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Cowboys news: Why “Versatility” is the buzzword around the Cowboys offense

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There’s a buzzword for Cowboys’ offense entering camp, and jobs ride on one man’s ability to see it come to fruition - David Moore, SportsDay
The Cowboys’ offense is confident, and “versatility” is the major reason why.

Versatility is the buzzword. The pressure is squarely on Linehan to get this done. There should be a certain freedom and unpredictability to his play-calling now that proven commodities in Witten and Dez Bryant are gone.

“If they’re going to start matching people up, it’s going to be fairly easy to see what they’re in,” Linehan said. “If you move a slot receiver to an outside receiver position, you can see what coverage it is.

”Bracket our tight end and split end all the time. Start somewhere. Start with stop the run, because we know these guys [the Cowboys] are a committed run team, then let’s have these guys who can play multiple positions based on the matchup. Dak can pick that guy out and go to that guy.

”There should be some good balance to our targets, which is hopefully the goal of that.”

Without a true No. 1 at wide receiver, who will emerge? - Brandon George, SportsDay
Good question, but no clear answer at this time.

The Cowboys added several other fresh faces at receiver by signing free agents Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson, trading for Tavon Austin and drafting Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson.

The Cowboys' approach in 2018 is that having a No. 1 receiver isn't a necessity. Going without one might even make the offense more unpredictable.

Dallas will spend training camp trying to identify its best starting tandem at receiver, but expect multiple combinations on the field throughout practices with no obligation to force-feed a No. 1 target.

The Biggest Question Every NFL Team Must Answer in Training Camp - Kristopher Knox, Bleacher Report
But if the Cowboys are going to be successful this season, the team needs a go-to target to emerge for Dak Prescott, and that could be the biggest question mark.

Dallas Cowboys: Who Will Be Dak Prescott’s Go-to Guy?

There is potential with the new group, but there isn’t anyone who jumps out as a legitimate No. 1 receiver or a game-changing tight end.

”Depends on what you’re defining as a No. 1 receiver,” former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo told NFL Network. “Is it name alone? By talent? You don’t know they don’t have one.”

Romo is right in saying we don’t know if the Cowboys have a No. 1 pass-catcher on their roster. They probably don’t either, and it’s something they’re going to have to figure out during training camp. Even if Dallas doesn’t have a No. 1 receiver in the traditional sense, they need to identify a reliable go-to target or two for third-year quarterback Dak Prescott.

Former Cowboys assistant coach Tony Sparano dies at 56 years old - AP
Tony Sparano, a member of Bill Parcells’ staff for the Cowboys, tragically and unexpectedly passed away on Sunday.

Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach Tony Sparano died Sunday at the age of 56, the team said.

The team announced Sparano’s death in a statement that did not provide a cause. Sparano had been the Vikings’ offensive line coach since 2016.

“Tony was a passionate and driven individual who cared deeply about his family, and especially enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren,” Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf said in the statement. “Tony’s presence within the Vikings organization will be deeply missed.”

Former Assistant Tony Sparano Passes Away - Rob Phillips, The Mothership
Phillips also wrote on the former Cowboys assistant. Keep the Sparano family in your thoughts and prayers.

Former Cowboys assistant Tony Sparano has died at the age of 56. He was the first tight ends coach for former Cowboys great Jason Witten in 2003.

The Vikings announced Coach Sparano’s passing Sunday morning. He was entering his third season as Minnesota’s offensive line coach under former Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Sparano was part of Bill Parcells’ first Cowboys coaching staff in 2003, serving as tight ends coach. The club drafted Witten that season.

NFL's 20 most outsized contracts after adjusting for position - Bill Barnwell, ESPN
When you make the best guard in the game the highest paid player at his position, it's only natural that some might call it a "bloated deal", as Bill Barnwell does with Zack Martin's contract. But the only real criticism Barnwell has to offer is about the length of the contract, something most Cowboys fans are quite happy about.

This is what the Cowboys do under Jerry Jones. They draft and develop homegrown talent and then sign those players to massive extensions, routinely handing out longer contracts than anybody else in the league. Only eight players are under contract for the 2023 season; three of them are Cowboys offensive linemen in Martin, Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith. Martin is the only player in the league with a contract for the 2024 campaign.

Handing out long-term deals allows the Cowboys to give their players large signing bonuses without incurring huge cap hits. It also creates flexibility for restructuring deals, which allows Dallas to free up short-term cap space. The problem is what happens when things go bad unexpectedly, which is what happened with Tony Romo's final contract. If the Cowboys had never restructured Romo's deal, they would have been able to move on from their quarterback after 2016 -- ultimately, his final year in the NFL -- while owing just $5 million in dead money, which would have allowed the Cowboys to reap the benefits of having a franchise quarterback under contract for peanuts. Instead, after multiple restructures, the Cowboys were stuck with $19.6 million in dead money on their cap for Romo over 2017 and 2018.

