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Old 05-14-2013, 10:50 AM    (permalink
thule
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Remember when Kiffen told our defense to watch film on the seahawks.

Well ran across an article today that does a great job on breaking down Seattles defense.

http://www.fieldgulls.com/football-b...n-introduction
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Old 05-16-2013, 12:04 PM    (permalink
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Rafael did an AWESOME piece over at Cowboy Nation. Combine this with Thule's recent post and we could have a sexy defense that forces a ton of turnovers.



http://www.cowboysnation.com/2013/05...art-2-can.html
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Old 05-16-2013, 03:08 PM    (permalink
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http://espn.go.com/dallas/nfl/story/...cowboys-source

Quote:
Doug Free accepts pay cut
Updated: May 16, 2013, 3:57 PM ET
By Todd Archer | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Doug Free has accepted a pay cut and will remain with the Dallas Cowboys, according to a source. Free was scheduled to make $7 million this season and count $10.02 million against the salary cap, but the new two-year deal opens up salary-cap room for the Cowboys and allows Free to remain with the team that drafted him in 2007.

He will make $3.5 million in each of the next two seasons. It clears roughly $3.5 million in salary-cap space, which the Cowboys could use in extension talks for linebacker Sean Lee, who is an unrestricted free agent after this season. Free has started 48 consecutive games since 2010 but struggled in his return to right tackle in 2012, which led to the salary reduction. In 2011, Free signed a four-year, $32 million deal, including $17 million guaranteed.

Throughout the offseason, the Cowboys kept insisting they wanted Free to return while also putting out feelers to the agents for Tyson Clabo and Eric Winston. Clabo recently signed with the Miami Dolphins, which quickened the talks between the Cowboys and Free.

The Cowboys were encouraged by Free's late-season play in 2012 after he platooned with Jermey Parnell at right tackle, and believe a second year under assistant coach Bill Callahan will help return Free to better form.
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Old 05-16-2013, 09:06 PM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by Trogdor View Post
Rafael did an AWESOME piece over at Cowboy Nation. Combine this with Thule's recent post and we could have a sexy defense that forces a ton of turnovers.



http://www.cowboysnation.com/2013/05...art-2-can.html
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Old 05-16-2013, 09:39 PM    (permalink
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trogdor View Post
Rafael did an AWESOME piece over at Cowboy Nation. Combine this with Thule's recent post and we could have a sexy defense that forces a ton of turnovers.



http://www.cowboysnation.com/2013/05...art-2-can.html
Bravo! ++REP Comin'!!! I loved that read.
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Old 05-18-2013, 12:49 AM    (permalink
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IRVING, Texas – He threw a couple of guys around this past weekend as if they were Pop Warners.

He looks strong as bull.

Built like one of those top-loading deep freezers.

He’s quiet, but seems quite serious about this game of football.

And to most out there, he’s a forgotten man, and understandably.

But around here, when so many want to throw jab after jab at the Cowboys for failing to do enough this offseason to improve their offensive line, they must snicker quietly to themselves. They know better. They know they’ve got a real shot at multiple upgrades to the interior of this offensive line.

Sure, the Cowboys went out of their way to select an offensive lineman in the first round, center/guard Travis Frederick, the real irony of this draft since one and all wanted the Cowboys to concentrate on offensive linemen, some suggesting to do so with the first three picks. And then when they made doubly sure to draft at least one high-quality offensive lineman, they were chastised for trading down to do so.

Can’t win sometimes.

But here is the most silent shot being loaded, and let me be one of the first to pull back the under-the-radar curtain on …

Ronald Leary.

Yep, him again. He’s still here, hasn’t gone anywhere.

You remember him, right? The rookie free-agent offensive lineman the Cowboys signed last year out of Memphis that owner Jerry Jones just couldn’t wait to tell everyone how excited he was over the acquisition. And I know what you are thinking, and probably were thinking: Why so excited about some rookie free agent? Why, the guy didn’t even get drafted.

Well, I’m sure back in the day there were similar reactions to the rather innocuous rookie free-agent signings of Tony Romo and Miles Austin. Sometimes these guys entering the league as rookie free agents do make it. Some big. (Also see Bill Bates, Mark Tuinei, Nate Newton, Everson Walls, to name a few, and those guys were passed over when the NFL Draft was 12 rounds.) Granted, the odds are long, understood.

But this Leary, he was a little different than most rookie free agents. Here is one pre-2012 draft analysis of him:

Leary possesses next-level size and has been productive and durable on the college level. He'll offer potential for both offensive guard spots and would be attractive to a zone blocking system. He's a solid developmental prospect with a nice upside.

Most had at least a fifth-round grade on him, the modesty attributed to a degenerative knee condition following 2011 surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. While he played well at Memphis in 2012, actually moving out of necessity from left tackle to right guard, there were longevity concerns over his repaired knee. How long before he might need microfracture surgery? How long would he be able to play?

Those kinds of guys are typically flagged, and don’t go in the top half of the draft. The risk-reward factor is too high on the front side. Fifth round down, you gamble on the talent reward, sort of like buying an underpriced house in need of repairs.

And then once falling out of the draft, as guys like this typically do, tumbling into free agency, then heck yeah, take the rather inexpensive shot. The Cowboys did, and thought enough of Leary after offensive line coach Bill Callahan personally worked him out in Memphis prior to the draft to not only hand him a $9,000 signing bonus, considered high last year when the new CBA put a $75,000 total signing bonus limit on your rookie free-agent pool, but sashayed around that modest sum by guaranteeing him $205,000 of his first-year $390,000 base salary to outbid several other teams for his services.

Now I know Leary eventually landed on the practice squad, but again, at season’s end the Cowboys protected his rights by placing him on the 53-man roster for the final two weeks when another team tried to sign him away. Someone else evidently saw the same potential in Leary that the Cowboys did.

One day toward the end of last season I remember asking veteran defensive end Marcus Spears what he thought of Leary. Spears, never one to B.S, told me Leary was the real deal. That the kid had abnormal power and that he would be a player in this league once he understood the offense – all his assignments and adjustments.

“Physically, he can play,” I remember Spears saying.

So now he’s had an entire year on the practice squad, and I’m told he did not waste those four months of inactive duty. He’s also going to have the benefits of a full offseason in the weight room. Then another round of OTAs, which by the way commence on Tuesday. And lastly, he’ll attend his second NFL training camp, which will include five preseason games, to further nurture his growth.

Oh, and let’s not forget already having been eligible for a second rookie minicamp, held this past weekend, since he was only on the 53-man roster for two weeks. And again, I know the competition this past weekend was not of high quality, what with draft choices, rookie free agents and workout guys going up against him. But Leary’s play certainly was, acting the part of having been here an entire year and just knocking guys off the line of scrimmage even without pads.

That reminded me to ask around. And when I did, boy did heads raise and eyes light up.

They spoke of just how powerful he is, that his “punch” is startling. They spoke of his good feet and how at guard he’d be able to move even though he is this wide-body dude. They spoke of the power he has in his legs. They spoke of how he finishes blocks, just goes after people, something I remember from last summer’s training camp and preseason games when he’d go after someone else’s guy if no one was coming his way.

And this word kept coming up: Nasty.

That’s everything I want in my guard, how about you?

Now, can he play? We’ll see soon enough.

The Cowboys keep saying they will play their best five up front, and the good thing is several guys have position flex. Remember, Frederick played center and guard at Wisconsin. The healthy-again Phil Costa was a guard who moved to center. Mackenzy Bernadeau is a guard with center capability. And now that Doug Free has agreed to reduce his $15 million of base salaries over the next two seasons by half – $3.5 million guaranteed this year and another $3.5 million guaranteed next year if he’s still on the roster after the fifth day of the league year – there should be competition for the starting right tackle spot, too, with Jermey Parnell. And don’t forget a healthy-again Kevin Kowalski, plus this camp will be 2011 fourth-round pick David Arkin’s final shot to prove his worth.

