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Has Father Time Caught Up With TE Jason Witten?

Brian Martin



Has Father Time Caught Up With TE Jason Witten?

You may or may not have heard of Father Time before, but he is a mythical old man that represents time's constant one-way movement. Father Time catches up with all of us at some point, but for professional athletes he kind of comes out of nowhere. Unfortunately, it is starting to look as if the old man has finally started to catch up with the Dallas Cowboys' future Hall of Fame tight end, Jason Witten.

As a fan, it's always difficult to see your favorite professional athlete coming to the end of their career. Jason Witten is probably my all-time favorite player and his professionalism both on and off the field will truly be missed by the Cowboys organization. He is an ambassador of the sport and personifies exactly what teams look for in their players.

Unfortunately, the fact that he contemplated retirement during the off-season would suggest this could possibly be the last season we see him suit up for America's Team, despite what his new 4-year contract extension would indicate. Whether it is his desire to spend more time with his family or maybe he is starting to feel like he's lost a step, we should all start to prepare ourselves for when he does decide to fade into the shadows.

TE Jason Witten

I personally didn't want to admit it at first, but it was noticeable throughout the 2016 season that Jason Witten was not playing up to his normal standards.

He is noticeably a step slower in the passing game, but is still a reliable target because of his veteran saviness to create separation. His 69 receptions for 673 yards were some of the worst numbers he has put up in his entire career since entering the NFL in 2003.

He also surprisingly struggled as an in-line blocker last season. This was an area of his game where he was among the best at his position in the entire NFL, but took a noticeable step back in the 2016 season.

There were just too many times last season where Jason Witten looked a little bit lethargic on the field, which to me suggests that his age and Father Time has started to catch up to him. I'm hoping that I'm wrong, but I'm wondering if we will see more of the same in 2017.

His low production in the receiving game could be explained by the Cowboys offense focusing more on the running game, but that doesn't quite explain everything else. It may be time for the Cowboys organization to start looking for his successor and the 2017 draft class has some pretty good TE options.

Jason Witten will not only go down as one of the best tight ends to ever play in the NFL, but THE BEST Dallas Cowboy to ever play for the organization.

I don't know about you, but I will definitely start to appreciate him more every time he steps on the field in 2017. At the very least, that's what he deserves from all of us if this is indeed his last season to play in the NFL.

Do you think Father Time has caught up with Jason Witten?

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

  • Travis Diggs

    If father time has caught up to Jason Witten then what does that say about the other te’s on our roster If the other Te’s on this roster can’t out play the old man Then we gotta problem on our hands at the position. He might have to play out the whole extension unfortunately because of the lack of TE production outside of him. I hope not

    • Brian Martin

      Travis, I wouldn’t be surprised if they drafted another TE. I don’t think they have a starting caliber TE on the roster, with the exception of Jason Witten.

  • Travis Diggs

    I hope so I been looking at Evan Engram He would be a match up nightmare in our offense

    • Brian Martin

      Engram would be a matchup nightmare in the passing game, but he doesn’t offer anything in the running game with his blocking. I don’t think is a fit in Dallas

  • Stishar

    I feel vindicated by your column as to his blocking ability last year. Hof er for sure, but there is a definite decline due to his age.

    • Brian Martin

      Jason Witten has lost a step, but he still playing at a pretty high level. I’m just hoping that he doesn’t start declining rapidly as a player.

  • Randy Martin

    Yeah I was encouraged to see the extension but in reality I know it was just to free up some cap space. Like you, Witten is one of my all-time favorite players and will miss him. I am very anxious to see how Gathers looks in camp and pre-season. I also thought Swaim was beginning to show us something before he went down last year. I think we will draft a TE at some point but I don’t feel it is paramount this season. I love Engram as well but he is not, at all, the kind of TE we would be looking for. I can see them drafting Butt in the 3rd or so but I saw recent word that he thinks he will be ready in camp. All bets would be off at that point and he could move back into the 1st round.

    • Brian Martin

      I’m also interested to see how Gathers looks, but I get the feeling he still has a ways to go. Swaim was definitely good backup but I don’t think he is a starter. The Cowboys have bodies for the position, but I don’t think Jason Witten’s successor is on the roster. I think if there is a good TE available that is the BPA, they should draft him.

  • Charles

    Hopefully our future TE’s are already on the roster. Swaim has looked good at times and Rico has the size to be a beast in the passing game as well as mowing down opposing players in the running game.

    • Brian Martin

      I really think that Swaim is a really good #2 TE, but I don’t know if he could handle the responsibilities as a starter. And I think Gathers needs more time to develop and learn the game. He could be used in certain situations, but I think he still has a ways to go until he’s ready to be relied upon.

  • dallas1966

    Rico to the rescue. I too notice a decline in witten play, in 2014, when everytime he caught the football, there was no yac. In addition, the seam routes seem to disappear, as well. With Rico, you have the threat of the deep seem route, and blocking off the edge. Remember Rico was killing it, during practice squad practice, last year. I think he is ready, training camp will be the key. Can you imagine Dez, Williams, Beasley and Rico as Dak’s weapons, along with Zeke, out of the backfield.

