IT’S PAYDAY FOR DANNY MCCRAY: Now former Dallas Cowboys special teams ace signs one-year deal with Bears
IRVING, Texas – Former Dallas Cowboys safety and special teams ace Danny McCray has agreed to a deal with the Chicago Bears.
McCray was an unrestricted free agent this year after being with the Cowboys since 2010. McCray and Barry Church both made the team as undrafted safeties that season, and McCray would go on to be one of the Dallas Cowboys top special teams stars.
He’ll rejoin former Cowboys special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis in Chicago. DeCamillis quickly had an affinity for McCray after watching the safety’s special teams abilities at LSU and seeing them translate to the field in Dallas.
McCray didn’t waste any time demonstrating his skills as a special teams player with the Cowboys. He finished his rookie season with a team-high 28 tackles on special teams, which marked the third-most in a season for the Dallas Cowboys since the club began recording special teams tackles in 1988.
He also led the Cowboys in special teams tackles with 19 in 2011. McCray’s the first player since Bill Bates in 1989-90 to lead the Cowboys in special teams tackles in consecutive years.
McCray still managed to finish second on the team with 18 special teams stops in 2012, despite his increased role as a safety after Church went out for the season with an Achilles injury. McCray started the first and only 10 games of his career in 2012, notching 87 tackles and an interception.
His production lessened in 2013, particularly with the rise of Dwayne Harris as both a returner and cover player, along with Jeff Heath’s emergence on special teams. Heath led the team with 13 total special teams tackles, while Harris, Cameron Lawrence and Kyle Bosworth each had 12.
What could go wrong did go wrong for the Dallas Cowboys’ special teams on Friday night. They had 26-yard field goal blocked. They had a personal foul penalty on punt coverage. They allowed 103 yards on three kickoff returns, including a 51-yarder that almost went for a touchdown. They fumbled a punt return.
“We had a field goal blocked, and we had a turnover in the red zone, fumbled a punt,” new special teams coach Rich Bisaccia said. “Obviously, we didn’t play very well.
“I did a poor job, obviously. We did a poor job. We didn’t cover very good. Turned the ball over and had a field goal blocked. So we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The Cowboys, though, are confident they will have good special teams with Bisaccia, who replaces Joe DeCamillis.
“That’s not even a question,” long snapper LP Ladouceur said. “Everywhere he’s been, he’s done really well. I’m not worried about that. He’s going to do well here. We’re going to do well here. Sometimes players we have to step up. That’s what we’re supposed to do.”
Dan Bailey has had only one field goal blocked in his two seasons. So it was an unusual sound he heard Friday when his kick bounced off Tyvon Branch’s hands.
“I think we just had a lot of pressure from the right side,” Bailey said. “The operation was good as far as our speed, and I thought I hit the ball good, got the ball up. I haven’t actually seen the pictures or the film yet. But it seemed like we had quite a big push on the right side, I don’t know, maybe between the guard and the tight end, somewhere over there.”
It’s safe to say the Cowboys will spend some time working on that this week, one of a handful of mistakes on special teams against the Raiders.
“It looked like the guy came off of the tight end on our right hand side,” Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ll watch it on the tape. Sometimes those guys will overextend and create a gap there, and that’s what it looked like to me.”
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys kicking game woes prove costly in preseason loss
OAKLAND – In a game eventually decided by two points, the Dallas Cowboys were on the wrong side of a 19-17 outcome Friday night against the Oakland Raiders.
And like so many games do, this one came down to special teams.
The Cowboys left a field goal on the board in the first quarter. They had a fumbled punt that led to another field goal by the Raiders in the fourth. And even in between, there were some miscues in the kicking game that will likely give special teams coach Rich Bisaccia plenty to chew on this week.
It started when Dan Bailey’s 26-yard attempt was blocked.
“I haven’t seen it on film or looked at the pictures but it seemed like we had a strong rush from the right side,” Bailey said.
After the block, punter/holder Chris Jones made the tackle but Bailey was tripped up in the process, going to the ground with the wind knocked out of him.
Later in the game, with the Cowboys leading 17-16, rookie corner B.W. Webb misjudged a punt deep in his own territory and dropped the ball. The Raiders recovered at the Cowboys’ 9 and eventually took the lead on a field goal four plays later.
The Raiders only punted twice with Webb back deep for both. The first one was a short kick downed by Oakland. But the second one ended up becoming the difference maker in the game.
In the return game, the Raiders averaged 34.3 yards on three returns, including a 51-yarder in the fourth quarter that put Oakland in favorable field position and eventually led to Webb’s muffed punt.
The Cowboys had some decent returns themselves, including a 28-yard kickoff return by Cole Beasley. Joseph Randle averaged 25 yards on his two runbacks while Anthony Armstrong and Dwayne Harris also had returns.
