ARLINGTON, Texas – Only the Saints are geographically closer to the Dallas Cowboys among NFC teams than are the Rams, who based on the NFL’s conference logic, reside in the West, while the Cowboys have long been in the East.
And there are no plans to change that to put the Rams in the Cowboys’ division. Sorry, DeMarco, that would be convenient for you.
Maybe the Rams were the exact cure for DeMarco Murray and this running game. No, he didn’t challenge his franchise single-game record of 253 yards he set as a rookie. But his 175 yards are now the second-highest total of his career.
In need of some rushing relief, call on the Rams. Yeah, it doesn’t matter if Jeff Fisher has changed the culture there in St. Louis, the holes looked the same. Unlike that game against the Rams two years ago, Murray didn’t have a 91-yarder to get him going.
And that’s actually even better. For this game was much more workmanlike for Murray and the Cowboys offense. It’s amazing how efficient Tony Romo can be when he’s got a running game like he did Sunday.
Romo wasn’t flashy at all, and that’s perfect. Quarterbacks don’t have to be flashy in a 31-7 win at home. Romo was really good: 17-of-24 for 210 yards and three touchdowns with no picks for a 137.2 passer rating.
When your quarterback can be good, and your running back is great, that’s a recipe for success. Throw in the fact that the Cowboys were downright dominant on defense and that’s your 24-point blowout. And yes, in the NFL, winning by 24 is a complete blowout.
But again, it all started with the running game, and that all starts with the mindset.
You could sense earlier in the week that the Cowboys would indeed focus more on the run. Romo said they needed to run more. Play-caller Bill Callahan said he needed to call more runs. Head coach Jason Garrett said the running game needed to improve and even owner Jerry Jones not only echoed all of that, but also predicted much more success running the ball.
So you knew they would focus on running the rock.
First play – DeMarco Murray left side for 14 yards.
Did anyone else think, just for a moment, Murray might take it the distance just like he did for 91 yards on his first carry against the Rams two years ago, a run also to the left side? He obviously didn’t make it that far, but to that point, it was still his longest rush of the season. That would change later in the day, but he would also get another 14-yarder on that first drive.
Murray for 14, 7, 2, 14, 6 and then no gain. The drive ended with a Dez Bryant touchdown pass, but the message was set. The Cowboys were indeed focused on toting the rock on this day. Hey, those 43 yards on the first drive far exceeded last week’s total of 25 yards in the entire game.
By the end of the first quarter, Murray had 86 yards on 10 attempts. He was at 96 by halftime and then in the third quarter is when he really poured it in, eventually finishing the day with 175.
So what did Murray have to say about this performance?
Well, nothing actually. He spent all day dipping and dodging Rams defenders, that he continued that trend in the locker room after the game. Murray chose not to speak to reporters, later citing that he needed to attend to a family matter. Make no mistake, he ran the ball so well inside AT&T Stadium that he made sure to rush out of the building, too.
Maybe he felt like he did his talking on the field. Whether or not he talked to reporters, Murray’s performance was not only stellar, but was also needed for a Cowboys team that is striving to be balanced.
Yes, Romo is a good quarterback. He has moments when he’s great and he’s had some not-so-great moments, too. That’s Romo. But all quarterbacks need some help. John Elway got a little better when Terrell Davis showed up. Not comparing Romo to Elway, or even Murray to Davis, who coincidentally ripped Murray this week on NFL Network, saying he struggles with his vision and leaves yards on the field.
He didn’t leave much of anything out there on Sunday. And saw things pretty clear from start to finish.
When he’s running well, the entire offense just looks better. It’s amazing how well the play-fake can work when the defense has to respect the run. The line looks better. The receivers are open more, and the quarterback has more time to find the right targets.
This result right here is why every coach in the NFL, college, high school and probably junior high will continue to stress the importance of a good ground game. Even with all of these wide-open, spread attacks that we’re seeing everywhere, it’s still important to run the ball. You have to be able to run it. You have to run it near the goal line. You have to run it on third-and-short, and you have to run the ball when you need to run out the clock and protect a lead.
Say what you want about the NFL becoming a passing league – and clearly it’s changed dramatically over the years – but even a decent running game can open up so many things.
The Dallas Cowboys Texas-2 Defense surely appreciates the rest.
Rams Nemesis: DeMarco Murray
In the long history of the Dallas Cowboys there have been games by running backs that have been legendary. Calvin Hill, Duane Thomas, Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith have all at one point in time during their careers had a game or two that has left you in awe. DeMarco Murray was a rookie in the league when he made his one and only start against the St. Louis Rams but it was a performance that was for the record books.
Murray pounded the Rams that Sunday afternoon for a Dallas Cowboys single game rushing record of 253 yards on 25 carries. When asked about what he remembered about that game Murray could only recall how well the offensive line played that day. It is not likely that Murray will rush for a club record as these two teams once again met, but after what we saw last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, something different needs to be done. Not all the blame should be placed at Murray’s feet but there will be opportunities to run the ball here. The Rams defensively at times will play light in the box with their personnel trying to get the safety down late to help. The front is also light on the edges with Chris Long and Robert Quinn, look for Murray and this Cowboys rushing attack look inside of those ends to pop some runs to get things going.
The Weapon: Jason Hatcher
Through the first two games of the 2013 season, it is extremely clear that Jason Hatcher is playing with a purpose. Some will say he is playing for a new contract with the club or the opportunity to move on to another club after the season. Whatever his reasoning, he is getting the job done. In his play, Hatcher has shown quickness and technique but where he has made this biggest improvement in his game is through his use of power. I have always thought the one area that held him back was his lack of functional strength in terms of controlling blockers and getting off blocks at the point of attack.
