Jerry & Stephen Can’t Afford to Draft “Best Available” This Time

Dumb & Dumber

Dumb & Dumber

Jerry & Stephen

Jerry & Stephen

Jerry and Stephen Jones, or “Dumb and Dumber” if you prefer, can’t afford to go into the 2014 NFL draft looking to draft the “best available” player in each round while pretending to address glaring needs in free agency. They have played that card before but the salary cap rule bending and restructured contracts are all catching up to them now.

But I warn Cowboy fans, they are approaching it this year just as they have in the past, by addressing needs prior to the draft so that Jerry and Stephen can impulsively indulge in their fantasy football league approach to drafting. By “addressing needs”, I mean they are signing players that would be considered NFL journey men or “camp bodies” to fill the roster at positions of need prior to the draft. See, it’s not actually addressing needs at all and we have seen them do it before.

Recently Stephen said, “To me, that’s what free agency is about. You certainly can’t build a football team around free agency, and I think you’re going in the wrong direction if you look at it that way,” he said. “What it hopefully does is fill glaring needs so that you can take the best player available. I think when you start reaching for a particular position you start to make mistakes.”

So far to fill glaring needs left by the departures of Ware and Hatcher, they signed defensive linemen Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain who have a combined 2 sacks in the past two NFL seasons. Both of those were Mincey’s.

Their big splash free agency signing was Henry Melton who is coming off a short 2013 season with the Bears after tearing his ACL. Melton (a pro bowler in 2012) appears to be a good pick up and figures to be an excellent fit in Rod Marinelli’s defense however, the fact is no one knows how he will play after that serious injury.

Jerry and Stephen may view it as all buttoned up at defensive tackle heading into the draft but I think it’s actually a little more fragile than they would have us believe. What if Melton isn’t really all healed up from his serious ACL injury? Jerry and Stephen may have covered themselves with a contract they can get out of easily but who will help that terrible defense then? Don’t fall for it again.

Last Year They were Counting on Rat
Last season Jerry told us DT Jay Ratliff would be ready to go and Jerry went on to not draft a single defensive lineman. We soon found out that Rat was not ready to go at all at least not for Dallas, as Rat (now known as Jeremiah) eventually went to the Bears and actually played against the Cowboys.

And there were plenty of red flags to suspect they shouldn’t put all of their eggs on Jeremiah Ratliff since he was over 30, coming off an injury, had an off field DUI issue, and basically stood toe to toe with Jerry in the locker room. Why couldn’t Jerry and Stephen see how it may go wrong?

Instead of drafting a defensive lineman, Jerry and Stephen made a “best available” pick of a TE in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft (Gavin Escobar) and went on to use him very little (only 9 catches, 134 yards in 2013) while being forced out of desperation, to sign defensive linemen off the couch during the season.

It’s not to say Escobar is not a talented TE but to say the two Jones failed to address major needs during the draft because they felt they had it all covered on the defensive line when they actually didn’t. And they are headed that same direction again based on those comments Stephen made.

Reality is, Jerry and Stephen didn’t have enough salary cap room in 2014, to fully address all their needs through free agency. So they must do it through the draft, to avoid scrambling to sign guys during the season who thought their NFL careers were over.

Last year it was 36 year old guard Brian Waters who Jerry was forced to sign after failing to address their need for depth at guard, during the draft. Waters, once an outstanding guard, would only last for about 5 games as he is simply at the end of his career. As a team GM, sorry but that’s not proactively addressing needs, that’s just reacting by plugging bodies into a spot.

2014 DRAFT
Jerry and Stephen like to convince themselves, and unfortunately the fan base too, that all needs have been addressed so they are free to draft players that don’t really fill a particular need. But entering the 2014 draft in an era of salary cap restrictions, they simply don’t have that luxury any longer. While signing Melton was a start, there is still a need to pick up defensive tackles in the draft who can get into their rotation immediately.

They also need to draft a 4-3 DE to replace Ware but don’t be surprised if Jerry and Stephen tell us they already have Ware’s replacement on the roster. “Got it covered” we have heard them indicate before. Or even worse, announce they are going to resign 30 year old DE Anthony Spencer on the cheap, after his major knee surgery.

And don’t be shocked if they come out of the draft with yet another offensive toy for Jason Garrett that rarely gets used. When Jerry and Stephen get in the draft, they like to go with their instincts instead of addressing needs and that should be a concern for all Cowboy fans.

In the NFL draft, Jerry is like Floyd in “Dumb and Dumber’, “We don’t usually pick up hitchhikers. But I’m-a gonna go with my instincts on this one. Saddle up, partner!”


