NFL SCOUTING COMBINE REPORT: Big O-Line prospects show off amazing speed | Watch 2014 NFL Combine videos
It’s been a long standing tradition that the offensive linemen kick off the on field workouts for the combine and today that tradition continued (Watch this Video). Of the two groups that worked, Group 2 was the headliner. First-round talents Taylor Lewan, Zack Martin, Jake Matthews, and Greg Robinson were on display for coaches and scouts to evaluate. As a group, they did not disappoint.
Coming into this combine, there were questions who would be the first tackle off the board, whether it would be Matthews or Robinson, with Lewan the third in that group. What we learned Saturday was that all three came to the workout with the intention of making these teams head back to their meetings with some other ideas of that order.
The tackle that appeared to gain the most ground when you studied his workout was Lewan. His 40 yard dash was 4.87 and throughout the drills he was able to perform with some smoothness that we had not seen on tape. You could tell that he prepared for this combine because there wasn’t that stiffness and over-extension. It was a very productive day for him.
Greg Robinson might not have the polish that you see when you watch Jake Matthews work, but you cannot deny the explosive power with which he plays. At 6-5, 332 and carrying that body down the track at 4.91 was jaw dropping. What I really like about Robinson is that despite that size, his movements are like that of a much smaller man. It is almost effortless in which the way he moves.
In watching Jake Matthews, there was no question that he was going to be the best athlete of the group. Where the questions for him are going to arise is in his strength numbers. With only benching 225 24x, there are times
where you do see him struggle with power. If you watch the Auburn game, it is clear. With all that being said, if you needed to have a tackle to come in and play right now, he would be your guy. There was not much of any wasted movement from him during the drills.
Of the centers and guards that were on the field, I thought the guy that helped himself the most was Xavier Su’a-Filo from UCLA. Here is a player that on tape you can watch him play guard as well as tackle. I feel that his best spot will be at guard and there were some athletic movements that gave me some hope that he could be a player that you could plug in there if you ran a zone scheme, he could give you a little power. If there was something that I wasn’t to impressed with him was his vertical jump was only 23″ because that might be a flag for a lack of lower body power but he doesn’t play that way.
A player that a lot of scouts have fallen in love with is David Yankey, but I just don’t see it on tape. He plays like a slow-footed guy and on Saturday, he ran like one. The times I had for him were 5.50 and 5.53. In the drills, he went through them in the same fashion.
Cyril Richardson was another disappointing player to me. I really want to like him but with each rep or game I study, I draw further away from him. He didn’t run all that well but to his credit, he did come in lighter than what he measured at the Senior Bowl where he looked not in his best condition. For a man that should play with more lower body power, his vertical jump of 23.5″ was a disappointment as well. He just didn’t go through the drills with any type of quickness. I feel like he is going to have to play in a scheme where they are a power blocking and that would be his best chance.
More NFL SCOUTING COMBINE 2014 video:
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.”
2014 NFL COMBINE REPORT: Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones discusses team draft needs, salary cap, and contracts
INDIANAPOLIS – Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones doesn’t want to focus on just one spot in the 2014 NFL Draft.
He didn’t deny the Cowboys’ obvious wants and needs on the defensive line, but he said Wednesday that teams get in a lot of trouble by narrowing their scope to just one position when it comes time to draft.
“You start targeting something and drafting for need, we all know that’ll get you in trouble,” Jones said. “It’ll be nice to come out of the draft at some point with a defensive front guy, defensive lineman or two. But no, I don’t think we can just say, ‘Hey, we’re going to take the first two picks and it’s got to be defensive linemen.’ I think you get in trouble that way.”
Jones said he wants players to be graded based on what they deserve, and he’s talked to the scouts about not grading players a certain way based entirely off team needs. He said the team has to fight that natural urge of grading by need.
“In some cases, it can help to do deals,” Jones said. “I’d read where someone didn’t understand it, because they said, ‘How did they do (Dan) Bailey? That hurts them this year.’ Well, it didn’t hurt us, it helped us.”
Jones talked at length Wednesday about a variety of other offseason topics as well, from possible restructures to extensions to injuries and scouting. Here’s some notes from those comments.
- Anthony Spencer’s free agency leaves questions about his future with the Dallas Cowboys, but there’s also questions about his health going into 2014 coming off microfracture knee surgery. Jones said it still remains to be seen how healthy Spencer will be at the start of the year as he works the injury and goes through rehab, but he knows Spencer wants to play.
- Jones said the biggest misconception about the draft room is that owner/general manager Jerry Jones just “sits up there and out of the clear blue just grabs a guy and says we’re going to take him.” He said that’s not how it works, and generally there’s a consensus about a player.
“We spend millions of dollars in our scouting department and we spend a lot of money on our coaches and everybody has tremendous input,” Stephen Jones said. “I think it’s a good system.”
- The Dallas Cowboys got a boost earlier in the day by winning the No. 16 pick in a coin flip with the Baltimore Ravens, which Jones said can be valuable when trading back based off of trade charts.
- Jones wouldn’t go into details about specific players’ restructures this offseason, but he said every player must be looked at to see the resources being allocated. He said there are still several scenarios, but he’s comfortable with where the team’s at and knows he still has time to get everything settled.
- The fifth-year option on Tyron Smith’s contract has to be made by the spring, but Jones said that won’t take any urgency away from potentially getting a longer deal done with the left tackle.
- Jones said he thought Sharrif Floyd was graded right (2013 NFL Draft) based on his talent, but it’s debatable if he was graded the right way based on the team’s system. The Dallas Cowboys ended up trading back and grabbing Travis Frederick in the first round rather than taking Floyd, who had a first-round grade. Jones said it can be tricky when a team changes a system, and the Floyd circumstances won’t happen again. He knows the team got criticized by some for the move, but he believes they ended up making the right decision based on their defensive system.
