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Talking Owens, from a reader

Bryson Treece

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Got a comment today from a reader, and I want to expand on what he correctly identified as another topic. The Wizard wrote:

"I'm in agreement with you about Garrett, who I truly believe is the biggest problem on the team right now. People can point at TO all they want. But, when they were 13-3 and Owens was heavily involved in the offense there were no problems. In fact, he was being called a model teammate. Now, with Sparano gone and Garrett's reluctance to use Owens more effectively he was upset.

But, that is another topic."

Something that always comes to mind about T.O. is what he says about getting the ball, "When I get the ball, good things happen." He's right, when he gets the ball, the Cowboys win the game, and that has yet to be proven otherwise.

Owens caused a lot of distractions late this year in his interview with Sanders where he called out Garrett's scheme. He started an uproar when he had a meeting with Garrett about his perceptions of ball distribution. And he has been labeled as a trouble maker since he left San Francisco after problems, only to start a similar problem with his new team, the Eagles. We all know this stuff.

I write that here because of the need for some background on this post, but also because it doesn't seem like knowing things about Owens is enough make any difference.

We know that he wants the ball, and we know we win when he gets his way, yet we translate that into not winning because he doesn't get his way, and that's just not the case. I'm one these people that still has issues with him because of watching him give up on a route only to have the ball thrown his way, but because had stopped running, it was picked off. I'd like to see and hear some accountability over that from him, and the coaches, and Tony Romo.

If Tony wants to lead this team, a good way to show it would be to call out that "certain influential receiver" in front of the team for those few times when he did give up on a play. Hard not to follow a guy that can do that for the team, and if Owens would respond badly to that, hard to find a reason to keep him at that point. There's virtually no loss there.

Anyway ... I firmly believe that Owens only has a problem when we lose. How many times did anyone hear him talk about getting the ball when we were winning games? Now with that said, the first game lost and he's back at it again with none other than Prime Time himself on ESPN.

So he could use a few pointers on how to better direct his grievances, but to say, or act like, because he has grievances that he is the reason the team lost some ballgames is just ridiculous. If that were the case, we'd have only needed one of the Trio to win those three Super Bowls, an obvious fiction to say the least.

So like The Wizard says above in his comment, people can point at T.O. all they want. He's used to it, and has made it clear that he can handle it. But as was demonstrated for us all so painfully in December, this team cannot, so cut the crap and focus on the real problems. If we stop losing games, T.O. will never say a word, will he?



Nothing gives me greater joy than the experience of being a Dallas Cowboys fan come time to check another victory on the schedule every Sunday. I live Inside the Star everyday and blog on it occasionally, as well. Follow us on Twitter - @InsideTheStarDC

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. The Wizard

    January 23, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Well put.

    I agree that Owens needs to ir his grievances better. But, that is easy for me to see being that I don’t constantly have a mic or camera in my face.

    I’m glad you made references to his past. It seems like people want to focus on those incidents instead of judging him solely based on what he has done/said with the Cowboys. Personally, I thought he was right in Philly too. What he said about McNabb was absolutely accurate and many people were thinking and feeling the same thing. To put it bluntly, McNabb did cost the Eagles that Super Bowl. If you were a player who played his heart out on a foot that he had no business playing on then watched your QB puke on the most important drive of the game, what would you say or feel?

    As for his route running, he needs to improve it – period. As for beating the jam, he needs to work on it. Maybe he can enlist a martial artist to help him in that area.

    But, to blame TO for all the teams problems is ridiculous.

    Look at his stats. He had an off year and had to play 3 games with a quarterback who can’t throw the ball more than 10 yards down the field.

    And, as you stated, when he gets the ball in his hands good things happen.

  2. Bryson

    January 23, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Absolutely on all counts. And thanks for the lead …

    It’s like they said on the Ranch report the other day, a team leader, you know, the leader on a team is usually beyond reproach. With Owens’ past transgressions, justified or not, it’s hard for him to be the leader that he obviously has the heart to be because you can always point out something he did way back when.

