Jerry & Stephen Can’t Afford to Draft “Best Available” This Time

Dumb & Dumber

Dumb & Dumber

Jerry & Stephen

Jerry & Stephen

Jerry and Stephen Jones, or “Dumb and Dumber” if you prefer, can’t afford to go into the 2014 NFL draft looking to draft the “best available” player in each round while pretending to address glaring needs in free agency. They have played that card before but the salary cap rule bending and restructured contracts are all catching up to them now.

But I warn Cowboy fans, they are approaching it this year just as they have in the past, by addressing needs prior to the draft so that Jerry and Stephen can impulsively indulge in their fantasy football league approach to drafting. By “addressing needs”, I mean they are signing players that would be considered NFL journey men or “camp bodies” to fill the roster at positions of need prior to the draft. See, it’s not actually addressing needs at all and we have seen them do it before.

Recently Stephen said, “To me, that’s what free agency is about. You certainly can’t build a football team around free agency, and I think you’re going in the wrong direction if you look at it that way,” he said. “What it hopefully does is fill glaring needs so that you can take the best player available. I think when you start reaching for a particular position you start to make mistakes.”

So far to fill glaring needs left by the departures of Ware and Hatcher, they signed defensive linemen Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain who have a combined 2 sacks in the past two NFL seasons. Both of those were Mincey’s.

Their big splash free agency signing was Henry Melton who is coming off a short 2013 season with the Bears after tearing his ACL. Melton (a pro bowler in 2012) appears to be a good pick up and figures to be an excellent fit in Rod Marinelli’s defense however, the fact is no one knows how he will play after that serious injury.

Jerry and Stephen may view it as all buttoned up at defensive tackle heading into the draft but I think it’s actually a little more fragile than they would have us believe. What if Melton isn’t really all healed up from his serious ACL injury? Jerry and Stephen may have covered themselves with a contract they can get out of easily but who will help that terrible defense then? Don’t fall for it again.

Last Year They were Counting on Rat
Last season Jerry told us DT Jay Ratliff would be ready to go and Jerry went on to not draft a single defensive lineman. We soon found out that Rat was not ready to go at all at least not for Dallas, as Rat (now known as Jeremiah) eventually went to the Bears and actually played against the Cowboys.

And there were plenty of red flags to suspect they shouldn’t put all of their eggs on Jeremiah Ratliff since he was over 30, coming off an injury, had an off field DUI issue, and basically stood toe to toe with Jerry in the locker room. Why couldn’t Jerry and Stephen see how it may go wrong?

Instead of drafting a defensive lineman, Jerry and Stephen made a “best available” pick of a TE in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft (Gavin Escobar) and went on to use him very little (only 9 catches, 134 yards in 2013) while being forced out of desperation, to sign defensive linemen off the couch during the season.

It’s not to say Escobar is not a talented TE but to say the two Jones failed to address major needs during the draft because they felt they had it all covered on the defensive line when they actually didn’t. And they are headed that same direction again based on those comments Stephen made.

Reality is, Jerry and Stephen didn’t have enough salary cap room in 2014, to fully address all their needs through free agency. So they must do it through the draft, to avoid scrambling to sign guys during the season who thought their NFL careers were over.

Last year it was 36 year old guard Brian Waters who Jerry was forced to sign after failing to address their need for depth at guard, during the draft. Waters, once an outstanding guard, would only last for about 5 games as he is simply at the end of his career. As a team GM, sorry but that’s not proactively addressing needs, that’s just reacting by plugging bodies into a spot.

2014 DRAFT
Jerry and Stephen like to convince themselves, and unfortunately the fan base too, that all needs have been addressed so they are free to draft players that don’t really fill a particular need. But entering the 2014 draft in an era of salary cap restrictions, they simply don’t have that luxury any longer. While signing Melton was a start, there is still a need to pick up defensive tackles in the draft who can get into their rotation immediately.

They also need to draft a 4-3 DE to replace Ware but don’t be surprised if Jerry and Stephen tell us they already have Ware’s replacement on the roster. “Got it covered” we have heard them indicate before. Or even worse, announce they are going to resign 30 year old DE Anthony Spencer on the cheap, after his major knee surgery.

