IT’S TRUE-BLUE ENVY: Dallas Cowboys have NFL’s best fan base | America’s Team haters face the most avid, engaged, passionate and supportive fans in the league
Here at The Boys Are Back website, we knew it all along. The Dallas Cowboys have the best fans in the NFL.
The new study from Emory University is sure to turn some heads and anger Dallas Cowboys demonizers, and haters, all around the world.
The Dallas Cowboys are not only “America’s Team”, but they are also have “the best fans” in the NFL according to Mike Lewis and Manish Tripathi (at Emory Sports Marketing Analytics). The authors define “best” as “the most avid, engaged, passionate and supportive fans.” Continue reading →
EXPECT EXTRA-LONG EXTRA POINT: NFL owners approve PAT rule changes for 2015 season | Kickers moved back 15 yards | Defensive scoring opportunity created
The NFL has been tinkering with the PAT in hopes of making it a more difficult and therefore entertaining play for spectators. Continue reading →
DALLAS COWBOYS DRAFT DAY: Cowboys-Centric Coverage Closing on the 2015 NFL Draft | Day 3–Rounds 4-7 | The Boys Are Back
DALLAS COWBOYS DRAFT DAY: Cowboys-Centric Coverage Continues of the 2015 NFL Draft | Day 2–Rounds 2 & 3 | The Boys Are Back
DALLAS COWBOYS DRAFT DAY: Cowboys-Centric Coverage of the 2015 NFL Draft | The Boys Are Back
AROUND THE LEAGUE: Retired NFL Players Congress gathering in Dallas area for 2014 summit | Roger Staubach to give keynote address
From around the country, retired NFL players of varying ages and fame will congregate in Arlington (Dallas/Ft. Worth suburb) today (Friday) and Saturday in hopes that their collective voice will be heard.
HAPPY TRAILS COWBOY: Miles Austin finally roped by Cleveland Browns
IRVING, Texas – Former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin is now a member of the Cleveland Browns.
Austin agreed to terms today with the Browns, who are in need of receiver help, considering the looming suspension of top receiver Josh Gordon.
Cleveland also passed on taking a receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Browns added Nate Burleson and Andrew Hawkins, but many believed they needed more help at the position, and Cleveland hopes Austin can provide that.
Austin’s success will largely be determined by his health, which was the issue in Dallas. The Cowboys designated Austin a post-June 1 cut to free $5.5 million from the salary cap this year, after he was limited to just 11 games and 244 receiving yards in 2013.
The receiver’s recurring hamstring issues limited what Austin, who was a 1,000-yard receiver in 2009 and 2010, could do the rest of his tenure in Dallas. Austin caught 81 passes for 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2009 and 69 passes for 1,041 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010.
He played in every game in 2012, but the Cowboys admitted he was not 100 percent in all of them.
He signed a six-year, $54 million deal with the Cowboys in 2010, but he never reached the 1,000-yard mark again after that 2010 season.
Despite the decline the last few years, Austin, 29, will go down as one of the best undrafted free agents in Dallas Cowboys history. He ranks ninth in team history with 301 catches, seventh with 4,481 yards and 10th with 34 touchdowns. He also had a kickoff return for a touchdown in a playoff game at Seattle as a rookie.
He made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and 2010.
Prior to signing with the Browns, head coach Jason Garrett wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Austin returning to the Cowboys, but it was certainly not a given after the selection of fifth-round pick Devin Street. The Cowboys appeared ready to turn the page after watching the receiver fight through injuries every year toward the end of his time in Dallas.
“The economics of his situation really factored into the decision we made with him, coupled with his injuries,” Garrett said after the draft. “We’ll look at the landscape when we get done. Miles is a guy that we have great respect for as a person and as a player.”
In Cleveland, Austin will be the most experienced of the receivers available for Manziel, the celebrated Texas A&M quarterback drafted by the Browns in the first round last week.
AROUND THE NFL: Former Dallas Cowboys center Phil Costa retires
Former Dallas Cowboys center Phil Costa surprised everyone Monday by retiring from the NFL at only 26 years old.
This morning, Costa released a statement via his agent explaining his decision to retire after just signing a two-year contract last month with the Indianapolis Colts.
“Unfortunately, the day-to-day physical rigor of the NFL season has taken a toll on my body and has been a driving force behind my decision,” Costa said in his statement.
Costa, who started all 16 games in 2011 for the Cowboys, played in only three games each of the previous two years. A dislocated ankle caused him to miss the majority of the 2012 season.
Costa also thanked the Cowboys, Colts, his coaches, teammates, family, friends and the fans for all of their support throughout his career.
“As I look forward to the next chapter of my life, I will always be grateful for the opportunity to have played in the league,” Costa said.
HAPPY TRAILS TO FORMER COWBOY: Dallas DL Jarius Wynn signs with Buffalo Bills | NFL Free Agency 2014
IRVING, Texas – Another member of last year’s defensive line in Dallas will be playing with another team in 2014.
The Bills signed former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Jarius Wynn, an unrestricted free agent, to a one-year deal Tuesday.
Wynn signed with the Cowboys on Oct. 17, 2013, and made his debut with the team just three days later, helping to hold LeSean McCoy to just 55 yards on 18 carries. His best game with the Dallas Cowboys may have been his second time playing the Eagles, when he notched two tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss in the season finale.
He was one of the few linemen signed in the middle of the year to stick the rest of the way, playing a total of 10 games with the Cowboys.
Wynn’s versatility was crucial on a defensive line ravaged by injuries. He was able to play inside when needed and bump outside to end to provide a rush. He even started for Jason Hatcher against the Saints when the defensive tackle was out with a stinger.
Wynn finished with 12 tackles, a sack, three tackles for loss and six quarterback pressures during his time in Dallas. He also played in five games with the Chargers in 2013 and recorded a sack.
His production last season would suggest he’d be a possible fit to return to the Cowboys in 2014, but Buffalo scooped him up. If Wynn is active for the Bills next season, it will mark his fifth different team he’s played for since joining the league as a sixth-round pick in 2009.
Wynn joins Jason Hatcher, DeMarcus Ware, and Corvey Irvin as players who were on the Dallas defensive line at the end of the 2013 season that’ll be playing elsewhere in 2014.
