MEET MARINELLI’S MAULERS: Loss of DeMarcus Ware means relentless waves of Dallas Cowboys rushmen | 2014-2015 defensive trenches outlook | Seventeen DL-men remain | In-depth Analysis
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys report to Oxnard for training camp in a few days (July 22). Several questions center around Rod Marinelli’s 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys 4-3 defense … including:
Where will the pass rush come from after the notable personnel changes this offseason?
COWBOYS OFFSEASON OUTLOOK: Evaluating the offensive fits as 2014-2015 mini-camps conclude | Dallas Cowboys roster
IRVING, Texas – With the Dallas Cowboys 2014-2015 offseason practices now finished, here’s a breakdown of what to look for at each offensive position moving forward.
THE ROOKIES IN REVIEW: Evaluating the youngest Dallas Cowboys value going into the 2014 2015 NFL season | Team needs emerging stars to impact roster depth
Some of them played active roles, had to grow up quickly and learn on the run.
Looking ahead, it’s time to rank the best rookies on the roster. The criteria is about performance last year and also their big-picture perspective heading into 2014 and beyond.
When the season concluded, the Dallas Cowboys had exactly 10 rookies on the depth chart, so without any honorable mentions, let’s jump right in.
10. Cameron Lawrence – Forced into action because of the injuries at linebacker, Lawrence finished second on the team with 12 special teams tackles, despite playing just 10 games. Lawrence might have a hard time making this team again if all the linebackers are healthy in camp but he proved he can be a difference maker on special teams and that always helps.
9. Jakar Hamilton – He wasn’t as productive as Lawrence by any means, but in terms of long-term, Hamilton could have more upside, especially considering the question marks at safety. Hamilton got put in a bad spot in the Detroit game and his inexperience was put on display. What a rough spot for any rookie to make his debut. But he once started at Georgia as a freshman, so talent is there.
8. B.W. Webb – This fourth-round pick wasn’t much of a contributor this past season. He was also forced into action more than the Cowboys wanted and there were more struggles. And that was somewhat expected considering he came from William & Mary and now he’s playing slot cornerback. He was eventually replaced by Sterling Moore in the nickel, but let’s see what kind of jump he makes from Year 1 to Year 2.
7. Jeff Heath – If this was about production and stats, Heath would’ve likely been No. 3 on this list. Say what you want about the New Orleans game when he had a night to forget or some other plays in which his coverage skills are in question, but Heath showed a lot of promise for an undrafted rookie from Saginaw Valley State. Heath started only six games but finished sixth in tackles with 60 and tied for fourth with six pass breakups.
6. J.J. Wilcox – He gets the nod over Heath on this list because of upside only. Don’t forget Wilcox only played one year of safety in college before joining the Cowboys so it’s still a learning process for him. He had some moments where he flashed his athletic ability but there were also some “lost” moments. Come next year, Wilcox likely gets the chance to win the job once again.
5. Joseph Randle – His placement’s based more on what he could mean in the future than what he contributed as a rookie, finishing with 54 carries for 164 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Unless an extension gets worked out, this upcoming year will be DeMarco Murray’s last season under contract with the Cowboys. Dallas drafted Randle as a potential carry-the-load back and someone capable of handling the full duties. The Cowboys have to figure out if he can be a long-term option next year.
4. Gavin Escobar – He flashed his potential a few times throughout the year but was only used sparingly. This offseason might be more essential for him than any other rookie on this team. The coaches continually emphasized just how important it will be for Escobar to get stronger prior to the start of next season. The backup tight end finished with nine catches, 134 yards and two touchdowns, serving more as a passing option than a stout run blocker.
3. DeVonte Holloman – The rookie, who never played middle linebacker prior to the 2013 season, finished the year as the starter at that spot after various injuries. The sixth-round pick also happened to be one of the most valuable contributors among the rookie class, finishing with 28 tackles and tied for fourth on the team with two sacks, both of which came in the finale. That was his best game of the year, leading the team with 11 combined tackles. He should compete for a starting outside linebacker spot next year.
2. Terrance Williams – One of the more inconsistent players early in the year and in training camp became one of the offense’s most accountable, consistent options late in the year. The receiver’s ability to get behind the defense added an element for Tony Romo and Kyle Orton that few other players possessed on the team. His 44 catches for 736 yards and five touchdowns all rank in the top five in team history among rookies, and he got noticeably better as the year went on.
1. Travis Frederick – The Cowboys were highly criticized for moving back and grabbing the Wisconsin center late in the first round, but he couldn’t have exceeded expectations much more than he did. Frederick immediately stepped in as the center and stayed on the field all year, helping to anchor the Cowboys’ best rushing attack in years. There were some growing pains early on, but by the end of the year he helped the Cowboys’ offensive line become one of the most formidable in the league.
There are reasons that teams try and protect themselves with players at certain positions throughout the season. This team has had a history of carrying extra players on the roster just in case they had to deal with an injury or two. There is no question that the investment that Jerry Jones made in Kyle Orton two seasons ago, was clearly in mind for the situation that they are now dealing with Tony Romo.
There are important positions that you must have backups on your team but to go short at quarterback, you are just asking for disaster. To Kyle Orton’s credit, he put aside his feelings and desires to compete as a starting quarterback, for an opportunity to sit behind Tony Romo and be ready if he is called on. What do you get from Kyle Orton against the Eagles on Sunday? Here are my thoughts:
- Is ready at a moment’s notice. Regardless of what people might believe, Orton gets no reps in practice with the first offense. When the team practices on offense, whether it is 8 to 10 plays, Romo takes all the snaps, it’s just the team’s way of getting Romo ready to play. Orton will get reps with the receivers, tight ends and backs when he throws drills during 1-on-1 or 7-on-7, but that is largely where he gets work with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, or DeMarco Murray.
