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Cowboys News and Notes, 8/5/10: Marcus Spears Injures MCL

The injury would keep him out 4-6 weeks.  Either way, he won’t be playing in this weekend’s Hall of Fame game.  Spears haters may rejoice, but the Cowboys are dropping like flies on the defensive line.   Stephen Bowen should start in his place.  The battle for playing time at defensive end is heating up.

The Cowboys have been doing a lot of live work this preseason, which may or may not explain the rash of injuries.  Luckily, no one has been lost for a significant amount of time, i.e. the entire season.

I guess we can still call him “The Playmaker.”

Charles Haley on Training Camp Report

A lot of people are uneasy about this, but there isn’t much about which to get worked up over.  Aikman loves the Cowboys.  It isn’t like he is going to provide Kolb with any specific tips on how to beat his former team.

Two of the games–this weekend’s against the Bengals and August 28 in Houston–are on national television.  The rest you can catch on NFL Network within 24 hours of game time.

The IUP product is extremely intelligent and has obviously been paying attention during meetings.  He also showed incredible burst on his first touch of training camp, a kick return.  ‘Kwasi has a good shot to be the primary kick returner by Week One.

  • The Cowboys’ offensive linemen received haircuts today.

Photos are below.


Cowboys News and Notes: 7/19/10 (Emmitt Smith Hall of Fame Induction)

We aren’t sure who in particular created this list, but wow.  Bob Lilly, Michael Irvin, Roger Staubach, and Tom Landry ranked ahead of Emmitt.

Part-time Dallas Cowboys Times correspondent Dave Kraft asked Emmitt a few questions, including about his current workout plan.  For those interested, Emmitt said, “I just started to get into P90X.”

This is earlier than normal for the ‘Boys due to their extra preseason game (and resulting extra week of training camp).  We previously listed five reasons Bryant won’t hold out.

“AOA” is a small school prospect (Indiana of Pennsylvania) who we have had the privilege of watching play live a few times.  He is an incredible return man who will start out at free safety in Dallas.

We’ll have a similar list out shortly.  The field goal kicking position heads their list and will be quite high on ours as well.

If a team is truly only as good as its weakest link, then overpaying for elite players (and thus being forced to have numerous minimum salary players) is a poor strategy.  Shockingly, Dallas has just two players who are paid in the top 10 at their position.

Watkins lists safety Barry Church, defensive end Marcus Dixon, safety Michael Hamlin, and wide receiver Jesse Holley as players to watch.  We are currently projecting the first three players to make the 53-man roster.


Cowboys News and Notes 7/2/10: Will Dez Bryant Hold Out?

We’d actually reverse this.  While there is certainly a lot of confidence in Free and Ball, the Cowboys must at least be somewhat worried about whether the two players’ inexperience will come back to bite them.  On the flip side, the effect of Barber’s potential decline is weakened by the presence of Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, i.e. Barber’s play matters less than that of Free or Ball.  Further, while kicker is a very important position, the variance among kickers from season to season makes Buehler’s presence less risky.

We’d have to disagree.  Bryant will likely be absent for the first few practices of training camp, but that is fairly standard with the Cowboys’ first-rounders.  Having already been scrutinized a great deal, Bryant (and the Cowboys) will probably do everything possible to avoid the stress and bad press of a long holdout.  And as if you haven’t watched enough videos of Bryant, here is another.

Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins, and Orlando Scandrick are locks.  We recently projected Bryan McCann to be the fourth guy (click here for our roster projections), switching from Cletis Gordon.  Gordon offers kick return ability, but those duties may now belong to rookies Dez Bryant and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah.  Either way, the presence of Alan Ball and AOA makes us believe Dallas will only retain four cornerbacks.

Great Story on Robert Brewster

Orlando Scandrick is a talented nickel cornerback, but he was picked on a bit last season.  We gave him a “C” overall grade but we are anticipating a bounce-back year from him.  This, combined with the coverage ability of Alan Ball, means the defense’s numbers against four and five-receiver sets should improve a bit in 2010.

If Ball can improve upon his poor missed tackle percentage, he will do well enough in coverage to be an upgrade over Ken Hamlin.

Some teams use specific words for particular routes or route combinations.


Cowboys News and Notes, 6/22/10: Are Cowboys Uncertain About Doug Free?

We reported before the Cowboys wouldn’t give Buehler much competition, but this is a huge vote of confidence for him as Hughes was his only semi-legitimate competition on the roster.  Dallas clearly wants to boost Buehler’s confidence, and why not?  History has shown kickers tends to be rather fluky (although that doesn’t negate the importance of a kicker’s performance to his team’s win total).

