NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Road to the Super Bowl | 2013-2014 Wildcard Weekend
The Dallas Cowboys missed the playoffs, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop watching NFL games.
There are four games on tap this weekend: Kansas City at Indianapolis and New Orleans at Philadelphia on Saturday and San Diego at Cincinnati and San Francisco at Green Bay on Sunday.
Can home-field advantage can be established this year?
In the NFC, the 49ers and Saints are considered better teams than their home opponents, but both teams travel into tough weather conditions. In the AFC, the Colts were 6-2 at home in the regular season, but they’ve shown signs of being vulnerable.
And then there’s Green Bay. Since 2002, the Packers are 3-4 at Lambeau Field in the playoffs. That mark was 13-0 before ’02.
|KANSAS CITY CHIEFS||INDIANAPOLIS COLTS|
|NEW ORLEANS SAINTS||PHILADELPHIA EAGLES|
|SAN DIEGO CHARGERS||CINCINNATI BENGALS|
|SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS||GREEN BAY PACKERS|
So how wild will this weekend’s wild-card playoff games be?
A high-scoring game is expected Saturday night when the New Orleans Saints visit the Philadelphia Eagles. An Ice Bowl-like game is expected when the San Francisco 49ers visit the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Can the Indianapolis Colts repeat their 16-point win from Week 16 over Kansas City on Saturday in Lucas Oil Stadium? Anything can happen in the San Diego-Cincinnati game Sunday.
Which teams will survive the first hurdle in the race toward Super Bowl XLVIII?
TEXAS 2 TAKEAWAYS: Cowboys’ defenders create sacks, but no turnovers
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys failed to create a single takeaway in Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs after forcing six turnovers a week prior.
Safety Will Allen and linebacker Bruce Carter both had opportunities for interceptions, and it still sticks with them a day later that they weren’t able to secure the picks.
“Not creating the turnovers, not getting the takeaways, that’s what’s painful about (the loss),” Allen said. “If we get one at a crucial moment, that’s the game for us.”
The safety, who had an opportunity early on while crashing on a route to secure a tough pick, said the lack of takeaways sticks in his mind more than the fact that the defense allowed the Chiefs to eat up time and pick up crucial first downs to secure their win.
“If we get takeaways, it doesn’t even matter at the end of the game,” Allen said.
Pressure on the quarterback wasn’t the problem for the Cowboys’ defense, as they brought Alex Smith down four times for sacks. They just couldn’t capitalize on the pressures, failing to intercept a pass and allowing the quarterback to scramble and run for 57 yards on eight attempts.
Carter had one of those sacks, but he also had an opportunity to potentially take an out-route back for six points. He read the pass, but he couldn’t secure the catch near the sideline at midfield.
“That was a key play that I have to make to put my team in position to win the game,” Carter said. “I just have to finish and catch and go to the house. I was already thinking about going to the end zone before I caught it.”
Carter said it’s difficult to go through a game without a takeaway, considering how hard the defense works in practice to rip the ball out.
The special teams unit also had a chance to secure a fumbled kickoff return by the Chiefs, but Knile Davis recovered the catch he muffed inside the Chiefs’ 20-yard line. B.W. Webb was one of the defenders close to the play.
“I was pretty close, but I was hesitating because that really wasn’t my job to be in that area,” Webb said. “I was like, ‘Should I go or stay in my job?’ I was the safety on that play and didn’t know if he was going to get it back. When I looked at it, I was closer than I thought.”
The Cowboys had a few opportunities to make the game-changing types of plays the Kansas City defense came up with. The Chiefs ended the night leading the turnover ratio, 2-0, after forcing two fumbles.
Allen said the defense can’t go entire games without forcing a takeaway and that keeps him up at night, but they have to forget about it now and move on.
“Me and Bruce Carter both had opportunities to turn the game around, to get the offense an extra possession or two,” he said. “We didn’t do that.”
POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE: Jason Garrett and Tony Romo’s reaction to Kansas City Chiefs loss; Dez highlights
First Take – Dallas Cowboys vs. Kansas City Chiefs wrap up
Nick Eatman, Rowan Kavner, and Bryan Broaddus from Kansas City for First Take immediately following the Dallas Cowboys loss to the Chiefs.
