Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday! Friday!

Cowboys Story Lines that Interest Me:

Why doesn’t Miles Austin (edit) return Kicks?

Is Jason Hatcher going to reduce Marcus Spears role even more?

Will MB3 ever be allowed to play in the first few drives, which may allow the Cowboys to mix in a first Quarter Touchdown?

Will the Cowboys ever stop starting two Strong Safeties?

Will Tony Romo dazzle us on Sunday?

Can we remember the last time a RB dominated the Cowboys? The 3-4 seems to prevent this very well.

Is there a QB that looks more lost than Tavaris Jackson?

Can we count the Eagles out?

Cowboys 31, Vikings 17

Star Tribune looks at the 3-4

Vikings backup quarterback Kelly Holcomb spent four years in the AFC North, where half the division plays the unconventional defensive scheme that uses three linemen and four linebackers as opposed to four linemen and three linebackers.

"To be honest with you," Holcomb said, "I wish they'd do away with the 3-4. I hate the 3-4."

The 3-4 can be a nightmare for a quarterback, and usually is for a young one. Vikings starter Tarvaris Jackson, 24 with five NFL starts, faces two of them in three weeks -- in Dallas on Sunday and Nov. 4 at home against San Diego.

"I've faced a 4-3 pretty much my whole life, and I practice against it every day," said Jackson, whose only regular-season experience with the 3-4 came in relief duty against the Jets last season. "So, yeah, it's a lot different. You just have to study a lot more film, and then hope you recognize what they're doing when you get to game day."

In a 4-3 scheme, quarterbacks normally can identify the linemen as the four primary pass rushers. But in a 3-4, all bets are off. The versatility of the four linebackers, particularly the bigger ones on the outside, makes it harder for an inexperienced quarterback to distinguish the pass rushers from the cover men.

"A lot of times, you think you know which one is going to rush, and then the other guy comes flying in," said Holcomb, who got his fill of the 3-4 as a Browns quarterback facing the Steelers and Ravens a combined four times a year. "The 3-4 also gets you to commit your blockers early. So you set your protection scheme, and then those linebackers start walking around."

Holcomb remembers being fooled when he was with the Colts early in his career. Indianapolis was playing the Steelers, which had four of the league's best linebackers in Levon Kirkland, Chad Brown, Kevin Greene and Greg Lloyd.

"I set my protection," Holcomb said. "And then, at the last second, Kirkland, Brown and Greene all walked over to one side."


The 3-4 also can be strong against the run. In fact, three of the league's top five run defenses -- No. 3 Baltimore, No. 4 Pittsburgh and No. 5 New England -- use the 3-4. Dallas ranks seventh and San Diego eighth. That will come in handy against the Vikings, who have the No. 1-ranked running attack (170.2).

Alignment isn't the only problem in dealing with the 3-4. The outside linebackers are some of the best athletes in the league. And many times they're as big as the ends in a 4-3. In fact, a lot of them are former college defensive ends, such as the Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware (6-4, 252) and the Chargers' Shawne Merriman (6-4, 272).

Two years ago, when current Cowboys coach and longtime 3-4 proponent Wade Phillips was San Diego's defensive coordinator, the Chargers had the 12th pick in the draft.
The Cowboys had the 11th.

Dallas took Ware. The Chargers took Merriman. They now have a combined 57½ career sacks, including 5½ apiece this season.

"We knew we were going to get Merriman or Ware, and we were excited," Phillips said. "Dallas took Ware, so we took Merriman. That was great. Then I went to Dallas and I turned around and I've got Ware. Either one was great with me."
And maybe not so great for young Tarvaris.

Red Sox return Home Saturday Night

It's Saturday night alive for the Red Sox.

Cleveland may rock, but it was the Red Sox who rolled last night in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, beating the Cleveland Indians, 7-1, behind Josh Beckett, sending the series back to Boston with the Indians holding a 3-2 series lead.

Beckett may not have put himself yet in the company of childhood heroes Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens. But with his third dominating performance of this postseason, coupled with his previous exploits in 2003, he now belongs in the same conversation as Curt Schilling and Pedro Martínez when it comes to October mythmaking.

He gave up a run on a couple of hits to the first two batters of the game, then allowed the Indians just three more singles entering the eighth. He struck out 11, including Asdrubal Cabrera on three pitches with two on and two out to end the fifth, and walked just one. He is now 3-0 with a 1.12 ERA this October, with 26 strikeouts and one walk in 23 innings.

"Hardest event I've ever had to watch," Schilling wrote in an e-mail midgame last night from Boston, where he had already flown to prepare for his Game 6 start, "but I am seeing what I think is one of the most dominating performances in the history of the game and it's a sheer pleasure."

