The writers at the mothership start their look back at the state of the Dallas Cowboys after the meaningful football activities wrap up for the offseason (pending contract and suspension stuff). Nick Eatman's take reflects some of the cautious optimism a lot of us are feeling.
The fact that this question took me a while to answer is a good thing. There aren't a lot of glaring concerns. Running back could be up there, but I think this offensive line will open up enough holes to help any back that lines up there. But I think the biggest concern for this team is just the overall defense. Yes, it was improved last year but it has to take the next step for this team to move forward.
The post provides both a link to the full interview and some choice excerpts about how Jason Garrett is bringing the things he learned as a player to his job as head coach.
"You can never really recreate another team based on an earlier team, but I do think you can learn from the experiences you've had. One of the things we've tried to do is reconstruct our offensive line over the last four years. We've allocated a lot of resources to that position, and I think it's had a really positive impact - not only on the other players on offense but throughout our team."
Yes, it's still early, but Todd Archer is very knowledgeable about the Cowboys, and his proposed roster makes a lot of sense. He goes with six cornerbacks and four safeties, which seems to be an idea gaining a lot of traction of late. Other parts of it are subject to discussion, but it is a good place to start.
Rotoworld takes note of the fact that Archer doesn't see room for Ryan Williams on the roster, despite his spurning multiple offers to play elsewhere to stay on the Cowboys' practice squad. He looks to have a steep hill ahead of him in camp.
Sometimes it is good to get a perspective from someone who is not as obsessively focused on the Cowboys as we are around here. It is a little comforting to see some of the things noted as those close to the team have. He makes the identical call here as Archer did in his projection above.
Between now and the end of training camp the Cowboys will have to decide which backs they will carry into the regular season. I can't envision a scenario where they keep more than four runners, That number would include the fullback spot that will likely go to incumbent Tyler Clutts. As it stands now, I expect Randle, McFadden, and Dunbar to be the three runners who make the team.
It is not much of a stretch to say that Joseph Randle (or Joe, as he prefers to be called now) has perhaps the biggest opportunity on the team - if he can just avoid going all stupid again.
He led most of the individual drills throughout offseason workouts and regularly worked with the first-team offense. With a month to go before training camp, taking over as the lead back behind the Cowboys' talented offensive line appears to be Randle's job to lose.
"I think Joe really has to make sure he takes care of everything on and off the field," Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown said. "We want to trust Joe. We like Joe, but we want to make sure he's going to be with us at all times."
Brandon Carr has been seen as a disappointing player for Dallas. One thing that is forgotten is that he lost his mother to cancer early in training camp, and it seemed to set him well behind on finding his game last year.
"Ultimately the last month of football, I feel like I was getting back to form and playing some pretty good football. Just kind of bad that it got cut short on us. But this year, we can grind harder to get to that next level in our season."
The frustrating situation with Dez Bryant has allowed the rest of the wide receiver depth chart to get in some extra work. Devin Street is looking to do big things in his career, which may sound a little overconfident given his only catching two passes in his rookie campaign. But his head coach likes what he is seeing.
"Again, not a lot of opportunities but he was doing the right things. I do think he has grown physically over the last year. He's stronger, he's quicker, he's faster. Those are all measurable things we have seen in our strength and conditioning program. And that stuff is starting to show up on the field."
It seems everyone is somewhere between intrigued and wildly excited by the package of DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory rushing the passer (with Jeremy Mincey expected to sub for Hardy during that suspension that is just dragging on and on in the appeals process). And leave it to Garrett to point out another benefit for the team, given that the New York Giants also use a very similar approach defending passing downs.
"It's also good for the offensive line. When those guys break the huddle they know they're going to be challenged. We feel like we've tried to upgrade in that area and we're excited about training camp to see how those guys respond."
The biggest hole to fill on offense after DeMarco Murray is probably swing tackle. Dallas drafted Chaz Green as a candidate for the job, but he had to have hip surgery after a couple of weeks of OTAs. The beneficiary of that is Darrion Weems, a player the team has been high on, but who has not lived up to his promise - until, perhaps, now.
The fact that Weems hasn't been playing is a big factor in why he seemed lost in the shuffle at tackle. He injured his shoulder almost at the outset of training camp last summer, and he was sent to injured reserve without playing a snap for the season.
"He's dealt with a couple of injuries the last couple of years. So even though he has been in the league, he's still inexperienced," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.
If there is an afterthought on the Cowboys roster right now, it may be UDFA quarterback Jameill Showers. He may realistically be trying to justify a spot on the practice squad, but is there any other team in the NFL that an undrafted QB would rather want to be trying to make?
If there's one team that won't overlook an undrafted rookie quarterback, it should be this one. Two of the three on the roster were not picked, including Romo, who is now the face of the franchise. That's not to say the Cowboys are expecting Showers to be either Romo or Vaughan, but he'll get the chance to prove himself.