Tag:Tony Romo
Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:45 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: NFC East preview

Can Jerry get Tony enough help in 2012? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas 2011 season reeked of redemption for a lost 2010 season much of the way through. Despite close (and awkward) losses to the Patriots, Jets and Lions, the Cowboys rolled into December on a four-game winning streak, with a shot at closing out the NFC East. Then things absolutely fell apart: Jason Garrett iced his own kicker in an overtime loss to Arizona, Tony Romo overthrew Miles Austin in a tight Week 14 loss to the Giants, Romo was injured the next week in a meaningless game against the Eagles and Dallas got pounded by the eventual Super Bowl champs on New Years Day. Then Jerry Jones team had to watch the 9-7 Giants march to a Super Bowl victory. Not a fun couple of months for them. And though most of the blame usually finds its way onto Romo or Garrett, significant upgrades on the offensive line and secondary could go a long way towards fixing the Cowboys problems and making them a legit contender.

Free Agents of Note
Linebacker Anthony Spencer was tagged on Monday by Dallas, so he'll be back at least one more year and could get a longer deal ... Tight end Martellus Bennett is a good blocker but hasn't panned out the way Dallas wanted ... Linebacker Keith Brooking is 36 but has drawn interest from Dallas to return in 2012 ... FB Tony Fiammetta is an RFA and needs to be retained, especially given the work he did for DeMarco Murray last year ... Linebacker Bradie James is 31 and could be gone ... Wide receiver Laurent Robinson really clicked with Tony Romo in 2012 and would be a big re-addition ... Punter Mat McBriar could be done in Dallas if the 'Boys want to move forward with Chris Jones.

Needs
Secondary
: Terence Newman, 33, could be a cap/age casualty and Abram Elam, Frank Walker and Alan Ball are free agents. If Dallas plans on remaining as aggressive as defensive coordinator Rob Ryan wants them to be, they'll need to drastically improve the secondary.
Guard
: Tyron Smith and Doug Free flipped sides and are locked in at tackle, but the interior of the line needs improvement.

Targets
Brandon Carr or Cortland Finnegan would be an ideal target for Dallas as longer-term options. Neither is expected to remain with their respective teams. But if the Cowboys can't get Carr, they'll need to pursue some shorter-term options like Carlos Rogers. Guard is deep in free agency too, and it would behoove the Cowboys to invest in a stud like Carl Nicks. Getting Spencer signed to a long-term deal, rather than give him $9 million in 2012, would do a lot for their cap space.

New York Giants

It's crazy to think that the Super Bowl champion Giants looked DOA by the start of the regular season; an almost unbelievable (were it not true) string of injuries hit the team before the season began. The Giants looked even worse off in the middle of a late-season swoon that featured some of the toughest

Free Agents of Note:
Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham is going to get overpaid somewhere else based on his postseason performance ... Secret Super Bowl hero Steve Weatherford got the franchise tag Monday, so he'll be back in 2012 ... Wideout Domenik Hixon's already been re-signed ... Cornerback Aaron Ross says he wants to return but won't commit to a "hometown" discount ... Terrell Thomas was lost in the preseason but is closing in on a deal with the Giants ... Deon Grant is scheduled for free agency as well ... Both Jake Ballard and Bear Pascoe tore their ACLs in the Super Bowl, so the Giants have to sign someone to play tight end ... Kareem McKenzie is 32-years-old and the Giants could be ready to move on after he struggled last season.

Needs
Tight End: This seems like a classic "address it at the end of the first round" issue, since the Giants could have their pick of Cody Fleener, Orson Charles and Dwayne Allen at No. 32. If not, they'll need to get someone from a not-so-attractive free agent pile.
Offensive Line: This is a unit that's getting older quickly. David Deihl can work anywhere on the line, but he's 31.
Secondary: If the Giants get Thomas, they could be fine here, as they've already got Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle. But last year proved how important depth really is, so it wouldn't be surprising to see them beef up the position.

