Tag Archives: Dez Bryant

Terrance Williams: Not A True #2 

Ever since the day he was drafted I’ve always wondered how good Terrance Williams was,how good he is, and how good he would be.

After two full years and a few games of being the man I see now that he isn’t that guy.

terrance-williams

Over the years the Cowboys have had guys like Terrell Owens, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant as their number one receiver. Eating after those guys would be receivers like Terry Glenn, Patrick Crayton, Roy Williams, Laurent Robinson as well as Tight-End Jason Witten. Every single last one of those players (second options) were able to hold their own one way or another. Roy Williams was a nice blocker and a fair red-zone threat. Williams isn’t. Terry Glenn could stretch the field and was a savvy enough route runner to get open underneath. Williams isn’t.  Patrick Crayton was a nice slot receiver and was a good punt returner. Williams isn’t. Laurent Robinson was a guy who could stretch the field, play in the slot and he made defenses respect him. No one respects Williams.

The first problem is the fact that Williams struggles to catch the ball. (He’s more of a body catcher. Not a guy who snatches the ball out of the air.) If the ball isn’t going towards the sideline or up the field he’s prone to drop it. As a rookie he tried handling duties as a kick returner. That experiment failed. Williams also isn’t the fastest guy we’ve seen but he has enough speed to beat opposing defensive backs consistently. The problem is that he doesn’t do it enough.

After having so much time in the offseason to himself while Dez was holding out I thought he was primed to have a breakout year. The sad part about it is I haven’t seen any signs of this coming to fruition.

Against the Giants I was waiting for him to have that ”I can scorch y’all too moment.” Instead of beating them he struggled to get open. Most of his touches came when Dez exited the game and Romo had to spread the wealth in an effort to keep the defense on their heels. On the game winning drive Lance Dunbar and Jason Witten were the primary targets. Not Terrance.

In week two against the Eagles Williams wasn’t a factor until late in the 4th quarter when backup quarterback Brandon Weeden came in and threw a 42-yard touchdown pass. Prior to that pass Byron Maxwell (horrible) and company had him contained.

When the Falcons came to town in week 3 Terrance Williams did as much as I did….. A big fat ass NOTHING. He had no catches. No touchdowns. No rushing or returning yards. Hell he didn’t even have a tackle. Just a couple of dropped passes. The Cowboys were stellar running the football and passing it underneath in the first half of that game, but due to Williams inability to stretch the field Atlanta was able to take over the game. Pathetic.

This past week against the Saints Williams finished the game with 3rec (10 targets) 49yards and a clutch TD reception that came late in the 4th quarter. The touchdown was nice. But he arrived too late.

After four complete games Williams hasn’t been much help to the Cowboys. He doesn’t solely lead the team in any statistical category. He hasn’t had any double touchdown games nor has he had a night where he went for a 100yards. For a number one option that just won’t cut it.

Either way it goes the Cowboys need help at the receiver position. They have no viable number two guy or number one in this case. Witten is too old for that. Cole Beasley can only do one thing. Brice Butler is hurt. Devin Street is too inexperienced. Gavin Escobar isn’t utilized. Lance Dunbar (best option after Dez) is now out for the season. Having Dez at the helm masked all of the problems we see now within the receiving core.

Do I blame management for this? No, but they still should’ve went the safe route and signed a receiver who is/was capable of shouldering the load if Dez went down…. (Desean Jackson few years back, Michael Crabtree, Reggie Wayne, Percy Harvin and Andre Johnson this offseason.) Teams like the Broncos, Giants, Redskins, Patriots, Packers, Colts, Steelers and few others understand the concept of having great depth at receiver. If one guy goes down they still have other guys who demand respect from opposing defenses. As of today the Cowboys don’t have that.

It’s all on Terrance Williams to officially step up and fulfill that role. You can’t pick and choose the times you show up. It has to be all game. The Cowboys desperately need him to step up. If his putrid play continues it might be time to take up on that T.O. offer. (kidding) But it should be time to go out and make a move. There are other feasible options.

A pedestrian quarterback with an average running game, unproven defense and lackluster threats in the passing attack does not win… Just that simple.

Twitter: @RyanDFort

NFL Preview: Awards, Hype, Prediction Edition

nfl-2015-tickets

With the NFL Season getting ready to start it’s only right that we answer a few questions in regards to awards, Division winners, Superbowl predictions etc…. Please be sure to sound off and voice your opinions and enlighten us on your predictions.

Division Winners

Who wins the each NFC Division (include record):

Deshawn Hornback {@DeeSportsTalk}:

Packers (11-5)

Cowboys (10-6)

Panthers (8-8) Do not hold me to this

Seahawks (13-3)

R’Mon Allen {@RmonAllen}:

Packers 9-7

Eagles 10-6

Falcons 7-9

Seahawks 12-4

Ryan Fort {@RyanDFort}:

Packers (10-6)

Cowboys (13-3)

Saints (11-5)

Seahawks (12-4)

Hashim Ashimi {no Twitter}:

Packers (10-6)

Cowboys (12-4)

Saints (9-7)

Seahawks (12-4)

Tyler Carter {@AyeMrCarter24}:

Packers (12-4)

Cowboys (11-5)

Panthers (8-8)

Seahawks (13-3)

Jonathan Ayala {@JonathanAyalaa_}:

Packers (12-4)

Cowboys (12-4)

Panthers (9-7)

Seahawks (11-5)

Jabbari Booth {@jabbari_b}:

Packers (9-7)

Cowboys (10-6)

Panthers (8-8)

Cardinals (12-4)

Who wins each AFC Division (include record):

Hornback:

Bengals (11-5)