And don’t be shocked if they come out of the draft with yet another offensive toy for Jason Garrett that rarely gets used. When Jerry and Stephen get in the draft, they like to go with their instincts instead of addressing needs and that should be a concern for all Cowboy fans.

In the NFL draft, Jerry is like Floyd in “Dumb and Dumber’, “We don’t usually pick up hitchhikers. But I’m-a gonna go with my instincts on this one. Saddle up, partner!”

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Jay Ratliff Got Paid and Jerry Jones Got Played….like a piano

Ratliff is suddenly feeling much better now that Dallas cut him.

A week ago in my blog “Cowboys Smell a Rat” I said don’t be surprised if Ratliff is miraculously healed and ready to play now that he was cut by Dallas since it’s not Jerry Jones asking him to put his helmet on and go play.

Now the main stream sports channels are starting to figure out something isn’t right. (It takes them a while to catch up with dishing the real) NBC sports is reporting that Ratliff is now telling teams he has been cleared medically to play this season. STORY

Ratliff appears ready to play now, after missing 10 games last season and then occupying a spot for six weeks on the Cowboys PUP list with pay. Rat signed an extension in 2011, for 45 million and 18 million gurranteed. Clearly Jerry got played and filleted bro.

His stats for 2012-2013? 0 sacks, 1 DWI.

Prior to the season, I expressed my view that Ratliff had no intentions of playing with the Cowboys this year and Jerry would have been wise to cut him before June for salary relief. Jerry just holds on too long to these guys. He had a similar situation with CB Mike Jenkins last season who is now a Raider.

Jerry has been a successful business man so I don’t think he is dumb. I just think his pride/ego wants to win these battles with problem players but in the end, they get the best of him. Some players just know how to work the system. Jerry would be wise to let go and move on.

No word yet on specifically which teams are showing interest in Ratliff but I speculate Rob Ryan with the Saints could be one of them.

Ryan can’t resist bringing in old, over the hill, ex-players he coached.

Cowboys Smell a Rat: Finally Cut Ratliff

JayRatliff-300x200

UPDATE Ratliff is healed
Today it was announced that the Cowboys are parting ways with veteran defensive lineman Jay Ratliff. It comes when his time on the PUP list ends and Jerry realized this Ratliff dude has played all he is going to play for Dallas.

I’ve been pretty direct in my view that Ratliff wasn’t really going to play with Dallas again anytime soon. In this blog, I chronicled Ratliff’s timeline of trouble the past year and point out how a lot of things were just not adding up including his injury status and rehab.

Today Ratliff’s agent Mark Slough reveals that Ratliff actually didn’t have a sports hernia injury which is what we were led to believe. STORY

So was Ratliff and his agent deceptive? Is Jerry Jones clueless? OK that’s a given but who had the most reason to lie?

Slough leaves the door open for Ratliff to play again for another team in 2014. So while Slough currently spins that Ratliff’s injury was much more serious than Jerry would have us believe, look for him to now make it appear that Ratliff is miraculously recovered and good to go.
Told ya. UPDATE 10/24

And some easy sale sucker like Saints DC Rob Ryan, to show interest in Ratliff.

My suspicions were proven valid that Jerry Jones, team medical people, and Jay Ratliff were not all on the same page about his injury and time for return. That’s why Ratliff went off on Jerry when he suggested Ratliff needed to suck it up and take one for the team with a speedy recovery.

When asked why he and Ratliff didn’t clarify the injury earlier, Slough replied, “we just chose to let it be.”

Follow the Money:
It is pretty clear to me that Ratliff and Slough were doing what was best for them financially in this case. They took Jerry’s money,”thank you very much sir” and then milked that sports hernia injury (or whatever it was) for everything it was worth. Getting cut back before June, would have resulted in loss money for Ratliff so there is your motive to “just let it be” and not reveal a more serious injury.

“There are lies, damned lies, and statistics” – Mark Twain (and agents)
Ratliff’s play just hasn’t been very productive in recent years and his off field issues such as the DWI charge, are a strong indication that his commitment to his team and profession were lacking. His need and desire to get paid, however, weren’t lacking.

So he played Jerry and the Cowboys as far as I’m concerned, and when his PUP vacation ran out, it was time to finally come clean and move on to the next sucker uh gig.

