Rightly or wrongly, this proved to be the day's biggest story, so we might as well start there, eh?
During an interview with Mike Doocy on Sunday, defensive end Jeremy Mincey opened up about several topics, including Jason Garrett and, of course, fellow D-lineman Greg Hardy. Archer's article offers three choice Hardy quotes; the first is about the way 2014's locker room vibe changed due to growing tension in 2015:
"I hate [that] it happened. You talk about a team that was so close knit and tight, and all of a sudden it was just different," Mincey said. "I wouldn't say that he's the reason for that happening, but sometimes change, sometimes if it ain't broke, don't fix it. You know what I mean? And sometimes with change, the team is different. Regardless of how great this athlete is and regardless of this and that, if they're not mentally on the same page, you're not going to get the same results."
Mincey also shared that Hardy was "too much" and, in perhaps the most damning statement, said that he couldn't again be on the same team as Hardy, largely due to their divergent leadership styles.
Here's the video of the full interview:
Can confirm, #Cowboys DBs coach Jerome Henderson will remain with Dallas. "As far as I know, he was never going to Miami", a source says.— Mike Leslie (@MikeLeslieWFAA) January 12, 2016
Another interesting coaching development, involving a former Cowboy:
The Cowboys were one of three teams that inquired about Dan Campbell's availability before Campbell gained his release from the Miami Dolphins to seek other job opportunities, according to a source. The other two teams were the Minnesota Vikings and the San Diego Chargers.
Although the Cowboys have expressed interest in Campbell, they have yet to request an interview with him.
As the article suggests, one of the primary questions about Campbell would be: what position(s) would he coach? Tight ends coach Mike Pope still has a year on his contract, after all...
The Broad One's position-by-position review of the Cowboys impending free agents turns to the offensive line (and James Hanna, who he fittingly includes here rather than lump him in with the wide receivers). They have a couple of tough decisions to make on Ron Leary and Mackenzie Bernadeau. Here's what the front office will be weighing in the latter case:
Height: 6-4 Weight: 322 Position: OG/C
2015 Performance: Bernadeau saw limited action in 2015, playing mainly when the starters were hurt. He started in Week 2 against Philadelphia after Leary strained his groin, and he entered the season finale against the Washington Redskins when both Leary and La’el Collins were injured. He filled in at guard and played well. Played with mobility and power. Was put in several situations where he had to handle blockers one-on-one and he as up to the task.
2016: Forecast: The one thing you know about Bernadeau is that he can line up and play center, which the other guards have not shown they can do. Zack Martin has worked at center during practice but has not played it in a game. With Bernadeau, the coaches have a comfort level with him and that could go a long way in working to re-sign him. The problem the front office faces in this decision is whether another team comes after him with the chance to start.
Archer's positional reviews continue with the Cowboys' linebacking corps. After recapping what transpired, linebacker-wise, in 2015, he offers a look ahead:
Lee has a home at the weak-side spot, and Hitchens can play middle linebacker if McClain does not return. The strong-side spot is less of an issue because of how much the Cowboys use their nickel defense.
But that doesn’t mean the Cowboys are set. Lee has yet to play a full season, missing two games this year and parts of two others. Hitchens has been banged up in his first two years. Wilson and Nzeocha are unknowns entering their second seasons.
Linebackers coach Matt Eberflus has had to mix and match with his group the past few years and has a way of putting players in position to succeed.
Archer reviews the running backs. After a lengthy re-visitation of the many permutations at running back in 2015, Archer offers a bite or two for thought:
Do the Cowboys make a bid to keep Dunbar? He had a chance to sign an extension last summer but passed, hoping he could have a big free-agent season and cash in. He has gone through a vigorous knee rehab before and bounced back and he expressed optimism at a return after the season. He has showed in spurts he can be a difference maker. The question is if the Cowboys will trust his health.
Machota looks at the three players at the top of the Cowboys 2015 draft haul. Easch gets a sizeable review; here's the concluding paragraph on Byron Jones, courtesy of the Cowboys' Executive Vice President:
"I think he's going to be one of the great players of our No. 1 picks," Stephen Jones said last month on KRLD-FM. "What he's been able to do, come in and play free safety, outside corner, nickel corner against their top slot receiver, nickel corner against their best tight end. I mean he does it all and does it in the middle of a game. That's unheard of."
Dilfer has been in our news posts a lot lately, probably because of the distinct possibility that the Cowboys could secure their future franchise QB in April. And Dilfer believes that whoever that might be will have stumbled onto a fat slice of good fortune:
"Of all the places you could go, the best is the Dallas Cowboys because you have one of the classiest, smartest, best players you're going to learn from. So you're going to learn how to be a pro and play the position at a super high level from a guy who is playing in front of you. And you may end up playing earlier than you think because he does have a history of injuries. And I love Tony. He's one of my favorite players."
He's one of mine, too, Trent.
Sturm's film review of draft prospects continues with a peek at Clemson DE Shaq Lawson, who just finished showing off his wares (although not his DeMarcus Wares) in the NCAA Championship Game on Monday. As with most collegiate DEs these days, the question is one of burst: does he have the elite take-off speed to succeed in a Marinelli 4-3? Here's Sturm's take on that very question:
The question will be whether he can demonstrate to teams that his quickness and burst are in the proper range, because those traits don't improve with age. Then, for me, the question becomes in a 4-3 like Dallas runs, would he fit the role of a DeMarcus Ware/DeMarcus Lawrence type (weak side RDE) or is he more of an Anthony Spencer? Obviously, those are three exceptional football players, but Ware is the type of guy you would value in the top half of Round 1, whereas Spencer might be in that next group from 20-50 as a strong-side defensive end who is much more of a complete defensive end than an elite pass rusher.
Want to judge for yourself? Check out Lawson vs. Miami, FL (a two-sack game, as it turned out):