As fans, we love to read, watch, tweet, analyze, and do anything we can to get our hands on any possible information about the Dallas Cowboys.
We stream the Cowboys' war room on draft night, we travel to or watch training camp online, and we salivate over the insight which those close to the organization provide us about events as trivial as OTA's.
OTA's are interesting to me.
There are no pads, there is limited contact, and the main goal of the practice time is to keep everyone upright and healthy for when actual football is ready to be played.
With all that being said, I refuse to believe any time the team is together and lining up as an offense or defense is meaningless.
Every day, every practice, every meeting, it all means something.
How much? Well, we will have to wait and see to get a real answer for that. But in the meantime, we can understand and evaluate what the Cowboys are doing as a team, and what each individual is showing the staff en route to position battles and training camp.
This elongated introduction brings me to my main point: Jameill Showers has a real chance as a Cowboy.
The questions surrounding the Cowboys quarterback position have been well documented. Outside of Tony Romo, we don't really know what we have in place. And to be quite honest, we don't know how much football our beloved Romo will be healthy enough to play in 2016 and beyond. Hopefully its every game, but we don't know that.
Considering both the end of the 2015 season and how the current roster is constructed, Kellen Moore would seem to be a shoo-in for the "QB2" job.
Moore saw limited time last year, relieving the horrendous Matt Cassel against the New York Jets, and starting the final two games of the season.
In his first start against Buffalo, Moore showed flashes of being able to move the ball effectively during the first quarter. But, after that first possession or so, the offense sputtered and resembled the awful offense we had seen for the previous Romo-less games.
He moved the ball well against the Washington Redskins, but there are of course questions about how serious that Redskins team was taking their useless week 17 matchup.
Regardless, owner and general manager Jerry Jones enlisted a certain level of trust in Moore when he announced that he would be the backup quarterback going into the offseason.
Jason Garrett has come out and said that while Moore is currently QB2, there is still a competition for the job between him, rookie Dak Prescott, and Jameill Showers. This may just be coach-speak, but after the last week of OTA's, I do believe there is some truth to this competition.
DallasCowboys.com insider Bryan Broaddus furthered the idea of this competition when he released his notes on the first couple days of OTA's. He sung the praises of Showers, going as far as to say he has been the second-best quarterback on the field.
Hearing some whispers from those in the know that through two days of OTAs – Jameill Showers has been the second-best quarterback on the field. In watching him during practice, I thought his accuracy and poise were outstanding in the opportunities he received.
Dallas Cowboys writer Jon Machota then went on to question the certainty of Moore's position on the team, stating that if offensive coordinator Scott Linehan wasn't on the staff, Moore wouldn't be on the roster.
This is all shaping up to seem like Showers has a real shot to not only make this team, but possibly fulfill the QB2 role in 2016.
Showers built up some trust and support within the organization last season, as he played anywhere and everywhere the coaches asked him to, even filling a Special Teams role when needed.
The Cowboys announced that Showers would be focusing on being a quarterback this offseason, and would be abandoning his "do it all" type of role. This came as a surprise to most, but Showers may be ready to prove that he can play some quarterback in this league.
Just wondering, am I allowed to keep the same Cowboys pet cat as I had last year (Jameill Showers), or do I have to find a rookie?
The problem for Showers is simply the numbers game of the depth chart.
Dak Prescott is going to have a spot on the team considering where he was drafted this year, and Kellen Moore has been in the system and has some real game experience. And, of course, Tony Romo is going to be on the roster come September.
The odds of the Cowboys carrying four quarterbacks are slim-to-none, which may make Showers the odd man out. But if he can continue to impress the way he has during OTA's come training camp and preseason games, he will have a real shot at making this roster.
I try to remain objective in all of my analysis, but I am definitely rooting for Jameill Showers to make a real push for the QB2 job this season.
Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick
The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.
Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:
Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh
Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.
Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.
The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.
For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!
DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class
Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.
Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.
One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.
ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.
ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t
DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.
Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.
Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.
When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott
Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.
In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.
According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.
During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...
...of his offensive lineman.
During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.
As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.
It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.
With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.
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