Let's begin here, shall we?
NFL off-season report card: Dallas Cowboys - Chris Burke, SI.com
Burke reviews the Cowboys offseason and gives the team a "B+" for their efforts. Here his candidate for Dallas' best acquisition:
Randy Gregory, DE
Gregory recorded 17.5 sacks and 25.5 tackles for loss in just 24 games at Nebraska. He was a first-team All-Big Ten and third-team All-America player last season despite being hampered by injuries from September on. We here at SI ranked him No. 3 on our prospect Big Board headed into the draft.
Other mentions: Biggest loss: DeMarco Murray; Underrated draft pick: Damien Wilson; Looming question: Will La'el Collins claim a starting job?
Cowboys' Randy Gregory watching film of Simeon Rice - Kevin Patra, NFL.com
Patra writes that Rod Marinelli has been showing Gregory oodles of film of Simeon Rice:
"I watch a lot of Simeon," Gregory told NFL Media's Tiffany Blackmon from the Rookie Symposium on Thursday. "His length is probably the biggest thing I've taken notice of. He uses it very well and that's something I've really been trying to do. My long arm I think is getting better in camp and it's only going to get better the more I play, and Jason Taylor, he's real athletic, tall guy, long, kind of myself. So they're real athletic. They do a lot of good things and I'm gonna take the things that Coach Marinelli preaches and get off the ball. I'm trying to get off the ball as much as I can."
This bats in the two hole just because it's awesome...
Cowboys fan crashes DeMarco Murray's wedding - John Breech, CBSSports.com
An account of a guy who crashed DeMarco Murray's wedding and took a bunch of pictures to prove it. Here's how he managed it:
It all went down at the Four Seasons in Dallas, where two wedding receptions were happening at the same time. Drake, our wedding crasher, was attending his buddy's reception at the Four Seasons when he found out that Murray's reception was happening at the exact same time in another part of the building.
At that point, the "lifelong Cowboys fan" decided to make it his mission to crash Murray's reception.
Photos of Tony Romo, Jason Garrett, Sam Bradford and others in attendance at the nuptials available here.
Some Dallas Morning News chats do yeoman's work in filling today's news post...
Why I think delay on decision of Greg Hardy's appeal should encourage Cowboys fans - Tim Cowlishaw, DMN
Some Cowboys-centric questions from a Cowlishaw chat. Here's what he says when asked what is going on with the Greg Hardy decision:
I take this as a good sign for Cowboys fans. The league is trying to figure out when they can announce a reduction in games that will get the least attention. The morning of Fourth of July? Final round of the British Open? Actually, it has to be coming soon, it has been nearly a month.
Dez will be there when it counts; I expect he gets long-term deal for 2016 - Tim Cowlishaw, DMN
Part II of the Cowlishaw chat sees him asked to guess the Cowboys leading rusher in 2015:
Unless he gets hurt, I expect it to be Joseph Randle. I think it would be a real surprise if Darren McFadden came in and took the most carries away from him. Randle has youth and speed on his side. McFadden could be an interesting backup.
Why Sean Lee won’t be same player but can still be outstanding - Babe Laufenberg, DMN
The Babe's Wednesday chat produced some content. Here, in the first of the chat transcripts, he's asked about sponsors on player's jerseys:
That is coming, no doubt. And I cannot even imagine the amount of money that will be paid. It will be crazy, stupid money. I have always said that owning an NFL team is basically a license to print money. They will be printing a lot of it when that happens…Already on practice jerseys. Game jerseys are right around the corner…let’s just hope their jerseys don’t look like NASCARS driver suits.
I won't like it, but I'll probably adjust...
