Whitt’s End: 1.4.13
*So now we know: Dallas Cowboys’ practice-squad linebacker Jerry Brown was legally sober and not wearing a seat belt when he was killed in Josh Brent’s car crash last month. In a perverted way, it makes me feel less sorry for him. He could’ve – should’ve – known better than to get into the car with a drunk driver and to not use a seat belt.
*If you watched the otherwise uneventful Fiesta Bowl last night you saw the rarest play in all of sports – the 1-point safety. After a blocked extra point, Kansas State attempted to run the ball out of its end zone and was tackled. In the NFL a blocked PAT is dead, but in college it’s live, and can be returned for 2 points. So Oregon scored a point by having its PAT blocked. Weird. How rare? There have been 15 unassisted triple plays in baseball and only 2 “try safeties” in major college football. The first happened in 2004 between Texas and Texas A&M. Even stranger: Brad Nessler called both plays from the TV booth.
*You’re probably not going to like this, but the Cowboys’ season was a success. Yep, even at 8-8 and missing the playoffs. How’s that? Because after training camp I forecast Dallas as 8-8 talent that with a fortunate bounce or two could top out at 9-7. They got to 8-8, despite losing Phil Costa, DeMarco Murray, Miles Austin, Chris Jones, Jay Ratliff, Barry Church, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Kenyon Coleman and DeMarcus Ware for all or significant portions of the season. I’m not saying hold a parade, but if you consider playing in the NFC East Championship Game with guys named Coe and Frampton and Sims and Moore and Poppinga and Schaefering to be a disappointment, I’m going to suggest your goals were unrealistic and irrational.
*Tony Romo is Dirk Nowitzki. Up until 2011 the Mavs’ forward was lambasted as “too soft.” He was a 1-dimensional player that was all stats, no substance. He was a choker. He missed a crucial free throw in the ’06 Finals. He was 2-of-13 in the closeout game of the 1st-round upset loss to Golden State as the No. 1 seed in ’07. Critics claimed he would never lead the Mavs to a title. Then? The Mavs got better around him. Jason Terry. Jason Kidd. Tyson Chandler. Dirk remained the same, but suddenly he was a champion. Romo – like Dirk – isn’t the problem. Give him a Tyson Chandler defense and you’ll see.
*That said, Romo’s off-balance, falling backward, finesse flip in the flat that was intercepted to seal Sunday’s loss was amateurish and inexcusable. His mechanics were atrocious and his decision was worse. 12-year-old quarterbacks shouldn’t make that mistake, much less a 32-year-old.
*By my math, there are only 12 quarterbacks I’d rather have than Romo. So, no, sorry, you do not trade a Top 13 quarterback in the prime of his career. They are too difficult to find, right Jake Locker and Mark Sanchez and Blaine Gabbert and Matt Flynn? And you can discount Romo’s production – 4,900 passing yards – as “empty stats,” but without them the Cowboys would’ve been a 4-12 team you lost interest in by Halloween.
*Watched Jerry Rice this morning on ESPN breaking down Wild Card Weekend. Swear he used the non-word “eckstablish.” But the worst analyst on TV is Mark May. He says the word “football” more than Jason Garrett, relies on “job” as his inferior-vocabulary crutch word and never gives you any more information that what you can see for yourself. Example: If a running back scores on a 5-yard run May will talk over the highlights with “great job by the back here getting the football into the end zone.” What the what?! He’s embarrassingly horrible.
*Big-name, under-contract Cowboys who may not be back in ’13: Miles Austin, Doug Free and Jay Ratliff.
*The Cowboys failed to do something last Sunday night that they’ve failed to do the last 20 years – win an elimination game on the road. That’s right, the last time the Cowboys won a do-or-die game on the road was 1992 in the NFC Championship Game win over the 49ers in Candlestick. Since then Dallas has lost 9 such games, including 5 under the guidance of Romo. And in all but 1 of those 9 the margin has 10+ points.
*My New Year’s resolution? To love with the same intensity as I hate. As I’ve grown older I’ve mastered the art of dislike, constant picking apart people and things such as TV commercials, etc. So I’m trying to embrace all that’s good in life, including and starting with dogs. I’ve owned several dogs in the past, but always on my terms. As in, they were outside dogs who were invited in when I wanted them in. Sybil’s 2 dogs are the opposite. They get what they want when they want, and they have 4 dog beds in our house, not including our couches. Where she sees “widdle paw paws” and “cute little cuddle faces” and “waggy wag tails”, I see selfish animals that pee on the carpet, bark at the doorbell, think every meal is being cooked for them and who squeak and whine if they don’t get their way for 1 millisecond. In other words, my resolution is a work in progress.
*Cowboys-Redskins drew NBC’s largest primetime football audience in 15 years and in Dallas-Fort Worth the game earned a 37.0 rating. So much for the Cowboys becoming irrelevant, huh?
*The Cotton Bowl is tonight but, really, who cares? For all but 2 teams college football’s regular season is more important than bowl season. And on Monday Alabama will beat an overhyped Notre Dame team soundly. Please don’t forget that Pitt missed a 32-yard field goal in overtime that would’ve beaten the Irish in South Bend. The kick wasn’t blocked. Just missed. Lucky teams might make magical runs, but they don’t win championships.
*When Jerry Jones says it’s going to be “uncomfortable” at Valley Ranch for weeks and months, he must be talking about turning off the heat. Because there will be no foundational changes via coach or coordinator or quarterback. I don’t blame Jerry for his frustration, but he’s blowing smoke.
*Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan apparently has a tattoo on his arm of his wife, dressed in a Mark Sanchez No. 6 jersey. The other Ryan – Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Rob – looks even worse in what’s draped over him. Rob has been a defensive coordinator for 8 seasons in the NFL. Exactly 0 of those teams recorded a winning record. Yep, he’s 0 for 8. This year his Cowboys made 7 interceptions, lowest total in the NFL. The Bears’ Tim Jennings had 9.
*The Cowboys will host Peyton Manning and the Broncos on Nov. 28 in the annual Thanksgiving game. Book it.
*Spent a great holiday vacation in Mexico, except for Sybil and all her farding. Look it up.
*Nobody on TV takes himself more seriously than Tom Rinaldi. He doesn’t do features or reports for ESPN, he conducts dramatic narratives. Vomit.
*Since winning Super Bowl XXX after the ’95 season, the Cowboys are 141-142 with 1 playoff win.
*Best Christmas gift: Full set of electronic drums. I’m not a drummer. But by this time next year I will be. Thanks, Santa Sybil.
*Wild Card Weekend winners: Texans, Packers, Ravens and Seahawks.
*This weekend? And just like that, the world screeches to a stop. No holiday parties. No Cowboys. Too damn cold for Saturday morning tennis. In other words, bah humbug. Feels like a good time to use some Christmas gift cards and watch some NFL Playoffs. Don’t be a stranger.
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