Patriots (11-5)

Colts (13-3)

Broncos (12-4)

Allen:

Steelers (11-5)

Patriots (12-4)

Colts (13-3)

Broncos (11-5)

Fort:

Steelers (10-6)

Patriots (11-5)

Colts (13-3)

Chiefs (12-4)

Ashimi:

Steelers (11-5)

Patriots (12-4)

Colts (12-4)

Chiefs (12-4)

Carter:

Ravens (10-6)

Patriots (12-4)

Colts (13-3)

Broncos (11-5)

Ayala:

Steelers (10-6)

Patriots (11-5)

Colts (10-6)

Chiefs (10-6)

Booth:

Steelers (11-5)

Patriots (11-5)

Colts (10-6)

Broncos (10-6)

Playoff Teams Prediction (Include Seeding)

les-playoffs-nfc

Which NFC teams will be Playoff bound:

Hornback:

  1. Seahawks
  2. Packers
  3. Cowboys
  4. Panthers
  5. Cardinals
  6. Rams

Allen:

  1. Seahawks
  2. Eagles
  3. Packers
  4. Falcons
  5. Cardinals
  6. Cowboys

Fort:

  1. Cowboys
  2. Seahawks
  3. Saints
  4. Packers
  5. Cardinals
  6. Giants

Ashimi:

  1. Seahawks
  2. Cowboys
  3. Packers
  4. Saints
  5. Cardinals
  6. Panthers

Carter:

  1. Seahawks
  2. Packers
  3. Cowboys
  4. Panthers
  5. Eagles
  6. Rams

Ayala:

  1. Packers
  2. Cowboys
  3. Seahawks
  4. Panthers
  5. Eagles
  6. Lions or Vikings

Booth:

  1. Cardinals
  2. Cowboys
  3. Packers
  4. Panthers
  5. Seahawks
  6. Eagles/Rams

les-playoffs-afc

Which AFC teams will be Playoff bound:

Hornback:

  1. Colts
  2. Broncos
  3. Patriots
  4. Bengals
  5. Ravens
  6. Chargers

Allen:

  1. Colts
  2. Patriots
  3. Broncos
  4. Steelers
  5. Ravens
  6. Bills

Fort:

  1. Colts
  2. Chiefs
  3. Patriots
  4. Steelers
  5. Broncos
  6. Dolphins

Ashimi:

  1. Colts
  2. Chiefs
  3. Patriots
  4. Steelers
  5. Broncos
  6. Ravens

Carter:

  1. Colts
  2. Patriots
  3. Broncos
  4. Ravens
  5. Bills
  6. Dolphins

Ayala:

  1. Patriots
  2. Steelers
  3. Chiefs
  4. Colts
  5. Broncos
  6. Chargers

Booth:

  1. Patriots
  2. Steelers
  3. Colts
  4. Broncos
  5. Ravens
  6. Bengals

Statistical Predictions:

Who will lead the league in Takeaways:

(Majority)

Hornback: Philadelphia Eagles

Allen: Seattle Seahawks

Fort: New York Jets

Ashimi: Miami Dolphins

Carter: Seattle Seahawks

Ayala: Seattle Seahawks

Booth: Miami Dolphins

Fantasy-Football-Defense-Sleepers

Which teams will be Top 5 Defensively:

Hornback:

  1. Jets
  2. Seahawks
  3. Bills
  4. Texans
  5. Dolphins

Allen:

  1. Seahawks (with Kam)
  2. Bills
  3. Jets
  4. Ravens
  5. Dolphins

Fort:

  1. Jets
  2. Bills
  3. Texans
  4. Seahawks
  5. Dolphins

Ashimi:

  1. Jets
  2. Dolphins
  3. Bills
  4. Texans
  5. Seahawks

Carter:

  1. Bills
  2. Seahawks
  3. Texans
  4. Cardinals
  5. Rams

Ayala:

  1. Seahawks
  2. Jets
  3. Bills
  4. Browns
  5. Cardinals

Booth:

  1. Dolphins
  2. Texans
  3. Jets
  4. Bills
  5. Seahawks

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The Top 5 Scoring Teams will be:

Hornback:

  1. Colts
  2. Broncos
  3. Packers
  4. Falcons
  5. Cowboys

Allen:

  1. Colts
  2. Steelers
  3. Patriots
  4. Eagles
  5. Broncos

Fort:

  1. Eagles
  2. Packers
  3. Cowboys
  4. Broncos
  5. Colts

Ashimi:

  1. Colts
  2. Chiefs
  3. Cowboys
  4. Steelers
  5. Eagles

Carter:

  1. Colts
  2. Steelers
  3. Packers
  4. Cowboys
  5. Broncos

Ayala:

  1. Steelers
  2. Colts
  3. Patriots
  4. Cowboys
  5. Saints

Booth:

  1. Steelers
  2. Cowboys
  3. Colts
  4. Eagles
  5. Saints

The League leader in Passing Yards will be:

(Majority)andrew-luck

Hornback: Matt Ryan

Allen: Andrew Luck

Fort: Matthew Stafford

Ashimi: Drew Brees

Carter: Andrew Luck

Ayala: Andrew Luck

Booth: Ben Roethlisberger

The League leader in Passing TDs will be:

(Majority): Same As Above

Hornback: Andrew Luck

Allen: Andrew Luck

Fort: Andrew Luck

Ashimi: Andrew Luck

Carter: Aaron Rodgers

Ayala: Andrew Luck

Booth: Tony Romo

o-NFL-RUNNING-BACKS-facebook

Who will be the leading Rusher:

Hornback: Adrian Peterson

Allen: Adrian Peterson

Fort: Jamaal Charles or LeSean McCoy

Ashimi: Le’Veon Bell

Carter: Le’Veon Bell

Ayala: Adrian Peterson

Booth: Demarco Murray

ap_lynch071015

The League leader in Rushing TDs will be:

Hornback: Eddie Lacy

Allen: Jamaal Charles

Fort: Jamaal Charles

Ashimi: Marshawn Lynch

Carter: Marshawn Lynch

Ayala: Adrian Peterson

Booth: Le’Veon Bell

The League leader in Receiving Yards will be:

(Majority)

Hornback: Antonio Brown

Allen: Calvin Johnson

Fort: Antonio Brown

Ashimi: Julio Jones

Carter: Odell Beckham Jr.

