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Dallas Cowboys News And Notes: The Long, Steady Build Continues

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All the news that's fit to link. Today's top stories: Cowboys retain top two coaching tiers; news from Thursday's presser; Callahan plays Benedict Arnold; Jerry Jones named Executive of the Year; Murray contract not looking likely; leftovers from Sunday's Divisional Round game; Mel Kiper's first mock draft of 2015.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys have officially retained the top two levels of their coaching staff: head coach Jason Garrett as well as the three area coordinators: Scott Linehan, Rod Marinelli and Rich Bisaccia. The cherry on the Sundae? Jerry Jones wins Executive of the Year and then joins Jason Garrett as they held court with local press to talk about this and other issues of import.

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Cowboys off to good start to offseason - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

The Cowboys' three-day window of exclusive negotiation rights came to a close on Wednesday, Toddzilla remarks, but before it closed, they were able to lock up their head coach and top two assistants. Hat tip to Jerry and his actuarial crew; those boys been doin' WORK.

Jason Garrett: building continues - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

I'll hand the mic to the RHG:

"We started something four years ago when I became the head coach," Garrett said. "It's a word I think about really each and every day when I wake up and throughout the day, it's 'build.' We want to build a football team that everyone who is associated with our football team is proud of. I feel like we've done that. The work is not done . . . We're excited about the opportunities in 2015 to build on some of the things we did this past season."

Jerry Jones: coaches are staying to build on 2014 success - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Jerruh:

"...But the key thing is, let me say, this our chance of building on what we’ve got – our chance to stand on the shoulders of this great season – is the No. 1 thing that is allowing us to keep the coaching staff together. The coaches wanted to be a part of what we’ve got to do over the next few years."

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The big event from Thursday: the press conference to announce it all...

Cowboys announce Garrett, Marinelli, Linehan contracts - The Mothership

Hit the link to check out the presser in which Jerry and Jason answer questions about new contracts and a whole lot more. It's good stuff.

Jones: Cowboys must be smart - Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN Dallas

JJT relates some of the takeaways from Thursday evening's presser. A few of the juiciest morsels:

  • resigning Dez Bryant seems to be a higher priority than inking DeMarco Murray
  • the team is not interested in restructuring Tony Romo's deal, even though it will cost $27 million against the cap in 2015.
  • he hinted that CB Brandon Carr, whose cap figure will be nearly $13 million, might be asked to take a pay cut.

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Of course, one got away...

Callahan joins Redskins staff; Pollack promoted to offensive line coach - David Helman, The Mothership

In a move that surprised very few, Bill Callahan has moved on; the Cowboys O-line guru accepted a position with the Washington Redskins on Thursday. His former boss offered nothing but praise for his work in Dallas:

"Bill...really did a fantastic job for us over the last three years," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "You’ve heard me say this many times: He’s as good a line coach as I’ve ever been around, and he’s as good a football coach as I’ve ever been around."

Dallas Cowboys promote Frank Pollack to lead OL coach; special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia returning - Brandon George, DMN

The Cowboys have promoted Frank Pollack to lead offensive line coach to replace Bill Callahan. Former Cowboys offensive lineman Marc Colombo, who assisted in the personnel department in 2014 as a pro scouting intern, is the top candidate to replace Pollack as the assistant offensive line coach.

In another piece of good news, special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia will also return.

Cowboys lose Callahan, but line isn't going anywhere - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

The Cowboys lost a good coach in Callahan, but they didn't lose Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick or Zack Martin, their three first-round picks studs, nor did they lose the powerful Ronald Leary. Want to know which is more important: good coaching or top-shelf talent? The 2015 Dallas Cowboys O-line should prove to be a good case study.

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Jerry Jones wins executive of the year from the PFWA - Dave Halprin, Blogging the Boys

After naming DeMarco Murray the Offensive Player of the Year, the Pro Football Writers of America name Jerral Wayne Jones the league's top executive. A snippet from their rationale:

In all, a league-leading four Cowboys were selected to the PFWA's All-NFL Team - wide receiver Dez Bryant, center Travis Frederick, running back DeMarco Murray and tackle Tyron Smith. Jones also made several other free-agent moves that helped the Cowboys to a 6-1 start and a 4-0 finish to the regular season.

Jones is the first Cowboys staffer to earn the PFWA's Executive of the Year award, which began in 1993.

Good on ya, old timer. Good on ya...

Credit NFL executive of the year for making tough calls, right calls - Rick Gosselin, DMN

The Goose articulates some of the decisions mentioned in the headline:

  • the Cowboys drafted guard Zack Martin in the first round, signed Jeremy Mincey in free agency and traded for Rolando McClain. Martin was voted to the Pro Bowl, Mincey led the Cowboys in sacks and McClain led the defensive interior in tackles with 81.
  • the team rid themselves of high-priced but aging defensive standouts DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher in the offseason. Although Ware started well, he tailed off at season's end. Hatcher was injured for much of the 2014 campaign.
  • the most important decision? To hang with his head coach Jason Garrett. You know, the guy who guided his team to a 12-4 record.

