The frustration of Cowboys Nation has been obvious over the first few days of free agency. The Cowboys are taking a conservative approach that fans aren't happy with after a 4-12 season. Unfortunately, I think the negativity has been exacerbated by guys like me.
In the time leading up to free agency you saw a lot of articles and blog posts from both mainstream media and "fanalysts" like me and my colleagues, most of us telling you how the Cowboys could finally go on the attack again with their cap spending. You heard how Dallas was down to less than $1 million in dead money, carrying over funds from last year, and could open up significantly more money by restructuring some deals and cutting others.
Your expectations were not managed well by the writers you follow. But, to be fair, we are no less surprised by the Cowboys' approach to free agency so far. We only wrote our own predictions and assumptions and are scratching our heads a bit just like you are.
If there was one thing we expected Dallas to do it was that they'd add one of the premiere pass rushing defensive ends. In just a few days, gone are Olivier Vernon, Mario Williams, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Charles Johnson. Dallas has not scheduled visits with Robert Ayers or Chris Long, the last of the name-value options. Scarily, Greg Hardy is probably the best talent still unsigned.
So far Dallas has signed just one mid-tier defensive lineman in Cedric Thornton. They are only officially linked to two other free agents; quarterback Matt Moore and cornerback Nolan Carroll. Moore would obviously be a backup and Carroll has been an on-and-off starter for the Eagles for the last few years. None of these moves leap off the page.
The best thing I can tell you about understanding Dallas' approach is to think about someone who's lived for years with massive debt. They finally pay off the last of their credit cards and breathe a huge sigh of relief. Ideally, that person would be very careful about how they manage their finances going forward.
The Cowboys had over $19 million in dead money (per Spotrac.com) last season. It was $27 million in 2014, $17 million in 2013, and $22 million the year before that. Heading into 2016 that number is down to just around $900K; comparatively debt-free to what they've dealt with previously.
When Dallas has had cap space in the past it's been on a line of credit; borrowed money from future seasons. They've renegotiated some deals and cut others to free up the room, deferring those costs to the future.
The Cowboys are adopting the philosophy of the New England Patriots, not overspending and focusing on the draft and bargain free agents to build. That sounds great when you hear it but can be frustrating to watch. In practice, that approach doesn't have the "win now" urgency that gets fans excited.
Try and think long term about this. We want a future without having to say goodbye to our favorite players, such as DeMarcus Ware two years ago. We want to keep this great offensive line together for a decade. We want for as many cap dollars as possible to be going toward helping this year's team, and not paying the ghosts of the past.
Dallas' current strategy is how we get to, and stay in, that happy financial place. The Cowboys are the guy who finally paid off his credit cards and they are loathe to return.
We, as in anyone who writes about the Cowboys, should've known better. Sorry for getting your hopes up about the last few days.
Try and redirect that hope to the future.
Is Kavon Frazier Fighting a Losing Battle With the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys Safety Kavon Frazier has one year remaining on his rookie contract, but may not see the end of it with the same team who drafted him. In fact, it really looks as if he is already fighting a losing battle in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys signed Free Agent George Iloka and drafted Donavan Wilson out of Texas A&M in the sixth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft in the hopes of upgrading the safety position. That doesn't bode well for Kavon Frazier, especially after seeing his defensive snaps take hit in 2018.
After the arrival of Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard, Frazier saw his playing time on defense go from 21.24% in 2017 to 18.07% in 2018. It's not a huge difference, but it's pretty obvious the Cowboys value his special-teams ability, not his defensive play.
The way I see things, Kavon Frazier is a longshot to make the Cowboys final 53-man roster this year. At best, I have him fifth or sixth on the depth chart right now. Since Dallas typically only carries four safeties on the roster, it's looking as if Frazier could inevitably be the odd man out.
I personally have Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath, and George Iloka ahead of Kavon Frazier right now on the depth chart. That means he's competing with Darian Thompson, who is also playing on a one-year deal, and rookie Donovan Wilson for that fourth and final roster spot at the safety position. Unfortunately for Frazier, it looks as if the odds are against him.
Donovan Wilson has already had to step into Frazier's shoes while he was out in OTA's after having his knee scoped, and has been pretty impressive doing so. He has supposedly picked up the defensive scheme pretty quickly and is becoming a vocal leader on the backend. Being a younger, cheaper option, Wilson has a better chance of sticking around on the final 53-man roster over Frazier.
