Dallas Cowboys: Denver Broncos

Cowboys interested in LB Woodyard

March, 10, 2014
Mar 10
11:05
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On the eve of the start of free agency, the Cowboys have expressed some interest in Denver weakside linebacker Wesley Woodyard.

Woodyard
Woodyard compiled 84 tackles, three forced fumbles and four pass breakups in 2013. In the past two seasons, Woodyard has 10 pass breakups and four interceptions.

Last year, the Cowboys used the free-agency period to sign veteran linebacker Justin Durant to a two-year, $2.3 million deal with $400,000 guaranteed.

Durant battled injuries last season as the strongside linebacker, playing in 10 games before getting placed on injured reserve. The Cowboys could promote Kyle Wilber to the starting role at strongside linebacker and create competition on the weakside spot for Bruce Carter with a veteran signee.

If the Cowboys release Durant, it'll save the team $1.25 million on the salary cap.

The Cowboys are looking for upgrades along a defense that finished last in total yards (6,645), 30th against the pass (4,589) and 27th against the run (2,056) last season.

Live blog: Broncos at Cowboys

October, 6, 2013
10/06/13
2:00
PM ET
Join our ESPN.com NFL experts as they break down the Denver Broncos' visit to the Dallas Cowboys. Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 4 p.m. ET. And, be sure to visit our NFL Nation Blitz page for commentary from every game, as well as fan photos and the latest buzz from Twitter. See you there.

Double Coverage: Broncos at Cowboys

October, 4, 2013
10/04/13
12:00
PM ET
Wes Welker and Dez BryantIcon SMI, USA TODAY SportsWes Welker, left, and Dez Bryant have combined for 49 catches and 10 touchdowns this season.
Peyton Manning makes his first appearance at AT&T Stadium when the undefeated Denver Broncos come to town to take on the Dallas Cowboys.

Manning has done just about everything right this season, but he’s lost his past two games to the Cowboys and has been intercepted six times.

That seems a lifetime ago now, but Broncos team reporter Jeff Legwold and Cowboys team reporter Todd Archer bring you this week’s Double Coverage:

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Which team is most likely to make the playoffs?

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    47%
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    29%
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    7%
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    17%

Discuss (Total votes: 9,592)

Archer: This Peyton Manning guy seems pretty good. What does he do that is so different from just about every other quarterback in the NFL?

Legwold: Todd, all of the work he put in physically to return from his missed season in 2011 is now combined with his other-worldly preparation and game-day recall for the start he’s put together. When John Elway signed him, Elway said he wanted a player who “raised all the boats’’ in the organization, a guy to set the bar in terms of getting ready to play. And despite Manning’s résumé, he practices harder, prepares more and pours more of himself into each week than almost any other player. It sets the tone even with the coaches, who have to try to stay a step ahead of him as they all get ready. And behind center he is rarely fooled because of it. He is on a historic pace in an offense Elway has built from his own experiences at quarterback, and defenses have rarely put a hand on him, especially in the past two games. Monte Kiffin has certainly seen Manning plenty over the years: How do you think he’ll go about defending him and the Broncos?

Archer: Coming off the meltdown last week against San Diego’s Philip Rivers (401 yards, three touchdowns), I think Kiffin will petition the NFL to ask for a 12th defender. And I’m not sure that will work. Manning knows everything about this defense, so it’s not about tricking him. The Cowboys must get pressure on him and that starts with DeMarcus Ware, who strained a muscle in his back last week. Kiffin knows if he blitzes, then Manning will beat him. Kiffin is also dealing with a cornerback in Morris Claiborne who lacks confidence and technique, which is never a good combination. The last time Orlando Scandrick saw Wes Welker, he did a good job limiting him in New England, so maybe the Cowboys feel OK about that matchup. But there are so many weapons for Manning to choose from that it’s hard to slow the Broncos down. The key will be early pressure and red zone defense. Somehow Dallas has to force the Broncos to kick field goals.

Manning gets all of the attention -- and for good reason -- but what has not received as much attention in Denver's 4-0 start?

