Category Archives: Joe DeCamillis – Special Teams Coordinator

THREE LITTLE (JUICED) BEARS: Former Cowboys Joe DeCamillis, Martellus Bennett, and Jay Ratliff content being out of Hollywood atmosphere

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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.”

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DALLAS COWBOYS 2013-2014 ROSTER: Chris Jones should be ready to compete at punter

dallas cowboys punter chris jones punt is blocked in the seattle seahawks loss - the boys are back blog

Bryan Broaddus takes a closer look at Dallas Cowboys punter Chris Jones and how he fits into the team’s 2013 plans.

Name: Chris Jones
Position: Punter
Height/Weight: 6-0 / 208
Experience: 2 seasons
College: Carson Newman

Key stat: Chris Jones had just 12 punts last season, averaging 45.2 yards per punt with a 40.0 yard net average.

Contract status: Signed through 2013.

How he played in 2012: Chris Jones was one of those question marks in training camp that no one really wanted to talk about. Jones burst onto the scene replacing the injured Mat McBriar in 2011 and punted well enough to allow the front office to not extend McBriar in 2012 thus making him a free agent. To be honest there were days in Oxnard where it looked like that decision was a poor one because of what a weapon that McBriar had become over his years in Dallas and Jones just wasn’t punting consistent enough but he managed to make it to the start of the 2012 and really did a nice job opening night against the Giants. The next week against the Seahawks, Jones had a punt blocked when Dan Connor missed an assignment and the following week against the Buccaneers somehow managed to get a punt off that should have been blocked but it resulted in an injury to his left knee. In his final game of the 2012 season Jones was able to gut out the game against the Ravens after not practicing all week. Fortunately for Jones, he was only called on one time that day but the knee was too damaged to continue the rest of the season and Brian Moorman took over the punting and holding duties for the club. In four games Jones averaged 45 yards on 12 punts and was on his way to the type of season that the front office and coaches believed he was capable of having.

Where he fits in 2013: Gone is special teams coach Joe DeCamillis and Rich Bisaccia now takes over in that role. Jones had a big supporter in DeCamillis but there is no reason to believe that Bisaccia will feel different about Jones and what talent he has. What will also help Jones is that Chris Boniol is still on the staff and will be able to paint a pretty accurate picture of what Jones is to Bisaccia. I fully expect Jones to be the punter for this club in 2013 but the scouts might have seen someone in their travels this Fall that could compete for the job so we will see after the 2013 NFL Draft when we get into mini camps.      

Eatman’s Analysis:

Nick Eatman: He’s one of the injured players people forget about but he was missed. Sure, Brian Moorman has more experience but Jones was better at angling his punts with height and direction. He’s also a good holder for kicks so I would expect Jones should be the punter for this team next year.

Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout

SPECIAL TEAMS MOVE: Joe DeCamillis leaves Dallas Cowboys for Chicago Bears

dallas cowboys st coach joe decamillis on gameday - the boys are back blog

Change continues to sweep through Valley Ranch with Wednesday’s departure of special teams coach Joe DeCamillis to the Chicago Bears.

After the Cowboys released him from his contract, DeCamillis is now part of newly hired Bears coach Marc Trestman’s staff, agreeing to serve as special teams coach and assistant head coach.

DeCamillis is the third member of Jason Garrett’s staff to leave in the past two weeks and the first to do so without being fired. The Cowboys fired running backs coach Skip Peete and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan last week.

“I’m glad to have the opportunity to get there. I think it’s obviously a great situation,” DeCamillis said, according to ESPNDallas.com. “Dave (Toub) has already got the thing going; great tradition there. You’ve got awesome pieces to work with. So I’m excited to get there for sure.”

DeCamillis spent four seasons with Dallas.

HOT PROSPECT: Chicago Bears interested in talking to Joe DeCamillis about head coaching job

Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis is on the Chicago Bears list of head coaching candidates - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis is on the Chicago Bears list of head coaching candidates. Bears general manager Phil Emery has asked the Cowboys for permission to interview DeCamillis. (The Cowboys cannot deny the request since it is a head coaching position.)

DeCamillis and Emery worked together in Atlanta for three years, when Emery was the Falcons director of college scouting and DeCamillis the special teams coach there.

