Monthly Archives: December, 2012

LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE: 2013 Dallas Cowboys schedule includes Denver, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Green Bay

America's Team - Dallas Cowboys helmet 2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

The Cowboys’ loss put them in third place in the NFC East, leaving them to play play third-place teams St. Louis (at home) and New Orleans (on the road) next season.

The rest of the Cowboys’ home schedule next season includes the Giants, Redskins and Eagles from the NFC East, plus Green Bay, Minnesota, Denver and Oakland.

The remaining road games for the Cowboys next year are at the Giants, Redskins, Eagles, plus Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City and San Diego.

When the NFL announces the dates, they will posted HERE (or click on the page titled NFL Schedules).

2012 IN REVIEW: The Boys Are Back blog thanks you!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 170,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

SLACK MONDAY RECAP: Jason Garrett’s job is secure, but an offensive coordinator could be brought in

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and his team watch from the sidelines after the Browns scored a touchdown - The Boys Are Back blog

The Dallas Cowboys are planning to make changes after failing to make the playoffs for a second consecutive season under coach Jason Garrett.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Garrett’s job is secure, but Dallas does plan to bring in help on the offensive side of the ball.

"The Cowboys intend to keep Jason Garrett, I have not heard this morning that that has changed," Rapoport told NFL Network on Monday. "A better possibility is that the Cowboys could hire an offensive coordinator to call plays for Jason Garrett and allow him to be a walk-around coach and essentially just be the leader of men that they think he can be."

The move would require some finessing of titles because offensive line coach Bill Callahan also holds the title of offensive coordinator. Callahan’s role is more hands off because Garrett has called plays in Dallas during his 21-19 run with the team. That obviously would change.

The Cowboys are showing faith in Garrett’s leadership. He navigated his team through some tricky scenarios in 2012 and had the Cowboys at the brink of a playoff berth. Dallas fell short once again, but the team believes minor — not major adjustments — are in order.

BLACK MONDAY RECAP: NFL teams cleaning house in hopes of brighter futures

Lovie Smith - Chicago Bears head coach (2004-12) - The Boys Are Back blog

Black Monday has arrived, and it has brought a lot of change and bad news for many coaches and general managers around the NFL.

Andy Reid - Philadelphia Eagles head coach (1999-2012) - The Boys Are Back blog

We’ll have all the big moves covered, and this post will be a one-stop shop for all the latest news.

Norv Turner - San Diego Chargers head coach (2007-12) - The Boys Are Back blog

Here’s what we right know:

Firings

Arizona Cardinals: Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves are out.

Buffalo Bills: Coach Chan Gailey was let go after three seasons that went nowhere in Buffalo. The defense and quarterback play never improved. It’s unclear if general manager Buddy Nix will remain.

Chicago Bears: In the first mild surprise of the day, coach Lovie Smith was fired after three playoff appearances in nine years. General manager Phil Emery took the job last year and will hire his own man.

Cleveland Browns: The team announced Monday morning that coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert are both out. They never had much of a chance once new owner Jimmy Haslam bought the team.

Kansas City Chiefs: Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt announced the team has parted ways with coach Romeo Crennel. The team said it has not made a final decision about GM Scott Pioli’s status.

Philadelphia Eagles: Owner Jeffrey Lurie confirmed Monday morning that coach Andy Reid is out after 14 seasons in Philadelphia. The Eagles won’t waste any time starting a coaching search.

San Diego Chargers: The Chargers announced both coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith have been let go. Ron Wolf has been brought in as a consultant to help search for the next leadership group.

Up in the air

Carolina Panthers: Ron Rivera has struggled to win close games during his tenure and isn’t a natural in game management. A four-game winning streak to end the season could save his job. The Panthers will hire a new GM.

Chances of a change: Strong. The next GM will decide Rivera’s fate.

Detroit Lions: Jim Schwartz and GM Martin Mayhew pulled off one of the best rebuilding efforts of all time after taking over the 0-16 Lions. And then the bottom fell out for a talented roster this year.

Chances of a change: Growing. Multiple outlets said earlier in the week that Schwartz was safe, but Lions ownership is disturbed with the team’s culture, it could make a change. Schwartz is signed through 2015.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Mike Mularkey was hired just last year, but his boss, GM Gene Smith, was fired Monday morning. Mularkey wasn’t able to develop young quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

Chances of a change: Good. Mularkey told players in a team meeting that he’s still the head coach after talking with the owner Thursday and Monday. Mularkey’s fate ultimately will be decided by the next GM. Mularkey will have to wait and see.

Safe

Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones intimated throughout the process that he hasn’t even thought about changing head coaches. NFL Network contributor Jay Glazer first reported that coach Jason Garrett was safe two weeks ago. Garrett could be asked to hire an offensive coordinator that calls plays.

New York Jets: The Jets announced that GM Mike Tannenbaum was let go Monday morning. But they also announced Rex Ryan will stay on as coach. It’s an awkward arrangement for whomever the Jets hire to run the personnel department.

Tennessee Titans: The Tennessean reported Monday that coach Mike Munchak will keep his job despite a 6-10 record. Personnel executive Mike Reinfeldt is out, though.

TWELVE SEEDS SET: Road to Super Bowl XLVII

NFL 2012-2013 Playoffs - The Boys Are Back blog

After 17 grueling weeks, the playoffs are finally here. The seeds are set and the field is stacked.

A quick look at the 12 teams that survived to play another game. Here’s a case for and against each squad in the race to Super Bowl XLVII:

NFC
1) Atlanta Falcons (13-3)

How do they make a deep run? The Falcons continue to be an excellent home team. The running game provides just enough balance to complement a potent passing attack, and the defense routinely baffles elite quarterbacks, producing several turnovers.

How do they get eliminated? The Falcons struggle to rush the passer, and they become too one-dimensional on offense. In their three losses this season, they produced just two sacks and were out-rushed, 487-146. A team like the Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers could pose a huge problem.

2) San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)

How do they make a deep run? The defense dominates the line of scrimmage and Colin Kaepernick produces three or four big plays per game. Receiver Michael Crabtree continues to emerge as a top-shelf talent, and the running game benefits from the fresh legs of rookie LaMichael James.

How do they get eliminated? The49ers’ defense can be attacked; the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks provided a blueprint for doing so in Weeks 15 and 16. The 49ers’ offense, meanwhile, is capable of stalling for long stretches of time. The poor play of kicker David Akers could also end up costing San Francisco a game.

3) Green Bay Packers (11-5)

How do they make a deep run? Led by Aaron Rodgers, the Packers’ passing attack gets hot and puts up huge numbers, outscoring every opponent. A different receiver steps up every week and a healthy Clay Matthews closes out games with pressures and sacks.

How do they get eliminated? The offensive line can’t protect Rodgers and the running game fails to provide the necessary balance. The Minnesota Vikings match up very well against the Packers; they’re fully capable of quickly ending Green Bay’s postseason.

4) Washington Redskins (10-6)

How do they make a deep run? The Redskins’ unique offense controls the clock, shortens games and piles up just enough points. The defense covers up some soft spots by sending lots of pressure and creating key turnovers. Relishing their postseason opportunity, steady veterans DeAngelo Hall and London Fletcher produce game-changing plays.

How do they get eliminated? Robert Griffin III’s knee injury makes the offense more predictable, and a talented defensive opponent manages to take away Alfred Morris. The Redskins’ defense struggles to create a pass rush, and the safety play is exposed by a top-notch quarterback.

