With the Cowboys out of the playoffs, the news cycle has slowed down a bit. But that doesn't stop us from executing our duly appointed rounds. And we start with a late-night surprise:
Scott Linehan Will Return As Cowboys Offensive Coordinator - Dawn Macelli, Blogging The Boys
The Dallas Cowboys have completed the negotiations to keep the major pieces of the 2014 coaching staff in place. Only Bill Callahan will likely move on, clearing the way for Scott Linehan to become the official offensive coordinator.
Continuity a key for Jason Garrett's coaching staff - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Wow: for the first time since 2012, it looks like the Dallas Cowboys will have the same offensive and defensive playcallers in back-to-back seasons. A drum that I've banged quite a lot is that coaching continuity is a critical marker of long-term organizational success. Garrett would tend to agree:
"I think it’s important to try to have systems of offense, defense and kicking game in place, stuff that we believe in, stuff that we can improve upon," Garrett said. "I think that’s an important piece of the puzzle."
Garrett has re-shaped Cowboys' roster - Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN Dallas
JJT offers a neat little comparison:
At the end of the 2010 season, the Cowboys had 15 players 28 or older on their roster, including seven who were 30 or older. Then, Doug Free was the only starting lineman under 30.
At the end of the 2014 season, the Cowboys had just six players who were 28 or older on the roster. These days, Free is the only offensive line starter who's 30.
Another key point: a lot of the young guys are good. Really good.
Report: Cowboys assistant Callahan planning to interview with other teams - Dave Halprin, BTB
The estimable Mr. Halprin notes that eight teams are fighting to get on Bill Callahan's dance card, and sagely points out hat the Cowboys O-line guru has a working relationship with Browns head coach Mike Pettine from their days together at the New York Jets. I suppose that gives the Browns the edge.
Bill, if you're reading this: it's the Browns, dude.
Coaching Pro Bowl a privilege, missing Senior Bowl not a big deal - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
The Cowboys coaches will miss next week's Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Alabama. That's not considered that big of a deal because the coaches aren't familiar with the college players on hand, Archer writes, pointing out that it's far more important for the team's scouts to be in Mobile for the week to observe the happenings and conduct player interviews. Besides, coaching in the Pro Bowl is awesome; just ask Garrett:
"Well, first of all we love to coach and we love to be around the game and it's a privilege to be a part of a game like that," Garrett said Tuesday. "We had a chance to do it a few years ago and it was a great week for us. Having said that, to get a chance to coach some of the best players in the league and interact with them, I think that's a positive experience for everybody. You certainly want to embrace that. It's a fun week, it's really, again, a privilege to be a part of."
Decoding Linehan: why I disagree with Cowboys' 4th-and-2 throw to Dez Bryant in Green Bay - Bob Sturm, DMN
Sturm's final "Decoding Linehan" segment of the season focuses on the ends of both halves. In particular, he looks at the third-and-one lay at the end of the fist half and the fateful fourth-and-two that proved to be the Cowboys' last offensive play of the season. Here's the takeaway:
On this day, where the QB rating was at the maximum (it does not measure sacks taken) and where the running game did not suffer a single negative run all afternoon, and where the NFL seemed to take away the most majestic 4th and 2 conversion anyone can remember, I think many are left to wonder what would have happened if the Cowboys simply forced the Packers to stop their power run game at the end of each half.
To drive his point home, Sturm points out that the Cowboys didn't have a single negative rushing play all afternoon. Salt, meet wound.
PFWA honors Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
As our fearless leader reported yesterday, on Wednesday DeMarco Murray was named the Offensive Player of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America. The PFWA also named Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as the league's Most Valuable Player and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt as the Defensive Player of the Year.
Pretty rare air, there.
Tony Romo's offseason could look a lot different - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Romo has not taken part in an offseason the past two years. That will change this year, and should produce a stronger, more physically able Romo, as per the RHG:
"The commitment that these guys make when they come back from those injuries, it's significant, and just to have a more normal daily schedule, be a pro football player, be an athlete in the offseason, I think that will help him..."
Jeremy Mincey, Doug Free expected to undergo minor offseason surgeries - David Helman, The Mothership
Tiny Jim reports that Jeremy Mincey and Doug Free will both undergo surgery in the coming days; Mincey will have his surgery Thursday, while Free's will come next week. Neither operation is expected to limit either player's participation in the upcoming offseason program.
Man behind the mic: Fox NFL analyst Troy Aikman on broadcasting, more - Richard Deitsch, SI.com
A long interview with the Great Number Eight, who had what I found to be an interesting take on the Cowboys season. I'll include the question for context:
How do you view the Cowboys' season? Here’s one view: The offensive line came together, Tony Romo had a great year, and this bodes well for the future. The other view: This was a really big shot for them, their quarterback is in his mid-30s, and they didn’t capitalize.
I tend to look at it as more of the latter. It seems that Dez will be back, I’m not so sure about DeMarco Murray and Tony will be 35 next year....So many things had to happen for them to have the kind of year they did this year....They were very healthy this year. There were teams I was on as a player that were very talented teams and for whatever reason they could not win the games they had to win to ultimately achieve what they wanted to do. This was an opportunity for a Dallas team that was playing as well as anyone in football and had as much confidence as anyone and they came up short. Does that mean they can get back? Yes, they have a chance. But this had the makings of a really special year and it had a great feel to it....and they came up short.
For an excellent take on Aikman's assessment, check out this article from our own Tom Ryle.
Cowboys six draft tendencies and tells - KD Drummond, Cowboys HQ
The Noble Drummond is already in full-on offseason mode, kicking off the draft watch with a list of Cowboys recent draft strategies that, I'm proud to say, we developed in concert.
"Jerry Poppins" talk does not extend to draft plans. The team is unabashedly honest about their draft plans, through the media.
Jerry Jones never met a microphone he didn’t like. If you are adept at translating Jerry-speak, there are going to be clues as to the teams draft intentions easter egg’d throughout the next few months. Most of the reaction as far as Jerry Speak is to ignore it, and that’s true as he will often do things for sales purposes rather than information sharing. But when it comes to the draft, before the draft, listen closely.
And that's what we'll be doing: closely reading the tea leaves, and sharing our findings with all y'all...