Targets
The Giants are tight up against the salary cap this offseason, but are also coming off a year where they won the Super Bowl. The pressure isn't too intense on them to make a big splash with outside guys in free agency (nor should it be). If they can find value in a some cheaper offensive line options with a little upside (Geoff Schwartz anyone?) that would make the most sense in terms of an outside pick up.

Philadelphia Eagles

You know what happened here: a dream-team season quickly turned into a nightmare out of the gates, and the Eagles were the laughingstock of the NFL as they fell to 1-4. They finally turned things around with a four-game winning streak to close out at 8-8, giving Philly fans plenty of hope for 2012. (Not to mention helping Andy Reid's job security.) But there are still concerns here, because the Eagles have to get some linebackers and safeties in order to stop the run, manage their high-priced cornerbacks in a more efficient manner and keep Michael Vick from getting tattooed by opposing defenders. It's unlikely that Philly will make the same splash in free agency as they did in 2011, but that could actually be a good thing.

Free Agents: Running back Ronnie Brown might've thrown away (literally) any chance he had of returning to Philly ... DeSean Jackson got the franchise tag, and the team could still sign him long term or seek to trade him ... King Dunlap and Evan Mathis are both free agents on the offensive line; Mathis wants to return and should be priority No. 1 ... Trevor Laws, Juqua Parker and Derek Landri would depart the defensive line's depth if they all left ... Vince Young and Steve Smith, two big-name additions that didn't contribute much in 2011, seem likely to bolt.
Needs
Linebacker: Luke Koechly is the hot name for the Eagles in the draft, but his stock is rising and might not be available. Getting a middle linebacker who can stuff the run is absolutely essential for the Eagles defense in 2012. Adding some help at outside linebacker would be a bonus; acquiring linebackers isn't really Andy Reid's forte though.
Defensive Line Depth: The Eagles still have Mike Patterson, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin and Trent Cole starting, but as noted above, they're going to need depth to keep those guys fresh throughout the year.

Targets
Linebacker, as noted, is the biggest need. Fortunately for the Eagles, there are some nice names out there. Stephen Tulloch and Curtis Lofton represent pricier, albeit talented, options at middle linebacker. Dan Connor's a name that's been rumored with Philly and he could make sense as a run-stopping specialist who doesn't cost that much.

Washington Redskins

As Clark Judge recently wrote, the Redskins are running out of options for 2012. Either get Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III or prepare to move on from Mike Shanahan. They'll have their chance at each, as Manning will be a free agent soon and the Rams are willing to deal the No. 2 pick in April's draft. And the Redskins success really could come down to the quarterback position: if they can get Manning or RG3 and put suitable weapons around one of those guys (I personally prefer RG3 for them), Washington could net a few more wins and at least challenge for the division title that Rex Grossman guaranteed before 2011 started.

Free Agents
Fred Davis was franchised and remains the team's most explosive offensive weapon but he needs to stay out of trouble ... Tim Hightower fits what Mike Shanahan wants to do but wasn't as effect ... London Fletcher is old but remains effective and the Redskins need him back ... Rex Grossman seems destined to remain with Shanny forever, even if it's just on one-year deals ... Graham Gano was tendered and should be back ... Washington's already re-signed center Will Montgomery ... LaRon Landry can't stay healthy but Washington might gamble on him at a cheap price ... Roy Helu makes Tim Hightower expendable, though Hightower was decent in his five starts before being injured.
Needs
Quarterback: Quite obviously.
Wide Receiver: Jabar Gaffney shouldn't be anyone's No. 1 wideout. If the Skins go with the Manning route, it's entirely possible they can lure other free-agent wideouts into town. Either way, reports indicate they want to get a "high-profile wide receiver" and that's a good thing. Pairing Manning or RG3 with a viable wideout could make this offense explosive in 2012.
Offensive Line: Washington's set at several slots on the front, but could use an upgrade on the right side, where Jamaal Brown in particular has not been as good as they'd hoped.
Targets
Manning's the main target here. If they can't get Peyton, then the Skins have to get RG3. Both are attainable, it's just whether or not the cost is prohibitive. Vincent Jackson, Reggie Wayne and Marques Colston would all qualify as "marquee" wideouts. Ben Grubbs and Carl Nicks would be obviously be tremendous adds and allow the Redskins to shift some personnel and improve their line. Evan Mathis would take away from a division opponent as well.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 9:57 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 9:59 pm
 