About the only sure thing on this offensive line for 2013, health willing, is Tyron Smith at left tackle, and after last season’s performance most would consider that a good thing.

This whole scene up front as you might detect is quite fluid, giving guys such as Frederick, Leary, Costa, Parnell, Kowalski and who knows, maybe even Arkin, opportunities to compete for starting jobs. And best of all, with the exception of Smith – and likely Frederick, since he’s your first-round pick – no one else (i.e. Bernadeau, Nate Livings, Ryan Cook) has a large enough contract to assure a starting job or even a spot on the final 53-man roster for that matter.

So if you must, go ahead, think and say what you want of what the Cowboys tried to do or didn’t do to makes the needed improvements on this offensive line from last year. But when you do, don’t forget to factor Leary into the equation. Don’t automatically become, uh, somewhat leery, just because he was some lowly practice squader last year.

He’s more than that, believe me. Much more than that.

Seemingly good enough to keep on your radar, too.

http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/ar...e-7ab1d0bcd75d
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Old 05-18-2013, 12:18 PM    (permalink
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<3 Leary. I honestly hope he beats out someone for a guard spot. That would lead to at least cutting Livings next season. I want to actually have a youth movement on the line that is worth keeping rather than for the sake of youth. Enough with the veteran re-treads and develop some talent in-house.

On a happy note with the defense. The secondary was told they will emulate the physical, press, styles of the Bears/Seahawks and the corners last year were supposedly grumbling about the amount of off-man and off-zone that Rob was calling last season.

Quote:
Bears, Seahawks CBs set standard for Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne - ESPN Dallas
Tim MacMahon writes that Monte Kiffin asked his players to study the Bears and Seahawks defenses, in part for their tough, playmaking cornerbacks. MacMahon then drops this little nugget:

"As the defense’s injuries stacked up throughout the course of the season, the corners were assigned to play soft zone coverage more frequently, which caused some behind-the-scenes grumbling."

With Kiffin in town, there won't be anymore of that grumbling, as Kiffin apparently told his corners that they’ll consistently be lined up "within breath-smelling distance of receivers", something that Brandon Carr likes a lot:

“This defense kind of caters to Claiborne’s and my abilities out there, our traits, our qualities,” Carr said. “It allows us to go up there and press pretty much the whole game. Whether we play Cover 1, Cover 2, Cover 3, you’ll have to find out after the (snap), but it allows us to be aggressive and go out there and dictate the game.”
Finally NFL.com is hyping Bruce Carter (as they should be) touting him as a potential pro-bowler alongside Sean Lee.

Quote:
Is Bruce Carter in Dallas the next Derrick Brooks? - NFL.com
Bruce Carter is one of the NFL's fastest linebackers. But can he fill the critical Derrick Brooks-style role in Dallas Cowboys coordinator Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2 defense? Chris Wesseling thinks so, and also thinks there are post-season awards in the waiting for both Carter and Lee:

There may be no faster linebacker in the NFL. Carter reportedly clocked a 4.39 40-yard dash before a torn anterior cruciate ligament ended his North Carolina career. Perhaps even more impressively, he ran down from behind Atlanta Falcons speedster Julio Jones last season. Don't be surprised if Carter and middle linebacker Sean Lee both earn their first Pro Bowl nods this season.
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Old 05-22-2013, 09:33 PM    (permalink
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Some more thoughts from the Cowboys OTA practice at Valley Ranch:

Travis Frederick is getting a real taste what it is like to block a linebacker that is one of the best reactionary players in the league. Sean Lee is making life difficult for Frederick who as soon as he snaps the ball and takes his first step play side, he is already two steps behind Lee who is moving very well coming off the toe injury. I feel it’s a good thing for Frederick to have to deal with Lee when he is in there because if you can get your head across to block him, then you can block the majority of the Mike linebackers in the league. It’s really amazing to watch Lee when the ball is snapped because there is no wasted movement or motions to the ball. He has an unreal ability to find creases or gaps when the line starts their zone blocks and he is in the backfield for a tackle for loss. There appears no ill effects from the injury of last season.

I believe this 4-3 defense will make Bruce Carter a star in this league. It’s a perfect fit for his ability to make plays from the backside. Like Lee you see a player that once he sees what is happening to him scheme wise, he is gone to the ball. Where Carter is going to surprise people will be his ability to rush off the edge and cause problems. Where these defensive coaches are going to take advantage of Carter is rushing him with either Ware and Spencer. There have been times where Carter has been a terrible matchup for a back to have to deal with because of his size and power but also he has shown some wiggle to avoid the blocks. In clear air, Carter has really been impressive because of his high closing rate on the quarterback. He is going to be a problem for offenses off the edge on several fronts.

I really believe that Terrence Williams is going to have to have a great training camp to beat Dwayne Harris out of a job for this third receiver spot. I know there is going to be a competition for the spot but these offensive coaches really like to use Miles Austin in the slot and Dez Bryant opposite on the outside so that leaves the receiver next to Austin and right now, I believe that guy appears to be Harris. I honestly believe that Harris along with Bryant has made the biggest jump as a receiver in the terms of route running and catching the ball. We all have seen what he does in the open field with the ball in his hands on punt returns and the feel he has for reading blocks plus pound for pound he is the best blocking receiver they have on this squad. I do not see Harris’ height as a limitation to him because I feel like he turns that into a strength for him. Williams is a talented player but he really is going to have to fight to win that job.

When the front office activated defensive tackle Robert Callaway off the practice squad, I wrote a report on DallasCowboys.com of his ability from the pre-season work with the Detroit Lions in 2011. Callaway saw action in two games last season against the Bengals and Steelers but didn’t record any stats. I remember seeing some positive work from Callaway in those games in Detroit and I really believed that he actually might help this defense that was really banged up inside and was also struggling with the Josh Brent situation but that wasn’t the case at all. He looked overmatched at the nose and I really questioned myself what I saw in his work. Now fast forward to this OTA, Callaway looks in much better physical condition and he is playing with much better power at the point. Since the coaches have been cautious with Ratliff and his reps, Hatcher has been playing the three and Callaway the one with really nice effort and his ability to get some push. He has took on blockers which has allowed Hatcher to deal with more one-on-one blocks and it has led to some inside pressure. With Brian Price out of the picture, someone was going to have to step up and help with this one technique and it looks like very early that Callaway is trying to be that guy.

Of the down the line offensive linemen that is trying to work his way into the mix is Kevin Kowalski who has yet to line up at center but when taking the majority of the reps at right guard. We all tend to forget that some of Kowalski’s finest moments as a Cowboy has been against quality competition like the 49ers and Giants. Where Kowalski has stepped up in this zone scheme is in the way he moves to position himself as a blocker in the running game by working his head across his man and securing his block. He has also been a difficult guy to drive back when the team has thrown the ball. He has been square with a nice base and moving along the line without struggling at all. There have been plenty of plays where I thought things would probably fall apart for his but he has been very steady.

I said on our internet show “Talkin’ Cowboys” today that I believe that you will see Barry Church starting at one of the safety positions and then let the battle begin for the other spot. It appears that Matt Johnson, Will Allen, Danny McCray, J.J. Wilcox and Jakar Hamilton are all in the mix. Allen has the experience and he has the confidence of the coaches as a special teams player. McCray has been getting work but he too is a special teams player and that will most likely be his role which really leaves Johnson and the two rookies but to be honest, Johnson is like a rookie too but he is getting plenty of reps. The coaches have been working Church with different combinations of Allen and Johnson but I have not seen Wilcox get a shot with him. I have got an early feeling that they are bringing Wilcox along slowly allowing him to learn what is going on, looking for an opportunity to cut him loose with Church and see how that pairing works. I plan to continue to keep an eye on how these coaches play him until we get to Oxnard.

http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/ar...4-dafe91bfbad8
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Old 05-25-2013, 08:05 PM    (permalink
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There has been some positive comments about the job that both running backs Lance Durbar and Phillip Tanner have been able to put together while DeMarco Murray and Joseph Randle tended to their injuries. Dunbar has shown plenty of quickness in the team period but today he was able to spin Sean Lee around in the one-on-one receiving drills with a quick outside move, then hard back inside which brought him some nice separation. In the same drill Tanner was able to adjust to the ball over his head and get himself turned around and up the field. Dunbar has looked the most explosive of the backs and has the experience of playing well on special teams but was also told to keep an eye on Tanner on teams even after he struggled at times last season. Coaches feel there are some things that he is doing better than others and that has given them some hope. Kendial Lawrence was the star of the rookie mini-camp but has yet to make a big splash. Where all these backs are going to have to get better is on the blitz pickup which is an area that I am sure that Gary Brown will be hammering on when they get into pads.