Ayala: Antonio Brown

Booth: Antonio Brown

The League leader in TD Receptions will be:

(Majority)dez

Hornback: Odell Beckham

Allen: Dez Bryant

Fort: Dez Bryant

Ashimi: Odell Beckham Jr.

Carter: Dez Bryant

Ayala: Dez Bryant

Booth: Dez Bryant

Award Winners:

Coach of The Year Will Be:

(Majority)Chuck Pagano

Hornback: Chuck Pagano

Allen: Chuck Pagano

Fort: Jason Garrett

Ashimi: Chuck Pagano

Carter: Pete Carroll

Ayala: Rex Ryan

Booth: Joe Philbin

The Best Offensive Rookie:

(Majority) 150508-amari-cooper-2

Hornback: Ameer Abdullah

Allen: Amari Cooper

Fort: Jameis Winston

Ashimi: Nelson Agholor

Carter: Marcus Mariota

Ayala: Amari Cooper

Booth: Melvin Gordon

2015-NFL-Defensive-Rookie-of-the-Year-Odds-Pick

The Best Defensive Rookie:

Hornback: Leonard Williams

Allen: Shane Ray

Fort: Dante Fowler Jr. *****

Ashimi: Vic Beasley

Carter: Vic Beasley

Ayala: Leonard Williams

Booth: Randy Gregory

Super Bowl XLIX

Comeback Player of The Year:

Hornback: Adrian Peterson

Allen: Kiko Alonso

Fort: Carson Palmer

Ashimi: Adrian Peterson

Carter: Adrian Peterson 

Ayala: Adrian Peterson

Booth: Greg Hardy

Offensive Player of The Year:

(Majority)adrian-peterson-nine-yards-short

Hornback: Adrian Peterson

Allen: Andrew Luck

Fort: Aaron Rodgers

Ashimi: Andrew Luck

Carter: Andrew Luck

Ayala: Adrian Peterson

Booth: Jamaal Charles

Defensive Player of The Year:

(Majority)jjwatt_7ht8qmbw_79plb80t

Hornback: Luke Kuechly

Allen: J.J. Watt

Fort: Ndamukong Suh

Ashimi: J.J. Watt

Carter: J.J. Watt

Ayala: J.J. Watt

Booth: J.J. Watt

andrew-luck-12-of-the-indianapolis-colts

Who will be MVP:

Hornback: Andrew Luck

Allen: Andrew Luck

Fort: Tony Romo trolls

Ashimi: Andrew Luck

Carter: Andrew Luck (maybe Romo)

Ayala: Andrew Luck

Booth: Tony Romo

Super-Bowl-50-Logo

Preseason Superbowl Picks:

Hornback: Colts vs Cowboys untitled

Allen: Steelers vs SeahawksSeattleBlack

Fort: Chiefs vs Cowboysuntitled

Ashimi: Colts vs SeahawksIndianapolis_Colts2

Carter: Colts vs SeahawksSeattleBlack

Ayala: Colts vs SeahawksSeattleBlack

Booth: Patriots vs Cowboys untitled

Conclusion:

Please be sure to follow us on Twitter:

@Fortonsportsinc

Ryan Fort: @RyanDFort

Deshawn Hornback: @DeeSportsTalk

R’Mon Allen: @RmonAllen

Tyler Carter: @AyeMrCarter24

Hashim Ashimi: N/A

Jonathan Ayala: @JonathanAyalaa_

Jabbari Booth: @jabbari_b

And like our FortOnSports Facebook Page: (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fort-on-Sports/487848414596824)

Please leave comments below…. The writers will be responding!

Murray, Misleading, Money, Mistake

For the longest amount of time the Dallas Cowboys had been a mediocre team that showcased a multitude of deficiencies, year in and year out.

For a couple of years the problems came on the defensive side of the ball. While other years, it was poor O-line play, and lack of experience coaching wise. But even with those problems being at the forefront, there was still a problem that lingered and hindered them for a long period of time. That problem happened to be the lack of a run game.

During the 6-10 and countless 8-8 seasons, the ‘Boys went through a plethora of runningbacks. Guys like Marion Barber, Tashard Choice, Phillip Tanner, Felix Jones and Sammy Morris had opportunities to shoulder the load, but none of them seized control of the moment like DeMarco Murray did in 2011.

Drafted in the 3rd round with the 71st pick he wasn’t sought out to be the #1 back. He was looked at as guy, for some, who would be a decent backup to Felix Jones. Meant to ease his load as he was often injured. Little did we know Murray was going to end up being a capable back.

DeMarco Murray’s Career Stats (Rushing)

Year  Games  Attempts  Yards   Y.P.C    Fum   TDs

2011:   13          164         897         5.5        1          2

2012:   10          161         663        4.1          2         4

2013:   14          217        1,121       5.2         2          9

2014:   16          392        1,845     4.7           3         13

When Murray was coming onto the scene and taking over for Felix Jones, he started to generate some buzz and make a name for himself. He was a hard runner who had pretty good vision, but would leave yards on the field as he tended to follow his blockers. And was deemed as a guy prone to injury. Solid, but not a stud. (AP, Charles, McCoy, Forte, Foster, Lynch, Rice, Turner).

