Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Parcells press conference 12/27/06

By Grizz

Wow, in a fast-moving and fast-talking press conference Bill Parcells did the only thing he thought he could do; basically avoid talking about the Philly game and put a positive spin on everything. Coach was very animated and spent a lot of time putting questions back to the reporters or accusing them of only seeing the negative. I'll try to convey the feeling and the context of Parcells answers, but things were moving so fast it was hard to keep up.

We're listing Reeve as questionable; he will try to practice today. Jay Ratliff is questionable, not sure he can do much today, but maybe later in the week. It's a shoulder injury but the MRI looked good. No damage to his rotator cuff.

Any statement on T.O.'s performance and post-game comments? Across the board the team wasn't what I hoped. I look at things for what they are. The first 25 minutes of the game, we had 14 offensive plays; some were short yardage, some goal line, some regular runs. Look at what it really is, we had 6 to 7 [passing] plays to get everyone involved, and that's difficult. We fumbled the ball after their TD.

Post-game frustration happens quite a bit. I don't have anything more to say about it, I'm tired of talking about it already.

Are you worried about a fractured locker room? Absolutely not. I know where we are, when we left Oxnard if someone said we'd be in the playoffs, all of you would've said OK.

But you had a chance to be in a better spot? Everybody has had a chance to be in a better spot, except maybe Chicago. I'm just trying to get ready for Detroit and the tournament.

What about Terry Glenn's comments after the game? I know Glenn a lot better than you, we'll just leave it at that.

Terence Newman said this team has too many talkers not enough doers? I attribute that to post-game frustration.

But he said it again today? What do you want me to say?

We just got to get back to playing better, we did it for 10 or 11 games, we can do it again.

Problems with the pass rush? The pass rush didn't do very well. But I'm looking forward to this week, regardless of how determined you are to stay on something else, I understand it's your job and it's a natural thing, but I'm thinking about something else, not something negative but something positive.

Last week you said we were pretty good against Atlanta, it`s either the outhouse or the castle, but I'm not in that trap you are in.

Nothing is decided, you guys don't know who will win the NFC. If I put out a poll on who will win the NFC, there would be one vote for every team and as soon as the 6th team got in, someone would vote for them.

The team has struggled over the past month: We've played better from time to time, but there were some good spots over the last month. I'm not ready to put the flowers in the hearse. If we do play like we did Monday, then we have no chance. But I don't think they will. I've seen it before and I know what we got, I got good kids, they can respond to competition or we wouldn't have won five games on the road. So going on the road doesn't bother me.

What do you talk to the team about with respect to the Lions? I tell them the team with the best record in the conference played the team with the worst, but if you didn't know which was which, you couldn't tell. The Lions were in that game until the last play, a receiver had both hands on a ball to win it with a TD. That`s what I'm trying to say to everyone, no one knows what will happen in this conference.

Aren't you concerned about the team's play? I'm concerned, but I'm not coming out here like 100 miles of bad road. I just know we can play better, if we do we'll be a factor.

Does Romo need to play better? We all have to play better, I'm not singling anybody out, except maybe Jason Ferguson, he had 9 tackles in that [Philly] game, he played pretty damn good. ed note - I had Ferguson as the defensive MVP of the game, here.

I'm not worried about the past, I'm disregarding it, and once it's over I'm moving on.

I talked to Tony today, he maybe understands what I want from him a little more clearly now. It was a personal conversation.

What do you do if Ratliff can't play? I think Stephen Bowen will get some turns. This team's [the Lions] offense is only 31% run for the season, so you have to be concerned with their receivers, which might necessitate some adjustments that will be obvious when you watch the game.

Anthony Henry's play/knee? Henry did alright the other night. He was better than the week before, the trainers said he came out of the game better.

More on Ratliff's possible absence:? We'll put a different combination of players out there, it's not a "who" but a combination of players. I might dress more defensive lineman for this game.

Pat Watkins? Watkins started cautiously but got better as the game went on.

On the Philly game: They outplayed us and they deserved the win, I know what happens in these games, I'm pretty adamant about knowing my team, I've had them for 19 games so far, I know the players on my team. We're capable of doing better, that being said, I look forward to the opportunity.

Next week could be another short-week and you don't know you playoff opponent yet? I will know the opponent, we've played them all recently, and we play Seattle so many times lately they seem like a division team. I know their QB well.

I would have to look at those games [recent games for Seattle], and I know they've been struggling, but the rest of the teams, #3 through 6, are recent competition. I don't know who #6 is, but we know Atlanta, Carolina, the Giants, not much will change.

On the general struggles of NFC contenders: I wasn't being negative about the Bears, it was just if you didn't know the uniforms, you wouldn't have known which was which. That's why I won't let the negativism that permeates this town stay in place. If I'm negative, the players will be. We won't be judged by the New Orleans game, or the Atlanta game, or the road games we won earlier in the year.

Why are you so positive? If I don't have hope, who will? You sure as hell don't have it.

When did you become so Pollyanna? I'm not Pollyanna. What is the objective of the season? (reporters - win the Super Bowl) Do we have that opportunity? (yes) What about the other 20 teams that don't? Thank you.

Troubles with 3rd down defense? It's a combination of things, I will admit we have trouble pressuring the QB, I'm going to change some things this week in an effort to help that out.

When you were younger, you sometimes took a negative reaction to the your team's play? That's when I knew we were going to win all the time, right now I don't know that, you don't know it, nobody does. You start out the year to get the opportunity. Is everything perfect? No. Is everything perfect in Seattle? How about the Giants? The team that is doing good is Philly, but everyone had them in the mortuary a month ago.

Erratic team has Jones on brink of despair

by Jean-Jacques Taylor

IRVING – Jerry Jones spent the third quarter on the sideline clapping his hands, encouraging his players and exhorting his team to win its first NFC East title since 1998.

It did no good.

By the middle of the fourth quarter, the owner had returned to his suite to watch the final minutes of the Cowboys' Christmas Day debacle.

"A game like this indicts us at the top just straight through," Jones said. "It's disappointing. ... I'm disgusted. I really am."

He has every right to be after the Cowboys' pitiful performance. Philadelphia beat Dallas, 23-7, and, frankly, the score really wasn't that close. The Eagles, like New Orleans two weeks ago, could've picked a score.

That's embarrassing for a team capable of competing for a spot in the Super Bowl considering the mediocre nature of the NFC. But you can't trust this team. Not from week to week. Or quarter to quarter. Sometimes, not even from play to play.

Subtract Dallas' four-game winning streak and this team is 5-6 this season, hardly the picture of consistency. Bill Parcells certainly has no idea which version of the Cowboys is going to show up on a given week.

Neither do the players. Or the owner.

That's one of the reasons Jones was seething after the game. He's weary of the inconsistency and wasted opportunities. Two games ago, a win over New Orleans would've given Dallas an inside track on the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Dallas lost, 42-17. On Monday, a victory would've clinched the NFC East title. This time, the Cowboys lost by 16 points.

Blame the coach.

It's his responsibility to get the players emotionally, physically and mentally ready to play. Clearly, Dallas wasn't. Maybe being home for the holidays was a distraction. Or maybe it's an immature team not ready to play when the stakes are highest. It's not like anyone on this team has ever won a playoff game wearing a Cowboys uniform.

"You can't play like that and not be disappointed. There is not anything really good to say," Parcells said. "I have to take responsibility, because the team didn't look like it was ready to play."

That's an understatement.

Philadelphia's defensive line manhandled the Cowboys' offensive line, which meant Tony Romo and the running backs never had an opportunity to succeed. One third-quarter drive provided a microcosm. Andre Gurode snapped the ball over Romo's head on first down. Then came consecutive illegal procedure penalties by Marc Colombo and Flozell Adams, followed by Marco Rivera giving up a sack on third down.

The defense played worse. Philadelphia totaled 426 yards, converted nine of 16 third downs and kept the ball for 37:06. Dallas couldn't even beat Cedar Hill playing that poorly on defense, especially with William Cole's sweet moves.

Big-time players are supposed to show up in big-time games, but Roy Williams was a nonfactor. So was Terrell Owens, unless you count his drops.

Terence Newman and Bradie James didn't distinguish themselves, and Adams struggled much of the game.

The Cowboys also played without passion. Before the game, Jones walked around the locker room shaking hands and telling his players that the crowd was excited and ready to be a difference-maker.

The fans simply needed the team to provide some impetus. It never occurred. Philadelphia led 7-0 after its first possession. Parcells, sensing his team lacked emotion, went for it twice on fourth down on the Cowboys' second possession.

They made the first one, but Philadelphia stopped Marion Barber on fourth-and-goal from the 1 when rookie fullback Oliver Hoyte watched his man drop Barber for a 3-yard loss.

"We had a walk-in touchdown right there, and [Hoyte] runs right by his man and lets him make the tackle," Parcells said. "That is some of our inexperience showing up. I can't explain it. It's difficult."

It's fair for Jones to cast a discerning eye at Parcells. Two Super Bowl titles don't protect Parcells from the owner's scrutiny. When a team underachieves – make no mistake, Dallas is underachieving – the coach is accountable.

"After tonight, you have to look at the entire organization, and I do," Jones said. "I'm about as frustrated as I've been in my 17 years as owner."

Everyone, including Parcells, should be on edge. That happens when the owner can't stand to watch his team.

Cowboys lack killer instinct

By Grizz
Posted on Tue Dec 26, 2006 at 11:53:43 AM EST

To be a Dallas Cowboy fan, at this moment, is a test of a person's faith. When all outward signs point to a team in collapse, you have to turn inward to find any kind of belief. On Christmas Day, we witnessed the dismantling of a football team. I'll be reviewing the game tape later today, and we can talk about individual players who performed poorly. But as a team, the Cowboys showed a distinct lack of the abstract quality some call the killer instinct. This intangible manifests itself in the form of a team that welcomes the defining moments in a season and takes full advantage of them. The Cowboys are shrinking violets this season when it matters most.

