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News » Countdown: Jones handcuffs Phillips in Dallas

Countdown: Jones handcuffs Phillips in Dallas

Countdown: Jones handcuffs Phillips in Dallas
Cowboys coach Wade Phillips got to calling his boss "Dr. Jerry" this past week whenever Jerry Jones insisted that quarterback Tony Romo had a chance of playing today against the St. Louis Rams. Wade's reference was a little humorous, but there is no question that Jones is more than simply the owner/general manager of the Dallas Cowboys. He is much, much more.

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And because Jerry is Jerry, who initially patterned his ownership career after the Raiders' Al Davis, there is a disconnect within this football team. When walking out the door at Valley Ranch, Bill Parcells knew that Jones would revert to signing bad-character players like Pacman Jones and Tank Johnson. We all know that even Terrell Owens wasn't a player that Parcells wanted, but he surrendered to Jerry's wishes to have a major playmaker.

The Cowboys still have the talent to be a playoff team this season, but there is no question that Jones has made it tougher for Wade to lower the hammer on a player. Now, Wade might not ever act like Parcells, but there is no chance that the Dallas head coach can put any fear into his players. Why? Because the players know that Jerry, not Wade, is the boss. He's the only one who can hire and fire, and put them on the unemployment line.

Jones has become like George Steinbrenner when he was hiring and firing Billy Martin every other week. The coach/manager isn't the boss. Jerry is the Boss.

There are a lot of good qualities in Jones. He gave offensive coordinator Jason Garrett $3.5 million to continue coaching the Cowboys instead of accepting a head coaching position elsewhere.

But the salary shocked other NFL owners and probably undermined Wade's situation with Garrett. You never seem to see Wade telling Garrett to run the ball more in order to help his beleaguered defense on game days. Wade may be afraid to, because there is no one in Dallas who doesn't believe Garrett will some day be the Cowboys' next head coach. It's just a matter of either months or years, depending on your point of view.

Jones loves stars and that's why he acquired Roy Williams, a lost receiver in Detroit who wanted to play in Dallas. Williams also gives the Cowboys a legitimate No. 1 receiver just in case T.O. has a meltdown.

But doling out big salaries is the Jerry way. He is an owner who definitely likes the idea of an uncapped year in the salary cap. His new $1 billion stadium will boost his revenue stream far above the little-guy franchises in Oakland, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Minneapolis and New Orleans.

It is a fascinating business development that NFL teams at the financial bottom are aligned with Jones and the Cowboys in killing the salary cap and opting out of the current CBA agreement with the players. Jones and them wouldn't mind every season being uncapped; they both hate the current labor agreement, but for different reasons.

How the Cowboys fare this season has more to do with Jerry Jones than Wade Phillips. He wanted the nice-guy defensive coordinator to be the Dallas head coach, but now he'd better force Wade to kick some butts in that locker room. Right now, the Cowboys are a team with one leader, Jerry Jones.

But the Cowboys are a team that needs some players to emerge as leaders if the franchise is going to end its 11-year playoff losing streak. Believe me, if the Cowboys lose to the Rams today, it will feel like Rome is burning on Monday in Dallas.

GAME: Dallas at St. Louis


WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Well, Brad Johnson starts for injured Cowboys QB Tony Romo, who figures to be the third quarterback. This will be the 40-year-old Johnson's first start since 2006, but he knows the offense and when given protection, he's capable of getting the ball deep to Terrell Owens and Roy Williams. There aren't a lot of positives with the Rams, but they have rushed the quarterback very well lately. The pressure is on LOT Flozell Adams, who hasn't played well. The Rams also can expect a heavy dose of Marion Barber. Even though Felix Jones is out, fellow rookie Tashard Choice has some speed and can cause problems. Rams QB Marc Bulger figures to attack Dallas rookie LCB Mike Jenkins, who starts with Terence Newman injured and Pacman Jones suspended. Jenkins tends to give receivers too much cushion. For the Rams to win, Bulger must have a big day throwing. The Cowboys are worried about their special teams. They signed Chris Polk when Sam Hurd was placed on injured reserve. Sam Paulescu replaces Pro Bowl punter Mat McBriar, who was averaging 49 yards a kick.

