AFC WILD-CARD ROUND
NFC WILD-CARD ROUND
SATURDAY, JAN. 4, AND SUNDAY, JAN. 5, times TBA
SATURDAY, JAN. 4, AND SUNDAY, JAN. 5, times TBA
No. 5 Kansas City Chiefs at
No. 4 Indianapolis Colts
No. 5 San Francisco 49ers at
No. 4 Green Bay Packers
No. 6 San Diego Chargers at
No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals
No. 6 New Orleans Saints at
No. 3 Philadelphia Eagles
AFC DIVISIONAL ROUND
NFC DIVISIONAL ROUND
SATURDAY, JAN. 11, AND SUNDAY, JAN. 12, times TBA
SATURDAY, JAN. 11, AND SUNDAY, JAN. 12, times TBA
No. 1 Denver Broncos
No. 1 Seattle Seahawks
No. 2 New England Patriots
No. 2 Carolina Panthers
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
SUNDAY, JAN. 19, time TBA
SUNDAY, JAN. 19, time TBA
TBA at TBA
TBA at TBA
SUPER BOWL XLVIII
SUNDAY, FEB. 2, 6:30 p.m. ET
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
The major pieces are back: General manager Jerry Reese, coach Tom Coughlin, quarterback Eli Manning, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, both coordinators and (probably) receiver Victor Cruz. The Giants did release veterans Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Boley and Chris Canty, but there is young depth at those positions. The David Wilson-Andre Brown combination looks ready to carry the load at running back. Plus, Reese has earned a level of faith throughout the years to keep the team in the hunt without a complete rebuild.
Biggest free agents
WR Victor Cruz: Cruz is restricted, but it’s hard to believe some team wouldn’t be willing to give up a second-round draft pick for the young Pro Bowler. The two sides sound like they are far apart in negotiations, but there’s no way the Giants will let him walk after consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
LB Chase Blackburn: Led the team with 93 tackles and added three sacks, an interception and four forced fumbles. He was a full-time starter for the first time in 2012, but will turn 30 years old in June.
LT Will Beatty: Pro Football Focus rated him the No. 4 free-agent tackle based on his performance last season. The 2009 second-round draft pick will turn 28 in March and has his entire career ahead of him.
TE Martellus Bennett: Broke out in his first year as a Giant with career-highs in receptions (55), yards (626) and touchdowns (five) after four disappointing years with the Dallas Cowboys.
Other key free agents: LG Kevin Boothe, SS Stevie Brown (restricted), DE Osi Umenyiora, WR Domenik Hixon, LB Keith Rivers, CB Kenny Phillips.
What they need
Consistency, especially on defense. The Giants looked like the best team in the NFL at times and didn’t make the playoffs in 2012. The defense allowed the second-most yards per game, but had the No. 12-ranked scoring defense. That often means too many big plays. The run defense ranked No. 25 and the pass defense was No. 28. That’s very un-Giant-like. Injuries haven’t helped the offense, but Manning needs to live up to that elite status on a weekly basis. They’ll also need some offensive line help if Beatty and Boothe leave via free agency.
Offseason crystal ball
The Giants remain a championship contender that will make smallish tweaks without a disruption of their core. The organization has missed the playoffs just three times in the last eight seasons. The Giants will continue to have a puncher’s chance with Manning under center, but their defense was the problem in 2012 and that’s something Coughlin won’t accept.
The biggest change in Washington is that the team finally has a winner again. It was a tale of two seasons in 2012; after a 3-6 start, the Redskins were all but done. Then, they reeled off a seven-game winning streak and won the NFC East — the NFL’s biggest rivalry division — for the first time since 1999.
In 2013, the team’s fortunes hinge squarely on whether Robert Griffin III can be the same player he was before tearing his ACL for a second time and injuring his LCL. Griffin, 23, should be ready for Week 1, but it’s anyone’s guess at this point. Kirk Cousins has proven to be a fine backup in his stead, but Cousins isn’t going to put up 4,015 total yards and 27 overall touchdowns like Griffin did in 2012. The coaching staff remains largely unchanged outside of new special teams coordinator Keith Burns, who played on the Broncos’ two Super Bowl-winning teams, coached by Mike Shanahan, and later coached under him after his playing days ended.
Biggest Free Agents
» TE Fred Davis: Coming off a season-ending Achilles tear on the field and being one strike away from feeling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s wrath off the field, questions abound regarding Davis. Fewer teams will have an interest in pursuing Davis, but he’s proven to be an important piece in the franchise’s young offense. Will the Redskins ink him to a long-term deal?
» LB Lorenzo Alexander: You would think that Alexander would be rewarded for his Pro Bowl season as a special teamer with a new contract. He strengthened his case for a bigger deal by handling the transition to inside linebacker well.
» DT/DE Kedric Golston: Golston played in every game last season as a backup, and his durability provides the defensive line with needed consistency. Plus, he’s versatile enough to play both the end and tackle spots. I don’t see any reason why the team wouldn’t keep him.
» Other key free agents: LB Rob Jackson, TE Logan Paulsen, S Madieu Williams, P Sav Rocca, CB Cedric Griffin, LB Chris Wilson.
What They Need
The Redskins need to fix the defense. Their pass defense ranked 30th in the NFL and 31st overall in touchdowns allowed. On third downs, they struggled to stop anybody. While defensive line is the Redskins’ deepest position right now, their biggest offseason need is at safety. Sitting at roughly $4.7 million over the cap and without a first-round pick after giving up the farm to take Griffin at No. 2 in last year’s draft, GM Bruce Allen and Shanahan will have to get creative in addressing that position.
