As I was watching NFL Network a few days ago, they showed an interview reporters had with Roy Williams before a tournament at Cowboys Golf Club. This is Roy's first public appearance to talk about the Dallas Cowboys 2010 season. The reporters wanted to know how Roy was going to prepare for the upcoming season and, Cowboys fans favorite topic...our first round draft pick.
" I know people are thinking that he is going come in and take my spot (with his signature nervous smile. Like he just dropped another one of Romo's balls that hit him right in the hands. Hoping that he can make things right with the the leader of the team. Going back into the huddle as the camera is zoomed into his unshielded facemask) and all that mess and you know it's not all about that," Roy comments about Dez Bryant's immediate impact on the team and being a threat to take his number 1 receiver spot. Roy continues, "I don't think it's gonna happen anyways". He then tries to smooth over his bold statement by including ,"I embrace the challenge and what not, but I just think he's gonna come in and help this football team win 3 more ball games". Yeah...of course, he was brought in to make us win more games and eventually win us a Super Bowl! Way to go out on a limb Roy!...drafting a receiver first round was to fill a void that you still haven't been able to do on your own since receiving your 5 year, $45 million contract. Jerry Jones got Dez Bryant for that reason and more. Roy needs to start reading the writing on the walls, or at least admit to it. It's time for a major upgrade Roy, and earn your money!
I just don't understand how he still seems to not have chemistry with Tony Romo. Romo has no problems getting the ball out to anyone else on the team. But, practically, every ball that is thrown to Number 11's way is out of reach some how...some way. Let's include all that time that was spent in the offseason trying to get a rhythm with the routes. It just boggles my mind! Roy Williams is a 2006 Pro Bowl Wide Receiver and he has, less than, half the stats as what Miles Austin and Jason Witten, with Miles only starting 12 games.
Roy replies to the upcoming competition of this years best receiver in the draft, Dez Bryant, with "I'm just gonna go through this like I'm the man...like I've always been and it's never gonna change". Really? Do you really need to make that statement Roy? This isn't a game of opinions and 'he said, she said' stuff. This is a game of stats. Obviously, Number 11's stats don't add up to being "the man". It's plain and simple. Why would he say something like that? You never hear Michael Irvin or Emmitt Smith needing to claim to the media that they are 'the man', when competition for their position is a factor. This is a situation where it's not a spoken matter. This is something that should just be known. It should be something that is known throughout your team, your fans, media, and even people who don't follow closely to the Dallas Cowboys, but know the NFL.
Another thing that bothers me about that comment is that Roy should be truly embracing his new teammate. He should be completely hopeful for the team and where it is headed. Most importantly, he needs to be a veteran leader to Dez Bryant. Someone, whom Dez will be looking toward to give him a little guidance on the field when times get rough for the rookie. Dez can't always count on Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin for everything. There is a time when someone just needs to step up and show the rookie 'the ropes'. So, I guess this ends up being placed on Miles Austin's shoulders. Well....why not? Miles worked his way from the bottom of the roster to the absolute top. Who else would we want to show our, 'up and coming' star, rookie wide receiver how to work hard and making something big of himself. Who else to give Dez a little push 'here, but not there' kind of attitude?...especially while they are on the field.
So what is our "Number 1" Receiver's job for the offseason? Wade Phillips wants for Roy not to be so upright whenever he is coming off his routes. "It's just little certain things they want me to do, and I'm willing to try and do them to be a better player" Roy states to the media. I don't mean to nit pick but, when does Master Yoda come into the picture and tell Roy "try you must not! you either do or you don't"? He just needs to step up and be that leading receiver on the field, without any questions. I know that he has his own particular way of running routes, but clearly it's not working right now. I know that the stat of 8 dropped balls is all that's going to be talked about with this upcoming season, from start to finish. It's not the 8 drops exactly...but in a ways it is. Any person who truly knows football that... Some times,...(just sometimes!...notice sarcasm)receivers don't run their routes correctly and it's not the QB's fault. Look at T.O. and the interceptions that he caused Romo before he was given the axe by Jerry.
Look! Seriously! I didn't write this article just to bash Roy Williams like the rest of Dallas Cowboys fans have been. I am all for improvement and doing everything in a very positive manner, but I am just being realistic here with his comments. I am just trying to articulate the frustration that has come from dedicated Dallas Cowboys fans for the past year and a half. They want their moneys worth out of him. I am sure Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, Wade Phillips, Ray Sherman, Jason Garrett, and Tony Romo do too...especially when it's 3rd and long and we need a 'go to' receiver when Witten and Austin have been overused.
