Morning, all. I've got a whole new jacket/tie combo for you to critique this morning after I rock it once again on your TV screens. First Take, 10 am to noon ET. Me and Skip, for all the marbles. Meantime, I have some goodies lined up to keep you busy during commercial breaks. And I'm still planning on doing the weekly chat, even if it might not start right exactly at noon this week. And of course, you know you can count on the links.
Bucky Brooks thinks the Cowboys' biggest problem is a lack of leadership on the roster. I think that's not entirely fair to Tony Romo, who grew a lot in that role in late 2009 and looked to be doing fine with it before his mid-2010 injury, but I think there's a worthwhile point to be made about (Brooks' words here) "the lack of commitment, accountability and trust" on the defensive side of the ball. The Cowboys' defense collapsed entirely in 2010, to an extent far worse than the quality of its personnel should have allowed. And there really wasn't anybody standing up and owning it. It all fell on Wade Phillips, who's gone as a result. And much of the pressure to fix it will justifiably fall on new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. But it'd be nice if you could figure out who the leader of the Dallas defense was. It'd be nice if someone would serve as its strong voice.
And this is the first entry in ESPNDallas.com's "Old School" series, in which they talk to old Cowboys about issues pertaining to the current Cowboys. This one is Calvin Watkins interviewing Everson Walls about the current secondary. It's cool and interesting in its own right, but I link to it because I want to know how I get one of those shirts like Calvin has for my video mailbags. Can someone get on this, please?
New York Giants
John Clayton's latest mailbag includes a question on Osi Umenyiora's unhappiness with his contract situation. "If he's not satisfied, maybe there will be a trade," John writes. "Don't be surprised if Seattle gets involved. It's also not out of the question for him to get a contract extension. This could be one of the most interesting stories at the start of free agency." I agree that it'll be an interesting story for as long as Osi chooses to make it one, but I think the most likely outcome is that the Giants call his bluff and he reports to camp and plays for them.
After Ahmad Bradshaw's agent went on the radio Tuesday and said he'd be interested in the Dolphins if the Dolphins were interested in him, Bradshaw went on the radio Tuesday night and said he hoped to be a Giant next year. If teams do in fact get three days before the market opens to sign their own free agents, I believe the Giants will spend a large chunk of that three-day period working on locking up Bradshaw.
We're going to do the Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie/Kevin Kolb thing in a separate post, probably about an hour from now, but don't worry. I didn't miss it. Meantime, Jeff McLane thinks the Eagles shouldn't trade Kolb at all. You guys know where I am on this. Jeff's right, in the abstract, that Kolb is important to the Eagles as Michael Vick's backup because Vick gets hurt. But Kolb is only important because he's a guy they know they can stick in there and know they'll have a chance to win the game if/when Vick does get hurt. If you can get great value for him (i.e., some other team compensates you for a starting quarterback), and then go sign another veteran you can stick in there and know that guy can win a game for you, then what have you really lost?
I found the part of item No. 2 of this Geoff Mosher notebook particularly interesting -- the part about Eagles offensive linemen losing weight because new line coach Howard Mudd likes slimmer linemen. Lots of interesting stuff in that notebook, actually. But for some reason the skinny-linemen thing struck me as kind of funny.
John Beck is fired up for the end of the lockout, as he should be. Talk about a guy getting his big chance. If enthusiasm can win games...
Bruce Allen says the Redskins believe their new FedEx Field "party decks" will "get more young people involved, more families involved." I don't think that's actually what party decks do. Young people, maybe, but not families so much.
That's it for links. More to come, as you undoubtedly know.