Dwayne Harris a Beast Against NFC East. And Latest on the Rat.

Dwayne Harris NFC East Slayer

Dwayne Harris NFC East Slayer


Dwayne Harris has a knack for showing up in a big way in the NFC East games. Sunday night he almost single handedly defeated the Redskins as he pretty much provided the margin of victory with 222 return yards that included a punt return TD and a kickoff return that led to a Romo TD pass to Williams. Harris also covered punts well in the game and may be recognized again by the NFL for his outstanding performance.

After the win against the Giants opening day, he was recognized as Special Teams Player of the Week. I blogged then that Dallas coaches need to show Harris some respect HERE.

And last year it was his punt return TD that separated Dallas from the Eagles. Dallas could use some more returns like that when they go to Philadelphia next week with first place in the NFC East on the line. Without the heroics of Harris against the Redskins, that score would have been pretty tight at the end. The Cowboys won the game 31-16.

What’s up with Ratliff? The saga continues…
During the Sunday Night game, NBC reported that Jerry Jones sounded like Dallas was moving on from Ratliff. Monday morning Jones denies saying they decided to move on from Ratliff. STORY

Ratliff was put on the PUP list in August which means he is eligible to play after 6 weeks which would be about right now. But don’t count on it.

MY Take: While Jerry is reluctant to admit Dallas is moving on, I blogged back in August that it was nonsense to expect Ratliff to be ready to contribute in 6 weeks. BLOG “Ratliff story keeps groin”

Jerry doesn’t deny that they are moving on just that he didn’t say it. Before the Redskin game on Wednesday last week Jerry just commented,

“I don’t know, and I don’t know that he knows,” Jones said Tuesday on KRLD-FM. “I don’t know that anybody knows. He is beginning to work through on what we all hope is a secure injury area that has hopefully healed. I don’t know that. I can’t speak to that, and I don’t know that anybody does.

“We will painstakingly go slow here in trying to work him back in.”

Easy to see how one could get the impression Ratliff isn’t playing any time soon. I can’t explain why Jerry appears to hold on to hope that Ratliff is going to run on the field this year and help their depleted defensive line but I am telling you to not count on it.

The young defensive linemen playing Sunday night were refreshing to watch play. No, they weren’t perfect but they moved well and gave a very good effort each play. Eventually Jerry must realize that they have got to get younger on that defensive line and will have to move on from Ratliff, Spencer and yes, even Ware, who went out of the game and watched on the sideline.

Ware has been a great player for Dallas in the past, but his best days are behind him, and playing defensive end in the 4-3 is much more demanding on his body. He recently admitted as much.

In the past Jerry has held on to these guys too long but with the salary cap issues, he can’t afford to do that in the future.

This Jay Ratliff Story Keeps Groin

JayRatliff-300x200Recently Dallas Cowboys DT Jay Ratliff was moved to the PUP list which means he will miss the first 6 weeks of the season at the very least. Word is he has a groin injury however at the start of camp we were told he pulled a hamstring during his conditioning test.

The Cowboys seem to have high hopes for Ratliff in their new 4-3 defense but I just don’t get the impression that Ratliff is into it. Isn’t it time for Jerry Jones to get a clue and move on from his Ratliff obsession? The owner has a tendency to hold on to troubled players much too long and in my view this would be the latest example.

I wrote a blog back in January that it was probably time to move on from Ratliff and suggested drafting a DT. From that blog,

“Even before this recent DWI accident, Ratliff was becoming more trouble than he is worth. The scales were tipping toward the cold fact that Ratliff isn’t worth his pay any longer. But this DWI could be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back for Ratliff.”

I believe in stepping back and looking at the big picture when making these kind of decisions so let’s have a look at Ratliff’s timeline.