    But in Dallas, it’s those past issues that instigate the current issues, and he’s not even the one instigating it. That’s not the kind of accountability that this team needs, not in the locker room, not in the offices, and not from the fans.

    But as you point out, he does need to improve his game. His natural abilities have declined as he ages, which itself is natural. So he needs to account for that in some other way. But even if he doesn’t, he’s still a good receiver and an asset to this team.

  3. The Wizard

    January 23, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Completely agree. As far as his declining skills, which is natural, that is where I blame the coaching.

    Everything was going good this season until the Green Bay game. Even with the Cowboys winning teams saw a blueprint as to how to take Owens out of the game. Garrett had to know that other teams would try the same thing being that the NFL is such a copycat league. Still, I watched and I’m sure you did too, every opponent from there on out employ basically the same defensive plans. Garrett didn’t make any adjustments until later in the season and those really didn’t make much of a difference.

    I really hate to harp on the 07 season, but what they did with Owens that year was fantastic. They lined him up in the backfield on occassion, put him in motion, etc… And, Owens, Witten, and Crayton all had great seasons.

    Now, all of a sudden this year Garrett just completely abandoned the things that were successful in the previous season and watched this offense regress. Personally, I would think bad of Owens if he didn’t speak up. To me that would mark a person who was just wanting to collect his paycheck regardless of his performance. In a nutshell all he said is that he wanted the ball and wanted to run routes that took advantage of his abilities. I find nothing wrong with that at all.

  4. Bryson

    January 23, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Heck no. I don’t even blame Garrett for trying something new this season, but it took few games to see that it was different and that opposing defenses had an answer for it.

    My motto is don’t fix it if it ain’t broken. Not sure what Garrett has against that, but he obviously doesn’t feel the same way.

    That’s the one bright spot I see with Garrett coming back for next year. He got a big ass slap in the face by his own scheme. It shouldn’t be hard for him to find his way back to a more aggressive, elusive, and imaginative scheme like what was used in 2007.

  5. Bryson

    January 23, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Especially with a running threat that is ten times the threat it was in ’07.

  6. The Wizard

    January 23, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    I don’t blame hism for trying something new either. Good coordinators do that. But, completely abandoning what they did last season was foolish. If he simply looked at how he could counter what the Giants did in the playoffs to slow down the offense and incorporated a few things I think he would have been better served.

    But, that is why I don’t get paid the big bucks.

    I do think bringing him and the coaching staff back is a good idea. Everyone has something to prove now. I would like to believe that Wade and Garrett both have pride and want nothing more than to prove the naysayers wrong. Now, if that is the case and they can communicate that to their team and use that as the motivation for next season, the Cowboys will be tough to beat.

  7. Bryson

    January 23, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    You’re right about that. There is a whole database of knowledge to be obtained simply by studying the three games against the Giants in 2007. From one game to the next, the Giants D changed to be more effective against our O, and they finally got it right in the last game.

    Looking at what could have caused them to make certain adjustments could tell Garrett loads about how his scheme looks to an opposing team. It only gets better when you include the fact the Giants are a division rival, a team that knows our game as much as any team can.

    It’s also a plus on that note to think that they went on to win the Super Bowl with their adjustments. That lends a ton of credibility to Spags and the changes he made, making the use of his adjustments as a basis for improving our offense the most logical solution to our problems on the field in 2008.

    It doesn’t account for the distractions and media bull, but it certainly makes Garrett look smart if he gets it done that way.

  8. Tay

    January 24, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    What I do not understand is how people keep trying to bring Owens past in San Francisco or Philly into this? It is a convient arguement for many, but I’m not convinced. In San Fran it was about his contract, in Philly it was about money he was owed that everyone knew Philly wasn’t going to pay. The only problem he has spoken out about here is his lack of involvment in the game plan and the was he is being misused in the system.
    The talk this season has been that he does not run good routes, he quits on routes, he drops balls, he can’t beat press coverage. Well my question is how is it that he has been able to put up all the stats he has in his career if these things are true? How did he put up the numbers he did last season and catch as many balls and touchdowns if he wasn’t running good routes or was quitting on routes all of the time?
    Now he might have trouble now getting off the line against press coverage, but how do you alleviate that? It’s easy, and Owens has said numerous of times how to do it, you put him in motion more so that he can get a free release. Or here’s a thought how bout lining him up in the slot and run a slant pattern? It’s amazing to me when I see other teams use this one simple route and kill team yet the ‘Boys can’t seem to effectively put it to use, same as the RB screen.
    I’m not trying to come off as an Owens apologist, I’m just saying that all the talk of the failures this season being his fault or him destroying the locker room is overblown. He’s an easy target for the media and fans, because he speaks his mind and says what most won’t. It’s mentioned that his calling out of Garret’s scheme in the interview with Sander’s was the starting point of the team’s downward spiral. Well if he was wrong, then why did opponets say these same things the last 4 weeks? Why did Romo himself say the same things after the last two games?
    Is T.O. “Mr. Innocent” no, is he deserving of all the blame being put on him by the media and fans, absolutely NOT! AT some point, we have to look past the easy target and look at the heart of the problem and this season it was the coaching staff and their inability to come up with effective game plans and make proper in-game adjustments…

  9. Bryson

    January 24, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Tay, those are my points exactly.

    But it gets a little more involved with what you bring up, about him dropping balls and beating press coverage, and not running good routes. Every player drops catchable balls, but those same players don’t complain about not getting the ball after a spell of a lot of dropped balls like Owens did. More of a point for him to better address the situation than anything.

    He gets the numbers he does in a season, particularly 2008, because of a few things, of which being his complaints causing action. We all know that Romo forced the ball his way a lot this year, and that can’t always be a bad thing, especially when Owens is the guy being thrown to. He can make things happen to come down with the ball. That helps to get his numbers and production up despite drops and whatnot, while also adding huge risks for turnovers. We saw this year the latter of the two was most concerning.

    The talk is overblown about T.O. But the point still stands, and hopefully not for much longer, that the OC has got to find a way to utilize this player better. An argument could be made for Garrett trying to do that and nothing worked, but Owens has shown that if you can’t find a way to get him open more, then you’re not trying hard enough.

    I think we all agree that Garrett’s calls were often very vanilla and he didn’t even try to move Owens around most games. You’ve got to put a player like that in bad matchups on the opposing defense. You can’t let them just stick their best cover guy to him all the time, because the best on the best equals not much at all.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Defensive End

Jess Haynie

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DeMarcus Lawrence

If quarterback is the most important position in football, then the guys who hunt them down might be second. As such, the Dallas Cowboys face a major offseason decision in 2019 when it comes to the free agency of Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence.

This will be Lawrence's second year as an unrestricted free agent, with Dallas retaining him last season using the franchise tag. Even though he accepted it in 2018, DeMarcus swore all the way back in that summer that he wouldn't play for the Cowboys in 2019 if franchised again.

Despite his sack numbers dropping a bit last season, "Tank" remains one of the top defensive ends in the NFL. He is a total package of pass-rushing and run stopping, and he's now given Dallas two-straight Pro Bowl seasons.

If the Cowboys have any plans to contend for a championship next season then they can't risk losing a player like Lawrence. We've seen what this defense looks like without a premiere pass rusher and it isn't pretty.

Of course, Dallas could try to replace DeMarcus with a different free agent signing. If Jadeveon Clowney or Frank Clark avoid being tagged by their own teams, perhaps the Cowboys can lure one of them over. But don't expect any big difference in compensation between these three players.

Whether it's Lawrence or one of the other premiere pass rushers in free agency, you can expect the Cowboys to make one of them their top offseason priority. The greater mystery is if Dallas will make any other moves to upgrade the DE position, or stick with what they've got.