Hatcher has done a much better job of playing with power and being able to sustain that down-after-down where in the past he would be in the mix for two or three snaps, then you would not see him for the rest of the game. His endurance and play making ability has improved greatly because of it. From what I have observed from Rams’ guards, Chris Williams and Harvey Dahl, this will be a difficult matchup for them to have to deal with Hatcher. These guards don’t move all that well which means they struggle with quickness. Jason Hatcher is playing at the top of his game right now and has an opportunity to control this game inside.
Under The Radar: Dwayne Harris
In this game against the Rams, Dwayne Harris might only get one or two shots at either a kickoff or punt return but it could make a difference in the outcome of the game. The Rams are one of the best in the league when it comes to covering punts and kicks largely because of the job that both Johnny Hekker and Greg Zuerlein do in that area. Hekker is one of the top punters in the league with a 46.7 net average. Last week against the Chiefs, the Cowboys special teams unit did a much better job of blocking to give Harris a chance to find some space.
After studying the tape, Harris left some yards on the field during his 22 yard punt return, when he could have cut it back inside. I don’t expect Harris to make the same mistake this week. This Cowboys special teams group under Rich Bisaccia is starting to develop some core guys to go along with the veterans like Danny McCray, Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar that have been on the squad in the past. You are seeing players step up like J.J. Wilcox and Jeff Heath. This group is much closer to making more plays like we saw last week with a big return either on a kickoff or punt return and Dwayne Harris will play a critical role in making that happen.
St. Louis Rams
Cowboys Nemesis: Cortland Finnegan
Finnegan is a non-stop competitor that will fight you during the play and many times afterwards. He has always played the game to the echo of the whistle.
Finnegan has played his entire career under Jeff Fisher, who has always taken a liking to these types of players. He has an edge to his game. Finnegan will line up mainly on the left side at corner and when defensive coordinator Tim Walton goes to his nickel package, he puts Finnegan in the slot and he will cover from there. Finnegan plays with a great deal of quickness and savvy. He will line up very tight and looks most comfortable playing this way but there have been some snaps in the first two games where he and Janoris Jenkins have been asked to play in off coverage or more zone. When he plays tight, there is not as much room or space with him, so you have to be careful attacking him. It is when you can get him in off coverage that you will have the most success. There were some snaps in nickel against the Falcons where they did just that out of the slot.
The Weapon: Tavon Austin
One of my favorite players in the 2013 NFL Draft was West Virginia wide receiver, Tavon Austin. There is a real dynamic to his game, with the explosiveness in which he plays with. He is one of those players that you can line up at any position and he is going to cause the defense problems. He is a fearless player that will go all over the field to make a play.
Offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer has lined him up in the slot, out wide and in the backfield as a running back. Schottenheimer has been very creative getting him the ball. Once in his hands, you really hold your breath when on defense because he has that ability to score from anywhere on the field. On tape through these first two games, you can see that opponents are struggling to gage his speed and quickness. For a short player, he does play with power and he can break tackles. Austin can be a nightmare to cover in the open field one-on-one because of his elusiveness. You have to get people to the ball in a hurry to get him on the ground now to not allow him to make those explosive plays.
Under The Radar: Greg Zuerlein
It’s not often that you break down an opponent’s kicker, but here you go. Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey is just as valuable to the team as Dez Bryant and DeMarcus Ware. What Bailey brings to this squad is nothing short of amazing. When you have a player on your roster that has the ability of Bailey, it takes a great deal of pressure off of the coaches to have to make decisions. Rams kicker, Greg Zuerlein is similar to Bailey in that he is as automatic as they come when kicking field goals. Through two games this season, Zuerlein is a perfect 5-for-5 and is 2nd in the NFL on kickoffs with 75 percent of his kicks travelling out of the end zone.
During the 2012, Zuerlein was able to connect on 7-of-13 field goals from 50 yards plus, so you can see that Jeff Fisher is not afraid to trot him out there once the Rams cross midfield. What has to concern Jason Garrett and this defensive staff, if the score is within three or less points, how do you play defense to not allow the Rams to get in field goal range either at the end of the half or game. It can be a tricky situation to deal with when you have a kicker that can change the direction of the game with one swing of the leg.
EARTH CITY, Mo. — The football world is fixated out West, where the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks engaged in an arms race this summer to bolster their playoff-ready rosters. Then, both teams saw a key skill-position player go down to injury, which drew even more attention.
Oh, and both teams have bright, young, promising quarterbacks who have become media darlings.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis Rams went 4-1-1 against the NFC West last season, feature a former No. 1 pick at quarterback, have one of the top defensive fronts in the league and possibly have the youngest roster. Let’s not forget about St. Louis just yet, even if they crave this under-the-radar status. Here is what I heard spending the day with an enthusiastic Rams group:
1. Bradford the teacher: For the first time in his young football career, Sam Bradford has had the same offensive coordinator two years in a row. Heading into his fourth season, Bradford finally can spend training camp without the burden of learning an offense. That should pay off for the Rams, and not just because Brian Schottenheimer can be as creative as he’d like with Bradford and a versatile, fast group of skill players. As general manager Les Snead told me in his office, “Instead of learning the system himself, (Bradford) can actually help teach it. Last year, he couldn’t help teach it. Like he tells me, ‘I can actually go teach the rookie,’ ” Because of a variety of factors — nagging injuries, a struggling offensive line — Bradford hasn’t been as consistent. That should change this year. Signing left tackle Jake Long bolstered Bradford’s group of bodyguards, with coach Jeff Fisher telling me the offensive line is a strength this year.
