I truly wish I had more time this season to report to you guys the things I see on a game by game basis, I just don't. I've got this new scouting business and all the stuff they are asking me to do, and my dad has started a machine shop and has asked me to help with it. I'm busier than I've ever been in any point in my life. However, I set aside time tonight specifically to write this for those of you who have been PMing me asking all kinds of questions. I haven't forgotten about you guys, or given up on this team, just have to much work to do. Let's get started shall we. Not Quite Romo - The Tony Romo I've seen in film study this year is not the Tony Romo I saw all of last year. He's not the same player, and it's really not close. Last years Romo could have won you a Super Bowl with the right players around him. This years Romo might lead you to the playoffs and have a semi-exciting loss in the first round if he had the right players around him. He's missing. Missing throws, missing reads, missing Laurent Robinson. I wrote last year that if Dez didn't improve dramatically on the mental part of the game that Romo would start ignoring him. Well folks, we're there. Romo has gone into full blown Dez ignore mode. He has consistently ignored a wide open and beyond the sticks Dez for a shorter throw to someone (anyone) else. His passes are sailing on him. For the first time in his entire career, that playmaker magic is all but gone. I've even seen him consciously giving up on plays this season. I don't know what it is, maybe it's age, maybe it's being a father, maybe it's all the people in his ear, I dunno, but he's not the same player. I cannot begin to describe to you how much it hurts to say this. This is a player I've loved and defended since day one. I saw him throw one pass in a preseason game against Jacksonville before anyone knew who he was, and I instantly said to my friend "that right there, that's what we need. Did you see that? His back foot hit on his drop and the ball came out, on time, accurate, and to the right person." I started following him from that moment, and started believing he was the one to put us back on top shortly after. That faith started wavering for the first time this season. I'm not saying it's over, he could turn it around, but he has a hole to climb out of. Speaking of Holes - I said it last year, and I'll repeat it again. Miles Austin has a hole in his catch radius. It's shoulder wide, starts at the top of his numbers and ends at the top of his face mask opening. If you throw the ball that small area, he's gonna drop it every time. It's uncanny. Go back and look at his drops, it's flat out crazy. And speaking of Austin, he's so miscast in this offense it's insane. He's a slot WR, that's what he is. He doesn't need to be on the outside. He can win out there, and he can have success out there, but that's not what he's built to do. He's a big slot guy. My guess is that his designation as an outside guy has to do with a combination of his salary and a lack of overall talent as his position. This guy needs to be used in this offense the way Wes Welker is used in his. On the inside down after down creating mismatches and making life easier for the guys outside. Sigh - Dez. Sigh. That's all I can really say. I saw it coming, I tried hard to rationalize and say if he does this, if the Cowboys do that, etc. I think the overall truth is, that despite his immense talent, and his what seems to be a sincere desire to get better and the fact that he plays with more heart than the rest of the team combined...the man just isn't smart enough to be an NFL WR. Now, I have no proof of this, all of that is based purely on film eval. Yeah, he's gonna do some awesome things, and he'll have a big game or two before it's all said and done, but it won't be consistent enough to rely on. For some reason people don't seem to understand how important intelligence is in the NFL, especially at WR. You don't have to be a genius, but a certain level is needed. As I said before, I haven't completely given up on Dez, and I will never completely give up on any player (that's the coach in me), but there isn't much faith left. Murray and Felix - Last year Kosier almost single handedly killed our running game with an assist from Costa, this year its Ryan Cook, with an assist from Vickers. Murray is clearly the better player, and like many I've been really down on Jones this season. He still has some unique skills, but it's just not enough. I have a little observation on him to share with you guys. I've noticed that when he has the ball with a defender in front of him and he's jogging/running slow trying to set the guy up for a move, it literally NEVER works. He's tackled every time. Now, when he busts through the line at full speed and there is a defender on him, he makes guys miss at full speed at a rate I don't think I've ever seen. It's usually the opposite, if I have time to set a guy up, I can make him miss, but if I'm running full speed ahead, there isn't time to set a guy up. Watch for that. Especially those flare routes, when is the last time he made someone miss on those? Can't wait for Murrays return. Vickers - Hasn't been even a portion of what he was advertised to be. Can't believe how average he's been. I have no clue why. He isn't blowing up LBs with anywhere near the frequency we were told he would. So far this is a total waste of a roster spot. John Phillips could do his job with pretty much the exact same mediocre results. Free - Started out like crap, progressed to below average and is now fairly steady. If he can just maintain his level of play where it is right now, he won't be the reason the offense can't move the ball. If he keeps improving he could be the reason why the offense takes off. Berny - The very definition of average. Serviceable. Cook - Pretty good pass protector, abysmal run blocker. Might be better at RT. Admirable the way he's filled in this season. Would be excellent depth. Livings - Exactly as advertised, up and down. He has very good moments, and some not so stellar moments. He and Smith still haven't gelled. Seems to be getting a little more consistent as the season wears on. Would probably be helped tremendously by better C play. Smith - Has gotten better all season. Still has both mental and physical gaffes each game. Has all pro potential. Still just a kid, and definitely still learning. Fun to watch, his athletic ability