DeCamillis, 47, just completed his fourth season with the Cowboys. He also previously has been a special teams coach for the Broncos (1988-92), Giants (1993-96) and Jaguars (2007-08) besides his stint in Atlanta (1997-2006).

Dallas Cowboys ST coach Joe DeCamillis works with players in OTA's - The Boys Are Back blog

John Harbaugh was the Eagles special teams coach when the Ravens hired him as their head coach in 2008.

The Bears also reportedly will interview Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong, Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. Chicago fired Lovie Smith on Monday after Smith went 84-66 in nine seasons.

SPECIAL TEAMS CHANGE: Dez Bryant off punt return duty, for now

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant off punt return duty for now - The Boys Are Back blog

After two consecutive games with mistakes as a punt returner, Cowboys’ receiver Dez Bryant said those duties will fall to others Sunday against Atlanta.

Asked today if he was still a punter returner, Bryant said: “I don’t think so. But I promise you, man, I’m going to bet back in their ear. I’m going to get in their ear about that.”

Bryant, who has the team’s longest punt return of the season (44 yards), said he “wasn’t disappointed at all” when coaches told him they would continue to go with others in that role. Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley replaced Bryant in that role last week against New York after Bryant fumbled a punt one week after being scolded by coaches for using poor judgment during a return against Carolina.

“I was very understanding,” Bryant said. “But like I said, I’m going to get back in coach’s ear. I think it will be hard for him to tell me ‘no.’ I’m going to continue to keep working at it. It’s not hard for me to catch a punt. I just need to feel it in and stop looking up field and think before catching the rock. That should be my first objective, to catch the ball and then go make a play.”

POSTGAME ANALYSIS: Dez Bryant has best game as a pro, but time management ‘out of control’

Dallas Cowboys RB Felix Jones scores vs Baltimore Ravens - The Boys Are Back blog

The Dallas Cowboys had a chance to steal a victory in the final seconds but Dan Bailey’s 51-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide-left.

Here are my five thoughts on the Cowboys’ 31-29 loss in Baltimore on Sunday.

1.) The pre-snap penalties throughout the game and time management on the final drive was out of control. It wasn’t just the number of penalties but it’s when they occurred. In several red zone and third-down situations, false start calls stalled drives. That shouldn’t happen in Week 6. I’m not sure a team can win in a hostile environment when they’re making so many mistakes before the ball is snapped. Most of the blame goes on the players that committed the infractions but coaching and game-planning isn’t doing them any favors. Last week, Cowboys offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Callahan said there was talk of simplifying the offense so Tony Romo didn’t have to do as much adjusting at the line of scrimmage. Ha! That clearly didn’t happen, especially on Dallas’ final touchdown drive. Romo barely got two plays off because of confusion at the line of scrimmage. The way the Cowboys managed the clock on their final drive prevented Bailey from having a closer attempt to win the game.

These are four examples of costly pre-snap penalties the Cowboys committed in Baltimore.

1-Early second quarter: Third-and-4 on Baltimore’s 12. Illegal Shift, 5-yard penalty.

2-Early fourth quarter: First-and-10 on Baltimore’s 10. Illegal Shift, 5-yard penalty.

3-Late fourth quarter: Third-and-1 on Dallas’ 29. Jeremy Parnell, false start, 5-yard penalty.

4-Late fourth quarter: Third-and-22 on Baltimore’s 44. Kevin Ogletree, false start, 5-yard penalty.

2.) Yes, the running game looked outstanding, but don’t be fooled. The Ravens aren’t the defense they once were. Fresh off of allowing the Chiefs to run for 214 yards, the Cowboys amassed 227 yards on the ground. Having Phil Costa back at center obviously helped and running behind Tyron Smith and Nate Livings on the left side continued to be Dallas’ best option. DeMarco Murray was dominant early, Felix Jones looked like a first-round pick for the first time this season and Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar each filled in nicely. Sorry, I need to see this more often to believe it was all because of what the Cowboys were doing.

3.) Dez Bryant had a costly drop that would’ve tied the game on a two-point conversion, but he still played his best game as a Dallas Cowboy. Bryant caught all five passes thrown his way in the first half and finished with 13 catches on 15 targets. His two touchdown receptions showcased how his physical ability makes him one of the most difficult assignments for any defender. Bryant finished with 95 yards and a pair of scores after not recording a touchdown in the first four games of the year. There’s still a long way to go for Bryant to be a complete receiver, but dropping a two-point conversion pass with a defender draped on his back shouldn’t overshadow what he did before that play.