5) Seattle Seahawks (11-5)

How do they make a deep run? They carry their momentum right through the postseason. Russell Wilson continues to play clutch, mistake-free football, while Marshawn Lynch grinds out tough yards. The defense continues to create high numbers of turnovers and finds the end zone a few times, as well.

How do they get eliminated? An opponent stacks the box to take away Lynch, and the athletic Wilson is contained. The lack of a true No. 1 receiver ends up being an issue, and the offensive production takes a nosedive.

6) Minnesota Vikings (10-6)

How do they make a deep run? Adrian Peterson continues to carry the entire offense, and Christian Ponder protects the football. Jared Allen gets hot; his pressures create sacks and turnovers. Kicker Blair Walsh hits a long, game-winning field goal along the way.

How do they get eliminated? An opponent sells out to slow down Peterson, and Ponder is unable to make them pay for it. Peterson puts the ball on the ground, and Ponder struggles to play from behind. The defense allows a mobile quarterback to create plays with his legs.

AFC
1) Denver Broncos (13-3)

How do they make a deep run? Peyton Manning will have two weeks to prepare for his first opponent. The Broncos are the NFL’s most complete team, ranking in the top five in virtually every important statistic. This balance will make Denver very difficult to eliminate. The pass rush can take over a game, giving Manning’s offense a short field and allowing the Broncos to pile up points quickly.

How do they get eliminated? If the weather is horrible in Denver and the Broncos’ rushing attack is unable to get on track, they could struggle offensively. A matchup against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the snow would pose a very formidable challenge.

2) New England Patriots (12-4)

How do they make a deep run? Recently returned tight end Rob Gronkowski sparks an offensive explosion. Brady benefits from a solid ground attack, utilizing his tight ends to produce chunk plays down the field. The young secondary allows some big gains, but comes up with a few key turnovers.

How do they get eliminated? A physical Baltimore Ravens team pushes around New England’s offensive line, or the Pats simply run into a red-hot Denver team on the road and lose a shootout. I don’t see any of the other AFC teams giving New England much of a problem.

3) Houston Texans (12-4)

How do they make a deep run? They forget recent struggles and recapture their early-season form. Arian Foster shoulders the load on offense, and the defensive line creates numerous sacks and turnovers. The secondary avoids giving up the big play.

How do they get eliminated? Matt Schaub fails to make enough plays to outscore either the Patriots or the Broncos. Facing constant double-teams, J.J. Watt is unable to dominate the game.

4) Baltimore Ravens (10-6)

How do they make a deep run? A well-rested Ray Rice carries the ball more than he has during the regular season, and the Ravens physically pound their opponents. Tight end Dennis Pitta and receiver Torrey Smith produce big plays in the passing game. The defense is sparked by the return of Ray Lewis. Paul Kruger plays the role of unsung hero, making several impact plays.

How do they get eliminated? The offense features too much Joe Flacco and not enough Rice. Baltimore allows too many sacks; opponents manage to strip the ball from Flacco in the pocket, creating turnovers. The defense struggles to contain the run.

5) Indianapolis Colts (11-5)

How do they make a deep run? Andrew Luck continues to excel on third down, and the veteran pass-rushing duo of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis steps up to make several impact plays. Cornerback Vontae Davis keeps playing at an elite level, picking off a few balls.

How do they get eliminated? The offensive line is overwhelmed and Luck doesn’t get any time to throw the football. The defensive front is pushed around, giving up too many rushing yards to a back like the Ravens’ Rice or the Patriots’ Stevan Ridley.

6) Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)

How do they make a deep run? Receiver A.J. Green gets hot, producing several big plays through the air, and the pass rush dominates on the other side of the ball. Geno Atkins finally gets credit for his outstanding play after collecting several sacks and tackles for a loss.

How do they get eliminated? The running game is unable to provide balance, and Andy Dalton turns the ball over too much. The defense is on the field too often, and the unit runs out of gas late.

EIGHT AND WAIT: Cowboys limp out of Washington with a loss and an end to the 2012 NFL season

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) is helped from the field - The Boys Are Back blog

The Dallas Cowboys had their season ended at FedEx Field Sunday night, losing to the Washington Redskins 28-18.

Here are five thoughts on the Cowboys finishing the season at 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) walks off the field after throwing an interception - The Boys Are Back blog

1.) Tony Romo had two first-half interceptions and they wouldn’t have mattered if he would’ve made the big throws in the final minutes. The Cowboys had three timeouts and were only down three with a little over three minutes remaining. Romo could’ve been the hero, marching his team down the field for a victory like the NFL’s elite signal callers are known to do. But when the game and the season were on the line, Romo made a mistake that elite quarterbacks don’t make. He lofted up a weak throw to running back DeMarco Murray that was easily picked off by linebacker Rob Jackson. Game over. Romo never looked comfortable Sunday night, a shock considering the calendar still says December. Romo has been outstanding during the month in recent memory. But like Romo has done throughout his career, when it’s a win-or-go-home situation he has disappointed.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is sacked for a loss by Washington Redskins inside linebacker London Fletcher - The Boys Are Back blog

2.) Why was it so difficult to score against a Redskins defense that is not very good? Like the Cowboys, they had significant injuries on that side of the ball — safety Brandon Meriweather, defensive end Adam Carriker and outside linebacker Brian Orakpo were all on injured reserve. The Cowboys’ offense needed to capitalize in the first half but never did, settling for a 7-7 halftime score. The offense had to carry the load on this night and Romo and Co. never did. There needed to be a sense of urgency, but for some reason the Cowboys play their best when their backs are against the wall. It’s happened all season. This time it came back to haunt them. You can’t play not to lose when the playoffs are on the line.

Washington Redskins punter Sav Rocca (6) grabs Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris (17) by the face mask - The Boys Are Back blog

3.) What a game from Dwayne Harris. His returns were outstanding and his receiving game continues to improve. To go along with his 151 return yards, Harris had a 25-yard reception and a critical two-point conversion catch with 5:50 to go, pulling the Cowboys within 21-18. Not many bright spots Sunday night but he was certainly one of them.

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett with Shanahan while Rob Ryan walks away after the Washington Redskins game

4.) Give Jason Garrett and Rob Ryan one more year. This isn’t a popular suggestion right now but it’s the best option. Re-tooling the entire staff at this point would only make sense if there was an outstanding head-coaching candidate available. I don’t see one at this time. Put everything on the line next season: playoffs or bust. The injuries on defense changed this team, it put everything on Romo’s shoulders. That can be adjusted with healthy playmakers on defense. There is enough talent for this group to make the playoffs and make some noise, if healthy.

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne looks away - The Boys Are Back blog

5.) Where do they go from here? I don’t think major changes are needed. Yes, you read that correctly. Romo’s not elite but he’s still very good. Getting healthy is most important. Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, Bruce Carter, Sean Lee and Brandon Carr have demonstrated that there’s enough young talent to aid some of the aging stars on the roster. In the draft, address the offensive line, add another pass rusher and select a quarterback at some point.

LISTEN LIVE–RIGHT NOW: Dallas Cowboy’s postgame show on the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network

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END OF THE ROAD: Redskins beat Cowboys to win NFC East

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) celebrates his touchdown with tight end Logan Paulsen - The Boys Are Back blog

Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III ran for a touchdown, and fellow rookie Alfred Morris rushed for 200 yards and three scores Sunday night as the Redskins won their first division title in 13 years by beating the Dallas Cowboys 28-18.

The Redskins are 10-6 and will host the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday, having won seven games in a row since their bye week. Washington is the first NFL team to rally from 3-6 to make the postseason since the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1996.

