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Tag:Jerry Jones
Posted on: December 18, 2011 11:21 am
Edited on: December 18, 2011 11:35 am
 

Jerry: No playoffs a waste of Romo's great season

By Will Brinson

Tony Romo had another incredibly impressive game on Saturday, tossing three touchdowns and running for a score in Dallas 31-15 evisceration of the Bucs. As Pete Prisco wrote early Sunday, it was precisely the type of win that should give the Cowboys the confidence to make the playoffs.

They're currently in sole possession of the fourth seed, a half game ahead of the Giants, and Jerry Jones believes that if the 'Boys didn't make the playoffs, it would basically be a waste of the best season of Romo's career.

"At the end of the day, [Romo's play] is why we can't not get in the tournament, because he is playing so well," Jones said, per Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "This time last year, he wasn't playing. With him playing at the level he is playing, it would be a real serious career disappointment for us not to get to the playoffs."

A real serious career disappointment? No pressure or anything, Jason Garrett.


Jones probably didn't mean the comment as a shot towards in particular; his point that Romo's season -- 3,895 yards, 29 touchdowns, nine interceptions, 65.6 completion percentage -- not generating a playoff berth is valid.

Romo's playing the best football of his career right now and were it not for a ridiculous amount of ridiculous seasons from quarterbacks in 2011, he'd probably be getting more love than he is.

It doesn't help that the Cowboys lost five games this year where they coulda/shoulda/woulda walked off the field victorious, and that's an easier (and potentially more important) storyline to focus on for people hawking the Cowboys.

And Jones latest comment makes it pretty obvious where the narrative will shift should Dallas fail to make the postseason.

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Posted on: December 13, 2011 6:56 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 7:00 pm
 

Jerry Jones says Jason Garrett not on hot seat

By Will Brinson



The 2012 rendition of the Cowboys can't stop collapsing -- Sunday night's loss to the Giants was just the latest in a year filled with second-half and fourth-quarter meltdowns. Despite that, Jerry Jones said Jason Garrett's job isn't in jeopardy.

Week 14 Recap

In fact, Jones wouldn't even talk about Garrett possibly being relieved of his duties when asked about it on his KRLD-FM radio show Tuesday.

“That is not a question worth responding to," Jones said, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "The answer is no. We are just getting started here."

It's too early to speculate about Garrett's job under current circumstances -- the Cowboys are just a half-game out of first place in the NFC East and a game out of the Wild Card race, with three more games remaining.

But if things get worse and the Cowboys miss the playoffs, it's not out of the realm of possibility that Jones could consider a change, particularly if someone like Jeff Fisher is available and interested in the position.


But it's not too early to wonder what might happen if Dallas continues to lose games in the same fashion they've lost them this year. Fourth-quarter gifts to the Jets, Lions Patriots, Cardinals and Giants all stand out like a handful of sore thumbs and anything less than 2-1 the rest of the way in probably dooms Dallas in 2012.

If that's the case, Jones will be asked about Garrett's job status much more frequently, and if the manner in which the Cowboys fade is particularly disastrous, it's not inconceivable that his answer could change.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 2:27 am
Edited on: December 12, 2011 2:35 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 14

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 14 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.


1. They're Not Saying 'Boooooo' ...

True story: Just over two years ago, T.J. Yates came on the jumbotron at the Dean Dome during a North Carolina game as the lead-in to a UNC football video, said "I'm T.J. Yates and I'm a Tar Heel," and Yates, who was in the crowd, was booed mercilessly by Tar Heel fans in attendance.

One surprisingly strong senior season and a slew of injuries to Houston quarterbacks later, Yates is the starting quarterback for the first Texans team to ever make the playoffs. He's no figurehead, either, as his play in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 20-19 victory in Cincinnati showed.

We think that logic and common football sense says a rookie quarterback can't take a team deep into the playoffs, but does it? This Texans team's success is predicated on running the ball and playing defense.

And that's not too far off what Mark Sanchez and Ben Roethlisberger leaned on as rookies. Both those guys went to the AFC Championship Game, as a rookie quarterback mind you.

Yates is different than those Sanchez or Roethlisberger because he's matured under tough circumstances, his expectations are lower, he didn't leave school early so he's more experienced and he's got good mentors surrounding him on the roster.

If Houston gets into a shootout with an opponent or finds themselves with a huge halftime deficit, they're probably in trouble. But if that happens, it's not on Yates anyway -- the defense and rushing attack probably already let them down.

Just remember that when it comes time to debate the viability of the Texans in the postseason that the rookie quarterback under center is about as viable as the stereotype that the Texans can't stop anyone on defense.