When I was able to observe practice on Tuesday, it was very clear that Jason Witten was putting himself into a position to once again have another outstanding season. Witten has been used more as the inline “Y” as a blocker while James Hanna and Gavin Escobar have been used more as the move or wing. Witten has seen some time in the backfield when Callahan decides that he was to run his three wide packages. When a skilled player gets further along in his career, he becomes crafty because the skill level tends to fade. In Witten’s case he has become crafty but the routes are run at a very high level. Where Witten really does a nice job is his ability to sell where he wants you to believe where he is going then break it into a different direction. He is a load to handle up the field and then when he leans on you getting your weight on the outside, then he cuts back. These safeties and linebackers have struggled in this camp trying to match him up the field. From what I have seen, there has been no slippage in his play.

From my favorite section of players that you have never heard of but has caught my eye, defensive tackle Nick Hayden needs to be mentioned. Hayden wears Marcus Spears’ old number of 96 but he has managed to get into the backfield more these last few days than Spears did in the last three seasons. Hayden has lined up as the one technique behind Robert Callaway and has been just as productive and at times even more. Hayden was a sixth round selection by the Panthers in 2008 and at 6-4, 292 he has played with some nice surge and power. I have seen him line up in the gap and at the snap, split Phil Costa and Nate Livings getting to Kyle Orton before he could get rid of the ball. In the Team period, he managed to beat another double team, this time between Darrion Weems and David Arkin. Hayden for the most part has done a nice job in the running game but there was one time where Costa and Livings were able to get their revenge and get a little push on him.

On my twitter account (@BryanBroaddus) I had a follower ask me how receiver Anthony Armstrong was playing. My answer was that I saw him gain separation on a “Sutter-Go” but drop the ball. This afternoon I asked some front office guys that observed practice and they said he had a much better day both catching the ball but using his speed to get open. I was told that he was outstanding on a slant against Mo Claiborne taking his route hard inside and getting to the point before Claiborne could react. In the Blitz period, he ran a route underneath getting open to make a secure catch while the line picked up the blitz and in the one-on-one, he was able to drive B.W. Webb out of his pedal and complete a catch on the out route getting his feet down in bounds. For Armstrong, he did a much better job of getting noticed.

When I studied linebacker DeVonte Holloman at South Carolina I didn’t think he had all that much in the area of coverage skill and being a former strong safety and moving him to linebacker, I thought that’s probably why they made that switch. What has surprised me is that these defensive coaches have been using Holloman in coverage. In the 7-on-7 period, Kiffin matched him up against Gavin Escobar and he did an outstanding job of carrying him across the field and keeping him from the ball. What made this usual is that Holloman usually plays as the Sam and that is the position that comes off the field when they add the nickel back on the field. In this case, Holloman was playing as the Mike and he remained on the field for this scheme. Holloman hasn’t looked out of place or lost when they have put him on the field and along with Taylor Reed has been taking some nice reps. With Lee, Carter and Durant the likely starters, depth will be key and the fact that Holloman has been productive at Sam and Mike has been a good early sign.

http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/ar...8-ca6edd550e7e
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:41 PM    (permalink
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There was a time in his career where Dez Bryant was really poor running his routes. He honestly had no clue for the depth and technique in which he needed to execute it. There was more play ground to his game then there was NFL wide receiver. It really started for him last season but he has taken that up another level already in these OTAs. There were several routes in the one-on-one period where he was going against Brandon Carr and it took every bit of skill that he had to stay with Bryant. What Bryant has managed to do is learn how to sell his route and there is a confidence in which he is running them. There was a time where he wasn’t confident in what he was doing and too many times you saw him floating up the field. That has been replaced with explosive movements and power. By learning how he needs to run his routes correctly, he puts so much pressure on the secondary because there has never been a question about his hands or his ability with the ball in them but where he really struggled was getting consistently open which is why he had problems in games up until last season. Bryant’s confidence and understanding of his routes will be too much for defensive backs to have to handle, just ask Brandon Carr.

I came away impressed with what I observed from Phillip Tanner today and really what I have seen the last few opportunities that he has received since DeMarco Murray and Joseph Randle have been sidelined with injuries. I have to be honest here and say that I really didn’t give Tanner much of a shot to stick with the team after last season when he was taken off the special teams and the offensive coaches started using him less, then becoming inactive for games. What Tanner has done is very similar in what I was able to see with Dez Bryant and Dwayne Harris during this time last season, he physically remade his body. He looks lighter and quicker with the ball in his hands. He doesn’t play sluggish and lumber through the hole. There is some wiggle with power in his game. Where he has made the most improvement in his game is as a pass catcher. There have been some reps in this camp where he hasn’t fought the ball and he looks natural catching passes. He has played out of the slot, catching the ball on a “Hot” and he has popped free on some screens. He is back on special teams and looks productive in what they are trying to use him for. Keep an eye on him this Summer and see if he continues to work his way back in the mix.

Last week I wrote about Terrence Williams was going to have to fight his rear off to take the third receiver job away from Dwayne Harris and this morning the coaches gave him a shot at it. When the first offense went into the 2 minute period, it was Williams on the right outside with Miles Austin in the slot and Dez Bryant to the wide side opposite. As the drill opened, Williams showed a trait from his days at Baylor and that was sideline awareness. It takes a certain skill to concentrate on the ball with a defender on your back and trying to get both feet down in bounds. Williams was able to accomplish all three with a beautiful catch along the sideline to get the ball up the field. As the drive continued, Williams and Austin never came off the field so I decided to keep my eye on Williams to see if he would take plays off or would he battle through it. To his credit, he continued to run his routes and use his technique to try and get open, as the ball went the other way. The drive ended with an Orton to Witten touchdown against Matt Johnson when he nodded him to the outside, then up to get the separation. It was a great learning experience for Williams to be put in a no huddle situation and function without any major problems assignment wise.

Matt Johnson received the majority of the reps with the first team today and he had a nice break up of a pass to Andre Smith but the guy that is gaining some ground in the way he is playing is J.J. Wilcox. What I noticed about Wilcox today was not only his ability to make the checks in the secondary and be in the right place in the scheme but his ability to be around the ball. I knew when I studied his game film from Georgia Southern that he loved to play football just because of his
style but what I was anxious to see was how he would adapt to handling checks and assignments. There is plenty being thrown at these rookies in the secondary but it’s nowhere as complex as what he would have endured with Rob Ryan. What I have also noticed about Wilcox is that the ball tends to end up in his direction. He ended practice on an interception from the middle of the field. On the play, he was playing at linebacker level on his drop when Cole Beasley broke from the slot inside. Wilcox reads the route and drives forward on the ball as Nick Stevens tries to get it to Beasley but he undercuts the route for the interception and the pick-six going the other way. It was the cap of a nice day for Wilcox.