- The Dallas Cowboys are looking at their hamstring problems and how to deal with the situation. He said no one’s happy with what occurred, and the team is looking internally to see how to improve the Dallas Cowboys injury problems. They’re also looking at how past teams have stayed healthy and are considering the age of players, their work habits and the shape they’re in.
NO EXECUTIVE DECISION: Unlikely that Troy Aikman will move into Dallas Cowboys front office any time soon
IRVING, Texas – It doesn’t appear that Troy Aikman will be in the Dallas Cowboys front office any time soon.
The former Cowboys star quarterback and current television sportscaster’s interest in a front office job has been a topic lately (Super Bowl week rumor related to John Elway’s success after being hired by Denver as the Broncos General Manager), but Aikman quelled some of those notions and mentioned how Dallas would be an unlikely fit if he eventually decides to work his way into a managerial role with a team.
“I answered the question on Sunday and it’s just, ‘Oh, that’s an easy question, that’s an easy story, let’s go ask Troy about this.’ It just continues, and there’s not a story there,” Aikman said Thursday on Sportsradio 1310 and 96.7 FM The Ticket. “As it relates to Dallas, which is where everyone here in the Metroplex goes with it is, ‘Oh, OK, Dallas.’ Well that’s not going to happen in Dallas because of the structure of this organization. I think everybody knows that.”
Aikman said it’s an easy question and story to ask him about a potential move to the front office and a potential general manager job, but he said his comments on that have remained consistent the last two weeks with his thoughts the last 10 years.
“I think some people maybe hear my comments and they think, ‘Oh, well he thinks he can just step right into a GM role after having been a broadcaster like Matt Millen did,’” Aikman said. “That’s not it at all. In fact, what I have said to many people is that if it were something I wanted to pursue – and I’m not sure that it is and I’m not sure that it’s not – but if it was something I wanted to pursue, now would be the time to start preparing myself for that and get involved with an organization, start learning what has to be learned.”
Before that can happen, he said there are steps that have to be taken. First, the timing has to be right. In addition, he wants to be able to put in the amount of time it would require for him to do his job to the best of his ability.
“I don’t believe there are any shortcuts in anything in life,” Aikman said. “Then the question becomes, well, whenever the timing is right for me to do that, how old am I going to be and how much time do I want to then serve in an apprenticeship-type situation to ultimately go on and do what I’d like to do?
“There’s a lot of factors in there, it’s just, I guess where I could have maybe handled it differently is just said, ‘No, I have zero interest in it.’ But then that’s not being honest. I’ve answered the question as honestly as I could.”
He’s not sure if anything will materialize at this point with him eventually taking a front office position. But any talk of him jumping at a specific job in the near future or him being in talks with a team right now doesn’t appear likely.
With Jerry Jones as the owner, president, and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys and him not relinquishing any of those titles in the near future, and with Jones’ son, Stephen, as the team’s executive vice president, it doesn’t appear likely Aikman’s future in the front office will be in Dallas.
“It’s a little bit like the question every year is, ‘Hey, all right, do you think Jerry the owner should fire Jerry the general manager?’ How redundant is that argument?” Aikman said. “So, it’s a little bit the same way, that nothing like that would happen in Dallas.”
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.
MOBILE, AL — My plan was to follow three defensive linemen on the North squad to try and get a better feel for how they moved around live. The three players that I chose were: Aaron Donald, Ra’Shede Hegaman, and Rasheed Martin.
After the team broke from stretching, I knew I was following the right group because Will McClay was doing the very same thing. My seat was in the press box, while McClay was within four feet of the drills that the Falcons coaches were putting the players through.
It was interesting to see how these players went through the drills. Donald and Martin were the smoothest and moved the best. Hageman was better straight ahead and struggled a little more with the side to side stuff.
When the group went to the one-on-one drills as they worked against the offensive line, all three did a nice job of playing with some power. Donald for his lack of height and bulk, played with outstanding leverage against Cyril Richardson, who can be a load to deal with. Donald didn’t give an inch against Richardson and that was impressive.
Rasheed Martin measured well this morning at 272 pounds and despite his long build, he battled the massive tackle, Seantrel Henderson to a stalemate on several reps. I remember studying these two last week when Miami and North Carolina hooked up during the season, with Henderson getting the best of Martin plenty that day. It was a nice bounce back for Martin with a ton of eyes on him.
There is no doubt that Ra’Shede Hageman looks the part. At 6-6 318 pounds, he is a full grown man. What I was worried about was his ability to get off the ball quick enough. His first few reps were not impressive than the defensive line coach, got on his rear and you saw a different player. He can be a very hard man to block and there were times when Richardson and Brandon Linder really struggled with him.
Like Donald because of Mike Nolan’s scheme, they both saw action playing as the one and the three. Where Hageman did struggle is when he did get up the field and had problems finding the ball. He would make a great move, look to be in position, than the ball would go right by him. Thought he could have shown more awareness there.
When Mike Smith took his squad to the team period, this is where Donald really shined. His quickness and power were difficult to block. Centers Weston Richburg and Tyler Larsen had a handful to try and slow him down. He played the majority of the day on the offensive line side of the ball. It didn’t matter run or pass, he was in the middle of the action. I thought his technique was spot on the entire day, arm over, rip move, two hand bull, he was on.
Of the three, Aaron Donald looked the most ready to play from the opening snap of practice and I am sure that Will McClay noticed that. His motor was running and he was on a mission. I did like some things that I did see from Ra’Shede Hagaman once the coach got in his face and his intensity picked up. Kareem Martin needs to do a better job of not rushing down the middle when getting after the quarterback, because then he has no shot. Martin is a better player when he can attack the edge and I sure they will point that out tonight in the film sessions.
