Dallas Cowboys: Bill Parcells

Jerry Jones: Defense can't be worse

June, 18, 2014
Jun 18
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IRVING, Texas -- Jerry Jones is the eternal optimist, as we all know.

The Dallas Cowboys defense will be without DeMarcus Ware (offseason release), Jason Hatcher (free-agent defection) and Sean Lee (torn anterior cruciate ligament), but the owner and general manager sees a defense that will be better in 2014 than it was in 2013 when it finished last in the league in yards allowed.

Jones
Jones
Why?

"Because we were so bad last year, there's no place but up," Jones said.

So there is that. The Cowboys made modest moves in free agency with the signings of Henry Melton, Jeremy Mincey, Terrell McClain and Amobi Okoye. They re-signed Anthony Spencer, who is not likely to be ready to start training camp as he recovers from microfracture knee surgery. They drafted DeMarcus Lawrence in the second round.

Mostly they are hoping for serious improvement from within.

The Cowboys finished 19th overall in defense in 2012. Injuries ravaged the defense by the end of the season, but that did not save Rob Ryan's job.

Last year the Cowboys made a scheme change, switching from the 3-4 under Ryan to the 4-3 scheme under Monte Kiffin. They did not make serious personnel additions (Will Allen, Justin Durant) and were hoping not only for improvement from within but scheme flexibility from players drafted to play in Bill Parcells' or Wade Phillips' 3-4.

It seemed as if the Cowboys thought 2013 would be better because it could not be worse than it was at the end of 2012, but Jones disagreed with the assessment.

"I can say it this year, we are better right now," Jones said. "And I think better on the field. We're certainly better on paper than we were at the end of the season last year. Not on paper at the beginning of the season last year, but on paper right now relative to how we ended up last year."

Cowboys chat recap: Where's the rush?

June, 13, 2014
Jun 13
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IRVING, Texas -- With the Dallas Cowboys closing up shop on their organized team activities this week, we had a lively chat on Wednesday.

In it we discussed:
  • The Cowboys’ salary-cap situation.
  • The Cowboys’ secondary situation.
  • The Cowboys’ leadership situation
  • The Cowboys’ fullback situation

If you want to read the full chat, click here. And as a note, next week’s chat will be pushed back to June 20 with the Cowboys holding the minicamp next week.

But there was one question I’d like to expand upon.

Rico (North Jersey): Hey Todd, thanks for answering my question. I do not think any of our d-line guys can get double digit sacks, but if all them get 7 or 8 sacks each, I think that would improve greatly from last year. I'll take that over a D.Ware. What do you think?

Todd Archer: Jeremy Mincey has one eight-sack season and it came in 2011. Henry Melton has never had eight sacks in a season. Anthony Spencer did it once. George Selvie had a career-high seven last year. I don't think all of them can get you seven or eight. Maybe 5-7 is the max. Is that enough? Not sure.

I just don’t see a defender right now with the ability to get a double-digit sack season. The best indicator for these kinds of things is past performance. Spencer has one in his career but there is a really good chance he does not play more than 10 regular-season games this year. Mincey came close with eight when he was in Jacksonville. Maybe Melton can do what Jason Hatcher did last year at the 3-technique. Hatcher never had more than 4.5 sacks in a season and had 11 in 2013. He really took to the scheme

Melton has a history with Rod Marinelli of performing well, so there is that past-performance indicator. I just don’t think he gets 10 sacks. Selvie had seven sacks last year. Can he do it again? Six of those seven sacks came in the first nine games. If he plays less this year, will that freshness allow him to get to the quarterback more?

DeMarcus Lawrence will have a chance, but remember DeMarcus Ware had eight as a rookie and three came in one game in Week 16. He will have to learn on the job.

The Cowboys had only 34 sacks last year. They had 34 in 2012 with Rob Ryan running the 3-4. It is their lowest two-year total since 2003-04 when they had 65. Bill Parcells moved to the 3-4 in 2005 after drafting Ware and the Cowboys’ sack totals increased. They really increased when Wade Phillips took over. In Phillips’ three full seasons the Cowboys had 46, 59 and 42 sacks.

For nine years, Ware was the lead dog. This year it looks like a sack-by-committee approach. But will the leader reach 10? Do they have five guys who could get 40 sacks between them? I just don’t think you can expect career years from so many players.