The Cowboys worked out two offensive tackles today, Dann O’Neill and J.B. Shugarts, who have experience in NFL camps. O’Neill went to school at Western Michigan while Shugarts is from Ohio State. After studying the tackles currently on the roster that they will most likely add one of these players to the group. The guy that will most likely be the best fit would be Shugarts in my view but we should know for sure on Wednesday if that is the case.

http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/ar...7-bf0c844e23fc
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Old 05-29-2013, 07:41 PM    (permalink
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I have to admit that I have been very critical of the play of Phil Costa, and I fully supported the front office making a move to try and upgrade the position. Costa managed to play a limited amount of plays against the Giants on opening night after missing the majority of the pre-season, then came back against the Ravens and played a significant role in the offensive output in that game before he suffered another injury the following week against the Panthers that ended his season. The front office did draft that center that I thought they needed in Travis Frederick and have put him in the lineup here day one. For Costa, it has never been easy, and despite the fact that he is running with the second line, he has honestly had reps in this zone scheme where he has been better than Frederick. The one trait that Costa has always had is his ability to play on his feet and when he is required to do that, he has been good. When Costa has been asked to play with power one-on-one, that’s when you see him have the most trouble. From what I have observed in the way that this group is now trying to run the ball, he really is better suited to take a hard step play side, grab his man with his free hand, then hook him for position. There have been plays in pass protection where he has been helpful to these young guards in keeping his position on his set, not getting turned and keeping the front of the pocket square. To Costa’s credit, you do see him working to finish blocks when given the opportunity which is far better than I believed that he could do.

There have been plenty of folks on Twitter that have asked me what my thoughts were for this season’s break out player which makes me always think about who I said last year’s player was. Sean Lissemore was that player for me, but injuries robbed him of a great deal of his season. Still I am not trying to make excuses for him, but I really thought that he was going to be that rotational player that was going to play 25 to 30 snaps a game with plenty of pressures and tackles behind the line. For Lissemore, it was a struggle once he came back into the lineup and quite frankly wasn’t the same player from the previous this season. Well this week, Lissemore was back in the mix and he looks healthy. The quickness and the power appeared to be back on several reps like it was two seasons ago when he played inside as a nickel rusher. What I have always liked about Lissemore is his ability to work his way up the field but using pass rush techniques and there were times last season where I didn’t see that but it appears to be back. This scheme which is allowing him to play as a one is a much better fit than when he had to play as a nose. When he can line up on the inside shoulder of the guard and attack that gap instead of having to play with his hands and two gap, he is a more productive player. Maybe he will have that break out season that I expected in 2012.

When the coaching staff changes were announced after the first of the year and I learned that there was going to be a switch to the 4-3 defense, I took the current roster to try and project where these players were going to line up. The one player I had the most trouble where there was going to be a fit was with Kyle Wilber. Depending on whom you asked in the front office or scouts, there seemed to be some questions as well. I heard that Wilber would compete for the SAM linebacker spot, then I heard he would be a defensive end, then back to linebacker. He really was a player without a position because at Wake Forest he had played as a defensive end before the team switched to a 3-4 scheme and he was moved to Will linebacker. Through the first five OTA practices, it looks like he has found a home as a defensive end backing up both DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. Where Wilber has seen the majority of his reps is on the right side as Ware recovers from his shoulder surgery. The good thing from an evaluation standpoint for the coaches is that Wilber is having to battle Tyron Smith each day, and that is making Wilber have to step up his game because if you rush Smith with less than your best, he will use his power and reach to stop you dead in your tracks or he will drive you up the field and to the ground like he has with Wilber. Where Wilber has become better is with his pass rush and his ability to separate. He has also put on some good weight going from the 240’s to 255 and you can see this when he is playing the run to his side. Wilber looks more comfortable with his hand in the dirt than he did playing on two feet. If the scheme change was good for guys like Bruce Carter and Sean Lissemore, it appears to be even better for Kyle Wilber, because it allows him to rush the passer and that’s a skill set he has.

http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/ar...4-4dd97c07453c
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:00 PM    (permalink
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Good stuff pocket.

On Costa... Every year he's a preseason All-Pro. Every season he's a disappointment.

On Lissemore... I didn't want DT for a reason.

On Wilber... I hope he pans out. I think he's a real solid football player.
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Old 05-31-2013, 04:30 PM    (permalink
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There is truly a physical difference in how Tyrone Crawford has approached this season. He has added solid weight to his frame without losing the quickness that he showed during the 2012 season. I remember in training camp than defensive line coach Brian Baker really grinding on him about developing his technique. Crawford seemed to pick up on things very quickly and was given more and more opportunities to play in special packages for Rob Ryan and he made the best of them. When the scheme changed with the coaching staff, I was trying to figure out where Crawford might be the best fit and strong side defensive end seemed to be a logical spot or maybe even as a one technique. The one thing that I have learned over the years when I was a scout and these coaches were in Tampa that their defensive linemen were always attacking up the field from both the defensive tackle and end spots so Crawford was a natural fit because this was the style of defense that he played at Boise. Where Crawford has made a great deal of progress is in his upper body strength. You can see power when he rushes off the left end and when he extends his arm into the tackle and he is able to control the blocker while he is going up field getting the corner. There were also times where he was used on the twist from the outside, coming inside and he spilt the block of Frederick and Leary. He has done a nice job of when the ball comes to his side against the zone block and held up well at the point. He is a stronger player than Wilber who was playing on the opposite side but those are two nice young backups to Ware and Spencer on the outside.

Tyron Smith is now working into his second season as the starter at left tackle and as things were not always perfect in his first experience in that role, he managed to be the most consistent linemen they had. There have been a really nice battles these last two camps with Smith and Kyle Wilber. As a scout, I always enjoyed when two young players were battling to get the best of each other. With no Ware in the lineup, Wilber has received plenty of good work and mainly it has come against Smith who might be a quiet personality off the field but there have been sometimes where he has jumped on Wilber so quickly that he spends the whole play trying to fighting off the block as the ball goes past him or Orton completes the pass. You can see Smith playing with more confidence in what he is doing technique wise. Things you see without pads like the depth of his set and the width to the outside make a huge difference. Where Smith was not his best at times last season was when rushers took an inside charge on him, now you see him slam the door with a power step to cut that off. This zone scheme in the running game is perfect for him because when he can get his mass going sideways, then forward, he can really set the edge because once he gets a hold of the defender, he can control and that will be the key.

When the Cowboys signed Brandon Carr before last season, I remember studying his tape and thinking to myself what an outstanding press corner he was. He and Brent Grimes of the Falcons were my two favorite corners during that free agency period. When it comes to playing technique, reading the route and adjusting to the ball, Carr has a real feel for this. When the switch was made from the scheme that Rob Ryan used to the one he currently plays in, I felt like there was going to be a big adjustment in the way he plays. I am not saying that Carr can’t play in off coverage but his strength has always been his ability to get his hands on the receiver and keep in position throughout the route, he is a master at this. While Carr has never been the quickest of foot say like Claiborne, Scandrick or Webb, he plays with smarts and technique and with a physical style that allows him to shut down the better receivers in the league. In this scheme, there are times where the corner will turn and bail in an attempt to funnel the receiver inside to the linebackers and safeties. What will happen to Carr is that a receiver will get a run on him developing separation and this is where the quickness comes into play. It’s going to take some time getting used to playing this type of technique for all these corners on the squad but maybe an even bigger adjustment for Carr.

http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/ar...a29d-60cdd21c5
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Old 06-04-2013, 08:55 AM    (permalink
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When Gavin Escobar became a Dallas Cowboy, my first reaction (okay, fine, my first reaction after 'Who?') was one of excitement for the future of our offense. No, I won't say that Escobar is the next Witten (or Gonzalez/Gates, for that matter), though I like his potential. What I really aim to say is that Escobar adds a third threat to the tight end corps that has been missing for quite some time.

The thing that I love most about tight ends, especially having a quarterback as in-control at the line of scrimmage as Romo, is the fact that no one can tell what to expect based on a tight end's presence on the field.

It's a little-tracked battle on Sundays during football season, but it's one worth paying attention to: position groupings. I'll try to back up a bit and put this all into context.

