Frankly Football (cont.)
The Cowboys pass rush: As many of you know, I believe the key to winning is not with shutdown corners, but with having a pass rush that can make plays at critical times. And so far, other than brief glimpses of DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys pass rush has been nonexistent.
I know it's early and the Cowboys were coming off a tough two-week stretch, but in the Denver game, the Cowboys locked onto blocks and allowed Jay Cutler to have an easy time picking apart the secondary.
With 2007 first-round pick Anthony Spencer having knee surgery and Tank Johnson showing slight flashes, the Cowboys need to find a way to consistently pressure the good passing teams and keep from allowing points at the end of the half and the start of games. That was their Achilles heel last season. For the Cowboys to take the next step, their defensive line needs to really step up and attack the passer.
From the Cincinnati Enquirer: "I'm not interested [in having Chris Henry return]," Marvin Lewis said at the team's annual preseason luncheon July 22. "I don't think it would be productive for our football team. You have to be a productive part to be an NFL player, and there's responsibilities to being an NFL player. It's a privilege, it's not a right. There's a lot that comes with being an NFL football player."
One thing I have learned in my 23 years in the NFL is the owners own the team. And it will always be THEIR team. I feel bad for Lewis as he tries to control the locker room with everyone knowing he was completely against this move. In fact, someone actually paid for a billboard sign on Interstate 75 in Kentucky, with the words, "Chris Henry Again? Are you serious"? Mike Brown is very serious.
From the South Florida Sun Sentinel: "Two, one, I'm not sure where they are right now," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said of the QB depth chart. "It's hard to tell. Chad [Pennington] hasn't had a lot of work right now. But I feel really comfortable with Chad Henne and my evaluation of where he is. I think he's developed a bunch since the start of rookie camp."
Henne has been very impressive for the Dolphins and could not be in a better situation for his growth as he becomes an NFL quarterback. Henne, right now, appears to be the best rookie quarterback in the 2008 draft, and even though the Dolphins have signed Pennington to be the starter, look for Henne to receive regular season work.
From the Dallas Morning News: "I get criticized because I collect quarterbacks," Bucs coach Jon Gruden bristled after practice last week. "I collect rock and roll guitars. I collect antique football cards. That's what I collect."
And right now, Bucs GM Bruce Allen is probably fielding a few calls to see if they will part with one of Gruden's prized possessions. Many teams have yet to find a legitimate backup, starting with Dallas, New England and Green Bay.
From HBO's Hard Knocks: "He hates losing more than he likes winning," Cowboys WR Patrick Crayton on QB Tony Romo.
I just love that quote. And it's backed up in how Romo approaches the game. I've been told that he never played tennis before high school and was challenged to a match by the best player on the varsity team. Romo won without losing a set. The passionate will to win is what takes him from being good to great.
If I ...
If I were the Cleveland Browns, I would be a little worried about my team's ability to play man-to-man in the secondary. The Browns' season will come down to their defensive lines' ability to apply pressure on the passer, because right now, the Browns don't appear to be able to cover in the secondary.
If I were a team playing the Denver Broncos, I would worry more about their passing game than their running game. The Broncos, with Jay Cutler playing wonderfully in his third season, appear as if they can really throw the ball. Rookie wide receiver Eddie Royal is making plays for them while Brandon Marshall serves his suspension. Without a dominating running back, the Broncos will be a throw-first team this year.
If I were the Green Bay Packers, I might want to try and run the ball a little more and take the pressure off Aaron Rodgers. The Packers have been a huge throwing team this summer, but this is not the same offense as it was with Brett Favre. Rodgers will need some balance in the play calls as he gains more experience in the offense.
If I were the Philadelphia Eagles, I would be happy Shawn Andrews is back in camp and would help him in any way possible. Andrews is suffering from depression, but seems ready to resume his career. And the Eagles need him back badly. Their offensive line has struggled, specifically right guard Max Jean-Gilles.
Taking a Knee
I would like to extend my sincere condolences to the Gene Upshaw family. Gene did many great things for the players on and off the field and having labor peace allowed football to become America's game. He will be missed, but his hard work and love of the game will live forever on Sunday.
Read more from Michael Lombardi at The National Football Post.