Over the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of communicating with the creator and author of Blogging the Boys. Our conversations have covered many subjects. Dave, Raf and the rest of the guys at Blogging the boys do an exceptional job at covering the Cowboys. When Lee and I started this blog we tried to build it in the image of BTB. We continue to learn from those guys, and they have been a great help to us.
Last week Dave and I started chatting about the Terrell Owens situation. I had originally planned on this piece being a sort of round table discussion between Dave and I, but after talking with Dave for a while, decided to just approach it as an interview.
A Cowboy Nation: Do the Cowboys need Terrell Owens to win?
Dave Halprin: That's the 9 million dollar question that we're all asking. But the reverse question is just as applicable if not more so - can the Cowboys win with Terrell Owens? So far the answer is no in the sense of post-season/Super Bowl victories. The guy is obviously a tremendous talent on the field but is there a point of diminishing returns? You see this kind of problem a lot in the NBA; super-talented players who for whatever reason end up creating a situation where they are successful but the team is not. Only when they subvert their game for the betterment of the team does it end up paying off in ultimate victory. For a while, T.O. has been a pretty good teammate by not criticizing his own team but this year you could feel his frustration mounting. If things don't go well early next year, will his frustration explode? I think the odds are that it will.
A Cowboy Nation: Is T.O. taking the heat for their collapse unjustly?
Dave Halprin: Sure he is, but because he is so vocal about things that bother him he directs the media and the fan spotlight his way. This benefits him in keeping a high-profile and gets him plenty of attention which he seems to crave, but when things go south it also puts him in the cross hairs; it cuts both ways. He is absolutely not the only one responsible for the collapse, there are plenty of players/coaches to share that blame. But his past and his constant need to be in the spotlight ends up hurting him in situations like this.
A Cowboy Nation: There has also been a rumor that Jason Garrett gave the Cowboys an ultimatum, Terrell goes or he goes! While I am still on the fence with Garrett, the thought of starting over with a new OC and a new system is not high on my list of things to do. Do you think there is any truth to this? Or was it something to sell more papers?
Dave Halprin: I think there is truth to this. Garrett's comments from today at the Senior Bowl highlights the fact that he doesn't want to work with T.O. any longer.
"I certainly have a lot of respect for him as a player," Garrett said. "And we'll just leave it at that."
Garrett is basically saying he's a great player but outside of that he's killing me. That was the most explicit, non-explicit answer he could have given. Whether Jerry Jones acts on the ultimatum or tells Garrett he'll just have to deal with it is another question all together, one none of us can answer.
A Cowboy Nation: There are a lot of people that believe the mental state of this team was more the problem than the scheme or coaching. Is it possible for this coaching staff to work through those issues and keep Terrell Owens "happy"? Or do those two things simply not go together?
Dave Halprin: It's possible in some situations but I get the feeling it's not in this one. Jason Garrett and Tony Romo obviously like Jason Witten as a main target, they will also try to emphasize the run more next year. They need to get Roy Williams more involved in the offense, too. All of that will take away from the amount of times plays are directed at Owens. I think it's a situation that would deteriorate as time goes on.
A Cowboy Nation: I am of the belief that the Cowboys have painted themselves into a corner on this Terrell Owens thing, whether they meant to or not. Whomever the anonymous source is (there seems to be several of these in Valley Ranch) has forced their hand. If they do not release him they run a very serious risk of a large T.O. explosion, I already can see another shirtless T.O. doing push ups in his driveway. Is there even a way for them to keep T.O. now without a large explosion? And if this is possible does that come at the risk of another year of Tony forcing the ball to T.O. just to try and keep him happy?
Dave Halprin: The only way for they can keep the T.O. situation from getting worse is if they manage to find a way to get him the ball regularly and not do it at the expense of having a balanced offense that can win games. If they lose games, he won't be happy and will continue to highlight his unhappiness. If they win games but he's not a major factor, he'll be less unhappy but will still probably voice his opinion that he should be involved more. If they can find a way to win and get him his numbers, things will be fine but that's the problem. For the Cowboys to be successful they need to emphasize the running game more, we have a trio of extremely talented running backs, and they will always need Witten for those clutch third downs plays. Add they need to get Roy Williams more involved, he'll be here much longer than T.O. will, making it all work will be very difficult.
