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Reflective Future

Bryson Treece

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Is there really such a thing as a Monday morning quarterback for the season? That's about what I feel like for the last few weeks watching the (Va)Giants not only make their way into the playoffs but win out the hard way - one game at a time; no byes, no advantage, just good tough football.

I still firmly believe Eli Manning is a child and want Osi to slam him to the turf every time he sulks and pouts after a play gone awry, but he did his part. So congratulations go out to the Super Bowl Champs.

Now that I've vomited and rinsed, let's talk some Cowboys...

 

Coaching:


Jason Garrett had his blunders - and oh were they stupid and agonizing to watch - but overall I think he made a positive impact on this team. He's still too iffy about the running game but it doesn't appear his personal style as a quarterback has anything to do with it. When he had a capable back he used him and we were better off for it. Here's hope DeMarco Murray returns to health quickly and hasn't lost a step. Garrett can call the plays and do it well when he's got capable - not great - receivers, tailbacks, and quarterback on the field. The opposing defense is an after-thought, this team can make any play they want when they execute properly.

Houck - He's been a great coach for us in the past and that's probably the doom for us. He's been good and Garrett knows that as well Jerry Jones does and for his past contributions we would have never fired him, damning these 'Boys to an archaic running game that doesn't work anymore. So my hat's off to him for retiring. What's coming next is a surprise for us as we get a change of pace, but with Murray we should be able to make it work. Fingers and Toes crossed!

When Dave Campo returned I thought it would be a good thing. At the time we still had Roy Williams I playing and he was in a slump, a slump that Campo couldn't bring back despite his success with Roy years earlier. And Maxie wasn't getting it done either. Both are solid changes and again I have to thank Maxie for making the change, considering the Cowboys offered him a new contract.

 

Offense:


The offense for next year really boils down to three things - The line, the back, and the receivers.

The offensive line got a shade better this year with Tyron Smith coming into his own. He's an athletic giant on the line and though he had a few mistakes, the rookie proved himself. Now the question is will he make the switch to the left side and will he be able to perform at the same level on the left - I say yes. He's young and learning.

But Doug Free is a pussy cat who needs either a major attitude downgrade or a nice and cozy bench to keep warm. He's got all the make-up of a good lineman but he's just too tame - he needs a bigger bite to go with his bark. Phil Costa is simply bad. I know he's young and has a lot of learning to do but damn son, how do you forget the snap count more than once? I think he's scared and unfocused. He snaps when he should hold, and he snaps badly in anticipation of the defensive linemen coming.

DeMarco Murray has the ability to become a great running back in this league and he was well on his way when injury forced him to a stop. He's got speed, vision, quickness, and he's tough enough to withstand a few tackles (attempts). Add in Felix "Greatest running back in the NFL - NOT" Jones to give some relief and a change of pace at the line and we've got a duo that is easy to maintain, easy to game-plan for, and about as effective as any tandem in the league since Smith and Moose tore it up back in the day. High praise I know, but it's mostly for Murray. That kid has something special.

By the by - anyone else find it strange that two years in a row, in the first meeting of each year the Giants have broken one of our primary producers bones? First Romo's collarbone and now Murray's ankle... Just saying.

Dez is doing whatever the hell he's doing to undermine his potential, but we still have Austin (Fad) and Robinson (Hype). Miles Austin has flashed brilliance a few times but a number one receiver he is not.

His break out game against the Chiefs a couple of years ago was mainly due to the fact there was little to no game footage on him - he was an unknown for the Kansas defense. He had some good games after that but once an off-season came and went he lost his edge.

Bryant is our number one and Robinson our number two. Robinson isn't real flashy but he's consistent and can make the big plays when the ball is within his arm span. He's just one of those pieces of a puzzle that you can't make a full picture without. Then again, if Bryant doesn't step up and focus and execute then we're in trouble. During the final minutes of the Jets game it was all Bryant. People look back now and say it was Revis verses Bryant but it really wasn't. It was a short route and Bryant had position on Revis - just not the position Romo was throwing to. Bryant goofed on a fundamental aspect - run the route, catch the ball.

Meanwhile Romo had a great year, but ESPN pointed out the tell... Romo had a record passer rating and yet the 'Boys were middle of the pack on scoring. Those are two things that shouldn't go together. I don't blame Romo - he did his job. He threw short, long, low, high, whatever was asked of him. He had his mistakes as any QB does but his team didn't help. His receivers need to focus and run their routes, they need to be mindful of where defenders are, and they need to catch and then run. And in Bryant's case he needs to run up the field a little more. That kid is like a hamster in a wheel - legs are churning but he's not going anywhere. As an added bonus, we see him take on three and four times the hits for it too.

