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Cowboys Seek to Stay Afloat Without Romo and Suspended Defenders as 2016 Season Opens 0

Posted on September 10, 2016 by Chris Kent

The questions for the 2016 Dallas Cowboys were supposed to be on defense. With defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy

DeMarcus Lawrence leaves a void on the defensive line for Dallas.

DeMarcus Lawrence leaves a void on the defensive line for Dallas.

Gregory along with linebacker Rolando McClain all facing at least four-game suspensions due to violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, the unit projected to have some weak links. Lawrence and Gregory are each suspended the first four games while McClain is suspended the first 10 games. This is the second straight year that McClain has been suspended as he missed the first four games of the 2015 regular season, also due to substance abuse violations.

While the defense will have to weather the storm with some new faces acquired from the draft and free agency, the offense has a glaring absence. Tony Romo. Again.

Romo suffered a compression fracture of his L1 vertebra in a preseason loss at Seattle on Aug. 25. It is the fourth time in his career that he has sustained a back injury and it is the second straight year that the veteran pro bowl quarterback will miss multiple games with an extended absence. Romo will be out anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks from the time of the injury. Romo missed 12 games in 2015 due to two fractures of his left (non-throwing shoulder) clavicle, an injury he has sustained three times in his career dating back to 2010.

The Cowboys now turn to Dak Prescott, a rookie fourth-round draft pick out of Mississippi State. Prescott was impressive in the preseason during which he went 39-for-50 for 454 yards, 5 touchdowns, and no interceptions. His quarterback rating was 137.8. He also showed his versatility by carrying the ball seven times for 53 yards and scoring two touchdowns. Read the rest of this entry →

Romo Endures for Dallas Despite Injuries 3

Posted on September 06, 2016 by Chris Kent

Tony Romo has been beaten and battered throughout his career with injuries. At 36, the veteran quarterback is in the twilight of his playing career. The 2016 season – which kicks off Sept. 8 – will be Romo’s 14th season in the league and his 10th full season as the starter for the Dallas Cowboys.

Romo is tackled by Seattle's Cliff Avril during a preseason game on Aug. 25. Romo suffered a compression fracture of his L1 vertebra on the play.

Romo is tackled by Seattle’s Cliff Avril during a preseason game on Aug. 25. Romo suffered a compression fracture of his L1 vertebra on the play.

Romo suffered a compression fracture of the L1 vertebra in a preseason loss at Seattle on Aug. 25 when he was tackled from behind by the Seahawks’ Cliff Avril as he was going into a slide. Romo stayed down and immediately reached for his back before walking off the field on his own power after trainers attended to him on the field. This was the worst thing that could of happened to Romo and the Cowboys as Romo – although tough and still a very capable player – is fragile. This is the product of many injuries that the four-time pro bowler has been victimized by during a career full of injuries.

Specifically, the injuries and re-injuries to both his back and left clavicle have caused him to miss 24 games over the last six seasons during which Dallas has gone 6-18. Since 2010, Romo has suffered four back injuries and three fractures of his left (non-throwing shoulder) clavicle. This has left him more vulnerable to open hits by unblocked defenders and blitzing linebackers. Romo’s first back surgery was in April of 2013 to remove a cyst. He had another back surgery that December to repair a herniated disk that he suffered in a game where he lead the Cowboys to a come-from-behind win at Washington.

Romo goes down during a game in 2010 against the New York Giants with what was the first break of his left collarbone.

Romo goes down during a game in 2010 against the New York Giants with what was the first break of his left collarbone.

Back in 2010, Romo broke his left clavicle for the first time in a home loss to the New York Giants on Monday Night Football on Oct. 25, the team’s sixth game of the season. He missed the rest of that season as Dallas was 1-7 at midseason, fell out of the playoff race in early December, and finished just 6-10. Read the rest of this entry →

2016 NFL Preview: Will Defense Rule Again? 0

Posted on September 05, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Few would be surprised if the NFC Championship again comes down to the Carolina Panthers against the Arizona Cardinals.

Few would be surprised if the NFC Championship again comes down to the Carolina Panthers against the Arizona Cardinals.

Despite all the talk that an NFL team must have a top-level quarterback and offense to be competitive, the reality is that 11 of the 12 playoff teams in 2015 (all except for the Washington Redskins) ranked in the top half of the league in scoring defense.

The Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos were especially reliant on their defense as they finished 19th in the NFL in scoring offense, but allowed the fourth fewest points in the league.

Whether the Broncos can repeat that pattern in 2016 will certainly be put to the test as their offense could struggle. With Peyton Manning making TV commercials (and cupcakes) and Brock Osweiler off to the Houston Texans, the Broncos are giving the quarterback duties to former 7th round pick Trevor Siemian, who has played in one NFL regular season game and is yet to throw a pass in an official game.

The defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers also had a great defense in 2015 (ranked 6th in points allowed), but they also had the best quarterback in the league and scored an NFL-best 500 points. If Cam Newton continues to play at an MVP level and the defense can overcome the loss of All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman, look for them to again be the team to beat in the NFC.

Below are five additional interesting storylines to follow in 2016:

Has the Window Closed for the Green Bay Packers?
Since winning Super Bowl XLV following the 2010 season, the Green Bay Packers have made five straight playoff appearances, including a 10-6 record a year ago. However, with the exception of the 2014 season when they had the Seattle Seahawks on the ropes in the NFC Championship Game, they have been unable to get past the divisional playoff round.

With 32-year-old quarterback Aaron Rodgers entering his ninth season as the starter and other key veterans closing in on the latter stages of their careers, the Packers may be nearing the point where their chances to win another championship in the near future are narrowing.

There was a time when it seemed that Rodgers had his pick of great offensive weapons. However, last season the preseason loss of Jordy Nelson exposed a lack of receiver depth and Rodgers seemed to be a victim. He posted the lowest completion percentage of his career and the fewest passing yards of any full season since he became the starter in 2008. His 92.7 quarterback rating was also the lowest of his career.

After being sacked only 28 times in 2014, Rodgers hit the dirt 46 times a year ago, which could have contributed to his struggles. It will be crucial for the Packers to shore up the offensive line and give Rodgers more time to work his magic.

With Nelson back this season and Eddie Lacy looking for a rebound season after struggling with his weight a year ago, it will be interesting to see if Rodgers returns to the top of the league statistically or if he will continue a slight decline.

Last year the Green Bay defense ranked 12th in points allowed, sixth in passing defense and 21st in rushing defense. While Green Bay’s success is generally dependent on Rodgers and the offense, they will go only so far if the defense struggles.

Will the Cincinnati Bengals Ever Win a Playoff Game?
The Cincinnati Bengals have reached the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons, including the last five in a row. However, each trip has concluded with a loss in the wild card round and most of the losses haven’t even been close. Read the rest of this entry →

NFL Injuries That Will Impact the 2016 Season 6

Posted on July 18, 2016 by Scott Huntington

The 2016-2017 NFL season is fast approaching. The first game is a Super Bowl rematch between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, on Thursday, September 8th, and for most fans, it can’t come soon enough.

Before that, though, millions of fans are speculating on everything NFL: Who should I pick for fantasy this year? How will my favorite team perform? Will injuries wreak havoc like last year? They’re all valid questions that fans will be discussing until opening night and beyond.

While the preseason brings a variety of injuries that are speculative in nature, at least in terms of how long they’ll hold a player out, there are several injuries that have a high certainty of impacting the NFL season. These are four of the high-profile NFL injury names to keep an eye on as September approaches:

1. Sammy Watkins

sammy

The Buffalo Bills #1 wide receiver is clearly a star in development. When he’s on the field, he’s electric. However, injuries have derailed him so far at times, with a broken foot putting into question Watkins’ readiness for week one. Recent news is optimistic though, as Watkins posted a video on Instagram of him running, while mentioning that his goal is to “get ready for the first game.” Even if he’s slow or a non-participant during training camp, Bills fans can likely expect him lining up for week one. Read the rest of this entry →

Pieces in Place for Dallas Cowboys to Contend for Super Bowl 50 2

Posted on September 13, 2015 by Chris Kent

The 2015-16 version of the Dallas Cowboys are about to be unveiled. The stage will be set as America’s Team will be showcased in prime time before a national television audience on NBC’s Sunday Night Football tonight. AT&T Stadium will be nothing short of a Texas-sized circus.

