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Cowboys Vs. 49ers – My Crystal Ball

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In week 1, my crystal ball told me to expect an ugly showing against the Raiders and for the most part that assessment was fairly accurate.  Transversely, in week 2, my crystal ball told me to look for marked improvement among the ranks; once again, my crystal ball was spot on.  So here we are at week 3 and quite possibly the most important game of the preseason, being the dress rehearsal where the starters will likely play 3 quarters.  What does the crystal ball say?

The big story line out of the 49ers camp is Michael Crabtree, who from the look of things will sit out the 2009 season and reenter the draft to be up for grabs and likely will not see the 1st round again, dependent on the talent pool at WR.  In short, he feels he should have been drafted above Darrius Heywar-Bey, and therefore, should be paid more.  The 49ers obviously disagree.  As far as I'm concerned:  Kudos to both sides of this argument for sticking to their guns.

But even if Michael Crabtree was a part of this team, I'd still have a hard time being concerned about them.  They have good players, but it has been a long time since they have had all the right pieces at the same time.  Like the Titans, they will test our run defense.  But also like the Titans, they don't have much of a passing attack to scare the Cowboys into backing off their otherwise vaunted rush defense, which should likely end quite a few 49er offensive drives with 3 and outs.

Defensively, the 49ers lack identity and cohesion, Patrick Willis being a lone bright spot and Manny Lawson being a guy with all the physical tools and the mental capacity of a small rock.  Nevertheless, if the lights do ever come on for Manny, he could be a very dangerous linebacker.  Outside of those two, the 49ers have a blend of has-beens such as Dre Bly and Takeo Spikes, never-have-beens, Walt Harris, Allen Rossum, Mark Roman and could-be's such as Ricky Jean-Francois, Scott McKillop and Curtis Taylor.

Once again, the Cowboy's should be dominant.  But there is one caveat to that.  How do the 49ers treat the Cowboy's with out #1 WR Roy Williams, who was injured at practice last night (bad Scandrick, bad)?  Personally, I don't think Roy Williams is as crucial to the offense as he has been made out to be.  There is still quite a bit of talent to distribute the ball to, and our best receivers, even with Roy Williams on the field, are still in my mind our two top TE's Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett.   And then, of course, there is the RB core, which should still be able to keep the 49ers defense honest.   The Cowboys win 31 to the 49ers 6.




I am 35, married and a father of 2 boys. I have been a Cowboys fan since Jimmy Johnson took over; not because I had anything against Tom Landry, but because it just so happens I was old enough to start following and understanding football right as that new era began. Since then, I haven't missed games if I could help it.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. chris

    August 28, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Rock on crystal ball man . What do you think about dallas picking up crabtree?

  2. Jonathan

    August 31, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Chris – I absolutely hate the idea. Besides, I’d say Roy Williams is a better version of Crabtree, physically, skillfully, and mentally. What Crabtree is doing is ruining the game of football; hopefully the NFL committee recognizes the potential issues this may cause in the future and puts a set cap on rookie salaries. The crazy part of this whole situation, is of all times to pull a stunt like this, this is not the time. For all we know, there may not be football in 2011…he should be trying to get all the pay day’s he can while he can.

    The other side of this I don’t understand is if we are being honest, he is overrated. He is coming from a College offense that passes the ball over 85% of the time. In other words, any college receiver would put a big numbers in that offense; it’s not hard to do. If he thinks he’s even close to worth the money he’s asking for, he’s crazy.

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Dallas Cowboys

Did DC Rod Marinelli Have Increased Role in Cowboys Loss at Rams?

Sean Martin

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Did DC Rod Marinelli Have Increased Role in Cowboys Loss at Rams?

The Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss at the Los Angeles Rams is still fresh on the minds of their players, staff, and front office. So much so that the team had to fan the flames on a Jason Garrett comment expecting Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan to return. Garrett himself walked back this "report" once Stephen Jones noted it's still too early for any coaching staff changes. The focus will remain on Linehan's post until it's removed or the Cowboys OC is retained, but one coordinator the Cowboys now expect to keep is Rod Marinelli on defense.

Marinelli himself disputed the season-long belief that this was likely his last as the Cowboys defensive coordinator. With Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard not taking any of the three HC positions he interviewed for, Marinelli doesn't have to worry about shuffling his title to accommodate Richard - who called the plays from week one this season anyway.

Rod's title does include his specialty as defensive line coach though, a unit that the Rams dominated with their offensive line to a historic degree. The Rams' season-high 273 rushing yards was provided by both Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson surpassing 100 yards on the ground, the first time in team history they've had two backs reach this mark in a single playoff game.

Rams HC Sean McVay hardly had to reach into his vaunted 'bag of tricks' to expose the Cowboys defense in a way they hadn't been all year, but there was still an element of brilliance in his offensive game plan. It came out after the game that the Rams picked up on the keys the Dallas defensive linemen used to signal stunts and twists before the snap. While this is nothing more than just great scouting yielding an unforeseen advantage, it's left the Cowboys with more than enough time to ponder what went wrong in the Coliseum.

Danny Heifetz on Twitter

The Rams offensive line knew what the Cowboys defensive line was going to do before the snap on Saturday. https://t.co/oGo6Eiz4av

The answer to this may be nothing other than the coaching questions the Cowboys are already considering. With Richard's interviews in Tampa Bay, Miami, and New York coming at the beginning of the week leading up to game day, it's possible Marinelli had a larger say in the Cowboys preparation on defense.

