“It would have been a lot better if they had broke the news after the Giants game,” Scandrick said, half-kidding.
Victor Cruz caught on him. But the news of his team-friendly extension didn’t trickle out until last week, when he was coming off a rough outing in a lopsided loss to the Chicago Bears.
Fans grumbled about giving Scandrick an extension that guaranteed him an additional $9 million, but this deal benefits the Cowboys from a business perspective. The deal allows the Cowboys to trim $2.6 million off the cap next season, and Scandrick took a pay cut starting in 2015.
Scandrick had been due to make $5 million per season in 2015 and 2016. He’s now due to make a total of $10.5 million from 2015 to 2018.
So why does the deal make sense for Scandrick? He didn’t want to have to worry about being a cap casualty.
“I wanted to be here,” Scandrick said. “My kids come here. It’s not all about me. You can’t chase the dollar forever, man. It’s not all about the money. I don’t play this game for money.”
Scandrick’s concern was that the Cowboys, given their constant cap challenges, could decide to trade him for a draft pick at some point. As the father of 3-year-old twin daughters who live with their mother in California but frequently visit him, he especially didn’t want to end up being dealt “down to Jacksonville, off to Buffalo, even further away from my kids.”
“It’s already bad enough that they’re commuting back and forth from California,” Scandrick said. “I mean, the money wasn’t a determining factor, because it wouldn’t have made any difference if I was making a few more million dollars if I was playing in another city. With the way that the new CBA is, I just didn’t want to take the chance.
“I wanted to be here. I’m familiar with the way things are here. It’s going to be seven years here next year. At some point in time, you’ve got to stop chasing money.”
Scandrick, who will make an additional $1 million next season as a result of the extension, noted that he’s already made more than enough money to be comfortable for life.
“I mean, I’ve made a ton of money, over $20 million,” Scandrick said. “What the hell? What can’t I buy with 20 than I can buy with 24 or 25?”
At this point of his career, Scandrick was willing to take less money in exchange for stability.
That meant avoiding the media after the give-away loss to the Green Bay Packers, when he was “heated,” the term a couple of teammates used to describe Murray’s postgame disposition. And Murray was as politically correct as possible while talking to reporters Wednesday.
However, Murray was clear that he believes the running game has earned the right to close out games when the Cowboys have a late lead.
“I think that’s kind of what you want to do,” Murray said. “As an offensive line and the way we’ve been running, we feel like we can close the game out. But, once again, that’s up to [offensive coordinator Bill] Callahan, who calls the plays. He gives us great opportunities."
Just not very many late in games.
Murray has career highs of 178 carries for 977 yards and eight touchdowns with two games remaining, but he’s been handed the ball only 31 times in the fourth quarter this season despite averaging 6.0 yards per carry in the final frame. By comparison, Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles and Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy have more than twice that many carries in fourth quarters.
Head coach Jason Garrett has acknowledged that the Cowboys should have run the ball much more after building a 23-point halftime lead over the Packers. Murray, who rushed for 134 yards on 18 carries in the game, had only seven carries in the second half.
However, Murray said he hasn’t had any conversations with coaches about his light workload late in the game.
“They don’t need to come to me,” said Murray. “I think there are some things we wish we could have done differently.”
Murray was especially upset after Tony Romo's interception to Miles Austin, which set up Green Bay’s go-ahead touchdown. That pick came on a packaged play that is designed to be a run with a one-route passing option for Romo if the defense loads up against the run, but Garrett said the coaches’ intent was to run the ball regardless of the defensive look.
After the play, Murray ripped off his helmet, screamed and slammed it to the ground in disgust.
“I mean, I think in that situation the offensive line and myself would definitely have liked the opportunity to close the game out for us and give us that opportunity,” Murray said. “I wasn’t mad at anybody. I was just mad at the situation. We let them come back and gave them an opportunity to win the game, and they took advantage of that. But I wasn’t mad at anyone or anything like that.”
There wasn’t a case to be made for the Cowboys to run the ball more often last season, when Dallas ranked second to last in the league in rushing. But the Cowboys have led the league in yards per carry over the last six weeks, when Murray has rushed for 549 yards on 87 carries, and rank last in rushing attempts over that span.
