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Dallas Cowboys News & Notes: Antonio Romo - Conquistador!

Latest Cowboys headlines: Tony Romo "fits the profile of a modern Super Bowl victor"; Jerry Jones feels like he's "with a star" when he's around DeMarco Murray; Cowboys unlikely to make a run at free agent pass rusher?

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Tony Romo overdue to win a Super Bowl? Numbers say yes | Sporting News
Vinnie Iyer argues Tony Romo won't ever silence his critics until he leads the Cowboys to a Super Bowl victory, and that those critics just need to realize Romo already fits the profile of a modern Super Bowl victor.

Who’s the best playoff quarterback: Rodgers, Brady or Manning? | USAToday
Tony Romo apparently doesn't merit inclusion in the headline. But it doesn't really matter, because the narrative has already been written.

Tony Romo can’t win. No, not in the literal sense that you’re likely to see featured in hot takes around the internet after the Cowboys inevitably get knocked out of the playoffs. In the sense that no matter what he does, aside from winning a Super Bowl, he’ll be labeled a failure. Even after a ridiculous December — Romo completed 74.7 percent of his passes and threw 12 touchdowns against one interception — the narrative turned from Romo failing to get the Cowboys to the playoffs to him having only one playoff win. These storylines get in the way of the fact Romo has been a very good quarterback for nearly a decade. He’s now at the peak of what could turn into a special career. Appreciate it.

After Further Review: Romo Rippers still lurk, even with MVP-like season -
Tony Romo is having an MVP-like season and playing the position better than any other time in his career. But the critics are lurking and waiting to pounce, especially now in the playoffs, Pete Prisco writes in this highly readable ode to Romo.

Romo has been that good. He might be good enough this season to carry this team to a Super Bowl. The Romo Rippers need to stop. Maybe I've defended him a lot more in the media than most, but anybody who doesn't think he's an MVP candidate now is simply misguided.

John Gruden on Tony Romo's success in 2014 - Sportsmedianews
In an ESPN conference call about the wild card playoff games, John Gruden explains Tony Romo's success in 2014:

Q. With Tony Romo, he’s led the league in passer rating this year. Have you ever seen him play this well throughout his career, and what made him so fantastic this year down the stretch where he’s usually struggled, and has he kind of reached that level where we kind of say he’s untouchable with Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady type play this year?

Gruden: Well, this is my opinion, but I think they’ve run the ball better than they have ever run it. If you just check the statistics the last few years it’s almost ridiculous how lopsided they were not running the ball. Every play was a pass. Romo had a punctured lung, he’s had bruised ribs, he’s had physical problems, he’s been throwing it and throwing it and getting hit, and usually there’s going to be two or three bad things that happen when you live like that.

I think the balance in Dallas’s offense is awesome. They can really hurt you running the ball. We talked about Denver’s offensive line and the construction that they’ve gone under. The Cowboys have as good an offensive line as there is in the league. Maybe the best left tackle, a very good center, a thumping rookie right guard, and a really aggressive right tackle and left guard. They’re solid up front, and they have some dynamic skill players, Dez Bryant, Witten and Williams can hurt you down the field. I think it’s a combination of those things.

'We are so blessed': Grandparents proud of Romo's success - KVUE
Tony Romo's grandparents agree with John Gruden's assessment in a very readable story (Hat tip to BTB-member Nova88).

"The difference between this season and the other years is that Antonio has never had a team like this around him," Ramiro Romo said. "He's never had this kind of help. He's more relaxed now because the Cowboys have a better overall team."

Simms: Wild card round will come down to offensive line play | USAToday
In an interview with USA Today, Chris Simms gives the Cowboys the edge on Sunday thanks to the play of their offensive line.

USA TODAY Sports: Of the four teams playing this weekend, which unit or team has been the most impressive so far this season?

Simms: The most consistent unit in the NFL this year, from start to finish was the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line. Offensive lines, those are the cornerstones of your franchise right now. We talk about so many things, but when you have an offensive line that can run and pass block the way they have this year, start marking off the list: it helps the receivers; it helps the quarterback; it helps the running back; the defense is always on the field. There’s just so many good things to say when you talk about the Cowboys and their offensive line. They have performed all year long.


Playoff stage could further boost value of soon-to-be NFL free agents - USAToday
Nate Davis lists 10 pending free agents who could further cash in with strong January, and three Cowboys make the list. Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray make every one of these lists every time, but the third Cowboy, Rolando McClain, may be a bit of a surprise.

