war room

2016 NFL team rankings


Passing yards- 23rd

Rushing yards- 2nd


Passing yards – 26th

Rushing yards- 1st

Sacks- 13th

KEY NEEDS: pass defense. QB pressure. Depth offensive line.


NO. 28 First Round: Takkarist McKinley, OLB/DE

The Cowboys are forced to move on from the Randy Gregory rehab program, and find themselves a player that can make plays in the pass rush. McKinley is an explosive off the edge rusher capable of making a difference right away in the Dallas pass rush.

Takk Highlights

Takk ran a 4.59 in the forty and has the longest arms at the position, 34.75 inches. He also plays with a high motor. Time to add Takk with Dak.

NO. 60 2nd Round: Desmond King, FS

In the off season, Dallas parted ways with safety Wilcox and Barry Church while also losing DBs Carr and Mo Claiborne. The secondary represents an area of major need. Desmond is listed as a free safety but played corner at Iowa. King is a ball hawk who will bring much needed instincts to make a play on the ball, and come up with interceptions. King also returns punts and kicks so can contribute on special teams. King ran a 4.53 forty, and was a top performer in the cone and shuttle drills. King Highlights

NO. 92 3rd Round: George Kittle, TE

TE Gavin Escobar is moving on and iron man Jason Witten isn’t getting any, younger so adding a TE who can play right away, is not a bad idea. Kittle represents one of the best run blocking TEs available in the draft and is athletic enough to develop into an effective receiver. Kittle ran an impressive 4.52 forty (OJ Howard ran 4.51) and was in the top three among TEs in the broad jump.   Kittle Highlights

NO. 133 4th Round: Rasul Douglas, CB

Dallas must address their secondary in this draft and picking up a CB here is a must. I like the size of Douglas (6-2, 209) with long arms and he also brings good ball instincts to a defense that needs more takeaways.    Douglas INT Machine

NO. 211 6th Round: Lorenzo Jerome, Safety

A standout starter for four years at St Francis, Jerome has outstanding ball skills and is solid in run support to help fill the strong safety spot vacated by Barry Church who left for Jacksonville. A very instinctive safety who also returns kicks.  Highlights

NO. 228 7th Round:  Jerry Ugokwe, OT

Tackle Doug Free retired and the Cowboys will be looking for Chaz Green to fill his spot at RT, but it makes sense to draft a tackle. Ugokwe has the potential to develop into a right tackle in the future. He’s 6-7, 321 and posses long arms, 35.38 inches, and has experience at both tackles in a pro style offense.

NO. 246 7th Round: Bug Howard, WR

A big receiver at 6-4, 221 who had a productive career at UNC. I simply think Howard may be one of the best players still on the board this late in the draft and is worth a look. He ran a 4.58 forty, and had an outstanding vertical jump of 37.50 inches. Bug wins the jump balls.   BUG in Action













These 6 Cowboys Need to Step it Up in 2014 Season

Megatron owned Brandon Carr last year.

Megatron owned Brandon Carr last year.

Every season brings a list of guys who find themselves in a position to step up their game or see the Cowboys GM move on. Case and point, Miles Austin. Sometimes players have under performed due to injuries but regardless, expectations are that they deliver and sometimes they do but sometimes not.

My list of Dallas Cowboys who need to have a good season this year or they may not be around any longer. “On thin ice” you might say.

1. CB Morris Claiborne– When you are a top 10 pick in the draft, expectations tend to be high and especially when that team traded up to get you. Claiborne enters his third season after experiencing a plethora of nagging injuries over two seasons as a Cowboy, and providing inconsistent play.

Claiborne only played in 10 games last season due to injury, although at times he has shown signs that he can be what they thought he was when they drafted him in 2011, as he picked off a Peyton Manning pass last season and returned a fumble for a score in the 2012 season. But he struggled with the new 4-3 defense often looking lost in the a secondary that was completely obliterated too often last season.

