I can already feel you yelling at me based off of the title. Relax.
DeMarcus Ware was a great member of the Dallas Cowboys right up until the end when things just weren't working out. It was rough for Cowboys Nation loyalists to see D-Ware leave, but that's the business side of football and considering what Ware did five days ago I think he's good.
Where DeMarcus might not be good is in fiscal books of the Denver Broncos and their 2016 season. 'Ol #94 has a $11,666,668 Cap Number (per OverTheCap.com) for the 2016 season. That's a lot of pennies to pay someone considering that the Broncos have a ton of free agency decisions to make this offseason - like re-signing Super Bowl 50 MVP, Von Miller.
All of this is pretty common sense so people are starting to connect the dots (sidebar: Dots are one of the worst candies out there) and some hypotheticals where Ware returns back home to Dallas have been tossed out.
D-Ware is coming off of one of the finer months that he's ever had in his career. His performance in the Playoffs is a big reason why every hand inside the Denver Broncos organization got that much heavier last Sunday evening out in Santa Clara. Naturally, if he is to become available, some people want him back.
People... stop it.
DeMarcus is one of the finer Dallas Cowboys to have played over the last 20 years (a period I recently, and sadly, examined on a deep level). He will also be 34 years old when the 2016 season kicks off. That's really young in terms of the schemes of life, but that's not the case in the National Football League.
Ware dominated the Super Bowl, but let's look at a larger sample size. Here are his numbers in terms of sacks and tackles (that's what you pay pass rushers to get) over the last three regular seasons, a 48-game span:
|DeMarcus Ware (33 years)||2013||2014||2015||Avg|
Ware has only played in 40 of these games, averaging .59 sacks/game and 2.05 tackles/game. Let's see how he compares to to some other potential pass rushers that the Dallas Cowboys could bring in over the same span.
All of these numbers are pulled from Pro Football Reference. If you are unfamiliar with their Approximate Value (AV) metric, it is an attempt to put a single numerical value on a player's season. The greater the number, the greater that particular season for that player. Ware's 2013-2015 are the three lowest Approximate Values of his career excluding his rookie season.
|Greg Hardy (27 years)||2013||2014||2015||Avg|
Re-signing Greg Hardy is an option that the Cowboys have this offseason. Consider that Hardy is averaging just a half sack per year less than Ware over the last three seasons despite only playing one game in 2014. Hardy played in 29 games over this stretch (out of a possible 29, so he hasn't missed any due to injury) and posted Ware-like numbers over the same sample. Factor in that Hardy is six years younger and you have to start thinking, don't you?
Hardy's AV for 2013 was the highest of his career and 2015 (which some would say was disappointing for him) matches his second best. 2014 is an obvious outlier given that he only played one game.
|Olivier Vernon (25 years)||2013||2014||2015||Avg|
Now Olivier is likely going to command a nice chunk of change in free agency, and there's a reason that he should. While he might be more expensive than someone else, when you consider his youth you have to wonder if he's worth it. One of the bigger pieces of data that isn't stated above is that Vernon played all 48 of these games, so he's a pretty consistently healthy player.
It shouldn't be shocking that these three seasons are the three best Approximate Values of Olivier's four-year career.
|Mario Williams (31 years)||2013||2014||2015||Avg|
Super Mario has only missed one game over these last three seasons, and he averages the most sacks per season. He had a down year in 2015 despite having Rex Ryan as a Head Coach, and while Rex is really dysfunctional in a lot of ways he definitely knows how to build a defense and rush the quarterback. Nevertheless, Mario merits some serious consideration given his resume over this span.
Mario's 2013 was at the time the best AV of his career until he topped it in 2014. His down 2015 is tied for the sixth best of his career.
So let's look at all four of these players in terms of their averages over the last three seasons against one another:
|Scks/Season||Tckls/Season||Elig. Gms Missed|
First of all, when looking at Greg Hardy's numbers remember that his 2014 season (where he only played in one game) is actually factored into these measurements. Even then, he's still narrowly behind Ware in terms of his averages per season. Olivier and Mario are clearly a cut above the rest when it comes to sacks/season, but the biggest number that jumps out to me is the 8 for Ware.
Of the 48 possible games he has missed 8 - that's 17%. Neither Hardy nor Vernon have missed a game where they were eligible to play, and Mario has only missed one (2%). So not only is Ware the oldest player, not only is Ware the one who barely averages more sacks and tackles per season than Hardy despite Hardy's absence in 2014, but Ware is also the most likely to miss time during the season... 17% of the time to be specific.
