THESE BOYS AREN’T BACKING DOWN: It’s a love-hate relationship between offense and defense | Dez Bryant and Tyler Patmon draw national headlines | 2015-2016 Dallas Cowboys training camp
You’ve undoubted heard, late in Sunday’s Dallas Cowboys training camp practice, Dez Bryant got into a spat with cornerback Tyler Patmon. Continue reading →
DIAMOND DEZ DEAL DONE: Dallas Cowboys secure X-Factor with new five-year contract | Dez Bryant tags franchise with $70 million deal | Deadline Day Deal Drama in Big D
IRVING, Texas – Dez Bryant will be a Dallas Cowboy for years to come. Continue reading →
2015 NFL COMBINE: Diamond Dez deal deadlock | The pickin’ late debate | Goin Deep-WR draft depth | Wrap Up-OL and TE groups | Bonus MP3 audio downloads
INDIANAPOLIS – Whatever contract negotiations are to come between Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys, they aren’t happening right now, according to team owner/general manager Jerry Jones. Continue reading →
2014 COWBOYS CAMP COVERAGE: Dez Bryant continues rise as player and team leader | “Walk around like a champion” | NFL Network interviews with Dez Bryant and Jerry Jones
Dez Bryant: “Walk around like a Champion” | 8:07 | Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant chats with Rich Eisen and Michael Irvin about his strong desire to win in the 2014-2015 season under the new offense. (Watch Video | No Audio)
Jerry on drafting Manziel “It was that close” | 8:00 | Jerry Jones sits down with Michael Irvin and Rich Eisen to discuss the upcoming 2014-2015 NFL season and how the Dallas Cowboys nearly drafted Johnny Manziel last May. (Watch Video | No Audio)
Dez Bryant: Contract will take care of itself | 4:39 | Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant meets with the media after a recent morning practice to talk about his expectations for the wide receiver group heading into camp. (Video | Audio)
RELATED: Dez Bryant continues to rise as a player and a young team leader
OXNARD, CA – By almost any measure, whether it’s his gaudy statistics, his rapidly-approaching payday or even his Madden rating, Dez Bryant is considered one of the league’s top receivers.
INSIDE THE 2014 PLAYBOOK: Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan sees strength in running | More deep shots downfield will stretch defenses
Scott Linehan is known for directing pass-heavy offenses. During his previous five seasons as Detroit’s offensive coordinator, no team threw the ball more. Over those 80 games, the Lions averaged 40.7 pass attempts per game, four more than the Dallas Cowboys averaged during that time.
So, it was somewhat surprising to hear the new Dallas Cowboys offensive play-caller talking on the radio about how Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray and the Dallas running game would be the team’s strength this season.
“Things that were done last year in the running game with DeMarco, the running style that was created here is really a good fit,” Linehan said recently on 105.3 The Fan. “That’s going to be our strength, being able to lean on that running game a little bit more than the past.
“Obviously, with this offensive line, this is going to be something that’s going to help our passing game. The looks that Dez [Bryant] started to get as the year went on, people started giving him the attention that Calvin [Johnson] and Randy Moss would get as far as getting those double coverage’s. You need to have those other facets of your offense as far as your running game.”
Linehan also mentioned how an increased emphasis on running the ball could lead to the Cowboys using a fullback more often than they did in 2013.
Four-year veteran Tyler Clutts is the only fullback on Dallas’ current roster. LSU fullback J.C. Copeland was one of 24 undrafted free agents signed Tuesday by the Cowboys. Copeland was considered one of the top blocking fullbacks in college football.
“The No. 1 goal, and I told Jason [Garrett] this when I came here, is to keep a lot of things the same,” Linehan said. “It’s a lot easier for the players to not have to change how they call things. To the naked eye, they’ll be similar.
“I just want to be an asset and bring some ideas that maybe haven’t been implemented that I can add to current things that were done well in the systems I’ve been around.
“Jason and I have a good background. … There are a lot of similarities. It’s just the language. I just basically made the commitment to transfer over what I’ve called things, the way people call things to keep it consistent for the players so they can step on the field and be ready to go from the get-go of OTAs.”
Historically, the Dallas Cowboys’ new offensive play-caller has never been afraid to stretch a defense by taking deep shots downfield.
He did it with Calvin Johnson and Randy Moss. Expect him to do the same with Dez Bryant in Dallas.
“That’s a big part of what I grew up in or believe in,” Linehan recently said. “It’s going to be our philosophy to do those kinds of things maybe a little more. I think we have the personnel for it, for sure. It’s a way to get people backed up a little bit and also create big plays.
“Everybody says it’s a low percentage play. Depending on the look, it’s a high percentage play, as long as you got weapons on the outside part of the field. I really believe we have that. We also have some big targets with our tight ends. Having the talent, the speed and the length we have at our skill positions I think it’s something you got to implement, and that really helps open up things for your running game as well.”
Going deep wasn’t a large part of the Dallas Cowboys offensive attack in 2013. Tony Romo ranked 17th in the NFL last season in pass attempts of 21 or more air yards.
“One of the most intriguing things for me coming here was we got some great weapons on offense,” Linehan said. “Obviously we’ve built a heck of an offensive line. Tony’s a proven player that I’ve always been a big fan of throughout his career. We’ve got a pretty decent receiver [Bryant] and a pretty decent tight end [Jason Witten]. Those guys are pretty good.”
Williams played in all 16 games, starting eight as the team’s No. 2 receiver last season. The third-round pick caught 44 passes for 736 yards and five touchdowns. Escobar, a second-round pick, was used sparingly, catching nine passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns from the tight end position.
“The Escobar kid … is a guy that’s kind of somewhat untapped at this point,” Linehan said. “It’s not because he doesn’t have the ability to do it. We really liked him [in Detroit] last year coming out in the draft. I followed him when he came here. Now that I’m working with him, I’m really excited to see what he can do for us, too
MONMOUTH MAN MILES APART: Dallas Cowboys receiver Miles Austin designated as post-June 1 cut | Release creates cap cash earmarked for 2014 NFL Draft picks
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys parted ways with Miles Austin today, ending several months’ worth of speculation about the veteran wide receiver.
Austin was designated as a post-June 1 cut, which will allow the team to spread his considerable cap hit over the next two years. The move will save the team $5.5 million against the salary cap this season, though that money will be unavailable until after June 1 — the Cowboys would likely use the savings to sign their 2014 draft picks.
However, the 29-year-old veteran will also cost the Cowboys $5.1 million in 2015, thanks to the June 1 designation.
The decision confirms what many had long suspected about Austin since he missed five games and grabbed just 24 catches for 244 yards last season. The undrafted free agent had four seasons remaining on a seven-year, $54 million deal that would been a massive blow to the Cowboys’ future salary cap figures.
Austin earned that big contract with a breakout season for the ages in 2009. Signed out of Division III Monmouth after the 2006 NFL Draft, he earned a place on the Cowboys’ roster for three seasons — mainly as a special teamer.
