Sunday, September 19, 2010

Why Jerry Jones Will Never Win a Super Bowl With Jerry Jones as GM

Moments after the Minnesota Vikings caused the Dallas Cowboys 2009 season to come to a crashing halt over eight months ago, I made the following proclamation:
So I'm just going to make the following prediction:

This team will miss the playoffs next season and Wade will get fired.
It was predicated on the loss of draft picks from the ill-advised Roy Williams deal back in 2008. I knew back then that the offensive line wasn't up to snuff on that day. And this was with Marc Colombo and Kyle Kosier in the lineup.

And because of the free agent signing rules from last offseason, the Cowboys were hamstrung from being able to find a quality O-linemen.

So a unit that was collectively on the wrong side of 30 got no help. The 2nd most penalized player in the last five years, Flozell Adams, was let go. And the Cowboys acquired the most penalized player in the last five years, Alex Barron, but only to serve as a backup. Of course, Colombo and Kosier got hurt during training camp, forcing Barron into the lineup for the opener last Sunday night.

And when the Cowboys left him to basically fend for himself against Brian Orakpo...

You all know what happened.

And while I'm not going to bemoan the decision to draft Dez Bryant with the 24th pick last April, I will bemoan the lack of picks that have contributed to the Cowboys severe lack of depth. Not to mention, Dallas is starting to reap what it sowed in previous drafts by not being able to find offensive linemen.

To be sure, the Cowboys probably would have found themselves in this situation moreso for the latter reason than the former. It still takes time to develop offensive linemen in this league.

But that trade exhibited to me why Jerry Jones has no business being this team's general manager.

And after today's game, I expressed the following on Twitter:
Said it before, but it bears repeating. The #cowboys will not sniff another Super Bowl in Jerry Jones' lifetime.
Certainly not a lukewarm opinion. Anyway, I got taken to task for it by Adam McClosky, who fired back:
Is Nolan Ryan running off Daniels and Washington by meddling? Also, I wouldn't want a coach who thinks he doesn't answer to GM
I fired off something about Jerry doing Entourage this year and not having played at the pro level, like Nolan has. In retrospect, the Entourage thing was probably a bit of a cheap shot.

That having been said as it applies to my issues with the Roy Williams trade, Nolan Ryan certainly has input on personnel and drafting decisions. But he's been totally supportive of Jon Daniels and his draft philosophy ever since he stepped into his current role as President of the club. A philosophy that includes drafting as many quality arms as possible to use to either develop within the Rangers farm system, or to use as pieces in a trade.

Without that philosophy and the commitment to it, the Rangers wouldn't have Cliff Lee.

Now, this is a bit of an apples to oranges comparison when you consider the financial restraints that were put on JD by the mess known as HSG. And even under new ownership, it's not like Greenburg/Ryan is instantly going to shoot the payroll up over $100 million and eschew Daniels' philosophy.

Still, even if Nolan Ryan was given permission to push the Rangers payroll up to Yankee-like levels, do you think he'd eschew the current philosophy in favor of signing "flashy" players, like Jerry Jones is prone to do?

I think not.

And whether Jerry wants to admit it, most of the guys on the Cowboys roster were "Parcells" guys. At least in terms of the draft where Demarcus Ware, Tony Romo, Marion Barber, and Jason Witten were taken while Big Bill was here.

That is why I don't think the Cowboys will sniff another Super Bowl in Jerry Jones' lifetime. Or at least until he's physically incapable of performing the duties of the position any longer.

Because it's never too early to talk OU-Texas

Afterall, it's only 13 days away.

And after having watched both teams mosey out to 3-0 starts, I think I can say this much about what to expect October 2nd at the Cotton Bowl.

Expect a close, but unmemorable game. That's because unlike most of the games in this decade, this game probably won't have national title implications on it.

Oklahoma's struggled against Utah State, destroyed Florida State and the attempt by the WWL to hype up the Heisman candidacy of Christian Ponder, and followed that up with a disjointed 27-24 win over Air Force in which they had to depend on a few first downs from their offense late to secure the win.

