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Cowboys Aren’t Responsible for a Player’s Poor Life Choices

John Williams

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Cowboys en Español: Obteniendo un Trade Por La Selección #28, ¿Richard Sherman?
Vernon Bryant / The Dallas Morning News

With the most recent news about a Dallas Cowboys player having an "altercation," many have thrown shade grenades in Jason Garrett and the Cowboys organization's direction. I'm just going to casually walk over, pick up the shade grenades and lob 'em right back at you.

At some point in the history of sports, organizations like the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Hurricanes began getting a reputation of being unruly and unable to "control" its players.

It has to stop.

Jerry Jones, Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys Owner/GM Jerry Jones, Running Back Ezekiel Elliott #21 (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Dallas Cowboys, other NFL teams, and universities in the NCAA can no more predict or prevent immature players from making immature decisions than a parent can after a child leaves the house.

Several people over on Twitter have been listing the offenses of players like David Irving, Nolan Carroll, Damien Wilson, and Ezekiel Elliott have been in the news for. Then sarcastically tweeting things like "Trust the Process" and "RKG (right kinda guy)."

Your sarcasm has been noted for the record and is summarily dismissed. The actions of individuals cannot be an indictment on a coaching staff or a front office.

Can Jason Garrett follow Ezekiel Elliott around and make sure he doesn't drive over the speed limit or get into "altercations?" No. 

Can Rod Marinelli make sure that Nolan Carroll takes an Uber after a night of drinking? Nope. 

Is Will McClay responsible for knowing what David Irving is putting into his body? C'mon man. Absolutely not. 

Was Wade Phillips responsible for Jason Witten and Tony Romo going to Cabo during the playoffs? Negative.

Cowboys Blog - The Dallas Cowboys Trust Will McClay

Dallas Cowboys Draft War Room (Photo: Smiley N. Pool/Staff Photographer)

Too many times people look at the actions of the players of the most popular sports franchise in North America and then try to attribute their actions to the organization as an indictment of its character. That is such a lazy and false narrative.

The Dallas Cowboys aren't any different from any other NFL franchise. They have players on their teams who make poor decisions that they as an organization have no control over. 

You can't hire baby sitters for every player on your team to keep them "under control." Players are people too. They make mistakes. Just like I did in my twenties and just like you did too.

Jason Garrett is one of the better head coaches in the league at getting the best out of his players and keeping them motivated. How responsible should we hold head coaches for the decisions made by a small percentage of players on their football team?

You don't hear people talking about Bill Belichick being a bad guy or a bad coach because of Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez. You also don't see people throwing shade grenades at Marvin Lewis for all the troublemakers the Cincinnati Bengals have taken on during his tenure.

The only time that an organization or institution should be held responsible is if they're covering up gross misconduct. Like what happened at Baylor.

To assign blame to a head coach because of the actions of his players off the field is like blaming a Pastor for the actions of his congregants outside of the church. Can he control what they do the rest of the week? Uh-uh.

Jason Garrett can talk to his team about making the right decisions and approaching the game and life the right way, but it is up to the individuals on the football team to heed that instruction.

We've all received instruction from wise people in our lives. Whether it was our parents, religious teachers, coaches, teachers, or other adults; and we didn't always heed that instruction.

If I made a decision that didn't fall in line with the way my parents were trying to raise me, it wasn't my parents fault.

As a parent myself, my goal is to raise my daughter to make sound and wise choices. She won't always make the right decision, however. Just because she will make a bad choice one day, isn't an indictment on my parenting. There will come a time in her life where the responsibility for her decision-making will firmly fall on her shoulders. My wife and I will be there for her if she's in a jam, but the responsibility will be hers.

That's a part of life.

We make mistakes, learn from them, grow from them. For some people, especially guys, it can take much longer to grow up.

Personal responsibility, though it's being diminished more and more every day, matters for something. No one is responsible for the actions of the players off the field aside from the players making those decisions.

Jason Garrett and the rest of the organization can't be with players 24/7. They do their jobs when they are with the players and hope that their instruction takes hold in the mind of the player.

There comes a time in every man's life where he has to take personal responsibility for his actions and his maturity.

The Dallas Cowboys as an organization can't decide when that is for any player.



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

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6 Comments
  • Bruce Budner

    You are right that each player ultimately must take responsibility for his actions. But I am not a big believer in coincidences. And so when a long list of Cowboy players run afoul of NFL rules and/or the law, longer in recent years than any other team, one must consider whether something about the organization is at fault. I am no insider and so can’t pin the precise blame. But whether it’s Garrett not impressing on the players the importance of good conduct or the Joneses neutering Garrett in this respect or something else, one can’t simply write this problem off by saying the Cowboys have just been unlucky. Something else is going on. If the organization doesn’t look itself in the mirror, I fear the problem will continue.