2014: The Cowboys drafted a defensive back Terrance Mitchell who appears athletic and already has impressed at rookie mini camp with his quickness and ability to play in zone coverage. Morris will need to step up his game quickly because Mitchell is capable of competing for a spot on the roster. This season Morris needs to show fans why he was the top corner in the draft a few years ago because if he doesn’t, I think Dallas will move on from the disappointing Claiborne in 2015.

2. LB Bruce Carter– The Cowboys drafted Carter in 2011 in the 2nd round and although he was recovering from a major knee injury suffered late in his college season, they believed he could recover and help them. It was expected that at linebacker Carter would make a smooth transition to their new 4-3 defense in 2013, but he didn’t. Carter often struggled in coverage having difficulty picking up backs out of the backfield and appearing a step or two slow at times. Even being benched at one point in the season.

Coach Marinelli even called out Carter this offseason saying “it’s a man’s game” HERE
When coach questions your manhood, you know it’s time to step up your game.

2014: Clearly the Cowboys are determined to get better at LB as they drafted Anthony Hitchens in the 4th round and then Will Smith in the 7th. And word is they were seriously considering drafting one in the first round but the Steelers took Ohio St. LB Ryan Shazier at 15 just before Dallas could get him. Hitchens and Smith are both capable of playing the weakside LB position and are good prospects to earn playing time at LB.

Carter needs to show something soon and I do mean quickly in 2014, or Dallas will be moving on.

3. Safeties JJ Wilcox and Jeff Heath– Wilcox was drafted in the 3rd round last season and Heath was an undrafted rookie that managed to make the team. Both struggled mightily last season adapting to the NFL game after playing at smaller colleges. Stephen Jones has spoken out in support of these guys even suggesting they were better than many gave them credit. By no means have they given up on these two as safeties but I don’t think they can play in 2014 like they did in 2013, or support could evaporate quickly.

2014: While Dallas did not draft a safety early in the draft, they did pick up Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon in the 7th round so it’s safe to say they are looking. Dixon is a solid run defender that needs some developing in coverage but he can certainly compete with the young Dallas safeties in house. Expectations are that Wilcox and Heath will show significant improvement in their second seasons, and they need to or Dallas may decide enough is enough.

4. CB Brandon Carr– The Cowboys gave Carr a $50.1 million contract in 2012 so to say the least, expectations are high. After a productive season in 2012, Carr struggled in the new Tampa 2 defense last season as he was completely destroyed by Calvin Johnson in the Lions game (14 catches, 349 yards). That was the biggest single game performance against the Cowboys EVER. It was enough to make coaches and fans lose confidence in their high dollar free agent corner.

2014: Carr feels the pressure to have a better 2014 and boldly stated recently, “Trying to take over the league,” as he spoke of his role as a shut down corner. Carr said he is training differently and has lost about 10 pounds to improve quickness.

I’m not sure if Carr will “take over the league” in Richard Sherman style next season but he needs to play much better in 2014, or Dallas will be asking to restructure his contract or possibly move on.

5. Right tackle Doug Free– It seems Free’s name comes up often as being replaceable. After a dismal 2012 season where he found himself in a rotation at RT, Free played much better last year under a reduced contract. He enters the last year of that contract with a sense of still having to prove himself. Bottom line I don’t think he can afford to have a poor season in 2014.

2014: The Cowboys drafted tackle Zack Martin in the first round and he will be switching to guard for the 2014 season however Dallas likes his versatility on the line and could consider Martin an option at right tackle if Free stumbles. Free needs to eliminate doubts this season or Dallas may look to replace him in 2015.

Carr and Claiborne were given mulligans because of the transition to the new Tampa 2 defense. Heath and Wilcox were extended mulligans as young, inexperienced rookies. But next year I don’t think mulligans will be available for these four guys in the Dallas secondary.

Carter finds himself in a battle for playing time at the start of camp with rookies and will need to quickly show improvement. While Doug Free needs to have the kind of performance in 2014 that makes fans forget about that dreadful penalty filled 2012 season, once and for all.

RELATED: Guys who needed to step it up in 2013 season.
Spoiler alert, Austin and Costa are gone now.