When New Orleans came to town, it was a marquee matchup of the teams destined to be #2 in the conference, second only to a very good, but flawed, Bears team. This was a moment begging for the killer instinct. The time was ripe to put a foot on the throat of the rest of the NFC and to show the Bears they had real competition for the NFC Championship. Nothing was guaranteed by winning that game, but losing it guaranteed they still had to prove themselves. Losing it in the way they did, losing it by completely getting out-classed on the field was an outward display that the killer instinct was absent. No one denies Dallas has the talent to do great things this season, but this team has yet to learn the art of winning when the stakes are the highest.

In the NFL, there are plenty of second chances. One week's death leads to another week's resurrection. The Cowboys got another shot at the big one - a defining game - this time for the coveted NFC East championship, a home-field playoff game, and some restored pride for an organization that has been on the bottom in the East for most of this decade. This was a chance in front of a huge audience to prove this team could beat one of its rivals in the biggest game of the season for both teams. Win this game, and you've developed the killer instinct. You understand what it takes to succeed at a high-level in the NFL. This game had mock-playoff written all over it. This was the test-run. The fact that the Cowboys failed so miserably is enough to shake the last remaining foundations of any fan's belief.

Dallas has had big wins this season. Beating Carolina on the road in Tony Romo's first start was significant; it told the team that they could win with Romo. Beating the undefeated Colts was a huge confidence boost; the team knew they had the talent to play with anybody. The win against the Giants in the Meadowlands built on that momentum and set them up to win the NFC East. All those wins set the Cowboys up for the chance to do something special this season.

NFL teams aren't truly tested until the play in December. That is the crucible that steels a team for the playoffs to come. Twice now, the Cowboys have had the opportunity to do something special at their home stadium in December, and both times have turned in efforts that reek of also-rans. Losing those games by being utterly dominated in every phase of the game leaves very little room for the belief that they can become contenders again.

But it's the NFL, so nothing is over until it's over. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? But having any kind of faith that this team can be counted on when everything is on the line is getting near impossible. There are no more practice runs. They play Detroit on Sunday, and by the end of that day our position in the standings could look very different. We could go all the way from losing to Detroit and basically packing in a season even - though a playoff game would still need to be played; to winning and still capturing the NFC East if Philly tanks against Atlanta. We don't know who or where we'll play in the post-season, but we do know that will be the next test of this team's killer instinct. Fail that test, and the real soul-searching begins.

Analysis of things that might Kill the Cowboys in the Playoffs


Some of the things I saw and every Cowboy fan saw on Christmas Day disappointed us and if we played like we did on Monday, obviously we will be beaten in the wild card in the playoffs. I put some things mostly on the Cowboys defense that need improvement now or were going home after one game in January.

1. The defense is allowing many third downs that keeps opponents drives alive. All I can say is just look at the last three weeks. A lot of is due to lack of defensive pressure, Garcia was able to find an open receiver because he wasn't breathed and had to complete passes, in fact the last 3 games quarterbacks were getting third down after third down conversions. Each time I saw the defense giving up third downs, their entire energy seemed to be sucked out of the life from them each time they gave up a third down. No wonder the offense has to play catch up most of the game or having such a low possession time because the defense isn't doing the job.

2. Where's the pass rush? Any football fan on Monday saw on Monday that the Eagles quarterback Jeff Garcia could have taken a nap with the pressure he was getting. No player other than Demarcus Ware is even worth mentioning as playing good or getting to the quarterback. That's one of the main reasons why the last three times are converting third downs, they are not getting any pressure. I think for next year the Cowboys need to go get themselves a free agent defensive end because Canty and Spears are playing horrible. Canty is playing too high of positioning on running and passing plays, Jason Ferguson is a run stopper not a pass rusher, and Spears is not even worth mentioning as a pass rusher. If they can get themselves a decent defensive end in the free agent market and a true nose tackle in the college draft, compiling that with Greg Ellis' return then we can be unstoppable in getting pressure. Like I said before losing Greg Ellis was huge because he was double teamed most of the time allowing DeMarcus Ware to get free or single blocked to get pressure on the quarterback.

3. The Safety Blitz. Many of these safety blitzes by Roy Williams or a double safety blitzes are not working at all. They either come in too quickly and the quarterback audibles out or even if they safety does blitz doesn't get pressure at all. This is playing Russian Roulette because there is no safety covering the middle and all a smart QB has to do is throw a screen in the middle of the field or a pass down the middle. Garcia did that and LJ Smith ran for a big gain on that pass.

4. Sooner or Later the Cowboys will need to open their bag of tricks. When you are down and back into a corner the team who wants to win will open there bag of tricks. The Cowboys have not done that lately, but when the playoffs come and there either tied late or down 3 or 4 they will have to do these plays to win: Flea Flicker, Double Pass, Half back pass, Reverse, Double Reverse, Fake Punt, Fake Field Goal. Sooner or later there going have to do those plays when it really matters in the playoffs in order to advance.

Most of these troubles the last few games is coming from the defense. Their not getting a pass rush, their getting beat deep, their giving up too many third down conversions, and the offense is bailing them out too many times i.e. Falcons game and Giants game. For a team to be a Super Bowl winner, you have to have a good offense. The Cowboys have that, now the defense needs to step up. As the saying goes, "Offense wins games, defense wins championships".

Charles Haley on 103.3...

Recap by Chocolate Lab from a sports forum:

Talking about our lack of pass rush.

He's blaming emphasis on gap-control and the refusal to run stunts. These linemen have to just catch the blocker and hold their ground, not penetrate.

Haley says when he was a 34 OLB at San Fran, he got to rush the passer almost 100% of the time. He says Ware is like him, but he has to drop into coverage much more than Haley got to. He says Ware doesn't get enough reps to be great at rushing.

Says our D needs more sense of urgency. Says exactly what Newman said, that guys need to stop talking so much and start doing it on the field.

Also hates to see players helping other opposing players up so much. He gets sportsmanship, but still, it's a competitive sport and guys need to play more angry. We lack killer instinct. Those guys need to knock guys out when they get a chance.

Also says teams pass on us on first down when those big tackles (base 34) are in there. Says you have to change things up sometimes, or it's too easy on the offense. We are "so basic that a good offensive coordinator can scheme these guys to death".

Thinks T.O. is misunderstood. Doesn't help himself with the dumb things in the media, but also doesn't have problems off the field. Too bad he can't put things in perspective and just play the game. He always has to have a little more, for some reason. But has to make those catches when he gets the opportunities. He has drops at the most inopportune times... Gets frustrated at not getting the ball, but then when he has a chance, he drops it. Still a great talent, though.

Says they always had a rule that if you were going to talk the talk, you had to walk the walk. You could talk, but you had to back it up. Wouldn't have had a problem telling T.O. where he stands. But thinks T.O. is talented enough that he wouldn't confront him too much.

PFT: Chris Simms to Cowboys?

POSTED 5:26 p.m. EST; UPDATED 5:41 p.m. EST, December 27, 2006


A league source tells us that the father of Bucs quarterback Chris Simms recently has been overheard saying that he expects his son to eventually be traded to the Dallas Cowboys.

Another league source, however, tells us that Simms won't be traded.

Simms' father, former Giants quarterback Phil, works as the No. 1 analyst for CBS.

The younger Simms has signed a two-year extension to remain with the Bucs. Our friends at WDAE radio in Tampa tell us that the deal is worth $10 million, with a $3 million signing bonus.

Per a league source, the $3 million will be prorated over 2006, 2007, and 2008. Thus, a pre-June 1 trade in 2007 would result in a cap charge of $2 million. The source says that the deal also includes a $2 million base salary for 2007, and a base salary of $2 million for 2008, plus incentives.

In Dallas, starter Tony Romo is signed through 2007. He's scheduled to earn $1 million next season.

If Simms isn't traded, then the move suggests (as we recently explained) that coach Jon Gruden and G.M. Bruce Allen are safe for another year. If Gruden and Allen were on the outs, we doubt that a decision on Simms would have been made before a new coach and/or G.M. had been hired.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Cowboys Mailbag: Eagles had their way with Cowboys up front on both sides of the ball

Tom Orsborn
Express-News Staff Writer

Nose tackle Jason Ferguson described the defensive line's performance Monday as "lackadaisical." Right guard Marco Rivera said the offensive line was "helpless."

Both words are perfects fits for units that were overwhelmed by their Philadelphia counterparts.

The Eagles dominated the line of scrimmage in their 23-7 victory, which is the No. 1 reason why the Cowboys were overwhelmed in the season's biggest game and will likely open the playoffs in soggy Seattle instead of the comfort of Texas Stadium.

Philadelphia gained 204 yards on the ground behind an offensive line headed by Pro Bowl right guard Shawn Andrews. The Eagles finished with 426 yards and converted 56 percent of their third-down attempts (9 of 16), numbers Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said left him "stunned."

"I didn't think under these circumstances with the players I believe we have on defense, there was any way in the world we would not be able to slow them down better than we did tonight," Jones said.

The ineptitude wasn't limited to the defensive line. Dallas had season lows in yards (201) and points because the offensive line wilted against a ferocious Philadelphia front seven that attacked the gaps with an array of stunts and blitzes.

Nearly two months after they sacked Drew Bledsoe seven times in a 38-24 victory, the Eagles dropped his more-mobile successor three times. The steady pressure forced Tony Romo into a shaky performance that included season lows in passing yards (142) and quarterback rating (45.5).

"They didn't do anything different," Rivera said of Philadelphia's front seven. "We didn't see anything new. It was the same defense. They did everything that we knew they were going to do. That's what's frustrating."

If that's true, offensive-line coach Tony Sparano deserves much of the blame.

The offensive line was at its worst during the Cowboys' second possession of the third quarter, with right tackle Marc Colombo and left tackle Flozell Adams committing back-to-back false-start penalties. After a 4-yard run by Marion Barber, the Cowboys were in a third-and-long situation that allowed defensive lineman Darren Howard to get a jump on Rivera and drop Romo for a 6-yard loss.

"I had to move around a lot more than you'd like," said Romo, who completed 14 of 29 and had two fourth-quarter interceptions that thwarted any chance of a comeback. "The Eagles were getting in the gaps and stuff."