AROUND THE NFC EAST: Former Eagle DeSean Jackson headed to rival Redskins
It would have been too easy and too boring for the Dallas Cowboys if DeSean Jackson had disappeared off to Oakland or Cleveland.
Instead, he’ll turn the spotlight back on Washington — which is precisely where it was for much of 2013, if you’ll remember. Jackson agreed to terms with the Redskins last night.
DeSean Jackson has never been a fan of the Cowboys. The receiver once famously declared “we gonna sting they ass’’ when he played for Philadelphia.
Jackson didn’t do a lot of stinging against the Cowboys the last three seasons. Will he have a better chance now that he’s with Washington?
It almost seemed like the inevitable conclusion to Jackson’s release from Philadelphia last week. In keeping with the NFC East’s penchant for drama, the move not only keeps him within the same division as his old team, the Eagles, but also his old nemesis, the Cowboys.
The news brings a strange story to an end, as it had only been five days since the Eagles released Jackson for no definitive reason. It was widely speculated the three-time Pro Bowler would find a new home relatively quickly, and Washington wasted no time after visiting with Jackson on Monday night.
As if the storied Cowboys-Redskins rivalry needed any more juice, it certainly has picked up a bit this offseason. Washington signed lifelong Cowboys and 2013 Pro Bowler Jason Hatcher just three days into free agency, and now the Redskins have added Jackson — a favorite target of Dallas fans during his career in Philadelphia.
In truth, Jackson’s success against the Cowboys has been lacking when compared to his impressive six-year career. He has played 11 games against Dallas, tallying 39 catches for 688 yards and just two touchdowns. That’s an average of 3.5 catches for 62.5 yards per game.
There are two obvious outliers there: Jackson torched the Cowboys for 210 yards and a touchdown on four catches in 2010, and he was also limited to just six catches for 49 yards in two games last year.
That said, the addition of one of the league’s best deep threats is an undeniable boon for Washington. The Redskins have been lacking explosiveness in the passing game for what feels like ages. In fact, Pierre Garcon’s 1,346-yard effort in 2013 was the team’s first 1,000-yard season by a receiver since 2010, and it was just the team’s fourth 1,000-yard receiving season since 2004.
Combining Garcon and Jackson is undoubtedly going to open up the passing game for Robert Griffin III, who hasn’t had a true No. 1 receiver during his brief NFL career. It should also decrease the focus on Alfred Morris and Washington’s vaunted ground game, which was already plenty successful when the Redskins didn’t have a deep threat like Jackson.
On paper, at least, this is Washington’s most intimidating offense in some time. If Griffin returns to his 2012 form, and the offensive line can keep him on his feet, the Redskins should have no problems scoring points.
Of course, the offense scored plenty last season. The bigger problem was a leaky defense — something every team in the NFC East can likely relate to. The Redskins have taken some steps toward fixing that, headlined by the addition of Hatcher.
But there’s no doubt that adding Jackson is the first truly blockbuster move an NFC East team has made this offseason. The Cowboys and Redskins had both already added Pro Bowlers to this point — but Hatcher is turning 32 and Henry Melton is coming off ACL surgery.
The Eagles made waves by trading for Darren Sproles, but he is more of a complimentary piece. The Giants have added several good-not-great players, but no bonafide stars.
The Jackson deal is sure to put the Redskins in the limelight during Jay Gruden’s first season as coach. It’s hard to imagine high expectations for a team that finished 3-13 and doesn’t possess a first-round draft pick, but that’s what it’s looking like.
Signing an All-Pro, hot button target can do that for you — especially in this division.
ANNUAL NFL OWNERS MEETING: League ownership approves new rules | NFL approves new replay process | Field-goal posts to be extended
ORLANDO, Fla. — On the third day of the NFL Annual Meeting, the league’s ownership got down to voting.
One day after approving a rule to allow referees to consult with the officiating department in New York during replay review (see below), the league came to a decision on the rest of the rule proposals on the docket. Here’s a quick summary of the measures:
- The proposal to extend the goal posts five feet taller has passed.
“It just made sense,” Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. It passed “relatively easily.”
- The “NaVorro Bowman Rule” was passed. That allows the officials to make the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play a reviewable call. This loophole was exposed when Bowman clearly recovered a ball in the NFC Championship Game last year, but the play couldn’t be under review.
- The game clock will now continue after a quarterback sack outside of two minutes.
- Multiple proposals to expand plays that can be reviewed were shot down. The Patriots had suggested allowing all plays to be reviewed. The Washington Redskins wanted personal fouls to be reviewed.
Less than 50 percent of coaches supported the measure to make all plays reviewable, according to the Competition Committee. The committee said the topic inspired a lot of debate.
- The proposal to move the kickoff to the 40-yard line was shot down. So was their idea to eliminate the training camp roster cutdown to 75 players.
- The proposal to move the extra point back to the 25-yard line failed, but the league will experiment with a new extra-point system during the preseason. Extra points in Weeks 1 and 2 of the preseason will be snapped from the 20-yard line. (Making them like a 37-yard field goal.)
- The proposal to allow an unlimited number of players on injured reserve to return to the active roster failed. Jeff Fisher of the Competition Committee said that vote wasn’t close.
No decision yet
- The abolition of overtime in the preseason was tabled until May.
- The idea to expand the practice squad from eight to ten players was also tabled. The same goes for expanding rosters for Thursday night games to 49 from 46.
- The league also put off deciding whether to allow teams to open their roof during halftime at games for weather reasons.
- The Competition Committee told the Patriots that it will look at the possibility of adding cameras to all goal lines, side lines and end lines. The NFL will discuss the possibility with its broadcast partners.
RELATED: NFL approves rule that changes the replay process
ORLANDO, Fla. — NFL owners voted to significantly change the instant replay process.
The league announced owners voted to pass Rule Proposal 9 at the 2014 NFL Annual Meeting, which says that referees can consult with the officiating department in New York during replay reviews.
This proposal always had a wide swath of support throughout the league because there is belief it will improve accuracy and speed during replay reviews. The existing NFL Officiating Command Center in New York immediately will begin to review replays after the call is challenged. By the time the referee gets to his “booth,” the command center can advise the referee on what to look for in the play. The referee ultimately makes the final choice on the play.
