Dallas Cowboys: Dave Campo

Cowboys with first winning December since '01

December, 16, 2012
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- This will be a winning December for the Dallas Cowboys.

That’s something that hasn’t been said around these parts for a decade. The Cowboys haven’t won the majority of their games in December since 2001.

That Dave Campo-coached team was just playing out the string. Jason Garrett’s squad, which is 3-0 this month, is fighting for a playoff berth and possibly a division title.

“Of course, we’ve thought we’ve had some pretty good teams that might not have had a winning December,” said owner/general manager Jerry Jones, whose team did win three of its last five games in 2009, although the regular-season finale was in January. “I don’t mind telling you, to come into December or late November and December with your back against the wall, that can be fun as you look back on it, but it’s no fun coming to the party like that. This has been particularly gratifying to see us get in here and play this well the last few ballgames.”

A winning record in December isn’t the Cowboys’ goal, of course. The regular season won’t be considered a success if the Cowboys don’t qualify for the playoffs.

That might require an undefeated December.

“Take it one game at a time,” tight end Jason Witten said. “That’s been really great for us, just because you really can’t get ahead of yourself.”

Coaching staff might get another hire

January, 19, 2012
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IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys will bring back running backs coach Skip Peete, offensive quality control/wide receivers coach Keith O'Quinn and assistant offensive line coach Wes Phillips. Their contracts were up following the 2011 season.

Peete, who has worked with newly hired offensive line/offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, signed a two-year contract with the Cowboys.

The Cowboys also hired secondary coach Jerome Henderson to replace Dave Campo, whose contract wasn't renewed. Campo took the defensive coordinator job at Kansas.

Brett Maxie was asked to return but decided to become the secondary coach with the Tennessee Titans this week.

Coach Jason Garrett said he does plan to hire an assistant secondary coach to replace Maxie and help Henderson.

Fixing the Cowboys: Find CB first, then draft defense

January, 18, 2012
1/18/12
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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.

Brett Maxie joins Titans staff

January, 16, 2012
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IRVING, Texas -- When the Cowboys hired Jerome Henderson as secondary coach last week, Brett Maxie knew his future was somewhere else and that took him to Tennessee on Monday.

Maxie, whose contract with the Cowboys had expired, was named the Titans’ secondary coach, replacing Marcus Robertson.

He had been with the Cowboys since 2008, splitting secondary duties with Dave Campo.

“I am really excited about this opportunity and the chance to work with Mike Munchak and Jerry Gray,” Maxie said in a release from the Titans. “I have played and coached against each of these men and I have great respect for what they are all about and what they have accomplished. Mike has an impeccable reputation as a coach and I like what I heard about how he runs his team. Jerry and I came into the league as players at the same time and our teams battled each other in the old NFC West and I have admired his work as a coach through the years.”

The Cowboys could add an assistant secondary coach to help Henderson. In training camp former Cowboys cornerback Kevin Mathis worked with the defensive backs in the same way Leon Lett worked with the defensive line. Lett remained with the team for the entire season.
After 23 seasons in the NFL, Dave Campo is returning to the college ranks.

Kansas announced Friday that Campo had been hired as the defensive coordinator of Charlie Weis' staff. Campo was available after the Cowboys opted not to bring him back as secondary coach.

Campo spent the first 18 seasons of his coaching career as a college assistant before following Jimmy Johnson from Miami to Valley Ranch. Campo worked for the Cowboys for 18 of his 23 seasons in the NFL, earning three Super Bowl rings as an assistant and serving as the head coach for three 5-11 seasons from 2000-02.

The Cowboys hired Jerome Henderson this week to replace Campo.

Jason Garrett meets with coaches

January, 7, 2012
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Cowboys coach Jason Garrett met with some coaches in the last few days to talk about their status with the organization. Several coaches, Dave Campo, Brett Maxie, Skip Peete, Hudson Houck, Wes Phillips and Keith O'Quinn, entered the last year of their contracts.

It isn't known if these coaches were retained by Garrett, but Campo, the secondary coach offered a "no comment" when asked about his status with the team.

The Cowboys tried to replace Campo last season with Ray Horton, who was the secondary coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. But Horton became the defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals.

Houck is the highest paid offensive line coach in the NFL, at $1 million a season, and it appears he along with Maxie, the safeties coach will return.

Phillips has a close relationship with Garrett, but he might leave to join his father, Wade Phillips in Houston. The Cowboys seemed to be pleased with Peete, the running backs coach, who worked with rookie DeMarco Murray, who rushed for a team-high 897 yards.

