For the purposes of keeping up with the Joneses, the NFC East’s preseason scheduling has been pretty convenient to this point, with division games spread out over several different nights. That ends this weekend, though, as all four teams are set to take the field on the same day.
Washington kicks off against Buffalo at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, with Giants-Jets and Eagles-Jaguars both beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Dallas Cowboys’ home game against Cincinnati wraps it up with a 7 p.m. start. Those times are all central, by the way, for those of you far-flung Dallas Cowboy fans.
We’re going to be a bit busy watching the Cowboys’ starters play their longest exhibition of preseason. But there are still several things happening in the division Saturday night you might want to have an eye on.
More QB fun in D.C.: RGIII remains on schedule to play the ‘Skins’ season opener, but he remains out. No real news on that front, unless you care what type of T-shirt he wore to pregame warm-ups against Pittsburgh. Backup Kirk Cousins has a foot sprain and could probably play if he really wanted to, but he likely won’t risk it for a preseason game.
That means Rex Grossman is going to be the starter for what almost qualifies as a real NFL game. The former Bear has been pretty ho-hum as the team’s leading passer this season – he’s 20 of 37 for 252 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. That completion percentage is not what you’d like to see from a veteran backup, but it looks like Grossman is the early favorite to win the third QB job from Pat White.
Grossman’s longest completion of the preseason to this point is 23 yards. Let’s hope he bombs away once or twice.
Vick wants to run more: For a guy who has had trouble staying on the field, running the ball more often seems like a curious strategy for the Eagles’ newly-announced starting quarterback.
Vick has carried the ball 138 times in 23 games the past two seasons — an average of six times per game. But he managed to miss nine games in those two years even with that light of a workload. Eagles coach Chip Kelly had a penchant for getting devastating ground production out of his quarterbacks while at Oregon. But his quarterbacks in college weren’t 33 years old with injury histories.
Is Vick going to be scrambling all over the place, circa 2002, in a dress rehearsal against Jacksonville? That’s pretty doubtful. But it’ll be fun to get a longer look at him in Kelly’s offense.
Pugh is new starter: More and more, we’re seeing how quickly NFL teams expect their top draft picks to jump into the fire. We’ve seen plenty of it here in Dallas, with first-rounder Travis Frederick expected to start at center from the get-go. Several other Cowboy rookies figure to play prominent roles.
Injuries in New York have accelerated that process for Giants’ first round pick Justin Pugh this week. Pugh, who many wanted the Cowboys to select in April’s draft, will start at right tackle against the Jets.
The move comes largely because of the MCL sprain to starting center David Baas in last week’s game against Indianapolis. Starting left guard Kevin Boothe will move to center while Baas rehabs from surgery – he’s hopeful of a return for the season opener against Dallas – and right tackle David Diehl will take Boothe’s guard spot, opening the door for Pugh at right tackle.
It’s also worth noting that Diehl surrendered a sack and a quarterback hurry in his limited action against the Colts. The Giants would undoubtedly like to see if their rookie can improve upon that.
A lot was said (and implied) last week about Tony Romo’s lack of participation in the teams OTA’s. The fact is, Romo was very involved in the activities with coaches and teammates … both on the practice fields and in the clubs meeting rooms.
Dallas quarterback Tony Romo directs teammates during the Dallas Cowboys first OTA practice at Valley Ranch
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo directs teammate Jason Witten after he runs a pass route.
Tony Romo warms up arm during the Dallas Cowboys first OTA practice
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo tries not to collide with Dez Bryant as he runs a pass route
IRVING, Texas – Tony Romo wants to take part in the June 11-13 mini-camp.
Romo had a small cyst removed from his back in April and has been limited in his conditioning work for most of the offseason. He has only recently done some light jogging to go with work on the bike and elliptical machines. He has not done any sprinting.
Over the next few weeks, he will be able to make progress in his conditioning to get on the field for full-speed practices.
Romo’s experience has been touted for his ability to be more involved with the game planning and instillation means so much, then OTA’s in May will not be a great deal of help.
Let him work through some individual drills the way DeMarcus Ware is doing. Ware is coming off major shoulder surgery. He could take part in full practices if necessary, but the Cowboys are being conservative with his comeback.
There are $108 million reasons why the Cowboys must do the same with Romo.
