Cowboys-Eagles face-off in Desperation Bowl by Lloyd Vance

Dallas Cowboys stadium will surely be rocking on Christmas Eve as the Cowboys and Eagles square-off in a “Desperation Bowl” with huge playoff implications.  Back in Week 8, the Eagles romped over the Cowboys 34-7

Philadelphia Eagles (6-8) at Dallas Cowboys (8-6), Saturday December 24th, 4:15 PM ET on FOX

Broadcast Team: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, and Pam Oliver

The 102nd meeting of the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys will be one of the bigger games in the second-to-last week of the 2011 NFL regular season.  Both the Eagles and the NFC East division-leading Cowboys will be looking to further clear-up the NFC’s muddled playoff picture by coming away with a win in a sure-fire “Desperation Bowl”.  Of course the stage for this game could be already set after the New York Giants (7-7) face the New York Jets (8-6) meet in the1:00 PM ETslot.  The Cowboys and Giants have been locked in a season-long battle for the NFC East crown and if the G-Men are able to pull off a win versus their in-stadium rival, then both Dallas and Philadelphia will experience different feelings heading into their rivalry game.  If the Giants win at1 PM, then the Eagles will be eliminated from playoff contention and the Cowboys win or lose will have to prepare themselves for an “All or Nothing” game in Week 17 against the Giants.

For what it is worth, my gut is telling me that the NY Jets seem to be riding a much stronger sense of momentum than the NY Giants – have lost 5 of their last 6 games – so it would not shock me if the Eagles-Cowboys game really will still matter come 4:15 PM ET.  Continue reading

Loss to Cardinals Could be the start of Another Cowboys Late Season Swoon by Lloyd Vance

Could the Dallas Cowboys improbable Week 13 overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals lead to another late season swoon? We know team owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett sure hope not.

Week 13 of the 2011 NFL Season was not a good one for the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys (7-5).  A purely winnable game turned into a devastating loss as the Arizona Cardinals (5-7) gladly took home a close 19-13 overtime home win.  While the Cowboys were left to wonder, “What If”.  The winning margin came quickly in OT as Cardinals reserve RB LaRod Stephens-Howling turned a short pass from QB Kevin Kolb into a dazzling darting 52-yard touchdown reception.  Continue reading

The Cowboys re-tender WR Miles Austin by Lloyd Vance

Cowboys WR Miles Austin may soon be entering Brandon Marshall’s pay level

Recently the Dallas Cowboys re-issued their restricted free agent tender offer to unsigned wide receiver Miles Austin — worth $3.168 million.  Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones has smartly said that his organization wants to work out a long-term deal for Austin, who earned his first Pro Bowl selection in 2009 while establishing career highs in receptions (81), yards (1,320) and touchdowns (11).

In my opinion, even though the Cowboys already have pass catchers WR Sam Hurd, WR Patrick Crayton, WR Roy Williams, and TE Jason Witten under contract plus drafting Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant too (1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft) it would be behoove them to get the 25-year old emerging star locked-up.  The former special teamer turned No. 1 receiver was one of the main reasons that Dallas scored 361 points in 2009, set a team single-season mark with 6,390 total net yards and won their first playoff game since 1996.

Austin led the NFL with 8 receiving touchdowns of 20+ yards and he also joined former Cowboys’ greats Michael Irvin and Terrell Owens in the team’s 1,250+ receiving yards in season club. The former Monmouth star, like all other restricted free agents, will have until June 15 to sign his tender. If Austin doesn’t sign, by that date the Cowboys could cut his salary to $1.65 million.

Other prominent restricted free agents recently receiving a second tender offer included: Cardinals OG Deuce Lutui, Vikings DE Ray Edwards, and Packers safety Atari Bigby.

2010 NFL Restricted Free Agent Notes

Here is a team-by-team look at their remaining unsigned restricted free agents along with the RFA’s tender information. 

The Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, SF 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, and St. Louis Rams don’t have any unsigned RFA’s entering 2010 training camp.