Jason Garrett Strikes Again: This Time He Puts his Curse on Duke

Jason Garrett and Tony Romo at Duke game

Jason Garrett and Tony Romo at Duke game

In a blog on March 18, I pointed out how the SMU basketball program suddenly became mediocre after a visit from Dallas Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett. Going 4-4 and missing the post season.

Well Jason wasn’t done yet casting his spell of mediocrity on college basketball programs and he even got a little help from the biggest choke wizard in the history of NFL football, by bringing along his QB Tony Romo to a Duke basketball game. In that game, Duke defeated UNC but since then, Duke went 2-2 (the mediocre curse from Garrett) including getting bounced out of the NCAA tournament in the first round by 14th seeded Mercer (credit Romo for the choke). Also choked in the ACC championship game against Virginia.

UPDATE: 5/17/14 Petition to keep Romo from Spurs game?

When I pointed out the SMU thing, I’m sure people shrugged it off as a coincidence but now maybe I’m on to something. Not being a fan of Duke, I’m glad Romo and Garrett did what they do to that over rated Duke program and hope they visit a game again next season but just do it sooner.

Why are Garrett and Romo touring the country attending sporting events like rockstars anyway? It’s as if they won the super bowl or something, instead of crashing and burning at the end of the season right on cue for another 8-8 finish and a playoff miss. Shouldn’t they be some where else evaluating NFL football prospects for the upcoming draft so they can actually make the playoffs?

What do Duke and the Cowboys have in common? A former Duke player purchased a lot of jewelry while in college, from the same company that Dez Bryant did while at Oklahoma St. Story HERE.

At this point, basketball coaches across America would be less frightened to see Jason Voorhees walk into their locker rooms than Jason Garrett.

Jason Voorhess

Jason Voorhess

NFL Proposed New Rule Changes: A Fan’s Take

The NFL Competition Committee has proposed 13 new rule changes. I have listed them and included my perspective on the changes I favor and those I don’t.

Rule change proposals:

1. Move the kickoff to the 40-yard line.

My Take: It started with a move back in an effort to increase KO returns because there were too many boring touchbacks. Then in the name of player safety, moved up again. Moving up from the 35 to the 40 will only result in less returns. Teams have adjusted their kicking games to the current spot so just keep it where it is and stop messing with it.

2. Expand instant replay to include personal foul penalties.

My Take: I’m not in favor of any replay reviews that are going to make the games even longer. Too much reviewing and not enough playing going on. To borrow a country song from Toby Keith, “A little less talk and a lot more action”.

3. Eliminate overtime in the preseason.

My Take: YES! Please eliminate OT in preseason. I wrote about a terrible OT preseason game Dallas played in 2006 with the Vikings “Worst Preseason Game Ever”. No one cares who wins these games and it’s just a chance to increase injuries. Way over due.

4. Extend the goal posts an additional five feet above the cross bar.

My Take: I guess an effort to help referees determine if a high kick is good. Seems unnecessary with refs standing right under them. I’m indifferent so let the refs vote on it.

5. Move the line of scrimmage for one-point extra point kicks to the defensive team’s 25-yard line. Two-point conversion attempts would still be snapped from the 2-yard line.

My Take: I get it, some think extra points are automatic and therefore a bit mundane. Sounds good until your team loses a game after missing an extra point from the 25. For me, this is too much change too quickly. Maybe start with the 10 yard line.

6. Put six cameras on all boundary lines — sideline, goal line, end line, to guarantee coverage for replay reviews.

My Take: It will just make fans wait longer for them to check all the different camera angles. Enough delays. No more cameras needed unless you are going to provide more cheerleader coverage of course. Now there is an idea.

7. Permit a coach to challenge any official’s decision, except scoring plays which are automatically reviewed.

My Take: This can get completely out of control and be potentially used to intentionally delay the game. Do we want games to last for 8 hours or something? Not just no, but heck no!

8. Protect players from getting the sides of their legs rolled up on — the rule already says a blocker can’t hit an opponent in the back of the legs, this proposal will add “or side” to the rule.

My Take: I’m on board with player safety, but it sounds like this will lead to more flags and only more referee involvement without the intended result.

9. Allow the referee to consult with members of the NFL officiating department during replay reviews. The referee would be able to speak with the command center in New York to help in reviewing a play.

My Take: What the heck? Please I beg you to not pass this rule change. Talk about a delay in action, this would cause me to change the channel and never return. The game officials have been neutered enough as it is, so allow them to just make the call.