Overall it was a good start to the week for Ra’Shede Hegaman and Kareem Martin but a great one for Aaron Donald. It will be up to Donald to build on that and he could separate himself from the others because tomorrow morning, we get to all come back to the field and do it again.
SEE FOR YOURSELF – VIDEO:
Senior Bowl | Three To Watch | Defensive Line (Watch Video)
Check out three of the top defensive lineman from the North roster during Monday’s Senior Bowl practice in Mobile, Alabama.
MOBILE, Ala. – With the Dallas Cowboys staff in Mobile for the Reese’s 2014 Senior Bowl, here are some things that us scouts (you) should be looking out for …
What I have always loved about the Senior Bowl from a scouting point of view, is how both squads are being coached this week by current NFL coaches. Part of having poor records during the season, Mike Smith from the Atlanta Falcons and Gus Bradley from the Jacksonville Jaguars staffs will lead the North and South squads this week. What is outstanding about this is that you get to observe these players out of their college element and functioning during the practices run by these coaches.
I was reminded this week from Monte Kiffin how when he was on Jon Gruden’s staff in Tampa and were coaching the game in 2005, when coaches on Bill Parcells staff in Dallas asked if Kiffin a 4-3 coach, could give DeMarcus Ware some reps during the practice at outside linebacker to see if Ware who was a 4-3 end at Troy could stand up and play on the outside. Kiffin had no problem with the request and the Cowboys were able to get a good look at Ware which helped them in their draft evaluation of him.
Of all the college all-star games that are played after the season, the Senior Bowl does the best job of putting these rosters together. Phil Savage the director of that game is a former NFL general manager having worked in Baltimore and Cleveland. Savage and his staff have an outstanding eye for talent and when you go through these rosters, you will see a nice mix of players.
What Savage has done is not only assemble talent from the major conferences around the country, but also he has players from schools like Lindenwood, Saginaw Valley, Eastern Illinois and North Dakota State. It was always interesting to see how the players from these schools work with these coaches and players from the major programs. Keep an eye on players like cornerback Pierre Desir, wide receiver Jeff Janis, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, and offensive tackle Billy Turner. Garoppolo seems to be the player that most draft fans have interest in.
There are always two or three players that might not be on your radar now but by the time this week is over, you will have a pretty clear understanding if these kids can play or not. Scouts will be tracking these players this week to see how they are responding to this experience.
Defensive Line On Review
This will be a good week, for the scout’s around the league to get a good look at this current group of college defensive linemen. I remember very well this time last year, when defensive end Ziggy Ansah of BYU impressed all those that watched him practice and play in this game. Matter of fact, it was the Lions that were coaching in the game, that ended up drafting him in the 1st round.
Looking at this current group, this is an important week for guys like Will Sutton, Ra’Shede Hageman, Aaron Donald, Marcus Smith, Kareem Martin, Trent Murphy, and DaQuan Jones. What I have learned from these Cowboys defensive coaches is that with the defensive line, it’s all about the quick twitch more so than the overall size. Kiffin told me that it was rare this season to have a guy like Jason Hatcher with his height to play as a one technique in this scheme.
The player that has that Hatcher like size would be Hageman but on tape, I don’t believe that he has that quick twitch that Kiffin would be looking for, but we will see if that might have changed as he goes through this week. Aaron Donald will be measured Monday morning as will Will Sutton, who both would be perfect three techniques. What is interesting about Donald and Sutton is that they both are right at 6 foot tall and that is not a problem for Kiffin, as long as they both have that quick twitch that we have talked about.
Two guys that I will be keeping my eye on in this group, is Marcus Smith and Kareem Martin. When I studied Smith this past week, he is a player that Will McClay (Head of the Dallas Cowboys Pro Scouting Department) and his group will be looking to project him to end from an outside linebacker. I believe that Smith can put his hand down in this scheme and rush the passer plus handle in the edge in the running game. He should get some reps this week rushing the passer in various drills and I am sure that this trait will show.
Martin is a straight defensive end, that has the length and the range to be effective in this Kiffin scheme. He can chase the ball, he gets up the field and he can defeat blockers one-on-one. Trent Murphy is a guy that has a very similar skill set and I would expect people to be talking about his play as the week goes along.
There will be players in this game that other teams will not want because of their schemes but this Cowboys scouting staff and coaches will covet and how they view these players will be critical.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout
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.
HURRY UP AND WAIT MODE: A slight chance for the Dallas Cowboys to keep defensive linemen Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer
IRVING, Texas – From a Dallas Cowboys-centric point of view, here is the good and bad just a little less than two months away from the start of free agency.
First, the bad.
As we all know by now, the Cowboys once again will have to engage in their yearly fat-trimming to get under the salary cap by the March 11 start to the new NFL year. While many seem to have their own ideas about how the Cowboys get to that NFL maximum, some quite wild I might add, Cowboys COO Stephen Jones does not seem quite as perplexed.
In a recent conversation, though, Jones said, “I don’t think there are any Houdini-type things we need to do to make the salary cap work in terms of being efficient and ultimately improve our roster. Obviously the focus still is with our cap situation, the draft and young players.
“But you don’t ever rule out trying to improve with one or two guys from the free-agent market who can help us.”
Then there is this: Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer, two mainstays on the defensive front over the past several years, are free agents, and the one thing the Dallas Cowboys have always seemingly accomplished since free agency began in 1994 is retaining their own free agents of choice.
Your chances of doing so considerably decrease with limited available salary cap dollars.
