Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Jones hints Barber will be Cowboys' No. 1 RB

Jerry Jones indicates that there's no reason Marion Barber shouldn't be the Cowboys' starting running back.

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones, who has publicly questioned whether Marion Barber would be better returning to a reserve role, indicated Tuesday that he sees no reason for the running back's role to change.Jones had previously stated the concern that using Barber as a starter might limit his effectiveness at the end of games. Jones said in March that the Cowboys were considering making Felix Jones the starter.

However, Jones strongly hinted Tuesday that Barber's starting job is secure.
"I know this: He looks quicker," Jones said at the NFL owners' meetings. "I think that is going to make him even more effective. He's just in great shape. He looks as good out here just in these initial practices as I've seen him look in his career. You could easily go from there and look at what his role might be, and it'd certainly be on par with anything he's done."

Barber became a starter after signing a seven-year, $45 million contract before the 2008 season. The Cowboys drafted Felix Jones and Tashard Choice that year to complement Barber, who earned a Pro Bowl trip as a reserve by rushing for a career-high 975 yards the previous season.

Barber's productivity has dropped since he became a starter. He has averaged 4.0 yards per carry and rushed for a total of 14 touchdowns over the last two seasons, when he was nagged by a variety of injuries. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry and rushed for a total of 24 touchdowns the previous two seasons.

"I think the real question is, should he be finishing rather than beginning?" Jerry Jones said on KRLD-FM in December. "In his Pro Bowl year, where he had his best year, [Barber was] finishing the game. If you recall, Julius Jones started the game. We injected the quickness of his speed there early.
"That would be the issue. It's not a question of starting as much as it is, when do you use Barber at his best? There are a lot of people, prominent people who know Barber well, who feel like he would be better served used to finish the game than really used a lot at the start."

Felix Jones, the Cowboys' first-round pick in 2008, has been a dynamic playmaker with durability issues during his first two NFL seasons. Jones averaged 6.5 yards per carry but missed 12 games due to hamstring, toe and knee injuries.

He provided the Cowboys evidence down the stretch of the 2009 season that he can handle a heavier workload. He had double-digit carries in the final six games, including the postseason. That run was highlighted by his 16-carry, 148-yard, one-touchdown performance in the playoff win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys relied on Jones because Barber was dealing with quadriceps, thumb and knee injuries.

Barber still got the biggest share of the carries over the course of the season despite having the worst average among the team's running backs. He led the Cowboys with 932 yards on 214 carries. Jones rushed for 685 yards on 116 carries, and Choice rushed for 349 yards on 64 carries.

"We're in really good shape there," Jerry Jones said. "We've just got to plan on before it's over using three backs. I think it will bear out that way."

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Roy Williams on Dez Bryant: 'The dude is scary; a man amongst boys'

by David Moore

Some have dismissed Roy Williams as delusional with his comments this off-season.

He's not. The spirit of what Williams has to say is often taken the wrong way by those who are not there when he makes the comments. He's not full of bluster. He's thoughtful. He also rejects the notion that his contract gives him an edge when it comes to the battle for a starting receiver spot.

"It is a fair competition for the spot,'' Williams said. "My thing is, if you're good enough, come get it.

"I've been working really hard this off-season. Obviously, something I've been doing these past two years hasn't been working so I took it another step further and it's working pretty good this year.

"I hope it can translate on the field. But if it doesn't, No. 88 is going to be right there. He's that good. He's going to be right there regardless. I've got to stay on my game.''

But Williams isn't finished when it comes to talking about No. 88, Dez Bryant.

"The dude is scary,'' Williams said. "The dude is good and he doesn't even know it yet. Once the light bulb goes on he will probably be the best in the league.

"He's a man among boys. He's got big hands. Real big hands. When he shakes my hand, his fingers come up to my elbows.''

A Look Back at the 2005 NFL Draft

Back in April, the NFL concluded the 2010 draft. This year’s draft was punctuated by the prime time debut of Round 1 at New York City’s famed Radio City Music Hall. The draft was extended over a three day period and received wide acclaim from fans and media, alike.

It is too early to say who the winners are for the 2010 draft. Some draft picks never make it out of camp; some never fulfill the promise of their rookie contract. Still others exceed the greatest expectations. It has been widely stated that the average career of an NFL player is 4-5 years. Given that, let’s take a look at the 2005 NFL Draft.

The Rules of the Game

There are as many ways to evaluate the success of a draft class as there are to evaluate players. What matters most? Years as a starter, Pro Bowl selections, All Pro selections, team wins, championships, value at selected position, value over next selection? There are a lot of criteria to consider.

I’ll leave that final determination to you. For my own purposes, I admit using a subjective mix of all of those criteria. Here is a link for you to make your own decision.

Top Dog of the 2005 NFL Draft

1. Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys used two first round selections to grab DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears. Ware has become a dominant defensive force in the league. He has been selected to four Pro Bowls and been named All-Pro three times. He is arguably the best player at his position in the entire NFL. Ware, to the Cowboys credit, was taken just before Chargers LB Shawne Merriman.

DeMarcus Ware: 2005 Draft Cream of the Crop

Spears has been solid as a 300 pound defensive end in the Cowboys 3-4 alignment, but the other crown jewel of this draft was selected in the 7th round. Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff was named All-Pro this past season and has blossomed into an elite anchor for the Cowboys. Ratliff is solid against the run and excels on passing downs. He collapses the pocket and creates havoc in the middle.

The selections of Ware and Ratliff alone would probably suffice to put the Cowboys on top, but Dallas also picked up linebacker Kevin Burnett in the 2nd round, and Marion Barber and Chris Canty in the 4th round. Canty was an excellent performer on the defensive line for Dallas during the 2008 season and garnered interest from many teams around the league when his rookie deal expired. Last year, Canty underperformed for the New York Giants, but can be expected to bounce back in a more aggressive scheme. Marion Barber leads the all members of the 2005 draft class (Cadillac Williams, Brandon Jacobs, Frank Gore, Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, Darren Sproles) with 43 rushing touchdowns.

This draft class produced 4 All-Pro selections, 7 Pro Bowl nods, and a solid core of reliable players that allowed the Cowboys defense to improve from 27th in points allowed in 2004 to 2nd in points allowed in 2009. This is a high impact draft. If the Cowboys talent on offense can match that of the defense, Dallas may get a chance to play the final game of the season at home in 2010.

Notables from the 2005 Draft

Perhaps the most memorable thing for me about this draft is the number of teams that missed on first round selections. Alex Smith (#1) has been a bust in San Francisco. He has shown signs that he may emerge, but the question marks surrounding his performance linger. Braylon Edwards (#3) washed out in Cleveland, as did Cedric Benson in Chicago (#4). Cadillac Williams (#5) has been an exceptional player in Tampa Bay (2005 Rookie of the Year), but he has suffered some of the most excrutiating injuries in the history of the game. The Titans selected Adam Jones at #6; the Jaguars selected Troy Williamson at #7; and, the Detroit Lions picked USC’s Mike Williams at #10. Only picks #8 (Antrel Rolle, Arizona) and #9 (Carlos Rogers, Auburn) emerged from this minefield. The Dolphins top pick, Ronnie Brown (#2, and one of four Auburn players selected in Round 1), has also battled health issues.

The first round wasn’t all bad. Aaron Rodgers was selected by the Packers. Heath Miller went to the Steelers. Marlin Jackson was picked by the Colts. The Atlanta Falcons chose Roddy White.


The Cowboys were not alone in drafting well in 2005. Here is a short list of teams that drafted well and their selections:

New York Giants (4 picks): Corey Webster, Justin Tuck, Brandon Jacobs.

San Diego Chargers: Shawne Merriman, Luis Castillo, Vincent Jackson, Darren Sproles.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Heath Miller, Bryant McFadden, Chris Kemeotu.

Bryant continues to improve


Time Story Bryant continues to improve : The Dallas Morning News reports that Cowboys rookie WR Dez Bryant continues to make strides with each offseason workout.

Austin doesn't plan to hold out


Time Story Austin doesn't plan to hold out : The Dallas Morning News reports Monday that Cowboys WR Miles Austin continues to focus on the field and not about earning a contract extension

Super Talk, Meet Your Conscience

by donpotts21

During this part of the offseason, NFL storylines are few and far between. OTA’s are underway, and we are about eight or nine weeks until the start of training camp. Therefore, many times reporters, bloggers and the media world will reach to get their headlines. In Dallas, the focus has been on Dez Bryant and Roy Williams on the field. Off the field? Well, there has been some Super chatter. You are beginning to hear mur-mur’s of the Cowboys possibly playing in the Superbowl at their home stadium – a feat that has never occurred in Superbowl history. Radio hosts and former players are voicing their opinions on this very topic. The most recent headline came from Cowboy great, Roger Staubach:

“I didn’t want to jinx them about the Super Bowl being here, but that would be fun,” Staubach said. “That would be extra special. And it could happen.”

He continued …

“This is a really, really good football team and they have the capability,” Staubach said. “There are probably five or six teams in the NFL that can win it all. This is one of them. They can do it.

“It’s a matter of giving that little extra and fighting, and I think they have that attitude, too. The way it transpired at the end of the year in the Minnesota game was rough, but they really were a team at the end of the year, and I think they’re even better this year.”

Staubach, a Cowboy legend, just put a hex on the whole damn thing! So I figure for the Cowboys best interest I will slow things down a bit, relax and take a look at five possible hindrances to the teams Super aspirations.

1 – Offensive Line Depth

The Cowboys head into the season with questions on their offensive line. Doug Free is replacing the recently unemployed Flozell Adams. Free is young and athletic, but also still raw. He will have his struggles this year your delusional if you think otherwise. What happens if any starter on the line gets injured for any substantial period of time? The depth within this group seems weak, and that is a major liability.

2 – Who Is Going To Play The Middle?

Ken Hamlin got cut. Great. He was terrible. Now, the team is replacing him with either Alan Ball (?) or ironically Michael Hamlin. Since the team cut ties with Big Bro Hamlin, they have been raving about the potential of both Ball and Lil Bro.

Myself. I am not a fan of Ball. In the games he started he did absolutely nothing to impress me. I saw a player who recorded zero turnovers playing a position in which that’s all your judged on.

