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.
Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches
Lamentablemente, la temporada 2018 de los Dallas Cowboys ha llegado a su fin. Lo hizo cuando el equipo visitó Los Angeles para intentar sorprender a los Rams en su propio campo en la Ronda Divisional de los playoffs. Ni siquiera con una invasión exitosa de la afición de Dallas pudieron ganarse un pase al Campeonato de Conferencia. En vez de eso, los Cowboys estarán viendo desde casa y la afición estará preguntándose: ¿qué sigue para los Dallas Cowboys?
Parece ya una tradición anual que no podemos dejar pasar. Este momento en el que comenzamos a cuestionar, una vez más, que entrenador es digno de quedarse en la franquicia y cual debe irse. En esta edición de "Cowboys en Español," hablaremos específicamente de los tres principales coaches en el equipo.
Coordinador Defensivo Rod Marinelli
El futuro del coordinador defensivo de los Dallas Cowboys no se puede tratar sin mencionar a Kris Richard. Fue la defensiva la que llevó al equipo hasta la postemporada y fue la unidad que cargó al equipo en muchas de sus victorias. Incluso con la llegada de Amari Cooper a Dallas, la defensiva fue siempre el pilar de la franquicia esta temporada.
Jaylon Smith y Leighton Vander Esch sorprendentemente se perfilaron como uno de los mejores duos de linebackers en toda la liga, la línea defensiva fue muy exitosa con Randy Gregory y DeMarcus Lawrence en los extremos y con la grata sorpresa que fue Antwaun Woods en el centro. La secundaria vio la mejor temporada en la controversial carrera de Byron Jones e hizo un excelente trabajo con un talento decente, pero no genial.
Todo esto, y el haber terminado como la sexta mejor defensiva en puntos permitidos (20.2) y la quinta mejor contra la corrida (94.6), hace a Rod Marinelli merecedor de una ronda de aplausos. Sin embargo, Richard probablemente merezca más aplausos.
Fue Richard quien revolucionó la defensiva de los Cowboys y la convirtió en un grupo mucho más agresivo. Fue él quien implementó jugadas de "blitz" en el equipo (algo no común con Marinelli) y quien en un punto de la temporada, comenzó a seleccionar las jugadas desde la banda.
En esta posición, me parece que los Dallas Cowboys tienen que enfrentar la dura decisión de decirle a Marinelli que es tiempo de dejarle el puesto a Kris Richard. Si bien no se llevó un trabajo de head coach, es muy probable que le llovieran ofertas a Richard si no se hace con el título de coordinador defensivo en Dallas.
Coordinador Ofensivo Scott Linehan
Con un equipo tan polémico como este, la afición de Dallas no concuerda en muchas cosas. Sin embargo, lo hacen al hablar del pésimo trabajo que Scott Linehan ha realizado mandando las jugadas en ofensiva. Realmente ha sido doloroso de ver y es en mi opinión, el mayor problema que tiene el equipo actualmente.
Semana tras semana, fuimos testigos de pésimas decisiones en la ofensiva de los Cowboys. Vimos como el equipo se aferraba a llenar la caja de defensivos antes de correr el balón con Ezekiel Elliott. Vimos incontables pases pantalla en tercera oportunidad y largo. Pero no solo es lo que vimos, sino lo que no vimos.
A pesar de la innegable habilidad para correr el balón de Dak Prescott, Linehan se rehusó a explotar esta versatilidad de su QB. Vimos pocos "QB sneaks," jugada donde el mariscal toma el balón bajo centro y consigue poco yardage detrás del empuje de su línea ofensiva.
Siendo honestos, los Cowboys llevan dos años sufriendo por este coordinador. Dejarlo volver en el 2019 sería una decisión ridícula. Los comentarios en la radio de Jason Garrett no lucen prometedores, pero realmente sería una sorpresa que fueran ciertos. Linehan no debe volver... punto.
Head Coach Jason Garrett
El futuro en esta posición será muy debatido durante los próximos meses, pero de los tres que hemos mencionado es sin lugar a dudas el más seguro de todos. Nos guste o no, Jason Garrett estará al frente del equipo la próxima temporada.
Garrett está lejos de ser un gran coach y aún le hace falta demostrar que puede cumplir las aspiraciones de los Cowboys de traer un sexto Trofeo Lombardi a casa. Pero siendo honesto, este equipo debería tener suficiente con Garrett y un par de buenos coordinadores. ¿El problema? No hay un par de buenos coordinadores en el equipo.
Sin embargo, Garrett ha demostrado que cuenta con el amor y apoyo de sus jugadores. Ha demostrado que efectivamente, puede ganar la división (lo ha hecho en tres de los últimos cinco años). Este año el equipo le dio la vuelta a la temporada después de comenzar 3-5.
Lo más preocupante en mi opinión, es la falta de urgencia para despedir a Linehan, por ejemplo. Quizá a puerta cerrada Garrett quiere un cambio en su staff, pero nunca lo sabremos.
Jason Garrett no es un coach excelente, pero podría ser suficiente para llevar a los Cowboys a un Super Bowl si tiene un equipo adecuado. Todo parece indicar que su trabajo está seguro (incluso más de lo que pensamos) así que es tiempo de esperar que se arreglen sus coordinadores.
2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch
As the first round draft pick of America's Team, any player would be under a ton of pressure from all angles. Whether it's from the fans on the outside or the organization on the inside, the expectations around being a first round pick for the Cowboys are immense. But the pressure placed upon linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, from the second he was announced as the 19th overall draft pick, was second to none.
It felt like Cowboys Nation let out a collective groan when Vander Esch was taken, with fans hoping for a more glamorous first round selection. Someone like wide receiver Calvin Ridley or edge rusher Harold Landry would've done the trick, but after Vander Esch's rookie season it's hard to imagine either of those players would have had the impact Vander Esch did in 2018.
Though he didn't start a game until week 4, and didn't become the unquestioned full-time starting WILL until week 10, Vander Esch earned Pro Bowl honors for his rookie season. Tallying 140 total tackles and 2 interceptions, Vander Esch made his presence felt week in and week out.
No counting stats can fully measure Leighton Vander Esch's impact as a rookie, however.
Prior to the 2018 season, the Cowboys defensive success often came down to the health of Sean Lee. When available and playing at his best, Lee led an overachieving Cowboys defense to solid performances each week. But, when Lee went out (as he often did), the entire Cowboys defense seemed to fall apart.
This year, though, that all changed. When Sean Lee was out with injury the Cowboys defense got better. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith became a versatile, hard hitting tandem the NFL immediately feared, and helped to direct the Cowboys defense to signature wins throughout the 2018 season.
There are arguments against taking any off-ball linebacker in the first round, as the value of the position has been questioned due to the new style of offense in the NFL. Nowadays linebackers are relegated to two-down players, taken off the field in favor of faster defensive backs on critical passing downs.
Leighton Vander Esch is athletic enough to be both an old school run stopper, but also a three down linebacker in today's fast paced NFL.
Despite the doubts which surrounded the pick, the Cowboys absolutely nailed their first round selection in 2018. And Leighton Vander Esch made Dallas' front office look like geniuses each and every Sunday.
What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?
Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.
Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.
They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?
Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.
Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.
Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.
Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.
Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.
This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.
The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.
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