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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
  • Kevin Black

    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

      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

        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

          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

            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

            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

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

          • Reynaldo Laporte

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

          • Kevin Black

            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

            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

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

          • Reynaldo Laporte

            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

            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

            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

            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

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

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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