Dallas Cowboys News & Notes: The Best Defense Is A Good Offense?

Tom Pennington

Hump Day Links!

If Martin Pans Out, Defense Just Got Better, Too - Nick Eatman, DallasCowboys.com
"The best defense is a good offense" seems to be the prevailing thought in Eatman's post.

Let’s be honest, those Cowboys defenses in the 1990s were pretty good, but never truly dominant. They had their moments, but to me, the best defense was a result of Emmitt Smith and that crew eating up yards and the clock late in games. And that’s where Martin and this offensive line comes back into the mix. If the Cowboys can simply run the football, especially late in games, it will help this defense dramatically.

Cowboys' play-action passing could have used a boost last year, Witten says - Carlos Mendez, Star-Telegram
Jason Witten believes the play-action game will be a point of emphasis heading into the new season.

"Too many times, our play-action game, we needed to do better," Witten said at his youth football camp in Grand Prairie over the weekend. "Too many times, we didn’t get the big chunks that we needed as an offense. That’s an area to focus on."

Dallas Cowboys like size in receivers - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archer runs down the receivers chart and notices that Dez Bryant (6-2), Terrance Williams (6-2), Devin Street (6-3), L'Damian Washington (6-4), and Chris Boyd (6-4) are all tall dudes.

"What we want to bring in here are the best players," coach Jason Garrett said. "We evaluate them as players first, but having said that, you want guys with the right measurable. That’s size. That’s length. That’s speed. We think it’s important to bring guys in here who as you try to develop them can turn into something you want. There’s a lot of smaller receivers in the league who are really good. There are smaller receivers on our team who are really good. It’s not only big guys who can be successful at that position. [But] it’s a competitive league, a physical league. There are big cornerbacks in the league."

Jason Witten ‘proud’ of Gavin Escobar for getting stronger, improving as a blocker | Dallas Morning News
Witten is proud of all the offseason work Gavin Escobar has put in and sees him "on the right path."

"We know he can run the seams and can do some things in the passing game, but we need him to be solid in there [on the line]," Witten said. "He’s worked hard. To see that package grow for him and being out on the field is going to be a lot better because he can now do both."

"I’m proud of him. I know he’s worked hard. It’s paying off for him and I think his role will continue to grow. We need that. We need that not only in the slot, but we need that other guy up the middle."

Dallas Cowboys TE Gavin Escobar one to watch - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archer quotes from an ESPN Insider piece that features Gavin Escobar as one of the 10 breakout players from the 2013 draft:

Nine catches for Escobar probably wasn't the production the Cowboys had in mind for him as a rookie second-rounder, but there's plenty of reason for optimism. Some scouts believed Escobar had a ceiling as a pass-catcher that came close to Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, and that's something Dallas will work to tap into in 2014. Escobar is still clearly a reserve to Jason Witten and must improve as a blocker, but his length and catch radius project to increased development with a full offseason at his disposal.

A Month Later, Still No Sign of Kyle Orton | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
The Dallas Cowboys are beginning to sound a little less optimistic about Kyle Orton, writes Scott Crisp, and adds that in the event Orton retires, the Cowboys would move on with Brandon Weeden as the No. 2 quarterback.

Cowboys Sign Last Seventh-Rounder; Four Picks To Sign - Nick Eatman, DallasCowboys.com
Ken Bishop, Ben Gardner, Will Smith, Ahmad Dixon, and Terrance Mitchell are now all under contract.

Seasons will hinge on these players in the spotlight. | SportsonEarth.com
Mike Tanier proposes the "2014 All-Hinge Team." To make the team, a player must have the whole 2014 season riding on him. For better or worse, Tanier writes, these players will become the "story" of their teams' 2014 season. For the Cowboys, George Selvie makes the team.

DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher are gone. Anthony Spencer is still walking on crutches and expressing serious concern about being able to start the season. DeMarcus Lawrence is a promising rookie, but a rookie nonetheless, and Jeremy Mincey is a wave defender. Selvie is the only defensive end with any pass-rush track record who will participate fully in training camp, and his "track record" consists exclusively of high-effort sacks produced in the first half of last season. Selvie is no Ware or Spencer, but if he can hustle his way to eight or nine sacks and some running-game disruption, tackle Henry Melton and Lawrence or Mincey can provide the rest of a credible pass rush. If Selvie maxed out last year, opponents are going to have lots of time to throw against the Cowboys.

