Dallas Cowboys News & Notes: Will Cowboys Defense Bounce Back in 2014?

Is Henry Melton the cornerstone to a defensive makeover that will let the Cowboys defense bounce back this season?

Bob's Blob: Cowboys Sign Henry Melton - Bob Sturm
Sturm, as usual, has a slightly more differentiated view on the signing than you'll find in many other places, and suggests the Cowboys "should have a reasonable bounce back defensively in 2014."

Will it make them a power on defense? Of course not. In fact, losing Hatcher and adding Melton likely can at best be a "break even" from a season to season perspective. But, getting younger and replenishing on good contracts is what this is all about. They still have time to do more in free agency (I think Spencer can be had at a very similar price on a 1-year deal) and then go invest in defensive help up high in the draft. Add that to getting Bruce Carter and Morris Claiborne up to their skill levels (which is what coaching is all about) and you can see how the Cowboys should have a reasonable bounce back defensively in 2014.

Scouting Report: Melton Must Find 2012 Form In Dallas - Bryan Broaddus, DallasCowboys.com
For that bounce back to happen, Broaddus points out that Melton needs to get back to his 2012 form, not his 2013 form. Fortunately, Melton realizes this and is looking to Rod Marinelli for help:

It was amazing how different Melton’s film was between the two seasons. In talking with him on Wednesday, he spoke about Rod Marinelli working with him to get himself right again, so even in his own mind, he knows that he was a better player and that is the level he needs to play at for this to all work.

Henry Melton signing more than 'nice' free-agent pickup for Cowboys | David Moore, DMN
Moore points out that signing Melton was critical for the "extreme makeover" the Cowboy are undergoing on the defensive line, because Melton is the cornerstone of that makeover. He adds that by signing Melton, the Cowboys will be much more flexible on draft day, as they won't be forced to take a defensive tackle at No. 16 or reach for a defensive end. Moore closes with an underappreciated part of the Melton signing that may be just as important for the defensive bounce back:

And that’s another positive element to this signing. The Cowboys still have $5 million in cap room to supplement the deficiencies in their roster.

Henry Melton on his role Cowboys’ defense - Rainer Sabin, DMN
Sabin provides a few quotes from Henry Melton, who was on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. This one stuck out in particular:

"The under tackle in Marinelli’s scheme is just very disruptive," Marinelli said. "It’s fun. Not a lot of people can do it. You have to be very athletic to make plays while doing it. But it’s fun. You’re never wrong when you’re trying to rush the passer and you’re never wrong when you’re being physical. It’s something that I know and I trust and I believe in when I signed here."

Melton Tells The Fan’s ‘New School’ About Decision To Join Cowboys " - CBS Dallas / Fort Worth
In his first interview since signing with the Cowboys, Henry Melton spoke to 105.3 The Fan about a lot of different topics. You can listen to the whole interview by following the link above. One topic Melton touched on early in the interview were the reasons why he chose the Cowboys.

"It was just a strong connection with Rod (Marinelli),’’ Melton says. "And being at home and close to my family. I wanted to come here.’’

Breaking down Henry Melton's Dallas Cowboys contract - Todd Archer, ESPN
Archer breaks down Melton's contract in detail, and let me assure you, it is a sweet, sweet deal.

The Cowboys have a deal that is the ultimate "prove it," concept. If Melton plays like he did in 2012 when he earned Pro Bowl honors, then he will be paid. If he doesn't, then the Cowboys maintain financial flexibility.

"I didn't have to be talked into [the contract] at all," Melton said. "I knew what was out there. The ACL scares a lot of teams and a lot of people. You can come back great from it. That's something that I believe I can do. Just have to buckle down and get physically and mentally ready and train my butt off just to be ready to go."

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Do Dallas Cowboys have road map to Anthony Spencer deal now? - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archer wonders whether Melton's contract may be a template for a future deal with Anthony Spencer, especially since both players have the same agent.

Sean Lee of Dallas Cowboys cleared for offseason workouts - Calvin Watkins, ESPN Dallas
Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Sean Lee, who missed the final three games of the 2013 season with a torn ligaments in his neck, has been cleared for offseason workouts, a source told ESPNDallas.com.

Brandon Weeden: 'I've got something to prove' with Cowboys | Mike Fisher, FOX Sports
Weeden is excited to start with a clean slate in Dallas after an up-and-down time spent in Cleveland and is looking forward to learning from both Romo and Orton.

"One thing I haven't really had in Cleveland is a veteran guy that has been playing the position for a long time to sit back and learn from," said Weeden, cut from the Browns and now under contract in Dallas at a no-risk total of $1.23 million for the two seasons. "I've got two, with Tony and Kyle. Sit back, be a sponge, really dive in, and try to become a better player."

Jeremiah: Aaron Donald will be better pro than Timmy Jernigan - NFL.com
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah thinks Timmy Jernigan will be the first defensive tackle off the board in the NFL draft, but there's a strong chance Aaron Donald could have the better pro career.

Scout's Notebook: Finding Pass Rushers - Philadelphiaeagles.com
This is on the Eagles mothership, but it's still worth a look: This video assembles a lot of well known NFL Draft analysts who talk about what teams look for when they evaluate defensive edge players or pass rushers at the collegiate level, and how to project them to the NFL.

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