2012 LABOR DAY WEEKEND: A personal invitation from The Boys Are Back blog | Read | Watch | Listen | Comment
OOOOhhh, the September breeze, the sound of your neighbor mowing his lawn, smell of charcoal smoldering down to ashes in the grill, anticipating Sunday afternoons, Monday nights, Chex mix, and maybe an ice cold beer. Labor Day weekend. Honestly, is there a better time of the year? The NFL-less part of winter. Gone. The rains of spring. Gone. The dog days of summer. They’re nearly gone too. Let’s call it the fourth quarter of the year, if you will. Again, it’s Labor Day weekend. Let that sink in for a moment … It’s football season.
In two days the NFL kicks off the 2012-2013 season. Two days. Dallas Cowboys. New York Giants. Storied rivals. One without the trophy, in determined pursuit. One with the trophy, just as determined to defend it. And us. We’re here for the drama … anticipating the battle … ready for it all to unfold before our very eyes.
Think back to yesteryear (which is longer for some of us). We were out in the yard with cousins and siblings, a withered football, sweat in our eyes. Running around like NFL legends of our day. Making plays, dodging defenders. In pursuit of that game winning touchdown. The crowd roars! At least, in our minds. Those bruises and knots … totally worth it! Now, a little part of us remembers those moments …
When DeMarco Murray runs, we run. When Romo rolls out and throws that bomb, we’re right there with it … spiraling all the way, towards the intended target. When DeMarcus Ware plants that quarterbacks ass to the turf … oh yes, we’re there. Aren’t we?
In our minds, we’ve all done those things. Sometimes, when you look over at your son, or think of him, a little part of you sees him out there too! It’s a part of the evolution within us … like the changing seasons.
It’s Labor Day weekend. Like the bare trees of winter, the old players were shed. Spring brought the buds and blossoms, we call it the draft, free agency. Summer, training camp … the fittest of the fit. Only the strongest survived. Now, it’s finally time, for the greatest season of them all … it’s football season. Soon, very soon, our warriors will be strapping on the armor. Let the games begin.
I hope you’ll join us … right here, at The Boys Are Back blog. Read. Watch. Listen. Comment.
Robert D Knight | Editor
Following a week 17 loss to the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett was already thinking ahead. As his team exited the field with their heads hung, Bennett approached quarterback Eli Manning to offer him congratulations … and to suggest the two might be playing together in 2012.
Bennett’s foresight proved to be incredible as the Giants signed the free agent during the offseason.
No longer in the shadow of Jason Witten, Bennett now feels he can show the football world exactly what he’s made of. And thus far, he’s done that. Save for a rough game against the New England Patriots in week four of the preseason, Bennett has drawn nothing but praise from coaches and teammates, with Tom Coughlin going as far as calling Bennett a "vertical threat" – not the usual verbiage that describes one of the NFL’s premiere blocking tight ends.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett disagrees, however. He maintains that, although solid, Bennett is nothing more than a complimentary player.
"Martellus is complementary; I think we played to his strengths. We felt like he was a very good run-blocker and a very good pass-protector, and when he got opportunities in the passing game, he generally did a very good job with those as well," Garrett said.
Already anxious to "kick their asses," this is sure to add a little extra spark to what the Black Unicorn plans to unleash this coming Wednesday.
Courtesy: Dan Benton | Giants101
Editors Rant: This is a great example of taking a fraction of a much more in-depth, comprehensive interview and re-spinning it. This single quote takes the Jason Garrett assessment of Marty B completely out of context. In reality, Garrett was overly complimentary of the ex-Cowboy. A much more realistic version of what Garrett said can be found right here on The Boys Are Back blog … and numerous media outlets around Dallas … in print, audio, and video formats.
I reposted this New York rant only to make a few points:
- There is a lot of crap floating around the internet, reader beware
- As fans, we should listen to the entire interview, or read the entire transcript
- Mar‘tellus all about it’ Bennett is a selfish, self-serving dipshit
- Why can’t Marty B have success in preseason game #4 (no starters)?