- Where Orton is completely different from Romo is in the area of mobility, so those 2nd chance throws that we see from Romo where he buys time with his feet, you will not see those types of plays. Orton has to play with his smarts in this area by knowing where to go with the ball.
- Orton like Romo, is just as willing to take a chance on a tight window throw. Orton does play with a great deal of confidence in his ability to put the ball right on the receiver. I have seen him make throws where the receiver is completely covered, but he somehow managed to fit the ball right in there. Not afraid to rip the ball down the middle of the field.
- In the times that I have seen Orton work, have always been impressed with his smarts when it came to reading the defense and getting rid of the ball. Knows he has to be smart in setting the protection and making the right reads because of his lack of foot quickness. Is more likely to hang in there and deliver the ball but you know it is coming out of there. Does a really nice job of keeping his eyes down the field.
- Throws a very catchable ball. Has some power on it but he is one of those quarterbacks that doesn’t make his receivers have to work for it. Can hit receivers stationary or on the move. Knows how to throw them open. Doesn’t put his guys in bad spots. Ball will arrive on time, not the type to throw it late. Does a nice job of reading coverage and going the right direction.
- Would not say that he is the ball handler or faker of Romo. Not going to completely sell the fake but more likely to hit it quick, then get the ball down the field.
- Has really nice touch for screens and check down passes. Threw one of the prettiest touch passes I had ever seen to Cole Beasley in a game during the preseason against the Raiders for a touchdown that was just right over the top of the defender.
- Do not see the offense changing much with him at quarterback. Still can run your scheme because he has the experience and ability to make plays. Do not have to hold things back because of him.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Dallas Cowboys Analyst/Former Scout
IRVING, Texas – A quick look at new defensive tackle Frank Kearse, who the Dallas Cowboys added to their roster earlier this week.
Frank Kearse: 6-4 | 315 | 5.31 40-yard dash | Alabama A&M.
Has spent time with the Dolphins and Panthers before landing on the practice squad of the Titans this season.
Drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round of 2011 NFL Draft
Game film studied:
Carolina 2012 season against Miami, Kansas City, Atlanta, San Diego.
Will play as a one-technique in this scheme. Might be better suited to play as an end in a 3-4 but gives you some size inside at the one.
Is not that quick-twitch type of player that Rod Marinelli is accustomed to playing with, but his power is impressive.
Gets more push with power and upper body strength than he does with pass rush moves. Can walk blockers back.
Can be difficult to move at the point of attack at times. Able to hold up against double teams. Observed him holding off blocker with one arm.
Is active when it comes to moving down the line and working toward the ball. Showed some mobility.
Was able to redirect and change directions. Not a stiff moving player. Can play the low block and keep balance.
Had a nice sack against the Falcons where he defeated the double team with power, collapsed the pocket on Matt Ryan.
Was very impressed how he battled Max Unger from the Seahawks. In the plays he had, never allowed him to control him in the running game.
There were some snaps where I thought he could have played better with his hands, and when he didn’t that got him in trouble. Would help him shed blockers better.
NFL Sound FX: Dez Bryant Mic’d Up vs. Green Bay Packers | 5:11
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant during the Dallas Cowboys 37-26 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Witness, through Bryant’s mic, some of the events that led to the last minute defeat. (Watch this Video)
IRVING, Texas – Observations from the film room at Valley Ranch:
Starts Up Front
Since the bye week, it has been remarkable how this Cowboys offensive line has come together as a group and the job they have done in these last four weeks. Where there were issues with run blocking and leaky protection in 2012, the changes at center and guard with Travis Frederick and Ronald Leary have paid off greatly.
Doug Free is once again playing at the level that we saw from him three seasons ago and Mackenzy Bernadeau has been steady on the right side working next to him.
The best player on this line and maybe best player overall on the offense is Tyron Smith.
Smith is playing at an elite level, and it is getting him noticed around the league. When I have a chance to visit with scouts from around the league, it’s Smith they want to talk about. In this game against the Packers, he had the job of dealing with Clay Matthews, who was their best pass rusher. In the week leading up to the game, I was getting that vibe that these coaches were very comfortable in allowing Smith to handle Matthews without any help, and that allowed Leary, Frederick , Bernadeau and Free to focus on the other Packers defensive linemen and linebackers.
Smith was so good against Matthews, Dom Capers moved him away from Smith just to give him a shot to try and get some pressure on Romo. No matter how hard Matthews tried to rush, he could not unlock Smith, who has become a much more complete tackle against both the run and pass.
Where this line has been outstanding as a unit is as run blockers. Against the Packers, who play with some powerful men in their base 3-4, they were able to create cracks and gaps, which DeMarco Murray took full advantage of.
To Murray’s credit, he ran the ball with some power and resolve. This line is doing a much better job of working together to secure these blocks. You are seeing more hats on hats with finish. Where this group had their issues earlier in the season, they are doing a much better job of changing or moving the line of scrimmage and giving Murray the opportunities to make the cuts that we have seen from him or just carry the ball play side.
The group has also done a quality job in pass protection. When they have had problems, it has usually come from the coordination of their responsibilities with the running backs. There have been some sacks of Romo this season where it wasn’t on the offensive line and on the backs.
The numbers on Sunday show that the offensive line gave up three sacks and two of them were on the line, but the third was due to coverage down the field. Of those two sacks, one was due to a miss by Frederick, who worked across the pocket in an effort to try and help Bernadeau, but he whiffed and it allowed Mike Daniels to get to Romo.
The next sack was a nice design by Capers when the Packers ran a twist stunt inside with Clay Matthews, and Leary was late getting over to secure the block. Romo had nowhere to go, resulting in the sack.