10. Re-organize the rules about what can be reviewed and what cannot be reviewed, including making the recovery of a loose ball in the field of play reviewable. (This is referred to as the NaVorro Bowman rule, after a controversial call in the NFC Championship Game.)

My Take: These rules for review may need to be updated but this proposal lacks specifics. Return to sender.

11. Don’t stop the clock on a sack.

My Take: I’m in favor of this change. It can speed up the games so let’s do it.

12. Modify pass interference so that it can be called within one yard of the line of scrimmage.

My Take: The rules are already too much in favor of the receivers and offense. Only will lead to more flags. I say no.

13. Enforce defensive fouls behind the line of scrimmage from the previous spot, rather than from the end of the run or from the spot of the foul.

My Take: It’s ambiguous in how this will benefit the game and may be beneficial at times while harmful at other times. Go back and revise this one some more and submit next season.

Wrap it up:
No more OT for preseason games is over due. No brainer.
Speed up games by allowing the clock to run after a sack.
Don’t pass more rules to review every single thing that can happen on a football field. It can become too disruptive and take away from the viewing experience. Viewers have more viewing options than ever and less attention spans than ever so get on with the game.
UPDATE: RESULTS of meeting on 3/26/14

Did Jason Garrett Hex the SMU Basketball Team on his visit?

Three consecutive 8-8 seasons.   Mustangs go 4-4 after visit. Coincidence?

Three consecutive 8-8 seasons. Mustangs go 4-4 after visit. Coincidence?

Back on February 12, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett took his coaching staff to a SMU basketball practice to observe long time successful basketball coach, Larry Brown. It was to be an opportunity for Brown to show Jason and his guys who just finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs once again, how it’s done. A chance to pick Brown’s brain it was described.

“You just got to talk to him and have a conversation with him and take good mental notes,” head coach Jason Garrett said, “because when you go home, you’re going to take a lot of notes and remember what he was talking about, because it’s really valuable stuff.”

Well evidently Jason showed Brown how it’s done “the Cowboy way” instead or he just flat out put a hex on them because since that visit in February, the Mustangs basketball program went (wait for it) 4-4. Coincidence?

Worse yet, they were snubbed by the NCAA by not receiving an at large bid to the post season tournament (playoffs). A very disappointing finish to a promising season.

The Mustangs had been ranked 25th but lost their last 3 games including the first round of the conference tournament, which may have basically been a “play in game” for them.

Thanks Jason.

Dallas Cowboys Draft Analysis: Defensive Ends Available in the Draft

Kony Ealy with DeMarcus Ware.

Kony Ealy with DeMarcus Ware.

Cowboys DE DeMarcus Ware followed the money to Denver and no one can really blame him. In this case, I don’t fault Jerry Jones for not paying an aging player with production on decline either. It was probably best for both sides to just part. However I’m sure most Cowboy fans would prefer to have seen Ware retire as a Cowboy. Now there are big shoes to be filled.

DE Anthony Spencer remains unsigned after having knee surgery in the off season. It’s unclear if he will be with the Cowboys but it appears kind of doubtful. It has been reported he is visiting the Giants. It’s also not known how effectively the 30 year old Spencer will play DE in a 4-3 after playing OLB in the 3-4, his entire career.

So the need for Dallas to draft a defensive end becomes one of their greatest areas of concern for certain. If Dallas signs free agent DT Henry Melton, then I think drafting a DE becomes the top priority.

A look at defensive ends in the draft who appear to fit the Cowboys 4-3 defense. Jadeveon Clowney is the top ranked DE in the draft and understandably so. However he will be long gone off the board when Dallas picks at 16, so I have excluded him from the list. Auburn’s Dee Ford is a first round prospect and an impressive looking pass rusher but it’s expected that he will convert to a OLB so I’m excluding him as well.

DE Kony Ealy:
Strengths– Good combination of quickness and strength. A very capable pass rusher from the DE position. A top performer in the 3 cone drill at the combine shows that he possesses excellent feet. Can execute pass rush moves to defeat blockers.
Versatile– Can be moved around the defensive line and athletic enough to adjust quickly.

Weakness– Not a great run defender. Can get pushed and blocked when running the ball at him. Needs to get stronger.

Fit for Dallas:
Good: Ealy would certainly get in the mix right away as a pass rusher off the edge in their 4-3 defense. He would need to develop his run defense but appears to have a lot of upside.

Ealy is expected to be drafted late first round. Certainly a possibility for Dallas at 16. He will also be looked at as an OLB by teams that run a 3-4 defense.

