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Heading into the offseason, team owner/general manager Jerry Jones stated that things would be very uncomfortable at Valley Ranch. First thing first, Jones fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and replaced him with Monte Kiffin to bring a change to the defensive scheme, a scheme that switches the defense from a 3-4 to a 4-3 Tampa Cover 2 defense.
Secondly, the teams salary cap issues had to be resolved and multiple players contracts were restructured, most importantly, Tony Romo’s contract needed to be extended and he got a large sum of cold hard cash that created a media wide frenzy that many feel shouldn’t have been given to a quarterback with only one playoff victory on his resume. Then there’s the offensive play-calling situation that Jones stated would be taken over by offensive line assistant Bill Callahan. Months later, we still don’t know who will be calling the plays for the offense.
Sounds to me that head coach Jason Garrett doesn’t want to give up the play-calling duties on offense while the master ruler (Jerry Jones) in Big D wants Callahan running it. Sound like a tug of war going on? Just like Jerry stated that things would be very uncomfortable at Valley Ranch. Just like on draft day when the Cowboys traded out of the 18th pick to move down to 31 to take a center that wasn’t projected to get picked until the 3rd round. I wonder who pulled that string? Just like the problem they have a right tackle with Doug Free that was most likely to get cut come the 1st of June to save $7 million, but no, Free remains a Cowboy, a liability at right tackle. Ok, they got him to cut his pay in half, but you still didn’t get rid of a problem. With that being thrown out in the open, it’s time for me to break down the good and the bad circulating around the surface that’s taking place deep in the heart of Texas.
Offensive Line – The Cowboys could’ve taken more than one lineman in the draft. Drafting center Travis Frederick was only one piece. They could’ve grabbed Kentucky guard Larry Warford in the next round instead of taking a tight end. The interior line is still an issue at guard and had they gone the route that I think would’ve been better after trading down to pick 31, they would’ve drafted a center and a guard to help the most important area of need for quarterback Tony Romo, offensive line.
Play Calling – You better have an idea of who’s going to be running the offense before training camp. I understand it’s only May, but you can’t have any uncertainty in a very important area of coaching. The most likely candidate is offensive line assistant Bill Callahan, but when he was asked about the play calling, he seemed to dodge bullets on who will be the definite play-caller.
“Whatever coach wants me to do, whatever role he wants me to fill, I’m more than happy to do that,” Callahan said. “We’re working through a lot of things right now. When that play goes in, they’re all types of options that we build into the play itself. They can be checks with me, they can be packaged with another run, run-to-run, pass-to-pass. A lot of that [goes] on when the play goes in. You have to, from the people that I’ve spoken with around the NFL. There’s a lot of teams that use that mechanism, use that procedure. That’s one way of doing it.”
Bottom line, you can’t be fussing over this.
Hoping Doug Free will be a force – I don’t understand why it took them so long to get Free to take a pay cut? Plus, Eric Winston is still out there, a better player than Free at right tackle that doesn’t come at an expensive price. If they got him to cut his pay in half earlier, they would’ve had more cap space to add needed talent. I really don’t know what to expect out of Doug Free playing right tackle in 2013. All you can do is hope that he’s motivated to prove everyone wrong. But in this business, living on hope isn’t the direction you want to head into. You’re either good or bad and Free doesn’t give me any positive outlook. The only positive side of this is the fact that Jermey Parnell will be competing with Free for the starting right tackle position and offensive line assistant Bill Callahan sees potential in Parnell already during OTAs.
“I see a lot of growth. I see a lot of maturation relative to his understanding of the game. His techniques are improving. I’d like to see him continue that progress and be a more consistent player down in and down out, said Callahan.”
Extending Tony Romo – Say what you want to say Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless, Donovan McNabb or any other living breathing that is anti-Cowboys, putting up 1,092 career points in about 6 seasons speaks high volumes behind mostly a bad offensive line. You can throw in his late season debacle moments if you’d like, you have that right. But you can’t sit there and tell me he isn’t one the more talented players in the game at his position. And enough with this one playoff victory garbage, because Matt Ryan is one of the better quarterbacks in football and has only one playoff victory himself. Stop putting all the blame on one player. Football is the ultimate team sport and the quarterback doesn’t play defense, offensive line or coach, the main problems in Dallas outside of Jerry Jones. If anything, Romo deserves the big pay from Jerry Jones for taking a beating from a porous offensive line and still putting up big time numbers. The man is 5th all-time in QB rating and 6th all-time in completion percentage. Give him a few more chances to erase his demons. After all, John Elway didn’t win his first super bowl until he was 37.
Hiring Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli – I never saw a smart group with Rob Ryan running the defense. The defense looked dazed and confused in critical moments and never did enough to create turnovers. Now, we can’t blame Ryan for the defense being hit with a major injury bug last season, but this unit needs to become more aggressive and find ways to take away the football from the opposition. You can’t win a super bowl without creating turnovers. Monte Kiffin’s Tampa 2 scheme will have a better influence on the defense in detail and approach. And when switching from the 3-4 to a 4-3, many wondered what the change of scheme would mean for all-pro outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. Cowboys new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli believes the change will benefit arguably the games best pass-rusher.
“I think it’ll aid him a little bit, because your takeoff is better,” Marinelli said, per the Dallas Morning News. “Your keys are a little more consistent with what you’re doing. That’s my opinion. I see him, I mean he’s an elite rusher right now. I just think the more opportunity he has, doing the same things every day, every week, the repetition, which allows you to become even faster. The sky is the limit for him, I believe.”
Cornerback Brandon Carr, who’s heading into his second season with the team gave his take on learning the new Tampa 2 scheme.
“When it is run correctly, opposing offenses will have a difficult time identifying if we are in zone, cover-two or man-to-man. It allows us to be aggressive at the line of scrimmage, every play challenging receivers. It allows us to go out there and dictate the flow of the game, said Carr.”
If this defense can avoid a slew of injuries it had in 2012, don’t be surprised if they become a top 5 or 10 unit in 2013.
Romo getting away from Golf – Look, I don’t think this affects your game badly. After all, we’ve had star players play multiple sports before. Does anyone know about hall of famer Lawrence Taylor’s golf addiction? Did it affect his game? I’ll answer that for you, no. But here’s why I like the fact of Romo getting away from it and Jerry Jones stating that he’ll be putting Peyton Manning time on the job: Anything Tony does makes headlines and being the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys puts you in the spotlight and the media will find anything negative quick to stamp on your back. Be a quarterback and nothing else! I agree with Skip Bayless, stay away from the golf course and throw footballs to Dez Bryant for a good portion of the offseason! Receivers with Dez Bryant type talent come once in a blue-moon and Tony needs to become Mano-A-Mano with Dez if he wants him and Dez to become a tandem like Payton Manning and Marvin Harrison or Steve Young and Jerry Rice was! You see people, I do state negatives about Romo.
In conclusion to all of this, I don’t know what my outlook will be of the Dallas Cowboys come late July when training camp begins. There’s a good and bad to all this and hopefully, I’ll be saying more good than bad when the dog days of summer begin.