[pull_quote_right]Yeah it was a pretty scary situation my freshman year. I didn't know what was going on. It came really quick, you know.[/pull_quote_right]On April 19, 2015, recently signed linebacker of the Dallas Cowboys, Andrew Gachkar sat down with Bobby, Jared and Josh on Cowboys Cast to talk a little about his life before signing with Dallas and his role moving forward.
If you haven't listened to the show yet, you can find it at listen.cowboyscast.com/ep2
Bobby (@SportsByDallas): Andrew, How are you doing, man?
Andrew (@theGACH): I'm doing good. I'm having a good Sunday, and I'm on my way back down to Dallas right now to get started for the first day of me being a Cowboy.
Bobby (@SportsByDallas): Wow, that's great. So you're coming from San Diego and this is I think the most crucial question to see how Cowboys Nation receives you. So coming from San Diego, into Dallas, Whataburger or In-N-Out?
Andrew (@theGACH): You know what? I have tweeted about Whataburger, and I do like Whataburger, but I also like In-N-Out. But I honestly would choose Smash Burger.
Bobby (@SportsByDallas): Oh! There you go. Smash Burger's a good call. We've got former Cowboys running a bunch of those franchises out here, actually. Leonard Davis, Colombo and a couple of other guys.
So let's jump right into this. In the discussions you had with the team leading up to this point, what's your understanding of your role heading into this season? You know, from your time in San Diego you had special teams proficiency, but are you coming in here looking to fight for one of the starting linebacker spots or what's your understanding of what's coming into 2015?
Andrew (@theGACH): Oh, absolutely! I did a good job playing linebacker last year and speaking with the team, I think my role is definitely to find my niche in the linebacking core. They're gonna give me, I'm sure, every opportunity to try and fight for a starting role. Where that is, I'm not sure yet.
Obviously, with Rich Bisaccia I definitely have a role in the special teams game and that's kind of where I started my NFL career off but, definitely I'm gonna be fighting for a starting role on defense.
If not there then maybe a nickel situation like I was with the Chargers. Wherever I can find my spot is where I want to help the team, honestly. That's really the main goal is giving the team exactly what my best abilities are to help them win.
Josh (@JoshWingate_302): Let's say May 1, Dallas is looking at a second round, and they pick a linebacker the first round, does that change your mentality for the 2015/2016 seasons?
Andrew (@theGACH): It doesn't change my mentality at all. I mean, you come in prepared, you know. Rookies aren't always ready to play or an injury happens here and the entire season completely changes, you know what I mean? So, I'll always be prepared. I mean that's always been my role the last four years. Just be prepared, be ready.
That's what happened to me last year. We got to about game three and then from then on I played the entire season. So, however it works out, it works out. I'm just excited for the opportunity to be a Dallas Cowboy, and I keep getting better at my position and I'm excited to show the fans exactly how I can play.
Jared (@Jared_Katz30): Hey Gach. So we know that Dallas jumped on you fairly quickly in free agency so did you really get a chance to talk with any other teams, or were you looking to come to Dallas right away?
What was that whole process like for you?
Andrew (@theGACH): I think me and my wife knew in the beginning that Dallas was definitely going to be one of the areas we wanted to go to. We definitely had five or six other teams that would like me there.
It came down basically in the end to New England and Dallas and with the same offers on the table, we really felt like Dallas was gonna be a good fit for us. My wife being from Dallas and a couple of coaches on the staff and already knowing them; It was really gonna be a good fit for me.
Bobby (@SportsByDallas): Now there is one thing that Cowboys fans already, without having seen you play a snap with a star on your helmet yet, there's one thing Cowboys fans can know for sure about you Andrew, and that's you're one tough son of a gun.
Alright, it takes real toughness to play on a special teams unit to begin with, but it's also pretty incredible that you managed to continue your football career after a pretty serious health scare your freshman year at Missouri.
Can you talk about what happened there and your process of recovery just to get back to playing football at Missouri, much less make it to the NFL?
Andrew (@theGACH): Yeah it was a pretty scary situation my freshman year. I didn't know what was going on. It came really quick, you know. I was playing some basketball one day and I just, later that afternoon I'm in the hospital for a good month after that and had a bunch of surgeries and it wasn't fun.
Coaches seeing me afterwards, being like 180lbs, not ever thinking I'd... Not playing football was in the question. We had no idea.
So it was definitely a life changing experience but then I actually came back later that year - probably six months later - and it wasn't the season I exactly wanted, you know. But I eventually got over it and moved on from the situation.
