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Anthony Spencer’s Return and Why He’s Important

Brian Leatherman

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Earlier in the year I felt there was no way possible the Cowboys would resign Anthony Spencer. He was 30 years old and just coming off of micro-fracture surgery and honestly, I didn’t feel he would play anywhere anytime soon.

The team proved me wrong and signed Spencer to a one year deal. Well, if he plays we wouldn’t see him until the end of the season. At least that’s what I thought.

Turns out I could be wrong again. Anthony Spencer not only thinks he'll return before the midway point of the season, he believes he will return before the start of the season.

“I hope so. I hope to be back before the first game,” Spencer said. “I hope some time around there. It’s hard to say now. We’ve got time and not trying to rush things.” 

The defensive end position was a question mark before the season and that became an even bigger question when rookie DeMarcus Lawrence went down in the first week of training camp. But if Spencer can come back, even in a reserved role, this would give the defensive line a big boost.

I wasn’t always a big fan of Anthony Spencer. I didn’t think he was that good of a player. But that was before I started looking at the big picture.

I was guilty of just looking at his sack numbers and until his contract season in 2012, he had never posted double-digit sacks. How convenient right? But there was something that I wasn’t looking at, even though it should have been really obvious.

Spencer had become the best all-around player on this defense in the last four seasons. Yes, DeMarcus Ware was putting up the sack numbers, and Spencer was known more for almost getting the sacks, hence the nick name Almost Anthony. But one factor people seemed to overlook was what Spencer did do.

Spencer was constantly dropping into coverage while playing the left outside linebacker position; he was able to rush but not all game like the other players on the line of scrimmage. His job was to cover the running backs and tight ends, then rush the QB.

But where Spencer excelled was stopping the run. There wasn’t a better run-stopper on the team. Not DeMarcus Ware, not Jason Hatcher, not anybody. And when he was out last season, this team missed him dearly and it showed.

The defense was gashed in every way possible last season and Spencer not being in the lineup was one of the many reasons why this defense allowed historic type numbers. However, that was last season. No point harping on the past. So let’s take a look at what Spencer could do for the defensive line this season when he returns.

First and foremost, he will be a tremendous help stopping the opposing teams run game. As I mentioned earlier, Spencer was the best run defender on this team as an outside linebacker, and some argue he was the best run defender as an outside linebacker in the entire league.

Spencer will also help out in the pass rush.

Yes I know, he was constantly almost getting sacks in what seems like his entire career in Dallas. But think about what he could do when all the energy and focus is on one thing, and that’s getting to the QB. No more dropping into coverage chasing speedy running backs and lumbering tight ends who have the speed of some wide receivers. Those days are over; Spencer can concentrate on doing the one thing he did so well as defensive end at Purdue that made him a first round draft choice.

Something else Spencer brings to this defensive line that could be lacking - leadership. He will be the guy the rest of the defensive line will look up to, and that’s especially important when you have young defensive lineman that are going to see plenty of playing time. So what Spencer brings to the table will help this defense improve in a big way.

When It comes to injuries, micro-fracture surgery today is what an ACL tear was to a player back in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. Most would end a career, some would come back but never be the player they were, but then some would be beat the odds and pick up where they left off.

Seeing how far Spencer has come since having the micro-fracture surgery last fall, I wouldn’t bet against him beating odds and picking up where he left off.



Brian has been a football junkie from the time he was 5 years old. He lives, eats and breathes the game. Brian is a college graduate living in the south who loves his faith, his family, and his Dallas Cowboys.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Bryson Treece

    August 4, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Spencer has always been a love/hate thing for me. I felt he had a low motor as an OLB. At DE he’s not played a whole hell of a lot. But you’re right in his potential as a leader for a young line, as long as I’m wrong about his motor. Hoping you’re also right that his more focused list of duties is all he needs to shine.

  2. Paul Leatherman

    August 4, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Call it being pessimistic or just being a Debbie Downer or Negative Nancy (I hate those bitches) but I would be surprised to get anything at all from him this year. Or ever again for that matter.

  3. Nickthegrip

    August 4, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    Yeah he ain’t doing shit.

  4. Tyshawn Hester

    August 5, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    spencer has always been a severely underrated and unappreciated member of this team. i would love to see ol’ A-train get a few sacks this year.

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Cowboys Offseason: Landon Collins Cleaned Out Locker, Set to be FA

John Williams

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Cowboys Headlines - #DALvsNYG: Dealing With Giants Safety Landon Collins

It's no secret that the Dallas Cowboys are heading into the 2019 offseason looking to upgrade at the safety position on a defense that finished inside the top 10 in 2018. With much of the focus on Earl Thomas, New York Giants Safety Landon Collins has become the center of attention in the last couple of days.

Per a report by Josina Anderson, Collins cleaned out his locker on Wednesday as he gets ready to go into free agency for the first time.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

I'm told that Giants S Landon Collins cleaned out his locker today at the team facility and said his goodbyes to teammates, coaches and trainers. It doesn't seem like Collins expects to be a Giant for much longer, per sources.

After Paul Schwartz attempted to assert that there was no claim to the report...

Paul Schwartz on Twitter

Attention those who care about the New York Giants: Landon Collins HAS NOT cleaned out his locker at the team facility. Repeat: Landon Collins HAS NOT cleaned out his locker at the team facility. Go about your business and have a nice day.

