I read recently, in one of those nauseating articles on Chip Kelly's "genius," that perhaps his most innovative stroke was to change the weekly schedule, because it helped speed up his players post-game recoveries, enabling them to be fresher late in the year. Well, the Cowboys just eliminated that advantage. The idea was imported to the NFL from the collegiate ranks, largely by Kelly and Jim Harbaugh. As Garrett told reporters:
It’s kind of the college schedule and there are probably a handful of teams who are using it now. Some guys on our staffs have used it on staffs they’ve been on. I’ve just heard some really positive things from a lot of different people about this schedule. I think everybody initially is like, ‘You’re really doing that?’ because it’s different for everybody who’s been in the NFL. But there are so many positives that come from it that people have argued on its behalf. So we just decided to go ahead and do it.
Garrett sounds casual about the shift in this interview, but don't be fooled; this was done with great deliberation. And, although this aspect of the schedule change has been under-reported, it must be seen as part of the entire organization's considerable effort to keep their players healthy.
This story should be seen as one of this season's most important moves.
Over at the DMN Brad Townsend reports Josh Brent had been working with Andre Gurode at the Michael Johnson Performance Athletic-Training Center in McKinney. And, the former Cowboys center reports, Brent is in pretty decent shape:
"He’s looking good," Gurode said of Brent. "Physically strong. Motivated. Very much centered. He’s ready to contribute in any way. He’s been working his butt off. He’s looked very impressive."
The Cowboys are atop Forbes magazine's spots franchise rankings for an eighth consecutive season, having risen in value by $900 million. They are the only NFL team worth more than $3 billion.
My guess? A hell of a lot...
Three words: cramps, recovery, respectively.
In case Romo's absence at practice concerns you, Moore assures us that this is a temporary state:
Head coach Jason Garrett indicated that routine will change once the regular season is underway.
"Again, that’s a couple, three weeks out,’’ Garrett said. "We do anticipate him being able to handle the load of a work week leading up to the game.
Not a lot of shocking material here, but I included it for this passage, a take whose rectitude seems to escape the vast majority of the national media:
Romo puts up winning numbers every year, but his team makes little or no progress. Many fans point at Romo as the cause, but he's the least of Dallas' problems...the reality is the Cowboys' defense is not very good this season, which means this quarterback will probably get way too much of the blame if the team falters.
Any doubt that Romo deserves all the rest he needs is quickly dispelled by Lane, who chronicles the litany of injuries Number Nine has suffered playing behind aging and then incompetent lines. In his conclusion, Lane rightly compares Romo to Don Meredith, who was voted by his fellow players as "the toughest NFL player they’d ever seen." Strangely, Romo has never been similarly valued for his toughness.
Broaddus and Helman answer reader questions; the more pertinent one not being the above headliner, but whether or not Rolando McClain can help the team by week one. The Broad One doesn't think so:
Until McClain gets his conditioning under control, he is not going to help this team. As a coaching staff you can’t start a player if in the back of your mind you are not sure he can finish the game. There is no question of his ability but right now I would have to believe that Kyle Wilber, Justin Durant and Bruce Carter would be the starters opening day.
If Wilber remains as the startign SLB, it might complicate things, as Broaddus inadvertently suggests in the latest edition of his notebook:
I continue to believe this right defensive end position is still unsettled in how this rotation is going to work....A player to keep an eye on for this spot, especially as that nickel rusher is former defensive end Kyle Wilber. Jason Garrett has done nothing but preach about getting his best players on the field regardless of the position and this could be a case where Wilber -- even as productive as he has been at Sam linebacker -- could put his hand down a series or two and play some end until the clubs figures out the availability of Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Lawrence. Keep a close eye on how this plays out and how they use him in this scheme.
If you've been listening to our BTB podcasts, you know that McCool and Rabbs think Wilber is currently the best RDE on the roster. A conundrum, indeed.
After a lackluster rookie campaign, Joseph Randle is looking much better. But don't listen to me (or to T-Mac); go straight to the source, number 21 himself:
I feel like I'm bigger, I'm stronger, I'm smarter, I'm a year smarter in the playbook. I think that's all things that help me play fast. Now, I'm just working on playing fast every play I'm out there. That comes with practice.
As a result of Randle's improvement, this happened:
[Dunbar] and Randle are going to have an important role this year and those are guys that not only do I trust, but the coaches trust," Murray said Wednesday. "Me not wanting to come out last year was because I wasn’t sure if things would go right, but these guys playing the way they play and practice the way they practice, I’m very confident that if I come out they can continue to carry the load and do some great things for us."
Of course, for that to happen, well, this:
JJT argues that emphasizing the run is ultimately in the hands of the guy who has the power to check out of runs at the line of scrimmage. If there is one thing I think hampers Romo, it's that he's slow to trust his other offensive guys. In 2014, he's going to have to believe in the running game even if they have something in the range of seven carries for 15 yards at the end of the first quarter.
The Sturminator gifts us with another excellent post on the Cowboys' shaky defense. This time around, the offers some chilling numbers that substantiate just how poor the Cowboys defense has been when blitzing (which Jerry Jones appeared to call for after the Monday Night debacle against the Bears last December). In 2013, they had the NFL's worst opponent passer rating when blitzing, a horrifying 117.5 (tied for worst all time); to show this was not a one-year aberration, from 2010-13, they also had the worst OPR (107.3; Jacksonville was 31st, with a 95.6 rating). Yikes!
Let's end on a couple more positive notes, shall we:
As Sabin points out, in 2013, Harris was the only player in the NFL to finish in the top five in both kick and punt return average. So, duplicating that would be most welcome. Most welcome, indeed.
And, in preparation for Thursday night's lone preseason game: