Category: Cowboys (Page 1 of 40)

Cowboys Rerun

We’ve seen this movie. Three weeks ago the Cowboys were 6-1 with a four game lead in the NFC East and, according to Cowboys fans, serious Super Bowl contenders. Today, after Sunday’s beatdown in Kansas City, Dallas is 7-3 and the division lead is down to two-and-a-half. It’s time for the November fade that precedes the December implosion. Same script.

The Cowboys have lost two of their past three games, going 116-minutes without a touchdown in those two losses. Dak Prescott was sacked five times by the Chiefs and forced into three turnovers. Ezekiel Elliot ran for a measly 32 yards, marking the fifth straight game he’s been held to under 70 yards rushing. And the Cowboys converted only five total third downs.

The Cowboys defense was clearly playing over its head in the early part of the season and, now that opposing offenses have enough tape to study, are being exposed for the middle-of-the-road unit they really are. As for the offense? Injuries to the receivers and along the offensive line aren’t helping, but Dak is not sharp and Elliot is running in quicksand. This offense is struggling against good defenses. And for the remaining seven games, the Cowboys will be facing only good defenses.

I don’t know what to expect on Thursday. The Raiders are a mess and the Cowboys are desperate. But the Saints have the number six defense in the NFL. The Cards have the number two defense in the league and a dynamite offense and the best record in the conference. The Giants defense allows fewer than 14 points per game when they’re not facing Tom Brady. And Washington and Philly both have defenses that are capable of shutting down a run game. The Cowboys still have four division games remaining, three of those on the road in the coldĀ  northeast. The last game of the year is against the Eagles in Philly. Today, the Eagles are two-and-a-half games back. The last game of the year is in Philly. Oh, I already said that.

This only ends one of two ways. Either Dallas wins this awful division and backs into a first round playoff loss at home. Or they flop in five of these last seven games and lose the division on a tie-breaker to Philly and miss the playoffs altogether.

We’ve seen this movie, Cowboys fans. And it’s delicious!

Peace,

Allan

Five Straight

My long-standing policy is that if I cannot say something bad about the Dallas Cowboys, I won’t say anything at all. But it’s impossible to ignore how well the team is playing duringĀ  this five-game winning streak. Goodness gracious. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t address the current state of the Cowboys.

There’s no one in the NFL who throws the ball better on the run than Dak. The receivers are not just Cooper and Lamb; Schultz is open on every play and Cedric Wilson is making at least one crazy, critical, circus catch to keep a drive alive every week. Elliot and Pollard are running extremely well behind a surging offensive line. Trevon Diggs is a monster, single-handedly shutting down half the field. And the whole defense is playing with a passion and a confidence they haven’t shown in years.

The Cowboys have won more games than the rest of the NFC East combined and have a three-game lead in the league’s weakest division. And, right now today, I don’t know who’s going to beat them. This is seriously looking like a 13-3 year.

Or is it? Where is the dark cloud behind all these stars and rainbows? How and when will reality come crashing down on this team?

Here are a few things that give me hope this will blow up in Jerry’s plastic face. One, this team continues to make terrible mistakes. They made enough Sunday in Foxboro to lose a couple of games. Twelve penalties for over a hundred yards. They converted only three of thirteen third downs. Yet they made just enough big plays to eke out the overtime win. You can’t do that consistently against good teams. That kind of thing catches up to you as the season progresses and the games become more important.

Two, Mike McCarthy is still this team’s head coach. I guess he’s going to go for it on 4th and one from midfield on the first drive of every single game – that backfired into a Patriots’ touchdown Sunday. He forgot to call the timeout near the end of the game that would have forced a New England punt and given Dallas a chance to win the game in regulation. He’s not smart. The percentages and the time-tested odds mean more in the NFL than they do in any other sport. The math – for pity’s sake! – means more in the NFL than it does even in baseball. And McCarthy routinely forgets about or willfully goes against it. That won’t fly for long.

