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Others can do it; why not Cowboys?


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While other teams are making tough decisions regarding high-profile players with high salaries, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones seems to shy away from such decisions.

In a recent conversation, former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson considered the question of what percentage of professional football players are capable of properly motivating themselves.

Johnson required less time to form his response than for him to transform the Cowboys from laughingstocks to a Super Bowl dynasty. "You have a handful of players on every team who can do it themselves,'' he said. "The rest need somebody who is always on their rear ends -- and that's why football teams have coaches.''

Whether it is Wade Phillips or Jerry Jones, it seems somebody is sending the wrong message at Valley Ranch. A year after the Roy Williams trade, the Cowboys are getting production out of Roy Williams that is not a whole lot more than they were getting from him the year before the Roy Williams trade.

And yet, when Miles Austin replaces an injured Williams and is productive in a statistical way that no other Cowboys receiver in the history of the franchise has ever been, he is rewarded with a starting position -- but not the one earned on the basis of his performance. It appears the Cowboys will have Austin replace not Williams, but instead, Patrick Crayton, which is unfair to both. Crayton has been slightly more productive than Williams, and now Austin is forced to play out of position as a Z receiver, which some NFL coaches say will be difficult for him.

We wonder why the Cowboys so often seem to project a sense of entitlement?

Williams was hurt exposing himself to injury while trying to catch a poorly thrown Tony Romo pass, and playing for one another is not something the Cowboys seem to do frequently enough. But the reality is that Williams has not performed to expectations, and part of that might be because he has a reputation for being lazy. It seems this is the perfect opportunity for the Cowboys to send a message to him and to everyone else.

More on the Cowboys

Calvin Watkins and Tim MacMahon have the Cowboys blanketed for ESPNDallas.com. Check in with their constantly updated coverage. Blog.

Now whether Phillips couldn't bring himself to disappoint Williams, or Jones wouldn't allow the benching of a $45 million wide receiver for whom the Cowboys surrendered first-, third- and sixth-round draft picks, remains unknown. But the message to the locker room is that starting jobs are determined not on the basis of performance so much as pedigree.

Let's compare how the Cowboys handled this situation to how others around the league confront similarly hard decisions.

In New England, three-time Super Bowl-winning coach Bill Belichick benches Joey Galloway and finally cuts the $1.8 million receiver with a guaranteed contract. At the same time, Belichick deactivates linebacker Adalius Thomas even though he's healthy and has a $35 million contract that makes him the most expensive free agent in team history. The Pats replaced him with Junior Seau, whom they had just signed.

None of this could have been simple or easy for Belichick. Despite being the most successful coach in the league at the moment, Belichick should be sensitive to criticism of any personnel decisions since the departure of personnel czar Scott Pioli has made him more responsible for any failed gambles.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick has no problem making tough decisions regarding high-profile players, having cut Joey Galloway ($1.8 million guaranteed) and making Adalius Thomas ($35 million contract) inactive in Week 6.

At least when Belichick makes a mistake, he admits it rather than compounding it by pretending it doesn't exist. "Everything's the same for every player," Belichick said. "They've all got the same job: Come in, learn the game plan, be ready to go. Substitutions and playing time are all coaches' decisions; they're not players' decisions. A player's job is to be ready to play, and if he's put into the game, then go out there and play his best. All 53 guys, it's the same for all of them."

It is not, clearly, the same for all 53 players on the Cowboys roster.

In Miami, Bill Parcells instills fear in those at the edge of the Dolphins' roster with weekly tryouts conducted in full view of the current players, most of them glancing across the field to determine whether any of the hopefuls plays their position.

In Denver, Josh McDaniels -- a few weeks into his first NFL head-coaching position -- finds himself at odds with supposed franchise quarterback Jay Cutler. In reviewing tape, McDaniels determines Cutler to be extremely talented but not unique to winning and certainly not bigger than his team-first philosophy. Cutler is traded. That does not end the locker room challenges for McDaniels, who spent eight seasons working for Belichick in New England.

Brandon Marshall -- the only other 25-year-old Pro Bowl player on the Denver roster -- decides to protest his contract by making a mockery of the game, and the rookie coach promptly suspends the receiver. That disciplinary action not only unified the Broncos, but it provoked a change in Marshall's behavior. At least for the moment, Marshall is a productive member of an undefeated Broncos team whose record seems to exceed the level of talent on the roster. Nearly everybody is overachieving.

That is called coaching. [but when its done in Atlanta, it's only a matter of time before they falter...? (Still get no credit)]

In soliciting opinions about the Cowboys from other coaches and executives around the league, I've never heard anybody suggest the team lacks talent. The questions are about locker room leadership, front-office decision-making and the future of the head coach.

The Cowboys made a hard decision on one $9 million receiver when they released Terrell Owens. They are not making the hard decision on another $9 million receiver, and that is a very sensitive situation at Valley Ranch.

It reinforces the wrong message, but it also reveals something about how the Cowboys approach building their team and motivating their players.

Edited by vel
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WTF Dallas has there own ESPN webpage? Dear god why is Dallas such a freaking big story? THEY HAVE NO PLAYOFF WINS IN 10 YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!

"Calvin Watkins and Tim MacMahon have the Cowboys blanketed for ESPNDallas.com"

Chicago and New England does too:




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WTF Dallas has there own ESPN webpage? Dear god why is Dallas such a freaking big story? THEY HAVE NO PLAYOFF WINS IN 10 YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!

"Calvin Watkins and Tim MacMahon have the Cowboys blanketed for ESPNDallas.com"

I lived in Dallas for five years before going to TTU, then for two years after graduating (I'm 27, grew up in Atlanta, live in Austin, TX now).

Allow me to tell you that ESPNDallas has its own page for a lot of reasons, not the least of which are the Dallas Cowboys, although that's certainly a contributor. Dallas is one of the most chic cities in the country. It's one of the fastest growing cities in the country with 4 major sports teams, all of which are competitive. The Mavericks have had 50+wins in 8 straight seasons, have a brand new stadium in uptown (really nice part of Dallas), as well as the Cowboys new stadium. Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban are two of the most captivating owners in all of sports (although Cuban is actually one of the best owners in sports).

Dallas is like a Beverly Hills. There's a lot of money there, the women are unbelievable, image is extremely important, everyone has plastic surgery, the shopping and dining is some of the finest in the country, so on and so forth. Dallas is a chic, high class city. Pretty much the opposite of Houston. ******* awesome place to live....if you're a martini at the Ritz kind of guy. If you're a beer/dive bar kinda guy, Dallas = not for you. The new Cowboys stadium pretty much typifies Dallas.

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WTF Dallas has there own ESPN webpage? Dear god why is Dallas such a freaking big story? THEY HAVE NO PLAYOFF WINS IN 10 YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!

"Calvin Watkins and Tim MacMahon have the Cowboys blanketed for ESPNDallas.com"

It's part of a grand strategy by ESPN. Those cities have their own websitea because there are ESPN branded radio stations in those cities.Although 1230 is carrying ESPN programming I don't think it is the same kind of structure with Dickey as what ESPN has in those other cities.

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