Most of us have seen a penalty called at least once entitled "Twelve Men in the Huddle." At first, it may seem like an arbitrary penalty - who cares if the quarterback has an extra body to explain the play to before said player leaves the huddle? At least, that's how I thought until I started paying attention to personnel groupings.

When the offense forms the huddle, the defense becomes aware of the personnel grouping ("12" for example). Based on the personnel grouping, the defensive coordinator will know historically what that team has done with that group on the field, from as basic as run/pass ratio to as specific as which route combination they run from it. Based on this information, the defensive coordinator calls for what he believes to be an advantageous personnel grouping of his own. This is why 12 men in the huddle is a penalty - it prevents the defense from having time to adjust while the offense huddles.

We know the offense must have 5 eligible receivers on any given play. Who they are is what is significant to the defense. When the defense sees an offensive huddle containing 5 wide receivers, they know to expect a passing play. It's a rather simple conclusion to draw, and the defensive coordinator will likely send our 5 corners to match up. Correlating the number of corners to the number of receivers is a fairly standard practice, especially on passing downs. But what do you do to counter backs and tight ends?

A 5WR set is 00 personnel. The first 0 indicates 0 running backs, and the second 0 indicates 0 tight ends. I've honestly never heard of a 50 or 05 set, or even a 4x or x4 set, so we can leave out those extremes for now. As for reasonable formations, though, the 23 isn't all that rare. That's your standard goal line set. The defense will be expecting run or short-range play action based on the personnel and will likely send out a run-focused defensive group.

A second running back, typically a fullback, will significantly increase the expectation of a running play, especially if that fullback is not very versatile as a receiver (Vickers, actually, is a passable receiver). How do you combat the running game, as a defensive coach? Typically, the first thing you do is avoid calling a zone coverage that requires stepping backward at the snap; passivity loses in the running game. The next thing is to ensure lane integrity. Make sure every hole is accounted for. Finally, if the running game has been working for the other team, you may consider a run blitz. A run blitz, rather than focus on getting to the quarterback (which is more often done with overload blitzing), simply sends additional player to lanes that are already covered, usually in a more balanced manner than a pass-rush blitz. An example might be sending both OLBs inside the DEs. Essentially, the run blitz takes guys out of coverage, but sometimes it simply must be done.

What if that 23 formation were, instead, a 20 formation? A fullback, halfback, and three receivers? I'd consider it likely to be an inside run or a passing play. This illustrates that the three tight ends, when compared to the three receivers, greatly differ in the plays that they allow to be run. Just one paragraph ago, we also established that a strong indication of the run, if the run has been successful, can effectively remove pass defenders from coverage. This should be the goal for any passing offense (conversely, and this can be done with the 20 formation I just discussed, a team like the Titans or Vikings might want to 'bluff' pass in order to force zone coverage and gain an advantage in the running game).

If the goal is to convince the other team to respect the run when you pass, or respect the pass when you run, the solution is simply to be better than the opponent in both the running and passing game. There isn't an easier concept in all of football. This, however, is the age of parity. It's uncommon to be better than the opponent in both the running and passing game, especially if you have any investments on the defensive side of the ball. In that situation, it becomes desirable to deceive your opponent into respecting the run or the pass, specifically during plays in which you're doing the opposite. This is where the tight ends really come into play.

Using the classic '23' goal line formation, again, one might reconsider the implications when going against a team like, for example, the Dallas Cowboys who now, along with the best tight end in the game also have one of the fastest and, apparently, the second-best rookie at the position for a formidable three-pronged attack. With Witten, Hanna, and Escobar in the Huddle with Murray and Vickers, would you be so certain that the play is a run? Or a standard passing play? Or even a play-action route going 30 yards downfield to Hanna? You simply can't know. When a tight end takes the field in today's game, the opponent must respect his ability as a receiver and as a blocker.

So when you see, for example, a '13' set, with one receiver, one back, and three tight ends, you can't be sure if you should treat it like 4 receivers and a back (definite pass) or 4 backs and a receiver (power run), or something in between. You can, as a defensive coordinator, play balanced defense (and likely lose most plays), or elect to determine whether the offense is running or passing. In the latter case, if the offense forces you to commit to the wrong defense, you'll likely be burned for big plays. Guess correctly three times (one in eight chance, going by coin flips), and you can get off the field. The more dynamic the tight ends are, as blockers and as receivers, the more pressure is put on the defensive coordinator to make a decision between run and pass defense.

The Cowboys have been setting themselves up to force these types of choices. They also carry an additional advantage in the form of one Tony Romo. Romo calls two plays in the huddle, most often one pass and the other run, and then goes to the line to read the defense. If the defense is set up to stop the run, Romo will go to the pass, and the other way around. With the dynamic skillsets of our tight ends, these 'kill' calls may come with formation changes, forcing the defense into disarray as Romo creates mismatches for the rest of the team to exploit: a corner on Escobar, a safety on Witten, or a linebacker on Hanna. I like all of those matchups. I also like Murray running hard at a zone defense that's on its heels to defend our three-way tight end threat.

I'm excited to see what our offense can do with multiple tight ends in the fold. The 12 formation seems to be the Cowboy Way of the future, and I can't wait for the league to take notice.

What do you want to see from the Cowboys' tight ends this year? What are your expectations?

http://www.bloggingtheboys.com/2013/...ing-tight-ends

I remember remarking on draft day that if Garrett is smart enough to utilize "13" formations the Escobar pick could be brilliant. Here's to hoping! :D
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Old 06-04-2013, 07:29 PM    (permalink
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DeMarco Murray has worked his way back into practice and appears to be moving around well. There are traits that Murray has where I feel like he doesn’t get enough credit for his game. DeMarco Murray in my view is a complete back. If I can expand on what I mean by that complete back, it is one that runs the ball well, shows solid, dependable hands and can blitz pickup or make adjustments in the blocking scheme to help in the protection. Where Murray doesn’t get the credit he deserves is as a pass protector and you can see it when he is not in the lineup. As good as Phillip Tanner, Lance Dunbar and Kendial Lawrence have been at times, they do not have the understanding, awareness or skill level of Murray. In the blitz period, with the down and distance of first-and-10, Murray lines up off set to the left of Kyle Orton who is in the shotgun. At the snap, Kyle Wilber gets a heck of a jump on Tyron Smith, who is beaten off the ball badly. Murray sees what is happening, but instead of stepping up and getting in the way of Smith, stays wide which causes Wilber to have to pause. Smith then is able to adjust and along with Murray push Wilber to the outside. Orton feels the space, because Leary and Frederick have Hayden pinned inside, and is able to step up to make the throw. It was an outstanding, heads up play by Murray to not only help his tackle but give his quarterback a throwing lane, something these other young backs need to develop more.

Solid day for Cole Beasley, who has been in the shadows of the conversations about Bryant, Williams and Harris during these sessions. Where you think Beasley would struggle would be in the red zone where he doesn’t have much room to use his quickness, but he was outstanding in the one-on-one drills working himself open. There were several reps where he had his man on his heals making it hard for the defender to adjust to his routes. Beasley showed nice pace on his routes with little or no hesitation. Movements were quick and decisive. He in the blitz work, he was able to work inside out of the slot against Matt Johnson on a 3rd and 5 play, where he started up the field hard to the outside, then planted off his left foot which gave him direction and separation. Orton was able to read it all the way for an easy pitch and catch in front of Johnson. Beasley during these camps has been working both on the outside and inside out of the slot so that tells me that the offensive coaches are trying to find spots for him to be success.

With defensive linemen like Ratliff and Hatcher rehabbing injuries or taking a break from practice, it has given a guy like Ben Bass more opportunity to work with the first defense. Bass showed up well today and was disruptive on several reps from his three technique spot. He and Tyrone Crawford both did a nice job of attacking David Arkin and Doug Free up the field in the blitz period. Bass is a much better player in this scheme because he can just worry about working that shoulder of the guard and not having to play two gap with his hands. Bass showed some explosiveness in the scheme when he and DeVonte Holloman worked a twist game with Holloman going to the outside and Bass diving down inside beating Kevin Kowalski up the field causing Nick Stephens to have to flush out of the pocket to his right and causing him to throw the ball wide. One of the nice traits of Bass is his athletic ability and movement skills. On one rep, Kiffin went with a “Fire Zone” blitz which required Bass to have to drop in coverage and he was able to carry tight end Gavin Escobar 15 yards down the field which was quite impressive.

