The Dallas Cowboys are back in their home state, preparing for a preseason game later tonight against the Miami Dolphins. This means that another year of intense training camp practices from Oxnard, California, has concluded - as the Cowboys will move into The Star following tonight's home opener.
Training camp out West gave us plenty of news - both good and bad - along with rumors, analysis, and some memorable editions of Tweet Break.
Here's hoping this week's edition can live up to the hype. Away we go!
Dez Bryant and Morris Claiborne - Iron Sharpens Iron
Emotions still running high https://t.co/jFxZToZ5dU
Last day of camp 3weeks of s**t talking and competing with 88 have definitely made me better
One of the most memorable things to come out of training camp thus far for the Cowboys has been the battles between WR Dez Bryant and CB Morris Claiborne. Both players have something to prove in 2016, as Claiborne will be looking to show a team willing to give him a one year "prove it" deal that he can stay on the field and perform at a high level.
Dez Bryant has already performed in this league at a high level, and has used every second of training camp to make sure that even his fellow teammates haven't lost sight of that, thanks to his injuries a year ago.
Video of Dez Bryant telling all the Cowboys DBs they can't guard him. Each one. https://t.co/2C9kshVmOa
Sign it's last day? Dez Bryant wearing Mo Claiborne's jersey.
Dan Bailey - A Model of Consistency
As mentioned, not many training camps go by for the Dallas Cowboys without a different feeling surrounding the coaches, players, and fans by the end of it. The 2016 camp has been all about redemption - and Dan Bailey quietly continuing to make every single kick.
He's a good football player. Let Inside The Pylon explain why:
What makes some kickers so much better? @ITP_ChuckZ looks at @dallascowboys K Dan Bailey https://t.co/trFcvWn7jZ https://t.co/Wdj7FNcZMT
Camp Injuries and "Next Man Up"
An unfortunate part of camp each year is losing players to injury, something the Cowboys know far too much about after going 4-12 in 2015. While they have escaped the first portion of training camp without any major injuries, WR hopeful Chris Brown was cut yesterday, after the UDFA out of Notre Dame suffered a foot injury.
His replacement, while he may just be a camp body for now, is former Alabama wide receiver Richard Mullaney.
Cowboys signed former Texans wide receiver Richard Mullaney today. At Alabama, he was nicknamed "Slottie Pippen
If nicknames decided the depth chart for the Cowboys, Mullaney would threaten to take snaps away from Dez Bryant. Unfortunately for Slottie, Bryant is here and as motivated as ever, and the spots behind him seem pretty set as well.
Leaving California, and Jared Goff, Behind
Also staying in the Sunshine State, despite the Cowboys' departure, is Los Angeles Rams rookie QB Jared Goff. The top pick in the 2016 draft was last seen trying to figure out where the sun rises...
He then got just as confused staring at the Dallas defense in his debut, where he completed just four passes and threw an interception to Mark Nzeocha.
Now, as the Cowboys prepare for a season with their confident rookie, Ezekiel Elliott, they can also look back at Goff using training camp to learn how to put his knuckle in another player's asshole.
Did I mention that we'll get to see Tony Romo tonight?
Stephen Jones told me on @NBCSportsRadio that @tonyromo will play a series or two vs. @MiamiDolphins but @EzekielElliott won't. @NBCDFW
With that, another edition of Tweet Break has come and gone here at Inside The Star. Continue to follow along with us on Twitter for more updates, starting with tonight's game - where you can find me tweeting analysis and commentary: @ShoreSportsNJ.
If you have any tweets that need to be included in a future edition of this article, you can also email them to me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com.
With that, I'll leave you with a peak at the Cowboys' new home fields in Frisco, courtesy of NBC5's Pat Doney.
the new home of the @dallascowboys is sweet... @nbcdfw
Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019
It's been a few years since things around the Dallas Cowboys felt this good prior to a season. Coming off a 10-6 year in which Dallas won both the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a one possession road game to the future NFC champions, Cowboys Nation is expecting some big things in 2019.
After all, the Cowboys went out and improved their roster in multiple ways this offseason and brought in some new blood on their offensive coaching staff. Spirits are high among Cowboys Nation, and just about everyone is anticipating a two team race for the NFC East.
But some numbers indicate we should be thinking "not so fast."
The details of the 2018 season are not as pretty as the total picture. Rarely are they ever, of course, but these particular details point towards possible regression for the Cowboys in 2019.
Basically, their point differential a year ago spells out impending doom. (That was dramatic, but let's discuss).
