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Tag:Tony Romo
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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Posted on: October 20, 2011 9:59 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 10:18 pm
 

Jason Garrett says he trusts Tony Romo

The decision to run the ball late against the Pats had nothing to do with lack of faith in Romo. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was singled out last week by, welleverybody for his decision to run the ball late in the game against the Patriots. Dallas led by three at the time, handed the ball on three straight plays before punting to New England. That left Tom Brady 2:31 to lead an 80-yard touchdown drive. Want to take a guess how it turned out?

Let's just put it this way: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had this to say in the locker room afterwards:

“When you get in a situation like that, you’ve got to go for the kill,” he said. “I felt like we could’ve been more aggressive. Our defense had been good all day, but you knew Brady had a length-of-the-field drive in him -- so it didn’t surprise me at all when he took them down at the end.”

So, naturally, Garrett spent the week answering questions about that decision, and if he had lost faith in Tony Romo, the Cowboys quarterback with a knack for momentum-killing miscues.

“There is absolutely no issue in my trust level with Tony Romo,” Garrett said, according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Nick Eatman. “I think anyone who has followed this football team understands the trust that I have in him and our football team has in him. Playing quarterback in the NFL, there’s a tremendous amount of responsibility that comes with that. Tony knows that. He prepares for it and we know it as coaches. We give him a lot of responsibility on Sunday. He’s responded to that really well over the last four and a half years and there’s no reason for us to think otherwise.”


A full set of predictions for the 7th week of the season! Charles Barkley joins Cris Collinsworth, Phil Simms, and Warren Sapp for a super-sized web-exclusive from Inside the NFL. Also: don't forget to check out the Pregame: Rams-Cowboys edition.

Romo agrees with Garrett -- and disagrees with the notion that his three-interception effort against the Lions in Week 4 had any bearing on the play-calling against the Pats last Sunday.

“No, if you watch the game . . . our defense played outstanding,” he said in reference to the 20-16 loss to the Patriots. “It’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback to say something the day after. I trusted our defense too when they went out there. I felt very comfortable with our defense on the field in that game. I thought Jason has done a great job all year long. He’s going to keep doing a good job. We’re lucky to have him.”

One quibble: why would Romo trust any defense against Tom Brady with the game on the line? I get saying that publicly -- it's important to support your teammates and whatnot -- but he privately had to be seething about the decision to hand the ball off three consecutive times on the Cowboys' penultimate drive, right?

Maybe not.

“We study a lot for certain situations at the end of the games and anybody that was watching the game last week knew our defense played really outstanding football for the entire second half," Romo continued. "I don’t know how many points New England scored but it couldn’t have been that many. You go by what you’re watching and playing with and I didn’t envision their offense going down to score a touchdown either at the time. It’s easy to second guess but no me and Jason, we’re going to continue to go forward and have a great relationship. He’s a great coach.”

We're still not buying it. Either that, or Tony and Jason were the only two people on the planet who were shocked when Brady found Aaron Hernandez in the back of the end zone for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown.

The Cowboys host the Rams this week and Romo, who suffered a punctured lung and broken ribs in the Week 2 win over the 49ers, will continue to wear a protective Kevlar vest.

"They're getting better," Romo said after Thursday's practice, according to ESPNDallas.com. "Hopefully in a couple of weeks, they'll be all the way healed. Still the vest. I think we've got the [pain-killing] shot one more week hopefully and then we're done. We'll see. That's what they're telling me."

You know what else eases the pain? A convincing win to get back on track (Sorry, Rams!).

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Posted on: October 17, 2011 3:07 am
Edited on: October 17, 2011 1:34 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 6

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 6 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.

1. What's Your Deal?
By now, you've undoubtedly seen the little melee that erupted between Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz following San Francisco's 25-19 victory in Detroit.

NFL VP of Communications Greg Aiello confirmed to CBS Sports following the game that the NFL will look into the near-fight that went down, and I'd be pretty shocked if both coaches didn't get hit with some kind of fine. Though Harbaugh didn't do much that was noticeable on the video, he did admit following the game that he probably incited Schwartz' anger.

Schwartz, of course, chased Harbaugh down the field and had to be repeatedly pushed back from the crowd. No matter what Harbaugh did, it's hard to fathom that Schwartz behavior is remotely acceptable in the eyes of the league. And though Schwartz might have looked like the aggressor, the blame has to lie with Harbaugh on this one.

Looking ahead, this might not be a rivalry that dies quickly. Niners offensive lineman Anthony Davis, on his newly verified Twitter account, had a little trash talk of his own after the game.

"They talked s*** to us all week," Davis tweeted following the game. "We said nothin ... Came and kicked that a** ... its f***** football f*** classy.. Save classy for Mortons lol"

Steakhouse humor aside, it's worth mentioning Cliff Avril of the Lions saw Davis' tweet and pointed out that it was "real professional" -- Davis responded by pointing out that he "pancacked [Avril] on a passing play ... sooo uh just be quiet go home play with your kids."

So this shouldn't evolve into anything unpleasant in the near future at all!

What's fascinating about this whole thing is how people are defending both sides. Some folks think that Schwartz is an unhinged lunatic. Some think Harbaugh is an arrogant jerk. (Our own Mike Freeman noted on Twitter that Harbaugh's not making himself any friends around the league with his attitude.)

