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Cowboys news: Mike McCarthy meets the press, Dallas signs more safety help

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams
It’s been a minute.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Safety Damontae Kazee is signing with Dallas.

10 Takeaways From McCarthy’s Press Conference - Jonny Auping, Dallas
It has been a long time since the head coach faced the media, and Mike McCarthy had a lot to say. Defense got a lot of attention.

- McCarthy claimed that it won't be a "start over" situation with the defense under new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and said that the focus should be less about 4-3 versus 3-4. The emphasis should be placed on "technique" and fitting a system to your players, he said. McCarthy used the word "multiple" to describe the plan for the defensive scheme.

- In retrospect, "We tried to change too much on defense," last season according to McCarthy. He didn't assign blame on any one person, but said that he has a lot of work to do.

Cowboys DL Tyrone Crawford retiring from NFL after 9 seasons - DMN Sportsday staff
Time and injuries have combined to make this happen. Mike McCarthy probably feels bad about letting this one slip in his press conference, stealing the player's opportunity to make the announcement himself. McCarthy also mentioned that Sean Lee was still mulling his options.

Veteran Cowboys defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford has decided to retire from the NFL, Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy announced during a press conference on Thursday.

The Cowboys selected Crawford in the third round (No. 81 overall) of the 2012 NFL draft out of Boise State. He played multiple positions across the defensive line over the next nine seasons, appearing in at least 14 games seven times.

Dak Prescott 'Is the Keystone' of Cowboys, Head Coach Mike McCarthy Says - Scott Polacek, Bleacher Report
McCarthy did go a bit Captain Obvious, while also indicating that a veteran backup for his star QB is also a possible free agency target.

"Dak is the keystone of this team," McCarthy told reporters. "I'm excited about year two on offense. In a lot of ways, we didn't feel like we got to have a year one."

McCarthy said the Cowboys are still looking for a veteran backup quarterback since Andy Dalton moved to the Chicago Bears, but the coach is pleased with Prescott's leadership.

Mike McCarthy reveals how he found out about Dak Prescott's deal - Matt Howe, 247 Sports

Just imagine this.

During a recent press conference, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy revealed that he was on vacation when learning of the news that Dallas had reached a contract agreement with Prescott.

"It's a lot easier to do cartwheels in the sand," McCarthy said, via WFAA’s Mike Leslie.

Mike McCarthy: Things still fluid with Aldon Smith - Josh Alper, ProFootballTalk
It was reported earlier this week that the Cowboys would be moving on from Aldon Smith, but the head coach doesn't think that is a done deal.

McCarthy was asked why the team decided to move on without the pass rusher and he said that they have not made that decision. He said that he was involved in a conversation about Smith on Wednesday and that the door has not been shut on a return.

Cowboys conversation: Free agency best move, what still needs to be done and looking ahead to the draft – Jon Machota and Bryan Broaddus, The Athletic
There is so much to unpack in this transcribed comment by Broaddus, and it is pretty much all gold.

Bryan Broaddus: First of all, Keanu Neal is absolutely their best free-agency signing because I don’t even know who is second. He’s the one guy who will be a starter, and he can play. I think a lot of people are making that connection between (Ha Ha) Clinton-Dix, (George) Iloka and Neal, but I don’t know that it fits because those guys, and I think my Twitter feed would confirm this, the day they were brought in, I was suspicious that they would even make the team. They seemed like complete fliers who were past their prime and not reasonable starters in the NFL. Neal is a starter in the NFL. He’s 26 on opening day. And the only reason the price tags and the contracts are similar is the football economy. That’s really a buyer’s opportunity right now. There’s a lot of guys who probably deserve multiyear deals and twice the money who are settling for very, very fringe one-year deals, and they’re doing it because they want to get back to the market next year. And, of course, the teams are doing it because nobody has any cap room. I think Neal is a legit signing. And I don’t want to get carried away, but I would just say this to pull the curtain back a little bit, recently we were both asked to work on a project for the best and worst free-agent signings of the last decade, and I could only come up with a list of one for best signing. I don’t even know who the other candidates would be besides Brandon Carr in 2012. That is shocking to me that the richest franchise in sports, over 10 years, doesn’t really have a second free-agent signing of substance. It would not take Keanu Neal much to work his way onto the medal stand, at least. Even if we’re far from having that discussion, I think this does make the defense better, but they still have a ways to go.

Keanu Neal Credits Defensive Coaches for Why He Chose the Cowboys - Jess Haynie, Inside the Star
Keanu Neal cited Dan Quinn and Joe Whitt as reasons he chose the Cowboys over the Jets. And that leads to this very interesting point.

Hearing that a player followed these coaches to Dallas is very positive news after 2020. Mike Nolan’s one season as Defensive Coordinator was a disaster both on the field and in the way players seemed to respond to him.

