The Ghost of Jimmy Johnson

When the Cowboys moved from Valley Ranch into The Star they may have accidentally brought the ghost of Jimmy Johnson with them when they packed Garrett’s office.

With the recent release of Lucky Whitehead from the team today, you have to wonder if Jason Garrett is starting to pay more attention to what the media has to say and not enough on the pulse of the team. I’m not going to stand here and say that this situation is not a big deal but it’s not as big as the DUI that Nolan Carroll received in May or the  Aggravated Assault w/ Deadly Weapon that Damien Wilson was charged with on the  (insert any Jason Pierre-Paul joke) fourth of July holiday.

In the infamous words of Desi Arnaz “Jason!! You Got Some Explaining to Do”. So far the Cowboys story this offseason and almost every offseason has been to let the justice system play out before passing judgement and with the release of Whitehead it seems a 360 degree turn or maybe a 180 from the past (where the past is less than ninety days) but you get the gist. Somewhere in the Florida Keys, Jimmy Johnson must be smoking a stogie, smiling and thinking “The young padawan has finally learned” but the reality is that Garrett’s probably three years too late with the discipline stick.

Everyone remembers the stories of Jimmy Johnson and his ginsu cutting techniques for small infractions but this move reeks of bowing to the media pressure of having to make a statement. Lately, the media have been holding the organization to task for the perception of lawlessness in the Cowboys locker room. If I had the ability to ask Jason Garrett three questions and most likely by the time this is posted they will have been asked, they would be:

  1. Does the team have a crime chart that is similar to the draft trade value chart that determines the discipline leveled to players for committing crimes or team infractions?
  2. If so, where on your crime/team infraction chart does aggravated assault w/ a deadly weapon or DUI rank compared to shoplifting and (unproven) petty larceny?
  3. Was this your decision or Jerry’s?

These questions may sound a bit facetious but they most likely have crossed through the minds of die-hard Cowboys fans who have had to put up with the memes and recent video spoofs of Jerry Jones at a press conference signing OJ Simpson. The material is actually funny but hard to stomach on a weekly basis and that’s considering the damn season hasn’t even started. Garrett seemed out of character at the press conference when he announced that the team could look at cutting Whitehead. Garrett is the master of “talking loud but saying nothing” and his stern statement surprised me and most likely won’t be the last public display of emotion we see this season. In a lot of sportswriters minds, this could be the year the Cowboys make a deep playoff run and the same pundits are even predicting a Super Bowl appearance but this team has enough questions about its roster without having to deal with players missing games due to legal problems. Whitehead’s agent has come out with proof that he wasn’t in Virginia at the time of the crime but maybe Garrett already had his mind made up and this was the tipping point.

As this continues to play out in the media, I’m sure what will be lost in the conversation is the disparity of draft positions of the two players. Damien Wilson was a fourth round pick in the 2015 draft and Whitehead was an un-drafted free agent pick-up the same year. Once the Cowboys drafted Ryan Switzer and Noah Brown there were immediate questions about Whiteheads spot on the roster. With the Cowboys jumping the gun on his release it may not have the effect that Garrett may be hoping for, especially if it’s a case of mistaken identity.

 

So Mote It Be!

Cowboys Tarnished Star

Tarnished Star?

The start of training camp is seventeen days away and the sports world is drooling at the prospect of the NFL season being around the corner. We’ve made it through the draft, OTA’s and minicamps and in seventeen days the sounds of pads colliding will start the shaping of the 2017-18 Dallas Cowboys team. Much to the chagrin of the CowboysNation.com management, I tend to go into my shell during the offseason. I’m not a big college football fan, although my favorite team is The Fighting Irish, my ADHD makes it hard to follow. In my mind it’s easier to skip the NFL Combine aka “The Underwear Olympics” and go straight to the draft which I would rate a B- due to the lack of foresight of possible future roster issues. I felt that the team was shortsighted in not addressing the linebacker room in the draft and this past Fourth of July holiday an issue arose with a player that was stamped by coaches and management to be a key contributor.

