Dallas Cowboys: Tank Johnson

SAN ANTONIO -- Before leaving training camp for Canton, Ohio, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones was asked about the upcoming game against the Bengals which features a few ex-Cowboys.

Terrell Owens, Roy L. Williams, Adam Jones and Tank Johnson are on the squad. Of course, Jones had the most problems with Owens, who tried to cause a riot in the Cowboys locker room, and Jones, who got into a scrum with his team-issued body guard, registering a suspension from the league.

Jones said he wouldn't second-guess himself about signing Owens, Jones and Johnson and understands why Bengals president Mike Brown would do it.

"To me it shows the positive qualities that they could bring to a team and I respect Mike Brown," Jones said. "With that comes the iffiness. Are these guys going to contribute to the team concept? I've done it and I will do it again?
It didn't take long but at least three NFL teams have contacted Flozell Adams' agent, Jordan Woy, regarding the left tackle's services.

Adams, released today by the Cowboys, played the seventh most snaps among left tackles last year at 1,081. Woy said it's too early to determine what is going to happen, "so we will se how it develops."

Adams along with free safety Ken Hamlin were released possibly starting-and-ending the Cowboys' purge of their roster. Last year, Dallas cut veterans Roy L. Williams, Terrell Owens, Greg Ellis, Tank Johnson and Adam 'Pacman' Jones. Also, Zach Thomas declined to return.

So, getting rid of veterans is nothing new for the Cowboys.

Culture change gave Phillips a fighting chance

December, 29, 2009
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys didn't change head coaches after last season. They changed the culture in the locker room instead.

Terrell Owens, Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson and Greg Ellis were all prominent figures in the Valley Ranch locker room last season -- all for the wrong reasons.

Jerry Jones downplays the affect of chemistry -- he says it's a result, not a cause, of a team winning -- but it's not a coincidence that all those guys are gone.

T.O.'s credentials and charismatic personality made him a leader. He led a revolt against Tony Romo and Jason Garrett and set a tone of selfishness.

Not sure how many players actually listened to Pacman and Tank, who rarely shut up as they hung in the D Block, as the veterans of the legal system labeled their corner of the locker room. But they definitely didn't listen to any coaches. It's hard to preach accountability when they are two prominent troublemakers doing whatever they want and getting away with it.

Ellis was a great team guy for most of his years in Dallas, but he had become a malcontent who placed more of a priority on playing time than the team winning and never shied away from airing his grievances publicly.

Cutting T.O. and Pacman, in particular, sent a strong message that things really would be different at Valley Ranch in 2009. Adding all-business guys like Keith Brooking, Igor Olshansky and Gerald Sensabaugh reinforced that message.

"We had big personnel changes, and once we did that they listened more, I think," Wade Phillips said. "That’s part of it. That’s part of the change."

Phillips, never known as a stern disciplinarian, doesn't have to worry about drama in the locker room these days. The culture change made football the only focus, giving the coach a chance to keep his job.

Less drama, more wins?

December, 1, 2009
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys plan to keep the drama on the field this December.

A year ago, the Cowboys' season fizzled as the pass-triangle drama played out in the public eye. Dissension that had been bubbling beneath the surface leaked out in reports that Terrell Owens had issues with Tony Romo's relationship with Jason Witten.

"The main thing is we’re leaving last year, all that behind," Ratliff said. "This is a whole new year. We know if we want to get anything done we’re going to have to be a team and depend on each other. That’s what we’ve been doing this year, and that’s why we’ve been successful."

The circus left Valley Ranch this offseason with the departures of T.O., Tank Johnson and Pacman Jones. Ratliff didn't want to link the changed atmosphere to anything specific, but he said he's glad that there's a different feel to the team this December.

"We’re definitely closer," said Ratliff, who publicly supported T.O. after the receiver was released. "We’re playing for one another and not just ourselves. That’s going to take us a long way."

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, a longtime assistant in Philadelphia, didn't pull any punches when he compared the Cowboys to the Eagles.

The authors of "Game Changers: The 50 Greatest Plays in Philadelphia Eagles Football History," a book reviewed by ESPN.com NFC East blogger Matt Mosley, asked Harbaugh why the Eagles have been so successful over the last decade while the Cowboys went without a playoff win.

The answer:

"Why is that? Because what Andy Reid and his program stand for is the opposite of what the Cowboys stand for. The Cowboys are a star system. It's all about building around individuals first and collecting talent, collecting great players. Andy has always been about building a team. And over the long haul, it's a team sport, and one of the greatest examples of that is what's happened with the Eagles and the Cowboys over the last 10 years. The Cowboys stand for everything that's wrong with the NFL."

You can argue semantics with the last sentence, but the rest of the statement is right on. The good news for Cowboys fans is that Jerry Jones, whether he'd admit it or not, realized this after the 44-6 flop in Philly.

Jerry addressed the problem during the offseason. He got rid of Pacman Jones, Tank Johnson and T.O. -- all me-first, big-name big mouths. He brought in guys like Igor Olshansky, Gerald Sensabaugh and Keith Brooking -- all guys who just do their jobs without worrying about who gets the glory.

The emphasis at Valley Ranch is on substance over style, a significant change from the last few seasons. We'll see how long it lasts, but it's an approach that has worked in places like Philadelphia for some time.