2014 COWBOYS CAMP COVERAGE: Jason Garrett’s padded practice presser; Pope’s porta potty | Coach Jerome Henderson mic’d up | Jerry Jones on Rolando McClain expectations
Mic’d Up: Secondary Coach Jerome Henderson | 1:09 | Follow along with Dallas Cowboys secondary coach Jerome Henderson as he goes through the teams morning walkthrough during training camp. (Watch | Listen)
Jason Garrett Press Conference: Pre-Padded practice; Pope’s porta potty | 14:44 | Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett on the upcoming first padded practice of the 2014 seasons Training Camp; Tight Ends coach Mike Pope’s porta potty (Watch | Listen)
BEHIND THE SCENES – GOING DEEP: Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett and his father have a special bond | Special Feature
Technically speaking, the phone call to Jim Garrett was supposed to be about his son Jason’s head-coaching gig with the Dallas Cowboys. And, it was to some degree. Like any conversation with the elder Garrett, though, it was so much more. It was educational, insightful and ridiculously entertaining. It was the kind of discussion that you don’t want to end, to the point of making up the last few questions on the fly in the hopes of learning something else.
MEET YOUR NEW DRAFT PICK: Pro scouting report on Dallas Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens | 4th round NFL Draft 2014
Anthony Hitchens | Position: Linebacker | College: Iowa | 6-0/240 | 4.74
He’s a compact looking player on tape. You can see that there is a lot of weight packed on his body. For his bulk, felt like there were some times where he was very physical at the point of attack and then others where he could have done a little bit better job with his shed. He’ll extend his hands. He does a nice job of finding the ball. Big fan of the way that he reacts. He’ll take on in the hole with his shoulder, then work to the ball.
When he lowers his pads, you see a much better player. There were some snaps where he unloaded on the ball carrier. There is some pop with him. He does a nice job of handling the puller on the trap. He needs to get off the block a tick quick at times, but something he will get better at. Will close down in the hole. He’s able to flow to the ball. There were times where he over ran the ball and was very aggressive.
When he can see it, he can make the play. He’s not a fluid-moving athlete in space when it comes to coverage. He’s more of open, drop and float. Didn’t see him drive back to put himself in position. Think he would be a much better player if he didn’t weigh 240 pounds. That might help his quickness, but he’s extremely tough.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Former NFL Scout
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Secret Audio: Anthony Hitchens Selection Call
Anthony Hitchens: Fortunate For This Opportunity
Anthony Hitchens Conference Call
POST-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE: DeMarcus Lawrence will help Dallas Cowboys bolster defensive trenches | Secret Call from War Room | 2nd round NFL Draft 2014
IRVING — A Dallas Cowboys team that patiently sat and let talent come to them to open the 2014 NFL Draft took a much different approach on the second night.
While the selection of guard Zack Martin in the first round was hailed as a sound approach, it increased the urgency to come out of Friday night’s proceedings with a defensive lineman who could make an immediate impact.
The Dallas Cowboys wasted no time addressing what owner Jerry Jones called an acute need. The team jumped from the middle of the second round to take Boise State defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence at No. 34.
“This was a need pick,” Jones said. “The need to have a player that either could put some pressure on the outside or a unique complement, give us two players that have to be blocked.
“He was the only one left on the board we saw that could draw two blocks. The question, in my mind, was just how much you pay for it.”
The team traded its second- and third-round picks (Nos. 47 and 78) to Washington to jump up 13 spots to select Lawrence. Washington responded by taking Stanford linebacker Trent Murphy and Nebraska guard Spencer Long with the two picks.
The Cowboys could have held those picks and had their choice of defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan or left defensive ends Kony Ealy or Scott Crichton in the third round. Defensive tackle Will Sutton and defensive end Kareem Martin were still available in the third round after Long was taken by Washington.
All of those players visited Valley Ranch and would have addressed the team’s defensive line deficiencies.
But none of those players line up at right defensive end. The Dallas Cowboys had Lawrence rated as the third-best pass rushing end in this draft behind Jadeveon Clowney and Anthony Barr. They gave him a first-round grade as a pass rusher and a high second-round grade overall.
That’s why they were willing to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, a price chief operating officer Stephen Jones concedes is higher than the draft value chart states.
“We really like him,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s a right end candidate for us. There are only a handful of right end guys in this draft. We felt like we needed to come up with an impact player in the front seven in this draft, and those impact players are high. They are the first- and second-round players.
“He’s got very good pass rush ability. He has a quick get-off. He can bend. He shows that he can get after the quarterback and make plays when you combine his sacks and tackles for loss. He’s just a very productive player over a two-year career over there in Boise.”
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is an advocate. The Dallas Cowboys need him to provide the edge rush that was lacking last season.
“What we’re looking for is somebody that has first and foremost natural pass rushing instinct,” Jerry Jones said. “Not necessarily speed. Speed alone doesn’t get it. It’s got to be somebody that has a knack of bending, maybe a way a couple of techniques.
“Rod is high on this guy. Real high on this guy.”
Jones notes the irony of replacing one DeMarcus (Ware) with another. Lawrence isn’t as fast as Ware. But he’s stronger.
“It’s unfair to compare players,” Garrett said. “That’s not what we’re in the business of doing. We want to choose players who are our kinds of guys.
“He was the guy on the board who best did that for us. This was a way to improve in the front seven.”
No one expects Lawrence to come in and duplicate the kind of production Ware gave the Cowboys before his release this off-season. But Lawrence knows the comparisons are inevitable.
“I know it’s some big shoes to fill, but I’m going to work my butt off,” Lawrence said. “I’m going to do all I can to become the best and fill their shoes.
“I’m my own Demarcus. I don’t like this trying to be nobody else. I’m going to be me.
“I’m going to do it well.”
Courtesy: David Moore | DMN staff
IN THE KNOW
DeMarcus Lawrence | Position: Defensive end | College: Boise State
Pick: No. 34 overall (second pick in the second round) | Height: 6-3 | Weight: 251
Notable: Lawrence, one of the Dallas Cowboys predraft visitors, is an exceptional athlete who projects to be a right defensive end, replacing seven-time Pro Bowler DeMarcus Ware. In two seasons at Boise State, Lawrence recorded 20 sacks and 34 tackles for loss. Following high school, he played one season at Butler Community College, where he finished with 12 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. The Cowboys had Lawrence ranked as the third pass rusher on the their board, Jerry Jones said.
Quote: Lawrence on filling DeMarcus Ware’s shoes: “I know it’s some big shoes to fill, but I’m going to work my butt off and give it my all. I’m going to do all I can to become the best and fill those shoes.”
Courtesy: Jon Machota | DMN staff
Related Videos …
2nd/3rd Round Post-Draft Press Conference | 16:45 | Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Jason Garrett discuss their move to trade up and selection of DeMarcus Lawrence, defensive end from Boise State. (Watch | Listen)
POST-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE: Zack Martin will help Dallas Cowboys bolster offensive trenches | Secret Call from War Room | 1st round NFL Draft 2014
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys could’ve grabbed the most polarizing, high-profile quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft. Instead, they protected the franchise quarterback that Johnny Manziel would have sat behind to start his career.
Tony Romo can breathe a little easier coming off back surgery knowing the Cowboys stayed put with the No. 16 pick and continued to bolster the offensive line, selecting Notre Dame’s Zack Martin.
