Dez Bryant really wants to be clear that he never said he was going to record 2,000 receiving yards in a season. He simply said it was possible.
The Dallas Cowboys wide receiver has used Twitter the last two days to defend comments he made in a Tuesday article on ESPNDallas.com.
Bryant told the website that he could “potentially” be the first player to record 2,000-receiving yards in a single season, but added that stats don’t mean anything to him if the Cowboys are not “strapping up for the playoffs.”
ESPN’s Skip Bayless (aka Wimp Brainless on The Boys Are Back blog) obviously didn’t read the story, tweeting Wednesday: “Just when I thought it was safe to trust the ‘maturing’ Dez, he makes a ‘me’ statement about 2K yds instead of a ‘we’ about making playoffs.”
Bryant got wind of Bayless’ comment and responded Wednesday with the following tweets:
“My bad skip I forgot you and your buddy get paid to twist up stories whenever you already know the truth.”
“Correction…i was asked a question.. i didn’t predict anything…basically all i said was it was possible.”
Bryant is coming off his best NFL season, finishing with 92 catches for 1,382 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
Courtesy: Jon Machota | Special Contributor | Dallas Morning News
ZoneBlitz.com says: Dez Bryant isn’t perfect, but Skip Bayless is one of the most self-important douchebags in sports journalism.
Nathan Adams says: Some day, Some place, Skip Bayless is going to get his ass handed to him for his big mouth!
Lars Hedegaard says: I agree with Nathan. Skip is a big mouth and really never has anything to say worth listening too!
John Leonard says: Thanks, Zone. You saved me the trouble of posting the same sentiment.
Former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson is raising questions about the atmosphere at Valley Ranch. Johnson called Valley Ranch a "country club" during an interview on the Dan Patrick Show.
"All the players in this league think they’re self-motivated and that’s a bunch of bull because there are only a handful that are self-motivated," Johnson said. "So you’ve got to motivate these players through some respect but the No. 1 motivator is fear. Fear of letting down your teammates, being embarrassed or fear of losing the job. Where is the fear in Dallas? There’s no fear in Dallas. It’s a country club where everybody is buddies."
Coach Jason Garrett has changed the climate at Valley Ranch sharply from how it was under Wade Phillips. Of course, Phillips changed the atmosphere from how it was under Bill Parcells.
Garrett was asked about Johnson’s comments.
"I don’t really have any comment on that," Garrett said. "We do things the way we do things here and from a football standpoint we believe we practice the right way, we meet the right way and create the right atmosphere of urgency for our players it’s what I learned as a player and coach in this league. And that’s what we’re trying to create with our football team."
And a players’ view, courtesy of Jason Witten:
“I didn’t hear about it, but obviously he’s a great coach here in this franchise and won a lot of Super Bowls,” Witten said. “I haven’t seen him around a lot. The guys are working hard. Ultimately (talk like Johnson’s) is going to happen, but I don’t think as a player you can worry about that. You’ve got to fix it. We know the expectations. Trust me, we feel it every day and so I don’t think you allow that (talk) to get in but obviously got a lot of respect for him.”
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was asked about Johnson’s comments Thursday.
"When you’re out here, when you’re involved in it, and you’re here every day, i think you understand the importance of each football game," Romo said. "All I can speak about is me, the grind and the way it works on you when you don’t win a football game, it’s just enormous. The way you constantly evaluate and think about how to improve and get better and take the next step. it consumes your thoughts. That’s really what happens after a loss, so I don’t know what anybody else feels or thinks, but that’s absolutely what you try to do to improve and get better."
Johnson has formed a good relationship with Garrett in terms of being a mentor. In the same interview with Patrick, Johnson questioned whether Garrett would remain the man in charge at Valley Ranch.
"Jason Garrett is probably coaching for his job for the rest of the year," Johnson said. "This game with Philadelphia on Fox may decide the future of coaches and players with those two teams."
Maybe Johnson was channeling Bob Arum, the boxing promoter who hypes fights. And with the Eagles and Cowboys at 3-5, the loser most likely will see their playoff hopes disappear. So creating media drama is expected.
The quarterback, Tony Romo, who’s got one year left on his deal, might also be on the way out according to Johnson.
"I would extend Tony Romo unless I had somebody better, and they don’t have anybody better," Johnson said.
EDITORS COMMENT: At The Boys Are Back blog we are always interested in your view. I agree with Jimmy Johnson on his point of most players needing motivation. Jason Garrett has had many influences in his career as a Dallas Cowboy player, offensive coordinator, and head coach. He uses a hybrid style that blends those influences (Tom Landry, Bill Parcells, Jimmy Johnson). Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells were more outwardly aggressive and verbally expressive on camera. Tom Landry more reserve publically, but privately critical and a strict disciplinarian. Jason Garrett’s style falls somewhere in the middle. He’s young and still figuring out his style and approach. As fans, we do not know what happens behind closed doors at Valley Ranch or in the locker room. We do know that the players seem to be behind him and appear to be buying into his system. When the day comes when they don’t … that’s the day to begin worrying. Jason Garrett is evolving … and like the Dallas Cowboys, he’s a work in progress.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones stops by practice, defends Garrett
Stephen Jones visited practice and ran into reporters, one of whom stopped him to get his thoughts on the topics of the day. Before long, everyone with a notepad and camera had surrounded the Cowboys’ executive vice president.
Is Jason Garrett coaching for his future?
“I won’t even comment on that. Period. That’s ridiculous,” Jones said.
Any comment on Jimmy Johnson saying there is a country-club atmosphere at Valley Ranch?
