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Anthony Spencer, Does He Have What It Takes?



Since the departure of Greg Ellis earlier this week, I have had a question tumbling around in my head. Can Anthony Spencer take the next step? I have yet to be able to answer this question.

The opinions, much like the Swine flu, are wide spread. Although I do not feel we should be wearing a mask and disinfecting everything we touch when trying to figure this out, the thought did cross my mind though.

Anthony Spencer has shown flashes of brilliance and mediocrity. Just when we think he is taking the next step, he fails to do the most elementary of tasks or gives a lack luster effort.

Anthony has as much talent as you could ask for in a 3-4 scheme OLB, so what seems to be his major hold up? That is a question I have been struggling with - on one hand one could say that he is a little lazy (as evidence showed in hard knocks last year by failing to go to rehab) but you might also say he lacks drive. Then on the other hand one could reasonably say that "well he is a young guy, and with the small number of reps he has had it is just going to take a little more time."

As the old saying goes "There are two sides to every story and the truth lies somewhere in the middle!" and this case is no different.

The time however has come for Anthony Spencer to either "shit or get off the pot!" Neither the Cowboys nor he have the luxury of him giving half hearted efforts. There are several young men who were recently drafted by the Cowboys, eager to take that spot.

As a general rule I try not to question a professional athletes "drive" too much, just because if you have made it to "The League" you have obviously been at least somewhat driven, and who am I to speculate on what they have been through to get where they are, because if it were easy we would all be doing it!

The hope is that Anthony has been paying attention and absorbing all he could from Greg Ellis and DeMarcus Ware, and that he has been training hard, and is ready to explode onto the scene this year.

This is his chance! And there will not be another chance quite like this one, and he knows it. Now he just needs to prove that he deserves it, and if he does no one will question the decision to release Greg Ellis.

Spencer will have the opportunity this year to wreak havoc on opposing team's quarterbacks. Teams will be focusing their attention towards the likes of DeMarcus Ware, Bradie James, and Jay Ratliff leaving Spencer in one on one situation's.

The thing that concerns me about Spencer is he has shown a knack for having big plays and big games, followed immediately by such sloppy, and half hearted play. These things simply do not just go away.

The team has now completed its OTA campaign for this year, and while there was certainly a lot of talk about him getting the opportunity, there was not much talk about his actual play during those OTA's.

I understand that there are no pads being worn and it they are primarily walk through and individual work outs, but with as much talking as Wade Phillips likes to do about the status of his players, it's been somewhat odd to not hear anything about Spencer, Don't you think?

The jury is still out on Anthony Spencer and will probably be in deliberations for quite a while yet. So for now I am going to wait on answering my questions concerning him, how long I hold onto them is in his hands.

What do you think - Can he be what we all want him to be? Or is he the second coming of Barbie Carpenter?

  • Jonathan

    Anthony Spencer received rave reviews coming into the season last year, however, the combination of injury and the presence of a malcontented veteran slowed his progress. I, for one, have fewer questions about Anthony’s ability then most of the young players currently projected as starters. Will Mike Jenkins hesitancy to make plays spill over from last year? Was Orlando Scandrick play a fluke? Is Gerald Sensabaugh the cover safety we hope he is? Can Mike Mickens make the transition from college well enough to be relied on in the Dime? Can Felix Jones stay healthy? Was Tashard Choice explosion on the scene the result of playing against players that had slowed with season wear and tear?

    The main knocks on Anthony Spencer, in my opinion, is mental. Has he learned to stay in his lane, rather than trying to use his speed to move round potential blockers to make the play. That is a rookie error, that is understandable for a player moving from DE in the 4-3 to OLB in the 3-4. In terms of physicality, he could be compared to Demarcus Ware. And if he is 80% the player that Ware is, I think we can expect a pretty solid tandem of LB’s, which in the 3-4, is the most important key to a successful defense.

    • bags030404

      Very well said! While he may not be one of the main areas of concern on this team, he can surely help take the pressure off some of the others.

  • Bo

    I don’t know about you guys.. But I am pumped about Spencer. I feel like he is going to be everything we want him to be, maybe not right away, but give it time!

  • bags030404

    I hope so! Hopefully he has grown up a little bit, and is ready to take advantage of his opportunity!

    • Doran Palmer

      That’s what I’m hoping for. His little incident off the field doesn’t worry me very much, I mean who wouldn’t let loose after a loss like that at the end of a year like that.

      But he is still quite inexperienced when it comes to the pass rushing game, though good against the run. I wonder how well he’ll handle the pressure of the starting job on his shoulders alone.