As the years went by and he progressed, there started to be talk in regards to feeding him more and let Romo take a backseat. That argument really didn’t have much spring to it until after 2013 when he played in 14 games. His most to that date.

With Jason Garrett’s coaching job on the line, Romo’s back issues, and Murray’s contract being up; the Boys decided to run Murray, much to his liking this past season to see what he could do and also because it was the smart thing to do. Murray responded by breaking Smith’s franchise record yard count with 1,845 yards, and helped Romo have a career year and led the Cowboys to a 12-4 record.

Good things happened when he was fed the ball. They maintained drives. Opened up opportunities for Dez and Witten. Kept the defense off the field. Controlled time of possession. Spectacular.

From the outside looking in Murray seemed/seems to be the sole reason for the Cowboys success when that isn’t the case at all.

Did he help? Sure, but it’s deeper than him.

nfl_g_murray_kh_1920x1080

From 2011-13 the Boy’s finished 8-8.

In 2011: the O-line wasn’t that good and ended up being the start of the rebuilding process as the Cowboys drafted left tackle Tyron Smith in the first round. (Murray also drafted). Injuries came all across the line plus Murray didn’t play in three of those games. This team was also one of the most heavily penalized teams. Garrett was the play caller.

In 2012: the defense ended up being historically bad. (3rd worst all time.) Rob Ryan was the defensive-coordinator, and despite his progression as a player, Murray showed a knack for getting injured. Star linebacker Sean Lee missed 10 games gutting the defense. Jason Garrett was the play caller. They were still heavily penalized. Rarely forced turnovers. However, Dez was officially established. And Murray missed 6 games.

In 2013: the Cowboys drafted center Travis Frederick in the first round aiding the line. Monte Kiffin became defensive coordinator changing the scheme of the defense. Sean Lee missed 5 games. Murray missed 2 games. And Tony Romo missed the final game of the season. The defense was a record setting defense and the worst in NFL history, ever. Bill Callahan was play caller. (Offensive coordinator as well.) Heavily penalized still.

In 2014: the Cowboys drafted guard Zack Martin. (All-Pro as a rookie). Murray played in all 16 games despite getting injured. Romo played in all 16 games. Rod Marinelli became defensive coordinator. Scott Linehan became the offensive coordinator as well as play caller. Callahan was moved to offensive line coach. The defense was slightly on par with being average. Sean Lee missed the full season. This team wasn’t penalized as much as previous years, and the defense forced the 2nd most turnovers in the league.

As I stated before, Murray was a key cog in the Cowboys success but he wasn’t the main reason.

Guys like Witten, Romo, and Dez made the game easier for him as he did for them. All of those guys were already proven stars while Murray was still on the cusp.

Having Murray did hide the defense some; but how much of it was really him when the defense was second behind Houston in forcing turnovers?

His leadership on the field was nice too, but does that out do Rolondo McClain’s and Justin Durant’s leadership on the other side of the ball? Oh wait, what about Dez being vocal and rallying guys hyping them up? Was that just Murray too?

I’m guessing Marinelli making the most of what little talent he had defensively was more about Murray too.

Football is the greatest team sport there is. Each man HAS to do their job for the other to succeed. Collective effort bottom line.

With all of that being said DeMarco Murray did deserve to be paid. Just not by the Cowboys.

Dallas couldn’t have afforded him and still have money to make some moves on the defensive side of the ball. Throw in the facts that the o-line is elite, Murray is prone to injury and that he started to slow down at the end of the season and the decision is a no brainier.

Running-backs can easily be replaced. You can have a two back tandem, a three headed monster, or just one stud and have a nice amount of production. Especially with a good offensive line.

With this upcoming draft being RB heavy, the Dallas Cowboys can easily find a replacement for DeMarco at a CHEAPER cost for four more years. Simple and smart. There will be money to add new players as well as feed your own.

The Bengals have a two headed monster. The Bills had a two headed monster. The Ravens found a quick Ray Rice replacement in Forsett….

The Boys are playing it smart right now, which is good. They know what they are doing.

Recent history shows they have a plan…

edf491403c00c31f58f20cbfd7c98d1d

Food For Thought:

Backup RB Joesph Randle

2013: 13 Games 54 Attempts 164 yards 3 YPC 2TD

2014: 16 Games 51 Attempts 343 yards 6.7 YPC 3TDs

Was it really Murray making the o-line or did the o-line make RBs in general better?

Only time will tell.

Follow on

Twitter: @FortonsportsInc @RyanDfort

2015 Wildcard Preview and Prediction

After months and weeks of anticipation we’ve finally arrived to the playoffs where we have a clear cut view on who the 12 teams competing for the Superbowl are.

Within those 12 teams you have the:

(1) 12-4 NE Patriots

(2) 12-4 DEN Broncos

(3) 11-5 PIT Steelers

(4) 11-5 IND Colts

(5) 10-5-1 CIN Bengals

(6) 10-6 BAL Ravens representing the AFC

and the

(1) 12-4 SEA Seahawks

(2) 12-4 GB Packers

(3) 12-4 DAL Cowboys

(4) 7-8-1 CAR Panthers

(5) 11-5 ARI Cardinals

(6) 11-5 DET Lions representing the NFC.

Seattle, New England, Denver and Green Bay all get the week off (Top 2 teams in each conference) so that leaves us with eight teams playing this weekend.

