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Thursday Night Could Seal Fate Of Dallas Cowboys Staff

Kevin Brady

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Two years ago the Dallas Cowboys were in a different, yet somewhat similar, situation as they are today.

It was 2015 and the Cowboys had fallen apart. After losing their most important offensive player in quarterback Tony Romo on Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys season was officially over. Sure, there was an outside shot they could have gotten themselves in with a late run, but no one truly believed it could happen.

Their next game? Monday night against the hated Washington Redskins. Most expected them to fold to the eventual division winners, and probably get blown out on prime-time for the world to see.

Instead they stood up and fought. In an incredibly ugly game the Cowboys found a way to get their only win without Romo that season, and though it was just their fourth and final victory of the season, it still felt good.

That team played hard for Jason Garrett. That team decided they had had enough of the losing week after week. And, that team won a divisional game on the road.

Fast forward to this week.

The Cowboys, once again, are coming off of an embarrassing Thanksgiving day loss which virtually ended their season. Like 2015 they now face the Redskins on national television for the whole world to see.

While this game doesn’t have much importance to the NFC playoff race, I do believe it holds importance for the future of the Dallas Cowboys. If this team is to come out flat, and suffer a blowout loss at home for the third straight week, there is no way this coaching staff should be safe.

The one area which I have always given Jason Garrett credit is for his teams fighting. Even during that disastrous 2015 season, you saw that undermanned team fight every week. They never quit, and they were rarely blown out. They certainly were not blown out in the ways the 2017 Cowboys have been, three weeks in a row.

So, I think we will learn a lot about the 2018 Cowboys Thursday night. Another flat performance could mean the end for the Garrett, Linehan, Marinelli trio as we know it.

Regardless I believe the Cowboys are in need of some change, and I think that change is coming at the coordinator level. Or, maybe that’s just my own optimistic view of how Jerry and Stephen Jones will handle the coaching situation creeping in.

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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 am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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11 Comments
  • Wayne Young

    Need a new defensive coordinator. The bend but don’t break philosophy has played itself out. One player, Sean Lee, should not handicap the entire defensive unit when he’s not playing. Changes and adjustments should be made to compensate and too many times during games this year that has not happened. It seems like the defense holds firm in the first half and then the second half they completely fall apart after the opposing team makes adjustments. Yes, the offense struggling doesn’t help, but tell that to the Jaguars, whose offense has been struggling all year and yet they win games with their defense. Besides Barry Church, I can’t name anyone else on their defense so don’t say it’s because they have better defensive players.

    • https://kevinrobertbrady.wordpress.com Kevin Brady

      Wayne, I have actually been a fan of Rod Marinelli, but at this point you can’t argue with the results. It appears that change is needed, even if it will be hard to make those changes. Thanks for reading!

    • Randy Martin

      I have never seen the genius in Rod Marinelli that has been spoken about. I think the scheme he employs simply is not effective in today’s game. I am equally unimpressed with Scott Linehan. He is no genius. When you have the weapons he has or has had you should be lighting up the scoreboard. Yeah it’s tough being without Elliot and the injuries on the O-Line but when you are setting all time lows with the offense it is a direct reflection on the coaching. I am not sure I’ve seen a double axing of coordinators before so I think Garret goes with them. I am not sure who the right man for the job will be but change is needed. Rumors of Romo as HC are swirling and that could be interesting though not sure if there is any substance to that. Change is needed in Dallas and now is the time.

      • Russ_Te

        We were just freed from Romo… ;^)

  • Mike funk

    A new staff? Garrett was friggin coach of the year last season. And now after losing thier best offensive player, injuries in key positions and three rookie starters in the defensive backfield you want to clean house and hire a new coach and start from scratch!?!?

    Look at the most successful teams: pats, Steelers, packers etc. what do they have in common? They don’t change coaches every 4 years.

    A bad season for the reasons I listed above and Your want to implement a change the entire offense by brining in a new coach an a new system, with a 3rd year qb??

    Hiring a new staff and head coach is not only redicilous, it will set this team back 3 years. Stand pat. Get healthy. Draft a lb’s, de’s and re-sign Lawrence and Hitchens.