Cowboys Twitter mailbag, Part 2

May, 24, 2014
May 24
12:00
PM ET
Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys’ Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we discuss:


Away we go:

 

Chat recap: Cowboys still a destination?

May, 22, 2014
May 22
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IRVING, Texas – We got back into the flow of the chat on Wednesday, spending an hour answering all kinds of Dallas Cowboys questions.

In the chat we discussed:
  • How much Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith could be paid.
  • Jason Garrett as a general manager.
  • What Scott Linehan will bring to the offense.

If you want to read the full chat, click here.

This question stood out.

Mike D (Washington, D.C.): How much of a "Dream Job" is the Cowboys HC position? With JJ's presence, is it really a glamour job like Yankees manager, Lakers HC, etc? For that matter, is it even the best job in the NFL?

Todd Archer: Bill Parcells came out of retirement for it and work for Jerry. It's still a dream job. There's a lot that comes with the dinner, as Garrett likes to say, but that's because of the franchise history and Jerry. Is it the best job in the NFL? Good question. I don't think so. Pittsburgh might be better because you're guaranteed a certain level of security. Baltimore might be better because of the front office situation. But it's one of the five best jobs. The Cowboys will never lack for interest in the spot.

Please allow me to expand my thoughts:

The Cowboys will not have to worry about finding a replacement for Garrett if or when they need one. When Linehan was asked what drew him to the team as passing game coordinator his answer was simple: "It's the Dallas Cowboys."

He could have gone elsewhere, but it's the Dallas Cowboys. It will always be the Dallas Cowboys.

Bill Parcells likened it to playing the big room. This from a guy who coached in New York. The Cowboys would never have to worry about what Sean Payton did to the Oakland Raiders. He had an agreement in place to be the Raiders head coach, but backed out. Jerry Jones bumped his salary up to $1 million and after the 2005 season he was off to the New Orleans Saints.

Jerry will have the pick of the coaches he wants. If he wants a name, then a name like Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher would consider it. I’m not saying that’s the route he would go, but this is the big room. And the big room pays a lot of money.

A player/coach on the Cowboys?

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
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IRVING, Texas -- In terms of most valuable sports franchises in the world, the Dallas Cowboys and Manchester United are in the top five.

Manchester United was valued by Forbes at $3.17 billion, which was No. 2 behind Real Madrid. The Cowboys checked in at No. 5 at $2.1 billion.

The Red Devils' season could not have gone more poorly. David Moyes replaced the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson and the team will have its worst finish since 1992-93. Moyes was replaced in the interim by one of the club's best players in history, Ryan Giggs, who remains an active player.

Giggs will serve as a player/manager for the final four games and conceivably could get the post on a full-time basis in 2015 but this job is the premier job in soccer and the Glazer family can't just call on any of 500 coaches to win a championship. Wink, wink.

The last time the Cowboys had a player/coach was Dan Reeves from 1970-72, when he was still carrying the ball for Tom Landry and also coaching the running backs. Landry was a player/coach for the New York Giants, serving as a defensive back and defensive coordinator.

The notion of a player/coach in the NFL seems ludicrous, but just play along for a moment.

Who would be the Cowboys' player/coaches?

Quarterback Tony Romo: He has to know just about everything about the game playing his position. Ex-cornerback Mike Jenkins said Romo would give him detailed scouting reports on opposing quarterbacks before games. Some might argue he was a coach last year with his increased involvement in the game planning.

Tight end Jason Witten: There is not a more detailed oriented player on the roster. He doesn't just know how to do something, but he knows why to do something. His resume is impeccable (nine Pro Bowls). He is the hardest worker in the room. He can motivate and pull on some old Bill Parcells' ties.

Linebacker Sean Lee: Like Witten, he is detailed and works hard. He knows the linebacker positions, but he knows what the secondary and defensive line is supposed to do as well. Ex-defensive coordinator Rob Ryan called him the brain of the defense two years ago. The in-game adjustments would be made quickly.

Cornerback Orlando Scandrick: He is not afraid to state his opinion on all matters and he is a student of the game. He carries that chip on his shoulder from the day he arrived as a fifth-round pick in 2008 and will hold players accountable.

Left tackle Tyron Smith: He is quiet, but he would command the attention of players. He's young (just 23) but there is no questioning his talent. Knowing pass protections are a must for any head coach.

