PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Charles Haley a finalist for the fifth time
IRVING, Texas – Former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Charles Haley is once again one of the finalists for the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Haley, a finalist for the fifth time, joins four first-year eligible nominees among the 15 modern-era finalists to be considered for election to the Hall of Fame when the selection committee meets in New York City on Feb. 1.
If Haley made it this year, he’d be the 15th Cowboys player to be elected to the Hall of Fame, joining Troy Aikman, Larry Allen, Tony Dorsett, Bob Hayes, Michael Irvin, Tom Landry, Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro, Deion Sanders, Tex Schramm, Emmitt Smith, Roger Staubach, Randy White, and Rayfield Wright.
Haley played 12 seasons and in 169 games and is the only player in NFL history to play on five Super Bowl winning teams between his time in Dallas and San Francisco.
He began his career as a linebacker in San Francisco, where he recorded four double-digit sack seasons. He’d later get traded to the Cowboys, where he’d record two more double-digit sack seasons in 1994 and 1995 as a defensive end. Haley finished his career with 100.5 total sacks, getting named to five Pro Bowls and garnering two All-Pro selections.
Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson, who was a semifinalist this year and won two Super Bowl titles during his time in Dallas, didn’t make the list of finalists.
The 15 modern-era finalists will be the only ones considered for Hall of Fame election when the 46-member selection committee meets. A finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent to be elected.
To be eligible for election, players and coaches must have last played or coached more than five seasons ago. Derrick Brooks, Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison and Walter Jones are the four first-year eligible nominees. Haley and Kevin Greene have both been eligible for 10 years.
All the finalists were determined by a vote of the selection committee from a list of 126 nominees, which was reduced to a list of 25 semifinalists. In addition, Ray Guy and Claude Humphrey were selected as senior candidates by the Hall of Fame’s Seniors Committee, leaving 15 modern-era and two senior nominees among the full list of finalists.
Here’s a list of all the finalists:
Morten Andersen, Kicker
Jerome Bettis, Running Back
Derrick Brooks, Linebacker
Tim Brown, Wide Receiver/Kick Returner/Punt Returner
Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Owner
Tony Dungy, Coach
Kevin Greene, Linebacker/Defensive End
*Ray Guy, Punter
Charles Haley, Defensive End/Linebacker
Marvin Harrison, Wide Receiver
*Claude Humphrey, Defensive End
Walter Jones, Tackle
John Lynch, Free Safety
Andre Reed, Wide Receiver
Will Shields, Guard
Michael Strahan, Defensive End
Aeneas Williams, Cornerback/Safety
THREE LITTLE (JUICED) BEARS: Former Cowboys Joe DeCamillis, Martellus Bennett, and Jay Ratliff content being out of Hollywood atmosphere
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — While complimentary overall of the Dallas Cowboys, three former members of the organization now with the Chicago Bears considered the atmosphere there “Hollywood” compared to their current locale.
Martellus Bennett said everything in Chicago is based on football, and there’s a different type of chemistry.
Bears special teams coach and assistant head coach Joe DeCamillis spent four years with the Cowboys (2009-12) and said “there can’t be two different spectrums.” Two more former Cowboys — Bears defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff and tight end Martellus Bennett — agreed as the teams prepare to face each other Monday night at Soldier Field.
Asked about the biggest difference between the Bears and Cowboys, Ratliff didn’t hesitate.
“Football, first-class organization,” he said of the Bears. “Just to put it bluntly, and it’s not a shot — if they take it like that, so be it. Here, it is all about football. You can really just focus on your craft. Focus on what it is you do. And no matter what’s going on, you never forget what you’re here for. That’s a good thing.”
A four-time Pro-Bowler, Ratliff was picked by the Dallas Cowboys in the seventh round of the 2005 draft, but he was released by the club on Oct. 13 and signed by the Bears on Nov. 2. Ratliff made his Bears debut Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, participating in 23 snaps, and his workload will increase Monday night against his former team.
Ratliff said earlier in the week that Monday’s matchup is “just another game,” but that isn’t the case for DeCamillis.
“I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s like Ratliff and say it’s like any other game,” DeCamillis said. “Anytime you leave some place you always have a little bit more juice going back against them.”
As for the differences between the Bears and Cowboys organizations, DeCamillis said “there, it’s a lot different from the standpoint of just the things that go on. It’s a little bit more like Hollywood, and here it’s a little bit more, probably a little tamer. But they’re both great organizations, and both have had a lot of storied tradition and championships. That’s the main thing.”
A second-round pick of Dallas in 2008, Bennett spent his tenure with the Cowboys as a backup before leaving in 2011 to take a free-agent deal with the New York Giants. Coming off a breakout season in 2012, in which he caught 55 passes for 626 yards and five touchdowns, Bennett signed with the Bears in free agency.
Bennett is currently on pace to better those marks, and apparently Chicago’s atmosphere is more conducive for him to do it.
“I mean, I’m a Hollywood person. I would agree with [DeCamillis and Ratliff],” Bennett said. “Since I’ve been born, I’ve been meant to be on Disney. But they don’t really like to take too many kids from the ‘hood and put them on Disney nowadays. But for the most part, it’s different. Everything here is based on football, and [there’s] just a different type of chemistry with this team. Everybody is just about football all the time. We have our relationships and we have fun; there’s not really any cliques or anything. It’s just a bunch of guys who come together every week, play football, and tell jokes.”
PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: NFL fans can select their top 15 candidates to make it as 2014 HOF finalists
The list of 126 nominees has been trimmed to 25 modern-era semifinalists and it includes a former Dallas Cowboys head coach that won two Super Bowls and the key defensive player who helped him get there.
Jimmy Johnson is one of the first-year eligible nominees to make the list of 25 semifinalists. The only other with Cowboys ties is Charles Haley, who has been a finalist each of the last four years.
Johnson, who replaced Tom Landry as Dallas Cowboys head coach in 1989, spent five years in Dallas and guided the team to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 1992 and 1993.
Johnson left coaching after that season, only to return in 1996 for a four-year run in Miami.
Charles Haley is the only player with five Super Bowl rings, winning two with the 49ers, where he played from 1986-91 and three in Dallas.
Haley joined the Dallas Cowboys in 1992 and is often considered the last key ingredient to those Super Bowl winning teams that included the “Triplets” on offense with Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.
Other first-year nominees include Marvin Harrison and Steve Wisniewski, who was actually a Cowboys’ second-round pick in 1989 but was traded to Oakland for more picks, including one used to draft Daryl Johnston just 10 selections later.
Here’s the complete list of modern-era semifinalists is as follows:
Morten Andersen, K – 1982-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-2000, 2006-07 Atlanta Falcons, 2001 New York Giants, 2002-03 Kansas City Chiefs, 2004 Minnesota Vikings
Steve Atwater, S – 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets
Jerome Bettis, RB – 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
Derrick Brooks, LB – 1995-2008 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tim Brown, WR/KR – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Dallas area)
Don Coryell, Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers
Roger Craig, RB – 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings
Terrell Davis, RB – 1995-2001 Denver Broncos
Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Owner – 1977-2000 San Francisco 49ers
Tony Dungy, Coach – 1996-2001 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2002-08 Indianapolis Colts
Kevin Greene, LB/DE – 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers
Charles Haley, DE/LB – 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
Marvin Harrison, WR – 1996-2008 Indianapolis Colts
Joe Jacoby, T – 1981-1993 Washington Redskins
Jimmy Johnson, Coach – 1989-1993 Dallas Cowboys, 1996-99 Miami Dolphins
Walter Jones, – T – 1997-2008 Seattle Seahawks
John Lynch, FS – 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos
Karl Mecklenburg, LB – 1983-1994 Denver Broncos
Andre Reed, WR – 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins
Will Shields, G – 1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs
Michael Strahan, DE – 1993-2007 New York Giants
Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner – 1989-2006 National Football League
Aeneas Williams, CB/S – 1991-2000 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals, 2001-04 St. Louis Rams
Steve Wisniewski, G – 1989-2001 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders
George Young, Contributor – 1968-1974 Baltimore Colts, 1975-78 Miami Dolphins, 1979-1997 New York Giants, 1998-2001 National Football League
The list of 25 semifinalists will be reduced by mail ballot to 15 modern-era finalists. That list increases to 17 finalist nominees with the inclusion of the two recommended candidates of the Hall of Fame’s Seniors Committee. The Seniors Committee nominees, who were announced in August, are:
- Ray Guy – Punter (1973-86 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders)
- Claude Humphrey – Defensive end (1968-78 Falcons, 1979-81 Eagles)
LOOKING FOR ANSWERS IN BIG D: Jerry Jones not second guessing his decision to fire Rob Ryan
NEW ORLEANS – It was a given that Dallas Cowboys owner-general manager Jerry Jones would be reminded he fired the man who helped bring down his team last night on NBC’s nationally televised Sunday Night Football.
The Saints vaunted offense lived up to its reputation in a 49-17 demolition of Dallas. But in an equally dominant performance, the New Orleans defense stymied the Cowboys’ offense into a mere 193 total yards and 17 points.
“I thought that we would hang in real good with them, and you might have a game comparable to what we played with Denver,” Jones said. “A game like that, I think we were ready to put some offense out there. But to their credit, they saw to it that we couldn’t.”
