Dallas Cowboys Football; was there ever a better hobby or pastime? Not for me, aside from family of course, and as we near the midway point in June, and these OTAs wrap up before the minicamp starts, I’ve still got a ways to go before my next Cowboys football fix.
It’s nothing to fret over though, not when we have such brilliant “expert” analysis and coverage as we do from the likes of Fox no less. More specifically, let’s talk about Peter Schrager and his list of the “Top 99 players for '09” – moreover his brown nose special, as I call it.
I’m betting that most of you have heard of it already from the DMN where we learned that only four Cowboys made the list at all. I know many commenters over there were hung up more on where each of those four players were ranked, but there is something to be said for those that didn’t rank at all.
I mean you’ve got Jay “The Rat” Ratliff first and foremost who wasn’t selected to the list. I guess it’s a fair assumption to say that these types of lists usually are directed more at the offensive guys since it’s offense that’s counted on to score touchdowns, but it’s defense that wins games. There are always exceptions to that rule, such as last year in the first match up between the Cowboys and Eagles with a total score of 78 points during that game. But rarely does a pro football game turn out to be a homerun derby anymore.
But let’s take a guy like Albert Haynesworth and put him up against Ratliff for a moment here, and I’m only talking about 2008 regular season stats here. Haynesworth got a top rating of 14 while Ratliff didn’t even make the list. Both are defensive tackles, both have several years of experience. We could go into the vitals here, but size doesn’t always matter if there is solid production, and both guys obviously perform each week.
- Haynesworth hasn’t played more than 14 games in a season since 2002 while Ratliff hasn’t played less than 15 games in a season since his rookie year.
- Haynesworth had 51 total tackles in 2008; Ratliff also had 51 total tackles.
- Haynesworth registered 8.5 sacks to Ratliff’s 7.5 sacks.
- Ratliff’s sacks netted him 56.5 negative yards while Haynesworth only managed 52.5 with an extra sack.
- The only real benefit I see that Haynesworth has over Ratliff is having forced 3 fumbles to Ratliff’s zero, no forced fumbles.
- Ratliff deflected 5 passes and Haynesworth deflected 2 passes.
- They both recovered 1 fumble each.
I look at the numbers, the actual production of each man, and to me it seems more than just a little one-sided for Haynesworth to make any top X list when Ratliff doesn’t. It’s not a bias on my part, it’s just simple math. You have one guy that is great against the run and in getting pressure, and another guy who good against the run, great at getting pressure, and even gets into the passing game.
It’s only worse for picking Haynesworth since his numbers are significantly higher from last year than in years prior. It was a contract year, and as we all know, he has his $100 million dollars now. Ratliff has been playing like he has and hasn’t faced a contract situation yet. Anyone else really interested to see what he does in a contract year?
But the farce goes on though. DeMarcus Ware headlined the Cowboys’ effort on this list making it in at 6, with Tony Romo following behind him in a distant second at 28’th place. Now Ware, well no one for any team would argue that he deserves at least that high of a ranking. Not only are his numbers great, his attitude positive, and his ability tremendous – but his character is high as well. Being the overall sack leader since being drafted helps too.
Romo is another story. It’s a positive of this list in my mind because while there are a lot of bad things to be said for Romo from last season, there are many good things as well. I actually would have expected a much lower rating given the abundant criticism of him lately. He’s a quarterback though, so he would rank higher overall even though he only ranked 9th among quarterbacks. Putting him behind McNabb and Carson Palmer though? Seriously?
I know the guy seems to tank in the final stretch, but surely he’s worth a better ranking than Carson Palmer.
Marion Barber and Jason Witten also made the list, and that’s where my next point starts – Jason Witten ranked 96th of 99 by this fruitcake of a journalist/expert/assclown as one commenter stated it.
He was the third tight end to appear on the list behind Antonia Gates and Tony Gonzales. I’ll agree that Gonzales is good, and has been good for many years, but to say that Witten in his early age isn’t as good as the old fogy Gonzales just isn’t practical.
