Clearly, I’m not that old. And I don’t really have the best memory ever. But this sure feels like the most painful year to be a Cowboy fan that I can possibly remember…
It would be FAR less painful if they were 0-13. That I can assure you. It would probably even be FAR less painful if they were something like 4-9 instead of the 7-6 that they are. There’s something about their ability to look decent, play great for stretches, and then play horrible for stretches that has made this season nearly unbearable to watch… Just when they get you sucked in, a little bit excited, and a little bit pleased, they find a new painful way to throw it all in your face.
I know this stat has been all over ESPN and the internet today, but it is so amazing that I had to put it here anyway… So excuse me if you’ve read it 5 times today…
The Dallas Cowboys were formed as a professional football team in 1960. 51 years ago. In the 50 seasons before this season, the Cowboys lost a grand total of 2 games in which they were leading by 12 points or more in the 4th quarter. 2. In 2011? Yup. It has happened THREE TIMES already. 3!
That is the absolute definition of painful. And stupid. And embarrassing.
And there’s really no lack of blame to pass around…
Clearly, the defense loses all ability to stop any team in the 4th quarter, so they seem to deserve the most for me. They have the ability to make ANY quarterback look like Joe Montana in the 4th quarter. They made Eli look like it yesterday, but he IS Joe Montana compared to the other idiots they have made to look good. This list include luminaries like Matt Moore, Kevin Kolb, Mark Sanchez, and a young man named Rex Grossman. Their inability to get pressure on the QB and defend anyone downfield is an Achilles’ heal that is not going anywhere.
But the blame doesn’t stop with them… The offense has also shown they have NO ability to control the ball for a few minutes and get a first down or two to actually kill off a game. We’ve seen this exact situation in more than half of the games this year. The play calling is rough. The play execution is worse. It’s nearly as much on them as it is on the defense.
And of course, Boy Wonder himself gets some of the blame. His antics with timeouts, with play calling, and with decisions has certainly made Jason Garrett look a lot more like Judd these days than the Princeton grad that he is. The Cardinals game was unbelievable, we all know, but even yesterday’s choices were not perfect.
There’s plenty of blame to go around, but that doesn’t make it any less painful.
Is this the Most Painful Year Ever to be a Cowboys fan? It just may be…
It was a rare amount of success for my sports teams this weekend, something that I’m sure hasn’t happened in many, many years… I haven’t actually figured out when the last time this happened was, but it may have been over a decade ago…
UVA Football won.
UVA Basketball won.
The Cowboys won.
The Flyers won.
The Redskins, Eagles, and Giants all lost.
Maryland Football lost.
In the same weekend.
I’m no statistician, but I HAVE to imagine the odds of all of that happening in the same weekend are pretty much infinity. And we were a Virginia Tech football loss away from a truly perfect sports weekend in my world.
What should I do? How should I celebrate? Not sure…
As the Cowboys were finishing off their drubbing of the Bills today, the girl says to me… ”You don’t seem too excited about it…”
She, sadly, was partially right. I was excited. But not as much as I should have been…
I was, and still am, quite excited over all of these great wins this weekend. And am feeling good about all 4 of these teams right now. Not like “championship good”, but generally good. Both UVA teams are heading in the right direction. The Cowboys at least continue to beat the teams they should (despite continuing to lose other games). And the Flyers continued their decent start and still seem to be on a good path to a playoff berth.
But what’s clear, and what was confirmed for me today, is that the losses, and especially the crushing losses, hurt WAY worse than the wins feel good. To put it another way, the lows seem to be a lot lower than the highs are high. And, honestly, I don’t know why that is… It’s not like losing is a new thing with these stable of teams I root for. I’m never surprised by losing. I just think I take it harder than I should and I don’t quite revel in the wins as much as I could. Probably a character flaw.
But this weekend? I don’t need to worry about that… We had a nearly perfect sports weekend.
Oh, and did I mention I had yet ANOTHER wonderful weekend with the fam? Beautiful weather. A trip to the aquarium. A smiling, walking, excited boy. And a beautiful wife. Things are good. Maybe if I just liked my job I could really claim to be (to steal a line from my man Lou) the luckiest man (man man man) on the face (face face face) of the earth (earth earth earth).
With only one tiny exception, I had a nearly perfect weekend. And, for that, I can give thanks to the girl, the boy, the weather, Merrifield Garden Center, the Arlington County Fire Department, Duncan Hines, and the UVA football team.
Let’s start with the boy and the Fire Department… Seems like a bad combo, right? Well, thankfully not… This was the weekend that the fire stations open their doors and you can visit, bring the kids, and play on the trucks. Let’s just say this was a little bit of heaven for the mudge. See it in pictures here.
