Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Aikman 2009 Efficiency Ratings Through Week 3, 2009

BY Troy Aikman
On Wednesday 30th September 2009, @Troy_Aikman said:


Aik NFL Team AER
1 2 Ravens (a) 101.6
2 1 Saints (n) 98.1
3 3 Cowboys (n) 94.7
4 16 Jaguars (a) 86.0
5 22 Packers (n) 85.2
6 18 Vikings (n) 84.8
7 5 Patriots (a) 84.3
8 4 Colts (a) 83.0
9 24 Bengals (a) 81.9
10 6 Giants (n) 81.7
11 7 Eagles (n) 80.7
12 9 Broncos (a) 80.4
13 20T Jets (a) 79.7
14 28T 49ers (n) 78.5
15 15 Texans (a) 78.2
16 25 Buccaneers (n) 77.6
17 23 Falcons (n) 76.1
18 11 Titans (a) 74.6
19 19 Dolphins (a) 73.9
20 8 Chargers (a) 72.6
21 30 Chiefs (a) 71.6
22 17 Bills (a) 71.6
23 12 Steelers (a) 71.3
24 27 Lions (n) 70.9
25 10 Seahawks (n) 70.9
26 13 Redskins (n) 70.2
27 20T Bears (n) 68.6
28 14 Cardinals (n) 65.6
29 28T Rams (n) 63.1
30 31 Raiders (a) 61.9
31 26 Panthers (n) 57.6
32 32 Browns (a) 51.9

NFL Average 76.6


Aik NFL Team AER
1 1 Broncos (a) 104.4
2 10 Saints (n) 92.6
3 7 Ravens (a) 88.4
4 3 Jets (a) 87.6
5 13 49ers (n) 83.5
6 11 Seahawks (n) 82.4
7 5 Eagles (n) 82.0
8 4 Vikings (n) 81.8
9 9 Bears (n) 80.2
10 15 Redskins (n) 76.6
11 12 Colts (a) 75.6
12 23 Raiders (a) 75.2
13 8 Steelers (a) 74.9
14 18 Titans (a) 74.8
15 20 Cardinals (n) 74.7
16 17 Dolphins (a) 74.3
17 19 Packers (n) 74.3
18 6 Patriots (a) 74.0
19 2 Giants (n) 73.9
20 24 Falcons (n) 72.6
21 16 Bengals (a) 71.7
22 14 Chargers (a) 71.6
23 26 Cowboys (n) 71.1
24 25 Jaguars (a) 68.1
25 29 Rams (n) 66.5
26 27 Lions (n) 63.8
27 21T Panthers (n) 63.6
28 28 Bills (a) 61.8
29 31 Buccaneers (n) 58.5
30 30 Browns (a) 53.9
31 21T Chiefs (a) 52.8
32 32 Texans (a) 48.6

NFL Average 73.4

Ratings Courtesy of STATS, LLC

DMN.COM: Scandrick talks about decision to start Jenkins

By David Moore

Orlando Scandrick wants to start. But he was professional in discussing the Cowboys decision to go with Mike Jenkins as the starter at right corner.

"I mean, it's working,'' Scandrick said. "We won, so I'm all for it. I want to win.''

Wade Phillips said the different technique required playing outside at corner and inside at corner in the team's nickel and dime packages _ Scandrick's primary role _ proved to be more difficult for the young corner to handle than he originally thought.

Scandrick understands, but doesn't want to be defined as a corner who strictly covers the slot receiver _ no matter how good he is at that task. He will embrace his role and work hard to expand it going forward.

"No one wants to be pigeonholed as that's all you can do, and that's what the NFL is about,'' Scandrick said. "You start off at something, that's what you're labeled as, that's what you're known as your whole career.

"It's like anything. If you don't play it, you don't have a chance to get better at it. So if I'm not playing outside, I really won't be getting any work at it until OTA (Organized Team Activities). So now, that person (Jenkins) has the upper hand.

"Me, personally, I think it will be set in stone a little bit.'' Neck Injury Bothering DeMarcus Ware

Posted by nickeatman at 9/30/2009 2:40 PM CDT

It hasn’t prevented him from practicing but Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware has a neck strain that he suffered in Monday night’s game with the Panthers.

For precautionary reasons, Ware was wearing a neck brace before practice. However he was expected to have full participation for Wednesday’s practice.

Through three games, Ware has not recorded a sack - that after posting 20.0 sacks in 2008 to lead the entire NFL. Ware is tied with Jason Hatcher for the Cowboys’ lead with six quarterback pressures and he does have 19 tackles with one for loss.

The Cowboys are very thin at outside linebacker behind Ware and Anthony Spencer. The Cowboys have rookie Victor Butler, who had two sacks on the final drive against Carolina with a forced fumble, along with young veterans Steve Octavien and Curtis Johnson.

Redskins and Cowboys may be set to battle over Holmgren

By Mark Miller

Remember the days when Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, the highest-paid assistant coach in NFL history, was considered the clear heir to head coach Wade Phillips' throne?

Well, a new name has come into the picture that could push Garrett right out of contention: former Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren.
Holmgren wants to get back into the NFL next season and the word has been for a while that he'd love to be coaching the Washington Redskins. But the Cowboys may have interest in snagging Holmgren, too. Owner Jerry Jones isn't exactly known for backing down from getting what he wants.

The two teams are likely to both try and get Holmgren or Mike Shanahan to run things next season, according to ProFootballTalk.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

2009 NFL Point Spreads For Week 4

Week Four NFL Football Point Spread -
NFL Spreads 10/4 - 10/5, 2009

Date & Time Favorite Spread Underdog

10/4 1:00 ET At Houston -9 Oakland
10/4 1:00 ET Tennessee -3 At Jacksonville
10/4 1:00 ET At New England -2 Baltimore
10/4 1:00 ET Cincinnati -5.5 At Cleveland
10/4 1:00 ET NY Giants -8.5 At Kansas City
10/4 1:00 ET At Chicago -10.5 Detroit
10/4 1:00 ET At Washington -7 Tampa Bay
10/4 1:00 ET At Indianapolis -9 Seattle
10/4 4:05 ET At New Orleans -7 NY Jets
10/4 4:05 ET Buffalo -2 At Miami
10/4 4:15 ET At San Francisco -9.5 St. Louis
10/4 4:15 ET Dallas -3 At Denver
10/4 8:20 ET At Pittsburgh -6.5 San Diego

Monday Night Football Point Spread

10/5 8:35 ET At Minnesota -3.5 Green Bay

Dallas Wins - Loses 2 spots in ESPN Power Rankings

17 (15) Cowboys 2-1-0 Tashard Choice and Felix Jones prove the Cowboys can still have a running offense when Marion Barber is injured. (Clayton)

Link to rankings:

Player Update: Victor Butler, LB


The Star-Telegram reports that rookie linebacker is threatening to take Anthony Spencer's starting job.

Our View: Butler came up huge in Monday night's game as he picked up two sacks and forced a fumble against the Panthers. Considering the defense entered the game without a sack or forced turnover, the performance undoubtedly caught the attention of linebackers coach Reggie Herring and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

Player Update: Felix Jones, RB


ESPN Dallas reports that Felix Jones will be unable to go this Sunday against the Broncos as he battles a strained knee.

Our View: A bad break for Jones, who rushed for 94 yards on just eight carries in the Cowboys win over the Panthers on Monday night. With starter Marion Barber also ailing, Tashard Choice may be the feature back for the Cowboys in Denver.

Monday, September 28, 2009

PFT: Jerry Jones remains committed to Wade Phillips... per ESPN

Posted by Mike Florio on September 28, 2009 7:08 AM ET

Though Cowboys coach Jerry Jones has in the past committed to certain courses of action that he eventually didn't follow, Jones has consistently stood behind his current head coach, Wade Phillips.

And Jones continues to do so, in a SportsCenter interview with ESPN's Michele Tafoya, who is in Dallas for Monday night's game at the North Texas Football Cathedral.

"I've never thought about not having him as our coach," Jones said regarding Phillips. "He certainly is the man for the job relative to our defense."

(Of course, this implies that he's not the man for the job relative to the Dallas offense, and that maybe Phillips and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett are Dunder Mifflin style co-managers of the team.)

Tafoya also asked whether Phillips, whose contract expires after the season, would remain for 2010.

"I have an option, number one, and don't discuss certainly at this time of the year our coaches' contract, especially the head coach's contract," Jones said. "I'd like for him to win his first Super Bowl as a head coach as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and that might take more years than this year to do it."

The first part of that answer means that Jones can extend the deal into 2010, if he so chooses. The rest of the answer implies that he'll exercise that right.

As to the notion that Garrett might be the successor to Phillips, Jones smiled and said, "Well, he certainly is in the family portrait." (So much for those offseason rumors that Jones was hoping Garrett would get a head-coaching job elsewhere.)

All that said, Jones might feel entirely differently after the current campaign, if the end result is another one-and-done postseason or, even worse, no postseason at all.

For now, we'll tuck Jones' words away and compare them in January to what ultimately transpires. As Expected, Barber Officially Out Tonight

Posted by nickeatman at 9/28/2009 6:07 PM CDT on

By the time the Cowboys’ PR department had the list of game-day inactive players, it was little surprise that running back Marion Barber would be included.

As expected, Barber’s left quad strain, that he suffered last week against the Giants and has kept him limited in practice all week, will prevent him from playing Monday night against Carolina.

Taking Barber’s spot in the lineup would be Curtis Johnson, who has been inactive in each of the first two regular-season games. Johnson, a converted outside linebacker, not only has special teams experience last year with the Colts, but could provide a little depth as a situational pass rusher, too.

Cowboys Inactives:
QB Stephen McGee (3rd quarterback)

RB Marion Barber

S Mike Hamlin

LB Jason Williams

G Montrae Holland

G/C Duke Preston

OT Pat McQuistan

WR Kevin Ogletree

Panthers Inactives:
QB A.J. Feely (3rd quarterback)

LB Na’il Diggs

FB Brad Hoover

S Chris Harris

DE Everett Brown

RB Tyrell Sutton

G Duke Robinson

T Garry Williams

Sunday, September 27, 2009

ESPN Mosley: Garrett Better Get His Money's Worth

Posted by's Matt Mosley

In the aftermath of the Cowboys' 13-3 season in 2007, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was one of the hottest coaches on the market. He reportedly could've had the top jobs in Atlanta and Baltimore, but Cowboys owner Jerry Jones paid him $3 million to stay at Valley Ranch.

Based on the '08 season, you'd have to say that both sides made a mistake. In one season, Garrett went from boy genius to a punching dummy for quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Terrell Owens. Early in the season, Garrett inexplicably kept home-run threat Felix Jones on ice in a loss to Washington, in part, because he was seemingly so busy trying to appease T.O.

In 2007, Garrett leaned on offensive line coach Tony Sparano, who had been the playcaller under Bill Parcells in '06. Sparano left to become head coach with the Dolphins following the '07 season and Garrett was on his own. He had the misfortune of losing Romo for three games midway through the season, which forced famed check-down artist Brad Johnson into action.