The Redskins have long needed a true No. 1 receiver. Last season’s combined production of Pierre Garcon, who had injury problems, and Santana Moss makes for a nice No. 1 wideout, but individually, they’re not among the league leaders. Fans are clamoring for a big playmaker at receiver who can attract double teams and take the pressure off Griffin. The defensive backfield needs big-time help and talent, especially at safety, as does a thin offensive line.
Protecting RG3 is paramount. Look for the Redskins to draft an offensive lineman or two to shore up depth and versatility. The Redskins led the league in rushing at 169.3 yards per game, a high bar to set in year one of this new-look offense.
Offseason Crystal Ball
As they enter the second offseason of an $18 million cap hit hindering their plans, it’s up to Allen and Shanahan to get resourceful with the roster. An interesting subplot to follow is whether the team extends a long-term offer to Brian Orakpo, who went down with a season-ending pectoral injury in Week 2. Orakpo’s absence was noticeable, but given his injury history, the team likely has doubts about his long-term future.
Combine the team being $4.7 million over the cap with the league’s $18 million reduction plus the lack of a first-round pick, and it’s easy to say the Redskins won’t be their typically aggressive selves this offseason. Still, this is Dan Snyder’s team, and as long as he’s running it, the Redskins are liable to make a big splash in free agency.
Another change to the NFL Scouting Combine’s testing is on the way.
The combine’s testing has been tweaked over the years, and a significant adaptation is coming. The league plans to implement a second aptitude test to the itinerary for players this week, according to National Football Scouting president Jeff Foster.
An NFL source confirmed that the test will be part of this year’s combine.
Foster said the test is not a replacement for, but rather a counterpart to, the much-criticized Wonderlic test. The Wonderlic has been used at the combines for decades since its origination as an intelligence test in the 1970s by legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry. The Wonderlic’s usefulness and the ethics of relying on it have been sources of debate over the years.
According to Foster, the league spent time developing the new test with a university professor. The hope is that “it’s something that’s a little more evolved than the Wonderlic.”
Clubs have long expressed the importance of years of data built up on tried-and-true testing and measurements, enabling balanced comparisons, so Foster and other combine officials always have been reluctant to eliminate elements from the combine. A recent example is the addition of wingspan to measurements. Some people voiced concerns that wingspan is a more illuminating measurement than arm length, so it was added to the combine, but arm length wasn’t eliminated.
NFL analyst Bryan Broaddus was one of many attendees for Jason Garrett’s near-hour-long press conference at Valley Ranch yesterday. The coach discussed the new faces on his staff but the tone of the press conference centered more on the play-calling aspect with Garrett suggesting a change could occur with Bill Callahan perhaps calling the plays in 2013 but a decision hasn’t been made.
With Jason Garrett saying a decision hasn’t been made on the play-calling, do you think it’s important to get that finalized sooner than later?
Broaddus: I thought that Garrett gave an interesting answer today when he spoke about how this process has been going on for a couple of seasons now and how it continues to evolve from year to year. From my experience in the NFL, the coaches as a collective group have always put the game plans together and the play caller relies on their input throughout the week but in the game as well. I remember in Green Bay how Andy Reid, Jon Gruden and Sherman Lewis would not only get the plan together but would install it during the week but on game day, Mike Holmgren took the play card and called the plays but I also do remember times where Holmgren would get in a rut and he would let Lewis take a series or two. There were even times in the preseason where Holmgren would let Lewis or Reid call the entire game. I think you will see Garrett take the same approach this summer in training camp and allow Callahan to calls these games and they will make their adjustments from there. As long as things are ironed out before the season starts that’s all that really matters.
If Bill Callahan ends up calling the plays, what do you know about his offensive philosophy?
Broaddus: I have worked with Bill Callahan before in Philadelphia and I have known him since he was a college coach at Wisconsin. Garrett was right when he said that Bill had been exposed to several different kinds of schemes. At Wisconsin they were a tough, physical smash you in the mouth offense under Barry Alvarez. He moved on to Philadelphia where Jon Gruden was taking the West Coast approach that he learned from Bill Walsh and Mike Holmgren but also screen packages that he copied from Bob Schnelker from the Vikings but also thoughts from Paul Hackett while Gruden was at Pittsburgh as a receiver coach. There is no doubt that Callahan was most influenced by Gruden and you could see that with their teams in Oakland. Not only did they have to deal with Al Davis in his desire to get the ball down the field in the passing game but they were able to come up with a physical running game with an offensive line with size but backs like Tyrone Wheatley, Jon Ritchie and Zack Crockett that could hammer the ball at you. If Callahan in fact does get the play calling duties, I believe that you will not only see things that Jason Garrett has brought to this offense but a mixture of some of the schemes that he and Gruden had success with in Oakland.
What are your thoughts on Garrett saying part of the decision to change to a 4-3 scheme centered on the ability to learn it quickly?