Legwold: Manning’s ridiculous numbers have overwhelmed almost every discussion about the team, but the ability for the offensive line to perform, consistently, at a fairly high level given the fact All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady is on injured reserve and Manny Ramirez had never started a regular-season game at center until the opener, has been key. The Broncos haven’t always been all that proficient in the run game -- 39 carries this season of two or fewer yards (32.5 percent of their runs) -- but they have protected Manning well and that’s certainly Job 1. The Eagles sacked Manning just once this past Sunday and may not have touched him on any other play in the game. The Broncos also have high-end team speed up and down the roster -- an Elway initiative since he took the job. And while the defense has benefited from the big leads, it has performed well overall considering Champ Bailey and Von Miller haven’t played this season.

Quarterback Tony Romo’s numbers look good on paper. What is the level of patience right now with Romo, both inside and outside of the organization?

Archer: To me there is no player more scrutinized than Romo. There is no gray area when people discuss him. He’s either terrible or great. From the fans, they expect Super Bowls because that’s what Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman delivered and they hear about the great talent on this roster. There is talent, but it’s not as abundant as the national talking heads believe. From inside the organization, Romo is the guy. They just guaranteed him $55 million this offseason and have given him more control of the offense than he has ever had. Jerry Jones came up with the famous “Peyton Manning time” quote about how much he wants the quarterback involved. He’s playing well, completing 72 percent of his throws and avoiding mistakes. His one interception was on a receiver running the wrong route. Fans might want him gone, but they tend to forget the long wait this franchise had in finding Romo after Aikman retired.

You mentioned Miller. He’s a local kid. What kind of fall has he taken and does he have the full support of the organization?

Legwold: Miller is four games into his six-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. And he had a bumpy ride through training camp with news of the suspension, to go with an arrest for failing to appear for a court appearance when he was going through a mandatory background check at a gun shop near the Broncos’ facility, to go with some traffic violations and the revelation he tried to beat the drug test with a side deal with the sample collector, who has since been fired. His reputation and image have taken a big hit, and privately some in the organization and even some of his teammates shake their heads at what they say is immaturity and the fact he hasn’t publicly taken much responsibility for it all. He, at one point, said the media has harmed his reputation, but he hasn’t shown much accountability in the public arena and that has bothered some. But that said, he is one of the Broncos' best players, a physically gifted athlete, and the organization has tried to get him help and on the right track. They will have an enormous decision to make in regard to a contract extension at some point given Miller is now in Stage 3 of the drug program and, at least according to the policy, will remain there for the remainder of his career.

In terms of the Cowboys' pass rush, are the injuries starting to catch up to DeMarcus Ware a bit, and how key is he still to what Kiffin wants to do on defense?

Archer: Maybe a little bit, but he is still an elite pass-rusher. Last year he played most of the second half of the season with a shoulder that needed reconstructive surgery, and a hyperextended elbow. This year he is battling stingers and now a muscle strain in his back. For far too long the Cowboys' pass rush has been Ware and nobody else. As well as George Selvie (three sacks) has played, he’s not Anthony Spencer, who is out for the year with a knee injury. Jason Hatcher has taken to this scheme, but the Cowboys have yet to see Jay Ratliff, who is on the physically unable to perform list, practice since last season. Ware is the key. The Cowboys are moving him around to try to take advantage of matchups and he has four sacks. He just needs some help and has for some time. Who it comes from, however, is another story.

Do we see Champ Bailey this week and how have the Broncos compensated?

Legwold: On Friday last week, it looked like Bailey would at least get some situational work in the defense against the Eagles, but the Broncos held out the 12-time Pro Bowl selection for the fourth consecutive game. Bailey has characterized it, including after Sunday’s win over the Eagles, as “close, very close,’’ and if he continues to go through practice this week -- it is his third week back in practice -- he would seem to be on track to play. The Broncos have gotten everything they hoped from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. When they signed him they essentially told him he had the talent to play like a No. 1 cornerback, but would have to lift his game and be ready to be coached hard. Rodgers-Cromartie was on board with that and has played like a No. 1 on the outside. The Broncos have matched him on receivers already this season and will give plenty of thought to matching him on Dez Bryant. Also, Chris Harris, who made this team as an undrafted rookie in 2011, has played like a starter almost since his first training-camp practice. Harris is tough, competitive and versatile -- he can play inside or outside -- and Denver has gotten enough from Tony Carter and rookie cornerback Kayvon Webster to make it work.

On offense for the Cowboys, how has Bill Callahan, whose son is a Broncos quality control assistant, fared as the playcaller so far?

