Jason Garrett press conference: Game breakdown after game film review (16:39)
- Coming back from loss on a short week
- Evaluation of players focusing on ‘task at hand” vs. Bears on Monday Night Football
- Whether he’s confident that Monte Kiffin is the right man for the job
- (inaudible question) Related to LBs playing in nickel and dime
- Fixing issues or managing recurring issues with this defense
- Jeff Heath and Wilcox rotation at safety
- Analyzing George Selvie’s QB penalty
- Weather blitzing is a part of Kiffin’s strategy.
- Are Hatcher and Ware healthy enough to influence pass rush
- Ware’s self critical statement and how JG see’s his impact
- Is outscoring DAL D (points yielded) a part of the game plans going into each week
- How the offensive run game graded vs. Bears; aspects to build on
- How the offensive passing game graded vs. Bears
- Can you win by running the ball against teams that are having success throwing
- Evaluation of FB Tyler Clutts and his role in the run game success vs. Bears
- Mental aspects of scoring right before the half, regarding either team
- Necessary to “win out” in order to get into playoffs
- Reputation for JG teams to continually fight, regardless of score. That done on MNF?
- Are the issues with this years defense the scheme or the personnel?
- When defensive scheme was changed to 4-3, how long was adjustment expected to take
- Acclimating new players coming in from the streets
- What makes JG feel confident in Kiffin’s ability to get defense competitive
- How many times can a DC be given a chance to bounce back from bad performances
- Morris Claiborne status and if Sterling Moore will be nickel CB
- Harris/Carter status after re-tweaking hamstring vs. Chicago: Sean Lee’s neck injury
- Addressing hamstring issues; conditioning staff and what can be done
- Team and player responsibility for staying warmed up and stretched.
- Injury analysis on team vs. other teams in NFL
GAME FILM BREAKDOWN | Week 14 | Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears (4:03)
Three key plays from Monday night’s game against the Chicago Bears (Watch this Video)
CHICAGO – Dallas Cowboys writers share their initial feelings of the Cowboys 45-28 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field.
Eatman: I couldn’t have been more wrong. I knew better. I just thought or wanted to think this team was better. Honestly, I thought when the Cowboys marched down and scored like that on the first drive, I had a sense this could be a blowout. Well, it was. The defense was simply awful from the coaching, to scheme to execution to tackling to making plays on the ball. The weather might have been a factor for one team, but not both.
Kavner: This wasn’t at all the game most of us expected. Rather than the sloppy offensive performance I anticipated with a subzero wind chill, the Bears’ offense picked apart the Cowboys through the air. I thought DeMarco Murray would run well and he exceeded those expectations, but as the Bears’ lead expanded, the Cowboys’ success running the ball mattered less and less, and at no point did they seem to stand a chance without a pass rush to affect Josh McCown or his mammoth receivers who continued to snag most passes thrown their way. The Cowboys pride themselves on resiliency and playing through the whistle, but that was far from the case on Monday night. Dez Bryant did come up with a touchdown but finished with just two catches. The Cowboys also had two interceptions fall through their hands, as nothing went their way in Chicago and the Eagles kept sole possession of first in the division.
David Helman: To some degree, I had a pretty good grasp on what was going to happen at Soldier Field. I said the Cowboys backs would run the ball well. I said the Bears’ balance would be hard to deal with. I even correctly predicted a Joseph Randle touchdown run. Of course, I also said the game would be competitive — which was way off the mark. It’s one thing to look utterly helpless against Drew Brees in an air-conditioned dome, but against Josh McCown in adverse conditions? The Cowboys defense has a lot of work to do and not much time to do it. The playoffs look like a long shot if this team can’t rebound in a big way.
First Take | Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears | NFL 2013 Game 13 of 16 (3:34)
Here were the gut feelings posted Monday afternoon:
CHICAGO – A share of the NFC East lead left the grasp of the Dallas Cowboys a day ago as the Eagles took care of business and went to 8-5 as snow poured down Sunday against the Lions.
COWBOYS VS. BEARS POSTGAME: Press conferences and NFL highlights video | Dallas Cowboys at Chicago Bears | 2013-2014 NFL Season – Game 13 of 16
Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears Highlights (3:53)
Backup quarterback Josh McCown destroys the Dallas Cowboys defense as he passes for four touchdowns and runs for another to lead the Chicago Bears to a dominant 45-28 victory in Week 14 of NFL action. (Watch this Video)
Jason Garrett speaks to the media following the Dallas Cowboys 45-28 loss in Chicago.
Tony Romo speaks to the media following the Dallas Cowboys loss at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
Cold, cold cold … and so was the weather.
The Dallas Cowboys defense looked frozen at times, simply no match for a Bears offense that came into the game ranked eighth in the league. Chicago scored on all eight of its possessions, aside from a kneel down at the end, on their way to a dominating 45-28 victory.
Bitterly cold, the game-time temperature was just 8 degrees with a wind chill of minus-7. In fact, it was the coldest regular-season game in Dallas Cowboys history, second only to the famed Ice Bowl in the 1967 NFL Championship when Dallas played at Green Bay with the thermometer reading minus-13.
Of course, it’s hard to tell if that played much of a factor in the Cowboys’ ineptness. Dallas has seen a patchwork defense of no-name free agents and rookies hold their own recently, the team winning three of its last four games, but it all caught up to them tonight.
The Bears had their way with the Cowboys, racking up 490 yards of total offense to just 328 for Dallas, also owning the time of possession, 36:38 to 23:22.
Chicago Bears backup quarterback Josh McCown completed 27-of-36 passes for 348 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery torched the Cowboys secondary, finishing with 100 and 84 receiving yards, respectively.
Running back Matt Forte was virtually unstoppable as well, rushing for 102 yards on 20 carries, while adding another 84 receiving yards off of five catches.
The Cowboys ground game actually enjoyed a stellar night, the team rushing for 198 yards overall with DeMarco Murray carrying the ball 18 times for 146 yards. But, it just wasn’t enough with the defense unable to do its part. In the air, Tony Romo was good on 11 of his 20 pass attempts, three of which went for touchdowns, but totaled just 104 yards. No Cowboys receiver caught more than two passes in the game.
Making matters worse, two players the Cowboys were happy to have back in the lineup were unable to finish the game. Return man extraordinaire Dwayne Harris reinjured his hamstring while Sean Lee suffered a neck injury, both leaving in the third quarter.
The first quarter was dominated by extended scoring drives for each team with Dallas actually looking strong on its opening possession. After Harris returned the kickoff out to the Dallas 25, Murray carried his team down the field in 12 plays, running the ball six times for 52 yards, before Romo eventually capped the drive with a 2-yard pass to Bryant for a 7-0 lead.
But the Bears answered, reeling off a 12-play series of their own, traveling 78 yards mainly through the air. McCown had connections of 11, 15, 7 and 14 yards with Forte rushing three times for 20 yards. Chicago finally scored when McCown found a wide open Earl Bennett in the end zone to even things ups, 7-7.
The second quarter saw more of the same as each team again exchanged long drives, although the Bears were next on the board after a 10-play, 65-yard series that saw McCown provide all the damage needed. After hitting Marshall on passes of 20 and 15 yards, as well as an 11-yarder to Jeffery, the quarterback scrambled 10 yards for a first down to the Cowboys 10-yard line, then three plays later, went the final 7 yards with a run up the middle, diving into the end zone for the 14-7 advantage.
