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The Dallas Cowboys’ Problems Start at the Top

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As I'm sure you all know, the Dallas Cowboys are 5-6 and are long shots on making the playoffs this season. When we take a look at what the Cowboys have struggled with this season the list is rather long.

Whether it's the injuries to Sean Lee, Tyron Smith, or Dan Bailey, the six game suspension that the NFL smacked down on Ezekiel Elliott, or maybe the coach's inability to adjust, there is plenty to talk about when discussing the weaknesses of this Dallas Cowboys football team.

The biggest problem with the Dallas Cowboys comes from the top. Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Will McClay deserve a lot of blame for what has happened to this football team.

In recent years, the Dallas Cowboys front office has been looked at as geniuses for drafting guys like Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, or signing guys like Benson Mayowa and George Selvie, unfortunately that luck has run out.

Cowboys 2016 Draft Class: Who Will Stand Out In 2017?

Dallas Cowboys during rookie minicamp, Front row left to right: Dak Prescott (4), Maliek Collins (96), Jaylon Smith (54), Ezekiel Elliott (21), Charles Tapper (79). Back row Anthony Brown (30), Darius Jackson (34), Kavon Frazier (35) and Rico Gathers (80). Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Over the last few weeks I evaluated every draft pick the Cowboys have used since 2013. In my evaluation I pulled out guys who I had graded as above average and pro-bowl players. I was shocked to find out that out of 42 total draft picks, I had only seven draft picks graded out as above average players based on their careers so far.

(* = pro-bowl caliber player)

That is not a successful formula for building a super bowl team.

The lack of ability to draft, sign, and develop players to play at a high level is something that this team cannot afford to do, especially with the way they handle free agency.

Last offseason the Cowboys signed Damontre Moore, Stephen Paea, and Nolan Carroll in free agency. None of those players are currently with the team. In 2016, the Cowboys signed Benson Mayowa and Cedric Thornton to pretty big contracts. Benson Mayowa has yet to record a sack in 2017 and Cedric Thornton was one of the Cowboys' final cuts before the '17 season.

How do you fix this problem? It may be time to let Will McClay walk and try to help another team build its roster.

Practice Squad Poaching

While Will McClay has certainly helped this team a lot over the years with drafts and bringing in other guys off the street, he's struggled in building a championship team.

As we all know, the last time the Cowboys won a Super Bowl was January 28th, 1996, that's also the last time the Cowboys won an NFC Championship. That is a 21-year span that the team has gone without playing in an NFC Championship game.

Will McClay obviously knows what he's doing, but similar to the Cowboys coaching staff, he and Stephen Jones seem to be very stubborn in the way they do things. Like I mentioned above, McClay and Jones don't like spending big money in free agency, as we've learned over the last few off-seasons.

I understand why, but you better be able to hit on a good percentage of your draft picks if you're not comfortable paying proven veterans.

That stubbornness from the front office is something that must change in order for the Cowboys to get back to a championship caliber team. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like that's going to happen anytime soon.

On Stephen Jones radio show today with 105.3 The Fan he all but confirmed my "stubbornness" comment.

Jeff Cavanaugh on Twitter

It's very difficult for us to think we can pick a shorter defensive end and have success." - Stephen Jones on draft DEs.

This is something I will never understand with this front office. Their lack of ability to evaluate defensive talent has put this team in a bind for years now, and it doesn't seem like they are interested in changing their ways.

The comment from Stephen was made after Jeff Cavanaugh asked about Carl Lawson (7.0 sacks) and T.J. Watt (5.0 sacks). Jones practically made it clear that they will stay away from short pass rushers with short arms, hints the Taco Charlton pick. That is absolutely ridiculous seeing as some of the better pass rushers in the NFL are undersized (Carl Lawson, Melvin Ingram, Brandon Graham).

This type of mentality concerns me as someone who covers the team and as a fan.

Having confidence as an NFL general manager is one thing, being stubborn and not having the ability to adjust is another. Stephen Jones and Jerry Jones are not going anywhere, we know that. But it may be time to start thinking about getting someone new in the building to evaluate talent and make personnel decisions. The track record proves itself.

The Cowboys can't keep drafting projects or signing journeymen in free agency if they want to compete for a Lombardi trophy. Especially when you take into account the window you have with an extremely cheap franchise quarterback.

Do you think Will McClay is the right guy as the Dallas Cowboys "General Manager"? Let me know below!



