Jones backs off Goodell, backs Garrett


Jones backs off Goodell, backs Garrett

ARLINGTON, Texas -- As soon as Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones confirmed he is backing off a threat of legal action over the future of commissioner Roger Goodell, the focus turned to the performance of coach Jason Garrett and his staff.

That's how bad the tailspin is for a team desperately missing suspended star running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Jones said after Dallas' third straight loss by at least 20 points - 28-6 to the Los Angeles Chargers on Thanksgiving - that the compensation committee was being responsive to his concerns about a contract extension for Goodell.

While denying that his concerns are connected to Goodell's decision to suspend Elliott for six games over alleged domestic violence, Jones said he wanted all the owners to revisit the commissioner's performance after voting unanimously in May to let the compensation committee complete a new deal.

Jones' concerns have included the league's handling of protests involving the national anthem and the disciplinary power of the commissioner in the collective bargaining agreement, which is what Goodell used to punish Elliott after prosecutors in Ohio didn't pursue charges.

The issue turned into an exchange of threatening letters after Jones hired high-profile attorney David Boies. Jones said there will be an owners-only session to discuss Goodell's contract during the next NFL meetings Dec. 13 in the Dallas area.

"I just want to say we really have had, are having a lot of owner participation," Jones said. "It doesn't mean at all that we're not really pursuing what we want to get done, and that is have the owners in a very positive way give input and make everyone, including ourselves, accountable.

"I don't want to be redundant, but the business of standing down there didn't necessarily mean that you're not standing up elsewhere."

Jones' team is falling apart a year after the dynamic rookie duo of quarterback Dak Prescott and Elliott carried the Cowboys to the best record in the NFC at 13-3.

Dallas (5-6) already has twice as many losses, and Prescott more than double the number of interceptions (nine after four as the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year). The Cowboys still have three games left in Elliott's suspension, after winning the last three before the ban.

The slide hasn't reflected well on the coaches, with the Cowboys outscored 72-6 in the second half of the three losses. That lopsided number leads to questions about halftime adjustments.

"We all know that it has to get better, has to get together," Jones said. "I really think this coaching staff is tops. I think Jason is able to use everything that he's learned, as coordinator, as coach over these last years, and we've just got to get it together."

The last time Garrett faced questions about his job, the Cowboys were coming off three straight 8-8 seasons that ended with losses in regular-season finales that kept them out of the playoffs.

Since then, the fluctuations have been dramatic - NFC East champs at 12-4 in 2014, a first-to-last slide to 4-12 without injured quarterback Tony Romo a year later, followed by last season's sparkling year when Prescott shocked the NFL after Romo got hurt again.

And while the absence of Elliott and 2016 All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) is a huge part of the current slide, the Cowboys again aren't handling adversity well. Garrett admitted as much about 2015, and is about to have to do so again if the Cowboys can't reverse the slide.

Dallas plays Washington in the last of three home games Thursday, then starts a season-ending stretch of three out of four on the road at the last-place New York Giants.

"Obviously we've got to get it right," Garrett said. "That's my job. That's our job as a coaching staff. We just haven't done enough on either side of the ball or in the kicking game to allow us to compete toward the end of the ballgame."

Jones, who spoke to the team after the game but declined to offer details, tried to say he wasn't giving the "negative vote of confidence" by continuing to show faith in Garrett, who got a five-year contract after winning the division and his first playoff game in 2014.

In his seventh full season, Garrett is 63-52 in the regular season. Only Tom Landry, who led the Cowboys for their first 29 years, has coached the team longer.

"I feel about this staff the same way I feel about my mirror - that's what if there's some changes made, don't change what's in front of the mirror, because I can change what you're doing that the mirror is seeing," Jones said. "Candidly, I'm really not shaken. I'm disappointed, but there's no shake here."

That could change if the blowout losses don't stop.


Report: Slater returning to Patriots

Report: Slater returning to Patriots

Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater has signed a two-year deal to return to the team, according to an ESPN's Mike Reiss.

Slater had made a free-agent visit to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday. The seven-time Pro Bowl special teams ace, who turns 33 in September, has spent the past 10 seasons in a New England. Slater, one of the veteran leaders in the locker room, signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract extension in 2016.

The Patriots traded with the Oakland Raiders for kick returner/wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson earlier this week to bolster their special teams.


Report: New catch rule coming to NFL

Report: New catch rule coming to NFL

A new catch rule is coming to the NFL.

So, controversies such as the Jesse James' touchdown reversal in the Steelers' loss to the Patriots in December and the Kelvin Benjamin call in the Bills-Pats game a week later likely would have resulted in upheld TDs under the new rule.

According to the Washington Post, Troy Vincent, the NFL VP of football operations, said competition committee members plan to propose getting rid of portions of the rule related to a receiver going to the ground while making a catch and to slight movement of the football while it’s in the receiver’s hands. Vincent also said the committee also intends to raise the bar by which an on-field ruling of a catch could be overturned via replay review.

That apparently was what was done in Super Bowl 52, when the Eagles' Corey Clement's juggling TD catch was not overturned via replay. 

“We worked backward,” said Vincent told the Post. “We looked at plays and said: Do you want that to be a catch? And then we applied that to the rule.”

The rule modifications could be approved by the competition committee as early Tuesday, the Post reported, and owners will meet next week in Orlando to vote on it. Rule changes must be approved by at least 24 of the 32 franchises. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been pushing for the catch rule to be modified.