Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Spags: Cameron owed Norv a favor = Garrett as OC

IRVING, Texas - Here is all Jerry Jones needs to do to make a definitive decision on just who the seventh head coach in Dallas Cowboys history should be:

Drop in the NFL Films Greatest Games tape from the 1992 NFC Championship game, Dallas-San Francisco, played on Jan. 17, 1993, in muddy, soggy, Candlestick Park.

The Cowboys won that game, 30-20, one that to this day, 14 years later, will give you chills and raise the hairs on the back of your neck. I did that Saturday night, almost as an after-thought, since I found my 1985 VCR tape of the Chicago Bears Super Bowl Shuffle, the famed video the first-time Super Bowl-bound Bears made to "help the needy." Wanted to get fully ready for a week at Super Bowl XLI. What a hoot.

Fittingly, the Championship game tape was right next to it. Should have called Jerry and invited him over. The popcorn was ready.

Sure, the Cowboys had what might turn out to be three Pro Football Hall of Fame players on that team: Troy Aikman, obviously; Emmitt Smith, in three more years; and quite possibly Michael Irvin, in a week. Sure they had the NFL's top-ranked defense, with the likes of Charles Haley, Russell Maryland, Tony Casillas, Ken Norton Jr., rookie Kevin Smith, Jimmie Jones, Tony Tolbert, et al. Sure they had how 'bout dem Cowboys Jimmy Johnson as head coach.

But they also had someone the proud San Francisco 49ers, smugly playing at home on a field that had to be below sea level, never could figure out:

Norv Turner. He was the Cowboys' second-year offensive coordinator. He was calling the plays. He was masterful, keeping the Niners off-balance with those dump-off passes to Smith and Daryl Johnston; with surprise blasts up the middle from D.J.; by pounding Smith, even though he was bottled up for the most part in the game; with those incessant third-down slants to Michael Irvin; and of course, the famed slant to Alvin Harper which went 70 yards to the San Francisco 9 with the Cowboys holding a precarious 24-20 lead.

The Cowboys had Turner, and San Francisco didn't.

Well, 14 years later, the shoe is on the other foot. San Francisco has Turner. He's the offensive coordinator. But the Cowboys want him, Jones interviewing his former offensive coordinator most of the day here on Sunday for the head coach position vacated by Bill Parcells last Monday.

If you are scoring at home, Turner is the seventh candidate to be interviewed - and possibly the last since no more are known to be scheduled - following Tony Sparano, Todd Bowles, Todd Haley, Jason Garrett (hired at least as an offensive assistant with title-to-be-named-later), Wade Phillips and Gary Gibbs. And it appears Jones would like to decide in the next couple of days, and might want to bring his new head coach to Miami with him on Thursday for his annual Super Bowl trip.

Obviously Haley is out. He just left to become the Arizona offensive coordinator. Not sure the interviews with Sparano and Bowles were more than courtesy talks, but also to let both know they were wanted here. Garrett might be the head coach someday soon, but not after just two years of coaching, period. Much was made of the Phillips interview since he's a 3-4 guru and the Cowboys have played the 3-4 the past two years, although rather unspectacularly the final five games of this past season.

But look, there is nothing that says, especially the defensive personnel, the Cowboys can't go back to the 4-3 they have played for 45 years of their 47-season history. Might be even better suited for that.

As for Gibbs, that interview on Saturday seemed to come out of left field, though Gibbs certainly has fine coaching credentials, including as head coach at the University of Oklahoma. As he even admitted Saturday, "You better beat Texas" if you want to stick around at OU, which was his Waterloo.

But Turner, to me, he makes so much sense there was no need for the 54-year-old former Oregon quarterback who said this was "the first time I've been back in this building since I was part of the organization" to even head to the airport to ostensibly fly back to the West Coast - unless it was to retrieve wife Nancy and his best power suit.

Who knows, he might already have signed on the dotted line. Makes that much sense.

Obviously Turner would have no qualms with Garrett already having been hired. He tried to hire the former Cowboys backup quarterback three years ago in Oakland. He knows Jason that well, and knows darn well he wouldn't have been available to hire this week. And who better to intern under as a first-time offensive coordinator (although certainly Turner would run the offense) than the protégé of Ernie Zampese, who was the protégé of Don Coryell? That's some point-scoring lineage there.

Here is another factor. Why, when Miami turned down every Butch, Nick and Romeo permission to hire Garrett, who had one year left on his contract as quarterbacks coach with the Dolphins, did the Cowboys suddenly receive permission? Yeah, I know, sounds good that Garrett had a real affinity to return to his Dallas playing roots, and the Dolphins were obliging. But I'm not so sure the NFL is all that sentimental.

How about Cam Cameron, the Dolphins' newly-named head coach, doing Norv a favor? You realize, it was Turner who got Cameron started in the NFL, hiring him as his quarterbacks coach that first year he was head coach in Washington (1994)? And it was Turner whom Cameron followed after five seasons as the Indiana University head coach to San Diego (2002) as offensive coordinator.

Interesting, huh?

Now then, let's move on. Does it also not make sense the Cowboys would hire an offensively-oriented head coach? We know all about the need to continue grooming the young Tony Romo. But don't forget this offense scored 425 points in 2006, two short of being second in the NFL, and really, all but one of the guys who had his fingerprints all over that offense has departed. Gone are Parcells (heaviest), Haley, Anthony Lynn, Chris Palmer (just hired by the Giants) and David Lee, leaving only Sparano and first-year tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens behind.

Plus, here is what everyone overlooks about Turner since he seems most heralded from his development of quarterbacks - from Troy Aikman, to getting Gus Frerotte to the Pro Bowl in Washington, to the Skins' Brad Johnson leading the league in passing, to grooming rookie Drew Brees at San Diego, to nursing Jay Fiedler for two seasons in Miami, to milking 3,495 passing yards out of Kerry Collins in Oakland, to nearly doubling the struggling Alex Smith's QB rating this season in San Francisco, going from 40.8 to 74.8, along with increasing his touchdown passes from one to 16.

Turner is a football-running-coordinating dude. Emmitt Smith led the NFL in rushing Turner's three years in Dallas. Terry Allen had two 1,300-yard seasons in Washington under Turner. Stephen Davis rushed for what was then a Washington single-season high 1,405 yards under Turner in 1999, and then turned in a 1,318-yard season in 2000 when Turner was fired after 13 games (7-6, the last three losses by a total of six points).

Let's see then. In his only season as offensive coordinator at San Diego, rookie LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 1,236 yards in an offense that jumped from 28th in the NFL to 11th. In 2002, his first of two seasons coordinating the Dolphins' offense, Ricky Williams rushed for 1,853 yards and then 1,372 the next year- the top two rushing performances in club history.

And this past season, San Francisco's Frank Gore, following a 608-yard rookie season, led the NFC in rushing with a club-record 1,690 yards, helping the 49ers to improve from 18 last year to sixth. That meant since arriving in Dallas in 1991, Turner's lead running backs, no matter if he was the head coach or the OC, averaged more than 1,200 yards a season.

The Cowboys sure can use some of all that.

Fine, you say, but what about the defense?

Glad you asked.

You know, the Cowboys were just about to turn this defense over to Bowles had Parcells remained, since the head coach would have kept an eye on what would have been a first-time coordinator. Obviously that's no longer the case, but I've got a great idea.

Make Bowles the defensive coordinator, but then bring in - and I want absolutely no snickering on this one - Dave Campo to oversee the defense, maybe be the assistant head coach or something. Look, Jacksonville was willing to let Campo, the Jaguars' assistant head coach/secondary coach, interview for the D-coordinator spot in San Francisco this past week. And say what you want about Campo as a head coach here, no better than 5-11 his three seasons, but he was - and still is - a damn good defensive coordinator. Remember the 2006 opener?

Who better to continue grooming Bowles, if that's the way the Cowboys want to go? Then, just go back to playing the 4-3, which would take no time at all - or added personnel - to transition to this year. Hands of Greg Ellis and DeMarcus Ware go on the ground at end. Jason Ferguson and a combination of Marcus Spears, Chris Canty and maybe Jay Ratliff inside. Bradie James in the middle, Akin Ayodele returns to his strong side and Bobby Carpenter goes weak. Go find me a free safety, and let's play.

So to ol' simpleton me, this all looks pretty easy, if not already thought out to this point from the very start. Cuz' remember, Jones doesn't fly all that much by the seat of his pants. He's had an idea all along.

"This is a very unique place," said Turner, affording himself a bit of reminisce on this day, "and that hit me at Troy's Hall of Fame induction, with all the Cowboys fans there and the people wearing Troy's jerseys."

Turner is very unique in his own right. And if Jones needs to be hit himself with some Turner good-ol-days memories, just ask. I'll pop that tape in for him.

The Mess That Is The Cowboys

choptw's SportingBlog
Jan 29, 2007 06:14 PM

There was a time when the Dallas Cowboys were one of the best and most respected franchises not only in the NFL but in all of sports. Then they started to make draft mistakes, coaching mistakes and have been turned into one of the most wayward franchises in the league.

We will begin by acknowledging that Bill Parcells is one of the better coaches in NFL history. We also realize that they were a mess when Dave Campo was fired and he has brought them back to a playoff contender. However, while many people will tell you that they are on the right track they also have a lot of work to do to fix what ails them. Parcells was 34-32 in four seasons at the helm of Team Jerry. He lost both playoff games that the Cowboys played in. This year's loss is a weird way for Parcells' career to end. Tony Romo is still trying to figure out how the ball squirted through his hands.

Norv Turner is apparently very close to being named Head Coach of the Cowboys. I know that Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith sing his praises. That is a good thing. Turner was the head coach for both the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders following his very successful stint as the Offensive Coordinator with Dallas. HE WAS FIRED BY BOTH TEAMS. Turner compiled a dazzling 58-82-1 record at those two stops. He had to deal with Irvin as a player and his myriad of personal problems. Current Cowboy Terrell Owens is Irvin but worse. The last time I checked, Steve Mariucci, Andy Reid and Parcells are three successful and well respected coaches. None of them could deal with Owens and something tells me that Turner would be added to the list. Turner's reputation has improved with his development of San Francisco QB Alex Smith. Romo is a similar quarterback, needing tutelage that is Turner's forte. However, when he was a head coach his quarterbacks went no where other than to help him get fired.