Deep snapper L.P. Ladouceur, who is considered the veteran of the special teams, didn’t seem overly worried with the struggles Friday night.
“It’s the second preseason game,” he said. “I think we’ll be fine. We’ve got some issues to work on. But I don’t think it’s anything we can’t do. We’ve got a good scheme and we’ll be fine.”
Bryan Broaddus takes a closer look at Dallas Cowboys punter Chris Jones and how he fits into the team’s 2013 plans.
Name: Chris Jones
Height/Weight: 6-0 / 208
Experience: 2 seasons
College: Carson Newman
Key stat: Chris Jones had just 12 punts last season, averaging 45.2 yards per punt with a 40.0 yard net average.
Contract status: Signed through 2013.
How he played in 2012: Chris Jones was one of those question marks in training camp that no one really wanted to talk about. Jones burst onto the scene replacing the injured Mat McBriar in 2011 and punted well enough to allow the front office to not extend McBriar in 2012 thus making him a free agent. To be honest there were days in Oxnard where it looked like that decision was a poor one because of what a weapon that McBriar had become over his years in Dallas and Jones just wasn’t punting consistent enough but he managed to make it to the start of the 2012 and really did a nice job opening night against the Giants. The next week against the Seahawks, Jones had a punt blocked when Dan Connor missed an assignment and the following week against the Buccaneers somehow managed to get a punt off that should have been blocked but it resulted in an injury to his left knee. In his final game of the 2012 season Jones was able to gut out the game against the Ravens after not practicing all week. Fortunately for Jones, he was only called on one time that day but the knee was too damaged to continue the rest of the season and Brian Moorman took over the punting and holding duties for the club. In four games Jones averaged 45 yards on 12 punts and was on his way to the type of season that the front office and coaches believed he was capable of having.
Where he fits in 2013: Gone is special teams coach Joe DeCamillis and Rich Bisaccia now takes over in that role. Jones had a big supporter in DeCamillis but there is no reason to believe that Bisaccia will feel different about Jones and what talent he has. What will also help Jones is that Chris Boniol is still on the staff and will be able to paint a pretty accurate picture of what Jones is to Bisaccia. I fully expect Jones to be the punter for this club in 2013 but the scouts might have seen someone in their travels this Fall that could compete for the job so we will see after the 2013 NFL Draft when we get into mini camps.
Nick Eatman: He’s one of the injured players people forget about but he was missed. Sure, Brian Moorman has more experience but Jones was better at angling his punts with height and direction. He’s also a good holder for kicks so I would expect Jones should be the punter for this team next year.
Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | Football Analyst/Scout
Change continues to sweep through Valley Ranch with Wednesday’s departure of special teams coach Joe DeCamillis to the Chicago Bears.
After the Cowboys released him from his contract, DeCamillis is now part of newly hired Bears coach Marc Trestman’s staff, agreeing to serve as special teams coach and assistant head coach.
DeCamillis is the third member of Jason Garrett’s staff to leave in the past two weeks and the first to do so without being fired. The Cowboys fired running backs coach Skip Peete and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan last week.
“I’m glad to have the opportunity to get there. I think it’s obviously a great situation,” DeCamillis said, according to ESPNDallas.com. “Dave (Toub) has already got the thing going; great tradition there. You’ve got awesome pieces to work with. So I’m excited to get there for sure.”
DeCamillis spent four seasons with Dallas.
Dallas Cowboys running backs coach Skip Peete has been relieved of his duties by coach Jason Garrett and will not return for the 2013 season.
Peete, who had been with the Cowboys since 2007, was informed in a meeting with Garrett Monday.
According to a source, Peete was surprised by the move, given the injuries to running backs DeMarco Murray the past two seasons that limited his effectiveness, and the struggles on the offensive line to open holes for the running game.
The Cowboys set a team record for fewest rushing yards in a 16-game season in 2012 with just 1,265.
Murray, who missed six games with a sprained foot, rushed for 663 yards, the lowest for a Cowboys leading rusher in 23 years. Felix Jones was ineffective in Murray’s place but his presence and production should land more at the foot of owner Jerry Jones than Peete.
A disappointed Garrett hinted at changes with the running game in his press conference after the season-ending loss to the Redskins.
“We have to do a better job running the football,’’ Garrett said. “DeMarco Murray was out for a large portion of this season, but having said that, you have to put the next guy in there and you have to be effective running it.
“It just helps your football team. It helps your offensive line, it helps your quarterback, it helps your defense. That’s something that we’ve tried to do and we weren’t as effective as we needed to be.
“We have to make a commitment to being better next year.’’
Peete may be the first change but he may not be the only staff move in 2013.