4.) This loss wasn’t only significant because there was an opportunity to steal a game in arguably the league’s toughest road venue but because of how difficult the schedule lines up over the next four weeks. The Cowboys will not be favored in three of their next four games as they host the Giants before traveling to Atlanta and Philadelphia. Losing three of their next four would put the Cowboys at 3-6, not exactly the recipe for a playoff berth. And Dallas’ current 2-3 mark is much worse historically than had they won and been 3-2. Teams that start 3-2 have a 51 percent chance of reaching the playoffs. Teams that start 2-3 have a 21 percent chance. Not good for a team with a closing window.

5.) My fifth thought is actually a combination of things. Hats off to Jason Witten. He has clearly put his dropped-passes issue in his rear-view mirror. Witten made two difficult grabs during the final touchdown-drive, including a diving catch on fourth-and-long. … How bad will the injury report look on Monday? Already without Anthony Spencer, Morris Claiborne exited with a left knee injury, DeMarco Murray barely played in the second half after sustaining a foot sprain and Sean Lissemore had his day ended with an ankle sprain in the first quarter. … Joe DeCamillis’ special teams unit isn’t the worst in the league but it’s also not very good. After the Cowboys cut Baltimore’s lead to 17-13, DeCamillis’ bunch allowed Jacoby Jones to return the ensuing kickoff untouched for 108-yard touchdown. The Cowboys get very little out of their own punt and kick returns, showcased by averages that rank among the NFL’s worst. They also allowed a punt to be blocked and returned for a touchdown in Seattle.

Courtesy: Jon Machota | DMN

DECISION MAKING PROCESS: Jerry Jones’ comments don’t bother or undermine Jason Garrett

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett 2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

That owner Jerry Jones would emphatically say that running Felix Jones would remain the team’s primary kickoff returner one day after coach Jason Garrett said the team would consider other options seemed to lend credence to the notion that the Cowboys have another puppet in place as coach.

Garrett, however, says he has no problems with Jones’ comments and doesn’t believe they undermine his authority. He said he and Jones talk about everything and the team will stick by Felix Jones for now because of his history of success, despite his struggles so far this year.

Garrett maintained they would get other options ready to go.

“One of the things that I think we do a really good job of in this organization is we discuss things,” Garrett said. “The Joneses and I discuss a lot of things. Our staff and I discuss a lot of things. We discuss a lot of things with our pro personnel and our college scouting departments. So the lines of communication are open. There’s no thing that’s going to be my decision or his decision or that guy’s decision or this guy’s decision. If we’re talking about a player playing, (coach) Joe DeCamillis has a huge role in who’s going to be our returner. Now is he going to make the decision? No. I’m going to get involved in that discussion. Other people are going to get involved in that discussion. It’s just the way it works. We think that’s a good thing. Different people have different perspectives and different insights and then we come to a conclusion that we all think is good. We’ve never had any issues that way regarding personnel or really any kind of decision we have to make as an organization.”

 

Video - Jason Garrett Press Conference - The Boys Are Back blog

Jason Garrett Press Conference 09/19 – Click on picture or HERE to watch video

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett kicks off the week of preparation for Tampa Bay by answering questions from the Dallas media. Duration 19:26

REPORT CARD: Dallas Cowboys self-destruct in second half, fail to get in sync

Murray

Rushing Offense – F

The Cowboys had a grand total of four rushing attempts in the second half, so Jason Garrett is going to get criticized for abandoning the run. But that’s what happens when a team has to come back from a multi-score deficit, especially when there isn’t any room to run anyway. DeMarco Murray had to earn every one of his 44 yards on 12 carries. The Seattle front seven whipped the Cowboys on a consistent basis. Oh, Felix Jones got his first carry of the season. He gained a whopping 1 yard.

Romo

Passing Offense – D-

Did the Seahawks slip in the infamous K ball while the Cowboys’ offense was on the field? How else to explain the drop-fest from the usually sure-handed Jason Witten and Dez Bryant? Bryant was a total bust (three catches, 17 yards). Week 1 hero Kevin Ogletree had one catch for 26 yards. Tony Romo’s numbers (23 of 40 for 251 yards and one touchdown with one interception) weren’t awful, but the big, tough Seattle secondary won its matchup with Dallas’ receivers, with Miles Austin’s TD catch being the exception. And Romo’s interception came on a bad decision to kill a drive in the red zone. Unlike last week, Romo couldn’t overcome protection that was poor on a regular basis.

Lynch

Rushing Defense – F

The good news: The Cowboys held Marshawn Lynch to 22 yards on 10 carries in the first half. The bad news: Lynch dominated the second half, gaining 100 yards on 16 carries as the Seahawks buried the Cowboys. Lynch busted a 36-yard run to set up Seattle’s touchdown in the third quarter, which made it a two-touchdown game. He had seven carries for 32 yards and a TD on the dagger drive, when the Seahawks marched 88 yards on 12 plays to go up by 20 points. The Dallas defense was simply dominated physically after halftime.

Ware-Wilson

Passing Defense – F

Rob Ryan and Co. made it easy for rookie QB Russell Wilson to play a poised, mistake-free game, completing 15 of 20 passes for 151 yards and a TD with no turnovers. The Cowboys rarely blitzed despite the undersized Wilson’s struggles against pressure in Seattle’s Week 1 loss. (According to ESPN Stats and Information, Wilson was 6-of-18 for 47 yards and was sacked three times when the Cardinals rushed five or more men.) Anthony Spencer got two sacks, but that was it for the Dallas pass rush despite the Seahawks playing with two backup offensive linemen. Perennial Pro Bowler DeMarcus Ware didn’t exploit his matchup against a second-string left tackle.

Jones

Special Teams – F

What is it with epic special teams disasters for the Cowboys in Seattle? It started off as poorly as possible with Felix Jones gift-wrapping a field goal for the Seahawks by losing a fumble on the opening kickoff. It got even worse soon, with backup linebacker Dan Connor getting beat to allow Seattle’s Malcolm Smith to block a punt. Jeron Johnson scooped and scored. Just like that, Joe DeCamillis’ guys handed the Seahawks a 10-point head start. Dez Bryant gained a grand total of two yards on two punt returns and was fortunate not to commit a turnover just before halftime. Punter Chris Jones had another strong performance, but special teams killed the Cowboys.

Garrett

Coaching – F

The head coach gets a big share of the blame when his team lays an egg like that after 11 days to prepare. It’s also fair to question whether Jason Garrett’s constant messages about mental toughness are really getting through after the Cowboys roll over like they did in the fourth quarter, when the Dallas offense had a couple of three-and-out series while the Seahawks ran 25 offensive plays. And defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s game plan was puzzling, to put it politely. Why play soft against a rookie quarterback who struggled badly when blitzed last week?

Tim MacMahon

THE TALE OF TWO HALVES: Five thoughts regarding todays loss to Seattle

Down, then out - Dallas Cowboys vs Seattle Seahawks - The Boys Are Back blog

The Cowboys had a chance to reach 2-0 for the first time since 2008 but came out flat against the Seahawks on Sunday. Here are my thoughts on the game.

1.) Why was it so difficult for Jason Witten and Dez Bryant to hold onto the football? The two were targeted a combined 17 times but came away with only seven catches. While some opportunities were difficult, both players dropped multiple passes that they normally catch. Bryant went the entire first half without a reception and then opened the third quarter by fumbling after a short grab. Fortunately for Bryant, Doug Free recovered. Strangely, Witten not only dropped several passes but he and Tony Romo weren’t on the same page during a drive shortly before halftime. It’s extremely surprising to see the Cowboys make these mistakes after playing so well against the Giants and having 10 days to prepare for the Seahawks.

2.) Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis rarely seems to be in a good mood at practice. And if it’s possible, his anger will probably be at a higher level when the team returns to Valley Ranch this week. Known for his expletive-filled rants, DeCamillis can’t be pleased with how his group started Sunday’s contest. First Felix Jones fumbled the opening kickoff, which led to a Seahawks field goal. Then, a Chris Jones punt was deflected and returned for a score after Dan Connor missed a block. The Cowboys never seemed to recover from that 10-0 hole.

