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2016 Cowboys: An Exercise in Psychological Team Building

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Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Cowboys: Psychological Team Building

Hello friends! It's been a while! I missed every single one of you... I promise! Even though I haven't written in quite some time, you best believe my mind has been churning out ideas. Most importantly, on the topic of psychological team building.

There are a lot of things we think about when considering what a championship team consists of. How many times have we seen these "super teams" built, not even just in football, and then you see them fall flat?

Most people would say you need all this great talent on your team, right? That is absolutely true.

You need a quarterback that can at least be a bus driver (I would have said you need great QB play until Peyton Manning won it all last year). Talent on both ends of the ball is a must. You need a part of your team that is unstoppable, whether that be a defensive line that can't be stopped, a secondary that is impenetrable, a running game that gashes, etc.

You can build a team filled with elite players, but that doesn't guarantee success. At the end of the day, a major piece of the puzzle that is missing is the psychological aspect to football, and sports in general.

As fans, we tend to separate the human aspect from the players we are watching. We are all guilty of this. It's hard to see these people as actual human beings, rather than football-playing robots. Do human beings get tired? Have they tried to cut corners? Do human beings get lazy? Are human beings capable of giving their all at all times?

 

Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Cowboys: Psychological Team Building 3

DeMarco Murray takes oxygen on the Cowboys sideline

 

For us to think that every single player has it in them to go max-effort every single play of a game is simply naive.

There are 22 players on the field at a given time. Fifty-three players fill up a locker room. Are we really thinking that every single one of them is a high motor, high energy, fiery spirited person that gives their all at all times?

Not to mention, people get tired and when they get tired, these characteristics show up even more.

Now let's get to how it relates to the Cowboys.

The Dallas Cowboys and Team Psychology

For example, let's think about Rolando McClain...

We all know there are plays where you can tell Rolando McClain is either gassed, injured or he is saving up/recuperating energy. You can see when this happens. (Disclaimer: I'm not trying to call out McClain, but he is a great example for this.)

Now, let's also think about Tyrone Crawford last season. Tyrone Crawford played a large portion of last season with a rotator cuff issue.

Now, if Tyrone Crawford chooses a play where he is going to give max effort and he helps clear Rolando McClain for an easy tackle, but McClain is not giving max effort, how does that affect the team as a whole?

 

Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Cowboys: Psychological Team Building 2

 

Crawford thinks he just gave his all for nothing, despite the injury he is playing with. McClain knows he missed out on an opportunity. On the next play, McClain gives his all and Crawford is easing up a bit.

This is just an example to try to get people to humanize athletes a little more. It makes sense to think that this sort of thing happens. It's impossible to get everyone playing 100% for every snap of a game.

These things will happen, but it is a matter of minimizing them and making sure you have enough high energy players giving max effort as often as possible.

This is why I believe these super teams are never a slam dunk. When you combine top-tier athletes together, they may not all play at 100%, thinking someone else will make that huge play and they can relax a bit.

How can you counter natural human elements?

Having Orlando Scandrick back in 2016 will be HUGE.

This team plays differently when he is on the field. What Dez Bryant brings to the offense, Orlando Scandrick brings to the defense. This is a player who plays at such a high energy level that he makes everyone else around him play up to his level.

 

Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Cowboys: Psychological Team Building 1

Orlando Scandrick brings a whole new element to the Cowboys defense

 

He talks a lot, he's flashy, and he flies around all over the field. It's hard to take plays off when you have that guy energizing you.

With all the youth that this team has, and all the players fighting for a place in the NFL, you get players that should be giving everything that they have. These players are trying to make themselves some money. There is a lot of hunger there.

When you combine youth, hunger, talent and energy, you get the most out of your team. When you hear the term "high motor," that is getting toward what I'm talking about.

If you're an NFL player, chances are there is talent there. Everyone has a particular skill that is very good, at a minimum. Get everyone playing as hard as they can and you're really harvesting something.

I think this is something that Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots do really well.

How many times have people counted out areas of the Patriots team only to feel stupid in the end?

I often question how a guy like Malcolm Butler goes from a nobody to their shutdown corner in no time. Well, it's because Belichick not only knows how to put his players in positions for them to succeed, but he makes every guy bring his all.

2014 Dallas Cowboys: A Perfect Example

The 2014 Dallas Cowboys were a phenomenal example of what energy and effort can do.

Everyone thought that defense would be historically bad. But, they weren't nearly as bad as everyone expected, despite having practically no big-name talent on it.

What they had were a bunch of young nobodies that were playing as hard as they could together as a unit. Jon Gruden called them the "UFO" defense. A bunch of unidentified flying objects, because they were nobodies who just flew all over the field.

The 2016 team is clearly going for the same identity. They need the offense to control the clock and put up points like it has for the duration of Tony Romo's existence.

