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The Proprietary Blend

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It’s that dreaded time of year where OTA’s have passed and Training Camp is less than two weeks away.   If you are reading this post, it is likely in the aftermath of your daily dose of the Dallas Cowboys online columnist, Dallas Morning News online, The Ft. Worth Star Telegram online, ESPN.com, NFL.com, and all the other syndicated online media outlets and Cowboy’s related blog’s.

You are probably familiar with the cliched Eldorado Owens ala Randy Galloway and his disciples (aka Jennifer Floyd Engel), you are well-acquainted with the orginal apologist Mickey Spagnolia who sit’s on the fence from time to time but never crosses it, you have read the redundant “Coachable” reference to Roy Williams (11) via Tim MacMahon ad nauseum,  are very familiar with the word “gutless” per Jean Jacques Taylor, you have digested the homegrown Matt Moseley’s input, who is known for painstakingly maintaining his non-biased opinion, even if it means showing preference to every team in the NFCE aside from the Cowboy’s, and Clarence Hill who seems to struggle not to adopt the same abject indifference that his colleague’s are plagued with in view of their typical article output in regards to the Cowboy’s (inhale).  The truth is, in your search for something related to the Cowboy’s at this time of year you are only looking for hope….that is, if you are anything like me.  You want someone with even an ounce of credibility and the slightest bit of football understanding to say, “watch out for this 2009 edition of the Cowboy’s, because they are dangerous.”

Well, hopefully, I will do.

The first thing that make’s them dangerous is underestimation.  Normally underestimation in football is ruined by the preseason, when game’s don’t count.  By the time the regular season start’s, most team’s that are dangerous will have been identified.  Unfortunately, for the average fan, it’s not as easy as looking at the final scores and the win/loss ratio at the end of the 4 games to know what teams to look out for.  No, there is quite a bit more to it; especially considering that the object for the Head Coach is to evaluate talent, not win the game.  Every game played by every team will be examined very closely.  They will be looking at the possible match-ups and mis-matches.  They will be looking at the rookies to see what impact they may have.  They will look at the play’s and start putting together a list of the head coaches, or the individual responsible for calling the play’s, tendencies.  They will also break down each player’s tendencies, such as, foot work, hand placement, stance, route running, pre-snap movement’s that may provide insight on what the unit as a whole will be doing, etc.  Each team typically has a group of people assigned to researching opponent’s to the extent of knowing what the opposition likes for breakfast before the game (maybe that’s overstating a bit, but you get the idea).

But in the Cowboy’s case, the circumstances are slightly different.  Usually, a team get’s embarrassed through underestimation as a result of one or several of the opposition’s player’s coming out of no where and playing beyond their normal limitations.  While that may prove to be true with the Cowboy’s having several unproven players such as Miles Austin, Anthony Spencer, and Gerald Sensabaugh to name a few, what make’s the Cowboy’s situation unique is the world know’s that the Cowboy’s are one of the better collective’s of talent in the league, and yet still believe the Cowboy’s are doomed to fail.  Why?  Aside from being the anti-sexy pick, the expert’s predominantly point to the lack of leadership, chemistry, heart, past success, and other intangible’s.

As a fan, I’d rather my team be missing one of the aforementioned invisible monster’s then be convinced that it will take another round of Free Agency and the draft for this team to compete.  If all they are missing is a word and all it’s applicable meaning, they can get that at any time in the season.  They may even start the season with the word firmly in it’s rightful place and shock the world!  As far as leadership is concerned, on all side’s of the ball, those who are expected to be leader’s is much more clear than last year.  On Offense, Witten and Romo are the clear cut leaders.  On defense, Ware, James, Newman and Hamlin will be running the show.  Last year, in my mind, it wasn’t a lack of leader’s that was the problem, but the presence of too many leaders that caused issues.  The idea that the Cowboy’s lacked heart and chemistry is subjective.  The problem with that analysis is winning typically is  a cure-all for those issues and losing is a catalyst for them.

