As I have often said, anything written by Mr. Sturm is worth reading, even should you not agree with his conclusions. When you do agree with them, Bob helps you understand the why. That is the case this week as Sturm delves into the success the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff is currently experiencing and how Jerry Jones is the man behind it all coming together for them.
The job Scott Linehan has done with the offense has been as top notch as any Cowboys offense in recent memory. Combined with the job Rod Marinelli continues to do with his rather anonymous personnel on the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys appear well-coordinated and organized. Then, Jason Garrett ties it together with some rather uncharacteristic ruthlessness and aggressiveness.
[After 2015], it seemed that a side with less patience might decide that the coaching staff required a major overhaul and that fresh eyes might do better in charge of this roster.
But, to the credit of all involved, the boss himself did not even think of changing his coach. This is notable because, to be honest, very few head coaches get to their seventh season without anything more to show for it than a solitary Wild Card win in year five (to be fair, the fourth full year).
So the coaches and the front office went to work. And to their credit, they worked feverishly to conceive of some plans that would withstand the potential of attrition once again offering major changes. Football is a game of attrition. Injuries will occur. You will lose important pieces. So, any design that requires the presence of Tony Romo and otherwise would collapse without him is a poor design as Romo tried to begin his second decade under center.
O-line coach Frank Pollack finds success in mastering the mundane - Todd Archer, ESPN
Frank Pollack has helped mastermind the Cowboys' success by keeping the offensive line mentally prepared, Archer writes in this profile of Pollack.
While rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are the most prominent faces of the Cowboys’ turnaround in 2016, what is truly driving the success is the offensive line.
When he arrived on the Cowboys’ staff in 2013, Pollack brought with him a change to the wide-zone blocking scheme. While he was the assistant offensive line coach at the time, he had more hands-on work with the group than Bill Callahan, who was also the play-caller.
Things have not gone perfectly for the line this year. Smith has missed two games because of a bulging disc in his back. Left guard La’el Collins is on injured reserve after undergoing toe surgery and been replaced by Ronald Leary. Chaz Green, who replaced Smith, suffered a foot injury and has missed the last two games.
Yet there has not been a drop off. The Cowboys have run for at least 180 yards in each of the last four games. Elliott leads the NFL in rushing with 703 yards. Prescott has been sacked just 11 times.
Cowboys Can't Go Wrong No Matter Who Is at QB - Mike Freeman, Bleacher Report
Mike Freeman explains the critical role the front office had in building the the team to succeed this year.
One longtime AFC general manager made a point to me in the last few days that few people have considered when it comes to who should start in Dallas once Tony Romo is cleared to return.
"It doesn't matter who the Cowboys' quarterback is," he said. "That offense is set up right now so any swinging **** could run it."
Alrighty, then. He's not alone in his opinion. Why are so many bullish on Dallas? There are a few reasons.
First, said the GM and a handful of other longtime front office executives with whom I spoke, the Dallas front office has built one of the NFL's best offensive lines. Not just for this season. Not only of the past few years. But of all time. We in the media don't see it that way, the general manager said, because there's no version of Nate Newton with a buoyant personality calling attention to the line.
Second, added this general manager and others, running back Ezekiel Elliott might end up being the best rookie runner in league history. "He's having the best season any rookie runner ever has," said the general manager. "Better than Jim Brown's or Eric Dickerson's or Barry Sanders'." Not statistically, the GM admits. He means in terms of pure impact. He's likely not wrong.
So, combine one of the greatest offensive lines of all time with one of the most effective rookies of all time and, this GM explains, you get a situation where very few quarterbacks would fail. Consequently, either option will work for the Cowboys at quarterback.
RB Coach Wants Zeke Thinking "Landmarks," Not Records - Staff, Dallas Cowboys
Instead of talking about rookie rushing records, RB coach Gary Brown likes to talk about landmarks for each play.
"Every run we have has a landmark," Brown said. "Every run we have has a pace. So he needs to make sure he’s on point with that landmark and that pace because the guys up front are working very hard for us to get to those landmarks. So we have to make sure we’re doing our part."
Elliott’s biggest appeal to fans is probably his ability to break free for huge gains in the open field, but the Cowboys are more concerned with making sure he never comes short on the expected to yardage assigned to each specific play. "No matter what the situation of the game is we have to make sure we hit those landmarks," Brown reiterated.
Cowboys' defense inspired by 'Mighty Orphans' nickname - Charean Williams, The Star-Telegram
Rod Marinelli named his defense after Jim Dent’s book, 'Twelve Mighty Orphans'. The residents of the Fort Worth Masonic Home Orphanage became a high school football powerhouse in the 1930s and ’40s despite the odds.
"Coach Marinelli always has something he comes up with every year," Tyrone Crawford said. "This year it’s ‘The Mighty Orphans.’ It’s kind of how we live, the mentality of being treated with less [respect]. We’re Rocky, not the Russians. We don’t get the high-class treatment, but we get the job done."
Zeke is taking the league by storm as a rookie and the obvious comparison is to the man who set the mark for rookie running backs.
Elliott leads the league with 703 rushing yards, 116 yards more than Buffalo's LeSean McCoy. Elliott, with a 117.2 yards per game average, is on pace for 1,875 yards. That would break the league's rookie mark of 1,808 yards that Dickerson had in 1983.
It would be great to see the rookie rushing record fall to the hands (feet?) of the young ball carrier out of Ohio State, but as for Elliott himself, he is tired of hearing about it. Elliott would much rather discuss the contributions of the guys up front who are giving him the holes to run through. When asked if the record would be nice, Elliott admitted as much, because credit would belong to the whole offense.
"It would be, because it takes 11 guy. It would be our record," - Ezekiel Elliott
The Veteran Dallas cornerback has a rather unusual pregame ritual that he indulges a couple hours before each game. Carr goes through a process where he routinely backpedals down first one and then the other sideline. Nothing unusual about that until you learn that Brandon goes through his routine barefoot.
Carr started the routine in the Aug. 25 preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, feeling the turf -- and rubber pellets -- in his toes.
"Just trying to find a way to get myself mentally locked in and get a routine going," Carr said. "I always work out barefoot in the sand and do those things and I just liked the way my feet felt on the ground. It's a good way to get range of motion and ankle flexibility and it something that stuck with me. I'm just making it mine right now."
Cold weather is coming soon, and Brandon already has a plan in place for when Dallas visits those could weather sites like Philadelphia which is coming up in January.
Even Forbes is getting involved in the looming quarterback controversy in Dallas. From his Tony Romo will be back as soon as he is healthy stance a few weeks ago, Jerry Jones is starting to backpedal rather quickly. There are many factors, not just Romo's veteran experience, at play here and Tornoe looks briefly at some of those.
After all, Romo has the third highest career passing rating of any quarterback to ever play in the league. He’s also proven he can play in the postseason, and gives the Cowboys their best shot at making a deep postseason run. Let’s also not forget the five teams the Cowboys have beaten without him have a combined record of 11-18. Not exactly the elite of the elite.
Jerry Jones should stop waffling and do the sensible thing – start Romo when he’s healthy enough to play. Or better yet, maybe he should just stay quiet and let his coaches decide what’s best for the team. That is what he’s paying them for, right?
It is rare that I add a post from our own site to the morning news links, but in this case I would be remiss to leave out one of the best pieces I read all day. VAfan takes a look at what the Cowboys have been able to do this year to overcome injuries in a way that they could not do last season.
Dan Bailey's right leg is as much a weapon in the Dallas arsenal as any other player on the roster and to enter the stretch run with him at less than 100% is disconcerting for the fanbase. After an early season bout with a stiff back that threatened to sideline the kicker, he is now back to 'nearly' normal and by the time the team faces Philadelphia he expects to be in perfect order.
"Last week in Green Bay, I felt pretty close to being there," Bailey said. "It wasn’t quite there. At the same time, I’m kind of somewhat of a perfectionist, so I like for everything to be exactly as it should be at least in my head. I think just judging that progression and this week off, and we’ll have another week of practice, I think I’ll be good [for the Eagles game on Oct. 30]."
Voice of the Cowboys Brad Sham sits down with Daryl Johnston and discusses the 'DQC', the dreaded quarterback controversy.