It’s hard to see the downside of this rule. It should prevent obvious mistakes from happening.
The league also voted to ban “roll up” blocks to the side of a player’s leg. This is a tweak of the rule that bans these blocks from behind. It should help mostly defensive players, and is a relatively minor adjustment on the previous rule.
The rest of the rules and bylaws proposals are expected to be voted on during Wednesday’s session (see above).
2014 NFL DRAFT ORDER: Official round-by-round order including the compensatory draft picks awarded by the league
The official round-by-round order for the 2014 NFL Draft, including the 32 compensatory picks awarded to 13 different teams:
1. Houston Texans
1 (33). Houston Texans
1 (65). Houston Texans
1 (101). Houston Texans
1 (141). Houston Texans
1 (177). Houston Texans
1 (216). Houston Texans
Compensatory picks cannot be traded
PHOTO: Larry Allen (Dallas, Round 2, Pick No. 46 overall, 1994)
Larry Allen is the only compensatory draft pick in the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame. He had quite a career in the NFL, starting 197 of 203 games and making 11 Pro Bowls and seven All-Pro teams. He was voted to both the NFL’s 1990s and 2000s All-Decade Teams.
A total of 32 compensatory choices in the 2014 NFL Draft have been awarded to 13 teams.
Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks. The number of picks a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four.
The 2014 NFL Draft takes place on May 8 to 10, and will be televised live on NFL Network.
Here are the teams receiving compensatory picks this year, with the round and overall number of each pick:
Atlanta Falcons: 4th round (139), 7th round (253, 255)
Baltimore Ravens: 3rd round (99), 4th round (134, 138), 5th round (175)
Cincinnati Bengals: 6th round (212), 7th round (252)
Dallas Cowboys: 7th round (248, 251, 254)
Detroit Lions: 4th round (133, 136)
Green Bay Packers: 3rd round (98), 5th round (176)
Houston Texans: 4th round (135), 6th round (211), 7th round (256)
New England Patriots: 4th round (140)
New York Giants: 5th round (174)
New York Jets: 4th round (137), 6th round (209, 210, 213)
Pittsburgh Steelers: 3rd round (97), 5th round (173), 6th round (215)
San Francisco 49ers: 3rd round (100)
St. Louis Rams: 6th round (214), 7th round (249, 250)
Compensatory free agents lost and signed by the clubs that will receive compensatory picks in 2014:
Atlanta Falcons: Lost: Brent Grimes, Luke McCown (did not qualify), Christopher Owens, Will Svitek, Vance Walker. Signed: Osi Umenyiora. Baltimore Ravens: Lost: Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Ed Reed, Cary Williams. Signed: None. Cincinnati Bengals: Lost: Josh Brown, Bruce Gradkowski, Manny Lawson, Brian Leonard (did not qualify), Pat Sims, Dan Skuta. Signed: Josh Johnson, Mike Pollak, Alex Smith. Dallas Cowboys: Lost: Victor Butler, Kenyon Coleman, Mike Jenkins, John Phillips. Signed: Justin Durant. Detroit Lions: Lost: Cliff Avril, Gosder Cherilus, Justin Durant, Drayton Florence, Sammie Lee Hill. Signed: Reggie Bush, Jason Jones, Glover Quin. Green Bay Packers: Lost: Greg Jennings, Erik Walden. Signed: None. Houston Texans: Lost: Alan Ball, Connor Barwin, James Casey, Justin Forsett, Donnie Jones, Glover Quin. Signed: Greg Jones, Shane Lechler, Ed Reed. New England Patriots: Lost: Patrick Chung, Donald Thomas, Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead. Signed: Danny Amendola, Isaac Sopoaga, Will Svitek. New York Giants: Lost: Martellus Bennett, Chase Blackburn, Domenik Hixon, Osi Umenyiora. Signed: Josh Brown, Ryan Mundy, Brandon Myers. New York Jets: Lost: Yeremiah Bell, Mike DeVito, Shonn Greene, Dustin Keller, LaRon Landry, Matt Slauson. Signed: Antwan Barnes, Mike Goodson. Pittsburgh Steelers: Lost: Keenan Lewis, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Mundy, Mike Wallace. Signed: Bruce Gradkowski. San Francisco 49ers: Lost: Ted Ginn, Dashon Goldson, Ricky Jean Francois, Isaac Sopoaga, Delanie Walker. Signed: Craig Dahl, Phil Dawson, Glenn Dorsey, Dan Skuta. St. Louis Rams: Lost: Danny Amendola, Craig Dahl, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Gibson, Robert Turner. Signed: Jared Cook, Jake Long.
NFL SALARY CAP RAISED: Good news for Dallas Cowboys as cap raised higher than expected
It’s no secret the Dallas Cowboys have one of the tightest salary-cap situations in the NFL. Some unexpected relief came from the league.
The NFL set the cap at $133 million, instead of the $126.3 million figure that was originally expected.
At $126.3 million, the Dallas Cowboys were projected to be a league-high $31 million over the cap. March 11 is the deadline for teams to slip under the cap.
While the new projection offers the Cowboys a couple million dollars of relief, it doesn’t save them from having to make tough decisions about key players.
The cap is primed to soar even higher in 2015, after money from the league’s new television deals enter the equation.
The cap rise is good news for both teams seeking cap maneuverability and players who now begin to taste the fruits tied to the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011. The structure of the CBA and the timing of the television deals sets the players up well from 2015 to 2020.
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: NFL Network and CBS will partner on TNF broadcasts in 2014
Change is on the way to “Thursday Night Football.”
It was announced Wednesday that the NFL will partner with CBS to produce and televise 16 games under the “Thursday Night Football” banner for the 2014 season.
CBS will air eight early-season games before NFL Network takes the baton for eight late-season games leading up to the playoffs. Fourteen games will be played Thursday, with two late-season games taking place Saturday.
All 16 games will be produced by CBS with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms — the network’s No. 1 announcing team — calling Thursday night games. The first eight games on CBS will be simulcast on NFL Network. The agreement is for the 2014 season with an additional year at the NFL’s option.
“NFL Network built Thursday into a night for NFL fans,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Our goal is to bring these games to more fans on broadcast television with unprecedented promotion and visibility for ‘Thursday Night Football’ on CBS.”
