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Cowboys news: Who replaces Scott Linehan; who should Dallas re-sign this offseason?

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NFL: NFC Wild Card-Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys Shane Roper-USA TODAY Sports

Predicting the Cowboys next OC: Four candidates emerge as favorites - DannyPhantom, Blogging The Boys
Phantom summarizes the speculation of the last few days and offers four options, Doug Nussmeier, Dan Campbell, James Coley, and Kellen Moore. The most likely candidate of the four?

The Cowboys hired Doug Nussmeier to be their tight end coach this season and that turned out to be a great decision. Despite the retirement of Jason Witten, the Cowboys were able to get solid contribution from their tight-end-by-committee. No one came close to Witten’s 63 catch, 560 yards from a year ago, but the 2018 group put up a combined 68 catches for 710 yards this year. Nuss took a very raw group of players and was instrumental in helping them develop over the course of the year. The improvement of these guys by season’s end was very evident.

While the productivity of the tight ends Improved over the year, Nussmeier may be able to extend that production across the entire offense. In 2012, he was hired to be Alabama’s offense offensive coordinator, helping them win a National Championship and putting up 42 points in the title game against Notre Dame. If there is anyone who knows how to get a player like Amari Cooper involved, it would be Cooper’s offensive play-caller at Alabama.

Nuss checks off all the boxes - he’s a proven OC in college, he’s has history with the team, and he’s already well respected as a good coach on the team. Sign me up.

A Cowboys sacrifice has been made in Scott Linehan - David Moore, SportsDay
Moore offers some insight on how the relationship with Linehan went sideways and also proposes some candidates.

Sources said that Garrett went to Linehan late this season and pushed for a more aggressive and creative approach. The coordinator's inability to improve the team's red zone efficiency and the gnawing sense that quarterback Dak Prescott would be more effective if used differently led to his downfall.

Who out there can meld this run-first approach while enhancing the passing attack? Who can put his finger on who Prescott can be and devise a scheme to make it happen? Who can be more creative in how the Cowboys run the ball? The pool is limited given Garrett's offensive DNA.

Georgia offensive coordinator James Coley. New Orleans assistant Dan Campbell. LA Rams assistant Shane Waldron. Tight end coach Doug Nussmeier is a candidate if Garrett fills the position internally, although if the club felt strongly about that choice it would have taken place with Linehan's dismissal.

5 Candidates to replace Linehan - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
K.D. provides five candidates for the new offensive coordinator gig, including Doug Nussmeier, Todd Haley, Dan Campbell, James Coley, and Sanjay Lal, but suggests the answer might be closer than you think.

The leading candidate is Garrett himself.

He will name a coordinator of course, but it would not be surprising if either out of self-preservation or edict from the front office that he once again returns to being the play-caller. The concern running an offense while running the team were too much for a young coach who was learning on the fly has to be gone now. The mandate from ownership should now become, “if you think this offense is capable of hanging with the big boys, as the top four scoring offenses in the league prepare for the conference championship games, show us.” Show the front office this offense is able to be competitive in today’s NFL. There’s been evidence it can be; not as a high-flying counterpart to what the Rams and Kansas City Chiefs are, but as a bludgeoning unstoppable force.

Dallas routinely scripts the beginning of their games, which undoubtedly has plenty of Garrett-input as the week of practice goes along. Dallas routinely looks crisp and sharp in end-of-game and comeback situations, again, things that are more so developed in practice. It’s the hectic act-react nature of the drives in between, which fall on the play-caller, where things look so chaotic. Garrett needs to show it’s not the recipe making things so hard in what should be the pudgy middle of a ball game, but rather the chef failing to season to taste, ignoring not just the salt and pepper but the spices entire continents were pillaged and colonized for.

Under Review: Debating the Defensive MVP - Staff, Dallas Cowboys
The writing staff over at the Mothership discuss which player is worthy of defensive MVP. Who have you got?

Nick Eatman: The fact that you have options here is why this has been such a good defense. I love what Jaylon and LVE added to this defense, but in terms of value, I’ll go with DeMarcus Lawrence. Not only was he the best player up front who gave teams fits with his pressure, but he rallied that unit from the start. The creation of the Hot Boyz and all that really unified the group and elevated the play from a handful of guys that proved to be major factors in this defense.

Demarcus Lawrence: 2019 NFL Free Agency Profile - David Latham, Last Word on Pro Football
What should we expect this offseason when it comes to the Cowboys free agent pass rusher?

Demarcus Lawrence is one of the best edge defenders in football, and his bank account is about to get a lot bigger. Lawrence has recorded 25 sacks over the past two seasons, never taking a play off and always disrupting the quarterback. He’s not on the level of Aaron Donald or Khalil Mack, but their record-setting deals ensure that Lawrence will see a massive paycheck in 2019. As of this posting, the Dallas Cowboys seem like a likely bet to re-sign their star pass rusher. Dallas has a fantastic young defense and Lawrence is a big part of that.

