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PS Week 2 53-man Roster Projection: Erod Takes a Stab



Cowboys Blog - PS Week 2 53-man Roster Projection: Erod Takes a Stab

Roster projections feel eerily like fantasy football rosters, and I’m no fan of fantasy football.  There’s no bigger beating than some bloke at work outwardly wrestling in self-debate over whether to start Ryan Tannehill or Carson Palmer.  If you’re said bloke, trust me on this, NOBODY CARES……EVER.

That said, I readily admit that roster projections hit closer to home when it comes to our team, especially right now, a mere 18 scorching days from Showtime.  It’s good fun to guess along with what the coaches are thinking.

Fascinating machinations are taking place across the league, as position coaches fight for their respective units and guys.  Every team is different, heavy in certain positions and dangerously thin in others.  The defensive front seven is the painfully obvious worry here, so my list carries the more obvious legal disclaimer: “Ain’t all our dudes here yet.”

And so, my would-be 53…

Quarterbacks (2): Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden

Romo looks like Romo right now. How long that will continue lies in the dastardly mood of a surgically repaired disc that we all hope takes about a six-month spasm nap.  Weeden’s tools are apparent, although it remains mysterious if a quarterback can actually be cured from Brown Syndrome.  I feel just fine if he has to manage a couple of games this year.  Dustin Vaughan would be kept on a better team, but too many holes elsewhere won’t allow such luxury, so it’s practice squad hopes for him here.

Running backs (5): DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle, Ryan Williams, Tyler Clutts

J.C. Copeland is this year’s Adrian Hamilton, an overhyped internet phenomenon that simply can’t play in the NFL.  Clutts is a decent lead blocker who also has some usefulness as a pass catcher, and this offense needs a fullback to go with the road-graders up front.  Dallas is going to be one of the best running and screen teams in the league, as weird as that is to write.  I simply can’t cut Ryan Williams.  I find a way to keep him and Randle, especially with the injury histories of Murray and Dunbar.  However, the needs at defensive line might make this a pipe dream.  Personally, I keep a good back over a nobody defensive lineman, but they likely won’t think that way.

Receivers (5): Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris, Devin Street

The Rubik’s Cube at defensive line will prevent it, but I think the Cowboys would like to go six receivers.  Unfortunately, there are some good receivers that have to be cut, including Jamar Newsome and LaRon Byrd (and others).  Thankfully, the top five keepers are young, versatile, dynamic, and trusted by the QB.  Even Street seems to have the sense when it comes to running routes and knowing what to do, for a young guy.  That far exceeds talent in the NFL; just ask Dez, who took time to earn Romo’s trust.

Tight ends (3): Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, James Hanna

Much uncertainty still, but much hope, too.  Escobar shows hints that he is going to arrive soon as a big weapon in an expansive arsenal at Linehan’s disposal.  Hanna is in a crux year because he hasn’t done a thing to earn a bigger veteran check.  All flash and no sustained substance so far, and that drop Saturday was cankles ugly.

Offensive line (9): Tyron Smith, Ron Leary, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Doug Free, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Uche Nwaneri, Darrion Weems, John Wetzel

The days of old are returning.  Time to maul some people.  This group gives me hope that Romo, in fact, can play a good while longer because the run and screen game could be the best in the business soon.  Jermey Parnell is the odd man out, especially if Weems returns healthy soon.  Parnell isn’t worthy of the salary he now commands, and he’s not developing at all.  Same dude as before, with younger, cheaper players with more upside on hand.  Plus, Martin can play tackle, and Bernadeau can play center, so versatility accents what has become a reliable strength of this team.  In fact, if needed, this unit could open the season with only eight lineman.  Kudos to the rebuilding of this unit.

Defensive line (9): George Selvie, Anthony Spencer, Jeremy Mincey, Tyrone Crawford, Henry Melton, Terrell McClain, Nick Hayden, Ken Bishop, Davon Coleman

I'm afraid that immediate need will force Dallas to put DeMarcus Lawrence on short-term injury, so he’s out six games.  The waiver wire offers some hope to a question-laden group of almosts, coulda-beens, and never-wases.  Making the cut won’t mean much until these guys see kickoff on September 7th, because the personnel department will be working overtime scouring cuts around the league.  My hope is that they pick the right eight guys by then, and then we see a gradual IMPROVEMENT as the season wears on.  The return of Spencer and Lawrence will obviously help (and perhaps Josh Brent), but the other guys have to get better as this season wears on.  My only optimism lies in that somewhat logical improvement.  Sounds eerily like peace in the Middle East.

Linebacker (6): Justin Durant, Kyle Wilber, Rolando McClain, Bruce Carter, DeVonte Holloman, Anthony Hitchens

Dallas desperately needs Rolando McClain to continue to return to the player he was before.  It looks promising, but a lot of work and commitment still to go.  Durant is having the best camp of any linebacker, but he needs to be somewhere other than the middle in my opinion.  Bruce Carter might be headed for backup status, and ultimately off this team next year altogether.  He’d better show big soon and consistently.  Still, I do think this could be a decent group in the end, and it’s ultra critical that they are.

Cornerback (6): Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, Morris Claiborne, Sterling Moore, Terrance Mitchell, B.W. Webb

Scandrick’s suspension might have saved Webb’s bacon for now, and it’ll be interesting to find out if Tyler Patmon can win Webb’s spot in the next two weeks.  Still, I think Webb holds on, especially if he can show up in special teams.  The waiver wire won’t offer much because teams simply don’t cut good corners these days.  When healthy and unsuspended, this is a more than serviceable group.

Safety (5): Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Jakar Hamilton, Ahmad Dixon, Jeff Heath

I like this unit when it’s healthy because I’m a believer in Church and Wilcox.  They’re going to get better and better.  Heath and Dixon will be critical special teamers, but you just don’t want them on the field in anything other than dime packages.  Most teams are thin at safety beyond their starters, too, so the same thing generally rings true around the NFL.

Specialists (3): Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladouceur

Rock solid here, though I wouldn’t mind a more dynamic punter.  Bailey is a godsend to this team, and Ladouceur might be long-snapping here for the next two decades.  Why didn’t I learn how to do that?  Best gig on the planet.

  • Erod

    DeVonte Holloman’s injury wasn’t reported at the time I wrote this. That likely opens the door for Cam Lawrence to stay, or Will Smith to take a spot. Waiver wire disclaimer, obviously.

  • pratap veluri

    what happened to matt johnson? will he recover from injury or going to be cut?

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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