November 18, 2012– After playing 6 games, Ratliff went out with a groin injury.
December 2, 2012– After defeating the Eagles in the locker room, Jerry Jones says to Ratliff “We need you”. Those three words are very provocative evidently, as it sends Ratliff into a rage where he stands toe to toe with the owner shouting. STORY
December 13, 2012– Ratliff has surgery to repair a sports hernia. When asked why he didn’t rehab at Valley Ranch, Ratliff said recently, he rather not say why. Hmmm. Interesting.
January 22, 2013– Early Tuesday morning (after “chillin’ with a homegirl”) Ratliff is charged with a DWI when he struck an 18 wheeler in his pick up truck. MORE
July 2013– It’s reported that Ratliff injures a hamstring during conditioning test at the start of camp. Stephen Jones (Jerry’s mini me) says he isn’t concerned. HERE (Actually that’s his response to just about every question he is ask)
August 2013– Ratliff’s DWI trial is delayed so he will not face NFL suspensions during the 2013 season.
August 2013– Ratliff is placed on the PUP list and then makes a cryptic comment,
“Absolutely I’m disappointed,” Ratliff said, “but everyone knows what the issue was way beforehand.”

Head Coach Jason Garrett responds in a rather company line manner, “We know he’s working very hard to come back, and our training staff and all our medical people are working hard with him,” Garrett said. “He’s got to take it one day at a time and do what he needs to do, but again, football seasons are long.”

Reality Check:
Do you get the feeling we have a serious lack of communication going on in the Cowboys organization? Well I do. Stephen Jones isn’t concerned, Jerry Jones thinks Ratliff will be great in the 4-3, Jason says Ratliff is trying his best to rehab but what Ratliff is saying and doing flies into the face of all that talk.

MY Final TAKE:
Ratliff had very productive seasons back in 2008 and 2009 and would have been a good fit for the 4-3 defense back then. But he hasn’t been healthy and has not had a sack since 2011. Sadly, Ratliff’s body is banged up from years of playing the role of an undersized nose tackle in a 3-4 and it’s starting to affect his personal life too. Ratliff needs help and I hope he gets it. But I’m afraid this talk of him helping them in 2013 is delusional on the part of Jason and Jerry. Get Ratliff the help he needs and get the defensive line the help they need in the form of a new defensive tackle.

Dallas Cowboys Make First Round of Cuts

In an effort to get closer to 53 players, the Cowboys announced their player cuts this afternoon to reach the NFL required 75 players on the roster.

The name that was the biggest surprise to me on the list of cuts, was QB Nick Stephens. Stephens completed 11 0f 19 passes in preseason play with one interception in the Raiders game. He didn’t play in games after throwing that pick. In a blog about that game, I expressed concern that he may have hurt his chances.

I noticed that QB Alex Tanney played well against the Cardinals and was decent last week which clearly put him slightly ahead of Stephens. I’m not sure if Dallas plans to put Tanney on the 53 man roster or move him to the practice squad after the last preseason game. But I think he will most likely end up on the P.S. with Dallas keeping only 2 QBs on the roster, (Romo, Orton) like last season.

Where does that leave Stephens? I hope they can keep him on the practice squad as he showed a nice strong passing arm. He just needs some more development to compete for a roster spot. Another team could claim Stephens now.

WR CUTS:
Jared Green
Anthony Amos
Eric Rogers

Of these three, I thought Green had the best preseason and I like his chances best to be kept on the practice squad. Amos had 3 catches in the preseason and showed potential while Rogers appeared strong in camp but could never parlay that into preseason games.

OTHER CUTS: Kicker Brett Maher, TE Colin Cochart, Guard Dennis Godfrey, CB Brandon Underwood and LB Deon Lacey.

INJURED PLAYER MOVES:
DE Tyrone Crawford and center Ryan Cook were placed on injured reserve. With Crawford, this move was expected to protect Dallas from allowing another team pick him up.

DT Jay Ratliff placed on PUP list (physically unable to perform)
In this move, I think this may have been influenced by the good play of DT Nick Hayden in the preseason. Nick had been rolling with the first team and shows the kind of quickness that is desired by defensive linemen in their new 4-3 defense. This clears the way for Dallas to keep Hayden on the 53 man roster instead of risking another team grabbing him up. If healthy, Ratliff can join them after 6 games in the regular season.

Final cuts come Saturday evening to get to the NFL mandated 53 man roster.

Why So Many Preseason Injuries for the Cowboys?

“Dropping like flies” is a term that is often used to describe the Cowboys players during preseason last season and this season too. Of course injuries are a part of football as it is a contact sport. However many of the injuries are occurring for Dallas before they even begin contact so can anything be contributing to them?

While eliminating all of these injuries isn’t possible, I do believe a few things can be done to reduce them perhaps.

