I have a good feeling about this year!... We are going all the way!... We're looking good with everything we did in the off season!... This year is different! These are things that every NFL fan says about their favorite team. Of course, there are an exception to that rule with a few teams that never seem to enjoy real success. Let me tell you why I am feeling good about the Dallas Cowboys in the upcoming 2010 season...competition.
Jerry has adopted a way of handling this team that has been a rule of previous successors of the Dallas Cowboys. For perfect example, take Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson. These two leaders, of grown men, knew how to motivate their team while remaining loyal and making this a business. Just like how any other business is ran, if you don't do your job there will be somebody that is more than willing to take your position. If it means to get on a professional football team... then that is a definite! But to play for America's Team!... the Dallas Cowboys, comes a real sense of honor. To know what has been a symbol of a successful sports franchise for years is what has become every player (who takes their craft seriously) dreams come true. Even if you have rooted for another team your entire childhood, to play for the silver and blue really means something.
Competition should always bring the best out of us. Competition doesn't necessarily mean cutting the throat of the man, behind you or, in front of you in order to get ahead. It means everyday showing up with your 'A-Game'. Despite how you feel that day or what's going on in your life, you know how to get the best out of yourself in whatever you do. That also means getting the best out of yourself with the people that you work with...you push each other. Lots of times you end up rooting for that person that you are also competing against. Mainly for the love and dedication that you have for each other...and in this case, that star.
I love the way that Jerry and Wade handle this team after handfuls of follies Jerry had dealt over the years. Dishing out millions of dollars for big time players that just don't seem to mount up to high standards when their pockets get really full. Perfect example of this has been Terrell Owens. Money doesn't always talk, but B.S. definitely walked. A lot has been learned from the few short years that T.O. has given to this organization. T.O. got paid big money and felt like he needed to prove himself, so he played at the top of his game. He had that motivation, that sense to prove himself, that fire under his rear. Once he got paid again and knew that he was "set" to be a Dallas Cowboy for life, his true colors spilt out.
Now for the subject of Roy Williams, that is something that I just don't feel like touching right now...I believe I have already said enough.
To get to my point...we need to have depth at all positions and we have it this year. We have veterans competing with veterans; rookies drooling over the chance to learn from a vets and possibly take over a vets spot; and rookies needing to prove themselves with all the talk that has surrounded them.
There are some exceptions to the rule this year. Tony Romo has proven himself this year as a true elite QB. Now that we have a 'QB friendly' system, he has shown himself to know how to be the leader and to successfully march the team down the field. Demarcus Ware has proven himself to be a constant elite player on defense. After starting off slow last season, he came through strong in the end and remained a definite force. But, it is always nice to have that guy behind him wanting to get in and show what he's got. To show that he's got the stuff it takes. That's what makes a team solid. To know that when Ware comes out of the game that there will be a Jason Williams, Victor Butler, Stephen Hodges, or Brandon Williams waiting behind for their chances to contribute to the team. The competition is what makes the Dallas Cowboys a whole, to function to it's max potential.
Sean Lee will be on the backs of the feet of Brady James and Keith Brooking this year. Not saying that either one of these veteran starters will be replaced, but Sean Lee will be there to learn and to show that he can play at that level. I am particularly happy with our Wide Receiving corp this year! Our original starter will be Miles Austin and Roy Williams. There will be plenty of competition for both of these starter to make sure to always bring their 'A-Game'. We have Kevin Ogletree who wants to prove that he can handle more snaps this year after his successful rookie showing. Manny Johnson and Jesse Holley feel like they could replace either Patrick Crayton and/or Sam Hurd for a slot on that bottom of that roster. Let's not forget our favorite topic of the year...our first round draft pick. Along with everything I mentioned with our Receiving corp....we can throw Dez Bryant right into the mix of everything.
