As a Dallas Cowboys fan I am excited to know that it’s only two days until the first game of the season, albeit only a preseason game I’m still looking forward to seeing my ‘Boys in blue kicking some tail on the turf once again.
Needless to say, I, and many of you too, was left with a bitter taste in my mouth after the crushing defeat at the hands of the Eagles last season. It was the icing on a crap cake after all the injuries and drama fueled on by the mediots in need of a story. So some of it turned out to be true, or more true than the Cowboys organization wanted us to believe at the time, it merely turned a sad and frustrating situation into a disappointing end of an era and end of a season that started so full of promise.
But as a blogger I’ve been feeling somewhat without during this training camp.
Maybe it’s because my fandom has found itself in the backseat for the last month as life presented me with much more pressing issues to contend with than finding a way to watch the games at work and the best places for complete camp coverage.
From the numerous and annoying references to “Coachable” Roy Williams on the DMN – you know what I’m talking about – to the news of players being held of practices and those slated to miss the preseason opener in California this Thursday evening. It’s been enough to read, but nothing to get excited about.
The only real bright spot coming out of camp, considering that we don’t get the full scoop on everything being done as far as plays and schemes go is the increased communication between Williams and Tony Romo. You know, the kind of communication that makes Cowboys fans cheer until their throats are sore and opposing fans boo their own teams’ secondary. Pass and catch.
So now we have Terence Newman and mike Jenkins both out and while the word is that neither injury is serious, it causes me great concern. Didn’t we hear the same thing last year when Newman got hurt in camp? Didn’t he end up missing like six games in total because of that “not too serious” injury?
What about the injuries that aren’t too serious, after last season how can any of us really believe that the severity of the injury at first means anything? I mean we pretty much knew what was up with Felix Jones last year, and it was a totally different and non-football related injury that landed him on injured reserve for more than half of the season.
It makes it harder to be a fan when you see things like I am seeing them now, undoubtedly, but it’s the eternal optimist in me that still peaks it’s head to let know these Cowboys could do it this year.
We’ve got all but one of the weapons that we had in 2007 when we outscored all but one team in the league and lead the NFC. The one weapon we’re missing is missing because he began to backfire on us every other game by doing interviews with the likes of Deion Sanders and steadily causing the ball to be forced his way far too often, and I might add into the hands of a quick defender far too often as well.
Our defense is missing some of the bigger and long standing forces of the past in guys like Greg Ellis and Anthony Henry. But we’ve finally broken free of the liability known very simply as Mr. Horse Collar a.k.a. SS Roy Williams. Not only that, but we also replaced him with a guy that can do what safety in a 3-4 defense should do best – cover – and he does it better than a lot of other guys around the league at his position. Now maybe that’s an overstatement since we haven’t seen him in a game yet and especially since the first preseason game will be a very short one for him. Gerald Sensabaugh is likely the biggest upgrade we’ve made on defense in several years, aside from the miracle of drafting DeMarcus Ware.
We even get the sheer joy of having one the leagues all-time defensive minds not only leading our defense, but taking direct and hands on control of it as the new defensive coordinator by title and duty.
Even the special teams unit has gotten a huge face lift with a new coach known for running a tight and very effective unit in Joe DeCamillis. Add to it the return of a healthy core of kick and punt returners and the addition of some muscle and athleticism from the new linebackers drafted this year, and you’ve got a special teams unit that should be vastly better than the one we booed so often in 2008.
So yeah, maybe the steady and somewhat unremarkable progress during camp has made things boring for a blogger like me, but for a fan, things are definitely looking up.
Are you ready for some football?
What Would a Successful Season Mean for Kellen Moore’s Future?
Out of every chess piece moved by the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, the decision to name 30-year old Kellen Moore might be the most interesting one. Not only that, but it could be the one that makes the biggest impact on the team. After all, the Cowboys are ready to go talent wise.
With Kellen Moore taking up a new role, it's intriguing to imagine what a successful season would mean for his future with the Dallas Cowboys. Truth be told, Moore is in a pretty fortunate position to debut as an offensive coordinator. He'll be driving a unit full of talented players with almost no weak links. Last year, it wasn't the lack of quality players lined up that had the offense struggling throughout the season, but the guy in charge.
At first, the philosophy of not needing a #1 wide receiver clearly blew up on the Cowboys face. The passing game in Dallas needed a spark and they didn't find it until they traded a first rounder for Amari Cooper. Cooper's impact on the team was clear right away as he put on impressive performances on a weekly basis.
But even when Cooper was at his best, the offense still presented relevant struggles. Despite getting more first downs, the Cowboys still had trouble scoring touchdowns when in the red zone and kept leaving points on the field.
Although he's been a controversial conversation among members of Cowboys Nation, there are a few reasons to be excited about what Kellen Moore can bring to the table as a young offensive coordinator. Ever since he declared for the NFL Draft out of Boise State, where he ran a very complex offense on his way to become the QB with most wins in NCAA history, he was seen by many as an extremely smart prospect. Many expected him to have a mediocre career as a player, but saw him as a potential coach down the line.
Now it's his chance to prove the world just how smart he is and his potential as a coach. He will not only be proving it to the Cowboys organization, but all of the NFL and college football teams. Don't forget what NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah mentioned a few months ago.