If  you’re a Cowboys fanatic like I am, I get alerts to my phone for anything Cowboys related, and I was awoken on Friday morning by an article on Yahoo Sports titled: “Wilson’s Aggravated Assault Charge Latest in Mounting Personnel Issues for Cowboys”. The article discusses the many Cowboys transgressions during the offseason from Nolan Carroll to David Irving as well as  rookie Jourdan Lewis who came to the team with a pending July trial date for domestic violence charges. To throw a dagger into my heart, Elliott’s domestic violence investigation is discussed. I’m not here to give any excuses for the behaviors of players but let’s not lump everyone’s situation into one big pot or question the teams commitment to having a drama free football team.

David Irving is suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the leagues policy on performing enhancing drugs. I understand that players should know what they put in their bodies. It’s been reported that the PED that was in his system is from a company that signed him to promote their products and I hope they reimburse him the money he’ll lose during his absence (highly unlikely). This transgression does not mean that Jason Garrett is not a  disciplinarian or that management is more concerned with talent rather than character. I’m under the belief that this is an honest mistake that the team could not control. If fans and media expect the team to monitor players lives to the point of what they put in their bodies, what has the NFL come to? I’m sure that the NFLPA has a do/don’t list of what the players can take so this falls on Irving’s shoulders and I’m sure he would say the same thing.

Nolan Carroll should have known better to drink and drive and in the world of Uber and Lyft there is no excuse. Carroll has taken personal responsibility for his actions and the league will most likely be suspending him in the near future. The team has enough cornerbacks on the roster to circumvent his loss and he might not have a big part in this season if one of the rookie cornerbacks perform during his absence. When he arrived in Dallas he was signed as a starter but his salary isn’t enormous to the point that he has to play.

The Ezekiel Elliott saga is rumored to be coming to an end in the near future. The NFL continues to do its due diligence in his case and I can see this coming to an end no later than the third preseason game of the season. In my opinion the only reason that Alfred Morris is still on the team is because of Elliott’s legal issues. In recent interviews and comments, it seems that the light bulb has finally come on and everyone can hope that the only thing Elliott will be catching is screen passes instead of cases.

All of these cases are issues that the team has addressed and I would bet a large coke slurpee that Garrett continuously preaches personal responsibility and not squandering an opportunity for one poor decision. With the recent arrest of linebacker Damien Wilson for two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon the team is taking the “gathering more information” stance and there are people that feel that Garrett should make an example of Wilson and cut him. Over the years the Cowboys have shown patience with players who step outside of the law and to be honest with you there is no need to read the list of names. The team doesn’t benefit by making decisions about the players status on the team before the court system and I’m certain the team will wait to see how it works out. I’m sure we will see Wilson at training camp and during the preseason while this plays out in the media and court. I’m not worried if Wilson can be replaced on the field because we have Anthony Hitchens, this teams Swiss army knife.

One of the reasons that I am a Jerry Jones apologist is during his ownership, he’s never turned his back on his players. Some people may feel that is because Jerry values the talent over Garrett’s RKOG (Right Kind of Guy) mantra and that might be true but at least he’s been consistent. For every Randy Gregory and Rolando McClain there is a Michael Irvin and Dez Bryant. There is also a Dimitrius Underwood and Alonzo Spellman, two players that the Cowboys gave an opportunity to get their lives together after being diagnosed with mental disorders.

As Jones gets ready to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, these stories should be told as well as how he affected the NFL with his shrewd business moves in advertising and challenging the NFL norm.

So Mote it be

Cowboys Tidbits

Cowboys Star

The closer I get to you
The more you make me see
By giving me all you got
Your love has captured me..

Yes Dallas Cowboys fans, I’m listening to “The Closer I Get To You” by Roberta Flack ft. Donny Hathaway, the rookie minicamp is upon us, the season is getting close and it’s safe to say that i’m a bit emotional.

On May 12 the Cowboys rookies and Jaylon Smith will see start the official start of the season.

