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Dallas Cowboys News And Notes: Business As Usual For The Ten Other Offensive Starters?

All the news that's fit to link. Today's top storylines: Cowboys lose T. McClain, acquire Cassell; Leary ain't splitting snaps; the Brandon Weeden question; interesting tidbits; praise for the Cowboys' D; whither the running game?

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Another Tuesday, another bevy of roster moves. Ho hum...

Cowboys Lose Defensive Tackle Terrell McClain For The Season - Dave Halprin, BTB

The Boss Man with the bad news. Its next man up along the D-line:

Davon Coleman has definitely shown the ability to make splash plays, the team may choose to use him more as the 1-tech instead of the 3-tech. Ken Bishop is also a possibility.

Davon Coleman, come on down!

Terrell McClain of Dallas Cowboys out for season - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Archer fills out a bit of the missing information in the disappointing T-MAC narrative:

McClain’s injury is similar to the toe injury that knocked Sean Lee out for the final 10 games of the 2012 season. He will need surgery. McClain was credited by the coaches with five tackles in the first two games. He was a valuable part of the Cowboys’ line rotation, but his snaps will now go to Coleman and likely Ken Bishop, who was inactive the first two games.

Cowboys Trading With Buffalo For QB Matt Cassell - Tom Ryle, BTB

The Estimable Ryle discusses the financial ramifications that likely helped motivate the trade on Buffalo's part:

Cassell was the number two quarterback for the Bills, which makes the move a bit surprising, but he was apparently considered disposable, given the relatively low price. The Cowboys had about $7.7 million in cap space before the trade which allowed them to absorb the cost.

Signing Cassel more proof Cowboys are all in for 2015; will he eventually beat out Weeden? - Kevin Sherrington, DMN

In his opinion piece on the Cassell acquisition, Sherrington offers two worthwhile notions:

What this tells you is the Cowboys are all in for this season, despite an injury to Romo that will knock him out at least until the Miami game on Nov. 22. Cassel, who will supplant Kellen Moore once he's comfortable calling plays, will provide insurance for Weeden. Might even eventually beat him out.


Either your back-up needs to be a veteran with a lot of starts under his belt, or a kid you're developing. Weeden doesn't really fit either model.

In trade for Matt Cassel, Dallas Cowboys make sure they are covered - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Archer recounts the behind-the scenes maneuvering that resulted in the Cassell trade:

According to sources, there was a brief conversation with Kyle Orton even though his tenure with the team ended poorly last year when he failed to show up for the offseason work and was threatened to retire. The Cowboys worked out Matt Flynn, McLeod Bethel-Thompson, Josh Johnson and Christian Ponder on Tuesday at their Valley Ranch complex.

As the locker room opened to the media in the afternoon, Flynn and Bethel-Thompson were still in the building as the Cowboys were talking with the Bills about a deal for Cassel. The conversations actually started Monday but it did not look like a deal would be completed. That changed Tuesday afternoon.


Cowboys LG Ron Leary, TE James Hanna on the mend - Rainer Sabin, DMN

The headline pretty much says it all: both Ron Leary and James Hanna expect to be back Sunday for the game against Atlanta. That's okay by me.

Ron Leary doesn't plan on splitting time Sunday against Atlanta - Jon Machota, DMN

In the wake of Jerry Jones's on-air pronouncement that La'el Colins's work on Sunday merited "the right to step in there and get playing time," reporters beat a path to incumbent right guard Ron Leary's locker to ask him about splitting snaps. As always, Leary proved to be a man of few words:

"For me? Nah. Nah," Leary said. "I'm not coming out for no series."


Of course, the burning issue for Cowboys fans is how well (or how poorly) Brandon Weeden will play in the coming weeks...

Dallas Cowboys coaches should have better feel for Brandon Weeden now - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Archer posts his weekly "five wonders" think piece. All are indeed worth wondering about, but I found this one to be the most pressing:

I wonder if Scott Linehan will have a better handle on the dos and don'ts with Brandon Weeden this season compared to last season when Romo was out with two transverse process fractures. What will help the Cowboys is that they won’t see a defense as exotic or aggressive as the Arizona Cardinals last season. They gave Weeden a lot of different looks and their cornerbacks locked down the Cowboys receivers. The Cowboys can’t expect Weeden to make all of the checks and changes Romo makes at the line of scrimmage, but they don’t need to box him in so much that he plays tentatively.

As Cowboys fans, we must stop associating only Weeden with that Arizona game. While he was by no means stellar, there were a lot of factors that contributed to Dallas' offensive ineptitude in that loss.

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett hopes Brandon Weeden can fill in - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

If there is a blueprint for Weeden to follow, Archer postulates, it’s what Garrett did in 1998. Don't remember that far back? Allow Toddzilla to refresh your memory:

Nice was good enough for the Cowboys in 1998 with Garrett. He kept them afloat. When Aikman returned, the Cowboys won four straight games, finished 10-6 and won the NFC East

Cole Beasley on running the 'same offense' with Brandon Weeden, and his advice on getting rid of spiders - DMN Staff

A transcription from a Cole Beasley radio interview. Here, he was asked about what would be different with Weeden under center: Beasley:

It's just a different guy - for me. It's still the same offense, running the same routes, just somebody else throwing it. Nothing really changes for the wideout group. We've still got to get open and make plays for whoever is throwing us the ball.

This is precisely the attitude the entire team must (and, I believe will) adopt in the coming weeks.