The defense... well, they will be a bunch of guys looking to make names for themselves, prove people wrong, and make themselves some serious money.



I've been blogging about sports and music for almost eight years now. I also work in media relations for a New York sports team, so I understand the bridge between the outlets writing about a team and the team monitoring content. I hope to bring something new to Inside The Star, getting deep into draft work, breakdowns and I always come with a strong and passionate opinion. I'm very active on Twitter, so ask questions, comment on stuff, etc. and I will almost definitely respond to you in some sort of debate!

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BREAKING: Ezekiel Elliott Handcuffed After Incident with Security Guard

Jess Haynie

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No Preseason Work Hurt Ezekiel Elliott's Early Season Production?

TMZ has released footage of Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott being handcuffed and escorted by police after an altercation with security at a Las Vegas music festival over the weekend.

Elliott was not arrested and no charges have been filed.

ProFootballTalk on Twitter

Ezekiel Elliott handcuffed but not charged after incident at Las Vegas music festival https://t.co/NJQ6csGgnv

The video shows Zeke engaged in what appears to be an argument with a female companion. Elliott is seen following her through the crowd, and then security starts to get involved after Zeke moves his body to block her from walking away.

One of the security guards says something that attracts Elliott's attention, causing him to move in closer. The guard falls backward from minimal contact. It as soon after that police get involved.

There isn't much here that would cause trouble for the average player, but that's hardly Elliott's situation. He's one of the most prolific stars in the NFL and already has history with the league for domestic violence and personal conduct issues.

Remember, no charges were filed when the NFL gave Elliott a six-game suspension in 2017 after accusations from an ex-girlfriend of domestic violence.

We will have to wait and see how Roger Goodell chooses to treat this latest issue.



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Ezekiel Elliott ‘Excited’ About Dallas Cowboys ‘Promise’ in 2019

John Williams

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Dallas Cowboys Still Plagued by Red Zone Struggles

There's a lot to look forward to as the team gears up for offseason training activities and minicamp. The 2019 Dallas Cowboys look like a potential contender in the NFC after making it to the divisional round of the playoffs before falling to the NFC representative Los Angeles Rams by a score.

The offseason additions the team has made in addition to the draft have many in Cowboys Nation excited about the Dallas Cowboys heading into the 2019 season. That includes Running Back Ezekiel Elliott.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Ezekiel Elliott: "I'm just excited about the group of guys we have. I'm excited about the talent we have on this team. I'm excited about the leadership group we have. I think we have a lot of the right pieces. I think we have a lot of promise for this season.

I think the Cowboys are right to be optimistic about their team heading into the season. They had one of the top 10 defenses in the NFL and an offense that was trending in the right direction over the last half of 2018.

On both the offensive and defensive side of the football the Dallas Cowboys have gotten better as a team.

The offense sees the return of Travis Frederick to the middle of the offensive line and though Joe Looney was good, he's no Travis Frederick. Frederick's return will improve communication along the offensive line and improve their run blocking up the middle; an area where the Cowboys struggled with consistency in 2018.

Another veteran returning to the Cowboys for 2019 is Tight End Jason Witten. Though he's slowed down some at 38 years old, having his leadership and veteran presence on a team attempting to make a deep playoff run is very important. Witten's as steady a player as has been in the NFL and should still be able to make plays in the run and pass game.

The additions of Randall Cobb and Tony Pollard give the Dallas Cowboys a more versatile group of players for new Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore to toy with. This versatility will allow them to keep teams off balance. With Randall Cobb, the Cowboys will be able to move Amari Cooper around the formation in order to find favorable matchups in the passing game. Tony Pollard gives the Cowboys a durable gadget option and big-play threat in the run and pass game. Pollard's ability as a returner could help the Cowboys get more favorable field position in 2019.

Ezekiel Elliott himself stands to benefit a great deal from the additions and changes the Cowboys made to the offense. Pollard is an upgrade as a running back to Rod Smith, so the Cowboys can cut Ezekiel Elliott's workload a little and keep him fresh by expanding on the two series a game the coaching staff used to give Smith.

On defense, they added Robert Quinn to a defensive line that already boasts one All-Pro pass rusher in DeMarcus Lawrence. Christian Covington, Kerry Hyder, and Trysten Hill provide depth to an interior that struggled against the Rams in the playoffs and the Indianapolis Colts during the regular season. The defensive line.

In addition to all that, the Cowboys will get to see what kind of progress their 2018 rookie standouts make in year two.

Leighton Vander Esch was a second-team All-Pro in 2018 and should have won defensive rookie of the year with his play. Connor Williams looks to have gained the necessary size and strength to play left guard in the NFL. A second offseason at guard should help him to improve at his new position. Michael Gallup was a revelation in the third round of the draft last year. After slowly being worked into the lineup over the first half of the season, he emerged as the Dallas Cowboys second wide receiver.

