It started with a question to Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry during an appearance on ESPN980 Thursday. He was asked which stat he'd want to lead the league in: sacks, turnovers, yards per game passing or yards per game rushing. Barry had a quick response: turnovers.
Here's what he told the hosts (Chris Cooley, Steve Czaban and Al Galdi):
"Our job on defense is to go out and get the ball back for our defense. Turnovers are going to be a big thing we preach. We actually don’t call them turnovers. We call them takeaways because our job is to take the ball away. You’ve got to practice it and you’ve got to talk about it. You’ve got to preach it. They don’t just happen, you have to go do it. If you’re a defense that leads the league in takeaways, you’re doing good stuff.”
Naturally, ESPN Stats & Information can provide a boost to see what stats matter most. The goal is to try and find the stats that might mean more to the ultimate outcome: winning games. Also, I used a three-year sample size to get a better feel for the impact and how it rates over time. Here we go:
Turnovers: I was surprised when I took a look at the last three years combined and the impact of causing turnovers on teams' final record. Of the top 10 teams in creating turnovers in this stretch, only five have a combined winning record (New England, Seattle, Arizona, Cincinnati and San Francisco). But, of course, three of those teams played in the Super Bowl and two won the game. So there’s a big impact, but consider that Tampa Bay was eighth in the past three years, yet finished 22 games under .500. Why? They had a plus-five turnover margin in that time. However, that was still good enough to rank 10th. Of the top 10 teams in turnover margin, seven posted winning records in the past three years combined. And the top three teams -- New England, Seattle and San Francisco were a combined 103-40-1 with four Super Bowl appearances in this period.
When I broke it down by year, here's how it looked: Eight top-10 teams in takeaways finished with winning records in each season between 2012-14. In 2013, there were 12 teams tied in the top 10 and last year there were 13. So in an individual season it matters a lot more than, say, over a three-year stretch.
Rushing yards per game: Six of the top 10 teams in rushing yards per game posted winning records with Denver, Seattle and San Francisco among the top four. But also in the top 10 were Tampa Bay (fifth), Washington (eighth) and the New York Jets (ninth). Those teams were a combined 48-94. I always figured the more telling number was yards per carry -- except that only four of the top 10 teams in this category had winning records, with Tampa Bay second overall.
Sacks: Five of the top 10 teams posted winning records, but the top two (Buffalo and St. Louis) did not. The Bills were 10th overall in yards per game while the Rams were 14th. It takes more than sacks to build great defenses and to win.
Passing yards allowed per game: Seven of the top 10 teams in passing yards allowed per game posted winning records, but New England was 26th. The Redskins were 31st; I’m guessing you’re not surprised. If you went by passing yards per attempt, you’d still have seven of the top 10 teams with winning records, but the Patriots jump to 18th while the Redskins ... stay at 31.
Yards allowed per game: This obviously matters a great deal as the top six teams -- and nine of the top 13 -- in this category during this time all have winning records, with Seattle atop the list. However, New England was 24th during these three seasons. Another note: Every team in the NFC East finished 23rd or worse -- and for those who thought the Redskins’ defense was the NFL’s worst, you’d be wrong. They actually were 23rd, ahead of their division opponents.
Points allowed per game: This is the most important and revealing defensive stat. While takeaways are important, the ultimate stat is points per game. That was not an option Barry was given for an answer, but it is the stat that dictates success more than any other.
Eight of the top 10 teams the past three years have winning records. And for those of you who thought the Redskins’ defense was the NFL’s worst, this is where you’re very close to being right. They ranked 30th during this time, ahead of only Jacksonville and Oakland. The Giants (20th), Dallas (25th) and Philadelphia (28th) weren’t exactly powerhouses in this category either. The more I checked out the defensive stats, the more it explains the NFC East's relative mediocrity the last few seasons.
IRVING, Texas – Teams in the NFL like to have it both ways when it comes to their world of non-guaranteed contracts.
If a player is underperforming, then they will ask that player to take a cut in pay. If a player is outperforming his contract, they like to say a player is under contract.
