The story of an otherwise slow off day was the somewhat unexpected release of former starting running back Joseph Randle. Let's start there...
The boss man gives us the story, and caps it off with some well wishes for the troubled runner:
Whatever is wrong with Randle, we wish him the best. His time as a football player in Dallas did not work out, we hope his personal life comes out better.
I suppose we should have seen this coming; the writing was on the proverbial wall:
Randle wasn't at AT&T Stadium on Sunday evening for the Cowboys' game against Seattle, Jones said, and the club had grown concerned about his mental stability.
"I'm always concerned as to any issues regarding the [mental] health of a player," Jones said. "It's a lot more serious than the football [injury] and that's why he's not dressed out."
Many factors went into the decision:
Failing production, off-field incidents and pending NFL discipline were all factors in the Cowboys' decision to release Randle; a source told ESPN's Ed Werder that "all things were included in this decision."
The Cowboys now have McFadden, Christine Michael and Rod Smith at tailback.
How did a once-promising career go so bad, so fast for ex-Cowboys RB Joseph Randle? - Kevin Sherrington, DMN
Sherrington with an opinion piece on Randle's truncated time in Dallas. He concludes with a reminder that the NFL only tolerates suchlike behavior from its stars:
If Randle does, indeed, have some sort of mental illness, let's hope first and foremost he gets the help he needs. Life won't get any easier now that he's out of the NFL, which is where he's likely to remain with a suspension hanging over him. Unlike his former teammate, Greg Hardy, he can't be assured someone else will take a chance on him. He doesn't have the numbers to make him worth the risk.
Jerry will put up with a productive player, as Hardy has proven a couple of times already. But a team on a five-game losing streak doesn't need any more aggravation. Especially when it's clear you're no longer part of the solution.
Jones the Younger weighed in on Randle's release and Tiny Jim was there to record it:
"Everybody wants to point to an issue – this issue or that issue. But as you just mentioned, it’s the full body of work," Jones said. "We have to look at it, and obviously I think, right now, football needs to be on the back burner for Joe. He needs to get his hands around some things....Sometimes, maybe it’s just too much on your plate and you need to focus on things off the field rather than things on the field."
Sabin trolled and polled in the locker room on Tuesday, soliciting some reactions to the Randle release. Here's what Barry Church told him when asked if he was worried about Randle now that he's no longer with the team:
"Nah. He's a grown man. So he'll be able to handle his business. Whatever he has going on he'll handle that and I'll reach out to him and see how he's feeling and we'll go from there."
Hearing this, I wanted to ask: "Ummmm, Barry, you ARE talking about Joe Randle, right?"
Before we move on, several insightful analyses of Sunday's squeaker remain to be digested...
The Sturminator's weekly Decoding Linehan post might actually have more awesome stuff in it than usual, which is saying a lot. Many of his observations grabbed may attention, but I decided to share this particular takeaway:
It has been 2 years since the Cowboys have had a performance as poor as this one from a total yardage standpoint. 220 yards and 3.9 yards per play is brutal. In fact, on that yards per play statistic (3.9), you will find that in the Tony Romo era (2006-2015), that is the 5th worst performance in the decade.
The four games that were worse? Week 16 of 2011 when Stephen McGee took over after Romo was injured. The two Brad Johnson starts in 2008 when Romo broke his thumb. And, the final week of 2007 when Romo was pulled because the Cowboys had the #1 seed locked up in Washington and Brad Johnson was there that day, too.
In other words, it would probably be best to realize that Romo is great and his replacements have been pretty much "Not great" since he has been here. The worst offensive performances always coincide with his absences which is good and bad news, I suppose.
The Phantom with a handful of observations from Sunday's loss. Here's some love for Tank:
Hardy is not the only defensive end making plays. DeMarcus Lawrence is doing a lot to disrupt the offense. The most impressive thing about Lawrence in the Seattle game is how well he dissected the running play. He did a great job getting inside and was able to chase down ball carriers that ran across the other side. Lawrence also exhibited good strength and pushed back the tackle which obstructed the running backs path when he swung around the edge. His best play came when he held his position well on the read-option play and was able to keep Wilson from getting outside and breaking off a big run.
Sabin hands out grades for the various position groups. The secondary gets a "B":
What went right: The coverage by the Cowboys' safeties and cornerbacks was solid throughout. Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne blanketed Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett for much of the day, limiting their contributions. Byron Jones continues to challenge the game's best tight ends. He did so again Sunday against Jimmy Graham.
What went wrong: Not much. This was a solid performance.
With seven games in the books, the analytics aren't working in the Cowboys favor:
FO's weekly DVOA rankings, which are based upon their proprietary Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) system that breaks down every single play and compares a team's performance to the league average. After five consecutive losses, the Cowboys sit at 25th:
How did the Cowboys arrive at this unseemly ranking? Well, by falling off a cliff, that's how. Here's where they ranked every week since their 20 start:
Week 2: 11th
Week 3: 15th
Week 4: 19th
Week 5: 24th
Week 6: 24th
Week 7: 26th
Week 8: 25th
In the AERs this week, the Cowboys are poised at 22nd overall. Check it:
Given the Cowboys record and those rankings, is it time to throw in the towel?
In the headline-garnering quote, Jones the Elder reflects upon the Cowboys unforeseen situation:
"The third win is critical," Jones said. "I never thought I would be standing here saying it in this way: We certainly are getting a lot of help throughout the rest of the division. We know there is a peek of hope out there."