Following the release of Terrell Owens in 2009, Austin moved into position for more playing time at receiver. After tallying just four catches for 81 yards in the first month of the season, an injury to Roy Williams pushed Austin into the starting lineup in an October 11 matchup against Kansas City, where he exploded for a franchise-record 250 yards, including two touchdowns, on 10 receptions.
Austin tallied a whopping 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns on 81 catches in 2009, and he followed that up with a 69-catch, 1,041-yard, seven-touchdown effort in 2010. He earned Pro Bowl nods in both seasons.
Injuries have either hampered or derailed him in every season since. Austin missed six games and finished with just 579 yards, largely thanks to hamstring injuries — the same injuries that would wreck his 2013 campaign.
Austin did manage 66 catches for 943 yards and six scores in 2012, though injuries again limited his productivity.
All told, the veteran wideout missed 11 games and averaged just 588 yards per season in his last three years as a Cowboy.
The move will likely push second-year receiver Terrance Williams into the starting lineup for good. Williams worked his way into the lineup last fall partly thanks to Austin’s injuries, and he made the most of the opportunity. The rookie started eight games opposite Dez Bryant, and he nabbed 44 receptions for 736 yards and five touchdowns.
TIPPING THE BALANCING ACT: New playcaller Scott Linehan was pass heavy in Detroit because he had to be | Dallas Cowboys roster may allow Linehan to attack all parts of the field
Former Dallas Cowboys fullback Daryl ‘Moose’ Johnston commented on the team’s recent coaching change regarding playcaller Scott Linehan …
Daryl Johnston: When Scott was in Detroit, Scott had a tendency to be very, very pass heavy with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. But I think you go back and watch them this year. When he had Reggie Bush and when he had Joique Bell – we did a Detroit game late in the year – it was fun to see him starting to come back. He just didn’t have the running game there. I think people have to be careful – when you go back and look at the history of how Scott called the games in Detroit – understand that they didn’t have to running game to lean on. They were very, very one dimensional because they had to. I think it’s going to be fun seeing how he transitions in now, having a team that has a good running back behind him. I think the offensive line is going to take another step next year.
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TIPPING THE BALANCING ACT: Now, Linehan can truly attack all parts of the field
In 2012, the Dallas Cowboys offense was out of whack. The rushing attack had no teeth, accounting for 1,265 yards, the lowest total recorded during a 16-game season in franchise history. To move the ball, Dallas relied predominantly on Tony Romo. He attempted the most passes and threw for the most yards in team history.
Still, Dallas didn’t feature the most unbalanced offense in the league that season. Detroit, under the direction of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, did.
Less than two years later, Linehan has been hired by the Dallas Cowboys. He will take over the play-calling role that offensive coordinator Bill Callahan assumed last season. The Cowboys have retained Callahan, who often faced criticism for cramming pass plays into his game plans while ignoring the ground game.
Callahan was ripped in the aftermath of a close victory over a dreadful Minnesota team last November, when Romo threw 51 times and the Dallas Cowboys executed eight called running plays. A month later, Callahan was identified as scapegoat after Dallas managed to surrender a 23-point advantage and lose to Green Bay. The historic collapse happened, in part, because the Cowboys attempted three times as many throws as runs in the second half, allowing for time to be preserved as its lead disappeared.
“We have to be more balanced,” Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said last year.
It was a common refrain — one that he repeated in September, November and December.
But will Linehan help restore equilibrium to the Dallas Cowboys offense?
During any of his five seasons in Detroit, the Lions never ran the ball more than 40.4 percent of the time. Former Highland Park standout Matthew Stafford and All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson were the primary engines of the Lions’ offense. In nine of the 16 games he started in 2013, Stafford threw 40 or more passes. Johnson, meanwhile, was targeted 156 times — the ninth-highest total in the league. Leaning on Stafford and Johnson, Linehan proved aggressive in his play-calling. Stafford attempted 56 passes of 21 or more air yards last season. Romo, meanwhile, threw 42.
Under Callahan’s supervision, the Dallas Cowboys were reluctant to stretch the field vertically. Linehan has never been hesitant to do that. When he was hired as the offensive coordinator in Miami and served on Nick Saban’s staff with Jason Garrett in 2005, Linehan proclaimed he wanted the Dolphins to throw downfield.
“It’s fair to say there’s going to be some deep threat incorporated into every read,” Linehan told the Palm Beach Post then. “The coverage will dictate where the ball goes. But we’re going to attack all parts of the field.”
A quarterback at Idaho, Linehan’s allegiance to the pass was established under Dennis Erickson, who popularized the one-back offense. In his first NFL stop, with Minnesota, Linehan showed his commitment to throwing the ball by maintaining the strong connection between Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss. From 2002-04, when he was the offensive coordinator, the Vikings finished in the top 10 in offensive points scored. During Linehan’s first NFL campaign, Minnesota also had the top rushing attack in the NFL.
The Lions’ best running game during his tenure was ranked 17 in the league as Linehan presided over an offense that, at times, was more unbalanced than the Dallas Cowboys.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Scott Linehan’s offenses
At each of his coaching stops as offensive coordinator (OC) or head coach, Scott Linehan’s offenses have passed more than they ran. The rundown:
Editors comment: Yes, historically Scott Linehan leans towards the pass. With Tony Romo, and this core of Dallas Cowboys receivers, this is not necessarily a bad thing. The ratios above are not as important as Linehan’s aggressive style and philosophical compatibility with Jason Garrett regarding attacking all parts of the field. Garrett repeated stated his desire to establish and maintain a run threat during the 2013 season. If Linehan can build 25-30 runs into each 2014-2015 gameplan, the Cowboys can achieve 20 or so runs per game. This allows for Romo audibles and pre-snap kills … based on coverage shown by opposing defenses. The key, is remaining in a run threat formation … regardless of Romo’s preconceived, intended, or emerging target during each snap. With DeMarco Murray and this young emerging offensive line, it’s fair to expect more balance in the upcoming season.
HONOLULU — The NFL wanted Pro Bowl drama. The NFL got Pro Bowl drama.
Alex Smith, the final pick in last Wednesday’s Pro Bowl Draft, led Team Rice on the final touchdown drive on a rain-soaked field. Then Jerry Rice and Riverboat Ron Rivera went for two and clinched a 22-21 win over Team Sanders in the first unconferenced Pro Bowl.
This was the best Pro Bowl in a long, long time.
Here’s what else we learned from Sunday’s game (Watch highlight video):
1. Even if the banter was manufactured by the 2014 Pro Bowl Draft, players after the game said they enjoyed the process and the opportunity to play with guys they never had a chance to team with before. It was a theme all week.
2. Teammates hitting each other didn’t seem like a big deal. Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson laid the wood on teammate Jamaal Charles early. Cleveland Browns safety T.J. Ward later flipped Josh Gordon to the ground. We never did get that teammate-on-quarterback sack, though.
3. Speaking of quarterback sacks, the defensive lines dominated. The two teams ended up with nine sacks. Early in the contest, we wondered if Sean Payton would call Team Rice’s coach (and division rival) Ron Rivera and ask him to sit Drew Brees. The Saints quarterback was sacked twice and battered often. The QB pressures were a big reason for all the turnovers.