Dallas responded with a seven-play, 68-yard drive that evened the score again, Murray running five times for 33 yards with Witten stiff-arming his way across the goal line on a 10-yard touchdown pass. The grab marked his seventh of the year, which ties the second most for his career in a single season, equaling his 2007 effort. He recorded nine scores in 2010.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys could do little to stop the Bears passing attack. Chicago kicked a 27-yard field goal on its next possession, then when Dallas couldn’t run out the clock with 1:27 left in the first half, the Bears got the ball again with 47 seconds to play.
That was plenty of time. McCown hit Forte for nine yards, Jeffery for seven and then Marshall for 19 to set Chicago up with first-and-10 at the Dallas 25-yard line. With 17 seconds left, McCown threw pass to the back, right corner of the end zone, where Jeffery made a sensational catch, hauling in the toss over B.W. Webb and Jeff Heath while keeping both feet in bounds for the score.
Chicago then had the luxury of the first series of the second half and quickly added another three points, Robbie Gould splitting the uprights from 34 yards out.
That drive saw Orlando Scandrick drop a potential interception in the end zone, which was then followed on the next Bears possession by Bruce Carter not taking advantage of a pick opportunity as well. Then, even worse, Sterling Moore did actually corral a bobbled ball for what appeared to be an interception, only to have it called back when Brandon Carr was called for defensive holding.
Given those gifts, Chicago took advantage and tacked on another touchdown, as Forte caught a pass from 4 yards out. The Bears then went for 2 with Marshall catching McCown’s offering to up the lead to 35-14.
Which soon enough became 42-14. The Cowboys, having driven to the Chicago 41, decided to go for it on fourth down, the first time they’ve done so all year, only to have Romo have to throw the ball away almost immediately when a defender came in untouched.
Chicago then needed only three plays to reach paydirt, Michael Bush taking a pass from McCown 17 yards for the score, their run of consecutive possessions putting points on the board up to seven.
The Cowboys managed to reach the end zone again, as Dallas went 69 yards in eight plays, doing so primarily on the ground, even though they faced such a deficit, content to let the clock run. Romo threw a pass to Cole Beasley, who made a nice catch for the touchdown, but it was far too little, too late.
Chicago tacked on another field goal, just because they could, the Cowboys then officially throwing in the towel by sending out Kyle Orton to play quarterback for his first action of the year. The backup did manage to lead the team to another touchdown, rookie Joseph Randle earning his second score of the season.
Finally, the chilly night came to a merciful end, Dallas losing 45-28. Because the Eagles defeated the Lions, Dallas dropped into second place in the NFC East and will now face the 6-6-1 Packers at home next Sunday.
CHICAGO – A share of the NFC East lead left the grasp of the Dallas Cowboys a day ago as the Eagles took care of business and went to 8-5 as snow poured down Sunday against the Lions.
The 7-5 Cowboys have a chance to get back atop the division in the frigid conditions of Chicago with a Monday Night Football matchup against the 6-6 Bears, who are also fighting to get atop their division.
Here are the gut feelings for Dallas Cowboy writers Eatman, Kavner and Helman.
Eatman: I think it’s normal to look at another team like the Bears and get caught up in what they do well. Guys like Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte and then factor in the cold and the playing conditions and it sometimes seems unfathomable for this Cowboys to win this game in this stadium in this month. But the Bears are 6-6 too and if you remember back earlier this year, they had a couple of wins in the final seconds or they should be a lot worse than 6-6. Obviously they did enough to win them but my point is, this team can get beat no matter the team or the conditions. I think the Cowboys are better and they grind out a win. I see Jason Witten playing well and the return of Sean Lee will lead to more third-and-long situations. I see Selvie with two sacks. It’ll be close but I like Dallas, 23-19.
Kavner: If the Giants game a few weeks ago seemed sloppy, this one should take that to another level. With temperatures nearing the single digits and wind being a factor as well Monday in Chicago, it’s not going to be the prettiest offensive football game. That’s despite three of the best receivers in football taking the field in Dez Bryant, Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. I expect a lot of running when the wind’s against each team and a lot of quick passes with a few back shoulder fades mixed in when it’s behind them, which Bryant will score on. I predict Jeffery ends up the game’s leading receiver, Marshall finds the end zone, but DeMarco Murray gets going and J.J. Wilcox secures a game-sealing pick as the Cowboys keep pace in the NFC East and leave chilly Chicago with a 21-17 win.
Helman: It’s encouraging to think the Cowboys are just two weeks removed from snagging a road win in harsh conditions. But this trip to Chicago feels like a different animal, as far as I’m concerned. The Bears are much more balanced than the Giants or Raiders, with a top-notch running back and two hard-to-handle wide receivers. They don’t defend the run well, and I think the Cowboys will take advantage of that. I’m calling for DeMarco Murray and Joseph Randle to both find the end zone. I think Chicago’s weapons on offense are too much, though. Sean Lee’s return should help keep Forte in check, but I look for Brandon Marshall to have a big day in a close Bears win.
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When: Monday, December 9th, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. (Dallas time)
Where: Soldier Field | Chicago
Watch on TV: ESPN | DirecTV
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DALLAS COWBOYS GAME 13 PRIMER: Chicago Bears preparing to face former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli
IRVING, Texas – Bears coach Marc Trestman had a decision to make when he replaced Lovie Smith in Chicago. For his part, he wanted to retain Rod Marinelli as the team’s defensive coordinator.
It was an understandable decision. The Bears led the league in takeaways in 2012 with 44, and they finished fifth in total defense. Chicago maintained a fearsome reputation on defense during Marinelli’s four-year stay – one season as defensive line coach, and three as defensive coordinator.
But after a talk with Trestman, Marinelli opted to leave.
“I have tremendous respect for Rod, and I’m sure he would tell you that we had a great conversation, Trestman said. “I laid it all out for him and certainly wanted him to stay. We certainly respected his decision to move on.”
That decision may have had more to do with loyalty than any other issue. Marinelli and Smith both got their NFL starts in 1996 for Tampa Bay, under Tony Dungy and current Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. During the Cowboys’ bye week, Marinelli told reporters he had only gone to Chicago to reunite with his close friend.
“I’ll say this – he is one of my very best friends,” Marinelli said of Smith. “I went there because of him, not for any other reason. We had a long tenure together in Tampa, and I just – I believe in him.”
Marinelli added that he feels similarly about Kiffin, which helps explain why he chose to make his way to Dallas after leaving the Bears in January.
“I just think, for me, that was Lovie’s defense,” he said.
In Dallas, Marinelli’s influence as defensive line coach has been hard to miss. With a constantly rotating cast of characters, he has coaxed the Dallas Cowboys to 28 team sacks, including a career-high nine from Jason Hatcher.
“I have so much respect for him. I’ve said that so many times, but I’ll say it again – he’s a special guy. He’s an icon at what he does” Kiffin said. “He isn’t just a defensive line coach — he was a head coach, he was a coordinator. He can be whatever he wants to be.”
That also includes intangibles, in addition to mechanics. Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett praised Marinelli’s ability to teach fundamentals, but he said there’s an extra quality to his expertise.
