Friday, October 31, 2008

Home Opening Woes

There was a celebration before the game, as Mark Cuban teamed up with Jerry Jones to announce the poorly-kept secret that the NBA All Star Game will be held right here in DFW next year at the new Cowboys Stadium. This made fans in an even more excited state as the Mavs faithful filed into the AAC to see what kind of basketball team they will get to witness this season. Will this year's Mavs be, as the critics from all over the country predict, between 7th and 9th place in the West and finally a non-contender? Or will the Mavs be, as Jason Terry predicted, far better than people are giving them credit for?

Right before tipoff, Jerry Stackhouse grabbed a mic and welcomed the fans in. He told the fans to "Buckle up, because this season is going to be fast and fun." Ironically, this would be the last time the fans clapped for Stack for the rest of the night. It felt like a All Star Game of it's own as Dirk, J Ho, Yao Ming, and Artest were all on fire. It was fast, it was very fun, but in the end came the same result as last season. A loss on the scoreboard, as the Mavs couldn't get the stops and shots they needed in the 4th quarter.

Tomorrow DallasDedicated will give you all the positives and negatives of last night's heartbreaking loss to the Rockets, as well as preview the first road game against the T'Wolves...


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Is T.O. Maturing?

I know that if I were a professional wide receiver--scratch that, a Pro Bowl wide receiver for The Dallas Cowboys, I would be frustrated with Brad Johnson being my quarterback. Now, let me make it clear that this is not a bashing-Johnson column; rather, it is one that a) shows the maturity of Terrell Owens (complete with examples!) and b) proves the already well-known fact the Brad Johnson is past his prime. Brad has had a great career, let's not forget that. But now, at 40 (seriously, he's that old), he has no business starting at quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.

If sunday's escape (not win, it was an escape) against Tampa Bay didn't make it evident enough, have no eyes. Johnson is the furthest thing from mobile, can't make quick reads, and always checks down to the little bailout dump downs. This was illustrated by his illustrious 3.8 yards per attempt. Even Navy had more yards per attempt when the played SMU. (Not really, it's called exaggeration. But if you haven't heard, click here and you'll understand.) In one instance Johnson did decide throw the deep ball--T.O. had beaten Akim Talib--and under threw it so badly Talib looked like the second coming of Deion Sanders.

So, being a Cowboys fan--of just being a citizen of the United States--you probably were ready for another frustration-fest from Terrell Owens. Yet, it never came. In fact, I'm sure ESPN was so upset that he did not loose his cool that they tried to fabricate a story saying he did (ESPN can be good at this. read: T.O. suicide attempt). His production has fallen violently this year, and it isn't all his fault. with 30 catches and 431 receiving yards, he is on pace for 60 grabs and only 860 yards, which would actually be his worst (full) season since his rookie year.

I ask you, now, to put yourself in Owen's shoes. Mighty frustrating, isn't it? Your Super Bowl-talented team in disarray behind a quarterback who would lose a throwing contest to Bethany Hamilton might tip an emotional person over the edge. In Owens' case, it has before. Many, many times. This time, however, Terrell has reacted differently. With maturity. In his interview with Ed Werder this week, Owens passed on multiple questions, because he did not, as NFC East blogger Matt Mosley put it: "want any part of the numerous questions about quarterback Brad Johnson."

Owens focused on the positives this time, citing that he threw the ball with Brooks Bollinger (Cowboys' third string QB...a lot younger than 40) and was impressed. Hint, hint. The only time frustration peaked through all week was a tactful quote:

"You're at a wide receiver position and you're capable of making plays," he said. "And you've made your career because of making plays, and you're not making them. It is frustrating."

And there you have it, the maturation of Terrell Owens. Hopefully most can realize that he guy is the ultimate competitor and just wants to help his team win. Yes, his antics may sometime cause people to think otherwise, but no one is as passionate about the game as Owens. Let this mark the beginning of the Brooks Bollinger campaign. That or the hurry-up-and-get-healthy-Romo campaign. The Cowboys need something this week against the Giants, and Brad Johnson is not it...unless "it" is holding for Nick Folk.

***DallasDedicated in no way meant to put down Bethany Hamilton. In fact, she should be praised and applauded for her unbelievable will and ability. We just think Brad Johnson can't throw the ball.

--In other news, the Mavericks open the regular season tomorrow night against Houston. More on the game soon.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mavs Waive McLeod; Open up new spot

Sources have confirmed that Keith McLeod has been waived by the Mavericks today. The injured point guard was going to be buried in the depth chart with little hope of any playing time. If indeed true, this could be good news for Mavs fans, many of whom were never particularly fond of McLeod, or who never saw the point in keeping him along with Kidd, Terry and Barea. Either way, this re-opens the 15th and final roster spot. Could the Mavs be looking to bring back someone recently cut or someone new from the outside? While those who followed the Summer League are clamoring for Charles Rhodes, Reyshawn Terry seems a likely choice by the front office.

We can't ignore the possibility the Mark Cuban is on to something and there is a good reason McLeod was let go. Do not put it past him to orchestrate some signing out of the blue that will make this team even better.

As the story develops, we will keep you updated. Have McLeod's injuries caught up to him? Did he spend his time to prove himself on a stationary bike working out that hamstring?


The Buzz Around DF-Dub

The Dallas area has been not-so-surprisingly depressing this last week. The Dallas Cowboys are the main reason for such a downtrodden feeling. After another terrible (and i mean terrible) loss on Sunday, the Cowboys are in complete disarray. All the talent amassed is going to waste, which means the fingers are being pointed at Wade Phillips. My co-blogger Nate will give you more on the Phillips' situation and the action Jerry Jones may be taking very soon. On top of that, new reports have indicated that Tony Romo will be out the next two games, and return after the bye week to play Washington. But cheer up, Dallas fans, it isn't as bad as you may think. Football isn't the only sport with promise in this city.

