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1/22/2005

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Championship Game Predictions

NFL Championship Weekend is here. We have the NFC's Falcons @ Eagles and the AFC's Patriots @ Steelers. Who's gonna win?

Obviously I am biased, and absolutely hate the Eagles with a passion, so naturally I want them to lose their 4th straight championship game, that would be great. Unfortunately, I think this may be the year the get over the hump against the Falcons. I do hope the Eagles lose though.

NFC Prediction:
Falcons @ Eagles
Falcons 20 Eagles 31

In the AFC we have a great showdown between two powerhouses. The Steelers will host the Patriots. This is a no brainer for me. The Patriots win this game. Sure the Steelers one the first time around, but we're talking about the defending Champions coached by Belichick & Co. Belichik WILL have the Patriots ready and the players are ready to show people why they should not have forgotten about the Patriots in these playoffs. The Big Ben winning streak will come to an end.

AFC
Patriots @ Steelers
Patriots 33 Steelers 26

These predictions could be wrong, and remember the old adage, Any team can win on any given sunday...

Upcoming: SuperBowl Prediction then Senior Bowl & Early Draft Talk

1/14/2005

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Season's End Player Grades & Analysis

In this article we'll breakdown the major players of 2004, 1st Teamers/Notables and their performance.

QBs
Vinny Testaverde - let's face it Vinny simply did not do well at all. Our offensively held its own and actually did a pretty good job blocking for Vinny, but he simply was way too inaccurate and killed drives in virtually everygame this year. Old age and rookie like mistakes from Vinny make it hard for fans to have hope should Vinny return as a starter in 2005.
Grade: D


Drew Henson -
what can be said here, we did not see enough of him to make a solid sound judgement on the rookie. One thing is for sure, when he did get his chance it was exciting. He has a strong arm and nice velocity. We'll hope he can start for us in 2005
Grade: Incomplete

Tony Romo -
same as Drew Henson in regards to playing time. He played well in preseason, but did not play a single down in the regular season. Could be a good candidate for NFL-Europe. For Romo, he's in a different situation. I think Romo will be the one to goto NFLE. Same boat as Hutch last year, we know he's going to be a backup, so it's time to take a closer look with NFLE to see if we will keep investing time in Romo.
Grade: Incomplete

RBs
Julius Jones -
A broken shoulder blade sidelined Julius for about half the season, but when Julius came back he came back with a roar! Julius instantly quieted the critics, and became an instant impact player for us. Julius has youth, strength, quick burst, elusiveness, power, and perserverance to show the world he is the man. Estimates show that if Julius would have played all season, we probably would have made a better run than what we did in 2004. Julius is here, so get ready for 2005, he's going to make defenses shiver.
Grade: A

Eddie George -
All along we knew Eddie would be the backup, but with the injury to Julius we were forced to start a backup type Rb in his place. No disrespect to EG, but his time has passed. He is one of the classiest players in the league, and even when his carries were taken with the return of Julius he knew his place and did not say much. I actually feel sorry for George, that's no way to end a career, but that's how it is. Eddie, thanks for being aboard and good luck to you in 2005.
Grade: D

ReShard Lee -
When Julius was out and George was struggling to gain any yardage, fans wanted Lee in the game. In the preseason he sure looked the part, in fact he looked really quick and impressive. Only problem is that he fumbles and a we all know a fumbling back won't do much in this league. Appeared to be in Bill's doghouse most of the year. Lee did ok in the return game, and in 2005 he made have to stepup if he wants to make the team.
Grade: C-

FBs
Darian Barnes -
played most of the year, but not much production coming out of the backfield, decent blocker, but overall, not much here to rave about.
Grade: C-

Rich Anderson -
played RB/FB this year, injuries really hampered Richie's effectiveness in 2004. He did not make plays like he did in 2003, a major droppoff in production. Aging and injuries could lead Richie to retire.
Grade: C

Lousaka Polite -
barely played anything, was on and off the practice squad. Thought by some to be a younger version of Richie Anderson, he can catch out of the backfield, and has more speed than Barnes. We'll see what happens to Polite in 2005
Grade: Incomplete

TEs
Jason Witten -
oneword...'badass' we have a catching TE, finally. Tough as nails, makes plays, plays injured, you won't see Witten pussie out like Shockey. Witten had great offensive production and shattered Cowboys Fan Favorite Jay Novacek's receptions record. Could have been that he carried more load due to injuries to the WRs. Anyway you slice it, Witten comes to play everydown and is an integral part of this team.
Grade: A+