I don't think most people know how angry Jones was as he watched Johnson flail around for those three games -- and most of that anger was aimed at Garrett, who had convinced him that the team was set at the backup spot.

When the Cowboys ended the season with a humiliating 44-6 loss to the Eagles, Romo pointed the finger squarely at Garrett -- and he wasn't the only one. I still believe that Jones would've fired both Wade Phillips and Garrett if not for the fact that he may have ended up paying them a combined $6 million to sit out the '09 season. Yes, it sounds ridiculous to say that a man who coughed up roughly $700 million of his own money to build a new stadium would quibble over $6 million, but I think that's exactly what happened. He delivered a message of continuity in the wake of the Eagles loss, but quite honestly there really wasn't anything worth continuing.

But for now, Garrett has a chance to restore the shine to his once-promising future. By all accounts, he and Romo are back on the same page, although the quarterback's three interceptions last Sunday certainly raised some questions. I personally think the Cowboys' success or failure on offense hinges on whether Garrett's willing to commit to the running game. With Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, the Cowboys have one of the most talented groups in the league. Barber and Jones combined for more than 250 yards against the Giants' formidable front seven. But even as the Cowboys' massive offensive line was taking over the game late in the third quarter, Garrett couldn't help himself.

With a first-and-10 at the Giants' 46-yard line and a 24-20 lead, he called a pass play. Romo somehow missed seeing safety Kenny Phillips over the top and delivered an easy interception. As he blew through town for a charity event Thursday, former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson told an 103.3 FM ESPN audience that Garrett had to learn how to "back off" Romo at times against elite teams. Johnson's theory is that Romo will put up huge numbers against the Bucs and Chiefs of the league, but he needs to be reined in against teams such as the Giants and Eagles.

That's the biggest rub on Garrett. For all his innovative ideas, he hasn't been able to take the team's most important player to the next level. You'll recall that Jones was deciding between Phillips and former Cowboys offensive coordinator Norv Turner when Bill Parcells left town. In terms of first-round picks, Jones had invested heavily on defense, so he went with Phillips.

Obviously, Turner would've been the better choice for Romo. He helped launch Troy Aikman's Hall of Fame career and he seems to be doing a pretty fair job with Philip Rivers in San Diego. And not to keep bringing up a bad memory, but Brad Johnson once threw for 4,000 yards, 24 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions under the tutelage of Turner in Washington.

Jones passed on Turner because he thought he'd found a younger version of him in Garrett. What we've now realized is that Romo still had Parcells' voice ringing in his ears in '07 via Sparano. Romo's so immensely talented that we're not able to see him as a bus-driver quarterback. But last Sunday night, that's all the Cowboys needed. Someone who would hand the ball to Barber or Jones and not make mistakes. That didn't happen -- and Garrett has to receive some of the blame.

There are some encouraging signs, though, that Garrett's moving toward a more balanced approach. In the 13 games that Romo started last season, only twice did he attempt fewer than 30 passes. He's yet to have 30 attempts through two games in '09. The Cowboys ran the ball 42.3 percent of the time last season, which makes absolutely no sense -- especially when you factor in the three games that Romo missed. Even in the two full games that Johnson played, Garrett had him attempt a combined 67 passes. I realize that Felix Jones went down with an injury in Week 6 and that Barber was banged up in December -- but 42.3 percent is a West Coast offense number. Now that the Cowboys are running at least 60 percent of their plays out of a two-tight end package -- they call it "12" -- maybe there will be more balance.

I think Garrett still has an opportunity to be a head coach in this league, but his window could shut in a hurry. If the Cowboys don't win at least one playoff game this season, I think Garrett and Phillips will both be gone. Unfortunately for both of them, some of the most talented head coaches in the league are sitting this season out. And at least two of them -- Mike Shanahan and Mike Holmgren -- have close ties to Jerry Jones.

The Cowboys owner will continue to vouch for Romo because he wrote him a check for $30 million two seasons ago. Garrett's in a much different situation. If he can't get through to Romo this season, Jones will find someone who can.

Unfortunately for Garrett, Jones has a few more options than he did in January 2007.

A Quote By Tom Landry That I Think Describes This Team

Originally Posted by Hostile from a sports forum:

"When you want to win a game, you have to teach. When you lose a game, you have to learn."

It seems simple, but it is anything but. It is still beyond vital. If the Cowboys staff want to win a game they need to know the film. They need to spot the tendencies. They need to break down how to prepare on both sides of the ball. They have to teach this team.

If the Cowboys want to avoid future losses like Sunday Night, it falls on all of them, staff included to learn from that game. It isn't just the QB who has to improve their output and performance from last week. Every single player, even the ones who played well, has to do the same.

A man I really respect once told a story about going to an oxen pulling contest in New Hampshire. There was a cart loaded with 10,000 pounds and the oxen teams had to pull it 3 feet. If they did it, they added more weight.

A pair of big brindle oxen were the easy favorites to win this competition. They were huge, muscled, and sinewed. That team didn't even budge the load.

The pair that won it was a much smaller non-descript pair of oxen. When an old New Englander was asked to explain how the smaller, unmatched pair of oxen could move that load and the big matched pair could not he explained that the difference was in how the teams hit the yoke.

The big pair of oxen would hit the yoke with glancing blows. One ox would hit the yoke and force was expended in a glancing blow. When the other ox would hit the yoke the force was simply to add more torque. The load would not move.

But the small pair hit the yoke at the same time and the energy was spent forward. The load moved.

Now you're probably asking what this story has to do with the Cowboys. Simple, this team has to pull together. There has to be equal parts teaching and learning. They have to hit the yoke equal.

Tom Landry was so wise.

Jimmy Johnson was at Valley Ranch

Originally posted by Daboys7 from a sports forum:

Just herd Jimmy Johnson on ESPN said that he was at valley ranch for a couple of hours talking to some of the coaches and especially Jason Garrett. He was talking to Garrett for about an hour or so on how to handle Romo.

He said Romo is a very good qb it's just how you have to handle him.
ie...when he plays in big games make the game plan very simple and keep the reigns on him. When he plays against teams with much less talent than allow him to do a little bit of gun slinging to get it out of his system, he says you dont want to hold him back in every game just against weak teams... It's sounds good to me. The Jimmster is still workin it! I just hope Garrett listen to this valuable advice, again it sounds really good to me.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

2009 NFL Point Spreads For Week 3

Week Three NFL Football Point Spread - NFL Spreads 9/27 - 9/28, 2009

Date & Time Favorite Spread Underdog

9/27 1:00 ET At NY Jets -2.5 Tennessee
9/27 1:00 ET At Houston -4 Jacksonville
9/27 1:00 ET At Philadelphia -8 Kansas City
9/27 1:00 ET At Baltimore -13.5 Cleveland
9/27 1:00 ET NY Giants -6.5 At Tampa Bay
9/27 1:00 ET Washington -6.5 At Detroit
9/27 1:00 ET Green Bay -6.5 At St. Louis
9/27 1:00 ET At Minnesota -7 San Francisco
9/27 1:00 ET At New England -4.5 Atlanta
9/27 4:05 ET Chicago -2.5 At Seattle
9/27 4:05 ET New Orleans -6 At Buffalo
9/27 4:15 ET At San Diego -6 Miami
9/27 4:15 ET Pittsburgh -3.5 At Cincinnati
9/27 4:15 ET Denver -1.5 At Oakland
9/27 8:20 ET At Arizona -2.5 Indianapolis

Monday Night Football Point Spread

9/28 8:35 ET At Dallas -8.5 Carolina

Jerry Jones says he expects Romo to win a Super Bowl


Jerry Jones hasn’t lost faith in Tony Romo after last week’s performance. In fact, the Dallas Cowboys owner said he still believes Romo will be the quarterback to lead the franchise to its sixth Super Bowl title.

“Some day, he will have the greatest day of all,” Jones said during a news conference at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington on Friday. “I do [think he will win a Super Bowl]. I feel like that will happen. It is in no small part due to his skill level, because of his ability to come back from adversity, because of his hard work. That will be one of the big reasons we get it done.”

Romo talked to the local media Friday at Valley Ranch, again taking the blame for Sunday’s 33-31 loss to the New York Giants in the regular-season debut of Cowboys Stadium.

He threw for only 127 yards, with three interceptions and one touchdown. His 29.6 passer rating was the second-worst of his 43-game career -- including the postseason -- as a starter.

Romo’s three interceptions led to 21 of the Giants’ points, including rookie cornerback Bruce Johnson’s 34-yard return for a touchdown in the first quarter. After making 21 turnovers each of the past two seasons, Romo worked hard in the off-season on preventing turnovers with better decision-making and better ball security, especially outside the pocket.

“The whole idea is to do it less throughout a season,” said Romo, who has not fumbled this season. “I would love to go through the season without any turnovers. This whole thing will be written a lot easier in six games from now when you’re like, ‘OK, he either has 21 turnovers or he has five,’ and you’re going to be like, ‘You know what? He has done a good job at that sort of thing.’ As of right now, obviously, you can only be whatever is that you can be after two games, and that’s obviously not a good feeling.”

NFL teams have a 24-hour rule, meaning they celebrate a victory for only 24 hours or bemoan a loss for that long. Romo, though, said the Giants’ loss took longer to get over.

“This was more of the 48-hour rule,” said Romo, who has thrown four touchdowns, three interceptions and has an 82.4 passer rating for the season. “But that’s this game. You care so much about it.”

Jimmy Johnson talks about Tony Romo

Who loves you, Tony Romo? The Jimster, for one

McClatchy Newspapers

In these desperate football times, when the heavy clouds of quarterback doubt swirl, when the Tony Romo bandwagon is now orange-stickered in a ditch out there on Texas I-30, and with only my man Babe Laufenberg standing on the shoulder, still trying to wave down a friendly face . . .

The logical question is always this:


Just wondering. What Would Jimster Do?

The answer came Thursday in a phone call to the Florida Keys. And for a former head coach who treated turnover-prone players as if they were Taliban, Jimmy Johnson surprised me. No, actually, he shocked me.

"I watched the Giants game," Jimmy said. "Like everyone else, I couldn't believe what I was seeing there a couple of times with Tony.

"But if I were still coaching today, I'd want Tony Romo to be my quarterback. I know everybody is down on him right now, but I am 100 percent sure he can be a big winner in this league.

"Absolutely no doubt in my mind you can win what you want to win with Tony. He'd be my quarterback."

After three picks like the other night, and those being a major factor in a loss, Romo might also be a dead quarterback if Jimmy were coaching him.

But it's by far the nicest evaluation anybody even remotely connected with the NFL has had this week about Romo. Coming from Jimmy, who would have thunk it?

Actually, Johnson was working Thursday on a Romo sermon to be delivered Sunday morning from the Fox pulpit on the popular NFL pregame show. And on his way Thursday to the California studios, he will be a local visitor, stopping over in Grand Prairie, Texas, for a charity fundraiser.

Just a thought, but Jerry needs to make a call, and since Johnson is in town anyway, ask him to stop by Valley Ranch for a private come-to-Jimmy meeting with Romo.
The what-to-do-about Romo question currently looms very large.