  • Jonathan

    Perhaps this is wishful thinking writing, but my guess is one of the reasons the Cowboy’s allowed Ellis to walk so soon before training camp has two-fold wisdom: one, they wanted to grant Ellis the respect he deserves, being one of our more tenured veterans, allowing him time to catch on with another franchise prior to the season and two, they wanted Anthony Spencer to understand, prior to the true training camp beginning, that the Cowboy’s are placing alot of confidence in him to step up. I’d imagine, as a result, Spencer is training harder to prepare himself for the upcoming season then he would, if he was slotted to share snaps with another player.

    The other aspect of this for him to consider are the 4 linebackers the Cowboys drafted. Sure, Jason Williams and Stephen Hodge have been slotted as ILB, but that’s not written in stone. If any of the four show they can shine above what Spencer is doing, he is probably not so safe that he can assume the job is his regardless of what player he shows up as in training camp.

Dallas Cowboys

How Cowboys Could Benefit From Randy Gregory’s Suspension

Brian Martin



Cowboys Headlines - Randy Gregory Withdraws Suspension Appeal, Cannot Return Until Week 15

Randy Gregory is back! His suspension is officially over and he will be able to join the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard, California when training camp gets underway less than a week from now.

Speculation has already started as to what this could mean for the Dallas Cowboys defense this season, and shockingly expectations are rather high for a player who hasn't stepped foot on the field in over a year. But, that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to focus on Gregory's mess of a contract, because it is rather interesting.

Randy Gregory was signed to a four-year contract after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second-round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Gregory's rookie deal was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2018 season, but his multiple suspensions have now changed that expiration date.

You see, Gregory has only played in a total of 14 games in his career, 12 as a rookie and two in Year 2. His third year in the NFL was completely wiped out due to his year-long suspension. If you were to add that all up, it equates to just one accured season in the NFL. Remember that, because it could have a huge impact on his contract down the road.

Randy Gregory

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

What all of this means is that the Cowboys can pretty much stretch out Gregory's contract now that they are three years in on the deal and have only gotten one accured season out of the agreement. That basically means they can push his contract back a year, meaning his 2017 salary ($731,813) gets pushed back to 2018, his 2018 salary ($955,217) gets pushed to 2019. That would essentially make him a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) in 2020.

Or does it?

Depending on how the Dallas Cowboys handled paying Randy Gregory during his suspension could actually make him an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (EFA). This is a similar situation in which David Irving found himself in after the 2017 season. The Cowboys placed a second-round tender on him in order to secure his services for another season, albeit at a $2.91 million price tag.

As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys pretty much hold all the cards when it comes to Randy Gregory's contract situation. It's all a little confusing, but that's what makes it such a unique and interesting situation.

Of course, the Cowboys could decide to extend Gregory early if he completely dominates upon his return this season. It's highly doubtful though considering his past suspensions, but still technically a possibility. If it does happen, you can go ahead and ignore everything I've written previously.

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Dallas Cowboys

Earl Thomas: Age is Just a Number Part II

John Williams



Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de Earl Thomas, la NFL Sigue Equivocándose
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Yesterday, I wrote a piece attempting to assuage the fears that many in Cowboys Nation have about handing a contract extension out to Earl Thomas, who is 29 years old as we enter the 2018 NFL season.

In the comment section, a reader posed a very good question that is the basis for the rest of this article:

Earl Thomas Comparisons at age 29 and Beyond

It's a great question that certainly required some research, but Cowboys fans all across the world should be encouraged by my findings.

Just to refresh, here are the players we looked at as favorable comparisons to Earl Thomas at this point in his career. I searched Pro Football Reference for safeties who had at least three All-Pro First Team selections and at least six Pro Bowl appearances.

Considering an Earl Thomas Extension, Age is just a Number

The average age of the players listed at the time when they reached their third All-Pro was 31 years old. I'm removing Deion Sanders and Roger Wehrli from the equation as most of their work was done at cornerback.

Let's look at a chart that outlines what these guys careers looked like at age 29 and beyond to get a better picture. Remember, Earl Thomas already has three All-Pro selections and six Pro Bowls. Many of these guys didn't reach those kind of accolades until their 30s.

Earl Thomas Comparisons at age 29 and Beyond 1

Click image to view at full size.

The first thing I noticed as I looked into this question is that only two players had three or more All-Pro First Team selections prior to age 29, like Earl Thomas has. Those players were Rod Woodson and Ronnie Lott. Every other player on this list didn't hit their third All-Pro selection until age 29 or later.

Only one player reached his sixth Pro Bowl prior to his age 29 season, that player is Ronnie Lott, who many NFL Analysts consider to be the greatest safety of all-time. Most of the players didn't achieve their third All-Pro selection until their age 29 season or later. Earl Thomas reached his third All-Pro selection at age 25.