I cannot make an honest assessment of Lil Bro Hamlin because he’s been injured. All I know is that the Cowboys like his potential and think he will be a starter in the NFL. Me personally … not too crazy about the bloodline.

3 - Road Woes

The Cowboys have traditionally under Wade Phillips been a team that struggled in big road games. Last year’s playoff game in Minnesota as the most recent example. Now for the Cowboys to reach the Superbowl you would think they probably will have to play at least one road playoff game. I say that because Minnesota and New Orleans have a much easier path for home field advantage than the Cowboys. A great year in the difficult NFC East is 12-4 and that rarely is best in the conference. Therefore, assuming the Cowboys get in the playoffs and get a decent seed (neither are sure things), then they will once again have to go on the road and play in a hostile environment. What makes you believe they will emerge victorious? Which brings me to point four …

4 – The Cowboys Lack Playoff Caliber Coaching

With all due respect to Coach Phillips and his staff, they are not one of the league’s best. I think Phillips is a stellar defensive coach, but in big games the defense has struggled some. On the offensive side, I am not enamored with Jason Garrett. His offensive gameplans will be flawless one week and head-scratching another. He called a terrible game in last year’s playoff loss at Minnesota, and I do not trust him calling a Conference Championship on the road. For the Cowboys to play in the Superbowl, they have to get home-field advantage throughout. And finally …

5 – History (Pressure)

There is a reason no one has ever played a Superbowl at home. It is not easy. You can have all the talent in the world but you also need a good amount of luck and good fortune. A major injury, a tipped ball or a bad call can ruin a game and/or season. Also, if the Cowboys do make the playoffs, then the pressure really mounts. Imagine if the Cowboys completed the task of reaching the Superbowl, then lost at home to the Jets? History will not be kind to the franchise if that scenario plays out.

I understand many of my readers will wonder who @#$! in my cereal this morning. I still haven’t caught the person, but if you have any ideas email me. But seriously, I do not wanna feed the hype machine. We have to realize that the Cowboys have flaws just like every other team. Do they look good on paper? Yes. Would I be surprised if they don’t make the playoffs? Yes. Is this there best chance to reach the Superbowl in over a decade? Probably. As a fan, there is a lot to be excited for this season. And if they happen to reach and win the Superbowl, it will be a historic season. But until then, as the famous Pulp Fiction quote goes “Let’s not start sucking each other’s d*ck’s just yet.” Thanks for reading. Stay Tuned!

Monday, May 24, 2010

ESPN Dallas: Staubach: Cowboys have Super Bowl potential

By Tim MacMahon

IRVING, Texas – Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach expressed optimism Monday that his former team can become the first to play a Super Bowl in its own stadium.

That was after Staubach, the North Texas Super Bowl committee chairman, briefly addressed the Dallas Cowboys after their organized team activity workout.

“I didn’t want to jinx them about the Super Bowl being here, but that would be fun,” Staubach said. “That would be extra special. And it could happen.”

Staubach discussed the importance of pulling together, telling the players how the 1971 Cowboys recovered from a drama-filled 4-3 start to earn the first of the franchise’s five Super Bowl championships. Staubach believes these Cowboys have the potential to add to that total after ending a 13-season playoff win drought last year.

“This is a really, really good football team and they have the capability,” Staubach said. “There are probably five or six teams in the NFL that can win it all. This is one of them. They can do it.

“It’s a matter of giving that little extra and fighting, and I think they have that attitude, too. The way it transpired at the end of the year in the Minnesota game was rough, but they really were a team at the end of the year, and I think they’re even better this year.”

Staubach raved about all the Cowboys’ offensive weapons, comparing it to the best units he quarterbacked during the 1970s. But his optimism begins with Tony Romo.

“I’m a big Tony Romo fan,” Staubach said. “You’ve got that feeling. There’s a few quarterbacks that when they hit the field, you know something good is going to happen. When Troy was here, I knew it. I just felt it. I feel the same way about Tony. When he’s on that field, good things are going to happen.”

Vegas Football Odds Favor Dallas Cowboys to win the NFC East in 2010

by Ryan Nox

1. Dallas Cowboys (+120 odds to win NFC East in 2010-11 season)

2009 Record: 11-5 (1st)

Dallas will be seeking its third division title in the last four years this season. The Cowboys captured the 2009 NFC East crown with a dominant effort against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17. Dallas mirrored that performance the following week against Philly to gain its first playoff win since 1996. In 2009, the Cowboys were second in the league in total offense but were just 14th in scoring offense. Dallas is hoping that rookie wideout Dez Bryant will aid the Cowboys in the red zone in 2010. On defense, the Cowboys were second in the NFL in scoring defense a year ago. However, the unit struggled in the divisional playoffs against Minnesota. With the exception of the opener at Washington, the Cowboys won’t face a team away from home that had a losing record in 2009.

2. Philadelphia Eagles (+250 odds to win NFC East in 2010-11 season)

2009 Record: 11-5 (2nd)

It’s the end of an era in Philly. After leading the Eagles to five conference championship games in the last decade, quarterback Donovan McNabb is in a different locale in the NFC East. With only two career starts under his belt, fourth-year QB Kevin Kolb is now the starting signal-caller for Philadelphia. The Eagles have ranked sixth or higher in the NFL in scoring offense in three of the last four seasons. The running game will also be without a longtime standout. Brain Westbrook, who led the squad in rushing for six straight seasons from 2003-08, is no longer an Eagle. After ranking fourth in the NFL in scoring defense in 2008, the Eagles fell to 19th in this category in 2009. With only two games against 2009 playoff teams in its first 12 contests, Philadelphia has a chance to enter the final quarter of the year in good shape.

3. New York Giants (+250 odds to win NFC East in 2010-11 season)

2009 Record: 8-8 (3rd)

New York cruised to a 5-0 start in 2009 but stumbled to a .500 squad by the end of the year. The Giants were outscored 85-16 in the final two games of the 2009 campaign. The collapse of the defense was the main problem. The unit that shined during the 2007 postseason run was 30th in the league in scoring defense a year ago. The Giants signed All-Pro safety Antrel Rolle during the offseason to boost the secondary. Up front, rookie defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul should help the pass rush. The offense finished eighth in the NFL in scoring and total offense a year ago. Young wideout Steve Smith emerged to grab 107 catches in 2009. The road slate is daunting for New York in the 2010 NFL betting season. Five of its first seven away outings are against 2009 playoff squads.

4. Washington Redskins (+700 odds to win NFC East in 2010-11 season)

2009 Record: 4-12 (4th)

The arrivals of McNabb and new head coach Mike Shanahan have brought some cautious optimism to Washington. However, a mediocre group of receivers and some aging running backs could make it a challenge for McNabb in his debut season for the Redskins. A defense that has finished in the top 10 in total defense in eight of the last ten seasons is in a lot better shape. The Redskins could be in an early hole based on its schedule. Of its first six games, four are against 2009 playoff clubs.

Ten Things I Think I Think: Dallas Cowboys Edition

Written by theMBIIIeffect
AUTHOR: thelandryhat

I have to give credit to SI’s Peter King for coming up with this great concept for an article. I disagree with him rating us as the 10th-best team in the NFL–picking us after the Dolphins and the Panthers is bordering on lunacy–but I have to give him credit on this idea of writing about things he thinks he thinks about the NFL.

I’ll be focusing on the Cowboys, of course.

1. The Cowboys have to have one of the most difficult schedules in the NFL: The Cowboys get the new-look Redskins the first week of the season and won’t have any tape on Donovan McNabb. The Redskins were awful last year but it’s the NFL and upsets happen. After that it gets worse: at Houston in the third week won’t be a walk in the park, an early bye week followed by 13 more games including at Minnesota, at Green Bay, home against New Orleans then away to Arizona and Philly to finish the year.

2. If the Cowboys make it to the playoffs, they’ll make a run: This is the upside to playing this hard a schedule. The Cowboys will probably play more playoff teams during the year than teams that will have their golf clubs out after week 17. They’re going to be playing playoff football all year and they’ll be better for it.

3. Dez Bryant will start one game before week 8: The guy is too good to keep off the field. Cornerback Mike Jenkins said that Bryant has the potential to be the best wide receiver on the team. Roy Williams certainly has to see Bryant in his rearview mirror and all the comments he’s making about the work he’s putting in this summer suggests that he knows he’ll have to perform to keep his job.

4. The Cowboys won’t sign another safety: Any dreamers thinking that the Cowboys will work out some kind of trade for O.J. Atogwe ought to wake up now. It’s not going to happen. That’s ok, though, because Alan Ball and Mike Hamlin will be able to handle one of the safety spots. If it were up to me, I’d have Gerald Sensabaugh at free safety and let Hamlin play strong safety. I think Sensabaugh has better range and Hamlin is a better tackler (not in a Roy Williams way–the guy can cover pretty well).

5. The Cowboys will create more turnovers than they did last year: The Cowboys defense was one of the best defenses in the league last year if you don’t use turnovers to judge defenses–so the Cowboys just had a pretty good defense last year. Only 21 turnovers in 16 games last year won’t cut it, especially with DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer rushing off the edges.

6. Anthony Spencer will have 10 sacks this year: This guy is figuring out the NFL and he had six sacks last year. He’s got 10.5 for his career and he’ll nearly double that total this year as he’s getting better and better.

7. The Rams will come out ahead in the Bobby Carpenter-Alex Barron trade: Barron has to beat out Doug Free or Marc Columbo or hope for one of them to get hurt in order to see the field–I’m not buying that there’s really an open competition for the left tackle spot. Carpenter will get to start over in a defensive scheme he’s more comfortable with. Am I saying it was a bad trade for us? No. We weren’t going to be using Carpenter after taking Sean Lee in this year’s draft and we needed the depth at offensive tackle. It was a smart move for both parties, but the Rams will see an immediate impact from Carpenter.

8. Mike Jenkins will become one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL this year: Jenkins is a big, physical corner that can keep up with quick receivers while still being able to fight with larger receivers. If he can put up some better stats and intercept a few more passes, he’ll be on the Pro Bowl roster from the start and will be considered within the top six or seven corners in the game.

