HALL OF SHAMER: Brett Favre settles suit connected to sexually suggestive text messages
Remember the lawsuit filed by two massage therapists alleging that Brett Favre sent sexually suggestive text messages?
The lawyer for the two women announced Friday that the case has been settled out of court. There’s no word on how much money Favre had to shell out to make the lawsuit disappear.
Massage therapists Christina Scavo and Shannon O’Toole alleged that Favre sent the racy texts to another therapist when he played for the New York Jets in 2008. The lawsuit claims the two women lost their jobs when they blew the whistle on Favre’s behavior.
Favre has denied the allegations and unsuccessfully requested that the case be thrown out last year. Now that the case is settled, Favre can go back to riding his lawn tractor, coaching high school football and staying out of the NFL news cycle.
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.
STOP THE MADNESS: Not another Sunday night game! Cowboys-Saints could be flexed by NFL
The NFL is thinking about flexing the Dallas Cowboys INTO another Sunday Night Football game.
The Cowboys currently have one more NBC Sunday night game on the schedule,, Dec. 2 when the Philadelphia Eagles visit. That would be their fourth prime time game this season. The NFL allows six.
The fifth could come Sunday Dec. 23 when the New Orleans Saints come to Cowboys Stadium. Currently penciled in for NBC that night is the disappointing San Diego Chargers at the horrible New York Jets. The NFL and NBC would like to get out of that mess.
I know the Cowboys and Saints are both 4-5 but they have upsides. The Cowboys have a four winnable games coming and the Saints have Drew Brees who can carry a team. Not saying it’s a lock but it’s a definite maybe.
FOLLOWUP – REX RYAN: Sean Lee injury caused brother, Rob Ryan, to cry during phone conversation (UPDATED)
IRVING — Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said he didn’t cry over linebacker Sean Lee’s season-ending toe injury, “but I probably should have.”
On Wednesday, while discussing Jets linebacker Bart Scott’s toe injury, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan said that his brother was “crying, literally, on the phone because they just lost their great linebacker to a toe injury.”
“That guy’s so full of crap,” Rob Ryan said Friday. “Was I [griping] to him? Sure. We have so many damn injuries, of course I was. He did talk me off the plank. But I wasn’t crying tears, actual tears. I save that for the movies I watch with my wife. You know, Lifetime. My god, you guys ever watch Lifetime? Don’t. Trust me, don’t.”
Rob Ryan said moving on without Lee won’t be easy, especially against the high-scoring Giants. Lee had 14 tackles in the Cowboys’ season-opening 24-17 win at the Giants.
“I understand we played the Giants before and the only reason we stopped them was their lack of execution,” Rob Ryan said. “It had nothing to do with our players or our scheme. We got the message. And like [the Giants] said before, it was all them. That’s the only reason they self-destructed, apparently, against us last time,” Rob Ryan said. “So hopefully they have another bad game. It would take another miracle and it’d be great, though.”
SOURCE: Rob Ryan Press Conference – How Do You Replace Lee?
Rob Ryan Press Conference: How Do You Replace Lee?
Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan answers questions about the look of the Cowboys defense without middle linebacker Sean Lee. Duration: 9:28
Click on photo above to watch video. Enjoy!
REX RYAN: Sean Lee injury caused brother, Rob Ryan, to cry during phone conversation
There’s no doubting that the Cowboys lost one of their most valuable players this week when it was announced Wednesday that Sean Lee was being placed on the injured reserve with a toe injury.
Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was so upset over losing the team’s leading tackler that he was driven to tears, according to his brother, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan.
While discussing Jets linebacker Bart Scott’s toe injury on Wednesday, Rex Ryan said, “My brother was crying, literally, on the phone because they just lost their great linebacker to a toe injury.”
Rex Ryan, who is known for delivering witty remarks, could have been exaggerating. But knowing how valuable Lee is to the Cowboys’ defensive game plan, he might have been telling the truth.
Rob Ryan will likely give his side of the phone conversation on Friday, when he usually speaks with media members at Valley Ranch.
ROSTER RACE: Dallas Cowboys working out 15 players today, including Robert Griffin (RG-T)
IRVING, Texas – In addition to punters Daniel Sepulveda, T.J. Conley and Chas Henry, the Dallas Cowboys will work out 12 players today at Valley Ranch.
Former Baylor guard Robert Torrez Griffin (let’s call him RG-T), a sixth-round pick of the New York Jets, will be in attendance, as will nine defensive backs, a quarterback, a wide receiver and tight end.
Charlie Peprah, who was not among the Cowboys’ tryouts two weeks ago when they signed Eric Frampton, is the most accomplished safety on hand after spending two stints with Green Bay. The other defensive backs include: Morgan Trent, Kevin Thomas, Reggie Jones, Rod Issac, Vincent Agnew, Larry Asante, Gerald Alexander and Mikail Baker.