Born in 1995, loved Football but more importantly the Dallas Cowboys since day one. Living in Redskins Country flying the Blue and Silver flag as high as possible. Covering the Dallas Cowboys for InsideTheStar.com and CowboysNation.com. Catch me on twitter @ConnorNFLDraft!

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20 Comments
  • Randy Martin

    I was a little taken aback when you made the statement that YOU only had 7 of 42 players with draft grades above average as I’m not sure what your credentials are? Should you be looking for a position with an NFL team? But as I set that aside and just went with the gist of the article I began to mull the idea. Will McClay has been enjoying a reputation as somewhat of a draft guru and someone that other teams would like to poach as a GM. Oddly though, his background and experience is all arena league from the Dallas Desperadoes which happened to be JJ’s team as well. A bit of an odd pedigree from a man in this position. It is also my understanding that McClay wanted TJ Watt in that pick and Garrett was pounding the table for Taco. When you say the problems start at the top, it’s really the very top. The best coach Jones ever hired was Jimmy Johnson and he was fired simply because the two egos could not co-exist. Since then it has been a cavalcade of yes men. Men that Jones could trust would, in the end, do his bidding. The long drought of super bowl appearances can be hung at the feet of Jerry Jones because in the end all the staff and player personnel decision are the responsibility of the owner by hiring the right personnel and delegating and letting them do their job. Jerry is unable or unwilling to do that. Dallas ownership will likely forever remain in the hands of a Jones family member so unless, until something happens to Jerry, and we see a different style from another family member (Stephen) I don’t expect to see a lot of change. You can hear it in everything that is said and everything that is done. As they say, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. All I hear is “we’re staying the course” and they don’t see the iceberg dead ahead!

  • JAMIE STARR

    When will they implement a draft for coaches ? These Cowboy coaches are not having this team ready to play games. Do you remember the GB game in the playoffs last year ? How do you have two weeks to prepare and you are down in the first half by 20 points ? Sounds like a coaching issue to me…… LET’S GET SOME REAL COACHES IN THIS B. TIME FOR JASON GARRETT TO GO !!!

  • Frego 17

    Great article my friends not too many call it, has it is, you do on this article, lots of people are afraid to criticized a rich man like Jerry, you do.
    That’s great.

    Money makes everyone stubborn, in you’re frame of mind you belive that you know it all,
    They have their right the Joneses, there the owners,
    But I really second guess this people if they really want to win. Everything points they don’t, the Jonese’s are bussiness people, not football talent evaluaters, but there so stubborn and ego maniacs, and they want to prove the world that is was them. not JIMMY.
    My question , is how long is going to take them to realize, there not good at What there doing.. 22, years in my opinión should br enough , to realize they need to step aside, and let someone do the talent evaluation.
    They are a super great, and I mean great bussiness family , but that’s about it.
    Thank you for you’re article was great..

  • Travis Diggs

    Connor you should be ashamed of yourself for implying that it starts at the top but put it on Mcclay, He’s at the top??Really??? Who signed Carroll, Thorton, Paea, and others??, It wasnt Mcclay, We all know who signed them, are yall that nieve at insidethestar. Jerry makes the final call, You and everybody knows that. You can’t fix a average defense with just the draft and one year deal players. This team is loaded with talent, its up to Jason Garrett how far they go and Rod Marinelli does what he can do with just ok players who only wanna play if Sean Lee’s with them. Talent is not the issue here. Jerry continues to mess up but writers and whoever else puts blame on everybody and anybody else without pointing the finger at the key issue here, Jerry

  • Duncan

    Repeating the obvious – we will never win unless changes are made in the front office and we all know that will never happen.
    The inability of our coaches have also put this team in peril – it’s painful to watch year after year.

  • Suave Freddie

    ALL of ComboyNation should express what they feel about this team. Year after year, the Cowboys become the drama king of the NFL. They just make it easier for the HATERS to hate the Cowboys even more. J.J. & Stephen just don’t get it anymore. If you don’t know how to build a playoff caliber team, then it’s time to step down and hire those that have experience and ingenuity to build one. The Cowboys were better off before J.J. came into the picture. I’m sure there would have been/be flexibility to be a playoff caliber team by now without J.J.. This team is very STAGNANT in which it has been built. TOO PREDICTABLE!! NO ENTHUSIASM!! NO EXPLOSIVENESS!! NO ACCOUNTABILITY!! NO DISCIPLINE!! TOO EASY TO READ their playbook. Read article that Tony Romo would be a good head coach for the Cowboys.That would be something different to start of with. He’s an EXVELLENT commentator. Why noy as a coach. J.J. does not have anything to lose. Players would RESPECT him more than Garrett. Tony would discipline the team and hold them accountable.Just look at the Rams. IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE!! But in this real world of the Joneses, don’t expect too much.