Arizona Cardinals 

Deuce Lutui, G, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.1705M

Baltimore Ravens 

Jared Gaither, T, three (3) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First Round, $2.396M; Reduced Tender Amount: $506,000; Difference: $1.89M

Le’Ron McClain, RB, three (3) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First Round, $2.396M; Reduced Tender Amount: $506,000; Difference: $1.89M

Dawan Landry, S, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.111M; Difference: $648,000

Carolina Panthers 

Thomas Davis, LB, five (5) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.268M; Reduced Tender Amount: $2.42M; Difference: $848,000

Richard Marshall, CB, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.17M

Cleveland Browns 

Abram Elam, S, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.265M; Difference: $494,000

Jerome Harrison, RB, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.1705M

D’Qwell Jackson, LB, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $704,000; Difference: $1.055M

Matt Roth, LB, five (5) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.809M; Reduced Tender Amount: $770,000; Difference: $1.039M

Lawrence Vickers, FB, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.1705M

Dallas Cowboys 

Miles Austin, WR, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.168M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.6995M; Difference: $1.4685M

Denver Broncos

Elvis Dumervil, LB, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.168M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $2.5795M

Green Bay Packers

Atari Bigby, S, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.6995M; Difference: $59,500

Johnny Jolly, DE, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First Round, $2.521M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.9325M

Tramon Williams, CB, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.043M; Reduced Tender Amount: $577,500; Difference: $2.4655M

Houston Texans

Owen Daniels, TE, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.168M; Reduced Tender Amount: $3.0712M; Difference: $96,800

Indianapolis Colts

Antoine Bethea, S, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First Round, $2.521M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.9325M

Kansas City Chiefs

Jarrad Page, S, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.6995M; Difference: $59,500

Miami Dolphins

Ronnie Brown, RB, five (5) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First Round, $3.969M; Reduced Tender Amount: Not Applicable – Tender amount already 110% of 2009 base salary

Anthony Fasano, TE, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Original Round, $1.176M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $587,500

Minnesota Vikings

Ray Edwards, DE, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First Round, $2.521M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.111M; Difference: $1.41M

New England Patriots

Logan Mankins, G, five (5) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.268M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.54M; Difference: $1.728M

New Orleans Saints

Jammal Brown, OT, five (5) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.619M; Reduced Tender Amount: Not Applicable – Tender amount already 110% of 2009 base salary

Roman Harper, S, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First Round, $2.521M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.9325M

Lance Moore, WR, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.6995M; Difference: $59,500

Pierre Thomas, RB, three (3) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.684M; Reduced Tender Amount: $506,000; Difference: $1.178M

San Diego Chargers

Malcolm Floyd, WR, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.168M; Reduced Tender Amount: $1.6995M; Difference: $1.4685M

Vincent Jackson, WR, five (5) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.268M; Reduced Tender Amount: $682,000; Difference: $2.586M

Marcus McNeill, OT, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.168M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $2.5975M

Shawne Merriman, LB, five (5) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.269M; Reduced Tender Amount: Not Applicable – Tender amount already 110% of 2009 base salary

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Donald Penn, OT, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First and Third Round, $3.168M; Reduced Tender Amount: $3.0712M; Difference: $96,800

Tennessee Titans

LB Stephen Tulloch, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: First Round, $2.521M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.9325M

Washington Redskins

Rocky McIntosh, LB, four (4) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Second Round, $1.759M; Reduced Tender Amount: $588,500; Difference: $1.1705M

Carlos Rogers, CB, five (5) accrued seasons

Tender Level, 2010 Base Salary: Original Round, $1.542M

Reduced Tender Amount: Not Applicable – Tender amount already 110% of 2009 base salary

 

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Trade for Roy Williams looking like a colossal mistake for Cowboys

In baseball everyone remembers bad trades like the 1990 deal where the Boston Red Sox traded future star Jeff Bagwell to the Houston Astros for aging setup man Larry Anderson.  But the NFL has also seen its fair share of one sided trades throughout the league’s 90-year existence.  To name a few doozy’s that some fans will want to remember and some forget:  Cowboys trading RB Herschel Walker (along with 1 other player and picks) to the Vikings for 4 players and 8 picks including 3 first-rounders that led directly to Dallas winning 3 Super Bowls, Colts trading future Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk to the St. Louis Rams for 2nd and 5th round picks in the 1999 draft and the Redskins trading underachieving DT Sean Gilbert to the Carolina Panthers for first round picks in 1999 and 2000.

