Offseason Work Wrapping Up With Minicamp (June 6)
The offseason program is almost complete.
With nine OTA (organized team activities) practices in the books, the Cowboys now turn to next week’s three-day minicamp – the final stretch before training camp this summer.
“The whole ‘iron sharpens iron,’ it’s coming alive more than ever in these OTAs,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. “Looking forward to next week and just finishing off the right way.”
Head coach Jason Garrett said the bulk of the scheme installation took place in OTAs and continues throughout minicamp and into training camp. Next week’s minicamp will have a similar structure to the OTAs. The Cowboys won’t put the pads on until they get to Oxnard in July.
“A little bit of a review, kind of go back through things in all three phases of our team,” Garrett said. “We’ll get away for a little bit and come back to training camp and do it all over again.”
Kitna’s Value To Cowboys Second-Year QB (June 3)
So much offseason focus, and rightfully so, is on the impact new quarterbacks coach Jon Kitna will have on starter Dak Prescott.
Kitna's experience extends to the Cowboys' backups, too.
A former 16-year veteran on four NFL teams, Kitna began his playing career competing for a backup job behind Warren Moon in Seattle. He knows exactly what it’s like to be one snap away from the huddle and how to prepare for that scenario.
It’s a valuable resource for second-year quarterback Mike White, a fifth-round pick by Dallas a year ago.
“Sixteen years in this league is unprecedented. There’s not a whole lot he hasn’t seen,” White said. “He’s been through it all – the highs, the lows, the good teams, the bad teams. He knows what it’s like in every situation.”
So far this spring, White has taken second-team reps behind Prescott in two open OTA practices. He’s competing with third-year pro Cooper Rush for the backup job.
A Misconception About Kris Richard’s Style (May 28)
Yes, Kris Richard sees value in having tall, rangy cornerbacks. Glance at the Cowboys’ secondary and you’ll find five corners added to the roster in the past year who stand 6-feet or taller.
But don’t think the Cowboys’ defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator is simply looking for Joel Embiid clones.
“The No. 1 thing is athleticism,” he said. “These guys, yeah, they’re long, they’re tall and they have great size, but they have the athleticism to go along with it.”
That’s what Richard sees in rookies Mike Jackson Sr. (6-1, 210) and Chris Westry (6-4, 199): the physical tools to play the position, height aside.
Westry, undrafted out of Kentucky, has 33-inch arms but also the necessary speed and quickness for coverage.
Jackson, a fifth-round pick out of Miami, has versatile “corner and nickel combo ability for us,” Richard said.
Both players will continue their adjustment to the Cowboys’ program in this second week of OTAs.
After MRI, Rookie RB Returns (May23)
Rookie Mike Weber, a seventh-round pick from Ohio State, was able to practice on Wednesday, just a couple of weeks after needing an MRI on his knee.
The running back was held out of the last two days of the rookie minicamp earlier this month. But the MRI not only showed no ligament damage, Weber has been healthy enough to get back on the field and participate in practice.
He has done work in both individual and team drills this week.
A teammate of Ezekiel Elliott at Ohio State in the 2015 season, Weber was one of two running backs drafted this year, along with Tony Pollard (Memphis) in the fourth round. Both Weber and Pollard figure to compete for the backup spot to Zeke, along with veteran Jamize Olawale and Darius Jackson.
Connor Williams Takes LT Reps (May 22)
For Connor Williams, Wednesday’s OTA practice was a flashback to his Texas Longhorn days.
With offensive tackles Tyron Smith, La’el Collins and Cameron Fleming not in 11-on-11 drills, Williams took first-team reps at left tackle for the first time since his 2017 season at Texas.
“Kind of felt like riding a bike,” Williams said. “It came back pretty quick.”
A three-year starter at left tackle in college, Williams started 10 games at left guard last season as the Cowboys’ second-round pick.
Smith, the Cowboys' Pro Bowl left tackle, was given a rest day Wednesday. Collins, the starting right tackle, is working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery. Fleming, the primary swing tackle, did not practice due to a leg contusion.