For me, it's hard to blame Schwartz for his reaction, given the way that Harbaugh behaved following San Francisco's victory:



Whatever, here's hoping they meet again in the playoffs. In the meantime, my top-five list for coaches I would pick for a steel-cage death match:

1. Jack Del Rio
2. Ron Rivera
3. Mike Tomlin
4. Jim Schwartz
5. Raheem Morris

Leave your picks in the comments.

2. Speaking of Coaches ...
You'll notice Sean Payton didn't make my top five. And he might not have even if he was healthy, but he certainly wouldn't be up there after the incident that took place on Sunday, when tight end Jimmy Graham came crashing into the sideline and blew up Payton's knee.

The Saints coach suffered a broken tibia and tore his the MCL in his left knee, which means he'll be knocked out of shape for quite a while.

"It's just one of those things, the play kind of got up on me quicker," Payton said Sunday. "I think the second part of the tackle seemed maybe all of a sudden. I mean, every once in a while you feel like you get pinned with the play and that's what happened."

Of course, Payton wasn't the only coach who was injured on Sunday in this game (think about that; seriously) -- Jimmy Lake, the Bucs defensive backs coach, tore his patellar tendon celebrating an interception celebrating, as Ryan says in the podcast above, Martin Gramatica style.

What I'm wondering is if Payton's injury might derail the Saints offense a little bit. Maybe that's a stretch, and he'll certainly have his hands all over the team's playcalling and management, but it doesn't sound like he'll be down on the field for a few weeks.

"I might have to be up in the press box for a few games," Payton said. "Because it’s a fracture, its different. If it’s the MCL you can have the brace, but the fracture on the outside means the weight-bearing part of it really changes."

Maybe it won't have any bearing -- with the Saints playing the Colts and Rams in the next two weeks, Drew Brees can probably manage the offense all by himself.

2. A Boy Named John
With Washington getting two weeks to prepare for the Eagles, and Philly looking very much like a punch-drunk boxer practically begging for a knockout shot, it stood to reason that the Redskins could take advantage of the Eagles porous defense and pick up a critical division win.

They didn't, and that's mainly because Rex Grossman turned into, well, Rex Grossman.

The 'Skins quarterback threw four interceptions -- three to Kurt Coleman -- and registered a couple of terrible interceptions that should have been picks. This led to him getting benched for backup John Beck.

“Well number one—we needed a spark," Mike Shanahan said afterwards. "John has been practicing very well the past couple of weeks and with four turnovers there we thought it was time to make a change and give John an opportunity to show us what he could do."

(Ed. Note: Week 6 review will be up early Monday.)

Beck, who's so fancy/awesome he dressed like a gas-station attendant for his post-game presser, isn't locked into the starting role yet, though, as Shanny refused to name next week's starter immediately following the game.

"I would never announce that right after a game," Shanahan said of his decision on who he'll start. "I would announce that later on in the week. We'll make a decision after looking at the film."

That's all fine and well, but who didn't see this coming? Because if the Redskins leading the NFC East after five weeks was the least likely thing in the entire world, then Grossman eventually imploding was on the opposite scale of predictability. And now this is quickly shaping up to be the second rendition of the Donovan McNabb-Grossman fiasco from last year.

On the bright side, it's less expensive?

"I want to play," Beck said, via Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post. "I want to be the quarterback. But I’m not the one that makes that decision, it’s coach, and they’ll make the best decision for the team ... What’s gonna happen next, I don’t know. But I’ll just do everything I can to be prepared if my number is called."

If it's me, I roll the dice with Beck, who seemed to at least provide a little spark to the team when he came on the field. It's not like he's been good this year, the Redskins defense has just kept Washington in games. And Grossman's now thrown three or more interceptions in seven of his 45 career starts. Which means 15 percent of the time that you put Grossman under center, there's a 15-percent chance he's going to hand the ball to the opposing defense multiple times.

3. Maybe Romo's Not the Only Choker?
For what feels like the fourth or fifth week this season, it's time to question Jason Garrett's playcalling for Dallas. With the game tied at 13 all and the Cowboys in the red zone, Garrett called a third-down shovel pass despite Dez Bryant sitting in single coverage.

The result was predictably predictable: the shovel pass didn't work and the Cowboys kicked a field goal to go up 16-13. Then, after forcing the Patriots to punt, Dallas ran three straight times (for negative-five yards) and the result was even more predictable: Dallas punted back to Tom Brady, giving him the ball down three points with 2:31 left on the clock.

If you've followed football at all for the last few years, you've probably already figured out what happened. Tom Brady did what Tom Brady does, which is carve up a defense en route to just another routine comeback/last-minute win.

By the time he hit Aaron Hernandez in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown, Dallas had just 22 seconds remaining on the clock to move the ball far enough down the field to get a shot at a Hail Mary, which Tony Romo threw out of bounds.

On that last drive, by the way, Romo completed two passes for 31 yards. Throw those passes on the previous series and we're talking about a signature win for the Cowboys, against the best team in the other conference at their place.

Instead, we're left to wonder why Garrett continually plays, as my colleague Pete Prisco wrote, not to lose, instead of utilizing the weapons he has on offense in the proper way. And by "we" I mean "me and Jerry Jones."

