It's week two of the voluntary offseason training activities for the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately, the media is not allowed inside the session so reports of who is doing well will be left to coachspeak once the practices are over.
Dallas certainly has many moving parts, as several players are taking the opportunity afforded by injury to try and work their way up the depth charts. Other players, specifically those along the offensive line, have been shuffled in an effort to maximize their effectiveness.
Tyron Smith protected the front side of Tony Romo last year to great results. His detractors, people that look at stats in a vacuum without watching games will try to tell you that the eight sacks he gave up to opponents is not a healthy number. Anyone who watched the majority of his snaps like most of us here on BTB will tell you a different story; that Smith was downright dominant outside of those eight failures. He deserved every ounce of recognition he received from evaluating eyes such as Pro Football Focus.
Well, Smith is moving to the left to protect Tony Romo's blind side; something that wasn't done nearly up to par by Doug Free last season. New coach Bill Callahan is extremely impressed by what he has seen. For someone with the history that Callahan has in football, to hear the accolades he heaps on Smith is rather impressive and hope-inducing.
New Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan said Tyron Smith hasn't had any hiccups in making the move from right tackle to left tackle this off-season, adding that the position is "very natural" for him...
For more than a decade, Callahan has coached several talented NFL offensive linemen, but he said he's "never had anybody like" Smith.
"He is just very strong, very lean, very explosive," Callahan said, "and he can carry those traits over to the left side because of his athleticism."
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Despite all the attention being afforded Mike Jenkins' business decision to skip voluntary workouts and the trade demand/rumors circulating; it's the power moves Dallas made to bump him down the depth chart that will truly determine the secondary's success.
Dallas' signing of FA Brandon Carr and drafting of LSU stud Morris Claiborne gives the Cowboys their leading men for the next five years. There's a lot of responsibility that goes with that acknowledgment. Coming from different places, both men are facing high expectations.
For $50.1 million, Carr is no longer considered a draft-day steal out of Grand Valley State (fifth round in 2008). He's now among the highest-paid players at his position, seen as a remedy to the Cowboys' defensive inconsistencies over the last two seasons...
"I'm going to continue to be the same person I've always been," Carr said. "I don't feel like I have to change, but of course, on the field elevate my game and take it to the next level. But that was my goal before I even signed with the Cowboys."
The expectations for Claiborne may be higher. When a team ranks only the best QB prospect of the last 15 years ahead of you; they certainly expect a show.
Claiborne was the 2011 Thorpe Award winner, recognized as the nation's best collegiate defensive back, and was the consensus best defensive player in the draft. The Cowboys rated him second on their draft board behind first overall pick Andrew Luck and jumped eight spots to grab him at No. 6.
"I don't care if you're the first guy picked at corner or if you're the last guy, you're still a rookie, and NFL quarterbacks are going to look over there and say, 'Let's try this rookie and see if he's ready to play today,'" secondary coach Jerome Henderson said. "They're going to consistently come after him. He's got to be strong-minded and he's got to deal with that on a week-in and week-out basis. So we have a lot of work to do to get him ready for that."
For now, Claiborne's March wrist surgery is limiting him to mental reps, watching Carr and Scandrick and asking as many questions as possible.
"Some of the things when you're on the field, you're missing," Claiborne said. "When you're off the field you can actually sit back and watch and stand next to the coaches and ask them everything you have to ask them, watching what they want so by the time I come in I'll know what those guys expect. I think it'll even be better for me."
One of my favorite non-Cowboys sites checks in with an article reprint from 2008 that I felt had to be brought to the masses attention. They take a look at not the famous Ice Bowl, but the NFL championship game from the year prior, 1966 between the Cowboys and the Packers. They use the game to architect a framework around discussing Dallas' role in the expansion of pro sports throughout the south and the start of an NFL transition towards the modern era.
Unfortunately, it ends with a tribute to Bart Starr, but we'll forgive them that trespass.
In a recent poll, it was proven that the Cowboys sit atop the popularity poll amongst NFL fans.
Of course, this will undoubtedly kick off the agitating summer discussion led by ESPN on whether or not Dallas is still America's Team. Of course, I have to reply to every article "What do the television ratings tell you, moron?"; and then edit my response because I'm supposed to conduct myself with professionalism.
Take a few minutes and check out the great read about Cowboys history.
We went through this the last couple of years and CB Orlando Scandrick hasn't changed his position. He does not want to play safety. Although I would like players to be more flexible, "I'll do whatever my team needs", I say force him to move if that's what you think is best for the team. However, nothing has indicated that the team is actually considering this; as it was a Wade Phillips regime thought process when it all began.
FO describes a defeat as: "any play (tackle, assist, pass defensed, interception, or forced fumble) that does one of three things: 1) causes a turnover, 2) causes a loss of yardage, 3) stops conversion on third or fourth down."
They state the obvious, almost every sack is a defeat; yet also warn later in the article "If you had only one stat to represent the best defensive players in the league, you would not use Defeats"; so keep in mind this metric is just a tool in the toolshed of performance evaluation.
Dallas' DeMarcus Ware, behind his 19 sacks, finished tied for eighth in overall defeats for 2011. The leader was Jared Allen, who also happened to lead the league in sacks with 22.
However, Ware topped the Pass Defeats list with 24, one ahead of Jared; so in this metric, one could still say that Ware outperformed Allen in the passing game. If you're into that whole meaningless stat braggadocio type of thing. *Looks in mirror*
Need a refresher course on the different alignments for the defensive line? PFF put one together for you, using current players as the prototypes for each of the techniques. Not surprisingly, no Cowboys player was used as an example, but that doesn't mean the article is without merit. Give it a whirl.