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22 Jan 2009

Walkthrough All-Rookie Team 2008

by Mike Tanier

At an airstrip somewhere near Dallas...

CAPT. SULLY: Good morning passengers. Welcome aboard the Spruce Caboose, the first airplane ever designed by Jerry Jones. I'm Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger, the only pilot capable of flying this unique aircraft. We're about to begin the Cowboys charter flight to the Super Bowl in Tampa -- as spectators, of course. We'll be taking off in a few seconds.

COACH WADE: Captain, we can't take off yet. Some of the guys are late.

CAPT. SULLY: Late? But they were scheduled to arrive an hour ago. I walked the length of the cabin twice to make sure everyone was settled.

COACH WADE: Sorry, captain. Some of the guys aren't good with alarm clocks. Or rules. Or staying focused. Oh wait, here they come.

T.O.: Hey coach, sorry I'm late. I was ... hell, who am I kidding? I'm not sorry I'm late.

COACH WADE: Now, Terrell, let's make sure this doesn't happen again. Otherwise, I'll have to tell you to "make sure this doesn't happen again" again.

JERRY THE BOSS: Coach, Terrell, I don't like the way you are handling this situation.

COACH JASON: (fingers crossed) Fire them fire them fire them fire them fire them...

JERRY THE BOSS: Lucky for you two that I am suddenly fiscally responsible. You guys are too expensive to get rid of.

COACH JASON: Gahhhhhh!

CAPT SULLY: OK, we are cleared for takeoff. We are now climbing to an altitude of ... wait, something's wrong. All 12 engines just cut out simultaneously. Mr. Jones, how much do you really know about aviation engineering?

JERRY THE BOSS: Just as much as I know about running a football team.

CAPT SULLY: Gotcha. Attention passengers, our engines are on fire and there are no airports within 50 miles. Luckily, someone left a Legends of Jazz commemorative postage stamp in a cornfield over there. We'll be fine. I just have to touch us down between Miles Davis' eyes.

T.O.: I can't die. I have 11 million reasons to live.

COACH WADE: I don't want to die.

COACH JASON: I'm strangely at peace.

JASON WITTEN: Guys! Guys! Tony just passed out in the bathroom from all of the stress.

T.O.: How do you know?

JASON WITTEN: Umm...

Bump.

CAPT. SULLY: Alright passengers, we have now landed safely. While I was landing, I made coffee and filed all of your tax returns. Please exit the cabin in an orderly fashion.

JERRY THE BOSS: Say, captain, have you ever considered coaching? I could create a vacancy for you really quick.

CAPT. SULLY: No thanks. In the airline business, a crash is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Cowboys crash every December.

All-Rookie Team

If this year's All-Rookie Team took the field, their strategy would be simple: Air it out.

Most All-Rookie teams are weak at quarterback. This team has two playoff-caliber passers, one in the lineup and one on the honorable mention bench. The receiving corps is solid, one of the running backs is a major asset in the passing game, and the two tackles combined for just three sacks allowed (according to some estimates) in 16 starts each. Even if this pass-happy offense stalls in the red zone, it can still count on an accurate, dependable kicker to produce points.

We'll need those points, because the All-Rookie defense is lacking. The linebackers are good enough, and there are some prospects in the secondary. But the defensive line won't provide much pressure, so opposing quarterbacks will have plenty of time to wait for rookie mistakes. This All-Rookie Team would probably struggle to reach .500 in a good division, but it would provide its share of exciting 31-28 shootouts.

The Walkthrough All-Rookie team is selected by yours truly, with input from the rest of the Football Outsiders staff. I don't look at any similar selections by other publications until I have made my choices, and then I only check for glaring omissions. If you think I missed someone, feel free to comment or send an e-mail.

Quarterback: Matt Ryan, Falcons, Offensive Rookie of the Year. In any other season, Joe Flacco (honorable mention) would be the consensus ROY. Thanks to Ryan, Flacco barely got any attention for much of the year. DVOA and our other stats say Ryan had one of the best rookie seasons ever, giving him such an edge that even Flacco's championship run can't close the gap.

Running Back: Matt Forte, Bears. As a running back, Forte endured some rough patches, including a four-game midseason stretch in which he averaged just 2.9 yards per carry and a battle with the rookie wall in December. As a receiver, he was excellent all season, finishing second in receiving DVOA while lining up all over the field. No rookie running back had greater responsibilities than Forte, who became the featured runner and one of the team's top receiving threats the moment he was drafted. Forte delivered.

Running Back: Chris Johnson, Titans. There isn't much separating Johnson from Steve Slaton (honorable mention). Their rushing stats -- conventional and DVOA/DYAR -- are nearly identical. Both were inconsistent in the passing game. Slaton spent more time as an every-down back, but Johnson was more integral to his team's offense. Take away Slaton, and the Texans could still beat you with Andre Johnson. Take away Chris Johnson, and the Titans had no way of gaining more than six yards on a play. Just ask Baltimore.