Saturday 4:20 PM ET

Cards  cam

(5) Arizona Cardinals vs (4) Carolina Panthers 

Throughout the season both teams suffered a ton of injuries. Carolina’s injury woe wasn’t as severe as the Cardinals though. Arizona lost key players on the defensive line, in the secondary and in the line-backing core. On the offensive side of the ball the Cards lost starting quarterback Carson Palmer and starting running-back Andre Ellington. Hall of Fame bound receiver Larry Fitzgerald hasn’t been as productive either because of the injuries he’s been battling. Because of the offensive injuries Arizona has been having a tough time generating points.

This season Carolina has been in a funk just like it’s fellow NFC South counterparts. After having a stellar year last season Cam Newton has failed to deliver the same type of success due to the lack of weapons he has in his current arsenal. Despite injuries (distractions Hardy) to the defense and Cam having a somewhat down year the Panthers still managed to win their awful division. Rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin has shown that he can be a solid weapon and running back Johnathan Stewart has returned to a solid form, for now. They also have tight-end Greg Olsen playing at a high level.

Coming into this game the Cards have lost 4 of their last 6 games and managed to score over 17pts one time. They are on their 3rd-string quarterback and rank 13th in stopping the run and 29th in defending the pass. The Panthers are rolling right now having gone 4-0 in December. They rank 7th in rushing the football and 12th in passing. With Arizona pretty much being a team that relies on the defense to score Carolina should be able to dictate the flow of the game as long as Cam and co. don’t turn it over. The Panthers should win 16-9 with Cam getting playoff win #1.

Saturday 8:15 PM ET

ravens steelas

(6) Baltimore Ravens vs (3) Pittsburgh Steelers

The Ravens and Steelers both faced questions going into the season. The Steelers dealt with questions surrounding the defense as well as their running game. The Ravens had to deal with the never ending, traumatizing Ray Rice debacle. With Rice gone there was a void that needed to be filled in order for Baltimore to take the next step. Journeyman running-back, Justin Forsett, stepped into the starting role and complemented Joe Flacco to near perfection. With the addition of Steve Smith SR. and the arrival of Justin Forsett the Ravens offensive dynamic changed.

The Steelers at the beginning of the season were a model of inconsistency. Midway through the season that started to change. Led by the best receiver in football, Antonio Brown and the 2nd best running-back in Le’Veon Bell along with Ben Rothlisberger the Pittsburgh Steelers became a fun, yet rather scary team to watch. They would dominate on the ground as well as kill teams in the air. They went undefeated in December and are on a roll.

Heading into this match-up these division rivals split the season series with the home team winning each game. The Steelers are 4-1 since their Bye while the Ravens are 4-2. In this specific game the Steelers will be without Bell who was the 2nd leading rusher and will also have a limited Troy Polamalu in the secondary. Baltimore on the other hand is healthier and they’ll be getting star defensive tackle Haloti Ngata back to help man the middle. With Bell being out the onus falls on the shoulders of Big Ben. The Steerlers are 2nd in passing while the Ravens are 23rd in passing yards allowed. Big Ben could very well win this game but being one-dimensional could end up costing them. The Steelers will hand Joe Flacco his 1st Wilcard loss. Big Ben is is rolling right now and has more than enough offensive weapons in the passing game to beat Baltimore. Steelers win 34-27

Sunday 1:05 PM ET

Bengals colts trip

(5) Cincinnati Bengals vs (4) Indianapolis Colts

These were two teams that people thought would take the next step, especially the Colts. Andrew Luck was basically enshrined into the Hall Of The Fame without doing anything. Nevertheless the Colts won their porous division with little to no competition. En route to going 11-5 they got dominated by the likes of Pittsburgh, Dallas, Denver and New England. They went 4-5 against teams that are .500 and 2-4 against playoff teams. No resemblance of a running game and having only one stud receiver (TY Hilton) hurts them.

The Bengals started off the season on FIRE. After a few weeks they resembled a Superbowl team but quickly faltered after their Bye week. As of late they’ve been battling injuries that have plagued A.J. Green making the offense somewhat stagnant. Depending on the day Cincy can kill you with an aerial attack led by the likes Andy Dalton with Mouhammed Sanu and Green at his helm. Or they could gash you up on the ground with Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard. You just never know with them.

Going into Sunday’s game the Colts have won 5 of their last 6. They are the best passing team in football but are top 3 when it comes to turning the football over (Andrew Luck). The Bengals have been solid as of late but got shut out earlier in the year by the Colts, losing 27-0. This game will more than likely not feature AJ Green. Dalton doesn’t have a playoff win nor does head coach Marvin Lewis. Unless Cincy runs the ball over 40 times, AJ Green suits up or TY Hilton isn’t 100% I don’t see the Bengals misfortunes coming to an end. Colts win 45-13

Sunday 4:40 PM ET

lions Triplets

(6) Detroit Lions vs (3) Dallas Cowboys

Often sought out as the most talented teams in the NFC, the Lions and Cowboys always seemed to disappoint until this year. Going into the season many predicted this would be Lion’s quarterback Mathew Stafford’s break out year. They changed coaches and gave Stafford more help by bringing in Ex-Seahawks wide receiver, Golden Tate, to complement Megatron. The Lion’s exceeded a few expectations because of how they managed to win games without Megatron. Golden Tate had a career year and the Lion’s defense was arguably the best in the league.