Last year, Jaylon Smith openly criticized the coaching scheme after the team’s early losses. In October, Xavier Woods made a public statement about his own lack of effort and insinuated the same from some of his teammates.

Say what you will about former defensive coaches Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard, but you never had these kind of comments and issues under their watch.

Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy at top of NFL coaches in going for 4th downs - Tony Thompson, Cowboys Wire
Mike McCarthy got at least one thing right during his first season in Dallas.

No coach made the correct decision on fourth down with four or less yards to go more often than McCarthy did with the Cowboys. That might seem like a niche stat pulled from the recesses of the internet in order to defend a Dallas coach that oversaw one of their worst seasons in recent memory, but the fact is that coaches are too conservative in that exact situation.

McCarthy wasn’t. Nor did he have nearly his full complement of offensive weapons. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him become more conservative with a healthier team on the field in 2021, but if he’s true to his word, he’ll continue his all-gas-no-brakes decision making on fourth down.

Here’s the graphic that is based on:

Dallas Cowboys' biggest defensive pickup so far this season: Dan Quinn - Todd Archer, ESPN
It's pretty clear that the guy that runs things in Dallas thinks Dan Quinn is the real answer for the defense.

"He's got great experience. He is people-skilled. When you're around him, you'll see that," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. "He's certainly a dedicated football coach, and he's covered a lot of ground. We have a lot of tape, so to speak, if you were talking about a player. We've got really a lot of information to look at to decide how he fits us. He was absolutely perfect for us in this situation to come in here. He'll be very influential, extraordinarily influential in how we put together our personnel on defense. He's got that kind of credibility."

Quinn comes to the Cowboys after a 43-42 run as the Atlanta Falcons coach from 2015 to five games into the 2020 season. He earned the Falcons' job based on his two-year run as the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks. In 2013 and '14, the Seahawks were No. 1 in yards and points allowed and played in back-to-back Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XLVIII.

Michael Irvin inspired Jerry Jones’ confidence in Dak Prescott’s rehab - Jori Epstein, USA Today
Why were the Cowboys willing to do a megadeal with a quarterback coming off such a devastating injury?

Jerry Jones says he wasn’t waiting for a specific X-ray. And he wasn’t waiting for Dak Prescott to run at a certain speed, jump at a certain height or throw a spiral with a certain stability.

So what made the Dallas Cowboys owner confident enough in his quarterback’s rehabilitation process to shell out a four-year, $160 million contract?

“We compared his rehab with a guy that I thought was legendary as far as how he handled his rehab when he was first injured, and that was Michael Irvin,” Jones told USA TODAY Sports over Zoom.

“Michael Irvin had the most conscientious work-hard at that time that most that were around his rehab said, ‘I’ve never seen anyone rehab to that degree, work that hard, be that conscientious.’ We compared how Dak works on his rehab with how Michael had done it.

“(Dak’s) history in dealing with injuries is very good. Very, very good. That has as much to do with anything as to how he rehabs and how conscientious he is in rehab."

2020 Adjusted Games Lost: Part II | Scott Spratt, Football Outsiders
This looks back at how badly teams were impacted in 2020 by losses to injury. As you might expect, the Cowboys showed up for losing a lot of their starters on offense, being second in both the offensive lineman and tight end categories. And of course, right at the top in the most important position on the field.

The Cowboys and 49ers suffered the two most devastating quarterback injuries with Dak Prescott's (11.0 adjusted games lost) dislocated and broken ankle in Week 5 and Jimmy Garoppolo's (10.0) lingering second-half high ankle sprain. If Prescott's value wasn't obvious in his top-eight passing DVOA rates in 2019 and 2020 before the injury, it became obvious in the Cowboys' fall without him and his subsequent four-year, $160-million extension.

NFC East free agency grades: Giants stealing the show, Cowboys secure QB and Eagles are a flop - Patrik "No C" Walker,
Who can't resist seeing some bad things about our beloved NFCE rivals, who got a D and last place in the division with little chance of making big improvements.

It's difficult to spend cash when you're handcuffed to the bank's counter.

That was the problem for the Eagles as they entered free agency, having been massively in the red as it relates to the NFL salary cap heading into the offseason, things didn't get better in seeing how they traded away Carson Wentz and choked down a $33.8 million dead-money hit for his contract -- the largest in NFL history. Because they were/are so hamstrung, there's not much they could/could've achieved thus far in free agency, but the addition of (FS Anthony) Harris has to be viewed with golden lenses. Not far removed from being one of the best ballhawks in the league, the veteran safety gets plopped into a secondary that's long been in need of safety help, and much more so after sending Malcolm Jenkins on his way one year ago. They hope safety Andrew Adams will help as well, but that's a longer reach, and the Eagles also lost several players to other teams, including Jalen Mills to the New England Patriots. It hasn't been a good run in this year's free agency for Philly, to say the least, largely due to a self-inflicted cash crunch

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