What does this mean? Well, “Thursday Night Football” is about to get bigger. Airing eight games in prime time on television’s top-rated network will be a ratings bonanza. Expect to see some premium matchups in those first eight weeks as the brand is established on a new platform. The CBS ratings surge should create momentum when NFL Network takes over in the season’s back end.
Many fans also will be pleased to see the return of NFL football on Saturdays, something that slipped off the grid in recent years. The only real negative on our end? This looks like the end for the Thursday night team of NFL Network’s Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock, who have done quality work for the past three seasons.
NO EXECUTIVE DECISION: Unlikely that Troy Aikman will move into Dallas Cowboys front office any time soon
IRVING, Texas – It doesn’t appear that Troy Aikman will be in the Dallas Cowboys front office any time soon.
The former Cowboys star quarterback and current television sportscaster’s interest in a front office job has been a topic lately (Super Bowl week rumor related to John Elway’s success after being hired by Denver as the Broncos General Manager), but Aikman quelled some of those notions and mentioned how Dallas would be an unlikely fit if he eventually decides to work his way into a managerial role with a team.
“I answered the question on Sunday and it’s just, ‘Oh, that’s an easy question, that’s an easy story, let’s go ask Troy about this.’ It just continues, and there’s not a story there,” Aikman said Thursday on Sportsradio 1310 and 96.7 FM The Ticket. “As it relates to Dallas, which is where everyone here in the Metroplex goes with it is, ‘Oh, OK, Dallas.’ Well that’s not going to happen in Dallas because of the structure of this organization. I think everybody knows that.”
Aikman said it’s an easy question and story to ask him about a potential move to the front office and a potential general manager job, but he said his comments on that have remained consistent the last two weeks with his thoughts the last 10 years.
“I think some people maybe hear my comments and they think, ‘Oh, well he thinks he can just step right into a GM role after having been a broadcaster like Matt Millen did,’” Aikman said. “That’s not it at all. In fact, what I have said to many people is that if it were something I wanted to pursue – and I’m not sure that it is and I’m not sure that it’s not – but if it was something I wanted to pursue, now would be the time to start preparing myself for that and get involved with an organization, start learning what has to be learned.”
Before that can happen, he said there are steps that have to be taken. First, the timing has to be right. In addition, he wants to be able to put in the amount of time it would require for him to do his job to the best of his ability.
“I don’t believe there are any shortcuts in anything in life,” Aikman said. “Then the question becomes, well, whenever the timing is right for me to do that, how old am I going to be and how much time do I want to then serve in an apprenticeship-type situation to ultimately go on and do what I’d like to do?
“There’s a lot of factors in there, it’s just, I guess where I could have maybe handled it differently is just said, ‘No, I have zero interest in it.’ But then that’s not being honest. I’ve answered the question as honestly as I could.”
He’s not sure if anything will materialize at this point with him eventually taking a front office position. But any talk of him jumping at a specific job in the near future or him being in talks with a team right now doesn’t appear likely.
With Jerry Jones as the owner, president, and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys and him not relinquishing any of those titles in the near future, and with Jones’ son, Stephen, as the team’s executive vice president, it doesn’t appear likely Aikman’s future in the front office will be in Dallas.
“It’s a little bit like the question every year is, ‘Hey, all right, do you think Jerry the owner should fire Jerry the general manager?’ How redundant is that argument?” Aikman said. “So, it’s a little bit the same way, that nothing like that would happen in Dallas.”
SUPER BOWL XLVIII RECAP: Seahawks victory has feeling of the young 1990’s Dallas Cowboys team
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — Too much of the discussion in the days leading up to this game had to do with Peyton Manning’s legacy.
Now that another NFL season has come to a close, let’s shift the focus to where it rightfully belongs.
A young, brash Seahawks team did more than beat Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII. Seattle’s 43-8 victory delivered a message to the rest of the league.
Beware. This isn’t a team catching fire late to win the title as Baltimore did last February. This isn’t the New York Giants or Green Bay Packers slipping into the playoffs on the final day and then beating the odds.
No, this is something different. It has the feel of Super Bowl XXVII in 1993 when the young, brash Dallas Cowboys burst on the scene with a 52-17 win over Buffalo.
That was the first of three Lombardi Trophies in four years for the Cowboys. It’s premature to suggest the Seahawks will enjoy that sort of success. But their dominance was sobering.
“It’s all about making history,” Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. “This was a dominant performance from top to bottom.”
Seattle has been building for this moment ever since head coach Pete Carroll arrived four years ago. The Seahawks are young, fast, and deep on defense. They have a quarterback of poise and leadership beyond his years in Russell Wilson, a hammer for a running back in Marshawn Lynch, and a refusal to accept the limitations of inexperience.
Not one player on the Seattle roster appeared in a Super Bowl before Sunday’s game. The last team to make that claim was Buffalo in ’90.
Unlike that franchise, the Seahawks came away champions.
“This is an amazing team,” Carroll said. “It started a long time ago, I’m talking four years ago. They never took a step sideways or backward to get to where they are now.
“These guys would not take anything other than winning this game. They didn’t think anything else would happen.”
It quickly became evident that nothing other than a Seattle win would be the outcome. The Seahawks defense came up with a safety 12 seconds into the game. Two plays later, on a crossing pattern to Demaryius Thomas, safety Kam Chancellor leveled the Denver receiver with a hit that registered on the Richter scale.
“All of my teammates came up to me and said that set the tone,” said Chancellor, the man who puts the boom in the defense’s Legion of Boom moniker.
Seattle controlled the ball for 14:41 of the first 18 minutes on its way to a 15-0 lead. The Seahawks later added a 69-yard interception return for touchdown by linebacker Malcolm Smith, the game’s Most Valuable Player, and opened the third quarter with an 87-yard kickoff return for touchdown by Percy Harvin.
About that time, the audience for Downton Abbey on PBS experienced a significant spike.
Injuries sidelined Harvin for all but 19 snaps during the regular season. The receiver rewarded the organization’s patience with that kickoff return and by leading the team in rushing with 45 yards on his two end-around runs.
“I was finally able to give my team something for four quarters,” Harvin said. “That meant a lot to me.”
