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Cowboys news: Jason Witten on the future of Dallas’ offense, and possibly becoming a coach

Re-signings, possible cuts, and free agents also are in the news.

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NFL: NFL Honors-Red Carpet
Jason Witten, future Hall of Famer, former Cowboy, broadcaster, family man - and future coach?
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin’s D’Cota Dixon Named Jason Witten Collegiate Man of The Year – Jason Witten – #82
He was one of the greats for the Cowboys. And Jason Witten continues to work at making the game of football better.

The Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year, presented by Albertson’s/Tom Thumb, is awarded to the Football Bowl Subdivision player who best demonstrates an outstanding record of leadership by exhibiting exceptional courage, integrity and sportsmanship.

“I am honored to present the second annual Collegiate Man of the Year to D’Cota Dixon,” said Witten. “He is a truly outstanding young man, who is everything you want in a college football player. He has set himself apart as a true leader on his team, on campus and in the community. He is the perfect example of someone who has devoted himself to becoming the very best person he can be, despite going through great personal struggles.”

Dallas Cowboys: Jason Witten explains why he sees the Cowboys offense 'taking a big step in 2019' | Jon Machota, SportsDay
During his awards ceremony, former Cowboys All-Multiverse tight end and current broadcaster Witten talked with the media. He sees good things ahead for Dallas with Kellen Moore as offensive coordinator.

"Look, I see this offense taking a big step in 2019, I really do, in what they try to do in how they build this offense with the strength of the team."

Witten sees Moore staying true to the team's offensive identity while tweaking the scheme to better accommodate Prescott's abilities. He envisions a more flexible approach in attacking defenses.

"I think he'll do the things that Dak likes to do," Witten said. "He'll do the things they have to do to win. I think he'll use the pass to set up the run, not just the run to set up the pass. I think he'll do a good job with that.

Witten Weighs In On Kellen Moore, MNF, Future - Rob Phillips,
The potential for the Dallas offense wasn't the only thing Witten discussed. He also indicated he hasn't closed the door on one day getting into coaching.

On what he loves about TV and if he still feels coaching might be in his future down the road, having grown up in a coaching family:

“I mean, how could I not? I mean, that’s what you love. What you love about television is you get to study these guys. The same things that you love about playing, you love about television. I’m sure Tony (Romo) would probably say the same things. It’s watching tape, it’s studying. I try not to predict my future or think about that long term. I’ve got a great team around me at Monday Night Football. But I would never say never, you know.”

Film room: Pay the man! Why Cowboys should do whatever it takes to retain DeMarcus Lawrence's unique services | John Owning, SportsDay
Owning, a former blogger, continues to lend credibility to DMN with his excellent analysis. His latest effort supports the case for retaining the services of DeMarcus Lawrence, no matter the cost.

Equally effective against run and pass

Lawrence is the unique defensive end who can be equally effective against the run and pass.

Since 2017, Lawrence is sixth in the NFL in sacks (25) -- ahead of star pass rushers such as Von Miller (24.5), Khalil Mack (23), Frank Clark (22) and Yannick Ngakoue (21.5). He's also eighth in quarterback hits (49), per Pro Football Reference. In that same time span, Lawrence is ninth in tackles for loss (41).

In 2018, Lawrence finished fourth in run stops (28) and second in run-stop percentage among edge defenders with at least 200 snaps against the run. He beat out Pro Bowl talents such as Mack, Miller, Chandler Jones and Cameron Jordan in both categories.

The term "well rounded" is typically used for middling players who find adequate success against the run and pass. However, Lawrence is the unique talent who is an elite pass rusher and run defender, making him one of the only truly well-rounded defensive ends in the NFL.

Cowboys free agents most likely to depart: Geoff Swaim's injury history could be his undoing in Dallas | Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
The flip side of who the Cowboys need to keep is who might get cut loose. Geoff Swaim, sadly for him, could well be in the latter group.

The Cowboys got a lot out of the former seventh-round pick from Texas. But he has been unable to remain healthy during his four seasons in Dallas. Plus, the Cowboys are pleased with the development of tight ends Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz, who came on after Swaim suffered the injury. They could also look to upgrade at the position in this year's coming draft, including a tight end who can become a reliable red-zone option.

Star Evaluation: How Anthony Brown Bounced Back - David Helman,
The latest installment looking back at the season for Cowboys players.

Anthony Brown clearly didn’t care about the expectations in 2018. Conventional wisdom said he was going to lose his nickel back job to Jourdan Lewis, who appeared to come on strong at the end of his rookie year. The one problem was that Brown bucked conventional wisdom, holding on to the third cornerback job throughout OTAs and training camp. In his third season, he started 10 games — and those he didn’t start came when the Cowboys opened their games in base defense. In 15 appearances, he managed 46 tackles with two sacks and an interception. His eight pass breakups ranked third on the team, trailing only Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie. For a guy who was supposed to lose his job at the outset of the season, it was a strong effort from the former sixth-round pick.

Report: Earl Thomas enrolls kids in Austin school – Josh Alper, ProFootballTalk
There were heart palpitations for many Cowboys fans when word emerged that Earl Thomas was enrolling his children in school in Austin, which is of course just down I-35 from Dallas. But calm down a bit.

It may not turn out to be much of a sign. Thomas went to the University of Texas and has gone back to his alma mater to work out in past offseasons, so it’s no sure thing that he’s going to be there come the fall.

Chewing On Some Feel-Goods - Mickey Spagnola,
Just read this little story from the funeral of longtime Cowboys player and coach Wade Wilson.

But there was this guy sitting two pews in front of me, on the aisle, who looked familiar. Was racking my brain, recognized him but the name escaping me. Then it hit: Ryan Leaf, former Cowboys quarterback in 2001. He was one of four starting quarterbacks that season, trying to jumpstart the failing career of the second pick in the 1997 draft.

Really? Him? Quite curious.

Remember pointing earlier in the week this Tweet from Leaf after his learning of Wade’s passing: “He was an amazing mentor, friend, and father. God bless his family. #RIP.”

That caught me by surprise. He spent only one full season with the Cowboys. Played in four games, starting three. Wade was indeed his QB coach.

So after the service, I re-introduced myself to him. He had always been cordial during that season here. But his life would spiral out of control several years later. He would be convicted of breaking into two houses in Montana to steal painkilling drugs, something he had become addicted to. Was sentenced to five years in prison, and paroled after 32 months, Dec. 3, 2014.

Told him I had read his Tweet, and didn’t realize he remained close with Wade all these years later.

That’s when Leaf, working hard to turn his life around over these last couple of years, told me, “Wade was one of the few people who would write to me while I was in prison.”

Yep, that Wade indeed was a good guy.

And big of Ryan to pay his respects … in person.

AAF football: New league could be NFL pipeline for players, coaches - Mike Jones, USA Today
The AAF got off to a surprisingly good start, but can it last? One way is for it to become what NFL Europe once was, a place for players (and staff) to develop their skills and catch on with the NFL.

NFL teams already have scouts assigned to combing the AAF for talent, and they’ll do the same for the XFL once that league begins play in 2020. Already, some performances could be helping players draw training camp invitations. Multiple NFL talent evaluators told USA TODAY Sports that numerous AAF players will wind up in NFL organizations this fall. With time, coaches and front office officials could land the same opportunities.

As one NFL talent evaluator who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak on personnel matters, put it, “There’s always a diamond in the rough or two. If a guy shines, we’ll find him. This should definitely be a good thing.”

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