As you may know (most of you probably don't), the Dallas Stars made it to the Western Conference Finals last season, and are gunning for a return to the Stanley Cup this year, the tenth anniversary since Stanley was here. However, the season has started out a bit rocky. Never fear, though, as they still have second in the division and are improving every game. Perhaps best of all, the team has many budding young stars. Fabian Brunnstrom is the most notable, scoring a hat trick in his first ever game. Other youngsters such as James Neal and B.J. Crombeen have bright futures and will undoubtedly take Dallas to the next level. Besides, what is a better way to learn than under the tutelage of Mike Modano?

The Stars are in action Thursday night against a struggling New York Islanders team. A victory would be pivotal at this early season juncture and could propel the squad back to its winning ways. Watch for Marty Turco to get back into form and drop his 4 goals against per game average back down to his "normal" level.

With all the hype of the Stars returning to glory this season, don't expect this trend of poor play to continue. Once the many talented, young players adjust to the NHL life and game, the results will come.

The Dallas Mavericks wrap up preseason play this Thursday (tonight) against the Indiana Pacers and open up the regular season a week from now on October 30 against Ron Artest, the oft-injured stars McGrady and Yao, and the rest of the Houston Rockets. To prepare for this cross-state date, the Mavs had some cutting to do:

Say goodbye to Charles Rhodes (why? why?), JaJuan Smith, Reyshawn Terry and Cheyne Gadson. This means Keith McLeod will in fact make the roster. Many thought Terry and Rhodes were worthy of spots, and we wish the best of luck to these guys.

As well, the rotation is beginning to take form. Antoine Wright is going to nab the surprise starting spot at the 2. I can't say he hasn't earned it, either. Good for the Aggie, and good for the fast break offense. Terry will be the official sixth man, and Bass, Diop and Stackhouse will be major contributors off the bench. In fact, Bass has been seeing time and the 3, 4 and 5 spots of late. Rounding out the rotation is Gerald Green, who will fit in great to the fast break lead by Jason Kidd.

Those who were so quick to denounce the Jason Kidd trade, listen up. The new offense instituted by Rick Carlisle is going to be more than accommodating to Kidd's skill set. At the very least, the entertainment value to such a run-and-dunk system will be very high--and the results should be nice, as well. New, athletic players such as Wright and Green will get to shine, and big finishers around the basket like Brandon Bass will get more opportunities on offense than previously under Avery Johnson.

Many analysts have been quick to write off the Mavericks: most say Dallas is either a 7 or 8 seed, and others believe the Mavs are no longer a playoff team. Without knowing how to combat these charges, i thought it would be best to let's Marc Stein share exactly why Dallas will be back in the hunt this year:

"Just a thought: If they won 51 games last season when everyone in Mavsland was so unhappy, should we hold off on all those obituaries until we see how the Mavs look (and feel) under Carlisle?"

Brilliantly spoken, Marc. I applaud the lone journalist in the sport's world who is willing to buck the trend and make the simple realization that Dallas is still a good team. An elite team at that matter.

So, Dallas fans, keep your heads up and smile. The best is yet to come. And if that isn't enough to make you a little bit happier, recall this: the New York Giants hit a very rough patch last season after a 6-2 start and finished 4-4 in their last 8. Yet, as you know, they won the Super Bowl. The regular season is a long, extended battle that cannot be won or lost in the first 7 weeks of a season. The Cowboys have 9 games to get it together and return to the Super Bowl glory of the 1990s. Do not give up faith quite yet.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Not Your Typical Tuesday

What a day at Valley Ranch...Yesterday we here at DallasDedicated caught you up on all the injuries that plagued this team during the heartbreaking loss to the Cardinals (See "When It Rains, It Pours"). Little did we know that things were just beginning to shake up. Let's take a deep breath and catch up on all the news and deals that happened today in Cowboys Land.

First came the news out of the NFL offices that Adam 'Pacman' Jones was indeed suspended. DallasDedicated predicted yesterday that he would get one game at best, but we did not expect his indefinite suspension. At least 4 games is the initial word, with a possible chance for reinstatement by Commissioner Roger Goodell for Jones after Dallas' Week 11 game against Washington on Nov. 16. Sources inside DallasDedicated predict that Adam Jones will not be wearing a Dallas Cowboys uniform ever again. This comes at the worst possible time, as Roy Williams and Terence Newman are both injured. The defense has not played up to it's potential yet, and things should get worse with the departure of Pacman, who started in all 6 games for the 'Boys. The recent news for Pacman also makes Jerry Jones look bad, who went to a lot of trouble to get the troubled cornerback to Dallas. How would Jerry Jones respond to this mess? By making a major trade, of course.

There are now two players on the Cowboys with the name Roy Williams. Jerry Jones responded with the suspension and all the injuries by bringing in something he had been wanting since last year's playoff loss to New York, a elite number 2 receiver. Dallas sent Detroit a 1st, 3rd, and 6th round pick in exchange for the Texas-alum and explosive wideout, Roy Williams. While the price seems steep for Williams, Detroit does give Dallas a 7th round pick in the deal, as well as Dallas getting a 5th round pick from Tennessee since Adam Jones could not stay out of trouble.

Not only does this trade make the Cowboys offense ever more explosive, but this deal helps for the future as well. We all know Terrell Owens' age will be a factor, and if indeed an extension is signed by Williams today, it will help the Cowboys have an elite receiver long term. Only one issue arises from this deal: How will T.O. handle this? Will he be happy that he could see some single coverage now, or will he feel threatened that a player as capable as he at receiver will be his teammate? Sooner or later there will be a game when Williams gets 2 touchdowns and over 100 yards, while Owens gets only 3 catches for 30-something yards. Not until this happens will we truly know how T.O. will handle this new acquisition.
(SIDE NOTE: DallasDedicated is not excited that we will have to differentiate between the two Roy Williams in future posts. Will we make it UT Roy and OU Roy? Roy Williams (WR) and Roy Williams (SS)? I'm getting a headache just thinking about it!)

