NFL teeters of all-out, unprecedented civil war - Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham, ESPN
Roger Goodell told Jerry Jones that he would not suspend Ezekiel Elliott - and then reneged. No wonder Jerry Jones is on a crusade.
In May, Jones asked Goodell by phone for a status update on the Elliott investigation. Jones later told several people that he came away from their conversation with an assurance that there would be no suspension for Elliott and that Goodell felt the running back should enter counseling and perhaps issue a statement showing contrition for his behavior. Jones replied that Elliott wouldn't be contrite about domestic violence because he hadn't committed it. "[Jones] told me, 'Roger told me there was nothing to worry about -- the evidence just isn't there,'" says a high-level source briefed on the call. "Jerry ... was damn sure that Zeke was free and clear."
It was Aug. 9, [...] Goodell huddled over a speakerphone with general counsel Jeff Pash. On the other end was Jerry Jones. [...] Goodell and Pash informed Jones that after a 13-month domestic violence inquiry, the Dallas Cowboys' star running back, Ezekiel Elliott, would face punishment -- a six-game suspension.
The line went quiet. Seconds passed. Goodell's decision was an unconscionable violation of trust, Jones later told associates, because he believed that the commissioner had assured him this past spring that there would be no suspension.[...] His anger was palpable. Finally, according to sources with direct knowledge of the call, Jones broke the silence. He aimed his words not only at Goodell's decision but also at his role as judge, jury and executioner in the case.
"I'm gonna come after you with everything I have," Jones said. Then he mentioned Deflategate. "If you think Bob Kraft came after you hard, Bob Kraft is a p---y compared to what I'm going to do."
Is there some way to take down the evil Goodell? - Tim Cowlishaw, SportsDay
In response to a reader question, Cowlishaw gives his thoughts on Jerry's celebrity death match with Goodell.
What is the local reaction to Jerry Jones fighting against the league, Roger Goodell, and fighting for Ezekiel Elliott?
Cowlishaw: I think people are on his side in terms of is there some way to take down the evil Goodell? Go get 'em, Jerry. That sort of attitude. Beyond that, I don't think there's really much of an understanding because he hasn't said anything publicly about what he's doing or why he's doing it. There's a lot of guesswork involved.
Clearly this is some type of reaction to what happened with Zeke, and he tries to pretend it's not. I mean, it is. Let's just establish that it is. My thought is Jerry's right about the contract. Why pay the guy $49 million that you've negotiated against? I get that part, but I don't get going to war relatively speaking. Pursuing owners, hiring high-powered attorneys, stuff like that over that. I would think that sounds more like something you do when you're trying to take it up a notch and get somebody eventually out of office.
Adam Schefter: What makes the Jerry Jones versus Roger Goodell fight different than any other | SportsDay
Adam Schefter talked to 103.3-FM about Jerry's issues with Goodell.
Thoughts on Jerry Jones' request to meet with the other NFL owners to discuss Goodell's contract
Schefter: It's very direct. I admire the man for his open, honest, transparent approach here. Clearly he's got issues with the commissioner, and he's doing what he can to have this process be as fully transparent as possible. Let's be very clear: The league can deny it all it wants, but the first and only proposal that the commissioner submitted in terms of a compensation package, it included the request for north of $49 million in a total compensation package per year, and includes the use of a private jet for life as well as the health benefits for him and his family for life. What I think what bothered some people about that is players get health care for five years after they're done playing. They put their bodies on the line, and yet the commissioner's asking for health care benefits for life.
It's out there. Jerry would like to meet with other people, as the Wall Street Journal reported. I think he's been very honest and open about how he feels here. What's most interesting about this is the fact that there are plenty of fights that go on within the NFL between powerful people. It's just that most of them, almost all of them, occur behind closed doors. This one is right out in front, in public for everyone to see and judge. To me, this is an issue where this is an accumulation of everything that has happened within the last three, four, five years. This is Ray Rice, domestic violence, salary cap penalties for the Redskins, bounty gate, deflategate, Zeke Elliot. This is all of those issues reflected in how team owners feel about how Roger Goodell handled that and their judgment on him based on that.
Final Thoughts: Coping Without Sean Lee, How To Protect Dak; More - Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
Broaddus explains how the Cowboys can take advantage of a blitzing Eagles team, and how a moving pocket can protect Prescott.
I believe you will see Jim Schwartz trying to just create pressure on Dak Prescott with his front four. It was a plan that both the Broncos and Falcons were successful with in their victories. The Cowboys receivers had a difficult time getting open in those games and Schwartz has to believe that his secondary can hold up just as well. If Schwartz feels the need to bring pressure with blitzes, his crew has been up to the task. Opposing quarterbacks have a rating of 61.08 when facing extra rushers. Where the Cowboys can counter here is that when Prescott has faced the blitz, his rating is 102.3 -- which is 10th-best in the league among all quarterbacks. If the Cowboys can block the Eagles’ four-man rush, Schwartz might be forced to bring pressure. That would play right into a strength of this Dallas offense.
If the staff is not confident in how well they can protect Dak Prescott, I could see Scott Linehan play to his strength by using his mobility. Jim Schwartz has even said it himself, Prescott is one of the best quarterbacks that he’s ever seen throw on the move. Moving the pocket should allow Prescott to get the ball out of his hand quicker, which in turn protects say Byron Bell on the backside. The danger there is Prescott being exposed on the edge, but we’ve seen him protect himself when out there before.