Broaddus: I worked in this scheme before as a pro scout in 2000-2003 so I have a decent understand of what it takes to have some success in it. When you watched those old Buccaneers squads under Kiffin, the one thing you noticed is how much they gave you the same look with some variations but it was more about the players playing the same scheme over and over but doing it really well. Sure there were some talented defensive players for Tampa but you didn’t see their defense give up huge plays or busts in coverage. It was sound and solid, sure you saw Kiffin adjusting his fronts and creating blitzes but to generate pressure but it wasn’t to the point where it was down after down. It is a simple scheme to play front and coverage wise because you don’t line up all over the place. You play with speed and you make the offense work to have to move the ball on you. There were plenty of moving parts to Rob Ryan’s scheme but that was the way he coached and that is okay but it puts a great deal of pressure on your defense to have to make adjustments even up until the time the ball is snapped and that at times put the players in bad positions. This defense doesn’t require all the bells and whistles, it just requires you to play in coverage and run to the ball which makes it easier to play.
Courtesy: Courtesy: Bryan Broaddus | NFL Analyst/Scout
With only one game remaining for the NFL 2012-2013 season, it’s time to prepare for the dreaded offseason of intermittent news and information. Of course, to feed your Dallas Cowboys hunger pains, you can visit here, or better yet … sign up for automatic email notifications or RSS feeds. Rest assured, we’ll be hitting the streets and posting the very latest on the ‘boys during the dreaded offseason!
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The Super Bowl party has become one of the biggest social events on the calendar. A party up there in stature and anticipation like parties for New Year’s Eve, Halloween and WrestleMania.
And since many of you don’t bother to read this far and just skip to the list, much like how you will make a b-line to the beer fridge at the party, let’s just get to it.
This is the ideal The Boys Are Back reader. Just because this guy’s team was eliminated is no reason for him not to say why these two teams are terrible. You know, the two teams playing in the Super Bowl. Get ready for three hours of why his team will be playing in the game next year. Just nod your head and say, “Yeah, it sure does sound like next year is going to be the year for the Cowboys.” “No way it goes bad for Tony Romo again.”
Every time Colin Kaepernick does something great, this guy will be quick to tell you he picked up the young signal caller on the waiver wire last year and rode him to fantasy victory! Or drone on about how Mark Sanchez’s fumble sealed his title. What’s worse, this guy will likely show up with his fantasy football trophy and make you pose with him.
I’m just here for the commercials
At least one party guest will take great pride in the fact he doesn’t watch football and revel in his ignorance. And why he’s at a Super Bowl party, we have no idea. He’s also the (expletive) who becomes annoyed if you talk during the commercials (it’s the best part!) and can’t understand why you went outside to smoke during the halftime show. He’s guaranteed to root for the team you don’t want to win, too.
The misguided know it all
This fan is the opposite of the well informed The Boys Are Back reader! You can’t miss this guy because he’s going to talk louder than the TV, no matter how many times you continue to increase the volume. Best of all, most of his statements will be wrong. He’ll say things like, “I loved Coopernick (sic) when he played at UNLV.” Sure you did. He’ll often feel like he has to talk down to the women folk, most of whom has a better understanding of the NFL and will gleefully point out KAEPERNICK played at Nevada, not UNLV. That moment will probably be the highlight of your day.
Look who just got a brand new T-shirt from NFL Shop! But you can tell he isn’t a real hardcore fan by the surprise on their face when you say former Raiders receiver Jerry Rice actually started his career with the 49ers. Get ready to be stunned, but this is also likely a fan of the Yankees, Celtics and the Empire in “Star Wars.”. He does not know who Paul Tagliabue is or was, but the name sounds familiar. He insists he’s been pulling for SF or Baltimore for years! Testing this ‘fan’ is always interesting and entertaining.
This person loves the team, or at least that’s the conclusion we can draw from the back tattoo. So why and the hell are they here? Hardcore fans are no fun because if their team loses, we all lose. Most of us just want to sit around, enjoy the game and maybe crack a few jokes. You can’t do that if you have one hardcore fan there. You have to root for their team, or your life is miserable. And if there are hardcore fans from both teams, it’s even worse.
So don’t worry diehard fan, we’ll smooth things out with your spouse (who is likely making you go). You just sit home and enjoy the game.
Ok. Did we forget anyone? What kind of fan category do you fall into?
ETERNAL CONFIDENENCE: From Pro Bowl, Jason Witten displays optimism for the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys
Last year, it was Jason Witten who told reporters before the start of training camp that it “can’t be the same’ ol story” in 2012.
In reality, it was the sequel to 2011, about as similar as Hangover and Hangover 2. And now the Cowboys must figure out how to cure this hangover as well this year and not go down another 8-8 road where they miss the playoffs on the final week of the season.
At the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, a game that seemed to have better quality of play this year although it was still a scoring-fest, Witten wasn’t a big factor in the NFC’s 62-35 win. He had two catches for 12 yards as one of two Cowboys in the game. Anthony Spencer, playing most as a linebacker in a 4-3 scheme and wasn’t allowed to blitz, had a pair of tackles. Actually, Witten’s backup in the game, Minnesota’s Kyle Rudolph, won MVP honors with five catches for 122 yards and a touchdown.
But after the game, Witten was asked about the Cowboys’ chances of turning things around this year. And like always, the eternal optimist sounded confident – not only that things can get better next year, but the right people are in place.
In one 30-second answer on the field, Witten referenced the three people who have been taken the most criticism in the last year and last few seasons as well.
“Well it’s any time you don’t make the playoffs, it’s challenging,” Witten said. “I think we have a great head coach in Jason Garrett, and obviously great ownership – the Jones family – you trust they’re going to get you back to the top. It’s a commitment. It’s a tough league. But we have the right people – great leader in Tony (Romo). Hopefully we’ll bounce back and be better in 2013.”