Williams' position flexibility came in handy Wednesday.
“Obviously it’s a different offense, but I think it’s clear at this level that you have to be ready to play whatever position they need you at,” he said.
Where CB Mike Jackson Draws Inspiration (May 21)
What’s the first thing that occurred to cornerback Mike Jackson Sr. when the Cowboys drafted him in the fifth round last month?
Richard Sherman, one of the greatest cornerbacks this century, also was a fifth-round pick.
Sherman became an All-Pro, and a Super Bowl champion, playing for current Cowboys defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Kris Richard in Seattle.
That fact is inspiration for Jackson as he continues his offseason training with organized team activities (OTAs) this week.
“Just come in, be a team player and follow the footsteps that Coach Richard tells me to follow,” he says.
Jaylon Smith Set To Graduate (May 16)
Jaylon Smith will hit the field running when Cowboys OTAs start next week, but first he’ll do some walking.
Specifically, he’ll be walking across the stage at Notre Dame, as the Cowboys’ linebacker is set to graduate on Saturday.
“When I left after my junior year, I promised my mom that I would go back and finish,” Smith said on Wednesday. “Finishing my third year with the Cowboys, it was time.”
Smith has earned his degree in Film & Television by completing his final 21 hours in just one semester. That’s a pretty hefty course load, as he took classes in critical pedagogy, Latino studies, Latino muralism, philosophy and human nature as well as poetry.
“You name it, I took it,” Smith said.
For a guy who has already accomplished so much, it’ll no doubt be a shining achievement.
Injury Updates On Mike Weber, Taco Charlton (May 14)
The Cowboys plan to rest rookie running back Mike Weber for the time being to alleviate soreness in his knee.
Weber underwent an MRI after limping off the field during Saturday’s morning practice at rookie minicamp. The injury did not appear serious, but he did not participate in the afternoon workout. Arthroscopic knee surgery would be an option if the knee continues to bother the seventh-round pick.
In other roster news, third-year defensive end Taco Charlton reportedly has had arthroscopic ankle surgery after having his shoulder repaired in January. Indications are he should be ready for training camp.
Donovan Wilson’s Connection To Dak (May 14)
Rookie safety Donovan Wilson is now teammates with the guy he tried to stop in college and high school: quarterback Dak Prescott.
Wilson, a three-year starter at Texas A&M, posted six tackles in a 2015 Aggies victory over Prescott and Mississippi State.
The Shreveport, Louisiana native had less success when his Woodlawn High School team faced Prescott’s crosstown powerhouse, Haughton High, his freshman year.
“He gave us problems,” Wilson said. “He was just so much bigger and faster than everybody. It was a challenge.”
Wilson, a sixth-round pick, will compete for a strong safety spot this spring and summer.
Cowboys Losing 65 Years of Scouting Experience
(May 13, 10:57 a.m.) – The Cowboys’ personnel department is seeing its biggest shakeup in some time.
In the weeks since the draft, three longtime staffers have all departed the team’s scouting department. This is fairly common, as scouting contracts typically expire following the draft. It still leaves the Cowboys without a combined 65 years of experience.
The latest departure is Walter Juliff, who has served in the Cowboys’ scouting department for 31 years. Juliff is leaving Dallas to join the Oakland Raiders along with fellow departure Jim Abrams, who scouted for the Cowboys for seven years.
The Cowboys are also losing longtime personnel executive Tom Ciskowski, who is heading into retirement. Ciskowski joined the team as a scout in 1992 and has handled a multitude of roles in the 27 years since. Ciskowski ran the Cowboys’ scouting department from 2008 to 2013, helping the team land talents like Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick.
It remains to be seen how the Cowboys will address these losses, but they factor as big changes to a staff that has developed into one of the best in the NFL over the last five years.
MRI For Rookie RB Weber (May 11)
Rookie running back Mike Weber will have his knee re-evaluated after hurting it in Saturday morning’s jog-through minicamp practice. He did not participate in the afternoon practice.
“They’re going to get an MRI and just kind of check it out,” head coach Jason Garrett said.
