We have to start here, due to its high level of awesome:
The roster builder is here! Have fun playing with all the potential roster permutations - and keep it handy so that you can make adjustments as new information emerges from camp practices. Here's how to do just that, from The Cool One himself:
To make it easier to find the Roster Builder, we've added it to the Library section of BTB as illustrated in the screenshot below. You can access the Roster Builder from there at any time without having to search for the specific post it was originally published in.
Within a few years, Seifert writes, fans of the NFL and other leagues will have the option to "attend" games while sitting at home or anywhere else in the world. They'll have a choice of viewpoints - 50-yard line, field-level sideline, or perhaps right behind the quarterback - and will be able to toggle the view using a tablet. Former Punter Chris Kluwe thinks this will give fans an deeper appreciation of what players go through:
"When you watch a football game from a separated view, you don't get a true sensation of the immediacy and violence of the physical impact," Kluwe said. "It's totally different when you're in the middle of that. All of a sudden the crowd is around you, there are bodies flying in a whirlwind. If the NFL puts these systems in place to capture the perspective of a player, people will find it pretty interesting, I think, but then they would probably also look at it and say, 'This is a lot harder than we thought.'"
After his detailed examination of each sack given up by the Cowboys offensive line in 2014, Sturm flips the field, looking at all the QB bags collected by the Cowboys' defense. Here, he studies games 1-4 (49ers, @ Titans, @ Rams, Saints), which generated the team's first five sacks of the season. Here's Sturm:
In NFL circles, they don’t add up the sacks. They want to know the attempts/sack as a more true metric of pass rush success. How many passes do we need to get a sack? This equalizes the idea that teams get sacks because the other team is behind and is passing constantly....The league average for the above chart is 1 sack for every 15.7 attempts. Buffalo needed 11 passes for every sack this year. The Cowboys in 2008 only needed 9.6 attempts. But this year, the Cowboys were at almost 21 passes per sack.
Is it any wonder the front office targeted an increased pass rush as their biggest offseason priority?
Dez Bryant is voted as the 15th-best player in the NFL by his peers on the NFL Network's annual "Top 100 Players" list. His teammate Reggie Dunn is the cat who proclaims that Dez "Is Marshawn Lynch At The Receiver Position."
Click the title to see the video.
Citing a Jason Cole piece at Bleacher Report (grain of salt, etc.), the DMN claims there were three main reasons no progress has been made of late in the Dez Bryant contract talks:
1. The Cowboys believe Bryant is bluffing about missing games.
2. The Cowboys believe Bryant "ultimately needs the money."
3. The Cowboys are encouraged by Bryant's appearances at camp this offseason.
Know how I wrote last week the Dez deal was much closer to happening than anyone realized? Well, it's a whole lot closer now. #thisclose— Jeff Sullivan (@SullyBaldHead) July 1, 2015
Davison offers five much more, well, thoughtful thoughts on Bryant's contract. I found this to be the most interesting:
2. Should the Cowboys set the wide receiver market?
Stephen Jones has repeatedly said this issue is more than Bryant. It’s a league-wide issue with several teams having star receivers approaching free agency (Atlanta’s Julio Jones, Cincinnati’s A.J. Green and Denver’s Demaryius Thomas). Jones has made it clear that the Cowboys don’t necessarily want to be the first team to "set the market." But they should want to do exactly that. Whichever team gets their receiver locked up first is going to have the cheapest contract of all. No agent is going to let their client sign for less than what has already been set as the market value. So, if I’m the Cowboys, I’m jumping at the chance to set the market because it’s setting the floor, not the ceiling.
As the title suggests, Jasper Brinkley wanted to come to Dallas after twice annually watching Rod Marinelli's work as the Bears defensive coordinator:
"I played in Minnesota for five years and I remember when he was in Chicago, just thinking about those defenses and the guys with the takeaways, a lot of takeaways," Brinkley said. "You think about Charles Tillman, you think about Brian Urlacher, you think about Lance Briggs, you think about Tim Jennings, all those guys. "And just knowing how he gets the D-line going, because it starts up front. The battle starts in the trenches."