4. J.J. Watt was a beast. Playing next to Ndamukong Suh and later Greg Hardy, Watt was unblockable. With Team Rice double-teaming Watt, Hardy picked up a sack. Don’t think management in Houston didn’t see that and ponder what Jadeveon Clowney would look like next to Watt.
5. The playful teammate trash talk was constant and likely will linger in texts and tweets the next couple days. Mike Tolbert’s SuperCam mock-celebration after his two-point conversion was emblematic. “I told Cam I was going to mess with him if I got in the end zone, so I had to,” Tolbert said laughing.
6. The lack of continuity on offense clearly hurt the product. Not only were there fewer teammate combinations due to the draft, the new format also lessened the practice time by one day. There were a multitude of miscommunications between quarterback and receiver.
7. Speaking of teammates, Drew Brees hit Jimmy Graham for an early touchdown pass. On the play, Brent Grimes (all 5-foot-10 of him) ended up on the 6-foot-7 tight end. That, friends, is a mismatch.
8. What was going through Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe’s mind as he rumbled toward the end zone after his second-quarter interception? “I was thinking of a touchdown celebration dance,” Poe said after the game. “I didn’t get there, but next time I will though.”
The NFL wanted a better Pro Bowl. And it got it.
Criticized in recent years for players not giving full effort and for the games getting too high-scoring and too different from the regular product we see each Sunday, this year’s Pro Bowl was a different story.
Whether it was the unconferenced format, which pitted regular-season teammates against each other for the first time, or the competitive draft from alumni captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders, or maybe just the threat from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last year that the players needed to pick it up or the game could be discontinued, the 2014 Pro Bowl was a lot more entertaining.
In the end, Team Rice defeated Team Sanders 22-21 with a late touchdown from DeMarco Murray with just 41 seconds to play. A two-point conversion run Carolina’s Mike Tolbert gave Team Rice the lead. A 67-yard field goal attempt by Baltimore’s Justin Tucker fell short, giving Rice the win.
Eagles QB Nick Foles was named Offensive MVP and Kansas City linebacker Derrick Johnson took home the Defensive MVP honors.
The Dallas Cowboys originally had only two players – Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant – voted into the game. But in the last two weeks, three players were added as alternates. The Cowboys had a total five on the field tonight.
Here’s a quick look how each player fared in the game.
Dez Bryant – Playing in his first Pro Bowl, the receiver wasn’t a huge factor for Team Sanders. He had two catches for 12 yards but did have a chance to score in the third quarter but dropped a fourth-down pass right at the goal line.
Jason Witten – For most of the game, Witten was a non-factor but he did have two catches – his only two – in the final minute of the game as Team Sanders drove for the win. Although he did start, he gave way to Cleveland’s Jordan Cameron, who ultimately caught the game-winning score late in the fourth. Witten has now played in nine Pro Bowls in his 11-year career.
Tyron Smith – The first-time Pro Bowler started for Team Rice but played the entire game at right tackle after playing the season on the left side. Smith had a false start penalty early in the game but clearly had some issues blocking Houston’s J.J. Watt and a stiff pass-rush by Team Sanders, which had four sacks and four turnovers. Smith played most of the game without much substitution.
Jason Hatcher – Also a starter for Team Rice, Hatcher had a fourth-quarter sack on Eagles QB Nick Foles on third down. Hatcher also had an offside penalty but played fairly well, coming up with a huge QB pressure in the final seconds in what could be his final game with a Cowboys helmet.
DeMarco Murray – The third tailback for Team Rice, Murray wasn’t much of a factor until the final drive. Murray caught a dump-off pass from Alex Smith and scurried in for 20-yard touchdown to pull his team within one point. A two-point conversion by Tolbert on the next play gave Team Rice the win. Murray had four carries for 25 yards and four catches for 37 yards.
DeMarco Murray scores game winning TD in 2014 NFL Pro Bowl (WATCH)
Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray scores for Team Rice with less than a minute to play, and alumni captain Jerry Rice makes the bold decision to go for the game winning 2-point conversion.
Team Jerry Rice
Team Deion Sanders
Team Jerry Rice | Team Deion Sanders
|Total First Downs||24||Total First Downs||14|
|By Rushing||7||By Rushing||4|
|By Passing||16||By Passing||10|
|By Penalty||By Penalty|
|Third Down Efficiency||6/16 – 37%||Third Down Efficiency||2/11 – 18%|
|Fourth Down Efficiency||2/4 – 50%||Fourth Down Efficiency||1/2 – 50%|
|Total Net Yards||384||Total Net Yards||285|
|Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks)||78||Total Rushing/Passing Plays (includes Sacks)||56|
|Average Gain per Offensive Play||4.9||Average Gain per Offensive Play||5.1|
|Net Yards Rushing||114||Net Yards Rushing||62|
|Total Rushing Plays||20||Total Rushing Plays||17|
|Average Gain per Rushing Play||5.7||Average Gain per Rushing Play||3.6|
|Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards)||1–1||Tackled for a Loss (Number-Yards)||1–3|
|Net Yards Passing||270||Net Yards Passing||223|
|Times Sacked (Number-Yards)||4 – 21||Times Sacked (Number-Yards)||5 – 41|
|Gross Yards Passing||291||Gross Yards Passing||264|
|Pass Comp-Att-Int||26 – 54 – 4||Pass Comp-Att-Int||20 – 34 – 2|
|Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks)||4.7||Average Gain per Passing Play (includes Sacks)||5.7|
|Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks)||0 – 0 – 0||Kickoffs (Number-In End Zone-Touchbacks)||0 – 0 – 0|
|Punts (Number-Average)||4 – 49.0||Punts (Number-Average)||5 – 49.2|
|Net Punting Average||47.0||Net Punting Average||38.0|
|FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked||0 – 0||FGs Blocked – PATs Blocked||0 – 0|
|Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs)||56||Total Return Yardage (excludes Kickoffs)||109|
|Punt Returns (Number-Yards)||5 – 56||Punt Returns (Number-Yards)||3 – 8|
|Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards)||0 – 0||Kickoff Returns (Number-Yards)||0 – 0|
|Interception Returns (Number-Yards)||2 – 0||Interception Returns (Number-Yards)||4 – 101|
|Penalties (Number-Yards)||4 – 20||Penalties (Number-Yards)||2 – 10|
|Fumbles (Number-Lost)||2 – 1||Fumbles (Number-Lost)||3 – 1|
|Kickoff Returns||0||Kickoff Returns||0|
|Fumble Returns||0||Fumble Returns||0|
|Punt Returns||0||Punt Returns||0|
|Extra Points (Made-Attempted)||3 – 3||Extra Points (Made-Attempted)||3 – 3|
|Kicking (Made-Attempted)||2 – 2||Kicking (Made-Attempted)||3 – 3|
|Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted)||1 – 1||Two Point Conversions (Made-Attempted)||0 – 0|
|Field Goals (Made-Attempted)||0 – 1||Field Goals (Made-Attempted)||0 – 2|
|Red Zone Efficiency||2/4 – 50%||Red Zone Efficiency||2/3 – 66%|
|Goal To Go Efficiency||2/3 – 66%||Goal To Go Efficiency||1/2 – 50%|
|Final Score||22||Final Score||21|
|Time of Possession||32:47||Time of Possession||27:13|
NFL Pro Bowl 2014
COWBOYS HEADED TO HAWAII: DeMarco Murray becomes fifth Dallas Cowboy added to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl roster
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys initially had just two Pro Bowlers heading to Hawaii. Now they have five.
