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Cowboys news: Cowboys think Will McClay will stay, Dez Bryant contract possibilities

And detailed looks at Dak Prescott’s season

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NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Jones: All Indications Are That Will McClay Wants To Remain With Cowboys - David Helman, The Mothership

The Will McClay situation isn’t totally settled yet, but it sounds like he just might stay in Dallas.

McClay has been linked to the Houston Texans’ vacant general manager job in recent days, though Jones did not think he would ultimately leave the Cowboys’ organization.

“I’m assuming that Will’s going to be here until I know something different,” [Stephen] Jones said. “All indications are to me that he’s wanting to remain here with the Cowboys.”

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Reports from around the NFL indicated that Texans vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III interviewed for Houston’s vacancy on Monday, and Buffalo vice president of player personnel is set to interview Tuesday.

While it remains to be seen if McClay gets a look at the job, Jones reiterated his confidence that he will stay in place with the Cowboys.

“We obviously feel good and feel great that we have Will here,” he said. “We think the world of him, and all indications that I can see are that he’s going to be here.”

NFL1000: Ranking the Top Defensive Tackles of 2017 Season - NFL1000 Scouts, Bleacher Report
The NFL1000 folks continue their series, ranking every NFL player at every position. Defensive tackles were graded this week and the Cowboys’ didn’t fare too well with Brian Price ranked 93rd, David Irving 52nd and Maliek Collins 68th. Here’s what they said about Collins:

Collins played 0- and 3-technique this season with below-average ability as a run defender and flashes rushing the passer. His best fit is as a 3-technique. His snap quickness, burst and play strength are all impressive, but his hand usage and pad level are marginal. He often gets pinned and overrun on double-teams, struggles to maintain leverage or shed once blockers get into his chest, and he is primarily effective as a run blitzer when he can stunt across gaps and penetrate. Collins has a solid spin move and club as a pass-rusher, but he lacks an effective counter or bull rush.

Why Vita Vea Makes Sense For Cowboys In 1st Round Of NFL Draft - John Owning, Fanrag Sports Network
Speaking of potential upgrades at the defensive tackle position, Owning looks at a promising player who might be available at the 19th spot when the NFL draft rolls around:

Turn on any Washington Huskies football game, and you will see Vita Vea perform a feat of physical expression that makes you question your previous understanding of the natural world.

While watching a 6-foot-4, 340-pound nose tackle toss aside other 300-pound human beings like they’re a silica gel packet at the bottom of a bag of beef jerky is impressive, but it doesn’t make you question the laws of physics. Watching that same 6-foot-4, 340-pound human chase down someone more than 100 pounds lighter than him on a screen does.

Vea — who finished his college career with 99 tackles, 15 for loss, and 9.5 sacks — isn’t your typical nose tackle prospect. He’s a physically dominant defensive tackle with “plus” athletic traits and a relentless motor. He could also be the Dallas Cowboys’ first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft if the team gets a supremely helpful player.

Dez Bryant, Cowboys would benefit from unpopular extension - Patrik Walker, 247sports
The status of Dez Bryant and his mammoth cap hit next year have many speculating he could be a cap casualty. Walker has other ideas:

And so the recipe goes:

1. Extend Bryant.

2. Fix the scheme so he can dominate underneath, draft (or at least identify) a consistently speedy Z receiving threat to take the top off of the opposing defense and allow said dominance to occur at the second level.

3. Hold Bryant and Prescott hostage on the practice field until the chemistry issues all but subside.

4. Keep Elliott on the field for 16 regular season games.

These are the ingredients to seeing the Cowboys' all-time leader in touchdown receptions return to the upper echelon of the NFL. All it takes is pre-heating the oven to 450 degrees and then crossing your fingers that the team has the right chefs in the kitchen kneading the dough going forward.

From there, it'll rise again.

The two-part decision that derailed Cowboys’ 2017 season - K. D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
Drummond looks at two contributing factors to the second half decline of the Dallas offense. He has some interesting insights into the decline of Dak Prescott:

This goes even deeper, though. Howard broke down how Prescott performs in games where he is or isn’t highly pressured, but within those games reveals that it’s not just the plays where there is pressure.

