The greatest teams in NFL History have unshakable foundation at the most important positions - Quarterback and Head Coach. The truly elite teams in NFL History have pillars of stability here, but more than the great teams they have an unbreakable bond between the two. It's what the World Champion New England Patriots have in Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. It's what the Dallas Cowboys used to have in Tony Romo and Jason Garrett, until everything fell apart.
During the recent NFL Combine Jason Garrett was interviewed by NFL Network's Melissa Stark and Steve Mariucci. At the beginning of the interview Melissa and Mooch question Jason Garrett about something he stated during one of his portions with the media, that he hadn't spoken to quarterback Tony Romo since the season ended.
Mariucci playfully jokes about how preposterous this is and proceeds to grab his iPhone, saying that he's going to FaceTime Tony Romo. This is a move that a lot of celebrities are seemingly making these days as Jimmy Kimmel got to FaceTime with Romo before hosting the Oscars, but when this particular call happened Jason Garrett turned a shade of red that would make his hair look dark.
Ultimately Tony Romo doesn't answer the call and an obviously relieved Jason Garrett goes on with the rest of the interview, but the question really is one that most members of Cowboys Nation have asked themselves since seeing/hearing about this - how have Jason Garrett and Tony Romo not communicated at all since the season ended?
"Yea I just haven't... you know, I don't talk to a lot of players this time of year." -Jason Garrett when asked about why he hasn't spoken with Tony Romo since the Dallas Cowboys season ended.
This interview took place on March 2nd, and I'm here to tell you that the dish Jason Garrett served in it is a whole bunch of bologna. Here's why.
March 8th, 2014: North Carolina At Duke
Over the last few years - yes, years - we've seen that Tony Romo and Jason Garrett have an affinity for Duke basketball. This affinity is made all the more large by their relationship with Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. The Duke rivalry with the University of North Carolina is one of the best that sports has to offer, and in 2014 Tony Romo and Jason Garrett took it in together in person.
This game happened on March 8th, 2014, but Jason Garrett told us on March 2nd, 2017 that he doesn't typically talk to a lot of players this time of year... right? That can't be possible then because the dates match up so similarly. Maybe he meant in terms of the NFL calendar?
To be totally fair to Jason Garrett the 2014 NFL Combine took place February 19th through 25th, so this was a good while after the NFL point-in-time in which he's referring to, but it is worth noting that Free Agency began in 2014 just three days after this photo was taken.
March 2015: Another Duke Trip, With Double The Party
One year later the Cowboys were coming off of a painful Divisional loss in Green Bay - where Dez Bryant definitely caught it - and had an offseason decision to make between essentially re-signing Dez Bryant or DeMarco Murray.
It was the latter that joined Romo, Garrett, and Jason Witten as the foursome spent a few days at Duke and took in the annual UNC game on March 5th, 2015. The annual Scouting Combine was the previous February (17th through 23rd) as it had been a year before, but NFL Free Agency didn't begin until March 10th, 2015.
We see here again that not only is Jason Garrett with Tony Romo in back-to-back years around the calendar time he suggests that he's not with any players, but he's actually with multiple players. We now have two prime examples of "Whoa Coach, what are you talking about?" to chin-scratch over; however, there's one more.
March 28th, 2016: A Jason Garrett Birthday Trip To The Boss
The third March of Romo/Garrett shenanigans didn't involve a high-quality college basketball tilt, but instead a special 50th birthday present for Coach Garrett to go see Bruce Springsteen at Madison Square Garden.
For some reason Tony Romo, Jason Witten and Jason Garrett were at the @springsteen show tonight at MSG
Of course with DeMarco Murray having lost his mind an offseason before when he went to Philadelphia, he was not part of the special club's little trip in 2016. We did however see Romo, Garrett, and Jason Witten rocking out to one of the best music has to offer.
The 2016 NFL Scouting Combine was February 23rd through February 29th and Free Agency began on March 9th, so the 2016 'Boys Trip took a little longer to happen than in years prior. The fact of the matter though is that Jason Garrett does indeed hang out with players - let alone Tony Romo specifically - around this time of year, while he told Melissa Stark and Steve Mariucci that he did not.