So yet again this year we are seeing how the rest of the NFL nation is rooting against the Cowboys in 2009, and that’s a great thing to see and hear. This time last season the Cowboys were being hyped as the Super Bowl winners, a mightily premature assumption to say the least.
But this year, while we have been favored at one point to win the Super Bowl in certain betting circles, once Owens was cut, the outlook went downhill. Our draft was rated like a D I think by the experts; the experts say we have huge problems facing us in our passing game and call it for both the QB and WR positions.
Yet all the while Roy Williams is still a top caliber receiver who had a bad year. Tony Romo had the same – a bad year that featured a finger injury that sidelined him for three weeks, and limited him for another three after that. He also had the task of dealing with Owens and his unwarranted and loud requests for more touches.
I think Owens, a 13 year veteran at the time, should be quite well aware of how it works in the NFL – if you produce at a high level, then you get more opportunity to produce, and if you continue to produce with the extra opportunities, then you keep getting them.
He just never seemed to understand that past success does not warrant current and future security. He started dropping balls, he started bailing on routes too early, he did get older and therefore slower, and he did forget to adjust his own way of thinking to fit his age and the new limitations that came with it.
Do I think a team can win games with Owens running routes? I sure do – do I think it can happen on any team currently in the NFL? I really don’t. He simply fails to account for the other 10 guys on the field with him at any given point, and that is why he became expendable for unproven and in some cases rarely tested youth in Dallas. He simply overstayed his welcome, and his vocal complaints and inability to really be a team player are to blame.
So in 2009 Romo gets to actually follow the rules of being a top quarterback again. He can go through his reads, he can release quickly, and he can find the open man – whether it is Witten, Barber, Jones, Williams, Crayton, Austin, or Bennett – he can return to being a quarterback again, instead of simply a TO placeholder.
Maybe Williams won’t be as good as Owens was in 2007, it won’t be because he isn’t producing, but rather because other guys will be producing too. There are only so many balls in a game.
But hey it’s June; we are silly and desperate fans who have no clue what’s what, right? We need to be spoon fed just enough crap to sell the papers and attract visitors. I got to admit that it’s a good theory, write enough bad crap and people will go there simply to see if the rumors are true – someone really is that moronic.
Dallas Cowboys: How “Position-Flex” Has Handcuffed The 2015 Draft Class
Over the last few years the Dallas Cowboys have placed a high level of importance on "position flex." They've drafted Swiss-Army knife players which could be moved around to different positions on the field.
By drafting players like Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods last year, as well as Byron Jones in 2015, the Cowboys have tried to find these versatile players who can be used in multiple ways.
While this seems great on paper, this strategy has handcuffed the majority of their 2015 Draft Class, and is a key reason why the Cowboys seem to be in such a tough spot.
The Cowboys' first round pick in 2015, Byron Jones, quickly became a favorite of mine during his rookie season. Incredibly athletic, long, and skilled in coverage, Jones was able to be both a fantastic cover cornerback and a solid middle-of-the-field safety due to his range.
Due to both injuries to his teammates, and Jones' own versatility, the Cowboys coaching staff couldn't keep Jones in just one spot. Once they discovered how great he was in man coverage against tight ends, they became enamored with trying to play him in the box.
Once in the box, Jones' struggles as a run defender were highlighted, and both the organization and the fans soured on him quickly.
Now it is rumored that Byron Jones will be moving back to cornerback full time. And while I do hope this is the case, the fact that he is in year four, and the Cowboys haven't been able to find their first round pick a permanent home is a huge indictment on their ability to evaluate and develop talent.
Okay, hear me out.
The former third round pick of the 2015 Draft was brought in to be the swing tackle for the Cowboys his rookie year. Mainly due to injuries, Green did not see the field for much of his first two seasons. When he did fill in for Tyron Smith at left tackle in 2016, however, Green was very effective.