2. Youth should catch on fast: Spend a little time around the Rams, and the youthful enthusiasm is contagious. No, not everyone is young. Fisher is 55, for instance. But it all feels young and relaxed and exciting. The Rams were one of the youngest teams in 2012, and they will be again this season. At receiver, Austin Pettis is considered a veteran and he’s just 25. In the front seven, defensive linemen Chris Long and Kendall Langford are grizzled vets, entering their sixth seasons. Optimism abounds. Snead told me the rookies aren’t playing young, they aren’t slowing down physically to catch up mentally. That’s one reason Tavon Austin has looked as quick as a Ram as he did as a Mountaineer. “That will allow these guys to start thinking less and playing to their college speed faster,” Snead said. “There’s always that for rookies, it’s more complicated, there are more checks. They can be a little bogged down so they don’t look quite like they did in college athletically, the central nervous system isn’t catching up. That’s the thing about this group. They’re picking up football and what we do faster.” Just one reason everyone is gushing about Austin, first-round linebacker Alex Ogletree and the rest of the rookies.
3. How uncomfortable can you feel?When the Rams first started rebuilding, they wanted to beef the team up one unit at a time. Stack one group, then move on to another, like the Giants did with their defensive line. It appears St. Louis has done just that. When I mentioned to an opposing coach that I planned to visit the Rams, the response was, “Oooh, that front seven.” Yeah. People know. The goal is to make quarterbacks uncomfortable, which should make them even better at covering on the back end. The Rams don’t have all the answers on defense, but they don’t have a ton of questions, either. Even at safety, rookie T.J. McDonald is already opening eyes — he was calling the defense a day ago. The goals are to have Top 10 units on offense and defense, and that is within reach.
4. The Rams could be around for a while: The youth of the Rams is one reality for the organization. “It’s cool to have the youngest team,” Snead told me. “I think we’ve upgraded talent. We’re better. Now, we just gotta get experience, go on stage, and know our lines.” The other side is, because of that youth and because of the financial health of the team, they’ll be around for a while. They had two first-round draft picks in April thanks to the Robert Griffin III trade, and they have two more in 2014. Heading into next offseason, the only key free agents to be are tackle Rodger Saffold and linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar. There aren’t any for the following offseason, either. For two years, no one is going anywhere. And even Bradford, who has the final megadeal for rookie quarterbacks, will only cost the team $36 million over the next three years. It’s not cheap like Andrew Luck’s deal, but it’s not crippling either. Their key parts should stick together. In other words, we might want to get used to hearing about the Rams.
5. Expect to hear a lot of names on offense: At receiver, there are at least five players in the mix for playing time, and Fisher told me, “We’ll use them all. It’s none of these, ‘I want the ball things,’ any of that stuff. They just want to play, get where they need to get to, so Sam can make a play.” Austin is the hot name now, but Chris Givens has had a really strong offseason and camp. At tight end, free-agent signee Jared Cook began building his rapport with Bradford during sessions in the summer. They’ve already connected endlessly in camp, making one believe he’ll serve as Bradford’s security blanket like Danny Amendola was in 2012. What the coaches also like is that when Bradford throws it, Cook catches it. “Jared has a giant receiving radius,” Fisher said. “With Sam’s accuracy, Sam can put the ball out of frame to complete it. And they work really well together.” With Steven Jackson gone at running back, Fisher said the situation could be “playing two or three backs all the time. Which is good.” As I said, get ready to hear a lot of names for the Rams’ offense.
The St. Louis Rams added some, um, size to their offensive line this offseason in the form of 400-pound Terrell Brown out of Ole Miss.
The tackle, who was officially listed as 385 pounds by Ole Miss, tipped the scales in St. Louis at 403 pounds, according to head coach Jeff Fisher.
“We had him in for a rookie tryout and he had some issues we had to clear up from a physical standpoint. But we put that behind us. We worked him out on both sides of the ball and decided that his best position would be offensive tackle,” Fisher stated.
Brown certainly has size, but experience, not so much. He played in only ten games in two seasons at Mississippi after a redshirt year and an injury during his two JUCO seasons.
Brown’s sheer size forced NFL.com to try to recall anyone in the league larger than Brown, which is an accomplishment in itself.
FORMER DC STILL FISHING: Dallas Cowboys ex-defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will not run St. Louis Rams defense
Remember when Rob Ryan agreed to be the St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator? Well, about that…
The Rams announced Tuesday that Ryan will not run their defense in 2013.
“After extensive conversations regarding defensive philosophy, the Rams and Rob Ryan agreed he was not the right fit for the club’s defensive coordinator position,” COO/Executive VP of Football Operations Kevin Demoff told the team website. “The Rams will continue the interview process with the club’s other candidates.”
The Rams seemed poised to add Ryan to an already strong defense that led the NFL with 52 sacks. Ryan’s boisterous persona, however, can rub some the wrong way. He proclaimed that he’d be out of a job for “like five minutes” when the Dallas Cowboys fired him earlier this month.
No details were given, but Ryan does prefer a 3-4 scheme to the Rams’ 4-3. That could have been the difference in philosophy, but it’s odd the team didn’t deny reports last week that Ryan had been hired, now calling them premature. It appears something changed in the last five days.
The Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints are the other teams still searching for a defensive coordinator. Ryan’s five minutes might turn into much more if he can’t make a late push for one of those two jobs, or isn’t willing to take a lesser position.
Courtesy: Kareem Copeland | NFL Around the League Writer
RELATED: Rams Continue Defensive Coordinator Search
– Despite reports over the weekend that the Rams had hired Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator, the team confirmed Tuesday morning that those reports were pre-mature. In fact, the Rams went so far as to say that despite long conversations with Ryan concerning defensive philosophy, the sides couldn’t find a common ground and the team is actually moving on to interview other candidates.
– From COO/Executive VP of Football Operations Kevin Demoff:
“After extensive conversations regarding defensive philosophy, the Rams and Rob Ryan agreed he was not the right fit for the club’s Defensive Coordinator position. The Rams will continue the interview process with the club’s other candidates.”
