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Cowboys News & Notes: Defense Wins Championships

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Latest Cowboys headlines: the Cowboys focus should be on the defense; Valentine's Day love; cheerleader eye-candy.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday was Valentine's Day and love was in the air.

Okay, that was a little cheesy, but you have to admit - it was better than the Valentines that Blair Walsh was handing out.

Because it's Valentine's Day: A look at some of D-FW's memorable sports pairings, including Miles Austin-Kim Kardashian (of course) - Staff, SportsDay
Who are some of your favorite Dallas couples? Maybe it's the adorable Mr. and Mrs. Romo? Or maybe you don't need a Valentine, like Terrell Owens who "loves me some me." Whatever your preferences are, here are a look at some famous Dallas sports pairings over the years.

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Beach Flag-Football Yumminess (VIDEO) - Sean Martin, Inside The Star
Yesterday was the first Sunday with no football games. It was a little depressing. Here is a little video that may help cheer you up. It worked for me.

History And Recent Past Should Keep Defensive Priorities Real - Mickey Spagnola, The Mothership
The Cowboys have been committed to strengthening their defense over the last couple of seasons. And there is not much of a reason to expect that to change.

Why do you think the Cowboys last year took chances on character guys like free agent Greg Hardy and second-round pick Randy Gregory? They darn well knew they needed to improve, by hook or by crook, their defense if they expected to improve in 2015. Why do you think they used last year’s first-round pick on defensive back Byron Jones? Or in the 2014 draft, after finishing with the worst defense in franchise history and nearly the league history, why do you think the Cowboys traded up to grab defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence in the second round or use six of the next seven picks on defensive guys? Or why they dearly wanted in the first round linebacker Ryan Shazier, taken by Pittsburgh the pick before them, then "settling" for guard Zack Martin at 16 after failing to trade down in the first so they could take Lawrence in a more appropriate spot?

Dollars and Sense: Time for the Cowboys to get defensive - Tyrone Starr, The Landry Hat
During the Cowboys eight Super Bowl seasons, they've shared a similar trait:

Every season the Dallas Cowboys have played for a championship, they have had a top ten defense when it comes to both points and total yards allowed.

They finished in the middle of the pack in both categories this season. What do the Cowboys need to do to get back to playing dominating defense?

Position Series: Linebacker Corps Had High Production, But Upgrades Needed - Nick Eatmon, The Mothership
While the uncertainty of what the team has in Rolando McClain is reason for caution, the quiet performance of Anthony Hitchens is another reason to pump the brakes when it comes to the strength at the linebacker position.

Need More From … This was supposed to be a breakout season for Anthony Hitchens, who still finished fourth on the team in tackles, but the "wow" moments from him weren’t there in 2015. Hitchens battled injuries throughout the year, causing him to miss some practice time. But overall, the Cowboys need Hitchens to step into a consistent role – part of that is giving him a consistent position. His versatility has been a bonus in his first two years, but like all young players, getting a solid position in place will help his development.

Mock draft roundup: UCLA's Myles Jack becoming popular pick for Cowboys - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Of course, the Cowboys could answer the linebacker question quickly if the decide to use their number four pick on Myles Jack.

Jack, who was picked by half of the experts in this roundup, would be Dallas' middle linebacker of the future. Jack, also a running back for the Bruins, fits perfectly with today's pass-happy style of pro and college football. His athleticism allows him to stay with running backs and tight ends in the passing game, meaning he'll be on the field for all three downs.

Five Cowboys free agents most likely to depart: After decline last season, veteran defensive lineman checks in at No. 5 - Brandon George, SportsDay
Brandon George is counting down five Cowboys free agents that he believes won't return to the team in 2016. Sitting in at number five is veteran defensive end, Jeremy Mincey. The writing was on the wall last off-season when he was holding out for a new deal. If the Cowboys wanted to keep him around longer, that could have been the time to do it.

Why Mincey won't likely be back: Mincey is 32 and will play in his 10th season next year somewhere, but it might not be in Dallas after his production declined in 2015. Mincey is a strong locker room presence, but finishing 2015 without a sack won't help him in free agency. Mincey did say, however, that he played all season in 2015 without being able to fully extend his right arm because of bone spurs near his elbow.

But what about the offense?

Cowboys' Off-Season: Where Are The Needs On Offense? - Joey Ickes, BTB
This biggest concern last year was the mystique of how the offense would perform without DeMarco Murray and that part turned out just fine. For the most part, fans felt pretty good about things.

When they broke camp in Oxnard last August and headed back to Dallas, everyone felt great about the offense. No major injuries in the pre-season, the best offensive line in football, a top five quarterback and a top five wide receiver all had fans and media alike excited about the prospects of what the offense could do. And we saw how things could turn so quickly.

After living through last year's dismal offensive performance, how do you feel about this unit now? Joey analyzes this year's depth chart to identify some potential holes.

Cowboys: A Case For Kellen Moore As Backup Quarterback - Christian Blood, Sport DFW
I have this unsettling feeling the Cowboys coaching staff may balk at some potential QB candidates (whether it's through draft or free agency) all because they don't think they'd be an upgrade over Kellen Moore. They felt pretty good about Brandon Weeden last year and stood pat. Could that happen again with Moore?

Moore hit Dallas wide receivers 18 times during a season-ending loss to the Redskins at AT&T Stadium. Normally the No.2 receiver, Terrance Williams caught eight passes for 173 yards in a game in which the Washington defense played a downhill contest. In other words, the ‘Skins knew the pass was coming for most of this game and still couldn’t prevent Moore from chalking up 435 yards passing while going 33-for-48.

There was no football action yesterday, but this happened.