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1. It’s almost comical how Felix Jones had to leave the Dallas Cowboys game against the Carolina Panthers. With DeMarco Murray out, Jones made his first start of the season. His durability was called into question before the game ever started and they were confirmed before the game ended as Jones left the game with a bruised knee and now his status for this Sunday’s game is in question as the Cowboys prepare to face the New York Giants on Sunday.
It always seemed like Phillip Tanner was the better answer at running back as Murray’s backup because it would allow Jones to stay in his effective role as the 3rd down back and change-of-pace guy. Too late for that. Now they may have to role with Tanner as a starter and rookie Lance Dunbar out of North Texas as the backup.
Tanner didn’t look all that great against the Panthers on Sunday, finishing with just 30 yards on 13 carries. The Cowboys offense overall had more trouble than they should have on the road. That combined with the defense and coaching staff doing what it could to give the game away, they were lucky to come out with a win. They’re obviously a much different team than the one that beat the Giants in surprising fashion to start the season.
But the Cowboys are still in position to get a big victory. With a win over the Giants at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday, Dallas would be even in the loss column with the Giants, would hold the tiebreaker thanks to a season sweep, would be a perfect 2-0 in the division and would also hand the Giants their 3rd division loss.
2. The problem is that no reasonable person thinks that, with the way that each team is playing, that the Cowboys are going to win on Sunday. The Giants are much better, look like one of the best teams in the NFL, and have owned Dallas at Cowboys Stadium.
Good luck getting even Cowboys fans to watch that game because the numbers show that Dallas fans in the metroplex have been watching less and less. The report from the Dallas Morning-News tries to attribute the loss in viewership to time slots. But the truth of the matter is that if the Cowboys didn’t look like an incompetent team at times and were a better team, people would be tuning in to watch them play at 9 am if they were playing better.
Three of the last four years, Dallas has failed to make the playoffs and now they’re making dumb mistakes despite the talent that exists on both sides of the ball. At a certain point, a lot of people say to themselves, “I don’t want to watch this anymore.” And in large numbers, they’re not watching anymore.
3. Fans in the city of Houston would likely be up to watch the Texans at 9 am. Houston sent a big message to the rest of the NFL that their loss to the Green Bay Packers was a fluke when they dominated the Baltimore Ravens 43-13 to improve to 6-1 on the season.
In our recap, we talked about how JJ Watt had a big impact on the game despite not registering a sack. He certainly did his share of talking though, as “MegaWatt” was mic’d up by ESPN on Sunday. It’s been difficult finding the full segment called “Sunday Soundtracks,” but if you watched Monday Night Football or SportsCenter afterward, you likely saw it. Here’s a small sample that I found that featured a great line from Watt to Ray Rice after a play in which Rice tried to throw a chip block when the play was practically over.
“I’ve eaten burritos bigger than you.”
I can only hope that Texans fans have some appropriate signs at their next home game. If you have any ideas, please post them in the comments.
Photo courtesy Jamie Squire/Getty Images
4. One guy that’s not happy with his television exposure is Texas Longhorns head coach Mack Brown. Yesterday, during his weekly press conference (known among the media as “Mack Monday”), Brown complained about his Longhorn Network duties taking up his time and the team’s exposure helping the opposition.
I can understand Brown being concerned about his Longhorn network duties taking up his time, but he and the university are benefitting financially from the money they get for airing network shows, just like Brown makes money for the radio appearances he makes on a weekly basis as well.
The complaint about opponents getting information from the practices that the Longhorn Network shows is completely unfounded, whether they be the live shows done from the practice facility or Texas Football All-Access, which interviews players and tells stories about practices and the games from the previous week. As a viewer of many of these shows, I don’t see anything that could help an opponent. While I’m not a coach, members of the athletic department also comb through the footage to make sure none of it airs.
Perhaps Brown is just airing his frustrations about the season and it would have looked bad had he made these comments following the Oklahoma game. It gets more attention and isn’t so negative on him if he says this after a win.
If he has problems with his time, I’m sure that LHN and the university can work something out so that Brown isn’t spending so much time on camera. But I wouldn’t blame LHN for the problems with the defense. All LHN is showing to opposing offenses right now is that Texas allows big plays because they have trouble tackling. Maybe if they made their players watch that footage more, they’d be motivated to improve.
5. Brown doesn’t watch a lot of the Longhorn Network, obviously. Anything he “watches” is likely limited to the shows where he makes an appearance, but what happens on the air still gets back to him. Brown meets with people from LHN every week. And I know several people that work at the Longhorn Network that take part in these meetings. After the Oklahoma game, Brown was not happy with what Ahmad Brooks and Chris Rix were saying about the team. Those two were saying what most every other sports columnist said about Texas after that game (including us): that the Longhorns didn’t play with heart.
While Brown had some strong words for members of the Longhorn Network, at some point, even for those that work for LHN, they have to comment on what they see. And there’s no doubt what happened at the Cotton Bowl earlier this month.
6. Finally, congratulations to Hunter Pence and the San Francisco Giants on advancing to the World Series thanks to their Game 7 win last night. While it was a dominant 9-0 win in San Fran, the game wasn’t blown open until Pence got a bases-loaded double that put the Giants up 5-0.
It still bewilders me that the Astros traded Pence away. Not only was he talented and intense, but he was on the verge of becoming the leader in the clubhouse that would make him a fixture of the organization. After a stop with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Giants smartly snatched Pence up at the deadline this year. While he hasn’t hit all that well in the regular season with the Giants and hasn’t done so in the postseason either, he’s made some great defensive plays in right field and has emerged as a leader that his teammates give him a lot of credit for. Check out this piece done by MLB.com showing his leadership.
You’ll likely see a lot of Astros fans rooting for the Giants this week, lamenting the loss of Pence as Houston prepares for another 100-loss season in 2013.