– In other words, Rob Ryan will not be the hire. No specifics are available yet on what exactly the disagreement on philosophy was though one would imagine Ryan’s general preference for the 3-4 would have factored in at some capacity. The Rams run a 4-3 defense and the lack of scheme fit would be an obvious reason.
– No word on who some of the other candidates under consideration are but coach Jeff Fisher has traditionally taken his time and played such hires close to the vest.
– The team did announce the hire of Frank Bush as linebackers coach on Tuesday.
– More on this as it comes.
Source: Nick Wagoner – Senior Writer | Official site of the St. Louis Rams
Link to article (above): Click HERE to read the story
LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE: 2013 Dallas Cowboys schedule includes Denver, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Green Bay
The Cowboys’ loss put them in third place in the NFC East, leaving them to play play third-place teams St. Louis (at home) and New Orleans (on the road) next season.
The rest of the Cowboys’ home schedule next season includes the Giants, Redskins and Eagles from the NFC East, plus Green Bay, Minnesota, Denver and Oakland.
The remaining road games for the Cowboys next year are at the Giants, Redskins, Eagles, plus Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City and San Diego.
Hall of Fame 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice used to run up the stairs of San Francisco’s Candlestick Park as part of his basic training. Sunday, two Rams rookies reportedly did the same—not by choice.
St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher made cornerback Janoris Jenkins and wide receiver Chris Givens run those same stadium stairs shortly before kickoff as an extended punishment for violating a team rule. Both Jenkins and Givens already were deactivated for the Rams’ afternoon game with the Niners, which ended in a 24-24 tie. Fisher didn’t allow the pair to play because of a curfew violation.
Fisher has brought a much-needed sense of discipline in his first year as the Rams’ coach and sent a strong message in Week 10, as his team responded with a great road effort. In the case of Jenkins and Givens not suiting up, the next men up happened to be fellow rookies, cornerback Trumaine Johnson and wide receiver Brian Quick.
Jenkins and Givens had been key contributors through the first half of the season, so it shows that Fisher isn’t giving anyone special treatment. Given the workout they just got, you can bet the rookies will think more than twice before being late for anything.
NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL and its locked-out officials met the last two days, but a person familiar with the negotiations said Friday the sides remain far apart and no further talks are scheduled.
The source said that there are "significant and serious economic gaps."
Michael Arnold, counsel and lead negotiator for NFL Referees Association, acknowledged the discussions, saying his group reached out to the league last week and the NFL agreed to meet. He said there may be additional talks, but it is "not appropriate" to comment on specific issues.
The NFL locked out the regular officials in June and has been using replacements as the season enters its third full weekend. Many players, coaches and fans have been upset with what they say is poor officiating. The NFL has warned teams that it won’t tolerate confrontational behavior toward the new officials.
The NFL locked out the regular officials after their contract expired. Negotiations with the NFLRA broke down several times during the summer, including just before the season. This is the first time the league is using replacements since 2001.
The collection of small college officials working the games has drawn tough criticism from those on the field. Monday night’s game between Atlanta and Denver underlined the matter, with Broncos coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio engaging in heated arguments with officials.
In response, the league, according to NFL.com, said Thursday night that senior NFL officials called owners, general managers and coaches from all 32 teams to tell them that respect for the game demands better conduct.
NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson noted "unacceptable behavior" and added "we’re not going to tolerate it." He said flags, fines and suspensions are possible for coaches or players who cross the line.
"There’s no doubt the integrity of the game has been compromised not having the regular officials out there," Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka has said. "We’ve got to get that taken care of."
What the fans seem most annoyed with is the lack of pace to games, notably Monday night’s win by the Falcons that dragged on past midnight. The NFL has said that it is trying to upgrade the officiating through training tapes, conference calls and meetings.
The league and the NFLRA, which covers more than 120 on-field officials, are at odds over salary, retirement benefits and operational issues. The NFL has said its offer includes annual pay increases that could earn an experienced official more than $200,000 annually by 2018. The union has disputed the value of the proposal, insisting it would ultimately reduce their compensation.
"We just all hope, and I’m speaking on behalf of all 31 other head coaches, we hope they get something done," Rams coach Jeff Fisher has said. "We’re trusting that they will."
On Thursday, Cowboys Stadium opens its doors to fans of all ages for the Dallas Cowboys Silver & Blue Debut Presented by Miller Lite.
The event will be a free practice, open to all Cowboy fans anxious to see the team in action before the 2012 season officially kicks off. The practice will officially start at 4:30 p.m. However, parking will open up at 2:30 p.m., the plazas will open at 3 p.m. and the doors to the stadium will open at 3:30 p.m.
Parking at the stadium will be $10.
The team will be preparing to face the St. Louis Rams in their third preseason game and first home game of the season.
Running back Lance Dunbar returned to practice Monday after missing two weeks with a hamstring. He missed the first two preseason games, so the Cowboys hope to see him Saturday at Cowboys Stadium against the St. Louis Rams.
“He’s mentally into what we’re doing. He understands what we’re doing. He has a good feel for our offense,” running backs coach Skip Peete said after the work at Chargers Park against the San Diego Chargers. “We just have to, obviously, give him the opportunity to get in there and get the work as a runner – carrying the ball, running routes, catching the ball. But he was doing fine before he got injured.”
The former North Texas and Haltom High standout has fallen behind another North Texas product, running back Jamize Olawale, but still remains high in the coaches’ minds.
“He’s a talented runner,” Peete said. “He’s a much better protector than I anticipated, being a guy of his size. So that’s a plus that was very impressive the first couple of days of practice. He’s a very explosive player and very dangerous. I’m excited to see what he can do in a preseason game.”