2. Where It's Due in Denver

It's about time, in this LOL-worthy Tim Tebow saga that hit another high with Denver's 13-10 overtime win over Chicago Sunday, to give credit where credit is due. No, not the defense. No, not the running game. No, not the super-human effort from kicker Matt Prater on Sunday. No, not John Fox or John Elway.

Let's give credit to ... Josh McDaniels.

Remember, McDaniels is the guy that drafted Tebow and blossoming receiver Demaryius Thomas. Both might have been reaches when they were taken (25th and 22nd overall, respectively) and both looked like absolutely horrid selections pretty recently. But McDaniels obviously knew something about these guys and his premonitions and talent evaluation is paying off for Denver now.

Look, there are guys that were taken after Tebow and Thomas that are better overall additions to a roster (Dez Bryant, Rob Gronkowski, Devin McCourty stand out), and the value McDaniels wasted at those spots is disappointing. Also, given the Rams struggles on offense this year, handing credit his way isn't exactly the chic thing to do.

But as we get further from his nightmare regime in Denver and more ensconced in Tebowmania, it at least warrants a tip of the cap to McD for his decision to select two guys who are starting to fulfill the expectations that come with their draft slot.

3. Cowboy Down

We spent the better part of the podcast (you can listen above, just by clicking play!) trying to figure out who to blame for Dallas' failings in their 37-34 loss to the Giants on Sunday night.

But since Rex Ryan egged on some defensive coverages, Tony Romo egged on a big third-down throw to Miles Austin and Jason Garrett egged on clock management, isn't it possible that it's a systematic issue across the team as a whole?

We assume that because there's a new coach running the show, with different coordinators in place and some new players, that things are different. But things just aren't.

Jerry Jones knows this -- with the Giants at the goal line and the clock ticking down, an NBC camera caught him screaming "Timeout, Jason!"

Give credit where credit is to due to Eli Manning and the Giants for clawing their way back into this game, because it was a pretty magnificent comeback, something Eli's becoming quite proficient at this season.

But these Cowboys just can't close. We've seen it over and over this season and at some point, the bossman's patience for a lack of execution is going to run out.

4. Start 'Em/Sit 'Em?

The Packers have, with their 46-16 obliteration of Oakland in Green Bay, now officially clinched a first-round bye. Thanks to the 49ers losing to the Cardinals on Sunday, Mike McCarthy's team is just one win or one San Francisco loss away from clinching homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.

But Sunday's victory came at a price -- star wide receiver Greg Jennings is likely out for the remainder of the regular season. Aaron Rodgers said that "hopefully" the Packers can get Jennings back in time for the team's first playoff game, following their bye, which is approximately five weeks from now.

This begs the question: will McCarthy and Green Bay chase 16-0 with the same fervor as the Patriots?

Losing someone like Jennings is debilitating to their run at repeating as Super Bowl champions, but it's not a dealbreaker because of all the talent they have at the various skill positions. Losing Aaron Rodgers? That's a whole different story.

And what if someone like Charles Woodson or Tramon Williams or Clay Matthews was lost for the rest of the season playing in a meaningless game? Yeah, that would be bad.

There's no right answer that doesn't involve "winning the title" so it's unfair to judge whatever McCarthy and Ted Thompson decide to do. We don't know how things would play out in an alternate universe. But Jennings injury might be a bad sign for the chances at Green Bay running the table.\

5. Familiar Feeling

New England is streaking towards a likely No. 1 seed right now. And they have a  kerfluffle on the sidelines between Tom Brady and his offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien that everyone can talk about. And there's the whole "Can I draft Rob Gronkowski in the second round of my fantasy league next year?" debate that might be worth discussing when going over interesting things about this team. 

But I can't shake the fact that the Redskins piled up well over 500 yards passing between Rex Grossman and Brandon Banks (!) plus 120 rushing yards from Roy Helu and narrowly lost to the Pats 34-27.

Again: the Redskins did this. Back in 2009, New England got throttled by the Ravens in Foxborough, because Baltimore had a stout defense and Ray Rice went HAM on a Pats defense that couldn't shut him down.

This year? The Patriots defense, a season-long problem for the team, reminds a lot of that squad, in that they can't stop anyone who's physical and can play ball control. Or, really, they can't stop anyone -- only four teams have scored less than 20 points against the Pats, and one of those was quarterbacked by Tyler Palko.

There are a lot of good defensive teams headed to the playoffs in the AFC, with a lot of good running backs, and some pretty talented quarterbacks.

Brady and Belichick are great about covering up flaws on a roster, but when they run into a physical team in the playoffs, we might see a similar result from years past.

6. So You're Telling Me There's a Chance?

The 2011 NFL season wouldn't feel right if we didn't get a Lloyd Christmas-inspired false-hope run from the Eagles and Chargers, would it?