Hope you all enjoyed the Interview with Dave! Make sure you all go by and see Dave and the guys.
Did a Year Away Help Rejuvenate TE Jason Witten’s Game?
Jason Witten is 37 years old, retired from the NFL after the completion of 2017 season to try his luck as an announcer in the booth, but has now decided to come out of retirement to rejoin the Dallas Cowboys? It seems a little unrealistic to think he can come back after a year away from the game and pick up where he left off, but it sounds as if he's like a Phoenix rising from the ashes.
Jason Witten has been the talk of Dallas Cowboys OTA practices so far. These practices are unpadded and basically just an opportunity to do install some of the offensive and defensive plays, but that doesn't make them any less important. One of the things that has been somewhat surprising though is how talked up the future Hall of Famer has become.
Here is what Head Coach Jason Garrett had to say recently about Jason Witten's return:
“Yeah, absolutely. He’s been excited about every part of it ever since I met him and that hasn’t changed,” coach Jason Garrett said. “The work that he’s done in the weight room in the off-season program has been outstanding. His testing numbers and all of that are what they’ve been or even better. And he just has an unbelievable way about him. Tremendous passion for the game. And he demonstrates that every day. Witt looks good. He’s excited to be back and we’re certainly fortunate to have him back.”
The main thing that stands out from Garrett's quote to me is how Jason Witten looks just as good, if not better after not playing at all in 2018. To think that his testing numbers are possibly even better is unfathomable. We typically don't see NFL players in their mid-30s retire from the game and then return just as good, or maybe even better than they were before.
Maybe that's just what Jason Witten is, a little inhuman. Maybe he's found the secret to turning the clock back just a little bit. Or, maybe he found the fountain the youth and didn't tell anybody. Regardless, there's no doubt Witten will be a welcomed addition to the Cowboys offense, especially if he's gained a step.
I don't know about all of you, but I'm hoping the year away from the game did him some good. I honestly thought he made the right decision to retire prior to the 2018 season. It just looked like father time was catching up to him in 2017. But, hopefully all he needed was a little time away from the grind he's been putting his body through for over a decade.
Whatever he's done hasn't gone unnoticed though. Even Quarterback Dak Prescott has noticed and said he's on to Witten's scheme.
“I guess the trick is to take a year off because he’s definitely gotten better, stronger and faster,” Prescott said. “He hasn’t lost a step.”
I'm not afraid to admit I wasn't too excited to see Witten come out of retirement and rejoin the Cowboys at first. I was skeptical he could be the player he once was after a year away from the game. But, all of this talk about him looking as good as he once was, perhaps better, has me really looking forward to seeing him on the field once again.
Do you think a year away has rejuvenated Jason Witten's game?
Cowboys en Español: El Verdadero Cambio en La Ofensiva
Los Dallas Cowboys tuvieron un interesante 2018. La ofensiva dejo mucho que desear toda la primera mitad de la temporada cuando carecían de un receptor número uno. No fue hasta media temporada cuando consiguieron a Amari Cooper de los Oakland Raiders, que la ofensiva comenzó a verse realmente amenazante. Siendo sinceros, el cuerpo de receptores de los Cowboys lucía muy débil al inicio y Michael Gallup aún no conseguía mucho tiempo de juego en el emparrillado. Incluso una vez en el equipo, a pesar de las grandes hazañas de Cooper en Dallas, la ofensiva no terminó de dar el siguiente paso.
Sí, con Amari en el equipo vimos un equipo de Cowboys que movía constantemente las cadenas e incluso se convirtió en una de las mejores unidades en tercera oportunidad en la liga, pero no fue suficiente. Los problemas en zona roja persistieron y continuamos viendo una selección de jugadas muy cuestionable semana tras semana.
Es por eso que al finalizar la temporada, la administración de los Cowboys finalmente tomó una decisión muy anticipada. El entonces coordinador ofensivo, Scott Linehan, fue despedido.
En cuanto a talento, los Dallas Cowboys no verán un cambio mayor en su ofensiva. Cole Beasley, uno de los mejores WR slot en la NFL, firmó con los Buffalo Bills durante la agencia libre. A pesar de la llegada de Randall Cobb, la ofensiva probablemente extrañará bastante a Beasley. Además está el regreso de Jason Witten al campo, quien se repartirá el balón mucho con los jóvenes del equipo, principalmente con Blake Jarwin. Por último, Travis Frederick podría estar de regreso como el centro titular. Fuera de eso, no se anticipan cambios de jugadores en la ofensiva.