The seventh-round pick did jog back onto the field to rejoin his teammates late in the morning workout.
Weber, one of two running backs in this year's draft class along with fourth-round pick Tony Pollard, has a chance to compete for the backup spot to Ezekiel Elliott, who was Weber's college teammate for one season at Ohio State.
Parker Ehinger, Aziz Shittu Released (April 10)
The Cowboys made two roster moves Wednesday, as they released guard Parker Ehinger and defensive tackle Aziz Shittu from the roster.
Ehinger came to the team last August in a trade with Kansas City. After learning of Travis Frederick’s diagnosis of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, the Cowboys sent rookie cornerback Charvarius Ward to the Chiefs in exchange for the veteran guard.
Unfortunately, Ehinger suffered a season-ending knee injury during one of his first practices with the team and was sent to injured reserve.
Ehinger could have provided valuable depth in 2018. But with Frederick expected back in the lineup in 2019, the Cowboys have plenty of options between Frederick, Zack Martin, Connor Williams, Joe Looney and Xavier Su’a-Filo.
Cowboys Continue Draft Prep At “Dallas Day” (April 5)
Pre-draft evaluations continued Friday at the Cowboys’ annual “Dallas Day” visits with invited prospects who have local high school or college ties.
Reported invites included TCU standouts Ben Banogu and L.J. Collier and SMU defensive back Jordan Wyatt. Former Dallas Day visitors who were drafted or signed by the Cowboys include guard Connor Williams, wide receiver Cole Beasley (Bills) and wide receiver Patrick Crayton (now retired).
The Cowboys also began holding their 30 allotted national pre-draft visits this week.
Cowboys Sign Second Punter (April 5)
The Cowboys signed punter Kasey Redfern on Friday.
Redfern presumably will add depth in the offseason and training camp behind incumbent Chris Jones, the Cowboys’ full-time punter since 2013.
Redfern has been in NFL training camps since 2014 and made one regular-season appearance with the Detroit Lions in 2017.
Key Offseason Dates Announced (April 3)
The outline for the Cowboys’ offseason work is set.
The voluntary offseason workout program, a nine-week program that will conclude in mid-June with a mandatory three-day minicamp, begins in mid-April. Per NFL rules, the first two weeks of the program are limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehab.
Teams who changed head coaches this offseason were permitted to start offseason workouts this week. The Cowboys get started April 15.
The program is voluntary, but the Cowboys usually have close to full participation.
First Day: April 15
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 21-23, May 28-30, June 3-6
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13
Jones Excited About Cooper’s 2019 Role (March 22)
Amari Cooper’s impact on the Cowboys last season was well documented – and significant.
In the nine games after Dallas dealt their first-round pick to Oakland for Cooper, the Pro Bowl wideout piled up 53 catches and 6 touchdowns in 9 games and the Cowboys went 7-2 to clinch the NFC East.
But Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones believes there’s more in store for Cooper on offense next season.
“Our coaches have had a chance to sit back and see what he can do, how he can improve in many areas of his game, because he’s going to be multifaceted for us,” Jones said earlier this month at the NFL Scouting Combine. “He can have a lot of position flex for us. There are some things that he does, his ability to run routes, his ability to get out of routes, his size, his difficulty in bringing down.
“That anticipation of how he’s going to fit in in the future really keeps me excited and doesn’t make me miss that No. 1 pick.”
This week the Cowboys have tweaked their receiver rotation by signing Randall Cobb, yet another slot option, as a replacement for free-agent departure Cole Beasley.
Cooper is signed through 2019 and the Cowboys have every intention of extending him long term.
Jerry Jones To Present Gil Brandt At HOF (Feb. 27)
One month after being voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Gil Brandt has decided who will present him.
The Cowboys’ former longtime personnel executive announced his presenter Wednesday morning, opting for none other than team owner/general manager Jerry Jones.
