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Cowboys doomed by mistakes

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Jimmy Johnson

Jimmy Johnson was the architect of the Dallas Cowboys' dynasty in the mid-1990s. His team celebrated two consecutive Super Bowl victories with Johnson at the helm. He joined "FOX NFL Sunday" in 2010. Follow him on Twitter.

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I know I have said this before about the Cowboys, but the turnovers and the penalties they had in their loss to the Bears are the same problems they have been having for the past three or four years.

They got away from this negative stuff some last season. Still, penalties and inopportune turnovers have killed them in the crucial games. And they are so talented against some teams, the poorer NFL teams, they can have those turnovers and penalties and still win. But they can’t do it every week. Until they cut back on these penalties and turnovers, they are going to have a problem.

To me, it is never too late to address these issues. Yes, they should have corrected this three or four years ago or last year or even in this past training camp. For example, how many times do you see them have a false start? Dallas may not be one of the leading teams in the NFL for total penalties, but I bet the Cowboys lead in false starts.

And turnover-wise, it just seems their turnovers come at the worst times in a game. Now, some may say we are overrating their talent, but I don’t think so. When you go through their depth chart, player by player, it is a talented group. But it is also an undisciplined group.

I know just from the history of the NFL that certain coaches have the ability to coach their teams to where they don’t have a lot of penalties. And other coaches can coach their teams to where they are always finishing the season with a big positive in the turnover ratio.

There are certain coaches who can coach teams into correcting mistakes. This stuff has to be corrected.

Tony Romo has been throwing a lot in these two losses, but you have to realize maybe his offense was going against some good run defenses. You would like the Cowboys to be able to run it more, but I think that answer is too simplistic. I believe the added emphasis in practice this week should be directed at correcting these penalties and turnovers.

Now, I still believe they are talented enough they still are going to win a lot of games. But if the Cowboys still have these problems, they are going to lose some of the crucial games they will need to make the playoffs.

It’s almost as if the Cowboys think they are so talented it is not a big deal, all these mistakes. They better start realizing all the teams in this league have some talent.

I don’t know how many times I have told people this: It’s not how many great plays you make in this league to be successful; it is how few bad plays you make. The successful coaches in this league are the ones whose teams make very few mistakes. But the Cowboys seem to be more focused on how many great plays they make rather than how many bad plays they make.

I mean, they definitely have to turn their attitude around.

 

Favre shows his age

 

Minnesota is still good on defense, but it lost to Miami because the offense turned it over four times. Brett Favre has taken a step back. He is not as sharp as he was last season.

One reason he looks this way is he doesn’t have Sidney Rice out there, and Percy Harvin is just now getting into a groove with him. So, the Vikings are not quite the same team on offense they were last season.

Plus, some may not like hearing this, but Brett wasn’t in training camp, so he may not be in sync with everyone yet. Plus, he’s not a young guy. I have always thought with veterans that, the older a player is, the more time he has to spend studying and preparing himself. As players get older, they need to work harder, not less.

And Brett has worked less.

I made a comment at our FOX seminar last month: I said the Vikings were setting themselves up for failure. When you make so many concessions to one player, it is hard to discipline the entire team, because you can’t have double standards.

And people immediately cornered me and said, “Now wait a minute now, you always said that you treated your players differently.” And I did treat everyone differently, but I expected every one of them to work hard. I expected everyone to be on time and to be at practice. It was just that the ones who did all those good things, I cut them some slack when they had a slip-up. But that didn’t mean I let them out of work.

The NFC North is now a real interesting division. Chicago appears to be playing the defense it used to play. And Jay Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Martz — now, I have been critical of Martz, but, hey, everybody gets better. And it looks like Martz has gotten better. He’s done an outstanding job of working with Cutler. So, the Bears have their defense back, and Cutler is playing well.

Chicago is strong, but Minnesota I believe will still be in the mix. And Green Bay? The way the Packers score points, they will be a factor all the way until the end.

I do believe the Vikings, after today’s loss, will be trying extra hard to trade for Vincent Jackson, because it is obvious that Favre needs some help.

 

A vote for Vick

 

I know we said today that Andy Reid plans to start Kevin Kolb next week, but I will continue to say I would like to see Michael Vick remain at quarterback simply because I am a fan. I love seeing all those exciting plays he makes. As a coach, I think you have to overlook some of his passing inconsistencies but look at his winning percentage. He does things that help you win games.

The other thing for the Eagles to consider is their offensive line problems. Vick helps you make some good plays out of bad plays. You are going to need some mobility back there to avoid the pass rush, and he showed that Sunday in Detroit.

He also threw the ball well. To me, he looked better today than what I remember of him when he was playing in Atlanta back in 2006. Because in Atlanta, he was extremely inconsistent throwing the football. But he’s throwing the ball pretty well. He had beautiful 53-yarder to DeSean Jackson down the middle.

I’m sure he’s going to have some days when the Eagles may say, “Gee, his passing game is terrible.” But he gives you a lot just with his running ability.

I think the decision to start Vick is a lot easier now with Donovan McNabb not in Philadelphia. It’s not like the franchise is hanging on Kevin Kolb. I also believe the Eagles are going to need Kolb at a certain point because I’m not sure Vick is going to be the guy for the rest of the year. He’s going to get banged up or something. I would stick with Vick next week against Jacksonville, but we keep hearing that Andy wants to put Kolb back in there.

But I know how these things go. If Andy does decide to put Kolb back in there, there is going to be an outcry in Philadelphia among the fans wanting Vick. I’ve been around long enough to know fans typically scream love and support for the backup quarterback. Now, those fans are really going to scream for Vick. They love a guy like him.

Tagged: Bears, Cowboys, Vikings, Eagles, Chargers, Michael Vick, Brett Favre, Jay Cutler, Kevin Kolb, DeSean Jackson

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