[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!
Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches
Lamentablemente, la temporada 2018 de los Dallas Cowboys ha llegado a su fin. Lo hizo cuando el equipo visitó Los Angeles para intentar sorprender a los Rams en su propio campo en la Ronda Divisional de los playoffs. Ni siquiera con una invasión exitosa de la afición de Dallas pudieron ganarse un pase al Campeonato de Conferencia. En vez de eso, los Cowboys estarán viendo desde casa y la afición estará preguntándose: ¿qué sigue para los Dallas Cowboys?
Parece ya una tradición anual que no podemos dejar pasar. Este momento en el que comenzamos a cuestionar, una vez más, que entrenador es digno de quedarse en la franquicia y cual debe irse. En esta edición de "Cowboys en Español," hablaremos específicamente de los tres principales coaches en el equipo.
Coordinador Defensivo Rod Marinelli
El futuro del coordinador defensivo de los Dallas Cowboys no se puede tratar sin mencionar a Kris Richard. Fue la defensiva la que llevó al equipo hasta la postemporada y fue la unidad que cargó al equipo en muchas de sus victorias. Incluso con la llegada de Amari Cooper a Dallas, la defensiva fue siempre el pilar de la franquicia esta temporada.
Jaylon Smith y Leighton Vander Esch sorprendentemente se perfilaron como uno de los mejores duos de linebackers en toda la liga, la línea defensiva fue muy exitosa con Randy Gregory y DeMarcus Lawrence en los extremos y con la grata sorpresa que fue Antwaun Woods en el centro. La secundaria vio la mejor temporada en la controversial carrera de Byron Jones e hizo un excelente trabajo con un talento decente, pero no genial.
Todo esto, y el haber terminado como la sexta mejor defensiva en puntos permitidos (20.2) y la quinta mejor contra la corrida (94.6), hace a Rod Marinelli merecedor de una ronda de aplausos. Sin embargo, Richard probablemente merezca más aplausos.
Fue Richard quien revolucionó la defensiva de los Cowboys y la convirtió en un grupo mucho más agresivo. Fue él quien implementó jugadas de "blitz" en el equipo (algo no común con Marinelli) y quien en un punto de la temporada, comenzó a seleccionar las jugadas desde la banda.
En esta posición, me parece que los Dallas Cowboys tienen que enfrentar la dura decisión de decirle a Marinelli que es tiempo de dejarle el puesto a Kris Richard. Si bien no se llevó un trabajo de head coach, es muy probable que le llovieran ofertas a Richard si no se hace con el título de coordinador defensivo en Dallas.
Coordinador Ofensivo Scott Linehan
Con un equipo tan polémico como este, la afición de Dallas no concuerda en muchas cosas. Sin embargo, lo hacen al hablar del pésimo trabajo que Scott Linehan ha realizado mandando las jugadas en ofensiva. Realmente ha sido doloroso de ver y es en mi opinión, el mayor problema que tiene el equipo actualmente.
Semana tras semana, fuimos testigos de pésimas decisiones en la ofensiva de los Cowboys. Vimos como el equipo se aferraba a llenar la caja de defensivos antes de correr el balón con Ezekiel Elliott. Vimos incontables pases pantalla en tercera oportunidad y largo. Pero no solo es lo que vimos, sino lo que no vimos.
A pesar de la innegable habilidad para correr el balón de Dak Prescott, Linehan se rehusó a explotar esta versatilidad de su QB. Vimos pocos "QB sneaks," jugada donde el mariscal toma el balón bajo centro y consigue poco yardage detrás del empuje de su línea ofensiva.
Siendo honestos, los Cowboys llevan dos años sufriendo por este coordinador. Dejarlo volver en el 2019 sería una decisión ridícula. Los comentarios en la radio de Jason Garrett no lucen prometedores, pero realmente sería una sorpresa que fueran ciertos. Linehan no debe volver... punto.
Head Coach Jason Garrett
El futuro en esta posición será muy debatido durante los próximos meses, pero de los tres que hemos mencionado es sin lugar a dudas el más seguro de todos. Nos guste o no, Jason Garrett estará al frente del equipo la próxima temporada.
Garrett está lejos de ser un gran coach y aún le hace falta demostrar que puede cumplir las aspiraciones de los Cowboys de traer un sexto Trofeo Lombardi a casa. Pero siendo honesto, este equipo debería tener suficiente con Garrett y un par de buenos coordinadores. ¿El problema? No hay un par de buenos coordinadores en el equipo.
Sin embargo, Garrett ha demostrado que cuenta con el amor y apoyo de sus jugadores. Ha demostrado que efectivamente, puede ganar la división (lo ha hecho en tres de los últimos cinco años). Este año el equipo le dio la vuelta a la temporada después de comenzar 3-5.
Lo más preocupante en mi opinión, es la falta de urgencia para despedir a Linehan, por ejemplo. Quizá a puerta cerrada Garrett quiere un cambio en su staff, pero nunca lo sabremos.
Jason Garrett no es un coach excelente, pero podría ser suficiente para llevar a los Cowboys a un Super Bowl si tiene un equipo adecuado. Todo parece indicar que su trabajo está seguro (incluso más de lo que pensamos) así que es tiempo de esperar que se arreglen sus coordinadores.
2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch
As the first round draft pick of America's Team, any player would be under a ton of pressure from all angles. Whether it's from the fans on the outside or the organization on the inside, the expectations around being a first round pick for the Cowboys are immense. But the pressure placed upon linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, from the second he was announced as the 19th overall draft pick, was second to none.
It felt like Cowboys Nation let out a collective groan when Vander Esch was taken, with fans hoping for a more glamorous first round selection. Someone like wide receiver Calvin Ridley or edge rusher Harold Landry would've done the trick, but after Vander Esch's rookie season it's hard to imagine either of those players would have had the impact Vander Esch did in 2018.
Though he didn't start a game until week 4, and didn't become the unquestioned full-time starting WILL until week 10, Vander Esch earned Pro Bowl honors for his rookie season. Tallying 140 total tackles and 2 interceptions, Vander Esch made his presence felt week in and week out.
No counting stats can fully measure Leighton Vander Esch's impact as a rookie, however.
Prior to the 2018 season, the Cowboys defensive success often came down to the health of Sean Lee. When available and playing at his best, Lee led an overachieving Cowboys defense to solid performances each week. But, when Lee went out (as he often did), the entire Cowboys defense seemed to fall apart.
This year, though, that all changed. When Sean Lee was out with injury the Cowboys defense got better. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith became a versatile, hard hitting tandem the NFL immediately feared, and helped to direct the Cowboys defense to signature wins throughout the 2018 season.
There are arguments against taking any off-ball linebacker in the first round, as the value of the position has been questioned due to the new style of offense in the NFL. Nowadays linebackers are relegated to two-down players, taken off the field in favor of faster defensive backs on critical passing downs.
Leighton Vander Esch is athletic enough to be both an old school run stopper, but also a three down linebacker in today's fast paced NFL.
Despite the doubts which surrounded the pick, the Cowboys absolutely nailed their first round selection in 2018. And Leighton Vander Esch made Dallas' front office look like geniuses each and every Sunday.
What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?
Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.
Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.
They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?
Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.
Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.
Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.
Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.
Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.
This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.
The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.
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