“He also does a good job of coaching the guys emotionally — where your emotions need to be to play this game at a high level,” Garrett said. “I think he does that in practice, he does that in the game. He’s just an awfully good coach. I’ve learned a lot from him.
None of that is to say the Cowboys are dominating statistically. But it wasn’t lost on Trestman that Dallas is one of the best in the league at creating takeaways – which was Chicago’s specialty under Marinelli.
“Their ability to create turnovers has been their number one asset. They’ve got approximately, what, 25 turnovers right now,” Trestman said. “It’s enabled their offense to play on a short field and help them out at times.”
Marinelli’s role isn’t limited to just defensive line, as Kiffin said. It also isn’t limited to the defensive side of the ball. Marinelli’s three-year stint as a head coach in Detroit, which saw the Lions post the NFL’s only winless campaign, gave the veteran some valuable experience to bring to future staffs.
“He had a tough go in Detroit with the players, and no disrespect to Detroit, but just the whole situation,” Kiffin said. “But this guy – and not just myself — I know the head coach leans on him a lot, too. We all do.”
From one stop to another and on to the Cowboys, that seems fine with Marinelli, who said confidence is key during the highs and lows of a coaching career.
“When I was in Detroit that was a great experience for me, because it’s what I believed in. It didn’t work, but I never lost confidence, I never lost faith – I went to Chicago and kept working,” he said. “If you have a belief and it’s tested, and you crack with that, then it’s not a belief. So you better get a big semi to run over me, and you’d better do it three times.”
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IRVING, Texas – While the Dallas Cowboys will be playing in cold weather on Monday night, they were forced indoors yesterday because of heavy frozen rain and sleet in the Dallas area that left a blanket of ice on the Cowboys’ practice fields at Valley Ranch.
The Cowboys attempted to get the ice removed before practice but instead opted to bus the team to Highland Park High School in Dallas, where the Cowboys practiced in the school’s indoor facility.
While some of the coaches stayed overnight at Valley Ranch, a few of the players had to be picked up by staff members and team officials to get them in the facility for practice and meetings.
The practice, which was closed to the media, was like a normal Thursday practice on a normal week. With the Cowboys playing on Monday night, head coach Jason Garrett has tried to simulate a regular routine, even moving the normal Tuesday day off to Wednesday. The Cowboys are leaving on Sunday afternoon for the Monday night game.
“Ideally you’d like to be out today and simulate the elements we’re going to play in Monday night,” Garrett said. “But we couldn’t get that done. The field is ice. You have to get the ice off the field. Rather than wait 3-4 hours to get that done, we thought we should go to Plan B. This was a good alternative for us. We’re hopeful to be out there (Saturday).”
As for yesterday’s practice, offensive coordinator Bill Callahan said the change of venue didn’t have a negative effect.
“I thought practice was great. When you get into an environment where it’s enclosed and you’re on a Field Turf, it lends itself to a fast practice. Because of the travel, we cut down on the number of reps we had today. I thought the players did a great job of executing. More than that, the tempo of practice compared to (Thursday), coming off the long break, we came up a few notches. It was encouraging to see.”
The expected temperatures for kickoff Monday night in Chicago have actually gone up, but will still be treacherous. The low on Monday is 13 degrees with a high of only 27. With the winds gusting around 20 mph, the wind chill could be around zero or below-zero by kickoff.
When asked about the double-edged sword of wanting to practice in the elements of the game, but also having a practice environment that isn’t distracting to the flow of practice, Callahan said coaches can’t always have it both ways.
“We’ve had some good outside work done in the last few weeks,” said Callahan, who coached in Oakland and Nebraska in his career. “I remember being with the Raiders, we’d practice in the 85 degree weather and then fly from sunny California to the cold northeast and you’d have to play the elements or even in Denver. Players adapt pretty quickly.”
Whether they practice in the elements or not, some players don’t think the preparation matters much on game day.
“I’m not a believer that it helps at all,” cornerback Orlando Scandrick said. “Whether you practice in it or you play in it, you’re going to be cold. You’ve got to have the mental toughness and the focus and the will to go out and do it. I don’t like being cold, period.”
The weather doesn’t seem to bother tight end Jason Witten, who said he won’t be wearing any sleeves come Monday night.
“Football ain’t meant to be played like that,” Witten said with a smile. “But I do bundle up there on the bench. But no, I don’t allow that to get in the way. When you’re out there playing, you can’t worry about the elements. It’s always tough. Both teams have to play in it.”
As for the guy throwing the ball to Witten, he doesn’t seem too concerned about cold-weather games either.
Tony Romo, who grew up in Burlington, Wisconsin and played at Eastern Illinois said if he sticks to his mechanics, the cold air and high winds will have no factor in his performance.
“I’ve played a lot of our games in cold weather. I think you become comfortable with it over time. The more technically sound and fundamental you are with your throwing motion, you can neutralize that stuff and take advantage of it.”
Overall, Garrett said there won’t be a lot of discussions about the weather come Monday night, other than making sure the players are prepared.
“Certainly we’ll try to make sure we’re wearing the right gear and making sure our cleats are right so we can be most effective,” Garrett said. “I don’t think you want to overdo that, but you certainly want to make sure what you’re wearing on your feet is right for those conditions.”
Dallas Cowboys move practice inside: Locker room reacts
COWBOYS VS. BEARS GAME PRIMER: Jason Garrett press conference | 2013 Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears | Thursday Practice
Jason Garrett: Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears | Thursday Practice (9:00)
- Bears receivers compared to other WRs the Cowboys have faced this year
- Dealing with the height of Chicago Bears WRs and TEs
- What makes Rod Marinelli such a good DL coach and past defensive coordinator
- Rod Marinelli’s use of motivational videos for team
- The use of the term ‘rushmen” in Marinell’s player development
- His connection with Marc Trestman
- DeMarco Murray’s running style on a potentially bad field
- Discussions and team preparation for playing in cold or adverse conditions
- Decision process for practicing in cold/wet conditions this time of year
- Morris Claiborne (hamstring injury recovery) progress up to this point
- Sean Lee and Justin Durant practice status and outlook
- Decision on dime and nickel situations now that LBs are returning
- Dwayne Harris status and recovery progress
- Strengths and traits that separate Dwayne Harris from Cole Beasley in returns
- Team/coaches awareness of NFL sideline rule violation (Mike Tomlin fine)
- NFL not Ultimate Frisbee and players can run after the catch (RAC)
- Passes short-of-marker and down-the-field passing philosophy in bad weather
- Julius Peppers vs. Tyron Smith matchup
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2013 COWBOYS INJURY UPDATE: Dallas linebackers Sean Lee and Justin Durant practicing on the Texas-2 Tundra
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys returned to practice Thursday for the first day of practice for the Chicago Bears.
The team practiced in freezing, rainy conditions at Valley Ranch, and they welcomed back a pair of long-looked-for faces to the fold.
Linebackers Sean Lee and Justin Durant both returned to practice in full pads as the Cowboys began their preparations for their Monday night tilt against Chicago. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he’s hopeful both players can go through a full practice regimen in his first week back from a hamstring strain.
It was near freezing and raining as the Cowboys took to the field Thursday morning – an effect of the winter storm system moving into the Dallas area this week. Garrett said the team embraces the chances to practice in the elements, as it should be good preparation for game time temperatures in Chicago – which are expected to be in single digits.