"First, this has nothing to do with his talent," Johnson said. "Tony has the talent. More talent, I'd argue, than Eli Manning. But who was the best quarterback Sunday night?

"Since we know it's not about ability, obviously it's about confidence. And I'll hear a hundred 00 people jump up and say, 'Hey, Tony is the most confident guy in the world.' Yes, but he's so confident, he takes unnecessary risks. That gets you and him beat."

Jimmy also added more on that Romo Mojo thing, and the "confidence factor:"

"There are different degrees involved when you talk about that," he said. "Why is Tony gangbusters in the games you know you can win, and then does what he does in the bigger games against tougher teams? Is that really confidence? Can he sink the 8-ball when the money is on the table?"

Obviously, Jimmy doesn't buy the gunslinger mentality bringing down Romo, or that he's a talented tease who will never overcome his small-college breeding. Both are very popular local theories at the moment.

"What I see is a quarterback who is pressing when the spotlight is bigger," Johnson said.

What sounded to me like a serious indictment - Romo chokes - Jimmy's answer was, "No, not at all."

Johnson said if he were coaching Romo, he'd have a 1-2-3 plan.

(1) He is well-prepared. "From what I hear," said Jimmy, "that's not an issue. Tony will work."

(2) Pull back the game plan against stronger opponents. Don't put the game in Romo's hands. "And I don't mean he needs to be a bus driver. He doesn't need to be Trent Dilfer," added Johnson. (Actually, I thought he was talking bus driver.)

(3) The bigger the game, the simpler the game plan. "That's not just about the quarterback, that's overall," said Jimmy. "People used to tell me, the bigger the game, the more wrinkles you add. No, the bigger the game, the simpler you get.

"The wrinkles are for the teams you know you can beat, so you can take a chance in those. The big games are about the team that makes he fewer mistakes. So keep it simple."

The bottom line from Johnson is that, since Tony doesn't have success in big games, for now give him fewer responsibilities.

Jimmy: "That can only work if you have a good team, and I think the Cowboys are talented enough to be called a good team. But how many times, like against the Giants, do they beat themselves?

"Let Tony start winning some of these spotlight games, or a playoff game, and you will see his confidence build. That's only natural. Once that happens, you've got something, because you've got a talent there. But first, I'd lighten his load in the game plan."

And that's not a bus driver, right?

"No, Tony is a Corvette quarterback," said Jimmy. "But for now, he needs to be driving the speed limit against certain teams. There's a lot of engine there, but stay off the gas pedal. Then up ahead (against weaker teams), when there's an open stretch of highway, you can get down on it.

"I know Tony has got a lot of fans frustrated, but the kind of quarterback who frustrates me is the talented guy who won't change or won't listen. I think Tony will do what you ask him to do. He's a team guy first. So I'd tell him what I want him to do.

"That's why I said he could be my quarterback. I'd take him right now. I believe Tony is going to be a winner."

In these dark times, a brief message of hope. Now we know. WWJD?

Player Update: Marion Barber, RB


Marion Barber, RB Friday 9/25, 9:19 AM CT

ESPN's Matt Mosley says he would "be a little surprised" if the Cowboys tried to play Marion Barber (quad) on Monday night against the Panthers.

Our View: He says if it were a playoff game Barber would be much more likely to fight through his quad injury, but that since it is only Week 3, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice will probably have to suffice for the Cowboys.

Player Update: Felix Jones, RB


Felix Jones, RB Friday 9/25, 9:22 AM CT

ESPN's Matt Mosley says Felix Jones will be in line for 20 or so carries this Monday against the Panthers if Marion Barber (quad) is unable to go.

Our View: It has already been reported that Jones would get more than the seven carries he had in Week 2 even if Barber were to play, so 20 in his absence sounds about right. The Panthers have allowed an astronomical 168 rushing yards per game so far in 2009, so he could have a very productive night.

Player Update: Tashard Choice, RB


Tashard Choice, RB Friday 9/25, 9:26 AM CT

Tashard Choice is will likely get "at least" ten carries in Week 3 if Marion Barber (quad) is unable to go at running back for the Cowboys, according to Matt Mosley of ESPN.

Our View: Even though Felix Jones will get the start if Barber can't play, Choice could have a big night with ten or so carries against the Panthers' leaky run defense, which has allowed 336 rushing yards in just two games in 2009.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Player Update: Roy Williams, WR


Roy Williams says he is frustrated with his role so far in the Cowboys offense this season, according to the Charlotte Observer.

Our View: So are his fantasy owners. He had just one catch for 18 yards in the Cowboys' Week 2 loss to the Giants after reeling in three balls for 86 yards and a score in Week 1. Four catches in two weeks aren't numbers befitting of a number on receiver, and if the Cowboys don't start throwing more to him in the coming weeks, he won't be much more than an ordinary WR2 or solid WR3.

Player Update: Felix Jones, RB


Felix Jones is in line to get more carries this Sunday than the seven he had in Week 2, even if regular feature back Marion Barber (quad) is able to go, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Our View: He reeled off 96 yards on those measly seven carries, so more touches will almost certainly be the case when Dallas hosts Carolina.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Aikman's 2009 Efficiency Ratings through week 2

On Tuesday 22nd September 2009, @Troy_Aikman said:

Aikman Efficiency Ratings through week 2:


Aik NFL Team AER
1 3 Ravens (a) 104.9
2 1 Saints (n) 102.7
3 2 Cowboys (n) 101.4
4 4 Buccaneers (n) 93.2
5 27 Vikings (n) 88.6
6 12 Colts (a) 84.0
7 13 Jets (a) 82.5
8 8 Broncos (a) 82.2
9 26 49ers (n) 82.0
10 21 Bengals (a) 81.8
11 9 Patriots (a) 80.9
12 14 Bills (a) 80.3
13 18 Falcons (n) 79.8
14 17 Dolphins (a) 79.6
15 15 Cardinals (n) 79.5
16 28 Packers (n) 76.6
17 7 Titans (a) 76.3
18 23 Texans (a) 76.2
19 11 Seahawks (n) 75.3
20 5 Chargers (a) 74.5
21 24 Jaguars (a) 74.3
22 10 Eagles (n) 73.8
23 29 Raiders (a) 73.5
24 6 Giants (n) 71.7
25 25 Chiefs (a) 71.1
26 19 Redskins (n) 68.6
27 20 Bears (n) 66.5
28 16 Steelers (a) 66.3
29 30 Lions (n) 61.4
30 22 Panthers (n) 58.2
31 32 Browns (a) 57.6
32 31 Rams (n) 54.5

NFL Average 77.5


Aik NFL Team AER
1 2 Broncos (a) 98.3
2 1 Jets (a) 94.4
3 21 Saints (n) 90.2
4 12 Seahawks (n) 89.3
5 7 49ers (n) 85.3
6 10 Redskins (n) 84.7
7 4 Vikings (n) 82.7
8 8 Eagles (n) 82.4
9 17 Ravens (a) 78.8
10 22 Falcons (n) 78.6
11 9 Steelers (a) 78.1
12 6 Cardinals (n) 77.8
13 23 Raiders (a) 77.0
14 29 Rams (n) 76.3
15 5 Bears (n) 75.9
16 19 Packers (n) 75.3
17 26 Titans (a) 75.0
18 11 Bengals (a) 72.5
19 3 Patriots (a) 71.2
20 14 Dolphins (a) 70.1
21 24 Jaguars (a) 69.1
22 20 Chargers (a) 65.1
23 31 Buccaneers (n) 63.6
24 28 Bills (a) 63.4
25 15 Panthers (n) 62.3
26 16 Giants (n) 60.6
27 30 Cowboys (n) 60.6
28 13 Colts (a) 59.4
29 27 Lions (n) 58.8
30 25 Browns (a) 54.9
31 32 Texans (a) 53.0
32 18 Chiefs (a) 52.3

NFL Average 72.5

Biggs: Jerry rushes to Romo's defense

by Brad Biggs

It’s not difficult to imagine how one critic, Terrell Owens, would have reviewed opening night at Jerry Jones’ football palace.

He would have been slinging barbs at Tony Romo by now. But in the new T.O.-less world the Cowboys dwell in, it was Jones who came to the defense of the quarterback Tuesday on his radio show. Romo’s three interceptions in the 33-31 loss to the New York Giants led directly to three touchdowns. He was terrible, completing just 13-of-29 passes. He had a 29.6 passer rating in front of 105,121 fans, a record crowd at Dallas Cowboys Stadium for a regular-season game.

All of this after Romo vowed during the summer that his focus was solely on football, and he would make a more concerted effort to protect the football. What Jones is holding on to, according to Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News, is the belief that Romo will bounce back. History tells him he has done that before, and what better team to rebound against than the sagging Carolina Panthers (0-2), who have been beset by injuries. Romo and the Cowboys will be back on the bright stage, moving from NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” to ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.’’

“You'd like for him not to have a day like that,” Jones said on KRLD-FM, “but when everybody is pointing fingers, when it didn't go good, then you want someone who can walk into that huddle in the next snap at practice, the next snap in the ballgame and walk out there and cut and shoot and play like they just won the Super Bowl. That's a great quarterback.

“I had a tough time in some areas not being overly critical because I was mad. Normally, apart from it being a home game, you don't get that down from a game like we played Sunday.’’

Running game is the answer for Cowboys

by Matt Bowen

Is anyone surprised that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is standing behind his quarterback — even after that same quarterback crashed his open house party Sunday night at Cowboys Stadium?

I would have to agree with anyone who pointed the finger at Tony Romo after Dallas lost 33-31 on a last-second field goal to the Giants in the late hours of Sunday night. His turnovers cost them points on the scoreboard.

Instead of Romo being the quarterback who tied a nice little bow around Jones’ new stadium, it was Eli Manning of the Giants, who threw for 330 yards and two touchdowns while leading his team down the field with ease to set up the winning kick.

Romo, on the other hand, had to watch from the sideline with his three interceptions and a week of media scrutiny ahead of him while his team fell to 1-1.

Suddenly, the sky was falling in Dallas, just like it was in places like Green Bay, Pittsburgh and New England — three cities that don’t deal with losing very well on Mondays.

And that’s why Jones came to his rescue. Not because he believes that Romo will respond, but because the owner has a lot of pull in the organization — and the last thing you want to do is take away that last bit of confidence after a performance like Romo had Sunday night.

However, even with Jones standing behind his high-priced quarterback, the issues in Dallas after two weeks go a lot deeper than just the quarterback position.

This Cowboys defense, as good as it was at getting to the quarterback in 2008, is suddenly, well, invisible. Through two weeks of the ’09 season, the Cowboys defense has yet to notch a single sack and is giving up more than 430 yards a game. And the turnover ratio in Dallas — thanks to Romo’s game Sunday and the lack of playmaking ability of this defense — is currently sitting at minus-4.

Think of the game film from Sunday night and what Eli did to that secondary. Not only did he have time to throw against a defense that’s known as one of the best at attacking the quarterback, he also exploited the secondary with receivers who were supposed to be the Giants’ downfall. He attacked the middle of the field and had success when he put the ball down the field in the vertical passing game.

