The news today looks both to the future and the recent past. The Shrine Game practices are in full swing, while the Senior Bowl is coming next. Meanwhile, one assistant coach is off to another interview with another team, while there are still post mortems to get through for the mangled remains of 2015.
First, some news from the Shrine Game preparations.
Pauline provides some insight into what is going on during the practices. This note may be of interest for you who want the Cowboys to invest in defense during the draft, especially at defensive end.
There are a number of teams at the Shrine Game who grade Kevin Dodd ahead of his Clemson teammate, Shaq Lawson. Lawson is universally considered a mid-first round pick while I claimed Dodd was a second day pick last month. The consensus is Lawson is being overrated while Dodd is underrated.
What teams think is way more valuable than draft Twitter.
Brugler offers his own take on things. One name he brings up could be of interest for the interior of the defensive line.
Florida Atlantic defensive tackle Trevon Coley has lived in the backfield during practice drills, using quick burst off the ball and a wide range of hand tactics to defeat interior linemen. He is shorter than ideal, but uses that natural leverage and lower body flexibility to dip past the shoulder of blockers, finishing with pop. Along with South Carolina State defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, Coley is a step above the other defensive linemen this week.
Brugler takes a close look at one very interesting story. Given that the Cowboys should be in the market (again) for a running back in the draft, this may be a name worth remembering.
No quarterback in FBS history has more career rushing yards than Navy's Keenan Reynolds, who tallied 4,559 rushing yards over the last four seasons. He also set the Division-I record for total touchdowns (88) and finished fifth in the 2015 Heisman Trophy voting.
But with his size (5-10, 200) and skill-set, Reynold's best fit in the NFL is at running back, a position he has never played. However, with his experience as a ballcarrier in Navy's option offense, the transition should go smoothly. And if Monday's Shrine Game practice is any indication, Reynolds looks like a natural at the new position.
Reynolds also is getting work returning punts, which should just make him more interesting.
Meanwhile, people interested in the draft are looking forward to the more prestigious game in Mobile.
After his look at a trio of skill players the previous day, Bryan Broaddus turns his scout's eye towards some front seven defenders, Alabama ILB Reggie Ragland, Eastern Kentucky DE Noah Spence, and Penn State DT Austin Johnson.
Rob Phillips lists fifteen past examples of Senior Bowl participants who have gone on to be big contributors for the Cowboys, including the most recent.
Some of the most impactful players in Jerry Jones' ownership tenure played in Mobile. The most recent pick was guard Zack Martin, the 16th overall pick in 2014 who has since made two Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams. The Cowboys also drafted DeMarco Murray, now with the Eagles, in the 2011 third round after an impressive Senior Bowl week. They took Dwayne Harris, now with the Giants, in the sixth round the same year. Both of their 2005 first-round picks, DeMarcus Ware (now with the Broncos) and Marcus Spears, played on the South team
Oh, and the first one to make the list? Daryl "Moose" Johnston.
The cult of Carson Wentz is strong and growing more so by the day in Dallas. Looks like we can add the always perceptive Bob Sturm as at least a provisional member.
I confess, after watching just about every play he snapped in 2015, I am really excited about Carson Wentz. It is difficult to separate the top 3 QBs in this draft right now, because the spring process is a long one where we turn over every rock. But as I sit here a week before the Senior Bowl - where the Cowboys are trying to be his coach for a week - I can definitely see a scenario where the spring objective for the local team in the draft is to make sure that the FCS Championship game isn't the only time he visits Frisco, Texas.
Oh, and change that "trying to be" to "will be".
And if you'd like to see how things go during practice, this should please you.
For the first time in a decade, ESPN will televise Reese's Senior Bowl practices. The network will broadcast both the North and South practices live from Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Wednesday and Thursday on ESPNU.
Mageors takes a distinctly half-empty viewpoint as he points out various problems with all the popular opinions about what to do with that high draft pick, including the biggest one.
The QB you want might not be there.
I'm a Jared Goff fan, and despite the idea that he is a ready now QB, I want the best possible scenario for the future and I feel like he gives you that comfort at QB of the future. However, he might not be there, so that leaves you with a number of problems.
A) Take Carson Wentz B) Take Paxton Lynch C) Take other position
This is a handy site you may want to bookmark to keep up with the opinions of various draft "experts" - and to be able to laugh at those who get it very wrong.
Now, to look back a bit.
And you think you had a bad time watching last season while it was happening.
"We'll literally go through every running play and every passing play, and we'll have a critical evaluation of it." Garrett said. "We'll look at it a lot of different ways. We'll group the plays together and watch them, we'll watch the games again, we'll watch the situations over again and take notes on every play and every situation and decide what we like and what we don't like.
Makes you wonder if coaches get hardship pay.
The Cowboys were ranked as the fourth best in the NFL by Rich Gosselin, but that was overly influenced by the work of punter Chris Jones and especially place kicker Dan Bailey.
Without big returns, the Cowboys rarely had drives start on the opponents' side of the field. They had to go the long way, so to speak, which made life hard for an offense that did not have Romo for 12 games.
The Cowboys also had 22 special teams' penalties, which was 28th in the NFL. That played a part in the starting position on drives too.
A perceptive look at the problems that arose due to key injuries, which the team failed to handle properly, along some ways to fix them.
Touchdowns instead of field goals in the red zone
The problem: The Cowboys scored only 20 touchdowns in 45 trips inside their opponents' 20-yard line, which tied them for 29th in the NFL. Kicking field goals instead of scoring touchdowns meant the Cowboys rarely built leads that forced their opponents to panic. The field goals also kept the Cowboys from separating from their opponents, which is among the reasons they lost seven games where they were leading or tied in the fourth quarter.
How to fix it: Romo throwing a fade to Bryant against man-to-man coverage is a great play when they're each healthy. When injuries robbed the Cowboys of that play, Garrett and Linehan did a poor job of coming up with a different approach. They should use more play-action passes on first down since they're such a run-heavy team. Or they should use more motion to create matchups they want to exploit. There are a lot of ways to scheme players open in the red zone but Dallas rarely, if ever, did it.
The loss of Terrell McClain in the second game of the season was almost forgotten because that was also the game Tony Romo first broke his collarbone, but getting a healthy McClain back may be a pretty important thing.
Without McClain, the Cowboys had to rotate players behind Nick Hayden at nose tackle and probably played the veteran too many snaps. Finding depth on the interior of the line is a must for the Cowboys in 2016, but McClain offers a chance to find it in house.
Jerome Henderson continues to generate interest from other teams (he and the Cowboys have reportedly agreed he will re-sign with Dallas unless he gets a coordinator's job elsewhere).
The team's secondary coach was interviewing with Jacksonville for the club's vacancy at defensive coordinator, sources confirmed. The Jaguars interest in Henderson has piqued since Jim Schwartz, one of three previous candidates to interview with Jacksonville, accepted a similar position with Philadelphia on Tuesday.
This is the second club Henderson has spoken to since the Cowboys season came to an end. He previously interviewed with Cleveland to become its head coach, a job that went to Hue Jackson last week.
Jerome Henderson sure is is highly thought of in the league for a guy fans wanna run out of town.— Howlin' Mad (@TwoBitWhackJob) January 19, 2016