Cowboys Coaching Staff and Playoff Hopes in Kyle Orton’s Hands

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Aug 4, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kyle Orton (18) drops back to pass in the first quarter of the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame game against the Miami Dolphins at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings and Merry Christmas to everyone. I am fortunate that my Wednesday timeslot provides options. I can recap last week’s game or look forward to the future. For the Cowboys, this season may last one game or five weeks. We’ve been persuaded by head coach Jason Garrett to take this season one game at a time. Many fair-weather fans have declared the season to be over numerous times already. Unlike many NFL teams that won’t need to practice this week, we have something to play for. Cowboys never seem to make it easy.

I’m an optimist and believe that’s the definition of fanhood. The Cowboys can overcome injuries and adversity. Hasn’t the Cowboys mantra been – Next Man Up? Tony Romo’s injury doesn’t mean the season is over. The list of injured Cowboys over the years has been extensive, especially on the defensive side. We’ve never had to declare – The Season Is Over! – based on one player’s injury. The Cowboys are bigger than Tony Romo and I believe starting Kyle Orton still gives us a chance. Our opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles, lost starter Michael Vick earlier this season. Now both teams are in the same boat, fighting for a division title and a playoff berth on the last week of the regular season.

Kyle Orton looked efficient during his possession against the Chicago Bears on December 9th. He completed 3 of 5 passes for 40 yards as he led the Cowboys to a late touchdown. Orton has spent two years in our system and while his last start was in 2011, I see a well rested, healthy veteran quarterback. Orton will inherit a team that’s running the ball well and has a stockpile of receiving weapons to exploit the Eagles 30th ranked passing defense. Time consuming touchdown drives will be required by the Cowboys to keep our defense off the field and keep the game competitive. I wouldn’t be surprised if we went for it on fourth downs because field goals may be inadequate.

Jon Kitna’s addition to the roster was brilliant when you consider the quarterbacks available. Why not grab another veteran that knows our offense. This means you don’t have to find a young quarterback and have a cram session. Kitna, after passing a physical, will simply need to be refreshed. If Kitna is needed, the play call might be – Red Right 22 Texas, Throw to Dez! I could live with that over David Carr, Vince Young, Tim Tebow or Byron Leftwich at the helm.

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  • Vearly C. Evans Sr.

    You should have brought in Vince Young…

    • Robert H. Carroll

      So he could thank the media and declare the Cowboys as the Dream Team part 2 now that he’s on the sideline? :)

      • Vearly C. Evans Sr.

        Right now the Cowboys are a nightmare… Bring in VINCE YOUNG” now… and next year he will be ready to help this team go far into the playoffs and “MAYBE” to the Super-Bowl….. Jerry Jones need to give this guy a chance…. Just take a look at him, that’s all….

        • Robert H. Carroll

          The league took a look at Vince Young during his 7 year career. His stats are horrific. He was a one read & run QB. Matt Leinart, Tim Tebow, DeMarcus Russell… It’s over.

          • Vearly C. Evans Sr.

            Did you take into consideration, that the first five years of Vince Young’s career, his head coach (Jeff Fisher) did nothing to enhance his growth as a quarterback. But through it all, Vince did manage to accomplish a few things during that time frame….
            Vince Young does not mind being a backup… He’s just looking for a team that will give him a honest chance to play…. Maybe it’s Dallas or maybe it’s someone else…

  • Jimmy DeMarco

    Romo in, Romo out… Orton is ready to step in if need be…kitna is a great choice to bring in because he knows the offense. Yet we get a quote from him that he hopes he’s not called upon to play. I’m lovin the situation we’re in for Sunday (oozing sarcasm here).

    Which brings me to a point that I’ve been reading about in so many articles and blogs this week. Which is, should Dallas draft a qb or not?