Archer: He’s been OK. It’s hard to get a feel for his style. The Cowboys have run it better the past two weeks, but they were spotty the first two weeks. They have not taken many shots down the field. Romo has only three completions of 25 yards or more this year and he has averaged 33 a season. I don’t know if that is Callahan’s West Coast background or Romo not trusting his line yet to hold off the rush. The issue I had (and have) with Callahan as the playcaller has nothing to do with his résumé, but the fact that this is not his system. This is Jason Garrett’s passing game still. So, to me, they’re putting him in a situation that doesn’t work best for him. Again, he’s been OK and he seems to be working fine with Romo, but I think there is still a feeling-out process going on.

A little offbeat here, but I want to ask about Elway. As you know, the Jerry Jones/general manager story is something that doesn’t die. I wonder if Troy Aikman ever looks at Elway as a possible example if he ever wanted to jump into the personnel game. How good has Elway been? How involved in everything is he?

Legwold: Todd, it is unprecedented that a Hall of Fame quarterback has jumped into the day-to-day grind of personnel since most make a handsome living on TV, card shows or the celebrity golf circuit, but Elway has dived in and shown himself to be a nuts-and-bolts talent evaluator. He knows what he likes in players and in three drafts has consistently stuck to those evaluations, and the Broncos have worked their draft board with consistency. He believes a draft-built team is the key, but will spend Pat Bowlen’s money when he has a chance at somebody like Manning or Wes Welker. His challenge now will be to avoid what so many teams do with the alpha quarterback behind center -- sign too many older players to high-end deals they can’t play up to -- and keep the roster young and homegrown. But overall he works it, looks at the video and has created an environment where the scouts and personnel guys believe what they’re doing is important to what the team is trying to do.

On that, do you think Jerry Jones will ever really give the draft the importance it deserves in team building?

Archer: Why would he start now? Sorry, I kid. Here’s where I think Jerry goes wrong with the draft: He listens to too many people. Honestly, he does. He has too many people in his ear and it affects his decision-making. The coaches have too much say. His friends outside the building have too much say. He needs to trust his scouts, which he often talks about but rarely does. The Cowboys could have picked Sharrif Floyd in the first round. They had him as a top-10 player on their board, but when it came time to pick, they passed because Rod Marinelli didn’t believe Floyd had enough pass rush skill. If that’s the case, then Floyd shouldn’t have been that high on the Dallas board. The Cowboys traded down and took Travis Frederick, who many saw as a second- or third-round pick. Now, Frederick has the makings of a long-term starter, so I won’t quibble with the pick, but the process in which Dallas got there was highly flawed. To me, that’s the Cowboys’ biggest issue when it comes to the draft.

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Former Denver Broncos center Tom Nalen said Friday that in a 2006 game he tried to injure former San Diego Chargers defensive lineman Igor Olshansky, who is also a former Dallas Cowboy.

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"I wouldn’t consider myself a dirty player," Nalen said according to Pro Football Talk. "I know people will bring up the Igor Olshansky play in 2006, but if people would look at the play before that and realize why I did what I did -- and even on that play I missed the cut -- so you know definitely, I wanted to blow his knee out on that play because of what happened the play before. But that, you know, is that dirty? I don’t know. It’s revenge, kind of, so."

Olshansky said he remembers the play and has forgiven Nalen.

"He's a Hall of Famer and I've pretty much forgotten about it," said Olshansky, who still lives in Dallas. "It was a big deal at the time, but thank God it worked out for everybody. I wouldn't do something like that. For him to do it, it's something he's got to live with."

Nalen was holding a news conference after he was being named to the Broncos' Ring of Fame and brought up the Olshansky play. Nalen said he went after Olshansky because of the previous play where he claims the defensive lineman grabbed his face mask.

Based on Pro Football Talk's account of the play, the Broncos and Chargers were playing when the Broncos were trying to spike the ball. Nalen dove into Olshansky’s legs, prompting several punches to be thrown. Olshansky, who threw the punches was ejected from the game. Both players were fined for the incident. Olshansky said he was on a bullrush where a defensive player puts his hands up into a lineman's chest, but denied grabbing a face mask.

