The season is over and it’s time to think about a few things. For example, is Miles Austin earning his money? Is it time for Felix Jones, who’s now a free agent, to find a new team? What do the Cowboys need to stop the run in 2013? And finally, should Dallas keep cornerback Mike Jenkins?
1. In 2010, Miles Austin signed a seven-year $57.1 million contract. Austin’s deal meant a few things: He moved into an elite level in regards with his contract and was to become the No. 1 receiver on the Cowboys. After signing that deal, Dez Bryant surpassed him as a bigger threat, Austin has had just one 1,000 yard season, 2010, he fell 57 yards short of it in 2012 and his health continues to be a question. He failed to finish the game against Washington on Sunday night because of a high-ankle sprain. He’s endured hamstring issues the last two seasons. Austin is scheduled to earn $6.7 million in 2013 and it raises a question: Is Austin earning his money? I doubt if the Cowboys are going to release Austin because no matter how good Bryant is, there is still an unpredictability about him away from the field. Austin is a good player but the team needs more from him considering the money he’s making.
2. Felix Jones won’t return in 2013 but he did finish the final game of the season with 24 yards on five carries. Jones hit holes with a burst and seemed to run with little limitations. He’s battled injuries to both knees and he probably should have stayed on the bench. But he displayed a toughness that was necessary from the running back position. Jones was put in a bad situation by the Cowboys. He was drafted as a backup to then-starter Marion Barber. When Barber’s health started to betray him, the Cowboys asked Jones to become a starter but his own health failed him too. It’s time for Jones, who becomes a free agent, to find a new team and for the Cowboys to stop drafting players to become backups. If the Cowboys draft a running back this spring, it should be designed to give competition to DeMarco Murray. If Murray is better than the new back, fine, keep the job. Life for a NFL running back is dangerous. One week he’s healthy, the next he’s not and you need to have quality ones on the depth chart. Jones is an average running back, but not starters material and when it was time for him to take over for an injured Murray and Barber, he couldn’t do the job on a consistent basis.
3. Want to know why the Cowboys failed to stop the run in 2012? They lost of four players that clogged the middle of the field. Jay Ratliff (injury), Josh Brent (suspension), Sean Lee (injury) and Bruce Carter (injury) were the force up the gut for the Cowboys. When the Cowboys didn’t have Ratliff at the start of the season, the club still had Brent a solid run stopper. But when Brent was lost, Sean Lissemore was moved from defensive end to nose tackle. The Cowboys also moved Robert Callaway and signed Brian Schaefering to help inside. Lee and Carter replacements at inside linebacker were Dan Connor, Ernie Sims and at times Alex Albright. The backups failed to produce for the Cowboys as evident by the run defense allowing at least 100 yards in six of the last seven weeks of the season. Moving forward the Cowboys need to draft or sign another inside linebacker in free agency who can provide depth. The Cowboys allowed 274 rushing yards in the regular season finale and gave up at least 150 rushing yards twice and 125 or more yards five times. It’s hard to win games when that happens regularly.
4. The Cowboys have 16 unrestricted free agents and one of them is a former first-round pick, cornerback Mike Jenkins. It seems the Cowboys were never quite happy with Jenkins the entire offseason. He didn’t rehab his surgically repaired shoulder in Dallas, instead doing it in Florida. Jenkins didn’t attend the voluntary workouts, although he was there for the mandatory sessions. But as is always the case in the NFL, injuries dictate a lot of things. Jenkins saw playing time, especially when slot corner Orlando Scandrick went down with a hand injury. Jenkins even played some at safety and on special teams. It appears Jenkins may not return in 2013, leaving the Cowboys looking for a fourth corner in free agency or the draft. "Do I want to come back?" Jenkins asked. "I’ve grown attached, I’ve been here for five years, I’ve grown attached to everybody here. It’s hard to just get up and leave and not want to come back. At the same time ,you want to go somewhere and have a fair opportunity and I guess go on from there."
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys will play the only undefeated team left in the NFL on Sunday. They will play in a dome on Sunday. They will pay against an NFC South team.
What is this 2009 again?
The Cowboys hope so.
In 2009, the Cowboys beat 13-0 New Orleans inside the Superdome, 24-17.