3.) When it was announced shortly before the game that Seattle starting left tackle Russell Okung – the sixth overall pick in the 2010 draft – was inactive it seemed like DeMarcus Ware was in line for a big day defensively. But the Cowboys’ top pass-rusher never put much pressure on rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. After recording two sacks in the season opener, Ware was limited to only one quarterback hit in Seattle. Wilson’s mobility was a factor, but the Cowboys’ front seven rarely made him look uncomfortable. Anthony Spencer was one of the few bright spots, recording a sack and two hits on Wilson. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch also had success, especially in the second half, rushing for 122 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.

4.) Although 23-of-40 passing doesn’t suggest it, Romo played well against the Seahawks. Had it not been for the dropped passes, those numbers would’ve been much more impressive, and the Cowboys’ chances of winning would have greatly increased. The Seahawks dominated the clock in the second half, so Romo, who threw one interception, didn’t get a chance to mount a comeback. The offensive line didn’t give Romo much time to survey the secondary but his spin move created a few extra seconds on several occasions. An immobile quarterback would have no success behind the Cowboys’ offensive line at this time.

5.) Why is Felix Jones still returning kicks? His time in the backfield has been reduced severely because of DeMarco Murray’s effectiveness, but even when Jones is on the field he rarely makes a defender miss. I literally can’t remember the last time the Cowboys had a good kickoff return. And Jones, who failed the team’s conditioning test at the start of training camp, doesn’t appear to have the quickness to make that happen. It might be time to give Morris Claiborne a chance. The rookie first-round pick practiced returning kicks on Thursday so that may soon become reality.

Jon Machota | Special Contributor

HAPPY TRAILS COWBOY: Jason Garrett describes difficulties of player cuts

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett describes difficulties of player cuts - The Boys Are Back blog

Months of practices and four preseason games all culminate in one final cut day, which 22 Cowboys players won’t survive.

That time is 8:00 p.m. Aug. 31, and it’s a day that head coach Jason Garrett called one of the worst for a player or a coach in the NFL.

“I think what makes it difficult is the work that they put in,” Garrett said. “Most of our coaches and administrators are former players. They understand the commitment these guys have made. Anybody who’s been around our football team for the last month or so has seen the commitment these guys have made.”

Garrett, the offensive or defensive coordinator and a position coach all talk to the released player and try to explain why the decision was made, provide them constructive coaching and thank them for their effort. Afterward, their time as a Cowboy is finished.

Dallas has been plagued with injuries throughout the preseason, which could force them to go deep at some positions and light at others. Garrett said it’s not always the 53 best players, but the 53 players who give the Cowboys the best chance to win. No official announcement on the final roster will be made until Friday.

Garrett said the draft picks will get every opportunity possible to show the reason they were selected, but there are other players worthy of a chance. The Cowboys have a history of turning undrafted free agents into top talents, including Eastern Illinois’ Tony Romo and Monmouth’s Miles Austin.

“If you have an attitude that it doesn’t matter where players come from, it matters what they do when they get here, I think you’re more able to find some of those guys,” Garrett said. “That’s been our approach. We preached that to our players from Day 1.”

Garrett said it warms his heart to think about the commitment the Cowboys players made in the offseason to fulfill their dreams.

“We have a lot of discussions about who we should keep, what we should do with different players, what role he might have and might not have, so those are difficult discussions,” Garrett said. “What makes it hard is, in a lot of ways, many of these guys’ dreams have come to an end or have changed.”

GOING LONG: Jerry Jones using Ben Franklin procedure for the Dallas Cowboy decisions

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talks to the media - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones compared his decisions as general manager in deciding what he is going to do at third receiver to being a modern day Ben Franklin.

He is going to the let the preseason play out and then pick a guy or go after another guy on free agency based on his evaluation of what’s best for the team,  which is why doesn’t feel pressure to make a decision on a veteran free agent like Plaxico Burress right now.

“It’s the Ben Franklin procedure,” Jones said. “He would take a sheet of paper and put why and why not. He would look at the plusses and minuses and he would fill in on each side and decide which ever shape he was in. That’s the long way of saying why or why not!

Courtesy: Clarence Hill | FWST

Photos Courtesy: Dallas Morning News

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Kevin Ogletree (85) is chased by linebacker Sean Lee (50) - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Kevin Ogletree (85) is chased by linebacker Sean Lee (50)

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Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris (17) catches a pass - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris

.Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley (14) catches a pass - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley (14)

.Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) runs after a catch - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) runs after catch

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Dallas Cowboys tight end James Hanna (84) catches a pass - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys tight end James Hanna (84)

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Dallas Cowboys tight end James Hanna, a rookie from Oklahoma, wears No. 84. But his knowledge of predecessors who also donned that digit is limited. Asked by a reporter if he knew of any other notable No. 84 in franchise history, he identified Jay Novacek, a standout tight end from the 1990s. Asked about Pettis Norman, a star tight end in the 1970s, Hanna said: “I don’t know about that. Not familiar with him.”