Brandt confirmed the news himself as only he could, quipping that he had chosen the man who once fired him."Through my three decades with the Cowboys, we aspired to be forward-thinking, innovative and successful on and off the field. Jerry has honored that foundation in a way that displays great respect for what we were all about" Brandt told NFL.com. "He continues to carry the torch, not just for the franchise, but also for the NFL on so many levels. To me, we are very similar with regard to our passion for this team, and this league, as it relates to the past, the present and the future.”
This will be the fourth time Jones has been asked to present a Dallas Cowboys in Canton. He also presented Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Larry Allen.
Brandt will become the 17th member of the Cowboys organization to join the Hall of Fame. In November, Jones made him the 22nd member of the team’s Ring of Honor.
Cowboys Sign WR Reggie Davis (Feb. 7)
The Cowboys have signed Reggie Davis, a first-year wide receiver who spent the final two months of the season on their practice squad.
Undrafted out of Georgia in 2017, Davis has spent time on practice squads in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Cleveland.
Davis (5-11, 170) played four years for the Bulldogs at receiver and returner, taking one punt return back for a touchdown as a junior.
Staubach Backs Dak (Feb. 2)
No one knows the pressures of leading America’s Team more than Roger Staubach.
Visiting with 105.3 The Fan from the Super Bowl, the Hall of Famer said he anticipates Pro Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott getting better with more experience.
“I’m a little disappointed that people don’t see the whole Dak,” Staubach said, citing Prescott’s toughness and leadership, and pointing out that even all-time greats such as New England’s Tom Brady had to grow into the job.
“And the other thing is, his teammates really respect him,” Staubach continued. “You have to have confidence in yourself but you’ve got to transfer that to your teammates. And everything that I see when I see these guys interviewed, they respect Dak. And doesn’t blame anybody, he doesn’t complain.
“I think he’s really a good football player and he’s going to continue to, with the team getting stronger, continue to be a great quarterback.”
“Consistent Lineup” Helped Dak In 2018 (Jan. 31)
It’s no secret the Cowboys’ passing game production picked up after the bye-week trade for Amari Cooper. Dak Prescott’s numbers pre- and post-trade are proof: 8 passing touchdowns and 62.1 completion percentage in the first seven games; 16 passing touchdowns and 70.1 completion percentage in the final 11 games (plus playoffs) with Cooper.
But Prescott said the development of a consistent receiver rotation also helped him as the season went along. Prior to the trade for Cooper, five different receivers had at least 100 offensive snaps in the first seven games as the Cowboys tried to build an effective receiver committee to replace Dez Bryant.
“Guys were doing well. I just, honestly I wasn’t comfortable,” Prescott said. “It wasn’t the same guys at the same positions, as much as it was anything. You look out there and it’s a different X than it was a play ago, it’s a different Z than it was a play ago. I think what that did is it created a little bit of uncertainty for me. More so than it was getting the No. 1, it was just getting a consistent lineup and group across the board.
“But when you have a guy like Amari and his ability to get open, the way that he studies and prepares the game, it’s second to none. That’s what makes him a No. 1 receiver.”
Rosenhaus Excited About “Very Talented” DT
The Cowboys will most likely be dealing with several NFL agents this summer with more than a handful of key players getting to the end or nearing the end of their contracts.
But one of the more prominent agents in the NFL does have a client with the Cowboys but isn’t expecting to be negotiating a new deal – at least not yet.
Drew Rosenhaus recently added defensive tackle Antwaun Woods this past season and is happy to have No. 99 on his team.
“Yeah he’s a very talented defensive lineman,” Rosenhaus said of Woods. “We’re excited to represent him. I’ve heard a lot of good things from the coaches and the organization that he’s got a bright future.”
Woods had surgery two weeks ago to repair a torn labrum on his shoulder that he sustained in the playoff loss to the Rams.
“Thankfully, the shoulder should be fine. He’ll be ready to go for training camp,” said Rosenhaus, who seems to love Woods’ approach. “He’s a very humble guy. I talked to (Titans DT) Jurrell Casey, who was his teammate at Tennessee. He was very fond of him. He’s a real winner on and off the field. Real excited to have him in our family.”
