Inside the Dallas Cowboys

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Stop worrying about the Cowboys’ meaningless preseason struggles
Jean-Jacques Taylor – SportsdayDFW

Too many of you have gone off the deep end based on the Cowboys’ ragged performance during the preseason.

For you, I have some advice: Relax.

Take a deep breath and visualize warm, wonderful thoughts. Here’s all you need to know about the preseason: As long as your Cowboys didn’t go 0-4, they’re in good shape.

In the last decade, 19 teams have gone 0-4 in the preseason. Only three of those teams – the 2009 Cardinals, the 2005 Colts and the 2000 Giants – have made the playoffs.

Just so you know, eight of the 18 teams that went 4-0 during the same span made the playoffs. That’s because some teams play to win in the preseason, and some teams spend a tad more time game-planning than others.

Teams that have new coaches have usually taken over poor teams, so they might place more emphasis on winning than established teams such as Indianapolis and Denver.

Bottom line: Don’t go crazy over the Cowboys’ preseason performance. It just doesn’t mean that much.

COWBOYS Q&A

Q: Can you give us some insight and thoughts on David Buehler?

James Stockbridge, Georgia

TAYLOR: Buehler had a solid preseason and an outstanding final game of the season. He’s such a weapon with his kickoffs that the Cowboys wanted him to win the job badly. He made a winning field goal in the Miami game and drilled a kick from 51. The problem, of course, is that he’s never done it in the NFL. He has no track record because he didn’t have many pressure kicks the year he handled those duties as USC. He had about as strong a preseason as possible. Now, it’s time to see what he can do when the lights come on.

•   •   •

Q: What’s the real story on Cletus Gordon? Somebody wrote that he “tailed off” at the end of camp. What does that mean? All indications were that he was constantly making plays – turnovers, in particular. Was this a financial decision? Was he a jerk? A nut? A thug (drugs/violence/guns)? Just not good enough?

Thad Bartholow

TAYLOR: He’s not quite good enough. There’s a reason he’s bounced around the league. When you’re the fourth cornerback, you have to be good on special teams. He’s not. That’s probably the difference. Interceptions are good, but they’re not an indication of playing well. Some coaches would prefer you play the proper technique and make the proper play 99 percent of the time with no interceptions as opposed to doing those things 75 percent of the time and getting five interceptions.

•   •   •

Q: How come the Giants have the great QB Eli Manning and they still acquire a great quarterback like Sage Rosenfels. If what Romo gets hurt and is out for season? What the Cowboys are doing to do? We need good backup players in every position.

Gary

TAYLOR: You didn’t really refer to Rosenfels as great, did you? He’s not. He’s a career backup. Nothing more. There’s nothing wrong with that, but let’s not get carried away. In seven seasons, he’s played only 32 games with 30 touchdowns and 29 interceptions. There aren’t more than 20 good quarterbacks in this league, which means virtually every team in the league is in trouble if its quarterback is out for more than 2-3 games.

•   •   •

Q: The Cowboys have passed on a lot of offensive linemen that could have been upgrades. What do you think now about that decision to release Flozell.

Jonathan Hazel

TAYLOR: First, you tell me the quality offensive linemen that were available. There weren’t many, if any. Teams don’t let good offensive linemen go. Ever. Unless they have some issues – legal, substance abuse, money – that make the player not worth the headache to keep. I don’t second-guess the decision to let Adams go – unless it’s because you wanted Doug Free to play right tackle instead of Marc Colombo. I think Colombo will be fine at left tackle.

•   •   •

Q: The national media is starting to question this supposed Super Bowl contender after their preseason performance, and I’m siding with the national media. The Cowboys still thinks they can just turn it on or off whenever they want to. Your thoughts?

Glenn Guillory, Baytown

TAYLOR: You’re putting way too much emphasis on the preseason. Did they look good? No. Should they have looked better? Absolutely. But the only thing that really matters in the preseason is if a team goes 0-4 or 4-0. Over the last decade, teams that go 4-0 generally make the playoffs and those that go 0-4 generally miss the playoffs. Everything else is a crapshoot. Let’s see what happens when the season starts. That’s when all questions will be answered.

•   •   •

Q: If the preseason is about individual growth, then the Texans game showed me no growth in the last year at quarterback.

Shorty Pettit, Minot, ND

TAYLOR: Shorty, you should know better. Romo had 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions last year. He proved he’s a good quarterback, and he will be a good quarterback this season. Romo really works on his game and tries to improve on specific aspects of it each year. I’m interested to what type of progress he’ll make this season.

•   •   •

Q: I believe Doug Free will have an excellent season and will surprise a lot of people. My gut tells me he might even have a shot to play at the Pro Bowl. In addition to his physical ability, he’s intelligent. Last year he played well. I would have started him over Colombo against Minnesota. Your thoughts.

Ramon Martinez, Puerto Rico

TAYLOR: That’s why I wasn’t worried about getting rid of Flozell Adams. We’ve seen nothing on the field to suggest Free won’t play well. I expect him to play well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he made the Pro Bowl, either. He’s such a good athlete that the Cowboys should be able to consistently attack the perimeter on sweeps and tosses to his side.

•   •   •

Q: With rosters about to get cut down across the NFL, I say the single most important point of focus for the Cowboys should be acquiring a veteran backup center. Agree or disagree?

Ami Heda

TAYLOR: I agree, but the Cowboys aren’t interested in spending any money, so that’s not going to happen. Kyle Kosier has never done it in the NFL, and Phil Costa is an undrafted free agent. If Andre Gurode goes down, this offense will have a myriad of problems.

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