Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Big Drama - Just Ask Sportscenter

Owens, Garrett, Romo…See how much fun it is when you lose around here? Lose a 2 point game to a division rival and the sky is falling…Life with the 2008 Dallas Cowboys…

Anyway, all of this talk about distribution, audibles, and play calling suggest a few things to look at. First, I don’t buy all of this business about audibles. It tells your fans that Romo wanted to pass while you wanted to run and why that may have happened some, let’s not get carried away. They broke the huddle 36 of 58 times in a shotgun formation – so if he audibled out of a run, it is merely a delay draw or something like that out of the shotgun. You (Jason Garrett/Wade Phillips) decide the personnel packages – not Tony Romo, and when you take out your base personnel and insert another WR and go Shotgun, you are taking all of the priority off of the power running game and showing Washington that you want to sling it around. Sometimes it works, but Sunday it didn’t – so let’s not be disingenuous about where the blame should lie. This is Jason Garrett’s rodeo. Jason rammed the ball down the Packers throat, and decided that was not the way to get to the Redskins. I suggest he was wrong, and I firmly believe that they all know it.

As for Owens, I would not worry too much about his act, and I also believe the Cowboys braintrust knows that, too.

Here is a look at the Run% of the Cowboys through week 4:

Week 1: 31 runs in 63 plays (49%)
Week 2: 24 runs in 54 plays (44%)
Week 3: 35 runs in 69 plays (51%)
Week 4: 11 runs in 58 plays (19%)

And now a look at the Shotgun formation % through the same 4 weeks:

Week 1: 15 plays in shotgun in 63 plays (24%)
Week 2: 17 shotgun in 54 plays (31%)
Week 3: 22 shotgun in 69 plays (32%)
Week 4: 36 shotgun in 58 plays (62%)

Looking at these numbers suggest that the Cowboys might have lost sight of what made them so successful through 3 weeks. They fell in love with the pass and the shotgun. I would think they will get back to what has worked in week 5.

Owens wants to be loved …ignore him..

Terrell Owens' frustration with the Dallas Cowboys offense carried over from the field to the locker room Sunday.

Owens, despite having 18 passes thrown his way in the loss to Washington, had what was deemed a serious conversation about the offense with quarterback Tony Romo after the game, according to multiple sources.

The types of routes and throws are what concerns Owens, the sources said. The receiver, who the sources said was venting to Romo about his frustrations, has not liked how some of the throws were coming from the quarterback as far back as the season opener.

But Owens said Sunday he is still confident in Romo.

In the loss to the Redskins, Owens finished with seven catches for 71 yards and one touchdown.

"There were some opportunities there, and there were some opportunities there where they were holding and the refs just didn't call it," Owens said after the game. "You can't blame the refs; we just didn't make the plays."

Owens didn't talk to reporters Monday when he slipped into the locker room near lunch time.

Owens is tied for 26th in the NFL this season with 17 receptions, and he's 15th with 264 receiving yards.

He wants better numbers and is frustrated with his lack of touches, especially in the deep passing game, he has said. Defenses are covering Owens with a cornerback underneath and with a safety 15 to 20 yards away from the line of scrimmage to prevent the Cowboys from throwing deep to him.

Owens likes to go deep. Three of his first eight receptions of the season were for 20 or more yards. But he hasn't caught a pass for more than 20 yards the last two games.

"Man, like I said, the dude's a competitor," receiver Patrick Crayton said of Owens. "Any competitor in this league, a receiver, running back, quarterback – whatever the situation is – if you don't want the ball, what are you playing that position for?"

The Cowboys audible explanation …very simplistic view…

When quarterback Tony Romo comes to the line of scrimmage, he can call for a running play or a pass. The defensive formation dictates what he ultimately decides.

Coach Wade Phillips said Romo called too many passes in Sunday's 26-24 loss. Marion Barber had only eight rushing attempts. Felix Jones didn't have any.

That after the Cowboys averaged 30 rushing attempts in the first three games.

