Dallas Cowboys: Kansas City Chiefs
|John Lynch joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss playing for Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli, why Cowboys fans should be excited about the new defensive staff, why Valley Ranch will no longer resemble a country club and his thoughts on the Cowboys roster.
"I've been playing for different coaches, different schemes, pretty much my whole career," Carr said Wednesday. "I feel like it adds to my versatility. it's all about learning and grasping whatever is thrown at me."
Carr is also building a strong relationship with his teammates, including Morris Claiborne, who enters his second NFL season. Carr has been helping Claiborne understand the NFL game away from the field as well as on it.
"It helps to be here for a year," he said. "The chemistry we have established and see guys grow and develop. I know my role within the defense, with the team. Guys are kind of settling down now, and we added new guys who can make plays. It's about getting everybody on the same page."
The softest stretch of the Cowboys’ schedule is the three weeks after the opener. The Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers combined to go 16-31-1 last season.
It’s the only stretch of the season that features three foes that had losing records last year. Granted, the Cowboys have to travel to Kansas City and San Diego, but the Chiefs and Chargers were a combined 4-12 at their home stadiums last season.
The Chiefs (Andy Reid) and Chargers (Mike McCoy) have new coaches, so it could also be to the Cowboys’ benefit to face those teams so early in the season.
Andy Reid will call plays in Kansas City after allowing Marty Mornhinweg to run the offense in Philadelphia the last six-plus seasons. The Eagles won their final six games in 2006 with Mornhinweg calling plays.
“It was hard (to give up),” Reid said. “I enjoyed doing that, but I was lucky enough to have Marty, who’s a phenomenal playcaller, but I wanted to get back in and do that … I’m getting older and it gives me an opportunity to do it before time passes.”
Mike McCoy, San Diego’s rookie head coach, will have Ken Whisenhunt call plays. Whisenhunt called plays at different times in his head coaching career in Arizona. McCoy was Denver’s playcaller in 2011-12 with Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning taking the Broncos to the playoffs.
“I’ll still be heavily involved in what we’re doing," McCoy said, "but in my position as head coach I wanted to overlook the entire team on gameday.”
Last week Garrett danced around the play-calling subject but intimated that the team was working toward having Bill Callahan call plays. Garrett said the final decision will be his, but that there is no rush to get it done.
The Cowboys have added Frank Pollack as their assistant offensive line coach, which is seen as a way to allow Callahan, who carried the offensive coordinator title in 2012, to coach the whole offense.
He played in a NFL game on Sunday night where his team defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-33. Carr was able to use the three and half hours of work as a distraction from the real world.
His former teammate with the Kansas City Chiefs, Jovan Belcher, had killed himself and his girlfriend on Saturday.
"I guess this was my first time dealing with a situation like this and still trying to keep my poise and go out there and put on a show in front of millions of people," said Carr, who played with Belcher for three seasons on the Chiefs. "It's been an exhausting two days."
For Carr it wasn't so much he knew Belcher, he knew the girlfriend too, Kasandra M. Perkins. Belcher was a rookie when he met Carr, who was entering his second year in the league, in 2009. Carr still has friends on the Chiefs team. He reached out to them by phone the last 48 hours offering support and trying to find answers.
According to authorities in Kansas City, Belcher shot his girlfriend multiple times at a residence near Arrowhead Stadium, where the Chiefs play. Belcher then drove to the team's practice facility and turned the gun on himself in front of coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli.
The NFL is such a small fraternity where players don't forget each other. Ever.
"I knew him and Kasandra," Carr said. "That was my family, Kansas city was my family before I got here. I'm still close with a lot of those guys there. The whole situation is just shocking. It's unexpected. Out of the blue. You automatically want to ask why, but all I've been doing is praying and asking God to be there for the families that are affected by this and certain people are affected by the incident."
In the NFL, the game moves on with you or without you regardless of how hurt you are from an emotional standpoint. It's a harsh world we live in, but there are times you must step back and cherish what you have.
Carr was trying to do that on Sunday night after his former teammates did in the afternoon. The Chiefs won their first home game of the season, 27-21, over the Carolina Panthers. It was an emotional game for the Chiefs, who had to deal with losing a young teammate and trying to support the families of those affected. As the Chiefs move forward with their lives, there's a young girl, 3-month-old girl, Zoey, who is left an orphan because of this tragedy.
"We got to focus," Carr said. "We knew it was going to be tough (Sunday). You (just) got to go out there."