Status has its privileges

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
4:35
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IRVING, Texas – Back in the day American Express made famous the slogan, “Membership has its privileges.”

It was that iconic ad that popped into my head when I saw the picture of Tony Romo and Jason Witten in Jerry Jones’ suite at AT&T Stadium Monday night at the NCAA men’s basketball final with Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Running back DeMarco Murray was also in the suite, but not in the much-circulated photo.

I tweaked the ad some: status has its privileges.

New SEC Network hire and former Dallas Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears sparked debate on Twitter Monday and it continued on Tuesday. Spears wondered if teammates of Romo and Witten would be upset to see them hanging with the presidents and celebrities.

Spears has a point, but if Cam Lawrence or Ronald Leary were upset Romo, Witten and Murray were in the suite, oh well. Should I be upset Chris Berman gets to play in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am every year and I don't? Oh well.

Status has its privileges in any line of work. Those three have status, especially Witten and Romo, and we don’t know who else was invited to sit in the power suite to see Connecticut beat Kentucky but unable to attend for whatever reason.

Witten and Romo have been with the Cowboys since 2003. Witten has been to the Pro Bowl nine times. He was named the NFL’s Man of the Year in 2012. Romo owns most of the Cowboys’ passing records and has been to three Pro Bowls. Jones has showed his faith in the quarterback by signing him to two big-time contract extensions. Murray is coming off his first Pro Bowl season.

As teams go, not all players are created equally. Jimmy Johnson didn’t treat Troy Aikman the same as he treated a third-string safety. Bill Parcells treated “his guys” differently than the other guys.

Too many people believe professional sports are entirely different than an office you or I may work in. There is office politics everywhere.

You like some people. You’re OK with some people. You distance yourself from some people. You loathe some people. But you do your job for the common good, be it winning football games or producing widgets.

It can be safely assumed Witten, Romo and Murray were invited by Jones to the suite. He’s the boss. He’s the guy who signs the checks. You have a chance to talk with Presidents Bush and Clinton and some other celebrity folks, would you say no to your boss because the guy in the next cubicle didn’t get invited?

Of course you wouldn’t.

To me, the question is should Jones have put those three guys in position to be perceived as above their teammates in a public way? I doubt the question even crossed Jones’ mind and I’m not sure it even needed to cross it. He was simply making a kind gesture to three of his top players -- and maybe more -- and they took him up on the offer.

If there are players that are upset, then, well, they’ll just have to get over it. But they should also realize Witten, Romo, who is also rehabbing from back surgery, and Murray have been working out at Valley Ranch well before the official start of the offseason program on April 21.

That’s what should matter most to them.

Like just about everything with the Cowboys, perception overrules reality. The perception of the photo might tell one story, but it doesn’t mean it’s the whole story.
IRVING, Texas -- We had more than 190 questions in Wednesday's chat, so there is a lot to pick from in this week's chat leftovers.

But first a leftover question: What's better Thanksgiving leftovers or Easter leftovers? I'm going Thanksgiving. Nothing like a cold turkey sandwich with stuffing on wheat bread.

And away we go:

Rick (San Antonio): Todd, the Boys have been one game away from advancing to the tourney. And JJ is always on cue to mention that and seems to be happy with a team that barely gets into the playoffs. Will his mentality change to form a team that can dominate?

Todd Archer: I get your sentiment, Rick, but I think the days of a team having to dominate from Game 1-16 are largely over. I realize the Seattle Seahawks were good all year, as were the Denver Broncos, but Jerry has seen teams like the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants get hot at the end of the season and make playoff runs. It's not about being the dominant team in September. It's about being ready in December. Clearly the Cowboys haven't been ready in December (or early January) with their three losses in Week 17 the last three seasons, but as Bill Parcells use to say: get in the tournament and anything can happen. Did you have UConn in the Final Four?

Crawford
Roger Murtaugh (Dallas): Do we still like Tyrone Crawford? Is Crawford's return and the signing of Melton enough to deter the Boys from going D-Line in the first round?