The NFC East and the NFC is a tough place to play. Every year, it's an uphill climb to win enough games to win the division or make the playoffs, but the Cowboys have put themselves in a fantastic position to do just that. Though no team has been a repeat winner of the NFC East since the early 2000s, the Dallas Cowboys have built a team that will be able to compete with any team in the NFL.

From the roster to the coaching staff, the Dallas Cowboys have built a squad that should get anyone excited. Are there questions as the team heads to training camp? Of course. But every team has questions at one position or another. The Cowboys have done an excellent job to minimize those questions through free agency and the draft and have one of the best teams in the NFL on paper.

The excitement that Ezekiel Elliott feels is warranted. The Dallas Cowboys do have a lot of promise as we look ahead. Now as they get ready to start ramping up practices, it's time for Elliott and the rest of the team to go prove it.

And I have a feeling they'll live up to that "promise."



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DT Leonard Williams May be Available, Should the Cowboys Explore a Trade?

John Williams

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DT Leonard Williams May be Available, Should the Cowboys Explore a Trade?

Per a report by Rich Cimini of ESPN, the New York Jets may be exploring a trade for their star defensive lineman Leonard Williams. With Williams set to hit free agency in 2020, the theory is the Jets may not be interested in locking up Williams long-term after just drafting Quinnen Williams with their top five selection in 2019.

Here's what Cimini had to say in his report:

"There's already talk in league circles that Gase could be looking to move on from Williams, who will be a free agent after the season. He's due to make a guaranteed $14.2 million in the final year of his contract. Gase hasn't said anything about Williams that would spark speculation, but it's not hard to connect the dots when examining the defensive line situation."

Rich Cimini - ESPN.com

Williams has been a really good player for the New York Jets who has played 3-4 defensive end and some defensive tackle for the Jets in his four-year career. A former sixth overall pick has had as many as seven sacks and as few as two sacks a season, but he's played in all 64 games in his career, starting 63. He's stayed healthy and been productive on a Jets defense that hasn't been very good over the last few years.

Defense & Fumbles Table
Game Def Def Def Def Def Fumb Fumb Fumb Tack Tack Tack Tack Tack
Year Tm GS Int Yds TD Lng PD FF Fmb FR Sk Comb Solo Ast TFL QBHits
2015 NYJ 15 3.0 63 29 34 7 21
2016* NYJ 16 2 0 0 7.0 68 36 32 11 19
2017 NYJ 16 1 6 0 6 1 2.0 47 22 25 3 25
2018 NYJ 16 0 0 0 0 2 5.0 42 27 15 11 20
Care 63 1 6 0 6 3 2 0 0 17.0 220 114 106 32 85
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/20/2019.

For the Cowboys defense, he would project as a 3-technique with the ability to be the Cowboys 1-technique in passing situations. Among interior defensive lineman, Leonard Williams finished 21st in run stops per Pro Football Focus and sixth in total pressures with 53. Williams was third among interior players in QB hits with 16 ahead of Kansas City Chiefs Defensive Lineman Chris Jones and Seattle Seahawks Defensive Tackle Jarran Reed. For reference, DeMarcus Lawrence had 63 total pressures and 11 QB hits in 2018, while Tyrone Crawford had only 37 total pressures.

The Dallas Cowboys have been working to reinforce their defensive line this offseason after struggling in the playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams when the Cowboys gave up over 200 yards rushing. Though they like Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins, they obviously weren't satisfied with the going into 2019 with just those two in the Dallas interior.

In free agency, the Cowboys added Christian Covington and Kerry Hyder and then drafted Trysten Hill with their second-round pick. They also added Daniel Wise, a player that was seen as a fourth or fifth rounder in most people's minds as an undrafted free agent and will compete for a roster spot.

As intriguing as Covington, Hyder, Hill, and Wise are in addition to Maliek Collins and Woods, Williams would be an immediate upgrade at 3-tech and the Dallas Cowboys should explore it, even if they don't plan on resigning him beyond 2019.

The Cowboys could swap expiring contracts by sending Maliek Collins to New York and a draft pick. Collins is unlikely to be resigned by the team in the 2020 offseason as they have plans for Hill as their 3-tech of the future.

The Dallas Cowboys showed with the trade for Robert Quinn that they're alright going after the one-year rental player. Leonard Williams would make their defense better for 2019 and while they have high hopes for Trysten Hill, Williams is a known asset right now and wouldn't prevent you from giving Hill snaps at 3-tech.

For a team hoping to make a Super Bowl run, adding a player like Leonard Williams makes a lot of sense. He's another disruptive player that would immediately improve your pass rush and also helps your run defense. The Dallas Cowboys have a team ready to win now, so now's the time to go get players that help you do so.



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