Doubly not good when it comes to Hatcher this year – as if it wasn’t going to be tough enough to even attempt to re-sign him, what with his breakout, career-high 11-sack season playing for the first time from the defensive tackle position in a 4-3 defense – is what took place on Thursday. Hatch has been named a replacement to the Pro Bowl team, and any time you are out there in free agency trying to market yourself – in other words, get the best offer possible – just returning from a Pro Bowl appearance in Hawaii is like a slot machine going ding, ding, ding.
No matter what you say, the Dallas Cowboys certainly would hate to write off the defensive tackle who led the NFL in sacks this past season. Double-digit sacks from inside is rather remarkable, and in fact Hatcher recorded the most sacks for a Cowboys defensive tackle since Randy White racked up 12.5 in 1984.
Good for Hatcher, who hit the personal mother lode, being named to the Pro Bowl team while his wife was in the process of giving birth to their baby girl.
For the Cowboys, bad, bad, bad.
Now, the good …
OK, let’s move on to what might become a couple of good breaks for Dallas. Let it be known the Cowboys certainly have not washed their hands of either player, but will be forced to sit back and see what the market might bear. Theirs must be a wait-and-see approach, knowing they can’t be the ones to set market value for either player.
“With our cap situation, that’s pretty much the way we have to go,” Jones said, “and that has nothing to do with the respect we have for Jason Hatcher or Anthony Spencer. They’ve obviously had great careers here in Dallas. We hope they continue to. But at the same time we certainly respect they have to take care of their families and do what’s best for them individually, and we fully expect that to happen.
“But hopefully they can do that and still be a Cowboy. We’ll just have to see. We’ll certainly be watching that. We don’t burn any bridges. I think Darren Woodson and Jay Novacek went into free agency without any contracts and they came home. … We certainly want to be in the mix.”
Let’s start with Spencer. This may play out in the Dallas Cowboys favor, since most figure no way the team can afford to re-sign their two-time franchised player. Well, not so fast.
Last time anyone saw Anthony Spencer following his Oct. 1 microfracture knee surgery he was still on crutches. That was in December. His recovery from the surgery that tries to promote the regrowth of missing cartilage under the kneecap is not going as well as expected. Chances are, because there was a pretty big divot of cartilage missing, there is no way he’ll be fully recovered when free agency begins on March 11. That means some team would have to take a leap of faith to sign an otherwise healthy Spencer to one of those five-year, $40 million deals with like $20 million guaranteed if he’s still limping around.
That will kill your market value faster than anything, and why players normally squawk when getting franchised as he was the past two seasons, knowing all they have is a one-year guarantee and any sort of long-term injury can kill your market value the coming offseason.
So who knows, maybe teams will take a hands-off approach to Spencer, and if that happens and if his knee doesn’t come around until like May or June, Spencer might be a prime candidate for one of those one-year minimum deals laced with some incentives, but without any guaranteed money.
That might be right up the Dallas Cowboys cap-depleted alley, and what better place to take a chance on yourself than by staying put. Now this all is unfortunate for Spencer, but let’s remember he’s made roughly $20 million over the past two seasons with the Cowboys while playing but one game this past season to collect half the sum.
Guys have been known to sign one year deals for a chance to re-establish their market value – that is, if that knee ever does come around – rather than sign some longer-term deal for far below what you might think your worth might be. Sort of like betting on yourself.
And as for Jason Hatcher, turning 32 in July? Well, you know how the many know-it-all’s keep saying no way the Cowboys should “pay age,” meaning don’t sign an aging player to one of these lucrative long-term deals that will outlive his productivity even if you have the funds, which the Cowboys really don’t.
Well, if you’re thinking that, maybe decision-makers for teams around the league are thinking the same thing. If they are, maybe that drives down his market value. Maybe Hatcher isn’t offered what he richly deserves. Just maybe then that means the going rate for a 32-year-old Pro Bowl defensive tackle becomes something more palatable for the Cowboys budget.
Who knows? We’ll see. Only time will tell for both guys.
But without Jason Hatcher and/or a healthy and affordable Anthony Spencer, a Dallas Cowboys defensive front already in bad need of refurbishing will need an even more intensive re-do. Any success doing so then rests at the mercy of the upcoming NFL draft.
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.”
The Jerry Jones Show: Jason Garrett’s future; Stance on coordinators | 16:17
Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones speaks with 105.3 The Fan for his final weekly show and talks about the decision to stick with Jason Garrett, and what the status is on the coordinators (Bill Callahan and Monte Kiffin) for both sides of the ball. (Watch Video | Listen Audio)
RELATED: Jerry Jones reaffirms his faith in Jason Garrett; Focusing on players
IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones left no doubts about the future of head coach Jason Garrett today.
Jones reaffirmed on 105.3 FM “The Fan” that he had made his decision to retain Garrett and that it wasn’t a decision he made recently. He said he decided that several weeks ago and that he likes what Garrett’s doing as a coach.
“One thing that’s a positive here is we’ve been in it,” Jones said. “We’ve been in it the last three years. Jason’s been on this staff going on seven years now. But we have been in it, during his time as head coach, we have been in it, right there playing for it, in the last game for the last three years.”
Jones said there’s a positive to competing and being in the mix in the division in the final week every year, but he also said he’s right there with fans wanting more than 8-8 and not having to play for a division title in the last game every year.
“That’s where we can have improvement,” he said.
With the news that Garrett would return, the attention now focuses on the future of the other coaches and coordinators. Jones said in this business, players and coaches can lose their jobs if they don’t get the job done with or without a contract, but he wouldn’t get into the specifics of many of the coaches’ contracts.
Jones said he was pleased he had defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan this year. That’s despite the Cowboys finishing last in the league in total defense and questions popping up throughout the year regarding the offensive play-calling.