The Redskins would have been out of the postseason with a loss. Instead, the Cowboys will miss the playoffs for the third straight year. Dallas finished 8-8, stumbling in a do-or-die end-of-regular-season game for the third time in five years.

NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins

Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins - NFC East Rivals - The Boys Are Back blog

HEAD2HEAD: A look at the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins match up

Almost a year to the day the Cowboys’ 2011 season ended with a loss to the New York Giants in a winner-take-all game for the NFC East title, Dallas will have a chance to claim the division championship Sunday in a showdown with one of its other rivals, the Washington Redskins. Led by quarterback Robert Griffin III and a rushing offense that is the most prolific in pro football, Washington has won six consecutive games. One of those victories came against Dallas in November. The Cowboys will try to exact revenge and earn their first playoff berth since the 2009 season. Here is a look at how both teams match up:

When the Cowboys run

Last Sunday, DeMarco Murray authored his worst performance since he returned from a six-game absence because of a sprained left foot. He rushed for 40 yards on 11 carries and lost a fumble that led to a touchdown. But Murray could be a difference-maker Sunday. He didn’t play in Dallas’ first game against Washington when the Cowboys gained only 35 yards on the ground. If he returns to form, he could help Dallas crack the Redskins’ run defense that is the fifth-stingiest in the NFL.

Edge: Redskins

When the Cowboys pass

The connection between quarterback Tony Romo and Dez Bryant is stronger than ever and it’s the reason why the Cowboys have a chance to win the division Sunday. Romo has thrown 17 touchdown passes in his last eight games. Bryant has been the recipient of 10 of them. The Redskins’ tattered secondary will struggle to contend with the Cowboys’ dynamic duo. Washington is surrendering 287.7 yards per game through the air, the third-highest average in the NFL.

Edge: Cowboys

When the Redskins run

Washington has the most productive ground attack in the NFL, averaging 162.3 yards per game. But it doesn’t look nearly as potent as it did a few weeks ago. Quarterback Robert Griffin’s sprained knee suffered in Week 14 has weakened the rushing offense. He gained only four yards on two carries last week against Philadelphia as rookie Alfred Morris, who has amassed 1,413 yards this season, carried the load. If Griffin’s mobility is reduced, the Cowboys’ suspect run defense that has allowed 124.5 yards per game in its last eight contests may stand a chance.

Edge: Redskins

When the Redskins pass

Rookies are usually prone to making mistakes. But Robert Griffin III is the exception. He’s thrown 20 touchdown passes and only five interceptions. His quarterback rating of 104.1 is the second-highest in the league. Griffin burned the Cowboys’ secondary in a 38-31 victory over Dallas on Thanksgiving, as he passed for 304 yards and four touchdowns. Since then, Dallas’ defense, which is allowing 239.8 yards per game through the air, has been bombarded by other quarterbacks – from Nick Foles to Drew Brees. And now Griffin may be ready for an encore.

Edge: Redskins

Special teams

Last season, the Cowboys had two of the most promising young kickers in the NFL. Now they have one and the Redskins have the other. Dallas kept Dan Bailey, who has made 28 of 30 field-goal attempts this season and has already converted seven game-winning tries in 31 NFL games. But it unloaded Kai Forbath, who was signed by Washington in October and set an NFL record by making the first 17 field goals he has attempted in his career. Forbath has the slight edge over Bailey because he is used to kicking outdoors and on the grass at FedEx Field.

Edge: Redskins

Intangibles

The Redskins are one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now. They’ve won six consecutive games, including the Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Cowboys. Dallas has also fared well of late, but its defeat to New Orleans last Sunday squelched some of the momentum it had established since that loss to Washington. The Cowboys will have to regroup in order to beat the Redskins at FedEx Field, where Washington is 4-3 this season. A partisan home crowd should help the Redskins in this duel for the division title.

Edge: Redskins

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Trackers and Scoreboards

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View game stats and scores online while you watch or listen to the game. Click HERE to choose from a list of popular online game trackers.

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Sounds of the game

Listen to the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham on KRLD in Dallas.

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GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Watch the game

To watch on TV, tune to your local FOX station.

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GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Bookmark The Boys Are Back blog

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GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins postgame coverage

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FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA: Jason Witten visits with Bob Costas

NUP_131685_0003

In an exclusive interview that will be broadcast on NBC’s “Football Night in America” before the Cowboys-Redskins game, Jason Witten had this to say to Bob Costas:

On being in a win-or-go-home situation for the second consecutive year: “It’s tough to get to the situation we are in and play for the division title. It’s been an up and down year. There is no question about that. But to get this opportunity, hopefully our past experiences will allow us to make that jump and get a win.”

On Tony Romo taking blame when things go wrong: “I think it is something he handles really well and does a great job not allowing it to effect his game and his ability to lead our team.”

On Romo’s ability to improvise: “His ability to improvise is like none other. I know that those plays are always alive. It’s great to have a guy like that who you have such great chemistry with on and off the field.”

On being in a familiar win-or-go-home situation: “Our mind-set is one that we are going to find a way to win this game. Our team has embraced that opportunity, and this is why we have played football since we were little kids.”

On the outcome of the game having an impact on the playoffs: “The energy and emotion is going to be through the roof. You are so fortunate to be in that situation and I want our team to enjoy that. It puts chills down your arms just thinking about it. So much work has gone in to getting to this point.”

EXCLUSIVE: BREAKING NEWS – The Great Robbini captured in Mexico

Regular readers already know that The Boys Are Back blog features the ALMOST WORLD FAMOUS predictions from The GREAT Robbini. In week #2, he claimed that the humidity in Seattle fogged up his crystal ball. We let that one slide. Everyone expected the sunny skies in Dallas home game would help beam in some clear images! Well, it did! The GREAT Robbini was seen celebrating Dallas’ week #3 win late into the early morning hours! Looked like The GREAT Robbini was on track … until reports started trickling in about spotting him at numerous Dallas area nightclubs prior to the Cowboys-Bears week #4 game!

After continuous phone calls, tweets, and messages left with Dallas stripers, we finally gave up on contacting The GREAT Robbini for his week #4 picks! After the Dallas loss, we feared the worst (he had eloped to Vegas with one of the girls).

The Dallas bye week only added to the drama. He was spotted in Baltimore wearing an old Bernie Kosar jersey from back in the day! Apparently upset with the Cleveland Browns move up to Maryland (you’d thing this emotion would have passed by now) … and holding on to the glory days of Cleveland’s Kosar (in Dallas). Sad turn of events! Undoubtedly, upset with the Ravens win, he wasn’t seen for several weeks.

Remarkably, The GREAT Robbini was seen on the CBS broadcast of the Cleveland at Dallas game in week #11. Unshaven, tattered Kosar jersey … and furiously stroking his ball (crystal) during the game winning field goal by Bailey! We sent security down to the field, but he had already left.

Then, three more weeks. Nothing. Not a word.  Finally, FOX’s sideline reporter spotted him (with a tall, unidentified woman) coming out of the visiting teams locker room at the Cincinnati game. Clutching dozens of various Dallas Cowboy jerseys, a helmet, and an iPod Touch … they vanished. At this point, we were seriously concerned.

The Great Robbini - Playa Del Carmen Mexico - The Boys Are Back blog

No news for a week. Only reports that Dallas Cowboys jerseys started showing up on eBay from a seller identified as thelovepirate located in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. We sent a crew down to Playa and hired a private investigator. With their help, we were able to obtain a few photographs to help resolve this bizarre behavior.