Coach Jason Garrett & Tony Romo Postgame Press Conference
Jason Garrett and Tony Romo react following the Dallas Cowboys 17-16 loss at Kansas City.
Dez Bryant highlights at Kansas City (Must-see video!)
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant finishes finishes with 9 receptions for 141 yards and a touchdown in the team’s 17-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
MISSED OPPORTUNITIES: Chiefs, not Cowboys, made key plays down the stretch
For Jason Garrett and his football team, this trip to Kansas City was a missed opportunity. There were plenty of outstanding efforts by players on both the sides of the ball, but when they needed a play the most, whether it was in the red zone or getting the ball back one final time for your clutch kicker to send you home with a victory, the defense wasn’t fresh enough to get a stop.
What we have learned about this Dallas Cowboys squad is that when it gets turnovers, it can play with anyone in the NFL. The Kansas City Chiefs under Andy Reid will not turn over the ball on offense, but this afternoon, Alex Smith threw two passes that were the difference in 14 points.
On the Chiefs’ first drive, Will Allen was in perfect shape coverage-wise against Dwayne Bowe when Smith threw the ball behind his receiver. From the press box, it appeared that Allen had the ball in his hands, but instead of ending the drive right there and getting his defense off the field, he drops it, and six plays later, Smith is able to lead his team into the end zone for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
The second missed opportunity came right before the half on third-and-10 from the Dallas 39-yard line. Smith drops back and makes a reckless throw to tight end Sean McGrath as Bruce Carter is driving on the route. Carter once again is in perfect position with both hands on the ball and nothing but green grass ahead of him, but he drops the ball. If Carter makes that play, he puts his team up 17-7 and with the offense getting the ball to start the second half.
As outstanding as Dez Bryant was against the Chiefs, there will be a play in the fourth quarter that will be on his mind during the flight home. With the offense backed up and facing a second-and-10 from its own 21, Romo appeared to signal to Bryant for an adjustment on his route, going one-on-one against Brandon Flowers. At the snap, Romo takes the ball in the pocket, and launches a beautiful floating pass in the direction of Bryant, who has separation on Flowers. The ball cannot be thrown in any more of a perfect spot for Bryant, but he loses focus and the ball falls away. Two plays later, the Cowboys have to punt. If Bryant catches that pass, he has a chance to take it all the way – another missed opportunity.
We knew it could potentially come down to one or two plays that could make a difference in the final outcome. The Chiefs were able to force turnovers and the Cowboys were not. The Chiefs made some key plays down the stretch running the ball to kill the game and the Cowboys did not. Teams that find ways to make plays on a weekly bases, find ways to win. In Kansas City, the Cowboys learned that lesson the hard way
DREAD THE RED: Kansas City Chiefs run to victory over Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys continue to have a difficult time starting a season 2-0. It has only happened three times over the last 17 seasons and the Kansas City Chiefs made sure it wouldn’t be four times in 18 years.
Here are my five thoughts on the Cowboys dropping to 1-1 after losing in Kansas City 17-16 on Sunday.
1. Yes, it wasn’t as bad as the debacle in Seattle in Week 2 last season but it ended with the same result. All of the blown opportunities should make the Cowboys feel sick. The offense had multiple chances in the fourth quarter to answer with a go-ahead scoring drive but it never happened. Several short Tony Romo passes sailed wide and one of his best deep balls was dropped by Dez Bryant. The worst defensive play of the day came from Morris Claiborne, who was called for pass interference on a pass attempt to Donnie Avery that likely wouldn’t have resulted in a first down. Had the second-year corner not committed the infraction, Dallas would’ve had a couple minutes to get in range of a game-winning field goal.
2. The defense didn’t force any turnovers but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a solid showing. Yes, they gave up two long drives, which led to 14 points. The Cowboys should win a lot of games if their defense holds opponents to 14 points. Monte Kiffin’s group did its part for the second consecutive week. And remember, they’re still learning the system. If DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Jason Hatcher, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Brandon Carr and a few others can stay healthy, this group should be a strength.
