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Martin’s 5: Is It Really A Surprise Sean Lee Was A Pro Bowl Snub?

Brian Martin



Sean Lee, Pro Bowl

Welcome to this week's edition of Martin's 5!

The Dallas Cowboys have a chance to lock up home-field advantage with a win over the Detroit Lions Monday night. That would be a huge advantage once the playoffs get underway.

Of course, if they are able to lock up home-field advantage, that means that the last game of the season against the Philadelphia Eagles is pretty much meaningless.

A lot of people are starting to speculate if the Cowboys will sit their starters in order to assure their availability in the postseason, but I think we are getting ahead of ourselves. I don't know about you, but I like to take things one game at a time.

Even though we are closing out the 2016 regular-season, there are still a lot of questions surrounding this team despite their success.

Below are five things that are running through my head this week ahead of the matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions.

One: The players that made the 2017 Pro Bowl were recently released this week. The Dallas Cowboys have five of their players voted in that could play in Orlando, Florida if they're not playing in the Super Bowl, but Sean Lee isn't one of them. I'll be completely honest here, I wasn't that surprised that #50 missed out getting voted into the Pro Bowl. The way the ballot is set up for the voting has Sean Lee listed as an outside linebacker. That means he is competing against players like Von Miller and Khalil Mack, although technically they are entirely different types of players. Lee is more of a traditional inside linebacker, while Miller and Mack are outside linebacker/pass rushers. Lee will never have the QB sacks like a 3-4 linebacker, just like 3-4 linebackers will never have the tackle numbers like Lee has. Having said all that, I wonder if it's time that the voting criteria changes? Sean Lee without a doubt played at a Pro Bowl level, but wasn't voted in on what I believe is a disappointing technicality. I personally think it's time to clearly differentiate the differences between a 4-3 linebacker and a 3-4 linebacker.


Sean Lee, Seahawks, Golden TateTwo: I'm going to stay on the topic of Sean Lee here for second, because I'm wondering if he is going to be paying any extra attention to where Golden Tate is on the field this week? If you remember a few seasons ago when Golden Tate was still a member of the Seattle Seahawks, he had a vicious blindside hit on Sean Lee, that a lot of us believed was a dirty play. Now, I'm not saying Lee will go out of his way to target Tate, but if Tate is the one with the ball in his hands and Lee is in the vicinity, #50 could put a little extra pop in his hit when making the tackle. I don't know about you, but I would love to see Sean Lee deliver a big hit to Golden Tate Monday night. It would kinda be like poetic justice and hopefully set the tone for the game. You can bet that the entire defense remembers that dirty hit Tate delivered years ago, even if they weren't a member of the Dallas Cowboys at the time.


Three: A lot of eyes will be on Ezekiel Elliott this week as he gets closer and closer to breaking Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record. Elliott is currently just 258 yards shy of  Dickerson's record, but I wonder how much #21 and the Dallas Cowboys will focus on breaking that record? Personally, I would love to see Ezekiel Elliott break Eric Dickerson's long-standing rookie rushing record, but not at the expense of harming his availability for  the postseason. Elliott is a huge reason why the Cowboys have been so successful this season. Because of him, the Dallas Cowboys have pretty much been able to win the time of possession in just about every game this season and that has really helped keep the defense fresh. That is something that needs to continue in the postseason and one of the reasons why I think Elliott and the Cowboys should probably put the rookie rushing record on the back burner. Individual accolades are great and all, but not over the team success.


Four: Darren McFadden played his first game in 2016 last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was already used in some unexpected ways. I wonder if Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan will continue to find new and creative ways to incorporate McFadden into the game plan? McFadden's versatility and fresh legs could be a huge benefit from here on out for the Cowboys offense, especially in the postseason. He can be a threat in the passing game, he is good in pass protection, and he can help spell Ezekiel Elliott from time to time if needed. There are number different ways he can help the offense, but it will really be interesting to see how Linehan uses him.


Five: It looks like Randy Gregory could possibly make his 2016 debut this week against the Detroit Lions, but I wonder what kind of impact he can have for the defense? Gregory has been able to work out at the facility while serving his suspension, but hasn't really practiced at all the entire season. That makes me wonder what kind of game shape is actually in and if he would really be an upgrade over the current defensive ends on the roster? We all know that the defense for the Dallas Cowboys could use all the help they can mustard to help improve their pass rush, so Gregory's addition could possibly help in that area, at least that's what we're all hoping. The Cowboys will have a tough decision to make regarding whether or not they add Randy Gregory to the active roster this week. If he is added to the roster, that means someone has to be cut. Who's the odd man out?

Is there anything your wondering about this week?

Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

Star Blog

Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Brian Martin



Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Since becoming the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Rod Marinelli hasn't had too many of his former players follow him to Dallas. In fact, I can only think of one… Henry Melton, and we all know how that turned out.

