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Tag:Dallas Cowboys
Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:41 am
Edited on: December 22, 2011 10:44 am
 

Keep an Eye on: Week 16's finer points

Julius Peppers will play a big role in stopping Aaron Rodgers. (Getty Images)
Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

Packers vs. Bears
The question is, What did the Chiefs do to make the Packers imperfect, and can the Bears do it too? In short, the Chiefs did nothing special. They ate up clock offensively, running on early downs and sustaining drives with conversions on several third-and-manageable situations. They stayed in base personnel That kept the Packers in their base 3-4, which is plainer than rice cake compared to the blitzes and disguises from their nickel and dime packages. Against that front, Kyle Orton was able to manipulate the defense with play action and eye movement.


Defensively, the Chiefs played press-man against the Packers’ receivers, which the Chiefs had just enough resources to do given Greg Jennings was out. They often rushed only three and forced Aaron Rodgers to beat them from the pocket. Normally, Rodgers would do that with ease, but Sunday he was uncharacteristically jumpy.

The Bears can certainly play this rudimentary style of football – any team can. But that doesn’t mean it will work for them. It hasn’t worked for them yet, after all. Caleb Hanie has been asked to manage the game and has often responded by ruining it (three interceptions in three of his four starts). With no staple ground attack, the Bears haven’t even been in position to play dink and dunk football.

Defensively, Chicago has moved away from the archaic Tampa 2 and towards more press coverage schemes. But their press coverage has not been pure man-to-man, perhaps because of Charles Tillman’s limitations in change-of-direction. It’s doubtful the Bears can simply out-execute the Packers’ receivers; instead they’ll need Julius Peppers & Co. to exploit that injury-riddled offensive line.

Cowboys vs. Eagles
Apparently the 2011 Eagles just needed 12 games to find their identity. The last two weeks they’ve looked like what everyone originally expected them to look like. It’s not that the players are finally getting comfortable in the system, it’s that the system has been tweaked and is finally logical.

Defensively, the Eagles have played more press-coverage and have mixed things up in their pass-rush (for example, aligning Trent Cole and Jason Babin at standup inside linebacker positions behind a two-man line against the Jets – a tactic that generated two of Babin’s three sacks).

They’ve moved Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to dime back, giving the slot nickel duties back to Joselio Hanson. They’ve inserted Casey Matthews back into the lineup, not as a starter but as a nickel linebacker, where he’s been fairly comfortable. Thanks to all this (and more), this defense has given up just 29 points and has recorded 11 sacks over the last two games.

Offensively, Philly’s line is doing a much better job picking up blitzes. The receivers are reading coverages and Michael Vick is playing with patience in the pocket. Vick’s limited football IQ has still led to a few unnecessary hits and missed opportunities, but the good has far outweighed the bad.

LeSean McCoy was bottled up by the Dolphins but, working out of spread formations, he produced 102 yards on 18 carries against the Jets. He’s scored five touchdowns the past two games.

The Eagles won their first meeting with the Cowboys handily. Even on the road this week, it wouldn’t be a shock to see them do that again.

Saints vs. Falcons
No one is playing better than Drew Brees right now, though Matt Ryan has played well enough to make the Falcons this year’s Wild Card Team That Nobody Wants to Face.

After an up and down start, Ryan has gotten comfortable with the Falcons’ new pass-oriented system. That system has had them operating out of 11 personnel (one back, one tight end, three wide receivers) in a no-huddle. Ryan has called most of the game at the line of scrimmage.

This has helped Atlanta on several fronts. For one, Michael Turner, though a power back, has been very good running from the wider 2 x 1 receiver formations. In these sets, Turner gets a clearer picture of his running lanes and faces more cornerbacks and fewer linebackers at the second level.

Secondly, the Falcons can create more inside spacing for Tony Gonzalez, which punishes defenses that try to defend him with a linebacker. Defenses that put a safety on Gonzalez are leaving single coverage on either Julio Jones or Roddy White.

Perhaps the best benefit of the hurry-up is, with all the audibling, Ryan controls the pass protections. That’s given Ryan a much better understanding of where the defensive pressure is likely to come from. Ryan’s presnap protection calls will play a huge factor in the outcome Monday night, as the Saints are known for their aggressive blitzes.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 8 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 4:52 pm
 

Rodgers tops Pro Bowl voting; Tebow third AFC QB

Aaron Rodgers led the way in all Pro Bowl voting.(Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

We've wondered whether or not Tim Tebow is a Pro-Bowl candidate before this year and the answer is probably "no." But that doesn't matter when it comes to Pro-Bowl voting, where Tebow was the third-highest vote getter among AFC quarterbacks.