That game film will go to every team in the league, and you can bet the Cowboys’ opponents are seeing the same things we are. Because this defense was supposed to be the answer, even if Romo had an off night. Yes, they did contain Giants RB Brandon Jacobs, but as we could see, that wasn’t the New York game plan.

The Giants thought they could win with Manning and his arm, and with Steve Smith and Mario Mannigham. And it worked.

Because the Dallas defense allowed it to.

The Cowboys, from my vantage point, can run the football as well as anyone in the league, and for them to be successful this season, it’s going to have to be the answer when they prepare for Sundays. Control the clock and put Romo in position where he’s facing eight defenders in the box with open windows to throw to versus the now one-on-one matchups he has on the outside.

Sure, the ‘Boys will need Romo to step up in some way during the season, but with the backfield talent they have in Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, this isn’t a team that needs to get creative down the field to win games.

I agree it will be hard for Jones to watch his money at the quarterback position hand off all game long, but that’s what will win in Dallas this season — and a defense that finds a way to make plays on the quarterback and when the ball is in the air.

Then Jones can stand behind the entire team.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Aikman 2009 Efficiency Ratings Week 1:

On Thursday 17th September 2009,
@Troy_Aikman said:


Aik NFL Team AER

1 2 Ravens (a) 114.8
2 5 Buccaneers (n) 104.2
3 1 Saints (n) 102.5
4 3T Cowboys (n) 100.3
5 15 Vikings (n) 96.8
6 7 Patriots (a) 95.1
7 3T Jets (a) 93.3
8 20 Bills (a) 90.5
9 23 Eagles (n) 87.3
10 6 Seahawks (n) 86.7
11 14 Chargers (a) 79.7
12 30 Chiefs (a) 79.1
13 21 Redskins (n) 77.7
14 27 Jaguars (a) 75.8
15 8 Raiders (a) 74.6
16 29 49ers (n) 72.3
17 17 Broncos (a) 72.1
18 9 Colts (a) 70.1
19 28 Packers (n) 69.9
20 19 Falcons (n) 69.8
21 22 Browns (a) 69.2
22 18 Cardinals (n) 67.6
23 12 Giants (n) 63.6
24 16 Bengals (a) 59.3
25 13 Titans (a) 57.2
26 26 Lions (n) 56.8
27 10 Steelers (a) 53.8
28 31 Texans (a) 53.6
29 24 Dolphins (a) 52.8
30 11 Bears (n) 47.2
31 25 Rams (n) 39.1
32 32 Panthers (n) 29.7

NFL Average 74.7


Aik NFL Team AER

1 1 Eagles (n) 120.3
2 8 Seahawks (n) 110.9
3 22 Packers (n) 102.8
4 9 Falcons (n) 97.2
5 2 Jets (a) 96.4
6 23 Titans (a) 96.2
7 7 Saints (n) 93.2
8 20 Steelers (a) 92.8
9 17 Broncos (a) 90.7
10 21 Redskins (n) 86.4
11 15 49ers (n) 82.4
12 11 Vikings (n) 80.8
13 14 Dolphins (a) 80.2
14 5 Bears (n) 80.1
15 24 Jaguars (a) 79.9
16 16 Bengals (a) 77.9
17 4 Cardinals (n) 77.7
18 25 Chargers (a) 75.4
19 6 Colts (a) 74.2
20 12 Giants (n) 72.3
21 3 Ravens (a) 70.9
22 19 Raiders (a) 70.3
23 27 Rams (n) 63.3
24 10 Panthers (n) 62.7
25 13 Patriots (a) 59.5
26 29T Texans (a) 56.7
27 26 Bills (a) 54.9
28 18 Browns (a) 53.2
29 29T Buccaneers (n) 49.7
30 32 Lions (n) 47.5
31 28 Cowboys (n) 45.8
32 31 Chiefs (a) 35.2

NFL Average 75.3

Ratings Courtesy of STATS, LLC

Friday, September 18, 2009

Phillips Blog: Roy Has Two Goals On Sunday Night

Posted by rphillips at 9/16/2009 6:20 PM CDT

Roy Williams is a Texas guy. Grew up in Odessa, played for Permian (the high school powerhouse made famous by "Friday Night Lights" and starred at U.T. He understands the significance of Sunday night's inaugural regular-season home opener at Cowboys Stadium.

That said, Williams has two goals:

"I want to be the one to have the first first down in that stadium and be the first one to score a touchdown," he said. "I usually give my ball and my gloves away, but I think I'm going to keep those if I'm the first one."

Williams admittedly gets more animated after some first downs than he does on touchdown celebrations. The first regular-season first down in Cowboys Stadium history would be significant enough to warrant a big salute.

FWST Blog: Jordin Sparks to sing national anthem at inaugural game at Cowboys Stadium

By Clarence E. Hill Jr.

Jordin Sparks will sing the national anthem Sunday for the inaugural game at the new Cowboys Stadium.

Sparks won the sixth season of American Idol and is the daughter for former
Cowboys player Phillipi Sparks.

Player Update: Felix Jones, RB


Felix Jones (quad/thigh) was not limited in practice on Thursday, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Our View: He is good-to-go for the first ever regular season game at Cowboys Stadium. With the energy likely to be incredibly high, the elusive Jones is that much more likely to reel off a big play. Don't forget that he is still just a change of pace back for Marion Barber, however.

Player Update: Gerald Sensabaugh, S


Gerald Sensabaugh (ribs) will play in the Cowboys' Week 2 game against the Buccaneers, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Our View: After recording 70 tackles and four interceptions for the Jaguars last season, Sensabaugh had eight tackles in his Cowboys debut last weekend. He is a decent play in IDP leagues.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Giants-Cowboys: Breaking Down the Sunday Night Showdown

by Doug Rush

This may be the most anticipated game of NFL week two.

The Giants are 1-0 and coming off a 23-17 win against the Washington Redskins last week.

The Cowboys are also 1-0 after a 34-21 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1.

Both teams looked impressive during their wins. On Sunday night, the two NFC East rivals will rumble in Arlington, where the Cowboys will unveil the brand-new Cowboys Stadium on NBC's "Sunday Night Football."

How does each unit fare against each other? Let's take a look.

Giants Offense vs. Cowboys Defense

On Sunday, the Giants showed they can use a balanced attack when it comes to passing the ball.

Eli Manning distributed the ball to seven different receivers. Steve Smith made tremendous catches in traffic and looks to be Manning's most dependable receiver. Tight end Kevin Boss has become a great weapon for Manning as has wide receiver Mario Manningham.

The running game must do a better job in short-yardage situations with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.

The Cowboys pressure the pass well with DeMarcus Ware, one of the best defensive players in the NFL.

The Dallas secondary might be where the Giants can take advantage down field. So as long as the Giants offensive line stays healthy and keeps Manning off his back, the quarterback will have a chance to pick apart the Cowboys secondary.

Giants Defense vs. Cowboys Offense

The Cowboys were able to use a similar passing attack on Sunday as they did last season, but without Terrell Owens demanding the football.

Tony Romo was able to get the ball to Jason Witten, Roy Williams, and Patrick Crayton effectively. The Giants will most likely be without Aaron Ross at cornerback and need Kevin Dockery healthy in order to cover the Cowboys receivers.

The Cowboys running game is similar to the Giants, with power back Marion Barber and speedy complimentary back Felix Jones. The backs did a decent job last Sunday, but weren't overly impressive.

The Cowboys must protect Romo. The Giants defense was impressive against the Redskins. Their pass rush, bookended by Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, is perhaps the best in the NFL. Up the middle, Chris Canty showed his value on the line and the Giants will get back linebacker Michael Boley.

Who has the edge on Sunday?

The Giants and Cowboys are very similar.

Both play receivers by committee and, to the benefit of the quarterbacks, no longer rely on Plaxico Burress and Terrell Owens.

Both successfully use two types of running backs.

Both defenses put pressure on the opponent's quarterback, forcing costly mistakes.

So what's the difference?

The Giants have a slight advantage because of their pressure-packed pass rush that wreaks just a bit more havoc. The Cowboys have Ware, but the Giants have Tuck, Umenyiora, Mathias Kiwanuka and Canty. The more the merrier.

Final Score Prediction?

I'm going with an upset. It's risky, especially since it's a road game for the Giants, but I think it's worth it. I'm picking the Giants to step up on the big stage and ruin the Dallas' homecoming party by knocking off the Cowboys 28-24.

Cowboys report: Strategy and personnel

Source: The Sports Xchange


--RB Felix Jones practiced Wednesday and will have no limitations despite a thigh bruise that sidelined him in the second half last week.

--QB Tony Romo has been nominated for the Fed Ex Offensive Player of the Week following his career high 353 yards and three touchdowns against the Buccaneers. He also had no problems with his sprained right ankle in practice on Wednesday and will be good to go for Sunday's showdown against the Giants.

--LB Curtis Johnson has returned to practice and could play Sunday after missing the opener with a hamstring pull. He needs to work on his conditioning.

--SS Gerald Sensabaugh was fined $5,000 for a horse-collar tackle Sunday at Tampa Bay when he dragged down running back Carnell Williams from behind in the first half of the 34-21 win. It was an up and down day for Sensabaugh, who blocked a field goal, nullified an interception with a penalty and suffered bruised ribs.

--WR Roy Williams said the difference with the Cowboys offense from this year to last year is that he is no longer in left field.

"It's the same offense, moving guys around," Williams said. "Except for myself. I stayed in left field. But, now, I'm a part of that. I get to play shortstop."

The Cowboys must stop the run first and foremost and force Eli Manning and his inexperienced receiver corps into long passing situations. Offensively, they must protect quarterback Tony Romo against the best defensive line in the game.

Giants RB Brandon Jacobs vs. Cowboys run defense. The Cowboys gave up 174 yards rushing last week and must bone up against the run if they are to contain Jacobs and the Giants. Jacobs is a powerful downhill runner. To have a chance against him, defenses have to string him out and get him running sideways. That will be the charge of ILBs Bradie James and Keith Brooking, who combined for 23 tackles last week.

Cowboys OT Flozell Adams vs. Giants DE Osi Umenyiora. Adams will have his hands full on Sunday. Don't let the Pro Bowls fool you. He is a declining player and really struggled last season. Umenyiora showed on Sunday that he is back from the injury that sidelined him last season and ready to reclaim his place among the league's best defenders. He had a sack and forced fumble that he returned for a touchdown against the Giants. Adams will have to keep him off of quarterback Tony Romo if the Cowboys are to have any success.

LB Jason Williams is out of his walking boot but is still out another two to three weeks with a sprained ankle. SS Mike Hamlin is out another four weeks with a fractured wrist

BTB: The VRR: Trash Talk Heating up Between Cowboys and Giants

By Aaron Novinger on Sep 16, 2009

Brandon Jacobs already said that Jerry Jones and the Cowboys should have scheduled the Detroit Lions to open up Cowboys Stadium.

While walking out of Giants Stadium after New York downed Washington on Sunday, Jacobs suggested to an reporter that the Cowboys scheduled the wrong team for their home opener.