Carr was standing near his locker at Cowboys Stadium trying to remember the last time he talked Belcher. He was racking his brain but couldn't remember. He was rambling in a quiet locker room because he was trying to make sense of it all. Maybe you can't make sense of it sometimes.
"It caught everybody off guard," he said. "It's a eye opener. A lot of issues that we deal with."
Overall, the Cowboys are 31st in the NFL with 271 total rushing yards.
Now they face the Ravens a team that's allowed 592 rushing yards, 22nd in the league, and coming off a game against Kansas City last week where they gave up 214 rushing yards. In the first five weeks of the season, the Ravens have allowed at least 100 rushing yards in four of the games.
But inside linebacker and 13-time Pro Bowler Ray Lewis isn't backing down.
"I tell you what, they can look to do whatever they want to do, but it ain't going to be what they think it's going to be," Lewis said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning.
Now, Lewis wasn't trying to start anything, he was just answering a question.
But he understands the Ravens can't allow another running back to produce the numbers like the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles did. He rushed 30 times for 140 yards, but had no touchdowns.
"If you look at it per play, we're No. 3 per play, so if you take out the big plays, which every team has to figure it out, whether you go through it sooner or later, that's the business of football. We've been through this before," Lewis said.
At the NFL owners meetings last week, Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett said Carr can play both left and right cornerback but no final determination was made regarding his spot on the defense.
Well, Carr told ESPN Dallas he's working out at left cornerback in anticipation of being there when the season opens Sept. 5 at the New York Giants.
Carr played the last two seasons at right cornerback for the Kansas City Chiefs, but also lined up on the left side and the slot. The Cowboys' right corner is Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick is the slot corner.
"If you want to be an elite corner you have to play both sides of the field," Carr said last week after a tour of the ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn. "And you have to challenge yourself and play outside your comfort zone and play the left or the right, play in the slot or play wherever is needed. That's why this offseason I got [to] adjust to both sides of the field, so come September 5 I can play on both sides and be comfortable. I've been pushing myself out of my comfort zone and playing on my left side."
Of course, Carr has met defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and was impressed with the man, who enters his second season with the Cowboys.
"I can tell he’s comfortable with who he is," Carr said. "He doesn’t sugar coat anything, he keeps it real. That’s what you ask for in a coach, defensive coordinator, just from what I know his scheme is everything a defender would want to play in."
Things finished up with a charity basketball game at the Austin Convention Center between some NFL players, including Roy E. Williams and Derrick Johnson, among others.
"It's tough on me [because] I have two kids myself and I'm a blessed individual that they’re not in the hospital," Williams said. "They're running around playing and running to daddy and playing basketball and things of that nature. It just humbles a person to see those kids laying in the bed and they can't do nothing and they're still smiling. It puts a lot of things in prospective."
Kasey Studdard, the Houston Texans' left guard, said pro athletes have to give back to their communities, especially when children are involved.
"I love it," he said. "It's good to give back to the kids and the children's hospital. I love doing that, seeing the kids. Kids are fighting though things at a young age, that we didn’t fight through. I just care for these kids. I feel better about myself talking to them and playing video games and saying we got your back."
IRVING -- The Dallas Cowboys are strongly considering making another change at kickoff returner.
Undrafted rookie receiver Kevin Ogletree is splitting time with Felix Jones as the primary kick returner during practice this week. Jones has been the primary kick returner most of the season, but he's averaging only 20.9 yards.
Ogletree returned kickoffs in the overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs, when Jones was sidelined by a sprained knee. Ogletree averaged 23.5 yards per return, fumbling the ball out of bounds on one of them.
Veteran Allen Rossum, one of the most productive return men in NFL history, was signed to fill the role. However, Rossum pulled his hamstring on his first return in the Oct. 25 win over the Atlanta Falcons and has not played or practiced since.
Ogletree, who was inactive five of the first six games, has earned a role in the offense. With 4.36 speed, he's one of the fastest players on the roster. He's displayed his explosiveness on three quick screen passes the last two games, gaining 57 yards.
IRVING -- It would seem Green Bay is ready for the taking.
The Packers have lost two straight -- at home to the Vikings (and former QB Brett Favre) and on the road against then-winless Tampa Bay.
So here come the Cowboys, winners of four consecutive games to move into first place in the NFC East.
Coach Wade Phillips is cautious about this game. Dallas won its first-ever game at Lambeau Field last season (1-5).
"We expect their best -- as we did Kansas City on the road. We expected their best," Phillips said. "Atlanta, Philadelphia -- they're going to play their best. That's how you have to approach it. That's what we do. That's what you do. That's what we harp on and how we execute."