No Romo and no Felix does not necessarily mean no wins. Brad Johnson is a capable veteran with more offensive weapons around him than he or Jason Garrett will know what to do with. The team that people had written off when Romo's pinkie broke now have another elite receiver on their hands. It is going to be a very intriguing 4 weeks here in Dallas, and even more intriguing when Romo makes his return.

Will Romo be back sooner than originally thought? In the midst of all the wheelings and dealings today, Brett Favre called Tony Romo to offer advice and encouragement. Favre told Romo that he should try to see how playing with a splint feels. Romo has not yet been reached for his comments on having Roy Williams in the huddle, but we can assume that he is itching to get back on the field even more now. If Tony does indeed miss the next 3 games, then we here at DallasDedicated pray that Brad Johnson can get the ball to the flying Roy Williams down the field. Things may not be so bad after all...right?!
(UPDATE: Sources at ESPN say that Romo will be playing Sunday after all, splint and all!)


Monday, October 13, 2008

When It Rains, It Pours

The Cowboys may have not lost 91-0, but a loss is still a loss.
Besides the heartbreaking loss, players attitudes were at an all time low as well. The Cowboys now realize that they are going to have to work for every win, and any team can beat them if they do not want it more then their opponents. What the players probably did not know was that things were about to get a lot worse.
However, like the saying goes...when it rains, it pours.

Tony Romo was shaken up after the game, and when the media asked him how his finger felt, he looked into the reporter's eyes and muttered that he would be just fine. The Boy Wonder has a broken pinkie, and it will cause Cowboys fans to deal with Brad Johnson for the next 3 games. One has to wonder if the pinkie has been bothering Romo the last few weeks. He has admittedly not played up to his capability, despite what his statistics say. Anyone who watched the game became frustrated with Romo's play, yet he ended the game with a 113.3 passer rating. Tony always manages to throw for 3 touchdowns and over 300 yards, yet the turnovers were slowly becoming more and more costly. Maybe Tony Romo will come back in 5 weeks better than ever...right? RIGHT?!

That's not all, folks. Felix Jones had some hamstring problems yesterday, and now it appears that he will miss the next 2 weeks at the least with a strained hamstring. The running game is even more important now that Romo is down, and not having Felix's explosiveness in the backfield is going to hurt even more.

Can I possible have more bad news? Arguably the best punter in the NFL, Mat McBriar, is also battered and bruised. Cowboys punter Mat McBriar will miss 6-8 weeks with the foot contusion he suffered on the last play of Sunday's game in Arizona.
McBriar's kicking foot collided with Cardinals receiver Sean Morey, who blocked the punt and gave Arizona the win. McBriar's injury is an interesting one considering Dallas only has one punter on the roster.

So add these 3 players to the injured list along with Terence Newman and Roy Williams. But wait...there are 2 other issues that must be addressed...

It is very possible that Adam 'Pacman' Jones will be suspended at least one week for his involvement in a fight with a Cowboys-assigned bodyguard last Tuesday. Sources say that Pacman may have violated his probation since he was drinking prior to this scuffle. Commissioner Roger Goodell will most likely factor this into his decision on whether to suspend Jones. If Adam Jones does indeed get suspended, the already depleted secondary will be even more scarce.

So what else could possible go wrong? Wide receiver Sam Hurd, who has not yet made his return, will not be coming back anytime soon. Sam Hurd re-injured his ankle that he hurt during the preseason finale and needs surgery. The number 4 receiver will remain out of the mix for awhile, as Cowboys fans now know how New England felt after Week 1.

After the game, defensive veteran Greg Ellis had this to say about the Cowboys attitude: "I'm just disappointed in this organization right now. From the whole deal of it. Things just aren't going real good," Ellis said. "Before the game, I said everybody's got to take part in this football team - the strength coaches, the coaches, the owners, the head coaches. This football team is truly a team sport. You need everybody to win. Everybody has to do their best for us to win. Right now, I feel like we -- players, Greg Ellis included, all of us -- we're just not putting our best foot forward right now."

The attitude of the team has gone from Tampa bound to disappointment. Can the team pull together and rally in this time of turmoil? Or, will things get even worse as what seemed like the perfect season slowly spiral downward? We will have to wait and see...


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Game Day Thoughts

Today, we broke down the game based on the two halfs, as it was, after all, a tale of two halves. The first was ugly and unproductive for both sides; the second was ugly yet productive for both sides. The summary every analyst will give this week: "The Cowboys will not make the Super Bowl this season--way too inconsistent of a team." The motto of this season is quickly becoming "Prove the naysayers wrong" rather than "Easy access to the Super Bowl."

Some thoughts:

1st Half:

--Great kick return coverage. I guess the idea was to spot the Cards seven points so we can test our team against adversity.

--What on earth has happened to the offensive line? Barber can't do anything, and it's due to the awfully ineffective line.

--I know this has been a problem in the past, but it's now beyond ridiculous. Tony Romo, HOLD ON TO THE FOOTBALL. He was very lucky the first fumble wasn't able to be challenged, and even luckier that the NFL has that stupid tuck rule, but it is still inexcusable. Protect the ball for goodness sake, Tony. This is unbelievable. Most fumbled quarterback in history I'm sure.

--Great block by Barbie Carpenter. Oh wait, it was illegal. Was he trying to prove he isn't the soft player everyone knows he is? Yup.