As for Defense, I already mentioned how our Linebackers will be full to the rim with guys wanting to get in and show their stuff. Some already have and will be sure to always show why they are the newly developed starter (e.g. Anthony Spencer). Now we have competition in the secondary position, with not just the safety position, but also the cornerback position. Just when Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins, and Orlando Scandrick start feeling comfortable at the spots the earned last year...Along comes Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, and Jamar Wall. AOA can play safety and corner, and if he can make the special teams squad he could surely look to be a quality back up and future starter. Alan Ball and Mike Hamlin are looking to be the main competitors for is looking like the Free Safety starting position, but you never know if any of these young cornerbacks could handle that position. You know how Wade likes having guys on his team who can play more than one position. Now with Gerald Sensabaugh looking like he's not going to play unless he has a contract before the season starts, that just gives other "hungrier" players a chance to show themselves on the pro football stage. Then we have our Offensive Line who now has made the Doug Free situation a little bit lighter. With the addition of Alex Barron(in the Bobby Carpenter trade to the Rams), this years sixth round pick Sam Young ,and now, last years third rounder Robert Brewster is getting healthier from a torn pec before the season began last year. Free will need to show why Tony Sparano felt highly about this young prospect. Jason Hatcher and Stephen Bowen will be competing with Marcus Spears for Defensive End time. I think everyone is getting my point here!
Now there are good ways to handle adversity with competition. Take Marcus Spears who sees that he is getting under paid but is still willing to go out there and to do whatever he can to progress and to make this team better.
There are bad ways to handle adversity with competition. Take Gerald Sensabaugh, whom won't play this year unless he has a contract (longer than one year). Patrick Crayton, who isn't showing up to OTA's, which is allowing these other WR's to go out and strut their stuff.
All in all everybody is in it for the team effort...if their not then they are shown the easiest exit out of the Ranch.
We need to keep our players hungry!...that's exactly what Jimmy Johnson did with the Cowboys in the early 90's..he kept them wanting more. He made sure that he found talent and that the talent worked hard. Their reward?...wins..."W"s...a championship...many championships! Even spotlight time for their personal achievements. No matter if you just played Special Teams( e.g. Kenneth "The Shark" Grant and Bill Bates). Who can beat that?
Tom Landry did that with his players, with Craig Morton and Roger Staubach sharing time at QB..some times each coming out every other play. Or Preston Pearson with Tony Dorsett. After a while Pearson, knew that he just needed to become a role player and let the young star rookie take the lead. Meanwhile, Pearson gave a whole 'nother depth to that '77 championship team.
I could go on and on. I could talk about the Running Back situation, on who should start and who should be our third down back, etc. Jason Witten has Martellus Bennett and John Phillips, to have him staying ahead of the game. Even the kicker Dave Buehler can't just walk in and assume the starting roll as kicking field goals. Practically, every position has someone who could came in from behind and take over the starting roll...that's what makes us special.
Now you could be reading this and think, "What about Romo, Ratliff, Witten or Ware?Haven't these guys already proven themselves at a, sometimes, All-Pro level??...don't these guys have a solid spot?" Well, of course, they do! They achieved it in their own way, by showing up every day to lead this team. Look at Aikman, Irvin, and Emmitt...they had solid spots, because they carried the team. I would love to say that there are solid spots on this team, but you never know...? I don't see any rings on Wade's Dallas Cowboys....just yet! Let 'em duke it out with each other in the hot weather this offseason....then duke it out with the rest of the NFL to show everyone what they are made of, and what their teammates have pushed each other to become...future Super Bowl Champions!
Could Cowboys Take Another 2nd Round Risk On DT Jeffery Simmons?
The Dallas Cowboys have taken a few risks when on the clock in the second round of the NFL Draft in recent years. Randy Gregory and Jaylon Smith, both important starters on defense, were drafted to the Cowboys after they went down on many teams' draft boards. In 2019, they'll have the opportunity to take yet another risk. Recently, one of the best defensive tackles in this year's class, Jeffery Simmons, suffered a torn ACL while going through a drill during his workout in Florida.
Simmons took to Twitter to share the unfortunate news that will drastically affect his draft stock only a couple of months before the Draft.
Before the injury, Jeffery Simmons was seen as a top draft prospect. Some even envisioned him being drafted in the top 10. As a 21-year old defensive tackle from Mississippi State, Simmons had an impressive career during his time in college football. In three seasons he managed to rack up 157 tackles and seven sacks.
If one thing is clear it's that the Mississippi State product will be an impact player when he gets on the field on Sundays. His quick reaction on the get-off will still interest a lot of teams despite his injury. A sound defender on the running and passing game, he'll pay big dividends for whichever team decides to pull the trigger on him come April.