Is it an upset when the team that is upset is South Florida?

Once again, it was a football Thursday night at Rutgers Stadium, with a sellout crowd and a national television audience watching. Facing one of the country’s highest-ranked teams, Rutgers longed for an upset victory to give definition to its season and serve notice to the rest of the country that big-time college football is still played in New Jersey.

Rutgers, which had been stumbling through a shoddy, imperfect season, did not disappoint on this familiar midweek stage. With trickery and the spectacular, slashing running of Ray Rice, who had 181 rushing yards, Rutgers defeated South Florida, the nation’s second-ranked team, 30-27.

“The thing about Thursday nights here is that this is like our Monday night football,” Rice said. “The guys seized the opportunity on the big stage.”
The upset stalled the national championship hopes for South Florida (6-1). For Rutgers (5-2), the victory kept alive its major bowl game aspirations. And just like last season, when the Scarlet Knights stunned third-ranked Louisville in a similar, dramatic Thursday night game on the Rutgers campus, students stormed the field at the game’s conclusion.

Can the Stars win if Modano and Lehtinen are ordinary? …see the 2006 and 2007 playoffs for the answer…

Mike Modano's point-a-game scoring throughout his career has been so consistent that you could set a celebration timer by it.

So when public relations types and reporters started figuring Modano's schedule for tallying the seven points necessary to become the all-time American-born NHL scoring leader, they naturally targeted the seventh game of the season.

But that road marker passed Wednesday, and Modano still was stuck on two points for 2007-08.

While countdowns stared at him from billboards, Web sites and local newspapers, Modano admitted Thursday the pressure of getting that milestone out of the way is weighing on his mind during one of the slowest starts of his career.

"There's a lot of anxiety with the record. And the more it goes on, the worse it gets," he said. "I really wanted to get it out of the way early, and that obviously hasn't happened. So the more it doesn't happen, the more you think about it."

Modano started the season with 1,226 points in 1,238 games. Phil Housley holds the record at 1,232. To make sure it was prepared to honor Modano and celebrate his place in the history of USA hockey, the NHL had him do a press junket in New York before the season, the Stars put up a billboard that touts the upcoming record, and the team's Web site features a countdown clock with the title "Chasing History" atop the page.

Modano has taken crucial penalties in each of the last two games, and he is among the team leaders with six giveaways.

"He's struggling to find his game, and he knows that," coach Dave Tippett said. "I think when you watch and you see the penalties or the turnovers, those are mental errors, and those are very uncharacteristic of him."

Modano said he's confused by the slow start. He said he feels strong physically, feels like he's skating well and feels he played pretty well in the preseason. He said he doesn't believe his age (37) is affecting him.

"Physically, I don't think so, but you always have that on your mind," Modano said. "You do think about where your career is, where it is going, what the future holds. I think the record makes you think about those things."

To College Football, where the Buyout Bowl is not on TV????

Aggie Mailbag

• To the next Texas A&M football coach: Mix in at least an Aggie or two on your staff. Call Johnny Holland or Dat Nguyen or Dennis Allen or Larry Jackson or a host of other guys and offer them a job.

Have a guy around who can actually tell old Wrecking Crew stories, because he played on one.

The current staff under Dennis Franchione has two more Texas Longhorns (two) and two more Oklahoma Sooners (two) than Aggies (none).

How can that be? The Wrecking Crew? Sounds more like the Carpetbagging Crew.
Franchione should’ve had an A&M grad mixed in this bunch, a good group of men, but one in desperate need of a little Aggie influence.

Of course, that would have meant dipping into an old regime’s well for such a hire. Insecurity didn’t allow that.

• Talkative tight end Martellus Bennett has declined interview requests for almost the past month. His mother must have taught him right. If you don’t have anything nice to say … (Yes, I know he’s shown up for Franchione’s Thursday night radio show. He also was told early in the season that he was the show’s co-host).

• Franchione is nothing if not stubborn. Why didn’t he insert backup quarterback Jerrod Johnson on Saturday at Texas Tech, with the Aggies trailing by 28 with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter?

Instead, Franchione’s head Yell Leader, Stephen McGee, earned every snap. Point proved, coach. You call the shots, there’s no doubt about that.

• How is it that an offense with Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson in the backfield is led in rushing by its ball-hogging quarterback? McGee signed as a prolific passing quarterback out of Burnet High. Now he’s just thought of as a gritty option guy who can’t pass. It’s a shame.

McGee ought to consider a military career after his college career wraps up. He’s unbelievably loyal, even though he’s got plenty of reason to be bitter in this grinding offense.

