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Mark Sanchez: More Than Just A Villain, Cowboys Are Playing It Smart

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Mark Sanchez: More Than Just A Villain, Cowboys Are Playing It Smart 2

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.

Cowboys Headlines - Mark Sanchez: More Than Just A Villain, Cowboys Are Playing It Smart

The Dallas Cowboys are in the hands of Dak Prescott and Tony Romo, and it won't be easy to change that.

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.

 

Cowboys Headlines - Mark Sanchez: More Than Just A Villain, Cowboys Are Playing It Smart 1

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.

Tell us what you think about "Mark Sanchez: More Than Just A Villain, Cowboys Are Playing It Smart" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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Dorance Armstrong, Kerry Hyder Stand Out in Cowboys Practices

John Williams

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Why Cowboys Rookie DE Dorance Armstrong is the Pass Rusher to Watch in Carolina

With Left Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery, Defensive End Taco Charlton rehabbing a shoulder and foot injury, and Right Defensive End Randy Gregory currently suspended indefinitely, there have been plenty of snaps at defensive end for other players to make a name for themselves in the offseason training activities (OTAs) and this past week's minicamp. The two players that stood out above all others on the defense were defensive ends Dorance Armstrong and Kerry Hyder.

You might be asking yourself, "what does it matter? DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn are the starters. Why should we care about a couple of backups."

First, the backup defensive ends for the Dallas Cowboys will play. After DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford, the leaders in defensive end snaps in 2018, Randy Gregory got 44% of the snaps on defense and Taco Charlton saw 39%. Dorance Armstrong, who played sparingly as a rookie, saw 26% of the snaps. The defensive ends that make the 53-man roster are going to get playing time.

Secondly, there's no guarantee that DeMarcus Lawrence will be ready for week one. Tyrone Crawford, who was the starter at right defensive end in 2018, could miss week one if the NFL deems his offseason altercation is worthy of a suspension. That leaves a whole lot of potential snaps at the left defensive end spot if either of those two guys misses week one.

Dorance Armstrong, the Dallas Cowboys fourth-round pick from 2018, caught the eye of several observers from the media and finished his offseason with a strong minicamp.

"These coaches have to be happy with what they’ve seen from Dorance Armstrong during these practices. Armstrong has been mainly filling in for DeMarcus Lawrence on the left side, but on Wednesday he switched over to the right. There were several snaps where he was a handful for Cam Fleming to handle. Armstrong started off well last season before hitting the rookie wall. He physically looks bigger and is also now equipped with the knowledge of how he has to prepare to play at a high level the entire season. Keep an eye on Armstrong to make that jump from the first to second year."

Bryan Broaddus - DallasCowboys.com

Armstrong had a really nice training camp as a rookie and as Broaddus notes, tailed off during the regular season. Reports are that he's added size this offseason -- as most players do between their first and second year -- and if all the reports are correct, could be a breakout player in the making.

Kerry Hyder is another intriguing player and one of the more underrated offseason acquisitions by the Dallas Cowboys front office.

Coming from the Detroit Lions, where they used Hyder as a nose tackle in Matt Patricia's 3-4 alignment, he was played severely out of position. In 2016, playing primarily as a defensive end, Hyder recorded eight sacks for the Lions. In 2017, he suffered a torn achilles which kept him out all of that year.

Now with the Dallas Cowboys, he gets to return to his more natural defensive end position. And he's making some noise in these offseason practices.

David Helman on Twitter

D-Linemen never get any shine during OTAs, so today is for them. With Tyron Smith & La'el Collins sitting out today, Dorance Armstrong & Kerry Hyder absolutely wrecked practice. Murdered it. I legitimately don't think Dak would've gotten a single throw out if sacks were allowed.

Of course not playing against the starting tackles in Tyron Smith and La'el Collins will allow players to shine a bit more, but let's not forget that Cam Fleming started in the Super Bowl for the New England Patriots before signing with the Dallas Cowboys. Connor Williams, who has been getting snaps at tackle as well, is no slouch as a former All-American for the Texas Longhorns.

Here's what Bryan Broaddus had to say about Kerry Hyder in one of the previous OTAs his "Scout's Notebook" from May 22nd.

"I have to be careful with my love for veteran defensive linemen, but Kerry Hyder looks like a different man playing at end instead of head-up tackle. The coaching change in Detroit did him no favors last season. Having to play in a spot where he had to fight blocks all day to now working on the edge in space is a good thing for him. It appears that Hyder has his quickness back, but he also has some pass rush moves in his tool belt. I thought maybe they were going to use him as an under-tackle, but putting him back at end might be his best shot at making the roster."