I thought overall, this group really did a nice job up front, and, in the second half, if Garrett and Callahan wanted to continue to run the ball, this group would have been up to the challenge of blocking this Packers front seven, without any issues.
I was surprised they didn’t attempt to do that.
The Other End
There were not many things that went right for this Cowboys defense in the second half, but one area that did was the play of George Selvie. In the build up toward this game with the Packers, I was calling for DeMarcus Ware to step up and lead this defense to victory, but it was Selvie that was the most noticeable player when I sat down and broke down the game — which was a big surprise to me.
Selvie finished the afternoon with six tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss and one quarterback hurry. Where Selvie was at his best in this games was how he was able to get off the ball. He was attacking the entire game, and his burst off the ball put him in some very good positions to make plays.
The biggest issue for Selvie this year has been dealing with teams that want to run the ball at him, because offenses feel like they can take advantage of his lighter build. Each game, Selvie is giving up an average of 40 or 50 pounds to these tackles and it is making it difficult on him.
Against the Packers, he did a much better job of holding the point attack and not allowing the ball to get over the top of him or to the edge. This was a huge improvement of what happened to him last week against the Bears, where he struggled to defeat blocks and did a poor job of defeating blocks.
If George Selvie is going to have success at defensive end for the Cowboys, this is going to be exactly how he did it in this game — with quickness up the field, using his eyes and playing with leverage, which he was able to do.
IRVING, Texas – Two of the NFL’s top 10 receivers this season both reside on the upcoming opponent of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys have faced some of the toughest receivers in the league this season, from Calvin Johnson to Victor Cruz to the plethora of options at Peyton Manning’s disposal, but Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall could be the best duo they see all year.
“They’re real strong,” said cornerback Orlando Scandrick. “They both go up and catch the ball and highpoint well. We have faced good guys that go up, but I don’t know if we’ve faced two guys that go up and get the ball like these guys and are having seasons like these guys.”
Both Marshall and Jeffery are two of the bigger receivers in the game, each standing at least 6-3 and more than 215 pounds. They’ve totaled more than 2,000 combined receiving yards already this season and each ranks in the top five receiving in the NFC.
“There’s no question they’re awfully good outside,” said head coach Jason Garrett. “They have big, strong receivers who can go and get the football. Both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are guys who can make plays out there when they’re contested. I think their quarterbacks do a great job of giving them a chances to do it.”
The 6-foot-4 Marshall’s got an inch on Jeffery, and the Dallas Cowboys saw just how dominant and difficult to cover Marshall can be. When the teams met last year in Dallas, Marshall hauled in seven catches for 138 yards.
That was before Jeffery came on as an elite threat. Now that he has, teams are put in a bind trying to figure out which player to focus on.
“Teams now have to play fair,” Marshall said. “He’s starting to put on tape and show the NFL that the Chicago Bears have two wide receivers that can dominate. If you want to double me or roll coverage, Alshon is going to be on the other side licking his chops and taking advantage of each opportunity.”
Jeffery only had three catches against the Dallas Cowboys last year, but he’s a completely different receiver from the player he was last year.
After finishing with 24 catches for 367 yards last year, Jeffery’s already beyond the 1,000-yard receiving mark this year with 70 catches for 1,109 yards and five touchdowns.
“They’re big,” Garrett said. “All of their weapons, the guys who make a lot of plays on the ball, are big, strong guys who are long. They have good ball skills and they make those contested catches. You just have to compete, you have to do a good job at the line of scrimmage and certainly at the point of the catch.”
Jeffery’s developed a rapport in recent weeks with backup quarterback Josh McCown, who’s the likely starter for the Bears on Monday, and is coming off a 249-yard, two-touchdown receiving day.
Scandrick said what makes Jeffery special apart from his big frame is his body control.
“He doesn’t spend a lot of time at the line of scrimmage,” Scandrick said. “He just takes his release, uses his body to shield you and goes and gets the ball.”
Despite all that, Scandrick believes the Cowboys have a good game plan to try to restrict what the Bears can do. In addition, the frigid Chicago temperature could also have an effect on the passing game for both teams.
Then again, Scandrick’s not preparing for the weather to halt the Bears’ plan too drastically.
He said it doesn’t take much to throw up a jump ball to those two guys, in which case the corners can’t get distracted with the receivers’ height. Both Scandrick (5-10) and the 6-foot-tall Brandon Carr will surrender at least three inches to the Bears’ top receivers.
“You just play the ball,” Scandrick said. “You don’t want to get caught up into thinking how tall he is. You play the ball and hopefully you come down with it.”
Scandrick and DeMarcus Ware believe the key for the defense eliminating the big plays that have bit the Cowboys’ defense in the past. Scandrick said there were too many times last week when the Raiders’ receivers got on top of the defense, but he thinks the game-plan this week should help the Cowboys out more.
As always, he looks forward to the challenge of playing two of the best receivers in the game.
“I’m so competitive,” Scandrick said. “I love these moments, and I feel like we’ve got a bunch of competitive guys on this team. We’re all up for the challenge.”
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.
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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BOYS BYE-WEEK BREAKDOWN: Rookie center Travis Frederick has stabilized the offensive line by playing beyond his years
Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line Breakdown
This article is part of a series. To see all related posts, click HERE. Enjoy!
Top Performer: Rookie center Travis Frederick
From what we experienced last season with this Dallas Cowboys offensive line, there has been improvement with Ronald Leary at left guard, the contributions of Brian Waters on the right side along with Doug Free and the continued growth of Tyron Smith at left tackle.
But if you really want to focus where this line improved the most, it would be at center with Travis Frederick in the lineup. Drafted to be a starter since day one, Frederick has played with the skill and knowledge far above what many scouts around the league had projected him to be able to accomplish. Frederick has been steady in his approach and reliable in his execution. As a player, he is truly playing beyond his years in one of the most demanding positions along the offensive line.
