The Dallas Cowboys host a playoff game in 11 days, and I'm here to talk about Emmett Cleary.
In all seriousness, teams are constantly evaluating their rosters, particularly the Cowboys when it comes to their star-studded offensive line.
With so much invested into starters like Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin, the Cowboys need outstanding value to fill out the depth on this line in order to ensure they'll sustain their dominance for as long as possible.
Particularly, the Dallas Cowboys are pretty thin at offensive tackle. Tyron Smith might be the best player in football (I'm here to defend this take, @ShoreSportsNJ if you want), but Doug Free is an aging player at right tackle. Chaz Green has seen time at tackle for Smith, but his long-term role as a backup/future starter at RT is in jeopardy thanks to his latest season-ending injury.
Enter Emmett Cleary, Who was signed by the Cowboys in September after La'el Collins' injury. In the last two Cowboys' regular season games, Cleary has gotten reps at left tackle - and has made the most of them.
Cleary has NFL experience with multiple teams, so it shouldn't be a complete surprise that he was able to fill in well on these "meaningless" snaps. On his sixth team since 2013, Cleary is not only now a member of the best team in the league, but has a chance to make his future in Dallas as well.
Sure, the backup or swing tackle position could be upgraded a million different ways, and retaining Emmett Cleary is hardly the "sexiest" way to make this upgrade, but his film from the past two weeks speaks for itself.
Cleary does recover very well when beat off the snap, has strong hands - more importantly gets to defenders hands to negate rush/steer DE. https://t.co/Dxgi6Fxpaq
When I went to study Cleary against the Eagles, I jumped right to the most important snaps he's ever seen in his life. Protecting Tony Romo's blind side, Cleary looked very good - as he did throughout the entirety of the afternoon.
What stood out to me was Cleary's intelligence at the position, knowing how to set up defenders when he was forced to compensate for a lack of physical skill. As a point of attack blocker, Cleary controls his blockers with a strong base and can move them off the line of scrimmage.
Cleary may not get a massive push back in these situations, but his rusher is rarely involved in the play - which is all you can ask for. When he is beat off the ball like in the clip above, Cleary shows a real knack for recovering by locating the rushers' hands and swiping them to eventually re-control the blocker.
As he does in the clip above, once Cleary knocks a defender off-balance, he is able to squarely block them using his own power and balance, even once they've turned the corner to give him a smaller target to work with.
I don't need to draft a tackle in the first 4 rounds anymore. I'm perfectly happy with Cleary and whatever Green may be. Collins emergency. https://t.co/HyLpPER7eJ
When rushers expect to get a knock back against Cleary, which they will at times if they catch him playing too low in his stance, his impressive lower-body work allows him to keep them away with his long arms and short-range power.
I hate to be this guy, but there is about a 1% chance the #DallasCowboys can win a Super Bowl without Tyron Smith.
While I think most of Cowboys Nation would agree with me on this take from December about starting LT Tyron Smith, it has to be relieving for the Cowboys to know that their franchise quarterback (quarterbacks?) won't be under pressure on seemingly every snap if Cleary is forced to play - which is more than you can say about other backup offensive tackles.
Every team hopes to hit on a few practice squad signings of experienced players that can fill out a roster. Emmett Cleary has done this over the last two weeks of the 2016 season, and based on his performance, should get a chance to do so for much longer with the silver and blue.
Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPN
ESPN has long been considered "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," and for a long time that title was justified. If you wanted your national sports news, where did you turn to but the cable sports channel to watch that day's episode of SportsCenter. But over the last few years, it's become more and more clear that it's "The Worldwide Leader" in name only.
The ratings are dropping and the network has had to make a lot of business decisions as it relates to much of their on-air talent over the last several years. With their latest under 25 starting 22 -- ahem, troll job -- they seem to have finally come to terms that they are basically First Take.
Noah Brown put it best in his reaction to the ESPN "Insider" voting that led to Saquon Barkley being named to the starting 22 ahead of Ezekiel Elliott. Brown, Elliott's teammate when both were at Ohio State University, came to his defense upon seeing the list.
And here is the ESPN list:
43 of our NFL Insiders voted. Here's their best starting roster under the age of 25.
I'm sure there could be debates about different positions on the squad. Personally, quarterback is one where an argument could be made for Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott over DeShaun Watson, but that's for another time.
But to have a rookie, who has never played a down in the NFL ahead of the NFL's league leader in rushing for 2016, Ezekiel Elliott, is laughable.
