2014-2015 GAME 4 RECAP: New Orleans vs. Dallas | Dez delivers “We Dat” dagger | Cowboys rout Rob Ryan’s Saints, 38-17 | Gameday videos | NFL Analysis
PHOTO — Dez Bryant wasn’t the Dallas Cowboys’ primary target. Entering the fourth quarter, he only had two catches for 26 yards.
But he delivered the final blow with less than four minutes remaining, catching an 18-yard touchdown on third-and-6.
“Whenever you get the opportunity, you got to take advantage of it,” Bryant said. “That’s exactly what happened. I put the dagger. Boom.”
Bryant was so pleased with Dallas’ 38-17 victory over New Orleans that he ran to the Cowboys locker room yelling, “We Dat!” Bryant was taking a shot at Saints fans and their popular cheer, “Who Dat?”
GAME RECAP – Dallas Cowboys rout Rob Ryan’s Saints, 38-17
CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Monte Kiffin’s role has changed, but the Dallas Cowboys defense is in good hands | 2014 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff
Monte Kiffin doesn’t hold the title of Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator anymore, but he’s as fired up as ever. Just ask him.
“I’m really excited. I’m really fired up,” Kiffin said. “I’m not down one bit. I’m really not. I can’t coach that way. I wouldn’t stay here. If I didn’t feel right, if I knew I wasn’t going to contribute, and it wasn’t going to be a good situation, I promise you I would have moved on. I like it here. I like the head coach. But Rod Marinelli is the guy.
Kiffin was hired a little over a year ago to oversee the team’s transition from the 3-4 to the Tampa Two 4-3 style (commonly referred to as the Texas-2 Defense on this site).
INSIDE THE 2014 PLAYBOOK: Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan sees strength in running | More deep shots downfield will stretch defenses
Scott Linehan is known for directing pass-heavy offenses. During his previous five seasons as Detroit’s offensive coordinator, no team threw the ball more. Over those 80 games, the Lions averaged 40.7 pass attempts per game, four more than the Dallas Cowboys averaged during that time.
So, it was somewhat surprising to hear the new Dallas Cowboys offensive play-caller talking on the radio about how Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray and the Dallas running game would be the team’s strength this season.
“Things that were done last year in the running game with DeMarco, the running style that was created here is really a good fit,” Linehan said recently on 105.3 The Fan. “That’s going to be our strength, being able to lean on that running game a little bit more than the past.
“Obviously, with this offensive line, this is going to be something that’s going to help our passing game. The looks that Dez [Bryant] started to get as the year went on, people started giving him the attention that Calvin [Johnson] and Randy Moss would get as far as getting those double coverage’s. You need to have those other facets of your offense as far as your running game.”
Linehan also mentioned how an increased emphasis on running the ball could lead to the Cowboys using a fullback more often than they did in 2013.
Four-year veteran Tyler Clutts is the only fullback on Dallas’ current roster. LSU fullback J.C. Copeland was one of 24 undrafted free agents signed Tuesday by the Cowboys. Copeland was considered one of the top blocking fullbacks in college football.
“The No. 1 goal, and I told Jason [Garrett] this when I came here, is to keep a lot of things the same,” Linehan said. “It’s a lot easier for the players to not have to change how they call things. To the naked eye, they’ll be similar.
“I just want to be an asset and bring some ideas that maybe haven’t been implemented that I can add to current things that were done well in the systems I’ve been around.
“Jason and I have a good background. … There are a lot of similarities. It’s just the language. I just basically made the commitment to transfer over what I’ve called things, the way people call things to keep it consistent for the players so they can step on the field and be ready to go from the get-go of OTAs.”
Historically, the Dallas Cowboys’ new offensive play-caller has never been afraid to stretch a defense by taking deep shots downfield.
He did it with Calvin Johnson and Randy Moss. Expect him to do the same with Dez Bryant in Dallas.
“That’s a big part of what I grew up in or believe in,” Linehan recently said. “It’s going to be our philosophy to do those kinds of things maybe a little more. I think we have the personnel for it, for sure. It’s a way to get people backed up a little bit and also create big plays.
“Everybody says it’s a low percentage play. Depending on the look, it’s a high percentage play, as long as you got weapons on the outside part of the field. I really believe we have that. We also have some big targets with our tight ends. Having the talent, the speed and the length we have at our skill positions I think it’s something you got to implement, and that really helps open up things for your running game as well.”
Going deep wasn’t a large part of the Dallas Cowboys offensive attack in 2013. Tony Romo ranked 17th in the NFL last season in pass attempts of 21 or more air yards.
“One of the most intriguing things for me coming here was we got some great weapons on offense,” Linehan said. “Obviously we’ve built a heck of an offensive line. Tony’s a proven player that I’ve always been a big fan of throughout his career. We’ve got a pretty decent receiver [Bryant] and a pretty decent tight end [Jason Witten]. Those guys are pretty good.”
Williams played in all 16 games, starting eight as the team’s No. 2 receiver last season. The third-round pick caught 44 passes for 736 yards and five touchdowns. Escobar, a second-round pick, was used sparingly, catching nine passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns from the tight end position.
“The Escobar kid … is a guy that’s kind of somewhat untapped at this point,” Linehan said. “It’s not because he doesn’t have the ability to do it. We really liked him [in Detroit] last year coming out in the draft. I followed him when he came here. Now that I’m working with him, I’m really excited to see what he can do for us, too
SMARTIN’ MARTIN OVER MANZIEL: Dallas Cowboys season ticket holders conference call with Stephen Jones | Team commitment to Tony Romo
It’s been five days since the Dallas Cowboys chose to pass on Johnny Manziel and draft Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin, but it’s still a topic among Cowboys fans.
Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones was asked about the move today during a conference call (see below) with Dallas Cowboys season ticket holders.
“We just felt like at the end of the day, as talented as he was, and we had him high on our board in the first round, but we have a quarterback, a great one, in place in Tony Romo,” Jones said. “We had enough confidence to guarantee him almost $50 million on an almost $20 million extension. And that extension starts this year. We really made the ultimate decision, Jerry [Jones] did, that it was in our best interest to put players around Tony to make him even better and give him a shot to go win a Super Bowl, which is what everybody’s goal is in this organization. We certainly felt like we did that in Zack Martin.”
Jones views Manziel as an immediate starter in the NFL, adding that he doesn’t think the Heisman Trophy winner has the patients that Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers displayed, sitting behind Brett Favre for three years before becoming the Packers’ full-time starter.
Jones compared passing on Manziel to the 1998 draft when the Cowboys passed on Randy Moss. Nineteen other teams also passed on the seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, but the Cowboys are the team that’s remembered most.
“I’m sure Johnny Manziel is going to have a great career,” Jones said. “We wish him nothing but the best, but there’s no doubt in my mind, we made the very best decision we could for the Cowboys in terms of what is going to help us get to a Super Bowl the soonest.”
RELATED: Tony Romo ‘ready to take the next big step’
Tony Romo has been throwing at Valley Ranch during voluntary workouts. He’s also on schedule to take part in organized team activities this month.
During the conference call with season ticket holders (see below), Dallas Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said he’s confident that Romo will be fully healed by the start of the season.
“He’s actually progressing great,” Jones said. “He’s on schedule, if not ahead of schedule. He’s throwing the ball around. We think he not only will he be ready for opening week, he’ll start up at training camp and be ready to go.