ESPN’s Matt Mosley claims the Eagles, Giants, and Redskins all believe Alex Barron will win the left tackle job.  While we don’t think that is necessarily the case, Free is certainly a question mark for Dallas.  However, the combination of Free and Barron should be enough to produce (at least) as much as Flozell Adams did last season (and is one of the primary reasons we believe the team’s “interest” in Jammal Brown was a bluff).  We gave Adams a “C-” overall grade for his 2009 play, Free a “B-,” and Barron a “C+.”

We couldn’t disagree more (although in fairness, we can’t totally disagree with “50 percent blocker” because we have no idea what it means).  The offense averaged 5.6 yards-per-carry with Anderson in the game last season.  That is particularly impressive when you consider defenses would almost never be in a nickel package with Anderson in the game.  Thus, he was blocking the big boys.  We are confident he will be on the roster in 2010.

Everyone is interested in watching Alan Ball perform at free safety, but we think he’ll be fine (as long as he isn’t asked to do too much tackling).  He will be an above-average cover guy.  More interesting to us is the play of Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, a player we believe has a ton of upside.

This will change by 2010.  Marcus Spears will likely be playing for another team, Igor Olshansky may or may not still be a starter, and Jay Ratliff could be a much, much richer man.  Still, their play is a major reason for the defense’s success.  Check out our 2009 defensive line grades.

Fantasy football is much like the stock market–success comes through maximized value and limited downside. The majority of the information which we use to formulate our rankings comes through film study, statistical analyses, and a unique application of both game theory and risk management.

Sample Fantasy Football Articles

The Myth of Overworked Running Backs

Is it Time to Draft a Quarterback Early?

Learn How to Predict Running Backs’ Yards-Per-Carry


Cowboys News and Notes: 6/17/10 (Ken Hamlin Signs, More on Austin/Kardashian)

Hamlin will have to again prove his worth in an effort to land one last big payday.  Hamlin was in a similar situation during his first season with Dallas and played quite well.  He obviously had a down year in 2009, but we still maintain he played better than most people (or everyone) is giving him credit.  We gave him a “B-” overall grade, including an “A-” in run support.  He missed tackles at about one-half the rate of Gerald Sensabaugh and one-third that of Alan Ball, and he also received the highest Dallas Cowboys Times Pass Defense Rating.

As we reported earlier, however, Cowboys fans need not yet worry.  A source very, very close to Austin tells us that while the two have spent time together, they are no more than friends at this point.  Too bad–Kardashian is about the only new “tight end” we’d like to see in Dallas.  Note: That joke is 100% stolen from Amber Leigh.

“I like what’s happening with Buehler,” Jones said. “I like the direction. Is that something I don’t think about? It is something I think about, but I like the way it’s going.”  Buehler led the NFL in touchbacks last season.  His accuracy is essential to the Cowboys in 2010.  We’ve already discussed the extreme importance of having an accurate field goal kicker.

Andre Gurode spends some time with the kids

OLB Victor Butler showed he has great potential last season (at least as a pass-rusher), but Williams probably has the better all-around skill set.  He has been outstanding in offseason workouts thus far.  We think he will ultimately receive more snaps than Butler in 2010, particularly on running downs.

What we learned from this defense is. . .there is so much talent that if they can find a way to force more turnovers, the Cowboys are going to be extremely difficult to beat.  Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett gets a lot of flack for the offense’s poor yards-to-points ratio (we admit a lot of it comes from us), but the number one way to improve that number is for the defense to provide the offense with a short field.

Don’t forget to visit CowboysCorral.com if you live out of town and would like to book a Cowboys vacation package.


Cowboys News and Notes: 6/14/10 (Power Rankings, Anthony Spencer)

Bennett has himself been accused of sometimes acting childish, although he appears to be headed in the right direction now.  He has drawn rave reviews during OTAs and mini-camp.  There aren’t many balls to go around, but we expect Bennett to have a much more productive 2010 season.

They counted 30 no-huddle plays last season, although we tallied just 28.  Of those plays, just two were runs (for six yards).  The 26 passes went for 151 yards (only 5.81 yards-per-attempt).  We also noticed that 25 of the 28 plays were out of Shotgun.  Ultimately, the Cowboys are probably better served sticking to their normal offense.

We will put out our own Power Rankings in the near future, but this is as high as we have seen Dallas.  It sure is a slap in the face to New Orleans to have them ranked No. 8 after winning it all.

We actually agree with just about everything Archer wrote, outside of perhaps Sean Lee being the nickel linebacker and the confidence in Alan Ball/Doug Free.  While we think both Ball and Lee have what it takes to succeed, the smart money is on at least one of them playing more poorly than expected.

Cowboys OTA Wrap-Up

  • Jerry Jones’ biggest concern for the 2010 season?  The schedule.