Archer: The Cowboys still like Crawford … a lot. They believe he can play all four line spots, but that seems to be a stretch for me. He's not a nose tackle in base situations and I don't think he's a right defensive end either. He can play either tackle spot in pass-rushing spots. I think he's a left defensive end mostly but can move inside in obvious passing situations. While the Cowboys like him -- a lot -- I don't believe they should have huge expectations where he makes a colossal jump. He's not played a lot of football here lately and he didn't have a sack as a rookie. They should view anything they get from him as gravy. And as for the draft, I don't think Melton's arrival takes the Cowboys out of going defensive line in the first round at all.

Toby (Billings,MT) [via mobile]: Do you think we will see more production from escobar and or hanna this year?

Archer: They better get more out of Gavin Escobar. He has a chance to do some things in the passing game for sure. He can make some tough catches and I think he can really work the seams. Now, do I think he'll be an on-the-line tight end? Not really but that doesn't mean he won't get on the field. I think Scott Linehan will be more creative in getting more out of the 12 personnel package than what they Cowboys did last year. I like Hanna, but I'm not sure how the Cowboys feel about him. I think the Cowboys draft a blocking tight end in the middle to late rounds and if they go with only three tight ends, then Hanna could be the odd-man out.

Mario (South Carolina) [via mobile]: Is the Cowboys organization going to sign any more free agent vets to strengthen the offense and defense up a little more or is scoring high in the draft the big game plan this season.

Gregory
Gregory
Archer: I think they're done in free agency until after the draft unless something pop opens that is unexpected. Most of the guys available now have been available since free agency began and the Cowboys have yet to kick the tires really on anybody. I think they wait to see what they get out of the draft and fill in holes with cheap prospects in free agency. One name I'd like to see them go after is safety Steve Gregory. If we're going to play the 'better than' game, while factoring in cost, I think Gregory would be better than the other safeties not names Barry Church. Now that's just my opinion. As I've said, I think the Cowboys are ready to roll with J.J. Wilcox, Jeff Heath and Matt Johnson for now.

9to82 (Anywhere but here): Aren't all the additions in free agency made by Skins, Eagles, and Giants really just "march madness"? People hail DRC signing...reminder, he was terrible in Philly. Can't buy a championship folks.

Archer: I agree with the general statement, but those teams have gotten better to a degree. How much? Who knows? But the Redskins are better with DeSean Jackson. The Eagles are better with Malcolm Jenkins and Darren Sproles. The Giants are better with their flurry of signings. Are the Cowboys better with Henry Melton, Terrell McClain, Jeremy Mincey and Brandon Weeden? I'd rather have DeMarcus Ware but I'm OK with Melton over Hatcher, even with Melton coming off the knee injury. The Cowboys have stuck to their free agency plan. They could have spent, but chose not to. They're trying to build the right way. Not that the Eagles, Redskins and Giants made any foolish signings, but I do believe we've seen a lot of times win a title in March that don't make the playoffs in January.

Bruce (Gotham): What would the Cowboys do if Manziel fell to them in the draft?

Archer: If that happened, I wish I could be in the room to hear the conversations. It's actually a conversation they should have before the draft. You have to be prepared to take any player. I don't think the Cowboys were prepared to take Sharrif Floyd last year when he fell to No. 18 and they were killed for dropping down so far. I'd take Manziel, but I'm not the general manager. I can see the Cowboys taking him, but I can see them wishing the phone would ring so they could pick up some extra picks. But do you really believe he will be available at No. 16? I don't.

Chat leftovers: Missing on best chance

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
9:00
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IRVING, Texas -- It's time for some leftovers from Wednesday's hour-long chat with you guys.

We had more than 120 questions posted during that time and it's impossible to handle all of them, so we'll choose five extra questions for the weekly "leftovers" post. Quick question for the house: Best leftover, pizza or Chinese food?

In the best player available strategy, I'm leaning toward pizza.

Anyway, away we go:

David Huffman. Connecticut: How many failed attempts at assembling a roster capable of playing good football deep into the postseason will it take for Jerry to say, "OK, I don't have the ability to properly evaluate the players I'm drafting and signing to this team?"