Dan Campbell -
Campbell is a deceptively good catching TE. His injury was a loss in regards to his game experience and his good blocking in the running game. Campbell's return in 2005 will be greatly appreciated.
Grade: Incomplete

Sean Ryan -
more of a straightup blocking end. Ryan was on and off the practice squad, but cracked into the starting 53 and did some blocking for us, but nothing more than a blocker. His improvement in 2005 preseason will be a break or make for Ryan.
Grade: C-

WRs
Keyshawn Johnson -
he came in to do what we expected him to do. Make plays, take hits, catch the damn ball. Keyshawn's load was increased with Glenn's injury and Key stepped it up. He's not going to be the deep threat or the speed WR that makes exciting plays, but he is very productive and his return in 2005 will be a great thing for whomever is throwing to him.
Grade: A

Terry Glenn -
I'd go out and say Glenn is an impact player, and his injury really dealt our offense a heavy blow. Glenn still has great speed, and playmaking abilities. Gleen is our deep threat, but with the foot injury it will be interesting to see if he can recover fully in 2005, let's hope so, we need Glenn back in 2005.
Grade: A

Terrence Copper -
a rookie who made the team with his special teams plays and tackles, but additionally, Copper made some decent catches when he was given the chance. He has size and speed and has potential to do something more for us in 2005. FA and the draft will effect what we do with him.
Grade: C

Patrick Crayton -
another rookie that made some plays for positive yardage. Fans were calling for Crayton when the return game struggled. Crayton was even cut at one time during the season, enraging many fans and baffeling many, but Crayton passed waivers and was re-signed. Craytong came back and made the starting 53 and held his own.
Grade: C

Randal Williams -
what can be said here, many fans including myself were calling for RW to make a splash in 2004, but he simply faded away and did not do anything, dropped passes and was totally ineffective. The Preseason standout will not make this team in 2005.
Grade: D-

Dedric Ward -
horrible play in the return game. Inneffective play. Has been cut since the end of the season and that speaks enough.
Grade: F

Quincy Morgan -
say what you will about the "AB for Morgan" trade, what's done is done. time to move on. Do you see Morgan as a starting WR with the Cowboys? He seemed to be missing in action for most of the season. He has some potential, but what does that even mean? This guys has been in the league for (4) years already. He's either going to do something or not by now and the time he has had with us has not shown me much to be optimistic.
Grade: D

Offensive Line
Flozell Adams -
possibly one of the most disappointing players this season, what happened to the ProBowl play from 2003. In 2004, "The Hotel" was vacant. It sure felt like Flo was guilty of an offsides charge in virtually everygame, this may not be true, but that's what sticks out the most from Flozell - the constant offsides calls that would kill drives, couple these senseless penalties with Vinny's horrid play and this spelled utter doom for many drives.
Grade: D

Larry Allen -
what a difference an offseason made for LA. Remember that meeting that LA had with Parcells before the start of the year. What was said in that meeting? Who knows, but one thing is for sure, Larry Allen played like the LA we have grown to depend on. Solid play, solid blocking and utter domination of many of the best defensive players in the league. Allen was back, and earned another Pro Bowl nod. Allen got it done.
Grade: A

Al Johnson -
in his second year at center, but pretty much a rookie since he was on IR his rookie year with a knee injury. Johnson was beat on occasion, but he showed determination and held the starting center position with a vice grip and held it the rest of the year. Johnson steadily played better in each game, however, he still needs more work on reading defensive packages and blitzes. With a full season under his belt and another offseason coming up, Johnson should be poised to do even better in 2005.
Grade: C+

Andre Gurode -
one of those 3rd year players that needed to show something, and he did show us something...he is not going to be here in 2005. Horrible run blocking and pass blocking hurt Gurode, and seemed lost most of the season, ultimately Gurode was benched.
Grade: D

Torrin Tucker -
a virtual clone of Gurode, bad blocking, penalties, and poor decision making. May have played his way out of the Cowboys team as a whole.
Grade: D

Defensive Line
Greg Ellis -
the quiet leader stepped it up and really cranked it up another notch towards the end of the season. Ellis has been a consistent player for us for years now, more help on the line could lead to a pure explosion from Ellis. Ellis made plays, forced fumble, sacks and more all year long. A true asset on the defensive line.
Grade: A