“We want to practice here, outside. The weather has been good to us, going off to play in some of these northern cities where the weather is bad. A couple of weeks ago against the Giants, we got some bad weather down here in the days leading up to that,” he said. “We thought that was a positive, just to get out and practice in it. And it sounds like the weather is not going to be great here the next couple of days, so we’ll certainly embrace that opportunity.”
THREE LITTLE (JUICED) BEARS: Former Cowboys Joe DeCamillis, Martellus Bennett, and Jay Ratliff content being out of Hollywood atmosphere
LAKE FOREST, Ill. — While complimentary overall of the Dallas Cowboys, three former members of the organization now with the Chicago Bears considered the atmosphere there “Hollywood” compared to their current locale.
Martellus Bennett said everything in Chicago is based on football, and there’s a different type of chemistry.
Bears special teams coach and assistant head coach Joe DeCamillis spent four years with the Cowboys (2009-12) and said “there can’t be two different spectrums.” Two more former Cowboys — Bears defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff and tight end Martellus Bennett — agreed as the teams prepare to face each other Monday night at Soldier Field.
Asked about the biggest difference between the Bears and Cowboys, Ratliff didn’t hesitate.
“Football, first-class organization,” he said of the Bears. “Just to put it bluntly, and it’s not a shot — if they take it like that, so be it. Here, it is all about football. You can really just focus on your craft. Focus on what it is you do. And no matter what’s going on, you never forget what you’re here for. That’s a good thing.”
A four-time Pro-Bowler, Ratliff was picked by the Dallas Cowboys in the seventh round of the 2005 draft, but he was released by the club on Oct. 13 and signed by the Bears on Nov. 2. Ratliff made his Bears debut Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, participating in 23 snaps, and his workload will increase Monday night against his former team.
Ratliff said earlier in the week that Monday’s matchup is “just another game,” but that isn’t the case for DeCamillis.
“I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s like Ratliff and say it’s like any other game,” DeCamillis said. “Anytime you leave some place you always have a little bit more juice going back against them.”
As for the differences between the Bears and Cowboys organizations, DeCamillis said “there, it’s a lot different from the standpoint of just the things that go on. It’s a little bit more like Hollywood, and here it’s a little bit more, probably a little tamer. But they’re both great organizations, and both have had a lot of storied tradition and championships. That’s the main thing.”
A second-round pick of Dallas in 2008, Bennett spent his tenure with the Cowboys as a backup before leaving in 2011 to take a free-agent deal with the New York Giants. Coming off a breakout season in 2012, in which he caught 55 passes for 626 yards and five touchdowns, Bennett signed with the Bears in free agency.
Bennett is currently on pace to better those marks, and apparently Chicago’s atmosphere is more conducive for him to do it.
“I mean, I’m a Hollywood person. I would agree with [DeCamillis and Ratliff],” Bennett said. “Since I’ve been born, I’ve been meant to be on Disney. But they don’t really like to take too many kids from the ‘hood and put them on Disney nowadays. But for the most part, it’s different. Everything here is based on football, and [there’s] just a different type of chemistry with this team. Everybody is just about football all the time. We have our relationships and we have fun; there’s not really any cliques or anything. It’s just a bunch of guys who come together every week, play football, and tell jokes.”
Jay Cutler caught an underhanded snap from Bears quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh early in practice Thursday. He dropped back to pass, shuffled right, then forward, then threw a 10-yard pass to his left.
The simple passing drill was a significant milestone for Cutler as he returned to practice for the first time since suffering a high left ankle sprain Nov. 10.
But the favorable news stopped there.
He will miss Monday night’s game against the Cowboys, his fourth straight on the sideline. Coach Marc Trestman on Thursday ruled him out 10 days after Cutler said on his radio show he “would be pretty disappointed if I wasn’t able to play for (the Cowboys) game.”
Trestman, however, reiterated his belief Cutler will play again this season, meaning the Bears should expect to change quarterbacks from backup Josh McCown to Cutler during the final postseason push this month.
“I know the type of fighter Jay is,” left tackle Jermon Bushrod said. “I have only been here for a few months, but I know the passion he has toward this game and toward this team. We want him to come back and be himself. But if things don’t work out, they don’t work out, and we’ll go hit it with Josh.”
Cutler quarterbacked the scout team during Thursday’s practice. He declined the Tribune’s interview request afterward.
Trestman was not sure of Cutler’s status for the Dec. 15 road game against the Browns, saying that will be evaluated next week. Cutler on his radio show Nov. 25 characterized a return for the Browns game as a worst-case scenario.
Trestman said Cutler was not deflated because he failed to meet his Dec. 9 target to return.
“Jay is very clear on where he is medically,” Trestman said. “He’s continuing to progress. We’ve been very, very clear that he has to be released by the doctors before he can play, and he has come to terms with that. He’s a strong-willed and strong-minded guy. He can’t control this decision on Monday other than to continue to work on his rehab.”
Cutler sprained his ankle late in the first half Nov. 10 against the Lions. He stayed in the game and played into the fourth quarter after Bears medical staffers expressed belief he could not damage the ankle more extensively.
Since then, the Bears have insisted Cutler did no additional harm to ankle by continuing to play.
Cutler on Nov. 18 created an air of mystery about the injury when he said on his radio show: “There are a couple of ligaments we’re a little bit worried about that are different than a normal high ankle sprain.”
Neither the team nor Cutler offered further details or explanation.
Cutler’s injuries have been a major subplot in the final season of his contract. He has not finished a game since the Oct. 10 victory over the Giants. He suffered a torn groin muscle against the Redskins on Oct. 20 and was sidelined for the Nov. 4 game against the Packers.
The Bears have won two of the four games Cutler has missed this season. McCown, who started all four of those, will start Monday.
Trestman, meanwhile, looks to Cutler’s return.
“I was encouraged today just by the work that he got in considering the injury wasn’t that long ago, so we’ll see where he is next week,” Trestman said. “But it was a good first day for him to come out and get some work. He threw the ball very, very well.”
Courtesy: Rich Campbell | Tribune reporter
COWBOYS VS. BEARS GAME PRIMER: Jason Garrett press conference | 2013 Dallas Cowboys vs. Chicago Bears | Sean Lee
Jason Garrett: Controlling own destiny | Sean Lee outlook (19:43)
- Standings and health position heading into December playoff run
- Sean Lee’s outlook as of today
- Dealing with the Lance Dunbar injury/replacement going forward
- Four players worked out for Dunbar’s available roster spot
- Teams need/decision to add a fullback to the Dallas Cowboys roster
- Does bringing in a dedicated FB shift team away from this seasons established routes
- How weather in colder months is affecting the decision to add a full-back
- How extreme cold affects a quarterback
- Addressing recent ‘drops” by Dez Bryant
- Thoughts on rookie RB Joseph Randle becoming more active in the offense
- Tyron’s Smith’s athletic ability and alertness during turnover track-down situations
- Thoughts on facing Jay Ratliff considering all of the circumstances involved
- (quick questions related to Jay Ratliff with Jason Garrett’s turn back to Bears focus)
- Terrance Williams recent rookie slump after few big games during Miles Austin’s absence
- Tyron’s Smith’s improvement this season and what distinguishes him from others
- How he addresses the reputation for the team not ‘finishing’ as the season closes out
- How they kept Sean Lee focused on a healthy return and his healing process
- The keys to the last two wins without Sean Lee in the lineup
- Question above lead to a series of comments related to ‘Next Man Up’
- Plans with strong side linebacker now that Kyle Wilbur has stepped up in that role
- How Kyle Wilbur affects plans with strong side LB Justin Durant’s return this week
- Fitting in flexible Kyle Wilbur who was originally drafted as 3-4 defensive lineman
- Tony Romo’s leadership development over the course of his years in Dallas
- Does any player bring the speed and breakaway traits that Dunbar has shown
- If Tanner/Randle don’t get chances, will ‘lead dog’ RB Murray get more downs
- Comparison of how RB Murray has played before and after his injury this season
- Impact of having to play without Dwayne Harris in the Oakland and Giants games
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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.