Jones
Jones
Todd Archer: I wouldn't hold your breath on this one, David. You might turn purple. But I will point out that the Cowboys had what was considered some of the best personnel in the game for a stretch from say 2007-10 and if Jerry is responsible for the state of the personnel right now, then he was responsible for the personnel then. And, yes, I realize Bill Parcells had a huge influence on the roster in those years, but he didn't get everything he wanted. As I see it, the problem is the Cowboys missed their window. They had pretty good shots in 2006-09 and won one playoff game. The one that hurts the most is the 2007 season. It was set up for them to take the NFC and they failed. Wade Phillips gave them the out late in the '07 season by letting up. The team did not react the right way, and I'm not talking about a trip to Cabo or anything like that. After the Cowboys beat the Green Bay Packers that year they lost their momentum and couldn't get it back, losing to the Giants at home. If they win that game -- or the Seattle playoff game the previous year -- and I think a lot of these narratives that have come about are entirely different. Since the Cowboys missed that window, they have been chasing it ever since without success and the personnel has not been as good the last three or four years, despite the proclamations from those far away that the Cowboys have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. They haven't had that. They have had good 'name' players but spots 15-53 on the roster have been lacking.

Casey (Boise, ID): So what exactly are Callahan's duties with Linehan now in town? Will he have any influence with the play calling? Is he only in charge of the OL group? All the titles confuse me? Passing game coordinator but will call all the offensive plays???

Callahan
Todd Archer: Sorry I missed this one, Casey. This is a good question. Bill Callahan goes back to being the offensive line coach and run game coordinator, which is essentially what he was in 2012. He will give Scott Linehan options with running plays but make no mistake about it, Linehan will be calling the shots. The Cowboys will try to gloss over all of this of course and Callahan will publicly say all the right things, but how the Cowboys handled this maneuvering in the offseason is as baffling as how they handled the playcalling duties last offseason. They should have let Callahan go to Cleveland or Baltimore or wherever once the playcalling was taken away from him.

Nate (South Dakota): Any chance Jerry goes back to the past and brings in some more players from the '70s and '80s into the Ring of Honor? I would really like to see Charlie Waters, Harvey Martin, and maybe even Daryl Johnston in the Ring. Any chance?

Todd Archer: Nothing stirs the masses like the Ring of Honor. I like the two names you mentioned from the 1970s and I think Ed 'Too Tall' Jones has a case too. Charlie Waters and Harvey Martin were difference makers on the Super Bowl teams. Same with Too Tall. And he spanned the Jerry Era too. Daryl Johnston is a good name to consider as well, but the first guy from the '90s teams that I would add is Darren Woodson. He was a terrific player who was saddled with bad teams in the early 2000s and just as the Cowboys were about to turn it around his back gave out. Woodson would be right up there in my book. He should get Hall of Fame consideration too. Think about Woodson's impact this way: The Cowboys still haven't replaced him.

David (Southlake): Todd, given what Bears gave to Allen, shouldn't Cowboys have pursued him instead of Melton? Melton is coming off a major injury whereas Allen has a proven track record.

Allen
Todd Archer: You don't pay free agents based on track record. Jared Allen is 32. He has had a terrific career and might have a couple more great seasons left in him with the Chicago Bears, but that doesn't mean he would have been the right fit here. If the Cowboys weren't going to pay DeMarcus Ware, whom they knew best, or Julius Peppers, whom they knew quite well too, then they were not going to shell out money for Allen, who has no connections to the staff. It would have been the continuation of paying older players for what they have done, not what they will do. The Cowboys' plan this offseason has been simple: spend wisely on younger players, draft well in May and hope players in house make a ton of improvement. Will it work? I can't answer that question today, but that's the best way to go about it rather than hoping a thirtysomething has something left in the tank. Melton, who will probably make about $4 million this season, is just 27 and the Cowboys have a get-out-of-jail free card if he doesn't perform if they choose not to exercise the option. I'd be more willing to bet on a young player coming off an injury than an older player looking for a big pay day.

Shawn (NC Mountains): Given that Philly, Washington and Giants have made some impressive moves in free agency. Are the Cowboys the worst team in our division?

Todd Archer: If you want to give out trophies for offseason work that is less than a month old, then sure the Cowboys are the worst team in the division. But how many times have the Redskins won the Super Bowl in an offseason only to implode? What happened to the Eagles' dream team from a few years ago? I'm not picking the Cowboys to win the division or make the playoffs, but I'm not saying it's impossible either. There are a lot of moves left to make. The Cowboys have been the only team to compete for the NFC East title the last three seasons, so there is talent here. It just needs more supplementing before the games start in September. Maybe that's too optimistic of a view.