Although fantasy football aficionados are waiting for McFadden or Randle to gain separation from a group that includes Lance Dunbar and Ryan Williams, Wessling writes, Scott Linehan strongly suggested that this will be a committee effort throughout the season:
"I just think that we have a complementary backfield," Linehan said. "They're going to spread out the carries. Some games are going to be different than others...Maybe one guy is going to have more in one game than the other or maybe sometimes two guys are going to split the carries, sometimes it's going to be three. Again, it's to be determined. It is a bit rare to have the one guy carry all the load."
The Babe's weekly ask-and-answer session. Here, a reader wonders how he might handle the future QB situation:
I have said it many times, but I would be drafting QB’s every chance I got. At worst, they become extremely valuable trade commodities. Teams that really get stuck are the teams that have no QB, so they have to overdraft one in the first round, spin their wheels for 3 years trying to make it work, then start the process all over again. Over the last 20 years, no team has been better at not only drafting QB’s, but identifying good ones than the Packers. Had a HOF QB in Brett Favre in his prime, yet drafted Aaron Rodgers Seems to have worked out quite nicely.
In part II, Laufenberg is asked whether he expects the Cowboys to recapture their 2014 magic in '15:
Everything did work out last year. They were 3-1 in games decided by three points or less, 4-1 in games decided by seven or less. Obviously when you play games that close, it comes down to one play at the end, one kick, one catch (GB?) one call. So that was impressive, winning the close games. The other impressive stat that gets overlooked is the fact that when they took a lead going into the 4th quarter, they were 10-0. (11-0 including playoffs). That speaks to finishing the job.
Wonder why the Cowboys re-upped former safety and special teams ace Danny McCray? Look no further than this story, which began early in the 2014 campaign: former Cowboys special-teams player C.J. Spillman has been arrested on a sexual assault charge in an alleged 2014 incident at the team hotel, that city-within-a-hotel monstrosity, the Gaylord Texan Resort.
Harrison comes out with his annual head coach rankings. After finishing 23rd last year, the Cowboys head coach finds himself in the middle of the pack:
14. Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Garrett was one of the more difficult head coaches to rank. It seems like folks are more underwhelmed than wowed by him, but it's tough to find serious flaws in his coaching record. Garrett took over a 1-7 team in Week 10 of the 2010 season and led Dallas to a 5-3 finish down the stretch -- with Jon Kitna at quarterback. While his Cowboys finished 8-8 three seasons in a row, they were in position to win the NFC East in Week 17 of each campaign. In 2013, hopes were dashed when Tony Romo was injured for the season finale. Last year, Garrett and the Cowboys surprised everyone, actually raising hopes with a 12-4 mark and a two-game playoff run.
In case you were wondering about the division's other coaches, Tom Coughlin came in eighth; Chip Kelly was a spot ahead of Garrett, at thirteenth, and Jay Gruden was a distant 29th.
And, speaking of the division, we end with a quick tour of NFC East news...
Although many Philly fans are hoping former Wisconsin Badger John Moffitt can be another Evan Mathis-like reclamation project, Spadero cautions them to tap the brakes a bit:
In a sense, Moffitt is "just a guy" who has a chance to win a job on a 53-man roster. Nothing more, nothing less.
Pflum follows in the footsteps of, well, everyone, and offers up his version of the All-Division team. Of course, he picks Eli Manning over Tony Romo, but his most controversial (and blatantly homerish) choice has to be this one:
Jason Witten doesn't make the list at all? Well, I found it hard include him despite a HOF worthy career, when he was coming of his least-productive season since his rookie year in 2003. Instead, I'm going with Larry Donnell, who in his first season as an NFL tight end, did manage to be one of the top-10 receiving tight ends in the league.
When asked during an ESPN appearance whether he thought Bob Griffin was good enough to succeed in the NFL, former signal caller Mark Brunell dropped this bomberino:
"I do not," Brunell said, "From what I've seen the last couple of years -- listen, he burst onto the scene and that was impressive -- but like I said, he has gone backwards. It's not just his decision-making, it's his fundamentals. He's taking too many hits, he's quick to get out of the pocket. Last year was difficult to watch. Does he have the skill set? Yes, but we haven't seen it in some time."
Well, at least the 'Skins have used premium draft picks to build a good team around...oh, wait. Never mind.