At least Witten shares the same sentiments as most fans and critics of this team. The simple reference “bounce back” after an 8-8 season suggests 2012 wasn’t just a year that had some good and some bad. It’s a year where the Cowboys simply failed to get to their destination – once again.
He calls Romo a “great leader” but it’s Witten, and that attitude, is something these Cowboys need to adopt and follow.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell threatened to cancel future Pro Bowls if the players didn’t pick up the effort. He got his wish — for the most part.
The NFC won 62-35 and the game didn’t have any blatant episodes of guys loafing like the 2012 version. Part of that can be attributed to Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who spoke to the entire group of participants (see article below) and called the last two years “unacceptable.”
“Peyton said some things and guys took it personal,” Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson said during a sideline interview.
New York Giants star receiver Victor Cruz agreed.
“It was a little more high intensity than in years’ past,” he said. “It really did feel like a real game out there. People were hitting. It wasn’t touch football; guys were laying some licks. It had the energy of a real game. My body feels like it just went through a real game.”
Peterson’s teammate, Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, was named Pro Bowl MVP after catching five balls for 122 yards during a second-quarter stretch when the NFC pulled away.
There were a few questionable moments. Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil pulled up when he had a blindside shot to sack Saints quarterback Drew Brees at one point. But there were also hustle moments. Saints punter Thomas Morstead chased down Chiefs safety Eric Berry from behind and was carried into the end zone during an interception return after a botched field-goal attempt. There were even a few solid hits.
Goodell got what he wanted. Defenders actually tackled. No one was injured. There was a reverse on a kick return and a trick onside kick. Watt even got bloody early in the game.
“It definitely was better, especially compared to last few years,” said Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, who played in a record-tying 12th Pro Bowl. “That’s all they (NFL decision-makers) really want to see. It felt more like a real game. No one let people run past them.”
The overall feeling was that Sunday was a marked improvement from recent Pro Bowls.
Kareem Copeland | NFL.com Around the League Writer
President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, have two daughters. If they had a son, Obama isn’t sure that football would be an option for him.
“I’m a big football fan, but I have to tell you if I had a son, I’d have to think long and hard before I let him play football,” he said in an interview with the New Republic. “And I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence.
“In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won’t have to examine our consciences quite as much.
Obama isn’t asked what changes could be made, nor does he indicate if he’ll have a role in making changes happen. He believes a bigger concern for the sport comes from the college level, which acts as the NFL’s feeder system.
“I tend to be more worried about college players than NFL players in the sense that the NFL players have a union, they’re grown men, they can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well-compensated for the violence they do to their bodies,” he said. “You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on. That’s something that I’d like to see the NCAA think about.”
The NFL has taken steps to improve player safety, and Obama touches on the fine line the league must walk on this issue. The NFL has the responsibility of protecting the long-term health of its players while continuing to produce an exciting and profitable product. In a game with inherent violence and injury risk, that’s no easy task
Dan Hanzus | NFL Around the League Writer
MOBILE, Ala. — Jerry Jones wanted uncomfortable. He openly spoke about an offseason with everyone being on edge.
Wish granted. This is what it feels like.
NFL personnel people pulling friends aside and wondering, “What’s going on with the Dallas Cowboys?” The team’s owner speaking with reporters for 30 minutes to address the issue of who will take over as offensive play caller, only to leave those listening with merely an indication of the team’s direction. Jones and head coach Jason Garrett both embracing a reality neither has supported in the past.
Oh, and the Cowboys still trying to climb out of a ditch, as Jones put it.
Yup. These are the Dallas Cowboys of 2013. The reality is, these circumstances are setting Garrett up for a make-or-break season, which of course is better than not having the opportunity to return in the first place.
“We’ve got a lot of things about our team — the problem is a deal called 8-8,” Jones said while sitting on the NFL Network set following a Senior Bowl practice Tuesday. “When you’re 8-8 and the rules say, ‘We want everybody to be equal,’ you’ve got to break out of the ditch that we’re in at 8-8. That’s promoting some of the changes we’re making. To step this thing up.”
What have the Cowboys done this offseason, which began abruptly after Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins took Dallas’ playoff spot in a de facto NFC East title game? Plenty of restructuring.
Offensive coordinator Bill Callahan likely will call plays, taking over the role from Garrett. Soon-to-be 73-year-old Monte Kiffin, back in the NFL after a lackluster stint in the college game, will be the team’s defensive coordinator. Former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is the defensive line coach. Jason Garrett’s brother, John, was re-routed to Tampa Bay to become the Buccaneers’ receivers coach. There will be more tinkering.
NFL people raised their eyebrows about the move to hire the master of the Tampa 2. Could be genius. Could be … not. For his part, Kiffin laughed about his age.
“I wouldn’t have come back if I didn’t think I could do it,” Kiffin said. “I’m excited. I know before the game, they don’t say, ‘How tall are you, how much do you weigh, how old are you?’ They don’t as a player. It’s, ‘Let’s go play.’ So, ‘Let’s go coach.’ “
As Kiffin slowly morphs the defense, installing the 4-3 scheme for which he believes the personnel is better suited, Garrett will watch the offensive adjustments from not quite as close. In his new role, Garrett will be free to focus on in-game situations, time management and other head-coaching duties he had no choice but to short-change while simultaneously serving as offensive play caller. Jones says Garrett encouraged this shift. Perhaps that’s true. But on Tuesday, while speaking with local reporters before Jones had officially announced the news, Garrett simultaneously supported a move away from calling plays while pointing out that there’s nothing that says a coach can’t call plays and master in-game situations. Um, OK then.
