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The Problem With Old Greats

Bryson Treece

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If there is anything I've learned over the years being a Cowboys fan it's this, you don't win championships with another team's talent.

We've seen it many times in Dallas in this 12 year post-season drought, with the remarkable exceptions likely being either Terrell Owens or Zach Thomas; both current players. We have seen good come from these worn out vets, like Romo stepping in for Bledsoe and not only shocking this fan nation back to life, but doing so after learning from an intelligent and once very solid quarterback.

Even when Romo took over for him, it wasn't because Drew had forgotten how to play like it appears Brad Johnson has, and it wasn't because he never did anything great. He was a recycled quarterback from Parcels glory days. And he wasn't the only one that "The Tuna" brought in.

I guess Big Bill thought quarterbacking was like coaching, even past the expiration date, cheese can still be good. I don't think Bledsoe or Testaverde were ever comparable to even something like cottage cheese while in Dallas, but they weren't so bad that they single handedly caused seasons to go down the drain.

I mean look at Kurt Warner, how many times has he been written off since that famed season with the Rams in which he led them to a Super Bowl victory, unlike last night as the Cardinals top guy. Yet there he was last night, and nobody was saying, "if Warner can limit his mistakes, they'll have a shot." In fact, the worst I heard said about him was from John Madden seconds after the 45 yard completion to Boldin, and it was simply a comment about his ability to throw it deep when he has enough time in the pocket.

Again, it's less about not taking players well beyond any ability, but taking players that have made a career, a long career, in another city is just not working out too well across the league.

So the talk of picking up players like Ray Lewis and Julius Peppers just sounds like more of the same, and we all know how that's been so far. I was for the Peppers trade at first, but only when I figured there was a chance he'd stick with a defensive end spot. As time goes by it becomes clearer that he wants be a DeMarcus Ware and switch to a 3-4 and the OLB spot.

The problem for the Cowboys there is simple though; Ware isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Jerry Jones is going to compromise his ability to fill other holes on the team to make sure of that. So that leaves the left side where Ellis and Spencer are currently. Spencer is up and coming still, as long as he stays healthy, and has much more upside than Peppers does at this point, and Ellis would likely contemplate suicide before quitting the team if Peppers were signed. That is a distraction that none of us need, let alone these Dallas Cowboys.

And let's say we do sign Peppers and figure out a way to make the whole Peppers-Ellis-Spencer thing work out, you're going to get maybe 4 or 5 years out of Peppers. The same thing goes for Ray Lewis really.

You'd get a few years out of him and there's no telling how he'd play. A backup has never been the leader of a team with any positive outcome, not even Keith Davis. The one thing that the Lewis rumor has going for it is our need for a good inside linebacker, whether Thomas and Kevin Burnett leave or not.

But perhaps the biggest gamble when signing another teams long standing talent is their ability to adjust. Most of the top players that the media is rumoring and drooling over are on teams that have had consistent coaching, meaning one coach for most of their career and in a system that changed little, if at all.

Suddenly you want to take a guy like Lewis, who is practically a house-hold name as power LB, and throw him into a new defensive scheme. Sure, there may be some similarities and overall you'd expect a team to make some accommodations for a guy like that, but then you're also changing what you've been teaching your guys, some of them too young and inexperienced to handle changes like that right away.

Look at Owens, who has been very vocal about his desires to use more of a west coach offense, his bread and butter before joining the Eagles. And even they used him in a similar way, unlike Garrett and Parcels have since he joined Dallas. He was great before coming to Dallas and that's why he was signed, but he hasn't adjusted to this offense well enough to be great again. By great, I mean that a 1,000 yard season shouldn't be a surprise or even worth mentioning.

All in all, while there is something to be gained from seasoned veteran free agents, it's just another project in the long run. Hasn't the Cowboys' "long run" been long enough?



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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Dallas Cowboys

WR Randall Cobb Named Cowboys “Surprise Standout” for Offseason

Jess Haynie

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Randall Cobb

NFL teams have wrapped up their offseason activities with the close of OTAs, especially where the players are concerned, and await the start of training camps next month. In reviewing the last few months, ESPN had their local reporters each pick a surprise standout from their team's practices. Todd Archer, who covers the Dallas Cowboys full time, selected veteran receiver Randall Cobb.

Cobb is in his first season with Dallas after signing as a free agent last March. He's spent the last eight years with the Green Bay Packers and was a Pro Bowler in 2014, but has struggled with injuries the last few seasons.

Here were Archer's observations on how Randall is doing so far with the Cowboys:

Normally a player with Cobb's résumé -- 470 catches for 5,524 yards and 41 touchdowns during his career -- would not be considered for a category like this. But injuries limited him to only nine games and 38 catches for Green Bay in 2018, and it was hard to know what the Cowboys were getting in the veteran receiver.

