The always informative Bryan Broaddus answers three pressing questions for the Cowboys. The one I found most interesting wasfilling in personnel for the 4-3 defense
Like what you have at Mike with Sean Lee and Bruce Carter at Will. DeMarcus Ware is a great fit as the right defensive end and if Anthony Spencer doesn’t come back at left defensive end, Tyrone Crawford physically will be able to fill that role. The questions will be inside at the one and the three and how does Ratliff, Hatcher, Spears, Lissemore, Callaway, Price and Bass all fit together. I don’t see going the free agent route to fill these spots but the draft will offer some opportunity with maybe [Sharrif] Floyd of Florida, [Sheldon] Richardson of Missouri, [Kawaan] Short of Purdue, [Sylvester] Williams of North Carolina. Any one of these kids could step in and be ready to play. These defensive line positions can stretch a little bit which should help the cause if the club decides to go offensive line in the first round.
The Cowboys definitely have deficiencies along the offensive line. Protecting Tony Romo has been an issue. One way to compensate is to run more draws, screens, counters, etc. Offensive plays that take advantage of an over-aggressive defense. Unfortunately, Jason Garrett isn't big on those types of plays. The mothership has an article with some interesting Cowboys stats, including this nugget:
4. The Cowboys ran only 24 screen passes and six counters all year. Head coach Jason Garrett has never been a big screen guy, but heading into 2012, I figured the rate of counters would remain steady or even increase from past seasons. The Cowboys averaged 7.2 yards-per-carry on counters from 2009 to 2011, but we saw just six of them last year. It’s possible that the new offensive line personnel was the reason for the decline, but don’t forget the Cowboys ran and had much success on counters with physical interior linemen like Leonard Davis and Andre Gurode. As far as screen passes, you could very well see more of them next year. Screens could be an effective tool to combat ineffective pass protection. Only eight of the Cowboys’ 24 screen passes in 2012 were to running backs.
Mike Jenkins remaining with the Cowboys seems unlikely. It's too bad, because he can be a quality corner. But given his desire to start, the likelihood that someone will pay him to do so and the Cowboys cap issues, it's all but certain he'll move on.
Why Jenkins is likely gone: Jenkins, a 2008 first-round draft choice, won’t likely be back with the Cowboys because of the role he was reduced to in 2012. Jenkins believes he should be starting in the NFL and wants to play for a team that will put him in a more prominent role. Jenkins will seek a long-term contract this off-season that gives him a chance to start. He underwent reconstructive right shoulder surgery last off-season, and that won’t help his case.
But another reason he won't return is that the new 4-3 scheme requires corners who are willing to come up and be sure tacklers. And we've seen that Jenkins isn't exactly enamored with that kind of physical style.
Will Bill Callahan call the plays? Unknown. But he might be taking a bigger role anyway on the offensive side of the ball.
Garrett talked this week about giving Callahan chances to coach more of the offense, beyond just the offensive line. It's one reason the Cowboys brought in a former Callahan player, Frank Pollack, as assistant offensive line coach.
"I understand what he's talking about," Callahan said of Garrett's idea. "It's not a secret in terms of getting up in front of the unit and talking a little bit more, maybe introducing a different area of play to the unit. What I've done in my career in terms of run installation, I've gotten up in front of the unit. I've gotten up in front of the unit when it comes to putting in the goal line, the short yardage, we're talking about protections -- I've addressed the unit in that fashion.
"It's not anything that I'm not accustomed to or that I haven't done. I've done a lot of it here, and maybe as we go forward, we do a little bit more, a little bit less. But we'll wait and see."
As always, Jerry Jones likes to travel in style. So check out his new bus.