--On Romo's fumble that was actually ruled a fumble, Andre Gurode just stood and watched the ball roll towards him. In his defense, he must not have seen it, so it should go down as unlucky, but wow, it seemed oh so obvious.

--At least the Cardinals fumble and throw interceptions as much as the 'Boys.

--The incessant penalties have returned after a two game absence. Lucky us.

--On a brighter note, the defense is playing very solidly. The D-Line is more than effective--Jay Ratliff has improved leaps and bounds and should be a Pro Bowl candidate.

--One (1) passing yard in the first quarter. Unbelievable.

--Finally, a great play. The touchdown by Crayton completely changed the momentum. Great kickoff by Nick Folk, too. I wish I could say the same about his field goal attempt. He's still Mr. Automatic to me, though. The confidence in victory has returned, I believe. Hopefully the second half will be more of the blowout fashion.

--Best part of the half: Terrell Owens throwing a nice block for Crayton on the touchdown AND running down the field with his arms up in celebration. This shows me that he truly does care about winning and a team effort, regardless (kind of...)of his personal performance.

2nd Half:

--This first drive seems like a return to the normal Cowboys' football. A great catch by T.O, a nice run by Felix Jones, a big third down conversion with Witten, and a great TD catch by Austin really set the tone for this half. Austin's catch also made Martellus Bennett's dreadful drop a little more forgivable. As well, don't be too quick to judge Bennett by his occasional butterfingers--there's a reason he is the heir to Jason Witten.

--The missed field goal by Folk must have gotten to his head. The kickoff out of bounds did not make any coaches happy.

--The TD to Fitzgerald was quite a buzz kill. Pacman is too short to be defending fades.

--Tashard Choice is a loose ball recovering wizard. The kickoff in the first half and the sneaky onside in the second. Hey, if you can't get the touches on offense, why not succeed somewhere else?

--The RomoFingers (Romo and Butterfingers spliced together) continue...

--As soon as Dallas gets momentum, the Cardinals respond and raise it another level. Two easy touchdowns after Dallas scored on their first drive. Is Anthony Henry performing at the same level he was at last year? Newman needs to get healthy, fast.

--Just as it seems the game is over and nothing good can happen, Barber explodes for an amazing touchdown. Simply amazing. Only words to describe it. All those check downs finally paid off.

--After that Leonard Davis celebration penalty, I think it's a great time to mention how ridiculous the NFL is to penalize someone for celebrating with a spike. Really?!

--Defensive play of the year by DaMarcus Ware with the 3rd down sack of Kurt Warner. Wow.

--Nick Folk has redeemed himself ten times over. What another clutch field goal! Overtime bound!Repeat of Buffalo (we hope)!


--Again another fumble by Romo. Is he serious? He's all too lucky it fell right into him. Terrible first series.

--And an even worse punt. Blocked for a touchdown, what a dagger. That's all I can say.

After a dramatic, 10-point, two minute comeback, Dallas blows it. Hopefully no one with cardiac problems viewed this game. The Cowboys have many, many problems to address, and this is becoming more and more obvious every week, yet there are seemingly no improvements. What a frustrating time to be a Cowboys fan.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dr. Diary: Stars Home Opener

We here at DallasDedicated decided to keep a running diary of the Stars home opener. Excitement and anticipation are in the air as the NHL season gets under way. Let's find out if I am capable enough to type out a diary as I try to watch at the same time. This should be interesting...

7:22 - A great analysis on Sean Avery. Did you know that Sean Avery was voted by Sports Illustrated as "Most Hated" but also a finalist for "Best Teammate"?

7:26 - Have you seen this? This is why Sean Avery is hated by his opponents...

7:42 - The game has still not started because the ice must be cleaned after the opening ceremony celebrating the Stars 15th year in Dallas.

7:48 - Game underway. Stars have 6 home opener wins in a row, let's make it 7!

7:58 - Stars on the man advantage. Brenden Morrow gets a good angle but has to adjust last minute and the wrister bounces off the left post. "DING!"

7:59 - The powerplay needs work. Head coach Dave Tippett expressed concern for this very issue throughout preseason, and the first man advantage most likely added some gray hairs for Tippett.

8:08 - Columbus strikes first, Jakub Voracek gets it through Turco's legs for the score (no pun intended)

8:13 - The powerplay was the key to the stars winning last year. Countless times when they scored a goal on the man advantage they continued to pound on offense for the remainder of the game. Let's see if this very thing happens tonight.

8:18- First period is over. The Stars looked very unenergized and only managed 4 shots in the period. They are only down 1, but they need to play with more passion. The crowd is more amped up then the home team.

8:41 - The first and only powerplay goal comes on a 5 on 3 by (who else?) than Brenden Morrow.

8:42 - The Stars now have a 5 on 3 less than a minute later but can't convert. I must say, the powerplay for Dallas is looking a lot more energetic.

8:47 - James Neal scores his first NHL goal to make it 2-1. High hopes for this kid, the organization loves him and he is supposed to have quite a rookie season.

8:58 - A text from my friend in the middle of the 2nd period: "What's the over/under on a fight between Steve Ott and Sean Avery just because they want to hit something?" Well said, Avery and Ott are being very aggressive.

9:06 - The defense without Zubov is not lacking, the young defensemen of Dallas continue to get back in time to get the puck away from breaking Blue Jackets.

9:10 - Daryl "Razor" Reaugh and Ralph Strangis are simply wonderful. I'm convinced that if they were not the local commentators I wouldn't enjoy the games half as much as I do. If I could have Reaugh, Strangis, and Mavs commentators Mark Followill and Bob Ortegal do play-by-play and analysis of everything that happens throughout my day, I would never be bored again.

9:16 - The entire 2nd period looked like a stars powerplay. The puck was rarely in the Stars defensive end. Turco could have gone to the concession stand and gotten some nachos. Speaking of which, I'm hungry...