The Great Robbini - Playa del Carmen beach in Mexico - The Boys Are Back blog

Beachcombers reported a mysterious pirate-type of flag that appeared in random spots in the early morning hours. These spots were littered with empty Tequila bottles, fish bones, a spent campfire, and indiscernible poems written on the back of PayPal receipts. We notified the Policia. 

Policia Turistica - Mexico - The Great Robbini - The Boys Are Back blog

The Policia Turistica setup a sting operation with the cooperation of our highly recommended private investigator. Nothing. The Great Robbini (aka The Love Pirate) disappeared. Determined, we went down to Mexico to meet with our private investigator, Pablo Magnum de Remington Steele.

Upon arrival, we noticed a familiar Dallas Cowboys helmet on his credenza. It had been allegedly autographed with shaky signatures of Tony Romo and Bernie Kosar. When questioned, Pablo became defensive. It appeared we had a leak in the Robbini/Love Pirate love-nest sting operation. Our hopes diminished, disheartened by the corruption and elusive behavior of our prognostication guru … we headed back to Dallas.

Policia Municipal - Mexico - The Great Robbini - The Boys Are Back blog

Then, when it seemed hopeless … a break! Multiple domestic violence calls started pouring into the Policia Municipal office in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. The disturbance at a backroom bungalow inside a local tavern, drew large crowds of spectators. “No mas de pirate” chants erupted as the hostile crowd discovered that The Great Robbini’s new bride was actually the twin brother of famed Baby Dolls dancer Harriett Mound. Turned out, after a three day binge, when both of the newlyweds awoke, Harry had accumulated a lot of facial hair. Apparently, this caused The GREAT Robbini to flip out! Under considerable mental duress, Mr. Robbini was taken into custody, but allowed the courtesy of visiting the Valladolid Church to repent.

Valladolid Church - The Great Robbini - The Boys Are Back blog

The GREAT Robbini is being held on multiple charges in Mexico. We have been able to communicate via his iPod Touch and the wifi connection at the Policia Station. He is expected to be expedited to Dallas in the coming days for local charges.  Harry Mound has offered to post bond, but Mr. Robbini has declined the gesture. Understandably distraught and confused, The GREAT Robbini has released the following message:

“To loyal readers and fans of The Boys Are Back blog,I apologize for not providing the much anticipated predictions for the past 12 weeks. While I can’t recall every event, I experienced an adventure that most of you would relish. The wedding in Vegas was awesome. However, I strongly recommend no intoxicating beverages before you actually agree to the nuptials. I thought my bride just had big hands. Seemed reasonable that the gruff voice was from the delicious drinks at the casinos. I was in a trance for weeks! I thought it was the magic of my crystal ball. Turns out it was more about the relentless romantic whirlwind from being in love … and untold gallons of liquor. My bad. I have no money to get out of jail. Only this unsold Poppinga jersey, sweat pants, sandals, iPod Touch, a fish hook, and the love of an ugly cross-dressing brother of my dream girl. I rubbed my ball (crystal) … and it DON’T look good for me!!!

As the editor of The Boys Are Back blog … I’d like to apologize also. There were signs of instability, but I wanted to bring you this wonderful feature. I had no idea that The GREAT Robbini had gambling issues, bad taste in women, or a tendency to fish with the worm inside each tequila bottle. His hero, Bernie Kosar, would be very disappointed.

I’m sure you all understand. The GREAT Robbini has a lot of things to work out. The Dallas Cowboys season is winding down. We hope for a win tonight vs. the Washington Redskins. We decided to ‘go ahead’ and publish The GREAT Robbini’s predictions for this last week. Not sure if he’ll be back in 2013-2014. We’ll negotiate that in the offseason. Without further delay, it’s time for The GREAT Robbini’s predictions. I’m sure you’ll agree … a lot of these will come true. OK, here we go …

Dallas rolls over RG3–wins division, playoff spot.

Ware 1 sack.

Spencer 1 sack.

Lissemore 1 sack.

Boys D forces 2 turnovers.

Boys hold skins to a FG on 2 drives.

WAS punts 4x.

Romo 350yds.

Romo 3 TDs.

Witten TD.

Dez TD.

Murray TD.

Romo rushing TD.

Witten reaches 1000 yds on season.

Murray 65 yds.

Dallas receives ball to start 2nd half.

Romo 1 INT.

Game ends in regulation.

Poppinga is MVP, and I’m able to sell this jersey for thousands!

Bernie Kosar forgives me

I get my marriage annulled

I am able to block recent images and memories of my honeymoon

Tequila is banned in North America

The Boys Are Back readers will ask for my contract renewal.

Vegas will require sobriety tests before each wedding

 

— The GREAT Robbini 

Happy New Year Dallas Cowboy fans!

DALLAS PLOWBOYS: Weather could force Dallas, Redskins to remain grounded

QBs Robert Griffin III (left) and Tony Romo may not be the featured matchup in Sunday’s Redskins-Cowboys game - The Boys Are Back blog

The spotlight will be squarely on the quarterbacks when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins square off Sunday night with the NFC East title on the line.

But with forecasts calling for temperatures at FedEx Field to dip into the 20s, the focus could shift quickly from the Cowboys’ Tony Romo and the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III to running backs DeMarco Murray and Alfred Morris.

Griffin was the catalyst for Washington’s 38-31 victory over Dallas on Thanksgiving, completing 71.4 percent of his passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns in one of the rookie of the year candidate’s top performances. But Morris, another rookie, did plenty of heavy lifting with a rugged 24-carry, 113-yard, one-TD showing.

“RG3, everybody’s enamored,” Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears told reporters in Irving. “But it’s not like he’s back there alone. He can hand the ball off to a guy that can make plays.”

Indeed, Morris is fourth in the league with 1,413 yards on 302 attempts, a major reason Washington leads the league in rush offense at 162.3 yards per game. His big game against Dallas was the first of three 100-yard games in a row during a six-game winning streak that propelled the Redskins (9-6) from cellar dwellers to division leaders.

Another big game could be in store for Morris, considering he’s going up against an injury-depleted defense that ranks 17th against the run (115.3 yards per game) and will be without five of its best run stuffers.

“RG3 is the phenom that everybody loves, but this running back has been killing people and may be the most dangerous guy on the field,” Spears said in an eyebrow-raising comment given Griffin’s otherworldly skills.

“That’s not to take anything away from RG3. But when you look at the film, (Morris) is averaging almost 120 yards rushing per game. Usually when teams do that, they win. So we got a lot on our hands.”

A sixth-round pick from Florida Atlantic, Morris is the latest late-round or undrafted gem at running back to be unearthed by Redskins coach Mike Shanahan.

“Not too many rookies can handle the load he has,” Shanahan said of Morris, who has rushed for 10 TDs in the coach’s famed zone-blocking scheme.

“But he’s a special guy, a very humble, hard worker.”

The Cowboys (8-7) were without Murray in the first meeting with the Redskins and gained only 35 yards on 11 attempts. In his four games since returning from a foot injury that sidelined him for six contests, the second-year pro from Oklahoma has rushed for 80-plus yards twice and has run for a TD in three of those outings.

“The game kind of dictated them not being able to run the football as much on Thanksgiving,” said Washington linebacker London Fletcher, noting the Redskins led 28-3 at halftime after Griffin and Morris combined for four scores in the second quarter.

“With Murray, he’s a big back, breaks tackles, runs hard. Obviously, having him in the fold makes their run game better.”

Still, Murray managed only 40 yards on 11 carries and failed to score a TD in last week’s 34-31 overtime loss to New Orleans, a contest in which the Saints controlled possession for almost 65 percent of the game.

