It's the dead time of the year while coaches, staff and players are squeezing in some last down time before the (hopefully) six month long grind of the NFL season begins. There are a lot of lists and such being put out by the few writers who are not also taking the opportunity to relax a bit. When I saw this, the only thing that came to mind was "Man, why didn't I think of that?" My favorite one:
3.) Locking up their offensive and defensive coordinators. The Cowboys arguably had the best combination of coordinators in the NFL last season. Rod Marinelli is as good as they come when you're talking about defensive football. The same can be said about Scott Linehan when talking offense. To build off last season's success, it was critical to keep the continuity throughout the coaching staff. Both signed three-year deals.
A lot of us were somewhat surprised the Dez Bryant deal was only for five years. This article raises the idea that, now that he has his big payday in hand, the Cowboys might be able to extend him for a real "Cowboy for life" deal if he is not slowing down towards the end of the current contract.
If Bryant needs any reinforcement from within, he can look at Tony Romo and Jason Witten. Romo is 35 and coming off his best season. Witten is 33 and doesn't look to be slowing down.
Considering how Bryant takes care of himself, he and the Cowboys, barring something unforeseen, should be going through the negotiation dance again in 2020.
Joseph Randle caught quite a bit of flack with his now infamous "meat on the bone" remark about DeMarco Murray. During a radio interview, NFL all-time rushing champion and Cowboy great Emmitt Smith offered some pretty emphatic support for that idea.
Emmitt Smith on DeMarco Murray: "I saw some opportunities there that were left on the football field where he could've had 2,500 yards."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) July 20, 2015
The always insightful Sturminator, who is held in very high regard by some (see Landon McCool's Twitter timeline, for example) offers his take on the decision to go with Bryant over Murray.
As it turns out, the Cowboys basically traded Murray for Greg Hardy. And football wise, you could argue that is a much smarter move, especially if Hardy can play 12-14 regular season games and you would assume have a chance to make a run at 10 sacks. Again, if you knew you would be able to get Randy Gregory in the 2nd round, you may have opted for Murray over Hardy, but again, it is much easier with hindsight.
It looks more and more like the plan in Dallas is to get Dustin Vaughan ready to become the number two QB. The question is when. Many fans are unhappy with Brandon Weeden and would like to see the move happen this year, which could let the team go with just two quarterbacks on the roster. But is that a realistic goal for 2015?
By keeping two quarterbacks that could open up an extra spot at tight end, wide receiver or even offensive line, but it might be asking a lot of a quarterback who was at West Texas A&M two years ago to be the Cowboys' No. 2
Todd Archer, who is hands down the best Cowboys writer ESPN has, looks at the safety battle for camp, including the idea that Byron Jones or Corey White may offer an option there.
White saw more time at safety in the spring than Jones. While he is not expected to push Church or Wilcox for a starting job, if he can show the ability to handle the spot, then that opens up possibilities for defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli in how he employs his sub package defenses. Marinelli likes to keep it simple by using five defensive backs most of the time but the Cowboys practiced their dime defense more in the organized team activities and minicamp.
In a Q&A, the color man for the Cowboys' radio broadcasts offers up some thoughts, including what it is like to have to cover the game when he really wishes he could sit and enjoy it.
I love football, and at the NFL level, I so appreciate just how difficult it is and what great athletes these guys are. The margin for error is razor thin. When the Cowboys played Denver two years ago and I am watching Peyton Manning and Tony Romo just being brilliant and Romo throwing for 500 yards and 5 TD's, I just wanted to grab a beer and sit in the stands and admire their brilliance. Those are the kind of games where I turn to Brad Sham and say, "And they are paying us to do this?" To which Brad probably says something like, "I certainly hope so."
There are only so many balls to go around, but the Cowboys may lean more on the passing game in the post-Murray era. It could provide some more opportunities for the reliable and elusive Cole Beasley, also known as the Spud Webb of the NFL.
Football Outsiders has any number of fancy new metrics to evaluate NFL talent. For wide receivers, one of the most useful new stats is catch rate. It doesn't hurt that it is also a stat which doesn't take an advanced math degree to calculate. Take the number of times a receiver was targeted and divide by his number of catches and you have the player's catch rate. Last season Cole Beasley had a catch rate of 76%, (49 targets, 37 receptions). This was good enough for third place in the league among receivers who were targeted at least 45 times. The only players with higher catch rates were Wes Welker of the Denver Broncos and The New Orleans Saints' Brandin Cooks (each with 77%)
Old friend KD Drummond offers up a list of things that have to go right for Dallas this year. It seems a long list, but there is some good food for thought, including this.
2015 Darrion Weems has to be better than 2014 Jermey Parnell. Parnell acquitted himself well enough to earn a fat contract with Jacksonville, but the run game suffered when Free was lost for the year. With third-rounder Chaz Green looking injury-iffy, Weems will be the swing tackle and must be ready to keep things moving smoothly should he enter ball games.
The Cowboys quarterback had some kind words in his Twitter account for the new darling of the pro golf world (and fellow Dallas-area native), which is not surprising given Romo's own love of the game.
I wonder if @JordanSpieth understands the emotional roller coaster he's given us this year. It was amazing. Thank you for making it fun bro— Tony Romo (@tonyromo) July 20, 2015
The NFL is not overly fond of publicly announcing details about its business. The phenomenal amounts of revenue pouring in undermines its ability to try and keep more money for the owners and out of the pockets of the players. But the per-team share of the broadcast monies are now out because of the Trojan Horse that is the unique status of the Green Bay Packers. Oh, and to save you having to do the math, the total for the entire league is a staggering $7.24 billion.
The Packers are required to announce earnings because they are technically a public entity, although the franchise's 360,760 shareholders hold stock that they paid for that has no value and cannot be traded.
And remember that this staggering figure excludes what the teams collect in ticket sales, concessions, and the like.
More comparisons to help put $7.24 billion in context:
- More than every Steven Spielberg movie ever at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo.
- The NFL could buy four space shuttles.
- 10 Pluto missions with enough left over to pay Peyton Manning to run them.
- Since 1997, American taxpayers have contributed a total of $4.7 billion for NFL stadiums.