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Cowboys news: Awards, grades and film breakdown!

All your Cowboys news that’s fit to print.

TAO Group’s Big Game Takeover Presented By Tongue & Groove Photo by Cassidy Sparrow/Getty Images for TAO Group

Super Bowl LIII analysis with Devin and Jason McCourty - Albert Breer,
Imagine Peyton Manning’s ESPN-Plus segment helping Bill Belichick devise defensive schemes to thwart the Rams’ offense in Super Bowl 53. Apparently, that’s exactly what happened.

Hoyer began his career in New England, but he got his first shot as a starter in Cleveland. In 2014, his second year there, he started 11 games for coordinator Kyle Shanahan, then played for Shanahan again in San Francisco in ’17. Rams coach Sean McVay coached tight ends for Mike and Kyle Shanahan in Washington from 2010-13, which led Hoyer to believe he’d have some institutional knowledge of McVay’s offense.

Before the Super Bowl, he watched an episode of Peyton Manning’s Detail series on ESPN-Plus on Goff, and it hit him right away—the offense is the same. Looking at the Rams tape confirmed it. Then, he saw an NFL Network interview where Goff and McVay discussed the coach being in the quarterback’s ear up until the 15-second play-clock cutoff, which was something Shanahan did with Hoyer. Then, Hoyer went back to Amazon’s All or Nothing series on the Rams; it was about the 2016 season but had footage of OTAs from McVay’s first spring there. Hoyer recognized the language.

“I guess that’s the risk in putting yourself out there like that,” Hoyer joked over the phone on Sunday.

Rick Gosselin covered everything for The News. Here's his swan song... - Rick Gosselin, SportsDay
The Goose has been a fine read and a constant presence on the Dallas mediascape as long as I can remember. His farewell article on SportsDay is worth a visit.

I won't necessarily miss the games. Lordy, I've seen enough games over the last 46 years. But I will miss the people. And the moments. Visiting with Brett at his locker on a nightly basis for nine summers on his way to the Hall of Fame. Sitting in the office of Frank Gansz at Arrowhead Stadium as he taught me NFL special teams play. Attending NBA games during the NFL combine with Tony Dungy. Sitting in the stands with Bill Cowher in Pittsburgh watching his daughter Meagan play basketball. Standing on the sideline with Norv Turner in Virginia watching his son Scott play football. Visiting with a Wannstedt or a Wise at my work cubicle at Valley Ranch on their way into work at 6:30 in the morning. Sitting in a bar in Orlando with Jerry Jones at 4 in the morning. Yes, there have been moments.

Now those moments will belong to others. As will the deadlines. The time has come to say goodbye to newspapers. And my readers. If it weren't for folks like you reading, there'd have been no point in me writing. The moments you took to read my story in the morning paper are the moments I've cherished most of all.

Why Cowboys DE Randy Gregory has double-digit sack potential in 2019 - John Owning, SportsDay
Each week Owning breaks down film of someone worth noting and today it’s Cowboys’ defensive end Randy Gregory.

Blessed with a 6-foot-5, 242-pound frame to go with 34-inch arms, Gregory is one of the most naturally talented pass rushers in the NFL. From the explosive get-off to the flexibility to corner to the burst to finish, Gregory has all the physical traits to be an elite pass rusher. Once the Nebraska product's technique catches up with his physical gifts, the sky is the limit.

One aspect that shouldn't be overlooked is the fact that 2019 will be Gregory's first full offseason with the Cowboys since his rookie year. This will be a great opportunity for him to fine-tune his craft, maintain his bulk and improve his endurance, empowering himself to build off his success from 2018.

Gregory still won't be a finished product in 2019 -- the finer details of pass rushing take years to master -- but he still has a realistic chance of recording 10-plus sacks.

Though not a finished product, Gregory did show improvement throughout the 2018 season. For much of the season, Gregory relied on effort and winning off his first move -- including long arms, chops, bull rushes and swim moves -- to generate pressure a majority of the time. When he was forced to counter, Gregory struggled.

But toward the end of the season, Gregory started to flash the ability to sequence moves together to counter strikes and technique of the opposing blocker.

NFC East rookie grades: Pro Bowl returns for Giants, Cowboys - Jeremy Bergman,
Rookie grades are being handed out and it’s always fun to see how the Cowboys stack up.