“Don’t have one.”
A comment or a country club?
“Don’t have one.”
“Any serious questions?”
What kind of job do you think Garrett is doing?
“First of all, I think Jason is incredibly smart. No one understands the game more,” Jones said. “He grew up at a breakfast table knowing about the NFL. His father was a coach. His father was a scout. He understands the league. He is a great leader. He leads our team in a great way.
“I think he understands the game. He has been a very success offensive coordinator. He started having success immediately. It wasn’t like there was a huge learning curve for him as a play caller. We have had a lot of great offenses here under Jason. We are moving the ball good this year for the most part. The players respect him. He demands accountability.”
Jones agreed that turnovers are a problem this year. The Cowboys have 19, tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for second-most in the NFL.
“We have to do better there. I think we are improving,” Jones said. “We protected the ball against the Falcons. They are a good football team. We are doing some things to cause turnovers. We are tipping balls. They just didn’t come our way. We were hitting the quarterback hard. The ball was on the ground. We just didn’t recover it.
Asked if the Cowboys were underachieving at 3-5, Jones said, “Absolutely. We had higher expectations than this. We are disappointed with our record. We have to play better. We have to finish.”
Jason Garrett answers questions from the Dallas media about Monday night’s loss to the Chicago Bears, and the upcoming bye week.
“The first interception was a miscommunication with our quarterback and our receiver not seeing the leverage in the coverage of the corner the same way. Tony thought Dez was going to run a hitch, Dez saw it as press coverage and he adjusted and went deep around the corner, and Tony had to cut the ball loose. There was pressure by them, and they just didn’t see it the same way and that resulted in that interception.”
“The second interception was to Ogletree. We were down in the red zone, moved the ball down in there. What they do on defense is they, you have to be really efficient throwing the football underneath them over and over again, and they are going to contest some plays. And it was a contested throw to Kevin and the ball got in on him and the ball bounced up off of him. Hard to tell if the defender got his hand in or not, but that was a scoring opportunity for us that they created a turnover on.”
“The third one, Tony climbed the pocket against some pressure and was really just trying to get up in the pocket versus some edge rush and he climbed up in there and as he was pushing the ball up, the ball got knocked out and Briggs intercepted and ran it back for a touchdown. So if you look at those three plays, two of them directly resulted in touchdowns for 14 points. The other was in the red zone, which we assumed was going to be at least three points, possibly seven points. Those three plays, it was a 21-point swing for us, against us for them.
At the end of the ball game we were down three scores and Tony was aggressive throwing the football down the field trying to make a play, and I think that was the cause for the last three interceptions.
IRVING, Texas – One of the more common phrases any coach or player will say after a ballgame when asked about a specific play is “I’ll have to go watch the tape.” Sometimes what we think we saw at first glimpse is different after the coaches and players review the game film the next day or later that night.
On Monday, after Tony Romo threw five interceptions and had two returned for touchdowns, coach Jason Garrett said he wanted to get a better look before commenting on any of the plays.
On Tuesday, he went through the five turnovers with his best explanation.
“I think we saw the same things on tape that we all saw last night,” Garrett said in his Tuesday afternoon press conference. Here is Garrett’s specific breakdown of the turnovers.
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys enter their home contest against the Chicago Bears with an opportunity to remain in first place in the NFC East on "Monday Night Football."
The series: The Cowboys lead the all-time series 13-9 and have won two of the last three meetings. This will be just the fourth meeting between the teams in the last 14 seasons. At one point, the Cowboys had defeated the Bears in six consecutive games from 1973-84.
It’s Monday night: The Cowboys are making their 74th appearance on "Monday Night Football," second most in league history. Miami has made the most appearance with 78. The Cowboys lead the NFL with 43 MNF victories. The Bears and Cowboys have met only once on "Monday Night Football" with the Bears winning 22-6 on Sept. 2, 1996. With Lovie Smith as the coach, the Bears are 7-2 on Monday nights, including winning five of the last six contests.
Spencer and Forte status: Cowboys outside linebacker Anthony Spencer is listed as questionable with a pectoral muscle injury. He is a game-time decision. If he plays, Spencer will wear a harness. Spencer is second on the team with two sacks and leads with nine quarterback pressures. Matt Forte, the Bears’ starting running back, is questionable with an ankle injury. Forte was limited all week in practice. Forte has rushed for just 111 yards on 23 carries this season. Expect both players to participate on Monday night.
Cowboys offense struggling: After scoring 24 points in the season-opening victory against the New York Giants, the Cowboys have totaled just 23 points the last two weeks. You can point to any number of reasons for the struggles, from lack of a running game to an inconsistent offensive line to the playmakers — Dez Bryant and Miles Austin mainly — not getting enough touches.
Carr vs. Marshall: In the last two games against the Cowboys, Brandon Marshall has nine catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns. But Brandon Carr wasn’t defending him. Carr is a big cornerback who can use his power to redirect receivers off their routes. It should be a good one-on-one matchup between the two players. Jay Cutler was questioned about targeting Marshall too much this season. Is it too much?
Bears pass rush is deadly: The Bears lead the NFL with 14 sacks, with 10.5 of the sacks coming from the front four. The Bears don’t blitz a lot, instead asking the front four of Israel Idonije, Henry Melton, Stephen Paea and Julius Peppers to bring the pressure. The Cowboys’ offensive line has allowed seven sacks this season, including four last week in the victory over Tampa Bay. The Cowboys’ front has struggled, with tackles Doug Free and Tyron Smith combining for 12 penalties.
Where is Witten? Jason Witten, who leads the NFL with five drops, says he’s healthy and doesn’t make any excuses for his slow start. Tony Romo’s favorite target is going through a tough stretch right now. Is this the start of a decline for Witten or just a bad stretch?
Where is Urlacher? Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher has no tackles for loss and, based on the coaches’ stats, is tied for the team lead with 21 total tackles. Some believe Urlacher is on the decline, but this is a game where he needs to establish himself as a force.
With the eye of an art history major, Steve Sabol filmed the NFL as a ballet and blockbuster movie all in one.
Half of the father-son team that revolutionized sports broadcasting, the NFL Films president died Tuesday of brain cancer at age 69 in Moorestown, N.J. He leaves behind a league bigger than ever, its fans enthralled by the plot twists and characters he so deftly chronicled.
“It is with tremendous sadness that we learned of the legendary Steve Sabol’s passing," FOX Sports Media Group chairman David Hill said. "He was a terrific man and a skilled and talented artist. Steve and his father Ed built NFL Films from nothing and were pioneers in sports television and filmmaking, and after taking the reins from his father, Steve put his own stamp on NFL Films, and its ability to capture football’s nuance and subtlety. When we started FOX Sports, no one was more helpful than Steve, and in a short time he became a great, great friend. He was always there to listen to one of my idiotic ideas. Nothing was ever too much trouble for Steve, and no one, absolutely no one, could rock a pink shirt while talking about the NFL as well as Steve. He was greatly respected and will be missed by everyone at FOX and the entire NFL community.”
Sabol was diagnosed with a tumor on the left side of his brain after being hospitalized for a seizure in March 2011.
”Steve Sabol was the creative genius behind the remarkable work of NFL Films,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement from the league confirming Sabol’s death. ”Steve’s passion for football was matched by his incredible talent and energy. Steve’s legacy will be part of the NFL forever. He was a major contributor to the success of the NFL, a man who changed the way we look at football and sports, and a great friend.”
When Ed Sabol founded NFL Films, his son was there working beside him as a cinematographer right from the start in 1964. They introduced a series of innovations taken for granted today, from super slow-motion replays to blooper reels to sticking microphones on coaches and players. And they hired the ”Voice of God,” John Facenda, to read lyrical descriptions in solemn tones.
Until he landed the rights to chronicle the 1962 NFL championship game, Ed Sabol’s only experience filming sports was recording the action at Steve’s high school football games in Philadelphia.
”We see the game as art as much as sport,” Steve Sabol told The Associated Press before his father was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year. ”That helped us nurture not only the game’s traditions but to develop its mythology: America’s Team, The Catch, The Frozen Tundra.”
The two were honored with the Lifetime Achievement Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2003. In his career, Steve Sabol won 35 Emmys for writing, cinematography, editing, directing and producing – no one else had ever earned that many in as many different categories.
”Steve Sabol leaves a lasting impact on the National Football League that will be felt for a long time to come,” NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said. ”His vision and innovation helped make him a pioneer the likes of which the NFL has never seen before and won’t see again.”
He was the perfect fit for the job: an all-Rocky Mountain Conference running back at Colorado College majoring in art history. It was Sabol who later wrote of the Raiders, ”The autumn wind is a pirate, blustering in from sea,” words immortalized by Facenda.
The Sabols’ advances included everything from reverse angle replays to filming pregame locker room speeches to setting highlights to pop music.
”Today of course those techniques are so common it’s hard to imagine just how radical they once were,” Steve told the AP last year. ”Believe me, it wasn’t always easy getting people to accept them, but I think it was worth the effort.”
His efforts extended beyond his work as a producer, including appearances on screen and in public to promote NFL Films’ mission.
An accomplished collage artist, Sabol exhibited at the ArtExpo in New York, the Avant Gallery in Miami, the Govinda Gallery in Washington, the Milan Gallery in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Garth Davidson Gallery in Moorestown, N.J.
”Steve was a legend in this business – a dynamic, innovative leader who made NFL Films the creative force it is today,” ESPN President John Skipper said. ”The work he and his dedicated and talented team create every day is one of the many reasons why so many more fans love the game of football today.”
Sabol is survived by his wife, Penny; his son, Casey; his parents, Audrey and Ed; and his sister, Blair. The NFL said there would be a private funeral.
RELATED POSTS: STEVE SABOL: 1942-2012
We are honored to link to an excerpt from "Ed Sabol’s Last Football Movie" (courtesy of NFL.com), the ultimate illustration of the master’s vision and passion for the game.
Sabol leaves lasting legacy – FOX Sports – Photographs – Through the Years – 9 images
Remembering Steve Sabol – Rich Eisen of the NFL Network
There’s no questioning Jason Witten’s toughness. Along with playing through a broken jaw and a broken rib, the Dallas Cowboys tight end has ran halfway down the field during a game without a helmet on.
So it probably doesn’t surprise anyone in the Cowboys organization that Witten, who is recovering from a lacerated spleen, wants to play Wednesday night against the New York Giants so badly that he’s willing to sign a waiver to do so.
According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, Witten has informed the team he is willing to sign a medical waiver that would not hold the Cowboys or team doctors liable in case he re-injured his spleen Wednesday night.
Mortensen added that the Cowboys will not accept any waiver as a path to Witten playing in the game.
Witten, who hasn’t missed a game since his rookie season in 2003, is listed as doubtful on the official injury report.
Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Tuesday that the team was waiting for the results of a CAT scan. However, even without those results, Jones said Witten had already been cleared to play against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2.