As if he needed insult added to injury, Jones was asked how he felt about the decision to replace Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who coached for the Dallas Cowboys at this time last year.
“We thought it was best for us to go in the direction we are, and it doesn’t look good right now,” Jones said. “Hopefully we can make it look good, but I have all the feelings you have any time you look back at a decision, and I realize when some of them work you have to have a few things go along with it.”
Ryan’s extensive makeover of the Saints’ defense has paid dividends for head coach Sean Payton, who hired him after New Orleans finished last in the league in defense last year. The Saints are currently ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, in total defense and scoring defense this season.
“We had our reasons for making our change, and Sean did a good job of getting Rob down here,” Jones said. “He’s as smart as he can be, from an outstanding football bloodline. That’s why we hired him two years ago with the Cowboys.”
The Dallas Cowboys’ defense, now under the management of defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, was gashed for 625 total yards by Drew Brees and an aggressive Saints running game. It was the fourth time the Cowboys have surrendered 500 yards of offense and the second time they have surrendered 600 yards this year, further solidifying their No. 32 ranking in the NFL.
Injury again played a role in that, as Jason Hatcher missed the game and Sean Lee was lost for the night in the second quarter with a hamstring injury. Jones acknowledged the extent of the team’s injury problems, but he said he didn’t want to make an excuse of it.
“I thought we were certainly compromised, relative to our defense, where we are right now with personnel,” he said. “That’s not an excuse, because we still didn’t play as well as they played.”
The Saints allowed the Cowboys to run just 43 plays on the night, and they didn’t give up a third down conversion in nine different attempts. What success the Dallas Cowboys had on the ground, with 89 yards on 16 attempts, was offset by a complete inability to throw.
“I thought Rob’s defense was outstanding. They got after us good,” Jones said. “This is not only a tough place to play, but we know, where we are right now with our personnel on defense, we’ve got to go out and score. We’ve got to get in there and score some points. To their credit, they didn’t let us keep our offense out there.”
Jones remained optimistic, however, despite being handed the most lopsided loss of the year. He said the Dallas Cowboys need to use the bye week to regroup and recuperate.
“It’s embarrassing to lose, it’s embarrassing to not be representative, not be competitive – all of those things. But more importantly, the real issue, can we do something about it,” Jones said. “Can we get in here and use this time off, get some of our guys back, get a little healthier, come up with some ideas of how to go against the rest of the schedule and see if we can have a happier day this year – not next year, but this year.”
COWBOYS VS. SAINTS GUT-CHECK REVIEW: Dallas offense shut down; Saints rip Cowboys defense in 49-17 loss
NEW ORLEANS – Initial thoughts following the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys’ 49-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Kavner: No one predicted the massacre that occurred Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Dallas Cowboys established a strong running presence early on and took a quick 3-0 lead, but that’s about the only positive thing to say about a team that got smashed the rest of the way. Tony Romo only had three completions for 20 yards at the half, and the Saints offense continued to move the ball at will against the Cowboys defense, particularly after Sean Lee went out with an injury. I thought we’d see a back-and-forth shootout in New Orleans. It turned out this one was over early in the third quarter, when thoughts shifted more to the Cowboys’ immediate future without Lee than it did the game, which was already wrapped up.
Helman: The popular saying around this team is that they play to their level of competition, but that was far from the case Sunday night. The offense, aside from one short drive in the third quarter, couldn’t find any rhythm or consistent production. It was nice to see the Cowboys commit to the run and find some early success, but was it worth it at the cost of such a poor passing performance? This team lives and dies with Tony Romo, as far as I’m concerned, and his inability to find even 100 passing yards when the game was still in the balance just wasn’t going to cut it. Once again we saw the defense fall well short of top-notch competition, as the Saints racked up both points and yardage. Obviously, injuries play a role in that, as Jason Hatcher was inactive and Sean Lee left the game early. But that doesn’t excuse the poor tackling or the dozen penalties. The Cowboys have dealt with their fair share of disappointment this season, but this is the first time in 10 weeks we’ve seen them get definitively outplayed.
Eatman: I really thought we’d see an old-fashioned shootout. The Saints were certainly down for it, although Rob Ryan wasn’t having it. The Cowboys just weren’t good enough on any side of the ball to stay with the Saints. Cole Beasley wasn’t really a factor like I thought. Then again neither was Dez Bryant or Jason Witten or anyone Tony Romo was throwing to. To me, the game changed completely when Sean Lee went out with a hamstring injury. That’s when the Saints just ripped the Cowboys’ defense up to no end. Drew Brees did anything he wanted and was rarely challenged. Injuries for this team aren’t excuses anymore, it’s just reality. This team was average before these injuries and now it’s even worse. The bye week just couldn’t come at a better time.
Editors note: This article relates to the pregame predictions made by the Dallas Cowboys writers on Saturday.
HEAD-TO-HEAD MATCHUP: Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints in 2013-2014 Game 10
The Dallas Cowboys got past the hapless Minnesota Vikings last Sunday at home. Now they face a powerful New Orleans team on the road. The subplots in this game are intriguing, particularly the matchup between Dallas’ offense and ex-Cowboys coordinator Rob Ryan’s Saints defense. Ryan figures to want this victory badly after he was canned last January. But even if quarterback Tony Romo gets the better of Ryan’s bunch the Saints’ potent passing game may be too much for Dallas to handle. Here is a look at how the Cowboys and Saints match up:
When the Cowboys run
DeMarco Murray returned last Sunday in the Cowboys’ victory over Minnesota. But his contribution was minimal as Dallas ran the ball only nine times. It was the lowest number of rush attempts in franchise history. The Cowboys don’t have a fearsome ground attack and don’t seem eager to develop one. The Saints may be giving up 4.95 yards per carry – the second-highest average in the NFL – but will the Cowboys try to take advantage of their weak run defense?
When the Cowboys pass
In the last four games, Tony Romo has completed only 59.5 percent of attempts while throwing seven touchdown passes and four interceptions. The Cowboys’ air attack hasn’t looked nearly as proficient as it did in an October loss to Denver, when Romo was at his best. Now they face the Saints, whose pass defense has experienced dramatic improvement under the supervision of ex-Cowboys coordinator Rob Ryan and is allowing 211.9 yards per game.
When the Saints run
Much like the Cowboys, the Saints treat their ground game like an accessory. They’ve run the ball 191 times – eight more than the Cowboys have. And they average only 79.8 rushing yards per game. The Cowboys, who allowed their first 100-yard rusher this season last Sunday, should be able to limit New Orleans when it goes away from their passing game.
When the Saints pass
Four different quarterbacks have thrown for more than 400 yards against the Cowboys this season. Drew Brees could be the fifth. The Saints have a dynamic passing attack. Their contingent of receivers is a handful. So is tight end Jimmy Graham, who has already caught 10 touchdown passes this season. The Cowboys don’t figure to be able to stop the Saints, who are averaging 317.6 yards per game through the air – the third-highest average in the NFL.
Dan Bailey continues to perform at a high level. The third-year veteran has made his last nine field-goal attempts, including two from beyond 50 yards. Bailey’s steady performance has helped the Cowboys as they’ve played in one close game after the other. Bailey’s counterpart, Southlake Carroll product Garrett Hartley, hasn’t been nearly as consistent. He’s converted only 76.2 of his tries – the sixth-worst average in the NFL.
Rob Ryan will be out for revenge. The Cowboys’ former defensive coordinator, who was fired in January, will want to shut down Dallas in a game that will be played in front of a national television audience. Perhaps no person on the field or the sidelines will be more motivated than Ryan, who will feed off the energy supplied by the boisterous crowd at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Cowboys will face perhaps the toughest road test of the season.
COWBOYS VS. SAINTS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Jason Garrett press conference | Thursday practice
Jason Garrett: Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints road game (9:37)
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media from Valley Ranch as his team continues preparation for the Saints. (Watch Video | Play Audio)
- Dez Bryant’s back issue and status
- Dez Bryant injury similar to Washington game last season
- DeMarcus Ware movement
- Nick Hayden rib update
- DeMarcus Ware pushing and pulling reps
- Last time Cowboys was in New Orleans comparison, record confidence
- Guarding against criticism overcorrections and exterior forces
- Rob Ryan and Monte Kiffin taking game personally because of coaching changes
- Signs that the offense is functioning like it should be
- Jason Hatcher stinger
- Personal feelings about facing Rob Ryan and his Saints defense
- Tony Dorsett’s chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)
- Player safety issues addressed by NFL and Cowboys
- Crash Davis – Bull Durham
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COWBOYS VS. SAINTS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Jason Garrett press conference | Wednesday practice
Jason Garrett: Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints road game (15:33)
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media from AT&T Stadium before his team takes the field for Saints practice. (Watch Video | Play Audio)
- Comparing Brees to the other prolific passers faced in 2013-2014 season
- Everett Dawkins addition to Marinelli’s Misfits
- Key to stopping New Orleans offense
- Confidence in secondary, after seeing how they’ve covered similar offenses
- DeMarcus Ware’s return to practice; expected game impact
- Familiarity with Rob Ryan vs. Rob Ryan’s familiarity with Cowboys offense
- Comparing the Rob Ryan defense in New Orleans compared to his Dallas scheme
- Relationship he has with Rob Ryan after termination, and now
- Lessons learned from Sean Payton’s style, as an offensive play caller
- Comparing the defensive injuries from this season compared to last year
- Applying lessons from other tight ends this season to game planning Graham
- Will Graham be defended as a tight end or wide receiver
- Evaluating Gavin Escobar production relative to the spot taken in the NFL Draft
- Staying with Jason Witten, even when he’s in catching slumps; overall impact
- How they’ll preparing for uniquely gifted athletes, like Darren Sproles
- Addressing the locker room situations that have developed in Miami
- Simulating and handling stadiums with crowd noise issues
- Weather yards-per-carry is an effective way to grade offensive linemen
- Evaluating run efficiency vs. yards-per-carry; season grade on this line
- Bruce Carter and Ernie Simms competition for starting spot
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RIVAL HEADLINE–PHILLY: Why do YOU hate the Cowboys?
THERE IS a great Christmas song that proclaims, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” While I love the season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day because people are actually nice to each other and concentrate on things that are most important – family and friends – it is not the most wonderful time of the year!
That’s actually October, if you are a sports fan.
There is a plethora of football to watch, both college and pro. The baseball playoffs are in full swing, culminating with the World Series and all its tension and excitement. Hockey season has begun in earnest and the NBA launches at the end of the month.
To cite one example of how great October can be, consider if you lived in Boston. Last Sunday was a day you would never forget – unbelievable comebacks by the Patriots and Red Sox in big games. Yes, October is the most wonderful time of the year – the only month all four major sports are going on at the same time.
This year, October is even more special because tomorrow the Eagles play the Cowboys at home with first place in the NFC East at stake. Good god, I hate those Cowboys!
On Wednesday, I was on the train coming back from New York and I was sitting with my cousin Steven, a brilliant psychiatrist, his aide, Marguerite, and two rambunctious women named Sarah and Jennifer. We had a great time as they helped me create the “Top 10 Reasons I Hate the Cowboys.” Though they were my reasons, the crew helped me put them in descending order. It was great fun and I strongly recommend you do it with your friends. We share many of the same reasons, but ranking them as to which make you hate the ‘Boys the most is a hoot.
So here’s my Top 10:
10. The Star – What unbelievable conceit to make a star the symbol of your team and paint it right smack in the middle of the field. How did that star look at the end of the pickle-juice game (the 2000 season opener when the Eagles consumed pickle juice to combat dehydration from the 109-degree game-time temperature and beat the hosts, 41-14)?
9. Jimmy Johnson’s hair – Gelled and lacquered into a steel-like, immovable ‘do, and harder than those obnoxious Cowboy helmets. (I must admit to a tad of envy here.)
8. Cowboy (or AT&T) Stadium – A gaudy, incredibly extravagant mausoleum to Jerry Jones’ ego. Hey, Jerry, with Texas having the highest percentage of people without healthcare coverage of any state in the nation, couldn’t you have thought of a better use for your money?
7. Troy Aikman on TV – This ex-Cowboys QB has never gotten over the physical and scoreboard beating administered to him by the Buddy Ryan-led Birds. He takes it out on the Eagles every chance he gets with his slanted, hateful anti-Eagles commentary.
6. The “Don’t Mess With Texas” attitude – Everything is bigger and better in the Lone Star state, or so they think. Rick Perry as governor? Not so much. Cowboy Stadium is a great example of this. One thing that’s for sure: Everything is more arrogant in Texas, especially if it has anything to do with this football team!
5. Conceited, cocky, arrogant stars, past and present – Michael Irvin, Neon Deion, Tony Romo, Dez Bryant: I can’t stand any of them. (Jason Witten is an exception, but he should have been an Eagle. Remember, we picked L.J. Smith in the draft when Jason was still available.)
4. No cheesesteaks, hoagies, soft pretzels or Tastykakes are sold at Cowboy Stadium – Hard to believe, but true. I went to see the Birds play in Dallas once and sat in Ross Perot’s box. There was white wine, caviar, smoked salmon, Brie and crudités served with nary a soft pretzel to be found. They wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes in the 700 level at the Vet!
3. Jimmy Johnson’s favorite phrase, “How ‘Bout Them Cowboys?” – I’m sick and tired of hearing it! Hey, Jimmy, how ’bout the fact that “Them Cowboys” have only won one playoff game (the dreaded “air guitar” game vs. the Birds, unfortunately) in more than a decade?
2. Jerry Jones – Need I explain? This unbelievably arrogant owner is the epitome of the conceit, braggadocio and excess that makes us hate the Cowboys.
1. “America’s Team” – Aaaaagh!! Who would have the gall to call themselves America’s Team? Who nominated them? Did we get to vote on this? This self-proclaimed title has inspired many faux fans around the nation to claim to be Cowboy rooters, but they all probably think a rollout is what you do with toilet paper and that the wildcat formation is found at the zoo.
So that’s my list. Have fun coming up with yours. To sum it up: “Cowboys suck,” and with injuries to Ware and Murray, the Birds win easily, 34-23.
Courtesy: Edward Rendell | The Daily News
Editors comment: Pretty lame article, granted. Not much creativity in Philly. After all, why remain bitter about Jimmy Johnson (and his hair) 25 years later? Seems like a “if you can’t beat ‘em … bash ‘em” mentality in the City of Brotherly Love (and resentment). Still, take a moment to vote in their poll. As you’d expect, it’s tilted towards a Philly win on Sunday. Let your voice be heard! While we’re at it … how ‘bout serving cheesesteak on Texas Toast with BBQ sauce for your gameday tailgate? Cheesesteak is basically shaved Texas beef brisket! Go Cowboys … hard pretzels, star and all!!
BREAKIN’ BRONCOS: Time for the Dallas Cowboys to become roughriders
IRVING, Texas – Talk about a Texas-sized order for these Dallas Cowboys.
Why, the Denver Broncos are coming to AT&T Stadium Sunday afternoon with a 4-0 record.
They haven’t been beaten in their past 15 regular-season games.
During this franchise record 15-game winning streak, no one has even come within seven points of the Broncos, which is one game shy of the Chicago Bears NFL record set in 1941-42, if that’s even possible to comprehend. Heck, in the four games this season, no team has come within the 16 Oakland has.
This also means the Broncos have tied their franchise record with seven consecutive road victories, no matter if they have been playing at the world champion Baltimore Ravens or in the supposedly indomitable collegiate atmosphere of Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium last year, or at MetLife Stadium (Giants) this season.
They are currently averaging 44.7 points a game, as if they are some Alabama playing a bunch of directional schools to start the season. And to think, the Cowboys have already given up thirty-something twice this season: 31 to the now 0-4 Giants and 30 this past Sunday to the then 1-2 Chargers.
The quarterback, The Peyton Manning, leads the NFL in nine of 10 statistical QB categories, most importantly a ridiculous 138 passer rating. Not to mention averaging 367.5 passing yards a game. And just think what that average might be if the Broncos were not winning each of these four games so far by an average of 22 points.
Considering opposing quarterbacks in three of their past six games, stretching back to last season, have thrown for more than 400 yards: Drew Brees (446), Eli Manning (450) and, most recently, Philip Rivers (401). Which brings to mind that the franchise record for most passing yards by an opposing quarterback is 486, set back in 1962 by Chicago’s Billy Wade.
Oh, if this all is not enough, the Broncos kicker, Matt Prater, has not missed a field-goal attempt yet (6 of 6) and their return specialist, Trindon Holiday, has just been named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month, mostly for his 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and 81-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Beaten team walking?
Well, as a public service announcement, don’t try peddling any of this overwhelming evidence to these underdogs out here at The Ranch, an inherent danger to yourself yesterday, a danger today and even more dangerous come Sunday before the 3:25 p.m. kickoff that is being preceded this season with a little Texas Stadium old-school trumpet-playing of the national anthem.
“We ain’t scared of nobody,” a defiant Jason Hatcher said this week.
“I’m sick of hearing about Peyton Manning this and that and that,” said starting linebacker Ernie Sims of the Dallas Cowboys nickel defense Sunday, which might as well be called their base defense since the Broncos are expected to do exactly what Rivers and the Chargers did this past Sunday: Go three-wide, hurry-up.
Well, you wanted to know what the mood has been out here at The Ranch, didn’t ya?
Testy, for sure.
And that’s certainly a good thing. I mean, you don’t want this 2-2 team coming into a game like this, especially at home, meekly tiptoeing around, as if being led down a gangplank.
That’s why I am not one subscribing to this theory of playing some cozy, ball-control offense, as if the Cowboys should set up in some Carolina Four Corners from back in the day when shot clocks were an NBA thing.
Run the ball, absolutely, all you can – all you need to – but you can’t go into some offensive shell just to keep Manning off the field. You’ve got to go into offensive overdrive. You’ve got to score points. You’ve got to take some shots at the bow. Let your hair down and take some chances
Doggoneit, be aggressive, and same on defense. You can’t just sit back passively on defense, giving ground in fear of giving up a big play, betting Manning and this high-powered Broncos offense won’t execute like 12 plays to cover 80 yards. Ha, do so and you’ll be the one executed.
This all brings back to mind 1991, when the 6-5 Dallas Cowboys, losers of consecutive road games marching into Washington D.C. to play a third against the 11-0 Washington Redskins, who by the way were on their way to winning a Super Bowl title that season.
And just might have done so as the first 19-0 team had the overwhelming underdog Cowboys not kicked their headdress feathers, 24-21, that Sunday before Thanksgiving.
Did they come in playing conservatively, just trying not to lose?
Oh, contraire. On this day they were swashbuckling roughriders, then head coach Jimmy Johnson deciding before the game that they would not cower to a soul nor any Redskins.
Afterward, here is what Jimmy stated he said beforehand:
“I told the players, ‘Don’t ever hit a guy lightly. If you have a big ol’ gorilla in front of you, you don’t tap him on the shoulder.’ And I threw a punch at [guard] John Gesek, and I told them, “If I hit him lightly, I’ll get killed. I’d better take my best shot.’
“Teddy Roosevelt said one time, don’t ever hit lightly.”
OK, Jimmy had a master’s in psychology, not history, sort of twisting Roosevelt’s line about “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
But you get the idea, right? Don’t be taking a twig into a shootout.
That day the Cowboys went for it on fourth down three times. They eschewed a 51-yard field goal at the end of the first half for a “Hail Mary” into the end zone that Alvin Harper pulled in for a touchdown. They successfully executed an onside kick. And defensively, they did not sit back in fear of a Redskins offense that had scored 97 points the previous two weeks, coming with blitzes and stunts they had not shown the entire season.
Oh, and did I mention that even after Troy Aikman went down early in the third quarter with a sprained knee, offensive coordinator Norv Turner did not baby backup Steve Beuerlein, having him immediately firing aggressively down field, even without the services of injured tight end Jay Novacek and injured guard Nate Newton. They even had the audacity to attack Pro Bowl corner Darrell Green, wide receiver Michael Irvin burning his man-coverage with nine catches for 130 yards and a huge 22-yard scoring grab from Beuerlein to provide clinching separation late in the game.
And get this, Cowboys linebacker Jack Del Rio at the time, eerily now the Broncos defensive coordinator, said afterward, “I was just happy we didn’t go into a shell and play conservatively.
“We attacked, gave them everything we had.”
Shhhh, don’t tell Jack. Don’t remind him of the gorillas and the stick and the “best shots.”
And please don’t tell him “Hatch” has been doing a slow burn all week in continued defiance, insisting as he was stewing, “We’re not a pushover team at all. We’re definitely ready to play.”
So, almost time to sound that trumpet, sing the anthem and aggressively barge onto the AT&T Stadium field with them big sticks.
Don’t you think?
EVALUATING THE TEXAS-2 DEFENSE: Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli coaching havoc and reaping rewards
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys are getting exactly what they want out of their new defensive coaching additions, while the defensive mind they let go is excelling elsewhere. Consider that a win through three weeks for both parties.
The Dallas defense resides in the top 10 in the league in sacks and takeaways led by new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, while the coordinator the Cowboys let go has shifted New Orleans’ putrid defense of last year to the No. 5 total defense in the NFL this season.
In the minds of some, former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan didn’t do a lousy job in Dallas last year. Fact remains, the Cowboys weren’t happy with the lack of pressure and thought they should upgrade.
The front office (Jerry Jones) stressed an emphasis on takeaways after creating just 16 all of last season. They now have seven through three games with Kiffin and Marinelli, due in large part to the havoc created by the defensive line, as the Cowboys sit atop the NFC with 13 sacks. They’re also tied for sixth in turnover differential at plus-3 with a top-10 scoring defense.
Kiffin and Marinelli insisted they didn’t need a defensive lineman in the draft to conjure the kind of pressure they needed on their defense. Even without Jay Ratliff or Anthony Spencer, they’ve been exactly right. DeMarcus Ware is back to his old form and the switch to defensive end may even help him reach the quarterback more often.
The defensive coaches continue to get elite play at defensive tackle out of Jason Hatcher, who’s tallied a sack in each of the team’s first three games, while turning Nick Hayden and George Selvie into legitimate starters.
Selvie said he feels he has a coach in Marinelli who believes in him, and that coach is getting the best out of his group. It’s obvious, and head coach Jason Garrett sees the same thing.
“He’s just an excellent football coach and teaching is a big part of that, inspiring is a big part of that, seeing the real positive traits in people and getting them into situations where they can be successful,” Garrett said. “(Marinelli) helps them be successful by how he teaches them technically, how he teaches them physically, how he teaches them emotionally.”
The Cowboys’ three interceptions may not seem like much, but that’s three times as many as they had through three weeks with Rob Ryan last season.
The colorful, boisterous defensive mind has to be a revered character in New Orleans, demonstrating his worth by changing the culture of the Saints’ defense. New Orleans allowed 440.1 yards per game and 28.4 points per game last season, and those numbers are down to 295.7 yards per game and 12.7 points per game so far.
Both sides are getting exactly what they wanted by fixing the problems of the past. It’s a small sample size, but the Cowboys and Saints are reaping every benefit they could have hoped for with their offseason defensive changes.
This should create quite a buzz (and another comparison) going into week 10 …
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THE MYSTIQUE OF AMERICA’S TEAM: NFL’s 1993-1994 NFC Championship–San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys
HISTORIC MOMENTS: NFL’s 1994 NFC Championship Game
On January 23, 1994 the Dallas Cowboys defeated the San Francisco 49er’s 38-21, and Jimmy Johnson’s famous “How bout them Cowboys!” quote from the previous year’s NFC Championship Game in Candlestick Park.
Editors comment: As a reader pointed out, the original title of this post suggested that this NFC Championship lead to the “Making of America’s Team.” In fact, the term “America’s Team” became popular after Bob Ryan (of NFL Films) used it while preparing the Cowboys 1978 season highlight film. Also, Jimmy Johnson’s “How ’bout them Cowboys” quote came after the 1992-1993 NFC Championship Game in San Francisco.
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HOMERS POINT OF VIEW: Cincinnati headline – Bengals first-team struggles in Dallas dress rehearsal
ARLINGTON, TEXAS — After solid victories in the first two preseason games, the Bengals looked like they were roaring along as they went into Saturday night’s contest against Dallas in what is commonly known as the dress rehearsal game.
Instead, the Bengals put on a display that brought their roar down to a meow. Maybe, the DJ at AT&T Stadium was on to something when they played the Meow Mix theme as the Bengals came on the field before the game.
The 24-18 loss to the Cowboys also reinforced an old equation – when you commit four turnovers and your defense can’t get off the field on third down, you aren’t going to win many games.
“Now, we can quit having all that smoke puffed up our butts and we can get to work,” coach Marvin Lewis said after the game. “There were some bright spots during the game. We did some things well but not enough, long enough.”
Two of the turnovers were committed by the first team offense. Marvin Jones fumbled deep in Dallas territory on the opening drive and Andy Dalton threw his first interception of the preseason on a deep ball intended for Mohamed Sanu.
Dalton and the first unit were in for 28 plays (16 pass, 12 run). He finished 12 of 16 for 113 yards and a subpar passer rating of 68.0. The running game generated only 44 yards with 30 of that coming on the third-quarter drive that led to a Quinn Sharp 28-yard field goal. The first team was 0 for 2 scoring touchdowns in the red zone and their lone points came courtesy of a Quinn Sharp 28-yard field goal on their last series of the night.
“The fact we hurt ourselves is the biggest thing,” Dalton said. “You can look at all the bad but there are still some good stuff mixed in there. We did move the ball well, but didn’t get the points to show for it.”
Defensively, the Bengals (2-1) forced only two three-and-outs in 10 possessions. The Cowboys (2-2) were 9 of 16 converting third downs and all three of their touchdown passes came on third down – two by Tony Romo and one by Kyle Orton.
Dallas ran 75 plays and ended up having the ball for 39 minutes, 31 seconds.
“I don’t know if it was a lack of focus for us. We had some good plays, but on third down we just couldn’t get them off the field,” linebacker Vontaze Burfict said.
Added Lewis: “We’ve got to get to work and get our guys wind going to get ready for the opener. I thought it was a positive for the defense as they had to stay out there for a couple of long drives. Hopefully those are good opportunities for our defensive players to blow their pipes out pretty good.”
Tony Romo was 13 of 18 for 137 yards and two touchdowns in a half of work while Dez Bryant (6 receptions, 54 yards) and Miles Austin (4 receptions, 59 yards) each had a touchdown.
On the opening drive, Dalton and the offense looked like they were going to pick up from where they left off in the Tennessee game. Dalton completed his first six passes for 56 yards and got A.J. Green quickly involved on the second play with a 9-yard completion on a slant pass. Green finished with 3 receptions for 42 yards.
The drive ended without points though when Brandon Carr forced Marvin Jones to fumble after a 14-yard completion to the Dallas 4. It was the Bengals’ third lost fumble of the preseason.
On the ensuing drive, Dallas moved the ball to their own 30 when the Bengals got their second punt return touchdown of the preseason, this one by Brandon Tate.
Tate’s 75-yard punt return came courtesy of something that you only get at AT&T Stadium. On Chris Jones’ first punt he hit the giant scoreboard that hangs above the field, which brought about a rekick.
“(Special Teams Coordinator) Darrin (Simmons) always tells us that nothing good happens for the punt team on a re-kick, and we made them pay,” Tate said. “I give all the credit to the other 10 guys out there with me. Everybody blocked it perfectly, and all I had to do was find the hole and shoot through it. Nobody really had a good shot at me.”
After that, Dallas started to get things in gear. The Cowboys went on a 12-play, 87-yard drive which culminated in Romo’s first touchdown pass of the preseason, a 5-yarder to Bryant, who dominated Dre Kirkpatrick on the drive. Romo was 6 of 6 on the drive and Bryant had 5 receptions for 53 yards.
Dallas would take the lead late in the first half when Austin got past Taylor Mays in coverage and caught it in the back of the end zone. In the second quarter Romo was 8 of 13 for 98 yards and two touchdowns and the Cowboys were 4 of 6 on third-down conversions.
After Sharp’s field goal, Orton came on for Dallas and led a 14-play, 86-yard drive that culminated in a 7-yard touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray where there were a litany of missed tackles.
Josh Johnson came on midway through the third quarter and led the Bengals to a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, a 4-yard completion to Cobi Hamilton that was the final play of a 14-play, 60-yard drive. Ryan Whalen caught a two-point conversion from Johnson to bring the Bengals within a field goal. Hamilton atoned after he turned the ball over in the third quarter on a fumble after running a reverse for a 18-yard gain.
Dan Bailey added a 26-yard field goal to put the margin up to six with 52 seconds remaining. After a Dane Sanzenbacher return gave the Bengals good field position, they drove the ball to the Dallas 49 before Johnson was picked off by Xavier Brewer. Johnson was hit by Landon Cohen as he threw the ball.
Courtesy: Joe Reedy | Bengals beat writer | Cincinnati Enquirer
POSTGAME VIDEO LINKS FROM CINCINNATI:
Marvin Lewis postgame 8/24: Marvin Lewis after the Bengals 24-18 loss at Dallas
Andy Dalton postgame 8/24: Andy Dalton after the Bengals 24-18 loss at Dallas
HOMERS POINT OF VIEW: The Walkthrough – Dallas Preview Edition (Cincinnati Enquirer)
It will be wheels up this afternoon for Team Enquirer as photographer Jeff Swinger and I head to Dallas for tomorrow night’s game against the Cowboys.
This will be my second trip to JerryWorld. Yes, it is an impressive stadium and you can catch yourself watching most of the game on the big screen instead of down on the field. When it comes to sheer size and scope, it is tops in the NFL but if you are grading it on fan experience and watching a game, to me it would be fourth. I think Seattle, Kansas City and Baltimore are better.
Weather wise, this should be a better trip compared to two years ago when I went to Dallas for the Super Bowl. During the early part of Super Bowl week, the Dallas-Fort Worth area was hit with snow and ice storms, which made the highways treacherous. That wasn’t good since it was billed as a North Texas Super Bowl and everything was far flung.
ONE NOTE ABOUT SATURDAY
Due to our deadlines, the game will not be completed in time for Sunday’s paper. A game story and notebook will be available on Cincinnati.Com following the game and there will be more coverage in Monday’s paper.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH ON SATURDAY
How much will A.J. Green play? Probably not as much as the rest of the first unit. As Lewis noted on Thursday, he has a number of snaps in mind for each position group depending on the depth and a player’s experience. Plus, Green doesn’t need much work in game conditions. Just kick the tires, get out there for a couple series, catch a pass or two and call it a day.
Can the first-team defense get a sack? There hasn’t been much pressure on the quarterback during the first two games. Geno Atkins has applied some pressure but they have yet to get a sack. The line though has not been at full strength in the preseason, particularly at defensive end. Carlos Dunlap has missed both games and Michael Johnson was out against Tennessee. Both should play against the Cowboys but Robert Geathers has not practiced this week.
Does Shawn Williams emerge at safety? With George Iloka doubtful for tonight’s game, Shawn Williams and Taylor Mays will get another prime opportunity to show what they can do. Williams led the Bengals with 10 tackles last week and continues to show progress. Mays has had flashes of good play but also some painful lapses in coverage. Iloka still has the advantage for the starting spot at strong safety, but the gap is starting to close.
Offensive Bubble Player to keep an eye on: Running back Rex Burkhead grew up in nearby Plano and is used to playing in AT&T Stadium. Burkhead is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and has two runs of 15 yards or more during the preseason. He remains in a battle with Dan Herron for the final running back spot but might the edge based on if Burkhead were to be waived, the odds are pretty good that he would get claimed by another team.
Defensive Bubble Player to keep an eye on: Cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris has had a good training camp, but the highest exposure he has received came during the fourth quarter of last week’s game when he bit on a double move by Michael Preston that resulted in a 46-yard touchdown. If the Bengals keep 10 defensive backs, it will likely come down to which DB plays best over the final two games – Lewis-Harris or Mays.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Dallas Cowboys
Kickoff: 8 p.m., AT&T Cowboys Stadium – Arlington, TX
Local TV: WKRC-TV (Channel 12)
Local Radio: WCKY-AM (1530), WEBN-FM (102.7).
Series: Second preseason meeting. Dallas won the 2010 Hall of Fame Game 16-7.
Note: Bengals are 22-20 in preseason games under Marvin Lewis.
Not expected to play: OT Andrew Whitworth (knee), DE Robert Geathers (unspecified), CB Brandon Ghee (concussion), LB Sean Porter (shoulder), WR Andrew Hawkins (ankle), FB Chris Pressley (PUP/knee), QB Zac Robinson (PUP/elbow), HB Bernard Scott (PUP/knee).
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Taylor Mays has had plenty of camera time on Hard Knocks as he faces another reality — life on the roster bubble.
There is something of interest related to Adam Jones’ case. The attorney representing the alleged victim in the case was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday.
Coming Sunday, Paul Daugherty tells the story of Reggie Williams who, after 24 knee surgeries and years of pain, won’t accept losing his leg.
Courtesy: Joe Reedy | Cincinnati Enquirer
(Photographs courtesy: Cincinnati Enquirer)
About Joe Reedy
Joe Reedy took over as The Enquirer’s Bengals beat writer in 2009 after covering the University of Kentucky and doing an NFL picks column. Reedy’s previous NFL experience includes covering the Jets for The Post-Star in Glens Falls, NY (1997-98) and Jaguars for The Gainesville Sun (1999). The Youngstown native lives in Burlington and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Board of Selectors.
GAMEDAY CHATTER: Cowboys expect to full blitz package from Zimmer, Bengals
The Dallas Cowboys are calling this week’s matchup against the Bengals at the dress rehearsal for the season. The starters will play into the third quarter.
It will certainly be a good test for the Cowboys reshuffled offensive line, considering Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer and his blitz happy ways.
Zimmer, a former Cowboys defensive coordinator, has been very aggressive all preseason and will likely continue to be aggressive on Saturday.
The Cowboys are not going to game plan for game but they will rely on their traditional rules and keys for handling the blitz.
“On Yeah, Zim’s an aggressive, competitive guy,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “He brought it all in the first preseason games. That’s just his nature. He’s brought it all since I’ve known him. That’s what makes Zim great. You’ve got to be ready for that stuff. We watched some of the game from last year. We watched the first two games. You have to be ready for anything. One of the things we believe in is hopefully you’ve structure your offensive and defensive systems in such a way that you don’t have to game plan. You can kind of go by your rules to handle all of the different things you may or may not see. So hopefully we will be able to do that as a football team.”
CANTON COWBOYS: Dallas teammates proud of Hall of Fame inductee’s Larry Allen and Bill Parcells
CANTON, Ohio – The Dallas Cowboys had two members of this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony, including arguably the best guard in NFL history.
First-ballot inductee Larry Allen, who was one of the quietest players in front of the camera throughout his career, shocked everyone with a 16-minute speech that mixed in some emotions and humor to offset his evident nerves.
Bill Parcells went for nearly 25 minutes, the longest of the seven speeches.
Both Allen and Parcells were well represented by former Cowboys colleagues. A few former Cowboys linemen who played with Allen made an appearance, including Solomon Page, Tyson Walter, Kelvin Garmon and Nate Newton. Other Allen teammates included Russell Maryland, Darren Woodson, La’Roi Glover and Jay Novacek, along with Hall of Fame members Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin.
Current Cowboys players such as Tony Romo and Jason Witten also stayed to watch the speeches. Both players were teammates of Allen and played for Parcells.
Here are some quotes from various former and current members of the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night’s inductees:
Nate Newton on Larry Allen:
Man, Larry was great. He did what he needed to do. He was super. I really loved it. He opened it up with a joke. He closed it out with seriousness. He handled it, man. It was great. I loved it – that 40 ounce was cold-blooded.
I was nervous for him. The bet was, how long he was going to go. I had nine minutes. He did a good job. That was always the Larry that we knew. He was quiet, short on words, but he got his point across. When we had some private moments with just he and I, he talked more. But he wasn’t that boisterous guy but you knew he would do his job. I’m so proud of him. I’ve always said he was the best football player I’ve ever played.
Darren Woodson on Bill Parcells:
I tell everyone that ever listens, in my one year with Bill, I learned more from Bill in that season than I had in all of my career. When he came in, it totally changed the way I looked at the game. I tell him all the time and every time I see him, he showed me how to study film and what to be looking for. In my opinion, he was the best coach I ever played for.
