DONUT 1: Shared experiences ...
Given a certain DB.com boss's new gig at 105.3 The Fan -- where will will take you inside both the Cowboys and the Mavs on radio -- some footballness might pop up every once in awhile in this space. The Dallas Cowboys and your Mavericks may indeed have more in common than you initially thought.
Dallas Mavericks? They do have reasons to be mixed and mingled in Donuts, you know.
DONUT 2: The focused and cerebral coach ...
In all his years as a Dallas Cowboys assistant coach and head coach with the team training here in Southern California, Jason Garrett has never once ventured off the team’s camp headquarters. Not once.
“Brill (Garrett, Jason’s wife) is coming to town in a few days,’’ Garrett tells us in a one-on-one visit. “I think she’s going to try to get me to sneak up to Santa Barbara for dinner one of these nights.’’
Garrett’s focus is such that on Monday, when the Cowboys staged an “Opening Day’’ of camp complete with Cowboys Cheerleader performances, the National Anthem, speeches from local dignitaries and a cluster of skydivers carrying American flags and Cowboys banners, 5,000 fans and 100 players and staffers looked skyward to watch the show.
Garrett did not. He smiled, ignored the “did-you-see-that-nudges’’ of those around him – and kept himself on schedule.
Ah, but Mrs. Garrett and Santa Barbara do beckon. The coach reveals to me that today’s players’ day off – mandated by the NFL’s new CBA – will not, however, be an opportunity for Garrett family sightseeing.
“I’m going to use Thursday to start installing the gameplan for the Giants,’’ Garrett tells me, working well in advance of the NFL’s Wednesday, Sept. 4 Cowboys-at-Giants season opener.
A focused and cerebral coach. Sound familiar, Mavs fans?
DONUT 3: Supposedly closing windows ...
Jerry made waves this offseason, like he does seemingly every offseason, by claiming that the “window” for this current roster of players to win a championship was closing. After chuckling while wondering, “Wait, when did that window OPEN?,'' you scan the roster. Indeed, Demarcus Ware is 30. Jay Ratliff is 30. Jason Witten is 30. Most importantly, Tony Romo is 32. Those are all approaching the NFL’s definition of “old.”
But is that window “closing?” Technically all windows all are, but lets not issue premature proclamations. ... because new windows always re-open. Indeed, Dirk Nowitzki’s window was once considered “closed.” Two years later, he won his first championship. Shawn Marion now becomes Dallas' senior citizen ... and he's in the finest physical shape of his life.
Yeah, yeah, we know about Charles Barkley and Father Time. But sometimes, a guy can shove something in the window sill that takes control of that window.
DONUT 4: Overly-Criticized Stars ...
Another thing the Cowboys and Mavericks share: both are lead by stars who’ve been misunderstood and unfairly criticized in their careers. We’ve well-chronicled the absurdity of much of the criticism lobbed at Dirk, so we won’t go into detail here. His Cowboys counterpart, Romo, suffers from much of the same unfair ridicule. All he’s done in his career is amass the second-best career passer rating of all time. That’s right, he’s ahead of names like Young, Montana, Aikman, Brady, Brees, and Manning.
“But he hasn’t won a ring,” some say. Well, that’s what they said about Dirk. He didn’t win his first until 33. Romo isn't on the very elite level of NFL QBs. But especially if he reins in the free-lancing and performs like a bus driver when need be, he can be at the level below. We get caught up in stupid things like the way Romo wears his hat or how fiercely he conducts his press conferences. ... and in that sense, we do the same thing done by critics of Dirk who wondered aloud whether a team led by a foreign guy, a white guy, a nice guy, a perimeter 7-footer, could ever win big.
DONUT 5: Oh, that 200-inch TV! ...
The gang at Red Rock Bar & Grill is waitin' on you! Thursday night karaoke with the live band ... more live music on the weekends ... the biggest TV in Texas to watch the Rangers and The Olympics. ... It's one of DB.com's favorite hangouts!
DONUT 6: Wacky Sidekicks ...
Around the franchise superstar stood a young man on the wing who had tantalizing potential but too often made immature decisions, offered ill-advised sound bites and had run-in’s with the law. Still another teammate was a dazzling offensive player, but ran his mouth and believed himself the baddest man in the sport.
You thought we were describing Josh Howard and Jason Terry, respectively?