Special teams coach Joe DeCammilis interviewed for Bears head coaching job on Saturday. And even if he doesn’t get the Bears job, he could be in line for a lateral move to another team. The Cowboys blocked a potential move by DeCammilis to the Raiders last season.
The Cowboys have yet to rule on the future of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis is on the Chicago Bears list of head coaching candidates. Bears general manager Phil Emery has asked the Cowboys for permission to interview DeCamillis. (The Cowboys cannot deny the request since it is a head coaching position.)
DeCamillis and Emery worked together in Atlanta for three years, when Emery was the Falcons director of college scouting and DeCamillis the special teams coach there.
DeCamillis, 47, just completed his fourth season with the Cowboys. He also previously has been a special teams coach for the Broncos (1988-92), Giants (1993-96) and Jaguars (2007-08) besides his stint in Atlanta (1997-2006).
John Harbaugh was the Eagles special teams coach when the Ravens hired him as their head coach in 2008.
The Bears also reportedly will interview Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong, Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan. Chicago fired Lovie Smith on Monday after Smith went 84-66 in nine seasons.
IRVING, Texas – We’re at the halfway point in the regular season and obviously the Dallas Cowboys aren’t happy with a 3-5 record. The talk of head coach Jason Garrett’s future has been a topic, albeit one that owner Jerry Jones has dismissed.
The Cowboys haven’t been able to close out games this season, but the schedule might turn in their favor for the final eight games, where only one team with a winning record exists.
The DallasCowboys.com staff of Bryan Broaddus, Rowan Kavner and Nick Eatman weigh in with their assessment of the season’s first half.
Bryan: The victory on the road against the Giants on opening night. It was a game that nobody had them winning. Might be the only time they have really played a complete game.
Rowan: Winning the opener in New York. The Cowboys felt a victory against the Super Bowl champion Giants might be a statement win and one that could propel them going forward. It turned out to be one of the few positive moments from the first half of the season.
Nick: There’s only been three wins and it’s not going to be beating Tampa Bay or Carolina. Has to be the opener against the Giants when they took it to the defending champs from start to finish. Kevin Ogletree had a career night and the Cowboys kept answering the bell.
Bryan: The last 5:21 of the game against the Falcons. If the defense gets a stop there, Tony Romo has a chance to once again try and score with a no-huddle offense that had previously moved the ball well for their only touchdown of the day. Instead, the offense gets the ball with 22 seconds left and no chance to win the game.
Rowan: When Dez Bryant was called out of bounds on a miraculous catch in the back of the end zone at home against the Giants. Not only would that have given the Cowboys a winning record at the time, and their biggest comeback in franchise history, but it would have also been one of the few breaks for both Romo and Bryant, who’ve had their struggles at times.
Nick: Without a doubt, hearing the referee say, “After review, the receiver’s hand landed out of bounds” following Bryant’s near catch against the Giants. That was a killer for this team. They could’ve had the biggest comeback in Cowboys history from two players, Dez and Romo, who needed a boost like that. While it was still a classic, it would’ve probably been the best game I’ve ever covered had it not been for a few inches.
What They Do Best:
Bryan: Cover punts. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Chris Jones or Brian Moorman, Joe DeCamillis has this unit ranked among the best in the NFL. Rarely do you see their gunners out of position and when given an opportunity to make a tackle, they get the job done. It’s a sound group.
Rowan: Stop teams from driving the field. The defense has played significantly better than the offense this season, particularly in limiting teams from gaining chunks of yardage. The offense continually puts the defense in rough spots with turnovers, and for the most part, the defense has held its own.
Nick: Other than find creative ways to lose games? This team is pretty good at defending the pass. What’s really frustrating is if you would’ve heard two weeks ago that neither Eli Manning nor Matt Ryan would throw a touchdown against the Cowboys and their offenses would only get one each, you never would’ve thought the Cowboys would go 0-2 in those games. But, the Cowboys have had a good pass rush and played well in the secondary, ranking fifth overall on defense.
Where They Struggle The Most
Bryan: Finishing games. Look at the way this team has lost games and that will tell you all you need to know.
Rowan: In the red zone. Not a lot of teams will be able to score in there with a rushing attack as feeble as the Cowboys’, which ranks 30th in rushing average. Dallas scores a touchdown only 44 percent of the time it reaches the red zone and 50 percent of the time it gets inside the 10-yard line.
Nick: It’s the offensive line. That hasn’t changed really since last year, other than probably regressing some. Romo is always running for his life and they can’t run the ball in the red zone, a sure sign this offensive line can’t generate a good enough push when needed.
Best Offensive Player:
Bryan: Jason Witten. Nobody has played with more toughness and skill than him.