The owner didn’t specifically state that those coordinators will stay next year, but he said to assume the coaching staff’s contract statuses will remain intact until they decide differently. He said those coordinators mentioned previously are still under contract.
“When we got them, I’ve never had as many people talk about, ‘Well, boy, you have really upgraded or, not upgraded would be the word, but you have really added a plus to the coaching staff,’” Jones said. “Now we had a rough year, but we didn’t necessarily have a rough year because of coaching, in terms of our defense. All that will be considered as we look forward.”
He also said the Cowboys won’t have the changes in the coaching staff area that they had last year. As far as what decisions will be made, Jones said he will look at that with Garrett going forward, but they haven’t discussed that in depth yet.
“We’ve made some philosophical changes this year with (Tony) Romo and his influence that he has in the offense,” Jones said. “We’ve made some changes regarding the philosophy of the defense. We need to practice that, we need to improve that, to the extent we can add personnel, which we certainly can through the draft.”
Most of Jones’ focus now seems to be on personnel rather than coaching. He said he’s had recent years where he thought the talent on the field was greater than it was this year, specifically because of the injuries the team sustained, but he also thought the team should have had more success with Romo on the field for 15 of 16 games.
“But when I look at the challenges that we had, frankly, and the numbers of players we had to bring on the roster and get on the field in a relatively short amount of time that for the most time weren’t a part of rosters or maybe aren’t going to be a part of rosters this year, I think we did a pretty good job getting the team out there under the circumstances,” Jones said. “Having said that, one of the things you look at is your depth.”
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.”
Owner Jerry Jones does not want to discuss the future of coach Jason Garrett while the Dallas Cowboys remain in the playoff hunt. That much is abundantly clear.
If the Cowboys fail on national television with a chance to win the division for the third consecutive season finale, though, all bets are off.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Media columnist Michael Silver reported on Monday’s edition of NFL Network’s “NFL Total Access” that jobs are indeed on the line in Dallas.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones told Silver that everybody in the organization is under pressure to perform for their jobs over the next two weeks. That includes “players, coaches, executives — everybody.”
Although ownership has given Garrett a vote of confidence regardless of the season’s outcome, that sentiment appears to have changed after the younger Jones referred to Sunday’s loss as one of the top-five most “brutal moments” in the 25 years he and his father have run the Cowboys.
Several people inside the Cowboys’ building have told Rapoport that nobody believes Jerry’s pledge to keep Garrett on board. In fact, the consensus is that it’s now “playoffs or bust” for Garrett’s livelihood in Dallas.
The front office changed defensive coordinators and play callers after the last two 8-8 seasons. If there’s a third, Garrett is expected to be the “next domino to fall,” per Silver.
There is an understanding at Valley Ranch that the talent level isn’t up to par, especially on defense. There’s also frustration among teammates that Romo has continued to audible from the run to the pass.
Those two factors aren’t enough to give Garrett a pass considering the ongoing struggles with game planning, play calling and time management in close games. The Week 17 showdown versus the Eagles might very well decide this coaching staff’s fate for the 2014 season.
THE NEXT MAN UP: Jason Garrett’s 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys find a way to win, even without centerpiece Sean Lee on the field
The Dallas Cowboys are 2-0 without Sean Lee in the middle of the defense, but it’s not like his influence has not been felt.
DeMarcus Ware said Lee remains a big presence everywhere except the field, continuing to work with his replacement, Ernie Sims, like a coach.
“When you have guys like Lee still in there, in the meeting rooms, still teaching Ernie what to do – everybody in this league is athletic – but if you can instill what you do mentally first, especially like Sean Lee, he’s showing them so many things and what to key on, and they’ve gotten better,” Ware said after the Thanksgiving Day victory against Oakland. “He’s still there, but just in another person’s body, of Ernie’s or whatever.”
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Lee has been missed, but there have been benefits.
“It caused us to do some moving around a little bit,” he said. “It’s probably caused us to see Wilber, who was steady against the Giants and again tonight. That may be a blessing for us.”
Lee said the defense has played “fantastic” without him.
“I think it shows you have a lot of guys who have worked hard, who have stepped up – guys like Kyle Wilber and Ernie Sims, who put in a ton of work,” he said. “And you have to give them a ton of credit, because they’ve been a huge reason why we’ve been able to win these two football games.”
Sean Lee said he is on track to play in the next game, Dec. 9 at Chicago.
ARLINGTON, Texas – All right, admit it, you were piping-hot mad when Terrance Williams fumbled the opening kickoff, and some Jenkins you probably never heard of – Greg, not Mike – picks up the loose ball and goes 23 yards for a Raiders touchdown in just 12 seconds.
You were spittin’-molars mad when that former Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Andre Holmes guy hauls in four receptions for 56 yards … in the first half. You remember him. Only on the Cowboys practice squad late last season. Available for the Patriots to sign him to their 53-man roster because he couldn’t hang on to the same type of passes with the Cowboys that he was catching at AT&T Stadium for the Raiders.
Guessing that you were cursin’-mad when the erstwhile 4-7 Raiders, losers of three of their previous four games and able to score more than 20 points only once during that span, had taken a 21-7 lead over the Cowboys with just 1:56 left in the first half before 87,572 disbelieving souls.
All the cred the Dallas Cowboys had gained with that spine-tingling 24-21 victory over the New York Giants four days earlier at MetLife to move to 6-5 was going right out the window like a bad pumpkin pie.
Same ol’ .500 Cowboys. Admit it, you said it, or at least were thinking it, right?
It sounds like Mr. Jerry Jones was right there with you, saying, “You really, if it were like the rest of us, you could have gotten your enthusiasm down a little bit.”