I don't know about you, but I found that a little strange. It's pretty common for coaches to try to bring some of their players with them when they accept a new job. Familiarity goes a long way in the NFL and former players can also help make the transition easier for everyone.

Strangely enough, Rod Marinelli hasn't really been afforded that luxury, whether it was his doing or not. But, there is a free agent who played under Marinelli's tutelage in Chicago who might make sense for the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Shea McClellin.

Rod Marinelli was the defensive coordinator in Chicago when the Bears decided to draft Shea McClellin 19th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Marinelli likely had a big say in that decision, and if he still feels the same, a reunion could be in order.

Shea McClellin started his career in the NFL as a 4-3 left side defensive end playing opposite Julius Peppers, but was also viewed as a potential Brian Urlacher replacement. He showed flashes of becoming a solid defensive end his first few years in the league, but was eventually moved to linebacker, where he seemed to find a home for himself.

Shea McClellin

New England Patriots LB Shea McClellin

After his contract expired with the Bears, the New England Patriots decided to bring him aboard to help with their linebacker depth. He only ended up starting four games for them in 2016, but made some memorable plays to help the Patriots become the Super Bowl champions.

Unfortunately, the 2017 season wasn't very kind to him. His entire year was wiped out due to a concussion, which probably had a lot to do with why they recently released him.

This of course could be good news for the Dallas Cowboys. They currently need some depth at the linebacker position and Shea McClellin could provide that, if he's healthy. The healthy bit here is key, because he has had problems with concussions in the past.

If McClellin is indeed healthy, he could bring a versatile skill set to the Cowboys defense. His best spot is probably at strong side LB (SAM), but I think he could play middle linebacker (MIKE) as well. He also could provide depth at defensive end, the position he played to start his NFL career.

With the LB depth a concern, Shea McClellin makes quite a bit of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, his past history with concussions is a red flag, but it also drives down his asking price. I think he would definitely fall into that "bargain shopping" mentality the Cowboys have been using these last few offseasons.

He probably wouldn't be viewed as a very important signing, but you still need these types of players on your team in order to succeed in the NFL. Let's see if the Dallas Cowboys agree.

Do you think a Rod Marinelli and Shea McClellin reunion is in order?

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Star Blog

Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys

Jess Haynie



Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys

Now that he's signed with the Washington Redskins, cornerback Orlando Scandrick joins a lackluster list of former Cowboys players and coaches who have gone from Dallas to its historic rival. The history of these moves is ugly for Washington, going back over 40 years, and can't have their fans too excited anytime they sign an ex-Cowboy.

The most recent example was just last year with defensive tackle Terrell McClain. After a strong season as a 15-game starter in Dallas, McClain got a four-year, $21 million deal to join the Redskins. He missed four games with injuries and was only credited with two starts; hardly what the team wanted given the money they paid.

Before him it was Jason Hatcher, whose 11-sack season for the Cowboys in 2013 got him a four-year, $27.5 million deal from Washington. Hatcher would battle knee injuries for two season, getting only 7.5 sacks from 2014-2015. His early retirement in 2016 brought an abrupt end to a disappointing tenure.

Continuing the legacy of defensive linemen was Stephen Bowen, who Washington paid a shocking amount of money ($27.5 million over five years) to in 2011 to pick up in free agency. Bowen had a great first year for the Redskins with six sacks and 16 starts, but injuries would soon cost him 14 games from 2013-2014. He was eventually released after only one standout season in four with the team.

Going back even further, DT Brandon Noble joined Washington in 2003 after being a full-time starter for Dallas for over two seasons. He would miss all of 2003 with a knee injury, have an unimpressive year in 2004, and then missed all of 2005 with more health issues. He retired after being released by the Redskins in 2006.

Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys 1

Hall of Fame CB Deion Sanders

Orlando Scandrick won't be the first cornerback to go from Dallas to Washington, or the best. At age 32, Deion Sanders was released in 2000 by the Cowboys and then got a huge seven-year, $56 million deal from the Redskins. This came less than a year after Daniel Snyder bought the franchise and was desperate to get them relevant again.

The Sanders move backfired horribly. Even after a solid season by his lofty standards, Primetime was disgruntled with both the coaching staff and his increasing struggles as an aging player. He suddenly retired after just one season of the seven-year contract.

Washington also tried to tap into the Cowboys' glory days when they signed receiver Alvin Harper in 1997. Harper had left Dallas in 1995 and spent two years with Tampa Bay, but had not carried over the same success he enjoyed playing in the Dallas offense.

The Redskins hoped that reuniting him with Norv Turner, who had been Harper's offensive coordinator and was now their head coach, would help Alvin get back to form. But between ongoing injuries and the absence of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith as teammates, Alvin Harper was never the same guy as when he won two Super Bowls in Dallas.