    • John Williams

      At the moment the Dallas Cowboys have two players suspended. The Baltimore Ravens lead the league in the amount of money players have been fined and the New York Jets lead the league in the amount of players suspended.

      It isn’t a Dallas Cowboys’ issue, it’s a NFL issue.

    • John Williams

      You’d be surprised to learn that Dallas ranks 25th in suspensions and 19th in fines since 2002.

  • Mauricio Rodriguez

    So glad you talked about this subject, John.
    People are quick to point fingers at coaches when they really shouldn’t. As you said, Baylor was a case in which it is fair to do so. Not this though. Great job writing this.

    • John Williams

      Thanks man. I just think it’s so easy to look at the most popular and most talked about team, see they have a guy in the news for trouble, and believe that it’s the organizations fault.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DallasCowboyBooksBlog fgoodwin

    John, you are right that colleges and teams cannot be responsible for the actions of their players.

    What they CAN do however, is not tolerate or enable such behavior. By keeping such players after multiple repeated instances of breaking the rules (or laws), such organizations are enabling the bad behavior. Yes, persons s/b responsible for their own actions.

    But when do organizations go from merely being the team the player is a member of, to actively enabling such behavior by constantly looking the other way, or worse yet (as in the case of Jerry), making excuses for their bad behavior?

Star Blog

A Look Around The NFC East: Week 2

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

The usually competitive NFC East got off to a shaky start last week, with half the division winning their season opener and the other half falling short.

Now entering week 2, the Eagles and Redskins have a chance to begin to distance themselves from the loser of the Cowboys/Giants game, and both of those 0-1 teams are looking to "save" their season. Yes, that sounds dramatic, but a home loss within the division to fall to 0-2 could be debilitating for the Dallas Cowboys moving forward.

Regardless, let's go around the division and see what each team has on tap for this Sunday.

Philadelphia Eagles

The defending champs opened up their 2018 campaign just as we expected: with a home victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta sort of gave that game away last Thursday night, but if the Eagles can stack Nick Foles-led wins on top of each other they'll put themselves in a great spot to win the East when Carson Wentz returns.

The Eagles will be on the road this week for the first time, traveling to Tampa Bay to play the 1-0 Buccaneers. The Bucs pulled the upset of the weekend last week, defeating New Orleans 48-40. It's hard to imagine that "Fitzmagic" continuing against the vaunted Eagles defense, though.

Philly is a three point road favorite against Tampa Bay this Sunday.

Washington Redskins

My "sleeper" team in the NFC East, and pick to finish second in the division, looked rather impressive in their week one drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals. Of course, Arizona isn't a very good team, and will probably be picking top 5 in the draft next April. Still, it was a good showing for the Redskins to open the season.

Washington got Adrian Peterson going on the ground for nearly 100 yards and a touchdown, and Chris Thompson helped keep them on schedule offensively as well. Washington hasn't been talked about much this offseason, but is sitting at 1-0 with a game against the 0-1 Colts on the horizon.

Washington is a 6 point favorite against Indianapolis this Sunday, and has a good chance of starting 2-0 on the year.

New York Giants

Though we are just one week into the 2018 regular season, an important matchup is brewing within the NFC East. After falling to 0-1 with a home loss in their season opener, the Giants will travel to Texas to face the Cowboys on Sunday night football this week.

With both teams sitting at 0-1, neither can afford to put themselves into a nearly-insurmountable hole with a second straight loss. Since the merger 90% of teams who fall to 0-2 fail to make the playoffs, and it would be back-to-back seasons of missing out for both the Cowboys and Giants.

New York is a three point road underdog on Sunday, and it seems like most of the football world is leaning towards them and their weapons coming away with the victory.

Either way, this game will have massive implications on the 2018 season.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Sigue Para la Ofensiva de los Cowboys?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Sigue Para la Ofensiva de los Cowboys?

En lo que fue una de las actuaciones más decepcionantes de la semana 1, los Dallas Cowboys no fueron capaces de avanzar en la ofensiva más que en una serie en la que anotaron un touchdown y una conversión de dos puntos. Fue un juego en el que nada funcionó más que la defensiva, la cual limitó a Cam Newton y compañía a sólo 16 puntos en un partido que pareció parejo, pero realmente no lo fue.

Ahora, antes de que los Cowboys jueguen su primer partido divisional del año contra los New York Giants, los aficionados del America's Team se preguntan ¿qué sigue para la ofensiva de los Dallas Cowboys? La ofensiva que tanto prometía hace un par de años, cuando Ezekiel Elliott y Dak Prescott lideraron a su equipo al primer sembrado de la NFC como novatos.