2012 Injuries:
Last season did it seem like Dallas was the most injured team in the NFL? Injuries devastated the defense as they lost LBs Bruce Carter and Sean Lee. Well it turns out they weren’t the most injured team but they were pretty close to it. Only Washington and Greenbay had starting players miss more games than the Cowboys during the season. Is that an excuse to miss the playoffs? No since the Redskins and Packers both made the playoffs which may say more about their depth. NFL INJURIES.

The least injured team in the NFL by far in 2012, was the SF 49ers who made it to the super bowl. What are they doing that the Cowboys aren’t doing to keep players healthy? I think the 49ers are a good place to look for answers.

AGE:
While the Cowboys certainly need to get younger as a team, often the non contact injuries have been to rookies and younger players too. For example, last season rookie Matt Johnson missed the season after pulling a hamstring in preseason camp. Age could play a part but it doesn’t appear to be everything.

Dynamic Stretching versus Static Stretching:
Do you recall in the Super Bowl there was a significant delay due to a power outage? At the time of the outage, the Ravens were leading the 49ers 28-6 and in control of the game. When play resumed, the 49ers rallied appearing more ready to play than the Ravens. While the 49ers ultimately fell short in the end, they clearly handled the delay better.

NFL.com analyst Akbar Gbajabiamila points out that during the delay, the Ravens were applying static stretching while the 49ers were applying dynamic stretching techniques.

One thing I saw that likely played a big part in the shift of momentum: Many of the Ravens players were doing static stretching, a type of stretching that elongates the muscles and is meant to cool your body down after exercise. This probably made it extremely difficult to be explosive. The 49ers, meanwhile, were doing dynamic stretches, which simulate athletic movements. These keep the muscles explosive and ready to play.”

Keep in mind, I have already submitted facts showing the 49ers players were injured less than any other team in 2012.

More and more evidence is supporting the belief that static stretching before activity, can actually decrease the power of muscles while increasing the probability of injury.

This page points to an article published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” which recommends static stretching after exercise activity and dynamic stretching before.

While looking at the video of the recent Cowboys Blue/White scrimmage, I noticed that before the scrimmage the Cowboys were engaged in some old school static stretching. Lying on the field stretching their hams for all they’re worth. I think it is time for Jason Garrett to bring in an expert at dynamic stretching and see if it can benefit his team. It can only help them.

Conditioning Test:
At the beginning of preseason camp, Jason likes to conduct a conditioning test for all players which evidently consist of timed sprints. This year DT Jay Ratliff and guard Mackenzy Bernadeau injured their hamstrings during the test. Both players have been missed a great deal and Bernadeau has just recently returned to practice.

The test is administered before the preseason camp begins and weeks after their OTA workouts so players tend to be cold. I can’t see any real benefit from giving the conditioning test but the risks are very apparent. There is evidence that Jason doesn’t hold as much value in these tests as before anyway. HERE

It’s time to eliminate this out dated procedure which only offers players an opportunity to pull something before practice even begins. Enough Jason.

Climate in Oxnard Ca.:
Summers in Oxnard tend to be much cooler than many areas of the country with temperatures lingering in the 60s aided by ocean breezes. Now don’t get me wrong, I think Oxnard would be an excellent place to live and visit with wonderful weather and low crime rates too. However it may not be the best place to hold a preseason camp in the NFL.

Players conduct OTAs in the Dallas area with hot summer temperatures but then go to Oxnard for camp where the temperatures can be 30 degrees cooler. That’s a huge difference and could possibly lead to cooler muscles which may result in pulls. A pulled hamstring can be a very nagging injury that takes a long time to heal. Once it occurs in preseason, it can be an issue the entire season. (See Miles Austin for proof.)

In the past, the Cowboys have also conducted camp in the Alamo Dome of San Antonio, Tx. Maybe it’s worth a try to see if things go better indoors with a controlled temperature that offers comfort without a dramatic difference. Just a thought.

Final Take: My suggestions are as follows,
1. Dynamic stretching before practice and static after.
2. Eliminate pre camp conditioning test.
3. Move camp to San Antonio.

Any other suggestions to help reduce injuries would be welcomed in the comments section. And by all means, let’s get these to Jason right away.