Daily Archives: September 13th, 2011

Not so late-breaking news: Cowboys add Frank Walker, release Rucker, Greenhouse

The Cowboys officially announced they have signed cornerback Frank Walker, prompting the team to release tight end Martin Rucker to clear a spot on the active roster.

The Cowboys also announced that they have cut Isaiah Greenhouse from the eight-man practice squad.

Rucker appeared in six games for the Cowboys since joining the team in 2010. However, he didn’t record any statistics. During his three-year career, which began in Cleveland, he has made two receptions for 17 yards.

Greenhouse, who signed the Cowboys earlier this year, was moved from linebacker to fullback during training camp.

TBAB Comment: I really like Greenhouse, and hated to see that he’s been cut. Rucker has potential too! It’s a shame to see some of these young Dallas Cowboy studs released … especially if they end up succeeding on another teams roster. Selfish, I know.

49ers fans willing to pay more for a real game!

The average ticket price for Sunday’s Cowboys-49ers game in San Francisco costs $248.26, or 91.5 percent higher than the 49ers’ average season tick of $129.69, according to TiqIQ.

The Cowboys haven’t visited San Francisco for a game since 2005, and the two teams have played each other in five NFC Championship games.

TBAB comment: I wonder what a SF vs CIN ticket would go for in SF? Surely, it’s a guaranteed 49er win! Right?

Other comments:

jwgonz421 9:35 PM on 9/13/2011

i live in north cali and tried to get tickets to this game. nose bleed tickets at canddle stick(which is a horrible spot) are starting at $155. the next game there at canddle stick is i believe against the Bucs and nose bleed to that game is starting at $35. boys roll large and teams no this.

Happy Bunny 8:09 PM on 9/13/2011

@tre3: Agreed. I live in the DC area and there are just about as many people w/Cowboys logos on their cars as there are for the Deadskins. Many teams now want to steal the “America’s Team” moniker but it just ain’t happening.

tre3 5:36 PM on 9/13/2011

What did you expect…I have lived all over the country San Diego, New Orleans, Philly, Washington DC, etc. The Cowboys have a large following everywhere! Few years ago, I went to a Cowboy game at Redskin stadium and 1/3 of the stadium were Cowboys fans.

Will Diamond Dez have a no-return policy?

IRVING, Texas — Wide receiver Dez Bryant experienced some tightness in his quad muscle Sunday against the Jets, possibly caused during his lone punt return in the first quarter.

The Cowboys had already decided against using Bryant on kickoff returns, where he averaged 24.4 yards on 12 returns last year. They don’t want to risk their young receiver’s health by overexposure on special teams.

But now, what about punt returns, where Bryant had two touchdowns last year?

“We have to address those things,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “We kind of made a conscious decision to keep him off the kickoff return situation except for special situations where we give him the opportunity to return the punts. We feel like that’s a safer play, so to speak.

“He has so much ability in that area that you don’t want to just take him off it completely, but at the same time he’s going to be such a bigger part of our offense this year as a starting receiver. We’ll evaluate that week by week and see what the best decision is going forward.”

The Cowboys return to practice Wednesday, and Bryant said after the game that his bruise should be OK with treatment. As Garrett pointed out, the team’s medical and athletic training staff wouldn’t have kept him in the game if he was going to further injure himself.

TBAB Comment: My son and I have been talking about this since last preseason … and more intensely after his injury last year. While Diamond Dez adds so much excitement anytime he’s on the field … it’s simply too risky! We’ve come to the conclusion that DD should be used only in special situations to add a spark in a much-needed scenario … say, maybe a wildcard game or championship game when it’s “do or die”. Think back to when Deion Sanders was on the roster … occasionally they used him as a wide receiver to add a spark … and a little star-power boost in big games! Let’s think along those lines … use DD when game changing mojo is needed. Otherwise, let’s let some of our other Special Teams studs earn their strips on these returns … Harris, Murray, McCann, Ogletree, and Buehler (inside joke).