Aaron Rodgers, named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year on Wednesday, was the top vote-getter among all NFL players, pulling in 1,581,982 votes from fans. Tom Brady was second among all NFL players with 1,454,311 votes. Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker and tight end Rob Gronkowski joined Brady in the top 10, via NFL.com:

Top-10 Pro Bowl Vote Getters
Player Position Team Votes
Aaron Rodgers
QB Packers 1,581,982
Tom Brady
QB Patriots 1,454,311
Drew Brees
QB Saints 1,188,893
Calvin Johnson
WR Lions 1,180,777
Wes Welker
WR Patriots 1,133,787
LeSean McCoy
RB Eagles 962,824
Rob Gronkowski
TE Patriots 936,886
Ben Roethlisberger
QB Steelers 935,535
Adrian Peterson
RB Vikings 925,554
Mike Wallace
WR Steelers 923,073

So, yeah, breaking: the Patriots and Steelers are popular! Also popular? Tebow.

AFC Pro Bowl Leaders by Position
Offense Defense
Player Pos Team Votes Player Pos Team Votes
Tom Brady
QB Patriots 1,454,311 Andre Carter
DE Patriots 511,693
Arian Foster
RB Texans 896,804 Haloti Ngata
DT Ravens 592,603
Vonta Leach
FB Ravens 149,801 Terrell Suggs
OLB Ravens 546,851
Wes Welker
WR Patriots 1,133,787 Ray Lewis
MLB Ravens 413,222
Rob Gronkowski
TE Patriots 936,886 Darrelle Revis
CB Jets 561,986
Michael Oher
OT Ravens 327,644 Troy Polamalu
SS Steelers 230,649
Logan Mankins
G Patriots 337,844 Ed Reed
FS Ravens 198,075
Maurkice Pouncey
C Steelers 376,457 Shane Lechler
P Raiders 228,782
Sebastian Janikowski
K Raiders 244,512 Joe McKnight
KR Jets 140,926

Once again, I'll point out that the Ravens and Patriots are popular (and also good at what they do), along with the Steelers. Brendon Ayanbadejo was the leading "special teams" vote-getter, with 106,515. On the NFC side, well, I hope you like the Packers:

NFC Pro Bowl Leaders by Position
Offense Defense
Player Pos Team Votes Player Pos Team Votes
Aaron Rodgers
QB Packers 1,581,982 Jared Allen
DE Vikings 784,527
LeSean McCoy
RB Eagles 962,824 Justin Smith
DT 49ers 525,578
John Kuhn
FB Packers 322,260 DeMarcus Ware
OLB Cowboys 581,554
Calvin Johnson
WR Lions 1,180,777 Patrick Willis
MLB 49ers 581,554
Jimmy Graham
TE Saints 725,612 Charles Woodson
CB Packers 763,198
Chad Clifton
OT Packers 392,106 Roman Harper
SS Saints 147,542
T.J. Lang
G Packers 327,740 Morgan Burnett
FS Packers 223,292
Scott Wells
C Packers 436,693 Andy Lee
P 49ers 161,812
Mason Crosby
K Packers 184,665 Devin Hester
KR Bears 268,293

For the NFC, Jarrett Bush of the Packers received the most special teams votes with 134,696. (And yes, I suppose I could have kick returners on the offense side, but I'm not trying to have my tables be all uneven. Oh no I'm not.)

Naturally, none of this means any of these guys are guaranteed to make the Pro Bowl -- the fan vote only counts as one-third of the total. The players vote is worth two-thirds. But there's a good chance that many of these guys will end up in the Pro Bowl.

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 20, 2011 10:11 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 9:03 am
 

Jerry Jones is 'scared' of Eagles right now

Jerry Jones is 'scared' of Philly this weekend.(US Presswire)
By Will Brinson

The NFC East's been a wild, wild roller-coaster ride this season with every team but the Eagles (the prohibitive preseason favorite) holding sole possession of first place at one point in time.

To wit: Two weeks ago, the Cowboys had their dreams shattered by the Giants on Sunday night ... only to have the Giants pick up the pieces and put it all back together when they folded at home against the Redskins in Week 15. Like I said, crazy. So it's no surprise that Jerry Jones is "scared" of the Eagles when they come into Dallas on Christmas Eve.

"After the butt-kicking they gave us up in Philadelphia, I'm scared," Jones said on KRLD-FM Tuesday, via Marc Sessler of NFL.com. "It's that kind of feeling. The respect turns into being afraid of what they can do to you if you have some breakdowns out there -- so you can put that 'scared' there if you want to.

"I think sometimes I know I do my best when I'm scared."

Unfortunately for Jones, he won't be playing, so however he does may not matter. (Unless in light of recent clock management issues he's decided to wire his owner's box with a line to Jason Garrett's headset.)


It will matter how his players do, though, and they also have every right to be scared. One, the Eagles crushed the Cowboys the last time they played. Two, the Eagles are pretty warm right now and still -- somehow -- in contention to win the division.

And three, a loss would give the Giants a chance to steal first place in the division back and set up a win-or-go-home matchup in New York in Week 17. If they lose that game, the biggest fear for plenty of people will be losing their jobs. And that's reason enough to be scared right now.