9. Tony Romo will throw at least five more interceptions but ten more touchdowns than last year: Adding Bryant and having an other year with Martellus Bennett will surely help in the red zone. Bryant isn’t the biggest or fastest receiver, but he fights for jump balls in the end zone. He also has better hands than most of the other Cowboys receivers–I’m not sure he has better hands than Miles Austin but I think he does. I also think Romo will be behind in a few games this year and he’ll probably force a few, but that’s ok. These things happen.

10. The Cowboys won’t be playing in this year’s Super Bowl: I don’t think they’re quite there yet. They’re a strong team and have to be considered amongst the best in the NFC. They just aren’t Super Bowl winners yet I don’t think. The pressure is on the Cowboys this year because the Super Bowl is being played in Arlington. I think they need one more year. I’d love to be wrong here, but that’s what I think.

…I think.

Alan Ball leading candidate to start at free safety

Dallas Cowboys FS Alan Ball is the leading candidate to start at free safety this season, according to Carlos Mendez, of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, however, there is some concern as to how well he can tackle at the position. "His tackling and stuff, in the ballgames, because of his size, is really the only drawback on him," head coach Wade Phillips said. "I think he's going to be a really good free safety-type guy. Our free safety wasn't involved in a lot of the tackling, anyway."

Read more:

Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys) NFL Films

Steve Sabol looks at the similarities between Tony Romo and Brett Favre. ©

Cowboys have NFL's best all-time winning percentage

Yahoo! Buzz
Gerry Fraley

We were asleep at the switch and failed to note a significant moment during last season.

The Dallas Cowboys passed Miami and now have the top all-time winning percentage in the NFL.

The Cowboys are 434-314-6 for a .580 winning percentage. Miami is 387-281-4 for a .579 percentage. Chicago is third at 693-507-42 for a .577 winning percentage.

Among teams that have been in existence for more than a decace, that rules out the expansion Houston Texans, Tampa Bay has the lowest winning percentage. The Bucs need a 115-game winning streak to reach .500. They are 208-323-1 for a .392 winning percentage.

Rumor - Crayton to Miami

Rumor - Crayton to Miami

We hear the Dolphins were contacted to gauge their interest in Cowboys receiver Patrick Crayton but were noncommittal. Crayton, who was given permission to seek a trade and has a history with this Dolphins regime, ranked eighth in the NFL in yards per catch and ninth in punt returns in '09. Acquiring him would make sense if one of Miami's top four receivers has a significant injury this summer and if Dallas accepts little in return or cuts him from a deal worth $2 million in 2010.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tight end Jason Witten on quarterback Tony Romo

Cowboys Team Report

“I have said it all along he is the hardest worker I have seen he is here every day. He has the will to win and good things will follow.”

Dallas Cowboys Offseason Preview
Written For Football Fans
By a Football Fan

Last season: 11-5


#24 WR Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State)

This is a great pick by the Cowboys and a great move up. Bryant gives their offense another potent weapon across from Miles Austin and sends a huge wake up call to Roy Williams. If the Cowboys can get Roy Williams going, with Bryant, Austin, and Jason Witten in the receiving corps, plus Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice at running back and Tony Romo playing quarterback, in terms of pure offensive weapons, this team may lead the league. That doesn’t necessarily translate to a Super Bowl, but it certainly helps.

Grade: A

#55 MLB Sean Lee (Penn State)

Lee has first round talent, but a questionable bill of health. If his knee holds up, he’s well worth this selection as a young middle linebacker successor for Keith Brooking and a solid character and leadership guy. However, it was also a bit of a risk.

Grade: B

#126 S Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (IUPUI)

AOA is certainly a great playmaker, who can pick off a bunch of passes and do good things with the ball in his hands and he’s a dynamic kick returner, but I have a some doubts about his ability in coverage, even as a safety. Plus, he’s never, from what I know, played a lot of safety before at the collegiate level. However, this is a great value pick and makes a lot of sense even if he just ends up as a nickel corner and a return man.

Grade: A-

#179 OT Sam Young (Notre Dame)

Sam Young fits what they look for in an offensive lineman and may be their right tackle of the future, but he has major issues in pass protection and possibly could hurt the Cowboys next year if they try to use him too much. Other than that, this is a great value and a great pick for the future.

Grade: A-

#196 CB Jamar Wall (Texas Tech)

I guess this is a good indication of where they plan to use AOA. Wall is a moderate reach and fills a bit of a need, you never know how much longer Terrence Newman has in the tank, but the Cowboys already had 3 solid cornerbacks, 4 if they have to move AOA to cornerback, so this was not a great pick.

Grade: C+

#234 3-4 DE Sean Lissemore (William & Mary)

Another player who was not one of the 400-450 players I had heard of from this draft class, so the decision to take him was a bit questionable, plus he is only 6-2 and doesn’t appear to have the height to play end in a 3-4. Plus, 3-4 end wasn’t much of a need.

Grade: D


The Cowboys didn’t have a lot of picks to begin with, and they had even less after that Dez Bryant trade, but that being said, that Dez Bryant trade was brilliant and makes the Cowboys an extremely dangerous offensive team and when you combine that with their strong pass rush on defense, you can make some good things happen. Assuming they don’t revert to their December choking ways, this team has to be the favorite to win the tough NFC East and a Super Bowl contender. They made every one of their picks count, for the most part and acquired a ton of talent and upside in this draft. They could have gotten 3 future starters in this draft, and AOA is a solid future nickelback and kick returner, and has some upside at safety. Their picks dropped off a bit at the end, in terms of my grades, but those were late round picks anyway and, who knows, maybe I’ll be wrong about one or both of them. The only complaint I have about their draft, is that I don’t think they did enough to get depth on the offensive line, especially with Flozell Adams being cut. That was their biggest need coming into this draft, in my opinion, and they only used one pick there. They could have used one or two of their late round picks on a guard and/or center. However, with the talent they got out of this draft, it’s hard to give them a bad grade.

Grade: A-

Key undrafted free agents

CB Bryan McCann (SMU)

3-4 DE Lorenzo Washington (Alabama)

RB Lonyae Miller (Fresno State)

QB Matt Nichols (Eastern Washington)

OT Mike Tepper (California)

TE Scott Sicko (New Hampshire)

WR Terrell Hudgins (Elon)

S Barry Church (Toledo)

WR Verran Tucker (California)

Positions of need:

Offensive Tackle:

The Cowboys need depth all along their offensive line. Their lack of depth was shown in the playoffs when Tony Romo was sacked 6 times by the Vikings after the Cowboys suffered a few injuries up front. Also, everyone on their offensive line is over 30 so young depth is clearly necessary. Offensive tackle just happens to be the most important offensive line position. The Cowboys like bigger offensive linemen so guys like Anthony Davis in the first and Vlad Ducasse and Kyle Calloway in the 2nd could be targeted.

Drafted Sam Young (#179), Traded for Alex Barron

Middle Linebacker:

Keith Brooking had a good year, but he will turn 35 next season. Next to him in the middle of their 3-4 defense, Bradie James could also be upgraded immediately. Sean Weatherspoon and Brandon Spikes could be options in the first round.

Drafted Sean Lee (#55)

Offensive Guard:

Again, depth is needed all over their offensive line. The Cowboys reportedly love Mike Iupati and likely will take him at 27 if he’s available. He would be an immediate upgrade over Kyle Kosier at left guard.

Nose Tackle:

Jay Ratliff is a great player, but his skill set would be better utilized at 3-4 defensive end rather than nose tackle. If they get a true nose tackle, either Terrence Cody in the first or Cam Thomas in the 2nd, they can move Ratliff to end and it will make their entire defense that much better. Add a big nose tackle like Cody to the middle of their defense and it opens up more space for what was already one of the best pass rushes in the league.


Ken Hamlin could be upgraded and depth overall is needed at the position.

Drafted Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (#126)

Wide Receiver:

Patrick Crayton could be upgraded in the slot and I am not sure how much longer they want to give Roy Williams before they admit he was a bad trade and start someone else over him. Getting a young receiver this year could solve both of those issues.

Drafted Dez Bryant (#24)

Free agents:

WR Miles Austin (restricted)- tendered (1st, 3rd)

WR Sam Hurd (restricted)- resigned 1 year 1.7 million

OT Flozell Adams

OT Pat McQuistan (restricted)- resigned 1 year 1.1 million

G Montrae Holland- 2 years

G Cory Procter (restricted)- resigned 1 year 1.7 million

C Duke Preston (restricted)

3-4 DE Marcus Spears (restricted)- resigned 1 year 1.2 million

3-4 DE Stephen Bowen (restricted)- resigned 1 year 1.7 million

3-4 DE Jason Hatcher (restricted)- resigned 1 year 1.7 million

NT Junior Siavii (restricted)- resigned 1 year 1.2 million

RLB Steve Octavien (restricted)- resigned

S Ken Hamlin

S Gerald Sensabaugh (restricted)- tendered (2nd)

S Pat Watkins (restricted)- resigned 1 year 1.1 million

S Alan Ball (exclusive rights)- resigned

K Shaun Suisham (restricted)

Offseason moves:

Cowboys acquire OT Alex Barron from Rams for OLB Bobby Carpenter

Cowboys announce retirement of C Duke Preston

Cowboys re-sign G Montrae Holland

Cowboys re-sign S Alan Ball

Cowboys re-sign WR Sam Hurd

Cowboys re-sign S Pat Watkins

Cowboys re-sign 3-4 DE Stephen Bowen

Cowboys re-sign 3-4 DE Jason Hatcher

Cowboys re-sign NT Junior Siavii

Cowboys re-sign OT Pat McQuistan

Cowboys re-sign 3-4 DE Marcus Spears

Cowboys re-sign RLB Steve Octavien
Cowboys cut S Ken Hamlin

Cowboys cut OT Flozell Adams

Cowboys re-sign G Cory Procter

Cowboys tender S Alan Ball

Cowboys tender RLB Steve Octavien

Cowboys tender WR Miles Austin

Cowboys tender S Gerald Sensabaugh

Cowboys tender 3-4 DE Marcus Spears

Cowboys tender 3-4 DE Jason Hatcher

Cowboys tender OT Pat McQuistan

Cowboys tender NT Junior Siavii

Cowboys tender S Pat Watkins

Cowboys tender G Cory Procter

Cowboys tender WR Sam Hurd

Cowboys tender 3-4 DE Stephen Bowen

Who Can Cure the Cowboys' Field Goal Woes?

by Aaron Novinger

One of the weakest positions on the Cowboys' 2009 squad was at placekicker. A bad case of the yips forced Dallas to say good-bye to former Pro Bowl kicker Nick Folk in December. And then the same ills affected his replacement, Shaun Suisham. The team neglected to re-sign him after the season's end.