In agreeing to a new deal with cornerback Orlando Scandrick on Friday, the Dallas Cowboys showed they are willing to work with one of their core players who is expected to be around for the long term.
The Cowboys didn’t have to do anything with Scandrick’s contract. They could have enforced the $500,000 de-escalator in his deal for not taking part in 90 percent of the offseason program. They could have said he’s under contract.
But they were willing to add a year to his deal with some more money up front to make sure one of their defensive leaders is happy.
Does this mean every player unhappy with his deal will get the same treatment? Absolutely not.
Does it have anything to do with Dez Bryant’s contract? No.
The Scandrick and Bryant deals are vastly different. Bryant’s deal is more complex in terms of the amount of money he will receive and where he will rank among the highest-paid wide receivers. With Demaryius Thomas (franchise tag), Julio Jones and A.J. Green in roughly the same boat as Bryant, the Cowboys aren’t sure where the wide receiver market will take them in the future.
In order to buy themselves some time, they put the $12.823-million franchise tag on Bryant. If need be, they can put the tag on him again in 2016 and Bryant will pull down roughly $28 million over the next two years. There is no doubt the Cowboys want Bryant for the long term, but finding the way to get there is more difficult.
Does this have anything to do with the team not paying DeMarco Murray? No.
The Cowboys drew a line in the sand on Murray – four years, $24 million, $12 million guaranteed. The Philadelphia Eagles’ offer buried their offer and Murray had to take it. I believe the Cowboys might have been penny-wise and pound-foolish in their thinking in allowing the NFL’s leading rusher to walk, but the complexities of a deal for a running back are different than a cornerback.
And with a quick look at the value of the deal, the Cowboys still appear OK financially.
Scandrick’s new deal averages $4 million a year through 2019. There were deals in free agency this year for cornerbacks not as good as Scandrick that averaged $6 million a year.
By re-doing Scandrick’s contract, the Cowboys kept the player happy and showed his teammates that they are willing to work through tricky situations.
IRVING, Texas -- Through the years the Dallas Cowboys have been able to coax productivity from early-round draft picks that did not produce at previous spots. Linebacker Rolando McClain (first round, Oakland Raiders, 2010) is the most recent example.
On Thursday, the Cowboys worked out two former first-round picks and two former second-round picks at running back and wide receiver.
The most curious workout was Felix Jones, one of the Cowboys’ two first-round picks in 2008. The Cowboys made no attempt to re-sign him when his contract expired in 2012 after he struggled with his health and production. Jones played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013 and was out of football last season.
The Cowboys also worked out wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, a first-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2012. After failing to catch a pass as a rookie, he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs and caught 17 passes for 223 yards in two seasons there.
Word of Ben Tate's visit circulated early Thursday morning. He was a second-round pick of the Houston Texans in 2010. Daniel Thomas was the Miami Dolphins' second-round pick in 2011, nine spots before the Cowboys took DeMarco Murray. In 52 games with the Dolphins, Thomas (6-foot, 225 pounds) ran for 1,480 yards and 10 touchdowns on 409 carries.
The Cowboys also worked out wide receivers Kris Durham, Tommy Streeter and B.J. Cunningham. Durham played for offensive coordinator Scott Linehan for two years with the Detroit Lions with his best season coming in 2013, when he caught 38 passes for 490 yards and two touchdowns. He caught four passes for 54 yards in a win against Dallas that year.
The Cowboys also worked out former Arkansas running back Ronnie Wingo Jr.
The Washington Redskins rank 153rd out of 333 international teams surveyed in an ESPN/SportingIntelligence report revealing the sports franchises that spend the most on their players.
The Redskins' average annual player salary is $2.1 million. The franchise’s total player payroll of $108.8 million ranks 49th.
Washington ranked 17th in the NFL in their spending per player, but the Redskins trailed only Philadelphia in the NFC East. New York was 157th while Dallas was 175th overall – only the New York Jets were lower among the NFL teams. The Cowboys spent $1.8 million per player, a 4.4 percent decrease over the previous season. The Cowboys, because of cap issues, had to let some players go and they didn’t have a lot of money to spend on free agents.