The Eagles are still alive after a 26-10 beat down of Miami, although making the playoffs at this point involves jumping a whopping five other teams, and is about as likely as the Eagles retaining Juan Castillo next season.

San Diego's path to the postseason should have been a little bit easier, because the Raiders lost and the Broncos were supposed to lose (see: Tim Tebow doing what Tim Tebow does). Now things are much murkier, as San Diego needs either the Jets -- a team they should have beaten -- to go 1-2 down the stretch, or the Broncos -- another team they should have beaten -- to lose. And the Bolts have to win

8-8 and 9-7, respectively, are doable based for the two teams, based on their schedules. But even that kind of effort might not be enough to save the jobs of certain people in certain positions for these teams.

7. Call It a Comeback, Kid

For the second time this season, four teams in a single week overcame 12-point (or more) deficits to win.

Why? Well, as it turns out, offensive points aren't the only exciting thing that's happened as a result of the offense-friendly rules the NFL installed over the past few years. Comebacks occur more frequently too.

And big comebacks as well -- Atlanta, Jacksonville, Houston and Arizona were all down by 12-plus points and mounted a comeback in Week 14 -- in Week 2, another four teams did it as well.

Limitations on members of the secondary, limitations on defensive players hitting quarterbacks and the middle of the field opening up because of defenseless receiver rules mean teams are able to sling the ball around more frequently.

Defenses simply can't clamp down on teams when they have a lead and if someone takes their foot off the gas (see: the Panthers vs. the Falcons on Sunday), a comeback is absolutely in the cards.

8. Taking Flight

Note to anyone who ends up in a December-only fantasy league: draft Shonn Greene. Dude gets unholy hot when the weather gets cold and he's doing it again this year, with four touchdowns and well over 200 yards the last two weeks, including a career-high 129 rushing yards in a blowout win against Kansas City Sunday.

Not coincidentally, it might be smart to not write off the Jets ever again. Somehow, someway, they manage to win enough games to sneak into the playoffs.

Rex Ryan's crew is doing it again, and even though this rendition of the Jets is clearly inferior to the previous two seasons, it's hard to count them out.

Twice in his two years as head coach, Ryan's used a formula to get to the AFC Championship Game despite fighting uphill to even get into the playoffs. And now he's doing it again.

The Jets last three opponents -- Buffalo, Washington and Kansas City -- are about as cream-puffy as it comes, but you only have to play the people on your schedule. So I'm really not sure why this wasn't as obvious an outcome as Greene being largely irrelevant for fantasy teams until now.

9. Get Your Mojo Running

Lost in some of the fantastic Week 14 action was the fact that the incredibly underrated Maurice Jones-Drew, the only elite skill-position player that the Jaguars have, set the franchise record for career touchdowns, surpassing the also incredibly underrated Fred Taylor.

"Mojo" did it on a day in which he went absolutely b-a-n-a-n-a-s, rushing for 85 yards and two touchdowns, and catching six passes for 51 receiving yards and a pair of scores through the air as well.

“Words can’t really explain how excited I am,” Jones-Drew said.

Jones-Drew's one of the prototypes for the modern NFL back -- small but powerful, quick, great hands and a secret workhorse. (Not to mention he's a stalwart in the community, and a good guy to boot.) Amid an often ugly offensive performance by Jacksonville on a weekly basis, MJD's been insanely consistent in 2011.

Dude deserves some love.

10. Great Expectations

It's fascinating to see that Raheem Morris and Steve Spagnuolo are two guys everyone agrees find themselves firmly on the hot seat. That's because last year, Morris and Spags were a combined one game away from both being in the playoffs last year.

Morris won 10 games with the surprising Buccaneers and even though Spagnuolo went 7-9, he had a shot at winning the putrid NFC West in the final week of the season.

The 17 total wins for the two teams has created a pretty terrible predicament for the coaches who nearly got them to the postseason though: both guys are looking like strong candidates to be fired after the 2011 season.

Tampa Bay lost its seventh-straight game in horrific fashion on Sunday when Blaine Gabbert and the Jags dropped a 41-14 bomb on the Bucs and the Rams are scheduled to start Tom Brandstater against the Seahawks. That will probably not end well.

The point of all this is that the NFL is a what-have-you-done-for-me lately business and Spags and Morris have lost lately. A lot.

Muffed Punts

Leftovers from Sunday's Action ...
... Packers have now scored 466 points on the season, the second-highest total in NFL history through 13 weeks, behind only the Pats 503 in 2007.
... Drew Brees and Johnny Unitas are the only two quarterbacks in NFL history with 40-straight games with passing touchdowns.
... Rob Gronkowski has the all-time record for touchdown receptions in a single season by a tight end with 15.
... Eli Manning's 400-yard passing performance was the 14th over the season, an NFL record.

