What kind of success can we expect Mike McCarthy to have in year one as the head man of the Dallas Cowboys?
However, as Cowboys coach No. 9 Mike McMarthy prepares to take the sidelines, he’s no doubt looking for first-season fortune and therefore chasing Barry Switzer. Yep, Barry Switzer.
Switzer, the longtime Oklahoma coach who took the Cowboys’ championship reins following Johnson’s departure, stands as the most successful first-year coach in franchise lore.
Switzer remains the only Dallas coach to win a playoff game in his first season with the franchise – Chan Gailey, Bill Parcells and Wade Phillips all lost their playoff openers in their initial campaigns.
Blake Jarwin has been a trendy pick to breakout for the Cowboys this season. How good can the former undrafted free agent be in 2020?
McCarthy’ west coast offensive principles, coupled with Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore’s scheme should equate to success for Jarwin. The last time McCarthy had a TE similar to Jarwin was when he coached Jermichael Finley. The former Green Bay TE had a three-season stretch (excluding a season in-between because of injury) where he averaged 57 catches, 703 yards and five scores a season.
The last Cowboys tight end to have 700 yards and five scores in a season was Witten in 2014, but those are the type of numbers to expect from Jarwin.
The hype train for Blake Jarwin is full-steam ahead. The aerial attack for the Cowboys is one of the best in the league, with defenses focused on stopping RB Ezekiel Elliott and the wide receiver weapons in Dallas, Jarwin will have every opportunity to cash in with a big year.
Upgrading the roster is a year-round mission. Here are three potential trades that the Cowboys could explore.
Less than a year ago Patrick Peterson trade questions were running at full-steam. Peterson was coming off a suspension, he was getting up in age, and he was asking for a big new deal. Arizona had reportedly fielded up to seven offers at one point.
But after the Arizona front office spoke out against a trade, those rumors were quickly put to bed. Peterson, 29, is entering the last year on his deal and has been looking for an extension for some time now.
The Cardinals GM, Steve Kelm, has been saying all the right things publicly but the contract remains unresolved. Dallas Cowboys fans know all too well, actions speak louder than words and perhaps Steve Kelm’s comments about wanting to keep Peterson beyond 2020 were nothing but that – words. And they really intend on riding him out and have no intention of extending the aging veteran.
Here’s where the Dallas Cowboys come in. Dallas is ready to win now and has a tremendous need to the CB position. After letting Byron Jones leave, they have a gaping hole at CB1. In what I referred to as their “Biggest Gamble of the Offseason”, the Cowboys are risking a lot going with depth at CB rather than top-end talent.
What free agents are still left unsigned that would be a fit in Dallas?
Thankfully, the team has turned a corner in this philosophy. Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, and Neville Gallimore offer up three solid defensive tackles. At safety, they also invested in Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who will join Xavier Woods. The only problem is, both Woods and Clinton-Dix are better fits at free safety than in the strong safety role.
In the end, this isn’t a huge issue as teams don’t typically play their strong safety exclusively in the box as they used to. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to have someone capable of playing closer to the line of scrimmage, which is why Reshad Jones would make a lot of sense.
A two-time Pro Bowler, Jones has been with the Miami Dolphins since 2010 but has yet to find an NFL home for 2020. At 32 years of age, he wouldn’t be a long-term investment but bringing Jones in on a one-year deal would help improve the Cowboys secondary.
Updates on all of the latest around Frisco, plus a little on Jason Garrett.
Last season under the prior regime, the Giants ranked 23rd in the NFL in total offense, averaging 338.5 yards per game.
Meanwhile, Garrett’s Cowboys in 2019 ranked first in the league in total yards per game with 431.5 yards per game, second in passing at 296.9 yards per, fifth in rushing yards with 134.6 yards per and sixth in scoring with 27.1 points per.
The Giants’ centerpieces are second-year quarterback Daniel Jones (who Garrett will be teaching with the hope that he can match Dak Prescott’s accomplishments in Dallas) and third-year running back Saquon Barkley (who is in the same league with Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott).