“I don’t want to be overly optimistic but if you went by the way he’s worked, the work he’s got in, how he feels, then you’d give him a go [against the Giants],” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan’s New School show. “Until you had things such as CAT Scans, which we have and we should use them, players I’m sure played with this degree of spleen injury a lot because all of the signs were on go. I think we’ll look at that, we’ll look for the improvement and then we’ll go by the doctor’s opinion.”
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant’s availability for Monday night’s preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders is in jeopardy after the third-year pro suffered a hamstring strain Saturday, ESPN Dallas reported.
The Cowboys don’t have a great deal of depth at receiver and will be without No. 1 wideout Miles Austin, who has been sidelined by a hamstring injury of his own.
With four preseason games in a 16-day span, and the regular-season opener against the New York Giants coming up in just 3½ weeks, the Cowboys are unlikely to push Bryant to play a dozen or so snaps in the preseason opener.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones admitted as much Saturday.
"This early in camp, we’re not going to push hamstrings," Jones said. "That’s just the policy, and this is exactly why we have the policy. When a player gets a little tightness, then we will be very conservative. The word is conservative, how much he pushes it, and there wasn’t any need of him to go through the last drill. And that may be the extent of the precaution."
Courtesy: Brian McIntyre
RELATED: Dez Bryant part of walk-through
One day after leaving practice with a left hamstring strain, Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant worked with the starters during Sunday’s walk-through and will be a game-time decision for Monday night’s preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders.
The Cowboys will determine whether Bryant will play after he warms up before the game.
Bryant’s left hamstring tightened during the middle of team drills Saturday, but he said he was "fine" as he walked off the field.
Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Saturday if there was any "sensitivity" to further injury then Bryant would not play against the Raiders.
"At this juncture, I don’t have anything to be concerned about," Jones said Saturday.
The Cowboys already are without wide receiver Miles Austin, who also has a hamstring strain.
Kevin Ogletree, who is subbing for Austin, and Dwayne Harris worked as the starting receivers to close Saturday’s practice.
"This early in camp we’re not going to push hamstrings," Jones said. "That’s just the policy, and this is exactly why we have the policy. When a player gets a little tightness, then we will be very conservative. The word is conservative, how much he pushes it, and there wasn’t any need of him to go through the last drill. And that may be the extent of the precaution."
Austin has not practiced in a week because of his strain. He missed six games last season with two hamstring injuries, and the Cowboys will be cautious given his history with the injury.
Courtesy: Todd Archer and Calvin Watkins | ESPN Dallas
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The Oakland Raiders host the Dallas Cowboys on ESPN’s Monday Night Football
A NEW ERA OF EXCELLENCE: The Raiders enter the 2012 season under new leadership for the first time in nearly five decades. Owner Mark Davis named Reggie McKenzie the team’s General Manager on Jan. 10, making McKenzie the first person to hold the GM title since Al Davis was named Head Coach and General Manager in 1963. McKenzie named Denver defensive coordinator Dennis Allen head coach on Jan. 30.
TRAINING CAMP 2012: The Raiders checked into training camp at the Napa Valley Marriott on July 29. This marks the organization’s 17th year of training in the Napa Valley. The team will conduct all of its day-to-day football operations in Napa until the team returns to its permanent Alameda facility after the third preseason game.
FAMILIAR FOE: Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys have squared off only 10 times in the regular season, but the two teams have played 27 times in the preseason, with the Silver and Black holding an 18-9 all-time advantage in a series that dates back to 1972. This week’s matchup marks the third time in four seasons that the two teams have met in the preseason and the first time in Oakland since a 31-10 Raider victory in the 2009 preseason opener. The Raiders lead the all-time regular season series, 6-4, with the teams last squaring off on Thanksgiving Day 2009 in Dallas, a 24-7 Cowboys victory.
EXTENDING THE SERIES: The Raiders and Cowboys have squared off 27 times in the preseason, making Dallas the second-most common preseason opponent for Oakland. The Silver and Black’s most familiar opponent is the San Francisco 49ers, with the two teams having played 39 times in the preseason. The Raiders and Cowboys played a preseason contest in Oakland in 2009, ending a five-year hiatus, and most recently faced off in Dallas in 2010.
OXNARD TIES: The Cowboys are no stranger to California during the summer months, as Dallas hosted training camp in Thousand Oaks from 1963-89. The Cowboys returned to Southern California in 2001, training in Oxnard, Calif. The Raiders’ training camp site was also in Oxnard from 1985-95 after moving from the El Rancho Tropicana Hotel in Santa Rosa,
Calif. The Raiders moved training camp to Napa, Calif., in 1996, a year after the franchise returned to Oakland.
NOTABLE CONNECTIONS: RB Darren McFadden and Cowboys RB Felix Jones occupied the same backfield at the University of Arkansas … CB Bryan McCann played for the Cowboys from 2010-11 before signing with the Raiders … S Michael Huff is from Irving, Texas … Cowboys’ recently-signed OL Dan Loper played for the Raiders in 2010 … RB Lonyae Miller played four games for the Cowboys in 2010 … LS Jon Condo played for Dallas in 2005 … Special teams coordinator Steve Hoff man spent 16 seasons (1989-04) as kicking coach with Dallas … Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan served as defensive coordinator for the Raiders from 2004-08 … Cowboys’ offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Callahan was an assistant coach for the Silver and Black from 1998-01 and served as head coach from 2002-03 … Cowboys running backs coach Skip Peete was an assistant coach for the Raiders from 1998-06 … Former Raiders QB Wade Wilson is the Cowboys’ quarterbacks coach … Tight ends coach Mark Hutson was a Cowboys’ third-round draft pick in 1988.