No wonder Cowboys coach Bill Parcells chewed out Sparano on the sidelines. Defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers probably heard an earful as well at some point.

Seattle swansong?

by Tom Orsborn
sports writer for the San Antonio Express-News.

IRVING - It all seemed so promising three weeks ago.

But that was before the defense went south and Tony Romo lost his magic touch.

Could it all come to an end in Seattle? That one's a toss-up, although I don't like the Cowboys chances if the defense doesn't right itself.

Given the state of that much-maligned unit, it wouldn't surprise me if Jerry Jones says goodbye to Mike Zimmer at the end of this season.

Jones said the defense's performance was "pitiful" Monday night. That's a reflection of Zimmer, who seemed to be much more comfortable coaching the 4-3.

But let's not forget that Zimmer worked wonders with less talent in 2003. He'll probably take the fall, but what's a coordinator to do when he's got no pass rush, safeties that can't cover and a roster dotted with underachievers?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Cowboys promote CB Butler, waive tight end

By TODD ARCHER / The Dallas Morning News

With Jacques Reeves' availability in question for Monday's game against Philadelphia because of an elbow injury, the Cowboys called up cornerback Quincy Butler from the practice squad and waived tight end Andy Thorn.

Butler, who went to TCU, went to training camp with the Cowboys and has been on the practice squad all season.

Thorn was called up from the practice squad last week and played on special teams vs. Atlanta. If he clears waivers, he will probably return to the practice squad.

Well, so in the past week, we bring up Thorn lose Green. Then sign Thorn back to the Practice Squad if he clears.

I like Butler, think he has a lot of potential.

Wonder what this does to Parrish.

Dallas defense challenges itself

Tom Orsborn

The Dallas Cowboys' defense is running scared. So much so that veteran cornerback Aaron Glenn called a players-only meeting for the unit last week to discuss ways it can get back on track.

"We have a lot of pride," linebacker Bradie James said. "We don't want to be the unit to let this team down."

James and company have good reason to be worried. The defense has allowed an average of 30 points in the past three games and has been burned for a combined 11 touchdown passes by Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Michael Vick.

The playoff-bound Cowboys (9-5) hope to stop those trends Monday when they face the high-flying Philadelphia Eagles (8-6) and quarterback Jeff Garcia. Dallas coach Bill Parcells is confident his defense is up for the challenge of stopping the league's third-ranked offense.

If the Cowboys (9-5) win, they will claim their first NFC East title since 1998 and stay in the chase for the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.

The Eagles (8-6) have won three straight and can clinch a playoff berth with a victory. Philadelphia can gain its fifth division crown in six years if it wins out, including a victory over Atlanta in its season finale.

"I know the kind of players I have, and I just think we can play better defensively," Parcells said.

Said Eagles coach Andy Reid: "I think they have a heck of a defense. Every defense has a weakness here and there, but they don't have many. It's as big and strong a defense as we've played."

It also might be the most vulnerable to the big play that Philadelphia has faced.

Dallas has surrendered five pass plays of more than 50 yards and five runs of 20 or more yards mainly because its front seven struggles to put consistent pressure on the quarterback and its safeties, including Pro Bowler Roy Williams, have problems locating deep balls.

"We know we can't play like that and make a move in the playoffs," nose tackle Jason Ferguson told the Dallas Morning News.

In the first meeting this season, the Eagles burned the Cowboys for TD passes of 87 and 40 yards en route to a 38-24 victory in Philadelphia.

Nearly three months later, Dallas remains susceptible to the pass.

Two weeks ago, the defense ranked seventh overall. But after allowing New Orleans' Brees to pass for five TDs and Atlanta's Vick to throw four, the Cowboys rank 11th overall and 20th against the pass.

But Parcells dismisses Vick's success because he says the game plan left the defense susceptible to the pass.

"The guy we were playing against makes you do things that the normal quarterback wouldn't make you do," Parcells said of Vick, who's poised to become the first quarterback in league history to rush for 1,000 yards. "Looking at what they had done passing, we thought it was better to try to keep tight (one-on-one) coverage on the receivers if we could and use extra people to keep him from buying time and hurting us with his feet, or buying time and finding his receivers.

"At the end of the day, it cost us two long passes resulting in two touchdowns. But it wasn't quite enough to beat us."

That's because the defense stiffened late and held the Falcons scoreless on their final four drives, preserving a 38-28 victory.

Still, Parcells remains worried that the defense will commit the same mental errors that allowed the fullbacks for the Saints and Falcons to combine for five red-zone TDs.

"We've got to get back to the basics, including not turning (fullbacks) loose (in the flat)," James said. "But all those things that have happened to us, that minor thing with the fullback leaking out, that's easily corrected."

Youth concerns Cowboys' Parcells

San Antonio Express-News

Terry Glenn, Al Singleton and Terrell Owens have been there.

Ditto for Jason Ferguson, Aaron Glenn, Marco Rivera, Martin Gramatica, Jason Fabini and Drew Bledsoe.

But what do the rest of the Dallas Cowboys know about what it takes to reach either the conference championship game and/or the Super Bowl?
Very little, and that's what's been keeping Bill Parcells awake at night this holiday season.

"The thing I worry about most, quite honestly, is this particular team getting the sense of what the playoffs will be like," Parcells said.

Only 19 Cowboys have participated in the playoffs. Six have played in only one playoff game.

That's why Parcells is telling his players to do the following:

"Pay attention to detail and do more work studying your opponents. Mistakes send everybody home. Don't be the one that does it."

It's a message he's delivered to each of his 10 playoff teams. Three of those squads — the 1986 and 1990 New York Giants and the 1996 New England Patriots — rode it all the way to the Super Bowl.

Parcells knows he can count on the aforementioned veterans to adhere to it. But what about youngsters like Chris Canty?

Does Patrick Crayton have the stomach for possibly four more games? Is DeMarcus Ware prepared to fight off double-teams in January?

"To take young players who haven't been there or who may just (say), 'Well, we got in the playoffs ...'" Parcells said. "You worry about them kind of feeling pretty good about being there and forgetting there's other teams you're going to play with different aspirations."

That's where veterans like Aaron Glenn come in.

"I've been playing 13 years now," the former Texas A&M standout said, "and I've played in one AFC championship game (in 1998 with Parcells' Jets). It's not easy (to get there), and when you get a chance, you've got to take full advantage of it."

That's why Aaron Glenn is pushing his teammates with Parcells-like intensity.

"I tell young guys all the time: You're not playing for money. ... It's about being a champion. To do that, in December, you have to be way more focused and determined than you've been all year. You have to pay attention to detail. Some of the little things you did wrong or sloppy all year, that stuff's not going to fly now."

Having guys like Aaron Glenn around to preach his message makes Parcells' job easier. It also helps that the Cowboys have played so many playoff-like games this season.

Another is set for Monday. If the Cowboys (9-5) beat the Eagles (8-6), they clinch their first NFC East title since 1998 and move closer to a possible No. 2 seed in the playoffs and a first-round bye.

If the Eagles win, they retain the tiebreaker over the Cowboys for the division title and can wrap up the crown with a victory over Atlanta next week.

Parcells said the Giants, Falcons and Saints all took their "best shots" at the Cowboys and he expects the Eagles to do the same.

"If you are able to survive those and do well, that serves you well because you get battle-hardened," he said.

If the Cowboys beat the Eagles, they will be 3-1 in playoff-type games, a record that should help Parcells relax a bit.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Parcells press conference 12/22/06

By Grizz

I missed the opening question, Parcells in starts in mid-answer. I'm trying to get them to pay attention to detail, that allows you to maintain your aggressiveness, by studying and repetitions, it makes you play fast. You can't be to busy thinking about everything and being a robot, it's not a game of perfect. Sometimes you have to something even if it's wrong. You have to go all out. But hopefully you can combine aggressiveness and intelligence.

Tony Parrish? I talked to Tony today, when a player is new he doesn't understand you, you have no background with him. I explained to him that the inability to get him dressed centers around the problems we had at FB, TE and corners, not him. I was worried about those other positions; we dressed five corners for the first time this year. It has nothing to do with Parrish not being in the system yet. The problem is the game each week, I don't know if it will be any different this week. But I'm explaining it to him that maybe it won't be this week, maybe it will be next week, but hang in there with us.

Does he work on special teams? Special teams wouldn't be his strong suit, he would do it if we asked him. But then Elam may not be doing it that week.

Considering adding a RB or QB for the playoffs? I've been thinking about a RB and a QB. We worked out some runners today. I think nothing will happen with outside people this weekend. On Tuesday we might do something, it depends on the game. We're down to a minimum in those sports.

Who'd you work out? Damien Anderson from Northwestern and Quentin Griffin from Oklahoma. Don't go call their agents were not signing them right now. I also may have a sleeper for you.

How did Griffin look? We worked him out. (laughter)

Jason Hatcher? It's not a good day to talk about him. No, he's doing good.

Why shouldn't we talk about him today? Never mind. He got himself on a list yesterday. He's doing better; he played pretty well the past couple of weeks. I think he's got a good chance to be good. He could play in either defense, 3-4 or 4-3, one of the few guys like that. They're hard to find.

Draft class is now contributing: The way the draft is, you gotta get down the road in these drafts. You need to understand players have different body clocks, just because a player is slower coming along doesn't mean he'll be any less of a player. The expectations of these kids, with all the publicity, everybody thinks they know who was supposed to be something, its unfair pressure. Most of the time, 2 or 3 days after they get here, my weight coach can tell me what we need to do; this guy has no clue or this guy is well down the road. We can do that in 3 or 4 days.

There is so much to do with every young player. Fasano had a struggle this year and he had every advantage coming in, he used the same system and same terminology in college. Chris Canty had that too. But that doesn't mean they necessarily can adjust to pro football right away, it just helps them with the mental part.

Is there more pressure for them to play right way because of the salary cap? It's because of the transient nature of the game now, because of free agency more than the salary cap. But because that's the case, it doesn't mean they'll come along any faster. I try to be astute in this regard, I try to see down the road and tell that player a little about where the road is. The quicker they can get there; first they get some comfort, you know they think at least he's thinking about me instead of me just standing over. I can't tell you next year when the draft class comes in who will play, I can't tell you.