The fact that they had 43, again I use the quotations, "Insiders" vote on this and Ezekiel Elliott wasn't listed as one of the two running backs just shows you how far they've come as a network.
Let's remember that Ezekiel Elliott has averaged a touchdown a game -- receiving and rushing -- in his 25-game career. No running back has more rushing yards than Elliott does over the last two years, including 2017 league rushing leader, Todd Gurley. No running back has more rushing touchdowns than Elliott's 22 rushing TDs.
Ezekiel Elliott's yards per carry is a healthy 4.63. Todd Gurley sits at 3.93. No player with more than 1,800 rushing yards over the last two years has a better yards per attempt than Ezekiel Elliott.
I get that you'd vote Todd Gurley in there, but to not have Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the game's best running back on your Under 25 starting 22 just makes you look like Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith. Not a sports journalism entity worthy of people throwing money at for "Insider" access.
I won't say that I never or will never watch ESPN, because where else am I gonna go for Monday Night Football, Todd Archer, or the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships? When I'm at my father-in-law's, I'll watch SportsCenter first thing in the morning, because it will be on and you don't change another man's television.
"The Worldwide Leader," however, loses credibility when they promote a list like this that has such a glaring omission.
Perhaps, maybe the goal wasn't to put out an accurate list. Maybe the goal was to get us talking about their list, just like when NFL Network releases their Top 100 players list. Like they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.
This troll job from ESPN has certainly gotten them some publicity, or should I say, notoriety.
Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp
The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.
From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.
Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.
Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.
They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.
Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:
Cowboys, Elliott Should Keep Close Tabs on Le’Veon Bell’s Situation
The deadline for reaching an agreement with franchise tagged players came to an end last Monday, in what turned out to be a pretty uneventful day all around the league. No agreement was reached by any of the teams with their respective players, including the Dallas Cowboys and their promising "War Daddy," DeMarcus Lawrence.
But the Cowboys' front office have something to learn in this process that doesn't involve a player of their own. Something that both the front office and Ezekiel Elliott should be keeping a close eye on.
The Pittsburgh Steelers also failed to secure their franchise tagged player: Running Back Le'Veon Bell. Really, no one expected a deal to be reached among the two parties. The 26-year old football super star is asking for too much money, which has led to the Steelers tagging him twice in consecutive years.
Bell, conscious of his abilities on the field, is asking for a lot of money from his football team. In 2018, he's set to earn over $14.5M under the tag. That's more than twice the money that Devonta Freeman averages per year - 8.25 million - who's next on the list of highest paid running backs in the league and the highest paid on a long-term contract.
Just to clarify: Steelers' offer to Le'Veon Bell last year averaged $13.3 million per year. Steelers' offer to him this year averaged $15 million per year. But Bell does not believe he should be paid as a RB; he believes he should be paid as an elite offensive weapon.
Le'Veon, whose agent has said 2018 will likely be his last season playing as a Steeler, was reportedly offered $15M per year but that wasn't enough for him. Bell wants to get paid as an elite offensive weapon, which he is. But it turns out he's also... a running back.
It's a complicated situation and one that, if it turns out well for him in free agency next year, could revolutionize the entire running back market in the NFL. If it doesn't, he might end up regretting passing on the Steelers' offer for he won't easily find that kind of money with a team that seems to be a Super Bowl contender on a yearly basis.
The Dallas Cowboys' priorities will rely on other players during the next couple of years, but that shouldn't keep them from keeping close tabs on these events since they could be dealing with a similar scenario when Ezekiel Elliott's turn for a new deal comes around.
Fairly assuming that the fifth year option on Zeke's contract will be picked up after the 2018 season, locking him up through 2020, it's a problem that will be down the road for the Cowboys. But it will have to be dealt with at some point.
When his time is up, Elliott should undoubtedly be looking to become the highest-paid in the game, but the amount of money he gets will depend on the outcome of this whole Le'Veon-Steelers thing. David Johnson and Todd Gurley will also play an important role in determining the future of the running back market.
While Elliott hasn't been used as a receiving threat during his first two seasons in the league, he's still an elite offensive weapon for the Cowboys. The team's offense is based around Zeke and the running game, so it will make sense if his demands are somewhat similar from those by Bell.
Elliott might even be franchise tagged once or twice by the Cowboys if things get complicated in the future. Unlike DeMarco Murray in 2014, surely they won't be willing to let him walk in free agency once his contract comes to an end.
For now, it won't be just the Cowboys who will be keeping close tabs on this situation, but also Ezekiel Elliott and his agent. Hopefully, both parties will manage to handle things better than what we're seeing right now in Pittsburgh.
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