• at Oak. 19, Dal. 13 (Oct. 2, 2005): The Raiders posted the organization’s third straight win in the regular season series against the Cowboys in front of 62,400 fans in Oakland. K Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals, including two from 40-plus yards, and RB LaMont Jordan rushed for 126 yards and one touchdown to lead the Raiders.
• Oak. 13, at Dal. 12 (Sept. 27, 1998): QB Jeff George and WR James Jett connected on a 75-yard touchdown strike and the Raiders held off a late charge to edge the Cowboys by one point. A fourth-quarter Cowboy touchdown brought Dallas within three points, and Oakland P Leo Araguz ran out of the back of the end zone to give Dallas a safety but preserve a one-point lead that would ultimately hold up.
• at Oak. 27, Dal. 23 (Dec. 14, 1974): QBs Ken Stabler and George Blanda combined to throw three touchdown passes and the Raiders posted a 27-23 victory in the first meeting between the two teams. The win capped a 12-2 regular season for the Raiders that culminated in an AFC Championship-game appearance.
WINNING WAYS: The Raiders and Cowboys are among the elite teams in the NFL, with both ranking among the top-four since 1963 in winning percentage. The Dallas Cowboys top the chart with a .591 regular season winning percentage, while the Raiders rank fourth with a .567 percentage since Al Davis was named head coach and general manager in 1963.
HEYWARD-BEY REPLAY: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey recorded his first career TD reception the last time the Raiders faced the Cowboys in a regular-season tilt. On Thanksgiving Day 2009 at Cowboys Stadium, the rookie hauled in a 4-yard pass from Bruce Gradkowski, the Raiders’ only score.
PLAYOFF PEDIGREE: The Raiders’ 2012 training camp rosters includes 15 players that have earned postseason experience during their respective careers. Seven players have combined to be a part of 10 Super Bowl squads and have claimed seven championships.
The Boys Are Back special feature – DEFENSIVE SPOTLIGHT: Rob Ryan pumps up Cowboys D. But unlike last year, defense may have personnel to support coordinator’s boasts
IRVING, Texas — Rob Ryan readily admits to a lot of wrongdoing during his first season as the Dallas Cowboys‘ defensive coordinator.
He fesses up to throwing too much too fast at his players. He fell on the sword for several play calls. He even accepted the entire blame for a blowout loss in Philadelphia, calling himself out for providing additional motivational fodder for the "all-hype" Eagles with his mouth and putting together a terrible game plan.
PHOTO: Matthew Emmons/US Presswire Rob Ryan boasted about the Cowboys’ defense last season, but the unit finished 16th in points allowed.
But Ryan has no regrets about the biggest mistake he made last season. In fact, he still doesn’t consider boasting about having the best defensive talent in the NFL to be a mistake.
That doesn’t mean he necessarily believed the bull that kept spewing from his big mouth. Ryan had reason to embellish the praise of his players after arriving at Valley Ranch.
"Those guys had been beaten down so much that, in my opinion, I don’t think they had the confidence to go forward," Ryan said.
That’s a pretty pathetic statement about a bunch of professional football players. But it should seem a reasonable assessment to anyone who watched that defense quit on Wade Phillips en route to allowing the most points in franchise history the previous season.
Nevertheless, Ryan pumped up expectations while inflating fragile egos with all his brash boasting. That made him an easy target — please resist size jokes for a man who has dropped more than 50 pounds the past few months — when the Dallas defense fell well short of his preseason predictions that it’d be the best in the league.
DeMarcus Ware joins SportsCenter to discuss if the Cowboys’ window to win a Super Bowl is closing, what they learned from last season, drafting defensive players with their first four picks in 2012 and playing in a tough NFC East.
You wonder why we have an ESPNDallas.com and an ESPNNewYork.com? This is part of the reason why. The Cowboys remain the most popular team in the NFL in spite of two straight non-winning seasons, not having won the Super Bowl in 16 years and only having won two playoff games in that time. That star still means something to a lot of people.
The Giants play in the New York market, which is home to many millions of people, and so they’re drawing from a vast reservoir. However, the Jets came in 19th in this poll, which tells you (a) that the Giants just won the Super Bowl, and (b) that the Giants are the No. 1 team in the market by a fair margin.
The Eagles also have a large and passionate fan base, but I believe a lot of their popularity is built on (a) consistently contending for and reaching the playoffs during the Andy Reid era, and (b) Michael Vick, who is one of the league’s most popular players.
It might be a hopeful time for Redskins fans, but sheesh, look at the damage done by the Daniel Snyder era. There’s no way, if you took this poll in the mid-1990s, that they wouldn’t have been among the top teams in it. There are no fans anywhere as loyal and passionate as Redskins fans, but the mediocrity of the past decade and a half has really robbed them of their national following. Note: ESPN Sports Polls contacts Americans year-round via land line and cell phones in English and Spanish, reaching 390,000 Americans since 1994.
Puff out your chests, NFC East fans, because you have the most popular division in football. According to the first quarter 2012 ESPN Sports Poll of fans’ favorite teams, three of the top nine play in the NFC East. Here are the top 15 teams in popularity according to the poll, sorted by percentage of respondents who identified that team as their favorite:
1. Dallas Cowboys: 8.8
2. Green Bay Packers: 7.2
3. New York Giants: 7.1
4. Pittsburgh Steelers: 7.1
5. New England Patriots: 6.8
6. Chicago Bears: 4.2
7. New Orleans Saints: 4.1
8. San Francisco 49ers: 4.0
9. Philadelphia Eagles: 3.9
10. Denver Broncos: 3.8
11. Indianapolis Colts: 2.8
12. Oakland Raiders: 2.5
13. Washington Redskins: 2.4
14. Minnesota Vikings: 2.2
15. Detroit Lions: 2.2
"Hell No, That’s inaccurate!", says Dallas Cowboys brass on report that team has talked about trading Felix Jones
This being season of misinformation, rumor and innuendo means that every thing reported these days should be looked at with a crossed eye.
