It’s inevitable that when a team loses, whether in game two of the preseason, the regular season, or the post season, people are going to start talking about how the coaches did this wrong or the players didn’t execute—they just weren’t focused.
It’s a bunch of baloney.
But the truth is people have opinions. Everyone watching a football game has got his or her own idea of what’s going on and certainly a perspective as to why something is being done wrong. Say hello armchair quarterback.
I watched every Cowboys game this season and I can tell you just as surely as the next guy, they did something wrong.
But at least I’m not afraid to admit it. I’ll go on and on about Dallas did some stupid thing and offer a variety of colorful reasons as to why their heads were too far up their own…
Okay, so I shouldn’t go there now. But the things I’ve been reading about my beloved ‘Boys since that blowout Divisional routing are just irritating. And I’ve had my last nerve poked one too many times by that sharp stick known worldwide as the Dallas media.
Maybe it should make more sense to me since the Dallas media is a worldwide organization—everybody and their momma has a broadcasted or syndicated opinion of the ‘Boys. But wait a minute…the Cowboys aren’t America’s Team anymore, are they? I say once again it’s justified.
So down to the meat of it here, the Vikings tried running up the score.
It’s true and everyone should just deal with it. It doesn’t matter that the Cowboys defense had all but laid down by that point. This wasn’t just another toss downfield for a score. It was fourth down inside the final two minutes of a game with a huge lead within field goal range. Going for it on fourth down in that situation makes it so unbelievably clear that they were running up the score. Get over it.
Maybe Keith Brooking let his emotions get the best of him by yelling at Favre and Children on the sideline, but I certainly can't blame him for being upset. I just hope this leader turned it toward his half-assing teammates too.
Wade Phillips is back, and he will be here for two more years. Why is everyone so hung up on the notion that it’s a bad thing? Let me make this real simple for everyone out there doubting his effectiveness as a head coach.
But first something to chew on.
Throughout most of aughts the Ravens have been known as a dominant defensive team. But Jim Harbaugh wasn’t there that whole time to spearhead their defensive effort. Instead it was Rex Ryan who coached the Baltimore D for 10 seasons, and made his coach look good while doing it, at least defensively.
Okay, retaining Wade Phillips does not signify the end of the Tradition of Excellence. Yes, he hasn’t gotten us to a Super Bowl and he got us one playoff win in three years, and not much else. Last I checked, though, he isn’t the Dallas Cowboys.
Roy Williams failed miserably at being a professional wide receiver.
Jason Garrett took three games, at least, to make adjustments.
Injuries have been a factor at key positions.
Terrell Owens divided the locker room.
That’s some of the bad that is being handed over to Phillips as if he had some sort of mischievous plan from day one to ruin the Cowboys. People love Felix Jones and Miles Austin and they were both around for at least two of those three years—why not pass the buck on to them as well?
The Cowboys won the NFC East title two out of three years.
Dallas had three consecutive winning seasons.
Two of those seasons had double digits in the win column.
Those are some of the good things that should be going into Phillips’ corner along with the bad. Once more people, as with anything in life, you must take the good with the bad.
So no, bringing back Phillips for two more years is not a bad thing. He got this team playing hard, and playing their best at the right time. Sure it’s only been one season where that was true, but as they it’s a “what can you do for me now” league and so 2009 is what should be given the most weight.
Since we’re on coaches, can we figure out who Jason Garrett is bending over for to keep his job?
Opposing defenses stopped falling for the draw play by mid-season, and yet there I was watching draw after draw after draw after draw late in the season. Hey Jason, you’re supposed to stick with what works, not keep pounding on it until it works.
And what is it with Marion Barber lately? Has he already started to wear down or what? He is a bruiser. It’s what got him a big contract with a good team. But he hasn’t been that bruiser consistently since 2007, and only in glimpses since then, don’t deny it.
Felix Jones stepped up late this year and sort of took over as the feature back in Dallas. I don’t know if such a strong word as featured is right for him yet, but he certainly gave the most production.
Finally, where was Jason Witten this year? I know he led the team in receptions, but he was near the other end in touchdowns. This is something I think is best attributed to Jason Garrett. Witten is considered a future hall of famer because he makes the most of his size and strength on every play.
