The season is over and it’s time to think about a few things. For example, is Miles Austin earning his money? Is it time for Felix Jones, who’s now a free agent, to find a new team? What do the Cowboys need to stop the run in 2013? And finally, should Dallas keep cornerback Mike Jenkins?
1. In 2010, Miles Austin signed a seven-year $57.1 million contract. Austin’s deal meant a few things: He moved into an elite level in regards with his contract and was to become the No. 1 receiver on the Cowboys. After signing that deal, Dez Bryant surpassed him as a bigger threat, Austin has had just one 1,000 yard season, 2010, he fell 57 yards short of it in 2012 and his health continues to be a question. He failed to finish the game against Washington on Sunday night because of a high-ankle sprain. He’s endured hamstring issues the last two seasons. Austin is scheduled to earn $6.7 million in 2013 and it raises a question: Is Austin earning his money? I doubt if the Cowboys are going to release Austin because no matter how good Bryant is, there is still an unpredictability about him away from the field. Austin is a good player but the team needs more from him considering the money he’s making.
2. Felix Jones won’t return in 2013 but he did finish the final game of the season with 24 yards on five carries. Jones hit holes with a burst and seemed to run with little limitations. He’s battled injuries to both knees and he probably should have stayed on the bench. But he displayed a toughness that was necessary from the running back position. Jones was put in a bad situation by the Cowboys. He was drafted as a backup to then-starter Marion Barber. When Barber’s health started to betray him, the Cowboys asked Jones to become a starter but his own health failed him too. It’s time for Jones, who becomes a free agent, to find a new team and for the Cowboys to stop drafting players to become backups. If the Cowboys draft a running back this spring, it should be designed to give competition to DeMarco Murray. If Murray is better than the new back, fine, keep the job. Life for a NFL running back is dangerous. One week he’s healthy, the next he’s not and you need to have quality ones on the depth chart. Jones is an average running back, but not starters material and when it was time for him to take over for an injured Murray and Barber, he couldn’t do the job on a consistent basis.
3. Want to know why the Cowboys failed to stop the run in 2012? They lost of four players that clogged the middle of the field. Jay Ratliff (injury), Josh Brent (suspension), Sean Lee (injury) and Bruce Carter (injury) were the force up the gut for the Cowboys. When the Cowboys didn’t have Ratliff at the start of the season, the club still had Brent a solid run stopper. But when Brent was lost, Sean Lissemore was moved from defensive end to nose tackle. The Cowboys also moved Robert Callaway and signed Brian Schaefering to help inside. Lee and Carter replacements at inside linebacker were Dan Connor, Ernie Sims and at times Alex Albright. The backups failed to produce for the Cowboys as evident by the run defense allowing at least 100 yards in six of the last seven weeks of the season. Moving forward the Cowboys need to draft or sign another inside linebacker in free agency who can provide depth. The Cowboys allowed 274 rushing yards in the regular season finale and gave up at least 150 rushing yards twice and 125 or more yards five times. It’s hard to win games when that happens regularly.
4. The Cowboys have 16 unrestricted free agents and one of them is a former first-round pick, cornerback Mike Jenkins. It seems the Cowboys were never quite happy with Jenkins the entire offseason. He didn’t rehab his surgically repaired shoulder in Dallas, instead doing it in Florida. Jenkins didn’t attend the voluntary workouts, although he was there for the mandatory sessions. But as is always the case in the NFL, injuries dictate a lot of things. Jenkins saw playing time, especially when slot corner Orlando Scandrick went down with a hand injury. Jenkins even played some at safety and on special teams. It appears Jenkins may not return in 2013, leaving the Cowboys looking for a fourth corner in free agency or the draft. "Do I want to come back?" Jenkins asked. "I’ve grown attached, I’ve been here for five years, I’ve grown attached to everybody here. It’s hard to just get up and leave and not want to come back. At the same time ,you want to go somewhere and have a fair opportunity and I guess go on from there."
HARSH REALITY OF 8-8: Jerry Jones is looking for answers; truthful advisers key to decision-making process
When those final seconds ticked off the clock at FedEx Field, the harsh reality was that the 2012 season had come to an end. All those goals and dreams were now replaced with the thoughts of what caused the team to be in the situation that they are currently in, out of the playoffs for the second straight season. In this business, you are always looking for answers and the minute that searching for those answers stops, you are in trouble. It was a season that started with so much promise in New York but ended with a thud in our nation’s capital and now the process to figure out why starts.
