Dallas Cowboys: Pacman Jones
|Cowboys owners Jerry Jones says the team made the kind of mistakes that lose ballgames and that the team is running out of opportunities to win the division.
In 2008, owner and general manager Jerry Jones made a preposterously bad trade for wide receiver Roy Williams, giving Detroit three draft picks. We know how that turned out. But I am convinced at least some of that deal was made to help offset the news of a suspension of Pacman Jones the same day.
In order to be buyers, the Cowboys have to believe they have a chance to make a playoff run. At 3-4, they are in playoff contention as they close to the midway point of their season. Realistically, however, it seems to be unlikely that a team as wildly inconsistent as this one will figure it out over the final nine games and go on a 7-2 or 8-1 type of run.
Hey, it is the NFL and strange things happen, but hope cannot be a strategy.
So if the Cowboys want to be sellers who can bring some value.
Earlier today, Calvin mentioned they should field calls for running back Felix Jones. I’m unaware of the team having a shortage on footballs because that would seem to me be the only thing they could get in return for Jones. He has not produced this year and he is in the final year of his contract. Why would a team give anything for him?
The next obvious choice is Mike Jenkins. He is also in the last year of his contract and is playing in a backup role so far. Contending teams need cornerbacks and Jenkins might be able to bring some in return, but his contractual future makes a trade a little more difficult. A team would want to know they are not just renting Jenkins for a half season if they are to give up a viable draft pick (and by that I’m thinking fourth rounder).
The Cowboys were wise to not trade Jenkins in the offseason, even if they fielded some calls about him. They didn’t know about Morris Claiborne. They know they need corners. And they had yet to play a game, so they had hope that 2012 could be a playoff year.
Jenkins will not be back with the Cowboys in 2013, so why not shop him? It makes sense and is not a slight on the player. In my view, he is a starting quality player. The slight is on the team’s chances in 2012.
Get something for Jenkins now as opposed to waiting for a compensatory pick that may never come.
NFC rookies, including Cowboys first-round pick Morris Claiborne, arrived Sunday.
To see Jones, who plays for the Cincinnati Bengals, speak is a testament to how far he's come in his life.
"I'm at a point in my life where I'm not doing the same things that I used to," Jones told The Cincinnati Enquirer recently. "Now that I'm grown up, you are accountable for certain things. Everything you do reflects on you, and the consequences are yours."
To be honest, Jones was crazy.
He walked around as if he didn't have a care in the world and challenged anybody who held him accountable for things. During his brief time with the Cowboys, Jones was suspended for getting into a fight with his body guard, and his overall antics in the locker room wore down some of his teammates.
I remember speaking to Jones on the phone the night he got into a fight and he denied it ever happened. I also remember then-coach Wade Phillips telling reporters we were making stuff up regarding the fight. There was also Jerry Jones saying the fight between Jones and the bodyguard was just some horseplay, or "jiving" that caused minimal damage.
Of course, that was a long time ago, but Jones' actions from his past, including a terrible incident in 2007 at a Las Vegas strip club that left a bodyguard paralyzed, cost him $11 million in a lawsuit.
Jones' lawyers say he doesn't have $11 million and we believe them because of his excess spending habits over the years. But it seems Jones has matured some, enough at least to have him speak to NFL rookies.
What better person to talk about the issues NFL players, especially rookies, go through, than Jones?
"I want to tell them what I went through and hopefully not make the same mistakes that I made. Please don't do what I did," Jones said. "Keep a group of people with you. There are a lot of guys that come from the same background that I do who run into a whole bunch of money. They don't respect the money. If they don't, they will be in the same situation I was."
If the players take Garrett up on that message, then they will see some familiar faces playing or coaching on wild-card weekend. There are 10 former players among the six teams playing this weekend and five former coaches.
Cincinnati – Mike Zimmer, Pacman Jones, Dennis Roland
Pittsburgh – Shaun Suisham
Houston – Wade Phillips, Reggie Herring, Bobby King
New York Giants – Chris Canty. (Isaiah Stanback is on the practice squad.)
Detroit – Bobby Carpenter, Leonard Davis, Stephen Peterman
New Orleans – Pat McQuistan, Scott Shanle, Sean Payton
Only Denver and Atlanta do not have former Cowboys players and coaches.
Here we go:
** I wonder if the Cowboys will make the Jan. 1 finale at the New York Giants meaningful. If they do, then I can’t help but think back to the 2008 season ender at Philadelphia. You might remember that as the 44-6 debacle. It’s the best the Cowboys can hope for to get to that game with it all on the line at this point. You can’t bank on the Giants losing to Washington or the Jets in the next two weeks to somehow give the Cowboys the edge. That ’08 team was filled with chaos that started in training camp and continued through the Pacman Jones’ drama and Terrell Owens’ meltdown. Despite all that this team has been through there remains a good team spirit. It’s being tested here the last two weeks, but so far it’s holding up.
** There is a time and place for everything and I wonder if going for the dagger on third-and-5 from the Dallas 25 is the right time to make a throw down field like the one Tony Romo made to Miles Austin. This was not a simple pitch-and-catch that it has been portrayed to be. Romo was feeling some pressure and had to get rid of it quickly. Austin, in his first game in a month because of a hamstring injury, was able to beat Aaron Ross and was open but he could not find the ball in the lights and I wonder if he was supposed to bend that route inside a little bit. But even if he wasn’t, why take a risk on a down-the-field throw like that? It’s not a high-percentage throw. The last thing the Cowboys could afford there was a three-and-out and that’s exactly what they did. The Giants rushed seven on the play and Romo had Jason Witten and Laurent Robinson to throw to quickly for the chance of the first down. I usually like aggressiveness but sometimes a first down matters more than a big splash. I wonder if they should have been thinking about the clock instead of the scoreboard. And I’ll admit it, if Austin catches that pass, I’m not sure I even think about this.
** I wondered this during Sunday’s game: what’s with the Cowboys’ defensive substitution pattern? On the 10th play of the game, Terence Newman is replaced by Alan Ball and Hakeem Nicks catches a 64-yard pass. I can’t believe Newman was winded at that point of the game. And if he is, then you have to wonder about this team’s conditioning. DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer were out of the game together, forcing Alex Albright and Victor Butler in there at different times. Ware played through a stinger, so the injury card can be played. Spencer is not on the injury report. I’m all for playing some guys to give rest to the starters, but I don’t see Jason Witten go off the field in clutch situations. I don’t see any of the offensive linemen go off the field. Rob Ryan likes to use all of his players available to him and will create some special packages for them, but I’m not sure this is the time to make sure everybody gets a letter for being on the varsity.
** Tom Coughlin is what just about everybody considers an old-school coach. He has rules and he sticks by them. He benched his leading rusher, Ahmad Bradshaw, for the first half of Sunday’s game for reportedly missing curfew Saturday night. It is a gutsy move in a game that could determine the NFC East and/or a playoff spot. I wonder what Jason Garrett would have done? Or been allowed to do? The only thing we can compare it to is the rather minor flap involving Marion Barber not wearing a tie on the first road trip of the Garrett era to New York last season. Barber sat one play and Garrett did not acknowledge Barber broke a team rule. Jimmy Johnson told Garrett at some point he has to put the hammer down on players if he wants to be successful. Coughlin put the hammer down on Bradshaw for a half and he came out with a win anyway. As Garrett grows into this job, it will be interesting to see how he handles those types of situations.
** A few weeks ago I wondered if the Cowboys would try to re-sign wide receiver Laurent Robinson to an extension during the season. Turns out league rules prevent it because of the veteran minimum salary benefit contract Robinson signed. He is making $605,000 and it counts only $525,000 against the cap. That doesn’t mean the Cowboys won’t try to keep Robinson, who added his eighth touchdown grab of the season Sunday. It just means they can’t do it until after the season.
IRVING, Texas – The classic line by Pacman Jones comes to mind.
“It’s the Rams, dude.”
That was his explanation for the explosiveness of the Eagles’ offense in the first week of the 2008 season. Never mind that the Rams ended up beating the Cowboys later that season in a game Pacman watched from home due to suspension.