I know….I know….free agency, the draft, etc…..etc…. in my eyes this could be the rebirth of the organization. Now I’m sure you’re wondering why the optimism all of sudden Big Rog Dog? You lost the heart of your defense with Barry Church leaving and Brandon Carr and his 144 consecutive games. Not to mention JJ Wilcox and Morris Claiborne left for riches and more importantly an opportunity to leave the ghosts of their draft positions and expectations behind them. If you’ve read my work in the past, you know that I have been a Wilcox fan for a while and I think that the Cowboys were impatient. I would go as far as say that he should have been resigned before Jeff Heath but we will be able to track both of their progress this year, especially now that the Cowboys are giving Heath a chance to win the starting strong safety position next to Byron Jones. Heath has shown flashes the last two seasons so I do not doubt that he can handle whatever Marinelli throws at him.

The Cowboys drafted three cornerbacks and one safety to replace our dearly departed free agents. I was mildly disappointed with the way the team drafted due to the moves they made in free agency, signing Nolan Carroll II and the sheer numbers that the team has at CB makes it hard for one of the rookies to make the team and it would be a mistake to get rid of Orlando Scandrick. In my humble opinion the team overreacted to the mass exodus and forgot about the other holes on the 2017 roster. Matter of fact, I hate to bring up old stuff but I will to prove a point. If you’ve been a Cowboys fan long enough, you remember one of the worst drafts in Cowboys history which is the 2000 NFL Draft. The team drafted Dwayne Goodrich, Kareem Larrimore and Mario Edwards and out of the three Edwards had the longest career. Goodrich’s career was cut short by an unfortunate accident, compounded by a poor decision and Larrimore only played two seasons for the team before getting cut. I understand that the organization has become better in the scouting department but I think they got greedy when they drafted Marquez White.

The reality is that the back end of the defense got young overnight, so expect growing pains. For every yen, there’s a yang and although you’re going to have growing pains, the defensive backfield will be a lot more athletic than it was last year. For all of Church’s experience and handwork, he’s not as dynamic as the young defensive backs will be. It was short-sighted to go as heavy defensively as they did considering that they passed on Jake Butt in the fourth round for Ryan Switzer. The Cowboys had a chance to have a legitimate heir to Jason Witten’s throne on the roster but decided to go for a special teams star. Unless Switzer returns at least three to four touchdowns on punt returns and replaces Lance Dunbar as the third down back in Linehan’s office I’ll be criticizing this pick for awhile. It seems that everyone is excited about Xavier Woods, the hard hitting safety from Louisiana Tech who in his college career was a turnover machine. I’m not sure that he is a better tackler than Wilcox but he’s not afraid to mix it up. With his ball skills and ability to diagnose plays, Marinelli shouldn’t have a problem playing Cover 1 when he needs to. I would be surprised if Woods earns a starting spot when the season starts but he will get more playing time during the middle of the season. We have a long way to go before this roster shapes up for the regular season but all the work starts now.

It’s about that time Cowboys fans.

So Mote It Be

Smoke & Mirrors

 

As the Cowboys coaches prepare to coach the NFC Pro Bowl team, the scouts have been at the Senior Bowl and are knee deep in preparation for the NFL Scouting Combine at the end of the month. With the way that the season ended, many people feel like the team should concentrate on the defense to ease the Aaron Rodger memories sketched in Cowboys fans brains. The reality is that the Cowboys recent history has shown that they will take gradual growth rather than risk a bad contract or over emphasize a side of the ball over best available talent. This is the moment that fans should not fall for the Smoke & Mirrors of a lost season.

As a Cowboys fan, you should know what I am talking about. If not, let’s use exhibit A, which is the 2000 draft where the team drafted four defensive players out of five draft picks. This is the draft that produced CB Dwayne Goodrich, CB Kareem Larrimore, CB Mario Edwards and LB Orantes Grant, with Edwards being the only one who had a prolonged career. I’m not here to judge a draft that is over sixteen years old but organizational trends are just that, trends, and in case you are interested the other pick was Michael Wiley from Ohio Sate who had a short-lived career in  Dallas.