The Browns recently waived former Alabama kicker Leigh Tiffin and signed Suisham. Another kicker of name to come out of college this year was Texas' Hunter Lawrence, who signed with the Buccaneers after the draft.

Dallas had their chance to draft either one of those guys in April, but seems content with David Buehler. His progress has been steady, and he has been learning what he can from kicking coach Chris Boniol to be a more fundamentally sound placekicker.

Buehler described his own talent as "raw," since he didn't start kicking until his senior year in high school and didn't have a kicking coach at the University of Southern California. Even without individual instruction, Buehler was fairly successful at USC. He made 78.8 percent of his field goals during two seasons as a starter, and was an All-Pac 10 first-team choice in 2008.

King Felix's legs

by Adam Levitan

We no longer have to cautiously speculate about Felix Jones’ potential ascension to the top of the Cowboys’ depth chart. It’s official -- Felix is the man.

Now there’s really only one question: Can he stay healthy?

We know what Jones can do when he’s on the field. An explosive runner at the point of attack, Jones is a big play waiting to happen. Over his two-year career, he’s averaging 6.5 yards per carry. He’s entering his prime for a running back at age 23. And to top it off, Jones didn’t suffer a decline in his per-touch numbers last season (including playoffs) when he was leaned on heavier:

* 14.7 carries for 91.5 yards, 6.20 YPC; 2.0 catches, 16.2 yards; 0.5 touchdowns per game

* 7.2 carries for 41.6 yards, 6.16 YPC; 1.2 catches, 8.8 yards; 0.1 touchdowns per game

The problem is that Jones has been injury prone -- a trait that will only be exacerbated by an increased workload. He’s just one of those guys that every time he goes down you cringe and wait to see if he gets back up (maybe that’s just me).

Jones bruised his calf in Week 3 of his rookie year, 2008. He then missed two weeks with a strained hamstring in October. His season ended prematurely on injured reserve after tearing a ligament in his toe. Last season, he missed two weeks with a sprained PCL.

The injury risk is real. But so is Jones’ upside. He’s running behind a massive offensive line on a team that should be among the league leaders in offensive yardage per game. Yeah, Marion Barber is going to stick as the goal-line guy and Tashard Choice will be the main third-down back. But Jones can do enough with 14-17 touches that he’ll be a high risk, high reward pick for owners willing to gamble on his health.

USA Today: Dallas Cowboys Team Report

When Roy Williams was guaranteed a starting job in February by team owner Jerry Jones, it was assumed that Williams was getting a free pass and wasn't being held accountable.
At the time, Jones knew that Williams was getting beat up far and wide by fans and the media for a subpar season so he didn't need to beat him up anymore.

He was trying to support him.

Still, Jones rendered any questions of a free pass for Williams moot when he picked Dez Bryant in the first round of the NFL draft.

If there were any concerns about Williams being properly motivated to get his act together, there are none now.

Williams said he is ready for any and all challenges.

"I'm in it to win it. If somebody can pull in here and take my spot, they've got to be a baaaad man," Williams said with emphasis. "It's mine to lose, I guess you can say. I'm not going to do that. The competition level is going to be high."

Williams backed up his words during the first week of OTAs. He is in great shape. He was making great coaches and showing an improved chemistry with quarterback Tony Romo.

"He is in good shape, he's running good routes, he's doing good things," Romo said.

Said cornerback Mike Jenkins: "Roy came out on fire. That's the best I've seen Roy since he got here. He looked like a No. 1 receiver."

Dropped passes and a lack of production were part of Williams disappointing 2009 season. He understands why the fans are down on him. He has resolved to change that.

"I promise you I won't lead the league in drops. I know that," Williams said. "People are off my bandwagon, which I don't mind. I'd be off my bandwagon, too."

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has certainly taken notice.

"His weight's really good, he looks quick and explosive, he's going to get the ball," Garrett said. "Like with everybody, it's a process that you're always trying to improve each and every day and it goes to your approach. And his approach has been outstanding."

Mosley: Inside the ropes with Tony Romo

By Matt Mosley

As some of you know, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo made it through the first round of qualifying for the U.S. Open, which will be played next month at Pebble Beach. Karen Crouse of the New York Times says that only three professional athletes from other major sports have competed in the U.S. Open: John Brodie, a 49ers quarterback in the 1960s; Sammy Byrd, a Yankees outfielder in the 1930s; and Bill Ezinicki, who finished his N.H.L. career with the Rangers in 1955.

Brodie actually had some success on the Senior Tour in the early 90s and it wouldn't surprise me if Romo tried to do the same -- 20 years from now. For the time being, he'll focus on the Cowboys' upcoming organized team activities this week. On Friday, though, he was following his 16-year-old pal Jordan Spieth as he made the cut at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in Irving, Texas.

I know there are a few Cowboys fans and even some reporters who wonder if Romo spends too much time on the course in the offseason. But as long as he doesn't miss any football workouts, I don't see why it's a problem. And you can rest assured that owner Jerry Jones loves seeing Romo show up on "SportsCenter" for his golf exploits.

And if Romo happens to qualify for the U.S. Open, I'm sure he'll turn to the NFC East blog for some tips. I played the course with him in 2005 when the Cowboys made a West Coast trip to play the 49ers and Raiders. I've conveniently misplaced the scoreboard, but I believe Romo shot a 74, punter Mat McBriar carded an 85, Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News had a 93 and a birdie on No. 8 helped me avoid triple digits.

By the way, Drew Bledsoe canceled on us at the last minute, which may or may not have led to his demise with the Cowboys. For more on my round with Romo, stay tuned to the Golf Channel.

Grading the ‘Boys, Part VIII: Defensive Line

We were going to analyze the film and statistics of the outside linebackers for this installation of “Grading the ‘Boys,” but the recent trade rumors surrounding Marcus Spears pushed us to do the defensive line instead. We wanted to determine how effective Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher were in 2009, giving us a better sense of why Dallas may have been interested in unloading Spears.

Grading defensive linemen is difficult due to the variety of roles that each player can fill. The statistics among players at other positions are generally comparable due to the equality of their on-field duties. For example, whether the Cowboys have Alan Ball or Michael Hamlin in the game at free safety, their duties will likely be the same.

The rotation that is employed amongst defensive linemen, however, creates more situational roles for each player. Defensive ends Igor Olshanksy and Marcus Spears, for example, are on the field a lot more during run downs than pass downs. Thus, their statistics are not necessarily 100 percent compatible with those of Jason Hatcher and Stephen Bowen.

To combat this potential problem, we will weight each player’s overall grade to more properly reflect their personal contributions and duties. The run and pass defense grades for both nose tackles (Jay Ratliff and Junior Siavii) will be weighted equally in determining their final grades. For defensive ends Spears and Olshansky, it will be 3:2 run-to-pass, and for Hatcher and Bowen it will be 3:2 pass-to-run.

As always, the charts below display the best statistics within a particular group circled in blue, and the worst in red.


Nose Tackles

Jay Ratliff
Run Defense: B+

We really don’t need statistics to tell us how dominant of a player Jay Ratliff can be on the football field. Due to the nature of the position, nose tackles generally have a tough time racking up statistics. Their primary goal is to eat up blocks and allow the linebackers to make plays.

Ratliff is so dominant, though, that he is able to overcome these limitations. He is very “undersized” for a nose tackle, but uses his speed and athleticism to gain an advantage on blockers. Pass-rushers gain glory through acquiring sacks, but Ratliff is just as solid against the run.

Pass Defense: B+

As you can see, Ratliff’s sack rate of .82 percent was the highest of any Cowboys’ defensive lineman in 2009 (including the ends). We know he would like to improve upon both that number and his total quarterback hits and pressures, but he is no longer an unknown commodity. Opposing coordinators game-plan for him, meaning his statistics are even more impressive when you take into account the constant double-teams he faces.

Note: If you are wondering why Ratliff didn’t receive an “A” in either category, it is because he committed eight penalties. Expect that number to decrease in 2010.

Junior Siavii
Run Defense: C+

Siavii’s snaps were certainly limited in 2009 (just 184 all season). Still, he was able to tally 12 tackles, or one on 6.52 percent of all plays. That is the best number of any Cowboys’ lineman, but it is important to remember that Siavii’s limited snaps mean he is always fresh and at full energy.

Pass Defense: D

Siavii really struggled against the pass last season. He was unable to record any sacks or quarterback hits, and just two quarterback pressures. The Cowboys could really be in trouble if Jay Ratliff gets injured for a significant period of time. The major drop-off from Ratliff to Siavii was probably a factor in the Cowboys drafting DE/DT Sean Lissemore.

Snaps: Spears-535, Bowen-478, Olshansky-648, Hatcher-386
Defensive Ends

Marcus Spears
Run Defense: B

Soon after drafting Spears, it was apparent that his forte is stuffing the run. His run defense is far superior to his pass-rushing ability, leaving some to label him as a ‘bust.’ It is the ability to stop the run, though, that allows guys like Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer to tee off on quarterbacks and rack up the sacks.

Spears’ tackle rate of 4.11 percent is solid, and he committed zero penalties all season.

Pass Defense: C-

Spears is out of the game in a lot of pass-rushing situations, so we would expect his pass defense numbers to be a bit down. Still, we would love to see him pressure the quarterback on more than 1.87 percent of all plays.

Stephen Bowen
Run Defense: C

Before watching the film, we thought Bowen was more stout against the run than what we ended up seeing. Bowen recorded just 13 tackles all year (only Hatcher’s tackle percentage was worse).

Pass Defense: B-

Bowen’s pass-rushing skills surprised us. His sack and quarterback hit percentages led all defensive ends, and he wasn’t far behind in quarterback pressures. He is a better rusher than Spears–perhaps one of the reasons the Cowboys were interested in trading Spears.