"They should’ve put Detroit in there instead of us," Jacobs said.

Now, after catching wind of DeMarcus Ware's comments posted here yesterday by Mike Fisher, Jacobs continues his quest to out-mouth each of the Giants' upcoming opponents.

The Star-Ledger's Mike Garafolo interviewed Jacobs. The Giant running back apparently took Ware's comments seriously and upped the ante on the hate between the two teams.

In news that doesn't quite rank up there with "Man Bites Dog," DeMarcus Ware hates the Giants.

Oh, hey, whaddaya know? Brandon Jacobs hates the Cowboys.

Tuesday, during our first in a series of weekly interviews for SNY, I asked Jacobs about Ware's comments (he's only the latest in a long line of players on either side to use the "H" word when talking about the other team) and if the feelings were mutual.

"No question," he replied. "I hate the Cowboys with a bloody passion."

I asked him what the difference between a "regular passion" and a "bloody passion" was.

"You want to go into the game as being assassins," he said, referring to the feelings of bloody passion, "instead of tough football players in a game like that."

More VRR after the jump.

Matt Mosely took notice of Fisher's story and Garafolo's interview and had this to say:

Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware went on the "All-Pro Show" on 103.3 FM ESPN in Dallas on Monday and said he "hated" the New York Giants. He then told Blogging the Boys essentially the same thing. And as Mike Fisher pointed out, Ware delivered his message in his usual good-natured way.

In his article on how Chris Canty won't talk trash on the Cowboys, Newsday's Tom Rock also used Ware's quote. Although he didn't link its source, he did get Canty's rather neutered reaction.

"It's going to be good going down to Dallas," he said.

No chirping, no predictions, no trash talk. Not even the usual free use of the word "hate" that so often floats between locker rooms before these games (DeMarcus Ware was quoted Tuesday: "I hate those New York Giants"). It was very un-Cowboy-like of him.

Perhaps the transformation is complete. Talk, as they say in these parts, is cheap.

"I don't want you guys to read into something that's really not there," Canty said about any lingering feelings he might have toward Dallas.

Okay, enough with the trash talk. The big question in many of our minds has to be: Why did the Cowboys' defense have problems stopping the run on Sunday? Tom Orsborn points to an aggressive gameplan that Coach Phillips adjusted at halftime.

It called for plenty of blitzes and defensive line stunts, maneuvers that often left gaping holes for the Bucs. Tampa Bay had five plays of 20 or more yards, including runs of 35 and 22.

"I thought we would make some plays in the backfield by being aggressive," Phillips said. "The longer runs they hit on us, we didn't hit the right gaps and basically gave it to them."

When the Cowboys returned to their base defense in the second half, things settled down. The Bucs' Cadillac Williams gained just 20 yards in the final 30 minutes after tallying 77 before halftime.

"Sometimes you use movement up front to confuse the offensive line, sometimes you use it to create more plays for losses in the backfield, and sometimes that works out for you as a high-risk reward situation," defensive end Marcus Spears said. "Yesterday, those rewards weren't coming like we wanted them to, so we went back to our base. Instead of trying to get a 2-yard loss, you stop them for a 1-yard gain. You give up something to gain something."

The Cowboys may need to bring a top-notch running game of their own if they expect to beat the Giants. Check out how well they fare against wide receivers.

The Giants have not allowed an opposing receiver to gain 100 yards in 12 consecutive games, the second-longest active streak in the NFL. (Washington has gone 14 games without allowing a 100-yard receiver.) In the Cowboys’ two games against the Giants last season, Patrick Crayton was the team’s leading receiver at Giants Stadium with four catches for 46 yards and running back Tashard Choice led in the game at Texas Stadium with four receptions for 52 yards.

Hopefully, Miles Austin is one guy who can help break open the game, like he did against the Buccaneers. He's been known as a playmaker even before he came to the Cowboys.

His knack for big plays isn't anything new, either. There are plenty to pick from his college career -- he graduated from Monmouth as the school's leader in catches, receiving yards and touchdown catches -- but one of his finest was a Hail Mary play during his junior season. Called the "Big Ben," Austin leaped above a pack of players in the end zone and tipped the ball into the hands of a teammate for the game-winning score over Robert Morris.

Bob Sturn breaks down Jason Garrett's offense: how he lines up his weapons, and what he does with those alignments.

Hat tip to Musiccitynorm for the link.

Sunday night's game at Cowboys Stadium will be the first of three successive road games for the Giants. After Dallas, they go to Tampa Bay, then to Kansas City.

KVUE News did their scouting report for the Giants @ Cowboys matchups. New York's defensive line sure looked impressive against the 'Skins.

The Giants suited up eight defensive linemen in the opener against Washington and used them all, limiting the Redskins to 85 yards rushing while collecting three sacks. Six defensive linemen registered tackles, and Tuck and Umenyiora managed sacks. Most NFL offenses do not rotate offensive linemen, so New York's goal is to throw wave after wave of fresh bodies and fresh legs at blockers, wearing them down during the course of the game. The Giants try to run offensive linemen ragged with different players and different looks.

Here's what Gerald Sensabaugh had to say about his big hit on Bucs' WR Michael Clayton.

"I think it's a disadvantage," Sensabaugh said of the rule banning hits to the head. "A lot of rules are changing because of offensive players. A TE probably has 40 or 50 pounds on you. You can't hit him square every time. You have to hit him low or high, but high is out of the game. I guess you can hit him low, but I think that will cause some injuries too just trying to hit a guy really low when he's not looking. A surprise hit if you hit him low, you can end a guy's career doing that.

CBS SportsLine: NFL Power Rankings (Week 1)

Source: CBS SportsLine
Posted on: September 15, 2009 5:07 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2009 9:10 pm

1) Steelers(2) (1-0) - It wasn't the most impressive win, but the Defending Champs got the job done.
2) Giants(3) (1-0) - Perhaps the best looking team in Week 1, have a bigger test next week against Dallas.
3) Eagles(4) (1-0) - Everything went right for the defense, but McNabb's injury is certainly a concern for next week against the Saints.
4) Patriots(1) (1-0) - Captain Brady got them the win, but an early wake-up call in New England.
5) Vikings(5) (1-0) - Adrian Peterson does his thing as Brett Favre starts to emerge as the leader once again.
6) Falcons(7) (1-0) - The defense looked better then expected, and Matt Ryan continues to shine with new target Tony Gonzalez.
7) Saints(8) (1-0) - Whenever you put up 45 points, you did something right.
8) Chargers(6) (1-0) - Closer then expected, but a dramatic win to start out the season.
9) Colts(9) (1-0) - Reggie Wayne had to win it all by himself this week.
10) Packers(12) (1-0) - It's only been one week, but the 3-4 seems to be working in Green Bay.
11) Ravens(13) (1-0) - Flacco continues to make strides, business as usual for the defense.
12) Titans(14) (0-1) - A tough loss to start the year, but the defense played well and kept them in the game.
13) Jets(15) (1-0) - Sanchez was phenominal in his NFL debut. This team will continue to suprise people.
14) Cowboys(23) (1-0) - No TO. No problem. Roy Willaims and Patrick Crayton both put in big performances in Week 1.
15) Seahawks(19) (1-0) - Didn't have to try to hard against St. Louis, but this team already looks better then last year,
16) Texans(11) (0-1) - Struggled the whole game against the suprising Jets. This team has to pick it up to avoid another 8-8 season.
17) Bears(16) (0-1) - Not the debut Cutler and Chicago was hoping for. Then it all got worse with Urlacher's injury.r
18) 49ers(22) (1-0) - A good divisional win, but there have so be some quetions about the run game of a run first team.
19) Panthers(10) (0-1) - There's apparently a job opening for a quarterback position in Carolina.
20) Bills(25) (0-1) - Trent Edwards looked sharped, and almost beat Tom Brady and the Patriots.
21) Redskins(17) (0-1) - The offense can't seem to score enough points to win.
22) Cardinals(21) (0-1) - The offense looked out of sync, this is not the same team that won the NFC Championship last year.
23) Raiders(24) (0-1) - Looked pretty good at home against San Diego, almost got the upset.
24) Bengals(18) (0-1) - They basically had that thing won..., but still didn't play a very good game.
25) Buccaneers(26) (0-1) - The secondary got killed all day, but the offense was a huge positive.
26) Dolphins(20) (0-1) - Continuing the struggles on offense in Miami.
27) Chiefs(27) (0-1) - Brodie Croyle filled in well for Cassel, if only they could get their run game together.
28) Broncos(30) (1-0) - They managed to pull out a BS win, so I guess that's something.
29) Browns(29) (0-1) - The good news is Brady Quinn out performed Delhomme and Cutler.
30) Lions(31) (0-1) - The defense got ripped to shreds against New Orleans, but they did put up 27 points.
31) Jaguars(28) (0-1) - Not a lot going well for this team right now.
32) Rams(32) (0-1) - The only team not to score any points last week.

Cowboys' defense plays poorly in opener, but Phillips expects players to snap out of funk


IRVING, Texas (AP) — Bradie James and Ken Hamlin were so upset with the way the Dallas Cowboys' defense played in the opener against Tampa Bay that they had trouble sleeping.

Keith Brooking was so angry that he showed up to work early Monday and watched the game film by himself to get a head-start on cleaning up the problems, many of which were self-inflicted.

"It wasn't anything they were doing to us," Brooking said. "We just have to be more disciplined."

Instead of lining up in their base defense and daring the Buccaneers to beat them, the Cowboys came out trying to force big plays — and wound up preventing themselves from making the routine ones.

Tampa Bay ran right through some gaping holes, piling up the yards while keeping the score tight most of the first half. Then Dallas went back to basics and slowed the Buccaneers long enough for Tony Romo and the offense to send the Cowboys rolling toward a 34-21 victory.

Winning made the defensive lapses easier to tolerate. Still, veterans like James, Hamlin and Brooking realize Dallas got away with one this time.

Consider: Dallas allowed 450 yards, its most in 36 games and the most the Cowboys gave up and still won in 52 games, according to STATS Inc. They didn't have a sack, despite having led the league last season. They didn't have a turnover, despite lots of extra work this summer to create more fumbles and interceptions. And, perhaps most damning, it all came against an offense breaking in a new quarterback and a coordinator on the job only 10 days.

In his first game since adding defensive coordinator duties to his role as head coach, Wade Phillips opened the game with a lot of movement and shifting by defensive linemen and by calling a lot of run blitzes. He didn't want to merely stop the Bucs, he wanted to slam them.

"We wanted to be aggressive," Phillips said.

But the plan backfired.

Sometimes it was because the plays were poorly executed. Sometimes it was because the Bucs' offense called the perfect play to beat it. And, sometimes, both things happened.

Byron Leftwich, Cadillac Williams and the Bucs went 60 yards in nine plays on their first series, then had a field goal try blocked. They were even better on their next drive, covering 78 yards in 11 plays to score a touchdown and go ahead.

"We were like, 'Wow, what's going on?'" James said.

After Tampa Bay covered 34 yards on its next drive, James and Brooking realized something had to change.

