Friday, December 31, 2021

The Cowboys defense now faces the difficult Kyler Murray test: Pregame riffing

 We have been waiting on this one for quite a while. This was billed as potentially a game of the year for the Cowboys where they might need to get it to secure a spot in the playoffs or a chance to win the NFC East.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Cowboys dial up more pressure as the sacks and turnovers continue to stack up: Dan Quinn report

 The Cowboys defense is currently in uncharted waters. We don’t know how to process this.

As we head into Week 17 with a mighty challenge lurking — and obviously many bigger ones on the horizon — Dallas welcomes the new year with the unthinkable No. 1 ranking in the NFL in takeaways.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Cowboys get right on offense by strong strategic mauling of Washington: Decoding Kellen Moore

 Since the start of November, the journey for this Cowboys offense has been a bit of a struggle. We have evaluated a number of elements that range from the health of a calf muscle, the relative blocking prowess of a tight end who doesn’t really ever block, a debate whether a marginal roster player is actually better than a $50 million right tackle, thoughts that the TCU job might be distracting the offensive coordinator and about a thousand other half-baked premises.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Cowboys get their full groove back in easy rout of old rival: Sturm’s Morning After

 There used to be times around here when the local football team would ruin the holidays with incredible consistency. It was obviously unintentional, but usually from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, the optimism train would derail and run into the side of a tunnel at such speeds that there would be no recovery. A season that built promise would then crush it in what most would claim was “the hap-happiest season of all.”

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

DeMarcus Lawrence is back and as dangerous as ever. Dan Quinn’s defense has leveled up

 “Y’all know me, still the same O.G. but I been low-key” — Dr. Dre

To steal a lyric that plays in my head just about every time I see DeMarcus Lawrence doing what he does since his return, I suspect some of you have forgotten about Tank.

Lawrence is back and he is wrecking things. There was a play early in this game in New Jersey on Sunday that demonstrates what this all means. You see, Lawrence is one of the most productive defensive edges in the NFL in the past five years even though his own fan base often questions his quality. This, of course, is all the more remarkable when you consider that he has never really had much help with him.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Cowboys’ win in New York is nice, but the offense needs to be much better: Decoding Kellen Moore

 The object of this Tuesday series which we have been doing for more than a decade is to break down the offense in such a way where we can define what the Cowboys are trying to accomplish and evaluate how well they are doing that. Basically to establish what the offense alone is doing to help or hurt the team.

Often, we can go in different directions each week and break things down from a 30,000-foot view of it all.

Monday, December 20, 2021

The Cowboys get the job done, while a few teams above them did not: The Morning After

 At the risk of being a broken record, allow me to take you down an important road that is required after Week 15 in the NFL’s Sunday slate came to a close.

For many years, I have also covered the National Hockey League. In fact, there is a pretty good chance that I covered the NHL for a longer amount of time than the NFL — even though I am old enough that both span a few decades now.

Friday, December 17, 2021

How close is Micah Parsons to Defensive Player of the Year? Cowboys pregame riffing

 Thanks to COVID-19 and any additional variants that have complicated the football weekend, hopefully you can understand my reluctance to get too carried away about specifics regarding the game. In digging through the Giants news, it seems incredibly difficult to suggest who will be playing and who will not.

We will do our best, but both the texts and visual aids of this Friday tradition, you might see some things that are affected with late-breaking availability news. Please offer us a fair amount of latitude to offer our educated guesses.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Sometimes, you have special players making plays that defy X’s and O’s. The Cowboys did: Dan Quinn Report

 We love revisionist history when it means good things have happened. When the pregame chatter of what Washington’s offense can do to you turns out to be a false alarm and by halftime you are wondering how the WFT ever strung together four straight wins — including a win over the Super Bowl champions — you will take it every time.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

What on earth happened to the Cowboys offense and Dak Prescott? Decoding Kellen Moore

 Family meeting time. We need to have a dialogue about Dak Prescott.

This isn’t about fueling the haters and the folks who love nothing more than Dallas in a funk. It is about acknowledging an issue and then trying to trace back to the source of it so we can gain an understanding.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Winning ugly in Washington and the full power of the Cowboys roster shows: The Morning After

 Lost in the emotion of a fourth quarter that was much more stressful than it needed to be was the fact that some thought this team might not be able to get in and out of Washington with the win.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Walking into Washington with confidence. It’s prove-it time: Cowboys pregame riffing

 This is a big one. Very big.