There's no great mystery to this offense for 2012 - if healthy they do what they did mid-season with a solid mix of run and pass. It worked. Not because the other guys' defense was off but because it was a powerful combination that worked.

 

Defense:


They say defense wins championships and while that's hardly accurate in the full spectrum of things, it's a damned fine place to start for these 'Boys. The line played well for what they are - you don't get huge sack totals from the line in a 3-4. They're merely for blocking and redirection and they did both effectively.

The linebackers fell a little short though. I'm not saying the line shouldn't do more because they always should, but the obvious miscommunications and confusion behind them was a serious problem that can't be repeated without the same 8-8 result. Lee was a bright spot and from what I'm hearing he'll take over signal calling next year. He's young and that could creep up into an issue but for now he's our top defender hands down.

I love Ware, the guy gets it done, but in 2011 he was swimming upstream far too often. Spencer again lacked any demonstration that warranted his praise or pay. James and Brooking signed their names next to Missed Tackles most of the year and missed assignments the rest of it. A few rookies got some play and managed when more than managing was needed - not exactly their fault what the other linebackers and secondary do or don't do.

I'm one of these types that believes you can't cure an illness by fixing a symptom and 2011 seemed like a whole lot of symptoms were trying to be fixed with personnel. Look at ILB - Brooking and James, two very experienced and previously dominating forces rotating at the head spot, signal caller. Why on earth do you need that much experience to point out a run or pass? It comes down to the coach usually, the guy saying what's to be done when a certain condition is met. Maybe it was the lack of an off-season or maybe it was an overcomplicated scheme; either way, these Cowboys did not get it. Some plays worked great, others were just disastrous. But who says the coach is to blame for this teams defensive woes?

T-New is all over the place. From hurdled to beat, missed catches to penalties, he's simply not worth a rookie salary anymore. It was said during the year that the game plan was to play him off his receiver 10 yards, we universally balked at that and for good reason - why is a formerly great cover guy playing 10 yards off the ball? Because he lost a step, guts, and because all the corners were playing off! They simply did not have the confidence in the corners to play press or man coverage and get it done. 70 yard TD passes over their head will do that. But why is Ryan making a defense centered around making up for what his guys can't do? It makes no sense.

I see the 'Boys drafting hard in the DB market this year to get some fresh and able blood at corner. Jenkins played with a ton of heart but he missed the mark as well - probably due to his constantly injured shoulder, probably. But Scandrick was horrible, as was Ball. Sensabaugh actually didn't do as bad as the others but he's still just an average safety. Of course when you have catastrophic failures in every other part of your coverage game, an average guy looks like a new contract.

Many think he should be dumped as well as Newman, Scandrick, and Ball but the basic truth is that they're going to have a hard enough time replacing the corners, never mind adding a safety into the mix. Elam isn't great but he's a good start. Essentially, the safety spots are both filled by average players who aren't glaring liabilities at present, so leave them and focus on the liabilities around them. Down the line, theoretically, you'd reach a point where those average safeties become the liability and that's when you deal with them.

 

Special Teams:


Rookie kicker had a few tough games, but let's remember two of them were directly because of his own head coach. Garrett icing him certainly did the trick and literally cost us the game as he made the first kick, but it also paved the way for the second iced kick by showing how well it worked on our boy. Bailey is good though, and will get another season to show it.

McBriar says today that he feels the surgery to remove a cyst believed to be causing his nerve issues is all he needs to return to form, and a mere recovery is all he needs. He's a rock at punter and we need him back. He's also a free agent and will just be getting healthy again around the week free agency starts. I predict we'll resign him if he can pass the physical and kick the ball. His skill isn't a question, only his health.

The special teams units looked good all year - most of the year - had a few run backs gone too far late in the season but otherwise it was a solid unit for once. And luckily DeCamillis is here to stay for another year.

All-in-all this team needs a lot of work and much of it is now down to new players - through the draft, free agency, and our own talent pool (practice squad and backups). The offense needs health and the defense needs better players. It's at least an easy problem to figure out, even if the solution isn't quite so clear.



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Star Blog

Jason Garrett Can’t be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?

Brian Martin

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Jason Garrett Can't be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?