The Redskins rose five spots from a year ago, most likely due to not being handcuffed by any salary cap penalties. They were able to spend a little more, as they could this offseason as well, increasing their spending per player by 13.6 percent.
IRVING, Texas – Last December, the Dallas Cowboys moved ahead of the New York Yankees as the United States’ most valuable sports franchise at $3.2 billion, according to Forbes.
Maybe part of that value has to do with how much (or little) the Cowboys pay their players.
According to an ESPN/SportingIntelligence Global Salary Survey, the Cowboys check in at No. 175 out of 333 international teams ranked. The Cowboys were No. 73 in payroll ranking at $91.4 million.
While the Cowboys are among the most valuable franchises in the world, the salary cap keeps the Cowboys from testing the limits of some of the other high-valued franchises they are compared with: Real Madrid, Barcelona and the New York Yankees.
But among NFL teams in the survey, the Cowboys came in at No. 32 in average spent per player ($1.8 million). The only team that was lower than the Cowboys was the New York Jets (No. 176, $1.7 million).
The Miami Dolphins had the highest average payroll among NFL teams, spending $2.4 million per player.
The Eagles’ total payroll of $116.7 million is the 36th highest among the 333 teams. The average Eagles player’s salary is $2.2 million.
That is the same average as the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA. The Sixers, with their 12-man roster, finished with the third-worst record in the NBA last year. Their entire payroll of $30.9 million was a fraction of the Eagles’ payroll.
The report concluded that professional athletes in team sports will earn a staggering $17.94 billion this year. The players with the largest annual salaries were in European soccer as well as Major League Baseball. The Los Angeles Dodgers, with an average player salary of $8 million, were the most expensive team in American sports.
Because of the NFL’s roster size and team-friendly collective bargaining agreement, the highest ranking NFL team was the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins’ $2.3 million average salary ranked 124th among the 333 teams.
ASHBURN, Va. -- The speed off the edge didn’t wow anyone; it’s not Preston Smith's strength. So when he wants to pressure the passer, he turns to the advantages he does have: long arms, quick hands and power.
Smith, the Washington Redskins' second-round draft pick this year, will be expected to provide immediate help to the pass rush, whether with sack totals or just overall pressure. He runs fast for a big man (270 pounds), but his time of 4.74 seconds in the 40-yard dash was not considered fast for an outside linebacker.
However, if 40-yard dash times were the only pre-requisite for pass-rush success, then J.J. Watt (4.81 seconds) and Terrell Suggs (4.84 seconds) would not have done a whole lot. The key is to have other qualities, and that’s what the Redskins hope Smith possesses.
As fellow outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said, what matters to pass-rushers is this: “Taking the proper angle to the quarterback and learning how to use your hands and your hips well. If you can do that, you don’t have to have the fastest 40 time or the fastest takeoff. You just have to be a good technical pass-rusher.”
It’s what the Redskins liked about Trent Murphy before selecting him last year. Smith has long arms and, in college, showed quick hands -- especially when working as an inside pass-rusher over the center.
“I have long arms and big hands and it allows me to have a firm punch and create separation from me and the tackles,” Smith said. “It helps my pass rush by adding another element to my game.”
The Redskins plan to use Smith all over, along the line perhaps in some nickel packages, so having skills other than just speed will come in handy.
“A 40 time doesn’t relate to the pass rush,” Smith said. “It’s a different thing when you line up and then run as fast as you can for a certain distance. It’s like you’re running to nothing. When you rush the passer, it’s like you have a different mindset. You move a whole lot quicker than you do for a 40.”
Smith said he worked a lot on his hands in college, working them in tight spaces to replicate life as an inside rusher. His most effective rushes often came when lined up as a nose tackle in the nickel package. In those situations, he used moves that required strong, quick hands.