He is familiar with outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who has helped him with his technique during training camp. Asked to cite the moment he realized the NFL would be significantly different from college, Hanna said:  “The first time I blocked DeMarcus Ware. Or tried to. It didn’t go well.”

Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis congratulates wide receiver Andre Holmes - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis congratulates wide receiver Andre Holmes

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Cowboys receiver Andre Holmes had a couple of notable catches on fades in the red zone, including one against cornerback C.J. Wilson. Holmes (6-foot-4, 223 pounds) is the team’s tallest receiver and his production in those situations figure to play a prominent role in whether he makes the 53-man roster.

“I’ve been working on that. I felt like it kind of paid off today,” said Holmes, who has strung together a series of solid practices after falling behind others when he failed his pre-camp conditioning test. “I’m trying to show something to the coaches. It’s what I’ve got to do.”

Holmes showed significant emotion after one fade route and indicated he planned to keep the emotional edge front and center.

“It’s not a relief. I know I’m going to make those plays all the time,” Holmes said. “I was just a little more fired up today. That’s what I’m going to be doing every day.”

ONE TWO PUNCH: Dallas Cowboys make changes in return game

Dallas Cowboys RB Felix Jones will be the kick returner in 2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

OXNARD, Calif. — Dez Bryant will be the Cowboys punt returner in 2012.

The Cowboys were leery of using the wide receiver in that spot last year, choosing to limit his work in part for fear of injury, but they have had a philosophical change of heart in 2012.

And it’s not just Bryant who will be involved in the return game. Jones said Felix Jones will be the team’s kick returner.

“We think that’s really going to do wonders for our kicking game,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “We’re going to let them work on it from the get go. Obviously, we didn’t do it with Felix last year because he was the starting running back and we didn’t do it with Dez. This year, we think it’ll make a big difference. Both guys were top guys come out of college. By letting them work on it every day, Joe (DeCamillis) thinks it’ll make a big difference.”

Bryant had punt returns for touchdowns of 62 and 93 yards as a rookie and averaged 14.3 yards in 15 returns. Last season, he suffered a bruised quadriceps in the season opener and was limited as a returner for the rest of the year.

Jones has averaged 24.5 yards per kick return in his first three seasons. He had a 98-yard touchdown as a rookie.

“We were wanting to try some of the young guys last year,” Stephen Jones said. “I think Dez doing punt returns, we’ve done it with Deion (Sanders). We think that’s a safer deal. And then with Felix obviously going to No. 2 running back, then I think him get some chances to make some plays as well.”

The Cowboys averaged just 7.1 yards per punt return and 23.3 yards per kick return in 2012, which has kept the offense from being in the best field position situations.

“The big thing is Joe thinks practicing it every day, getting Dez and Felix used to the blocking schemes, working on it every day, they’ll be better,” Stephen Jones said.

Courtesy: Todd Archer | ESPN Dallas

RELATED: Dallas Cowboys doing right thing in return game

Yes, I would agree that having two of the best, most dynamic and most dangerous athletes on your team returning your kicks can make a big difference. Frankly, I never saw what was the holdup with Bryant as punt returner. He’s big enough and young enough to handle the extra work. And if fear of injury was really going to govern your decisions, you’d never let any of these guys on the field to begin with. Bryant can be a difference-maker in the punt return game, and the way Jones operates in space with the ball in his hands leads one to believe he could do the same as a kick returner. Given the Cowboys’ depth issues at key positions on offense and defense, finding and keeping a specialist just for return duties wouldn’t make a lot of sense. These moves do.

Courtesy: Dan Graziano | ESPN

COACHES ROSTER: Meet the 2013-14 Dallas Cowboys coaching staff

There have been a number of changes in the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff over the past few years. Here’s an updated list of the assistant coaches and links for more detailed information on each of them.