Bryan Broaddus - Dallas Cowboys.com

The Cowboys found a really good player in Kerry Hyder. He's capable of playing some 3-technique defensive tackle if needed as well as on the edge. He has a good motor and is able to make plays in the running game.

With the emergence of Kerry Hyder and Dorance Armstrong this offseason, it puts Taco Charlton behind the eight ball as the team heads to Oxnard. If they continue to play well, it's a real possibility that Charlton could be a gameday inactive during the regular season, especially if Randy Gregory is reinstated.

However they end up being deployed, this group of defensive ends will cause fits for opposing offensive lines. They've been aiming for waves of pass rushers for Rod Marinelli's defense and for the first time since becoming defensive coordinator, he looks to have just that.



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BREAKING: Cowboys TE Rico Gathers Receives One-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

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Rico Gathers

Tight End Rico Gathers already had an uphill climb to return to the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster in 2019. But that climb just got even steeper; the NFL handed down a one-game suspension to Gathers today for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

If he does make the team this year, with Dallas or anyone else, Rico will have to sit out Week One of the season without pay.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys TE Rico Gathers is suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL's policy and program on substances of abuse. This is from his arrest in 2018 for marijuana possession.

Gathers' chances of returning in 2019 were already hurt by Jason Witten's reversed retirement. He dropped to fourth on the TE depth chart behind Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz, and Dallas only kept three tight ends last year.

The Cowboys also added Codey McElroy as a developmental player during the offseason.

While the suspension is news, the incident that led to it is not. Dallas already knew about the arrest, which occurred in early September of 2018, and have kept Gathers around up until now.

The NFL's substance abuse system is pretty formulaic, so the Cowboys likely anticipated this suspension all along. This may not change anything about how they value Rico Gathers for the 2019 season.

Nevertheless, a player who can't help you in Week One and is a liability for ever longer suspensions down the road is definitely a red flag against Gathers' job security.



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Antwaun Woods: Cowboys DT is Just Getting Started

Matthew Lenix

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Antwaun Woods is just getting started

Antwaun Woods went undrafted in 2016 coming out of USC. After two years with the Tennessee Titans, he would only see one game of action. In May of 2018, the Cowboys signed Woods to a two-year contract worth 1.05 million. Probably seen as nothing more than a practice squad guy, Woods would quickly show he was much more than that.

The newly acquired Woods started his climb to stardom in Oxnard during training camp, and not for making plays. One day during practice he got into a friendly game of fisticuffs with All-Pro Center Travis Frederick. The team even posted the video on social media, which had fans buzzing and wanting to know who he was.

All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott echoed those thoughts when he saw Woods during camp. "Honestly, when we first got him, we were like, 'Who is this guy?'. He was giving Travis Frederick, one of our best players, hell all camp. Just trying to figure out where this guy came from," Elliott said.

Once the regular season started it was clear the Cowboys had found a hidden gem. Although the sack numbers won't dazzle you, seeing as he only registered 1.5, you could forget about running the ball anywhere near him. Woods has amazing quickness for a 300 pounder which allows him to extend his arms before offensive lineman can get a hand on him.

How significant is that? It becomes that much easier to bull rush and blow running plays up in the backfield.

When you can get your hands on an offensive lineman immediately when the ball is snapped, he's basically under your control. You can move him around like a puppet on a string. Essential for a 1-technique nose tackle. With that being said, there should be no surprise the Cowboys finished fifth against the run in 2018 with Woods manning the middle.

Woods draws a lot of double teams, and he handles them well. Having the ability to take on multiple linemen frees up your other playmakers. As the anchor in the middle, Woods made life a lot easier for not only his fellow defensive linemen but the team's two young star Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Allowing them to roam freely like Lions in the Serengeti makes running backs essentially Zebra's carrying the ball, cooked food. So much so that both tallied over 120 tackles and were the only teammates in the NFL to rank in the top 15 in that category.

There's nothing but upside with Antwaun Woods. He's only had 18 games of experience in three years. He's already a stud, but with limited snaps, it can only mean he'll be even more formidable going forward.

The Cowboys have a loaded defensive lineman group with around 15 bodies, plenty of competition. All signs point to him remaining the starter, but it's not guaranteed. Even with that being said I don't expect a complacency from Woods, especially with DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn looking like the only sure starters on the defensive line. Plus this is a contract year for him, so you know he'll be even more motivated as he tries to maximize his dollars. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg from this raw talent, setting up for a potential breakout year for him in 2019.



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