Cowboys Sign Veteran Guard Brandon Moore. A Look at the Impact.

Brandon Moore

Brandon Moore

UPDATE: Moore retires from NFL. Not coming to Dallas.

The Dallas Cowboys are finalizing a deal to sign former Jets guard Brandon Moore. Moore was one of the top free agent lineman out there based on his play in previous years.

Yes, it’s the infamous “butt fumble” guard. VIDEO Not Moore’s fault Sanchez ran into him.

In a blog I wrote in April, I looked at free agent linemen available and came to the conclusion that Moore would be a nice pick up for Dallas. I felt it made sense prior to all the injuries at guard. The Cowboys often come around to my way of thinking, it just takes them a while.

In the blog, I pointed out that Moore was ranked the top free agent guard by PFF with a 21.3 rating of his play last year with the Jets.

Moore is an 11 year veteran so he has been around a while but he has proven to be durable starting in 137 straight games. A durable guard is something the Cowboys could certainly use. Moore was part of the Jets O line that helped pave the way for Curtis Martin when he lead the NFL in rushing in 2004.

Why Did the Jets release Moore?
Most likely it came down to money. Doesn’t it usually?
After an outstanding season, Moore was a free agent and was due to receive a roster signing bonus of $7 million on March 5. The Jets were attempting to get Moore to take a cut in pay but with Moore playing well and making the Pro Bowl, their timing was bad to say the least. That’s when talks broke down and he was released in February. HERE

What it means to Dallas?
Frederick stays at center: The Cowboys have considered playing their top draft choice center, Frederick, at guard. In fact he played guard in the 2nd half of the HOF game Sunday night. I didn’t think Frederick looked as good at guard as he did at center and pointed that out in my recap of the game. I believe the Dallas coaches want Frederick at center where he can thrive and help the offense the most. Signing Moore allows Frederick to stay at center.

I also think the rookie center will benefit a great deal having a successful veteran guard next to him. Frederick stands to learn a lot next to Moore.

Doug Free: Free struggled last season at right tackle for Dallas so I think having an All Pro guard next to him on the right side will only help his performance. Free stands to benefit from Moore’s presence as well.

Moore has played right guard in the past so if he should become the starting right guard, who would play left guard? While it has not been determined yet, I think Leary would be a likely candidate to play left guard. He seems to have played well in action sunday night at guard.

Livings was lost to surgery and Bernadeau has not proven to be durable at all. Arkin would also be considered to play some at guard.

Overall this move could be a much needed addition to the weakest part of the Cowboys offense.

Dallas Cowboys add a Couple New Faces Before Camp

tanney1Pending a physical, the Cowboys are looking to add offensive tackle Demetress Bell and QB Alex Tanney.

Demetress Bell:

It can’t be a good sign that it took Demetress 28 years to learn how to correctly spell his name. According to Wiki, he spelled his name Demetrius until 2012 when he learned it was actually spelled Demetress. OK he isn’t exactly a fast learner.

Wiki also says that he is the son of former NBA player Karl “the mailman” Malone who evidently made a few “special deliveries” over the years since Demetress doesn’t carry his last name. Wiki reports that Bell’s mom was 13 when she became pregnant.

 The Cowboys need help at tackle after another poor performance from Doug Free last season but I’m not so sure they found it in Bell. Pro Football Focus has Bell ranked a very lowly -24.5. That’s even worse than Free! It’s disappointing when you consider there were some quality free agent tackles out there that Jerry Jones could have signed.

Bell has started for the Bills including a large number of penalties, but suffered a knee injury and then went to the Eagles.  The Eagles cut Bell because of salary cap reasons but also because his play wasn’t very good in place of an injured Peters. Fans should keep expectations low here. Bell may make Free look like a good option.  

Alex Tanney:

Last year I blogged about Tanney’s impressive trick shot video.  A link to that entertaining video is in my blog HERE.  If Tanney fails to make the Cowboys 53 man roster, Jerry should consider having Tanney perform his passing tricks at halftime to entertain the home crowd. Tanney could go to the upper deck and bounce a football off the huge screen TV that hangs over the field and into a trash can below or something. It’s already a circus environment there anyway.