“He’s obviously a tremendous competitor and in our mind, he kept us in it all season long with a defense that was obviously depleted with injuries, and he had us playing to win the NFC East in the last game of the year. Had he been playing in that game, I think that game may have gone a different direction. We’re certainly fired up about him.”
“We got a great quarterback in Tony Romo, who I think is ready to take the next big step,” Jones said. “Get him hot and get us in the playoffs and anything can happen.”
Dallas Cowboys Season Ticket Holders Conference Call
Season Ticket Holders Conference Call with VP Stephen Jones | 57:49 | Every year Dallas Cowboys season ticket holders get the opportunity to join in on a conference call with a Cowboys coach or executive. Listen in as they had a chance to sit down with Cowboys VP/COO/Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones just shortly after the Dallas Cowboys 2014 NFL Draft.
POST-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE: DeMarcus Lawrence will help Dallas Cowboys bolster defensive trenches | Secret Call from War Room | 2nd round NFL Draft 2014
IRVING — A Dallas Cowboys team that patiently sat and let talent come to them to open the 2014 NFL Draft took a much different approach on the second night.
While the selection of guard Zack Martin in the first round was hailed as a sound approach, it increased the urgency to come out of Friday night’s proceedings with a defensive lineman who could make an immediate impact.
The Dallas Cowboys wasted no time addressing what owner Jerry Jones called an acute need. The team jumped from the middle of the second round to take Boise State defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence at No. 34.
“This was a need pick,” Jones said. “The need to have a player that either could put some pressure on the outside or a unique complement, give us two players that have to be blocked.
“He was the only one left on the board we saw that could draw two blocks. The question, in my mind, was just how much you pay for it.”
The team traded its second- and third-round picks (Nos. 47 and 78) to Washington to jump up 13 spots to select Lawrence. Washington responded by taking Stanford linebacker Trent Murphy and Nebraska guard Spencer Long with the two picks.
The Cowboys could have held those picks and had their choice of defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan or left defensive ends Kony Ealy or Scott Crichton in the third round. Defensive tackle Will Sutton and defensive end Kareem Martin were still available in the third round after Long was taken by Washington.
All of those players visited Valley Ranch and would have addressed the team’s defensive line deficiencies.
But none of those players line up at right defensive end. The Dallas Cowboys had Lawrence rated as the third-best pass rushing end in this draft behind Jadeveon Clowney and Anthony Barr. They gave him a first-round grade as a pass rusher and a high second-round grade overall.
That’s why they were willing to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, a price chief operating officer Stephen Jones concedes is higher than the draft value chart states.
“We really like him,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s a right end candidate for us. There are only a handful of right end guys in this draft. We felt like we needed to come up with an impact player in the front seven in this draft, and those impact players are high. They are the first- and second-round players.
“He’s got very good pass rush ability. He has a quick get-off. He can bend. He shows that he can get after the quarterback and make plays when you combine his sacks and tackles for loss. He’s just a very productive player over a two-year career over there in Boise.”
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is an advocate. The Dallas Cowboys need him to provide the edge rush that was lacking last season.
“What we’re looking for is somebody that has first and foremost natural pass rushing instinct,” Jerry Jones said. “Not necessarily speed. Speed alone doesn’t get it. It’s got to be somebody that has a knack of bending, maybe a way a couple of techniques.
“Rod is high on this guy. Real high on this guy.”
Jones notes the irony of replacing one DeMarcus (Ware) with another. Lawrence isn’t as fast as Ware. But he’s stronger.
“It’s unfair to compare players,” Garrett said. “That’s not what we’re in the business of doing. We want to choose players who are our kinds of guys.
“He was the guy on the board who best did that for us. This was a way to improve in the front seven.”
No one expects Lawrence to come in and duplicate the kind of production Ware gave the Cowboys before his release this off-season. But Lawrence knows the comparisons are inevitable.
“I know it’s some big shoes to fill, but I’m going to work my butt off,” Lawrence said. “I’m going to do all I can to become the best and fill their shoes.
“I’m my own Demarcus. I don’t like this trying to be nobody else. I’m going to be me.
“I’m going to do it well.”
Courtesy: David Moore | DMN staff
IN THE KNOW
DeMarcus Lawrence | Position: Defensive end | College: Boise State
Pick: No. 34 overall (second pick in the second round) | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 251
Notable: Lawrence, one of the Dallas Cowboys predraft visitors, is an exceptional athlete who projects to be a right defensive end, replacing seven-time Pro Bowler DeMarcus Ware. In two seasons at Boise State, Lawrence recorded 20 sacks and 34 tackles for loss. Following high school, he played one season at Butler Community College, where he finished with 12 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. The Cowboys had Lawrence ranked as the third pass rusher on the their board, Jerry Jones said.
Quote: Lawrence on filling DeMarcus Ware’s shoes: “I know it’s some big shoes to fill, but I’m going to work my butt off and give it my all. I’m going to do all I can to become the best and fill those shoes.”
Courtesy: Jon Machota | DMN staff
Related Videos …
2nd/3rd Round Post-Draft Press Conference | 16:45 | Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Jason Garrett discuss their move to trade up and selection of DeMarcus Lawrence, defensive end from Boise State. (Watch | Listen)
FUTURE OF THE FRANCHISE: Debating the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys needs position-by-position | NFL Free Agency vs. NFL Draft
We’re conditioned to believe that the Dallas Cowboys won’t be major players when the NFL Free Agency period begins on March 11, 2014 Well, this article may not make you feel any better, but hopefully more informed. With the little bit of cap space they will likely have, here’s were the Dallas Cowboys could spend their money in free agency:
Positions likely to be addressed in free agency:
1.) Defensive tackle. The entire defensive line is basically tied for No. 1 on this ranking scale. Both need to be addressed badly. But with Jason Hatcher likely gone via free agency, Nick Hayden is the only returnee who received major playing time in 2013. A healthy Ben Bass and Tyrone Crawford should help here, but another starting caliber player and depth needs to be acquired through free agency and the draft. (Defensive tackle Henry Melton #69 of the Chicago Bears pictured above)
2.) Defensive end. If DeMarcus Ware agrees to a restructure, this group at least has a leg to stand on. If he leaves the Dallas Cowboys, George Selvie and Crawford are the only significant pieces remaining. This is obviously not ideal in a system that is predicated on its front four constantly causing problems for the opposing quarterback. Like tackle, end needs to be addressed in both free agency and the draft.
3.) Safety. This has been a problem area for a long time (for some). Jerry Jones said at the scouting combine last month that he likes where the team is at safety. Barry Church is a solid player when healthy, but there isn’t much proven talent at the position after him. J.J. Wilcox was drafted in the third round last year, but he struggled to establish himself during his rookie season. The jump from Georgia Southern is obviously a big one. Jeff Heath and Matt Johnson would be next in line, but neither should be expected to be a full-time starter this year. The Cowboys could add a veteran safety like they did last season with Will Allen.
4.) Linebacker. If the season started tomorrow, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, and DeVonte Holloman would likely be the starters. And the Cowboys have reason to be concerned about all three. Bruce Carter never seemed comfortable in Monte Kiffin’s scheme last season. Holloman is a sixth round pick who doesn’t have much experience. Lee is the best of the bunch – and one of the best in the league – but he can’t stay healthy. Could that mean the Cowboys add a middle linebacker and move Lee to the weakside spot where he could remain a tackling machine but sustain fewer hits? Possibly. The depth at all three positions is thin as well.