“We’ve got an opportunity to win the NFC East,” Murray said. “You can’t be mad about that. It’s a great opportunity for us. These are times you look forward to, big challenges like this.”
Now the Cowboys' linebacker corps is as thin as a piece of paper as they prepare for Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins.
“You always have guys who are at certain points with their health over the course of the week and you've got to make your judgments,” coach Jason Garrett said. “The big thing we try to do is make sure we have all of the contingency plans in place. If this guy is not available, who is playing? What happens if he gets hurt, who goes in and all that stuff. We have a lot of discussions about that as coaches at all positions with all injuries. You deal with them the best you can and you go forward.”
Sean Lee is expected to miss his second straight game with a neck injury. Ernie Sims did not practice because of a groin injury and his availability for the Redskins' game is in doubt. Justin Durant's season ended on Tuesday because of a hamstring injury.
Bruce Carter said he will return after not playing last week against the Green Bay Packers. DeVonte Holloman could start his first game at middle linebacker. Kyle Wilber, who was a defensive end last month, will start at strongside linebacker. They have Cameron Lawrence and Orie Lemon as backups. Defensive end Edgar Jones has some linebacker experience from his 3-4 days.
“Right, we understood we don't have really any depth right now at linebacker so if we can get guys back healthy like me, try to get Ernie there, he's been banged up,” Carter said. “We just need to get anybody really.”
Before the loss to the Packers Holloman had never played middle linebacker in a game.
“Just knowing what to look for before it happens,” Holloman said. “Guys that have been in the fire before, they can see things coming a lot faster than guys just thrown out there or their first time out there. So just seeing a couple of things before they come at you.”
When the Cowboys lost Durant and Sims last week, they had to rely on hand signals from the coaches to the players since only two communication devices are allowed in players' helmets. Carter will be the signal-caller Sunday with Holloman serving as the backup.
It does not help that the Redskin feature the NFL's third-ranked rush offense, led by Alfred Morris.
“We know we've got a little extra tutorship going on and things like that,” defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. “We've just got to do the best we can. We're going to show up and we're going to play hard and whoever is out there is going to do a heck of a job. When we walked into that meeting this morning, ‘Man, we're upbeat. Let's go. Let's go, man.' We've got a couple of games to go and hopefully another one after that. But you only play one at a time. You've got to play 60 plays, 65 plays, whatever it is, so don't worry about the second game. Don't worry about Philadelphia. Let's play 60, 65 plays at the very best of our ability and then play hard. That's what we've got to do.”
IRVING, Texas -- The players on the Dallas Cowboys' defense have seen enough.
As the Cowboys head into Sunday's game against the hapless Washington Redskins, their defense ranks last against the pass, 28th against the run and last overall.
"Fed up," cornerback Brandon Carr said after Wednesday's practice. "Personally, I know what we can do. There has been games when we have showed who the Cowboys as a defense was. I don't know, honestly we have talked about it so much this year. I'm not a big fan of talking about and always got an excuse and got a reason why.
"In this league, it's wins and losses. You either get it done or you don't. Too many times on our side of the ball we haven't got the job done to help our offense out."
After 14 games, the Cowboys have given up a franchise-record 5,982 yards and are just 1,060 yards from the NFL record of yards allowed in a single-season, set by the 2012 New Orleans Saints.
Yet, the Cowboys have faith they can fix things.
"You have to do it," defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. "That's why I call it the 24-hour, 48-hour rule. Sometimes it's 24 hours and sometimes it's 48. But the 48 hours are up now. So let's go."
The Cowboys are coming off consecutive losses where the defense gave up scores on their first eight defensive possessions to the Chicago Bears and on five consecutive possessions to the Green Bay Packers last weekend.
The Cowboys blew a 26-3 halftime lead to the Packers.
The Cowboys need Carter more than ever before. With Sean Lee expected to miss his second straight game with a neck injury, Ernie Sims battling a groin injury and Justin Durant on injured reserve, Carter will be the most experienced linebacker.
“My job is to try to lead the defense to a victory and just play as good as we can, when things get out of hand try to get everybody to calm down and just try to get back to our game plan and play sound,” Carter said. “I’m up for the challenge. I know what’s ahead of me and we just got to go out there and execute.”
Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (stinger) and defensive end Jarius Wynn (chest) were also limited in practice.
