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Cowboys news: Dez, Dak, and Garrett vs the media

And the one fatal flaw of the defense.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
Reports of their estrangement may be exaggerated.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dez Bryant Analyzes His Analytical Soul-Baring Press Conference - Mike Fisher, Cowboys HQ
There is a lot being made of the remarks Dez Bryant made to the media on Wednesday. But if you want to really understand what is going on, read this article from Mike Fisher. He had a second, one-on-one interview with Bryant, and delved into the reality being distorted by many other reporters, including those who claim Dez is going to jump the chain of command to complain about the offensive scheme directly to Jerry Jones.

In reality, Bryant answered in the affirmative regarding his willingness to speak to Jones only because that’s the way the question was phrased:

Do you plan to speak to Jerry about this?

That doesn’t mean Bryant hasn’t/won’t communicate his thoughts in an orderly fashion up the chain of command. Indeed, he told me he’s already expressed his views to position coach Derek Dooley, and yes, he wishes to do the same to others up the totem pole.

Frustrated Dez Says Cowboys Scheme, Knee Injury To Blame For Poor Season « CBS Dallas / Fort Worth and 105.3 The Fan staffs
There were some pertinent things that came out of the open press availability Bryant had on Wednesday, such as his unwillingness to discuss a pay cut, his own responsibility for letting "things he couldn't control" disrupt his performance, and confirming a rumored but never formally reported injury.

“See, that’s the thing. No, I have not (been healthy). I have not. I’ve been dealing with my tendonitis, and I’m shocked that none of you guys didn’t know anything about that. I have, I’ve been dealing with injuries. I’m a warrior, I consider myself a warrior. If I can walk, I can move, I’m going to go out there and try to play. It’s probably dumb. But hey, that’s just who I am. I love this game and I try to push it. But for the most part, yeah … I have been pretty banged up.”

Cowboys ink K.D. Cannon to squad - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
It is not likely to have any real impact on the future, but Dallas is not waiting to look for possible answers at wide receiver.

There’s no way the Dallas Cowboys are enamored with their corps of wideouts in 2017. With Dak Prescott struggling, there hasn’t been a single receiver to step up and elevate the play of his quarterback.

Dallas is showing it’s looking for ways to improve the competition among the group.

Wednesday, the Cowboys inked K.D. Cannon to their practice squad for the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Dak Prescott: Dez Bryant should always be a Dallas Cowboy - Kate Hariopoulos, SportsDay
Dez Bryant wasn't the only player who had his remarks pounced on as evidence of dysfunction in Dallas. Dak Prescott also had a particular remark dissected at length, and he also has sought to clarify things.

After the game, Prescott said: "I just think I have to throw him a better ball. Put it right there on his facemask and don't give him a chance to drop it."

While Prescott has struggled with his accuracy and Bryant has a whopping 12 drops this season, Prescott said the comment was meant to criticize himself.

"There wasn't more to that," Prescott said Wednesday in front of his locker at The Star. "Honestly, it was probably more frustration upon myself than anything. Yeah, the guy was wide open. Put the ball in his face. It wasn't the whole fact of me saying for him to drop it, it was the obvious fact that he was wide open and I know I can make a better throw - to put it right there in his facemask."

Garrett not focusing on job security - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
That bit from Dez about only worrying about what you can control? If it sounds oh-so-slightly familiar, it is because it is a core tenet of Jason Garrett's approach to the game. He was asked about his own future with Dallas, and if you have been following his career for long, you could probably have predicted almost exactly what he would say.

All signs point to Garrett returning for an eighth full season in charge of the Dallas Cowboys. Jones said it’s in the best interest of the organization to keep Garrett even though the Cowboys will miss the playoffs for the fifth time in his tenure.

The Cowboys close the season at Philadelphia on Sunday.

Does it comfort Garrett knowing he has job security?

“It’s not something I think about very much,” Garrett said on Wednesday. “I get focused on what I need to do to do the job as well as I can do it. That is what my attention is and focus is each and every day.”

How Cowboys lost to Seahawks in rarest of ways; one defensive stat explains the insanity of it all - Bob Sturm, SportsDay
Just about anyone who watched last week's game felt that the defense played well enough to win, if only the offense had helped them. But there was one fatal flaw for the defense - they did not take the ball away even once, and that has been an issue all year.

