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"Life in the UK"
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale
Romo's Pause Just What Dallas Needed
If I suggest that the Cowboys will be okay without Tony Romo — that they would 'get through it' — that won't be the most original thought in blogdom this week. I have faith that Brad Johnson's veteran (Super Bowl winning) savvy will keep things ticking over, and that the Cowboys will at least split their games in the absence of Romo, allowing them to stay in the hunt and be in position to fight on when Romo returns.
But that's not my point. I say the Cowboys needed this injury.
Psychologically, the Cowboys are in a bad place. It seems like Terrell Owens is exerting pressure on the shape of the offensive scheme, demanding and monopolizing attention. It seems that Adam Jones is still the 'Pacman' of old. It seems like the Cowboys read too much of the preseason predictions about themselves, that they haven't been ready to drop the other shoe and be the five–star team they ought to be. Instead they are flailing for balance on the edge of an abyss of distractions.
The loss of Romo gives the Cowboys an opportunity.
It is an opportunity to rally, to discover in themselves the 'team' they should be. Johnson gives them an excuse not to look for the big play as priority, to launch something at T.O. forty yards deep just to make him feel special. Having Brad under center demands some support. It will force them to throw the ball shorter, quicker, across the middle, to play a possession passing game, to rely more heavily on a rushing game that was used just eleven times in the loss to Washington, and that utilized Felix Jones just three times in the loss to Arizona.
Fortunately, the Cowboys are really good at these things. Marion Barber is a willing workhorse, Felix Jones is an offensive explosion waiting to happen, and T.O. is just as excellent a short–medium threat as he is deep downfield. WR Patrick Crayton is no slouch either, and TE Jason Witten leads the team with 39 receptions. The Cowboys could be forced to do the things they should be doing.
The estimated four–game loss of Romo — and the suspension of Pacman — has also presented owner Jerry Jones with the perfect moment to grab hold of the Cowboys and shake some sense into them. Jerry traded for Lions WR Roy Williams two minutes before the trade deadline Tuesday, supplying Terrell Owens with a massive 'shut up' statement.
The team paid 1st, 3rd and 6th round picks in exchange for Williams plus a 7th. The Cowboys owner clearly doesn't intend to let this year slip away. The stories may swirl around Romo, Pacman, T.O. and Roy Williams, but the conclusion of the last three days is that Jerry Jones remains the central influence on the fate of the team.
Stick A Fork In ... the Seattle Seahawks
Reports of bickering assistants, a head coach who is retiring at the end of the season, and now three games back from the division leading Cardinals, who look quite capable of maintaining their advantage. It's hard to see the Seahawks getting out of this one. Holmgren has made the Seahawks an annual contender this past decade, only twice posting a losing record (6–10, 7–9 in 2000 and 2002), leading them to the playoffs the past five years, and the Superbowl after the 2005 season. But it just goes against human nature to expect a fight–back from a 1–4 team that's this damaged and that knows a new era starts next year anyway.
No Fluke: Falcons WR Roddy White
We're all coming to understand that Matt Ryan looks like the real deal at quarterback, and that running back Michael Turner is everything we suspected he was for those four years he backed up Tomlinson at San Diego. But it's White who has been the quiet revelation. Last season he hit 1200 yards despite the chaos, and this year is on pace for 1500 yards. That's a pretty nice turnaround for a player who, during the Michael Vick era, managed 950 yards and only 3 scores over two years, and was looking like a partial bust after being a first–round pick.
Reality Check: Broncos Run Defense
It isn't that teams haven't run on the Broncos, but that not enough teams have been taking the open invitation to smack Denver in the face. I was astounded (I shouldn't have been) in week one when the Raiders abandoned the run in the Broncos' red zone. The Chargers failure to power the ball up the middle was as much a factor in their week two loss as Ed Hochuli's call. And without Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush alone lacked the punch to punish the Broncos in week 3. Finally teams seem to be getting there. The Chiefs' Larry Johnson crashed through for almost 200 yards against them, and, after the Buccaneers ignored the run — and lost — the Jaguars hit the Broncos in the chest with Maurice Jones–Drew 22 times to deliver Denver's second loss. It's doubtful whether the Patriots have the back to punish Denver, but with Ronnie Brown, Jamal Lewis and Michael Turner to follow, holding off the Chargers in the AFC West could get much tougher in November.
Why?: Cleveland Throwbacks
What is the point of the Cleveland throwback uniforms when they look almost exactly like their regular dark brown jersey strip, but with numbers on the helmets? Numbers so reed–thin that they look like they just drew them on with magic markers. Yeah, I realize that the continuity of the Browns strip means there is no historically different version, but why have a throwback version at all if it means three stripes on the socks and an opportunity to mess up the uniquely logo–less helmets? Still if it helps beat the Giants, it's sharpies all round for the NFC East.
It All Worked Out In The End: Texas v Oklahoma
I was thinking of introducing a section about the college polls called 'Who Got Jobbed?', but bizarrely, there is little to fault with this week's polls, which have much of the top ten separated by such narrow margins of points that it's all clearly to play for. So, here's something of a happy ending for today's column: when the dust settled on the Red River Shootout (because it was), all of the idiot referee flags for brushing–the–passer–on–the–sideline, the interception which didn't count, the non–touchdown that did, and the worst acting job by a kicker ever to earn a penalty all more of less cancelled each other out, leaving the result as legitimate, Texas' claim of the no.1 spot justified (for this week, anyway), and everybody else still as much in the national championship picture as they had been the week before.
Unless you're Notre Dame. Or Michigan.