"Bradie and Keith, veteran linebackers, they notice things real fast, and as soon as we got to the sideline they were letting the coaches know, 'Listen, we just need to line up head-to-head,'" defensive lineman Marcus Spears said. "And when we made that adjustment it was a good thing for us."

The Bucs had just two first downs on their next five series. The Cowboys came out of that stretch leading 20-7.

"We just played ball and we were able to kind of control the run again," James said. "We made the plays when it counted."

Although this is a new season, some of these concerns aren't all that new.

In the final two games of last season, Dallas allowed 265 yards rushing and 388 total yards in a loss against Baltimore, then allowed 137 yards rushing and 303 total yards in a loss at Philadelphia.

Tampa Bay kept the trend going with 174 yards rushing. And, up next, the Cowboys will have to face the New York Giants and a running game led by burly back Brandon Jacobs.

James is looking forward to the challenge — and the lack of surprises. After all, Jacobs and the Giants are familiar foes so, unlike the Bucs, they have a better idea of what is coming and how to stop it.

"We won't reinvent the wheel," James said. "We've just got to go out and play good defense, corral and populate the ball. ... This is a copycat league. I'm sure they will try to do a couple of things the Bucs did. But the Giants are the Giants. They're going to do what they know how to do, and they're going to do it real well. It's up to us to match their intensity and outplay them."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

CNN NFL Power Rankings, Week 2

Boys @ #15

OK, Cowboys fans. I can hear you hollering already about a middle-of-the-pack ranking after such an impressive offensive display in the opener at Tampa Bay. Patience, patience. I'm headed to Dallas this week for the grudge match against the Giants on Sunday night, and let's see how Tony Romo and the passing game fares against a defense that doesn't have safeties running in molasses like the Bucs. Win this one and you'll make a big move. Promise.

DMN Blog: Felix Jones practicing

By Tim MacMahon/Blogger

Felix Jones is among the Cowboys practicing at Southlake Carroll's
indoor facility, where giggling schoolgirls are peaking through a gate
and cooing at Tony Romo.

The Cowboys have stretched and worked on punt team and field goals, so
Jones hasn't tested his bruised thigh yet.

SS Gerald Sensabaugh (rib) is also practicing. So is OLB Curtis
Johnson, who had been sidelined by a hamstring injury since being
claimed off waivers last month.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Biggs: Romo fine, should practice Wednesday

By Brad Biggs

The Dallas Cowboys are relieved that Tony Romo should be able to take the practice field on Wednesday when the team returns to work in preparation for the grand regular-season opening of Jerry Jones’ new palace in Arlington, Texas, Sunday night.

Romo had his sprained right ankle thoroughly examined Monday, and everything checked out fine following an MRI. That’s a good thing because while Terrell Owens left Foxboro, Mass., Monday night having caught just two passes and with no interest in speaking with reporters, Romo passed for a career-high 353 yards in Dallas’ season-opening victory Sunday at Tampa Bay.

No T.O. meant no problem for the Cowboys, not in Week 1 any way. Romo still has plenty of big-play threats and Jason Garrett’s sometimes maligned offense clicked. There was an 80-yard touchdown to Patrick Crayton and a 66-yard touchdown pass to Roy Williams, nice signs that the offense remains lively, but probably also an indication of issues that will plague the Bucs all season.

Romo and the Cowboys get a good test with the NFC East rival New York Giants visiting. Romo missed the first meeting with the Giants last season with a broken finger, and Dallas was steam rolled 35-14.

Player Update: Tony Romo, QB


Chris Mortensen of ESPN tweeted that Tony Romo is fine and good to go for Week 2 against the rival Giants.

Our View: The Dallas Morning News also stated last night that Romo will be fine after suffering an ankle injury in the season opener at Tampa Bay. He fired two touchdown passes in his last meeting with the Giants in Week 15 of 2008.

Player Update: Felix Jones, RB


Felix Jones will be limited in practice this week as he deals with a bruised quad, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Our View: Well that didn't take long. Jones played in just six games as a rookie last season because of injury, and despite his tremendous upside, doesn't have much fantasy value until he proves he can stay healthy.

BTB Fisher: Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware: 'I Hate Those New York Giants!'

by Mike Fisher on Sep 15, 2009 11:00 AM CDT

DeMarcus Ware seems nothing like Shawne Merriman, the roid'y, sack-dancing, nightclubbing NFL Draft classmate with whom he is often compared. "No Tila Tequila for me,'' Ware jokes.

DeMarcus Ware seems nothing like Greg Ellis, the perpetually disgruntled former Cowboys teammate who he has effectively replaced. "I don't really pay attention to how he's doing in Oakland,'' Ware says pleasantly. "I'm more focused on what Anthony Spencer is doing.''

DeMarcus Ware seems nothing like Charles Haley, the fearsomely imbalanced Dallas legend who used to piss off (and on) people while wearing No. 94. When I inform Ware that women I know universally respond to seeing him by saying things like, "I'd just like to pinch his cheeks!'' ... Ware giggles innocently.

But if you want to experience just a bit of edginess and darkness with the Dallas Cowboys best player, do what I did. Ask him about this Sunday's opponent.

"I hate those New York Giants!'' Ware says.

There is so much about the personable DeMarcus Ware that is sunshine and lollipops, roses and rainbows. His view on the sometimes seedy relationships NFL players involve themselves in? "I'm married,'' he says. "Her name is Taniqua. She is the love of my life. She and (daughter) Marley, those are my baby girls.''

So, I say, there will be no internet vixens for you, eh?

"Yeah,'' Ware laughs, "I've told Taniqua to be careful with that internet.''

Ware has a kinder, gentler approach to finances, too. Well aware that Dallas fans are desirous of their Ware jerseys, but might be on a budget, he's set up, where he's selling Ed Hardy-style T-shirts with DeMarcus-style themes. "Those jerseys can be like $180, and the Ed Hardy shirts can be almost as much, so we decided to do some shirts that are right about $30,'' says Ware, who is wearing one of his own designs. "Pretty stylish, huh?''

(Of course, one of these days, Ware will be upped from his present $1-million salary with an extension that might just make him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. At which time he can afford to be even more stylish.)

And he is self-effacing in so many ways. He's lousy at Madden, can't play ping-pong, would be happy to shoot a 95 in golf, and is a little bit embarrassed by his defense's Week 1 performance in Tampa Bay, in which the Cowboys won 34-21 despite allowing 450 yards while recording no sacks and no turnovers.

Of course, maybe some of that was a result of Ware absorbing an early-game concussion.

"They basically give you a sobriety test,'' Ware says of the trainers' handling of him on the sidelines in Tampa. "You get memory loss. Even now, I'm afraid I'm going to forget my car keys.''

There is one thing Ware and the Cowboys cannot forget, however - and it probably explains why DeMarcus Ware hates the New York Giants: It was only 20 months ago when the Cowboys were at home, in the playoffs, a 10-point favorite, hosting the Giants, a seeming Super Bowl lock ... and it all went sour.

In the ensuing year-and-a-half, the Cowboys have battled questions while the Giants have become a "model franchise'' with a Super Bowl title as the proof.

While the Cowboys have experienced ups and downs, it's all been ups for the 27-year-old Ware. In his four seasons, the former first-round pick has recorded eight, 11.5, 14 and last year, 20 sacks. No player has ever officially recorded back-to-back 20-sack seasons. It's a goal, but ...

None of that, of course, compares to what his buddy Osi Umenyiora and the Giants have done.

Ware continues to be best friends with former Auburn High School and Troy teammate Umenyiora and knows that there will be plenty of time before and after Sunday night's home opener at Cowboys Stadium to be cordial, to be the DeMarcus Ware who isn't a Merriman, who isn't an Ellis, who isn't a Haley, who is worthy of having his cheeks pinched.

But for three hours on Sunday night? He says it to me one more time:

"I do,'' Ware says. "I hate those New York Giants!''

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dallas-Giants: Position by Position

Originally posted by wildcats9 from a sports forum:


QB: Edge Dallas
RB: Slight Edge Dallas
WR/TE: Big Edge Dallas
Oline: Edge Giants

Dline: Big Edge Giants
LB's: Edge Dallas
DB's: Even

Special teams: Edge Dallas

Giants Running Game Vs Dallas Run Defesnse: Based on the Tampa game you have to give the edge to the giants. Tampa however, is very good on the interior of their line. Both Jeff Faine and Davin Joseph are pro bowl type players. Dallas needs to tackle much better this week or it will be a long game. Edge: Giants

Giants Pass Game vs Dallas Pass defense: The giants recievers suck, nicks is out for sunday. Steve smith and manningham dont scare me along with Boss. The secondary needs to stop mental mistakes and not play so soft. Also, expect Ware to play better and harass Eli. Edge: Dallas

Dallas run game Vs. Giants run defense: Match up that will decide the game here i think. If Dallas can run the ball it will slow down the pass rush and make the play action game more effective, not to mention tire the giants defense. If the giants control this aspect of the game. Romo will be forced to throw exculsivley and the pass rush can really get after it. Edge: Toss up

Dallas Pass game Vs Giants Pass Defense: Match up problems galore here, this is the giants weak part of their defense. Witten and Bennett are match up nightmares for the giants. Ross is out this week so the secondary is weakened even more. This is a big edge for Dallas if Romo has time, the Giants need to pressure romo in order to negate the big advantage Dallas has in the passing game. RW looked good yesterday, slimmed down and quicker.

This is a game that will say alot about the Cowboys, the giants do not have big play potential in their offesne. Dallas needs to avoid mental breakdowns defensively and tackle much, much better than last week.

Prediction: Dallas 24 Giants:17

2009 NFL Point Spreads For Week 2

Week Two NFL Football Point Spread - NFL Spreads 9/20 - 9/21, 2009

Date & Time Favorite Spread Underdog
9/20 1:00 ET At Kansas City -3.5 Oakland
9/20 1:00 ET At Tennessee -7 Houston
9/20 1:00 ET New England -6.5 At NY Jets
9/20 1:00 ET At Green Bay -9 Cincinnati
9/20 1:00 ET Minnesota -10 At Detroit
9/20 1:00 ET At Philadelphia -1.5 New Orleans
9/20 1:00 ET At Atlanta -6 Carolina
9/20 1:00 ET At Washington -10 St. Louis
9/20 1:00 ET At Jacksonville -3.5 Arizona
9/20 4:05 ET At San Francisco -1.5 Seattle
9/20 4:05 ET At Buffalo -4 Tampa Bay
9/20 4:15 ET At Denver -3 Cleveland
9/20 4:15 ET At San Diego -5 Baltimore
9/20 4:15 ET Pittsburgh -3 At Chicago
9/20 8:20 ET At Dallas -3 NY Giants

Monday Night Football Point Spread

9/21 8:35 ET Indianapolis -3 At Miami

DMN Chat: Felix suffered thigh bruise in game

[Comment From Guest]
where was felix jones and Bennett yesterday, i thought they were going to be a main focus. I still don't think they are getting Felix enough touches.