Three, this is the bye week. This is the time most teams get healthy and work hard on preparing for the rest of the season. For the Cowboys, this is the time when they hear about how well they’re doing and reject the hard work for a vacation in Cabo or a bender in Houston. Somebody’s going to get arrested this week.

Lastly, Jerry Wayne Jones is still the owner. The football gods will not allow his team to win a divisional playoff game. The Cowboys went 13-3 in 2016 and 2007 and lost in the divisional round. They went 12-4 in 2014 and lost in the divisional round. The powers-that-be are right now devising the most excruciating and gut-punch way for the Cowboys to get humiliated in January. Again.

Let ’em win seven or eight more games. It just makes January that much more delicious.

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Thomas Earl Petty was born on this day in 1950. Here’s the original video for “The Waiting” from 1981.

 

How ‘Bout Them Conleys!

Our great friends Stan and Kelly Conley treated Whitney and me to their amazing seats at last night’s Monday Night Football game in Arlington. It was the home opener for the Cowboys against the hated Eagles and the first Cowboys game we’ve attended in ten years. Needless to say, Whitney was beside herself. She wore out her rally towel and both arms before kickoff. She exulted with every Cowboys score, gloried in every Philly penalty, and nearly fainted with delight when Dallas went over the 40-point mark in the fourth quarter.

I hate it when the Cowboys look good. It would be very easy for me this morning to write about how Jalen Hurts is a disaster and this Eagles squad might be the worst team in the league. But, Dallas did play a great ballgame last night. You play the schedule as it comes in the NFL and the Cowboys, for once, committed to the run against Philly’s two-deep safety zone all night. Dallas dominated time of possession, kept the penalties to a bare minimum, and basically allowed the Eagles to beat themselves. Which they did. And while I did not love the whipping it turned out to be, I did thoroughly enjoy the experience sitting next to our oldest daughter.

 

 

 

 

 

Whitney’s about as hard core as it gets among Cowboys fans and she had an absolute blast last night. Stan and Kelly’s seats are on the 40-yard line, a perfect ten rows up behind the Cowboys bench. And Whitney was just overjoyed to be able to watch Dak and Zeke and Cooper and her favorite players, up close, in person, on the sidelines. She kept waving that towel madly throughout the game, whacking me in the side of the head after every good play and during every third down. She stood for nearly the entire game, exchanged wild high-fives with everybody sitting within a ten foot radius, and went through two massive nine-dollar Diet Dr Peppers. She loves the Cowboys and she absolutely despises the Eagles, so it was a perfect night for the Whitster.

My favorite moments came at the half. The Pro Football Hall of Fame presented Cliff Harris, Drew Pearson, and Jimmy Johnson with their HOF rings during halftime in a ceremony that featured every living Cowboys Hall of Famer in person together on the field. Staubach and Lilly, Rayfield Wright and Tony Dorsett, Mel Renfro and Randy White, Aikman, Emmitt, and Michael Irvin – they were all there on the field to welcome Captain Crash, Drew, and the Jimster. It was chilling. Goosebumps. The three newest inductees each gave short speeches, brief synopses of what they’ve been saying for a year now. Harris recalled his humble origins as an undrafted free agent out of Ouachita Baptist and thanked Gil Brandt for hunting him down, Drew (sadly, I think) raged into the microphone again about how his Hall of Fame induction validates his career and himself as a human being, and Jimmy thanked Jerry (boo), his players (yay), and all the Cowboys fans (crescendo of applause), for the great honor of coaching the Cowboys. And then, of course, he punctuated the end of his time with one more “How ’bout them Cowboys!” to which the stadium nearly collapsed with thunderous ecstasy.

 

 

 

 

I didn’t realize then that the game was already over. But it was. After Trevon Diggs’ pick-six to begin the third quarter, it was only a matter of how much. As the second half wore on, the guys on the row in front of us got drunker, the over-the-top couple from Corpus Christi next to me got rowdier, the Eagles wilted, the crowd overall became more aggressive, the Cowboys dominated, and Whitney’s grin grew bigger and wider.