“It means everything,” Martin said. “I couldn’t be happier to come down to Dallas and be a part of the great organization, this great storied organization. I’m very excited to come down there and start competing.”
Martin, a 52-game starter in college, gives Dallas three first-round picks on the offensive line and adds another youthful piece to a completely revamped part of the team. A part of the team considered a weakness a few years ago is now rebuilt with Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Martin.
Head coach Jason Garrett said the best teams in the league can control the line of scrimmage by building their infrastructure. He believes the Cowboys have done that with their recent first-round picks.
“We had a great start with that by drafting Tyron Smith, added to that last year by drafting Travis Frederick,” Garrett said. “We feel like Zack Martin’s in the same mold of those kinds of guys. We just think he’s a darn good football player. We evaluated him against some of the other guys all across our draft board. He consistently came up as one of the best players in this draft.”
That doesn’t mean the Cowboys refused to listen to offers.
Each team gets 10 minutes to make their selection in the first round, and Jones said the Cowboys spent around eight or nine minutes evaluating offers on the phone.
At first, Jones described them more as “semi-offers.” He came back to say there were technically some firm offers, but none the Cowboys were willing to bite on. Eventually, Jones and the Cowboys decided to add to their strong presence on the line with Martin.
He’s the third first-round pick the Cowboys have used on an offensive lineman in the past four years, and his ability to play both guard and tackle gives Dallas options now and in the future.He’ll begin his career as a guard, according to Garrett.
For Martin to start on the interior, he’ll have to beat out one of last year’s starters in Mackenzy Bernadeau or Ronald Leary. Garrett didn’t want to declare whether Martin will begin as a right or left guard, but believes he has the instincts and intellect to play across the line.
Martin, a tackle at Notre Dame, demonstrated his ability to bump inside with ease at the Senior Bowl.
“A lot of people argue he can play all five spots on the offensive line,” Garrett said. “So, initially we’ll give him a chance to work inside as an offensive guard and see how he holds up there.”
After last year’s struggles on defense, that side of the ball’s been hailed as the priority heading into the draft. But many of the Cowboys’ prime targets fell off the board prior to the selection, including Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, UCLA pass rusher Anthony Barr and Ohio State outside linebacker Ryan Shazier.
Jones said those three defenders, along with Martin, were their top targeted players at No. 16.
All the safeties in the draft were still on the board when the Cowboys picked, as well as the most dazzling quarterback prospect on the board. Speculation started to build as Manziel, a player some believed would be too intriguing for the Dallas Cowboys to pass on, began to fall down the board.
But Jones and the Cowboys didn’t want a quarterback.
Jones said Romo, by contract and the Cowboys commitment, will be the quarterback in Dallas for years to come.
“There’s no way any quarterback comes in here and beats out Tony Romo,” Jones said. “We were strong in the quarterback position, in our minds. The fact that Martin was there mitigated any consideration of a lot of things.”
That doesn’t mean Manziel’s presence at No. 16 didn’t come as a bit of a surprise.
“I was surprised, yes,” Jones said. “But what I was even more surprised is the fact that he was there didn’t bring on a bonanza of offers that would have given us, maybe, more options. I was also surprised, frankly, that we had the option to take Martin.”
As the draft shifts to Day 2 and the second and third rounds, the biggest needs remain on defense. Jones wouldn’t eliminate the possibility of another offensive pick, but after finishing last in the league on defense, he admitted the team needs a defensive player more than an offensive player.
Garrett’s also aware of the needs, but he’s glad the Cowboys were able to snag Martin.
“You want to address your needs, but you want to address your needs with the best players available,” Garrett said. “We felt like we did that today.”
KEEPIN’ UP WITH THE JONES’: Dallas Cowboys pre-draft press conference with Jason Garrett | NFL Draft 2014
IRVING, Texas – If all goes according to plan, the Dallas Cowboys will be welcoming more than just new rookies to their practices this summer.
The Dallas Cowboys pre-draft press conference was called with the intention of discussing the approaching NFL draft, but it served as a perfect opportunity for Cowboys brass to address the rehabs and availability of several prominent veterans returning from injury.
CLEARING OUT THE WEEDS: New Cowboys QB Brandon Weeden appreciates the fresh start from Believeland to Big D
IRVING, Texas — Growing up in nearby Oklahoma City, Brandon Weeden was a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. He remembers sitting at his grandparents’ house watching Thanksgiving games with Emmitt Smith running all over the place.
Now Weeden is a Dallas Cowboy, having signed a two-year deal with the team this week after his release from the Cleveland Browns.
“This is the best thing for me,” Weeden said. “I’ve talked to several coaches I’ve had and players I’ve been fortunate to play with and they all agree this is what I needed — a fresh start, change of scenery. I think this is exactly what I needed now. When you’re a rookie first-round pick, the expectation is that you play right away, be the guy. I think in Cleveland it was a tough situation. I wasn’t able to go in and play as I needed to. I know that. Now I can learn from two great quarterbacks and a good offensive staff and try to become better.”
He went 5-15 in two years as a starter with the Browns and had 23 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions.
“I don’t want to be negative on Cleveland,” Weeden said. “I think my rookie year we were a very young football team. I think we had six or seven rookies starting on the offensive side of the ball and we just kind of had our ups and downs. Several things went into it but I don’t want to get too much into it. I think worrying about myself is the main thing. I wasn’t consistent enough. At times I played well, at times I made mistakes that were crucial. At this level in this league you can’t do that. You’ve got to be smart and take care of the ball and that wasn’t the case for me at times.”
Weeden comes to the Dallas Cowboys with no pressure.
The Cowboys liked him coming into the 2012 draft, which is something Garrett mentioned to Weeden when they spoke during his visit to Valley Ranch. He is not the typical third-year pro because of his age but he does not view himself as a 30-year-old quarterback either.
“I’ve been battling that since the draft and all that,” said Weeden, who spent five years playing professional baseball. “The number is a little bit misconceived. I’ve played really four years of football so it’s not like I’ve taken a beating the last 10 years as if I’ve been in the league eight, nine, 10 years. I’ve got a lot to learn a lot of growing and a lot of football ahead of me. I think the better times are ahead of me. It was a good learning experience from Cleveland.”
Editors note: For our loyal fans that also support the AFC’s Cleveland Browns … check out this site to become a citizen of BelieveLand.
OFFSEASON HOOPS AND HOOPLA: Jason Garrett and Tony Romo spotted in Durham this weekend | Romo’s back rehab is on schedule (video)
Ah, yes! Lifestyles of the rich and famous.
Most college basketball fans would kill to see a Duke-North Carolina game.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and head coach Jason Garrett took in the classic college basketball rivalry last night. Here’s betting Romo and Garrett had pretty choice seats, too. And while most would be thrilled to be somewhere up in the nose-bleed seats.
So which team will a former Eastern Illinois quarterback (Romo) and a former Princeton quarterback (Garrett) root for in the Tobacco Road classic? Take a hint from the duo sporting Blue Devils gear in the photo above.
Romo and Garrett were actually on the court at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Friday, playing PIG with current Blue Devil Quinn Cook, former Devils great Jason Williams, and basketball operations assistant coach Casey Stevenson. Check out the short video HERE from Instagram.
Garrett, you may remember visited with Coach K a few years ago and tried to pick up some pointers.
Romo and Garrett were in Durham, N.C. to also work with Duke football coach David Cutcliffe.
Cutcliffe was instrumental in helping Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning rehab after his 2011 neck surgery. Cutcliffe, who worked with Manning on rebuilding his mechanics, is doing the same with Romo.
