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The Exclamation Point: Jason Garrett Put A Stamp On Coach Of The Year Against Detroit

RJ Ochoa



Jason Garrett

Listen to an audio version of this article on Bumpers!

Jonathan Larson's Rent teaches us that there are 525,600 minutes in a year. It's petitioned that this can be measured in daylights, sunsets, midnights, or cups of coffee. Perhaps you prefer inches, miles, or yardage... Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett definitely likes yards.

On December 27th, 2015 Garrett's Cowboys started their fourth quarterback of the season (Kellen Moore) in a dreadful 6-16 loss in Buffalo. December 27th, 2016 (today duh) we find ourselves 525,600 minutes removed from that agony and celebrating a 180 degree turn of events.

Dez Bryant, LionsWe all woke up today for a special Tuesday edition of #VictoryPoloMonday, celebrating the Dallas Cowboys and their Monday Night Football win over the Detroit Lions. The game bounced in the direction of the Cowboys quite easily in the second half, as a 21-21 tie ended 42-21 in favor of the good guys. Pretty cool, right?

Jason Garrett knows well about victories inside AT&T Stadium against Detroit, as his only career playoff win is laced with those exact details (2014). He's a long way removed from the squad of two years ago, and while he's got his sights set on much bigger things... it was this recent win against the Lions that served as the nail in the coffin for something special - Coach of the Year.

Jason Garrett's Coach Of The Year Resume

Last Friday I outlined the ridiculousness that has been the 2016 Dallas Cowboys season here at Inside The Star. There have been a number of crazy, and unique, obstacles in front of the Cowboys at different points, and Jason Garrett has steered them through them all. Among the many, there are a few more notable hurdles that needed to be Zeke-leapt over:

  • The loss of primary backup Quarterback Kellen Moore.
  • The serious injury to starting Quarterback Tony Romo.
  • The injury to the best Left Tackle in football, Tyron Smith.
  • The loss of second-year Left Guard, La'el Collins.
  • The three-game loss of star Wide Receiver, Dez Bryant (and his MRI saga).
  • The fluctuating health of Cornerback Orlando Scandrick.
  • The development of 4th Round Rookie Quarterback Dak Prescott.
  • The handling of the Tony Romo situation once Romo returned from injury.

This list hits you so hard that you could've sworn it was Chris Jones during punt coverage. To merely survive it would be an incredible accomplishment, but Jason Garrett is far more than incredible. Coach Garrett guided the Cowboys through all of this and has them firmly entrenched as the NFC's top seed at 13-2, tying the Dallas Cowboys record for most wins in a season.

What Was So Special About The Lions Game?

Had the Lions won on Monday Night Football - they didn't, what a bunch of scrubs - then they would have clinched a playoff berth... those are some serious stakes (I wish they'd been steaks, though).

While Detroit entered the game with much on the line, the Cowboys entered with literally nothing to play for. Due to the Giants loss in Philadelphia last Thursday, the Cowboys clinched everything they possibly could on December 22nd.

This means that the Dallas Cowboys welcomed a team who was literally playing for everything while they were playing for nothing. How'd that go? Dallas won 42-21. The Cowboys handed the Lions a drubbing despite resting pivotal defensive starters and therefore, despite always wanting to win, adding some more hurdles in the interim for the sake of the long-run.

Think about this seriously. The Dallas Cowboys at lower-than-normal capacity didn't just beat, but utterly dominated a team that gave all that they had. This is remarkable.

The Dak And Zeke Effect

There's no denying how impressive rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have been this season. They've been instrumental to the success that the Cowboys have had, but they've been coached masterfully along the way.

Ezekiel Elliott, Dak PrescottDallas secured a franchise record-tying 13th win against Detroit, but they also accomplished something that no other Dallas Cowboys team ever has in the process. Jason Garrett's 'Boys now have a rookie quarterback (Dak) with 20 passing touchdowns and a rookie running back (Zeke) with 15 rushing touchdowns.

This is actually so special that not only has no Dallas Cowboys team never done it... no NFL team has ever done it!

This is an insanely difficult thing to do with any two players. It is downright impossible to do with rookies at both positions! Jason Garrett did it. He deserves an honor only two other Dallas Cowboys Head Coaches have received - Coach of the Year. Tom Landry won it in 1966, Jimmy Johnson won it in 1990, and Jason Garrett deserves it in 2016.

Tell us what you think about "The Exclamation Point: Jason Garrett Put A Stamp On Coach Of The Year Against Detroit" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!

I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

Star Blog

Sean’s Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Cowboys D

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Dallas Cowboys Defense 1

It took some time, but the Dallas Cowboys have their first outside free agent of the offseason, signing Linebacker Joe Thomas to provide depth at a position where Anthony Hitchens and Kyle Wilber have already signed elsewhere.

The fifth-year pro has played exclusively with the Green Bay Packers, but the Cowboys do have some familiarity with Thomas as he spent part of 2015 on their practice squad.

Joe Thomas has served as a core special teams contributor and sub-package LB for the Packers out of South Carolina State, and will now look to bring these services to a Cowboys team in need of play making ability on both defense and special teams.

Using film from this past season, here is Joe Thomas' full scouting report.

LB Joe Thomas: Strengths

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Joe Thomas lined up at all three LB positions for the Packers, taking the majority of his snaps on defense at MIKE or WILL. The WILL position is where Thomas should fit best in Dallas.

Not overly physical with a shorter but square frame, Thomas is a rangy player with light feet and fluid movement ability. Shifting laterally along the line of scrimmage to "pick through trash" is not a problem for Thomas, nor is flipping his hips and running to the football.

It may take Thomas more effort than it should to get in position on most plays, with false steps and late reads being an issue, but once he establishes his sight on the point of attack this is a downhill missile of a player.

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Joe Thomas uses his length well to disengage from blocks and finish off plays, doing a nice job of not allowing blockers into his chest consistently.

With Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith expected to be the Cowboys' primary starters at WILL and MIKE respectively, Thomas could supplement these two physical, well-rounded players extremely well given his athleticism.

LB Joe Thomas: Weaknesses

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There is a reason a player with the raw traits of Joe Thomas goes un-drafted, and in this case it is because of awareness and anticipation issues in Thomas' game.

Far too often on tape, Thomas is forcing himself to recover from false steps against the blockers in front of him. I would have loved to see a player with this movement ability get more clean opportunities to finish at the football, but it was simply not there for Thomas.

When Thomas wasn't late to the ball against the run, he was getting caught flat-footed in space trying to compensate for this reactionary ability. This led to Thomas' fair share of missed tackles, where the LB failed to break down correctly.

Overall, Thomas did a decent job of avoiding blocks and disengaging, and does play with better-than-expected stopping power. The strength and technique to shed blocks was rarely seen though, relying on his quickness to outrun opponents to the spot.

LB Joe Thomas: Summary

Sean's Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Dallas Cowboys Defense

This is a player that should help the Dallas Cowboys in two phases of their game this season.

Signed for both 2018 and 2019, the Cowboys have clearly seen enough from their former practice squad linebacker in Green Bay to bring back an athletic ST ace with upside on defense.

Joe Thomas shouldn't be taking Lee or Smith off the field regularly this season, but at his best he will factor into Rod Marinelli's defense on passing downs.

Thomas gives a unit predicated on flowing to the ball even more speed on the field, and is an ideal depth signing with the versatility to cover punts and kickoffs.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Cowboys D" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Star Blog

Could a Special Coach Help Dez Bryant’s Route-Running?

Brian Martin



Could Special Coach Help Dez Bryant's Route Running?

Dez Bryant's career with the Dallas Cowboys may be in limbo, but that's not stopping him from trying to improve his game and on-field performance.

Bryant will reportedly train with personal wide receivers coach David Robinson, who specializes in route-running, according to reporter Jane Slater of NFL Network. This should come as good news to a lot of Cowboys fans, because Dez Bryant has often been criticized throughout his professional career for his route-running.

If anything, this news should indicate that Dez Bryant is more determined than ever to rebound from his disappointing 2017 season and prove his critics wrong that he is no longer one of the top receivers in the league. I for one am not going to bet against him.

Bryant's work ethic and passion for the game have never been questioned. His desire to be the best is evident anytime you turn on his film, whether it is in a game situation or on the practice field. He takes the "practice like you play" mantra to heart.

Everybody should be encouraged that at this point in his career, Dez Bryant is still looking at ways to improve his game and seek help. Hopefully, working with a well-known receivers coach like David Robinson can take Bryant's game to the next level.

Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (AP Photo/Matt Strasen)

You may not know who David Robinson is (I certainly didn't), but he is well respected around the league and has helped other receivers under his tutelage. Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jordan Reed, and even Cowboys former WR Brice Butler have all benefited from Robinson's coaching.

Dez Bryant has always been regarded as one of those types of receivers who is always open regardless how tight the coverage is around him. His ability to go up and snag the ball out of the air is arguably his best trait, but he could become more dangerous if he can create separation on his own with better route-running.

Unfortunately, Bryant is entering the stage in his career where age becomes a factor and some regression is to be expected. This is why improved route-running could improve any deficiencies Bryant maybe dealing with.

But, what exactly will David Robinson be working on with Dez Bryant?

Robinson told Jane Slater that in his workouts with Dez Bryant, he will concentrate on the expansion of Bryant's route tree, shaking defenders at the line of scrimmage, and improving footwork technique to compensate for any natural loss of speed due to age.

I don't know about you, but I'm actually looking forward to seeing how Bryant responds to Robinson's coaching, hopefully still as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

We all know that Bryant's status with the Cowboys is unknown, at least to those of us on the outside looking in, but I don't see him going anywhere in 2018. There just aren't any vet WRs or rookies who I can see replacing his production. Of course, I could be wrong.

One thing is for sure though, Dez Bryant isn't going to sit on his hands while he waits to find out what his future holds.

Do you think improved route-running will help Dez Bryant's game?

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Star Blog

Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Brian Martin



Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Since becoming the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Rod Marinelli hasn't had too many of his former players follow him to Dallas. In fact, I can only think of one… Henry Melton, and we all know how that turned out.

I don't know about you, but I found that a little strange. It's pretty common for coaches to try to bring some of their players with them when they accept a new job. Familiarity goes a long way in the NFL and former players can also help make the transition easier for everyone.

Strangely enough, Rod Marinelli hasn't really been afforded that luxury, whether it was his doing or not. But, there is a free agent who played under Marinelli's tutelage in Chicago who might make sense for the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Shea McClellin.

Rod Marinelli was the defensive coordinator in Chicago when the Bears decided to draft Shea McClellin 19th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Marinelli likely had a big say in that decision, and if he still feels the same, a reunion could be in order.

Shea McClellin started his career in the NFL as a 4-3 left side defensive end playing opposite Julius Peppers, but was also viewed as a potential Brian Urlacher replacement. He showed flashes of becoming a solid defensive end his first few years in the league, but was eventually moved to linebacker, where he seemed to find a home for himself.

Shea McClellin

New England Patriots LB Shea McClellin

After his contract expired with the Bears, the New England Patriots decided to bring him aboard to help with their linebacker depth. He only ended up starting four games for them in 2016, but made some memorable plays to help the Patriots become the Super Bowl champions.

Unfortunately, the 2017 season wasn't very kind to him. His entire year was wiped out due to a concussion, which probably had a lot to do with why they recently released him.

This of course could be good news for the Dallas Cowboys. They currently need some depth at the linebacker position and Shea McClellin could provide that, if he's healthy. The healthy bit here is key, because he has had problems with concussions in the past.

If McClellin is indeed healthy, he could bring a versatile skill set to the Cowboys defense. His best spot is probably at strong side LB (SAM), but I think he could play middle linebacker (MIKE) as well. He also could provide depth at defensive end, the position he played to start his NFL career.

With the LB depth a concern, Shea McClellin makes quite a bit of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, his past history with concussions is a red flag, but it also drives down his asking price. I think he would definitely fall into that "bargain shopping" mentality the Cowboys have been using these last few offseasons.

He probably wouldn't be viewed as a very important signing, but you still need these types of players on your team in order to succeed in the NFL. Let's see if the Dallas Cowboys agree.

Do you think a Rod Marinelli and Shea McClellin reunion is in order?

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