The failed poaching attempts go back many more decades, another one being running back Calvin Hill. The fourth-leading rusher in Cowboys history and a four-time Pro Bowler while in Dallas, Hill joined Washington in 1976. He served as a backup only, averaging only 3.8 yards-per-carry as he played behind the likes of Mike Thomas and John Riggins.

Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys 2

Norv Turner also couldn't bring his Cowboys success to Washington. (Brian Bahr/Allsport)

The bad history doesn't stop with players. The aforementioned Norv Turner, who was one of the hottest assistant coaches in history after the Cowboys first two Super Bowl wins in the 90s, was hired as the Redskins' head coach in 1994.

Turner's run started with a whimper, drafting quarterback Heath Shuler third overall in that first year. Shuler would go down as one of the biggest QB busts in NFL history

Norv's Redskins never seemed to recover from that blunder. He only had two winning seasons and one playoff appearance from 1994-1999, and was fired midway through the 2000 season.

Far more recently, Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan left the team in 2015 and took the same job in Washington. He didn't get to bring the offensive line or DeMarco Murray with him, though. As such, the Redskins have remained one of the league's worst rushing teams for the last three seasons. They fell to a new low of 28th in the NFL in 2017.

~ ~ ~

Of course, none of this means that Orlando Scandrick won't have success in Washington. But with the Redskins generally the most mismanaged team in the NFC East, all of the Dallas players and coaches who've gone there have not walked into good situations. For all that Cowboys fans love to complain about Jerry Jones, he handles the owner and GM roles better than any pair Washington's had in almost 30 years.

Given the nature of the rivalries, we naturally can't wish success for Scandrick or anyone else who leaves Dallas for a division opponent. With the track record we just discussed for Washington, it's not something I'll be losing any sleep over.

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Star Blog

Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?

Brian Martin



Cowboys Have Their Version of Tryann Mathieu in Xavier Woods?

It's not uncommon for Dallas Cowboys fans to zero in on certain free agents in hopes that they will bring their talents to America's Team. In fact, just about any "big name" player to hit the open market is often linked to the Cowboys in some way or another. That was the case when the Arizona Cardinals decided to move on from Tyrann Mathieu.

Once Tyrann Mathieu became available, Cowboys fans immediately wanted to see him with a star on his helmet. But, despite the fans petitioning, the Cowboys brass seemed to show almost zero interest in the former Cardinal.

The decision to not pursue Tyrann Mathieu certainly didn't sit well with a lot of Cowboys Nation, but I think it was the right decision.

Despite Mathieu's perceived talents and youth (he's just 25), the Cowboys weren't interested in paying the price to bring him to Dallas, especially since they already have a similar player on their roster.

Xavier Woods

Dallas Cowboys DB Xavier Woods

It may sound crazy, but I think the real reason the Dallas Cowboys didn't show much interest in Tyrann Mathieu is because of Xavier Woods.

I honestly believe Xavier Woods and Tyrann Mathieu have a similar skill set. Both players are little undersized to be a full-time safety in the NFL, but each of them have the versatility to play several different roles in the secondary.

Mathieu may have been listed as a safety on the Arizona Cardinals roster, and now the Houston Texans, but the truth is he played mostly out of the nickel/slot in his professional and collegiate career. That is where he is at his best, and the same can be said about Xavier Woods.

As a rookie, Xavier Woods showed his versatility with the Dallas Cowboys by playing a variety of different roles in the secondary. His versatility was one of the reasons the Cowboys decided to trade up in last year's draft to acquire his services.

His name might not carry the same kind of weight as Tyrann Mathieu right now around the league or amongst NFL fans, but I don't think Xavier Woods is that much of a drop off talent wise.

Xavier Woods

Dallas Cowboys DB Xavier Woods (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Personally, I believe Mathieu is starting to decline a little as a player. I think injuries are starting to take a toll on his play, although it may be minimal. I actually prefer Xavier Woods' upside, especially when you take into account the difference in salaries between the two.

Surprisingly enough, Xavier Woods might just have been more productive in 2017 then Mathieu. Woods started just four games and finished the season with 42 tackles, three passes defensed, and one interception. Mathieu on the other hand started all 16 games and accumulated 78 tackles, one quarterback sack, one forced fumble, and two interceptions.

As you can see, Xavier Woods was almost just as productive as Mathieu in nearly a third of the playing time. What's even more impressive about this is that Woods accomplish this as a rookie.

Of course, all of this is speculation, but I for one am not all that upset the Dallas Cowboys missed out on Tyrann Mathieu. I'm willing to bet on Xavier Woods being able to do everything Mathieu can and at a fraction of the cost.

Were the Cowboys right not to pursue Tyrann Mathieu?

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