The latest addition is yet another first-timer as running back DeMarco Murray has been added, replacing San Francisco’s Frank Gore, who was injured in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Seahawks.
Murray makes his first Pro Bowl trip of his three-year career after enjoying his first 1,000-yard season. He rushed for 1,124 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns during the 2013 season. He also scored six of his nine touchdowns in the second half of the season.
Murray becomes the first Cowboys running back since Marion Barber in 2007 to make the Pro Bowl and just the second since Emmitt Smith’s eighth and final selection in 1999.
Murray joins a running back group of Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, and LeSean McCoy, who were all initially selected. Adrian Peterson was also picked but won’t play because of injury and Marshawn Lynch is out because of the Super Bowl. Eddie Lacy and Alfred Morris have been added as replacements for those two but Murray now replaces Gore.
Originally, the Cowboys only had two Pro Bowl selections – Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith, a pair of first-round picks who are going for the first time. Last week, Jason Hatcher was added to the roster as a replaced for Baltimore’s injured nose tackle Haloti Ngata. And on Sunday, Jason Witten made it to the Pro Bowl after Denver’s Julius Thomas had to be replaced after the Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl.
The first ever “Unconferenced” Pro Bowl will be played Jan. 26 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, airing on NBC at 6 p.m. (CST). The first-ever NFL Pro Bowl draft will be nationally-televised on NFL Network Wednesday, Jan. 22 (7 p.m. CST) as alumni captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will pick the teams.
RELATED: TE Jason Witten fourth Dallas Cowboy added to 2014 NFL Pro Bowl
MOBILE, Ala. – Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten will now be heading to his ninth career Pro Bowl.
Witten was added to the 2014 NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday to replace Broncos tight end Julius Thomas, who’s now Super Bowl bound.
Wide receiver Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith were initially the only two players selected to the Pro Bowl from the Dallas Cowboys, but Jason Hatcher (and now Witten) were additions this week. Witten’s ninth Pro Bowl appearance ties him with Randy White for the fourth-most in team history, behind only Bob Lilly, Larry Allen and Mel Renfro.
Jason Witten started all 16 games this year for the Cowboys and played in all 16 games for the 10th straight season. He finished with 73 catches for 851 yards and eight touchdowns, which marked his second-highest touchdown total of his career behind only the nine he scored in 2010.
He finished the 2013 season placing fifth in catches and yards and tied for fourth in touchdowns among all tight ends around the league.
Witten made the Pro Bowl every year from 2004-2010 and made the Pro Bowl after the 2012 season, in which he recorded a career-high 110 catches. All the other three Cowboys will be going to the Pro Bowl for the first time.
IRVING, Texas – Two Dallas Cowboys players will be heading to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl.
Bryant recorded his second straight 1,000-yard receiving year this season, and it’s also his second straight season with 12 receiving touchdowns.
He’s hauled in 85 catches for 1,134 yards through 15 games and would need seven catches and 248 yards in the finale to tie his numbers from last season. But Bryant’s been more efficient and rarely seemed out of sync or out place with Tony Romo’s passes.
His 12 receiving touchdowns this season tie him with Brandon Marshall and Demaryius Thomas for most in the NFL among wide receivers. Tight end Jimmy Graham leads all players with 15 receiving touchdowns.
Bryant’s recorded three games this season with at least 140 receiving yards and four games with at least 100 receiving yards. He’s also got a touchdown in each of his last four games.
Smith began as a right tackle before switching over to the left side last season, and his play dramatically increased toward the middle portion of the 2013 season, turning quickly into the elite player the Dallas Cowboys envisioned when they used their first-round pick on him in 2011.
This is the first time since DeMarcus Ware’s rookie season he hasn’t been named to the Pro Bowl. Jason Witten, who’s made eight Pro Bowls, including every year from 2004-2010 and another last season, also didn’t make it this year.
This marks the first time since 2010 the Dallas Cowboys have sent a receiver to the Pro Bowl, when Miles Austin went. It also marks the first time since 2010 the Cowboys took an offensive lineman to the Pro Bowl, when they sent Andre Gurode. It’s the first time since 2008, when Flozell Adams made the Pro Bowl, that a Cowboys offensive tackle was selected.
Unlike previous years, this year’s Pro Bowl offers something much different. There’s no more AFC lined up against the NFC. The all-stars will be drafted without conferences, but it will be back in Hawaii on Jan. 26, 2014, at Aloha Stadium.
The Pro Bowl players were determined by the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches. Each group’s vote counted a third toward determining the Pro Bowl selections announced today. Two additional “need” players will be chosen by each head coach and must be long snappers.
The “unconferenced” Pro Bowl player draft will be held Jan. 22 in Hawaii. Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders will be team captains. Once again, players competing in the Super Bowl won’t be involved and more Cowboys could be asked to join the event as alternates in the future.
The Chiefs and 49ers sent a league-best eight players each to the Pro Bowl. Dallas and Philadelphia, which sent LeSean McCoy and Jason Peters, were the only two NFC East teams to send two players to the Pro Bowl. In all, 27 teams had at least one player selected and 22 had multiple players selected.
IRVING, Texas – Dez Bryant’s going to play tomorrow night.
That was his message as the receiver, who was limited two days in practice this week and missed another day with a back injury, stood in front of his locker room and discussed how the team has to play for injured quarterback Tony Romo.
“Look how I’m standing,” Bryant said, as he stood straight up at his locker. “That should tell you enough. I’m ready to go. I’m good. I’m ready.”
For the first time this season, Bryant will be hauling in passes from a quarterback not named Romo. Bryant said everyone else has to step their game up more with Romo out.
“This is for everything,” Bryant said. “We’ve got to go out there and fight. We’re going to go out, lay it all out on the line and get this ‘W’ for Tony.”
Bryant said coach Jason Garrett’s rule is the next man up has to step up, and he’s confident the Dallas Cowboys will rally around Kyle Orton and do their best to get a victory and get into the playoffs, but he added that he feels for Romo, who’s his guy right now and will always be his guy.
“I want him to hurry up and get well, hope he has a speedy recovery, which I know he is,” Bryant said. “I’m going to try to get this W for him.”
Orton and the players around him have all expressed their confidence in his ability to get the job done. Bryant said he’s comfortable with Orton at quarterback and it shouldn’t be a huge issue.
With Bryant’s back, Sean Lee’s neck, Ernie Sims’ groin, DeMarcus Ware’s various injuries and a number of hamstring problems throughout the team, the Cowboys once again find themselves in a tough spot health-wise for their season finale.