Fullback: Tie: Mike Tolbert and Jacob Hester, Chargers. Hester is the all-purpose back who can line up at tailback and provide some short-yardage pounding. Tolbert is an old-fashioned thumper who can catch the odd pass. Tolbert had this selection all but locked up before getting hurt midseason. Now, he must share with his better-known teammate.

Wide Receiver: Eddie Royal, Broncos. Royal's strong finish was impressive. He caught 33 passes in his final five games, chipping in a 71-yard run against the Bills and 11 receptions against the Chargers in must-win games. A good route runner who is creative on tunnel screens (both as receiver and blocker), Royal will play the Wes Welker role in Josh McDaniels' offense.

Wide Receiver: DeSean Jackson, Eagles. Jackson almost became a folk hero in Philly on Sunday, bobbling-but-catching a touchdown that gave the Eagles a brief late-game lead against the Cardinals. Jackson's touchdown wasn't enough to carry the Eagles to the Super Bowl, and some of his season lowlights (the drops against the Redskins, the premature spike) made him the player who most frayed the nerves of Eagles fans. But Jackson gave the Eagles the big-time slot receiver and return man they needed.

Tight End: John Carlson, Seahawks. Carlson led the Seahawks in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. Good for Carlson. Bad for the Seahawks. Dustin Keller gets honorable mention.

Tackle: Ryan Clady, Broncos. Clady was named a second-team All-Pro, but he was snubbed in favor of Jake Long as the Pro Bowl replacement for Jason Peters. We can argue Clady vs. Long all day, but one thing is clear: Both of them were a lot better than Peters this season.

Tackle: Jake Long, Dolphins. Long was a full-year starter for the Dolphins, playing left tackle but sometimes moving to the right side in Wildcat formations. He played through a sprained ankle at the end of the season and didn't commit a penalty until December. He was the cornerstone player the Dolphins hoped for when they made him the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL. The only downside: As good as Long was, Clady may have been just a bit better. Brandon Albert and Jeff Otah get honorable mention.

Guard: Jeremy Zuttah, Buccaneers. The opening-day starter for the Bucs at right guard, Zuttah started a total of five games and played parts of seven others.

Guard: Mike Pollak, Colts. Pollack took over at right guard in Week 5 and ended up starting 13 games. Pollack could stay at guard or challenge Jamey Richard at center if Saturday leaves.

Center: Jamey Richard, Colts. Richard filled in for Jeff Saturday twice during the regular season, starting a total of seven games. He played so well that the Colts may let Saturday leave via free agency. Richard's season highlight was his fumble-recovery touchdown in Week 17, a play that recalled Saturday's playoff touchdown three years ago. "I give him a C-plus, B-minus for the spike," Saturday said of his protégé's first-ever score. "Didn't have enough 'Wham!'"

Defensive End: Chris Long, Rams. Nothing went right for the Rams defense this year, and Long didn't make the immediate impact the team was hoping for. Still, he was active, made some plays against the run, and showed flashes (like in his two-sack effort against the Patriots) of the player he could soon become.

Defensive Tackle: Glenn Dorsey, Chiefs. The Chiefs expected more than one sack from Dorsey, but he did the job in the running game, leading all rookie linemen with 46 total tackles.

Defensive Tackle: Eric Foster, Colts. Only the Colts can grab a 265-pound undrafted rookie, stick him at defensive tackle, and still field a credible defense. Foster was rock-solid in 11 starts before getting hurt, and his goal-line stop against the Steelers was one of the Colts' defensive highlights this year.

Defensive End: Clifford Avril, Lions. Avril started the season slowly but finished with five sacks and four forced fumbles after Week 8. He started to make more of an impact as a run defender late in the season. Avril is one of Jim Schwartz's few defensive building blocks and may even head up next year's PFP "Top Prospects List."

Linebacker: Curtis Lofton, Falcons. Matt Ryan got most of the attention, but the Falcons rookie class was sensational, with Lofton starting all 16 games and Sam Baker emerging as a starter at left tackle. Lofton, who had 94 tackles, had the benefit of learning from veteran defenders like linebackers Keith Brooking and Michael Boley, as well as safety Lawyer Milloy. Milloy called the rookie class "a group of guys that I think is going to be around for a long time because they just get it. You never know what you're going to get, as far as character issues. We're just fortunate that we got it right."

Linebacker: Jared Mayo, Patriots. The Defensive Rookie of the Year, by a landslide. Mayo registered 139 tackles, set a team record with 23 tackles in one game against the Jets, and started 16 games in one of the NFL's most complex defenses. "We've asked a lot of him, and from Day One he's really been a well-prepared, very mature player who can do a lot of things: play the running game, play in the passing game, blitz, helps us in the kicking game," said Bill Belichick of his top draft choice.

