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Dallas Cowboys: An Organizational Blueprint To Become Legitimate Contenders

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728261The Cowboys seem to be in an infinite loop of mediocrity; a perpetual cycle of good enough to tease fans and bad enough to never contend.

Cowboys Nation seems to be in a state of constant demand and ever growing expectations.  While Cowboys fans can be the best in the NFL, often they are blinded by the strategic unethical journalistic assault that sports media tends to launch.  Constantly big platform guys like Skip Bayless twist and turn the words and actions of "America's Team" to conjure up negative perceptions around the NFL and, ultimately, more reads.

As I sit here writing this, I impore you to sit back and look at these Cowboys with an open mind.  Take away your personal biases or individual feelings towards current players.

Now, there are three unequivocal truths about these Cowboys: 1) Tony Romo, like him or not, WILL be quarterbacking this team for the foreseeable future. 2) Jason Garrett possesses the talent to be an excellent head coach in this league. 3) This team remains one of the most talented teams in the league.

Those are the things that we can not control and must stop trying to argue. We can't take back Tony Romo's contract.  We can't justify firing Jason Garrett after two seasons that have seen improvement just to have to rebuild again.  And we certainly can not support an arguement that says the Cowboys don't have the talent to contend in this league.

Cowboys fans let me make one thing abundantly clear, this Cowboys team is a top team in this league.

The only question that remains is how do you get them to play like it?

I'm not talking about just this year, i'm talking about consistently contending thoughout a long-term window that has been created through two years of smart drafting.

So for a minute, I get to escape from my very average life and step into Jerry Jones' shoes and put together a blue print for returning the Dallas Cowboys into an NFL juggernaut.

Here we go....

Maximize Talent While Minimizing Cap

morris-claiborne1The Cowboys have put themself in a incredibly tough situation to navigate through in the upcoming years.  With limited increase projected in terms of salary cap allowance, the Cowboys have little room to add or retain upcoming free agents.

The Cowboys must adopt a philosophy of careful player potential evaluation.  Every personnel move needs to be calculated, meaning that every player needs to be evaluated in terms of long-term cost and long-term potential.

Additionally, the team needs to realize the benefit of player acquisition through the NFL draft.  For years the Cowboys have carelessly drafted and watched picks bust or flame out.  Thankfully, Jason Garrett has began to change that trend and will need to continue to do so to help the burden of potentially losing impact players in the near future.

In the next two years Sean Lee, Tyron Smith, Dez Bryant, Bruce Carter and DeMarco Murray will all be free agents.  Those afforementioned players represent the young core of this team.  The Cowboys must make it a priority to ensure that they retain as many of these players as they can.  Each has superstar ability and it would be nausiating to see them depart to have success elsewhere because the Cowboys didn't know how to budget properly.


Promote Continuity Through Coaching

106827160_crop_650x440For all the crap that Jason Garrett gets I believe that he's doing something very special in Dallas.  He has transformed this roster from a group of individuals to a team.  Changes don't occur over night, no matter how much we want them too.

Finally, Garrett has his type of players and that can't go overlooked.

Let me break it down for everyone.  Players don't benefit from constant coaching changes.  Learning new schemes isn't easy and if you're having to do it every offseason you're never going to be able to maximize your potential.

Garrett may not be perfect and he certainly has a lot to improve on.  However, if i'm Jerry Jones i'm giving him an extension.  Garrett needs to know that he has security in building this team.  If you're making him consistently look over his shoulder in fear he's never going to be able to fully commit to successful coaching.

The players need to know that Garrett isn't going anywhere, they need to know they can commit to him without fear of having to endure change.  Garrett is the glue to a team that is finally starting to come together.

Let The Son Claim His Throne

Stephen+Jones+Dallas+Cowboys+v+Houston+Texans+Ibc5eTzTPvgxJerry Jones is arguably the best marketer that the NFL has ever seen.  He has continued to make the Cowboys one of the most popular teams in the NFL and as a result he is the owner of the most valuable sports franchise in the world.

However, Jerry Jones' ability to be a good business man doesn't mean he's worth anything as a general manager.