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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 16, 2011 9:19 am
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Week 15 preview + Thurs review

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Thursday night's scorcher of a game between the Jaguars and Falcons kicked off Week 15's action, and the guys wonder whether Atlanta is getting hot at the right time, if Jacksonville has any hope and just how awesome Shahid Khan's mustache is.

Then they turn their attention to the rest of the week's slate, debating who's in more trouble if they lost Saturday between Raheem Morris and Jason Garrett, why Rick Perry is talking about Tim Tebow, how much trouble Sam Hurd is in and why he did the things he allegedly did, whether the Broncos can actually upset the Patriots, if the Eagles can make a run, why Joe Flacco is whining about Tim Tebow's media coverage and much, much more.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 15, 2011 12:05 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 7:45 am
 

Sam Hurd arrested on federal drug charges

Hurd allegedly wanted to buy 10 kilograms of cocaine and a half-ton of marijuana per week. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Bears wide receiver Sam Hurd was arrested Wednesday night on federal drug charges after he allegedly attempted to purchase drugs from a North Texas supplier.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, Hurd told an undercover operative that he wanted up to 10 kilograms of cocaine and a half-ton of marijuana per week "for distribution in the Chicago area." He added that he was willing to pay $25,000 per kilo and $450 per pound.

According to a report from 670 The Score (via CBS Chicago), "Hurd was a top drug dealer in Chicago and police have a list of NFL players who were supplied drugs by the receiver, a law enforcement source told the radio station. The list is 'in the double-digits,' according to the source."

More details via the criminal complaint (by way of the Dallas Morning News):

"…[H]is co-conspirator is in charge of doing the majority of the deals as Hurd focuses on the 'higher-end' deals. Hurd subsequently inquired if the UCA (undercover operative) and the CI (confidential informant involved in the case) could provide him with Mexican cellular telephones, as Hurd believed that law enforcement did not have the capability of listening to Mexican telephones."

One of Hurd's attorney's, David Kenner, said Hurd will fight the charges.

"Sam intends to fight these charges, and we intend to defend him fully," said Kenner. "We have complete confidence in him."

Kenner, who once defended Snoop Dogg of murder charges, said this is not the first time he's had a case where his client seemed doomed from the start.

"They start off looking terrible, and then we end up with 'not guiltys,'" Kenner said.

A handcuffed Hurd didn't comment on the charges, but when asked if he was still a member of the Bears said, "As far as I know."

Roy Williams, Hurd's teammate in Chicago and before that  in Dallas, said via CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Gene Chamberlain: "I'm distraught about the situation. It's a situation that I don't want anyone to be in, especially a close friend and a teammate that I've been playing with now for four or five years now, especially a guy from Texas with a wife and daughter."

More from linebacker Brian Urlacher: "Outside of here I don't know him very well, but he comes to work every day and practices hard and plays hard. ... He's always been really friendly. He says 'hi' in the hallway every time you walk by him. You know I walk by him 10 times a day in the hallway and he still says hi every time." 

Linebacker Lance Briggs called the whole episode sad: "Whether it’s a teammate, whether it’s another football player, baseball, basketball, it doesn’t really matter. You hate to see this happen to anyone. That’s just it. We all make mistakes. But like I said, it’s just sad to see."

As for whether it's a distraction to the team, "There's a sports side, there’s a business side and then there’s a personal side, and, when it comes to business as a professional, you have to take care of business," Briggs said, according to Chamberlain.  Urlacher added: "Obviously it's what we have to deal with with you [media] but football-wise it's not going to be an issue. We'll go out there and practice like we do every day and hopefully put it behind us when Sunday gets here ... 'til the game is over and we have to answer more questions about it."

The Bears released a statement Thursday afternoon: “We are aware of Sam’s arrest and are continuing to gather details surrounding it.  We are disappointed whenever these circumstances arise.  We will deal with them appropriately once we have all the information."

Hurd signed a three-year contract with the Bears in the offseason worth $5.15 million, including a $1.35 million signing bonus. Through 13 games,  he played primarily on special teams, catching just eight passes for 109 yards. Hurd played his college ball at Northern Illinois and was signed by the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2006. During his five years in Dallas, he had 45 receptions for 630 yards and two touchdowns.

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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.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Week 14 review + MNF preview

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Week 14's just about taken care of and several things are abundantly clear. Well, OK, not that much is clear, but we know that Tim Tebow is a winner.

On Monday's podcast, we break down Tebow's success against the Bears, who's to blame for the Cowboys latest fiasco, whether T.J. Yates can help the Texans win in the playoffs, if Greg Jennings injury is an indication that the Packers will sit or start their players the rest of the way, if Detroit's righted the ship with a narrow win against the Vikings, whether Raheem Morris is on the hot seat, plus much, much more.

Also, we preview the Seahawks-Rams Monday night scorcher of a matchup.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com