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2011 NFL Draft Revisited: Cowboys had sixth best draft - CBSSports.com
Three seasons removed from the draft, Dane Brugler ranks the 2011 draft classes for each team. The Cowboys come in sixth overall on Brugler's list. The remaining NFC East all finish in the second half of Brugler's list. Washington ranks 22nd, the Giants rank 25th, the Eagles 27th.

Too much, too soon: Are there too many underclassmen in the draft? | National Football Post
Greg Gabriel takes a close look at why the number of underclassmen declaring for the draft has jumped from an average of about 50 per year to 75 in 2013 and 102 in 2014, and why many underclassmen with hopes of becoming premium draft picks end up hugely disappointed.

Report: April 30 'gaining traction' as start date for 2015 NFL Draft - CBSSports.com
According to Sal Paolantonio of ESPN the league is looking at April 30 as a potential start date for next year's draft. That would place the draft in between Easter and Mother's Day, make the NFL happy by keeping part of the draft in May, and gives fans and teams a week back.

Super Bowl LII headed to Minnesota - NFL.com
For a while, the Vikings were one of the lead candidates to move to Los Angeles. Funny how that goes sometimes.

The NFL's latest crisis: Cheerleader lawsuits? | Shutdown Corner - Yahoo Sports
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the fifth NFL team to be hit with a lawsuit over unfair labor practices this season by members of their cheerleading squads this year. Taking into account that six NFL teams find themselves in the Hall Of Shame for not having any official cheerleading squads at all (CHI, GB, DET, PIT, CLE, NYG), almost 20% of cheerleading squads (5 of 26) are presently suing their teams. That's a disgrace.

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Cumulative Effect: Hitting the QB | ProFootballFocus.com
When you hit quarterbacks, they become gun shy. The more often you hit them, the more chances of success for the offense on the next plays decrease.

A quarterback’s completion percentage drops to 37.8% when they are hit compared to 63.0% when they aren’t. Similarly, their interception rate jumps up to 4.8% from 2.7%.

Trading future first-round picks: Good to win now, bad to win later? - CBSSports.com
Will Brinson looks at a decade's worth of trading away future first-round picks to see whether or not it's a good move in the short- and long-term. To do so, he looked at all the teams that traded away a first-round pick for a player and mapped out those teams' win-loss percentage over the next five years. His findings:

Teams that deal away a future first-round pick, on average, improve immediately the year after and pretty substantially. Teams that trade for additional talent by using a first-round pick improve by 1.6 wins on average the next season. (7.5 wins to 9.1 wins). However, there's a pretty significant dip on average the following year, down to 6.9 wins.

Snap-Weighted Age: 2013 NFL Rosters - Football Outsiders.com
Your 2013 Cowboys were the eighth youngest team in the league, according to Scott Kacsmar, who weighted every player's age by the number of snaps played to arrive at the snap-weighted age for each team in 2013. Eagles are 16th, Giants 27th, Washington is 30th - in a young man's game, you don't want to be the team with all the old dudes.

Scott Linehan talks run/pass balance - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Not a lot of stats in this one, but Linehan does provide some perspective on why teams that win a lot, run a lot (and not the other way around).

"You start with running it effectively," Linehan said. "You achieve balance in the NFL by playing good football throughout three quarters, gaining that lead and then you've got a lead going into the fourth quarter. The teams that run the ball the best, that run the ball balanced, generally are getting a lot of their damage done in that late third, early fourth quarter."

"You get behind the score then you say you want to do (run the ball). You don't want to abandon it, but you're going to lean toward throwing the ball a little more. So that's to me, I think, the thing with the offensive line, that's a no-brainer. This is a great young front. Added a great piece to it. It was already an offensive line that was really meshing and playing well. We don't have to have this certain look to run the ball. We feel like we can line up and say hey, if they're going to drop guys into the box, we still feel like we've got the guys that can get it done. And then that helps everything. That opens everything on the outside of the field."

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How to stop autoplaying ads, videos and media on web pages in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer - PC Advisor
There's has been a big increase in websites that host autoplaying videos. This tutorial show you how to stop videos and media from autoplaying when you open a web page in Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer. Flashblock your way to happiness.

Make all tables sortable
And while we're on the topic of public service announcements, does it annoy you when you come across a webpage with a data table, only to find that the data in the table is not sortable? Take the example of the snap-weighted age table linked to in the Football Outsiders article further up: Nice table, but not sortable.

Not anymore! Here's how to make all tables on your current page sortable: MAKE TABLES SORTABLE. Drag the link to your bookmarks bar and simply click on it every time you come across a page with a table, and all tables on that page instantly become sortable when you click on a column header (Works for Firefox, haven't tested it anywhere else). It's magic.

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