The pass rush seems to get into Prescott’s head. A lot.

To break this down clearly. Prescott can handle the rush if he isn’t overwhelmed by it throughout the game. In low-pressure games, he fares very well under pressure. However, when there is a relentless pass rush coming at him, then even when the pressure doesn’t come, he’s shellshocked and can’t function at a high level.

Like me, Drummond also feels the coaching staff bungled the handling of the LG position throughout the preseason and those decisions affected the team later in the season:

What the waffling did was rob either player of extended time working between Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick to form the type of bond and continuity that is vital for an offensive line, especially one that runs the zone-blocking scheme. This would seem to be of even higher value for lesser talented players at the position.

To further the damage was Green’s prior status to the competition; swing tackle. That meant that he was spending time learning all of the footwork and hand-technique nuance of the guard position. There is a great deal of difference in playing on the inside and on the outside. Green never mastered it with his limited reps.

The 2017 Cowboys Offense: The Mechanics of Failure - FuzzyLogic, Blogging The Boys
The following comes from BTB’s own FuzzyLogic, who contributes an outstanding FanPost with a detailed breakdown of Prescott’s 2018 season. Come for the in-depth article, stay for the lively discussion:

If you're like me, you're probably old enough to remember a time when the Dallas Cowboys sported one of the best offenses in football. They were exceptionally efficient through the air, not generating a ton of big plays but completing passes consistently and rarely turning the ball over. They were dominate™ on the ground, pounding defenses for four or five yards at a time until they broke and gave up that backbreaking 60-yarder. The offense was so good, in fact, that it propelled the team to a 13-3 record and realistic Super Bowl aspirations despite a defense that could most charitably be described as "competent."

Ah, those halcyon days of.. wait, 2016?! Fast forward less than 12 months and, despite featuring largely the same cast of characters, the Dallas Cowboys find themselves eliminated from playoff contention, having barely escaped the doldrums of another 8-8 season, primarily because the offense has cratered and mustered a thoroughly unimpressive 16 points per game over the season's final eight contests. That includes a stretch of positively Brownsian ineptitude that featured consecutive games of 7, 9 and 6 points, a narrow win over a bad Oakland team that required divine intervention from a folded index card and an "elimination game" performance about which pretty much nothing positive can be said. Oh, and a riveting 6-0 win over a bunch of backup Eagles to ostensibly close out the season on a "high" note.

To channel the legendary Vincent Thomas Lombardi, "What the hell's going on out here?!"

2018 Salary Cap: What Can Dallas Afford? - D.White, Blogging The Boys
Not to be outdone, yet another BTB FanPost from D.White has an insightful look at Cowboys’ free agents and potential cap outcomes to keep them with Dallas:

Cap Hell or Heaven?

Well, neither! Dallas has a good salary cap situation going into the offseason. According to Over the Cap, the Cowboys have a projected $21.515M in cap space for the 2018 season (the actual cap number has yet to be determined). The team will have to make decisions on three key players that will certainly have an impact on that available space - Anthony Hitchens (FA), Demarcus Lawrence (FA), and David Irving (RFA).

There are other holes on the team that will need to be filled. Therefore, fans over the next few months will debate which free agents to go after and how much money it'd take to acquire them. This is my attempt to help clarify what could happen. This is an attempt! I welcome any correction to the information I present below. Please, anyone, enlighten us on the matter. However, I’ll go ahead and take a stab at showing how much cap space could open up and the type of deals our own players could fetch. The team could easily create lots of space. Some moves would be wise, some okay, and some terrible. I'll not even mention the terrible.

Most accurate deep ball passers in 2017 | NFL Analysis - Steve Palazzolo, Pro Football Focus
The PFF folks ranked quarterbacks by their deep ball proficiency and some of us might be surprised to find where they placed one Dakota Rayne Prescott:

4. DAK PRESCOTT, DALLAS COWBOYS

Adjusted Completion Percentage: 46.5 percent

Yards: 534 (21st)

For the second year in a row, Prescott did not take many downfield shots, but he continues to show the ability to throw with good ball location to allow for big plays. He ranked just 27th in deep pass attempt percentage at 8.8 percent, and it’s likely time for the Cowboys to open things up for Prescott in the coming years.