O'Quinn, the offensive quality control/wide receivers coach, who is well-respected, could also return.

Jerry Jones hints at coaching staff changes

January, 6, 2012
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Changes are likely to come soon on the Cowboys’ coaching staff.

“We’ll give you better answers on that as we go over the next three weeks,” owner/general manager Jerry Jones said during a Friday appearance on KRLD-FM, indicating that hires would be made the week of the Jan. 28 Senior Bowl. “That’s pretty much the way I’ll leave it.”

Those changes will not include defensive coordinator Rob Ryan unless he gets an offer to become a head coach. Jones said he is excited about Ryan returning as defensive coordinator, adding that head coach Jason Garrett is in agreement on the issue.

Several assistant coaches have contracts that are expiring: Dave Campo (secondary), Hudson Houck (running game/offensive line), Brett Maxie (secondary/safeties), Wes Phillips (assistant offensive line), Keith O’Quinn (offensive quality control/wide receivers) and Skip Peete (running backs).

Poor performances by their position groups could result in Campo and Houck being replaced despite the franchise’s respect for the assistants in their second tour of duty at Valley Ranch.

The Cowboys tried to replace Campo last offseason by hiring Ray Horton away from the Steelers. However, Horton opted to become the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator instead. Had Horton been hired, Campo likely would have been reassigned to an off-field position.

Former Cowboys offensive line coach Tony Sparano, who was fired as the Miami Dolphins’ head coach this season, could be a candidate to replace Houck. Garrett’s most successful season as a play-caller was in 2007, when he worked with Sparano, who has excellent relationships with key Cowboys such as Tony Romo and Jason Witten.

However, Sparano would likely opt for an offensive coordinator job with play-calling responsibilities if given the choice. Garrett has no intention of relinquishing play-calling duties.

Garrett is also extremely loyal to Houck, who was on the Cowboys’ staff for two Super Bowl championship seasons during Garrett’s playing career and worked with him on the Dolphins’ staff before they returned to Dallas.

5 Wonders: windows, coaches, Spencer

January, 3, 2012
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IRVING, Texas -- The season has ended but 5 Wonders has not. Today we bring you the final weekly installment after an 8-8 season that should have us wondering more than just five things.

Hey, it’s a long offseason and we’ll get to all of them at some point.

But here goes:

** More than ever I believe teams have windows of opportunity and I wonder if the Cowboys missed theirs in 2007. It has not been as good as it was that year when they finished 13-3 and clinched homefield advantage in the NFC. They lost to the New York Giants, 21-17, and you can rehash all of the reasons why if you want. In 2008, the Cowboys showed up on Hard Knocks and too many players assumed they would just be crowned champs. In 2009, they showed backbone late in the year and won a playoff game. In 2010, Wade Phillips was fired after a 1-7 start. In 2011, they let a 7-4 record and first place in the NFC East slip away with an 8-8 finish. Their best players are getting older and the drafts of 2007-10 have contributed seven starting-type players and four other quality backups out of 32 selections.

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**I wonder how Jason Garrett approaches some hard decisions that could be made on his coaching staff. He was able to do it with players once the lockout ended when he decided to part ways with Leonard Davis, Marc Colombo, Marion Barber and Roy Williams. He did it before the season started when he wanted to move on from Andre Gurode. He would not get into the future look of his staff on Monday, but some changes have to be made. He has known Dave Campo and Hudson Houck for nearly 20 years and they share Super Bowl memories. Last year, Garrett tried to woo Pittsburgh’s Ray Horton but Horton became Arizona’s coordinator instead, which kept Campo as the secondary coach. Tony Sparano is available and he and Garret worked well together in 2007. Houck is not under contract in 2012 but has said he will coach as long as he is wanted. The Cowboys need to improve in the secondary and along the offensive line. Garrett gets paid to make tough decisions. These two could be his toughest.

** The chance of the Cowboys re-signing outside linebacker Anthony Spencer appears slim, so it had me wondering two things: Can Victor Butler be an every down player and who was the last first-round pick the Cowboys let walk on their rookie contract? Bobby Carpenter doesn’t count because he was traded before his rookie deal ended. First Butler: I don’t know and I don’t know how the Cowboys could know. He’s been a niche player in his first three years and has a knack for getting to the passer, but in that strong-side outside backer role you have to be stout against the run and not a run-around guy. Maybe Butler can do it, but I’d look for a guy in the draft if they don’t bring Spencer back. (And I realize many of you can’t believe there would be an “if” after the way the season ended). This brings us to the second question. And the answer is: Ebenezer Ekuban, the first rounder from 1999. After the 2003 season he left for Denver.