Randy Gregory

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

Dallas finally enjoyed some real production out of Randy Gregory in 2018, whose personal issues nearly derailed the talented pass rusher's career. Gregory posted six sacks last season and was starting to look like the Robin to Lawrence's Batman.

Also in the mix is 2017 first-round pick Taco Charlton, who took a backwards step last year and seemed to be in the coaches' doghouse by season's end. Motivation and attitude seem to be an issue for him, and he'll need to step it up this summer if he doesn't want to wind up at the back of the depth chart again.

One of last year's fourth-round picks Dorance Armstrong also returns. He will hopefully be ready to take on a larger role in his second season and provide another pass rushing threat, plus insurance in case Gregory suffers any return of past problems.

If Dallas doesn't make Tyrone Crawford a salary cap casualty, or chooses to re-sign David Irving, those are two other guys who can play some defensive end for you.

Despite these options, the Cowboys could still look at adding another mid-grade free agent for depth and insurance. They could hope for a bargain on veterans like Ezekiel Ansah, Vinny Curry, or Chris Long. They might hope that Rod Marinelli could work his magic on first-round flop Dante Fowler.

Another guy that Dallas might look at is Benson Mayowa, who was with them from 2016-2017 and is a solid player. He spent the last season in Arizona on a one-year deal and is still just 27 years old.

Don't expect much from the draft, barring a major steal presenting itself. The Cowboys have bigger needs with their limited number of 2019 picks, and they also still need to see how recent selections like Charlton and Armstrong play out.

This offseason is all about DeMarcus Lawrence, or at least one of the other marquee free agents at defensive end. Some supplemental moves are possible, but arguably the biggest move Dallas makes the next few months is either retaining or replacing their top pass rusher.



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Dallas Cowboys

Offense or Defense, Which Should be the Cowboys Main Offseason Focus?

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Need to Upgrade the Offense or Defense More?

The Dallas Cowboys offseason should be approached like a puzzle. You have to know what the picture looks like beforehand before you start grabbing random pieces to try to fit them together. Keeping that in mind, I thought it be a good idea if we take a look at the Cowboys offense and defense to try to determine which one needs the most attention.

It may be somewhat surprising, but the Dallas Cowboys pretty much have the entire puzzle almost put together. There is just a few missing pieces they need to add, but for the most part the team that will take the field when the 2019 season kicks off is already in place.

There isn't going to be much roster turnover this offseason. Nearly all of the starters will return for the upcoming season on both sides of the ball, meaning the Cowboys are in good shape as far as having the teams nucleolus in place. In fact, there might be just one or two starting positions up for grabs on offense and defense.

Let's take a look…

Dallas Cowboys Offense

Kellen Moore, Jason Garrett, Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys OC Kellen Moore

As things stand right now before any moves are made in free agency or through the draft, the Dallas Cowboys offense may have just two starting spots up for grabs. But, even that's just a guesstimate because we still don't really know what the future holds for Center Travis Frederick, even though all signs point to him making a triumphant return to the starting lineup.

The way I see it though, the Cowboys will need to find someone to replace Cole Beasley in the passing game and also add a starting caliber tight end. That's it really as far as the starters are concerned. There is however need for more depth at several positions such as backup running back and offensive tackle, but those aren't necessarily "needs". I'd say they're in pretty good shape offensively compared to years past.

Dallas Cowboys Defense

Kris Richard

Dallas Cowboys Assistant Coach Kris Richard

Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys really don't have any glaring needs on the defensive side of the ball either. After finishing as one of the top defensive units in 2018, they will have nearly all of their starters returning for the 2019 season. But much like on the offensive side of the ball, there could be two starting spots up for grabs.

The Cowboys will have to find someone to replace Damien Wilson as the starting strong side linebacker and potentially a new starting strong safety. That's really the only starting positions I believe are up for grabs on defense. But like the offense, they could stand to add more depth and competition throughout the defense, especially along the defensive line. But again, there really isn't a glaring "need" they absolutely have to address.

Verdict: Cowboys Offense

Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Even though the Dallas Cowboys offense and defense seems to be pretty evenly matched as to how many starting positions are up for grabs, the offense looks to be the one that needs just a little bit more help. The defense proved in 2018 they are someone to be reckoned with and with the loss of just Damien Wilson, that shouldn't change. The same can't be said about the offense though.

If Cole Beasley does indeed leave via free agency, that's a big blow to the passing game. But, it's not just him. Other than their rushing attack, the Cowboys offense was ranked in the bottom half of the league in nearly every other category. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan now gone we can hope that improves, but that doesn't mean improving the offense shouldn't be the Cowboys main offseason focus though.

Of course, this is just my opinion and you are more than welcome to agree or disagree with it. But, when the free agency and NFL draft ball finally starts rolling, I expect most of the Cowboys offseason moves to be on the offensive side of the ball. Improving things around Quarterback Dak Prescott would seem like the wise thing to do after all, especially since he's about to be paid quite handsomely.

Which side of the ball do you think needs more help this offseason?



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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Quarterback

Jess Haynie

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Dak Prescott
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys have plenty of work to do to restock and refine their roster in the hope of improving of last year's playoff run. We'll be looking at all of the 2019 needs for this offseason in the coming days, and we're going to start with paramount position of quarterback.

Unlike most spots on the team, the quarterbacks don't have anyone with an expiring contract this year. Both Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush will be in the final year of their deals, while Mike White still has three years left on his rookie contract.

Despite this, Prescott's contract is still one the hottest issues the Cowboys face this offseason. They must decide if they want to go ahead and lock him up now to a long-term extension, or wait and see how Dak performs in his fourth season.

It's a real dilemma for Dallas. One the one hand, Prescott already has two Pro Bowls, two division titles, and all winning seasons on his three-year resume. However, he's also had ongoing accuracy issues and problems with consistent productivity in an increasingly pass-focused league.

Given what he's already accomplished, Dak can command a pretty sizable contract in current negotiations. Just within the week he's already commented on not planning to give the Cowboys a discount in his next deal.

If Dallas waits another year then they risk that price tag going up. They could be competing with the open market, or what if Prescott leads the team to the NFC Championship or beyond in 2019?

If Dak's camp is already going to be aggressive in contract negotiations this year, then there's a case to be made for just waiting. Let him play on his bargain $2.14 million cap hit and use the savings to load up on talent for a championship run. The team will still have resources to re-sign Prescott in 2020, or even franchise tag him, if that's their choice.

Mike White

Dallas Cowboys QB Mike White

However that situation goes, we know that Dak is the starter in 2019. But even though Cooper Rush and Mike White are both due to return next season, should the Cowboys be satisfied with that QB depth chart?

As I wrote about earlier this week, Dallas has good reason to look at adding a veteran passer to the mix this offseason. If Rush and White beat him out, that's great. But if not, it adds an experienced voice to help Dak Prescott in this critical upcoming year.

You can go a few different ways. Some of the projected free agents can match Prescott's mobile style, such as Tyrod Taylor, Trevor Siemian, or Robert Griffin III. Others give you the experience edge such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, or Matt Schaub.

It doesn't seem likely that the Cowboys would draft another QB after just taking Mike White last year with a fifth-round pick. Unless they are moving to a completely different philosophy, Dallas will likely give White at least another year or two to develop as a mid-round selection.

Ideally, at least one of White or Cooper Rush will show some growth this year and inspire confidence as the immediate backup. But adding a veteran for competition certainly couldn't hurt, and Dallas has the cap space to do it.

Thankfully, everything that Dallas might have to do this offseason at quarterback is optional.  They can choose whether or not to redo Prescott's contract, or whether or not to pursue upgrades behind him. There is no gaping hole being created by a potential free agent departure.

The Cowboys have the power now, but that can quickly change next season once Dak's a free agent. That's why they still have a big decision to make in 2019.



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