Woods was one of the Cowboys’ biggest surprises in 2018, going from a rather unknown tackle trying to make the team, to starting 15 games. He led all defensive tackles on the team with 34 tackles. Woods will be an exclusive rights free agent in 2020 and will be restricted in 2021.
Rosenhaus, who was watching some of his clients this past week at the Pro Bowl in Orlando, currently represents over 80 NFL players, including Antonio Brown, Tyreek Hill and Rob Gronkowski and has had Hall of Famers such as Terrell Owens and Warren Sapp.
Surgery For Taco Charlton (Jan. 24)
Defensive end Taco Charlton reportedly had surgery to repair the shoulder injury that sidelined him for three November games this past season.
Charlton appeared in 11 games (seven starts) in his second NFL season, posting 27 tackles (13 solo) and one sack as part of the defensive line rotation.
Beasley Clarifies Comments On Role (Jan. 23)
Wide receiver Cole Beasley tweeted out a clarification to comments he made Tuesday about his role in the Cowboys’ offense.
The explanation provided context to Beasley's tweet from Tuesday: “Honestly, the front office pushes who they want to get the ball to. I haven’t been a huge priority in that regard. Maybe that will change but I’m not sure. More balls come my way in 2 minute drill where nothing is planned.”
As a guest Wednesday on the Rich Eisen Show, Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones was asked about Beasley’s original comments.
“I would hope that’s just his frustration but certainly not at all the case,” Jones said. “We don’t get involved in that.
“He’s been just an integral part of what we’re about. Certainly he’s made a lot of big catches and key catches in games that we’ve won and had success with.”
Beasley also emphasized Tuesday that he wasn’t ruling out a return to the Cowboys:
Beasley has been a reliable option for Dak Prescott since the Cowboys’ starting quarterback entered the league in 2016. This season he ranked second on the team with 65 catches for 672 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was targeted 87 times, including 16 in the final two minutes of the first and second halves, according to Pro Football Reference -- though naturally the passing game dynamic changed once the Cowboys traded for Pro Bowl receiver Amari Cooper at midseason.
No First-Rounder? No Problem (Jan. 22)
Draft evaluations continue this week at the Senior Bowl – a showcase of the top senior prospects – but the Cowboys are in a unique position this year without a first-round pick.
Not that the club is complaining. Amari Cooper is headed to the Pro Bowl this week after completing a 1,000-yard season with the Cowboys. His new team is quite pleased with the decision to trade its first-rounder to Oakland for the 24-year-old receiver back in October.
“We’ve got one,” chief operating officer Stephen Jones said. “It’s Amari Cooper.”
-David Helman and Rob Phillips
Jerry Jones Updates OC Search (Jan. 22)
Speaking from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones discussed a number of topics regarding the coaching staff. Some highlights:
- It’s been four days since the Cowboys parted ways with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, but Jones said the club is currently in the “throws of evaluation” and “in no hurry” to name a replacement at the moment.
- Asked specifically about outside candidates for offensive coordinator, Jones said, “I like the guys we’ve got in house.” Quarterbacks coach Kellen Moore and tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier have been rumored as possible candidates to help with the play-calling.
- Asked about head coach Jason Garrett’s involvement on offense with an eventual new offensive coordinator, Jones said, “It could be more or less.”
- Asked how much he values quarterback Dak Prescott’s input in the decision-making process for a new offensive coordinator, Jones said, “Significantly.”
- Jones confirmed that the Cowboys have secured a commitment from former quarterback Jon Kitna to join the staff, but it doesn’t sound like the club has fully defined his role. Earlier this year, Kitna was hired as offensive coordinator for the San Diego Fleet in the Alliance of American Football.
-David Helman and Rob Phillips
Beasley Opens Up About Free Agency, Role (Jan. 22)
Cole Beasley is set to be a free agent in March, but the veteran receiver isn’t ruling out a return to Dallas.
Beasley discussed his future with fans Tuesday via Twitter, indicating that his role in the offense will have an impact on his decision.
“Utilization is more important than money,” he tweeted.