File these next two under "interesting tidbits":

Dallas Cowboys contemplating bringing in outside help at quarterback - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

In the midst of a post on the Cowboys quarterback situation, Archer inadvertently references the reason Rob Ryan was fired: if you're going to need to pick up guys off the streets (and all teams will, unless they are incredibly lucky), then you need to have systems that can be quickly absorbed:

Two years ago the Cowboys had to sign a number of defensive linemen during the week and have them play only with a handful of practices.

"We bring them in, and hopefully have a system of football in all three phases that’s easy for guys to learn and pick up and they can play quickly," Garrett said.

Source: Cowboys trade for Bills QB Matt Cassel - Brandon George, DMN

Embedded in a Cassell-to-Dallas story is a tasty morsel about the Cowboys' unusual deployment of Moore last weekend:

The Cowboys signed Moore to their practice squad Sept. 6. Usually practice squad players don't travel to road games, but the Cowboys had Moore go with them to Philadelphia on Sunday. Moore was on the sideline charting plays and listening over the headset as offensive play-calls were sent in to Romo and Weeden.


More from the dominant defensive performance in Philadelphia:

Dallas Cowboys stop run with 'sound and disciplined' defensive effort - Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN Dallas

JJT comes out with a surprisingly strong factoid:

Dallas leads the NFL in first-down defense. The Cowboys have allowed more than four yards on only 14 of 41 first-down carries. The Cowboys also lead the league in second-down run defense, holding their opponent to two yards or less on 12 of 14 carries.

The Cowboys Lock Down Demarco Murray - Rafael Vela, Cowboys Nation

Raf with a superb breakdown of the Cowboys run defense on Sunday:

The key to stopping the Eagles running attack was destroying the effectiveness of center Jason Kelce. He’s Philadelphia’s best interior lineman and the Eagles jump-started their slumbering rushing attack the week prior by running a series of sweeps and counters that used Kelce as the key pulling blocker. He would follow the call side tackle or the call side guard, and cut down the opponent’s middle linebacker, creating wide outside rushing lanes for Murray.

The Cowboys showed very early on that they were ready for any variation of a Kelce pull. Here are two such plays, one from the Eagles’ third series and a second from the opening series of the 2nd half, that show Cowboys linemen shearing Kelce’s interference away and locking Murray down far behind the line of scrimmage.

Cowboys DE Jeremy Mincey responds to Eagles WR saying coaches called out play-calls: 'It might have felt like that' - Brandon George, DMN

In the wake of Huff's allegations, George turns to the Cowboys defensive spokesman for the straight dope:

"Oh, no. that's all myth. It's all discipline. This game is about discipline. That's all it was," Mincey said. "Nobody called out nothing. We called out what we were supposed to play and we played what we were supposed to play and we were in our position like we were supposed to be in. Kudos to Coach [Rod] Marinelli for scheming up a great game plan and for my teammates executing it. They did a great job.


And we'll finish with the ongoing conversation about the Cowboys' running game...

With Tony Romo sidelined, Dallas Cowboys need more from running game - Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN Dallas

Clearly, JJT is consulting the same down-and-distance rankings for all his posts...

The Cowboys are averaging just 3.41 yards per carry on first down, 27th in the league. Last season, the Cowboys were second in the NFL in first-down rushing offense at 5.07 yards per carry.

Dallas Cowboys Nuclear Fallout Assessment 3 of 4: Running Back Committees Look Like This - KD Drummond, Cowboys HQ

In the third installment of his series, The Noble Drummond takes a look at the running backs' production thus far and makes a case that it matches last year's:

How could that be said when the two lead backs averaged just 2.8 and 3.1 yards per carry respectively? Because hitting backs out the backfield has become a way of life for the Cowboys offense. In the first two games last year, Murray ran for a combined 285 yards as he started his journey of eight straight games with at least 100 yards rushing.

No Cowboys back has come close to rushing for 100 yards this year. So again, how is this comparable? Total yardage. Through two games last season, Dallas’ running backs accounted for 390 total yards from scrimmage. This year? They are only eight yards off that pace, checking in with 382 yards combined, running and receiving.

Decoding Linehan - Trying To Run The Offense Without The Stars - Bob Sturm, DMN

The Sturminator's always-excellent weekly look at the Cowboys' offense. In the midst of the article, he stops to make four points about the running game. I found all four so necessary that I couldn't bear to eliminate any of them:

1) The Cowboys run way more zone plays right now than man plays. I don't have the specific numbers from last season, but I would guess it was 75%/25% zone blocking in 2014. In 2015, it appears to be 85%/15% zone so far. Very small sample sizes.

2) Randle is getting the most work, but neither is where they need to be. Randle is at 3.4 a carry and McFadden is at 2.9. Those are tough yards to get in these games, but now without Tony Romo, we should expect it to get more difficult to run, not less difficult. Prepare for a 12-round fight every Sunday.

3) I think this bears pointing out: For my eyes when studying the Cowboys OL, they are not nearly as sharp as last season in the run game. This should improve as we go, but like anything in this league, we should understand that the Cowboys opponents - ESPECIALLY IN THE NFC EAST - have spent all year trying to figure out how to slow this offense down. That means they are working on techniques to deal with zone stretch runs. The league is making adjustments and now the Cowboys must figure things out to get back to being the hammer and not the nail.

4) Joseph Randle has actually made these numbers look better than they are. I witnessed plenty on further study of his runs in Philadelphia where he took negative runs and at least found a few positive yards. For all of his underwhelming statistics from that game (18 carries for 51 yards), I thought he graded out pretty well.

Follow me @rabblerousr


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