NFC East: Tim Cowlishaw
I thought Phillips actually did a credible job Monday of condemning hazing while trying to move the conversation back to football, but even he had to marvel at how this story gained traction across the country and into Canada. The Cowboys' head coach said that someone told him the Dez Bryant-Roy Williams incident led the news in Toronto on Monday morning. I'm told the folks from BP contacted the Cowboys to express their appreciation for a one-day reprieve. And yes, CNN weighed in on the story Monday, although Wolf Blitzer resisted the urge to address this topic from the Situation Room.
Tim Cowlishaw of ESPN's "Around the Horn" fame had an interesting take on the Bryant story this morning, noting that the Cowboys could have made this go away a lot sooner:
"After the first three practices, Bryant had been the most accommodating of interview subjects, staying 20, even 30 minutes to talk and talk and talk," writes Cowlishaw. "But once his reluctance to go along with a fairly obscure part of Cowboys' tradition became public knowledge, Bryant chose to run from the story.
"He could have put it to rest by carrying Williams' pads Monday and joking about it. Why the Cowboys public relations department didn't make that happen is beyond me. But perhaps Bryant refused to go along with their suggestions as well."
I gave former Cowboys great Drew Pearson a call Monday to ask him about the Bryant affair. The man who made No. 88 famous in Dallas had some great insight that you can hear on this ESPN 103.3 exclusive audio.
Oh, and about that naked tight end: Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com reported that the photos of Bennett were taken four years ago and posted without his consent. You think?
"These pictures were taken four years ago and placed on the Internet recently without my knowledge or consent," Bennett said in a statement released by the club Monday. "I understand that they are totally inappropriate. And for that I am sorry. I regret the embarrassment that it has caused the organization."
As Watkins notes, Bennett joins a growing list of professional athletes who have shown up on the Internet in their birthday suits. We'll continue to monitor this story ... but not too closely.
Dallas Morning News columnist and "Around the Horn" stalwart Tim Cowlishaw thinks the Cowboys have a 30 percent chance of making that happen, in part, because he believes in the Mirage sportsbook. They have the Cowboys at 7-1 to win Super Bowl XLV.
"Many pieces seem to be in place for Dallas," writes Cowlishaw. "The uncapped 2010 season helps in some ways. The Cowboys, as a team that made it to the conference semifinals, are limited in free agents they can pursue. But the pickings are slim, anyway.
"The rule that turned so many unrestricted free agents into restricted players keeps wide receiver Miles Austin in that group. The Cowboys nearly lost him to the Jets a year ago. They aren't letting anyone grab their go-to wide receiver this offseason. The lack of real movement around the conference should help the Cowboys. Teams will undergo less change this offseason than any time since the arrival of real free agency more than 15 years ago. Only the draft will produce major alterations, and the Cowboys' competition won't be picking that much higher than they are."
Well, I guess that depends on who you consider to be the Cowboys' competition. We know from recent history at least six new teams will likely make the playoffs in 2010. With Mike Shanahan taking over the Redskins, don't those two matchups seem a little more worrisome for the Cowboys? The Skins will pick fourth overall and the Giants will pick at No. 15. Both clubs should land an impact player at those spots.
The Cowboys could improve as a team in 2010 -- and end up with a worse record than last season. Maybe I'm showing Tom Coughlin and Shanahan too much respect, but let's recall the Cowboys were swept by a Giants team that wound up finishing 8-8. And Dallas was outplayed by the Redkins at Cowboys Stadium before winning the game in the fourth quarter.
I'm not ready to make any predictions for 2010, but at this point, saying the Cowboys have a 30 percent chance to make the Super Bowl seems a bit too optimistic. Where do you guys stand?
- Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com thinks that Wade Phillips has earned the right to coach another season.
- It's a done deal that Phillips is coming back in 2010, according to The Dallas Morning News. A source also confirmed that nightfall will arrive at approximately 6:10 p.m. local time.
- The man who once spent countless hours explaining the salary cap to me, Todd Archer of the DMN, has a helpful guide to the offseason.
- Jacques Taylor says it's high time the Cowboys made Felix Jones the starter.
- A man who covered the Cowboys of the early '90s, Tim Cowlishaw, says this current group won't be able to pull off any miracles this offseason.
- Did you hear that Brett Favre performed "Pants on the Ground" following Sunday's win? Good thing Keith Brooking wasn't around.
- Jen Engel of the Star-Telegram pays tribute to Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
- A radio icon in Philly has reported that Brian Westbrook's career is in jeopardy because of a left knee injury.
- Bob Ford says Eagles fans should hold off on saying their goodbyes to Donovan McNabb. Bob also digs up some numbers that illustrate how tough it is for a first-year starter to lead a team to the Super Bowl. Ford's research staff is second to none.
- Rich Hofmann, the esteemed columnist for the Daily News, says the Eagles need to start at the back end of their defense while making changes.
- Philly native and Inquirer columnist John Gonzalez has a funny column on Eagles fans.
- Is there any way for a Giants fan to root for the Jets?
- In case you missed it, Gary Myers of the Daily News said that Tom Coughlin is one more bad season away from getting canned.
- Left tackle David Diehl and right guard Chris Snee will join Shaun O'Hara at the Pro Bowl, according to Ralph Vacchiano.
- Perry Fewell's former players are saying some nice things about him, writes the Post's Paul Schwartz.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
As of today, I've decided to resume/start fielding your mailbag questions on a daily basis. You've been incredibly generous with your feedback (over 3,800 questions at last glance), and I want to honor that with some consistent interaction. Now, let's see what's in The Bag. Something tells me T.O.'s name might come up today.
Bryan B. from (of all places) Dallas, you have the first word: Matt, I haven't heard anyone address the Cowboys' situation at wide receiver now heading into next year. I am hopeful that they will not enter next season with Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd as their starters. Is there any news or rumors about what, if any, moves they will make?
