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Rolando McClain and Randy Gregory: A Tale of Two Lockers

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Headlines - Rolando McClain and Randy Gregory: A Tale of Two Lockers 1

Imagine if Rolando McClain showed up in Dallas today.

First, he'd probably show up over at Valley Ranch. Security would have to inform him that the team had moved to the new facility, The Star. Rolando would ask for directions and head 30 miles north to Frisco.

If he didn't get distracted along the way, Rolando would arrive to find out that the team had already departed for Seattle for tonight's game. Bemused and dejected, he would ask if he could at least check out the new facility. Someone would take pity on him and let him into The Star.

Cowboys Headlines - Rolando McClain and Randy Gregory: A Tale of Two LockersRolando McClain would be in awe of the gorgeous new facility. He'd be so excited about being able to work here next week, then take a 10-week break, then come back in November.

Rolando would get to the locker room. Naturally, he'd start looking for his name and number. He'd look... and look... and look.

Eventually, Rolando would ask whoever was attending him what was up. Where was his locker? Had there been a clerical error?

Somewhere in that room is a locker for number 94, Randy Gregory. Both Gregory and Rolando McClain did not report to the Cowboys training camp. Neither is currently counted on the team's roster.

One guy has a locker at The Star. The other doesn't.

Some want to paint McClain and Gregory with the same broad stroke. They're both "knuckleheads" or "druggies." They're both hurting the image of the Dallas Cowboys and should be released.

Clearly, the Cowboys don't see it that way. Neither do I.

Rolando McClain is 27-years-old. This is his third team since entering the league in 2010. He's been out of the NFL and come back more than once, even having retired at one point and missing all of 2013. He is facing 10-game suspension this year for using a "purple drank" and was reportedly severely out of shape when he showed up for the team's summer practices.

Cowboys Blog - Randy Gregory, I am Disappointed. Plain and Simple 2Randy Gregory is still just 23-years-old and was a rookie last year. By all accounts, Gregory is a hard worker and was only held back last year by injuries. He faces his own suspension this year, still officially just four games, for repeated offenses with marijuana.

Both guys clearly have their issues and personal demons. However, there's a very important line that has to be drawn.

Gregory has a drug problem. McClain has an attitude problem.

McClain's two years in Dallas have been a testament to his incredible talent and yet a reminder of how much of it is wasted. He's never been "all in" with the Cowboys. He doesn't fight to play through minor injuries. One can only assume that his conditioning and preparation for games isn't what it could be.

And yet, when on the field, Rolando McClain can still be an impact player. His natural gifts are that strong.

Dallas clearly sees that they can't help McClain change who he is and how he views his football career. Rolando doesn't care about his teammates. He doesn't care enough to be here through camp and preseason and help guys like Anthony Hitchens and Mark Nzeocha be ready to play in his absence.

Cowboys Blog - Time To Check Rolando McClain's Family JewelsRolando is a self-centered mercenary. He has been for two years. And now the Cowboys are done paying for his services.

If you've lived long enough to know the difference between 23 and 27, you know why the Cowboys may feel differently about Randy Gregory. You probably understand why he still has a locker.

Obviously, Gregory's story may not have a happy ending. He could wind up on that tall scrap heap of former NFL players who wasted their talent and fell out of the league, be it to their own selfish interests, personal problems, or a mix of the two.

But right now, Gregory seems to be acknowledging his issues and is taking steps to work on them. That's all the Cowboys can ask for now, and it's enough to merit their continued support and the hope for a positive outcome.

One guy's checked himself into rehab. The other's completely checked out.

That's why Randy Gregory still has a locker and Rolando McClain doesn't. Seems perfectly logical to me.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. txpatriot

    August 25, 2016 at 10:44 am

    Gregory was drafted and signed a four-year rookie contract; McClain was a free agent who signed a series of one-year contracts.

    The Cowboys have much more invested in Gregory than they do McClain — I’m not at all surprised the team is treating them differently.

    • Jess Haynie

      Jess Haynie

      August 25, 2016 at 10:53 am

      That plays a significant part, for sure.

      However, it’s not like Dallas doesn’t need McClain badly in 2016. He’s still better than every LB not named “Sean Lee.” I think they’d make concessions for him, as they have the last two years, if he was showing any willingness to meet them along the way.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Jeff Cook

    August 25, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    That is great to know they didn’t give McClain a locker that makes me believe I am right in my thinking that the day McClain is reinstated we will give him his walking papers and a bus ticket back to Bama. I am also glad to know they did give Gregory a locker that makes me believe they haven’t given up on him yet I just hope he is able to complete his rehab and stay clean.