Igor Olshansky
Run Defense: A-

Olshansky was brought into Dallas to stop the run, and he did just that in 2009. He quietly was one of the Cowboys’ better free agent acquisitions in recent years. His 33 tackles are outstanding for a defensive end. We can count on one hand the number of times Olshansky got beat at the point-of-attack, meaning he often paved the way for the linebackers to make plays (in addition to his own).

Pass Defense: C-

There is no doubt that Olshansky is a run-stuffing specialist. His .62 quarterback hit percentage was the worst among defensive ends. Still, Olshansky isn’t on the field during passing situations, meaning whatever he lacks in pass-rushing skills he makes up for in his ability to stop the run.

Jason Hatcher
Run Defense: C-

We were quite disappointed with Hatcher’s 2009 performance against the run. Hatcher’s seven total tackles was worst among defensive ends and his 1.81 tackle percentage was by far the worst among all defensive linemen. Hatcher is a talented player, so we would expect these numbers to improve in 2010.

Pass Defense: B

We always say that quarterback pressures are more indicative of a pass-rusher’s success than sacks (as evidenced by Spencer’s long sack drought). Hatcher recorded only one sack last season, but he led the entire defensive line in quarterback pressures and quarterback pressure percentage. Simple regression to the mean tells us that if Hatcher gets 17 quarterback pressures again in 2010, he will undoubtedly acquire more than one sack.

Final Defensive Line Grades

1. Jay Ratliff B+ (87.0)

2. Igor Olshansky B (85.0)

T3. Jason Hatcher B- (80.2)

T3. Marcus Spears B- (80.2)

5. Stephen Bowen C+ (79.8)

6. Junior Siavii C- (71.0)

Overall, the Cowboys’ defensive line is adequate but not stellar. Nose tackle Jay Ratliff is an All-Pro player and nearly stoppable inside. With the attention he draws, you would hope the results of the defensive ends would be a bit better than what we observe.

Having said that, it is important for people to realize that 3-4 defensive ends are never going to put up big numbers. They are the offensive guards and centers of the defense–they are quite important, yet gain little respect.

The Cowboys addressed the defensive end spot in the seventh round with Sean Lissemore out of William & Mary. He is a high-motor guy who members within the organization are describing as “Ratliff-like.” If that is even close to being true, the Cowboys found a gem.

Lissemore should be able to contribute at all the defensive line spots. He could eventually become the primary backup to Ratliff inside.

With Spears, Bowen, and Hatcher all restricted free agents, expect defensive end to top the Cowboys’ list of needs for the 2011 draft.

Five Reasons the Dallas Cowboys Will Keep WR Patrick Crayton

by Daniel Wolf

Ever since the Dallas Cowboys drafted wide receiver Dez Bryant in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft, the writing was instantly on the wall for backup Patrick Crayton.

Or is it?

Crayton's name has been mentioned in many trade rumors, especially with the Cleveland Browns, who are rumored to be still searching for a veteran receiver to mentor their young receiver group.

Owner Jerry Jones has said that he will not trade anyone, but you can never believe want an NFL executive says when it comes to anything regarding the roster nowadays.

The following are five reasons that I believe will keep Crayton wearing the stars on his helmet for the 2010 season.

(1) Roy Williams' Performance is Not Certain

Ever since Williams came to the Cowboys (for way too much in what the Cowboys had to give up to get him) he has been less than spectacular.

Even though Williams and Miles Austin will most likely start off 2010 as the starters, Bryant may push Williams out of the starter role, which is all bad for Williams' future and he could become expendable.

In this possible scenario, Crayton's value is increased since he is more reliable than Williams as a slot receiver.

(2) Crayton is a Solid Slot Receiver

Crayton is one of the more effective slot receivers in the NFL and he even managed to amass more receiving yards than Williams and one less catch than Williams too.

When third down comes around, quarterback Tony Romo knows he can count on Crayton's sure hands to move the chains.

(3) Crayton is Affordable to Keep on the Roster

Prior to the 2008 season, Crayton signed a four-year deal worth up to $14 million with $6 million guaranteed.

At the halfway point in his contract, Crayton does not break the bank, even though there is no salary cap in 2010, but he is not getting paid top dollar so it makes sense to keep him around since players will and do get injured during the long NFL season.

(4) Crayton is Under Contract

Speaking of contract, Crayton is still under one, and that means the Cowboys do not have to do anything at all.

If Crayton wants to hold out, then he will only hurt his own future stock since he is already 31 years old and the job offers will become less and less as he gets older.

(5) Crayton Has Too Much Value as a Punt Returner Too

Obviously, running back Felix Jones could return punts since he already returns kicks, but rumors are saying that Jones may actually be on the top of the running back depth chart for 2010 and if this is the case, his other duties will lessen.

This makes Crayton valuable since he returned two punts for touchdowns in 2009 and the Cowboys need that playmaking talent to help position the offense with good field position and give them an edge in the return game, since he is a threat to take one to the house.

Final Thoughts

Crayton's versatility and ability to be very effective from the slot position makes in a very valuable commodity to the Cowboys.

Plus, if a team like the Browns really wanted Crayton, then they would have already made an offer for the veteran.

There is also the issue that Jerry Jones may want too much for Caryton which is understandable.

I think Crayton stays, but his future beyond 2010 all lies on the performance of Williams this year.

If Williams tanks, he goes and Crayton stays, but if Williams has a solid campaign then vice-versa.

Odds to Win the 2011 Super Bowl: Dallas Cowboys

by BigpoppaThaShowstoppa

The Dallas Cowboys' 12 to 1 odds to win the 2011 Super Bowl show that they're clearly considered major contenders, However, they'll need to make strides this season to avoid feeling major heat from their fans and front office.

Dallas didn't acquire much fresh talent in the offseason aside from drafting Dez Bryant, who may or may not be ready to contribute at the NFL level. But they'll still score plenty with Tony Romo under center and breakout star Miles Austin, not to mention reliable Jason Witten, catching passes. Felix Jones may get a chance to start on his own, though it's tough to say if his smallish build can handle that assignment.

Thanks to their offense and solid pass rush, the Cowboys should be in the NFC playoff mix again.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

RB competition in Dallas is a luxury battle

Cowboys have plenty of options with Jones, Barber and Choice.
by Matt Bowen

One position down in Dallas to keep an eye on throughout OTAs and into the first couple of weeks of training camp is the running back position. A loaded backfield with plenty of options. How many teams in this league would want to have a position battle with this depth?

We all know that owner Jerry Jones is a big fan of Felix Jones, and why not? One of the more explosive offensive talents in this league and a perfect fit for the screen and Lead Draw packages of Jason Garrett’s offense down in Dallas.

But, that shouldn’t take away from what Marion Barber can do when he does get his pads square to the line of scrimmage. I still see him as the ideal running back for any scheme that requires the RB to take the ball deep in the backfield, hit the hole and break a tackle. The guy just runs, well, angry when I see him play. I want that in my running back. The numbers were down in ’09? OK, but this is a guy who still gave the ‘Boys close to four and a half yards per carry last season—and close to 1,000-yards on the ground.

And, let’s not forget about Tashard Choice. The former Georgia Tech RB was the main reason I thought Dallas would at least dangle Barber’s name out there in trade discussions before the draft, because he does run hard and can act as a second option to Jones. A solid young back.

We have grown accustomed to seeing two-man rotations in the backfields of NFL clubs over the past couple of years. In Dallas, it is a three-man rotation, but there still needs to be that one guy, someone we can at least call the “feature back,” when this offense and QB Tony Romo need a play.

Jones told David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, “Right now, my job is to get better and make my team better, prepare myself for this upcoming season.''

A professional response when asked about the competition for the starting gig, and what we should expect a player to say in late May.

I agree it is way to early to even speculate on this position battle, but it is one to think about as summer rolls on and the when these players get into pads come August. And, it is just another reason to like Dallas heading into 2010. You need depth at the running back position to make a long post season run--something I expect the Cowboys to do.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Brooking Likes What He Sees In Sean Lee

Posted by jellis at 5/20/2010 8:35 PM CDT

Before getting directions home from Cowboys Stadium on Thursday, linebacker Keith Brooking dished on a player who has been compared to him often over the last month, a guy who's even newer in town, Sean Lee.

The rookie's size, passion for the game and smarts are reminiscient of Brooking's, something Wade Phillips couldn't help but acknowledge on draft weekend.

Brooking sees it too.

"I've been around him for a few days and I see that he's a very intense player," Brooking said. "He plays the game 100 miles an hour, and that's the way it's supposed to be played. He's very talented. He's an intelligent football player, I think he's picked up the defense fairly easily considering what they've thrown at him in this three-day period.

"He has a lot of room for improvement, but I see that he has a lot of potential as well. When you have that potential and his work ethic, there's a pretty good chance he's going to be a heck of a player in this league."

Brooking, who is missing OTAs after knee surgery, said he's making himself available to help young inside linebackers Lee and Jason Williams in the meantime.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Dallas Cowboys: Best Players of the 2000's

A Decade of Dallas Cowboys
by Bryan Mckinley

For the Dallas Cowboys, the only thing that matters is championships. In the 2000's, the Cowboys haven't won any of three playoff games, yet alone a championship. With 2009 winding down, they have a good shot of getting one last chance at success this decade. If recent past history is any indicator, the Cowboys will find a way to fall apart when the pressure is on. During the past ten seasons, the Cowboys might have fallen short of their goals, but they don't lack serious talent. Out of all the players that wore a Dallas Cowboys jersey, these are the best five of the 2000's. (Only accomplishments and stats while playing for the Dallas Cowboys from 2000-2009 were considered.)

1. Demarcus Ware - Ware has only been a Dallas Cowboy for five years, yet he is the best Dallas Cowboys player of the past decade. In those five seasons, he accumulated 64.5 sacks and 23 forced fumbles. If you were to start building a defense and you could pick any player in the NFL to build around, Demarcus Ware would be a pretty good choice.

2. Jason Witten - The second best Dallas Cowboys player from the past decade is their reliable tight end. Witten has played his whole career with the 'Boys, hauling in over 500 catches, for over 5,700 yards and 26 touchdowns in seven seasons. He seems to be just coming into his prime as he has had at least 80 receptions in the past three seasons. If Witten remains a Cowboy for the rest of his career, he will leave all former Dallas Cowboys' tight ends in the dust. He is already considered by many to be the best Dallas Cowboys tight end of all-time; a few more years are only going to make that set in stone.