The Cowboys were +15 in 2018, and by pythagorean wins expectation, they were about as strong as an 8-8 team (8.53 wins to be exact). This means they won nearly 2 more games (1.47) than would be expected, fourth most in the entire NFL.
This point is furthered when looking at their record in one possession games. Dallas went 8-2 when the game was decided by 7 points or less, winning close games at a rate that is simply not sustainable year to year.
These numbers make the Cowboys a prime candidate for regression in 2019, as they were in 2017.
Back in 2016, the Cowboys outperformed their pythagorean expectation by a whole 2 wins. The following season? Dallas finished the year 9-7. The model also indicated that the 7-9 Eagles performed 2 wins under expectations in 2016, meaning they would get back on track in 2017. As we know, they ended up winning 13 games and the Super Bowl the following season.
Of course, this isn't set-in-stone, and the Cowboys very well could outperform these expectations and avoid regression. This would mainly hinge on their coaching staff and quarterback performing at an elite level, carrying them through close games and winning more games by greater than one possession.
Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations
Winning games in the NFL typically comes down to accomplishing two goals. One, being successful when passing on offense. And, two, stopping the opposing team's passing game.
The Cowboys set out to accomplish that second goal this offseason, re-signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and trading for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn. Quinn, who tallied 6.5 sacks last season for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the leagues more feared rushers when at his best. The former All Pro has multiple 10+ sack seasons under his belt, including a whopping 19 in 2013.
And, as expected, the Cowboys coaching staff is ecstatic to have such a respected pass rushing specialist on their roster.
“He’s got that first step. He’s an established pass rusher in this league, so he’s going to bring some good stuff for us.” - Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
The Cowboys acquired Robert Quinn for a 2020 6th round pick, which could end up being the steal of the offseason. Quinn has played with some top-notch pass rushers in the past, and each time they have brought out the best in his own game.
Back with the Rams in 2017, when Aaron Donald was on the same defensive line, Quinn got to the quarterback 8.5 times. And, last season, he remained consistent in his sack totals playing alongside Cameron Wake. Now he joins a DeMarcus Lawrence who has 25 sacks over the last 2 seasons.
"I think it was kind of one of those where I get to have fun, pin my ears back and just disrupt the backfield, which is what they want us to do." - Robert Quinn told NFL.com.
Quinn and the always dominant Lawrence will form an impressive defensive end duo on passing downs, with the potential to be one of the best in all of football. Dallas is also hoping to add Randy Gregory into this mix, a piece which could prove vital late in football games if he is able to return from his current indefinite suspension.
Whether or not Gregory finds his way back onto the field, though, this defensive front will be in good hands. The edge combo of Quinn and Lawrence, combined with a plethora of skilled interior rushers such as Maliek Collins, gives the Cowboys a fearsome defensive line which should keep quarterbacks uncomfortable every Sunday.
Can Rookie OL Connor McGovern Compete For A Starting Spot?
Raising eyebrows in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cowboys added Penn State offensive lineman Connor McGovern to their already deep OL depth chart.
McGovern, who played guard for the Nittany Lions, was reportedly by-far the best player remaining on the Cowboys draft board when they came on the clock in round three. Still, with seemingly more pressing needs yet to be addressed, Dallas' selection of McGovern was certainly a surprise.
When you watch the tape, though, you immediately see what the Cowboys loved about Connor McGovern.
A "plug-and-play" type guard, Connor McGovern is the type of rookie you'd expect to contribute in year one. On many teams he may be a candidate to start at guard or center from the beginning of his rookie season, but here in Dallas, his role for the 2019 season is somewhat in question.
Clearly, being a day two pick, there's no doubt that McGovern will make the Cowboys roster. But can he compete for a starting job?
During OTA's McGovern took reps at both guard and center, pointing towards the possibility of him being the first interior offensive lineman off the bench if one of the starters were to go down with an injury. Fellow interior linemen Joe Looney and Xavier Su'a-Filo each contributed in big ways during the 2018 season, however, and will be tough to beat out during camp.
While possible, I would still say it's unlikely. The Cowboys selection of McGovern seems to be more about 2020 and beyond than it is about the 2019 season. With right tackle La'el Collins coming up on a contract year, Dallas might elect to let him walk in free agency, move Williams back to his college position of tackle, and slide McGovern into the left guard slot.
This seems fool-proof in theory, but this many moving parts across the offensive line could spell trouble early on in 2020. Regardless, Connor McGovern's arrival gives Dallas the flexibility to consider all options on their offensive line.
In reality, McGovern strengthened a strength for Dallas, and may be needed to prove himself as early as this Fall if injury issues arise.
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