Bryant said of course he’d like to be going into this one full strength, but this situation’s a reality the group has to accept and move on from.
“It’s something we have to deal with,” he said. “Just get in that treatment room and get better and come back on Sunday and get ready to play.”
EAGLES @ COWBOYS PRIMER: Jason Garrett press conference | Tony Romo back surgery | 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys game 16
Jason Garrett Press Conference: Cowboys vs. Eagles | Friday Practice (7:55)
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett speaks to the media as his team continues preparation for Sunday’s game with the 2013-2014 Philadelphia Eagles (Watch Video | Play Audio)
- Tony Romo IR and back surgery announcement
- Specifics of Romo’s back surgery; asked if it was related to herniated disc
- Estimation of when Romo will be able to return to team activities next season
- How the Romo injury has influenced Orton’s reps in practices all week
- Difficulty of Romo coming to grips on the necessity to have season ending surgery
- Two back surgeries in eight months a concern for the team going forward
- Did the back injury occur in last weeks game vs. Washington Redskins or earlier
- Teams plans to fill Romo’s roster spot for remaining games.
- How Romo responded to treatment attempts this week
- When was the final determination made to move forward with the surgery
- How do you prepare Romo’s teammates with the news of Romo being out indefinitely
- Was there any lingering issues from Romo’s surgical procedure earlier in the year
- How has Orton’s practices gone this week and in prior practices this season
- If Jon Kitna (Kit’s) up to speed with offense and new twists added in his absence
- What is the most difficult part of backup QBs adaption to gameday action
- Dez Bryant progress with his back injury; prognosis for upcoming game vs. Eagles
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys Kyle Orton steps in with confidence
IRVING, Texas – The preparation may not change much, but the circumstances certainly have for Kyle Orton as he prepares to make his first start for the Dallas Cowboys for the injured Tony Romo.
Orton’s taking practice reps with the first team offense for the first time this year as the Dallas Cowboys get ready for their most important game of the season in a win or go home matchup at AT&T Stadium against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17.
“Just excited, you know, just to be able to get some practice reps,” Orton said. “It felt good today, just kind of see how it plays out throughout the week, but it really doesn’t change my preparation at all. Just get the added benefit of getting some reps during the week, which was good.”
Orton, who’s been the backup in Dallas the last two years, is their go-to guy. They also added Jon Kitna for further depth.
Orton’s thrown a pass in just two games the last two years, going 3-for-5 for 40 yards against the Bears this year and going 9-for-10 with a touchdown against the Bears last year.
Prior to joining the Cowboys, he made 69 career starts in stops with the Bears, Broncos and Chiefs. He said the feeling is excitement, not pressure, getting to throw to Dez Bryant and Jason Witten and hand the ball off to DeMarco Murray in this situation.
“I fall back on my experience,” Orton said. “I’ve played a lot of games in this league and I’ve had some success. Just excited. The group of guys I’ve got around me, I don’t really feel like I’ve got to go out there and do too much – get the ball to the playmakers and give it to 29 and 82 and 88 and let those guys go to work.”
Orton emphasized the importance of not trying to do too much. His plan is to get the ball out as quickly as possible to the open receiver, and he believes the Cowboys have multiple options who know how to get free and make plays.
Though Orton hasn’t worked with the first team during the regular season, he did get to work with the team’s top offensive players while Romo was out in the offseason, particularly during Organized Team Activities.
“Any time you’re a backup, all the reps you can get with the guys are important,” Orton said. I was kind of fortunate to get a lot of the reps during OTAs. That’s a long time ago, but I’ve practiced hard throughout the whole year and really feel like my game’s in a great spot right now and I’m really confident heading into the week.”
It’s beneficial for Orton that he’s had two years now to learn the playbook.
Even if his first start comes 16 games into the season, he’s confident he can step in, and the offensive linemen in front of him share that feeling. Orton complimented what the line’s been able to do, and the success of the line in recent weeks gives Orton even more confidence he can step in quickly.
“I think the whole offensive line’s played great,” Orton said. “Obviously in the run game to have a 1,000-yard rusher going into Week 17 is a great deal and what they’ve done pass pro-wise has been really good.”
Both center Travis Frederick and guard Mackenzy Bernadeau said not much will change for them and how they block, regardless of which quarterback’s behind them.
“Kyle knows the offense,” Bernadeau said. “He’s been with this system for a while. Just calling the plays in the huddle, his demeanor knowing the offense, calling the protections, making the mike points, the sight adjustments and hot adjustments that he reads, I’m very confident. I know that he knows the offense. So when we communicate and talk up front, we’re thinking what he’s thinking. It meshes real well. I have all the confidence in his ability.”
Orton said when Romo got injured late against the Redskins, he saw the situation as everyone else did.
Romo didn’t say much about the injury to his teammates as he battled out to the end of the game. Orton didn’t realize at the time what was to come based on Romo’s reaction. He complimented the starter’s ability to finish the game the way he did.
“I think Tony played a great game in Washington,” Orton said. “Obviously, dealing with what he dealt with toward the end of the game there was great stuff. I know if he can be out there playing, he’ll be out there.”
If Romo can go, Orton knows he’ll probably be relegated back to the bench. But with Romo’s playing status in serious doubt, Orton’s ready for the opportunity in front of him.
“No doubt I’m excited,” Orton said. “We’ll see how Tony heals up. He’s a great quarterback, he’s had a great year and I know he wants to finish this thing out. But as a backup, that’s your job to be ready to go whenever it is. I think the guys have got a lot of confidence in me, I know I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself, and I’m excited to play.”
GAME 15 GAMEPLAN – COWBOYS VS REDSKINS: It’s time to “let your star be the star” | Cowboys injury shuffle continues in Dallas
IRVING, Texas – Twenty-four hours from now, the Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins game will be in the history books. Here are some final thoughts prior to the game …
Let Your Star Be The Star
Where Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan have done a much better job in the 2nd half of this season is finding ways to move Dez Bryant around in order to find him space in the defense. By using Bryant on the outside but also in the slot has prevented teams from getting a read on where he is going to operate from. Also give Bryant credit for embracing all the moving around and doing a solid job with his assignments and routes. Against this Redskins secondary, there will be opportunities for some productive plays that are simple throws. Keep an eye on Bryant out of the slot this week if the Redskins decide not to bring DeAngelo Hall with him inside. Usually Josh Wilson will play the slot and there is no way that if Bryant continues to run those routes across the field and underneath, that he can match him. Expect Garrett and Callahan to become even more creative in where they move Dez Bryant around in this game.
