Many in the media (local and abroad), as well as across the blogosphere, have taken a simplistic view on how Jason Garrett will retain his job following this upcoming season, stating one of two qualifiers:
He either has to make the playoffs, or he has to do better than 8 and 8.
While I understand that should he be dismissed, one (if not both) of the above probably did not happen, I believe this is taking a rather myopic approach to how a Head Coach is graded as far as their performance over an entire season.
There are quite a few issues that can occur within a season to derail a team's win/loss ratio and/or playoff chances, regardless of the job the Head Coach does. Injuries in particular, especially to key positions such as QB, could play a huge role in a losing season. Does anybody expect Weeden to take this team to a record better than 8 and 8, much less the playoffs? Lack of talent on the defensive side of the ball is the reason many within the media have already picked the Cowboys to go 8 and 8 - or worse - no matter what Garrett does.
Jerry Jones has made it clear. He wants Garrett to oversee the team as a whole, as opposed to leaning towards offense, which means that much of the defense, special teams and offense's success or failure falls on the coordinator's shoulders, in terms of play calling, and the actual players in terms of execution. Granted, Jason will likely have his hand in everything, but at the same time, if one unit out of three doesn't perform as it should, it will be difficult to just point the finger at Jason…at least for me.
This line of thinking set me to questioning the most important attributes of a Head Coach and, furthermore, how their successes and failures are measured; how do we truly determine a Head Coach's value?
Organizationally, I think most agree that the culture has improved over Garrett’s tenure. Despite the occasional low-risk / high-reward chances taken on less-than-RKG material players, for the most part, he has placed an emphasis on filling the locker room with guys who have Team Captain on their resume, a high level of passion for the game of football, willingness to put in work both on and off the field, and for the betterment of the team, men who support each other in that ambition. Or, at least, so it seems. And just so there is no further confusion, RKG doesn't mean country-club-membership-touting boy scout/choirboy who spends his time off looking for opportunities to help old ladies across the street.
While I am certainly guilty of yelling at the television for certain plays called in situations where Garrett has in the past tried to be, in my opinion, so clever he out-smarts himself, the offense, especially these past two seasons, has not been the issue that has handcuffed this team to mediocrity. I am not attempting to dismiss blame from Garrett for how the Special Teams and Defense has performed; I am simply stating that the X’s and O’s of this game have not been his issue and, therefore, likely are not going to be the reason Garrett is dismissed following this next season.
Obviously, Wade's team made it easy to see that it was time for him to be replaced...they quit. But I really can't say that I've seen that level of quit since Wade left. For the most part, this team has battled, losing by seven points or less the majority of the time since Garrett took over for Wade in 2010.
Garrett lost 3 games,
all of which were by 3 points or less:
Saints by 3
Eagles by 3
Cardinals by 1
Garrett lost 8 games,
5 of which were by 7 points or less:
Ravens by 3
Giants by 5
Falcons by 6
Redskins by 7
Saints by 3
Garrett lost 8 games,
5 of which were by 6 points or less:
Jets by 3
Lions by 4
Patriots by 4
Cardinals by 6
Giants by 3
Garrett lost 8 games,
5 of which were by 3 points or less:
Chiefs by 1
Broncos by 3
Lions by 1
Packers by 1
Eagles by 2
My hypothesis is that based on the above information, we can infer his team has not quit on him and have fought to the end. Granted, a few of those losses were situations where teams came back to win, such as the Chiefs, Packers and the Lions from last year, but I do not believe that was a result of the team quitting.
Admittedly, I still hold Jason responsible for those losses because I honestly believe play calling and in-game management had more to do with it than anything. However, with Marinelli, Linehan, and Bissacia calling the shots for the most part as far as play calling, we should see improvement on the in-game management this season because that will be the only aspect of the game Garrett should be directly responsible for...and even with that, I'm sure Callahan will be backing him up.
So with this host of proven talented coaches behind Garrett in 2014, what can we, the fans truly look at to say one way or another if Garrett did a good job or a bad job?
For me, Garrett's ultimate measuring stick will come when this team experiences those "defecation hits the oscillation" situations.
When things go wrong, how does he, his subordinate coaches and, more importantly, his players handle it? Will they continue to fight or will they roll over and submit? If and when injuries occur, will the next man up be ready? I don't expect said player to completely replace his predecessor; but I do expect him at the very least to know his role, his assignments and execute to the best of his ability. When the football takes an unlucky bounce, how does the team respond? With a fight to get the ball back, or do they allow the momentum of the game to be sucked away?
Obviously, these things are the intangibles that are often times hard to measure and can be subjective from one viewer to another, but still, I believe the people within the organization will know. And that's what I think Jerry Jones will be looking at come season end, with or without the playoffs or a record better than 8 and 8.
2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1
Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.
Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.
Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.
The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.
Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas
Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.
Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.
The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.
Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.
Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial
Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.
Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.
Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.
Pues en Dallas, hoy dos jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.
Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.
Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.
Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.
Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.
Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?
Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.
The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.
The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.
Lock Down the Big Guns
Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.
Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.
As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.
Adding New Talent
One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.
Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.
If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.
Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.
Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.
The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.
As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.
Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.
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