With a two-game advantage on Washington, Dallas has a nice lead — but certainly not one that is secured. Lose this game Sunday and suddenly the Cowboys’ lead is just one and they would also not hold the tiebreaker, by virtue of the head-to-head loss.

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Defense sparked by the return of Tank and another great Micah Parsons moment: Dan Quinn Report

 Make no mistake, last Thursday will not win awards for the finest defensive performance of 2021. You can’t give up 400-plus yards to a team of understudies and feel too good about yourself. Not when you give up nine yards a carry to a QB who is having a hard time completing a pass. Not when you cannot really find a running back or wide receiver who should stress your defense at all. At some point, you needed someone to step up and make a play.

Friday, December 03, 2021

Cowboys get the result they needed, but style points missing: The Morning After

 We learned a long time ago that this league does not award style points and its a good thing, because the Cowboys would have had a hard time collecting them for most of their Week 13 win in New Orleans.

That said, the mission was to go into New Orleans and leave with a highly desired win to steady a ship that has been anything but. While the prettiness can and will be debated on this day, that is the important objective. The Cowboys had to have their eighth win of the season and as we check the standings, they got it.

Thursday, December 02, 2021

The Cowboys visit New Orleans in desperate need of a win: Thursday pregame riffing

 There was a time — not so long ago — when Sean Payton was that year’s version of Kellen Moore. The young hotshot assistant and offensive mastermind who was going to take over the coaching world as his own boss soon and what if he didn’t do it here?

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Dan Quinn was stubborn with his coverage calls for the Cowboys and that made the Raiders thankful

 This week, the NFL will surpass 17,000 games in the history of the most popular league in our society. The league seems to have popularity that knows no bounds and where the outcomes are always full of drama.

But on Thanksgiving, we nearly saw something that had never been seen in any of those 17,000 previous games played.

Monday, November 29, 2021

The Cowboys cannot run the ball right now and it is killing efficiency: Decoding Kellen Moore

 Now that we have all had the weekend to process another Cowboys loss on Thanksgiving — you can definitely catch up on my more general thoughts from the Morning After column here — it is time to really face some realities.

The Cowboys are still going to be heralded as a top offense in the NFL, because they are. They are still tops in the league in yards per game and top five in several other spots. As long as the league marketing machine measures quality based on total yardage, I guess they are still a heavyweight.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Another wrecked Thanksgiving for the Cowboys almost feels like home: The Morning After

 There is a tradition on Thanksgiving where the Dallas Cowboys celebrate the holiday by being the main event for the NFL. Families come together at the dinner table all over the nation and at the stadium as a symbol of timeless love and familial bonds that cut through the generations. Dallas Cowboys football and Thanksgiving is one of the more hallowed traditions that let us know normalcy can exist again as it always has.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Tyreek Hill and Kansas City get enough done, but the Cowboys defense stands tall: Dan Quinn Report

 I realize that this is a short week and I am probably violating my sacred vow to have you ready for the Raiders game, but let’s give this Chiefs performance a little love for this last piece before Friday’s Morning After the Thanksgiving game.

The Cowboys defense did very well in this game. Not perfect and not really close to perfect, but when you play an offense that good and grow into the game where you are winning more battles than losing once you make your adjustments and catch your breath, we probably have very little bad to say about the defense.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Cowboys’ game planning is called into question in Kansas City loss: Decoding Kellen Moore

 Adrian Clayborn will never be forgotten for what he did to the Cowboys’ offensive plan in Atlanta in 2017 and more specifically Chaz Green.

Well, Chris Jones was far more equal opportunity. The former college teammate of Dak Prescott’s at Mississippi State had an absurd seven splash plays with 3 1/2 sacks, recovered a fumble, forced another one and also tipped a pass that became an interception. He destroyed the Cowboys front and he was kind enough to give everyone a chance to block him. From Connor McGovern to Zack Martin, nobody could block him. He was in the banana stand and then he was in it again.

