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Cowboys News And Notes: Let The Great Dez Watch Commence!

All the news that's fit to link. Today's top storylines: The Great Dez Bryant Watch; further Cassel, Weeden thoughts; Joe Randle takes the heat; Cowboys visit Ground Zero on Friday; Gregory back at practice; Giants vulnerable; Matthew Stafford as Romo's successor?

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday's Jason Garrett presser began with the assembled media bombarding him with questions (eleven in a row, by my count) about Dez Bryant's status, whether he would play six weeks after breaking his right foot in the season opener, and the medical clearance process. Listening to this, it was readily apparent that The Great Dez Watch had commenced.

We might as well begin there. Sigh.

Garrett Pleased By Dez’s Progress, But Playing Status Hinges On Practice - David Helman, Dallas Cowboys

After badgering Jason Garrett for fifteen minutes about Dez Bryant's status during Tuesday's presser, all the DFW writers went off to their cubicles to pen Dez Watch stories. Tiny Jim's contains all the obligatory quotes, including this one:

"We want to be deliberate with the process that we go through. And that's with every player that is hurt," he said. "We want to make sure our players are capable of playing. We will never put them in a compromising position in practice or in a game."

Dallas Cowboys' Dez Bryant questionable for practice Wednesday - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Archer was shrewd enough to include my favorite quote from the Garrett presser, which the exasperated RHG uttered eight questions into the barrage - and one that involved a bit of Medieval English history:

"We don’t put these things down like the Magna Carta and say, ‘These are all the different standards that we have for Dez. This is what his standard is for this day and for this day and for this day,’" Garrett said. "We have an objective. We want to get him back on the football field as quickly as we can. We have different processes we’ll go through to help get him there...."

King John, who was forced by rebellious Barons to sign the Magna Carta, in 1215, was the first king to be described by historians as having "dumbface."

Clearly, Garrett had been watching tape of the Giants' offense...

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones not ruling out WR Dez Bryant from Sunday return - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Jerry Jones, who, it must be said, is no doctor, freely participated in The Great Dez Watch, in the form of a radio interview. A choice cut:

"I don't know what 100 percent means in this particular case," Jones told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday morning. "One-hundred percent healed? One-hundred percent from the standpoint of no sensation, no sensitivity? I don't think you would have no sensitivity.

"But I do think that the combination of all the work he's done, which has been extraordinary, as well as some of the additional procedures that were done, give us a lot of confidence that, if he's comfortable putting it down and driving off on his foot, then we're comfortable with him playing."

We say Dez Bryant needs to be 100 percent to play. Jerry? He's fuzzy - Mark Lane, Cowboys HQ

In his contribution to The Great Dez Watch, Lane asks important questions about the Owner/ GM's public pontifications:

Is Jerry being fuzzy and fudgey because the Cowboys are truly trying to find different ways to define "100 percent''? Or is Jerry being fuzzy and fudgey because that's simply the way he talks?

He certainly does the latter, in entertaining and sometimes maddening fashion...

Yes, he does, Mark. Yes, he does...


transactions 10.20.15


What starting QB Matt Cassel brings to the Cowboys - Bob Sturm, DMN

With no Cowboys game to dissect, Sturm analyzes 200 of Cassel's recent plays, providing us with several gifs. There is much to love in these - and much to fear. I'll turn this over to Sturm, who shares the following final assessment:

He is a backup QB who is a bit of a gunslinger. I wonder about this because I know Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan usually like backups that know what they are not capable of doing. I almost feel like this idea was somewhat imposed upon them by the front office to give a guy a chance who wants to make a play. Weeden was being too careful and now they will get the opposite.

The realities are pretty clear. Matt Cassel is no longer anyone's savior. He is a backup QB who has real limitations, but the test for a backup is that if you insert him for a month with a good football team, can he get you to 2-2? They think he gives them a better chance than Brandon Weeden.

ALEX: Week 6 - Scott Kacsmar, Football Outsiders

The fine folk over at FO have developed a metric called Air Less Expected, or ALEX for short. Here's their description of what it measures:

the average difference between how far a quarterback threw a pass (air yards) and how many yards he needed for a first down. If a quarterback throws a pass five yards behind the line of scrimmage on third-and-15, that would be minus-20 ALEX. The best application of ALEX is to look at third and fourth down when it's really crucial to get 100 percent of the need yards to extend the drive. Here is where we review the week's most conservative and aggressive plays by ALEX on third and fourth downs...

