Welcome to the Podcast AF offseason review series, astutely titled “The Probe” – the unofficial official NFL offseason review series of the Vegas Golden Knights. Here, like most NFL “writers”, I will regurgitate takes I read or heard somewhere else and pass them off as original thoughts. Will Ryan Tannehill breakout in 2018? Was Mike McCarthy abandoned by the run game as a child? Does Saturn have a playoff atmosphere? Your questions, answered! Sponsored by “Ready Player One”, in theaters now!
#14 – The Dallas Cowboys (9-7, 2nd NFC East)
I am proud to announce that I’ve acquired tickets to Infinity War. I’ll be seeing it at the ass-crack of 9AM on Saturday the 29th as to clear time for sitting in a beach chair and breaking out my Vegas Golden Knights (who are up 3-0 to the Kings, fyi) coozie and telling everyone who looks in my direction how big a fan I am. Virtute!
As is the case whenever I write one of these, I typically choose a team which is involved in some sort of major news. As for the Cowboys, they released WR Dez Bryant a few days ago. In his previous life, Bryant sat at the crossroads of Tony Romo tossing the ball up to him one out of every third or fourth play, and being very tall.
But that’s not what provoked this entry of “The Probe.” The provocateur was this GIF, seen on Reddit, titled “Dallas vs. 8-8 season”:
This guy or gal might be on to something. Aside from the Falcons, I’d say the Cowboys are the team with the least immediate needs. That doesn’t mean every spot on their roster has a premium player, it just means nothing is urgent.
There exists x’s and o’s nerd analysis that makes the case for Dak Prescott being better in 2017 than 2016. I agree with it. Seek it out if you’re not in agreement. The case is akin to Kaepernick in 2016 vs. Kaepernick in 2012: elevated performance and lower production without the supporting cast vs. mediocre performance and higher production with The Dark Knight of NFL supporting casts.
There was…an idea…
I forgot to mention in the Bucs entry that Jameis Winston is also a wacko gropist who commentates bug sex when there are HBO cameras around.
Dak without Zeke is still Dak. But the Cowboys offense without Zeke is like the Cowboys defense without Sean Lee. The offense is so reliant on Zeke that they’ve come to the conclusion they don’t need a stereotypical #1 receiver. Allen Hurns, who’s very underrated, along with Cole Beasley, Terence Williams and ostensibly Deonte Thompson will suffice within the scheme that uses the threat of Zeke to execute RPOs and high-percentage throws (with a focus on using Dak’s legs).
Old Man Witten is still slugging but included in the aging process is the deterioration of his adamantium skeleton. The Cowboys will have to find a new tight end soon because he’s taking that Tennessee job any day now.
The Great Wall of Dallas stands tall. The issue has been La’el Collins, who was a great LG two years ago but was moved to RT after Doug Free retired last offseason. Collins hasn’t been great at RT, but the Cowboys signed OT Cameron Fleming and lost LG Jonathan Cooper to free agency. Seems like the perfect situation. All La’el Collins has to do is swing and he’s a hero…
…but he’s a zero.
If Jason Garrett wants to move Collins back to LG then that’s what’ll happen. Combine that with a great LT in Tyron Smith, the NFL’s best guard in Zack Martin, and a top-3 center in Travis Frederick…the Great Wall lives.
Part of cutting Dez Bryant is that A. The Cowboys had $1.1M in cap room at the time and have that thing called the draft coming up, B. Zack Martin is in a contract year and will undoubtedly set the market for guards next offseason, C. Dak and Zeke will be entering their their fifth-year option seasons in 2020 and then will have to be extended, and D. elite pass-rusher Demarcus Lawrence needs to be extended some time before next March. Lawrence has a failsafe clause in his contract that if he is still on the Cowboys’ roster by the time 2019 free agency rolls around, he automatically becomes a free agent.
Movie Comparison: “American Psycho” – awesome but falls apart if you remove Christian Bale (Sean Lee).
The Cowboys defense without Sean Lee is like a #2 with the seat up. I’ll go over the defense, but keep in mind that historically it falls apart if Sean Lee is injured, which happens quite often.
DE: DeMarcus Lawrence
DT: David Irving
DT2: Maliek Collins (as of now)
DE: Tyrone Crawford/Taco Charlton
Collins is the weak link here and may end up as part of a rotation or just not the starter. Lawrence, as I said before, is an elite pass-rusher. Crawford is also solid but I include Charlton because he was last year’s 1st-round pick and they typically get chances in year two. This is at least a 3 out of 4 DL, and the Dallas defense being 11th against the pass is largely because of them. Rod Marinelli rarely blitzes and the defensive backfield reminds me of lead poisoning. I believe we’ve isolated the virus.
MIKE LB: Jaylon Smith
WILL LB: Sean Lee
SAM LB: No one.
I’ve harped on Sean Lee enough. Don’t die and you’re a top-10 LB. Jaylon Smith is pretty good as well. The Cowboys literally don’t have a strong-side linebacker on their roster. They couldn’t afford to sign anyone, so some rookie is having this job handed to them.
CB1: Jourdan Lewis (2nd year)
FS: Byron Jones (contract year)
SS: Xavier Woods (2nd year)
CB2: Chidobe Awuzie (2nd year)
NCB: Anthony Brown (3rd year)
I love when I look back at my offseason notes and see that I knocked something out of the park. Here’s the note past me left for future me:
“They have young depth guys at CB that need to be given a shot after they rip up Orlando Scandrick’s contract.”
And that’s what’s happening. Lewis and Woods had pretty good rookie seasons, Jones is okay and is playing for his next contract, Awuzie is truly and unknown so we don’t know, and Anthony Brown was more of a cobalt than a nickel (science joke.)
So Sean Lee don’t get injured, Zeke just stay home and fire up Fortnite, don’t expose any areoli, and maybe y’all can prove drunk fence guy wrong.
This is where I should’ve put that contract brouhaha at the end of the first section.
In honor of Pete Prisco telling me I’m dumb and that I’ll fail, here’s this entry’s edition of “Prisco’s Pickanosis,” where I highlight something the Tom Brady of acting like an infant on Twitter was completely wrong about.
Love it when the first one that comes up is a perfect candidate. Everyone would love to have Jalen Ramsey, but they were still 11th against the pass.
What a loser. I’m sure he remembers watching Super Bowl V. Anyone know the Super Bowl Pricksco was watching?