Monday, November 22, 2021

The Cowboys badly miss in their ‘Show America’ opportunity game: The Morning After

 They had a real opportunity. The NFL had tuned in to see this Cowboys team everyone had been talking up. If they are what they are said to be, this will be a chance to make a real statement in a place where the world will take notice. Very few teams will go into a pulsating Arrowhead Stadium when the weather has turned and end the day on top. If this Dallas team — especially one without several significant pieces that will be returning soon — is able to go into and defeat the team everyone knows will most likely be still standing at the end of January, well, then the Cowboys will no longer be able to fly somewhere under the radar.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Dallas goes to Arrowhead to measure its quality against the Chiefs: Cowboys pregame riffing

 Well, if you haven’t been waiting for this game since the schedule was released, you may want to check your heart rate and pulse. Because those of us who are still showing vital signs have been talking about this one and counting it down with eager anticipation since the day the fixture dropped.

This is Dallas’ first trip to Arrowhead Stadium since 2013, which pitted Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant in a Week 2 battle against Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe in a game where former defensive coordinator Bob Sutton blitzed the Cowboys into submission. Large human Dontari Poe had a couple sacks that day and the Cowboys limped home as 17-16 losers.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Cowboys’ performance against the Falcons might be best one yet: Dan Quinn Report

 The Cowboys defense needed a response from what was a poor performance versus Denver. In that game, the Cowboys missed tackles, must have forgotten the fundamentals of run defense and were unable to make any plays on the ball.

In a full-team failure in Week 9, it was going to be interesting to see how they responded in Week 10. It also helped that it was an opportunity for Dan Quinn, Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee to look across the field at their previous employer that bid each of them farewell in 2020.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Cowboys continue to treat fourth down as their true weapon: Decoding Kellen Moore

 On Sunday, the Cowboys converted 6-of-14 third downs for a very passable day of 43 percent. NFL league average is just slightly below 40 percent, so you enter every game and hope for 50 percent and settle for above 40 percent.

But, the Cowboys were able to add three additional fourth-down conversions to push a 43 percent day to a 64 percent day by simply “going for it.”

Monday, November 15, 2021

The Cowboys send an emphatic response to anyone who doubted them: The Morning After

 This one won’t require a deep dive of analysis.

Sometimes, you are just going to make sure that the opponent doesn’t matter that much. It really isn’t their fault and has very little to do with them. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The schedule works in mysterious ways.

Very sorry to the good folks of Atlanta for stepping in the way of that speeding train. You didn’t really do anything to deserve it.

Dallas was going to send a strong message to the NFL on Sunday and the team across the field was going to be victimized. The beatdown was thorough and emphatic and, frankly, without mercy.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Dallas tries to prove to us that it is a different team: Cowboys pregame riffing

 Losing can play tricks with your head for sure. You lose one game in two months and then hear that Randy Gregory won’t play for a whileTyron Smith is unlikely to return this week, and things snowball in your head. Before long you feel the stress of wondering about the traditional three games in 12 days stretch and with the Chiefs and Raiders waiting in the wings, you start to stress about how important this game is starting to look.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

The Cowboys run defense was bad vs. the Broncos — not quite 2020 bad — but still not good: Quinn Report

 It had been a while since this sort of defensive performance has been seen around here. The transformation of the 2021 Cowboys defense from what 2020 produced has been massive and impressive. That defense was poor in all of the important fundamentals and disorganized.

This defense has lined up well, battled hard and started by stopping the run.

Until Sunday.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Did Vic Fangio show the world a blueprint for beating the Cowboys? Doubtful. Decoding Kellen Moore

 This one was pretty rough. For the Cowboys offense to have this much going for it and this many games of looking unchallenged to then run into a team in that condition and look that poorly was quite a shock.

Down roughly six starters from their normal defense, the Denver Broncos are now going to be studied as a team that slowed down an offense that was starting to get chatter as unstoppable. What was their secret? What did they try to do?

Monday, November 08, 2021

Broncos remind the Cowboys of truths to remember about success: The Morning After

 “Success isn’t owned. It is leased. And rent is due every day.” — JJ Watt (maybe, but he probably got it from somewhere, too).