CZAR'S SCOOP: Many believe that rookie CB Orlando Scandrick has played better than Jenkins and deserved to start. Instead, Scandrick will be the nickel back. Now, if the two rookies step up and play well, the Cowboys may not bring back Pacman when he's reinstated. But if they fail, Pacman could end up on the team again. Fans may have seen Rams coach Jim Haslett jawing with Redskins cornerback Leigh Torrence last Sunday. Apparently, Haslett saw Torrence coming in his direction while covering a third-quarter punt. "I figured it was him or me," Haslett said "He was going to run me over or I was going to get him. I got a good shot on him." Haslett threw a forearm at Torrence, stopping him cold. Torrence wasn't pleased, and the two engaged in some verbal abuse before officials intervened. Haslett said you see coaches get knocked over all the time on the sidelines. "That wasn't going to be me," he said. "He's not that big. It's no big deal." Rams WR Dane Looker has a rare brain abnormality, but he has been cleared to play. Rams OG Richie Incognito was fined $35,000 for his verbal outburst against game officials in Washington that almost cost the Rams their upset win over the Redskins. Adam Goldberg could be starting for injured Rams LT Orlando Pace.

GAME: San Francisco at N.Y. Giants


WHAT TO WATCH FOR: 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz tends to abandon RB Frank Gore (720 scrimmage yards) late in games, so he needs to figure out a rhythm in order to help young QB J.T. O'Sullivan. The Giants figure to up the front-four pressure after failing to sack Derek Anderson in Cleveland. O'Sullivan has been sacked 23 times and has thrown eight interceptions thus far and he has a horrible third-down quarterback rating. On defense, the Giants will be minus starting linebackers Antonio Pierce and Gerris Wilkinson, and Chase Blackburn and rookie Bryan Kehl will start. The 49ers get pass rusher Manny Lawson back, but they need to start making more plays in the secondary, especially with Giants QB Eli Manning (bruised chest) looking to bounce back. San Francisco's ability to avoid the big pass plays is directly tied to how well it defends the running game, making the secondary less vulnerable to play-action. Rookie WR Josh Morgan is expected to start for the 49ers.

CZAR'S SCOOP: PK John Carney will kick again, even though Lawrence Tynes announced that he was healthy and ready to take his job back. Apparently, Giants coach Tom Coughlin didn't appreciate Tynes' announcement. With most bad games for Manning, good ones seem to follow. That loss to the Browns on Monday night was the fifth game in which Manning has thrown three or more interceptions. But after the previous four, he has come back the following week with a win. "Whether it is a good play or bad play, you have to move on and think about this next play or this next game and what you have to do to prepare," Eli said, "Sometimes it's harder than just saying it, but I think over the years I have learned to do that and do it well." Super Bowl hero David Tyree practiced for the first time in about six months, his first step from being off the PUP list. The Giants have three weeks to make a decision. Tyree underwent knee surgery in April.

GAME: New Orleans at Carolina


WHAT TO WATCH FOR: WR Shaun McDonald starts for the traded Roy Williams and Damion Cook starts for LT Jeff Backus. The Lions also plan to start LB Ryan Nece and CB Brian Kelly as winless head coach Rod Marinelli tries to shake up the troops. Detroit hopes that RB Kevin Smith, who busted a career-long 50-yard run Sunday at Minnesota, can keep it going against a Houston defense that ranks 24th against the run. The Texans are happy with the progress of rookie RB Steve Slaton, although he's shaky in pass protection. The Lions have to worry about DE Mario Williams, who has six sacks. Dan Orlovsky was sacked six times last Sunday by the Vikings. Marinelli said his team is excited about giving Orlovsky a chance to win the job. The Texans are pretty weak at safety, so look for Orlovsky to go deep to Calvin Johnson and McDonald.

CZAR'S SCOOP: The Lions and QB Jon Kitna had a different view of his bulging-disk problem in his lower back. Coach Rod Marinelli said the team doctors thought he would be out 5-6 weeks whereas Kitna, who didn't like the design of Jim Colleto's offense, thought he could back in one week. The Lions put Kitna on injured reserve, probably ending his playing career in Detroit. Texans QB Matt Schaub (only 18 career starts) threw for a team-record 379 yards last Sunday. In his last two starts, Schaub has thrown for 686 yards and four TDs and scored one TD rushing. Houston DE Mario Williams had two sacks against Miami. He had two the previous week against Indianapolis, giving him six in five games. Since Oct. 1, 2007, he has 18 sacks, the most in the league. CB Dunta Robinson was activated on Friday. Robinson suffered a torn knee ligament and had the hamstring become detached from the same leg. Both injuries had to be surgically repaired. He returned to practice Wednesday and he's expected to get 20 snaps at nickel cornerback.