Quarterback Nick Stephens, who played high school at Flower Mound before attending Tennessee and Tarleton State, will work out as well. He went to camp this summer with the Tennessee Titans. Tight end Fendi Onubun and wide receiver John Haggerty round out the group.
EDITORS NOTE: Robert T. Griffin, aka, "RG2,” "Deuce,” or "Big Griff,” was the "other Robert Griffin” at Baylor, the senior guard and two-year starter on the offensive line who helped protect and clear the way for RG3.
TWIN ENVY: Dallas Cowboys defense tops NFL, “stings a little bit” in New York
Having the NFL’s top-rated defense has been downplayed this week by Dallas Cowboys’ players. Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher made that clear when asked about the significance of leading the league in total defense, which is based on fewest yards allowed (250 yards per game), after three games.
“We don’t care where we are on the stats sheet as a defense. Not at all,” Hatcher said. “We’ve just got to keep improving and doing the right things.”
But there is a little twin envy going on in New York, where Jets’ coach Rex Ryan – a former defensive coordinator — has a unit ranked only 21st among NFL teams while his twin bother, Rob, has the Cowboys (2-1) perched atop the NFL statistical heap.
“When my twin brother is No. 1 in the league in defense and we’re 21st, that stings a little bit, there’s no question,” Rex Ryan said during a news conference in New York.
SPECIAL TEAMS BOOST: Newly signed CB LeQuan Lewis happy for regular season opportunity
IRVING, Texas – LeQuan Lewis was not brought into the organization with defensive reps in mind. Lewis is expected to prove his worth as a special teams contributor, head coach Jason Garrett confirmed Wednesday morning.
“He was actually released by the Jets, but he was a guy that we targeted as a special teams guy,” Garrett said. “So we brought him in here, see how he fits on our 53-man roster and then our 46-man roster.”
Lewis, who has never play in a regular season NFL game, after being cut by the Titans in 2011 and by the Raiders and Jets this summer, talked about how excited he is to be given an opportunity with the Cowboys. He said he plans to take full advantage of every moment of practice and any snaps he might get against Seattle.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Lewis said. “I really appreciate what this organization is doing with me. Everyone’s being welcoming and it feels great.”
The Cowboys are coming into Sunday’s game with an increased emphasis on special teams due to Seattle’s success in that area under coach, Pete Carroll. Specifically the Cowboys have to worry about the danger of kick returner Leon Washington, who holds three separate franchise records for kick returns.
Garrett talked about the danger that Leon Washington can pose.
“He’s a great returner,” Garrett said. “Has been a great returner since day one in this league. He’s a difference-making player for them.”
If Lewis’ name is indeed called on come Sunday, he will be expected to help contain Washington’s return game. Lewis talked about the potential of coming in and making an immediate impact in a game.
“I definitely want to set a footprint in and just go out there and make plays right away,” Lewis said. “I’m going out there to prove them right for bringing me here.”
As someone who has always played the position of cornerback, Lewis discussed the mindset of making special teams his focus.
“Go out there and make plays,” Lewis said. “They brought me over to play special teams right away, and so I have to learn that system and make plays. Corner will come when it comes … special teams will be the emphasis.”
With one mistake by the coverage team, Washington can change a game, so it may pay off for the Cowboys to bring in a special teams player with the right attitude.
“I have no fears whatsoever,” Lewis said. “I have nothing to lose. I’m going to go down there and play my heart out.”
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I’M GOING TO JERRYLAND: Cost for four to attend a Dallas Cowboys game ranks highest in NFL
A Sept. 2012 team marketing report from fancostexperience.com indicates that the Dallas Cowboys have the NFL’s highest fan cost index to attend a game.
The report describes fan cost index as follows: The Fan Cost Index™ comprises the prices of four (4) average-price tickets, two (2) small draft beers, four (4) small soft drinks, four (4) regular-size hot dogs, parking for one (1) car, two (2) game programs and two (2) least-expensive, adult-size adjustable caps.
The Cowboys’ FCI is $634.78. The New York Jets’ FCI is $617.25. Only four teams – the Cowboys, Jets, Bears and Patriots – have FCIs of more than $600.
Those same four teams, plus the New York Giants, are the only franchises with an average ticket price of more than $100.
The reason the Cowboys – and not the Jets – have the highest FCI is parking. The report lists parking at Cowboys Stadium at $75. Parking for Jets’ games is listed at $25. The report lists no other NFL team with parking that costs as much as $50 (Chicago Bears, $49).
The NFL average FCI is $443.93. The Cowboys’ prices for beer, soft drinks and hot dogs are pretty much in line with the other franchises.