As you can see, Kavon Frazier is fighting an uphill battle with the Dallas Cowboys. It of course is nothing new for him. He's had to fight his way onto the roster ever since he joined the Cowboys, but this year just seems a little different in my opinion. It just looks as if the odds are more against him this time around.
I have no doubts Frazier will continue to fight with every ounce of his being, but if I'm being completely honest I think he's fighting a losing battle. It's going to be really interesting to see how this roster battle at the safety position plays out in training camp and preseason.
Do you think Kavon Frazier is fighting a losing battle with the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019
It's been a few years since things around the Dallas Cowboys felt this good prior to a season. Coming off a 10-6 year in which Dallas won both the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a one possession road game to the future NFC champions, Cowboys Nation is expecting some big things in 2019.
After all, the Cowboys went out and improved their roster in multiple ways this offseason and brought in some new blood on their offensive coaching staff. Spirits are high among Cowboys Nation, and just about everyone is anticipating a two team race for the NFC East.
But some numbers indicate we should be thinking "not so fast."
The details of the 2018 season are not as pretty as the total picture. Rarely are they ever, of course, but these particular details point towards possible regression for the Cowboys in 2019.
Basically, their point differential a year ago spells out impending doom. (That was dramatic, but let's discuss).
The Cowboys were +15 in 2018, and by pythagorean wins expectation, they were about as strong as an 8-8 team (8.53 wins to be exact). This means they won nearly 2 more games (1.47) than would be expected, fourth most in the entire NFL.
This point is furthered when looking at their record in one possession games. Dallas went 8-2 when the game was decided by 7 points or less, winning close games at a rate that is simply not sustainable year to year.
These numbers make the Cowboys a prime candidate for regression in 2019, as they were in 2017.
Back in 2016, the Cowboys outperformed their pythagorean expectation by a whole 2 wins. The following season? Dallas finished the year 9-7. The model also indicated that the 7-9 Eagles performed 2 wins under expectations in 2016, meaning they would get back on track in 2017. As we know, they ended up winning 13 games and the Super Bowl the following season.
Of course, this isn't set-in-stone, and the Cowboys very well could outperform these expectations and avoid regression. This would mainly hinge on their coaching staff and quarterback performing at an elite level, carrying them through close games and winning more games by greater than one possession.
Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations
Winning games in the NFL typically comes down to accomplishing two goals. One, being successful when passing on offense. And, two, stopping the opposing team's passing game.
The Cowboys set out to accomplish that second goal this offseason, re-signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and trading for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn. Quinn, who tallied 6.5 sacks last season for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the leagues more feared rushers when at his best. The former All Pro has multiple 10+ sack seasons under his belt, including a whopping 19 in 2013.
And, as expected, the Cowboys coaching staff is ecstatic to have such a respected pass rushing specialist on their roster.
“He’s got that first step. He’s an established pass rusher in this league, so he’s going to bring some good stuff for us.” - Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
The Cowboys acquired Robert Quinn for a 2020 6th round pick, which could end up being the steal of the offseason. Quinn has played with some top-notch pass rushers in the past, and each time they have brought out the best in his own game.
Back with the Rams in 2017, when Aaron Donald was on the same defensive line, Quinn got to the quarterback 8.5 times. And, last season, he remained consistent in his sack totals playing alongside Cameron Wake. Now he joins a DeMarcus Lawrence who has 25 sacks over the last 2 seasons.
"I think it was kind of one of those where I get to have fun, pin my ears back and just disrupt the backfield, which is what they want us to do." - Robert Quinn told NFL.com.
Quinn and the always dominant Lawrence will form an impressive defensive end duo on passing downs, with the potential to be one of the best in all of football. Dallas is also hoping to add Randy Gregory into this mix, a piece which could prove vital late in football games if he is able to return from his current indefinite suspension.
Whether or not Gregory finds his way back onto the field, though, this defensive front will be in good hands. The edge combo of Quinn and Lawrence, combined with a plethora of skilled interior rushers such as Maliek Collins, gives the Cowboys a fearsome defensive line which should keep quarterbacks uncomfortable every Sunday.
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