The other side of the Cowboy’s depreciated value is a result of what the Cowboy’s interdivisional foes were able to accomplish in Free Agency and the draft.  The Eagle’s bolstered their offensive line with the acquisition of Jason Peter’s (OT) and Stacy Andrews (G) and improved the overall speed of their secondary with Sean Jones through Free Agency.  The Eagle’s draft focused on providing recently resigned Donovan McNabb with several new weapons such as the highly-touted rookie wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, the bruiser running back LeSean McCoy and what many are describing as a draft steal, Tight End Cornelius Ingrum found in the 5th round.

The Giant’s were able to significantly improve their defensive depth with Free Agent’s Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard, Lee Vickers and Michael Boley.  With the loss of Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer and Derrick Ward to free agency (or legal issues in the case of Plaxico), the Giant’s focused on offense in the draft picking up Hakeem Nicks (WR) in the first round, Ramses Barden (WR) in the third, Travis Beckum (TE) also in the 3RD and Andre Brown (RB) in the 4th.  Not to be overlooked, Clint Sintim was picked up in the 2nd round and will likely play a huge role in their various pass rushing schemes.

While the Redskin’s didn’t make too much noise in Free Agency, quite possibly the most talked about acquisition was Albert Haynesworth (DT), the player who imfamously stomped on Andre Gurode’s head while he was on the ground.  They were also able to extend DeAngelo Hall’s contract, the inconsistent, yet dynamic CB acquired from the Raider’s during last season.  In the draft the Redskins focused on defense, there most significant choice being Brian Orakpo, who will be transitioning to LB for the Redskins.

Meanwhile, the Cowboy’s Free Agency and Draft was fairly quiet.  No big names.  No 1st or 2nd round pick.  At face value, it is easy to see why many believe while the above team’s improved, the Cowboy’s ability to compete slowly deteriorated with the losses of T.O., Chris Canty, Zach Thomas, Roy William’s, Kevin Burnett, Tank Johnson, Anthony Henry, and Pacman Jones.   That’s one major starter on Offense , 3 primary starter’s on defense and 3 situational starters on defense and special teams.  How did the Cowboy’s replace these players?  T.O.’s replacement was acquired in the middle of the 08 season:  Roy Williams.  Chris Canty was replaced by Igor Olshansky.  Zach Thomas was replaced by Keith Brookings.  Roy Williams (SS) was replaced by Gerald Sensabaugh.  Kevin Burnett will be replaced by either Bobbie Carpenter, Brandon William’s or Stephen Hodge.  Anthony Henry and Pacman Jones will be replaced by last year’s rookies Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick.  Tank Johnson will likely be replaced by Junior Siavii.

Chances are, prior to their acquisition, none of these name’s truly stood out at first glance, for the exception of Roy Williams (WR).  Nevertheless, were I to list all the player’s of team’s who have won Super Bowl’s throughout the tenure of the game, chances are you would be familiar with fewer names than those who are considered icon’s to the sport.  Every team in the history of the game has their legends.  But Superbowl’s are not won by the effort’s of individuals.  It takes all 53 player’s a team is afforded in a given season to reach that supreme goal.  Some may never see the playing field, but in one way or another every player contributes to the end result.  My point?  The Cowboy’s may not have replaced big names with big name’s, but if these acquisition’s can at least be solid at their perspective position, there are plenty of names still on this team that can use that firm base to take off like a rocket.

Examples:  If Anthony Spencer can, at least, provide even a moderate threat in the blitzing game, opposing offenses won’t be able to focus all their attention on Demarcus Ware, and without a double-team, Ware will get to the quarterback/ball carrier more often than not.  If Sensabaugh can cover, the Cowboy’s will be able to send more player’s on blitzes and will have more flexibility in their base defense to cover a slot receiver should one be motioned out in a pre-snap adjustment.  If Igor Olshansky can hold at the point of attack, the LB’s will be able to make play’s just as effectively as if it were still Canty there.   If Roy William’s can, at least, make team’s pay for single man coverage, the Cowboy’s should be able run all over team’s with their diversley talented trio of RB’s and the TE’s should see open flat’s and clear intermediate seam’s on a fairly regular basis.  So, again, while the Cowboy’s may not have added weapon’s of the same caliber our interdivisional foes did, the truth is, the Cowboy’s really didn’t need anymore.  The only issue of note is the coveted conundrum of putting together a plan that exercises all the Cowboy’s weapons in an effective and efficient manner.

