2018 Cowboys: Turning over the same leaf

Bosoxen

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Now that football season is officially over for me, it's time to start the new thread. If the Cowboys keep up their Beckett-like pattern, this year should bring us a playoff season. A lot of things need to go well for that to happen though, so it remains to be seen whether or not they can improve over that 2017 debacle. One thing's for sure, the brain trust in Frisco noticed what set apart their 2016 season and Philadelphia's 2017: defense. All the Cowboys needed to do a year ago was play a little defense and they might have found themselves in the same position as the Eagles. Alas, defense isn't really Jerry Jones' thing, so the lack of defense played a big hand in causing their 2017 season to collapse.

There might be cause for optimism on the horizon, with yesterday's news that they hired Kris Richard as defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator and heir apparent for defensive coordinator (it is expected that this will be Rod Marinelli's last season). Our resident Seahawks fans can better explain why Richard was let go but from an outsider's perspective, it would seem Richard is a fantastic hire. It's well-known that Dan Quinn was the architect of Seattle's defense but they didn't really take a step back under Richard until this season was seemingly derailed by injuries and aging key players. Not that this wouldn't be a concern in Dallas - hello, Sean Lee - but one can have reason to hope that Stephen Jones' increased influence would mean that the team will draft better and actually establish a little bit of depth.

Or 2018 could be a continuation of the past 20+ years of complete and utter futility.
 

kelpapa

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Dez is $8M against the cap in dead money if he's cut. It's another $8.5M to keep him. I think he's gotta be kept at those numbers until next year, when it's a $4M cap hit to cut him.
 

DanoooME

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There might be cause for optimism on the horizon, with yesterday's news that they hired Kris Richard as defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator and heir apparent for defensive coordinator (it is expected that this will be Rod Marinelli's last season). Our resident Seahawks fans can better explain why Richard was let go but from an outsider's perspective, it would seem Richard is a fantastic hire. It's well-known that Dan Quinn was the architect of Seattle's defense but they didn't really take a step back under Richard until this season was seemingly derailed by injuries and aging key players. Not that this wouldn't be a concern in Dallas - hello, Sean Lee - but one can have reason to hope that Stephen Jones' increased influence would mean that the team will draft better and actually establish a little bit of depth.
Richard ascended to the DC position in Seattle replacing Dan Quinn, who replaced Gus Bradley. He was heavily endorsed for the job by the members of the Legion of Boom, as he was previously the DBs coach. A lot of Seahawks fans really soured on him this year, as the defense fell from #1 to #5 to #13 in defensive DVOA. Some of that wasn't his fault. Last year, they lost Earl Thomas, who is one of the two most important players on the defense (with Bobby Wagner) for half the season. The defense was playing well up until the injury (I think they were 1st at the time in DVOA), but their backup, Steven Terrell, was just awful and the defense fell apart. This year, they lost Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman, as well as games missed by Thomas, Wagner, KJ Wright, as well as a few guys playing through injuries (Michael Bennett played most of the season with a plantar fascia injury for example). I think a lot was beyond his control and the defense wasn't the biggest problem on the team (offensive playcalling, OL execution, special teams all were much worse).

He's still really young (39) and I think was still learning on the job. I think there was room for improvement, but I think the growth potential was there and he just needed more time. Personally, I would have given him that time, but maybe he needs some time to learn from another source, as he's been with Pete most of his playing career and all of his coaching career. Getting that different perspective may give him that opportunity to grow and evolve. If he ends up as Marinelli's replacement, after a year learning his system, he could IMO take them to the next level. I think it's a good hire for you.
 

BigJimEd

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Dez is $8M against the cap in dead money if he's cut. It's another $8.5M to keep him. I think he's gotta be kept at those numbers until next year, when it's a $4M cap hit to cut him.
I don't believe that is the way most teams look at it.
The most relevant part is any non guarantee money due. According to over the cap, Dez is due 12.5M in non guarantee salary next season with no major bonuses due. That is what the Cowboys will save vs the cap. 12.5 million.

Yes, $8M of the signing bonus will hit the cap but that is going to count against the cap no matter what. Half of it could possibly get accelerated to this year instead of splitting it but either way it is hitting the cap sooner or later
 

kelpapa

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I don't believe that is the way most teams look at it.
The most relevant part is any non guarantee money due. According to over the cap, Dez is due 12.5M in non guarantee salary next season with no major bonuses due. That is what the Cowboys will save vs the cap. 12.5 million.