There's nothing wrong with signing Martin, of course, given that the 27-year-old is one of just 27 players since the merger to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons. The Cowboys should want to keep Martin around, and if he stays healthy and productive, they can restructure his deal over and over again and it will work out fine. As we come off a year in which a retired Romo counted for nearly 7 percent of the cap and stalwarts such as Smith and Dan Bailey were rendered ordinary for stretches by injuries, though, it's worth remembering how entropy eventually wins.

Ten things to look for at Cowboys training camp – Calvin Watkins, The Athletic
Watkins offers a rehash of the top Cowboys topics of the last few months and name-checks, Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, DeMarcus Lawrence, Jason Garrett, and Earl Thomas - in order. But he does offer an interesting point in his look at the wide receiver situation.

This position group will likely look very different in 2019 (yes, we’re talking about 2019), but there is no certainty the two key vets, Beasley and Williams, will be brought back. So pay particular attention to the younger receivers.

Is WR Cedrick Wilson the Player With Most to Gain in Training Camp? - Mauricio Rodriguez, Inside The Star
Sixth-round rookie Cedrick Wilson is another receiver worth keeping an eye on in Oxnard.

Within the Dallas Cowboys’ uncertain wide receiver core [sic], is sixth-round pick Cedrick Wilson. Considered a draft steal by many, Wilson’s name is often lost in the mix among Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley and third round rookie Michael Gallup. Just days away from the start of the 2018 training camp, Cedrick Wilson might be the player with the most to gain on the team.

Wilson comes from the Boise State Broncos, where he set the school record for receiving yards in a season with 1,511 last year. As a sixth-round rookie, the young 22-year old receiver has an uphill battle ahead of him to earn a spot on the Cowboys’ 53-man roster.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise if he emerges victorious in this battle, though.

Cowboys D-Line: Why Tyrone Crawford should make a temporary move back inside to DT - Michael Sisemore, BTB
With DeMarcus Lawrence and the return of Randy Gregory, the Cowboys are looking strong at defensive end. Sisemore writes that perhaps Tyrone Crawford should make a temporary move inside.

Tyrone Crawford has become this team’s chess piece on the defensive line. Though he’s not the ideal fit for the right end spot, his ability to create a threat from that side allowed Lawrence to rack up 14.5 sacks and make his first Pro Bowl. This offseason, Crawford has tried to slim down from the 290 pounds he was playing at last season to fit more into the roll of an edge rusher. Just a few seasons ago, the Cowboys were looking all over for edge rushers. Suddenly, they have edge rushers in excess.

One position they don’t have in excess at the moment is at defensive tackle. The Cowboys are facing uncertainty at both tackle spots. David Irving, who was second on the team with seven sacks last season, will miss the first four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Maliek Collins, the other incumbent, is currently dealing with a broken foot that should put him on PUP to start training camp. Though Collins is expected to recover in time for the season, the Cowboys will need to find a temporary solution at the other tackle spot. Now, they do expect to give guys like Datone Jones and Jihad Ward a chance to earn a spot in the interim. Still, if the Cowboys want to be as close to full strength by week one, shouldn’t they at least consider letting Crawford play inside?

With The Star in Frisco, the Dallas Cowboys build a football Oz - Mark Lamster, Dallas News
An architecture critic take a long and detailed look at what Jerry Jones built in Frisco. Here’s an excerpt.

In Frisco, he has built it a genuine capital, a shimmering football Oz that emerges like a spectral vision from the blank canvas of North Texas nothingness. It is a miniature city, a 91-acre branded corporate headquarters and entertainment complex dedicated to football, consumption and — above all — profit.

As at the team's AT&T Stadium in Arlington — a.k.a. Jerry World — the architectural language of the Star is unapologetically modern. It is a city of reflective surfaces, of glass and metal and white concrete that dazzles in the sun, and it is blessedly free of the kitschy, nostalgic elements common to sports design. "We talk about the past but we build for the future," a team representative told me.

This is not the warm, regionally inspired Texas modernism of reimagined vernacular forms and local materials. It is the more frigid, corporate variety, sharp-edged and antiseptic — both metaphorically and literally. The Star is fetishistic in its orderliness and in its cleanliness. Among employees, Jones is known for his eye for stray items of offense. Every last blade of grass is properly trimmed. There is no litter in this city of artifice, nothing to besmirch or distract from the dream of perfection that is the Cowboys ideal.

NFL Succession: The Family Ownership Dramas That Roil the NFL - Jon Wertheim,
This is not specifically about the Cowboys, but Werheim's look at the rivalries, competition, internal feuds, and succession struggles of NFL ownership does contain this little nugget:

Jerry Jones Jr., for instance, allegedly hands out business cards declaring himself “future owner” of the Dallas Cowboys

“Say the local family furniture store is not worth very much. So if there are three kids [it’s likely] one of them works in the furniture store and the other two went off and became lawyers and doctors. It just is not that much to fight over,” says Wayne Rivers, co-founder and president of the Raleigh-based Family Business Institute. “But when you’re talking about a team worth a couple billion dollars, well, lawyer up!”