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As we ready for the AT&T Stadium 7:30 kickoff (with me joining Brad Sham and Babe Laufenberg on the pregame, which starts at 4:30, on 105.3 The Fan), Annabel Stephan and I dig into some trends -- and the one way for Dallas to close the gap on the Saints:
Dez Bryant predicts that old pal Rob Ryan will double-team him. And if he sticks with that strategy?
"DeMarco will run for 150 to 200 yards,'' Dez said. "He'll go beast-mode.''
Murray's done a great deal of that through three games. The 6-foot, 217-pounder leads the NFL in both rushing attempts (75) and yards (385) and is the first player since Curtis Martin in 2004 to run for at least 100 yards and a touchdown in each of the first three games of the season.
DeMarco also has three fumbles in three games. A possible cure? He's been toting a football around all week even during stretching drills, a trick copied from ... Dez Bryant.
Said Ryan: "I think if DeMarco Murray stays healthy and you give him the ball, he's going to lead the league in rushing."
Looking at the standings, one might think that, with home field advantage, the (2-1) Dallas Cowboys should be a better team than the (1-2) New Orleans Saints. Of course, no one that has spent much time following the NFL believes that the record, especially this early in the season, is the end all be all for evaluating teams.
We all know the infamous take originally attributed to Henry Du Pré Labouchère, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." In sports, though, statistics are how we measure performance beyond just the wins and losses. In football, where sample sizes are so small, and the mean so cluttered, it behooves us to try to analyze things that have a higher correlation to winning than previous wins.
So, let’s take a look at some of the statistical explanations for what kinds of team the 2014 Dallas Cowboys and 2014 New Orleans Saints have proven to be.
The Cowboys are entering Week 4 and just when you thought you could focus on their on-field play, Mo Claiborne walks out on the team. He's back, but what are the repercussions? How will this affect the Saints? KD is joined by co-hosts Patrik Walker and Keith Mullins, as well as his weekly segment with Fish. This week's special guest? Bob Sturm himself.
Opening Monologue: 00:00:46 Patrik Walker: 00:10:09Prior to knowing that Morris Claiborne walked out on the club, Patrik and I theorize on what kind of mental makeup the player had based on glowing camp reports and dismal in-game results. Also touched on the return of Romo and the play of Anthony Hitchens. Keith Mullins: 00:30:44Keith brings the heat as we review the Rams game, look ahead at the challenges in facing the Saints with no pass rush to be found anywhere Mike Fisher: 01:01:31 Fish comes in with the latest from Valley Ranch, as we theorize about how the Claiborne ordeal breaks down and the effect it has on the rest of the team Bob Sturm: 01:25:52 The incomperable Bob Sturm weighs in on the joys of watching the Linehan offense unfold, and the pains of watching the team struggle to generate a pass rush. Outro: 02:00:25
There’s a pattern forming.
No matter the context, every member of a company, team, or any collection of individuals starts with each member being their own person. The path each took to arrive at the shared destination is as unique as the fingerprints they leave when they open the door of opportunity. Yet still, there is a commonality in each of them, as they’ve all arrived at a similar destination. For those trained in the social sciences the study of how factors, both micro and macro, lead these paths to intersect with each other is a fascinating study. One would imagine that if a case study was made out of the Dallas Cowboys, those social scientists would have a field day developing theories. Morris Claiborne’s disgruntled hissy fit that led him to walk out on his team yesterday is just the latest example.
It may in fact be easy for the general public to forgive Claiborne for his actions, but maybe he shouldn't be forgiven. Maybe the reason that head coach Jason Garrett has only fined Claiborne for going AWOL instead of suspending him is because he feels he handled the announcement incorrectly and empathizes with the reaction it caused. Maybe it was a fellow player that caused Mo to walk away from the facility. Maybe Orlando Scandrick did a little taunting when it was announced who was going to start. Or maybe, something a bit larger is at work here.
The Cowboys, for all of their “Right-Kind-Of-Guy” mantras, and public testimonies to their in-game resolve, have seemingly developed a culture where their players feel it’s acceptable to quit. One has to wonder how this team will ever be truly competitive on a grand scale when players have been infected with the mindset that this behavior will be allowed. It has to be at least considered that if multiple people see walking away as a feasible option, their ability to handle in-game adversity can be questioned as well.
While each player has their own individual set of circumstances as to why they abandoned the team, there are enough environmental factors that one has to wonder the role of the macro. How much does the franchise of the Dallas Cowboys have to do with this mentality?
Our KD Drummond takes a hard, smart look at this question: Have the Cowboys created a Culture of Quitters?
Tony Romo took off on "Romo Wednesday'' but returned to practice for Thursday's workout. Last week it was related to some back stiffness. There is progress, we think, because this week's sit-out was more about maintenance and rhythm than about pain.
“I definitely felt better Sunday (against the Rams),” Romo said. “I think there are multiple reasons. I think I’m continuing to get stronger. I think everything firing, you know, activating things. I didn’t have quite the strength I wanted to explode off in the first couple of weeks. And last week I was able to during the week, due to some changes we made, and I think it’s going to only continue to get better. Last week I was pretty excited about the way I was moving and feeling. So, I think I’ll continue to feel better each week and playing your best football as you continue on.”
Three key tidbits from our Mark Lane, part of his weekly "Cowboys 100'' series:
1) This week’s referee is Gene Steratore. Since becoming a referee in 2006, the Cowboys are 1-4 when Steratore officiates their games.
2) New Orleans is 5-4 when Steratore referees their contests.
3) Steratore has refereed eight Sunday Night Football games, including playoffs, and the home and away sides each have four wins.
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Five Cowboys players are listed as questionable. We're told defensive end Anthony Spencer (knee) should make his debut after a year on the sidelines (playing mostly LDE). But, linebacker Rolando McClain (groin) and defensive tackle Henry Melton (hamstring) are not sure bets. Defensive tackle Terrell McClain should be fine after going through the concussion protocol. There is much speculation about and defensive tackle Davon Coleman (knee/calf) but we're told he's unlikely to play.
In addition to Spencer, the big change upfront could feature Tyrone Crawford moving inside to help at 3-Tech.
"Yeah, we need to be glanced at over here." - Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Dallas as a playoff contender.