“It’s how you work under pressure and rushing inside,” Smith said. “It’s not like on the edge, where you have some space before you can work a move. It happens now. So rushing from the inside kind of kept me on my toes, how to use my hand so quick against those interior guys who are way stronger than tackles. Going against them helped my hand speed to get the strong guys off me.”
In college, Smith often couldn’t rush with the get-off he wanted. The elite pass-rushers in this draft often would be a full step ahead of their teammates after the snap. Smith, at most, would be a half-yard. But there were times he seemed more worried about aspects other than the rush, sometimes from facing too much zone-read action. He still recorded 15 tackles for a loss and nine sacks.
“I didn’t have a chance to show my speed,” Smith said. “You didn’t get to play with speed the way you wanted. You have to play slow. “People feel I’m not a good edge rusher, and I feel that hurt me. I can rush the edge and I can be effective on the edge.”
The Giants' average annual player salary is $2.1 million. The franchise's total player payroll of $109.8 million ranks 47th.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones said the Cowboys would keep their “eyes wide open” for running back help in the future.
Ben Tate, who has rushed for 2,363 yards on 540 carries in his four seasons with four teams, will work out for the Cowboys today at Valley Ranch, according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson.
It is an interesting move considering the faith the Cowboys have expressed in Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar and Ryan Williams. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said the Cowboys' running game will be better in 2015 than it was in 2014 when Murray led the NFL with 1,845 yards.
But Stephen Jones has made sure to leave the light on for possible additions at the position, consistently referring to the New England Patriots’ late-season addition of LeGarrette Blount.
“Just because this is our current group of running backs doesn’t mean it will stay that way,” Stephen Jones said after the draft. “We are always looking to improve our football team, we will continue to look to improve it, obviously, here with minicamps and OTAs and rookie minicamps and things of that nature. We’re going to get to see these guys a lot and at the same time we’ll keep our eyes wide open and look if there are opportunities to improve, not just at running back but other positions, and we’ll improve the team.”
Tate was a second-round pick of the Houston Texans in 2010 but missed his rookie season because of a broken ankle. His best year came in 2011 when he ran for 942 yards and four touchdowns on 175 carries.
He signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent in 2014 but did not care for the committee approach and was released in November. The Minnesota Vikings claimed him but released him after three games. The Pittsburgh Steelers signed him in the playoffs after losing Le'Veon Bell to an injury and he had 19 yards on five carries in the wild-card loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
There are two ways to look at this: The player acquisition business never ends, or the Cowboys are not as content with their runners as previously thought.
McFadden was signed early in free agency to a deal that included just $200,000 guaranteed. Coaches and teammates have noticed a more serious approach by Randle this offseason after two off-field incidents in the last nine months. Dunbar was tendered a deal as a restricted free agent worth $1.542 million, and Williams was given a $240,000 signing bonus to stay after spending last season on the practice squad.
Of the bunch, only McFadden has had a 1,000-yard season, but he has not averaged better than 3.4 yards a carry since 2011.
If the Cowboys add Tate, it might not end their running back search but it would crowd the competition.
The news broke Wednesday that New York Giants left tackle Will Beatty tore a pectoral muscle lifting weights this week and needed surgery that will sideline him until at least November. There was surely some predictable reaction from the Beatty-bashers among the Giants' fan base, some believing this to be addition by subtraction. But I'm here to tell you it's not.
The Giants will miss Beatty. For all his flaws, he has started their past 46 games, is a consistent performer in the run game and is the least to blame for Eli Manning's protection issues of anyone on the line. Look at it this way: Of the five starting offensive line spots, the only one about which there was no question before this week was left tackle, where the Giants were sure Beatty would be the starter. They don't know who's going to be the right tackle, who will play which guard spot or how Weston Richburg will handle the transition to center. Beatty was a known quantity at his position, and there's comfort in that.