“I’ve been on teams where it’s worked a lot of different ways,” Garrett told reporters. “This idea that there’s no way you can call plays and handle the game situations … We’ve come back in a lot of games and handled game situations really well, and sometimes we haven’t handled them as well.”
The Cowboys love Garrett as a leader. The brass was especially pleased with his delicate and masterful handling of the off-the-field drama that followed the death of practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown and the related DWI incarceration of defensive tackle Josh Brent. And it was noted that Garrett somehow managed to sidestep a PR disaster when Brent appeared on the sidelines for a game after the incident by making sure it wouldn’t happen again while also refusing to treat Brent as an outcast. The doors of the facility were always open to Brent. Players noticed. Everyone did.
In an unfortunate coincidence, Garrett and the Cowboys suddenly found themselves facing another drunk-driving issue: Starting nose tackle Jay Ratliff was arrested and charged with DWI early Tuesday after his pickup truck struck an 18-wheeler. The coach’s handling of this situation will be closely monitored.
But the fight the Cowboys showed in 2012 when they were down in games — which happened frequently — demanded attention. Oh, and Garrett also helped the ‘Boys overcome a slow start to win five of their first six in the second half of the season, putting them in position to … lose their final two games and come up short for the playoffs.
Now, it seems, he has one more year to make it happen. Is it playoffs or bust? It might not be so simple. What if the Cowboys start out slow and look anemic, as they did this past season? Could Garrett withstand a limp out of the gate?
What if they make the playoffs and lose? Does he have enough job security to handle that?
The Cowboys believe in Garrett. They have since they sunk millions into him as an offensive play caller. They’ve believed in the process. It took them to the brink of the playoffs, but no further.
And now? They have stripped away the foundation and rebuilt. New defense. New offensive play caller. A new focus for the head coach. And a new view of the timetable facing Garrett going into his third full season at the helm.
Only time will tell if the new approach yields different results.
Courtesy: Ian Rapoport | Reporter, NFL.com and NFL Network
Editors comments; Pardon the negativity from the official National Football League’s website, much of which (NOT ALL) was edited out. The interpretation of the Valley Ranch changes should be one of optimism and one of an owner (and general manager) searching for answers …and a turnaround. Listen to the actual words from Jerry Jones in the video to get a sense of what the real intention are here. Try to overlook the NFL websites attempt to kill the golden goose (Dallas Cowboys). Without the Dallas Cowboys, what is the NFL? The irresponsible reporting from Ian Rapoport and Gregg Rosenthal (editor) are beyond contempt. It’s beyond me how the official website of the National Football League can justify bias reporting and pandering against the Dallas Cowboys. You’d expect a balanced, factual based account of all 32 teams … not idiotic statements from these two jackass yahoo’s in a suit. Publish facts as responsible journalists and let the readers decide.
I published this post to make several points. Namely, listen to the actual voices (in there entirety) of role-players (and decision makers) that matter … Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, Jason Garrett, coaches, staff, and players … and rely on this blog if you want ACTUAL factual coverage of the Dallas Cowboys and their quest to remain America’s Team. 99% of the time you’ll find articulate and accurate representations of facts from skilled and informed sports journalists … the ones that have earned trust.
2012 DALLAS COWBOYS IN REVIEW: National Football League website writers voice opinions about America’s Team
Various writers on the National Football League’s website have recently expressed opinions about the 2012-2013 Dallas Cowboys, the Rob Ryan firing, head coach Jason Garrett, and owner/general manager Jerry Jones.
Two of these writers are prominent, others are either out of touch or rarely heard from in their Dallas Cowboys’ coverage. Even the writers with the least accurate overview of the Cowboys, do make certain points worthy of noting. Check it out and decide for yourself. As always, your comments are welcome.
Dallas Cowboys’ problem in 2012: Rob Ryan or something else?
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones promised change was coming this offseason, and the first major ax fell earlier this week on defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Jones cited two specific games where the defense didn’t play well in explaining the team’s decision to fire Ryan. It begs the question: Was defense the biggest reason the Cowboys missed the playoffs again?
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com says …
The defense was the least of the Dallas Cowboys’ problems
Rob Ryan coached circles around Jason Garrett, given the talent and injuries he had to deal with over the past two years. Garrett’s offenses are so often sloppy and unimaginative. His game-day management also leaves a lot to be desired. Still, that’s not the biggest reason the Cowboys missed the playoffs. Owner Jerry Jones — general manager and enabler — is the common thread running through more than a decade-and-a-half of disappointment in Big D.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com says …
Dallas needs a more established coordinator
Yes, I think defense was Dallas’ biggest issue. The Cowboys spent a lot of money and a high draft pick on improving that unit, but it performed worse in many ways in 2012. Dallas regressed in interceptions (from 15 in 2011 to seven — an all-time low — in 2012), takeaways (plus-four to minus-13), rushing yards allowed (1,585 to 2,003) and points allowed (347 to 400).
I know people talk about injuries, but one could argue that the Green Bay Packers had bigger injury issues on defense, losing key players like Charles Woodson, and they still won 11 games.