And the UVA Football team? Well, they continue to be quite an enigma… After struggling MASSIVELY against a miserable Idaho team, and losing quite convincingly to a poor Southern Mississippi team, they go out and beat the toughest team on their schedule this year, Georgia Tech. And they did it rather convincingly, beating Tech at its own game. Running the ball well and playing solid defense. I’m not exactly sure how, but the defense nearly shut out the vaunted “triple option” that has put up more than 60 points twice this year and more than 40 four times. Kudos to Mike London and that defense, for sure… And, since this was Al Groh’s first visit back to Charlottesville since leaving, I would be remiss in not mentioning him. I’ll say this - I never really disliked Al, but I was quite glad to see his defense on the OTHER side of the ball this weekend. Big, great win Hoos.
How about the girl and Duncan Hines? Well, besides letting me sleep in this morning AND letting me take a shower with the curtain and door completely closed, she made some of the best blueberry muffins. I awoke to a deliriously great smell AND to a bowl just waiting to be licked clean. Flat out awesome. I can never be thankful enough.
And for the second straight weekend, we had nearly flawless weather, with temps in the 60s and 70s and a gorgeous blue sky. And for the second weekend in a row, we took advantage of it by spending lots of time outside and spending lots of time gardening. Yes, you read that correctly. The idiots that we are outside spent two weekend in a row tilling, composting, digging, planting, and mulching. You wouldn’t even recognize us if you tried. And I’m thinking the front of the house looks better than it has in a long, long time. A special “assist” goes to Merrifield Garden Center for providing me with the answers to all my stupid questions about what to buy, what to do, and what to water. They charge you some serious $$ there, but they make it worth your while with the help…
That “tiny exception”? That falls on the Cowboys, who couldn’t quite get it done against the best team on THEIR schedule this season, the Patriots. They pretty much ran this game for all 4 quarters, but gave Tom Terrific one too many chances, and he beat them with less than 30 seconds remaining. It’s hard to be too critical on the team for this loss, considering they held Tom and the Patriots to only 20 points, but I think it falls on the offense and the play calling. Too many red zone chances without points and too conservative play calling, both in the red zone and in those situations when they had a chance to close out the game. I recognize that Romo has made some killer mistakes, but you’ve got to trust the guy if you’re going to walk him out there as your starting quarterback. I think some of this needs to fall on Garrett and the play calling for sure.
If they could’ve closed out this game, it really would’ve been an absolutely perfect weekend. I guess I’ll just have to settle for 98.9% perfect. Which is hard to complain about…
Until next week…
Wow… Only the Bengals can out-dumb the Redskins…
How’s this for a nugget from the past…
“If the Bengals want to change their stance [on Carson Palmer], teams would be interested. But for the time being, they’re not budging. Keep in mind, a few years ago, the Bengals turned down two first-round picks for Ochocinco from the Washington Redskins. They waited, and now traded him to the Patriots for a fifth- and sixth-round pick.”
TWO first-round picks! Saved from their own stupidity by the stupidity of the Bengals…
(And yes, I fully recognize the hypocritical nature of this post considering my boys traded those same two first-round picks to Detroit for Roy Williams who clearly did not pan out, but I don’t miss opportunities to throw the Redskins under the bus.)
I turned 33 today.
By most accounts, 33 is a pretty generic, relatively insignificant age to be. There are no “names” for the day, no new permissions to get. You’re still closer to 30 than you are to 40. You’re still closer to 20 than you are to 50. Not really a bad place to be, but also your last year in your “early thirties”. I would imagine most people are neither put off nor enthralled by their 33rd birthday.
I, however, am far from “most people”.
I, in fact, think this is the perfect age, and would be perfectly happy to stay 33 for as long as humanly possible. The main reason why? 33 is, and always has been, my favorite number.
I’m not really sure the exact origin, but I’ve always been into 3’s, and, well, 33 has two 3’s. But in reality, I have a feeling my love for the number, whether or not it started with him, was completely iced by this guy:
Yes. Tony Dorsett wore #33 and from my earliest memory of him, I was hooked. On him. On the Cowboys. On the number 33.
I remember, season after season, making lists of every player on every football team that wore 33. If I got lucky, one of the 12-15 guys who they put into the Topps football card set was the 33-wearer for the team, making my identification easy. Being a running back number, you’d think there would have been LOTS of 33s, but interestingly, it was (and still is) nowhere near as popular as 32 or 34 was. Not sure why, but it added to my love of Tony and to the challenge of finding the 33 on each team. The only other superstar of the era sporting the 33 was Roger Craig of the hated 49ers. But mainly, I would yearn for the random special-teamers who would make it on TV on Sundays to try to catch a glimpse of Mr. 33.