Heck, bet some of you were reaching for the remote, or at least the Alka-Seltzer if you already had indulged in your Thanksgiving dinner that was about to come up. Reminiscent of the same shape Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo had been in Wednesday night and the morning of the game.
“We just had to get up out of our comfort zone,” mercurial wide receiver Dez Bryant explained. “I guess we were feeling too comfortable.”
Guaran-darn-tee you they then were the only ones feeling comfortable at that point, the Raiders starting to believe this was going to be a runaway.
But just like that, as if one of those blue norther’s came blowing in from Oklahoma, the gritty Dallas Cowboys dragged you and the Raiders back in. Jettisoning Oakland, 31-24, while creating a not-since colorful holiday collage, as in …
Not since Oct. 13 against the Washington Redskins had the Cowboys scored as many as 31 points or as many as four touchdowns in one game.
Not since Sept. 22 had the Dallas Cowboys rushed for more than the 144 yards they pounded the Raiders with.
Not since Dec. 6, 2004, against Seattle had a Cowboys running back rushed for the three touchdowns DeMarco Murray did on this day in a single game.
Not since Oct. 6 against Denver had the Cowboys converted a higher percentage of third downs than the 54 percent they did so against the Raiders.
Not since Sept. 22 against the Rams had the Cowboys held a team to fewer than the 50 yards rushing they held the Raiders to, and to think Oakland came into the game as the NFL’s fourth-ranked rushing team.
Not since the first four games of the season had Romo completed 70 percent of his passes, going 12 of 12 in the second half and 17 of 19 from the final possession of the first half to finish at 71.8 for the day.
Maybe having just three days between games suits the Dallas Cowboys well, because …
Not since the middle of October had the Cowboys won the two straight games they now have won in a five-day span, first at the Giants, 24-21, and then this one over the Raiders – only the second time in the last 15 games that they have won back-to-back outings.
So then, not since the 2009 season when the Cowboys finished 11-5 did they have a better record (8-4) than their now 7-5 record after 12 games. By the way, puts them back in first place by a half-a-game over the 6-5 Eagles. Philadelphia must now match the Cowboys today when playing the red-hot Arizona Cardinals at home.
And, not since Dec. 16, 2012, that’s 14 games ago, have the Cowboys been as many as the two games over the .500 mark as they are now. Sitting with this weekend off and 10 whole days between meeting the Bears on Monday night in Chicago.
Well then, maybe having grandiose postseason dreams will not jinx this team, just as wearing those blue jerseys at home did not on Thursday, nor did Tony Romo having the cover story on the Sports Illustrated that arrived in mailboxes on Wednesday.
If your head needs leveling off, leave it to Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. He’s the steady-as-she-goes believer, saying after the Cowboys completed their-two-game Thanksgiving week sweep, “You have to be careful about taking a global point of view. You’ve just got to get back to work.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to get away for the next couple of days and then get back to work next week on Chicago. We’re focusing on our preparation and what to do to win a ballgame.”
Maybe there is something to Garrett’s even-keeled approach that more of you need to appreciate. Because if not, for sure panic would have set in late in the second quarter when rookie quarterback Matt McGloin and running back Rashad Jennings had the Raiders up 21-7.
As if awakening from a winter slumber, the Dallas Cowboys only consumed 1:21 of the 1:56 left in the second quarter to march the 73 yards for Murray’s second of three touchdowns. And that began an offensive onslaught of four scores in five possessions to finally reach thirtysomething for the first time in a month. Coming up just one yard short from scoring a fifth touchdown. Using a bit of common sense, Dan Bailey’s field goal from the one, put the Cowboys up 10 with just 1:56 remaining in the game.
Just keep on grinding, keep that head down, and when it’s over, then and only then do you even dare take a global view.
“Everything is happening right now at the right time,” Cowboys veteran defensive end DeMarcus Ware said before the team headed out for some well-deserved rest the next four days, “but you can’t get complacent with where you are, and we aren’t, and we know we have a big game coming up.”
Heavens no, not at this point, not taking a 7-5 record and a two-game winning streak into Chicago next time out while no worse than tied for first in the NFC East.
And goodness knows, not when there is a real chance to break that same ol’, same ol’ mold for the first time since … 2009.
You guys enjoy the break, too.
IRVING, Texas – It’s safe to say Dez Bryant left a much bigger imprint last weekend – in multiple ways.
After being targeted just twice with one catch on Nov. 10 in New Orleans, Bryant turned in nine catches for 102 yards on 16 targets on Sunday against the Giants. Though it’s fair to say that statline included both highs and lows.
Bryant’s night started with a dropped pass that led to a Giants interception, and it was made worse by a wacky fumble for a 21-yard loss. But Bryant made up for it with three clutch catches on the Cowboys’ game-winning drive.
“We got the job done, and like I said I was going through a little bit of adversity at the beginning of that, but things started clicking at the end,” he said.
Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Tuesday morning in his weekly interview with 105.3 The Fan that Bryant needed to work on ball security. He did add, however, that some of that is simply the way he approaches the game.
“He’s violent when he’s got the ball. He’s violent going after the ball. Consequently he does need to have that ball closer to his body,” Jones said. “I don’t know how much of that you’ll ever be able to coach out of him.”
For his part, Bryant said he doesn’t think there are any problems with his fundamentals. Instead, he said it’s a result of the elements the game was played in, which is something he’ll need to be mindful of in two weeks when the Cowboys travel to Chicago.
“My ball security, honestly, has always been fine,” Bryant said. “It was just that kind of a game where you have to be a little bit more prepared – focusing on what kind of difficulties it would be in the cold weather, handling the ball. I think you’ve just got to prepare a little bit better.”
His quarterback seemed pleased with the outcome, despite the miscues. The increased focus on Bryant helped Tony Romo to his second-best passing total in the past month.