9:19 - Relentless puck pursuit in period 2. Team came out a little rusty and unenergized. Second period was a completely different story as the Stars are looking strong and Columbus' confidence is gone. Stars get 15 shots on goal that period, with Columbus only getting 2.

9:48 - Two defensemen collided early in the 3rd period and created the scoring oppurtunity for Huselius for the 2nd goal. All tied up.

9:50 - Stars completely outplaying Columbus, yet the Stars are down 3 to 2. Turco gets beat and lets a rebound get loose for the 3rd goal.

9:51 - Goal 4 for Columbus Turco saw but as Daley tried to clear out of the crease it collided off his skate. Some fans in the crowd are heading to the parking lot.

9:54 - Turco is not looking like he did when we last saw him in the postseason. A split second late on shots. Even more surprising is the fact that Rick Nash, essentially their only scoring threat, is a non-factor.

10:07 - The Stars finally got a break of their own, as a "knuckle-puck" (remember that in Mighty Ducks?) ugly shot by Richards makes the game close again with just over 3 minutes to go. Comeback?

10:09 - Less than half of a minute later Stars get their mojo back and pursue on the offensive end. Trevor Daley glides one through the bodies to get it through to tie it at 4. Ralph Strangis put it best following the goal..."This is a crazy game, this hockey!"

10:17 - Another text from my friend as regulation ends: "I turned it to the baseball game for 2 minutes and it's tied! What the hell?!" We are heading to overtime!

10:23 - Turco is looking legit right now. He just stacked his pads to make the ridiculous save!

10:25 - I blame myself....I had to type the words "Rick Nash has been a non-factor". Of course Nash gets the game-winning goal in overtime with just 20 ticks left on the clock.

10:28 - Stars lose their home opener for the first time in 7 years, but at least they get a point in the standings. Tomorrow night the Stars play the Predators, it should be a good one.

10:30 - (changes channel to the Red Sox/Rays game)

That does it for the running diary. Coming early next week: We have all the postgame analysis from the Cowboys game against the Cardinals.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Scene It: Mavs Preseason Edition

This will be the first and last time you will ever read this on DallasDedicated: The Mavs have played 3 games so far and we have not seen any of them.
This is because the first 3 preseason games have not been televised. It's strange to me that I was able to watch almost every Maverick Summer League game, yet these games have all just been carried on the radio waves. We here at DallasDedicated are going to give you our thoughts on the early preseason (which were all blowout wins) as we play Scene It: Mavericks Preseason Edition...without ever actually seeing it.

~In the first 2 games against Washington and Chicago, it looked as if Antoine Wright earned the starting shooting guard spot. He was given a "tryout" by Rick Carlisle and played better than any of us ever knew he could. He not only shot at a high percentage and ran to the wings of the fast break well, but also played the better defense than anyone on the perimeter. Tonight against Milwaukee, Stackhouse was given the nod. Antoine Wright was given 0 minutes of playing time in the first half and then just 2 minutes in the 3rd. 5 more minutes of scrub time were given to Wright to close the game out with the Mavs up by a load. Does this mean that Carlisle didn't like what he saw, or was this simply just Carlisle experimenting with a different player at the 2? I'm intrigued to see how Wright is used Wednesday in Indiana.

~Speaking of Indiana, the Mavs traded Eddie Jones to the Pacers earlier today for 21 year old Shawne Williams. Williams is a 6-9 forward who averaged 7 points per game and nearly 3 rebounds. Indiana was willing to give him up because of his past character issues (a suspected murderer was pulled over in Williams' car. The car was searched and a gun and drugs were found). However, we here at DallasDedicated like this trade. Eddie Jones was going to be a bench warmer this entire season, and trading an old veteran for a young guy with potential is always a good move. One ESPN scout believes that Shawne Williams could be Mike-Miller like and score 20 points per game if he can keep his nose and distracted mind clean. Arriving into a good locker room atmosphere should help Williams.

~Jason Kidd was given the night off tonight, as JJ Barea was given the starting nod.
As Barea played a little sub-par, (only 4 assists and 3 points in 22 minutes) Keith McLeod is still on the injured list and could not play. This would have been a great chance for Rick Carlisle to see how McLeod handles the point guard role. I still have yet to understand why McLeod was given an early spot on this roster, and I wonder if I will ever be enlightened on this issue.

~Cheyne Gadson was invited to training camp, and no one really knows why. His profile is blank, and his game seems to reflect this. Can we just send him back to where he came from and put Charles Rhodes in the game?
SIDE NOTE: If someone you know has a drinking problem, tell them that you would like to play a drinking game. Everyone takes a drink each time you find information about Cheyne Gadson.

~Charles Rhodes, DallasDedicated's favorite training camp invitee, was once again not given a legitimate shot. He only played in the closing 5 minutes and was unable to even get a shot off. With the roster already at capacity, I'm afraid it may be time to let Rhodes pursue a one-year international deal.

~The best players of preseason? Besides Wright showing us his stuff, Bass has been nothing but explosive. He is everywhere on the court and is playing great post defense. He worked on an up-and-under move with his back to the basket this offseason, and he has used it to perfection thus far.

~Jason Terry has shot outstanding off the bench, something that we can all pray bleeds into the season. The Jet has gotten spotted up on the fast break for Jason Kidd and Barea, and his perimeter shooting has never been more on target. Tonight he even hit a buzzer beater from half court to end the half. As Terry celebrated with his infamous jet impression, the crowd booed out of frustration. The Jet responded by cupping his ear to the crowd, begging for more. Priceless.