Texas DE Jackson Jeffcoat

Texas DE Jackson Jeffcoat

DE Jackson Jeffcoat:
Strengths– Displays excellent quickness and speed. At the combine, a top 40 time among defensive linemen with a 4.63 and also a top performer in the 3 cone drill. That quickness shows up on video and in his productivity as he has the ability to beat offensive tackles on the edge.
Hustles– Plays through the whistle and is a real competitor on the field.
Pedigree– His father Jim was an outstanding defensive lineman for Dallas in the 1980’s. Like to keep him in the Cowboys family.

Weakness– Not a great run defender. Needs to get stronger for sure to play DE in the NFL. Often gets pushed around on run plays. Has a history of injuries in college that can’t be ignored.

Fit for Dallas:
Very good: Have to like his last name and he would help the Cowboys pass rush immediately. Jackson would bring some much needed energy and youth to the Cowboys defensive line. Will need to hit the weight room and develop his run defense. Should become a good team leader.

Jeffcoat is expected to get drafted in the 2nd or possibly 3rd round. He will be considered as an OLB by teams in a 3-4 defense. I think he represents good value as a 3rd round pick but a little bit of a reach perhaps as a 2nd round pick.

UNC DE Kareem Martin

UNC DE Kareem Martin

DE Kareem Martin:
Strengths– Ideal size, body, and frame for a 4-3 defensive end at 6-6, 272. Long arms (35″) to hold off would be blockers in fact, possessed the longest arms among all DE prospects. Able to hold his ground against the run and is one of the better run defender DEs in the draft.
Pass rusher– A capable pass rusher with good speed but certainly room for improvement.

Comparison: Martin reminds me of former Dallas Cowboy DE Greg Ellis. Almost exactly the same size and both played at UNC. Ellis was a first round pick and very solid DE for Dallas back when they ran a 4-3 defense.

Weakness– Motor- Can disappear at times in his college play and will need to step it up at the NFL level. Certainly could be stronger and doesn’t play as strong as he looks. Good, but not great, quickness. Pass rush needs some developing.

Fit for Dallas:
Excellent-Martin represents a pure classic 4-3 defensive end. His long frame will stand up against the run and can beat tackles off the edge too. Has tremendous upside as a NFL DE with good coaching. The Dallas defensive line would benefit right away with Martin at DE, and probably for years to come.

A rising prospect that is now considered a 2nd round pick by many. He will be coveted by 4-3 defenses looking for a true defensive end.

Final Take:
If Dallas signs a DT like Melton in free agency, then I think drafting DE Kony Ealy becomes a bigger possibility. Ealy would help the Cowboys pass rush.

As far as overall skill set goes, I favor Kareem Martin who certainly represents the best run defender of the three and he has ideal size for the position. I believe Marinelli can coach up Martin into a better pass rusher.

If Dallas is focused on a pure pass rusher, (and that would be understandable) then Jackson Jeffcoat is the better option. He brings outstanding quickness and I like the intangibles he brings with good hustle and leadership. He represents excellent value as a 3rd round pick but his history of injury can’t be over looked.
RELATED: A look at DTs

Dallas Cowboys Draft Analysis: Defensive Tackles Available in the Draft

Aaron Donald

Aaron Donald

DT Jay Ratliff moved on to Chicago and DT Jason Hatcher, the Cowboys most productive defensive lineman last season, just signed with the rival Redskins. Before the departure of Hatcher, I considered defensive tackle the Cowboys biggest position of need and now it only becomes more obvious.

Currently it appears Dallas has interest in signing free agent Henry Melton who played for the Bears. But if that deal can get done or not remains to be seen, and even if it does, Dallas could still use more help at DT. They also recently signed NFL journeyman DT Terrell McClain who will likely provide depth at the 1 technique. Drafting a DT early is still a significant possibility.

A look at three defensive tackles available in the draft that Dallas could consider using a first round pick on to help improve their 4-3 defensive front.

DT Aaron Donald:
Strengths: Quickness-One thing new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli looks for in a three technique defensive tackle is quickness and Donald certainly has that. Donald can split blockers with ease and penetrate the backfield. Against the run he makes tackles for loss and has the speed to pursue runners. He also provides a much needed pass rush up the middle of the defensive line.
Motor– On video he plays with an outstanding motor and pursues relentlessly. Not one to take a play off.
Strength– Donald benched 225 pounds an impressive 35 times at the combine so don’t think his quickness is the only way he can beat blockers. It’s also an indication of his strong work ethic in the weight room.

Weakness: Size- Not a lot of weaknesses in my view, but some would point at his overall size as less than ideal. His tremendous productivity makes his size easy to get past.