Another candidate to fill Parcells' shoes is former Dallas assistant Garry Gibbs, who was the LB coach in Big D for four years. His latest tour of duty has been as the Defensive Coordinator for the New Orleans Saints. He was a one time assistant for Barry Switzer at Oklahoma, who turned out to be an interesting head coach for Dallas, and then was elevated to Sooners head coach when Switzer moved South to Dallas. Over the next six years at the helm for Oklahoma he took a once proud school filled with success and ran it into the ground and was fired.

A third candidate for Dallas is current San Diego Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips. He has had two head coaching stints, in Denver and Buffalo, and was a two-time interim coach for New Orleans and Atlanta. He compiled a 48-39 record but again had no playoff success. He is at best a retread.

The most intriguing candidate is the guy they just hired as Offensive Coordinator, Jason Garrett. He spent time as a backup quarterback with the Cowboys and was the OC for the Miami Dolphins this year. The trend, and after all the NFL is a copy-cat league, this coaching year is to hire very young very green coaches. The Pittsburgh Steelers hired 34 year-old Mike Tomlin to replace longtime head coach Bill Cowher. Given the Steelers record for choosing head coaches, two in the last 37 plus years, we will trust their judgement. The Oakland Raiders ended the Art Shell reunion tour at one season. Out-to-lunch 77 year-old Raider owner Al Davis called his new coach, 31 year-old Lane Kiffin, Lance twice during his press conference. Super, welcome to the team. Garrett helped make Joey Harrington not completely awful which should fast track him to elite status. However, the reality is that he has been a coordinator for exactly one year with zero head coaching experience on any level. Parcells had a famous quote where he talked about making the dinner and buying the groceries. Garrett is still a bag boy but he might be the best option for Dallas.

The roster for Dallas presents a whole other issue. Roy Williams is very good in run support. As deep cover he is awful and gets beat deep more than most at his position. The defense in general was solid most of the season until Greg Ellis was lost for the year with a knee injury. There after DeMarcus Ware was much less effective because he was constantly double teamed. Terence Newman was very good for a lot of the season but struggled in the playoffs. Dallas has two good running backs in Marion Barber and Julius Jones. Terry Glenn still has life and TE Jason Witten is in the Pro Bowl. The line is a work in progress and Flozell Adams has played 10 years and at times is looking old. They will need a backup to Romo as 84 year-old Drew Bledsoe and his expensive contract will be sent into QB never never land. Pieces are there but work needs to be done.

If Turner is given the job, he has to look over his shoulder at Garrett because he is obviously someone who face lift owner extraordinaire Jerry Jones really likes. Turner's reign could be short if the Cowboys struggle. Of all the current candidates Turner might be the best choice and get Garrett some seasoning before ultimately turning things over to him. The concern is that Turner repeats his pattern as a head coach and wastes a year as the Cowboys get older. Jones has said he wants a head coach in place this week. His choice will set up either a successful bridge or a complete train wreck. It should be must watch either way.

Jimmy J on the Hotlist

RECAP by usasoldier from a sports forum:

Jimmy says:

HL: It appears that Jerry Jones may be leaning towards your former OC Norv Turner. What are your thoughts of Jerry hiring Norv?

JJ: I think it'd be a great hire. You have got to have winning QB. Romo might be that guy. The Cowboys haven't had a QB that can be that guy since Aikman. Norv may be able to help make Romo become that guy.

HL: Who wins Superbowl

JJ: Indy's O is just too good.

Rumor at the Ranch is that TO is History...


Norv better hope he doesn't know Jerry

In My Opinion

Did I mention that Owner Jones confounds me?

He allowed the man everybody, including myself, believed to be his No. 1 candidate for the Cowboys coaching vacancy, Norv Turner, to hop back on a plane for San Fran without a contract or an offer.

What are the chances that the Cowboys owner has somebody else in mind?

Probably not good. Norv remains the front-runner until further notice, mainly because he has an inside track with Owner Jones.

"It helps me a great deal, from a comfort level, certainly knowing what Jerry is looking for," Turner said after his interview Sunday.

"From his standpoint, there is not that period of time trying to get used to someone or figure someone out."

Norv needs to hope that is not the Jerry he knew.

What he needs, if he has any chance of being successful with the Cowboys, is for Owner Jones to have learned a little and changed a little in his time with Coach Parcells.

The Cowboys and their new coach need the owner to be just a little less hands-on -- on draft day, in coaching staff selection, in football matters.

And, while I try to figure out if I need to read anything into Turner's return trip, let's dive into this week's edition of The Hate Index.

Nobody asked me but ...

1. Gary Bettman is an idiot.

No, seriously. He has zero idea how to sell the NHL in this post-lockout world, as evidenced by Stars-Penguins on Friday.

It was an amazingly fun game.

The building was packed. The game was really exciting. It was probably the most "into a game" I have seen a crowd since the glory days.

There were young kids throughout the arena. Owner Tom Hicks was on site. Overtime consisted of many quality chances.

When the game ended in a shootout, everybody was standing.

What produced this atmosphere?

Sid "The Kid" Crosby was in the building. He sold the tickets. He produced the buzz. And thanks to the genius of Bettman, he will not be back for a long, long time.

What is crazy is, just days ago, Bettman and his friendly neighborhood general managers decided to stay with an unbalanced schedule, which basically guarantees that The Kid does not hit every arena every season. Typical Bettman.

1a. Like Hillary Clinton and Newt Gingrich, I am assembling an exploratory committee.

This one will look into me running for NHL commish in 2008.

2. Mark my words: Nine out of 10 reunion tours stink.

For every Eagles reunion tour, there are at least nine Def Leopards, Led Zepplins and Van Halens.

They get the band back together. They play the old songs. And, almost without fail, it is never quite as good as you remember.

Are you listening, Turner supporters?

A big reason so many like the idea of Turner is, he reminds them of the '90s, of winning, of the good old days. What everybody fails to realize is, this is like a Beatles reunion tour without John Lennon.

The Jimster was their John.

Without him, it is just not going to be the same.

3. All of this squawking about the Cowboys skirting the Rooney rule is silly.

The rule needs to be abolished anyway.

There are two African-American coaches in the Super Bowl. Results speak for themselves. Any team stupid enough to need the NFL to force them to consider minority candidates in their search does not deserve the hint.

Everybody else already got it.

Now, if the NFL execs are anything more than pile of hypocrites, and I am not so sure they are not, they would apply the Rooney rule, that a minority needs to be interviewed for every opening, to front-office jobs and jobs with the league.

4. If Tiger Woods and Roger Federer were to play for a championship in air hockey or foosball, or really any sport besides golf and tennis, who wins?

Neither seems capable of losing.

Sunday was another reminder of just how dominant these two have become in their respective sports.

The only difference is, "all Tiger all the time" seems to be drawing more fans, while Roger domination has turned dude tennis into a yawner.

5. T.Faux has a party planned in Miami, which very likely will be as close as he gets to a Super Bowl with the Cowboys.

Things have a way of changing quickly at Valley Ranch, especially with a coach yet to be determined or hired.

Yet, I am hearing a persistent buzz from Valley Ranch that Owner Jones has decided to say goodbye to everybody's favorite receiver.

Even with Coach Parcells gone.

Of course, we have to wait until June -- when T.Faux's $3 million roster bonus is due.

Jack Del Rio reportedly has shown interest in becoming the Cowboys' next head coach

Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio reportedly has shown interest in becoming the Cowboys' next head coach.

He reportedly didn't ask Jags officials for permission to interview and "doesn't appear to be a serious candidate." Coming off an 8-8 campaign, Del Rio likely faces a make-or-break season with Jacksonville in 2007.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

Cowboys will likely name their next head coach on Wednesday

A "league source" told the San Francisco Chronicle that the Cowboys will likely name their next head coach on Wednesday.

Mike Singletary, Norv Turner, Wade Phillips, and Gary Gibbs, whom Chris Mortensen has cautioned not to "count out," are the top candidates. Jason Garrett is in the mix, but figures to stay as offensive coordinator.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle

Turner wants to return to Dallas

Kevin Lynch, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, January 29, 2007

Norv Turner spent Sunday at the place that made him famous -- Dallas -- and in a surprise to some, he returned to California without a job offer from the Cowboys. Turner, though, is expected to talk with the team more today about its head-coaching vacancy.

The 49ers' offensive coordinator, who held the same position when Dallas won consecutive Super Bowls in 1993-94, appears to be a top candidate to replace the retiring Bill Parcells.

According to reports, Turner met all day with owner Jerry Jones, executive vice president Stephen Jones, who is Jones' son, and the outgoing Parcells. He then spoke briefly with reporters.

Asked if he still wanted the job after interviewing, Turner told the Fort Worth Star Telegram and other media outlets, "There's no question. ... I think the things that coach Parcells has done have left this team in position where good things are going to happen for it. So it's a great job."

Turner is still beloved in Dallas, even though he left the Cowboys 13 years ago. He's well known to the Jones family and to those they depend on for advice, including Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman.

Turner introduced Aikman during the former quarterback's Hall of Fame induction last summer and has remained close to the former Cowboy.

"I think this is the first time I've been back in the (Cowboys') building since I was a part of the organization many years ago," Turner told reporters. "I think we talked a little bit about everything today. ... This is one of the great organizations in all of sports. I had a chance to visit with Jerry and get a real good idea of what he's thinking, what he's looking at, and I was able to share a lot of my thoughts with him."

The Cowboys have interviewed seven candidates but only three from outside the organization: Turner, Chargers defensive coordinator (and former Bills and Broncos head coach) Wade Phillips and Saints defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs.

It's no coincidence that the other candidates are defensive coaches, which is where the 9-7 Cowboys struggled this season. Turner is known for grooming young quarterbacks, and the Cowboys have one in Tony Romo.

Turner would have to contend with Terrell Owens, if the wide receiver -- who essentially signed a series of three one-year deals -- returns to Dallas. When he was head coach in Oakland, Turner did get Randy Moss and Jerry Porter to perform.

"I want to coach good players. When you get into a situation in terms of being with a new team, there's an evaluation process and there's a lot of things that go into it," Turner said. "I like the players that are here and T.O. is one of them."