IRVING, Texas — Updates about Tony Romo’s recovery from surgery have been few and far between this offseason, but those few have been positive.
Romo and Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett attended Duke’s 93-81 win against rival North Carolina on Saturday night in Durham, N.C. Following the game, Romo spoke on the set of ESPN Gameday about his rehab.
“It’s going good. We’re getting close now. Usually it takes three months, it’s just normal kind of roundabout date that they give you and we’re right on schedule — really, ahead in a lot of ways,” Romo said. “Just going to be ready to go here in about a month and rehab is going good, no setbacks of any kind. Mine was just a normal small version of it, so I should be good to go here shortly.”
That falls more or less in line with what Garrett and owner/general manager Jerry Jones have said at other points since the season ended. Both Garrett and Jones have expressed optimism that Romo would be ready to go for the Dallas Cowboys offseason program.
Romo underwent the surgery Dec. 27, two days before the Cowboys’ season-ending loss to Philadelphia. The week prior, against Washington, he came up limping after dodging a Redskins’ pass rusher. He was able to finish out the Cowboys’ 24-23 win, though that game was his last of the season.
With roughly two and a half months having passed since the operation, Davis asked Romo when he’d start to throw and “go full speed.”
“I mean you do little things. You progress, everything is a progression. You kinda, whatever it is, whether it’s running or lifting, everything just starts small and you progress up,” Romo said. “So we’ve already started a lot of that stuff going. Now it’s just going to the next step every week or two and just attacking. For me, it’s like anything else, just another thing to attack and improve and I’m always up for that.”
DALLAS COWBOYS COACHES ROSTER: Jason Garrett on new roles throughout his coaching staff | Stephen Jones on why team retained Bill Callahan
INDIANAPOLIS – Head coach Jason Garrett doesn’t expect discourse among coaches, nor does he worry about having too many voices offensively after the various changes this offseason.
“We feel really good about that,” Garrett said. “We believe in having good coaches. We have a philosophy on offense, we have a philosophy on defense we believe in. We have good coaches to implement that. We expect them all to work together like we have. We emphasize team so much with our players, it’s the same thing with our coaches. If you have the right kind of guys, they will certainly do that.”
Bill Callahan was stripped of the play-calling duties and will move back to his original role with the team, helping out with the offensive game-plan and coaching the offensive line. The Cowboys made room for Scott Linehan, who will call the plays and move into a role similar to Garrett’s before delegating the play-calling duties last year.
Garrett said the circumstances aren’t much different from how the Cowboys or other teams have operated in the past.
“Scott’s role will probably be very similar to the role I had for a number of years – passing game coordinator, play caller, working with the run game coordinator and offensive line coach,” Garrett said. “It’s been Tony Sparano. It’s been Hudson Houck. It’s been Bill Callahan.
“The situation on offense will be probably very similar to the first year Bill Callahan was here. It’s very conventional and something our guys understand.”
Callahan wasn’t let go, despite other teams’ interest in him as an offensive coordinator and play-caller. Garrett said he values what Callahan can bring as a football coach and said he’s as good a coach as he’s been around. Callahan will move back to working more closely with assistant offensive line coach Frank Pollack.
Garrett said every decision is made in the best interest of the team and that everyone understands that. Callahan’s coached the offensive line for most of his career, and he thinks that’s a great role for him working alongside assistant offensive line coach Frank Pollack.
“We’re going to back to the structure that Bill was comfortable with originally when he was hired,” Garrett said. “That’s just something we all have to embrace. It’s going to take a little time to work through that and that’s what this offseason is for. You work through the things we did well last year, the things we’ve got to improve upon and everybody has their role and the responsibility to embrace it and try to become a really close staff and a really close football team.”
The addition of Linehan gave Garrett a coach he was familiar with from their time together in Miami in 2005. Garrett said he learned a great deal from Linehan during that time and that the two share a similar offensive philosophy. In addition to his role as play-caller and passing game coordinator, Linehan will also be asked to work with Callahan and the rest of the offensive staff in putting the running game and the whole package together in preparation.
“His quarterbacks have always played well,” Garrett said. “He’s had teams where his runners…They’ve been a top five rushing team. He seems to always get a big-play receiver to play very well for him. So we feel like philosophically we are on the same page. We’ve worked together. I understand what he’s trying to get accomplished, how he works day to day, how he calls a game. So for a lot of reasons, we felt this was a really good fit for us.”
It doesn’t sound like the roles will evolve much throughout the year. Garrett said he expects the transition from Monte Kiffin to Rod Marinelli to be a smooth one, given their shared philosophies, and he believes he has the right people in the building on the coaching staff.
“We feel like we have a good idea of what we want to do. we have outlined those by title and by responsibility. We have a clear idea of that. Guys are working together throughout the spring, implementing the plan is an important thing for us. We are in midst of that plan right now.
Here are some other notes Garrett touched on Thursday in Indianapolis.
- Garrett still anticipates Tony Romo to be ready for the spring and be involved in “a lot of the stuff we do in the spring with OTAs and on field work.” He said Romo looks good in his rehab.
- Most of Tony Romo’s energy and attention has gone into rehabbing his back, according to Garrett, but Romo has met with Linehan and had conversations about the season. Linehan’s spending more of his time getting acclimated with the coaches.
- The future of Jason Hatcher remains in the balance, but Garrett’s not giving up hope in getting the defensive lineman back next year. He praised the work Hatcher did last season and said when NFL free agency starts, he wants the Cowboys to be there for him.
- Garrett raved about the addition of Mike Pope as the tight ends coach and said he’s as good a coach he’s been around in his career after spending time with him in New York. He also said Jason Witten’s excited about the addition.
- The head coach reiterated that he was happy with the team’s decision to move back in the first round and believes every one of their 2013 draft picks has a bright future with the team.
- Linehan also favored the pass in his previous stops, but Garrett said Linehan’s also been around teams that have run well, particularly in Minnesota. He said the offense is stronger up front and the Cowboys have to play to that advantage, giving the team a chance to control the line of scrimmage.
RELATED: Cowboys VP Stephen Jones explains why team retained Bill Callahan
INDIANAPOLIS — When it was announced that Scott Linehan would be the new offensive play-caller last month, many wondered how Bill Callahan would take the news.
After all, this past season Callahan had handled the role Linehan would now assume. Outsiders saw the move as a demotion, and some wondered why the Cowboys were reluctant to allow Callahan to pursue other opportunities. Requests made by Baltimore and Cleveland to interview Callahan were denied.
“Everybody thinks the world of Bill,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “It’s an unfortunate situation that he gets caught up in the, well, he got something taken away from him or whatever it’s going to be portrayed as. But Bill Callahan is an unbelievable football coach. We just weren’t going to give him up and Jerry [Jones] and I have a great relationship and the coaches have a great relationship with him.
“Everybody wants to go sometimes and try to do what they were doing or whatever. But when we signed him, contracts are two-way streets. They are not just for us to deal with if it doesn’t work out. And Bill is a professional;. Are you kidding me? He is working his butt off. Was he disappointed? Everybody has disappointments. I have had it. I’m sure you have had disappointments. Everybody has them.”
Jones views Callahan as an asset who helped transform the offensive line — the position group he oversees — from a weakness into a strength.
“That offensive line really shaped up and came our way,” he said.
Jones now feels similarly about the staff head coach Jason Garrett has assembled, which now features three men — Garrett, Linehan and Callahan — who have been play-callers in the NFL.
