Why did the Dallas Cowboys move on from Dez Bryant? Will McClay addressed that very topic on Tuesday.
Dallas Cowboys scouting chief Will McClay chimed in on the release of Dez Bryant publicly for the first time Tuesday on ESPN 103.3 FM.
McClay pointed to what the Cowboys saw on tape from Bryant during the 2017 season as reasons for his departure.
“It was a collective deal,” McClay said. “The (inability) to win one-on-one, to win down field. There was inconsistency as well as some huge things in his play. So what’s best moving forward for Dez Bryant the Cowboys, we just made that decision. It’s a production-based business.”
McClay said the decision was tough because of the love he and the Cowboys have for Bryant. He called him one of the all-time greats, a fan favorite and a future Hall of Famer. But he said the Cowboys had to do what was best for the franchise.
“You have to make a decision to make sure you succeed and hold that trophy up,” McClay said.
Additionally, McClay discussed what “Dak-friendly” means.
McClay: I don’t think that the decision was made because of that. When we say Dak-friendly, really, it’s Cowboys-friendly. It’s finding guys that fit into what we do collectively on the offensive side of the ball. When we say Dak-friendly, we’re looking for guys that will be in the right spot, doing their job, all that stuff, any position. It’s not that Dez wasn’t Dak-friendly, we’re just looking for Dak-friendly from the standpoint of the health of the team, from a [salary] cap standpoint, competition and all that other stuff. I do know that Dak’s most productive games have been when he spreads the ball out and not targeting one specific guy.
Does that mean not having a true No. 1 receiver?
McClay: I think we have to, I mean because of the way of the NFL, the salary cap, the great players getting paid and all those things. Sometimes you can’t do that from a cap standpoint. Everybody has to come into this league and prove their spot to be a No. 1 anyway, even guys that are drafted in the first round or whatever. There’s times you go through the paces and the No. 1 will rise to the top if you’ve got good competition. For our offense and the way we want to do things, that just fits what we want to do right now.
Dave wrote about what McClay had to say about Dez and the direction of the Cowboys’ offense.
I agreed with the decision at the time. On the day he was released, I posted this article based on games I watched in replay from the 2017 season, focusing strictly on Bryant.
This is far from suggesting that Dez Bryant is done. He certainly could rededicate himself to improving his route-running, and if placed in the proper offense and used in specific ways, he could be successful. His focus needs to be better in order to reverse the dropped ball trend, and moving him around, getting him on crossing and slant patters where he can use his body to shield the ball should help him to continue and be a contributor.
For the Cowboys, though, they needed a fresh start. Not only on the field, but off the field. Bryant was a dominating personality in the Cowboys locker room and meetings, sometimes you have to hear new voices for new things to work. Not only did they change the wide receivers coach, they changed the feel and the tone of the receiver’s room.
So the Cowboys are moving on. Free agency and the draft were pretty good indicators of that. They added Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson as free agents, then turned around and added draft picks Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson. For good measure, they traded for Tavon Austin, although he could see a lot of time in the backfield instead of in the slot. Regardless, if you look at the Cowboys roster they have nine wide receivers listed, plus they have Austin. That is a lot of players at one position. It’s part of the plan.
No Dez Bryant replacement? Dak Prescott, Tony Romo explain hidden value in new Cowboys attack - Jori Epstein, SportsDay
Not sure who Dak Prescott will throw to? That's a good thing.
"I think it's winning by committee," Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said Thursday from the NFL Draft Experience. "We have a great running back as you know, a great running game. So to be able to spread the ball all around... we've got a lot of weapons still.
"The way we'll attack, who knows what's coming."
Ex-Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said that could work to Dallas' advantage.
"Initially there will be some success because it'll be hard for them to determine out who to double team and what they're going to do defensively," Romo told WFAA's Mike Leslie on Monday from a local U.S. Open qualifier. "It's going to be a little more random. But what happens is when the tape gets out there throughout the season it gets a little more difficult offensively because now you have tendencies."
McClay wasn’t the only notable person to talk about Dez on Tuesday, though. Tony Romo talked about 88 as well.
