Scandrick, Rewarded Again


Scandrick wasn’t happy that Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr will be making more money than he him this year…

When you think about Cowboys, you think about Country Music. Jake Owens has a song stating that “We all want what we ain’t got.” Don’t tell that to Orlando Scandrick. He wanted more money, and now he has it. Scandrick wanted a salary increase via an extension this year. He wasn’t concerned about staying here longer, he had four years left on his deal. His issue is that in 2015 both Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr will be making more money than he would. Somehow, he felt under-valued. Is that the case?

The Dallas Cowboys have rewarded Scandrick. It started off in 2011 when Scandrick, our third corner back at the time, just played the slot. They saw something in him. They saw his value. They ended up rewarding him for something that he had not yet earned. Cowboys gave Scandrick a 5 year, 15 million dollar extension. This deal consisted of 10 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of 3 million dollars.

Scandrick later overcame competition and supplanted himself as the Cowboys best corner. He made good on their gamble. Yet, the Cowboys rewarded him again. In 2013 he received a two-year, six million dollar extension. That same year, his contract was restructured to give him 3.75 million dollars. One of the things about a restructure is that it pushes money up into your contract. What you were going to make later is changed. This is why he was only going to make 1.5 million dollars.

Have the Cowboys mindsight changed? No. They have believed in Scandrick. They continue to do so. No one complains when you get more of a good thing. Scandrick agreed to all these terms. A person shouldn’t be so quick to see what you presently do not have, that you don’t see the benefits you have already received.

Scandrick entered a minor holdouIt, letting Cowboys management know that he was unhappy. Cowboys requested that he join the club and that they would look into his contract. Orlando Scandrick reported back to the facilities and now has been rewarded again. Another year was added to his contract. Not only will he be guaranteed 4 million dollars, but a total of 9.5 million dollars have been added to his contract over the next five years.

For certain reasons, the Cowboys gave in to Scandrick. The depth at Corner is lacking. You have an average corner in Brandon Carr, a rookie in Byron Jones, Morris Claiborne is still recovering from knee surgeries, and the competition will soon start for your fifth corner spot. Getting a quality, free agent corner, worthy of starting isn’t cheap. Then look to the afore-mentioned Brandon Carr. It isn’t a sure thing either. The Cowboys would rather give him an extra $2 million here or there than to have him sit out. They would rather him be here, happy, as a leader of this defense.

The Cowboys are building something here. They believe that these are the “Days of Gold” for the Romo and Witten Era. The key to this team reaching expectations lie with this defense.

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Prime Position Battles: Defense


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The Dallas Cowboys defense showed improvements last year. This was a pleasant surprise. Rod Marineli deserves his fair share of credit, but the players took on this challenge and answered the call. New Defensive Coordinator, replacing your top two pass rushers, and not signing any big time free agent to bolster up the pass rush. This defense went from historically bad, and ranked last in 2013 to a ranking of 19th in 2014. This defense knows that is has the potential to be even better this year. With Organized Team Activities starting May 26, the work needed to accomplish that goal starts now.

As if overnight, the Cowboys have rebuilt this Defensive line. No more Anthony Spencer, George Selvie, and as of now, no Josh Brent. In the Cowboys mind, no problem. So pencil in Mincey and Lawrence at ends to start. Nick Hayden and Crawford in the middle. What is every bit of important, is having a solid rotation to keep these guys fresh without losing production. Depth isn’t an issue. The 2015 draft brought in Randy Gregory and Ryan Russell. Ben Gardner, Ken Bishop, Kenneth Boatright, and Devon Coleman look to impress and show why they deserve to be in this rotation. Chris Whaley and Jack Crawford are coming back healthy. Whaley sat out last year and has already caught the eye of the coaching staff and personnel. Crawford got the chance to play last year, but suffered a broken thumb and was put on Injured Reserve. Crawford has versatility and he knows what coaches expect from him.

What we know is that the Kraken, Greg Hardy will have to miss time due to a suspension that he is seeking to get reduced. DeMarcus Lawrence finished the year on a high note. The best defensive end last year was Jeremy Mincey. Rookies Gregory and Russell are excited to showcase their athleticism.

Injuries were a major concern even before the season started. The Sean Lee  injury was the most crippling blow to this team, but they managed to salvage enough talent to keep afloat. Anthony Hitchens proved to be a play maker in his rookie season. He stepped in and played valuable time and all three linebacker positions. With Bruce Carter and Justin Durant now gone via free agency, new Cowboys will look to earn their keep and contribute to the team. Not only that, but the depth we build just might come in handy. Veteran Free agent acquisitions Jasper Brinkley and Andrew Gachkar would logically have the upper hand against rookies Damien Wilson and Mark Nzeocha. Brinkley is a great run stopper and Gachkar shows strong fundamentals. Experience versus athleticism. Gachkar has been solid on special teams. To make this team, the rookies will have to prove that they can be an asset in the coverage game. Kyle Wilber, who was brought in for the 3-4, had some nice plays last year. His development will be key to what role he has this year. A player with the most to prove is Cameron Lawrence. The four-year player has only been a special teams contributor. It is obvious that the team is looking to get more athletic at each LB position.