is unreal. Phil Costus - His injury has cost us the first half of the season. I told you guys last season that people were being way too hard on him. Now you guys know what truly terrible C play looks like (at least in the running game). Not only was he not nearly as bad as people said last year, he's one of, if not the most improved player on the team this season. What little playing time he's had this season has been excellent. I'm talking top 6-8 C in the league excellent. It was always a technique thing with him, he has to play technically perfect because of his short arms. If he does though, he has everything else you want. It's too damn bad he's missed so much time, we might be sitting at 5-3 instead of 3-5. His presence in the running game is probably worth that. Bruce Lee - Wow, it's too damn bad we have to wait till next season to watch these two play together again. In all honesty (and it's probably a terrible thing to say), Lee's injury is probably the best thing that could have happened for Carter. It forced him to grow up overnight. It forced him to be more of a leader. It forced him to start becoming what he could be much much faster. I just want to say for the record, that I said very very early last season that we could have a Bowman-Willis type combination with these two...before everyone started picking up on it this year. My arm hurts...probably from patting my own back. If you love defense, you're gonna love having these two for the next 8+ years. The scary thought: Neither of them have really scratched the surface of what they could be. Coleman - Steady, nothing special. Likely to be replaced in the offseason. Ratliff - What we've seen so far has been incredible. He's pushing the pocket like he's 25 again. Hope the injury doesn't cost him much more time. Brent - Up and down. Some weeks he fights off blocks and makes tackles, stuffs holes, and generates pressure. Some weeks he catches blocks and watches RBs run right past him. Needs to put it all together. Definitely another player that proves this front office can find those diamonds. Crawford - Has been a revelation. He's not perfect, and he's nowhere near as good as he could be yet, but he's been very very good for a rookie. He'll start next year. Could be the pressure player we've been looking for at DE. Lissemore - Started very strong, the injury is a damn shame. Would be interesting to see a starting DL of Lissemore - Ratliff - Crawford next year. Is Spencer Worth It - That's the 9 million dollar question isn't it? I think we all see what happens to this defense when he's injured (his lack of an injury history is one of the more underrated things about him), but does that make him worth 9 mil? If I had my guess, I would say the Cowboys would love to resign him this year to a mid level contract, 5 years 30 mil, something like that. It will be very interesting to see what offers he gets if he's allowed to shop the open market. He's not the pressure player all of his want him to be. I will however say this, with the defensive line I talked about a second ago, he wouldn't have to be. He could be the run defender we all know him to be, help in coverage, help with the pass rush and get paid decent. I have a suspicion he's chomping at the bit to go somewhere and get paid really well to be their pass rush star. We shall see. Ware - Still awesome, still needs a stronger inside pass rush move. Carr - For the most part he's been very very good. He's gotten burned a few times, which they all do, but he hasn't been consistently beaten like a drum like Newman was the latter half of last year. I would love to see what he could do if the offense really took off and started putting other teams into desperation mode. Great ball denial CB. Claiborne - Best defensive player in this draft, and has proven it consistently. His ability to stay right in the WR's pocket is really something to watch. He's got a few areas he needs to improve (zone coverage, carrying WR's across the formation, tackling), but he's already the best DB on this team. Barring injury or some off field stuff we don't know about, he will be a super star. Claiborne makes the NFL Rewind package worth the $70 all by himself. Seriously, get it, watch him, pick up your jaw. Scandrick - Improvement over last year is pretty stark. Not anywhere near the liability he's previously been in his career. Of course, he was one of the big goats last week, so that's fresh in people's memory (including mine), but it doesn't change the fact that he's been erasing slot WR's all season. Jenkins - Been pretty good when asked to play. Attitude is not great, but his effort has not noticeably waned. Still a pathetic tackler, and somewhat of a coward when it comes to sticking his head in there, but he's a reliable man coverage defender. Sensy, McCray, Chruch - Chruch started out on fire which I think we all know. It's too bad all that momentum has been erased. I'm sure I'm not the only one excited to see him return next season. Sensy has been Sensy, a good man defender, a mediocre to bad zone coverage defender and a lousy to mediocre tackler. McCray has held up as well as I think is possible for him. He's limited physically and from an ability/instincts standpoint. More depth is needed at this position. Overall - This offense is flawed, it's designed to be a running offense that makes you pick your poison between defending the run or stopping the pass. The problem is teams are stopping the run with 7, and sometimes 6 guys. Until the running game comes back, this offense will continue to go nowhere. The defense is on the verge of being special. Not sure it will happen this year with McCray starting. The one place we couldn't afford injuries on this defense was safety, maybe Johnson turns out to be something, if he doesn't it's gonna set this team back. We've got to find some safety production somewhere. It sucks that the team as a whole has suffered injuries at all the exact positions we could least afford them (S, C, RB), but thems the breaks. Unless something turns around really damn quick, this season will be a complete loss. I will do my best to answer questions or respond to comments as usual. If I don't get to yours, I apologize, I just have too many things going on. Thanks again to all those who have supported me both publicly and behind the scenes, you guys have kept me interested and involved, and definitely kept me on my toes with all your questions.