One of the few positives most of us were looking forward to after the Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams was the fact that Scott Linehan would no longer be the offensive coordinator for America's Team. Everything was pointing to his dismissal, but that may not be the case according to Head Coach Jason Garrett.

Todd Archer on Twitter

Jason Garrett said on 105.3 The Fan that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will return in 2019. "We don't anticipate any significant changes on our staff," Garrett said.

I can't say that I was happy upon learning Jason Garrett plans on retaining Scott Linehan as the Cowboys OC in 2019. In fact, my first thought was… Well, something better left unsaid. I'm sure many of you can kind of read my mind, because I'm pretty positive you had all that the same thoughts running through your head as well.

In all honesty, I didn't think there was a snowball chance in hell Scott Linehan would return to Dallas after the conclusion of the 2018 season. After all, the Cowboys nearly fired him during the bye week earlier this season, meaning his job security was already on thin ice. He didn't do anything to improve things in my opinion.

I know Jason Garrett has said Scott Linehan will return as the OC in 2019, but not for a second do I believe it. We are less than 72 hours hours removed from the Cowboys exit from the playoffs and I highly doubt any of Dallas' decision-makers has had the time to sit down and discuss who stays and who goes. In fact, I know they haven't.

Jeff Cavanaugh on Twitter

Stephen Jones says they won't comment on anything with coaching staff but that they need to take a deep look at why they fell short. Says it a little early to speculate about players or coaches. They haven't had a meeting about it yet.

I think once the Cowboys brass sits down and reevaluates the 2018 season, they will come to the conclusion they can do better than Scott Linehan as their offensive coordinator. There were just too many times throughout the season where the playcalling was a problem just. It's just time to move on, despite the vote of confidence by Jason Garrett.

Of course, this could just be me trying to read between the lines hoping and praying Scott Linehan is finally fired. Like many of you, I've grown way too tired of his predictable and dated playcalling. It's time to move on and find someone more innovative who can maximize the talent the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster, much like Kris Richard did with the defense.

You can either choose to believe Jason Garrett or not. I for one have a hard time seeing the Dallas Cowboys staying status quo with their coaching staff, especially their offensive coordinator. But, only time will tell.

Do you think it's time for the Dallas Cowboys to fire Scott Linehan?



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Star Blog

Cowboys Rammed Out of Playoffs but 2019 is Bright

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Cowboys Rammed Out of Playoffs but 2019 is Bright

If you were to have clicked over to Sportsbook Review, you could have seen what all the premier online sportsbooks were dealing on the Cowboys/Rams game before kickoff. Sites like Bovada, which incidentally you can read a Bovada Review at Sportsbook Review as well, had the Rams favored in every quarter, in both halves, and installed LA as seven-point favorites over Dallas. As is often the case, the number was nearly spot on as the Rams bounced our 'Boys out of the postseason 30-22. It was a heart-wrenching loss for Dallas fans everywhere but for those who put their money where their mouths were, it was particularly painful in what turned out to be a one-point difference between losing and pushing.

Let’s look on the bright side, though. The Cowboys not only copped the division crown but the draft picks from April bore fruit this season. Linebacker and No. 19 overall pick Leighton Vander Esch is a certified stud while third-round pick Michael Gallup proved he is a bona fide NFL receiver. Second-round offensive lineman Connor Williams had difficulties at left guard, but at the very least, has a season under his belt at the next level and could turn into a legitimate bodyguard for Prescott in 2019.

And let’s not forget about the trade for Amari Cooper, which turned Dallas from a squad struggling to find its identity to an NFC East champ in winning seven of its last nine games since Cooper arrived. This year’s edition also bested a tough Seahawks team in the first-round of the playoffs.

Let’s face it, folks, no one expected the Cowboys to win a Super Bowl this season and what we got was about as much as we could have hoped with the current roster as it is presently constructed.

Dak Prescott has one more year on his rookie contract and will be looking to score a big payday at the end of next season, if not sooner. The Cowboys could enter negotiations and lock Prescott up for the foreseeable future, but it might be best for both parties to see what 2019 brings and go from there. Either way, Dallas will pay beaucoup bucks to keep Prescott in a Cowboys uniform so watching and waiting will most likely be the tact management takes with their star quarterback, with a franchise tag in 2020 as an option as well.

In the team’s immediate future will be signing their second-round pick in 2014, DeMarcus Lawrence. The talented defensive end provided the Cowboys with the edge rusher they needed for parts of this season and his combined 25 sacks over the last two seasons would be nearly impossible to replace. Dallas franchised him this season but will most likely put together a long-term deal for Lawrence in the offseason.