THE PLOT THICKENS: Ex-Cowboy Jay Ratliff agrees to deal with Chicago Bears; Could face Dallas in December
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys didn’t think Jay Ratliff would be able to play with them this year. Now, they’re scheduled to play against him.
Just two weeks after Ratliff was released from the Cowboys for a failed physical, the defensive tackle agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Bears, who are set to play the Cowboys on Monday night on Dec. 9 in Chicago.
The latest news continues an ongoing saga between the Cowboys and Ratliff, who hasn’t played in a game since Nov. 18, 2012. Despite multiple off-field incidents, the Cowboys cited his lingering health issues as primary reasons for the release.
Ratliff underwent sports hernia surgery in December and came back to run in the team’s conditioning test at the start of training camp, where he hurt his hamstring. He never again got on the field for the Cowboys and was put on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
After his release, Ratliff’s agent, Mark Slough, said the injury was much more serious than a sports hernia and claimed Ratliff actually had muscle ripped off from the pelvic bone. He said that Ratliff still had a desire to play, but that the plan would be for a 2014 return. At the time, there was no expectation Ratliff would be ready to play this quickly.
Ratliff is still maybe two to four weeks away from being able to play. The Bears, however, have a huge need at defensive tackle after losing Henry Melton and Nate Collins.
Ratliff visited the Bears, Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins this week. The Cincinnati Bengals also made inquiries after a season-ending injury to Geno Atkins.
The Bears made the most sense for Ratliff of the teams he visited, as he should have a chance start when healthy. In Kansas City or Miami, he likely would have been a rotational player.
“Those people that ever questioned his loyalty, maybe questioned his desire to play, integrity – all those things – those questions were misplaced,” Slough said. “But again, I think a lot of that came from the fact that no one really understood the severity of the injury that Jay had suffered. As a result, there were unrealistic expectations for his return being bantered about publicly.”
The Cowboys and owner/general manager tried to stay as mum as possible after Ratliff was medically cleared to play this season, citing legal reasons. It’s possible the Cowboys try to get some of the money back on Ratliff’s contract extension he signed in 2011.
“I don’t want to comment because of the legal aspect of it, and I had said earlier that I was going to focus on good things – the contribution that he made here, and this team needed him real bad,” Jones said Oct. 24. “It was disappointing that he’s not playing, disappointing that the resources involved aren’t going to guys out here making plays.”
Ratliff has some familiarity with staff members on the Bears. Running backs coach Skip Peete and special teams coach/assistant head coach Joe DeCamillis were with the Cowboys last year. Former Cowboy Martellus Bennett is also on the Bears’ roster.
Ratliff was thought to be an ideal fit in the middle of the Dallas Cowboys’ new 4-3 defense. The Bears evidently hope the same in their scheme.
The Bears sit just outside of the playoff race and are trying to stay in contention while they wait for the return of injured quarterback Jay Cutler and linebacker Lance Briggs.
A healthy Ratliff is a step toward saving the Bears’ playoff hopes if they can stay afloat with backup quarterback Josh McCown and a patchwork defensive.
It was first from Jerry Glanville during one of those classic NFL Films moments when he uttered the phase to a referee after a call against his Oilers, “This is the NFL which stands for not for long if you keep making calls like that.” Whether you are a front office member like I was for 13 years or a coach in this league, it really can be for not for long. There are so many highs in this profession but there are also gut wrenching lows and you fully understand when you sign up for this job.
Rob Ryan was removed as defensive coordinator of this team Tuesday night by Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett in a move that was described as going in a different philosophical direction. Ryan is a proud man but this is the situation that coaches live with every day. In the case, the general manager and head coach were not happy and this was the best course of action in their minds. Was it the right move? That is up for debate because you can look at Ryan’s side for the number of starters he had to play without for the majority of the season and appalled how they managed to hold his defense together during a difficult time.
For Jones and Garrett, they can point to games where they did have a full squad of defensive players against Seattle and Chicago but were unable to win those games but I think it’s really much deeper than that. When Ryan was in line to take this job, I reached out to friends that I had with the Browns to ask them about Ryan and what he could bring to this team. The majority of the dialog was extremely positive but to a man the one area they focused on was his lack of organization and maybe this is his fatal flaw. There were reasons that Ryan always spoke how fortunate he was to have Matt Eberflus, Brian Baker and Ben Bloom to help him coach and to his credit, he was absolutely correct. They are outstanding coaches.
There is a side of me that believes that Ryan lost this job in the eyes of the general manager and head coach because there simply were times where he tried to do too much with this defense and the lack of organization got him in trouble. The scheme was more important than just lining up and playing. Every game was a track meet from the sideline to the field with Ryan trying to match personnel and I understand that is part of the game but there were times where you saw either too many men on the field or not enough. My gut tells me that the general manager and head coach want a simpler approach in how this team plays defense. It is more about how you can line up in your base front, get off blocks and tackle. It’s fundamental football and not about having seven linebackers on the field. You look at the Chicago Bears and how simple they play defense but also create turnovers. Again, the injury situation limits what Ryan can do but it’s a cleaner approach.
Looking back I will always be thankful for the opportunity to cover Ryan these last two seasons. He was always very honest to me and had time to answer questions about his dad’s “46” defense but this is a bottom line business and he even understands that. The general manager told you he wasn’t happy and no one took this seriously but I guess we will now. I will be interested to see in what direction he and Garrett go, but that is for another story.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout
These Cleveland Browns have never beaten the Dallas Cowboys. These Browns – the new Browns, founded in 1999 as a sequel to the historic original franchise. They are 0-2 against Dallas in the regular season heading into today’s important matchup.
The Paul Brown Browns, however, certainly had the Cowboys’ number over the years, beating up on the NFL newcomers for the majority of the 1960s in a series of matchups that bloomed into a classic rivalry, including three playoff games. After the league’s 1970 merger, when Cleveland moved to the AFC, the rivalry unfortunately faded into history, with the teams meeting only sparingly in the regular season until the late Art Modell relocated the club to Baltimore in 1996.
The Cowboys’ luck in their series with the Browns-Ravens lineage has taken a turn for the worse, of course, with Dallas having never beaten Baltimore in four tries, including the heartbreaker earlier this season and the woeful Week 16 matchup in 2008, when the Ravens turned out the lights on Texas Stadium with a 33-24 victory.