The Cowboys are 31st in rush offense, averaging 77.7 yards per game.

Washington is fifth in rush defense, yielding 95.5 yards per outing.

“They are a very good run defense and have been for a number of years,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said while heaping praise on Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.

GRIP ON THE SITUATION: DeMarco Murray isn’t worried about fumbles, vows to protect the ball better

Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray runs against the Philadelphia Eagles - The Boys Are Back blog

DeMarco Murray, who has 25 carries for 121 carries and one touchdown the past two games combined, had no fumbles the first 288 carries of his career. He now has two lost fumbles over his last 20 carries.

His first occurred at the Pittsburgh 8-yard line, denying the Cowboys points, and the other happened at the Dallas 5, leading to a New Orleans touchdown.

“We have tremendous amount of confidence in DeMarco,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s done a lot of really good things for us. We’re going to hand him the ball and give him every opportunity. He knows more than anybody else the importance of ball security. He’s had a couple the last couple weeks, one in red zone and one coming out. That really led to points and took points away from us. He knows that better than anybody else. He’s carried the ball a lot in his life, and he understands the importance of securing it and making sure he can be a reliable guy that way. We’ll give him some chances, though. There’s no doubt about that.”

Murray said he isn’t a fumbler, and the fumbles already are gone from his memory. 

"It doesn’t bother me at all," Murray said. "Last week was last week. I don’t worry about mistakes. I don’t worry about good plays. Once a bad plays happens, it’s erased. Once a great play happens, it’s erased. I have a short term memory, good, bad, negative, positive, I just move on and try to make a play the next time."

Murray said running backs coach Skip Peete has not talked to him about the fumbles. He already knows the value of better protecting the ball and vows to do a better job with that this week.

"When you start, and someone starts talking about it, ‘Hey, you need ball security,’ that’s when you start thinking about it, that’s when fumbles tend to happen," Murray said. "He knows. He’s a great coach. He knows how to get his guys ready. You know the ball is important. You’ve got to keep it away from them. Turnovers can hurt you.

"I just try to play hard, try to play fast."

TRUE GRIT COWBOY: DeMarcus Ware will wear a shoulder harness as well as the elbow brace

Dallas Cowboys DeMarcus Ware vs Philadelphia Eagles - The Boys Are Back blog

DeMarcus Ware had KT tape on his right shoulder Friday after practice. He’ll have a shoulder harness on it come Sunday, he said.

Ware said earlier in the week he would play without a harness, but on Friday, he said a harness would keep it from popping out again. He left the game with 30 seconds to go in the third quarter Sunday against the Saints and returned for only one play in overtime. He played 59 of 95 plays.

Ware did not practice all week, but he reiterated Friday that he will play. He is listed as probable on the injury report.

Ware has played with a brace on his right elbow the past two games after hyperextending it against the Bengals.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said the Cowboys will pick their spots with Ware, who has 1.5 sacks in the past five games.

"I think we’re going to have to watch how many plays we give him, pick our spots and play our other players," Ryan said. "We’ve got good payers here so we’re going to play them. There’s only one DeMarcus Ware. There’s only one Sean Lee, but we’ve had to function without Sean. Now, sometimes we’ve had to function without DeMarcus. I mean these are two of the premier guys in football. Nobody’s got them except us, but we’re fortunate to have them and when we don’t, we have to move on. We’ll do the best we can. I know DeMarcus will play his heart out when he’s out there, and we’ll just see how much he’s able to give us.”

ROB RYAN PRESS CONFERENCE: Defense doesn’t want to be ‘second-class citizen’ to Cowboys offense, needs to be ‘a part of this’

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan - Dallas Cowboys vs Washington Redskins - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said the defense doesn’t want to be a second-class citizen compared to the offense.

“Our offense, in my opinion, is second to none,” Ryan told reporters Friday at Valley Ranch. “We have a tremendous quarterback, and obviously a great system with Jason. So what we need to do is play better football on defense. We’ve been competitive. Maybe we’re not going to be great, but we need to be better than we’ve been. Need to keep the points down, and that’s how you win as a team.

“Our strength is definitely offense right now, but we don’t want to be a second-class citizen. We played that way last week, and it showed against a great offense and a talented quarterback in Drew Brees. We need to bounce back, have a great game here and be a part of this.”

Ryan said the short week for the Thanksgiving Day game “certainly didn’t help” but that the Cowboys had a good plan for the first game and got good pressure on Robert Griffin, with three sacks and seven quarterback hits.

“We forced him to throw the ball quick sometimes,” Ryan said. “We sacked him … so I was happy with the pass rush we got on him last time. Did he beat some blown coverages? Yeah, he did. What we need to do is be better in our coverage, be more sound in what we do and execute. To me, I liked our plan last time. I just don’t think we executed all that well, especially in short yardage, especially in double coverage when a guy ran by us for about a hundred-yard touchdown.”

 

Rob Ryan’s Friday press conference: I Liked Our Plan Last Time

Video - Watch Now - The Boys Are Back blog - Press play

Rob Ryan talks about what went wrong the last time the Cowboys faced the Redskins, and what they will need to do differently this time around.

RIVAL RESPECTS ROMO: Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher wary of Romo’s talent

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) looks to pass the ball to running back DeMarco Murray - The Boys Are Back blog

Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher is at that age where post-career planning is essential.

One possibility for the 37-year-old, 15th-year pro: Tony Romo’s publicist.

In a conference call with the Dallas media Wednesday to discuss Sunday night’s NFC East title game, Fletcher praised the Cowboys’ quarterback in the same enthusiastic manner he goes about slamming ball carriers.

“You look at the way he’s been playing lately,” said Fletcher, who leads the Redskins in tackles and interceptions. “He’s been playing as good a football as any quarterback in the league these last four, five ballgames. You look at all the numbers he’s been doing, all the plays he’s made, and then Dez Bryant playing the way he’s playing, (Jason) Witten playing the way he’s playing.

“You got some guys playing some great football, but it starts definitely with Tony.”

In forging a 3-1 December record, Romo has completed 66 percent of his passes for an average of 332 yards a game, with 10 touchdowns and only one interception.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) runs from New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Tom Johnson - The Boys Are Back blog

But Romo got hot long before this month. Over his last eight games, he’s thrown 17 TD passes and three interceptions while totaling 2,612 yards for an average of 326.5 yards per game.

For the season, Romo has completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 4,685 yards, with 26 TDs and 16 picks for a rating of 92.5 (10th in the NFL).

“His (December) touchdown-interception rate is off the charts,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said in another conference call. “I think everybody knows how good Tony plays. His supporting cast is really complementing his play as well.”

Dallas Cowboys' wide receiver Dez Bryant celebrates vs Pittsburgh Steelers - The Boys Are Back blog

Indeed, Bryant, Witten and DeMarco Murray provide Romo with plenty of options.

With 808 yards and 10 TDs in his past seven games, Bryant has emerged as the club’s No. 1 wide receiver. Witten last week set a season record for catches by a tight end with 103 and needs nine more to eclipse Michael Irvin’s club record. Murray has rushed for a TD in three of his last four games.

Still, it’s Romo who worries Fletcher the most. With the 32-year-old passer seemingly making all the right moves, the Cowboys are third in the league in passing offense (302.2 yards). The Redskins, meanwhile, rank 30th in passing defense (287.7 yards per game).

For the season, Romo is averaging 312.3 yards per game and needs 315 more to become only the fifth NFL quarterback to pass for more than 5,000 in a season.