The secondary is undeniably the Cowboys biggest room for improvement. I am not sold on either safety spot moving forward. J.J. Wilcox showed flashed of being a solid player. Naturally, he is still learning.  Trusting  film sessions and letting the game come to him will make him a better player. Barry Church is still giving up entirely too many big plays. In this defense, the Safety can not afford to lose ground. He is going to be in coverage, and last year, he proved to be a liability.  The Cowboys roster doesn’t offer much help. Jeff Heath has been the back up for the squad. Nothing special can be said of his play. CJ Spillman is versatile, but not really good at anything except special teams. He will never be more than what he is. The undrafted rookies that were signed have a solid skill set. Tim Scott sees the field well and closes on the ball quickly while Ray Vinopal plays with a chip on his shoulder. They will get their chances to showcase their talents come training camp.

Your starting Cornerbacks might have contract concerns, but they are the best you have. Byron Jones will get his chance to play Corner, and he may be one of the best coverage guys on this team. Morris Claiborne is still recovering from knee surgeries. If all goes well, he might be ready by training camp.  Tyler Patmon will try to earn snaps like he did last year, and newcomers Jason Wilson, udfa from Central Michigan, and Corey White, free agent who played for the Saints last season will also compete for that fourth corner spot. White is believed to have the skills needed to work out of the slot. A slot receiver has more route combinations and field to work with. Defending the slot has become a huge priority for Defenses. Lately, Cowboys have put Scandrick, their best corner there. If White can produce, this frees up Scandrick to match up elsewhere.

The Dallas Cowboys have done a great job of bringing in the best talent possible. While their offense is still explosive, they understand that creating stops and turnovers is crucial in determining the winner of a game. The Cowboys will have to be tough, physical and mentally prepared. The competition that we see in camp will set the foundation for the entire season.

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Position Battles on Offense


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Organized team activities has not even started yet and people already coming out with their 53 man rosters. admittedly this can be fun and excitement of the Cowboys is officially back. We just witnessed the rookies getting their first taste of the NFL and go through practices and film/ training sessions with the coaching staff. There is not a Cowboys fan anywhere that is not in anticipation of September 13th, the Cowboys first regular season game. wow this is understandable, we still have a ton of work to do. For starters, the inside competition will start first. In what ways? Position battles.

The main competition will be who will get the majority of the snaps at running back. Will it be Joseph Randle, Ryan Williams or Darren McFadden? At the current time, Cowboys are electing to keep the competition in-house. Has Ryan Williams improved his pass protection over the last year? Many are high on Williams because of the player he was coming out of Virginia Tech. He has the talent needed to be a featured running back but health has derailed his career. Williams has not played a game since week 5 of the 2012 NFL season. Is this the year he gets on track and run away with the job of Cowboys main threat? Some point to the contract details and signing bonuses between Williams and McFadden as an indicator to who has the upper hand. All that says is that Williams has the better agent. The rest will be handled on the field.

The position battle at left guard is sure to be a nice one. The Cowboys already had, with little debate, the best offensive line in the NFL. It only got stronger through the draft process. La’el Collins went undrafted due to a murder investigation that he wasn’t involved in. This Top 15 Talent decided to come to Dallas to be a part of something legendary. Now his task is to supersede the last player that the Cowboys signed undrafted at guard, Ronald Leary. Leary has shown heart and character battling veterans like Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernardeau and his own injuries. He earned his spot and has had a huge role in the success of this team.

The Cowboys also drafted tackles Chaz Green and Laurence Gibson. Green could very well be the heir apparent at RT. He needs to improve his strength, but has the skill set and athleticism to be a solid starter in this league. He is also versatile which comes in handy when picking which lineman can contribute to your team. Gibson is the player that worked out for Mark Columbo, offensive line assistant and former Cowboy. Even after taking a tackle early in draft, the impression Gibson left on the staff merited a selection. Players like Ryan Miller, Darion Weems and John Wetzel will need to continue to improve, both physically and mentally or they could be left behind.

Tyler Clutts was released so the Cowboys need to find another Fullback. The two that they have on their roster now are Ray Agnew and Jed Collins. Agnew is a strong down hill blocker while Collins is the more dimensional zone blocker. He can block from the I- formation or the off set. Having a solid lead blocker is important to a running game. They must act with power and precision. They need to quickly identify their assigned man and work in unison with the line and the runner to accomplish  goal of a successful play call. Expectations for the fullback is not just run block but to perform effectively on passing downs as well, be it staying in to protect Romo or running a route for a short gain. Whoever can have the most impact on this team as a football player will get the job.