Rowan: Witten. The man who is now the team’s all-time leader in receptions has been one of the few reliable targets for Romo this year. After a slow start coming back from a spleen injury, Witten has recorded at least six catches in the last five games, including a 13-catch performance and a record 18-reception outing.
Nick: The wording of this category is tricky. The football player might be Dez. The most valuable is probably Romo because when he’s on they always have a chance, and when he’s not, they have none. But the best offensive player through eight games has to be Witten. Who would’ve said that after those first three games when he wasn’t 100 percent? But, he’s been fantastic of late. Then again, when your best player is a tight end, it’s hard to be successful on offense.
Best Defensive Player:
Bryan: Week in and week out, Brandon Carr has been asked to cover the opponent’s best receiver, plus line up at safety. Carr has been a stable, steady player, which is something you need when trying to match up against different schemes.
Rowan: No player on this defense would cause the kind of commotion and alterations needed after Sean Lee was lost for the year. He had about as productive a start to the season as anyone could ask for and will continue to be the leader of the defense for years to come.
Nick: Sure, I’d like to be cute here and find another worthy selection, but you really can’t. DeMarcus Ware has been the most productive and most durable defensive player on this team for a while. Ware has played in all 120 games of his career, missing just one start, and that was the Saints game in 2009 when he was heroic in a huge upset win. He’s been great again this year and gets my vote.
Editors Pick: Bruce Carter
Best Special Teams Player:
Bryan: It’s amazing that Danny McCray’s special teams play hasn’t suffered because of all the time he’s seeing with the defense as a starting safety. His ability to read schemes, beat blocks and finish plays gets him noticed a lot on tape.
Rowan: It’s Dan Bailey. The only area he’s not automatic is over 50 yards, which is understandable for any kicker. When the Cowboys get in legitimate field goal range, he’ll put it through almost every time.
Nick: It’s too easy to go with Bailey, but what about the snapper L.P. Ladouceur, who has been virtually perfect again this year. He’s the most consistent player on the team. With so many players shuffling in and out of the special teams units, they’ve had little consistency, but Ladouceur is the normal exception.
Don’t Forget About …
Bryan: As much as I wanted to get rid of Phil Costa, he does play on his feet in securing blocks and getting on the second level. Is he great? No, but he is able to do things that Ryan Cook can’t scheme-wise.
Rowan: All the injuries this team has endured. The Cowboys lost their two best young players at different points and for different durations in Lee and DeMarco Murray, not to mention their starting safety in Barry Church and nose tackle Jay Ratliff for the beginning of the year. Health going forward will be crucial.
Nick: The Cowboys have been a different team when DeMarco Murray is in the game, and if he can return soon, possibly even this week, the offense has a chance to turn things around in a hurry.
Bryan: The way this team loses games. It really has been a throw here, a catch there or a key stop not made that’s kept the Cowboys from having a much better record.
Rowan: There have been quite a few disappointments, from a meager rushing attack to a shaky offensive line to a hoard of penalties every other week. But turnovers, particularly interceptions, have kept this Cowboys team from being above .500.
Nick: Since I was preaching back in June how important the Seattle game would be, I’ll stick with that. After winning in New York, the Cowboys simply got manhandled against the Seahawks in Week 2, which gave us a preview of how they would lose the physical battle up front in other games, too.
Bryan: Need to focus and find a way to get on a little four-game winning streak, the game at Philadelphia and then three in a row at home. If this team is going to do anything productive this second half of the season, it starts against the Eagles on Sunday.
Rowan: While the lousy start wasn’t expected after a win in New York, it should get easier for the Cowboys the rest of the way. They only play one team with a winning record, so there’s no excuse to go 3-5 again in the second half of the season.
Nick: We knew all along the Cowboys might have an easier road in the second half of the season than in the first, and that should be the case. But the question was always the same: Will it be too late? The Cowboys are 3-5, and although just one of their last eight opponents currently has a winning record, it’s hard to think they will be consistent enough to make a serious playoff run. I still think 8-8 will be the final verdict.
The Dallas Cowboys had a chance to steal a victory in the final seconds but Dan Bailey’s 51-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide-left.
Here are my five thoughts on the Cowboys’ 31-29 loss in Baltimore on Sunday.
1.) The pre-snap penalties throughout the game and time management on the final drive was out of control. It wasn’t just the number of penalties but it’s when they occurred. In several red zone and third-down situations, false start calls stalled drives. That shouldn’t happen in Week 6. I’m not sure a team can win in a hostile environment when they’re making so many mistakes before the ball is snapped. Most of the blame goes on the players that committed the infractions but coaching and game-planning isn’t doing them any favors. Last week, Cowboys offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Callahan said there was talk of simplifying the offense so Tony Romo didn’t have to do as much adjusting at the line of scrimmage. Ha! That clearly didn’t happen, especially on Dallas’ final touchdown drive. Romo barely got two plays off because of confusion at the line of scrimmage. The way the Cowboys managed the clock on their final drive prevented Bailey from having a closer attempt to win the game.