In his press conference on Friday morning, Jason Garrett was asked about how hard it was to practice and prepare for the Redskins this week with all the players that were missing at one time or another for various medical reasons. His answer was that it wasn’t easy but you find ways to adjust. The biggest problem for this club is trying to field enough players for your scout teams to give your first and second groups the plays they need to work against to get ready for the ball game. If you just take the defensive group for example, with Jason Hatcher, DeMarcus Ware, and George Selvie missing time, that meant guys like Everette Brown, Jarius Wynn, and Martez Wilson had to take double reps working with both the defense, then turning around and playing on the scout team for the offense. DeVonte Holloman will be getting his first start at Mike (middle linebacker) because of injuries to Sean Lee, Justin Durant and Ernie Sims, but there he was getting work on the scout team, just trying to help out. Kyle Wilber is another guy that does this as well. Brandon Carr missed the last two days of practice dealing with a virus, so Sterling Moore who now starts in the nickel on the outside was working as a scout team corner with B.W. Webb. Garrett even spoke of offensive players such as receivers working as corners, just so they could field 11 players to work against. If things had gotten any worse, I am sure, that defensive back coach, Jerome Henderson, who was a former NFL cornerback could have took a rep or two. The last thing a coaching staff wants to deal with is problems during their weekly preparation but it sounds like they were able to work around the issues they had.
Not A Simple Replacement
It will be another week without Dwayne Harris in the lineup due to his hamstring injury. Harris is like that Swiss Army Knife in your pocket. He is the blade, spoon and scissors all in one. Of all the injuries down the stretch, the one to Sean Lee was huge. You could make a case that the injury to Harris has been the one that is the most difficult to replace. There are so many roles that he has on the team, that you just can’t bring one player on board and feel like that is taken care of. In an attempt to find Harris’ replacement, the front office turned to the coaching staff in hope that their experience with certain players over the years, that there might be someone on the street that could maybe fill that void. In this case, Rich Bisaccia had been with Michael Spurlock during two different stops with the Buccaneers and Chargers. What you get from Spurlock is a punt and kickoff return man, an outside flyer on the punt team and a player you can use on the kickoff team as the L3 or R3 as a cover man. I am not going to tell you that Spurlock will be as productive as Dwayne Harris but it is important that his coach believes that he can more than handle the job and with so much on the line you need that type of confidence in the player.
Important Practice Squad Addition
It’s not normal to get too up (or down) about practice squad addition. It was important for various reasons to consistently add and subtract players. In order to not only give the coaches the best group of players to function every day for practice, but also trying to develop (one or two) players that might be able to use as future starters. Much like the Dallas Cowboys did with Ronald Leary in 2012. There are also other reasons you use your practice squad and that is to bring a player or two on that might have been with a future opponent and pick their brain about ways that they might operate. The Cowboys made a very interesting practice squad move on a player that was with the Redskins through their game in Atlanta just last week. Lance Lewis (see below) is a receiver that was on the active roster for the Redskins for the last month of the season and active in games against the 49ers, Giants, and Falcons. He takes the place of Jamar Newsome who was on the practice squad, but was injured this week. Usually teams will not add players this late in the week unless they are rolling guys on and off to have a nine or ten man roster. Lewis got to suit up with the Cowboys and practice on Friday and will do so again today before the team leaves this afternoon. As a staff, you look for any advantage that you might get in a matchup and in this case, the Dallas Cowboys might have found a good one.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys sign wide receiver Lance Lewis from Redskins squad
The Dallas Cowboys placed practice squad wide receiver Jamar Newsome on practice-squad IR on Friday. Newsome, who has been on the squad most of the year, suffered a calf strain.
The club has replaced him with wide receiver Lance Lewis, who has been with the Washington Redskins organization the last two years, mostly on the practice squad.
Adding Lewis gives the Cowboys three receivers on the practice squad, along with Tim Benford and Lanear Sampson.
There was some speculation that one of the practice-squad receivers could get a call-up this week, depending on Terrance Williams’ hamstring injury. After missing practice Wednesday and Thursday, Williams returned to practice Friday and is listed as questionable to play against the Redskins on Sunday.
NFL Sound FX: Dez Bryant Mic’d Up vs. Green Bay Packers | 5:11
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant during the Dallas Cowboys 37-26 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Witness, through Bryant’s mic, some of the events that led to the last minute defeat. (Watch this Video)
Jason Garrett press conference: Game breakdown after game film review (23:20)
- How Jason Garrett asserts himself in game time offensive decisions
- Why it’s hard to remain (appear) stubborn regarding the run in running situations
- Any way to defend Tony Romo switching to the pass when a run is called
- What Jason Garrett could have done differently to prevent that (turnover) from happening
- Communication during an actual call in critical situations (run, no pass option veto)
- How often has Jason Garrett told Tony Romo specifically what to do on a play call
- Instead of hindsight, why aren’t adjustment decisions made during the course of the game
- Second guessing Escobar not being in-motion to block the sack on Romo
- Any point in the second half where Jason Garrett was second guessing
- If he feels like he signaled Tony Romo out in the postgame press conference (below)
- Steps to put the “overlay” into decisions during critical situations (situational awareness)
- How ineffective 3rd downs affect decisions with play calling on 2nd downs
- DeMarco Murray’s sideline frustration in 2nd half; disservice to him by not running
- How Dez Bryant decision to leave field was addressed; thoughts on issue
- Was Dez Bryant fined by the team (for leaving the field early)
- Is play calling/game planning being driven by inability to stop teams from scoring
- Is this defense forcing the offense to become more aggressive
- Does offensive gameplan change at halftime when headset goes down; Rookies
- Why was DeMarcus Ware so ineffective in the Green Bay game
- How concerned is Jason Garrett about the secondary; Morris Claiborne
- Was pass rush improvement seen in this game compared to Chicago game last week
- How DeMarco Murray’s run percentage plays are factored in to each game
- The specifics of the play where Cole Beasley was targeted, but resulted in an INT
- What do you say to fans that are looking for reasons to be optimistic going forward
- Sense of urgency factors placed on players/coaches because of recent losses
- Challenges of harnessing the negatives from last two losses; how to move forward
- Dealing with issue of not having top-four linebackers going into the Redskins game
- DeMarcus Ware getting some 1-on-1’s and still not getting sacks; Is he still a stud
- Has DeMarcus Ware lost some of his explosiveness
- Explaining decisions to take Jason Hatcher/Ware off the DL in certain situations/subs
- Biggest reason they have been able to run the ball for the past few weeks
- Recent communication with Jerry Jones regarding job security
- Confidence in veterans and leaders on the team
- Even with the recent losses, who still gives Jason Garrett confidence
- When history has show they haven’t gotten the job done in these loosing situations
IRVING, Texas – Games like this last one against the Packers just feed the monster. It’s out there and it loves to jump on Tony Romo and Jason Garrett and of course, Jerry Jones.
Anytime the Cowboys blow a second-half lead or Romo throws a pick or two late, it ignites a wave of criticism from coast to coast. As Jason Garrett says, “it comes with the dinner.”
I just did a segment on NFL AM on the NFL Network for about five minutes and answered questions about Tony Romo’s decision-making, Dez Bryant leaving the field early and Jason Garrett’s job security.
But no one is asking about the real issue of this team. The issue that led to Dez walking off the field or Tony having to make those decisions or the fact Garrett hasn’t won enough games this year and why his job is in question.
Let’s be honest, the real issue about the 2013 Dallas Cowboys is the defense. This defense is one of the worst in NFL history.
They rank dead-last in the NFL, yielding 427.3 yards per game. They are the worst against the pass at 297.4 yards per game.