The Packers' offensive line is in shambles, and Green Bay is behind Atlanta (5-3) and Philadelphia (5-3) in the NFC wild-card chase. The Packers' next two games -- Dallas and San Francisco -- could help their cause.
A sense of urgency in Green Bay?
"I hope it is for us," Phillips said. "That's what we try to do every week. I said it before: It's easier than other [games], but I think this team is grounded."
During the longest sackless streak since his rookie season, DeMarcus Ware predicted they'd come in bunches once he finally got one.
Ware was right. He broke a five-game drought, which dated to last season's finale, with two sacks against the Kansas City Chiefs. He followed that up with another two-sack performance against the Atlanta Falcons. Believe it or not, that marked the first time in the perennial Pro Bowl pass rusher's career that he had multi-sack outings in consecutive games.
Don't be surprised if that streak is extended Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
Ware had three sacks in the Thanksgiving win over the Seahawks last season, repeatedly blowing by hobbled future Hall of Fame left tackle Walter Jones. That was the last game Jones played before undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee.
While the 35-year-old Jones continues to rehab, the Seahawks seem to hold weekly auditions at the most important position on the offensive line.
Sean Locklear replaced Jones, but he hasn't played since suffering a high ankle sprain in the second week of the season. Brandon Frye and Kyle Williams got turns, but Frye injured his neck and Williams' poor performance earned a ticket back to the practice squad. It appears that Damion McIntosh will start at left tackle against the Cowboys.
McIntosh signed with the Seahawks two weeks ago. He was unemployed the previous six weeks after being released by the Kansas City Chiefs. So a guy who couldn't play for Kansas City, which has allowed the most sacks in the NFL, will probably be protecting Matt Hasselbeck's blind side.
The smart money is with the new $78 million man in that matchup.
IRVING -- The National Football Post reported the Cowboys have spent $93.5 million in cash, which ranks 31st in the NFL -- ahead of only Kansas City, which spent $89 million this year.
The report suggests the Cowboys are cash strapped for player salaries because it was spending money on the new $1.12 billion stadium, which opened this year.
"That's not right," Cowboys' executive vice president Stephen Jones said on Friday. "We're snug against [the salary cap]."
The Cowboys have about $11 million under the salary cap, which is $127.9 million.
Jones said the team was among the top three in the league in player salaries the last few years.
This year, Jones said the team is only focused on extending the contract of outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. Jones said those talks are ongoing and have been open.
In the past two years, as the stadium was getting built, the club extended the contracts of quarterback Tony Romo, running back Marion Barber, wide receivers Patrick Crayton and Terrell Owens, safety Ken Hamlin and tackle Marc Colombo. The club also signed free agents guard Leonard Davis and linebackers Zach Thomas and Keith Brooking. Dallas also re-signed free agent Flozell Adams, giving him a $13 million signing bonus.
KANSAS CITY -- The Dallas Cowboys' defense failed them at the end of regulation.
But Miles Austin bailed them out in overtime.
In an ugly game, a game the Cowboys probably didn't deserve to win, they did, beating the Chiefs, 26-20 in overtime in cold and windy Arrowhead Stadium.
Tony Romo had his best game since the season opener. He completed 20 of 34 passes for 351 yards and two touchdowns.
With Roy Williams back home with three bruised ribs, Austin filled in with his first career-start and finished with 10 catches for 250 yards and two touchdowns, all career-highs.
He also had two drops in the end zone. But Austin's touchdown receptions were the result of his ability to break tackles, including the 60-yarder in overtime to win it.
However, the Cowboys had four dropped passes and numerous penalties.
The Cowboys now have a bye week in which they can get Williams healthy and backup running back Felix Jones (knee) back for the game against Atlanta.
KANSAS CITY -- The Cowboys offense woke up in this second half. Tashard Choice's 36-yard touchdown run got the Cowboys to within 13-10 heading into the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Tony Romo has been efficient. He's completed 16 of 25 passes for 195 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. If this keeps up it will be the third consecutive game Romo has not thrown a touchdown pass.
Receiver Miles Austin has played very well in this game replacing Roy Williams, and it should give Romo more confidence to get him the ball. Austin has seven catches for 128 yards in his first career start in the early stages of the fourth quarter.
Overall, the Cowboys have four dropped passes, and good teams don't do that.
Join Tim MacMahon for a live pregame and in-game chat as the Cowboys take on the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.