His checkered history is bound to scare some teams from investing in him for the long term. But it only takes one to fall in love. McClain revitalized his career as the centerpiece of a Dallas defense that exceeded most outside expectations as he finally showed why he was a top-10 draft pick nearly five years ago.

Can 2014’s breakout players sustain NFL success? | USA Today
Lorenzo Reyes offers a forecast on whether McClain and other breakout players can sustain their success after surprising in 2014:

Given the opportunity, McClain has seized it convincingly, making big plays at big moments in his 12 starts. If McClain, who has been battling a knee injury, makes an impact in the playoffs, the Cowboys could consider signing him to a longer deal. The oft-troubled 25 year old with superb athletic gifts has flourished in the structure of coordinator Rod Marinelli’s scheme. If he returns to Dallas, expect McClain to continue his comeback in the NFL.

Notes: McClain's Comeback; Martin’s All-Pro Switch; New Nomination For Murray | David Helman
Helman with a bunch of topics, which he leads with Rolando McClain's thoughts on playing in Dallas and his future with the Cowboys.

"I know the best thing is just being on a team that cares for you as much as you care for them," he said. "It’s not hard to go out and play for guys that care for you the same as you care for them. It’s a real good season, I guess, so to say. It’s not over, obviously. We still can play four more games, so we’ll see."

As for the future, McClain left that for later.

"Honestly, I haven’t thought of it. I’ve been focused on the Lions," he said. "They’re a good team, and you’ve got to be focused. Whatever happens after, happens."


Tony Romo's relentless work ethic paying off - Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN Dallas
Man, I can't shake the feeling that JJT is becoming the new Mickey Spagnola, which is nice. Unexpected, but nice. To get what I mean, read this in a Spagnola voice:

Now that Romo's had his third season with a touchdown/interception differential of plus-20, there's some thought that Romo is putting in more time than ever on his craft and it's paying off.


Romo has always spent the offseason trying to perfect the nuances of playing quarterback. A lot of times it would be stuff so subtle that you wouldn't notice unless he told you.

But he's always been like that.

DeMarco Murray's toughness inspires teammates, coaches - Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN Dallas
More feel-good stuff from JJT, this time about how Murray's physical play and toughness inspire the team, with quotes from Garrett and Jerry Jones:

"On thing that might've surprised all of us when we drafted him is how physically tough he is at the end of runs. We saw all of the statistics and production he had in college but at the end of runs he was all going forward," coach Jason Garrett said. "He was always going downhill. You thought he made 4, but he made 6. You thought he made 8, but he got a first down. It has a huge impact on the team because those kinds of thing are contagious. You know players watch themselves on tape, but they also watch their teammates. It's less the spectacular stuff but the intangible-driven stuff that's inspiring."

"Since he walked through the door, DeMarco has been a very impressive individual.There's a quality there that distinguishes him. You feel like you're with a star," Jerry Jones said.

You think Jerry Jones will let this guy walk? Steven Tyler says, "Dream On."

Win or lose vs. Lions, Cowboys will be popular Super Bowl pick in 2015 | Rick Gosselin, DMN
Even Gosselin is all unicorns and rainbows. Again, use your Spagnola voice:

But the Cowboys have seven chances to make this unit better in 2015 — their seven draft picks in April. The Cowboys also will be looking for an impact from two recent second-rounders who were essentially nonfactors this season because of injuries, pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence and linebacker Sean Lee.

Win or lose Sunday, the Cowboys will be a popular choice for the Super Bowl in 2015. This is a good football team that is young enough to get better — much better.


Sunday Wild Card Playoff Preview 2015 - Football Outsiders
The headline in the Lions @ Cowboys game is the battle between rushing yardage leader DeMarco Murray and the NFL's best run defense of 2014, but there's a lot more going on below the surface, and FO proceed to talk about that in great and interesting detail. One tidbit: The Detroit pass defense went from No. 1 in DVOA in Weeks 1-9 to 23rd in Weeks 10-17, while the Cowboys passing offense went from 14th to 2nd in the same periods.