You draft them all with the intent on playing them. It's not an exact science, there are errors in the process, and you just try to cut down on the margin of error, if you can get half right, you're doing great. It's not easy.

What about Skyler Green? He was doing fine, I was upset we lost him. You have to do things from time-to-time that you don't want to, he'd been through waivers twice, and we thought we could get him back. At the end of year teams try to stock up. We're not stocking up; we're trying to get guys in place for next week. I was sorry we lost him, I really was. I thought he might be like a Warrick Dunn one day, that's what I was working on. Maybe they see him as a returner, I don't know. You get an athlete and you try to do something with him. Look at Hoyte, we got him as a LB and now he's a FB.

More on the draft class: Sometimes they're not ready to do anything. I'm charged with winning games, this is not a developmental deal. So you work him in camp and play him some in preseason, and then get him into some regular season games. That's what's happened with Bobby, he's starting to do better. All of those kids, Hatcher, Watkins Fasano, they have the potential to be solid players. McQuistan.

Would you consider starting Carpenter this week? I wouldn't feel bad about it, but I don't know if that's what I'll do. Carpenter's doing something else now too, so we have to divide the labor. Starting means nothing to me, only to you guys.

Crayton? Crayton is doing well, he's got stamina, makes clutch plays, he blocks, but you got to keep your foot on his throat.

Could he be more than just a #3 receiver? I don't know that, but he's a 30-play player in a game, that's over 500 plays in a season. He can catch punts, do some other things, he's increasing his value. I like Patrick, he's matured a lot, but he would eat the cheese pretty quickly when he first got here.

How long can he be content in his current role? Ask Troy Brown, he's in year 13, he started out just like Patrick. He was our 5th guy at receiver in his first year, he never played, I cut him in his second year, and then brought him back. Now he plays offense, defense. I'm proud of that kid; he was an 8th round draft pick.

Is Anthony Henry a little nicked up? Henry's had a little swelling in his knee, the bursa, but it's nothing structural. I'm concerned about it a little, but he's looked good in practice this week.

Is he stuggling a little because they don't throw to Newman? They got the split end over there on his side a lot, and that's usually their best receiver.

Do you think he's struggling? He's struggled some but he's doing a decent job.

Julius Jones? Julius is ready to go. He's feeling good, got plenty of gas. I'm glad I've done what I've done with him. I expect him to do alright, he's got to, he's got to.

Parcells now asks his own question of a reporter. These guys were all born on Christmas Day. One was born in 1927 and was the most valuable player in World Series. Another was born in 1945 and was the QB of a Super Bowl champion. Another born in 1946 and was a participant in one of the most bizarre plays in NY Giants history. The last was born in 1958, I believe, and was a premier stolen base leader. All were born on Christmas Day. I expect your answers to be delivered in the morning. Email them to Rich.

What does he get if he answers them? This is a role reversal, I have to answer your questions everyday. So in the spirit of holidays, I ask a question. We'll see what he's got. Don't help him.

Are you more comfortable with this team than the last playoff team because these guys are your guys, not players you inherited? There's still some guys around from that last team. I don't look at it like that, they're not my players, they're Dallas Cowboys. But I do like my players, they're pretty good listeners. It's a different day and time for these young players; this is the buildup to important stuff, to getting good position, creating a distinct advantage for yourself.

Sometimes the situation doesn't let you do the things you want to fast enough; this is an instant gratification business. But an organization with a decent philosophy, with the team working together in concert; the coaches, the general manager, the owner, the scouts etc can succeed. No stone is unturned in finding talent. I feel more comfortable in that I know each individual player better than the first year.

Parcells then wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

The Dozen Dallas Can't Live Without


Watching Dirk Nowitzki collapse like a bunch of broccoli is always cause for concern. When it happened in Seattle on Wednesday – even though it did not turn out to be a serious injury – it gave birth to a popular barroom argument.

Is Nowitzki the single most indispensable player among the Dallas area's four major pro sports teams?

Fortunately, we are here to provide the answer. A look at the always changing Dynamic Dozen follows.

12. Mike Modano, Stars: Three years ago, he was jockeying with Alex Rodriguez for the top spot on the list. But at 36, on a team that seems to be straddling the line between hanging in there and drifting to irrelevance, he should feel fortunate to remain in the top 12.

The Stars need more offense than he has been able to provide in the season's first half. But what they really need is Modano back on the ice. He still commands attention from the opponents and opens the ice for others. The club's 4-4 record since he went out with a hip injury (the Stars were 18-9 prior to that) speaks for itself.

11. John Danks, Rangers: OK, you may question a minor leaguer who won nine games in 2006 earning a spot on this list. Ah, but you would be wrong to do so.

This young man's $2.1 million signing bonus was money well spent. As he has climbed through the ranks, Danks has been one of the youngest pitchers at each level. Even though Rangers fans have heard his name for four years, he does not turn 22 until April.

Besides representing the franchise's best homegrown pitching prospect in years, he could also be a valuable piece to deal if the timing is right. Hopefully, it won't be and Danks will be a fixture in the Rangers' rotation for years.

10. Jason Terry, Mavericks: He's not a point guard, he's not the ideal size for a two guard, and, yes, he did pick a really bad time to go 7-for-25 against the Heat. Beyond that, Terry has drilled big shots for Dallas for two years.

When the team has struggled this season, it has been when they have failed to get the ball in Terry's hands and get him his shots. He has made well above 41 percent of his threes with Dallas, far above his average with Atlanta. When the Heat series swung in Miami's favor in Game 5, all Terry did was pump in 35 points.

9. Terrell Owens, Cowboys: I know, I know. Most of you think he is more dispensable than indispensable. And after this season, barring a Super Bowl trip, you will be correct.

In the meantime, he is Tony Romo's favorite receiver. Despite the drops and the drama, he makes the offense go more than Terry Glenn, more than Julius Jones, more than Marion Barber.

Since Romo became a starter, Owens has 49 catches and six touchdowns to Glenn's 34 and three. Next season, pray that he's on some other city's list if you like. But the Cowboys need his production to advance in the playoffs.

8. Kevin Millwood, Rangers: For years, Texas has needed not only an ace, but one from another team who would demonstrate the willingness to come to Arlington.

Although he had some poor starts in Ameriquest Field, Millwood won four straight there in the August and September heat to finish with 16 wins while eating up 215 innings. He's a solid top-of-the-rotation pitcher (who would look even better as No. 2 to Barry Zito).

7. Marty Turco, Stars: We all know he hasn't done it in the playoffs when it counts. But he has done it in the regular season, which is harder.
Some goalies inexplicably get hot at the right time. See if you can find Stanley Cup champion Cam Ward of Carolina near the top of any stats this season. Turco has carried the Stars through tough regular-season stretches.

All he lacks is that burst of greatness in May for which he is overdue.

6. DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys: His production may always pale next to the Chargers' Shawne Merriman – the player the Cowboys were considering drafting instead – but Ware is the dominant player among Dallas' front seven.

He leads the club in sacks, in tackles for loss and in forced fumbles. Take him off the field and the Cowboys don't scare anyone.

5. Josh Howard, Mavericks: The closest we have to an underrated great player in Dallas. He gives the Mavericks an element of toughness with his attitude and his defense. Beyond that, there are 10 perimeter players (not centers or power forwards) who average 18 points and five rebounds a game.

Most are known by a single name – Kobe, Vince, Carmelo, LeBron, Tracy. Josh is one of them.

4. Mark Teixeira, Rangers: He might switch places with the No. 2 man on the list if he was a Gold Glove third baseman (which he could be) instead of a Gold Glove first baseman. He slipped a little at the plate last year, although he recovered to have his second-best season in batting average and extra-base hits.

Give me a guy with an on-base percentage of .375 and a slugging percentage of .550 any time.

3. Tony Romo, Cowboys: I understand that Bill Parcells would not place him so high on this list. He might be the only guy in Dallas who wouldn't.
There is one main reason and one only that this team has gone 6-2 and looks completely different with so much more potential than the team that started 3-3. It is the Pro Bowl quarterback.

The possibility that the Cowboys have struck gold without spending a high first-round pick or boatloads of dollars on a free agent gives this team an opportunity to compete for years to come.

2. Michael Young, Rangers: I don't know what else he could do. He hasn't had fewer than 200 hits since 2002, he has missed seven games in four years and he enjoyed career highs in doubles (52) and RBIs (103) last season.

The All-Star Game MVP should see his power numbers increase in 2007 as a regular No. 3 hitter. As a shortstop, his chances have gone up each season while his errors have gone down.

1. Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks: He has been third in the MVP voting each of the last two seasons. No other player in the area can come close to saying that. Questions about his ability to lead should have been answered in Game 7 at San Antonio last spring.

Nowitzki is still the best player on the local team that is closest to winning a championship. And without him, the Mavericks would be a seventh or eighth seed in the West, at best.

That's why he's the one player you hold your breath for when he's down on the ground. And that's why he tops this list.

Painting a playoff picture

By John Clayton

With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, it's time to take another look at the teams still in the wild-card hunt. What do their remaining schedules look like, and how will the races shake out?


• Dallas Cowboys (9-5): The Cowboys are in the playoffs. Now, it's a matter of whether they head into the playoffs as NFC East champions or as a wild-card team. If they lose to the Eagles on Monday, they'll fall behind Philadelphia in the NFC East standings. The ace in the hole is the Cowboys' final game against the Lions. Detroit visits Dallas in Week 17, and most of the Lions' top players are on injured reserve or have already started scheduling their postseason vacations. Because they lost to the Saints two weeks ago, the Cowboys now need to win their last two games and New Orleans to lose at least one of its last two (against the Giants and Carolina Panthers) to get the No. 2 seed and a week off. The Saints need one more win and one more Dallas loss to be the NFC's second seed. So the Cowboys still have a shot as long as they beat the Eagles on Monday.