As many of you know Goodrich was a CB from Tennessee drafted in the second round who made a terrible mistake in his life that derailed his career. As a fan and well as a human being it was good to see his redemption. If you’ve forgotten who the Cowboys first round pick in the 2000 draft was, it’s not your fault. In 1999 the team traded the first round pick to the Seahawks for our favorite Buckeye receiver Joey Galloway. You might have erased that part of Cowboys history from your brain due to the fact that Jerry was reaching, hoping that he could prolong Aikman’s career with a deep threat.

I could be wrong! One draft doesn’t constitute a bad trend of overreaction to a season. Exhibit B: The 2001 Draft which could go down as one of the worst drafts of Jerry Jones ownership.  The team drafted QB Quincy Carter, S Tony Dixon, DT Willie Blade, LB Markus Steele, OG Matt Lehr, DT Daleroy Stewart, DE Colston Weatherington, DT John Nix and Char-ron Dorsey. We’ve all heard the story of Quincy Carter so there is no reason to rehash it but the reality behind this draft is that Tony Dixon is the only draft pick that had something resembling a career in the NFL.

For you young Cowboys fans reading this article, who may have never heard of the aforementioned players, it could be the closest thing to translating a foreign language and the beauty behind sports is that it transcends race and religion but for us long time fans it’s a reflection of the success that the 2016-2017 Dallas Cowboys had with two rookie centerpieces, front row and centered. If you’re a fan of America’s Team and would have predicted that the Cowboys would have been 13-3 at the end of the season without Tony Romo, you should consider betting professionally at Caesars Palace.

When you are a true fan, you take the incremental growths that your organization provides so that you can see a glimpse into the future. If you haven’t been paying close enough attention to the NFL standard of organizational growth, you have to look no further than the New England Patriots. For most fans it kills them to hear that but the the reality as a NFC East resident is that Robert Kraft and Bill Belicheat has built a model organization for teams to follow. The NFL is a monkey see, monkey do business and the problem is that the viewpoint has been always about the players not the organization. The stable organizations have seen the most playoff success consistently and that’s not something that you could argue.

When the NFL Draft rolls around in April and the Cowboys are on the clock, the real fans will be hoping that the team drafts building blocks that will sustain this team over the next two to four years to keep the talent level at a high level. The organization is in good hands with Will McClay and his scouting staff that evaluates the college talent on a year to year basis. As fans, we want immediate satisfaction of playoff wins and Super Bowl champions but having a program that churns out drafted players that produce at a high level will suffice enough for me.

As the team moves into the draft and free agency part of the offseason, all that I ask is that they add the right talent to allow them to compete at a high level and sustain the talent and systems that will make the organization a perennial playoff contender because what most NFL fans have learned is that once the playoffs come, it’s open season!

So Mote It Be!

Questions and Concerns

Dez Bryant

The season is over and I have to admit that it has taken me awhile to get over the loss. There have been a lot of questions about the coaches management of the game but I for one refuse to go with that story line. Fans have talked about the discrepancy of calls against the team but you should never leave the game up to the referees. The reality is that this game was winnable but the bend but don’t break defense finally broke. I don’t want to single out the defense not because it’s not deserved but because at this point it doesn’t matter and now is the time for the staff to take a breather before moving into draft preparations. One of the things that I learned from this loss is that the NFL waits for no man or fan, so we have to move on and that’s what I am going to do.

As the offseason progresses for the team, there are many decisions that need to be made and it will be interesting to see how the Cowboys front office proceeds for the 2017-2018 season. The team has a large amount of free agents and little salary cap room so they will have to be frugal in the free agent market and have another successful draft class. There will be a large amount of holes to fill but here are the top three areas that the Cowboys will have to pay attention to when the new league season starts in March.

Cornerback: Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr will be free agents and Jerry will have to make a decision on blowing up the position with mid-level free agents and draft picks or resigning one of the above players and draft a cornerback in the first three rounds. If i had to choose, I would roll the dice on Claiborne with a two year contract for ten million with playing incentives and see if he bites because the reality is that there won’t be a lot of teams looking at the oft-injured defensive back.