Yes, $8M of the signing bonus will hit the cap but that is going to count against the cap no matter what. Half of it could possibly get accelerated to this year instead of splitting it but either way it is hitting the cap sooner or later
One of us is reading this wrong. The dead money on both OverTheCap and Spotrac show him as saving $8.5M in 2018 if cut. The following season - 2019 - is a savings of $12.5M.

ETA - this wasn't intended to be snarky. It could be 2018 was just played, but I don't think that's the case.
 

BigJimEd

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One of us is reading this wrong. The dead money on both OverTheCap and Spotrac show him as saving $8.5M in 2018 if cut. The following season - 2019 - is a savings of $12.5M.

ETA - this wasn't intended to be snarky. It could be 2018 was just played, but I don't think that's the case.
I'm not explaining clearly but what I'm saying is they are calculating the difference in cap for a single year but that does NOT equal savings.

Dez has 12.5 M in salary next year plus 4M of prorated sighing bonus due to hit the cap. That's his current projected cap charge of 16.5 M.
If they cut him they still pay that 4M bonus plus another 4M due to hit the cap next year. Subtract the 8M from the 16.5 and that's where the sites come up with their cap "savings" of 8.5.

But that 8M is lost money it's hitting the cap no matter what. Just a matter of when. That 12.5M in salary is not.

Look at it over 2 years.
His two year cap hit if he plays this season is 20.5M. Salary plus bonus. If they cut him it's only the bonus 8M.

And they could still work it so they can prorate the bonus over 2 years if necessary by declaring him a June 1st cut.
 

Bosoxen

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Richard ascended to the DC position in Seattle replacing Dan Quinn, who replaced Gus Bradley. He was heavily endorsed for the job by the members of the Legion of Boom, as he was previously the DBs coach. A lot of Seahawks fans really soured on him this year, as the defense fell from #1 to #5 to #13 in defensive DVOA. Some of that wasn't his fault. Last year, they lost Earl Thomas, who is one of the two most important players on the defense (with Bobby Wagner) for half the season. The defense was playing well up until the injury (I think they were 1st at the time in DVOA), but their backup, Steven Terrell, was just awful and the defense fell apart. This year, they lost Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman, as well as games missed by Thomas, Wagner, KJ Wright, as well as a few guys playing through injuries (Michael Bennett played most of the season with a plantar fascia injury for example). I think a lot was beyond his control and the defense wasn't the biggest problem on the team (offensive playcalling, OL execution, special teams all were much worse).

He's still really young (39) and I think was still learning on the job. I think there was room for improvement, but I think the growth potential was there and he just needed more time. Personally, I would have given him that time, but maybe he needs some time to learn from another source, as he's been with Pete most of his playing career and all of his coaching career. Getting that different perspective may give him that opportunity to grow and evolve. If he ends up as Marinelli's replacement, after a year learning his system, he could IMO take them to the next level. I think it's a good hire for you.
Thank you. That's just the kind of insight I was hoping to get. I stand corrected on the genesis of Seattle's defense but it's still the same effect: that Richard was merely a continuation of the effort. It should be interesting to see what he can do with the crop of young defensive backs on the Cowboys roster. I don't know how well he fits in scheme-wise but if he can turn the secondary into something even remotely resembling what the Legion of Boom was in its prime, I don't know any Cowboys fan with half a brain who would complain about that.
Assuming Dez won't restructure his contract in any meaningful way, would you want him kept?
No. He needs to go. And every WR on the roster not named Beasley needs to go with him. It's clear the passing game under Prescott is not going to be a "Romo friendly" vertical passing game, so those receivers are all wrong for him. He needs guys who can run routes and get open, not a bunch of guys who can only streak down the field and are prone to disappearing for weeks at a time. And he certainly doesn't need some prima donna with stone hands chirping for the ball on every play.
Bravo on the thread title
Thanks. I'm sadly well-versed in "more of the same" metaphors. I have plenty more in reserve for future seasons.
 

Super Nomario

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Wasn't Richard the DC who introduced a bunch of other coverages to the Seattle scheme, leading to the famous breakdown(s) at the end of the Carolina game a couple years ago? Not sure whether that's a positive or negative - suggests he's not just married to the Seattle C3, but doesn't necessarily say a ton about his ability to teach the other stuff.
 

kelpapa

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I'm not explaining clearly but what I'm saying is they are calculating the difference in cap for a single year but that does NOT equal savings.

Dez has 12.5 M in salary next year plus 4M of prorated sighing bonus due to hit the cap. That's his current projected cap charge of 16.5 M.
If they cut him they still pay that 4M bonus plus another 4M due to hit the cap next year. Subtract the 8M from the 16.5 and that's where the sites come up with their cap "savings" of 8.5.

