After the mostly positive 13-3 season the Dallas Cowboys had in 2016, we were probably overdue for the nattering nabobs of negativity to step up, and there's quite a bit of that in today's summary of the latest Cowboys headlines.
Hill is voicing some skepticism about how the Cowboys are handling their offseason. There are certainly some elements of his argument that can be disputed, but it is still worth considering. And he does deserve some credit for throwing some serious shade.
Remember, this team has a championship pedigree and resides in North Texas, not Philadelphia.
And they don't hang NFC East title banners at AT&T Stadium.
The deal Terrance Williams signed is seen as very team friendly, but Todd Archer makes the case that they might have been better off using the cap space on the defense.
Would the Cowboys have been better served to use the money they put into a Williams' deal into Barry Church, Brandon Carr or Morris Claiborne?
In Church and Carr, the Cowboys had defenders who did not come off the field and would approach 1,000 snaps a season. Claiborne's injury history makes him a tougher argument in the Williams debate, but he plays a position that is more important than a receiver that ranks fifth on the offensive totem pole.
George also makes an argument that the Cowboys may have erred in the way the handled the departure of so many defensive backs.
Yes, this year's draft is deep in defense. But the Cowboys select 28th overall and have only seven draft picks to work with, none in the fifth round.
With no significant defensive addition via free agency, the Cowboys have several holes to fill. They certainly don't have the luxury to again take a risk in the second round by selecting a player who might not be ready to help right away.
Taylor piles on with another downer look at what the Cowboys have done so far in free agency, contrasting it with the rest of the NFC East's moves.
The Cowboys finished fifth in the NFL in points allowed (19.1) last season, but that was as much a product of the team's ball-control philosophy and Ezekiel Elliott's running as it was defensive prowess. Dallas was among the best in the NFL in terms of time of possession, which kept its defense off the field.
This is a defense that didn't generate many sacks (36) or turnovers (20) last season. And while nearly half of the Cowboys' defense has signed with the other teams, the rest of the NFC East has been fortifying their offenses.
Prisco offered up a power ranking, which at this point may be even more meaningless than mock drafts. Nonetheless, here is what he said about the Cowboys, who he has ranked eighth - one spot behind division rivals, the New York Giants.
The losses on the offensive line will be key, but the bigger issue remains the pass rush. They suffered some hits on the defensive line and in the secondary and still have to decide what to do with Tony Romo.
Eatman takes a look at how the defense would line up without adding the draft picks this year. Maybe it's the blue Kool Aid speaking, but this really doesn't look all that bad.
If there is currently one hard and fast rule for Dallas, it is this.
The Cowboys are sticking to their free agency plan. It's not flashy, but it's really no different than past offseasons, intensified this year by the team's modest salary cap space: they've looked for cap-friendly deals, not big-money contracts.
Executive vice president Stephen Jones foreshadowed this approach in late February at the Combine: "Not a huge fan of having to go out and pay guys a lot of money, filling in big needs through unrestricted free agency," he said. "We'd rather build through the draft and then pay our own players."
The Cowboys have been a bit reluctant to take small school prospects in recent years, but this one is not a hard and fast rule. They are doing their due diligence heading into the draft.
Ashland College held its pro day at the local high school and 16 NFL teams were represented, including the Bears, Saints, Steelers, Raiders and Lions, who all sent their tight ends coaches to work out Adam Shaheen, one of the fastest-rising prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Shaheen (6-6, 278) stood on all of his numbers from the combine, but was put through a brisk workout that had everyone talking. So much so, he left his pro day with private workouts set up with six teams: Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Arizona, Philadelphia, Dallas and Tennessee.
The saga of Tony Romo drags on. Colangelo offers a cogent argument for how the Houston Texans are playing with fire by trying to wait things out to get him without offering up any draft picks.
Romo going somewhere other than Houston may force the Texans to draft a young quarterback early, which might be a reach. Rick Smith and Bill O'Brien should at least consider investing in a prospect in this year's draft even if they know they can land Romo. The Texans are stuck in a tough position after absolutely whiffing on every swing they take at a star QB. They can't afford to miss one now.
One of the questions dealt with the possibility of Quincy McDuffie and/or Jameill Showers being possible darkhorse candidates to play a role this season, and David Helman had a good answer.
Both guys are intriguing - especially McDuffie, who was the best kick returner in the CFL last year. Players like this are exactly why teams take 90 guys to training camp. Put some pads on and see what you have. At the same time, it's usually a mistake to expect much from guys like this. I'd bet that 90 percent of the time, they don't make the final roster. But there's something special about that 10 percent, as Tony Romo and Cole Beasley could tell you.
Chris Jones is possibly the most overlooked player on the Cowboys, but he has been very reliable in recent years, and of course is the holder for Dan Bailey as well. And last year, he got a couple of real highlight video plays, including this one.
With the Cowboys leading the Lions, 42-21, in the fourth quarter, Jones punted away to Detroit return man Andre Roberts. Credit to Roberts, he managed a 23-yard return and broke out to the left sideline en route to good field position.
But that was before he ran into Jones, who absolutely dumptrucked him on the sideline. Maybe it wasn't the best tackle in NFL history, but it was certainly one of the more crushing blows a punter has ever delivered. It was just another reminder that Jones is in fact an NFL athlete - regardless of what position he plays. The tackle went viral as the Cowboys cruised to an easy win.
We all know about Scott Linehan's work as offensive coordinator, but his recognition in his home state also acknowledges that he was a pretty fair college passer in his day.
Linehan was quarterback for the Idaho Vandals in the early 1980's, throwing for more than 7,000 yards in his time with the school. His son, Matt, has decided to follow in his father's QB footsteps there as well, no doubt pleasing his father to no end.
After his career ended with the Vandals, father Scott was then signed as an undrafted free agent (1987) to the very same Cowboys organization he now lends his coaching talents to. Seeing life come full circle, Linehan re-joined the team in his new capacity in 2014 -- where his impact has been immediately felt.
There was also some general NFL news of interest to all of us.
The NFL is proposing some new rules and procedures to improve the flow of games, with a focus on improving the experience for the viewers. If things work out, it looks like a good move for us.
Goodell told USA Today the goal isn't to shorten games, although he estimates the changes could reduce game length by about five minutes.
"We know how annoying it is when we come back from a commercial break, kick off, and then cut to a commercial again. I hate that too," Goodell wrote. "Our goal is to eliminate it."
There are some other changes on the table that hold some promise for making things both more watchable and more consistent - and maybe even a teensy bit more fun.
Other frequent targets of fan angst also are being addressed. Goodell confirmed the NFL intends to begin hiring some of the 17 full-time officials permitted under its labor deal. He also expects the league "will be loosening up the celebration rules to allow the players a little more expression of their enthusiasm," though the competition committee continues to study that issue, as USA TODAY Sports reported last month, and discussions likely will extend beyond the next meeting.
It looks like the Las Vegas Raiders are about to become a reality, and that is largely due to the influence of one Jerry Jones.
As The Washington Post notes, the committee running point on the issue is recommending it for a full vote. Nothing is certain until 24 of the 32 owners vote in favor of the move, but it's expected to happen. It's unlikely that all 32 owners would be voting on the issue if there was much doubt that it would pass.