This one is going to be filled with half-truths and clich├ęs. For every success story includes moments where the subject deals with failure. Some of it is because the endeavor is difficult and things that are worth achieving involve tasks that are not easy to navigate. Other times, it simply is because the protagonist forgot how hard they worked to get their taste of success and attempted to take a shortcut to see what role preparation played in the process.

Friday, November 05, 2021

Dallas free agents to be and the Broncos come calling: Cowboys pregame riffing

 This game is not the most interesting game on the schedule. Not even close. So if I am going to tell you when games are very interesting, then I better preserve a few weeks where I don’t try to pull your leg.

Dallas should win this game — and win it pretty easily. Denver is not very good and it is also pretty beat up. Plus, the Broncos just traded their biggest franchise star in Von Miller. Their coach has been a leading candidate to not see the holidays on duty, despite being a well-loved football lifer who everyone wants to succeed.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

The Cowboys needed to stop an offense that can move — and they did just that: Quinn Report

 The Minnesota Vikings have proven to be a very difficult team to figure out. They have played every game in a manner that indicates they probably could win every game and probably could have lost every game.

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Attacking on third-and-long with a backup QB captures a Cowboys win: Decoding Kellen Moore

 The Cowboys won a meaningful game with a backup quarterback starting. If you have been following this team for very long, you should be aware that this sort of thing is rather rare. We have witnessed countless occasions where the Cowboys would hardly even make an effort to try to win a game with a backup QB, making us think that nobody but Tony Romo could possibly run their offense.

Monday, November 01, 2021

Cooper Rush leads the Cowboys to an unlikely road victory in made-for-TV moment: The Morning After

 Surely on a crazy day in the NFL where backup QBs were beating massive favorites in both of the other TV windows, Sunday night would want a bite of the apple, as well.

This column is going to be mostly about Cooper Rush.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Huge test against Mike Zimmer’s defense awaits on Sunday Night and two big storylines: Cowboys pregame riffing

 There are two stories this morning that shape how we prepare for the showdown in Minnesota with a Vikings’ side that is also coming off a bye week and more than capable of causing all manner of issues for this Cowboys’ train on Sunday night.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Cowboys DC Dan Quinn does what Mike Nolan couldn’t — find an aggressive complementary approach

 Trying to track a football team’s growth is similar to measuring your child’s growth — it is certainly not going to yield many results if you do it too often. If you are waiting for your kid to come down to breakfast so you can make them stand up straight and see if they grew overnight, you will likely not see much. But if you do it every 90 days or so, the differences might be stark.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Is there a fatal flaw with the Cowboys’ offense in the red zone? Decoding Kellen Moore

 As the bye week comes and goes, the Cowboys prepare for a stretch that they hope begins with QB1 in full health on Sunday night. Dak Prescott is said to be “good to go” after his calf strain, but we will know more as time creeps closer. We will over-report on this soon enough.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Dan Quinn turns the proper dials and then his Cowboys’ playmakers make the plays against the Patriots

 Defensively, you would like to think you could manage a trip to New England without giving up four touchdown drives to an offense that has very little that can hurt you behind a rookie quarterback and is as conservative as the NFL gets these days.

You would like to think that you can go up there and show the world that your defense is new and improved.

But, things aren’t always neat and clean in the road in the NFL.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Behind the power of 12 personnel, the Cowboys put the NFL on notice: Decoding Kellen Moore

 In a game of moments to scream at and about, the biggest moment of the night was the walk-off touchdown hit on a beautiful bootleg from Dak Prescott to CeeDee Lamb. It represented what this team is all about:

A run threat that sets up a brilliant passing opportunity through play-action and a rollout into a defensive secondary that is stretched too thin to slow down a receiver in so much space. To watch Lamb pull away from Jalen Mills was an exercise that was almost run at practice speed with its simplicity and devastation.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Cowboys win instant classic in New England and Dak Prescott dominates late: The Morning After

 We are lucky the bye week is next because it would sure be nice to watch this game again next weekend.

The Cowboys won a game we will talk about for quite a while in Foxboro on Sunday and extended their win streak to five games. They are learning to win games that are defined as “lose-able” and that is a trait the Cowboys were unfamiliar with for a very long time. But, feeling the slap of adversity late in games and collapsing or rising back and responding is an easy choice for this crew, it appears.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Cowboys pregame riffing: Bill Belichick’s challenge awaits for Cowboys’ offensive machine

 No, it is not a prelude to the Super Bowl. It just isn’t.