ALEX Week 6

You'll notice that Brandon Weeden sits at 34th on this chart, with a -2.4 ALEX. This immediately confirms that is Checkdown Charlie...except that the QB immediately above him, with a -1.3 ALEX, is Tom Brady. Clearly, Brady likes to throw underneath and allow his guys to "rack the YAC." Perhaps the real problem here is the Cowboys' offense's inability to create space for run after catch yardage?


Joseph Randle: I'm not complaining about carries and I won't be a cancer in the locker room - Jon Machota, DMN

In a move sure to disappoint controversy-hungry DFW scribes (you know who you are), Joseph Randle is going to take his demotion like a man. A silent, supportive man. Hear him tell:

"I just want to be somebody good around the locker room that's not always mad about this and mad about that, making sure that I'm not a cancer in this locker room," Randle said. "So I'm not going to be the one complaining for carries and all this different stuff like that. That's not how I'm going to play."

New Role Or Not, Randle Returns From Bye Week With New Perspective - Nick Eatman, The Mothership

Eatman writes that watching his fifth-grade nephew, John Randle Jr., play in a Pop Warner game over the bye week helped Joseph Randle to put things in perspective, despite his apparent demotion. Check it:

"Yeah, because you look around and you’re like all these kids want to do exactly what I’m doing right now," Randle said. "That gives you a new perspective getting to go back to where it all started. It makes you really know that you… I love this game. I’ve been doing this since I was his age, and this is exactly what I wanted to do when I was in the fifth grade. It’s really a blessing to be where I am right now. It reminded me to take advantage of this."


Cowboys heading to New York a day early to visit Ground Zero - Jared Dubin,

Rather than travel to the New York metro area on Saturday, as teams teams typically do for Sunday games, the Cowboys are making the trip on Friday in order to visit the September 11th memorial at Ground Zero. Here's the scoop:

Teams go on bonding trips all the time. They go to the movies, museums, etc. This trip is obviously pretty special...The Cowboys actually played the New York Jets in a Sunday Night Football game on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, before which there was a tribute at both Ground Zero and on the field. I happened to be in the crowd for that game, and it was a pretty powerful experience.

Jason Garrett's summer trip to 9/11 site inspires him to take Cowboys there Friday - Rainer Sabin, DMN

The inspiration for the visit, Sabin reports, was derived from a trip that head coach Jason Garrett and his wife, Brill, took to the site of the Sept. 11 attacks last summer. Here's coach:

"I probably wasn't there for 10 minutes and I kind of looked around and said, 'We've got to somehow, some way get our football team here,'" Garrett said. "I think it'll be a good experience for everybody," Garrett said. "It'll be great to expose our team, particularly because of their age. A lot of them were young when this happened. So I think the exposure to it -- the tragedy of what it was and then the response from everybody in that area and all across our country - I think it's significant to our country's history and inspirational to everybody. I think it'll be a really special evening to our team."


Gregory Will Continue Practicing; Eager To Return From High Ankle Sprain - Rob Phillips, The Mothership

The obligatory "Gregory returns to practice" piece contains a useful quote from one of the leaders among Marinelli's Rushmen. It would seem they are eager to be at full strength:

"It makes a tremendous difference," defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. "You’re not leaning on one guy. You’ve got a lot of talent across the board and guys are able to get some one-on-one (matchups)."

Randy Gregory expects to play this week; how much will we see from him? | Dallas Morning News

A transcript of an interview with Jeremy Mincey and Randy Gregory. Here, the rookie defensive end responds to a question about whether or not he has a chip on his shoulder:

"I think any d-lineman, a good d-lineman, plays with a chip on his shoulder. I know us as a d-line as a whole definitely do. That's one of the things I try to work on when I go out there. One of the main things I said after the draft was I'm going to make everyone not necessarily pay but realize what they missed out on. I'm forever grateful for the Cowboys taking a chance on me. That's one of the main reasons I do what I do when I go out on the field, do what I do out in the community to kind of repair my image because I think it definitely took a hit..."

In my best Beavis and Butthead voice: "He said 'took a hit.'"


Dallas Cowboys' move to Matt Cassel won't be only change on offense - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Sometimes you read something that is so clear, so obvious, that you wonder why it took so long for somebody to voice it. That's the feeling I had when reading Archer's latest "Five Wonders" post, which contained this:

I wonder if the lack of interceptions has something to do with scheme more than personnel. Despite the tag Rod Marinelli has as a Tampa 2 defensive coordinator, the Cowboys have mostly played Cover 1 this season, having corners Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne play man to man. It’s more difficult to get takeaways when your eyes are not on the quarterback. In zone, the corners play with their eyes on the quarterback. In man, they have to chase all over the field. Defending pick routes is nearly impossible, as we’ve seen the last couple of games. The Cowboys are playing to the strengths of their corners by going with more man looks. But it’s just something to keep in mind about the lack of interceptions.