Roy said of his highly criticized dropped balls. "I would bet anybody in this world I won't come anywhere close to what I had last year," he also said, "It won't even be half. You want to take that bet? I won't even come close. I promise you. I promise you, you, you, you and you and every fan out there. I won't even come close." I truly hope so. I truly hope that Roy doesn't gets that nervous energy out of him before the season starts...cause this is probably going to be this seasons main topic. Welcome to the Dalls Cowboys Roy!...as if you need a reintroduction to the constant pressure of being a wide receiver for America's Team. I know that Dez has the passion and the talent, let's see what happens next.
Don't be intimidated Roy! Just do your job and please, please, please earn your money!...that's the nicest any Dallas Cowboys fan will ever be concerning everything that's gone on since mid-2008...don't ever get use to it.
Cowboys Wishlist: 3 Things I Want to See in Kellen Moore’s Offense
The Dallas Cowboys offense will mostly remain the same in terms of players. However, a big change is coming with new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore taking over the talented unit. In a special edition of Cowboys Wishlist, I'll share the three big things I want to see in Moore's offense in 2019.
Let me know what you want to see in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL!
Wish #1: Frequent Read Option
Despite Dak Prescott's skills as a runner, rarely did we see the Cowboys run read option plays. For a team that seems to have the perfect duo for these plays, they certainly seemed to have wasted it over the last few years. This is an offense that has plenty of talent to be struggling as much as they did in the red zone last year.
Imagine being concerned about Ezekiel Elliott getting the ball and Dak Prescott keeping it at the same time? Not to mention the play action threat with a group of receivers led by Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb... oh, and a veteran tight end in Jason Witten who might be older but whose hands are very reliable.
The Athletic's Bob Sturm pointed out Prescott's average of 4.46 yards per carry and 18 touchdowns in the red zone between 2016 and 2018. The league average for all players is 2.64 and there's no one close to over four yards and over 10 touchdowns in the league. Dak has been dangerous when using his legs and yet, the Cowboys haven't used the read option as much. I hope that changes with Kellen Moore taking over.
Wish #2: Use Tight Ends More
I'm still impressed by how little the Cowboys utilized their tight ends in 2018. In fact, as Bobby Belt noted on Twitter a few months ago, this has happened consistently in Scott Linehan's career.
One thing you consistently see when Scott Linehan takes over an offense is a drop in the starting tight end's production. Randy McMichael, Byron Chamberlain, and Jason Witten all saw drops in yards per catch, receptions per game, and yards per game once Linehan took over.
Last year, Blake Jarwin had only three games with more than three targets. In those games, he racked up 56, 45 and 119 yards. This makes me wonder if the real problem at tight end last season was more about how they were utilized rather than the players at the position.
With Jason Witten back, Jarwin and the future Hall of Famer could split the snaps. Hopefully, Kellen Moore gives them a more active role on the offense. I really think we'll see way more from them.
Wish #3: Pre-Snap Motion
Pre-snap motion is truly a thing of beauty. The simple fact of getting a player in motion before the ball is snapped can go a long way to keep a defense in its toes and cause confusion to set up a successful play. In Boise State, Moore ran an offense that heavily relied on pre-snap motions.
The first year offensive coordinator won't turn the Cowboys into the new L.A. Rams but he can add this kind of trickery to help Dallas take the next step offensively. Dak Prescott will be playing his fourth year of professional football and adding this to the offense will only help the young QB by making his reads even easier.
How Will Coaching Changes Impact Cowboys’ Backup QB Battle?
There has been a big shakeup on the Dallas Cowboys' coaching staff in 2019. Scott Linehan is out, Kellen Moore was promoted to Offensive Coordinator, and Jon Kitna was hired as the new Quarterbacks Coach. What impact will the changes have on the QB position, and especially when it comes to the battle for the backup role?
The contenders remain Cooper Rush, a third-year player who joined Dallas as an undrafted free agent in 2017, and 2018 fifth-round pick Mike White. Rush was the backup QB last season, but had a major experience edge over his rookie competition. That playing field will be more level now in White's second season.
The changes in the coaching staff even things out all the more. There is a new OC with new ideas and things to learn, and new QB coach with his own style and preferences. Rush and White are starting over together, in a way, with this new personnel.