  • Jamminn

    We all know it’s garrett and his layed back laxidasial approach to the game. Hisnpmay colling was vanilla when he was a off coordinator I said it then we will never win a sb with him here then they made him coach and I said it again he’s lame no balls approach clapping every damn game ? Saying even thought we lost 3 game we did some good things? Really? What good did we do sweep the locker room? This guy is a joke and Jerry is a business man he is a good business man but let me tell you if I owned a 4.5 billion$ franchise I would have the best coach money could buy not a back up washed up QB trying to learn how to coach on the fly which he’s not thank you Arron Rodgers 2 years in a row showing us. Can’t manage a game clock etc. see a real coach coaches takes young kids and turns them into power houses . Bilicheck takes a whole defense rebuilds it ends up in the super bowl. Remember when we played the 49ers and Steve young was out they had Elvis grirbach for crying out loud come in here and shalack the Boys moved rice to the slot taking Deon out of the game that my friend is coaching making adjustments. 1 player and you can’t win a game we have had great teams 12/4 13-3 teams before 11-5 etc 2 playoff wins? Really wasted Romos career now we are on our way to wasting Dak and Elliot’s .Go get John Gruden he’s a Dak fan who knows how to call plays and make adjustments go get Bill cower who will yell in a guys face in front of the whole nation hold a player accountable but oh yea Jerry’s they movie star here I remember now he’s the one in the spot light guess what u are a fool a rich fool but a fool non the less .until Jerry makes the best move and understands he has let at least 4 Super Bowl teams slip thru his rich fingers or croaks we will always be outside looking in 72-78-92,93,95 Super Bowls 22 years ago is HISTORY

    • pdstix78

      You would think they’d get tired of getting embarrassed on national TV. I’m sure Cousins will come out during and put numbers up. Nobody fears this team, especially on defense. Opposing offenses look forward to having their way every week

  • eric jensen

    I agree! Long arm Def players, not players that short arms ,not fast, and short in height!! Need players 6’4 or better, but faster 4:32! Look at B.Hayes, need that kind of players,but coaching staff & owners staff need to get their head out their asses!!

  • http://www.dallascowboyschat.com Cowboysdude

    What this writer is failing to understand is the obvious…..they aren’t trying to build a SB winner, they are building a bank account winner. They KNOW 2 things…..Cowboys fans are delusional about their team and 2. They just say what the fans want to hear and they just buy it.. YES both are true and it blows my mind totally. I don’t purchase anything Cowboys and haven’t since they hired the red headed clap monkey they loosely call a “HC”….. Could you imagine what the fan base of other teams would do if they hired a coach and told the fans he was “learning on the job”? WTF? At this level? UUhhhhhhhh No, just no. Wake up cowboys fans….. you are being taken for a ride….. quit paying the fare…..

  • oneputter

    Watt only looks better in Pittsburgh because of the talent next to him and behind him. you put him in dallas and he looks no better than TC does right now….c’mon people!

    the scheme is outdated, we run the same darn stunt on nearly every play….we blitz the same player every single time, c’mon you know who and from where it’s coming, my 11 yr old son can recognize our one blitz…..that’s the frkn problem with this defense.

    • pdstix78

      That’s what happens when you gotta proven loser running your defense

      • oneputter

        ba-lee dat!!!

    • Tommy Davis

      Defensively, Marinelli is the problem. He put 9 players on the line and left 2 defensive backs to defend the entire field on 2 occasions resulting in touchdowns, that is unacceptable. Also, not utilizing your best cover corner (Jordan Lewis) more while allowing Anthony Brown to play outside corner when he is a major liability on the outside is unfathomable. Jeff Heath is too slow to be a starting safety, he does not have close out speed to be able to help in deep coverage. Jaylen Smith should play outside linebacker, not the middle. He could be a terrific pass rusher coming off the edge with his speed. We have a very good D-line, but we need to put the best players on the field in the secondary. When the cowboys utilize a four man front, 2 linebackers and 5 defensive backs, they are an excellent defense. They rarely line up that way.