La'Roi Glover -
another solid year and another Pro Bowl nod only confirm what we already know. Up the middle pressure and runstopper that causes havoc in the deep trenches. Give Glover a solid tackel next to him and the re-emergence of a doomsday defense could rear its head once again.
Grade: B+

Leonardo Carson -
virtually ineffective next to Glover, not much production out of Carson or his backup. Some fans even have a hard time remembering who the player is that plays next to Glover..."what's the name of that guy that plays next to Glover?" Exactly my thoughts here, where was Carson all year? Unfortunately Carson ended a horrible year with the worst play of the year, the stupid unsportsman like conduct play for 15yards, when he hit Manning.
Grade: D-

Marcellus Wiley -
held in high regard and spoken highly off during the offseason by Bill, but this guy was a clone of Ekubust if not worst. We replaced Ekubust with a Free Agent Bust. Whether he was held back from be the rusher he said he was going to be is not really known for us for a fact. In any event, Wiley did not do anything too noticeable. He seemed to do more in the last games of the year, but it was too little too late. Wiley's chances to stay on the team are up in the air despite signing a fat contract last offseason.
Grade: F

LBs
Dexter Coakley -
a defensive star during his early carerr, Coakley's speed and playmaking skills have steadily taken a downward spiral. At one point he was benched in favor of Bradie James, however Dexter was back in. He held his own, but does not appear to be in the future plans for a Parcells ran team. Parcells has steadily been bringing in bigger LBs which he has always been accustomed to. Coakley's payrate for 2005 is really high and he could be a cap casualty in the offseason. Dexter has been a loyal soldier and done well for us.It will be sad to seem him off the team.
Grade: C-

Dat Nguyen -
didn't appear to play the same as in 2003, he numbers are close but the play was a little off it seemed, a few missed tackles here and there, but so did most of the other defensive players. Dat remains a very solid rock at MLB. He's a keeper in my book. Parcells likes him, fans like him, and he he one of the more consistent players on the roster.
Grade: B

Al Singleton -
did he play? Jokes aside, I think Al's days are also numbered, he's just too slow, missed tackles and an average LB at best. He's been a decent stop gap, but its time to bring in someone to take over.
Grade: C-

CBs
Terence Newman -
appeared to be in the perverbial "sophmore slump," but then again it could have also been a result of the new rule that crippled many of todays star cornerbacks as well. With another year under his belt and another year with this new rule in place Newman will be back to domination. A reversal of the new rule will be discussed in the offseason by the many officials and a rule reversal would be great news.
Grade: C+

Lance Frazier -
replaced injured Pete Hunter, Bruce Thornton, and Tyrone Williams by midseason, Frazier has a lot of potential, scrappy corner with confidence and swagger. Frazier will be retained and will challenge for the starting spot against a full roster of CBs. If anything Frazier could also be moved to the nickel CB. We'll see what happens/
Grade: C-

Pete Hunter -
was the favorite by Parcells to start opposite TNew, but when it came to play, Hunter was burned on several occasions in preseason and was eventually injured very early in the season. Hunter will be in the mix, but will have a hard time making the team if we sign a FA or draft a CB, same goes for the rest of the CBs on the roster.
Grade: C-

Bruce Thornton -
rookie from Georgia with leadership skills, took awhile to get in the game, but he too was shelved with a season ending knee injury. Potential, but did not see enough to know what we have in Thornton.
Grade: Incomplete

Nate Jones -
a rookie that actually played throughout the season, mainly on special teams and in nickel and dime situations. Not much of any impact by Jones. a late round pick in 2004 will still have a hard time making the team if more CBs are added.
Grade: C-

Jacques Reeves -
same as Nate Jones, word for word.
Grade: C-

Safeties
Roy Williams -
thought to have had a slump season by some. To me Roy played well and still earned a Pro Bowl Nod for 2004. Roy was forced to play alone backing up the CBs, the safety next to him were nonimpact and non existant for the most part. Roy was kept out of the box where he made a lot of plays the previous years, he struggled to make a big splash; however, Roy is still our best psychological weapon on the team. WRs are always aware of Roy Williams, you can ask several players that failed to complete their seasons. Roy Williams will hurt you, plain and simple. Being hurt is painful, and no one likes pain. A revamped Defensive Line could bode very well for Roy win 2005, we'll see him in the box again and more domination in the secondary as well.
Grade: B+

Darren Woodson -
what can be said of our fellow compradre? He never could recover from his neck surgery and this led to his retirement. Woodson is one of the best players the Cowboys organization has and will ever have. Loyalty is something Woodson was, a dieing breed. You will never see another Woodson again. Woodson is head above the shoulders of the rest in the league.
Grade: A+ for all the years!