While in New York for the NFL Draft in April, LSU defensive lineman Michael Brockers said he would always be a Dallas Cowboys fan.
Despite being selected by the St. Louis Rams, Brockers showed on Thursday that he is still supporting the Cowboys even when he signs a contract with another NFL team.
In a photo posted on the Rams’ official Twitter feed (see above), Brockers can be seen signing what appears to be his contract with a Dallas Cowboys key lanyard hanging out of his pocket.
“I grew up a major Cowboys’ fan and still am and always will be,” Brockers told the Star-Telegram in April (see below). “I would love to play for the Cowboys. That would be a dream come true.”
Many mock draft experts projected the Cowboys to select Brockers with the 14th overall pick. And while Brockers came off the board at No. 14, the Cowboys were no longer in possession of the pick, trading it to the Rams in exchange for the No. 6 overall selection, which was used to grab Brockers’ college teammate, Morris Claiborne.
RELATED: April 25, 2012 – Michael Brockers is rooting for the Cowboys to draft him
NEW YORK – Michael Brockers is rooting for Mark Barron. The LSU defensive lineman wants Barron to keep rising up draft boards, ahead of the Cowboys’ choice at No. 14.
“I grew up a major Cowboys’ fan and still am and always will be,” Brockers told the Star-Telegram on Wednesday. “They have needs. Hopefully Barron’s gone before they pick, and I’m the last player to fill their needs, and they pick me.
“I would love to play for the Cowboys. That would be a dream come true.”
Most mock drafts have Dallas selecting Barron, the Alabama safety. ESPN’s Adam Schefter predicted Wednesday that Barron “will not make it to No. 14; Mark Barron will not reach the Cowboys’ turn.”
“It would be an honor to be drafted by the Cowboys,” Barron said. “A lot of family are Cowboys’ fans, so of course, that would be great. But it will be great to go to whatever team drafts me.”
Courtesy: Charean Williams | Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
IRVING, Texas — The first phone call came around noon on Thursday, and the Dallas Cowboys were quite surprised to hear the St. Louis Rams were willing to move down in the first round.
There was only one player owner/general manager Jerry Jones wanted to move up to get, and that was LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. He was the second-highest rated player on the draft board behind Andrew Luck, who was going to the Indianapolis Colts.
Jones said the scouts told him Claiborne was the highest-rated corner on their draft boards since Deion Sanders.
“Deion had the highest touchdown-per-touch of any player in NFL history,” Jones said.
The Cowboys hadn’t spent much time with Claiborne during predraft workouts because, as executive vice president Stephen Jones said Thursday night, they “didn’t think it was realistic” the team would be able to draft him from the No. 14 position.
Only assistant secondary coach Joe Baker and a few scouts had spoken to Claiborne. Baker talked to Claiborne at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.
But as the draft started Thursday night, the Rams called again. And this time the move was made. The Rams offered the sixth overall pick and asked for the Cowboys’ 14th overall pick and their second-round selection (45th overall) to make the deal.
Stephen Jones was surprised at what was being offered.
Under one draft trade chart, normally a team would give up not only a second-round pick, but a fourth-round pick, as well, to move up from 14 to 6.
But St. Louis didn’t ask for that much, and after about a four minute conversation, the Cowboys agreed to the deal.
“We didn’t know for sure they would do the trade,” Stephen Jones said. “All the trades are contingent on getting done when you get on the clock and agreeing to everything.”
St. Louis took LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers with the 14th pick.
The Rams, coming off a 2-14 season, are in a rebuilding process and trying to accumulate as many draft picks as possible. So, on Day 2 of the draft, the Rams have the first and 13th picks of the second round. In Round 3, the Rams have the second pick.
The Cowboys have just one pick, the 19th pick (81st overall) in Round 3.
“No one values a pick more than I do,” Stephen Jones said. “It makes me sick we don’t have the second pick, but if you’re going to get an elite player from the 14th hole in the draft it’s going to cost you something.”
The Dallas Cowboys made one of the memorable trades of the first round, sending their 14th pick and a second-rounder to the Rams for the right to select No. 6 overall. It was a bold move, and one that left them with an elite player at a key position — LSU CB Morris Claiborne.
In a wacky first day of the NFL Draft, this was old-school Jerry Jones being his usual wacky and bold self. This will be one that will be talked about for years. But the surprising thing was reaction from the Cowboys from a value standpoint.
In short, they kinda feel like they fleeced the Rams. Sure, St. Louis is Need City. But not this bad. Anyway, listen to Cowboys VP Stephen Jones talk after the news conference.
“We said, ‘Well, what we do we need to do to come up?” Stephen Jones recounted. “And the (Rams) said, ‘We may not need as much as we normally would.‘ “
If you look at the draft value chart — right here — Jones said it really should’ve been a second and a fourth to move up those eight spots. And he’s right with the math. The rookie wage scale may change things… But anyway, why was it so cheap?
Jones wasn’t sure. But they feel like they got a special player out of it.
“Maybe they just were wanting to accumulate some picks,” Jones said. “And maybe who they were after, they didn’t feel like they needed to be that high. I don’t know. I can’t answer that other than, we thought that was pretty interesting. Of course, when we went through it one more time, then we were really interested. There was one guy we would go up for and that was it. Other than that, we were keeping our picks.“
When Claiborne made it to four, Jerry Jones was on the phone with him. When Jacksonville traded up, the Cowboys knew it. But they had to make sure the blockbuster was still on. And that point, the Rams tried to squeeze a little more out of it.
“We didn’t know for sure they’d do the trade,” Stephen Jones said. “Still. All the trades are contingent on getting them done. We called and said, ‘OK, we’ll do it. And they tried to sweeten it a little bit. (Laughs). But that wasn’t the deal. And that’s what we did.“
Courtesy: Ian Rapoport | NFL
02:28 – What will former LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne bring to the Cowboys defense?