But after the 1-year anniversary and almost half of the 2009 season being completed, I am ready to add the infamous 2008 trade deadline deal that sent receiver Roy E.  Williams from Detroit to Dallas to the “One-sided NFL Trades” list. The trade’s details were  Williams (along with a 7rd pick) to the Dallas Cowboys and 1st Rd, 3rd Rd, and 6th Rd picks in the 2009 NFL Draft going to the Lions.   At the time of the trade in October of 2008, a lot of fans and media thought that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had swung a great deal for a possible No. 1 receiver and purchased some “T.O Insurance”.  But as the weeks on the NFL calendar pass, this trade is looking more like a colossal mistake by Dallas. 

Throughout the 2008 season, the Cowboys were growing tired of inconsistent aging receiver and lockerroom pariah Terrell Owens so Williams looked like the perfect motivational tool and possible replacement wrapped up in a 6’3, 215 package.   The Cowboys beat-out NFC East division rival, the Philadelphia Eagles, in the race to grab Williams and Jones even handed the “perceived” superstar a brand new five-year contract extension worth $45 million, including more than $20 million guaranteed.  On his trade to Dallas Williams, who was a high school and college star in the state of Texas, said “I’m more happy to be a Dallas Cowboy than when I got my first bike”.  He added with a huge smile, “Going from 0-5 to 4-2, you can’t ask for anything better than that”.

It seemed like a great plan by the Cowboys to slowly acclimate Williams to their playbook and quarterback Tony Romo for the remainder of the 2008 season, then unleash him as their featured receiver in 2009, once Owens was jettisoned.  But the 27-year old former Texas Longhorn has proven to be an even bigger pain in the rear than Owens (averaged  78 catches, 1196 yards, and 13 TDs in 3 years with Dallas), because he has not produced on the field.  Of course everyone tacked Williams’ pedestrian 2008 numbers (19 catches for 198 yards, and 1 TD in 10 games and 7 starts) and being a non-factor as the Cowboys narrowly missed the playoff to a steep learning curve. 

But after spending over a year with the Cowboys including mini-camps, OTAs, training camp, and practices, Williams looks worse than ever.  He looks tentative in traffic, has dropped too many passes (just 12 catches on 30 targets — 40% catch rate), looks uninterested at times, and clearly has lost the confidence of a few of his teammates, namely Romo.  Through 6 games, Williams has 12 catches for 230 yards and 1 TD, which is nowhere near a featured receiver’s production.  In his defense, Williams has not been the same since being “blasted” over the middle (ribs) in the Cowboys 17-10 loss to Denver in Week 4.  But the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league and surprisingly for the Cowboys it has been formerly little known small-school receiver Miles Austin that has risen to the occasion of replacing T.O than big-ticket receiver Williams (career numbers: 262 catches for 3,884 yards and 29 TDs over a 6 years).

Austin has been one of the 2009 NFL season’s best stories rising from tiny Monmouth (NJ) College to making the NFL as a special teamer then finally getting his shot this season.  The tall (6’3) and fast (4.4) receiver burst on the scene in a Week 6 win over the Chiefs producing 10 catches for a franchise record 250 yards and 2 TDs (both 50-yard plus bombs).  Austin saved the Cowboys’ hides with a 60-yard tackle-breaking game-winning TD reception in overtime and became the 10th player in NFL history to record at least 10 catches, 250 yards and two touchdowns in a game.  Austin then proved the Chiefs’ game was no fluke as he looked like the second coming of Cowboys hall of famer Michael Irvin in a Week 7 win over the Atlanta Falcons (best six catches for 171 yards and 2 TDs).  Out of nowhere Austin and his eye-popping numbers (21 catches for 502 yards, 23.9 ypr average and 5 TDs) have moved former starter Patrick Crayton to the bench.  And almost everyone watching the Cowboys would agree that Austin and not Williams is Romo’s number #1 passing option.  Heck…many would argue that Williams is behind tight ends Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett too at this point.