Worth 1,000 Words


GIF(S) O' THE WEEK

You can see video of KC kicker Ryan Succop executing the worst onsides kick in the history of football right here, but this GIF of the three-yard putt/kick is just mesmerizingly depressing.



And I'm double dipping this week again, as Jabar Gaffney's dive into the seats without being caught is just too much fun to ignore.


Hot Seat Tracker

  • Steve Spagnuolo -- Spags really, really needs a win on Monday night against the Seahawks.
  • Raheem Morris -- As noted above, this team won 10 games last year!
  • Todd Haley -- After righting the ship, the Chiefs are back to sinking. This may be related to "starting Tyler Palko" but still, Haley's the coach.
  • Jim Caldwell -- *stares blankly at Colts record*
  • Norv Turner -- Norv's fanning the hell out of his seat, but the Chargers might not have enough games left to make up for the bad start.

Award Worth Discussing of the Week

Aaron Rodgers has retired the MVP watch and the Colts are locked into Andrew Luck so I'm adjusting on the fly. Today's award worth discussing: Coach of the Year.

I find this race fascinating because you have four primary contenders, all with totally different situations.

There's Mike McCarthy of the Packers, who's threatening to run the table with a defending Super Bowl champ. Then there's Jim Harbaugh, who's made the a talented, underachieving 49ers team relevant again and quickly. They're the two favorites.

Then there's the underdogs: John Fox, who continues to win despite Tim Tebow flying under the radar in terms of media attention, and Gary Kubiak, who will not let a quarterback injury kill his season.

If McCarthy goes undefeated it's impossible not to give him the nod because, well, they didn't lose. But if the Packers falter at all, Harbaugh's sheen could fade enough down the stretch (a loss to Pittsburgh and struggles against Seattle and St. Louis maybe?) to let Fox and Kubes make a play for the award.

My vote, provided things play out the way they have so far, is for Fox, since he's winning with less in a way no one ever saw coming, well ahead of when people believed he'd win.
Posted on: December 5, 2011 2:20 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 13

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 13 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.

 

1. Tebowtainment

Before diving into another Tim Tebow victory -- this time a 35-32 squeaker on the road in Minnesota -- let's go ahead and get you ready for the upcoming week of screaming talking head mania by offering up the Official Tebow Haters Stat Du Jour: opponent's victories!

As people will tell you over the next seven days, Denver's last five victories came against five teams five teams with a combined 25 victories. (Don't think I'm defending that, just know that I'm preparing you for it.)

You know why people are going to focus on that, as well as the Vikings two-win season and a miserable Minnesota secondary?

Because Tebow just won a game by being a -- gasp! -- traditional passer. Tebow went 10 of 15 for 202 yards and two touchdowns and only rushed the ball four times, one of which was was a lateral kneel to set up the game-winning field goal.

The result of Sunday's win is the most improbable of improbable situations: Denver being the favorite to land the No. 4 seed in the AFC playoffs. With "just" the Bears, Patriots, Bills and Chiefs remaining on the schedule, Denver's in a better position than Oakland (losers Sunday, with the Packers, Lions, Chiefs and Chargers remaining) to make the postseason.

And if you're a Tebow hater, you better get your block button on Twitter ready, because things are about to get hairy when they get there. On the other hand, if you're a Tebow hater, what's your beef with a team that utilizes an opportunistic defense, a run-based offense that doesn't make mistakes and a quarterback who may or may not have mystical powers to win games?

I understand that people have to argue about something during the week, but are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?

2. You Just Iced Yourself, Bro

On Sunday, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett took clock mismanagement to an entirely new level in Dallas' 19-13 loss to Arizona in overtime.

First off, Garrett iced his own kicker. Icing an opponent's kicker is a foolhardy move, because it really doesn't work all that well in the first place. But icing your own kicker? That's the stuff that Jim Mora rants -- and knee-jerk firings -- are made of.

Somehow, though, Garrett's ridiculous decision wasn't his worst move of the Cowboys loss. With over a minute remaining, Dallas facing a second and 20 and holding two timeouts, Tony Romo took the snap and completed a pass to Dez Bryant for nine yards. 30 seconds later, Romo took another snap and hit Bryant for 15 yards and a first down, then spiked the ball with eight seconds remaining on the clock.

No timeouts used, 53 seconds burnt and the Cowboys still needing Dan Bailey to kick a 49-yard field goal. Cue up icing of Bailey, and cue up a Kevin Kolb-led game-winning drive for the Cardinals in their first possession in overtime.

There's no need to dive into the hyperbole-filled world of "worst clock management ever," but suffice to say Wade Phillips is laughing his jolly ass off somewhere right now.