5.) Wide receiver. If Miles Austin is cut, adding a veteran through free agency seems like a good idea. There should be some relatively cheap options out there. If not, the good news for the Cowboys is this draft is considered to be very deep at the position. (Editors comment: If the team ultimately decides to cut Miles Austin, it might be worthwhile to consider giving Jason Hatcher those salary dollars and keep him around Marinelli for a few more years.)
6.) Quarterback. If Kyle Orton retires, a veteran backup is critical. Tony Romo will be 34 next month and he has had two back surgeries in the last two years. The Dallas Cowboys need someone that can step in right away if Romo goes down and Orton isn’t on the roster. Even if Orton does play another season in Dallas, adding a cheap third arm through free agency is a possibility as well.
Positions unlikely to be addressed in free agency:
Interior offensive line. Upgrading these positions would likely come through the draft. Travis Frederick is a very solid piece at center and should be starting at that position for a long time. Mackenzy Bernadeau and Ronald Leary will likely be the starters again at guard. The position could certainly use some young depth, though.
Tight end. Jason Witten turns 32 in May, but there’s still tread on his tires. He caught 73 passes for 851 yards and eight touchdowns last season. The Cowboys spent a second-round pick on Gavin Escobar last year and a sixth round pick on James Hanna in 2011. Both should have a significant role this season.
Running back. DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, and Joseph Randle should all get carries in 2014. Phillip Tanner has been the No. 4 back but the Dallas Cowboys chose not to tender a contract to him, which means he will be a free agent. A replacement for Tanner could be added in the later rounds of the draft or immediately after, via an undrafted rookie free agent.
Cornerback. Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Orlando Scandrick, and B.W. Webb will likely be the top four corners entering camp. It wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see the Dallas Cowboys draft a corner in May, because like pitchers in baseball, you really can’t have too many quality defensive backs in the NFL. Adding an expensive veteran corner through free agency doesn’t make sense.
Special Teams. Kicker Dan Bailey signed a long-term contract extension in January, so he’s not going anywhere. Punter Chris Jones is a restricted free agent and should return. Dwayne Harris has performed well returning kicks and punts, and he should continue to have that role. Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley could also help in that area. The biggest upgrade would likely come by adding a defensive back or linebacker in the draft who can also contribute on special teams coverage.
Ten NFL Free Agents that could be a good fit for the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys:
It’s well documented that the Dallas Cowboys won’t be major players in free agency. They recently found enough salary cap space for the current players on their roster. With DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, and other potential restructures still in play, they could clear up some room to sign a couple of the lower priced options.
Here are 10 free agents that could be productive (per DMN staff) for the Dallas Cowboys if they can be obtained at a low price:
Recuperating defensive end Anthony Spencer (pictured above) #93 of the Dallas Cowboys
Defensive End Willie Young #79 of the Detroit Lions (pictured)
Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald #69 of the Seattle Seahawks
Defensive tackle Henry Melton #69 of the Chicago Bears
Wide receiver Kenny Britt #18 of the the Tennessee Titans
Wide receiver Robert Meachem #17 of the New Orleans Saints
Wide receiver Nate Burleson #13 of the Detroit Lions
Outside linebacker Antwan Barnes #95 of the New York Jets
Quarterback Colt McCoy #2 of the San Francisco 49ers
Quarterback Jimmy Clausen #2 of the Carolina Panthers
THE KYLE ORTON FACTOR: The offseason buzz (media boredom) around Valley Ranch concerning the 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys backup QB questions
Adding a backup quarterback didn’t seem like a significant need a month ago. But in the last couple weeks it has been revealed that Kyle Orton has yet to decide if he’ll return for the 2014 season. If Orton chooses to retire, the Dallas Cowboys could draft Tony Romo’s backup or add a QB through free agency. Even if the Cowboys draft a quarterback, they could still sign another veteran arm. Here’s a list, courtesy of DMN’s writer John Machota, of 10 quarterbacks he thinks the Cowboys could/should target when free agency begins next Tuesday (March 11).
1.) Shaun Hill.(pictured) The 34-year-old has spent the last four seasons in Detroit, playing in 15 games behind Matthew Stafford. His experience working with Scott Linehan, could make Hill the perfect fit to backup Tony Romo.
2.) Colt McCoy. Could the former Texas Longhorn standout make a return to the Lone Star State? McCoy hasn’t started a game the last two seasons and he attempted only one pass in 2013.
3.) John Skelton. The Dallas Cowboys worked him out in December after Tony Romo was injured. Skelton started 17 games for the Cardinals during his first three years in the league. He spent the previous two seasons in San Francisco and Tennessee.
4.) David Carr. The first overall pick in the 2002 draft also worked out for the Dallas Cowboys in December. Dallas chose to go with Jon Kitna, a journeyman who has played for Houston, Carolina, New York (Giants) and San Francisco.
5.) Tyler Thigpen. He also worked out for the Cowboys after Romo went down. Thigpen has played six seasons in the NFL, bouncing around from Kansas City, Miami and Buffalo.
6.) Caleb Hanie. The fourth member of QBs to work out for the Cowboys in December. Hanie started four games for the Bears in 2011 but hasn’t appeared in a game since.
7.) Jimmy Clausen. The former Notre Dame standout was a second-round pick in 2010. But Carolina drafted Cam Newton in 2011 and Clausen hasn’t played in a game since.
8.) Jonathan Crompton. The 26-year-old spent last season playing for Edmonton in the CFL. He was a fifth-round pick by the Chargers in 2010. Crompton had success his senior year at Tennessee while he was coached by Monte Kiffin’s son, Lane.
9.) Matt Flynn. He started five games last season, which included leading Green Bay to a 37-36 comeback victory over the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. In that game, the Tyler native threw for 299 yards and four touchdowns.
10.) Tim Tebow. Jerry Jones probably won’t kick the tires on Tebow but you never really can be sure. Tebow does have 16 regular season starts and a playoff victory under his belt.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys backup QB options if Kyle Orton retires
IRVING, Texas — With free agency starting in about a week, the Dallas Cowboys still don’t know if Kyle Orton wants to play in 2014.
At the NFL scouting combine, owner and general manager Jerry Jones assumed Orton would want to play basically because of the money. Orton is set to make $3.25 million in 2014 and Jones wonders how anybody could walk away from that kind of money, especially a backup quarterback. And if Orton does retire, he would have to repay $3 million of the $5 million signing bonus he received in 2012.
Since Jones is assuming, let’s go with the assumption that Orton won’t play in 2014. That leaves the Dallas Cowboys with a pretty big hole behind Tony Romo, who is coming off a second back surgery in eight months.
With head coach Jason Garrett at the controls of the team’s offense since 2007 (initially as offensive coordinator), the Cowboys have invested in their backups to Romo: Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna and Orton have filled the role. Dallas values the backup quarterback position more than other teams in the NFL.
Jones has said that the Cowboys will not look at a quarterback early in the draft, so that rules out the top-shelf prospects. They interviewed Jimmy Garoppolo and David Fales (among others) at the combine, so there’s at least some interest in those two.