Jones wants Romo, not trading up for Luck, RG3

The only way the Cowboys will have RG3 under center is if Tony Romo changes his name. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

There's a perception that Tony Romo isn't an elite NFL quarterback and it comes primarily from one thing: he's been underwhelming in big moments. The Week 1 fourth-quarter interception against the Jets, the two pick-sixes against the Lions, not to mention head coach Jason Garrett opting to run instead of pass late in the game against the Patriots. These are three examples from the 2011 season (all three losses, by the way) and it's enough for some fans to give up on Romo altogether.

One enterprising soul even asked DallasCowboys.com writer Josh Ellis about the possibility the team would trade up in April's draft and take Robert Griffin III.

Ellis' answer, in part: "(Owner and GM) Jerry Jones explicitly said last week he wouldn't trade Romo for Griffin or Andrew Luck. So on draft day, just hope Griffin doesn't end up in Washington."

The best response to Jones' decree comes courtesy our buddy, PFT.com's Michael David Smith: "Some might see that as further evidence of Jones’s 50 concussions…"

But Jones' son, Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones, said as much in comments to the Star-Telegram.

"There are not many better than him out there," he said. "I hear it -- he hasn't gotten it done yet. I hear it, all of that. But you are not going to find much better than Tony Romo. Every year he improves. As he gets better, our chances get better."

Wait, Tiger isn't a Navy SEAL? (US PRESSWIRE)
Jones, it turns out, it's just making stuff up. Romo ranked fourth in Football Outsiders' QB efficiency metric behind Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. The difference: those players have combined for five Super Bowl rings and their teams all made the playoffs last season. The Cowboys went 8-8 and lost four of their last five games (and their Week 17 no-show performance against the Giants cost them the division and a spot in the postseason).

Romo, meanwhile, has two years left on the six-year, $67.4 million contract he signed in 2007. Although the two sides have yet to discuss an extension, Stephen Jones' comments to the Star-Telegram says plenty.

"Tony is going to play a lot more than two more years," he said. "We are going to take care of Tony. Tony is going to be a Cowboy."

Silver lining: maybe some of Tiger Woods' Navy SEALS training rubbed off on Romo during the Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this month. It can't hurt, right?

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Posted on: February 11, 2012 10:34 pm
 

Ahmad Bradshaw takes shot at Tony Romo

Romo

BradshawBy Josh Katzowitz

Just because Tony Romo is coming off another solid season and shrugged off so many of the previous expectations/assumptions about his toughness and ability to play in the clutch, that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to find his fellow colleagues to rip him whenever they get the chance.

I mean, the guy played with a punctured lung (and won!)and then, at the end of the season, he played with a bad hand, but hell, that apparently didn’t really satisfy anybody.

In fact, Romo started every game this season despite a number of ailments and obstacles. Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw was not so impressed.

Bradshaw, coming off his game-winning Super Bowl XLVI touchdown, was asked on the NFL Network if the Cowboys could ever win a Super Bowl with Romo as the starting quarterback. Bradshaw, predictably, doesn’t believe in Romo.

Dallas' quarterbacks
“You know what, man, I don’t see it happening,” Bradshaw said. “I don’t think they believe it, and they’re America’s team.

“It all comes in together. If the fans don’t believe it, the team doesn’t. They’re kinda doubtful with Romo.”