I get that DeMarcus Ware has a history in Dallas and that it would be really cool for him to come home and teach the young guys, I get it. It's a nice story.
But haven't we moved on from chasing stories? Wasn't that the whole point of not re-signing DeMarcus two years ago? It seems that we are allowing ourselves to be prisoners of the moment and ignore some indisputable facts.
The current regime of the Dallas Cowboys has made a commitment to building teams the right way - the smart way. If DeMarcus Ware is willing to sign for a lower amount of money then of course we should listen, but do you really think the guy who was 50% of the reason why his team just won the Super Bowl is about to reduce himself in any capacity? Would you?
It would be a great story if Ware came back to Dallas and we could put the whole thing together, but that's not who we are anymore. We're no longer the story chasers, we're the Championship Chasers. Let's remember that.
Did a Year Away Help Rejuvenate TE Jason Witten’s Game?
Jason Witten is 37 years old, retired from the NFL after the completion of 2017 season to try his luck as an announcer in the booth, but has now decided to come out of retirement to rejoin the Dallas Cowboys? It seems a little unrealistic to think he can come back after a year away from the game and pick up where he left off, but it sounds as if he's like a Phoenix rising from the ashes.
Jason Witten has been the talk of Dallas Cowboys OTA practices so far. These practices are unpadded and basically just an opportunity to do install some of the offensive and defensive plays, but that doesn't make them any less important. One of the things that has been somewhat surprising though is how talked up the future Hall of Famer has become.
Here is what Head Coach Jason Garrett had to say recently about Jason Witten's return:
“Yeah, absolutely. He’s been excited about every part of it ever since I met him and that hasn’t changed,” coach Jason Garrett said. “The work that he’s done in the weight room in the off-season program has been outstanding. His testing numbers and all of that are what they’ve been or even better. And he just has an unbelievable way about him. Tremendous passion for the game. And he demonstrates that every day. Witt looks good. He’s excited to be back and we’re certainly fortunate to have him back.”
The main thing that stands out from Garrett's quote to me is how Jason Witten looks just as good, if not better after not playing at all in 2018. To think that his testing numbers are possibly even better is unfathomable. We typically don't see NFL players in their mid-30s retire from the game and then return just as good, or maybe even better than they were before.
Maybe that's just what Jason Witten is, a little inhuman. Maybe he's found the secret to turning the clock back just a little bit. Or, maybe he found the fountain the youth and didn't tell anybody. Regardless, there's no doubt Witten will be a welcomed addition to the Cowboys offense, especially if he's gained a step.
I don't know about all of you, but I'm hoping the year away from the game did him some good. I honestly thought he made the right decision to retire prior to the 2018 season. It just looked like father time was catching up to him in 2017. But, hopefully all he needed was a little time away from the grind he's been putting his body through for over a decade.
Whatever he's done hasn't gone unnoticed though. Even Quarterback Dak Prescott has noticed and said he's on to Witten's scheme.
“I guess the trick is to take a year off because he’s definitely gotten better, stronger and faster,” Prescott said. “He hasn’t lost a step.”
I'm not afraid to admit I wasn't too excited to see Witten come out of retirement and rejoin the Cowboys at first. I was skeptical he could be the player he once was after a year away from the game. But, all of this talk about him looking as good as he once was, perhaps better, has me really looking forward to seeing him on the field once again.
Do you think a year away has rejuvenated Jason Witten's game?
Cowboys en Español: El Verdadero Cambio en La Ofensiva
Los Dallas Cowboys tuvieron un interesante 2018. La ofensiva dejo mucho que desear toda la primera mitad de la temporada cuando carecían de un receptor número uno. No fue hasta media temporada cuando consiguieron a Amari Cooper de los Oakland Raiders, que la ofensiva comenzó a verse realmente amenazante. Siendo sinceros, el cuerpo de receptores de los Cowboys lucía muy débil al inicio y Michael Gallup aún no conseguía mucho tiempo de juego en el emparrillado. Incluso una vez en el equipo, a pesar de las grandes hazañas de Cooper en Dallas, la ofensiva no terminó de dar el siguiente paso.
Sí, con Amari en el equipo vimos un equipo de Cowboys que movía constantemente las cadenas e incluso se convirtió en una de las mejores unidades en tercera oportunidad en la liga, pero no fue suficiente. Los problemas en zona roja persistieron y continuamos viendo una selección de jugadas muy cuestionable semana tras semana.
Es por eso que al finalizar la temporada, la administración de los Cowboys finalmente tomó una decisión muy anticipada. El entonces coordinador ofensivo, Scott Linehan, fue despedido.