Due to their recent second round draft history, I can't help but wonder if the Dallas Cowboys will consider him when they're on the clock in the second round. This year though, there will be a big difference. Pick #58 will be the first time the Cowboys will be on the clock in this year's draft after trading away their first rounder for Amari Cooper last year.
It will be tough for them to wait until the third round to pick a player they could actually put on the field for the 2019 season. Specially considering the fact that they're a football team with title aspirations this year. Despite their history and the fact that Simmons will be one hell of a pro, I believe the team will not want to make such a pick in the second without a first round selection.
The team has a big need at DT, although Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins were very serviceable in 2018. We'll see how tempted they are if Jeffery Simmons is still on the board when they're on the clock.
Cowboys Draft: Film Notes on Maryland Safety Darnell Savage Jr.
The Dallas Cowboys defense was one of the better units throughout the season, but it wasn't without its flaws. An area where they struggled was in creating turnovers and at times against the run. As good as they were in 2018, they have positions where they can use upgrades; defensive tackle and safety. Xavier Woods showed a lot of promise in his second season with the Dallas Cowboys and should continue to be a prominent player moving forward, but Jeff Heath's full-time role may have run its course. Today we're going to look at Darnell Savage Jr, safety from Maryland.
Per College Football Reference, Darnell Savage Jr. stands at 5-11 and weighs in right at 200 pounds. In his last three years at Maryland he played in 35 games. He averaged 56.67 tackles, 2.67 interceptions (3.5 per season over his last two seasons and four in his senior season), and three tackles for loss over his final three seasons. He had eight pass deflections as a junior and two more as a senior.
Savage could be a player that's in play for the Dallas Cowboys at number 58 of the second round.
I watched the Texas and Temple Games from 2018.
Darnell Savage Jr. Film Notes
- Maryland lined him up in two-deep cover two looks a lot and dropped him into different coverages. From his two-deep alignment, he would move into cover-3, cover-4, and man coverages.
- Temple or Texas looked to avoid him as part of their game plans. The one time the either Texas or Temple through his way, he came down from his 2-deep look into man coverage and jumped a five yard out route and intercepted the pass, taking it to the end zone for a touchdown.
- He's excellent in diagnosing bubbles screens and swing passes. On several occasions he met the ball carrier five yards behind the line of scrimmage and dropped him for a loss.
- Savage wraps up in the open field against. Once he diagnoses the play, he gets moving toward the ball in a flash.
- Willing to take on bigger blockers and receivers with the ball in their hands. Stymied the 6-4 225 pound Lil' Jordan Humphrey from Texas on a bubble screen after Humphrey had broken one tackle. Savage wrapped him up and brought him to the ground.
- Temple attempted to run a reverse after the hand off and Savage came all the way from across the field to meet the runner for a six yard loss.
- Plays with excellent speed and aggressiveness when he sees the play. Sometimes Savage gets caught watching the action on his side of the field and doesn't recognize what is happening in the middle or opposite side of the field.
- Several times on the read-option, it appeared that he didn't recognize that the QB had given the ball away. It could be that he was schemed to take the quarterback, but one time the runner went against the grain to Savage's side of the field and he was unable to get to him before he scored a short touchdown.
- Maryland had Savage cover tight ends and wide receivers and again, Temple and Texas didn't throw his way much at all.
- Again, in a two-deep safety look came up from 10 yards deep to make a play on a toss to the running back and tackled him for a four yard loss. It's dangerous to run things to the perimeter with this guy. If he gets to the line of scrimmage unblocked, he's bringing you down.
- When blocked on runs to the perimeter, he does a good job of stringing the play to the outside. Savage works his blocker and doesn't give up on the play. He fights to get unblocked in order to make a play.
- When a team runs play action or hands the ball off out of shotgun or pistol formations, Savage is slower to react and diagnose the play. He'll need to get quicker in processing what's happening there at the next level.
- One of the more impressive plays I saw him make was on a trick play. Temple attempted to run a wide receiver pass to the outside. Everyone bought the wide receiver reverse and even Savage did too, but was able to use his quickness and speed to make up five yards of separation that the Temple receiver had on him to be in good coverage. The Temple receiver wasn't able to come down with the catch and Savage's coverage affected that.