As an organization you have to be truthful with the evaluation of what was successful and what you can build from but you also have to take a look at the decisions you made where you failed. I spent six years of my life working for Jerry Jones in his personnel department and there are still times even today where I felt like we didn’t help him. This general manager is relying on his coaches and scouts to provide him the best possible information to make critical choices.
In listening to him speak on Wednesday, it is very clear that his frustration level is very high right now. I have experienced that level myself and rightfully so. It is truly a bottom line business and it always will be. As an owner he does make a huge investment in the product that is on the field but as the general manager he is also responsible for that roster which is a unique situation but to a fault he is too good of a listener. He wants to hear what people he trusts has to say before he makes a decision.
My experience in this organization was that after the season, the general manager, coaches and head of the scouting department would meet and discuss the roster from top to bottom. Several days were spent reviewing players and how not only they played during the season but where they fit into next year’s plans. I always found these meetings interesting because this is where I felt like we let the general manager down. We were a 5 -11 team for three straight seasons but listening to the staff talk in this meeting, I swore we were 11 – 5.
When you misevaluate your team, you have no shot, that is reality. There are players on this team that just didn’t play well enough and the general manager wants answers why. Jerry Jones is not foolish enough to believe that injuries didn’t rob his team of some opportunities to maybe win this division outright before they went to Washington that night but he also knows everyone in this league has injuries this time of the year.
As these next few days will be spent with the coaches submitting their written and verbal reports to the front office about these players and putting that part of the evaluation to bed. Jones will then focus on the other issues he has in his mind about fundamental questions or changes that he would like to see moving forward. These meetings are generally with Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett going deeper into questions about the staff and is his expectations being met with the current group.
There has been much rumor and speculation that the club was looking to hire an offensive coordinator such as a Norv Turner to come in a coordinate the offense. There has been an insistence by Garrett to continue to call the plays for this offense which is a thought that was shared by Jones but what he has seen throughout this season is there a now a change in that thinking? This is the meeting where Jones will have to get the majority of his questions answered. He will listen to the coaches about what they feel about the players but this meeting with Jason and Stephen will be the one that gives him the ideas that he has going forward because listening to him talk, there are fundamental questions that he has in his mind and as the general manager, it’s his responsibility to ask and if he doesn’t get the answers he likes, then you will see change, how big? That’s soon to be determined.
Jerry Jones did not sound like a man that was willing to just sit here and let things run its course and hope for the best. There has to be a clear plan and focus on what needs to be done because there are going to be some decisions that are going to have to be made about this roster and potentially this coaching staff. Jones spoke of an uncomfortable feeling for the next several months at Valley Ranch and to be honest, that is not a bad thing. There needs to be a focus and a purpose going forward here but there also needs to be a truthful evaluation of what the positive points are but more importantly what is not. The next couple of weeks will shape your plans going forward when the off season has begun.
RELATED: The future of Tony Romo and offseason priorities
Football analyst Bryan Broaddus discusses pressing questions for the Dallas Cowboys as the enter the offseason … the future of quarterback Tony Romo and offseason priorities.
If you’re the GM of this team, are you trying to evaluate Tony Romo in terms of possibly replacing him, or do you learn towards the side of giving him more help?
Broaddus: I am trying to get him help. I know that might not be the most popular answer and I can understand why people are mad at him but if that is the case, you haven’t watched the whole season. I am trying to develop more weapons on the outside, I am trying to build a better offensive line so he is not running for his life every other pass. I am trying to find a way to get another back behind DeMarco Murray so when he gets hurt for six games that the offense can still run the ball. Tony Romo made some poor decisions against the Redskins but give them credit too for forcing him into some of those decisions. I have been with this team when it didn’t have a quarterback and that situation got a lot of men fired. We were not ready in 2000 when Troy Aikman moved on to the broadcast booth, with that being said, I am looking very hard at this draft and working to try and find a quarterback that can step in when that time comes but until then, I am finding him help.
As we stand right now, can you give us a position on this team that should be the highest priority to change next year?
