Saturday marked the last day of open practice and former scout Bryan Broaddus provides us with some of his observations, including what the team’s new offensive coordinator is up to...
I don’t know if it was by design or the fact that they have a fullback in camp, but Kellen Moore is sure lining up in a lot of two back sets. Moore is using tryout fullback Joe Protheroe primarily as an off-set blocker in these practices. After practice, Moore said he wanted the offense to be more multiple in the way they present things while still maintaining their foundations and philosophy. Maybe using a fullback more is a part of that philosophy?
Broaddus also talks about what he’s seeing from the team’s new defensive tackle.
The one thing I’ve noticed about Trysten Hill seeing him live is how quickly he can read the block and work his way down the line to the ball. Studying him on tape, I thought there were snaps where he had problems in this area. He didn’t always play with his eyes and it caused him to lose the ball. During these practices, Rod Marinelli has him doing a much better job in this area.
There were many 3-tech defensive tackles in this draft, but Hill was one of the few “under tackles” that caught Rod Marinelli’s eye.
To hear it from the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator, even the term “three-technique” – used for smaller, disruptive, pass rushing tackles – isn’t specific enough.
“There are a lot of three-techniques, not a lot of under tackles,” Marinelli said on Saturday. So, what’s the difference? He said that, more than anything else, the position is about quick twitch athleticism – not to mention relentless effort.
“There’s a certain motor you’re looking for on tape, the guys that really play hard,” he said. “You can’t duck here, you can’t hide. If you’re not hustling, there’s a big light on you. So we’ve got to have guys that can’t live without it.”
‘Zeke wants to win championships’: Cowboys’ addition of Tony Pollard, Mike Weber about chasing titles, future for Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas - Saad Yousuf, The Athletic
Could a bigger goal lead to a smaller role for the Cowboys workhorse running back?
Traditionally, there hasn’t been much of a workload split during Elliott’s tenure with the Cowboys. In 2018, Elliott accounted for 91 percent of the rushing yards and 85 percent of the carries from the running back position. In 2017, Elliott missed six games due to suspension but in the 10 games he was eligible, he accounted for 88.5 percent of the rushing yards and 90 percent of the carries. The year production was spread out the most was his rookie year when he accounted for 82 percent of the rushing yards and 76 percent of the carries.
Unsurprisingly, Elliott won the NFL rushing title in the two full seasons he has played. He also has caught 32, 26 and 77 passes, respectively, in those three seasons. All of that, his mileage and milestones of the past three seasons, are very important to the integration of Pollard and Weber. With how good Elliott has been, he isn’t threatened because it’s common knowledge that he is the undisputed focal point of the Cowboys offense. From Elliott to the coaches and everybody else, it’s obvious that when the games matter most, Elliott must be in the spotlight.
But the real goal is to have the spotlight on the game’s biggest stage and it’s going to take a collaborative effort to get there.
Leading the NFL in rushing is still a goal but the priority isn’t winning rushing titles, it’s winning Super Bowl titles.
“Zeke wants to win championships,” running back coach Gary Brown said. “I think that he understands where he sits in the hierarchy of the running back room. He understands what he has to do and what he means to us and at the same time, he understands that he wants to be able to be fresh in January and February if we get to the Super Bowl. He wants to be fresh then. That’s important to him.”
Ever since Stephen Jones made the comparison to Alvin Kamara, the thought of what Pollard could add to the offense makes fans excited.
Kamara began his career as a compliment to incumbent Mark Ingram, and the two flourished together. Ingram isn’t near the same caliber back as Elliott, and Pollard will not likely be as dynamic as Kamara, but the relationship could still mirror what New Orleans has done. Some.
“We understand what Zeke is to our football team and to our organization and to our success,” running backs coach Gary Brown said after the Cowboys’ first rookie minicamp practice Friday at The Star. “I think it’s important for us as an organization to make sure that we can maximize his ability to help us go out and win championships. The way to do that is to take a little off of him. We’ve got to make sure we take care of that guy.”
Just giving Zeke a little breather will do wonders in preserving his energy down the stretch and the Cowboys believe they have the right two guys who can do that.
Pollard scored 25 touchdowns in college as a runner, receiver, and returner. He doesn’t mind being called a gadget back or change-of-pace back because it just means he can do it all with explosive abilities.
