A tough decision awaits the Dallas Cowboys (you already know where this is going), when it comes to bringing back a healthy Tony Romo or committing to rookie sensation Dak Prescott - who has unfathomably led this team to 5 wins in 6 starts, entering the bye week in first place with more wins than this team managed with backup quarterbacks through all of 2015.
Jerry spoke to the media at The Star on Monday and did not sound all too committed to Romo; however, Jones has also admitted that not winning the Lombardi Trophy for Romo and other veterans like Jason Witten would be one of his bigger failures with this team.
Jerry Jones does not like to accept, nor put himself in position for failure, and he is watching Prescott do anything but that. As a fourth round rookie making just $450,000 in base salary this season, Dak is already giving the Cowboys glimpses into the future while being more financially viable than the average veteran. It's easy to already imagine ways to allocate Romo's would-be cap space around elsewhere to a team that is currently dominating in multiple facets of the game – perhaps adding a few premier pass rushers to put this team over the top.
This was the formula that worked for the Seattle Seahawks under Russell Wilson's rookie contract, and the league took notice, especially its best business man in Jerry Jones.
For what it is worth, we also do not have any indication yet that Tony Romo will not start when healthy. A decision has to be made in the organization though, and a question about that led to one of Jones' most telling quotes yesterday.
"I think that what we're going to do is wait until the next card is played." - Jerry Jones
Now, we all know that cards cannot play themselves. Who is going to ultimately make this incredibly difficult decision for the Cowboys? Jones has sung many songs of praise for Jason Garrett, but will the Head Coach play a 9? Perhaps of hearts; as the final decision maker here?
If this is the case, we may quickly find out how Jerry actually feels along with Stephen, as the front office needs to look at the longer-term approach to remaining with Prescott financially.
Jones added this interesting quote about enjoying Prescott's 5-1 performance while "having comfort" with Romo merely picking up his practice ability and velocity with practice throws entering the bye week.
"I think what we do is enjoy how we're seeing Dak progress, and have comfort in the fact that every time Romo throws the football it's got more velocity on it. That's a good spot to be in." - Jerry Jones
Noting that it is a good sign that your franchise quarterback has more velocity on his meaningless throws is far from a high compliment, but it still tells us little about which way this team will go when Romo is actually ready to suit up and play alongside Dak Prescott.
Many members of Cowboys Nation believe that Jerry Jones' voice always wins around his football team. Some understand that Jason Garrett has had his way with some pivotal decisions. In the near future, a card is going to be played for the first place Dallas Cowboys, a card that is going to be read by the entire football world.
Weigh in on the Tony Romo and Dak Prescott debate! Use the comment section below to start the conversation, or take it to Twitter and find me @ShoreSportsNJ!
I'll also be on a special edition of the RJ Ochoa Show with our Staff Writer RJ Ochoa discussing this topic in a debate with Staff Writer Jess Haynie. Be sure to listen to that and add your comments afterwards on a discussion that is not going away anytime soon!
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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