Texas also has three wins under their belt. But like Oklahoma, you can't point to any one of the wins and necessarily say it was a solid effort. I'm sure any orange blood would be the first to point out to me that any win in the Big 12 South on the road is a good win.

I'd be inclined to point out that aside from the game clinching nine minute drive in the fourth quarter last night, the Horns offense was sloppy. Garrett Gilbert alone had three interceptions in the first quarter alone. One of which was returned 88 yards to get the Techsans back in the game.

About the only consistent thing either team has going for them is Texas' defense. When Mack Brown decides to hang up the headset (and for those who get tired head from all his pointless whining about stupid crap, it'll be a great day), rest assured that Texas won't miss a beat when Will Muschamp takes over.

His defenses are as feared as Mike Stoops' defenses were when he was Oklahoma's defensive coordinator in the early 00's. And it was a third quarter interception by his group that helped turn the tide last night against Tommy Tuberville's Red Raiders squad.

As much as I hate Texas, that might be the difference between these two teams come October 2nd.

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's Been Awhile Since I've Blogged

Primarily because my wife and I welcomed our second child into our world on March 17th, one Mr. Joseph Kenneth.

I'm not a big drinker myself due to family history. But I can scarcely think of what a child of partial Irish heritage would love more than to have their birthday on St. Patrick's Day.

He's so going to thank us in about 20 years, six months, and two weeks. Give or take a few days.

Anyway, he's settled in, and now that I've got another, ahem, machine that gets around my company's firewall, you'll probably see more blogging from moi. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tom Hicks' Legacy in Texas

On Saturday night, the news broke that Tom Hicks and the investment group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan had finally struck a deal to purchase the bulk of Hicks' remaining stake in the Rangers.

You needn't have looked any further than this thread over at Lone Star Ball to see just how badly Ranger fans were looking forward to this day. Myself, included, as I opined that one team was down, but there were two more to go.

Obviously, I realize Hicks is going to hold onto Liverpool FC until he can get a new stadium built for England's most storied football club of all time (sorry, Mancs). And the last time Hicks put the Stars up for sale, all he could fetch was a couple of chirps from his neighborhood crickets. So let's throw that pipe dream out the window.

As the days have passed, however, I am forced to admit to a certain degree that Hicks wasn't as bad an owner as some are making him out to be. Part of this partial turnabout is due to Jamey Newberg's latest article, where he points out...

Hicks gets far too much criticism from the mainstream media, who choose not to recognize the guts and foresight it took to make Jon Daniels, who at the time had less than five years in baseball, his general manager, and the patience and lack of ego it took to authorize the plan that Daniels presented to him in May 2007 to trade Mark Teixeira and shift focus and resources to scouting and player development and a wholesale effort to load up on young talent through the draft and international market and trades, a philosophy that’s a lot less flashy and far more gradual than many owners would have signed off on. 


The Herschel Walker trade wasn’t the Herschel Walker Trade until the Cowboys turned the Minnesota draft picks into Emmitt Smith and Darren Woodson and Russell Maryland and Kevin Smith and three Lombardi Trophies. The Teixeira trade is no Herschel Walker Trade – yet. But there’s no question that without it, this franchise wouldn’t be in nearly as good a position as everyone agrees that it is. Hicks should get some credit for believing in, and consenting to, the plan that Jon Daniels and his crew proposed and have now been executing for two very good years.

Don’t count on the general columnists recognizing Hicks’s role in that, however.

Or acknowledging in print the millions of Hicks dollars that may not have gone to player payroll (a favorite topic of the media, rarely mentioning Ben Sheets or Torii Hunter or Daisuke Matsuzaka or Barry Zito or Carlos Delgado as free agent acquisitions he has consistently greenlighted even though they’d have busted the budget) but did go to annual decisions to pay out of slot to pave the way for the drafting and signing of the right high school and college players (Teixeira, Derek Holland, Justin Smoak, Taylor Teagarden, Julio Borbon, Jake Brigham, Neil Ramirez, Marcus Lemon, Robbie Ross, Clark Murphy, Johnny Whittleman, Kyle Ocampo, Matt Thompson, and others), to outspend the competition in Latin America (examples: Martin Perez, Fabio Castillo, Cristian Santana, and Richard Alvarez, plus the aggregate of a Preller/Welke/Batista class like 2006’s Wilmer Font/Wilfredo Boscan/Kennil Gomez/Carlos Pimentel/Geuris Grullon/Macumba haul), to pay top dollar to make sure we had the hitting coach and pitching coach we’d zeroed in on, and to hire Nolan Ryan.