CLASS ACT: Keith Brooking accepting his new role

Since the Cowboys drafted Sean Lee in the second round of 2010, everyone has compared the young linebacker to veteran Keith Brooking, so it is natural that Lee has overtaken Brooking for a starting job.

Lee was on the field alongside Bradie James on Sunday night, and played just about every defensive snap, while James and Brooking rotated. Last year, with Lee banged up near the start of the season, the Cowboys thought the two veteran wore down having to play too many snaps.

“I’m not blind to the fact of what’s taking place,” Brooking said. “It’s been a long time in my career now that I’ve been out there for significant – every play of every game. So I’m realistic. I’ve said it all along, I’m realistic about my position right now, my role on this team. I know that I don’t need to be out there on the field on every play. But obviously I would love more snaps. I would be lying to you if I told you I didn’t. I want those, but I accept it either way.”

Including an outstanding performance by Lee, the inside linebackers had a very good game overall, helping limit the Jets to just 45 rushing yards.

“Regardless of who’s out there, like I said, I feel like it’s a luxury that we have the three inside linebackers that we have now. That rotation, regardless of who’s out there, we feel pretty dang good about what’s going to take place.”

Brooking, 35, and James, 30, are each in the last year of their contract. Just as in 2010, the Cowboys drafted an inside linebacker in the second round this April, Bruce Carter, who is on the Non-Football Injury list while rehabbing from knee surgery.

Though Brooking’s days are probably numbered, he says he can still play well. The decision to scale back his snaps may help.

“You guys can write all you want about how old I am,” Brooking said. “It doesn’t matter to me. Put on the film and watch it. I know I can still contribute to the team and play, and if it’s 20 snaps a game, hey, it’s 20 snaps a game. Throw me in on some special teams and I’ll be good to go.

“I don’t feel like I played a game right now. I feel great. I’m not sore at all.”

Ground attack must be able to close the door!

Marion Barber’s role changed often during his six seasons with the Cowboys, but the running back always served as the team’s closer. His pounding style seemed even more affective with the team attempting to control the ball and the clock late in the game.

With Barber gone now, along with three of his biggest blockers up front, the Cowboys ground game will have to re-learn how to win games late. Against the Jets on Sunday, the inability to pick up crucial yards late in the game cut short an excellent scoring opportunity.

Just after the Jets tied the score with a blocked punt, five minutes left on the clock, the Cowboys started a drive at the 20-yard line. Tony Romo connected with John Phillips for 12 yards, and Felix Jones gained eight on a first down run. On the next two snaps, however, Jones and Tashard Choice failed to pick up a first down in short yardage, and the offense was forced to punt.

It was the kind of situation Barber thrived in over the course of his Cowboys tenure, just a yard or two needed to pick up a first down, late in the game.

“You need to be able to do that,” Jason Garrett said Monday. “They were committing eight and nine people to the line of scrimmage throughout the ballgame, so the way we were going to have to move the football was to try to be patient with the running game, and I think we were doing that throughout the game. We didn’t have a lot of success doing it, but we felt like it was a worthwhile pursuit just to continue to try to keep them honest.”

The Jets’ stacked front allowed Tony Romo a big day passing, 342 yards. The Cowboys’ 390 yards of total offense was nearly 100 yards more than opponents averaged against the Jets in 2010 (291.5).

“You still need to find a way to run the ball,” Garrett said. “When it comes to crunch times, we have to make some of those short-yardage situations and we didn’t last night, and that’s an area where we must improve.”

TBAB Comment: The ‘Boys converted 3 of 12 third down opportunities vs the NYJ on Sunday. It’s a stat that makes a difference, especially in close games! You need a strong running threat to be effective on those third-and-short downs. If the opponent knows you can’t run … that key’s their defense, and makes you one-dimensional. Once the OL gets more experience, we’ll see a much improved running game. We already have the runners in place … it’s a matter of getting them in sync with the OL.