Interestingly, 33 was a much more prominent number in the NBA during the same era… 3 of the arguably top 20 players in HISTORY were wearing 33 during the 80s, as Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Patrick Ewing, and Larry Bird all sported the double-triple. And if you like Scottie Pippen more than I do, you could say even 4 of the greatest. 33 got lots of love in the NBA. And I loved every second of it… Seeing Kareem take on Bird and Ewing spar with Scottie was always fun. Even our old pal Shaq wore 33 for one year with the Cavaliers in 2010, despite wearing 34 with the Lakers, 32 with the Magic, Suns, and Heat, and 36 with the Celtics.
(33 wasn’t as popular in baseball, but Mr. Switch Hitter Eddie Murray made it famous with the Orioles and then with my Mets. Sadly, I think Eddie, despite his short time with the team, was by far the best Met ever to wear the number. John Maine may be the 2nd, which is CLEARLY a step down.)
So sports clearly had an effect on my love of 33, but it continued long after Tony retired, Ewing and Bird hung it up, and the 80s ended. Even by the early 90s, when I started wearing 22 more, 33 still had a place in my life. And a place on our family room wall. Yup. I’m not sure how they ever allowed it, but my parents let me put up jerseys on the wall of the family room, highlighted by Tony’s 33. As you can see below, Mr. 33 is hanging on the wall over my left shoulder in this picture from my 15th birthday in 1993.
Mom - for this, I’m sorry…
And to this day, I’m still obsessed… Usernames of mine all over the internet tend to have a 33 as a suffix. Many of my passwords that require a number have a 33 in them somewhere. Our home WiFi key features a 33. I was deliriously excited to buy a house that had a 33 in it (and even more excited when it also had a 22 for my boy Emmitt). The number surrounds me and I’m pretty excited by it…
So, turning 33 brings with it some serious comfort and excitement. I’ve managed to stay employed at 33. I’ve managed to keep my son alive for a year at 33. I’ve even managed to keep a beautiful wife at 33. Not too bad. It will be a happy year and I hope it’s a great one for you, too!
(Think the mudge will fit in that little 33 jersey someday? Man I hope so…)
There’s either a joke or some irony in here somewhere… I’m just not sure I’m not smart enough to find it…
3 of the 4 teams that are still in contention in the AFC are employing kickers that the Cowboys cut at some point over the last few years.
- Billy Cundiff is kicking for the Ravens (and going to the Pro Bowl this year)
- Shaun Suisham is kicking for the Steelers
- Nick Folk, who the Cowboys cut in the middle of last year, is kicking for the Jets (and he kicked a game-winner last week as time expired)
This year? The Cowboys used their kickoff specialist to do the placekicking as well… How did he do? Well, he missed 25% of his field goals and missed 2 extra points, including one that cost them the game against Arizona.
Great moves Jerry. Awesome.
So, for a dead Thursday between the end of the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs and between the 4th BCS Bowl and the Final BCS Bowl, we had quite an interesting day in the football world today…
- The Cowboys hired Jason Garrett as their new head coach
- Andrew Luck may have made the biggest mistake of his life
- Jim Harbaugh has become the biggest name in coaching, with so little success
Jason Garrett Gets the Interim Tag Removed
In a move unlike Jerry Jones, he gave the head coach job to Jason Garrett on a full-time basis. Jason had been the interim head coach for the last 8 games and had been the head coach in waiting for the last few years, so it seemed logical, but I am still surprised. I really thought Jerry would chase the big splash name, like Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden (or even Jim Harbaugh - see #3). Instead, he did the rational and smart thing and hired the team guy.
I’ve been a Garrett fan for a long time, remembering him from when he was the outgoing stud quarterback when my sister got to Princeton (yes, I’ve got some smart siblings). He was the smart-kid backup behind Troy and for the Giants for a number of years before coming the “hot assistant” with the Cowboys. I think the team likes him and that he’s got good energy. And his first 8 games running the Cowboys were certainly better than the 8 that preceded them. They seemed to care when there was no reason to care and fight when there was no reason to fight.
I’ve always been a fan of taking a shot on the young up-and-coming guy than trying to rekindle magic from a retread. Even a retread as great as Bill Parcells or Bill Cowher. Kudos to the Cowboys and congrats to Jason. Clearly, he’s got his work cut out for him, because his offensive line is hurt, slow, and old, his secondary is not good, and his special teams (especially kicking) has left something to be desired. Can Jason kick a field goal and cover a wide receiver?!? If so, they’re set!