But could the Cowboys trust their backup job to a rookie or inexperienced player? History says no.
So who could be available when free agency begins? Options include Matt Cassel, Shaun Hill, Brady Quinn, Charlie Whitehurst, Derek Anderson and David Garrard. Do they do anything for you?
They have started games in the NFL, which is a plus. Some of them have won at different times, if not for long stretches.
One thing to consider: Cassel and Anderson are represented by David Dunn, who also is the agent for Garrett and passing game coordinator Scott Linehan. One more thing to consider: Hill played for Linehan with the Detroit Lions.
Linehan will be bringing in new terminology to the offense. It would make sense to look at a guy like Hill to help with the process because of his experience. Hill is 34, but he has thrown just 12 passes in the past three years behind Matthew Stafford. Hill’s career stats include a 13-13 record, 41 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions.
Courtesy: Todd Archer | ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter | Covered NFL since 1997, Cowboys since 2003 | Previously covered Bengals and Dolphins | Lives in Dallas area with his wife and two children
EDITORS NOTE: Personally, I think Kyle Orton will stay and this is a big waste of offseason brainpower (or lack of). Nevertheless, it’s a storyline around Dallas today. What do you think? Any of these guys worth seriously considering?
ROAD TO THE 2015 SUPER BOWL: What it will take for your 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys to reach Super Bowl XLIX
The Dallas Cowboys haven’t been to the Super Bowl in 18 years. The NFL’s parity driven league allows most franchises to feel like they’re close to the mountain top. After three consecutive .500 seasons, what would it take for the Cowboys to make it to next year’s Super Bowl? Photo: Tom Fox/DMN
1.) Stay healthy. Injuries to Sean Lee, Anthony Spencer, DeMarcus Ware, and Tyrone Crawford greatly reduced the level of talent on the Dallas Cowboys defense. If Dallas can avoid those significant injuries, the defense should be an improved unit in its second year in the Texas-2 scheme.
2.) Draft well. With little salary cap space, the NFL Draft will be the best way for the Dallas Cowboys to improve their roster. Gain a quality pass rusher and a playmaking safety this year and the defense should bounce back. Photo: Vernon Bryant/DMN
3.) Smooth coaching transition. The new job titles held by Rod Marinelli and Monte Kiffin shouldn’t be a significant adjustment, but how Scott Linehan, Bill Callahan, and Jason Garrett operate on offense will be interesting to watch. If all three work well together, Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys offense could be in for a big year. Photo: Vernon Bryant/DMN
4.) Run more often. Callahan didn’t run the ball enough last season and Linehan has a history of calling a pass-heavy offense. The Dallas Cowboys need to average more rushing attempts per game. Photo: G.J. McCarthy/DMN
5.) Improve defensively. The Dallas Cowboys finished last in the league, allowing 415.3 yards per game. This group needs to get back to being a Top 15 unit. A second-year in the 4-3 scheme should help. Photo: Louis DeLuca/DMN
6.) Improve depth. One of the Dallas Cowboys biggest problems has been a lack of roster depth. To be a contender in 2014-2015, Dallas needs major contributions from players like Gavin Escobar (pictured), B.W. Webb, J.J. Wilcox, and Kyle Wilber. The Cowboys also need to add a few key reserves in the middle rounds of the draft. Photo: Vernon Bryant/DMN
7.) A little luck. Every team needs a few breaks. A few fortunate bounces could be the difference between going 8-8 and 10-6. Photo: Tom Fox/DMN
8.) Fit the Players. Bruce Carter, Morris Claiborne, and Brandon Carr struggled at times transitioning into Monte Kiffin’s scheme. Dallas Cowboys defensive coaches need to modify the scheme to make sure these players bounce back and succeed.
9.) Coaching improvement. Jason Garrett continues to improve as the Dallas Cowboys head coach. With the recent restructuring, 2014-2015 needs to be the year that all of his experiences pay off. Photo: G.J. McCarthy/DMN
10.) Minimize distractions/drama. Josh Brent (pictured during his trial), Jeremiah Jay Ratliff, and a younger Dez Bryant have all had off the field issues over the past few years. It’s easier to perform well on the field when there aren’t any distractions off of it. Photo: Ron Baselice/DMN
The Dallas Cowboys entered the 2013 NFL bye-week in the same position they’ve finished the past two seasons – with a .500 record.
Unlike the way those other seasons ended, the Dallas Cowboys currently find themselves atop the NFC East standings. Translation: If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Dallas Cowboys would be hosting the Carolina Panthers in a Wild Card game.
But since the playoffs don’t begin Sunday and the Cowboys don’t have a game this weekend, it’s a good time to see how they stack up against the other 31 teams in several categories.
According to Pro Football Focus, here are how some of your favorite Dallas Cowboys compare to other players around the NFL:
2013-2014 DALLAS COWBOYS OFFENSE
- Tony Romo is ranked No. 12 among quarterbacks. A few of the most interesting names ahead of him: Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, Chicago’s Jay Cutler and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan.
- Just grading Romo as a passer, he ranks seventh.
- Romo trails Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton in number of drop backs. Dalton 496, Romo 399, New Orleans’ Drew Brees 391, Detroit’s Matthew Stafford 389, Matt Ryan 389.
- Romo received the offense’s lowest grade for the 49-17 loss in New Orleans.
- Over the last five weeks, Romo has posted his four lowest grades of the year.
- Dez Bryant ranks 13th among the league’s wide receivers. Cole Beasley is 36th, Miles Austin is 84th and Terrance Williams is 90th.
- Beasley is No. 1 in the league in percentage caught, hauling in 76.5 percent of the passes thrown in his direction. Williams led this category earlier in the year but has since fallen to 66th, catching 58 percent of the passes thrown to him. Williams, however, does lead the team in yards per reception at 17.2, 12th best in the NFL.
- Doug Free is No. 13 among offensive tackles. Tyron Smith is No. 15.
- Although he hasn’t played in the last two games, Brian Waters is still the team’s highest-graded guard, ranking 24th. Mackenzy Bernadeau, who had the offense’s best grade against New Orleans, is 31st and Ron Leary is 49th.
- Rookie Travis Frederick is eighth among centers.
- Surprisingly, the Dallas Cowboys, who are 26th in the NFL in rushing, are graded as the eighth-best run blocking team.
- Among tight ends, Jason Witten is No. 17. The biggest knock on the eight-time Pro Bowler is his run blocking. He ranks 29th in that category.
- DeMarco Murray has missed two games but he still ranks 12th among running backs. Murray is No. 5 in blocking among backs.
2013-2014 DALLAS COWBOYS DEFENSE
- George Selvie had been one of the top 10 defensive ends in a 4-3 scheme earlier in the year but three negative grades over the last five weeks have dropped him to 27th. DeMarcus Ware is No. 9.
- Of the 80 outside linebackers graded, Ernie Sims is 78 and Bruce Carter is 77.
- Jason Hatcher is third among defensive tackles. Nick Hayden is the lowest-graded defensive tackle in the league.
- Sean Lee is sixth among inside linebackers.
- Cornerback grades: Orlando Scandrick 31, Brandon Carr 46, Morris Claiborne 86.
- Barry Church is the Cowboys’ top-rated safety, tied for 25th in the league.
2013-2014 DALLAS COWBOYS SPECIAL TEAMS
- Dan Bailey is third among kickers, trailing only Denver’s Matt Prater and Carolina’s Graham Gano.