"You'll always second-guess whether or not we should have tried to run a little offense down there instead of running it three times," Jones said after the game, per our Pats Rapid Reporter Greg Bedard. "We went conservative rather than try to get some points and it bit us."

Jones said that doing so in a regular-season game was acceptable, but it's not the type of thing that he'd like to see in the playoffs. Of course, it's hard to imagine the Cowboys making the playoffs if they can't figure out how to turn trips to the red zone into more than three points a pop.

4. Bollers and Pryors OH MY
Many a pundit's willing to point out that the Oakland Raiders, while a half-game back of the Chargers, are the best AFC West team through the first six weeks of the season.

This isn't that far off. The Raiders are pretty good. But despite winning 24-17 over Cleveland on Sunday, Oakland suffered a seriously detrimental injury on Sunday, as quarterback Jason Campbell broke his collarbone and will likely miss the remainder of the season.

“I’m not going to let this football team blink," coach Hue Jackson said Sunday. "We’ll miss Jason for a little while. I have no idea how long it will take [for him to recover]. We’ll see as we go. I know obviously he won’t be here next week. We’ll continue to press forward and get better."

That's the optimistic point of view. The pessimistic? Kyle Boller, Terrelle Pryor and Shane Lechler are now the top-three quarterbacks on Oakland's depth chart. Yikes.

So Oakland has a couple of options going forward. One, roll with Boller. (Again, yikes.) Two, let Darren McFadden carry the ball 50 times a game. (Not terrible, but it could cause some long-term issues in terms of his health.) Three, go out and get another quarterback.

A couple of names spring to mind immediately: Kyle Orton, Donovan McNabb, David Garrard and Carson Palmer. Garrard makes sense because he's openly said he wants to play for a contender and the Raiders, at 4-2, certainly fit the bill.

Orton, McNabb and Palmer seem like longer shots as trade possibilities, but the Raiders have about 36 hours to make a deal, and it's reasonable that the Broncos, Vikings and Bengals would be interested in getting something back for guys that are either going to ride pine the rest of the year or won't bother showing up.

5. Don't Forget the Defense



In this, the year of ridiculously silly offensive outputs in the NFL, it's easy to just gawk at high-powered offensive teams and assume they will end up winning the most games and doing the most damage in the postseason.

But we need to recognize the Ravens for the dirty work they're doing on the defensive side of the ball, suppressed their league-leading points-allowed total to 71 Sunday after casually shut down Houston in a 29-14 victory. Baltimore held 2010 rushing champ Arian Foster to just 49 yards on 15 carries, and limited Matt Schaub to 220 yards and a touchdown in a dominant defensive performance that should make some people take notice.

Ryan and I debated this audio-style, but I think there's a legitimate argument that the Ravens are the best team in the AFC and can contend for the best team in the NFL. Clearly -- quite clearly -- the Packers are the cream of the crop at the moment.

But anyone in the NFL can score these days. Few teams can stop the opposition from scoring. With Haloti Ngata serving as the lynchpin for the defensive line and wrecking havoc on opponents' offensive lines, and with a secondary that's surprising this year, and with Ray Lewis playing rejuvenated ball, the Ravens can do that.

They're lacking in offensive consistency more so than a lot of other teams around the league -- Joe Flacco alternating between awesome and terrible this season is pretty terrifying if you're a Baltimore fan -- but Ray Rice is so good right now that he can carry the Ravens when Flacco's struggling.

And if Rice isn't up for the task, the defense isn't afraid to take over either. Which separates the Ravens from most everyone else in the league.

6. Madden Up to His Old Curses Again
What the hell is going on in Cleveland? Because, one, the Browns aren't winning, so that's a problem. And two, Peyton Hillis has some serious drama surrounding him these days.

We've detailed the drama before (numerous times, actually), but Sunday took things to a whole new level. For starters, Hillis rushed just six times for 14 yards and then left with a hamstring injury, pulling up lame after taking a second-quarter screen pass from Colt McCoy only to have it negated by an illegal shift penalty.

After halftime, Hillis returned and appeared to be out for the game. This is fine, if it's because of injury. Except Hillis returned to the game ... and didn't get any carries. He blocked for McCoy and was on the field, but didn't rush the ball at all.

The Browns weren't exactly ground heavy during the game -- Montario Hardesty only had 11 carries for a meager 35 yards -- and McCoy ended up throwing 45 times (his lowest passing-attempt total on the year is now 32, which is also a bit disconcerting), but to see Hillis hurt but maybe not hurt enough to sit out the rest of the game especially after a controversial injury earlier in the year, well, let's just say that something ain't stirring the Kool-Aid in Cleveland.

7. Ponder This
Sunday night, Christian Ponder got his first real action for the Vikings in their 39-10 blowout loss Sunday night. I mentioned this when writing about the substitution, but you can't pin everything that's going wrong on Donovan McNabb.

He's not the guy refusing to block defenders, and he's not the guy allowing other teams to score 20-plus points in the second halves of games. But it's understandable that some of the players on the team might be a little interested in seeing what Ponder, who at least looked more, um, energetic than McNabb, can do.

"I'm not a coach, but this team definitely could use a spark wherever that may come from," wide receiver Percy Harvin said.