Hicks also authorized Jon Daniels, on many an occasion, to go above slot when it came to signing draft picks to help stock what Baseball America termed last year, the top farm system in the Majors. Not to mention, he actually stuck with a Daniels-approved plan instead of trying to emulate the flavor of the month, be it Florida, Tampa Bay, or the White Sox.

That all having been said, the club was about to hit a glass ceiling that I'm not sure they would have been able to break. And that's all due to Hicks' financial struggles.

That's not to say that Greenburg and Ryan should start trying to compete with the Yankees, Red Sox, or even the Anaheim Angels in terms of free agent spending. Afterall, I still hold true to the belief that the best way to build a winner is to fill holes first by looking from within your own farm system. Any holes that need to be filled after that, you fill through free agency.

And as Hicks found out in the 90's and early 00's, it's extremely difficult to financially compete with the Yankees. My other favorite team, the Red Sox, has a hard enough time, themselves, keeping up. And they've got a payroll approaching the $130 million.

Fortunately, the bar for Greenburg and Ryan won't be nearly that high. I'd settle for a payroll in the $80 million to $90 million range. And a commitment to a consistent approach.

Fortunately for Ranger fans, Hicks had the decency to at least hold up that end of the bargain. And the Rangers will be all the better for it in the long haul.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Vikings 34 - Cowboys 3

Troy Aikman said he thought the team that could best protect it's quarterback would be the team that would win the game. And after each team's first series, both defensive lines had an impact on 3rd down when Ray Edwards stripped Tony Romo and the Kevin Williams recovered the ball on their own 35 yard line.

Minnesota's offense took over and went three and out after Demarcus Ware sacked Brett Favre on third down. The next time the Dallas defense sacked Favre, it was already 17-3 and the Vikings defense had asserted their will on the Cowboys' offensive line.

Dallas' best chance to win this game was gone after the first three drives produced a grand total of three points. I don't think the Romo fumble on the first drive hurt because Dallas' defense was able to get the Vikes to go three and out. But to not get anything out of the second drive (and not go for it on 4th down when the run game was gashing the Vikings' defense) and to not be able to punch the ball in on the third drive when they had to settle for their only points of the game?

That was a killer.

A month ago, Dallas took the crowd out of the game in New Orleans by scoring on their first two drives of the game. I think that allowed them to win that night.

Not being able to jump out to a quick start today killed any chance they had of winning the game.

Now I suppose you could look at the lopsided score and suggest this was as bad as the 44-6 debacle in Philly that ended the year for the Cowboys last year.

In some ways it was. I'm still dumbfounded at how bad the offensive line played and how Gerald Sensabaugh probably still doesn't know Sidney Rice caught that TD pass in the first period. He gets his head around, and he might even have a chance to intercept it.

But unlike against Philly, I still think Dallas had a fighter's chance to get back in this game. Aside from the Favre to Rice TD, the defense played rather well. through three quarters and finally gave in in the fourth. Against Philly, they were out of it almost from the word go, and then it snowballed downhill from there.

Now Jason Garrett is going to get some blame. And he probably deserves some, like on the pitch out to Marion Barber. What that play was supposed to accomplish, I'm not entirely sure.

But when your offensive line is getting used and abused by what's probably the best defensive line in football, there's not a lot you can do, playcalling wise, to counter that.

And as we look to the future, I'm not sure what the Cowboys will be able to do to upgrade their offensive line. Because they made the final 8, they're subject to the stupid free agent rule that prevents them from signing any free agents unless the lose one first. Thanks Roger. Ass.