DALLAS COWBOYS HEAD COACH

Jason Garrett

Jason Garrett was named the eighth head coach in Dallas Cowboys history on January 5, 2011. Garrett, who played for or worked alongside four of his predecessors, became the first former Dallas Cowboys player to become the team’s head coach.

DALLAS COWBOYS COACHING STAFF

Offensive Coaches Defensive Coaches Specialty Coaches
Jimmy Robinson
Asst. Head Coach/Wide Receivers
Monte Kiffin
Defensive Coordinator
Mike Woicik
Strength and Conditioning
To Be Determined
Tight Ends/Passing Game Coord.
Jerome Henderson
Secondary
Chris Boniol
Assistant Special Teams/ Kickers
Wade Wilson
Quarterbacks
Matt Eberflus
Linebackers
Brett Bech
Assistant Strength and Conditioning
Bill Callahan
Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
Rod Marinelli
Defensive Line
Wes Phillips
Assistant Offensive Line
Ben Bloom
Quality Control/Linebackers
Keith O’Quinn
Off. Quality Control/Wide Receivers
Joe Baker
Assistant Secondary

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Dallas Cowboys will face Arizona Cardinals record-setting punt returner

The Dallas Cowboys’ punt-coverage unit will face its severest test of the season in Sunday’s game at Arizona.

Cardinals rookie Patrick Peterson on Sunday became the first player in NFL history to have four punt returns of 80-plus yards for touchdowns in a single season. Two of the scoring returns came against dreadful St. Louis, which for unknown reasons punted down the center of the field rather than attempting to pin Peterson against a sideline or kick the ball out of bounds. Peterson told reporters after the win that he was “actually, very surprised” that the Rams kicked to him.

To put Peterson’s accomplishment into perspective, he has had 31 returns overall this season. Chicago’s Devin Hester, considered the top returner of at least the last generation, has five punt returns of 80-plus yards for scores in 197 career returns.

The Cowboys rank 21st in the league for punt-returns against, with an average of 11.3 yards. The figure was inflated when Washington had 87 yards on two returns against the Cowboys on Nov. 20.

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Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey has a busy day

Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey (5) hits a field goal in the 4th quarter. The Buffalo Bills lost to the Dallas Cowboys 44-7 at Cowboys Stadium

Star-Telegram/Ron Jenkins

Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey (5) hits a field goal in the 4th quarter. The Buffalo Bills lost to the Dallas Cowboys 44-7 at Cowboys Stadium

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Dan Bailey hadn’t had this much fun since his days at Oklahoma State. The rookie placekicker was one of the busiest guys on the field Sunday, booting three field goals, five extra points and nine kickoffs.

“I was telling some of the guys, ‘Man, this reminds me of college,’” Bailey said. “Obviously when I’m kicking a lot, that usually means we’re doing good as a team. It was a fun day.”

Bailey connected on field goals of 45, 36 and 31 yards and has now made 22 in a row, which is third on the Cowboys’ all-time list. Bailey’s kicking coach, Chris Boniol, had 27 straight in 1996 and 26 straight in 1995.

“I didn’t even know about it until somebody mentioned it earlier,” Bailey said of his proximity to his coach’s record. “I’m not too worried about that. Just as long as we’re putting points on the board and winning games, that’s all that matters.”

With David Buehler on injured reserve, Bailey is now handling all kickoffs. On Sunday, he had touchbacks on all four of his first-half kickoffs but allowed returns on three of his five second-half kickoffs. The Bills averaged 20.3 yards on their three returns.

“I might have been a little bit tired,” Bailey said with a smile. “There was a couple times there where we had a PAT, kickoff, interception, PAT, kickoff. But I can’t complain. It obviously means we’re doing well.”

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Bailey missed the opening kickoff of the second half. The ball would have gone out of bounds if Brad Smith hadn’t fielded the ball in bounds at the 17. The Bills challenged the call, saying Smith had a foot out of bounds when he fielded the kickoff, but referee Jerome Boger upheld the ruling on the field.

“That was a miss-hit,” Jones said. “That was not a deliberate attempt of a soft kick on the opening kickoff of the second half. The first thing I did was grab Joe [DeCamillis] and say, ‘Tell me….’ He said, ‘He missed it. I didn’t call it.’ But anyway, we really can say that our kicker played well today.”