There were a lot of questions when Ryan was hired, considering that he’d never been a coordinator for a team with a winning record. He and coach Jason Garrett just have completely different personalities. The Cowboys had trouble with basic things like getting the right number of players on the field.
I think the Cowboys are going to go out and hire an established, older defensive coordinator; I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Monte Kiffin is brought aboard. But that’s just a wild guess.
Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com says …
LOOKING FORWARD: The future of the NFL Pro Bowl could incorporate the NCAA Senior Bowl (Special Feature)
So what would a Pro Bowl-less NFL calendar look like? According to NFL.com’s Albert Breer, one possibility would be replacing the game with a college all-star game.
Breer writes that the AFC and NFC’s all-star team could be recognized at the NFL Honors award show on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, with the college players hitting the field after.
"That game would likely be an existing college event, most likely the Senior Bowl, which would be moved to be part of the NFL calendar, with the thought that it could kick off draft season and highlight prospects on a bigger stage, though the league would certainly be careful about NCAA rules entanglements," Breer writes.
The concept would be to mix today’s stars with future stars. Breer’s well-researched piece has comments from NFL executive vice president of business ventures Eric Grubman, who sounds like he doesn’t see a traditional Pro Bowl in the future.
The 2013 salary cap is tentatively slated to be at or just below $121 million, according to NFL sources.
The values for restricted free agent designations and franchise tenders have also been set. Below are the tentative franchise tag and transition tag numbers for each position, in millions.
These figures were distributed in early December at the annual meeting of team owners in Dallas. They will likely be finalized in March.
CB: Franchise: $10.668 Transition: $8.939
DE: Franchise: $10.984 Transition: $8.994
DT: Franchise: $8.306 Transition: $6.919
K/P: Franchise: $2.926 Transition: $2.654
LB: Franchise: $9.455 Transition: $8.216
OL: Franchise: $9.660 Transition: $8.560
QB: Franchise: $14.642 Transition: $12.845
RB: Franchise: $8.079 Transition: $6.851
S: Franchise: $6.798 Transition: $5.899
TE: Franchise: $5.962 Transition: $5.105
WR: Franchise: $10.357 Transition: $8.716
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.
NFL Films has compiled a Super Bowl collection with 45 hours of content that features highlights from all 46 of the games.
The 23 DVDs and a 26-page retrospective book with a foreword by the late Steve Sabol will be released through Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment on Nov. 13. It also includes an NFL Network program counting down the top 10 Super Bowls, and a year-in-review film for each team that lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Since 1965, NFL Films has been a ground breaker in telling the stories of the league. It has won 107 Emmy awards.
Founded by Ed Sabol, his son Steve began as a cinematographer and eventually became president of the company. Steve Sabol died in September, a year after being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"Steve always loved the Super Bowl films," said Todd Schmidt, senior producer at NFL Films. "He either cut them himself or put one of the top producers on it. Steve knew that the Super Bowl transcended the average football fan and he wanted films that told the story in historical context with an emphasis on the personal triumph on the largest stage imaginable."
Sabol was one of a handful of people who attended every Super Bowl. So his perspective from the days of Paul Hornung and Joe Namath to the Steel Curtain, the West Coast offense and the Mannings at quarterback was particularly insightful.
"The first law in the entertainment business is that you have to know how to put on a big show," Sabol wrote in the foreword. "After 46 years, the Super Bowl isn’t merely big, it’s an enormous, excessive, preposterous extravaganza — which is what’s so great about it."
IRVING, Texas – If one team beat another team 19 out of 21 teams, you wouldn’t call it a coincidence.
If a guy made 19 of 21 free throws, he’d be a good free-throw shooter.
So if Tony Romo has won 19 of his 21 games in the month of November, there’s got to be something there, right? Maybe?
Well, the Cowboys at least hope so, especially with this team sitting at 3-4 and needing some kind of spark to make a run at the playoffs.
In the past, that spark has occurred in November, especially with Romo as the quarterback. Since he took over as the starter back in 2006, Romo is a remarkable 19-2 record in the month of November with losses occurring against Washington in 2006 and then in Green Bay in 2009.
Last year, the Cowboys went 4-0 in November, beating Seattle, Buffalo, Miami and Washington. So the schedule can often play a factor, considering all four of those teams missed the playoffs in 2011.
And it’s not just Romo as the Cowboys have been somewhat successful without him in November. In 2010, with Romo out with broken collarbone, Jon Kitna led the team to a 2-2 record during a 6-10 season.
The Cowboys’ PR staff keeps all kinds of stats regarding Romo’s record as a starter when different things occur. For instance, they’ve got his record at home, on the road, indoors, outdoors, when plays on turf or grass, when he throws no picks, one pick, when he’s sacked once or more, or not at all, when the offense has more than 300 yards …. and so on.
None of the stats have a higher winning percentage than Romo playing his ‘A’ games in November (90 percent). The next would be when Romo has a QB rating of over 100.0 … the Cowboys are 33-9 (78.5).
Whether it’s the fact the Cowboys usually get more home games in November with the Thanksgiving game, coupled with being at home the week before, or it’s the time of year the Cowboys just start clicking … or a simple coincidence that keeps trending every year – the Cowboys need it to continue more than ever this year.
IRVING, Texas – One team’s got one of the league’s most reliable tight ends and two receivers who can make spectacular plays, leading their team to the No. 8 passing offense this season. This team also possesses a decent passing defense but struggles running the football, ranking 24th in that category.
