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Mailbag: Surprise Starter? Sacks Vs. TFLs?


I know the Cowboys are high on a few of the UDFA players. Do you see any of them possibly starting this season? –JOHNNY P. / FAYETTEVILLE, NC

David: It just happened with Terence Steele two years ago, so I guess you should never say never. I think that'd be pretty surprising, though – unless someone gets hurt, which is what opened the door for Steele. He's not a rookie, but I do wonder if Sean McKeon could possibly win the backup tight end job this year. The coaching staff likes him, and he's go the benefit of two years' experience over Jake Ferguson. That wouldn't shock me.

Nick: Let me be start by saying that I never ever saw Tony Romo being the franchise quarterback of this team – when he was a rookie or even a few years after that. So it's really hard to say that kind of stuff right now because they would've been drafted if you saw something from his college games. Now, for fun we can speculate. I doubt you're counting Garibay as the kicker. So maybe someone like Markquese Bell can start at safety. Who knows, Alec Lindstrom could fight for a spot at center. But right now, that's all I could come up with and even those are a stretch.

I've depleted my reservoir for arguing with my friends. For the life of me, I can't figure out why tackles for losses (TFL's) don't carry anywhere near the same weight as sacks do. So, I've decided to appeal to the brain trust. Please shed light on this for me. – KEITH H. / LEWISTON, ID

David: I think it's mainly the impact that sacks can make on the passing game. A sack wipes out the potential of a big play downfield – which, as we all know, can have a drastic swing on your chances to win or lose a game. Limiting the passing game, with the way the game is skewed in favor of quarterbacks, is absolutely crucial. I do agree with you that TFLs are undervalued in general. But what's more valuable: preventing a running back from gaining six yards by tackling him in the backfield, or preventing a 32-yard completion by sacking the quarterback?

Nick: I mean, you're on to something. Tackles in the backfield are still tackles in the backfield. So I get the logic here. My only thought is that maybe sacks are considered bigger because of what they prevent. I'm sure if you asked a special teams coach to rank the "blocks" in order of preference. He'd probably say blocked punt, then blocked field goal and then blocked extra point, based off what they mean regarding creating and/or preventing scoring opportunities. But yes, they are still big plays and we should give them more credit.

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