Soy una persona optimista. En muchos aspectos de mi vida tiendo a ver las cosas de una manera positiva. Y claro, cuando se trata de los Dallas Cowboys, no dejo de serlo. Si el rival que se van a enfrentar es uno más fuerte que mi equipo, no pierdo la esperanza de verlos triunfar aún así. Si toman el campo con jugadores claves lesionados, mi optimismo se mantiene fuerte.
Y en Junio, vaya que es un tiempo en el que ser optimista o pesimista afecta mucho la forma de ver las cosas. No hay partidos, no hay resultados, lo cuál básicamente quiere decir que todo lo que obtenemos de nuestros amados Dallas Cowboys son rumores, opiniones e historias de lo que sucedió en los entrenamientos.
Así que en esta edición de Cowboys en Español, me dispongo a analizar de una manera objetiva una de las posiciones más inciertas en el equipo de los Cowboys. Esa de los linebackers o los apoyadores.
Digo la más incierta, porque en realidad no sabemos muy bien que esperar. En mayor parte porque no estamos seguros del rol y del impacto que Jaylon Smith tendrá. Pero me estoy adelantando.
Los Cowboys juegan un esquema defensivo "4-3" lo que significa que juegan con cuatro DLs y tres LBs. Si quieren conocer el esquema a fondo, The Landry Trophy está publicando una serie increíble de "Esquemas y Conceptos."
Calidad Garantizada: Sean Lee
Sean Lee es el mejor linebacker del equipo y uno de primer nivel en la NFL. Su manera de detener el juego terrestre y recorrer el campo entero de banda a banda es extraordinario. De este lado no existe problema alguno para los Cowboys. Siempre y cuando Lee se mantenga sano (que es algo que le ha costado trabajo en su carrera) tendrá un 2017 lleno de actuaciones buenas.
La pregunta es, ¿a lado de quién jugará Sean Lee?
El Signo de Interrogación: Jaylon Smith
La defensiva de este año y su actuación dependerán mucho de Jaylon Smith. La falta de certeza respecto a la salud de este jugador de segundo año que prácticamente es un novato no nos ha abandonado.
Y aquí es donde el optimismo del que hablaba al inicio de la columna entra en juego. ¿Creemos realmente que Jaylon Smith será lo que esperamos? Hay dos dudas al respecto. La mayor duda, lógicamente, es su salud. Se dice que Smith cada vez se ve mejor y que el progreso que ha tenido ha sido increíble.
Verlo con casco y verlo entrenar a velocidad y con intensidad ha servido mucho, sin duda. Y con noticias diciendo que su estado ha mejorado y que incluso ya puede levantar los dedos de su pie, es difícil no tener buenas expectativas.
La segunda es: ¿Qué tanto éxito tendrá en lo que prácticamente será su temporada de "novato"? Me siento bien respecto a esta segunda duda. No perdamos de vista que, de no haber sido por su lesión, Jaylon Smith hubiera sido uno de los primeros jugadores seleccionados en el 2016.
Después de una impresionante temporada de parte de Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott e incluso Maliek Collins y Anthony Brown puede que el mejor talento seleccionado por Dallas en el 2016 no haya tomado el campo aún.
Si les falta un poco de optimismo en cuanto a Smith, aquí esta un vídeo de él entrenando a toda velocidad:
Take a look at @theJaylonSmith finally working full speed & hear what players had to say about his progress. https://t.co/XcPuBCalkl
El Tercer Puesto: ¿Quién Será?
En la NFL cada vez se usa más la formación "Nickel" que se refiere a un cornerback extra en el campo. Así que el tercer puesto quizá y pierda su efecto cada vez más debido a que es posible que veamos a la defensiva con sólo dos LBs frecuentemente.
Sin embargo seguiremos necesitando al tercer LB para la formación base y es justo decir que la pelea por el puesto titular estará entre Anthony Hitchens y Damien Wilson.
Ambos tienen 24 años de edad, ambos fueron selecciones de cuarta ronda y ambos estarán peleando por un rol importante en el equipo. Hitchens tiene un poco más de experiencia que Wilson en el campo y eso sin duda lo ayudará.
Sin embargo, creo que los Cowboys deberían entrar al 2017 con Damien Wilson como el preferido. Este es el último año en el contrato de Hitchens mientras que el de Wilson dura hasta el 2018. Además se puede argumentar que el último resulta un poco más atlético y muestra más potencial para el futuro.
Espero que Damien Wilson sea el tercer LB titular aunque estoy convencido que entrará en una rotación constante junto con Hitchens iniciando la temporada.
