Category Archives: Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys started camp in Oxnard California this week, and this figures to be a big camp for the defense with the switch from a 3-4 to a traditional 4-3 defense. The Cowboys will now use 4 down linemen, hoping to keep blockers away from linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter. Sounds like a great plan, but there is only 1 problem. The Cowboys defensive linemen can’t stay on the field.
Anthony Spencer might need surgery on his knee, which hurts since Spencer was penciled in as the starter. Spencer’s top back up and possible depth chart buster Tyrone Crawford tore his Achilles and is out for the season. Starting defensive tackle Jay Ratliff isn’t practicing due to a strained hamstring, and his top back up Josh Brent “retired” due to legal issues.
Second year defensive end Kyle Wilber is taking snaps with the 1st team defense, and will probably play every preseason game with the 1st team D. Wilber was drafted to be an outside rush linebacker in a 3-4, but in this new defense will be asked to be a hands down rush defensive end. DeMarcus Ware is also making this transition, but with the recent rash of injuries Jerry Jones is considering wrapping Ware up in bubble wrap for the remainder of camp.
Injuries have seemed to plague the Cowboys in the Romo era, and it looks like the nightmare continues in 2013.
Doug Free, the highest paid right tackle in football, has agreed to a pay cut to stay with the team. Doug Free is taking a 50% pay cut, but in all honestly as long as he’s still the right tackle of the Dallas Cowboys, the offseason was a failure. Now if it turns out the the Cowboys sign another tackle this week and free is just insurance, I will take this story down. But as of now it looks like Doug Free will once again be getting beat every sunday. Tony Romo was seen already running for his life at a local golf course in Dallas.
With Doug Free still starting, I will officially declare the offseason a bust. The biggest problem America’s team has had is the offensive line. The offensive line has never been a strength during the Tony Romo era, but this past season it was downright bad. I can honestly say that Texas A&M had a better offensive line, and in 5 years will probably have more NFL starters. Once Romo was given the big contract, I fully expected Jerry Jones to fix this problem. Last offseason, the big hole on the team was the secondary. Jerry Jones did a rare great job as GM, and addressed the problem by signing Brandon Carr, and trading up to draft Mo Claiborne. The jury is still out on Claiborne, but at least Jerry addressed the big need at the time. Yes, the Cowboys did use their 1st round pick on Center Travis Frederick, who will start day 1. But 1 player on a horrible line doesn’t really solve much, certainly not enough for Romo to be protected and the running game to have some life.
The Cowboys are expecting Phil Costa to return, so in a way the Cowboys are adding two new starting interior linemen to the team. But anybody that watched the Cowboys last year knows that Doug Free is a huge problem, and the fact that he’s still starting means the problem is still there. Time will tell what the Cowboys do with the money saved by Free’s paycut, and again if they go out and sign someone like Eric Winston to compete with Free, then I take this entire article back. But if Free is starting against the Giants opening night, look for Justin Tuck to be chasing Tony Romo worse than Jessica Simpson did.
The Dallas Cowboys entered the 2013 NFL draft with many needs, especially with the defense switching to a 4-3. This year’s draft didn’t have much top end talent, but was a very deep draft with some gems in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Many are of course bashing Jerry Jones, but in all honesty we won’t really know if this draft was a bust or the reason the boys are back until at least half way through next season. Lets break down each round, and try to figure out what’s going on in America’s teams war room.
All of the Cowboys 1st round targets were drafted well before the Cowboys were on the clock at 18, so they did the smart thing and traded back. The niners gave the Cowboys a 3rd round pick to swap 1st rounders, and this is where the Jerry Jones bashing began. Trading back is never sexy, but in this case was the right move. The perception going into the draft was the Cowboys wanted and needed a defensive tackle early in this draft, since they’re switching to a 4-3 defense. I was in the minority in thinking the boys needed a top flight DT, and apparently the Cowboys feel the same. The Cowboys did draft for need in the 1st round, and many feel they reached by picking Travis Frederick. Frederick is a very intelligent, tough center out of Wisconsin. Wisconsin is a down hill running team, perfect for what the boys will want to do with Demarco Murray. His intelligence will help the offensive line be in the right position to pick up the blitz, something Romo has to do himself right now. Was it too soon to draft him, maybe, but if they like him, and he can bring some leadership and stability to the offensive line, then I like it.
The 2nd round was the biggest head scratcher, taking yet another Tight End in the 2nd round. I felt going in that the Cowboys needed to draft all starters from rounds 1-3, and with Jason Witten playing at a hall of fame level its clear that Gavin Escobar will not start over Witten. BUT, if the Cowboys adopt the Patriots successful two TE set, this pick makes sense. I like backup TE James Hanna, he has ridiculous speed for a tight end. If the boys run a two TE set, having Witten, Hanna, and now an athletic freak like Escobar gives the boys some real good weapons for the two TE set. Also, two Tight Ends on the field means another blocker for the Cowboys horrible run game. If we don’t run a lot of two TE sets, then this pick was horrible, since the Cowboys could’ve really beefed up the horrible o-line with this pick.