The other team’s got one of the league’s most reliable tight ends and two receivers who can make spectacular plays, helping their team to the No. 3 passing offense this season. This team also possesses the No. 3 passing defense but struggles running the football, ranking 28th in that category.
Deciding which team is 7-0 and which team is 3-4 might not be so simple.
The first is the Atlanta Falcons, who’ve found a way to win every single game despite a mediocre rushing attack. The second is the Dallas Cowboys, who’ve used their outside weapons well at times but continue to be set back by mental mistakes.
“We’re a different style offense than they are,” said head coach Jason Garrett. “Certainly, you aspire to have some of the success they’ve had moving the ball. They’ve made some plays. They’ve minimized the bad plays. That’s something we all aspire around the league to do.”
Two crucial differences exist between these two teams, and neither has anything to do with rushing or passing offense totals. Atlanta’s unbeaten team boasts a plus-10 in turnover ratio, while the Dallas Cowboys are at minus-11. That amounts to exactly three turnovers better per game than the Cowboys.
Secondly, the Falcons have 24 penalties through seven games, averaging a little more than three per game. Among the recurring issues this Cowboys team faces is its penalty problem, pushing the team back, specifically when it gets near the red zone. Dallas has more than twice as many penalties this season as the Falcons, with 55 through seven games, averaging nearly eight per game.
“It’s something that was emphasized since the day we got here as a coaching staff,” said Falcons coach Mike Smith. “I believe if you’re one of the fewest penalized teams in the league, you’re going to have a chance to succeed.”
Smith holds every player accountable for every penalty made, making abundantly clear who was guilty of each penalty and when the penalty occurred, placing a different weight for each penalty. By playing sound football, they’ve been able to mask the areas they don’t excel at, including running the football, averaging 95 yards per game on the ground, and stopping the run, allowing 136.4 yards rushing per game.
“I think they’ve blended the things they’ve done really well for a few years, with some of the new ideas, and it’s been a real good blend for them,” Garrett said. “It’s very effective week in and week out.”
Though Falcons receiver Roddy White teased the notion earlier this year, Smith said the Cowboys’ receiving corps is as good as any in the league. The lack of success goes back to the costly turnovers, penalties and untimely mistakes from players up and down the Cowboys’ roster.
The Falcons have made up for their inconsistencies by holding onto the football, getting the football back to their offense, not committing penalties, and, thus, not halting drives, allowing them to reach the end zone. The Cowboys haven’t been able to do that, and now find themselves with a 2-2 road record and 1-2 record at home.
“In this league, you’ve got to win at home,” Smith said. “There’s a formula that makes you relevant at the end of the season if you can take care of business in your own building, and that’s something we’ve talked about from the very beginning.”
It was not too long ago when the Cowboys went up to northern New Jersey and defeated the New York Giants 24-17. But a lot has changed since that Sept. 5 season opener. The Giants, not the Cowboys, now sit alone atop the NFC East standings. Dallas linebacker Sean Lee is done for the season after suffering ligament damage in his right big toe. And Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, who rushed for 131 yards in that first meeting with the Giants, is sidelined as he continues to recover from a sprained left foot. The Giants, in totality, are in much better shape than the Cowboys. Here is a look at how both teams match up:
When the Cowboys run
The Cowboys’ rushing attack remains in flux and at this point it’s difficult to project its performance. A week after gaining 227 yards on the ground against Baltimore, the Cowboys managed to collect 85 against Carolina. Of course, tailback DeMarco Murray didn’t play last Sunday and he won’t be available this week as he continues to recover from a sprained left foot. That is a big blow for the Cowboys. Against the Giants in the opener, Murray rushed for a season-high 131 yards – about five more than New York has yielded on average this season. Will Phillip Tanner or Felix Jones, who is nursing a bruised knee, pick up the slack in Murray’s absence?
When the Cowboys pass
Tony Romo’s best performance of the season came in the first game. Romo completed 76 percent of his pass attempts for 307 yards and three touchdowns, posting a 129.5 quarterback rating in the process. Since then, Romo has thrown three more interceptions than touchdown passes. But there is no reason to believe Romo can’t skewer the Giants’ flimsy secondary. New York is allowing 253.3 yards per game through the air, the 12-highest average in the NFL. The question is whether Romo, who has been only sacked once in the past two games, will be able to avoid the Giants’ staunch pass rush.
When the Giants run
The Giants’ running game has improved significantly since last season, when New York was ranked last in yards on the ground. Through seven games, the Giants have produced 116.3 rushing yards per game, the 12th-highest average in the NFL. They have done so while relying on Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown and David Wilson. Yet the Cowboys were able to contain the Giants’ tailbacks in the opener, limiting New York to 82 rushing yards – 23 below the current average they’ve allowed. Of course, linebacker Sean Lee was a big part of that defensive effort. Now he’s out for the season with ligament damage in his right big toe. Will the Giants be able to exploit his absence?
When the Giants pass
The Giants make no secret about their intentions. They will pass the ball, relying on the arm of Eli Manning to power the offense. After Week 7, only three quarterbacks had thrown the ball more times than Manning had. And it’s easy to see why Manning is chucking the ball all over the field. After all he has plenty of targets. Headed by Victor Cruz, who has already made 50 catches, the Giants have six players who have gained more than 100 receiving yards. The Cowboys, who have the third-stingiest pass defense, will try to limit Manning and Co. for the second time this season.