Andrew Luck Says He’s Returning to School
In a move that defies all logic, Andrew Luck, the QB at Stanford, said he’s forgoing the NFL Draft for this year and returning to Stanford. This comes during the same week that the Carolina Panthers said that they would make him the #1 pick in April’s draft if he made himself eligible. I think this is incredibly dumb.
Look, I’m not being short-sighted here. I recognize that Luck has it GOOD at Stanford right now. He’s coming off an incredible season in which Stanford won the Orange Bowl, lost only 1 game (to the possible national champion) and was considered for the national championship game. He was a Heisman candidate and one of the best QBs in the nation. And that’s all on the field… Off the field, I’m sure it’s just as good… He’s clearly the BMOC on a beautiful campus in arguably the most beautiful city in the world. He’s got a life that most people can’t imagine as the starting quarterback at a big school coming off of a winning season. I recognize how appealing that is. I remember loving college too, and I was never remotely living the life that Luck is living right now.
But let me tell you something… None of that is worth possibly giving up 50 million guaranteed dollars by being the first pick in the draft. Luck’s draft status can not possibly be any higher than #1 (obviously). There’s nothing but downside to him returning to school next year. His degree in architecture will be available to him for his entire life. That $50M may not be. And it’s not even about injury (which is obviously the biggest risk)… He could have a bad season on a bad team and drop out of the spot or even the first round. There’s a good chance that his coach Harbaugh will be leaving Stanford (see #3 below), so who knows what will happen next year. I don’t think Stanford can possibly have a better season than they did this past year. All of this points to only downside. Does he really think that he won’t have a good life as a millionaire NFL player living in the Charlotte area? Having been to both, Charlotte is clearly not Palo Alto, but it’s not a bad place. And when you have $50M, ANY place you go can be a nice place. He’ll be BMOC in a new city, forget just a campus.
I don’t wish Luck any harm here, and I do hope he has another great season and still goes #1 next year because he seems like a good guy. But I just think this is a terrible decision. Someone he trusts needs to talk him out of this…
Jim Harbaugh Has Become the Hottest Thing in Coaching
Jim Harbaugh is apparently more valuable to an NFL team than Bill Belichik. Or at least that’s what the Dolphins, 49ers, and the University of Michigan are saying. After coaching for a total of 7 years in college, and only 4 at the “major” level, he’s not apparently a hot commodity. He’s got a record of 58-27 and a bowl record of 1-1. What in that resume makes him worth $7M per year, which would be the highest salary of any coach in the league?
Look, I’ve got nothing against Jim Harbaugh. In fact, I like the guy. I remember liking him as a player in Chicago and Indianapolis because he seemed like a guy who was overachieving for his talents and making his team better with effort, brains, and hard work. He probably would be a great coach. But how do these teams know this from two good years at Stanford (that also happened to feature two Heisman candidates in Toby Gerhart and Andrew Luck)? The Dolphins, who still have a coach mind you, are flying all of the country just for a chance to court Harbaugh to be their coach. Clearly they’re seeing something I’m not… Hopefully (again), I’m wrong… Good luck to Jim and to the Dolphins…
So, I’m generally not a fan of the pending idea to expand the NFL playoffs by adding another team or two to each conference. I actually believe 6 is about the right size for a 16-team conference. But (of course there’s a but - did you really think I would write something otherwise?!?)…
But… The NFL needs to address the seeding issues. Pending the end of the game that is going on right now (Seahawks vs Rams), the New Orleans Saints, who are both the defending champs and an 11-5 team, will be going on the road to play the winner of the game. Doesn’t sound like a big deal until you realize that if the Seahawks win, they will be 7-9 and will be having a HOME playoff game, hosting an 11-5 team.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’ve got no problem with the winner of each division getting a spot in the playoffs. No matter how weak your division is (and clearly the NFC West is a joke this year), winning it is a nice accomplishment and deserves reward. But the division winners should NOT be automatically handed one of the top 4 seeds and, by default, a home game.
Home games should go by record only. If you’re 11-5, you should get a home game when playing a 7-9 team.
This happened a few years ago as the Colts were forced to travel halfway across the country to play the Chargers, despite having a much better record. They lost that game. And they should’ve complained more loudly. If the Saints lose next week, I really hope there’s some screaming for this rule to change. It’s no good.
Happy New Year!
By the way - While you may think I’d be happy with a nice season ending win over the Eagles, I think in reality I would’ve been happier with a loss. All that win did was cost the Cowboys at least 2, if not 4, draft spots. And for a team that needs lots of help, those draft spots will be quite useful. But that being said, beating the Eagles, even when they’re sitting nearly all of their starters, always feels good. Sorry dad.