But, that won’t mean it won’t feel like a huge game. The Cowboys haven’t beat the Patriots since they have been defending Super Bowl champions.


The Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots have played 13 times to date in the history of the NFL.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The glorious Cowboys’ defensive turnover train continues at full-steam ahead: Quinn Report

 The Cowboys defense is rolling and takeaways are the fuel.

There is no football deodorant quite like getting the ball. It can make a bad defense look good and a good defense look great.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Cowboys continue to boss games with another dominating offensive day: Decoding Kellen Moore

 We discussed on Monday that this team is certainly much better after five games than the teams that came before it and necessitated massive coaching changes. You may recall that the 2018 team felt like it was on the verge of something pretty special after its playoff win against Seattle and then falling just short in the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Cowboys’ homestand finished with another demolition of battered rival: The Morning After

 The Dallas Cowboys approach their third road test this season with plenty to feel great about.

Sweeping through a three-game homestand is a sign of a team that has a strong likelihood to be playing meaningful football in January. Especially when that team is thoroughly posting divisional wins that are flat-out mismatch destructions.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Cowboys pregame riffing: The Giants present issues, but Dallas should have answers

 Well, let us never suggest that the NFL schedule-makers do not possess a sick sense of humor.

Are you kidding me? Fifty-two weeks later — 364 days later? The exact fixture on the schedule as it was in 2020 when it all went down and the 2020 season all but ended for the Cowboys.

There is only one week where the Cowboys’ schedules in each of the last two seasons are completely identical. One.

Week 5.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

The end of Jaylon Smith with the Cowboys and the current star status of Trevon Diggs: Quinn Report

 We had our plans for this defensive review piece until the news broke Tuesday night that the Cowboys finally decided that the Jaylon Smith era has come to a close.

In the interest of touching both ideas properly, allow me to give you initial thoughts on the release of Smith and then try to review the Carolina game as best we can in our allotted space.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

The Cowboys’ offense continues its lethal pace by beating the blitz: Decoding Kellen Moore

 We expected a true test for this Cowboys’ offense Sunday. It would be an opportunity to see what a team that was top-ranked in more than a few categories might do to slow down this machine.

Since securing Dak Prescott’s contract and the healing of Prescott, Tyron Smith and Zack Martin in the offseason, the expectation level was high enough around here that Prescott being on the fringe of MVP chatter was now an expectation — not a ridiculous dream.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Most dominating quarter in Cowboys modern history? Third quarter picture perfect: The Morning After

 North Texas framing stores were not expecting the lines Monday morning when they opened their stores, but that was what they faced as lines formed at numerous stores. Cowboys fans had mobilized with the rising sun. They all had a common goal: To frame that third quarter of the demolition of the Carolina Panthers for purposes of posterity.

Friday, October 01, 2021

Cowboys pregame riffing: Undefeated Panthers will challenge Dallas with their blitzing defense

 You certainly are aware that the Dallas Cowboys have lived two lives. The first life would be from the birth in 1960 until the victory in Super Bowl 30 at the end of 1995. That marks the proudest era for the proudest franchise in the sport with championships and near championships at a level the rest of the league could only dream.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs has outperformed his draft class with huge splash plays: Quinn Report

 Most players look for a reason to feel doubted. It stokes the fire and probably gives them a fire in their belly when they need a reason to train for hours in the middle of the offseason.

“Nobody believed in me,” is a phrase we hear in many championship interviews where someone tells us that even though they were selected pretty high in the NFL draft, because they were not picked even higher — they didn’t have enough “believers.”

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Anatomy of the Cowboys’ opening touchdown drive right off the script: Decoding Kellen Moore

 The Cowboys’ offense is performing at a very high level. They took apart the Eagles with relative ease that left us with almost no complaints.

Now, there were a few … aside from the problems at each goal line that almost put the Eagles right in the game — the chaos on one end that ended with an Eagles free TD as Fletcher Cox celebrated a rare touchdown — and the touchdown that wasn’t on the fourth-and-goal QB sneak where somehow they couldn’t prove that Dak Prescott clearly broke the plane of the end zone.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Cowboys’ decisive win against Philadelphia demonstrates their ceiling is high: Sturm’s Morning After


That is what you call a win like that. A thorough and decisive beatdown where the final score flattered the team that was steamrolled.