3. Could the running game look any worse? You want to know why the Cowboys pass so much? Well, it’s because they can’t run the football. Dallas ran 16 times for only 36 yards on Sunday. If you didn’t know, that’s terrible. The addition of Brian Waters should help, but this doesn’t appear to be a problem that will be fixed over night. No running game means a lot of long third down attempts for Romo. How has that worked out? After converting 5-of-15 third downs against the New York Giants, the Cowboys were 3-of-11 on Sunday. You don’t win in the NFL converting only three third downs.
4. While Dez Bryant did have a terrible fourth quarter drop, that doesn’t mean the Cowboys should not be giving him more opportunities to make plays, especially when he’s dominating his coverage. Up until that drop, he was unstoppable. He had 100 yards in the first quarter! Brandon Flowers, one of the better corners in the league had no answer for him and the Cowboys stopped taking advantage of the mismatch in the second quarter. During 17 offensive snaps in the second quarter, the Cowboys went to Bryant twice. I think that was a mistake.
5. It sure is nice having Dan Bailey. The third-year kicker is 6-of-6 on field-goal attempts this season and they all certainly haven’t been easy. On Sunday, Bailey drilled a career-long 53 yarder. The other two were from 51 and 30 yards, respectively. It would be difficult to find a kicker better than Bailey is right now.
GAMEDAY MATCHUP: Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs
After a strong performance in their victory over the New York Giants in the season opener, the Dallas Cowboys head to Kansas City.
Defensive end Anthony Spencer is expected to play. So too is newly-acquired guard Brian Waters. They should help a Cowboys team that will look to move to 2-0 for the first time since 2008. Here is a look at how the Cowboys and Chiefs match up:
When the Cowboys run
The Cowboys’ commitment to their ground game remains in question after they attempted 49 passes and only 23 runs in a 36-31 victory over the New York Giants last Sunday. But at least there seemed to be signs of improvement from last season. DeMarco Murray rushed for 86 yards – a higher total than he produced in all but two games in 2012. Murray will be challenged by the Chiefs, who had three linebackers – Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston – selected to the 2012 Pro Bowl.
When the Cowboys pass
Tony Romo’s condition is a concern after he suffered bruised ribs in Dallas’ victory over the Giants last Sunday. Romo, after all, remains the engine of the offense. He threw 49 times against the Giants, accounting for 263 passing yards and two touchdowns. Jason Witten and Miles Austin thrived, making a combined total of 18 catches. But Dez Bryant was held in check and he is dealing with a sprained left foot. Now he’ll face a Chiefs defense that surrendered the fewest passing yards – 107– of any NFL team in Week 1.
When the Chiefs run
Kansas City received a bit of a scare when Jamaal Charles suffered a bruised quadriceps last Sunday in the Chiefs’ 28-2 victory over Jacksonville. But Charles is expected to play and that is good news for Kansas City. Charles, a two-time Pro Bowler, has three 1,000-yard rushing seasons since being drafted out of Texas in 2008. Dallas, which allowed only 50 rushing yards against the Giants’ weak backfield, will face a stiffer test Sunday.
When the Chiefs pass
Quarterback Alex Smith’s debut with the Chiefs wasn’t spectacular. But it was efficient as he completed 21 of 34 pass attempts for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Smith did a good job of distributing the ball as nine different Chiefs players made receptions. The Cowboys, who yielded 450 passing yards to Eli Manning but made three interceptions, hope to be stingier than they were against the Giants but just as opportunistic as they were last Sunday.
The Cowboys’ special teams looked much better than they did in the preseason. They recovered a fumble on a punt and Dan Bailey made each of his three field goal attempts. That’s no surprise for Bailey, who was the second-most accurate kicker in the NFL last season. Ryan Succop, Bailey’s counterpart on the Chiefs, wasn’t nearly as good, making only 82.4 percent of his tries in 2012. Of course the Chiefs have Pro Bowl punter Dustin Colquitt, who surprisingly has the worst net average in the NFL through one week.