And Landon Collins had this to say...

https://twitter.com/TheHumble_21/status/1098315997839265792

If cleaning out a locker is any kind of evidence, then Collins is prepared to hit the market when free agency opens on March 13th. He joins a loaded safety group that includes Thomas, Houston Texans Safety Tyrann Mathieu, Los Angeles Rams Safety LaMarcus Joyner, Glover Quin of the Detroit Lions, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix formerly of the Green Bay Packers, but most recently of the Washington Redskins, and several others who could find new homes this offseason.

The Cowboys are very familiar with Landon Collins, as they've seen him nearly twice a year over the last four years. The three time Pro Bowler was one of the best players on the Giants defense. They would line him up in the box and at time use him to cover Cole Beasley.

Collins ranked first in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus in run stop percentage at 7.2%. Meaning on running snaps, he made a tackle that rendered the running play ineffective 7.2% of the time.For further reference, Jeff Heath made a run stop on 4.2% of his run plays, which was 15th in the NFL among safeties.

The only positions to have more of an impact on the running game were linebackers and the defensive line. Even if you include linebackers, his run stop percentage was 31st in the NFL. Leighton Vander Esch led the Dallas Cowboys with a run stop percentage of 11.3%, which was third among linebackers. Collins number nearly matched the run stop percentage of Jaylon Smith at 7.6%.

Add Collins to a defense that stops the run as well as the Dallas Cowboys did last season and you take your team to another level against the run.

Landon Collins will probably get the most money this offseason. He's only 25 and has had success in the NFL. Many teams will be reaching out to Collins when free agency opens and the Dallas Cowboys should certainly be one of those teams. Collins would be an excellent addition to the Dallas Cowboys defense and would allow Xavier Woods to stay in his role as the free safety.

We're just under three weeks away from the start of NFL free agency and the drama will only get bigger as the Cowboys look to add to their team.



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Report: Free Agent DL David Irving Not in Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 Plans

Jess Haynie

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David Irving

The Dallas Cowboys and troubled Defensive Lineman David Irving appear to be at an impasse. According to a report from David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, the team has "no intention" of trying to re-sign Irving and will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.

Irving started the 2018 season with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He only appeared in two games after that, registering one sack and four tackles.

David Moore on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have no intention of keeping DT David Irving at this time https://t.co/vqMNZty6Aq via @sportsdaydfw

Despite reports of David's ongoing issues with an ankle injury, Dallas never placed him on injured reserve. Then came the reports that Irving was missing practices and team meetings while dealing with personal issues related to the custody of his daughter.

The team stayed pretty mum on the subject of Irving's status throughout the year, falling back on the ankle injury when pushed. But after months, it became clear that either David, the team, or both parties were disinterested in his return to football.

The Cowboys had high hopes after 2017, when Irving posted seven sacks in just eight games. They placed a second-round tender on him last offseason as a restricted free agent and were surely ready to give him a long-term deal if he'd built on that success.

But David's issues, physical or otherwise, have clearly done the opposite.

Dallas is known for working with troubled players, as we've recently seen with Randy Gregory. That they're closing the book on Irving suggests there's an issue with his desire towards football.

It's a sad loss for both. David's potential is enormous, as evidenced by his productivity when he actually does play. But he appears more likely to hit the Commissioner's exempt list in 2019 than the football field, given the reports of multiple failed drug tests over the last year.

Hopefully David Irving can turn things around one day and capitalize on his talent. But if it ever happens, it appears that it won't be with the Dallas Cowboys.



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BREAKING: WR Terrance Williams Gets Dropped by Dallas Cowboys

Jess Haynie

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Takeaway Tuesday: What We Learned From Cowboys Loss To Packers
AP Photo/Ron Jenkins

The Dallas Cowboys have ended their six-year relationship with Wide Receiver Terrance Williams. According to multiple sources, they have declined a team option on Williams' contract and he will now be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

The move will reportedly save the Cowboys $2.25 million in salary space this year.

Williams was the team's third-round pick in 2013 and started 68 of the 83 games he played in. He developed into a solid number-two receiver by the end of his rookie deal in 2016 and was given a new four-year contract that offseason.

David Moore on Twitter

Terrance Williams career w/ the Cowboys is done. Sources say the club has declined the WR's option for 2019, making him a free agent. The move is no surprise. He caught just 2 passes for 18 yards last season. His departure frees up $2.25 million on the cap.

After another decent year in 2017, things took a bad turn for Terrance last season. It started with an offseason arrest for public intoxication that eventually led to a three-game suspension, although Williams served that while on injured reserve.

The Cowboys already appeared to be giving Williams' spot away when they made several offseason acquisitions at WR; Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin all were brought in even before Terrance's arrest.

While Williams did start in two of Dallas' first three games in 2018, he only had three passes his thrown his way. The team finally put him on IR due to ongoing complications with a surgically-repaired foot.

While it didn't end well, Terrance Williams' time in Dallas was ultimately a solid return for a third-round pick. He made a few big plays and was a proficient run-blocker, good enough to start in almost 75% of the team's games since he was drafted.

The Cowboys now hope that another third-round pick, Michael Gallup in 2018, will do bigger and better things.



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