These things go in cycles, evidently. The original Browns whipped Tom Landry’s upstart team in each of their first four meetings, beginning with their first game, in Week 4 of the Cowboys’ expansion season, 1960. To that point, the team of undrafted rookies and castoffs from other clubs had acquitted itself fairly well against established NFL competition, having lost to the Steelers, Eagles and Redskins in consecutive weeks, but only by a combined 21 points.
The Browns welcomed the Cowboys into the NFL rather rudely, however, one gorgeous October afternoon at the Cotton Bowl, allegedly in front of 28,500 fans, though many reports suggest the stadium wasn’t nearly as full as the club claimed in those early days. Cleveland scored first on a 46-yard carry by future Hall of Fame runner and receiver Bobby Mitchell in the first quarter, before the great Jim Brown plowed in from five yards out in the second. Mitchell then jaunted 30 yards to make the score 21-0 as the floodgates opened, with the Browns returning an interception for a score before halftime, and Mitchell coasting 90 yards for another touchdown on the opening kickoff in the second half. The Browns led 48-0 before backup quarterback Don Heinrich tossed a garbage-time touchdown to Billy Howton.
It was a sign of things to come that season, as the Cowboys went on to post an 0-11-1 record, managing one tie, late in the season against the Giants, while falling by multiple scores in six of the seven losses to come following the trouncing by Cleveland.
The Browns would repeat the favor twice in 1961, as they joined the Cowboys, Steelers, Eagles, Giants, Redskins and St. Louis Cardinals in the newly formed Eastern Conference. That October, they knocked off a surprisingly 2-0 Dallas team, 25-7, at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, and in December helped eviscerate any hopes of a playoff berth for the Cowboys by beating them 38-17 in Fair Park, in the second of four straight Cowboys losses that sunk their record to 4-9-1.
The Browns won a 19-10 decision over Dallas at home in the teams’ first meeting in 1962, but the second matchup was a different story, seen as something of a pivot point game for the Cowboys franchise and their young quarterback, Don Meredith. Dallas had jumped out to a fine start to the season again, sitting 4-3-1 on the year before losing five of their last six. The lone exception came on Dec. 2, when they tanned the Browns, 45-21, at the Cotton Bowl, in arguably the best performance of the club in its existence to that point.
“You writers and the football public here don’t realize what a fine team you have here in Dallas,” Paul Brown, an admirer of Landry’s, told the assembled media after the game. “You folks just don’t seem to realize this team can give you a championship. They outplayed us all the way … they deserved to win. I congratulate Tom for a fine job.
“Dallas was an inspired team. They’d never beaten us and it had to come sometime, and they did it to us good today.”
The Browns had traded Cowboys-killer Mitchell to Washington the previous offseason (he scored on a 92-yard kickoff return against the Cowboys in his first game with the Redskins) and Dallas managed to hold Jim Brown to only 29 yards on eight carries. Meanwhile, Cowboys running backs Don Perkins and Amos Marsh combined for 209 yards on the ground, while Meredith was 10-of-12 passing for 147 yards and two touchdowns, keeping Cleveland’s defense off balance all day.
Meredith had been struggling in previous games, and hadn’t yet wrestled full-time duties away from veteran Eddie LeBaron, but the fine day against Cleveland was a prelude of what was to come in his career.
“Meredith certainly had better results today,” Landry said after the game he called the Cowboys’ “best showing against a good team at home.”
Still, that impressive day remained the exception rather than the rule in the early years of the series. The Cowboys continued to muddle along in mediocrity while the Browns remained among the NFL’s elite. Cleveland won the next seven games in the series, not to mention an NFL Championship in 1964, while the Cowboys didn’t even experience their first winning season until 1966.
Once Jim Brown retired after the 1965 season, the series turned a bit. Dallas won a measure of confidence that year with a 26-14 home win over a good Browns squad on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys’ debut on the holiday, in what would become an annual tradition. By 1967, the ghosts of Cleveland’s domination had been fully exorcised, or so it would seem. The Cowboys beat Cleveland twice that year, including a 52-14 destruction of the Browns in the Eastern Championship Game, the first playoff win in the club’s eight-year history.
A week later, on New Year’s Eve, the Cowboys lost to Green Bay on a last second Bart Starr sneak in the NFL Championship, the game better known as the Ice Bowl. It was the beginning of the Cowboys’ “Next Year’s Champions” era, though the unwanted legacy was only furthered by playoff slip-ups against … Cleveland.
After beating the Browns convincingly in their run to a 12-2 record in 1968, the heavily favored Cowboys fell to the Browns in the Eastern Championship Game.
“A whole year shot in two-and-a-half hours,” Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm surmised afterward.
It turned out to be the last game of Meredith’s career and a rather disgraced ending. He completed only three of nine passes, connecting with the Browns as often as his own receivers. Meredith’s interceptions led to 17 Cleveland points, and he eventually gave way to Craig Morton under a deafening swarm of boos, the Cotton Bowl crowd en masse deciding their team could never win with Dandy Don, despite the fact he’d posted his best season yet in 1968.
“We needed a psychological lift,” Landry said following the loss. “Morton was the only thing I had that I could use. I took Meredith out not so much for what he was doing, but to try to shake them up. … I hated to take him out. In my opinion, he wasn’t wholly responsible. I don’t know what he will do (in the offseason). I can’t speak for him, but you can bet he feels worse than anybody right now about this game.
“I wouldn’t say (we) got whipped physically – it was more mentally than physically.”
With Meredith retiring after the season, Morton accepted the offensive reins, but his luck against the Browns and in the playoffs was no better. He threw three picks in a 42-10 Week 7 drubbing at Cleveland in 1969, one of just two Cowboys losses in the regular season. Yet again, Dallas was favored in an Eastern Championship matchup with the Browns, and yet again they came up short. Way short.
The Browns jumped out to a 24-0 lead at the Cotton Bowl, and put the finishing touches on the game when Walt Sumner returned a Morton interception 88 yards for a fourth quarter score. Roger Staubach took over for Morton, but the lead was too far out of reach even for “Captain Comeback,” and the Browns advanced with a 38-14 victory.
“We’re not choke-ups,” receiver Bob Hayes said after the game. “There were 40 guys out there and every one of them played his heart out. … I don’t know what happened. Nobody does. It’s a mystery to all of us. We were ready.
“I looked over to our bench and I could see shoulders sag. Guys who had been eager and jumping to get into the game seemed to be saying, ‘Oh no, here we go again. You play hard to get to this game – the playoffs – and you either have it or you don’t have it. We didn’t have it. Why? It’s a mystery to me. We’ve been pointing to this particular game since last September. It’s one we knew we had to win. We have to win a big one to shake off this image. Some day we’re going to do it.”
The Browns had played a huge role in the Cowboys’ earning of the “Next Year’s Champions” moniker. Cleveland had dominated the all-time series to that point, with 14 wins against only five losses, but Dallas has gotten the best of Browns since, winning seven of the 10 matchups between the clubs. None of the games was bigger than 1970, the Browns’ first year in the AFC, when chance pitted the teams in a late season battle once again. The Cowboys had opened the season 5-4, and needed a serious winning streak late in the season to earn a playoff spot. On a muddy, near-freezing day at Municipal Stadium, Dallas triumphed 6-2, the product of two Mike Clark field goals and an excellent day for Landry’s defense, which shut down the Browns running game and recorded four takeaways.