No se puede culpar a una sola persona por lo que sucedió el domingo pasado. La actuación fue tan deficiente que se tiene que señalar todo lo que falló. En primera instancia, hablemos del pésimo plan ofensivo de parte del coordinador de esta ofensiva, Scott Linehan.

Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan

Dallas Cowboys coaches Scott Linehan and Jason Garrett

Si algo hemos escuchado decir una y otra vez acerca de la ofensiva de Dak Prescott y los Cowboys es que es una sencilla, pero una difícil de vencer. Naturalmente, eso ha cambiado los últimos dos años. Esta ofensiva ya no debería de ser la misma que tomó a la liga por sorpresa en el 2016, no obstante, lo es.

En varias ocasiones, los Panthers no tuvieron ningún problema "telegrafiando" las jugadas de los Cowboys en cuanto sacaban el balón, resaltando la poca creatividad en la ofensiva de Linehan. Peor aún, en los momentos en los que se podría decir que fue creativo, lo fue en un mal sentido. Después de firmar y obtener a tantos receptores talentosos (que a pesar de no tener un claro #1, hay mucha profundidad), Dallas se alineó con dos tight ends en formaciones con cinco jugadores abiertos. ¿Por qué?

Esto le dio muy pocas oportunidades a Dak Prescott, quien hizo el problema más grande. Cuando tuvo esas pocas ventanas para lanzar profundo, la puntería del QB les costó bastantes series a los Cowboys. La más notable de estas, un pase profundo en la que el TE Blake Jarwin se había desmarcado y pudo haber llegado muy lejos, incluso quizá a la zona de anotación. En cambio, Prescott apenas llegó el balón a sus pies.

Sin embargo, la puntería profunda de Prescott es la menor de mis preocupaciones. Siempre hemos sabido que no es un Aaron Rodgers ni un Tom Brady. Lo que más me sorprende es la falta de calma de Dak. Siempre se le respetó por eso como novato, pero ahora se ve incomodó en el bolsillo, algo que tiene que cambiar inmediatamente puesto que era una de sus fortalezas.

Finalmente, la línea ofensiva, que se supone es una de las unidades más fuertes del equipo, se vio mal. La'el Collins y Tyron Smiths fueron responsables de múltiples castigos de holding, que terminaron matando series ofensivas. Connor Williams tuvo un debut bastante complicado contra el DT Kawann Short. Joe Looney, a pesar de ser un backup, se vio bien.

La pregunta de muchos es, ¿habrá cambios?

 1

La respuesta a corto plazo es un rotundo no. Nada cambiará en el equipo de coaches ni en la posición de quarterback durante este inicio de la campaña 2018. Sin embargo, si el equipo continua perdiendo y se llega a topar con un récord muy perdedor en la semana 8 o 9, preparémonos.

Comenzaré diciendo que el primer cambio que considero más probable es en la posición de coordinador ofensivo. Si bien Dak puede resultar no ser el mariscal franquicia que tantos queríamos, ¿no vale la pena verlo jugar bajo el mando de otro coordinador? Un coordinador que lo ponga en una mejor posición para tener éxito y que se encargue de reducir el aparente miedo que hay a la hora de lanzar a lo largo. Eso sería ideal para el desarrollo de Dak, si es que llega a haber cambios.

Lo mismo para Jason Garrett, quien para mantenerse vivo debe voltear el rumbo de su equipo ya que lo que vimos en la primera semana fue desastroso. Garrett podría estar en peligro si las cosas no cambian pronto, sobre todo considerando la presencia de alguien como el coach de la secundaria defensiva, Kris Richard.

Finalmente, hablemos de lo que le espera a Dak Prescott.

Si Dak no corrige su manera de jugar y continua actuando como lo hizo la primera semana, habrá problemas en su futuro. Considerando que una extensión de contrato se avecina, Dak tiene que demostrar que puede tomar ese siguiente paso. Esperemos que lo logre, porque al final de cuentas, esperamos que todos en el equipo mejoren, pero ¿qué pasa si no es así?

Un juego no es suficiente para quitarle el trabajo, pero una mala temporada podría serlo. Ya sea por agencia libre o por medio del NFL Draft, los Cowboys podrían estar buscando alternativas si Prescott continua con este nivel todo el año.

Personalmente, tengo fe en Prescott. Creo que a pesar de que no será un MVP que cargará al equipo a la gloria, puede hacerlo con un buen apoyo. Y francamente, creo que Dallas tiene justo eso. Simplemente hay que ejecutar. Puede ser la parte más difícil de todas, pero hay mucho talento en el roster como para ser limitados a ocho puntos.