It's an unfortunate reality that the relationship between Jason Garrett and Tony Romo is seemingly not as strong as it once was. It's understandable though for all of us when you consider the events that have transpired since "Born In The USA" was sung by the most iconic members of America's Team. Also for what it's worth this year's Duke/UNC game at Chapel Hill took place four days after the Super Bowl, so it may have been more difficult to attend than in year's past, plus you know the whole fractured relationship thing.
The fate of Tony Romo is one that is still up in the air, and a road that appears to have no end in sight. This has been one of the more exhaustive things that Cowboys fans have had to go through in quite some time as it has been an emotional roller coaster full of debate along the way. Whatever happens with Tony Romo though, it's fair to assume that things will never be the same between him and Jason Garrett.
Takeaway Tuesday: Prescott’s Legs Give Offense a Much Needed Spark
When the Dallas Cowboys took the field last Sunday against the New York Giants, they did so very differently than last week, starting with a 64-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott to connect with WR Tavon Austin in the third play of the game. Although there are still many things this team must continue to work on, they looked like a very improved unit in week 2.
Here are my main takeaways from the Dallas Cowboys' first win of the year. Let me know what yours are in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL and let's talk football!
Cowboys' Secondary Capable of Holding Top WR
If there was one player who could've changed the outcome for the New York Giants, it was WR Odell Beckham Jr. Widely recognized as one of the best wideouts in the nation, Beckham was the biggest challenge the cornerbacks, led by Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie, have had in the first two weeks.
None of them followed Beckham all over the field, each stayed on their side of the field and still managed to limit him to four receptions for 51 yards in nine targets. The Giant's offense is not known for being one of the best in the league, but it's the fact that this defense was able to limit exactly the player they needed to. They did their job.
Also, props to the defensive line for keeping the pressure on Eli Manning.
Taco Charlton Was Dominant VS Nate Solder
With Randy Gregory ruled out for the game, Taco Charlton had a golden opportunity to stay on the field for more snaps. He took advantage of this, as he finished the night with three tackles, one for a loss, a sack and a fumble recovery.
Charlton still has a long way to go in order to prove he was worthy of a first round pick, but we can't deny he hasn't stopped developing. It will be interesting to see how he does now that Gregory is expected to return for week 3.
Dak Prescott's Legs Give Offense a Needed Spark
One of the things I liked the most about the Cowboys' game versus the Giants was how Dak Prescott was utilized. Criticized after a poor performance in Carolina, Prescott came out with a chip on his shoulder.
We've been talking a lot about how Scott Linehan must play Prescott to his strengths and that's precisely what he did by letting Dak run for 45 yards in seven carries. It's completely understandable if the Cowboys don't want to run him as much as the Panthers do with Cam Newton, but the truth is, if #4 hurts defenses with his leg, Ezekiel Elliott won't receiver all of the defense's attention.
Also, shoutout to how they used Tavon Austin. With Elliott, Prescott and Austin being a threat on option plays, this offense could take a step on the right direction.
Rico Gathers Will Be Used
The Cowboys' Rico Gathers project is moving in the right direction. The 2016 sixth-round pick was active for the first time in his career last Sunday. The first question that popped into our heads was whether or not he'd be actually used in the game. He was.
He even managed to get open in the end zone in a play that could've been TD but Prescott didn't throw a good pass. However, the mere fact that he was able to get open and that the coaches actually put him on the field told us a lot about his future. Cowboys Nation should be excited to see him involved.
Dallas Cowboys vs the New York Giants: Stock Up and Stock Down
The Dallas Cowboys bounced back in a big way against the New York Giants in week two. Several players bounced back as well after struggling a bit in week one against the Carolina Panthers. Other players continued to struggle or saw a drop in play from week one to week two.
Here are the Dallas Cowboys who saw their stock rise and some who saw their stock fall this week.