With the trade in the 1st round, the Cowboys ended up with two 3rd round picks. They used the first one on Baylor Wide Receiver Terrance Williams. Williams, for my money, is the best WR in this draft. Williams is a down the field threat, and will be a serious nightmare opposite Dez Bryant for opposing teams. This pick allows Miles Austin to play in the slot, which is his strength. And long term, the writing is on the wall for Miles Austin. If Williams becomes as good as I think he will, look for Miles to be cut next season. The boys now have the weapons to use a solid two TE set, or a very strong 3 wide receiver set. The 2nd pick in the round addressed the only huge hole on defense, the Safety position. Cowboys drafted JJ Wilcox, a physical safety who might end up the 2nd best safety in this draft after Vaccaro. Wilcox has all the physical tools, just didn’t have a great DB coach like Vaccaro did in college. Wilcox will compete right away for a starting spot in Kiffin’s tampa 2 scheme.
The 4th round pick was a strictly depth pick, CB B.W. Webb. With Mike Jenkins gone, the Cowboys get very thin at CB after Carr, Claiborne, and Scandrick. In today’s NFL, you need depth at CB with all the pass happy teams. Webb is also a very good punt returner, something the Cowboys lack outside of Dez. If Webb develops well, look for Scandrick to be gone.
5th round pick, Okie State running back Joseph Randle will be asked to back up and share carries with starter Demarco Murray. Murray is injury prone, so Randle might become an even more important pick than the rest of this draft. Randle is a solid #2 back, and the Cowboys should get credit for finding real value this late in the draft. Randle is a solid pass blocker, and a very good receiver out of the backfield, so look for Randle to be the 3rd down back of this team. Again, I can’t stress enough how much value the Boys just found in round 5.
With the last pick of the Cowboys draft, the Cowboys drafted Linebacker Devonte Holloman, out of South Carolina. Holloman adds depth to the linebacker core, depth needed now that the Cowboys are back to a 4-3 defense. Holloman played safety in college for awhile, so his coverage skills in the zone might give him a huge advantage. He’s projected as a strongside linebacker, meaning he will have every opportunity to start alongside Sean Lee and Bruce Carter. At the very least, he should contribute on special teams, and again add depth.
Overall this draft could make or break the Cowboys long term. If Frederick becomes a real anchor on the line, Tony Romo might not be running for his life. For now, I grade this draft a C+. I grade it low now, because the Boys had a chance to draft at least 1 more offensive line starter in rounds 2 and 3, and because they reached in round 1. The gems of this draft are Terrance Williams and Joseph Randle, both will be big playmakers this year. Two huge factors will decide if this draft grade moves up to a solid B, or falls all the way to an F. 1, if the Cowboys seriously run a lot of two TE sets, and Escobar becomes a legit threat on the field, then this will push this draft grade up. You have to draft a starter in Round 2, especially since the Cowboys didn’t have a 2nd round pick last year. If Escobar is nothing more than another back up TE, then this draft is a bust. 2, JJ Wilcox has to start day 1 If the boys drafted a starting safety in round 3, then this can be seen as a success. Fredrick will start, Escobar might play a lot. and Terrance Williams will contribute day 1. But if Wilcox is nothing more than a special teams player, i’d have to drop the draft grade down. We will know more about this draft in August, but for now i’ll stick with my C+, with room to go up or down.
The two head writers for Texas Sports Junkie will try and predict the needs and picks of the two Texas teams. Today they address round 1, which is tonight on ESPN.
For me, the dream scenario for America’s team would be if Texas Safety Kenny Vaccaro fell to them. Running Monte Kiffin’s Tampa 2 requires good Safety play, something the Cowboys haven’t had since Darren Woodson was wearing the star on his helmet. Unfortunately, Vaccaro’s stock has risen too much, and will be long gone. Therefore, the Cowboys will draft
Chance Warmack OG Alabama- Warmack helps the horrible offensive line, pairing him on the left side with Tyron Smith actually gives the Cowboys a strong side of the line.
Kenny Vaccaro Safety Texas
The Cowboys have needs at safety, offensive line and defensive line but if Vaccaro is there I have them taking him. Vaccaro’s good size, strength and versatility is exactly what Kiffin will need in the back of his Tampa 2 defense. If St. Louis (16th pick) selects Vaccaro then the ‘Boys take a defensive tackle (Richardson – Mizz or Williams – NC). If they are gone then they sure up the offensive line and select DJ Fluker (OT – Alabama) or Jonathan Cooper (OG – North Carolina).