No player this season has attempted more field goals than the Giants’ Lawrence Tynes. He has converted 19 of 21 attempts this season and is part of a special teams unit that includes one of the league’s best directional punters, Steve Weatherford. Weatherford has allowed 5.8 yards per return – the exact average the Cowboys have produced when they have fielded punts. Those modest gains aren’t surprising. Although Dan Bailey has made 92.3 percent of his 13 field-goal attempts, Dallas’ special teams have performed poorly this season.
The Cowboys will have home-field advantage. That should mean something. But in this matchup with the Giants it doesn’t. The Giants have prevailed in all three meetings with their NFC East rivals at Cowboys Stadium. And at this point some wonder if New York feels more comfortable at Jerry World than Dallas does.
For that reason, the Giants have to be brimming with confidence as they invade North Texas seeking revenge for the loss the Cowboys handed them in the season opener.
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Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said it’s his responsibility to eliminate penalties and that he can threaten jobs, even in the salary cap era.
“Certainly, you have the option of saying, ‘OK, if you continue to get penalized like this, you’re going to be out of the lineup or you’re going to be off the football team,” he said.
The Cowboys committed 13 penalties Sunday, the third time this season they have hit that number.
“Ultimately, it’s on me,” he said. “I have to make sure that we’re not a highly penalized football team, and that’s everything that we do here. It’s my responsibility, and if we’re not doing it right on Sunday afternoon, somehow, someway, I’ve got to make sure we do it right.”
Garrett was asked at his Monday press conference why the message doesn’t sink in.
“Sometimes that happens in coaching,” he said. “You have to try and continue to get that message across and when you convey the values you think are important and the different, whatever it is – techniques, approaches you think are important – and oftentimes, over the course of time, if you say it the right way or get the right guy to do it, those messages eventually sink in.
“I think those are messages about that across our football team, and I know we’ve been talking about the importance of running the football all year long and doing that better and not having minus runs and you’ve heard me stand up here and say that for a couple of weeks now, and yesterday I think was a good example of continuing to be persistent with the message, and it sinks in, and you do it that way regardless of penalties and some other things on our team.”
Garrett said he sees some of the pre-snap penalties in practice, also.
“I don’t see them in practice as much,” he said. “I see them more in the game. Some of the physical penalties you have in regards to maybe a hold late in the down or in Felix’ case, a chop block, you’re not going to have those happen in practice. But the mechanics penalties, I think we do a good job emphasizing those things. We have officials at practice. We try to continue to make that emphasis. We just have to carry it to the game and handle that situation better.”
Editors note: The headline is an exaggeration, the subject is serious. Jason Garrett seems to be getting tired of costly penalties! Who will be first to walk the ‘Yellow (penalty flag) Mile"???
IRVING, Texas — Tony Romo had to deal with yet another controversial drop Wednesday.
Romo’s conference call with reporters who cover the Ravens ended abruptly after 37 seconds. Several members of the Baltimore media tweeted that Romo hung up on them after two questions, but that wasn’t the case.
The Cowboys public relations staff provided a tape of the call, which was interrupted by loud static after 37 seconds while Romo was answering a question about his inconsistency. ("Well, I think our team just has to continue to execute a little bit better than we’ve been …")
At that point, Romo said, "Hello? Hello?" He stayed on the line for another two minutes, at one point saying, "I can’t hear anything."
Hear for yourself, Tony Romo’s call to the Baltimore media:
EXTERNAL LINK: http://sportsblogs.star-telegram.com/files/romo_101012-1.mp3
The Dallas Cowboys came back to work this week with their mind on turnovers.
At least, that was one of the main things they were asked about after their bye-week break.
“We’re stressing that every day at practice,” safety Danny McCray said. “We should get it right sometime.”
The Cowboys are minus-7 in turnover ratio, second-worst in the league. Only Kansas City, at minus-15, is worse. New England and Atlanta are first at plus-10.
“Some of it is luck,” McCray said. “Some of it is catching the ball when it comes to you. And other ones are disruptions – getting hands up in the quarterback’s face. If you know you’re not going to get there when we’re blitzing on a sack or something, just try to get a hand up and get a tipped ball.”
Cornerback Brandon Carr, with eight interceptions in four years before coming to Dallas, said each player must aim to find a way to make a takeaway.
“It’s a personal challenge that each one of us has to accept,” he said. “You have to challenge yourself to put it upon yourself within the scheme of our defense to go out there and you be the one to make that play. You be the one to make the difference for the defense. But at the same time, you have to be smart about it, read your keys. Just try to remember everything you went over in film, studying what your coaches taught you and just go out there and just play.”
The Cowboys have one interception this year, from linebacker Sean Lee off a ball that bounced off the intended receiver. Victor Butler, Barry Church and Orie Lemon have each recovered fumbles. DeMarcus Ware has forced three fumbles, and Lee has caused one.
Still, the Cowboys have only two interceptions over the past 10 games. They had only one in the final six games last year (also Sean Lee, against the Giants at Cowboys Stadium) and have only one in the first four games this year.
“You work on a lot of different things during the week with drills, and those things have been good for us in the past, and you just have to carry those things to the game,” coach Jason Garrett said. “But it’s a team thing, we talk about that all the time. On offense, the ball security is a team thing. It starts with the guys up front, the guys protecting, the guys blocking, certainly the guys who have the ball in their hands, and similarly on defense, if you create havoc for the quarterback, and he has to do things quicker than he wants to do, typically those result in interceptions.”