For the Cowboys’ sake, hopefully Williams is just having a tough time learning to be the go-to-guy on a team that expects to win.  But for now his 1-time Pro Bowl player — 82 catches for 1,310 yards and seven touchdowns in 2006 for Detroit — is looking like he will never achieve that status again or be an impact player.  This season Williams’ production has slipped to averaging 2.4 receptions and 46 yards per game, which is astronomically down from his career highs of 5.6 and 81.9 in 2006.  If Williams doesn’t turn it around soon, he will join former Cowboys trade flameout WR Joey Galloway in the Cowboys annals as another receiver that Jerry Jones traded for with high expectations, but got little in return.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award -winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

No Cowboys Ring Of Honor Entries Again This Year

Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones surprisingly announced this week that there wouldn’t be any Ring of Honor inductees again this year.  You would have thought given the Cowboys much anticipated move into their new palace Cowboys Stadium, at a cost of over $1 billion dollars, that at least one new franchise great would grace the ring this upcoming season.

In fact since the Cowboys inducted Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin (The Triplets) in 2005 there have not been any new Cowboys enshrined.  The Ring of Honor was first created in 1975 as a ring inside the former Cowboys’ home Texas Stadium to honor past franchise greats.  Pro Football Hall of Famer Bob Lilly was the first Cowboy awarded with the Ring of Honor distinction in November 1975.  There are currently 17 members of Ring of Honor, but I thought given the Cowboys national persona and former title of “America’s Team” that more players would have received the honor.  In the past, Ring of Honor inductees were solely chosen by former president / general manager Tex Schramm, but now Jones has the final word on the honor. Some say the reason that so few players have received the honor was that Schramm placed such a high value on the character of the inductees.

Here is the list of current ROH inductees:

74 Bob Lilly — Nov. 23, 1975

17 Don Meredith — Nov. 7,1976

43 Don Perkins — Nov. 7, 1976

54 Chuck Howley — Oct. 30, 1977

20 Mel Renfro — Oct. 25, 1981

12 Roger Staubach — Oct. 9, 1983

55 Lee Roy Jordan — Oct. 29, 1989

HC Tom Landry — Nov. 7, 1993

33 Tony Dorsett — Oct. 9, 1994

54 Randy White — Oct. 9, 1994

22 Bob Hayes — Sept. 23, 2001

GM Tex Schramm — Oct. 12, 2003

43 Cliff Harris — Oct. 10, 2004

70 Rayfield Wright — Oct. 10, 2004

8 Troy Aikman — Sept. 19, 2005

88 Michael Irvin — Sept. 19, 2005

22 Emmitt Smith — Sept. 19, 2005.

Some people that I believe should get a look for the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor are:

Former RB and Assistant Coach Dan Reeves

Former player personnel executive Gil Brand

Former Defensive End Ed “Too Too Tall” Jones

Former defensive back Charlie Waters

Former defensive back Deion Sanders

Former head coach Jimmy Johnson

Former receiver Drew Pearson

Former special teams ace and assistant coach Bill Bates

The NFL Giving Pacman One Last Chance

pacman-jones

After completing an NFL mandated alcohol program, Pacman Jones was re-instated (from an indefinite suspension) for probably his last time on November 19th

You have to hand it to the NFL, because if not anything the league believes in second chances and some cases 3 or 4 chances.  Apparently the league is ready to give troubled Dallas Cowboys cornerback Adam “Don’t Call Me Pacman” Jones another chance.  Jones, who recently completed a league mandated 30-day alcohol treatment program while serving a league mandated 4-game suspension from his October 8th incident with his Cowboys assigned bodyguards, has gotten his last reprieve for probably his career by Commissioner Roger Goodell.  The announcement was a total shocker to me as several NFL people told me that Adam Jones was done in the NFL for a long time  — already had served a 17-month suspension including the entire 2007 season for several brushes with the law.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Wednesday the suspended cornerback has been reinstated by league commissioner Goodell and can practice immediately, but he will miss two more Cowboys games – this Sunday and the following game on Thanksgiving.   So watch out Pittsburgh as a rested and healthy Pacman is scheduled to come to town on December 7th as the Cowboys play the Steelers at Heinz Field.