    • Jess Haynie

      Jess Haynie

      August 25, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      it certainly looks that way. Part of me wishes they’d just cut him now, but I can understand why they want to take the steps so that he gets as little money as possible.

  3. Carlos

    August 25, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    The only thing consistent about McClain’s level of commitment to his craft and teammates over his career is his inconsistency. The Cowboy’s organization would be foolish to not recognize the trend at this point. I wish him well and hope he gets his life together but he doesn’t deserve to play in the league. Young Randy Gregory should take heed and understand that second chances are few and far between often times in life. I hope he utilizes the resources the league and the Dallas Cowboys have made available to him and commit to righting his ship. I hope he’s genuine in his desire to seek help. My question is whether or not the Jones leadership will ever understand the value of tough love and help to create an environment in the organization that fosters a sense of accountability with players versus this perceived culture of talent trumping all else which seems to give certain players this idea that they’ll get a pass to some degree when they make poor choices.

    • Jess Haynie

      Jess Haynie

      August 27, 2016 at 10:55 am

      I think we’re already seeing that culture change, Carlos. You don’t see them leaving the door open for McClain, or sticking with Greg Hardy despite all the issues at defensive end. Hopefully Gregory doesn’t put them to the test.

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Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Next Day Rant: Cowboys Drafting LB Vander Esch Looks Pretty Smart Now

Dallas Cowboys' rookie Leighton Vander Esch has done enough to prove every single doubter wrong. When Roger Goodell called his name during the 2018 NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas, many in Cowboys Nation rejoiced at the thought of having a young linebacker for a defense surrounded with uncertainty. However, many analysts doubted the draft pick. For a lot of people (sadly, I include myself in this category), the pick should've been used on another player. For most, despite acknowledging his raw talent, Vander Esch wouldn't be able to provide the Cowboys with an instant impact player. Ah, well.

After a remarkable season, Vander Esch (a.k.a. Wolf Hunter) has earned a spot on this season's second-team All-Pro. When the Pro Bowl voting began, Vander Esch was snubbed from the ballot itself. It didn't took the NFL long to realize their mistake and add the Cowboys' linebacker to the list. Despite missing the cut at first, Vander Esch will be heading to Orlando to play in this year's Pro Bowl on January 27th.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

DallasCowboys linebacker @VanderEsch38 has been added to the 2019 Pro Bowl Roster. 🐺 Congratulations, rookie! → https://t.co/AYqEUy2tZx

The former Boise State Bronco will be replacing Carolina Panthers' LB Luke Kuechly, who won't be participating because of an injury.

Vander Esch racked up 140 tackles (per Pro Football Reference), ranking third in the league in this category. He finished the season as the fifth best linebacker in Pro Football Focus' rankings.

But numbers aren't really enough to fully appreciate what Vander Esch did for the Dallas Cowboys. A team that was used to seeing its defense break when veteran Sean Lee went down injured, did not only get someone to fill in for Lee. Vander Esch actually upgraded the Cowboys' defense. It didn't matter where the ball went, he was always around when opponents were tackled. His speed and chance of direction allowed him to run sideline to sideline, covering a huge portion of the field.

Along Jaylon Smith, Dallas managed to have one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL.

The last time a defensive rookie from the Cowboys went to the Pro Bowl was in 1981, when Everson Walls made the team. Vander Esch is the 11th rookie in team history to be selected to the Pro Bowl. This year, the rookie will be accompanied by DeMarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Ezekiel Elliott.

Tell me what you think about "Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Cowboys Expect C Travis Frederick Back for Offseason Program

Jess Haynie

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Travis Frederick

Lost in yesterday's hoopla over Scott Linehan's return was a positive report about Center Travis Frederick. In his comments to the media, Jason Garrett said that Frederick's recovery timetable should allow him to a full participant in the team's offseason program.

After never missing a start in his first five years, Travis missed all of 2018 dealing with the effects of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The disease attacked his neurological system and required immediate and intensive treatment.

Rob Phillips on Twitter

Jason Garrett says the team anticipates Travis Frederick being involved in the offseason program right from the start this spring if he continues on the same positive track in recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome. #cowboyswire

While Joe Looney performed admirably in Frederick's absence, he's not an elite talent. Travis has been arguably the best center in the NFL since entering the league in 2013.

It's hard to qualify what effect not having Frederick had on the Cowboys offense in 2018. Ezekiel Elliott still led the league in rushing, but short-yardage plays weren't as automatic as we've seen in past years. A 4th-and-1 stuff was part of what led to the Cowboys' loss this past Saturday.

Dak Prescott was the second-most sacked QB in the NFL in 2018. After being sacked just 25 and 32 times in his first two seasons, the number skyrocketed to 56 sacks.