It was Marinelli's defense that conceded 412 yards to the Rams in 2017 in a loss at AT&T Stadium. Matching him up with McVay leaves a lot to be desired, while Richard helps bridge this gap - something he was seen desperately trying to do on the sideline with a battered Cowboys defense.

As each day of the offseason passes, a change at either coordinator position becomes less likely in Dallas. On offense, the play caller has more than a season's worth of evidence showing the deficiencies of the Cowboys attack. In a league fueled by recency bias however, Marinelli certainly didn't leave his best performance on the field in Los Angeles.

Somewhere in the middle of this is Jason Garrett, safely in place as the head coach that should be personally trying to upgrade his top two assistants however possible. Marinelli signing up for another year makes this hard on defense, though Richard should resume play calling duties next season.

Again, this leaves the onus of the Cowboys improvements for 2019 on the offensive side of the ball, something that'll be realized when the shock of their defense letting them down in the biggest game of the season is gone.

Tell us what you think about "Did DC Rod Marinelli Have Increased Role in Cowboys Loss at Rams?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Getting Over $30 Million Cap Space from Expiring Dead Money

Jess Haynie

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Tony Romo, Dez Bryant

You may have already heard that the Dallas Cowboys will be flush with salary cap space in 2019, and that's very accurate. A huge portion of it comes from over $30 million in expiring cap penalties, otherwise known as "dead money."

Quick explanation; dead money occurs when a player is released or retires prior to the expiration of their contract. Any guaranteed money, such as the original signing bonus or money converted in a restructuring, that has not yet been paid out according to the contract schedule is accelerated.

For example, when Tony Romo retired after 2016, he still had $19.6 million in guaranteed money owed to him. Dallas chose to split this dead money over two years, and thus had a $10.7 cap penalty in 2017 and $8.9 million last season.

But now Romo's dead money, along with Dez Bryant's and several other players, is coming off the Cowboys' books. The result is a roughly $30 million infusion of salary cap space for 2019.

Here were the major culprits for last year's dead money:

(All cap figures are taken from Spotrac.com)

  • QB Tony Romo - $8.9 million
  • WR Dez Bryant - $8 million
  • DT Cedric Thornton - $2.5 million
  • CB Orlando Scandrick - $2.3 million
  • CB Nolan Carroll - $2 million
  • WR Deonte Thompson - $1.8 million
  • DE Benson Mayowa - $1.1 million
  • K Dan Bailey - $800 thousand
  • TE James Hanna - $750 thousand

Those players alone make up a little over $28 million. Another $4 million or so came from over 30 players with lesser penalties that still added up.

Right now, the Cowboys have only $1.76 million in dead money on their 2019 salary cap. Nearly all of that is the $1.6 million still owed to Orlando Scandrick.

That difference is where the cap space comes from, and it will be of tremendous help to Dallas as they have major financial moves coming. They need to re-sign DeMarcus Lawrence, deal with a major salary bump for Amari Cooper, and consider a contract extension for Dak Prescott.

The 2019 number will change, of course, as the offseason rolls on. If Dallas elects to release players like Sean Lee, Tyrone Crawford, or others, some dead money will appear. But that will be offset by whatever cap savings motivated the move in the first place.

This is a good reminder of why the Cowboys' new era of fiscal conservatism is a good thing. After years of what felt like perpetual "salary cap hell," they are finally getting out from under those penalties and have complete flexibility this offseason. They may not even need to cut a guy like Crawford, who they almost would have been forced to in past seasons.

We'll be talking a lot more about individual players and their contracts in the weeks ahead, but this summary helps us see that Dallas isn't nearly up against the financial wall as they have been. We still miss guys like Romo and Dez, but we won't miss that awful dead money in 2019.



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Cowboys Expect C Travis Frederick Back for Offseason Program

Jess Haynie

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Travis Frederick

Lost in yesterday's hoopla over Scott Linehan's return was a positive report about Center Travis Frederick. In his comments to the media, Jason Garrett said that Frederick's recovery timetable should allow him to a full participant in the team's offseason program.

After never missing a start in his first five years, Travis missed all of 2018 dealing with the effects of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The disease attacked his neurological system and required immediate and intensive treatment.

Rob Phillips on Twitter

Jason Garrett says the team anticipates Travis Frederick being involved in the offseason program right from the start this spring if he continues on the same positive track in recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome. #cowboyswire

While Joe Looney performed admirably in Frederick's absence, he's not an elite talent. Travis has been arguably the best center in the NFL since entering the league in 2013.

It's hard to qualify what effect not having Frederick had on the Cowboys offense in 2018. Ezekiel Elliott still led the league in rushing, but short-yardage plays weren't as automatic as we've seen in past years. A 4th-and-1 stuff was part of what led to the Cowboys' loss this past Saturday.

Dak Prescott was the second-most sacked QB in the NFL in 2018. After being sacked just 25 and 32 times in his first two seasons, the number skyrocketed to 56 sacks.

That's not all on Frederick, of course. Tyron Smith had some health issues and there were was turnover at left guard.

But having your All-Pro veteran center out there to help with the pre-snap reads, and help the rookie guard on his left, might have helped avoid some of those issues.

Indeed, Travis Frederick's return is just one of many reasons for optimism with the 2019 season. One of the best players on the team, he was sorely missed this year and can only help as Dallas looks to build on their division title and playoff appearance.



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