- Bennett doesn’t have and never will have Jason Witten’s class, grit, or skill set
- Martellus Bennett was a 2nd round bust for Dallas, never reached potential
Here’s the entire conference call from two days ago, September 1, 2012:
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett speaks with the New York media via his pregame conference call and talks about the differences from last year to this year.
To listen, click HERE
IRVING, Texas – When the Dallas Cowboys take the field to open the season on Sept. 5 against the New York Giants, they won’t be thinking of their most recent preseason game against the Dolphins.
Instead, the starters will remember their most recent regular-season game, a 31-14 loss to the Giants that completed the series sweep for New York in 2011 and sent Dallas packing home.
“You’ve got to give them all the credit in the world,” said linebacker Sean Lee. “They’re a very good team and they did a great job last year, but it’s been a big motivation for us.”
Lee and the Dallas Cowboys haven’t forgotten. Lee said it was even harder to watch the team that kicked them out of the playoffs make their run to a Super Bowl.
“That was tough for us to see, especially when we had a shot,” Lee said. “We felt we could put ourselves in a similar position. We didn’t take advantage of it.”
Lee said he thought about the loss in the weight room after the defeat, throughout Organized Team Activities, building up to the first preseason game and, undoubtedly, entering this year’s regular season.
While the last preseason game provided a final opportunity for bubble players, it symbolized the final barrier after an eight-month wait for Cowboys starters to get another chance against their NFC East rivals.
“I think anytime you play the Giants, or you play an NFC East team, especially a Giants team that’s had a lot of success like they’ve had, it’s going to be a good test,” Lee said. “The motivation is very, very high.”
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr has yet to play his first regular-season game as a Dallas Cowboy. But he understands the stakes involved in Wednesday’s opener against the New York Giants, the team that defeated Dallas in a winner-take-all battle for last year’s NFC East title in the final game of the 2011 season, then used that momentum to sweep through the playoffs and win the Super Bowl.
“Make no mistake about it. This is the most important week for the Dallas Cowboys. It’s as simple as that,” said Carr, who signed a five-year, $50.1 million free-agent deal in the off-season to become the Cowboys’ shutdown cornerback. “We’re going to New York and they won it all last year. They have it right now. So, that’s the goal (to win a championship).
“It’s a chance for both teams to pretty much go out there and set the tone for the division. And show the whole world all the work and commitment and sacrifice we put into this whole off-season. We want to play our best, prepare our best … I’m pumped for it. I’m trying to keep myself as level as I can right now. But come Wednesday afternoon, it’s on. Just put it like that. It’s on.”
Carr, who spent the last four seasons in Kansas City, is well aware of the torment that Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning has inflicted on the Cowboys’ secondary in recent seasons. Carr feels a strong obligation to help reverse that trend and expressed plans to put in long hours of film study to make that happen. Carr faced Manning once, in 2009, when he played for the Chiefs and noted that Manning is “a smart quarterback that can pretty much make any throw.”
But he welcomes the challenge.
“For myself, I’m going to turn it up a notch,” Carr said. “Just watching film and using my resources … to try and get an edge on the competition. But it’s going to come down to going out there and seeing who executes the playbook better. That’s really what it comes down to. Who wants it more?”
Carr knows his teammates who played in last year’s season-ending loss to the Giants still are pained by memories of that failure.
“Oh, I believe it. That’s one of the first videos I saw (after signing with Dallas) was the New York-Dallas game,” Carr said. “That (bad) taste is in a lot of guys’ mouths. That’s the good thing about playing sports. You’ve got the next year to go out there and try to prove yourself once again. We have an opportunity where everybody is 0-0 right now and it’s up to us to go out there and put a good show on and, hopefully, come away with more wins than losses and, ultimately, come home with the Super Bowl trophy.”
Hang with me here. Stay alert but patient. I’m thinking hard about stuff this morning. I’m putting this large football brain into supercharged gear. This may take awhile.
