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The Unique Reason That The Dallas Cowboys Should Re-Sign Mark Sanchez
It's often said that the most popular player on a team is the back-up quarterback.
This was probably the case for the 2016 Dallas Cowboys, of course that's contingent upon who you asked. It seemed like the Dak-or-Romo conversation reared its ugly head in new and unique ways every week across the season, and there were a lot of people questioning the team's decision even on a game-by-game and sometimes quarter-by-quarter basis.
If it was sometimes said that the most popular player on a team is the third-string quarterback then this would be the article for those people, because I'm about to pound the table for the Dallas Cowboys to bring back the legendary Mark Sanchez. That's right, folks. Buckle up.
On Your Mark, Get Set, Dak!
There once was a quarterback that, as a 23-year-old rookie, had significant success as the quarterback of a team in one of the most visible sports markets across the United States. While this sounds like the story of Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, it's also the story of Dallas Cowboys QB Mark Sanchez.
The legend of "The Sanchize" in his early days as a New York Jet are some of the most successful that that franchise has seen, but to be fair we're talking about a team that still clings to a 1968 Super Bowl Championship Team.
In all seriousness, Mark Sanchez went to the AFC Championship Game in his first two NFL years and did it in the New York market. That, while now six and seven years ago, it something that Dak Prescott knows a little bit about.
Maybe this is why across the 2016 Dallas Cowboys season we saw Mark and Dak become close. Maybe it's because until Tony Romo returned from injury, Mark was Dak's primary back-up. Or maybe it's just because they're two guys who simply gravitated towards one another.
Here's the video of Al Michaels talking about Dak and Mark's relationship back from when the Cowboys beat the Bucs. https://t.co/dBALUOzNjZ
We'd heard rumblings of the Dak-and-Mark connection, but it even took its place on the national stage when during a Week 15 Sunday Night Football contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NBC's Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth discussed the two's relationship.
It's fair to say that we all wanted Dak Prescott and Tony Romo to be buddies, and for all we know they were. Maybe it was only this particular story that's been told that we know about. It's worth mentioning - because it's somehow questioned - that just because Dak is close with Mark does not mean that Dak is not close with Tony. In fact young Prescott has continually and publicly thanked Romo for all of his guidance and wisdom.
The truth of the matter is that it's simply a matter of time until Tony Romo is no longer a quarterback on the Dallas Cowboys roster. If he's playing football in 2017 it is going to be for someone else... but what about Mark Sanchez?
Mark Sanchez Seemingly Means A Lot To The Cowboys
Mark Sanchez is what he is but @dak has a relationship with him. The one time Dak was ever seemingly scared (Bailey's FG)... he was with Mark.
When Dan Bailey was attempting to tie the game at 31 against the Green Bay Packers this past Sunday, Dak Prescott couldn't bring himself to watch. He had his back turned, and this is is a disposition that is extremely uncommon for Dak. 'Ol number four is the epitome of cool, so it's interesting - and extremely understandable - that he'd be nervous about a big-time kick. What's even more interesting is that in his moment of vulnerability he wasn't with his buddy Ezekiel Elliott, he wasn't with his star receiver Dez Bryant, and he wasn't with Gold Jacket Jason Witten.
Dak Prescott chose to be next to Mark Sanchez, and even relied on Mark's reaction to Bailey's field goal before ultimately pumping his arms in celebration. I'm not a psychologist nor am I proposing that this suggests Dak and Mark have matching best friend bracelets, but this does say a lot about who Dak Prescott turns to in big moments.
I can't imagine what Sanchez is telling @dak in these initial moments. If that relationship is meaningful to Dak then Mark needs to be back.
As soon as Mason Crosby ended the 2016 Dallas Cowboys season FOX showed an image that's going to sit with us for a long time this offseason - Mark Sanchez consoling Dak Prescott. Dak, hands on his knees, can be seen glaring intensely at the field... perhaps trying to digest the pain of the moment. Mark Sanchez, left hand on Dak's back, has his right hand over his mouth (presumably so his lips can't be read) and is very obviously telling something to Dak.
Only Dak Prescott knows what Mark Sanchez said in these initial moments, but we can assume it was something about encouragement and letting Dak know that he'd likely be back in these types of games later on in the bright career that lays before him.
Mark Sanchez, as we discussed earlier, knows a lot about this situation. As a young-in in the NFL he experienced the heartbreak of losing the game before the Super Bowl... twice. In a row. In a gigantic media market. As its most visible face. And he never attained that level of stardom again.
Tony Romo is a far more accomplished quarterback than Mark Sanchez, and for all we know Romo had a similar discussion with Dak... we just weren't privy to it. But no other quarterback that's available knows this situation like Mark Sanchez and, unfortunately, Dak Prescott.
The Available Quarterbacks
We'll be discussing free agents that the Dallas Cowboys should keep, let walk, and try and bring in across the next few weeks and months (something I did on Wednesday's episode of OchoLive), and one of those is Mark Sanchez.
The Cowboys also have quarterback Kellen Moore that they have to make a decision on. Many people that saw Sanchez in Philadelphia during Week 17 and Kellen Moore across the final stretches of the 2015 will say that they need to look elsewhere for the back-up - Dak-up? - to Dak Prescott.
If you haven't looked, this list if courtesy of OverTheCap.com, the crop of free agent quarterbacks is... well I'll say that it's not good.