These are four examples of costly pre-snap penalties the Cowboys committed in Baltimore.
1-Early second quarter: Third-and-4 on Baltimore’s 12. Illegal Shift, 5-yard penalty.
2-Early fourth quarter: First-and-10 on Baltimore’s 10. Illegal Shift, 5-yard penalty.
3-Late fourth quarter: Third-and-1 on Dallas’ 29. Jeremy Parnell, false start, 5-yard penalty.
4-Late fourth quarter: Third-and-22 on Baltimore’s 44. Kevin Ogletree, false start, 5-yard penalty.
2.) Yes, the running game looked outstanding, but don’t be fooled. The Ravens aren’t the defense they once were. Fresh off of allowing the Chiefs to run for 214 yards, the Cowboys amassed 227 yards on the ground. Having Phil Costa back at center obviously helped and running behind Tyron Smith and Nate Livings on the left side continued to be Dallas’ best option. DeMarco Murray was dominant early, Felix Jones looked like a first-round pick for the first time this season and Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar each filled in nicely. Sorry, I need to see this more often to believe it was all because of what the Cowboys were doing.
3.) Dez Bryant had a costly drop that would’ve tied the game on a two-point conversion, but he still played his best game as a Dallas Cowboy. Bryant caught all five passes thrown his way in the first half and finished with 13 catches on 15 targets. His two touchdown receptions showcased how his physical ability makes him one of the most difficult assignments for any defender. Bryant finished with 95 yards and a pair of scores after not recording a touchdown in the first four games of the year. There’s still a long way to go for Bryant to be a complete receiver, but dropping a two-point conversion pass with a defender draped on his back shouldn’t overshadow what he did before that play.
4.) This loss wasn’t only significant because there was an opportunity to steal a game in arguably the league’s toughest road venue but because of how difficult the schedule lines up over the next four weeks. The Cowboys will not be favored in three of their next four games as they host the Giants before traveling to Atlanta and Philadelphia. Losing three of their next four would put the Cowboys at 3-6, not exactly the recipe for a playoff berth. And Dallas’ current 2-3 mark is much worse historically than had they won and been 3-2. Teams that start 3-2 have a 51 percent chance of reaching the playoffs. Teams that start 2-3 have a 21 percent chance. Not good for a team with a closing window.
5.) My fifth thought is actually a combination of things. Hats off to Jason Witten. He has clearly put his dropped-passes issue in his rear-view mirror. Witten made two difficult grabs during the final touchdown-drive, including a diving catch on fourth-and-long. … How bad will the injury report look on Monday? Already without Anthony Spencer, Morris Claiborne exited with a left knee injury, DeMarco Murray barely played in the second half after sustaining a foot sprain and Sean Lissemore had his day ended with an ankle sprain in the first quarter. … Joe DeCamillis’ special teams unit isn’t the worst in the league but it’s also not very good. After the Cowboys cut Baltimore’s lead to 17-13, DeCamillis’ bunch allowed Jacoby Jones to return the ensuing kickoff untouched for 108-yard touchdown. The Cowboys get very little out of their own punt and kick returns, showcased by averages that rank among the NFL’s worst. They also allowed a punt to be blocked and returned for a touchdown in Seattle.
Courtesy: Jon Machota | DMN
That owner Jerry Jones would emphatically say that running Felix Jones would remain the team’s primary kickoff returner one day after coach Jason Garrett said the team would consider other options seemed to lend credence to the notion that the Cowboys have another puppet in place as coach.
Garrett, however, says he has no problems with Jones’ comments and doesn’t believe they undermine his authority. He said he and Jones talk about everything and the team will stick by Felix Jones for now because of his history of success, despite his struggles so far this year.
Garrett maintained they would get other options ready to go.
“One of the things that I think we do a really good job of in this organization is we discuss things,” Garrett said. “The Joneses and I discuss a lot of things. Our staff and I discuss a lot of things. We discuss a lot of things with our pro personnel and our college scouting departments. So the lines of communication are open. There’s no thing that’s going to be my decision or his decision or that guy’s decision or this guy’s decision. If we’re talking about a player playing, (coach) Joe DeCamillis has a huge role in who’s going to be our returner. Now is he going to make the decision? No. I’m going to get involved in that discussion. Other people are going to get involved in that discussion. It’s just the way it works. We think that’s a good thing. Different people have different perspectives and different insights and then we come to a conclusion that we all think is good. We’ve never had any issues that way regarding personnel or really any kind of decision we have to make as an organization.”
Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett kicks off the week of preparation for Tampa Bay by answering questions from the Dallas media. Duration 19:26
The Cowboys had a chance to reach 2-0 for the first time since 2008 but came out flat against the Seahawks on Sunday. Here are my thoughts on the game.
1.) Why was it so difficult for Jason Witten and Dez Bryant to hold onto the football? The two were targeted a combined 17 times but came away with only seven catches. While some opportunities were difficult, both players dropped multiple passes that they normally catch. Bryant went the entire first half without a reception and then opened the third quarter by fumbling after a short grab. Fortunately for Bryant, Doug Free recovered. Strangely, Witten not only dropped several passes but he and Tony Romo weren’t on the same page during a drive shortly before halftime. It’s extremely surprising to see the Cowboys make these mistakes after playing so well against the Giants and having 10 days to prepare for the Seahawks.
2.) Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis rarely seems to be in a good mood at practice. And if it’s possible, his anger will probably be at a higher level when the team returns to Valley Ranch this week. Known for his expletive-filled rants, DeCamillis can’t be pleased with how his group started Sunday’s contest. First Felix Jones fumbled the opening kickoff, which led to a Seahawks field goal. Then, a Chris Jones punt was deflected and returned for a score after Dan Connor missed a block. The Cowboys never seemed to recover from that 10-0 hole.
3.) When it was announced shortly before the game that Seattle starting left tackle Russell Okung – the sixth overall pick in the 2010 draft – was inactive it seemed like DeMarcus Ware was in line for a big day defensively. But the Cowboys’ top pass-rusher never put much pressure on rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. After recording two sacks in the season opener, Ware was limited to only one quarterback hit in Seattle. Wilson’s mobility was a factor, but the Cowboys’ front seven rarely made him look uncomfortable. Anthony Spencer was one of the few bright spots, recording a sack and two hits on Wilson. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch also had success, especially in the second half, rushing for 122 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.
4.) Although 23-of-40 passing doesn’t suggest it, Romo played well against the Seahawks. Had it not been for the dropped passes, those numbers would’ve been much more impressive, and the Cowboys’ chances of winning would have greatly increased. The Seahawks dominated the clock in the second half, so Romo, who threw one interception, didn’t get a chance to mount a comeback. The offensive line didn’t give Romo much time to survey the secondary but his spin move created a few extra seconds on several occasions. An immobile quarterback would have no success behind the Cowboys’ offensive line at this time.
5.) Why is Felix Jones still returning kicks? His time in the backfield has been reduced severely because of DeMarco Murray’s effectiveness, but even when Jones is on the field he rarely makes a defender miss. I literally can’t remember the last time the Cowboys had a good kickoff return. And Jones, who failed the team’s conditioning test at the start of training camp, doesn’t appear to have the quickness to make that happen. It might be time to give Morris Claiborne a chance. The rookie first-round pick practiced returning kicks on Thursday so that may soon become reality.
OXNARD, Calif. — Dez Bryant will be the Cowboys punt returner in 2012.
The Cowboys were leery of using the wide receiver in that spot last year, choosing to limit his work in part for fear of injury, but they have had a philosophical change of heart in 2012.
And it’s not just Bryant who will be involved in the return game. Jones said Felix Jones will be the team’s kick returner.
“We think that’s really going to do wonders for our kicking game,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “We’re going to let them work on it from the get go. Obviously, we didn’t do it with Felix last year because he was the starting running back and we didn’t do it with Dez. This year, we think it’ll make a big difference. Both guys were top guys come out of college. By letting them work on it every day, Joe (DeCamillis) thinks it’ll make a big difference.”
Bryant had punt returns for touchdowns of 62 and 93 yards as a rookie and averaged 14.3 yards in 15 returns. Last season, he suffered a bruised quadriceps in the season opener and was limited as a returner for the rest of the year.
Jones has averaged 24.5 yards per kick return in his first three seasons. He had a 98-yard touchdown as a rookie.
“We were wanting to try some of the young guys last year,” Stephen Jones said. “I think Dez doing punt returns, we’ve done it with Deion (Sanders). We think that’s a safer deal. And then with Felix obviously going to No. 2 running back, then I think him get some chances to make some plays as well.”
The Cowboys averaged just 7.1 yards per punt return and 23.3 yards per kick return in 2012, which has kept the offense from being in the best field position situations.
“The big thing is Joe thinks practicing it every day, getting Dez and Felix used to the blocking schemes, working on it every day, they’ll be better,” Stephen Jones said.