Jerry Jones has something in common with the rest of us: he isn't thrilled with where the Cowboys stand. Check it:
"I think we're a better team than that," Jones said. "But as Bill Parcells used to say, around here you are what you are and we're 2-5 and we accept that and we're accountable to it. Obviously we didn't do some things as well as we should have or we wouldn't be sitting here."
Jerral Wayne isn't concerned by the prospect of Romo playing two games in five days upon his return to the lineup:
"No, because he's mentally prepared," Jones said. "He'll be doing work that gives him the physical ability to play the game, I'm talking about as far as just his conditioning and that type of thing. Then as far as really getting to see what he's going to be looking at, there will be plenty of days to get him ready for that."
Even Jerry Jones, the patron saint of glass-half-full thinking, is running out of optimism:
"To be realistic, it’s going to be a daunting task, even with Romo, to get our feet back under us," Jones said after the fifth straight loss without his star quarterback, 13-12 to Seattle on Sunday. "Obviously, we think we’ll play better when we get Romo back."
Jerry talks about the uncertainty of the NFL season, which is both exciting and unnerving:
That's the beauty of what we get to do. It's not scripted in any way. And it's very real. There are no producers out here producing these shows. You just don't know how it's going to fall. And we're very below where we expected to be relative to our record. On the other hand, we could put together a heck of a team here as we go forward the next few weeks ahead.
A transcript of Witten's weekly interview on the Bob and Dan Show. Here, he responds to a question about the upcoming matchup with division-rival Philadelphia:
The way this season's gone down, you can feel sorry for yourself or feel frustrated and all those things that go into it with the last two games coming down to the last few plays and we haven't done enough to win. But our division's down a little bit so we have to understand that we're still in it. We have to get better and an extreme amount of urgency this week with a division opponent.
Jeff Heath with a class move, texting Ricardo Lockette to check in on him and his progress. Here's what the backup safety said about his digital missive:
"I texted him, I haven’t received a response," Heath said of Lockette. "I just told him that I have a lot of respect for how he plays. He’s really tenacious and aggressive. I really like how he plays. I just wish him a speedy recovery. I think he knows, but I just told him my intention wasn’t to hurt him. I hated the outcome of the play. I just wished him a speedy recovery."
In his weekly NFC East report, Schneier doles out mid-season awards, including this one:
Unsung Hero: Tyron Smith, left tackle, Dallas Cowboys
This Cowboys' regular season has been so dominated by stories about injuries and off-the-field incidents that left tackle Tyron Smith's dominant play has been lost in the shuffle. It's no surprise that Smith is playing well -- he was an All-Pro in 2014 -- but in 2015 he has emerged as arguably the best offensive tackle in the NFL. Smith has allowed just four total quarterback hurries and zero sacks in seven games this season. Per Pro Football Focus, Smith has graded out as the best run-blocking tackle in the NFL. The Cowboys haven't been able to generate a consistent passing attack without Tony Romo, but it's not because the backup quarterback haven't been protected well.
He also predicts that the Cowboys will win the division with an 8-8 record - after tiebreakers
Archer's weekly "Five Wonders" piece showcases some substantial speculations. Here's one that really caught my eye:
I wonder when a Cowboys cornerback will record an interception. Carr hasn’t had an interception since the Cowboys beat the Oakland Raiders on Thanksgiving in 2013, a span of 27 games. Claiborne hasn’t had a pick since Week 3 last year against the St. Louis Rams. Claiborne could have/should have had an interception against Sam Bradford in the first meeting against the Eagles. Maybe he brings that to an end this week. In case you are wondering, the last cornerback to record a pick was Scandrick in last year’s meeting against the Chicago Bears. It’s been 10 games and counting.
The Duckman with his weekly "Five reasons the Cowboys will defeat..." post (admittedly, these have proven remarkably incorrect of late). This time around, his piece de resistance is that Dallas has its back against the proverbial wall:
Dallas hasn’t had it’s back truly against the wall yet this year, but that time has come. If Dallas loses this game they could potentially fall 2½ games behind the division leading New York Giants. While this would certainly not be a death sentence it would lessen the margin for error once Tony Romo makes his return. The Cowboys simply are not going to let that happen. Certainly they won’t give the Eagles that type of satisfaction. Expect the Cowboys to finally get that elusive win this week.
After hearing talk that the Cowboys and Greg Hardy have mutual interest in a longer-term deal, Corry, a former sports agent, comes up with three potential contract scenarios that the team might consider. Here's one of them:
The Option Year Concept
A modified version of the option year structure used with Henry Melton could be another way to approach Hardy's contract. Melton signed a one-year, $3.5-million prove-it deal (worth a maximum of $5 million through incentives) with Dallas in 2014 because of an early 2013 season left ACL tear. An additional three years for $24 million would have been triggered if the Cowboys had picked up the option on Melton's contract this past February.
Hardy's would be a series of options that had to be picked up annually at any point before the first day of the next league year instead of multiple years at once like Melton's. There wouldn't be anything prohibiting the Cowboys from exercising more than one option at a time. Picking up each option would trigger a substantial first day of the league year roster bonus in that particular year, which would be guaranteed for skill and salary cap. The annual amount wouldn't quite approach the $12-million roster bonus that was in the 2015 contract year that New England declined by passing on their option with Revis. The remainder of Hardy's compensation for each year would be split between his base salary and per game roster bonuses. Hardy would also receive a signing bonus comparable to the one under the Kaepernick approach.
If the team can keep in the fold with a contract that fully protects them from the vagaries of his personality, then I'm all for it. As the Giants proved in 2007 and '11, you can never have too many quality defensive ends.