Thank you to Stan and Kelly for their great generosity and a wonderful night together in Arlington. Thank you to Dale and Rita Brown for the gracious gift of their transportation and their pleasant company to and from the game. And thanks to the powers that be for opening the roof of the Death Star.

Experiencing the game with Whitney, enjoying her joy, I allowed myself a little smile here and there at this perfectly-scripted night for the Cowboys. It’s nights like this, when the fans leaving the stadium are all talking Super Bowl, that make the inevitable loss to the Panthers this Sunday so delicious.

Peace,

Allan

Spiritual Formation by Church

I’m having some of those standard conversations with Cowboys fans today. The main theme today with the Star-gazers is that the team should be 2-0. They ought to be 2-0. They could very easily be 2-0. It’s simple to argue back that it’s just as likely that this team would be 0-2. In many ways, they ought to be 0-2. They could very easily be 0-2. That’s the way it is every week with an eventual 8-9 or 9-8 football team.

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There is no spiritual formation without the Church.

“Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” ~ Colossians 3:12-14

How? How do we do this? How do we put on these virtues, these Christ-like qualities, these fruits of the Holy Spirit? How do we add them to our lives and develop them as critical components of our nature?

“As members of one body… Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” ~ Colossians 3:15-16

This sounds like worship. This passage is about worship in and with the Church. It shapes us.

And I know becoming like Christ is a full-time, all-the-time, seven-days-a-week lifelong journey. I know. But our formation radiates from and is nourished by the worship of the Church, gathered together every Lord’s day around the Word and the table. There is no spiritual formation without the Church. Not because there’s anything magical or superstitious about the church building, but because the Church is the Body of Christ. We are the Body of Christ, given life and sustained by God’s Spirit and formed by our Christian practices together. Worshiping together every week makes us more like Jesus.

We have publicly welcomed 32 new members to the GCR Church here in Midland over the past two Sundays. I’m certain your church has added a few new members over the past several months. You don’t get to interview these new members. Nobody gets to vote. All these new men, women, and children – nobody asks you if it’s OK to make them members of your church. God chooses people and moves them in and requires us to love each other. Our worship forces us to sing other people’s songs, to listen to other people’s opinions, to pray over other people’s cares, to forgive other people’s wrongs, and to eat and drink a meal together every Sunday. And it shapes us. It clothes us with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness. And patience. You know it does.

So we are devoted to the Church’s worship. We’re committed to it. We don’t miss it or skip it. We don’t quit on it or give it a lesser priority in our lives. We know our worship together makes us more like Jesus.

Peace,

Allan

Forecasting the Cowboys: 2021

The 2021 NFL season is nigh and, with it, the incredibly over-the-top expectations of Cowboys fans. Dallas played in the worst single-season division in pro football history last year and still finished in third place at 6-10, missing the playoffs. In 2020, the Cowboys had the worst defense in franchise history. To fix it, Jerry Wayne has brought in Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator. Quinn was fired as head coach of the Falcons before last season ended because they had the worst defense in Falcons history. Nice. Dak Prescott shattered his ankle five games into the 2020 campaign and, after two surgeries and months of rehab, strained his throwing shoulder during the first week of training camp. He still has not played a live down of football in eleven months. And, by the way, Mike McCarthy is still the Cowboys coach. And Jerry is still the owner. Yet. Still. Cowboys fans will tell you this is the year, this team’s going to go all the way. Even some level-headed football insiders believe Dallas will win the East and compete for a Super Bowl.

Please.

What follows is my week-by-week breakdown of the Cowboys 2021 football season, which begins tonight in Tampa Bay against the Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers and will end, as it always does, in dramatic and delicious despair.

