I've got a theory; tell me what you think of it.
Wade Phillips is the head coach, he responsible for overseeing his other coaches and getting everything together for the game plan he develops.
In 2008, the defense sucked until Wade started taking a bigger role on D, even though Stewart still looked like the guy in charge.
Starting with that Tampa game, when Phillips took over the D, the offense started playing worse, at first because Romo was out, but even when he came back, the O wasn't doing half of what the D was doing.
It seemed for the last half of the season that whenever the D played well, the O played poorly, and when the O played well, the D played poorly. Going up against the best defensive teams in the league, the Cowboys still stayed in the game until the end.
Before the Tampa game, when Romo was playing the offense did great, see week 2 against Philly for an example. You can even look at the Baltimore game for an example. Both teams were pretty even throughout the game, caught in a strong defensive game. But when the Cowboys started driving to score late for the win, the D completely collapsed. Makes you wonder.
The O averaged 27 points a game before Wade took over the D, while the D was giving up an average of 25 points a game. That's over the first 7 games of the season.
After Wade took over the D, and I'm excluding one game since the blowout loss to the Eagles really can't be explained by any one thing, the Cowboys went 5-4. That's 20.88 points a game on O, with the D giving up 18.25 points a game over the final 8 games (excluding the 44-6 loss to Philly).
There were six games that we scored no more than 14 points, three without Romo, and one of those being the game that vaulted Phillips into a more active role on D, against the Rams.
Now, with the exception of a couple of games against Seattle and San Francisco, we only scored more than 14 points in two games, once Wade got the D going. Both were losses, to New York and Baltimore.
Maybe I'm seeing the numbers wrong, or maybe I need to break it down further, like by yardage per quarter on both sides of the ball, but it just seems to me that Wade Phillips is a bigger part of the team's success than anyone else.
When our defense shut out a team, or damn near it, we didn't score more than a couple of touchdowns. And when we did score some points with the ball, the D didn't stop the other team from scoring when it mattered. It's almost as if Wade would go back and forth between Garrett and Stewart, and which ever one he was with, their unit had better production.
What if the problem is that Wade was really making the good things happen, and yet he was spread too thin between two coordinators that couldn't get it done alone?
If that is the case, then bringing Dan Reeves makes sense, not firing Phillips makes sense, firing Stewart makes sense, keeping Garrett doesn't make sense.
I only see one bad decision there, keeping Jason Garrett. Again, the numbers may be skewed by other factors, but maybe they show when Wade is giving more attention to one side of the ball over the other, that he gets production up on his chosen unit while the other flops around a bit until his return. Shouldn't Garrett be capable of doing this on his own? Stewart was expected to do it, and was fired when he couldn't.
In either case, the offense is the weakest spot coaching-wise, so bringing in a highly intelligent offensive mind, and aggressive coach like Dan Reeves to consult on the O is a good choice. It just makes sense ... doesn't it?
It allows Wade to be more involved with the D without having to worry about the O in his absence. It would even allow Wade to be the HC and DC next year, since the OC has a HC figure in Dan Reeves to guide him.
Just a thought.
What Would a Successful Season Mean for Kellen Moore’s Future?
Out of every chess piece moved by the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, the decision to name 30-year old Kellen Moore might be the most interesting one. Not only that, but it could be the one that makes the biggest impact on the team. After all, the Cowboys are ready to go talent wise.
With Kellen Moore taking up a new role, it's intriguing to imagine what a successful season would mean for his future with the Dallas Cowboys. Truth be told, Moore is in a pretty fortunate position to debut as an offensive coordinator. He'll be driving a unit full of talented players with almost no weak links. Last year, it wasn't the lack of quality players lined up that had the offense struggling throughout the season, but the guy in charge.
At first, the philosophy of not needing a #1 wide receiver clearly blew up on the Cowboys face. The passing game in Dallas needed a spark and they didn't find it until they traded a first rounder for Amari Cooper. Cooper's impact on the team was clear right away as he put on impressive performances on a weekly basis.
But even when Cooper was at his best, the offense still presented relevant struggles. Despite getting more first downs, the Cowboys still had trouble scoring touchdowns when in the red zone and kept leaving points on the field.
Although he's been a controversial conversation among members of Cowboys Nation, there are a few reasons to be excited about what Kellen Moore can bring to the table as a young offensive coordinator. Ever since he declared for the NFL Draft out of Boise State, where he ran a very complex offense on his way to become the QB with most wins in NCAA history, he was seen by many as an extremely smart prospect. Many expected him to have a mediocre career as a player, but saw him as a potential coach down the line.
Now it's his chance to prove the world just how smart he is and his potential as a coach. He will not only be proving it to the Cowboys organization, but all of the NFL and college football teams. Don't forget what NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah mentioned a few months ago.
I've mentioned this before- Kellen Moore is a rising star and he'll be in the mix for HC gigs (CFB or NFL) in the near future. https://t.co/hLjOb4HAUc
With a great group of talent at his disposal, it's fair to imagine Moore having a pretty successful "rookie" season at a major coaching position. If he indeed manages to turn heads with the Dallas Cowboys offense in 2019, what does that mean for his future?
