Hello Cowboys Nation, today we dig into the signing of Greg Hardy and what it means to the team's 2015 season to sign the man widely considered the best defensive player left in free agency.
Dallas was 19th in total yards allowed on defense, which was actually best in the NFC East last year. But with some additions like Kiko Alonso to Philadelphia, Terrance Knighton to Washington, and the Giants getting lots of good players back from injury and likely to go defense in the first or second round of this year's draft, we also had to be placed in a position to improve our defense - especially being in the NFC, we can't get past Aaron Rodgers with just our offense.
Many know we've got a huge void on defense, particularly in the passing game. Our pass defense ranked 26th in 2014 and actually was worse than Washington and New York.
More than 4,000 passing yards is unacceptable though. We were the only team that gave up that many yards, yet made it as far as we did (Divisional Round, and the Steelers/Cardinals were two other playoff teams who gave up 4K in the passing game). Why is it unacceptable? Well, we could have been just as unlucky and been like Tampa Bay, who gave up just 53 more passing yards than we did.
I'm not saying that we can't do anything without a pass defense - like make it into the playoffs - but our eyes need to be set on something much more, like a Super Bowl.
We should all know that the secondary is helped with pressure up front. How do we know this? Tony Romo tore up defenses when he was given 7-8 seconds in the pocket. That offensive line was able to hold some of the premier defensive fronts in the NFL in check for that to happen, and the only team we really had problems with were the Redskins. Keep in mind, that line played against Houston, Seattle, Arizona (L), Detroit, and St. Louis.
The defensive line, however, is where the issue is. I've always said that games are won or lost in the trenches. We've addressed the offensive line, but the defensive line is far from perfect. The Cowboys recorded 28 sacks last season. Ten sacks are by players who have bolted, including Henry Melton's five. That number doesn't even include players whose futures in Dallas are in doubt, like Rolando McClain and Anthony Spencer, even if they only contributed 1.5 sacks between them.
Dallas has been really smart with money this offseason. That's the only reason they didn't re-sign DeMarco Murray and guys like Melton. Bruce Carter and Justin Durant also signed elsewhere. We always look to the draft for guys who can make a significant impact at a position of need. However, we aren't high enough to draft a player of DeMarcus Ware's caliber, so we can't expect our next #94 to come now.
We'll likely draft at least one defensive linemen in the first couple of rounds but can we count on them to help Romo grab his championship this year and make the difference that Watt, Suh and Miller have? No, we can not. Doesn't mean we won't draft one, but we STILL need someone to do some damage THIS YEAR.
Meet Greg Hardy.
The player out of Ole Miss selected by the Panthers in the 6th round of the 2010 draft. He didn't start his rookie year but managed three sacks in his various appearances. Over the next three years he compiled 30 sacks, including a second team All-Pro campaign back in 2013.
In the one game he played in 2014 before being put out due to scandalous allegations, he had 4 tackles, a sack, and stripped the ball once. After that game, you'd swear he was poised for a big, big year.
I mean, if you multiply his tackles and sacks in that one game by 16, that's career highs, not to mention if he ever performed better than that one game. He might even have gotten a career high in forced fumbles too, since he would just need 2 more during those 15 games to do so.
I bring this up because Hardy's 15 sacks in 2013 are more than half of what the entire Dallas Cowboys defense compiled last season. The team's 28 sacks were also nine short of the NFC Champs Seattle Seahawks and twelve short of the Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots. Both of those teams had elite corners in Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis, along with a safety tandem many teams would die for.
If Greg Hardy is suspended let's say four games, and he compiles a sack per game on average, that's 12 sacks. Those dozen sacks help close the gap, and there's no telling what he can do for the team if he wants to avenge his lost season.
I'm a moral kind of guy. I was disappointed in Josh Brent driving drunk and killing teammate Jerry Brown Jr. I was disappointed in Jay Ratliff, shortly after I might add, for driving drunk, too. I was disappointed in Joseph Randle last year when the guy making hundreds of thousands a year stole underwear and cologne. But what has Greg Hardy done that makes everyone say "No thanks"? The guy's charges were dismissed after the ex received money for compensation, and then didn't show for court that day, which makes anyone think she was all in it for the money. For a league of second chances who has accepted the likes of Ray Lewis, Michael Vick, and countless others back into the NFL (AND EVEN ADRIAN PETERSON), why not then give Greg Hardy a second chance?
Nobody can explain that to me. The guy was never convicted in the court of law. But that's what the 21st Century is now, "guilty until proven innocent."
I'm just saying, fans, you should be ecstatic about this signing. Especially since Stephen Jones constructed a risk-free deal, forcing Greg Hardy to actually play the games to receive the money.
If he gets hurt two games in, we only play him like $2 million. If he's suspended, we don't have to pay him. It's low-risk, and very high reward. You should be proud of the Dallas Cowboys for making a push for another playoff run - or Super Bowl - while managing their money so well that we don't get into a situation like we're in now with Brandon Carr, and ones we've seen in the past.
Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence and CB Byron Jones to Start 2019 Camp on PUP
The Dallas Cowboys will be missing two of their defensive leaders when they open 2019 training camp this Saturday. Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence and Cornerback Byron Jones will both start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List as they recover from offseason surgeries.
Lawrence, who got a new five-year contract in April, immediately underwent shoulder surgery once his deal was finalized. DeMarcus reportedly was waiting for contract negotiations to be completed before he had the procedure.
Jones had hip surgery in late May. He is playing 2019 on the fifth-year option from his original contract, and is no doubt hoping for his own long-term extension sometime in the near future.