Fit for Dallas:
Excellent-An important aspect of the successful Tampa 2 defense for the Buccaneers was having Warren Sapp in the middle of the line disrupting plays. Dallas just didn’t have that last season but Donald could bring that element to this defense and be a real difference maker. An ideal 3 tech. in their defense and a three down player for sure.

Draft: Ranked as the top DT in the draft by CBSsports and could be drafted at 14 by the Bears before Dallas picks. Stock exploded after impressive combine performance.

Timmy Jernigan

Timmy Jernigan

DT Timmy Jernigan:
Strengths– Quick feet-Not great straight line speed but surprisingly very good quickness moving laterally.
Hands– I really like how Jernigan uses his hands to control the blocker and disengage form the blocker to pursue the ball.
Run defender– Jernigan is an excellent defender against the run. He gets off blockers, slides down the line to collapse the hole and stuff the runner. Appears more like a LB when he pursues the ball.

Weakness-Just an average pass rusher. Not very productive in sacks last season with just 4.5.

Fit for Dallas
Very Good– I think Jernigan would improve the Cowboys run defense significantly right away. He is probably more of a 1 tech. than 3 tech. but I think he can handle both. Jernigan will be excellent on run plays but on 3rd down may not be a great help against the pass.

Draft: Third ranked DT and expected to go in the first round. Some mocks who think Donald will be off the board, have Dallas picking Jernigan instead.

RaShede Hageman

RaShede Hageman

DT RaShede Hageman:
Strengths– Good size- Hageman’s 6-6, 310 frame makes him an ideal size for a defensive lineman and presents a lot for offensive linemen to deal with.
Arm Strength– Hageman benched 225 pounds for 32 reps at the NFL combine and that strength shows up in his play. Able to bull rush offensive linemen pushing them back into the backfield.
Versatile– Hageman has experience playing both the one and three spot on the defensive line. Can adapt to both positions well.

Weakness: Wouldn’t describe him as relentless as he plays in spurts. Sometimes appears slow to recognize the play.

Fit for Dallas: Good- Hageman brings power and size to a defensive line that needs it with Hatcher gone. He could play either the one or three DT for Dallas and brings good versatility. A player that may have more upside than any DT in the draft.

Draft: Expected to be a late first round pick. A trade down candidate for Dallas possibly. Pick up an additional draft pick and a good player in Hageman too.

Final Take:
Any of these three DTs could help the Cowboys defensive line. Aaron Donald represents the kind of quickness that can really make the Cowboys D-line a problem for offenses to deal with. Appears made for their defense.

Timmy Jernigan offers the best run defender of the three in my view, and could help Dallas a great deal. Jernigan is a very good consolation prize if Donald is off the board at 16.

If Dallas is looking for a DT that can replace the departed Jason Hatcher, RaShede Hageman offers the best choice as he has similar size. Hageman is the kind of player that could under achieve but who also has the size and athletic ability to eventually turn out to be the best pick of the three too.
Related: A look at DEs

Winningest Coach after 56 games, Wade or Jason? #Who cares

Last week former Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips (@sonofbum) took a run at current coach Jason Garrett by twitting:
Jason Garrett is tied with Wade Phillips for 56 games as the @dallascowboys head coach. Phillips: 34 – 22; Garrett: 29 -27. #suprisesMe

Well you can “#surprise me” that Wade even knows how to tweet and way to set the bar high Wade by comparing yourself to one of the most mediocre coaches in team history, Jason Garrett.

I would have figured if Wade tweeted at all it would be about his favorite watering hole to get beer in Texas or where he likes to go stuff that big belly of his with tacos. Can’t say I saw this coming.

I could see maybe Rob Ryan taking a cheap shot at Jason on tweeter but seeing how he still drives an old van from the 70’s, I doubt Rob is hash tagging anything yet. Let’s face it, when Wade starts tweeting, it may be an indication that this form of social media has been played and time to move on to the next thing. #myspace

As far as who was the best coach after 56 games? I would point out that Wade’s record was helped by taking over a team that Bill Parcells built since Wade went 13-3 his very first season. It went down hill quickly from there as Wade tried to be everyone’s buddy and run a Club Med version of preseason camp. Both coaches are equally mediocre in my humble opinion.

However, if one was compiling a list of past Cowboy coaches who have had the least impact to the team ever, for some reason, then these two would certainly make that list. Otherwise there is no debate to be had here that’s worth anyone’s time.

It’s a shame that Wade’s father Bum Phillips couldn’t have had twitter back in the day. Bum said things worth reading like when Costas asked him why he takes his wife on the Oilers road games? “She is too ugly to kiss goodbye”, Bum replied. #classic