• I’ll write it again. Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville is A&M’s early target to replace Franchione at season’s end – but much can change over two months.

• Ten years ago, A&M and Nebraska were playing in the Big 12 title game in San Antonio. Now, these two proud programs aren’t even playing each other on TV. Oh well, at least as writers we get to go old school and “paint a picture” when you collect your paper off the driveway Sunday morning.

Weakly Retort

(5) Oklahoma at Iowa State 11:30 AM on FSN

Why to watch: Hey, it’s a top 5 team. And it’s FOOTBALL.
Why not to watch: The Cyclones blow. See what I did there?

(22) Texas at Baylor 11:30 AM on Versus

Why to watch: You really miss the old SWC days.
Why not to watch: You actually remember the old SWC days.

(24) Texas Tech at (16) Missouri 2:30 PM on ABC

Why to watch: Definitely the game of the week in the Big XII. Two top quarterbacks duke it out in what promises to feature a lot of offense and some pissed off defensive coordinators.
Why not to watch: Seeing people eat their own boogers grosses you out.

(13)Kansas at Colorado 4:30 PM on ESPN

Why to watch: Is Kansas the real deal? Can Colorado pull another upset? Will Psychoag just keep asking questions because he really has nothing of substance to put here?

Why not to watch: Seeing people who look like boogers grosses you out.

Texas A&M at Nebraksa 1:05 PM

The battle of sucky coaches about to be fired in order to determine which coach is suckier and about to be firedier.

Kansas State at Oklahoma State 6:05 PM

A potentially good game that isn’t on TV because someone figured that people would rather watch Iowa State and Baylor get beaten

Amusing Story of the Day: Dirk has a low post game

Since the Mavericks' once-full tank of centers is on empty, Dirk Nowitzki has decided it's a good time to flash the results of a couple of years of working with his back to the basket.

Against Sacramento on Tuesday, Nowitzki needed only two possessions in the first quarter to show his improvement. First, he took a feed and spun around Kings center Brad Miller for a layup. It was a good, quick move to the rim, even if it did come against the ground-bound Miller.

The second move was more impressive. Against Justin Williams, who is much quicker than Miller, Nowitzki made a nice head fake to set up an up-and-under move that earned him an uncontested layup.

Nowitzki sat out Thursday's 104-90 loss to Houston, but he'll get plenty of chances to show off his inside moves tonight at home against Detroit, a game Avery Johnson said the Mavericks will treat as a serious dress rehearsal for the season.

"It's to the point now that I'm more comfortable down there," Nowitzki said. "When Avery first put me down there, it was pretty awkward. But it's getting better."

Nowitzki's first option for scoring is never going to be posting up on the low block. His
ability to take bigger defenders to the perimeter is why he's an MVP.

But if the Mavericks are to make good on their desire to be a better points-in-the-paint team, Nowitzki needs to get his share.

"He was good that night with his back to the basket," said Johnson, who joked that it was the new weight training that had Nowitzki going stronger to the rim.

"It's not like it's new territory, but when he's out there and has space to work with ... when he has three guys around him, I don't care how good he looks down there, he will not get the ball."

Rangers shuffle coaching deck …sounds good to me…

With bench coach Don Wakamatsu set to interview for a coaching position in Oakland today and hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo expected to entertain offers from other clubs, the Rangers are in danger of losing two coaches this off-season.

But general manager Jon Daniels said he hopes both coaches will return.

"You're talking about two guys that are as professional as they come," Daniels said Thursday. "I think the coaching staff, much like the team, really came together and started working more efficiently in June and through the rest of the season.

"Our first choice would be to bring everybody back."

This season was Wakamatsu's fifth with the Rangers and his first as third-base coach. Wakamatsu, 44, grew up in the Bay Area and is a friend of A's manager Bob Geren.

Jaramillo, whose contract expires at the end of October, has not asked for permission to speak with other clubs, Daniels said. Jaramillo, 57, has been the Rangers' hitting coach since Oct. 26, 1994.

Jason Whitlock tries to shock us

African-American football players caught up in the rebellion and buffoonery of hip hop culture have given NFL owners and coaches a justifiable reason to whiten their rosters. That will be the legacy left by Chad, Larry and Tank Johnson, Pacman Jones, Terrell Owens, Michael Vick and all the other football bojanglers.

In terms of opportunity for American-born black athletes, they're going to leave the game in far worse shape than they found it.