“Dez is a great competitor. He competes. He did a great job on the last drive of winning on his individual matchups,” Romo said. “I think you saw that, and obviously he knows he’s got to take care of the football. He works very hard at that, so I suspect he’ll continue to do a good job.”
Jones acknowledged the same thing, pointing out the need for getting the ball to Bryant. His reception tally of nine against the Giants tied his season high, set in Kansas City. But Bryant wasn’t overly interested in drawing praise – even from the team owner.
“I can’t make this about the targets, you know? We did win that game as a team – it’s not all about me. Not to be rude,” he said.
That said, Bryant did acknowledge that his late-game success could help carry over into Thursday’s game. With yet another chance to create a winning streak this season, he said the offense needs to remember that it can build on success, even if things aren’t working perfectly.
“It’s a confidence booster. You want to take that and add on top of it, and you want other guys to feed on it. And I think that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” he said.
RELATED: Jerry Jones Show: Dez Bryant’s ‘violent’ running style leads to fumbles
IRVING (105.3 THE FAN) – It could have been a game-changing play — a play that ultimately flipped Sunday’s 24-21 win over the New York Giants.
With the Cowboys leading 21-13 in the fourth quarter, receiver Dez Bryant fumbled the ball while fighting for extra yards. The ball was deflected 20-yards backwards, leaving the Cowboys in a difficult third-and-3o situation.
It wasn’t the cold, or the defensive player, or anyone else that was responsible for the fumble. After the game, Bryant attributed the fumble to a lack of focus.
But Cowboys owner Jerry Jones attributes it to the running style of his star receiver.
“He’s violent when he’s got the ball,” said Jones on 105.3 The Fan’sNew School. “He’s violent going after the ball. Consequently, he does need to have that ball in closer. He needs to fundamentally have it closer to his body.”
In 54 career games with Dallas, Bryant has fumbled the ball 12 times. Compare that to other elite receivers like Detroit’s Calvin Johnson (13 fumbles, 102 games) and Cincinnati’s A.J. Green (3 fumbles, 42 games), and you might conclude that Bryant has a serious problem.
Jones however understands that, while it’s unacceptable, you have to take the good with the bad when coaching Dez.
“You’d like to say, ‘hey just take the ball and go straight up the field rather than trying to take it across,’” said Jones. “Of course, about the time that comes out of your mouth, he goes lateral across that field and breaks it about 40 yards.”
So can Jason Garrett and the Cowboys’ coaching staff expect Dez to change his running style?
“A lot of this is a natural, physical way he plays football, and you’re not going to coach it out of him.”
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – With a 4-0 record in the NFC East, the Dallas Cowboys appear to be in control of the division, but Jerry Jones is not ready to order up any banners just yet.
“I know the caliber of the teams,” Jones said. “I see how close these games are. You see what you did within the framework of a ballgame and you know how close it is. But we’ve given ourselves a chance. We’ve got a short week, but Oakland does, too. We want to come back and make the most of this win.”
At 6-5, the Dallas Cowboys are atop the NFC East again and could take sole possession of first place with a win against the Raiders. Their 17-3 win against the Philadelphia Eagles gives them a tiebreaking edge heading into Thursday’s game.
Jason Witten has been around the Cowboys long enough to know one win — even one as satisfying as the 24-21 win against the New York Giants — does not a season make. He knows it will mean little if the Dallas Cowboys cannot follow it up with a win on Thursday against the Raiders.
“We needed to get this win on the road against a division opponent like this, but we’re 6-5, you know?” Witten said. “We’ve got a lot of football to play and we’re still right in the hunt. We’re one game above .500. We’ve got a lot more wins to get.”
Jerry Jones said he would have preferred to have had his team playing during the bye week. But the Dallas Cowboys owner enjoyed a weekend away nonetheless.
Jones went on a family outing to their vacation home in Missouri. He deer hunted and then watched football on Sunday afternoon.
“The afternoon is a good time to take a break from hunting,” Jones said on his weekly radio show on 105.3 FM. “It was a great time to watch the games. We spent quite a bit of time with a lot of people watching the games. The different games. So that was very enjoyable, more to the point than anything. It does give you a chance to have a Sunday probably the way a life would have been without the Cowboys.”
The Cowboys, though, didn’t have a good off weekend. The Eagles beat the Redskins to move a half game ahead of the Cowboys in the NFC East, and the Giants won their fourth in a row to set up a big division showdown at The Meadowlands on Sunday.
“I always kind of miss playing,” Jones said. “I know the players don’t. I really know the coaches don’t as well. They appreciate this week off. But from the standpoint of watching our team …of where we stand ranking in the division, you kind of feel like you lost one when you look up at the division, and all of a sudden, you’re a game back of where you were when the weekend started and didn’t play to get that done. But we needed that rest.”
COWBOYS RIVAL HEADLINE: With Jerry Jones running Cowboys, Dallas in for Doomsday | New York Daily News | Cowboys vs. Giants rivalry
The Boys Are Back editor comments: This is an example of the crap spread around by clueless so-called NFL experts. This homers point of view is complete with quotes and opinions from unnamed sources. It includes all of the standard talking points used by jealous and bias sports reporters jockeying for attention and headlines from more respected sports journalists.
A former NFL general manager who is identified as someone who helped his team to a Super Bowl told the New York Daily News reporter that Jerry Jones is a “horrific” GM who “undermines his head coaches with his antics.”
“What makes him bad is everything he does is based on perception, star power, making a splash. Fourth or fifth on the list is soundness. Everything revolves around him,” the unnamed GM said.
In the story, Daily News columnist Gary Myers suggests Jones should relinquish his GM duties and stick to his strengths as an owner and marketer, a common theme among pundits.
