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Sifting For Gold…

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As an analogy, you could apply “sifting for gold” to quite a few different aspects of football. Free Agency. The building of the infamous war room draft board. Wittling the training camp roster from 80 to 53. But the one science of football that typically escapes the thoughts of most fans is how teams decide which plays they will keep in their play book and which one’s are dismissed as ineffective and/or are not complementory to the talent available.

That last bit is important to understand because the Cowboy’s playbook from last year and this year should be very different. It’s not so much because of the lack of success experienced with those plays, as it is due to the difference in the talent set and the difference in the coaches comprehension of said talent. Obviously, with T.O. gone, the plays that take a long time to develop very well may be all but extinct. Granted, Austin possesses some ability in stretching the defense, but it’s not likely they will rely on his ability to ultimately win games, as they seemed to do to a fault with T.O..

With the trio of backs and duo of TE’s the Cowboy’s have, a quick strike offense is likely the direction this team is headed in. Furthermore, the Cowboy’s now have a better understanding of what Felix, Choice, and Bennett can offer as weapons. The Cowboy’s will be looking to put together a play book that exercises each of their talents in different ways to keep opposing defenses off balance.

With that, I would like to take a moment to remind those of you who are concerned about every report indicating that Romo and company don’t seem to be insync, to consider that the play’s they are likely running are new to everyone, including the veterans. The idea behind these practices are to familiarize the players with different plays and, more importantly, to slowly acclimate said players conditioning to football ready

Once preseason begins, the process of sifting for gold, so-to-speak, begins, as they determine against viable opposing team defenses what play’s can be effectively ran, which players can execute said plays, and which players don’t fit with the final playbook they are able to construct as a result of the success and failures they experience through trial and error.

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I am 35, married and a father of 2 boys. I have been a Cowboys fan since Jimmy Johnson took over; not because I had anything against Tom Landry, but because it just so happens I was old enough to start following and understanding football right as that new era began. Since then, I haven't missed games if I could help it.

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10 Comments
  • http://www.footballuniversity.org Football University

    It’s important for teams to really sift through their players and see who can make things happen on the field. All too often are players overlooked and not given the opportunity to excel and show their true potential. With T.O. no longer in Dallas, it’s time for the Cowboy’s players to really step it up.

    • bags030404

      Many times with the amount of money teams spend on premiere players, many are over looked. The time is now to find who on this team can perform. Those that cannot should be shown the door!

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Doran Palmer

    You know Bags, that’s a really good point. Teams are spending so much money on players out there that the talent pool is kind of skewed. I mean look at Haynesworth – he played his ass off during two contract years in a row, but what if he slacks off now? It was a voiced concern all over the league when there were rumors that he’d be the 100 million dollar man about what a risk that was for a guy like him.

    He always comes to play, but there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he at least presented a good coincidence by doing so during contract years. If he slacks off now and doesn’t play like he has the past two years, even if there are other guys on the team that play better than he does, because of his contract he’ll be the one starting.

    Just as Jonathan pointed out with the playbook changing from deep and slow developing plays to shorter and quicker plays with TO gone – having TO here prevented slower guys from getting as many opportunities. Look at Crayton, the guy has great hands but isn’t a speedy receiver. Most of the time when he caught the ball it was only after Romo had waited for TO to get open and he didn’t.

  • Jonathan

    Anybody care to conduct a study measuring the productivity of players after being awarded a decent contract? I’d really be interested to see the results of that.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Doran Palmer

    Yes sir Jonathan, I’d be mighty interested to see that as well.

    I’d be more interested to see Ken Hamlin do better this year though, since he’s the one guy on our team that flopped the year after getting his contract. Maybe it really was Roy Willy screwing him up. I hope.

  • Jonathan

    I’m giving Ken Hamlin the benefit of the doubt. I think I may have mentioned this in an earlier comment: 1. Our pass defense finished the year ranked 5th in the league and FS was the only position that wasn’t an injury/suspension turnstile in our secondary. 2. Ken Hamlin is the QB of the defense. That means Hamlin was responsible for ensuring that everyone was in the correct position. Considering that he was dealing with several rookies and subpar SS’s, it’s easy to see why he didn’t have his best year. 3. Most of the criticism that is being levied on Hamlin are the result of two plays in the 4th quarter against the Baltimore Ravens. If Hamlin makes those critical endgame tackles, chances are the Cowboy’s would have made the play-offs, and since the Eagles game results wouldn’t have mattered, the Cowboy’s would have probably kept several starters off the field, including Romo. So who know’s what would have happened from there, but I do know that we probably wouldn’t be hearing too much criticism of Hamlin’s play.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Doran Palmer

    I was thinking that Hamlin wasn’t performing well enough since week three or four, I forget which. The runs from Baltimore were the result of several guys out of position presnap, Hamlin just couldn’t wrap up the bigger backs.

  • Jonathan

    The significant difference, statistically speaking, from 07 to 08 is interceptions (2007 – 5/2008 – 1). In term’s of overall tackles and solo tackles he actually improved. I think the dip in interceptions might be due to teams not needing to go deep on the Cowboy’s considering the 10 yard cushion our CB’s were giving WR’s. In fact, only 7 passes for the entire season went above 40 yards, which ties for 6th place in the league. There were 37 passes that went beyond 20 yards in 08 and the Cowboys were tied for 3rd in the league.

    What specifically about his play do you feel declined from 07 to 08? To me, in many cases, he was a bright spot on defense, laying the proverbial wood on quite a few players if my memory serves me correctly. Though, admittedly, my specific memories of games and his play in particular is fading with the advance of the new season.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Doran Palmer

    And that’s where I’m at on it too, they are fading and most have faded out.

    I remember seeing him a little late getting to plays and being out of position a couple of times. But as Bags has pointed out to me a few times now, Hamlin had to compensate for poor SS play a lot more in 08 than in 07.

    So I’m not sure if he slacked off or if he just wasn’t in as good of a position to stand out. I just hope we find out this year because Sensabaugh should be able to hold his own quite well, compared to Roy Willy and Keith Davis.

  • Jonathan

    I can’t wait to see the results. I think it’s a safe assumption that we can expect quite a few more interceptions for the Cowboy’s defense. Of course, that isn’t saying much.

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Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Headlines - Forget the Triplets: Cowboys Need The Underrated to Shine in 2016
Ashley Landis / The Dallas Morning News

For better or worse, the Cowboys don’t even need to play football to be all over national TV. I guess it’s just part of being the one and only America’s Team. For the second consecutive week, Fox Sports had a Dallas Cowboys’ player on set for Fox’s “Undisputed.”

Just a week ago, Brice Butler made waves with some controversial comments that failed to make him look like a “great teammate.”

This time, Fox’s guest was Cowboys’ Cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Unlike Butler, I really think we should give Scandrick credit for being a very good teammate, and acting like one on his TV appearance.

Throughout the segment, it feels as if Orlando is being tricked into saying something against his teammates. Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe start bashing on Dez Bryant‘s performance and the fact that he should be replaced.

Of course, this is the kind of stuff fans in Cowboys Nation are thinking about. Heck, I really wouldn’t even mind if Dez isn’t wearing a star next season. However, I really disliked Butler’s comments when asked if he would’ve done a better job if given the same opportunities as Dez.

Scandrick’s responses were awesome though. When asked if he would defend Dez, he didn’t even hesitate.

“I don’t think he’s lost any confidence. He’s one of the most confident players I’ve ever been around. I think it can all be fixed. I think he just needs to get back to work and get back to the basics.” – Orlando Scandrick on Dez Bryant.

Scandrick also answered questions about what went wrong with the Cowboys this season by pointing out the fact they lost one of their best players because of a suspension, and some injuries. But he also said what’s been in our minds for a long time. When asked what was the biggest reason they struggled, he said some painful, yet truthful words: “We played some bad football against some very good teams.”

Later, he was asked about how Sean Lee’s absence affected the defense, he insisted they didn’t step up. At the end of the day, the NFL is a league in which you can’t be that dependent on a single player.

Sean Lee is an awesome player, but I think we’d all like to see this defense be a little less dependent on him.

Scandrick even had to defend Dak Prescott.

Dak was highly criticized after a sophomore season in which he struggled, alongside the entire team. But in the words of Orlando, we should “give him time.” Dak had a lot on his plate, but he made a lot of progress for the Cowboys.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Orlando Scandrick’s time in Dallas may be coming to an end, especially with young guys like Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis taking over. He’s signed through 2019, so who knows; maybe we see him wearing the star for a bit longer.

“It’s always a possibility.” – Orlando Scandrick on potentially not returning to Dallas next season.

Even still, it’s nice to see him support his football team and his friends on a show which featured a non-starting Cowboys’ wide receiver taking shots against his team. Orlando Scandrick deserves an applause.

Tell me what you think about “Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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Dallas Cowboys

Should Cowboys Pursue Veteran Backup at Quarterback?

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys en Español: Cooper Rush
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys only have two quarterbacks under contract right now, starter Dak Prescott and backup Cooper Rush. With only three years of combined experience between them, one could argue that a veteran presence would be useful. Should Dallas make a veteran QB a free-agent priority in the 2018 offseason?

Of course, there’s plenty of other QB experience on the Cowboys staff. Head Coach Jason Garrett played professionally from 1989-2004, and started his coaching career with quarterbacks.

Scott Linehan has been coaching offense with an emphasis on the passing game for 30 years.

Kellen Moore, who is taking over for the departed Wade Wilson as quarterbacks coach, has played very recently and will bring a fresh perspective.

However, losing Wilson’s experience from the room, and the lack of any veteran player at QB, shouldn’t be dismissed.

Dak Prescott has said veteran Mark Sanchez — who was with Dallas in 2016 — was a major help during his whirlwind rookie season. Tony Romo enjoyed veteran advice from guys like Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, and Kyle Orton throughout his playing career.

This isn’t to say Dallas would want to bring in a veteran to knock Cooper Rush down the depth chart. After a surprising preseason, Rush took the backup job from Kellen Moore and certainly has intriguing upside.

If the Cowboys were to add a veteran, that player would have to come in with the understanding he’s competing with Cooper and may not be guaranteed a job.

The good news is that it’ll be a buyer’s market for veteran quarterbacks this offseason.

Guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, and Matt Moore could all be available. Even a player with more pedigree, such as Sam Bradford, may have trouble finding starting work with many jobs taken among the NFL’s 32 teams.

Dallas could even consider bringing back Mark Sanchez, given his previous relationship with Dak Prescott. He only had a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

Given Prescott’s seeming durability, Dallas will likely only keep two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in 2018 and for years to come. Because of that, they may be content to focus on Dak and Cooper Rush, and just get through the offseason with training camp bodies.

However, the case can certainly be made for adding another veteran player with the desire to teach to help these young quarterbacks develop. Prescott was not the same guy in 2017 that we saw as a rookie, and perhaps the absence of guys like Sanchez and Tony on the sideline had something to do with that.

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Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal is a Good Hire for Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal Is A Good Hire For Cowboys

Yesterday, it was announced that the Dallas Cowboys will hire Sanjay Lal to be their new wide receivers coach. Lal spent 2017 with the Indianapolis Colts in the same position, but has made multiple stops around the NFL prior to joining the Cowboys staff.

Most recently and arguably most notably, Sanjay Lal was the receivers coach for both the New York Jets (2012-2014) and the Buffalo Bills (2015-2016). This means he coached on Rex Ryan’s staff for two different teams, with two very similar offensive philosophies.

Run the football.

As seen in the video below, Sanjay Lal has experience working as the wide outs coach for an offense with a run-first philosophy. He even says himself that their offense in New York was “ground and pound,” but notes that “without a pass game there’s no pound.”

Cowboys fans became all too familiar with the truth behind that statement during the 2017 season, as even solid efforts in the run game were rendered meaningless by their lack of explosion through the air.

Jets Nation Inside Camp: Sanjay Lal Mic’d Up

Jets wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal is mic’d up during training camp, and also discusses trying to play pro football before becoming a coach in the NFL.

A lot has been made of Sanjay Lal’s lack of 1,000-yard receivers during his time as a coach. The offensive philosophies of the teams which he coached for, however, show why this criticism is flimsy.

It’s quite possible the Cowboys will once again be without a 1,000 yard pass catcher this season, but if Ezekiel Elliott and the run game are clicking, and Dak Prescott is spreading the ball to different targets, this stat won’t mean a thing.

Lal was also the coach in Buffalo when Sammy Watkins had the best years of his career, including a 1,000-yard season.

During that stint he coached Robert Woods to productive seasons as well. Now Woods is a dangerous target for the Los Angeles Rams after being coached by Lal for multiple seasons.

These were also the same years that quarterback Tyrod Taylor was at his best.

While in New York, with the Jets, Lal’s most productive receiver was Jeremy Kerley, who finished with 827 yards in 2012 and 523 in 2013. What’s important to note here is that Kerley played as a slot receiver for much of his time as a Jet.

The Cowboys lacked any type of production from the slot in 2017, but maybe Lal can change that by getting the best out of Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer, as he did with Kerley.

Bryan Broaddus on Twitter

Know that some believe he had a real shot to be an OC in this league one day. https://t.co/1s21w2jZGR

All indications from those “in the know” suggest Sanjay Lal is on his way to becoming an offensive coordinator soon. Many believe he has the smarts and the football IQ to command an offense himself, as soon as he gets the right opportunity.

Maybe that opportunity will come down the line in Dallas, where he can continue to coach within that “ground and pound” style, which he has done for many years while also implementing elements of his own passing game expertise.

Everyone has been critical of the Cowboys’ inability to bring in external hires, and to spark up new/creative offensive ideas. Lal has spent time among some of the smartest offensive minds in football.

Maybe he’s the man to bring in that outside creativity this offense seems to lack.

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