En cuanto a talento, los Dallas Cowboys no verán un cambio mayor en su ofensiva. Cole Beasley, uno de los mejores WR slot en la NFL, firmó con los Buffalo Bills durante la agencia libre. A pesar de la llegada de Randall Cobb, la ofensiva probablemente extrañará bastante a Beasley. Además está el regreso de Jason Witten al campo, quien se repartirá el balón mucho con los jóvenes del equipo, principalmente con Blake Jarwin. Por último, Travis Frederick podría estar de regreso como el centro titular. Fuera de eso, no se anticipan cambios de jugadores en la ofensiva.
Y a pesar de esto, la afición de los Cowboys espera ver un cambio grande entre la ofensiva del 2018 y la de 2019. Si las cosas salen bien, así será. Pero más que por el talento del equipo, que ya está ahí y es un muy buen talento, deberá ser por el hombre al mando.
Kellen Moore ha tomado las riendas como el nuevo coordinador ofensivo y finalmente podremos ver su potencial. Muchos han criticado a Moore, en gran parte por nunca haber sido un quarterback exitoso en la NFL. Sin embargo, hay muchas razones por las cuales deberíamos estar emocionados.
Desde que Moore salió de la universidad de Boise State, se le veía como un prospecto muy inteligente. Incluso analistas como Jon Gruden (en ese entonces conductor del programa de ESPN Gruden's QB Camp) mencionaban que Moore probablemente no sería un gran mariscal, pero que tenía la mente de un coach.
En Boise, Moore trabajaba con la ofensiva del actual coach de los Washington Huskies, Chris Petersen. Esta ofensiva es una muy complicada que le exige al mariscal saber casi tanto como un jugador profesional. Muchos han descrito a Moore como un genio ofensivo que será un gran coach en el futuro.
Para los Cowboys, Kellen Moore será una pieza clave en 2019. Si vemos una ofensiva realmente diferente, será gracias a su creatividad y filosofía que implementa a un grupo bastante talentoso en Dallas. Los jugadores están ahí, ¿sabrá el coordinador ofensivo de 30 años aprovecharlos?
NFL to Study Marijuana Use, Will It Impact Randy Gregory’s Status?
The NFLPA and the NFL have reached an agreement to research alternative pain-management tools for the players. They'll form joint medical committees to study different strategies, among which will be the use of marijuana. It's important to make it clear that said committees will not be exclusively about marijuana, but a lot of different issues related to pain-management in the league. However, it'll likely be one of the most important aspects of their work.
Marijuana continues to be a highly debated topic and it's no different when discussing the NFL. Dallas Cowboys fans should be very familiar with the situation. Earlier this year, David Irving "quit" on football during an Instagram live stream while smoking weed. In the video, Irving talks about how he thinks it's better to be addicted to marijuana rather than certain medications used by NFL teams to treat their players.
Although David Irving is not an authority on substances, that is where all of this debate centers around. Throughout the league, players are given strong medication to deal with injuries and the physical pain of playing pro football. I'm not an expert either, but it's more than fair to say there's a strong argument here. Specially in a country where marijuana has already been legalized in 10 states and the trend points toward legalization continuing.
The current CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) between the NFL and NFLPA will expire after the 2020 season and how the league's drug policy looks like in the new agreement will be a huge factor for reaching a satisfactory CBA for both sides.
Of course, the fact that the NFLPA and the league are working together on such an important task doesn't mean we will see any immediate changes or that the NFL's ban on marijuana will be lifted anytime soon. Many big question marks will have to be answered before we hear about teams implementing this substance as a pain management tool.
For the Dallas Cowboys, this will be a relevant narrative down the line. Pass rusher Randy Gregory was reinstated after serving an indefinite suspension due to substance abuse prior to the 2018 season. After a dominant year, Gregory was suspended again by the NFL and it all points toward him sitting out this upcoming season and perhaps even more.
Even still, the Cowboys are still standing behind their 2015 second round pick. If the league ends up lifting its ban on marijuana, they'll have to decide what they will do with players already serving a suspension for this reason. Guys like Randy Gregory, for instance. If it's decided they'll be reinstated to the NFL, the Cowboys will sure be glad to have supported Gregory all throughout the process.
Last year, the pass rusher proved how effective he could be even with a short period of time training. Hopefully, the Cowboys are able to get him back on the field eventually, where's been consistently dominant. In the meantime, we'll see how recently acquired Robert Quinn does in Dallas.
The NFL won't be lifting its ban anytime soon, but it's good to know they're at least open minded to changing the league's policy and consider alternatives that could benefit the players' health. We'll see how these new medical committees work and keep you updated here at Inside The Star.
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