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Cowboys are “Homegrown,” but is this Effective?

Kevin Brady

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Dallas Cowboys Hold 28th Overall Pick in 2017 NFL Draft 1
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

As we move into the 2018 NFL offseason, members of the Cowboys' front office are receiving calls and interview requests from other teams around the league. Specifically, Will McClay has reportedly been contacted by the Houston Texans to interview for their General Manager job.

Some of Cowboys Nation is obviously wondering why this would be a big deal, considering how disappointing the Cowboys have been two of the last three seasons. Yesterday, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com tweeted out a list of the top-10 most "homegrown teams," with the Dallas Cowboys landing at number five.

Jason_OTC on Twitter

For those interested in homegrown players on a team the top 10 teams were 1. Packers 1. Bengals 3. Ravens 4,. Texans 5. Cowboys 6. Raiders 7. Steelers 8. Chiefs 9. Broncos 10. Patriots

Homegrown means that the player was drafted -- or signed as an undrafted free agent -- by a particular team and they remain a member of that team today.

Basically this shows that the Cowboys have placed their focus on building through the NFL Draft, rather than paying for free agents or negotiating trades with other teams.

This seems good, right?

Well I think it is "good," at least to a point.

It's important to practice smart team building, and finding talented players throughout each round of the draft (whether it's Zack Martin in the first or Xavier Woods in the sixth) is critical.

It is also important to not overpay during free agency, or give out contracts which will stop you from paying the good players you draft.

But at the same time, if you plan to sort of ignore free agency and only focus on the draft, you better hit on those picks. Particularly those picks in the first two rounds.

We all know how risky the Cowboys tend to be with those second round picks, and the selection of Taco Charlton in round one last year remains questionable.


An obvious issue with the Dallas Cowboys right now is their depth. They are a top-heavy roster with some of the best players in the league leading the way. However, as you get past the top 7-10 players, the roster does get a little shaky.

This isn't terribly different from anyone else around the league, but it is worth noting the absence of one linebacker can shake this run defense to the point they can't stop anyone. Or the absence of their left tackle, no matter how great he is, can render the entire offense ineffective for three straight weeks.

Of course, there will be a drop off from Tyron Smith and Sean Lee to their replacements, but the fact that the units fall apart without those players is troubling.

This all starts at the top.

In the front office, the Cowboys have avoided adding veteran depth to their roster. Sure, they signed guys like defensive tackle Cedric Thornton and cornerback Nolan Carroll, but neither of those guys were even on the roster for most of the 2017 season. And both were disappointing when they did get the chance to play.

Then there's the coaching staff.

The Cowboys' offense is clearly very personnel dependent. Their offense isn't anything too hard to prepare for, as Broncos head coach Vance Joseph alluded to back before week two, but it is hard to stop.

Or, at least it was.

When the Cowboys are healthy and have their stars available, they don't need to rely on strong schemes or "creative" play calling. They were simply better than most of the defenses they faced. They were able to line up and win. But when Tyron Smith is injured, Ezekiel Elliott is suspended, and Scott Linehan needs to prove himself further, the offense sputters.

So, while remaining homegrown and keeping continuity within your franchise sounds great, knowing when to look to the outside and make external moves is an important part of team building as well. Balancing these two effectively is hard to do, but is the mark of a great front office.


Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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Robert Quinn’s Return Important For Struggling Cowboys Pass Rush

Kevin Brady

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Breaking News: Robert Quinn Suffers Fractured Hand

Cowboys Nation spent much of the offseason praising the depth of their team as a whole. In particular, though, everyone felt good about what the Cowboys had across their defensive front.

By drafting well in recent years, and acquiring some lesser known players who have turned into solid contributors on the defensive line, the Cowboys have put together a really good group on paper. Despite this perceived depth, however, Dallas' defensive line has not created the pressure through their pass rush which was expected of them through the first two weeks.

After two games the Cowboys have just two sacks, bringing down each opposing quarterback once in each victory. Of course, each sack came at a big moment, as Tyrone Crawford got to Case Keenum on third down early in Sunday's win and DeMarcus Lawrence stripped Eli Manning on a red zone attempt during the season opener. Still, though, the lack of sack production is concerning. Especially considering how often the Cowboys have played with leads so far in 2019.

Star defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence has shouldered much of the criticism from fans the past two weeks, despite playing the best of any of the pass rushers on the team. Lawrence created a couple key pressures against Washington, and is also fresh off recovering from serious injury. He'll be fine.

The major reason for Lawrence's lack of eye-popping sack production, though, is the lack of help he's received from the rest of his rush-mates. For the most part, Crawford has looked like a guy who missed an entire preseason, and while Dorance Armstrong and Joe Jackson are promising young players, they can't be completely counted on just yet.


Insert Robert Quinn.

The former Pro Bowl defensive end could not be returning at a better time for the Cowboys. Not only should Quinn help to alleviate some of the pressure from Lawrence right away, but he gives the team a rusher who can beat one-on-one blocking more consistently than the rest of the ends currently on this roster.

Robert Quinn's return is also perfect due to the opponent. Quinn came to Dallas via trade from the Miami Dolphins this offseason, and he should be motivated to get after the tanking Dolphins this Sunday.

We should be fair in our expectations of Robert Quinn this week, but don't be surprised if this Cowboys pass rush wakes up quickly Sunday, as he provides a spark on the opposite end of DeMarcus Lawrence.