"I don't grab people's face mask," Olshansky said. "It's the offensive linemen that are the grabbers instead of the defensive linemen. What I want to grab is the quarterback or the running back. That was a play that I thought was common knowledge."

NFL delays schedule announcement

April, 15, 2013
4/15/13
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IRVING, Texas – The NFL has decided to delay the announcement of the 2013 schedule, which was set to be announced Tuesday.

“It will not be tomorrow but could be in the next week or two,” an NFL spokesman told Pro Football Talk. “We’re working to finalize it.”

In addition to their NFC East foes, the Cowboys will host Green Bay, Minnesota, Oakland, Denver and St. Louis and travel to New Orleans, Kansas City, San Diego, Chicago and Detroit.

If there is one lock it is that the Cowboys should play Denver on Thanksgiving, which means Peyton Manning’s first trip to Cowboys Stadium. With CBS broadcasting the game, the holiday game has to be against an AFC foe. In 2009, the Cowboys played the Raiders on Thanksgiving, so it would make little sense to replay that game four years later.

Remember Rob Ryan's harsh take on Tim Tebow?

March, 21, 2012
3/21/12
12:33
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Rex Ryan apparently didn't ask for his twin brother's advice before the New York Jets pulled the trigger on a trade for Tim Tebow.

Rob Ryan wasn't real impressed with Tebow this season, to put it politely. Of course, the Cowboys' defensive coordinator didn't put it so politely the day after he watched a Tebow-led comeback beat his brother's Jets, saying he was disgusted by watching such a gimmicky offense in the NFL.

“It made me, uh, throw up,” Ryan said, pausing mid-sentence to make a vomiting motion. “That stuff comes into play. You get that crap. I don’t like it because it’s college football. The things you see [is] a lot of spread. We’re getting a lot of two tight ends blocking for empty sets.

“Who would have ever thought that? This is the NFL. Those teams don’t win.”

Ryan was reminded that Tebow's team did win. The Broncos beat the Jets, 17-13, despite generating only 229 yards of total offense after Tebow and Co. marched 95 yards for the winning score, a 20-yard touchdown run by the passing-challenged quarterback.

“That team did win last night, but it was horse----, and thanks for pointing that out,” Ryan replied. “The guy made a hell of a play, though, didn’t he?

“Just a second, I’ll take a knee myself.”

Don't know if Rex Ryan will take a knee -- "Tebowing," as the prayerful pose became known -- but his Jets are taking a chance on Tebow, which could make for some interesting conversation at family functions this offseason.

Rob Ryan: Broncos' offense made me 'throw up'

November, 18, 2011
11/18/11
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IRVING, Texas – Give Rob Ryan credit for avoiding any inflammatory statements the teams on the Dallas Cowboys’ schedule. That could be considered progress.

But if the Denver and Dallas somehow advance to the Super Bowl, Ryan has provided plenty of material for the Broncos’ bulletin board.

Ryan watched the Broncos’ 17-13 win over the New York Jets on Thursday night. He didn’t enjoy the game, and not just because his twin brother Rex was the losing head coach. It pains Ryan to watch polarizing quarterback Tim Tebow run (and run and run some more) an unconventional offense.

“It made me, uh, throw up,” Ryan said, pausing mid-sentence to make a vomiting motion. “That stuff comes into play. You get that crap. I don’t like it because it’s college football. The things you see a lot of spread. We’re getting a lot of two tight ends blocking for empty sets.

“Who would have ever thought that? This is the NFL. Those teams don’t win.”

Well, actually, that team won Thursday night. The Broncos, who are 4-1 with passing-challenged Tebow as the starter this season, finished with only 229 total yards. However, 95 of those came on the game-winning drive, which Tebow capped with a 20-yard touchdown run.

“That team did win last night, but it was horse----, and thanks for pointing that out,” Ryan replied when reminded that the Broncos were victorious. “The guy made a hell of a play, though, didn’t he?

“Just a second, I’ll take a knee myself.”

Yes, that was Ryan joking about “Tebowing,” the devoutly religious quarterback’s prayerful pose that has replaced planking as the nation’s new fad.

But Ryan, whose comments about the “all-hype” Philadelphia Eagles and the Cowboys having two receivers better than Detroit’s Calvin Johnson received a lot of attention this season, was completely serious on the subject of the Broncos’ butt-ugly offense.

“They’re back there getting the hell beat out of them the whole game,” Ryan said when asked why he considered the Denver offense to be horse excrement. “It’s unfortunate the kid threw the interception for the TD or I really think that game is going to go a different way.

“But I don’t care about that game. I only care about us. I don’t like to see my brother hurt after a game, that sucked, but that’s the way it is.”
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Cowboys linebacker Victor Butler has had a solid training camp and had an impressive preseason opener. But it was the tackle he missed that bothered him.

He let Denver quarterback Tim Tebow slip out of a first-quarter sack attempt just long enough for defensive end Clifton Geathers to put him on the ground.

“I didn’t know [Tebow was that strong],” Butler said. “I’ll know the next time. I’m going to run through him. I thought it was going to be an easy sack. I guess not. He’s a guy that’s got a little bite to him. … I heard that everybody wants a Tebow sack. It’s like getting an Xbox for Christmas. Everybody wants one. I guess I’ll have to get mine next year.”

Butler continued to work on a substitution package that featured him, DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer during the first-team defense’s only series.

“It’s a good thing having an outside backer like Victor come in the game because you don’t lose a step,” Ware said.

Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 24, Broncos 23

August, 11, 2011
8/11/11
10:37
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The preseason opener is over, and the Cowboys rallied to beat the Broncos 24-23 at Cowboys Stadium.

What it means: The Cowboys might have a player in rookie wide receiver Dwayne Harris, who caught two touchdown passes -- both in the fourth quarter. Stephen McGee also showed he can play with poise late in a game with his 13-yard touchdown pass to Harris and ensuing two-point conversion to Martin Rucker to take the lead.

First-team offense: Just like in last year's preseason opener, the Cowboys' first-team offense didn't score a touchdown but instead was able to get a 42-yard field goal from David Buehler. The best part of what we saw with the first team was Felix Jones, who is now the full-time starter. He had a strong 18-yard run up the middle and later turned a screen pass into 16 yards. Jones showed a good burst and lateral movement. For the night, Jones had three carries for 23 yards and the one catch for 16. Tony Romo completed three of five passes and was hit just once, on a third-down play that fell incomplete. Tyron Smith and David Arkin, two rookies, got the start and didn't fare too badly. However, both played with the backup quarterbacks, Stephen McGee and Jon Kitna. It looked like Smith missed a block, leading to a sack of McGee.

More rookie action: Undrafted wide receiver Raymond Radway (Abilene Christian) caught the first touchdown pass of the preseason, a 10-yarder from McGee. Radway also had a 40-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter. Yet the McKinney North product had his moments -- he let a catchable ball late in the fourth quarter go through his hands as he jumped in the air. But the third-quarter touchdown drive was set up by three nice catches from rookies. Sixth-round pick Harris escaped two defenders, got wide open and caught a 26-yarder, and made a nice play on a 10-yard slant. After making the catch, he ducked under a defender to get some yards. But Harris' best play was catching a short pass from McGee and turning it into a 76-yard burst for a touchdown.

Tyron Smith's debut: First-round pick Tyron Smith made his debut at right tackle. The only known mistake came when he missed a blitz pickup leading to a sack as John Phillips released into a route. David Arkin, the fourth-round pick, played pretty well starting with the first team.

The kicking-game issues: The kickers weren't the problem. David Buehler made a 42-yarder, and Dan Bailey was solid on kickoffs. The problem was the deep snapper. After the Cowboys tied the score early in the fourth quarter, backup deep snapper Corey Adams sent a knuckleball to the holder, and Bailey couldn't attempt the PAT.

What's next: The Cowboys will have Friday off and resume training camp practices Saturday at Cowboys Stadium to prepare for the San Diego Chargers, who visit Aug. 21.

Live in-game chat: Broncos-Cowboys

August, 11, 2011
8/11/11
7:00
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The first preseason game of the season kicks off Thursday night as the Cowboys host the Broncos at Cowboys Stadium.

Feel free to fire away with questions. We'll start answering at 7 p.m.

Cowboys erasing '10 'nightmare' from memory

August, 11, 2011
8/11/11
10:19
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Linebacker Bradie James had a simple explanation about what went wrong in 2010 for the Dallas Cowboys.

"It was us," James said. "But the thing was, it was a nightmare us -- and you can't do anything but build from that."

