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Somebody Needs To Take The Blame

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Dallas Cowboys Pittsburgh Steelers

I am just disgusted today, one day after watching the Cowboys give a game away. The only way I know how to work through this is by looking at the problems and try to make sense of them. There is plenty of blame to go around but the more I look at it the more I come to understand the majority of the blame falls in one place.

Now I would like to start off by saying that in an earlier post I detailed what I thought would be the 5 keys to success both on offense and defense. So let’s look at each key and see how they fared.

1. Protect Romo: Going up against the “Best Defense” in football the offensive line did an exceptional job. They gave up 3 sacks yes but Romo was not under constant duress! He was given the time needed to make something happen, and that is all we could ask for.

Grade: A

2. Force their LBs to cover: Going into a game without the services of Marion Barber and Felix Jones this would be a huge factor. Who would be the person that would dictate that the Steelers pay attention to? May I introduce you to Mr. Choice, that’s right Tashard Choice the fourth round draft choice from Georgia Tech. All I can say is this guy played his butt off! He did everything well, blitz pick up, rushing, receiving he did it all. Choice accounted for 166 of the Cowboys 289 yards. No way could anyone have asked anymore of this young man.

Grade: C

3. Score early and often: This was toughest of all keys, the Steelers just do not allow you to score, particularly in the second half. I felt they would need to score a bunch in the first half to have a chance. I was wrong! The Cowboys offense could only muster 3 points. They had plenty of opportunities just could not make it happen. The offense seemed to be working from to different play books. Tony was working on one page while everyone else (minus choice) was on page 10. On one play in the first quarter Tony expecting T.O. to run a deep out, throws to the spot, but T.O. gave up on the play and cut the route short, allowing a perfect pass to Troy Polamalu! And it would not get any better!

Grade: F

This leads us to 4. Limit stupid Turnovers: Well here is where the “BIG O” blew it! Five freaking turnovers! Five! Those five were turned into 10 points for the Steelers. What was the final score again? Oh yeah 20 to 13! I am no math wizard but I do believe 20 minus 10 would be 10! This is absolutely inexcusable! This is by your account your statement game and you play with such recklessness? Hey Tony and Jason ever heard of “Game Management”? Well let me explain some simple rules of game management, first of all if its not there throw the freaking thing away! Two, do not decide before the play who you are going to throw the ball too! Hey Tony Martellus Bennett is still WIDE FREAKING OPEN! How do you make that decision to throw into triple coverage, and disregard the guy 20 yards down the middle of the field all alone? Who by the way could have crawled into the end zone with no one ever touching him! You are killing me still Smalls!

Grade: F

Last but not least 5. Spread them out create mismatches: They were there all night long! They did not take advantage of them! 8 and 10 yard cushions on T.O. and Roy all night and Jason Garrett fails to adjust his game plan! Wake up gentlemen! How about a slant, or a hook, or a damn cross in! Nope we have to make our quarterback wait for a triple move to develop! This was an absolute failure by Jason Garrett and his offensive coaches.

Grade:F

The blame of this game falls directly on the shoulders of Tony Romo, and Jason Garrett. Tony you are a gunslinger and I love you, but if you do not learn how to take care of the ball you are going to make me lose my mind! I am the least of your worries though, you are about to lose this team if you do not correct this issue! The first domino to fall on this front will be the one who cried for you last year! That’s right the ever waiting to erupt Terrell Owens. Stop trying to force the ball to him and start going with the flow of the game. I understand he may get mad at you for going somewhere else, but I promise you if you are winning games he will back off! Man up! Jason Garrett as far as you are concerned the rest of the league has your system figured out! It is time to adapt! That stupid pitch to T.O. does not work, so stop running the damn thing! All good coaches use the talent they are given to the best of their ability! You sir are failing at this miserably! Force teams to adapt to what you are doing not you adapting to them all the time! I understand the players have to make the plays but it is up to you to make sure they understand what they are doing! It is obvious that no one knows what the hell is going on; you can tell this by Tony constantly having to tell everyone where to be before the snap of the ball, thus causing frantic snaps of the ball! I can give you a bit of advice in one word! K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) you have the most talented offense in the league! Stop designing your way out of the game! I once thought you would be an excellent head coach for us, but I don’t think I would have you organize a lunch line right now! You guys have one last chance to change the course of the season, so get to work!