The Dallas Cowboys open the regular season on national TV against the defending World Champion New York Giants.
The team’s pre-season opener doesn’t have the same ring, but it too will be nationally televised.
The Cowboys open on the road against the Oakland Raiders on Aug. 13 (Monday night) in a game that will be televised on ESPN. The game is schedule to kick-off 7 p.m. locally.
The club returns to Oxnard, Calif. for training camp which means the first two games will be on the West Coast. The Cowboys will visit the San Diego Chargers for a game the week of Aug. 16-20 before returning home.
The Cowboys final two games at Cowboys Stadium will be against St. Louis (Aug. 23-26) and Miami (Aug. 29-30).
Specific dates and times have not been set for the final three pre-season games. But since the Cowboys open the regular season on Sept. 5, their game against the Dolphins will likely be scheduled on Aug. 29 to leave a full week to prepare for the game against the Giants.
The Cowboys training camp plans have not been finalized, but they are likely to report to Oxnard that last, full week in July, meaning the California portion of camp will run in the neighborhood of 30 days. Rookies can be asked to report up to five days before the rest of the team which will add to the prolonged stay.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell letter details path for Gregg Williams’ return to coaching, implementing programs on safety a key requirement
There’s no clear-cut timeline for when Gregg Williams possibly can resume his NFL coaching career, but Commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly has detailed a path back to the league for the disgraced St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator.
"I will review your status at the conclusion of the 2012 season and consider whether, and if so, on what terms, you may be reinstated and again eligible to be employed in the NFL," Goodell wrote in a letter to Williams, according to SI.com’s Peter King, after suspending the coach indefinitely for his role in the New Orleans Saints’ "bounty scandal.
"In making this decision, I will give considerable weight to the extent to which you cooperate with my office in any further proceedings, as well as developing and implementing programs designed to teach players and coaches — particularly at other levels of the game — how to play football in a way that is safe, fair, and that respects the game and those who participate in it … I appreciate that this decision will be difficult for you. I hope you will use the opportunity to reflect on how you can return to the NFL in a way that honors the game and improves it for those who participate in it."
Williams previously apologized for his actions as Saints defensive coordinator, and he issued another remorseful statement after the NFL announced its punishments last week.
"I’d like to again apologize wholeheartedly to the NFL, Coach (Jeff) Fisher, the entire Rams organization and all football fans for my actions," Williams said in the statement.
"Furthermore, I apologize to the players of the NFL for my involvement as it is not a true reflection of my values as a father or coach, nor is it reflective of the great respect I have for this game and its core principle of sportsmanship. I accept full responsibility for my actions. I highly value the 23 years that I’ve spent in the NFL."
Saints head coach Sean Payton also earned a one-year suspension without pay, and general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for the first eight games of the 2012 season. The suspensions could be appealed, and SI.com reports that people are split in their viewing of the fairness of Payton’s suspension, but league counsel Jeff Pash told the website that Goodell wanted to make a statement with the sanctions.
"The commissioner has been clear from day one that he wants to change the culture of the game," Pash said, while also adding that the league did not find bounty programs within other organizations.
"He wants to eliminate the gratuitous hits, and eliminate any excessive violence that has no place in the game. If accomplishing that includes harsh penalties that some people feel are excessive, then so be it. We are comfortable with the sanctions."
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The Washington Redskins have acquired the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft, sending three first-round picks to the St. Louis Rams, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.
Known for making big splashes during his tenure as owner of the Redskins, Daniel Snyder authorized his boldest move yet as the team will send this year’s first-round pick (sixth overall) and second-round pick, as well as first-round picks in 2013 and 2014, for what are expected to be the rights to draft Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. Jay Glazer of Fox Sports first reported the news.
The trade will not become official until Tuesday.
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is expected to go first overall to Indianapolis, and the trade with St. Louis puts the Redskins in line to select a potentially game-changing franchise quarterback.
The Redskins had been in discussions with the Rams to acquire the No. 2 pick since the NFL Scouting Combine. The Rams already have their franchise quarterback in third-year pro Sam Bradford, and sought to move the pick for pieces that would expedite their rebuilding process.
Plagued by inconsistent quarterback play for the better part of 20 seasons, and with Coach Mike Shanahan entering his third season with the franchise and needing to reverse his fortunes after consecutive double-digit loss seasons, Washington was prepared to make a bold move.
It was believed that the Rams would command a price similar to that of the San Diego Chargers in 2004 when they received two first-round picks along with third- and a fifth-rounder from the New York Giants for Eli Manning.
But Washington ended up giving much more – an indication of team officials’ high opinion of Griffin, and the level of pressure Shanahan is facing. That move means mortgaging the future, but if Griffin, who won the Heisman Trophy last fall, is as good as advertised, he will ignite a struggling franchise and also buy Shanahan more time.
“You’re not giving [those picks] away. You’re getting a quarterback who has star power,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said Thursday when asked about the price of moving up to acquire the Rams’ pick and the chance to draft Griffin. “I don’t care about the spots you move up. It’s a quarterback-driven league. Griffin is red hot right now. … Dan Snyder knows what [the Redskins] need, and they’ve got to get a quarterback. They beat the Giants twice, and they beat Green Bay a year ago. He knows the missing link in Washington is quarterback.”
The Redskins and Browns both had interest in St. Louis’ pick, but Cleveland had multiple needs and didn’t want to part with both the fourth and 22nd overall picks of this year’s draft, and bowed out.
Washington had aggressively pursued Peyton Manning following his release from the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday. But with Manning indicating that he didn’t have a desire to come to Washington, the team turned it’s focus to the draft, and pulled off the blockbuster deal with the Rams.
DeMarcus Ware starts at right outside linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys.