That being said, an ESPN note today regarding the possibility of the Cowboys getting rid of running back Felix Jones if they drafted a running back _ powered by the fact that they supposedly even had internal discussions about trading him _ caused me to run the info up the flag pole at the team’s Valley Ranch training complex.
From the scouting department to the front office, the texts came back "no", "not at all" to "Hell No! Totally Inaccurate."
The latter came from the front office.
Again, this is season of misinformation. So believe what you want, though its hard to see Felix Jones not being on the team in 2012.
RELATED: Cowboys deny shopping RB Felix Jones
In 2010, the Dallas Cowboys’ leading rushers were Felix Jones (800 yards), Marion Barber (374) and Tashard Choice (243). Choice is off the roster, Barber’s out of football and Jones’ future in Dallas is anything but certain.
Coach Jason Garrett has referred to the 24-year-old Jones as a "complementary" piece in the backfield, according to ESPN.com, which reported that Dallas spoke internally about trading the four-year veteran.
When the Fort Worth Star-Telegram texted the Cowboys to ask about the report, a flurry of texts came back from various sources declaring "no," "not at all," and "Hell No! Totally Inaccurate." (This final, emphatic text came straight from the front office, according to the newspaper.)
ESPN included Jones on a hot list of five Cowboys — along with Kenyon Coleman, Marcus Spears, Phil Costa and Kevin Ogletree — who might be shown the door depending on where Dallas goes in the draft.
DeMarco Murray’s 897 yards in just seven starts all but sealed Jones’ fate as a starter last season.
Murray’s debut — 25 rushes for 253 yards against the St. Louis Rams in Week 6 — moved Dallas from 29th to 13th in the league in rushing — in one game. Owner Jerry Jones gushed over the rookie and a fair amount of time was spent debating who should take the majority of the carries in Dallas — a debate that continues, according to the team.
OFFSEASON SPOTLIGHT: New Dallas Cowboy Brandon Carr working out at left cornerback | Preparing for Rob Ryan’s defensive scheme
From the moment he signed a five-year, $50.1 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys, cornerback Brandon Carr’s exact placement in the secondary was uncertain.
At the NFL owners meetings last week, Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett said Carr can play both left and right cornerback but no final determination was made regarding his spot on the defense.
Well, Carr told ESPN Dallas he’s working out at left cornerback in anticipation of being there when the season opens Sept. 5 at the New York Giants.
Carr played the last two seasons at right cornerback for the Kansas City Chiefs, but also lined up on the left side and the slot. The Cowboys’ right corner is Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick is the slot corner.
"If you want to be an elite corner you have to play both sides of the field," Carr said last week after a tour of the ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn. "And you have to challenge yourself and play outside your comfort zone and play the left or the right, play in the slot or play wherever is needed. That’s why this offseason I got [to] adjust to both sides of the field, so come September 5 I can play on both sides and be comfortable. I’ve been pushing myself out of my comfort zone and playing on my left side."
Of course, Carr has met defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and was impressed with the man, who enters his second season with the Cowboys.
"I can tell he’s comfortable with who he is," Carr said. "He doesn’t sugar coat anything, he keeps it real. That’s what you ask for in a coach, defensive coordinator, just from what I know his scheme is everything a defender would want to play in."
Could former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells be returning to the sidelines?
If it’s up to Sean Payton, that could happen this year for the New Orleans Saints.
Payton, who was recently suspended for the entire 2012 season after his involvement in the Saints’ bounty scandal, wants Parcells to fill in for him during his year-long suspension, according to a report by ESPN’s Chris Mortenson.
The report states that Payton and Parcells have "spoken numerous times" since Payton’s suspension was announced. Payton was Parcells’ quarterback coach during Parcells’ head coaching tenure in Dallas from 2003-2006. He won two Super Bowls as head coach of the New York Giants.
Bill Parcells says the Saints haven’t contacted him about possibly coaching the team. Parcells did say, however, that Payton has spoken to him about how to handle the season.
The Saints have yet to announce their future coaching plans. Payton’s agent said Monday “no decisions have been made about an appeal.”
Donald Yee says Payton “fully supports the league’s player safety goals” and that Payton “probably won’t address the entire league” Tuesday when he arrives at the NFL owners meetings.
When Parcells was asked if anyone in the Saints organization had talked to him about coaching the team in 2012, he said “No,” prior to the New York Mets spring training game Monday against St. Louis.
The Cowboys and Saints will meet this season. Dates and times are yet to be determined.
ESPN Dallas’ five-part series on things that went wrong for the Dallas Cowboys in 2011.
No. 5. DeMarco Murray breaks his ankle
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray suffered a broken ankle vs. the Giants on Dec. 11, and the Cowboys missed him greatly down the stretch.
Murray transformed the Cowboys’ season in many ways because he brought a balance to Jason Garrett’s play calling. He was the workhorse, getting at least 20 carries in five games of a seven-game span.
Murray suffered the injury on Dec. 11 against the New York Giants when defensive end Dave Tollefsen landed on Murray while making a tackle.