If Turner is hired, it could be with the understanding that he'll groom newly hired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett as his replacement.

Losing Turner would jar the 49ers, who have had three offensive coordinators in the last three seasons. The team would likely keep Turner's system in place, which would make receivers coach Jerry Sullivan a strong candidate to replace Turner.

Briefly: Chargers linebackers coach Greg Manusky is due in today to interview for the Niners' defensive-coordinator opening. He has coached linebackers in the Chargers' 3-4 scheme the last five seasons.

Cowboys aim to sign Matt McBriar to a long-term deal this offseason

The Cowboys aim to sign Matt McBriar to a long-term deal this offseason.

The former Aussie Rules punter was an All-Pro in 2006, when he led the league with a 48.2-yard average, the NFL's highest mark since 1963.

Source: Dallas Morning News

GAC says forget about Singletary as DC

He said there is zero chance that Singletary can be hired as DC.

He said that San Francisco is on record as saying they will not release him from his contract for anything short of a HC position.

He said you can forget about it because it absolutely will not happen.

Cowboys Mailbag: Defense needs help

Tom Orsborn
Express-News Staff Writer

MIAMI – There’s no doubt Norv Turner and Jason Garrett would do wonders for Tony Romo, Julius Jones, Marion Barber and the rest of the Cowboys’ young, dynamic offensive talent.

As offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers last season, Turner brought out the best in quarterback Alex Smith and running back Frank Gore, who earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl after amassing more than 2,100 total yards and scoring nine touchdowns.

Garrett, by all accounts, will someday be just as good as Turner – if not better.

But do the Cowboys really need to focus so much on an offense that sizzled last season, scoring the second-most TDs and averaging the fourth-most points in the league?

Has Jones forgotten it was a late-season collapse by the defense that cost the Cowboys a division title and the No. 2 seed?

If Jones names the 54-year-old Turner the team’s seventh coach and makes the recently hired Garrett offensive coordinator, the Cowboys should have no problems next season putting points on the board. Romo’s development would continue, Jones and Barber would flourish and Terrell Owens, Terry Glenn and Jason Witten would be even better than they were last season, when they combined for nearly 3,000 receiving yards.

But what about the defense? Who’s going to nurse that sorry unit back to health?

The answer apparently is 43-year-old secondary coach Todd Bowles, who spent most of his eight-year NFL playing career with the Washington Redskins.

While Jones apparently isn’t ready to trust the 40-year-old Garrett to run the offense by himself, he has no problem turning over the defense to Bowles, who has only seven years of experience as an NFL assistant and none as a coordinator.

Now this is not to say Bowles won’t do a great job if he indeed becomes the defensive coordinator. The Cowboys apparently were going to give him the title if Bill Parcells had stayed.

But I’m just wondering if Jones has forgotten how bad the defense was in December. And even if Bowles is the second coming of Buddy Ryan doesn’t he need more to work with personnel-wise? Perhaps it would be wise to bring back Dave Campo to run the defense and mentor Bowles.

Make no mistake. I’m not against hiring Turner as coach or naming Garrett offensive coordinator. But the problem with this team is on the other side of the ball and the Cowboys won’t become a Super Bowl contender until it’s addressed.

Now on to this week’s letters:

How much did Bill Parcells’ retirement have to do with Terrell Owens? –Gary, Washington, D.C.

There’s no doubt Parcells didn’t enjoy coaching Owens, but I don’t think their relationship – or lack of one – was the reason Parcels left. My guess is he realized there was no way he could get this team over the hump and risked damaging his reputation by staying. Although I thought Parcells did a great job of restoring pride to the Cowboys, he also made several mistakes. His insistence on stocking the team with thirtysomething veterans is a big reason why it slumped every December. He also handcuffed his coordinators because he wanted simple systems he could understand. Still, Parcells deserves credit for improving the talent level and bringing out the best in several young players who will form the nucleus of the club for years to come.

Why didn’t Jones make a run at Bill Cowher? –Pete, San Antonio

Jones and Cowher would be a bad mix. Cowher worked for a sensible, stable owner in Pittsburgh who never interfered with football decisions. Jones needs someone who understands that he will have the final say when it comes to personnel, the hiring of assistants, etc.

I say give Jason Garrett a shot at being head coach. Let him make mistakes and watch him learn from then and then thrive and win. –Tracy Sanchez, Martinsville, Va.

Jerry Jones doesn’t agree, which is why he’s likely to hire Turner to coach the team and serve as a mentor to Garrett. In due time, Garrett will take over this team. Letting him be a coordinator for a few seasons certainly won’t hurt.

Speaking as an 85-year-old Monday morning quarterback, don’t let Garrett get away. We need him. –Roger Dawson, Victoria

Jones reportedly was blown away by what Garrett said during his interview. That’s why he signed him right away rather than risk another team scooping him up.

A Turner Candidacy Would Turn on His DC

By Rafael Vela

Update Promoted from the threads: Espn’s Ed Werder tells the Mike and Mike Show that Turner looks like the leader but wants to leverage some changes, given San Francisco’s strong desire to retain him. I have learned this is true but that a Turner hiring is not imminent. As for what changes Turner might want, I cannot say. I’ve learned nothing about any possible assistants he might favor.

Going back over his brief Raiders’ tenure I can say this in Norv’s favor — he’s the guy who hired Rob Ryan to be DC. If he’s got another young hotshot DC in mind, he should speak his mind, loud and clear.

They’re feeling spurned in San Francisco.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The local press seems excited about a Norv Turner candicacy. Turner will interview a second time today. Are they trying to surreptitiously tell us something then can’t say out loud?

What could a Turner candidacy bring? For one, a return to the Don Coryell/Ernie Zampese influenced offense Turner learned with the Rams in the late ’80s while an assistant under John Robinson. The one he incorporated so well in Dallas. The one Mike Martz ran so effectively with the same Rams in the late ’90s and early oughts.

It would change the running game the Cowboys use to a more zone based system and perhaps change the type of linemen Dallas will need to draft in the next couple of years to replace the aging ones currently in place. That said, it’s hard to see how Turner could improve on this year’s output. The 425 points Tony Sparano helped notch were never topped by a Turner-led Cowboys offense. Only Ernie Zampese’s ‘95 squad, with 435 points, bettered it. Still, matching it would again put Dallas among the league’s offensive leaders.

But again, who would lead the defense? Star-Telegram scribe Randy Galloway nominates Dave Campo.

While I’m hesitant to jump on a radio guy’s bandwagon, and while his idea appears to be nothing but conjecture at this point, Randy’s idea might work. Campo’s coaching apex came during his five years as Cowboys’ DC, from ‘95 through ‘99. While he worked with less talented units every progressive year, as the organization tried in vain to replace Kevin Smith, Russell Maryland, Darrin Smith and especially Charles Haley, Campo kept the defense near the top. Look at his defenses’ scoring ranks:

Year, Points, Rank

‘95 — 291 — 3rd
‘96 — 250 — 3rd
‘97 — 314 — 14th
‘98 — 275 — 3rd
‘99 — 276 — 5th

His fairly consistent top five production earned him the head job in 2000, after Chan Gailey’s departure. His defense missed his touch as it failed to finish in the top ten during his three years at the helm. (It’s best finish during the Campo/Zimmer years was 13th in 2002.)

Campo had two DC offers waiting for him when he stepped down from the HC job in ‘03. He turned down Mike Holmgren’s offer to run Seattle’s defense and joined Butch Davis’ Cleveland staff. His Browns were 12th in ‘03 and sank to 24th in ‘04, when Davis was fired midway through the season. Interestingly, Campo oversaw a young secondary coach by the name of Todd Bowles there.

Which brings us back to the fundamental question. Can Dallas switch to a 4-3, the only scheme Campo has run in the pros? The answer is a guarded yes. The Cowboys have already acquired the most difficult piece to any scheme in OLB Demarcus Ware, who played as a 4-3 end at Troy and has the size to play RE in a four man line. Look at Chris Canty’s ‘06 and you’ll see that his best game, far and away was the finale against Detroit, where Dallas played a four man line most of the time. Canty rushed far better lined up inside than he did in a three man line. Marcus Spears has the size to rotate with Jason Ferguson. Jay Ratliff was a 4-3 tackle at Auburn and also has the bulk for a four man scheme.

The success of any reversion to a 4-3 will fall to end Jason Hatcher and the linebackers, especially the middle linebackers Bradie James and Akin Ayodele. Bill Parcells lauded Hatcher’s versatility late in the season, saying he had the size and mobility to play end in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. Dallas rushed him into the nickel package because of his rushing promise and Parcells complained midseason about how much a Hatcher injury messed with his nickel options. If Hatcher can build on that promise, Dallas has the bookend to Ware. Still, it’s premature to declare that a certainty.

Linebacker also looks muddled. There’s no issue with speed on the edges. Bobby Carpenter posted a 4.61 last spring, the same time Ware posted coming out the season before. Carpenter played SOLB in Ohio State’s 4-3 and could probably move back there without too much trouble.

Shifting to 4-3 might give Kevin Burnett a chance to crack the starting lineup. He played WOLB in Tennessee’s 4-3 and has 4.6 speed. Moving out in space and getting the freedom to chase the ball might suit him better than the 3-4. He seems best suited of all the current Cowboys linebackers to play this position.

A change means Dallas has a surplus inside with Ayodele and James. What’s more, both got large, long-term contracts this year. Ayodele played on the strong side in Jacksonville, (where Campo was secondary coach) but the Jaguars showed little desire to keep him when he became a free agent. He played well inside and was second only to Ware in week-in, week-out performance among Cowboys’ ‘backers.

James, on the other hand, regressed after a breakout ‘05. If Dallas does hire a familiar face like Campo, I would not be surprised if the team shopped one of these two. It would make no sense to have a big ticket player as a backup.

I would point out again that this is only conjecture, though the second Turner interview could make a change like this more of a possibility.

In addition, Dallas would still need to fix the free safety position, no matter who the coordinator is or what scheme he plays.

Should Jerry wait until after the Super Bowl?

January 30, 2007

DMN Cowboy Blog
Should Jerry wait until after the Super Bowl?

Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera and Colts assistant head coach/QB coach Jim Caldwell can't talk to teams about head coaching jobs until after the Super Bowl. They're both considered legitimate candidates.

Should the Cowboys wait to talk to Rivera and/or Caldwell before naming Bill Parcells' replacement?
I reckon it'd be a good idea. Jerry obviously hasn't been bowled over by any of the first four candidates (assuming the three assistants were courtesy interviews and not counting Mike Singletary), or he'd already have made an announcement. And it's not like Jerry needs a head coach in place to put a staff together.

Posted by Tim MacMahon at 4:11 PM (E-mail this entry) | Comments (0)

Mike is next
San Francisco 49ers assistant coach Mike Singletary is supposed to speak to the media in the next 15 minutes. So, we'll have his thoughts on his interview today in a few moments.

Plenty of media folks are here today, more so than over the weekend when Norv Turner, Gary Gibbs and Wade Phillips spoke.

Posted by Calvin Watkins at 4:03 PM (E-mail this entry) | Comments (0)

Rivera shows interest
Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera reiterated to Al Dia that he would very much like to be considered to coach the Cowboys. He even seemed a bit worried that his window was closing, since Dallas cannot talk to him about the vacancy until after the Super Bowl.

Posted by Carlos Nava at 3:21 PM (E-mail this entry) | Comments (0)

Rivera shows interest

cowboys beloblog: Rivera shows interest

Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera reiterated to Al Dia that he would very much like to be considered to coach the Cowboys. He even seemed a bit worried that his window was closing, since Dallas cannot talk to him about the vacancy until after the Super Bowl.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Turner emerges as favorite for Cowboys job

Tom Orsborn

Meanwhile in Irving, the Dallas Cowboys were busy interviewing Norv Turner, who helped Troy Aikman put together a similar spread in the early 1990s and could soon have the chance to do the same for Tony Romo.

Turner, 54, was the seventh and likely last candidate to interview for a head coaching job that became vacant when Bill Parcells retired seven days ago.

"I was excited to get a chance to visit and talk about things that are important to me," said Turner, San Francisco's offensive coordinator and Aikman's presenter last summer when he was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame.

"I've got a lot of confidence in the things I can do," Turner said.

The Cowboys didn't offer Turner the job. But he's considered the frontrunner to become the team's seventh coach and the sixth hired by Jerry Jones because of his relationship with the owner.

Jones hasn't offered a timetable for hiring a coach. He's scheduled to fly to Miami on Thursday, sparking speculation that an announcement could come within the next few days.

"I had a chance to get a real good idea what (Jones) is thinking and what he's looking at," Turner said. "I was able to share a lot of my thoughts with him."

Turner is 59-83-1 as a head coach, with stops in Washington and Oakland. Both teams fired him, leading observers to rate him a far better coordinator than coach.

While running the Cowboys' offense from 1991-93, Turner called the plays that led to two Super Bowl titles and helped make stars of Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and receiver Michael Irvin.

If hired again by Jones, Turner would be expected to do the same with Romo.

"My exposure to Tony is just from watching games on TV," Turner told reporters in Irving. "Certainly, he's an exciting player capable of making plays. And really that's a big part of what this game is about, what this league is about. There's not a lot of guys that have that natural, great playmaking ability."

Turner is poised to inherit an offense that averaged the fourth-most points in the league. It's a unit that includes a Pro Bowl tight end (Jason Witten), two 1,000-yard receivers (Terry Glenn, Terrell Owens) and two talented young running backs (Julius Jones, Marion Barber),

There's also a young, up-and-comer on the coaching staff in newly hired Jason Garrett, who spent the past two seasons as the Miami Dolphins' quarterbacks coach and was Aikman's longtime backup.

The Cowboys hired Garrett for an undetermined job after interviewing him for head coach. He's expected to become offensive coordinator if Jones hires Turner.

Turner said he tried to add Garrett to his staff in Oakland.

"That tells you a little something about how I feel about Jason," Turner said.

Turner also might feel comfortable working with Owens after having dealt with other high-maintenance receivers in Irvin and Oakland's Randy Moss.

"I want to coach good players," Turner said. "Being with a new team, there's an evaluation process, and there's a lot of things that go into it. I like the players that are here, and T.O. is one of them."

Turner also has helped several running backs shine. Last season, the 49ers Frank Gore led the league with 1,685 yards.

Turner's visit to the Cowboys headquarters was his first since the Redskins hired him in February 1994.

"It's just a very, very unique place," he said. "When you're away from it some time, you don't realize it. But it certainly hit me at Troy's Hall of Fame induction ceremony — the Cowboys fans, all the people wearing Troy's jersey, just the excitement and energy that's always there with this organization."

Garrett glad to be back with Cowboys

Whether he's head coach or coordinator, former quarterback is 'excited'
11:51 PM CST on Sunday, January 28, 2007
By CALVIN WATKINS / The Dallas Morning News

IRVING – Jason Garrett's role hasn't officially been announced, but sources said the former Cowboys quarterback will be the offensive coordinator and mentor to Tony Romo if he doesn't get the head coaching position.

Sunday afternoon, Garrett made his first public comments since he was hired Thursday.

"I'm just excited to be here," Garrett said to several reporters stationed outside the Cowboys' Valley Ranch headquarters. "It was an interesting week for me, kind of a whirlwind coming from Mobile, Ala."

Garrett was scouting college players at the Senior Bowl as the Miami Dolphins' quarterbacks coach last week. The Cowboys received permission to speak with him about the offensive coordinator and head coaching jobs. Garrett impressed the Cowboys immensely, and he was hired immediately. Dallas had to move quickly because Miami had placed a deadline on a decision.

The Cowboys need Garrett more than ever with the pending departure of quarterbacks coach Chris Palmer. Palmer is expected to take the same position with the New York Giants.

Garrett is a surprise candidate for the head coaching job because of his limited experience as a coach. After playing 12 seasons in the NFL, mainly as a backup, he was hired by the Dolphins as quarterbacks coach in 2005.

Several coaches, including Norv Turner, San Francisco's offensive coordinator, who is interviewing for the Cowboys head coaching job, are impressed with Garrett.

Garrett said he felt good about his interview with the Cowboys.

Dallas has interviewed seven candidates in the last week to replace Bill Parcells. No timetable has been determined, though owner/general manager Jerry Jones is scheduled to leave for Miami, the site of Super Bowl XLI, on Thursday.

"We talked about offense, [and] about bigger picture things," said Garrett, who spent seven seasons with Dallas. "It was good and it was exciting. They are going to make the decision they need to make. But the most important thing is I'm really excited to be with the Cowboys."

PFT: 'Boy Squeezing Norv, Wade?


There's talk in league circles that Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips remains at the top of the list for the Cowboys' head-coaching job, despite reports that 49ers offensive coordinator Norv Turner is the front-runner for the job.

So could it be that owner Jerry Jones is trying to soften up both of them in the hopes of getting one of the them to accept whatever lowball offer he puts on the table?

The Steelers claim that last week's dueling reports regarding the candidacies of Mike Tomlin and Russ Grimm resulted from efforts to negotiate with both men before making a final decision. Though there's a question as to the accuracy of this contention, since Tomlin's agent admits that there was no negotiation with his client until his client was informed that he was the choice, the strategy makes sense, if a team has decided that either guy would be acceptable.

Both Turner and Phillips have previously held two head-coaching jobs. But with neither getting a sniff for any of the four other vacancies that were filled this year, Jones is in position to at least try to play one against the other in order to get the best deal possible.

Especially when he can tell both of them that, if they're not interested in the money he's offering, he can just make offensive coordinator Jason Garrett the coach.

'Doctor' treating T.O., others are under investigation

By Mike Fish

CUMMING, Ga. -- Mack Henry "Hank'' Sloan is the operator of a modest-sized clinic on the northern outskirts of Atlanta. He conducts his business below the radar in nearly every way, but stands out in one unique area: He lends a trusted healing hand to some of the hottest names in pro sports, including headline-grabbing Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens, Bills linebacker Takeo Spikes and mercurial Redskins running back Clinton Portis. The soft-spoken, unassuming Sloan volunteers that he attends to players from 22 different NFL teams.

The keys to his popularity in the jock community are his outside-the-box methods, which are thought -- at least by Sloan himself and the players he treats -- to speed the return from injury. And so Sloan occupies a place on the medical fringe of sports, treating athletes away from the watchful eye of team doctors and training staffs. Athletes come seeking a competitive edge or perhaps as a last resort when conventional methods have failed.

The state of Georgia intends to find out. Case in point: Detroit Lions defensive end Kalimba Edwards sacrificed half of his off-days this season, flying to Atlanta every other Tuesday for treatment from Sloan so he could play through a groin injury. Over the past two years, Edwards acknowledges receiving prolotherapy injections, liquid vitamins, IVs, anti-inflammatory shots and other non-steroidal injections from Sloan, who, Edwards assumes, is a medical doctor.

"I'm pretty sure he is," he says.

"You got to understand: Dr. Sloan, he is constantly researching the best type of equipment, the best of that type of stuff to use on you so he can be as noninvasive as possible," explains Edwards, a second-round pick in 2002 who has twice led the Lions in sacks. "I mean, the dude is awesome. Man, he is straight, legit. He is official."

That's the assumption, too, of Ed Hartwell, the Atlanta Falcons' oft-injured middle linebacker who comes by Sloan's office at least once a week.

"Yeah, he's a doctor," Hartwell says. "He's an M.D. . . . I know [he is]. You see his stuff in his office and stuff. He's got it."

But wait, Sloan responds: "I don't ever present myself as a medical doctor."

Sloan, though, is currently under investigation by Georgia authorities for practicing medicine without a license, a felony offense, ESPN.com has learned. The 36-year-old Sloan calls himself a naturopath, a practitioner of a medical discipline that emphasizes holistic approaches to enhance the body's innate ability to recover. Naturopathy is licensed in only 14 states -- but not Georgia. As for the training Sloan says he has received, the bulk of it is from a number of distance learning programs that are not accredited in the U.S. and, in one case, is the subject of an investigation by Kentucky medical and legal authorities.