With Organized Team Activities kicking off today for the next three weeks, I thought I would take a few moments to give you some of my thoughts:
- Despite all the questions that will be asked of Tony Romo on Tuesday about the comments made by Jerry Jones during the offseason, I honestly believe that nothing will change in his approach to how he gets ready to play these games and his interactions with Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan. Starting quarterbacks around the league have input to the type of plays that the club is going to run each week. When Brett Favre was a first year starter for us in Green Bay, Mike Holmgren would go through each play that week and ask Brett what he felt comfortable with. Tony Romo has always been a hard worker in his preparation and knowledge of what the plan was going into the game. I can speak from experience in visiting with him after games and being amazed with his ability to recall play by play, read by read of what happened to him in a game. You don’t do this by accident, you have this ability because you are really locked into what is happening on the field but also what the coaches are trying to do and this will never change.
- Two weeks ago, these rookies got a big taste of what will be expected of them each day they step on the practice field under this coaching staff. In my years in the NFL, I have always been a huge fan of bringing in the rookies early before the veterans just for this reason. Let the rookies get that feel of the pace and let them make mistakes that can be corrected then and there. In training camp coaches are teaching with the thought of getting ready to play games and don’t always have the time to go back and make major corrections. In these OTAs and mini camps, it’s easier to take a step back and coach these rookies using the examples of these veteran players as examples. Terrance Williams didn’t have the best start to his rookie camp but now he can study how Dez Bryant and Miles Austin run their routes and with that mental picture it can help him get a better understand of what he is going to have to do to be successful going forward.
- Injuries made things very difficult for this squad last season. In this first OTA practice, there will be a few players that will not take part in the action, but guys like Sean Lee, Barry Church, Bruce Carter, Jay Ratliff and Matt Johnson will be in the mix. These camps will be especially important for a guy like Johnson who lost his entire rookie season to a hamstring problem that never healed. When this camp opens it will be Johnson and Church at safeties to start.Kyle Wilber is another player like Johnson that will also be looking for a second chance to show better at defensive end. Players that will be limited in the camp will be DeMarcus Ware, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Danny Coale, who will have his hands full in an attempt to make this squad at wide receiver.
- It was this time last year where I noticed several players that appeared to make that jump from one season to another. Dez Bryant physically looked in better shape and his routes were run with purpose. Dwayne Harris played with better quickness and Barry Church stepped up and begun his quest to win the starting job. Players that I am going to keep an eye on that could possibly make that jump are: Jermey Parnell, Tyrone Crawford, Ronald Leary and James Hanna. Of these four players, Crawford has the most experience and he was only a rookie. Parnell will be given every opportunity to start over Doug Free. I feel like Leary is most likely a year away but Hanna is very intriguing to me. Just watching him play during training camp and then going back and talking to folks about how he practiced each week gives me a great deal of hope that he could develop into something special. I like what I am hearing about using this “12” personnel group but my gut tells me that Hanna will be the one that takes advantage of the situation to work with Witten. I do like Gavin Escobar a great deal but he doesn’t move up the field like James Hanna does. Keep an eye on these four players and see who makes that jump in 2013.
- I will be very interested to see how much progress that cornerback B.W. Webb is going to make the next three weeks. He was clearly the best corner on the field during the rookie mini-camp and with the veterans in the mix will he be able to carry that over now that they are here? Webb did play mainly on the right side and on the depth chart as it sits, he is behind Mo Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick. He will not start ahead of Claiborne but can he show enough ability to work ahead of Scandrick not only on the depth chart but in the role of the nickel corner. Webb has the talent to put pressure on Scandrick but he doesn’t have the experience. I see this competition as a good thing because last season it just wasn’t there and Scandrick knew that but with Webb on the squad, it’s going to make him have to elevate his level of play to keep his job.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout
Today, kicks off the first of three OTA’s scheduled by the Dallas Cowboys …
|May 21-23||Organized Team Activities (OTAs)|
|May 28-30||Organized Team Activities (OTAs)|
|June 3-6||Organized Team Activities (OTAs)|
For more information about upcoming calendar events, click on the button below:
There have been a number of changes in the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff over the offseason. Here’s an updated list of the assistant coaches and links for more detailed information on each of them. This page will be updated if any other changes are made.
DALLAS COWBOYS HEAD COACH
Jason Garrett was named the eighth head coach in Dallas Cowboys history on January 5, 2011. Garrett, who played for or worked alongside four of his predecessors, became the first former Dallas Cowboys player to become the team’s head coach.