Currently Dallas only has three QBs with Romo, Kyle Orton, and Nick Stephens. Romo is coming off surgery so it makes sense that Dallas will need another QB to get through the preseason games. Tanney put together some very impressive stats at Division III Monmouth College with 14,249 passing yards and 157 TDs. In the video he demonstrates a strong arm and impressive accuracy. Got to like his 6’4″ height too.

I think this Tanney kid is worth a good like by Dallas. Sure he has a lot of developing to do but if he can toss a football into the arms of a college buddy flying down the road in the back of a pick up truck, then surely he can hit Dez Bryant sprinting down the sideline. Just sayin’.

Cowboy Doug Free and Jerry Jones Engaged in a Stand Off

Will Doug Free be on the Cowboys offensive line in 2013? That’s a big question for Cowboy fans these days and based on his play the last couple seasons, I imagine many of them would like to see the team free of Free.

Deadline: If Free is cut after June 1, he saves the team $ 7 million against the salary cap and in Jerry’s world, that’s paramount.

Recently Jerry said of Free,

“I’d like to keep him,” “We think that Doug Free can be an important part of the team. He’s been here. We know him. We think that with what we’re doing in other parts of our offense, certainly in the offensive line, that this will bode well for him. So we think he can really be an asset to us.”

My Jerry Jones translation: Doug Free better take that pay cut I offered him or he will be cut on June 2nd faster than a defensive end can fly around Free to sack Romo. It’s not like any sane GM out there is going to over pay Free as much money as I did. He’s lucky I’m offering him anything.

But Jerry didn’t want it to sound so much like an ultimatum by adding,

“It’s no secret that we’re trying to renegotiate the contract,” Jones said. “But I think it’s a wrong assessment to say that anybody’s saying ‘take it or leave it’ or we’re at our wit’s end or those kinds of things. That’s just not the way I see it going.”

My Jerry Jones Translation: Free agent tackle Eric Winston is on my speed dial and my finger is on the number. It’s your call Doug. Sign or pack.

My Final Take: With free agent tackle Eric Winston still available, and the fact that Jerry can remove $7 million of valuable salary cap, I can’t see how Doug Free is holding the cards here. Would any other NFL team pay Free the amount of money he is getting now?

Free better take that reduced contract PDQ or Jerry will move on June 2nd.
UPDATE 5/16Free signs for less money

Should the Cowboys add a Free Agent Offensive Lineman?

The Cowboys deficiencies on the offensive line last season have been well documented and the consensus among mock drafts are that Dallas needs to draft offensive linemen. Honestly, they could use an offensive tackle, guard (or two), and a center. But is it realistic that they can get the offensive line fixed in the 2013 draft with only six picks?

I’m thinking probably not. There are some veteran offensive linemen available in free agency that could likely help the Cowboys next season so adding one of them could be a good move. That makes trying to pick up one starting lineman in the draft much more realistic.

After resigning Romo, the Cowboys have $4.4 million available in cap space which could be just enough to add an offensive lineman.

With their current starting guards Livings and Bernadeau, the Cowboys are in need of an upgrade in the middle of the line. There are good ones in the draft that can help.

Draft– In my recent mock draft, I speculated based on the mocks, that the top two guards, Cooper and Warmack, will be off the board when Dallas goes on the clock at 18. Be nice to get one of them but it’s no guarantee they will be available. I also pointed out that Warford would be a nice pick up in the 2nd round but again, no guarantee he is there when they pick in round two.

Free Agent Guards: Brandon Moore and Stephen Peterman
Moore has started 137 straight games for the Jets so he is durable but is an 11 year veteran. Pro Football Focus ranks him as the top free agent guard and he has a rating of 21.3 on last year’s play. A very consistent guard that no doubt offers an upgrade over current guards on the Cowboys roster.