When the smoke clear’s following Training Camp and Preseason, the Cowboy’s will likely be regarded with caution, but ultimately wishful-thinking of the “they’re bound to implode eventually” variety will prevail among most of those who choose to voice or write their opinion on the Cowboy’s.  What we as fan’s must keep in mind is the vast majority of the media and experts were made to look like idiot’s last year as their preordained Super Bowl winner failed to even make the Play Offs.  As the cliche goes, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.  Therefore, when  in your search for hope all you find is reluctance and criticism of the Cowboy’s upcoming season, what you are seeing is for the most part a reaction to what happened last year.  There is a balance these expert’s and mediots must maintain that heavily involves the credibility of their opinion and, in most cases, they are merely playing the odds and clinging desperately to popular opinion.  But, as we all know, popular opinion does not dictate the outcome.

Make no mistake, these Cowboy’s, barring significant injuries, are extremely dangerous.  Our defense is much faster at each level from the DL to the Secondary than last year’s group.  Our offense is much more balanced and more aware of their strength’s coming in to the season (e.g. the Cowboy’s now know what they have in last year’s rookies, in particular the pleasant suprises Felix, Choice and Martellus Bennett).  Special Teams will undoubtly be much improved with the addition of Special Team’s coach DeCamillis, a revamped youth infused pool of rookies and a handful of players who will have to fight tooth and nail to be a part of the final 53.  The table is set.  The player’s are hungry.  And the feast can’t start soon enough.  Hopefully the buffet will be open until February 2010.

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I am 35, married and a father of 2 boys. I have been a Cowboys fan since Jimmy Johnson took over; not because I had anything against Tom Landry, but because it just so happens I was old enough to start following and understanding football right as that new era began. Since then, I haven't missed games if I could help it.

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3 Comments
  • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

    Right on bro. Good post. Many good points.

  • bags030404

    Good job Johnathan! Very excited about the upcoming season, it should be a good one!

Dallas Cowboys

Should Cowboys Pursue Veteran Backup at Quarterback?

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys en Español: Cooper Rush
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys only have two quarterbacks under contract right now, starter Dak Prescott and backup Cooper Rush. With only three years of combined experience between them, one could argue that a veteran presence would be useful. Should Dallas make a veteran QB a free-agent priority in the 2018 offseason?

Of course, there’s plenty of other QB experience on the Cowboys staff. Head Coach Jason Garrett played professionally from 1989-2004, and started his coaching career with quarterbacks.

Scott Linehan has been coaching offense with an emphasis on the passing game for 30 years.

Kellen Moore, who is taking over for the departed Wade Wilson as quarterbacks coach, has played very recently and will bring a fresh perspective.

However, losing Wilson’s experience from the room, and the lack of any veteran player at QB, shouldn’t be dismissed.

Dak Prescott has said veteran Mark Sanchez — who was with Dallas in 2016 — was a major help during his whirlwind rookie season. Tony Romo enjoyed veteran advice from guys like Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, and Kyle Orton throughout his playing career.

This isn’t to say Dallas would want to bring in a veteran to knock Cooper Rush down the depth chart. After a surprising preseason, Rush took the backup job from Kellen Moore and certainly has intriguing upside.

If the Cowboys were to add a veteran, that player would have to come in with the understanding he’s competing with Cooper and may not be guaranteed a job.

The good news is that it’ll be a buyer’s market for veteran quarterbacks this offseason.

Guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, and Matt Moore could all be available. Even a player with more pedigree, such as Sam Bradford, may have trouble finding starting work with many jobs taken among the NFL’s 32 teams.

Dallas could even consider bringing back Mark Sanchez, given his previous relationship with Dak Prescott. He only had a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

Given Prescott’s seeming durability, Dallas will likely only keep two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in 2018 and for years to come. Because of that, they may be content to focus on Dak and Cooper Rush, and just get through the offseason with training camp bodies.

However, the case can certainly be made for adding another veteran player with the desire to teach to help these young quarterbacks develop. Prescott was not the same guy in 2017 that we saw as a rookie, and perhaps the absence of guys like Sanchez and Tony on the sideline had something to do with that.

