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Jerry Jones questioning lack of success after 3rd consecutive loss

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CHICAGO — Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones did not make any proclamations about changes to Jason Garrett’s job status after Thursday’s 31-24 loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, but he did question why the roster is not producing results.

“These guys are mentally OK for me and all these guys are talented enough for me, so that’s good,” Jones said. “I’m questioning how to put together a coordinated one that complements each other, how to put together a team that can win a football game. … We’re not collectively getting together as a team and doing the things it takes to win ballgames.”

Instead, at 6-7, the Cowboys are mired in their second three-game losing streak of the season, despite a mostly healthy roster.

“It’s leveled out here. It’s losing, losing, losing. I’m not trying to be funny here but the point is we’ve got to win a football game,” Jones said. “I don’t care what the standings are, what the numbers are. We had thought that we could come up here and play a good team, play a fine football game and get our act to where we’re starting to look like a team that could — if we by the slim chance get in the playoffs — where we could win. We can’t do that until we play and start winning the football games and we’ve got three more to play. When we do that, we can go.”

Thursday’s loss was a disillusionment. After driving 75 yards on 17 play on their first drive for a touchdown, the offense stalled until the fourth quarter when the game was out of hand. The defense forced a takeaway for the first time in four games on the opening possession, but gave up scores on the next four possessions in the first half.

The Cowboys scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to close the gap but that did not impress Jones.

“We know that the score didn’t indicate how bad they beat us tonight,” Jones said.

Garrett’s job security has been an issue since the opening of training camp since he does not have a contract past 2019 and will continue to be a bigger topic in the final three weeks.

Garrett said he believes the players are still buying in.

“I just see how they come to work every day,” Garrett said. “I see how they practice and unfortunately we didn’t carry the practice work to the game.”

Nor did Garrett see any players quit.

“I don’t believe that,” the coach said.

The Cowboys will remain in first place in the NFC East even if Philadelphia beats the New York Giants on Monday based off their October win against their division rival, but this was a season that was supposed to be about more than making the playoffs.

Now Jones does not care if the Cowboys finish 7-9 or 8-8 and make the postseason.

“Are you asking me if I would take the division and go to the playoffs, if we got in on any basis? The answer is yes. Absolutely yes,” Jones said. “Acceptable? I don’t know. Not if we’re not playing good but if we’re playing a lot better than we played tonight, I’ll take getting in. (Are) you talking about getting in the playoffs? Well, yes, I would on any basis. I realize if we don’t play better in the last (three games) than we looked tonight than that’s tough to thinking about having success in the playoffs, but your goal, the first goal is to get to the playoffs.”

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Mike Zimmer, restructured Vikings switch focus, hire co-defensive coordinators, including his son

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings announced a handful of changes to their coaching staff.

Adam Zimmer, coach Mike Zimmer’s son, and Andre Patterson were named co-defensive coordinators Monday and will take over the position held by George Edwards for the past six seasons. Edwards’ contract expired at the end of the season and he was hired by the Dallas Cowboys as a senior defensive assistant last week.

Additionally, Minnesota officially announced Gary Kubiak as its next offensive coordinator after he served as the team’s assistant head coach/offensive adviser upon being hired last season. The change was made last week following the departure of Kevin Stefanski for the Browns head-coaching vacancy.

The Vikings reshuffled other parts of the coaching staff, promoting Andrew Janocko to wide receivers coach and hiring Daronte Jones from Cincinnati as the defensive backs coach and Phil Rauscher from Washington as the assistant offensive line coach. Janocko had served in that role since 2017.

Mike Zimmer has called defensive plays for the Vikings since he was hired in 2014, and it’s unclear how play-calling duties will be divided between the two co-defensive coordinators should the head coach opt to hand off the responsibility for 2020. Adam Zimmer will still oversee the Vikings’ linebackers in his new role, while Patterson will continue to lead the defensive line, a role he’s held since re-joining the franchise six years ago.

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Ex-Browns coach Freddie Kitchens joins Giants as tight ends coach, source says

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Former Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens is joining the New York Giants as their tight ends coach, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Kitchens’ hiring is a move that has been in the works for several weeks, ever since he was fired after a 6-10 season and the Giants named Joe Judge their head coach. In 2004 and ’05, Judge and Kitchens were together at Mississippi State, where Judge was first a player and then a graduate assistant.

Kitchens was the Bulldogs’ tight ends coach in 2004.

“Ultimately, you want to work with guys you have relationships with, professionally and personally,” Judge said last week. “You know what to expect.”

The news of Kitchens joining the Giants was first reported by Fox Sports.

Kitchens is the latest addition to the staff to have head-coaching experience. This could prove valuable considering Judge has never been a head coach at any level.

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and Kitchens have been head coaches in the NFL. Garrett had a nine-year stint with the Dallas Cowboys that ended after this season. Kitchens spent one turbulent season in charge of the Browns but has a long history of working with tight ends. He coached tight ends at Mississippi State and for the Cowboys (2006) and the Arizona Cardinals (2007-12).

Outside linebackers coach Bret Bielema and offensive assistant Derek Dooley have also been head coaches, at the college level; Bielema at Wisconsin and Arkansas and Dooley at Louisiana Tech and Tennessee.

Kitchens, who originally came to Cleveland as a running backs coach, took over as offensive coordinator midway through the 2018 season after head coach Hue Jackson was fired. With Kitchens calling plays, quarterback Baker Mayfield thrived and went on to break the NFL rookie record with 27 touchdown passes.

The offensive surge in the second half, propelling the Browns to a 7-8-1 finish, prompted former Browns general manager John Dorsey to make Kitchens his first head-coaching hire in Cleveland, even though Kitchens had never been a head coach at any level. Although the Browns hadn’t won their division in 30 years, expectations for Cleveland ballooned even higher when Dorsey traded for All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. from the Giants in the spring.

But with Kitchens still calling plays, the offense never found a groove. Mayfield threw 21 interceptions, the offensive line struggled to protect him, and star wideouts Beckham and Jarvis Landry battled nagging hip injuries.

Cleveland ranked just 22nd in offensive efficiency and scored more than 30 points only twice all season. Meanwhile, without suspended star edge rusher Myles Garrett, the Browns’ defense crumbled down the stretch, surrendering at least 30 points in each of the final three games.

After a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals to close out the year, Kitchens admitted this season failed to meet expectations.

“Six and 10 is not even remotely good enough,” he said. “We’re not running an operation here to try to be 6-10.”

ESPN’s Jake Trotter contributed to this report.

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Several NFL teams, including Bears, see Twitter feeds hacked

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The official Twitter accounts of nearly half the NFL’s teams were apparently hacked Sunday and Monday, as the world turns its attention to Super Bowl LIV in Miami. The league’s own Twitter account was apparently hacked as well.

The Chicago Bears‘ Twitter account was the first to begin displaying messages Sunday from a hacker group that called itself “OurMine.” One of the messages said the hack was to announce that “we’re back” as well as to “show people that everything is hackable.”

Similar messages appeared on the other team feeds as well as the NFL’s. A tweet still posted to the Green Bay Packers‘ account as of mid-afternoon Monday read: “Hi, we’re Back (OurMine). We are here to show people that everything is hackable.” It then provided an email for information on how to “improve your accounts security.”

The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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