Here are the FCIs for the Cowboys’ NFC East rivals: Giants, $592.24; Eagles, Redskins, $461.53 and Eagles, $397.48.
Philadelphia is one of only 11 teams with FCIs that come in below $400.
The lowest FCI? That would be the Jacksonville Jaguars at $342.70.
You get what you pay for I guess.
FORBES MAGAZINE: Dallas Cowboys tops NFL list, first to be valued at over $2 billion
The Dallas Cowboys are the NFL’s first and only $2 billion franchise, Forbes Magazine announced today as it released its annual team value list.
Michael Ozanian, Forbes’ executive editor, said the Cowboys’ value, which the magazine tabs at $2.1 billion, is "a conservative estimate."
Ozanian said the magazine took into account the Cowboys’ $80 million in sponsorship income, their state-of-the art stadium and the fact that they are the only team in the NFL that distributes its own merchandise to retailers.
Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989 for $140 million. That’s roughly a 715 percent increase to today’s value, factoring in inflation.
While the Cowboys stood atop the list for the sixth consecutive year, the New England Patriots (worth $1.63 billion) passed the Washington Redskins ($1.6 billion) for the second spot.
The New York Giants, valued at $1.46 billion, landed in fourth while the Houston Texas rounded out the top five at $1.3 billion.
Despite playing in the same stadium, the magazine estimated the net worth of the New York Jets at about $200 million less than the Giants.
"We have the Giants bringing in $27 million more in revenue, plus they’re getting the Super Bowl bump on ticket prices," Ozanian said.
Despite the threat of concussion litigation that could eventually cost the NFL billions of dollars, the magazine doesn’t have a single franchise losing value from last season.
"There wasn’t any loss of value reflected in the recent Cleveland Browns sale," Ozanian said. "The investment bankers we spoke to told us that prices haven’t dropped in terms of what people are offering for small or large shares of teams."
Forbes stated that 20 NFL teams are worth more than $1 billion, the most of any league. That number is up from 15 teams last year.
The Cincinnati Bengals, worth $871 million compared to $875 million last season, are the only team that lost value.
Forbes projects only two teams had operating losses last year — the Pittsburgh Steelers ($1.1 billion), due to a higher payroll, and the Oakland Raiders ($785 million), thanks to having the lowest revenues in the league.
The magazine concluded that the two teams that had the biggest jump in value were the Minnesota Vikings ($975 million) and the San Francisco 49ers ($1.17 billion), whose values jumped 22 and 19 percent, respectively, as a result of their new stadiums being built.
The Cowboys’ $2.1 billion value matches that of the Los Angeles Dodgers purchase by Guggenheim Partners. Forbes says only Manchester United is worth more. The magazine said the soccer team was worth $2.23 billion, but the team’s recent offering on the New York Stock Exchanged valued it at $2.9 billion.
Four out of five scouts agree: Dallas Cowboys Rob Ryan will lead a better defense in 2012 than Jets’ Rex
Since Rob Ryan got his first defensive coordinator gig with the Oakland Raiders eight years ago, he’s only fielded a top-10 defense once, with the ’06 Raiders. Otherwise, Ryan’s defenses have ranked 30th, 27th, 22nd, 27th, 31st, 22nd and 14th (during his inaugural year with the Cowboys).
Worse yet, Ryan has been one-upped by his twin brother, Rex, every step of the way. No Rex Ryan defense has ever ranked worse than 6th in the NFL, and he’s twice boasted the league’s top D.
So when (if ever) will Rob get the better of his brother? Well, if the group NFL sources polled by NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah are right, it could be this year.
Jeremiah asked 15 NFL scouts and executives which Ryan brother would boast the better defense in 2012, and the overwhelming majority picked the one in Dallas.
""[Morris] Claiborne will be a big help. Sean Lee is a stud and everyone knows how good [DeMarcus] Ware is," one AFC executive who picked the Cowboys said.
"Dallas should be much better in the second year of Rob Ryan’s scheme," another NFC scout said. "They can get to the quarterback much better than the Jets."
All told, 12 of the 15 sources — or 80 percent of those polled — picked Rob Ryan to finally coach his unit to a better finish than his brother.
"I didn’t expect such a landslide result in favor of Rob Ryan and the Cowboys’ defense. The offseason additions of cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Claiborne have convinced the overwhelming majority of these executives and scouts that the Cowboys’ defense will be greatly improved in 2012," Jeremiah wrote. "In my opinion, I believe these are both top-10 defenses in 2012."
Popularity contest: NFC East teams rule
You wonder why we have an ESPNDallas.com and an ESPNNewYork.com? This is part of the reason why. The Cowboys remain the most popular team in the NFL in spite of two straight non-winning seasons, not having won the Super Bowl in 16 years and only having won two playoff games in that time. That star still means something to a lot of people.