So within that context -- that this May injury news is bad news for the Giants no matter how you slice it -- here are five quick thoughts on this news the day after it broke:
1. There's no obvious replacement on the roster. Yes, the Giants selected Miami tackle Ereck Flowers with the No. 9 pick in the NFL draft three weeks ago. But they did not do so with the idea that Flowers would be ready to play left tackle at the NFL level as a rookie. It may turn out he is, but before the draft he was viewed by many, including the Giants, as a long-term upside project whose technique and footwork in pass protection need refinement. They're likely OK starting him at right tackle or guard as a rookie, but it's a reach to assume he can step in at left tackle right away. Justin Pugh would be the next logical candidate, as a 2013 first-round pick who's been the starting right tackle the past two years. But much of the Giants' offseason focus has been on replacing Pugh at right tackle and moving him inside to guard, where he might be better suited.
2. It's likely too late to find a replacement from the outside. Some have suggested the Giants look at veteran Jake Long, who's still a free agent, but I've received no indication at any point this offseason that the Giants were interested in him. This could change things, but the oft-injured Long is no more perfect a solution than any they may have internally. This complicates the offensive line picture for training camp, and the Giants will spend a good portion of the next couple of months rearranging things to find Beatty's replacement and their best overall starting line combination.
3. A November return does seem realistic. Earlier in his career, Beatty had a justified reputation as a player who was slow to come back from injury. But he has answered the bell consistently for three years now, and his full recovery from a broken leg in time to start all 16 regular-season games in 2014 testifies to his commitment. If the projected recovery from the surgery he had this week is five to six months, then it's reasonable to think Beatty can hit that target.
4. This could conceivably affect Beatty's future with the team. Beatty is entering the third year of a five-year, $37.5 million contract. None of the money in the final two years is guaranteed, and the Giants can pocket more than $4 million in 2016 cap savings if they cut Beatty next offseason. That gives the team leverage if it wants to go to Beatty to rework his deal or take a pay cut after this season. With Manning, Jason Pierre-Paul and Prince Amukamara all set to hit free agency after this year, that money could come in handy. And if Pugh or Flowers does show an ability to handle the position while Beatty is out, it may be a sensible decision to move on.
5. Groundhog Day. Remember that middle linebacker Jon Beason injured his foot in a June minicamp last year and basically missed the whole season? Something in the water down there in East Rutherford this time of year? Be careful out there, guys.
But Lee then suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during the first organized team activity of the offseason and would be lost for the season. On July 1, 2014, the Cowboys made a trade for McClain, the former eighth overall pick of the 2010 draft, and he ended up being credited with 108 tackles in 12 games by Eberflus.
Now Eberflus has Lee and McClain available to him, giving him two playmakers that can help the Cowboys greatly improve their No. 19 overall defense ranking from 2014.
When the Cowboys start OTAs next week, Lee will be back on the field for team drills for the first time getting hurt but will be moving to weak-side linebacker. McClain, who will remain at middle linebacker, will be taking part in his first OTAs since 2012.
Eberflus doesn’t foresee any issue in Lee’s slight position switch.
“A few years back before we went to this defense he played Will linebacker,” Eberflus said of the Cowboys’ 3-4 scheme under Rob Ryan. “We were in a lot of under fronts and he was playing behind the three technique (defensive tackle) and you kind of saw what his capabilities were there. If you marry him to the three technique, he’s going to be more of a run and hit guy, and that’s where his instincts and natural abilities sort of lean that way. So he’ll be really successful at that position.”
Lee has yet to play a full season because of injuries but had 121 tackles in 11 games in 2013 before his season came to an end with a neck injury. He also led the Cowboys with four interceptions and had five tackles for loss, two quarterback pressures and six pass deflections.
The ball has a way of finding him, just as the ball had a way of finding McClain last season.
In addition to the 108 tackles, he had one sack, nine tackles for loss, five quarterback pressures, two interceptions, five pass deflections and a forced fumble. And he did so without the benefit of any offseason work. When he arrived for training camp, McClain had to work himself into physical and football condition.
Eberflus believes McClain’s work in the spring will make him better when the season starts.
“Just really the strength and conditioning part of it,” he said. “I think that’s the biggest thing and really getting a foundation of the calls and the fundamentals that we’re teaching here: how to take on a block, how to drop to a zone, how to set up on the quarterback and all of those things. Just being here, strength and conditioning, fundamentals, that’s only going to get better.”