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Dallas Cowboys

Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal is a Good Hire for Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal Is A Good Hire For Cowboys

Yesterday, it was announced that the Dallas Cowboys will hire Sanjay Lal to be their new wide receivers coach. Lal spent 2017 with the Indianapolis Colts in the same position, but has made multiple stops around the NFL prior to joining the Cowboys staff.

Most recently and arguably most notably, Sanjay Lal was the receivers coach for both the New York Jets (2012-2014) and the Buffalo Bills (2015-2016). This means he coached on Rex Ryan’s staff for two different teams, with two very similar offensive philosophies.

Run the football.

As seen in the video below, Sanjay Lal has experience working as the wide outs coach for an offense with a run-first philosophy. He even says himself that their offense in New York was “ground and pound,” but notes that “without a pass game there’s no pound.”

Cowboys fans became all too familiar with the truth behind that statement during the 2017 season, as even solid efforts in the run game were rendered meaningless by their lack of explosion through the air.

Jets Nation Inside Camp: Sanjay Lal Mic’d Up

Jets wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal is mic’d up during training camp, and also discusses trying to play pro football before becoming a coach in the NFL.

A lot has been made of Sanjay Lal’s lack of 1,000-yard receivers during his time as a coach. The offensive philosophies of the teams which he coached for, however, show why this criticism is flimsy.

It’s quite possible the Cowboys will once again be without a 1,000 yard pass catcher this season, but if Ezekiel Elliott and the run game are clicking, and Dak Prescott is spreading the ball to different targets, this stat won’t mean a thing.

Lal was also the coach in Buffalo when Sammy Watkins had the best years of his career, including a 1,000-yard season.

During that stint he coached Robert Woods to productive seasons as well. Now Woods is a dangerous target for the Los Angeles Rams after being coached by Lal for multiple seasons.

These were also the same years that quarterback Tyrod Taylor was at his best.

While in New York, with the Jets, Lal’s most productive receiver was Jeremy Kerley, who finished with 827 yards in 2012 and 523 in 2013. What’s important to note here is that Kerley played as a slot receiver for much of his time as a Jet.

The Cowboys lacked any type of production from the slot in 2017, but maybe Lal can change that by getting the best out of Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer, as he did with Kerley.

Bryan Broaddus on Twitter

Know that some believe he had a real shot to be an OC in this league one day. https://t.co/1s21w2jZGR

All indications from those “in the know” suggest Sanjay Lal is on his way to becoming an offensive coordinator soon. Many believe he has the smarts and the football IQ to command an offense himself, as soon as he gets the right opportunity.

Maybe that opportunity will come down the line in Dallas, where he can continue to coach within that “ground and pound” style, which he has done for many years while also implementing elements of his own passing game expertise.

Everyone has been critical of the Cowboys’ inability to bring in external hires, and to spark up new/creative offensive ideas. Lal has spent time among some of the smartest offensive minds in football.

Maybe he’s the man to bring in that outside creativity this offense seems to lack.

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Dallas Cowboys

Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

Sean Martin

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Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

After hiring Paul Alexander to fill their vacant OL coaching position, the Dallas Cowboys are continuing to retool their offensive staff below Scott Linehan. Sanjay Lal has been hired to coach the Cowboys’ wide receivers, replacing Derek Dooley.

Lal has experience as a WR coach with four different teams, dating back to 2009 with the Oakland Raiders. He was promoted up to this position after serving as the Raiders’ quality control coach from 2007-08.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys have reached an agreement with Sanjay Lal to become the team’s WR coach. Lal was with Indianapolis last season and replaces Derek Dooley on the staff.

Most recently, Sanjay Lal coached the receivers for the Indianapolis Colts in 2017. He has also been with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

In this interview with the Colts, Lal mentions being very detail-oriented with a focus on the technical aspects of playing receiver.

Lal beats out former Cowboys WR Miles Austin for this position, earning the right to lead a room of receivers in desperate need of fresh talent. In an offseason that’s been about finding fresh ideas with the coaching staff so far though, the Cowboys have a new voice on offense.

Tell us what you think about “Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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