The NFL wanted a better Pro Bowl. And it got it.
Criticized in recent years for players not giving full effort and for the games getting too high-scoring and too different from the regular product we see each Sunday, this year’s Pro Bowl was a different story.
Whether it was the unconferenced format, which pitted regular-season teammates against each other for the first time, or the competitive draft from alumni captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, or maybe just the threat from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last year that the players needed to pick it up or the game could be discontinued, the 2014 Pro Bowl was a lot more entertaining.
In the end, Team Rice defeated Team Sanders 22-21 with a late touchdown from DeMarco Murray with just 41 seconds to play. A two-point conversion run Carolina’s Mike Tolbert gave Team Rice the lead. A 67-yard field goal attempt by Baltimore’s Justin Tucker fell short, giving Rice the win.
Eagles QB Nick Foles was named Offensive MVP and Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson took home the Defensive MVP honors.
The Dallas Cowboys originally had only two players – Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant – voted into the game. But in the last two weeks, three players were added as alternates. The Cowboys had a total five on the field tonight.
Here’s a quick look how each player fared in the game.
Dez Bryant – Playing in his first Pro Bowl, the receiver wasn’t a huge factor for Team Sanders. He had two catches for 12 yards but did have a chance to score in the third quarter but dropped a fourth-down pass right at the goal line.
Jason Witten – For most of the game, Witten was a non-factor but he did have two catches – his only two – in the final minute of the game as Team Sanders drove for the win. Although he did start, he gave way to Cleveland’s Jordan Cameron, who ultimately caught the game-winning score late in the fourth. Witten has now played in nine Pro Bowls in his 11-year career.
Tyron Smith – The first-time Pro Bowler started for Team Rice but played the entire game at right tackle after playing the season on the left side. Smith had a false start penalty early in the game but clearly had some issues blocking Houston’s J.J. Watt and a stiff pass-rush by Team Sanders, which had four sacks and four turnovers. Smith played most of the game without much substitution.
Jason Hatcher – Also a starter for Team Rice, Hatcher had a fourth-quarter sack on Eagles QB Nick Foles on third down. Hatcher also had an offside penalty but played fairly well, coming up with a huge QB pressure in the final seconds in what could be his final game with a Cowboys helmet.
DeMarco Murray – The third tailback for Team Rice, Murray wasn’t much of a factor until the final drive. Murray caught a dump-off pass from Alex Smith and scurried in for 20-yard touchdown to pull his team within one point. A two-point conversion by Tolbert on the next play gave Team Rice the win. Murray had four carries for 25 yards and four catches for 37 yards.
DeMarco Murray scores game winning TD in 2014 NFL Pro Bowl (WATCH)
Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray scores for Team Rice with less than a minute to play, and alumni captain Jerry Rice makes the bold decision to go for the game winning 2-point conversion.
Team Jerry Rice
Team Deion Sanders
Team Jerry Rice | Team Deion Sanders
|Total First Downs||24||Total First Downs||14|
|By Rushing||7||By Rushing||4|
|By Passing||16||By Passing||10|
|By Penalty||By Penalty|
|Third Down Efficiency||6/16 – 37%||Third Down Efficiency||2/11 – 18%|
|Fourth Down Efficiency||2/4 – 50%||Fourth Down Efficiency||1/2 – 50%|
|Total Net Yards||384||Total Net Yards||285|
|Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks)||78||Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks)||56|
|Average Gain per Offensive Play||4.9||Average Gain per Offensive Play||5.1|
|Net Yards Rushing||114||Net Yards Rushing||62|
|Total Rushing Plays||20||Total Rushing Plays||17|
|Average Gain per Rushing Play||5.7||Average Gain per Rushing Play||3.6|
|Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards)||1–1||Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards)||1–3|
|Net Yards Passing||270||Net Yards Passing||223|
|Times Sacked (Number-Yards)||4 – 21||Times Sacked (Number-Yards)||5 – 41|
|Gross Yards Passing||291||Gross Yards Passing||264|
|Pass Comp-Att-Int||26 – 54 – 4||Pass Comp-Att-Int||20 – 34 – 2|
|Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks)||4.7||Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks)||5.7|
|Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks)||0 – 0 – 0||Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks)||0 – 0 – 0|
|Punts (Number-Average)||4 – 49.0||Punts (Number-Average)||5 – 49.2|
|Net Punting Average||47.0||Net Punting Average||38.0|
|FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked||0 – 0||FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked||0 – 0|
|Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs)||56||Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs)||109|
|Punt Returns (Number-Yards)||5 – 56||Punt Returns (Number-Yards)||3 – 8|
|Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards)||0 – 0||Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards)||0 – 0|
|Interception Returns (Number-Yards)||2 – 0||Interception Returns (Number-Yards)||4 – 101|
|Penalties (Number-Yards)||4 – 20||Penalties (Number-Yards)||2 – 10|
|Fumbles (Number-Lost)||2 – 1||Fumbles (Number-Lost)||3 – 1|
|Kickoff Returns||0||Kickoff Returns||0|
|Fumble Returns||0||Fumble Returns||0|
|Punt Returns||0||Punt Returns||0|
|Extra Points (Made-Attempted)||3 – 3||Extra Points (Made-Attempted)||3 – 3|
|Kicking (Made-Attempted)||2 – 2||Kicking (Made-Attempted)||3 – 3|
|Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted)||1 – 1||Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0|
|Field Goals (Made-Attempted)||0 – 1||Field Goals (Made-Attempted)||0 – 2|
|Red Zone Efficiency||2/4 – 50%||Red Zone Efficiency||2/3 – 66%|
|Goal To Go Efficiency||2/3 – 66%||Goal To Go Efficiency||1/2 – 50%|
|Final Score||22||Final Score||21|
|Time of Possession||32:47||Time of Possession||27:13|
NFL Pro Bowl 2014
ROAD TO THE 2014 NFL DRAFT: Dallas Cowboys 2014 Mock Draft 1.0 | Analyzing the Dallas Cowboys position
The 2014 NFL Draft order is not yet official. Selections Nos. 21-32 are determined by the results of the playoffs. A coin flip between the Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys will determine picks No. 16 and No. 17. Please note, the Ravens are penciled in to draft a wide receiver. If that works out, It could actually benefit the Dallas Cowboys (financially) to pick below them.
