Formerly an email newsletter about all things NFL, it's now a blog about all things NFL, but mostly all things Dallas Cowboys. Probably with a dose of politics, food, and college football.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Trick play timing

Sean Payton is taking some grief about the playcalling Monday night. Whether it was too conservative is debatable, and if it was, I’d wager it was on orders from Parcells.

But one thing Payton certainly got right was the flea flicker call. It was in the third quarter, and Dallas had been consistently running the ball. They hadn’t had great success with the run, but they stuck with it. Then when they had sufficiently lulled Washington into playing the run, Payton called the flea flicker.

It seems like for the last decade or more, teams ran trick plays early in the game. It makes no sense. Trick plays, like reverses and flea flickers, are predicated not only on deceit, but on the aggression of the opponent.

If you haven’t established the run, why would the defense sell out to stop it, thereby setting up your reverse? Early in the game, the defense is thinking about it. They’re not leg or mind-weary enough to lose discipline.

But later in the game, they might be thinking only about stopping the run while they’re gasping for air. Forget about the backside if they know that must control the front side.

Trick plays can’t just be called. They have to be set up. And Dallas did that right Monday night.

Monday, September 19, 2005

What the hell just happened?

I blame Roy Williams, though he wasn’t the only one. Bledsoe could have made a pass. Crayton could have held on and gotten the first down. Flozell Adams didn’t have to hold. Jose “The Hook” Cortez could have made that first FG.

But great players make great plays – all of them. Roy Williams made a lot of plays, but he didn’t make the ones he really needed to make. The late ones. The important ones.

He and Aaron Glenn teamed up to allow two long TDs in the last four minutes to lose the game. That’s what it boils down to. Those plays lost the game, and it was Roy Williams who didn’t make them.

There’s not a whole lot else to break down. Two plays. They ruined what could have been a really nice night. If I were to break down a third play, it would be the one where Roy let an INT go through his hands just before the first TD. That was not a tough catch, and he didn't make it.

Sean Payton, who I don’t trust, called a terrific game. I think he kept the Washington defense at bay by attacking the edges early, and using short drops by Bledsoe. Early in the game it was clear they weren’t going to let Bledsoe take deep drops and become a target.

The OL protected well, and the game plan was working. They moved the ball well enough, but couldn’t sustain enough drives.

Every Cowboys fan had to get queasy when they flashed that stat about Parcells being 77-0 when leading by 13 in the 4th quarter. What an idiotic stat to show. But it was shown for a reason – the jinx.

The only other meaningful observation I have is that sideline reporter Sam Ryan looks very, very serious, and has a freakishly large set of lower teeth. I don’t mean the individual teeth are large, but that she’s got a row of about 36 teeth there. She'd have a helluva smile if she wasn't so deadly serious reporting "news" like pulled hammies.

BZZZZ! Star Players and Hall of Famers working the phones

I hate to be that jackass again, and I’m sure lots of money was raised for hurricane relief, but I’m calling BS on the NFL players and execs working the phones, on several counts.

1 – What was with the phones? My Mom hasn’t had a phone like that since the 80’s. Who would use a phone like that? If it was f’real, they would have had headsets and…

b) – Keyboards. Yeah, right, they were manually filling out these forms. I’m sure that’s a very efficient and accurate way to record the information they were fake-getting over the phones they were trying to hold up to their ears.

III. – Fake filling out the forms. Back in high school I was in some organization that volunteered to work the phones during the Public TV auction or telethon thing they did. We were instructed to make it look like we were all busy. There was about 10 of us, and we got, I don’t remember exactly, about two calls an hour. But when the camera came on, they had this…

(D) – Fake ringer. And when the fake ringer went off, one of us was supposed to pick up our phone and pretend to be taking a pledge. To their credit I suppose, the fake ringer the NFL employed was also from the 80’s to match the phones. It could have been a real “ringy” one from the 70’s. Gifford was clearly faking filling out his form, because he’s older than 80% of the franchises in the NFL and doesn’t understand the concept of making it look good.

Nice enough gesture, but I would have taken their word for it if they just told me there were real players answering the phones.

OK, I wouldn’t have taken their word for it, but this left no doubt.