And it’s not all because of his arm and legs, Fletcher said.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) hands off to Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray - The Boys Are Back blog

“I don’t know that he gets as much credit for being as smart as he is,” said Fletcher, who missed practice Wednesday because of a lingering ankle injury. “A lot of people look at his athleticism and the plays he’s able to make outside of the pocket. But he does a great job knowing where he wants to go with the ball based on the coverage.”

With the Cowboys falling behind 28-3 in the second quarter, Romo passed for a career-high 441 yards against the Redskins in the first meeting, won 38-31 by Washington. He also threw three TDs and two interceptions, including one picked off by Fletcher, who has a career-high five picks.

“Really, it’s just the coaches making the calls and being in the right place at the right time,” Fletcher said of his interception total. “It’s a pass-first league now, so you have to be able to make adjustments.”

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) calls a play vs Bengals 2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

With the way Romo is playing, the Redskins and Fletcher could be forced to make plenty of them Sunday night.

INJURY–PRACTICE UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins

Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware missed practice Wednesday with shoulder and elbow injuries. He played in only 59 of 95 plays in Sunday’s game after leaving with a shoulder strain. He left with 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter and returned for one play of overtime. He said Wednesday that he would play Sunday.

Five other players missed practice, which was moved indoors to Cowboys Stadium. Linebacker Brady Poppinga and nose tackle Robert Callaway had travel problems getting back to DFW after the two-day Christmas break. Defensive end Jason Hatcher (thigh) said he would play Sunday. Linebacker Victor Butler (groin) also was out. Nose tackle Jay Ratliff, who had sports hernia surgery two weeks ago, will be out again this week.

Linebacker Alex Albright (knee) was limited.

Receiver Dez Bryant (finger), running back DeMarco Murray (foot), running back Felix Jones (knee) and linebacker Ernie Sims (concussion) were full participants.

RELATED: Jason Hatcher’s thigh will be fine come Sunday, he says

Defensive end Jason Hatcher said he missed practice only as a precaution. His thigh will be "100 percent by the time Sunday comes," Hatcher promises.

"It’s doing good," Hatcher said Wednesday. "I’m a veteran. I understand. I listen to my body. It was one of those days I felt like I should have just rested a little bit more. Tomorrow, I’ll do a little bit more.

"Am I worried about me playing Sunday? No."

Hatcher has had 68 tackles, 4 sacks and 21 quarterback pressures this season.

RELATED: DeMarcus Ware promises to play through pain

Linebacker DeMarcus Ware said he will not wear any type of harness on his strained shoulder nor will be take a pain-killing injection. But he will be in the lineup come Sunday.

"I feel a lot better right now," Ware said Wednesday. "I’m going regardless."

Ware, who already was playing with a hyperextended elbow, had to leave last week’s game with 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter after "tweaking" the shoulder. He returned for a third-down play in overtime. Ware played 59 of 95 plays. He did not practice Wednesday.

"I’m going to tell you something, 75 percent of DeMarcus Ware is probably better than 90 percent of the guys who play the position at the end of the day," Cowboys defensive end Jason Hatcher said. "I’ll take 75 percent vs. no DWare any day. Wherever he is right now, I’ll take it."

Ware has never missed a game in his NFL career and has failed to start only one of 127 games. He didn’t start a 2009 game against New Orleans because of a neck injury.

Ware has 11.5 sacks this season, but only 2.5 have come in the past seven games. He has been without a sack in three of his past five games.

2012 NFL PRO BOWL: Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware will represent the Dallas Cowboys in Hawaii

2012 NFL Pro Bowl - Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

Receiver Dez Bryant might get to the Pro Bowl yet, but he’ll have to have one of the four players named Wednesday to pull out to get the chance to go to Hawaii. Bryant said earlier Wednesday he would be "happy, who wouldn’t be" with a Pro Bowl nod.

Instead, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones, and Victor Cruz were the choices on the initial list released Wednesday night. Players whose teams make the Super Bowl do not play in the Pro Bowl, which is the week before the Super Bowl.

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) exhorts teammates in the bench area during a a break - The Boys Are Back blog

Linebacker DeMarcus Ware and tight end Jason Witten were the two Cowboys named to the Pro Bowl. Ware made his seventh all-star team and Witten his eighth.

Bryant was left off despite ranking third among NFC wideouts with 88 catches and fourth in yards with 1,311. His 12 touchdowns ranks second among NFC wideouts. Balloting for players and coaches took place last week, though, before Bryant had nine catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints.

Witten and Ware were the only Cowboys who ranked in the top five in fan balloting. Witten was third and Ware second at their respective positions.

Witten has set the NFL record for most catches in a single season for a tight end with 103. Witten was left off the Pro Bowl roster last season, passed over by Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham.

“It is always an honor to get voted, especially when a portion of the vote comes from your peers around the league," Witten said in a statement released by the Cowboys. "I have a lot of respect for this league and the players that make up this league. I know how many great players there are around the NFL, and to be selected is very humbling.”

Dallas Cowboys team captain DeMarcus Ware fires up teammates - The Boys Are Back blog

Ware has only 11.5 sacks this season, tying him for third in the NFC. He might not play in the game, because of injuries he has played through this season.

“What an honor and privilege it is to be voted to the Pro Bowl by the fans, coaches and players around the league," Ware said in a statement released by the Cowboys. "I know how difficult it is to make it to the game, and I appreciate the support from everyone. I look forward to not only representing the NFC, but also the entire Dallas Cowboys organization.”

Outside linebacker Anthony Spencer and kicker Dan Bailey were the other Cowboys deserving of the honor.

NFL 2012 Pro Bowl Roster – By position

.

AFC
Offense
Position Player(s)
Quarterback *-Peyton Manning, Denver
Tom Brady, New England
Matt Schaub, Houston
Running back *Arian Foster, Houston
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City
Ray Rice, Baltimore
Fullback *-Vonta Leach, Baltimore
Wide receiver *-A.J. Green, Cincinnati
*-
Andre Johnson, Houston
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis
Wes Welker, New England
Tight end *-Rob Gronkowski, New England
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh
Tackle *-Joe Thomas, Cleveland
*-
Duane Brown, Houston
Ryan Clady, Denver
Guard *-Logan Mankins, New England
*-
Marshal Yanda, Baltimore
Wade Smith, Houston
Center *-Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh
Chris Myers, Houston
Defense
Position Player(s)
Defensive end *-J.J. Watt, Houston
*-
Cameron Wake, Miami
Elvis Dumervil, Denver
Interior linemen *-Geno Atkins, Cincinnati
*-
Vince Wilfork, New England
Haloti Ngata, Baltimore
Outside linebacker *-Von Miller, Denver
*-
Tamba Hali, Kansas City
Robert Mathis, Indianapolis
Inside/Middle linebacker *-Jerod Mayo, New England
Derrick Johnson, Kansas City
Cornerback *-Champ Bailey, Denver
*-
Johnathan Joseph, Houston
Antonio Cromartie, N.Y. Jets
Free safety *-Ed Reed, Baltimore
Strong safety *-Eric Berry, Kansas City
LaRon Landry, N.Y. Jets
Special teams
Position Player(s)
Punter Dustin Colquitt, Kansas City
Placekicker Phil Dawson, Cleveland
Kick returner Jacoby Jones, Baltimore
Special-teamer Matthew Slater, New England
Long snapper TBA
 
NFC
Offense
Position Player(s)
Quarterback *-Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Matt Ryan, Atlanta
Robert Griffin III, Washington
Running back *-Adrian Peterson, Minnesota
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle
Frank Gore, San Francisco
Fullback *-Jerome Felton, Minnesota
Wide receiver *-Calvin Johnson, Detroit
*-Brandon Marshall, Chicago

