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Architect of Progress: Will McClay Steering Cowboys Toward Success

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Cowboys Blog - The Dallas Cowboys Trust Will McClay

After writing my first article The Resurgence of America's Team, I started looking more into journeyman Will McClay's road to becoming the Senior Director of College and Pro Scouting.

Although born in Memphis, Tennessee, McClay would spend his adolescent years right outside of Houston, Texas. He would stay locally for college and start all 4 years (1985-1988) at defensive back for Rice University. After college ball, McClay was picked up by the Detroit Drive of the Arena Football League where he would help capture 3 Arena League Titles in 4 appearances.

After his playing days were over, the Drive kept him on as the secondary and special teams coach in 1993. Over the next few seasons McClay would bounce around as Defensive Coordinator for the Milwaukee Mustangs, Florida Bobcats and Anaheim Piranhas. While with Anaheim in 1997, he began to try his hand in the management side of football and became Director of Player Personnel. The following season McClay would join the Grand Rapid Rampage in the same capacity before being promoted a year later to Head Coach.

In 2001, McClay set his sights on the XFL as the Director of Player Personnel and Scout for the Orlando Rage. It is worth noting that while in Orlando, McClay assembled an 8-2 team that clinched the first seed in the playoffs only to fall in the first round.

After Vince McMahon's one-year wonder of a football league fell apart, McClay was able to make the jump to the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars as the Assistant Director of Pro Scouting. While in Jacksonville his main duty was to scout the teams not on the Jaguars schedule in an effort to expand scouting reports.

In 2002, McClay joined the Dallas Cowboys player personnel department as well as Defensive Coordinator for Jerry Jones' expansion AFL team, the Dallas Desperados. He maintained both jobs until 2004 when McClay was promoted to Head Coach. Over the next 5 years he produced 4 winning seasons and was named Coach of the Year in 2006.

After the league folded in 2009, Jerry Jones kept McClay on the Cowboys staff serving in various capacities reviewing tape and compiling extensive scouting reports. Highly regarded within the organization as a workaholic and having a keen eye for talent, the Cowboys essentially created a position for him when he was named Director of Football Research, a position which no longer exists.

From 2011-2013 McClay's main focus as Director of Football Research was to scout players on the other 31 NFL teams. It was through his efforts that the Cowboys have been able to find success with players like Ernie Sims, Laurent Robinson, Justin Durant, Nick Hayden, George Selvie, and Rolando McClain. Players who were seemingly plucked from the NFL's land of misfit toys. Players whose careers were in jeopardy but could fill a role on the Cowboys roster.

In 2014, after a Draft Day disagreement between the scouting department and coaching staff, McClay was promoted to Assistant Director of Player Personnel and given the keys to the War Room. As I alluded to in my first article, his presence on draft day has been surely felt. Former oil tycoon turned GM Jerry Jones is no longer trying to strike it rich with players from smaller schools or taking on big persona's like Johnny Manziel to increase sales.

When all 9 draft choices in 2014 came from big football programs, McClay had this to say about his picks, "I think it was important for us to say, if we’re trying to build this thing and get to a point where we can win now, who has been able to handle the pressure of a big time program? Who will most likely be able to come into a situation like the Dallas Cowboys and the microscope that we’re under with all the games we play on national TV, and not, pardon the expression, pee their pants? We want grown men that are able to handle the situation.”

We now live in an era where McClay and company will put in more than their due diligence to walk away with the best player available. After an abysmal defensive effort from the Cowboys in 2013, McClay elected to take OL Zack Martin stating, "You're never one player away, you always want to solidify your team, and we approached it (the draft) with that strategy."

Martin would later be named to the All-Pro team as a rookie.

In May 2015, McClay was promoted to his current position as Senior Director of College and Pro Scouting. Once again this offseason the front office took a financially responsible approach to assembling this season's team.

Their boldest move by far was their unwillingness to pay NFL leading rusher, Demarco Murray, any more than they thought he was worth. Murray would later sign with division rival Philadelphia for $40 (26 guaranteed) million over 5 years, while Dallas elected to keep trucking with our current stable of running backs along with Free Agent Darren McFadden who signed an incentive-laced 2-year/$3 million contract. The front office had the luxury of making this type of decision because of the tireless work McClay and company have done building one of the best offensive lines in the league.

While the coaching staff is getting the team ready for the regular season, and Jerry is smiling for the cameras, Will McClay will undoubtedly be in the film room, scouring the pro and college ranks for the next diamond in the rough. And that's the way he prefers it.



I am a recent graduate from East Carolina University. Dallas Cowboys enthusiast born and raised in North Carolina. No I'm not a bandwagon fan, I started watching during the Dave Campo era.

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Star Blog

2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1

Kevin Brady

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Byron Jones

Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.

Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.

Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.

The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas

Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.

Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.

The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.

Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Time to Stop Making Excuses for QB Dak Prescott?

Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.

Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.

Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Pues en Dallas, hoy dos  jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.

Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.

Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.

Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.

Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 2

Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.

The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.

The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.

Lock Down the Big Guns

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

@Randy81MossRetires, via Twitter

Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.

Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.

As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.

Adding New Talent

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 1

@brkicks, via Twitter

One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.

Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.

If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.

Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.

Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.

The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.

As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.

Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.



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