And when you do it in your home opener and against a hated rival with many important pieces missing — seven starters were out for various reasons — you have to leave AT&T Stadium on Monday night thinking that the 2021 Dallas Cowboys are a different animal.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Cowboys pregame riffing: Home-opening battle with the Eagles will require points … many points

 The 2000 season featured an early-season (Week 1) visit from those hated Eagles. Philadelphia featured a pretty new and unproven coach, an exciting and potential-filled quarterback and a team that the Cowboys thought they should certainly beat to get where they wanted to go — especially given that the Eagles were not near the threat that Washington was. You know, the Washington that won the division last year?

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Micah Parsons’ historic day in L.A.: Cowboys’ rookie tackles new role with best Magic Johnson impersonation

 I realize there is no shortage of Micah Parsons reading material these days, but I have never let others affect my game too much. If I am going to write about Parsons with wild wonder on Monday and try to process what we have just witnessed, then I sure better be willing to examine it in great detail when we look at the defensive film on Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Decoding Dak Prescott and Tony Pollard: Development of key Cowboys’ offensive pieces in real time

 There was one major reason the Cowboys offense needed a directional change a few years back, and it centered mostly on maximizing the potential of its pieces. The Cowboys had just found a rookie class of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, and the hope was they could populate every offensive huddle between 2016 and 2025 if things went well. They were young and talented and could maybe be the core of a successful offense.

Monday, September 20, 2021

The Cowboys figure out a way to win when things aren’t perfect: Sturm’s Morning After

 At least once a year — often about this time on the calendar — I feel compelled to have the “winning talk” with the good folks who are nice enough to read my column.

The “winning talk” is pretty simple and yet pretty disappointing to the part of the Cowboys’ fandom group that enjoys being mad at this team. They want wins, but they want them to be nice and neat with no mud on the clothing. They want utter annihilation and an enemy that taps out before the fight has begun. They don’t like the grind, the street fight, nor the grueling feeling of being stretched and contorted for three hours of internal struggle. They don’t like how long it takes to clean off the blood and dirt from the uniforms.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Cowboys pregame riffing: Patience required for Dallas to score enough against Brandon Staley’s Chargers

 Fifty-eight days since the Dallas Cowboys training camp held its first full practice in Oxnard, Calif.; 149 days until Super Bowl 56 in Inglewood, Calif.; and just two more days until the 3:25 pm CT start on Sunday at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood where the Cowboys visit the Chargers for a Week 2 battle …

They have started the season 0-2 four times since 1990.

It worked really well in 1993. That year, the Cowboys started 0-2 with Emmitt Smith holding out. They then signed him to a new deal, and Dallas went on to win the Super Bowl. No problem.

They did it again in 2000 and finished 5-11.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

What is Dan Quinn thinking? We sort through the evidence to figure out his plan for the Cowboys’ defense

 The game is already in the rearview mirror and it is definitely, "On to Los Angeles", but Wednesdays are when we look at the defense under a thorough microscope. Tom Brady demonstrated a level of excellence that a 44-year-old has never shown before in the Bucs ' Week 1 win, and he continues to incinerate the envelope of what is possible. He played what could have certainly been a perfect game if it wasn't for a few drops and a tipped pass.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

How did the Cowboys’ offensive line hold up against the Bucs’ fearsome front? Studying film for answers

 Each week, I want to offer answers to the questions that are presented about the Cowboys and their challenges. I want to study the film with a notebook of observations and look for the battles within the game that tell us who won and why they won. But perhaps more importantly, I want to also ask what that tells us about upcoming battles on the schedule and even on the depth chart as this team begins to transform into whatever it might be by year's end.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Cowboys find out plenty about themselves in season-opening loss: Sturm’s Morning After

 There are a thousand pieces written about every Dallas Cowboys game and I appreciate you picking this one to be on your list. That said, if you love loathing the claim of morale-boosting and learning through painful defeats early in the season, then you might want someone a bit more edgy today. Because last night, I watched the 2021 Cowboys debut against an opponent that seemed to present as tough a challenge on both sides of the ball as you will find all season.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

The NFL's toughest opening game awaits Dallas in Tampa

 Fifty days since the Dallas Cowboys training camp held its first full practice in Oxnard, Calif.; 157 days until Super Bowl 56 in Inglewood, Calif.; and just a few hours until the 7:20 p.m. CT start at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa ... 