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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Thus far the 2018 offseason has brought a plethora of change to the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Now it is being reported the Cowboys have hired a brand new offensive line coach, former Cincinnati Bengals’ Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander.

Alex Marvez on Twitter

Source tells @sportingnews that Paul Alexander hired as new @dallascowboys offensive line coach

Alexander coached with the Bengals for over 20 years, and replaces the same man in Dallas who replaces him in Cincinnati, Frank Pollack. Alexander has also been the Bengals assistant head coach since 2003.

The Cowboys recently lost an assistant head coach when Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia left for Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders.

Per usual, the hire has been met with mixed reactions from Cowboys Nation.

Joey Ickes on Twitter

Since 2003, CIN has had only one season where they finished top-10 in Yards per attempt on the ground… They’ve been bottom-5 in the league 5 times in that span… That’s the OL Coach DAL just hired.

The hiring of an offensive line coach who’s rushing attack finished bottom five in the league in rushing yards per attempt five times since 2003 doesn’t look too great on paper. He will also teach with different techniques and styles than previous Cowboys OL coaches, which could potentially set back the offensive line early in the season.

Plus, respected Bengals’ writer Joe Goodberry did not exactly love the hire for the Cowboys.

Goodberry on Twitter

Pretty bad https://t.co/fysjZqCQ6l

Regardless, this is still a very talented offensive line and one which should lead an effective ground attack based on their talent alone. 2017 proved further that coaching matters a lot in the NFL however, and the wrong hire could set back even the most talented of units.

We will just have to wait and see how this 2018 season ends up playing out.

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Dallas Cowboys

Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job

Sean Martin

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Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates For Cowboys Vacant OL Coach Job 1

By keeping all three top coaches (Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli) in place for 2018, there isn’t a Dallas Cowboys coaching hire that feels like they “must” get it right to contend next season. This is how it should be.

Producing nine wins, despite missing key players throughout the season, the Cowboys are changing things up at the position coach level to hopefully introduce new ideas and give the talent on this team a better chance at sustained success.

One coaching vacancy that needs to be filled by the right guy above any else is on the offensive line, where things haven’t been the same since the great Bill Callahan departed.

Frank Pollack took his place, and now finds himself with the Cincinnati Bengals after not being retained by Dallas this offseason.

Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates For Cowboys Vacant OL Coach Job

Tom Cable (Stephen Brashear / Getty Images)

The first name that was thrown around in consideration for the Cowboys job was Tom Cable, which sent a panic throughout Cowboys Nation before Cable decided to sign with John Gruden and the Raiders.

Cable had been coaching the Seahawks’ OL, a position that franchise has not valued in some time, and struggled to develop any talent in protection of their franchise QB Russell Wilson.

Now, two new names have emerged as candidates to coach the likes of two-time 1st Team All-Pro LT Tyron Smith, 1st Team All-Pro C Travis Frederick, and two-time 1st Team All-Pro RG Zack Martin.

Mike Solari and Paul Alexander

Paul Alexander has already met with the Dallas Cowboys, looking for work after 23 seasons with the Bengals. During this time, Alexander served as Marvin Lewis’ assistant head coach, in addition to his duties as their OL coach.

Judging on reactions out of Cincinnati to Alexander’s departure, the Bengals offensive line regressed under him in 2017, warranting change from a franchise that is as reluctant as any to move on from coaches.

Goodberry on Twitter

Paul Alexander better be gone

Most recently, Mike Solari has served as the offensive line coach for the New York Giants — far from a renowned unit around the NFL lately. He does have previous experience with the Cowboys, having served as an assistant OL and special teams coach here from 1987-88.

From 2006-07, Solari did reach the rank of offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, which shows the level of respect that the 30-year NFL coaching veteran has earned.

He will be the Dallas Cowboys’ next interview for their open OL coach position.

Cowboys at Raiders: La'el Collins Faces Toughest Test Yet In Khalil Mack 1

Dallas Cowboys RT La’el Collins, RG Zack Martin

Depth at tackle, a long-term answer at left guard, and an extension for Zack Martin are among the questions facing the Cowboys offensive line moving forward. Whoever is in charge of keeping this unit up to standard in 2018 though, may hold the keys to getting the entirety of the Cowboys’ program back on track.

Whether it’s Alexander, Solari, or another outside candidate yet to emerge, Inside The Star will keep you updated on the Cowboys’ ongoing coaching search.

Tell us what you think about “Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Cowboys Defensive Back Questions Still Need Answers

John Williams

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Byron Jones
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys defense took a step forward in 2017, and in the process they answered several questions. They found a “war daddy” in DeMarcus Lawrence, something that’s been missing since DeMarcus Ware left for the Denver Broncos. Lawrence finished tied for second with Calais Campbell in sacks with 14.5, and made the NFL All-Pro Second Team.

We got to see Jaylon Smith answer questions about his health all season long. Smith appears to be trending in the right direction, both in his health and his performance on the field.

The plan to rebuild the secondary seems to be on the right track as they’ve found a couple of aggressive corners in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. They have the look of a dynamic duo that will be impact players on this team for a long, long time.

Kavon Frazier has been a revelation. The thumper at the safety position is something that’s been missing for the Dallas Cowboys since Roy Williams.

However, questions still remain about a defense that carried this team at times, and looked like the Rob Ryan and Monte Kiffin defenses of yesteryear at other times.

To me the biggest questions in the secondary revolve around Byron Jones and Xavier Woods.

Cowboys en Español: Proyectando el Roster de 53 Jugadores 2

Dallas Cowboys S Byron Jones (James D. Smith via AP)

Where do Byron Jones and Xavier Woods Fit?

Byron Jones has been a popular whipping boy for Cowboys Nation. Some of that has been accurate, but he’s not as bad as social media would have you believe.

He’s been sticky in coverage, especially against tight ends, throughout his career, but in 2017 it seemed like he was shying away from tackling a bit too much. He still has that tremendous athleticism and coverage ability that warranted a first-round pick, but the question remains: What is his best position?

After playing where needed his rookie season, the Cowboys coaching staff moved him to safety for the last couple of years with mixed results.

As stated, he’s been pretty good in coverage and made some incredible plays on the ball, even if he’s lacking the interception numbers. The problem comes, in my opinion, when he’s asked to make tackles in space, which is an important aspect of being a safety.

Many have begun to wonder if Dallas would be best served moving Jones back to corner.

As a cornerback, Jones would be able to use his athleticism and coverage skills against the bigger wide receivers in the league, but not be asked to make as many tackles in the middle of the field against running backs and tight ends.

They can still bring him in against some of the better tight ends in the league. We already know the Cowboys will face Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles, Jordan Reed of the Washington Redskins, and Evan Engram of the New York Giants for a total of six games in 2018.

Dallas will also face the likes of Michael Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Alshon Jeffrey and Marvin Jones, who are bigger more athletic wide receivers who could require a man of Byron’s skill.

It will be interesting to see what they do with Byron this offseason.

Where Will Dallas Cowboys Search For "Fresh Ideas" Begin? 3

Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis, CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB/S Xavier Woods (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

The same question applies to Xavier Woods, but not because he struggled. He was actually quite good as the slot corner throughout much of his rookie season.

Woods primarily played safety in his time at Louisiana Tech, and showed an ability to be the deep middle safety. Because of injuries to the cornerback group, Woods lined up as the slot corner for a lot of his snaps.

He played well there for Dallas, leaving many to wonder if he hasn’t earned the role of third cornerback. That may be a good fit, but it’s not typical to see a guy who was primarily a safety in college become a corner in the NFL.

I’d rather see him as a full-time safety.

With Woods at safety, Dallas can stay in their base defense when teams go to three wide receiver formations, especially on early downs or in situations where a run is just as likely. He can drop down from the safety spot to play in the slot, if — and it’s a big if — you trust your single-high safety.

Woods’ ability to cover in the slot allows you to stay competitive against the run, which was a struggle for Dallas.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

We’ve seen how the yo-yo game between positions can affect a player’s technique and mentality. Chaz Green wasn’t the same player in 2017 when asked to prepare as both a guard and a tackle, as opposed to 2016 when he strictly played tackle.

In my opinion, it would be to the Dallas Cowboys interest to move Byron Jones back to cornerback full-time, and move Woods to safety.

When you decide to go to your nickel package, Chidobe Awuzie and Jones play the outside with Jourdan Lewis moving to the middle. Or you bring Jones in to cover the tight end, leave Lewis and Awuzie on the outside, and drop Woods into the slot and play cover 1.

What do you think?

Where do Byron Jones and Xavier Woods fit best on this team?

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