Because those descriptions also apply to Dez Bryant and Terrell Owens.
And really, you can play this game with any team in any sport. It's one of the reasons the Mavs (viewed through the DB.com lens) are especially enjoyable: It's not just X's-and-O's. It's personalities. And these two franchises are overflowing with them.
DONUT 7: Getting younger ...
The Mavs just shaved two years off their average age, from 30 to 28. The starting backcourt of Collison and Mayo? Each 24.
The Cowboys are trying to benefit from young help now, too. Garrett tells us that when he has time in practice to pinpoint specific one-on-one matchups, Ware against gigantic (and gigantically talented) young left tackle Tyron Smith is a favorite.
“They are each working against a guy capable of being the best,’’ Garrett says.
Jason’s other pet matchup: First-round rookie cornerback Mo Claiborne vs. controversy-saddled wide receiver Dez Bryant.
Tyron, Mo and Dez all have the ability to be superstars ... and they have three seasons of NFL experience combined.
DONUT 8: Follow Fish and Chuck and the Mavs on Twitter ...
DONUT 9: Advanced stats ...
Garrett truly believes the club’s “other’’ outside linebacker, Anthony Spencer, is essentially on par with bookend superstar DeMarcus Ware.
During Wednesday’s media-at-large press conference, Garrett claimed Spencer is “in the top five in the league at his position if you combine the pressures, the tackles for losses, the sacks, and all those kinds of things.’’
That seems an outrageous statement, if only because there is an immediate “top-five guy’’ comparison to be made on Dallas’ own roster, with Ware coming off another brilliant sack season (19.5) and Spencer having totaled a more meager six sacks last year – his career high.
“It’s sort of like advanced stats (in basketball),’’ Garrett tells me. “You don’t want to put too much weight in them. But add up what Spencer does as a run-stopper and as a playmaker, and yeah – he needs to get more sacks. But those numbers put him in that (top-5) range. And when I talk to the Giants coaches, they recognize it. They say, ‘We can’t block that No. 94 (Ware), but we have trouble blocking that Spencer, too.’’
The Cowboys believe Spencer can total in the 15-sack range this season, which would help justify the decision to franchise-tag him at $8.6 million. Garrett says the money helps create the negative impression of Spencer.
“I was at a White Sox game a few years ago and all the fans are booing Adam Dunn because he’d just signed a multi-million dollar contract and had, like, three home runs,’’ Garrett says. “So his own fans were yelling at him about how many millions he was being paid for each of the home runs. So I get the perception. But I’m telling you what I think of Spencer, what the numbers say, and what the opponents say, too.’’
Hmmm. The Cowboys were the first organization in sports to use computers to advance the cause. The Mavs are an innovator in the use of advanced stats. And now it all circles back, the Cowboys building a case for a player with the use of a form of advanced stats.
DONUT 10: A weak defense ...
For years, the Mavericks were mocked for coming from “Allas,” because they played no defense. Last season the Cowboy defense was similarly porous, especially against the pass where they ranked in the bottom 1/3rd in the league. The Mavs found championship salvation in a stout defense. Perhaps the Cowboys can do the same with Rob Ryan adding two cornerbacks who fit his defensive scheme.
DONUT 11: Want more Mavs? ...
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By the way, we take that same focus that we provide on the Mavs here on DB.com and apply it to the Mavs and the Cowboys on 105.3 The Fan. Listen live here for some Fish on Football and for breaking Mavs stuff, too ... throughout today and every day ... and we'll take you inside the teams in every possible way!
DONUT 12: Meddling Owners who’ll do anything to win ...
Outside of Dallas, Mark Cuban has been accused of being a “meddlesome,” owner by those who do not understand his methods. He now has a championship trophy as a trump card.
Jerry Jones also has a trophy or three to his name, but is still criticized for being “meddlesome,” and “not a football guy.”
But are you a "meddler'' in any business that you own?
Cuban and Jones share many traits. Their willingness to speak and act in outrageous ways is among those. (Mark Cuban had his "Dairy Queen'' and many others, Jerry Jones has his "Glory Hole'' and many others.) And yes, "winning is everything,'' which means it's been too long since ... well, since both of them won, right?
But before "winning is everything'' comes "trying to win is everything.'' And while Cowboys and Mavs fans seem starved for yet another trophy, the process begins with effort and want-to. These two franchises, with their most colorful owners in sports share that trait, too.