Josh (@JoshWingate_302): I heard you have a newborn and how much Red Bull are you drinking so far?
Andrew (@theGACH): I got a lot of time off right now, so it's not too bad. She's actually a really good baby. She sleeps throughout the night and she doesn't cry that much. She may have like one period a day where she's crying...
Bobby (@SportsByDallas): You're a lucky man, Andrew.
Andrew (@theGACH): I'm pretty lucky. Yeah, I think we are.
Jared (@Jared_Katz30): Obviously we have to ask you the big draft question: who would you take first overall between Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, if you were the Buccaneers?
Andrew (@theGACH): I guess if I'm the Bucs, I'd probably take Jameis Winston. But I guess I can't say that I'm too convinced on that.
I'm not a draft expert or anything like that but if I had to say, he's probably the most pro-ready looking quarterback out of them. But I'm not sure how ready quarterbacks are coming out of college anyway, so good luck to them, I guess. I don't really know.
Jared (@Jared_Katz30): Good point.
Bobby (@SportsByDallas): Well here, let's jump on something a little bit different.
I know just from checking your Twitter and following you on there, and for those of you who want to go follow him it's @theGACH - I know from following you there, you seem to be a pretty big avid TV watcher during the offseason.
So what are you and the wife watching right now?
Andrew (@theGACH): Yeah, we are. We've been keeping up all of our... I mean, every show we watch usually is on Netflix. Couple of weeks ago we finished out the (House of) Cards season and we keep up with our Scandal every episode. Now we're just starting the Game of Thrones back up. We're big fans of Homeland too.
Andrew (@theGACH): Not this season, no. We kind of put that on hold because we're moving and stuff.
What's your game day playlist sound like, Andrew; what do you listen to to get pumped up before a game?
Andrew (@theGACH): I'm a little weird, I guess. I don't listen to that much music before games. I'm more of a levity guy. I'm telling jokes and stuff in the locker room and I'm keeping it real light. That's kind of how I am. I used to - back in high school - be banging my head against lockers listening to music and stuff but then I figure, you know what? You're just wasting energy. Just save it for the game.
Bobby (@SportsByDallas): So then I guess it's just the thought of being able to throw Eli Manning to the ground that's enough to get you pumped up? You don't need to worry about music.
Andrew (@theGACH): Exactly. I like to be loose, and then get serious once that game starts. I mean I'll listen to what everyone has in the locker room but I'm not picky. I'm more of a country guy anyway and most of the time they're not...
Bobby (@SportsByDallas): Hey, well that'll fit here, man.
Jared (@Jared_Katz30): Sure will.
Josh (@JoshWingate_302): What kind of music do you listen to, as far as country... who's your artist right now?
Andrew (@theGACH): Well I got Florida Georgia Line on in the car right now. Well, it's kind of on silent but I'm more of a today's country kind of thing. My wife turned me on to it about ten years ago anyways.
But yeah, I like Blake Shelton and stuff like that.
Bobby (@SportsByDallas): You sound like you got a great wife, man. She's from Dallas. She's getting you turned on to the right music already. I think you've got a keeper there.
Andrew (@theGACH): Oh yeah, she's pretty special.
Bobby (@SportsByDallas): Andrew, we've just about got a few seconds left here, but I know everybody in Dallas is really excited to have you here.
We've all kind of been checking out the game film, we've seen you shoot that gap and get past the guards. So I know we're all excited to see what you can do on the football field.
But best of luck this season and here's to Super Bowl number six.
Andrew (@theGACH): I appreciate you guys having me on. I'm excited.
Be sure to follow Andrew Gachkar on Twitter at @theGACH and give him a warm welcome to Dallas!
Should Cowboys Sign This RFA to a Contract Sheet?
Fortune favors the bold. It's a rough translation of an old Latin proverb and the mantra I believe the Dallas Cowboys should indoctrinate this offseason.
I think it's time the Dallas Cowboys start to make a few bold moves. I truly believe they are close to competing for a championship title and one or two offseason moves could increase those odds. One such move would be to sign restricted free agent (RFA) Shaquil Barrett to an offer sheet.
It's expected that the Denver Broncos will place a second-round tender on Barrett and I think the Dallas Cowboys would be wise to explore the possibility of signing him to a contract sheet. If Denver declines to match the offer, the Cowboys would then send them their second round draft pick as compensation.
You on board?
