Cowboys fans are getting on my nerves! I love you guys, but if I have to read one more time how Jason Garrett should be fired because Brandon Weeden is winning with the Houston Texans, I might very well puke. That's not too strong a reaction, is it? Certainly feels like an apt description.
I don't mean to start this off so negatively; regardless of how it sounds, I love my Cowboys as much today as the day I became a fan (1992 Super Bowl). It's just that I've gained the rather miserable perspective over the years that the Dallas Cowboys are not Dallas Cowboys fans.
I'm free to hate on one without condemning the other. A trait far too uncommon for my liking.
The only way I know to alleviate my pain is to make a case in hopes that someone might learn something from it. If all else fails, it should suffice as an effective <rant>.
So, all you Cowboys fans out there, and an insane number of Cowboys haters, too, here's what's up.
The mere existence of success by one player on one team after his failure on another team means nothing but how he fit into the scheme of each team. I keep seeing people talking trash about how Jason Garrett should be fired because he lost games with a quarterback that went on to win with another team immediately, and it's all hogwash. Absolute bullshit.
First of all, the Cowboys have continued to lose behind 2 other quarterbacks besides Brandon Weeden. How on earth people can draw any conclusions without first accounting for that is beyond me, but there you go. If 3 guys can't get it done, with all their varying levels of skill and experience, then no one of those 3 guys can be assigned blame or credit. They can only be assigned a measurable lack of credit as individuals. We're not talking about Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Tom Brady behind Tony Romo; then you could blame the coaches.
Second, the only guy to start a game we've won this year at quarterback isn't just another plug-n-play peripheral; he's the franchise quarterback. Yes, in 2 of the 4 wins this season the Cowboys finished the game with a backup quarterback, but that only attests to an ability not to lose the game.
Romo already won it, dammit.
Finally, keep in mind that while Weeden traded the Cowboys for the Texans and started winning games, Ryan Mallett traded the Texans for the Baltimore Ravens and started winning games, too.
The bottom line is no matter what you think of Weeden, Matt Cassel, Kellen Moore, or Tony Romo, what any one of those guys does on another team has feck-all to do with the Dallas Cowboys.
I can't argue that Tony Romo being healthy would've created more wins for the team, but I concede that only because I know that the defacto standard 12-4 record just wasn't in the cards for these 2015 Dallas Cowboys, with or without him.
Say what you will about injuries, and lord knows the Bruce Arians-commanded Arizona Cardinals bought into it wholesale last year, but injuries do affect the overall performance of a team. You can't pin every loss on injuries, short of 90-percent of the starting roster being on injured reserve, of course, but it does contribute to the woes of a football club.
Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Orlando Scandrick; put these guys in for all 16 games this year and you've got at least a few more wins. Maybe even 8-8 after all is said and done.
But then you've got guys like Morris Claiborne, Sean Lee, Randy Gregory, Cole Beasley, Jason Witten, and Brice Butler all having repeated injury issues throughout the year. It's a lot of small pieces that make up a football team and, as far as small pieces go, some of those guys are pretty big in the overall scheme of things.
Not seeing my point? Just look at the way Brice Butler and Kellen Moore worked together on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills; they've been practicing with each other more than any other QB/WR combo and it showed on the field. Remember, these two had experience together before ending up together on the Cowboys this year.
Never underestimate chemistry and familiarity.
Romo and Witten have had both for a long time and look at the rewards it's brought us. Romo and Dez Bryant are working on something similar, as are Romo and Cole Beasley. It's not just about Xs and Os on the field; it's also about knowing what the other guy is going to do.
So no, had Tony Romo been healthy all season, these Cowboys wouldn't be ruling any universes. There are simply far more variables than just one guy, albeit a guy capable of creating opportunities otherwise missed.
I like the guy. I thought that he showed good things against the New York Jets and again against the Bills, but "good things" loosely translates to "better than the last guy." To borrow a phrase from Bill Parcells, we're not anointing anyone yet, and for good reason.