After a 6-10 season, the Cowboys will try to turn the page -- beginning with tonight's preseason opener against the Denver Broncos at Cowboys Stadium.

Out of 13 preseason possessions for the first team in 2010, the Cowboys scored just one touchdown, turned the ball over three times, punted six times, gained 20 first downs and kicked two field goals. Wade Phillips tried to downplay the significance of the shortcomings, saying things would get better once the regular season began.

They didn't.

For more of Calvin Watkins' column on the Cowboys stressing the here and now, click here.

Expect healthy dose of Tim Tebow, Brady Quinn

August, 10, 2011
8/10/11
2:53
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Denver Broncos coach John Fox told ESPN's Ed Werder that second-year quarterback Tim Tebow will follow starter Kyle Orton in the team's preseason opener against the Cowboys on Thursday night at Cowboys Stadium.

Fox said Orton and the other starters are expected to play 12 to 15 plays, and that Tebow and Brady Quinn will lead the offense for most of the remaining three quarters -- although rookie Adam Webb might also play.

Fox said he has made no firm decisions at the position and considers the quarterback competition open.

Scout's Eye: Titans-Cowboys preview

October, 8, 2010
10/08/10
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Scout's Eye
One team is going to leave Cowboys Stadium on Sunday night with three losses and questions moving forward. The other will gain much-needed momentum and the opportunity to build on that.

The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a bye week. The Tennessee Titans suffered a difficult home loss to Denver in which their defense was able to get six sacks on Kyle Orton but couldn’t get him on the ground when they needed it the most to close out the game.

The one thing you know about the Titans and Jeff Fisher is that they will be well prepared. Since the league’s realignment in 2002, the Titans have been one of the NFL’s most successful teams in interconference play with a record of 24-9. Only the Patriots and Colts have a better record during that time period.

When you study the Titans, there are two areas that really stand out on their offense. The first is running back Chris Johnson and the second is the offensive tackles, Michael Roos and David Stewart.
[+] EnlargeChris Johnson
Icon SMIThe Cowboys' defense will have its hands full with the Titan's explosive running back, Chris Johnson.

Johnson is impressive to watch with the ball in his hands. When I worked for the Packers and we played Barry Sanders, you always had the feeling that on any carry, no matter where the offense was on the field, there was a chance for a huge play. Johnson has that same game-changing type of ability.

When the Titans run the ball, they like to do it with stretch plays, counters and tosses. Johnson has a real feel for how to find the gaps and holes along the defense, then explode through them.

His timed speed is 4.24 coming out of East Carolina and he is every bit of that. He plays with vision and that stop-and-start quickness.

Johnson can also hurt you as well in the passing game. He does a nice job of catching balls in the flat or inside and getting up the field.

On Wednesday morning, Fisher was asked about the make up of his star running back and his qualities. Fisher spoke of Johnson’s ability with the ball in his hands, but if he does have a weakness, I felt like it’s his ability to pass protect. Would not be surprised to see the Cowboys try to make him have to pick up some blitzes in this game early. He didn’t show the ability to hang in there and be square in pass protection. He’s a cut blocker.

When you play a back that has the talent of Johnson, tackling is huge. He will bounce off tackles if you don’t wrap him up. If the Cowboys do not tackle well when Johnson has the ball in his hands, it plays right into what the Titans want to do on offense.

The strength of the Titans offensive line is at their tackle spot. Through the first four weeks of the season, this is the best set of tackles that the Cowboys have had to face. Roos and Stewart are good.

Overall, this offensive line is more mobile than they are powerful. They are very good at getting out on the edge and blocking in space. The Titans use a zone blocking scheme but will also pull on counter plays. They are a productive second-level blocking team and do a nice job of staying on their feet and finishing blocks.
Michael Roos
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesMichael Roos (71) and David Stewart anchor a Titans offensive line that produced the league's top rusher a year ago.

The Cowboys should have an advantage with the matchup at nose when Jay Ratliff works against center Eugene Amano. Amano will struggle with Ratliff’s quickness and power.

Ratliff puts a ton of pressure on the offense because of his ability to attack the pocket. When you play the Titans, you do worry about Johnson in the running game but you also want to attack Vince Young up the middle in the pocket. Young does not do a good job when he has to face pressure in his face; it’s from the outside where he can avoid and use his legs to escape.

