Wednesday was the day Jason Garrett joined reporters at the annual "coaches breakfast," where he answers rapid-fire questions for an hour while his eggs and toast get cold. That, and a brief interview with Jerry Jones provide the bulk of today's news.
We might as well start with Greg Hardy...
In an hour long interview at the NFC coaches breakfast Wednesday, Garrett was peppered with questions on Hardy. Here's the answer that that leaped out at me:
"At the end of it, we decided we could bring him in under the right circumstances -- the conditions of the contract were important. No guaranteed money, earn it every step of the way. At any point, if we don't feel like you're doing what we want you to do as a player and as a person, we can move on from you without any salary-cap consequence, all those things are very important to us," he said.
Well, the headline pretty much says it all. Jones the Elder:
"When the Dallas Cowboys made this decision, we knew there was going to be a ton of awareness and a ton of debate. That’s just what happens when we get involved. So in that sense, I think that Greg won’t do this again and that’s why we signed him to the team."
Goodell said the NFL expects to conclude its review of Greg Hardy in the near future and his decision will follow shortly thereafter. In the meantime, he reported that it was no problem that a team signed the former Panther before the league finished its review:
"Any team was free to sign Greg Hardy,’’ Goodell said when asked if he thought the Cowboys should have waited until the review was complete. "They understood that we were reviewing his case for potential discipline and that it continues."
Jerry Jones, Moore argues, said what everyone outside the organization knows but no one inside the club has said until now: with the Hardy move, talent trumps character. Here's Jerry:
"The real world is that you don’t get all that. One of the things that we need to do at all times is be looking toward becoming a better football team. That’s all of our jobs.’’
Although Charles Haley was out of town when the Cowboys signed Greg Hardy, he plans to seek out the Cowboys' newest D-lineman at the first opportunity. And he has stuff to say:
"That’s what I tell all these guys. If you want to make money and be successful, you need to dedicate yourself on the field and avoid those situations off the field. Everyone has a phone or a camera that can record or take pictures of whatever you do. You always have to act like you’re in a little fish bowl with everyone looking at you. And you must act accordingly."
When the Dallas Cowboys line up their first-team defense during the organized team activities later this spring, Archer notes, Greg Hardy will be the starting weak-side defensive end. But he won't be locked in at that spot; check his head coach:
"If you watch him play in Carolina, he plays 3-technique, he plays the nose tackle, he plays left end," coach Jason Garrett said from the NFL owners meetings. "He rushes outside on third down. He rushes inside down. He has great versatility as a player. A lot of different skills. You can use him in a lot of different spots. He is a guy who plays a lot for them. We believe in rotating our defensive line, kind of coming at the offense in waves. He is a guy that played so many snaps for them in a lot of different spots."
The notion the Cowboys couldn't have re-signed Murray is false, Archer asserts; they could have paid him whatever they wanted to pay him. Not only could they have paid Murray, they could have had Hardy, too, since there were/are plenty of salary-cap tricks available to make that happen. What it would have done is added another high cap figures to the offense. Jerruh explains why that might be problematic:
"We have great receivers. We have a great quarterback. We have a great offensive line," Jones said. "We're trying to get more defense so you have to make some tough decisions. "We felt like this was our best decision or we wouldn't have done it. Certainly, our players and everybody in our organization understands the concept that you can't have everything."
Jason Garrett was asked how the competition committee could spend months reviewing the catch that wasn’t by Dez Bryant, alter a few words in the rule and arrive at the same conclusion: it wasn’t a catch.
"I can not explain that,’’ Garrett said
I feel you, coach. I feel you.
Toddzilla reminds us that, until Dez Bryant either agrees to a long-term deal or signs the franchise tender, he's under no obligation to attend offseason workouts. But Jerry Jones is in "what, me worry?' mode:
"I’m not worried about that at all, and it’s because of how much he loves the game, how much he knows that preparation, practice, all of that improves him," owner Jerry Jones said in this Star-Telegram story. "He’s at a time in his career where he’s physically still very much improving, can get better. The biggest reason I want a long-term agreement with Dez is so we’ll have a deal with him for a long term -- but not as far as impacting what we’re doing this year in terms of what Dez’s performance will be or what we are as a team. We’ve got that in place with the franchise. So I’m not worried. I know how much he loves to play football, I know how much he loves his teammates, I know how much he loves his team and I know how much money he’s getting. With all of that, you play."
Archer argues that Jason Garrett will have to navigate more situations in 2015 that could prove tricky than in any other year of his coaching tenure. And this may be the trickiest of all:
Expectations around the Cowboys are always high, but coming off a 12-4 finish in 2014 and a playoff win, the expectations will be ratcheted up even more. And the Cowboys should have a more difficult schedule than 2014 when they were matched up with the AFC South. While it’s never easy in the NFL, it is easier to take a team that Garrett inherited in 2011 and turn it into what it became in 2014. The harder step is the next step.
Broaddus' roster series continues with a look at the last Dallas free agent re-signed:
Would ideally like to upgrade the spot with a younger more athletic player but it has been proven that you can play competitive defense with him in the lineup. Is not as bad as most people believe he is. Will always be a leader in the locker room and with the other defensive linemen. Most likely a bridge to the next guy in the upcoming draft where there are several nice options. Is always going to give you the best he has. Limited athletic ability but outstanding intelligence and toughness. You always have a role for those types of players.
Oh, those silly national guys. They write about the Cowboys but they know almost nothing about the Cowboys. Benoit gives them, in order, Preston Smith, Duke Johnson (the one back noticeably absent from the "every good back in the draft" will get a pre-draft visit narrative) and Bryce Petty.
Color me unimpressed.
Machota's draft preview series continues with a look at defensive tackles. Give me Grady Jarrett. Please.
Sturm's excellent draft profile series marches on. On Wednesday, he goes to the tape on the Texas A&M offensive tackle who was once regarded as the top player in the 2015 draft.The Sturminator:
I must tell you at this point – with the performance on tape, the injury, and the lack of being able to show his wares on the spring – he might be falling a ways. I like that arm length and those feet and there are tapes where he is fine for 50 snaps in a row, but when you are looking for a tackle, you can be picky for those who have warts and see if they are still there in the 3rd or 4th round. I don’t think he is in the Top 50 anymore, but I have to believe that there will be someone with an interest in forgetting about the 2014 tape at left tackle and just fixing him for their franchise as a rookie 3rd "swing" tackle.
Hmmm...the Cowboys need a talented developmental swing tackle.
Barnwell looks at the total value of each franchise's draft picks, from the Browns to the Bills (wonder which team got the better of last year's draft day trade?). The Cowboys come in 26th, which means that they have less draft capital to spend in April than all but six teams. In other words, they'll be hard pressed to have the kind of draft that will go down in the annals of great drafts.