How might the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft shake out? The debate starts right at the top with several prospects in contention to become the first player selected on May 8 at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Let’s take a stab at projecting the first round.
Let’s run through this particular NFL Mock Draft (expect a variety of mock drafts from reputable sources in the coming months).
My contention, shared with many others, is that this should be remembered as the Dallas Cowboys Trenches Draft. Overall, the Dallas Cowboys have numerous weapons offensively in the key “” positions …. anchored by Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray, returner Dwayne Harris, clutch Dan Bailey, and emerging players such as Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Gavin Escobar, and speedy Lance Dunbar showing promise. Sure, an argument could be made that the Cowboys need depth at running back and possibly another wide receiver. I’m ok with a lower round back or receiver being taken if the staff is confident enough to pull that trigger. Personally, I believe the ‘boys have plenty of weapons offensively … and if properly coordinated should continue to be a Top 10 ranked unit in the NFL.
If I’m sitting in the Dallas Cowboys war room on May 8, 2014 and the top ranked offensive linemen (guard) falls into my lap, I’m likely drafting him. In that scenario, I spend the rest of the 2014 NFL Draft on the defense. My reasoning is this. If the Cowboys have a dominate young offensive line, the defense will also benefit from extended drives and less pressure because the Dallas offense is scoring and building leads. If that standout, difference-making guard is sitting there … he’s mine. He’s suiting up at right guard with Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Ronald Leary, and redemption seeking Doug Free. Next draft, I’m placing a promising right tackle is on my wish list to compete against Free and push backups Jeremy Parnell and Darrion Weems
The overwhelming flaw in the Dallas Cowboys roster is on the defense, particularly along the front seven. That issue has been beaten to death, so let’s move on and take a look at the most glaring needs.
Defensive tackles, defensive ends, linebackers and a Kiffin prototype safety.
If the draft plays out as illustrated above, let’s get in the head of Jerry Jones and cover the options. Check out the #17 picks predicted in this mock draft:
Two analysts predict the Dallas Cowboys will select FS Calvin Pryor, while the other two are split between DE Kony Ealy and S Ha Ha Clinton Dix. Let’s get familiar with each player:
CALVIN PRYOR | FS | LOUISVILLE | 6’ 2” | 208 lbs
Calvin Pryor might be the most physical football player in the entire draft. Against the run, he is very quick to diagnose and he explodes to the alley. He takes correct angles and he doesn’t need to gear down before securing the tackle. He uncoils his hips on contact and he’s produced several impressive hits this season. Against the pass, he has the instincts and ball skills to play over the top, and he has enough speed/agility to match up in man coverage. He’s a complete safety.
#29 Overall | #2 Position (behind Clinton-Dix #15 Overall | #1 Position)
Perceived value: Predicted to fall to #22 (Eagles) by two analysts. Could the Cowboys trade down a few spots to #21 and still pick him up? If so, that could translate into ammunition in later rounds to move up or pick up additional talent.
KONY EALY | DE | MISSOURI | 6’ 5” | 275 lbs.
Kony Ealy is a versatile, athletic player with strong production (9.5 sacks, 14.5 TFL, three FF in 2013). He lines up all along the defensive line and will also stand up at times on the outside. Against the run, he uses his quickness to penetrate and is very disruptive. He flashes the ability to violently stack and shed blocks, but there are other times when he gets washed down the line of scrimmage. As a pass rusher, he creates pressure with a slap/swim move as well as a club/rip move. When he’s lined up on the outside, he shows the ability to convert speed to power. He has the athleticism to drop in coverage and might be best suited as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
The top DE in the 2013 NFL Draft is widely believed to be Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina. Many think he’ll be the top overall pick (Texans) … or as low as #4 (Browns).
#11 Overall | #2 Position (behind Clowney #2 Overall | #1 Position)
Perceived value: Predicted to fall to #27 (Saints) or #31 (Broncos) by two analyst and slide completely out of the first round by the other. Could the Cowboys trade down a few spots to #26 and still pick him up? That would be reminiscent of last years move to pickup Frederick at the bottom of the first round and get the extra 3rd round draft pick (used to draft WR Williams). As of this date, its hard to believe Dallas would be targeting Ealy as their first overall pick.
HA HA CLINTON-DIX | S | ALABAMA | 6’ 1” | 208 lbs.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has the versatility to play the high or low safety. He has the physicality to be a box run defender and the athleticism to roam the deep middle. He’s picked off a total of seven passes during the last two seasons. His ability to cover athletic tight ends will be a huge asset at the next level.
Clinton-Dix is the top ranked safety in this years draft.
#15 Overall | #1 Position
Perceived value: In this mock draft, he’s predicted to fall to #21 (Packers) or #11 (Titans) or #15 (Steelers) by the other three analysts. If this is Kiffin’s guy, should the Cowboys move up to #10 or let fate decide if he falls into their laps?
What is your opinion? Comments always welcome!