This game was supposed to represent an intriguing clash of styles. It never did because Seattle’s No. 1 defense smothered Manning and the No. 1 offense of the Broncos.
The Seahawks forced four turnovers and held the Broncos’ high-octane offense to one meaningless touchdown once the lead ballooned to 36 points.
Yes, what happened Sunday was unexpected on several fronts. That doesn’t mean the Seahawks lacked faith. When the season got underway Wilson told his teammates, “Hey, why not us?”
“We’re not sleeping tonight,” Carroll said of the impending celebration. “We’re staying up all night.”
There will be lot of sleepless nights around the NFL in the months and years to come figuring out how to compete with this young, brash Seattle team.
SACKED FOR FIFTH TIME: Dallas Cowboys living legend Charles Haley again denied induction into NFL Hall of Fame
IRVING, Texas – Once again, Charles Haley’s been left out of the latest Hall of Fame class.
This marked the fifth year Haley, who’s the only player in NFL history with five Super Bowl rings, was a Hall of Fame finalist without getting in. Michael Strahan, Andre Reed, Walter Jones, Derrick Brooks, Aeneas Williams, Claude Humphrey and Ray Guy all were named into the Class of 2014.
Haley ranks 12th in Cowboys history with 34 sacks and had 100.5 for his career. He would have been the 13th former Cowboys player who accrued at least five years with the team to be named to the Hall of Fame.
Haley, who was the NFC Defensive Player of the Year twice in his career, joined the Cowboys in 1992 in a trade from San Francisco. Many believe Haley was the difference-maker on defense to put the team over the hump. Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin were already in place and leading a high-octane offense, but it was Haley’s presence that added a needed piece.
The converted defensive end had six sacks in his first season but played a big role in the Cowboys having the No. 1 ranked defense in the NFL in 1992. In Super Bowl XXVII, Haley made a game-changing play when he sacked Bills quarterback Jim Kelly and forced a fumble, which was recovered in midair by Jimmie Jones for a touchdown. The Cowboys eventually pulled away for a convincing 52-17 win.
Haley had four sacks in 1993 but his most memorable moment came after a Week 2 loss to Buffalo, which dropped the Cowboys to 0-2. Haley emphatically slammed his helmet through a locker room wall at Texas Stadium and voiced his anger in the Cowboys’ not having signed Emmitt Smith, who was two games into a contract dispute with Jerry Jones and the organization. Haley’s comment, “We can’t win with a rookie,” in reference to Smith’s backup Derrick Lassic, might have been the final straw as the Cowboys and Smith came to terms the next week. Smith went on to have an MVP season and the Cowboys won another Super Bowl.
The Cowboys went back to the No. 1 defense in 1994 and Haley had his first double-digit sack season with the club with 12.5, including four in the season opener in Pittsburgh.
Haley had 10.5 sacks in 1995, battling through a bad back all season. He had a sack against the Steelers in Super Bowl XXX, which helped him earn his league-best fifth Super Bowl ring.
In three Super Bowls with the Cowboys, Haley had 2.5 sacks and he had 4.5 sacks in his five Super Bowl games played
RELATED: Charles Haley won’t be included in NFL Hall of Fame Class of 2014
NEW YORK – Charles Haley’s wait continues.
The fifth time was not the charm for the former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman, who again was denied entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Derrick Brooks, Walter Jones, Andre Reed, Michael Strahan, Aeneas Williams, Ray Guy and Claude Humphrey form the Class of 2014, announced Saturday night. Brooks and Jones earned enshrinement as first-year eligible candidates, and Strahan made it after missing last year in his first year of eligibility.
Williams and Reed have waited longer, with Reed in his ninth year of eligibility and Williams in his fifth. Guy, the first punter to earn induction and only the second true specialist, and Humphrey were seniors nominees.
The seven-man class will be enshrined in Canton this summer.
The 46 selectors met for a record 8 hours, 59 minutes, with Haley’s discussion taking 25 minutes. Discussion on Tony Dungy lasted 47 minutes, the longest of the day, with Brooks taking only 10 minutes.
Haley made the cut to 10, but he, Jerome Bettis, Kevin Greene, Marvin Harrison and Will Shields were eliminated in the reduction to five. Morten Andersen, Tim Brown, Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Tony Dungy and John Lynch were eliminated from consideration in the first reduction ballot from 15 to 10.
Haley, whose final retirement came following the 1999 season, has been eligible for enshrinement for 10 years. In that time, he has watched seven teammates inducted into the Hall of Fame.
It had seemed this might be Haley’s year.
He remains the only player with five Super Bowl rings, winning two with the San Francisco 49ers and three with the Cowboys.
Haley’s teams went 153-66, including 19-6 in the postseason. Only once in 12 regular seasons did his team have a losing record. That was in 1999 after he had retired and then unretired.
His teams won 10 division titles, and he played in seven NFC Championship Games. His teams missed the playoffs only twice.
LOOKING FOR SOUTHERN COMFORT: Chips and dips instead of Super Bowl trips | The NFL’s fine line between success and failure
IRVING, Texas – Here is the downside of the needle on this record getting stuck … 8-8 … 8-8 … 8-8 … or having now gone four consecutive years without a playoff appearance; or 18 straight seasons without a Super Bowl appearance, five longer than the previous longest 13-year drought in franchise history, between the 1979 season and 1991; or now also 18 consecutive seasons without having appeared in at least an NFC Championship Game, twice as long as the previous longest drought in franchise history, between 1983 and 1991:
No matter what you do, what decisions you make, you automatically are dead wrong in the court of public opinion until proven right, especially when you’ve been such a proud and successful franchise for the majority of these 54 seasons.
Parody brings disparity
Ask Denver. The Broncos are returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in 15 seasons after going back to back in 1997-98. Miami hasn’t been back to the Super Bowl since 1984. Chicago finally returned after the 2006 season, its first appearance since the Bears won their only Super Bowl in 1985. The 49ers went back to the Super Bowl last year for the first time since 1994. Washington? Geesh, don’t even ask, 23 seasons ago. Minnesota, not since the 1976 season.
And this might be the saddest of all, Kansas City, the franchise playing in Super Bowl I, losing to the Green Bay Packers, hasn’t been back to the Super Bowl since the Chiefs won their lone Super Bowl following the 1969 season.