Jaylon Smith, Linebacker
Jaylon Smith has been really good to start the season and had an excellent game against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. Every day Smith is removed from the devastating knee injury he suffered in his final game at Notre Dame is a day closer to realizing the elite play that many expected of him before the injury.
Pro Football Reference credited the starting middle linebacker with seven solo tackles and three assists. Pro Football Focus had Jaylon Smith with 3 stops -- plays that were a "loss" for the offense -- while becoming a stabilizing force for the linebacker position.
Byron Jones, Cornerback
The fourth year player who has made a successful move from safety to cornerback, Byron Jones has been everything the Dallas Cowboys hoped he'd be when they made him their first round pick back in 2015.
Shame that it took so long to get him to cornerback.
Against a potent New York Giants receiving corp, Jones only allowed one reception on five targets on Sunday night. He also had six solo tackles and three stops, per Pro Football Focus.
The one reception that Pro Football Focus credited to Byron Jones was by Running Back Saquon Barkley and that catch went for zero yards.
So on the night, Byron Jones allowed zero yards into his coverage areas. He's really good at cornerback and is taking to Kris Richard's coaching quite nicely.
Dak Prescott, Quarterback
After much gnashing of teeth after the week one loss to the Carolina Panthers, Dak Prescott rebounded with a strong, confident performance in the Dallas Cowboys week two win over the Giants.
He completed 64% of his passes for 160 yards and ran for 45 yards on seven carries. The passing yardage isn't huge, but on a night in which the defense was absolutely dominant, Dak Prescott made the plays that needed to be made for the Dallas Cowboys to win the game.
He was great in the read-option on Sunday night, perfectly executing it for several really good runs.
The throw to Tavon Austin on the third offensive play from scrimmage was a great throw that set the tone for the Dallas Cowboys the rest of the night. His yards per attempt and passer rating were both improved from week one and he just looked better.
If Dak Prescott can continue to put together performances like this, the Dallas Cowboys will win a lot of games this season.
Connor Williams, Left Guard
After getting pushed around for much of last week's game by Kawann Short, rookie Connor Williams rebounded with a really nice game.
Williams didn't allow a pressure all night and the offensive line was much better as a whole. The unit didn't allow a sack against the New York Giants.
According to Pro Football Focus, Elliott's biggest run of the night came behind Connor Williams at left guard.
Williams is an important piece to the puzzle and if he's playing well, it will provide better pockets for Dak Prescott.
Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver
After seeing only 10 snaps in week one, Tavon Austin was on the field for nearly twice as many and made them count as he ended with two receptions for 79 yards and had one rush for 15 yards.
That's 94 total yards on three touches. The "Tavon Effect" was in full force last night as the team used his speed to their advantage. Even when the ball didn't go his direction he had an effect on the game.
Damien Wilson, Linebacker
Seemingly the odd man out after the Dallas Cowboys selected Leighton Vander Esch in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Damien Wilson had an excellent game in his limited playing time.
Wilson played 17 defensive snaps and 22 snaps on special teams and was credited with three solo tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. He's was excellent on Sunday night in the snaps he was given.
It's unlikely that we'll see a big snap increase for him with the talent ahead of him on the depth chart, but he provided very valuable snaps when given the opportunity.
Terrance Williams, Wide Receiver
Terrance Williams who has been a starter for several years now with the Dallas Cowboys, and even started week one, saw his snap count drop from week one to week two. After seeing 19 snaps against the Carolina Panthers, he was onlyon the field for 10 snaps in week two.
There's been speculation as the Dallas Cowboys have resigned former Wide Receiver Brice Butler that Terrance Williams could be the odd man out of the wide receiver room. That snap count is either an indication of his status on the team or the game plan they had against the New York Giants.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Williams moving forward.
La'el Collins, Right Tackle
A week after allowing four pressures, most along the offensive line, La'el Collins allowed three more pressures on Sunday night against the New York Giants. He was the only offensive lineman to allow multiple pressures and appeared to struggle with the Giants blitz and stunt schemes.