3. Tony Romo - Unfortunately Tony Romo sometimes seems to be mentioned more for what he has done wrong or hasn't done, than for the stellar seasons he has had for the Cowboys. Sure Romo has struggled in December, has yet to lead the Cowboys to a post season victory and made an all-time memorable flub as a kick holder in a wild card playoff game, but none of that stuff takes away what he has accomplished. Romo has been with the Cowboys since 2005 and has been their starting quarterback for the past four seasons. In those four seasons, he has passed for over 14,000 yards and 104 touchdowns. He also has a 95.6 QB rating which is the second best among quarterbacks that have played at least three seasons this past decade!

4. Greg Ellis - Ellis had been with the Dallas Cowboys from 1998- 2009. From the years 2000-2009, the consistent defensive end racked up 66.5 sacks.

5. Terence Newman - Newman has been a shutdown cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys ever since they drafted him in 2003. In his seven seasons for the Dallas Cowboys, he has over 400 tackles and 22 interceptions.

Giants' main competitors have taken steps to address problems

by Vinnie Iyer
a writer for Sporting News

In contrast to the Giants, who are trying to rediscover their M.O. and mojo alike, the NFC East's other three teams seemingly already have tangible answers to pressing issues:

Dallas Cowboys
Last year's problem: Protecting Tony Romo. Romo's uncanny mobility and quick release helped limit his sacks to 34 in the regular season, but the last image was of him being dropped six times in the playoff loss at Minnesota.

This year's solution: The offensive line as a whole isn't much of a concern. It's a terrific run-blocking unit; it just needed a more regular dose of athleticism. Releasing left tackle Flozell Adams, 35, and replacing him with Doug Free, 26, is the key move.

Philadelphia Eagles
Last year's problem: Giving up big plays. There's no doubt with young stars such as LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek, Philadelphia has a great big-play offense. Unfortunately, occasional lapses from their linebackers and secondary led to yielding backbreaking long passes and runs.

This year's solution: With the first four of their 13 draft picks, the Eagles selected two defensive ends, a cornerback and a safety, intent on upgrading both their pass rush and coverage. The healthy return of middle linebacker Stewart Bradley, their best rangy tackler, also will help.

Washington Redskins
Last year's problem: Moving the ball and scoring. Washington ranked 22nd in yardage and 26th in scoring in 2009. The offensive line might've been the worst in the league, allowing 46 sacks and averaging only 3.9 yards per carry.

T. Choice: Dez good, but Sean Lee is very impressive!

Tashard Choice has been tweeting, and Wed night when asked: "Who's been the biggest surprise so far?"

Choice: "a lot of rookies are good dez looked good but I'm really impressed with sean the lb"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Grading Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo's 2009 Performance

by Jonathan Bales
Written on May 19, 2010

Thus far, we have dissected the ‘09 play of the Cowboys players at every position other than quarterback.

We saved the best for last.

Grading quarterback is much different than doing so for the other positions in that statistics, while plentiful for the position, are less indicative of a quarterback’s success than for other players. The primary responsibility of a quarterback is to lead his team to victory, no matter what it takes. Some quarterbacks put up huge numbers, but simply are not winners.

Tony Romo is not one of those quarterbacks. Yes, he has the ability to put up flashy stats, but he is also a tremendous leader. While that statement is far from a consensus opinion, particularly among ill-informed fans, we whole-heartedly believe it to be the case. If you doubt the commitment of Romo to the Dallas Cowboys, read here.

Nonetheless, we have compiled a wide range of statistics and analysis on Romo’s play in 2009. Some of these numbers are taken from previous articles, and some are unique. These numbers (representing on-field play), though, will only make up half of our final grade for Romo. The other half will consist of leadership and intangibles.

Grades -Tony Romo

On-field Play: A

There is really no doubting that Tony Romo is an immensely talented quarterback. In 2009, he threw for 4,483 yards and 26 touchdowns. More importantly, however, he threw only nine interceptions all season, including just six over the final 14 games. Romo also fumbled just six times less than any other season of his career. This ability to protect the football was the primary reason for the success of the Cowboys last season.

Below are a few notes regarding Romo’s success in various situations last season.

Romo was surprisingly off-target the most when throwing to the right side of the field (23.3%), compared to the middle (18.2%) and left (21.5%).

Despite this, Romo had higher passer rating when throwing to the right side of the field as compared to the middle or left (shown in the chart below).

In the no-huddle offense, Romo averaged just 5.77 yards-per-attempt (excluding spikes)–far worse than his 8.15 overall yards-per-attempt.

Romo is generally successful in making audibles, particularly when he read blitz, averaging 1.9 “extra” yards-per-rush and 1.5 “extra” yards-per-pass.

Romo is much more efficient with Jason Witten in a route, averaging 9.4 yards-per-attempt when in those situations, compared to just 7.4 when Witten stays in to block.

Romo is only slightly more effective on play-action passes compared to regular drop-backs (8.3 yards-per-attempt compared to 8.1). He is 3.23 times as likely to throw a screen pass following play-action as he is to do so on a straight drop-back.

Leadership/ Intangibles: A-

Again, Romo is a very good leader. While not an extremely vocal player, he lets his play speak for itself. He is also perhaps the team’s hardest-working player. When that label goes to your team’s biggest superstar, you know the path is set for the rest of the players to follow.

Overall Grade: A (94.0)

Romo will never be able to fully escape criticism–that simply comes with the territory of playing quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. However, to those watching carefully, it is apparent that the Cowboys have secured one of the league’s top signal-callers.

Without Romo, where would the Cowboys be? Sometimes it is difficult to realize how special someone is until you lose them. Michael Irvin perhaps put it best when he said:

Can we get Drew Bledsoe back out here (for) just a week so you guys can really fall back in love with Tony? Let’s put Drew Bledsoe back out here, because sometimes when you have a pretty girl for awhile, you forget how pretty she is. But when you throw the ugly girl next to her, you say, ‘No, I’m really doing well.’ Maybe we need to bring Drew out so we know we’re really doing well.

Irvin is right. Let’s not let Romo’s consistency tarnish our love for what we brings to the table year in and year out. To further jog your memory on what it is like to have an “ugly girl” at quarterback, take a look at the list of Cowboys’ starting quarterbacks between Troy Aikman and Romo.

Quincy Carter
Anthony Wright
Ryan Leaf
Clint Stoerner
Chad Hutchinson
Vinny Testaverde
Drew Henson
Drew Bledsoe
Brad Johnson

Anyone else think Tony Romo is a little more “beautiful” right about now?

Seven Training Camp Battles For The Dallas Cowboys Offense

by One.Cool.Customer

In his press conference after the first day of OTAs Coach Wade Phillips formulated what may be the theme of this year's training camp activities:

"Competition makes you better. The real good guys compete all the time, and they're competing with themselves trying to get better. The Tony Romos of the world, those kind of guys. There won't be anybody coming in and beating him out, but he’s competing all the time to try to get better."

For all others, training camp means other guys competing for your job, according to Coach Phillips.

"Some guys are more motivated by somebody else being there. You'd like them all to be self-starters [and be] guys that compete to get better all the time, but it doesn’t always happen. So if you have competition at any position it certainly helps."

Competition is the name of the game for Cowboys Training camp, but the players may end up battling more than just other players. Here are some of the training camp battles on offense to look forward to:

1. Wide Receivers vs. The Depth Chart

Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Roy Williams are locks and Kevin Ogletree has a good shot, but all bets are off as to who goes where on the depth chart.

Let's assume the Cowboys keep only five wide receivers. Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd have both asked to be traded. Hurd could be let go. Crayton may still have a great deal of value for the team, but it looks unlikely that he can overcome his wounded pride. That leaves one spot on the depth chart for any of the following players:

Manuel Johnson and Jesse Holley have had a year on the practice squad to hone their craft, and did that so well that the coaching staff awarded them the game balls after a victory over Philadelphia. Apparently, the coaches credit their work as a key factor in the team limiting DeSean "sting they ass" Jackson to three catches for 47 yards.

Titus Ryan was brought in primarily as a return guy but his speed has coaches turning their heads so fast they might develop whiplash before TC even starts.

Verran Tucker, Terrell Hudgins and Rashaun Greer are all UDFAs who will give it everything they've got to make the roster.

2. The O-Line vs. Hudson Houck

Romo cannot be allowed to fight for his life because the O-Line isn’t holding up. The Cowboys have all these shiny toys on offense, but to use them, the line needs to protect the quarterback. Houck needs to get at least one more solid season out of the four returning veteran starters, decide on a left tackle, sort out the backup situation and determine who is best suited for the 45-man roster on gameday.

Houck said on the offensive line makeup in 2010:
"I'm kind of excited about it. I think this is great thing to watch. This is fun. This is about competing. This is about team play. This is about somebody stepping up and taking a job. I'm really excited. I hope you guys are too."
3. Cowboys vs. Penalties

The Cowboys tied for third with Philadelphia and Baltimore in the NFL with 115 penalties last season, three penalties behind league leaders Green Bay, and ranked fifth in penalty yards. And if you think that releasing Flozell Adams will solve the penalty issue, then think again, because the issue is much more systemic.

No other team has a longer active streak of being in the league top 10 in penalty yards than the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are the only team to finish in the top ten for four consecutive seasons (2006-2009), and are also the only team with a four year active streak of 800 or more penalty yards. Runners up with active streaks of three consecutive seasons: the Packers and the Raiders.

4. Dez Bryant vs 1st Round Expectations

The last two wide receivers the Cowboys selected in the first round were Michael Irvin in 1988 and Alvin Harper in 1991. And if that doesn't set the bar high enough for Dez Bryant, why not give him the number 88 jersey as well? Way to manage fan expectations, Mr. Jones.

5. Stephen McGee vs. The Clipboard

So far, McGee did a bang-up job as a clipboard holder, but he wants and needs to show more in 2010. McGee did see action as the scout-team QB, and his spot looks pretty safe for 2010 behind John Kitna, who by the way didn't get any younger last year. But McGee needs to show that he has progressed to where he at least is an adequate backup or he might not make into his third season in Dallas. Matt Nichols' chances of making the roster are slim at best.

