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Cowboys Free Agency: The Thin Line Between Frustration and Comprehension

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Free Agency: The Thin Line Between Frustration and Comprehension

For die-hard NFL fans, the free agency period is as fun as any other week in the regular season. It's always a fun experience knowing what team is interested in which player and who's visiting who. Heck, there are websites with "free agents trackers" for people who don't want to miss a single thing.

Seeing the huge contracts some players get and discussing whether it's well-deserved money or an overpaid salary provides football fans all around the league with fun football conversations in the middle of March.

This is a period in which, despite not being on the field, every NFL team is doing the same thing. Trying to get better. Which is exactly why most Dallas Cowboys fans are frustrated with how things have gone for their favorite team in this 2018 NFL offseason.

Right now, less than a week after the free agency period officially began, they're the only team left in the NFL that hasn't signed a single free agent.

Surprising? Not at all.

Whether we like it or not, we know how this team likes to operate. A quiet free agency isn't out of the ordinary for the Cowboys. For many years, the NFL Draft has been the priority for them, and they've done a good job at it.

At the end of the day, waiting for the first wave of free agents to pass is smart unless you're looking for a QB or have a huge amount of cap space. When you look at what players are getting, you realize most of them are overpaid. Sammy Watkins got a $48M three-year deal, when he hasn't really proved to be worth it.

I don't think Cowboys Nation would've liked to see the Jones family bring Watkins for that kind of money. Personally, I don't mind the Cowboys' front office letting those first expensive signings occur without them participating in them.

I mean, they've already made a splash, when you think about it. DeMarcus Lawrence was the biggest non-QB free agent of the year and they managed to keep him for at least next season. It's not exactly a free agent signing, but they are paying one of the NFL's best pass rushers more than $17M to wear the Star one more year.

Cowboys Free Agency: The Thin Line Between Frustration and Comprehension 1

Former Arizona Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu

Yes, the Cowboys' team-building philosophy is comprehensible. But when do fans like you and me stop understanding their offseason approach and get bothered by it? To me, that frustration came in the form of Tyrann Mathieu signing with the other NFL team in Texas.

If the Honey Badger had signed a super expensive contract, I'd be fine with the Cowboys passing on him. But Houston was able to get him for just seven million dollars on a one-year prove-it deal.

Mathieu is one of the best defensive talents in the league and will be just 26 years old when next season begins. Why didn't the Cowboys tried to land him, if safety is a position of need? I mean, we've been talking about a potential trade for Earl Thomas all year!

Were they hesitant just because the Honey Badger isn't your traditional safety? Are they so conservative that their reason to not go after him was he wasn't a scheme fit? When you're talking about a talent like his, I think you make things work to see him thrive along young and promising cornerbacks like Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie.

The Cowboys can still look at Tier-2 free agents such as TE Eric Ebron or S Kenny Vaccaro over the following days. It could end up working for them, or it could end up just like Nolan Carroll's horrendous game versus the Broncos in week 2 of the 2017 NFL season and his $2M in dead money for this year.

When it comes to the Cowboys' approach to free agency, there's a very thin line between comprehension and frustration. Maybe, just maybe, they make us understand next season when we see results on the field.

For now though, it's tough to stay in the "comprehending" side of things.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Free Agency: The Thin Line Between Frustration and Comprehension" 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!



I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @PepoR99.

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Kevin Black

    March 18, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    For the scheme that Dallas plays, Tyrann Mathieu is not a fit. With some coordinators, they take the talent they have and mold it to them. Others have a scheme they believe in and want players designed for that scheme. Both work, but you have to understand which type you have.

    As much as I love Marinelli, he’s a scheme first guy. He wants players that are designed for his scheme. If you get someone that doesn’t fit, he will fail miserably. I think even players understand that and I don’t think Tyrann even gave Dallas a thought as to signing here. He knew he wasn’t a fit and knew that he couldn’t showcase his skills here and get a multi-year deal next year if he signed in Dallas.

    So this might be a case of where Dallas didn’t want Tyrann and Tyrann didn’t want to come to Dallas.

    • Reynaldo Laporte

      March 19, 2018 at 9:02 pm

      I hear what your saying and as much as I love Marinelli, I feel some of his philosophies are outdated.

      With that being said neither you nor Mr. Rodriguez mentioned how Matthieu is injury prone. I don’t care how talented a player is if you can’t suit up for a full season then what good are you.

      • Kevin Black

        March 19, 2018 at 9:15 pm

        I don’t disagree. But with this staff, they weren’t going to sign Matthieu.

        I was unaware of his injury history. It makes sense why he’s only signing a one year so he can try and break the bank next year.

        • Reynaldo Laporte

          March 19, 2018 at 9:20 pm

          That’s why I’m glad we got Richard cuz he can bring a different perspective and take over once Rod retires.

          The only knock I have with Matthieu is his health other than that he is an extremely dynamic player. Going forward I ask that our FO stay away from character and injury concerns.

          • Kevin Black

            March 19, 2018 at 9:27 pm

            I’ll be curious how they play what we have. We only have one in the box safety with Frazier, but his coverage skills aren’t getting better. They tried to play Jones as an in the box safety and he can cover the TEs just fine, but he can’t stop anyone near the line. He just doesn’t have the frame for it.