Tonight @ Tampa Bay
The Cowboys alumni group celebrates the season opener by hosting a “Silver Sorry” in the AT&T parking lot, recognizing 25 straight years of Cowboys football without a single divisional playoff win. Danny White and Everson Walls are the headliners – they were once maligned for going to three straight NFC Championship Games. Dallas suffers an embarrassing blowout loss on prime time national TV. This is not a scrimmage on HBO’s Hard Knocks, this is a full-tilt regular season slaughter that exposes some of the team’s worst weaknesses and makes real their greatest fears. Compensating for his untested ankle and his sore shoulder, Dak strains a ligament in his pancreas and winds up committing three turnovers. Tom Brady, still buzzing a bit from the avocado tequila shots he took with Michele Tafoya during the pre-game sideline interview, throws for three TDs and rushes for another in the 36-13 shellacking. Ezekiel Elliot was held to just 48 yards on the ground and never was on the field for three plays in a row. The Bucs high-powered offense was too much for the Cowboys young defense, which is still trying to learn the simplified system implemented by Quinn, the team’s third defensive coordinator in three years.

September 19 @ LA Chargers
Dak Prescott missed two days of practice this week under mysteriously undisclosed circumstances. Prescott has still never confirmed whether he has received a COVID vaccine and we don’t know if that’s because he hasn’t gotten the shots or because he doesn’t want to alienate the Cowboys fan base. Either way, he just doesn’t look right. He was slow on reads and missed a couple of wide open receivers in another double-digit loss on the road. The whole offense looks sloppy. Zeke is missing a step, the line looks out of sync, and Dak can’t find his receivers in a 27-17 loss. For the second week in a row, Blake Jarwin is the team’s leading receiver. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, who is not a fictional character in a romance novel, twisted his knee during the coin toss and will miss 3-5 weeks. This early and fairly significant injury makes him a front runner for the Sean Lee Award. Mike McCarthy takes advantage of the league’s rule change regarding video help to inquire as to whether his oversized mic-pack makes his rear end look big.

September 27 v. Philadelphia
Monday Night Football at Jerry’s Palace and the Cowboys get their first win of the year, a much-needed 30-24 divisional win over the Eagles. Rookie linebacker Micah Parsons had his breakout game, collecting two sacks of Philly quarterback Jalen Hurts and one interception. This is a good sign for the Cowboys whose recent defensive draft picks have been plagued by either injury issues or drug habits. Prescott survived a pedestrian performance while Zeke and Tony Pollard combined for over a hundred yards rushing.

October 3 v. Carolina
The Cowboys offense finally comes alive in a blowout win over the Panthers. Dak begins to earn some of his $75-million by throwing for 312 yards and three scores, two of them to Cee Dee Lamb, in the 35-17 victory. Dallas’ young defense takes advantage of playing back-to-back games against sub-par quarterbacks and shines opposite Sam Darnold. Trevon Diggs gets his first interception of the year and Randy Gregory gets two sacks. Dan Quinn credits his simplified defensive schemes. Mike McCarthy giggles incoherently. Jerry Wayne tells reporters that everything is coming together just like he drew it up.

October 10 v. NY Giants
Reality comes crashing in on the Cowboys in a key divisional home loss to the rival Giants. Saquon Barkley outperforms Zeke Elliot by running over, around, and through the Dallas D in a 31-20 Giants win. Tony Pollard gained more yards rushing than Elliot, leading some to question whether Zeke should be benched. Dan Quinn put ten in the box to stop Barkley, allowing Giants quarterback Daniel Jones to pick the young Cowboys secondary apart. Midway through the 4th quarter, McCarthy called for a chip-shot field goal with the Cowboys down by 14, causing Jerry Jones to pop an aneurysm in his neck. Doctors at AT&T Stadium said all the silicone in Jerry’s face kept the damage at a minimum. Dak was picked up by the Fox television cameras several times coughing on the sidelines. Reporters noticed Dak drinking a bottle of Pine Sol in the locker room, apparently unable to taste the difference between the industrial strength cleaner and his preferred Gatorade.