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ROOKIE IMPACT: Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey has made 19 in a row

Dan Bailey now holds the club record for consecutive field goals made by a rookie after connecting on a 42-yarder and a pair of 20-yarders Sunday.

Bailey, who has made 19 consecutive field-goal attempts, now sits third on the Cowboys’ all-time list after passing Nick Folk and Richie Cunningham. Bailey trails only Chris Boniol, who made 27 consecutive kicks in 1996 and had 26 in a row in 1995.

Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis said he has a simple philosophy when it comes to coaching Bailey.

“Don’t mess with him,” he said. “Don’t coach him. Leave him alone.”

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Veteran Dallas Cowboys LB Bradie James asked to play special teams

IRVING — Cowboys veteran linebacker Bradie James, one of the team’s captains, recently approached special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis and the coaching staff about helping out on special teams.

James – in his ninth season with the Cowboys – hasn’t played on special teams since early in his career, but on Monday night against Washington James was on the team’s kickoff coverage unit twice.

James declined to comment Wednesday about his conversation with DeCamillis about playing on special teams.

James’ playing time has decreased this season with second-year linebacker Sean Lee starting and James sharing time with veteran Keith Brooking.

RELATED: James playing special teams

Cowboys linebacker Bradie James has had his playing time reduced by the emergence of second-year veteran Sean Lee. James has played only 76 of 180 defensive plays.

So James, one of the team’s defensive captains, volunteered to play special teams.

James wouldn’t talk about it Wednesday, but he covered two kickoffs Monday night. It was the first time since early in his career that the nine-year veteran has played on special teams.

James has led the team in tackles for six consecutive seasons. He is 11th this season with eight tackles.

After Monday night’s victory over the Redskins, James talked about the need to be unselfish to help the Cowboys get to where they want to go.

“Man, we’ve got the right type of guys on the team, and we’ve got to keep them,” James said. “Everybody has to play unselfish for us to be successful. And that’s really what it’s about, man.”

Dallas Cowboys considering Dwayne Harris for kick returns also

IRVING — When the Cowboys released Bryan McCann it meant Dwayne Hairy-Harris and quite possibly Demarco Murray could get moved to kick returns.

Harris, a sixth-round pick from East Carolina, has returned kicks and punts in college. In the NFL, Harris has four punt returns for 42 yards with no touchdowns. He has yet to return a kickoff in the NFL.

“I can do both,” Harris said. “I think I’ve done a pretty good job on punt returns, but I’m still working.”

In the Week 2 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Harris was faced with a daunting task of taking on punter Andy Lee, considered one of the top players at his position. Lee had a net average of 45.7 on Sunday with one touchback and one punt inside the 20 out of six attempts. Through two weeks, Lee leads the NFL in net average among punts at 49.5.

Harris returned a punt 14 yards in the second quarter after Lee punted it 63 yards to the Dallas 15.

The Cowboys could also use Murray on kickoffs, but he’s struggled at times. He dropped one in the end zone in Week 1 vs. the New York Jets and he also was tentative coming out to return another.

Last week, Murray didn’t get a chance, but he could on Monday night.

Dallas Cowboys Special Teams has a new look

With McCann being cut, we can expect some changes on the Special Teams unit beginning this week (vs WAS). I’d like to know what you think about it. D. Murray/K. Ogletree will be returning kicks … D. Harris will continue returning the punts.

Buehler’s leg critical to field position

IRVING, Texas — Practice was over for the week, but David Buehler was on his way to the film room Friday afternoon to continue watching 49ers returner Ted Ginn Jr.

Ginn’s punt and kickoff returns for touchdowns accounted for nearly half the 49ers’ 33-point total against Seattle last week, and Buehler knows he must limit Ginn’s chances: either by kicking touchbacks or placing the ball in a tough spot to manuever.

Last week, Buehler had one touchback and landed his other kickoffs at the Jets’ 3- and 6-yard line. Two others landed seven and nine yards deep in the end zone, but the Jets stubbornly brought the ball out anyway.

Distance, hang time and direction are requirements from special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis. Buehler is good at all three, but the Bay Area conditions could always dictate strategy.

“Hopefully if the wind’s at my back,” Buehler said, “and hopefully I’ll get the green light as we call it to be able to kick a touchback and keep it out of Ted Ginn’s hands just because he is a dangerous returner.”

That said, Buehler’s confident that his coverage guys can do a better job against him than Seattle did.

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