What a week it has been for the Dallas Cowboys, as they touched down in Oxnard, California for their 2016 training camp yesterday, looking to bring their team back into a positive light. Randy Gregory, and most recently Rolando McClain, have made this task more difficult than needed - but not here on Tweet Break!
In this week's edition here on Inside The Star, I've decided to spotlight the hard working players that are ready to prepare in the intense summer heat for a successful 2016 campaign.
Cowboys team plane has landed in California https://t.co/XtfOPblInd
I stay ready! https://t.co/2aLyzJLVh6
CuTTWork Getting ready for my first training camp. I ont know what to expect. I'm not worried... https://t.co/Ivor0VmNUr
Perhaps no player at Cowboys' training camp will face more of an uphill battle than Rico Gathers, who will simply be trying to reacquaint himself with the game of football after being drafted by Dallas out of Baylor University as a basketball player.
Gathers is looking forward to facing this challenge by working with a future Hall of Fame tight end in Jason Witten, but his roster spot will be challenged heavily by the likes of James Hanna, Gavin Escobar, and Geoff Swaim.
#Cowboys 88 Club talking football at Valley Ranch last month. I could sit there and listen to them for days.
Spooky. Valley Ranch is almost just a memory #allaboutthestar #ghosttown #everythingchanges https://t.co/T6DRj4tp7N
While it is not directly related to training camp preparations, Dez Bryant is certainly in store to have a big summer, and it was awesome to see him hanging out with Michael Irvin and Drew Pearson at Valley Ranch.
Of course, the Cowboys' Valley Ranch facilities won't play a role in this year's training camp, as the team will be ready to move into The Star once returning home from California. Brad Sham, the radio play-by-play voice of the Dallas Cowboys, shares one of the closing images from the iconic facility in his above tweet.
Training camp time @DezBryant hold me accountable!! All in
Speaking of Dez Bryant, the fiery wide receiver is ready to prove that he means a lot more to his team outside of Tony Romo and the offense. Elevating the play of others around you is truly a mark of a great player, and an expectation that Morris Claiborne will have for Bryant.
If this match up plays out, it should be a fascinating one, as Claiborne will be looking to build off of his 2015 success - which earned him a new one year contract with the Cowboys in 2016.
My brothers & I just killed the conditioning test! Ready to fly out for @dallascowboys camp tomorrow & get this season on the way! #Rushmen
When it comes to differing personalities found on the Cowboys' roster, you may not find a better example then Lucky Whitehead and Ryan Russell. The always outspoken and energetic Whitehead took to Twitter to share his excitement for camp following his conditioning test, as did defensive end Ryan Russell, who is certainly an unknown player in the eyes of many fans and coaches.
Both players will be called upon to potentially fill big roles throughout training camp and into the regular season, as Whitehead will likely serve as the team's primary kick and punt returner, and Russell will be looking to make the team feel a little better about the overall situation at defensive end.
I know you're in a tough place @RandyGregory_4 ignore the words of those who dont undstnd your struggle. I got your back. Get better, man.
To conclude this edition of Tweet Break, I wanted to include this impressive tweet from Byron Jones. Not only will Jones be a player to watch closely at free safety this summer, but his tweet here shows the poise of a veteran for just a second year player.
Staff Writer RJ Ochoa wrote recently about the Cowboys failures when it comes to drafting players in the second round, Randy Gregory being one such example. At least Byron Jones, the team's first round pick in 2015, can make Cowboys Nation feel good about some of our young defensive talent.
Thanks for checking out Tweet Break here at Inside The Star! By this time next week, the Twitter world will be full of awesome Dallas Cowboys 2016 training camp content! To send in some of your favorite tweets to be featured here, just tag me in them @ShoreSportsNJ or email links to Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com.
Was Sunday A “Wake Up Call,” Or Were Cowboys Exposed?
Entering last Sunday's game in Indianapolis, the Dallas Cowboys were riding high. Having won five straight games, including key victories over the top seeded Saints and division rival Eagles, everything seemed to be breaking right for the Cowboys heading into the home stretch.
Their defense was playing like one of the best in football, and after firing Paul Alexander and trading for Amari Cooper their offense was clicking just as they'd hoped. They needed (and still need) just one win to officially close out the division and clinch a home playoff game in January.
Instead, the Cowboys got absolutely demolished by the Indianapolis Colts. Of course, there's no shame in losing a road game to an 8-6 team in the NFL, but the way in which they lost certainly deserves some shame. Not even the 23-0 score can encapsulate the complete butt-kicking Dallas received at the hands of the Colts, and it was the type of loss that can sometimes make you question the blueprint.
The Cowboys, however, are not looking at it that way. Multiple leaders in the locker room have spoke this week about how they "needed" to lose like that. Running back Ezekiel Elliott called the loss embarrassing, but also said it is better for Dallas in the "grand scheme of the season."
Clearly, the leaders and coaches are calling the putrid performance a wake up call, something that will galvanize them and reset their win streak heading into the postseason. But is this really the case, or was the shutout defeat more of a sign of things to come?
Obviously it's too early to say for sure, but I do think it can be a little bit of both.