Mosley: Bryan, we've been addressing this topic on ESPN.com from the moment T.O. was released Wednesday evening. Matt Williamson from Scouts Inc. was kind enough to cover this topic on the Beast. There's no question that this offense loses a major contributor with T.O.'s departure, but the Cowboys should be able to make up for it in different areas. Tim Cowlishaw had an excellent column Friday in the Dallas Morning News about how the Cowboys should convert to a run-based offense since they appear to have three excellent backs.
I think that you may have to live with the Cowboys beginning the season with Williams and Miles Austin as the starters. Austin has a huge upside, but it's a stretch to consider him a legit No. 2 guy in the NFL at this point. As some of you know, I've fallen hard for Ohio State receiver Brian Robiskie. Great pedigree, great route runner and big-time hands. Doesn't have elite speed, but then, neither did Anquan Boldin. The only other solution is to wait for Torry Holt to get cut and then go sign him to a short-term deal for $2 million or so a year.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
On Saturday morning, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones basically told local reporters that they'd wasted their companies' money coming to Indianapolis because he probably wouldn't have anything to say. Since that conversation, he hasn't shut up.
|AP Photo/Mark Duncan|
|Jerry Jones said the Cowboys will seek to be more "Romo-friendly."|
Jones talked Saturday night, Sunday afternoon and finished up with an hour-long Q&A on Monday. He's also selling season tickets on my blog, but that's another story.
Jones gathered a small group of reporters inside Lucas Oil Stadium and discussed a variety of topics, including Terrell Owens' future and chemistry in the locker room. Longtime beast reader and ESPN "Around The Horn" regular Tim Cowlishaw took on the almost impossible task of interpreting Jones' free-form answers. (Sidenote: In the early '90s, Jones studied under a celebrated public relations consultant. The main thing he learned was to make sure his answers were long enough to eventually wear down the interrogator.)
Dallas Morning News beat man Todd Archer was kind enough to transcribe the entire interview. Here are a few of the highlights:
Why isn't team chemistry a bigger deal to you?
Jerry Jones: I think it's principally because I've experienced locker rooms that look dysfunctional on the face of it and won world championships, OK?
What is this team's top priority?
JJ: I think being as Romo-friendly as our team can be. ... Romo-friendly means let's utilize his skills to the fullest and make sure everything we do maximizes his abilities. ... On defense, I'd like to see turnovers. I'd like to see us get turnovers. I'd put that right behind the quarterbacking -- getting defensive turnovers. Eliminating some turnovers, maybe that ought to go right in there on the offense.
Does Wade Phillips need to be tougher on the players?
JJ: Wade's style, I've seen that win championships. ... But I've seen him bite and bite good. It's a mistake for anybody to think that he won't and doesn't disagree with me.
Why should fans be optimistic about 2009?
JJ: We'll get better quarterbacking. Tony [Romo] is early in his career. I'm not going to say that we're going to have him for 16 games and through the playoffs. We all know the injury factor isn't something you can plan on. We need to do a better job when we don't have him at quarterback. ... I think Tony will be better. When you look at the games he played in, it'd surprise you as to how well he played compared to the year before. He played well in our complete analysis of his year.
Didn't you hint last week that T.O. would be back?
JJ: You got my drift. And that's all I want to say about that.
So why is Jones being so vague on this T.O. topic? I want to hear what you think first. Even you, Samoyed.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
- Tim Cowlishaw of ESPN's "Around the Horn" and NASCAR coverage says this feels like a trap game against the Redskins on Sunday. He thinks the rivalry has lost its sting, and he's probably right. But I'm still not sure how this is a trap game. Do we really have to worry about the Cowboys looking ahead to next Sunday's Bengals game? This series might lack the passion it had in the '70s and '80s, but it's hard to imagine the Cowboys not being emotionally ready to play an important division game.
- Did you know that Redskins receiver Santana Moss has 33 catches for 602 yards and four touchdowns in six career games against the Cowboys? Clarence E. Hill has the story in the Star-Telegram.
- Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News has a story on the most expensive decoy receiver in football.
- The first nonfootball event at the Cowboys' news stadium has been booked. Join me in welcoming the FBI National Academy Association to Arlington -- in 2012.
- It looks like former first-round draft pick Anthony Spencer will be ready to play Sunday. No, I'm being serious. And after a month with the team, it looks like guard Montrae Holland is ready to contribute. You've heard scouts say players are good in space. Holland has been good at taking up space.
- Brian Davis of the DMN has a fun story on how Redskins coach Jim Zorn began his playing career in Dallas. Zorn couldn't quite beat out Clint Longley, one of the most bizarre individuals I've ever written about. Could Zorn have eventually beaten out Danny White? I don't think so, but he certainly had a nice career in Seattle.
- What's this? Another Montrae Holland story? It seems that Montrae is still studying that tricky playbook.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Please pardon the late arrival today. I was trying to squeeze in a 10th wedding anniversary celebration between NFC East preseason games. I'll offer my thoughts on the Eagles' performance in a few minutes, but right now it's important to note that Cowboys offensive tackle Cory Lekkerkerker will be making his highly anticipated return to San Diego tonight.
My former colleague and ESPN cross-platform star Tim Cowlishaw talked about Lekkerkerker's homecoming on his brand new blog. Tim informs his readers that Lekkerkerker's last name would be considered a "trifindrome," which is a word that ends with three sets of the same three letters and something Cowlishaw completely made up!
At this time, the San Diego Chargers have not planned an official ceremony for Lekkerkerker's return, but it's likely the game will be halted for a few minutes when he trots onto the field in the second half.
Back with more analysis in a moment.