Here's a hot take for you: Earl Thomas, when it's all said and done could be considered the greatest safety of all-time.  I'll just leave that there to marinate and if a trade does happen, we'll come back to that.

Back to the chart.

Another thing I want to point out is that none of these players were 100% healthy. Such is the life in the NFL, especially as you get older, but they were available for at least 14 games a majority of their seasons aged 29 or later. Health is an unpredictable animal in the NFL, but the safety position allows for much more longevity than many other positions. And as the chart depicts, it's a position that ages well.

So, as you can see in the chart, players who were highly productive prior to their age 29 season were also highly productive for several seasons after. These players went onto average almost seven more years in the league from their age 29 seasons.

Most players continued to average a healthy amount of interceptions. The player that saw the biggest decline from the early part of his career to the post-29 part of his career was Brian Dawkins. The former Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos safety went from three interceptions per season prior to 29 to 1.9 interceptions per season 29 and after.

When it comes to the safety position, the elite seem to be able to get the most of their bodies and their abilities and can prolong their prime. The position relies as much on intelligence and awareness as it does quickness and athleticism. Earl Thomas has the mental capacity to play the game for many more years and there's been zero evidence to suggest that he is experiencing any physical decline.

At the rate of his career that he's on, Earl Thomas is destined for the Hall of Fame. He's one of the faces of the Legion of Boom defense that propelled the Seattle Seahawks into the elite category of teams in the early part of this decade.

If and when an Earl Thomas trade does occur, don't sweat an extension for Thomas.

Thomas' credentials put him in an elite group of players who played the game for a very long time and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to do so.

The Dallas Cowboys aren't that far off from having a Super Bowl contending defense built in the image of the Seattle Seahawks. Going to get the All-Pro, future Hall of Fame safety is the final piece to the to the Dallas Cowboys completing construction on "Doomsday III." 

Everything else is there for the Dallas Cowboys, now all they have to do is: Go. Get. Earl!

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Dallas Cowboys

Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPN

John Williams



A Fully Focused Ezekiel Elliott can Carry the Cowboys into 2018 Playoffs 2
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN has long been considered "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," and for a long time that title was justified. If you wanted your national sports news, where did you turn to but the cable sports channel to watch that day's episode of SportsCenter. But over the last few years, it's become more and more clear that it's "The Worldwide Leader" in name only.

The ratings are dropping and the network has had to make a lot of business decisions as it relates to much of their on-air talent over the last several years. With their latest under 25 starting 22 -- ahem, troll job -- they seem to have finally come to terms that they are basically First Take.

Noah Brown put it best in his reaction to the ESPN "Insider" voting that led to Saquon Barkley being named to the starting 22 ahead of Ezekiel Elliott. Brown, Elliott's teammate when both were at Ohio State University, came to his defense upon seeing the list.

Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPNAnd here is the ESPN list:

SportsCenter on Twitter

43 of our NFL Insiders voted. Here's their best starting roster under the age of 25.

I'm sure there could be debates about different positions on the squad. Personally, quarterback is one where an argument could be made for Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott over DeShaun Watson, but that's for another time.

But to have a rookie, who has never played a down in the NFL ahead of the NFL's league leader in rushing for 2016, Ezekiel Elliott, is laughable.


Shameful even.

The fact that they had 43, again I use the quotations, "Insiders" vote on this and Ezekiel Elliott wasn't listed as one of the two running backs just shows you how far they've come as a network.

Let's remember that Ezekiel Elliott has averaged a touchdown a game -- receiving and rushing -- in his 25-game career. No running back has more rushing yards than Elliott does over the last two years, including 2017 league rushing leader, Kareem Hunt. No running back has more rushing touchdowns than Elliott's 22 rushing TDs.

Ezekiel Elliott's yards per carry is a healthy 4.63. Todd Gurley sits at 3.93. No player with more than 1,800 rushing yards over the last two years has a better yards per attempt than Ezekiel Elliott.

I get that you'd vote Todd Gurley in there, but to not have Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the game's best running back on your Under 25 starting 22 just makes you look like Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith. Not a sports journalism entity worthy of people throwing money at for "Insider" access.

I won't say that I never or will never watch ESPN, because where else am I gonna go for Monday Night Football, Todd Archer, or the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships? When I'm at my father-in-law's, I'll watch SportsCenter first thing in the morning, because it will be on and you don't change another man's television.

"The Worldwide Leader," however, loses credibility when they promote a list like this that has such a glaring omission.

Perhaps, maybe the goal wasn't to put out an accurate list. Maybe the goal was to get us talking about their list, just like when NFL Network releases their Top 100 players list. Like they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

This troll job from ESPN has certainly gotten them some publicity, or should I say, notoriety.

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