They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I guess KD ought to be feeling pretty complimented since he gave me the idea to redo this topic with his Pick Six post this week. Sometimes, there are just some interesting things about the Dallas Cowboys out there that don't justify a full article, but that you want to bring up.
One of the biggest non story stories the past few days has been the reports of Dez Bryant and his scuffle in Miami. For a recap of all the pertinent facts, you can check out this article on SOHH.com, which pulls in most of the relevant info. I know I may be seeing this through the homer glasses, but this continues to look like much ado about nothing. The site, a rap oriented one, does seem to say that Lil' Wayne was the instigator.
Additional reporting claimed Weezy struck first by taunting Bryant's on-field and off-field performances.
While I think Dez may need to learn to get a thicker skin, it does seem that he was not doing anything wrong, and the location is apparently a popular one for pro athletes, with the Mavericks having had a post-championship celebration there. I just thought the readers might like to know that it may not have been as bone-headed a situation as it first seemed, just a little overreaction. (If anyone was being bone-headed, it would seem to me that the person taunting a physical specimen like Dez would qualify - but that's just me.)
Take the jump for other, more relevant topics.
Of course, the big, burning interest for all of the Cowboys fans is the personnel question. Draft prospects, free agent possibilities, and who to keep. ESPN's Todd Archer has an opinion on the key decision the team has to make.
As the Cowboys move into offseason mode and prepare for free agency and the draft, the most important decision they will have to make revolves around Anthony Spencer.
He looks at signing him to a new multi-year contract as well as the possible use of the franchise and transition tags, and the attendant costs. The basic problem is that if the team just lets him walk, they now have another void to fill. Todd sees the alternatives like this.
The free-agent market doesn't offer much hope for serious improvement, so the options appear to be sign Spencer to a long-term deal at a sensible price, put one of the tags on him or draft an outside linebacker with the No. 14 pick with Alabama's Courtney Upshaw being everybody's guy right now after the Tide's win against LSU.
I am not terribly wild about using the #14 slot this way if it interferes with the David DeCastro plan. However, if DeCastro is gone at this point, Upshaw is starting to look like a good option - but should the team forgo a strong, disruptive lineman for an OLB at this point?
Although I am not sure the conclusions are totally correct, I do see the point that what happens with Almost Anthony will have a ripple effect on what the team has to do from that point. The ideal thing would be to franchise him and then have someone else make an offer so that the Cowboys got compensatory picks - I just don't think that is a very likely outcome.
As for that 14th selection, I am pretty much on board the DeCastro train. I would love to see what Bill Callahan could do with him and maybe a good free agent center. Todd Archer has another article up that talks about the job Callahan has done upgrading the lines for both the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders. In particular, he showed some real mastery at blending talented young draft choices and key free agent acquisitions.
In 2008 Callahan came aboard a New York Jets ship that went 4-12 the previous year with a rookie left tackle in D'Brickashaw Ferguson and center in Nick Mangold.
In free agency the Jets added the NFL's best guard in Alan Faneca, signing him away with a five-year, $40 million contract that included $21 million in guarantees. They signed Damien Woody to play right tackle, paying him $11 million in guarantees as part of a five-year, $25 million deal to get out of Detroit.
"Those young guys had to grow up in a hurry and now those guys, Mangold and Ferg, are two of the best offensive lineman in football," Woody said. "A lot of that has to do with Coach Callahan doing that extra work. He's going to work those guys before practice, during practice, after practice and all that hard work paid off for a couple of years. Our offensive line was probably considered one of the best in the league. I think he's going to have the same effect in Dallas."
Music to my ears. I think that if the team gives him the right raw material to work with, he is going to awaken some echos of Cowboys lines from the past. (I'm sorry, do I have Kool Aid on my upper lip?) The thing I am really curious about is what he can do with the young players the team already has? If he is able to make serious improvements with players like David Arkin, Bill Nagy, Phil Costa, Kevin Kowalski, and Jermey Parnell, plus add in someone like DeCastro and maybe a Carl Nicks kind of free agent . . .
The mind reels.
I will admit that my hopes may have me putting more weight on the articles that tend to support my desired outcomes, but this is the time for unfettered optimism and dwelling on the best outcomes. In that vein, part of improving the play on both sides of the line is going to be the contribution of Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Woicik. While there are certainly some skeptics who question just how big an impact he can have, it appears that Jason Garrett is not one of them.
The difference an offseason with Woicik will make remains to be seen obviously, but his track record gives Cowboys fans a pretty good reason for optimism. According to head coach Jason Garrett, Woicik will spend the coming months doing what good S&C coaches do--making a quiet, but very real impact on the team.
"When you're a strength and conditioning coach, the season is more of your offseason," Garrett said, per the San Antonio Express-News. "He's maintaining guys. We lift and we run and do all the things most teams do during the season. But it's more of a maintenance-type situation.
There is a lot of work to be done for the Cowboys, but it sounds like some of it has already started. Major decisions are coming up, and part of deciding who is best able to help the team is figuring out what you already have. Everything weaves together, and each decision affects the next. I think the next six months or so are going to be the true test of whether Jason Garrett is a legitimate NFL head coach.
And I am putting my money on "Yes".