Jerry Jones confident Cowboys can be players in free agency - David Helman, Fox Sports Southwest

When the newly-minted Executive of the Year Jones was asked on 105.3 The Fan if he thinks the Cowboys are capable of being players in free agency this March, he responded in the affirmative:

"Yes. Yes we are," Jones said...I'd love to have the opportunity to improve that pass rush in the range of something we can afford€“ that makes sense logically," he said. "You know and I know that to get, you've got to not get something else -- it's either-or."

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DeMarco Murray among four captains selected for next month's Pro Bowl - The Mothership

Although the game (and the rosters) are a long way off, DeMarco Murray has been named one of four captains for the game. The others are Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown, Cleveland CB Joe Haden and Houston's All-Universe DE J.J. Watt.

Jerry Jones: probably doesn't look reasonable" to retain both Dez and Murray - David Helman, The Mothership

The Cowboys Owner/ GM was asked about the likelihood of keeping both offensive superstars in the fold, and hedged a bit:

"Is it possible? Yes," Jones said. "But if you just look at it from the standpoint of dollars and cents, it probably doesn’t look reasonable. At the end of the day you do realize it’s going to be costly to have both those players. It just is going to depend. What is the good news is, we’re in a lot better shape under the cap than we’ve been at any time over the last two or three years."

They have a lot more work to do, and a lot of players to re-up.

Upcoming DeMarco Murray debate could come down to juice - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Archer speculates that Murray's contract negotiations could come down to a struggle between what Jason Garrett wants and what the front office wants. The real issue with Murray, Archer rightly notes, is not about the lack of cap room but whether the team wants to allocate the cap space to a running back with not inconsiderable tread on his tires.

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A guide to getting past the Dez Bryant catch - Andrew Sharp, Grantland, com

Sharp articulates the various stages Cowboys fans (and football fans in general) have gone through since Dez Bryant's catch was overturned. They are, in order: denial; anger; bargaining; depression; and acceptance. Personally, I moved pretty quickly to acceptance, but if Twitter is any indication, the bulk of Cowboys fans are hovering between anger and bargaining right about now. Here's a choice thought or two taken from Sharp's conclusion:

These angry controversies happen so often around football that you have to assume that this is how the NFL wants it. Outrage drives engagement, keeps people debating all week about rules nobody really understands, and gets people like me posting memes on the Internet. The games get worse, but the conversations become inescapable.

Blaming the league misses the point. The NFL may be dumber than ever, but nothing’s dumber than the number of people who still take this sport seriously.

Marinelli Report - Cowboys' defense had no answers for Packers' adjustments - Bob Sturm, DMN

The Sturminator's final Marinelli report of the season (le sigh) argues that the turning point in the game came in the third quarter, when the Packers took Eddie Lacy and John Kuhn out of the game and replaced them with Randall Cobb as the RB, thus aligning in what amounts to a 4 WR, 1 TE offense -  and sometimes even a 5 WR offense. Here's how it works:

...Cobb, on the other hand, requires your best quick corner – Orlando Scandrick.  Well, now, that is a problem, because Scandrick is then occupied and now all of the other targets can work against Sterling Moore and Tyler Patmon or Barry Church....when Cobb was the RB, they would send him wide and now it is Rodgers in empty or with Cobb as a flare out threat.  The defense is now spread from sideline to sideline and you have guys covering DaVante Adams or their tight ends in space that you don’t want by themselves.  That means the safeties have to stay deep and help.  And THAT means there is no chance you can blitz.

And THAT'S why Aaron Rodgers was 10-10 on his final ten pass attempts.

Cowboys health played a big part of success - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

In what I believe to be THE story of the Cowboys' success in 2014, Dallas enjoyed terrific health. Want numbers? Archer notes that thirty-two players played in all 16 regular-season games, compared to just 21 in 2013.

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Kiper: 2015 NFL mock draft 1.0 - ESPN

Kiper's first mock of the loooong draft season has the Cowboys taking Oklahoma defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. Here's what he has to say about the selection:

The Dallas defensive line held up reasonably well this season with merely OK talent, but a lot of that had to do with how much the efficient offense was able to keep it off the field and fresh. The unit isn't going to simply get better unless it adds more talent. Phillips is still pretty raw, but he's got tremendous upside. At 6-foot-6, when you see him run you can barely fathom that he's carrying more than 330 pounds. Put a kid like this under the tutelage of Rod Marinelli and you could end up with something truly special. Dallas needs to prioritize defense in this draft after getting the offense where it needs to be, and Phillips is a reasonable upside play.

In case you're wondering the top four pass-rushing DEs are all gone by the eighth pick...