If the offseason work is any indication, they have found a replacement for Cole Beasley. Cobb's versatility can expand the offense for others, such as Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Cobb looked quick in and out of his breaks and fast enough to make plays down the field. Will he put up the 1,287 yards he had in 2014? No, but he gives Dak Prescott a security blanket in the slot who can turn a small gain into a big one.

The notion of Cobb replacing Beasley is a big one. While we'd like to think that Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup will provide plenty of firepower for the Cowboys offense, Dak Prescott has enjoyed a reliable threat from the slot position since he arrived.

Randall Cobb, when healthy, can do more than just make clutch catches. He has good run-after-catch skills and perhaps bring more big play potential than Beasley did.

If Cooper and Gallup do emerge as a dangerous starting duo on the outside, Cobb should have even more opportunities to punish defenses than Beasley did.

If nothing else, it's very encouraging to hear that one of the Cowboys' few 2019 free agent moves is already reaping benefits. Cobb still needs to bring it over a full season to really justify the move, but these early reports are cause for excitement.



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Player News

BREAKING: Cowboys TE Rico Gathers Receives One-Game Suspension

Jess Haynie

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Rico Gathers

Tight End Rico Gathers already had an uphill climb to return to the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster in 2019. But that climb just got even steeper; the NFL handed down a one-game suspension to Gathers today for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

If he does make the team this year, with Dallas or anyone else, Rico will have to sit out Week One of the season without pay.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys TE Rico Gathers is suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL's policy and program on substances of abuse. This is from his arrest in 2018 for marijuana possession.

Gathers' chances of returning in 2019 were already hurt by Jason Witten's reversed retirement. He dropped to fourth on the TE depth chart behind Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz, and Dallas only kept three tight ends last year.

The Cowboys also added Codey McElroy as a developmental player during the offseason.

While the suspension is news, the incident that led to it is not. Dallas already knew about the arrest, which occurred in early September of 2018, and have kept Gathers around up until now.

The NFL's substance abuse system is pretty formulaic, so the Cowboys likely anticipated this suspension all along. This may not change anything about how they value Rico Gathers for the 2019 season.

Nevertheless, a player who can't help you in Week One and is a liability for ever longer suspensions down the road is definitely a red flag against Gathers' job security.



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Player News

Antwaun Woods: Cowboys DT is Just Getting Started

Matthew Lenix

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Antwaun Woods is just getting started

Antwaun Woods went undrafted in 2016 coming out of USC. After two years with the Tennessee Titans, he would only see one game of action. In May of 2018, the Cowboys signed Woods to a two-year contract worth 1.05 million. Probably seen as nothing more than a practice squad guy, Woods would quickly show he was much more than that.

The newly acquired Woods started his climb to stardom in Oxnard during training camp, and not for making plays. One day during practice he got into a friendly game of fisticuffs with All-Pro Center Travis Frederick. The team even posted the video on social media, which had fans buzzing and wanting to know who he was.

All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott echoed those thoughts when he saw Woods during camp. "Honestly, when we first got him, we were like, 'Who is this guy?'. He was giving Travis Frederick, one of our best players, hell all camp. Just trying to figure out where this guy came from," Elliott said.

Once the regular season started it was clear the Cowboys had found a hidden gem. Although the sack numbers won't dazzle you, seeing as he only registered 1.5, you could forget about running the ball anywhere near him. Woods has amazing quickness for a 300 pounder which allows him to extend his arms before offensive lineman can get a hand on him.

How significant is that? It becomes that much easier to bull rush and blow running plays up in the backfield.

When you can get your hands on an offensive lineman immediately when the ball is snapped, he's basically under your control. You can move him around like a puppet on a string. Essential for a 1-technique nose tackle. With that being said, there should be no surprise the Cowboys finished fifth against the run in 2018 with Woods manning the middle.

Woods draws a lot of double teams, and he handles them well. Having the ability to take on multiple linemen frees up your other playmakers. As the anchor in the middle, Woods made life a lot easier for not only his fellow defensive linemen but the team's two young star Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Allowing them to roam freely like Lions in the Serengeti makes running backs essentially Zebra's carrying the ball, cooked food. So much so that both tallied over 120 tackles and were the only teammates in the NFL to rank in the top 15 in that category.

There's nothing but upside with Antwaun Woods. He's only had 18 games of experience in three years. He's already a stud, but with limited snaps, it can only mean he'll be even more formidable going forward.

The Cowboys have a loaded defensive lineman group with around 15 bodies, plenty of competition. All signs point to him remaining the starter, but it's not guaranteed. Even with that being said I don't expect a complacency from Woods, especially with DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn looking like the only sure starters on the defensive line. Plus this is a contract year for him, so you know he'll be even more motivated as he tries to maximize his dollars. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg from this raw talent, setting up for a potential breakout year for him in 2019.



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