Daily Archives: November 12th, 2013

BOYS BYE WEEK BUZZ: Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett doesn’t plan on return to calling plays

DIVINE INTERVENTION - Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggest changes, but not in the coaching ranks - Jason Garrett and Tony Romo

IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was emphatic this morning when asked if he could return to calling the team’s offense if he so chose.

“Absolutely,” he responded.

Despite that, Garrett echoed Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones’ message from earlier in the day that, struggles aside, the team isn’t considering a change of play caller.

“That’s not something we’re really talking about,” he said. “I just think the biggest thing we have to do is evaluate what we have done in all three phases and what’s been good, what hasn’t been good, build and emphasize the things that have been good and correct the other stuff.”

The question was bound to be asked after the Cowboys tallied just 193 yards of offense in Sunday night’s loss to the Saints. With offensive coordinator Bill Callahan serving as the unit’s play caller this season, the Cowboys are No. 19 in the NFL in yards per game.

“We don’t want to overanalyze and overreact to certain situations. We’ve done some good things on offense and we like the structure that we have in place,” he said. “We have to, as a coaching staff, simply do a better job – that’s everybody.”

Since exploding for 522 total yards in the Oct. 6 loss to Denver, the Cowboys have cracked 350 yards just twice in five games and have failed to reach 300 yards in the other three.

Jones said that the team’s struggles, both offensively and defensively, didn’t call for any major changes during the bye week.

“We’re 5-5, we’re tied for the lead in our division. We’ve got players coming back,” Jones said. “We’ve got one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League. We’re off a rough loss. That doesn’t call for major changes out here at all.”

Garrett said as much himself, although he faced more than one question about reclaiming play calling duties. With the league’s No. 4 scoring offense and No. 1 turnover differential, he said the offense needs to focus simply on execution.

“We just need to play better on offense,” he said. “The thing you got to remember is we’re among the better scoring teams in the league right now and that’s been a positive thing for our team.”

With Garrett calling plays from 2007 until 2012, the Cowboys’ offense never finished worse than No. 13 in the league, and it finished among the NFL’s 10 best offenses in four of six seasons.

He added that it’s on every member of the offensive coaching staff, from the top down, to improve whatever ails their production – particularly with a week off to closer evaluate the issues.

“Everyone’s a part of that – I’m a part of that, Coach Callahan is a part of that, every coach on the offensive staff, every player,” he said. “We just have to do a better job. We’re going to look at what we’re doing and try to do it better.”

JASON GARRETT PRESS CONFERENCE - Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett - watch video - button Cowboys Saints - 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys

Jason Garrett press conference: Preparing for the bye week (20:53)

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media as his team prepares to head into it’s bye week (Watch Video | Play Audio)

Garrett discussed:

  • Was Sunday’s game out of character or a schematic problem
  • Thoughts on young players confidence levels after the Saints defeat
  • Jeff Heath bounce back and confidence playing for J.J. Wilcox; Special Teams
  • Other than injury recovery, what else can be done during the bye week
  • After evaluation of first ten games, should he be involved more in play calling
  • Offense struggle since Denver game, why he’s not taking over playcalling
  • How much new emphasis is being put on getting Dez Bryant the football more
  • Is he satisfied with the number of targets Dez Bryant is getting
  • When going into the bye in such a shocking way, are major changes necessary
  • Decision to go into more man-coverage for the remaining games
  • Can players loose belief in coaches and system when it’s been this bad
  • Did the defense unravel when Sean Lee went out; impact on team; his takeaways
  • Who will be playing middle linebacker until Sean Lee can return
  • Are drastic scheme changes needed to give team chance to win
  • Other than takeaways, what has the defense done well
  • Which key players are due back in time for road game with New York Giants
  • DeMarcus Ware tweaking injury
  • Impact of missing Miles Austin during significant number of games; mismatch
  • How having Miles Austin the mix helps Dez Bryant and Jason Witten
  • Team in position going into last six games to accomplish what they want
  • Thoughts on leaving Romo (and other starters) in for last few minutes of Saints game
  • Concerns about the mental health of the team after close losses and Saints blowout
  • What lead to the final decision to let Romo and others starters finish game
  • Assessment of Tony Romo’s first five games compared to last five games
  • Is Tony Romo being too careful regarding deep balls and avoiding turnovers
  • Defining why Tony Romo’s completion percentage has declined
  • Sports Illustrated report that Sam Hurd distributed marijuana to 20-25 players

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DIVINE INTERVENTION: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggest changes, but not in the coaching ranks

DIVINE INTERVENTION - Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggest changes, but not in the coaching ranks - Bill Callahan and Monte Kiffin

IRVING, Texas –  While the Dallas Cowboys will have a chance to get healthy and possibly make a few adjustments during the bye week, changes in the coaching staff are not expected.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said this morning on his weekly radio show on 105.3 “The Fan” that he doesn’t anticipate any staff changes, and that includes the defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and the play-calling duties for Bill Callahan.

“I don’t know if you have much choice as to what you’re doing in the bye week,” Jones said. “We certainly want to emphasize the good things that can be done. I’m not even going to address coaching staff, as to where they’re safe or not. Obviously, here we’ve got 3-4 days this week and go into next week and we’re 5-5, we’re tied for the lead in our division. We’ve got players coming back. We’ve got one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League. We’re off a rough loss. That doesn’t call for major changes out here at all.”

Jones emphatically said “no” when asked point blank if Jason Garrett would take over for Bill Callahan in the play-calling duties.

One change Jones did say regarding the defense is the play of more man-to-man coverage with the secondary and less zone. In fact, during the some 12-minute interview, Jones made two references to playing more man.