"We didn't run the ball enough," Phillips said. "That's my fault."

The Redskins continually had a safety close to the line of scrimmage. Running backs coach Skip Peete said the Redskins had not done that as much in the first three games as they did against the Cowboys.

At that point, it becomes a numbers game. Seven offensive players can't block eight defenders.

"If they send the safety down in the box, you have to assign somebody [to block] for that eighth guy," Peete said. "You check it with the pass."

Guard Leonard Davis said: "Then when we've got the numbers, we feel like our running game is better than their front seven."

Romo's third-quarter interception came when the Redskins moved safety Chris Horton close to the front seven. Romo checked to a pass from a running play. Miles Austin was 15 yards away from the closest defender, but Horton raced to the sideline and made the interception.

Phillips wouldn't say whether he instructed offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and Romo to run the ball no matter how the Redskins lined up.

"Bottom line, we didn't run the ball enough," Phillips said. "That's what happened."

Michael Lombardi is quite a worthy read…

Josh Howard proves he has the sense at least to speak about his issues at media day …I suppose I would prove to be a media jerk if I ask why he had to wait until media day to get around to this, so I should just take what we got and celebrate his contrition even if it was team ordered…

For five seasons, Dallas Mavericks small forward Josh Howard, defined by his gangly frame and lighthearted smile, his headband and explosive bursts to the basket, soaked in the love of an adoring fan base.

It took just five months of self-destructive behavior, culminating with disrespecting the national anthem, for Howard to stretch his fans’ loyalty to the breaking point.

During Monday’s media day at American Airlines Center, Howard took the first positive step toward repairing his tattered image, offering an apology that seemed to come from the gut rather than cue cards.

"I’d like to state that I truly and really am sorry for everything that’s happened in the past five months with me," Howard said to open his 10-minute news conference. "This is not the way I carry myself. This is not how I want to be portrayed, and I really and truly am sorry to everybody that I offended. I’m upset with myself and the way I’ve acted the past five months. I truly and really am sorry."

Howard’s missteps started during last season’s playoffs when he admitted to smoking marijuana, followed by his late-night birthday party after a playoff game. An arrest for driving 94 mph on a North Carolina highway preceded the YouTube video of Howard rejecting the "Star-Spangled Banner" as it played before a charity flag football game.

The 8-second clip set off a firestorm of anger and disgust. Howard, 28, said he was regrettably goofing off and that his words that day do not represent his true feelings.

"I went to military school, I have friends that served in the military, I know how it is to wake up and salute the flag," Howard said. "And the national anthem every game, I have my hand over my heart. It’s nothing new to me. It was just me not thinking."

New Mavs coach Rick Carlisle visited Howard and his family in his hometown of Winston-Salem, N.C., last month, and he again praised Howard’s work ethic this summer during extensive workouts at the AAC.

Carlisle said he’s excited to coach a refocused Howard, who had career-high averages in points (19.9) and rebounds (7.0) last season despite a late slump on and off the court. Carlisle said he doesn’t anticipate handling any more uncomfortable situations with Howard.

"I don’t handle players. If you worked in a zoo you could say you handled the giraffes and the lions, and you handle horses. But you work with I know that he’s ... men.

Love CC Sabathia

A 122-pitch, four-hit complete game on short rest to seal the Brewers' playoff spot on the final day of the regular season? Whoa. Get Steven Spielberg on the phone. Here are a few nuggets about CC and the Brewers to chomp on:

• He's only the sixth pitcher in the past 10 seasons to make at least three starts in a row on short rest. The others, according to Elias: Esteban Loaiza in 2003, Danny Graves in 2003, Bobby Jones in 1999, Pedro Astacio in 1999 and Darryl Kile in 1999.

• And CC isn't done. Asked Sunday if he could come back for a FOURTH straight start on three days' rest on Thursday, in Game 2 of the NLDS in Philadelphia, he replied: "No doubt." So in case you're wondering -- and who wouldn't be? -- the last pitcher to make four starts in a row on short rest was Graves, for Jack McKeon's 2003 Reds.