When the Cleveland franchise was reformed in 1999 – four years after the original club moved to Baltimore – their first preseason outing was against the Cowboys in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. It would prove to be a remarkable night, not only for the Browns’ rebirth, but also as the rare preseason contest that reached overtime, something coaches typically try their best to avoid.
Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell, Don Meredith and Bob Hayes had given way to the likes of Karim Abdul-Jabbar at running back and Tim Couch at quarterback for the Browns, with backups such as Ryan Neufeld and Singor Mobley playing big roles for the Cowboys by the end, when Cleveland’s Phil Dawson decided the game with a field goal.
“It’s good to see the Dawg Pound back in the NFL,” Troy Aikman said afterward, welcoming the return of the new, old Browns, three years after their apparent demise, and some 30 years since they last played the Cowboys for something truly meaningful.
The teams had certainly played bigger contests, but the history behind the preseason opener made it at least noteworthy, just like today’s game, echoes of an all-but-forgotten rivalry.
Photo: Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, Don Meredith, Craig Morton, and Danny White
Blog hint: With nearly every photograph on The Boys Are Back blog, you can get additional information by hovering over the photo with your cursor. Many times, if you’ll click on the photo you’ll see a larger image.
First photo: Amos Marsh Jr. (jersey #31), Full Back/Return Specialist, 1961-1964
Amos Marsh Jr. was signed as a rookie undrafted free agent by the Dallas Cowboys in 1961, because they were impressed by his speed. Back then his nicknames were "Moose" and "Forward Marsh".
He started his career as a wide receiver and special teams player. In 1962 to take advantage of his size and speed, he was moved to fullback, playing alongside Don Perkins where he became one of the league top 10 rushers with 802 yards and a 5.6 yards average per carry. That year he also set the franchise record for the longest kickoff return with 101 yards, a record that was broken by Alexander Wright 29 years later in 1991. The play came against the Philadelphia Eagles, when the Cowboys became the first NFL team in history to produce two 100-yard plays in the same game: a 100 yard interception return for a touchdown by strong safety Mike Gaechter and the 101 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Marsh.
Marsh’s production regressed during the following years, leading the Cowboys to trade him to the Detroit Lions in 1965 after the team acquired fullback J.D. Smith
Courtesy: Dallas Star magazine | Cleveland Plain Dealer archives | NFL | Dallas Cowboys
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Despite how he comes across to some, former Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson told The Dallas Morning News’ David Moore he still has faith Dez Bryant will grow into that elite player.
“I feel confident that it will happen for him,” Pearson said. “I hope it happens here.
“Dez understands the situation he’s in and really wants it. Maybe it will all come to him at one time.
“Maybe he’s just a late bloomer.”
But Pearson still has plenty to nitpick about the Cowboys’ third-year receiver.
What stood out recently was the Monday Night Football blunder when Bryant was fooled into thinking the Bears were in press coverage. He adjusted his route and went deep rather than run the hitch that was designed. Cornerback Charles Tillman picked off the pass from Tony Romo and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead.
“It was a bad read,” Pearson said. “Those are the kind of things that defenses, defensive backs especially, will give you a false look initially. If you’re not cerebral, if you’re not experienced enough to make adjustments, cornerbacks will play those games with you.
“You can’t get fooled by that in your third year in the league. If you made that mistake with coach [Tom] Landry in your third year, that would have been a cardinal sin.”
“When the game is on the line, that is the time No. 88 needs to step up, not take a back seat, not take a step back. That is when No. 88 is expected to shine.”
Part of being consistent is having a few signature routes the quarterback knows he can complete to you in virtually any situation. Pearson had three: the 12-yard sideline route, the 15- to 20-yard turn-in and the 15- to 20-yard end route. Those were his bread and butter.
What does Bryant have? Is he consistent enough with any of them?
“His route tree is limited to the slant, the fade, the go route and the end route,” Pearson said. “That is it. I’ve never seen him run a counter, a post corner, a slant-and-go, a sideline takeoff where he stutters and takes off the way Kevin Ogletree did so successfully in the opener.”
Pearson had been critical of Bryant throughout his first two years with the Cowboys, and Year Three looks to be more of the same. This obviously stems from Bryant wearing the same jersey number that Pearson did during his 11 seasons with the franchise.
“He’s not living up to the expectations that were placed on him by wearing that number,” Pearson recently told the Midland Reporter-Telegram. “Drew Pearson took it to the Ring of Honor level and Michael Irvin took it way beyond that to the Hall of Fame level.
“When Michael and I had a chance to talk to Dez when he came in his rookie year we told him, ‘Don’t do what Drew Pearson did in it. Don’t do what Michael did in it. Do more than that.’ I know that’s a lot to live up to, but what else is there? You live up to those expectations and people will cherish you for the rest of your life.”
Bryant dropped three passes in the Cowboys’ 34-18 loss to the Chicago Bears Monday night. Two of those incompletions cost the Cowboys first downs and the third might have gone for a touchdown.
Even though Bryant finished with a career-high 105 receiving yards, the mistakes overshadowed his eight catches.
Pearson focused on Bryant’s mistakes during a Tuesday interview that aired on ESPN.
“You should know your plays. You should know where to be. You should know your adjustments that you need to make,” Pearson said. “You know what your value is to this Cowboys offense. You should be making the big plays to help the offense when they need it. To me, that’s what the 88s are all about. That’s what I did in the 88s, that’s what Michael (Irvin) did in the 88s. I’m not saying Dez needs to be us. But we’d just like to see him carry that tradition on with the 88s a little better.”
NO WALKTHROUGH: Dallas Cowboys adopt "training camp mode" for today’s workout before players take break
Instead of a walkthrough, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said today’s workout at Valley Ranch will involve “more of a training camp mode” in the wake of Monday’s 34-18 loss to the Chicago Bears. It will be the Cowboys’ only workout of the week before players take a four-day break and return to work Monday to begin preparations for the team’s next game, Oct. 14 at Baltimore.
Garrett said he reviewed videotapes with players this morning and the team will work today “in helmets and shells … Cowboys vs. Cowboys in the practice, more of a training camp mode” before taking time off for their bye week. Garrett said he stressed the importance of responsible, off-field behavior to players during their break.
“That’s always something you try to address with them whenever they have time off and they’re going to be away for a little bit. Just remind them of what we’re trying to get accomplished here and who they are and how they want to represent themselves, their families and our teams,” Garrett said.
Jason Garrett speaks to the Dallas media as his team prepares to take the field for their final practice before the bye week.
Click HERE to watch video – duration 10:28
- There are days where teams just come up with great game plans how to handle DeMarcus Ware. Give the Bears a lot of credit because on the Monday night, Lovie Smith and his offensive staff were not going to allow Ware to hurt them in this game. Ware did have three tackles and one sack but for the Bears that was a win, they knew that tackle J’Marcus Webb would have little chance or no chance one on one with Ware the entire night so they put tight ends to his side, they chipped backs out of the backfield on him, and they worked the guards his direction any chance they could.
Some thoughts from the film room at Valley Ranch, particularly from the defensive side of the ball.
- Rob Ryan did the best he could moving Ware around but you could see that protection was geared to manage him. Victor Butler was able to get some rushes and even had a chance for a sack one on one on a third down play but he was unable to get Cutler to the ground which kept a drive going which resulted in a field goal for the Bears. I went into this game believing that Ware could have one of those monster nights but there was no chance of that in the way the Bears played him. It was fresh in their minds what happened to them the last time they played on Monday night this season against the Packers Clay Matthews and they did everything in their power not to allow it to happen again.