He finishes at the quarterback.
In between, he’s all over the place.
The Seattle Seahawks’ left tackle, Russell Okung, will match up with Ware some of the time Sunday. Their right tackle, James Carpenter, will face Ware other times. Tight ends, running backs and even interior offensive linemen will contend with him.
Ware, who collected four of his 12 sacks in Week 8, lines up across the formation. He has six of his sacks from the left side of the defense and six from the right, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
This matchup appears particularly tough for the Seahawks. They’ve allowed 28 sacks, most in the league, despite already having a bye week. The Cowboys’ 21 sacks on defense rank sixth among teams with seven games.
The St. Louis Rams attempted 33 passes and took only one sack at Dallas two weeks ago, but they averaged only 9.8 yards per completed pass. Ware had the one sack, plus two of the Cowboys’ six quarterback hits.
Seattle has taken 20 sacks in its four road games this season, and at least four in every game but the one against Atlanta, when the Falcons had zero.
Penalties are another concern for the Seahawks’ offensive line. The line has committed 19 accepted and declined penalties this season. That includes 12 in four road games and seven in three home games.
Here are the BOLD predictions from Robert A Knight … Our very own self-proclaimed prediction guru. His newish crystal ball (was on the discount rack at Goodwill) overheated about 6:00 pm last Sunday (from all of the red marks on the game summary)! After storing it in the freezer for 72 hours … The GREAT Robbini has gradually thawed it back to room temperature. He’s been steadily rubbing and chanting, to bring out Dallas Cowboy vibe we all count on from week-to-week. Last week, three of The GREAT Robbini predictions came true. Unfortunately, seven didn’t! After reviewing the postgame stats, a little bit of leniency was granted … bringing last weeks predictions to the 50% ish level. Rest assured, The GREAT Robbini is never discouraged! He’s back this week … fired up … and Jerry Jones’n for some NFC EAST rival football!
Since The Boys Are Back in Philly, we can expect a rowdy Halloween Eve crowd and a determined wannabe Dream Team fighting for a divisional win! It’ll be America’s Team vs All-Hype Team. Last Sunday the Dallas Cowboys took out their vengeance on the lowly St. Louis Rams … Philly rested up on their bye week. Time for The GREAT Robbini’s predictions … I’m sure you’ll agree … most of these are very BOLD. OK, here we go …
“We might not win all-hype team. That title goes to someone else. We’re gonna beat their ass when we play them.” Mark these words, of the always on fire, Dallas DC Rob Ryan.
The Cowboys fly to PHI on a mission and will display Ryan’s patented 24/7 defense. For those unfamiliar, that’s where the other guys feel what we just did for a WEEK. This is an eye opener kinda game and after this match the Cowboys just might be up for that title Ryan dismissed after all.
The GREAT Robbini
- Dallas Cowboys have at least 2 takeaways
- Michael Vick sacked at least 3 times
- Sean Lee leads in tackles
- DeMarcus Ware 2 sacks
- PHI punts 6 or more times
- Tony Romo at least 2 TD’s
- TD Diamond Dez Bryant
- TD Jason Witten
- Jason Witten has 5 + catches
- Miles Austin doubles his stats from a week ago (had 2 receptions for 16 yards)
- Dallas Cowboys gain 85 yards + rushing
- Dallas Cowboys control clock
- Game ends in regulation
- Boys bring in replacement, because of a starter’s injury occurring in this game.
- Eagles bring in replacement, because of a starter’s injury occurring in this game.
- NBC crew mispronounces at least 1 Dallas Cowboys’ name
Remember, you read it here! The Great Robbini predictions for week #8.
The Boys Are Back POSTGAME SUMMARY: Check back here after the game for the summary.
For a team that just had to have Nnamdi Asomugha back in August, the Dallas Cowboys seem to be doing just fine with their cornerback position.
So much so that they spent several plays Sunday against the St. Louis Rams rotating the third and fourth corners into the game on the base defense. There were a handful of plays that saw Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins on the sideline while backups Orlando Scandrick and Alan Ball played on the outside.
It’s just an example of the depth the Dallas Cowboys have displayed at cornerback this year.
“We’ve got depth at a lot of positions like that,” Newman said. “I think this whole team is deep. But (at corner), we’ve got some good talent. Alan Ball has played great for us this year when we’ve had some injuries.”
Newman is right in that Ball has been forced into action, and that started back in training camp when Newman went down with a groin injury and Jenkins suffered a stinger. Then in the regular season opener, Scandrick suffered a high-ankle sprain and missed a month.
Ball played well enough to get a shot on defense, even after the starters have returned.
And while the competition will get much tougher than the Rams, the Dallas Cowboys have already played well in the secondary against the likes of Tom Brady and the Patriots, and for the most part against Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions, although Johnson got the better of the secondary on two costly jump balls.
“I think we’ve played well the last few weeks and really coming together under Rob’s defense,” Newman said of defensive coordinator. “It’s a fun defense to play. And when you have a lot of players like we do to sub in and out, it’s going to keep you fresh for the game and the season.”
As for the Asomugha guy, we’ll get to see him and his Philadelphia Eagles teammates this Sunday night.
Here are 15 things to know about Sunday night’s Philadelphia Eagles – Dallas Cowboys matchup:
1. The Eagles are going to have their hands full with Diamond Dez Bryant. The second-year receiver has 19 catches for 339 yards in five games. He’s averaging 17.8 yards per catch and has scored four times. Bryant has six catches of 25+ yards, tied for seventh-most in the NFL, according to STATS.com. And that doesn’t mean it’s just Tony Romo taking shots deep down the field with Bryant. Yards after the catch are a big part of the equation. Bryant is tough to bring down, and if the Eagles’ defensive backs don’t tackle, Bryant will pile up the YAC. Bryant caught one ball against the Rams at the St. Louis 37. Quintin Mikell met him 6 yards later, but couldn’t bring him down. Bryant broke the tackle and scampered all the way to the 21 for a 34-yard gain, which included 16 yards after the catch. The previous week, against the Patriots, he turned a 5-yard catch into a 33-yard gain, juking two New England defensive backs to the ground.