Much is made of the supposed home-field advantage Kansas City’s crowd creates for the Chiefs. Arrowhead is regarded as one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL. But visiting teams have had success there. Since 2000, the Chiefs are 54-50 at Arrowhead. Twenty teams, including the Cowboys, have better winning percentages on their home field during the same period. Dallas, which is 2-2 against the Chiefs at Kansas City, shouldn’t be intimidated.
EXCLUSIVE: The Great Robbini’s predictions for Week #2-2013 Dallas Cowboys @ Kansas City Chiefs
Regular readers already know that The Boys Are Back blog features the ALMOST WORLD FAMOUS predictions from The GREAT Robbini. Last week, our “exalted one” was pretty much dead-on with his predictions . We’re not sure if he spent extra time waxing his ball in the offseason, or exactly what happened! Quite impressive! Those results will be available by clicking HERE in the very near future.
Last weeks win over the evil arch rival New York Giants gives us die-hard Cowboys fans reason to celebrate. We’ve seen the sudden emergence of a takeaway happy defense, TE Jason Witten twice reacquainted with the end-zone, and offensive line that doesn’t make us quiver with every snap. Today, uppermost in our minds is the 450 yards the Texas 2 defense yielded to the New York Giants offense … and three banged up cowpokes from last Sunday. Bruised Romo, Dez, and Mo are expected to take the field against Andy Reid’s Chiefs … and put on a show for that sea of red at Arrowhead Stadium. When the fat lady sings, one of these teams will be kicking off the 2013-2014 NFL season at 2-0.
The GREAT Robbini is psyched about the Cowboys – Chiefs incoming vibe… and ready to share his prognostications that we all count on from week-to-week. Without further delay, it’s time for The GREAT Robbini’s predictions. OK, here we go …
The GREAT Robbini’s – 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys week #2 predictions:
‘Boys take names at Arrowhead
Dallas Cowboys mount up and head to K.C. with a wagonload of momentum. The ‘boys take out the big chief in a tough battle. When the smoke clears, they ride out with the W.
Predictions for the Texas 2 Defense …
DeMarcus Ware 2 sacks
Sean Lee INT
Jason Hatcher 1 sack
Church/Carter lead tackles
Alex Smith sacked 4x
Texas 2 Defense gives up 23 points
Texas 2 Defense shuts out Chiefs in one quarter
Predictions for the offense …
- Tony Romo 330 yards
Tony Romo 3 TDs
Dez Bryant TD
Miles Austin TD
DeMarco Murray TD
Lance Dunbar TD
Gavin Escobar 30 yards
Dez Bryant 70 yards
Jason Witten 35 yards
Williams 45 yards
Miles Austin 70 yards
DeMarco Murray fumble
Rushing committee 110 yards
Tony Romo sacked 3 times
Offense starts game with possession
The GREAT Robbini
Remember, you read it here! The Great Robbini predictions for week #2. Leave your final score or predictions in the comment section.
NOT DOUBLE TROUBLE: Dez Bryant’s foot feels “Great,” Ready for chances at Chiefs
IRVING, Texas – Dez Bryant used as few words as possible, maybe in hopes of stopping the questions quickly.
How does Bryant’s foot — the one he sprained against the Giants and had an MRI on this week – feel?
“The foot feels great,” he said.
Was there ever any concern it would be an issue for the Cowboys’ Week 2 clash against Kansas City?
“No,” he added. “Never.”
Well, then. With those worries tossed aside, Bryant was free to field queries about the disappointing nature of his debut against New York last Sunday. This season comes with a high standard for Bryant – a standard that was placed there by himself as well as others.
The 2013 campaign didn’t get off to a rollicking start, with just four catches for 22 yards, but Bryant said patience is the key.
“You always want to catch the ball and make the play. But at the same time, we’re trying to win – you’ve got to play smart football. And you’ve just got to be patient,” he said. “There will be a time where Miles might get doubled, or Witten might get doubled. Like I said, when your number is called you’ve just got to make the play.”
Jason Witten and Miles Austin certainly did make the plays while the Giants focused on Bryant. The pair combined for 18 catches, 142 yards and two touchdowns – a type of firepower Bryant said makes it hard to be selfish about the ball.
