The final sloooow Tuesday of the season produces an interview with Jerry during which he proposed that the Cowboys are better than their record indicates. Let's start there, shall we?
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones doesn't plan on major changes heading into 2016 - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Those of you wanting the Cowboys to clean house after the 4-11 debacle that has been the 2015 campaign are going to be disappointed; the Jonses are likely to make only incremental adjustments:
"The bottom line is that I can make you a strong case where you should line them up and go again with your hand," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. "But under any circumstances, you have to do what you have to do.
"And so just change for change sake? No, you're not going to have that because I believe that we're closer than this record indicates."
Jerry Jones flies 'flag of fantasy' rather than dare say Cowboys must rebuild - Rick Gosselin, DMN
The Dallas media pool's resident Walter Matthau puts on his grumpy pants and launches into a bitter screed in response to Jerry's comments. Its silly stuff, but ends well. To wit:
This roster needs a quality backup quarterback who can develop into a starter inside of three seasons (or less). The Cowboys also need a running back, a wide receiver, an inside pass rush presence, another edge pass rusher, a linebacker (or two) and both a cornerback (or two) and safety with ball skills. Can you get all that in one draft?
This franchise also needs a coaching staff capable of developing those young players and willing to put them on the field.
Get all that done in the next 10 months and maybe Jones is right. Maybe the Cowboys aren't that far off.
Sean Lee for Pro Bowl next season - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archers (sob) final "Five Wonders" post of the season. As always, there are several significant speculations upon which to cogitate. I chose this papal-themed Wonder for your delectation:
Tight ends coach Mike Pope turns 74 in March and has been an NFL assistant coach for 33 years. Jason Garrett holds Pope in the highest regard but there comes a time when a coach wants to retire. Maybe that happens this offseason for Pope. If so, I wonder if the Cowboys attempt to bring in Dan Campbell as their tight ends coach in 2016 provided he does not shed the interim head coach tag with the Miami Dolphins or find himself in the mix of other head coaching jobs. The Cowboys had interest in bringing Campbell in a few years ago but could not make it work. The Dolphins haven’t won enough games but Campbell made them competitive when they were just listless to start the season.
That would be a change, right?
Jerry Jones: Finding a QB for the Cowboys is a 'high priority' - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
In his weekly radio spot, Jones the Elder also addressed the need at quarterback, in his inimitable (i.e. indecipherable) fashion:
"We’re going to try to all the ways – all ways – to come up with a way to get Tony a backup, while at the same time looking toward the future," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Tuesday. "Some people would say that’s dreaming. Everybody wants that, but we have a high draft pick, obviously. We're earned it, and we've got it. If we evaluate and get an opportunity to get a couple of players there, we got to look at it hard."
Decoding Linehan - The Wandering QB Philosophies of 2015 - Bob Sturm, DMN
The Exceptional Sturm with his weekly "Decoding Linehan" segment. Here, he remarks upon the various backup QBs throw charts, which reveal that Kellen Moore has already thrown more deep passes than Brandn Weeden did in three games:
Why, if the Cowboys don't really trust their backups to run the offense, is Kellen Moore now slinging the ball all over the field? Also, earlier in the year, why did Matt Cassel look like a check down machine in some games and a gun slinger in others?
It is almost like the above charts with Weeden got everyone in a room to agree that "safe is death" and that at some point the QB (whoever it is) is going to have to throw the ball down the field at some point. Weeden was the victim of the ultraconservatism from Linehan and Garrett and maybe Moore is the beneficiary.
Brandon Weeden takes shot at Jerry Jones and Jones likes it - Tania Ganguli, ESPN
Jones was asked during his radio interview why the Cowboys couldn't get the same production out of Weeden that the Texans have enjoyed:
"I don't have an answer for that," he said. "I really don't have an answer....Our read on him that he was better coming into a ballgame, but the whole week of preparation and getting ready to play was where his inexperience and whatever was showing. This wasn't the case here. He had the whole week that Houston could prepare and I give their staff and give him their due. Good job."