The owner of the Dallas Cowboys was talking, we think, like the general manager of the Cowboys.
Jerry Jones, who is actually the GM and owner said he’s concerned about using Dez Bryant, one of his dynamic playmakers, on punt returns. It’s pretty interesting to note that Jones has praised Bryant’s ability to return punts where he took two back for touchdowns last year.
But in the 2011 season opener, Bryant injured a thigh forcing him to miss one game and play gimpy in another. He’s healthy now, as evident of his performance on Sunday at Cowboys Stadium. Bryant was running routes almost pain-free and he was trying to break tackles almost at will. Bryant plays the game with passion. He doesn’t give up anything on the football field. You can tell he likes playing football. He’s into every play on offense and defense. He doesn’t stop talking on the sidelines. He’s talking to himself, his teammates, opponents, the coaches and the fans.
There isn’t a weekend that goes by during the football season where you don’t hear a coach or a player tell you how difficult it is to win a game in the National Football League and how grateful they are when they get that victory.
Offensively without quarterback Sam Bradford, running back Steven Jackson was going to struggle. Backup quarterback A.J. Feeley was not going to make enough plays to keep Rob Ryan from trying to gang up on Jackson.
ABRAM ELAM VS. STEVEN JACKSON
Jackson had shown the most success running the ball when he was able to bounce it outside, get around the corner and make defensive backs have to come up in support to handle him with a head of steam.
Jackson had two runs that hurt the Cowboys, and they were on back-to-back plays on the Rams’ touchdown drive. Abram Elam played as well as a safety has played here in a while, but he took a bad angle of each one of those runs. Those were the only minus plays that Elam had.
Elam did a nice job of running down Jackson from the backside earlier in the game. He also made a solid hit on Cadillac Williams, causing a fumble, and made an athletic play on the recovery. Then to finish his day, he came up with a sure tackle on the goal line on a fourth-and-1 to prevent a Rams touchdown.
Linebacker Sean Lee didn’t have a great first half by his standards — overrunning a screen to the outside, getting trapped inside by the guard on a pull and missing a tackle coming from the inside in space. In the second half, Lee was a different player, making quick reads and getting through trash to make stops. Lee was also effective in pass defense, carrying wide receiver Danario Alexander across the formation in zone coverage to defend the ball.
IRVING, Texas — The Cowboys had 60 snaps against St. Louis on Sunday and more than a third of them came with two running backs and two tight ends on the field.
To the football world, that is 22 personnel and it worked beautifully against the Rams.
“I think we just controlled where they were going to line up,” Witten said. “They’re a 4-3 team and they were late in getting the safety down so we were able to get a lot of double teams on them and I think we got some good blocks. But obviously DeMarco ran really well.”
Murray’s two longest runs – 91 and 43 yards – did not come out of that grouping but Phillip Tanner’s 6-yard touchdown run was out of 22 personnel. At one point Jason Garrett ran four straight plays out of 22 personnel in the second half and at least 17 total in the third and fourth quarters.
“It was working,” running game coordinator/offensive line coach Hudson Houck said. “We were making yards and we had a few passes off that and then a few kills off that where we could pass if we wanted to. But why put it in the air other than when we had to?”
I’m sure it’s happening all over the country today. It’s happened already on our radio show a little.
But while Cowboys fans are probably a little relieved to not only see their team win for the first time in 27 days, but finally put a game out of reach and not have to nail-bite to the end, they’re probably hearing coworkers and friends sing the same tune:
“It’s just the Rams.” Yeah, that’d be the 0-6 Rams who entered the game with the NFL’s worst-ranked rushing defense and that will only get worse now after a 294-yard outing, the fourth-best in Cowboys’ history.
And yes, I understand the Cowboys whipped up on a team that should get to play the winner of the upcoming LSU-Alabama game, but they all count, right?
I’m not saying the Cowboys are bound for the playoffs because they smashed the Rams, but they shouldn’t feel bad about getting a lopsided win for a change.
Think about these two points.
1) The Rams were pretty bad back in 2008, too and yet they dominated the Cowboys in a game that many fans will tell you is one of the worst in franchise history. The Cowboys had a few of those that season. Just because a team is so-called “bad” doesn’t guarantee anything. After last year, the Cowboys will take any kind of win.
2) After the Cowboys lost a close one last week to New England, did anyone say, “yeah, but it’s the Patriots?” No one seemed to care that you almost won against a good team. I’m sure the critics just said “hey, you lost.”
Well, if that’s the case, don’t ask the Cowboys or their fans to apologize for getting a win like this. They’ve played some good teams on their schedule so far, so now it’s evening out a little.
That’s the way football goes.
The Boys Are Back commentary: After the impressive win today (yes, it was expected) against the St Louis Rams, the media are already criticizing DeMarco Murray’s performance. Not only in Dallas, but around the country. So far, five other teams in the NFL have had the same opportunity to produce a similar record this season. None have. Jason Garrett and the staff had an excellent gameplan. It worked. Rookie DeMarco Murray should feel good about his accomplishment today … it’s historic. He broke an 18-year-old record! I hope the negative drama-loving press does not continue to demoralize him, the offensive lines effort, or the blockers that did their jobs! They worked hard this week and played well. They deserve credit. The Dallas Cowboys face the Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday night. Dallas won’t rush for 253 yards against them. But they should enter the game with renewed confidence in the running game … after this weeks exceptional performance.