Dallas found the present and future of the linebacker position, and it came from Riggins, Idaho. An easy pick for the PFWA All-Rookie Team, Vander Esch stepped in for the oft-injured Sean Lee and finished third in the league in tackles, earning Pro Bowl honors as a replacement for Luke Kuechly. With sideline-to-sideline speed and instinctual ferocity that few young 'backers possess coming out of college, Vander Esch solidified an LB duo alongside Jaylon Smith that is sure to be among the league's best for the next half-decade at least. Behind LVE, Dallas hit on Gallup, who should be assured a starting role across from Amari Cooper next season. Williams shared the left guard spot with Xavier Su'a-Filo to mixed results. Schultz should compete for Dallas' starting tight end spot next season if the club doesn't seek a veteran in free agency.

American Alliance of Football Week 1: Five Most Fascinating Takeaways - Rodger Sherman, The Ringer
The Super Bowl concluded on the evening of February 3rd. Six days later the the yearning masses in dire need of a football fix had their opportunity as something called the American Alliance of Football played their inaugural games.

Many were interested, apparently, as ratings topped NBA games on at the same time. Some even liked what they saw.

The league has instituted a pair of replay-focused moves that I love. One is the addition of an extra official whose job is to review each play for any egregiously incorrect or missed calls—someone who could’ve hypothetically overturned the blatant missed pass interference penalty during the fourth quarter of the Saints-Rams NFC championship game. The AAF has decided to name this official the SkyJudge, which I believe is also the name of an omnipotent thunder deity from the Paleolithic era.

The second move is that the AAF has made our relationship with the SkyJudge surprisingly direct. We don’t just sacrifice our livestock to the SkyJudge and wait to see whether our prayers are answered; we can actually see and hear the SkyJudge come to decisions.

Star Evaluation: What’s Next For La’el Collins? - David Helman,
Over at the Mothership the staff continues to review last season’s performance. Right tackle La’el Collins undergoes scrutiny this week.

What’s Been Good: For a second consecutive season, La’el Collins was a guy who got better as the season went along. The beginning of the 2018 season was bumpy for the second-year starter at right tackle, as he struggled with penalties and allowing pressure. It’s fair to wonder if he struggled with the technique being taught by offensive line coach Paul Alexander. Collins was flagged for holding five times in the first seven weeks of the season. When Marc Colombo took over the offensive line, though, Collins seemed to rebound. He played much more dependably in the second half of the season, drawing just two holding flags in the final 10 games of the year. It might not have lived up to the hype for a guy who has flirted with Pro Bowl consideration in the past, but it was a solid starting effort on the right side.

What’s Been Bad: Collins might have been better in the second half, but it’s still not a great designation to be the Cowboys’ most penalized player on the season. Collins drew 11 flags in 18 total games, as holding calls and false starts plagued him throughout much of the season. The Cowboys had to be hoping they were buying low on Collins when they extended him two summers ago, but that’s an interesting question at this point. He hasn’t been bad since re-joining the starting lineup, but it’s hard to answer questions about his long-term future.

2018 Football Outsiders Awards - Vincent Verhei, Football Outsiders
Likewise, the Football Outsiders group is handing out awards and while Cowboys were notably absent from most, they were the playoff team judged most likely to miss the playoffs next season.

The Cowboys finished the regular season at 10-6, but that includes a 9-3 record in games decided by eight points or less. With more typical luck in close contests, they likely would have missed the playoffs entirely. They share a division with the Eagles, who once again won a playoff game with their backup quarterback, and Washington, who might have won the division if their quarterback hadn't ruined his leg. The road back to the postseason will be a tough one.

Five Dallas Cowboys make PFF’s list of top 101 players for the 2018 season; Who made the cut? - DannyPhantom, Blogging The Boys
Our own Danny Phantom looks at the five Cowboys who made Pro Football Focus’ list of top 101 players.

Many people thought the Cowboys wasted their draft pick when the gambled on Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Like Lawrence, Smith was also selected 34th overall. And like Lawrence, Smith slid in the draft, however his stock dropped due to a serious knee injury he had in college. Well, Smith is healed up and we are now starting to see just how good he can be. With each new game, he continues to improve. Smith is part of that epic 2016 draft that has produced five starters for the Cowboys.

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