As happens so often, Todd Archer gets pride of place...
Looking back so Cowboys don't make same 2010 mistake - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Channeling his inner George Santayana (or, if you prefer, Edmund Burke), Archer reminds us of the 2010 offseason, the last time the Cowboys were coming off a successful campaign topped by a playoff win in the wildcard round. The following year, you may remember - I don't blame you if you have willfully forgotten - the Cowboys lurched to a 1-7 start after proclaiming publicly that they wanted to be the first team to play a "home" Super Bowl. How can they avoid a repeat plummet? Archer suggests they are constructed differently:
In 2010, the Cowboys had seven starters 30 or older and three players at least 29. Four of the five starters on the offensive line -- Marc Colombo, Kyle Kosier, Leonard Davis and Andre Gurode -- were older than 30. Inside linebacker Keith Brooking was 35. Cornerback [Terence] Newman was 32. With players under contract for 2015, the Cowboys have just three starters more than 30 years old...
Another key? The Cowboys need consciously to improve. After the 2009 season, Archer points out, they didn't sign a single unrestricted free agent. In other words, they tried to stand pat. That's won't wash in 2015...
Cowboys offseason manifesto: needs assessment - KD Drummond, Cowboys HQ
The Noble Drummond puts on his GMs hat for the first of what promises to be a three-part series on the Cowboys and free agency. This edition focuses on the long list of Cowboys with expired contracts. On the way, KD reminds us of an important yet oft-forgotten offseason mantra: "fill your holes in free agency so the draft is about the best talent available." This is particularly important this offseason: "Dallas' holes are a-plenty, considering they have 25 players that logged time in 2014, but enter the offseason with no deal."
Cowboys position review: tight ends - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archer's position-by-position roster review picks up with one of the team's most settled positions. Credit to Mike Pope for this:
In the Cowboys' zone game, the tight end is responsible for setting the edge and Witten did a great job of that. So did Hanna, whose play was vastly underappreciated. He came to the Cowboys with the reputation as a pass catcher but has developed into a decent blocker. He caught four passes for 48 yards. His toughness is also unnoticed. He played the final few games with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee.
Cowboys position review: LBs - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
And from one of the most settled positions, we move to one of the least:
A look ahead: Lee will be back in 2015, which is good news, but the rest of the group is in a state of flux because of free agency. If the Cowboys re-sign McClain, then Lee can play the weakside spot. If not, he will return to his middle linebacker spot. It will be difficult to define how much McClain is worth because this was the first time he has had success at this level....Carter and Durant are also interesting studies. Carter has all the athletic ability in the world, but there are stretches of play where you wonder how much he likes football. Durant was lighting it up but has durability concerns.
In other words, we haven't the foggiest...
Murray on free agency: "at end of day it's about winning a Super Bowl - Michael Hurcomb, CBSSports.com
Number 29 has his priorities straight:
"I don't think about [the one big contract], I'm thinking about winning a Super Bowl," Murray said. "What's best for me to win a Super Bowl and win one now. At the end of the day, the money is irrelevant to some degree."
To paraphrase an old saying: win a Lombardi and the money will follow...
Murray on being replaceable: let's see how that goes - Kevin Patra, NFL.com
While talking to NFL Media's Michael Irvin on Thursday, the NFL's leading rusher shot back at those who believe he could be easily replaced:
"I would like to see how it goes. I would like to see how that plan would work for them. I don't pay attention to it. You know, I have full confidence in myself and my ability to do what I'm capable of doing. I know my talents, I know how hard I play and, you know, I know what I bring to the table. So I'm not worried about it and, you know, I don't hear it."
I'm on the fence. I appreciate that what he brings to the game is rare and special. But there's also this:
Barry Sanders: at 46, I could still get 75 yards per game behind Cowboys' O-line - Jon Machota, DMN
During an interview on the Dan Patrick Show, the former OSU Cowboy said that behind the current Cowboys offensive line he could average 60-75 yards per game even at the ripe old age of 46.
The funny thing is that I believe him...
We'll end this morning's linkfest with a pair of top-ten lists
10 reasons why Tony Romo had a career year - Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN Dallas
As the title suggests, JJT serves up two handfuls of reasons for Romo's exquisite 2014. My faves came from the middle of the list:
6. DeMarco Murray carried a league-leading 392 times and recorded 12 100-yard games, which is why Romo threw a career-low 29 passes per game.
7. Romo made protecting the ball his top priority. He threw three interceptions in his first 14 passes, and six in his last 421 attempts.
10 things you might not know about former Cowboys DE and Hall of Fame finalist Charles Haley - DFW Staff
A toothsome tensome of factoids about the original number 94, who was a brilliant, bad dude. A couple thatI respect most:
6. Haley has had one back surgery for every one of his five Super Bowl rings. He played the 1993 Super Bowl season with a ruptured lumbar disk in his lower back. He played in the Super Bowl after the 1995 season weeks after undergoing back surgery. "I promised my teammates I would play," Haley told the DMN's Barry Horn. "I had to show them there was no obstacle too great."
10. Former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson says, "Charles was that guy who brought the dog, who brought the fight to the table and changed the whole perception of what it was to play defense for the Dallas Cowboys. Butch Davis, who coached the Cowboys' defensive line in 1992, said Haley religiously stayed after practice to tutor less-experienced defensive lineman such as Leon Lett, Tony Tolbert, Russell Maryland and Chad Hennings on the art of the pass rush. "They would cling to his every word," David said. "Why not? He was the best."
Get that man a bust in Canton!