Justin Durant is an interesting player in that I believe he is one of those players that has the ability to line up in a couple of different spots and be effective. Since coming back to practice last week after showing signs of a sore hamstring earlier in the sessions, he has shown to be a nice fit in this defense. In his last stop in Detroit, he showed the ability to play on the strong side in this 4-3 scheme, use his hands to battle blocks and control blocks to make plays. For the Cowboys, he is not the athlete of Carter or Lee but I do like the way he can play as the Mike dropping in the zone and reacting to the ball in front of him. This morning, he was paired with Ernie Sims and there was a play in the nickel where James Hanna went on an inside route with receiver Anthony Amos crossing at the same level. Amos’ route was designed to move the linebackers but this didn’t bother Durant at all who was at nice depth, saw the ball and made the play. It was a good read by a veteran linebacker that is showing he can do more than just play as a Sam linebacker.

http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/ar...e-dbca212666f3
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Old 06-04-2013, 07:35 PM    (permalink
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Awesome stuff guys! Love the ability to see what the web has got to offer without having to go dig it up myself!
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Old 06-11-2013, 07:47 PM    (permalink
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Some thoughts and observations from the Cowboys first mini-camp practice of the week.

I thought it was an outstanding day for the defensive tackles on this team during the practice as a group. Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher were disruptive throughout the day. Depending on the call, there were times where Hatcher lined up as the three and Ratliff as the one and he was a handful for Travis Frederick.
Hatcher had a couple of plays where he was explosive up the field, one time using a swim move going to his right beating the block of Ronald Leary and getting into the backfield for what would have been a tackle for loss. Ben Bass at the three beat blocks on-on-one and even got so far up the field, he was able to get his hand up to deflect a Kyle Orton pass. Nick Hayden did a nice job of keeping his shoulders square in the running game, not getting turned from the one and making the ball have to spill outside to his teammates.

Newly-signed Jeris Pendleton even got in the action as a one technique and appears that he will need to focus more on his quickness off the snap because it was very clear that his line mates did a much better job of getting off the rock. Pendleton looked a tick slow which caused him to get hooked on the play a couple of different times but overall as a group their film review will be positive.



If it is possible for a player to continue to take his game to another level, Jason Witten is doing his best to make that happen. Witten has always been super competitive in the way he practices but with veteran safety Will Allen back at practice, Witten did his best to try and wear him out with his routes.

Allen prides himself as a physical cover man did his best to match Witten who is a nightmare to deal with because of how well he understands how to run his route that puts the defender off balance. He did a nice job of leaning on Allen to give himself room in the route, then later came back against Sean Lee on a crossing working his right arm into Lee which knocked him away, on the play, Lee could do nothing but watch as Witten then turning up the field for the catch.

What I have also noticed more about Witten and this offensive scheme that he is running more routes down the middle of the field in the red zone. Too many times in the past seasons when drives have stalled in the red zone, I often wondered to myself, why not try and get the ball to the best player on the field when it comes to playing in a tight area and making a contested catch. It appears that the coaches are trying now to get him more in the mix which a good thing. If Anthony Spencer has been the best defensive player in my eyes in these camps and no disrespect to Dez Bryant but Witten is that player on the offense for me.



On Monday, I wrote that I had my eye on B.W. Webb to see if he could have a type of practice where it gave him a little momentum going into Oxnard. Today with Morris Claiborne out of the lineup, he showed up with some quality work when he was asked to work with the first defense in the nickel and with the twos when he worked inside on the slot.
One of Webb’s best traits is his footwork and the quickness of his feet. On a route today against Anthony Armstrong who has the best vertical speed of all the receivers, he tried to take Webb down the field to gain separation but he was unable to do so.

Webb managed to keep inside position on the route all while playing the ball in the air. Later in the blitz period, Webb was in the slot on coverage off the defensive right side and Kiffin sent him on a blitz like he had done with Ronde Barber for so many seasons while in Tampa. Webb timed the blitz perfectly and was on Nick Stephens before he had a chance to set his feet. Jason Garrett after practice spoke how Webb does a little something each day to get noticed and for today, he was absolutely correct. I thought this was Webb’s best practice since I had seen him work in that rookie camp several weeks ago.



On my twitter account every time a player gets released from another club I am always asked if that player is a fit for this club. If I don’t have a good thought one way or another, I usually ask someone in the organization that would be able to steer me in the right direction. I had a good idea that the Cowboys like Mike Kafka the quarterback that the Patriots released on Monday and there was most likely a shot of them putting in a claim on Tuesday which they did but he was awarded to Jacksonville because they had a worse record than the Cowboys. I see today that Baltimore released fullback Vonta Leach and he is free and clear to sign with any team. Would Leach be a good fit for this offense? My answer would be no from what I have seen scheme wise from Garrett and Callahan. This team is working one single back runs with a combination of tight ends playing in the roles of the “H” and “F”. I have yet to see a run where they have used a true fullback like in years past. The majority of their runs have been zone calls or out of the pistol formation with a hand off to a back behind the quarterback. As the front office has continued to add tight ends to this roster, it was very clear that the fullback was a position that was going to get phased out and after watching Callahan calling plays in the running game, I believe that even more. Vonta Leach is a heck of a football player but in what this football team is trying to accomplish scheme wise, he is not a good fit and that is the bottom line.http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/ar...6-8147ed4aa6db
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Old 06-13-2013, 08:25 PM    (permalink
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The more I watch Ronald Leary play, the more I believe there is going to be a battle at that left guard spot for the position. There is no question of the ability of Leary to play with power and that is something you can tell without pads when he pass a twist stunt and knocks Kyle Wilber to the ground with a punch or he takes Jason Hatcher and stones him in his tracks on the rush. Leary looks like a completely different player than the one we saw last season. He looks more confident in what he has to accomplish assignment wise and to be quite honest if you talk to scouts around the league like I do the biggest questions about his play were the issues with the knee which appears to be giving him no problems because I have not seen him a day to rest it like with what we have seen with Nate Livings and how sharp he was mentally to pick up the offense. In my study of his work this Spring, I was seeing less and less of the adjustment problems to his assignments and carrying them out which really was his downfall during camp in 2012. The zone scheme appears to be a nice fit for a player that was a left tackle at Memphis. He is making quality reach and cut off blocks while also getting to the second level. In some of the short yardage plays, Bill Callahan has called his number on pulling plays to the right and Leary appears to have a feel for how to search his man and make contact. Not all of Leary’s work has been perfect and along with Kevin Kowalski has given some nice reps at the guard spots while Livings and Bernadeau rest injuries before training camp. If Livings continues to have problems with that knee, Ronald Leary has put some good practices together working with Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith that makes me believe that he will get even more opportunities in Oxnard to try and win this job. It’s not physical with him but the mental side that we need to pay attention to.

Over the last several weeks, there was something that I always heard from the field when the tight ends were working with the quarterbacks and receivers and that was Jason Garrett urging Gavin Escobar to play faster. In this offense is about getting to your spot as quickly as possible or running your route to clear so that receivers might have the opportunity to operate in clean space. If you watch Escobar on tape from San Diego State, he wasn’t always the most fleet afoot but on this final day, Escobar had one of his best practices because he was playing much quicker. His routes up the field or over the middle were run with some pace to them. It was like Escobar wasn’t having to think what he was trying to do but just being what us scouts like to call a “Football Player”. Escobar was a much smoother player today and not the one that I had seen have some lumbering qualities to his game. He was mentally sharp in the blitz period where he quickly recognized that Justin Durant was coming off the corner and adjusted his route to receive the ball “Hot” from Orton. In the “Play It Out” period, he ran a beautiful route up the field releasing to the outside, then broke inside to take the ball sliding along the end line from Nick Stephens for a touchdown. Later he was able to secure another touchdown by making a contested catch with Justin Durant on his back trying to keep him out of the end zone. For Escobar the question will never be about his hands and his ability to catch in them but learning how to play the game quicker both in his routes and in his blocking. Today was a step in the right direction by all accounts.