Hmmm. Looks like his answer is that the Cowboys' coaching staff failed to prepare him during the week...
Uncertain Future Lies Ahead For Mincey, Other Cowboys Free Agents - David Helman, The Mothership
For several Cowboys free agents, Sunday will mark their final game wearing the star. One of them is Jeremy Mincey, who expresses a desire to return, but acknowledges that its not entirely his decision:
"Hopefully I’ll be a Cowboy – that’s my hopes," Mincey said when asked about that. "But that’s up to me and that’s up to the Cowboys organization to allow me the opportunity to be there – it’s in their hands, not mine."
Morris Claiborne wants to play this week in what could be his final game in Cowboys uniform - Charean Williams, Star-Telegram
As with Mincey, this is probably Mo Claiborne's final game in a Cowboys uniform. And, as with the defensive lineman, Claiborne said he would "rather be here" than get a fresh start somewhere else:
"I’m just going to leave it to when it’s time to deal with that," Claiborne said of his future. "There’s no sense in me stressing over it and worrying myself about it. There are things you can’t handle. Just let it roll how we’re going and hope for the best. I know it’s a business at the end of the day. Whatever happens I’ve just got to go with it and make myself a better player and a better person from it and grow from whatever decision is made."
Jason Witten's blocking helped Dallas Cowboys' Kellen Moore stay upright - ESPN Dallas Staff
Many have been wondering why the Cowboys threw the ball to James Hanna instead of Jason Witten on Sunday. The answer? Against Rex Ryan's blitzing defense, with an inexperienced QB under center, blocking is more important than receiving. Check it:
The Dallas Cowboys used their 10-time Pro Bowl tight end frequently as a blocker in max protection schemes to ensure quarterback Kellen Moore had ample time in the pocket to throw the ball in his first NFL start.
It worked, considering Buffalo did not not sack Moore, who threw 31 passes.
Who Is Responsible For The Cowboys' 2015 Debacle? The BTB Staff Debates - Tom Ryle, BTB
The BTB front pagers had a long, occasionally heated email exchange throughout the day on Tuesday and The Estimable Ryle was there to cover all the action. Here, O.C.C. "cooly" dissects the problems with the coaching staff:
We can't let the coaching get off scot free on this one. No way, no how.
Every game, the Cowboys have played like a team protecting a 14-point lead, even when they were hopelessly behind. There was no innovation on offense, hardly any trickeration outside of a few end-arounds, and a complete aversion to going for it on fourth down.
Trading FGs for TDs is not just something that happened, each and every time it was a conscious coaching decision that had the Cowboys kicking instead of going for it. This was the most conservative coaching I have ever seen from a team that was fighting for its life each game.
There was a lot of back and forth; read the whole kit and kaboodle. To my mind, this points to the absence of evident, clear-cut answers to the Cowboys' problems in 2015. I do think that if they treated each off-season as if they had just gone 4-12, much of this wouldn't have happened...
Dallas Cowboys Week 17 Rooting Guide w/ Draft and Schedule Implications - KD Drummond, Cowboys HQ
The Noble Drummond with a sad rooting guide for the final week, in which objective one is to retain the Cowboys' enviable draft position. It won't be easy, given the vagaries of the schedule:
Unfortunately, none of the clubs surrounding Dallas face off against each other and everyone except San Francisco is playing a team either already in the playoffs, or still in contention. The only team that will be facing an opponent with the option of resting? Dallas, as Washington already is locked into the NFC's fourth seed.
As each team plays their 16th and final game of the season, so do the other 15 opponents on their schedule, so the Schedule Strength ranking will add another 31 games to each team’s formula. In the end, Dallas will benefit from every team they’ve played in 2015, save for Miami, losing their final game of the season.
Gooooo, everyone except for Cowboys and Dolphins!