“Doesn’t mean I’m gone," he continued. "I’ll play anywhere where I can make more of an impact. I would love for that to be Dallas or anywhere else that will give me more pops to make an impact.”
Beasley has been a reliable option for quarterback Dak Prescott, working mostly from the slot. This season he ranked second on the team with 65 catches for 672 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Cowboys Sign Former 2nd-Round Pick (Jan. 18)
On a day of changes, the Cowboys made a noteworthy addition to their roster.
The team signed Devin Smith, a former second-round draft pick with the New York Jets, to a reserve/futures contract on Friday.
Smith was drafted No. 37 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft after emerging as a big-play threat at Ohio State. He averaged 28 yards per catch and scored 12 touchdowns during his final college season, and his 4.43 time in the 40-yard dash secured his status as one of the top receivers in that year’s class.
Injuries limited him from ever tapping that potential in New York, though. He tore his ACL in December of his rookie season, and he didn’t return to the Jets’ active roster until November of the next year. In the spring of 2017, the Jets revealed that Smith had torn the same ACL again, which landed him on injured reserve for the entirety of that season. He was released prior to the Jets’ 2018 training camp.
All told, Smith finished his Jets career with just 10 receptions, and he hasn’t played an NFL game since 2016. But as a low-risk, high-reward signing, it’s definitely an intriguing addition for the Cowboys.
Missing the Pro Bowl
For the first time in six years, it appears the Cowboys will not have an offensive lineman in the Pro Bowl. Obviously, both Tyron Smith and Zack Martin were named to the Pro Bowl last month, but because of nagging injuries, the two star linemen have elected to miss the game.
Smith has been selected to the Pro Bowl six straight years from 2013-18 and Martin has made it the last five years.
Smith missed three games this season for various injuries while Martin sat out the first two games of his career because of a knee injury. Both of them were able to play in both playoff games.
Currently, the Cowboys still have four players heading to Orlando along with the entire coaching staff. DeMarcus Lawrence, Ezekiel Elliott, Byron Jones and Leighton Vander Esch are still expected to play in the Jan. 27 game.
*Stephen Jones: ‘Busy Offseason’ Ahead
The Cowboys don’t have an overwhelming number of free-agents-to-be on their roster this year – Pro Bowl pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence tops the list – but there’s a lot of potential business items for the front office to discuss.
“We've got a lot of work to do in this offseason,” Cowboys Chief Operating Officer Stephen Jones said this week on 105.3 The Fan. “So, it will be a busy one."
Continuing their philosophy in recent years, Jones doesn’t expect the Cowboys to be major players for outside free agents. They’ll focus on re-signing their own players, and it’s worth noting that other key contributors are entering the final year of their current deals in 2019, including quarterback Dak Prescott. The timing there remains to be seen, of course.
“I think you can use (free agency) for depth and where to fill in, but I don't think we make our living out here paying big money for free agents,” Jones said. “Don't see that being the case, especially since we've got some really, really good football players on our team that need to be paid.
“Obviously we don’t have our one (first-round pick). We've got (wide receiver) Amari (Cooper). He'll be another one that's in discussion for a long-term contract. We’ve got to draft well with the picks we’ve got and hopefully sign the players that we have and let these young players take the next step."
LVE Just 11th Rookie Pro Bowler
When Leighton Vander Esch got added to the Pro Bowl earlier this week, it got us thinking just how many defensive rookies have made it for the Cowboys. The answer is just three now, with LVE becoming the first rookie linebacker as he joins only Mel Renfro (1964) and Everson Walls (1981).
But what about overall rookies? In the 59 seasons of Cowboys football, only 10 rookies had ever made it to the Pro Bowl, including three in the past four years. Both Dak and Zeke made it in 2016 and Zack Martin was a Pro Bowler as a rookie, and has been ever since.
Still, it’s pretty rare for a Cowboys player to make the Pro Bowl as a rookie and Vander Esch finds himself in pretty elite company.