I really do like the fit on the defensive with Justin Durant playing as the Sam linebacker in the mix with Sean Lee and Bruce Carter. With Durant I feel like you get a smart player that has some of the similar traits of Lee and Carter in his ability to read quickly, then react. In just watching him moving around the field and how he manages to be in position, I feel like it shows a great deal about his football awareness to go along with his ability to be a physical player at the point of attack. There is a reason why he had over a 100 tackles last season for the Lions but what is surprising to me now is that they took him off the field in pass coverage situations because when he has been asked to play in coverage, he has done a dependable job whether he has dropped in zone or having to carry a tight end in man. I made mention earlier about his coverage against Gavin Escobar which was just an outstanding play to get the ball away from Durant but when the ball has gone to the flat like yesterday on the tight end screen to Jason Witten, he was right there to make the hit before the play had a chance to get going. With Durant, Alex Albright and DeVonte Holloman, you have three linebackers that can hold up against the run but are not a liability in coverage.

A player that didn’t start off the camp practices well but really picked it up the last couple of weeks was cornerback Sterling Moore. I found myself focusing more in guys like Carr, Claiborne, Scandrick and Webb but Moore has done a much better job of being in position to make plays where earlier, he was even in the same area code on these routes. There were too many times where he was turned and you could clearly see separation but in some practices last week and the three day camp this week, his technique was much tighter and his positioning on routes made it difficult for the quarterbacks to fit the ball inside on him. Earlier he was playing with poor foot quickness and he appeared to be slow reacting but this week he was on more balls and his game was overall better. Where Moore can help this team is when he has to play on the edge making sure that the ball goes inside to the linebackers and safeties. He understands how to play off blocks with his hand use and he does tackle well enough to keep plays from turning into large gains. Moore has been working opposite of Orlando Scandrick with the second defense on the left side and in the way the defensive coaches are playing him, he is the fourth corner ahead of B.W. Webb, who also had a nice three days. Earlier in the camp, I had big concerns in the way that Moore was playing but he now appears to have found himself again and will be ready for any role required of him.

http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/ar...dium=twi tter
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Old 06-13-2013, 08:57 PM    (permalink
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All this good news has me giddy inside. ^_^

I was really hoping Leary would come in ready to compete for a starting job. The future is now. Let's GO!

Escobar is sexy cool. Durant was a winner signing! Good to hear stuff of Moore too. One of those guys I have thoughts of making the 53 man roster. But a depth guy so you don't always hear much about them.


I hope we hear more good stuff about Matt Johnson.
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Old 06-20-2013, 09:59 AM    (permalink
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Michael Jordan mentoring Dez Bryant

A more mature Dez Bryant insists he finally has "found himself" after a bumpy start to his NFL career. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett have noticed a change for the better as well.

After becoming just the seventh NFL player to sign with Nike's Jordan Brand, Bryant credited the basketball legend for admonishing him to " stay out of trouble."
As it turns out, Bryant actually downplayed Michael Jordan's role in demonstrating professionalism. Bryant's longtime mentor, David Wells, revealed that Jordan and the once-troubled wide receiver talk by phone twice a week and regularly exchange text messages. Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul also has taken Bryant under his wing.

"They almost treat him like a little brother," Wells told FOXSportsSouthwest.com. "Dez started listening to older people instead of the young guys. Those guys are both married and have stable lives. And that's something Dez craves."

Bryant is putting their example into action. Three years after igniting a controversy by refusing to carry veteran receiver Roy Williams' shoulder pads, Bryant has begun mentoring third-round draft pick Terrance Williams.


"That's one of the things that Michael Jordan preached to him," Wells said. "He wants him to develop as a leader."

Wells certainly paints a rosy picture of a re-invented, wholesome and happy Cowboys star. We almost can imagine Jordan and Bryant whiling away the afternoon hours in a winsome rowboat or tandem bicycle.

It won't mean a lick, though, if Bryant can't stay out of trouble while emerging as the team's most consistent offensive threat. He's at least off to an impressive start on the latter goal.

An "unstoppable" Bryant was the best player on the field in offseason practices, toying with the Cowboys cornerbacks. A 2,000-yard season might be a pipedream, but don't be surprised if Bryant finishes out 2013 as the primary threat to Calvin Johnson's mantle as the greatest receiver on the planet.

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap100...oys-dez-bryant
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Old 07-10-2013, 06:06 PM    (permalink
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IRVING, Texas -- If you have been following along with our series of the positional break down of this squad, you I have read several times where I made a mention of scheme fits for players and how they should benefit from them in the coming season.

On defense, I really like the fits for Anthony Spencer, Jay Ratliff and Bruce Carter but the one player that might benefit from it the most is, Sean Lee and what his required traits wise for a Mike linebacker to be successful.

It’s not that Lee couldn’t handle playing inside in the 3-4 because his lateral quickness along with his understanding of what his fit was in the defense but how he is able to read blocks in front of him, then react. There were times during the early part of the 2012 season while playing next to Bruce Carter where Carter actually looked slow reacting but he really wasn’t, it was Lee was just that quick.

During my career in this league, there are very few inside linebackers that play with the ability that Sean Lee has. The quickness and instincts are rare. Where Lee is also rare, is his ability to finish the play. There is a real violence to his game. When you study him on tape, he plays like a blur working through traffic getting to the ball. Lee has that ability to stop ball carriers in their tracks because he plays with explosive strength and snap.

In this scheme, Lee will benefit from the two defensive tackles in front of him for block protection but where you will also notice him more is in pass coverage. This is an underrated feature of his game. We talk about the instincts he shows when it comes to playing the run and locating the ball but he is also able to use those same instincts in pass coverage.

Lee has an outstanding awareness of positioning in his drops to be disruptive in throwing lanes. He has a sense of how to play routes in zone but when he has to carry a man up the field, he knows how to keep himself in position to play the ball. It’s rare that you see him out of position when he is put in those situations.

There will be plenty of times this season where you see him with an extremely deep drop into the middle of the field playing between the two safeties in the middle of the field. His movement skills will allow him to not only get into position to defend but also be a force when receivers try and work that area.


Sean Lee has yet to make a Pro Bowl in his short career with the Cowboys, even though I believed that he was well on his way before he was injured in Carolina. This scheme is too good of a fit, plus he is healthy, not to make a ton of plays.

He is just a natural. The front office will look to extend him soon and rightfully so because of his ability and what he means to this team with his leadership. Players and fans around the National Football League have an idea of who Sean Lee is, but come February he will take his place among the best of the best and then everyone will know.

This should be the first of many trips for the talented linebacker.

http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/ar...d-b7ea150e3dc5
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Old 07-17-2013, 07:45 PM    (permalink
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The Dallas Cowboys have one playoff win since 1996.

It's an ugly stat that has led to some justified criticism of Jerry Jones, who acts both as the Cowboys' owner and general manager.

Bill Parcells developed a close relationship with Jones during his run as Cowboys coach from 2003 to 2006. Parcells recently told the Cowboys' official website he remains "pretty good friends" with Jones, whom Parcells believes is misunderstood.

"Oh yeah, definitely. I think it's distorted," said Parcells, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month. "I think there's a definite misperception. I just think everyone thinks things are a certain way. I didn't see it to be that way. I think Jerry is a good businessman and a good listener. What you have to do is make sense to him.

"You've got to make sense to him. If he thinks you're making sense, he'll alter his opinion. I enjoyed him. I like him. I like him a lot."