With over $54.4 million in projected cap space, the Cowboys should be able to bring back their second-round pick. Every team in the league will want Lawrence if he makes it to free agency, but the Indianapolis Colts and the Cleveland Browns have the best chance of landing him. Both teams have ample cap space and are capable of paying him whatever he wants. Additionally, both franchises look to have a bright future, which should only help their sales pitch to Lawrence. It’s possible that just about any one of the 32 NFL clubs makes a pitch for Lawrence, but doing so would create financial turmoil for teams trapped in bad cap position.

Sizing up top five Cowboys priorities, starting with Lawrence, Cooper - Todd Archer, ESPN
Lawrence is a big priority, but he won’t be the only player the team will look to sign long term this offseason.

2. Amari Cooper

The Cowboys have him under contract at $13.8 million with the fifth-year option of his rookie deal. The Cowboys gave up a first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders and Cooper helped turn around their season. He gives Prescott a No. 1 receiver option. He can win on his route running. He can make the big plays. He can play in multiple spots.

The Cowboys did not give up the financial control they would have had over a first-round pick to allow Cooper to hit the market in 2020. They need to get this one done sooner rather than later. When free agency opened last year, the Cowboys offered Sammy Watkins $16 million a year, but he opted to take the Kansas City Chiefs’ offer. Since the Cowboys offered Watkins $16 million, the starting point on Cooper has to be at least the same figure.

When the Cowboys traded for Roy Williams in 2008, they were boxed into a corner and gave him a five-year, $45 million deal that included $27 million guaranteed before he even played a game in a Dallas uniform. With Cooper, they have seen what he means to the offense and should feel better about making him one of the higher-paid receivers in the NFL.

PFF stats share how dominant Byron Jones was in 2018 - Austin Hutchinson, Clutch Points
Lawrence demonstrated he wasn’t a one-year wonder, but can the same be said for Byron Jones? He had a great season, but will it be enough to command top cornerback money?

Jones is a fourth-year veteran out of Connecticut. He was drafted 27th overall by the team back in 2014. He’s been a Day One starter in the secondary from the getgo. He mostly played free safety the past few years within their defensive scheme, however this past season he was given the opportunity to be a full-time cornerback. This worked out like a charm for the Cowboys.

Although Jones doesn’t get many open field interceptions, he’s excellent at stick to his man like glue and not allowing passes to get through. Through 16 games, Jones had 14 pass deflections and 67 tackles with also two tackles for a loss. He’s a central part of their defensive back core and will likely stick at corner moving forward.

Cowboys evaluations: Which players are trending in the wrong direction? - David Moore, SportsDay
The Cowboys have a lot of players on the rise, but who’s going the other way?

Taco Charlton, DE:

Started the first seven games of the season. But after suffering a shoulder injury in Week 9 against Tennessee, he struggled to regain form. His practice habits were questioned as he worked his way back and he wound up being a healthy scratch for the coaches to make a point. He finished with one sack and wasn’t as productive as he was as a rookie.

And this one has been noted several times this year by our own Michael Strawn...

Chris Jones, P:

His net average of 39.6 yards was nearly 2 yards less than last season and the second worst average of his career. Only 17 of his punts were downed inside the 20-yard line, half the total of his previous season.

Jerry Jones once discarded coaches like Kleenex. Now he’s trying to make Jason Garrett the next Tom Landry. - Kevin Sherrington, SportsDay
The Cowboys owner is either going to look like a genius or a donkey when it comes to his decision to hang on to Garrett and we all have front row seat to see how it turns out.

Q: Is Jerry Jones so committed to “wanting to be right about his guy” that he can’t see the glass ceiling above Jason Garrett?

KS: This is a complicated issue. Once upon a time, Jerry went through coaches like Kleenex. A lot of overactive owners do that. Take Bud Adams. His track record in Houston made Jerry look positively conservative. But as he aged, he wasn’t quite so quick on the trigger. Jeff Fisher coached forever for him. I think the same thing is happening with Jerry and Jason. Jerry’s not as active as he used to be, having handed over a lot of duties to Stephen. He also likes Garrett’s potential as a head coach. From Monday through Saturday, he’s very good. The problem comes on Sundays.

Jerry also wants to think that he’s hired his Tom Landry. Makes him look good if he hires the right coach and sticks by him. Remember the praise Clint Murchison got for giving Landry a 10-year deal when critics were calling for Landry’s head. Here’s the problem with that analogy, of course: Landry had significant success by the time he’d been a head coach as long as Garrett. Also, Landry was a genius. He’s responsible for innovations on both sides of the ball. Garrett? Not so much. In fact, where Landry led the NFL down new roads, Garrett is trying to run down old ones. Jerry doesn’t see that because he always sees what he wants to. An incurable optimist, especially when it serves his purposes.

Six-year Pro Bowl streak for the Dallas Cowboys’ O-line will come to an end in Orlando - Staff, SportsDay
There are three certainties in life - death, taxes, and a Cowboys offensive linemen in the Pro Bowl. Well, make that two certainties.

For the first time since 2012, a member of their vaunted offensive line will not play in the Pro Bowl. Both Tyron Smith and Zack Martin were named to the Pro Bowl last month, but due to injuries suffered throughout the season (and the extended time playing despite them in a pair of playoff games) both players will not take part in the additional game on January 27.

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