While this Sunday’s game against the Rams may not seem like a MUST SEE game at first glance, there is at least one essential reason to make sure you’re around for it. The Cowboys second-half offense. More specifically, the red-zone and Dez Bryant’s performance, or lack of.
Dez Bryant was drafted last year 24th overall. When Dallas traded the 27th spot to New England his impact was immediate, playing under Roy Williams and Miles Austin. Barring an ankle injury there’s no doubt Diamond Dez Bryant could’ve been ‘Rookie of the Year’. Making plays all over the field with his body, his leap, and tremendous hands he seemed like the total package. Michael Irvin 2.0, in his limited time as 3rd on the totem pole, Bryant came away with 561 yards and 6 touchdowns in his first 12 games. He added another 2 TD’s on punt returns.
Fast forward now to this year and there’s a world of difference. With at least 4 interceptions going in Bryant’s direction on what seem to be blown routes, he’s missing his mark. Now, the Cowboys top receiver
has become a ghost in the second half. He’s become a late-game liability. Often not even drawing double-coverage. Dez has an ability to beat the defender, to get downfield. He has lost quarterback confidence. Late in games the Cowboys seem to be of the mind that they can’t afford costly turnovers and believe that Dez is too dangerous to target. His undisciplined approach to the playbook is glaring. As a top receiver he has not had catches in the second half. This season, it’s all first half stats that amounts to 14 catches for 249 yards and 3 TD’s. That’s only 2 more catches than Laurent Robinson and the same amount as Felix Jones. It seems for now that there is a ‘no throw’ policy in the final 2 quarters of the game. Eliminating late game turnovers is priority number one, with the way some of the games went so far you can almost understand why.
Interestingly enough, Dez continues to get looks in the first half, which is encouraging. It would lead one to believe that the conversation has been had, and Garrett and Co. feels he is making strides. Strides aren’t good enough. For the team and for the season, Bryant needs to commit. Get his head in the book and don’t come up till he has to. At this point if not to justify the Roy Williams cut, then to let us believe again that our star has arrived. That the answer to our prayers have been met by yet another All Pro super stud sportin number 88. It’s time for Diamond Dez to put the pedal to the metal, gain back his quarterback’s confidence, own his role, and do it with style and poise.
What Dez Bryant does in both halves of the game Sunday against the St. Louis Rams is critical. Not just for the confidence of fans, but the coach and his team. Everyone around the league will be watching and waiting. They want to write-off Dez Bryant, to tell that story. Everyone will be watching to see if Dez can do it again. As for our upcoming opponents, they’ll be watching too. Especially the troubled Eagles, who will be anxious to flex their new, fully loaded secondary. Their hunger for a win against Dallas is so bad they can already taste it.
R. A. Knight | Special contributor | The Boys Are Back
No NFL team has lived on the edge of victory and defeat quite like the Dallas Cowboys this season. All five of their games have been decided by four points or less. And with the scrutiny America’s Team gets on a daily basis, it has been a well-chronicled, wildly fluctuating roller-coaster ride from week to week.
Just two examples:
• Quarterback Tony Romo has been a superhero, leading the Cowboys to a 27-24 overtime victory over San Francisco in Week 2 despite a cracked rib and a punctured lung.
• Two weeks later, Romo was a dud, throwing three second-half interceptions in a 34-30 loss to Detroit, a game in which the Cowboys blew a 27-3 third-quarter lead.
The winless Rams (0-5) can only hope Dallas and Romo are in dud mode Sunday at Cowboys Stadium. Despite lots of potential firepower on offense, the numbers don’t add up for the Cowboys (2-3). On one hand, Dallas is seventh in the league in total offense, which ranks teams according to yards gained. Somehow all those yards have produced only 10 touchdowns this season.
IRVING — Of all the injuries the Cowboys are dealing with, starting right guard Kyle Kosier is playing with a partly torn plantar fascia in his left foot.
Kosier said he’ll play with a steel plate in the bottom of his shoe to deal with any discomfort. Kosier was limited in practice the last two days and did practice on Friday, but it was not known if he was a full participant.
Kosier’s injury is similar to the one cornerback Terence Newman endured at the start of the 2007 season. Newman missed first the first two games of that season and dealt with the pain the rest of the way because of the partial tear.
“I’ll be fine,” Kosier said.