Probably not at this point, but let me try to explain why I believe this is a good move on the Cowboys part, even if it is an uncharacteristic one.
You see, the Cowboys could definitely use someone to play opposite DeMarcus Lawrence and I think Shaquil Barrett could be the solution.
I know it sounds like a lot to give up a second round draft pick, but the Cowboys have been deplorable at drafting players in the second round the past decade. Sean Lee, DeMarcus Lawrence, and possibly Jaylon Smith have really been the only "hits" the Cowboys have found in the second round. That's simply unacceptable!
So, why not use that second rounder to acquire a player who is already a proven commodity in the NFL?
I know the first thing a lot of you are going to do is to look up Shaquil Barrett's stats to see what he has accomplished in the NFL. But, stats don't always show the big picture.
You see, Barrett has been stuck behind some pretty talented pass rushers in Denver, so his statistics aren't going to jump off the paper. But, when given the opportunity he has proven he deserves a larger role. That's where the Dallas Cowboys come in.
The Broncos probably don't have the money to keep Shaquil Barrett if the Cowboys sign him to a contract sheet. It doesn't necessarily even have to be a big money contract offer. The Broncos simply don't have the salary cap to do much, especially considering they are still looking for a starting quarterback.
I honestly like the idea of the Cowboys going after Barrett. You may have forgotten, but he gave a healthy Tyron Smith fits last season.
With an injured Shane Ray, Shaquil Barrett got the start against the Cowboys in 2017 and finished the game with two quarterback hits, six QB pressures, and five stops. No other player found that kind of success against Tyron Smith all season, even when he was banged up.
Unfortunately, when Shane Ray returned, Barrett's usage on defense declined. That's why you can't always judge a players productivity by statistics. You have to judge him more on a per-snap basis, and if you do that you will discover he was very effective as both a pass rusher and run stopper.
I believe Barrett is ready for a full-time role. Yes, he has been used as a standup 3-4 OLB with the Broncos, but he has the required traits to put his hand on the ground and maintain his effectiveness.
The downside to all of this is the Dallas Cowboys would have to give up their second-round draft pick, but draft picks are sometimes overvalued anyways. Shaquil Barrett is probably better than anybody the Cowboys could draft in the second round, so I say pull the trigger.
Should the Cowboys sign Shaquil Barrett to a contract sheet?
Could a Former Division Rival be Cowboys’ LG Solution?
When it comes to prioritizing the Dallas Cowboys offseason needs, offensive guard is definitely near the top of the list. Opinions will certainly vary, but for me, solidifying the offensive line with a new starting left guard is the top priority for the Cowboys.
I know many of you will disagree and believe the Dallas Cowboys need to continue to upgrade their defense. But, this teams success or failure will be determined by how their offensive line performs. That's just the way the Cowboys are built, which is why they have invested so heavily putting this unit together.
Four out of five of the Dallas Cowboys starting offensive line is set in stone, but there is currently no one on the roster to step into the vacant left guard position unless you want to see the coaching staff give Chaz Green another try.
No, I didn't think so.
With the start of the 2018 free agency just a few weeks away, the Dallas Cowboys have certainly narrowed down some of the potential free agents they would be interested in bringing aboard if the price is right. Remember, they have turned into "bargain shoppers".
There are a few intriguing free agent options who I believe could step in to upgrade the LG position for the Cowboys next season, and not break the bank. One such option is a former division rival of the New York Giants, Justin Pugh.
The former 19th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft has spent five years in New York while playing out his rookie contract, but that time has come to an end. The Giants aren't likely to re-sign him, which means he will get his first taste of free agency.
Justin Pugh could step in and be an immediate upgrade over what the Dallas Cowboys employed at the left guard position in 2017. He has exceptional mobility. He reaches the second level with ease and plays with good body control and footwork. He is a perfect fit in a zone blocking scheme like the Cowboys employ.
Pugh is also versatile. He has played both right tackle and offensive guard for the Giants. He of course would be asked to play between Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith at LG with the Cowboys, but versatility to play another position is never a bad thing.
Unfortunately, Pugh doesn't come without baggage. He has missed a total of 13 games over the last two seasons with the Giants, including eight last season due to a back injury. This is definitely a huge red flag, especially for the Cowboys after dealing with the same issue with Tyron Smith.
But, this is why Justin Pugh will likely be in the Cowboys price range. Sportrac currently estimates his contract at 4 years at $23,983,847, which equates to $5,995,968 annually. I personally think that's a little low for someone of Pugh's caliber and versatility, but it certainly understandable when you take into account his recent injury history.
