Dallas Cowboys: Mike Vick

Tony Romo just needs to win

June, 27, 2012
Fans and some members of the media can be harsh when it comes to quarterbacks.

Just listen to some fans in Baltimore talk about Joe Flacco. Fans of the New York Giants were still on Eli Manning last season and he had already won a Super Bowl.

Former Cowboys receiver Patrick Crayton reacts to Brett Favre's comments on Tony Romo.

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Brett Favre praised Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo the other day on NFL Network, saying he was underrated.

Most of the criticism directed toward Romo is from fans and some media members still upset with him about his Cabo trip in 2007 during the bye week of the NFL playoffs and the fact that he has just lone playoff victory.

Romo is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and well-respected by his peers.

If you compare Romo to some other quarterbacks in the league you would be impressed with his numbers. But there's one number that means everything to Romo at this stage of his career: Playoff wins.

Romo is 1-3 in the postseason. Compare that to Matt Ryan, who is winless in three postseason appearances, and Mike Vick, who is 2-3 in the playoffs.

Romo has won 48 NFL games since 2006, but he needs to take his team on a deep playoff run. Missing the playoffs for a third consecutive season doesn't help his cause with some fans and media members. It also might hurt his standing in the front office if the Cowboys go three consecutive seasons without a playoff berth.

Romo has two seasons left on his contract and there seems to be a good vibe about extending it. Will it change if Romo fails to reach the postseason in 2012?

It's hard to win the playoffs. Just ask Flacco, who has played eight of his nine playoff games on the road in his career.

For Romo it's not about being more of a leader -- he already is -- it's about the wins and losses. That's why you see Romo with a serious tone with reporters during the offseason. He understands it's not about surpassing Danny White and Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman on the franchise passing lists, it's about postseason wins.

You hear Romo's voice more often during the offseason workouts and notice he gets upset when things don't go well on the practice fields. Every play and every minute of the offseason means something to him.

I don't think Romo got enough credit during the lockout last year for gathering his teammates together. He sent out a massive email to a large selection of teammates telling them to attend the workouts at an area high school. When Dez Bryant failed to attend one of the sessions, Romo wanted it pointed out the young receiver reached out to him saying something was going on and it was fine.

Romo is holding players more accountable than ever, yet the bottom line for Romo is postseason wins.

All quarterbacks are judged that way. Well, at least in Dallas they are.

Cowboys' schedule soft around Thanksgiving

April, 17, 2012
The closest thing to a soft stretch in the Dallas Cowboys' schedule comes right after they finish their third set of back-to-back road trips over the first nine games.

After that, the Cowboys get three consecutive home games against teams that didn’t make the playoffs last season.

They better beat the Browns, a team that went 4-12 last season and sorely lacks offensive weapons. Whether it’s Colt McCoy or rookie Ryan Tannehill under center, the Dallas defense should be able to rattle an inexperienced quarterback.

They’ll see another rookie four days later, assuming that Robert Griffin III is healthy when the Redskins come to Cowboys Stadium for Thanksgiving. As talented as Griffin is, he’ll be a rookie with no potent playmakers around him. That’s another must-win at home.

That’s followed by a home game against Philadelphia, which was arguably the most disappointing team in the NFL last season. The Eagles have plenty of weapons, but who knows if injury-prone Michael Vick will be healthy this deep into the season. Whether or not they face Vick, the Cowboys need this game if they plan to make the playoffs.
Will the Eagles hit their average of six plays of 20 yards or more Saturday against the Cowboys?

After what you've seen the past several weeks, you couldn't possibly think the Cowboys can stop Philadelphia's offense.

Not when Dallas has made average quarterbacks such as Washington's Rex Grossman, Miami's Matt Moore and Arizona's Kevin Kolb resemble the game's best quarterbacks. Do you really think this pass defense that Eli Manning torched for 400 yards passing can hold up against Philadelphia's big-play attack?

It can't. And it won't.

Philadelphia is tied for third in the NFL in plays of 20 yards or more with 73. The Eagles rank second in plays of 10 yards or more with 226.

The Cowboys have allowed 33 plays of 20 yards or more in their last eight games. See, this is a bad matchup for the Cowboys. When the Eagles go to their formation with three receivers, a tight end and a running back, Dallas is going to have all sorts of matchup problems.

In his last two starts against the Cowboys, Mike Vick has led the Eagles to an average of 32 points and more than 7.0 yards per play.

None of this means the Cowboys can't win. It just means Dallas' only shot is to win a shootout because the Eagles will hit their average of six plays of 20 points or more and score at least 31 points.

Scout's Eye: Cowboys-Eagles matchups

October, 28, 2011

Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware vs. Eagles LT Jason Peters: Peters returns to the starting lineup this week after missing the last two games with a hamstring injury.

He is a large man that will struggle at times to move. Peters can be a little slow-footed and will become overextended in his pass set. There are times where he will give up the corner and allow the rusher to get around him. The harder that the rusher gets to the shoulder, the harder it is for him to work in front of his man.

Ware is the type of player that gives Peters fits because he has a hard time adjusting to his rush. If Peters tries to overset and get wide, Ware can take him down inside. It is under this type of pressure that Peters will struggle because he will not be able to adjust quickly enough.