October 17 @ New England
Dak Prescott tests positive for COVID-19 and Ben DiNucci gets the start at quarterback for the Cowboys in a tough road loss against the Patriots. Garrett Gilbert also took some snaps in the 13-10 Patriots victory. Bill Belichick still hasn’t smiled since 2003. The Cowboys limp into the bye week at 2-4.

Bye
The Cowboys hold a players-only meeting, masks optional. Dan Quinn simplifies his defense, designing a 4-3 package based on primary colors. Kellen Moore experiments with Amari Cooper at running back. Jerry Wayne books three concerts and a tractor pull for AT&T Stadium for January. Nobody is returning Mike McCarthy’s calls. Zeke gets his eyelid and three fingers pierced. In reporting on Dak’s progress during his COVID quarantine, Channel 8 in Dallas discovered that Jerry had a plan dating back to March in case Dak died of COVID. The Cowboys owner was going to preserve Prescott’s body under glass like Vladamir Lenin and charge fans $80 to view it at The Star in Frisco.

October 31 @ Minnesota
Dak is back to lead the Cowboys to victory in a nail-biter, 33-30 over the Vikings. Mike McCarthy calls two failed fake punts in the first half, but the Dallas offense prevails as Prescott hits Lamb over the middle for the winning score with :01 left on the clock. It’s not exactly the Hail Mary, but it’s close.

November 7 v. Denver
Jimmy Johnson is inducted into the Cowboys hallowed Ring of Honor at halftime. The AT&T Stadium public address announcer reminds the crowd what a Super Bowl is. Fans are disoriented by the highlight reel depicting the team participating in championship events. During the ceremony, the Jimster leans into the microphone and hollers, “How ’bout them Cowboys?!” Three people in the stands respond with, “Dez caught it!” Troy Aikman throws up inside his mouth. Dallas wins 27-10.

November 14 v. Atlanta
No watermelon kick required. Not even Matt Quinn can mess this up. DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory harass Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan into two picks and a fumble while Kellen Moore’s offense lights up the scoreboard in a big 42-31 Dallas win. Elliot gets his first 100 yard rushing day of the year and the Cowboys are 5-4 riding a three game winning streak. Jerry gives McCarthy a three-year contract extension with a signing bonus of two cases of spicy pork rinds.

November 21 @ Kansas City
If the Cowboys are going to accomplish their goals, they must be competitive against the league’s best teams. A 37-17 loss to the Chiefs at Arrowhead shows us how far away they still are. Patrick Mahomes had all day in the pocket to read Dan Quinn’s eleven-deep coverage scheme and this one was never close. The Cowboys looked bad. The Dallas Morning News reports that some players have anonymously complained about Mike McCarthy. Jerry Wayne contacts his lawyers.

Thanksgiving v. Las Vegas
The Cowboys are still very much in the playoff hunt after a solid 24-20 win over the Raiders. Dallas is 6-5 and one game behind the WFT in the NFC East. Talk of firing McCarthy has died down a bit. Jerry says all they have to do is win the division, get into the postseason, and then everybody’s got the same shot. Four of the final six games are against division opponents, three of them on the road. Cue the scary organ music. We’ve seen this movie. And it doesn’t end nice.

December 2 @ New Orleans
Nobody saw this coming. Jameis Winston only threw four total passes as he and Alvin Kamara combined for 239 yards rushing in a Saints win over the Cowboys. Three of Winston’s passes were caught by Michael Thomas who scored two touchdowns in the 41-37 barn burner. Jaylon Smith changed his jersey number four times during the game, trying to change his luck, but the Cowboys linebackers couldn’t keep up. Dan Quinn’s defense is being called the Legion of Gloom. Dak threw for 421 yards and three scores, but almost all of it came with the Cowboys trailing by double digits in the second half. The pressure is on now. Too many losses. The Cowboys are forced to almost run the table to win the NFC East. So much pressure.

December 12 @ Washington
The Football Team has the league’s number one defense and the division’s best coach in Ron Rivera and they proved it in a methodical 27-20 win over the Cowboys. Dak was sacked seven times and coughed up the ball three times while Zeke was benched in favor of Tony Pollard who played every offensive snap in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys are 6-7, two games back of Washington, and they must win three of their final four games to win the division and qualify for the playoffs.

