We here at Inside The Star collectively love the Dallas Cowboys and everything about them, and hope that you come to this site for the same reason - in hopes of learning as much as you can about their latest activities.
One such recent activity has Cowboys Nation scratching its head though, as the team ended their search for a backup QB to Dak Prescott by signing Mark Sanchez. I broke the news of the Sanchez signing right here, and as you can see even I was not too thrilled about it at the time.
Of course, the Dallas Cowboys have no plans for 2016 that involve Sanchez ever having to take a snap. With that in mind, let's take a closer look at why he is here over some of the other QB options that were available.
Jameill Showers Just Isn't Good Enough
Starting with the option that was already on the Cowboys' roster, Jameill Showers did not show enough development this preseason to earn the backup job behind Dak Prescott.
Dallas will already be getting a long look at Prescott, the young quarterback being thrown into the fire and asked to develop in front of our eyes. Should they be forced to move away from Prescott, it needed to be for the sake of bringing in someone that is established.
After the miserable showing that these backup quarterbacks put on in 2015, the Dallas Cowboys simply couldn't justify a depth chart of Dak Prescott and Jameill Showers.
Showers completed just 29 of his 62 attempts this season, setting a pretty low benchmark for any veteran QB to come in here and perform better with the first team offense that Jameill never had the luxury of working with.
Mark Sanchez Can be that guy, more so than Aaron Murray or Austin Davis
It is important to once again remember that Sanchez is not remotely in the long-term plans for the Dallas Cowboys at quarterback. They still expect Tony Romo to top their depth chart for some time, and have Dak Prescott to develop behind him.
Sanchez is nearly here as insurance to potentially keep the season alive (i.e. play well enough to not lose the game, but not well enough to win it either) for a very short period of time in the absence of Prescott.
This is Tony and Dak's team, and there is currently no room for a more long-term backup QB solution in an Aaron Murray or Austin Davis.
With both players relatively unproven (Murray has never started a regular season game), the Cowboys would essentially still be throwing a quarterback like Dak Prescott or Jameill Showers on the field should either of these two need to play.
They would be doing so by making us forget that point due to these players' ages and time in the league, but the results would quickly show that having a guy like Mark Sanchez is the right idea.
Mark Sanchez Actually Fits The Cowboys' Scheme
At this point, you're probably saying something along the lines of "Whoa, Sean, I've read your film review of the newest Cowboys' DE Zach Moore, and now you are trying to convince me that Mr. Butt Fumble is a scheme fit in Dallas!?".
Don't go anywhere, because that is exactly what I am trying to say. We all expect great things from the Cowboys offense this season surrounding the QB position. Dez Bryant is going to dominate, along with RB Ezekiel Elliott behind the best offensive line in the universe.
Surely this high-octane offense is a quarterbacks playground, and that is what it could be for Sanchez. When I mentioned Mark Sanchez being the right guy to simply not lose games for the Cowboys, I based that decision on the fact that he can get the ball out of his hands quickly and make some simple reads to keep defenses honest.
We have already seen Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan getting creative with some of his formations throughout training camp, and there is a way to scheme Mark Sanchez to success in the silver and blue.
We might not want to think that, but ultimately we would want what Mark Sanchez could bring to the Cowboys if he does indeed have to step onto the field.
The ultimate goal for the 2016 Dallas Cowboys right now is to stay relevant until Tony Romo can take over this football team once again.
Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore fell flat on their faces trying to do this a year ago, but Dak Prescott and Mark Sanchez are the solution. It all starts with Dak attack, followed by the low expectations put on Sanchez in his new role with the Cowboys - which is to basically be better than Matt Cassel, while Dak will have to outperform Brandon Weeden.
I like the chances of both of these players outperforming their 2015 counterparts, and the depth at quarterback is upgraded because of it with Mark Sanchez as the backup.
Agree? Disagree? Let's talk about it! Use the comments section below to share your thoughts on Mark Sanchez backing up Dak Prescott, or email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com.
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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