Grading Mike McCarthy’s defensive staff: Jim Tomsula is just what the doctor ordered for Cowboys’ D-line-John Owning, Dallas Morning News
A breakdown of the Cowboys new defensive staff featuring former head coach, Jim Tomsula.
One of McCarthy’s most exciting hires was his selection of Jim Tomsula as defensive line coach.
Throughout his time with Washington and San Francisco, Tomsula has developed a reputation as one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL. Most of his experience came with teams with a 3-4 base defense, but he should have no problem transitioning to a 4-3 base.
Tomsula has a long resume of developing effective and production defensive linemen.
While in San Francisco (2007-15), Tomsula deserved a ton of credit for helping turn Justin Smith into one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the game. Before he joined the 49ers in 2008, Smith had yet to be voted to a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team. In his seven seasons with Tomsula, Smith was voted to five Pro Bowls and two All-Pro first teams. Smith even called Tomsula “the best D-line coach in the NFL.”
In Washington, Tomsula oversaw the development of Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis, all of whom became quality players under his tutelage. Ioannidis’ development is the most impressive, as he came to Tomsula as a fifth-round draft pick while Payne and Allen were first-rounders. This season, Ioannidis finished with an impressive 64 tackles, 11 for loss, 55 total pressures and 8.5 sacks.
Will the Cowboys draft strategy be altered under a new coaching staff?
What exactly will those changes look like? This coming draft could be awfully telling. The Cowboys have long valued an all-inclusive decision making process, drawing input from their scouting department and their coaching staff. Obviously, the coaches in question are now different, but McClay said Wednesday he doesn’t expect to see wholesale changes in the setup.
”I don’t think it changes. We’re always looking for better football players,” he said. “There might be some tweaks on things that we’re looking for, but at the end of the day – as Jerry said the other day – we, organizationally, set the standard for what we’re looking for player-wise.”
A reason for that is because it doesn’t sound like McCarthy wants to reinvent the wheel. He already said last week that he wants to build his offense off what Kellen Moore has already put in place. And though new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan figures to use multiple looks, it doesn’t sound like the Cowboys are preparing for a drastic departure from what’s in place.
”At the end of the day, we’re going to stay within the same scheme, and we’re going to do things a little bit different,” McClay said. “So our job is to go and evaluate all the players. They might want bigger interior players, so that’s fine. We’ll go and look for that. But I think we’re going to be looking for the same type of players.”
Troy Aikman surprised by Mike McCarthy’s decision to give up Cowboys’ play-calling duties - Joe Hayden, Dallas Morning News
The legendary Cowboys quarterback was surprised by Mike McCarthy giving up play-calling duties to Kellen Moore.
Aikman agreed that Moore’s debut season as a coordinator in Dallas ended in impressive fashion. “I think Kellen Moore has done a nice job, it’s hard to argue what they did last year offensively. … I think anyone objectively looking at the Cowboys would say they were pretty explosive offensively and did a lot of really great things,” Aikman said.
The Cowboys were the No. 1 offense in all of football this season averaging 431.5 yards per game, and were sixth in scoring averaging 27.1 points. Moore will have the opportunity to improve on those numbers next year, as well as continue to build his relationship with Dak Prescott.
However, despite McCarthy’s initial stance on who will be in charge of calling plays, Aikman feels the Cowboys’ head coach will still be keeping a watchful eye as the season begins.
“The carry over and the continuity for Dak I believe is a good thing. I think having Kellen Moore, who Dak has a great relationship with, I think is a really positive thing. But yet, I think that Mike is going to be involved in the play-calling,” Aikman said. “I don’t think it’s a situation, knowing Mike and how he feels about the offense, that he’s just going to hand it over to somebody and not have any role within that.”
Dak Prescott has some leverage over the Cowboys in negotiations this offseason.
Prescott refused any and all long-term offers from the Cowboys, embracing the risk of injury and ineffectiveness in his contract year. Now that his contract year has ended, he’s on the brink of a long-term deal from the Cowboys, one that will be fueled by leverage that no player has had since Joe Flacco in 2013.
Seven years ago, Flacco parlayed his preseason refusal to sign a multi-year deal into a Super Bowl MVP and a long-term contract struck as the Ravens faced the dilemma of applying the non-exclusive franchise tag or the exclusive tag. That’s the posture Prescott and the Cowboys currently occupy, with Dallas having to choose between the non-exclusive tag (at roughly $26 million per year) and the exclusive tag (currently projected to be $33.4 million). The former allows a team to sign Prescott to an offer sheet that the Cowboys can’t/won’t match, surrendering a pair of first-round draft picks as compensation. The latter keeps Prescott of the market, but it unlocks a potential year-to-year approach that sees the tag spike to $40.08 million in 2021 and $57.715 million in 2022.
Either version of the franchise tag presents another problem for the Cowboys. If tagged, Prescott’s leverage becomes enhanced by the fact that he can choose to take a page from the Le’Veon Bell playbook and stay away from the offseason program, training camp, and the preseason — without being in violation of his contract or otherwise losing a dime. Which would significantly complicate Mike McCarthy’s first season as head coach of the Cowboys.
If Jason Witten does not return, how will the Cowboys replace him...again?
I have studied this year’s tight end draft class and quite honestly I’m not all that impressed. There could be a player, possibly two, that sneaks into the later part of the first-round, but I wouldn’t bet on it. As far as the Dallas Cowboys are concerned though, a first-round TE isn’t likely ranked that high on their to do list anyway.
Having said that though, this year’s TE draft class isn’t completely void of talent. There are a few players with starting potential, but that becomes less likely the further along we get into the draft. I honestly have a hard time seeing the Cowboys draft a TE in rounds 1-3. That means they’d have to hit on a mid-round prospect with starting capability. That’s easier said than done.
Any mid-round TE the Dallas Cowboys could draft is going to come with some warts. Whether it’s off the field issues or some question marks about the prospects game, there are going to be red flags way or another. That doesn’t exactly scream starting potential and I don’t think the Cowboys are looking for another developmental prospect. They’ve gone that way before and failed.
Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott on Jason Garrett Exit: 'Sometimes You Need Change' - Tyler Conway, Bleacher Report
Many Cowboys fans agree with Ezekiel Elliott that sometimes change is a good thing.
Linebacker Jaylon Smith complimented Garrett's ability to keep calm amid the pressure in Dallas.
"It's going to be weird because you're so used to Jason and one thing I loved about Jason, he's the ultimate, consistent [person]," Smith said. "Never high, never low, just [clapping]—that's him. He always stayed true to himself, I respect him for that. I learned a lot from Jason, looking forward to what's next."
McCarthy spent 13 seasons with the Packers before being fired with three games remaining in the 2018 season. He spent 2019 out of football, engrossing himself in football analytics that he hopes will improve an offense that felt stale toward the end of his Green Bay tenure.
Dallas made two roster moves on Wednesday.
Vizcaino tried out twice for the Cowboys in December as a potential replacement for Brett Maher. They ultimately released Maher after a 31-24 loss to the Bears – which featured Maher's 10th field goal miss of the season – and signed veteran Kai Forbath for the final three games of the season.
Will McClay met with the media in Mobile on Wednesday. Here are our thoughts about what he had to say.
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