December 19 @ NY Giants
Mike McCarthy’s rousing pre-game speech in which he referenced Vince Lombardi, Dean Martin, and Kevin Costner was enough to propel the Cowboys to a 17-14 win over the hapless Giants. On the flight home, Jerry tells reporters he’s giving Kellen Moore a three-year contract extension with a signing bonus of the complete Blues Clues series on DVD. Some speculate that Jerry is preparing to fire McCarthy and name Moore as head coach / sock puppet if the Cowboys fail to make the playoffs.

December 26 v. Washington
The Cowboys are right in the thick of things now, just one game back of the Football Team after a thrilling 35-34 come from behind win. Prescott led Dallas on a 65-yard drive in the final 1:18 to put Greg Zuerlein in position for the game-winning 26-yard field goal. Immediately after the game, Ron Rivera announces his retirement from football. Losing to McCarthy in a December game with playoff implications is too much to bear. The Cowboys only need to win one of their remaining two games to take the East.

January 2 v. Arizona

No one is surprised by the Cardinals’ easy win. J. J. Watt and Chandler Jones took turns eating Tyron Smith up in sacking Dak Prescott six times and pressuring him another seven times in Arizona’s 38-17 victory. At one point early in the 3rd quarter, in desperation, Smith tackled Watt before the snap and claimed temporary insanity. McCarthy’s video challenge didn’t hold up. Arizona’s Kyler Murray threw for 310 yards and ran for another 81 yards. DeAndre Hopkins attempted to renegotiate his contract at halftime after blowing by Trevon Diggs for two TDs in the second quarter. He staged a second half holdout, but that only meant more balls for Larry Fitzgerald. Jerry Jones fires Dan Quinn after the game and calls Dave Campo to coordinate the Cowboys defense for the last game of the year.

January 9 @ Philadelphia
For the past 25 years, it seems the Cowboys are always one win away heading into the last game of the season. That game is always against a division opponent. And Dallas must win it to make the playoffs. With the addition of a 17th game in the NFL this season, the agony is prolonged for another week. The inevitable is dragged out for seven more excruciating days. We all know what’s going to happen because it happens every year. The 5-11 Eagles, with nothing to play for, beat the 8-8 Cowboys with everything to lose. Final score: 24-10. Jerry Wayne says it’s the most disappointed he’s ever been in his professional life. Again. Mike McCarthy says they saw lots of good things this year they can build on for the next season. Kellen Moore is thinking about dying his hair red so Jerry will give him the job. Dave Campo is at the Greyhound bus station. Cowboys fans claim the NFL rigged the schedule against Dallas with so many divisional games stacked together at the end of the year. Dez caught it.

Twenty-six years and counting. How ’bout them Cowboys?

Peace,

Allan

The Last 25 Years

Over the past 25 years, 1996-2020, the Dallas Cowboys have had only 12 winning seasons – that’s less than half. In the last 25 years, the Cowboys have appeared in zero Super Bowls, zero conference championship games, and have not won a single divisional playoff game. Zero.

By comparison, in the 26 years prior to ’96, the Dallas Cowboys appeared in eight Super Bowls and won five of them. They appeared in 14 conference championship games, and won a whopping 30 total postseason games. Did you catch that? From 1970 – 1995, the Cowboys played in more than half of the NFC conference championship games.

In the last 25 years, the Cowboys have fewer winning seasons than they had conference championship game appearances in the prior 26 years.

In the last 25 years, only six NFL teams have failed to win a divisional playoff game: Miami Dolphins, Washington Deadskins, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, and Dallas Cowboys. That’s good company right there.

Over the last 25 years, the most consistent thing in sports is that the Cowboys will not be relevant. Just as consistent is the certainty with which Cowboys fans declare every year that this is the year they break through and go to the Super Bowl.

So delicious.

Peace,

Allan

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