Dallas Cowboys: Roy E. Williams

Beat Writers Recap: Cowboys-Eagles II

January, 4, 2011

The season is now over, at least for the Cowboys following their 14-13 victory over the Eagles last Sunday at The Linc. Instead of breaking down the game as normal, we thought we'd take advantage of ESPN Stats and Information to provide you with a final statistical breakdown of the 2010 season.


*The Cowboys used three quarterbacks this season, Tony Romo, Jon Kitna and Stephen McGee, and we noticed one thing among the trio, especially with Romo and Kitna, is the lack of success on completing passes of 21 or more yards. Romo completed just seven passes for 243 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Kitna completed just nine for 308 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. With the speed the Cowboys had at wideout with Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, it's a little surprising the Cowboys didn't have more success here. There were times we thought the Cowboys should take shots down field, and interim coach Jason Garrett said he called for deep passes but sometimes things wouldn't connect.

*Romo was very good against five or more pass rushers. He had the second-highest quarterback rating in the league at 114.1 and was sacked just once this year against that front. He threw five touchdowns and one interception. Kitna was sacked nine times against five or more rushers.

*The Cowboys like to use the shotgun. It's a staple of the franchise, and Romo had the third-highest quarterback rating (91.5) in the league in that formation. Kitna was pretty good too with a 94.3 rating. Tom Brady led NFL quarterbacks with 23 touchdowns out of the shotgun.

Wide receivers

You want to know who the most reliable receiver on the Cowboys was in 2010: Dez Bryant. At least 95.7 percent of the passes directed toward the rookie from Oklahoma State were completed. He suffered only two drops. Roy Williams was second on the team with a 92.5 completion rate. Miles Austin came in a disappointing third with a 87.3 rate. But Austin led the wide receivers with the most targets at 118. Austin was one of 27 receivers that were targeted at least 100 times this season.

*Dropping the football became a messing thing for the Cowboys. Numerous passes bounced off receivers to fall incomplete or go into an opposing defenders arms. Austin led the Cowboys with 10 drops, second to Wes Welker, who led the league with 11. Williams was credited with three drops. As a team, the Cowboys had 24 drops.

Running backs

*You want another reason why Felix Jones will start in 2011? He led the Cowboys with 540 yards-after-catch. Jones used the screen well to set up his blocks and get down the field for big gains in 2010. The Cowboys also had 2,259 YACs, second in the NFL.

*When it came to getting a touchdown on goal-to-go situations, Marion Barber had 18 carries and produced three touchdowns. Jones had just one touchdown out of eight carries. Barber led the team with the most goal-to-go carries because he's a physical back able to knock defenders away. The Cowboys also have one of the biggest offensive lines in the league, but sometimes that line wasn't athletic enough against linebackers who came up and made plays in short-yardage situations inside the 10.


*When the Cowboys lost Wade Phillips as not only the head coach but the defensive coordinator, it meant Paul Pasqualoni took charge, and out was an aggressive style. Pasqualoni tweaked the defense a little bit and used more zone coverages and fewer blitzes. He'd rather let teams drive the length of the field instead of trying to beat his group deep in man coverage. Sending five or more rushers hurt the Cowboys this season. When it happened, they got 15 sacks and three interceptions, but quarterbacks compiled a league-high 112.5 rating. The Cowboys allowed the third-highest completion percentage at 63.3 percent when five rushers came at the quarterback. You can attributed this to the secondary not making plays and the pass rushers not getting there fast enough. Quarterbacks also used three step drops and quick releases to avoid the pass rush.

Notes:The Cowboys used a two-tight end set 412 times, seventh most in the league. The Cowboys were in three-wide receiver sets 175 times. ... We like Jay Ratliff at nose tackle. He's gone to the Pro Bowl the last three seasons from that position. But would a change to defensive end help the pass rush? Maybe Josh Brent or Sean Lissemore could start at nose for the Cowboys next year. ... If the Cowboys release Roy Williams and don't re-sign Sam Hurd, Kevin Ogletree is the leader in the clubhouse as the No. 3 receiver. ... The two best training camp battles for 2011 are: Stephen McGee vs. Jon Kitna and John Phillips vs. Martellus Bennett.

Young receivers might play Sunday

December, 30, 2010
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys have mainly accomplished-healthy wide receiver and that's Miles Austin. His accomplishments have occurred in the last two seasons.

Roy E. Williams is hurting with a slight groin injury and was limited in practice on Wednesday.

What's left is Sam Hurd, who missed practice with a headache, Jesse Holley, Teddy Williams and Manny Johnson have yet to catch a NFL pass.

If Williams is unavailable for Sunday's regular season finale at Philadelphia it would leave little experience at the position.

"We got to see how those guys do," interim coach Jason Garrett said of the injured receivers. "We do have some guys banged up and we’ll see how they’ll do the next couple of days. We have to be able to manage it like we do every week with different personnel groups. Regardless of what the position is sometimes the runners are limited, the tight ends are limited and in this case it's the receivers and so you got to be able to do it in different ways."

Holley was moved from the practice squad to the active roster for the Vikings game on Oct. 17 and has gotten limited snaps on offense. He's mainly played special teams and is third on the team with 16 tackles in that area.

Johnson has been targeted just once on offense, Dec. 19 vs. Washington, and was inactive last week vs. the Arizona Cardinals.

Williams is still learning the position, and though we has moved up to the active roster last week, he was inactive for the Cardinals game.

"I think they’re doing well," Garrett said of Holley and Johnson. "Jesse Holley has been a very strong contributor to our special teams and he's grown each and every day as a receiver and Manny had a chance to be active a couple of weeks ago and he continues to grow as a receiver. Those guys just need experience and need practice reps and obviously when we get them in the game those are really worth while to them."

This might be the week to see them.

Felix Jones nursing shin injury

December, 22, 2010
IRVING, Texas -- Felix Jones, the Cowboys' leading rusher, was not on the practice field during the open media session Wednesday because he's nursing a shin contusion.

Jones, who was injured in last week's win over the Redskins, didn't participate in Tuesday's walkthrough session either.

Sean Lee and Gerald Sensabaugh who are trying to recover from concussions, attended practice but didn't wear shoulder pads or helmets. Both players said they've passed league-mandated concussion tests.

Bradie James (knee) and Keith Brooking (foot) missed practice as expected, but at this stage of the season it's more of a precaution than anything else.

Marion Barber, who missed the last three games with a calf injury, and Roy Williams, out last week with a groin injury, participated in practice.

Injury update: No decisions made

December, 20, 2010
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys' injury report was still being evaluated on Monday.

Linebacker Sean Lee and safety Gerald Sensabaugh suffered concussions in Sunday's game vs. the Redskins. Both players need to pass league-mandated tests to become eligible for Saturday's game at Arizona.

A short week could hurt their chances of playing.

"Oh, I think it’s probably the same protocol," Jason Garrett said. "They have to be symptom free as they go through each of the stages. So we’ll just go through that process."

Running back Marion Barber and receiver Roy Williams, two starters, missed Sunday's game with injuries. Barber has missed the last three games with a calf injury but did practice some last week.

Williams injured a groin in practice and couldn't push off during Friday's session. He was inactive for the game.

It hasn't been determined if any of these players will go Saturday.

Welcome to Arlington: The home finale

December, 19, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys conclude the 2010 home portion of the regular season Sunday, and what's interesting is the team has just one victory here. Fighter Manny Pacquiao has more wins in Cowboys Stadium in 2010 than Jerry Jones' group.

There are all sorts of subplots in the game, including the benching of Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb and the absences of Roy Williams and Marion Barber because of injuries.

Here's what's going on at Cowboys Stadium today:

Cowboys update (4-9):This might be Jon Kitna's last game as the starter. Tony Romo could return for the Christmas Day game at Arizona. We've received mixed signals from the organization regarding Romo. Winning games is important for the club, but when asked about Romo, the organization, mainly Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett, say it will be a medicial decision. Romo wants to play but can't get on the field unless he's cleared the play. Starters Roy E. Williams and Marion Barber might not participate because of injuries. Sam Hurd, Tashard Choice, Felix Jones and Bryan McCann are young players worth looking at today.

Cowboys inactives: QB Tony Romo, WR Roy E. Williams, RB Marion Barber, LB Leon Williams, DE Clifton Geathers, C Phil Costa, OT Sam Young, OT Jermey Parnell.

Redskins update (5-8): What can be said of the Redskins? This is an organization in trouble. McNabb has been benched and in steps Rex Grossman, who was sacked three times and threw three interceptions in his only appearance against the Cowboys, in 2007 when he played for the Chicago Bears. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is no better than Jim Zorn was in his first season. Yes, Shanahan has two Super Bowl titles and is 15th in all-time regular season wins at 151, but he might lose more games than Zorn did in his first year on the job. Zorn finished 2008 at 8-8.

Redskins inactives: 3QB John Beck, S Macho Harris, RB James Davis, RB Andre Brown, OL Eric Cook, DL Kedric Golston, OG Derrick Dockery, DE Jeremy Clark.

Scouts scheduled to attend: Jacksonville and Arizona

Officials:Referee -- Al Riveron, Umpire -- Scott Dawson, Head Linesman Jim Mello, Line Judge -- Ron Phares, Field Judge --Steve Zimmer, Side Judge -- Jimmy DeBell, Back Judge -- Lee Dyer, Instant Replay -- Jim Lapetina.

Bennett and Holley return to practice

December, 17, 2010
IRVING -- Tight end Martellus Bennett (flu) and wide receiver/special teamer Jesse Holley (knee) returned to the practice fields on Friday after missing the sessions the previous day.

Following practice, Holley said missing the last two days helped his knee and he's expected to play Sunday.

Wide receiver Roy E. Williams (groin), who missed the last two days with his injury, walked onto the field getting ready to practice. Williams has done some walkthrough work which is a good sign he's expected to play on Sunday vs. Washington.

Starting running back Marion Barber (calf) was also a participant, but it's unlikely he will play Sunday vs. Washington because the training staff is bringing him along slowly.

"We just have to wait and see," interim coach Jason Garrett said of Barber's status prior to Friday's practice. "He certainly had a better week this week than he did last week and he seems to be progressing and we’ll have to evaluate it as the time comes."

Sean Lee (shoulder), Keith Brooking (foot) and Terence Newman (flu) attended practice and was expected to participate.

Marion Barber is limited in practice

December, 16, 2010
IRVING -- Starting running back Marion Barber was limited in practice on Thursday with a strained calf.
Barber has missed the last two games with the injury and his status for Sunday's game vs. the Redskins is uncertain.

Felix Jones has started in his absence.

Barber wouldn't answer a question about his calf, only saying he has to be a good boy because Santa is coming to town.

Interim coach Jason Garrett did comment on Barber's health.

"He got more work in practice today and he seemed to be moving around fairly well," Garrett said. "We'll have to see how he goes tomorrow [and] how he responds to the couple of days of work that he's had."

A flu bug has swept Valley Ranch.

Martellus Bennett and Terence Newman missed practices due to the flu. Newman was out Wednesday but returned on Thursday.

Bennett was out on Thursday.

"It's just one of those things you have to battle through," Garrett said. "We've had a couple of guys miss some time both in meetings and on the practice fields because of this little illness that's been going around. We don't think it's going to be long term for any of them. We just gotta fight through it and get some mental reps and somehow makeup for some of that practice time that was lost."

Keith Brooking (foot) and Newman were limited in practice.

There was full participation from Bradie James (foot), however Sean Lee (shoulder), Jesse Holley (knee) and Roy E. Williams (groin) missed practice.

Miles Austin talks about his drops

December, 15, 2010
With three games remaining in the regular season, wide receiver Miles Austin has the team lead with eight drops.

It's a career-high for Austin, who became a full-time starter in 2009. He's seeing more passes than ever before and that's part of the reason why he's dropping passes.

Last year, Roy E. Williams led the team with eight drops.

Austin suffered what could be considered a drop when a pass from Jon Kitna bounced off his hands and was intercepted in the second quarter vs. the Eagles. It was a quick throw from Kitna and it seemed Austin was still trying to complete his route across the middle of the field.

"Drops happen for different reasons," Austin said following Cowboys practice on Wednesday. "The one last week was a tough catch. It would have been a tough catch. It would have been great if I would have made it. It kind of got on me real quick and tips up."

Earlier this season, Austin had some drop issues and changed his practice routine by catching passes without gloves. Austin said it makes you concentrate more because you're hands have to squeeze the ball when it comes to you.

In games, the gloves sometimes give you a false sense of security that you have the ball in your hands because of the material on the palms of the gloves are somewhat sticky.

"I'm working," he said. "I'm in practice. I didn't have any drops today. I've just got to take it one day at a time."

Roy Williams: 'I lost the ballgame'

November, 25, 2010

ARLINGTON, Texas -- For the record, Roy Williams finished with five catches for 83 yards and no touchdowns.

But one reception, a 47-yarder, will be remembered as what turned things around in the Cowboys' 30-27 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Thursday.

As the Cowboys were trying to run out the clock or increase their lead to two scores, Williams caught a nice pass from Jon Kitna and appeared headed toward the end zone. As he was running down the field, Williams switched the ball from his right to his left hand to avoid a defender.

Williams didn't see Malcolm Jenkins, who came from behind and stripped him of the ball with 3:03 to play in the fourth quarter. The turnover gave the Saints new life, and they would eventually score the go-ahead touchdown when Drew Brees found Lance Moore on a 12-yard slant with 1:55 to play.

"I had two hands on it, but the guy made a great play," said Williams, who sat at his locker in full uniform as reporters surrounded him. "I'm accountable for it. I lost the ballgame. I will say that. I let my teammates down."

Jenkins said he made a mistake in coverage on the play and tried to do something after Williams ran past him.

Williams has endured heavy criticism from the media and fans since the Cowboys made a trade for him in 2007. He hasn't had a 1,000-yard season or become the playmaker Jerry Jones thought he was getting from the Lions.

A variety of reasons led to this, including the emergence of Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, and Williams himself.

"It's not on him; it's 45 of us," Austin said. "It's on everybody. We all have to be in a position that even if something happens. You know we'll still come away with it."

Said Kitna of Williams: "He made great plays all day. Even after that he made a great play to get us a first down on that last drive. He was trying to to do the right thing. He had two hands on the football. Trying to go down, it just kind of got you off balanced where you're almost running backwards. It's kind of one of those scary feelings."

Still, Williams believes he cost his team the game and said he could have almost jumped from the Saints' 11, where he was stripped, to the end zone.

"It's late in the game," Williams said of the fumble. "That's the nail in the coffin right there. The nail in the coffin. We had the momentum swung our way. We were there headed to a W. That's a W if I just get tackled or just long jump my way into the end zone. Somehow, some way, we win the ballgame. Just fall down, we win."

Roy Williams wonders about lesser role

November, 10, 2010
IRVING, Texas -- Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams is not trying to spoil the party of Jason Garrett being named the interim coach.

But Williams is a little curious about his reduced role in the Cowboys offense.

In the first four weeks of the season, Williams had 18 catches for 278 yards and three touchdowns, including a five-catch, 117 yard, two-touchdown performance in a victory over the Houston Texans.

But over the last four weeks, Williams has just five catches for 55 yards and two touchdowns. Williams also had a catchless game, his fourth with the Cowboys, vs. the New York Giants. It appears Williams is not featured in the game plan as much in the last month of the season as he was earlier.

Miles Austin is still the primary guy in the passing game, as it should be, but it's worth noting how Williams isn't getting the ball as much.

Williams said he's seeing the same defenses now, man-to-man and some Cover 2, as he did early in the season.

"I don't know how you start out and then it goes away," Williams said after practice on Wednesday. "Sometime, maybe it can come back up a little bit."

Williams is still getting first-team reps in practice, and sometimes Dez Bryant gets reps with Miles Austin on the first team unit.

So Williams remains in the starting lineup, unless Garrett has decided to make a change.

"I just have to continue to bust my ass in practice and games and become an overall receiver," Williams said. "Today I asked Joe DeCamillis if he wanted me on special teams."

Miles Austin goes without gloves

November, 3, 2010

IRVING, Texas -- As part of the fundamental focus of practices these days for the Cowboys, wide receiver Miles Austin said the receivers caught passes without gloves.

Normally receivers play in games with gloves, and Austin plans on doing that Sunday at Green Bay. But Austin is in a five-way tie for the league lead with six drops and he's gone back to basics.

Part of that goes to he's getting more passes thrown his way as the lead receiver. Last year, Austin was the No. 3 receiver and when Roy Williams went down with a rib injury he took over. Austin emerged with a 10-catch, 250-yard, two-touchdown effort in an overtime victory over Kansas City.

Austin took over the starting lineup the next week and finished the season with a 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns which pushed him into the Pro Bowl.

This season, Austin is producing good numbers, 43 catches for 641 yards, but he has just two touchdowns and went through a two-game stretch where he had a five catches combined.

The dropped passes however have taken more of a focus this year because two of Austin's drops turned into interceptions.

"Concentration," he said. "For me, it's concentration, just catching the ball, you really have to look it in without gloves on. That's why I'm working on it."

Austin said it's easier to catch passes with gloves because the ball kind of sticks to his hands. When you catch the ball without gloves you have to look the ball into your hands more and grip it more.

"For me personally, keeping my eye on the ball, catching for everybody," Austin said. "Offensive line blocking, running backs, blocking, running, just go back to the basics and what we know. [Just] our plays and our game."

No trades forthcoming for the Cowboys

October, 15, 2010
IRVING -- Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said the team isn't looking to trade any of its players.

The NFL trading deadline is Tuesday at 3 p.m. CT.

Jones said despite his club's 1-3 record and difficult schedule, which continues Sunday at Minnesota, teams are not blowing up his phone trying to make deals.
Mike Tirico shares his thoughts on the state of the Saints, Cowboys-Vikings, Titans-Jaguars and more.

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"We don’t get that," Jones said. "For the most part, this team is put together. No panic around here."

The Cowboys made two trades in 2010, both before the regular season started.

Dallas traded receiver Patrick Crayton to San Diego for a seventh-round draft pick in 2011 and sent Pat McQuistan to Miami for sixth-rounder in 2011.

The last in-season deal by the Cowboys was 2008, when it gave up three draft picks to the Detroit Lions for wide receiver Roy E. Williams. That deal came on the eve of the trade deadline.

Wade Phillips knows it's just one win

September, 27, 2010
IRVING, Texas -- While the Cowboys are happy, maybe relieved, they picked up their first win of the season, coach Wade Phillips didn't say to make hotel reservations for the Super Bowl.

"But we have to realize it was only one win," Phillips said during his briefing with reporters on Monday following the 27-13 win over the Houston Texans. "We are still only 1-2."

The Cowboys did some strong things in the victory such as getting the running game (101 yards total) and Roy E. Williams (two touchdowns) going and forcing three turnovers.

Kicker David Buehler seemed to ease fears around Valley Ranch that he can't make pressure kicks. Buehler made field goals of 49 and 40 yards on Sunday.

Quarterback Tony Romo picked up his highest passer rating of the season, 127.6, and linebacker DeMarcus Ware was credited with three sacks and five tackles for loss.

Yes, everybody is happy around Valley Ranch on Monday.

The Cowboys will have a walkthrough practice Tuesday and conduct some harder practices on Wednesday and Thursday before having the weekend off.

"We need to practice three days this week," Phillips said. "And then get some rest and come back Monday. There were certainly miscues, negatives, things you need to work [on] and coach better. But overall we have to pleased with at least that game."

Roy Williams with a major impact

September, 26, 2010

HOUSTON -- Roy E. Williams said it would take a BAD MAN to take his starting spot as wide receiver with the Cowboys.

Dez Bryant has been good the first three weeks of the season, yet, Williams is better.

Talent wise, Bryant has a bigger future. Great hands, speed and a physical presence.

But he hasn't done enough to overtake Williams' job.

Williams finished with five catches for a game-high 117 yards and two touchdowns in the Cowboys victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday.

Williams caught touchdown passes of 15 and 63 yards on the day. After three weeks, Williams has the team-lead in touchdown receptions at two.

Of the ten longest plays from scrimmage for the Cowboys offense, Williams had three of them.

"It’s just me flying under the radar and playing my game," Williams said. "I had a big one."

This was Williams' second 100-yard game with the Cowboys, the first one, was Nov. 15 at Green Bay, but that was in a loss. The last time Williams had a 100 yard game in a victory was 2007, when he had seven catches for 111 yards and one touchdown in helping the Detroit Lions beat the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 16.

The chemistry between Williams and quarterback Tony Romo hasn't been anywhere close. But this season, for whatever reason things are different.

Williams changed his practice habits, going faster and harder, keeping his weight down and taking more of a command of the offense.

The emergence of Miles Austin and Dez Bryant also motivated Williams to get his act together.

So far it's helped.

Williams has the team lead in yards-per-catch average at 15.9.

"Everything I said in the offseason has supposedly come true in the regular season," he said. "I just want to be consistent. I’ve put together three good games and stood out in all three."

The problem of course is that big contract Williams has. It's worth $45 million and he's getting close to $13 million in 2010.

He's endured all sorts of heat from the fans and media for his lackluster numbers, but many of his teammates have admired how he's handled himself.

"You can't be happier for Roy with all the criticism he's taken the last couple of years and he's just stayed with it and it played big today," Jason Witten said. "We knew we were going to need him. That's what we're used to in this offense; run it, run it, run it and then boom a slant for 60-yards or so."

Sam Hurd is on the bubble

August, 23, 2010
OXNARD, Calif. -- The Cowboys have had internal discussions about possibly trading wide receiver Sam Hurd. The issue is waiting to see what to get for Hurd, possibly a sixth- or seventh-round pick, and whether losing him by trade is worth counting on a younger player at a special teams position.

Hurd led the Cowboys with a career-high 19 special teams tackles last season. The emergence of several younger players on special teams -- Barry Church, Danny McCray and Jesse Holley -- could make Hurd expendable.

"It's what I know. It would be tough to play somewhere else," Hurd said after Monday's practice. "You know your role here, but they know I want to have a bigger role on the offense, and I hope that happens."

The team might keep five wide receivers: Roy Williams, Miles Austin, Patrick Crayton, Kevin Ogletree and Dez Bryant. A season-ending injury to one of those players keeps Hurd's availability alive.

"I think he does a lot of good things for us; that's why he's been with us," coach Wade Phillips said. "He's a guy you can count on. He's been injured some the last couple of years, but I think he's been solid as a receiver and one of our best special teamers, and he's done that this year."

When asked if Hurd is on the bubble, Phillips said, "We got a lot of good receivers. A lot of good players. I think it's a competition every year, and really at that position, where he is, it's always going to be competitive. If he's a starter, that's a different thing. But right now he's not."