For Frederick it has been a learning experience throughout this season from the time where he had to face Dontari Poe in Kansas City to Brodrick Bunkley and John Jenkins in New Orleans, Frederick has improved every week that he has had the opportunity to line up in a game.
What Travis Frederick has given this offensive line is something they have not had in recent seasons and that is stability in the middle. One of the reasons that this line can survive a loss like they suffered with Waters is because Frederick has been able to adjust to whomever he has lined up next to and for a rookie to be able to handle that says a great deal about his game.
Need More From: Doug Free in the running game
It would be real easy to say this offensive line needs more from Mackenzy Bernadeau, and they do. But, they need even more from Doug Free. No disrespect to how Free is playing, because he has been the least of their problems on offense.
Where we need more from Free is on that right side playing next to Bernadeau. There are going to be matchups down the stretch where opponents are going to feel that going over him is a better option than trying to get by Tyron Smith. If you look at the upcoming games, there will be no break for this line in the types of pass rushers that they are going to face.
If this offense is going to get back on track, they are going to need Free to be at his absolute best. Though they were able to get away from the sacks in the Vikings game, where Free struggled against Brian Robinson, they might not be so fortunate against Justin Tuck or Clay Matthews. Free has done a much better job of playing with his technique and really that has allowed him to return to the type of player that we observed three seasons ago.
Where this offense also needs more from Free is in the running game. When he is really on his game and the ball is going to the outside, he can secure the edge and he has done a much better job with this, but like Jason Garrett says, there is always room for improvement.
Six-Game Forecast: It always comes down to what you do in the trenches
There is going to be a great deal of pressure put on this offensive line as they work through these final six games.
When this group gives Tony Romo time, we have seen that plays can be made. At times, they have been able to create opportunities when DeMarco Murray has the ball in his hands, so that has been a positive as well. As much as you want to say that the skill players on this team need to pick up their game, this offensive line is going to have to be the difference makers.
They have been getting consistent play from their tackles, the left guard and center are basically rookies, and they have been able to hold their own. They have to find a way to replace the veteran leadership of Brian Waters, but Mackenzy Bernadeau is not a terrible option. The starting five against the Giants this week are the same starting five that opened the season together in a victory that night.
This group has been more of a solution this season than a problem, and if this club is going to win the division, it’s going to be on their shoulders.
BOYS BYE-WEEK BREAKDOWN: All tight ends, including James Hanna should be more involved in the offense
Dallas Cowboys Tight Ends Breakdown
This article is part of a series. To see all related posts, click HERE. Enjoy!
Top Performer: Jason Witten
It’s no surprise that Jason Witten continues to play at the level that he has. Despite all the battles that this veteran has seen, there still is that skill when it comes to route running and securing the ball when it is thrown in his direction. What all these seasons in the league has done for Witten, it has allowed him to become crafty of a player. When it comes to the ins and outs of offensive football, Jason Witten would be that guy to ask. He has such an outstanding working knowledge of what teams are trying to do to him and how he needs to combat them.
Jason Garrett has told us many times, there is nothing new of Witten having to fight through these defensive schemes that are trying to take him out of the game. Where Witten has been at his best, is when he does get those opportunities to work against single coverage and find that space. These offensive coaches, are working the ball to Witten in the red zone. It’s never a bad situation to put your best player in when it comes to catching the ball in tight spaces. Jason Witten has proven, he can consistently deliver in that role, which he has all season.
Need More From: James Hanna
Offensive coaches need to get James Hanna more involved in the offense but doesn’t appear that will be the case. Like Lance Dunbar, there are things that Hanna can do to help this offense in the passing game. For example, more routes up the field, instead of those chances that he just gets in the flat. If Hanna is not going to be used in the passing game, then expect more from him at the point of attack in the running game.
On DeMarco Murray’s 35-yard run against the Saints, Hanna had an outstanding kick-out block on Kenny Vacarro that allowed Murray to sneak inside of him. Jason Witten sealed the edge that got Murray to the 2nd level and off to the races. Where Hanna has had his struggles is when he hasn’t been as powerful as he needed to be and he gets compressed into the backfield causing the ball to be stopped for no gain or even for a loss. Where this offense needs to take advantage of Hanna is allowing him to block on the move like he did in the Saints game. He is a much better player when he can attack a defense this way because of his athletic ability to stay on his feet and run with his man. Regardless, this offense needs more from James Hanna on the edge.
Six-Game Forecast: Tight ends are a safe, high percentage tool for extending drives
These games down the stretch are going to be tough and tight which requires your players to be at their absolute best when it comes to executing plays. The safest route when trying to control or finish games is how you use your tight ends in certain situations.
Despite the fact that we have really only seen Jason Witten as that go to guy. James Hanna and even Gavin Escobar are going to have to make some tough plays down the stretch. All three of these tight ends have the ability to get down the field and secure the ball when it is thrown in their direction. You use your tight ends, when you want to make simple, easy throws. We understand that their “11” and “01” personnel groups might be their best packages when it comes to moving the ball, but there will be a game or two where this “12” personnel group will be the difference in the outcome in the game.
There is just too much talent with these tight ends not to fully take advantage of their ability. These final six games will prove that to be the case.
Dallas Cowboys Wide Receivers Breakdown
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Top Performer: Dez Bryant
The ultimate compliment to a player is when opponents focus their entire game plan in an attempt to take you out of the game for that day. There is no question when you study these games that defensive coordinators are determined to not allow Dez Bryant to take over a game.
Kansas City has been the only club this season that tried to play Bryant with single coverage and that almost got them beaten. The numbers say that despite all this attention, Bryant is still finding ways to continue to make plays, but I will also say that it has come at a price. Bryant has had to fight his rear off every snap to try and find space.