And that’s really the root of this whole mess.
I had one Cowboys assistant coach tell me Monday that “if Aaron Rodgers would’ve played, he would’ve thrown for 500 yards.” The same coach also said Kirk Cousins of the Redskins is better than Matt Flynn, who lit them up in the second half.
This team scored 36 points on Sunday. And it wasn’t enough. Sure, the offense had chances to get more touchdowns and settled on five Dan Bailey field goals. Yeah, if they get one more touchdowns instead of a field goal, they probably win.
I get that. Still, 36 points should win you a game in the NFL.
The Cowboys rank fourth in the NFL in scoring at 28.1 points per game. That trails only Denver (38.2), Chicago (29.0) and Kansas City (28.5). All three of those teams are either leading their division or clinched a playoff spot. And all three teams have beaten the Cowboys, too.
But 28 points per game is good enough to be atop the NFL leaders in scoring.
Yet, when the Cowboys actually score 28 points this year, their record is only 4-4. That’s ridiculous that a team can lose four games when they score 28 points or more. Two of those losses occurred with more than 35 points, including the one Sunday.
Yeah, Romo threw a pick he shouldn’t have when he checked out of run. I’m not absolving him from that. It was a bad decision and one that makes no sense. But why did he feel the need to do so? He knew he couldn’t give the ball back to the Packers, because they would score and win the game.
He gave the ball back to Detroit and the Lions marched the field and won. He knew he couldn’t do the same with Green Bay.
Again, I don’t agree with Romo’s decision to throw it. I would’ve been OK punting the ball back to Green Bay with no timeouts and under the 2-minute warning and needing about 85-90 yards to the end zone. I say you take your chances.
But most teams and quarterbacks in the NFL would’ve done that. Then again, they probably have more faith in their defense.
That’s just how bad things have gotten here in Dallas. This defense is shredded because of injuries. And the players who are on the field aren’t always performing to the level we have grown accustomed to.
So take your shots at Garrett, Romo and Dez and whoever else. But the real issue is this defense is as bad as we’ve ever seen.
Courtesy: Nick Eatman | DC staff writer
Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant took to Twitter last night to explain why he walked to the locker room with 1:21 left in the 37-36 loss to the Packers.
It came after the game-sealing interception from quarterback Tony Romo. Bryant walked off after the replay officials reversed the call on the field that the pass was incomplete, giving the interception to cornerback Tramon Williams.
Bryant, after declining to speak with reporters after the game, later explained his actions in a tweet on @dezbryant:
“I walked back to the locker room because I was emotional…it had nothing to do with my teammates we had it… We fought and didn’t finish.”
Bryant was the only Cowboys player to leave the field early, but quarterback Tony Romo refused to criticize him for his actions.
“It’s an emotional game,” Romo said. “You get to the end there, obviously, it’s not fun for any of us to lose a football game. It’s not an enjoyable process the way it ends, no matter how it ends. It’s always tough emotionally so it is what it is.”
Bryant had a solid game, finishing with 11 catches for 153 yards and a touchdowns. However, he could have had better numbers as Romo underthrew him on two deep balls and overthrew him on another in the end zone.
“I think the worst thing you can do sometimes with Dez is overthrow him,” Romo said. “Obviously, you’d like to hit him perfectly in stride. He’s such a great athlete, he comes down with most of them. I look back and I wish I had one or two where I gave it a little bit more. But usually, I make sure if I err ever it’s slightly less because he always goes up and gets it. Obviously, I look back, I’ll push those down the field if I have that opportunity.”
RELATED: Dez Bryant couldn’t stand to watch Green Bay kneel the ball down
Dez Bryant regrets it. He wishes he wouldn’t have walked off the field with 1:21 left and the Green Bay Packers a couple kneels away from a 37-36 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
Bryant spoke about the incident Monday morning as the Cowboys were on their annual visits to area children’s hospitals, which included Bryant visiting Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.
“I was wrong,” Bryant said. “It didn’t have anything to do with my teammates. I just … I couldn’t watch Green Bay kneel the ball down on the field after a tough loss like that.
“I was very emotional. I cried when I got into the locker room. I didn’t want to show that stuff on the sideline.”
The Cowboys blew a 23-point halftime lead and wasted an impressive performance by Bryant. He had 11 catches for 153 yards and a touchdown. The TD catch might have been the most remarkable of all, as he grabbed the ball away from several Green Bay defenders and kept his feet inbounds near the back of the end zone.
But that catch was overshadowed by Bryant’s early exit.
“Whenever I’m out on the football field, it’s all about the team,” Bryant said. “I’m a team guy and that’s what I think about and that’s what I focus on. I extremely, extremely apologize for leaving, but my teammates and coaches understand. I am a very emotional player and we didn’t finish.”
The hospital visit, though, did provide some comfort for Bryant and the other players to get away from the tough loss by bringing smiles to children’s faces.
“This is something I really enjoy doing,” Bryant said. “Whenever you’re able to make someone’s day, you should feel good about it.”
Editor’s Comment: I’m going to share my own opinion of this situation. If you have one, I encourage you to express it in the comment section below. The media at large is making light of Dez Bryant’s emotional and tearful reaction to this loss. No, he shouldn’t have left. No, he will not do it again.
If you follow the Dallas Cowboys closely (like most regular visitors on this site), you already know how emotional Dez Bryant is. That’s a big part of his personality. HE’S DETERMINED TO WIN! The coaches and players are quick to point out that his emotions are one of the key elements that make his such a valuable member of the team. Most of the players that Jason Garrett has kept with his team, or brought in, have the same type of workmanlike traits. The thing with Dez is that he wears his emotions on his sleeve. He’s outwardly expressive. I think that’s a good thing and also believe it’s something that this locker room needs. A player that HATES losing that bad needs to be heard. With only two games remaining, this could be something that ignites or unites this team. They sure need it. The players on this roster want to win for Jason Garrett, the coaches … and veterans Tony Romo, Jason Witten, and DeMarcus Ware. You can add Dez Bryant to that list.
Photo above: Dallas Cowboys on their annual visits to area children’s hospitals, which included Bryant visiting Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.
IRVING, Texas – It’s safe to say Dez Bryant left a much bigger imprint last weekend – in multiple ways.
After being targeted just twice with one catch on Nov. 10 in New Orleans, Bryant turned in nine catches for 102 yards on 16 targets on Sunday against the Giants. Though it’s fair to say that statline included both highs and lows.
Bryant’s night started with a dropped pass that led to a Giants interception, and it was made worse by a wacky fumble for a 21-yard loss. But Bryant made up for it with three clutch catches on the Cowboys’ game-winning drive.
“We got the job done, and like I said I was going through a little bit of adversity at the beginning of that, but things started clicking at the end,” he said.
Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Tuesday morning in his weekly interview with 105.3 The Fan that Bryant needed to work on ball security. He did add, however, that some of that is simply the way he approaches the game.
“He’s violent when he’s got the ball. He’s violent going after the ball. Consequently he does need to have that ball closer to his body,” Jones said. “I don’t know how much of that you’ll ever be able to coach out of him.”