- Dwayne Harris is No. 3 among returners. He’s 18th on punt returns and second on kick returns, trailing only Minnesota’s Cordarrelle Patterson.
2013 COWBOYS GAME 9 RECAP: Dallas Cowboys offense does just enough to avoid embarrassing loss against Minnesota Vikings
IRVING — The Dallas Cowboys did what they needed to do today, they beat a bad team.
The Cowboys weren’t very impressive but they got the job done, improving to 5-4 with a 27-23 victory at AT&T Stadium.
Here are five thoughts on today’s game.
1.) Not many folks probably left the stadium feeling like they got their money’s worth. The Cowboys played to the level of the one-win Minnesota Vikings and barely pulled it out. Every week it becomes more apparent that this is nothing better than a .500 team. Enjoy the victory. But expect nothing more than a “win one- lose one” product the rest of the way.
2.) Dez Bryant was showing his passion again. This time it cost the Cowboys 15 yards. Bryant was called for offensive pass interference in the third quarter and then took off his helmet to argue with an official. Bryant was booed after dropping his second pass of the game a few minutes after he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. He’s the team’s best playmaker, so you have to take the good with the bad. Bryant made a key play later in the game.
3.) So that’s why the Detroit Lions doubled Jason Witten so often last Sunday. The Pro Bowl tight end was the Cowboys’ best player against the Vikings. Witten caught eight passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. He dropped a pass early but Witten remained Romo’s favorite target. When he didn’t get the ball, Witten was still making an impact by attracting double teams, which is exactly what led to Dwayne Harris’ game-winning score. The 31-year-old won’t wow you with his athleticism but he’s still as consistent as they come.
4.) Dallas rushed nine times for 36 yards.
5.) The defensive meetings this week will be about missed tackles. Jeff Heath, Barry Church and Ernie Sims all were abused multiple times. The offensive meetings will emphasis dropped passes. Dallas receivers dropped eight, which included Witten, Bryant and Terrance Williams.
DETROIT – This one’s going to hurt for a while. The Dallas Cowboys blew a great opportunity to pull two games above .500
Here are five thoughts on the Cowboys’ 31-30 loss today at Ford Field.
1.) It was going to be the biggest Dallas Cowboys victory of the season. But then Matthew Stafford took over and the Lions made one of the more improbable comebacks you’ll see in a while. It’s tough to win on the road back-to-back weeks and the Cowboys almost accomplished that. Jason Garrett always talks about putting the last game behind you and moving forward. That’s going to be easier said than done with this loss.
2.) It’s a broken record but Dez Bryant has to be more involved early in games. If not just for his playmaking ability, to at least keep him from flipping out on Tony Romo on the sidelines. Bryant was very animated in the third quarter after the Cowboys failed to capitalize on the Lions’ fourth turnover. He was visibly frustrated during the final minute as well. Bryant was single-covered on several occasions today and only was targeted four times during the first three quarters. In the fourth, he obviously showed why he needs to be more involved, quickly turning a short pass into a 50-yard touchdown.
3.) Yes, it was a devastating loss, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some positives to take away. For one, Sean Lee was outstanding. If you ever had any doubts about the Cowboys giving Lee a contract extension, Sunday’s performance should be enough to answer all your questions. Lee was fantastic in pass defense, intercepting two Matthew Stafford throws in the first-half. Lee now has 11 interceptions in his short career, which is amazing for a linebacker. As long as he stays healthy, Lee, who also had a team-high 10 tackles, should easily prove to be worth his new deal. And that 2010 draft is looking pretty good for the Cowboys.
4.) Positive No. 2: Terrance Williams has a chance to be really special. And with Miles Austin’s constant hamstring injuries, that’s probably a very good thing. Williams was Romo’s favorite target Sunday. He went to the rookie 10 times. Romo might have to listen to Bryant complain from time-to-time, but the franchise has to like the young playmakers he has on the outside.
5.) Detroit was sloppy with the ball throughout but there’s no doubt that Monte Kiffin’s style has greatly improved this team’s ability to force turnovers. The Cowboys have forced 19 takeaways this season. They had 16 all of last season. Those four takeaways were the biggest reason Dallas should’ve won this game.
Dez Bryant visibly emotional on sideline in Detroit (:53)
Dez Bryant explains heated tirade (5:26)
The Dallas Cowboys received a lot of criticism for choosing to trade back and select center Travis Frederick in the first round of April’s NFL Draft.
However, through the first six weeks, the Dallas Cowboys are looking pretty wise.
Frederick stepped in as a starter, anchoring the Dallas offensive line from Day One. Although he struggled early in the season, the 31st overall pick has played well the last four weeks. In fact, the former Wisconsin standout has been so impressive that the folks at Pro Football Focus have given him the fourth-highest grade among 2013 first-round picks through the first six weeks.
New York Jets 3-4 defensive end Sheldon Richardson, Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and San Diego Chargers right tackle D.J. Fluker are the only rookies to grade higher than Frederick, who is ranked seventh among NFL centers and first when it comes to run blocking efficiency.
According to the PFF grade book, Cowboys starting offensive linemen received the four highest grades on the offensive side of the ball against Washington. Right tackle Doug Free led the way with Frederick second, left guard Ron Leary third and right guard Brian Waters fourth. Left tackle Tyron Smith was 11th among the team’s offensive players.
Other offensive grades …
Tony Romo received the Dallas Cowboys’ lowest individual grade and his worst of the season for his performance against Washington. Romo completed 18 of 30 passes for 170 yards, one touchdown and one interception. PFF has Romo currently ranked seventh among quarterbacks, trailing Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford.
Dez Bryant is ninth among receivers. Dallas rookie Terrance Williams is 77th and Miles Austin is 84th.
Doug Free remains No. 1 among all offensive tackles. Tyron Smith is 22nd. Brian Waters is 11th among guards and Ron Leary is 33rd.
Dan Bailey is third among kickers and Dwayne Harris moved up to seventh among kick returners.
Over to the Texas-2 defense …
Second-year Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III received his worst grade of his NFL career on Sunday. Griffin only received one negative grade during his standout rookie season. He has received three negative grades already this year.
According to PFF, DeMarcus Ware is second among 4-3 defensive ends, trailing only St. Louis’ Robert Quinn. George Selvie is 20th.
Ware is first in run stop percentage and fourth in pass rush productivity.
Jason Hatcher, who received his highest grade of the season on Sunday, is fourth among defensive tackles. Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy, New York Jets’ Damon Harrison and Seattle’s Brandon Mebane are ahead of him.
Sean Lee has moved up to seventh among inside linebackers. Carolina’s Luke Kuechly holds the top spot. Lee is second in tackling efficiency but 22nd in pass coverage.
Barry Church, who was in the top five safeties a couple of weeks ago, has fallen to 23rd.
Brandon Carr is 14th among corners. Orlando Scandrick is 65th and Morris Claiborne is 95th. Former Cowboy Terence Newman — now in Cincinnati — is 12th.
Scandrick is fifth when the grades focus just on slot coverage.
Carr was thrown at 12 times Sunday, allowing only four catches for 55 yards. Pierre Garcon was targeted 15 times Sunday and Carr was defending on 10 of them. Garcon caught two of those passes for 29 yards.