• That lack of rest is really bothering this man, too, isn't it? Sabathia's ERA over those three starts is 0.83. "What he's done is, he's gone to his changeup more [in these starts]," said one scout. "And he's been really effective with it from both sides of the plate."

• Since Aug. 31, the Brewers are 5-2 when Sabathia starts -- and 6-14 when anybody else starts.

Another week, another Aggie Game not on TV

The Big 12 crashed the national polls on Sunday with more teams ranked in the top 10 than any other conference.

And even with conference play beginning, those rankings should hold if the ranked teams all can win on Saturday. The first week of Big 12 play features no games between two ranked foes.

But it should provide a couch potato's dream with five game available from late morning until nearly midnight.

Here's a viewer's guide to help guide you through your afternoon. Plan your Saturdays and set your Tivos accordingly.

Like always, a ranking of four stars indicates must-see television, and maybe even a game tape to be savored by more devoted viewers. Three-star games are worth the investment in time. Two-star games bear a quick glimpse or two for occasional score updates. And one-star games are indications that your time might be better spent with your family away from the television.

All kickoff times are for those viewers in the Eastern time zone.

Four-star game

Texas Tech at Kansas State, 3:30 p.m., ABC-TV: Will the Wildcats' leaky defense show much improvement after two recent struggling performances? Mike Leach and the Red Raiders are licking their chops thinking about their opportunities.

Three-star game

Texas at Colorado, 7 pm. Fox Sports Net: Buffaloes hook up with Longhorns for the first time since their historic 70-3 blowout victory in the 2005 Big 12 championship game. Throw in the bad feelings from Darrell Scott recruiting battle between the two schools and you could have a grudge battle.

Missouri at Nebraska, 9 p.m., ESPN: Wounded Cornhuskers still have history on their side. Missouri last won in Lincoln in 1978 and it will facing a difficult task Saturday night. But I bet that Bo Pelini will remain rather silent along the bench after last week.

Two-star games

Oklahoma at Baylor, 12:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net: No. 1 Sooners should have a chance to build confidence in their running game with Red River rivalry looming. But their defense will be challenged by talented Baylor freshman QB Robert Griffin, who will be facing his biggest college test so far. The Sooners have never lost to Baylor in the 16-game series.

Kansas at Iowa State, 12:30 p.m., Versus: Jayhawks hope to start their North Division title hopes by claiming their first road game of the season. Something will have to give in the pillow fight between Kansas' impotent rushing game (94th in the nation) against Iowa State's struggling rush defense (95th nationally).

Texas A&M at Oklahoma State, 7:05 p.m.: The Aggies have dominated this series in recent years, claiming 10 of the last 12 games including a pair of one-point victories in the last two seasons. But that was then and this is now. This one could get ugly as the Cowboys' No.1 ranked rushing game will face an A&M defense that ranks 115th nationally against the run and 76th overall in total defense.

Good Email:

Hey Bob,

Long-time listener, first time e-mailer, big fan of the show. While watching the game on Sunday, amongst some fantastic chicken wings and plenty of beer, I started to notice an ugly trend developing. Throwing the ball towards the sidelines was simply not working. Now I'm not sure whether it was bad timing, the Redskins defensive scheme, or a combination of both, but the passes thrown to the outside of the field got the Cowboys in some major trouble. It wasn't until I watched the game again tonight (thank God for DVR, didn't even notice T-New getting shredded), that I confirmed my suspicion. Take a look at the oh-so unofficial stats:

1st Half :

Outside 7-14, 52 yds, 1 near interception
Inside 8-9, 90 yds, 1 TD, (1 potential huge gain and/or TD lost due to Crayton's bobble)

2nd Half :
Outside 3-9, 20 yds, 1 INT
Inside 10-15, 138 yds, 2 TD's

Outside 10-23, 72 yds, 1 INT, 1 near INT
Inside 18-24, 228 yds, 3 TD's, (1 potential huge gain and/or TD lost due to Crayton's bobble)

It all points to the fact that Owens and Witten do the majority of their damage in the middle of the field. When a team like Washington stacks the box and plays man-to-man, they want you to throw towards the sideline because it give them another "defender." When the Cowboys' receivers got open in the middle of the field, their YAC went way up. Anyways, I didn't hear anybody mention this today so I thought I would just throw it out there. Have a good one man.