Again, McNabb hasn't been that bad. But the Vikes are 1-5, going nowhere in (arguably) the toughest division in football and need to find out if Ponder's their guy for the long term.

Because at this rate, they'll have another pretty critical decision about some talented young quarterbacks at the top of the 2012 draft as well.

For the Bears part, lets give credit to Mike Martz and Lovie Smith for learning that if you actually give Jay Cutler help to block pass rushers, you can produce offensively.

Except they learned this last year, too. Remember how the Bears stunk and Cutler looked like a candidate for serious brain damage through the first few weeks in 2010? And then the Bears started running the ball more and protecting Cutler? Yeah, maybe next year they'll remember before they're a quarter of the season in.



8. Down South in ... Tampa Bay?
The Saints were supposed to blow out the LeGarrette Blount-less Buccaneers this weekend and the Panthers were supposed to upset the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. And then I was going to spend a large chunk of this column talking about the Panthers secretly being the second-best team in the NFC South.

Well, apparently no one else in the entire world got the same memo I did (thanks a lot for not forwarding the revised copy, you big jerks), because the Panthers got handily dismantled 31-17 in Atlanta and the Bucs straight up took care of business in route to grabbing the division lead with a 26-20 win over New Orleans.

If you missed it, lemme fill you on why the Panthers lost: their defense is terrible. It's not bad coaching and it's not to mean to the guys in the lineup, but the best way for Tiki Barber to revive his career would be to just try and get a tryout with whoever's playing the Panthers in the coming week, because there's a decent chance he could scamper for a buck fifty against that fishnet of a rushing defense.

They'll get better in the future and there's no reason to question Ron Rivera's capability as a defensive coach, but if you can run the ball, you can kill the Panthers. After Cam Newton threw a terrible pick to defensive lineman Corey Peters, the Falcons got the ball up a touchdown with six minutes left to play. Eight plays later -- seven of them running -- they were up 14 points.

Everyone knew they were going to run and there still wasn't any way for Carolina to stop it. New Orleans is a different deal, though, because Blount's absence meant the Bucs would struggle (in their wins thus far, he'd done well, and in their losses he hadn't; it's science!). Instead, Earnest Graham piled up 109 rushing yards on 17 carries, Josh Freeman got loose with Arrelious Benn and the Saints found themselves in a 20-10 halftime hole that they couldn't ever climb out of.

In short, a motivated Tampa Bay team showed up, created turnovers and completely flipped our perspective on the NFC South.

9. Bungle in the Jungle
The Ravens, as noted above, are the class of the AFC North. And the Steelers are coming off a second-straight win in which their defense prevailed and Rashard Mendenhall and the running game looked good.

But it would be silly to discount what the Bengals have done this year, moving to 4-2 after a 27-17 win over Indy, especially considering most of the offensive production is coming from a pair of rookies in Andy Dalton and A.J. Green.

Dalton's not lighting up the statistical sheet, per se, as he's averaging just 218.5 passing yards per game, and he's only found the end zone seven times. But four of those have been to fellow rook Green, and -- I'm as surprised to be writing this as you are reading it -- Marvin Lewis was write about his offense getting an upgrade during the offseason.

And the Bengals are benefiting from a soft schedule; they could realistically be undefeated, considering that their two losses were by a combined seven points. Of course, it doesn't hurt that they have the second-best defense in the league, allowing just 278.5 yards per game. That defense has

The schedule gets harder down the road -- multiple matchups with both Baltimore and Pittsburgh loom -- but there are four more games left where the Bengals will either be favored or basically a pick 'em. The idea that this team could win eight games as recently as September was, well, not there. The four they have now is probably what they'd have topped out in most preseason projections.

And now they're a reasonable contender for a Wild-Card berth if a few things go their way in the rest of their division matchups.

10. Things to Do In Denver on Your Bye
It's fascinating to me that a team like the Broncos could, somehow, manage to create a ton of noise about their team. On their bye week. Without really talking about Tim Tebow.

I mean, there was some Tebow talk this week, of course, but it wasn't out of control. Charley Casserly reported that the Broncos won't change their offense much for Tebow, and that's probably a good thing and/or not that surprising, since this is a John Fox offense.

Most of the noise centered around Denver's decision to start trying to ship every single talented veteran on the roster out of town. Brandon Lloyd wants gone, and it seems like he could be moved before Monday's practice (the team apparently doesn't think he can be on the same field as the coaching staff). Eddie Royal's on the block too and he's generating some interest; this makes sense since both player are rentals for the rest of the year.

Kyle Orton's situation is a little more interesting. He'll also be a free agent after this year, and one would think that he'd LOVE to get out of town since a) the coaches yanked him in Week 5 for Tebow despite acting like Tebow's worse than Brady Quinn, b) he'll be a free agent in the offseason and c) he's more reviled by the fans around Mile High than Carmelo Anthony during his "trade me to New York or else" run last year.

But the Broncos issued a statement on Sunday night denying rumors that Orton wanted a trade, so apparently he's content hanging around and playing -- ahem -- nursemaid to Tebow. Or he thinks the experiment will fail miserably and he'll be starting in a couple weeks anyway.