I think Dustin Vaughan will push Brandon Weeden for No. 2 QB spot - Babe Laufenberg, DMN
Laufenberg's chat yielded a second set of questions and answers. Here, as the title promises, he responds to a query about Brandon Weeden and Dustin Vaughan:
I don’t know if it is fair to judge Weeden on the Arizona game (they had a great defense) but that is the way it is. I will say that no QB in NFL history could have had more practice time as a backup than Weeden. Romo missed all of spring, skipped some training camp practice, then did not practice on Wednesdays last year. So Weeden was as prepared as a backup could ever hope for. I am interested to see the progress of Dustin Vaughn this year. Very interested. I think he has a chance. Would love to see him push Weeden for the backup job, and if the Cowboys give him a legitimate chance, I think he might do just that.
NFC East Q&A: Can anyone match the Philadelphia Eagles' offense? - Phil Sheridan, ESPN
Sheridan, the Eagles beat man, asks whether or not the other teams in the division have caught up to Chip Kelly's offense, which averaged 30.3 points and 417.7 yards per game against NFCE foes in 2014. Here's what Todd Archer has to say about the Cowboys:
The Cowboys had no answer for Kelly’s offense on Thanksgiving, giving up 464 yards and 256 of them on the ground. The pace of play and a short week left them grasping at straws. In the rematch, however, the Cowboys were much better (294 yards, 75 on the ground) and essentially clinched the division. The Cowboys’ focus for the offseason was to improve the defense. They added Greg Hardy, who will miss both Eagles games as of this writing because of his 10-game suspension. They drafted Byron Jones and Randy Gregory. They will welcome back Sean Lee. I do think the Cowboys have closed the gap a bit on Kelly’s offense, but the Eagles will be dangerous for every foe.
A Counterpoint To ESPN's Question About How The Cowboys Will Deal With Chip Kelly's High Octane Offense - Dawn Macelli, BTB
Our own D-Mac with her own take on Sheridan's question. Hint: it's much more detailed than Archer's response.
Despite Fewer Practice Reps, Weeden Sees "Big Difference" In Comfort Level - Rob Phillips, The Mothership
Phillips teases out the connections between Brandon Weeden and the Cowboys use of virtual reality technology. Here's one:
A stronger, healthier Romo means Weeden must maximize reduced reps. The virtual reality technology should help, and he has a much better feel for the scheme one year into the job. Now it’s getting down to the "nuts and bolts of protections," he says, and refining certain nuances within the offense.
Andrew Gachkar offers four big factors why Cowboys were right fit for him - Jon Machots, DMN
The headline promises four factors, and Machota delivers the goods, straight from the former Charger's mouth:
"No. 1 was Bisaccia. Having Eberflus here was a good thing," [Gachkar] said. "My wife’s from Dallas, so that was a big thing. No state tax here, obviously, so that helps. Those were all big factors."
2014 Cowboys Sack Registry Part 5 (Playoffs): Lions cause Dallas fits - Bob Sturm, DMN
Sturm's chronicle of every sack yielded by the Cowboys O-line in 2014 continues with the two playoff games against the Lions and Packers. In those two games, a line that had given up 30 sacks in 16 regular season games surrendered ten sacks. Much of that, Sturm suggests, had to to with Romo holding onto the ball longer to make a play in a do-or-die game. To wit:
In the playoffs, the Cowboys were sacked once every 6 pass plays. They allowed 10 sacks in only 60 passes. That 16.7% sack rate is far, far beyond the 5.9% of the regular season. From one sack every 17 passes in the regular season to one sack every 6 passes? What gives?
...The Cowboys put a ton on their QB in the playoffs – they ran the ball ok, but not great – in those two post-season dates. So, they turned to Tony Romo to take them to the promised land, and he almost did. But, in doing so, he tried to keep some plays alive that clearly in a normal game in Week 6, he would not be asking as much of his OL and of himself.
This makes sense. As a quarterback, you wait to expose yourself to injury and your offense to negative plays until it really matters: true must-win games. That's what Romo did when taking back-to-back fourth quarter sacks against Detroit when the Cowboys were already in field goal range (numbers 5 and 67 on Sturm's list): a negative wasn't going to take them out of range, and a big play could well be instrumental in winning. The choice is obvious.