The New York Giants had rushers go unblocked at times on Sunday night.
Dak Prescott wasn't sacked against the Giants, but he had to avoid some pressure on that side to throw the ball away.
Collins has to be better against the pass rush going forward to keep Dak Prescott clean and able to play better.
Dallas Cowboys Tight Ends
The Dallas Cowboys' tight end group of Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, and Rico Gathers did not have a single catch to their name on Sunday night. There were opportunities that were missed, like the Dak Prescott overthrow to Rico Gathers in the end zone. However, not being able to come up with a single catch against the Giants is a bit surprising.
Speaking frankly, their isn't a receiving threat on the TE depth chart. They need to become a factor at some point to help take pressure of Dak Prescott and give him another option in the passing game. The Dallas Cowboys prefer to run most of their formations with a tight end on the field. They need to be a factor
The Cowboys Nation Twitter account asked David Helman from DallasCowboys.com to look up when the last time the Dallas Cowboys tight ends finished a game without a reception.
Mark Lane from WFAA.com and the Texans Wire found the information.
@HelmanDC @CowboysNation @SullyBaldHead @Marcus_Mosher @CHQ_Jordan @FO_ScottKacsmar When you do, Dave, tell them that Mark Lane found it at 1:15 a.m. Central Time. It was Dec. 1, 2016 at the #Vikings. https://t.co/XS3FVrWhT8
It's unbelievable that there was a game played in which Jason Witten was around for that he didn't have a reception, and yet, there it is.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Were there any players that moved the needle in either direction for you?
Let us know in the comment section.
Will Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods Return This Week?
The Dallas Cowboys have been without one of their defensive starters for the first two weeks of 2018; safety Xavier Woods. A preseason hamstring injury has kept him in street clothes so far, but Woods could make his season debut this week against the Seattle Seahawks.
The positive update on Woods' status was provided by Owner Jerry Jones in his regular radio appearance this morning.
Jerry Jones on @1053thefan said it appears Randy Gregory (concussion) will be available to play Sunday at Seattle. Jones also thinks Xavier Woods (hamstring) has a chance to play this week after missing the first two games
Gregory has already played this year, suffering his concussion and leaving the season opener against the Carolina Panthers. Even in his absence last week, the Cowboys got six sacks on Eli Manning in their victory over the Giants.
That's not to say getting Randy back isn't noteworthy, but the real news here is the potential for Xavier Woods to take his place as the team's starting free safety.
While Woods has been out, Jeff Heath has been the free safety while Kavon Frazier has started at strong. The plan going into 2018 was for Heath to play strong safety, putting him closer to the line of scrimmage where his skills are best suited.
Xavier was one of the team's most exciting rookies last year, flashing the potential to be a game-changing presence.
Woods' upside is one of the reasons some fans haven't been as desperate about the Earl Thomas situation. While Thomas would be an upgrade in almost any defense, including the Cowboys, the chance to see what Xavier has mitigated disappointment over not acquiring the All-Pro safety.
If Woods can provide what the team hopes for at free safety, it has a positive ripple effect for the roster. Not only do you upgrade at FS, but Heath moving to his ideal role at SS is another improvement.
It also moves Frazier, who's been solid in his playing time, into a valuable bench role. It gives Dallas depth at safety which, up til now, they've lacked in Xavier's absence.
The loser in this deal would likely be either veteran backup Ibraheim Campbell, who Dallas signed two weeks ago to deal with their depth issues, or undrafted rookie Tyree Robinson. Robinson has been with the team since they signed him immediately after the 2018 NFL Draft.
With talk that the Cowboys are looking to bring back WR Brice Butler, a roster spot will be needed. Xavier Woods' return could allow for that spot to come from safety rather than receiver, where Dallas is hesitant to part with any of its current players.
In the end, all we have right now is a "maybe" about Woods' status. But with Dallas' defense already performing well this year, the thought of getting even better is enticing. With the tough road environment of Seattle and Russell Wilson coming up this Sunday, getting Xavier back could be timely.
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