We made it. It has certainly been a while since a difficult-to-watch contest ended at Giants Stadium on Jan. 3 with the Cowboys logging their 10th loss of the season. It seemed a year when everything went wrong, mostly because it did. The offseason never happened.

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

10 Cowboys predictions: They are winning the NFC East and Dak Prescott will lead them

 The Cowboys help raise the curtains on NFL 2021 in incredibly short order in Tampa Bay on Thursday night. That will be the scene where the Buccaneers became the first team to win the Super Bowl on their home field and have since become the only team since the salary cap was instituted to return all 22 Super Bowl starters.

Friday, September 03, 2021

The Cowboys' defense wants to be much better. How close can they come to that in 2021?

 Well, it is "go" time. In one week, we will be sitting here with a Morning After column from the first game of the season. That game is probably well-considered the toughest game on the NFL schedule in 2021. You can probably argue, but playing the defending champions at their place on "banner night" in front of the world, when they are fully healthy and fully rested and returning all 22 starters? I mean, if any game should be considered a difficult start to the season, this is it.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Riffing about what we should look for when evaluating the QB position

 No sport is followed more than football in this country. More people love it and more people think about it daily, and yet if you turn on the radio or even overhear a conversation, it seems most people aren't sure how to fully understand the finer points that make all the difference in the world. Nowhere is this more true than the position of quarterback. We want to be able to measure why this quarterback is better or worse than that guy - but how?

Monday, August 30, 2021

Heavy on defense and special teams Sturm’s final Cowboys 53-man roster projection

 Thankfully, we have a fun exercise to replace any sort of game recap with here as trying to dignify that preseason game from Sunday with Jacksonville with words is probably a bridge too far. So let's skip it. Late last week, I did a post on how special teams determine rosters. I believe what I wrote for sure, but I also have to admit that the math of this particular roster selection may put my initial thoughts to the test.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

What will the Cowboys do? Special teams decide so much, but usually get so little of the roster attention

 This is the point in the preseason where I do my roster projections - as any good NFL writer should. Look for it as part of my Morning After piece next Monday after the final fake game of the preseason. If you follow my work, you should definitely know that a big part of the final 10 spots on a 53-man roster will always be about two things for me: Contracts and special teams. You know about contracts and guaranteed money and the difficulty the Jones family seems to have with painful goodbyes.

Monday, August 23, 2021

From Micah Parsons to Quinton Bohanna, film tells stories of the Cowboys' 2021 rookie class

 This week we know the Cowboys are really zeroing in on the makeup of their roster. So this is the first of a two-part series where we will first look at the progress of the 11 draftees from April and then later in the week mix in the all-important special teams discussions which often help us know who is making the team and who is not. But, first things first. Today, I am offering thoughts on the new 11 picks and what they have shown me in camp and during the preseason.

Friday, August 20, 2021

The devil is certainly in the details and the details of the Cowboys offense must improve

 The focus on the media is often what starts conversations in the public. What you read about (or hear) that morning may influence what "is talked about" around the water cooler. It isn't a great system for what wheel gets the grease, but it is the best one we have. The opposite is also true. Maybe, if we, the media, don't talk about something enough, it gets ignored by the masses. Again, not always, but often, if everyone isn't pointing and yelling at something, maybe its concern level remains low.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

20 questions, from Dak Prescott's return to Jaylon Smith's future and reasons to be positive

 We are going to try to get these done more often. You send me your feelings and concerns and I respond with some thoughts and words. Twenty questions can happen as often as you guys like during the season, but let's test drive this car with an Aug. 17 version and see how it goes.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

The issues of 2019 and 2020 are still there for Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

 There is no question that if you found something better to do Friday night, you need to not sit in regret. If you burned your sports pass for late last week on a baseball game played in a cornfield, you chose well. There were moments of significance Friday night in Arizona, for sure. Dak Prescott appearing to throw passes in warmups would have to qualify, although another week of not throwing should probably not bother too many people with the Cowboys still having three weeks to prepare.