6. TE vs FB vs. H-Back vs. Offensive Shemes

With the success of the 2 TE set last season, a resurrection of the H-back position (possibly at the expense of the fullback) may not be completely out of the question, and no, H-Back is not a halfback. H-Back is a hybrid position, a cross between a tight end and fullback. The H-back can line up in the backfield or on the line or be sent in motion, and some might argue that Bennett last year was more successful as a H-back than as a pass-catching TE, but that’s a whole different subject.

The Cowboys are already stacked at TE with Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett and John Phillips, yet saw fit to invite not one but three more TEs to camp in Scott Sicko, Nick Tow-Arnett and Chris Gronkowski.

A lot of tight ends are either finesse, pass-receiver types of tight ends or they're blockers. All three Cowboys UDFAs do both pretty well and would fit the mold of a fullback/H-back/tight end hybrid.

Here’s a quote from Scott Sicko directly:

Q: Do you think you could play both a "move" tight end like an H-back as well as an in-line tight end? What about fullback?

Sicko: I don’t really like to put labels on myself like that. The only reason for that is because it doesn’t matter to me. I would just like to be part of a team. I will be more than happy at any of those positions and which ever one I am at, I will give it my best effort to perform well.
Depending on how training camp shakes out, there might be one additional spot available for a fourth tight end. Strangely enough, this most likely hinges on whether David Buehler can be successful as a place kicker, thus opening up one additional roster spot.

7. David Buehler vs The Uprights

Right now the coaching staff is favoring David Buehler to take over field goal duties, and potentially free up a roster spot. In his last season at USC, Buehler made 9 of 13 field goal attempts for a FG percentage of 69%. Not great, but definitely an improvement of the combined 64.5% of Nick Folk and Shaun Suisham. The Cowboys have hired Chris Boniol to help him, but have so far also retained Connor Hughes. Just in case.

What are the battles you'll be keeping an eye on in OTAs and training camp, and why?

Potential Landing Spots for Patrick Crayton

AUTHOR: thelandryhat
By: Joe D.

This will read like a love song to Patrick Crayton. Crayton has been a consumate professional during his tenure with Dallas. While he may have opened his mouth at times, I never objected to his statements. Crayton was originally drafted in the 7th round in 2004. He has been remarkably productive for a late round pick, especially since he has been demoted at every opportunity.

Crayton has limited value in regards to trade value. It’s not outside the rhealm of possibility, however. He has a managable contract, and can play a variety of positions, from punt returner, slot receiver, and #2 WR. A team won’t trade for him since he will probably be cut (barring injury to the other WR’s on the staff). Why pay for something that you can otherwise get free.

Crayton isn’t the fastest, biggest, tallest, nor most talented player on the field (unless he’s coaching pee-wee football). He has good hands, and runs solid routes. He doesn’t give up on plays (regardless of the counter argument that he gave up on the route against the Giants in the playoffs). He is a solid veteran who has several years of productivity remaining.

Crayton is not participating in organized team activities. This is a benefit for him as he will avoid injury. It’s a benefit to the Cowboys who will be able to funnel additional repetitions to younger players. Some may view Crayton as throwing a tantrum, but this is as far from the truth as possible.

Ideally for Crayton, he will land with a competitive team in need of depth at the WR position. Barring injury to starting players, I actually see him landing with a team with young WR’s where Crayton will act as a mentor while providing production on the field. The following are potential landing spots for Crayton based upon the above criteria.

Bengals: Cincy added Matt Jones and Antonio Bryant. The Bengals have been a repository for former Cowboys. With the two WR’s that were added, Crayton would certainly be a stabilizing force. At least he would be eligible to play throughout the entire year. I doubt Cincy is an option.

Browns: The Browns have Cribbs as their return man. While the Browns have purged their talent (Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow) recently, they have drafted several young players, Mohamed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, etc. This wouldn’t be a perfect fit for Crayton, but I certainly could see him being productive for several years while mentoring the Browns young talent. Robiskie is the son of former Redskins Head Coach, Terry Robiskie. He is fundamentally sound, but lacked production. I think this would be an ideal landing for Crayton. The quarterback situation in Cleveland is less than desirable. Crayton is a veteran WR, 31 years old, and he may not have enough time left in his career to wait for Colt McCoy to become a competent QB.

Steelers: The Steelers fans hate the Cowboys and their fans. Those who are ignorant of this fact and root for the Steelers are excused. Now that you know, you have to decide on the Cowboys or the Steelers. You can’t be fans of both teams (you hear that Sean Lee, Lee’s family and my brother). Otherwise, the Steelers have shipped out a Super Bowl MVP, Santonio Holmes, and Limas Sweed suffered an achilles injury. Certainly the Steelers now have a void. They presently have ten WR’s on their roster, so it is not an imperative that they add additional talent. Crayton would certainly prefer moving to a championship caliber team, but I doubt the the Steelers have a significant interest in Crayton.

Texans: The Texans only have 7 listed WR’s, though Dorin Dickerson is a TE. Considering that, they only have 6 WR’s, of which Andre Johnson is the only feared WR. Jacoby Jones is a talented speedster that has minimal production over the past three years. He may be on the verge of a breakout like Miles Austin had last year, but this may be a good landing spot for Crayton. Houston is close to Dallas (if he elected to commute), and they have a good QB.

Jaguars: The Jaguars have several no name WR’s (as they cut Torry Holt). The Jags best WR, Mike Sims-Walker, was equally as productive as Crayton in 2009. I think Crayton would be a good addition to the Jags roster, though I believe the Jags are more interested in developing their young talent like Mike Thomas and Jarett Dillard. If they wanted a veteran presence on the team, they would have kept Holt who had a sub-par year.

Bills: Terrell Owens found refuge in Buffalo last year. Crayton won’t be as lucky. The Bills don’t have a dynamic passing game, and he would be buried on the play progression. Running game would be pre-dominant, then
the first look to Evans, then Reed, and then the QB is sacked.

Dolphins: Both Parcells and Sparano are familiar with Crayton. The Dolphins traded for Brandon Marshall and
Davone Bess had a breakout season (76 receptions, 758 yards). There may be room for Crayton as a slot WR, but I think the Dolphins would consider bring Crayton in if they were competing for a Super Bowl. I think they are a few years away from competing at a high level.

Patriots: Crayton would be an upgrade over Julian Edelman as a slot WR. Wes Welker will be rehabbing for much of the season from his knee injury. While Crayton wouldn’t be expensive, I don’t see the Patriots paying three players for one position on the team. Most may see depth, though I think the Patriots see redundancy. As a side note, I was pleased that Isaiah Stanback only had 3 receptions last year with the Patriots. That’s not sour grapes towards Stanback, but it would have killed me a little if this was a repeat of Jimmy Smith.

Raiders: The Raiders would be well served to have someone on their team who can find the holes in zone coverage and can catch the ball. I hear Crayton runs a 4.5 forty time, which is about .2 seconds too long for the Raiders.

Bears: Crayton would be a welcome addition to a team with questionable talent at the WR position. Knox is a speedster; Hester is productive; but two of their top three receivers were a TE and RB. If Favre doesn’t return to the Vikings, the division will be up for grabs, and Chicago could compete with for the division.

Panthers: The Panthers have a mix of youth and veterans to mentor the former. Crayton will not be singing Sweet Caroline, unless he goes to a Pitt game.

Buccaneers: The Bucs drafted Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams. With Antonio Bryant not being signed, their
remaining WRing crew totaled 47 receptions. Crayton would be a welcome addition the Buc’s QB, Josh Freeman. One questions for the Bucs, why would you take a WR who quit on his team in the 3rd round. He may have been the most talented player to come out of Buffalo in a long time, but isn’t that like being the prettiest leper?

Redskins: If the Redskins were to sign both Crayton and Terrell Owens, they would certainly look for revenge against the organization who choose ROY WILLIAMS over both of them. The Redskins have young WR’s (Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas), but they aren’t feared. They have old WR’s (Joey Galloway, Santana Moss), but they aren’t feared. Crayton would certainly receive some playing time considering that group. I could see Crayton in a Redskin uniform, though it would break my heart just a bit. I feel no pity for McNabb, but I almost hope (almost), that he has at least one target besides Cooley who will catch the ball.

Rams: Crayton would be a solid #2 WR across from Donnie Avery. Danny Amendola (43 receptions, 326 yards) would stay in the slot. This would be a god awful situation for Crayton considering a rookie QB and a losing franchise.

And the least likely option is:

Cowboys: Presently on the Cowboys roster are Miles Austin (who has a history of injuries), Roy Williams (who has a history of underachieving), Dez Bryant (who has no history at the pro-level), Sam Hurd (top special teamer with limited offensive production), Kevin Ogletree (impressive 2nd year player with quickness and body control), Jesse Holley (Larry Fitzgerald hair twin), Manuel Johnson (7th round selection and practice squad member in 2009), and Ryan Titus (undrafted free agent in 2007). With the Cowboys having Super Bowl aspirations, parading Roy Williams and Jesse Holley in a division match-up late in the season does not sound appealing at all. Ogletree can play the slot if called upon. He is quick and fast and has developed a rapport with Romo in a short period of time. Depth is not a problem for the Cowboys, so it is unlikely Crayton will be retained.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Interview with Anthony Spencer!

By Gage • May 18, 2010

In 2007, the Dallas Cowboys used the 26th pick in the draft on defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid Anthony Spencer out of Purdue. With that came a player with a huge upside and all the talent in the world. This past year, he flashed what every Dallas fan had been hoping for. With 3 years under his belt, Spencer looks forward to dominating along with fellow outside linebacker Demarcus Ware, to give opposing quarterbacks fits.

In his rookie year, Spencer started 6 of the 16 games he played and acquired 3 sacks in his limited time. Along with the 3 sacks, he forced 2 fumbles and accumulated 36 tackles. In his second year, he suffered a bit of a setback with injuries as he played in just 12 games, getting 34 tackles and just 1.5 sacks. He was still able to show flashes of his playmaking ability.