** I wonder how the Cowboys will attack free agency in March. Contrary to popular opinion, Jerry Jones does not throw around money here, there and everywhere at unrestricted free agents. He has done it from time to time with Deion Sanders and Leonard Davis. You can count Terrell Owens, too. Before the 2005 season he signed Anthony Henry, Marco Rivera and Jason Ferguson to sizeable contracts. The only reason the Cowboys got involved in the Nnamdi Asomugha battle was because the price was lower than they expected. It was how they got La’Roi Glover. Free agency is not the cure-all people believe it is. The best way to approach free agency is with prudence. You don’t have to bargain shop, but the newest toy is not always the best buy. So as you put together your free agent lists, keep that in mind.

** The Cowboys will travel to Cincinnati next year and I wonder if the NFL would consider making that the London game in 2012. Here’s why: the Bengals sold out two games in 2011 and needed a two-for-one special to do it for the Week 17 game vs. Baltimore. The other sellout came against Pittsburgh with the Steelers’ fans filling Paul Brown Stadium. It could be a good sell overseas, too. The Bengals will be coming off a playoff appearance and the Cowboys are the Cowboys. At least in name anyway. Here’s why it won’t happen: The Bengals would not want to give up a sure sellout at home because this is Dallas’ only guaranteed trip in an eight-year run. The Cowboys have played in front of 158 straight sellout crowds, including 79 on the road. Will it happen? Probably not but it’s something to think about.

Scout's Eye: Cowboys-Redskins preview

November, 18, 2011
11/18/11
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Scout's Eye
The last time the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys met, some eight weeks ago, the Redskins were off to a 2-0 start with an impressive opening day win against the New York Giants while the Cowboys had just evened their record to 1-1 after Tony Romo managed to steal a game in San Francisco despite a broken rib.

Blame quarterbacks for Redskins' slide


Since that meeting, the Redskins have lost five of their last six. A large part of those losses are due to the poor play of the quarterbacks Rex Grossman and John Beck. When you study the Redskins, the first thing that comes to mind is what we had to deal with during the Dave Campo years here in Dallas when it came to the quarterbacks. During that span we wasted a lot of time trying to get quarterbacks ready to play that gave us no opportunity to win games. I am seeing a lot of the same things in Washington.

Mike Shanahan’s inability to successfully identify a quarterback has done a lot of damage to the Redskins. Time, money and draft selections have been wasted on players like Donovan McNabb, Grossman and Beck.

Any pro personnel director could tell you without hesitation that McNabb was slipping badly and Andy Reid was more than ready to move on from McNabb with Michael Vick. As much as Shanahan wanted to believe that there was still gas left in McNabb’s tank, it wasn’t the case at all. Everyone knew that except Shanahan.

As the Redskins were going through training camp, Shanahan was still in search of a quarterback and placed a call to the Dolphins about Beck, who have had their quarterback issues as well. The Dolphins were more than happy to ship Beck to the Redskins. Shanahan made his biggest mistake of the off season by not addressing the quarterback situation through the draft when he had the opportunity to do so with a top-10 selection.

Shanahan could have selected Andy Dalton, Jake Locker or Christian Ponder but instead chose to trade down and select linebacker Ryan Kerrigan out of Purdue. Kerrigan has been a nice player this season but doesn’t help his quarterback situation now or in the future.

Beck has made three starts this season and has yet to win a game. As a matter of fact, Beck has an 0-7 record as an NFL starter. He plays like a quarterback that is afraid to make a mistake. You never see him really push the ball down the field. Everything Beck does is short and underneath.

Beck really struggles because he isn’t that accurate when it comes to throwing the ball at any level. He will struggle to hit receivers on the move and he will also struggle to hit them when stationary. The ball doesn’t come off his hand with any zip at all; there is no power to his game.

This is also the case of Grossman, who is back after throwing four interceptions in a loss to the Eagles. I have never been a fan of Grossman’s game because he really lacks arm strength, but I can’t question his toughness. He will stand in there and take shots.

Grossman is not the tallest or most mobile quarterback in the league, but you will see him slide in the pocket to try to help him with throwing lanes. The lack of arm strength appears when the Redskins try to throw the ball down the field.