“Come on, man. We’ve got, what? I don’t want to mess it up – an eight-time Pro Bowler? Nine? In Jason Witten – he makes plays,” Bryant said. “Miles is a Pro Bowler – he makes plays. Terrance Williams just came off a 1,800 yard season at Baylor – he makes plays. Whenever your number is called, you’ve got to make a play.”
Bryant’s attitude might not have been so selfless in the past, prompting the question of his well-documented maturation with the Cowboys.
“I guess you could say that — I agree with you,” Bryant said.
All of that aside, Bryant is going to have his opportunity to take the spotlight against the Chiefs. Witten said the Cowboys are committed to getting their playmaker the ball, regardless of the attention paid to him.
“He’s always going to get a lot of attention. That’s from now until he stops playing, because he’s that type of player,” Witten said. “We’re getting the ball to him. I think we’re trying to get him the ball. Really, in practice you watch and you can’t get it to him enough. That’s what type of player he is. I don’t see that getting in the way moving forward. I’m sure teams are going to try to take him out of the game, but we’ll find ways like we did last year and we’ve done for the last four years of getting the ball in his hands.”
With his foot apparently in the clear for the approaching weekend, Bryant echoed those sentiments.
“I promise you, my time is coming, and when it comes I’m going to take advantage of it,” he said.
MAN FROM MONMOUTH: Miles Austin’s 2009 breakout game in Kansas City was turning point
IRVING, Texas – Some of the greatest games in Dallas Cowboys history can be categorized by a single player.
There’s a “Clint Longley Game” with his 1974 comeback throw to Drew Pearson on Thanksgiving Day. Jason Garrett has a game in beating the Packers exactly 20 years later. Even Emmitt Smith has a game with his heroic effort against the Giants in 1993.
And without a doubt, Miles Austin is included on that list. The “Miles Austin Game” occurred at the very place the Dallas Cowboys will revisit Sunday afternoon when they take on the Chiefs.
There is where Austin made his first career start, thanks to a rib injury to Roy Williams the previous week in Denver. To that point in his four-year career, Austin had played in 41 games, but had a total of 23 catches for 436 yards and four touchdowns.
Three hours later, Austin set the Cowboys’ single-game record with 250 receiving yards on 10 catches and two touchdowns, including a 60-yard score in overtime to give the Cowboys a much-needed 26-20 win over the Chiefs.
“Right at the end, we score and everyone jumps on the pile at the end …” Austin recalled. “It was a turning point for our season and obviously a turning point for me and my life. I thought it was a great team win. And I was glad to be a part of it.”
But Austin was more than just a part of it – he was basically the reason for it.
Austin had a game-tying touchdown catch over the middle in the fourth quarter. He then came back in overtime with a sideline grab before he broke a tackle attempt by Brandon Flowers and jaunted down the sideline for the score. The 250 yards broke Bob Hayes (246) single-game record for the Cowboys and marked the first time in NFL history a player recorded 250 yards in his first career start. It was also the first time in league record books a player had scored a game-winning touchdown in overtime in his first start.
The Cowboys head coach knows a thing or two about taking advantage of the moment in his own right. The win over Green Bay in 1994 is one of the more memorable moments in Cowboys history and obviously of his own career.
But as a coach, Garrett said Austin’s game in Kansas City ranks pretty high as well.
“It really was one of the best days I have been around in football – both as a player and as a coach,” said Garrett, the Cowboys offensive coordinator that day. “Miles Austin comes from Monmouth University as an undrafted free agent. He has an unbelievable way about him as a person and the approach that he takes as a football player. When a guy like that who comes from where he comes from and goes about it the way he does has that kind of success when he gets his opportunity … to this day I still kind of feel the thing down the back of my neck.
“It’s what this thing is all about. He goes about it the right way. He’s a pleasure to coach. It was a great day for him. It was a great day for our team. “
The Cowboys entered the bye week after the Chiefs game with a 3-2 record. They followed the off week by winning three straight games en route to an 11-5 season. It was also the first time the Cowboys won a playoff game since 2009.