    1 thing I can tell you, which I’ve commented about on numerous articles & blogs this week, Tony Romo will never be the same qb again. He is going to have the exact same operation I did, which was in October for me. And everything was going great, rehab was moving well, off my Walker, leg strength was almost back to full strength and my range of motion in my back was close to normal. Then, on my daughter’s 2nd birthday, December 11th, she came running towards me to, I braced myself, not really worried about it. I leaned forward just a little on impact, boom, back to square one. Leg strength gone, have to use my Walker all the time again, I can barely get out of bed , my back stiffens up at the slightest hint of cold or damp weather. The point is, Romo’s injury just isn’t about Sunday, it’s about the future.
    And I get that my rehab, although intense & getting the best possible help available to someone in my position, which is no where near what Romo will get, but still very good. Nor am I in shape like him & I’m also 7 years older. But one wrong pivot of the hips, one bad hit, one misstep, his career quite possibly could be over for good. Even worse, he could suffer a more permanent disability of losing feeling in his limbs because of the nerves and spine.

    And this all leads me to this, why would the Cowboys have just let Tanney go? I understand that he’s 26, not your typical 21-23 year old qb teams are use to grooming. And I get that he was a division III qb & didn’t play against a high caliber of talent and I get that he was a 3rd string/practice squad qb. But, his scouting reports were good coming out of college, big prototypical qb sized qb, 6’3, 6’4, depending on which report you read & 225, with a big arm and really good accuracy. So I just don’t understand why they would just let him go? Of course no one saw Romo’s injury coming, but we all saw his age start to show. He was taking less chances this year, not throwing the deep pass nearly as much as previous seasons & seemed to be more gun shy than in the past.
    So instead of keeping around Tanney, who pro scouts actually believe has a future in this league. Now how high of a ceiling that Is, well, that’s up to him. Dallas may have to go out and use a pick on a qb this season instead of using them on more pressing issues, defense.
    Obviously needing a qb in case Romo isn’t the same is a pressing issue, but I’m sure he will be our starting qb in 2014. How much longer after that he has, that’s up in the air.

    • Robert H. Carroll

      I stand behind my words. I like the pickup of Kitna. I don’t expect him to play at all. Kitna’s role will be to provide a second set of veteran eyes for Orton. Still, I can’t find where I said I hope Kitna isn’t called upon to play.
      That’s good insight regarding the surgery and yes, I would rather Orton start than risk career ending damage to Romo. You mentioned October, was your surgery 2 months ago? Romo probably won’t need to throw a football again until the last week of August 2014.
      We’ve hit and missed on a few QB’s. I liked Matt Moore years ago but finding a qb this late means finding someone that knows our system. If we drafted a QB instead of a Safety or Defensive End, it’ll be wasting a draft pick on a guy that won’t start. I can’t blame age on Romo. I thought taking less chances and being more gun shy was a good thing. Would you prefer more interceptions?
      Why didn’t they keep Tanney? A guy that went undrafted in 2012, from a small Div III school that didn’t play against high caliber talent. A guy that scouts love, but cleared waivers after being picked up by the Chiefs.
      I wish all players the best, but let’s not put Tanney in Canton just yet.

      • Jimmy DeMarco

        You didn’t say that about Kitna hoping to not be called upon, he did. He said it, I’m assuming as a joke because of his age and his back issues.

        I’m not saying Tanney is going to be anything in this league. That’s left up to the player himself. But, he knows our system, has a quick release & has the fundamentals down of being able to read a defense.

        See, I look at it this way. If you’re playing against anyone, no matter what level, below the “show”, and you’re putting up stats like he did, and even though it was Monmouth. Don’t you think he at least could be something?
        Romo was an un-drafted FA out of Eastern Illinois, he certainly didn’t play the best talent. And he certainly doesn’t have the physical abilities of the top qb’s in the league. What he does have, is heart and desire. He makes something out of nothing, when most other qb’s just let the pocket collapse & takes the sack. Romo is a unique player, one who will be missed Sunday night.

        And the point I was trying to make about Romo’s rehab compared to mine, he has young children. I myself, have 4 daughter’s, ages 5 months to 6 years old.
        Whether or not he won’t be throwing a football until August, he still has a regular life outside of football. A sneeze, a cramp you reach for, a little slip in the shower, any small thing could deter his rehab.

        And as I said earlier, I have no doubt that he’ll be our starting qb in 2014.
        But as we all know, Aikmans career didn’t end because of concussions. It ended because of a hit he took in a playoff game and his back went into Spasms & he was done. & his surgery was when he was 26. Romo’s is at 33.