No, this is not meant for you to find a little southern comfort in other people’s misery, seeing that this will be yet another miserable Super Bowl Sunday for Dallas Cowboys fans, having to watch Seattle take on the Broncos at MetLife Stadium.
This is to provide you some facts to those seemingly pulling their hair out over the Cowboys promoting Rod Marinelli to defensive coordinator and hiring Scott Linehan as the pass-game coordinator/offensive play-caller, moves being panned and mocked because of this purported “dysfunction” crippling these Cowboys.
Now, this is not to say every move the Cowboys have made over these past 18 years has been right, far from it. But to just point out past failures doesn’t automatically deem every move they now make dead wrong. So, lets throw out some facts, just pure facts, as you are out shopping for chips and dip, and ordering your chicken wings for Super Sunday.
Defense brings Championship hope
Defense first, and this probably comes with less contention. The Dallas Cowboys finished dead last in total defense this 2013 season, meaning 32nd, and this is the first time in franchise history they have finished dead last defensively since that 13th-place finish in the 13-team NFL of 1960, their inaugural season, and the absolute worst finish since landing 13th out of what was then a 14-team NFL in 1963.
This, though, comes on the heels of last year’s 19th finish, which had matched the second-lowest defensive ranking since finishing 20th during the 1-15 season of 1989 – the Cowboys finishing 23rd during the 6-10 season of 2010 that got Wade Phillips fired after a 1-7 start.
Look, defense matters – a lot. Ask Seattle, right, and the Seahawks will be in big trouble if they don’t hold Denver to no more than, oh, 20 points come Sunday. And to further illustrate just how poorly the Cowboys have performed defensively over the past two seasons, think about this: From 1964 through the 1979 season, that is 16 consecutive years, the Cowboys finished in the top 10 defensively … every single season. Top 10!
This, too, is overshadowed with memories of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith et al: From 1992-1997, the Cowboys owned Top 10 defenses, and were No. 1 in 1992 and 1994.
Understood that injuries do matter, and injuries ravaged the Dallas Cowboys defense the past two seasons. I mean, come on, having to play 20 different defensive linemen in the same season while trying to figure out how to compensate for the injury losses of Anthony Spencer, Tyrone Crawford, Jay Ratliff, and Ben Bass, and then the combined four games missed by DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher, not to mention their limited ability in several more.
The pitiful run defense surely illustrates these losses, the Cowboys finishing 24th against the run after being 23rd in 2012. Those two years are the absolute worst rankings since finishing 31st against the run in 2000. And get this, the absolute worst back-to-back seasons playing the run since … 1960 and 1961, finishing last in ’60 and 12th out of 14 in ’61.
Still, face it, putting Rod Marinelli in charge is the right move, yet not sure why everyone wants to just throw Monte Kiffin to the curb. His experience won’t hurt anything having him still around, especially since he would have gotten paid for this 2014 season anyway. Might as well get what you can out of him.
Defense of the Offense
OK, now the offense, and again just the facts.
The Dallas Cowboys finished 16th offensively this season, their lowest ranking since checking in at No. 30 during the third consecutive 5-11 season of 2002 (29th and 25th were the offensive rankings those other two 5-11 years). This after finishing an impressive sixth in 2012.
In fact, since Jason Garrett took over the offense and play-calling in 2007, simultaneously with Tony Romo becoming the fulltime starting quarterback, the Cowboys offensive rankings had been 3rd, 13th (but 2nd rushing), 2nd, 7th, 11th and 6th. And a passing game that was third last season fell to 14th in 2013.
Oh, there is this argument in defense of this offense: But the running game was much better. Well, feint praise since the Cowboys would have been hard-pressed to be worse than last year, the 1,265 yards (31st) the franchise’s absolute worst since the 1,049 gained in the 12-game inaugural 1960 season. So, yes, rushing for 1,507 yards in 2013 is an improvement.
Yet, that too comes with a but: But the 1,507 rushing yards then became the second-lowest rushing total since rushing for 1,500 yards in 1990, and that got offensive coordinator David Shula fired after two seasons. In fact, since the NFL went to a 16-game season in 1978, only three times have the Cowboys rushed for fewer than 1,507 yards in a season: Of course in 2012 and 1990, along with 1,409 in 1989, again that 1-15 season.
Making the ball balance
Funny how there have been complaints all season long about the Cowboys’ inability to create offensive balance, how the Dallas Cowboys didn’t get the ball to Dez Bryant enough and how the Cowboys didn’t throw down the field enough. But then Garrett makes a change in play-caller and it’s as if he’s lost his ever-lovin’ mind.
Also, if you remember, when the Cowboys hired Bill Callahan in 2012 as the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach, it was not to call plays but to improve a struggling offensive line, which he and Frank Pollack have done wonderfully over this two-year span. And that the Cowboys have retained Callahan with at least a year left on his contract, while not allowing him to leave for a lateral move with another team, is not unprecedented.
Remember, back in 2006 Bill Parcells kept offensive line coach Tony Sparano as the run-game coordinator when Sean Payton tried to take him to New Orleans as his offensive coordinator. And you know what, that same year Miami blocked Jason Garrett, its quarterbacks coach, from going with Scott Linehan to St. Louis as his offensive coordinator.
Oh, and as for the “too many cooks in the kitchen” argument, do you remember back to 2005 when Payton was the pass-game coordinator and Sparano was the run-game coordinator, but were you ever sure if they were calling the plays or if Bill Parcells was? In fact, Parcells did the same thing in 2006 after Payton left for New Orleans, Sparano the run-game coordinator and Todd Haley the pass-game coordinator, yet it still seemed as if Bill was calling the plays.
Or as Cowboys COO Stephen Jones told Chris Mortensen of ESPN the other day, “Half the time, you couldn’t tell who was going to call plays under Bill any particular week – it could be Tony Sparano, it could be Sean Payton or it could be Bill himself,” with most of us taking Door No. 3 in that scenario.
“In this instance, Linehan and Garrett have a good history together, they’ll be on the same page, and it will still allow Jason to grow where we want him to grow as a head coach.”