No, the Cowboys are not the class of the NFC, despite beating what can be called the best team in the same conference a couple weeks ago. There probably will prove to be some drop-off from the top 3 seeds in the conference and the Cowboys, if for no other reason than Dallas will have to go on the road to play those teams in the playoffs. It's really hard to win on the road in the NFL, especially with the increased wackiness of 2018.
The Cowboys offense is far from perfect or prolific, though if clicking they now have the skill talent to drop 30+ points any given Sunday. Their defense is talented, has a high ceiling, but is still very young and inexperienced. Though they've played elite level games before, they've also had some stinkers against the Colts and Titans during the same season.
All of this can be true. The Cowboys can be a team deserving of the playoffs, a team we should not be panicking over, but still a very flawed football team. They can be a team that if "hot" could make a run through the postseason, but also will have to answer some tough questions about coaches and players during the next two offseasons.
After all, who isn't greatly flawed in today's NFL? Hell, we just saw the beloved Rams lose two straight games.
Is it Too Late For Dallas to Fire OC Scott Linehan?
Grab your pitchforks and your torches, it's time to run the Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan out of town. His playcalling has been absolutely atrocious season and it's time for him to hit the road, even if there are only two regular-season games left on the schedule.
It's completely unorthodox for an NFL team to fire an offensive coordinator this late in the season, but just last week we saw the Minnesota Vikings do just that when they parted ways with John DeFilippo. It was definitely a bold move to make considering the Vikings are still in playoff contention, but it was something they believed was in the best interest of their team.
I believe if the Dallas Cowboys want to do what's best for their team right now and not later, then they should go ahead and cut ties with Scott Linehan. His predictability and un-creativeness as a play caller is holding back a talented offense, which is hurting the overall team as a result. He's been given every opportunity to turn things around, but enough is enough.
I'd personally be on board with Jason Garrett taking over the playcalling duties. He has the experience and held the position with the Cowboys from 2007 until Linehan was hired. I'd even consider giving Kellen Moore a shot as the OC. He knows the system and has worked closely with Quarterback Dak Prescott. Regardless, the Cowboys need to find some way to increase their offensive productivity.
Right now the Cowboys offense is the 26th scoring offense in the NFL and are averaging just 19.7 points per game. To make matters worse they are the 31st ranked Red Zone offense in the league. I don't know about you, but I think that is completely unacceptable with the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball.
Firing Linehan has been a long time coming. The Cowboys flirted with the idea earlier this season during the bye week and should've pulled the trigger then, but for some reason or another decided to let him stick around. They are definitely still paying for that mistake now.
The Cowboys mistake not to replace Linehan could mean yet another early exit in the playoffs, something we have unfortunately become accustomed to. Scoring just 19 points a game isn't going to get them very far, which is truly unfortunate considering the talent they've acquired this season.
Unfortunately, as much as we would love to see Scott Linehan tarred and feathered and run out of town, I just don't see the Cowboys doing that before their season is officially over. But, in no way should he be allowed to retain his position beyond this season. He clearly isn't the answer any longer.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should fire Scott Linehan?
Despite Embarrassing Showing, Health Remains Biggest Cowboys Concern
What is it about the AFC South with these Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas' five game winning streak came to a close on Sunday, as they got straight-up embarrassed by the now 8-6 Indianapolis Colts on the road. The loss was the first since the Cowboys were embarrassed by a different AFC South competitor, the Tennessee Titans, on Monday night football earlier this season.
Though the final was 23-0, and not a single phase (or really even a single player) showed much fight or promise, the biggest concern I have for the Cowboys moving forward didn't change because of the putrid performance. It didn't change because the defense was gashed play after play or the offense failed to finish a single drive. And it didn't even change because both the Redskins and Eagles secured season-saving victories on the same day Dallas was dismantled.
The biggest concern is still their health, particularly across the offensive line.
That was not a playoff caliber interior offensive line the Cowboys put out their on Sunday. Not even close.
With their backup center in Joe Looney, backup guard in Connor Williams, and the very last interior offensive linemen on their roster in Adam Redmond playing for basically the entire game, this offense never had a chance. Dak Prescott wasn't any more inaccurate or indecisive than normal, but all those who like to scream "step up in the pocket" whenever he is sacked did not seem to have an argument this week.
There often was no pocket to step into, as those interior three, specifically Looney and Redmond, failed to provide much protection or confidence for Prescott at all. Joe Looney has actually been rather solid this season, but Sunday felt like one of his worst games of the entire year.
The Cowboys absolutely need Zack Martin to get healthy if they are to make any noise whatsoever in the postseason. At the very least, the need Xavier Su'a-Filo to come back and replace Redmond, and regain the form he displayed during his debut against the Eagles back in November.
Prescott already has issues with his pocket presence and footwork when pressured, so throwing three backup-level linemen right in front of him is not a recipe for success for the Cowboys.
I'm not jumping out of the window over this loss, and I don't think any of you should be either. Dallas had won three straight incredibly emotional and important home games to extend, save, and solidify their season respectively before this loss. They had also just about clinched the NFC East a week ago with their win over Philadelphia, and they played like a team that was due a flat performance
A letdown loss on the road, against a good team I might add, is not the end of the world. The bigger issue here is their health, because if Martin can return to anchor this offensive line, the offense should look a whole lot better than they did against Indianapolis.
It's time to move on from Sunday, go beat Tampa Bay, officially clinch the division, and get ready for Wild Card Weekend.
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