Defensive End: This position will be an sore spot for the Cowboys until they invest a first round pick to Rod Marinelli’s rush-men. The team has tried to plug and play individuals who are at best rotational players. If you are depending on Jack Crawford and David Irving to be five to eight sack players, you are doomed. That is no disrespect to either player because they have bought a solid work ethic to the team but they should be fifteen to twenty  per game players not staples of the pass rush. Jerru Jones should be begging for Tank Lawrence  to have his surgery so that he can be ready for training camp. Charles Tapper is the defensive end from Oklahoma who was placed on injured reserve early in the season so there is some hope that he will be able to reverse the misfortune he had in 2016.

3. Offensive Line: It’s time for the Cowboys to make a decision on Doug Free and his five million dollar salary. To put it bluntly, Doug Free was exposed and its time to find his replacement. In previous articles I have mentioned the possibility of moving La”el Collins to Right Tackle and find another guard in the draft. It’s not like the tackle position is foreign to Collins and his athleticism would allow him to learn on the job and be highly effective. Losing Ron Leary will fetch the Cowboys a 4th rounder in compensation.

So Mote It Be!

WR’s vs DB’s – Key to #GBvsDAL Game

The Packers come into Texas with two things, a six game winning streak and a huge chip on their shoulders due to the Cowboys early season victory in Green Bay and you can bet your last dollar that they are looking forward to the opportunity to avenge the loss and knock Americas Team out of the playoffs. Jordy Nelson has been ruled out of Sundays game and i’m sure that Brandon Carr and Co. won’t be shedding any tears or feel sorry for Aaron Rodgers. The reality is that the Packers are still dangerous and have enough weapons to make this a high scoring affair. In the beginning of the season there were questions about Rodgers play and if he was starting to slip in his twelfth season due to his uneven play and poor accuracy but as history shows you can’t keep an all-pro down with Rodgers throwing forty touchdowns and only seven interceptions.

The Cowboys will finally get Morris Claiborne back after missing six games and his presence and physicality will be needed in this game. Although Nelson will miss the game, Rodgers will have Randall Cobb, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison who has come on with eight of his twelve catches at the end of the regular season. It will be interesting to see who draws the assignment of covering Adams because he has the skill set to cause this secondary issues if he gets off to quick start. Adams at 6’1 and 215 pounds has the speed to blow the top off the secondary allowing Cobb and Jared Cook to work the intermediate routes in the middle of the field. If Claiborne is truly healthy, he has the skills to rough up Adams on the line which would disrupt the timing in the Packers passing game and stop him from getting into his routes cleanly. When the defense is playing zone, it will be important for the linebackers to have the correct depth in their drops because the crossing plays that the Packers offense love to use will give Sean Lee the opportunity for an interception. Anthony Hitchens, Justin Durant and Damien Wilson will have to be strong at the point of attack on early downs when the Packers will try to run which will allow Marinelli the opportunity to play his dime defense on third downs.

If the Cowboys are going to win this game it will be on the backs of the secondary and Coach Eberflus who is the Cowboys defensive passing game coordinator/linebackers coach. I’ve mentioned in previous articles that he’s responsible for insuring that the back end of the defense is in sync. Orlando Scandrick will be just as important when Cobb lines up in the slot and i’m sure that the rest has helped him and the plethora of injuries he’s played with this season. There are questions about Anthony Brown possibly having his playing time decrease with the return of Claiborne but I do not see that happening due to the fact that he could help the team in its dime package and he’s earned the right to play with the solid season that he’s had. I’m hoping that Marinelli gives JJ Wilcox some more playing time because I believe that he gives wide receivers second and third thoughts about crossing the middle of the field due to his hitting skills.

The Cowboys will win a shoot out 28-17 where we will see Rodgers rack up 350 yards and throw for two touchdowns. Sean Lee will have an interception from a batted ball by a defensive lineman. Randall Cobb will have an 100 yard day and score a touchdown but that will not be enough for the Packers to win.

So Mote It Be!