Know the opponent …
With the Dallas Cowboys playing in Philadelphia Sunday, here’s a look at a few Eagles grades.
Left guard Evan Mathis is the highest graded offensive linemen in the NFL and running back LeSean McCoy is the league’s highest-graded running back.
Philadelphia’s top five defensive players: Defensive end Fletcher Cox, defensive end Cedric Thornton, outside linebacker Trent Cole, defensive lineman Vinny Curry and cornerback Brandon Boykin.
In the bag …
The Dallas Cowboys are at their best defensively when their line is causing problems for the opposing quarterback. Of Dallas’ 17 sacks this season, 12 have come in the team’s three victories and four of the other five came in the one-point loss in Kansas City.
Here’s the breakdown:
Week 1 vs. Giants, a 36-31 win: 3 sacks.
Week 2 at Chiefs, a 17-16 loss: 4 sacks. Week 3 vs. Rams, a 31-7 win: 6 sacks. Week 4 at Chargers, a 30-21 loss: 1 sack.
Week 5 vs. Broncos, a 51-48 loss: 0 sacks.
Week 6 vs. Redskins, a 31-16 win: 3 sacks.
ARLINGTON – The Dallas Cowboys did what they were expected to do tonight, defeat a struggling Washington Redskins team at home.
Here are five thoughts on the Cowboys’ 31-16 win over the Redskins on Jerry Jones’ 71st birthday.
1.) It didn’t look like it for the first three quarters, but overall the Cowboys played above the level of their competition. A week after matching arguably the best team in the league, Dallas played around with a sub-par Washington group for three quarters. To their credit, they separated themselves when it mattered.
2.) Give that man the game ball. Dwayne Harris was the game’s MVP. Harris’ 86-yard punt return for a touchdown and his 90-yard kickoff return that set up Terrance Williams’ TD. The 26-year-old continues to makes plays when given the chance. As Jerry Jones would say, Harris’ arrow is pointing up.
3.) The worst news of the night was that DeMarco Murray (ankle) and DeMarcus Ware (quad) spent the entire second half wearing baseball caps and shorts on the sideline. If their injuries keep them out for an extended period of time the Cowboys are obviously in trouble.
4.) Give the defense a little credit. Yes, they didn’t play a great opponent, but they bounced back — and did it without Ware. Jason Hatcher, Sean Lee, Kyle Wilber, Orlando Scandrick and Brandon Carr all made big plays when needed. Monte Kiffin’s scheme still has holes that make it difficult to believe that they can contain the league’s top offenses.
5.) Even in a poor division, a win over an NFC East opponent is still valuable. If the Cowboys win the games they are supposed to win – like they did tonight – a division crown and home playoff game seem likely. After six weeks, the Cowboys are tied for the division lead at 3-3.
The Dallas Cowboys continue to have a difficult time starting a season 2-0. It has only happened three times over the last 17 seasons and the Kansas City Chiefs made sure it wouldn’t be four times in 18 years.
Here are my five thoughts on the Cowboys dropping to 1-1 after losing in Kansas City 17-16 on Sunday.
1. Yes, it wasn’t as bad as the debacle in Seattle in Week 2 last season but it ended with the same result. All of the blown opportunities should make the Cowboys feel sick. The offense had multiple chances in the fourth quarter to answer with a go-ahead scoring drive but it never happened. Several short Tony Romo passes sailed wide and one of his best deep balls was dropped by Dez Bryant. The worst defensive play of the day came from Morris Claiborne, who was called for pass interference on a pass attempt to Donnie Avery that likely wouldn’t have resulted in a first down. Had the second-year corner not committed the infraction, Dallas would’ve had a couple minutes to get in range of a game-winning field goal.
2. The defense didn’t force any turnovers but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a solid showing. Yes, they gave up two long drives, which led to 14 points. The Cowboys should win a lot of games if their defense holds opponents to 14 points. Monte Kiffin’s group did its part for the second consecutive week. And remember, they’re still learning the system. If DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Jason Hatcher, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Brandon Carr and a few others can stay healthy, this group should be a strength.
3. Could the running game look any worse? You want to know why the Cowboys pass so much? Well, it’s because they can’t run the football. Dallas ran 16 times for only 36 yards on Sunday. If you didn’t know, that’s terrible. The addition of Brian Waters should help, but this doesn’t appear to be a problem that will be fixed over night. No running game means a lot of long third down attempts for Romo. How has that worked out? After converting 5-of-15 third downs against the New York Giants, the Cowboys were 3-of-11 on Sunday. You don’t win in the NFL converting only three third downs.
4. While Dez Bryant did have a terrible fourth quarter drop, that doesn’t mean the Cowboys should not be giving him more opportunities to make plays, especially when he’s dominating his coverage. Up until that drop, he was unstoppable. He had 100 yards in the first quarter! Brandon Flowers, one of the better corners in the league had no answer for him and the Cowboys stopped taking advantage of the mismatch in the second quarter. During 17 offensive snaps in the second quarter, the Cowboys went to Bryant twice. I think that was a mistake.
5. It sure is nice having Dan Bailey. The third-year kicker is 6-of-6 on field-goal attempts this season and they all certainly haven’t been easy. On Sunday, Bailey drilled a career-long 53 yarder. The other two were from 51 and 30 yards, respectively. It would be difficult to find a kicker better than Bailey is right now.
IRVING – The Dallas Cowboys finished with 29 passing touchdowns last season, sixth-most in the NFL. Through three preseason games, however, the Cowboys have only passed for two touchdowns.
One of them came Saturday in Arizona, a five-yard score from third-string quarterback Alex Tanney to second-round draft pick Gavin Escobar.
The sure-handed tight end hauled in all five passes thrown in his direction in the 12-7 loss to the Cardinals. Although four of those receptions came in the second half against reserves and players fighting for one of Arizona’s final roster spots, Escobar showed a glimpse of what he can do as a pass-catcher in the Cowboys’ offensive scheme.
“That’s what I did in college and that’s definitely my strength,” Escobar said. “I’m hoping to expect catches.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett called Escobar “quarterback friendly” because of his ability to run correct routes and create space between defenders with his 6-6, 249-pound frame.
But in order to get more targets, Escobar must add strength and improve as a blocker.
“My technique’s getting better but these are bigger d-ends that I’m blocking now, so definitely in the off-season that’s going to be a big key for me,” Escobar said of becoming stronger. “Blocking-wise there’s still things I need to clean up. Technique-wise, I have to work on staying lower on blocks.
“There’s a lot I still need to improve on.”
But with five catches for 32 yards, Escobar, who has caught six of the seven balls thrown to him during the preseason, demonstrated that he could be a factor in the passing game during his rookie season.
“I’m reliable catching the ball and I think I’m a threat in the red zone, just being a big target,” he said. “But in this offense, you got to be able to do it all to be on the field. That’s why I need to keep improving all around.”
If you were starting a new job and were required to sing a song in front of all of your co-workers, what song would you pick?
Would it be your favorite song? A song you think sounds good in the shower? Maybe something funny?
Well, Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick went with humor when it was his turn to sing in front of his teammates in Oxnard, Calif.
The 6-3, 311-pounder picked “I’m a Little Teapot.”
“I thought it would be a good song,” Frederick said. “Obviously the point of it is to make yourself look like a fool, so I thought that was a good song to do that, and show your weakness and hopefully the team likes you.