Linebacker: Keith Rivers, Bengals. Rivers was off to a great start before getting hurt in Week 6. His efforts –- 37 tackles, an interception against the Cowboys -- were enough to make him the runner-up in the league's Defensive Rookie of the Year balloting. OK, so it was only with one vote...

Cornerback: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cardinals. DRC ran away from the competition in the playoffs with an interception against the Falcons, a shut-down effort against Steve Smith, and a solid effort (despite one burning by DeSean Jackson) against the Eagles. In the future, every All-Rookie Team will include at least one token Rodgers-Cromartie.

Cornerback: Brandon Flowers, Chiefs. Scott Pioli is no fool. The Chiefs had a tremendous draft in 2008: Flowers, Dorsey, Brandon Albert, Jamaal Charles, and Brandon Carr. That's two cornerbacks, a defensive tackle, an offensive tackle and a running back, all of whom have the potential to be high-level starters. The turnaround in Kansas City could be very quick. Carr and Dwight Lowery of the Jets earn honorable mention.

Safety: Kenny Phillips, Giants. Phillips couldn't beat James Butler for a starting job, but he saw a lot of action as a nickel safety, finishing the year with 67 total tackles. Butler will probably leave this year; Phillips should be ready to make the leap from center fielder to impact player.

Safety: Chris Horton, Redskins. Horton said he broke out in a sweat when he learned he would be starting against the Saints in Week 2. The perspiration must have led to inspiration, as Horton finished the game with two tip-drill interceptions and a fumble recovery. Horton had other big games last season, including an interception against the Cowboys and double-digit tackle games against the Rams and Giants.

Kicker: Dan Carpenter, Dolphins. An 84 percent success rate on field goals, no short misses, a perfect extra point record, and respectable kickoff stats (including seven touchbacks). What more do you want from a rookie kicker?

Punter: Brett Kern, Broncos. There wasn't much competition here, but Kern was solid, with a gross average of 46.7 that was only helped a little by the altitude. His road gross was a respectable 43.8.

Kick Returns: Leodis McKelvin, Bills. The Bills special teams can make an ordinary return man look great, but McKelvin's pure speed makes him a major threat in the kicking game. He scored one touchdown and had seven returns of 40 or more yards.

Gunner: Spencer Larsen, Broncos. Larsen played on both the coverage and return units. He also started at linebacker and fullback; he even started at both positions in the same game. That makes him our All-Rookie Super Sub.

Upcoming Events

Next week's Walkthrough is the last of the regular season. It will feature the obligatory Super Bowl preview, a brief look back at 2008, and lots of Bruce Springsteen references. There will also be a special guest: Tom Moon, author of 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die, will provide a list of the best music to get you psyched for the Super Bowl.

Be sure to stop back during the Pro Bowl for my live blog. Just because I lost a bet with Bill Barnwell doesn't mean we can't have fun. We'll talk draft, coaching changes, free agency, and mixed drinks. We may even mention the game once or twice.

Walkthrough goes bi-weekly after that, and I am starting to line up stories and guests for the offseason. For additional updates and interaction, you can join the Facebook group Walkthrough Readers. I haven't done much with the group yet, but it's free, and worth every damn penny.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 22 Jan 2009

65 comments, Last at 27 Jan 2009, 12:10pm by bravehoptoad

Comments

1
by Ryan D (not verified) :: Thu, 01/22/2009 - 10:14pm

I know that Jonathan Stewart (836 yards, 10 TDs) got buried by a talented group of rookie running backs, but what about Charles Godfrey (61 tkls, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 INT) starting every game at safety for the Panthers from day 1?

2
by Eddo :: Thu, 01/22/2009 - 11:57pm

For what it's worth, Forte was also very impressive in blitz pickup. He is truly a complete back.

Also, I don't know if I'd call DeSean Jackson's TD in the NFC Championship as a "burning" of Rodgers-Cromartie. Sure, DRC was beat by the double-move, but he recovered and closed the gap so much that only a perfect throw by McNabb had a chance to get caught, and Rodgers-Cromartie nearly tipped that away, anyways.

36
by tuluse :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 6:46pm

+1 to Forte's blocking. I thought Thomas Jones was good at blitz pickup, but Forte puts him to shame, as a rookie, and while being targeting 70+ times.

53
by Eddo :: Sun, 01/25/2009 - 7:53pm

Yeah, it sure is nice to have a young, franchise RB who doesn't have to leave the field on third downs, isn't it?

3
by Bobman :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 12:11am

Colts had 3 OLs and 2 DLs make this team in the past two years--typical finesse team.

Though, not quite sure what on earth this means: "Only the Colts can grab a 265-pound undrafted rookie, stick him at defensive tackle, and still field a credible defense."

Mr Tanier, does it mean that their D is so superb that anybody can be plugged in? Or they have some sort of magic/luck with rookies, especially undrafted guys? The latter seems more likely, but really I am not sure what you are getting at. Maybe the weight thing was part of it--not many teams have DTs that small.... just curious, really.

