Dallas Cowboys: Randy Moss

Scott Linehan, back where it began

May, 20, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- When Scott Linehan walks out on to the practice fields at the Dallas Cowboys' Valley Ranch facility, he can still remember what it was like in 1987.

Part of what was then a state-of-the-art workout area remains today. The camera booths at either end of the field are still in place, too. There are more neighborhood houses in the background, but the feel remains.

[+] EnlargeScott Linehan
Tim Sharp/AP PhotoNew to the team himself, passing coordinator Scott Linehan assists the Cowboys' rookies during minicamp on Friday, May 16.
Linehan was an undrafted free agent out of Idaho in 1987. He was among the cast of thousands Tex Schramm and Gil Brandt brought in for a look. A shoulder injury, however, kept him from showing what he could do. The Cowboys flew him out to Thousand Oaks, California, for training camp and while he did put on a helmet he was cut before he could put on pads.

Twenty-seven years later, Linehan is now the Cowboys' passing game coordinator. He will not put on pads when the Cowboys go to California -- this time to Oxnard, not Thousand Oaks, but his importance to the success of the Cowboys in 2014 cannot be understated.

"Kind of nostalgic for me to be out here for this one," Linehan said after the first day of last week's rookie minicamp.

Unlike last year's playcaller, Bill Callahan, Linehan will have a free hand in running the offense. Callahan called plays for Jason Garrett's offense and the coach was involved in the playcalling process down the stretch last season, relaying the plays to the quarterback in the huddle.

Linehan will have no middle man. This is his offense. Most of the verbiage will remain the same, since he and Garrett ran similar systems, but there will be changes.

"It would be a disservice to not continue a lot of the great things that Jason and Bill and the guys have implemented here in the past few years," Linehan said. "Then as the timing fits for us ... we get through our OTAs to start to mesh some of the things that make sense."

Not surprisingly, Linehan did not agree with the assertion that the Cowboys have too many voices on offense with Garrett, Callahan and even quarterback Tony Romo, whose involvement in devising game plans will continue in 2014.

"That kind of expertise in one room?" Linehan said. "To have a staff with the qualifications I feel we have is truly a strength."

In 2005, Garrett's first coaching job came under Linehan with the Miami Dolphins. They remained tight over the years and their friendship played a big part in why Linehan came to the Cowboys.

Garrett said they share similar convictions in attacking defenses with the running game and passing game, getting the ball to their playmakers and playing to the players' strengths.

Linehan once directed one of the NFL's best running games with the Minnesota Vikings when Randy Moss was at the top of his game. Steven Jackson had a 1,500-yard season with the St. Louis Rams when Linehan was head coach.

But his most recent five-year run with the Detroit Lions has many convinced Linehan is a pass-happy coordinator, even moreso than Garrett. From 2011-13, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, threw for 14,655 yards and 90 touchdowns with 52 interceptions and Calvin Johnson caught 302 passes for 5,137 yards and 33 touchdowns.

Before 2013, the Lions did not have a running game rank better than 23rd. With the addition of Reggie Bush, Detroit had the 17th-ranked rushing offense.

"Between our first and second back we had almost 1,700 yards rushing," Linehan said. "That was as good as they have done in 10 years. You just lean to your personnel."

The Cowboys will still lean to the pass with Romo, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. But DeMarco Murray is coming off a 1,100-yard season and Zack Martin became the third offensive linemen to be picked in the first round by the Cowboys in the last four years two weeks ago.

"You start with running it effectively," Linehan said. "You achieve balance in the NFL by playing good football throughout three quarters, gaining that lead and then you've got a lead going into the fourth quarter. The teams that run the ball the best, that run the ball balanced, generally are getting a lot of their damage done in that late third, early fourth quarter. You get behind the score then you say you want to do (run the ball). You don't want to abandon it, but you're going to lean toward throwing the ball a little more. So that's to me, I think, the thing with the offensive line, that's a no-brainer. This is a great young front. Added a great piece to it. It was already an offensive line that was really meshing and playing well. We don't have to have this certain look to run the ball. We feel like we can line up and say hey, if they're going to drop guys into the box, we still feel like we've got the guys that can get it done. And then that helps everything. That opens everything on the outside of the field."

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.

What if Johnny Manziel slipped in draft?