“Change-of-pace’ back can be however you take it,” Pollard said. “The way I look at it is a guy coming in with a lot of speed being able to make the long home-run plays, also being able to run in between some tackles and get some hard yards and being able to make plays on special teams.”
To that end, he compares himself to New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara.
”I wouldn’t just compare myself to him, but I would just say me and him are similar in ways that we play,” Pollard said. “Just being able to do more than one thing, line up in the backfield as a running back, mismatches with the linebackers, running routes out of the backfield, making plays on special teams.”
What Pollard lacks as far as a traditional inside runner, Weber has in spades. He replaced Elliott as the lead back at Ohio State and has similar physical qualities, though not quite as flashy or explosive.
Mike Weber tweaked his knee during the morning walkthrough today. Jason Garrett says he’s getting an MRI to check it out. #cowboyswire— David Helman (@HelmanDC) May 11, 2019
Cowboys center Travis Frederick on health: ‘I feel really good about where I am at’ - Staff, SportsDay
All eyes will be on the team’s All-Pro center and the progress he is making, but things are looking favorable right now. How close he is to being 100 percent?
Frederick: “I feel really good about where I am at. Both in recovery from Guillain-Barre syndrome and the offseason surgeries that I had done. We are just starting to get to the end of the shoulder rehab. That will start to free up a little bit of my activities. But as far as (Guillain-Barre syndrome) goes, I feel really, really good. It’s gonna be hard to tell whether I’m back exactly 100 percent until I can go against another player at full speed in full pads. I don’t think we’re actually going to know until training camp. But all signs are currently pointing to really good things.”
Should Frederick return, he should make up on of the better comeback stories of the season and Pro Football Focus lists him as a top candidate.
C TRAVIS FREDERICK, DALLAS COWBOYS
From 2013 to 2017, the Cowboys’ offensive line was the only unit to record top-five marks in both pass-blocking grade (87.6, 4th) and run-blocking grade (90.9, 2nd) over the span, and Frederick’s work from the middle of that line was a huge reason why. In those five seasons, Frederick allowed only 69 pressures (and just five sacks) from his 2827 pass-blocking snaps, while he earned a run-blocking grade of 93.2 that was second to only Philadelphia’s Jason Kelce. Frederick played over 1000 snaps in each season, he graded above 85.0 in each, and he received a downgrade on just 6.6% of his total snaps, which shows just how consistent he’s been throughout his tenure in Dallas.
Unfortunately, Frederick was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder which forced him to sit out of the 2018 campaign, but after a season-long recovery, the reports out of Dallas are positive: the rehab is going well, and he is progressing through the team’s offseason program in preparation for the 2019 campaign. His consistency has been exemplary throughout his career, so if he is indeed back to full strength, he should be a favorite for this award.
It’s not just a a new opportunity for the rookies, but for many new coaches as well. Nick Eatman discusses what Jon Kitna brings to the team.
Eliminating False Steps
New quarterbacks coach Jon Kitna was the starter in Jason Garrett’s first-ever game as an interim head coach back in 2010. Things have changed quite a bit for both as Kitna has returned as the Cowboys QB coach for this season.
After finishing up his playing career, Kitna has spent time as a high school coach. When asked this weekend if teaching the fundamentals of the position is vastly different from that level to the NFL, Kitna was quick to respond. “For sure. Yeah it’s hard in high school to get those kids to understand that the smallest little details matter,” Kitna said.
“At the pro level, they do understand. They understand when you have to take a different hitch and that affects things down the field. I never really coached quarterbacks in high school because I knew I would be too technical for them and they wouldn’t be able to understand it.
Here, these guys are really working hard at eliminating false steps. My example is always Jason Witten. He’s going to the Hall of Fame because he eliminated false steps. It’s the same thing we want to do at quarterback.”
Dak is not taking less than market value, but is there any alternative to paying him that?
Either you pay Dak Prescott or you bring in someone who can do better. The small problem is, who’s that guy? You’re not getting a franchise QB in the market right now, and you’re sure as hell not drafting him in the 2020 NFL Draft unless you go 0-16. And no, the Dallas Cowboys are not having a winless season in 2019. So realistically, the Cowboys have two options.
1) Pay Dak the market value to keep a potential franchise QB who’s been able to win consistently in the NFL and still has a ton of upside, or
2) let him walk, find a mediocre starting quarterback to step in and regret it until you find another promising signal-caller (a task Cowboys fans should know it’s not easy at all).