The Cowboys have exceeded everyone’s expectations excluding their own. They’ve discovered a new identity as I stated here (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/the-new-dallas-cowboys/) and have improved defensively. They boast arguably the best quarterback of the season in one Tony Romo, the leading rusher in football, Demarco Murray and wide-receiver touchdown leader Dez Bryant. The Cowboys also own the best offensive line in football. The game is won in the trenches and the Cowboys dominate in that aspect.

Ever since the home loss to Philly, the Cowboys have been dominant. They’ve scored 40+ points in 3 of their last 4 games (38 in one game) and are rolling on all cylinders. Dallas also went 4-0 in December. Detroit won 4 of their last 5 and have been very stout defensively. Defensive tackles N.Suh (monster) and Nick Fairley should be good to go giving the defense a boost. The Boys are the 2nd best team running the ball while Detroit is #1 in stopping it. Flipping the script, the Lions are 6th when it comes to turning over the ball and the Cowboys are 2nd in forcing turnovers. The Cowboys will win 27-14.  Stafford just isn’t efficient enough to win and is prone to turn it over multiple times resulting in Dallas getting easy scoring opportunities.

Each game this weekend is compelling and should be competitive.

Comment below with who you think will win each game.

Follow on Twitter @RyanDFort & @FortonsportsInc

In Position To Succeed

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Coming into the season no one had the Cowboys making the playoffs. After the first week of play people were quick to anoint them as the worst team in Football. (I’m looking at y’all Mike Ditka, Ray Lewis, Chris Carter, Keshawn Johnson etc…)

Against the 49ers in game one of the season the Cowboys did look bad, but there were a lot of factors that played a role in their putrid performance.

Defensive tackle Henry Melton wasn’t playing every down (he still isn’t but it has increased), defensive end Anthony Spencer wasn’t active, cornerback Orlando Scandrick was suspended, Rookie defensive end Demarcus Lawrence was inactive and more importantly quarterback Tony Romo wasn’t quite ready for game action.

As a result they got smashed and people were quick to press the panic button.

If you paid close attention to that game you would’ve seen a lot of things. For instance, you would’ve noticed how they were dominating the line of scrimmage offensively; how they were effectively running the football; how they controlled the tempo of the game despite turning the ball over and how they minimized giving up the huge plays that plagued them last year defensively.

Add all of that in along with that fact that guys were going to be coming back from injury and you had a reason to feel optimistic about how good this team could be.

I penciled that debacle against San Francisco in as a wakeup call for the offense. And stated that from that point forward everyone was going to have a tough time stopping the Cowboys’ offense. Seems to be right don’t ya think?

The Cowboys followed the 9ers loss with a 28-17 win over the Titans, a 34-31 come from behind win over the Rams, a 38-17 rout over the Saints and a 20-17 overtime victory over the Texans. 

After winning four  straight, with Romo getting healthier and various defensive guys coming back, people still doubted.

Even at 4-1 people were still on the fences about whether or not this team could play. Week six against the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle was supposed to be the game that brought the Cowboys back down to reality. Instead it woke up the whole globe.

In a game that many thought was impossible to win the Dallas Cowboys went in and dominated the Seahawks in every aspect of the game. Seattle couldn’t stop Murray and Romo tore apart the defense when he needed to.

The defense contained Lynch to an extent and dared Wilson to beat them with his arm. The Cowboys won that game 30-23 in what didn’t appear to be as close as the scoreboard may allude one to believe.

After that shocking victory the Cowboys made believers out of a lot of people.

Analysts were calling them the team to beat. People were penciling them in for the Superbowl. And fans were in a frenzy. But even with that a few people were still a bit leery. Some experts wanted to see them win the next game to see if they could continue playing well after pulling off an upset.
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Following the win over the Seahawks the Cowboys defeated the Giants 31-21. That win sat the Cowboys atop the league with a 6-1 record exceeding everyone’s expectations including my own. (http://fortonsports.com/2014/08/29/reason-to-believe/)

Like all streaks the Cowboys’ 6-game ride came to an end. They lost on MNF to the Washington Redskins who had Colt McCoy playing QB 20-17.

Romo injured his back that game and the coaches made a poor decision, which to some people came to be the fault in why the Boys lost. Win or lose, Tony Romo was injured and things didn’t look good going forward.

The next game on the schedule was against the Arizona Cardinals where Brandon Weeden had to start at QB.

The Cowboys competed with the Cardinals for two and half quarters until finally giving in. Weeden couldn’t make the appropriate throws and Murray wasn’t getting much traction on the ground.

After playing inspired ball at first the defense started to fold as they saw the offense failing to convert their stops into scores. The Cowboys fell to the Cardinals 28-17. Thus embarking them on a two game losing skid.

Losers of two straight and with an injured Romo many thought the Cowboys were done. Everyone but the Cowboys that is….

They flew to London to play a game against the Jaguars. Feeling very good about their chances.

Some analysts, on the other hand said they would falter with or without Romo, while others stated they’d win the game regardless of who played QB.

In what was deemed as a “Must Win” game Tony Romo came back from injury and led the Dallas Cowboys to a 31-17 victory over the Jags. (The game was pretty much won at halftime.) The Cowboys were then 7-3 heading into their bye-week with time to rest, heal and regroup.
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Fast-forward to now and here they are sitting at 7-3 tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for the division lead.

As cliche as it might sound the Cowboys once again control their own fate.

Philly is dealing with a QB crisis with Foles being out and Sanchez in. The Giants are bad and the Redskins are god awful. With that being said it’s their division to lose.

They play the Giants (away) next. Followed by a Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Eagles. After that they play the Bears (away) in a Thursday night matchup. The Eagles (away), Colts (home) and Redskins (away) round out the rest of the schedule. (Notice how the games are spaced apart. Plenty of time to rest.)