"Going down to New Orleans I think will have a similar type feel in that you know you’re going against a great opponent that does a lot of things well and creates a lot of problems,” quarterback Tony Romo said. “You can draw on the fact of what you did as a team and individually to beat that opponent that day. What were some of the things that you were successful with, whether that was your approach, whether it was a certain fundamental thought that gave you a chance to do something … I don’t want to give away too much, but that allowed you have a chance to be a little better."
A fast start is a must.
“I can remember playing against New Orleans down there I think when they were undefeated and I think we scored pretty early in that game and that helped out a lot so …,” Romo said.
The Cowboys scored touchdowns on their first two drives of the game for a 14-0 lead with 5:15 left in the opening quarter. Romo hit Miles Austin for a 49-yard score to open the game and Marion Barber followed it with a 3-yard TD run as the Cowboys went on their way to a 24-17 win against the Saints.
That win propelled the Cowboys to the playoffs. At 3-4, the Cowboys could use a similar boost with a win Sunday at Atlanta.
“I just think we know we have to go up there and play our best game,” Romo said, “and do the little things right that give you a chance to win football games.”
"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.
Running back Felix Jones said he is lighter as he gets ready for the offseason program.
“I’m a little lighter,” he said Wednesday night at a charity event in Grapevine, asked by reporters what he is doing to get himself ready for the season. “Going to try something new this year and just see how it goes.”
Jones was listed at 217 pounds last year, and he was listed at 220 going into the previous year. He came out of college listed between 200 and 207 pounds.
He said he’s ready for the year to get going and to meet new offensive linemen Mackenzie Bernardeau and Nate Livings, the massive guards signed to give the Cowboys more bulk in the middle.
“As long as those guys get in the way and block, they’re here for a reason,” Jones said with a smile.
Jones, entering his fifth year with the Cowboys, said he was surprised to hear of the retirement of former teammate Marion Barber. They played together three years in Dallas.
“It was news. It kind of shocked me,” Jones said. “But you know, it’s a decision. I’m behind him 100 percent. He had a great career. He was a great teacher, a great mentor. I thank him for that, and I wish him the best.”
Jason Garrett said the retirement announcement of Marion Barber surprised him and said the former Cowboys running back was a pleasure to coach.
“Talk about the right kind of guy,” Garrett said. “He was physical, he was tough, he was passionate, he loved to play football, and we loved having him on our football team. Fourth-round pick. Did a lot of good things for us.”
Barber played for the Chicago Bears last season after the Cowboys released him before training camp.
“He was someone I really enjoyed being around as a person and as a player,” Garrett said.
Barber ran for 4,358 yards and 47 touchdowns in six seasons with the Cowboys. After he scored 24 touchdowns in two seasons despite not being a starter, the Cowboys signed him to a seven-year contract worth $45 million, with $16 million guaranteed.
He had 885 and 932 yards in his next two years, but only 374 in 2010 and was released in 2011 before training camp.
He had 422 yards and six touchdowns with the Bears last year.
Former Cowboys running back Marion Barber, who played last season with the Chicago Bears, has decided to retire.
The Bears made the announcement on Friday.
Barber, 28, played six seasons with the Cowboys. He joined the Bears last season as a backup to Matt Forte. He no longer had a future in Chicago after the Bears signed Michael Bush early this week to be Forte’s backup in 2012.
Barber had his best year in 2006 when he scored a league leading 14 touchdowns. He rushed for 975 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2007 when he made the Pro Bowl.
Barber never came close to those numbers again because of injuries and wear and tear on his body from his bulldozing, barbaric style of running.
“I want to thank everyone who helped me become a better player,” Barber told ChicagoBears.com. “I owe a lot to a lot of coaches, and am also very grateful to the owners and organizations I played for. Last but not least, I want to thank the fans for the support and inspiration they gave me.”
IRVING (AP) – Owner Jerry Jones has repeatedly said the Dallas Cowboys are just getting started with Jason Garrett as their head coach.
For a core group of veteran players such as Tony Romo, Jason Witten and DeMarcus Ware, losing yet another season finale with a playoff spot on the line is another chance lost.
An 8-8 season that raises questions about the future of some of the other players who have been around, and where the still-average Cowboys go next after Garrett’s first full season.