    The return to the glory days, yes sir!!

    • Brian Martin

      I really hope Gathers is ready to contribute, but I just don’t see it happening. I hope I’m wrong, but I think he probably needs another year to develop and learn the game. He could definitely be used in certain situations, but I just don’t think he’s ready to be a regular contributor.

Star Blog

Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Brian Martin



Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Since becoming the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Rod Marinelli hasn't had too many of his former players follow him to Dallas. In fact, I can only think of one… Henry Melton, and we all know how that turned out.

I don't know about you, but I found that a little strange. It's pretty common for coaches to try to bring some of their players with them when they accept a new job. Familiarity goes a long way in the NFL and former players can also help make the transition easier for everyone.

Strangely enough, Rod Marinelli hasn't really been afforded that luxury, whether it was his doing or not. But, there is a free agent who played under Marinelli's tutelage in Chicago who might make sense for the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Shea McClellin.

Rod Marinelli was the defensive coordinator in Chicago when the Bears decided to draft Shea McClellin 19th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Marinelli likely had a big say in that decision, and if he still feels the same, a reunion could be in order.

Shea McClellin started his career in the NFL as a 4-3 left side defensive end playing opposite Julius Peppers, but was also viewed as a potential Brian Urlacher replacement. He showed flashes of becoming a solid defensive end his first few years in the league, but was eventually moved to linebacker, where he seemed to find a home for himself.

Shea McClellin

New England Patriots LB Shea McClellin

After his contract expired with the Bears, the New England Patriots decided to bring him aboard to help with their linebacker depth. He only ended up starting four games for them in 2016, but made some memorable plays to help the Patriots become the Super Bowl champions.

Unfortunately, the 2017 season wasn't very kind to him. His entire year was wiped out due to a concussion, which probably had a lot to do with why they recently released him.

This of course could be good news for the Dallas Cowboys. They currently need some depth at the linebacker position and Shea McClellin could provide that, if he's healthy. The healthy bit here is key, because he has had problems with concussions in the past.

If McClellin is indeed healthy, he could bring a versatile skill set to the Cowboys defense. His best spot is probably at strong side LB (SAM), but I think he could play middle linebacker (MIKE) as well. He also could provide depth at defensive end, the position he played to start his NFL career.

With the LB depth a concern, Shea McClellin makes quite a bit of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, his past history with concussions is a red flag, but it also drives down his asking price. I think he would definitely fall into that "bargain shopping" mentality the Cowboys have been using these last few offseasons.

He probably wouldn't be viewed as a very important signing, but you still need these types of players on your team in order to succeed in the NFL. Let's see if the Dallas Cowboys agree.

Do you think a Rod Marinelli and Shea McClellin reunion is in order?

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Star Blog

Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys

Jess Haynie



Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys

Now that he's signed with the Washington Redskins, cornerback Orlando Scandrick joins a lackluster list of former Cowboys players and coaches who have gone from Dallas to its historic rival. The history of these moves is ugly for Washington, going back over 40 years, and can't have their fans too excited anytime they sign an ex-Cowboy.

The most recent example was just last year with defensive tackle Terrell McClain. After a strong season as a 15-game starter in Dallas, McClain got a four-year, $21 million deal to join the Redskins. He missed four games with injuries and was only credited with two starts; hardly what the team wanted given the money they paid.

Before him it was Jason Hatcher, whose 11-sack season for the Cowboys in 2013 got him a four-year, $27.5 million deal from Washington. Hatcher would battle knee injuries for two season, getting only 7.5 sacks from 2014-2015. His early retirement in 2016 brought an abrupt end to a disappointing tenure.

Continuing the legacy of defensive linemen was Stephen Bowen, who Washington paid a shocking amount of money ($27.5 million over five years) to in 2011 to pick up in free agency. Bowen had a great first year for the Redskins with six sacks and 16 starts, but injuries would soon cost him 14 games from 2013-2014. He was eventually released after only one standout season in four with the team.

Going back even further, DT Brandon Noble joined Washington in 2003 after being a full-time starter for Dallas for over two seasons. He would miss all of 2003 with a knee injury, have an unimpressive year in 2004, and then missed all of 2005 with more health issues. He retired after being released by the Redskins in 2006.

Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys 1

Hall of Fame CB Deion Sanders

Orlando Scandrick won't be the first cornerback to go from Dallas to Washington, or the best. At age 32, Deion Sanders was released in 2000 by the Cowboys and then got a huge seven-year, $56 million deal from the Redskins. This came less than a year after Daniel Snyder bought the franchise and was desperate to get them relevant again.

The Sanders move backfired horribly. Even after a solid season by his lofty standards, Primetime was disgruntled with both the coaching staff and his increasing struggles as an aging player. He suddenly retired after just one season of the seven-year contract.

Washington also tried to tap into the Cowboys' glory days when they signed receiver Alvin Harper in 1997. Harper had left Dallas in 1995 and spent two years with Tampa Bay, but had not carried over the same success he enjoyed playing in the Dallas offense.