The Giants play in the New York market, which is home to many millions of people, and so they’re drawing from a vast reservoir. However, the Jets came in 19th in this poll, which tells you (a) that the Giants just won the Super Bowl, and (b) that the Giants are the No. 1 team in the market by a fair margin.
The Eagles also have a large and passionate fan base, but I believe a lot of their popularity is built on (a) consistently contending for and reaching the playoffs during the Andy Reid era, and (b) Michael Vick, who is one of the league’s most popular players.
It might be a hopeful time for Redskins fans, but sheesh, look at the damage done by the Daniel Snyder era. There’s no way, if you took this poll in the mid-1990s, that they wouldn’t have been among the top teams in it. There are no fans anywhere as loyal and passionate as Redskins fans, but the mediocrity of the past decade and a half has really robbed them of their national following. Note: ESPN Sports Polls contacts Americans year-round via land line and cell phones in English and Spanish, reaching 390,000 Americans since 1994.
Puff out your chests, NFC East fans, because you have the most popular division in football. According to the first quarter 2012 ESPN Sports Poll of fans’ favorite teams, three of the top nine play in the NFC East. Here are the top 15 teams in popularity according to the poll, sorted by percentage of respondents who identified that team as their favorite:
1. Dallas Cowboys: 8.8
2. Green Bay Packers: 7.2
3. New York Giants: 7.1
4. Pittsburgh Steelers: 7.1
5. New England Patriots: 6.8
6. Chicago Bears: 4.2
7. New Orleans Saints: 4.1
8. San Francisco 49ers: 4.0
9. Philadelphia Eagles: 3.9
10. Denver Broncos: 3.8
11. Indianapolis Colts: 2.8
12. Oakland Raiders: 2.5
13. Washington Redskins: 2.4
14. Minnesota Vikings: 2.2
15. Detroit Lions: 2.2
Here’s hoping the Big Tuna takes the Saints job
IRVING, Texas – A few of you waving #BobbyCarpenter hashtags have disagreed with me on Twitter already, but I would be glad to see former Dallas Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells back on an NFL sideline.
By my estimation, the Big Tuna is one of the most fascinating personalities in the history of not only football, but sports in America. The 2012 season would be better, more interesting, if Parcells were involved. And while the New Orleans Saints haven’t officially reached out to Big Bill as an organization, Parcells’ quote to Newsday that "Everything is hypothetical at this point" makes it pretty obvious that he’s interested in what Sean Payton has been selling.
It sounds like the kind of thing he was saying about the Cowboys job right at the end of the 2002 NFL season, after reports emerged that he had met with Jerry Jones on the owner’s private jet at Teterboro Airport.
If the memory of that news doesn’t make you appreciate Parcells, you’ve obviously forgotten just how bad the Cowboys had it before he got here. After three straight 5-11 seasons, he came in, kicked the players’ butts and led a team quarterbacked by Quincy Carter to the playoffs.
Allow me to repeat myself. He led a team quarterbacked by Quincy-freaking-Carter to the playoffs. It’s got to be one the greatest coaching jobs in league history.
There’s something wrong with any Cowboys fan who doesn’t have great respect and admiration for what Parcells did here. Nevermind the fact he rode Troy Hambrick and Richie Anderson into the postseason, but in the process he built a team that had been in the hunt, if nothing else, since he left.
It makes no sense to hold Carpenter and Julius Jones over Parcells’ head when during his tenure the Cowboys added Tony Romo, Marion Barber, Miles Austin, Jason Witten, Jay Ratliff, DeMarcus Ware, Terence Newman, Bradie James, Marc Colombo, Kyle Kosier and Mat McBriar among many, many other crucial parts of these teams. And no, the Cowboys haven’t won a Super Bowl with the group Parcells assembled, but he at least turned the thing around. For the first time since Jimmy Johnson left, the arrow for this franchise began to point up as soon as Parcells arrived.
He did the same thing for the Cowboys, the Jets, the Patriots and the Giants. Rescue ops have been his specialty, so it would be really intriguing to see what he could with a team that actually has talent when he arrives.
Though New Orleans has a ton of good players, the team is a mess right now in the wake of this bounty situation. If Parcells were to come in and quickly do what he’s done four times already, you’d have to think it would erase any doubt about his candidacy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Not that putting him into the Hall should’ve been much of a question, anyway.
Courtesy: Josh Ellis
Dallas Cowboys in process of hiring Cleveland assistant Jerome Henderson as new secondary coach
The Cowboys are in the process of hiring Jerome Henderson as their new secondary coach to replace Dave Campo. The Cowboys had already informed Campo that they wouldn’t renew his contract.
Henderson, 42, has spent the last three seasons as the Cleveland Browns’ secondary coach and he would be reunited with Rob Ryan in Dallas. Henderson worked under Ryan, the Cowboys defensive coordinator, his first two seasons in Cleveland.