Cowboys' Defense Has to Prove It's Good Enough

Publication Source Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas)
Publication Date 2006-12-23

IRVING, Texas _ Every NFC team with legit Super Bowl aspirations has a big "but". . . and we're talking Beyonce-sized, in a few cases.
New Orleans has Brees, Bush and a healthy dose of karma, but much like Dallas in 2003, a big chance of thudding back to Earth at any moment.

Philly has momentum, but hardly any real receivers.

Chicago has home field and a salty defense, but Rex Grossman? Enough said.

Of course, for everybody residing somewhere outside the rah-rah, happy-happy world of Cowboys Nation and for a few inside, Dallas' defense is viewed as its Grossman.

"You hurt me," linebacker Bradie James said when broached with this theory. "That hurts to say we are not holding our end up."

Welcome to life when you give up 70 points in your past two games and 90 in less than 20 days. Almost everybody is calling this Cowboys defense an Achilles' heel on an otherwise legit contender to play in Miami. And anybody who isn't is just playing nice, which is why Cowboys cornerback Aaron Glenn called a players-only meeting.

He was afraid his teammates were eating the cheese _ the nasty, moldy, you-guys-stink kind fed to underachievers. Just about everybody has had a turn being roasted, by opposing players and popular opinion, for not being nearly as good as advertised.

Roy Willy, Mike Zimmer, everybody.

What Glenn, James and Jason Ferguson combined to deliver was a pretty basic message to all of them.

"We are not as bad as everybody says or as bad as we have looked"

I'm not so sure, but I admire Glenn for doing something. They will not win a lot of games playing defense like they have.

Normally, I am not a huge a fan of the players-only meeting. They are usually just a sign that something is really screwed up and, "duh", everybody knew that after watching Sean Payton and his Saints absolutely dismantle Zimmer and Co. And if what New Orleans did was not a red flag, watching an oft-maligned passer in Michael Vick do a spot-on Aikman impersonation for 2 { quarters against them was.

So why bother meeting if the only thing on the agenda was the obvious?

Glenn delivered the football version of "We need to talk ... " because he thought things were not better left unsaid, lest it lead to finger-pointing.

It is OK if media types point out that coverage problems are due, in part, to a lackluster pass rush. It is not cool if the defensive backs think it. So Glenn let everybody talk, then he talked.

He told his teammates they do not have to have a No. 1-ranked defense to win a Super Bowl. The defense just cannot be why the Cowboys lose games.

Call it the bus-driver theory for defense.

Do not tell Coach Parcells about this philosophy. He typically has collected his championship rings thanks to nasty defenses and bus-driver QBs.

What he has going with Tony Romo and his almost magical season seems to suggest, for Dallas to be in Miami, it is on the offense.

"All good championship teams have reasonably good defenses," Parcells said.

So does Parcells wonder if what he has this season qualifies as reasonably good?

Don't give me a dirty look, Cowboys fans. You know you were wondering, too.

"No," he said. "Because you are just talking about recent events, and we don't know that is really going to be the case as we finish up here. I think we can play a little bit better on defense than what we have played lately."

Glenn was taking no chances. He is one of the quiet guys, a guy who has hung around by simply working his undersized tail off. Guys listen to him. Ditto for James and Ferguson.

What they wanted the Williamses and Carpenters and Watkins to know is they are not cool with being Grossman.

"This unit does not want to be the side that lets this team down," James said. "Ninety points. I can't say anything to make everybody think we are a great D."

Parcells believes they can be. So does Owner Jones.

What is different is Jerry does not much care about the whys, only the whens. Did I mention that I love his attitude?

"There are all kinds of explanations, but in my role, I'm not supposed to be sympathetic as to why. It's happened," Owner Jones said. "... I expect us, as a defense, to play like a top defense in the league over the next four or five games. I think we're capable of that. A little humble pie for quality athletes isn't a bad thing. It challenges you, and I think we have the type of athletes with the type of character who will respond."

Glenn is one. James and Ferguson make three.

Who eventually joins them is ultimately what will determine the size of the Cowboys' "but." Quentin Griffin to be a Cowboy?

IRVING, Texas - Even with Game 15 just three days away on Christmas afternoon, and an NFC East Division title on the line, the Cowboys still found time to continue searching for contingency plans at the end of their roster.

"I'm still thinking about running back and quarterback," said Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells, knowing he is one injury away at both positions from being a tad desperate.

So in their never-ending search for running back insurance ever since Tyson Thompson was lost for the season eight weeks ago, the Cowboys worked out former Oklahoma running back Quentin Griffin and four-year veteran Damien Anderson Friday morning before the team even hit the practice field.

Griffin, a fourth-round draft choice of the Denver Broncos in 2003, spent two seasons with the Broncos (2003-04), gaining 615 yards while appearing in 16 games. The 5-7, 195-pound back went to training camp with Kansas City this past summer after not latching on with a team in 2005, but was released on the final cut. He most recently worked out for the Atlanta Falcons last week before the Cowboys game since their top two running backs were nursing injuries.

Anderson played 35 games in four seasons with the Cardinals (2002-2005), gaining just 142 yards on 45 carries. The 5-11, 218-pound back from Northwestern was released right before the start of the season this year by Arizona.

Parcells indicated he doesn't plan on making any roster moves before Monday's game against the Eagles, but that "Tuesday, we might do something, I don't know."

Currently, Julius Jones and Marion Barber remain the only running backs on the 53- man roster after rookie Skyler Green was waived on Dec. 14 and subsequently claimed on waivers by Cincinnati, preventing Dallas was re-signing him to the practice squad. So instead, the Cowboys re-signed Keylon Kincade to the practice squad once again.

Parcells continues to make overtures about adding another quarterback, since he realizes if something should happen to starter Tony Romo and Drew Bledsoe has to play, he has no backup then for Bledsoe. It doesn't appear practice squad quarterback Matt Baker is ready to be one snap away from having the Cowboys' playoff fate in his hands. The Cowboys most recently worked out veteran quarterback Tommy Maddox, who last played for Pittsburgh.

RB Jones could see less rest


Although he likes the production from Marion Barber, coach Bill Parcells said the Cowboys need more from running back Julius Jones.

Parcells said Jones should have plenty of rest from the past few weeks and it's time for him to finish strong.

Jones has a combined 34 carries in the past three games.

Attention to detail

Bill Parcells wants the Cowboys to pay attention to detail, but wants them to play loose against Philadelphia.

Considering what's at stake, namely the NFC East title, Parcells said young teams have a tendency to play tight.

He said the keys for the Cowboys are studying their opponent and knowing their assignments. That should allow them to play fast. He would rather they go all-out and get it wrong than to over-think a situation and play like a robot.


Bill Parcells blames some of cornerback Anthony Henry's struggles of late on a swollen knee. "Hopefully things will get better as we go," Parcells said. "He looked pretty good in practice this week."

The Cowboys worked out running backs Damien Anderson and Quentin Griffin on Friday in anticipation of making some roster moves for the playoffs. Running back and quarterback top Bill Parcells' list of depth concerns. If the Cowboys do make a move, it won't come until Tuesday.

Cornerback Jacques Reeves (elbow) did not practice Friday and remains questionable for Monday's game. Although he is improving, Reeves said his elbow is still swollen. He said he won't be able to play if can't extend his arm to defend himself.

Records: Chiefs 7-7, Raiders 2-12

The line: Chiefs by 7

Why the Chiefs will win: They've won seven in a row over the Raiders, their longest streak of wins in series history. Tony Gonzalez has 21 catches and two touchdowns in his past three games against the Raiders.

Why the Raiders will win: The Chiefs, 2-5 on the road, have lost three in a row overall and have scored only 19 points the past two weeks. Warren Sapp has eight sacks this season, his most since he had 16.5 in 2000.

Fantasy watch: Chiefs star Larry Johnson has not scored a touchdown in three weeks, and isn't as prominent in the passing game lately. He has only nine receptions since posting 27 in the first seven games.

-- Danny Horne

Friday, December 22, 2006

Spagnola projects Romo's numbers for entire season

Mick's mail on

Bryan Hunter, Allen, Texas: If you take Tony Romo's current stats and factor them out over 16 games, what do you get, and how would his numbers compare with those of Troy Aikman or Roger Staubach?

Mickey: Now that's a great idea. OK, to be fair to Romo, here is what I'll do. I'll add up the Pro Bowl quarterback's stats for only his eight starts, then factor them out over a 16-game season. Here's what it comes to: 334 of 498 (67 percent), 4,356 yards, 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. That would be a QB rating of 101.1. So, that would be the second-highest single-season rating in club history, only Roger Staubach's 104.8 in 1971 better. The 334 completions would tie Danny White's club record set in 1983. The completion percentage would be second to Troy Aikman's club record of 69.1 set in 1993. The yards gain would crush Danny White's club record of 3,980 set in 1983. And the 26 touchdowns would rank fourth behind Danny White's 29 in 1983, White's 28 in 1980 and Staubach's 27 in his final year of 1979. Pretty spectacular, I would say.

Cowboys are on the brink of having a 1,000-yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers

The Cowboys are on the brink of having a 1,000-yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers in the same season for the first time since 1979. Terrell Owens (1,040 yards) and running back Julius Jones (1,019) have each surpassed the 1,000-yard mark, and Glenn needs only 79 yards to add his name to the list. (Jean-Jaques Taylor for SN)

Football: Romo, three other Cowboys named to Pro Bowl

Tom Orsborn
Express-News Staff Writer

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is Hawaii-bound.

Romo and three of his teammates were selected Tuesday to play in the Pro Bowl on Feb. 11 in Honolulu.

Romo is the first Cowboys quarterback to be selected for the all-star game since Troy Aikman in 1996.

It's quite an achievement for a fourth-year player who had never attempted a pass in the regular season until this year. Romo was named despite not starting the first six games of this season.

Joining Romo in Hawaii will be safety Roy Williams, linebacker DeMarcus Ware and punter Mat McBriar.

Williams will be making his fourth-straight trip to Honolulu. Ware and McBriar are newcomers.