Other games

San Diego at Buffalo: This figures to be a shoot-out with the Bills minus CB Terrence McGee and DE Aaron Schobel. The Chargers simply have struggled stopping the pass on a consistent basis this season. Bills do get WR-PR Roscoe Parrish back. He missed the past two games with a torn ligament in his thumb. The Bills have won their last three games coming off the bye week. Bills QB Trent Edwards is coming off an concussion.

Baltimore at Miami: The big news in this game is that the Dolphins are upset with Ravens coach John Harbaugh's comments that his offensive coordinator Cam Cameron did a great job in Miami last year, considering "what he had to work with" on offense. Miami's Ronnie Brown was upset. "With what he had to work with, huh?" Brown said. "Personally, it is added motivation. I was on the offensive side of the ball and I feel like he's talking about us to a certain extent. All I can do is show him and do what I do and that's play the game. That's how I talk, I guess." WR Greg Camarillo said he took Harbaugh's words as a personal insult.

Tennessee at Kansas City: Both teams were off last week, a pretty rare occurrence in the NFL. The Titans (5-0) are the league's only unbeaten team and they face the Chiefs, who won't have RB Larry Johnson in the lineup, but will have a disappointed Tony Gonzalez. Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards finally benched Johnson, who has been late for half a dozen meetings this season. Gonzalez is upset that he wasn't traded to the Packers last Tuesday. QB Brodie Croyle starts for the Chiefs and he's 0-7 as a starter in his career. Titans QB Vince Young is the backup behind Kerry Collins and seems to have adjusted to that role.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati: Well, Ryan Fitzpatrick starts his third game for Bengals QB Carson Palmer (elbow) and it doesn't look good for the former USC quarterback for the rest of the season. The Bengals are hoping two weeks of rest will reduce Palmer's inflammation, but if the team is 0-8 by then, why even consider playing him? Mewelde Moore starts for Steelers RB Willie Parker while RT Max Starks makes his first start. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger should be OK, considering the Bengals have managed only five sacks all season.

Indianapolis at Green Bay: The Packers refused to part with a second-round draft choice for Chiefs TE Gonzalez, although they thought they had a deal for a third-rounder. Packers RB Ryan Grant, who had a career-high 33 carries last week, should be featured against the Colts' 29th-ranked run defense. Colts safety Bob Sanders (knee) could be back in a week or two. Aaron Rodgers threw in practice this week. The Colts are 20-6 (.769) under Tony Dungy against the NFC. Packers WR Donald Driver has 528 career receptions, two shy of James Lofton's franchise record.

Cleveland at Washington: Browns QB Derek Anderson wasn't touched Monday night by New York's pass rushers, but that figures to be different today. But what was even more spectacular was that the Browns' 32nd-ranked offense didn't commit a turnover, allow a sack or even punt against the Giants. Since 1963, that's only the fourth time that has ever happened in an NFL game. There is a good chance that Cleveland TE Kellen Winslow will play.

N.Y. Jets at Oakland: The Raiders surrendered 320 passing yards last Sunday to Drew Brees and now they face Brett Favre, who also has a running game with Thomas Jones. The Raiders need to run, but the Jets allowed only 69 yards rushing per game, third-lowest total in the league. New Oakland coach Tom Cable finally benched disappointing safety Michael Huff and also plans to give rookie WR Chaz Schilens extended playing time.

Seattle at Tampa Bay: The best news for Seattle is that backup QB Seneca Wallace is starting for the horrible Charlie Frye. Matt Hasselbeck is bothered by both knee and back injuries. You have to wonder if Seattle secondary coach Jim Mora is thinking maybe he should take the U. of Washington job instead of replacing Mike Holmgren next year. This is a show-time game for young Tampa Bay players hoping to corral some Pro Bowl votes, considering the franchise rarely lands a prime-time gig. The Bucs released reserve LB Matt McCoy, who was arrested for a DUI early Saturday morning. And WR Joey Galloway, who wants to play against his former team, will be a game-time decision.

Denver at New England: Broncos QB Jay Cutler should have rookie WR Eddie Royal back with Brandon Marshall, although TE Tony Scheffler and WR Brandon Stokley will be unavailable. What is hurting the Patriots and QB Matt Cassel is the absence of running backs Laurence Maroney and LaMont Jordan. The Broncos secondary might be what Cassel needs after a rough game against the Chargers. Denver's opponents are completing 72.7 percent of their passes, with a good portion directed at CB Dré Bly.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 19, 2008

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