Pacman’s point applies here. St. Louis stinks. The winless Rams have come within a dozen points of their opponent only once this season.
The Cowboys’ streak of close games should finally come to an end. This ought to be a comfortable win.
What does that have to do with stopping Dez Bryant’s second-half futility? Simple: There won’t be many, if any, high-pressure situations after halftime.
The Cowboys should be able to feed Bryant a few balls in the second half. That’d be a wise thing to do if they have a comfortable lead. It might not be necessary for his confidence, but it probably is for Tony Romo’s confidence in him.
Bryant’s conditioning shouldn’t be a concern anymore after a few weeks of fully participating in practices. He’ll be facing inferior completion. There’s no excuse to not get him involved in the second half Sunday.
It’s time for this trend to end.
His catch on third-and-long put the Cowboys in field goal range. Williams ran a deep crossing route – “my favorite route,” he said – and smoothly snatched a high throw from Tony Romo for a 21-yard gain.
“It’s one of those that you’ve got to have,” Williams said. “If I’d have dropped that one, ohhhh, God.”
Yes, Williams heard the boos every time he didn’t catch a ball he got a fingertip on during camp in the Alamodome. The reality is he had a pretty good two weeks in San Antonio, making several contested catches and dropping only one ball during competitive drills.
Romo went back to Williams twice in goal-to-go situations. The first appeared to be a throwaway when Pacman Jones had Williams covered on a fade route like a glass figurine in a fancy men’s room. Williams got open inside Pacman on a slant the next time, but Romo’s throw was off due to pressure.
The Bengals signed wide receiver Terrell Owens to a one-year contract on Tuesday. Owens will join former Cowboys Tank Johnson, Adam Jones and Roy Williams.
And Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins welcomes the challenge of facing Owens again, a player he took on nearly daily in practice in 2008.
"It feels good, it's nothing new for me, I pretty much faced him every day during my rookie season," Jenkins said. "It's going to be a good challenge and its going to feel good be be out there."
Adams, released today by the Cowboys, played the seventh most snaps among left tackles last year at 1,081. Woy said it's too early to determine what is going to happen, "so we will se how it develops."
Adams along with free safety Ken Hamlin were released possibly starting-and-ending the Cowboys' purge of their roster. Last year, Dallas cut veterans Roy L. Williams, Terrell Owens, Greg Ellis, Tank Johnson and Adam 'Pacman' Jones. Also, Zach Thomas declined to return.
So, getting rid of veterans is nothing new for the Cowboys.
He got suspended for fighting his bodyguard, wasn't good on punt returns and was inconsistent in pass coverage. Somehow, Jones was tied with Terence Newman for the team lead with 13 pass breakups in 2008.
Jones missed football in 2009, probably a good thing. But now several teams have expressed interest in the cornerback, including the Detroit Lions.
Cowboys coach Wade Phillips thought if Jones got his act together away from the field, he had a chance.
"He played pretty good for us when he played," Phillips said. "His problems were more off the field than on the field. I think the important thing with him is he got his life straighten out. ... As long as he stays OK [off the field], he will be a good football player."
We talked to one of Jones' bodyguards -- not the one who punched him -- and he said the cornerback looked pretty good in a workout in New Orleans last week. There were even rumors that Jones ran a 4.4 40-yard dash.
Terrell Owens, Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson and Greg Ellis were all prominent figures in the Valley Ranch locker room last season -- all for the wrong reasons.
Jerry Jones downplays the affect of chemistry -- he says it's a result, not a cause, of a team winning -- but it's not a coincidence that all those guys are gone.
T.O.'s credentials and charismatic personality made him a leader. He led a revolt against Tony Romo and Jason Garrett and set a tone of selfishness.
Not sure how many players actually listened to Pacman and Tank, who rarely shut up as they hung in the D Block, as the veterans of the legal system labeled their corner of the locker room. But they definitely didn't listen to any coaches. It's hard to preach accountability when they are two prominent troublemakers doing whatever they want and getting away with it.
Ellis was a great team guy for most of his years in Dallas, but he had become a malcontent who placed more of a priority on playing time than the team winning and never shied away from airing his grievances publicly.