While I'm not sure Bradshaw's reasoning makes sense (since when do players care what fans think about their teammates?), this also isn’t the first time this year a Giants running back has criticized Romo. You might recall Brandon Jacobs saying this in October: “[Eli Manning] is definitely a 100 percent better quarterback than Tony Romo. No question.”

Also criticizing Romo this year? Redskins tight end Chris Cooley and NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders (though Romo also had a pretty big backer (literally and figuratively) in Dirk Nowitzki).

Surprisingly, not everybody, especially those in the Cowboys organization, agrees with Bradshaw (and Jacobs).

“I thought Romo was competing at a level that would’ve given us that opportunity but the rest of us need to play better and get better before we can really gel the way the Giants are,” Jones said at the Senior Bowl last month.

And when CBSSports.com’s Will Brinson caught up with Dallas running back DeMarco Murray during Super Bowl week, Murray defended Romo.

"One week he's a hero, the next week he's not,” Murray said. That's just the way it is with the Dallas Cowboys. We're used to it, we love it and we wouldn't want any one else leading our team."

Obviously, Romo is used to hearing people bash him for a variety of reasons. He tries to turn the other cheek. But he also understands why his vast array of critics say what they do.

"It's just an easy thing to say until you win the Super Bowl," Romo said in November. "Until then any time you lose a game it's a big game. But if you win, then it really wasn't that big of a game. That just goes with the territory."

But from a guy who just won the Super Bowl, Bradshaw’s words can’t feel so good to Romo.

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Posted on: February 5, 2012 3:29 pm
 

DeMarco Murray talks Cowboys, Romo, Jason Garrett

Murray expects even more from the 'Boys in 2012. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- DeMarco Murray burst onto the scene as a potential franchise running back for the Dallas Cowboys when he shattered long-standing records with a 253-yard rushing performance against the Rams in the 2011 season. With Felix Jones injured, Murray stepped in and paced the Cowboys rushing attack until he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 13.

But Murray, who was working with Verizon to promote the first-ever mobile airing of the Super Bowl, told us on Radio Row that the Cowboys can accomplish the goals they missed with a full season in 2012.

"Definitely the playoffs and getting [to the Super Bowl] next year," Murray said. "We had a lot of young guys and  missed OTAs and minicamps. I thought a lot of guys played well. If we get a full season under our belt we look forward to winning some games."

Dallas collapse down the stretch was a full-blown disaster, with Jason Garrett notably icing his own kicker against the Cardinals before losing in overtime. But Murray said that the scapegoating of Garrett is blown out proportion by "us guys."

"Man, you guys are going to write us off no matter what," Murray said. "One week he's the greatest coach on the planet, the next week he's the worst coach on the planet. So we don't listen to that stuff you know? He's a great coach and I'm glad he's my coach."

Murray had similar feelings for quarterback Tony Romo, who's been judged once or twice in his career.

"Same thing, man!" Murray said. "One week he's a hero, the next week he's not. That's just the way it is with the Dallas Cowboys. We're used to it, we love it and we wouldn't want any one else leading our team."

Murray's correct on that count. Romo gets unfairly ripped/loved on a week-to-week basis depending on the outcome of the game.

It's presumed that Murray will be the guy taking most of the carries from Romo in 2012. However, Murray said he didn't know if he was the starter yet, and that he and Felix Jones had a "great" relationship. Additionally, Murray championed his fellow rookies, calling the 2011 NFL Draft class the greatest class of all time.

"I think it is," Murray said. "Look at all the guys in our class who made the Pro Bowl and did it without OTAs and minicamps."

If Murray can have the same impact he had in 2011 next year, it'll go even further to proving that point.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 11:39 am
 

Jones: Romo competing, others need to play better

Jerry Jones has been impressed with Eli but is very happy with Romo. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Jerry Jones is in Mobile, Alabama this week for the Senior Bowl because, in addition to being the Cowboys' owner, he's also the general manager. The man who wears many hats in Dallas took time out from evaluating the next crop of draft-eligible players to talk about the Cowboys, whose Week 17 loss to the Giants kept them out of the playoffs.