Tony Romo is the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. Short of Roger Staubach or Joe Montana stepping into their glory days next Sunday in a Cowboys uniform, Moore, Cassel, and Weeden were only ever vying for 1st place loser. So what does it really matter that Moore hasn't been as bad as his immediate predecessors? He's not unseating the incumbent.
That said, I was talking with the guys over at the Pigskin Hub forums today about Kellen Moore and it occurred to me that I've been rooting for him just like so many other fans have rooted for him. Given the situation this team is in, I like what Moore has done these last 5 quarters of football; interceptions be damned. When you're 4-10, a couple of interceptions and errant throws are to be expected. And that's the problem; we're spoiled. We're spoiled by the way this team operated last year with Tony and Dez taking advantage of DeMarco Murray's ground game.
The second Romo went down in week 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles, hordes of fans dressed in black and called the season. Even more joined them on Thanksgiving Day against the then undefeated Carolina Panthers.
We're so used to being up Schitt's Creek once Tony Romo gets injured that we're clamoring for anyone to wow us. As if a guy who went undrafted and spent the majority of his time on practices squads the last 4 years before clearing waivers multiple times this year is going to start popping out wins like Golden Eggs or something.
I hate the way this team has performed this year. I can find just as many bright spots and consolations as the next guy to get me through, but when it comes right down to it, the 2015 Dallas Cowboys have sucked. And it's been hard as hell keeping optimistic all this time, but I've done it, as most of you have done it.
You know your team's in trouble when advancing draft position is big news. Just saying.
Coaching changes have been on-going for several years now. If you think Jason Garrett is the problem, that he's too lenient or doesn't understand the game of football, whatever your particular brand of hate happens to be, then why do the Cowboys even employ assistant coaches? They obviously mean nothing to the success or failure of the team so why hire them in the first place?
Because Garrett is a manager. He manages shit. He sets goals and agendas and trains his people to carry out their tasks in a way that fits some grand plan he's concocted. He does not sit at the helm of a ship barking orders to machine-like pilots and co-pilots to steer the thing, he has to rely on these men to do their jobs. That is, to produce results from their guys (the players).
Jason Garrett merely manages things.
The next time you're complaining about how someone on the team is playing, try looking at other guys in that unit as well. There are coaches for the wide receivers, tight ends, quarterbacks, offensive linemen, running backs, linebackers, cornerbacks, safeties, and defensive linemen; and each of those guys are as crucial to the success of every play as Jason Garrett is.
I hate to be obtuse about this but it is a team sport.
There. I'm done. I've said my peace. I can now go about my day with a renewed sense of optimism for the new year - personally, professionally, and as a football fan. Thanks for sticking around for my little </rant>. Happy New Year!
P.S., Mad respect to @DCBlueStar for the cover image used on this post.
Should Cowboys Sign This RFA to a Contract Sheet?
Fortune favors the bold. It's a rough translation of an old Latin proverb and the mantra I believe the Dallas Cowboys should indoctrinate this offseason.
I think it's time the Dallas Cowboys start to make a few bold moves. I truly believe they are close to competing for a championship title and one or two offseason moves could increase those odds. One such move would be to sign restricted free agent (RFA) Shaquil Barrett to an offer sheet.
It's expected that the Denver Broncos will place a second-round tender on Barrett and I think the Dallas Cowboys would be wise to explore the possibility of signing him to a contract sheet. If Denver declines to match the offer, the Cowboys would then send them their second round draft pick as compensation.
You on board?
Probably not at this point, but let me try to explain why I believe this is a good move on the Cowboys part, even if it is an uncharacteristic one.
You see, the Cowboys could definitely use someone to play opposite DeMarcus Lawrence and I think Shaquil Barrett could be the solution.
