Yes, NFL season... I missed you.
As we enter the final two days before the first training camp practice, I figured we'd take a step back to reflect on the offseason that we shared together here on BTB. People may not know this, but the offseason is normally the period when BTB and I assume football blogs in general, get the highest influx of new community members. After the season concludes, fans tend to venture out, to see what else might be out there to get the best coverage of their favorite teams. As such, we probably have a boatload of readers that have never experienced a regular season with the group here.
When we write, it's hard not to assume that our audience isn't completely made out of the folks that hang out in the comment sections, read everything that's posted within an hour of published time, and generally live and breathe BTB. There are some that skim, others that lurk infrequently. That means, there are some that might have missed some of the best we brought to the table since New Years.
So in that vein, I've decided that the final Community Friday will cover what might have been overlooked. I asked the front page writers to each give me their favorite three articles that they personally penned this offseason and will present them, as well as mine, to you below. Your mission, to let us know your favorite reads from the offseason. Whether it be a front page article, or something that you read OR wrote in the FanPosts, drop a link and a blurb in the comments. As you contribute, keep in mind... you're one step closer to the first official practice of the season! Cheers.
I set out to write an article to cover what I wanted to see happen over the offseason. It took three articles of background information to finally get to the meat of the concept. Once I got there, I laid out 14 personnel moves, of which (with the recent release of Vickers) Dallas actually did the first 10.
I took to the video camera to try and work out my indecision over what I thought Dallas should do with Anthony Spencer. i examined his role on a four-man line, propensity for "clutch" sacks and how he was only used sparingly as a rusher in 2011. Have a look.
I love the Cowboys. I love music. Marriage made in heaven. I assigned some of my favorite hip hop verses of all time to seven players that will be fighting for something come Sunday. The verses, to me, are perfect descrptions of their individual plights.
At the end of the day, if the Cowboys want to succeed in 2013, they'll have to fix their passer rating differential. How they go about that, via an improved pass rush, improved secondary or perhaps even an improved offense, is largely a philosophical question.
The Cowboys played like a team competing for a Top Five pick in the draft and like a team competing for the playoffs, often in the same game, which made being a Cowboys fan an extremely frustrating experience. But the performance in the second half of games at least gives reason for some hope.
The Cowboys entered the season expecting decent O-line play. Not great, not good, but okay. But then injuries forced the Cowboys into an uncommonly high amount of personnel changes along the O-line. This lack of continuity may have had a lot more to do with the O-line's performance in 2012 than is widely acknowledged.
If not the best post, then certainly the biggest splash. A look at, and analysis of, the Cowboys most recent draft board, reconstructed from stills taken from inside the Dallas war room.
A look at what may be a new wrinkle in the Dallas offense, particularly in no-huddle and two-minute situations. The piece delves into the history of, and the advantages offered by the method of calling plays developed by Ron Erhardt and Ray Perkins.
A historical examination of the evolution of the 4-3 defense, specifically as it was adapted by Jimmy Johnson to stop the Oklahoma wishbone's option offense by allowing players to "one-gap" and penetrate, which is again necessary against the NFL's read-option schemes.
A first look at why Kiffin might have been a good hire - before everyone seemed to fall in love with him.
Just a representative sample of a long-running campaign I have waged for truth, justice, and the Cowboy Way.
"I gave my honest opinion of the events that unfolded in the first round and the eventual selection of Frederick. My grade was met with backlash from the fans, but it made for great conversation and talk. I love it when posts generate a lot of conversation and this one definitely put the icing on the cake."
"My last update of the big board had some questionable and favorable rankings. These boards are difficult to assemble and time consuming, but it's fun looking down the road seeing how your own personal evaluations stack up after we've seen what these players can do."
"I hate to go all three draft posts, but these posts generated the most buzz and were the most relevant to my coverage this offseason. Considering I have Floyd ranked as my third rated prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft, this scouting report post could be viewed as a disaster down the road if he indeed becomes a bust. But if he does become the type of player I wrote about in the article, then it shows that I know a little bit about evaluating players."
"Of course, the same can be said for the rest of my scouting report article the past three years......"
This is an easy one for me. Putting out the roster builder in the offseason has become one of my bigger moments of pride, and I'm sure that the other writers who have helped to go through the data with me feel somewhat the same way.The most recent version (up-to-date through early July) can be found here.
This wasn't news in any way, but putting together play diagrams in photoshop amused me for days, and I hope the community enjoyed it as well. I still have the template images I created for this, should the occasion arise to use them during the season.
I've never been one to call myself a draft expert. I did, however, enjoy projecting a receiver in the first round while the world was begging for linemen, and it seems that if the Vikings hadn't snatched up Patterson two picks before us I would've been right. I'm happy to have T Williams, though, and enjoyed the discussions that this post generated.Honorable mention: everything I wrote about Kiffin's playbook.
My first post as a FPW also our first chalkboard look going in-depth into the base coverage of Monte Kiffin's legendary defense. This post will always be a favorite for these reasons.
My scouting report on the Cowboys 1st rounder. Admittedly my first real look at the player, and I am pleased with the player. He's not perfect but over drafted or not he's got a chance to be a rock in the middle for a decade. This can't be discounted.
One of my favorite football men, Mike Leach talks about balance on offense, not from a run vs pass perception, but from a ball distribution perception. This is a philosophy I learned from research on Leach's offense as well as listening to clinic talks from he and many of his protege's.
I know the NFL is a passing league now, but even so, there has to be some semblance of a decent running game for an offense to truly work. The Cowboys have the running back for it if DeMarco Murray stays healthy. But will the offensive line play along, and will the offensive coordinator stick with it?
Way back in April, I was hoping that after Tony Romo got his new contract the Cowboys would give him some more control over the offense. I love the way the Cowboys and Romo play when Tony is running the hurry-up, calling plays, directing things at the line of scrimmage. I re-visited the subject briefly only recently, looking for clues that this may happen.
Before the draft, all I wanted was some help along the interior portion of the line. Back then, I was dreaming of Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack. Of course, those guys were gone, and I did get some interior line help. It was just from a guy I didn't expect at all, Travis Frederick. We'll see how he pans out.
Now, it's your turn. If you're an author, link us to the work you're the most proud of from the offseason. If you are just here to read and comment, let us know what your favorite comment is of the offseason.