Let's start with yesterday's biggest NFL news:
Don't even bother with the story; it doesn't matter. Instead, go directly to the comments section and experience maximum enjoyment.
In his usual review of doings in the NFC East, Helman weighs in on the latest ESPN-driven hot topic: DeSean Jackson to the Cowboys. He articulates the dream of the kind of casual fans who only know about three players from every team:
What if Jackson lined up on the opposite side of the Cowboys’ offense from Dez Bryant? What if Bryant and Terrance Williams lined up outside, with the speedy Jackson in the slot to take advantage of mismatches? What if Jackson terrified secondaries into dropping deep, opening up the middle of the field for Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar?
He proceeds to wake folks up from this dream, citing money (they have to pay Dez, too) as the primary reason why D-Jax makes no sense. To my mind, there's also the fact that he's not really very good any more...
In a review of the big doings at the owners' meetings, Kirwin points out, among other things, that owners are exercising increased prudence in free agency, offering mostly one-year deals (more than 75 free agents have signed such deals thus far). This might pertain to the Cowboys as they seek to wrap up more of their young talent. To wit:
The always reliable Archer point looks at the contracts doled out to free agent running backs and concludes that the Cowboys could follow suit, giving DeMarco Murray a three-year deal at market price and still have the necessary semolians to retain Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant.
In addition, Archer's response to a mailbag question suggests that he's been reading a lot of Tom Ryle's articles:
I think the closest thing to a general manager the Cowboys have is Stephen Jones. Jerry Jones has the title, but he's not involved in the day-to-day negotiations and roster building as much as Stephen Jones. To me if he's out of town when Henry Melton visits because of non-football business, then that's a sign Stephen is the guy. It would do Jerry Jones a ton if he didn't have the GM title because he's not a GM the way most GMs are GMs. Stephen Jones isn't a GM the way most GMs are GMs either but he's closer to it.
Machota collects a bunch of "offseason grades" (on what, the first two weeks of free agency?) from so-called "experts." Not surprisingly, the Cowboys get poor marks; the highest grade they receive is a D+. For my money, I'd like my experts to be a bit more informed. Here's Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke:
...as the team keeps pushing its higher-valued contracts down the road in a cap sense, one wonders when the Joneses will be able to rebuild.
Um, yeah. Not to worry, Cowboys fans: remember all those years the Redskins got A-pluses for their offseasons only to finish 6-10?
Earlier this year, we heard some noise about Jason Garrett devoting more time to the defense in 2014. Now, we get a bit more info, straight from the red-headed horse's mouth. And he wasn't particularly circumspect:
"The best teams in this league, they play better defense than we played," he said at the owners meetings in Orlando this week. "We have to do a better job in that area. So that is an area I have to give my attention to, give my focus to throughout the offseason and as we go forward in OTAs, mini-camp and camp and during the season. We have just got to simply play better over there."
The hiring of Scott Linehan, Garrett goes on to say, is what give him confidence that he can leave the offense in good hands while he shifts his focus. Strange, but we didn't get that same feeling from the RHG about Bill Callahan a year ago, did we?
One of the subjects of Garrett's focus will be cornerback Mo Claiborne, who has yet to fulfill the promise that prompted the team to pay a heft price to obtain his services. His head coach says that the key is health: his 2012 offseason was derailed by wrist surgery, and his season was hampered by a concussion. In 2013, he played with a brace on an injured shoulder and then missed six games because of a hamstring injury.
Broaddus review's Crawford's thus-far checkered career and, piggybacking on what Jason Garrett said about Crawford at the NFL owners' meeting, proposes that the key for the former Boise Stater Bronco will be to find a position, as it will affect his playing weight, which will determine how he goes about the offseason program. Thus the "quick fix."
The Sturminator takes his weekly look at a specific position's worth of draft prospects. his time around, it's the signal callers. Here's his concluding assessment of this year's group:
Bortles is the pick if you want to sleep easy. Manziel is the pick if you like to gamble. Bridgewater is a tier down. In fact, Mettenberger might be better than Bridgewater, were it not for the ACL concerns. Then, David Fales is a guy I really like at the right price. I have not seen the Derek Carr fascination that some have, but I admit I champion the downfield gunner more than most. Then, Garoppolo is 7th out of 7, and there might be a few guys who belong in his class that I did not profile in this batch.
Do hit the link above to read the rest of his observations - especially his meditation in just how difficult and rare it is to find a quality NFL-caliber QB. Great stuff.