“We need to look at what each of these guys do the best,” Jones said. “Basically, I’m talking about our corners. Can we get our corners playing more man and less zone, those are kind of things (to change) when the bye week comes along.”

Here are some other points Jones said this morning:

  • Wide receiver Miles Austin is expected to return to action against the Giants after the bye week. Jones said Austin should have a “clean bill of health” after missing six of the last eight games with a hamstring injury.
  • Speaking of hamstrings, both Sean Lee and Justin Durant will likely be out 3-4 weeks with their injuries they suffered in the Saints game.
  • Jones said losing to the Saints does not make him hit the panic button. He references close losses to the Chiefs and Broncos this year in helping him realize the Cowboys have a chance to be more than competitive against some of the NFL’s top teams.
  • With all of the injuries, Jones said the team evaluates the strength and conditioning staff to make a “comparative assessment around the league” to see how the Cowboys stack up regarding other injuries. In the past few years, Jones said the Cowboys haven’t been much different than other teams.

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RELATED – Jerry Jones says Dallas Cowboys can improve by getting Dez Bryant the ball, getting healthy, playing man coverage

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he’s glad the Cowboys are in their bye week because it gives them a chance to get guys back from injury.

He said safety J.J. Wilcox, defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, cornerback Morris Claiborne and receiver Miles Austin should be ready to go against the Giants Nov. 24.

Jones outlined a few things on radio today that the Cowboys can do during the bye to be better down the stretch.

First and foremost, he said the team needs to find a way to get the ball in the hands of receiver Dez Bryant more.

Jones said the offense has underachieved and the Cowboys should be more productive on offense which had equal responsibility in the blowout loss to the Saints last Sunday when Bryant caught just one pass for 44 yards. That lone reception didn’t come until late in the third quarter.

“We need to get (Dez Bryant) the ball more,” Jones said Tuesday on KRLD-FM. “That type of thing is a reasonable thing you can adjust. How do we get him the ball more. We need to get the ball the (running back) Lance Dunbar. He’s a play maker out there.”

Apart from getting the injured guys back, Jones said the defense can improve by allowing guys to do they do best and play more man coverage in the secondary. He said cited the zone defense as one reason Saints quarterback Drew Brees blistered the Cowboys on Sunday. He finished 34 of 41 for 392 and four touchdowns, coming eight yards shy of becoming the fifth quarterback to top the 400-yard mark against the Cowboys this season.

“It’s time to look at what the guys do the best,” Jones said. “Play a little more man, a little less zone. You need to man up more in the secondary rather than rely on zone. If you can’t get pressure and you are relying on zone that’s how we end up on the position we were in the other night.”

POSTGAME INJURY UPDATE: Sean Lee and Justin Durant expected to miss 3-4 weeks with hamstring injuries | Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints

POSTGAME INJURY UPDATE - Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints - Sean Lee and Justin Durant expected to miss 3-4 weeks with hamstring injuries

IRVING, Texas –  As banged up as this Dallas Cowboys team is right now, the bye week can’t come at a better time.

Vice President Stephen Jones said Tuesday that he is expected a lot of players back from injury, but one guy who likely won’t be included in that mix is middle linebacker Sean Lee.

The Cowboys’ leading tackler and interception leader will likely miss next week’s game against the Giants, and possible the Thanksgiving Day game with the Raiders as well.

Lee sustained a hamstring in the second quarter against the Saints Sunday night in the 49-17 loss to New Orleans.

“He’s got a hamstring issue,” Jones said on his weekly radio show on the 105.3 “The Fan” in Dallas. “To what extent, it’ll bear out here between the MRIs and his rehab. We’ll see how he progresses. I don’t think it’s going to be anything that’s a long time, but it’s probably going to be more than a week or two, and we’ll go from there.”

The Dallas Cowboys will welcome the bye week with open arms, considering how many injuries they’ve suffered in the past few weeks.

But missing Lee, will certainly be a big blow to the defense.

“He’s a great player and he’s done a real nice job for us,” defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. “But we’ve just got to plug some other guys in there and keep going. That’s the only thing you can do.”

The problem with that, however, is that Lee’s backup Justin Durant also suffered a hamstring injury in the second half, playing for Lee in the middle.

Durant starts at outside linebacker in the base 4-3 defense, but has been Lee’s backup in the middle. Once he went down, the Cowboys used Kyle Bosworth inside.

Look for the Cowboys to explore all options concerning the middle linebacker position, perhaps even using Ernie Sims or Bruce Carter inside. They could also try to find an available linebacker on the street, like they’ve done with the defensive end position.

Lee, who signed a six-year, $42 million extension back in late August, has had his share of injury issues in his career. In fact, Lee has a chance to earn as much as $51 million in this contract if he can stay relatively healthy and earn playing-time incentives.

He missed two games his rookie season in 2010 with a hamstring injury and most of a game later that year with a concussion. He also had a wrist injury in 2011 that forced him to wear a club on his hand for about a month.

Last year, Lee went on IR in late October with a toe injury that required surgery, forcing him to miss the last 10 games.

Other than Lee’s injury, the Cowboys are hopeful to get a few more starters and key players back for the Nov. 24 game with the Giants. Jason Hatcher (shoulder/neck), Morris Claiborne (hamstring), Miles Austin  (hamstring) and J.J. Wilcox (knee) are expected to return after each missing some games here in the last month.

Also, DeMarcus Ware (quad), Nick Hayden (ribs), Dez Bryant (back), DeMarco Murray (knee) and various other players have been battling through injuries that have slowed them down considerably and forced them to miss practice time.

Obviously this is the time the Cowboys can get healthy again and get the majority of their players back. But unfortunately for them, Sean Lee is not expected to be one of them.

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