3. Yes We Cam ... But Maybe We Shouldn't

Sunday -- a 38-19 win for Carolina over Tampa Bay -- was a big day for Cam Newton. The Panthers won. (It's the most important thing, haven't you heard?) Newton won his first division game. Newton picked up his first winning "streak." And the rookie phenom had, arguably, his best game as a professional quarterback.

Newton went 12 of 21 for and only threw for 204 yards, but he had one touchdown through the air, no turnovers and managed 54 rushing yards on 13 carries and three rushing touchdowns.

That total, by the by, means Newton now holds the single-season rookie record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 13, leaving poor Steve Grogan with no other real historical notation to his name.

Here's the crazy thing though: Newton's just five touchdowns short of Eric Dickerson's record for rushing touchdowns in a season by any rookie. With four games to go, 18 or 19 is well within his sights.

Should it be, though? I say no, and that's coming from someone who's a conductor on the CamWagon and a Newton fantasy owner. Here's why: Newton hasn't learned how to avoid contact yet. He's getting a little better about avoiding shots, but watching him go into a headfirst horizontal spin has to make Jerry Richardson's heart skip a couple of beats.

On a day when you win by 19 points against a terrible rushing defense like Tampa's, especially when they don't have their starting quarterback, there's no reason why Newton has three more carries than DeAngelo Williams, who got $43 million this offseason.

Watching Cam break Dickerson's record would be fun, but not as fun as watching Cam stay healthy over the next decade.

4. Defining Swagger

For the first few weeks of the season, I'm pretty confident I pumped a lot of words in this space in the direction of the Detroit Lions because of their new-found attitude under coach Jim Schwartz.

A "swagger," if you will. Well, it's backfiring, and backfiring badly. Sunday was a perfect example, as the Lions piled up well over 100 yards in penalties -- most of them incredibly stupid and chippy -- during their 31-17 loss to New Orleans.

Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham preach a hard-nose brand of football, and that's great for a Lions team that's been pushed around and publicly mocked for more than a decade because of futility in every aspect.

But you can't give away games by trying to be tough. The Lions, for the first time in a looooong time, are in the middle of a playoff race, and other contenders (the Giants, the Bears, the Falcons, the Cowboys) are imploding all around them.

Did they learn nothing from Ndamukong Suh getting suspended for ridiculously dumb and violent on-field actions? Just go out and be tough without being dumb.

Having swagger doesn't mean having to be stupid.


5. Hibernation Time

Say what you will about Caleb Hanie, but the Bears had a shot at the playoffs even with Jay Cutler out. But after Matt Forte sprained his MCL in Sunday's 10-3 loss to Kansas City, that pipedream just went down the tube.

Hanie was 11 of 24 for 133 yards and three picks, Marion Barber carried the rock 14 times for 44 yards and anyone watching the game knew that it was going to take a Bears defensive touchdown to win that game.

The Bears got burnt because Kansas City hit a Hail Mary to Dexter McCluster at the end of the half, and as pointed out last week, Romeo Crennel really does deserve some love for the defensive schemes he's cooking up these days, but this is a Chicago team that looked like a legit Super Bowl contender just three weeks ago.

Since then, they've been absolutely snakebit with injuries to stars, and even if they're still technically "in" the NFC playoffs as of today, is that defense really going to shut out three of the next four opponents?

Or, put more a little succinctly: Chicago just lost to Tyler Palko. Goodnight, sweet Bears.

6. Next Man Up

Speaking of injuries to key players, can we go ahead and get love for the work Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips are doing in Houston?

Because as soft as the Texans schedule is, Kubes somehow managed to shock the world (well, some of us) by beating Atlanta 17-10 despite having T.J. Yates under center.

But what's new, right? The Texans, as Clark Judge noted on Sunday from Houston, have won without every single one of their stars and it's not just because this team gets to beat up on the cupcakes of the AFC South.

It's because they've got established a quality of depth on this team that allows them to succeed despite potentially debilitating injuries to critical players.

"Because we have a defense that's playing well," Arian Foster said after the game. "We have receivers that can make plays. [We have] a solid offensive line. We have running backs who can make plays. We have weapons around him to help [Yates]."

This steady diet of consistency and quality of depth is precisely why Houston hasn't -- and won't -- collapse under the weight of a run to the playoffs this year.


7. Rookie Wall

The BCS laid a couple of stinkbombs on Sunday that would actually make Jim Caldwell cringe, but the most important thing for us NFL types is that the college season is now over. Not because we want it to end, but now's a good measuring stick of the rookie wall.

The last time Andy Dalton, leading a surprising Bengals playoff run, played a game after the first weekend of December, it was probably on a month's worth of rest, because of the bowl system.