Julio Jones, Atlanta
Victor Cruz, N.Y. Giants
Tight end *-Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta
Jason Witten, Dallas
Tackle *-Joe Staley, San Francisco
*-
Russell Okung, Seattle
Trent Williams, Washington
Guard *-Mike Iupati, San Francisco
*-
Jahri Evans, New Orleans
Chris Snee, N.Y. Giants
Center *-Max Unger, Seattle
Jeff Saturday, Green Bay
Defense
Position Player(s)
Defensive end *-Jason Pierre-Paul, N.Y. Giants
*-Julius Peppers, Chicago
Jared Allen, Minnesota
Interior linemen *-Justin Smith, San Francisco
*-
Henry Melton, Chicago
Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay
Outside linebacker *-Aldon Smith, San Francisco
*-
DeMarcus Ware, Dallas
Clay Matthews, Green Bay
Inside/Middle linebacker *-Patrick Willis, San Francisco
NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco
Cornerback *-Charles Tillman, Chicago
*-
Tim Jennings, Chicago
Patrick Peterson, Arizona
Free safety *-Dashon Goldson, San Francisco
Earl Thomas, Seattle
Strong safety *-Donte Whitner, San Francisco
Special teams
Position Player(s)
Punter Thomas Morstead, New Orleans
Placekicker Blair Walsh, Minnesota
Kick returner Leon Washington, Seattle
Special-teamer Lorenzo Alexander, Washington
Long snapper TBA

Continue reading →

OFF THE FIELD NEWS: Dallas Cowboys NT Josh Brent indicted in fatal wreck

Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent, center, is surrounded by media after leaving court Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 in Dallas - The Boys Are Back blog

DALLAS — A Dallas County grand jury on Wednesday indicted Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent on one count of intoxication manslaughter in a Dec. 8 wreck in Irving that killed teammate Jerry Brown.

Brent is free on $100,000 bail. No court dates have been set, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said.

The maximum sentence on the charge is 20 years in prison.

According to news reports, before the crash Brent and Brown had been at a Dallas club. About 2:15 a.m., Brent was driving his Mercedes-Benz on a service road of Texas 114 when the car hit a curb, flipped and caught fire. Brown was pronounced dead at a hospital. Brent had minor injuries.

Brent had an Illinois driver’s license that was reported to have been suspended and expired.

Last week, a judge ordered Brent not to drive until he gets a Texas license and ordered him to wear an ankle monitor that detects alcohol consumption. Brent has a previous DWI conviction.

LOOKING FORWARD: The future of the NFL Pro Bowl could incorporate the NCAA Senior Bowl (Special Feature)

NFL Pro Bowl 2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

The Pro Bowl will go on this year, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has made no secret of the fact that the all-star game may not continue in future years.

So what would a Pro Bowl-less NFL calendar look like? According to NFL.com’s Albert Breer, one possibility would be replacing the game with a college all-star game.

Breer writes that the AFC and NFC’s all-star team could be recognized at the NFL Honors award show on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, with the college players hitting the field after.

"That game would likely be an existing college event, most likely the Senior Bowl, which would be moved to be part of the NFL calendar, with the thought that it could kick off draft season and highlight prospects on a bigger stage, though the league would certainly be careful about NCAA rules entanglements," Breer writes.

The concept would be to mix today’s stars with future stars. Breer’s well-researched piece has comments from NFL executive vice president of business ventures Eric Grubman, who sounds like he doesn’t see a traditional Pro Bowl in the future.

Continue reading →

SALARY HAT (INSIDE JOKE): Franchise tag numbers tentatively set; 2013 salary cap near $121M

The 2013 salary cap is tentatively slated to be at or just below $121 million, according to NFL sources.

The values for restricted free agent designations and franchise tenders have also been set. Below are the tentative franchise tag and transition tag numbers for each position, in millions.

These figures were distributed in early December at the annual meeting of team owners in Dallas. They will likely be finalized in March.

CB: Franchise: $10.668         Transition: $8.939

DE: Franchise: $10.984         Transition: $8.994

DT: Franchise: $8.306           Transition: $6.919

K/P: Franchise: $2.926         Transition: $2.654

LB: Franchise: $9.455           Transition: $8.216

OL: Franchise: $9.660           Transition: $8.560

QB: Franchise: $14.642         Transition: $12.845

RB: Franchise: $8.079           Transition: $6.851

S: Franchise: $6.798             Transition: $5.899

TE: Franchise: $5.962            Transition: $5.105

WR: Franchise: $10.357        Transition: $8.716

THE HALF GRAND SCHEME: Decision to play Zone vs. Man, yields 560 yards from Dallas Cowboys defense

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan walks the sideline during the game against the New Orleans Saints - The Boys Are Back blog

Here are more thoughts from Sunday’s game with the Saints and how it might affect the Cowboys’ game plan moving forward this week in Washington with the division on the line.

Zone Or Man

Much like all of you I watch the games but have the same questions of why this team plays certain schemes over others. When this club opened training camp last July, I was excited by the prospects of Rob Ryan having the potential to play more man coverage with Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Mike Jenkins. There were plenty of days in Oxnard where we did see Carr and Claiborne when he was on the field running with Bryant and Austin.  

These corners just seemed better suited to play this style of defense than playing seven yards off and driving on the ball. As the season has progressed, Ryan still has Carr and Claiborne in the lineup but you have observed him using them more in zone coverage. In studying my notes from the Saints game, I wrote the word “Zone” several times and plenty of those notes were after Brees had a completion down the field. There is a side of me that believes that all the injuries across this defense has taken away a lot of the packages that Ryan would like to run. Generally when you play zone, you are trying to protect or hide a flaw. Safety play, corners that can’t really cover, or lack of a pass rush.

Let’s be real honest here when we look at this defense, DeMarcus Ware is one of your best players but these injuries that he is playing with have reduced him to a player that is similar to say Victor Butler. I really don’t mean that as a slam on Butler but when he is in the game, you get an occasional pressure, maybe a sack or a tackle that results in a three yard gain. It’s okay work but it’s not Ware when healthy. Ryan and this staff are trying to do things to keep this defense from totally falling apart and I understand as you read this, you are saying could it get any worse, they gave up over 560 yards?

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees throws against the Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

I understand in theory what Ryan is trying to do here but there were points in the Saints game in the second half where he did play some man coverage with his secondary and the results were favorable helping him get off the field which gave me hope that he could play more of it. There are very few offenses in this league that can present the problems the Saints are going to cause you matchup wise. It’s a league of big plays and they make a ton of them.

Sure I would like to see Ryan play more man coverage and make these receivers fight for contested balls because I really believe he has players that can do that but again I understand what he is trying to protect here. This is not an easy job he has here with the current state of this defense and Ware not healthy makes it even more difficult. Ryan is not the idiot that the majority of you believe, but he is one if he runs into me in the hallway at Valley Ranch and asks me what I think he should do scheme wise. Then you should question him.

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore (16) dives into the end zone for a touchdown - The Boys Are Back blog

Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout

Editors note: This subject was raised, by me, on the Dallas Cowboys forum Monday. Check it out:

http://boards.dallascowboys.com/topic/9869-rant-rob-ryan-wake-up-dude-this-defensive-scheme-is-a-joke/

LOOKING AHEAD TO GAMEDAY: Scouting the Washington Redskins

The Washington Redskins chose to take it easy on Robert Griffin’s injured knee last week, scratching most of the running out of the playbook for the rookie quarterback.