DeMarcus Ware thanks Cowboys

March, 12, 2014
Mar 12
5:15
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IRVING, Texas -- In meeting with the media after signing a three-year deal with the Denver Broncos, DeMarcus Ware opened his news conference with words of thanks to Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones and his first coach, Bill Parcells.

"To Mr. Jones for gracefully letting me go out in the market and let me choose where I can finish my career at, I want to thank him for that,” Ware said. “And I want to wish my former teammates, coaches and just the Cowboys good luck in their season.”

Ware was cut by the Cowboys on Tuesday and found a home in Denver less than 12 hours later to the tune of a three-year deal, with $20 million guaranteed.

The Cowboys were set to pay Ware $12.75 million. He will make $13 million from the Broncos this year.

In nine seasons, Ware became the Cowboys' all-time leader in sacks with 117. He was named to the Pro Bowl seven times. Last year, however, he missed the first three games of his career and was held to six sacks.

The Cowboys were determined to move on from Ware, who turns 32 in July. The Broncos were happy to embrace him.

"We know how much more football he has in him," Broncos executive John Elway said.

Ware will be more motivated than ever

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
5:46
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IRVING, Texas -- It should not surprise anybody if DeMarcus Ware has a Pro Bowl season in 2014 -- wherever he ends up.

[+] EnlargeDeMarcus Ware
AP Photo/James D. SmithDeMarcus Ware, impacted by injuries in 2013, still has a passion to play and let his "actions speak" for themselves -- it'll just have to be with another team.
He turns 32 in July, is coming off elbow surgery and a career-low six sacks in 2013, but he will have a motivation to prove the Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the naysayers wrong.

It will be hard for the Cowboys to stomach because there will be noise from here, there and everywhere if Ware has a 15-sack season and is as dominant as ever, but it would not necessarily mean they made the wrong move in letting their all-time leader in sacks go. If anything, the Cowboys decided to make a move a year too early rather than a year too late by releasing Ware.

"I want to be quiet," Ware said almost a month ago before undergoing elbow surgery. "I just want to let my actions speak for themself. But I do chuckle a little bit because I know there’s a tornado coming."

When he arrived from Troy in 2005, there were some doubts that he could not only make the jump from that level of football to the NFL but from defensive end to outside linebacker. Bill Parcells did not have many doubts, even if he wanted Marcus Spears with the No. 11 pick. Parcells quickly mentioned Lawrence Taylor after the Cowboys took Ware, so I wouldn’t say he didn’t want Ware.

He had seven straight seasons with at least 11 sacks. He had seasons of 20 and 19.5 sacks.

But injuries knocked him down in 2012 and ’13. The Cowboys did not view this from only a 2013 prism only. Even though Ware had 11.5 sacks in 2012, they felt the decline had started.

The move to the 4-3 might have quickened the fall, but there are images of Ware I can’t get out of my head.

It is of Ware in Oxnard, Calif., in training camp. Day after day he repeatedly beat Tyron Smith. He did it in one-on-one pass-rush drills. He did it in team drills. He was the best player in training camp almost every day. Better than Dez Bryant. Better than Sean Lee. Better than Jason Witten. Better than Smith.

He had four sacks in his first three games but then the injuries piled up. Ware's practice time became limited and his production sank.

There is good football left in Ware. He showed it last summer against one of the best left tackles in football.

The Cowboys will only see it if the next team he signs with his is on their schedule or if they pay attention to the highlights.

IRVING, Texas -- Wade Phillips has the second-best winning percentage of any coach in Dallas Cowboys' history. Better than Tom Landry's. I think Phillips might know that.

On Thursday, Phillips tweeted this:



And later followed up with this addendum:



Like most things with Phillips, he lacked context.

When Phillips took over in 2007 as head coach, he inherited a team from Bill Parcells that was ready to win. QB Tony Romo was going into his first year as a full-time starter. The defense had DE DeMarcus Ware at his best. WR Terrell Owens was putting up big numbers.

The Cowboys went 13-3 and had the best record in the NFC. Phillips was the perfect antidote to Parcells and the players responded. Well, they did to a point. The Cowboys were not the same after beating the Green Bay Packers to move to 11-1 and effectively clinch home-field advantage.