This year, Dalton gets four games in that stretch, with about six days in between each one.

And though the Red Rifle wasn't awful during Sunday's 35-7 loss to Pittsburgh, he was banged up and beat down enough that Bruce Gradkowski came in for mop-up duty.

As noted above, I'm all for keeping rookies safe. But there's got to be some concern that Dalton's entering an unknown area in terms of wear and tear on his body and mind.

It probably won't help that he gets a pair of elite defenses -- Baltimore and Houston -- over the next few weeks either.

8. Please Don't Punch the Zebras

Twice on Sunday we saw players -- Da'Quan Bowers of the Buccaneers and Brandon Pettigrew of the Lions -- make what could at best be called "incidental" contact with referees on the field.

Both Bowers and Pettigrew were involved in scuffles on the field and neither was going after the official, but when they were being pulled away from whatever mini-ruckus was taking place, both struck the official.

That's a 15-yard penalty and it should be an ejection. Only Pettigrew was flagged and neither was ejected. (Oddly, when Bowers lashed out, Brian Price was booted to the locker room by coach Raheem Morris.)

It's not an epidemic running around, but with some of the non-calls we've seen on violent plays this year, it's a little disappointing that the guys in stripes aren't making more of a concerted effort to look out for their own safety.

Expect fines for both guys, particularly if the league wants to ensure players aren't taking aggressive contact with the officials on the field of play.

9. Save Our Sparanos

My man Pete Prisco already broke down the odiferous nature of Oakland's 34-14 stinkbomb in Miami on Sunday, but there's something else at play here: is Tony Sparano saving his job?

Because the Dolphins are suddenly riding a hot streak (they've won four of their last five) that seemed impossible after an 0-7 start to the season. Not only are they no longer the worst team in the NFL, they might not even be the worst team in their division, what with the 5-7 Bills racing them back to the bottom.

Matt Moore looks like Matt Moore looked when Matt Moore was helping the Panthers win meaningless games late in 2009, and Reggie Bush looks like Reggie Bush looked when ... well, Reggie Bush hasn't ever looked like this. But he looks good.

The defense is stifling teams (I don't care how many starters the Raiders were missing), and Miami's got three winnable games on their schedule remaining, as they play the Eagles and Jets at home and the Bills on the road.

If Sparano gets this team to 7-9 by winning seven of their last nine, it really seems inconceivable that Stephen Ross could can him.

10. Utah, Gimme Two

If you're listening to the podcast -- and why aren't you listening and/or subscribing -- you probably heard us rant on the ridiculous nature of two-point conversion usage in football.

And if you're not listening, here's a synopsis: people are doing it wrong. A great example occurred during the Packers-Giants game on Sunday (eventually won by Green Bay 38-35). With 3:35 remaining, the Packers held a one-point lead when Aaron Rodgers hit Donald Driver for a ridiculous touchdown grab.

Up seven points, the Packers had two choices. One, kick the extra point (and go up eight). Or two, go for two and have roughly a 50-percent chance (the conversion rate for two-point conversions) of going up nine points.

An unsuccessful conversion would simply mean the Giants needed to go down and score a touchdown, same as before, except without having to score a two-point conversion afterward. (Same odds apply here for the Giants getting theirs, obviously.)

A successful two-point conversion, however, would put the Packers up nine points, which means the Giants would need to go down, score a touchdown, kick an extra point, recover an onsides kick and then get in range to kick a long field goal. The odds of this happening are a) much worse than the Giants scoring and getting a two-point conversion; or b) much, much, much lower than a coin flip.

For whatever reason, coaches -- and most fans -- don't understand the tremendous advantage being up two possessions present, as opposed to simply being up eight points. The reward (basically ending the game) substantially outweighs the risk (a tie ballgame), however.

Muffed Punts

Leftovers from Sunday's Action ...
... The Packers tied the second-longest winning streak in NFL history, and are just three shy of the 03-04 Patriots, who won 21 straight.
... Frank Gore passed Joe Perry as the 49ers all-time leading rusher, on a day when San Francisco clinched the division.
... Drew Brees became the first player in NFL history to record 4,000 passing yards in his team's first 12 games.
... Jimmy Graham became the first Saints tight end in history to top 1,000 yards receiving in a season.
... Hines Ward became the 19th player in NFL history with 12,000 receiving yards in his career Sunday.