DALLAS COWBOYS COACHING STAFF
|Offensive Coaches||Defensive Coaches||Specialty Coaches|
Asst. Head Coach/Wide Receivers
Strength and Conditioning
|To Be Determined
Tight Ends/Passing Game Coord.
Assistant Special Teams/ Kickers
Assistant Strength and Conditioning
Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
Assistant Offensive Line
Off. Quality Control/Wide Receivers
SPIRAL STAIRCASE: You should love the Dallas Cowboys more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow
IRVING, Texas – Home is usually good.
You know, home for the holidays; home for the summer; home on leave.
But home for the playoffs is not.
And for the third consecutive season the Dallas Cowboys are sitting at home this weekend, not involved in the NFL playoffs. Not this wild-card weekend and certainly not next weekend’s divisional round of games reserved for the top two teams in each conference and this weekend’s four winners.
Ba-humbug. Nobody is in a good mood.
Not the local media.
Not the coaching staff here at The Ranch.
Not the players.
And for sure, not the owner, Jerry Jones spewing his frustration this past Wednesday on his local 105.3 The Fan radio segment, saying, unprovoked, mind you, “I can assure our fans this, it’s going to be very uncomfortable from my standpoint, very uncomfortable for the next few weeks and months at Valley Ranch.”
Absolutely, not a soul is happy with 8-8, especially on the heels of an 8-8 season, the only time in the 53-year history of the Cowboys that they have finished .500 in consecutive seasons and just the fourth time overall. Not a soul is happy landing there by losing the final two games of the past two seasons, which includes the final game of each season playing for the division title.
My guess is, though, finishing with back-to-back 9-7 seasons, NFC East titles and two first-round playoffs losses also would have left all souls fire-spittin’ mad, no?
So driving home the other night, for some reason thinking of just how to portray this season, the third time in the last five the Cowboys have been beaten in a winner-takes-the-East contest while winning another, this 8-8 didn’t seem as bad as last year’s 8-8. In fact, this 8-8 almost seems encouraging.
And right about then, seriously, no lie, over the radio here comes the refrain from the 1969 hit by the Spiral Staircase: I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow.
Yea, that’s it. Maybe that’s this 2012 season, minus the mushiness:
These Cowboys are better than last year’s Cowboys, but not as good as the Cowboys will be next year.
Seriously now, if you just cut through the emotion, that all-encompassing dejection that has you screaming to trade this guy, cut that guy, blow up this unit, fire that coach and or that coordinator or that general manager, don’t you see the progress?
Certainly not tangible progress, since no matter how you cut it, 8-8 is 8-8, and third place is no better than second place or fourth place. All the same place when it’s not first place or at least a wild-card place in the playoffs.
But didn’t this team grow on you as the season wore on? Didn’t you start to get the feeling you actually had a team out there playing, not just a bunch of individuals thrown together on 11-man units? That these guys genuinely cared about one another, cared about what was going on from play to play?
I should apologize for sort of jumping one of our Talkin’ Cowboys callers Friday on DallasCowboys.com when he insisted “the culture” needs to change out here. So sorry, that hit a raw nerve I guess, because if anything, “the culture” has changed out here over the past two seasons with Jason Garrett as the head coach.
This is not that team care has forgotten. Telling you, these guys did care about winning:
Jason Witten fighting like heck to the last minute trying to find a doctor who would allow him to play with his lacerated spleen in the season opener.
Newcomer Brandon Carr playing with a sore Achilles in the middle part of the season, and not uttering a peep.
Dez Bryant passing on what should have been season-ending surgery for that fracture left index finger so he could help his team in the final three games.
DeMarcus Ware unable to practice because of that useless right arm the final month of the season, strapping himself together with an elbow brace and shoulder harness to give whatever he could give to the bitter end.
Recent-comer Ernie Sims arguing to convince trainers to leave him on the field after suffering what they suspected – and was – a concussion.
Felix Jones playing on two knees so banged up that putting them together would not have comprised one good knee.
All 53 rallying together in Cincinnati, less than 24 hours after finding out practice squadder Jerry Brown had been killed in a one-car accident with teammate and best friend Josh Brent behind the wheel and subsequently incarcerated for intoxication manslaughter.
On and on and on.
This does not happen within a losing culture.
Now, if you want to argue a deficiency of talent, that’s another matter. Yet, seriously how many of you realistically thought there was enough talent on this team before the season began to win the NFC East, to be better than the Giants and Eagles?
