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Dallas Cowboys News & Notes: Offense Needs To Fix 3rd Down Performance

Latest Cowboys headlines: Cowboys' biggest area for improvement: 3rd down efficiency; Terrance Williams is primed for a breakout year. Brandon Carr says Cowboys are "on the cusp of something great."

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys' biggest area for improvement: 3rd down efficiency - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archer headlines his weekly mailbag with a question about how critical it is for the Cowboys to improve 3rd down efficiency.

To me this is the biggest area in which the Cowboys need to improve. They converted just 35 percent of their third-down opportunities. The Cowboys scored a lot of points (27.4 a game) but they couldn't stay on the field. That was surprising, although I realize the more you score, the less plays you run. But that was the lowest percentage by far since the Cowboys adopted Jason Garrett's offense. The lowest before last season was 39.4 percent in 2011. In 2012, they converted 43.9 percent of the time, which was the highest in Garrett's era. Last season's offseason focus was improving in the red zone, and the Cowboys did that. This season the improvement has to come on third down. That is the money down for offense and defense. That is where there could have been some disconnect in Bill Callahan not knowing the offense as well. Scott Linehan won't have that issue this year. It must be better in 2014 for a variety of reasons, but mostly to keep the defense off the field as much as possible.

Where’s The Pass Rush Going To Come From?
The staff writers try to predict where the pressure is going to come from in 2014. Head on over there for their complete take, here's a quick summary:

  • Kavner: "Everywhere." Crawford and Mincey lead the team in sacks, but no one achives double-digits.
  • Helman: All players at the 3-technique spot should combine for double digit sacks for the line to work.
  • Eatman: Eight or more sacks from Lawrence
  • Broaddus: Spread the pressure among the front seven, like the Seahawks did last year.

A Look At The DTs -
The run through all eight defensive tackles and what each of them did in 2013. Broaddus concludes with his take of the entire DT group.

This group has a chance to have a really nice one-two punch with Henry Melton and Terrell McClain inside. Tyrone Crawford will also see some action as well in the nickel packages and some base looks as well. Keep an eye on the progress of Davon Coleman and Ken Bishop as well. Both of these rookies really were impressive when I had a chance to study them off their college tape in this past draft. Veterans Nick Hayden and Ben Bass also return to be part of the rotation. Hayden was the starter in 2013 but I believe that you will see a serious challenge from McClain who can not only play with power at that one technique but also has better quickness and the pass rush moves that Hayden does not have. If this defense is going to improve in applying pressure, I believe that it’s going to have to start with these players at tackle.

Are Cowboys fit for training camp? Jason Witten wants to find out Monday | Dallas Morning News
Jason Witten didn't make many friends when he called for a conditioning test in the 100-degree heat of Dallas instead of the breezy 72 degrees of Oxnard. As a result, the Cowboys will run their conditioning tests on Monday, the day before they depart for Oxnard.

"[Jason] Witten thought it would be a great idea to do our conditioning tests in Dallas in 100-degree heat instead of doing that in Oxnard," Brandon Weeden said in an interview Friday with Oklahoma City's Sports Morning on WWLS. "We give him all kinds of hell about that. So we run on Monday morning and the plane leaves for Oxnard on Tuesday. ... I'm going to head down to Dallas Sunday night and get started Monday morning."

"We've got a total of 20 50s [yards] timed," Weeden said. "The skill positions have 8 seconds to run 60 yards, we've got 7 seconds to run 50 yards and the big guys have 6 seconds to run 40 yards, so it's a pretty good sprint. So 10 of those with a three minute-break and 10 more."

Utilizing Advanced Stats to Identify 16 Breakout Receivers | Fantasy Football
John Paulsen looks at Fantasy Points / Target (FP/T) to identify efficient receivers who were underutilized last year. Assuming such a player maintains his healthy FP/T and will see his role expand in 2014, that player should be primed for a breakout year. Case in point: Terrance Williams.

With Miles Austin basically sidelined from Week 4 to Week 10, Williams was the #12 WR in fantasy, racking up 24 catches for 438 yards and five TDs in that seven-game span. In four games where he played at least 80 percent of his teams snaps, he averaged 11.0 FP (#15 WR numbers). In eight games where he played at least 70 percent of the snaps, he averaged 9.0 FP (#22 WR numbers). This resulted in the #20 FP/T (1.40). He faded upon Austin’s return to starter’s snaps, but showed enough in his rookie season to make him an intriguing middle-round pick in 2014. With Austin gone, the path is clear for a breakout season from Williams.

NFL draft advisory board to change feedback system for college underclassmen -
After an all-time high 107 underclassmen declared for this year’s NFL draft, and 45 went undrafted, the NFL’s College Advisory Committee has changed some of its policies to encourage more players to stay in school.

In the past, underclassmen had been given five grades: As high as the first round; as high as the second round; as high as the third round; no potential to go in the first three rounds; And no potential to be drafted. That will change to three grades: first round, second round, or neither, which basically means "stay in school".

Brandon Carr Interview: We're on the cusp of something great" -
Brandon Carr was in the UK for a PR tour to promote the NFL's international series. Our friends from caught up with Carr and did a nice interview with him. Here's an excerpt of what he said:

Q: Do you feel we're rebuilding or on the cusp of something great?

Brandon Carr: I still think we're on the cusp. We've added new faces both older and the younger guys the rookies. We've still got the core of our team. Our core guys are in the system and still there. It's a mentaltiy change. Having belief that we can get that extra stop in the 4th quarter. That comes with going out there and doing it. Start believing in yourself and you can go out and execute it. We want to start having fun, then we can cause a bit of chaos. You've got to have fun, and that comes from in the week- being on cue with your playbook, asking questions, practice, hitting everything in the way it should be hit. So when the lights come on there's no skipping beats.

Transatlanticism: When a German blogger quotes an interview by a British website in a post targeted at an American audience.

Goodell surprised by 'tremendous demand' for NFL football in London -
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell thinks a team permanently based in Europe is 15-20 years away, although 'it could be five or 10.' Knowing the NFL, there's no reason to fear that they won't surprise with ruthless efficiency once they get going with this.

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