“As I think Jason used the words, I think you have to make sure everybody is in the right seat on the bus to really make the team hum,” Jones said. “I think that’s what we ended up doing. I think we got everyone in the right seat. And obviously added a big one in Linehan. But I really think we have given ourselves, with our staff, a great opportunity to improve.”
COORDINATING THE COORDINATORS: With Scott Linehan hiring, the Dallas Cowboys have a proven play-caller more compatible with Jason Garrett’s offensive philosophy
The Dallas Cowboys apparently have hired a play-caller that Jason Garrett trusts.
Sure, other teams hire general managers, who hire head coaches, who hire assistants. There’s usually not much intrigue. If they win, they stay. If they lose, they get fired. You don’t need an MBA to figure out the business model.
Here, the GM has a lifetime contract. He can do whatever he wants. He can hire assistants before he hires the coach, or he can hire assistants after he hires the coach. The head coach must be flexible.
Jason Garrett is slowly asserting himself as head coach.
Consider the evolution of Garrett’s staff. Last year, Jerry gave him his second defensive coordinator and first play-caller. Midway through the season, Garrett asserted himself. With the offense struggling, he could have fired Callahan or stripped him of his title. Instead, he inserted himself in the Romo relay. He made his point without contradicting his boss.
Make no mistake: Jerry hired Bill Callahan and Monte Kiffin, and he wanted both back this year. Frankly, it’s OK. Change either or both, and it means three coaches in three years in those roles. Constant change is rarely the trademark of excellence.
You could argue that Kiffin did a lousy job with the defense. But you may also remember that Tony Dungy, who won a lot of games with the defense Kiffin employs, said it would take two or three years before the Dallas Cowboys had the proper personnel to run the Tampa Cover-2. And that was before so many players got hurt that Kiffin should have resorted to police tape and barricades.
The offense had its moments, too, even with the dysfunctional chain of command on play-calling and an apparent lack of understanding that, in football, you run the ball 1.) until somebody stops you, and 2.) when you’re trying to burn some clock. The offensive line was better than it’s been in years, no doubt contributing to Jerry’s desire to keep Bill Callahan under contract.
Jason Garrett knows the ground rules by now. If he didn’t learn them when he played for Jerry, or when Jerry hired him as offensive coordinator (even before hiring Wade Phillips), he learned every time his boss reupholstered his staff.
Slowly but surely, though, Jason Garrett is asserting himself. Derek Dooley, the wide receivers coach hired last year, is a Garrett guy. So is Mike Pope, the new tight ends coach. And Scott Linehan, too.
DALLAS COWBOYS COACHES ROSTER: Jerry Jones moving forward with both coordinators in 2014 | Jason Garrett focusing on filling empty coaching staff positions
MOBILE, Ala. – The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff roaming the sidelines at the Senior Bowl will look familiar.
Team owner/general manager Jerry Jones said nothing has changed with his coordinators and “there’s nothing there at all” regarding potential changes. He added that he plans on all the coaches still under contract staying aboard.
“The status of it is nothing,” Jones said. “The status is the contracts that are there, everybody’s here. That’s the way you ought to read it, not anticipate anything. I wouldn’t anticipate a thing.”
Jones stuck by Jason Garrett throughout the 2013 season and even after the end of a third straight 8-8 season, but the Cowboys’ head coach is entering the final year of his contract and it doesn’t appear that deal will be extended hastily. Jones said he hasn’t had any thought about that at this point in the year.
“I don’t pay any attention to lame duck status, what you call lame duck status,” Jones said. “I don’t have that term, because I don’t know that there’s such a thing. We’ve got huge, a lifetime, of work ahead of us over the next few weeks. To even consider that needs anything more than an agreement to do this year is not a big thing to me. It’s just too much takeaway from what we’re trying to do right now, which is just get cranked up for 2014.”
Then again, that doesn’t mean he’s lost belief in his head coach or that the pay day won’t come. He said he wants to be there when it does happen.
He gave, and has continued to give, Garrett multiple years to develop his system and get it in place. The same may be going for his coordinators with another year to make adjustments.
“I had a guy tell me one time how to be successful, that no human can be right over 50 percent of the time on any decision, but it’s the ones that cut their bad ones off quick and let their good ones run long (that work out),” Jones said. “That’s hard to do. That’s hard to accept quickly to cut a bad decision off quick.
“We all know the adage of the gold miner that walked away and the other one that took one more swing and hit the pick and found the gold stream. So, you don’t want to quit. It’s easier said than done to let your mistakes go short and your good decisions long.”
It’s getting close to decision time with many veteran Cowboys players and staff members. Most of the focus this offseason has centered on defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, who don’t appear to be going anywhere.
Jones said he doesn’t have to convince people on staff that it’s a good decision to keep Kiffin. He only had to convince “the man in the mirror.”
“Did we discuss and get input on a lot of things? Absolutely,” Jones said. “But what we did not do is have a big debate or management session regarding Monte Kiffin. We didn’t do that. That decision was made last year.
“When you look at the fundamentals of a Monte Kiffin and you look at the fundamentals of his work and you look at what he is and you look at the fact that you decided scheme wise that you liked that competing in the NFL today, then that weighs you from cutting that short. The answer is I didn’t want to cut it short over on defense and some of the same principles are true with cutting it short on Jason, on going on when I talk about I want to be here for the pay day, and this is pay day time for Jason.”
Everything appears to be status quo regarding the coaches still under contract in Dallas, from the head coach down to the assistants.
At some point this offseason, the focus will begin to turn to the contracts of players. But Jones said the team isn’t working on any restructures yet and it’s too early at this point in the year to focus on that.
RELATED: Jason Garrett focusing on filling empty staff positions
MOBILE, Ala. – The Dallas Cowboys coaching situation seems to be clearer.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett spoke about the job security of Bill Callahan and Monte Kiffin today, just one day after team owner/general manager Jerry Jones affirmed that the offensive and defensive coordinator were still under contract for 2014.
Garrett, who is beginning his fourth year as head coach, reiterated Jones’ stance from Monday afternoon, though he added that staff evaluations are still ongoing following the 2013 season.
“Like he said, those guys are under contract. We’re always trying to figure out ways to do better, and that starts with us as a coaching staff,” Garrett said. “We’ll keep looking at what everyone’s roles are and how everything settles down.”
Whether or not those roles would change going forward, though, Garrett declined to say. There has been some (media) speculation that Kiffin and Callahan’s positions could change despite remaining with the Cowboys, but Garrett did not add to it.
“Those guys are under contract, and we feel good about that,” he said. “We’re always going to try to do things that are in the best interest of our football team, so we’ll keep looking at how we can be better as a staff and what roles everybody is in and what we’re asking them to do. But those guys are really good football coaches.”
Instead, Garrett said the current focus was on filling the empty positions on his staff. The Cowboys lost tight ends coach Wes Phillips to the Redskins last week, and they parted ways with assistant special teams coach Chris Boniol after the season.
“We do have some coaches who are out of contract, and we’re trying to get those things settled,” he said. “We’re just in the process of those conversations right now.”
Reports indicated earlier in the week that the Cowboys would replace Boniol with Carlos Polk, who served as an intern under special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia last season. Polk, who also worked with Bisaccia on the Chargers’ coaching staff, confirmed Tuesday that looks to be the case – though his contract isn’t finalized.