That's not all on Frederick, of course. Tyron Smith had some health issues and there were was turnover at left guard.

But having your All-Pro veteran center out there to help with the pre-snap reads, and help the rookie guard on his left, might have helped avoid some of those issues.

Indeed, Travis Frederick's return is just one of many reasons for optimism with the 2019 season. One of the best players on the team, he was sorely missed this year and can only help as Dallas looks to build on their division title and playoff appearance.



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For Cowboys to Beat the Rams, Dak Prescott must Lead the Way

John Williams

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Playoff Scenarios Aim Towards Seahawks vs Cowboys in Wild Card

In the NFL wins and losses often come down to quarterback play. That isn't to say that if a team wins, it was all because of the quarterback and inversely, if a team loses that it was all on the quarterback. Teams win or lose games. Generally speaking, however, the quarterback has the highest amount of influence on the outcome of an NFL game. This will be no different for the Dallas Cowboys this Saturday when they take on the Los Angeles Rams in the LA Coliseum. For America's Team to make their first trip to the NFC Championship Game since 1996, Dak Prescott has to have a good game.

This looks to be a good matchup for the Dallas Cowboys offense, which should allow Dak Prescott and the Cowboys to take advantage in certain areas.

A few Rams Passing Game Notes

  • The Los Angeles Rams were middle of the pack against the pass this season, allowing the 14th fewest passing yards in the league this season.
  • The Rams allowed 7.7 yards per attempt. Dak Prescott is averaging 7.6 yards per attempt since week 10 of the season.
  • The Rams allowed the eighth most passing touchdowns in the NFL this season. They and the New Orleans Saints are the only teams in the top 10 of passing touchdowns allowed in the playoffs this season.
  • The Rams were 15th in the NFL in sacks, with 41, but Aaron Donald accounted for half of that with 20.5 sacks on the season. No other player had more than five sacks.
  • They were third in the NFL in interceptions, collecting 18.
  • The Rams allowed the ninth highest yards per completion on the season at 11.8. So on average, every completion went for a first down.

Dak Prescott is playing as well as any quarterback in the playoffs at the moment. Over the last nine games, he's averaging 272 passing yards, two total touchdowns, was only intercepted four times, and was sacked on average 3.2 times per game.

On Saturday night, we saw Scott Linehan put the ball in his hands on a couple designed runs that nearly scored touchdowns. It was an excellent addition to the offense that could help fix the Cowboys red zone woes. Getting Dak Prescott running on some designed runs or quarterback draws could help slow down Aaron Donald and the pass rush.

The Cowboys needed every bit of Dak Prescott magic to overcome a stingy Seattle Seahawks defense in their Wild Card win and they'll need him to step up again this week against the Rams. Every team is going to attempt to take away the running game to make Dak beat you and as he continues to mature, he's getting more and more comfortable doing that. He's comfortable with the big stage and the big moments.

NFL Research on Twitter

Dak Prescott Since 2016, including playoffs * 15 game-winning drives (Most in NFL) * 13 primetime QB wins (Most in NFL) * 19 rush TD (Most in NFL by QB) #DallasCowboys @dak

No Quarterback in the NFL has more game winning drives, rushing touchdowns, or wins in primetime than Dak Prescott. When we talk about Dak Prescott, we talk a lot about the things that he can't do as a passer and deservedly so, he still has some growing to do in that area, but in the things that you can't objectively quantify -- mental toughness, resiliency, clutchness, will, determination -- Dak is one of the best in the NFL. He's as mentally tough as they come in the NFL and he doesn't let the spotlight or the game situation phase him. He has that stuff that's hard to put your finger on.

The Dallas Cowboys will need more of that on Saturday night in Los Angeles. The Rams can score and can score in bunches and if the Cowboys defense starts sluggish or has an off night, they'll need Dak Prescott to keep them in the game. Even if the defense has a good game, Dak still has to come through in the passing game and on the ground to give the Cowboys a chance to pull off the upset.

The Dallas Cowboys are going to try to run the ball against the Rams on Saturday. That's their identity; run the ball, control the clock, and be efficient in the passing game. Prescott, either with his legs or with his arm will have to make some plays to extend drives and keep the Rams offense on the sideline. He'll need to be sharp in the red zone to convert those opportunities into touchdowns. Settling for field goals against the Rams is how the Cowboys get beat.

This matchup with the Rams looks to set up nicely for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, yet how things look on paper doesn't mean much when the lights go on and the whistle blows. It's a big stage and it's another win-or-go-home game for the Cowboys (like every game has been over the last nine weeks). In a big game, you need big time players, and the Cowboys have one in quarterback Dak Prescott.



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