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Cowboys News And Notes: Franchising Dez, Rolando McClain Loses His Home In Fire

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

'Suspicious' fire destroys Alabama house owned by Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain | Dallas Morning News

The real world intruded on Rolando McClain, and this story is far from over. His Alabama home, on the market with an asking price of $1.5 million, went up in flames. Lt. Andy Norris of the Tuscaloosa Sheriff's department explained that it was being investigated.

"Anytime you have a vacant house go up, particularly one of that value, you have to consider it suspicious," he said. "Every house in that neighborhood is probably over $1 million."

A spokesman for the Cowboys declined comment on the fire, and McClain was not immediately available for comment. The player tweeted about the fire, however: "It can't be real! To (sic) much of my 'history' in that house for it to be gone..."

Rolando McClain trade will cost Dallas Cowboys no extra draft picks - Todd Archer, ESPN

Remember back when people laughed at Dallas trading for the rights to McClain? Nobody's laughing, and the incredible bargain he became may get even better, as this article from that time points out.

As it stands right now, the trade calls for the Cowboys to give up their seventh-rounder in 2016 if McClain is on the 53-man roster for five games or 46-man roster for three games only if their pick is better than the Ravens' pick in the round. If it is, then the teams will swap selections. If the Ravens finish with a worse record in 2014, then there is no swap.

Baltimore is 9-6, and their chance of making the playoffs is slim. If they don't, or if they do and still wind up picking before Dallas, then Dallas won't have to surrender any picks to Baltimore, though they will still swap picks this year: If McClain plays in 50 percent of the defensive snaps this year (which he has), then the Ravens will get the Cowboys' sixth-round pick in 2015, and the Cowboys will receive Baltimore’s seventh-round pick.

Jerry Jones Confident Cowboys Will Use Franchise Tag On Bryant If Necessary | Dallas Cowboys

Jerry Jones made it clear that there is no way Pro Bowl selectee Dez Bryant will leave the Cowboys in free agency.

"No, we have the franchise - for sure. Not at all," he said. "You're talking about Dez? No, we have the franchise alternative - which I thought everybody was aware of."

Cowboys’ Garrett should be NFL Coach of the Year | Mac Engel, The Star Telegram

Just noting that I am not the only one advocating for this.

With all due respect to Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter and NFL savant Charean "Mother Football" Williams, who believes the favorite to win this award is Bruce Arians of the Arizona Cardinals, Coach Process should take this trophy home.

Cowboys' Jason Garrett: Season's promise started with 49ers' loss - ESPN

Here is a reason why Garrett deserves COY recognition. When everyone, even Pro Bowl selectee Tony Romo, was doubting after the season opening loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Rooster saw what was coming.

"I'm the only guy around that I know who felt good after the San Francisco game," Garrett said. "When I watched that game in detail -- and I told our team this -- I said, 'That game told me what we were capable of doing. But it also told me what we had to do as a football team.' If you remember in that game, we turned the ball over three times against a really good football team, and they took advantage of it. They beat us. They beat us handily. But we also did some positive things. We did a good job on defense, slowing them down. We ran the ball fairly well against a good defensive team. To me, if you get in there and you say, 'Let's take these plays away. Let's not play that way to give good teams these kinds of opportunities. Let's go play this way. Let's defend the run. Let's run the ball. Let's take advantage of some opportunities in the passing game when we get some favorable looks to throw it. That's the kind of team we can be.' I expressed that to our staff after the game. I expressed that to our team."

It's called vision and leadership, folks.

Jerry Jones thinks Dallas Cowboys can compete for another Super Bowl title | Dallas Morning News

He doesn't base it on watching video or anything, but you can't discount his reasons.

"I've been here several times and got a chance to go to the Super Bowl three times," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. "And so, I know how it felt when we got the opportunity and that's what this is. So, yes, I know how it can happen. I do feel like we're going to be competitive."

Jones: Romo, Murray's MVP efforts are team efforts | FOX Sports

His observations here are inarguable. Once you sort out what exactly he's saying about Romo and his fellow Pro Bowl selectee DeMarco Murray.

"Without them, you could say we wouldn't be where we are today," Jones said on Dallas-Fort Worth 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM] Tuesday. "But is that taking anything away from the fact that we've had this great year with our offensive line? To some degree, it is."

Jones loves football because it is the epitome of a team sport.

Tony Romo deserves MVP for driving Dallas Cowboys' success - NFL.com

We all understand the team first approach. But we all would love to see Romo finally get acknowledged for how good he is. Gil Brandt builds a thorough case for why he deserves to be named MVP, including how much Romo has improved his game this season.