El cuerpo de linebackers es bueno. Siempre y cuando se mantengan sanos pueden sorprender a toda la liga con su actuación y puede llegar a convertirse en un punto fuerte para la defensiva de Dallas.
¿Qué opinas de los linebackers del equipo para el 2017?
Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?
Since becoming the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Rod Marinelli hasn't had too many of his former players follow him to Dallas. In fact, I can only think of one… Henry Melton, and we all know how that turned out.
I don't know about you, but I found that a little strange. It's pretty common for coaches to try to bring some of their players with them when they accept a new job. Familiarity goes a long way in the NFL and former players can also help make the transition easier for everyone.
Strangely enough, Rod Marinelli hasn't really been afforded that luxury, whether it was his doing or not. But, there is a free agent who played under Marinelli's tutelage in Chicago who might make sense for the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Shea McClellin.
Rod Marinelli was the defensive coordinator in Chicago when the Bears decided to draft Shea McClellin 19th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Marinelli likely had a big say in that decision, and if he still feels the same, a reunion could be in order.
Shea McClellin started his career in the NFL as a 4-3 left side defensive end playing opposite Julius Peppers, but was also viewed as a potential Brian Urlacher replacement. He showed flashes of becoming a solid defensive end his first few years in the league, but was eventually moved to linebacker, where he seemed to find a home for himself.
After his contract expired with the Bears, the New England Patriots decided to bring him aboard to help with their linebacker depth. He only ended up starting four games for them in 2016, but made some memorable plays to help the Patriots become the Super Bowl champions.
Unfortunately, the 2017 season wasn't very kind to him. His entire year was wiped out due to a concussion, which probably had a lot to do with why they recently released him.
This of course could be good news for the Dallas Cowboys. They currently need some depth at the linebacker position and Shea McClellin could provide that, if he's healthy. The healthy bit here is key, because he has had problems with concussions in the past.
If McClellin is indeed healthy, he could bring a versatile skill set to the Cowboys defense. His best spot is probably at strong side LB (SAM), but I think he could play middle linebacker (MIKE) as well. He also could provide depth at defensive end, the position he played to start his NFL career.
With the LB depth a concern, Shea McClellin makes quite a bit of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, his past history with concussions is a red flag, but it also drives down his asking price. I think he would definitely fall into that "bargain shopping" mentality the Cowboys have been using these last few offseasons.
He probably wouldn't be viewed as a very important signing, but you still need these types of players on your team in order to succeed in the NFL. Let's see if the Dallas Cowboys agree.
Do you think a Rod Marinelli and Shea McClellin reunion is in order?
Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys
Now that he's signed with the Washington Redskins, cornerback Orlando Scandrick joins a lackluster list of former Cowboys players and coaches who have gone from Dallas to its historic rival. The history of these moves is ugly for Washington, going back over 40 years, and can't have their fans too excited anytime they sign an ex-Cowboy.
The most recent example was just last year with defensive tackle Terrell McClain. After a strong season as a 15-game starter in Dallas, McClain got a four-year, $21 million deal to join the Redskins. He missed four games with injuries and was only credited with two starts; hardly what the team wanted given the money they paid.
Before him it was Jason Hatcher, whose 11-sack season for the Cowboys in 2013 got him a four-year, $27.5 million deal from Washington. Hatcher would battle knee injuries for two season, getting only 7.5 sacks from 2014-2015. His early retirement in 2016 brought an abrupt end to a disappointing tenure.
Continuing the legacy of defensive linemen was Stephen Bowen, who Washington paid a shocking amount of money ($27.5 million over five years) to in 2011 to pick up in free agency. Bowen had a great first year for the Redskins with six sacks and 16 starts, but injuries would soon cost him 14 games from 2013-2014. He was eventually released after only one standout season in four with the team.
Going back even further, DT Brandon Noble joined Washington in 2003 after being a full-time starter for Dallas for over two seasons. He would miss all of 2003 with a knee injury, have an unimpressive year in 2004, and then missed all of 2005 with more health issues. He retired after being released by the Redskins in 2006.
Orlando Scandrick won't be the first cornerback to go from Dallas to Washington, or the best. At age 32, Deion Sanders was released in 2000 by the Cowboys and then got a huge seven-year, $56 million deal from the Redskins. This came less than a year after Daniel Snyder bought the franchise and was desperate to get them relevant again.
The Sanders move backfired horribly. Even after a solid season by his lofty standards, Primetime was disgruntled with both the coaching staff and his increasing struggles as an aging player. He suddenly retired after just one season of the seven-year contract.
Washington also tried to tap into the Cowboys' glory days when they signed receiver Alvin Harper in 1997. Harper had left Dallas in 1995 and spent two years with Tampa Bay, but had not carried over the same success he enjoyed playing in the Dallas offense.