I've mentioned this before- Kellen Moore is a rising star and he'll be in the mix for HC gigs (CFB or NFL) in the near future. https://t.co/hLjOb4HAUc
With a great group of talent at his disposal, it's fair to imagine Moore having a pretty successful "rookie" season at a major coaching position. If he indeed manages to turn heads with the Dallas Cowboys offense in 2019, what does that mean for his future?
In a league that's turning to the young offensive-minded coaches thanks to guys like Sean McVay, is it possible one team decides to pull the trigger and make him an offer for a head coaching gig? It certainly would seem premature, but it's still a possibility in the NFL, where teams have become increasingly impatient with their coaches.
I definitely wouldn't be surprised if next offseason, we're concerned about another team (college or NFL) trying to snatch Moore off the Cowboys. I insist in pointing out this would be a premature decision if it does happen, since Moore has very little experience, but looking at the trend in the NFL it certainly could happen.
This might be the most important year in Kellen Moore's young career. For now, let's hope he does a good job leading Dak Prescott in his fourth year as a professional player and an offense that has a solid OL and a pretty good set of skill players.
Connor Williams Working as Left Tackle in Cowboys Practice
Second-year guard Connor Williams has been working as the Cowboys' left tackle during practice this week. While this isn't the plan for him in 2019, it does provide a glimpse into potential uses for Williams down the road and how Dallas might handle future offensive line moves.
Using Connor at LT this week has been a matter of necessity. The top players on that depth chart, Tyron Smith and Cameron Fleming, were not participating for other reasons.
With Tyron Smith getting a vet day and Cam Fleming not practicing because of a bruised shin, Connor Williams worked at left tackle Wednesday. He said it was his first left tackle snaps since he was at Texas. He said it felt like riding a bike after a little bit.
Indeed, Williams spent three years at left tackle in college. It was the last position he'd played before being drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft by Dallas, who immediately moved him to guard.
Connor started 10 of 13 games at guard last season. He played mostly on the left side, starting Weeks 1-9, before getting injured. Xavier Su'a-Filo played well enough in his absence that Williams didn't get the starting job back when he was healthy. However, when Zack Martin had to miss a few games at the end of the year, Connor started a right guard for those two weeks.
When Martin returned for the playoffs, Williams was back as the starting left guard in both postseason games.
Tyron Smith and Cam Fleming will be your starter and backup at left tackle next year. But for 2020 and beyond, Connor Williams' ability to play tackle creates some interesting possibilities.
La'el Collins will be an unrestricted free agent next year. Fleming will still have one year left on his deal and Dallas just spent a third-round pick on the versatile Connor McGovern. Throw in that Williams can play some tackle, and it seems as if they're covering bases for Collins eventual departure.
We could very well see a starting lineup in 2020 with McGovern at LG and Williams at RT. Another possibility is that Fleming starts at RT and Williams stays at guard, but can be moved to tackle if needed.
If nothing else, it's nice to know that Dallas has options. We may never see Connor Williams play a regular season snap at left tackle, but versatility is a great asset. It can greatly increase a player's value, and give his team some leverage and flexibility in roster management.
For the Cowboys, it does make you wonder what the future holds for the offensive line.
Undrafted WR Jon’Vea Johnson Turning Heads at Cowboys OTAs
Former Toledo Wide Receiver didn't receive an invite to the 2019 NFL Combine or hear his name called in any of the seven rounds at this year's NFL Draft, but that doesn't mean he doesn't possess the talent to make someone's roster in the league. After signing with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent, he's hoping he's found that team and his forever home.
The journey for Jon'Vea Johnson to earn one of those coveted final 53-man roster spots with the Dallas Cowboys is going to be a long one. This year's roster is deep from top to bottom, which means making it as an undrafted free agent is going to be extremely difficult. But, luckily for him he is already starting to turn a few heads at the Cowboys OTAs.
Here's what Cowboys Wide Receiver Coach Sanjay Lal recently had to say about Jon'Vea:
"Not a surprise, because we loved his film, but Jon'Vea the last two days, his speed and athleticism and how smooth he is has shown up here – almost a little bit earlier than we thought it would. Because we think he's going to process. Most young guys are thinking a lot, but he's done a good job of learning his plays and coming out and showing what he can do."
Considering coaches typically try their hardest not to single out any one player in these OTA practices, that's pretty high praise from Sanjay Lal.
It's important to remember the Dallas Cowboys had Jon'Vea Johnson in as one of their 30 pre-draft visitors, so you know they had a draftable grade on him already. Getting him as an undrafted free agent probably felt like a win for them, and more so now that he's off to a good start.
Johnson actually has a few things going for him that may set him apart from other WRs currently on the Cowboys roster. He has the versatility to play on the outside or in the slot, but it's his speed that really makes him stand out from the rest.
At his Pro Day, Jon'Vea ran an unofficial 4.38 40-yard dash. That would've ranked among the best to run the 40 at this year's Scouting Combine. But that's not all… he tested pretty well in other areas as well: 35" vertical and a 10'8" broad jump. Not bad for a 5'10", 190 pound undrafted wide receiver.
As good as all of this sounds, Johnson still has a long ways to go in order to lock down a roster spot. The Cowboys have some pretty talented WRs on the roster and he's going to have to clearly outperform quite a few of them to earn his way onto the final 53-man roster. But, it's encouraging he's already off to a good start.
We've seen players stand out in these kind of unpadded practices before, so I'd probably hold off on anointing him just yet. For his sake though, it's always a good thing to catch the eye of your coaches in a positive way.
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