        There definitely has to be some concerns about his future going forward.
        If Romo is relegated to becoming just a pocket Passer, it’s not going to go well.

        Dallas is at a major crossroads now. And I’m definitely not saying we need to draft a qb early, that’s absurd. Like I said before, we need defensive players, impact players in this draft. And with the news that Jerry said he’s sticking with Tampa 2. Well, he better draft an elite safety, a speed defensive end, a monster D lineman who can plug up holes & a freakish athletic linebacker to play along side of Lee.

        • Robert H. Carroll

          True.. I’m 40 with a 4 year old lil monster man.. I know the joys (and the aches & pains) of parenthood. I like Romo as a pocket passer. Sure there are moments where he has had to extend plays but overall, he’s stayed in the pocket. Mostly because they’ve run a lot of plays from the shotgun formation. Frederick had a little bit of a learning curve, especially against teams that played the 3-4, but he was solid. I think Romo could be adequately protected in the passing game, but sometimes that requires shorter routes & crossing patterns. A running game helps a pocket passer.

          I like your wish list. I believe we could’ve drafted Eric Reid, Sharrif Floyd or Matt Elam in the first round, then came back and got Frederick in the 2nd. I understand they were trying to run an offense like the Patriots (Gronk & Hernadez), but they already knew that Escobar couldn’t block. It was just a failed experiment. I would’ve passed on J.J. Wilcox for Alex Okafor too. I would’ve passed on B.W. Webb too. I feel another article here.. :)

          Perhaps we can get draft picks for Austin & Ware. With their injuries & age, clearly Beasley and Dwayne Harris are the future.

          Where are you from? I ask because I’m in Jacksonville, FL – SEC country – so I was hoping you could put names to the type of players you wanted to see drafted that were possibly from outside the SEC.

          • Jimmy DeMarco

            I’m from Bayonne, NJ.
            I completely agree about the picks you said we shouldn’t have taken. & definitely agree that we could have still gotten Frederick in a later round.

            I think Dallas can add a couple of draft picks. Ware, Austin, Carter, who just never lived up to his projected athleticism. And I also think Claiborne is a possibility for a trade. Dallas has to make a decision between Scandrick and Claiborne, & Scandrick simply played better. I’m not too secure with Webb being the 3rd CB though lol.

            Guys outside the SEC I like:
            Safeties: Reynolds – Stanford. Bailey – USC. Pryor – Louisville.
            Linebackers: Barr – UCLA, of course. Murphy – Stanford. He can easily play DE too. Mack – NC, kids a beast. Beasley – Clemson. This seems to be our concensus 1st round pick. Van Noy – BYU. Shazier – OSU, definitely love this kids interior game. Needs to work on his coverage game.
            DE: Tuitt – ND, of course. Martin – NC, excellent athlete who played great in the 2nd half of the season. Looking forward to seeing him in the senior Bowl. Reilly – Utah. Really interesting guy here. Can play LB as well. Needs to bulk up a bit & not too physical, that needs to change. Bradford – ASU. I’m one of the only people who is really high on this guy, at least the only person I know lol. Dudes a monster. Speed, athleticism, strength, size, explosive off the ball with a non stop motor. He’s really an OLB who needs to bulk up a bit & plays in a 3-4. But could definitely play DE in a 4-3.
            Gayle – Virginia Tech. He’s a really good pass rusher, but has to add some weight & get a little bit stronger. Definitely like his all around game though. Smith – Louisville. I liked his game all year. & after watching him against Miami, I know it’s Miami, but I really like his all around game. Speed pass rusher with the ability to consistently get around the edge & make plays.
            DT: Nix – ND. He’s a given stud. Hageman – Minnesota. This kids the real deal. Huge too. Very disruptive and a play maker for his size. Run stopper + pass rusher, stud. Donald – Pitt. As disruptive as they come. Guy is always in the backfield & is a monster in the pass rush. Jones – Penn St. Nice size & is a playmaker. Hopkins – VA Tech. Versatile kid, really strong & quick for a 300 lb kid. Allen – Wisconsin. He’s a really good run stopper, big kid.
            OL: Yankey – Stanford. Richardson – Baylor. Hurst – NC.

            There’s so much depth at virtually every position & talent everywhere. If Dallas does it right, we could end up with 3, maybe 4 immediate impact players on defense.