Which leads us to the actual issues of Sunday for the defense. If you are going to choose between giving up yardage or taking the ball away, we certainly know the correlation stats. Takeaways are how a team wins football games. Yardage is generally just yardage. And while we properly place most of the blame on the offense for the way the season has deteriorated, we should take careful note of this defense not generating any takeaways for the fifth time this season. That doesn't lead the league -- Miami has actually had seven games with no takeaways -- but it has led to losses. As a league, regardless of any other factor (quality of the opponent, site of the game, etc.), teams win just 26 percent of the games in which they generate zero takeaways. The Cowboys, now 1-4 in those games (they beat Arizona), are at 20 percent.

Oh, here's a bonus quote from the article. Just to stir things up a bit.

I think Taco Charlton can feel good about the finish to his rookie season. More and more as the year has gone along, he has started to show up a bit more and there are signs that he has a future. I know opinions are all in ink and I definitely had views on draft weekend about the Cowboys taking him, but since he has been here, I have no real issues with his attitude or tools to develop. I think in Year 3, he has a chance to be pretty nice. This shows his size and his power. He closes Wilson down on a four-man pressure that brings a linebacker and drops Maliek Collins into a spy role. Charlton now has three sacks, and we can be optimistic that he can make a run at 6-8 next season.

Cowboys' focus: Finish strong despite no playoffs this season - Todd Archer, ESPN
So what possible reason could the Cowboys have for wanting to win a game on Sunday that can only hurt their draft spot? Well, being compared with a certain unemployed NFL head coach may not be on Jason Garrett's mind - but you could see why it might matter a bit for many.

The only thing on the line with Sunday's outcome is a change in draft position. With a win, coach Jason Garrett would avoid his fourth 8-8 record in seven seasons. If the Cowboys lose and fall to 8-8, only former Titans and Rams coach Jeff Fisher would have more .500 finishes (5).

Ezekiel Elliott on what to expect from him in Cowboys-Eagles game: 'I'm itching to play football' - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
Many outside the team have expressed a wish for the Cowboys to sit as many starters as possible in their last game to eliminate the chance of a freak injury and evaluate some of the younger members of the roster. Ezekiel Elliott begs to differ.

"I only played nine games this season, I'm itching to play football," Elliott said Wednesday. "I don't care if we're playing for nothing, I'm playing for something. I'm playing for myself, we're playing for each other, and so I'm excited to go out and play Sunday. I'm not going to have any problem waking up Sunday morning getting ready to play. You don't have worry about that from me, or from anyone on this team."

Cowboys’ young secondary laid an amazing foundation in 2017 - A.J. Mada, Cowboys Wire
This is a short but pithy piece on the revamping of Dallas' secondary in 2017, and makes this salient point.

Game experience is something that can never be taken away and it cannot be replicated by practice. Experience is exactly what the young secondary of the Cowboys got in 2017 and they will be better off for it in 2018.

Dallas Cowboys' 2018 schedule could feature six 2017 playoff teams - Todd Archer, ESPN
In looking ahead at the 2018 schedule for the Cowboys, this seems like it is not the best situation.

That’s a guaranteed five games against 2017 playoff teams next season: Philadelphia twice, Jacksonville, New Orleans and Carolina. Three other 2018 opponents could make the playoffs this season depending on Sunday’s results -- Atlanta, Tennessee and Seattle -- though the Falcons and Seahawks cannot both make the postseason, so at most the Cowboys' schedule would feature six 2017 playoff teams.

How Adrian Clayborn Ruined The 2017 Dallas Cowboys - Kevin Brady, Inside the Star
If you have to point to one game where things really went south for the Cowboys, it would have to be the one where Ezekiel Elliott started his suspension and, more importantly, Tyron Smith was absent due to injury.

I truly believe that the Atlanta Falcons game ruined the Cowboys offense in 2017. For the first time in his career, Dak Prescott lost all faith in his protection, in his receivers, and in his offense. And to make things worse he didn’t have his All Pro running back to turn to when things got overwhelming for the young quarterback.

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