Regardless, Denver, you're 1-4. Spend the bye week getting better, not drawing attention to yourselves when you're not playing please.

Muffed Punts
Leftovers from Sunday's action ...
... Shane Lechler's first career pass attempt also produced his first career touchdown pass, when the Raiders faked a field goal in the third quarter against the Browns. Oddly enough, Lechler was the emergency quarterback, set to replace Kyle Boller who replaced the injured Jason Campbell.
... No one will talk about it because they won and because of Handshake Gate, but Jim Harbaugh threw a challenge flag on a scoring play. Huge gaffe, since those are all automatically reviewed. It cost him an unsportsmanlike conduct delay of game penalty.
... Drew Brees became the first quarterback in NFL history to post four-straight games of 350 or more yards passing.
... Packers are now just the seventh defending Super Bowl champ to start the next season 6-0.

Worth 1,000 Words


 
Jim Irsay Pop-Culture Referencing Tweet That's Sure to Drive Colts Fans Insane of the Week
"Little red light on the highway...big green light on the speedway...hey,hey,hey"

This one might seem meaningless ... unless you happen to be a Grateful Dead fan and recognize the lyrics to "West L.A. Fadeaway." In which case you, like me, are clearly one of the first people to realize that Irsay's moving the Colts to Los Angeles. Who didn't see that coming?

GIF O' THE WEEK

Big ups to @Jose3030 for pulling this clip of LeSean McCoy pulling an aggressive version of the Pillsbury doughboy poke on Eagles coach Andy Reid. There's so much that's perfect about it, from Reid's stomach jiggling to Reid's head snapping back to Reid being totally unprepared for the punch, to McCoy later tweeting an apology for doing it.



Hot Seat Tracker
  • Jack Del Rio -- He wasn't supposed to beat the Steelers, in Pittsburgh. And he didn't. But the Jaguars showed some life. Still hard to imagine he survives this season though.
  • Jim Caldwell -- In the words of the Talking Heads, stiiiiiiiiiiiiillllll waiiiiiiting ...
  • Tony Sparano -- He only lasts through 2012 if Steve Ross is waiting out Jon Gruden.
  • Steve Spagnuolo -- Another guy who wasn't supposed to win Sunday, and he's been ravaged by injuries. But man, how did we all think they'd win the division?
  • Jason Garrett -- Perhaps a bit early, but Jerry Jones is questioning his playcalling. That's never good.
  • Leslie Frazier -- He needs to go to Ponder now to keep his seat cool.
  • Ken Wisenhunt -- He's got the Cards practicing on their off day during their bye week. Might be feeling some pressure.
Chasing Andrew Luck
You'll notice a shifting of the odds this week -- we're no longer accepting wagers that return any money to you. Mainly because there are just too many crappy teams in the NFL right now.

Colts (-500): The Jaguars and Panthers sandwich their Week 11 bye, and besides a Week 17 date at Jacksonville, well, those are the only games that even remotely look winnable right now.
Dolphins (-350): Their schedule is also quite bleak. At least their fans are happy?
Rams (-250): Al Harris is one of their starting cornerbacks. This is not 2001.
Broncos (-225): They're doing everything in their power to deal away anyone with any talent. And this is different than the Josh McDaniels era how?
Vikings (-125): Minny still has Adrian Peterson? Guh that Bears game was depressing.

MVP Watch
Pretty clearly, there's only one choice: Aaron Rodgers. Guy's doing everything he did down the stretch in 2010 but now it's being spread out over the course of a regular season. If he keeps this up, the Packers will have as many losses as there are people who don't pencil his name in for the top MVP vote.
Posted on: October 13, 2011 8:14 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 6:39 am
 

Report: NFL clears Dez Bryant on failed drug test

Bryant's in the clear, Witten confused by Cooley's comments on Romo. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant had a busy offseason, what with the saggy pants saga, the unpaid debts and the public renouncements from one-time mentors.  Finally, some good news: Bryant, who apparently failed a drug test during training camp, reportedly has been cleared by the NFL "due to the technicality of not having proper identification," a source tells the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Clarence Hill.

More details:
Rookie running back DeMarco Murray is the process of clearing his name after getting caught in the same snafu during camp. “One has been cleared, and one is pending,” a source said. “You have to have your driver's license with you or some type of government ID. They didn’t have their IDs. Dez has been cleared. That is my understanding, and the other [Murray] is in the process of being cleared.”
It gets better: Bryant practiced throughout the Cowboys' bye week and should be ready to go when the team faces New England on Sunday. Also ready to go: quarterback Tony Romo, who will take a pain-killing shot and wear a Kevlar vest to protect a broken rib.


This Sunday, The Dallas Cowboys look will travel to Gillette Stadium to square off against the New England Patriots. Join Jason Horowitz and NFL.com's Pat Kirwan as they go inside the numbers to break down this matchup.

"I'm feeling better," Romo said, according to the Dallas Morning News. "Every week that goes by gets better and better. Hopefully in about a couple of weeks it'll be back to normal. Until then we have to do some little things to get over it."

Despite the progress, Romo continues to have doubters, even when he's not playing. And this comes a week after Redskins tight end Chris Cooley took great pleasure in Romo's choke job against the Lions in Week 4 (if it somehow wasn't obvious, Cooley was joking).