“There’s a ton of teams he could help,” Romo said after his U.S. Open qualifying round at Gleneagles Country Club. “One thing, I don’t know how many teams will do their homework on it, but Dez is a good teammate and I think sometimes that might get lost in the way that the emotional aspect of things. If I was talking to any of the GMs or coaches, I would tell them he’s not going to hurt the locker room in any possible way. He’s going to come out and he’ll be a great teammate when he gets there. I think he’ll have a couple options here soon.”
Romo also addressed Jason Witten’s (likely) retirement.
“Jason’s going to do well,” Romo said, via Drew Davison of Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He’s as hardworking a guy as you’re going to find. He’ll be well-prepared for whatever environment he decides to be a part of next year.”
Romo himself sacrificed a lot in the pursuit of a Super Bowl ring and he knows, above all, that’s the one football variable weighing most heavily in Witten’s mind.
”I think that’s the biggest challenge walking away is that you didn’t accomplish the ultimate goal that you set out for,” he said, via Todd Archer of ESPN. “That’s something that’s hard. ...That’s never something you’re OK with. I just think you have to make choices with where you’re at in life and what’s going on around you, your family on your side. And they’re a big part of those decisions that you make.
”I think that you could chase that thing forever and it might be the next year, but it might be 10 years away. It’s a tough decision.”
Mailbag: Bringing Back Former Cowboys? - David Helman & Bryan Broaddus, Dallas Cowboys
A reader wonders whether there's any interest in bringing back recently released former Cowboys J.J. Wilcox or Terrell McClain.
Bryan: I feel like there is a chance on McClain but not really sure about Wilcox? Hearing whispers they’d like to see what they have in Showers since he’s been here now for a few seasons.
David: I’d be very interested to bring back McClain, assuming the two sides can agree on a price. He can play both defensive tackle positions, and he was a big part of the locker room culture back in 2016. I don’t feel as strongly about Wilcox – but it would be nice to fill out that depth chart with a veteran.
I’m high on Michael Gallup and so should you. Cavanaugh wrote on the third-round selection.
The Cowboys took Michael Gallup in the third round this year. It’s my favorite pick they have made in the last five years, with the possible exception of Xavier Woods in the sixth a year ago.
Sure, in hindsight the Dak Prescott selection is tough to beat. But at the time of the draft Gallup would be one of the best values according to how I rank players.
I already had a scouting report up on Gallup but I’ve decided that’s not enough. I’d like to show you why I love the pick and player so much.
Guys who are good at everything aren’t very common in the NFL. Gallup isn’t an elite athlete and he wasn’t gifted with elite size – but he is a great football player.
Ryan wrote a film review on Leighton Vander Esch. It’s definitely worth reading.
While Vander Esch has a ton of potential due to his athletic measurables, many had his value placed a little later in the first round or early second. Regardless, the members of the Cowboys war room were pounding their fists and giving each other high-fives, so they were definitely excited about the pick.
Over the last three years, the Cowboys are 1-8 when Sean Lee is not in the lineup. It is clear how much better the defense is when he is on the field. Last year, the Cowboys got a gift when Jaylon Smith was able to play a full schedule, but the more snaps he player the lower his production. Now the Cowboys will complete their linebacker corps with the addition of Vander Esch.
Dallas can plug Vander Esch in at MIKE linebacker with Smith moving to strongside linebacker. The trio is definitely the best they have had at the linebacker positions in recent memory. Let’s take a look at some of Vander Esch’s snaps to see what makes him special.
Brugler says the Cowboys had a successful 2018 draft — even without taking a safety or defensive tackle.
Brugler: Yes. There were too many needs to address them all. If the Cowboys went with Justin Reid in the second round then many fans would be upset they didn’t draft a left guard. The top-100 picks are where you draft future starters and Dallas did that at LB, LG and WR so they addressed key areas, getting a stud to build around on defense and two pieces that will help the quarterback and move the offense. On day three, the Cowboys added the best players on the board instead of reaching for need, which is the smart move, creating more competition on the roster. The addition of Jihad Ward in a trade was the front office’s answer to not drafting a defensive tackle. And while safety is still on shaky ground, it gives Xavier Woods a chance to lock down the free safety position.