Cowboys unlikely to make a run at free agent pass rusher? - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Parallels between the 2014 Cowboys and their early 90s incarnation are being increasingly drawn, and one question that will see rivers of virtual ink being spilled heading up to free agency is who the 2014 version of Charles Haley will be. In response to a Twitter question about whether a 12+ sack pass rusher will turn the Cowboys D from average to great, Archer has this response:

It sure wouldn't hurt, but there aren't a lot of those guys floating around the planet. If you can find them, tell the Cowboys. Only eight players had more than 12 sacks this season. It's rare.

If you're wondering if they would make a run at Jason Pierre-Paul or another high-priced free agent, that would surprise me a ton. The Cowboys will save their money for the players they know, such as Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray and, possibly, Rolando McClain.

Allergic reaction puts Cowboys DT Tyrone Crawford on injury report | David Moore, DMN
Crawford suffered an undisclosed allergic reaction, but Cowboys officials are optimistic he'll be able to play on Sunday.

For now, All-Pro voters are not identified | ProFootballTalk
PFT made a big, righteous fuss about some very odd choices on the ballots submitted for the Associated Press All Pro team, and have since revealed who the inidivual voters were.

- Who was the one voter who did not vote Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown an All-Pro wide receiver? [Dan Pompei]
- Who was the one voter who chose not to place a punter on the All-Pro team? [Troy Aikman]
- Who was the one voter who chose to vote for Marshawn Lynch as a fullback, instead of a running back? [Boomer Esiason]
- Who were the two voters who chose Evan Mathis as an All-Pro guard even though he was injured and missed half the season? [Hub Arkush and Nick Pavlatos]
- Who voted Seattle’s James Carpenter, a mediocre guard, an All-Pro? [James Lofton]
- Who voted for Clay Matthews as an All-Pro inside linebacker when he mostly plays outside linebacker? [5 different people]



The Dallas Cowboys Were The Biggest Surprise Of The NFL Season - Business Insider
Why? Because they beat the their preseason win projection by 4.5 wins, the most of any team in the NFL, as the chart on the right shows (hover your mouse over the chart to see a larger image).

Green Bay Packers fans should be rooting for the Detroit Lions - Lombardi Ave.
Why? Because if the Lions win, the Packers will get to play the winner of the Cardinals @ Panthers game, and will avoid this team:

The Cowboys have an incredible run game that’s supported by a passing game that has been much more consistent this year, and a defense that can do enough to win games.

Eagles' Malcolm Jenkins: Our sins caught up to us -
Safety Malcolm Jenkins told "NFL AM" Friday that the team's sins came back to haunt them when they played good teams.

"Really the sins that we committed all season long finally caught up to us when we started playing these elite teams," Jenkins said.

Eagles say Chip Kelly will oversee player personnel department | ProFootballTalk
After a lot of behind the scenes turmoil, it's now clear that Chip Kelly is in charge of the Eagles and former Eagles intern turned GM Howie Roseman has been promoted upstairs where he'll do less harm, which sucks for everyone but the Eagles.

It’s unclear exactly what Roseman’s responsibilities as Executive Vice President of Football Operations will be, but the fact that Kelly has been given control of the player personnel department seems to indicate that Kelly is going to be doing what he wants to do, and that’s running the football team. Roseman is getting a nice new title that surely comes with a corner office and a good parking space.

When it's not directed at your own team, PFT's snark does have its moments.

Robert Griffin took sacks last season at a historic rate | ProFootballTalk
Griffin was sacked 33 times last year on 214 pass attempts for a staggering 13.4% sack percentage. PFT, not usually a place where you'd look for football knowledge, explain why:

It would be tempting to blame the offensive line any time a quarterback gets sacked that often, but in Griffin’s case it would be incorrect. Washington’s other two quarterbacks, Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins, weren’t sacked as often as Griffin. McCoy was sacked 17 times while throwing 128 passes, and Cousins was sacked eight times while throwing 208 passes. No, the problem with Griffin is that he isn’t good enough at getting rid of the ball when he’s under pressure.


Get your picks in for the BTB Playoff Pick 'em

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It's high time for you to submit your straight up picks for wild card weekend in the BTB Playoff Pick 'Em. To spice things up, we're using a Confidence Points scoring system where you have to give each game you pick a specific point value based on how strongly you feel about the accuracy of your selection.

You have until kickoff this afternoon submit your picks, but why wait until the last second? 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 Playoff Pick 'Em Entry Form

As of 5:00 am this morning, we have 263 votes logged. The favorites so far: Cowboys: 98%, Ravens: 87%, Panthers: 81%, Colts: 62%.

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