            I’d love to see them get James from Florida State in the draft, but he won’t drop out of the top 10 and we don’t have the draft capital to pull that off. Seems to have a lot of FS in this draft, just not a lot of good SS. Some so-so ones, but not a lot of good ones.

          • Reynaldo Laporte

            March 20, 2018 at 6:07 am

            That’s why I was upset that we didn’t sign Davis, that would have allowed us to draft without impunity.

            We could have gotten an off ball LB, another WO, DB, and shored up other positions of need but no we go bargain bin hunting again.

            I’m just a fan, but unless we this draft is light years ahead of the one we had two seasons ago I won’t be impressed.

          • Kevin Black

            March 20, 2018 at 8:44 am

            Davis? Do you mean Matthieu? You’d pay 7 million for 8 games?

          • Reynaldo Laporte

            March 20, 2018 at 8:53 am

            DEmario Davis the ILB. I was never for signing Honey Badger

          • Kevin Black

            March 20, 2018 at 9:01 am

            I’d rather have Jack Cichy or Josey Jewell. Plus it looks like Davis preferred NO due to it being close to home. The Jets also played a 3-4, so there is some question about Davis’ ability to go sideline to sideline, something that’s required for the middle in Dallas.

          • Reynaldo Laporte

            March 20, 2018 at 9:04 am

            Did you watch the Jet’s last season???? That was a stupid question nobody did.

            I saw him play and he would have been an upgrade over Hitchens. I love Jewell too, better than Vander Esch. We need two LB’s tho cuz Sean ain’t playing a full season.

          • Kevin Black

            March 20, 2018 at 5:55 pm

            Then I’m glad you aren’t the Director of Player Personnel and McClay is.

          • Reynaldo Laporte

            March 20, 2018 at 6:15 pm

            I love Will, but while you’re at it ask him how those bargain bin players in FA have panned out.

            Watch the tape Davis was damn good for NY and the responsibilities for an ILB are the same if he was in a 3-4, or a 4-3.

            Like I was saying earlier if we would have signed him then an off ball LB, and DB would be our only priorities.

          • Kevin Black

            March 20, 2018 at 6:27 pm

            ILB is responsibilities are not the same in the 3-4 versus the 4-3. The MLB in the 4-3 has to cover much more ground, pretty much sideline to sideline in our scheme, whereas the 3-4 has definite responsibilities in regards to side. In the 4-3, the strong side LB is responsible for the edge and trying to keep the play inside the tackles, but the MLB is designed to cover anything he can’t contain as well as cover all the gaps from tackle to tackle. Most 3-4 ILBs aren’t required to go from sideline to sideline, but to cover from the middle to one sideline. This was something teams did to allow them to have players that didn’t have the extreme skillset that a MLB needed in a 4-3.

            In addition to that, the 3 cone is probably one of the better combine tests for LBs. Davis had a respectable 7.19. Anything under 7.2 is considered good. However, Josey Jewell had a 6.80, a much better score and shows how quickly he can move laterally. Both had a similar shuttle score (4.28 versus 4.27). Davis had a much better 40 time, but that’s not the best indicator of a LB (or any other position outside of wideout or corner). On top of that, Jewell is younger, cheaper and controllable at the lower price for at least four (4) years. With all the FAs coming out next year on this team, that will be key.

          • Reynaldo Laporte

            March 20, 2018 at 8:54 pm

            Like I said what he was asked to do in NY and what he would have been asked to do for us would have been the same .

            You want a rookie to be a starter at MIke???? I’m all for putting a players feet to the fire, but that is a lot to ask for a rookie. We know for certain that Sean Lee will miss games, we don’t know if Jaylon is the LB we want him to be and our depth behind them isn’t exactly promising.

            I’m not just spitballing here our LB corps is suspect and he would have at least solidified one spot allowing us to draft an off ball LB while upgrading the middle.

            Look at how our D fared when Hitchens or Lee was out of the lineup. It’s not like we have a stout front four eating up blocks. And you want a rookie to start???? Good luck with that.

            Oh yeah, I forgot to mention he signed a deal that was well within reason considering the player the Saints will get.

            Then again you’re glad that I’m not directir of player personnel and Will McClay is.

          • Kevin Black

            March 20, 2018 at 9:32 pm

            It’s not the same. in the 3-4, the ILB is only responsible for half the field. In the 4-3, the MLB is responsible from sideline to sideline. How is that the same?

            Irregardless, you only need the mike for about 30% of the plays. Most of the time the defense is in the nickel and you would only have Lee and Smith on the field.

          • Kevin Black

            March 20, 2018 at 9:34 pm

            P.S. it appears Will McClay agrees with my assessment. 😉

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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches
Smiley N. Pool / The Dallas Morning News

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.

Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli Should Be On The Hot Seat

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.

Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New "Wrinkles" in Cowboys Offense

Dallas Cowboys OC Scott Linehan (Tim Heitman / USA TODAY Sports)

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.

Jerry Jones Delivers Vote of Confidence in "Real Deal" Jason Garrett

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.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches" 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

2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch

Kevin Brady

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Leighton Vander Esch Lands on List of NFL's Top 10 Rookies

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.5 Studs and Duds From the Dallas Cowboys 2018 Season

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.



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Star Blog

What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?

Kevin Brady

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

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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