Las primeras impresiones son duraderas, pero no siempre son ciertas. Esperemos que el equipo encuentre una manera de darle la vuelta al barco cuando se enfrenten a los Giants este domingo en el NBC Sunday Night Football que se transmitirá en ESPN 2 en México.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Sigue Para la Ofensiva de los Cowboys?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

Film Review: Analyzing The Sacks Given Up Vs. Carolina

Kevin Brady

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Film Review: Analyzing The Sacks Given Up Vs. Carolina

There's no question the Dallas Cowboys passing game failed as a whole on Sunday in their season opener. But, as usual, everyone is looking to assign the blame to someone in particular.

Was it the offensive line? The receivers? The coaching? The quarterback? In reality, it was a little bit of everyone. The stars on the team did not perform to their ability, and the role players looked bad at times.

The Cowboys vaunted offensive line surrendered six sacks, and Dak Prescott appeared to be under duress all afternoon. Of course, this doesn't all fall on the offensive line, though. Prescott could not find open receivers down field often, even when they were there to be found.

So, once the All-22 came out on NFL Gamepass, I decided to take a look and see who's "fault" each of the six sacks was. Of the six (one of which looked more like failed quarterback draw) I placed three "on" the offensive line/pass protection and two "on" Dak Prescott.

Let's examine a few of these sacks in greater detail.

dalvscar2018 sack 1

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The first time the Panthers got to Prescott looked way too easy. Backed up in their own territory the Cowboys came out in the I-formation with a tight end inline on the right side. Prior to the snap Carolina shifts their weakside linebacker over the left tackle, creating a two-over-one situation on the backside.

This should have been a red-alert for a blitz, and should've been communicated across the line of scrimmage. Instead, with veteran center Travis Frederick out, there seemed to be communication issues.

Tyron Smith steps down to take care of his inside gap, allowing the blitzing weakside backer to run free. On paper, this should be Ezekiel Elliott's man, but that is a damn-near impossible block for him to make coming across the formation.

Still, it is his responsibility, and he fails to pick up that block. This sack falls "on" the pass protection, but it really has to do more with poor pre-snap communication.

dalvscar2018 sack 2

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Later on in the game we see one of the sacks which really falls on Dak Prescott. The Cowboys come out in trips to the near side, and Ezekiel Elliott and a tight end stacked to the right. Carolina once again shows two-over-one, this time over the right tackle.

This screams blitz, and Elliott is able to step up and take the blitzer head on this time. The interior is where this pass protection breaks down, as left guard Connor Williams gets flat-out beat by the 3 technique.

Despite being beat relatively quickly, there's no excuse for Prescott to take a sack here. He has his tight end flashing open quickly in the middle of the field, and has the option to tuck it and run with green grass in front of him if he doesn't want to try to fit it between zones as well.

Prescott has to process the coverage and blitz quicker here to avoid the negative play. He also has to run more often, but that's another point for another post.

dalvscar2018 sack 4th qr

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This third sack falls mostly on the offensive line, and once again can be attributed to poor communication on the interior. Carolina brings a bit of a modified cross-dog blitz, with the 2i technique defensive tackle occupying both Williams and Looney, allowing for the blitzing linebacker to run free through the b-gap.

Joe Looney and Connor Williams have to communicate this better. Williams completely turns his hips and shoulders rather than staying square, and is unable to slide off the 2i to the linebacker. Looney should take the down lineman over, allowing Williams to slide off.

This has more to do with lack of familiarity than anything else, and is actually somewhat encouraging. This should get better as the season goes on.

dalvscar2018 sack 4th qr 2

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dalvscar2018 sack 4th qr 2 wide view

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These final two clips are the same play, just from different angles. I wanted to highlight how sometimes, you just get beat, and I don't think you can really blame any one person alone.

From the end-zone angle you can clearly see Connor Williams get beat by the 3 technique once again, and on first view it appears the sack is his fault. But when you really look at the whole play progression, you see that both the play design and Dak Prescott are also to blame.

Carolina is in two-deep coverage attempting to avoid the big play. Dallas is already down multiple possessions and with time running out, they know they can just sit back and play this type of off-coverage.

Dallas is looking to push the ball vertically down the seams, but both deep safeties are able to sit on the hash and just wait for the receivers to reach them on their route. You could argue that Prescott should have hit the hitch route on the far side, but it doesn't appear to be on his radar.

Overall, Carolina just won on this play. Sometimes that happens, those guys get paid to play too.

If there's a conclusion to be drawn, it's that just about everyone was bad at Sunday. If Dak Prescott, the offensive line, Ezekiel Elliott, the receivers, and the coaches are all this bad going forward, it's going to be a long season.

But, as you can see, simply getting some familiarity with one another and communicating better should help this offense develop throughout the season.



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