  • Duncan

    Why is everyone on this forum so much smarter than the Clowns in the Cowboys front office who are making millions of dollars – that includes the coaching staff.
    After reading these post it’s comforting to see the passion of our fan base and how everyone is on the same page with the Jones’s family and the head coach.
    Watch Kirk Cousins will light us up Thursday nite on National TV “AGAIN”.

  • billy jack

    i dont know I thought Jerry was the general manger so he should be fired and let Mcclay given the chance to prove what he can do

  • John Williams

    Well written Connor.

    It’s tough man. Jerry Jones is the decision maker on the team and he puts a lot of trust in Garrett and McClay. Will McClay has done a great job streamlining the communication process between the scouts and the coaching staff and I think has done a good job finding diamonds in the rough.

    I had a huge issue with Stephen talking about a DE profile. He was the one guy in the room that I thought was open minded and willing to adjust if necessary. To me that’s evidence that Rod Marinelli hsa way too much influence in evaluations and in draft selection. I think Taco proves it.

    There are a lot of problems, but who knows what changes, if any will be made.

    • pdstix78

      This team is just a mess. Jerry won’t acknowledge it, but they’ll continue to spin their wheels with this current coaching staff

  • Gilbert Perez

    Jerry acting like a GM has been the problem for 22 years. Why not give Will McClay a shot at being GM. Can’t be any worst than Jerry’s decisions over the years

  • Jonathan Young

    Will McClay is not the PROBLEM. It’s Jerry Jones & his EGO, people have said this for years that Jerry needs to get out of his own way. Other than Jimmy Johnson, Bill Parcells would be the only other coach that really coached the Cowboys. Until Jerry Jones is unable to be in the way. Then Stephen Jones or whoever wants to really put their heart into the day to day operations of the team we’re only going to be as good as we have been over the last 25 year’s…

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Starters Make Cowboys Serious Contenders, But Depth is a Concern

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Defense Better Or Worse Then Last Season?

Playing in the National Football Conference, the Dallas Cowboys have a difficult task ahead of them if they are to be serious Super Bowl contenders. Even still, they've become a very underrated football team due to their 9-7 record last season. The Cowboys struggled in many areas and with the Philadelphia Eagles crowned as Super Bowl Champions, everyone has forgotten about America's Team.

2017 was an awful year for the Cowboys. It seemed like a roller coaster of success, putting up an impressive performance one week only to disappoint the next one. Let's be honest with ourselves here and talk about what really ended the Cowboys' last season.

Injuries.

As much as we talk about how there shouldn't be any excuses in football - the Eagles made a huge statement by winning it all with a backup QB and other key starters missing - we can't deny the impact of these injuries.

Anthony Hitchens, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott all missed some time last year, affecting the team's performance week in and week out. Had the starters been healthy, the truth is this team would've been in the playoffs.

Heading into 2018, the Cowboys will face a very similar situation. This year, starters make Dallas a serious contender. Even if they're playing in a conference that will feature a lot of quality teams, the Cowboys are a team that could beat any team in the league if healthy.

Even the dreaded wide receiver position - which has been famous this offseason for the lack of a #1 receiver - won't be as bad as we make it out to be starter-wise. A starting trio of Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Cole Beasley doesn't really sound bad.

Heck, not even Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods starting at safety is concerning. They have what it takes to be decent starters. Sure, Heath isn't a guy who will make the Pro Bowl, but his skills will show on the field once the season starts in September.

The Cowboys' starters will do just fine this season. If the team's fate is up to them, they are in a very good spot. The same can not be said about depth, though.

Except for the defensive line, every other position lacks depth. If Sean Lee goes down, the linebackers stop looking like a three-headed monster. Same goes for the cornerbacks. Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis seem like a good group but as soon as one of them suffers an injury, the Cowboys will be in trouble.

We're in for an exciting season with a lot of young talent waiting to breakout. The Cowboys are underrated this year. They may not be among the NFC's favorites, but they truly have what it takes to replicate the success they had in 2016. However, it seems like circumstances have to be ideal for them to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy.

With a little bit of luck, they'll bounce back this season.

Tell me what you think about "Starters Make Cowboys Serious Contenders, But Depth is a Concern" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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

The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up

Brian Martin

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Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle Heating Up 1

Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.

The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.

As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.

Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.

Terrance Williams

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.

Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.

Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.

I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.

All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.

How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?



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Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?

Brian Martin

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Decision not to Play Dan Bailey against the 49ers a Concern? 1

With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.

Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.

I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.

I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?

Dan Bailey

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.

Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.

Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.

Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.

Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?



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