For a while now Jerry Jones has been grooming his son to take over the family business.  It has been said that Stephen Jones has the right mind to be a successful GM in the NFL and could do so with any NFL franchise.

Stephen seems to be the anti-Jerry.  He understands how football operations work and seemingly does things for the betterment of the team.  Stephen was reportedly the front man for the Cowboys negotiations with quarterback Tony Romo which is structured in a way that will maximize the Cowboys ability to retain players in '14-'15.

The Cowboys would benefit from having Stephen if for no other reason that he can dedicate all his time to being the GM.  Jerry will always be more committed to growing his bank account than the franchise.  If this team plans to win, they need a GM committed to it as well.

Summary

There is a reason that this blueprint is tailored to the front office.  The talent on this team suggests that the Cowboys are ready to win now.  They have a mixture of older veterans and young budding superstars which is the equation to success.

However, until the ownership recognizes what it wants from this team and the extremely important role it plays in it's teams success, the Dallas Cowboys will remain "Next Year's Champions".


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Game Notes

The Brady Report: Cowboys Defense Run Over In Primetime Loss

Kevin Brady

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The Brady Report: Cowboys Defense Run Over In Primetime Loss

Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings was a tough one to take for the Dallas Cowboys. They could easily be sitting here today at 7-2 or 6-3, comfortably ahead of the Eagles for first place in the division and fighting for a first round bye in the postseason.

Instead, they are barely over .500 on the season and face de facto must win games each week from here on out. Obviously they let this one slip away, but there's a whole seven games to go before we know the fate of the 2019 Dallas Cowboys.


Let's discuss what went wrong (and right) last week during the Cowboys 28-24 loss.

  • What more can we say about Dak Prescott? The Cowboys franchise quarterback was incredible yet again on Sunday night, having arguably his best game to date even in defeat. Prescott was in complete control of the offense, and showcased his mastery by bailing the Cowboys out with some big third down throws. Prescott finished with 397 yards and 3 touchdowns, and continues to force the hand of the Jones family to break out the checkbook this offseason.
  • Much like Dak Prescott, I'm running out of adjectives to describe the play of wide receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper has been a God-send for this Cowboys offense over the last calendar year, looking like one of the best wide outs in the league week in and week out. Cooper went for 147 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches, and should have been given a chance to win the game on the team's final drive.
  • Alright, that's enough praise in defeat. Let's talk about the negatives. The defensive tackles were flat-out awful. No matter who it was - Antwaun Woods, Maliek Collins, Christian Covington, Kerry Hyder - anyone who was asked to defend the run at the 1 or 3 technique position had some very low moments against the Vikings. Minnesota bullied the Cowboys upfront on both the sides of the ball, en route to over 150 yards on the ground for this Vikings offense. Dalvin Cook and the Vikings offensive line won this game, and the Cowboys interior defensive line needs to be better if they hope to actually compete against good teams.
  • The defensive tackles were bad against the run Sunday night, but let's not let the linebackers off the hook. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are each immensely talented, but neither has been as consistent as a run defender as they need to be going forward. Smith looked flat-out dis-engaged at times during this one, and both linebackers were run over by interior offensive linemen getting to the second level. I've often praised Smith for his versatility and what it does to unleash this defense, but he was plain bad last week.
  • Of course, we can't let the coaching staff off the hook for this loss either. Head coach Jason Garrett made several questionable fourth down calls down the stretch of the game, and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was determined to pound the ball on first down despite achieving next to no success. On the defensive end, Kris Richard's defensive backs were toasted. Chidobe Awuzie continues to look like a liability opposite Byron Jones, and the safety spot next to Xavier Woods has been a massive hole all season. And, while both Jones and Woods have been mostly good this year, neither was particularly impressive either during this loss. It was a total and complete defensive failure. This team needs to get better fast, and it all starts at the top with the coaching staff.