But let me ask, what good is it to have a player like him if you don’t overuse him? That’s a gift that just keeps on giving, why not take advantage.
Well there you have it. My notes on 2009 and a look at what we have going into 2010. I know I left out a lot. It’s going to be a long and slow ride to training camp though.
Should Cowboys Address TE Need Via Free Agency?
A season after Jason Witten's retirement, the Dallas Cowboys still have a need at tight end. Replacing a future Hall of Famer is no easy feat so it's only logical that it would take longer than a season to feel good about who's in at tight end.
The Cowboys currently have two tight ends who could be pretty serviceable going forward. Fourth round pick Dalton Schultz did a very solid job as the team's TE2, specially toward the second half of the season. He turned into a pretty good run blocker and despite only racking up 116 yards in 12 catches, he's a guy the Cowboys' offense could use even more in the future.
Also on the team is Blake Jarwin, who functioned as the Cowboys' main tight end for most of 2018. His performance against the New York Giants in week 17 made us wonder whether or not he could be an important target on the Cowboys' offense.
These two could very well have more in them than what we've seen. With a new offensive coordinator in town, tight end is a position the Cowboys could start using way more. As Bobby Belt pointed out on Twitter a few weeks ago, Scott Linehan's offense doesn't benefit tight ends very much. Before we give a verdict on what Schultz and Jarwin can do, I'd like to see them work with Kellen Moore's offense.
One thing you consistently see when Scott Linehan takes over an offense is a drop in the starting tight end's production. Randy McMichael, Byron Chamberlain, and Jason Witten all saw drops in yards per catch, receptions per game, and yards per game once Linehan took over.
Here's the thing. If the Cowboys are not taking a tight end in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, are they really upgrading what they already have? I'm not sure we'll be convinced about that if they draft a player for the position until the third or fourth round. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating for the Cowboys drafting a TE in the second round, because I believe there are more pressing needs on the team. However, signing a veteran free agent might be the better option for upgrading the position.
Should a veteran TE be an option?
This year, there are quite a few interesting names in the tight end market. Veterans such as Jared Cook, Tyler Eifert and even Antonio Gates will be looking for a new team pretty soon. I know, that would be "getting older." But it could also mean getting better. Building a solid TE committee with a veteran leading Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz could be the way to go for this football team.
Eifert is a great tight end... when he's on the field. Durability is his biggest weakness, as he hasn't played more than 10 games since 2016. The Cowboys could take a risk on him and constantly rotate him with Jarwin and Schultz. It may be a huge risk, but it could pay off big time. If the price is right, Eifert should be targeted by the front office.
The 2018 Oakland Raiders had a season to forget, winning only four games. Even still, Jared Cook's season was impressive. He finished the year with 896 yards and multiple 100-yard games. The biggest issue with Cook is his age. He turns 32 in April. But hey, he's literally coming off from a career year.
Jesse James is a younger guy who could also be worth it. He's not an a potent receiver, but he gets it done in the passing game and is one hell of a blocker. James could be a legit, cheaper option for the Cowboys in free agency.
There are a lot of names out there the front office could look at. Charles Clay was just released by the Buffalo Bills and Nick Boyle will be looking for new job after new arrivals pushed him out of the Baltimore Ravens' roster just to mention a few names.
We'll see what the front office's plans are soon enough, but right now, I'd say tight end is a need the Dallas Cowboys should at least try to address in free agency instead of the NFL Draft.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Cornerback
Unlike other positions on their roster, cornerback appears ready to off the Dallas Cowboys stability in 2019. However, that doesn't mean the team can just ignore it this offseason. There are still a few decisions to be made.
Thanks to a shrewd move in April of last year, Dallas will be enjoying Byron Jones' services at a bargain. They picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract and will be paying him just $6.3 million next season.
That's a steal for a Pro Bowl corner, who generally make more than double that amount in a single year. But the Cowboys are still left the decision of whether or not to give Jones a long-term deal now or wait until he hits free agency in 2020.
It's easy to say that they should enjoy the discount and worry about it next year. But then you risk a second Pro Bowl trip and the lure of the open market. Byron's asking price could only go up.