The four games on the road may sound alarming, but the Cowboys are currently the only team undefeated on the road to this point. And if we’re being honest three of those games are against teams who aren’t .500.

And now that they’re no longer that prolific offense that tries to put up points and rely heavily on Romo’s arm , this team has a chance to change some of the December misfortunes that have hampered this team as of late.

With their physical, smash-mouth style of play the Cowboys should be able to win alot those games that should be played in cold weather.

With Romo getting healthier, Murray eager to close out the season, Dez becoming a prominent force, and the defense picking up it’s play as well as getting healthier this team should be ready to go.

The image changing starts now.

Is the schedule favorable to them? Yes. But that doesn’t/won’t mean anything if they don’t go out and seize it.

They have a chance to do something that hasn’t been done in years and that’s getting to the playoffs. We can talk about what they can do once they make it there but until then it should still be the one game at a time approach.

Day by day. Week by week. No looking ahead. If the Cowboys can follow this motto faithfully they’ll achieve their goal.

Baby steps first. And then you’ll be able to stride and run.
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NFC East Evaluation

j-rard

With about a third of the season over with the sample size to evaluate teams is legit. It’s now time to a look at the NFC East to see how things are shaping up.

Cowboys:

After the last two losses to the Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals we saw that Romo is more valuable than we thought. Even with concerns on his back vs the Jaguars he looked like the old Romo throwing for over 250 yards and 3 TD’s. Dez Bryant was lost the last two games but regained his swagger in London with over 6 catches and over 150 yards and a TD. There’s no need to worry about the O-line either as Murray had his 9th 100 yard game this season and Randle had a huge 40 yard TD. The only concerning factor is the defense. I still don’t trust them. They need to get more pressure on the QB and they need to cover better. But it’s hard to argue the 7-3 record for “Dem Boys”. I’m still sticking with my prediction of a 11-5 record and a NFC East tittle. You have to applaud the job Jerry Jones has down with making this team able to compete.

Eagles:

The high flying Eagles are one of the most explosive offenses. With the departure of DeSean Jackson you would think that the offense would slow down, but it hasn’t. At first the Eagles were winning off of good defense and special teams while Lesean McCoy wasn’t shady and Nick Foles wasn’t producing like he was last year. But thank god for the pick up of Darren Sproles who’s putting up big numbers. Breaking the all time scrimmage yards record back in 2011 with the Saints he has exploded with the Eagles with rushing TD’s receiving TD’s and kick and punt returns. He’s the definition of an athlete. As the season concludes the Eagles Cowboys games will decide the winner of the NFC East even though I feel that both the Eagles and Cowboys will make the playoffs. Now that Foles is out indefinitely for the season the next man up, Mark Sanchez will lead the Eagles to the Playoffs

Giants:
There isn’t much to say about a 3-6 team but the Giants have a lot of young superstars in the making. Leading these stars are Odell Beckham Jr. The rookie star from LSU missed a couple games but has came back with 18 catches 262 yards and 3 TD. The season is pretty much over for the Giants but the future is bright. They drafted a good rookie running back in Andre Williams from Boston college and have drafted well in the secondary and linebacking core. If Jason Pierre-Paul can get back to his dominant early years I then believe the defense will become one of the leagues best defenses. But until then this team won’t go anywhere.

Redskins:
With the Redskins not much is positive. Even with the impressive victory in Dallas nothing much from this team has improved or changed this year. They have started three QB’s this season RG3, Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins which has lead to a 3-5 record. The O-line hasn’t been able to protect the QB, the running lanes for Alfred Morris has been none existent and the defense hasn’t been able to stop anyone. The best thing they have is the new addition of DeSean Jackson who has over 40 catches 700 yards and 4 TD’s. With the return of RG3 we can finally see him in the new system by Jay Gruden. To improve the Redskins need to keep RG3 healthy. He seems to have lost his confidence after that amazing rookie campaign. If they can get him playing like the offensive rookie again you’ll see everyone around him play to their potential. One example would be Alfred Morris. When RG3 and Alfred Morris came in the league together they had combined for more than 2100 rushing yards as they lead there team to a NFC east tittle. If those two can click then the Redskins will be right back to that 2011 form.

The NFC East always comes down to the final week . Even though I feel like two teams will make it to the Playoffs I’m still sticking with my prediction that the Cowboys will win the NFC East and the Eagles will get in as a Wildcard.

Reason To Believe?

yuh

No Ware, no Austin, no Lee, no Hatcher, no Ratliff and no sign of improvement. Looking at the schedule the Cowboys would be lucky to win six games in most eyes, while others will settle down and say they’ll make it to eight wins. The schedule is hard. Romo is one major hit from being out and the defense is still disgraceful. Despite all of that there is still a reason to believe. Am I saying they could make a run a the Superbowl, HELL NO. But what I am saying is that they could at least be formidable.

    Here in the offseason the Cowboys did a few good things.

  •    Improved the O-Line
  •    Brought in a new play caller
  •   Switched Defensive coordinators
  •   Got younger
  •   Didn’t throw money at anyone
  •  Made the right football decisions
  • Committed to Romo (Meaning no QB distractions or tanking)

 Letting go of Ware was smart. His play didn’t match his pay over the past few years and didn’t seem to be getting any better. Hatcher was already in his 30’s and you don’t overpay age, so letting him go was ideal as well. Cutting Austin was a smart decision too, because he was killing the cap and couldn’t stay healthy. In the end drafting an offensive lineman instead of Manziel was the smartest thing that was done. (This could be argued at a different time.)