In a league that's turning to the young offensive-minded coaches thanks to guys like Sean McVay, is it possible one team decides to pull the trigger and make him an offer for a head coaching gig? It certainly would seem premature, but it's still a possibility in the NFL, where teams have become increasingly impatient with their coaches.
I definitely wouldn't be surprised if next offseason, we're concerned about another team (college or NFL) trying to snatch Moore off the Cowboys. I insist in pointing out this would be a premature decision if it does happen, since Moore has very little experience, but looking at the trend in the NFL it certainly could happen.
This might be the most important year in Kellen Moore's young career. For now, let's hope he does a good job leading Dak Prescott in his fourth year as a professional player and an offense that has a solid OL and a pretty good set of skill players.
Connor Williams Working as Left Tackle in Cowboys Practice
Second-year guard Connor Williams has been working as the Cowboys' left tackle during practice this week. While this isn't the plan for him in 2019, it does provide a glimpse into potential uses for Williams down the road and how Dallas might handle future offensive line moves.
Using Connor at LT this week has been a matter of necessity. The top players on that depth chart, Tyron Smith and Cameron Fleming, were not participating for other reasons.
With Tyron Smith getting a vet day and Cam Fleming not practicing because of a bruised shin, Connor Williams worked at left tackle Wednesday. He said it was his first left tackle snaps since he was at Texas. He said it felt like riding a bike after a little bit.
Indeed, Williams spent three years at left tackle in college. It was the last position he'd played before being drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft by Dallas, who immediately moved him to guard.
Connor started 10 of 13 games at guard last season. He played mostly on the left side, starting Weeks 1-9, before getting injured. Xavier Su'a-Filo played well enough in his absence that Williams didn't get the starting job back when he was healthy. However, when Zack Martin had to miss a few games at the end of the year, Connor started a right guard for those two weeks.
When Martin returned for the playoffs, Williams was back as the starting left guard in both postseason games.
Tyron Smith and Cam Fleming will be your starter and backup at left tackle next year. But for 2020 and beyond, Connor Williams' ability to play tackle creates some interesting possibilities.
La'el Collins will be an unrestricted free agent next year. Fleming will still have one year left on his deal and Dallas just spent a third-round pick on the versatile Connor McGovern. Throw in that Williams can play some tackle, and it seems as if they're covering bases for Collins eventual departure.
We could very well see a starting lineup in 2020 with McGovern at LG and Williams at RT. Another possibility is that Fleming starts at RT and Williams stays at guard, but can be moved to tackle if needed.
If nothing else, it's nice to know that Dallas has options. We may never see Connor Williams play a regular season snap at left tackle, but versatility is a great asset. It can greatly increase a player's value, and give his team some leverage and flexibility in roster management.
For the Cowboys, it does make you wonder what the future holds for the offensive line.
Undrafted WR Jon’Vea Johnson Turning Heads at Cowboys OTAs
Former Toledo Wide Receiver didn't receive an invite to the 2019 NFL Combine or hear his name called in any of the seven rounds at this year's NFL Draft, but that doesn't mean he doesn't possess the talent to make someone's roster in the league. After signing with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent, he's hoping he's found that team and his forever home.
The journey for Jon'Vea Johnson to earn one of those coveted final 53-man roster spots with the Dallas Cowboys is going to be a long one. This year's roster is deep from top to bottom, which means making it as an undrafted free agent is going to be extremely difficult. But, luckily for him he is already starting to turn a few heads at the Cowboys OTAs.
Here's what Cowboys Wide Receiver Coach Sanjay Lal recently had to say about Jon'Vea:
"Not a surprise, because we loved his film, but Jon'Vea the last two days, his speed and athleticism and how smooth he is has shown up here – almost a little bit earlier than we thought it would. Because we think he's going to process. Most young guys are thinking a lot, but he's done a good job of learning his plays and coming out and showing what he can do."
Considering coaches typically try their hardest not to single out any one player in these OTA practices, that's pretty high praise from Sanjay Lal.
It's important to remember the Dallas Cowboys had Jon'Vea Johnson in as one of their 30 pre-draft visitors, so you know they had a draftable grade on him already. Getting him as an undrafted free agent probably felt like a win for them, and more so now that he's off to a good start.
Johnson actually has a few things going for him that may set him apart from other WRs currently on the Cowboys roster. He has the versatility to play on the outside or in the slot, but it's his speed that really makes him stand out from the rest.
At his Pro Day, Jon'Vea ran an unofficial 4.38 40-yard dash. That would've ranked among the best to run the 40 at this year's Scouting Combine. But that's not all… he tested pretty well in other areas as well: 35" vertical and a 10'8" broad jump. Not bad for a 5'10", 190 pound undrafted wide receiver.
As good as all of this sounds, Johnson still has a long ways to go in order to lock down a roster spot. The Cowboys have some pretty talented WRs on the roster and he's going to have to clearly outperform quite a few of them to earn his way onto the final 53-man roster. But, it's encouraging he's already off to a good start.
We've seen players stand out in these kind of unpadded practices before, so I'd probably hold off on anointing him just yet. For his sake though, it's always a good thing to catch the eye of your coaches in a positive way.
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