Romo has always been a highly skilled quarterback, exhibiting exceptional accuracy and ball placement, but he's been plagued by big mistakes over the years. He seemed to think he could beat the machine, so to speak, which led him to try to make impossible throws -- throws that often spelled trouble. He's not doing that this year, though; his level of maturity seems to have caught up to his ability.

Being a Dallas Cowboy has rookie Zack Martin feeling like he ‘hit the lottery’ | Jon Machota, DMN

Bet Zack Martin feels even more this way after being selected for the Pro Bowl.

"I couldn't ask for better teammates, better coaches," Martin said. "I really feel like I hit the lottery coming down here and being a part of this."

Jason Witten re-emerges in passing game - Dallas Cowboys Blog - ESPN

Even for a selfless player like Jason Witten, it is kind of hard to not be used as much in your primary role, so he is glad to have the ball coming his way more the past couple of weeks.

"When you know your team is going a different direction and the thought is that it's going to be better for the football team, it's easy to buy into that but as the season unfolds there's tough times in there," Witten said. "You don't have as many opportunities. You take on a different role. You embrace that and buy into that. You still play a critical role in doing things, setting the edge in the run game, and being a complete tight end but at different times, it is hard."

Dallas Cowboys' defense has record-setting performance - ESPN Dallas

Of all the things about the dominating win over the Indianapolis Cols, the most encouraging may be how well the defense played. It was arguably their best game of the year.

Dallas set a franchise record by limiting the Colts to one measly yard rushing on 10 attempts in their 42-7 blowout win Sunday afternoon. 

The previous low by the Cowboys occurred in October 1966, when they held Pittsburgh to seven yards rushing in a 52-21 win.

Tyrone Crawford getting better every day; Jason Garrett: His best football is ahead of him | Jon Machota, DMN

The head coach talks about how the team is maximizing the talent of Tyrone Crawford, who some consider the best defender on the roster.

"One of the best things we've done as a staff is getting him to that defensive tackle position, playing the three-technique," Garrett said. "Sometimes when you're a versatile guy, that can be really good and sometimes it can be a detriment, because you can play defensive end, you can play defensive tackle. Hey, he can even play nose."

How did Cowboys rookie Anthony Hitchens avoid buying entire team Christmas presents? | Dallas Morning News

Crawford may be the best player, but Anthony Hitchens probably had the best game of any defender against Indy. Going into the game, he was the only linebacker on the team who had not gotten a turnover, and he intercepted a pass early in the third quarter.

"It felt good," Hitchens said. "He's (linebackers coach Matt Eberflus) been on my case all year about it. I'm the last one in the room to get a turnover. I think I was going to have to pay for everyone's Christmas gifts if I didn't get a turnover before the season was over. I had a lot at stake, so I'm just glad I got the turnover."

Scout's Eye: Spencer's Progress; Sterling Moore Shines On Colts Tape | Bryan Broaddus, DC.com

Another defender who had a very good game was Anthony Spencer. There was a lot of doubt whether he could contribute, coming off microfracture surgery, it looks like the slight gamble Dallas took in re-signing him is paying off.

He is playing with acceleration and a burst. He is no longer slow and sluggish, playing like he is feeling his way around. He is attacking blockers and it's even to the point when he plants that foot in the ground he has the confidence that his knee will not give way on him. Spencer has regained that ability to get to the corner, and when he has to bend he can make that move work.

Sports industry Earnings Breakdown

I just put this in because it points out that the NFL, as a whole, makes $304.41 per second, every second.

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | Clutch Encounters: Week 16

I wanted to leave you all with this. It isn't about the Cowboys, but you might find it mildly amusing.

The Eagles are eliminated from the playoffs after a 9-3 start. The only other teams to do that since the 12-team playoff format began in 1990 are the 1993 Dolphins and 2008 Buccaneers. At least those Dolphins had Dan Marino coming back in 1994. At least those Buccaneers were moving in a new direction, even if Raheem Morris and Josh Freeman did not work out. Where are the Eagles headed with such a poor secondary and question marks at quarterback? If not for the Saints and 49ers, the Eagles would be pegged as the most disappointing team of 2014.

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Get your picks in for the BTB Pick 256 Challenge!

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You have until kickoff on Sunday to submit your picks, but why let time go a wastin? Here's the link to the entry form.

If the link above doesn't work for whatever reason, use the following alternative, which does not autofill your BTB user name into the entry form.

Alternative Pick 256 Entry Form

As of this morning, we only had 83 votes logged, so lots of regulars still haven't posted their picks. In early voting, the Cowboys are favored over the Redskins, with 95% of the picks coming in for the Cowboys, while 85% are taking the Giants over the Eagles in other NFC East action.

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