“I thought (Tony) Romo was competing at a level that would’ve given us that opportunity but the rest of us need to play better and get better before we can really gel the way the Giants are,” Jones said via CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Nick Eatman.

Hard to disagree with that. According to Football Outsiders, Romo was No. 4 in quarterback efficiency behind Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Eli ranked sixth (Matthew Stafford was fifth).

After ESPNDallas' Calvin Watkins tweeted Monday that "Jerry Jones said the biggest difference between the Cowboys and Giants is Eli Manning. He did praise Tony Romo," there was some confusion that Jones preferred Eli to Tony. Not at all. In fact, Jones was only implying that New York is in the Super Bowl because Manning is playing out of his mind.

“I don’t want to take anything away [from the Giants] but the big difference was Eli came up here and started what seemed like a pretty significant [stretch]," Jones said. "But the quarterback play with Eli was the huge difference. But I was pretty impressed with how they’ve defense played the last three or four ball games. …

"We had good quarterback play, but I'd say as a team, they just got better and better near the end," he added. "Their depth, that's how I view us. I had counted -- we had counted -- on getting better, and we didn't. We went the other way."

Of course, those personnel decisions rest at Jones' feet. Which, of course, is why he's in Mobile. As for 2012, Jones explains that the Cowboys' plan for success involves "new faces" in the secondary, getting "younger" on defense, but avoiding the trappings of youth on the offensive line.

Seems like Jones is making it more complicated than it needs to be. Either way, here's the bottom line:

"We just want to make sure we don't compromise things because I'm more into not squandering the prime years of Romo, so we want to make sure we're giving him every opportunity in protection," he said, "and we'll work hard on that in the off-season."

Duly noted.

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Posted on: January 12, 2012 4:27 pm
 

After 15 seasons, Jon Kitna to retire

J. Kitna will retire (US Presswire).By Josh Katzowitz

Though it comes as no surprise, backup quarterback Jon Kitna has told the Cowboys he will retire, according to Rapid Reporter Nick Eatman.

As Eatman writes, “Before the season, Kitna expected this to be his last and a back injury that forced him out for six weeks only strengthened his decision.”

Kitna had a solid career, becoming a full-time NFL starter with the Seahawks in 1999 and keeping that same position with the Bengals until Carson Palmer was ready to emerge before the 2004 season (Kitna actually won the NFL comeback player of the year award in 2003 as Palmer backed him up during his rookie season). After backing up Palmer for two years, Kitna went to the Lions and earned the No. 1 spot on the depth chart for another two years.

Eventually, he moved on to the Cowboys to be Tony Romo’s understudy and actually started nine games last season, leading the team to a 4-5 mark.

Although Kitna’s starting record is less than impressive (50-74), he finishes his career by completing 60.1 percent of his passes for 29,745 yards and more touchdowns (169) than interceptions (165).

Throughout most of his career, Kitna was seen as a clubhouse good-guy, somebody who could share his knowledge with anybody who asked. As he got older, he tried to be a role model for his younger teammates.

"When we run on Mondays after games, a lot of the veterans get to do half the running of a lot of the younger guys. Guys like myself, who don't play a lot or haven't played, do a little extra running," Kitna said this season, via the Dallas Morning News. "After that was over, I had a conversation with them, just saying, 'You have to be ready when your opportunity comes.' A lot of those guys came into the league the same way I did -- late-round draft picks or weren't drafted -- and you can get settled into your role sometimes. My message to them was, 'Don't settle into a role, because you might only get one opportunity. Not only might that be your only opportunity individually, but that's the opportunity that might be the difference between us winning and losing, so you've got to be ready.'"

