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Cowboys News: Carroll cut, Paea retiring, Wilson cleared

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It is not shaping up to be the bye week we expected.

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos
So long.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The bye week has been anything but quiet for the Dallas Cowboys, with some unanticipated personnel moves and continued controversy dominating the headlines.

Source: Cowboys cutting cornerback Nolan Carroll, putting more trust in Jourdan Lewis - Cole Patterson, Blogging The Boys
Nolan Carroll was always an unpopular signing for the Cowboys, at least among the fans. And he did nothing during his brief tenure to really change peoples' minds.

Carroll was brought in to improve the secondary, but that has not been the case this season. He suffered a concussion in a week two loss to the Denver Broncos, and he hasn’t suited up since. That, combined with his performance on the field when healthy, makes this an expected move. Carroll just wasn’t cutting it.

Aside from Carroll’s underwhelming play thus far, rookie corner Jourdan Lewis has made it easy for Dallas to make this kind of move. Despite giving up the game-winning touchdown last week, Lewis has been far and away the most impressive rookie for the Dallas Cowboys.

Salary cap impact of Cowboys releasing CB Nolan Carroll | KD Drummond, Cowboys Wire
Our old friend and salary cap guru KD Drummond explains the salary cap impact of releasing Nolan Carroll. Quick summary: It will save about $650K this year, but will bring a $2 million dead money hit in 2018. Click the link for the detailed breakdown.

Nolan Carroll's release opens door for rookie CB Marquez White - Patrik Walker, 247 Sports
Getting cut is rough for Carroll (although the guaranteed money from his deal should be some comfort to his bank account), but as always, one player's misfortune is another's opportunity.

If anything, the move frees up the starting role for rookie sensation Jourdan Lewis -- while also turning eyes to Marquez White, a pickup from the 2017 NFL Draft who currently sits on the practice squad. It's likely with these two thoughts in mind that the Cowboys felt comfortable pulling the trigger on Carroll, and it makes perfect sense.

Source: Cowboys defensive tackle Stephen Paea is retiring - RJ Ochoa, The Boys
The Cowboys had a second very unexpected loss on the roster. In addition to releasing Nolan Carroll, they found out that Stephen Paea is retiring, apparently due to continuing problems with his injured knee.

Paea’s retirement comes on the same day that word surfaced about the Cowboys releasing Nolan Carroll. They were two of the team’s bigger free agency signings this past offseason (the Cowboys didn’t make any huge signings) and they are both now gone permanently. They both began the season as starters.

Report: Cowboys sign free agent LB Justin March-Lillard - Patrik Walker, 247 Sports
To take the place of Nolan Carroll on the roster, the Cowboys have decided to bolster the troubled linebacking unit.

According to Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News, the team has opted to sign linebacker Justin March-Lillard, who was a roster casualty of the Kansas City Chiefs as they worked to trim their 90-man roster down to the mandatory 53-man head count. The Cowboys would put in a waiver claim to land his services, but lost out to the Miami Dolphins.

Now a free agent, Dallas wasted little time grabbing him this week. For his part, March-Lillard is excited and ready to get to work.

Cowboys linebacker Damien Wilson avoids charges in July 4th assault incident - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
Among a lot of rather negative personnel news, there was one bit of good.

Back on July 4th of this summer, linebacker Damien WIlson was arrested for aggravated assault charges after a dispute over a parking space at a fireworks celebration. It was alleged that Wilson bumped another person with his truck and that he brandished a rifle during a subsequent argument.

Wilson will not face any charges from the incident after the grand jury sent back its judgement today.


OK, enough of all that. Let’s get onto some actual football stuff. Unfortunately, it is not all good, either.

Dallas Cowboys: Staggering! The Cowboys defense's clear point of vulnerability, especially since this starter's injury | Bob Sturm, SportsDay
In the weekly Marinelli report, Bob Sturm points to just how much the Cowboys have missed star linebacker Sean Lee.

But I think the common denominator is the Cowboys linebackers getting carved up pretty badly. It is an unlikely weak spot on the defense, but I have no choice but to point the finger there - because consecutive Cowboys opponents did so when they came in here. Everyone is talking Aaron Rodgers, but, you held him to 221 yards. The other Aaron was the guy who seemed to be holding the bloody weapon most of the day.

Ranking all 32 NFL offensive lines by average grade, Week 5 | NFL Analysis | Zoltan Buday, Pro Football Focus
Although you have to take PFF ratings with a grain of salt, especially for the O line, they do reflect the reality that things have just not gone as we normally expect for Dallas' group.

14. DALLAS COWBOYS

Average offensive lineman grade: 64.6

Even though Dallas has been among the best offensive lines in recent years, they have yet to reach that level this season and it is largely due to the play of the new pieces on that line. Left guard Jonathan Cooper and right tackle La’el Collins currently rank 62nd and 56th, respectively, at their positions in PFF grades, respectively. Nevertheless, single games can heavily influence rankings this early in the season and the Cowboys offensive line had one of its worst games in recent memory against Denver in Week 2 when it allowed 23 total pressures – the most by any offensive line that week – on 55 passing plays and had the third-worst pass-blocking efficiency rating that week.

5 Observations From Cowboys Coaching Film Against Packers - John Owning, Fanrag Sports
Owning looks back at the video of the Packers loss to find the good and the bad of the performance. Just to be optimistic, let's go with the biggest positive.

Clouded in the Cowboys loss was the fact that quarterback Dak Prescott had one of his best performances as a professional. Prescott went 25-for-36 for 251 yards, three touchdowns and an interception (which wasn’t his fault). On top of that, he also ran the ball four times for 37 yards and a touchdown.

Prescott has had a unique ability to win inside and outside of the structure of Dallas’ offense. When Prescott needs to drop back and hit a receiver in rhythm, he does. When no receivers are open or his protection breaks down, he uses his legs to either extend the play, which gives his receivers time to get open, or run for positive yards.

As a bonus, he also came away with this take on Jonathan Cooper's performance in his second start at LG.

This week, Cooper not only improved but played at a high level. He showed good mental processing to handle and pass off stunts, and he created movement at the point of attack — an area where Chaz Green struggles.

Film Room: Solving the Cowboys' No. 2 receiver job - Marcus Mosher, Fansided
This season, Terrance Williams has not been as effective as he has in the past, and the interception that went through his hands against the Packers was a huge turning point in the game. Is it time to give the WR2 job to someone else who is playing better?

One thing is clear; Prescott does have a connection with Brice Butler and he’s able to make big plays down the field. In just five games and being limited to a part-time role, Butler already has four receptions of over 30 yards (Williams has just four in his last 21 games).

Butler, while not as refined as route-runner nor as a blocker, is a much better fit with Prescott because of his ability to make plays on the ball down the field.

David Irving is just what the defense ordered for the Cowboys | A.J Mada, Cowboys Wire
David Irving came in after his suspension and played like he hadn't missed a day. That is a great sign for the future.

With offenses beginning to double team Lawrence, Irving will need to continue to win his one-on-one matches. At tackle he has the ability to directly collapse the pocket and can force quarterbacks to move laterally, hopefully right into the arms of Lawrence.