But while Austin’s performance in Kansas City is considered his most memorable, arguably as impressive was the follow-up game he had against Atlanta the next week. Austin proved his effort against the Chiefs was no fluke by torching the Falcons for 170 yards on six catches and two more scores.
So in the first 41 games, Austin had 436 receiving yards and four touchdowns. In those two starts, he had 420 yards and four touchdowns.
“I got lucky that the two teams we played were man teams. They had no film on me,” Austin said. “I had a big play in the Atlanta game, just running across the field. It was a great two-game stretch for sure. It’s been great ever since then.”
Austin made the Pro Bowl both in 2009 and 2010 and received a monster contract extension worth $54.1 million over seven years.
Hamstring injuries have plagued him the last two seasons but he had a relatively healthy training camp and started off the 2013 campaign Sunday night by tying his career-high in catches with 10. While he didn’t go for 250 like he did in Kansas City, Austin was effective in the first half with underneath routes as the Giants took away the deep ball. He finished with a team-high 72 receiving yards.
Any time a player is coming off a game with double-digit catches, he should be a focal point for the opposing defense the following game.
Then again, considering his last trip to KC, that was probably already in the plans.
Miles Austin remembers 2009 KC game (Duration – 3:04)
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin sat down with Nick Eatman to discuss his coming out party in Kansas City in 2009.
KANSAS CITY TRADE: Chiefs special teams vet Edgar Jones to Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys traded for defensive end Edgar Jones from the Kansas City Chiefs, according to the Chiefs’ Twitter account tonight.
Jones, 28, is a special teams veteran who spent his first five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, who signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Southeast Missouri in 2007. He was a pass rusher in college but also played tight end and linebacker with the Ravens.
Jones, 6-foot-3 and 263 pounds, He will take the roster spot of Nate Livings, who was placed on injured reserve.
Jones had a special teams score in a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season.
LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE: 2013 Dallas Cowboys schedule includes Denver, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Green Bay
The Cowboys’ loss put them in third place in the NFC East, leaving them to play play third-place teams St. Louis (at home) and New Orleans (on the road) next season.
The rest of the Cowboys’ home schedule next season includes the Giants, Redskins and Eagles from the NFC East, plus Green Bay, Minnesota, Denver and Oakland.
The remaining road games for the Cowboys next year are at the Giants, Redskins, Eagles, plus Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City and San Diego.
When the NFL announces the dates, they will posted HERE (or click on the page titled NFL Schedules).
BLACK MONDAY RECAP: NFL teams cleaning house in hopes of brighter futures
Black Monday has arrived, and it has brought a lot of change and bad news for many coaches and general managers around the NFL.
We’ll have all the big moves covered, and this post will be a one-stop shop for all the latest news.
Here’s what we right know:
Arizona Cardinals: Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves are out.
Buffalo Bills: Coach Chan Gailey was let go after three seasons that went nowhere in Buffalo. The defense and quarterback play never improved. It’s unclear if general manager Buddy Nix will remain.
Chicago Bears: In the first mild surprise of the day, coach Lovie Smith was fired after three playoff appearances in nine years. General manager Phil Emery took the job last year and will hire his own man.
Cleveland Browns: The team announced Monday morning that coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert are both out. They never had much of a chance once new owner Jimmy Haslam bought the team.
Kansas City Chiefs: Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt announced the team has parted ways with coach Romeo Crennel. The team said it has not made a final decision about GM Scott Pioli’s status.
Philadelphia Eagles: Owner Jeffrey Lurie confirmed Monday morning that coach Andy Reid is out after 14 seasons in Philadelphia. The Eagles won’t waste any time starting a coaching search.
San Diego Chargers: The Chargers announced both coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith have been let go. Ron Wolf has been brought in as a consultant to help search for the next leadership group.
Up in the air
Carolina Panthers: Ron Rivera has struggled to win close games during his tenure and isn’t a natural in game management. A four-game winning streak to end the season could save his job. The Panthers will hire a new GM.
Chances of a change: Strong. The next GM will decide Rivera’s fate.
