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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

QB Dak Prescott Continues To Come Through In Clutch Situations

Kevin Brady

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Dak Prescott Continues To Be Money In Clutch Si

Dak Prescott is possibly the most criticized quarterback in all of football.

Of course, this comes with the territory of being the Cowboys starting quarterback, but each throw Prescott attempts is placed under an intense microscope, even by NFL standards. We analyze every snap of every game, looking to find where Dak was right or wrong with this reads.

There's no question, though, that Prescott has been inconsistent throughout his young career. Week to week, drive to drive, and even play to play, we seemingly have no gauge on just how Dak Prescott will perform.

One scenario where we can say with confidence he will come through, however, is when it matters most. Last Sunday, in yet another must-win game for the Dallas Cowboys, Prescott orchestrated a game winning drive to lead his team over the favored Atlanta Falcons.

The Cowboys offense was pedestrian for much of the afternoon, but when Prescott got the ball in a tied game, I felt confident he would give Brett Maher a chance to win the game. Even on the road, and even after the offense had struggled a bit through the air all day.

Prescott got the ball late in the fourth quarter, looking to answer former NFL MVP Matt Ryan's game tying touchdown strike to Julio Jones. Dak went for it all on the first play, looking for Michael Gallup deep down the sideline, but the ball fell incomplete. After that throw, Prescott went 4/5 for 45 yards, including a huge completion to Cole Beasley, putting Dallas in game winning field goal range.

This confidence in Dak Prescott is justified, as is shown by his numbers in late game situations. Prescott now has 12 game winning drives, tying him for the league lead over the last three seasons. For comparison sake, Eagles starter Carson Wentz has just 3 game winning drives over that same stretch.

Overall the box score shows a rather quiet day for Prescott, but it was exactly the kind of Sunday they need from him. He completed over 60% of his passes, ran for a touchdown, and avoided the key turnover which could have sung this close game.

He played efficient football, and gave the Cowboys a chance to win it late. Then, he did what he does best, making plays in clutch situations and coming through in the 2 minute drill.

For all of Dak Prescott's flaws, those end-of-half and end-of-game situations have been a clear strength for the young quarterback, and continued to be this week.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" 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

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.



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