Without Murray, the Cowboys had to rely on Felix Jones to be the main running back. He did a decent job, but he suffered a hamstring strain at Tampa Bay in which he had his first set of back-to-back 20-carry games.
Many will point to Murray’s franchise-record 239-yard outing against St. Louis as his best game, but it actually might have been his 73-yard game at Washington on 25 tough carries where he proved his mettle.
Jones is just not built to be an every-down back. Murray, whose rehab is on schedule following surgery, is.
The Cowboys missed the rookie greatly down the stretch
No. 4: Mediocrity from Rob Ryan’s defense
AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Rob Ryan’s unit ranked 14th in total defense and 16th in scoring defense, but the blame should fall on the players — and not entirely on Ryan as he asks it to be.
PODCAST: Coop and Nate rank the Cowboys’ needs on defense. Listen (Link available for limited time)
Rob Ryan promised greatness from a defense he declared had the most talent in the NFL.
He delivered mediocrity with a unit that needs to be upgraded at several spots next season.
The Dallas defense was average as a whole — 14th in total defense (343.2 yards per game) and 16th in scoring defense (21.7 points) — and dreadful when it mattered most. The New York Giants averaged 34 points and 473.5 yards in two wins over the Cowboys that determined the NFC East title.
Ryan often enabled his players by insisting that all the blame should be placed on his wide shoulders. There were some grumbles that his three-thick-playbook scheme was too complicated, causing mass confusion and leading him to simplify game plans in the final few weeks.
Of course, Wade Phillips’ scheme was supposedly too simple and predictable, but it worked pretty well this season for the Houston Texans’ second-ranked defense. At some point, the blame needs to be pinned on the players.
Ryan seemed to realize that in the last couple of weeks, particularly during an angry halftime rant after Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles marched 87 yards in 50 seconds for a touchdown, prompting him to rip the players for poorly executing a good game plan.
Several defensive starters will be gone next season, starting with longtime left cornerback Terence Newman, a two-time Pro Bowler who was terrible down the stretch. Ryan will return, barring the surprising development of a team wanting him to become its head coach after under-delivering so badly in Dallas.
No. 3: Losing five fourth-quarter leads
It’s amazing when you think about how this Cowboys season started — a 27-24 loss to the New York Jets, and how it would set the tone for 2011. When the season was over, the Cowboys suffered eight total losses, but five came when they blew fourth-quarter leads.
Quarterback Tony Romo cost the team two games with fourth-quarter turnovers vs. the Jets. His interceptions helped the Detroit Lions rally from a 24-point deficit.
Rob Ryan’s defense failed to contain Tom Brady and the Patriots, and the loss to the Arizona Cardinals might have been the worst.
Driving for a potential game-winning field goal, coach Jason Garrett mismanaged the game-clock and — in a roundabout way — iced his own kicker, Dan Bailey, by calling a timeout in the closing seconds of the play clock. Bailey would miss a 49-yarder, and Arizona went on to win, 19-13, in overtime.
Said outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware about that loss: "You just had a loss, [so] what are you going to do about it? The good teams, they come back from a tough loss like that and you really see the true team spirit and how teams come back from adversity. That really tells you the type of character we have on this team. We’re going to see that this week."
So what happened the following week? Against the New York Giants — with a chance to put a stranglehold on the NFC East — the Cowboys took a 34-22 lead with 5:41 left in the fourth quarter and went on to lose, 37-34.
At worse, if Dallas defeated Arizona, the odds of a getting wild-card berth and a division title would’ve been greater. But the loss all but kept Dallas out of the wild-card chase and put them in a winner-take-all game against the Giants in the regular-season finale.
When the season was over, Ware found out what type of team he’s playing on: One that doesn’t finish games.
No. 2: Jason Garrett’s clock management at Arizona
The Cowboys had a number of difficult losses in 2011 but the hardest to explain will be the 19-13 overtime defeat at Arizona on Dec. 4.
It was like every game the Cowboys play at University of Phoenix Stadium in some respects because of the strangeness, but this one might have been stranger than the 2008 overtime loss in which the Cowboys lost on a blocked punt for a touchdown and the 2010 loss that was triggered by a missed point after attempt.
This one fell on the shoulders of Jason Garrett.
The Cowboys were driving for a game-winning field goal attempt, like they had done a few times earlier in the season against San Francisco, Washington (twice) and Miami.
A 15-yard completion on third down to Dez Bryant put the Cowboys at the Arizona 31 with 24 seconds to play, however, Garrett chose not to use one of his two timeouts to give the offense the chance to move deeper into Cardinals’ territory for a shorter field goal try.
Tony Romo spiked the ball with seven seconds to play to set up a game-winning try by Dan Bailey from 49 yards. Bailey’s first attempt was good, but Garrett called a timeout because he and special teams coach Joe DeCamillis and assistant Chris Boniol felt the play clock was running low.
Bailey’s second attempt was short and to the left, forcing the game into overtime.
The Cowboys would not get the ball again with LaRod Stephens-Howling scoring on a 52-yard screen pass.
Garrett stood by the decision publicly but in private apologized to the team for the error.
No. 1: The offensive line struggled
Looking back it was too much to ask of the Dallas Cowboys offensive line. Protect Tony Romo with three players who never started a NFL game and two rookies. Just too much.
The Cowboys offensive line battled through injuries and ineffective play for most of the 2011 season. Left tackle Doug Free moved from the right side to the left in 2011 and was credited with 10 sacks allowed, including six the last four weeks of the season. Free didn’t display the strength and athletic ability needed on a consistent basis to contain speedy pass rush ends.