Defensive ends DeMarcus Ware and George Selvie did not practice because of sore backs. Sims and Lee did not practice, and neither did cornerback Morris Claiborne and wide receivers Terrance Williams and Dwayne Harris, who have hamstring injuries.
Spurlock has now been with seven NFL teams and participated in nine games with the Detroit Lions this season. He's averaged 24.5 yards per kick return and nine yards per punt return in his career.
Williams had replaced Harris on kick returns but when he suffered a hamstring injury against Green Bay, it forced the Cowboys to make a roster move, made official on Wednesday.
"He also helps us with our depth at receiver," coach Jason Garrett said of Spurlock. "So those are all the factors involved, the people involved, and we’ll just evaluate as the week goes on."
If Harris and Williams are unavailable, Cole Beasley will continue his duties as the punt returner and Spurlock will move into the kick returner role.
On the season, Harris is averaging 30.5 yards per kick return, second in the NFL. Harris is also averaging 14 yards per punt return.
The Cowboys have missed Harris' special teams abilities to calmly field punts and kicks and make plays. Williams had his moments on returns, but he fumbled the opening kickoff against Oakland and made a questionable return against the Packers in the third quarter where he returned a kick 24-yards after fielding the kick nine-yards deep in the end zone.
"Dwayne has done a heck of a job for us as a return guy," Garrett said. "Dwayne is a very good special teams player. He’s a very good cover guy and he’s made a number of plays as a return guy, both punts and kickoffs and that certainly helps our team."
Ware was a late arrival to the practice field and did not have his helmet. Selvie tweaked his back and Williams strained his hamstring late in Dallas' loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Claiborne has ruled himself out for this week against the Washington Redskins and Lee is all but out.
The return of Carter would help a depleted linebacker group, even though Carter has not played up to standards this season. Rookie DeVonte Holloman could start his first game at middle linebacker if Lee and Sims cannot play.
Newcomers Michael Spurlock, a receiver, and defensive tackle Frank Kearse were at practice.
This will be the final padded practice of the regular season.
Asked if he worried about the Cowboys fans becoming apathetic, Jones quickly said no.
There was an announced crowd of 91,054 Sunday at AT&T Stadium. Let's just guess that 15,000 fans were there to root on the Green Bay Packers. Maybe more, maybe less. Let's say another 15,000 were just there to be at the stadium or had no rooting interest.
This is all subjective guess work, but let's say there were 60,000 Cowboys fans in attendance.
How many of those fans left the game and on the walk to their car said, "Wow, what a great show?"
Another guess, but I'm going with zero. They were crushed. They were hurt. They were disillusioned. Again. Would you care if your team won 2-0? Sure it would be boring, but your team would make the playoffs and maybe compete for a championship with a defense like that.
I'm being facetious, of course, but the name of the game is winning. General managers are measured by wins. Well, almost every general manager in the NFL not named Jones. Owners are measured by dollar signs. And that's where Jones leads the NFL.
Jones' comment the other day is a sign that he cannot or will not differentiate between his two jobs. As the owner, he's raking in the cash form those Cowboy-ritas and cotton candy and all those T-shirts. Those calling for boycotts of all things Jones and all things Cowboys, there is not enough of you. And while that money Jones makes from you is still green, the pile is not as deep as the television revenue he collects every year from the NFL's broadcast partners.
And we know the broadcast partners love the Cowboys. They would love them if they won, sure. But they really love them when they produce moments like last week. That drives the train. And is there a doubt the finale against the Philadelphia Eagles would be moved to NBC's "Sunday Night Football?" Maybe they would pick Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers. Maybe.
But they wouldn't get the show that Jones craves the most.
It has to be disheartening to be a Cowboys fan. How do you trust Jones? How can you trust the coaches and players? This is supposed to be a joyous time of year, but their team just crushes them when it matters most.
But to Jones, it's a good show.
The Cowboys have a lot of needs on defense, so where should they turn in the draft?
Todd McShay released his first 2014 mock draft Wednesday, and in doing so identified the biggest areas of need for the Cowboys. Not surprisingly, Dallas’ top four needs are on defense: defensive end, defensive tackle, cornerback and safety (along with right tackle and guard). Here’s who McShay believes will provide the best fit for the Cowboys in Round 1.
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