Dallas Cowboys – what’s going on here?

Pat

So I said in the coming days I would look at the underachieving NFL teams and the overachieving ones as well and try to figure out what’s gone wrong and/or right with these teams. Everybody seems to love to analyze the Dallas Cowboys, so I will get this one out of the way. I’ve looked at the roster and depth chart to see who’s doing what statistically. I’ve analyzed the coaching staff, specifically the Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator and Defensive Coordinator, and of course the General Manager to see if he has hired the right people in these jobs and brought those coaches the players to get the job done. The big failing grade here goes to them all. At a 7 and 7 record, this has to be considered another lost year for the Cowboys. The first one that has to go here is the General Manager and Owner Jerry Jones. Jerry has stuck by Jason Garrett, Bill Callahan, Monte Kiffin and Quarterback Tony Romo because when he fires them it will be admitting that he has continually hired the wrong people and that he is easily one of the worst five General Managers in the NFL.  Philosophically, this team is terrible. They have no balance on offense, even though he has a talented running back, so he puts all the pressure on Romo, who folds under that pressure time and again.  Because he is offensively minded as a GM, he spends all his money on offense and does not have enough talent on the defense to get the job done. The Jerry Jones team philosophy for this team is a big loser and he needs to fire himself as GM and hire a good one.  He says he will never do this, but I believe that when the fed up fans finally quit coming, he will have to make a sensible change to improve his team.

Masha

I agree with Pat that the primary responsibility for the Dallas Cowboys’ performance failures ultimately lies with Jerry Jones. Jerry Jones as the Owner/GM is the worst case scenario. It’s like a physician treating himself for cancer. He’s so close to the situation that he can’t see the problems and instead sticks “loyally” with combinations that are not successful. No one has enough power at this point to challenge his decisions, and those that seem to have tried to challenge him have been dismissed from the organization. Until Mr. Jones steps back from the GM role and allows another viewpoint to enter into discussions, the Cowboys will continue to default to their pass-oriented, “seizing defeat from the jaws of victory” pattern they have languished in for years. I don’t believe for a second that Mr. Jones’ ego will allow him, declining fan base or not, sensible decision or not, to allow an actual GM to make decisions for the Cowboys organization.

NFL Week 15 picks

Masha

We’ve been picking NFL games for a long time and betting our favorite things as a reward. This year, we changed the format a bit and went to a season-long total, rather than a week to week total. Here’s our Week 15 picks, and, to the best of my swiss-cheese memory, it is the only time we’ve selected only one game differently from each other. Thanks Romo, for making my pick the best ever…

Week 15
Chargers     Broncos Pat Masha
Redskins     ATL Pat Masha
49ers Pat Masha    TB
Seattle Pat Masha    Giants
Eagles Pat Masha    Vikings
NE Pat Masha     Miami
Bills    Jaguars Pat Masha
Texans    Colts Pat Masha
Bears Pat Masha      Browns
KC Pat Masha     Raiders
Jets      Panthers Pat Masha
GB Pat      Cowboys Masha
AZ Pat Masha   Titans
NO Pat Masha   Rams
Bengals Pat Masha    Steelers
Ravens   Lions Pat Masha
After tonight’s game, we’ll add the wins/losses into our total. Through Week 14, Pat = 124-83-1, Masha = 120-87-1. Oh, and a special thanks to Jerry Jones for being the best GM ever. (Wish there was a special font for sarcasm…)

Friday soapbox spouting

Pat

Once in while I just have to get on my soapbox.  “According to sources,” the Media says, “Mack Brown will be fired Friday,” they said yesterday.  When it did not happen, there are no consequences for the reporter.  “According to sources,” says a reporter, “Saban is going to be the next head coach at Texas.”  When it doesn’t happen there are no consequences.  We have no idea if there are sources or if this reporter just wants this to happen.  This would be unethical and illegal!  It happens every day.  The only way to stop this is for the affected party to sue the media.  This practically never happens because it is almost impossible to win and the coach or player bringing the suit is accused of being against free speech.  The media can effectively say anything they want to about anybody, true or false, with no ramifications.  This needs to change. There needs to be somebody reviewing these practices and bringing the guilty parties to justice.  OK, off soapbox.

As for Thursday Night Football, San Diego upsetting the Broncos at home really muddies up the AFC playoff picture.  The Chargers are back in contention for a wild card birth and the Chiefs are back in the AFC West divisional race. This makes many games important this week.  But especially Monday night’s Baltimore vs. Detroit, which will have playoff implications.  I will enjoy watching the games!

Masha

I will agree that there seems to be much more speculation in the sports media than there used to be. Most of it is done without the addition of an “in my opinion” statement. Now, I’m not against speculation – that’s precisely what this blog is about. However, sports media in general seems to be driving the Mack Brown/Nick Saban truck much more than the viewing public. We just returned from a trip in Austin and no one was discussing Mack Brown’s job, they were talking more about the team’s performance. Unfortunately, the 24/7 media cycle drives some of this speculation – they’d have nothing to talk about if they stayed with “just the facts, ma’am.” So while I understand this drives you crazy, honey, I think this style of reporting is here to stay… I’ll just bring you a vodka when it really gets to you.

Pat
As the winter meetings wind down, there have been a lot of signings and trades that will make an impact.  There will be more in the next couple of weeks. What I like to do this time of year is let the dust settle and then look at everyone’s rosters and see who I think will contend for the coming season. I will do that over the next couple of months.
 
But now the real fun is what’s happening in the NFL. With three games left, we are seeing what teams are really contending for the playoffs and which are not. The big surprises for me are on the negative side. Pittsburgh and Houston are big disappointments in the AFC. The Giants, Redskins and Falcons have had very disappointing seasons in the NFC. These teams have gone from major contenders to bottom rung in one season.
 
On the positive side of the ledger, the Chiefs have totally turned it around in the AFC and the Cardinals and Panthers are much improved in the NFC. In the coming days, I will look really closely at all these teams and try to figure out why the turn around. I like to try to find reasons for negative and positive changes in teams, so I can figure out what they need to do stop the bleeding or what they can do to keep improvements going in the right direction.  
 
Masha
What a crazy NFL season so far. Pat’s right, there are some big surprises in performance this year and the teams who had been struggling several years ago are really coming on. Could be new coaching (KC), could be younger players growing into their position (Carolina). One of the things I believe directly impacts team performance is the NFL draft. You can see the bottom rung team making big moves when one or more of their rookies or second year guys starts to perform. Carolina Panthers are a great example of this.
 
The team in the news this week is the Redskins. Who knows if Mike Shanahan (and probably Kyle too) will be around next year, but RGIII will be. He performed so well in his rookie year, until the knee injury, and now it seems like the Shanahan/Griffin sniping has impacted the rest of the team’s performance. All I know is the Redskins look like a hot mess on the field and the Hogs can’t love that. The Falcons and the Giants are the mystery to me. The Falcons look like they’re playing in cement and Eli looks uncertain of himself and his passing ability. Both teams are going to have to take some hard looks at their personnel and figure out what’s going wrong this year.
 
Houston has already addressed what they perceive to be part of their problem (sorry, Gary) and I’m concerned Mike Tomlin will be looking for a job at the end of the season. Maybe Whisenhunt will come back to the Steelers…