For his part, Bryant said he doesn’t think there are any problems with his fundamentals. Instead, he said it’s a result of the elements the game was played in, which is something he’ll need to be mindful of in two weeks when the Cowboys travel to Chicago.
“My ball security, honestly, has always been fine,” Bryant said. “It was just that kind of a game where you have to be a little bit more prepared – focusing on what kind of difficulties it would be in the cold weather, handling the ball. I think you’ve just got to prepare a little bit better.”
His quarterback seemed pleased with the outcome, despite the miscues. The increased focus on Bryant helped Tony Romo to his second-best passing total in the past month.
“Dez is a great competitor. He competes. He did a great job on the last drive of winning on his individual matchups,” Romo said. “I think you saw that, and obviously he knows he’s got to take care of the football. He works very hard at that, so I suspect he’ll continue to do a good job.”
Jones acknowledged the same thing, pointing out the need for getting the ball to Bryant. His reception tally of nine against the Giants tied his season high, set in Kansas City. But Bryant wasn’t overly interested in drawing praise – even from the team owner.
“I can’t make this about the targets, you know? We did win that game as a team – it’s not all about me. Not to be rude,” he said.
That said, Bryant did acknowledge that his late-game success could help carry over into Thursday’s game. With yet another chance to create a winning streak this season, he said the offense needs to remember that it can build on success, even if things aren’t working perfectly.
“It’s a confidence booster. You want to take that and add on top of it, and you want other guys to feed on it. And I think that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” he said.
RELATED: Jerry Jones Show: Dez Bryant’s ‘violent’ running style leads to fumbles
IRVING (105.3 THE FAN) – It could have been a game-changing play — a play that ultimately flipped Sunday’s 24-21 win over the New York Giants.
With the Cowboys leading 21-13 in the fourth quarter, receiver Dez Bryant fumbled the ball while fighting for extra yards. The ball was deflected 20-yards backwards, leaving the Cowboys in a difficult third-and-3o situation.
It wasn’t the cold, or the defensive player, or anyone else that was responsible for the fumble. After the game, Bryant attributed the fumble to a lack of focus.
But Cowboys owner Jerry Jones attributes it to the running style of his star receiver.
“He’s violent when he’s got the ball,” said Jones on 105.3 The Fan’sNew School. “He’s violent going after the ball. Consequently, he does need to have that ball in closer. He needs to fundamentally have it closer to his body.”
In 54 career games with Dallas, Bryant has fumbled the ball 12 times. Compare that to other elite receivers like Detroit’s Calvin Johnson (13 fumbles, 102 games) and Cincinnati’s A.J. Green (3 fumbles, 42 games), and you might conclude that Bryant has a serious problem.
Jones however understands that, while it’s unacceptable, you have to take the good with the bad when coaching Dez.
“You’d like to say, ‘hey just take the ball and go straight up the field rather than trying to take it across,’” said Jones. “Of course, about the time that comes out of your mouth, he goes lateral across that field and breaks it about 40 yards.”
So can Jason Garrett and the Cowboys’ coaching staff expect Dez to change his running style?
“A lot of this is a natural, physical way he plays football, and you’re not going to coach it out of him.”
Editors note: If you have any issues on your phone or other mobile device, select “Desktop View” from your browser. Enjoy!
COWBOYS GIANTS GAMEDAY PRIMER: Jersey boys want to give Dez Bryant some of his own medicine | 2013 Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul said the game is “like a Super Bowl to us,” which actually kind of makes sense. At 4-6, the Giants are working with a razor-thin margin of error. It’s not win-or-go-home, though it might as well be.
Yesterday, Giants safety Will Hill turned his attention to Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant. Hill offered up the defense’s strategy on how to unsettle the All-Pro.
“Get your hands on him,” Hill said, via NJ.com. “He doesn’t like to be touched, like most receivers in this league. But really him. He doesn’t like to be touched.”
“You just have to be physical with him,” cornerback Prince Amukamara agreed. “He’s a big guy. You just have to use his medicine against him. I think that is the key.”
Consider Bryant a sleeping giant right now. The Dallas Cowboys targeting their best player a grand total of two times, in what should have been a shootout with the New Orleans Saints.
You can safely assume coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan have drawn up a game plan this week that calls for Tony Romo to look Bryant’s way early and often. We’ll see if the Giants’ handsy game plan has any effect.
Dallas Cowboys Wide Receivers Breakdown
This article is part of a series. To see all related posts, click HERE. Enjoy!
Top Performer: Dez Bryant
The ultimate compliment to a player is when opponents focus their entire game plan in an attempt to take you out of the game for that day. There is no question when you study these games that defensive coordinators are determined to not allow Dez Bryant to take over a game.
Kansas City has been the only club this season that tried to play Bryant with single coverage and that almost got them beaten. The numbers say that despite all this attention, Bryant is still finding ways to continue to make plays, but I will also say that it has come at a price. Bryant has had to fight his rear off every snap to try and find space.
It hasn’t been easy for him and at times it has been frustrating, but these are the situations that the top receivers around the league have to deal with every day. There has never been a question of Bryant’s ability to go get the ball, but where he needs to improve his game is his ability as a route runner to work those routes against the various schemes designed to take him out of the game.
There was a time early in his career where he had no shot — now at least he has an understanding of what he needs to do to give himself a chance to succeed. Bryant is also going to need the help of the coaching staff to put himself in a better position to make plays, as well.
Need More From: Miles Austin
The medical staff made the determination to shut Miles Austin down after the Philadelphia game and attempt to get him ready for these final six games. If ever a player needed to step up on this offense and make a difference, it is Austin.
With no disrespect to Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris, the reason that Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are seeing the type of coverage that they are is because there is no threat on the outside. In regards to Williams, teams are making the rookie to have to fight playing through press coverage all day, and he just doesn’t have the knowledge of how to beat that with any consistency.
At least with Austin in the lineup, Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan can pair Austin with Bryant on the same side of the field and that will draw coverage away from Bryant. They can also use him in those bunch formations along with Witten and make teams have to play man against it or take their chances in zone.
Understandably, there is not a great deal of confidence in how well Austin’s health may hold up these last six weeks and beyond, but right now, it is the best option this offense has in trying to help them move the ball with more consistency, convert third downs and finish drives.
Austin is back on the practice field at his normal spot at the “Z,” and from all reports he’s made it through without any issues.
Six-Game Forecast: More weapons mean more pressure on defenses
We have seen some games this season where these receivers have been clutch, but also some times where they have been completely shut down.
As this offense goes, so do the receivers. Getting Austin back for this group is a huge step in the right direction in terms how it will help take coverage away from Bryant and Witten.
The more potential weapons they have on the field, the more opportunity to see them put pressure on these defenses to have to defend the entire offense. Dez Bryant is still the best option here and should continue to be, but he needs help.
That means Austin, Williams, Beasley and Harris need to step up their games as well. When this group is on, it can be hard to deal with — like it was in the final drive of the Minnesota game. For these next six games, these receivers need to find a way to be a nasty, play making group, because their postseason lives are on the line.