After winning three in a row, the Giants suddenly look vulnerable...

Big Picture: Both Cowboys, Giants Dealing With Key Injuries in Rematch - The Mothership Staff

The Cowboys had a rash of injuries early on; now, the rest of the league appears to be catching up to them. Even if it makes for a lower quality of football, playing against other crippled teams somehow seems more fair:

As for the Giants’ injuries, Victor Cruz continues to rehab his calf injury and could return to practice this week, although it’s unlikely he will make his season debut Sunday vs. Dallas....Injuries at receiver have been an issue for the Giants as both Odell Beckham Jr. and Ruben Randle have missed time with injuries, but both played against the Eagles Monday night.

Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara (torn pectoral) will be out a few more weeks, leaving backup Jayron Hosley in to start again Sunday against the Cowboys.

NFL Stock Market NFC East Week 7 - Dan Schneier, FOX Sports

Schneier's updated state of the NFC East offers a lost of players or position groups who have seen their stock rise or fall of late. In the "Stock up" category is Christine Michael; in the "stock down" category, we find next week's opponent:

New York Giants' offensive line

The Giants had allowed just three sacks through the first five games before allowing three sacks in Week 6. Entering the season, there were concerns with the Giants' pass protection after they lost their best lineman -- Will Beatty -- to a torn pectoral muscle. Those concerns were quelled after a hot start, but the Eagles might have figured out the best way to attack this offensive line. Starting right guard Geoff Schwartz and right tackle Marshall Newhouse combined to allow two sacks, one quarterback hit and seven total pressures in Week 6. Beatty is expected to resume practicing this week, but if he can't get ready in time for Week 7, the Giants may have to use an extra tight end to help block the right side.

The Dallas Cowboys were the winner of the Giants-Eagles MNF stinker - Chris Chase, For The Win

Chase opines on the ultimate winner of Monday Night's Giants-Eagles slopfest. That's right; it's your beloved Dallas Cowboys:

Who benefits from Sam Bradford looking like the Sam Bradford most of Philadelphia was afraid of when the team acquired him? The Dallas Cowboys. Who benefits from Eli Manning looking like the Eli Manning most of Philadelphia was hoping he’d be? The Dallas Cowboys. Who benefits from the turnovers, the sloppy play, the turnovers, the complete absence of DeMarco Murray and the turnovers? Most importantly who, besides Philly (even perhaps more than Philly) benefits from the final score? Dallas, Dallas, Dallas, Dallas, Dallas and Dallas.

Cowboys have a chance to make NFC East history Sunday - Brandon George, DMN

A chat transcript produces this interesting factoid:

Well, considering the Cowboys have won 7 consecutive NFC East road games, it probably doesn't matter much. Of course, any team playing at home should help that team ... If the Cowboys win Sunday against the Giants, they'll become the first team in NFC East history (since the division became the NFC East in 1970) to win eight consecutive NFC East road games.


I'll leave you with this one from the Department of "whaaaaat...?"

Tony Romo's replacement isn't in the draft, he's in Detroit - Rock Gosselin, DMN

Gosselin shares a quarterback succession plan that is, ummm, peculiar. To put it kindly:

I don't expect the next quarterback of the Cowboys to be a draft pick. When the time comes to replace Romo, I believe Jones will go shopping for a proven commodity.

And that proven commodity might be in Detroit right now.

Matthew Stafford was the first player selected in the 2009 draft. He played four years on his six-year rookie contract before signing a three-year extension in 2013 for an extra $53 million. That'll keep him in Detroit through the 2017 season.

Stafford turns 30 in 2018. And he's a local. He played his high school football at Highland Park.


Get your picks in for the BTB Pick 256 Challenge!


If you haven't yet submitted your picks, now would be a good time. Here's the link to the entry form.

If the link above doesn't work for whatever reason, use the following alternative, which does not autofill your BTB user name into the entry form.

Alternative Pick 256 Entry Form

We have a little over 160 participants who've already submitted their picks for Week 7, you have until 8:25 pm EST tomorrow to submit your picks, though you might as well do it now.


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