Parcells' last game as a coach was an infamous one, a 2006 wild-card playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks that forever will be remembered for Tony Romo's botched hold on a chip-shot field goal attempt that would've given the Cowboys the lead late in regulation.

During a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Parcells was asked why he chose to leave the Cowboys after that season.

"I was at a different age," said Parcells, who was 65 when he stepped down as Cowboys coach. "To me, I'm trying to win the championship. When you lose like we lost that game, I'm down the road coaching-wise and age-wise and quite frankly, energy-wise. And you start thinking about all the things to just get back to where you were that moment, and sometimes it's a little bit overwhelming. So I just decided, that's enough, I'm getting off the field, and this time I stayed off the field."

It's a great what-if to think about how Romo's career might have played out differently had he had a few more years under Parcells. We'll never know.

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap100...-misperception
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Old 05-12-2014, 05:07 PM    (permalink
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http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/cowbo...ll-mcclay-an-a

Jerry Jones gives Will McClay an 'A'

Quote:
IRVING, Texas -- While he didn’t speak with reporters during the three days of the NFL draft, Will McClay’s name was mentioned quite a bit.
McClay, the Cowboys' assistant director of player personnel, was given the task of putting the draft board together and making sure the coaches and scouts were on the same page in terms of personnel.

And the man who makes the final call on all things Cowboys, Jerry Jones, gave McClay the highest grade possible for his work.

“From organizing the initial days, from the Senior Bowl all the way to the combine, the organization of the board, coordination with the coaches – I’m going over all that because I’ll break it down – and I couldn’t give him anything but an 'A' in every respect,” Jones said. “We all know how smart he is, but he’s got a unique perspective. He’s been around this game long enough. It really came to bear in that room. He made a significant, really a significant contribution to this being a success.”

The Cowboys made significant changes to how they approach the draft from creating Pods so coaches and scouts can discuss prospective draft picks to McClay putting the draft board together and allowing Tom Ciskowski, who previously did it, the ability to do more scouting.

The Cowboys made smart football decisions over the three days from bypassing quarterback Johnny Manziel, who was the top-rated player at the time of their selection at No. 16, to selecting Zack Martin, a tackle, who was the best player available.

In a draft where defense was needed, the Cowboys used all five of their seventh-round picks on defense. Upgrades to the defensive line were achieved when the team snagged defensive end Demarcus Lawrence in the second round and in Rounds 4 and 7 when Anthony Hitchens (fourth round) and Will Smith (seventh round) were selected to upgrade the inside linebacker spots.

Stephen Jones said despite giving up a third-round pick to move up in the second to draft Lawrence, it was worth it because the Cowboys picked up wide receiver Devin Street from Pittsburgh, considered one of the top receivers on their board.

There were little debates about players, and the Cowboys bypassed an opportunity to draft an offensive lineman in the middle rounds.

You could attribute the success of the draft to McClay and his staff.

“That may be his best trait,” Jones said. “He’s got great people skills. Everybody’s comfortable with him, but yet he’s real articulate. You understand clearly what he’s asking and what he’d like to get done. You put all that together and he did a great job. He had these coaches operating full bore as far as what they were doing, what he wanted of them. He coordinated.”

After last year's debacle, this year seemed like a smooth ride. Even their controversial trade up was made with sheer determination and clear purpose. Kudo's Mr. McClay!
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Old 05-14-2014, 02:35 PM    (permalink
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http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/ar...5-fc43f4afc993

Quote:
The Cowboys dealt their second-round pick, No. 47 overall, and the 78th pick to Washington to move up for Lawrence. The Redskins used those picks on a pass-rusher in Trent Murphy and a guard in Spencer Long.

Coincidentally, that’s precisely what Dallas would have done if not for the trade – opting for Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy and LSU guard Trai Turner. Ealy and Turner wound up as teammates with Carolina, taken No. 60 and No. 92, respectively.

Had things played out differently, Jones said they might have been teammates in Dallas, with the Cowboys taking them over other notable names like Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, Oregon State defense end Scott Crichton and others.

“I would say that Ealy was probably our next pick. Sometimes what you read isn’t always true, in terms of the Jernigans of the world and people like that – we really didn’t have him in that mix. We really felt like we needed some help at the right end after losing DeMarcus (Ware).”

Cowboys executives said after the draft that they valued Lawrence as the next-best right end behind only No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney and No. 9 overall pick Anthony Barr. There was some hope that Barr would fall to Dallas at No. 16, but he was eventually snatched up by Minnesota. Jones said his staff didn’t see Ealy as a right end prospect, though they would have tried him at the position.

“We felt like on our roster we had left end prospects, we had nose prospects, we had under-tackle – what we call the three-technique – prospects. But really, at the end of the day, we felt that Demarcus Lawrence was a much better right end, whereas Ealy might be more of a left end, under-tackle,” he said. “We were going to try him there if he ultimately became our player, but we felt like there was quite a bit of difference, especially with our coach, Rod Marinelli. We felt like Demarcus really had the juice, if you will, to give us something coming off the right end in a pass rush situation.”

Faced with picking at No. 78 overall, the Cowboys surely would have surprised some fans and draft analysts had they taken Turner. The coaching staff was clearly high on the LSU product, as offensive line coach Bill Callahan worked him out at Turner’s Pro Day.
Interesting Tid Bits
  • Jernigan was not rated highly on our boards, and would not have been in play if we didn't trade up.
  • Ealy would have been given the opportunity to try RE, but was seen as a LE / 3tech prospect. That would have been a nice play, especially with Melton on a 1 year deal. The Bears made a simlar move with Melton himself when he came into the league as a DE/DT/FB out of Texas.
  • Trai Turner would have been a nice get in the third round and rumor mill says we we looking to get back into the third to reel him in. I'm not sure I would have traded a future pick to get him but if we were on the clock at our normal pick I would have been fine. Also, weird that Jerry would give up on his pet cat in Leary and stack up at guard, unless the plan would have been to kick Martin out to RT and play two rookies on the right side.

Even more interesting would had been if we were able to execute a trade to move down from #16. It looks more and more like that was the plan once Barr was off the board. not that I am not excited about Martin but had we moved down in the mid/late 20's and picked Lawrence and picked Ealy to mold into a 3t, while adding another pick I would have been pretty happy. Trai Turner would have been a nice addition in the third round and we likely would have had at least another 3rd round, more probable of a late 2nd round to play with.
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Old 05-14-2014, 04:00 PM    (permalink
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Interesting thought. Trading down out of 16 to the late 1st would've at least gotten us a 3rd like last year.

This is what the Cards got for trading down from 20 to 27.

-------------------------------------
New Orleans Saints: Acquire pick No. 20 in 2014 from Arizona.
-- At No. 20, New Orleans selects Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon St.

Arizona Cardinals: Acquire pick No. 27 in 2014 and New Orleans' third-round pick in 2014, No. 91 overall.
-- At No. 27, Arizona selects Deone Bucannon, safety, Washington St.
-- At No. 91, Arizona selects John Brown, WR, Pittsburg State
-------------------------------------

If we ended up taking Lawrence at 27, then the Cowboys wouldn't have taken Ealy (since Ealy was a backup option for Lawrence).

But in Round 2, they might've gone for their OT. Jack Mewhort or Billy Turner. Both were on our visits list. Mewhort was the first OT taken after our original 2nd rounder. Turner got scooped up early in the 3rd.

With our original 3rd, we could've chosen between Terrence Brooks, Will Sutton, Kareem Martin or Louis Nix.

With an additional 3rd, if I'm looking at the pick the Cards got from the Saints, then we could've gotten Trai Turner there.

1st (after trade down) - Demarcus Lawrence
2nd - Jack Mewhort or Billy Turner
3rd - Terrence Brooks, Will Sutton, Kareem Martin or Louis Nix
3rd (from trade) - Trai Turner


That does look better than

1st - Zack Martin
2nd - Demarcus Lawrence
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