“I gave it my all. I thought I did a decent job.”
When the first-round pick heard that some of his teammates said his song was the worst of the group, he replied: “Well, that really hurts.”
“I heard from several people that the execution was just fine, though,” he said. “It was good execution. I tried. I did what I could. I was enthusiastic about it.”
Second-round pick Gavin Escobar sang “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” The 6-6, 249-pound tight end choose the Temptations song because he had some experience singing it in front of a group.
Escobar said he performed the song with a few of his teammates during his freshman year at San Diego State. The group went around to several sororities, singing songs in an attempt to promote the football team.
Fourth-round pick B.W. Webb said Escobar did “alright.”
Who was the worst?
“J.J. [Wilcox] was by far the worst,” Webb said. “He sang a Big Poppa song. He was terrible.”
Webb had not yet performed in front of the team at the time he was interviewed, but said he was going to sing “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye. When a TV reporter asked for a preview, Webb responded: “Not happening. I don’t want to embarrass my mother like that.”
Asked if he was a good singer, Webb replied: “Not at all.”
SETTING THE TONE: Historic capture of Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett’s team-meeting speech (FULL VIDEO)
Surprisingly, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett allowed SI.com’s Peter King to record Garrett’s entire Saturday team meeting to kick off the start of this year’s training camp (see below).
For the folks who only see the robotic version of Garrett during weekly and postgame press conferences, this version of the coach is a lot different.
The biggest difference: On several occasions, Garrett uses a certain four-letter — and sometimes seven-letter — word that starts with F.
Even after Garrett leaves the podium following press conferences and speaks with media members when the cameras are off, he almost never uses a curse word. This video shows he has no problem doing so in front of his players if that’s what it takes to keep them engaged.
Here are some of the highlights.
– “It’s hard to get in this room. Since you were this [expletive] high, you wanted to do it. Have a passion for it. Great attitudes.”
– “The NFL is hard. It’s a journey. It’s [expletive] hard. It’s hard to play one game in the National Football League, let alone 16 of them.”
– “I want Dez Bryant and Mo Claiborne [expletive] here tomorrow one-on-one on the left-hand side. That’s what I want, competing your [butt] off.”
– “You want guys who are leaders. Step up and be a [expletive] leader. Lead this football team. Lead it!”
– “The [coaches] I love to this day, were on my [butt] of every [expletive] minute of every day. I swear to God, I go to their weddings, their kids are getting married, I travel all over the world to see them. They [expletive] grinded me. It was hard. They made me better. That’s my job.”
– “The best [expletive] football teams I’ve been on, the quarterback held them accountable, the middle linebacker held them accountable, the pass rusher held them accountable, the tight end held them accountable. This is how we do stuff. This is the Cowboys. We’re trying to do something!”
– “Distinguish yourself from your play, not with what you say. We have a little bit of society that gets to a point where people want to distinguish themselves. They want to be famous by what they say. Twitter, all that kind of stuff that goes on, what they’re saying. Stick with yourself and your play. Talk about Sean Lee because he’s the best [expletive] Mike linebacker in football. Right? Not because he tweeted something, or said something in a press conference, or whatever.”
DAWN OF A NEW DAY – and football in a new way—starting in the inner sanctum of the Dallas Cowboys
Courtesy: Peter King
OXNARD, Calif. — “Life,’’ Jason Garrett told his team Saturday afternoon, pacing in front of his 90 players, “is about opportunities. The NFL! The Dallas Cowboys! Are you kidding me? Since we were this high we wanted to be here.”
I find myself this morning feeling the same as Garrett. Only I’ve got a different team. It’s called The MMQB, a site under the Sports Illustrated umbrella, using all the means of modern media to disseminate that football prose and information. Unlike Garrett, I haven’t made a speech to fire up the troops. I don’t have much Lombardi in me anyway.
First things first: I’m excited about our first post. I’ve always been intrigued with the speeches coaches make to teams at the start of training camp, in part because I once heard a 1973 tape of Paul Brown’s to his Cincinnati Bengals. I wrote about that speech a year ago. The rules, the expectations, the mundane, the inspirational. In the spring, I knew we’d be kicking off this new site around the start of NFL camps, and I went in search of a team that might let us not only write about a coach’s first speech of the season to his team, but show video of it. In our business today, we’ve all got to get wise to video. So after some convincing, Dallas owner Jerry Jones gave his blessing, along with coach Jason Garrett. And so, on Saturday, in his team meeting room a few long spirals from the Pacific Ocean, Garrett stepped to the front and laid out his hopes, plans, expectations and rules for the new season. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t believe a head coach’s full training-camp speech, the words and video, has ever seen the light of day … until today. We’re proud to bring it to you.
The full 35-minute video can be found here.
Three things I found compelling about Garrett’s presentation:
• Notice how silent it is in the room? Never a peep in 36 minutes, and there was a sensitive microphone at work in the room. You notice it especially when the vague topic of leadership surfaces, and Garrett gets animated. “We want guys who are leaders. Leaders!’’ Garrett said, eyes wide. “Step up and be a leader. Lead this football team. LEAD IT! It’s time! It’s time to lead this football team! It’s your time!’’ When he’d pause, you’d hear nothing—not even a cough. It’s hard to read the mood and feelings of 90 men, of course. But the players’ focus is a sign, to me, that Garrett’s still got the attention of his team, after back-to-back disappointing 8-8 years.
• The son of a coach talks like a coach, paces like a coach and warns that players had better be able to take coaching. “The coaches I hate—that I had a visceral reaction to—were the guys who told me, ‘You’re doing a great job.’ … And allowing me to be as mediocre as mediocre could be,” Garrett said. “None of us need help being mediocre—especially me. Coach my ass! … You been to the Pro Bowl eight times? You’re getting your ass coached. You just got here 15 minutes ago? You’re getting your ass coached. First-round picks, free agents who signed for nothing—everybody’s getting coached.”
• Ever notice the NFL’s getting more and more careful with every utterance? Garrett wants to keep it that way. With the media, Garrett said, players should be “respectful, brief, boring and humble … Distinguish yourself with your play, not what you say.” My favorite thing of everything Garrett said is about tuning out the distractions that flood every NFL locker room. “Don’t listen to the noise,” he said. “Think Einstein listened to the noise? Think Martin Luther King listened to the noise? Be strong enough mentally, be strong enough physically” to tune the distractions out.
“We’re gonna establish an identity that lasts forever,” Garrett told his players. “That starts today.”
Our site, and football America, owe Jones and Garrett (and Cowboys PR VP Rich Dalrymple) a debt of thanks for educating fans on the hidden ritual that, this morning, is no longer hidden.
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys have once again been named the NFL’s most valuable franchise, according to Forbes Magazine.
Forbes released its annual list of the world’s 50 most valuable sports franchises Monday morning. The Cowboys came in at No. 5 overall and No. 1 among NFL teams with an estimated value of $2.1 billion, marking the seventh-straight year the team has topped the league in Forbes’ calculations. The Cowboys ranked behind MLB’s New York Yankees as North America’s second-most valuable team.
The top three on the list were European soccer powers Real Madrid, Manchester United and FC Barcelona, which clocked in at values of $3.3 billion, $3.17 billion and $2.6 billion, respectively.