“We have to take advantage of their talent and experience, players like Romo and Witten, a lot of those players, because they’re not going to be around forever,” Jones said. “We have to accept this and move forward.”
That means accepting that Dallas lost four of its last five games, including 31-14 against the New York Giants in the finale Sunday night that determined the NFC East champion and sent the Cowboys home for another long offseason.
“Now we’re watching the (playoff) games this week. I encouraged them to remember the feeling that we had after the game,” Garrett said Monday after wrapping up individual meetings with each player. “You have to keep that feeling, you have to make that palpable as you go forward and use it as a motivation to get better, individually and collectively as a team.”
This has been a very average team since winning three Super Bowls in a four-year period in the first half of the 1990s. The Cowboys are 120-120 in the regular season since the start of 1997, a 15-season span with one playoff victory in seven postseason appearances.
Running back Felix Jones returned to practice Wednesday. Though he was limited, he is expected to play Sunday. How much remains to be seen.
In the four games Jones has been out rehabbing a high left ankle sprain, DeMarco Murray has rushed for 601 yards. Murray averaged 21.5 touches in those four games.
“We certainly like Felix Jones,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday. “He’s been a very strong contributor to our football team the last few years both running the football and also as a pass receiver, so we want to get him back involved in it. We certainly want to continue to hand the ball to DeMarco Murray and also throw it to him. He’s been a big factor in some of our success on offense in recent weeks. So we want to make sure he continues to get his opportunities, and we’ll continue to get Felix back in the flow of things on offense assuming his ankle gets better and better as the week goes on.”
Murray has averaged 6.7 yards a rush. Jones has averaged 4.0. But Jones has yet to have both left guard Montrae Holland and fullback Tony Fiammetta as blockers. Holland and Fiammetta have played a part in the emergence of the Cowboys’ running game.
Jones is expected to be the third-down back and spell Murray, which is what he has done much of his college and pro career. He split carries with Darren McFadden and Peyton Hillis at Arkansas and shared the load with Marion Barber and Tashard Choice in his first three seasons in Dallas.
“I think that’s the way a lot of backs are working as they come out of school,” Garrett said. “I think he’s comfortable doing that. It’s not like he’s a guy who needs 25 carries to get that sweat going. He can go in there and catch the ball out of the backfield, run the football, play on third downs. He seems to have a comfort level doing that. So we’ll try to get him back out there and get him some touches and get him going again.”
Garrett said the Cowboys have talked about using Jones as a kick returner again. He did not return any kicks last season, but has had 46 returns in his career for a 24.2 average and one touchdown.
“We’ve certainly thought about that, but again we just want to get him healthy and then hopefully get him back going on offense,” Garrett said. “We’ll make those other decisions as it goes.”
Here are the notes compiled by the Cowboys’ after the game:
The Dallas Cowboys 37-point win (44-7) tied the 10th-largest margin of victory in team history. It was the club’s biggest win since defeating Arizona (10/22/00) by 41 points (48-7).
Dallas’ 44 points scored today were the most for the club since racking up 45 against the N.Y. Giants (9/9/07).
The Cowboys scored a touchdown on each of their first four drives today. It was the first time the club scored a touchdown on its first three drives since doing so against Seattle (11/27/08). We are looking into the last time the club managed a touchdown on each of the first four drives, and that will not be completed tonight.
Dallas’ 28 points scored in the first half today was the most for the club in the first half since scoring 28 against Detroit (10/19/03).
Dallas also converted eight-of-12 third down opportunities. The club’s 66.7 third down conversion percentage was the third-most in team history as far back that can be researched today. The top-two spots were a 72.7 percentage(eight-of-11) at Atlanta (10/29/95) and at Cleveland (9/7/08).
For the second consecutive week, the Cowboys had three interceptions in a game. It was the 13th time in franchise history Dallas had back-to-back three-interception games. The others were in 1967, 70, 73, 77, 80, 81 (twice), 82, 83, 84, 94 and 2007.
With 433 yards of offense today, the Cowboys have five games with 400-or-more yards this season. It ties the third-highest figure in team history. The highest was eight (2009), followed by six (1979, 81, 83, 2007 and 2010) and five (1966, 68, 71, 76, 78, 86 and 88).