~Josh Howard has not only turned his attitude around, but his step-back jumper has also left. Something that had Mavs fans cursing all post-All Star break was the ugly jumper, as we all know that Josh Howard is best when he is slashing to the basket. This preseason he has done just that, and the results have been terrific. Most importantly, Josh Howard was singing with his head down during the national anthem. 'Atta boy J-Ho!

Everything in preseason has gone relatively well thus far. All 3 games have been blowout wins, and the fastbreak has worked to perfection. Carlisle has remained seated throughout each game, letting Kidd take over the offense. Next Wednesday Dallas will travel to Indiana for Volume 4 of Mavs Preseason, and this time it will be televised. We here at DallasDedicated cannot wait for the Mark Followill/Bob Ortegal reunion tour to begin!

Coming tomorrow: I ran a running diary of the Stars home opener, which was a wild one. Analysis and the key to my diary tomorrow!


Stars' Search for the Cup

We apologize to the Dallas Stars. DallasDedicated definitely do not show them enough love. The Stars' season just happens to sit right in the midst of the second half of the Cowboys and runs right with the Mavs. While that may make them the 3rd most popular team in the DFW, hopes are highest for Texas' only hockey team. While diehards of the Cowboys are starting to see the growing problems with America's Team, the Stars have nothing but confidence. It is the 10 year anniversary of the Stars' 1998-99 Stanley Cup season. There is a feeling that hasn't been felt since that season, and every hockey enthusiast around the area is starting to feel it. Last year's Western Conference Finals appearance was no fluke, yet it was a pleasant surprise for many in the organization. This upcoming season involves a high amount of optimism, with a lineup that involves a few new faces and the attitude that this year is going to be a special one.

Last season showed the naysayers what this team is capable of. Marty Turco, who has been criticized his entire career for choking in the postseason, came up big in the first 2 rounds over and over. Turco had 62 saves in the multiple-OT thriller against San Jose, and finally ended his curse of never being able to get a win in Detroit.

While the final review of the Mavs' trade for Jason Kidd has yet to be determined, the Stars big trade during the deadline last season for Brad Richards has provided nothing but positives. The former Conn Smythe Trophy winner became an instant locker room and fan favorite, and Richards has still not fully found his groove in Dallas. Brad Richards assumed the role of secondary scorer, and this season he should find his feel more with the offense.

Brenden Morrow had a wonderful year, especially in the postseason. He displayed to the world what the Stars personnel saw in him last offseason, which is why he was promoted to captain. We here at DallasDedicated will never forget the image of Morrow's wide-eyed expression after scoring the series-clinching goal against San Jose.

Stephanie Robidas, the surprise of the season, filled the void left by the injury to Zubov. Robidas was left battered and bloody after a puck broke his nose, yet he quickly returned and provided the spark to get Dallas into the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2000. Let us also not forget about the infamous Mike Modano, who is going to stay one final year to get that second taste of the Cup.

Hagman and Miettinan were lost to free agency, and Stu Barnes finally decided to retire. However, one of the biggest offseason signings in the NHL happened right here in Dallas. Sean Avery agreed to come to the Stars and bolster the offense even more. Avery has a reputation of getting under the skin of the opposition, which helps makes this Stars team more physical, something that had been lacking since Darrien Hatcher and Joe Nieuwyndyk's departure years ago. There is also the signing of Swedish sensation Fabian Brunnstrom, who was offered deals by many NHL teams. Brunnstrom led all scorers earlier this month in the Traverse City Tournament, a tournament held for young prospects around the league.

This year, the Stars figure to improve on that disciplined puck-pressure formula that worked well for them in the playoffs. There will be the question at the blue-line with Zubov still not yet recovered from surgery, but the Stars dealt with this issue last postseason and have young players to fill the void. The young core at defense is what makes this Stars team a threat in the West for years to come. The Western Conference is ever-improving, and the Pacific division is stronger than ever, but the Stars are ready for whatever skates their way this season.

The Stars begin play tonight at 7:30 in their home opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. By the way, what the heck is a blue jacket? I've been stung by a yellow jacket but have never been lucky enough to come across a blue jacket. Is this a real bug or just a stupid made up mascot?

Coming later: The Mavs have 2 preseason wins under their belt, and a lot of things are becoming clear. More to come on that later!


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Playing Doctor with the Cowboys

Let's face it, the Dallas Cowboys are not living up to the hype. With preseason talk of being Super Bowl Champions, the 'Boys have hardly justified such talk with their play. On the heels of a squeaky 9 point victory over the winless Bengals, it's time to take a step back and analyze exactly why the play is so poor. A few common theories have arisen:

1) The team is deviating from what makes them great: big plays, the running game, etc. Playing to the other team's defense let's the opposition dictate what the Cowboy offense will do.

2) Not getting the "star" players enough touches. And I'm not talking about T.O. Marion Barber and Felix Jones didn't get enough (or any) touches in the loss to Washington, and in last week's game, the wide receivers had a combined total of three (3) receptions. Both games took away players that 1)dictate the style and pace of the game and 2) are big play threats. Seemingly, only one facet of the game is working at a time. Against Washington, the passing game was great; the running game was nonexistent. Against Cincinnati, the running game was stellar; the passing game was sub-par. Once both begin to click again, dominance will return.

3) The team's overall mentality and looseness, starting with Wade Phillips.

Let's expand on point #3, because this is most likely the deep-rooted cause of the weak performances of late.

The Cowboys have been billed as potential Super Bowl victors since last spring. However, such hype requires a lot of responsibility, which the 'Boys seemed to have taken too lightly. Wade Phillips said after the Bengals game that he was "very pleased" with the win. Really? Very pleased? Is that the attitude a coach with expectations of taking his team to the Super Bowl should have about an ugly and close encounter with a winless team?