Detroit Lions: Jim Schwartz and GM Martin Mayhew pulled off one of the best rebuilding efforts of all time after taking over the 0-16 Lions. And then the bottom fell out for a talented roster this year.
Chances of a change: Growing. Multiple outlets said earlier in the week that Schwartz was safe, but Lions ownership is disturbed with the team’s culture, it could make a change. Schwartz is signed through 2015.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Mike Mularkey was hired just last year, but his boss, GM Gene Smith, was fired Monday morning. Mularkey wasn’t able to develop young quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Chances of a change: Good. Mularkey told players in a team meeting that he’s still the head coach after talking with the owner Thursday and Monday. Mularkey’s fate ultimately will be decided by the next GM. Mularkey will have to wait and see.
Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones intimated throughout the process that he hasn’t even thought about changing head coaches. NFL Network contributor Jay Glazer first reported that coach Jason Garrett was safe two weeks ago. Garrett could be asked to hire an offensive coordinator that calls plays.
New York Jets: The Jets announced that GM Mike Tannenbaum was let go Monday morning. But they also announced Rex Ryan will stay on as coach. It’s an awkward arrangement for whomever the Jets hire to run the personnel department.
Tennessee Titans: The Tennessean reported Monday that coach Mike Munchak will keep his job despite a 6-10 record. Personnel executive Mike Reinfeldt is out, though.
MANAGING EMOTIONS: Drew Pearson sees a lot of Tom Landry in Jason Garrett
ARLINGTON — The Dallas Cowboys will take the field for the next two weeks hoping to continue their run to the playoffs.
It will also be their attempt to move forward from the tragedy and emotional roller coaster they have never experienced.
The death of linebacker Jerry Brown, and the status of nose tackle Josh Brent — charged in the death of his best friend and teammate — will certainly cast a shadow on the rest of the Cowboys’ season, no matter how they finish.
“Oh, yeah, it is absolutely that,” said coach Jason Garrett, whose leadership and handling of the team during this trying situation has already been hailed as the crowning moment of his coaching tenure. “It’s an ongoing thing for a long, long time for everybody. Nobody who is associated with this organization, this football team who knows Jerry and Josh and this situation, this tragedy will never be the same as a result of it.”
The Cowboys (8-6) will use football to take their minds off the tragedy and to continue living. Making a run to the playoffs is the best way they feel they can honor Brown.
Still, some things can never be forgotten.
AROUND THE NFL: Kansas City Chiefs’ Jovan Belcher murder – suicide
KANSAS CITY, MO. — Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend Saturday morning and minutes later, holding a gun to his head, thanked his general manager and coach before shooting himself outside the team’s practice complex.
Authorities did not release a motive for the murder-suicide, though police said that Belcher and his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, had been arguing recently. The two of them have a 3-month-old girl who was being cared for by family.
Belcher thanked general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel before pulling the trigger, police spokesman Darin Snapp said. Officers had locked down the Chiefs facility by midmorning.
The team said it would play its home game against the Carolina Panthers as scheduled on Sunday at noon local time "after discussions between the league office, Head Coach Romeo Crennel and Chiefs team captains."
A spokesman for the team told The Associated Press that Crennel plans to coach on Sunday.
Belcher was a 25-year-old native of West Babylon, N.Y., on Long Island, who played college ball at Maine. He signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent, made the team and stayed with it for four years, moving into the starting lineup. He had played in all 11 games this season.
THE ROAD TO DALLAS: Kyle Orton happy to be in Big D
Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback Kyle Orton was drafted by the Chicago Bears and spent the first four years of his career in Chicago. He was 21-12 as a starter there, but the Bears traded him to Denver for Jay Cutler in 2009.
“Kyle Orton was super for us when he was here," Bears coach Lovie Smith said Thursday in a conference call with Cowboys reporters. "One of the best guys you’ll ever be around. Confident, smart, a natural born leader. He was good at everything we asked him to do while he was here. The Cowboys really did well getting him to come backup Tony.”
The Bears offense has changed since Orton was there, but the defensive scheme and many of the faces on that side of the ball are the same. So Orton has been able to help the Cowboys with some insights into the Bears’ D.