Among the other injuries, backup guard Derrick Dockery said his goal is to return from fractured tibia next week for the game at Philadelphia. Dockery said the sprained medial collateral ligament, suffered in the Week 2 victory over San Francisco, has healed.
Running back Felix Jones (high ankle sprain) and defensive end Jason Hatcher (calf) will miss Sunday’s game. Kicker David Buehler (groin) could play on Sunday.
IRVING, Texas — Steve Spagnuolo used the New York Giants’ run to Super Bowl XLII to land the St. Louis head coaching job in 2009.
That run started against the Cowboys in the divisional round at Texas Stadium when Spagnuolo’s defense held Tony Romo to 201 yards on 18-of-36 passing in a 21-17 victory against what was the NFC’s top seed.
Now in his third year with the Rams, Spagnuolo said he does not have many good memories of facing a Jason Garrett and Romo led offense.
“When I draw on that I get a headache,” Spagnuolo said. “I’ve got to get a bottle of Tylenol. You mention the two guys that make it go in a lot of ways. Jason does a great job of calling a great game. He’s tough to defend and certainly I have the utmost respect for Tony Romo. He’s really made us and this defense look bad many times so we’re trying to figure out a way not to let that happen on Sunday.”
Spagnuolo was 0-3 vs. Romo in the regular season in 2007-08. In those games Romo completed 55 of 82 passes for 836 yards with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Romo said he has looked at some of the old games against New York this week to use as a reference point.
“He does a lot of different stuff,” Romo said of Spagnulo. “He sends a lot of different pressures. He’s played against us a lot in the past and I suspect that he’ll have some wrinkles and some things he hasn’t brought in a while. It’ll be a challenge for us but it’ll be a fun one.”
IRVING, Texas — Sorry, Norv Turner. You got caught in the crossfire of the Ryan family rivalry.
That’s how Rob Ryan perceived twin brother Rex’s comments that sparked a little coast-to-coast back-and-forth between the head coaches of the Jets and Chargers.
Rex Ryan answered a question from San Diego reporters on a conference call by saying he thought he’d have a “couple of rings” if the Chargers had hired him when he interviewed for the job. Turner retorted by wondering whether he Ryan “had those rings with the ones he’s guaranteed the last couple of years.”
All of which was pretty entertaining for the man who loves taunting Rex about rings. Rob owns a couple of Super Bowl rings from his tenure as the Patriots’ linebackers coach, while Rex earned one as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator.
“Let me tell you something, that whole comment there is about multiplicity,” Rob Ryan said. “When it comes down to it, it’s multiplicity. Rex is constantly using that multiple ring thing, multiple ring this, multiple ring that, multiple ring this.
“The simple fact is it had nothing to do with Norv Turner and I coached with Norv. Norv is a great coach and a good man. He’s done obviously a great job in San Diego. The multiplicity thing is really ring envy. It’s ring envy. His twin brother has two rings, his dad [Buddy] has three rings, he only has one, so you can see the multiplicity thing. It’s all, I want multiple rings.
“He doesn’t even know what he’s talking about. He only has one ring. It’s hard to say, and the whole thing is, it’s embarrassing, because it’s all about the family, it’s a sibling rivalry and Norv got in the way of a sibling rivalry.”
One way to boost this running game will be to get a true fullback out there.
While the Cowboys have been getting by – barely – with tight end John Phillips leading the way on some running plays, the return of Tony Fiammetta should add a spark to a running game that ranks 27th in the NFL.
Fiammetta, who joined the Cowboys just before the start of the season, has only played one game because of a hamstring injury he suffered in his Cowboys debut against San Francisco.
“It’s a little frustrating any time you’re not on the field,” said Fiammetta, who admitted he had to stay patient in his rehab. “But you have to be smart and a lot of games left to play. Taking that time off will pay dividends in the end.”
What added to Fiammetta’s frustration was the obvious struggles the Cowboys have had in the running game, particularly in the red zone. Last week against the Patriots, the Cowboys got inside the 5 on two occasions but settled for field goals in a 20-16 loss.
“Whether they’re struggling or not, I want to be out there with my teammates,” Fiammetta said. “I want to be out there playing football. That’s what they do. Getting back feels good because I’m back on the field helping the team out and hopefully helping them win.”
Fiammetta, a fourth-round pick of the Panthers in 2009, has nine career starts in two seasons in Carolina.