Intriguingly, many Colt fans are calling for a big DT in the draft as well as calling for a big OT--I guess we're happy with our skill guys and want to make sure the lines are more stout. Our rookies got a ton of on the job training this year and should improve before next season... that is, if they don't decide to retire like 2nd year man Quinn Pitcock or devote their life to weed like 2nd year man Ed Johnson.

Sometimes, last year's rookies are just days away from being washed-up vets.

12
by Justin (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 10:22am

You say 'Our skill guys' and 'Our rookies', but no Colts fan would ever call his team a 'finesse' team, or say that finding quality rookies has more to do with luck than with great scouts and the keen judgment of 'our' GM. Bad job for this poseur, congrats to the Colts rookies thrown into the fire and playing well (and yes, Foster's goal-line stick against the Steelers was my defensive play of the season too).

21
by NoraDaddy :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 1:12pm

Check your sarcasm meter for the "finesse team" comment.

55
by Bobman :: Mon, 01/26/2009 - 2:38am

Justin, I'll ignore your poseur crack and chalk it up to your callow youth and the fact that 5 years ago, you were not the "other" Colt fan regularly posting. (aside from me.)

And I did not say nor imply finesse--I said most calls I have seen/heard were not for traditional skill positions. There is some WR rumbling, but it's hard to take seriously in light of "our" DT needs. Furthermore, one could argue that only a fan of a raw meat-eating team like the Steelers/Ravens would infer "finesse" from those comments. Poseur, indeed, but who? Perhaps you are too sensitive; one would think that 2006 would have washed the finesse stuff out of everybody's bag of adjectives, both friends and foes.

The Polians are gods IMO--I was literally asking Tanier about why he wrote what he did--was he implying that any rookie "we" put out there will succeed on D? Maybe he was implying--which I did not infer--that the GM/scouts are so superb that anybody they sign will be a home run. I did not get that vibe, but maybe. To me, his comment really was a stumper--might have been a joke that fell flat, if there was no subtext. He's an awesomely funny writer, but with him there is usually subtext.

42
by Jon :: Sat, 01/24/2009 - 1:43am

The upside of the Tampa-2 is that you can take a tweener like Foster, who's too small for DT and too slow for DE, but still a heck of a player, and pick him up at a steep discount.

As the resident RU nut, I can attest to that Foster was excellent in college. Yet, he didn't have a position in the NFL. The Colts can sign him as a UDFA, and he plays for them like a high draft pick. E probably couldn't make 90% of the rosters in the league.

If the Colts stick with the Tampa-2, and I hope they do, Mitch King could be a similar steal for them this year. I just wonder why Dan Klecko was never able to be that kind of player for them, he seemed to have the same skillset.

4
by 3.14159265 (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 12:20am

Mayo registered 139 tackles, set a team record with 23 tackles in one game against the Jets, and started 16 games in one of the NFL's most complex defenses.

Wow, that is a hell of a lot of tackles in one game. Was this game in Foxborough, or at the Meadowlands? I don't think even Ray Lewis has been credited with that many tackles at M&T Bank Stadium.

8
by steelberger (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 8:26am

Pi,

It was in New England...though NFL.com has him with 20 total tackles (16-4), not 23.

http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/boxscore?game_id=29672&displayPage=tab_box...

16 solo tackles though, impressive either way.

5
by Tom Gower :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 1:14am

As a Titans homer, I feel compelled to mention Jason Jones at DT. Only 3 starts in the 13 games he was healthy, but Brown and Haynesworth were going to get those no matter what, and Jones never looked like a complete liability the way, say, Randy Starks did in his 4th year in the league.

6
by Kenneth (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 3:41am

Royal's strong finish was impressive. He caught 33 passes in his final five games, chipping in a 71-yard run against the Bills and 11 receptions against the Chargers in must-win games.

I suppose those were must-win games, but don't you usually use that phrasing when the team actually wins the games?

7
by Mr Shush :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 5:21am

Slaton versus Johnson is an interesting case to consider in terms of the effect of team mates on running back performance. Nearly identical rushing performance, by DVOA, DYAR and plain old total yards. Clearly superior receiving performance from Slaton. Johnson ran behind a clearly far superior line (though Slaton does get to follow an outstanding full-back). Tanier picks Johnson. I'm a Texans fan, and much as I love Slaton, I would pick Johnson too. So, if our eyes tell us Johnson is better, and the numbers are the same, and Johnson had the better O-line, the difference must be in their other offensive team mates. In other words, the difference in effect on the running game of Schaub-Johnson-Walter-Daniels over Collins-Gage-McCareins-Crumpler-Scaife is greater than that of Roos-Amano-Mawae-Scott-Stewart-Hall over Brown-Pitts-Myers-Brisiel-Winston-Leach.