- Wasn’t surprised how well Danny McCray played in his first opportunity to start at safety for Barry Church. The one thing I will say about McCray’s game is that he is steady. There is not a lot of flash or flair but what you have is a football player that knows his assignments and plays his techniques. I was really impressed with how he manages to work himself around the field. I didn’t feel like there were many plays where McCray wasn’t where he needed to be. Had the one chance where he was in great shape on the tight end Kellen Davis for an interception and just needed to come up with the ball when it hit his hands. There are things about him in coverage that you are probably not going to like but if Rob Ryan can keep matching him up on tight ends, he will continue to have opportunities to make plays. Where McCray also helps you is his ability to make a sure tackle. It was a trait that we all had seen before during his work on special teams but he has managed to carry that side of his game into the regular defense. Danny McCray reinvented himself this summer as a player and you can tell by the way he played against the Bears, he had a good idea what he needed to do to help this team on defense.
- I have always believed that you draft players to play them. I never understood the teams that had all their draft picks on the weekly inactive list. You always need to find ways to get your rookies on the field. In the case for the Cowboys on Monday night, Garrett had Morris Claiborne, Tyrone Crawford and Kyle Wilber on the field taking meaningful snaps with the first team defense. We all know that Claiborne has been a day one starter and you can clearly see the talent that he plays with but also how much he has to learn about his craft and the tricks of the trade. There are going to be days where Claiborne is not going to be in great position on routes and it happened to him on a crossing route against fellow rookie Alshon Jeffery where he was trying to carry him across the field and there was too much separation which made him have to scramble to get in position to try and make the play.
- Claiborne also didn’t play with good inside leverage on the Devin Hester touchdown where he allowed Hester to run the out and up on him and was never able to recover. Claiborne did do a good job of coming forward one time on a third down pass to Hester and cutting him down before he had a chance to get going. There is no doubt in my mind that Morris Claiborne will be tested more these next five weeks. I am honestly surprised that teams have not thrown at him more. Opponents are going to find out if he can handle the ball going at him down after down and he will need to be up to the challenge.
- Tyrone Crawford caught my eye last week when he went toe to toe with the Buccaneers Carl Nicks. This week it was much of the same for Crawford who plays with surprising power and strength to go along with his quickness. The area I have been impressed with Crawford has been with his ability to play with his hands. He is really a technique sound guy and you can see every week that the defensive coaches are giving Crawford more and more of an opportunity to be a part of the defensive line rotation but this is not a gift, he is actually earning his right to see the field more and more each week. With the bye week ahead, there is a chance to we can also see safety Matt Johnson and from what I had seen in college, he has a chance to help.
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ARLINGTON – One of the key plays in the Cowboys’ 34-18 loss to the Chicago Bears was a 25-yard Charles Tillman interception return for a touchdown.
The play stands out because it gave the Bears a 10-0 lead and showcased some apparent miscommunication between Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.
Bryant ran deep and Romo threw short. Tillman didn’t stay with Bryant, he waited and was in perfect position to make the grab near the visiting sideline and jog in for the game’s first touchdown.
“You just have to give credit to the defensive back,” Bryant said. “We thought that he was going and he stopped and he played it. He just made a good play on it.”
Bryant, who said there was no excuse for his three dropped passes, was one of the last players to exit the locker room, still sitting in his game pants after the majority of the team had already showered and departed. He remained available to reporters until all of their questions were answered.
“I know what kind of team we are,” Bryant said. “We’re a great team. We’re a family and we play good football. Tonight, it was just unfortunate for us. They were the better team. They came out and played and came out with the W.”
Bryant added: “I feel like we’re mentally tough and we’re going to get through it. We’re going to get ready for Baltimore.”
Bryant finished with eight receptions for 105 yards, his second 100-yard receiving game of his professional career.
IRVING, Texas – The bye week typically is a time for a few tweaks and changes, especially after a tough loss like the Cowboys had Monday night against the Bears, falling to 2-2.
Expect a few roster alterations to either the 53-man roster and/or the practice squad before the Oct. 14 game in Baltimore.
The Cowboys made on Tuesday, waiving cornerback LeQuan Lewis from the roster, dropping the roster down to 52 players. Obviously, the move was made to add another player although the Cowboys didn’t officially announce a roster addition. The Cowboys might use it to bring back safety Mana Silva, who was released a week ago.
Lewis, who was added from the Jets’ practice squad two weeks ago, played in the last two games, mostly on special teams. He was forced into action near the end of the Tampa Bay game on Sept. 23, playing cornerback in nickel situations as the Bucs were throwing into the end zone to try and claw back into the game.
The speedster was the gunner on the punt team and one of the middle players on the kickoff coverage units as well. Brought in three weeks ago as they were getting ready to face Seattle’s return ace, Leon Washington. Monday night, they got past Chicago’s Devin Hester.
Lewis had one tackle and one pass defensed in the regular defense.
The more you studied the Bears on defense, the more you realized that it was going to be difficult to move the ball on them. For the Cowboys on Monday night, moving the ball wasn’t the problem. Instead, it was missed opportunities when the offensive line was able to protect and Romo had time to find an open receiver. Poor execution led to a turnover, or a drop or even an overthrow. This Chicago defense wasn’t dominant like I had seen on film, but it simply took advantage of the Cowboys inability to finish drives and make plays.
While we focus on those missed opportunities, we also need to take note that for the second straight week, this team lacked a running game. Sure, people will blame this solely on the offensive line, but it’s more than that. It was a collective effort. There is really a struggle to get any type of push at the point of attack, but this is a tight end and fullback problem as well. Give the Bears credit for their run defense tonight but going forward, something has to be done.
Not going to make any excuses for this defense tonight, but it was clear that they needed to find a way to make more plays than they did. So far this team has gotten by without Jay Ratliff at nose tackle, but tonight they played without Anthony Spencer and it was the first game without safety Barry Church as well. While Josh Brent has done a nice job at nose, they still need Ratliff. Victor Butler does a much better job of rushing the passer than he does playing the run, although even when he had a chance to get a sack and get the defense off the field, he was unable to make a play.
Tonight we saw Brandon Carr struggle and the Bears go after Morris Claiborne a bit. Danny McCray was in on several plays but had a chance to make an interception late in the game, instead allowing tight end Kellen Davis to take the ball away from him.
For a team that shut Vincent Jackson down last week, Brandon Marshall was unstoppable. There were too many plays where he had space. I was surprised that DeMarcus Ware didn’t have a bigger night against J’Marcus Webb, who had been struggling against everyone at left tackle. Ware did have a sack and three tackles, but again, I expected more. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan did his best to match the Bears, but Jay Cutler was more than up to the challenge and the Cowboys were able to only generate one turnover from him.
Cowboys punter Brian Moorman was effective in this three punts with two inside the 20. Bears return man Devin Hester wasn’t the factor that he could have been. Hester did manage to have one kickoff return for 29 yards, but the kickoff coverage team was up to the task when given the opportunity. In the three chances the Cowboys did have to punt, it appeared from the press box that the protection was better than the last two weeks.