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Dallas Cowboys

Loss to Minnesota Could be the Final Nail in Jason Garrett’s Coffin

Brian Martin

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Vikings Loss Could be the Final Nail in Jason Garrett's Coffin

The 2019 NFL season kind of seemed like a do or die situation for the Dallas Cowboys current Head Coach Jason Garrett. He is currently in the last year of his contract and his future with the Cowboys organization could be hanging in the balance, especially after the devastating loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

If Jason Garrett isn't extended beyond this season, this loss to Minnesota could possibly be where his career with the Dallas Cowboys started to circle the drain. There are still several games left on the Cowboys schedule this season, but this one loss could be the one that ends up knocking them out of the playoffs. If that's true, it's hard to believe JG will be retained.

Jerry Jones, and son Stephen, have both fully supported Jason Garrett since he became the Cowboys full-time head coach back in 2011 after serving as the interim HC for Wade Phillips in 2010. That's nearly a decade of the Jones' sticking by JG through all of the thick and thin over years. That unwavering support however could be coming to an end though.

The proof is in the pudding as they say. As a head coach Jason Garrett is slightly above average according to his all-time win/loss record. His regular-season record as the HC with the Cowboys is 82-62 (.569) and he's 2-3 (.400) in the postseason. Add all of that up and he's 84-65 (.564) in his career… slightly above average.


Jason Garrett

Dallas Cowboys HC Jason Garrett (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

If I know anything about the Jones', I know getting the Dallas Cowboys back to the promised land as one of the best teams in the NFL is at the top of their list. That's why we've seen them over the years take chances on players other teams wouldn't in order to put together the most competitive roster they possibly could. Now that attention might need to be shifted from the players to the head coach.

Much like the Jones', I've supported and stood by Jason Garrett over the years. That support is dwindling though after each and every loss this season, at least on my part. Personally, I'm ready to find some new blood and move on. What the Jones' end up doing though is completely up in the air.

I want to believe the Dallas Cowboys are ready to move on from JG, but I'm not completely convinced. The fact that his current contract is about to expire after the season suggests they're at least considering parting ways, but that's all it does. I think how the rest of season turns out after the devastating loss to the Vikings will end up determining his fate.

If JG somehow sneaks the Cowboys into the playoffs it could save his job. That unfortunately is no easy thing to do with the teams they have left to play this season. Because of that, the Week 10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings could end up being the final nail in Jason Garrett's coffin.

What do you think? Is it time to part ways with Jason Garrett?


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Game Notes

Lions QB Matthew Stafford’s Status Still Unknown for Cowboys Game

Jess Haynie

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Matthew Stafford, Lions

The Dallas Cowboys are headed to Detroit this Sunday for a Week 11 meeting with the Lions. As Dallas tries to get back to winning games, they may get a boost from the absence of Lions' Quarterback Matthew Stafford. After missing last week's game with a back injury, Stafford's status for this week remains unclear.

Stafford was a limited participant in practices all of Week 10 for Detroit and went into their game with the Chicago Bears as a game-time decision. He was ultimately ruled out due to fractures in his back; the first start Stafford's missed for the Lions since the 2010 season.

Jeff Driskel got the start as the Lions fell in Chicago. He is 1-5 as an NFL starter overall, going 1-4 in games for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018.

The Lions are now 3-5-1 on the year and at the bottom of the NFC North. They are also far behind in the Wild Card race, which leads to speculation that they could shut Stafford down for the season to preserve his long-term health. Based on Matthew's contract, the earliest Detroit can easily get out from his contract is after the 2020 season.

For his part, Matthew Stafford has said he has no plans on staying out this season as long he's medically cleared to play. He certainly would love to be active this Sunday against the Cowboys, the team of his youth, after playing his high school football in Dallas.


Even if Stafford plays, Dallas has done solidly overall against opposing quarterbacks in 2019. They are sixth in passing yards allowed per game and 14th in opponent passer rating.

Detroit is fourth in passing offense right now in the NFL but that was based on eight games with Stafford at QB. Jeff Driskel will not perform at that same level, and the Lions' rushing attack has been very weak since Kerryon Johnson went on injured reserve.

We'll see in the coming days if Matthew Stafford is at practice for Detroit and to what extent. But even if he does practice some, as he did last week, it could once again be a last-minute decision for the Lions if Stafford actually plays on Sunday.

With the Cowboys desperate for a win, they'll take all the help they can get.


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