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 4:32 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2011 8:18 pm
 

Jones: Romo 'full strength,' Garrett's job secure

Jerry Jones says Jason Garrett's not going anywhere. (Getty Images)
By Eye on Football staff

Much has been made about the possibility that Jerry Jones could bail on first-year Cowboys coach Jason Garrett if Dallas misses the playoffs, primarily because of the notable and numerous fourth-quarter collapses the Cowboys suffered this year.

However, our own Mike Freeman wrote Friday that there's a "zero percent" chance Garrett's fired, and he's not alone: Jones called the notion that he'd fire Garrett "ridiculous" regardless of the outcome of Sunday's NFC East championship game.

And since Jones is looking into his crystal ball, he's also ready to tell Cowboys fans this: not only will Tony Romo play Sunday, but he'll be 100 percent when he takes the field.

"He's going to be playing at full strength," Jones said on KRLD-FM Friday morning (via ESPN Dallas). "It's just a very big-time feel-good to know that we're going to be going in with this kind of quarterbacking. He's had an outstanding year. He's a top, top quarterback and he's got a good team around him. In my belief, a very good team around him, so the stage is set for us to play well in a big game."

Though Romo, who's listed as probable on this week's injury report, wore a wrap on his injured hand during practice Friday, ESPN Dallas reports that he likel won't wear any protection on his throwing hand Sunday, because the swelling has decreased.

"Romo is where we had dreamed that he would be and hoped he would be relative to after his injury last week," Jones said. "So I feel good there. It should be even better by Sunday night and he's getting good work in."

He feels the same way about his head coach. As in, Garrett is getting in good work and that he's not going anywhere.

"That's just ridiculous. We're just getting started with Jason," Jerry Jones said on 105.3 FM, per Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. "It's just not the case at all. Nobody is worried about the coach's job here. We'll answer this thing as many ways as you want to answer it with as many circumstances, his job has no bearing and is not a part of this ballgame.

"Yes, he's going to be our coach next year period no matter what the score is."


This isn't the first time Jones has gotten Garrett's back; two weeks ago, Jones said Garrett wasn't on the hot seat.

But Jerry's also said that not making the playoffs would be a "real serious career disappointment" given the way Romo's played in 2011. And Jerry also pulled a much-criticized move when he rolled down to the sidelines against Philly on Christmas Eve to inform Garrett that the game underway had been rendered meaningless.

(For my money, if you own an NFL team and preside as GM and the guy you're paying a lot of money to play quarterback gets hurt and the outcome of the game is rendered irrelevant, you can communicate with your coach in any manner you want. Call, write, send a carrier pigeon, record a message on the Cowboys Stadium Jumbotron. Whatever. It's your cash.)

Some folks believe Jones would consider taking a different route if Jeff Fisher is readily available and willing to come to Dallas, but does that really accomplish what Jerry wants (read: stability and success) in 2012? Because it might not.

Garrett's made some serious gaffes this year, as I've noted, but he's also coached great games at times, and he's arguably just a few fourth-quarter miscues from having the Cowboys well over 10 wins.

If Jones believes he's the long-term answer as a head coach -- and he clearly does -- then he can't bail on Garrett after just one year. Which is precisely why he won't.


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Posted on: December 30, 2011 11:00 am
 

NFC East gets Taiwanese animation video treatment

Taiwan really respects the owners of the NFC East. (YouTube.com)
By Will Brinson

On Sunday night, the Giants and Cowboys will square off in the "NFC East championship game" -- the winner gets a trip to the playoffs, and the loser's got some serious questions to answer about how 2011 went down.

As with anything that draws attention in American, the folks at Next Media Animation decided to break down the matchup, Taiwanese animation style.

The video below, as you can tell from the photo above, should make the owners of the NFC East teams very happy. There's Dan Snyder as a baby, Jerry Jones breathing fire and getting insulted -- "they won't win anything until he dies" -- before collapsing on the field, Eli Manning digging his own grave and just for fun, Michael Vick riding an eagle while teams shoot shotguns at him.

And yes, the Cowboys are apparently considered chokers in any language.



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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com