Cowboys catch a break: No Moss


There have been too many times where Anthony Armstrong or Santana Moss get a step on a corner but have to wait on the ball because neither Grossman or Beck can get it down the field.

The Cowboys catch a huge break in this game because Moss will miss it due to a hand injury. Moss has punished the Cowboys over the years with his playmaking ability, so the fact that he is out of the lineup is a huge plus for Rob Ryan and this defense.

The Redskins generate offense in two areas.

Tight end Fred Davis is the real deal and is someone that nickel back Frank Walker and safeties Gerald Sensabaugh and Abram Elam are going to have to deal with. Davis doesn’t play like a traditional in line tight end. Not to say that you won’t see him inline, but the majority of his work is in the slot or flexed. Davis likes to work the middle of the field and he will be the go-to guy on third downs. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan likes to move him around the formation and create opportunities.

Redskins also will struggle to run the ball


Shanahan will also try to run the ball against the Cowboys’ front seven. Last week against the Bills, Dallas’ run defense was outstanding when the game was in the balance. That wasn’t the case the previous games against the Eagles and Seahawks.

The Cowboys will need to be ready for running backs Ryan Torain and Roy Helu in this zone blocking attack. Torain runs the ball hard but he is really straight line and doesn’t have many moves. He will attack the hole, then lower his head to finish the run.

The back that I think is the best fit for this offense is Helu. He just plays like he has a better feel for the offense when it comes to reading the blocks, then making the cut. Torain is more about attacking the hole; Helu is more about allowing the blocks to develop then making his cut.

Helu also does a nice job of catching the ball out of the backfield. Solid, dependable hands and does a nice job of getting up the field and gaining positive yards.

I mentioned the issues that the Redskins have at quarterback, which I feel are the most important, but their offensive line -- other than left tackle Trent Williams -- really struggle, run or pass.

Left guard Maurice Hurt is the weak link of this line. He plays overextended, doesn’t adjust to twist stunts and has poor sustain. He has been nursing a knee injury and might not be active for this game. Center Will Montgomery would slide over to his spot and Erik Cook would take over at center.

Right tackle Jammal Brown has had his shares of problems when it has come to pass protection. Have seen defenders get the edge on him without many problems.

Williams can make the cut-off block on the backside and reach the front. Williams had a little trouble in the 49ers game when he and Hurt had to sort out the twist game. Both of them did not adjust all that well. Look for Rob Ryan to throw some movement stunts against this line to see if they have corrected those problems or teams will continue to take advantage of them.

Redskins' defense will create pressure


If the Redskins can ever find a way to build any type of offense, they would have a shot in this division. No matter how bad the offense plays, the Redskins defense is always there to clean up the mess.

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and his staff have done a nice job in the games I studied. The pressure that they have able to generate with their front seven, particularly outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Kerrigan, has been impressive.

Orakpo was the first rusher that Doug Free faced after the 49ers game, when he struggled so bad with his technique. I was told that Free was really worried about the inside rush from Orakpo and it affected him in the game. Free has been rock solid the last two weeks and appears to once again be playing with confidence.

Both Orakpo and Kerrigan are relentless rushers when coming after the quarterback, but you will also have to deal with them on the backside when running down plays. If the Cowboys’ tackles and tight ends don’t finish blocks on the backside, then Orakpo and Kerrigan will be right there to make a play.

One of the major reasons for success in this Cowboys running game has been their ability to secure blocks and allow DeMarco Murray to use his vision to make cuts when he reads it. Without those backside blocks, this running game wouldn’t be as potent.

Watch for safety Landry to key on Cowboys' rushers


In the Buffalo game, safety LaRon Landry played more in the box, almost like a linebacker. I have a feeling that Haslett will probably try to do the same to see if he can have some success stopping Murray. Garrett can counter much like he did last week against the Bills -- throw the ball early in the game to get them out of that.

The Redskins have some run players in nose tackle Barry Cofield and defensive end Adam Carriker. Cofield shows the ability to get up field quickly off the snap and be disruptive in the backfield. Will be interested to see if Cofield lines up over Montrae Holland, who has struggled with quickness in the past.

Carriker plays with more brute force and power than great technique. When Tyron Smith has had his troubles, it’s been against ends that play with power. But to Smith’s advantage, this will be the second time that he has faced Carriker, so he can go back and study how he needs to attack him.