Romo is the NFC's highest-rated passer (98.4) and has 16 touchdown passes. He is the sixth quarterback in team history to make the Pro Bowl, joining Eddie LeBaron (one), Don Meredith (three), Roger Staubach (six), Danny White (one) and Aikman (six).

Williams leads the Cowboys with seven takeaways, including a team-high five interceptions.

Ware leads the team in sacks with 7½. The second-year player has also scored two touchdowns, including a 41-yard interception return in the Cowboys' 38-28 victory over Atlanta last week.

McBriar, who played his college ball at Hawaii, leads the league with a 48.3 gross average and is tied for league lead in net average at 39.5.

Tight end Jason Witten, cornerback Terence Newman, receiver Terrell Owens and center Andre Gurode are candidates to be named as alternates.

Starters will be announced on wild-card weekend early next month. The other NFC quarterbacks are New Orleans' Drew Brees, an Austin Westlake graduate, and St. Louis' Marc Bulger.

In his eight starts, Romo has a 100.1 passer rating. The Cowboys are 6-2 with him in the huddle and have clinched a playoff spot with two games left.

The Cowboys (9-5) can clinch their first NFC East title by beating Philadelphia (8-6) on Monday at Texas Stadium in Irving.

It seems Owens has spit away his last support

by Senior writer Paul Attner
The Sporting News
December 22, 2006

It has been fascinating to follow the reaction to Terrell Owens' spitting incident. The most emotional and critical reaction has not come from what I would call the mainstream media. Instead, the strongest fallout has centered on ex-NFL players now serving as television analysts.

They have been outraged. It is hard to conceive of any other act on the field that would elicit this kind of anger.

Spitting in someone's face is, in the eyes of these ex-jocks, a massive assault on a player's manhood. There is no forgiveness, no explanation, no defense for this action.

Their attacks on Owens follow along the lines of how Brian Dawkins, the Eagles safety (and obviously not an ex-jock) explained his criticism of Owens on Sporting News radio:

"Not only just in public, in sports period, you just take yourself away from sports. Just take yourself to the neighborhood and have one of your friends, or somebody you don't like, spit in your face, and just see how that makes you feel. Just think about that and visualize that -- someone actually spitting in your face. To me, that's the ultimate insult. That's worse than someone kicking you in the shin or kicking you in the other region. That's the ultimate disrespect to a person."

Owens simply is stupid. He does stupid things, he does them repeatedly, he demonstrates no sincere remorse, he carries on as if he is not responsible for anything he does. It is an amazingly immature attitude and it seems to worsen with each episode. He seemed to have some support among his peers. But now, for sure, he has spit that away.

NFL Point Spreads For Week 16

Date & Time Favorite Spread Underdog
12/23 8:00 ET Kansas City -7 At Oakland
12/24 1:00 ET At Buffalo -5 Tennessee
12/24 1:00 ET At NY Giants -3 New Orleans
12/24 1:00 ET At Atlanta -6.5 Carolina
12/24 1:00 ET At St. Louis -1.5 Washington
12/24 1:00 ET Indianapolis -9 At Houston
12/24 1:00 ET At Pittsburgh -3 Baltimore
12/24 1:00 ET At Cleveland -3 Tampa Bay
12/24 1:00 ET Chicago -4.5 At Detroit
12/24 1:00 ET At Jacksonville -3 New England
12/24 4:05 ET At San Francisco -4 Arizona
12/24 4:15 ET At Denver -3 Cincinnati
12/24 4:15 ET San Diego -4.5 At Seattle

Monday Night Football Point Spread

12/25 5:00 ET At Dallas -7 Philadelphia
12/25 8:30 ET At Miami -2.5 NY Jets

Now's the time for Julius Jones to produce

By Andy Targovnik on December 22, 2006 12:41 AM

Julius Jones came into the 2006 season as a question mark. Because he had been injured for portions of his first two NFL campaigns, the Dallas Cowboys were concerned whether the third-year tailback from Notre Dame could stay healthy for a full season.

After missing the first half of 2004 with a fractured left shoulder blade, a healed Jones exploded on the scene in the second half, and gave the Cowboys something they lacked since Emmitt Smith left town - a productive tailback. To the Dallas fans' delight, Jones averaged 102 yards a game and over four yards per carry.

Last season, Jones suffered a high ankle sprain against the Philadelphia Eagles in the fifth week. And although he ended up playing in 14 games, that ankle nagged him the entire season. That injury and a decimated offensive line contributed to Jones having a subpar season, averaging only 76 yards a game on 3.9 per rush.

With an upgraded offensive line in 2006, Bill Parcells felt if Jones could stay injury-free, he would produce.

And Parcells had a plan to keep Jones fresh. Marion Barber III would lighten the load. And he has. Barber plays in all goal-line and short-yardage situations. Because those situations take more of a "smash-mouth" style of running, it has certainly saved on the wear and tear of Jones' body.

The plan started off perfectly. In the first five games, Jones averaged 4.6 yards a carry. But after that, his production sharply dropped. Except for the blowout loss to New Orleans, Jones hasn't averaged over four yards per rush in any game.

Because of the emergence of Tony Romo, and Barber, who has picked up the slack on the ground, Jones' lack of productivity has gone unnoticed. As a matter of fact, Parcells was never asked about it.

But it finally got some attention this past week.

When questioned about it Monday, Parcells would only say: "I'm hoping Julius can get a little back on track."

What's even more disconcerting is that the offensive line play has been even better than expected. If Jones isn't injured, why isn't he producing? Nobody seems to know.

But what's certain is that in the playoffs, the defenses get tighter and more physical; and the last thing the inexperienced Romo needs is to have opposing defenses tee off on him because they don't respect the running game.

So Jones needs to revert back to his early-season form. And what better time to do it than the next two weeks, when the Cowboys host the Eagles and the Detroit Lions , who give up 139 and 131 yards on the ground per game, respectively?

If Jones can't average at least four yards a carry against a couple of soft run defenses, how is he going to do it in the playoffs, when the competition is better and the stakes are higher?

We'll start to find out Christmas night, obviously.

Except for ‘few bumps in the road,' T.O. OK by 'Boys

By Steve Patton
Reading Eagle

PHILADELPHIA Now that he's had the chance to deal with Terrell Owens for most of a full season, Cowboys coach Bill Parcells can give this endorsement of the temperamental wide receiver:
“It's kind of been OK,” said Parcells, whom some reports indicated was less than thrilled to have Owens on his roster. “That's what I'll say. It's my job to try to make it work.”

For the most part, it has worked. Although he has had a couple of well-publicized on- and off-field incidents during his time with the Cowboys, Owens has also been a very productive player. He leads Dallas with 77 catches for 1,040 yards and 11 touchdowns in 14 games.

Those numbers are almost identical to what Owens produced in his first season with the Eagles in 2004, catching 77 passes for 1,200 yards and a team-record 14 TDs in 14 games.

But it was what happened after that season, when Owens came back from a late-season ankle injury to play in the Super Bowl, that prompted his exit from Philadelphia after the next season, when he was suspended and then kicked off the team.

Parcells was aware of the problems Owens had in Philadelphia, but said he tried to handle the situation as best he could.

“I approached it with this philosophy: It's my job to make it work, if I can,” said Parcells. “It's not been without a few bumps in the road, as I'm sure the people in Philadelphia can attest to.

“It'd be easy to go in there with a negative attitude and say, ‘Hey, I can't do this.' But nothing was going to be accomplished by that, so I've tried the best I can do make everything work.”

Parcells said Owens has had few problems with his teammates, once both sides got to spend some time with the other.

“The players had to get to know him, too, and see what's what,” said Parcells. “I think everybody kind of had their periscope a little bit.

“But by and large, I think everybody kind of gets along. I've got some good kids on the team as far as their personalities. I don't have a lot of flamboyant characters. They're pretty solid guys, so I think they see things for what they are and we try to make the best of it.”

Owens has launched attacks on the last two quarterbacks who threw to him: ex-49ers starter Jeff Garcia, now the Eagles starter, and Donovan McNabb. But Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said he didn't allow that to shape his impression of Owens.

“I'm a guy who only deals with people the way they deal with me,” said Romo. “I don't look at people's history or the past because I don't know the circumstances or the situations they were in. It's the same thing with him. I don't know how anything went down in the past.

“All I know is the T.O. that I deal with on a daily basis, and that's a guy I like and I enjoy being around and we talk football all the time. The guy wants to get better and he wants to win, and that's no different than the way I play the game.”

Which, said Parcells, is all he wants from Owens.

“He's doing OK,” said Parcells. “He really is. Not without a few problems here and there, but he's doing OK.”

No go on T.O.: While Cowboys coach Bill Parcells was willing to give his thoughts on dealing with Terrell Owens, Eagles quarterback Jeff Garcia had little to say on the subject.

Garcia, who had a fractured relationship with Owens when both were with the 49ers and was the target of barbs from the wide receiver in 2004 after both had left San Francisco, said the chance to play against Owens Monday doesn't matter to him.

“It's the next big game for us,” said Garcia. “It's a game that we're excited about playing. It's an awesome opportunity that we basically forced ourselves back into with persevering and doing the things we needed to do the last three, four weeks in order to become a better football team.

“Now we have an excellent opportunity on our hands with the game Monday night in Dallas, and that's really how I look at it. I don't look at it for anything else.”

Injury update: Cornerback William James (calf) and safety Michael Lewis (knee sprain) missed practice Wednesday. James is listed as doubtful. Lewis is questionable, as is linebacker Shawn Barber, who practiced after missing the game against the Giants Sunday.

Dividing the workload: Some numbers to digest

By Pat Kirwan Senior Analyst

(Dec. 21, 2006) -- Opening up the NFL stats and deciding which running back on each roster is the best might not be enough information to make the right decision. Who is the right guy for now -- the future -- and should there be a shift from one back to another?

NFL coaches and executives have to go deeper than rushing yardage. There are at least 13 teams that have to look at many other issues to go forward in regards to their running backs.

Is the best running back not getting enough opportunities? Should the leading ball carrier get less work? Is it time to give the leading ball carrier more work?