Broaddus: I know that everyone is yelling for offensive linemen and I understand your concern but pull out you depth chart and talk to me about this defensive line. It’s the one position that has the most age to it. With age, you have players that breakdown and we are starting to see that now. You lost an outstanding player when Josh Brent’s life changed forever and he was a young guy but he is now gone. Look at Kenyon Coleman, Marcus Spears, Jay Ratliff even include Jason Hatcher. Veteran guys with wear and tear on their bodies. Behind those guys are Tyrone Crawford, Sean Lissemore and Rob Callaway who was called up from the practice squad after the accident. Crawford has a chance to develop and I have always liked Lissemore as a backup end and role player but you saw what happened when he had to play a ton of snaps. Would this defense be better if Sean Lee and Bruce Carter had bigger, younger bodies in front of them allowing them to run and make plays? I would think so. There are issues with the offensive line and I am willing to do something about that but again, look at this defensive line going forward.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wanted fans to know "I’m very upset, very irritated" after the Cowboys’ 8-8 season, gave a wholehearted endorsement of quarterback Tony Romo, but "I can assure our fans it’s going to be very uncomfortable from my standpoint, it’s going to be very uncomfortable over the next few weeks and months at Valley Ranch."
Jones addressed the Cowboys’ situation on KRLD/105.3 FM The Fan on Wednesday morning during his weekly show. He refused to address two hot topics: Who will be the Cowboys’ play-caller and the status of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
"We’re not having a meeting like that this morning. I haven’t even had a meeting," Jones said, but said that he will have that meeting in evaluating consecutive 8-8 seasons and losing back-to-back finales with the playoffs at stake.
“I’m going to spend a lot of time visiting with people outside of the organization that I have a lot of confidence in that will help us evaluate how to do the things that I know what our fans want to do, and that’s not be sitting here at .500,” Jones said. “There are a lot of teams that haven’t been at .500, but nobody hasn’t been at .500 and spent as much cash as I’m spending.”
On Romo, he said, "“Tony is a tremendous asset and he’s an asset that is going to be with the Dallas Cowboys for, as far as I am concerned, a long time." But asked if it should be inferred he would extend Romo’s contract, Jones said, "You shouldn’t infer anything, I’m just saying what I’m saying."
His one theme was that "we need to look at the fundamental things" and spend more time on "how we line up," on blocking and tackling. Jones mentioned Garrett and Romo had been together six years, but indicated he wanted to change fundamentals and not focus on schemes.
Jones didn’t mince words on changing things: "I can tell you change is necessary at 8-8. We’re going to have changes."
You can listen to Jones’ comments on KRLD here, or click on the button below:
If you’re a regular visitor to The Boys Are Back blog, please disregard this post. My son and I play a Pro Pick ‘Em game on Yahoo! Sports and it’s time to rub a few things in his face! haha
Here is a screenshot of our Pro Pick ‘Em 2012-2013 Regular Season Overview. As you can see, it was another ass kicking … very similar to the 2011-2012 ass kicking you received last year! I thought you would ‘insist’ on me posting this public record … so that we can relish it for many years to come! I’m trying to be humble, but it’s hard to do when you’re NUMBER 1 … the big cheese, the top dog … and the master of all I survey! As you can see, I waxed your butt by 307 points … and also dominated the W-L column. That’s a 65.88 percent winning percentage. You had the 54.90 percent winning percentage … which is cute. So damn cute. If you want, go ahead and print out a copy of this. It will look great on your refrigerator!
I knew you’d want to look at the weekly breakdown, so click on the image above to bring it to life … you know, make it larger … super-size it! Pay particularly close attention to the last seven weeks … and note the nice 7-game winning streak! Think of this as the 7-Eleven year … I won 7 in a row, Eleven overall. You did have those 3 wins … in week 3, 8, and 10. Not bad for a little feller! Also note that I had four weeks over 100 points, 116 being the highest points scored this season! I liked your 90 in week #8. Next year, go ahead and shoot for those 100’s! They really add up!!!
It would be wrong for me not to point out this week 7 spanking! I, your dad, had the best week recorded in 2012 in our group … picking 12 winners. None of us got the elusive undefeated week … but, I’ll go ahead and knock out a few of those next season.
Well. It’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed it, once again. The new game starts in August … so that gives you a few weeks and months to think about this one! I’ll bring it up from time to time … because I’m sure you’ll want to be reminded …
WHO’S YO DADDY?