It hasn’t been easy for him and at times it has been frustrating, but these are the situations that the top receivers around the league have to deal with every day. There has never been a question of Bryant’s ability to go get the ball, but where he needs to improve his game is his ability as a route runner to work those routes against the various schemes designed to take him out of the game.
There was a time early in his career where he had no shot — now at least he has an understanding of what he needs to do to give himself a chance to succeed. Bryant is also going to need the help of the coaching staff to put himself in a better position to make plays, as well.
Need More From: Miles Austin
The medical staff made the determination to shut Miles Austin down after the Philadelphia game and attempt to get him ready for these final six games. If ever a player needed to step up on this offense and make a difference, it is Austin.
With no disrespect to Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris, the reason that Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are seeing the type of coverage that they are is because there is no threat on the outside. In regards to Williams, teams are making the rookie to have to fight playing through press coverage all day, and he just doesn’t have the knowledge of how to beat that with any consistency.
At least with Austin in the lineup, Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan can pair Austin with Bryant on the same side of the field and that will draw coverage away from Bryant. They can also use him in those bunch formations along with Witten and make teams have to play man against it or take their chances in zone.
Understandably, there is not a great deal of confidence in how well Austin’s health may hold up these last six weeks and beyond, but right now, it is the best option this offense has in trying to help them move the ball with more consistency, convert third downs and finish drives.
Austin is back on the practice field at his normal spot at the “Z,” and from all reports he’s made it through without any issues.
Six-Game Forecast: More weapons mean more pressure on defenses
We have seen some games this season where these receivers have been clutch, but also some times where they have been completely shut down.
As this offense goes, so do the receivers. Getting Austin back for this group is a huge step in the right direction in terms how it will help take coverage away from Bryant and Witten.
The more potential weapons they have on the field, the more opportunity to see them put pressure on these defenses to have to defend the entire offense. Dez Bryant is still the best option here and should continue to be, but he needs help.
That means Austin, Williams, Beasley and Harris need to step up their games as well. When this group is on, it can be hard to deal with — like it was in the final drive of the Minnesota game. For these next six games, these receivers need to find a way to be a nasty, play making group, because their postseason lives are on the line.
The Dallas Cowboys entered the 2013 NFL bye-week in the same position they’ve finished the past two seasons – with a .500 record.
Unlike the way those other seasons ended, the Dallas Cowboys currently find themselves atop the NFC East standings. Translation: If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Dallas Cowboys would be hosting the Carolina Panthers in a Wild Card game.
But since the playoffs don’t begin Sunday and the Cowboys don’t have a game this weekend, it’s a good time to see how they stack up against the other 31 teams in several categories.
According to Pro Football Focus, here are how some of your favorite Dallas Cowboys compare to other players around the NFL:
2013-2014 DALLAS COWBOYS OFFENSE
- Tony Romo is ranked No. 12 among quarterbacks. A few of the most interesting names ahead of him: Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, Chicago’s Jay Cutler and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan.
- Just grading Romo as a passer, he ranks seventh.
- Romo trails Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton in number of drop backs. Dalton 496, Romo 399, New Orleans’ Drew Brees 391, Detroit’s Matthew Stafford 389, Matt Ryan 389.
- Romo received the offense’s lowest grade for the 49-17 loss in New Orleans.
- Over the last five weeks, Romo has posted his four lowest grades of the year.
- Dez Bryant ranks 13th among the league’s wide receivers. Cole Beasley is 36th, Miles Austin is 84th and Terrance Williams is 90th.
- Beasley is No. 1 in the league in percentage caught, hauling in 76.5 percent of the passes thrown in his direction. Williams led this category earlier in the year but has since fallen to 66th, catching 58 percent of the passes thrown to him. Williams, however, does lead the team in yards per reception at 17.2, 12th best in the NFL.
- Doug Free is No. 13 among offensive tackles. Tyron Smith is No. 15.
- Although he hasn’t played in the last two games, Brian Waters is still the team’s highest-graded guard, ranking 24th. Mackenzy Bernadeau, who had the offense’s best grade against New Orleans, is 31st and Ron Leary is 49th.
- Rookie Travis Frederick is eighth among centers.
- Surprisingly, the Dallas Cowboys, who are 26th in the NFL in rushing, are graded as the eighth-best run blocking team.
- Among tight ends, Jason Witten is No. 17. The biggest knock on the eight-time Pro Bowler is his run blocking. He ranks 29th in that category.
- DeMarco Murray has missed two games but he still ranks 12th among running backs. Murray is No. 5 in blocking among backs.
2013-2014 DALLAS COWBOYS DEFENSE
- George Selvie had been one of the top 10 defensive ends in a 4-3 scheme earlier in the year but three negative grades over the last five weeks have dropped him to 27th. DeMarcus Ware is No. 9.
- Of the 80 outside linebackers graded, Ernie Sims is 78 and Bruce Carter is 77.
- Jason Hatcher is third among defensive tackles. Nick Hayden is the lowest-graded defensive tackle in the league.
- Sean Lee is sixth among inside linebackers.
- Cornerback grades: Orlando Scandrick 31, Brandon Carr 46, Morris Claiborne 86.
- Barry Church is the Cowboys’ top-rated safety, tied for 25th in the league.
2013-2014 DALLAS COWBOYS SPECIAL TEAMS
- Dan Bailey is third among kickers, trailing only Denver’s Matt Prater and Carolina’s Graham Gano.
- Dwayne Harris is No. 3 among returners. He’s 18th on punt returns and second on kick returns, trailing only Minnesota’s Cordarrelle Patterson.
Dez Bryant is on his bye week as the Dallas Cowboys go-to wide receiver.