I believe that Ware will try to keep a wider rush path in this game, as will Anthony Spencer. Vick has made some of his bigger runs this season when the rush gets trapped inside, he reads the coverage and he takes the ball outside. Peters wants you to rush him down the middle so he can use his mass to stop the defender’s charge because he doesn’t have to move his feet.

Earlier this week, Ware was asked if it makes a difference rushing a left-handed quarterback. His response was, he thought it was good that Vick could see him coming on the rush. Against Peters this week, Vick might see Ware a bunch.

Cowboys RT Tyron Smith vs. Eagles DE Jason Babin: When the Cowboys drafted Smith with the ninth overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, this was the type of game that they had in mind.

The Eagles have two outstanding pass rushers in Trent Cole and Jason Babin. Cole will be rushing over left tackle Doug Free, while Smith will handle Babin.

When you study Babin, the first thing you notice is how quick he gets off the snap. It almost looks like he is in a track stance when he is coming off the ball. He is extremely quick up the field and plays with suddenness to his game. Smith is more than athletic enough to handle the speed of Babin, but there are also a great deal of pass rush moves that he has to deal with. Babin likes to spin, dip or just explode up the field.

One of his real strengths is to attack the outside shoulder of the tackle. If he can get to the corner, he can get around you. Like most good pass rusher, Babin doesn’t give you much of a hitting surface to deal with. The most important thing for Smith to do in this game is get his hands on Babin as quickly as possible and not allow him to get up the field. Smith needs to find a way to make Babin restart his rush and don’t let his build momentum to the quarterback.

Smith also has to be careful of the way that Babin lines up very wide. One of the problems that Smith has had this season was the inside rush but its more with a guy that has strength. Babin doesn’t have that type of strength but he can rush inside. If the Cowboys are going to move the ball offensively, Smith will need to find a way to not allow Babin to become a factor in the game.

Cowboys ILB Sean Lee vs Eagles RB LeSean McCoy:There are so many things that LeSean McCoy does well for the Eagles offensively whether it’s taking the inside handoff out of the gun, running the crack toss on the outside or catching the red zone screen and taking it in for the touchdown.

When Rob Ryan builds his game plan, right below on having to deal with Vick is how to deal with McCoy as well. Sean Lee will need to be outstanding in this game.

The Eagles like to formation you to death and are very creative in the way they run their plays. Lee and Keith Brooking are outstanding at how quickly they are able to see the formation and at the snap of the ball, react to the play. The Eagles like to try and use misdirection to create a mismatch and the big play. Linebackers will get confused with all the movement, then you lose track of McCoy and he hits you for the big play.

With the Eagles struggles in the offensive line, look for Lee to take advantage of his ability to see the play develop and run through for the tackle. If you asked me who the best tackler for the Cowboys on defense was, I would say Sean Lee. Against a dynamic back such as LeSean McCoy, he will need to be at the top of his game at all times.

'All-hype' shot won't matter Sunday

October, 27, 2011

IRVING, Texas – Mike Vick’s first reaction was to be irate. Now, he pretty much considers Rob Ryan’s all-hype jab irrelevant.

Hey, it’s hard to get to worked up over comments that have proven to be at least half right.

The 2-4 Eagles have been all hype so far. We’ll see Sunday whether the Cowboys “kick their ass,” as Ryan promised when he made the transparent reference to the NFC East favorite in August.

If Philadelphia wins, don’t blame Ryan’s bulletin-board material. Not even if he fills up our notebooks with more trash talk when the Valley Ranch media talks to the defensive coordinator Friday afternoon.

It’d be a sexy storyline, but it’d also be silly. If the Eagles need to dust off a dozen-week-old quote to get fired up for the Cowboys’ visit to Lincoln Financial Field, well, Andy Reid ought to be fired. The desperation of a season on the brink of doom ought to be plenty of motivation for the Eagles.

If Ryan’s comments lit a fire under the Eagles, wouldn’t that have been evident early in the season?

Mike Vick shouldn't play Sunday

December, 29, 2010
You could make a strong case that the Eagles should rest Michael Vick for the regular-season finale regardless of his health.

Philadelphia’s loss to the Vikings last night locked the Eagles into the NFC’s No. 3 seed. There is nothing to be gained by playing Vick against the Cowboys, especially considering the fact that DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer unleashed a few vicious hits on Vick when the teams met recently at JerryWorld.

The quad contusion suffered by Vick last night should make sitting him an easy decision for coach Andy Reid. Vick was walking very gingerly after last night’s loss and has only four days to rest before the Cowboys come to town. Why would Reid risk Vick taking another hit to his sore leg?

It looks like this could be a clash of native Texan backup quarterbacks: Stephen McGee vs. Kevin Kolb. That’s probably not what Fox had in mind when the network flexed this game to the 3:15 time slot.

UPDATE: Reid said during a conference call with the Valley Ranch media that no decision has been made on Vick's status, but the quarterback would not be able to play today. "He hurt his quad a little bit," Reid said. "If we had to play, he probably wouldn’t be able to do it. By Sunday, he should be able to function pretty good."