Well, here are a few places decision makers will go to answer the questions they have about their running backs. Obviously, when you have a back like LaDainian Tomlinson or Larry Johnson, you don't really have to go through this process, but at least half the league does.

How many carries did the ball carrier have for 4 yards or more?
How many times did he bust loose for 10 yards or more? How does he do after contact?
How often does he move the chains for a first down or score a touchdown?
On third or fourth down, how often does he get a first down?
Is he a good receiver and catch touchdown passes?
Scheme, salary and age are other factors that might get figured in.

Here's a look at six clubs' information after 14 games:

Team Name Att. Big Efforts Pct. +10-yard runs YAC Rec/TD
DAL Jones 234 106 45.3 24 2.00 8/0
DAL Barber 111 69 62.2 18 2.38 14/2
DEN T. Bell 191 87 45.5 24 1.82 19/0
DEN M. Bell 114 59 51.8 9 1.97 16/0
JAX Taylor 222 105 47.3 32 2.50 22/0
JAX Jones-Drew 110 60 54.5 21 3.24 33/2
IND Addai 182 116 63.7 18 1.98 31/1
IND Rhodes 157 79 50.3 9 1.58 31/0
WAS Portis 127 56 44.1 16 2.12 17/0
WAS Betts 174 89 51.1 25 2.51 42/0
ATL Dunn 240 107 44.6 16 2.11 16/0
ATL Norwood 84 43 51.2 18 2.35 9/0
KEY: Att = carries; Big Efforts = The number of runs that went for at least 4 yards or resulted in a first down or touchdown; Pct = Big Efforts divided by carries; YAC = Yards After Contact.

The Cowboys know Marion Barber has done more with the football with fewer opportunities. Although they need both young backs, it would appear Barber might start to get more touches as his team heads into the playoffs. In the past three weeks, Barber has 29 touches and Julius Jones 36. There could be a slight shift in Barber's favor when you consider he's better after contact, and has a better percentage of big plays working for him.

Denver has the two Bells working. Tatum Bell has those double-digit gains in his favor, but Mike Bell has a better percentage of big efforts and is slightly better after contact. Coach Shanahan might as well just keep rolling with these two guys at this point.

Marion Barber's versatility and production might earn him more touches than Julius Jones.
Jacksonville has to be happy with both running backs, but when you look at Maurice Jones-Drew after contact, his runs over 10 yards, his percentage of big efforts, it sure would be tempting to give him 5-10 more touches per game.

The Colts made the shift to Joseph Addai a few weeks ago. When you consider his big-effort potential is at 63.7 percent, even though Dominic Rhodes is excellent at 50.3 percent, the shift was predictable. Peyton Manning's ability to check into the run when the situation is optimal is clear when you tally up both backs and see that a combined 57.5 percent of their carries were big efforts.

The Redskins have an interesting situation going on now that Ladell Betts is filling in for Clinton Portis. Ladell is running behind the same line and has an inexperienced quarterback in front of him, yet his percentage of big efforts is better, his yards after contact and ability to generate 10-yard runs is better. He recently signed a five year extension!

When you look at Atlanta's situation, what jumps out right away is the difference in 10-yard carries for Jerious Norwood. He has two more than Warrick Dunn in 156 fewer carries. There's obviously room for both backs, but as time goes on, Norwood needs more touches.

Finally, there are other teams -- like the Raiders with Justin Fargas and LaMont Jordan, the Bears with Cedric Benson and Thomas Jones, and even the Patriots with Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney -- that will be taking a long, hard look at their backfield production to determine play distribution, opportunity and situational play.

Cowboys Mailbag: Dallas will come out of tough NFC East well prepared for playoffs

Tom Orsborn
Express-News Staff Writer

Bill Parcells thinks his team is well prepared for the playoffs because it's already been through the ringer in the NFC East.

Although league observers are taking turns bashing the NFC, Parcells says the winner of the East should hold its head high.

"I think all of the teams in our division, Washington included, can compete with any team in this league," Parcells said. "When Washington goes out on the field, I don't say, 'Oh, they are playing Washington,' and, 'That's a break for somebody.'

"They have a very competitive team. The Giants are competitive. The Eagles are competitive. I think everyone in this division is competitive. I don't feel that way with every division."

No argument here. The gauntlet the Cowboys had to run through in the East to reach the playoffs is one of the reasons I think they have an excellent shot at winning it all.

Dallas is battle-tested after playing tough, playoff-style games against the Eagles, Redskins and Giants this season and will come out of their Christmas Day game with the Eagles – win or lose – with even more fortitude.

Parcells stays if T.O. goes

Football Bob Glauber

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells is signed through next season. Question is, will he be back? The answer might belong to Jerry Jones.

We're told Parcells is completely fed up with Terrell Owens' act, especially after he admitted in an interview last week that he hasn't always been trying hard.

League sources tell us that if Parcells does come back, it would happen only if Owens is gone. Could happen.

Some executives around the league believe Owens' play has shown signs of slippage - look at all those dropped passes, and look at how he no longer gets great separation from defensive backs - so if it does come down to that, they wouldn't be surprised if Owens is the odd man out.

Then again, T.O. is Jerry's guy, and the owner has bent over backward to make this thing work. So stay tuned. Never a dull moment with this guy.

Good read on Marion Barber III

From Nick Eatman/ Dallas

IRVING, Texas - Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells has nicknames for many of his players. Some of them are quite flattering, while others might be more embarrassing for the players.

But second-year running back Marion Barber doesn't have any problems with Parcells' latest tag for him:

"The Closer."

No, Parcells isn't asking Barber to go three-up and three-down in the ninth. But in a football sense, he's looking for the same results.

"I think it's good to have a closer," Parcells said. "Whenever I've had good teams, I've always had a closer."

With the Cowboys already clinching a playoff berth, their first since 2003, and needing a victory Monday against the Eagles (4 p.m. CST) to win their first division title in eight years, it's starting to look more like the Cowboys are indeed a good team.

It's also quite apparent that Parcells and the Cowboys are turning to Barber in the fourth quarter when games are on the line.

"Whenever my name is called, I'm going to be ready," Barber said. "That's the most important thing - whether I'm closing or the third-down (back). But I don't really even think about being in the game late."

But that's when Barber has done the bulk of his damage.

While Julius Jones has rushed for a career-high 1,019 yards this season, Barber has started to collect more attention. Not just because of his 5.2-yard average, which should be commended considering the amount of carries he gets around the goal line, or his 13 rushing touchdowns, but just his aggressive running style has started to raise questions about why Barber isn't the Cowboys' starting tailback.

However, Parcells has consistently said all year long, dating back to training camp, he wanted to use a two-back system involving Julius Jones and Barber - in that order.

"No, I'm not going to change it," said Parcells, who has tried to keep Barber as the third-down back, goal-line back and certainly the primary ball carrier late in the fourth quarter with the lead. "I told you I think having a closer is important. I think Marion's in a good role. He's productive in that role pretty consistently."

That was never more apparent than in the Cowboys' 38-28 win last Saturday over the Falcons, in which Barber rushed for 55 of his 69 yards in the second half. But it was the fourth-quarter drive in which the Cowboys marched 80 yards in 11 plays, eating up more than five minutes of game clock, that ultimately did the Falcons in.

After five straight passes by Tony Romo to start the drive, the Cowboys pushed the ball out near midfield. And that's where Barber went to work, carrying the ball six straight times, including the game-clinching touchdown - his second of the night - to give the Cowboys a 10-point lead with just over two minutes to play.

"I think it was big," Barber said of that particular drive. "Especially when were able to get it to T.G. (Terry Glenn) and T.O (Terrell Owens) and that really opened up the run. Then the big fellas up front really did a good job."

Barber wasn't too bad himself. He ran with a little extra power on that drive, spinning off defenders, stiff-arming would-be tacklers and then even having the presence to stay in bounds near the sideline with an attempt to keep the clock running.

It's those types of little things that Parcells said is uncommon for such a young player in his second year in the league.

"He's a very smart player," Parcells said. "He's one of those guys that just knows the game. He understands football and understands what it takes to win. You could see last year that he just gets it. He does a lot of things well."

And Parcells can't exactly say he was surprised by that. Parcells said Barber's head coach at the University of Minnesota, Glen Mason, told him he would be a big fan of Barber, who learned a lot about the game from his father. Marion Jr. played seven seasons in the NFL as a running back for the Jets.

"He said, 'You'll like this guy,'" Parcells said of Mason. "As soon as they start with that, they know me and they know, so they're giving me good information. And I've known Glen for a long time so I can ask him very poignant questions, everything he told me is exactly like it is."

As a rookie, Barber also shared the spotlight with Jones, who suffered a high-ankle sprain that kept him out of three full games and parts of others. So Barber's role changed throughout the year as well. He started two games, but he and Jones shared the carries down the stretch last season.

But heading into this year, Parcells wanted more definite roles for each back. And he hasn't changed that since training camp.

And even with Barber's success, especially in the red zone, Parcells said he is reluctant to play him more in the first half.

"There's two sides of that. He may get worn out, you know what I mean?" Parcells said. "That's what I'm concerned about, having the guy for what we need him for and the other night (against Atlanta), we definitely needed him to do it. It's probably the biggest drive of the year there with eight minutes to go, so far."

But the drive against the Falcons is far from the only big plays Barber has provided this season.

Two weeks earlier against the Giants in the Meadowlands, Barber rushed for 76 yards and scored two touchdowns, including a go-ahead score with less than four minutes to play. While the Giants eventually tied the game, the Cowboys rallied with less than a minute to play to win on Martin Gramatica's 46-yard field goal.

Barber had 83 yards rushing against Tampa Bay on Thanksgiving Day and also caught two short touchdown passes from Tony Romo. He had only 35 yards rushing against the Colts, but also scored two touchdowns in the Cowboys' 21-14 win over previously-unbeaten Indianapolis.

"He just has that knack for getting to the goal line," Romo said of Barber. "When we get down there close, the coaching staff, and the players, too, we just have the confidence that Marion is going to punch it in. He's done it all year and that's really helped us score down there in red zone."