Of course, Chaz Green's last appearance with the Cowboys was ugly, giving up a plethora of sacks against the Atlanta Falcons. But Dallas might've made their own bed with Green during the beginning of the 2017 season, when they attempted to move him to left guard full time.
Instead of getting the increased work at tackle, and continuing to work as the swing tackle for the team in case of injury, Dallas started Green at left guard early on in the year. He struggled trying to move positions, and looked even worse when trying to move back to tackle.
Once again, the position flex bit the Cowboys right in the backside.
It's 2018 and we are still talking about what position to play La'el Collins on the offensive line. And that is solely on the coaching staff and front office, not Collins.
Collins was brought in as an undrafted free agent in 2015, but was widely regarded as a first round pick heading into that draft. Though he started at left tackle at LSU, Dallas shifted Collins inside to left guard in 2015. After taking over for Ronald Leary as the starter, Collins produced highlight blocks week after week.
Injuries shortened his 2016 campaign, but heading into 2017 the Cowboys decided to shift him back out to right tackle. Despite some early struggles, Collins progressed nicely throughout the year and became a solid starting right tackle. Plus, he has the upside to become one of the top right tackles in the league.
Instead, it is now being rumored the Cowboys might move him back to guard for 2018. And with that news, I continue to pull my hair out over the position-flex decisions this coaching staff and front office like to make.
If the Cowboys want to get the most out of each draft class, and effectively develop their talent, they need to let those players actually develop, rather than move them around each season. Hopefully they now understand this, and allow both Byron Jones and La'el Collins to reach their full potential.
Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal
At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.
The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.
Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.
Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.
A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.
Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.
Terrance Williams Contract Creates 2018 Job Security
There's been a lot of talk about what the Dallas Cowboys will do at the receiver position this offseason. While there's a great divide on what the team should do with Dez Bryant, there's a fairly unanimous opinion that Dallas should find an upgrade over Terrance Williams. No matter where he ends up on the depth chart, though, Williams' contract should keep him on the roster in 2018.
Last offseason, Terrance signed a four-year, $17 million deal to stay in Dallas. Because we are now just in the second year of that deal, it is cost prohibitive against the salary cap to release or trade him.
Williams is scheduled to count $4.75 million against the 2018 cap. If Dallas were to cut him, it would accelerate his remaining guaranteed money and create $7.25 million in dead money this year. He would cost more against the cap off the roster than on it.
Even the June-1st provision doesn't help. Williams' dead money in 2018 drops to $4.75 million, which is a net zero against his existing cap hit. It would also push $2.5 million of dead money to 2019. There's no benefit there, and you lose an experienced player who knows your system.
If the Cowboys do like their WR depth enough to want to move on from Terrance, one option is to try to trade him. A trade would lower the cap penalty to $3.75 million and save $1 million. If he's traded after June 1st, it would save $3.5 million against this year's cap.
Of course, it takes two to tango in this scenario. Williams hasn't scored a touchdown since 2016 and has never proven he can take on a significant role in an offense. He was serviceable when Dez Bryant and Jason Witten commanded more attention, but he's a low-end WR2 at best and many teams likely wouldn't want him in their top 2-3 receivers.
Perhaps something could happen during training camps or preseason, when injuries may make other teams desperate. Then again, something could happen in Dallas that makes them less willing to part with Terrance.
As it stands, it seems unlikely that Terrance Williams won't be a Cowboy in 2018. And really, that's not bad thing.
Even if he gets pushed down the depth chart, Terrance would be a good insurance policy against injuries or any other issues that could happen between now and September. $4.75 million is more than you'd like to pay your fourth WR but it's a one-year problem.
If the Cowboys do add more WR talent this offseason, there is a trickle-down effect that strengthens the entire club. Williams, with his experience, is an upgrade over Brice Butler as the fourth receiver.
Therefore, unless circumstances both here and elsewhere allow Dallas to find a trade partner, Terrance Williams should be back next year.
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