January, 8, 2014
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IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has already said he will not use an early draft pick on a quarterback to possibly begin the process of finding Tony Romo's successor.

Could Johnny Manziel sway Jones' mind?

Manziel will be the story of this year's draft. He drives attention with his style of play, with his brashness, with how he has handled the fame since winning the Heisman Trophy at Texas A&M. Wherever he goes in May, Manziel will be a draw.

I've already mentioned Jones can't so easily dismiss the possibility of taking a quarterback. History suggests otherwise.

Since taking Troy Aikman with the No. 1 pick in 1989, Jones has selected just three -- Bill Musgrave (1991), Quincy Carter (2001) and Stephen McGee (2009) -- in the regular draft and used a first-round pick in the supplemental draft on Steve Walsh in 1989.

Before the change in the collective bargaining agreement, he did not want to make the huge financial investment in an unproven commodity early in the draft. Now that the rookie prices have come way down, Jones remains reluctant.

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If available, who should the Cowboys select with their first pick in the draft?

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But we all know Jerry Jones loves a draw.

He didn't need to draft Dez Bryant in 2010 with the first round. He committed megabucks to Roy Williams in 2009. He had Miles Austin coming off a Pro Bowl season and would soon pay him megabucks. But Bryant kept slipping and the Cowboys moved up slightly to take Bryant with the 24th pick in the first round. Somehow he could not envision passing on Randy Moss and Bryant.

This year the Cowboys will pick either No. 16 or 17 in the draft, depending on a coin flip with the Baltimore Ravens.

Manziel figures to be gone by then, but what if teams are scared off by Manziel and he slips in the same way Bryant slipped? Does Jones make the move? Does he bring in the star of the draft?

There will be tons of work done on Manziel between now and the draft. The Cowboys will do their due diligence and know the player inside and out.

The general manager will have all of the reports and know if it would be a smart football move or not.

Would the owner be able to stay out of the way?

It sure it would set up an interesting dynamic on draft day.

Sharrif Floyd can make Cowboys look foolish

April, 25, 2013
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IRVING, Texas – Got a sense of draft-day déjà vu?

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Did the Cowboys make the right move trading down in the first round?

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This feels a lot like 2004, when a prospect who filled a major need tumbled down the first round right into the Cowboys’ laps … and Jerry Jones decided to trade down instead of making what seemed to be a no-brainer pick.

That didn’t exactly work out for the Cowboys. Steven Jackson is still running strong after racking up 10,135 career rushing yards, more than doubling the career total of Julius Jones, the back the Cowboys selected with their second-round pick. They at least got good trade-chart value in that deal, although the production of Marcus Spears, the 2005 first-round pick they added, certainly didn’t justify passing on Jackson.

We’ll see whether defensive tackle Shariff Floyd makes the Cowboys look foolish. Widely considered a top-five talent, he fell all the way to the Vikings at No. 23 overall. Maybe Floyd, who only had 4.5 career sacks at Florida, was overrated in the pre-draft process. Time will tell.

The Vikings have benefited before from the Cowboys surprisingly passing on a potentially elite talent who would have filled a major need in Dallas. Remember Randy Moss?

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, the video of coach Jason Garrett in the Cowboys’ war room right after Jerry pulled the trigger on the trade would have caused censors to sweat. Garrett might offer the company line later, but he clearly didn’t appear to be pleased.

We couldn’t see new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, whose Tampa 2 scheme requires a disruptive three-technique tackle, such as Floyd.

Kiffin has benefitted greatly from a Jerry trade-down deal before. The Cowboys dealt the No. 28 overall pick to Tampa Bay in 1995, turning it a couple of second-round busts (G Shane Hannah and RB Sherman Williams) and run-of-the-mill fourth-round tight end Eric Bjornson. The Bucs took linebacker Derrick Brooks and watched him make 11 Pro Bowls.

Despite perception, character matters

April, 26, 2012
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IRVING, Texas -- There is a long-held perception among many outside Valley Ranch that character means little to the Cowboys when it comes to the evaluation process.

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones has selected some questionable characters (Quincy Carter comes to mind) but he also passed on Randy Moss in 1998. During Wednesday’s pre-draft press conference the term "makeup" was thrown around a lot by Jones, coach Jason Garrett and assistant director of player personnel Tom Ciskowski.

For Garrett, makeup means a lot. The Cowboys’ draft last year was filled with serious-minded players who were either captains or leaders of their teams, such as Tyron Smith, Bruce Carter, DeMarco Murray and Dwayne Harris.

"Guys that have the right kind of motor at early levels, the right kind of motor, the right kind of track records of competes, the right kind of track of work ethic, you can go down through those top picks you might find there is 20 percent of them that have outstanding makeup," Jones said.

"It’s not something that is easily attained for a player and that is factored in. We have that factored in with the grade; the fact that he practices like [Jay] Ratliff or he plays like Ratliff. To me that would be where we want to watch for and not get enamored with some of the other things that might make him impressive and stick to the fact that within a week he has to be out here and he has to hit the ground with the kind of work ethic he has never seen before and we want him to be in step with those guys. That is a plus. That is an ideal situation."

"Obviously if we could get the fastest strongest biggest with the greatest makeup of Jason Witten or frankly [Marc] Colombo, you could bottle that up or get that in a player with a lot of skill you have really done something.”

But there is a sliding scale involved if a talented player remains in later rounds, according to Garrett.

"When certain players have a great, great physical ability do you still want guys who have great make up?," Garrett said. "My experience and I think all of our experience has been the makeup part of a player is a big key to their success.

"Having said that, you’re more willing to look at a player who has more ability. You see it around the league every year on every football team with rookie players and with veteran players. So you’re always evaluating the player. You have to figure out what makeup quality they have that is fatal. In no way are we going to take this guy for this reason, I don’t care how great a player he is. Then you have to say, 'OK, what are his makeup issues? What are his character issues? Are they fatal? Is there something we can help them with?' And then you kind of work your way through that."

Garrett continued: "How good a player is he? Is he worth it? Where are we taking him? You like to say there is a hard and fast rule, you like to make it black and white, but that’s not the reality of it. You have to talk it through. You have to have a philosophy that you stick with consistently and then you have to weigh the risks of when we take that particular player."

Jason Garrett involved in money decisions

February, 26, 2012
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INDIANAPOLIS -- What few people want to believe about how Jerry Jones operates the Cowboys is how much say the head coach has.

Most of the time if a head coach does or does not want a player, Jones will listen. And I realize now everybody is thinking Terrell Owens and Bill Parcells, but too many people at Valley Ranch have said that if Parcells was completely against adding Owens in 2006 that Jones would not have signed him.

Remember, Jones didn’t draft Randy Moss for a lot of reasons but one of them was Chan Gailey didn’t want him.

When the Cowboys have succeeded they have had a strong head coach in Jimmy Johnson and Parcells.

I thought Jason Garrett had a revealing answer when he was asked at the NFL scouting combine how involved he is in the money decisions.

“I’m very involved in it,” Garrett said. “As you know the economics of the NFL is an important part of the decision making process and every player as a price tag and a price tag might be where you draft him, how are you using that resource, in our case, the 14th pick of the first round or a second round pick or a third round pick. The other price tag is just dollars. What are they going to cost you this year? What are they going to cost you in the future? How much is that player going to cost you over the lifetime of the contract? If it’s a large sum, how does that impact the rest of your football team? Every team in the league makes decisions first and foremost by evaluating the player and how he fits in on your football team. But another part of that is economics. I’m involved in the decision making process, as is Tom Ciskowski, as is the Joneses. And the evaluation comes first but the money part of the decision making process, I’m involved in a lot of those discussions.”

Does Terrell Owens still have it? 'I never lost it'

February, 17, 2012
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Allen Wranglers co-owner/wide receiver Terrell Owens joined the Ben & Skin Show – with special co-host Deion Sanders -- on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM on Friday, and had some interesting things to say as he hopes to use the Indoor Football League as a lauching pad for an NFL return.

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Do you expect to use the IFL as a catapult back into the NFL? Do you still have it?

“I've never lost it. Not a matter of me still having it. … I never lost it. If you look at my production every time I stepped on the field, that’ll tell you I've never lost it.

“Every time I stepped on the field with a team that already had a No. 1 receiver when I came in, and they were like, “Oh, I’m not gonna promise him a No. 1 spot.” I don’t want you to promise me a No. 1 spot. I will show you. I will earn that spot, and I will put up numbers better than your No. 1.”

What did you think when Randy Moss said he wanted to come out of retirement?

“It was news to me when he said he wanted to come back. There’s a lot of debate with a lot of analysts out there. Who would you rather have: T.O. or Randy Moss? It is what it is. We’re two great athletes. Depends on what you want. I’m not down on Randy. I think you’ll get results with him, but at the same time, you’re going to get results from me. Just depends on what you want, what you like.”

Have you looked around at rosters and said, 'I could fit there.'

“Not at the moment. I could fit anywhere. It’s all about an opportunity. I just want to be given a fair chance. …

“If you look at some of the teams that got into the playoffs, going younger has not helped them. You look at the San Francisco 49ers, with that group. They did great. They got to the NFC Championship, but that’s not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl. I’ve said it a couple of times: You look at that receiving corps that they had. Their starting receivers had -- out of them -- one catch for 3 yards. So you don’t think I could’ve helped that situation?

If you look at the Baltimore Ravens. They brought in, you know, younger guys the last couple of years. The ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl. … It’s all about opportunity. It’s all about key plays.”

Cowboys will pass on Randy Moss again

February, 14, 2012
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Back in 1998, Dallas Cowboys general manager Jerry Jones bypassed on drafting wide receiver Randy Moss in the first round due to off-the-field issues.

The Cowboys drafted defensive end Greg Ellis.

Fast forward to 2012 and with Moss making his Sugar Ray Leonard return to the NFL, the Cowboys have another chance to get the veteran wideout.

A source said the Cowboys will pass on the wide receiver.

This shouldn't come as a surprise because the Cowboys have some talented and young wide receivers in Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. The team also wants to re-sign Laurent Robinson, who led the team with 11 touchdown receptions in 2011.

Dwayne Harris and Andre Holmes are young players who should compete for playing time in 2012, and if Raymond Radway fully recovers from his leg injury, suffered in the final preseason game, he will see snaps as well.

It's hard to believe any team wants to sign Moss. He missed the entire 2011 season and unlike Terrell Owens, who is coming off ACL surgery, Moss is healthy.

Moss took the Cowboys' decision to draft Ellis personally. In seven career games against the Cowboys, Moss has 10 touchdowns and an 18.9 yards-per-catch average.

Would anyone want Randy Moss?

February, 13, 2012
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Yeah, I saw the story that Randy Moss wants to come out of retirement and play in the NFL again in 2012. And yeah, it's the offseason, so my first reaction was to do a post about whether he'd make sense for any of the teams in the NFC East. I'm not proud. It's content. It's a big name. It hits all four teams. And hey, you're reading it.

Moss
Moss
However, before we go any further, I must make one thing clear: I do not believe Randy Moss will ever play in the NFL again. The guy washed out with three different teams in 2010, couldn't find a job in 2011 and now, at the age of 35 and in a free-agent market flooded with good wide receivers in their primes, he thinks a team is going to take a chance on him? Agree to disagree, Randy. Agree to disagree.

That said, I have (as many of you are fond of pointing out) been wrong before. And so, if by some chance Moss can prove he still has enough speed to be a legitimate deep threat -- to get separation from defensive backs and perform as a difference-making downfield option for an offense, as he could not do in 2010 for three different teams -- would he make any sense in our division? My team-by-team ultra-fantastical hypothetical answers follow.

Dallas Cowboys: No. Not even a little. The Cowboys need a No. 3, first of all, and that's only if they let Laurent Robinson walk. If Dez Bryant and Miles Austin are healthy, Moss is an upgrade over neither one. And do you really want him around Bryant? No.

New York Giants: No. Not even a little. Go back and read the Cowboys answer and replace "Laurent Robinson" with "Mario Manningham" and replace "Dez Bryant and Miles Austin" with "Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz." No. Not a Giants kind of thing to do, this.

Philadelphia Eagles: Interesting, but only if they decide to move on from DeSean Jackson, as I believe they might. If Moss shows the deep-threat ability that made him such a weapon with Minnesota and New England at various points in his career, and if Jackson is out of the picture, the must-win-now-or-everyone's-getting-fired Eagles wouldn't be a ridiculous landing spot. Again, lot of "if"s, but don't be surprised to see this connection made again if Jackson isn't back.

Washington Redskins: The 2007-09 version of Moss is exactly what the Redskins need. But (a) this is the 2012 version, and (b) Moss doesn't respond well to being in losing environments. Even if he could flash that 07-09 form, the Redskins would have to be a lot more set at quarterback and offensive line than they are right now. And the quarterback would have to be a veteran like Peyton Manning or Kyle Orton and not a rookie or first-time starter like Robert Griffin III or Matt Flynn.

Fixing the Cowboys: Find CB first, then draft defense

January, 18, 2012
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This is the third installment of Fixing the Cowboys:

When the final whistle blew on that chilly night at MetLife Stadium, the season ended for the Dallas Cowboys. The hope of a division title died with a roster that wasn’t good enough to compete with the Giants for the second time in four weeks. If Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett are honest with themselves, they will look at this roster and say that it’s just not good enough to compete with the Giants and the Eagles. We can talk about the Super Bowl all we want, but if you are not playing well in your division, there are going to be problems.

Fixing Cowboys
When I worked for the Cowboys, the biggest issues I had during our final meeting of the season was that we were not honest with the makeup of our squad. When you go 5-11 for three straight seasons and the coaches talk about the players like we were 11-5, there are going to be problems. Garrett and these coaches can't keep Jerry from believing his roster is better than it really is. I'm not going to say that there isn't talent on this team, but I will say there were players on this roster that Jones and Garrett were counting on that just weren't good enough.

Here is what I would try and do to help it:

1. As much as I want to overhaul this secondary, I am going to try and fix the left cornerback spot first. Terence Newman needs to be replaced immediately. His level of play has clearly slipped and he no longer plays with any confidence. When a corner lacks confidence you might as well be playing with a speed bump out there. There are two ways that Jones can attack this area. The first is to trust his pro scouting staff, which brought him Laurent Robinson and Tony Fiammetta. The big name corners on the market this spring will be Cortland Finnegan of the Titans and Brent Grimes of the Falcons. Both of these players are similar in age and will command top dollar. If I had to lean one way, I would probably go toward Finnegan because of his aggressive style and the nastiness in his play, which this team lacks. If there might be a hitch, it'd be that Jones and Garrett would like to have a corner with more size -- Finnegan and Grimes are both in the 5-9, 185-pound range.

Dre Kirkpatrick
Matthew O'Haren/Icon SMIThere's no doubt that Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick could instantly help the Cowboys' secondary, but can the team look past his recent arrest for marijuana possession?
The second way this area could be addressed is through the draft, which can either be feast or famine. Sitting in the 14th spot, Jones is still in decent shape because you usually have between 15 to 18 players that have first-round grades on your board. The second-best corner on the board will be Dre Kirkpatrick from Alabama. There is no questioning Kirkpatrick's ability or size (6-2, 192 pounds), but now character issues have been raised -- he was charged with possession of marijuana Tuesday and was released after paying a $120 fine.

When I worked for Bill Parcells, he put players with character flaws into "The Box" -- an area where you put players that you did not want to draft, period. I guarantee there will be teams that will take Kirkpatrick off their boards and into "The Box." The question for the Cowboys: Will Kirkpatrick be able to explain what happened, and will other examples of questionable behavior be uncovered? I would still consider Kirkpatrick an option for the Cowboys, but he really has to convince me that it'd be in my best interest to select him. I promise the Cowboys will turn over every rock to get to the bottom of this. He's that good of a player.

2. As much as I want to fix the interior of this offensive line with the addition of a free-agent guard like the Saints' Carl Nicks, I have to think about the amount of funds I wound have to allow for this to work. Don't get me wrong, it'd be money well spent, but there's also an opportunity to select the best guard in the draft -- Stanford's David DeCastro.

Jones and Garrett have to ask themselves if finding a replacement for OLB Anthony Spencer is more important than filling a position where you seem to have better options. Does Kyle Kosier, Montrae Holland, Derrick Dockery, Kevin Kowalski, Bill Nagy and David Arkin make you feel comfortable enough with the guard spot as is, whereas you just have Victor Butler and Alex Albright at outside linebacker? There is no doubt the Cowboys lacked a pass rusher that could help DeMarcus Ware on the other side. The Cowboys like Butler -- and he very well could be the starter going into 2012 -- but why not use the 14th pick to upgrade that spot with Alabama's Courtney Upshaw or South Carolina's Melvin Ingram? The Cowboys must do a better job of pressuring the quarterback because Ware can't do it alone. I have been critical of Ware, but a player on the other side could take pressure off him and help this defense tremendously.

[+] EnlargeBilly Winn
Bob Kupbens/Icon SMIBoise State's Billy Winn could be an interesting draft choice for the Cowboys as his physical presence could help them at the defensive end spot.
3. Sticking with the defense, I'm also taking a hard look at three spots -- defensive end, inside linebacker and safety. At defensive end, I'd move on from Kenyon Coleman, who wasn't nearly as good at the end of the season as he was at the beginning. I like Jason Hatcher, and I also think there is a role for Marcus Spears. Sean Lissemore proved to be a nice swing guy, but he looked better at nose tackle, so I'm tempted to keep him there. The scouts have hope for Clifton Geathers, but I don't share that. I would look to draft a productive player like Boise State's Billy Winn, who played tackle but should be suited more for play on the outside.

4. I'm also looking for help at inside linebacker, because there's really no depth. It's time to move on from Bradie James and Keith Brooking. Bruce Carter will be ready to play in 2012 and will be productive playing next to Sean Lee. However, behind those two, there's nothing. I'd try to add player in the fourth round that could be a quality backup but also help in the nickel, like Kevin Burnett did several years ago. Texas' Emmanuel Acho could be an interesting choice. Acho has a nose for the ball and is super active.

5. At safety, I'm moving on from Abram Elam because I need someone with more range. I have too many safeties on this roster that are forward players, such as Barry Church and Danny McCray. This defense needs someone that gets their hands on the ball and can help off the hash or middle of the field. I don't need safeties that can't adjust to Victor Cruz going down the field or Riley Cooper catching a jump ball from Michael Vick. If the Cowboys have a safety with range, it would be a step in the right direction in helping this secondary.

For all the problems that Garrett has had with game management, I feel he's got a good eye for talent and understands how you go about gathering players. Despite what people want to believe, the head coach does have a great deal of say in what players are signed and drafted. Bill Parcells took advantage of this; Dave Campo didn't. Chan Gailey convinced Jones that he wanted nothing to do with Randy Moss. Jason Garrett went to USC last season to see Tyron Smith work out and talk with members of the staff to get a feel for him.

You might not want to trust Jerry Jones, but you should trust Jason Garrett. I think he gets it.

Rabid Reaction: Cowboys need to get Randy Moss

September, 30, 2011
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Rabid Reaction: Our series of knee-jerk-styled, emotional overreactions from Ben Rogers of 103.3 FM ESPN's Ben and Skin Show. He's known to get way too excited over even the slightest of developments with the teams he grew up with in the DFW. Proceed with caution ...

Yes, the Cowboys need to sign Randy Moss. Forget about the massive, dangerously explosive drama canister he’ll wheel in when he arrives. Forget about the fact that he’s old enough to be Tyron Smith's grandfather. The bottom line is that the Jerry Jones needs Randy more than Randy needs Jerry.

Outside of Miles Austin, Cowboys receivers have little to no experience.

Watching the Austin-less Cowboys pass-catching youngsters break from the huddle like lost toddlers in a mall parking lot was difficult to stomach. They inexplicably broke off routes. They stopped at exactly the wrong time right smack dab in the middle of others. They failed to recognize coverages correctly. They failed to read hot routes correctly.

The saving grace for the receivers against the Skins was Tony Romo's sandlot style scramble-and-point mini-Hail Mary throw to Dez Bryant on third-and-21. If you're comfortable with that type of "you’re the twig, I'm the rock, follow my finger for your route" play-calling as the backbone of the offense moving forward, then don’t go get an experienced wide receiver off his couch.

I felt like I was watching a bunch of Drivers Ed students trying to win Daytona. Romo can’t be a quarterback and a mom simultaneously. You may not like Moss and what he stands for, but you should respect the fact that he’s the best of the rest available. And I expect Austin's hammy to cause problems all year.

Jerry, go get Randy. You screwed that up one other time. Don’t do it again.

Finding vet WR help not as easy you think

September, 29, 2011
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IRVING, Texas -- After what happened Monday night against Washington with so much miscommunication between Tony Romo and his young wide receivers there has been a hue and cry for the Cowboys to go get a veteran wide receiver.