PHILADELPHIA – With the Philadelphia Eagles proposing a rule change to make two-point conversions easier, a strange little misconception has taken on new life. That is, that Chip Kelly is gung-ho to go for two after scoring a touchdown.
In 2014, the Eagles scored 54 touchdowns. They attempted (and made) 54 point-after kicks. In 2013, Kelly’s first season in the NFL, the Eagles attempted a total of eight two-point conversions. They were successful three times.
That is a bit more willingness to try for two, but hardly the go-for-broke attitude that many expected to see from Kelly. His apparent desire to make the two-point conversion half as difficult – by moving the line of scrimmage from the 2- to the 1-yard line – will keep that false assumption alive.
It’s not clear where that assumption even came from. Kelly was known to try for two earlier in games at Oregon rather than sticking to the fourth quarter, like most coaches. But he simply didn’t do it all that often.
In 2012, Kelly’s last season at Oregon, the Ducks were 4-for-6 on two-point conversions. That’s right: The team scored 89 touchdowns that season and tried for two just six times. In 2011, Oregon scored 88 touchdowns. Kelly went for two after just seven of them and was successful five times. Things were about the same in 2010. The Ducks scored 81 touchdowns and went 7-for-8 on two-point conversions.
That’s a reasonable number of gambles on two-point conversions. It is hardly the stuff of some wild, common-wisdom-scoffing iconoclast.
But that’s how Kelly’s image has differed from the reality ever since he got to Philadelphia. His offense is innovative, but Kelly himself says he isn’t doing anything that offbeat or risky. He is deeply committed to running the ball, for example. Compared to Kelly, Andy Reid was an off-the-charts, pass-happy maniac.
In Philadelphia, with a reliable kicker (something he didn’t always have at Oregon), Kelly has been content to take the easy point and move on. If the NFL had approved the Eagles’ proposed rule change and made two-point conversions easier, maybe we would have seen a different approach from Kelly in 2015. Even from the 2-yard line, he might find it tempting to let Tim Tebow try for two occasionally.
But expecting Kelly to toss the coach’s manual out the window and do whatever strikes his fancy is a losing proposition. He hasn’t been nearly as unconventional as his reputation said he might be.
The Washington Redskins didn't want the new extra point rule, but based on history they're better off than most other teams, except when it comes to two-point conversions. The new rule goes into effect for this season and will be reviewed again next offseason. Washington was one of two teams to vote against the new rule (along with Oakland).
Regardless of their preference, it's a rule for this season, with the ball now being placed at the 15-yard line for extra points. Also, if teams return an interception, fumble or blocked kick to the other end zone, they will receive two points. The new rule does favor indoor teams. Here's what ESPN's Pat McManamon found when it came to the new distance and cold-weather games. And ESPN's Kevin Seifert doesn't think it'll change the game much at all.
Here's how the Redskins fared in these situations in the past 10 years:
Two-point conversions: They've converted 11 of 26, good for 42.3 percent. The league average during this period is 47.4 percent. (Last season, NFL teams converted 28-of-59 attempts).
Ten teams have attempted at least 15 two-pointers and converted 50 percent or better in the past decade -- topped by Chicago (17-for-20). But 11 teams have attempted that many and fallen short of 50 percent -- with seven of those teams not surpassing 40 percent.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III's ability to extend plays should work well if the Redskins attempt two-pointers. But the Redskins have converted just 2-of-5 two pointers with Griffin the past three seasons -- he ran for one and threw for one at Philadelphia in 2013. (They're 1-for-2 with Kirk Cousins; he scored on a quarterback draw vs. Baltimore in 2012). So it's far from a good chance. Will a bigger offensive line matter, providing more of a run-pass option? Only if bigger equals better.