Next question: is this a case of the quality of the passing game as a whole having a major effect on the running game, or is a binary variable: elite receiver present - yes or no? Is it Schaub-Johnson-Walter-Daniels, or is it pretty much just Johnson?

9
by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 9:21am

Since Raider Joe isn't up yet, I'll add Trevor Scott to the mix. I think he was probably better than Chris Long this year.

10
by Kevin from Philly :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 9:49am

Quinten Demps is a glaring ommision at Safety. No offense to the other two, but Demps has had a big impact already and will out perform the two guys you have listed for years to come.

18
by Jay Gloab :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 12:29pm

Demps played mostly special teams, though. His impact as a Safety was negligible.

11
by Felton (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 9:51am

Mike: Watch Carl Nicks play guard for the Saints. He is better than both your all-rookie team guards. I'd also have to say that Sedrick Ellis was better than Glenn Dorsey this year.

13
by Zergling (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 10:29am

No love for Vernon Gholston as the bench specialist? Those seats don't keep themselves warm.

15
by Unverified Telamon (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 11:00am

You need a kid with a real motor to generate that kind of ass-heat. I just home the Jets' new stadium doesn't have some kind of fancy seat-warming system that would render him obsolete.

14
by Lance :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 11:00am

Good. FO was disappointing me with a lack of Cowboys hate/mockery here. FO, of course, is above that sort of thing except when Dallas is involved, and I was worried that they suddenly became principled. At least it tried to be funny. If only they'd thought of this on Mike & Mike earlier this week. Oh, wait...

29
by Temo :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 2:27pm

Since when has FO ever been above that when it comes to any team? I've seen them mock many teams, though obviously Tanier will stand out when he mocks the Cowboys because we all know he's an Eagles fan.

Although, I agree the "December Collapse" jokes about Dallas are bit unoriginal for Tanier. Maybe he's still reeling from realizing the Eagles are not winning the Super Bowl anytime soon.

34
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 4:27pm

"Although, I agree the "December Collapse" jokes about Dallas are bit unoriginal for Tanier."

Well, December collapses are a bit unoriginal for the Cowboys, too, but that doesn't seem to stop them from reprising it every year. :)

38
by Dales :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 9:53pm

Oh, snap!

40
by Lance :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 11:11pm

Temo, come on. FO loves to talk about how it and its regular readers aren't like the trash at ESPN, etc. but then they nevertheless love to dish the ESPN-like trash when it comes to certain teams. You of all people should know this. And it's cool if whatever jackfuck wants to rate my comments as "0"-- I'll shed tears later. I just love it when FO writers take easy potshots at Dallas (because ESPN does it too!) but still claims the high road. Just remember, discussing any anti-Patriots topic is "irrational" and when other teams don't perform well, well, it's just the way it is.

BTW, they happily linked to the past "all rookie" team articles. Guess how many began with hilarious mockeries of teams/players/coaches? Oh, well, none. OK, but I bet Tanier wanted to, but was too busy.

Whatever. I'm a Dallas fan, and we had the most frustrating season that I've ever experienced. I am so mad at how Jones is managing this club, and so mad that the right players aren't doing the right things. But Dallas is the biggest club in football, and so epic failure leads to epic mockery. I'm still not sure if the baseball equivalent to FO mocks the Yankees when they don't make the play-offs despite expectations, but perhaps so.

44
by Dr. Jack F. Uck (not verified) :: Sat, 01/24/2009 - 1:50am

0

46
by Dales :: Sat, 01/24/2009 - 11:07am

"But Dallas is the biggest club in football"

Well, they certainly have fans that have the biggest belief in these things.

Some might even call them the biggest delusions.

Dallas is just another football team.

50
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Sat, 01/24/2009 - 7:20pm

The Cowboys are not football's Yankees.

The Redskins are football's Yankees. The Cowboys only this year jumped above the Redskins in terms of total franchise value, but that's because of the new stadium. The Redskins have by far the largest revenue of any football team in the NFL, and will in a few years pass the Cowboys again.

The reason the Cowboys are subjected to "epic mockery" is because of the arrogance of the team and the fans.

52
by Temo :: Sun, 01/25/2009 - 3:39pm

I didn't mean to say that they haven't made fun of the Cowboys in the past, I was merely questioning the assertion that they were ever above that. And that they haven't made fun of other teams as well.

The Cowboys are a hated team. Tanier has written as much; no other team experiences as much irrational (and some rational) hatred in the league. This much is indisputable (of course, I fully expect to see "see, this is the arrogance of the Cowboys fan, they think everything is about them). Well, it's the truth. Every Cowboy fan should know this is just a fact that we'll always deal with.

I've long since given up caring about it, really.

60
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 01/26/2009 - 8:24pm

no other team experiences as much irrational

That, I'd dispute. The reason you see so much hatred of the Cowboys is because you see so much of the Cowboys. Jerry Jones goes out of his way to push the Cowboys, whether it's via Hard Knocks, the "Who Wants To Be A Tackling Dummy" reality show of Michael Irvin's, or the various random media controversies.