Reached at his Cleveland-area home on Tuesday night, Henderson confirmed that he’s currently in discussions with the Cowboys about their secondary coaching position.
"Right now nothing has transpired between me and the Cowboys. We are in discussions but nothing has happened," Henderson said. "I don’t want to speak out of turn."
Henderson declined to comment further. The Cowboys did receive permission to speak to Henderson and a deal could be finalized soon.
Prior to joining the Browns, Henderson spent the previous two seasons as a member of the New York Jets’ staff.
Henderson played eight seasons as a defensive back in the NFL after New England made him a second-round draft choice in 1991. He played with the Patriots (1991-93, 1996), Buffalo (1993-94), Philadelphia (1995) and the Jets (1997-98) in his NFL career, during which time he appeared in 98 games with 34 starts. He recorded nine career interceptions. Henderson played in two Super Bowls, with the Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII and with New England in Super Bowl XXXI.
Henderson grew up in Statesville, N.C., and went on to play four years at Clemson (1987-90).
COACHING SHAKE UP: Hudson Houck expected to be replaced by Bill Callahan
With the contracts of six coaches expiring after the season, staff changes are definitely expected.
And it appears one of the biggest could be on the offensive line, where longtime coach Hudson Houck is reportedly not returning to the club in 2012. Houck, who has 28 years of NFL coaching experience, including two different stints with the Cowboys, could be headed for retirement.
While most of the coaches were off this week at the complex, Houck was spotted at Valley Ranch on Monday with a box full of his belongings.
Along with his offensive line coaching duties, Houck has also served as the running game coordinator for the last two years.
The one name that has suddenly surfaced to replace Houck is former Raiders and University of Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan. A team source said Callahan recently turned down a similar offer to remain on the New York Jets’ coaching staff. Since he left Nebraska’s sideline in 2007 after five seasons, Callahan joined the Jets and has been coaching the offensive line and assistant head coach since 2008.
Houck has coached the Cowboys’ line for 13 years, including a nine-year stint from 1993-2001 where he helped the team win two Super Bowls. Houck left in 2002 where he coached the Chargers for three seasons and then three more in Miami, where he was on staff with Jason Garrett, who coached the quarterbacks from 2005-06.
When Tony Sparano left the Cowboys’ staff to become the Dolphins’ head coach, Houck returned to Dallas on Wade Phillips’ staff.
Houck was one of six assistant coaches with expiring contracts, along with assistant offensive line coach Wes Phillips, assistant receivers coach Keith O’Quinn, running backs coach Skip Peete and secondary coaches Brett Maxie and Dave Campo. It was also reported earlier this week that Campo would not be returning to the Cowboys’ staff in 2012.
Jean-Jacques Taylor: It’s hard to have faith in Cowboys
Tim Heitman/US Presswire
The Cowboys defense didn’t play much better the second time around, allowing Brent Celek and the Eagles 386 yards.
ARLINGTON, Texas — A few positives emerged from yet another butt-kicking by the Philadelphia Eagles.
First, your Dallas Cowboys avoided being shut out at home for the first time in 165 games — 7,405 days, to be exact. Tony Romo’s right hand is bruised but not broken, and Felix Jones’ hamstring is OK.
Oh, and your Cowboys can still win the NFC East. All they have to do is beat the New York Giants on New Year’s Day.
They’re going to need it. The last time the Cowboys played in a winner-take-all game to end the regular season, Philadelphia won by 38 points in 2008 in the most gutless performance in franchise history.
The Cowboys didn’t do anything in Philadelphia’s 20-7 win Saturday to make us think they can beat the Giants and secure the fourth seed in the NFC.
Once the Giants beat the Jets, 29-14, the Eagles were eliminated from the playoffs and the Cowboys knew they’d have to beat New York on the road to win the division.
So the game was meaningless, if you believe in that sort of thing, for both teams. Then again, we should never be surprised when the Eagles blow out the Cowboys.
Andy Reid’s team has beaten the Cowboys 12 times by 13 points or more since 2000. FYI: The Giants and Washington Redskins, Dallas’ other NFC East rivals, have done it a combined six times.
THE RACE IS ON: Dallas Cowboys wild card possibilities
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There is this rush on Twitter, where everything is always rushed, to assert that Saturday’s late afternoon game between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles would become "meaningless" if the New York Giants beat the Jets in their early afternoon game. Some have gone as far as to suggest that the Cowboys would use this as a chance to rest players in advance of a Week 17 game against the Giants for the division title.
But while the game would, if the Giants beat the Jets, become "meaningless" to the Eagles (who would be eliminated) and to the NFC East race (which would be decided the following week at MetLife Stadium), it would in no way become "meaningless" to the Cowboys, who could still get into the playoffs as a wild card team if they beat the Eagles this week and lose to the Giants next week.