The Redskins hoped that reuniting him with Norv Turner, who had been Harper's offensive coordinator and was now their head coach, would help Alvin get back to form. But between ongoing injuries and the absence of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith as teammates, Alvin Harper was never the same guy as when he won two Super Bowls in Dallas.

The failed poaching attempts go back many more decades, another one being running back Calvin Hill. The fourth-leading rusher in Cowboys history and a four-time Pro Bowler while in Dallas, Hill joined Washington in 1976. He served as a backup only, averaging only 3.8 yards-per-carry as he played behind the likes of Mike Thomas and John Riggins.

Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys 2

Norv Turner also couldn't bring his Cowboys success to Washington. (Brian Bahr/Allsport)

The bad history doesn't stop with players. The aforementioned Norv Turner, who was one of the hottest assistant coaches in history after the Cowboys first two Super Bowl wins in the 90s, was hired as the Redskins' head coach in 1994.

Turner's run started with a whimper, drafting quarterback Heath Shuler third overall in that first year. Shuler would go down as one of the biggest QB busts in NFL history

Norv's Redskins never seemed to recover from that blunder. He only had two winning seasons and one playoff appearance from 1994-1999, and was fired midway through the 2000 season.

Far more recently, Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan left the team in 2015 and took the same job in Washington. He didn't get to bring the offensive line or DeMarco Murray with him, though. As such, the Redskins have remained one of the league's worst rushing teams for the last three seasons. They fell to a new low of 28th in the NFL in 2017.

~ ~ ~

Of course, none of this means that Orlando Scandrick won't have success in Washington. But with the Redskins generally the most mismanaged team in the NFC East, all of the Dallas players and coaches who've gone there have not walked into good situations. For all that Cowboys fans love to complain about Jerry Jones, he handles the owner and GM roles better than any pair Washington's had in almost 30 years.

Given the nature of the rivalries, we naturally can't wish success for Scandrick or anyone else who leaves Dallas for a division opponent. With the track record we just discussed for Washington, it's not something I'll be losing any sleep over.

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Star Blog

Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?

Brian Martin



Cowboys Have Their Version of Tryann Mathieu in Xavier Woods?

It's not uncommon for Dallas Cowboys fans to zero in on certain free agents in hopes that they will bring their talents to America's Team. In fact, just about any "big name" player to hit the open market is often linked to the Cowboys in some way or another. That was the case when the Arizona Cardinals decided to move on from Tyrann Mathieu.

Once Tyrann Mathieu became available, Cowboys fans immediately wanted to see him with a star on his helmet. But, despite the fans petitioning, the Cowboys brass seemed to show almost zero interest in the former Cardinal.

The decision to not pursue Tyrann Mathieu certainly didn't sit well with a lot of Cowboys Nation, but I think it was the right decision.

Despite Mathieu's perceived talents and youth (he's just 25), the Cowboys weren't interested in paying the price to bring him to Dallas, especially since they already have a similar player on their roster.

Xavier Woods

Dallas Cowboys DB Xavier Woods

It may sound crazy, but I think the real reason the Dallas Cowboys didn't show much interest in Tyrann Mathieu is because of Xavier Woods.

I honestly believe Xavier Woods and Tyrann Mathieu have a similar skill set. Both players are little undersized to be a full-time safety in the NFL, but each of them have the versatility to play several different roles in the secondary.

Mathieu may have been listed as a safety on the Arizona Cardinals roster, and now the Houston Texans, but the truth is he played mostly out of the nickel/slot in his professional and collegiate career. That is where he is at his best, and the same can be said about Xavier Woods.

As a rookie, Xavier Woods showed his versatility with the Dallas Cowboys by playing a variety of different roles in the secondary. His versatility was one of the reasons the Cowboys decided to trade up in last year's draft to acquire his services.

His name might not carry the same kind of weight as Tyrann Mathieu right now around the league or amongst NFL fans, but I don't think Xavier Woods is that much of a drop off talent wise.

Xavier Woods

Dallas Cowboys DB Xavier Woods (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Personally, I believe Mathieu is starting to decline a little as a player. I think injuries are starting to take a toll on his play, although it may be minimal. I actually prefer Xavier Woods' upside, especially when you take into account the difference in salaries between the two.

Surprisingly enough, Xavier Woods might just have been more productive in 2017 then Mathieu. Woods started just four games and finished the season with 42 tackles, three passes defensed, and one interception. Mathieu on the other hand started all 16 games and accumulated 78 tackles, one quarterback sack, one forced fumble, and two interceptions.

As you can see, Xavier Woods was almost just as productive as Mathieu in nearly a third of the playing time. What's even more impressive about this is that Woods accomplish this as a rookie.

Of course, all of this is speculation, but I for one am not all that upset the Dallas Cowboys missed out on Tyrann Mathieu. I'm willing to bet on Xavier Woods being able to do everything Mathieu can and at a fraction of the cost.

Were the Cowboys right not to pursue Tyrann Mathieu?

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