The fine line between success and failure
You know the weird thing about all this? You would have thought a team with an epically poor defense and declining offense, one changing defensive coordinators and bringing in a new offensive play-caller, would have finished like 4-12 or worse. Yet the Cowboys finished 8-8, losing five of those eight games by a grand total of eight points, though that probably doesn’t make a whole lot of folks – especially the Cowboys themselves – feel any better.
It’s not always in the math
This probably won’t either. But if you combine the Dallas Cowboys offensive and defensive rankings – 16 and 32 – they total 48. Only one other team had a higher combined total, Jacksonville coming in at 58 (31 and 27). And yes, the Jags finished 4-12. The Cowboys then tied Miami for the second-highest total.
Tops? That was New Orleans at 8, fourth offensively, fourth defensively. Next Cincinnati at 13, then Seattle, Arizona and Houston (go figure) tied at 18. Denver’s combined number by the way was 20, (1st and 19th).
Again, as promised, just the facts, no compounded hysteria over past failures, or hollow criticism of these recent coaching moves because, well, that’s what you’re supposed to do with these Dallas Cowboys until …the math works in their favor!
Chips and dips instead of Super Bowl trips
So just maybe give some pause to any or all of this come tomorrow … Super Sunday … while chomping on your nachos.
NFL ALL-STAR GAME: New NFL Pro Bowl format creates drama
HONOLULU — The NFL wanted Pro Bowl drama. The NFL got Pro Bowl drama.
Alex Smith, the final pick in last Wednesday’s Pro Bowl Draft, led Team Rice on the final touchdown drive on a rain-soaked field. Then Jerry Rice and Riverboat Ron Rivera went for two and clinched a 22-21 win over Team Sanders in the first unconferenced Pro Bowl.
This was the best Pro Bowl in a long, long time.
Here’s what else we learned from Sunday’s game (Watch highlight video):
1. Even if the banter was manufactured by the 2014 Pro Bowl Draft, players after the game said they enjoyed the process and the opportunity to play with guys they never had a chance to team with before. It was a theme all week.
2. Teammates hitting each other didn’t seem like a big deal. Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson laid the wood on teammate Jamaal Charles early. Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward later flipped Josh Gordon to the ground. We never did get that teammate-on-quarterback sack, though.
3. Speaking of quarterback sacks, the defensive lines dominated. The two teams ended up with nine sacks. Early in the contest, we wondered if Sean Payton would call Team Rice’s coach (and division rival) Ron Rivera and ask him to sit Drew Brees. The Saints quarterback was sacked twice and battered often. The QB pressures were a big reason for all the turnovers.
4. J.J. Watt was a beast. Playing next to Ndamukong Suh and later Greg Hardy, Watt was unblockable. With Team Rice double-teaming Watt, Hardy picked up a sack. Don’t think management in Houston didn’t see that and ponder what Jadeveon Clowney would look like next to Watt.
5. The playful teammate trash talk was constant and likely will linger in texts and tweets the next couple days. Mike Tolbert’s SuperCam mock-celebration after his two-point conversion was emblematic. “I told Cam I was going to mess with him if I got in the end zone, so I had to,” Tolbert said laughing.
6. The lack of continuity on offense clearly hurt the product. Not only were there fewer teammate combinations due to the draft, the new format also lessened the practice time by one day. There were a multitude of miscommunications between quarterback and receiver.
7. Speaking of teammates, Drew Brees hit Jimmy Graham for an early touchdown pass. On the play, Brent Grimes (all 5-foot-10 of him) ended up on the 6-foot-7 tight end. That, friends, is a mismatch.
8. What was going through Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe’s mind as he rumbled toward the end zone after his second-quarter interception? “I was thinking of a touchdown celebration dance,” Poe said after the game. “I didn’t get there, but next time I will though.”
NEW NFL ALL-STAR GAME: DeMarco Murray’s late TD lifts Team Jerry Rice to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl win
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.
Official The Boys Are Back Rankings:
#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).
Official The Boys Are Back Rankings:
#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.
Official The Boys Are Back Rankings:
#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!
NEW NFL ALL-STAR GAME: Significant changes to the NFL Pro Bowl format designed to be fan-friendly
The NFL is starting over with the Pro Bowl.
The NFL originally announced radical changes to the format of the All-Star game back in May, eliminating the traditional AFC vs. NFC matchup in favor of a fantasy draft-like roster selection.
Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will serve as alumni captains, choosing two rosters with the help of two NFL.com fantasy users.
The NFL and NFLPA distributed a joint press release, explaining that the changes are designed to make the Pro Bowl “the ultimate fan-friendly celebration of the game.”
“As players, we wanted to keep the Pro Bowl to honor excellence in individual performance and connect with the fans in a different environment,” said NFLPA president Domonique Foxworth, who proposed the changes to the game. “To do that, I worked with a group of players to map out new ideas.”
Under the new format, players will be selected without regard to conference in voting by fans, coaches and players.
Players will be assigned to teams through the Pro Bowl Draft, which will air (tonight) on Wednesday, Jan. 22, on NFL Network.
The 2014 Pro Bowl will be held on Sunday, Jan. 26, at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
The 2014 NFL Pro Bowl will feature new uniforms from Nike
- Game within the Game: A two-minute warning will be added to the first and third quarters and the ball will change hands after each quarter. This will increase the opportunities for quarterbacks to direct “two-minute drills,” which are especially exciting for fans.
- No Kickoffs: The coin toss will determine which team is awarded possession first. The ball will be placed on the 25-yard line at the start of each quarter and after scoring plays.
- Rosters: The rosters will continue to consist of 43 players per squad. The kick return specialist will be replaced by an additional defensive back.
- Cover Two and Press Coverage: The defense will be permitted to play “cover two” and “press” coverage. In previous years, only “man” coverage was permitted, except for goal-line situations.
- Stopping of the Game Clock: Beginning at the two-minute mark of every quarter, if the offense does not gain at least one yard, the clock will stop as if the play were an incomplete pass. This rule will make the team with the ball attempt to gain yardage toward the end of each quarter.
- Game Timing: The game clock will start after an incomplete pass on the signal of the referee, except inside the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half.
- Play Clock: A 35-second/25-second play clock will be adopted instead of the typical 40-second/25-second clock.
- Sacks: The game clock will not stop on quarterback sacks outside of the final two minutes of the game. Currently, the game clock stops in these situations outside of two minutes of the second and fourth quarters.