Sack Dak Prescott? Chasing down Cowboys QB comes with a risk - Paul Domowitch, Philadelphia Inquirer
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said Cowboys QB Dak Prescott might be the best he has seen at throwing on the run.
“I’ve been around the NFL for a pretty long time now,’’ Schwartz said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better thrower on the run than Dak Prescott. He can throw scrambling to his left. He can throw scrambling to his right. There are not too many quarterbacks that can do that.
“He can threaten the whole field on the run. He doesn’t have to reset to throw. There are a lot of mobile quarterbacks, a lot of guys that can throw from the pocket. He can do both of those.
“He also can run the read-option. But what really makes him stand out is that he can throw on the run and is accurate throwing on the run.’’
Eagles-Cowboys will be determined by new-look ground attacks, not just Dak and Wentz - Sean Wagner, CBSSports.com
In a showdown that could decide the NFC East, the Eagles and Cowboys will each trot out a new-look rushing attack, Wagner explains.
Wentz and Prescott are the stars of the game. There's no denying that. They deserve the attention. But the running games matter, because the quarterback who gets the most support from his ground attack will likely be the quarterback who runs off the field a winner.
The Eagles will be difficult to crack, but it won't be impossible. The Eagles are susceptible in one area. Coincidentally enough, that area is the exact spot the Cowboys tried to avoid last week. On runs behind the left tackle, the Eagles' defense is allowing 9.8 yards per carry, according to PFF. The passing game isn't the only aspect of the Cowboys' offense that needs Smith. So does the running game if it hopes to exploit the Eagles by attacking their exhaust port.
Sportsday expert predictions for Cowboys-Eagles: Do you believe in miracles? - SportsDay Staff
Eight DMN writers offer their predictions for the game on Sunday and Bob Sturm is the only one who sees a Cowboys victory.
I know it seems irrational, but I am of the belief that in football, sometimes you simply look at who needs the game versus who would like to win it. If the team that needs the game is also playing at home and is in desperation mode, then sometimes that is where rational thought doesn't always add up. I think the Eagles are aware that this one would be nice, but a loss doesn't hurt them much. Dallas NEEDS this.
This Sunday is a fork in the road for Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
No Ezekiel Elliott, no Sean Lee, likely no Tyron Smith, Jason Garrett has to be enough for the Dallas Cowboys.
A win keeps the Cowboys in the playoff hunt, a loss puts them all the more closer into the ground. Even down three (the Tyron situation is still up in the air) superstars, Jason Garrett has to be enough. He has to finally be enough.
Who will Jason Garrett be Sunday night when the triple zeroes strike the game clock? The same old day-by-day apologist that is afforded a pardon of a particular variety, or the Dallas Cowboys head coach that defeated the odds and found a way to win the game all by himself?
We’re about to find out.
Sean Lee Officially Ruled Out On Team’s Final Injury Report - Dallas Cowboys Staff
The General won't play on Sunday.
For the third time this year, the Cowboys will play an entire game without linebacker Sean Lee, who was officially ruled out of Sunday’s upcoming game with the Eagles. Lee missed most of last week’s game in Atlanta as well with a strained hamstring, the same injury that kept him out of action against the Rams and Packers. So far, his absence has been felt in a major way. The Cowboys are 0-2 in both games without him and saw a 7-0 lead turn into a 27-7 loss after he left last week’s game with the Falcons. Without Lee, it’s likely Anthony Hitchens will move to the weak-side spot.
Tyron Smith not yet ruled out of Sunday's game - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The Dallas Cowboys haven’t made a decision on left tackle Tyron Smith’s status for Sunday’s game. Byron Bell would likely start in his place.
“We’ll take it day by day,” coach Jason Garrett said of Smith’s status. “We’ll see how he does today and then we’ll take our next step from there, see how he does tomorrow. Typically we take these situations up to game time.”
Said owner Jerry Jones on 105.3 The Fan: “I really don’t want to comment on it because probably only God knows. I know this, if he can play, he’ll be out there.”
Cowboys will use rookies Xavier Woods, Chidobe Awuzie to fill void left by absence of S Jeff Heath | SportsDay
Heath has been ruled out for the Eagles game, and Rod Marinelli said earlier in the week Woods would replace Heath in the lineup.
Woods, a sixth-round pick out of Louisiana Tech, has impressed Cowboys coaches with his ability to make plays on the football. Against the Falcons, Woods came up with his first NFL interception when he made a diving pick in the first quarter off of a pass breakup by Anthony Brown.
The Cowboys will also see more of second-round pick Chidobe Awuzie on Sunday against the Eagles. The rookie Awuzie has missed six games, including the last four, because of a strained hamstring. He could have played Sunday against the Falcons, but Dallas wanted to give him an extra week of practice.
Awuzie can play at cornerback and safety, but he's mostly worked at safety of late and that's where he'll spend most of his time Sunday against Philadelphia with Dallas short-handed because of the absence of Heath.
VIDEO: Wentz And Prescott Are The Best Second-Year QBs We’ve Seen In A While - Tony Chow & Neil Payne, FiveThirtyEight
Both Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz are having historically great years. Find out just how great by watching the video above.