Whenever TO's on TV crying about Tony Romo, someone who dislikes the Cowboys is going to make fun of them. It's just natural - people do the same thing with every other team.

To be honest, the idea that the Cowboys are the most hated team in America is very recent. Few people outside the NFC East hated the Cowboys in 2004. They hated the Patriots. Oh, God, did people hate the Patriots.

Every Cowboy fan should know this is just a fact that we'll always deal with.

There's the standard Cowboys fan arrogance. It has nothing to do with some intrinsic thing about Dallas or the Cowboys that there's so much dislike. It's just a natural response to the fact that the Cowboys are currently in the media so much and getting so much attention that people don't think they deserve.

When Jerry Jones is no longer the owner (or changes his business model), a new owner could easily come in and have the Cowboys have a much quieter role.

62
by Temo :: Tue, 01/27/2009 - 11:40am

You'll notice that I never once excused the acts of Jerry Jones in perpetuating the general feeling towards the Cowboys. He's the center of the storm, always-- it's where he likes to be. That does not mean the hatred is not irrational however, considering that the Media is also complicit in the over-hyping of the team.

There's the standard Cowboys fan arrogance. It has nothing to do with some intrinsic thing about Dallas or the Cowboys that there's so much dislike.

It's not arrogance to suggest the obvious. As long as Jones is the owner, the Cowboys will be hated. He will not change, the popular perception of the Cowboys will not change. I wish it were different, and there's no arrogance to that.

16
by Luz (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 12:03pm

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

I can't believe you didn't pick any of the outstanding rookies the Steelers got!

Like Limas Swee... wait, that's not right. Um, Rashard Mend.. no, that's not it either...

Just give me a second I'll find someone. (Starts looking at Steelers roster)

Aw, sheeeeeit.

22
by steelberger (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 1:33pm

Hey now Luz...Sweed can drop one hell of a ball!!

17
by SBL (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 12:23pm

Why can't your all rookie team run a 3-4?

19
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 12:31pm

"Still, he was active, made some plays against the run, and showed flashes (like in his two-sack effort against the Patriots) of the player he could soon become."

I wouldn't take much from that game. That was during the point when Cassel was making a point of getting sacked 7 times a game.

20
by Temo :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 1:06pm

I understand it's a joke and all, but to just play out this argument that the Cowboys "collapsed"... they played the Steelers, Ravens, Giants, and Eagles back-to-back-to-back-to-back to end the season. They lost a game they should have won against the Steelers, won convincingly against the Giants, lost fair and square to the Ravens, and finally collapsed to the Eagles. These were 4 of the top 5 teams in the league by DVOA.

I don't know that any of that says "December Collapse" to me. I think they lost too many winnable games early, got ruined by injuries throughout the season, and in the end just didn't have the personnel and depth necessary to beat teams that were probably just better than the Cowboys.

24
by steelberger (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 1:37pm

"...lost a game they should have won against the Steelers"

You lost me there. Anytime your QB throw 3 picks and loses a fumble, you are lucky to even be in a game.

27
by Temo :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 2:22pm

People need to stop taking these kinds of statements as an insult or somehow demeaning their team.

I didn't mean that they were better than the Steelers, or even outplayed the Steelers that day. But in principal, giving up a 2 score lead halfway through the 4th quarter is something that does not ordinarily happen and should be a secure win. Therefore, they should have won-- though they didn't and all credit should go to the Steelers, who did what they needed to do to win.

And your use of an individual player's performance to say that a team didn't deserve to win is silly. It's a team game. It took a special teams failure, defensive penalties, and a blown coverage to blow that game too.

30
by jimbohead :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 3:52pm

I think the key there was "finally collapsed [against] the Eagles." That game alone should merit the Cowboys' "December collapse," both semantically and colloquially.

31
by rk (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 4:02pm

I would classify the loss to the Steelers as a collapse, as you say they blew a 2 score lead. Their defense collapsed late in the loss to the Ravens as they went tackling-optional while the offense was clawing its way back into the game. And the loss to the Eagles was embarrassing and certainly looked like a a collapse of epic proportions.

37
by David C (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 9:46pm

I get what you're saying rk. I really hate those teams that always seem to collapse in the second half of the fourth quarter every now and again during the month of December. It drives me bonkers.

23
by An0nym0us (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 1:34pm

You realize his name is "Jerod" Mayo right? Not Jared.

25
by Sergio :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 1:40pm

Jake Long, Dolphins. Long [...] didn't commit a penalty until December

Actually, Long was liable for tripping in week 1 against the Jets.

-- Go Phins!

26
by AndyB (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 2:20pm

"We can argue Clady vs. Long all day..."

I'd actually like to hear that argument. Also, if Clady was second team All-Pro, does that mean Jake Long and Clady had a better year than Joe Thomas?