Dr. James McNatt, medical director for Georgia's Composite State Board of Medical Examiners, confirmed the Georgia investigation, telling ESPN.com: "[Sloan] may be doing stuff that would be considered the practice of naturopathy, but he can't do that in Georgia. If you are injecting a chemical into somebody's body to treat them for a problem or to fix something, that would be the practice of medicine."

Should the board bring findings against Sloan, a public cease-and-desist order would be issued. Violation of the order typically results in cases being turned over for criminal prosecution.

Georgia authorities began their formal investigation in late October after Wyndy Shelton, 33, filed a complaint that her 8-year-old daughter witnessed Sloan injecting a man in his exposed buttocks while the girl was a guest on a houseboat owned by Sloan.

During their probe, investigators have accessed a series of almost two-year-old e-mail messages to blogger Sal Marinello, in which Sloan candidly expressed a familiarity with human growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), both of which are banned substances shown to increase the rate of muscle repair after injury as well as the rate of muscle growth from training. There is no indication, however, that Sloan or any of his athletes ever used the substances. Nor have any of his athletes ever tested positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance.

In one of those e-mails, Sloan offered: "I just recently healed a 60% tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in a Pro Baseball Player using a combination of GH, IGF-1, and prolotherpy [sic]. We have the team MRI, pre and post, to prove it . . . I'm very cautious and use almost all natural agents, seeing that I am trying to heal tissue, not band aid injury. IFG-1 [sic] is used sparingly and in very specific protocols."

Sloan says now that in those e-mails he was explaining a research project he was participating in at the time with a now-defunct Colorado biotechnology firm. He also denies use of banned substances in his practice.

Instead, among an assortment of treatments for speeding the return of star athletes including Owens, Sloan claims to prescribe natural, non-steroidal injections to help regrow tendons and ligaments. Sloan says he was part of the team that rehabbed Owens, then with the Eagles, from a broken leg at breakneck speed prior to the Super Bowl two years ago. And last summer, he says, T.O. summoned him to the Cowboys' camp to oversee his recovery from a hamstring injury.

Attempts by ESPN.com to contact Owens, both through the Cowboys and his agent, for comment about Sloan were unsuccessful.

Leading orthopedic surgeons and scientists roundly debunk the notion that tendons and ligaments can be regrown via prolotherapy treatments, which involve injections of a sugar water solution. If Sloan is able to regrow tendons and ligaments, suggests prominent internist and sports medicine specialist Dr. Gary Wadler, "He not only would own the Nobel Prize, he would go down in the annals as one of the great minds of all time if it were that simple."

Equally dubious about Sloan's science is Dr. Ralph Gambardella, president and board chairman of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, where Dr. Frank Jobe pioneered ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction -- better known as Tommy John elbow surgery.

"What I am unsure of is what the science is behind what this gentleman or whoever would be saying," says Gambardella, who also serves as president of the Association of Major League Baseball Team Physicians. "To say that the tendon or ligament regrows is a stretch of the imagination. I don't think you can take a tendon that is torn or absent in a spot and regrow it, so to speak, like a starfish."

Despite his critics, Sloan has a band of believers inside locker rooms.

He says about half of the Atlanta Falcons wandered into his office this past season.

He says he treated 10 to 15 NFL athletes a week this fall, and regularly works with even more out-of-season.

He says he and personal trainer Melvyn Williams have had five Washington Redskins starters, including Portis, "under contract" for the past two seasons. Sloan says he flies up to the nation's capital every other Friday to care for his athletes.

And he speaks of a working relationship with mega-agent Drew Rosenhaus, whose clients include Owens and Portis. Rosenhaus declined to comment on their relationships with Sloan or the medical treatment afforded his players, saying, "I just know that my dealings with [Sloan] have been positive. And I think he does an excellent job. . . . I have a high opinion of him."

When pressed for details about Sloan's practice, Rosenhaus twice abruptly ended telephone interviews.

On a recent Friday, Sloan is dressed in blue jeans and a collarless, dark-blue knit shirt as he leads a reporter on a tour of his Genesis Health Center, which sits in an office park of two-story, red-brick buildings. He pauses often to demonstrate the electrical machines -- with names such as Electro Acuscope and Myopulse, and High-beam Therapeutic Laser -- and hyperbaric chambers spread throughout a half dozen or so treatment rooms.

"They're all [FDA] approved machines," Sloan says. "I can't take any scrutiny for that. Somebody might say they don't work. And I'll say, 'Come to my clinic for a week and see how quick people are feeling better.'"

Slight of build with a stubble of sandy hair, he looks more like actor Ed Harris than a guy who rubs shoulders with pro athletes. Most days, he says, his wife and mother work alongside his office staff. The scriptural passages found throughout the facility give it a homey, religious feel. But the place has a powerful sports-bar atmosphere, too, as it is punctuated by memorabilia and photos of athletes.

Sloan says he picked up his first sports clients about five years ago: Owens, then with the San Francisco 49ers, and John Rocker, the former reliever with the Atlanta Braves.

"We text [message] probably weekly, every other week," Sloan says about his contact with Owens. "Sometimes 10 times a day depending on what he needs. He has therapists there now [in Dallas] that are running his machines that he got from me."

And the nature of the exchanges between Owens and Sloan?

"'This thing ain't feeling right; what do I do about it?'" Sloan says. "Or, 'How does this machine need to be worked?'"

Sloan cautions that athletes are only a small part of his practice. But in the next breath, he says he treated three Atlanta Falcons the day before this mid-November interview.

"They needed a little tune-up," he explains. "One guy had just a sore hamstring, and he wanted me to flush it out. I used the laser on it. He felt great when he left. If he didn't get that done -- the teams are still using just electrical stim [stimulation] and ice. And he wouldn't feel much better."

Sloan says the Falcons' franchise star, Michael Vick, came by his office, less than a 25-minute drive from the team's practice facility, early in the 2005 season for treatment after he strained ligaments in his right knee.

"Just a couple times," Sloan volunteers. "He's not very prone to do therapy of any kind. The guys say he comes around the hot tub at the [Falcons] facility, sticks his toe in -- 'Oh, too hot. I don't want to put that in there.'"

Falcons general manager Rich McKay, through a team spokesman, declined comment for this story, and also refused to make Dr. Scott Gillogly, the Falcons' head physician and orthopedic surgeon, available for an interview.

Gillogly, however, suggested other orthopedic surgeons who might address the subject, including Dr. Benjamin Shaffer, team physician for both the Washington Nationals and Capitals.

"[Sloan's] putting an injection in somebody?" Shaffer asked. "Hell, yeah, you're practicing medicine. And I don't know what a naturopath is. I don't want to be critical of him. It may be a very recognized entity. I just, personally, am not aware of that particular subspecialty. But certainly anybody, no matter what they call themselves, if they are injecting medicine, if they are handing out medicine, if they are applying a treatment technique and they are not certified in the state in which they are doing it, that is practicing without a license. That is just common sense.

"And I would be very adamant to the player and the [team] management that I would not advocate that kind of treatment without some legitimacy. And that is beyond not even standing up to scientific scrutiny. That is not even legitimacy from a professional standpoint. It is not legitimate; it is not legal."

Asked to describe his medical expertise, Sloan says he is a "nonsurgical, soft-tissue rehabilitation specialist." He criticizes conventional training practices as lagging behind the times, which is why, he says, players find their way to his door.

Back in his corner office, Sloan perches behind his desk.

"T.O. is a good example," he says. "I mean, we have cases every week. Like I said, one of the Falcons' players had a pretty severe nerve injury in his lower leg, and he wasn't supposed to play for two weeks. He was out one week."

As to his healing credentials, Sloan claims he has a "stack of certificates." ESPN.com, though, has been unable to document anything beyond his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Georgia, Class of 1994. He says he has a European medical degree that he never bothered to transfer to Georgia. He mentions a degree from a one-year physical therapy school in Atlanta, though adds that the school changed names and he can't recall the new one. He claims to have earned naturopathic doctor degrees from the Southern Graduate Institute in Falcon, Ky., and the University of Science Art & Technology [USAT] in Montserrat, West Indies. Neither is recognized by any U.S. accreditation body.

He also claims to have earned a doctorate in public health last year from USAT, and says he's completing a master's in nursing from the Montserrat school.

Both USAT and the Southern Graduate Institute have drawn the attention of the Kentucky medical board and state attorney general's office following a series of articles in October by the Lexington Herald-Leader about Steve Arnett, founder of the Southern Graduate Institute. According to the newspaper, that school has been portrayed as a diploma mill, and Arnett as a hustler who has been in trouble with the authorities in the past for puffing up his credentials.

Arnett also is connected to USAT in Montserrat, where he has been listed on the school's Web site as its chief academic officer and a board member. The site also listed him as an M.D. As recently as last January, Sloan also was listed on the USAT Web site as a faculty member in the Basic Science Department. (The school's Web site currently doesn't list any faculty.)

Sloan might have stayed below the radar in Georgia but for the incident on his houseboat on Lake Lanier, about 40 miles north of Atlanta. On a Saturday afternoon this past October, an 8-year-old girl said she saw Sloan inject a man with an unknown substance in his bare buttock. Shelton, the girl's mother, reported the incident to the local sheriff's department, which directed her to medical authorities.

According to an incident report, the girl's father, who is estranged from her mother, told deputies that "Hank was a sport doctor and he uses his boat sometimes to give people shots."

Sloan later acknowledged the incident to deputies, saying that the children weren't supposed to be in the bedroom area of the boat.

Sloan told ESPN.com that the man being injected is a stockbroker friend, and that the injection was vitamin B-12.

"You can't give somebody a B-12 injection unless you are licensed," says McNatt, medical director of the Georgia state board. "It is a medical injection. My interpretation of it is that [he] is diagnosing a B-12 deficiency and is giving a B-12 injection to remedy that."

The Georgia state board specifically defines unlawful practice without a medical license this way: diagnosis or treatment of disease or injuries . . . recommend or prescribe any form of treatment . . . receive any fee, gift or compensation . . . maintain office for the reception, examination or treatment of diseased or injured . . . attach the title M.D., Surgeon, Doctor.

On the latest business license application filed in Cumming, Ga., the words "Doctors office" are written under the activity heading for the business being conducted at Sloan's Genesis Health Center. The application also lists just one employee.