Worrick Robinson, A. Jones’ attorney said the following statement for his client after the announcement, “He much appreciates the Cowboys and Jerry Jones for standing behind him and encouraging him, and he’s grateful to the commissioner”.  Robinson finished with, “He knows what he has to do. It’s very clear.”  Cowboys giddy owner Jerry Jones added, “He’s a long way, a long way from having clear sailing.”  

As I stated earlier, “I am shocked that the NFL gave Pacman another shot”.  But the move clearly shows that the NFL wants to give every opportunity to Jones to rehabilitate himself and maybe he has learned in enough in his alcohol program to finally straighten himself out.  I want to root for Jones to have turned the corner joining former NFL bad boys like Andre Rison, teammate Tank Johnson, receiver Koren Robinson, and others in getting back to playing the game that he supposedly loves.  But much like many other skeptics, I want to see him finally prove on and off the field that he truly is a “professional” and not some thug masquerading as an NFL player.

This is your last chance Pacman, so make the most of it your the only football you will be playing is Madden Football on your Playstation.

NFL suspends Cowboys CB Adam Jones again for a minimum of four games

Well we all knew after Adam “Pacman” Jones’ October 8th incident that if Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wouldn’t suspend the troubled Cowboys cornerback then Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL would.  Goodell suspended Adam Jones indefinitely without pay, for a minimum of four games, on Tuesday for violating the league’s Personal Conduct Policy.

Jones will miss the next four games at a minimum with only Goodell determining the final length of the suspension following the Cowboys’ Week 11 game against Washington on November 16th. Goodell will evaluate Jones’ return based on his strict compliance with his NFL and Dallas Cowboys treatment plans.

Goodell said in a letter spelling out Jones’ latest suspension, that the whole situation was a continuation of “a disturbing pattern of behavior and clearly inconsistent with the conditions I set for your continued participation in the NFL.”  Jones had priorly been suspended for the entire 2007 season for multiple violations of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy. In reinstating Jones on Aug. 28, Goodell said that the player’s participation in the NFL depends on demonstrating that he can conduct himself in a socially responsible manner, avoiding any other conduct that brings disrespect to himself, his team, or the NFL (I guess getting in a fight after 12:00 AM with the men hired to protect you is the of violation the Commish is talking about).

Unfortunately I have to comment on this situation for about the 100 millionth time.  Pacman Jones just does not get it!!! Playing in the NFL is a privilege and quite possibly Jones has gotten that privilege taken away for good.  It is mind-boggling to me the Pacman insists on thinking that his tremendous playing skills (BTW: He was very rusty after over 12 months away from the game) will supercede violation after violation of the NFL’s Code of Conduct and their big unspoken code of don’t bring too many black-eyes to the greatest league on Earth.  We all know the NFL will give second chances if a player performs on the field, but eventually the player has to wake up and give a damn – see Andre Rison, Koren Robinson, Tank Johnson, Christian Peter,  Michael Irvin, etc – which we have yet to see Adam Jones.

I think Adam Jones will now feel the doors of the NFL close to him again for an extended period of time (i.e. see you in 2009, if you are lucky) as Goodell has had enough of the malcontent’s behavior.  We all know the NFL is about ratings and fan interest, so habitual stories like Pacman’s only hurts the league and Goodell doesn’t want that at all especially when the NFL is going global.   Of course Jerry Jones said that he supported Goodell’s decision, but I think he is still holding out hope of Pacman returning again especially with veteran cornerback Terrence Newman’s recent groin surgery.  J. Jones said, “We move forward with a very clear knowledge as to what the process will be for a possible re-instatement, Adam is well aware of where he stands and what he has to do.”

Stay tuned for the next episode of “As the NFL Turns” as who knows what Pacman Jones will do next.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)