Courtesy: Todd Archer | ESPN Dallas
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys doing right thing in return game
Yes, I would agree that having two of the best, most dynamic and most dangerous athletes on your team returning your kicks can make a big difference. Frankly, I never saw what was the holdup with Bryant as punt returner. He’s big enough and young enough to handle the extra work. And if fear of injury was really going to govern your decisions, you’d never let any of these guys on the field to begin with. Bryant can be a difference-maker in the punt return game, and the way Jones operates in space with the ball in his hands leads one to believe he could do the same as a kick returner. Given the Cowboys’ depth issues at key positions on offense and defense, finding and keeping a specialist just for return duties wouldn’t make a lot of sense. These moves do.
Courtesy: Dan Graziano | ESPN
There have been a number of changes in the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff over the past few years. Here’s an updated list of the assistant coaches and links for more detailed information on each of them.
DALLAS COWBOYS HEAD COACH
Jason Garrett was named the eighth head coach in Dallas Cowboys history on January 5, 2011. Garrett, who played for or worked alongside four of his predecessors, became the first former Dallas Cowboys player to become the team’s head coach.
DALLAS COWBOYS COACHING STAFF
|Offensive Coaches||Defensive Coaches||Specialty Coaches|
Asst. Head Coach/Wide Receivers
Strength and Conditioning
|To Be Determined
Tight Ends/Passing Game Coord.
Assistant Special Teams/ Kickers
Assistant Strength and Conditioning
Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
Assistant Offensive Line
Off. Quality Control/Wide Receivers
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Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey and long snapper L.P. LaDouceur leave the field after the overtime loss
Here is a partial transcript of Jason Garrett’s answers on Monday to questions about the clock management at the end of the game against Arizona. The reporters’ questions are paraphrased.
Reporter: You said yesterday you would evaluate the end of the game. How do you evaluate the frantic final 26 seconds?
Garrett: “I think probably what I said yesterday, you can probably play that situation out one of two ways. You can say, hey, the yard line we feel good about kicking a field goal is the 35-yard line. That’s what we determined before the ball game. We got to the 30. We felt good about giving our kicker a chance to do that right there. You let the time go down to the appropriate time, you call a timeout, or in our case, we clocked it to give ourselves a chance to kick the game-winning field goal from there. The other way you can play it obviously is you take the timeout and you have whatever you have, high teens left in the game, and you run a play, maybe two plays, to get yourself a little bit closer and kick the same kind of a field goal.”
Reporter: So what made you choose the option you chose?
Garrett: “Oh, probably just the confidence level that we have in Dan Bailey. He’s been so good in those situations. He’s made four game-winning kicks for us in similar kind of situations, so the biggest thing that we were trying to do at that point was give him a chance to do that. He’s been so good. We’ve managed those situations in very similar fashion earlier in the year. If you remember in San Francisco, the first Washington game, the second Washington game and also against Miami, we just wanted to make sure he had an opportunity to kick the game winner and we gave him the chance to do that and, unfortunately, it didn’t work out for us.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) arranges his linemen, center Phil Costa (67) and guard Montrae Holland (64) in the first 1quarter.
Nobody else wants to say it, so I will.
I will say it for you, and you, and you.
Thanks for saving the Cowboys’ season in Washington.
Thanks for covering for Rob Ryan’s defense, which had a total mind-blowing collapse against one of the worst offensive units in all of ball.
Thanks for covering for Joe D’s special teams, which were consistently horrific in every area except for Dan Bailey’s toe.
Thanks for covering for your offensive line, a group that had been coming around lately but lost the manly battle up front to a good defensive unit that we already knew had refused to quit on the Redskins’ dismal season.
Really, is it that difficult to say, thanks, Tony?
When Romo deserves to be blasted, he is blasted, without hesitation, and deservedly so. I am always the first to chip in on the blasting. Not a lot of research is necessary. See the Jets game. See the Lions game.
But Romo is now in the midst of an excellent quarterbacking roll over the past three games, and hardly by coincidence, the Cowboys have won all three.
Except, until Sunday, all the credit went to rookie running back DeMarco Murray, and the Murray factor is certainly deserving of praise. But we all knew this, the same as we knew it in the Dynasty Days, eventually it would all come down to the quarterback making plays when all else around him stood still.
Jan. 17, 1993. Candlestick Park. Aikman to Harper. With that one pass, the Super Bowl runs began.
OK, this ain’t that. These Cowboys aren’t Super Bowl contenders. But to continue the entertainment process, and continue the playoff possibilities, the quarterback had to deliver Sunday in Washington. All else had failed.
Romo consistently delivered. Delivered on three clutch throws, all of them on third down, all under duress, and all happening because he created his own time.