Sources: DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones will open Cowboys camp on PUP and won't practice in California https://t.co/jzWV5FjBO6 via @sportsdaydfw
Neither Lawrence or Jones, who are both coming of Pro Bowl seasons in 2018, are expected to be absent once the regular season starts in September. But either participating in this year's training camp is doubtful, and even preseason appearances are in question right now.
With DeMarcus out at DE, newcomers like Robert Quinn and Kerry Hyder will get plenty of chances to show their stuff. It's also a nice opportunity for Taco Charlton, assuming he's recovered from his own offseason surgery, to get some work against the first-team offensive line.
No Byron at CB will give Jourdan Lewis a nice opportunity to work with the starters as well. He was likely stuck at the 4th spot behind Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown but should now get more time on the field and against the best competition.
Breaking News: Allen Hurns Released
The Dallas Cowboys are releasing Wide Receiver Allen Hurns after just one season with the team according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Cowboys releasing WR Allen Hurns, per source.
Hurns was brought in as a possible replacement for Dez Bryant considering they had a similar skill set, but that never quite worked out. He only managed 20 receptions for 295 yards and 2 touchdowns in 7 starts. He's coming off a horrific leg injury suffered in the Cowboys playoff win against the Seahawks last season.
This saves the Cowboys 5 million in cap space putting them around 24 million overall heading into the 2019 season currently. This now opens up snaps for some of the younger receivers on the Cowboys roster.
Cowboys Nation Mailbag: What will Kellen Moore’s Offense Look Like?
Four more days till the Dallas Cowboys hold their first training camp practice and the work begins to build this team into a Super Bowl contender. It's been 23 years since the Dallas Cowboys won their last Super Bowl and Cowboys Nation has been restless for Lombardi number six for about 22 of those years. Is this the year that the Cowboys finally breakthrough? Over the next seven months, we'll find out.
If the Dallas Cowboys are contenders at the end of the season, the biggest reason will be that the offense has turned into an elite unit to match a defensive group that proved to be one of the best in the NFL in 2018.
And if the offense is a top 10 unit in 2019, the biggest reason will be Kellen Moore's ability as an offensive coordinator. The Cowboys have the talent to be one of the best offenses in the NFL like they were in 2016, they just need an offensive play-caller who can add a bit of unpredictability and intelligence to the offense in 2019.
With that let's dig into your questions for this week's Cowboys Nation Mailbag.
What are some plays or ideas from other teams you'd like to see Kellen Moore copy or utilize.
— Stephen Morkel (@StephenSnorkel) July 21, 2019
So much of what the Dallas Cowboys need to add to their offense has less to do with the plays that are called and more to do with when they call plays and how they deploy their personnel.
The Dallas Cowboys need to improve in the red zone. One way to do that is to scheme guys open using crossing route combinations and rub routes. The Dallas Cowboys have some really good route runners in Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Michael Gallup, and Jason Witten. The Cowboys need to use those strengths.
The other thing the Dallas Cowboys need to do is to begin throwing more frequently on first down and in run formations to keep defenses off balance. Too many times in the last couple of years, opposing defenses knew what was coming based on the personnel groupings and formations they were deployed in. The Cowboys ran a lot on first downs and opposing defenses were looking run on those first down regardless of formation. If the Cowboys can come out and throw the ball effectively on first down it will open the offense up a lot more and keep defenses off-balance.
What are the biggest noticeable differences to expect in Kellen Moores offense? Why no competition for Maher yet?
— Andrew Barboza (@Dru13oza) June 17, 2019
One of the biggest questions surrounding the offense heading into 2019 focuses on what kind of influence Kellen Moore is going to have on this group. I wrote about this in more detail earlier this offseason when I reviewed Jon Gruden's Quarterback Camp episode with Kellen Moore.
Here were the biggest themes that I picked up on during his interview.
- Kellen Moore Wants to be "multiple." Meaning Moore wants to be able to run the same plays out of a variety of formations and personnel groupings. Whether he's running 10 personnel (1 RB, 4 WRs) or 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TEs), Moore wants to be able to run the same types of plays and route combinations. If the Cowboys are able to do this, it will keep the defense from being able to anticipate what the Cowboys are wanting to do on offense.
- Kellen Moore wants to create anticipation in the offense through week-long preparation. We know that Dak Prescott puts in the work to be as good as he can be. Prescott's work ethic combined with the preparation led by Moore and Quarterback's Coach Jon Kitna should help Prescott improve his anticipation by seeing where to throw the ball before the play even starts.
- Kellen Moore wants to use presnap motion to keep the offense off-balance and create confusion among the defense. Presnap motion forces the defense to adjust and communication during that adjustment could lead to miscommunication. For too much of the 2017 and 2018 seasons, the Dallas Cowboys were a little too predictable on offense, which was a complaint of some of the outgoing players when they left the Cowboys. Kellen Moore's offensive philosophy was learned under current Washington Huskies Head Coach and former Boise St. Head Coach Chris Petersen who's long been known for his offensive creativity and play calling.
- Kellen Moore wants to get creative in the red zone through gadget plays. Boise St. was known for using gadget plays like the "Statue of Liberty" play they used in the Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma.
If Moore is truly able to increase the level of unpredictability of the Dallas Cowboys offense, it should help the passing game and the running game be able to take advantage of mismatches across the formation.
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Kellen Moore's football mind has been highly thought since coming out of college. With training camp, the preseason, and the regular season coming, we're finally going to get to see that big football brain at work. For the Dallas Cowboys to have success in 2019, they need the Kellen Moore mind to be as good as advertised.
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