  • billy jack

    time to get rid of ginger

  • http://www.dallascowboyschat.com Cowboysdude

    The ENTIRE coaching staff should go. He had 7 years and he has proven time and time again he is not a HC…he’s not the next coming of Landry that Jones thinks he is….. he’s just not. He the middle of the road will be HC for one or two teams and that’s it…….. he’s not a HC.

  • DevilDog58

    I think the most important thing in this and ALL remaining games is to keep Dak healthy. He has been taking a beating and our OL has never been the same since they let Leary go (and, believe it or not, Doug Free retired). If he gets seriously injured, then we’ve not only lost this season but next season as well. They better find a good Offensive Lineman in FA or the draft. Same thing with LB and we need a good to great DB. Safety, Corner, whatever.
    Scandrick should be a dime back at this stage and age as his body is breaking down. Byron Jones may make a better Corner than Safety and this year’s draft is supposed to be deep at Safety and RB, another position we drastically need a quality backup at. I just don’t understand why New England contends EVERY year and we are always a roller-coaster team. I think the answer lies in Jerry Jones’ ego and lack of ability to judge talent on the coaching level, along with his failure to admit it. Marinelli should be a DL coach, not coordinator. Our DL plays well for the most part but our Secondary is poorly coached and not extremely talented. Our Linebacking Corps minus Lee is average to below average, although I suspect coaching has a hand in that, too. If we had a monster in the center of our DL I believe we would have an outstanding DL. Dallas’ approach to a great Offense is fine as long as you have an above average Defense at the very least. A very good D and a great O will win SB’s, but our administrative department ALWAYS has us between a rock and a hard place with the Salary Cap while teams like Philly are talerted AND deep. Maybe they should try the Money Ball approach or hire a guy like UW’s head coach, Petersen. He has excelled at every level, although I know it’s a big jump from college to the pro level. But he has resurrected first Boise State, then the University of Washington (I know because that’s my team). While I’d hate to lose him there, he has actually PROVED he can judge talent and get his players to buy into his vision. But Jones will stick with Garrett, whom I like but I think is better suited to Offensive Coordinator. Jones has proved his talent judging ability by firing Mike Zimmer because our Defense wasn’t great. Well, that turned out to be because our players sucked and Zim was doing a great job with what he had. Makes me wonder how much input ANY of the coaches have when it comes to acquiring talent. Jones should grow a pair like he had when he hired Jimmy and let Peterson evaluate potential players, two of his former players, one being Demarcus Lawrence play on our D Line.

  • Hoosiers86

    Red and his staff all need to be fired unless they make the playoffs.(They won’t)

    • RICK MILLER

      I am with the gut who said just keep Prescote safe from injury (but they won’t) Sick of hearing how great our line is,they are not period. I would be looking for a solid O lineman in the draft to get some young legs going.Why, have we not seen switzer and beasly in slots together.New England uses this plan,and has for years.Its a shame to sit here hoping the Cowboys loose, because we need higher draft picks , but I am.Enough of the attack on Dak Prescote lately, he has been running for his life.The only picks have come when he was trying to make a play,to receivers who are not getting open.He does not deserve the press he has been getting.

      • Hoosiers86

        I agree with you.

Star Blog

Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?

Sean Martin

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Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 3

Three of the four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs — a win away from the Super Bowl — ranked within the top four defensively in yards per game allowed this season. The other is the defending-champion New England Patriots, who of course were expected to reach yet another AFC Championship game, thanks to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

Somewhere between this field, losing their 2017 hopes at a deep playoff run to injuries, suspensions, and just poor execution at times, are the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys ranked eighth in yards allowed per game at 318.1 this season.

On the surface, all this provides hope that typically springs eternal around the league through the offseason.

It has been far too long since the Cowboys defense matched the skill level of the team’s offense, but Rod Marinelli’s unit (not exactly by design) outplayed that of Scott Linehan’s at times through this 9-7 campaign.

This defensive rebuild in Dallas began with the admission that this group had reached their ceiling in the offseason, as the Cowboys let long-time starters like CB Morris Claiborne, CB Brandon Carr, S Barry Church (now with the Jaguars), and S J.J. Wilcox go in free agency.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense?

Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis, CB Chidobe Awuzie, S Xavier Woods (AP Photo / Ron Jenkins)

For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, looking to turn over an entire secondary in a division featuring Carson Wentz, Eli Manning, and Kirk Cousins as quickly as the Cowboys did was a risky move. Their confidence in hitting on draft picks paid off though.