Ezekiel Elliott has also reportedly been hinting at his own contract extension even though he is contractually committed to the Cowboys for next season with a team option in '20.

Ironically, one of the strengths of the Dallas Cowboys in recent years was a relatively weak link this season. The offensive line was decimated by injuries and Pro Bowler Travis Frederick missed the entire season. But those wounds will heal for next season and the old gang will be back together again.

The Cowboys have loads of cap space but are without a first-round pick due to the trade for Amari Cooper. Nevertheless, the young blood on the team looks poised to contribute for many years and there will be money available to woo free agents to a club now viewed as a legitimate contender.

If you want to look at next season’s odds, make sure to educate yourself on which online sportsbooks are the most reputable, trusted, and reliable. Read the Bovada Review over at SBR and see what customers are saying about one of the industry’s top sportsbooks. Then, when the lines come out on next season’s division, conference, and Super Bowl winners, you can be informed and maybe throw a few bucks on the 'Boys from Dallas!



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Star Blog

Cowboys’ Window Depends On Maximizing, And Helping, Dak Prescott

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Future Hinges Heavily On Dak Prescott And Their Future Offensive Coordinator

Saturday night's Division Round loss was met with mixed reaction among Cowboys Nation.

Some fans, claiming they are the rational ones who hold the Cowboys to a higher standard, believe this might end up being their best chance at a Super Bowl for some time. The young players this roster is built around will only get older and more expensive as the years go by, and 2018 ends with yet another Jason Garrett-led playoff loss.

Other fans, claiming they are the rational ones, said that Dallas accomplished a lot this season, climbing back from a 3-5 start to win the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a competitive game to one of the league's best. This group believes that the Cowboys championship window is as open as it has been in years, with young talent galore on Dallas' roster.

Whether this is true, however, hinges on the shoulders of two individuals. One of which, ironically, hasn't even been named yet and the other a source of constant debate among those same segmented fans.

Those people, of course, are quarterback Dak Prescott and whoever ends up as the offensive coordinator in 2019.

Dak Prescott is a good quarterback.

Let's start there. I firmly believe that Dak Prescott did enough during his third season to earn the contract extension he will likely receive from the Cowboys within one of the next two offseasons. Especially once the Cowboys acquired wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Clearly, Prescott is far from "perfect" is a passer. He makes mistakes in decision making, he sails some throws, and he sometimes exhibits inconsistent footwork when the pocket breaks down. But we focus too much on his mistakes while simply glossing over his accomplishments, talents, and upside.

Not only is Dak Prescott someone that the team responds to and believes in, but he is also a good football player. Prescott finished the 2018 season 12th in total Expected Points Added, ahead of quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Baker Mayfield. He's also finished 3rd and 4th in raw QBR during his first two seasons in the NFL respectively. And, despite his slow start to 2018, Dak Prescott ended his third season on the best run of games in terms of QBR he has ever had.

Prescott is improving, and this is evident each week. He played more comfortably in the pocket over the last 6 games of the season, panicking less, taking fewer dumb sacks, and abandoning his technique fewer and fewer. And, while he doesn't run as often as many would like, the times Prescott does carry the ball often change drives and games.

And while I despise "QB Wins" as a determining statistic, the fact remains that bad quarterbacks don't win at the rate Dak Prescott does. Three straight winning seasons has been rare in Dallas over the last 15 years, and Prescott orchestrated this his first three seasons as a starter.

Passing Wins Championships.

Though very different than the old cliche, this appears more accurate by the season. The final four teams remaining in the NFL are each top 5 in passing DVOA, while not a single one has a top 10 defense by DVOA.

Neither the Chiefs nor the Rams have had a good run defense at all this season, but stopping the run doesn't matter as much as stopping the pass most weeks in today's NFL. I know this sounds absurd after the Cowboys run defense got abused by Los Angeles, but the numbers often bear this out.

The Cowboys have to do everything in their power to aid Dak Prescott and the passing offense this offseason. They need to draft another pass catcher, preferably with their second round pick. They need to continue to improve the chemistry between Prescott, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.

And, maybe most importantly, they need to hire an offensive coordinator who can maximize this passing game.

Scott Linehan simply is not the answer. And if the Cowboys are going to make the most out of whatever title window they may have, the offensive play caller will be the most critical man in the building going forward.

Unfortunately, latest reports point to Linehan returning in 2019.



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