But why now, after all these years, would the cerebral objective be to think before you write?
The self-imposed assignment for today is a very difficult challenge:
Find 10 wins for the Cowboys this season.
You doubt, right? You even dog-cuss such foolishness, right?
Eight wins, we can all agree. Nine wins and many rats jump ship, although plenty of Cowsheep will stay aboard. But 10? Women and children first, and the rest of us will cue up the Titanic ballroom band.
But in attempting to make a 10-win case, first you have to wade through a numbers whipping:
Factor in 400. Then factor in 346.
Keep those numbers in mind for Wednesday night at the Meadowlands, when the Cowboys open the season against the world champion New York Giants.
But first, allow 2011 to also be a gateway into 2012. Last season can and will tie directly into this season. "We failed last season, but many areas of that failure we can definitely turn it into a positive for this season," said senior team spokesman Jason Witten, speaking out in Oxnard several weeks ago.
Witten, of course, is going to be optimistic. But he’s not far off in this optimism.
It was an 8-8 team in 2011. Comparing the schedule, and while it’s a crapshoot on strength of schedule until you actually see a season, it appears to be about the same. Non-divisional foes will be tougher in Arlington (Bears, Steelers and Saints are the headline visitors) and the road is about the same.
Headliners this season on the road are Ravens, Falcons and Bengals. Last season it was Jets, 49ers and Pats.
The division? Tough, maybe very tough, but the Eagles are still at the mercy of a quarterback who can’t and won’t stay healthy, and the Giants face a traditional Super Bowl letdown for the next season, and the Redskins, well, how much can RG3 pump up the offense?
I’d make the schedule comparisons pretty much a wash.
Last season, the Cowboys went into December with a 7-4 record. Two of those losses were dreaded Romo giveaways, meaning the early Lions loss and the season-opening Jets loss.
Tony rebounded, of course, and had a good season after that, but he had already inflicted huge damage. Still, the record going into the final month was 7-4 even with the two giveaways. Hey, we’ve found a positive for this season.
Then came the December crash. That loss in Arizona to open the month remains mind-blowing. And of the four losses in the final five games, the L against the Eagles here came with an injured Romo on the sidelines and Stephen McGee at the wheel, plus, it was a meaningless game for playoff implications.
With a little tweaking here and there, the Cowboys’ season could have been much better than 8-8, except for one glaring negative.
The defense. Rob Ryan got caught in the middle of a mess.
Which brings us back to 400. And to 346.
Those were the Eli Manning aerial numbers in his two December wins over the Cowboys. Six TD passes and 746 yards combined. The loss here for the Cowboys involved an immense late collapse by the Cowboys’ defense. Up there, with a divisional title on the line, it was no-contest from the beginning.
Right away, meaning Wednesday night, we have a sudden window into how much the Cowboys have improved on defense. They have improved, but how much? Eli and his receivers will tell us that.
Brandon Carr is the real deal as a new cornerback. Mo Claiborne will be a real deal at the other corner, but he’s a rookie. Rookie corners usually struggle early. As opposed to past years, there actually appears to be depth at cornerback.
But what about a defense applying pressure on the opposing QB, be it Eli Manning or anyone else? The Cowboys were not good in that area last season, and there’s nothing at the moment to suggest it will change. Nothing, that is, except optimism, and the hope that better coverage in the secondary helps create more sacks and pressures.
In attempting to determine how the Cowboys will finish this season, health issues are always a key component. But there will be injuries, and in many cases the Cowboys don’t appear to have depth. How big a negative the injuries become is strictly a wait-and-see process.
The schedule. The injuries. The talent. The bad hoodoo voodoo that has followed Jerry since the mid-’90s. Combine it all, and…
No, I can’t find those 10 wins. Let’s make it 8-8, and another season of local football frustration.
This is what happens when you actually think too much.
But wait. There’s one disclaimer from the massive football brain:
If the defense on Wednesday night actually holds Eli and his receivers to reasonable instead of outrageous production, then we can re-evaluate the think tank.