Tony Dixon -
a 2nd round bust, its official. Dixon played crappy and will not be a Cowboy anymore, sorry to be so quaint, but that's as simple as its going to get here. thanks!
Grade: F-

Lynn Scott -
I'll take Scott over Dixon any day, but in the end Scott is not going to be Woodson's replacement, no one can replace Woodson, but as far as someone with playmaking ability its not Scott. He made some decent tackles for average type player, seemed to give it his all.
Grade: C-

Keith Davis -
listed as a safety, but this year Davis made his mark in special teams, the re-ermegence of a special teams specialist was back and it was in Keith Davis. Davis was on the bubble to make the team, he was almost left for dead when he was given a second shot when he was sent to NFLE. He shined in NFLE and cameback to join the Cowboys and made the team, and ever since then Davis shined on Special Teams. Parcells has hinted he may give the standout a shot at safety where he excelled in Europe as a playmaker and ballhawk, then again Parcells may be reluctant to take Davis off special teams. We'll see what happens. One thing is for sure, if we don't draft or sign a Safety, don't be surprised. Davis may just get his shot.
Grade: B+

Kickers
Billy Cundiff -
there's a reason we brought in competition for Cundiff in 2004, unfortunately no one stepped up to beat him, sounds bad now that we look at it that way considering how bad Cundiff played this year. I want to feel condfident when the field goal team goes on the field, not anxious and nervous. Cundiff kicked his way off the team.
Grade: D-

Mat McBriar -
oddly enough this was another diamond in the rough... a punter of all things in 2004. That's right, McBriar did pretty damn good in his first year with us as our punter. This guy can boot those punts out. Good pickup here, with more improvement in special teams and the punter, teams will be pinned back on a regular basis next year.
Grade: A

Notable Players to Watch:
Some players to watch in 2005 will be Bradie James, Kalen Thornton, Ryan Fowler, and Scott Shanle. If there are changes made in regards to Coakley and Singleton, some of these guys could be big contributors on defense whether its a replacment for a departed starter at LB or whether its contribution is some sort of 3-4 setup or 3-4 hybrid.

Also, keep your eyes on
Jacob Rogers and Stephen Peterman, these guys appear to be slated to battle it out for starting spots on that Oline. Rogers played some on special teams, backed up Tucker most of the year and later backed up Flozell at LT at the end of the year (his natural spot) With Gurode likely gone, we should see the scrappy Peterman back to make a serious run at RG.

What else could we see in store for the Oline?

I'm making the prediction that Parcells will make the decision to move Flozell to RT and start Rogers at LT, of course this all depends on the outcome of the draft and free agency. If nothing changes, we could see the lineup like this Rogers - Allen - Johnson - Peterman - Flozell. Its not a far fetched idea either, Flozell played RT in college and his rookie year, so it would not be a big deal to make the move. Rogers excelled at USC blocking for Palmer and Leinart, only downside is that Rogers has had several operations throughout his football career.











1/03/2005

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A Losing Season Good For Future

I'm about as Die Hard as any other Cowboys Fan, but now that the dust has settled and I begin to comprehend what happened to us in 2004, I think deep inside this is not as bad as it feels. All our hopes were high, maybe too high, that's why the let down and mistakes are so amplified. This being said, our 6-10 record will help us out for the 2005 season. No one hopes for wins, but we do have a high pick, around #11, and our Buffalo pick is around #18 or so...there are some definite impact players that will come to us at those picks. In addition, our losing season will be motivation for coaches and players to get this thing going into the playoffs in 2005. Look, we have some positive to look at, especially with regards to the young players on this team. in 2005, we'll have Newman back at CB, with more experience and more experience with the new rules that were set in place this year, RB is not a question mark for 2005 - Julius Jones is the real, so that is set, Witten will be in year 3yr, can you imagine what Witten will do in 2005.

Our offseason focus will probably be on defense whether its via the draft and/or free agency. The defensive unit needs a few more tweaks, and not some stop gaps, we need proven playmakers.

Let's learn from the mistakes and experients of 2004 and get going for 2005!

Next: Player Report Cards/Analysis