1961 – Don Perkins, RB
1964 – Mel Renfro, CB
1965 – Bob Hayes, WR
1969 – Calvin Hill, RB
1981 – Everson Walls, CB
1990 – Emmitt Smith, RB
2007 – Nick Folk, K
2014 – Zack Martin, G
2016 – Dak Prescott, QB
2016 – Ezekiel Elliott, RB
2018 – Leighton Vander Esch, LB
Of the other 10, two are in the Hall of Fame and three are in the Cowboys Ring of Honor.
Vote For Zeke
To no surprise, Ezekiel Elliott is one of the finalists for the FedEx Air & Ground Player of the Year Award. Elliott, who led the NFL in rushing with 1,434 yards, will need the fans to vote for him, especially considering the candidates he’s facing the Rams’ Todd Gurley and New York Giants rookie Saquan Barkley.
Gurley won the weekly FedEx award back in Week 6 and Barkley did in Week 11. Zeke was nominated a couple of times but never won the fans vote.
On the passing side of the award, the nominees are Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes and Philip Rivers.
To vote for Zeke, click here:
“Bad Day To Have A Bad Day”
The Cowboys’ defense was a major strength of the team all season, but as Cowboys owner/general manager reflected this week on 105.3 The Fan, “we picked a bad day to have a bad day” in last Saturday’s divisional-round loss to the Rams.
Dallas ranked fifth against the run during the regular season, allowing 94.6 yards per game, but the Rams piled up 273 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Jones said the slippery field in L.A. might have been a factor, but overall they just couldn’t find any traction – figuratively – against the Rams’ attack.
“We had a combination of players that just didn't have their best game,” Jones said. “They did some things in there that weren't confusing, but just were debilitating to us relative to the way we play. We were, some of our guys were getting backed up in lanes that other guys were trying to rush in and we just had a bad day overall."
Jason Garrett had a few answers on some questions he was asked on Monday. He sidestepped a few others.
And some of them, such as his contract, he was rather short.
When asked if he had discussions with owner Jerry Jones about a possible contract extension, the head coach firmly said “No.”
And that was it. Garrett didn’t offer any substance to the topic. The Cowboys’ head coach has one more season remaining on his contract that expires after the 2019 season.
Comparing Dak to Brees/Brady
Garrett had all the positive answers when asked in general to assess his quarterback Dak Prescott, citing his toughness both physically and mentally and his leadership.
He was then asked about the areas his quarterback needs to improve.
“I think every aspect of his game,” Garrett said. “That comes from playing and learning from your experiences. You look at two of the guys who are playing this weekend, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, that’s what they do. Now they’ve been doing it for a long, long time. Over the course of their career, I think they developed that. They’re both smart guys. They both love football. And they grew with the experiences they had. And we feel like Dak has some of the same qualities of those guys in terms of how much he loves it, how smart he is. He’ll learn and benefit from his experiences as well.”
Garrett made it clear that there haven’t been many discussions about the roster, especially in the upcoming free agents such as DeMarcus Lawrence, who played this season on the franchise tag.
“But he’s certainly as big a priority as there is,” Garrett said. “He’s been such a great player for us and continues to get better and better. Talk about a guy who takes the right approach to the game and wants to be a great player and wants his unit and our team to be great. He had a fantastic year last year. Again, he was put in that situation with the franchise tag, but he embraced every moment of it. He was involved in everything we did. He’s really embraced the role of being a leader on this football team, beyond just his production.
While he probably won’t be heavily involved in the negotiations of a potential contract for Ezekiel Elliott, Garrett definitely has an opinion. And it’s not a surprising one.
“Again, I don't want to talk about any specific contracts, but suffice to say I love Ezekiel Elliott,” Garrett said. “And I think everybody that is connected to the Cowboys knows the impact he's made on our team, and he's a hell of a football player and he represents everything that we want in our guys. He loves the game. He plays the game at a very high level. So, he's had a huge impact on our team over the course of his first three years here."
Explanation Of ‘In The Grasp’ Sack vs. Dak
A key moment in Saturday’s 30-22 loss came late in second quarter, when the officials ruled that Dak Prescott was sacked on third down even though no Rams defender actually brought him to the ground.