With a sore knee, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III only ran twice in last week's win over the Eagles - The Boys Are Back blog

And now they know he can win that way, too.

Griffin ran only two times for 4 yards but still put up a 102.4 passer rating, completing 16 of 24 passes for 198 yards, two touchdowns and an interception (that went off the receiver’s hands) in a win last week against the Philadelphia Eagles.

It gives the team confidence that Griffin, even if he is slowed down a bit, still can be a weapon against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

"We did not do everything that we would normally do," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan told Washington reporters. "I didn’t want to put that pressure on that LCL."

The ligament strain caused Griffin to miss a game two weeks ago against the Cleveland Browns. He came back last week with a bulky knee brace that hampered him.

"My mobility was down a little bit just because of the brace, but at the same time, I was still able to do everything a quarterback is supposed to do," Griffin said. "It didn’t necessarily slow me down by any means, and I was able to protect myself out there."

Rivalry talk

Tight end Chris Cooley has played the Cowboys 13 times, so he appreciates the rivalry.

"This game is going to be unbelievable," he said. "This is what should be one of the best rivalries in all of football, one of the top two or three games in all of football … but it hasn’t been Redskins-Cowboys where we both have great teams."

Winning feeling

The Redskins’ six-game winning streak included a stretch of three games decided by one score, and four in all. But that’s good, Mike Shanahan said.

"You’ve got to get used to winning those tight games," he said. "I think that’s where our football team is right now. They expect to win."

The Redskins escaped Cowboys Stadium with a one-score margin, winning 38-31. They also beat the New York Giants 17-16, the Baltimore Ravens 31-28 and the Eagles 27-20.

Injuries

Right tackle Tyler Polumbus did not play last week because of a concussion. The Redskins are optimistic he can play on Sunday.

Safety DeJon Gomes sprained a knee against Philadelphia. The Redskins were waiting to see how the knee responded today.

Center Will Montgomery played with a sprained knee against the Eagles, and defensive end Stephen Bowen suffered a torn biceps, but both are expected to play Sunday.

Briefly

Ryan Kerrigan had two sacks and a forced fumble last week, giving him the team lead in sacks with 8.5.

Kai Forbath, who spent time on injured reserve with the Cowboys last year, has made 17 field goals to start his career, an NFL record.

Rookie Alfred Morris (1,413 yards) needs 105 yards to break Clinton Portis’ single-season club rushing record.

The Redskins haven’t won the NFC East since 1999.

NFC EAST REVIEW: Division race comes down to week 17

Dallas Cowboys vs Washington Redskins - NFC East rivals play for division title - The Boys Are Back blog

With just one week left in the regular season the NFC East comes down to one game between the Redskins and Cowboys.

Washington Redskins 9-6

Dallas Cowboys 8-7

New York Giants 8-7

Philadelphia Eagles 4-11

Redskins:

It didn’t seem possible six weeks ago, but the Washington Redskins are currently the sole leaders atop the NFC East after winning their sixth straight game. Last Sunday they welcomed back Robert Griffin III from a leg injury and the rookie quarterback didn’t look like he had missed a beat.

Griffin was able to post a 102.4 passer rating while throwing two touchdowns in a 27-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Redskins continued to do what they do best: run the ball well on offense. They rushed for 128 total yards and made the big plays when it mattered. At this point in the season the Redskins are very comfortable running their college-like offensive scheme and few teams have had any success stopping them.

The Redskins will be champions of the NFC East if they defeat the Cowboys at home on Sunday night. If they lose they could still potentially make the playoffs as a wildcard assuming that both Chicago and Minnesota lose their final game.

Cowboys

Perhaps the most exciting game the Cowboys have played all season turned out to be completely irrelevant. After the Giants were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens the Cowboys’ 34-31 loss to the Saints earlier in the day became meaningless.

But that doesn’t take away any of the thrill (or concerns) that came with the game. The Cowboys came back from down 14 points with less than five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. After getting the first touchdown, the Cowboys still needed a 4th and 10 conversion with 15 seconds left in the game. They not only converted the 4th down, they scored a 21-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin to force overtime.

In the end, a controversial fumble by Marques Colston that bounced 22 yards forward until being recovered by Jimmy Graham set up a field goal to win the game for the Saints.

Tony Romo was nearly flawless in the game throwing for over 400 yards and four touchdowns, while posting a passer rating of 123.8. He was helped out by the career performance of Dez Bryant who recorded 224 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

Despite the loss, the Cowboys can win the division with a win over Washington on Sunday. That is their only chance at making the playoffs.

Giants:

It was hard not to assume that the Giants would just “turn it on” when they really truly needed a win. Well, the past two weeks New York has needed wins and they have been blown out each week. After being shutout by the Falcons the previous week, the Giants lost 33-14 to the Ravens.

At a time when they needed their best players playing their best, the Giants received poor performances from Eli Manning (only 150 yards passing), Ahmad Bradshaw (only 39 yards rushing) and their much heralded defensive line was unable to record a single sack on the immobile Joe Flacco.

The Giants’ weakness all season has been their secondary and they once again struggled as Flacco was able to throw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns on the Giants’ defense.

They’ve been inconsistent all season and now the Super Bowl champions find themselves in a position where they will need a miracle to make the post season.

Eagles:

The Eagles have been able to get a good look at some of their younger players the past few weeks. Unfortunately for them, at 4-11, that’s about the only positive to come from this season.

In a 27-20 loss to the Redskins, rookie quarterback Nick Foles threw for 345 yards but suffered a broken right hand that will likely force him to miss the season finale. That will put Michael Vick back into the lineup, likely for the last time with the Eagles.

McCoy returned to the lineup, which meant less carries for rookie Bryce Brown and together they were only able to combine for 63 yards.

The Eagles are obviously looking towards the future as they finish the season Sunday against the Giants.

Injuries:

Dallas Cowboys: DeMarcus Ware has been dealing with elbow and shoulder injuries all season and he was forced to miss significant portions of the Cowboys’ loss to the Saints. Jason Garrett claimed that he believes that Ware will be ready to suit up and play the season finale despite his injuries. The Cowboys also lost Ernie Sims in the first quarter against the Saints after experiencing concussion-like symptoms. There is no word on his availability for Sunday and will likely be a game-time decision.

New York Giants: The Giants’ defensive line was out of sorts on Sunday after Chris Canty reinjured his knee against the Ravens. There is no word on his status for next Sunday. Justin Tuck was already inactive in the game due to a shoulder injury.

Philadelphia Eagles: McCoy returned to the field after missing a few weeks with a concussion, but was largely ineffective rushing the ball. With Nick Foles (hand) out, Michael Vick is expected to start.

Washington Redskins: There was some concern leading into Sunday’s game over whether or not Robert Griffin III was fully healed and prepared to comeback after only missing a week from his leg injury. Griffin not only returned, but looked as sharp as ever. However, he refrained from running the ball like he normally does.

Playoff Scenarios:

-Dallas (@Washington) clinches NFC East title with a win over Washington.

-Washington (vs. Dallas) clinches NFC East division title with a win or tie against Dallas.

-Washington clinches a playoff spot with a Chicago loss and a Minnesota loss.

-New York Giants (vs. Philadelphia) clinches a playoff spot with a win and a Dallas loss or tie and a Chicago loss and a Minnesota loss.

Week 17 Schedule:

Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants

Sunday, December 30th, 12:00 CT (FOX)

Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins

Sunday, December 30th, 7:20 CT (NBC)

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