          • Robert H. Carroll

            While often, in jest, I say that I’m my favorite sports writer.. You Sir, with that post have become my favorite Landry Hat reader. Now.. I’ll be back after I cool down from that disappointing loss. Yes, disappointing, because we had chance to win. So it hurts.

          • Jimmy DeMarco

            I appreciate that. You write great articles btw.

            I’m with you. The Murray fumble was a killer & I just didn’t understand not running Murray on the 4th & 1. I mean, it was unexpected & DE made the play, but I wouldn’t have called that play their.

            I’m tired of losing like this. It’s just the same story, year after year.

            What’s your gut feeling about Jerry’s coaching decisions?

          • Robert H. Carroll

            Wow. It’s like you heard the conversation I just had with my brother. Sigh. 4th & 1.. Pound the rock up the gut for a yard. Why be cute and attempt the pass play? Also, after the sack/fumble.. You have to score a touchdown. That’s what winning teams do in those situations. Arrrgghh!!!

            They got away from the run at the end. Heath is a solid tackler, but is a definite liability in coverage. That hasn’t changed. The completion over Holloman was a great catch. It looked like Dez quit on a few catchable balls, but that’s my opinion. 2 game ending turnovers on passes to Hamstring probably isn’t a coincidence..

            Defensively, I see coaching changes. I like the play of the line with Marinelli. He got a lot of production this game from an injured group of randoms. I wish the corners would put their hands on receivers at the line. They don’t play physical at all. Callahan isn’t the best play-caller, but he has coached up the offensive line. Garrett is an average coach. This isn’t a knee jerk reaction, but I’m ready for something different. Although, I like the one game at a time, next man up attitude, Garrett has been hampered by injuries & inadequate personnel. That may be his saving grace.

            You just never know with Jerry.

          • Jimmy DeMarco

            I agree with everything you said. I 3 play Calls after we recovered the fumble, absolutely atrocious. And settling for field goals and not getting in the end zone, that’s what separates winning from losing.
            For Dez, I think he didn’t finish multiple routs last night, definitely. & that pass play, kinda the jump ball in the front of the end zone, on the right side. Although the DB made a decent play. I thought Dez could have went up & got that ball.

            Callahan, the lack balance play calling is reprehensible. Lions game, Packers game, last night. Even the Chargers game & Kansas City. We have 4 RB’s on our roster, for what? The Dunbar injury really hurt us for that second look back. But Randle rarely got used. We only use 1. You need to have that, change of pace back. And when was the last time we saw a pure screen pass work to perfection?

            And as I looked at our schedule for next year… I see 2010 all over again. Our schedule is a rough one. I can see us starting off similar to the 10 season and Garrett falling to the same fate Phillips did. Especially if they don’t improve this defense & get the cap situation fixed. Depth and defense, depth and defense. That’s got to be the focus of this off season.

            Ware taking a pay cut is a good start. Hatcher, Hannah, Carter, Austin Tanner, these guys need to go. Or at least Hatcher, I know he deserves his money, but if he wants to stay, his contract is going to be similar. & I have no idea what they do with Spencer. Him not being there definitely hurt. Lee, he’s got to stay healthy for a full season. Or at least play more than 11 games. His absence last night sucked.

            This is going to be a most interesting off season in sometime. We know what our needs are in terms of player personell. We know we need to get the cap situation in order. We know we have a questionable qb situation coming into the season. And we know Jerry has to have the draft of his life.
            Let’s hope Jerry learned from his past draft day mistakes and just looks around the league & takes notes from Seattle, sf, Carolina, even Arizona, the Jets, Cincinnati and Kansas City. Build a defense Jerry, PLEASE!

  • Vearly C. Evans Sr.

    Dallas…. Bring in VINCE YOUNG”… Vince is mobile— with talent and playoff experience…. He is hungry, motivated and determined to show he can still play this game at a high level…. Vince Young know how to WIN….
    Bring him in NOW, and next year he will be ready to help this team go far into the playoffs and “MAYBE” to the Super-Bowl…..

    • Robert H. Carroll

      Vince Young isn’t the solution anywhere. May as well be screaming for DeMarcus Russell while you’re at it..