Worth 1,000 Words


GIF O' THE WEEK

A combo GIF this week! Via SBNation, first we have Hakeem Nicks showing the world how to do the not-so-sissy strut:



And then Nicks following that dance up by doing ... this:


Hot Seat Tracker

  • Steve Spagnuolo -- On the bright side, there might be an opening for a defensive coordinator in Philly ...
  • Jim Caldwell -- You can't not fire your coach if he goes 0-16, right?
  • Andy Reid --  I still don't buy that Philly dumps him, but his seat is warm for sure.
  • Raheem Morris -- Losing to the Panthers, even without Josh Freeman, isn't helping Morris.
  • Norv Turner -- He can get off this list with a playoff berth. So, yeah, um, yeah.

MVP Watch

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers continued their pursuit of perfection, but for the first time all season, Rodgers didn't look totally ridiculously amazing. He was still really good, though. And no one was that much better -- Tom Brady's got a case building, I suppose, but Rodgers is winning in a walkaway, barring something silly happening over the next four weeks.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 10:03 am
 

Jerry: Felix back but DeMarco is the 'workhorse'

Posted by Will Brinson

Dallas steamrolled Buffalo 44-7 on Sunday, and it looks like the Cowboys, whose schedule is absolute cake over the next three weeks, will get even healthier, with the addition of Felix Jones to the lineup.

Speaking on his local radio show, Jerry Jones acknowledged that Felix will likely be return against Washington on Sunday.

"That's our plan," Jones said on KRLD-FM, via the Dallas Star-Telegram. "It looks like he can. I don't know just exactly how on top of his game he'll be, but man am I anxious to have both of those options out there and [DeMarco] Murray, that will be exciting."

The bigger issue, though, is whether Felix will get his starting gig back, or whether Murray will continue to be given the majority of carries. According to Jones, the Cowboys are doing the smart thing by not trying to make Jones a "workhorse running back."

"One thing that comes to my mind that Murray looks like the more he carries the more effective he gets. If you think of that theoretically about a workhorse running back that they get better as the game goes along," Jones said. "Felix, and this is not negative in any way, Felix has always been a guy that he looks like the best way for him to be his best is to inject him in spots and so we may have a guy here in Murray who can carry a lot of carries and we may have a guy in Felix that can step in there and carry it 13 times a ballgame and really have a chance to break it."

Yes, "workhorse running back" is a fancy way of saying "starter" -- Murray's size didn't peg him for a guy that could dive in and get 20-plus carries, but he's obviously responded incredibly well to the workload that the Cowboys have given him, considering his lowest output since Week 7 is 74 yards on eight carries in the blowout loss to Philadelphia.

For his part, Jones says he's not sweating his role yet, and is more concerned about his health.

"Really, it’s just about me getting back on the field," Jones said. "That’s the first thing. Once that happens, we’ll start talking about what’s going on on the field. Right now I’m just worried about my health, getting out there on the field."

For some silly reason the Cowboys have hesitated to name Murray the starter at running back, and I suppose they haven't exactly done so yet. And they might continue not calling him the "official" starter.

But make no mistake: DeMarco is the guy getting the majority of carries. Dallas has won three of the four games he's started, and in all three wins, he's provided the Cowboys with a 100-plus yard rushing game. That's one more than Felix has in his career.

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Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:48 pm
 

Jerry Jones rips David Buehler's preparation

D. Buehler was placed on Injured Reserve with a groin injury (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

It’s not often you hear an owner rip his team’s kicker, but as we’ve come to expect from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, his outspokenness continues to amaze and inspire.

That’s why we point you to comments Jones made on his radio show, via the Fort Worth Star Telegram, in which he crapped on David Buehler -- the man who handles the team’s kickoffs (but not the field goals and extra points) who was placed on Injured Reserve Thursday with a groin injury -- and questioned his preparation.

“Let me just say this: I’m frustrated because you would expect players to… and I understand injury, but he has known all along how to prepare and how to get in shape and how to prepare himself and be ready to be a kicker,” Jones said. “Now it’s frustrating to have your kicker injured. So he’s a valuable asset, especially with the rules as they are right now, we’re going to be playing some key away games out in the weather.

“We’d like to have him kicking in them because he is a better kickoff guy than [Dan] Bailey. So I’m very frustrated. It is his job to stay ready to play and prepare himself so those kinds of things for what he’s got to do don’t come up.”

In 2009, Buehler recorded 29 touchbacks, and the next season, he had 22. This year, he’s only got nine in 18 attempts, and for a guy whose job description is to provide touchbacks (during a year when it’s easier than ever), that’s not a very good percentage. It obviously won’t improve since his year is over, but the saddest part about Buehler’s season-ending injury is that he won’t get a chance to hit any more kick returners in the mouth.

And the way Jones is talking, you have to wonder if perhaps Buehler’s Cowboys career is heading in the same direction.

Reporters, including ESPN Dallas, talked to Buehler, and he said his groin still hurts and that the right side of his groin is black and blue.

“It sucks, “Buehler said. Which is certainly one way of putting it.

