Cowboys 'Apple Move of the Day': Best Vs Rest
After clinching the NFC East and with the rest of the NFC playoffs having odds that make the outcomes seem obvious, one of the nice problems the Cowboys have heading into Washington for the season finale is whether or not the starters should play or be held back to keep fresh for Wildcard Weekend.
On Friday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expressed on his weekly radio show that the starters should play.
"We won't know anything, and it would be a catastrophe if we walked up there, and for whatever the reason of our own volition, of our own decision-making, pull back a little and then had a chance to get that first round bye," Jones told 105.3 The Fan.
Dallas can achieve a bye in two different ways. The first is for Detroit and Green Bay to end in a tie. The second way is for St. Louis to win in Seattle and for San Francisco to defend their home against Arizona. All of those games kickoff at 4:25 p.m. Eastern Time while the Dallas plays Washington at 1:00 p.m.
"We won't know anything until way after our games are over about any of the combinations that occurred to get us a bye," Jones said. "But we want to play for it. And that's what we'll do."
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Again, it's not an easy or obvious decision, especially given the health of Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray and others. But all the indications we get are that Dallas really is approaching this game that way; this week in practice, closed to the media as most of it was, CowboysHQ.com nevertheless learned that coach Jason Garrett was "full-speed ahead'' in terms of rotation and snaps.
“There’s a playoff scenario with us winning the game that will give us an opportunity to get a first-round bye so we’re going to take advantage of what we can take advantage of,’’ Garrett said. “There are 16 opportunities to play and guys who are healthy are going to play in this game and practice this week and play in the game. Ballgames are important to us.’’
But what if the ballgame is kind of ... meaningless?
“There are,'' Garrett said, "no meaningless games.''
HOW DID THE HOLIDAYS TREAT THE JONES FAMILY? – Well, of course, it was an exciting one relative to visions of sugar plums what might happen go to Washington and a few things happen for us, we might even better our position. So, when you think about all that, it was a great day to celebrate Christmas.
HOW GREAT IS IT ON CHRISTMAS TO NOT WORRY ABOUT IT BEING A PLAY-IN GAME? – Well, you know, since we’ve experienced that the last couple years, and in my prior time when we would be going to playoffs, we had two or three that we had to wait until the last minute to know where we were. And we had some that we really had done before we played the last game. I’ll tell you both of them, really, from the standpoint of winning the ballgame, just make you want to go up there, play good, and win the ballgame. I don’t know that there is a different feeling about going up there and playing the Redskins.
ARE YOU GUYS JUST GOING TO PUSH FORWARD DESPITE GUYS MAYBE BENEFITING FROM REST? – We won’t know anything, and it would be a catastrophe if we walked up there, and for whatever the reason of our own volition, of our own decision-making, pull back a little and then had a chance to get that first round bye. We won’t know anything until way after our games are over about any of the combinations that occurred to get us a bye. But we want to play for it. And that’s what we’ll do.
WHAT WOULD YOUR PERSONAL FEELINGS BE IF MURRAY BROKE EMMITT’S RECORD? – I got it from the man last weekend he’s rooting for him. I’m talking about Emmitt Smith is rooting for DeMarco Murray. He actually came to the game in hopes that he might go down there and congratulate him should he have broken it then. So, I know he’s at peace with it. We are so proud of what that means for the entire offensive unit, certainly the offensive line. And, so, we’re all aware of that and it would be important if we could go up there and get it done.
FOUR OF YOUR LAST FIVE FIRST-ROUND PICKS ARE PRO BOWLERS. WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT YOUR TARGETING PLAYERS IN THE DRAFT? – Who do you have included in there as the others? Dez? Dez Bryant? I got two of them in the three offensive linemen. And frankly, it just goes to show you we traded two picks – a first and an equivalent of two ones, really, to try to get [Morris] Claiborne, and that’s the one we paid the most for and didn’t get it. You know, those first rounds picks, everyone says, need to hit on them. When you miss, it’s tough. When you trade out of there, you’ve traded the equivalent of your first-round consideration. That’s costly. But what is important is, not only those, but the subsequent picks that we’ve had. All of them are making big time contributions. You’ve got to build these rosters nowadays, and I know we don’t want to get into that this morning. But you’ve got to build them a lot of different ways. It’s a talent acquisition, to be trite about it. And it’s got to come such things as Rolando McClain. That’s a free agent, off the street free agent to some degree. Really, we traded for him, but the equivalent of that. So, I’m just answering your question by saying that roster is full of a lot of ways to get talent.
IF YOU COULD PICK ONE GUY TO REPRESENT YOUR DEFENSE IN THE PRO BOWL, WHO WOULD IT BE? – Well, I don’t know that I would go there, because Tyrone Crawford has had a great year as well. You know, when this year started – as a matter of fact, when we were leaving training camp, you had Tyrone Crawford, you had him coming off of injury, that Achilles repair. You had [Henry] Melton off a knee injury. You really had certainly [Terrell] McClain hurt. We had lost our two or three key guys, to be trite about it: [DeMarcus] Ware. When you look at the “ifs” that were still with us when we were in training camp, it was really ambiguous to see 90 percent of that come through for us and really play at a level that gets us here and know that that defense got a chance to improve is real rewarding.
WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THE REDSKINS LAST TIME THAT MADE IT HARD AND WHAT’S THE ANSWER? – Well, let’s hope that we got Romo all game. We didn’t have him all game last time. We didn’t play well. We didn’t address some of the opportunities that we had, even when we had Romo. And so, I think a combination of that, we should and have to be more effective. We know what they do. We know these guys, and they know us. And so, we’ve got to be real effective. I’ve got a lot of confidence – we all do – in how Romo is playing to basically take what they give us. If they do, then we should be pretty productive offensively. Defensively, I think we – I still have to pinch myself to think that [Colt] McCoy would have that kind of day with us. And certainly, we’re playing at a higher level defensively and won’t let them have that kind of offense.
WOULD YOU AGREE THAT Brandon Carr AND Bruce Carter HAVE PICKED UP CONFIDENCE SINCE THE LAST WASHINGTON GAME? – I agree with you, and so has [George] Selvie. Selvie seems to have gotten over. He has played a little nicked up, and he was probably playing with a little too much weight early in the year. But Selvie has really picked up his game up. [Jeremy] Mincey, frankly, has been real outstanding. And of course, Crawford. And Crawford has done nothing but get better and get better. So, frankly, you add that and number 59 [Anthony] Hitchens, who has really come on. Boy, what a case for ‘coach, play him.’ Play them and they’ll become better players for you. Don’t just play the guy that is the veteran and, just because he knows what to do, play these young guys so that by the time we get ready to be where we are, you got a football player on the ascending.
You can listen to the rest of the interview here, including whether or not he considers Governor Chris Christie as a good luck charm. Keep your radio on 105.3 The Fan and your browser on CowboysHQ.com for the latest and greatest on America's Team.
*Need to catch up on Jordan Ross' "Romo for MVP" article. Yes you do. Here it is in all its supporting-argument glory.
*Want to know how Dallas dominated the Colts? The answer's right here in Cowboys+Colts BIG Stats: Third Downs & Toxic Events
*Here's Fish taking us inside the Cowboys room for the story of the gameplan for the playoff-clincher - and Romo's "stolen'' jersey. Premium stuff!
*Reflections on that big day ... Cowboys Chronology of The Clinch.
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"I feel better this time of year than I did last year at this time, so that's a positive. So Merry Christmas." - Tony Romo.
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