They got lucky to beat the Detroit Lions the following week. They lost two of their last three games, but they were in shutdown mode against the Washington Redskins with nothing to gain from a win.

Other than momentum they had lost.

The Cowboys lost to the New York Giants in the divisional round at Texas Stadium, and the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl.

That's basically when the Romo narrative started. Maybe you heard that Romo went to Cabo during the wild-card weekend. Did it affect the outcome of the Giants' game? Of course not, but the perception machine was rolling, and has been rolling ever since.

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You can track most of the Cowboys' woes to that lost opportunity. If they simply beat the Giants and make the NFC Championship Game, things would be different. Could they have beaten the Packers for a second time at Texas Stadium? It's the best what-if of the Romo era.

In 2008, the Cowboys acted as if they were predestined to not only make the playoffs but win the Super Bowl. Go back and watch the "Hard Knocks" episodes, and you see a team full of itself. They finished 9-7, missed the playoffs and were a mess late in the season.

Phillips could not pull it all together and looked inept as he attempted to deal with the fallout from the Adam "Pacman" Jones' incident. Phillips earned a reprieve in 2009 when Dallas posted an 11-5 record, won the NFC East title, and recorded a playoff win -- but that was the high point.

The Cowboys went 1-7 to start the 2010 season, including an embarrassing home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and a gutless loss to the Packers (45-7) the following week. After that game, Jerry Jones made the switch to Garrett, and the Cowboys are 29-27 since and have not made the playoffs.

Garrett did not inherit a team ready to win the way Phillips did in 2007. By the time Garrett took over, the Cowboys were growing old on the offensive line, and there were too many people (especially those in offices at Valley Ranch) who believed they had the best talent in the league.

The head coach of the Cowboys has tremendous sway with Jones. The Cowboys did not take Randy Moss in 1998 at least in part because then-coach Chan Gailey didn't want Moss.

On that premise, the 2008 draft -- with Dallas' two first-round picks -- was a mess because the Cowboys didn't even attempt to re-sign those first-rounders (Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins) when their contracts expired. The 2009 draft was a colossal failure in part because Jones was convinced that it could be a "special-teams draft," which is as ludicrous as the "draft for backups" the team had when Barry Switzer was the coach in 1995.

This is not in defense of Garrett. He has made plenty of mistakes on the field and in the draft.

Phillips has had a tremendous career in the NFL that has spanned decades. He is a terrific coordinator, but is he in the same conversation as guys like Dick LeBeau, or even Monte Kiffin? I'm not sure a Phillips defense scared offenses the way LeBeau's defenses in Pittsburgh and Kiffin's defenses in Tampa Bay did. Phillips was a good head coach but could not get his teams in Denver, Buffalo or Dallas past a certain point.

Phillips knows his resume inside and out. He can cite team stats and all the Hall of Famers he has coached.

He can claim his tweet was more about the number of games he and Garrett have coached, but it looked more like a passive-aggressive shot at the guy who replaced him, and a way for him to remind everybody of his record.

By the way, his winning percentage is .607. Landry had a .605 winning percentage.

Cowboys' Twitter mailbag, Part 1

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
12:00
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IRVING, Texas -- It's Friday, so it's time for Part 1 of the Dallas Cowboys Twitter mailbag.

In it we talk about the salary cap, possible wide receiver additions in free agency and yoga. Yes, yoga.

Look for Part 2 on Saturday.

Away we go:

 

Cowboys miss chances to add extra picks

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
2:25
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IRVING, Texas -- It’s clear the Dallas Cowboys do not have a philosophy when it comes to drafting a quarterback.

The sounds coming from the Senior Bowl two weeks ago were that whenever the Cowboys decide to move on from Tony Romo, they will draft a quarterback in the early rounds and play him right way, like the Seattle Seahawks did with Russell Wilson and the Cincinnati Bengals did with Andy Dalton, among others.

Since selecting Troy Aikman with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1989 draft, owner and general manager Jerry Jones has drafted three quarterbacks: Bill Musgrave, Quincy Carter and Stephen McGee. He also took Steve Walsh with first-round pick in the 1989 supplemental draft.

Carter was a second-round reach in 2001 but he did help the Cowboys to the playoffs in 2003 under Bill Parcells. McGee was a fourth-round hope in 2009 but he just did not develop.