28
by Temo :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 2:24pm

I didn't get to see Clady much, but Joe Thomas was clearly "just good" in his second year, and did not match his rookie performance. I wouldn't say that Long was better than Thomas overall, but just saying we're not measuring these guys against 2007 Thomas, but rather 2008.

32
by rk (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 4:05pm

Joe Thomas was also on the second team All-Pro along with David Stewart, Walter Jones, David Diehl, and Jason Peters (there was a big tie). First team was Michael Roos and Jordan Gross.

54
by An Ominous (not verified) :: Mon, 01/26/2009 - 1:37am

Farrar wrote a Cover-3 article earlier this season where he said that not only was Rookie Clady better than Sophomore Thomas, Rookie Clady was arguably better than Rookie Thomas.

http://www.footballoutsiders.com/cover-3/2008/cover-3-climbing-rookie-wa...

To quote: "When I wrote about Cleveland left tackle Joe Thomas last year, that was as blown away with a rookie lineman as I have ever been. Truth be told, I like Clady even more. He doesn't have Thomas' smooth, refined pass-blocking technique, but he's much more physical in run-blocking situations. You'll see ends blowing Thomas back from time to time, but that's not going to happen with Clady."

Back to the article... no Peyton Hillis at the FB position? Clearly the Denver Broncos are rated too low by Tanier, who only listed 4 Denver rookies on the squad. My sister's toy poodle could rate rookies better than this, and my sister doesn't even HAVE a toy poodle. Plus, Eddie Royal doesn't throw the ball away until after he's crossed the goal line.

33
by Theo :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 4:13pm

Who's Jared Mayo? Brother of...?

35
by nbcrippler (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 5:32pm

Wow, 2 Rutgers players on the all-rookie team (Foster,Zuttah).

63
by Temo :: Tue, 01/27/2009 - 12:06pm

Go Knights!

I really thought Foster would be a good role player in the NFL, he was my favorite player at Rutgers. I was completely unsurprised when the Colts of all teams picked him up. He's the proto-typcial Colts defensive player: a late round, intelligent guy who a lot of people skipped because he's undersized for his position, but without taking into account how he played on the field and the potential impact he could have as a role player in the NFL.

64
by Temo :: Tue, 01/27/2009 - 12:06pm

Go Knights!

I really thought Foster would be a good role player in the NFL, he was my favorite player at Rutgers. I was completely unsurprised when the Colts of all teams picked him up. He's the proto-typcial Colts defensive player: a late round, intelligent guy who a lot of people skipped because he's undersized for his position, but without taking into account how he played on the field and the potential impact he could have as a role player in the NFL.

39
by c_f (not verified) :: Fri, 01/23/2009 - 10:38pm

It seems there's been a recent run of OT rookies who play lights out in their rookie year but follow it up with a year or two or three of disappointing performances, though perhaps that's just because of inflated expectations:

Jamaal Brown, then Marcus McNeill, then Joe Thomas... will Ryan Clady succumb as well?

In any case, is this merely an example of regression to the mean, that their rookie seasons were just lucky years?

Or is there something to people having more film to break down or some other explanation?

47
by shake n bake :: Sat, 01/24/2009 - 11:22am

Add Tony Ugoh, he was very good as a rookie. This year he was wildly inconsistent. Dominant some plays, others you can't even tell what he was trying to do (and whatever it was failed miserably).

56
by Bobman :: Mon, 01/26/2009 - 2:49am

Shake,
Ugoh was my first thought as well, which is of course fueling some fans' desire for an OT in the draft. Though I attribute his soph stumble to whatever caused him to fade mid-season--he seemed to start and end the season okay, IMO. They pulled him for some reason... Injury? You're aware of the waning desire/focus rumors I do not want to spread here. May well have been having personal problems that he had to fight through. Plus all the injuries elsewhere on the OL affected his performance.

It does not diminish the soph slump itself, but might indicate that it was not indicative of future performance, as they like to say on Wall Street. I'll trust in Howard Mudd's track record.

41
by Key19 :: Sat, 01/24/2009 - 1:21am

Issues with the opening sentiments:

If Bob Kraft went through a 10+ year drought of a playoff win after all of those Super Bowls, would he not know anything about running a football team either? I understand that Jerry is a GM as well as an owner, but come on. It's one thing to live in the past, but it's another to completely pretend like it never happened. Jerry on the whole is still one of the most successful owners and GMs (if not the most successful) in the league since he took over the Cowboys. Yes, the Cowboys have been down for a while. But aside from the Campo years, they haven't really been consistently BAD since Jerry took over.