The Redskins hoped that reuniting him with Norv Turner, who had been Harper's offensive coordinator and was now their head coach, would help Alvin get back to form. But between ongoing injuries and the absence of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith as teammates, Alvin Harper was never the same guy as when he won two Super Bowls in Dallas.
The failed poaching attempts go back many more decades, another one being running back Calvin Hill. The fourth-leading rusher in Cowboys history and a four-time Pro Bowler while in Dallas, Hill joined Washington in 1976. He served as a backup only, averaging only 3.8 yards-per-carry as he played behind the likes of Mike Thomas and John Riggins.
The bad history doesn't stop with players. The aforementioned Norv Turner, who was one of the hottest assistant coaches in history after the Cowboys first two Super Bowl wins in the 90s, was hired as the Redskins' head coach in 1994.
Turner's run started with a whimper, drafting quarterback Heath Shuler third overall in that first year. Shuler would go down as one of the biggest QB busts in NFL history
Norv's Redskins never seemed to recover from that blunder. He only had two winning seasons and one playoff appearance from 1994-1999, and was fired midway through the 2000 season.
Far more recently, Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan left the team in 2015 and took the same job in Washington. He didn't get to bring the offensive line or DeMarco Murray with him, though. As such, the Redskins have remained one of the league's worst rushing teams for the last three seasons. They fell to a new low of 28th in the NFL in 2017.
~ ~ ~
Of course, none of this means that Orlando Scandrick won't have success in Washington. But with the Redskins generally the most mismanaged team in the NFC East, all of the Dallas players and coaches who've gone there have not walked into good situations. For all that Cowboys fans love to complain about Jerry Jones, he handles the owner and GM roles better than any pair Washington's had in almost 30 years.
Given the nature of the rivalries, we naturally can't wish success for Scandrick or anyone else who leaves Dallas for a division opponent. With the track record we just discussed for Washington, it's not something I'll be losing any sleep over.
Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
It's not uncommon for Dallas Cowboys fans to zero in on certain free agents in hopes that they will bring their talents to America's Team. In fact, just about any "big name" player to hit the open market is often linked to the Cowboys in some way or another. That was the case when the Arizona Cardinals decided to move on from Tyrann Mathieu.
Once Tyrann Mathieu became available, Cowboys fans immediately wanted to see him with a star on his helmet. But, despite the fans petitioning, the Cowboys brass seemed to show almost zero interest in the former Cardinal.
The decision to not pursue Tyrann Mathieu certainly didn't sit well with a lot of Cowboys Nation, but I think it was the right decision.
Despite Mathieu's perceived talents and youth (he's just 25), the Cowboys weren't interested in paying the price to bring him to Dallas, especially since they already have a similar player on their roster.
It may sound crazy, but I think the real reason the Dallas Cowboys didn't show much interest in Tyrann Mathieu is because of Xavier Woods.
I honestly believe Xavier Woods and Tyrann Mathieu have a similar skill set. Both players are little undersized to be a full-time safety in the NFL, but each of them have the versatility to play several different roles in the secondary.
Mathieu may have been listed as a safety on the Arizona Cardinals roster, and now the Houston Texans, but the truth is he played mostly out of the nickel/slot in his professional and collegiate career. That is where he is at his best, and the same can be said about Xavier Woods.
As a rookie, Xavier Woods showed his versatility with the Dallas Cowboys by playing a variety of different roles in the secondary. His versatility was one of the reasons the Cowboys decided to trade up in last year's draft to acquire his services.
His name might not carry the same kind of weight as Tyrann Mathieu right now around the league or amongst NFL fans, but I don't think Xavier Woods is that much of a drop off talent wise.
Personally, I believe Mathieu is starting to decline a little as a player. I think injuries are starting to take a toll on his play, although it may be minimal. I actually prefer Xavier Woods' upside, especially when you take into account the difference in salaries between the two.
Surprisingly enough, Xavier Woods might just have been more productive in 2017 then Mathieu. Woods started just four games and finished the season with 42 tackles, three passes defensed, and one interception. Mathieu on the other hand started all 16 games and accumulated 78 tackles, one quarterback sack, one forced fumble, and two interceptions.
As you can see, Xavier Woods was almost just as productive as Mathieu in nearly a third of the playing time. What's even more impressive about this is that Woods accomplish this as a rookie.
Of course, all of this is speculation, but I for one am not all that upset the Dallas Cowboys missed out on Tyrann Mathieu. I'm willing to bet on Xavier Woods being able to do everything Mathieu can and at a fraction of the cost.
Were the Cowboys right not to pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
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