- White Mike

Redskins Song

Jedi Gym


Sean said...

With respect to the Dallas offense, I humbly suggest that Garrett just got too cute last week. He knew that he had just crushed a respected foe in Green Bay with his running game. He knew that Washington would prepare hard for that running game and be prepared to take that away from him. He thought that by coming with a game plan to "sling it around" that he would be able to consistently take advantage of Washington's week of misguided preparation on the Dallas power running game. Ooops. Washington has a great secondary too.

The biggest problem to me about Garrett's approach here is not that he got cute with the gameplan and tried to take advantage of what he thought Washington would be prepping for and expecting. But that the lack of adjustments at half-time on the offensive side of the ball was not up to its typical outstanding level. Normally, I view the Cowboy's half-time adjustments as some of the best, if not the best, in the NFL. This week it seemed like they thought about going to the run in that first drive of the second half (MB for 15 yards on one play). But they scored so quickly on a couple of decent pass plays, plus Barber's run, that they then once again forgot about it. And, the Defense didn't adjust to suck it up against the run in the second half like they normally do either. That was a deadly cocktail for a team that needed to get back to the run and control the ball. They had some success passing the ball on the first drive which lulled them away from the run and the defense gave up long possessions to Washington which negated their ability to really pound the ball because they were behind with little time.

One other note about C.C. I heard yesterday. He leads both the AL and NL in shutouts this year? holy cow. he's good.

Iamaspecialbruin said...

It amazing that Garret is being raked over the coals for putting up 24 points, despite his ridiculous game plan. Somehow this is the same mediocre underachieving bunch on Defense they have been for years now. Brian Stewart is the NFL equivalent of Simple Jack stalking our sidelines. Wade Phillips version of the 3-4 isnt much better than Parcells. Those guys, plus the gutless players they have on defense are the ones that should be having to face the music.

Iamaspecialbruin said...

It amazing that Garret is being raked over the coals for putting up 24 points, despite his ridiculous game plan. Somehow this is the same mediocre underachieving bunch on Defense they have been for years now. Brian Stewart is the NFL equivalent of Simple Jack stalking our sidelines. Wade Phillips version of the 3-4 isnt much better than Parcells. Those guys, plus the gutless players they have on defense are the ones that should be having to face the music.

Brandon said...

pooooor aggy. I think you were one of the few outside aggy land that noticed or cared that they are not on TV?

Van Deusen said...

Well, its a shame that (Yeah I know I'm going to be viewed as a TO lover...) no matter what he says it's going to be wrong. My take... TO wanted some balls deep, over the middle.. the "bread and butter". He didnt get any of those (okay well one was passed his way, but it was about 20 yards over his head). I don't think he was so much saying 19 passes his way wern't enough... but just the passes that went his way. Yea, we can throw the little screen pass to him, and get 4 yards, but that isn't what the cowboys want, or need. Damn the media for blowing this whole TO thing out of proportion. You know this WOULDNT be a big deal at all, if people woudlnt be going on and on about it. Weather or not if you are saying "what he did was no big deal" or "TO is cancer", bringing it up is adding fuel to the fire.

I agree with how the Hardline addressed the Favre trade.. they wouldnt address it until there were facts and an actual trade made... so they we're not adding to the whole deal. If more people would have this view of the TO comments, it wouldnt have to be a story.

Shit, I might tell Romo his passes we're off if I were on the team, cause... they were. Such is life. TO doesn't hate Romo, Romo doesn't have a conflict with TO. Romo's passes were off, TO couldn't catch some passes that came to him. Boo Hoo. Lets get to week 5.

Love you Sturm, ... fire Dan,

P1 Kyle