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Posted on: November 7, 2011 12:24 pm
 

Report: Austin out 2-4 weeks, Dez done on punts?

Posted by Will Brinson

Dallas rolled over Seattle 23-13 on Sunday, but everything wasn't all roses for the Cowboys, as wide receiver Miles Austin suffered a(nother) hamstring injury. Austin injured his left hamstring in Week 2 and hurt the right one during the third quarter on Sunday.

According to a report from Fox Sports Southwest's Matt Mosely, Austin will miss two to four weeks with the hamstring injury, which sounds about right given Austin's not-quite-optimistic comments on Sunday.

"I don’t know which [injury] is worse," Austin said via our Cowboys Rapid Reporter Nick Eatman. "This one hurts pretty bad, but it’s higher on my leg. Hopefully it’s just a strain and I can get back soon."

Austin's struggled with the injury this year, and has just 28 catches and 403 receiving yards in six games, though he does have four touchdowns. On the heels of two-straight years playing all 16 games and topping 1,000 yards in each season, that has to be considered a disappointment for Dallas and Austin.

Week 9 Review

More disappointing will be if Austin misses the high end of the reported timeline; it'll mean Laurent Robinson and Dez Bryant have to step up in a big way.

Which may mean that Bryant stops returning kicks for Dallas -- Jerry Jones expressed concern that Bryant, who's also dealt with injuries this year, expressed concern with Dez returning punts for Dallas while the depth chart was so thinned out.

"I'm still concerned when we had him back there about his injury, especially now that Miles may be, or may not be, out a couple of games," Jones said, via FSS. "I don't know."

Just like the last time Jones spoke up about in-game Cowboys decision-making, Jason Garrett would be wise to heed the words of his boss. Of course, if Austin misses multiple games with the hamstring injury, it probably shouldn't require to make a common-sense point like that anyway.

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Posted on: October 22, 2011 10:27 am
Edited on: October 22, 2011 12:26 pm
 

Dez thinks Cowboys are 'unbeatable,' pros easier

Posted by Will Brinson

The Cowboys are currently 2-3. They're a tremendous disappointment thus far in 2011, and have some, ahem, trust issues, but, as we talked about on the most recent podcast, Dallas dealt with a tough schedule through the first five games and are just now getting healthy, setting them up as a sleeper to make a run in a wide-open NFC East.

Unless Dez Bryant decides to blow their cover by saying ridiculous things. Like, for instance, that the Cowboys are "unbeatable" and the "pros is much easier" than college football.

"I like to keep my personal goals to myself," Bryant said during a recent interview at the Dallas House of Blues, via the Dallas Morning News. "As far as the team, I like our chances. I feel like, it may sound crazy, I think we are unbeatable."

Yes, the obvious counterargument is that the Cowboys have already lost. Three times. But apparently it doesn't count in the L column if you beat yourself.

"I think the losses, we lost those games ourselves," Bryant continued. "I feel like once we get back in that meeting room and regroup, and we learn from our mistakes, the sky's the limit."

This is very, very true. The Cowboys don't have issues with the people that are on the field for them, insofar as athletic skill and raw talent is concerned. They're fielding a team that's capable -- on paper -- of winning the Super Bowl.


But, as Bryant points out, the Cowboys make silly mistakes. Like giving a Tom Brady and the Pats the ball back with 2:43 left in a game at home and down less than a touchdown. Or like insulting NFL defenses by saying that it's easier to play receiver than in college.

"I really think the pros is much easier," Bryant said. "The reason I say that is because in college I didn't see too much man, too much 1-on-1. I always got double-teamed and a lot of zone coverages. When I see that one-on-one in the league, my eyes get big. I start visualizing what I'm going to do after the play."

OK, real quickly: why is it that people can't delineate between statements that are "team-oriented" and "silly"? Because surely Bryant doesn't think NFL defensive backs are no good, and surely he understands he only gets a ton of one-on-one looks because there are other good receiving options on his team. Surely he gets that. Right?

Look, Bryant was saying these things on an episode of Inside the Huddle, a weekly FSN show which is filmed at the Dallas HoB and co-hosted by Miles Austin and Tashard Choice. It's a relaxed environment in front of Cowboys fans, and no doubt he felt comfortable saying some outlandish things to his teammates. (See for yourself here -- spicy quotes begin at 13:43.)

Additionally, Choice is the one interviewing Bryant. So Bryant didn't look at TMZ, pound his chest and scream "we are UNBEATABLE!" -- he's just telling a teammate in front of a bunch of Cowboys fans (albeit with a camera rolling) that he thinks Dallas is really good.

The problem is those darn cameras. Dez needs to realize that they're usually running whenever he or someone on the Cowboys says anything.

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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