Two of those passes went for touchdowns, one to Laurent Robinson early in the fourth quarter to tie the game 17-17, the next to Jason Witten to provide a 24-17 lead. And then on third-and-15 in overtime, the 26-yard strike to Dez Bryant on a play when Romo again skillfully escaped pressure.
That last one resulted in the 39-yard field goal to win it.
Why don’t we all rip Tony for a penalty that never happened?
As the holder, his attempted timeout call (the Cowboys had already used both OT timeouts) as the play clock was down to two seconds seemed to be a bigger emphasis with many than the game he played at quarterback.
First, it wasn’t a penalty because the Redskins also called timeout to freeze Bailey.
Secondly, why wasn’t anyone asking why the hell the play clock was down to two seconds at the most critical point in the game? That’s yet another special teams disaster, that the field goal unit wasn’t lined up and ready to go.
Thirdly, it was third down when the Cowboys were kicking.
If, if, if Romo had gotten the 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct (there’s disagreement over what the penalty would have been), I repeat, it was third down. Third and 23.
Bailey wasn’t going to try a 54-yard field goal.
Romo and the offense would have gotten another shot to make up the yardage lost if there had been a penalty. The way Tony was clutching up on third down, I wouldn’t have bet against him.
But there was no penalty, right?
I also could add that your starting quarterback should never be the holder, but that’s a lost argument, although if the Cowboys can carry four kickers on the roster (they actually had four for one game), why not go get a “holding specialist,” too? Yes, I’m kidding, but…
I just thought I would bring it up that Romo played great in Washington, has played great the past three games, and because it’s a game-to-game process for him, we will see if it continues on Thursday with a revived Miami in town for the Thanksgiving Day affair.
Sure, the Cowboys dodged a disaster in Washington.
Somehow, the defense managed to transform Rex the Wreck into Tom Brady.
Somehow, the worst group of receivers in the NFL managed to consistently win downfield matchups, particularly in the middle of the field.
Somehow, maybe the worst offensive line in the league managed to buy time for Mr. Grossman, who, to his credit, was tricky on play-action fakes, freezing the Cowboys defense.
This game was a matchup of Ryan scheming against a very poor offense, while Romo had to overcome a good defense. Tony did. Rob’s guys were pathetic in their failure.
As far as the special teams, we know the Cowboys have no return game, but at least you can stop it on the other end. Joe D, your guys really, really stunk.
Yet, in the end, it didn’t matter. Each week is a new adventure, not just for the Cowboys, but it’s a consistent theme around the NFL. See the Giants against the Eagles on Sunday night. Both teams were awful.
There are no ugly wins for the Cowboys. The Cowboys aren’t good enough to be style-pointing Ws. But in a bad NFC East, they are good enough to be tied for the lead at 6-4.
Thanks for that, Tony.
You saved all Cow butts in Washington.
I just thought I’d mention it.
Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey (5) hits a field goal in the 4th quarter. The Buffalo Bills lost to the Dallas Cowboys 44-7 at Cowboys Stadium
Dan Bailey hadn’t had this much fun since his days at Oklahoma State. The rookie placekicker was one of the busiest guys on the field Sunday, booting three field goals, five extra points and nine kickoffs.
“I was telling some of the guys, ‘Man, this reminds me of college,’” Bailey said. “Obviously when I’m kicking a lot, that usually means we’re doing good as a team. It was a fun day.”
Bailey connected on field goals of 45, 36 and 31 yards and has now made 22 in a row, which is third on the Cowboys’ all-time list. Bailey’s kicking coach, Chris Boniol, had 27 straight in 1996 and 26 straight in 1995.
“I didn’t even know about it until somebody mentioned it earlier,” Bailey said of his proximity to his coach’s record. “I’m not too worried about that. Just as long as we’re putting points on the board and winning games, that’s all that matters.”
With David Buehler on injured reserve, Bailey is now handling all kickoffs. On Sunday, he had touchbacks on all four of his first-half kickoffs but allowed returns on three of his five second-half kickoffs. The Bills averaged 20.3 yards on their three returns.
“I might have been a little bit tired,” Bailey said with a smile. “There was a couple times there where we had a PAT, kickoff, interception, PAT, kickoff. But I can’t complain. It obviously means we’re doing well.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Bailey missed the opening kickoff of the second half. The ball would have gone out of bounds if Brad Smith hadn’t fielded the ball in bounds at the 17. The Bills challenged the call, saying Smith had a foot out of bounds when he fielded the kickoff, but referee Jerome Boger upheld the ruling on the field.
“That was a miss-hit,” Jones said. “That was not a deliberate attempt of a soft kick on the opening kickoff of the second half. The first thing I did was grab Joe [DeCamillis] and say, ‘Tell me….’ He said, ‘He missed it. I didn’t call it.’ But anyway, we really can say that our kicker played well today.”