The attitude of "win and get by" is filtering down to the players. Terrell Owens said that "it was a great team win." A team win, yes. A great win, no. A great win would have been tripling the 17 point lead after one quarter. A great win would have been playing well for 60 minutes, not 15. In fact, when it was said to Phillips that the team "stunk" for the last three quarters, he looked at the reporter and replied "I think you stink." Now, I love Wade's sense of humor and ability to keep things light, but this was not the time. It appears Phillips did not want to hear the truth: the Cowboys really did stink after the first quarter.

All the hype seems to be giving the players big heads, too. Bradie James went on record saying that "everybody expects us to be some kind of superheroes, which in essence we kind of are, but man..." Let's all hope and pray he said that in a sarcastic tone as a joke and reading such a quote does not give the proper context, because if that is the attitude of this Dallas team, kiss a playoff win goodbye. If this attitude continues, Dallas can also kiss Wade Phillips goodbye. And welcome articles of mockery and over-hyped commentary.

Coming later this week: Update on the Mavs training camp, plus a Dallas Stars preview.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Wedding Bells in Big D?

Yes, the moment you have all been dreading. Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson are reportedly close to engagement. Sources close to DallasDedicated have confirmed that Romo is ready to propose very soon...the only thing holding him back is the money for the ring (That's a joke, because he makes a lot of money, get it?). A few thoughts about the impending nuptials:

--Jessica Romo doesn't even sound good. That clearly means divorce within two years.

--Will Jessica be able to teach Tony how to hold on to the football?

--Is Tony marrying Jessica or her father? I'm confused on that part.

--The couples honeymoon...I'm going to guess Cabo, for irony's sake.

--What kind of kid does this pair make? A super athletic one who can't play in college because of his SATs.

--Will Romo be able to go home after a game and try and talk to her about it without becoming frustrated? I see it going something like this:

Tony: "I can't believe i threw that pick, I should have noticed the extra safety."
Jessica: "Extra safety? Was there a terrorist threat at the game?!"
Tony: "You're lucky you have a nice body."

Hopefully this will only improve Romo's performance. Great men always have a nice wife at home: Martin Luther and Corretta Scott King, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Brett and Deanna Favre and so on...

The biggest question, however, is what ring Romo desires the most: Wedding or Super Bowl?


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Who, What, When, Where & Why With the Mavs

Only 26 days until the Dallas Mavericks season finally gets under way. This is by far the hardest offseason to analyze. The Mavs will either be legitimate contenders or lose the streak of 50 wins they have established over the course of 8 straight seasons. Preseason begins Tuesday, and no one can for sure know how this season will shape up, but many questions are brought to mind. DallasDedicated is here to run through them all and give you our bias thought on all things Mavs-related.

Who knows if Josh Howard has finally learned his lesson?
The mystery man himself, Josh Howard, definitely had a rough offseason, and the post-All Star break portion of last season went pretty dreadful too. Just last week I wrote how Josh Howard needs to just apologize, then shut up and play basketball. At Media Day last week Josh Howard finally stepped up and apologized. He called himself "an idiot" and admitted to "not taking his job seriously." Good start Josh, DallasDedicated forgives you. Now just please stick to your word. Oh, and cool it with the step-back jumper!

What will the starting lineup look like?

We already know the starting crew will consist of Jason Kidd, Josh Howard, and the Dirkster. What is up in the air is not just who will start at the shooting guard position, but also who will win the battle for starting big man. Early results are in and Damp still has the nod from coaches but training camp has just begun. Either way, having two legitimate centers will keep the competition at an all-time high. As for the starting 2-guard spot, things are looking cloudy. Jason Terry is the ideal sixth man for this Maverick team, but it looks as if he is the best available shooting guard on the team. Should Stack get placed into the starting lineup? Team personnel admit that the best possible way to utilize Jerry Stackhouse is to not give him more than 18 minutes of burn per game. Could a starter be held to 15-18 minutes? Maybe training camp will show the coaching staff that the young Gerald Green deserves to be placed in the lineup, though that seems unlikely. Even Antoine Wright, who got little PT last season, is being given the chance to prove himself worthy of the 2 spot. Could Devean George get the starting spot too? He has proven himself worthy of guarding the likes of Kobe and TMac...

There is also the option of going big and putting Josh Howard at shooting guard and moving Dirk to the small forward spot. This would place the explosive Brandon Bass into the starting role of power forward, causing a mismatch on the offensive end. This would also cause problems for the Mavs on defense however. The NBA is slowly growing smaller and faster, and would Howard and Nowitzki be able to guard a quicker player? I'm very intrigued to see how this all shapes up.

When will we see the Jason Kidd that we traded for?
Trading for a future hall-of-fame point guard who has 100 career triple doubles seemed like just the move to get over the hump towards the goal of a first NBA championship. We still have yet to see what we traded for, as the Mavs only went 16-14 once Kidd arrived. However, the problem could have fallen on Avery Johnson, who decided to stick to the regular game plan of isolations instead of utilizing Kidd's talents. New coach Rick Carlisle is sure to give the Mavs a new spark on offense, as well as giving Kidd the freedom to get out on the fast break and find his shooters. Jason Kidd has only this year remaining on his contract, so he should be playing with extra incentive as well.

Where will the important bench scoring come from?

A team that at one time seemed like the deepest in the league couldn't seem to get enough points from the supporting bench to get the win. Dallas was 2-8 in games decided by five points or less once Kidd came aboard, and just one more basket from a player off the bench from a Kidd pass could have turned the loss into a win. Not a lot of depth was added into the offseason, and if the Mavs' best shooter (Jason Terry) is actually a starter, finding points through the bench will be hard to come by. Brandon Bass, Jerry Stackhouse, Devean George and Gerald Green will provide most, if not all, of the scoring opportunities. Training camp invitee Charles Rhodes could provide a spark, but the roster is currently full. Besides J-Ho and Kidd playing better being the key to this season, the bench is the next important item Carlisle will have to focus attention on.