An offseason that brought many changes with additions and losses of players through free agency, the draft, trades, and undrafted signings has altered the Dallas team. The team’s offense, defense, and special teams will all feature new faces at key spots and those new faces will largely determine how successful the team is this year. While the Cowboys’ biggest loss is NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray, who is now wearing green and white in Philadelphia, other players will be missed. Dallas also lost their punt and kickoff return ace in Dwayne Harris who also contributed as a receiver. Offensive tackle Jeremy Parnell who was a valuable reserve for an offensive line that was regarded as the best in the NFL last season is now in Jacksonville. Also lost in free agency were linebacker Bruce Carter and defensive lineman Henry Melton. Both were important contributors to last year’s 12-4 team that won the NFC East and a playoff game, each for the first time in five years. Murray is the biggest loss out of this bunch as his franchise rushing record of 1,845 yards will be missed. Murray also ran for 13 touchdowns and had 57 receptions for 416 yards last season.

Former Oakland Raider Darren McFadden was signed by Dallas to help pick up the slack in the running game left behind by the free agent departure of DeMarco Murray

Former Oakland Raider Darren McFadden was signed by Dallas to help pick up the slack in the running game left behind by the free agent departure of DeMarco Murray.

This year’s running game appears as it will operate by committee unless someone emerges with consistent productivity. Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, and Lance Dunbar all bring different strengths and styles to the position. Randle, a third-year back out of Oklahoma State, brings speed but lacks experience. He has been serviceable in spot duty over his first two years but needs to fulfill his blocking assignments better. Two legal incidents including a shoplifting charge last year following the Cowboys’ upset win in Seattle have raised questions about his character. McFadden, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2006 and 2007, played seven injury-riddled seasons in Oakland where he managed to post only one 1,000-yard rushing season, that being in 2010 when he ran for 1,157 yards on 223 carries. Even then he ran for only seven touchdowns while also missing three games. Dunbar has amassed only 324 yards on 80 carries with no touchdowns in his three-year career. While each of these backs are different, they each can contribute. If McFadden can avoid the toe and chronic foot injuries that have plagued his career, he could be productive for Dallas while Randle will have to stay out of off-the-field trouble and be more consistent. Dunbar’s challenge will be to take advantage of his opportunities and be reliable as a pass catcher and blocker out of the backfield. Waiting in the wings in the backfield is Christine Michael who the Cowboys just signed this past week from Seattle. Michael saw only limited action in his two years as a Seahawk but was on Seattle’s Super Bowl XLVIII championship team. In time, Michael could make a contribution this season and have a chance to show more. If nothing else, he gives the Cowboys some depth at running back.

Read the rest of this entry →

Broncos Outlast Cowboys, Patriots and Seahawks Fall From Perfection: Week 5 NFL Headlines 1

Posted on October 08, 2013 by Andy Larmand

As we took off into the second quarter of the season (for most teams), the fascinating phenomena kept rolling in. Included in this week’s list is something that hasn’t happened to the New England offense in seven years, a first for any quarterback since the merger, the continuation of home dominance for one NFC North team, a record-tying day for one tight end and an offensive outburst in Dallas. Here are your Week 5 NFL headlines.

Travis Benjamin had a career night in the return game for the red-hot Browns.

Travis Benjamin had a career night in the return game for the red-hot Browns.

The Browns scored their first rushing touchdown of the season (and it wasn’t Trent Richardson) in their fifth game and stayed perfect when starting quarterback Brian Hoyer as they beat the Bills, 37-24, on Thursday night. They did, however, lose Hoyer for the season with a partially torn ACL suffered early in the game. Cleveland punt returner, Travis Benjamin, tied a franchise record with 166 punt return yards in the win for the first-place Browns. Their 37 points were the most they have scored in a game since putting up 41 back in 2009. Since Week 3, they are averaging 28.3 points per game after averaging eight points per game in the first two weeks.

The Patriots fell from the ranks of the unbeaten and the Bengals improved to 6-22 against the AFC East since 1998 as New England managed only six points in the 13-6 loss. The six points were the fewest for the high-powered New England offense since being shut out on Dec. 10, 2006, 21-0, in Week 14 against Miami. The Bengals’ 5-22 record had been the third-worst against one division in that span. Andy Dalton’s first-quarter interception in the red zone was the first red-zone pick of his career. Tom Brady fell two short of the all-time record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass as he failed to record one in game No. 53. The Pats had won 63 straight games when allowing 13 points or less with their last such loss coming in 2001. Read the rest of this entry →

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