“It has not been finalized, but he’s someone who really was a good addition to our team this year. Bisaccia has some history with him in San Diego, and he really came in and played a very prominent role for us on that special teams unit,” Garrett said.
Former Giants tight ends coach Mike Pope has also come up as a potential replacement for Phillips. Pope coached in New York for 23 seasons and was a member of all four of the team’s Super Bowl staffs before the Giants fired him last week.
Pope was coaching in New York when Garrett was a quarterback with the Giants from 2000-03, providing a logical connection.
“There are a number of guys that we’ve talked about in that situation. Mike is a good friend of mine and obviously a very good coach,” Garrett said.
IRVING, Texas — Maybe there is a different way to look at Jerry Jones’ decision to keep Jason Garrett as the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach for a fourth season.
Maybe the owner is aware the general manager has not delivered enough for the head coach to have more than an 8-8 record. Bill Parcells used to say the goal was to get his team to play to the level that he perceived it to be.
Jerry Jones must allow Jason Garrett more control of his own fate.
Could Jones be conceding he has not done enough for Garrett, despite his statements that the Dallas Cowboys had a chance to not only make the playoffs but make a run to the Super Bowl as well? It requires you to believe Jones separates the owner job description from the general manager job description, but it is not that far-fetched.
Late in the season, Jones mentioned the team lacked the personnel in some key spots because of injuries. Of the 12 regulars — including the nickel corner — on defense, seven were in their projected spots when training camp began in the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne essentially flipped roles. George Selvie, Nick Hayden, DeVonte Holloman, Kyle Wilber, and Jeff Heath were starters.
Perhaps Garrett maximized the 8-8 finish this year and last year because of injuries.
In his address to the media Monday, Garrett repeated the statement he made after the 2012 season ended in a Week 17 loss in an NFC East title game: it takes time to build a program. While he acknowledged wins and losses matter most, he failed to recognize the guy he lost to last week, Chip Kelly, was in his first year and took over a 4-12 team. Mike McCoy brought the San Diego Chargers to the playoffs in his first year. Andy Reid took the Kansas City Chiefs to the postseason after they had the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft.
Jerry Jones has a lot invested in Garrett beyond money. He believes in how Garrett is building the team and how he prepares the team. Quibble about the execution, but players’ effort has not been an issue with Garrett as coach. Jones wants Garrett to be his long-term coach. If Garrett finishes out 2014, only Jimmy Johnson will have coached the Cowboys longer under Jones.
Jones is right to bring back Garrett in 2014.
What he needs to do now is allow Garrett more control of his own fate. If Garrett wants to call plays, then let Garrett call plays. If Garrett wants to change the defensive coordinator, then let him, and if he doesn’t want to replace Monte Kiffin, Garrett will only be hurting himself.
Jones made sure everybody was “uncomfortable” in 2013 and it produced the same 8-8 record. He wanted Bill Callahan to call plays. He wanted Kiffin. He wanted Tony Romo more involved in the offense. He wanted Garrett to become a walk-around head coach.
Much will be made of Garrett’s lame-duck status in 2014 but if he doesn’t win, then he shouldn’t get an extension.
The pressure will be good.
It’s time Jones is “uncomfortable.” At least a little bit anyway.
NO CHANGE, FOR THE SAKE OF CHANGE: Veterans express faith in Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett
IRVING, Texas – A third straight 8-8 season hasn’t lost the core veterans’ faith in Jason Garrett.
“When you think about the thing that he brings to the team, him being a great leader to us, motivating us, each and every week no matter what the circumstance is, he’s had three seasons where he’s been 8-8 and not part of the NFC East championship, but that lets you know that he is there,” Ware said. “We do have opportunities and we can’t forget that. He’s a great coach and I’m behind him 100 percent.”
It appears their owner/general manager feels the same way, as Jerry Jones has stated his belief in Garrett and how he’s decided to move forward with Garrett regardless of the bitter ending.
Jones said records don’t always indicate the talent of a coach. He also pointed to the fact that the Dallas Cowboys have been in position to win the division three straight years, rather than the fact that they failed to cash in on that opportunity every time.
If frustration would build on any group of players, it’s the veterans who’ve been through the consistent disappointments for years upon years. That group would include Witten, but he’s also behind his head coach entirely.
He said it’s reassuring to hear Jones’ faith in Garrett and the likelihood of the head coach sticking around. Meanwhile, six other coaches were immediately canned after a failed season, including Mike Shanahan with the NFC East rival Redskins.
“I think the guys in this locker room would do anything for Coach Garrett,” Witten said. “We’re so fortunate to have him. You want to win for each other, but you also want to win for a guy that pours everything into your football team for a head coach and gives you every opportunity.”
Witten said he understands it’s a bottom-line business, and the bottom line is the Cowboys haven’t made the playoffs with three straight opportunities in Week 17 win-or-go-home games. But he’s glad to hear from Jones that Garrett will likely have another chance to change that fate.
“That was great for me to hear and I think for our team to hear, because he’s very well respected in this locker room and guys are all in for him as the head coach,” Witten said.
From 5-3 to 8-8 to 8-8 to 8-8, it’s difficult to point to or to justify significant progress made during Garrett’s tenure as a head coach when looking at wins and losses. But while the record wouldn’t show it, Witten said there has been progress in some areas.
“Last year, we didn’t run the ball very well,” he said. “This year, we proved that we could. There’s different things. We didn’t turn the ball over very much.”
Ultimately, though, he knows the Dallas Cowboys need to find ways to not just say things need to change. He said the Cowboys have to find ways to do it and come out the other end.
Rather than focus on yet another late season defeat, Cowboys players said Garrett’s final message centered more on how proud he was of the group and to be a part of their journey. But the tone from his head coach and his owner both weren’t cheery.
“There’s a tone of disappointment from everybody because of the way we ended the season,” Ware said. “But you can’t sort of look at it and be so negative about that, knowing that you had the guys in place to get the job done but you just didn’t pull it through. There were, I don’t know, five games where we lost within either a point or two.”
In total, the 2013 Dallas Cowboys finished 2-5 in games decided by three points or fewer and 1-4 in games decided by two points or fewer.
“You’ve got to be able to look and think about, ‘What could we have done to get over that hump and win those games?’ Ware said. “That’s what you’ve got to think about this offseason and let that be the motivating factor to keep pushing.”
JASON GARRETT PRESS CONFERENCE: Motivating forces going into the offseason | Cowboys vs. Eagles gameday film study | Dallas Cowboys 2013-2014 season wrap-up
Jason Garrett speaks to the media as the Dallas Cowboys prepare to head into the offseason.