Sloan contends that he works under the supervision of a licensed physician, Dr. Barry N. Jones, when he injects patients, and thus isn't breaking Georgia law. Jones, 64, specializes in psychiatry and operates an addictive disease practice about four miles from Sloan's office. He is listed as clinical director of Sloan's practice, and Sloan says Jones works in his office on Tuesdays.

"From what I have heard, that doesn't in any way qualify as an adequate supervision of somebody's practice," McNatt says.

Repeated messages left at Jones' office by ESPN.com went unanswered.

Attorney Montfort Ray, who represents both Sloan and Jones, says: "Dr. Jones and Dr. Sloan are in practice together, and Dr. Jones is the supervising physician. He has been the supervising physician for a number of years. The board is aware of their practice and has no problem with it."

There is no indication that Jones was on the boat during the injection witnessed by the young girl. And the pro athletes contacted by ESPN.com who've had extensive treatment or injections from Sloan say they aren't familiar with Jones.

Former NBA star Allan Houston, now an analyst for ESPN, acknowledges experimenting with prolotherapy injections in a last-ditch effort to prolong his career, and says he bought a laser machine from Sloan after learning about his practice from a personal trainer.

"He definitely manages it," Houston says about Sloan. "He is definitely hands-on. He is right there. . . . He was the one."

Hartwell, standing in front of his locker after a Falcons late-season practice, said he isn't familiar with anyone supervising Sloan, either.

"Jones? Don't know him," Hartwell says.

The name is new to Edwards, too: "Dr. who? Barry Jones? Who is Barry Jones? No, I don't know who Barry Jones is. Only person I know is Dr. Sloan."

Asked if a Dr. Jones oversaw any of his injections, Edwards says: "No, it is [Sloan]. He does it. You see Dr. Sloan. When you go see Dr. Sloan, you see Dr. Sloan. He don't put you off on nobody else, you hear me?"

Sloan's practice draws from a substantial number of athletes, principally NFL players, who make the Atlanta area their offseason home or who played college football in the South. Another draw, apparently, is his affiliation with the Hyperbaric Therapy Center, which lists him as a medical researcher and shares his 6,500-square-foot office.

Spikes, who plays for the Buffalo Bills but lives in Georgia in the offseason, went to Sloan for treatment for an Achilles injury before the 2006 season.

"It is just him, but he has some assistants and everything," Spikes says. "He also has the hyperbaric chambers, too. So you get like full-treatment sessions. After you get the laser or the micro-current, then you go spend an hour in a hyperbaric chamber. So it is like a full-stop shop. You get everything."

When asked if the Bills are aware of the treatments Sloan performs on him, Spikes says, "I mean, he's just a regular rehab guy. So you ain't we're all grown men. You ain't got to report nothing to nobody."

Some players said they showed up at Sloan's doorstep after they struck out with traditional medical practices.

Hartwell says he was told about Sloan by other players after he injured an Achilles tendon last season, and he continues to see him for his balky knees.

"We actually had that [Achilles] rehabbed and we had that back about three months ahead of time, which is incredible," Sloan says.

Sloan also has capitalized on his association with T.O.

"I mean, he put T.O. back in the Super Bowl," Edwards says. "And cats were like, 'He's gonna be out 'til next year.' He's astounding."

Before Owens' recovery for the 2005 Super Bowl, Sloan's role in his treatment was mentioned in a profile of the wide receiver's training methods in an October 2004 issue of "Muscle and Fitness Magazine." The story caught the eye of Marinello, a New Jersey certified strength and conditioning specialist who was particularly skeptical of a reference to Sloan's prescribing "natural, non-steroidal injections to help regrow tendons and ligaments in injured areas" for Owens.

Marinello's comments on a blog site prompted Sloan to send an email response about the potential to combine prolotherapy with growth hormone and IGF-1, though Sloan insisted in a subsequent email that he uses "only prolotherapy" and natural healing agents. As for his most celebrated client, one of Sloan's emails said: "I have never injected T.O. with any GH or IGF-1."

Ray, Sloan's attorney, told ESPN.com that Sloan was "responding academically" and speaking solely to "the state of scientific research in that area."

"We can't use any remote growth [hormone] or IGF-1 because of the NFL regulations," Sloan says. "And with the quality and caliber of guys I work with, I never had any problem with any athlete testing weird on any tests."

Sloan adds: "I don't know anything about anabolics, and I usually don't know anything about those kinds of things. I keep them out of my computer and out of my mind. I really don't try to go down the road with them."

Last year, prolotherapy made sports headlines after Bode Miller and three other members of the U.S. ski team traveled to Mexico for treatments from embattled orthopedic specialist Milne Ongley, who had been banned from practicing his trade in the United States. The athletes claimed relief from knee pain, even though California's medical board, which found Ongley to be practicing medicine without a license, had previously labeled the treatment "devoid of medical value."

Whether the alternative therapy truly aids in the regrowth of tendons and ligaments is a hot-button question.

Even Sloan's patients give it mixed reviews. Houston says he got nothing out of it; but Edwards, who saw Sloan three days a week during the first month of his treatment, cites the injections as a factor in his recovery.

The suggestion that a natural process can trigger the re-growth of tendons and ligaments is foreign to almost all traditional medical and orthopedic specialists. Four leading surgeons contacted by ESPN.com dismiss it as pseudoscience, lacking any scientific base.

"The techniques [used by Sloan] sound totally experimental," says Dr. Peter Millett, a shoulder and elbow specialist at Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Vail, Colo., and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. "I must say that his credentials are quite suspect as well. I also think it would be extremely rare for one doctor to see 10-15 NFL players per week. I looked at [Sloan's] Web site. There is very little, if any, data to support the use of the treatments that are listed."

Gambardella, from the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, champions the move toward biologics in taking advantage of things such as stem cell research. But once beyond a possible placebo effect, he says, he doesn't see the same kind of study or research to support prolotherapy.

"This whole homeopathic and nutruceuticals world that we live in is totally unregulated, and that is where the problem is," Gambardella says. "It is not evidenced-based. It is treating symptoms. And if someone says their symptoms get better, that is fine. The problem is, it is a very, very difficult situation, because it is an unregulated business and it is out of control.

"In the medical world, insurance companies don't reimburse for any of this stuff, blah, blah. So these people can have an unregulated, very lucrative cash business."

Gambardella says a telltale sign that something is different about Sloan's practice is the presence of the photos of his patients on his office walls.

"Well, that is a kudo to him for marketing," Gambardella says. "Our clinic here, which has been around now for over 30 years and has taken care of probably more professional athletes than anybody at anytime -- you won't find a picture up. We're just not into that.

"I tell people all the time [that] this is a service industry. We treat people. And bartenders are a service industry as well."

Cowboys might interview another candidate for head coaching job

Posted on Mon, Jan. 29, 2007, Cowboys might interview another candidate for head coaching job

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

IRVING - The Cowboys are considering an additional candidate to interview for their head coaching job, an NFL source said. But whomever they decide to hire, it will likely be announced by Wednesday.

Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones is scheduled to leave for South Florida and the Super Bowl on Thursday.

There is speculation that the Cowboys may not have satisfied the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” that stipulates each team must interview a minority candidate for the head coaching position.

The Cowboys, however, did interview defensive backs coach Todd Bowles, who is African-American, last week. But if the NFL does not view that interview as satisfying the “Rooney Rule” adequately the Cowboys could fly in another candidate for an interview Tuesday.

San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Norv Turner is scheduled to speak with Jones at some point later this afternoon on the phone. He interviewed with the Cowboys on Sunday, and returned to northern California that evening.

He appears to remain the lead candidate.

Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who interviewed with the Cowboys on Friday, said Monday afternoon he has not heard back from the team.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

DMN blog- end is near

The end is near

Calvin "Lucky" Watkins, who is teaming up with Todd Archer to track the coaching search, tells me a new Cowboys coach could be hired in the next 48 hours.

At this point, it looks like Wade Phillips and Norv Turner are neck in neck with Jason Garrett and Gary Gibbs as long shots.

My gut tells me Turner will be the guy. He has two major advantages over Phillips -- he worked here during the Jerry Era glory days and will have Jerry's ear last.

Making the hire tomorrow would maximize the national buzz, because the Super Bowl hype really won't be heated up yet.

Posted by Tim MacMahon at 1:18 PM (E-mail this entry

Zimmer couldn't leave Dallas without saying goodbye to Cowboys fans.

Associated Press
National Football League News Wire

DALLAS -- Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer couldn't leave
Dallas without saying goodbye to Cowboys fans.

Zimmer accepted the same job with the Atlanta Falcons a few
weeks ago, ending a 13-year run with the Cowboys. He was one of the
last links to the team's most recent Super Bowl championship club.

So, on Sunday, the following letter appeared in The Dallas
Morning News sports section under the headline, "It's hard to say

"I would like to personally thank all the loyal fans of the
Cowboys for making my 13 years here the best of my life," he
wrote. "Your support and passion for Cowboys football made me more
determined every single day I was a part of your team, and I will
miss the friendships that I formed here in North Texas.

"It is hard to say goodbye because I was blessed to be able to
stay in one city for this long, something that is rare in the
coaching life. I also want to thank all of the players who
withstood my constant pushing to improve along with the Jones
family and everyone inside Valley Ranch and Texas Stadium. You have
all been the best, and I always strived to live up to your

It was signed "Mike Zimmer, Atlanta Falcons."

DMN Blog: Norv Speaks...

Norv speaks

The media just finished talking with Norv Turner, the seventh man to interview for the vacant head coaching job.

Here's what Norv had to say:

"The first thing is, it was really exciting for me. It’s the first time I’ve been in this building since I was apart of this organization many years ago. We talked a little bit about everything, it’s a great opportunity, its one of the great organizations in all of sports. I had a chance to visit with Jerry and get a real good idea of what he’s thinking.”

On being the front runner: “I think the guys who have come in and talked are very qualified. I want a chance to come in and talk and I know what Jerry is looking for and its certainly as big a decision as you can make. I’m excited I had a chance to visit.”

Turner said he had a good talk with Bill Parcells. The two talked about the players and just how far this team is, or how close this team is to a Super Bowl, depending on your point of view.

Turner is headed back to the Bay Area as we speak and no timetable has been determined to when the Cowboys will name a new coach.

