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2016 Cowboys Camp: What is the Team’s Weakest Position?

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Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Cowboys Camp: Weakest Position?

Yesterday, in Part Three of our Camp Preview Series, we talked about which position on the 2016 Cowboys roster was going to be the strongest. Naturally, it’s now time to ask…

What Will be the Weakest Position on the Team?

Cowboys Blog - Dallas Cowboys Defensive End Randy Gregory Suspended 4 GamesJess Haynie ( @CowboysAddicts ) – Even without the suspensions, defensive end would probably still be my pick. I feel good about DeMarcus Lawrence in his third year, given that he had seven sacks in the last eight games of 2015. Still, he’s going to miss four weeks and everyone behind him is unproven. The Randy Gregory news only adds to the drama and the concern. Thankfully (and sadly), Rod Marinelli is used to not getting much out of his defensive ends.

Kevin Brady ( @KevinBrady88 ) – Right defensive end. This one’s a no-brainer for me, especially since our weakest point on the entire defensive line will have to face off with (usually) the other team’s strongest point, their left tackle, each and every week. Randy Gregory was the projected week one starter here prior to his suspension, but now the position remains in purgatory as the Cowboys surf through rookies and unknowns looking for an answer. Benson Mayowa, Charles Tapper, and Ryan Russell seem to be the ones competing for the spot, and while I like all three of the players, I don’t know how ready to play they’ll be Week One of this season.

Cowboys Blog - Bitching Points: Kellen Moore, Jason Garrett, Tony Romo, Et Al. 1RJ Ochoa ( @RJOchoa ) – I’ve been vocal about the fact that the Cowboys have displayed a sense of arrogance when it comes to certain elements of 2016’s roster construction. They’ve completely dismissed the porous play from Kellen Moore that we saw in 2015 and are choosing to close their eyes, stick their fingers in their ears, and say “lalalala.” Dak Prescott is fine and dandy, but the backup quarterback crew is a dud.

Sean Martin ( @ShoreSportsNJ ) – While I am not as down as most about the overall situation the Cowboys find themselves in at defensive end, it still has to be considered their weakest position. Get as excited as you would like about Benson Mayowa, Ryan Russell, Jack Crawford, David Irving, and whoever else Rod Marinelli decides to throw on the edge, but the reality is that outside of DeMarcus Lawrence this team does not have a single pass rusher that has proven they can generate consistent pressure on the quarterback. In a league where games are so heavily determined by the passing game, that’s simply not good for a Cowboys team that wants to make a serious playoff run this season.

Brian Martin ( @bmart0204 ) – I think the defensive end position is probably the weakest, at least to start the season. The suspensions handed down to Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory really put the Cowboys defense in a tough situation. No one knows who will start at defensive end the first month of the 2016 season, and that’s why I believe it’s the weakest position right now. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli seems to get the best out of his players and he will have to work his magic once again with his defensive ends.

Cowboys Headlines - Is Dallas Done at Linebacker? 2

AP Photo/Brandon Wade

Bryson Treece ( @BrysonTreece ) – Linebackers. Even before Rolando McClain’s suspension the linebackers were a toss-up. Signing Justin Durant helps some, but he’s not going to be the difference alone. The top LBs are all risky. RoMac is suspended; Durant and Sean Lee are both injury prone. Anthony Hitchens didn’t improve much in 2015, and Damien Wilson got snubbed after New Orleans in 2015. Several young guys with a chance to step up, but stepping up hasn’t been a common sight on this defense the last several years. The lack of strength, and inability to stay healthy, are sores this team must face with or without the suspended players, and the situation on the line won’t be helped any by a lack of solid LB play. But I realize that I’m in the minority here.

Ian Koplowitz ( @BleedingTheStar ) – By bringing on Justin Durant, I think you can safely take the linebacker room out of consideration here. So having said that, you have to say that defensive end is the most questionable position heading into camp. Even with Demarcus Lawrence tallying 8 sacks last season, everyone after him is a question mark. In a league ruled by passing, arguably the most important aspect of playing defense is getting to the quarterback. If these defensive ends can’t find a way to do that, it could be a long year.

~ ~ ~

Here are the categories still to come this week…

Part One: Best Position Battle
Part Two: Biggest Name to be Cut
Part Three: Strongest Position
Favorite Dark Horse – Fri
Most Likely Starting Job Change – Sat

All of this, and much more, as Inside The Star helps get you ready for another season of Dallas Cowboys football!

