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Cowboys News & Notes: What The Heck Happened To The Offense in 2015?

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Dez Bryant doubtful for Sunday’s game; Lions rally around success of ex-teammate Kellen Moore; Will McClay a possible future GM?

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Word of Muth: The underappreciated Cowboys offensive line - Football Outsiders
Muth explains in a must-read article that the O-line may have underperformed relative to "massive preseason expectations," but was still a really good offensive line in 2015.

I'd say they are a really good line that is about to get a thousand yards out of an aging Darren McFadden (who wasn't even that good in his prime). You could take an all-decade offensive line and it would struggle to run the ball with the skill talent with which the Cowboys played this year. I just don't think Dallas' offensive line ever had a real chance to live up to its hype as a potential all-time great unit.

When the running backs are Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle; the quarterbacks are Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore; and the No. 1 receiver is Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, or a not-100-percent Dez Bryant, no offensive line is going to look good. That's not even getting into some of the most conservative play calling seen in the NFL is this year. At the end of the day, so many things were wrong with the Cowboys' offense that no offensive line could have salvaged much. The pieces are still in place, however, for this to go from a really good offensive line in 2015 to a special one in 2016.

Dallas Cowboys Twitter mailbag: What happened to the offense in 2015? - Todd Archer, ESPN
Archer answers a reader question about why the offense never looked in sync in 2015, even with Tony Romo.

Even when Romo played, the offense scored five touchdowns in 35 drives. Something was off the entire year. They didn't find a groove in the running game until the sixth game of the season. The passing game was a mess without Romo and some of that can be put on Dez Bryant's broken foot. Last year, everything worked perfectly for the Cowboys and Romo bailed the offense out of trouble a lot. This year, things did not go perfectly and Romo wasn't there to bail them out.

The frustrating thing to me about this offense is how they don't scheme their stars open enough. It shouldn't be about jet sweeps to Lucky Whitehead. It should be about getting the ball to Bryant and Jason Witten and they don't do enough there, in my opinion.

Dallas Cowboys RB Darren McFadden, O-line hope to reach 1,000 yards - Todd Archer, ESPN
Archer points out that Darren McFadden needs just 102 yards rushing in Dallas' final two games to reach 1,000 for only the second time in his career - quite an impressive feat after gaining only 129 yards in the first five games.

“It definitely would mean a whole lot, something I would definitely like to have,” McFadden said. “It’s a long football season, it’s been a long season so it’s one of those things that you just have to keep grinding and grind the rest of these games out.”

Dez Bryant doubtful for Sunday’s game after missing practice all week - Charean Williams, The Star-Telegram
Bryant had been a full participant in practice since Dec. 4, but it looks like he's unlikely to play Sunday after missing practice all week with a foot injury. The Cowboys list him as doubtful, giving him only a 25 percent chance to see the field against the Bills.

The Cowboys have insisted they aren’t going to "shut down" Bryant. However, since they are out of the postseason race, there seems no reason to risk Bryant to further injury next week in the season finale against the Redskins.

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Lions rally around success of ex-teammate Kellen Moore - Josh Katzenstein, Detroit News
Cowboys fans aren't the only ones pulling for Moore. Even his old teammates were excited to see him play against the Jets.

"I'm fired up," Matthew Stafford said. "I was texting (Moore) a bunch and happy for him."

"First live action, probably didn't get a whole bunch of reps during the week," Stafford said. "That's a tough defense to open it up against, but he'll play good for them. He's a good player."

"He doesn't have the most athletic (body) or the most arm strength, but I always thought he had really good touch," wide receiver Golden Tate said. "I thought his anticipation was awesome. He knew he couldn't throw a comeback as you were coming out of your breaks, so he would kind of anticipate and float it. So, actually, coming out your break, the ball would still be there."

Dallas Cowboys receivers getting used to Kellen Moore's lefty spin - Todd Archer, ESPN
Kellen Moore is the first left-handed quarterback to throw a pass in a regular-season game for the Cowboys, and Terrance Williams said the receivers have had to adjust to the spin of the ball.

"When it hits your hands, it kind of feels different because normally from a right-handed quarterback, you can catch it and tuck it [right away]," Williams said. "For Kellen, you have to do it the exact opposite way. That’s why we practice, to get it down. But I think he throws a really good ball."

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett acknowledged the spin is different, but he doesn’t want the players to overanalyze it.

"The ball’s coming to you; reach up and catch it," Garrett said. "Kellen’s been around these guys enough. He’s thrown the ball to each of them enough in practice and some of them in the games that I think they’ll be able to handle it."

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Cowboys hope to keep Byron Jones at safety next season - Charean Williams, The Star-Telegram
Williams argues that the Cowboys aren't doing Byron Jones any favors by moving him all over the field. Jones has had to play corner in the three games Morris Claiborne has missed and started five games at safety.

The Cowboys drafted Byron Jones for his versatility, but it’s his versatility that’s stunted his development at safety.

Three times this season, the Cowboys have needed Jones to play cornerback in place of Morris Claiborne. He had not even practiced at the position since training camp until moving over in Week 11.

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Week 16 Notebook: Will McClay a possible future GM - Albert Breer, NFL.com
Breer spotlights future GMs, one of which is Will McClay. Let's hope the 4-10 season keeps him in Dallas for at least another year.

Will McClay, senior director of college and pro scouting, Dallas Cowboys: A former coach who's worked his way to the top of the scouting department in Dallas and has influence with the Joneses. But would he want to leave?

Agent's Take: The real highest-paid players of 2015 - Joel Corry: CBSSports.com
While Aaron Rodgers is the league's highest-paid player at $22 million per year by average yearly salary, he doesn't make the list of NFL's top moneymakers in 2015 once salary deferrals and taxes are considered. So who does?

Philip Rivers and Eli Manning top the QB-heavy list that also features Tony Romo at #16 and Dez Bryant at #18.

Kirk Cousins, Brock Osweiler, Ryan Fitzpatrick and other QBs that NFL teams are evaluating - NFL
Adam Schefter has a list of quarterbacks NFL teams are keeping a close eye on with the offseason in mind, and the Cowboys are guaranteed to be one of them, so here are the names on Shefty's list: Sam Bradford, Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, Colin Kaepernick, Peyton Manning, Johnny Manziel, Brock Osweiler.