aside from breaking a tackle or two you would not be receiving the backlash.

Since you and your show insist on praising him as you do, expect to keep getting the email and quit crying when people point out his flaws.

If you take off your rose colored glasses and look at him as a player you will see the following, he always makes poor decisions, he rarely goes to his 3 or fourth receiver. If he doesnt throw to the first guy its a dump pass to MB3 or in yesterdays case that dude. Not to mention his accuracy is terrible, he is constantly throwing behing receivers, or over their head.

He lacks the clutchness in critical situations, I think its his lack of competitiveness(in his world he has already won he has the girls, money and fame we all know he knows exactly with to tell the media), Dallas has another "star" number 41 on that team that plays at the AAC.

Getting to the playoffs is not enough, a win in the playoffs is mandatory!!!!!!

Subject: Romo sucks, and I've said so since the first time he took a snap
Date: 12/8/2008 2:23:44 P.M. Central Standard Time

Romo is not even among the top 10 QB’s in the league, and you homers can’t seem to accept that. As troy has said, and as Joe Montana has said, the way you judge a quarterback is how he performs in the post-season, period. Romo LOSES in the post-season…As a life long Cowboys fan (who has been watching football longer than any of you dim bulbs, with the exception of Rhyner, and I actually remember the games I saw (unlike Rhyner, who was watching many of those games in the 60’s and 70’s through a cloud of cannabis smoke….sound familiar Dan?). We could have had Brady Quinn and decided that Tony Homo was our QB….wow…when Quinn brings Dan’s beloved Browns back from the brink of death over the next two or three seasons, remember that he could have been the next Troy Aikman for our Boys…

Michael W. Eaton
Subject: Shilling for Romo
Date: 12/8/2008 4:07:11 P.M. Central Standard Time


You were a much better sports reporter before the ticket was sponsored by the Cowboys. You have a family, I understand you need your job, so I accept your unabashed fawning over Romo. Maybe I can find you a work around, so you can kind of talk bad about him with doing so directly. Check out an old Green Bay QB who backed up Favre. He was then traded to the Saints, and looked like a world beater. He was mobile, dynamic, a little bit mistake prone, but that was OK. Then he signed a big contract. Now he is out of the league.

He was hyped in much the same way Romo is now. Look at his stats in 2003, the guys was great. Now he is out. My friend, you can act like a legit sports reporter again, not a shill. Make the point that Romo is the next Aaron Brooks, and you will look like a real sports genius, and you won't have to be Jerry's whore when you do it.


To review my take on Tony Romo: I believe that Tony Romo is the real deal. I believe he is one of the very best QB’s in this league, and I believe that he will someday win a Super Bowl as the QB for the Dallas Cowboys. These are all predictions, not based on his previous accomplishments, but rather based on what I believe based on observation, conversation, and analyzing his total package of skills.

Now, I also believe he has been very good, and that he is a victim of circumstance as it pertains to the unreal bar of expectations in this city, but do not confuse the two separate discussions. The last paragraph is just what I believe. If you believe the opposite, not only are the odds in your favor, but there is no resolution until he either wins a Super Bowl or leaves the Cowboys. But this paragraph can be discussed with just a little analysis and some sweet looking html tables.

Shall we begin?

First, we can all admit that being QB in this city means that you will always be compared to Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach. Not just Troy and Roger, but the best of Troy And Roger. Allow me to inject just a small amount of wisdom into the conversation, by comparing the first 3 years of each man as a Starter in the NFL and for the Cowboys:

19890 - 11918
19907 - 81118
19917 - 51110
Total14 - 243146

Table Tutorial

197110 - 0154
197310 - 42315
19748 - 61115
Total28 - 104934

Table Tutorial

20087 - 32211
Total26 - 107743

Table Tutorial

Playoff Record in first 3 years as Cowboys QB:

Troy Aikman: 0-0
Roger Staubach: 5-3
Tony Romo: 0-2

There is one thing to note here. When Roger Staubach won his first playoff game, he was 29 years, 11 months old. Tony Romo is 28 years old right now, and Troy Aikman had his 3rd Super Bowl won at the age of 29.

Here is another fairly impressive number that you may not be aware of. Since, 2006 -When Romo took over as QB, here are the combined TD/INT numbers you should check out (please take special note of how many of the players on this list had already established themselves in the league before 2006. The point is that he is being compared with pretty much all veteran QB's while he is starting his career as a starter):

P. Manning8435+49
E Manning6746+21

Table Tutorial

Again, not trying to make the case that this is an apples to apples study. But since the start of 2006, Tony Romo holds his own with any and every QB not named Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. And yes, it is not a difficult deduction to say that he has better numbers in some regards than even the Super Bowl Ring Wearers, Big Ben and Eli. They, of course, hold the ultimate trump card, but if rings were all that mattered, then John Paxson was a better basketball player than Charles Barkley and Karl Malone, right?

And this business about his being a Interception machine? Well, do you notice how many players on this list have as many or more interceptions as the machine? Eli? Roethlisberger? Brees? Oh, my. Who knew?

I realize I have put my eggs in the Romo basket, and yes, I cringe when he appears to be a bit too “Hollywood” for my taste. But, I would like to say that I believe Tony Romo is the real deal, and while he may be a far cry from Mr. Staubach and Mr. Aikman, I would also say he is a far cry in the other direction from Quincy, Bledsoe, Vinny, Hutchinson, Henson, etc.

I will continue to add to this study as time allows, but allow me stop for now.