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Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott Should Be Rid of all Rust

Matthew Lenix

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Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott Should be rid of all Rust

The Dallas Cowboys were engaged in a very eventful and sometimes nauseating holdout with All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott this summer. After all the speculation and jabs through the media, the two sides finally agreed on a six-year 90 million dollar extension with 50 million in guarantees just prior to the season opener. With his financial future secured it was time for Elliott to get whatever fieldwork he could before playing the New York Giants. With limited practice time, Elliott had a slow start to the season with a 53-yard performance on 13 carries. However, after watching the Cowboys win against the Redskins it's clear that he's slowly but surely getting back to form.

Elliott came into Sunday's game averaging just under 89 yards per game on the road against the Redskins, including one of his best career rushing performances in 2017 with 150 yards. His 484 yards and 6 touchdowns against Washington prior to Sunday's game were both career highs for Elliott versus a single opponent.

This wouldn't be your typical Elliott game of consistent ten-yard runs and leaping over would-be defenders. Instead, it was a steady dose of Elliott as his workload from week one increased from 14 touches to 25. By halftime, he had 48 yards on 11 carries as the Cowboys held a 14-7 lead.

Ezekiel Elliott Should be rid of all Rust

The Cowboys held a 24-14 lead late in the second half until Elliott capped off a ten-play 54-yard drive that put them up 17, and the game essentially out of reach. In the second half, he had just 36 yards on 11 carries until a 27-yard run late in the fourth quarter gave him 111 yards on 23 carries for the game. Now, Elliott averages 94.3 yards a game on the road for his career against the Redskins, and an amazing 99.2 yards overall.


Going into week three Elliott has almost 40 real game carries under his belt. What this means is now he's gotten the necessary reps and taken the necessary hits needed to get him in football shape, which is something he couldn't fully simulate working out in Cabo. Even with a reduced role in the season opener Elliott is currently on a 1,300-yard 16 touchdown pace as we speak. Those are the kind of numbers that get you the NFL's highest paycheck for running backs, an honor Elliott took over recently, and rightfully so.

Elliott himself can feel things coming back to form with a couple of games out of the way. He spoke about where he was postgame after this past Sunday's win over the Redskins.

“I think slowly and surely, I’m getting back in my rhythm, knocking that rust off,” Elliott told Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. “I feel good about the game. I feel good about where I am right now. I feel good about everything going forward.”

The Cowboys are off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2015, and more importantly, they have their All-Pro running back in football shape and fully confident coming off a 100-yard performance. Next up is the Miami Dolphins at home who have a defense that has given up 102 points and 391 yards rushing in the first two weeks. Another opportunity for Elliott to get his legs under him even more and produce at a high level as the Cowboys look for their first 3-0 start since 2008.


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Dak Prescott not Only one to Roast CB Josh Norman on Sunday

Brian Martin

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Dak Prescott not Only one Roasting CB Josh Norman on Sunday

Thanks to Cornerback Josh Norman the Dallas Cowboys 31-21 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday was a little extra sweet for Quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott's goal of course entering this Week 2 matchup was to seal the win for the Cowboys, but doing that and being able to make Norman eat his words had to make the moment a little extra special for him.

You may have forgotten, but Josh Norman pretty much said he wasn't all that impressed with Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys performance in the season opener against the New York Giants. Prescott of course had a career day completing 25 and 32 passes 405 yards and four touchdowns, but to that Norman replied "anybody can do that".

Josh Norman has since said those comments about Prescott were misconstrued and taken out of context, but that could just be him crawfishing and trying to save face after the Cowboys QB roasted him on more than one occasion Sunday afternoon.

Almost fittingly, some of Prescott's best plays against the Redskins were to Josh Norman's side of the field. The first was the 51 yard bomb to WR Devin Smith that resulted in a touchdown. And then Dak was able to get a little physical with a stiff arm to No. 24's face on his long run. It could have even been a little worse for Norman if Michael Gallup could've corralled the deep pass down the sideline from his QB. Anyway you slice it though the Redskins mouthy CB got roasted.

As much as I liked Dak Prescott's roasting of Josh Norman, it fails in comparison to how he's getting slammed on social media. It's downright demoralizing, but comical at the same time.

Here are a few examples:


Not Robert Griffin on Twitter

Can you find Josh Norman?

TOAST! LOL Food humor for the win! @Pseudo_RGIII wasn't the only one roasting Josh Norman on social media though.

Dov Kleiman on Twitter

What type of coverage does Josh Norman calls this? https://t.co/P74jkY3ut5

Someone got caught looking in the backfield. That's gotta be embarrassing. That's not all though, there's more…

https://twitter.com/Jaton336/status/1173329971626094592

Had enough yet!? No… How about one more just from the beautiful Jane Slater for fun?

Jane Slater on Twitter

Dak with a stiff arm to Josh Norman and a 42 yard run. Michael Gallup helping block. Think he heard Norman say "anybody can do that" https://t.co/3JARYX5cII

Out of the numerous tweets I went through roasting Josh Norman, Jane Slater's is probably my favorite. That is exactly the kind of face I made on Prescott's long run that ended in him stiff arming Norman.

It's not a very day you get the opportunity to make someone eat their words, but I'm truly happy Dak Prescott was able to make Josh Norman eat his.  The social media roasting was just icing on the cake. All in all, Norman probably got what he deserved and made think twice about what he says when he opens his mouth in the future.


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