Posted by Calvin Watkins at 4:37 PM (E-mail this entry) | Comments (0)

Turner with a third chance?

If Norv Turner gets the job, it will be his third head coaching shot. He coached in Washington and Oakland.

Currently, as most of you know, Turner is the offensive coordinator with San Francisco.

Here's Turner on a possible third chance: "You never say never. To me in this league it’s all about timing and circumstance and the timing of this presents an opportunity. I’ve got a lot of confidence in the things I can do. I think there are a lot of people in this league that look at it in that manner. I’m confident that if this opportunity happens it’ll be a great opportunity. If it doesn’t, then there will be something down the road."

The 49ers are trying to keep Turner so he can continue to develop quarterback Alex Smith. San Francisco officials would like to beef up Turner's contract so he'll stay. There were reports that the 49ers didn't want Turner to interview, but coach Mike Nolan said he couldn't stop him. Turner said he wanted to interview.

Posted by Calvin Watkins at 4:43 PM (E-mail this entry) | Comments (0)

Cowboys should hire Phillips, groom Garrett

Adam Schein / FOXSports.com

Jerry Jones hired Jason Garrett as the Cowboys' offensive coordinator before hiring a new head coach. Now it is clear that Bill Parcells' old job has been usurped of its power.

Heck, we knew this was true when Jones signed Terrell Owens against Bill Parcells' wishes.

Now, Parcells is gone, the ultimate distraction that is Owens stays, the team still has a vacancy sign hanging over the post for head coach, but there is a new, yet, old face running the offense.

How bout them Cowboys?

It isn't conventional in terms of the chronological order, but you do have to like the appointment of Garrett as the team's offensive coordinator. Some will say Garrett is young and hasn't really been a coach, but he has basically been coaching for the last 15 years as a savvy backup quarterback, including a sustained run with Troy Aikman in Dallas. Anyone who has ever encountered Garrett believes he will be a highly successful coach.

And Jones says Garrett is still a candidate for the head coaching job.

I think under this bizarre circumstance, the best case scenario is to hire Wade Phillips instead.

The Chargers' defensive coordinator is a wizard on his side of the ball. The San Diego players love him and play hard and brilliantly for him. And Phillips has been a successful head coach, going 48-39 during his stops. Phillips had the Bills headed in the right direction, leading them to a win-loss record that was ten games over .500 in three seasons. If it wasn't for a meddlesome owner in the Rob Johnson/Doug Flutie quarterback controversy or the Music City Miracle, Phillips could've guided the Bills to the Super Bowl.

Phillips would run the same 3-4 defense Parcells ran last year while Garrett would have full autonomy of the offense, mentor Tony Romo, kick Owens in the back side, and learn his craft to ultimately follow Phillips as head coach.

It actually makes some sense.

Then there's the other option.

Norv Turner.

I have never doubted Turner as an offensive genius or a quarterback tutor. He is responsible for Aikman's greatness. I praised the 49ers for hiring him as the team's offensive coordinator last year. And he did a great job with Alex Smith.

But Turner is 58-82-1 as a head coach. Now I know the circumstances were tough in Washington under Dan Snyder and working for Al Davis in Oakland. But his teams were disasters. And the players in Oakland constantly talked about the lack of leadership.

If you hire Turner, what exactly are you going to do with Garrett?

Who is going to run the defense?

So here's my advice to Jones — stay away from Norv, hire Wade, and be thankful that Garrett is coming home to deal with the headache you saddled the franchise with in Terrell Owens.

Coaching nuggets

1. The Giants made a nice hire by plucking Steve Spagnuolo from the division rival Eagles. He is well-respected, knows the division and was likely going to be Ron Rivera's coordinator if he got a head-coaching gig.

2. I love the fit for Jim Mora going to Seattle. He obviously loves that part of the country (as evidenced by his dubious radio interview during the regular season) and can aid a defense that underachieved this year. I think Mora is a good coach who deserves a second chance away from Mike Vick. He could replace Mike Holmgren when he retires.

3. Mike Shula is a good coach and Jacksonville picked a winner to coach its quarterbacks. But with Byron Leftwich a likely candidate to be traded, David Garrard underwhelming down the stretch, Quinn Gray raw, plus inconsistent receivers, and now a new offensive system, it might not be enough to revitalize the Jags offense and save Jack Del Rio.

4. Ken Whisenhunt is putting together a great staff in Arizona.

One AFC defensive coordinator believes a 4-3 defense could work in Dallas

One AFC defensive coordinator believes a 4-3 defense could work in Dallas.

"Give me a month with DeMarcus Ware, and he'll be Jason Taylor," the unnamed assistant said. Chris Canty and Jason Hatcher are 3-4 players but Marcus Spears could probably be an effective 4-3 defensive tackle. The right coaching would likely be able to make a 4-3 work in Dallas.
Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Jones' game plan right on the money

By Randy Galloway

What Jerry Jones wants:

Another Avery Johnson.

OK, wrong sport for Jerry, but same philosophy.

What Jerry desires, NFL-wise:

The next Sean Payton.

Didn't know exactly what he had when he had Payton, but neither did anyone else. Now he knows. And Jerry wants one of those.

Wants a sharp, young offensive mind with the personality of a head coach. Also, a guy who can take a quarterback with potential -- and Tony Romo is that -- then hone him and develop him.

There's a problem, however. Almost any NFL owner in the market for a head coach is at least exploring the same territory.

Those kind don't exactly ride into town on a load of kicking tees.

So here's what I now like about Jerry Jones' current coaching search, and put that down as a personal first when it comes to ever liking anything about a Jones coaching search.

The man has a plan. Or so it appears.

If by Monday, Norv Turner is the new head coach of the Cowboys, then everything fits.

If it's anyone else, however, get back to me.

Strange, for sure, the next head coach is really not Jones' long-range focus.

That distinction belongs to 40-year old Jason Garrett, who as of last week is the newest member of the Cowboys' coaching staff.

All Garrett needs is seasoning. All the other tools appear to be there, but his coaching experience at the moment consists of two years as the quarterbacks coach in the quarterback Death Valley known as Miami.

Turner may be the best offensive coordinator in the business, and without question he's the best at grooming a quarterback.

Head coach? Well, you know the record in Washington. Not outstanding, but not that bad. Oakland? Turner is still kicking himself for being stupid enough to take that job.

But one year after being fired by the Raiders, he landed across the bay with the 49ers. In just a season, quarterback Alex Smith went from hopeless as a rookie to much improved. And the San Francisco running game with Frank Gore suddenly jumped.

Turner is excellent at coordinating a passing and running game. For every Heath Shuler on his résumé, there are a half-dozen success stories.

Whatever Garrett's future as a head coach might be, he could not learn from anyone better than Turner.

The same goes for Romo.

OK, the next problem.

If Turner is the head coach, what does he do about that defensive collapse of December?

Got the answer right here: Dave Campo.

No, I'm not attempting to re-create the early '90s.

But Campo, who never had a prayer to succeed here as head coach, cannot be questioned as a defensive coordinator. He's currently the secondary coach with the Jaguars, loves the North Texas area and even plans to make this his permanent residence when he's finished coaching.

What, however, about the 3-4 philosophy the Cowboys now use on defense? Campo is a 4-3 guy.

Well, one great fallacy, according to NFL people I talked to last week, is that the Cowboys are married to the 3-4 due to personnel.

One respected AFC defensive coordinator cursed loudly when asked about it last week.

Cleaning up the comments, he said, "Give me a month with DeMarcus Ware, and he'll be Jason Taylor."


"That's the kind of talent the kid has," was the reply about Ware.

The Dolphins' Taylor was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2006. He's listed at 255 pounds but played around 240 and plays end in the 4-3. Ware is 255.

The only area of concern among coaches in the 3-4, 4-3 discussion was "some" of the Cowboys' linebackers. Of interest, not one had lost faith in safety Roy Williams, despite his coverage problems this season.

Turner, who interviews with Jones today, obviously will not have to sell his offensive expertise. He will, of course, have to have fresh ideas ready for Jones when it comes to defense.

"I am prepared in that area for everything Jerry wants to ask," said Turner, who is being offered a huge financial windfall by the 49ers if he takes his name out of the Cowboys' head coaching search. As of Saturday, Turner still planned on interviewing today, but it's not often that an assistant coach is so respected that his current team will attempt to entice him to turn down a head coaching job.

Ultimate respect, right there.

Turner is already a Jones favorite. So all the "personality" stuff is a moot point.

But Jones is certainly serious about his plans for Garrett. And the future of the Cowboys rides with Romo.

In both cases, Norv is the perfect fit for what Jerry wants.

At the moment, this is a puzzle where all the pieces also seem to fit.

But with Jerry involved , I think I'll give it a day or two in awaiting the decision. Better that than being totally puzzled Monday.

Turner won't fix what is broken

By Jennifer Floyd Engel
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Norv Turner is going to be named the head coach of the Cowboys on Monday.

Oh, nobody has officially announced this ho-hum news. Nor am I pretending to have an inside pipeline to Owner Jones' brain. It's just a hunch based on what has been happening at Valley Ranch.

Did I mention this is a mistake? On so many levels.

Norv is not a bad guy or a bad coach. Quite the opposite. He is actually a great offensive coordinator, exactly the kind of guy you want tutoring Tony Romo in what may be a defining season for him.

What is slightly confounding is why nobody seems to recognize this is exactly what already-hired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was touted for. If anything, Norv sounds like an older more scarred version of Garrett.

I mean, seriously, how many gurus does Romo need? And was anybody actually paying attention in December?

If an excess of experts, gurus and possibly faith healers are needed for any Cowboys, look at the 11-plus lost souls on defense. They were the group that absolutely cratered in crunch time, giving up an NFL-worst 152 points in December.

In the words of one Cowboys insider, "This defense is broken." Not irreparable but definitely broken -- in spirit, in scheme and in talent in a few areas.

In my world, a defense in shambles, plus Garrett already employed, equals a strong case for the Cowboys' next coach to be a defensive guy.

But my world is definitely not Jerry's. My perfect world actually has Owner Jones waiting post-Super Bowl to see if prying Lovie Smith from Chicago -- or at least stealing his defensive coordinator, Ron Rivera -- is a possibility.