By bulking up the O-line the Cowboys have assured three to four things. Romo will be protected, he’ll be more accurate, they’ll run the ball more and the offense will be much better. New play caller Scott Linehan will help the offense a lot more as well and expand the games of many players as well as the dynamic of the playbook which was often viewed as too simplistic.

With Linehan on board the Cowboys will be able to utilize Dez Bryant, Escobar and Dunbar in ways that weren’t apprehendable before. Dez will be moving/lining up all over the place in ways that Calvin Johnson did. Dunbar will be used in screen plays like Reggie Bush and Escobar will become a big redzone threat. Williams will only improve and Witten will still be there in bail out time. The O-line now has three First Rd. picks on board and should be to protect Romo and create holes for Murray. Most believe this O-line will blossom into a top three or five group which could create a lot of problems for opposing defenses.

There have also been a lot of talk and hype from the Cowboys camp as well. Romo has been saying he’s better than ever and that his best years are in front of him. Dez has been talking about how high of ceiling he has and how he’s ready to take the next step. Murray also said he’s ready to carry the load. Even Jerry Jones came out and talked about how confident he is in this offense. All of the talk has to equate to something right?

After glossing over the offense and how there’s hype surrounding it I forgot to mention cornerback Brandon Carr and the comments he made during the off-season. Carr came out and said it’s basically time for him to come out and dominate the league. Let that sink for a second… Dominate the league he says. DOMINTAE THE LEAGUE. The same guy who allowed Calvin Johnson to break a single game record and who got burnt by damn near every receiver has the audacity to come out and say it’s time for him to dominate the league, wow. Just wow. But in all honesty I can’t blame him for those comments.

Carr needs to dominate every receiver that steps opposite of him if the Cowboys want to improve defensively. Carr needs to become one of, if not the vocal leader of the Cowboy’s defensive unit now that Ware is gone and Sean Lee is out for the season. (Tragic I know.) The Cowboys are paying Carr like a top notch and corner it’s now time that he plays like it. Same could be said for Morris Claiborne as well; its now time for him to play to his potential and stay healthy as well. J.J. Wilcox is another guy in the secondary who should have an impact as well. Last season personal issues and injuries kept him from being consistently good.  If those three guys along with Scandrick and Church perform like we know they can the secondary could be a strong point.

As far as the linebacker and D-line go the Cowboys have way too many question marks. They could be a better group than last season but who knows. Rookie DE, Demarcus Lawrence, is already out for a portion of the season; former Pro Bowl DT, Henry Melton, is just coming back from injury; Anthony Spencer is still a huge IF and Amobi Okoye is still too far off gauge where he’s at. With that being said the only sure thing on the D-line is George Selvie who led the team in sacks this past season. Sure, the Cowboys have a lot of other defensive line on board but none of them are guaranteed to have the same impact on the game as some of the guys mentioned above would. Nevertheless, the D-Line could prove to be a strong point as the season progresses but as of now its deemed as putrid.

Last but not least, well maybe least, we have the linebacker core. When Sean Lee went down so did this group. Guys like Bruce Carter and Justin Durant just aren’t consistent enough to be viewed as good or respectable. This is just a sorry group of linebackers point blank period. But there could be a bright spot. Twice retired linebacker Rolando McClain could prove to be a huge pickup. He was star a few years back in college with Alabama and was still nice upon joining the league as a top pick. He has tremendous upside and could help this defense significantly. ( Might be a nice guy to pair Lee with in the future as well.) Having hit rock bottom last year as a defense, the Cowboys can only improve. It may not be much better, but an improvement is still positive and could bold well.

Looking at the schedule many people thought it would be hard for the Cowboys to reach six wins. Hell someone came out and said they’d go 2-14. I don’t understand why many presume the schedule is extremely hard. Yes the Cowboys play the NFC West and AFC South along with the Bears and Saints I get it but if you really look at it it’s not as hard as last years. (This years schedule http://espn.go.com/nfl/team/schedule/_/name/dal/dallas-cowboys)

 

The 49ers look as vulnerable as ever. Outside of the Colts no one in the AFC South can do any type of damage. The Rams lost Bradford for the year and now they’re in a frenzy. No one in the NFC East really improved outside of Washington, but the question on if RG3 is going to be healthy still remains. In all honesty outside of the Saints, Seahawks, Bears, Colts and maybe the Cardinals no one really jumps out. At best I can see them losing six games. Worst case scenario I see them losing eight. ( I’ll take 9-7 go ahead and chalk it up as my prediction baring injury to Romo.)

Why do I feel so strongly about the Cowboys? This is why.

Last year the Cowboys finished:

  • 14th in Passing
  • 24th in Rushing
  • 16th in Total Offense
  • 27th in stopping the run
  •  30th in stopping the pass
  • 5th in scoring
  • 32nd in Total Defense (worst ever)
  • Finished with a record of 8-8
  • Went 5-1 in division play with Romo missing the sole game they lost. 

Eight and eight with the worst defense in NFL history and the Cowboys still managed to own their division. Incredible. Why can’t they replicate that again this year with a more dynamic offense and slightly improved defense?

After bottoming out at a league low defensively I don’t see any reason on why the Cowboys can’t improve on that end. . If the defense can stay healthy, be resilient, show toughness and play with an edge they could be formidable. Improving the O-line and changing play callers plus expanding the playbook can only enhance the offense and make them more dynamic. If the offense can stick to the run and Murray does his job the Cowboys could very be put in position to scare a few people. It’s just a matter of going out and doing it. The Cowboys have the guys and enough of the power to do so. However the real question is, do they have the mindset or the will to do it? Time and time again they showed us they didn’t but maybe things have changed this time around.

romo-dez

 

Ryan Fort

FMOT: RyanDFort