Last week, Stephen Jones addressed the media for the first time this offseason. He talked about the (then) upcoming NFL Combine, the NFL Draft, Free Agency, and the current coaching staff. He talked about where he thinks the Cowboys need to do to improve in certain areas this Spring, and where they believe their assets will be best allocated.
Hie entire press conference can really be summed up by one phrase, however. One which he used time and time again during that 20 minute media availability.
"Take the next step."
For a Dallas Cowboys franchise which has not reached an NFC Title game in over 20 years, the "next step" has been elusive. Finishing out 3 of their last 5 seasons with divisional round losses, and the other 2 without even reaching the postseason, "taking the next step" has been more of a pipe dream than a reality for the Cowboys as of late.
In 2018, even as they battled down the stretch to win the division and then a home playoff game, it never really felt like they were close. Did it?
Maybe there's some hindsight in that observation, as we now know that CJ Anderson would embarrass the Cowboys front seven for four quarters, and the Cowboys would find themselves eliminated on the road at Los Angeles on that Saturday night.
But, regardless, it felt like a longshot the Cowboys could go into either Los Angeles or New Orleans and win in January.
Let's forget feelings, though, and focus on facts. As the Cowboys enter free agency in the coming weeks, and have six lottery tickets in the upcoming NFL Draft, every move is supposedly focused on one goal: taking the next step. In other words the end goal is getting to and winning an NFC title game and finding themselves back in the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1995 season.
By all reports the first order of business is to take care of their own. They've already brought back longtime tight end Jason Witten, and now plan to pay Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and DeMarcus Lawrence. Amari Cooper and Byron Jones are also on that list, but by the sound of things, Lawrence/Prescott/Elliott are the three main priorities.
Paying a running back elite offensive-playmaker money is a dangerous game to play, as is paying a quarterback due to their ever-increasing market value. But the Cowboys really have no other choice. These are their guys. They're the leaders, and will be sticking around the Cowboys for the foreseeable future.
But if the Cowboys are going to, for the most part, run it back and keep the status quo on their roster, how close are they really to that next step?
As good as their defense was in 2018, and as young as they still are, defensive performance is incredibly volatile. As we all saw with Jacksonville last season, team defense varies greatly from year-to-year and isn't something you can normally bank on going into the season. The most consistent winners in the league can throw the football to win games. Can the Cowboys as currently constructed rely on their passing game at that rate? It's a fair question to ask, but as an optimist there are certainly factors which point towards the answer trending towards yes.
But now, with the drama surrounding DeMarcus Lawrence and the franchise tag, there's even more reason to question what the front office plans on doing this offseason. Dallas wants to bargain shop. They want to improve their roster but to only do it on their terms. With the new age star in the NFL taking the lead from the NBA and realizing the power they have in these negotiations, this plan likely won't work the same as it has in the past.
The Cowboys need to be smart this offseason. Pay Lawrence what he deserves. Don't penny push when it comes to the leaders and best players on your football team. Other free agents will notice, and they will exercise their power accordingly.
And if Dallas is serious about wanting to take that next step, getting Lawrence signed should be of the utmost importance.
Cowboys en Español: La Afortunada Llegada de Randall Cobb
Tras la partida del veterano Cole Beasley, los Dallas Cowboys tenían un hueco preocupante en la posición de receptor abierto. Incluso después de obtener a Amari Cooper la temporada pasada y el tener a un jugador joven y talentoso en Michael Gallup, el equipo tenía que hacer algo para reemplazar a Beasley como el receptor de slot en la ofensiva. Beasley fue increíble en su trabajo durante su carrera en Dallas, pero la administración nunca estuvo cerca de igualar las ofertas que recibió de los Buffalo Bills. Afortunadamente, ya encontraron el hombre para el trabajo.
A pesar de estar muy callados en la primera semana de agencia libre, los Cowboys empiezan a verse involucrados con varios jugadores disponibles. Su contratación más importante hasta el momento es sin duda la del ex WR de los Green Bay Packers, Randall Cobb.
Hace unos años, Cobb atrapó el balón que terminó el partido de playoffs entre los Packers y los Cowboys minutos después de que la recepción de Dez Bryant fuera revocada. En 2019, vestirá la estrella.
Si bien es difícil argumentar que en este momento Cobb es mejor jugador que Cole Beasley, el contrato que la administración le dio al nuevo integrante del equipo es muy razonable. El ex-Packer jugará bajo un contrato por un año y cinco millones de dólares. Lo que preocupa a muchos sobre Cobb es su salud, ya que en 2018 sólo jugó nueve partidos. Sin embargo, su carrera no ha estado plagada de lesiones como muchos lo asumen.
Cobb será un titular en esta ofensiva que utilizará su habilidad para ganar en rutas rápidas. Sus manos son muy confiables y le dará a Dak Prescott otra arma en el juego aéreo. Simple y sencillamente una muy buena contratación de los Dallas Cowboys.
¿Robert Quinn, Por Favor?
Esta semana se reportó que el defensive end Robert Quinn estaba de visita en The Star, las instalaciones de los Dallas Cowboys. El DE no es un agente libre, siendo que aún está bajo contrato con los Miami Dolphins. Sin embargo, ambos equipos están en discusiones para llevar a cabo un trade por el caza cabezas de 28 años.
Después de que Randy Gregory volviera a recibir una suspensión, DE apareció entra las necesidades más urgentes del equipo y si no logran atender dicha necesidad previo al NFL Draft, tendrán que utilizar uno de sus primeros picks para conseguir un jugador que juegue opuesto a DeMarcus Lawrence.
Quinn, quien había jugado la mayoría de su carrera con los Rams, aún es joven y productivo. En las últimas dos temporadas ha logrado conseguir 15 sacks. De conseguirlo, los Cowboys tendrían que trabajar en una extensión para él.
Con un año en su contrato actual, no debe de ser muy caro conseguir un trade por él. Me atrevería a decir que la compensación que los Dolphins buscan por Quinn debe de estar en el rango de una selección cuarta y quinta ronda.
Parece un movimiento probable, pero no es difícil imaginar a otro equipo estando interesado en el jugador. Por lo pronto, sabemos que Quinn disfrutó su tiempo con Rod Marinelli y con el equipo de los Cowboys esta semana. Habrá que esperar para saber su destino.
DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line
The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.
The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.
After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.
So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.
What exactly is that role, though?
I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.
Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.
Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.
If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.
This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.
New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF
On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.
Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.
In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.
This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb
Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.
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