And because some moron owner decided to trade away a third round, sixth round, and seventh round pick this season for a spare wide receiver, the Cowboys are a little limited in the draft in April.

So I'm just going to make the following prediction:

This team will miss the playoffs next season and Wade will get fired.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cowboys-Vikings Preview

Mike Fisher notes that he successfully convinced a newspaper he worked with years ago (the Startlegrame, presumably?) to do away with the stupid matchup chart.

You know, which team had the edge at the QB, RB, WR, etc. positions?

His reasoning was simple. Tony Romo isn't going up against Brett Favre, head to head. He's going up against the Vikings pass defense just as Favre is going head to head against the Cowboys defense.

Now, if you want to make a position by position comparison and used it to determine which team has the more prolific weapons at their disposable, I suppose you could that.

To me, though, this game may come down to which team can protect it's QB better. I say that because I think Dallas could do a slightly worse job protecting Romo, but still come away with the win, if only because Minnesota's pass defense was shredded in December by the likes of Kurt Warner, Matt Moore, and Jay Cutler.

And no, I don't buy the 'they didn't have anything to play for' excuse, just as I wasn't buying it from the Cowboys two years ago after the Giants dispatched the Cowboys at Texas Stadium in this same playoff round.

Against Favre, I'd still give the Cowboys improving secondary a chance against Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, and Bernard Berrian. Though that glaring mismatch between Visanthe Shiancoe and the Cowboys' linebackers could prove to be problematic as the game wears on tomorrow.

The only reason I'd give the Vikes a chance in this one is simply because they're playing at home where they're 8-0. Albeit, partially because of a perfect mark saving catch by Greg Lewis in the back of the end zone against San Francisco.

But it's clear that Minnesota is much different team at home than they've been on the road, where they lost their last three road games and finished with a 4-4 mark. It's also clear that the noise the Cowboys will face tomorrow will probably be the most deafening crowd noise they've faced all year.

Will you be able to handle it, Flozell and Jason? Because this game may come down to their ability to handle the crowd noise and, specifically, for Flozell to be able to contain Jared Allen. If he can't, both Allen and Kevin Williams may have a field day in harrassing Romo.

And the Cowboys will be going home.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I try not to blog too much on politics on a sports blog

For one, politics are extremely divisive these days.

That said, I think we can all agree that the following pols/political commentators said some really stupid things this week:

Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, and Danny Glover.

But the dumbest comment of the weak? That belongs to Martha Coakley, a Democrat who is running in the special senatorial election in Masschusetts against Republican Scott Brown. The winner will finish out the term of the late Ted Kennedy.

That's right, she accused Curt Schilling, noted Red Sock great but also political fly in the ointment conservative (especially since he lives in the uber-liberal land known as Boston), a Yankees fan.

That's not her most egregious error, however.

Boston, MA - Thomas "Hockey Dad" Junta was sentenced today to 6 to 10 years in prison for killing Michael Costin during the course of a fight at a hockey rink. Another senseless death may have resulted from the manslaughter case, say some doctors, because the district attorney overruled a request from Costin's family to donate his heart in a transplant to save another person's life, according to an article in the January 25, 2002 issue of the Boston Globe.

"Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley blocked the donation of Costin's heart after he was diagnosed clinically brain-dead," writes Sean P Murphy of the Globe, "to preclude any possibility that his assailant's lawyer might contend at the trial that Costin died of a pre-existing heart condition rather than the beating."

Although the move may have made sense as a matter of legal strategy, Murphy notes, some doctors say that a patient was probably denied a heart transplant because of it, and that preserving the heart would not have strengthened the prosecution's case any further "because it was demonstrably healthy, and transplant surgeons would have rejected it if any defects were discovered." The medical evidence, they argue, showed overwhelmingly that Costin died from head trauma and that his heart was fine, and that would have been enough to counter any doubts raised by the defense by questioning the cause of death.
If this woman somehow wins this election, it'll be due to the fact Massachusetts is one of the bluest states in the land. Because, honestly, this is one of the worst political campaigns I think I've ever seen.