Would not be a bit surprised if the Titans allow Roos and Stewart to handle Ware and Spencer on the outside and try to help inside with guards Leroy Harris and Jake Scott on Ratliff.

*On defense for the Titans, there are not the names that we have seen in the past like Albert Haynesworth, Jevon Kearse, Kyle Vanden Bosch or Keith Bulluck. Instead guys like Jason Babin, Dave Ball and Stephen Tulloch are the players that are the new blood in this eight-ranked Titans defense.

The Titans have different players, but it’s still the same aggressive defensive that has always been a staple of Jeff Fisher teams. The Titans are an undersized along the defensive front, but they are very aggressive when it comes to rushing the passer. Wade Phillips calls it relentless and they do a nice job of playing the run on the way to rushing the passer.

The Titans like to bring four-man pressure and they like to work games up front. You will also see twist stunts, corner and slot blitzes.

The player to watch for the Titans up front is defensive tackle Jason Jones. Jones is one of those relentless players that Phillips was talking about. Jones is always coming forward, always attacking the offensive linemen. He plays sometimes inside eye of the guard as a one-technique or he will line up outside shoulder of the guard and rush from the three.

Jones has good movement inside, so watch for the Titans to try and match him up inside on Leonard Davis, who will struggle with quickness to his outside shoulder.

In the secondary, the Titans have two players that I really like. Cornerback Cortland Finnegan and safety Michael Griffin are outstanding players.
[+] EnlargeTony Romo
Larry French/Getty ImagesScreen plays will help Tony Romo and the Cowboys' offense counter the aggressive, revamped Tennessee defense.

Finnegan is one of those corners that doesn’t give you much room in the route. He is a hard guy to run away from. Finnegan plays with an ease of movement and can be aggressive in the running game.

Griffin is a ball-hawking safety. He had a very nice interception against the Broncos and he is a factor when coming forward in the running game.

The Titans like to play two deep and play man coverage underneath. They will try to get their linebackers in coverage and in help with the secondary. When the ball is thrown or run, they as a group really rally to the ball and the ball carrier.

Look for the Cowboys to try to take advantage of the aggressive nature of the Titans defense. The Broncos and Steelers used screen packages to try to slow down the Titans rush and keep them off balance.

Again, this is not a big front for the Titans, but the Cowboys need to handle their movement and stunting to have success moving the ball on Sunday.

Mike Shanahan failed to recruit Tony Romo

September, 9, 2010
9/09/10
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IRVING, Texas – Mike Shanahan figures that Tony Romo never should have been a Cowboy.

After all, the Broncos offered Romo twice as big a signing bonus as the Cowboys did after the quarterback went undrafted out of Eastern Illinois, Shanahan’s alma mater.

Romo took a look at the depth charts and decided that he had a better chance to compete for a roster spot with the Cowboys. That trumped the $10,000 difference in signing bonus offers, which seems like chump change now that Romo has a $67.5 million contract.

“It just still doesn’t seem right, does it?” Shanahan said. “Just think about it. How devastating would you be, being a head coach and you offer a guy [$20,000] and you are bragging to your coaches that, hey, I have an Eastern Illinois tie. The other guy is offering him [$10,000], but I’m sure I can get him being the head coach, not the position coach, and Sean [Payton] steals him from me.

“I still give him a hard time about that, by the way.”

The Cowboys didn't need to watch film of the Washington Redskins' upset of the Denver Broncos to know they'd be in for a fight against the NFC East's last-place team.


The Redskins have won five of the last eight games against the Cowboys.


"They've always given us the blues," linebacker Bradie James said. "They'll be ready and we have to get ready."


Cowboys-Redskins used to be perhaps the NFL's most bitter rivalry. It's probably the only one that featured a funeral wreath being thrown into the loser's locker room, as legend has it ex-Dallas DE Harvey Martin did at a crazy Cowboys comeback win at Texas Stadium in Dec. 1979.


There's more venom at Valley Ranch toward the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles these days, since those division rivals have ended the Cowboys' season the last couple of years. But the Cowboys realize that the Redskins still take the rivalry very seriously, so they better match that intensity.


"We know this is the Super Bowl for them," tight end Jason Witten said. "That's the type of mentality they have."

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