Banks tells me when he looks at the “talent’’ and the “schematics,’’ it’s obvious - chuckles aside - that New York made a smooth move here.
“Yes,’’ Banks says. “Look at the bottom line (of Garrett in Dallas). “We (the Giants) will take that.’’
How big of a concern is the Cowboys’ defensive backfield? The Hall of Famer Gil Brandt ranks the unit as one of the biggest roster holes across the league.
4. Dallas Cowboys Secondary
The franchise that once fielded safeties Cliff Harris, Darren Woodson and Roy Williams has not had a true impact player at either starting safety spot in a decade-plus. That drought will likely continue into 2020, unless Dallas trades for someone like Jamal Adams — but I wouldn’t hold my breath there. As much as this appears to be a position of need, the Cowboys don’t seem to agree, based on the fact that they’ve selected just one safety in the first two rounds since choosing Williams in 2002. The plan right now seems to be to stick with Xavier Woods — who has recorded just five total turnovers (four picks and one fumble recovery) over the past two seasons — and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who signed with the team and will reunite with new coach Mike McCarthy after their time together in Green Bay. Darian Thompson is the third safety at the moment, but he could be usurped by Chidobe Awuzie, if he’s able to move from corner to safety.
Corner is also unsettled, however, with no one standing out as an obvious No. 1 in the wake of Byron Jones’ departure to the Dolphins via free agency. Dallas will have to hope rookies Trevon Diggs (a second-round pick) and Reggie Robinson (a fourth-rounder) are able to push for starting spots and allow Awuzie to move, with Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis and Daryl Worley also vying for snaps. However it shakes out, the Cowboys must get more turnovers on the back end after tying for last with Detroit and Arizona in interceptions (seven). The uncertainty in the secondary will only make it more critical for DeMarcus Lawrence — who logged just five sacks in 2019 — and the defensive front to generate pressure.
Film room: 3 ‘pet cats’ on the Cowboys’ roster, including the perfect complement to Cooper-Gallup-Lamb at WR
Who are potential pet cats to look out for?
Bradlee Anae, DE
It may be time to rename “Film Room” to “The Bradlee Anae Room” because of how often he’s been mentioned in this column this year. Frequent readers remember that Anae was included when I broke down my pet cats of the 2020 draft.
As someone whose pet cats rarely end up on the team I cover, there’s nothing better than seeing the Cowboys draft my No. 1 pet cat at a great value.
Viewed as a Day 2 pick entering the draft process, Anae’s stock fell precipitously due to poor athletic testing (11.2-percentile athlete compared to NFL edge defenders) and arms so short (32 1/4 inches; 11th percentile) they’d make a T-Rex jealous.
Despite those very real knocks, Anae is skilled enough to be effective in the NFL. It’s not like Anae is going to turn into a 10-plus-sack-per-year player who offenses are forced to scheme for, but he can become an awesome rotational defender who makes his biggest impact by rushing the passer.
With Robert Quinn off to Chicago, the Cowboys need some production opposite of DeMarcus Lawrence. Can Aldon Smith be that guy?
The Dallas Cowboys made it a point to address their pass rush this offseason. It began with the signings of veteran defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, an area the Cowboys have failed to take care of for years. Shortly after, though, the Cowboys shocked the NFL world when they signed former All-Pro Defensive End Aldon Smith to a one-year deal.
Now, after a five-year hiatus, just how effective can Smith be?
One thing is for certain, nobody should expect a return to his first couple of seasons in San Francisco when he registered 33.5 sacks (fastest player to 30 sacks in NFL history) and was an All-Pro. However, there are a few factors that can see him play better than most think.
For one, the Cowboys have other capable bodies coming off the edge, so Smith won’t be required to be the lead guy like he was in San Francisco with the 49ers. DeMarcus Lawrence will hold down the left side, per usual. Smith will be in competition with Tyrone Crawford, rookie Bradlee Anae, and Randy Gregory, who’s currently going through the reinstatement process himself. This rotation will keep Smith fresh with a lighter workload than he’s used to.
If you could pick one player from every NFC East team and add them to the Cowboys, who would you choose? We discuss on The Ocho.
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