Jon Kitna is especially intriguing in this conversation. Moore was here last year but Kitna brings a fresh set of eyes to the QB position. He also brings the resume of being an exceptional backup quarterback during his playing career, understanding what it takes to be a success in the role.
Kitna may see and appreciate things that neither Kellen Moore or Scott Linehan could.
For example, what made Cooper Rush take a backward step in his play from the 2017 preseason to last year? He was the undrafted underdog that took the backup QB job away from Kellen Moore two years ago, but last year was the incumbent trying to hold on to his spot against a new prospect.
Did Mike White being a drafted player get in Rush's head?
Jon Kitna spent a long time fighting off younger options. He may be able to help Cooper deal with that pressure.
Or perhaps it will go the other way; Kitna's fresh perspective could help push White up the depth chart. From the new QB coach's own lips, he's approaching this situation without preconceived notions:
"For me, it’s more of a clean slate. I just want to come in and help those guys and help them progress in their careers. If you get the best out of them, that’s going to be good for us at an organization.”
A few months ago I was pushing for Dallas to sign a veteran backup. With the Super Bowl in reach, I don't want to see the season go down the drain if something happens to Dak Prescott. It'd be nice to have our own Nick Foles ready to go.
While it doesn't appear the Cowboys will go that route, I'm at least comforted by having Jon Kitna's voice in the room. He could have a tremendous influence on Cooper Rush and Mike White, and perhaps upgrade the QB2 position even without a roster move.
If nothing else, I'm going to be more confident in the backup quarterback decision knowing that Kitna was involved in making it.
Despite Changes, Cowboys Offense Still Runs Through Ezekiel Elliott
We've talked a lot this offseason about the changes at Offensive Coordinator and slot receiver, or how Jason Witten's return will impact the tight end position. But while all of these will impact the Dallas Cowboys' offense in 2019, the constant feature remains Running Back Ezekiel Elliott and the rushing attack.
From 2016 to 2018, since the Cowboys drafted Elliott, Dallas has ranked 1st, 3rd, and 10th among NFL teams in "run vs. pass" play calls. That's only logical; you don't spend a fourth-overall pick on a RB and then not make him the featured player in your offense.
Zeke has certainly rewarded Dallas' decision; Elliott has led the league in total rushing two out of three years, and he led in yards-per-game in 2017 while dealing with his suspension.
Leaning on Elliott has been smart business based on his effectiveness, plus the investment in the offensive line over the last several years.
Dallas has now sunk three first-round picks (Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin), one second (Connor Williams), and now two thirds (Chaz Green and Connor McGovern) on building up their front wall. They've spent a lot of money to keep their All-Pro guys around, plus La'el Collins.
Some would try to paint the run-heavy approach as how the team is trying to hide the weaknesses of Dak Prescott at quarterback. But in 2014, with DeMarco Murray at RB and Tony Romo at QB, the Cowboys were still 3rd in the league in rush vs. pass attempts.
This isn't about Zeke or Dak, or any other specific player. This about a team philosophy that starts at the top with Jason Garrett, and that isn't going to change even with Kellen Moore taking over as the new Offensive Coordinator.
We're all excited to see what new wrinkles comes from getting rid of Scott Linehan. We highly anticipate the development of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup in the offense, coupled with the addition of Randall Cobb. We're salivating at what Blake Jarwin might become under the tutelage of the great Jason Witten.
Heck, maybe we'll see fullback Jamize Olawale's receiving skills put to more use. Perhaps gadget guys like Tavon Austin or rookie Tony Pollard will be deployed in more creative ways.
And yes, Dak Prescott's growth is another major factor in Dallas' 2019 success. It's especially interesting, and even concerning, as talks are ongoing about his long-term contract.
But make no mistake, this is still the Ezekiel Elliott show. Even if a few more of his carries become receptions in Moore's scheme, Zeke should still get the lion's share of the touches.
That's why this week's news about his incident in Las Vegas is so troubling. It probably won't lead to a suspension, but we saw what happened in 2017 when Elliott was missing for over a third of the season.
While Dallas should be better able to withstand losing Zeke now than it was two years ago, it may still be more than Prescott, Cooper, and the rest could handle. It definitely wouldn't put the Cowboys in good position to compete for a Super Bowl.
In the end, the 2019 will still come down to how well Dallas runs the ball. It's the engine; nothing else matters if the rushing game doesn't set everyone else up for success.
Don't ever take it for granted. This is still Ezekiel Elliott's offense.
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