Why are people so quick to write off the Mavs as playoff contenders?
There seems to be a lot of columnists and analysts that have been eating some "Hater Tots." ESPN's John Hollinger has the Mavs only winning 47 games, and he has provided Jason Kidd's downfall as the reasoning. Some columnists around the area don't even have the Mavs in the playoff race. Just 3 short years ago this team was in the NBA Finals, and just 2 years ago they won 67 games. A new coach and new personnel should refuel this team. Brandon Bass is ever-improving, Josh Howard is ready to get back to all-star status, and Jason Kidd is going to have more control with the offense than ever before. This should make for a very interesting year, so just get ready. Buckle up, there is sure to be some turbulence on the journey.

Coming next week: My co-blogger Patrick will have all the postgame analysis from the Cowboys game tomorrow against "Ocho Loco" and the Bengals. Also, the Dallas Stars begin the regular season this Friday. DallasDedicated will be here to get you geared up for what should be a great Stars season.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Belated Bitching: Cowboys Offense Edition

My fellow-blogger Patrick gave us all an interesting viewpoint on what was wrong with the Cowboys defense last week (see The Tom Brady Effect). While Roy Williams' absence could be the key to the defensive woes that occurred last week against Washington, the usually explosive offense that suddenly seemed stagnant raises many questions and concerns. We here at DallasDedicated would like to give you some reasons why the 'Boys all of a sudden seemed beatable. It's time for some belated bitching:

Marion Barber only getting 8 carries

There is absolutely no excuse for Barber only getting 8 carries. Dallas only went with the rush 10 times (2 for Owens), and even the coaching staff couldn't come up with a good reason following the game. At first, Wade Phillips blamed himself. Then the next day, Phillips tacked the decisions onto Tony Romo. Apparently there were 15 "check down" plays called for Romo, where Romo decides whether it is best to rush or pass once he sees how the defense is set up. Whatever the reason, this needs to be the last time we see Marion 'The Barbarian' get ignored so much in a game. In the Week 3 win in Green Bay, the most valuable player on the team was Barber. While he only averaged 3.3 yards per play Sunday, part of the reason Barber is so effective is how he wears down the defense throughout the game. After a few plays with not a lot of gain, Jason Garrett decided to just stick with passing. Outside of the Texas Tech playbook, ignoring the rush simply becomes ineffective.

Felix Jones...where are you?

If I didn't know better, I would have thought that Felix Jones had been injured. Felix Jones had ZERO carries! One of the most positive things of the early Cowboys' season has been Felix. Not only has he had a touchdown in the first 3 games of his professional career, they have all come on game-changing big plays. Wouldn't Felix had been a perfect option during the crucial times we needed a first down? He has been nothing short of amazing so far, and not getting even one offensive play is inexcusable. Our running game is a key to our offense moving down the field, and Dallas tried to play without both runners last week. The final score says it all.

Tony Romo actually outplayed

This rarely happens, but Tony Romo was not the best quarterback. Not only did Jason Campbell have zero turnovers (which by the way, Cowboys have yet to get an interception this season), he played with more charisma and just plain wanted the win more. Tony Romo is said to be one of the most competitive players in the entire NFL, yet we did not see a spark out of Romo until he was down 9 with just over 2 minutes to play. The one turnover every game I can live with (last 7 games that has happened), but only when it doesn't cost the team. His risk-taking finally cost us a win. I'm not going to be too hard on the guy, I love Romo more than Jessica Simpson does. Some columnists around the area aren't being so nice though. If you have ever seen Tony play golf, you know that he plays it exactly like he plays football. While every other golfer would be conservative and try to hit around the water to avoid the 2 stroke penalty, Romo will ALWAYS try to hit it over the water. That is just who he is, a risk taker. Romo is always compared to Favre, who is/was the exact same way, so the one interception a game will just have to be accepted. While Favre had an interception as well last week, he countered it with 6 touchdown passes. Tony Romo was outplayed for the first time in a long time, and I hope I don't type those words again for the rest of the year. Romo is great, but he needs to play great for the Cowboys to be Super Bowl contenders.

T.O's postgame banter
Ok, so Owens wasn't happy with the way the game turned out. Join the club! It is absolutely ridiculous for Owens to whine to the media about the offense not going through him enough when the exact opposite is true. Out of the 59 offensive plays the Cowboys had, 19 were either thrown towards Owens or handed to him. Almost one-third of the entire offense was for T.O! How could he complain about this? He had only 2 catches against Green Bay, and that was a win! I have a couple complaints myself, but these are geared towards Owens. He is by far the strongest receiver in the game, yet play after play he was punked by Shawn Springs at the line of scrimmage. Looking at the way teams have played towards Owens recently, it is becoming clear what the game plan is to stopping T.O. They are trying to be more physical, and Owens needs to push back. If the refs are going to let the corners push and poke off the line, Owens needs to push off and free himself to get open. Multiple times last week the ball was up in the air for Owens and he was simply outhustled by Springs and the safeties in pursuit. Terrell is so quick to criticize the play-calling and offense, but he needs to include himself in the blame game. I hope we don't see the old 'Unhappy' Owens start to creep back into the mix.

The Cowboys went from perfection to third in the division in just one week. However, the season is early and the team is very capable of getting it back on track. The yet to win Cincinnati Bengals come into town Sunday, and a win could put the Cowboys right back into first place. This NFC East is becoming tighter as every week passes, and Dallas can't afford to lose a second game in a row, especially against a struggling Bengals team. We will have all the postgame analysis following the game.

Coming tomorrow: It is just 26 days away until the Mavs season begins, and the preseason opener is Tuesday night. There are many questions coming into this season, and DallasDedicated is here to sort everything out.