In related news, Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was asked recently about Cooley's comments on his teammate, his quarterback.

“My granddad taught me when I was younger if you don’t have anything good to say don’t say anything at all," Witten said during an appearance on KTCK in Dallas (via SportsRadioInterviews.com). "I probably shouldn’t say anything. I don’t get that one. I really don’t. Chris has been a good player for a long time. To get to that point I don’t see why that came up. Hey look you can’t worry about that. Trust me. I know Tony doesn’t. That doesn’t affect him at all. It’s disappointing to see in some ways, but hey look it is part of the game and Chris has been a great player in this league for a long time. It’s disappointing to see him say that. That’s part of it.”

If Witten didn't get that, we wonder if he's seen this from a few years ago:


Witten does say "We’ve hung out a few times and been to the Pro Bowl a couple of times together. He’s a nice guy and has a funny personality." But clearly, they have different ideas of what constitutes funny.

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Posted on: October 13, 2011 6:54 pm
 

Jacobs: Eli is '100% better' QB than Tony Romo

Romo or Eli: Who ya got? (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Will Brinson

Much has been made this year about what kind of quarterback Eli Manning is, with respect to his peers. (Although I suppose it's not that different from any other year, then.) The first instance happened when Eli compared himself to Tom Brady in terms of where they rank in the NFL.

And now Brandon Jacobs, Giants running back, is generating a new comparison, one that's sure to fire up Cowboys fans.

"He's definitely a 100% better quarterback than Tony Romo. No question," Jacobs told Mike McCarthy of USA Today recently.

Hmmm. This is actually pretty interesting comparison -- I don't think that there's a consensus, if you took a quick straw poll, about who's better between Eli and Romo.

Eli's got a Super Bowl and, um, more than zero playoff wins, so that's probably a trump card for people who like to believe that quarterback wins have a direct correlation with quarterback talent. In equally worthless counting stats, Romo has three Pro Bowls, while Eli has just one.

Manning was drafted in 2004, just like Romo, but he got starts sooner -- Romo first started in 2006, while Eli got under center for the Giants in 2005. Eli has 24,132 passing yards in career, good for 219.4 a game, he averages 6.9 yards per attempt for his career, and has a career 167:118 TD:INT ratio.

Romo on the other hand, has 17,923 yards for his career, good for 192.7 a game, averages 8.1 yards per attempt and has a career 125:67 TD:INT ratio.

Manning sports, via Pro-Football-Reference, a 108 TD%+ (100 is average, higher or lower is better or worse than average) and a 95 INT%+. Romo sports a 118 TD%+ and a 99 INT%+, so they're basically even there. Romo's passer rating index is 116, per PFR, while Eli's is 98. (Again, 100 is average.)

Both are equal in terms of how people perceive them in the media, at least in the sense that people love to argue about whether or not they're "clutch."

I'd never expect Jacobs to say anything other than positive things for Eli, and if I were starting a team, I'd probably -- and I find this surprising -- go with Manning, since he's got the pedigree, the Super Bowl and he's younger.

But I wouldn't fault you if you said you wanted Romo either.

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Posted on: October 5, 2011 7:30 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 11:39 pm
 

Cooley: 'There's no personal thing with Romo'

Apparently, there will be no Romo-Cooley cage match. (AP/US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Somehow it wasn't entirely clear that Redskins tight end Chris Cooley was kidding when he said of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, "It's amazing -- amazing -- to watch him choke like that." Cooley was referring to Dallas' "Hey, let's get up 24 points on the Lions and see if we can lose" game plan, which worked to perfection.

Not helping matters: Cooley was just getting warmed up -- he also said that he wanted to square off against Romo in a cage fight. "For me to beat Tony? I’m gonna be honest, I don’t know what kind of cagefighting skills he has," Cooley said, according to the Washington Post's Dan Steinberg. "I would probably try to incorporate my wrestling ability, like when I was in high school. Obviously it’s been a while, but I didn’t like to beat people fast. I like to embarrass 'em a little bit. Like, take a 24-point lead, and then just play with it a little bit."

In a shocking development, Cooley's comedy shtick went over in Dallas about as well as a Romo pick-six … followed immediately by another one.

Cooley, to his credit, is taking the criticism in stride. Appearing on a podcast with SI.com's Jimmy Traina, he explained how his life has changed in the last 24 hours.

“It’s been actually pretty funny today,” Cooley told Traina, when asked if this thing is actual personal. “I’m getting murdered, MURDERED, by Cowboys fans, which is perfectly fine with me.

“No, there’s no personal thing with Tony Romo. I do a radio show with Chad Dukes and LaVar Arrington every Monday and we joke around and we have some fun, and they kind of ask me questions. People really are surprised when I just talk like a regular person, I guess. I mean, I’m a fan of the game and I’m a guy that cheers for the Redskins. Now, if you wanted me to go on a radio show and say everything politically correct and be boring, I mean, I have no problem doing that. I obviously have the ability to do that. But we just went on and had a little bit of fun.

“They said did I like watching him choke, and yeah, of course I liked watching him choke. An the biggest [criticism] was they beat us last week. Well, obviously. But I still enjoyed that the Cowboys lost [to the Lions]. I play for the Washington Redskins. I don’t see why anyone would think that I wouldn’t enjoy that.”