Cutting T.O. and Pacman, in particular, sent a strong message that things really would be different at Valley Ranch in 2009. Adding all-business guys like Keith Brooking, Igor Olshansky and Gerald Sensabaugh reinforced that message.
"We had big personnel changes, and once we did that they listened more, I think," Wade Phillips said. "That’s part of it. That’s part of the change."
Phillips, never known as a stern disciplinarian, doesn't have to worry about drama in the locker room these days. The culture change made football the only focus, giving the coach a chance to keep his job.
A year ago, the Cowboys' season fizzled as the pass-triangle drama played out in the public eye. Dissension that had been bubbling beneath the surface leaked out in reports that Terrell Owens had issues with Tony Romo's relationship with Jason Witten.
"The main thing is we’re leaving last year, all that behind," Ratliff said. "This is a whole new year. We know if we want to get anything done we’re going to have to be a team and depend on each other. That’s what we’ve been doing this year, and that’s why we’ve been successful."
The circus left Valley Ranch this offseason with the departures of T.O., Tank Johnson and Pacman Jones. Ratliff didn't want to link the changed atmosphere to anything specific, but he said he's glad that there's a different feel to the team this December.
"We’re definitely closer," said Ratliff, who publicly supported T.O. after the receiver was released. "We’re playing for one another and not just ourselves. That’s going to take us a long way."
It’s easy to downplay the incident and blame the media for blowing it out of proportion. It’s ridiculous to insist that the media is “misinformed” about the situation, since video clearly shows Newman shove Campo after heated words were exchanged, but Phillips tends to look foolish when some firmness is in order from the head coach.
Remember his reaction to Pacman Jones’ fight with the bodyguard at the hotel? Or how about the way Phillips handled T.O. tearing his team apart the latter half of last season?
Given an opportunity to clarify what happened on the sideline Sunday, Phillips essentially excused Newman’s behavior.
“I mean, people are invading the sidelines now,” Phillips said. “These things have been going on a long time in football. Players get upset, coaches get upset. Sometimes you get upset with each other. Sometimes you’re trying to talk to each other. There’s a lot of things that go on that we get worked out, and that’s what we did.”
OK, fine, but Newman clearly has a lack of respect for the coaching staff. No matter what Phillips says, it is not typical for players to get physical with their coaches.
Newman has declined to speak to the media since the end of Sunday’s game, but he’s publicly called out Phillips’ staff before. During a December appearance on ESPN’s First Take, Newman accused the Cowboys’ coaches of failing to own up for their mistakes.
“That's what I'd like to see happen,” Newman said of coaches taking accountability. “I think as a player, you notice things like that. How can you respect someone who doesn't respect you, because he's putting the blame on someone else, rather than owning up to it?"
Furthermore, how do you respect a head coach who doesn’t demand it?
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, a longtime assistant in Philadelphia, didn't pull any punches when he compared the Cowboys to the Eagles.
The authors of "Game Changers: The 50 Greatest Plays in Philadelphia Eagles Football History," a book reviewed by ESPN.com NFC East blogger Matt Mosley, asked Harbaugh why the Eagles have been so successful over the last decade while the Cowboys went without a playoff win.
"Why is that? Because what Andy Reid and his program stand for is the opposite of what the Cowboys stand for. The Cowboys are a star system. It's all about building around individuals first and collecting talent, collecting great players. Andy has always been about building a team. And over the long haul, it's a team sport, and one of the greatest examples of that is what's happened with the Eagles and the Cowboys over the last 10 years. The Cowboys stand for everything that's wrong with the NFL."
You can argue semantics with the last sentence, but the rest of the statement is right on. The good news for Cowboys fans is that Jerry Jones, whether he'd admit it or not, realized this after the 44-6 flop in Philly.
Jerry addressed the problem during the offseason. He got rid of Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson and T.O. -- all me-first, big-name big mouths. He brought in guys like Igor Olshansky, Gerald Sensabaugh and Keith Brooking -- all guys who just do their jobs without worrying about who gets the glory.
The emphasis at Valley Ranch is on substance over style, a significant change from the last few seasons. We'll see how long it lasts, but it's an approach that has worked in places like Philadelphia for some time.