- Any benefit that came out of this last game and the trend of consecutive key losses
- How do you keep veterans (like Romo, Witten) from getting frustrated beyond rebound
- Where do you draw hope when the 8-8 result is the same for the past few years
- Have any specific areas been identified that absolutely needs to be fixed in offseason
- Does getting better defensively include sticking with this scheme/current coaching staff
- Based on last years changing of DC, how has the evaluation of Kiffin-Marinelli compared
- Have any decision makers ruled out changing the defensive scheme
- What feedback/discussions have taken place recently about his (Jason Garrett’s) future
- When will decision be made regarding coordinators and position coaches
- What areas have shown progress that’s been made over the past three seasons
- What was the message to the team today during the exit interviews and meetings
- Feeling fortunate to have another year to put program in place when others don’t
- Does message/program need to be changed/altered; are players buying in to program
- How hard is it to build a program with an aging core of players
- At what point does it take playoff appearances to prove this program is worthwhile
- How do you break away from the recent history of losing close games by a few points
- How does the team benefit from the mistakes that have been made (Jerry Jones remark)
- How do you feel that you have grown/evolved since being involved with Cowboys
- How disappointed in key defensive players when they didn’t play consistently this season
- Does he feel like he’s benefited from changes in offensive play calling this season
- Will the current play calling structure continue next season
- Did Garrett take over primary play calling duties during the last part of this season
- The dynamic between the personnel department and the coaching staffs influence
- Can the team get over the hump without making significant changes in the offseason
- Confidence in Tony Romo being able to return without lingering or recurring back issues
- DeMarcus Ware had career low numbers in sacks; he still a good fit going forward
- Is Ware at point in his career where he would be more valuable as a pass rush specialist
- Is there a point in the “cap era” that players salaries (Ware) need to be reevaluated/justified
- What’s like to see coaches with Super Bowl rings or little time on job getting fired today
- Does he think it would be a good idea to draft a quarterback in May 2014
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones stood firm by his statement in the wreckage of another disappointing season.
Jones endorsed Jason Garrett to return as his head coach way back on Nov. 21, when the Cowboys were 5-5. Moments after his team had fallen short of an NFC East title for a third straight year, Jones reiterated that position.
“I have spoken at a little bit of a more appropriate time here three or four weeks ago, which I said at the time that I was with Jason, and I thought that his future and what he was going to be doing with us was good,” Jones said. “But this isn’t the time, despite how it feels or looks, to speak to anything about our coaches.”
Jones’ reluctance to speak on the issue could be seen as non-committal, but he was emphatic when asked a second time, in what turned into a 30-minute meeting with the media.
“I’ve said that a month ago, and so I stand by what I said a month ago,” he said.
It was bound to be a hot topic in the immediate aftermath of the Cowboys’ 24-22 loss to Philadelphia. Sunday marked the third-straight year during Garrett’s tenure the Cowboys have finished 8-8, and the third-straight year they have lost the division on the final night of the season.
For his part, Garrett said he was too focused on the season finale against the Eagles to give much thought to his job status – whatever it may be.
“I’m just focused on doing my job. We put a lot of time, effort, energy, and our guts into this ballgame and it is a disappointing loss for us, so that’s where all our focus and energy was,” he said.
For the second straight season, a late-game interception by the Cowboys dashed killed that focus and energy. Jones called the result extremely disappointing and hard to swallow – though he did credit Garrett and the team for resiliency during an up-and-down season.
“It’s unbelievable, unthinkable really for me to be sitting here three years in a row and this game putting us at .500 and this game eliminating us from getting to the playoffs,” Jones said. “I had thought that some of the changes we made this year would put us in better overall shape — our defense.”
He added: “I thought this team really took the challenges that were served up to it. Every team has them even the team we were playing tonight. But I thought we handled our challenges really well, and I give Jason Garrett a lot of credit for that about how we handled our challenges throughout the year and obviously, our injury situation.”
If Garrett’s job status is secure, it remains to be seen if any other changes will be made this offseason. Jones declined to speculate on the future of any other coaches.
Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, whose defense has been heavily criticized this season, said he isn’t focused on the future, though he’d like to return.
“I’m not thinking about that right now – I’m more concerned about not winning this football game,” he said. “I didn’t plan on retiring, so I’d like to keep on coaching – I really would.”
COWBOYS VS. EAGLES GAME 16 VIDEO RECAP: Dallas Cowboys turnovers contribute to heartbreaker | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys Highlights video | 5:16
The Philadelphia Eagles make a crucial stop late in the game clinch the NFC East and a playoff berth in a 24-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17 of NFL action. (Watch this Video)
Jason Garrett Postgame Press Conference | 12:32
IRVING. Texas – The sun was shining brightly late morning on Friday, Dec. 27, out here at The Ranch.
But that menacing cloud seemingly hanging over the Dallas Cowboys’ heads since the start of training camp this 2013 season, similar to that ubiquitous dirt cloud over the head of Peanuts character Pig-Pen, still was there during this final regular-season workout.
No Tony Romo, done for sure following what seemingly was becoming inevitable back surgery all week long, performed sooner on Friday morning rather than later, like after the game if he could possibly play.
No Sean Lee, a sprained neck ligament doing him in, knowing he cannot take any chances until fully healed.
The two most important players for their respective units definitely out for what becomes the most important game of the season, Cowboys-Eagles, 7:30 p.m. Sunday at AT&T Stadium, the winner claiming the NFC East and the automatic playoff berth that comes along with it. The loser left to contemplate one too many losses over the course of the 16-game season – the Cowboys, in particular, having lost three of four one-point decisions, not to mention the three-pointer to Denver after scoring a 33-year-high 48 points way back in October, the most points ever scored in a loss.
Not only that, no DeMarcus Ware, having suffered a hyperextension on Thursday to the same elbow he hyper-extended last year, though he vows to play just the same after having an MRI.
And, even defensive line coach Rod Marinelli was hobbling around practice with the use of a crutch.
You’d have thought the Dallas Cowboys were preparing to cross the Delaware on Sunday instead of bumping into the Eagles (9-6), backs to the wall and staring down the common sense barrel of fate from the wrong end.
So there they were on Friday, the 8-7 Cowboys, quietly going through their pre-practice passing drills, the only voice heard over there on the field with the offense being that of head coach Jason Garrett during the skeleton passing drills, imploring them to keep the ball off the ground.
And in front of him, throwing the passes for the drill just three days before the next biggest game in a season seemingly loaded with big games were …
Kyle Orton, who has not started a game in the NFL since 2011 and has thrown only 15 passes this year, all during mop-up time, and …
Jon Kitna, who has not played a game of NFL football since that 2011 season himself, last throwing to his high school scout team back in Tacoma, Wash., this football season.
What a sight to see.
Now, you go win me a football game.
Talk about dabbling in next-man-up extreme.
Of course, the easy, most logical thing for the Dallas Cowboys to do going up against the Philadelphia Eagles, who have won six of their past seven games, is to feel sorry for themselves, just throw in the towel like most everyone else. Yet such logic has no room in a competitor’s mind.
There did not seem to be any towels strewn on the practice field Friday, nor wet ones dampening enthusiasm in the locker room afterward. The only inordinate sight was those blue T-shirts hanging in everyone’s locker after practice, inscribed with white lettering “Deep In The” and then, under the symbolic state of Texas white outline which included a Cowboys Star right in the middle, “Of Texas.”
The subliminal message being “Heart.”
Brother, the Cowboys will need all they have of this organ of fortitude.
“This is why we do it, starting a long time ago, to be in this opportunity,” says Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, never one to let down his guard, and especially not now with everything on the line.
The Eagles, well, see they’re doing some talking, right, running back LeSean McCoy runnin’ his NFL leading-rusher mouth, saying to the Philly fans on WIP, “Sunday night just relax. Turn on the channel, watch your Birds manhandle the Dallas Cowgirls. Let’s go. Merry Christmas,” another indication the Eagles are feeling full of themselves after putting that 54-11 beating on the Chicago Bears this past Sunday. Sort of like the Giants before them when facing a Cowboys team that had beaten them, too, the first time around.
The Cowboys, well, there is nothing wrong coming in with a little quiet humility, flying under the radar, with everyone else giving up on them now that Romo and Lee are definitely out of this game, combined with sporting the league’s 32nd-ranked defense and 31st-ranked pass defense.
