After a day off to nurse hangovers and watch college football, we return to the daily dose of pertinent Cowboys links. As tends to be my operational model, I'll work historically, with a look back, a review of what's happening at present, and conclude with a brief look to the future...
The Sturminator's final "Decoding Callahan" post of the season (and, given Callahan's tenuous position with the team, perhaps ever) takes a closer look at season-long offensive trends, specifically performance on each down. According to Sturm, the Cowboys were excellent on first and second downs, which leads to puzzling questions:
In a season where the Cowboys were 2nd in the entire NFL on 1st down and 2nd in the entire NFL on 2nd downs, they still were near the bottom of the league in 10-play drives (29th), plays per scoring drive (29th), rushes + completions (29th), and maybe most notably, finished below league average in yards per game with just 341 yards per contest (the league averages 348 and playoff teams are at 377). How can this make sense? How can they do so well in early downs and distances, and yet underperform as an offense overall?
Well, you likely already know. Behold, 3rd Downs.
The Monthership's in-house superscout reviews film of rookie linebacker DeVonte Holloman's work against the Eagles, and comes away impressed by his patience, ability to read the Eagles' complex scheme, speed and quickness. This bodes well for the future of a unit that remains shrouded in uncertainty (and piles yet more evidence on O.C.C.'s contention that the 2013 rookie class was the team's best since 2005).
Two Grantland writers, Chris Ryan (an Eagles fan) and Andrew Sharp (a life-long Cowboys supporter), share offbeat tidbits about Week 17's tilt. The best part, by far? A collection of "Kyle Orton looks like..." Tweets.
Bryant follows Roy Williams (the WR), Jon Kitna, Marcus Spears and Jason Witten in being recognized for his accessibility to the DFW media. This should help alleviate the "Dez is immature" narratives; as we know, nobody is as subjective in their objectivity as sportswriters.
When they're not busy doling out awards, the ESPN Dallas guys gather to offer some thoughts on the Cowboys' 2013 campaign. There's a lot of interesting stuff here. Want a taste? Howzabout this: Sean Lee led the league in interception return yards, with 174.
Moore opines that Jerry Jones' investment in Garrett is more than monetary; it's emotional. How so? Because he was so green when he was hired, Garrett presents a potential narrative: the coach that Jones "trained"; if he wins, it will affirm Jerry as a prescient, football visionary. Consequently, Garrett will be given every opportunity to succeed.
Jerruh articulates what many of us have said about the team: that 8-8, while disappointing, is pretty darn good given the fact that the team's front seven was largely peopled by the equivalent of camp bodies:
...when I look at the challenges that we had, frankly, and the numbers of players we had to bring on the roster and get on the field in a relatively short amount of time that for the most time weren’t a part of rosters or maybe aren’t going to be a part of rosters this year, I think we did a pretty good job getting the team out there under the circumstances.
One has to wonder what Garrett and this coaching staff might have accomplished has this not been the case. That wonderment is what has given him another year in big D. On the other hand...
The title pretty much says it all, doesn't it? But wait...
With the ink dried on Lovie Smith's contract as the new Tampa Bay head coach, the rumor mill has begun to churn regarding his assistants. It looks like Cowboys defensive line coach Rod Marinelli - the man who MacGyvered together a bunch of misfits with baling wire and chewing gum, somehow pulling career-best performances out of most of them - has emerged as the DC favorite and looks like he might leave after one season in Dallas, even though he's under contract until 2014.
Not so fast, say the Cowboys.
Marinelli is under contract to the Cowboys in 2014. The Cowboys could let him go if they choose, but they have blocked Joe DeCamillis and Tony Sparano in recent years from taking jobs with different teams while under contract. It is possible they could come up with some sort of compensation package to let Marinelli go.
But the feeling is the Cowboys do not want to lose Marinelli. He was forced to work with 19 different defensive linemen in 2013 because of injuries and poor play. The Cowboys higher ups liked what he brought to that group and defense in particular.
With Monte Kiffin’s status up in the air, Marinelli could be a candidate to be the Cowboys’ coordinator if they went that route.
In his weekly set of questions, Archer offers some thoughtful questions on the Cowboys coaching staff; Jason Witten's (cruel) fate; the timing of Tony Romo's back surgery, Dan Bailey's contract and the emergence of Kyle Wilber. Good stuff, and worth a click.
Speaking of contracts, Archer follows up his ruminations on Bailey's contract with a story detailing that the Cowboys best defensive lineman in 2013 will look to cash in big-time, something he failed to do the first time he was a free agent, in 2011. For Hatch, its all about the Benjamins...