Is it a slim chance? Sure. It requires a lot of things. The Cardinals and the Seahawks each would have to lose at least one more game, for example. And the Falcons would have to finish 0-2. But while those things might — on their own or in combination with each other — seem unlikely, they are all possible, and as long as the possibility exists, why should the Cowboys or their fans discount it?
The Giants cannot be a wild-card team, by the way. If they get to 9-7, they’re division champs. And with Atlanta and Detroit each having already won nine games, there will be no 8-8 wild-card team in the NFC. There are a couple scenarios for the Cowboys to be a 9-7 wild-card team. The point is a simple one: There’s no reason for Dallas not to try and win Saturday, no matter what the Giants do in their game, and I don’t understand why everyone’s in such a rush to declare the game "meaningless" when it’s not.
ASANTE SAMMY OUT WITH A HAMMY: Asante Samuel out vs. Dallas Cowboys, DRC gets to start
Asante Samuel’s hamstring injury will keep him out of the Eagles’ potentially huge game against the Cowboys Saturday in Dallas.
The Eagles list Samuel as “out” on their Friday injury report, required by the NFL even though they don’t practice today. He is not accompanying the team to Dallas.
Samuel originally got hurt in the Eagles’ win over the Jets on Sunday at the Linc, and the injury wasn’t believed to be serious. Head coach Andy Reid said on Monday he expected Samuel to be fine for Saturday.
But Samuel suffered a setback on Tuesday when he aggravated the injury jogging at practice. He didn’t practice either Wednesday or Thursday.
With Samuel out, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will make his second start as an Eagle. DRC, a Pro Bowl corner with the Cards in 2009, started against the Bills when the Eagles opened the game with three cornerbacks. Rodgers-Cromartie took all the first-team reps opposite Nnamdi Asomugha at practice the past two days.
Joselio Hanson returns to his comfortable slot role, and either Brandon Hughes or Curtis Marsh will be the fourth corner.
Samuel, who has three interceptions this year and 52 in his career, missed five games last year and has played 16 games only once in his nine-year career.
“I feel like it’s good that we have this many … talented corners on the team so we can fit people in when somebody goes down, if need be,” Asomugha said after practice Thursday. “I don’t think every team has that.”
Rodgers-Cromartie struggled much of the season, first playing the slot – a position he’s never played before – and then with a high ankle sprain that cost him three games.
He said recently he prefers playing outside than inside but was resigned to being a slot guy for at least the remainder of this year.
“I’d love to be outside, that’s where I’ve always played, that’s what I’m used to, that’s my natural position,” he said. “But I have nothing to do with it. All I can do is keep playing. That’s all I can do.”
On Saturday, he’ll finally get his chance.
Rodgers-Cromartie had 16 interceptions in three years with the Cards, third-most by any active player in his first three seasons. Only Hall of Famers Ronnie Lott and Ken Houston returned more INTs for touchdowns in their first three seasons than DRC, who had one in 2008, one in 2009 and two last year.
“He was a good player before he came here this year, so that was never in question,” Asomugha said. “But like everything else learning this new system, it wasn’t going to be a quick turnaround for him, I think. And then, the injury – I don’t know how many games he missed, but we brought him back slowly.
“And when you come back from injury, then the confidence has to play a part and you have to start getting that back and be sure of yourself. And we’re starting to see that a lot more from him, that he’s putting the injury behind him and he’s playing better through it.”
The Eagles, 6-8, need wins over the Cowboys and Redskins combined with a Jets win over the Giants Saturday and a Giants win over the Cowboys on Jan. 1 to finish 8-8 and win a three-way tiebreaker with the Giants and Cowboys for the NFC East championship.
The Jets-Giants game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday, so by the time the Eagles face the Cowboys at 4:15 p.m., they could already have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Courtesy: Reuben Frank | Eagles Talk | NBC Sports | Edited: The Boys Are Back blog
EYE TO THE SKY: Jerry Jones will be scoreboard watching, even if his team isn’t
Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones (left) tries to give former Cowboy player Deion Sanders (right) a $100 bill as former player Marshall Faulk (center) looks on before Saturday night’ game in Tampa.
Jason Garrett said the result of the Giants-Jets game will have no impact in how they approach their game against the Eagles later Saturday. If the Giants beat the Jets, the Cowboys-Eagles game is meaningless as far as the playoff picture is concerned. If the Jets win, the Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a victory over the Eagles.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones admits he will be scoreboard watching.
"I’ll whisper in their ear for them," Jones joked about his team not watching the Jets-Giants result. "But we’re all interested in how that game comes out, and that’s natural. I know are fans are, and we are, and of course, it creates an interesting dynamic there for our last couple of games. I’m certainly looking with interest at that ball game."