He was on buy night Thursday at an area Wal-Mart store (some had said Best Buy). Bryant walked into the store and became an impromptu Santa Clause by purchasing PlayStation4 game systems for six people.
A lot of Dez Bryant fans went to his Twitter page to commend the popular Cowboy for his generosity. And rightfully so.
The Dallas Cowboys are off this week but receiver Dez Bryant scored big in the court of public opinion.
Bryant was there to buy the new Sony PlayStation 4 video game system. And according to several people on Twitter, Bryant bought the system for six people in line. The PS4 retails for $399.00, so it was an early Christmas gift for the lucky few who were blessed by Bryant.
Here are a few other tweets about Bryant’s night at Wal-Mart from some customers, teammate Phillip Tanner and Texas receiver Mike Davis.
Money Magic Davis jr @MikeDavis_110h
My bro @DezBryant have always had a good heart .Now he done bought some people some PS4s everybody want to say everything great about him…
Phillip Tanner @PTanner3411h
S/O to my boy @DezBryant- I’m not surprised at all #Respect
Ben Freeman @BWayneFree11h
Holy crap @DezBryant is cool… just bought a bunch of people PS4s wish I was there lol
Marquis Rodgers @MRodgers240511h
Damn, @DezBryant just bought whoever was in line at a Wal-Mart in Dallas a PS4.
COWBOYS VS. SAINTS GAMEDAY PRIMER: NFL Films Game Preview | Scouting Report on New Orleans key players | Tony Romo game winning drive
NFL Films Preview: New Orleans Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys
NFL Films previews the 2013 Week 10 matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints. (Watch Video)
|Know The Enemy: Film Breakdown and Scouting Report on Saints DE Cameron Jordan||Know The Enemy: Film Breakdown and Scouting Report on New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees|
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NFL Sound FX: Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo Mic’d Up
The Cowboys Hour, is broadcast live from the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center on Grapevine Lake. The voice of the Dallas Cowboys, Brad Sham, hosts the weekly radio show with one or two Cowboys players as guests.
Brad’s guests last night were Jason Hatcher and George Selvie. Selvie came to the show last night wearing a shirt with the slogan “Hatcher’s Heroes” across the front of it.
When Brad asked George about the shirts, he said “Charlie had his angels, Professor X had his X-Men and we’re Hatcher’s Heroes. We’re going out there and playing hard and it’s catching on, so I love it.”
According to Hatcher and Selvie, the slogan was born on Twitter and has carried over to the members of the Dallas Cowboys defensive front. (Editors note: At The Boys Are Back website, we affectionately refer to them as Marinelli’s Misfits).
Later in the show, Sham counted 15, yes 15, different defensive linemen that have started at some point this season for the Dallas Cowboys. With injuries piling up on this team, Cowboys’ fans hope Hatcher’s Heroes show up again this weekend in New Orleans.
The Cowboys Hour with Jason Hatcher and George Selvie (59:51)
Jason Hatcher and George Selvie join Brad Sham on The Cowboys Hour live radio show. Brad Sham is also the ‘Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” on the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network.
ARLINGTON, Texas – Worked out on Monday, signed on Tuesday, practiced on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday … so naturally Everette Brown had a big sack and forced fumble in the final seconds of Sunday’s win over the Vikings.
Now, Brown didn’t get a turnover, but the play was still a big play to help prevent Minnesota from driving deep in Dallas territory.
Brown, who said his focus was starting up a new Smoothie shop with his fiancée in Charlotte before the Cowboys called him last week, is the latest of several defensive linemen who have rolled through the organization this year.
In fact, if you’re scoring at home, Brown is the 16th defensive linemen to play a snap for the Dallas Cowboys this season. That doesn’t include Jay Ratliff, Tyrone Crawford, Ben Bass and Sean Lissemore, who once figured into the rotational plans for this D-line.
“Every week, it’s a new guy,” said Jason Hatcher, who has been the most consistent and the best lineman so far this year. “But I think they’re coming in and doing a great job of contributing right away. I give them credit and Rod (Marinelli) for getting them ready. They were big again today.”
One of the biggest plays of the game occurred from a trio of defensive linemen who might not have been in the NFL at all had it not been for the Cowboys giving them a shot.
Nick Hayden scored his first career touchdown by falling on a loose fumble in the end zone. George Selvie stripped the ball right before Jarius Wynn blasted Christian Ponder.
“I got him pretty good … it felt good, too,” Wynn said. “But it’s nice to come in here and help this team any way I can. I feel more comfortable now.”
Speaking of comfortable, Hayden looked right at home in the end zone after his first touchdown since his high school days.
Afterward, Hayden displayed what appeared to be a rather rehearsed dance.
“It was me rocking out,” Hayden said. “I just played the air-guitar and then smashed it at the end. It’s something we had talked about before for a sack dance. But I just used it today with my touchdown. I’ve got some other (dances), too, if I ever need them.”
While Hayden is far from the new guy anymore, he was also one of the players back in training camp just trying to revive his career.
“This group … we’re relentless,” Hayden said. “We’ve got new guys coming in each week, but they’ve been stepping up for us. It’s been great. We just try to learn from Coach Marinelli. He’s done a great job with us. We just keep playing for him.”
|George Selvie end zone strip and Nick Hayden recovery for TD replay||Locker room comments from Marinelli’s Misfits and Sean Lee|
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Tony Romo has turned into a star after going undrafted 10 years ago. Romo’s spring of 2013 was a tad more lucrative than his spring of 2003.
Eight months ago, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback signed a six-year, $108 million extension with $55 million in guaranteed money.
And 10 years before that?
“I was a very sought-after [rookie] free agent,” Romo, tongue firmly in cheek, told Twin Cities reporters on Wednesday.
