The Cowboys media continues to be obsessed with the play-caller debate going on in Dallas. It's being used as a symbol of a larger question - just who is in charge at Valley Ranch? Of course we all know Jerry Jones is in charge, but is he forcing decisions on head coach Jason Garrett, or is Garrett voluntarily giving up play-calling duties? Heck, we don't even know for sure if he's giving up the gameday duty yet. Regardless, lost in all the soap opera debate in the media is one point that needs to be said - whoever calls the plays, the Cowboys offense needs to execute them better, a point Jason Witten makes clear.
"I think more’s been made of that than probably needs to be as far as a player’s perspective just because it’s all about execution for us," Witten said Friday night at an AdvoCare Success School in Fort Worth. "We’ve got to execute those plans better. We’ve got good plays, and we’ve got some good players, but we’ve got to do a good enough job of executing time and time again. That’s where I focus is on as players, I think, and that’s where it needs to be moving forward. We just need to do a better job of scoring and taking care of the ball collectively and not putting ourselves in those situations where we’re having to come from behind," Witten said.
Now that's the truth with no debate.
We touched on the hiring of Rod Marinelli in a few recent articles, about how he could be the key to making the new 4-3 defense work. Also, how he turned down the Bears offer to remain defensive coordinator and "demote" himself to Cowboys defensive line coach. You can read more about that decision here, but the key quote has nothing to do with that decision, but what the Cowboys will be doing on defense in 2013.
According to Marinelli, generating takeaways is about keeping quarterbacks flustered in the pocket, whether that results in a sack and fumble, an overthrown ball or a rushed or tipped pass. "I’ve always said it’s rush and cover," Marinelli said. "The coverage has got to trust the rush. It’s important, and I put it on the rush. I put it on myself and on the rush. We have to get pressure. If we rush four, we have to."
The Cowboys, and by extension Jerry Jones, receive a lot of criticism about meddling with the draft and not trusting their board. Bryan Broaddus gives an example from 2009.
The Cowboys, picking 51st overall, had their chance to take [LeSean] McCoy, among others. But they traded that pick to the Bills for a third and a fourth, which they turned into tackle Robert Brewster and defensive end Victor Butler. That was one of a series of moves that in hindsight, look poor.
"That’s where they get in trouble," Broaddus said of not trusting the overall board and making too many moves. "If you go back to the 2009 draft, they sat there and they had LeSean McCoy with a first-round grade. The problem was, they weren’t willing to take LeSean McCoy. That’s the issue. Don’t windowdress your board. They’re sitting there in the second round and they’ve got LeSean McCoy with a first-round grade on their board. That’s value.
"They did it [got it right] with Sean Lee, they did it with Bruce Carter. They sat there, they took the guy that was on the board that they were supposed to take. Mistakes are made when you jump around on the board.
The Cowboys needs and this year's draft seem to match up perfectly. The question becomes can they make it work?
Color this draft blue ... as in blue-collar. Best position groups in the draft: offensive line and defensive tackle. Safety is good too, with a smattering of linebackers and defensive ends -- though there are no Von Miller-type pass rushers in the draft. Good luck in trading those high picks.
"If you're a playoff team this year, you have to be laughing,'' NFL Network draft czar Mike Mayock said between tape sessions Sunday evening. "First, I don't see much difference between the fifth and 25th picks this year. And I don't really see the immediate difference-makers in the top 10.''
With the Cowboys cap situation, highly unlikely.