ROSTER: FB Fiammetta Returns; WR Robinson Released

Last week the Cowboys cut their only fullback to add a sixth receiver to the 53-man roster. Tuesday, the Cowboys re-signed the fullback and cut the very same receiver.

Fullback Tony Fiammetta is back on the roster after the Cowboys waived receiver Laurent Robinson, who was with the team for only a week. Robinson actually tweaked his hamstring in his first practice last week and was inactive for Sunday’s game with the Jets. The Cowboys apparently didn’t like what they saw from Robinson to release him despite his base salary being guaranteed for the entire season.

As for Fiammetta, he becomes the only true fullback on the roster. The third-year pro started 12 games in two years in Carolina, including nine last year. He was waived by the Panthers after training camp and the preseason and quickly claimed off waivers by the Cowboys, who had recently cut all four fullbacks off their roster.

Fiammetta should be able to contribute on special teams this week and it might open things more for the tight ends. Both John Phillips and Jason Witten were used in short-yardage situations, as was backup defensive tackle Josh Brent.

Losing Robinson cuts the Cowboys’ receiving corps down to five players – Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Kevin Ogletree, Jesse Holley and Dwayne Harris – all of which were active last week against the Jets.

Say what you want, I’ll take Tony Romo

If it’s one thing I’ve learned about the NFL and especially the Cowboys, it’s that everyone has an opinion. And you don’t have to be in Dallas or go to the games to have one. And by Tuesday afternoon, not even 48 hours since Sunday’s loss to the Jets, it seems like everyone has voiced theirs, especially if it involves one Tony Romo.

And remember, they’re all opinions. With that, no one is wrong. We might be misinformed sometimes or have a tendency to be biased, but no opinion can really be wrong.

Personally, I don’t think Tony Romo is a choke-artist. I’ve seen him play enough games to know that he’s a clutch player. Now, obviously you can make the argument about “big” games, but what’s a big game? Playoffs? Yeah, you win. He’s 1-3 in the playoffs.

After that, they’re all the same. They’re all big games. I’m sure if he goes out and lights it up this week in San Francisco and the Cowboys take a W back from the Bay Area, most of his critics will downplay because it’s just the 49ers in a Week Two game that most of the country missed. But you don’t think this week is a big game? It’s probably bigger, especially if the Cowboys lose and go to 0-2.

My point is that I’ve seen Romo succeed much more times than he’s failed. The numbers support that.

In 66 career starts, Romo is 40-26 as a starter. There have been seven games, including Sunday night, where the Cowboys entered the fourth quarter with a lead, and lost. Two of those games were in the playoffs in 2006 and 2007.

Seven times. Is that a lot? And of course, that stat can be somewhat misleading especially if the quarter switched while the opponent was driving and scored early in the fourth and won. Things like that happen.
That being said, let’s take the next stat with the same mindset. Under Romo, there have been eight games in which the Cowboys entered the fourth quarter trailing but rallied to win. That includes wins over Peyton Manning and the Colts, and those wild comebacks in Kansas City and Buffalo.

Seven times one way, eight times another. In essence, that’s pretty much what Romo has been. He’s the guy who will freelance at times and play with a ton of confidence. Sometimes, the gunslinger makes the play. Sometimes, he makes it for the other team.

As a fan, I know they think they’ve seen this story too many times, but really they haven’t. You see the comeback wins just as much, if not a little bit more, than these disappointing losses.

What I think is a shame is hearing people like Kordell Stewart sit in a TV booth and say Romo had the most disappointing Week One performance by a quarterback. Seriously?

I know what happened in the fourth quarter. I know Romo has to make better decisions. But let’s not forget how well he played until then. Be mad at him for those two plays in the fourth. Be grateful for those 63 plays before that.

Trust me, if this guy can play that way against those cornerbacks, that defense, behind that offensive line and in that playing environment, he can play for me any day.

You may not think he’s an elite quarterback. But he’s definitely in that second tier of players. And for this team, that’s good enough for me.

Again, that’s my opinion. Everyone has their own. And this week, we’ve heard most of them.

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