So there you have it. And you don't have to be a fan of the Redskins or Cooley to appreciate his sense of humor. Seriously, this is hysterical.


And, hey, it wasn't the most ridiculous thing to come out Washington this week. Tim Hightower predicted that the Redskins will be in the Super Bowl. This season.

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Posted on: October 5, 2011 11:40 am
 

Cooley mocks Romo, wants to cagefight him

Posted by Will Brinson

The rivalry between the Cowboys and Redskins is always entertaining, especially when you have characters like Chris Cooley involved. (For those that don't remember Cooley and then-teammate Colt Brennan did a mock video of Jason Witten and Tony Romo doing a "Fantasy Files" video. It's amazing.)

But Cooley might have taken things to a new level this time, mocking the Cowboys choke against Detroit last week and Romo's meltdown. Also, challenging Romo to fight.

"It’s SO good," Cooley said of Romo's play in Week 4, via Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post. "I was watching the scoreboard in St. Louis, and I didn’t see that they’d lost really until they end, I thought they blew them out so I kind of stopped paying attention. It’s amazing, AMAZINGto watch him choke like that.

"I’m just saying, I’m up 24 points in the third quarter, if I’m the head coach, I feel like I could probably just take a knee for the rest of the game, punt it away and there’s no way that Detroit’s gonna drive on you that many times," Cooley said. "The only way you’re gonna give up that many points is turnovers, right? It’s hilarious to watch him throw pick sixes, too, back-to-back. I loved it. But it wouldn’t be as good as my cage fight."

Cooley makes a pretty good point, and the same one I've been screaming about all week -- the Cowboys were up 24 points and weren't running the damn ball. Just because it's a passing league doesn't mean you have to pass. Run the ball. Melt the clock. Win the game. It's a pretty simple formula if you're up 24 points.

Whatever, the point being that Cooley also said he thinks he can take Romo in a cagefighting match. Arrington, per Steinberg, asked Cooley how long it would take to finish Romo off in the classic steel-cage format. The result is, predictably, awesome.

"For me to beat Tony? I’m gonna be honest, I don’t know what kind of cagefighting skills he has," Cooley said. "I would probably try to incorporate my wrestling ability, like when I was in high school. Obviously it’s been a while, but I didn’t like to beat people fast. I like to embarrass 'em a little bit. Like, take a 24-point lead, and then just play with it a little bit."

Well then -- the Redskins/Cowboys rivalry is just taking on a whole new turn of nastiness isn't it? Cooley seems to have already forgetten what happened in Week 3, when the Cowboys won on Monday night. But that's OK, it only makes the fight that much spicier.

With that in mind, let's break down the measurables. Or, at least, the stuff we like to compare between the two guys. To the tape!



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Posted on: October 4, 2011 12:03 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2011 1:05 pm
 

NFL Winners/Losers and experts live chat



Posted by Will Brinson



The world is a far better place when there are clear and distinct delineations between who is a winner and who is a loser. Since actual football records only do so much of that for us, let's dive into who's winning and who's losing a quarter of the way into the 2011 NFL season.

BUT FIRST -- we need to talk. No, seriously, let's chat -- starting at 1:00 pm ET on Wednesday. You can tell Pete Prisco his Power Rankings are awful, ask fantasy questions or just yell at me for not including [insert your favorite player's name here] in the winners list below. Either way, come on by.



WINNERS
Carolina Panthers: Yes, the Panthers are 1-3 and that is not what you would call winning. But this season, thanks solely to the early emergence of Cam Newton, is already eleventy billion times better than 2010, when the Panthers went 2-14. In fact, I'd argue that Carolina could lose out the rest of their schedule -- and they could! -- and it would be a better season than last year, when they despondently limped to the worst record in the NFL. There are plenty of arguments to be made against Newton's performance thus far (namely: he's posting some garbage-time stats and he's made plenty of rookie mistakes), but there's little doubt that Carolina landed themselves a franchise quarterback, and did so at a very reasonable cost.

Detroit Lions: This is a case where the record actually does match up with the placement. Matthew Stafford could go here, as he's proving himself to be a potentially elite quarterback. So could Calvin Johnson, who's vaulted himself into the pole position when it comes to wide receivers in the NFL. And so could Jim Schwartz, as he's clearly the best "new" head coach in the NFL. Which is why the organization as a whole gets the nod, since they've somehow managed to justify the hype and make the early Thanksgiving game -- a Packers-Lions matchup -- more meaningful than it's been in years.

Ryan Fitzpatrick/Fred Jackson: The oft-overlooked offensive duo that drives the Buffalo Bills are in full-on resurgence mode early in the season, with Jackson sitting at fourth in the NFL in rushing yards being the most obvious example. Fitzpatrick's been pretty spectacular himself even if his total passing yardage only ranks him 13th in the NFL. Passing yards can be misleading anyway -- he's thrown nine touchdowns to three interceptions and completed 63.4 percent of his passes. Most importantly, the Buffalo Bills are 3-1, something no one saw coming. They were so hot at one point this season that Fitzpatrick was impossible to book for an interview this season and both he and Jackson are working their way towards new, big-money contracts.