We were wondering if it would be 30 seconds? A minute? 90 seconds? I was getting texts from teammates all day about it. But he was tremendous. I think he captured what made him great. He is such a prideful person. That was the biggest contributing factor to how good a player he was.
I knew he had a lot of people to thank. I think he did a great job. I’m proud of him. I’m very happy for him. He was a funny guy. He was just a great guy. We battled every Wednesday and Thursday during the week. Then on game day it was easy because we practiced each other so hard.
Jason Witten on Bill Parcells
It was a special feeling. Obviously coming into the league under a guy like him, you learn so much. He was a legendary coach before he got to Dallas, but he had a huge impact on a lot of us. I think I’m the player I am today because of the impact he had. It was neat to see him at this moment.
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones on Larry Allen:
What I love is that everybody got to see what Larry Allen was all about. That’s probably more than he said in 12 years with the Cowboys. It was amazing.”
EVE OF THE ENSHRINEMENT: Gil Brandt’s 50 memories for the Pro Football Hall of Fame 50th anniversary
Gil Brandt has watched the Pro Football Hall of Fame grow with the game since it opened in 1963 — and he had an up-close-and-personal view in his capacity as a key member of the Dallas Cowboys’ front office. In honor of the Hall of Fame’s 50th anniversary, Gil offers 50 thoughts and memories about the Hall that he’s accumulated over the decades as a football lifer.
STANDOUT HALL OF FAMERS
1) The Hall of Fame is full of guys with great backgrounds, but one of my favorite personal stories belongs to Rayfield Wright (Class of 2006), who was, of course, a key cog on the Dallas Cowboys when I was with the team. At his enshrinement, he told the story of how he was ready to quit football before his Fort Valley State coach kind of turned him around, getting him to play safety and tight end — and then he ended up getting into the hall as an offensive lineman. Fittingly, he had his college coach introduce him at the Hall.
2) One of the first players I saw who I knew was going to get into the Hall someday was Forrest Gregg, the longtime Green Bay Packers offensive lineman who spent a season with the Cowboys at the end of his career. I saw him at SMU and then as a rookie. He probably played the offensive tackle position as well as anyone, period — as good as Johnny Unitas was at quarterback. Obviously, offensive tackles don’t get the attention quarterbacks get, but I thought Gregg was probably the best.
3) If I had to pick the best class, I’d have to say it was the first class, from 1963, just because of all the people in it: guys like Sammy Baugh, George Halas, Don Hutson, Curly Lambeau, John (Blood) McNally, Bronko Nagurski and Jim Thorpe.
4) I also liked the Class of 1994, because it included two Cowboys, Tony Dorsett and Randy White, plus a third guy, Jackie Smith, who ended his career in Dallas. I liked that class a lot.
5) The Class of 2000 had really good players: Howie Long, Ronnie Lott, Joe Montana and Dave Wilcox, plus Dan Rooney. Wilcox was one of those guys who fought for success the hard way after starting out at Boise Junior College.
6) Roger Staubach is one of the Hall of Famers who wowed me the most on the field, though of course he had plenty of chances to do so, given how much time I spent watching him. I also thought Deacon Jones and Ray Nitschke were special.
7) When it comes to the guys we can see on old film, one of the most impressive Hall of Famers is Arnie Weinmeister, who played defensive tackle for the New York and Brooklyn Yankees football teams in the 1940s before joining the New York Giants in the ’50s. He was just the toughest guy.
8) The best quarterback in the Hall is Roger Staubach. First of all, he came back to the game after being in the armed forces for five years, which is something, because historically, guys never came back from breaks like that without losing a step or two. Staubach was the catalyst for the Cowboys; he was a great leader, both on and off the field — even the guys on the other teams respected him greatly.
9) One of the best non-quarterbacks in the Hall has to be Eric Dickerson. He was a dominant guy; he was Adrian Peterson during a time when it was much harder to be Adrian Peterson, because we didn’t have things like motion or do things like split people out.
10) Also, of course, there was Jim Brown. What Jim Brown did was unbelievable, especially when you consider that offensive linemen had to block with their shoulders at the time.
11) Other standouts: Merlin Olsen, a 14-time Pro Bowler who was simply a dominant factor for his team, and Bob Lilly, who was light years ahead of his time. Lilly was bigger, faster and quicker than anybody you’ll ever see.
12) The most impactful coach/contributor in the Hall is George Halas. He helped form the league and run the league, and he dictated policy. Plus, he was a great coach for the Chicago Bears.
13) Ray Nitschke was one of the more influential players in the Hall in terms of being the leader at the luncheon on enshrinement weekend. I think it was his idea to have the luncheon on Friday. Deacon Jones took over that role from Nitschke. It will be interesting to see who takes up the mantle this year, now that Jones is gone.
14) Of course, I like to think that I have about 85 good friends in the Hall (because I think I know just about every guy in there), but one of my best friends is probably Green Bay Packers fullback Jim Taylor. I’ve known him a long time. You know, when you’ve competed against somebody and he’s beaten you twice for the right to go to the Super Bowl, he tends to stick out in your mind.
2013-2014 TRAINING CAMP UPDATE: Jason Garrett press conference–Day 4 review
Jason Garrett Press Conference – 7-24-2013 (Duration – 20:06)
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media during his daily press conference in Oxnard, California. Garrett discussed:
- Which players are due back from injuries/rehab this week
- Ben Bass and his upcoming role in this defense
- Kyle Wilbur development
- Versatility factors of defensive linemen in this scheme
- Defensive ends vs. right or left handed strategy
- Dialing back and developing Matt Johnson in the secondary
- How Dez Bryant’s passion in practice translates to game day
- Sean Lee and J.J. Wilcox comparison to Bill Bates mentality
- Dez’s leadership and influence on other players on the roster
- Describing Monte Kiffin and the passion he brings to the defense
- A little lesser-known history about Monte Kiffin;
- How team captains are determined each year
- The differences to expect this season from new Special Teams coach
- Traits of special teams coaches Rich Bisaccia and Joe Avezanno
- Dez Bryant vs. Mo Claiborne battle – making each other better
- Current edge that veteran Brandon Carr has over most corners
- Adjusting to practicing with full pads and other required gear
- Rapport with Dez and Tony Romo evolving
- Shoring up the roster with newly signed defensive linemen
- Strategy for working Jay Ratliff back into the lineup
- Eric Rodgers fit into Garrett’s the right-kind-of-guy mold
- New, strict accountability system for pre-snap penalties (both sides of ball)
- Collective style regarding all coordinators and coaches
- J.J. Wilcox comparison to late Sam Mills, style of safeties and linebackers
- inside information on today’s activity from training camp, and
- how the Dallas Cowboys 2013-2014 roster is shaping up.
Click HERE to watch video … Click HERE to listen to the audio
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INTERVIEWER’S INSIGHT: Bill Parcells still admires Jerry Jones’ Passion
IRVING, Texas – Now down to just a handful of days before the start of training camp, the questions, projections and predictions of the Cowboys’ 2013 season are starting to surface even more.
This is the time of year for that. Forecasting and finger-pointing go hand and hand. And for the Cowboys, the person that gets most of the criticism, if not the vast majority, is owner/general manager Jerry Jones.
The Cowboys have won just one playoff game since 1996 – that stat gets pointed out in just about every setting possible – and the man behind it all is Jones.
Publicly, he’s the man who fired Tom Landry. He’s the one who couldn’t get along with Jimmy Johnson and he’s the one making all the decisions – especially the wrong ones – that have prevented the Cowboys from climbing that proverbial mountain.
But according to one of the more well recognized coaches that ever worked for him, there is a big misperception to how things operate at Valley Ranch.
Bill Parcells, who is about to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month, coached in Dallas four years and said his time with the Cowboys was “enjoyable.” He also spoke of that misperception between Jerry and his head coaches.
“Oh yeah, definitely. I think it’s distorted,” Parcells said. “I think there’s a definite misperception. I just think everyone thinks things are a certain way. I didn’t see it to be that way. I think Jerry is a good businessmen and a good listener. What you have to do is make sense to him. You’ve got to make sense to him. If he thinks you’re making sense, he’ll alter his opinion. I enjoyed him. I like him. I like him a lot.”
Parcells coached the Cowboys from 2003-06, putting them in the playoffs twice with three winning records. Although he decided to stop coaching the team in 2006, Parcells said he remains friends with the Cowboys’ owner to this day.
“I liked my experience there,” Parcells said. “It didn’t turn out perfect from a record-standpoint. I understand all of that. But I learned a lot and I enjoyed working there.
“Jerry and I are pretty good friends. I don’t know whether or not people know that. We talk a little bit. I wouldn’t say frequently. We talk a little bit. We talked recently. It’s good. And I’m close with Stephen [Jones], too. I enjoyed working there with the Joneses. They were supportive and tried to help.”
One of things Jerry gets criticized for the most is the way he apparently dabbles into the Cowboys’ every-day business, although as the general manager, it is certainly within his job description. Jerry is a hands-on owner and GM but according to Parcells, that passion is what drew him to the Cowboys job in the first place.
“We had some mutual friends. I was very close with Al Davis and I know Jerry was, too,” Parcells recalled. “I had a little background information from Al – not about working for the Cowboys, just about what they were trying to do. I knew he had a lot of passion for his work and his job and his organization. I could name a few organizations I don’t feel that about. The owner is just blasé about ‘if we win we win, good; if we don’t, that’s all right.’
“But Jerry isn’t like that. You want to be somewhere where it’s important to the people and certainly it’s a high-profile franchise without question. I just felt like those are the kinds of things I look forward to. I was trying to do something at a place like that. I like them. I think they’re a good group. I think they’re passionate. I think they’re trying to be successful in the business. Hey, that’s all a coach can ask for.”
If there is anyone who might be able to compare coaching situations, it would be Parcells, who led four different teams: the Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys. Parcells also worked in the front office of the Dolphins.
But although the NFL doesn’t make players or coaches distinguish what team they are associated with for the Hall of Fame the way baseball does, Parcells makes it clear.
“I’m going in as a Giant,” Parcells said. “That was a place I spent 10 full years, two as an assistant and eight as a head coach. I certainly didn’t spend more than four years anywhere else. I think, identification-wise, I’m more with the Giants than any other franchise, just because of longevity.”
Parcells also says he was ahead of the time in terms of NFL coaches today. He sees coaches and players bouncing around from team to team much more than they did in the past.
“I was a product of what you see around the league now,” Parcells said. “When I first came into the league, the league wasn’t as transient in nature – players or coaches. Coaches stayed at one place and players stayed in one place. But with free agency and different ownership, the dynamic of the industry has changed a little bit. It’s become more transient in nature. You see a guy like Mike Shanahan … he’s a head coach in three different places. You see more of that than what you used to. It’s just the nature of the business. It’s a little more volatile and a little more transient. Change is a little more on the forefront than it was 30 years ago.”
Parcells showed he was never one to avoid change. He actually embraced it. And while he’s gone through many stops along the way, his time in Dallas gives him fond memories.
Although the Cowboys might have several problems facing them as they head into this season, there are many pundits who believe the GM might be the biggest issue.
There is one soon-to-be-inducted Hall of Fame coach who would disagree.
Courtesy: Nick Eatman | Dallas Cowboys staff writer
ANALYST’S INSIGHT: Stephen Jones helped Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells help each other
IRVING, Texas — If you haven’t had the opportunity to read Nick Eatman’s interview with Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, you need to find time to do so.
The piece was well written and points out the relationship that Parcells had with Jerry and Stephen Jones during his time as the head coach of the Cowboys. I thought his answers were honest and truthful but more importantly, accurate about his feelings toward the Joneses.
Bill Parcells was not an easy man to work for, but neither was Tom Coughlin, and I respected what they accomplished in their years in the NFL. Parcells was unique because he always had a plan in mind.
If you remember those teams under Dave Campo, we had no plan nor did we have any direction. During his seasons in Dallas, Parcells gave us both. Sure there were times he was stubborn and his ego got in the way, but it was honestly for the betterment of the team.
I have always said that one of Jerry Jones’ greatest traits was his ability to listen, but you can also say that it’s one of his greatest faults. Parcells had Jones’ ear, but in turn, Parcells was the same with Jones.
What Parcells did better than anyone I had ever worked with is that he understood how to play the game. Parcells was a master at getting what he wanted but he also knew that getting what he wanted also came with a price.
In my time with both of these gentlemen, it was always interesting to see that dynamic at work. There was a huge amount of give and take between these two, and both of them went to work each day with that understanding.
If there was a buffer between Parcells and Jerry Jones, it was Stephen Jones. I have always called Stephen the voice of reason, who is a clear thinker and always has the big picture in mind. Parcells showed a great deal of respect for Stephen, and, when he became frustrated with Jerry, would knock on Stephen’s door and voice his views.
Stephen had a way of calming Parcells down and working through the issues with him. Stephen was also able to take Parcells’ ideas to Jerry and explain them in a way that would help him understand where he was coming from. Stephen was outstanding for both parties and the reason why many things were accomplished between Bill and Jerry.
Parcells was absolutely correct in his assessment of Jones as an owner. He is willing to do everything in his power to give the head coach the opportunity to win. In my time with them both, it was rare that Parcells didn’t get the players he wanted.
Huge free agency dollars were spent on guys like Marco Rivera, Anthony Henry, Jason Ferguson — all Parcells players. Money was spent on Ryan Young, who was broken down but Parcells wanted to sign.
Terry Glenn, Ritchie Anderson, Drew Bledsoe and Vinny Testaverde were all players brought in by Parcells. I remember the previous year in 2004, during free agency, when Parcells didn’t want to sign anyone because there was no value there to be signed, although Jones was willing to spend the money. We were coming off a playoff season but Parcells wanted to stand pat, and Jones granted the wishes of his coach.
In looking back during those years Parcells was here, Jerry Jones made the right decision in hiring a big-time coach but more so, he hired a man who brought us creditability.
Jerry Jones helped Bill Parcells and Parcells did the same for Jones. It wasn’t always easy but it was truly necessary at the time. There were so many that believed this partnership would have never worked but to both men’s credit, it did. It’s nice to see that the respect still remains throughout the years.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout
INDUCTEE’S INSIGHT: Bill Parcells says Dallas Cowboys are "lucky" to have Jerry Jones
In his 25 years as Dallas Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones has hired seven head coaches. One becomes a Hall of Famer next month.
Bill Parcells spent four years with the Cowboys and still speaks fondly of Jones despite the differences they had, among them the signing of Terrell Owens.
“He’s a straightforward, honest guy,” Parcells said of Jones during a conference call about his induction into Canton. “He really is. That’s all I look for. He was very supportive of me as a coach. Now were there things going on that occasionally I didn’t like? Yeah, there were, but that didn’t inhibit me from going to him, talking things out. He’s really great about that.”
The Cowboys have won three Super Bowls since Jones took over ownership in 1989, but their last championship season was in 1995. The Cowboys were 34-30 with Parcells as their coach from 2003-06 with two first-round playoff losses.
But Parcells’ tenure helped usher in Cowboys Stadium as Arlington voters approved a tax increase in 2004 to pay the city’s $325 million share of the billion-dollar project. The stadium opened in 2009 to rave reviews.
Parcells defends Jones, citing the owner’s passion for winning.
“I have a high regard for him,” Parcells said. “He has a tremendous amount of passion for the franchise, and I think the people are lucky to have him, lucky to have him as an owner, because [owners are] not all the same. I can tell you that. Having a guy like that and what he tries to do on a yearly basis there is great.”
Parcells, 71, was 65 when he resigned as Cowboys coach after a heartbreaking loss to the Seahawks in 2006 when Tony Romo’s botched hold denied Martin Gramatica a chance for a 19-yard, go-ahead field goal with 1:14 remaining. The Cowboys went 13-3 the next season under Wade Phillips but were upset by the Giants in a divisional playoff game.
Parcells, though, doesn’t look back with any regret on leaving when he did. He never returned to the sideline, though he was executive vice president of football operations for the Dolphins from 2008-10.
“I was at a different age,” Parcells said of leaving the Cowboys. “To me, I’m trying to win the championship, and when you lose like we lost that game, and I’m down the road coaching-wise and age-wise and quite frankly energy-wise at that time, I think about all the things that you’ve got to do just to get back to where you were at that moment, and sometimes it’s a little bit overwhelming. I just decided, you know what, that’s enough, and I’m getting off the field, and this time I stayed off the field. I still like football I still watch it and with interest and all those things.”
LIVING LEGEND: Danny White always seems to end up with the Dallas Cowboys (Special Feature)
The path Danny White took from Arizona State to becoming the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys made San Francisco’s Lombard Street look like a drag strip.
Selected in the third round of the 1974 NFL draft, the odds White would see much playing time under center as a rookie were lessened due to the presence of veteran quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Craig Morton.
If anyone ever needed a Plan B …
“It was just pretty obvious that I wasn’t going to be playing anytime soon. And then it kind of came down to money,” said White. “John Bassett, who was one of the founders of the World Football League and the owner of the Memphis team, called and basically offered twice what the Cowboys had offered. So between the money and the opportunity to play it just seemed like the best thing to do.”
After two seasons, the WFL closed shop, and White discovered he was still in Dallas’ plans as well as its Rolodex.
“The Cowboys immediately called after the league folded and basically doubled their offer,” White said. “I had the experience and Craig Morton had just been traded, so everything just kind of fit. It was almost like it was kind of meant to be.”
Eventually. After signing with Dallas in 1976, White took over the punting duties and watched Staubach from the sideline. Did he find it tough to be in No. 12’s shadow?
“By the time I had been backing him up for four years, it was getting difficult,” said White. “I had a meeting with Coach Landry and told him that I was to the point where I felt like I needed to play. I was six years out of college and if I wasn’t going to be playing there soon I wanted him to consider trading me.
“I loved being with the Cowboys, so I had mixed feelings about it. But I knew that my time was running out. I needed to start competing. Roger always made it seem like I was competing with him. To his credit, he’d always say things like, ‘I can’t let you get in a game or I’ll never get back in.’
“And he would compete. It wasn’t like he was just there and it was his job. He never took on that kind of an attitude. He treated me like a competitor, like an equal. He was a great mentor for me in that respect.”
Playing with the Cowboys for 13 seasons, White passed for 21,959 yards, 155 touchdowns and 132 interceptions, and was chosen for the Pro Bowl in 1982. He led Dallas to three consecutive NFC Championship Games [1980-82] and to the playoffs on two other occasions before retiring in 1989.