The Cowboys rank first out of 30 NFL teams to make the top 50. Dallas’ NFC East rivals Washington, New York and Philadelphia checked in at No. 8, No. 9 and No. 15, respectively.
On Wednesday, Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said he wouldn’t rule out signing any unrestricted free agents.
The Cowboys signed veteran free agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove to a one-year deal today (on Thursday).
Hargrove was signed by the Green Bay Packers in March 2012 but was released in August, which may have been related to the eight-game suspension he received from the NFL for his alleged involvement in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal.
The 29-year-old journeyman was with the Seattle Seahawks in 2011 and the Saints in 2009 and 2010. His first five seasons in the NFL were spent with the Buffalo Bills and St. Louis Rams.
Hargrove, a third-round draft pick by St. Louis in 2004, had his best statistical season in 2005 when he recorded 6.5 sacks and 51 tackles while making 15 starts for the Rams. Hargrove, who has recorded 19.5 career sacks, has appeared in 102 NFL games, starting 25.
The Cowboys released guard D.J. Hall to make room for Hargrove on the roster.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee has yet to play a full 16-game schedule in his NFL career.
Entering the final season of his rookie contract, Lee, who missed the final 10 games of the 2012 season with torn ligaments in his right big toe, said he isn’t going to change the way he plays.
“I’m going to try to play a certain way, play hard,” Lee told KTCK-AM Tuesday, via the Dallas Morning News (see below). “I don’t think I would be successful if I didn’t play that way. I’d rather cut a few years off my career and play the right way than go soft and not play right. If injuries come, they come. But I’m going to sellout on the field and try to sellout every game. I think that’s the only way we really can win, if everybody does that.”
Lee said last week he is “pretty much 100 percent” and plans to be healthy enough to participate in organized team activities next week.
He will play a key role in the middle of new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s Texas-Two scheme. He told the radio station he has been studying Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs and former Bear Brian Urlacher to learn how to play the scheme.
RELATED: Sean Lee – ‘I’d rather cut a few years off my career and play the right way than go soft’
Torn ligaments in Sean Lee’s right big toe caused the Dallas Cowboys linebacker to miss the final 10 games of the 2012 season. Lee said last week that he’s “pretty much 100 percent” and that’s obviously good news for a defense that’s transitioning into a 4-3 scheme under Monte Kiffin.
But will Lee be able to turn in the first 16-game season of his career in 2013?
Since suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while at Penn State in 2008, Lee has battled wrist and other leg injuries. Some players might try to change the way they play because of frequent injury setbacks, but the former second-round draft pick doesn’t plan on changing anything about his game.
“I’m going to try to play a certain way, play hard,” Lee said (<—listen to MP3 by clicking on word) Tuesday during the BaD Radio show on 1310 The Ticket [KTCK-AM]. “I don’t think I would be successful if I didn’t play that way. I’d rather cut a few years off my career and play the right way than go soft and not play right. If injuries come, they come. But I’m going to sellout on the field and try to sellout every game. I think that’s the only way we really can win, if everybody does that.”
Lee, who said he’s been studying film of how Chicago Bears linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs played in the Tampa-Two scheme, is in the final year of his rookie contract. It’s likely that the Cowboys will try to sign him to a long-term deal.
But if that doesn’t happen before the season starts, don’t expect to see the 26-year-old publicly demanding a new contract.
“I’m just happy to be playing football,” Lee said. “I really don’t think about that stuff. I just want to be on the field, staying healthy. The ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl. For me, that’s all I think about non-stop, ‘How can I get better as a football player? How can I help my team win? What can I do to make my teammates better so we hopefully can compete for a Super Bowl every year?’ That’s my main concern.”
MIND OVER MATTER: Maturing Dez Bryant sees himself as a veteran mentor, says ‘No more games, no more wondering’
PHOTO: Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant talks with media after hitting in the Reliant Home Run Derby benefiting the Salvation Army at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. (Brad Loper/The Dallas Morning News)
ARLINGTON – Dez Bryant says he has a different mindset entering his fourth NFL season. The Dallas Cowboys wide receiver now looks at himself as a veteran.
“There’s no more games, no more wondering,” Bryant said Wednesday while participating with Cowboys teammates and head coach Jason Garrett in the Reliant Home Run Derby at Rangers Ballpark. “I know what I’m doing. I got to come in and do what I did at the end of last year. And I hope to build on that.”
Bryant was referring to the final eight games of the season when he caught 72 passes for 879 yards and 10 touchdowns. That strong finish allowed the 24-year-old to continue to steadily improve statistically over each of his three years in the league.
The former first-round pick appeared in all 16 games despite battling multiple injuries in 2012. Bryant fractured his left index finger in a Dec. 9 victory over Cincinnati. The injury required surgery but Bryant played through it, choosing to wear a specialized splint and glove.
“It’s never going to be normal, but I promise it’s never going to be an issue,” Bryant said Wednesday. “I’m ready to go. I’ve been catching footballs and I actually feel like I’ve been catching better, so I’m ready to go.”
In the final game of the season, Bryant suffered a lower back injury during the fourth quarter. Bryant was in so much pain that he couldn’t stand on his own. Asked about the back injury Wednesday, Bryant admitted that it took him a little longer than expected to fully recover.
“But the back is not an issue now,” he said. “It’s all about getting into OTAs and trying to help out all of the younger guys, make sure everybody is on the same page, and ready to go for this 2013 season.”
Two of the younger guys Bryant was likely referring to are 2013 draft picks Terrance Williams and Joseph Randle. Bryant spoke highly of both, mentioning that he expects Williams, a wide receiver out of Baylor, and Randle, a running back out of Oklahoma State, to do “big things” while wearing a Dallas Cowboys uniform.
PHOTO: Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr (39) breaks up a pass intended for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (13) at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday, November 18, 2012. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)
ARLINGTON – Brandon Carr says he doesn’t model his game after any other NFL cornerback. Why would he? Playing the way he did during his first four seasons in the league earned him a five-year, $50.1 million contract from the Dallas Cowboys.
And although he admits the Cowboys defensive unit has been watching film of teams like the Chicago Bears and the Seattle Seahawks to get examples of how Monte Kiffin’s defense is designed to be run, don’t expect to see a duplicate out of Carr’s team on Sundays.
“We see how those guys get after it, but we’re trying to make our own mark on this defense,” Carr said Wednesday during a charity home run derby at Rangers Ballpark.
Carr called learning the new scheme an “ongoing process.” When it is run correctly, opposing offenses will have a difficult time identifying if the Cowboys are in zone, cover-two or man-to-man, according to Carr.
“It allows the corners to be aggressive at the line of scrimmage, every play challenging receivers,” Carr explained. “It allows us to go out there and dictate the flow of the game.”
The Cowboys have a strong group of cornerbacks in Carr, Morris Claiborne, Orlando Scandrick and B.W. Webb. How those four are able to perform in Kiffin’s defense will go a long way in determining if the switch to a 4-3 scheme is a success.
Count Carr, who led the Cowboys with three interceptions and 11 passes defended last season, among the players who don’t seem to mind the switch.
“It allows me to be the corner that I want to be,” he said. “Go up there each play and challenge the receiver. That’s what I came into this league doing and that’s what I’ve been doing for some time in this league, and that’s how I made my name.
“It allows me to go back up to the line of scrimmage and it allows Claiborne to do the same thing.”