But to me, out at practice Friday there seemed to be this quiet focus, understanding something big was about to take place; understanding they were without their general; understanding each and every one of them had to be at their best, no matter if it’s rookie DeVonte Holloman about to start only his second game at middle linebacker or Dwayne Harris returning after missing the past three games or Orton starting his first game for the Cowboys in the two years he’s been here or Morris Claiborne finally getting back on the field after a month’s injury absence or Kyle Wilber starting just his fifth NFL game at strong-side linebacker.
Hey, if Romo can play nearly a full half of football with a back in need of surgery five days later to win GMAC’s Never Say Never Moment of The Week Award, no excuses.
“Everyone just needs to do their jobs as well as they can do it,” Garrett says.
Now, of course, all of this is fine and dandy, but you have to be good enough to win, something the Cowboys were not the past two years they were in this same exact win-and-you’re-in predicament, losing in order to the Giants in 2011 to finish 8-8 and to the Redskins in 2012 to finish 8-8.
Although, this time there is something extremely different: The Cowboys are playing an NFC East opponent in the final game of the season that they have already beaten once this year – heck, they’ve won all five of their NFC East games this season – at home, at The AT&T.
With a friendly roof over their heads and what’s expected to be 90-some-thousand towel-waving, screaming fans surrounding them, likely popping some goose-flesh and maybe some Eagle eardrums – can you hear me now? – since those folks will have all day to get ready for the game, if you know what I mean.
A difference? Hmmm, got any other logical reason why the Eagles, winners of five straight, went under the dome in Minneapolis two weeks ago and got spanked, 48-30, by the now 4-10-1 Vikings who were playing with basically their third-string quarterback and third-string running back?
“We know how difficult it is to play on the road when the crowd is into it, and it’s loud,” Garrett pointed out, likely remembering the playoff loss at Minnesota following the 2009 season or being told of the playoff loss following the 1991 season to the Lions at the Silverdome just before he got here as a player.
Hey, it’s the NFL, right? The Nothing Furshur League, and this is a playoff game, no? This is it.
Now common sense suggests the Dallas Cowboys have no chance in this game, and that is OK for you or even me to believe. But for this team, these players who somehow have muddled through this season of heartbreak, injury and resurgence, showing uncommon resiliency all season long, to stand 8-7 with a shot at the division title, they must keep the faith, gotta believe as former Cowboys safety Charlie Waters once told Cowboys long-time radio voice Brad Sham during the broadcast – Charlie was out with a broken leg – when the Cowboys trailed the Redskins 34-21 in the final minutes of the final game of the season, the Cowboys needing to win – they did in the final seconds – to claim the East title over Washington.
There is this line from the movie Miracle On 34th Street. You know, the one about the guy who believed with all his might he was Santa Claus: Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to.
Well, who is to say a national TV audience won’t be witness to The Miracle on Randol Mill?
EAGLES @ COWBOYS PRIMER: Jason Garrett press conference | Tony Romo back surgery | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys game 16
Jason Garrett Press Conference: Cowboys vs. Eagles | Friday Practice (7:55)
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media as his team continues preparation for Sunday’s game with the 2013-2014 Philadelphia Eagles (Watch Video | Play Audio)
- Tony Romo IR and back surgery announcement
- Specifics of Romo’s back surgery; asked if it was related to herniated disc
- Estimation of when Romo will be able to return to team activities next season
- How the Romo injury has influenced Orton’s reps in practices all week
- Difficulty of Romo coming to grips on the necessity to have season ending surgery
- Two back surgeries in eight months a concern for the team going forward
- Did the back injury occur in last weeks game vs. Washington Redskins or earlier
- Teams plans to fill Romo’s roster spot for remaining games.
- How Romo responded to treatment attempts this week
- When was the final determination made to move forward with the surgery
- How do you prepare Romo’s teammates with the news of Romo being out indefinitely
- Was there any lingering issues from Romo’s surgical procedure earlier in the year
- How has Orton’s practices gone this week and in prior practices this season
- If Jon Kitna (Kit’s) up to speed with offense and new twists added in his absence
- What is the most difficult part of backup QBs adaption to gameday action
- Dez Bryant progress with his back injury; prognosis for upcoming game vs. Eagles
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys Kyle Orton steps in with confidence
IRVING, Texas – The preparation may not change much, but the circumstances certainly have for Kyle Orton as he prepares to make his first start for the Dallas Cowboys for the injured Tony Romo.
Orton’s taking practice reps with the first team offense for the first time this year as the Dallas Cowboys get ready for their most important game of the season in a win or go home matchup at AT&T Stadium against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17.
“Just excited, you know, just to be able to get some practice reps,” Orton said. “It felt good today, just kind of see how it plays out throughout the week, but it really doesn’t change my preparation at all. Just get the added benefit of getting some reps during the week, which was good.”
Orton, who’s been the backup in Dallas the last two years, is their go-to guy. They also added Jon Kitna for further depth.
Orton’s thrown a pass in just two games the last two years, going 3-for-5 for 40 yards against the Bears this year and going 9-for-10 with a touchdown against the Bears last year.
Prior to joining the Cowboys, he made 69 career starts in stops with the Bears, Broncos and Chiefs. He said the feeling is excitement, not pressure, getting to throw to Dez Bryant and Jason Witten and hand the ball off to DeMarco Murray in this situation.
“I fall back on my experience,” Orton said. “I’ve played a lot of games in this league and I’ve had some success. Just excited. The group of guys I’ve got around me, I don’t really feel like I’ve got to go out there and do too much – get the ball to the playmakers and give it to 29 and 82 and 88 and let those guys go to work.”
Orton emphasized the importance of not trying to do too much. His plan is to get the ball out as quickly as possible to the open receiver, and he believes the Cowboys have multiple options who know how to get free and make plays.
Though Orton hasn’t worked with the first team during the regular season, he did get to work with the team’s top offensive players while Romo was out in the offseason, particularly during Organized Team Activities.
“Any time you’re a backup, all the reps you can get with the guys are important,” Orton said. I was kind of fortunate to get a lot of the reps during OTAs. That’s a long time ago, but I’ve practiced hard throughout the whole year and really feel like my game’s in a great spot right now and I’m really confident heading into the week.”
It’s beneficial for Orton that he’s had two years now to learn the playbook.
Even if his first start comes 16 games into the season, he’s confident he can step in, and the offensive linemen in front of him share that feeling. Orton complimented what the line’s been able to do, and the success of the line in recent weeks gives Orton even more confidence he can step in quickly.
“I think the whole offensive line’s played great,” Orton said. “Obviously in the run game to have a 1,000-yard rusher going into Week 17 is a great deal and what they’ve done pass pro-wise has been really good.”
Both center Travis Frederick and guard Mackenzy Bernadeau said not much will change for them and how they block, regardless of which quarterback’s behind them.
“Kyle knows the offense,” Bernadeau said. “He’s been with this system for a while. Just calling the plays in the huddle, his demeanor knowing the offense, calling the protections, making the mike points, the sight adjustments and hot adjustments that he reads, I’m very confident. I know that he knows the offense. So when we communicate and talk up front, we’re thinking what he’s thinking. It meshes real well. I have all the confidence in his ability.”
Orton said when Romo got injured late against the Redskins, he saw the situation as everyone else did.