This time last year, the Cowboys were out of the race. That’s why being in control of their playoff destiny is that much sweeter this year.
"I feel like it [last year] was yesterday, and I have a feeling that our team, everybody that went through last year remembers those feelings," Jones said. "It’s an empty feeling, and you’ve got to manufacture some cheer when you’re dealing with that situation, when you know you’re basically through. We don’t have that now. I think that provides inspiration and relates to your effort on the field. I really admire teams that step out. I know the first year I was involved with the Cowboys, Al Davis and John Madden called me and said you didn’t lose the team. You won one football team, but they were real impressed that we didn’t lose the team. Those guys were getting after it the last game Green Bay out here on Christmas Eve. You have the opposite of that, where we are now, in contention. I just want to be having this feeling in January."
DREAM TEAM and AMERICA’S TEAM hoping for a NYG loss this Christmas
Ask the 2010 Cowboys: a 1-4 start is never helpful to playoff hopes. Neither is losing four of five in November to fall to 4-8.
But here are the Eagles with two games left, winners of two straight and still with a slim chance at the NFC East title if they finish 8-8 along with the Cowboys and Giants. They must win their final two games, starting Christmas Eve against the Cowboys, and hope the Giants lose to the Jets but beat the Giants in the Jan. 1 finale.
The preseason "Dream Team" hype and ensuing disappointment is a distant memory. They’ve still got a chance at the postseason on Saturday — as long as the Giants don’t win their noon game against the Jets.
"Well, you guys are right with me on this. You’ve been around this thing a long time, so you know anything’s possible," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "Nothing surprises me in the National Football League. It’s important you just try to keep getting better every week and let everything happen the way it happens in this league. It’s crazy that way."
As has been well-established, the stakes for Saturday’s game will be vastly different depending on the results of the Giants-Jets game earlier in the day. The Giants’ fortunes will decide whether or not the Eagles have anything to play for.
But even if the Giants win and Philly is mathematically eliminated, they’ll still give a full effort, according to running back LeSean McCoy.
"It’s definitely a challenge," McCoy said. "We want to win the game no matter if we’ve got a shot or we don’t. If I played for another team maybe it would be different, but the hard work we put in each week, the attitudes we have in the locker room, we want to make plays. We want to win games.
"When you line up and the guy across from you is playing hard, you want to match his intensity. So, I don’t think it matters when you’re on the field."
Self defense would be just one motivating factor, along with the individual players’ desire to impress.
Philadelphia has every reason to prepare this week as if the game will count for them.
"Obviously we need some teams to lose," McCoy said. "But what we can control is just winning games. This is one of the games that we need to win, so I think that probably drives us a little more."
Without trying to provide any bulletin-board material, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy was simply pointing out an observation in regards to the first meeting against the Cowboys.
You remember the game – the one McCoy rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns as the Eagles steamrolled the Cowboys 34-7.
But when asked this week how the Cowboys are playing the last few weeks, McCoy sees a big improvement.
“They’re a different team. On tape, they look a lot better,” McCoy said of the Cowboys’ defense. “It seems like they’re in position more. They’re not making as many mental mistakes. From the game plan from the last time, guys were out of place and not in the right alignments. But I’ve watched a couple of games to prepare for them and they’re a lot different. They’re in the right positions making plays.”
One player who only participated in a quarter of the first game was linebacker Sean Lee, who suffered a dislocated wrist. But McCoy said Lee is one of the players that stands out the most on film.
“That No. 50 – Sean Lee is actually playing very, very well,” McCoy said. “DeMarcus is DeMarcus. He’s one of the best guys in the league. They look good. And Ratliff is always an animal. If you turn the tape on and watch them guys, they look fast to the ball. They look good. I’m sure they’ll be getting after it. We’ll have to be ready to respond.”
Then again, while the Cowboys look better to McCoy, the running back admitted his team is playing even better as well.
“I think so. I think we are, in the last four games we have a shot to make the playoffs. Obviously we need teams to lose. But we can control just winning the games. This is one of the games we need to win. So I think that will drive us a little bit more.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK: If NYG wins on Sunday, should the Dallas Cowboys rest starters?
Tampa Bay fans supporting their Dallas Cowboys.
Clearly, the Cowboys have a focus on winning the NFC East title this weekend. That is a definite possibility, but it’s one that might not be on the table when they kick off at 3:15 p.m. (CST) against the Eagles this Saturday.
If the Giants knock off the Jets earlier in the day, then it makes the outcome of the Cowboys-Eagles game meaningless for both teams. By the Giants winning to get to 8-7, it would officially eliminate the Eagles from the playoffs and it would mean the Cowboys MUST beat the Giants on Jan. 1 in the Meadowlands to win the NFC East.
