Now that I've taken more than five minutes to form an opinion of this whole "Dan Reeves won't join the Cowboys staff" ordeal, I'm going to try to lay this out as best I can.
There are a couple of possibilities, obviously, for what happened or not with this deal, while none of them leave us with the outcome that we mostly wanted, a good outcome is still possible in some cases.
The most shared opinion among fans, myself included, so far is that Jerry Jones wouldn't give Reeves the kind of authority and control that he either was seeking, or felt he needed to do other parts of the proposed job effectively. Either way boils down to more of the same ... and the beat goes on.
Dan Reeves could have merely been a consultant for a brief time while certain things were discussed. He already shared his own opinion of the team with the media, so it makes sense that he would be brought in to consult for a limited time during the regrouping sessions this off-season. Furthermore, it's possible that the initial report out of San Francisco was either false, mistaken, or the result of the 49ers management turning down a delayed hire for Reeves while he consulted with the Cowboys first. Far fetched, I know.
If this is the case, then the Cowboys, in some way, should have let on to the fact that he wasn't going to around long, especially after a report to the contrary surfaced in California.
Still another possible reason is that the Cowboys and Dan Reeves didn't see eye to eye on things. It basically boils back down to Jones not being willing to give in and give Reeves what he thought was necessary. It kind of seems pointless for that to be the case since you bring in a revered former coach to be a consultant so you can change your current direction with his new strategies and ideas. But alas, Jerry will be Jerry.
Regardless of why it didn't work out with Reeves, though, this team must move on. It's a free for all to figure out what comes next, but I suspect there are still some major concerns to deal with before free agency and the draft come around.
The Cowboys have yet to name a replacement for Brian Stewart. As I blogged earlier, it's been reported that Todd Grantham has moved into the defensive coordinators office, and that could have just been done to allow Reeves an office while he was here. What doesn't make sense with that is going through the trouble to move Grantham to another office when Reeves could have simply taken the open office. It makes more sense that Grantham was moved into that office because they have plans for him to use it long-term.
Terrell Owens may or may not be an issue that the Cowboys are considering possible solutions for, but the media and many fans certainly are. We're about down to the fundamental responsibility of the team officials to make an announcement on him one way or another for the sake of the millions that pay their salaries. Yeah, I know. But what else can I say about it? Either they are thinking about releasing him, or they're not. Either way, make a statement to shut everyone up. It's not like Jerry Jones is apposed to telling us all that someone isn't leaving while still considering the opposite. See "Brian Stewart Won't Be Back Next Season" on the True Blue Fan Club blog.
Several free agents have yet to be decided upon with regard to the Cowboys possible efforts to resign them, like Chris Canty, Keith Davis, Kevin Burnett, Zach Thomas, and a couple of others.
A decision still needs to be made on SS Roy Williams this off-season. His performance has been miserable despite missing most of the 2008 season with two breaks in his forearm. The Cowboys actually stand to gain a little over $2 million towards the 2009 cap by cutting him, and could possibly work out even more benefits by trading him to another team soon. It stands to reason that some teams running a 4-3 defense would be happy to have him since he's never a distraction and has great stats while playing in a 4-3.
If Owens or Williams are released, in one way or another then comes to work of finding a suitable replacement for both, though an argument exists to find certain types of players both positions even if they both stay. The safety position has been weak since Williams' production dropped off while Parcels was here, and we need a speed receiver to spread the field more than Owens, Roy E. Williams, and Crayton can do. Miles Austin has some great speed and other nice abilities that make him a solid option for that burst of much needed speed, but his inability to stay healthy has hampered his success.
That doesn't even get into all the smaller things that need to be worked out like how training camp will be handled this year after direct mention of changes from Wade Phillips in his final press conference of the season.
So we'll stay tuned for that.
LB Justin Phillips Making a Case to Become a Roster Lock With Cowboys
In Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, the Dallas Cowboys arguably have the best linebacker duo in the entire NFL. They also have some pretty solid backups in Sean Lee and Joe Thomas, but the depth behind those four is completely up in the air. That is excellent news for an undrafted LB like Justin Phillips.
The former Oklahoma State Cowboy LB signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent after the completion of the 2019 NFL Draft. To go from being an Oklahoma State Cowboy to a Dallas Cowboy must've been a dream come true, especially for a kid from Pearland, Texas who rooted for America's Team growing up. The dream probably won't be complete though unless a roster spot comes with it.
Surprisingly, Justin Phillips has put himself into contention to earn one of those coveted roster spots. The way he has played in the first two preseason games has caught the attention of quite a few people, which should make it extremely difficult for the Cowboys coaching staff when it comes to making roster cut decisions. Dallas Cowboys Staff Writer and former Scout Bryan Broaddus agrees…
"Justin Phillips is going to make it hard on this staff to put him on the street. Not only is his finish impressive, but the awareness he plays with in pass coverage is impressive. There is no way I thought he had a chance for that interception, especially with this initial step into the line, but his ability to turn and run to a spot saved him."
Here is the play/interception Broaddus is referring to:
The Dallas Cowboys have typically only carried six linebackers on their 53-man roster these past few years. With four spots already spoken for, Justin Phillips is doing his damnedest to lock down one of those final two up for grabs. That, of course, is easier said than done.
Phillips is likely competing with Justin March-Lillard, who led the team in tackles against the Los Angeles Rams last week and fellow undrafted rookie LB Luke Gifford. Gifford, of course, missed the game against the Rams with an ankle injury he sustained in Week 1 of the preseason against the 49ers. It was actually that injury that resulted in more playing time for Justin Phillips.
If you're doing the math here, that's three linebackers competing for two roster spots. March-Lillard probably has the upper hand right now over the two rookies, but I wouldn't say he's secured a job just yet. That leaves the door open for No. 44 (Phillips) and No. 57 (Gifford).
As much as I like Luke Gifford, and I do, I think the stars could be aligning for Justin Phillips to make it through roster cuts. He's playing really well right now, while all Gifford can do is watch from the sideline until he can get back on the field. Regardless though, it's a position battle worth keeping an eye on.
Do you think LB Justin Phillips has done enough to secure a roster spot?
How Kris Richard May Help CB Michael Jackson Make Cowboys Roster
Cornerback Michael Jackson, one of the Dallas Cowboys' 5th-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, has not been standing out so far in training camp or preseason. But despite the slow start, the influence of Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard could help keep Jackson on the 53-man roster this year.
While no team likes parting with their drafted rookies, it certainly happens. That's especially true for Day 3 players, even 5th rounders, and particularly when a team is as deep with talent right now as the 2019 Cowboys.
The cornerback position is one of Dallas' most loaded. They go four-deep with starting talent in Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis, which leaves just one or two roster spots for the remaining prospects.
Michael Jackson is in competition with veteran C.J. Goodwin and the intriguing Donovan Olumba. Both were with the team last year; Goodwin was a special teams contributor and Olumba was a valuable developmental asset on the practice squad.
So far this preseason, we've seen Goodwin shining on special teams and Olumba making plays at cornerback. Jackson hasn't stood out, unless you count jokes about thin he looks on the field.
In contrast, fellow 5th-round rookie Joe Jackson has been showing up at defensive end. Even if there were no suspension concerns with Robert Quinn and Randy Gregory, Joe Jackson has made himself very difficult to cut.
But despite not having that same momentum or energy around him yet, Michael Jackson may still find his way onto the 53-man roster. And that may have something to do with his position coach.
Since arriving in Dallas during the 2018 offseason, Kris Richard has quickly gained prominence beyond just his official role as the Defensive Backs Coach. He was working as the defensive play-caller last year and is expected to take over fully in 2020, assuming Rod Marinelli retires and Richard doesn't leave for a head coaching opportunity.
When Dallas selected Michael Jackson in the last draft, Jackson became the first cornerback or safety drafted by the Cowboys since Richard arrived. Given that it happened this year, with Richard's influence clearly high on the defense, one would assume that Kris had a big say in the decision to draft Jackson.
No, Richard certainly can't veto any decision made by the Joneses, Will McClay, Jason Garrett, or even Marinelli when it comes to roster management. But if he has any bias towards Jackson as his first draft pick in Dallas, Kris may fight for the rookie more than someone else.
We're all human; agendas come into play. Kris Richard may be more passionate about seeing Michael Jackson succeeding for a variety of reasons. He may pound the table for the team to keep Jackson louder than anyone else in the room.
That doesn't necessarily mean keeping Jackson over some other cornerback, either. The argument could be to go long at CB at the expense of another position; maybe only keeing two quarterbacks or eight offensive linemen to free up a roster spot.
This is purely speculative, of course. For all we know, Richard could be the first one who loses faith and votes to let Jackson go.
But given the situation and all factors involved, it's more likely that Kris Richard will be invested in seeing Michael Jackson succeed and sticking with the Cowboys in 2019. Hopefully, it's in the best interest of the team overall.
DL Kerry Hyder Impressive In Cowboys Week 2 Preseason Win
Kerry Hyder joined the Cowboys this offseason on a one year deal, and while the four-year NFL veteran has put up some solid tape in his time around the league, it was hard to project just what he could bring to the Cowboys defense.
Listed at 6'2" 270 pounds, Hyder is a bit of a tweener on the defensive line. Though the answer to "will he play tackle or end" seems to be "both" to this point in the preseason.
As he fights for his life on this deep defensive line, Kerry Hyder had himself a day in the Cowboys 14-10 victory over the Rams last weekend.
Hyder made an excellent play defending a screen pass in the first quarter, reading the play perfectly and reacting quickly to running back Darrell Henderson coming out of the backfield. Hyder also created some pressure on the quarterback, and finished with 3 combined tackles in very limited playing time.
Hyder's versatility is working well for him as he looks to make the final roster. Like a Tyrone Crawford type player, Hyder will be able to move inside and out depending on the situation. This allows the Cowboys to be flexible in how they structure their depth chart on defense, and in how they decide to rush the passer on third down.
A pass rushing package involving Robert Quinn and DeMarcus Lawrence on the edge with the combination of Hyder and Maliek Collins on the inside could turn out to be a very dangerous one for opposing offenses to deal with.
Rod Marinelli spoke to this versatility a couple of months ago, showing just how much he values what Kerry Hyder can bring to this team.
"Maybe you adjust him sometime, once in a while – in a one-on-one pass rush situation, stick him over a guard and start to get a feel for it.” - Rod Marinelli
Earlier this offseason, I wrote that Kerry Hyder could end up being Rod Marinelli's next great under-the-radar find on the defensive line. And if he continues to play with the hustle and awareness that he had on Saturday, he's going to make Rod look very smart in his evaluation.
Kerry Hyder is making it very difficult for the front office to let him go. And, at the end of the preseason, I do expect Kerry Hyder to find himself on the Cowboys' active roster. Especially considering how Mike White is playing at quarterback, and how his release could open up an extra spot at a different position group.
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