Heading into next Monday's NFC East showdown with the Eagles, Barber not only leads the NFC in touchdowns, but was tied for second in the NFL with Kansas City's Larry Johnson with 15 scores each. Both are way behind San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson, who set an NFL record with 31 total touchdowns.

But 15 scores for Barber, who had just five last year, wasn't his goal heading into the season.

"Not at all," he said. "You don't expect to get that many chances like that. But like I've said, it's all about being ready at all times. Fortunately, I've just gotten those opportunities."

So what is going through Barber's mind when he starts smelling that end zone?

"It's just, 'gotta get in, whether there's no hole or the biggest hole," Barber said.

And while Barber has no problems scoring touchdowns, he also said he's perfectly fine with his role.

"It doesn't matter at all," he said. "Like my dad always said, 'one touch or 20.' Make that one (count). So I don't really think about it. When it's my time to get in there and get my number called, I'll be ready."

And here lately, Barber's number has been called often, especially when it's time to close

Parcells on Owens: "He's doing OK, he really is"

By Grizz

It's been noted by many people who watch Dallas closely - including me - that the Cowboys and Bill Parcells ignore Terrell Owens off the field, and welcome his production on the field. It's seems to be the only method to his madness, choke off any potential fires from oxygen before something starts to flame out of control. Owens is going to talk, and do stuff, and make people mad - he's got John Clayton just flat-out making stuff up. But Dallas just doesn't care. One day they might, but right now, they don't.

Everybody had their pre-conceived notions about Owens, and mine were confirmed. I didn't like Owens all that much as a person before he came here, and I still don't. I could make a list of what I consider his "transgressions" and it would include some items from this year. But that ground has been covered, and it never leads to any agreement. Somebody else might not have a problem at all with his behavior. So Owens is an athlete who engenders passion among the fans, and a lot of it is negative.

But he's a person, and a person can have incorrigible behavior, and still deserve the opportunity to make his living. I don't have to like Owens, "the person," but he deserves the be playing in the NFL, and as long as that's true, he might as well be catching 11 TD's for the Cowboys than some other team.

Now, lest anybody thinks I'm ignoring the elephant in the room, there is one exception. If Owens' behavior starts to affect the team and its play on the field, then you have a different problem. Owens moves from the "annoying co-worker" category to the "hurting the company co-worker." I think it's fairly safe to say that so far in Dallas, Owens has done nothing but help this team. His teammates don't seem to have a problem with him, and even Coach Parcells doesn't seem all that bothered, although I'm sure he wishes some of the off-the-field stuff would go away. But what is more important to Parcells, winning or proving a point, a point that probably doesn't need to be made? Parcells is using logic and letting real-time events be his guide.

Logic tells you that coming down hard on Owens as a coach, an organization or a player, only has more negative results. The guy doesn't respond well to criticism. You don't coddle him either, because that just leads to a greater sense of entitlement on Owens' part. So logic tells that you that if you're just focusing on results, and not a sense of morality, that basically ignoring the guy except in a way that benefits you, is the best choice. And real-time events show that for at least this year, the strategy is paying dividends. Sure, the bobble-head press yapping on ESPN will play their morality card, their "what is right and what is wrong" sermon will thunder from your T.V. set. But they have no stake in the equation. They're just showing you that they're fighting for truth, justice and the American way. But the truth is they just don't like the guy, and they have a stake in perpetuating that feeling. Controversy makes for entertaining storylines.

The Cowboys franchise has money in the pot. They went all-in on this move, so they're playing their hand the best way they can. As coach likes to say - the time to worry is before you place the bet. You can debate the wisdom of bringing Owens here in the first place, but now that he's here, the Cowboys need to win. And they need to do it with Terrell being Terrell, because that will never change. Only the way you react to him can be changed. The Cowboys are trying their own method, and they're winning so far.

Here's Parcells on Owens, as told to the Philadelphia media.
Parcells said he just doesn't sweat it anymore. If Owens breaks a rule, he gets fined. And everybody moves on.
"Being a senior citizen now, I take a little different approach than when I was younger," Parcells said. "I'm not trying to prove who's the boss or set up a rigid line of demarcation. I'm trying to coach my team. I tell them what's important. I do have rules and I enforce the rules. If someone is late, I fine them and there are no exceptions. We're a no-excuse outfit."
More from Tuna:
"I approached it with this philosophy: It's my job to make it work, if I can," said Parcells. "It's not been without a few bumps in the road, as I'm sure the people in Philadelphia can attest to.
"It'd be easy to go in there with a negative attitude and say, `Hey, I can't do this.' But nothing was going to be accomplished by that, so I've tried the best I can do make everything work."
Parcells said Owens has had few problems with his teammates, once both sides got to spend some time with the other.
"The players had to get to know him, too, and see what's what," said Parcells. "I think everybody kind of had their periscope a little bit. "But by and large, I think everybody kind of gets along. I've got some good kids on the team as far as their personalities. I don't have a lot of flamboyant characters. They're pretty solid guys, so I think they see things for what they are and we try to make the best of it."
My guess is the most important relationship is the one between Owens and Romo, judging from the past.

Here's Romo on Owens:
"All I know is the T.O. that I deal with on a daily basis, and that's a guy I like and I enjoy being around and we talk football all the time. The guy wants to get better and he wants to win, and that's no different than the way I play the game."
Tuna's final word on the issue:
"He's doing OK," said Parcells. "He really is. Not without a few problems here and there, but he's doing OK."

Uh-oh, the defense called the dreaded players-only meeting. Whenever you get one of those, something is going wrong on your team.
Tired of a three-game slump that has seen the defense allow 90 points, veteran defensive back Aaron Glenn called a players-only meeting for the defensive Wednesday.
Glenn, linebacker Bradie James and nose tackle Jason Ferguson spoke during the 10-minute gathering.
The meeting wasn't a scream-fest. Players talked about how they felt about each other, their slump, and what is ahead of them. "It was just to reiterate to do the things how we started off the season," linebacker Akin Ayodele said. "Sometimes just coming from players it helps the message. We understand the next two games, if we play like we're capable and better, we'll be fine going into the playoffs."
Let's hope it worked. Maybe they talked about the "first in the flats" coverage that has caused so much controversy over the past two weeks.

A little late to the game, but Todd Archer offers up his assertion that Terence Newman was snubbed. I think we all agree.
The biggest snub, however, goes to Terence Newman. OK, he has just one pick on the season and only 11 pass deflections, but he has allowed only two touchdown passes since 2004, according to the coaches' breakdown.
If the players and coaches got it right with Ware, then they missed with Newman. Quarterbacks do not look his way often. He plays the slot, which is the toughest job for a cornerback. Atlanta's DeAngelo Hall should not have made it over Newman, and that's not just because he was beaten by Owens for two scores last week when the voting was completed. Hall has struggled giving up the big plays all season. Teams are not afraid to throw to his side.
Newman was disappointed not to be named this year. He wanted to be recognized by his peers. After games, he had heard good things from receivers and quarterbacks, but evidently it didn't translate into the voting booth. There's always hope for Newman and the other Cowboys. They could be named as alternates depending on injuries or need once the Pro Bowl comes around.

Owens Focused On Philly; Dismisses Pro Bowl Snub

Rob Phillips - Email Staff Writer
December 21, 2006 5:47 PM

Terrell Owens said his numbers might be Pro Bowl-worthy, but admits he could've played better.

IRVING, Texas - Much has changed for Terrell Owens since he was held to three catches for 45 yards against his old Eagles teammates back in October.

Twelve weeks later, he's now well-adjusted to a Cowboys offense that has reached new levels of production with Tony Romo at quarterback. And while Owens' return to Philadelphia overshadowed the Cowboys' first meeting with their NFC East rivals, this week he's merely a key player in Monday's showdown for the division title.

"I think a lot is on the line, especially with the playoff race in effect," Owens said. "It's not only meaningful to me but for this team as well."

The Eagles did their best to blanket Owens in their 38-24 win on Oct. 8, but the veteran receiver has posted Pro Bowl-worthy numbers (77 catches for 1,040 yards and 11 touchdowns) this season. He wasn't one of four Cowboys selected to the NFL's annual All-Star game, but said that's not one of his goals anyway.

"I know what I can do on the football field - my numbers speak for themselves," Owens said. "My goal is to go to the Super Bowl and I'll definitely trade the Super Bowl over the Pro Bowl any day. I've been over to Hawaii five times and I'm not really missing anything."

Despite his team-leading numbers, Owens admitted his performance has been "up and down" this year but said he's been working diligently after practice the last couple of weeks to fine-tune his game.

Owens has been criticized for his double-digit drop total this season, but he's also been playing with a torn tendon in his right ring finger that has limited his flexibility. He opted against season-ending surgery and said he plans to have it after the season.

Owens said he discussed his decision with Romo and fellow receiver Terry Glenn, along with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who first revealed the injury, saying he decided he'd rather make this small sacrifice for the team in order possibly get to another Super Bowl. Had Owens opted for surgery, he would have missed the remainder of the season.

"It's just something I've been fighting through and I haven't really made any excuses about dropping balls," he said, estimating he probably injured the finger around the Colts game. "I've tried to kind of direct the attention elsewhere. It's just something I've just been fighting through."

Owens on Thursday made his first appearance in the Cowboys locker room during the interview period since last Saturday's win over Atlanta, but he has remained in the news throughout the week for his on-field spat with Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall. Owens has appealed his $35,000 fine by the NFL for spitting on Hall, and the two apparently hashed out their differences on a three-way phone call with former Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders.

"I told him it wasn't a situation where it was intentional and for whatever reason I never got his explanation until I got back in Dallas after the game," Owens said. "Other than, that we talked about it and we cleared the air."

Owens went on to say the NFL never talked to him about the incident, meaning league officials evidently took his apology on the NFL Network's post-game show as an admission of guilt.

"A lot of people misread what I said to Deion," Owens said of his apology. "I knew we were jawing at each other, talking trash, and that's why I didn't get into the situation on the air. I apologized and (hoped) to move on."