Romo didn’t say much about the injury to his teammates as he battled out to the end of the game. Orton didn’t realize at the time what was to come based on Romo’s reaction. He complimented the starter’s ability to finish the game the way he did.
“I think Tony played a great game in Washington,” Orton said. “Obviously, dealing with what he dealt with toward the end of the game there was great stuff. I know if he can be out there playing, he’ll be out there.”
If Romo can go, Orton knows he’ll probably be relegated back to the bench. But with Romo’s playing status in serious doubt, Orton’s ready for the opportunity in front of him.
“No doubt I’m excited,” Orton said. “We’ll see how Tony heals up. He’s a great quarterback, he’s had a great year and I know he wants to finish this thing out. But as a backup, that’s your job to be ready to go whenever it is. I think the guys have got a lot of confidence in me, I know I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself, and I’m excited to play.”
FRANCHISE QB PLACED ON INJURED RESERVE: Tony Romo out for rest of 2013-2014 season after back surgery
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys will officially be without starting quarterback Tony Romo the rest of the season.
Head coach Jason Garrett said Romo underwent back surgery this morning that will place him on injured reserve the rest of the year, leaving Kyle Orton as the team’s starting quarterback going forward this season.
“The surgery was done as a result of the injury that happened in the game against Washington, and Tony will be on IR,” Garrett said. “Kyle Orton will be our starter in the ballgame. We spent the week exhausting all options in regards to Tony’s situation – treatment, rehab, all the different things, consulted a lot of different people on this. We just felt like as we discussed it, as yesterday wore on, that this was the best decision for him and for our organization moving forward.”
Garrett said the ultimate decision was to have the surgery taken care of sooner rather than later. The Dallas Cowboys wouldn’t rule Romo out early in the week after initial reports Romo would be done for the year.
“We felt like the surgery went well, and Tony should be able to come home hopefully later today and start to begin his rehabilitation for the 2014 season.”
Garrett didn’t have a specific timetable at this point for Romo’s recovery, nor did he get into the specifics of the back surgery. He added that Romo, who was in the midst of one his best seasons with 31 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions, was thoroughly disappointed about the result.
“He’s devastated,” Garrett said. “He puts a lot into this.”
With quarterback Tony Romo sidelined with a back injury and backup Kyle Orton set to start in his place, there is no question the Dallas Cowboys will lean heavily on the running game in Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Running back DeMarco Murray, who is in the midst of the best stretch in what has already been the best season of his career, said he is ready and willing to carry a bigger load.
“If they do, then great,” Murray said. “If they don’t, then so be it. I’m preparing like I do any other week. I’m working hard, making sure I know my assignments and knowing my keys and things of that nature, so I’ll be ready.”
Murray has 1,073 yards in 13 games, becoming the first Dallas Cowboys running back to top 1,000-yard mark since 2006.
He has rushed for 376 yards the past three games combined, averaging a whopping 6.4 yards carry during those contests.
“We’ve been really jelling together,” Murray said. “I think the offensive line, they’re doing a great job of blocking and I’m doing a great job of running and making guys miss …. Since I’ve been here this is the best [it’s been].”
Coach Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan are both on record saying they are not going to change up the offense much with Orton at helm. But both acknowledge that balance is important and being successful on the ground would be a great help to a new quarterback, especially one with only five pass attempts this season and just 15 the past two seasons combined.
Again Murray said he is ready for whatever. His only goal is a successful game plan to win the game and reach the playoffs.
“I just want to win, run the ball or not,” Murray said. “I just want to win the game.”
The Jason Garrett Show: Attitude following loss | Injuries at LB | 2:03
RELATED: The Jason Garrett Show: Kirk Cousins | Shanahan’s offense | 1:58
Dallas Cowboys 1-on-1 interview with linebacker DeVonte Holloman | 3:02
BONUS VIDEO: Who inspires who? Some boys are born to inspire men
The Incredible Story Of Tyler Sampson | 3:01 (Watch this Video)
Why do you love football? Tyler Sampson is a finalist in the Together We Make Football trip to Super Bowl XLVIII. Vote for him here http://www.togetherwemakefootball.com/contest.html?v=finalists&i=tyler
COWBOYS @ REDSKINS PRIMER: Jason Garrett press conference | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys game 15 | Friday
Jason Garrett Press Conference: Cowboys vs. Redskins | Friday Practice (11:39)
- Brandon Carr’s illness and practice outlook
- Who else was sent home because of illness
- Redskins went for 2-point conversion to win last week; preparing for aggressive team
- Is team having to build up players confidence due to recent losses
- What is the mood and atmosphere around Valley Ranch this week
- Brian Orakpo vs.Tyron Smith matchup (Film breakdown on Orakpo)
- Barry Church’s grade in the past month
- How DeVonte Holloman looking so far in practice (as middle linebacker)
- Challenges of using backup players due to injuries of starters
- Is there extra pressure to score on first possession with his defense struggling
- Expectations for Bruce Carter with Sean Lee being out of the lineup this week
- What motivates a team like Washington with a loosing record to win games like these
- Evaluation of Tony Romo’s throws and accuracy during the Green Bay game
- (Reporter from Japan) How do you plan to improve your defense after two losses
- Advantages and disadvantages of running the dime defense vs. Redskins
- Is passing inaccuracy due to now really throwing very many deep passes this season
- Is Romo ranked 19th in pass attempts of 20 yds or longer surprising
- Progress on veteran Michael Spurlock’s practice this week; anticipate help on offense
- Adaption to having a true fullback on the team now
- Has Terrance Williams been around long enough to start with only a few practices
- Description of Alfred Morris’ running style
2013-2014 MEDIA DAY: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins | 9:39
2013-2014 MEDIA DAY: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins | 8:20
COWBOYS @ REDSKINS PRIMER: Jason Garrett press conference | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys game 15 | Thursday
Jason Garrett Press Conference: Cowboys vs. Redskins | Thursday Practice (15:52)
- Coach Jason Garrett’s gift from Dallas media
- What challenges Washington QB Kirk Cousins presents for the Dallas Cowboys
- Without much tape (game film), what goes into game planning against Cousins
- What can be done to get DeMarcus Ware going again; injury status
- Pass rush and quarterback pressure with defensive line
- Assessment on Heath and Wilcox the past few weeks
- Lack of experience at safety in some games this season
- Effects of two back-to-back losses; seeing results of team mentality win/lose
- Signs that Tony Romo will bounce back from Green Bay loss
- Teams Cross-Training philosophy that begins every preseason
- Comparing the challenges of injuries this season compared to last year
- Recent messages from team leaders up and in front of teammates
- DeVonte Holloman’s adaption to MLB and difference in responsibilities
- Why Jason Hatcher popped back up on todays injury report
- Importance and recent success of scoring on the opening drive
- Progress of OL since DeMarco Murray went out 6-8 weeks ago and returned
- Recent incorporation of Gavin Escobar into offense, his progress to date
- How having Escobar might help the Cowboys offense with Williams dinged up
- Murray wanting opportunities to ‘finish’ games
- Positive/Negative reinforcement style with recent tough losses
- How much pressure is on the offense to put up points with latest defense issues
- What it means to the team with Tyron Smith playing so well at left tackle
- Travis Frederick progress and grade on film
- How does this OL compare to the other lines Jason Garrett has had during his tenure
- If worried about Travis Frederick hitting a wall with his development
2013-2014 MEDIA DAY: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins | 5:18
2013-2014 MEDIA DAY: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins | 5:22