I know it sounds like a lot to give up a second round draft pick, but the Cowboys have been deplorable at drafting players in the second round the past decade. Sean Lee, DeMarcus Lawrence, and possibly Jaylon Smith have really been the only "hits" the Cowboys have found in the second round. That's simply unacceptable!
So, why not use that second rounder to acquire a player who is already a proven commodity in the NFL?
I know the first thing a lot of you are going to do is to look up Shaquil Barrett's stats to see what he has accomplished in the NFL. But, stats don't always show the big picture.
You see, Barrett has been stuck behind some pretty talented pass rushers in Denver, so his statistics aren't going to jump off the paper. But, when given the opportunity he has proven he deserves a larger role. That's where the Dallas Cowboys come in.
The Broncos probably don't have the money to keep Shaquil Barrett if the Cowboys sign him to a contract sheet. It doesn't necessarily even have to be a big money contract offer. The Broncos simply don't have the salary cap to do much, especially considering they are still looking for a starting quarterback.
I honestly like the idea of the Cowboys going after Barrett. You may have forgotten, but he gave a healthy Tyron Smith fits last season.
With an injured Shane Ray, Shaquil Barrett got the start against the Cowboys in 2017 and finished the game with two quarterback hits, six QB pressures, and five stops. No other player found that kind of success against Tyron Smith all season, even when he was banged up.
Unfortunately, when Shane Ray returned, Barrett's usage on defense declined. That's why you can't always judge a players productivity by statistics. You have to judge him more on a per-snap basis, and if you do that you will discover he was very effective as both a pass rusher and run stopper.
I believe Barrett is ready for a full-time role. Yes, he has been used as a standup 3-4 OLB with the Broncos, but he has the required traits to put his hand on the ground and maintain his effectiveness.
The downside to all of this is the Dallas Cowboys would have to give up their second-round draft pick, but draft picks are sometimes overvalued anyways. Shaquil Barrett is probably better than anybody the Cowboys could draft in the second round, so I say pull the trigger.
Should the Cowboys sign Shaquil Barrett to a contract sheet?
Could a Former Division Rival be Cowboys’ LG Solution?
When it comes to prioritizing the Dallas Cowboys offseason needs, offensive guard is definitely near the top of the list. Opinions will certainly vary, but for me, solidifying the offensive line with a new starting left guard is the top priority for the Cowboys.
I know many of you will disagree and believe the Dallas Cowboys need to continue to upgrade their defense. But, this teams success or failure will be determined by how their offensive line performs. That's just the way the Cowboys are built, which is why they have invested so heavily putting this unit together.
Four out of five of the Dallas Cowboys starting offensive line is set in stone, but there is currently no one on the roster to step into the vacant left guard position unless you want to see the coaching staff give Chaz Green another try.
No, I didn't think so.
With the start of the 2018 free agency just a few weeks away, the Dallas Cowboys have certainly narrowed down some of the potential free agents they would be interested in bringing aboard if the price is right. Remember, they have turned into "bargain shoppers".
There are a few intriguing free agent options who I believe could step in to upgrade the LG position for the Cowboys next season, and not break the bank. One such option is a former division rival of the New York Giants, Justin Pugh.
The former 19th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft has spent five years in New York while playing out his rookie contract, but that time has come to an end. The Giants aren't likely to re-sign him, which means he will get his first taste of free agency.
Justin Pugh could step in and be an immediate upgrade over what the Dallas Cowboys employed at the left guard position in 2017. He has exceptional mobility. He reaches the second level with ease and plays with good body control and footwork. He is a perfect fit in a zone blocking scheme like the Cowboys employ.
Pugh is also versatile. He has played both right tackle and offensive guard for the Giants. He of course would be asked to play between Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith at LG with the Cowboys, but versatility to play another position is never a bad thing.
Unfortunately, Pugh doesn't come without baggage. He has missed a total of 13 games over the last two seasons with the Giants, including eight last season due to a back injury. This is definitely a huge red flag, especially for the Cowboys after dealing with the same issue with Tyron Smith.