Rams pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr. had a hand around Prescott’s neck as he bumped into right tackle La’el Collins and the play was whistled over. Trailing 20-7, the Cowboys were forced to punt after driving inside the Rams’ 40-yard line.
According to a pool report by the L.A. Times’ Sam Farmer, referee John Parry said, “From my view the quarterback’s progress had stopped moving forward. There were hands around him and another defender was coming, so we went in the grasp to protect the quarterback.”
Asked if Prescott’s progress was stopped, Parry said, “He was no longer moving forward.”
The ‘in the grasp’ call “is designed to protect the quarterback,” Parry said.
Richard Not Pondering Future
A week ago, Cowboys defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Kris Richard interviewed for head coaching vacancies with the Bucs, Jets and Dolphins. The Bucs (Bruce Arians) and Jets (Adam Gase) have since made other hires, however, and the Dolphins are reportedly looking to hire Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores.
Richard, when asked if he was pondering his future immediately after Saturday’s playoff loss to L.A., said his focus is on the Cowboys.
“It’s always going to be where I am, about this team, about the men,” Richard said. “The sole mission is to build men and make sure that they have something when they’re done with this game.”
“Why would I retire?”
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli had no issues answering questions about their run-defense problems. He didn’t appreciate getting asked about his future or to comment about a report stating he wouldn’t be the defensive coordinator in 2019.
“Why would I do that,” Marinelli said of retiring. “Why do people keep asking me that? I would tell you. You ever see me come out and not be energized and ready? So why ask me that? I’m tired of answering that. What kind of question is that after a game? Ask me about run defense, I’ll give you anything you want.”
Marinelli, who turns 70 in July, said he had not heard anything that suggested he wouldn’t be back as the DC or that Kris Richard would take over for 2019.
Get Off The Field
What a difference a week makes. Against Russell Wilson and Seattle last Saturday in the Wild Card Round, the Cowboys defense had three straight 3-and-outs to start the game.
Against the Rams, they never had one, allowing at least one first down in every Los Angeles offensive series.
The Rams only punted once in the game, but even that possession saw five plays.
On the other side, the Cowboys had three different three-and-out series that ended in punts.
Back to Orlando?
Saturday’s loss now opens the door for the coaching staff to coach the NFC once again in this year’s Pro Bowl.
If the Saints, the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, defeat Philadelphia on Sunday, Jason Garrett and his staff will be the coaches for the NFC for the third time in five seasons.
NFL rules state that the highest-seeded team that loses in the divisional round will coach the Pro Bowl. If the No. 6 seeded Eagles lose, it would make Dallas (fourth seed) the highest seed to lose.
Should Philly win, it would send Sean Payton and his Saints’ staff off to Orlando.
Gallup’s Rookie Record
Michael Gallup finished with 119 receiving yards in the game, which set a new Cowboys record for the most receiving yards by a rookie in a postseason contest, shattering the previous mark of 88 yards set by Alvin Harper in the 1991 wild-card win over Chicago.
Gallup also became only the 21st rookie in NFL history to earn at least 100 receiving yards in a playoff game. His total of 119 ranks eighth all-time in league postseason record books for a rookie.
LA’s Rare Double-Trouble
The 273 rushing yards allowed marked the most ever given up by the Cowboys in a playoff game and the seventh highest total given up by the Cowboys in any game, regular season or playoffs. With C.J. Anderson rushing for 123 yards and Todd Gurley going for 115, this marked only the second time in Cowboys history that the team allowed two 100-yard rushers in the same game. The first came on Dec. 20, 2008 against Baltimore, the final contest played at Texas Stadium. Le’Ron McClain rushed for 139 in that one with Willis McGahee totaling 108.
By not committing a turnover, it marked the Cowboys’ first postseason game without a turnover since Super Bowl XXX against Pittsburgh. However, unlike that win over the Steelers, which saw the Cowboys record a pair of second-half interceptions, the Cowboys did not get any turnovers from its own defense.