Former Cowboys defensive end Stephen Bowen is not playing as well against the run as he did when he was here. There is something about Bowen that leads me to believe that he really was an outstanding nickel or backup player, and the more snaps that he has to play, the more he will struggle. Bowen can still generate some pass rush, but he isn’t nearly as affective as he was when here.

At inside linebacker, the ageless London Fletcher is still around the ball a great deal. When in position to make a tackle, he can get the job done.

I was not impressed with Rocky McIntosh at all. I saw too many times where he was beaten in coverage or he missed a tackle. In the 49ers and Bills games, he was really bad in both those areas. McIntosh struggled much more than Fletcher at getting off blocks.

Cowboys should target Barnes in Redskins' secondary


In the secondary, the Redskins will use three safeties when they are all healthy, which at this time they are not. Landry has missed the first two days of practice with an Achilles injury, but he should play. O.J. Atogwe has been dealing with knee and toe problems and Reed Doughty has a chest issue.

The best combination for the Redskins is when Atogwe and Landry are the starters. Doughty will try to be physical in the run but doesn’t cover all that well.

Of the two corners, Josh Wilson knows how to play the fade and doesn’t give you much room. He also runs very well. DeAngelo Hall likes to bait quarterbacks into throws and will drive on routes. Have been told that he hasn’t been playing well this year, but in the games I studied, I didn’t see that. The weak link in the group is nickel Kevin Barnes, who needs to be attacked.

Jason Garrett looks forward to Oxnard return

November, 11, 2011
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IRVING, Texas -- Be it Dave Campo, Bill Parcells or Wade Phillips, Cowboys’ coaches have loved when the team has held training camp in Oxnard, Calif. Jason Garrett is looking forward to it as well.

The Cowboys announced they will return to Oxnard next year for training camp next summer for at least a three-year run.

“There are lot of benefits,” Garrett said. “It’s a great training camp environment for us. Certainly the weather is great, the fields are really good, the proximity of everything within your day is really good. The weight room, the meeting rooms it’s a confined area that’s easy for us to move around. The people have been great. They’ve treated us really well out there.”

The Cowboys last held camp in Oxnard in 2010 when they split the workouts between there and San Antonio, which owner and general manager Jerry Jones hinted at on his Friday radio show on KRLD-FM.

“We certainly know what we have in San Antonio,” Jones said. “San Antonio has exactly the same percentage of Dallas Cowboys fans as we do in downtown Dallas -- 97 percent. So, when we take our team down there, we’re saying a lot of things. We’re wanting the country to see how much we value our Hispanic fans. San Antonio says that, plus it’s a great place to train in the Alamodome down there. So both of them are good. A long-winded answer, but we’re going to be doing both to some degree.”

Orlando Scandrick isn't a starter yet

August, 30, 2011
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IRVING, Texas -- Orlando Scandrick's contract status changed drastically when he agreed to a five-year, $27 million extension last week. But his spot on the depth chart remains the same.

At least for now.

“We like the starting corners that we have,” Jason Garrett said. “We like Orlando’s role.”

Scandrick’s role is to be the slot corner in the nickel and dime packages. That’s been his job for the last three seasons.

Scandrick has been a starter the entire preseason with Terence Newman (groin) and Mike Jenkins (stinger) recovering from injuries. Scandrick has consistently earned rave reviews in the expanded role.

“He’s done awful well,” secondary coach Dave Campo said. “This last ballgame was probably the best he’s played this year or last year.”

Garrett readily acknowledges that Scandrick has proven that he’s ready to be a starter. However, the Cowboys remain confident in Newman and Jenkins despite both starting cornerbacks having down seasons in 2010.

It’s probably a matter of time before Scandrick replaces Newman in the starting lineup. But that time isn’t now, and there aren’t any indications it will come this season.

Orlando Scandrick: Chip still on my shoulder

August, 24, 2011
8/24/11
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Falling to the fifth round fueled Orlando Scandrick for the first few years of his NFL career.

The draft disrespect angered and motivated him. He played like a man who had something to prove.

Scandrick can’t play the disrespect card anymore. Not after cashing in with a five-year, $27 million contract extension. He’s never been a full-time starter, but the Cowboys have enough confidence in the 24-year-old cornerback to pay him like one.

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“The chip’s still on my shoulder,” Scandrick said, the smile disappearing from his face for a moment. “I’ve got a lot to prove. The contract means nothing. Now I’ve got to come out and prove that I’m worth it.”