"I know the defense pretty well," Orton said. "This is a team that hasn’t changed too much [on defense]. A lot of guys around here have seen them for a while as well. You’ve just got to beat a good football team. They’re not too complicated. They’re just really good at what they do and have a lot of good players."
Even though he won’t play unless Tony Romo is injured, Orton is looking forward to seeing some old friends Monday night.
"I had four good years there," Orton said. "They’ve got a great locker room over there, a lot of great guys. Brian Urlacher is a great leader of the organization, and I really respect him and all the time I spent there."
Orton, though, was not eager to talk about the trade that sent him from Chicago to Denver. The Broncos cut him during the 2011 season, and the Chiefs claimed him off waivers. Chicago, which had lost Cutler to injury, had was interested in re-acquiring his services. The Cowboys and Bears both put in waiver claims on him, but the Chiefs had the worst record among the three teams.
Orton signed with the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent in the off-season.
"Long time ago. Different point in my career," Orton said. "I’m just happy to be where I am."
iPADS AND SHOULDER PADS: NFL starting to ditch old paper playbooks
DENVER (AP) — The days of lugging around 500-page playbooks and stacks of DVDs are over for half of the players in the NFL.
Their teams have gone digital, replacing the old-fashioned thick paper playbooks with iPads that put everything from X’s and O’s to notifications, scouting reports and video cut-ups at their fingertips.
"Technology is taking over the world and we’re just trying to keep up with it," Green Bay Packers backup quarterback Graham Harrell said.
The number of teams using iPads for playbooks and game film has increased this season from two to 14. In the NFC, the Bears, Cardinals, Cowboys, Lions, Packers, Panthers, Redskins and Seahawks are using the tablets as are the Bengals, Broncos, Chargers, Colts, Dolphins and Ravens in the AFC.
Other teams, such as the Chiefs, Titans and Saints, are using iPads for some things but haven’t completely abandoned three-ring binders, and the Bills are considering switching over next year, when the NFL makes game film available in high definition, coach Chan Gailey said.
The Ravens and Buccaneers were the first teams to go digital last year, although Tampa Bay returned to the traditional playbooks this season under a new coaching staff.
The top model iPads that feature 64 gigabytes of data and retail for $829 each are loaded with about $700 worth of programming, and most teams issue them to roughly 120 players, coaches, scouts and other personnel. That works out to roughly $180,000 per team.
Broncos video director Steve Boxer figures it will take about a year to begin realizing a cost savings from ditching the paper playbooks that consumed trees, money and manpower and kept copy machine repairmen on speed-dial.
Daily itinerary updates, diagrams and video are automatically pushed to each iPad so a player can have the video clips of a practice or game downloaded by the time he gets out of the shower. Because the video isn’t streaming, he can watch it on the airplane or at his apartment, whether or not he has a Wi-Fi connection.
Apps developed by PlayerLync in suburban Denver or Global Aptitude out of Baltimore allow players and coaches to highlight sections in yellow on the tablet’s touchscreen and to write notes with a stylus just as they would with a pencil on paper playbooks. Those notes are saved on servers and can be downloaded again at any time for future reference.
"I don’t think there’s any minuses unless you lose it and have to pay that fine," Dallas defensive end Marcus Spears said.
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."
Former Cowboys assistants Sparano, Haley, and LB Jack Del Rio ousted as head coaches this season
Two former Cowboys assistant coaches, Tony Sparano and Todd Haley, were fired from their head coaching jobs on Monday.
Sparano, a Cowboys assistant for five seasons (2003-07), was fired as head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Another former Cowboys assistant, Todd Bowles, was named as the interim head coach. Sparano was in his fourth season with the Dolphins.
In Kansas City, the Chiefs parted ways with Todd Haley after two-plus season as head coach. Haley was an assistant coach from 2004-06. He left the Cowboys to become offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals for two seasons, the final of which culminated in Arizona’s first trip to the Super Bowl.
Sparano and Haley joined Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville) as NFL head coaches who have been fired this season.
Interesting note: all three men had ties to the Dallas Cowboys. Del Rio was a linebacker for the team from 1989-91.
More about Sparano and Haley below: