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The Jason Garrett-Era Has Hit Rock Bottom

Kevin Brady

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The Jason Garrett-Era Has Hit Rock Bottom

There have been some turbulent moments during Jason Garrett's time as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. They've suffered a 4-12 season, missed the playoffs five times, and been on the other end of some brutal blowouts.

But nothing during this Jason Garrett era compares to what has happened to the Dallas Cowboys over the last calendar year. Nothing. 

One year ago Monday Night, veteran Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali declared that the Dallas Cowboys were the best team in football. And at the time, it made sense. Dallas had just gotten finished destroying one of the AFC's best teams in the Chiefs, controlling the tempo from start to finish. The offensive line imposed their will, the running game was top notch, and Dak Prescott played one of the better games of his young career.

They were 5-3, and many thought they had a chance to sneak up on people as an NFC Wild Card team.

This morning things feel very different. Very different. About as different as they could feel. It's become abundantly clear that the trio which heads this offense will not work. Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Dak Prescott. None have been good enough, and as a collective unit, they've been one of the league's worst.

Maybe Dak Prescott can be salvaged under a creative offensive staff the way Jared Goff was in Los Angeles. Maybe Jason Garrett can redeem himself as a head coach if given a quarterback more similar to the skill set of Tony Romo. Maybe. But what's for sure is that together, as head coach and quarterback, this relationship has run its course.

This is rock bottom. Sure they hit a stretch in November last season where they suffered blowout loss after blowout loss, but there were reasonable excuses for it. Ezekiel Elliott was suspended. Tyron Smith was injured. Sean Lee was out. Now? This is the team which Garrett, Linehan and staff have built. They are no more injured than your average NFL team, but they are playing worse than that average level.

Especially on offense, which is allegedly their head coach's specialty.

Over the next few weeks losses will probably come. Two games against Philadelphia, one on the road against the surging Atlanta Falcons, and one against arguably the league's best New Orleans Saints. But free fall in the short term may be what's best for the Dallas Cowboys in the long term.

I do believe this team will fight. They always do. And while they are relatively talented, and should be competitive week to week, the coaching and quarterback play may be just too much to overcome. Of course it's not all Dak's fault, or all Garrett's fault. The offensive line hasn't played up to their billing, the receivers have been lackluster most weeks, and despite their hype the defense failed them multiple times last night.

But winning and losing in the NFL starts at the top. And the top contains the head coach, play caller, and quarterback. Unfortunately, it's become tough to believe Jerry Jones will pull the trigger on what look like necessary changes.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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If Sean Lee’s the Cowboys Starting SAM LB, Who’s his Backup?

Brian Martin

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Do the Dallas Cowboys Have a Sean Lee Backup Plan?

If you believe the talk around the water cooler, Sean Lee is going to be the Dallas Cowboys starting strong side (SAM) linebacker in 2019.

On paper this looks like a brilliant move. It puts the Cowboys best three linebackers (Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and Sean Lee) on the field the same time when they are in their base defense. It should also help "General Lee" healthwise since the SAM LB over the last three years (Damien Wilson) never played more than 30% of the defensive snaps.

But, we all know No. 50 has struggled to remain healthy for an entire season pretty much his whole career. What happens if he once again succumbs to the injury bug? Who do the Dallas Cowboys plan on making his backup?

I think second-year LB Chris Covington, not to be confused with DT Christian Covington, could get the first crack at becoming Lee's backup. At 6'2", 245 pounds, he has the size to play SAM, but he's unproven and will have to prove himself in training camp and preseason to become a serious consideration.

There may be a dark course candidate to become Sean Lee's primary backup.

Luke Gifford

Dallas Cowboys LB Luke Gifford

Luke Gifford, an undrafted LB out of Nebraska, was supposedly pretty impressive in previous summer workouts. He's been spoken pretty highly of already, but like Covington needs to prove himself. Could he be another undrafted hidden gem?

Dallas Cowboys Staff Writer Bryan Broaddus seems to like what he's seen so far from Gifford.

"If there is a young linebacker to keep an eye on I have a sneaky feeling about Gifford. This kid has a nose for the ball. He plays well on the move and he's a finisher when he gets into position to make plays. Gifford can play both inside and out which gives him that flexibility coaches covet. Where Gifford is going to have to make his mark is in these padded practices and then in preseason games. I have already seen flashes of traits and instincts and range which makes me believe he could pull this off."

You can't help but like the way Broaddus talks about Luke Gifford. He sounds like the kind of depth player the Cowboys like due to his versatility and skill set, but he's going to have to continue to prove himself when the pads come on if he wants to stick around. That's the life of an undrafted free agent though.

It may seem a little odd to talk abbout backup players this early, but because of Sean Lee's inability to remain healthy it could be an important position battle to keep an eye on once training camp gets underway. I know I'm going to be keeping a close eye on Chris Covington (#59) and Luke Gifford (#57). What about you?

Who do you think will become Sean Lee's primary backup at SAM LB?



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Trysten Hill Could Make the Interior Defensive Line Complete

Matthew Lenix

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Trysten Hill Could Make the Interior Defensive Line Dominant

Confusion. Probably the first word that came to minds of Dallas Cowboys fans worldwide when the 58th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft was announced, considering the glaring need at safety. Nonetheless, the team decided to buffer its defensive line by selecting Defensive Tackle Trysten Hill out of Central Florida.

Reports say there was a decision to be made between Hill and Virginia Safety Juan Thornhill at 58, with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and Defensive Backs Coach/Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard ultimately convincing everyone Hill was the guy. Looking back on the Cowboys playoff loss to the Rams, it isn't hard to understand why this particular decision was made. They were gashed for 273 rushing yards that night, after holding the league's top rushing attack under 80 yards between four ball carriers in their win against Seattle.

Trysten is excellent against the run, racking up 20 career tackles for loss, including an unreal 10.5 in 2018. Even though the NFL is more of a passing league now, stopping the run is a formula that will always work, you want to make teams one-dimensional.

Character concerns were one of the major sticking points against the selection of Hill. He went from a starter in 2017 to a rotation guy in 2018. Even though he played a lot of football, and played well, why was his role reduced? Head Coach Jason Garrett quickly dispelled any questions about Hill's character, after talking with former UCF Head Coach Scott Frost.

"The staff who was there before, Scott Frost and his group, we spent a lot of time with them, talked to them, and they endorsed him highly, both as a player and as a person. He did a good job in that environment. And even though he wasn't a starter this past year, he did play a lot of football for them and played a lot of football for them in critical times," Garret said.

Not only was he one of the 30 guys that came into the team's facility for pre-draft visits, but he also had a sit-down with the Cowboys at the combine in Indianapolis. To top it all off, he had a workout lead by his future Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli at UCF's pro day, where he received high praise.

With that praise came a "Work Ethic" contract signed by Hill between himself and Marinelli. Explaining what is expected of him day in and day out in terms of hard work, preparation and dedication. A very unique approach by Marinelli, and one that Hill is more than willing to honor.

"I can't put into words how important our relationship is with each other. He wants the best out of me and I want to give him everything I've got. Him really taking hold of me this whole process, and me being able to call him and chat with him and hear his voice was huge in this whole ordeal," Hill said.

If that doesn't give you goosebumps I don't know what will.

Antwaun Woods is the starter at the 1-technique defensive tackle position. He was a big reason the Cowboys finished fifth against the run last season. Hill will have to battle it out in camp with Maliek Collins to see who will put his name at the top of the depth chart as the team's starter at the 3-technique. Hill could edge out Collins, but being that he's in a contract year he definitely won't make it easy on the rookie. Throw in Tyrone Crawford, Daniel Ross, and Christian Covington this group can be productive where quarterbacks hate getting pressure from the most, straight up the middle.

He's young, raw and full of potential. A close bond has already been formed with Marinelli, which can only boost the confidence of a 21-year-old kid ready to take the NFL by storm. The lights shine the brightest in Big D, it's all there for him, now it's up to him to become "King of the Hill" so to speak.



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The Ringer Names Byron Jones, La’el Collins As Potential Trade Bait

Kevin Brady

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Byron Jones, #31

The Ringer's Robert Mays published a piece this week discussing the most realistic blockbuster type trades which could go down in the NFL this summer.

And, as tends to be the case, there were Dallas Cowboys all over his list.

Mays named both cornerback Byron Jones and right tackle La'el Collins as players which could potentially be on the move prior to the season starting.

The reasoning? (You've probably heard) the Cowboys have a lot of players to pay these next two offseasons, both Collins and Jones being on the list, and they have a good amount of talent at their position groups already.

"Dallas is slated to have about $75 million in cap space in 2020, according to Over The Cap, but that number is a bit misleading. A new contract for Dak Prescott is imminent, and even if the Cowboys manage to keep his cap figure relatively low in the deal’s first year, he will probably still cost at least $15 million against the cap next season. Combine that with the fact that Jones, Collins, and linebacker Jaylon Smith all have deals that expire this year, and Dallas’s robust cap space starts to shrink quickly."

The reasoning makes logical sense, though I don't see the trades actually happening. The Cowboys are going for it this year, looking to win their sixth Super Bowl and first in over two decades. Whether or not it'll happen is, of course, up in the air, but their roster is good enough to make you believe they have a real shot at contending. Trading away one, or two, of their returning starters would likely take them farther from their ultimate goal in 2019.

Robert Mays also put the Cowboys in discussions to trade with the Raiders again, this time for safety Karl Joseph.

"Dallas signed George Iloka this spring to bolster its safety depth, but the position remains the biggest weakness on an otherwise strong roster. Dallas has more than $19 million in cap space, so it would have no issue taking on Joseph’s relatively modest deal. Players selected by a departed GM are often excellent trade targets, and it seems like the Cowboys could land Joseph for the right price."

Now this is a deal I could get behind.

Dallas still likely has a hole at safety, though there is reason to be hopeful about the prospects for George Iloka in 2019. If by the middle of the season Dallas is still looking for a suitable starter and upgrade over Jeff Heath, maybe they'll toss a day two or three pick at the Raiders and see if they can snag Karl Joseph.

Trading with the Raiders in 2018 worked out pretty well, after all.



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