It's already starting to happen. A little-publicized fact is that the Colts and the Patriots — the league's model franchises — are two of the whitest teams in the NFL. If you count rookie receiver Anthony Gonzalez, the Colts opened the season with an NFL-high 24 white players on their 53-man roster. Toss in linebacker Naivote Taulawakeiaho "Freddie" Keiaho and 47 percent of Tony Dungy's defending Super Bowl-champion roster is non-African-American. Bill Belichick's Patriots are nearly as white, boasting a 23-man non-African-American roster, counting linebacker Tiaina "Junior" Seau and backup quarterback Matt Gutierrez.

For some reason, these facts are being ignored by the mainstream media. Could you imagine what would be written and discussed by the media if the Yankees and the Red Sox were chasing World Series titles with 11 African-Americans on their 25-man rosters (45 percent)?

We would be inundated with information and analysis on the social significance. Well, trust me, what is happening with the roster of the Patriots and the Colts and with Roger Goodell's disciplinary crackdown are all socially significant.

Hip hop athletes are being rejected because they're not good for business and, most important, because they don't contribute to a consistent winning environment. Herm Edwards said it best: You play to win the game.

I'm sure when we look up 10 years from now and 50 percent — rather than 70 percent — of NFL rosters are African-American, some Al Sharpton wannabe is going to blame the decline on a white-racist plot.

Tomorrow, 6:45 am: Liverpool at Everton …It doesn’t get any uglier than this…

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is calling for his players to keep their cool as they are pitched straight into the combustible atmosphere of a Merseyside derby on their return from the international break.

With many of the squad having been away with their countries in the last fortnight, a visit to their near neighbours across Stanley Park may be just what they need to get them up to speed in the Barclays Premier League.

However, one of the most fiercely-contested derbies in Britain often throws up its fair share of flashpoints and Benitez is keen for his side to maintain their focus.

Everton defender Alan Stubbs stoked the fires this week by suggesting big clubs should be looking to win the league every year - a swipe at Benitez labelling the Toffees as a "smaller" team after the previous derby in February.

And although Liverpool's last visit to Goodison Park ended in an embarrassing 3-0 defeat 13 months ago, the Reds boss stressed there were no thoughts of revenge.

"In these kind of games it is more important because everyone is talking about the rivalry between both teams," he said ahead of the 206th Merseyside derby.

"You must be as focused as always with maybe more determination. You must analyse the game with a cool mind because if you think about last year you will lose your concentration and it is important to make the right decisions."

Asked whether Stubbs' comments would provide extra motivation, Benitez added: "The majority of our players were away so I don't think they will have been reading the press."

This week in the EPL:

Sat Oct 20 06:40AM Central
Setanta Sports USA
English Premier League
Everton vs Liverpool

Sat Oct 20 08:45AM Central
Setanta Sports USA
English Premier League
Arsenal vs Bolton Wanderers

Sat Oct 20 08:55AM Central
FOX Soccer Channel (FSC) - US
English Premier League
Middlesbrough vs Chelsea

Sat Oct 20 11:00AM Central
FOX Soccer Channel (FSC) - US
English Premier League
Aston Villa vs Manchester United

Sun Oct 21 10:00AM Central
FOX Soccer Channel (FSC) - US
English Premier League
West Ham United vs Sunderland

This made me happy: Thanks to a P1, Dumb Face lives!


Definition: the appearance or look a person has that makes them seem retarded, slow minded, or just stupid intellectually, even though the person is normal or even highly intellegent.

Example: I can't believe how smart Peyton is! I never would've guessed it by looking at him and his dumb-face.

Please Support the UFC Saturday Night

Bills fans know how to party

Cowboys Fans, some people appear to enjoy it when you lose…

Oh yeah, and Joe Torre is done in New York.


dim499 said...

It's MILES AUSTIN, not Austin Miles. :) Like Stone Cold Steve.

Ross said...

That's why Bob said 'edit'.

I vote to protest UFC on Saturday. I love UFC and I normally buy the PPVs, but that is a weak card. Silva kills everybody in his weight class and Sylvia has the excitement of a Wade Phillips press conference.

Jay said...

Not sure who Jason Whitlock but I am shocked by that excerpt. I suppose he might have a hard time holding a job with those hot sports opinions. said...

Jason Whitlock is a long-time sports columnist in Kansas City, who also did a stint on His stock in trade is the racially tinged article, and this one is right down his alley. He ultimately was too controversial for all-things-for-all-people espn, but he's the KC Star's only national-calibre writer, so he ain't going anywhere for this one. (Cue the Norm voice) He's also black.

Jay said...

Oh I didn't know he was black. Well I suppose that changes everything. Still shocking, thems are opinions I don't usually hear from black writers.

CFB123 said...

R.I.P. Max McGee