The Cowboys’ bright future is predicated on the likes of CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Jourdan Lewis, and S Xavier Woods.

With two young starters at cornerback, the sky truly is the limit the this Cowboys defense. And they’ll play in support of an offense with more than enough talent to return to form in 2018.

As it stands now under Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys defense is built to keep everything in front of them, and get bodies to the football. This coverage-friendly approach could be taken to new heights with Lewis and Awuzie on the outside, along with Anthony Brown finding a home in the slot. All three cornerbacks have excelled at using their speed, length, and technique to get their hands on passes.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 1

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

Of course, games are won in the trenches, where the idea of the Cowboys defensive line ever rising to the level of their offensive line was laughable until recently. Whether it’s with the franchise tag or a long-term extension, sack-artist DeMarcus Lawrence looks to be an all-important member of this entire team moving forward.

A healthy Lawrence was a nightmare for opposing right tackles in 2017. He earned a national spotlight each week on his way to the quarterback 14-and-a-half times. Making it look easy at times, Lawrence is a refined rusher with the speed and power to win inside and out.

The RDE position remains a sore spot in need of talent as this Cowboys defense looks to take the next step, but there’s hope for the likes of Randy Gregory, Charles Tapper, and Taco Charlton to get the job done, along with veteran starter Tyrone Crawford.

With Crawford at RDE for much of 2017, running the ball against the Cowboys front was a tall order. His ability to capture the corner against left tackles came as a pleasant surprise to many, and once in position, the defensive captain chased down plenty of plays.

Tyrone Crawford wasn’t the only pleasant surprise on the Dallas Cowboys defensive line this season.

Rookie Taco Charlton looked like an entirely different player to close a first year in Dallas that began with completely uninspiring results. Charlton — having the physical traits to play at the next level — was never a question out of Michigan.

He may never be a player to take over games for a defense, which the Cowboys couldn’t have expected to find at DE selecting 28th overall, but an improved player at DE and DT could be an incredibly valuable asset for the Cowboys in 2018 and beyond.

This leaves the Cowboys linebacker corps, where we find the best example of young potential on the entire defense. Amazingly playing in all 16 games, LB Jaylon Smith is in line to take a massive step forward in year two.

Smith closed his season looking enticingly close to the player he was at Notre Dame, an encouraging sign as the Cowboys look to become less dependent on Sean Lee on this side of the ball.

Lee and Smith paired together would give the Cowboys a middle-of-the-field presence to rival the best in the league. Both players have exceptional range and awareness to run down plays from sideline to sideline.

Anthony Hitchens, an impending free agent, is another valuable piece at LB with his ready ability to play all three positions at a relatively high level.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 2

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

Stefon Diggs racing to the end zone with no time left to send the Vikings to the NFC Championship game will be the lasting image of this past Divisional Round weekend, an offensive play that will live on forever.

A closer look at these games and the teams that survived them reveals a collective trust in defenses, a trust the Cowboys could be blissfully close to with their own young defense.

The Cowboys are likely losing one of the smarter minds behind their defense in recent years, with Matt Eberflus ticketed for Josh McDaniel’s staff, and are still in need of a secondary coach after not retaining Joe Baker. In a league where better talent typically prevails though, the possibility of the Cowboys building a championship defense for next season and beyond may not be far off.

With defenses in Jacksonville and Philadelphia providing the hope that both teams can pull off the impossible and reach the Super Bowl on Sunday, will defensive potential be enough for Dallas to get through this long offseason and start the even longer path back to their first NFC Championship game in 21 seasons?

Tell us what you think about “Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Star Blog

Can Rico Gathers Make Cowboys Offense More “Dak-Friendly”?

Brian Martin

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Rico Gathers, Rams

The Dallas Cowboys unfortunately face all kinds of questions heading into the 2018 offseason. Right now, there are no answers to those questions, which means we’ll just have to sit back and take a wait-and-see approach. But, one question that absolutely has to be answered is how to make the Cowboys offense more Dak Prescott friendly.

Offensively, the Dallas Cowboys had an extremely disappointing year in 2017. Suspensions and injuries are the main culprits for the disappointment, but the Dallas Cowboys haven’t really changed things much in the scheme or personnel to help Dak Prescott succeed.