The middle of the Cowboys line had troubles as well. It started when guard Bill Nagy went on injured reserve in October with a fractured ankle, backup Derrick Dockery suffered a knee injury that kept him out for weeks and Montrae Holland returned to the team after getting cut in training camp due to a back and weight issues.
Kyle Kosier, the starting right guard, battled a foot injury the bulk of the season.
If the Cowboys had made the postseason, Holland (biceps) and Kosier (knee) would be lost due to injuries.
Center Phil Costa had some snap issues and didn’t play with a lot of power at times. The team does like Kevin Kowalski and might give him a chance to start next season.
Tyron Smith, the right tackle, was the bright spot. But he had some issues at times dealing with athletic defensive ends, but Smith has tremendous upside and could move to left tackle next season.
The Cowboys made several moves after the lockout, cutting veterans Andre Gurode, Marc Colombo and Leonard Davis, for younger players. And while the Cowboys knew it would have growing pains, the offensive line should have performed better.
With more than 200,000 votes in our take ’em or trash ’em feature, our readers consider two rookies the most valuable members of the franchise.
Running back DeMarco Murray and linebacker Sean Lee are the only players to have a 99 percent approval rating from you.
The top keepers:
1. Murray 99%
1. Lee 99%
2. Jason Witten 98%
2. Laurent Robinson 98%
2. Tyron Smith 98 %
2. DeMarcus Ware 98%
2. Dan Bailey 98%
Other notable keepers: Tony Romo 91%, Dez Bryant 97%.
Top of the trash heap:
1. Terence Newman 97%
1. Chauncey Washington 97%
2. Frank Walker 94%
3. David Buehler 93%
4. Keith Brooking 92%
5. Jon Kitna 91%
You can still vote who to keep and trash here.
Courtesy: ESPN Dallas
Dallas Cowboys legendary Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith discussed the Cowboys’ mental toughness during an ESPN interview. Afterwards, Tony Romo said the team has proven its mental toughness more than once this season.
"We had a big game at San Francisco earlier in the year," Romo said. "It felt like a must-win at that time, and we went out there and laid it on the line, and the team won, and we were trailing late in that game. So there was a lot of mental toughness in that game. I think we went up to Washington in a game that was big for us there and showed a lot of mental toughness there. This football team just has a way of keep coming back and keep grinding. Obviously, it comes down to a game like this. That’s why you play sports. That’s why you play this game, is to be involved in games that can allow you to keep going on and playing. I know it’s fun for us to prepare for a game like this."
The Cowboys have had fourth-quarter leads in five of their seven losses. That includes double-digit, fourth-quarter leads against the Jets, the Lions and the Giants.
Smith points to those close games as reasons for questioning mental toughness.
"Talent-wise, I think they have it," Smith said in an ESPN interview. "Leadership-wise, they have some good leaders on the ball club. Do they have enough? Probably not. Can they go up to New York and be mentally tough in this situation? I think Jason [Garrett] has done a very good job of preparing the guys to be physically and hopefully mentally tough, but I think mental toughness is the thing needed in games like this.
"Mental toughness for four quarters or five quarters, if you have to go that far. But that’s something our Cowboys have not been able to do in close games. And that’s where mental toughness comes into play."
In the ESPN Sunday studio there was plenty of critism of Jason Garrett’s handling of the final minute of regulation in last week’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals and his subsequent unwillingness to claim blame.
Bill Parcells: "You have to be accountable. Everybody knows what happened. You have to stand up. You have to reiterate to them, ‘Listen, I made a mistake. This is a game that’s not without human error. But this situation goes back to situational football. You have to prepare for it in the summer. Go over these kinds of things repeatedly during summer and then on Fridays, periodically during the season, you have to take time to review them."
Herman Edwards: "When this situation occurs and the game is lost, as the head coach, you don’t wait until the middle of the week. When the game is over, as soon as it is over, you come to the locker room and you gather your football team together and you tell them this: ‘Look, I hold you guys accountable to play and preparation during the course of the week. I hold myself accountable as to what happened today. I didn’t manage the clock correctly. I screwed it up. It was all me.’ Then you go through the process of what you were thinking and why it happened…You want to hit it right after the game. That let’s your team know, I’m accountable to you guys as well as you guys are accountable to me."
Mike Ditka: "You can’t undo what happened. You’ve got to go to your football team, you’ve got to tell them very simply, ‘My bad. Here’s what I’m going to do from now on guys. I’m going to trust you because you are the players on the field. I’m going to put you in the best position I can for you to play your best football. I’m going to trust you to win the football game because players win football games.’"
Jimmy Johnson rips Jason Garrett’s timeout technique
The old Cowboys coach thinks his former backup QB isn’t on top of the timeout game. Of course, Johnson thinks Garrett shouldn’t be calling the plays AND managing the game. Johnson thinks he did it better, Here’s what JJ had to say on Sunday’s Fox pre-game show:
"Last Sunday I wanted to scream at the end of the Arizona-Dallas game because the hard work put in by all those players was for naught because of a split-second screw up at the end.
"I would have thought the Cowboys rectified their timeout issues, it was just three weeks ago when Romo called a timeout he didn’t have only to be saved when Washington’s Mike Shanahan called one first. When I coached, I managed the clock and every game situation.
"I coached two great quarterbacks, Troy Aikman and Dan Marino, but I never allowed them to call a timeout unless it was an emergency and preferably when they were looking at me. The biggest deficiency in a lot of head coaches – I’d say more than half the league – is their faulty use of situational football, clock management and the use of timeouts. Believe me, a screw up like that could cost the Cowboys a playoff berth."