Y a pesar de esto, la afición de los Cowboys espera ver un cambio grande entre la ofensiva del 2018 y la de 2019. Si las cosas salen bien, así será. Pero más que por el talento del equipo, que ya está ahí y es un muy buen talento, deberá ser por el hombre al mando.
Kellen Moore ha tomado las riendas como el nuevo coordinador ofensivo y finalmente podremos ver su potencial. Muchos han criticado a Moore, en gran parte por nunca haber sido un quarterback exitoso en la NFL. Sin embargo, hay muchas razones por las cuales deberíamos estar emocionados.
Desde que Moore salió de la universidad de Boise State, se le veía como un prospecto muy inteligente. Incluso analistas como Jon Gruden (en ese entonces conductor del programa de ESPN Gruden's QB Camp) mencionaban que Moore probablemente no sería un gran mariscal, pero que tenía la mente de un coach.
En Boise, Moore trabajaba con la ofensiva del actual coach de los Washington Huskies, Chris Petersen. Esta ofensiva es una muy complicada que le exige al mariscal saber casi tanto como un jugador profesional. Muchos han descrito a Moore como un genio ofensivo que será un gran coach en el futuro.
Para los Cowboys, Kellen Moore será una pieza clave en 2019. Si vemos una ofensiva realmente diferente, será gracias a su creatividad y filosofía que implementa a un grupo bastante talentoso en Dallas. Los jugadores están ahí, ¿sabrá el coordinador ofensivo de 30 años aprovecharlos?
NFL to Study Marijuana Use, Will It Impact Randy Gregory’s Status?
The NFLPA and the NFL have reached an agreement to research alternative pain-management tools for the players. They'll form joint medical committees to study different strategies, among which will be the use of marijuana. It's important to make it clear that said committees will not be exclusively about marijuana, but a lot of different issues related to pain-management in the league. However, it'll likely be one of the most important aspects of their work.
Marijuana continues to be a highly debated topic and it's no different when discussing the NFL. Dallas Cowboys fans should be very familiar with the situation. Earlier this year, David Irving "quit" on football during an Instagram live stream while smoking weed. In the video, Irving talks about how he thinks it's better to be addicted to marijuana rather than certain medications used by NFL teams to treat their players.
Although David Irving is not an authority on substances, that is where all of this debate centers around. Throughout the league, players are given strong medication to deal with injuries and the physical pain of playing pro football. I'm not an expert either, but it's more than fair to say there's a strong argument here. Specially in a country where marijuana has already been legalized in 10 states and the trend points toward legalization continuing.
The current CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) between the NFL and NFLPA will expire after the 2020 season and how the league's drug policy looks like in the new agreement will be a huge factor for reaching a satisfactory CBA for both sides.
Of course, the fact that the NFLPA and the league are working together on such an important task doesn't mean we will see any immediate changes or that the NFL's ban on marijuana will be lifted anytime soon. Many big question marks will have to be answered before we hear about teams implementing this substance as a pain management tool.
For the Dallas Cowboys, this will be a relevant narrative down the line. Pass rusher Randy Gregory was reinstated after serving an indefinite suspension due to substance abuse prior to the 2018 season. After a dominant year, Gregory was suspended again by the NFL and it all points toward him sitting out this upcoming season and perhaps even more.
Even still, the Cowboys are still standing behind their 2015 second round pick. If the league ends up lifting its ban on marijuana, they'll have to decide what they will do with players already serving a suspension for this reason. Guys like Randy Gregory, for instance. If it's decided they'll be reinstated to the NFL, the Cowboys will sure be glad to have supported Gregory all throughout the process.
Last year, the pass rusher proved how effective he could be even with a short period of time training. Hopefully, the Cowboys are able to get him back on the field eventually, where's been consistently dominant. In the meantime, we'll see how recently acquired Robert Quinn does in Dallas.
The NFL won't be lifting its ban anytime soon, but it's good to know they're at least open minded to changing the league's policy and consider alternatives that could benefit the players' health. We'll see how these new medical committees work and keep you updated here at Inside The Star.
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