We’d have to agree, although we see the middle part of the schedule as the most difficult (as opposed to others’ thinking it is the end).  The Cowboys have five very difficult games out of a possible six from Week 9 to Week 14 (at Green Bay, at New York Giants, Detroit, New Orleans, @Indianapolis, and Philadelphia).

According to our numbers, Spencer racked up 28 more tackles as DeMarcus Ware and 1.77 times the hits-per-rush in 2009.  It is scary to think he will improve this season, but he will.  You can expect his sack total and coverage skills to get better in 2010.

We agree with the positives, but there are a couple of “suspect” items with which we disagree.  First, the running back situation should be fine.  Yes, there are injury concerns there, but the depth and versatility at the position makes it a strong spot for Dallas.  Second, we are rather confident about the Cowboys’ fourth cornerback.  Let’s not forget that whoever that player turns out to be is probably listed at free safety right now (either Alan Ball or Akwasi Owusu-Ansah).

This scares us a bit, as the last time expectations rose this high, Dallas exited the playoffs in the first round.  Nonetheless, this team is a completely different one–an emotionally stronger one.


Cowboys News and Notes: 6/2/10 (Best Cowboys’ All-Time Draft Classes)

A few months ago, we also ranked the Cowboys’ all-time best draft classes (top 10).  We both agree that the 1964 class (which ESPN accidentally labeled as “1970”) is one of the best ever, for any team.  We also (surprise, surprise) agree on the next two classes–the 1989 group led by Troy Aikman, and Randy White’s ’75 class.  Their other two classes–1992, and 2005–we have as unranked and 5th, respectively.  Four of five identical–did ESPN perhaps check out our list? Hmmmmm.

With Orlando Scandrick out with a broken finger, Ball has been forced to cover slot receivers.  While this could be a wake-up call to the Cowboys concerning their cornerback depth, it may also give Michael Hamlin some much-needed extra reps at free safety.  Ball can’t be happy about that.

We love the Cowboys’ three-back approach.  You should see as much of an even split this season as ever.  While we advocate Felix Jones receiving the most touches, there is a solid chance you could see a 40/35/25 split this season.

Marion Barber’s Workload

We actually have a formational breakdown coming soon.  It is obvious that offensive coordinator Jason Garrett loves to run out of specific types of formations–generally with a fullback or two tight ends on the field.  The offense could undoubtedly benefit from running out of more spread looks in 2010, particularly with Jones figuring to see more touches.

He also correctly labels guard Kyle Kosier as underrated, so one out of two isn’t bad.  Still, we don’t see how Gurode could be called overrated.  According to our film study, Gurode yielded just three sacks, four hits, and 16 pressures all season.  He did commit too many penalties (nine), but we still provided him with a 91.0 (A-) overall grade.

Running backs coach Skip Peete said Barber looks quicker than ever.  We like the move, as long as Barber maintains (or regains) his power.


Cowboys News and Notes: Schedule Release, Sensabaugh Returns

We already took a look at the Cowboys’ 2010 opponents and made some schedule predictions.  Among them: we think the Cowboys will travel to New York to face the Giants on opening day, will play the Bears on Thanksgiving, and will see the Vikings and Saints in prime-time.

Demarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Marion Barber, Chris Canty, and Marcus Spears all in one draft.  Not too shabby.

Sensy has yet to sign his tender offer, hoping to reach a long-term deal with the Cowboys.

Cal DE Tyson Alualu Highlights

Isn’t it important to get every draft “right”?  Don’t forget you can effectively add Robert Brewster, Michael Hamlin, Brandon Williams, and Stephen Hodge to this class.

Anyone else think Dallas will be traveling to Philly?


Cowboys News and Notes: 4/3/10


Introducing "The Blonde Side" by Amber Leigh Hartman

A.L.'s blog "The Blonde Side" will be hosted right here and will provide a look at the more personal aspects of your favorite players' lives.

The emphasis of Dallas Cowboys Times is to utilize film study to bring you analytical, stat-driven articles concerning everything Cowboys: the draft, game previews, game recaps, and so on. In our mission statement, we claim that we will “employ any method necessary to allow for fans to gain fresh insights regarding America’s Team.”

Sometimes, though, we know that fans just want to read, well, gossip.

Enter Amber Leigh— the feature of our very first edition of “Hot Cowboys Babes.” Amber Leigh’s blog, “The Blonde Side,” will be featured here.  Having developed connections with multiple Cowboys players, media, and others within the organization, she will be able to provide you with inside information regarding more personal aspects of the players’ lives that, quite frankly, we just are not in position to do.

But don’t let the blonde hair fool you. A.L. (you can call her A.L. . . she really enjoys it) truly knows her sh*t. She is educated, well-written, and a lifetime fan of the Silver and Blue.

The ultimate goal of adding “The Blonde Side” to our repertoire is to allow us to provide you with analysis that is more innovative and comprehensive than that which we were previously capable.