Darnell Savage Jr. doesn't have a ton of height, but he's an explosive player who can play down in the box and in two deep looks for the Cowboys. He's a guy that would pair well with Xavier Woods as you could use those two interchangeably depending on the matchup you face week-to-week. He's an aggressive player who uses his speed to get into the play and cause disruption. Savage could be around for the Dallas Cowboys at 58 and if they don't sign one of the big name free agent safeties, should be the selection. If he isn't a day one starter, he'd be starting by the end of the season.
Pre-Combine Position Rankings: Sorting Out The Tight Ends
It's pretty much universally agreed that the Dallas Cowboys have a need for a starting tight end, particularly one who can stretch the field as a receiving threat.
Despite not having a first round pick, this class should give the Cowboys an opportunity to add tight end talent to their roster through the NFL Draft.
Will that be TE1 talent, though? Or will it just be another replacement-level tight end on a roster which already seems full of them?
Let's get into my top 5 tight ends of this 2019 class, and see what they could potentially bring to the Cowboys this season and beyond.
1. TJ Hockenson, Iowa
The clear TE1 in this class is TJ Hockenson. The 2018 John Mackey Award winner earned his way to the top of this list with his versatility, lining up in-line and as a slot receiver for Iowa during his college career.
At 6'5" 243 pounds, Hockenson looks like he was made in a tight-end producing lab, and he has the athleticism and ability to maximize his build.
In the run game TJ Hockenson is a good blocker, showcasing excellent effort and competitiveness through his blocks. A technical route runner with good hands, a plus-catch radius, and legitimate yards-after-catch ability, Hockenson has a chance to be the very first offensive skill player off the board this Spring.
2. Noah Fant, Iowa
Hockenson's teammate at Iowa, Noah Fant, comes in at number two on my tight end rankings. While Hockenson is the more well-rounded of the two players, Fant certainly has more athletic upside. I expect him to test better than Hockenson will at the combine, and has the receiving skills to be a real threat at the next level.
Noah Fant fits the bill for a modern NFL tight end, flexing out wide and threatening defenses vertically with his receiving ability. A long player with good route running ability and speed, Fant is able to create separation against defensive backs in a variety of ways.
Fant is far from a one-trick pony, and would be an excellent addition to a Cowboys offense which is yearning for this type of flex-threat from the tight end position.
Unfortunately, he won't last anywhere near 58th overall.
3. Irv Smith Jr., Alabama
Can I interest you in a tight end who averaged 16.3 yards per catch and scored 7 touchdowns last season? If so, meet Alabama's Irv Smith Jr.
Smith is the number three tight end on my board entering the combine, and I really don't expect him to drop whatsoever in the coming months. Smith is an athletic player who runs good routes and offers excellent run blocking ability. He's not as refined as Hockenson nor as athletic/explosive as Fant, but he combines the in-line and flex abilities of the two to a certain extent.
Smith is the first somewhat-plausible target for the Cowboys on this list, though I'd still be surprised if he lasted until 58th overall.
4. Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M
Jace Sternberger came out of nowhere last season at Texas A&M. Relatively unknown before the 2018 season, Sternberger finished the year with 800+ yards and 10 touchdowns on 48 catches, and earned All-American honors for his production.
Now he has a chance to be a second round pick in the 2019 draft, and is finding himself mocked to the Cowboys by many major draft media outlets. Sternberger fits the prototype of the modern receiving tight end, with better speed and hands than most others in his class. Though he is still raw in many areas, his upside is intriguing, and there's no doubt he's a pretty good player as is.
Like the first three, it's hard to imagine I will move Sternbeger any lower than fourth in this class, and he is a legitimate option for the Cowboys 58th overall.
5. Isaac Nauta, Georgia
While the first four tight ends on this list will make their money with their passing game production, Georgia's Isaac Nauta looks like more of an old-school run blocker. Nauta is right up there with any tight end in this class in terms of blocking, and would be an immediate contributor to the Cowboys' run game in that area.
He's still growing in multiple areas as a receiver, however, such as his route running and yards-after-catch ability. Still, I think Nauta is much better as a receiver than his college production would suggest. He, like others in that talented Georgia offense, got lost in the shuffle a bit, and didn't get the number of targets he could have seen elsewhere.
There's a real possibility Nauta is available at 58 when the Cowboys pick, and I wouldn't be surprised if he were the pick either.
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