Yet here they were, these never-say-die Cowboys with a chance to win the East in the final game of the season – hey, in the final 3 minutes, 33 seconds of the season, playing on the road and the majority of the game without seven defensive starters if you include nickel back Orlando Scandrick and Ware out there with one arm, and then finishing the game with their two starting wide receivers out and two more wideouts suffering injuries severe enough to sideline them this weekend had they won.
Does this team need to improve on the offensive line? Let me answer for Tony Romo, you bet. Does this team need to improve on the defensive line? Yes indeed. Does this team need more depth at wide receiver, running back, safety and cornerback? Yup. Does this team need to figure out somehow, someway to retain the rights of Anthony Spencer? Absolutely!
But let’s not overlook Bryant’s emergence this second half of the season, in the last eight games catching 44 of his 92 passes for 869 of his 1,382 yards receiving and 10 of his 12 touchdowns.
In his absence, you thoroughly understand now the creative ability and hard-nosed style of DeMarco Murray, what he means to the Cowboys running game. You have little, to no doubt when Dan Bailey lines up for a field goal, from anywhere and under any circumstance. And don’t you forget Tyron Smith returns next year with his first season at left tackle under his belt (college or pro) and at all of 22 years of age.
Now admit it, Carr and Morris Claiborne stepped up the corner play. Barry Church, if three games is any indication, is a keeper at safety. Sean Lee and the emergence of Bruce Carter have inside linebacker in great hands. Tyrone Crawford has something for sure.
All huge steps in the right direction.
So let’s not be throwing around terms like “blowing it up” or even “rebuilding,” because before your very eyes, without even invoking the R word, and without regressing to like the 4-12 depths that come with “staring over,” the Cowboys have been rebuilding. Been rebuilding through free agency these past couple of years and through the draft if you’ve cared to notice, and with “the right kind of guys,” if I may quote Garrett.
No one bats 1.000 in the draft, but again, since Garrett has become the head coach, the Cowboys have added through the draft Smith, Carter, Murray, Harris, Claiborne, Crawford, Hanna, and don’t be surprised next year by Kyle Wilber or when finally healthy Matt Johnson and Danny Coale. And if you care to include the 2010 draft, then Bryant, Lee and Sean Lissemore. Hey, if I’m right about those other three guys we’ve seen very little from, going 13 for 21 is to die for compared to the Cowboys draft record from 2006-09 or from 2000-04.
Feel any better?
Then there is this, tangible numbers, too. After the 2011 season everyone was quick to point out how the Cowboys lost five games after leading going into the fourth quarter – though very few temper that by pointing out they also won four games when trailing in the fourth quarter.
But this year the Cowboys went 3-1 holding leads going into the fourth and engineered five, fourth-quarter comeback victories – three of those in overtime – and came back a sixth time in the fourth quarter to force overtime against the Saints, only to lose.
Also, let’s not forget the overtime loss to New Orleans, the winning field goal set up by forcing a Saints fumble that they recovered at the Cowboys’ 2-yard line. Or Dez’ fingertips landing beyond the back of the end zone to wipe out a game-winning touchdown reception in the final seconds; or Bailey’s 51-yard field goal attempt at Baltimore drifting a foot or so wide in the gusting crosswind as the game expired, one of only two misses all year (29 of 31).
This team has grown better with age. These comebacks and that tragic accident have galvanized this core group of guys. Jason Garrett, head coach, has made a difference and has this franchise headed in the right direction. And no matter what you think or how heartbroken you were with that last interception, without Romo none of this would have even been possible, not even the close call in the end.
This all is headed in the right direction, the Cowboys rebuilding without anyone realizing they’ve been rebuilding, going 21-19 ever since the 1-7 start to 2010 that most everyone else wants to disown.
So absolutely, and with regards to Spiral Staircase, better than yesterday and betting you not as good as tomorrow.
Courtesy: Mickey Spagnola
LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE: 2013 Dallas Cowboys schedule includes Denver, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Green Bay
The Cowboys’ loss put them in third place in the NFC East, leaving them to play play third-place teams St. Louis (at home) and New Orleans (on the road) next season.
The rest of the Cowboys’ home schedule next season includes the Giants, Redskins and Eagles from the NFC East, plus Green Bay, Minnesota, Denver and Oakland.
The remaining road games for the Cowboys next year are at the Giants, Redskins, Eagles, plus Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City and San Diego.