FRISCO, Texas – Just get it right.
The theme for today’s _shots_, which might sound easier than it really is when it comes to this game of professional football, and that includes on the field and off the field in the NFL.
Plays. Calls. Penalties. Decisions. Hires. Fires. Salary cap.
All of it.
Can remember Bill Parcells’ philosophy on making tough decisions, knowing in this game you’re not always going to bat 1.000, so he would always tell us, “Do the best you can to make that decision, and if it works, you’re right, and if it doesn’t, you’re wrong.”
Even Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expounded on making right decisions when it comes to contracts, pointing out in this game of football that there are so many moving parts and so much ambiguity on such decisions as contracts that, “The point is this is not buying pension-fund bonds, which has to have absolute assuredness that you’re getting what you’re buying.”
Sort of like back in 2005 when the Cowboys made the decision with two first-round picks to use the 11th choice on DeMarcus Ware and the 20th selection on Marcus Spears instead of the other way around. Nailed it. But then can take you back to 2009 when the Cowboys already had traded their first-round pick away in the package deal for wide receiver Roy Williams and then decided to trade out of the second round for more picks and used their first choice that year on linebacker Jason Williams in the third round and their second third-rounder on offensive lineman Robert Brewster.
So here are the Cowboys and the NFL for the past couple of weeks in this never-ending quest to get it _right_, a hail of shots falling our way to match those ice balls falling around here on Sunday.
- Right Call: Give the NFL, head coaches and owners credit for not burying their heads in the sand in lieu of the atrocious missed call in the NFC title game. At least they are trying to do something with the one-year experiment making offensive and defensive pass interference a replay challengeable call, including a no-call. Look, these types of plays have such a huge impact on the game. Not like offensive holding, 10 yards. Not even like roughing the quarterback, 15 yards. These interference calls are massive. Can be 20, 30, 40 yards or more. Can dictate win or lose. At least the league didn’t wait three years before redefining catch-no catch. Ask the Cowboys.
- Unintended Consequences: This is a good try, but as Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has taught us about some rule changes, there always are unintended consequences to a great idea. This rule change will put a huge burden on the person in the coaching box informing the on-field head coach to challenge or not to challenge, just because interference is the toughest judgment call for the on-field officials. And even more of a burden on that person since the challenges still are limited to just two, or three if you get the first two right. The head coach will have to find someone on staff who can remain unemotional and objective with teams rushing to the line of scrimmage to get the snap off before sufficient replays are available.
- Right View: Still think the NFL should adopt an eighth official in the box who immediately can correct an atrocious on-field decision without a coach having to throw a challenge. If you’ve ever watched a game from field level, on the sideline, you have the worst view in the stadium, and that includes the seven officials. But on high, you have a better view looking down. After all, that’s where most of the TV replays come from: Not the field cameras, but the elevated cameras, where you at home get a more complete view of the play. Someday the NFL is going to adopt my idea. Like, how easy would it have been for the eye-in-the-sky to immediately buzz down to let the referee know his guys blew the call of the Rams defensive back interfering with the Saints receiver in that title game?
- Right Patience: So many out there seem to be blaming the Cowboys front office for not already having finalized a long-term deal with DeMarcus Lawrence. But ask yourself a couple of questions first. What is Lawrence and his agent asking for? At this point, reasonable or unreasonable? So, at the owners meetings, Cowboys CEO Stephen Jones characterized the ongoing negotiations as at “an impasse.” But Jones, knowing he has long-term deals coming up for Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Byron Jones and La’el Collins, among others, pointed out, “We have some conviction of the range he should be in terms of his compensation, and I’m sure they have some conviction of what they’re asking for.” And that, my friends, as Jones said, “is the root of negotiations.” Plus, none of the other top franchised pass rushers has signed, including Jadeveon Clowney, Frank Clark and Grady Jarrett. Agents are scared to set market value for fear the next guy to sign tops his deal.
- Right Idea: The Cowboys consider recently-signed safety George Iloka more of a strong safety than a free safety. Well, that’s good because Iloka, who signed a one-year deal with Minnesota last year, played more special teams than safety, and that even after starter Andrew Sendejo was lost for the season after five games. Iloka only started three of the final 11 games. Plus, he only played safety for 116 snaps, with 93 snaps starting Games 6 and 7, and then just 10 more in Game 15. And he only had 16 tackles last year. Good that the Cowboys look at him first as depth, second as a special teams player and then to maybe challenge Jeff Heath for the starting strong safety job, or as Jerry Jones said, secondary coach Kris Richard just might be the one to help the veteran safety improve. Remember, his one-year deal is for just the veteran minimum of $930,000, plus a $90,000 signing bonus, counting the veteran exception of $790,000 against the cap.
- Right Guy: Glad to hear Jerry Jones speak up for starting free safety Xavier Woods, the second-year player growing before our very eyes the more he played in his first season as a starter. When Jones was quizzed about not going after Earl Thomas or another of those free-agent safeties, he said, “We have a little stronger feeling about Xavier Woods (than most), and free agency isn’t the only bite at the apple,” meaning the draft is yet to come.
- Right Move: Good that Cowboys Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin finally went to doctors for throat problems he is having, saying he basically lost his voice after celebrating the Cowboys’ 13-10 win over the New Orleans Saints in Game 12. He’s fearing he might be suffering from the same throat cancer his pops died from at age 51. Michael is 53, and says he just underwent a biopsy. Prayers to Mike.
- All Right?: Drew Rosenhaus, the agent for defensive tackle Malik McDowell, a second-round pick of Seattle in 2017 who is yet to play after suffering serious head injuries from an ATV accident before training camp in 2017, says doctors have cleared his client to resume playing football. Said Rosenhaus from the NFL meetings, “Ultimately, (Seattle’s) doctors were not comfortable clearing him. He has since been cleared by independent doctors.” Said Stephen Jones when asked about McDowell, recently brought in by the Cowboys for a visit and physical, “We’re continuing to do our diligence on his medical to make sure he is someone who should be playing our game.”
- Rapid Shots: How fitting, Packers-Bears to open the NFL’s 100th anniversary season on Thursday night, meeting for the 199th time … While the Cowboys are keeping an eye on Miami defensive end Robert Quinn, who the Dolphins are trying to trade, there are reported rumors out there that Tampa Bay might be exploring the same with veteran defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the seven-time Pro Bowler counting $13 million in base salary against the Buccaneers’ cap that appears to have less than $4 million available … Former Cowboys defensive coaches Todd Bowles and Kacey Rodgers are now on the Bucs staff, Bowles fired as the Jets head coach now the defensive coordinator and Rodgers the defensive line coach … Seems only right to give Stephen Jones the last shot today, talking about the on-gong negotiations with Lawrence, saying, the two sides need to “come up with some creative way to create some common ground.”
Seems like another one of these right things to do.