Don Meredith died today.
I’m not sure whether Dandy Don was more well known for being the first iconic Dallas Cowboys quarterback…
…or for being the goofball alongside Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford in the Monday Night Football booth…
…but there’s no doubt he’ll be missed.
In my opinion, Don was really the first of the 5 truly iconic Cowboys quarterbacks in the franchise’s history so far, so he definitely leaves a hole behind. When a class of 5 loses 1, and it’s first, that’s certainly a sad day. One can only hope that Roger, Danny, Troy, and Tony make it out to his funeral to bid adieu to their fallen compatriot. That would’ve been one group I would’ve liked to have had dinner with.
RIP Dandy Don. We’ll miss you.
I hadn’t done one of these in a while, but this was one of those weekends that just had lots going on, so I thought it would be a good time to rekindle the “tradition”. And then I wanted to do it last night, but Tumblr decided there would be no blogging yesterday or today… So Mark, time to get to the water-cooler for a Tuesday morning edition of chatter…
“Unfortunately, the BCS wasn’t as busted as it could’ve been…”
Top-ranked Auburn and Oregon both won their games this weekend, completing their seasons undefeated and setting up a pretty clear #1 vs #2 game in the Championship Game in January. If Oregon would’ve lost, the real excitement would’ve begun, as the battle to take an undefeated TCU team or a one-loss “big conference team” like Stanford or Wisconsin would’ve begun.
“Nothing like seeing a 4-loss team in a BCS bowl. Especially one who lost to Temple.”
The worst part about the BCS this year is that UConn will be in the Orange Bowl, while teams like Boise State and Michigan State are shut out. This UConn team lost to Michigan and Rutgers and was SHUT OUT by the juggernaut that is Louisville football. It’s really a travesty. Look, I’m all in favor of the big conferences getting automatic bids due to their tougher schedules, but there MUST be a caveat. If the conference champion has more than 2 losses, the bowls should get the option to choose someone else. They can still choose that team if they want, but they shouldn’t have to. It’s just embarrassing.
“Kinda nice to see a little bit of the old Tiger huh?”
Tiger Woods found himself in contention for the first time all year. He had the best round (or within one shot) for the first 3 rounds and led by 4 going into the final round. Sadly, he ran out of steam on Sunday and was caught from behind by Graeme McDowell (the guy who won the US Open, in case you forgot). In my opinion, it was a shame to see him lose, but if nothing else, it was certainly entertaining seeing him in contention on the weekend. Even on a weekend overshadowed by football.
“Maybe those Cowboys should’ve fired cheerleader Wade a little earlier, huh?”
So the Cowboys won for the 3rdtime in 4 weeks under new head coach Jason Garrett. And when you consider that they had the Thanksgiving game against the Saints won before blowing it, they’ve been a totally team since the firing. Granted, Peyton Manning did NOT have his best game on Sunday, throwing 4 picks, of which 2 were returned for TDs, but the Cowboys still managed to get it done. Something they had NOT done for the first 8 weeks of the season. It’s just a shame they had to fall out of the playoff picture before getting it together.
“About time the Yankees ponied up for Derek Jeter.”
Derek Jeter finally signed a new contract with the Yankees, a 3 or 4 year deal (depending on a buyout) that can be worth up to $65M. Yes, Jeter probably wanted more money than he was worth statistically, but there are not many Derek Jeter’s out there, and this Yankees team needed to sign him. And when you consider how much money this team spends on BAD contracts, nickel and diming the face of their team for the last decade was just embarrassing and unnecessary.
“Think the Heat turned around? That’s what 4 bad teams will do for you…”
There’s nothing like getting to play the Wizards, Cavs, Pistons, and Hawks to turn around a struggling team. And the Heat, and the Three AmEGOs, got it just in time. Just as the world was starting to discuss if the Heat really could even make the playoffs, they got their bad teams and put together 4 wins. While I’m not going to root for this team, I really see no way that they don’t finish this season well. All new teams take time to gel, and with this many headcases on one team, it’s no surprise this may take a little while.
“Who knew UVA Basketball would be competitive?!?”
Ok, so maybe no one at your water cooler will care about this one, but I sure cared about it… After a stunning victory against Minnesota on the road in the Big 10 / ACC Challenge, the Wahoos followed it up on Sunday with ANOTHER road victory against in-state rival Virginia Tech. Now Tech is certainly not as good as the Gophers are, but beating a conference foe on the road is always a shock. I continue to be pleasantly surprised by this team. And with the Cowboys winning today also, it was quite a day for my teams… Maybe I should’ve played the lottery tonight!
Have a great week!