Two years ago the Washington Redskins traded up to take Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick. They took Kirk Cousins in the fourth round.

Two years later, Cousins is open to a trade, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

How does this relate to the Cowboys?

By drafting Cousins and having him play just a little -- four starts, eight appearances -- the Redskins have an opportunity to acquire a pick or picks from a team interested in Cousins. What can they get for Cousins? It only takes one team to believe, but even if they are not high picks they are still picks.

A team can never go wrong in having extra picks, unless you want to look at the Cowboys’ draft of 2009 when they had 11 picks and the best pick was either Victor Butler (fourth) or John Phillips (sixth).

Under Ron Wolf, the Green Bay Packers were able turn Ty Detmer (1992), Mark Brunell (1993), Matt Hasselbeck (1998) and Aaron Brooks (1999) into six draft picks.

Jones has seen the benefit of drafting a quarterback and then later trading him with Walsh. In 1990, he sent Walsh to the New Orleans Saints for first-, third- and second-round picks.

Considering how much Jones likes to wheel and deal it's strange that he has not seen the benefit of drafting a quarterback in order to do some wheeling and dealing down the road if his starting quarterback spot is as secure as it has been since Romo took over in 2006.

Callahan situation evokes memories of 2006

January, 29, 2014
Jan 29
9:00
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IRVING, Texas -- In 2006, Sean Payton wanted to bring Tony Sparano with him to the New Orleans Saints as offensive coordinator.

Callahan
Bill Parcells did not want to lose Sparano, so the Cowboys denied the request. Sparano was upset. He thought he was being blocked from a promotion even if Payton would call the plays for the Saints and the offensive coordinator was more of a title than anything else.

The Cowboys did not have a coach to take over the offensive line for Sparano in 2006. Parcells came to the Cowboys without “his guys,” but quickly established Sparano as one of “Parcells guys,” moving him from tight ends coach to offensive line coach to running game coordinator.

Sparano ended up calling the plays for the Cowboys in 2006, helping a young quarterback named Tony Romo through the final 10 games of the season.

Sparano lost the play-calling duties a year later to Jason Garrett after Parcells retired. He was upset, but three-fifths of his offensive line started in the Pro Bowl that year. In 2008 Parcells named Sparano as head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

Eight years later, the Cowboys are preventing Bill Callahan from moving on when his authority on offense is about to be usurped. According to a source, the Cleveland Browns were denied permission to speak with Callahan about joining their staff. The Baltimore Ravens were reportedly blocked from talking to Callahan as well.

With the official announcement of Scott Linehan as the play-caller in 2014, Callahan finds himself being shuffled to the back of a confusing offensive setup. This is still Garrett’s offense. Tony Romo will still have major involvement in the game-planning. Linehan will make his amendments to the passing game. Callahan is back in an offensive line role with run-game duties.

Unlike 2006, the Cowboys have a ready-made replacement for Callahan in Frank Pollack. The linemen have a lot of trust in Pollack. Truth be told, Pollack worked more with the line in 2013 than Callahan, simply because the offensive coordinator duties pulled Callahan out of the linemen’s room.

It is well within the Cowboys' rights to keep Callahan, but in doing so they are potentially creating a miserable situation that can adversely affect the entire team.

Cowboys name Mike Pope TE coach

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
5:09
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IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have hired Mike Pope to be the tight ends coach, replacing Wes Phillips.

Pope spent the past 14 seasons as the New York Giants' tight ends coach. He worked with former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells with the Giants and New England Patriots, and has spent time with the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals.

Phillips left last week to become the Washington Redskins' tight ends coach after coaching tight ends for just one season.

Pope is considered one of the best tight ends coaches in the NFL, and has developed players like Pro Bowlers Mark Bavaro, Ben Coates, Stephen Alexander, Rodney Holman and Jeremy Shockey.

He inherits Jason Witten, who is playing in his ninth Pro Bowl, Gavin Escobar, a second-round pick in 2013, and James Hanna.

Head coach Jason Garrett was a player for the Giants in Pope's second run with the team. Pope has been an assistant coach for 31 years.

“Mike Pope has been one of the great coaches in this league for a long time,” Garrett said. “I had the good fortune of being around him for four years, and his influence on me has been significant. He is an outstanding person and a welcome addition to our staff.“

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