Soooooo, that being said, why wouldn’t you rest your starters against the Eagles . . . in that scenario of course?
Sure, you always want to have momentum, but at what cost? Think about it from the other perspective. If, the Giants were to lose to the Jets, then obviously the Cowboys would try to beat the Eagles and clinch the division right then on Christmas Eve. And if that happens, what do you think the Cowboys do the next week in New York?
I would bet Jason Garrett plays it smart and rests a lot of players, especially the ones who are banged up. The guys we see resting in the middle of the week – DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff sometimes and Kyle Kosier, those guys probably wouldn’t play. Who knows if Tony Romo would get the full game either.
So if that is the thinking for the Jan. 1 game, assuming the Cowboys had it wrapped up, then why would it be any different for the Eagles game, if they know nothing good can come from it.
So the Cowboys beat the Eagles 23-17 with a last-second touchdown pass. Or let’s say the Cowboys win 31-3 and Tony Romo throws three more touchdowns. None of it matters for the next game.
Why would you want some rookie defender for the Eagles to get a free shot at your quarterback or star receivers when the game doesn’t matter? Even if you win that game, you might have to rely on Stephen McGee to go win the division the next week.
It’s just something to think about. And it’s something that won’t even happen until right before kickoff.
I know it’s a little backwards in the approach – resting guys in Week 16 to play full throttle in Week 17. But that’s what might be in front of them – if the Giants beat the Jets.
Courtesy: Nick Eatman | Dallas Cowboys website
PRIMETIME PRESSURE: Sunday nights not kind to Dallas Cowboys
IRVING,Texas — The networks love to show the Cowboys in primetime. It just doesn’t seem the Cowboys love primetime back that much, especially Sunday nights.
The Cowboys have lost five straight games on NBC’s Sunday Night Football over the last two seasons and six of their last eight overall. That came after a stretch from 2006-08 in which they won eight of nine Sunday night tilts.
This year, the Cowboys have lost to the New York Jets (27-24) and Philadelphia (34-7) on Sunday nights. After Sunday night’s game against the Giants, the Cowboys travel to Tampa Bay for a Dec. 17 showing on NFL Network at 7:20 p.m.
Jason Garrett believes Sunday night streak is more coincidental than anything else.
“That’s another trend that some people might want to point to,” Garrett said. “Our job is to prepare as well as we can if we’re playing at home, on the road, in the division, out of the division, if we’re playing in a parking lot. We just want to be our best with this football team right now.”
Most coaches don’t like Sunday or Monday night games because it throws off the schedule for the following week.
Sunday night games can become a problem because of the long wait to kickoff. The Cowboys alter their schedule from noon or 3:15 p.m. kickoffs. Garrett will host his normal team meeting Saturday night, but the offensive and defensive meetings to go over the game plan one final time will happen Sunday morning.
“I think with experience you learn you just don’t need to be sitting in your room horizontally watching football on TV all day,” linebacker Keith Brooking said. “Get up, walk around and get the blood flowing. That’s important.”
ROB RYAN: On Broncos’ win over Jets, “I don’t like it because it’s college football”
Yes, Rob Ryan watched the Broncos play the Jets.
No, the Cowboys defensive coordinator didn’t like what he saw. For one, it was a loss for the Jets, who are coached by his brother Rex. For another, the Broncos won it with an offense he doesn’t like.
“I don’t like it because it’s college football,” Ryan said Friday at Valley Ranch, entertaining reporters during his weekly media session. “We’re getting a lot of two tight ends blocking for empty sets. Who would have ever thought that? This is the NFL. Those teams don’t win.”
Well, Denver did win. Tim Tebow ran 20 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
“Thanks for pointing that out,” Ryan said. “The guy made a hell of a play, though, didn’t he?
“Just a second. I’ll take a knee myself.”
UNRESTRICTED: Tony Romo could shed the Kevlar jacket this week
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was completely healthy Sunday. It was the first time since the season opener against the Jets that he felt 100 percent. Romo fractured a rib and punctured a lung on the third play of the Week 2 victory over the 49ers.
Last week against the Seahawks, Romo did not take a pain-killing shot for the first time since his injury. He did, however, play with the specially fitted Kevlar jacket. He said he wore it as a “precaution.”
He is unsure whether he will wear it this week.
“I don’t know,” Romo said Thursday. “I’m going to toy with it a little bit, and I’ll see. It was nice playing healthy last week and it will be nice again, I can tell you that.”
Romo said the rib is fully healed.
“I believe it’s fully healed,” he said. “We haven’t had an X-ray here in awhile, but it was healing properly. We basically came to the conclusion it’s good.”
Romo is battling a cold this week.
“It’s probably going to keep me out of the game this week,” he said with a chuckle. “I think I’ll be all right. No, we’re good.”