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Cowboys news: Rico Gathers says he’s the NFL’s next great tight end

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Rededicated? Cowboys Rico Gathers seeks to be NFL’s next ‘best tight end’ - Aaron Carney, Cowboys Wire
Rico Gathers is a unicorn: immense promise but nobody’s sure he's real. Gathers recently posted on Instagram where he commits to becoming the league's best tight end.

It’s possible the team didn’t believe he was quite ready to breakout and used his injury as an excuse keep him in-house as opposed to on the practice squad where he could be signed by another team. The club could’ve pulled Gathers back from IR after eight weeks but chose not to. Regardless, the former Baylor basketball star has put that lost season behind him and said he is ready to take the league by storm in 2018.

Gathers’ progress will be made apparent early in the offseason if the team decides against adding tight end help in free agency or the draft and place all of their confidence in the future of a converted power forward. It seems a risky strategy head coach Jason Garrett wouldn’t normally go for, but with two seasons of closely-monitored development under his belt it’s possible they share the tight end’s belief that he could be the next best thing.

If Jerry Jones makes coaching move, what could 2019 search look like? - Todd Archer, ESPN
Many have speculated that Jason Garrett might be entering his final season as the Cowboys' head coach unless the team improves and makes the post-season again. Which means with just under 7 months until the season starts it’s not to early to speculate on Garrett’s potential replacement:

What about Sean Payton? Yes, he is the New Orleans Saints' coach, but Jones has long been a fan and there have always been rumblings of a reunion. Payton took the Saints back to the playoffs in 2017, but he has been in New Orleans a long time.

Bob Stoops? Jim Harbaugh? Never underestimate the pull of the star.

Did DeMarcus Lawrence Deserve Franchise Tag? - Jordy McElroy, Fanragsports
Apparently the Cowboys are intent on franchising Demarcus Lawrence rather than allow him to enter the free agent market. Is this is a prudent decision?

Tying up that much money in a player with only one spectacular season is a risky venture for a team that could use help in other areas. Lawrence was a one-man wrecking crew on defense last season, finishing with 14.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. His monstrous potential has never been questioned in his first four years in the league. His health, on the other hand, has been a completely different matter.

Lingering back problems have led to multiple offseason surgeries in back-to-back years. While Lawrence managed to play in all 16 games of the 2017 season, his health should obviously be a concern for the Cowboys when negotiating a long-term extension.

Top 101 players from the 2017 NFL season - Sam Monson, Pro Football Focus
Any ranking of the top 101 players will always generate debate. Monson takes on the task over at PFF and places four Cowboys on the list, including Zack Martin at #16:

David DeCastro won PFF’s Bruce Matthews Award for the best offensive lineman in the game over the regular season, but his playoff struggles were enough to allow Zack Martin to edge past him overall in the Top 101. Martin ended the season with an overall PFF grade of 92.2, and surrendered just 11 total pressures over 16 games for the Cowboys. The Dallas offensive line had various struggles over the season, but Martin was the one player not to miss a beat all season.

PFF Elite Stat: Martin led guards with a pass-blocking efficiency of 98.4

2017 Adjusted Pythagorean Wins - Brett Lieblich, FootballOutsiders
Many advanced stat guys will tell you Pythagorean win results are a better barometer of a team's quality than standard win-loss results. Lieblich looks at adjusting such numbers for "garbage time" scores but also does a deep dive, showing how one year’s Pythagorean results can often predict the future:

In short, save for the aforementioned Los Angeles Rams, almost all of 2017's surprise upstarts -- such as the Jaguars, Eagles, Panthers, Chargers, and Saints -- made good on an Adjusted Pythagorean promise that they made in 2016. Historically, teams that underperform by one or more wins improve by at least 1.8 wins the following season, while those that underperform by two or more wins improve by an average of 3.2 wins. 2017 strongly continued that trend.

2017's major disappointments -- former playoff teams such as the Raiders, Giants, Texans, Dolphins, and Cowboys -- regressed to the norm after over-performing in 2016. Certainly, each of these teams can point to a number of factors which exacerbated their decline: injuries to Odell Beckham or J.J. Watt, a suspension to Ezekiel Elliott, swapping Ryan Tannehill for a hot-off-the-press-box Jay Cutler. Realistically though, these were flawed teams in 2016 that only showed their pre-existing warts in 2017.

Despite the success of the metric in correctly predicting the magnitude of change for team results from 2016 to 2017, there remains a huge amount of variance from season to season in the NFL. Adjusted Pythagorean did not have a strong opinion on the Broncos or Rams or Vikings, and yet these teams changed dramatically in terms of results.

Why Byron Jones Is Being Moved Out To Corner – Again – The Athletic
So I guess it's conventional wisdom that Byron Jones is moving back to cornerback, as many of us have lobbied. The Sturminator does a deep dive into Jones' time with the Cowboys and, as usual, it's well worth your time.

Byron Jones is a 1st round pick. The Cowboys drafted him in the 1st round in 2015 in the 27th spot. I remember studying him that spring and seeing all of the physical tools that made him the talk of the NFL Combine. The next corner off the board was Damarious Randall to Green Bay at pick #30. No problem there, as Jones has been the better player. But the next safety taken was Landon Collins, who the Giants took at pick #33. That is a problem because on any given day Collins can look flat-out elite as a “box safety” which teams do have to avoid in their game plans. If the idea was to play Jones in the spot where they played him in 2017, which is Collins' spot, then they clearly took the wrong guy. When “elite” was available at that pick and you only found “solid”, combined with that player you passed on going directly to a rival that you play twice a year, it does not allow for fans to carefully recall the nuance of this issue.

DirecTV raises price for NFL Sunday Ticket – Michael David,ProFootballTalk
Usually, when a commercial entity suffers from lagging consumer interest that commercial entity will reduce prices to make their products more attractive. Not so in the upside down world of the NFL. Despite declining attendance, television ratings and general fan interest those fans with Sunday Ticket subscriptions are looking at a price increase in 2018.

Being a hard-core NFL fan is getting more expensive. DirecTV is raising prices on its NFL Sunday Ticket package, which is the only way to watch every NFL game. The retail price will reach an all-time high of $293.94 in 2018, with the package that includes Red Zone Channel increasing to $395.95.

Chicago Bears should sign Dallas Cowboys DE David Irving - Alex Beamer, BearGoggles
Yep, fans of other NFL teams have set their eyes on the Cowboys' David Irving as a possible acquisition target. And I have to say... BearGoggles is perhaps the best blog name I've come across.

Signing a player such as David Irving would bring youth to this Chicago Bears defensive line. At only 24 years old, Irving best years are still ahead of him, and has yet to reach the prime of his career, and would be a fantastic addition to this defense.

Irving would fit perfectly for the Bears. He would provide the tremendous run-stuffing ability, while also contributing to the pass rush.

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