Romo said he had nibbles from 15 to 20 NFL teams immediately after the 2003 draft. Of course, as Romo noted, that interest level came from 15 to 20 teams, “that really didn’t like [me] enough the previous 48 hours.”
So, Tony, what did the Cowboys have to fork over to get the late-bloomer from Eastern Illinois? Five hundred bucks?
“Yeah, I made a little more than that,” he said. “I think it was 10 grand, actually, which felt like a year’s paycheck coming out of college. It was nice.”
Say what you want about Romo. He has been labeled as a guy who can’t win the big game. A guy who is prone to mistakes late in games. A guy who is 1-3 in the postseason. But there aren’t too many teams, the Vikings obviously included, who wouldn’t swap quarterbacks for Romo.
Heading into Sunday’s game against the Vikings, Romo ranks fifth in passer rating (101.7) behind only Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.
Romo is 59-42 heading into his 102nd NFL start. Among quarterbacks through 100 starts, Romo ranks No. 1 in completions (2,262) and passing yards (27,485). He also ranks third in touchdown passes (189) behind only Dan Marino (214) and Brett Favre (194).
In that 2003 draft, 32 teams made 262 selections. Thirteen quarterbacks were selected. Only one of them — Carson Palmer, selected No. 1 overall by the Bengals — ever made a Pro Bowl. Romo has made three.
The other quarterbacks selected in the first round that year were Byron Leftwich (seventh), Kyle Boller (19th) and Rex Grossman (22nd). Later rounds saw names such as Chris Simms, Senaca Wallace, Brian St. Pierre, Brooks Bollinger, Drew Henson and Kliff Kingsbury.
“I think more than anything, I was just very raw,” Romo said. “[The scouts] were all right. But at the end of the day, they just didn’t see the things that can separate you.”
Romo was asked what it is about quarterbacks and the draft selection process that can lead to No. 1 overall picks flopping and undrafted free-agents flourishing.
“I think sometimes only certain people can evaluate the quarterback position at a high level,” Romo said. “I think it’s a very tough thing to do because there are so many things that go into it. And I think it’s a difficult position to gauge. Just [the offensive] system alone dictates differing decision-making processes and I think that unless you’re really the guy coaching him and teaching him, you don’t necessarily know his strengths and negatives.”
So what’s the one trait Romo would look for if he were in charge of drafting a quarterback coming out of college?
“Instincts,” he said. “Just their ability to get through progressions at a fast rate. You can always work on accuracy, you can always work on footwork. You can get guys to do the right things and be leaders and all that stuff. But inherently what you can’t teach him is to see the field quickly, react quickly and get through stuff fast. That’s where I find that [teams] just miss the mark the most times with young guys.”
Courtesy: MARK CRAIG | Minnesota Star Tribune
HIGHLIGHT HYPE: Dallas Cowboys Touchdown Song
NEXT MAN UP: With Morris Claiborne out, Dallas Cowboys counting on rookie B.W. Webb to play in the slot
B.W. Webb got his feet wet on special teams. He played 75 snaps on special teams the first seven games, but the Cowboys didn’t need him on defense, limiting him to only 31 of 504 defensive snaps.
Now, the Dallas Cowboys need their fourth-round draft pick.
Morris Claiborne will miss the next two games with a hamstring injury. Claiborne watched from the sideline at the end of Sunday’s game as Webb played 39 of 80 snaps.
Webb was thrown into the fire against Calvin Johnson, who set the single-season record for receiving yards in 2012 and had the second-biggest receiving day in NFL history against the Cowboys on Sunday.
“I tried not to think about it too much,” Webb said. “It didn’t bother me too much. It’s just another guy out there. I mean, I understand it’s Calvin Johnson and everything, but I try not to focus on the person too much when I’m playing.”
Webb, a William & Mary product, caused the Cowboys to use a timeout coming out of a TV timeout at the start of the fourth quarter when he wasn’t on the field.
“That was on me,” Webb said of his rookie mistake.
He ended up with three tackles.
Webb said he is ready for his opportunity to play more. He will play in the slot in the Cowboys’ nickel packages, with Orlando Scandrick staying outside.
“It’s a huge opportunity just to get on the field and showcase what I really can do,” Webb said.
Webb led the team with three pass breakups in the preseason, and he also contributed an interception. It got him ready for what he’s about to face this week against the Vikings.
“I think I showed a little bit,” Webb said. “I’ve been working on my craft since then, and I think I’ve gotten a lot better. …I think I’ve come a long way.”
CHANNELING THE X-FACTOR: Jason Garrett has talk with Dez Bryant; team appreciates his passion and emotion (Special Feature)
Jason Garrett talked to Dez Bryant after Sunday’s game, encouraging the receiver to put his passion and emotion to better use than with sideline outbursts.
“You talk to him very direct, man-to-man and you just say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get locked in on what’s happening,’” Garrett said on his weekly radio show on KRLD-FM 105.3. “We appreciate the passion, the enthusiasm. That’s what we want from all of our players. The great players have that, the great teams have that, but you just have to focus it and channel it. He understands that.”
Since Bryant received national headlines for his behavior on the sideline Sunday, including criticism from analyst Brian Billick during the telecast, the Cowboys repeatedly have defended Bryant, insisting his emotional outbursts are not a distraction.
TV cameras twice caught sideline rants by Bryant. In the third quarter, Bryant appeared to be expressing his displeasure at not getting the ball more. Tony Romo targeted Bryant six times in the game, with Bryant catching three passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
After the Lions scored with 12 seconds left, Bryant had a heated exchange with teammates Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware, who said they were trying to calm down Bryant and get him focused for the final play.
“I know everybody wants to read into Dez’s emotion on the sidelines, but contrary to popular belief, he’s not as negative as you would think over there,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said on his radio show on KRLD-FM 105.3. “He’s not every time that happens, saying, ‘Give me the ball! Give me the ball! Give me the ball!’ He’s encouraging in his way. Obviously, everyone has their opinion, and they’ll have that. But Dez will be fine.