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1 Comment
  • George Johnson

    RJ Ochoa: Lalalala. You must not have read or believe what the coaches have said about K Moore. You are letting your eyes deceive you or listening to the comments of many so called experts, because he looks like the equipment manager not an NFL QB and also has physical limitations for an NFL QB. The Dallas coaches who should be some of the best experts have said K Moore can play in the NFL. They have said he is smart/instinctive and knows how to play. They have said they think he will make a good backup for T Romo. They have said he can do things that can't be coached. A significant compliment that you don't hear about many QBs. They have said the receivers like playing with him and have confidence in him. They said his arm is not the strongest in the NFL but is STRONG ENOUGH. They have also said he makes up for not having the strongest arm with his accuracy, timing and uncanny anticipation. They said he played well in 2015 and moved the ball well but made two many mistakes. They expect him to improve on his mistakes. I would add his mistakes/deficiencies were uncharacteristic for K Moore, he was playing for the first time against first team defenses and he had limited reps to get ready to play, so yes I would agree he is likely to improve on his mistakes/deficiencies. I agree with you that the backup QB is a critical position on the roster but I don't think this is the Cowboys weakest position. I think you will start changing your mind about K Moore with his performances in preseason games. I also think if K Moore has to take over for T Romo, he can win some games and have good QB stats. One thing to keep in mind is K Moore has always played way better than anyone thinks he can play including the coaches. I think this has a lot to do with his QB smarts/instincts and outstanding pocket passing skills/abilities which shine in game situations but less in practice.

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Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Headlines - Forget the Triplets: Cowboys Need The Underrated to Shine in 2016
Ashley Landis / The Dallas Morning News

For better or worse, the Cowboys don’t even need to play football to be all over national TV. I guess it’s just part of being the one and only America’s Team. For the second consecutive week, Fox Sports had a Dallas Cowboys’ player on set for Fox’s “Undisputed.”

Just a week ago, Brice Butler made waves with some controversial comments that failed to make him look like a “great teammate.”

This time, Fox’s guest was Cowboys’ Cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Unlike Butler, I really think we should give Scandrick credit for being a very good teammate, and acting like one on his TV appearance.

Throughout the segment, it feels as if Orlando is being tricked into saying something against his teammates. Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe start bashing on Dez Bryant‘s performance and the fact that he should be replaced.

Of course, this is the kind of stuff fans in Cowboys Nation are thinking about. Heck, I really wouldn’t even mind if Dez isn’t wearing a star next season. However, I really disliked Butler’s comments when asked if he would’ve done a better job if given the same opportunities as Dez.

Scandrick’s responses were awesome though. When asked if he would defend Dez, he didn’t even hesitate.

“I don’t think he’s lost any confidence. He’s one of the most confident players I’ve ever been around. I think it can all be fixed. I think he just needs to get back to work and get back to the basics.” – Orlando Scandrick on Dez Bryant.

Scandrick also answered questions about what went wrong with the Cowboys this season by pointing out the fact they lost one of their best players because of a suspension, and some injuries. But he also said what’s been in our minds for a long time. When asked what was the biggest reason they struggled, he said some painful, yet truthful words: “We played some bad football against some very good teams.”

Later, he was asked about how Sean Lee’s absence affected the defense, he insisted they didn’t step up. At the end of the day, the NFL is a league in which you can’t be that dependent on a single player.

Sean Lee is an awesome player, but I think we’d all like to see this defense be a little less dependent on him.

Scandrick even had to defend Dak Prescott.

Dak was highly criticized after a sophomore season in which he struggled, alongside the entire team. But in the words of Orlando, we should “give him time.” Dak had a lot on his plate, but he made a lot of progress for the Cowboys.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Orlando Scandrick’s time in Dallas may be coming to an end, especially with young guys like Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis taking over. He’s signed through 2019, so who knows; maybe we see him wearing the star for a bit longer.

“It’s always a possibility.” – Orlando Scandrick on potentially not returning to Dallas next season.

Even still, it’s nice to see him support his football team and his friends on a show which featured a non-starting Cowboys’ wide receiver taking shots against his team. Orlando Scandrick deserves an applause.

Tell me what you think about “Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Dallas Cowboys

Should Cowboys Pursue Veteran Backup at Quarterback?

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys en Español: Cooper Rush
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys only have two quarterbacks under contract right now, starter Dak Prescott and backup Cooper Rush. With only three years of combined experience between them, one could argue that a veteran presence would be useful. Should Dallas make a veteran QB a free-agent priority in the 2018 offseason?

Of course, there’s plenty of other QB experience on the Cowboys staff. Head Coach Jason Garrett played professionally from 1989-2004, and started his coaching career with quarterbacks.

Scott Linehan has been coaching offense with an emphasis on the passing game for 30 years.

Kellen Moore, who is taking over for the departed Wade Wilson as quarterbacks coach, has played very recently and will bring a fresh perspective.

However, losing Wilson’s experience from the room, and the lack of any veteran player at QB, shouldn’t be dismissed.

Dak Prescott has said veteran Mark Sanchez — who was with Dallas in 2016 — was a major help during his whirlwind rookie season. Tony Romo enjoyed veteran advice from guys like Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, and Kyle Orton throughout his playing career.

This isn’t to say Dallas would want to bring in a veteran to knock Cooper Rush down the depth chart. After a surprising preseason, Rush took the backup job from Kellen Moore and certainly has intriguing upside.

If the Cowboys were to add a veteran, that player would have to come in with the understanding he’s competing with Cooper and may not be guaranteed a job.

The good news is that it’ll be a buyer’s market for veteran quarterbacks this offseason.

Guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, and Matt Moore could all be available. Even a player with more pedigree, such as Sam Bradford, may have trouble finding starting work with many jobs taken among the NFL’s 32 teams.

Dallas could even consider bringing back Mark Sanchez, given his previous relationship with Dak Prescott. He only had a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

Given Prescott’s seeming durability, Dallas will likely only keep two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in 2018 and for years to come. Because of that, they may be content to focus on Dak and Cooper Rush, and just get through the offseason with training camp bodies.

However, the case can certainly be made for adding another veteran player with the desire to teach to help these young quarterbacks develop. Prescott was not the same guy in 2017 that we saw as a rookie, and perhaps the absence of guys like Sanchez and Tony on the sideline had something to do with that.

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Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal is a Good Hire for Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal Is A Good Hire For Cowboys

Yesterday, it was announced that the Dallas Cowboys will hire Sanjay Lal to be their new wide receivers coach. Lal spent 2017 with the Indianapolis Colts in the same position, but has made multiple stops around the NFL prior to joining the Cowboys staff.

Most recently and arguably most notably, Sanjay Lal was the receivers coach for both the New York Jets (2012-2014) and the Buffalo Bills (2015-2016). This means he coached on Rex Ryan’s staff for two different teams, with two very similar offensive philosophies.

Run the football.

As seen in the video below, Sanjay Lal has experience working as the wide outs coach for an offense with a run-first philosophy. He even says himself that their offense in New York was “ground and pound,” but notes that “without a pass game there’s no pound.”

Cowboys fans became all too familiar with the truth behind that statement during the 2017 season, as even solid efforts in the run game were rendered meaningless by their lack of explosion through the air.

Jets Nation Inside Camp: Sanjay Lal Mic’d Up

Jets wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal is mic’d up during training camp, and also discusses trying to play pro football before becoming a coach in the NFL.

A lot has been made of Sanjay Lal’s lack of 1,000-yard receivers during his time as a coach. The offensive philosophies of the teams which he coached for, however, show why this criticism is flimsy.

It’s quite possible the Cowboys will once again be without a 1,000 yard pass catcher this season, but if Ezekiel Elliott and the run game are clicking, and Dak Prescott is spreading the ball to different targets, this stat won’t mean a thing.

Lal was also the coach in Buffalo when Sammy Watkins had the best years of his career, including a 1,000-yard season.

During that stint he coached Robert Woods to productive seasons as well. Now Woods is a dangerous target for the Los Angeles Rams after being coached by Lal for multiple seasons.

These were also the same years that quarterback Tyrod Taylor was at his best.

While in New York, with the Jets, Lal’s most productive receiver was Jeremy Kerley, who finished with 827 yards in 2012 and 523 in 2013. What’s important to note here is that Kerley played as a slot receiver for much of his time as a Jet.

The Cowboys lacked any type of production from the slot in 2017, but maybe Lal can change that by getting the best out of Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer, as he did with Kerley.

Bryan Broaddus on Twitter

Know that some believe he had a real shot to be an OC in this league one day. https://t.co/1s21w2jZGR

All indications from those “in the know” suggest Sanjay Lal is on his way to becoming an offensive coordinator soon. Many believe he has the smarts and the football IQ to command an offense himself, as soon as he gets the right opportunity.

Maybe that opportunity will come down the line in Dallas, where he can continue to coach within that “ground and pound” style, which he has done for many years while also implementing elements of his own passing game expertise.

Everyone has been critical of the Cowboys’ inability to bring in external hires, and to spark up new/creative offensive ideas. Lal has spent time among some of the smartest offensive minds in football.

Maybe he’s the man to bring in that outside creativity this offense seems to lack.

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