Of course, Dallas could then also have the option of using the franchise tag.
Keep in mind that Jones will turn 27 this September. Dallas could decide that it makes sense to play through the rookie deal this year, franchise him in 2020, and then reassess when he's about to turn 29 years old.
If they give Byron a long-term deal now then they'll have to pay him like one of the top corners in football. It may be wise to wait.
Another decision facing the Cowboys is if they think they can improve at the second starting position. It was an up-and-down year for Chidobe Awuzie, but he was playing his best toward the end of the season. Dallas could hope that a second year with Kris Richard's coaching, and just more general growth for a third-year player, will elevate Awuzie's game.
However, with plenty of cap space to work with, Dallas could pursue a solid veteran option and then allow Awuzie to play the nickel role. It would not only perhaps improve the CB2 position but also bolster depth overall.
Speaking of depth, Anthony Brown returns for the final year of his rookie deal. While never spectacular, Brown has been a gem as a former sixth-round pick with 29 career starts. He brings exceptional value and may even compete with Awuzie for the starting job.
While arguably the team's best young corner in 2017, Jourdan Lewis comes into this season with a lot of uncertainty. He fell out of favor last season, perhaps for not fitting the physical style that Richard likes. But he did manage to snag the game-clinching interception in Dallas' upset win over the New Orleans Saints.
If a scheme mismatch is the issue, the Cowboys could look to trade Lewis this offseason. He still has two years left on his rookie deal and was considered a first-round prospect by some in 2017. A cornerback-needy club might have more use for him than Dallas seems to.
If they did move Jourdan, the Cowboys might turn to Donovan Olumba to fill out the depth chart. He was one of their surprising performers in last year's training camp and spent the year on the practice squad. At 6'2", he has the size that the team seems to be looking for now in its corners.
More than likely, Dallas will ride with this group in 2019 with no big changes. I do think a Lewis trade is possible, especially with the Cowboys short on draft picks this year. But don't expect any major cap space or draft capital to go at one of the team's more solid positions.
With all the other work Dallas needs done this offseason, a little stability at cornerback is a luxury.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Center
Even with Dez Bryant's release and Jason Witten's retirement, the loss of Travis Frederick last season may have been the most damaging to the Dallas Cowboys. The team looks forward to getting their All-Pro center back in 2019 while also having a reliable backup still under contract.
Just within the last few weeks, Frederick has provided encouraging updates on his status for next year. It looks like he'll be able to participate in all offseason activities, but the Cowboys would settle for Week One. There appears to be plenty of cushion for that to happen.
Travis' absence in 2018 was seen in various ways. Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times, second-most in all the league, after just 32 and 25 times the previous two seasons. Part of that is missing Frederick's blocking ability, but also the way he would assist with reading the defense and making pre-snap adjustments.
Dallas would've loved having Frederick out there to help Guard Connor Williams, who worked with Travis throughout the offseason only to lose him in late August. It was not an easy way for the rookie to start his career.
We also saw issues in the run game. Even while Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing, short-yardage situations weren't as easy as they used to be. The Rams were able to neutralize the Cowboys' rushing attack in Dallas' playoff loss, something that Frederick might have helped overcome.
This isn't saying that Joe Looney did a bad job. On the contrary, Looney was more than adequate and helped keep Dallas from suffering far greater damage without Frederick.
After Joe's work in 2018, Dallas won't blink at keeping him on the $1 million salary he's due next year. It's a bargain for a backup of his quality, and especially given his versatility as an option at guard as well.
Not only are Frederick and Looney locked in for 2019, but Dallas also still has backup Adam Redmond under contract through next season. He was added after final cuts last year to be Looney's backup and should return to at least help the team through July and August.
With these guys already in place, there's no reason to think that Dallas will give much attention to the center position during the offseason.
At most, a mid-round draft pick might be used on a player who could potentially replace Looney in 2020 as the backup. Joe's contract ends next season, and he could be competitive for starting jobs with other teams at that point.
With lots of other concerns throughout the roster, Dallas is fortunate to have so much security at center. All signs are positive on Travis Frederick's return, and that is a huge boost to the team as it looks to push forward from last year's playoff run.
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