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Dallas Cowboys

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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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. BIG RON

    February 5, 2009 at 11:27 am

    OLD VETS, YES WE NEED SOMEONE LIKE A RAY LEWIS TO PUT GUYS LIKE TO,ROMO,AND COACH”S IN THERE PLACE, SHIT THE OWERS CANT, GOOD LEADERS LEAD GOOD FOOTBALL TEAMS WE NEED AN OLD VET ON ‘D’ TO LEAD, RAY COULD DO IT AND TAKE US WHERE WE NEED TO BE SORRY THATS MY STORY AND IM CLUED TO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Bryson Treece

    February 5, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Problem with that is you don’t bring in a leader. A leader is someone that’s already there when he becomes the leader. It’s likely that TO was considered a leader in San Fran, I’ll have to check. Lewis coming here might cause more problems than TO being here simply because players won’t like him being brought in as their leader without first being their teammate.

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Dallas Cowboys

Did DC Rod Marinelli Have Increased Role in Cowboys Loss at Rams?

Sean Martin

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Did DC Rod Marinelli Have Increased Role in Cowboys Loss at Rams?

The Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss at the Los Angeles Rams is still fresh on the minds of their players, staff, and front office. So much so that the team had to fan the flames on a Jason Garrett comment expecting Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan to return. Garrett himself walked back this "report" once Stephen Jones noted it's still too early for any coaching staff changes. The focus will remain on Linehan's post until it's removed or the Cowboys OC is retained, but one coordinator the Cowboys now expect to keep is Rod Marinelli on defense.

Marinelli himself disputed the season-long belief that this was likely his last as the Cowboys defensive coordinator. With Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard not taking any of the three HC positions he interviewed for, Marinelli doesn't have to worry about shuffling his title to accommodate Richard - who called the plays from week one this season anyway.

Rod's title does include his specialty as defensive line coach though, a unit that the Rams dominated with their offensive line to a historic degree. The Rams' season-high 273 rushing yards was provided by both Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson surpassing 100 yards on the ground, the first time in team history they've had two backs reach this mark in a single playoff game.

Rams HC Sean McVay hardly had to reach into his vaunted 'bag of tricks' to expose the Cowboys defense in a way they hadn't been all year, but there was still an element of brilliance in his offensive game plan. It came out after the game that the Rams picked up on the keys the Dallas defensive linemen used to signal stunts and twists before the snap. While this is nothing more than just great scouting yielding an unforeseen advantage, it's left the Cowboys with more than enough time to ponder what went wrong in the Coliseum.

Danny Heifetz on Twitter

The Rams offensive line knew what the Cowboys defensive line was going to do before the snap on Saturday. https://t.co/oGo6Eiz4av

The answer to this may be nothing other than the coaching questions the Cowboys are already considering. With Richard's interviews in Tampa Bay, Miami, and New York coming at the beginning of the week leading up to game day, it's possible Marinelli had a larger say in the Cowboys preparation on defense.

It was Marinelli's defense that conceded 412 yards to the Rams in 2017 in a loss at AT&T Stadium. Matching him up with McVay leaves a lot to be desired, while Richard helps bridge this gap - something he was seen desperately trying to do on the sideline with a battered Cowboys defense.

As each day of the offseason passes, a change at either coordinator position becomes less likely in Dallas. On offense, the play caller has more than a season's worth of evidence showing the deficiencies of the Cowboys attack. In a league fueled by recency bias however, Marinelli certainly didn't leave his best performance on the field in Los Angeles.

Somewhere in the middle of this is Jason Garrett, safely in place as the head coach that should be personally trying to upgrade his top two assistants however possible. Marinelli signing up for another year makes this hard on defense, though Richard should resume play calling duties next season.

Again, this leaves the onus of the Cowboys improvements for 2019 on the offensive side of the ball, something that'll be realized when the shock of their defense letting them down in the biggest game of the season is gone.

Tell us what you think about "Did DC Rod Marinelli Have Increased Role in Cowboys Loss at Rams?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Getting Over $30 Million Cap Space from Expiring Dead Money

Jess Haynie

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Tony Romo, Dez Bryant

You may have already heard that the Dallas Cowboys will be flush with salary cap space in 2019, and that's very accurate. A huge portion of it comes from over $30 million in expiring cap penalties, otherwise known as "dead money."