Neither seems to have much of a chance, which is why Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is the next-best choice for Owner Jones.

Logic says, when your defense is "broken," you bring in the guy who ran your exact scheme, only better and with results, in San Diego. Especially when you realize Romo is the best thing this team has going at the moment.

Romo-mania needs to be tweaked, not saved.

This is not to say the NFL is not all about the quarterback. It is, but even the best QB going right now, Indy's Peyton Manning, needed defensive help to reach a Super Bowl. Chicago, of course, plays next Sunday almost solely because of its defense.

So, really, it does not matter if Turner, by his presence, molds Romo into Roger Staubach. The Cowboys are not going anywhere with this defense as presently constructed. And Norv is not the guy to handle the overhaul.

This is problematic because Norv is probably going to be the head coach, and nobody has any clue who will be the unlucky fool charged with cleaning up the mess on defense.

Does Norv stay with a Coach Parcells holdover like Todd Bowles or Paul Pasqualoni? Or does he go with somebody he knows like, say, Dave Campo? And is the decision even Norv's to make?

Owner Jones reasserted himself into coaching matters with the Garrett hire and is unlikely to fade quietly back to the spot he occupied during CP's tenure. If so, what he needs to realize is hiring Norv only solves half of the problem, the half that was not the Cowboys' biggest problem, the half that was supposedly fixed by Garrett, the half that is not "broken."

Hiring Norv just means Owner Jones has zero room for error when bringing in somebody to fix the other, uglier half.

Did I mention this is a mistake?

Insider: Listen Buddy, this guy isn't a typical Ryan

Dec. 21, 2006
By Pete Prisco
CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer

The father did it his way, an in-your-face approach that sometimes got under people's skin, including many of his own players. Buddy Ryan was brash, abrasive, rude and way too forthcoming with the media, but, man, could he coach defense.

Rex Ryan's defense holds opponents to an average of 13.8 ppg. (AP)

Ryan's "46 defense" dominated in the 1980s and early 1990s, both with the Chicago Bears as coordinator and with the Philadelphia Eagles as a head coach. The defensive style was a mirror of Ryan himself: Aggressive and loud -- and his teams backed down to nobody.

Rex Ryan, the son, is different. He still uses a lot of that same "46-defense" with the Baltimore Ravens, and, like his father, he's coaching the heck out of his unit. The Ravens are the top-ranked defense in the NFL, they back down to nobody, but Rex does it with a different approach than the old man.

"I'm completely different than that," Rex Ryan said. "I'm passionate about what I do, but he came from a different time, a different place. He was a master sergeant in the Korean War. He was leading 18-year-old kids into battle for their lives. That made him a little rougher than I am. I, fortunately, didn't have to grow up that way. I learned a lot from my dad's situation when he was a coach. I handle things differently. I'm proud of my father's accomplishments, but there are different ways of doing things."

Such as?

"I'm a little more tactful with the media," Rex Ryan said, laughing.

The Ryan name is synonymous with defense. In addition to Buddy and Rex, brother, Rob, is the defensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders and his defense is ranked fourth in the league, a stat that far exceeds what many expected of that unit.

But it is Rex Ryan that is the hot name now. With the Ravens playoff bound, and the defense the main reason why, he could be the next in a line of Baltimore defensive coordinators to leave to become head coaches. First, it was Marvin Lewis leaving to go to the Cincinnati Bengals and then it was Mike Nolan to the San Francisco 49ers.

Rex Ryan followed Nolan as coordinator, moving up from defensive line coach, and the defense is playing as good as it has since the 2000 unit set a record for points allowed in a 16-game season.

The defense is playing so well that Ryan's name is now beginning to get circulated throughout the league as a potential head coach candidate. Now he'll face the tough question: Will he be helped or hurt by being Buddy Ryan's son? Will the name scare some owners off?

If it does, they're making a mistake. Rex Ryan knows defense.

"I think now it helps that I have the same name," Rex Ryan said. "In the past, it might have hurt some. They think I'm the same kind of guy. But I'm not. Now they might just think that I know defense because I'm his son. If they talk to people, they know we're different."

Plus, Rex Ryan wrote the book on the 46 defense. Really, he did.

When he was the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma in 1998, Ryan co-wrote a coaching book titled Coaching Football's 46 Defense. You can still get a copy from Amazon for $14.96.

The 46 defense is an aggressive approach to playing defense. The basic premise is to pressure the quarterback with many different players coming from many different angles, the idea being to hit the quarterback as much as possible and make him throw as quickly as possible.

"My dad told me that Y.A. Tittle once told him that no matter how many guys you dropped into coverage, if he had time he would find a spot to throw to and complete a pass," Rex Ryan said. "He also said if he didn't have a whole lot of time to throw it, he'd have trouble. That's where my father came up with the idea to attack."

Buddy Ryan's 1985 and 1986 Chicago Bears played the defense to perfection, literally scaring the heck out of quarterbacks. The Ravens don't use the 46 as much -- which leaves a lot of zero coverage -- but more than the other 31 teams.

With a speedy and talented defense, it makes coordinating a lot easier. Rex Ryan has so many different looks he can give a team based on the players he has to work with.

In outside linebackers Adalius Thomas and Terrell Suggs, he has speed off the edge. In inside linebackers Ray Lewis and Bart Scott, he has speed and toughness. Safety Ed Reed and corner Chris McAlister are on their way to the Pro Bowl, while defensive end Trevor Pryce was a legitimate Pro Bowl candidate with 12 sacks.

The Ravens lead the league in total defense, giving up 265.8 yards per game. They are also tops in scoring defense, giving up 13.8 points per game.

"What I have to do is give them the opportunity where they can be successful," Ryan said. "This is team effort. It's not just about Rex Ryan. It's our players and out coaches. I'm blessed with having great assistants with me. They handle their stuff so well that it allows me my creative time. I have the trust factor with all my assistants that I let them do their jobs and it allows me the time to be creative."

Creative like letting Scott play the dime back. He runs well for a linebacker, but he doesn’t run like a defensive back. That's where Ryan gets creative.

"We send him more than we drop him, that's for sure," Ryan said.

Coaching is something both Ryan sons wanted to do since they were kids. They hung around their father's teams and both became football junkies.

"We wanted to know everything about the defense," Rex Ryan said. "Then we'd get him to quiz us."

Rex tells a story from his college days at Southwestern Oklahoma State to illustrate his passion for the game.

"I always loved personnel, and that made me a draftnik before it was cool to be one," Ryan said. "But the draft was on ESPN and we didn't have it in college. So we drove three hours to some Sears store and they were kind enough to let us sit and watch the whole draft. I still love the personnel side of things. It really interests me."

That's a good thing for any perspective owner to hear. You want a coach who's involved in personnel. Ryan loves talking about players on his team and on others, and he's sharp in his assessments.

Father and son talk several times during the week. The son will ask the father for advice against a certain offensive look. The father, who is caring for a wife battling Alzheimer's disease -- she's the boys' stepmother -- will eventually get back to the son.

"I bounce things off of him," Rex Ryan said. "I'll present him a problem and he’ll call me back with a solution. The terminology is different, but I know what he's talking about."

Like the father, the sons want to be head coaches. But Rex is quick to say it's not his main priority right now.

"I want to win a Super Bowl," he said. "That's our focus. That's my focus."

If the Ravens do, he will be on the lists of the teams looking for a head coach, moving closer to another Ryan defensive whiz being given a chance to run his own team. Only this one is not his old man.

Sure, he's a chip off the block, but the edges have been smoothed over, making him a much different man than his father. But make no mistake about it, like Buddy Ryan, Rex Ryan knows defense.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Mel "The Expert" Kiper Says...

With the 22nd pick in the NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys will select Robert Meachum, WR, Tennessee. This was aparently in his January 25th mock draft.

Offense could be a deal maker or breaker

The Contra Costa Times suggests that control over the offense could be a deal maker or breaker regarding the Cowboys' interest in Norv Turner.

Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips might be more likely to get the head-coaching job because Jerry Jones is so enthralled with what Jason Garrett can bring to the Cowboys' offense. Jones' unwillingness to stay out of football business could also wind up turning Norv off.
Source: Contra Costa Times

Discussion on ESPN Dallas

Dave Shore and Bryan Broaddus have been talking about the coach search. Some points:

-- They were there when Phillips talked to the media after his interview, and Shore especially got the feeling that Phillips thought it might not have gone that well. They seemed to think Wade thought he wouldn't get it. Broaddus said he sounded tired, and pointed out that Jerry has so much energy he can wear you our sometimes. But both said they don't know Wade, so maybe that's just his demeanor.

-- They said Rich Dalrymple said that the team would NOT wait until post-Super Bowl necessarily. Said that if they found their guy this week, they'd go ahead and make the hire.

-- Shore feels strongly that Norv is the man they already know they want, and the team is just waiting until after the Senior Bowl to formally interview and hire him.

-- Back to Wade, Broaddus says his defense is much more blitz oriented than Parcells' and his players always play very hard for him.

-- Then they had on the Chargers radio analyst Hank Bauer. He was extremely complimentary of Phillips. Said he's a great guy and the players really like him. Pointed out that Wade is laid-back enough that he might be a good fit here. Said he hates to lose, but that he doesn't get too high after wins or too low after losses, which might be a good trait for all the media scrutiny here.

-- Bauer said emphatically that Wade "is a great -- not a good, but a GREAT -- defensive coordinator". Said he's the best defensive coordinator he's been around in 30 years of playing and commenting on the game. Said he knows the 34 better than anybody, and his 34 would be very different from the Parcells 34 -- more like Pittsburgh's style. Said he loves to attack and blitz, not sit back and wait for the O to make mistakes.

-- Asked if WP was a good judge of talent, he said he wasn't sure, but thought he had input to Merriman and Castillo, two very good picks.

Todd Bowles is reportedly a "leading candidate" to be the team's next defensive coordinator

Cowboys defensive backs coach Todd Bowles is reportedly a "leading candidate" to be the team's next defensive coordinator.

This likely depends on whether Dallas decides to hire Wade Phillips as head coach. Phillips is interviewing Friday. If Phillips isn't picked, Bowles could run the defense under either Norv Torner or Jason Garrett.
Source: dallascowboys.com