But that 8M is lost money it's hitting the cap no matter what. Just a matter of when. That 12.5M in salary is not.

Look at it over 2 years.
His two year cap hit if he plays this season is 20.5M. Salary plus bonus. If they cut him it's only the bonus 8M.

And they could still work it so they can prorate the bonus over 2 years if necessary by declaring him a June 1st cut.
I understand what you are saying now. Makes sense - I don't know how teams look at that type of thing. I'm just reading off of a web site.
 

DanoooME

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Wasn't Richard the DC who introduced a bunch of other coverages to the Seattle scheme, leading to the famous breakdown(s) at the end of the Carolina game a couple years ago? Not sure whether that's a positive or negative - suggests he's not just married to the Seattle C3, but doesn't necessarily say a ton about his ability to teach the other stuff.
They've never been Cover-3 exclusive. Richard blitzed less and used more coverages, but they always sprinkle in some Cover-2 and man-to-man. The Carolina game you are thinking of was a blown coverage because the entire defense didn't get the signal of what coverage to use. Not sure that's a teaching thing, just a communication issue.
 

Super Nomario

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They've never been Cover-3 exclusive. Richard blitzed less and used more coverages, but they always sprinkle in some Cover-2 and man-to-man. The Carolina game you are thinking of was a blown coverage because the entire defense didn't get the signal of what coverage to use. Not sure that's a teaching thing, just a communication issue.
That's all fair. I think it's hard when you have a defensive coach like Carroll and a history of success synonymous with (but as you note, not exclusive to) a particular scheme, it's hard to separate out the contributions of the DC. Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn have run something pretty similar to Seattle in their subsequent stops; it'll be interesting to see if Richard follows suit or if he is inclined to mix it up more.
 

Greg29fan

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Forget the defensive side of the ball. They needed to fire Scott Linehan, but they couldn't even get that right. I was foolishly hoping they were at least going to nail the QB coach hire, given how badly Dak regressed, instead they're going to give a pity hire to Kellen Moore of all people.
 

Bosoxen

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Forget the defensive side of the ball. They needed to fire Scott Linehan, but they couldn't even get that right. I was foolishly hoping they were at least going to nail the QB coach hire, given how badly Dak regressed, instead they're going to give a pity hire to Kellen Moore of all people.
Agreed on Linehan. He didn't seem to have a clue what to do once the offense ceased to be the unstoppable force it was in 2016. And whether or not he was responsible for constantly cramming the ball in Dez's direction to the detriment of everything, the blame ultimately falls on him.

On Moore, however, I'm going to take a wait and see approach. The way I see it, he had to have stuck around as a player for as long as he did for a reason, right? And since that reason wasn't his playing ability, maybe there's something else there. Not that I have any faith in their ability to hire competent personnel but even this blind squirrel of a franchise can occasionally find an acorn.
 

Greg29fan

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Dallas is also signing Allen Hurns from Jacksonville to corner the market on #4 wide receivers.
 

Tyrone Biggums

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It was a short meeting between #Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Dez Bryant. After months speculation, Bryant was released and a marquee 29-year old free agent is on the market midway through April with several WR needy teams.
I like Jordan Matthews but the Pats just cleared up a little bit of cap room. This needs to happen. Love to see what he could do with a top flight QB
 

Greg29fan

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He's slow AF after all the leg injuries and can't run a route besides a slant. Good luck.
 

foulkehampshire

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You wonder how much of his decline is due to the QB situation. It's a different type of game with Dak out there.

The leg injuries are concerning however and he has a good deal of mileage for a 29 year old. Still, color me intrigued.
 

BigSoxFan

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The real question left is whether or not he can produce in a better passing offense. My hunch after watching him last year is that he’s partially cooked but still could be a decent 2/3 for a year or two in the right situation.
 

Bosoxen

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You wonder how much of his decline is due to the QB situation. It's a different type of game with Dak out there.

The leg injuries are concerning however and he has a good deal of mileage for a 29 year old. Still, color me intrigued.
Dak's not causing him to have balls clang off of his hands and into the waiting hands of defenders. There is an argument to be made that the change from Romo impacted Dez the most but he's not exactly collateral damage. He's getting older and more injured, his work ethic has always sucked and his tendency to disappear for long stretches was back with a vengeance last year.

I was all for his contract extension when it happened but his reluctance to restructure the deal made this inevitable. All I can say now is:

Bye, Felicia.
 

