The Incredibly Perplexing Case Of David Irving – Bob Sturm, The Athletic
Bob Sturm is back, now writing for fledgling sports site The Athletic. His first off-season post looks at a question that has interested many of us: the Cowboys’ seeming lack of enthusiasm regarding on David Irving.
So, why are the Cowboys internally debating his future to a point where it is highly possible he has already played his last game in their uniform?
It appears he has been a headache quite often during his tenure with Dallas. There has been frustration at times from making sure he was handling his body correctly to even making sure he was serious about his concussion recovery in December. In fact, you could argue that he was a headache at Iowa State, which caused him to go undrafted in the first place.
He is certainly a player that will occasionally try an organization's patience or make NFL lifers roll their eyes when he wears too much jewelry to practice – and bad things happen.
But, frankly, I have seen the Cowboys deal with much bigger headaches for decades. The idea they are drawing a line in the sand on Irving is quite perplexing.
A year ago people assumed Prescott would break the quarterback salary bank after his rookie deal expired; now people are wondering if he’s a starting-caliber quarterback. Archer notes Prescott’s play in 2018 is as important for him personally as for the team as a whole.
Last week the San Francisco 49ers gave Jimmy Garoppolo -- who has seven career starts -- a five-year contract worth $137.5 million. Kirk Cousins could get more on a yearly average than that by next month as an unrestricted free agent.
Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger also could be looking at lucrative extensions as soon as this offseason.
Quarterbacks always take up an inordinate amount of salary-cap space. It speaks to the importance of the position and the lack of quality quarterbacks to go around. For years, former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's cap figure dominated the team's balance sheet. Last year, Romo counted $10.7 million against the cap and he wasn't even on the roster. This year, Romo will count $8.9 million against it, and it will be his second year of not playing.
The Cowboys can't sign Prescott to a multi-year extension until after the 2018 season, per league rules. After excelling as a rookie (23 touchdown passes, four interceptions) in 2016, Prescott was not as successful in 2017 (22 touchdowns, 13 interceptions) and the Cowboys missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
For Prescott, finding that 2016 form is imperative from a team perspective but also from an individual standpoint.
Over at the mothership Rob Phillips looks at the possibility of drafting a potential replacement for future Hall of Famer Jason Witten.
In 2017, Jason Witten played 1,050 of a possible 1,068 offensive snaps. He’ll be back for his 16th NFL season at age 36. Could the Cowboys look to the draft to groom someone as his eventual successor? The Cowboys have younger tight ends with potential: Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin and Rico Gathers, who missed the 2017 season with a head injury. James Hanna has been a solid rotational player for years. Gesicki is a good athlete and a downfield/red zone threat in the passing game, but he needs to work on his blocking – one of Witten’s underrated qualities over the years.
JJT weighs in on the Cowboys need for improved play from Prescott and thinks a vanilla predictable scheme does the youngster no favors.
Jason Garrett’s offensive scheme, which is essentially the same scheme the Cowboys used to win championships in the ‘90s, is a relic.
It’s a system based on personnel - not scheme, which works just fine when you have the proper personnel at your disposal- and when it doesn’t the Cowboys struggle to move the ball.
When an offensive system is based on scheme - not personnel- then it can absorb key personnel losses a lot better.
All you have to do is look at the teams in the Super Bowl to prove it.
Name all the star offensive skill position players Tom Brady has had, while leading New England to eight Super Bowls.
Look at how Philadelphia won a championship after trading for its starting running back in October, losing its star left tackle midway through the season and quarterback Carson Wentz, who was in the midst of a MVP season, in December.
When an offensive system is built on scheme it’s a lot easier to find plug-and -play players.
Too many mock drafts to keep up? The good folks at Inside The Star have done the heavy lifting and summarize a number, including one that predicts the Cowboys landing safety Derwin James via trade (I wish).
The Cowboys hitting on a play making safety to start off their draft would be a home run. Between now and April, the hype for new passing game coordinator Kris Richard will only grow, as the Cowboys expect even bigger things out of last year’s rookies Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, and Xavier Woods.
Adding an instinctive player like James to roam around with the rest of this young and athletic secondary could truly turn the Cowboys’ secondary into one of the NFL’s best. Derwin James would instantly improve this team’s rushing defense with his ability to sniff out plays and tackle in space, as well as the looks they can provide in coverage – seamlessly playing back against the pass with range and length.
As if there was any doubt:
Inside the Star also ponder a question many BTBers have asked: where to play Byron Jones.
In 2018, the Cowboys will have a lot of decisions to make. Among others, deciding where to play Byron this season will be one of them. Will they keep him at safety? He’s been good there, but some would argue Dallas could improve the position with someone else.
Say the front office does make a run for Seahawks’ Earl Thomas, Kavon Frazier impresses the team in training camp and he earns a chance to display his physicality as a starting safety. That could be a very good unit and the Cowboys have the chance to move Jones to cornerback next to a talented young duo in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis.
With 2018 being Jones’ last year under contract, this will be a defining season for his career. Fortunately for him, the Cowboys are bringing in an excellent defensive backs coach. The creator of Seattle’s Legion of Boom, Kris Richard, will surely get the most out of Jones this season.
The Cowboys’ 2016 rookie class wasn’t just the best of that season, it was arguably the best rookie class (in terms of rookie AV) ever. How does NFL.com rate the team’s 2017 class and the rest of the NFC East?
Dallas addressed all of its obvious needs through the draft but didn't quite see the results in Year 1. Jerry Jones wanted a "war daddy" and attempted to draft one in Charlton. But the rookie was overshadowed by Demarcus Lawrence's 14.5 sacks and outplayed by Benson Mayowa at times. In drafting Awuzie, Lewis and Woods, the Cowboys patched holes left wide open in the secondary, ones Aaron Rodgers exposed in the 2016 Divisional Round. The trio is the future of the Cowboys' secondary -- especially Lewis, whose 746 snaps were second-most among Dallas corners -- but a better assessment can be made next season. Dallas' woeful receiving room didn't get much of a boost from Switzer or Brown. Rush was a surprising find, and a preseason MVP, in the draft's aftermath. GRADE: B
The Cowboys’ all-time sack leader has some thoughts on the team’s 2016 first-round pick and seems eager to assist.
Ware sees potential in Charlton, who appeared to get more comfortable in the defensive line rotation as the 2017 season went on.
“When you look at Taco, you see how athletic he is,” Ware said. “And you can develop that each and every year. You’ve got to develop that toolbox, is what I say. But I think with Taco, that first (year) to the second year, you’ve got to see improvement, (and) to the third year. The same thing we’ve seen with DeMarcus Lawrence. You see how well he progressed.
“It takes a little time for pass rushers to progress, but he has all the assets.”
Sad news as former Cowboys’ running back Lincoln Coleman has been missing for several days. Let’s hope he’s found healthy soon.
Coleman famously took the field for the Cowboys on the icy Thanksgiving Day game in 1993. He was released from the team in July 1995 and went through a period of drug and alcohol addiction. He returned to Dallas in 2013 after entering a Florida treatment center.
Coleman was reported missing in May, but returned safely to his mother’s house. His family said he has lingering health issues, including dementia, as a result of his NFL career and splits his time between Dallas and Florida, KDFW-TV (Channel 4) reported.