Quick explanation; dead money occurs when a player is released or retires prior to the expiration of their contract. Any guaranteed money, such as the original signing bonus or money converted in a restructuring, that has not yet been paid out according to the contract schedule is accelerated.

For example, when Tony Romo retired after 2016, he still had $19.6 million in guaranteed money owed to him. Dallas chose to split this dead money over two years, and thus had a $10.7 cap penalty in 2017 and $8.9 million last season.

But now Romo's dead money, along with Dez Bryant's and several other players, is coming off the Cowboys' books. The result is a roughly $30 million infusion of salary cap space for 2019.

Here were the major culprits for last year's dead money:

(All cap figures are taken from Spotrac.com)

  • QB Tony Romo - $8.9 million
  • WR Dez Bryant - $8 million
  • DT Cedric Thornton - $2.5 million
  • CB Orlando Scandrick - $2.3 million
  • CB Nolan Carroll - $2 million
  • WR Deonte Thompson - $1.8 million
  • DE Benson Mayowa - $1.1 million
  • K Dan Bailey - $800 thousand
  • TE James Hanna - $750 thousand

Those players alone make up a little over $28 million. Another $4 million or so came from over 30 players with lesser penalties that still added up.

Right now, the Cowboys have only $1.76 million in dead money on their 2019 salary cap. Nearly all of that is the $1.6 million still owed to Orlando Scandrick.

That difference is where the cap space comes from, and it will be of tremendous help to Dallas as they have major financial moves coming. They need to re-sign DeMarcus Lawrence, deal with a major salary bump for Amari Cooper, and consider a contract extension for Dak Prescott.

The 2019 number will change, of course, as the offseason rolls on. If Dallas elects to release players like Sean Lee, Tyrone Crawford, or others, some dead money will appear. But that will be offset by whatever cap savings motivated the move in the first place.

This is a good reminder of why the Cowboys' new era of fiscal conservatism is a good thing. After years of what felt like perpetual "salary cap hell," they are finally getting out from under those penalties and have complete flexibility this offseason. They may not even need to cut a guy like Crawford, who they almost would have been forced to in past seasons.

We'll be talking a lot more about individual players and their contracts in the weeks ahead, but this summary helps us see that Dallas isn't nearly up against the financial wall as they have been. We still miss guys like Romo and Dez, but we won't miss that awful dead money in 2019.



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Cowboys Expect C Travis Frederick Back for Offseason Program

Jess Haynie

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Travis Frederick

Lost in yesterday's hoopla over Scott Linehan's return was a positive report about Center Travis Frederick. In his comments to the media, Jason Garrett said that Frederick's recovery timetable should allow him to a full participant in the team's offseason program.

After never missing a start in his first five years, Travis missed all of 2018 dealing with the effects of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The disease attacked his neurological system and required immediate and intensive treatment.

Rob Phillips on Twitter

Jason Garrett says the team anticipates Travis Frederick being involved in the offseason program right from the start this spring if he continues on the same positive track in recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome. #cowboyswire

While Joe Looney performed admirably in Frederick's absence, he's not an elite talent. Travis has been arguably the best center in the NFL since entering the league in 2013.

It's hard to qualify what effect not having Frederick had on the Cowboys offense in 2018. Ezekiel Elliott still led the league in rushing, but short-yardage plays weren't as automatic as we've seen in past years. A 4th-and-1 stuff was part of what led to the Cowboys' loss this past Saturday.

Dak Prescott was the second-most sacked QB in the NFL in 2018. After being sacked just 25 and 32 times in his first two seasons, the number skyrocketed to 56 sacks.

That's not all on Frederick, of course. Tyron Smith had some health issues and there were was turnover at left guard.

But having your All-Pro veteran center out there to help with the pre-snap reads, and help the rookie guard on his left, might have helped avoid some of those issues.

Indeed, Travis Frederick's return is just one of many reasons for optimism with the 2019 season. One of the best players on the team, he was sorely missed this year and can only help as Dallas looks to build on their division title and playoff appearance.



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