E5 Yaz

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They've cut him in large part because he wouldn't take a pay cut. Did folks not see that tweet about how much ... combined .. the NE receivers are making next season?

Add in the physical slippage, he's not coming here.

Wouldn't be shocked if he wound up in SF
 

EP Sox Fan

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That was a move the organization needed to make. Further proof that GM Jerry is playing second fiddle to Stephen, especially given the relationship between he and Dez. He's going to have a massive chip on his shoulder next season. I've seen someone post on Twitter that on his way out of the Star, he said he would see the Cowboys twice next season. Apparently, there is interest from the Giants. Wonder if that is where is is going.
 

SMU_Sox

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To channel former SMU HC Chad Morris, with just a quarter of a tank of gas they could find his replacement right in the metroplex with Courtland Sutton. Cowboys have a lot of areas where they could go in the draft but now do you think they target a receiver in the 1st or 2nd round? If so who do you think fits in best with their offense? If I am going with direct comps to Dez I think Courtland Sutton is the closest. I think the safest bet as a solid contributor is Ridley in terms of floors because he wins with his route running and speed. He's more technically sound. I watched him last of the receivers I looked at and right after Anthony Miller. Funny juxtaposition. Not that Jones is looking to making a flashy pick but Ridley does come from Alabama and that brand has a lot of respect/equity here. That's a win-win, right? You make a sexy pick but actually get a guy with a good floor. Ridley is a bit undersized though and isn't great as a run blocker. I think he can fit anywhere but he is as far opposite to Dez as you can get. What do you guys think?
 

Bosoxen

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I don't think they need to replace Dez with a similar style of receiver. Prescott is a spread it around type of QB who isn't going to throw it to the same guy 50% of the time - as Dez demanded - and find any type of success. They're going to want to replace him with a guy who can get open on his own and doesn't need to be thrown open as much as Dez requires due to his crappy route-running.

A bigger guy to whom you can throw in the end zone is nice but they already theoretically have that in Rico Gathers.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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Apparently, there is interest from the Giants. Wonder if that is where is is going.
Don't the Giants already have Brandon Marshall filling the washed-up, never-really-that-good-in-the-first-place, likely-to-miss-half-the-season wide receiver position?
 

BigSoxFan

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They've cut him in large part because he wouldn't take a pay cut. Did folks not see that tweet about how much ... combined .. the NE receivers are making next season?

Add in the physical slippage, he's not coming here.

Wouldn't be shocked if he wound up in SF
It’s not just the salary. From a talent standpoint, not sure Dez gives you anything more next year than a guy like Britt who you have dirt cheap. Somebody will pay for the name and past production but agree that it’s not going to be the Pats.

Cowboys were smart to cut the cord here.
 

RetractableRoof

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I'm in the boat that Bryant has lost a step or two, and is not reliable to be an automatic win in a jump ball any longer. I've always wondered as well if he were older than his stated age, not that it matters a whole lot - but this physical decline seems a little bit early. As has been said already, the value for the contract just isn't there in my eyes.

That said, they do need a WR to provide an outside threat for Dak. If defenses are allowed to stack the box and force Dak to try to beat them deep/outside it will likely be a disaster of an offensive season. I'm not sold on Dak being able to get through read progressions in order to find his 3rd option the way a more experienced QB does. Not a criticism in saying that, I just don't think he's developed that ability yet.
 

Average Game James

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Don't the Giants already have Brandon Marshall filling the washed-up, never-really-that-good-in-the-first-place, likely-to-miss-half-the-season wide receiver position?
Not to take the thread off course, but... while Marshall might have a fork in his back now, he was definitely an excellent receiver for a lot of years. 6 seasons of 100+ catches and went over 1500 yards twice on teams quarterbacked by Jay Cutler and Ryan Fitzpatrick. He’s 23rd all time in career receiving yards and 23rd in career receiving TDs. If anything, he’s probably underrated...
 

TFisNEXT

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I actually thought Dez was still very good at jump balls but Dak tended to throw more line drives than Romo which didn't allow him take advantage of that skill as much. He's def lost a step though so he's no longer a threat going deep like early in his career.

If he ever bothered to perfect his route-running he could still be an asset given his physical size but there's nothing to really indicate he's going to embrace route running all of the sudden.
 

Oil Can Dan

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Per Mort:

Jason Witten is planning to retire after 15 years to join ESPN's new Monday Night Football broadcast team as a lead analyst but will meet today with owner Jerry Jones before making his decision final, per sources.