Was the little skit thing even necessary? According to people who were actually ON the team flights this year (unlike the retard reporter for the DMN), they never left late due to players being tardy. In fact, they were notified an hour before the plane was leaving for the Philly game that the weather was too bad in both D-FW and Philly for them to leave, and that they would be at least and hour and a half behind schedule. So the players being late caused inclement weather? Give me a break. Yes, the players do walk all over Wade on some things. But they weren't late for the flights. In fact, according to people who were actually ON the flights, Jerry was always the last person to board the plane. If they were waiting on anyone, it was him. I know that lateness is a sign of a lack of discipline, but really, did it really matter if the players were a few minutes late to a flight (even though they never were)? They leave on Saturday! What are they going to be late for?

FO writers of all people should understand that this year's collapse was mainly a result of playing better teams than the Cowboys were themselves. But it's no fun to not pick on them regardless of strength of schedule. Just like how if they go 4-0 against non-playoff teams next year, people will still say "oh well they didn't beat anyone good in December." It's just stupid.

It's a sad world we live in when a 9-7 team gets thrown under the bus more often than an 0-16 team. If you want to act like you're holier than ESPN here, actually back it up. Besides, only real underachievers only win a Championship Game once in 5 tries (and then lose in the Super Bowl the one time they actually get past the Championship Game). McNabb clearly can't win the biggest of games. See how ridiculous me saying that sounded? If I were talking about the Cowboys though, and not the Eagles, it would've been fair criticism.

That said, even though my team hasn't won anything of significance lately, I'd still rather have 5 rings than 0 rings. Living in the past is better than having never lived at all.

As for the column, I thought the picks were very good. Some of them were shoo-ins really, but oh well. Once again though, does literally any player that makes an interception against the Cowboys really need to be praised specifically for doing so? Especially Chris Horton, who, if I remember correctly (which I do), got beat by Martellus Bennett for the game-winning score in the second Skins/Boys game. Also, if I remember correctly (this one I'm not entirely sure about), his praised interception was nothing more than a pop-up drop by T.O. on a slant route. The only person who couldn't have caught that was, well, T.O.!

Drop the ESPN-esque commentary, and you'll have an incredible site here. Right now it just seems like you're pining more for attention and growth than respectability and growth.

45
by Yaguar :: Sat, 01/24/2009 - 8:27am

Wow, massive persecution complex.

57
by Temo :: Mon, 01/26/2009 - 12:07pm

Welcome to the world of Cowboys fans.

The only exception I take to his rant is that Jerry Jones is not responsible for any of this. He invites so much destructive attention and hatred upon this team, it's really getting in the way of having an enjoyable team to watch.

51
by Anonymous, please? (not verified) :: Sun, 01/25/2009 - 2:28am

You do not own any rings.

43
by Jon :: Sat, 01/24/2009 - 1:45am

Far be it from me ever wishing anything nice towards the Cowboys. However, listen to this one piece of advice: just don't read the press from now until the draft. It doesn't matter. All of those declarations after the 2006 about how the Giants had a "poisoned" locker room and bad chemistry? All complete nonsense, and lazy journalism to boot.

That being said, please feel free to lobby for Terrell Owens being released. I also vote for the Eagles cutting McNabb. He's never won a thing, you can't draft a Kevin Kolb and just sit him on the bench.

48
by nbcrippler (not verified) :: Sat, 01/24/2009 - 1:05pm

Persecution complex indeed (amongst many others).

Of course you can draft Kolb to sit on the bench if he is not going to win as many games as your current starter. Your falling into a sunk cost trap.

49
by AlanSP (not verified) :: Sat, 01/24/2009 - 5:35pm

I assume the McNabb/Kolb comment was sarcastic.

58
by Temo :: Mon, 01/26/2009 - 12:13pm

To be fair, the Giants may have remedied a locker room that was "poisoned" with the retirement of Tiki Barber.

59
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 01/26/2009 - 4:38pm

For me, the Cowboys become hateable because of that whole "America's Team" thing. If some team from east-central Texas wants to call itself "America's Team" then what's that make the rest of us? Is Dallas more of an "American" city than New York or Chicago? Is Texas more of an "American" state than North Dakota or Kentucky?

Who wouldn't want to hate a team that thinks so?

61
by Temo :: Tue, 01/27/2009 - 11:34am

Landry famously rejected the whole America's Team thing, and to me Landry represents the Dallas Cowboys, not Jerry Jones and his merry band of retards. Long ago, the Cowboys were hated because they won; which of course made them no different than any successful franchise. Now they're mostly hated because of their arrogance and the actions of the Jerry Jones Marketing System.

Yes, Jerry Jones is great at making money. But I can't help but feel that he has also helped destroy the soul of this team.

Long story short, I want Landry back :(

65
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 01/27/2009 - 12:10pm

True -- I can remember when I was a boy hating the Cowboys no more than the Dolphins or the Steelers, and you're right: all because they were winners. Somehow those other hatreds faded, but my feelings for the Cowboys have just deepened. Somehow they've come to represent American jingoism at its worst.

Aren't sports weird? They're grown men who play a game for a living, and somehow inspire so much misguided passion.