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Spagnola: Decisions, Decisions For Cowboys


FRISCO, Texas – Strange preseason.

Cowboys go 0-4, and seemingly everyone is up in arms over not winning a preseason game, even though Dak Prescott played just 39 snaps, Tyron Smith 39 snaps, Seen Lee just 10 and Zeke 0 snaps.

And you know, if history means anything, the last time the Cowboys went 0-4 in the preseason was 2014, and what happened? They finished the regular season 12-4 and won a playoff game. Funny how this stuff works. In 2004 the Cowboys went a robust 3-1, and what happened? They went 6-10 during the regular season.

Do not put too much stock into preseason records.

Adding to the strangeness with the cuts from 90 to 53 coming Saturday are the weird decisions facing the Cowboys.

There could be an argument made to keep seven receivers, although not very likely even though that seventh guy, Lance Lenoir Jr., was one of the most productive receivers the Cowboys had through training camp and preseason.

There could be an argument made to keep four tight ends, the fourth being Rico Gathers, and as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said this morning on 105.3 The Fan, "And that will be a big decision today."

Then there is linebacker. Again, six or seven, and I can make an argument to keep seven since we've seen all but Lee out there playing special teams.

Can't keep everybody.

Move along to the defensive line. Usually it's eight. But we can make a case for nine to 10.

Then there is the headache on the offensive line. Not enough. We can make a case to keep seven, now that the Cowboys traded rookie free agent cornerback Charvarius Ward to Kansas City for versatile backup offensive lineman Parker Ehinger. That's a start. He is mostly a swing guard/tackle. Great. But that still does not address the troubling situation at backup center.

The backup center/guard position was in good hands with Joe Looney until he was forced to start with Travis Frederick in no man's land, dealing with the Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Who knows when he will return. But we do know Frederick will be on Saturday's 53-man roster and has to at least be on the 53 for 24 hours if the Cowboys have designs on placing him on IR/return. So that complicates matters.

And with making this trade for Ehinger, does that jeopardize roster spots for Cameron Fleming, Kadeem Edwards and Chaz Green? We know the Cowboys need help with their backup depth on the offensive line.

Same at safety, ah yes, safety, the most talked about position on the team. With Xavier Woods likely to miss at least the season opener at Carolina, and Kavon Frazier dealing with a dislocated shoulder, at this point if something should happen to Frazier in the opener, the next guy up is either Tyree Robinson or Jeron Johnson. Probably need to find another one there for the time being. And let's remember, Johnson has barely played any football over the past two years. Just four games, and none in 2017.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Oh, and backup quarterback, too. Now understand Cooper Rush and Mike White did not have the luxury of playing with the first-team offensive line and receivers. But neither elicited confidence they could go out and win a game if Dak should go down. So do the Cowboys need to go shopping for a backup quarterback with a little more experience?

Tough decisions for a team carrying such high aspirations for the 2018 season.

Said Jones on Friday when asked if his expectations are higher or lower heading into this season, "I think higher. We thought we could have a pretty good year last year even though we were facing Zeke not being with us early. But I think when we've had our first group out there, even without Zeke, we really have been proud of how we've gone against other team's firsts on defense. And really when I look at our defense, I have to say that this is the best I've felt about our defense in several years."

Jerry is right. Over Dak's 39 snaps the Cowboys have scored 17 points, and that's without Zeke and Cole Beasley on the field.

And the first-team defense, over the four quarters and one possession played, has not given up any points.

Things are not as bad as they appear.

Just a tad strange.