“My favorite memories were things that happened as a result of being a Dallas Cowboy with my teammates,” said White.
Video: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White catches a touchdown pass from Ron Springs in this Oct. 23, 1983, game against the Los Angeles Raiders at Texas Stadium
“As far as games go, that first season (as a starter in 1980) was a dream season for me. I inherited a great team and all the pieces were there. I remember thinking, ‘This is easy. It is like shooting fish in a barrel.’ Of course, that would change by the end of my career, but at least those first few years were.
Video: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White and the plays AFTER ‘The Catch’
“The Atlanta playoff game [1980: 30-27 win] was a great game. The 49ers game with ‘The Catch’ was a great game, too [1981: 28-27 loss]. It was just great being part of that. I wish we would have come back and won that. We should have, but it was still a great experience.”
Video: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White fake punt vs. Washington Redskins
“I would have to say the highlight of my career was being a Dallas Cowboy. Being a part of that era and playing for Tom Landry. Things like that you don’t appreciate until many years later. I look back on that now and realize how lucky I was to play for that team and that coach at that time.”
Following a successful career as a head coach, general manager and team president in the Arena Football League, White is set to begin his third season as the radio analyst for Dallas’ games on Compass Media Networks.
“They approached me and I kind of thought twice about it and said, ‘You know what? I haven’t been real close with the Cowboys mostly because I live in Phoenix and here’s a chance to kind of get back in the fold,’” White said. “I loved what Jerry Jones had done with the new stadium and everything that had happened, so why not? Let’s do it for a year and see what happens.
“And so I did and I just loved it. I love being back in the Cowboy family. I love working with [play-by-play announcer] Kevin Burkhardt and the Compass people, Michelle Salvatore, who is our producer. Everything just kind of clicked.”
Having played in 166 regular-season games with the Cowboys, White has an on-the-job advantage in the broadcast booth. It’s that he’s done the job on the field.
“Knowing what’s going on in a quarterback’s head can be a huge, huge advantage,” said White. “Everyone is so quick to say, ‘Well, the guy was open and the ball was thrown over his head.’ Just knowing, you say, ‘Wait a minute. Maybe there’s a reason that the ball was thrown over his head.’ And you go back and look and sure enough there was a defensive lineman right in his face as he throws the ball. He can’t follow through. There’s always more to the story.
“Everybody’s so quick to judge the quarterback. The quarterback isn’t good one day and bad the next day. There are reasons for it and I think more than anything else that one single advantage of having played quarterback just gives you a whole different perspective on the game. You can counter some of those lazy critics that just want to say, ‘The ball was overthrown,’ or whatever the obvious is on the field.”
White and his wife, Jo Lynn, make their home in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, Ari. They have four children, Ryan, Geoff, Heather and Reed, and 13 grandchildren.
LEGACY OF AMERICA’S TEAM: Past and Present Dallas Cowboys add to the mystic
A grand ol’ back
Emmitt Smith owns almost every rushing record in the NFL. In his 15-year career, Smith had an NFL-record 11 consecutive seasons with 1,000 yards from 1991-2001. Smith accounts for nearly half of the Cowboys’ 23 1,000-yard seasons. Since he left Dallas in 2002, the Cowboys have had only one 1,000-yard rusher — Julius Jones in 2006.
Never forget 1995
In 1995, Michael Irvin had 1,603 receiving yards and Emmitt Smith rushed for 1,773 yards. They are the only running back-wide receiver combo to individually put up 1,600 yards in a single season. Both totals set franchise records that still stand today. In 1995, both Smith and Irvin had 11 100-yard games. Irvin’s total of 11 100-yard games mark set the single-season record for a receiver; it is a record that wasn’t matched until Calvin Johnson did so in 2012. The Cowboys finished the 1995 season with their fifth Super Bowl victory, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 in Super Bowl XXX
Pro Football Hall of Famer Roger Staubach led the NFL in passer rating (104.8) during his first full season as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback in 1971, a season in which the franchise captured its first Super Bowl with a 24-3 win over the Miami Dolphins. Staubach was the MVP of Super Bowl VI. Staubach’s impressive passer rating in 1971 would have ranked third in the NFL last season behind only Aaron Rodgers (108.0) and Peyton Manning (105.8). The list of quarterbacks who have never had a passer rating that high includes Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Dan Fouts and Jim Kelly. The number is also tops for a single season in Cowboys history, meaning it is higher than any passer rating of Tony Romo or Troy Aikman’s career.
The longest yard
Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett has the only 99-yard run in NFL history. It came at the Minnesota Vikings on Jan. 3, 1983 under some unique circumstances. First, it was on “Monday Night Football”, meaning much of the nation was watching. Second, the game was the final one of the entire strike-shortened 1982 season. Dorsett rushed for 153 yards in that game, but finished just short of the rushing title during the nine-game season with 745 yards, behind only Freeman McNeil and his 786 yards for the New York Jets.
HUMBLED AND HURT: With the Saints high-rolling offense, Rob Ryan can shoot for ‘average’
METAIRIE, La. — Rob Ryan figures his firing in Dallas will only help him relate to a Saints defense humbled by a historically bad season.
“I don’t like getting fired,” Ryan said Thursday during his first meeting with reporters since Sean Payton hired him in February to revamp New Orleans’ last-ranked defense. “I know I got my feelings hurt and so did our players. We’re looking to do something about it.”
The Saints gave up 7,042 yards in 2012, the most ever in a single season in the NFL. Payton has said that performance forced him to make a change at defensive coordinator, even though he felt bad letting Steve Spagnuolo go after only one highly unusual season.
Spagnuolo never got to coach with Payton, who was suspended all of last season in connection with the NFL’s bounty probe. Yet shortly after Payton was reinstated, the relatively calm, analytical Spagnuolo, who favored a read-and-react 4-3 defense, was replaced by Ryan, who runs a pressure-heavy 3-4 scheme (three down linemen, four linebackers).
Ryan also has been known to exhibit a brash demeanor more akin to that of Gregg Williams, the Saints’ defensive coordinator from 2009 to 2011.
“Personality-wise they are very similar,” Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “They’re cut from the same cloth in that they know that players and matchups are what defense is all about and they have a lot of personality and they’re aggressive in their play-calling.”
Williams often referred to himself as a disciple of retired coach Buddy Ryan, who ran the defense of Chicago’s 1985 Super Bowl championship team and later was a head coach for Philadelphia and Arizona. Rob Ryan is Buddy Ryan’s son, and New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s brother.
“They’re all from the same school, the Buddy Ryan defense, so there are a lot of similarities between what Gregg was running and what Rob is bringing,” Jenkins said. “But I think Rob has a few more wrinkles with the 3-4 and everything, and I think we’re going to have fun.”
Williams used to boast brazenly of how nasty he wanted his defenses to be, and wound up being a central figure in the NFL’s investigation into the Saints’ bounty program. The league said Williams administered the program, which paid cash bonuses for big plays, including heavy and sometimes injury-causing hits.
Ryan’s approach also fosters toughness, Jenkins said, and that is something Saints players embrace, even as they are mindful of the scrutiny they faced from the league in the past.
“There’s a line and you don’t cross it, but you want to get as close to that line as you can,” Jenkins said. “We definitely want to be a physical, feared defense.”
Because the Saints’ offense, designed by Payton and orchestrated by quarterback Drew Brees, is perennially among the NFL’s best, New Orleans has not always had to be good on defense to win.
They ranked 25th of 32 teams in 2009, when they won their only Super Bowl. They ranked 24th in 2011, when they went 13-3 and advanced to the divisional round of the NFC playoffs before falling to San Francisco in a thriller.
So Ryan, whose defense in Dallas ranked 19th last season, doesn’t need to work miracles, but he does need to make the Saints’ defense a little closer to average.
“It was bad last year,” Saints safety Roman Harper said. “There’s no sugar coating or anything like that, so we’ve got a lot of room to improve.”
Payton said he did a lot of research on Ryan, interviewing players and coaches who have worked with him, before concluding he would be right for the job.
“I like his passion,” Payton said. “I like the way players respond and I think he’s a perfect fit.”
Ryan has studied some of the schemes the Saints executed well under Williams and brought some of them back, even with the same terminology.
“I know our successes, where that’s been. It’s been a pressure team, I know that,” Ryan said. “But I also know we can do more with our coverage, and we have to.”
Jenkins said Ryan’s scheme better suits the strengths of Saints defenders, noting that the roster includes cornerbacks who can hold their own in single coverage long enough for Saints safeties, who’ve been effective blitzers, to disrupt quarterbacks.
If successful, Ryan could for the first time serve as a defensive coordinator on a winning team, something he never did while holding that post in Cleveland, Oakland and Dallas. However, he did win Super Bowls as a defensive assistant in New England.
“I’m fortunate enough to be with great program like the Saints, led by Sean Payton. I haven’t felt this way since I was in New England with Bill Belichick,” Ryan said. “I just feel like a sense of urgency. I can’t wait to give everything I have to this organization. I know everybody is on the same path.”
Mark your calendar …
Sunday Night Football matchup …
The Dallas Cowboys vs New Orleans Saints – November 10, 2013:
Click HERE to see the entire 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule.