Dallas Cowboys: Andre Reed

Five Wonders: Can Dallas go deep in '14?

February, 4, 2014
Feb 4
IRVING, Texas -- Not necessarily by popular demand, but Five Wonders is back and we'll look at a number of issues the Dallas Cowboys face in the offseason.

On to the Wonders:
  • I wonder how different the Cowboys' offense will look in 2014 with the addition of Scott Linehan. He will call the plays, but they will be Jason Garrett's plays in the pass game and Bill Callahan's plays in the run game. If there is a change, I wonder if it will be in the deep passing game. He was unafraid to take shots down the field. That's easy to do when you have a receiver like Calvin Johnson and a quarterback with an arm like Matthew Stafford. The Cowboys did not force the issue down the field with the 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos as the only real exception. Tony Romo averaged a career low 7.2 yards per attempt in 2013. As an offensive line coach, was Callahan protecting his guys from having to hold the fort a little longer by not calling the deep ball as much? Was Romo protecting himself in some ways because he has taken a beating in recent years with an offensive line that had too many holes? Maybe it's partly both. Linehan will have to boost the confidence in the deep passing game to make a real difference.
  • I wonder if the Cowboys look at extending Doug Free's contract. He is set to make $3.5 million in 2014 and the final two years of his deal voids after the season. Free, who had a bounce back season in 2013, will count $6.520 million against the cap and if the Cowboys choose to extend Free, they would gain cap space as well as have one of their tackles in place for 2015 and beyond. The Cowboys will have to make it worth Free's while after they cut his pay in half the last two seasons. He will be under no obligation to get do something “team friendly,” but he is not in a hurry to leave. He just turned 30 last month and is entering his eighth season. His backup, Jermey Parnell, is about to enter the final year of his deal. He was supposed to press Free in training camp last summer, but he never did in part because Free never really allowed it.
  • As you look at what the Cowboys might do in the May draft, I wonder if just how much you should keep an eye on wide receiver. I would almost guarantee Miles Austin will not be back with a $5.5 million base salary in 2014. With Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams the Cowboys would have to feel good about their top two receivers. I wonder if they would look at a receiver in the third round, like they did last year in taking Williams. Or I wonder if they will look for a veteran that is not looking to break the bank. Somebody like New Orleans' Robert Meachem comes to mind. If the Cowboys lost Bryant or Williams to injury, then they would need to have receiver ready to be a No. 2 receiver, like how Laurent Robinson filled in a few years ago.
  • Last year was the year of the hamstring injury for the Cowboys. Austin, Justin Durant, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Morris Claiborne, Gavin Escobar, Dwayne Harris, Danny McCray, Ernie Sims, J.J. Wilcox and Williams were among those troubled by varying hamstring injuries last year. Jason Garrett said the Cowboys continually looked at the reasons why. They studied how much they stretched, what they ate, what they drank. The Cowboys had players wearing GPS-like monitors in practice to gain different measurements. I wonder if the Cowboys practiced too long as the year went on. Garrett liked to say you don't want to leave it all on the practice field during the week, but could they have been in a position where they practiced so much in the week they were gassed for the game?
  • Sometimes patience is required when it comes to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I wonder if that will serve Charles Haley well. Haley was once again left off the final ballots of the voters, but that doesn't mean he will not get in. Not to go all Garrett on you, but it is a process. In the last two years we've seen the receiver logjam break with Cris Carter and Andre Reed getting selected. That could be good news for Tim Brown in 2015. Haley has seen defensive linemen Warren Sapp and Michael Strahan get selected the last two years. Maybe next year is his turn and if it is, then nobody will remember all the years it took him to make it to Canton, Ohio, and his gold jacket will be the same as every other Hall of Famer. The voters have a difficult job. I'm not of the belief Haley's conduct toward the media has played a role in his lack of support so far. Sapp was hardly the friendliest player and he got in. It will happen for Haley, one day.

Hall of Fame quest continues for Tim Brown

February, 3, 2012
Whatever happens on Saturday afternoon in Indianapolis, wide receiver Tim Brown has a plane to catch at 8 p.m. CT. Whether he'll head home as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame has yet to be determined.

Brown, a Dallas native, is a finalist again after 17 NFL seasons with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"You try to keep your life as normal as possible," Brown said.

[+] EnlargeTim Brown
Steve Grayson/Getty ImagesJerry Rice is the only Hall of Fame receiver with better numbers than Woodrow Wilson product Tim Brown (above).
Brown has the numbers you want to see for a potential Hall of Famer. He's fourth all-time in receiving yards (14,934), fifth in receptions (1,094), fifth in all-purpose yards (19,679) and fifth in punt return yards (3,320). Brown is also tied for sixth in touchdown receptions with 100.

Brown was a nine-time Pro Bowler and played for the Raiders, one of the NFL's premier franchises.

It might not be enough.

Cris Carter and Andre Reed, two excellent receivers who also have fantastic numbers, are also finalists. The trio almost cancel each other out.

"Do we deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? If it's yes, then these men and women [the voters] have to get together and put them in," Brown said. "It has to get done. Just to say, 'You guys cancel each other out' is an easy way out of the deal."

Brown isn't being emotional when he talks about his quest for the Hall. The process frustrates him, and he doesn't like what it's done to family members, who get excited about him being a finalist and then get upset when he doesn't get elected.

In 2010, Brown was driving to a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., convention center thinking he was going to get elected and had to turn around when his name wasn't called.

"That was the worst drive of my life," Brown said.

Last year, Brown was home in Dallas watching the televised selection show alone.

"I thought I was going to get in," he said. "I didn't even make Top 10. It was deflating."

Brown said his 70-year-old mother drooped her shoulders when he didn't get in.

"It's not supposed to be this way," he said. "When you tell the loved ones [you don't get in] and they put their heads down."

He will be in Indy on Saturday, but with a different mindset.

He's headed to Maui for a charity event with the Children's Miracle Network, regardless if his name is called or not.

"You almost have to minimize the efforts of the Hall of Fame," Brown said. "Your emotions are going to get carried away."