David Moore: As Derrick mentioned earlier in the chat, Bennett had a bigger impact than his one reception indicates because of the match-up issues he created. He did mis-fire with Romo on a potential touchdown. Bennett joked about that with Romo after the game, telling him if you have Shaquille O'Neal on the break, do you want to give him a bounce pass or a lob?

Jones had only six carries Sunday and failed to catch a pass. He was a bigger part of the Cowboys game plan, but he suffered a thigh bruise early in the game and it limited his effectiveness. Some of those third downs that put Tashard Choice on the field were designed for Jones.

DMN Blog: Wade Phillips doesn't think Tony Romo's injury is serious

By Tim MacMahon/Blogger

There was enough concern about Tony Romo's right ankle to schedule more tests for today.

But Wade Phillips didn't get the results of those tests before his afternoon press conference. Phillips said nobody had indicated to him that Romo's injury is serious, but he didn't have many details. Romo did not need crutches.
Romo suffered the injury during the third quarter and didn't miss a play. It sounds unlikely that the ankle will prevent him from playing Sunday night against the Giants.

However, the injury could have a negative effect on Romo's conditioning. He mentioned during minicamp that he wasn't able to maintain his conditioning last season in part because of a broken pinky finger and ankle and back injuries. Romo considers cardio work and squats to be important parts of his in-season conditioning regimen.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Player Update: Tony Romo, QB


Tony Romo completed 16-of-27 passes for 353 yards with three touchdowns against no interceptions in the Week 1 victory over Tampa Bay.

Our View: Romo committed no turnovers and connected on three long touchdown passes to Miles Austin (42 yards), Roy Williams (66 yards) and Patrick Crayton (80 yards). Who needs T.O.?

Quarterback Tony Romo reportedly injured his ankle in the Week 1 victory over Tampa Bay.

Our View: Romo will undergo tests Monday to determine the extent of the injury. Stay tuned.

Player Update: Roy Williams, WR and Patrick Crayton, WR


Roy Williams, WR Sunday 9/13, 3:48 PM CT

Wide receiver Roy Williams caught four passes for 86 yards and a 66-yard touchdown in the Week 1 victory over Tampa Bay.

Our View: Williams, who has been one of most scrutinized wideouts during the offseason, gets off to a good start in his new role as Tony Romo's go-to guy in the Cowboys receiver corps.

Patrick Crayton, WR Sunday 9/13, 3:45 PM CT

Wide receiver Patrick Crayton reeled in four receptions for 135 yards and one touchdown in the Week 1 win over Tampa Bay.

Our View: The Cowboys passing game was in rare form, and Crayton led the way with an 80-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. Things will likely get tougher next week with the New York Giants coming to town.

Cowboys prove their O can flourish without T.O.

By Pete Prisco Senior Writer

TAMPA -- It was the most-asked rhyme in Dallas the past six months: How would the Cowboys offense go without T.O.?

Now we know.
They'll be A--No T.O --K.

The Cowboys came to Tampa's Raymond James Stadium with loads of questions about their passing game, mainly about who would step up without Terrell Owens, the bombastic and combative receiver the team let go last February.

The better question is who didn't step up Sunday.

Quarterback Tony Romo passed for a career-high 353 yards and three touchdowns as the Cowboys beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-21 and silenced a lot of doubters in the process.

Romo hit seven receivers and threw touchdown passes of 42 yards to Miles Austin, 66 yards to Roy Williams and 80 yards to Patrick Crayton.

• Cowboys 34, Buccaneers 21

"We have the most talented offensive team in the league," receiver Roy Williams said. "And it showed today."

That's up for debate, but there is plenty of talent. It starts with Romo. He seemed to play as if he wanted to send a message Sunday, a loud one.

Yes, he will be fine without Owens -- and without that Hollywood starlet he dumped this summer.

Asked about his thoughts on his career-best day, Romo was his typical modest self.

"Good," he said. He laughed. "You don't think about yards. You're not judged by yards."

In his case, he's judged by playoff victories, or lack of one. He's been a prolific passer since taking over as the Cowboys starter three years ago, but without a postseason victory and the team's December swoon last season, Romo entered this season as one of the most-scrutinized quarterbacks in the league.

The Cowboys coaches say he did what you'd expect from a self-made player to help stop that. He went to work.

"Nobody worked harder," Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said.

As long as Romo is playing like he did against the Bucs, it might not matter what they do at the receiver spot. He was outstanding, completing 16 of 27 passes and had a passer rating of 140.5.

But more than the numbers, it was the way he got them. Take the 80-yard touchdown toss to Crayton.

I'll call that the check-and-improvise play.

Leading 20-14 early in the fourth quarter, thanks to a Tampa Bay score two plays before his touchdown, Romo faced a second-and-9 at his 20. He looked outside and checked to a play that had Crayton running a slant and tight end Jason Witten running an out.

But when the safety and the corner jumped the routes, Romo sidestepped pressure in the pocket, pumped them both into statues and Crayton took off deep. Romo found him in stride for the big play of the game.

"Fantasy points," Crayton joked after.

The Romo-Owens rift was said to be a major influence on last year's team. With Owens gone, Romo appears more relaxed. There are no force-the-ball issues to a squawking receiver. It's a spread-it-around offense, one that featured big plays against Tampa Bay.

"Career-high passing yards?" Williams said. "Without Terrell Owens?"

Williams was one of few players who would even mention the name. But he and Owens are friendly. He told me this summer Owens taught him a lot.

He also told me he would make people believe he was every bit as good as Owens. Williams and the entire receiving group has come under great scrutiny the past six months. They've heard all the talk about whether they have enough talent. They've even become a little defensive about it.

Make that a lot defensive.

"Yeah, we are," Williams said.

Wouldn't you be if all you heard was that you couldn't get it done? Watching Williams, Crayton and Austin play against Tampa Bay, you'd never have guessed that there were any questions about them.

"We haven't answered anything yet," Crayton said. "It's the same question that you guys will be asking next week. It's just step one."

The Cowboys didn't show much of a big-play offense in the preseason, which led to even more doubts.

"I think everybody was wondering whether we would get the ball downfield, whether it was going to be a dink-and-dunk offense, and it's not," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said.

Williams, who might be the most scrutinized of all the Cowboys offensive players, seemed to bask in the offense's first-game success, including his three catches for 86 yards and the score.

"You guys don't have a clue what I can do," Williams said.

Hey, he's a poet, too. And he's a big reason why the Cowboys need not worry about the most talked about rhyme in Dallas.

The offense can still go without T.O.

Romo connects on three long touchdowns as Cowboys race past Bucs wire reports

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys figure they'll be fine without Terrell Owens.

Surrounded by a talented supporting cast that includes Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin and Jason Witten -- not to mention Marion Barber and Felix Jones -- it's easy to understand why.

Romo launched the post-T.O. era Sunday with a career-best 353 yards passing, including three long touchdowns that keyed a 34-21 victory and ruined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' debut under coach Raheem Morris.

"Career-high passing yards? Without T.O.?," Williams asked, laughing before turning serious.

"No, it's good. It's good for him. It's good for this team," Owens' replacement added. "It was a team effort. Everybody contributed."

Austin avoided two tacklers on the sideline to score on a 42-yard reception just before halftime and Williams streaked through a mistake-prone secondary on a 66-yard TD play early in the third quarter.

Romo teamed with Patrick Crayton, who had four catches for 135 yards, on the longest completion of the quarterback's career -- 80 yards -- for a fourth-quarter TD that thwarted any realistic hopes for a Tampa Bay comeback.

"They are playmakers, and we knew that going in," coach Wade Phillips said. "But until you do it, the naysayers are going to say: `Hey. You don't have this or that.' But I think we do."

Tampa Bay's Byron Leftwich completed 25 of 41 passes for 276 yards and no interceptions, but took a beating from a relentless pass rush once Romo put the Cowboys in control.

Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward each scored on 1-yard runs for the Bucs, who rushed for 174 yards but eventually had to abandon the running game.

"Obviously, we're disappointed," said Morris, who at 33 is the NFL's youngest head coach. "But there were a lot of good things on offense."

Cadillac Williams, back after having knee surgery twice in 15 months, finished with 97 yards on 13 carries. Ward ran for 62 yards on 12 attempts and was the catalyst on a long second-half drive that briefly put the Bucs back in the game.

Both teams are hoping to rebound this year from December collapses that cost them playoffs berths last season.

The Cowboys lost three of four down the stretch to finish 9-7, and the Bucs lost four straight after a 9-3 start and fired coach Jon Gruden, replacing him with Morris.

Dallas' biggest offseason move was getting rid of Owens and making Roy Williams the lead receiver, a role he's excited about after spending the first 5½ years of his career in Detroit and struggling in Owens' shadow after being obtained from the Lions at the trade deadline last season.

Romo completed his first two passes to the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Williams, but the duo remained relatively quiet until the receiver's big third-quarter catch put the Cowboys up 20-7.

Romo, who has thrown for eight TDs and no interceptions in two career games against Tampa Bay, finished 16 of 27 and improved to 8-1 in September starts. Williams had three receptions for 86 yards.

"You don't think about yards. You're not judged off of yards," said Romo, who has a franchise-best 17 300-yard games. "You're judged off of winning and losing at this position."

Leftwich wasn't sacked by a defense led by DeMarcus Ware, however he did take several hard shots in the fourth quarter. The seventh-year pro led an 11-play, 84-yard drive that Ward capped with his TD that trimmed Tampa Bay's deficit to 20-14 with 13:45 remaining.

Two plays later, Romo found Crayton wide open up the right sideline, and the receiver easily outran Sabby Piscitelli and Jermaine Phillips to restore the Cowboys' 13-point lead.

"We had our chances. The final score is definitely not indicative of how good we played at times. Those big plays absolutely destroy your football team," Ronde Barber said.

Barber's 6-yard TD run, set up by Romo's 44-yard completion to Crayton, finished Dallas' scoring.

The Bucs marched 74 yards in the closing minutes to score on Leftwich's 2-yard pass to Kellen Winslow. By that time, most of the announced crowd of 63,806 had cleared the stadium, leaving big pockets of Dallas fans in their seats.

Ware left briefly after being hit in the head on Tampa Bay's third offensive play. He returned the next series.

Bucs PK Mike Nugent had a 38-yard field goal attempt blocked, then missed a 46-yarder.

Cowboys S Gerald Sensabaugh left with sore ribs after a fourth-quarter collision with Bucs receiver Michael Clayton.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rose colored glasses view and prediciton of the NFC

NFC East Review
by Ken Sins

Substandard special teams play can torpedo a promising season. Just ask the 2008 Cowboys, who lost as many as three games due to foul-ups in the kicking game. Win those three and the cowboys steam into the playoffs at 12-4 ith a first-round bye rather than staying at home and watching from the den.

The Cowboys hope they've patched some of those holes with the hiring of respected special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis and the drafgting of some kids who have the potential to contribute on coverage units.

Special teams have also been the summer focus for the three teams who share NFC East airspace with Dallas.

In Washington, the kicking game has been a shore subject.

The Redskins used three punters last season, none of them proving satisfactory, so they signed free agent Hunter Smith, a 10-year veteran of the Indianapolis Colts. Kicker Shaun Shishan returns, but he's been pushed by Dave Raynor. Suisham, the former Cowboy, was near the bottom of the league in accuracy last season, hitting only 16 of 26, 12 for 20 from 40 yards or more.

