In this edition of Cowboys News we continue to hear about Tony Romo’s future, we hear from tight end Rico Gathers, and we hear David Irving do his best Jason Garrett impression.
The owner's meeting is taking place this week, but John Elway of the Broncos and Stephen Jones have actually been there for six days discussing issues on the Competition Committee. Guess, what? They haven’t even discussed Tony Romo, at least that’s what Elway says.
Not discussed was Romo, the Cowboys’ quarterback.
“We’ve been here all week and his name never came up,’’ Elway said as he was walking in to a hotel restaurant to have a late-lunch with his wife Paige.
The Broncos’ head of football operations then reiterated his faith in the two young quarterbacks currently on his roster, Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian.
Elway is expected to go forward with Siemian and Lynch even if Romo is released to free agency, although never say never with the Broncos’ boss in his quest to bring another Super Bowl trophy to Denver.
The Broncos have been consistent in their denials of interest in Romo, especially since Jerry Jones decided not to release him at the beginning of free agency.
More Tony Romo? This tweet the other day certainly stirred things up.
I had some talks about Romo today. Broncos haven’t closed door but not pursuing. I’m told Romo believes it’s Texans or retirement for 2017.— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) March 24, 2017
Since then, there has been plenty of talk about how the Texans are the best situation for Romo.
The Broncos have said time and again they like their quarterback situation, and their choices of Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch seem more palatable than the Texans’ choosing between Tom Savage or Brandon Weeden.
Indeed, the Texans make a lot more sense than the Broncos for Romo, say ESPN analysts Mark Schlereth and Louis Riddick.
“The likely destination has to be Houston,” Riddick said recently on an ESPN NFL show. “What else makes sense?”
Houston is close to home for Romo, Riddick said, “plus you’re in a division (AFC South) that you’re going to win and face pass rushers that won’t put you under ground like they will in the AFC West.”
In conjunction with the Darlington tweet, Schefter added more fuel to the frenzy.
It's not just FOX in pursuit of Cowboys QB Tony Romo; it's also CBS making a strong push to add him to its team, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 24, 2017
So now you have two networks supposedly ready to fight over Romo. The Cowboys want two teams to fight over Romo, but so far the Broncos have held firm they are not interested in a trade. As for the retirement part to work for a network, Michael Irvin isn’t buying it.
Cowboys Hall of Fame wide receiver and television personality in his own right, Michael Irvin, emphatically believes that Romo will not be retiring before next season. He had this to say on CBS Sports Radio:
“Tony’s not retiring. Tony’s not retiring. Tony loves to play. Tony is a competitor like you’ve never seen,” Irvin said. “I know his body looks like maybe he’s not. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it in the shower. But this dude can play any sport, and he plays it great. He put it on me in basketball. I don’t even try to mess with him in golf. This dude can play any sport and play it great. I want that. I want that on my team. He’s not retiring, I can tell you that.”
The owner’s meeting will probably be the catalyst to move the Romo situation to a conclusion.
Moving on, much has been made about the Cowboys losing players on defense in free agency. As has been argued on these pages, why is everyone freaking out about the Cowboys losing players on defense when everybody thought the Cowboys defense was the problem? Seems Stephen Jones agrees.
Jones also says that change might be good for the maligned Cowboys’ defense because the players they lost weren’t difference-makers, and thus weren’t worthy of overpaying.
“We are not going to get any better on defense if we just keep paying the guys we got,” Jones said. “What we have to do better on defense is we have to get pressure on the passer. And we have to make plays on the ball. We have to do that better.
“Obviously we haven’t been doing that with the guys we got. So how do you get better if you keep paying the guys you got who aren’t making plays on the ball a lot of money?”
Now that’s some solid thinking. Jones said that the Cowboys put a price on each free agent, and if other teams pay more than that, so be it. The Cowboys are looking to the draft, that is where they think they can get better on defense.
Again, Jones said the defensive heavy draft will offer opportunities to upgrade. It was all part of the team’s consideration as it approached free agency.
“People say our biggest issue and the thing that keeps us from winning a championship is the lack of (defense),” Jones said. “We didn’t have the players to be a great defense.
“Hopefully we can address that (in the draft). Now I am not going to say we are going to sit here and pick for need. But I will say before we started free agency we took a snapshot of the draft and knew that it was deep in the defensive line, deep in the secondary. We knew that was the ability to really improve ourselves there.”
More from Stephen on the draft and defense.
Factor in a defensive draft class that team executive vice president Stephen Jones believes is an “inordinately strong,” and it’s no surprise Jones expects the Cowboys to be defensive-minded on draft weekend.
“Of course, as we’ve been saying, certainly our focus in the draft is going to be on defense,” Jones said Sunday from the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix. “You don’t ever want to say that’s all we’re going to take. The best player still applies. At the same time, we’ve made some moves to shore up some of these, especially on offense, so we don’t necessarily have needs on the offensive side of the ball.”
And just what are the priorities on defense?
“Well, I think at the end of the day, the blanket stance on the defense is the No. 1 priority is get more pressure and right there with it is 1-A, make more plays on the ball, turnovers,” Jones said. “We’ve been middle of the pack to lower in terms of those two categories and we have to improve. And that’s how you win football games.”
Rico Gathers recently spoke on the radio and discussed his transition from basketball to football, and his status as a Cowboy. He doesn’t lack for confidence, although he was quick to point out he needed a lot of work as he started his move to football. He makes statements like this: “I went from a person that was completely oblivious of a situation to now, I feel like an animal.” He thinks he is ready to step up and contribute to the roster.
Why this year will be a breakout year:
[Gathers]: Oh, because it's the perfect timing. I mean, [Jason] Witten, he's in his last year and I see them trying to bring me up and allow me to truly show my potential that I showed all year long on the practice squad. [I] created a lot of problems for our defense and stuff like that, which I felt like towards the end of the year, I was ready to be on the roster. I felt like I should've been on the roster. With that being said, I just feel like this year is the year that I [can] really come out and take over and show that Rico Gathers is the heir apparent to Jason Witten. That's just how I feel.
We will get an idea of how confident the Cowboys are in Gathers when the draft is complete. Tight end is often listed as a position of need, so we’ll see if the Cowboys believe it is, or do they think they have something in Gathers.
For a look at how a paper that covers the Eagles thinks about defense in the NFC East, check out the above linked article. They ranked the NFC East defensive cornerbacks, safeties, linebackers and defensive lines. The Cowboys corners ranked third in the division, the safeties ranked third, the linebackers were second and defensive line was third.
And finally, let’s check in on David Irving doing his Jason Garrett impression.