But, this is why Justin Pugh will likely be in the Cowboys price range. Sportrac currently estimates his contract at 4 years at $23,983,847, which equates to $5,995,968 annually. I personally think that's a little low for someone of Pugh's caliber and versatility, but it certainly understandable when you take into account his recent injury history.
I personally think this is a longshot to happen because the Cowboys would prefer to go younger and cheaper, but it wouldn't surprise me.
Do you think Justin Pugh makes sense for the Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys Wishlist: 2018 Free Agency Edition
Sadly, we can't wake up on Sundays to NFL football. The Dallas Cowboys are not on TV every week for us to watch them play. To make matters worse, we'll have to wait until September to get real football from our favorite team.
But that doesn't mean there's nothing to talk about until then! For the die-hard Cowboys fan, the offseason should be quite entertaining. Free agency will begin in March, and it should be an intense one for Dallas.
They need to handle a tight salary cap while trying to add a bit of help for this football team. Recently, Inside The Star Contributor John Williams wrote an in-depth piece about the Cowboys' cap situation and how they can manage to get things done, despite having little cap space right now.
Last season, I wrote a weekly Cowboys Wishlist about things I wanted to see for each game. Now there are no games, but I decided to write a special edition for this upcoming free agency.
Wish #1: Keep The Rushmen
The front office will have one hell of a challenge trying to retain all of its free agents. The two most important ones may be their two defensive linemen. If they can keep them, DL won't be a top need heading to the Draft.
Lawrence is one of the biggest names in free agency this 2018, but the Cowboys should find a way to keep him from ever being available.
If they're able to franchise tag him, that'd be the way to go since he's only had one elite season in his four-year career and they may not want to sign him to a huge long-term deal and risk not seeing the same guy next season.
David Irving is a more polarizing player, with off-the-field issues. However, he's been a very disruptive guy and he has the chance to be a unique player. His talent is really out of this world. Keeping him and Irving would give this franchise a top defensive line for the first time in many years.
Wish #2: Pay Anthony Hitchens
When healthy, Sean Lee is one of the NFL's top linebackers. He is simply an outstanding player who's always around the ball and seems to know where the ball is going before the opposing coach even calls the play.
The problem is, he has a lot of trouble remaining available. Anthony Hitchens is a guy who's found the way to step up every time the General is out, and he's shown a great progression as a player year after year.
Lee will be 32 by the time the season starts, giving Dallas something to think about. Hitchens is a guy capable of starting and competing in the NFL. If the front office finds a way to keep him, they'll be getting closer to being less "Sean Lee-dependent."
Wish #3: Get Seattle Seahawks' Earl Thomas
When we talk about a potential big name addition to the Dallas Cowboys, we're usually a bit pessimistic. This team isn't one that makes splashes like this, but Earl Thomas to Dallas makes a ton of sense. Former Seahawks' defensive coordinator is now the Cowboys' defensive backs' coach.
With Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis (and maybe Byron Jones moving to CB), this team will have a promising secondary. Add Earl Thomas, and it will go from "promising" to "great" in a heartbeat.
The Cowboys could not only have a top DL, but a top secondary if they're able to get this veteran.
Let's hope the Cowboys listen to Thomas and they go get him.
Wish #4: Get Dez Bryant to Take a Pay Cut
When I started writing this, I wanted to add a "get this wide receiver in FA"... but I won't. A few weeks ago, I wrote a case in favor and one against Dez Bryant remaining a Cowboy in 2018. Personally, I would be fine with him parting ways with the team.
However, I'm aware of how hard it can be finding a replacement for a guy like #88. The biggest issue with Dez is definitely his cap hit. He hasn't justified the money he's being paid on the field as he should be.
If they can get him to take a pay cut, it may end up being the ideal scenario for the Dallas Cowboys.
It'll be a very interesting offseason, and here at Inside The Star we'll continue to provide you with content about it all.
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