I personally think this is a longshot to happen because the Cowboys would prefer to go younger and cheaper, but it wouldn't surprise me.
Do you think Justin Pugh makes sense for the Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys Wishlist: 2018 Free Agency Edition
Sadly, we can't wake up on Sundays to NFL football. The Dallas Cowboys are not on TV every week for us to watch them play. To make matters worse, we'll have to wait until September to get real football from our favorite team.
But that doesn't mean there's nothing to talk about until then! For the die-hard Cowboys fan, the offseason should be quite entertaining. Free agency will begin in March, and it should be an intense one for Dallas.
They need to handle a tight salary cap while trying to add a bit of help for this football team. Recently, Inside The Star Contributor John Williams wrote an in-depth piece about the Cowboys' cap situation and how they can manage to get things done, despite having little cap space right now.
Last season, I wrote a weekly Cowboys Wishlist about things I wanted to see for each game. Now there are no games, but I decided to write a special edition for this upcoming free agency.
Wish #1: Keep The Rushmen
The front office will have one hell of a challenge trying to retain all of its free agents. The two most important ones may be their two defensive linemen. If they can keep them, DL won't be a top need heading to the Draft.
Lawrence is one of the biggest names in free agency this 2018, but the Cowboys should find a way to keep him from ever being available.
If they're able to franchise tag him, that'd be the way to go since he's only had one elite season in his four-year career and they may not want to sign him to a huge long-term deal and risk not seeing the same guy next season.
David Irving is a more polarizing player, with off-the-field issues. However, he's been a very disruptive guy and he has the chance to be a unique player. His talent is really out of this world. Keeping him and Irving would give this franchise a top defensive line for the first time in many years.
Wish #2: Pay Anthony Hitchens
When healthy, Sean Lee is one of the NFL's top linebackers. He is simply an outstanding player who's always around the ball and seems to know where the ball is going before the opposing coach even calls the play.
The problem is, he has a lot of trouble remaining available. Anthony Hitchens is a guy who's found the way to step up every time the General is out, and he's shown a great progression as a player year after year.
Lee will be 32 by the time the season starts, giving Dallas something to think about. Hitchens is a guy capable of starting and competing in the NFL. If the front office finds a way to keep him, they'll be getting closer to being less "Sean Lee-dependent."
Wish #3: Get Seattle Seahawks' Earl Thomas
When we talk about a potential big name addition to the Dallas Cowboys, we're usually a bit pessimistic. This team isn't one that makes splashes like this, but Earl Thomas to Dallas makes a ton of sense. Former Seahawks' defensive coordinator is now the Cowboys' defensive backs' coach.
With Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis (and maybe Byron Jones moving to CB), this team will have a promising secondary. Add Earl Thomas, and it will go from "promising" to "great" in a heartbeat.
The Cowboys could not only have a top DL, but a top secondary if they're able to get this veteran.
Let's hope the Cowboys listen to Thomas and they go get him.
Wish #4: Get Dez Bryant to Take a Pay Cut
When I started writing this, I wanted to add a "get this wide receiver in FA"... but I won't. A few weeks ago, I wrote a case in favor and one against Dez Bryant remaining a Cowboy in 2018. Personally, I would be fine with him parting ways with the team.
However, I'm aware of how hard it can be finding a replacement for a guy like #88. The biggest issue with Dez is definitely his cap hit. He hasn't justified the money he's being paid on the field as he should be.
If they can get him to take a pay cut, it may end up being the ideal scenario for the Dallas Cowboys.
It'll be a very interesting offseason, and here at Inside The Star we'll continue to provide you with content about it all.
Want to help make Inside The Star better?
We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.
Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).
Star Blog2 days ago
Should Cowboys Sign This RFA to a Contract Sheet?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Dallas Cowboys Sign Converted QB Jason Thompson to Play Safety
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
Star Defensive Talent Falls to Cowboys in Latest Round of Mock Drafts
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Cowboys CB Marquez White Could Emerge in 2018
Star Blog5 days ago
Dallas Cowboys Wishlist: 2018 Free Agency Edition
NFL Draft1 week ago
The 1 Player Cowboys Should Consider Trading Up For
Star Blog5 days ago
Switzer and Beasley: A Dilemma for Cowboys’ 2018 Offseason
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
How Much Input Will Kris Richard Have in Cowboys Draft?