Special teams coordinator Danny Smith also must revamp his coverage units after the departure of the team's top two tacklers in the kicking game, Khary Campbell and James Thrash. Smith does welcome back solid kickoff returner Rock Cartwright, and Washington was sixth in the NFL in kickoff coverage last season.

Philadelphia has a new special teams coordinator in TEd Daisher, who takes over for Rory Segrest, now the team's defensive line coach.

Kicker David Akers and punter Sav Rocca are back. Akers rebounded from a down 2007 season, connecting on 33 of 40 field goals last season, 10 of 15 from 40 yards or more. Rocca, the former Aussie Rules footballer, has adapted well to the American game, averaging 43.3 yards per punt last season and dropping 24 inside the 20.

In the return game, Quintin Demps tops the depth chart as the kikoff specialist and DeSean Jackson is set to bring back punts.

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was taken by the Eagles in the first round in part because of the special teams potential he demonstrated at Missouri, where he had five touchdown returns in two seasons. But Maclin muffed two pounts in Philadelphia's first two preseason games, and nothing will scare a special teams coordinator more than ball security questions.

Backup running back Eldra Buckley, a member of the Chargers' practice squad the last two seasons, has shown promise returning and covering kicks. The wild card might be Michael Vick, whose athleticism has led to speculation that he could enter the mix as a return man.

Last season the Giants were the division's best special teams club, placing fourth in comprehensive league rankings and third in the league in punt coverage. But the G-men said farewell to their kicker, John Carney, who converted 35 of 38 field goal tries last season, a .921 percentage that earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Carney's age (45) and short kickoffs prompted the Giants to return to Lawrence Tynes, who held the job before a 2008 knee injury limited him to two regular season games. Carney was released and signed with the New Orleans Saints, so Tynes is under pressure to approach Carney's incredible 2008 statistics.

Coming back are two other Giants special teamers who made last seasons's Pro Bowl: punter Jeff Feagles and deep-snapper Zak DeOssie. Return men Ahmad Bradshaw and Domenik Hixon also have strong credentials. Bradshaw is fourth on the Giants' all time kickoff return list. Hixon averages more than 29 yards per kickoff return for his career.

Player Update: Miles Austin, WR


Head coach Wade Phillips expects Miles Austin to be ready to go for Week 1 at Tampa Bay, according to the Cowboys' official website.

Our View: Austin practiced fine all week following his bout with a hamstring injury. The Cowboys feel that Austin could make a solid impact as a deep threat in their aerial attack, and is worth a look as a flier if dangling on the waiver wire in fantasy leagues.

Player Update: Sam Hurd, WR


Sam Hurd is expected to play in Sunday's season opener at Tampa Bay, according to the Cowboys' official website. He has been recovering from a quad injury.

Our View: Hurd has upside, but is still learning his craft at receiver, and does not yet garner consideration for fantasy leagues.

Player Update: Roy Williams, WR


The Cowboys' official website reiterated that Roy Williams is expected to start in Week 1 at Tampa Bay. He did not have any issues with his shoulder contusion while practicing over the last two weeks.

Our View: Williams inherits the No. 1 role at receiver following the departure of Terrell Owens to Buffalo, and he will be tested right away in a tough match-up against the Buccaneers on their home turf at Raymond James Stadium.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Biggs: Cowboys moving toward deal for Ware?

By Brad Biggs

DeMarcus Ware and the Dallas Cowboys made what sounds like significant progress toward a longterm extension for the outside linebacker, reports Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News.

Ware’s agent Pat Dye Jr. met with Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones at the club’s facility for a few hours today.

“It was very, very cordial,” Dye told Archer. “They made some significant moves in certain components of the contract and we made some significant moves on certain components of the contract. I think it was a very constructive discussion, but until you reach a result or have a result, how do you measure progress?”

Ware is entering the final year of his contract and is scheduled to earn $1.005 million and would be a restricted free agent following the season if a new CBA is not hammered out. He’s in position to pull down a massive contract coming off his 20-sack season. He’s expected to surpass the $63 million, six-year contract that Terrell Suggs received in Baltimore, a deal that included $38 million guaranteed.

Dye and the Cowboys had not spoken since before training camp opened, and it’s been a low key negotiation. Ware has said the right things and attended all of the team’s functions.

“I wouldn’t say anything is closer,” Ware told Archer “but I would say the process is still going. We’re still trying to get some things done. They’re trying to show they want me here and I’m trying to show them I want to be here.”

ESPN Scout's Inc.: Dallas-Tampa Bay Preview

By Ken Moll
Scouts Inc.
Dallas at Tampa Bay
When: 1:00 PM ET
Watch: FOX
More scouting reports: Week 1
Scouts Inc. Position Advantage
QB = Dallas
RB = Dallas
WR = Tampa Bay
OL = Dallas
DL = Dallas
LB = Dallas
DB = Dallas
ST = Tampa Bay
Coach = Dallas

After breaking down film of both teams, Scouts Inc. offers 10 things to watch in this week's Cowboys-Buccaneers matchup.

1. Dallas needs to establish thunder and lighting: The Cowboys have an excellent running back tandem in Marion Barber and Felix Jones. Barber is a punishing back who can wear down a defense, and Jones has the explosiveness to make a big play any time he touches the ball. Look for offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to establish the ground attack versus the Buccaneers' 4-3 defense under new coordinator Jim Bates.

2. Expect Dallas' defense to pressure a stationary Buccaneers signal-caller: Tampa Bay has decided to go with seven-year veteran Byron Leftwich, and we'll likely see a good dose of zone blitzes and stunts to flush the immobile quarterback out of the pocket. Leftwich will have some rust to knock off as he has seen limited time behind center over the past three years.

3. Look for Romo to get on track early: Cowboys QB Tony Romo, who didn't play well down the stretch in 2008, appeard to be a bit more judicious with his passes in the preseason. Romo doesn't have the same downfield threat he has had in the past few years and will likely take what the Buccaneers' defense will give him. Garrett may call more bubble screens, crossing patterns and high-percentage passes early in the game to get Romo on track.

4. Look for Dallas' defense to guard against the big play: Dallas' defense, which appears to be more talented than the Buccaneers' offense, could set the tempo of the game if it can make Tampa Bay methodically drive the length of the field. Thanks to the Bucs' acquisition of tight end Kellen Winslow and the presence of talented wide receiver Antonio Bryant as targets for Leftwitch, the Cowboys will likely play a good dose of zone coverage to guard against the big play. Head coach Wade Phillips will dial up pressure, but will pick his spots and likely keep two safeties deep.

5. Matchup to watch -- Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware vs. Buccaneers LT Donald Penn: Ware was arguably the best defensive player in the league in 2008, and will be a tough task for Penn. Ware has excellent initial quickness and explosive speed to close to the quarterback and has developed a variety of pass-rush moves and counters that offensive coordinators have to game plan for. Penn is a smart, hard-nosed, technically sound lineman with enough athleticism to give Ware a battle, but new offensive coordinator Greg Olson will likely give Penn help with an extra blocker in some schemes.

6. Tampa Bay will try and establish its ground attack: The strength of the Tampa Bay offense is its depth in the backfield. Look for the three-headed tandem of Earnest Graham, Derrick Ward and Cadillac Williams to see lots of action with a variety of off-tackle and interior power plays as well as schemes to attack the perimeter of the Dallas defense.

7. Expect Olson to take shots downfield: Olson will likely take several shots downfield in the passing game. Olson realizes he has a tight end who can stretch the field in Winslow and talented perimeter targets in Bryant and Michael Clayton. Both Bryant and Clayton can be a tough matchup for the shorter Dallas cornerbacks. Olson may design calls with maximum protection to give his veteran quarterback time to get the ball deep to Winslow, Clayton and Bryant.

8. The Bucs will try to make Dallas one-dimensional: New Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris is defensive-minded and will want to stymie the impressive Dallas ground attack. Given the inconsistent play of Romo late in 2008 as well as the departure of Terrell Owens, Bates (defensive coordinator) and Morris will likely devise a game plan full of zone run blitzes, interior stunts and eight-man fronts out of their base 4-3 scheme.

9. Look for the Buccaneers to play field position: Field position will be a key to success for this new-look Tampa Bay team. Look for an extra emphasis on special teams for Tampa Bay with a possible wrinkle or two involving return specialist Clifton Smith and Sammie Stroughter. Both players have explosive speed and could give the Buccaneers the edge in winning the field-position battle.

10. Matchup to watch -- Buccaneers CB Aqib Talib vs. Cowboys WR Roy Williams: This matchup between should be intriguing to watch. With T.O.'s departure, all eyes will be on Williams to see if he can fill some of the void. Williams hasn't shown the explosive speed needed to stretch deep zones, but now that he's the No. 1 receiver, Williams will have a chance to show why Dallas gave up so much to acquire him during the 2008 season. Talib has the size and talent to shut down Williams, but this won't be an easy task for the second-year defender.


Dallas 23
Tampa Bay 17

DMN Blog: Tony Romo: 'Whose job isn't on the line?'

By Tim MacMahon/Blogger

Tony Romo scoffed at a question yesterday about Wade Phillips' tenuous job security.

"Whose job isn't on the line?" Romo said. "Honestly, I don't think it has anything to do with Wade or any individual. That includes everybody from the top down on the roster, players, all the coaches, people in the front office."

No, not really.

I'll go out on a limb and say that the general manager is guaranteed to keep his job. Jerry Jones isn't going to can his right-hand man/son Stephen Jones, either.

Nobody on the coaching staff is guaranteed a gig here next season, but there are players you can go ahead and pencil onto the 2010 roster, even though the looming uncapped season could give teams free reign on getting rid of contracts. The list of Cowboys basically guaranteed to return next season:

Tony Romo
Jason Witten
Andre Gurode
Leonard Davis
Felix Jones
Roy Williams
Martellus Bennett
DeMarcus Ware
Jay Ratliff
Anthony Spencer
Bradie James
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

DC.COM Blog: Practice Provides Hints For Game-Day Actives

Posted by nickeatman at 9/10/2009 2:27 PM CDT on

We don’t get to watch a lot of practice each day, and most of our 25-minutes out there is for the all-intensive stretching period.

But judging on some of the special teams work they did, it does appear that Cory Procter and Doug Free will be two of the active players for Sunday’s game in Tampa. Now the team kept 10 offensive linemen but typically, only seven or eight linemen are active on the 45-man game day roster.

Procter and Free are both on the starting kickoff return units, which are anchored deep by Felix Jones, who of course, will be active Sunday. That was an easy one.

Miles Austin and Sam Hurd are also both on the return units, along with Steve Octavien. I didn’t see Kevin Ogletree on that squad, but that doesn’t mean the Cowboys won’t make him active Sunday.

It’s only a few minutes of a Thursday practice. But from the looks of things, it does appear Procter and Free will be the backup linemen available. And any questions about the injuries to Hurd and Austin clouding their availability for Sunday are probably cleared up as well.