Dallas, who’s 5-5 this season, plays at the New York Giants (4-6) on Sunday at 3:25 p.m.
PHOTO: While the Cowboys owner is a shrewd business man, some of his football moves leave many scratching their heads. With owner Jerry Jones calling the football shots, it is no wonder the Cowboys struggle to regain their Super Bowl championship form of the 90s.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is an incredibly bright and creative businessman, a real marketing genius, and he has helped turn Dallas into the most valuable franchise in American sports. So many of his ideas have contributed to the NFL now being a $9 billion-a-year industry.
But if the Cowboys ever want to win their sixth Lombardi Trophy, then Jones must shake up his front office.
He needs to call himself in for a little talk.
“Sit down Jerry,” says Jones the owner.
“Yes, sir, Mr. Jones,” says Jones the GM.
PHOTO: Eli Manning and the Giants find much more success than their division rivals in recent years.
You’re fired,” says Jones the owner.
See, it’s that easy. Painless.
America’s Team is the best nickname in sports, but it no longer fits the Cowboys and needs to be revoked until they get back to a Super Bowl — if they ever get back to a Super Bowl.
Of course, they are worth $2.3 billion according to Forbes, the television networks can’t get enough of them, they have the best stadium in the world, but, as one executive with another team (who?) laughed Monday about the nickname, “America likes winners,” and the Cowboys just don’t win championships anymore.
The Dallas Cowboys will be at MetLife Stadium to play the New York Giants on Sunday in a game with big implications on the mediocre NFC East race. Dallas is 5-5, which is not unusual since they are 109-109 since the turn of the century. The Giants, after their 0-6 start, have won four straight as Tom Coughlin implores his players “to keep the dream alive.” They are both chasing the Eagles, who have won three in a row to get to 6-5.
PHOTO: Since taking over as GM, Jones has seen more than his share of flops from Tony Romo.
But, really, how ‘bout them Cowboys?
They have endured 17 consecutive seasons without making it to the Super Bowl after winning three in a four-year period. During the Dallas drought, the longest in franchise history, longer than its expansion years, 20 different teams have been to the Super Bowl, including the Patriots six times and the Giants, Steelers and Packers three times each. In that time, the Cowboys have made the playoffs seven times and have two wild-card victories.
I was there on Feb. 25, 1989, in the Cowboys team meeting room at their Valley Ranch headquarters, when Jones announced he had bought the team, fired the legendary Tom Landry and replaced him with Jimmy Johnson. It was called the Saturday Night Massacre and it was an unforgettable moment in NFL history.
The most famous line that came out of that news conference was when Jones proclaimed he would be in charge of everything from “socks to jocks.”
Maybe Jones was running just about every department including the laundry department back then, but Johnson was running the personnel department and he brought in enough great players to win the Super Bowl following the 1992 and 1993 seasons and then left when he and Jones fought over who deserved the credit. There was enough of the core remaining that the relatively clueless Barry Switzer came off his couch to win a Super Bowl with Johnson’s players in 1995.
PHOTO: Jason Pierre-Paul and the Giants should be happy to see the Cowboys late in the year.
Yet, once Johnson and then his players eventually departed, Jones was on his own to restock as the undisputed general manger. And while nobody in the NFL is better at making money, the Cowboys can’t compete in the front office. Jones hired a bunch of puppets as head coaches following Johnson — Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, Wade Phillips and now Jason Garrett — with one exception.
Jones tried to get it right when he hired Bill Parcells in between Campo and Phillips, and he allowed Parcells more input in their four seasons together than anybody since Johnson. But he still forced malcontent Terrell Owens on Parcells and Dallas was the only one of Parcells’ four head coaching jobs where he didn’t win a playoff game.
It’s startling that Jones the owner has put up with Jones the GM this long.
“As a general manager, he’s horrific. Just horrific,” said a former GM who once helped his team get to a Super Bowl. “What makes him bad is everything he does is based on perception, star power, making a splash. Fourth or fifth on the list is soundness. Everything revolves around him. He undermines his head coaches with his antics. They don’t have a lot of real harmony and he creates a lot of the storms.”
Jones gave Tony Romo a six-year, $108 million contract in March even though he’s won just one playoff game in seven years as the starter. He dumped defensive coordinator Rob Ryan after last season and replaced him with Monte Kiffin, who was one of the best — 10 years ago.
After the Saints torched the Cowboys for 625 yards in their 49-17 victory with Ryan on the opposite sideline as the New Orleans defensive coordinator, Jones admitted the switch “doesn’t look good right now.” He initially called a 51-48 loss to the Broncos a “moral victory,” which was then refuted by his son Stephen, a team vice president, and Garrett.
Jones is ultra-competitive and is willing to spend to win. He is clearly one of the smartest people in the NFL. So why isn’t he smart enough to fire himself as GM and hire somebody as good at making football decisions as Jones is at making money? “His ego is so big,” one personnel director said. “He’s had so many chances to do it and won’t. He’s going down with the ship.”
How ’bout them Cowboys?
Written by: Gary Myers | New York Daily News
In an interview with CBS This Morning, which you can view in the video below, Jerry Jones explained his love for the phone.
“It’s free of hip dialing,” Jones said. “You can have some pretty confidential conversations and not get overheard by the camera man by talking into this flip phone.”
Jones was asked what it said about him that he had a $1.2 billion stadium but only a flip phone.
“It’s how you have a stadium worth $1.2 (billion). If you watch your pennies and you have flip phones. You can’t have it all.”
Got that? Get a flip phone and you too can have a stadium worth $1.2 billion.
Also doesn’t necessarily mean that it takes a smartphone to make you smart.
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