Check out the new NFL Pro Bowl page for much more detailed information about the NFL’s All-Star game!
ROAD TO THE 2014 NFL DRAFT: Senior Bowl 2014 | NFC Championship Game should help steer 2014 Dallas Cowboys draft
Most of the Dallas Cowboys brass arrived in Mobile, Ala. for the 2014 Senior Bowl on Monday.
We’d like to think Jerry Jones and the team’s front-office personnel was watching closely when the 49ers and Seahawks slugged it out for the NFC Championship the night before.
During the game, it was pretty clear what needs to be done in the upcoming draft and even free agency.
Actually, it has been clear to everyone just by watching the Dallas Cowboys 2013 regular season.
This team needs Dee-fense. And plenty of it.
It’s not just because they were the worst in the NFL and worst in team history. Those are reasons enough to go draft defense in the first three to four rounds. This team needs a defensive tackle, a pass-rusher, an outside linebacker and a safety. And a good cornerback wouldn’t hurt either – you can never have too many.
After watching the 49ers and Seahawks it was very clear that the Cowboys have plenty of offense to win a Super Bowl. Sure, there are some natural improvements that need to be made, but that’s with any team.
The direction the offensive line is going is very positive and the running game went from a liability early in the year, to average by the middle of the season to pretty much becoming a team-strength by seasons’ end.
People love what the 49ers and Seahawks did to get young, athletic and cheap (for now) quarterbacks. But they can do that because they’ve got a defense and running game to lean on.
Russell Wilson is a good, young quarterback, but he fell into the perfect situation for him. I don’t think he could go win the game if he was on the Bucs or the Browns or even the Cowboys. Russell Wilson had the No. 1 defense in the NFL on the other side. Imagine if he had the worst.
Ask yourself if you’d rather have Wilson and the Cowboys’ team or Romo and the Seahawks’ team. Do the same with the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick. That one might actually be a little different because there are some fans who wouldn’t mind seeing Kaepernick in Dallas.
Either way, the point is that if those teams can get to the Super Bowl – or really close – with that type of offense, the Dallas Cowboys can do that as well.
Just give them some help on defense.
Those defenses are nasty. The only thing nasty about the Dallas Cowboys defense is the stats and the yards it gives up.
The front four of the 49ers or Seahawks, you’ll see brute strength that seems missing with other squads, particularly this one here in Dallas. You don’t see arms and triceps like you see with those teams and players.
That was a very physical football game and we knew it would be. Jason Pierre-Paul said something about blood being shed in the Cowboys-Giants game back in late November. But that one had nothing on this past battle between the 49ers and Seahawks, which has arguably become the best rival in football right now.
The Cowboys are going to keep all of their defensive assistants. That’s what’s coming out of Mobile this week at the 2014 Senior Bowl.
Monte Kiffin is returning for his second year, at least give him some help. You can draft defense in the first three picks, if not four or five and you’d be OK.
The only exception I could see to that is taking an offensive guard in the first round. That would be the only position to consider with that 16th or 17th pick. Guards have good value there and you’ve seen the benefits of taking Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick early and really building something from the ground up.
Dallas can get by with Ron Leary and Mackenzy Bernadeau, and maybe Brian Waters if he decides to come back. But you can’t get by with plucking guys off their couch and into the defensive-line rotation.
If Sunday’s game in Seattle showed us anything, it’s that defense really does win championships – at least conference ones. But it also showed this offense is plenty good enough to win.
COWBOYS HEADED TO HAWAII: DeMarco Murray becomes fifth Dallas Cowboy added to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl roster
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys initially had just two Pro Bowlers heading to Hawaii. Now they have five.
The latest addition is yet another first-timer as running back DeMarco Murray has been added, replacing San Francisco’s Frank Gore, who was injured in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Seahawks.
Murray makes his first Pro Bowl trip of his three-year career after enjoying his first 1,000-yard season. He rushed for 1,124 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns during the 2013 season. He also scored six of his nine touchdowns in the second half of the season.
Murray becomes the first Cowboys running back since Marion Barber in 2007 to make the Pro Bowl and just the second since Emmitt Smith’s eighth and final selection in 1999.
Murray joins a running back group of Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, and LeSean McCoy, who were all initially selected. Adrian Peterson was also picked but won’t play because of injury and Marshawn Lynch is out because of the Super Bowl. Eddie Lacy and Alfred Morris have been added as replacements for those two but Murray now replaces Gore.
Originally, the Cowboys only had two Pro Bowl selections – Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith, a pair of first-round picks who are going for the first time. Last week, Jason Hatcher was added to the roster as a replaced for Baltimore’s injured nose tackle Haloti Ngata. And on Sunday, Jason Witten made it to the Pro Bowl after Denver’s Julius Thomas had to be replaced after the Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl.
The first ever “Unconferenced” Pro Bowl will be played Jan. 26 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, airing on NBC at 6 p.m. (CST). The first-ever NFL Pro Bowl draft will be nationally-televised on NFL Network Wednesday, Jan. 22 (7 p.m. CST) as alumni captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will pick the teams.
RELATED: TE Jason Witten fourth Dallas Cowboy added to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl
MOBILE, Ala. – Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten will now be heading to his ninth career Pro Bowl.
Witten was added to the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday to replace Broncos tight end Julius Thomas, who’s now Super Bowl bound.
Wide receiver Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith were initially the only two players selected to the Pro Bowl from the Dallas Cowboys, but Jason Hatcher (and now Witten) were additions this week. Witten’s ninth Pro Bowl appearance ties him with Randy White for the fourth-most in team history, behind only Bob Lilly, Larry Allen and Mel Renfro.
Jason Witten started all 16 games this year for the Cowboys and played in all 16 games for the 10th straight season. He finished with 73 catches for 851 yards and eight touchdowns, which marked his second-highest touchdown total of his career behind only the nine he scored in 2010.
He finished the 2013 season placing fifth in catches and yards and tied for fourth in touchdowns among all tight ends around the league.
Witten made the Pro Bowl every year from 2004-2010 and made the Pro Bowl after the 2012 season, in which he recorded a career-high 110 catches. All the other three Cowboys will be going to the Pro Bowl for the first time.