Peterman is durable as he played every game for the Lions the last three seasons. He isn’t rated as high as Moore with a rating of 0.6, but still could provide an upgrade for Dallas at guard.

Right Tackle: Doug Free is the current right tackle but it has not been working out as he struggled with penalties and his performance last season. The Cowboys would like to upgrade here if possible and actually they recently asked Free to take a cut in salary HERE.

DRAFT: D.J. FLuker, Alabama is a right tackle that is expected to go in the first round about where Dallas picks. It’s more of a sure thing that he will be available than guards Cooper and Warmack. While Fluker needs some development in pass blocking, his run blocking would represent an immediate upgrade and is an area that needs improvement in Dallas.

Free Agent Tackles: Andre Smith, Tyson Clabo, and Eric Winston
Smith actually had an outstanding season for the Bengals last year but remains unsigned. PFF gave him an impressive 26.9 rating for his play in 2012. Smith plays right tackle and represents a serious upgrade however he is looking to get paid in a big way but those expectations could be declining as time goes by. He has only been in the NFL for 4 years so he has the ability to help a time for a while.

Clabo was cut by the Falcons and is a 7 year veteran that received a PFF rating of 21.3 last year. It would appear that Clabo can still offer a team solid play at right tackle. Certainly he offers an upgrade over Free and brings valuable NFL experience.

Winston was cut by the Chiefs after only one season and that comes after only one season with the Texans. He is a 7 year veteran with a very respectable rating of 15.1 for his play in 2012. His inability to stick with a team must be of concern but it appears that he can still play the game at a high level. Winston has already expressed frustration with not being signed and said that he would play for 3 or 4 million next year. That’s not a bad deal if he is a starter, and compared to the 7 million Free will get.

My Take: Fixing that entire offensive line in one draft is just not realistic so Dallas should consider adding a free agent lineman and use one of their top two draft picks on one as well. They could sign guard Moore and then draft Fluker as a right tackle in the first or sign one of the free agent tackles ( I tend to favor Clabo) then make certain they get one of the top 3 guards. That could possibly mean having to work a deal to move up a little.

Adding a veteran while picking up a talented rookie lineman, may be what gets the running game on track and helps protect Romo in 2013.

Will Cowboys Switch Tackles?

Head coach Jason Garrett indicated that the Cowboys just may move Tyron Smith to the left tackle and Doug Free back to right tackle next season. SWITCH

After having a good year at right tackle in 2010, Free was signed to a big contract last year and moved to left tackle so that the rookie Smith could get acclimated to the NFL at right tackle. Last season was a tough year for Free as he allowed 10 sacks and 33 QB pressures. Pro Football Focus was so unimpressed that they ranked Free 51st among tackles.

Much of the attention is on pass protection but how about rushing the ball? Last season the Cowboys often just couldn’t seem to pick up a yard or two in short yardage situations and it was worst on the left side of the line. The Cowboys rushing power ranking for the left side was dead last in the NFL. That means in short yardage situations, the Cowboys left side had the lowest conversion percentage. The right side was better but not anything to brag about either as they were ranked 22nd in this category. Surprisingly, the center of the line was in the top 10 in short yardage conversions.

Clearly moving Free to left tackle hurt his productivity and I find it easy to believe that moving Free back to right tackle will improve his performance next year however the big question is how will Smith handle the more challenging left side? Smith is a young inexperienced tackle with a lot of skill but he has never played left tackle in the NFL where he will face defenses’ best pass rushers. He played right tackle at USC too.

Making the switch makes sense for the future as Smith was drafted to play left tackle ultimately however we must expect a learning curve with some growing pains next year if it happens. And pain is something Romo knows about. I would be curious to know how Romo feels about having such a young player protecting his blind side? Romo was hit as much as any QB in the league last year and I’m sure he would like to see protection improve.

Jason said that Free can play both sides but I beg to differ with Jason. The facts strongly indicate that Free is a right tackle so you better hope Smith is a left tackle because if he isn’t, then you have two right tackles and no left tackles. And that means you better have some depth at QB. You will need them.