“…It’s not an issue. The only thing Jason Witten was telling him, ‘Get your mind right here. We may have to get back out and try a Hail Mary.’ …Dez is highly competitive. He really wants to win the game. Winning is important to him.”
Editors note: Bill Billick was selected in the 11th round of the 1977 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers but was cut by the 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys, and never played in the NFL. Billick coached for the Minnesota Vikings from 1992-1998, and was the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2007.
RELATED: Dez Bryant explains his sideline emotions
Dez Bryant wants to make it perfectly clear: He is a team player who wants nothing except to win.
Bryant talked for some 15 minutes Monday, explaining his sideline behavior that drew national attention during the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-30 loss tot he Lions. He said he is misunderstood outside the locker room.
“I think for the most part, all of my teammates, they know,” Bryant said. “They know how much I love this game. They know we compete; we battle; we go hard. It’s all about wanting to win. But I honestly feel – me speaking for myself – that’s the kind of attitude you have to have to try to get where you want to go.”
The Cowboys have defended Bryant, whom TV cameras caught ranting on the sideline twice.
The first came in the third quarter after a Tony Romo incompletion on a pass intended for Dwayne Harris on third down, leading to a field goal and a 13-7 lead. Bryant yelled at Romo, receivers coach Derek Dooley and head coach Jason Garrett, none of whom seemed to pay him much attention.
Bryant said he was not demanding the ball, though he had only two catches for 22 yards to that point.
“It wasn’t directly to [Romo],” Bryant said. “It was like, ‘Our defense, they’re getting turnovers. We’ve got to help them out.’ I’m saying that to everybody, including myself. We’ve got to help them out.”
After the Lions scored to take the lead with 12 seconds remaining, Bryant and tight end Jason Witten were seen yelling at each other with defensive end DeMarcus Ware stepping in calm Bryant. Witten and Bryant both said the tight end was trying to get Bryant to focus on the task at hand, which was a final offensive play.
Bryant said his relationship with Romo and Witten remains solid.
“All Witt was doing was trying to get me focused and get me ready for the next play,” Bryant said. “I was just kind of heated, because they scored. As far as Romo, I know you all got sound bites and stuff on these cameras, I mean, or whatever, if you go back and look at it what I was saying to Romo, Terrance [Williams] just scored a touchdown and I was like, ‘They’re going to play him like that, keep throwing him the ball.’ From all the good stuff that was going on, go look at it. I had the same demeanor, the same demeanor. It was just one of those guys to where you know, we’ve got to win this game.”
Jason Garrett talked to his fourth-year receiver about Bryant better channeling his emotions.
“We love the passion,” Garrett said Monday. “We love the enthusiasm. Just got to keep the focus. We addressed it with him during the game. We addressed it with afterward. And he is going to be ready to go.”
Bryant said he has no regrets and will continue to wear his emotions on his jersey.
“No regrets,” he said. “It’s all love. Like I said, I know it looks crazy, but I promise you all it’s not.”
RELATED: Dez Bryant passionate about winning
Dez Bryant is not going to apologize for his antics on the sidelines. He’s a passionate and emotional player who is driven to win. Something, he said, that has been going on since he first stepped on a football field.
So, yes, he’s going to get into animated and sometimes heated conversations. He had a couple with quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten in the second half of the Cowboys’ 31-30 loss to the Lions on Sunday afternoon at Ford Field.
And there will be more throughout his career.
“I love this game. I love my teammates,” Bryant said. “That’s what it is. It’s going to forever remain the same. It started in Pop Warner, went to middle school, went to high school, went to college, and it’s here. It’s going to stay that way. It won’t change.”
Nobody in the Cowboys’ locker room has any issues with Bryant wearing his heart on his sleeve. Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett and his teammates all approved of it in a positive light, saying passion is necessary to succeed in the NFL.
Here’s some reaction on Bryant’s sideline antics:
Jason Witten: “He has more passion than anyone I’ve ever played with. That’s a good thing to have. With 12 seconds left, we were all upset but there was still time left. I tried to communicate that. There was more football to play. We were going to get the ball back and the play we had drawn up, he was a big part of that play. We were trying to get him to calm down because we were going to try to get him the ball on that play.”
Tony Romo: “He’s a competitive guy. … He’s never complained to me about getting the ball. He knows the ball is going to where it’s supposed to. He knows that. I think more than anything it’s about him willing the team. When you guys see emotion sometimes from Dez, it’s just rah rah more than it is being a me guy. That’s not who Dez is. I think that would be completely out of character for him for it to be a me situation. He does a great job…sometimes, it’s come on guys, we’re better than this, really emotionally. But he’s never a selfish guy.”
Jason Garrett: “Dez is a very passionate player. He is a very competitive player. He gets a lot of attention from the opposing defenses. He wanted the football. We want guys who want the football. Dez has never been a distraction to our team. He is a really positive asset to our team on the field and off. The way he works. The passion for the game. That is good stuff.”
Jerry Jones: “That’s emotion and I don’t place any issue on his demeanor or his sideline activity. He’s a very emotional player and this was a tough game for him to compete in because he wanted to really contribute and do everything he could for the team and to win. I have no issue at all in terms of criticizing him for sideline demeanor or sideline behavior.”
Related: Dez Bryant sideline audio (1:53) – (Watch Video)
Want to find out what Dez Bryant says during his sideline appeals vs. the Detroit Lions? Watch and listen as he interacts with quarterback Tony Romo, players, and Dallas Cowboys coaches.
Dez Bryant spoke to the media on Monday for an extended period of time to try to clear up what happened on the sideline on Sunday.