32-33 yard kicks: This is the distance for the new extra points, which bodes well for the Redskins based on a small sample size. Of course, it only matters how Redskins kicker Kai Forbath is from this distance since he's the one now attempting the kicks. But over the past 10 years, Washington has made 15-of-16 field goals from this distance for 93.7 percent (the league average is 91.6 percent). Forbath has made 5-of-6 from this distance.
If there's a five-yard penalty: Let's say the Redskins have a false start and now must kick from five yards back (ADDED: teams do have the ability to change their minds about what they're going to do on the extra point if there is a penalty). Forbath has made 5-of-7 attempts between 37-40 yards in his three seasons (yes, the kick would be no longer than 38 yards, but I wanted to give a better feel for the overall range from this approximate distance). Both his misses occurred at home; four of his five successful kicks were on the road. Overall, the Redskins made 77.2 percent of their kicks from this range the past 10 years compared to the league average of 82.5.
Keep in mind that on extra points, kickers choose where they want the ball placed. That should increase the numbers, as Seifert's article pointed out.
If there's a 10-yard penalty: If a holding penalty negates the original extra point and pushes them 10 yards back, there will be a bigger impact on the success rate. It would turn an extra point into a 42- or 43-yard attempt. Forbath has been solid from this range in his career. On field goal attempts between 40-45 yards, he's made 12-of-13 attempts (92.3 percent; league average during the past three years is 83.6 percent and in the last 10 seasons it's 79.3). That's far from a gimme. It's better odds than a two-point conversion, but it could still prompt coaches to go for a two-pointer, especially if the weather conditions are bad.
The old distance: Forbath converted 97.8 percent of his extra points (90-for-92) the past three seasons. And, in the past 10 years, the Redskins missed six extra points (98.2 percent; league average 99.1).
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Within the first few minutes of his introductory news conference with the Dallas Cowboys, La'el Collins made a profound boast: "This is going to be the best offensive line in NFL history. Mark my words."
"That's not something that I personally am going to say," Frederick said Tuesday after taking some swings in Reliant's Home Run Derby at Globe Life Park, an annual Cowboys fundraiser. "I know that we have a long way to go to reach anything like that, you know? For us to come in and try and do what we want to do, and what that is is -- do as well as we did last year and continue to improve. But we have long way to go. We're just now grinding, trying to continue to work on technique and strength and speed, and hopefully we can have another good year.
Said Smith, "For us, it's just to do our part on the team and kind of work hard every day and just kind of be the hardest-working group on the team."
Call Collins' comments youthful exuberance or tremendous belief, but after the Cowboys took Smith with their first-round pick in 2011, he said his goal was to make the Hall of Fame.
A Pro Bowler the past three years, Smith may be on that kind of trip. Maybe over the next three years, Collins' statement will look more prescient than it does right now.
Collins was one of three linemen the Cowboys added during the draft process. They took Chaz Green in the third round and Laurence Gibson in the seventh, but Collins is the prize. He was viewed as a first-round talent before the draft, only to see his stock fall when he was sought for questioning by Baton Rouge, Louisiana, police in a murder investigation.
He has since been cleared, and the Cowboys were able to sign him to a three-year deal that included a $21,000 signing bonus and roughly $1.6 million guaranteed for the next three years.
Smith, Frederick and Martin were at the meeting with Collins at owner Jerry Jones' house.
"I think him and all the new guys, they're coming to work," Martin said. "Like we've always said, our group sets a very high standard for how we work, and they've come in and done that."
Although Frederick won't step out on the same limb as Collins, he did acknowledge the talent inside the offensive line room.
"A lot can be said about the guys that are there, but there's also a lot of times where talent goes wasted if it's not put to good use," Frederick said. "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. We have a long way to go, and we're going to continue to work and continue to try to get better."
Join us today at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) for an NFL Nation TV Spreecast Special as we chat with Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly and his daughter Erin. Both will be present to discuss Erin's new book "Kelly Tough: Live Courageously by Faith."
The book outlines not-so-public challenges of the former Buffalo Bills signal-caller's recent fight with cancer, and the family's strength and faith that helped him overcome the toughest opponent of his life.
As always, viewers are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions as well as contribute in the chat feature.