Kirk Cousins will obviously be back with the Washington Redskins, but seriously... name a guy on here that you like more than Mark Sanchez. Of course the option exists that the Dallas Cowboys could trade for a back-up option, but is that the route that you want to go?
Mark Sanchez's chemistry with Dak Prescott may be the advantage that earns him another back-up quarterback gig in 2017. If all things are equal amongst him and the competition - and looking at the current competition then it certainly seems that all things are at the very least equal - then this should play a huge role in Sanchez's return to Dallas.
If Dak Likes Mark, We Like Mark
Ultimately the decision about a back-up quarterback will rest within the braintrust of the Dallas Cowboys - Will McClay, Jason Garrett, Stephen Jones, and Jerry Jones. I'm not advocating building a football team specifically around the preferences of its starting quarterback, I'm advocating taking those into serious consideration.
Dak Prescott and Mark Sanchez seemed excited about the win https://t.co/x7gZuc5EGA
If I'm the braintrust of the Dallas Cowboys then I want to bring Dak Prescott in and ask him just how much Mark Sanchez really does mean to him. Was Mark helping him break down film, adjust to reads, and understand specific coverages? Or is Mark just his bro that he enjoys hanging out with and sometimes whips up on Madden? The answer to that question could potentially help mold Dak's sophomore season in the NFL.
Dak Prescott is the franchise quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. If he likes Mark Sanchez, then we all like Mark Sanchez.
Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?
February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.
DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.
Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.
After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.
There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?
Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.
For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.
In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys
What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?
First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.
It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.
It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.
Dallas Cowboys OL Fails To Crack NFL.com’s Top 10
Often considered a top unit in football, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line seemed to take a step back in 2017. Mostly due to injuries and free agent departures on the left side, the Cowboys were unable to form the same solid unit we have seen in years past.
Despite their struggles, most would still consider them a top 5-10 offensive line in the NFL. At least, that's what I'd expect considering they still feature three All-Pro caliber players upfront.
Matt Harmon of NFL.com put together a list of the top 10 offensive lines in football based on performance in the 2017 season. The list was strictly developed through the use of next gen stats, which defined pressure as "pass-rushing play in which a defender gets within 2 yards of the opposing quarterback at the time of the throw or sack." In addition, "yards gained before close" was taken into account. This metric is meant to measure "the amount of rushing yards a running back gains before opposing defenders come within 1 yard of the player."
After compiling all of these stats, the Cowboys offensive line was left off of the list completely. Maybe even more surprising, however, was that the Philadelphia Eagles' line failed to crack the top ten as well. That's two lines with 3-4 Pro Bowl caliber players each missing the cut.
According to Matt Harmon the Cowboys allowed a pressure on 28.6% of Dak Prescott's dropbacks, 12th highest in the league. Dallas also ranked 20th in the league in YGBC in 2017.
While I do have some issues with the methodology of these statistics, the final result is actually hard to argue with. Down the stretch the Cowboys offense was downright pathetic at times. Regardless of how highly we thought of them prior to the year, the offense didn't perform to their standards, or the standards of a top ten unit.
Heading into 2018, however, I do expect this offensive line to begin to regain form. La'el Collins should continue to improve on the right side, and he is already an adequate starting right tackle regardless. I also expect Dallas to address their left guard spot, potentially within the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.
In the end the success of this line may hinge on the health of Tyron Smith, though. When healthy, Smith is the best left tackle in all of football. But that "when healthy" caveat has certainly hurt the Cowboys offense.
The way the front office handles their offensive line this offseason will play a huge role in the success, or lack thereof, of the Cowboys in 2018.
Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: CB Bene Benwikere
After playing sparsely for the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, veteran cornerback Bene Benwikere is set to be an unrestricted free agent. Could he stay in Dallas, or will he have to find work elsewhere?
Dallas was concerned about its CB depth with heavy reliance on young players and Jourdan Lewis barely participating in the offseason. Therefore, the Cowboys traded a sixth-round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for Benwikere just before Week One.
After a stellar rookie season with the Carolina Panthers in 2014, Bene had suffered a steep fall before landing in Cincy. Injuries and poor play got him cut midway through 2016 by the Panthers, and then Benwikere bounced from Miami to Green Bay before finally signing with the Bengals in the 2017 offseason.
Though a few years removed from being an All-Rookie Team standout, Bene Benwikere is still just 26 and may still draw interest from scouts who remember his better days. He is likely counting on that, because the Cowboys' secondary is starting to fill up.
The Cowboys currently have exciting sophomores Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis expected to start in 2018. Anthony Brown is back for his third season and will be active on game days.
Orlando Scandrick's future is cloudy, but Dallas won't get much cap relief from releasing him this season. They may elect to keep the veteran for one more year, which would all but fill out the CB depth chart.
Even if Scandrick leaves, talk that Dallas may move Byron Jones back to corner from safety would only leave Benwikere in the same disadvantaged position for finding work.
The best chance that Bene Benwikere has to stay with the Cowboys is if new Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard remembers him from 2014. Coaches often feel that can get more out of a player than the last guy, and Richard may see potential in Benwikere that his last few teams couldn't unlock.
Four years ago may be too long, though, and especially with a fresh new crop of young players coming into the league. Especially if they keep Scandrick, Dallas may want to use the rest of their roster spots on younger prospects.
As it stands, Bene Benwikere is unlikely to return to the Cowboys. However, given the flashes of potential he once showed in the NFL, you can't be certain that Dallas won't want to give him one more chance.
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