Some have asked for Randy Moss. Others have asked for T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Some even Terrell Owens, which is incredibly ridiculous if you think back to how he left here following the 2008 season.

Jason Garrett was asked about the possibility on Wednesday.

“At this point, no,” Garrett said. “We’re always on the lookout to find guys that can help our football team. That’s been an area where we have been banged up. We’ll continue to do that [look] and if there’s somebody who comes across our path that we like and we think might fit and help us, we’ll certainly look at it.”

Now, you could say the “at this point, no,” part of the quote leaves the door open. Maybe it does, but I think that would only happen if Miles Austin or Dez Bryant is lost for the year due to injury.

Finding a real contributor at this time is difficult.

I submit to you Quincy Morgan, Peerless Price and Roy Williams.

In 2004 the Cowboys acquired Morgan from Cleveland. In nine games he caught 22 passes for 260 yards and no touchdowns.

In 2005 the Cowboys signed Price, who was on the street at the time. In seven games he caught six passes for 96 yards from Drew Bledsoe, with whom he excelled in Buffalo.

In 2008 the Cowboys traded for Williams from Detroit. In 10 games he caught 19 passes for 198 yards and one touchdown.

Bringing in a veteran is not the greatest solution.

In 2007, Chris Chambers was traded from Miami to San Diego and caught 35 passes for 555 yards and four touchdowns. That’s pretty good production there. Chambers is available, too.

In 2009 Braylon Edwards caught 35 passes for 541 yards and four scores in 12 games after his trade from Cleveland to the New York Jets. That’s OK production, too, but Edwards never delivered as much as the Jets had hoped.

And let’s look at Moss. Last year he was dealt to Minnesota by New England. In four games he caught 13 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns before then-coach Brad Childress got tired of him and cut him. Moss then went to Tennessee and he caught six passes for 80 yards and no scores in four games.

Sources: Cowboys don't want Randy Moss

September, 26, 2011
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Randy Moss might want to return to the NFL, but don't expect it to be with the Cowboys.

Multiple sources have said the Cowboys have no interest in the "retired" receiver, even with their injury issues at the position. Read more about it here.

Randy Moss not a fit in NFC East

July, 15, 2011
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Randy Moss had a difficult 2010. He played for three teams last season, and it seems as if he's played for everybody in the NFL.

The last team he participated for was the Tennessee Titans.

He will be on the open market whenever the lockout ends, which could be in the next two weeks. If that's the case, there are some NFC East teams who might need him.

Dan Graziano, our NFC East blogger, says in his weekly NFC East video mailbag that Moss doesn't have a fit on at least one NFC East team, the Philadelphia Eagles.

I agree that the Eagles don't need Moss and it's worth noting that the Cowboys wouldn't want him either, unless he's willing to become a No. 3 receiver and a mentor to Miles Austin and Dez Bryant.

To make this happen, the Cowboys would have to release Roy Williams, who is the current old-timer of the receiving corps. The Cowboys would take a $12.9 million cap hit if they lose Williams, and it appears doubtful they would be willing to do that.

Moss agent, Joel Segal, told me Moss is in magnificent shape and is doing two-a-days to get ready for the season. It would seem with Moss' experience (he's 34), he might be good for some team.

Jones: I've always listened to coaches

January, 6, 2011
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- It’s not like Jerry Jones has never listened to a head coach’s input on personnel before now.

And it hasn’t only been Bill Parcells.

For better or worse, Jones has always given coaches a lot of power in personnel decisions. For instance, if you’re still ripped about the Cowboys not drafting Randy Moss, direct your anger toward Chan Gailey. He’s the guy who talked Jones out of selecting one of the most spectacular receivers in NFL history.

“I’m trying to think back when I’ve ever really insisted that someone be a part of this team and the coach didn’t agree,” Jones said. “I’m having trouble.”

In an attempt to be helpful, I suggested Terrell Owens as a possibility. Jones responded with a death stare and a firm denial.

“No. We both agreed on T.O.,” he said. “We both agreed. Bill and I agreed that he ought to be on the team.”

In the past, Jones has said that he owns the tiebreaker in personnel decisions. He’s given that up to Garrett, a tremendous sign of trust and respect for a first-time head coach.

“The thing I want you to understand is how much I value his judgment,” Jones said.

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