All that came out in his 3rd and most recent season. He tallied 67 tackles with 6 sacks, 7 passes defended, 1 interception and 2 forced fumbles. He also led all linebackers with 26 quarterback hits. There’s definitely a lot to look forward to next season as a Dallas Cowboy fan. Two solid pass rushers playing across from each other, one of them being, arguably, the best, the other steadily improving.

Anthony Spencer took some time to answer some questions from the fans and here’s what he had to say.

Brandon Williams: You showed increasing flashes of superior sacking capability in 2009. What steps are you taking to be more consistent in that area and get to the next level?

Anthony Spencer: The only way that I see to be more consistent, is to be consistent in everything I do during the season. With workouts, practice, and film watching. It paid off for me at the end of the season.

BW: What aspects of the 3-4 do you like the best and/or dislike?

AS: I love the 3-4 defense because it gives outside linebackers lots of opportunities to make plays in the running and passing game.

BW: What made you elevate your play while playing against the Eagles?

AS: LOL. I guess I would have to say because that’s when it was down to the wire we need those games to get in the playoffs and then to move on to the next round.

BW: Would you like to see more corner/inside blitzes in the 2010 season to really give your opponents some heat, or do you think the blitz/coverage balance that Wade Phillips implemented last season served the defense well?

AS: I believe that Wade is a great coach and he knows his defense every well and will come up with some new types of blitzes to implement during the season because he does every year.

BW: After your surge at the end of last season, is it likely that you and Demarcus will tone down on switching at the line pre-snap now that offenses respect both of you? Or is this tactic mainly a confusion ploy as opposed to creating mismatches?

AS: I don’t believe that we will stop switching sides. That’s just our position, he plays the weak side and I play the strong.

BW: You excelled at run support all season, and hit the quarterback more than any other defensive player in the NFL. One question I have is how does your coverage skills compare to these other abilities in your opinion? I know you and Demarcus aren’t in coverage frequently so it was difficult for me to keep up with this aspect of your game. For a 3-4 OLB is coverage something that you even spend much time on in practice?

AS: Coverage is something we spend a fair amount of time on. I am in coverage more then Ware is because of the fact that I line up on the TE side and a lot of the time the backs come out of the back field to the strong side. I would say that my coverage skills are not perfect and it is a work in progress just like the rest of my game.

BW: Since we just finished up the Draft season… what was your draft experience like? What was your first thought when you got that phone call from Jerry?

AS: My draft experience was not too crazy. At the time I would have been happy to go anywhere, just to get that phone call was going to be enough for me. When it did ring, I was just excited for the opportunity to come to Dallas and play. I knew that Dallas was a well liked team, but I had no idea that the fans were the best fans anywhere. I found that out pretty quick when I got to training camp and the stadium was filled with people like there was a game going on.

BW: What is it like to play in the Palace in Dallas?

AS: Like I said to the last question, we have the best fans with the best stadium in the world. It is hard to compare with anything else. It’s definitely a must see in your life time.

BW: You play in what can be considered the toughest division in all of football, which of your division opponents do you love to play and why?

AS: I love playing against them all because there is so much rivalry between the teams and all the games matter so much if you want to make to the playoffs.

BW: What is it like playing with Demarcus Ware, and how has he helped you with your game?

AS: D. Ware is one of, if not the best pass rusher in the game right now. And I learn from him almost everyday we are on the field, from hand placement to where to step. There are so many little things that go into pass rushing, it’s hard not to take notes when watching him.

BW: You had more QB hits than any other player in the NFL, what can you do differently this year to get to the QB a half step quicker and pick up more sacks?

AS: Just start the way I finished last year, with being consistent in everything that I’m doing that relates to the game.

BW: You’ve played both DE and OLB and have proven to be able to play both very effectively. Which position do you enjoy playing more?

AS: I would have to say outside because I get to stand up and you can see the game much better. The way certain plays develop and you can get a good jump on things.

BW: Why are you such a ******?

AS: LOL. Lots of patience, listening, and hard work is the recipe.

BW: What can we expect from Anthony Spencer and the Dallas Cowboys this season?

AS: There is no staying the same in life. You’re either getting better or worse. The Cowboys and I are committed to getting better so that’s all I can really promise, is that we will be better than last year.

I want to thank Anthony for this awesome interview. He’s a great player and a great guy. I wish him the best of luck!
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Cowboys Unconcerned About Romo’s Blind Side

Source: Sporting News

Cowboys fans worry that new LT Doug Free(notes) isn’t up to the job of protecting QB Tony Romo’s(notes) blind side. Free, who started seven games at right tackle in ’09, is no lock to win the job but it is his job to lose. The Cowboys did trade for underperforming Alex Barron(notes), who started 74 games in St. Louis, to provide some camp competition.

"I think they just think it’s too good to be true," owner/G.M. Jerry Jones told the Dallas Morning News. "There wasn’t any dropoff when he stepped in for (Marc) Colombo. He changed our mind about him last season."

When Free, 26, took over for injured LT Flozell Adams(notes) in the playoffs, he was abused by Vikings All-Pro DE Jared Allen(notes). In all fairness, Free hadn’t had much practice at the position and was facing one of the NFL’s two best defensive ends.

"Fans don’t seem to care who’s at left tackle unless he’s a first-round pick," line coach Hudson Houck told the Morning News, "but Doug has everything you want in a tackle. He has good feet, he’s athletic, his arm length is 34 or 35 (inches), which is fine, and he’s a good run blocker and pass blocker."

A Vision Of The Future At Defensive End?

Posted by jellis at 5/17/2010 5:57 PM CDT on

Marcus Spears had an excused absence from Organized Team Activities on Monday, meaning backups Jason Hatcher and Stephen Bowen got extra work.

With more opportunities, the Cowboys could see either player as a starter. Jerry Jones issued that opinion back in February at the Scouting Combine, and both players received more valuable tenders than Spears on the eve of free agency.

When Spears returns on Tuesday as he's slated to do, he would presumably go back to the first team. Spears has said the Cowboys haven't had any dialogue about a long-term contract with his representation, the team maybe hesistant to sign him when they believe there are two potential first-teamers playing right behind him in Hatcher and Bowen.

"Both of them have been role players for us, but I think they can be more than that," Wade Phillips said. "They both have starter ability. Both of them can rush the passer, and I think that's a key. Any defensive lineman that can rush the passer is a bonus. They're getting better and better at that, and I think that's helped them and will help us."

Phillips identified Hatcher as the stronger run defender, though he said Bowen is good in his own way. The ability to hold up against the ground game would make Hatcher the more likely starter if the Cowboys ever had to make a decision.

Bowen tied Jay Ratliff for the third-most quarterback pressures on the team last year with 33, trailing only DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer.

Cowboys' version of spread offense


The beauty of a Super Bowl title, other than the shiny trophy, parade, adulation, endorsement opportunities, etc., is watching other teams scurry to emulate what you do best.

New Orleans is the NFL's gold standard when it comes to offense. The Saints spread the ball around in a democratic style that few teams can match.

The offense that comes closest belongs to the Cowboys. The same Cowboys who added receiver Dez Bryant and will incorporate the rookie into an offense that ranked No. 2 in the league last season.

Your move, Jason Garrett.

"I think Jason is very fortunate as a coordinator, we're very fortunate as a team, to have the options we have offensively," owner Jerry Jones said.

Bryant. Miles Austin. Roy Williams. Jason Witten. Martellus Bennett. Felix Jones. Marion Barber. Tashard Choice. These are the primary movers and shakers in the Cowboys' scheme.

Quarterback Tony Romo gets these players the ball. Garrett's charge is to determine how each of these weapons is used and how big a role they will play.

That begins to unfold at organized team activities this week at Valley Ranch.

"You're always going to feel like there is more meat on the bone for everybody," Garrett said. "Our tight end catches over 90 balls a year. Miles Austin stepped in and caught over 80 balls for more than 1,300 yards. The runners combined for over 2,000 yards, all of that stuff.

"In each of those cases, you could say, 'Hey, we can get that guy the ball more, that guy can be more productive.' Well, there are only so many plays in a game, there are only so many times the ball can get distributed to different guys. Everyone understands that, and our team has a great sense of unselfishness when it comes to that.

"Certainly, we want to get everyone as involved as possible," Garrett continued. "We want everybody to be as productive as possible, but that's not real life."

Real life is that Austin made the most of his opportunities, so he got 81 receptions while Williams got 38. Real life is Witten runs better routes, so he catches 94 balls while Bennett gets 15. Real life is that Choice is the third wheel in the ground game.

But that was last season. Romo will tell you the Cowboys offense doesn't pick up where it left off. It starts over. Each player has the opportunity to change his role.

But here's the key: Garrett can't make it about any individual. It must be framed in the context of the overall offense.

There is one noticeable difference in how the Saints and Cowboys distributed the ball last season. New Orleans had seven players catch at least 35 passes. Marques Colston led the team with 70.

Only four players caught at least 35 passes for the Cowboys. But the top of the scale was pushed out much further with Witten at 94.

As this offense evolves and incorporates Bryant, as Bennett carves a bigger role, you would anticipate the Cowboys' pattern would compress and look more like the Saints.

But that gets into ratios, and Garrett isn't a fan.

"I just think you've got to be careful saying this is what we want all of the ratios to be," Garrett said. "It's hard to do that before the season starts. A lot of that stuff evolves."

New Orleans was the only team to rank ahead of the Cowboys in total offense. The Saints and Cowboys were the only teams to rank in the top 10 in both rushing and passing.

The Cowboys rushed for 150 or more yards six times last season and threw for at least 300 yards eight times. The Cowboys led the league in plays of 10 or more yards and were second in plays of 20 or more yards with 75. Only Pittsburgh (77) had more.

All this, and the Cowboys ranked No. 14 in scoring. A Saints team that averaged only 4.4 yards a game more than the Cowboys averaged 9.3 points a game more.

The Cowboys were explosive when it came to moving the ball, but not explosive when it came to scoring. That's where Bryant and a more efficient red zone offense can help.

"An area we need to continue to emphasize is finishing those individual plays, turning those plays into touchdowns," Garrett said.

This is one area where the Cowboys want to be more like the Saints. They are already there in terms of balance and scheme.

"Now, can you say beforehand this is what it's all going to look like at the end?" Garrett asked. "I don't know that you can say that.

"But the big picture, the broad-stroke ideas are that we want to have that kind of balance and distribution."