Friday, August 13, 2021

NFL 100: At No. 29, Emmitt Smith did what he did for longer and better than anyone

 Welcome to the NFL 100, The Athletic's endeavor to identify the 100 best players in football history. Every day until the season begins, we'll unveil new members of the list, with the No. 1 player to be crowned on Wednesday, Sept. 8. 

Any time you talk about someone with all of the records in their given pursuit, there is an instinctive reaction from those who back others in the conversation to try to cheapen those records by saying it is merely a product of longevity.

Monday, August 09, 2021

Cowboys camp Monday briefing: Three important draft picks for two spots on the offensive line

 The Cowboys offensive line is a fascinating study at the moment as they are coming off a year that was a clear and solid disaster. There were more injuries to key veterans that cost Tyron Smith, La'el Collins and Zack Martin all massive chunks (if not all) of 2020. This helped the entire offense implode due to shifting every week.

Friday, August 06, 2021

Sturm’s Morning After: The Cowboys’ defensive lineup provides clues on the plans at linebacker

 The Hall of Fame Game on Thursday night in Canton was, in fact, played. It did happen and if you watched it, you saw some classic uniforms and a few isolated things here and there worth noting. But, let's be honest: If you decided to skip it, you can still call yourself an NFL enthusiast and keep your Cowboys fan card. Jon Machota offered his insights from last night and I encourage you to check those out here.

Thursday, August 05, 2021

NFL 100: At No. 45, Larry Allen lives in mythological lore, but he was real and spectacular

 Welcome to the NFL 100, The Athletic's endeavor to identify the 100 best players in football history. Every day until the season begins, we'll unveil new members of the list, with the No. 1 player to be crowned on Wednesday, Sept. 8. 

To properly express Larry Allen's legend amongst those who played with him, against him and viewed him from close range, we must enter into evidence that routinely his ability was discussed in terms that made comparisons somewhat pointless.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

NFL 100: At No. 47, Cowboys’ Randy White terrified opponents unlike any undersized DT in history

 Welcome to the NFL 100The Athletic’s endeavor to identify the 100 best players in football history. Every day until the season begins, we’ll unveil new members of the list, with the No. 1 player to be crowned on Wednesday, Sept. 8.

It has been a long time since he played in the NFL, so memories of the Manster on the football field will belong only to those at least 40 years of age.

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Put up or shut up: Five Cowboys players heading into massive ‘prove-it’ years in 2021

 A few years ago, we started adding this to our annual training camp checklist, and it is that time again.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Watching history unfold with Drew Pearson: Cowboys’ Hall of Fame receiver details ‘the catch’ vs. the Vikings

 It started with an email to the man who is about to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after waiting patiently and then impatiently for 33 years to get his moment of football immortality.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Depth decides and destroys seasons. The Cowboys have addressed this roster issue well

 The Cowboys had not even played a single play in 2020 when their depth was tested. Given the weirdness of the entire preseason — one that included the Cowboys having an “open practice” where no players wore numbers on their uniforms to protect any secrets that might have existed — the pregame reports left many scrambling for information right before kickoff. In pregame, it was revealed that the starter at right tackle was a player who was a longshot to even make the roster, Terence Steele. Steele was an undrafted rookie from Texas Tech who surely had a chance to be one of many developmental kids on the practice squad, but now he would be starting in place of right tackle La’el Collins in his first NFL game without the benefit of even one preseason game to simulate live fire.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Those who know Jimmy Johnson best tell stories about the Hall of Fame coach

 On Aug. 7, Jimmy Johnson will be properly inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I have written plenty over the years about his credentials and his clear-cut case for football immortality with a bust in Canton.

Monday, July 26, 2021

We are back and 'Off to Oxnard, 2021'

DATELINE: Seat 29F of flight to Santa Barbara. It is time to dust off the laptop, let the sunburn heal a bit and finally get to work. It has been 204 days since the Cowboys were last involved in a real live football game in Week 17 against the Giants at MetLife Stadium. That game was the final frustrating chapter in a thoroughly frustrating 2020 season that involved propped-up expectations of success and the thud of incredible underachievement.