The sad truth is, the Dallas Cowboys are still operating as if Tony Romo is the starting quarterback. It’s pretty much the same personnel and scheme, but it really doesn’t suit Prescott.

It’s time for that to change. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that will happen overnight.

The Cowboys spent years putting together the personnel to help Romo. Just when they thought they had the missing piece — by drafting Ezekiel Elliott, Romo sustained a back injury, pretty much ending his career.

Anyway you look at it, the offensive personnel needs to improve in order to make this team more “Dak-friendly”.

Enter Tight End Rico Gathers.

Rico Gathers

Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

The Dallas Cowboys have invested two years in Rico Gathers’ development, but with the exception of a few flashes in preseason, they haven’t benefited from the fruits of their labor. The 2018 season should be Gathers’ coming-out party.

We all witnessed what the Cowboys offense looks like when they are forced to rely on the passing game. Dak Prescott struggled to find any kind of consistency throwing the ball — with the options he had at his disposal in 2017 — while Ezekiel Elliott served a six-game suspension.

Defenses decided to take Prescott’s favorite target out of the equation by bracketing Cole Beasley in coverage. Then, they also devoted extra attention Dez Bryant‘s way, making it difficult to get him the ball.

The only other option left really was Jason Witten on simple check downs.

And that is what the future Hall of Famer has been reduced to.

Jason Witten is no longer the threat he once was. Yes, he is still a reliable target, but his age is starting to catch up to him, which has unfortunately robbed him of some of his athleticism. We will no longer see Witten stretch the field down the seam, or run many routes further than 10 yards.

That’s why I think Rico Gathers could be a difference maker in 2018, especially for Dak Prescott.

Prescott needs more than an outlet receiver at the TE position. No offense to Jason Witten, but that’s pretty much what he has become at this point in his career.

Rico Gathers on the other hand is not only different from Witten, but also provides a different skill set than any other TE on the Cowboys roster. He’s a big target with athleticism, who cannot only move the chains, but stretch the field and break tackles in the open field.

Gathers’ sheer size alone creates mismatch problems against smaller defensive backs and linebackers, but his athleticism should allow him to create separation, something which fits into what Prescott needs from his receivers.

There is no reason why the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff can’t find a way to incorporate Rico Gathers’ unique skill set into the offense. They may not truly trust him to be an every down player, but that’s not happening anyway, not with Jason Witten on the roster.

If it was me, I would have a few packages in the playbook specifically designed for Gathers. I not only think this will help him grow as a player, but help the Cowboys offense become more “Dak-friendly”.

Can Rico Gathers make the Cowboys offense more “Dak-friendly”?

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Months Later, it Seems Jaguars S Barry Church was Right

Kevin Brady

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Months Later, Jaguars Safety Barry Church Wa E

About five months ago, before the 2017 NFL season had even begun, former Cowboys safety Barry Church made comments which made Cowboys Nation scratch their heads. Now a Jacksonville Jaguar, Church said his current team was more talented than his former, the Dallas Cowboys.

At the time, many fans and writers alike laughed off his comments and chalked it up to typical preseason hype. Most people thought Church was crazy for suggesting a 13-3 team had less talent than the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team led by Blake Bortles.

Well, five months later, it’s become clear Barry Church was right.

Brian Chojnacki on Twitter

Jaguars safety Barry Church says he feels this Jags team has more talent than his #Cowboys squad last season. Dallas went 13-3. https://t.co/EcbxfUGsvy

This weekend the Jaguars went on the road to Pittsburgh, and came away with a wire-to-wire victory in January. The Jaguars were the more physical team from start to finish, and dominated from the opening kick off.

On the road.

Against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now the Jaguars are preparing to do something the Cowboys haven’t done in two decades: play in a conference championship game.

The Jaguars and Cowboys will be linked for the next decade or so due to decisions each made during the 2016 NFL Draft. And while it appeared the Cowboys pushed all the right buttons in 2016, it now looks as if the Jaguars are preparing to compete for AFC supremacy for years to come.

With their talented secondary, dominant defense, and physical rushing attack, the Jaguars have built their team in the mold of past champions.

The Cowboys have attempted to do some of the same, but it certainly looks as if Barry Church was correct in his preseason assessment of the two rosters.

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