Here’s a comforting thought for Cowboys fans: That sounds a lot like Jay Ratliff a few years ago. The five-year, $20.5 million deal Ratliff signed during his first season as a starter raised eyebrows at the time, but it ended up being a bargain for the Cowboys.

Scandrick understands that the expectations increase as his money multiplies. That excites him.

Scandrick has consistently performed well throughout training camp, instilling belief in the coaching staff that he’s capable of starting. But he had his best practice Wednesday, blocking a field goal, picking off a deep ball and breaking up several passes.

That performance occurred as the ink was drying on Scandrick’s new deal. It also came right after secondary coach Dave Campo reminded Scandrick of how much mentality means to his game.

“All I can tell you is that I just said to him, ‘Hey, you can’t lose your edge,’ ” Campo said. “Because there’s a fine line between the penthouse and you know the other spot. He has to continue with that chip on his shoulder because this guy is not a 6-foot, 205-pound corner that runs 4.3. He can run, [but] he’s not a real big guy. He’s got to keep the edge.”

Scandrick is smart enough to know that and competitive enough to do it. The Cowboys are counting on it.

Brett Maxie, Dave Campo switch gameday spots

August, 12, 2011
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Thursday’s preseason opener against Denver was not only a chance for the Cowboys to look at different player combinations. The Cowboys also changed up their look on the sideline with the coaches.

Secondary coach Brett Maxie was on the field for the 24-23 win against the Broncos, while Dave Campo watched from the coaches’ booth upstairs. Campo had been on the sidelines since returning to the Cowboys in 2008 and Maxie had been in the booth.

The other coaches upstairs with Campo were John Garrett (tight ends), Wes Phillips (assistant offensive line), Keith O’Quinn (offensive quality control/wide receivers) and Ben Bloom (defensive quality control/linebackers).

As it was when Jason Garrett became the interim head coach during last season, quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson was on the sidelines and dealt with the quarterbacks in between each series.

Opportunity knocks for Orlando Scandrick

August, 4, 2011
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SAN ANTONIO – Orlando Scandrick has a chance to prove he’s right.

Scandrick believes he’s not just a slot corner. He considers himself a starting-caliber cornerback that can play the slot in the nickel and outside in the base package. It’s especially important that he convinces others of that ability, considering that he’s entering the final season of his rookie contract.

Terence Newman’s pulled groin gives Scandrick the stage, at least for the preseason.

“He is a very, very good slot defender, and those are hard to find,” secondary coach Dave Campo said. “I told him, ‘Hey, here’s an opportunity for you to go out there and do some things at corner and show us what you can do there.’ ”

It didn’t go well the last time Scandrick had this opportunity.

After a solid rookie season as the nickel corner, Wade Phillips wasn’t ready to declare a winner in Scandrick’s corner competition with Mike Jenkins, declaring that they’d alternate starts until the coaches decided on one. That didn’t take long. Scandrick’s dreadful performance in a Week 2 loss to the Giants was his lone start.

Scandrick, who declined an interview request after Thursday morning’s walkthrough, acknowledged at the time that he struggled switching from outside to the slot. That’s the plan for Scandrick as long as Newman is sidelined, which is estimated to be four to six weeks.

“It is challenging,” coach Jason Garrett said. “There’s no question about that. Corner is obviously one of the most challenging positions on the field. You just see the game from a different vantage point.”

Campo and Garrett both pointed out that Scandrick has significantly more experience than he did two seasons ago. That should make him better prepared for the dual roles.

If Scandrick proves he can handle both jobs, he’ll cash in during the offseason, whether it’s in Dallas or elsewhere.

Campo: Terence Newman not declining

February, 21, 2011
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Secondary coach Dave Campo doesn’t consider Terence Newman’s performance this season a sign of decline for the 32-year-old cornerback.

Teams averaged 9.3 yards per attempt when targeting Newman, according to Stats Inc. That compares favorably with Mike Jenkins (10.7 yards per attempt) but few other starting cornerbacks in the league.

“To be honest with you, I don’t know that he had a great year, but I do know that he played through injury this year that in some other years he was not able to do,” Campo said of Newman, who dealt with rib and ankle injuries.

Campo didn’t hesitate when asked if Newman had lost any speed, quickness or explosiveness.

“Not when he’s completely healthy,” Campo said. “He can still do everything that he did, as far as I can see.”

The question is whether the Cowboys should count on Newman, who is due to make $8 million next season, to be healthy. That has to be answered by people who rank a lot higher than Campo.

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