Tag Archives: Henry Melton

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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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