Matt Hasselbeck: Mentioned it in Sorting the Sunday Pile, but Hasselbeck is seeing a serious return to dominance as a result of his move to Tennessee. He's got 1,152 yards in just four games -- last season he barely crossed over 3,000 in 14. His average yards per pass is all the way up to 8.9, and his passing yards per game, 288, is currently the highest of his career. It helps to play for a coach that puts an emphasis on the offensive line, of course, and is willing to keep blockers at home in order to make sure Hasselbeck doesn't get touched and is able to throw the ball deep.

Darren Sproles: Arguably "the Saints" could be on this list ... just for landing Sproles. Has a guy ever fit what Sean Payton wants to do better than the diminutive Kansas State-star-turned-Chargers specialist? We used to think that Reggie Bush was the king of Payton's offensive scheming, and he did fit what the offensive guru loves to do, but Sproles, with better big-play burst, is the perfect addition to the already explosive Saints.

Gary Kubiak: First of all, kudos to the Texans for correctly playing the 2011 offseason. We've said this before, but they failed to draft for secondary help, which seemed weird, but now looks genius, especially since they went out and signed Johnathan Joseph in free agency. He's been a difference maker for Houston, and not just because he represents better value than Nnamdi Asomugha already. Kubes, on the other hand, is sitting at 3-1 and has a pretty clear path to a division title, the Titans success notwithstanding. Obviously the Texans aren't locked into the 2011 playoffs just yet, but their chances are looking pretty good right now, and that'll do a lot to justify his return for this season.

Matt Forte: Another topic in this past week's SSP, Forte is mauling defenses this year -- even if they are the Panthers! -- and forcing the Bears to pay him this offseason. For whatever reason, Chicago believed that Forte wasn't worth the cash and didn't pony up before 2011 began. That's fine, and that's their prerogative. But if they want to keep him, Forte's success this year is going to make it expensive.

NFL Fans: In just a few hectic weeks, fans of football went from "OMG, we might not get football at all this year" to "OMG, football is more exciting to watch than at any period of time, ever." We've seen scoring cranked up, we've seen incredible storylines (Lions, Bills, oh my), we've seen incredible comebacks (four 20-pointers in the last two weeks) and we've seen no truly noticeable ill effects of the missed offseason. If there are any complaints, it might be the new kickoff rules and the lack of consistency on replays. The former everyone who's not over now will be over by the end of the year, and the latter can be fixed. It's a good time to be an NFL fan.

LOSERS
Todd Haley: That Haley ended the quarter-season mark on a high note, with a victory over Minnesota, is a good thing. Otherwise the Chiefs might be starting at an 0-4 start and his seat would be somehow be hotter. It's really an unfathomable dropoff from winning the division in 2010. Haley's been victimized by a lot of key injuries -- Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki and Jamaal Charles all went down for the year -- but things weren't all that good with the win against Minny, as Haley managed to get in a screaming match with Matt Cassel.

Tony Romo: It amazes me that Romo can't do anything right. Or, maybe, he can't avoid whatever he does being scrutinized to the nth degree. After Week 1, when he threw a terrible pick against the Jets that cost him the game, he was a goat. Then he injured his ribs against the 49ers, led the Cowboys to victory and he was a hero. Then he played with busted ribs against the Redskins, overcame his entire team stinking the joint up and morphed into a different person that we knew.  Then came the Lions loss. Romo tossed back-to-back picks that Detroit took to the house and everyone hopped off the "I heart Romo" bandwagon and back on the "Choker" train. It's not fair to Romo because it's not all his fault, but none of that matters to anyone that applies the labels.

Ben Roethlisberger: For years, the Steelers have managed to succeed despite a porous offensive line. That's mainly because Roethlisberger's strength is keeping a play alive by being a physical beast. But even he's struggling to fight through the Steelers inability to block, and suddenly Pittsburgh's in a precarious position at 2-2 with Roethlisberger banged up. Of course, he missed time for non-injury reasons last year, and he also suffered through injuries and the Steelers line was also terrible last season. Still, it's hard to fathom Roethlisberger staying healthy if he keeps getting destroyed at this rate.

Kyle Orton/Donovan McNabb: Because quarterbacks seem to be succeeding at an earlier stage than ever before, there's immediate cries for the next guy any time a veteran struggles. Orton and McNabb, neither of whom is putting up great numbers thus far in 2011, are the best examples because of the two guys -- Tim Tebow and Christian Ponder, respectively -- who sit behind them. Both Orton and McNabb are slightly under 60 percent in terms of completion percentage this season, and while neither one is lighting up the scoreboard with touchdown passes and passing yardage, it's important to remember that one (Orton) is running a John Fox offense and the other (McNabb) is on a team with Adrian Peterson.

Juan Castillo: The Eagles shipped out Sean McDermont because Jim Johnson's shadow was too much to overcome. And then they brought in Castillo, who coached Philly's offensive line for 12 years. Yes, that's offensive line. Given that the Eagles added both Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the offseason, it looked like it might not matter. But Castillo's new-age "don't tackle" defense hasn't gone over well against an opponent yet, and the Eagles find themselves 1-3 primarily because they simply can't stop anyone. Sure, they're tough to pass on ... unless you have a good tight end. And if you don't, and you happen to have a decent power running game, you don't even have to worry about it.

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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