The Cowboys spent not just one draft pick, but one next year as well to grab Geoff Swain, Tight End from the University of Texas. This is yet another example of where the Cowboys are thinking smart. Two things they know for certain. Jason Witten isn’t getting younger and James Hanna is in his contract year. Has he proved that he can be the player that the Cowboys need? If not, the Cowboys will not think twice about letting him in go. If this is the case, I am sure he will go on to bigger things like former backups Anthony Fasano and Martellus Bennett.  What about Gavin Escobar? He is a great target and a huge receiving threat (9 catches, 105 yards and 4 Touchdowns), but are the Cowboys using him enough? Is his lack of blocking ability hurting his opportunity? He is one of the players that I want to see more of. Rookie Ray Hamilton will also be in camp trying to earn a spot on this team.

Not to be lost in the shuffle is the replacing of Dwayne Harris. Harris left via free agency to the New York Giants. He was more than just our fourth receiver. He was a gunner on the return team and returned both kicks and punts. He was a versatile player that will be missed. He didn’t have that many touches at receiver, especially with Dez Bryant, Terrence Williams and Cole Beasely ahead of him, but the team trusted him if his number was called. A handful of undrafted rookies and a few second year guys will be looking to step up. Devin Street doesn’t offer too much from a special teams perspective, but he runs great routes and has solid hands. He didn’t get to see much action, but was on the active roster each game. Chris Boyd will be looking to make the transition from practice squad to the 53 man roster. Boyd is a big receiver. With improved route running, he could be a dangerous weapon. Rookies like Antwan Goodley, Ronald Lucky Whitehead, George Farmer and Deontay Greenbury will try to earn their keep by winning the return job. Farmer is a physical and athletically gifted wideout. Goodley played at Baylor University and can be a solid weapon. Lucky might have the advantage in the return game, but he will have to show he can compete on a far greater level then what he was accustomed to. This will be the fastest way to make the team. During all drills, they will need to maintain their focus and rise to the occasion. They are competing against other players for the position they play and opposing corners trying to earn a spot as well.

The health of Tony Romo is a huge concern. The hopes of a franchise lay with his arm and on his surgically repaired back. He has stated that he is feeling as good as he has felt in years. Just thinking about this offensive line must do wonders to his mental health, but we know that it only takes one hit to change the outlook. So with that in mind, the back up quarterback position will be one of emphasis. Dustin Vaughn or Brandon Weeden? Weeden failed to capitalize on all the preparation he received filling in for an injured Romo. He had the majority of reps in training, and then the starters reps each Wednesday. Given the opportunity to reveal his grasp of this offense and confidently lead this team to a victory, he failed. Weeden threw for 183 yards, 1 TD, with 2 interceptions and a passer rating of 55.5 on the way to a 28-17 loss. The most prepared backup in the league couldn’t get the job done. Dustin Vaughn will get his chance this year. Vaughn made the roster and spent every game learning and soaking up any information that would help him become a better player. He saw the good decisions and bad decisions and got schooled on how to handle certain situations. Learning from the sideline is a helpful thing, but come OTAs and Training Camp, he will be tested to see if he can become a player the Cowboys can count on in the worst case scenario. He has all the tools that you need: strong arm, accurate, poised, ample mobility and toughness. This battle means more to Vaughn as he is trying to show the Cowboys that he can be the guy once Romo hangs up his holsters.

OTAs begin May 26. The coaches can finally get to see the picture they have been working on since that loss in Green Bay. Cowboy fans are ready. After a long off-season, the Cowboys should be ready as well.

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Cowboys Not Waiting On Purple Jesus


Adrian Peterson is a great talent, But Cowboys believe that they can be productive without a premier running back.

 

The Dallas Cowboys are making headlines again. Thoughts of making a trade involving their first round pick next year are the topic of discussion. No one mentioned Adrian Peterson, but that was what the media jumped to conclusion to and what many will have you believe. No one mentioned that the Vikings are not interested in trading Adrian Peterson for one pick. No one mentioned that the Cowboys said that they would consider it, as it being an option not the plan.

Adrian Peterson is a phenomenal football player, an All-world talent. He has been something special since his days in Palestine, Texas where his legend begun. Stories where he was on defense, he would beat his man, crush the quarterback so hard that they caused a fumble and would take the ball 60 or 70 yards the other way for a touchdown. With in 20 yards of him taking off, players just stopped chasing him. His father saw it in him early, hence the nickname “All Day.”

In college, he was an instant star the moment he stepped onto the field in Norman, Oklahoma. His freshmen year, Peterson carried the ball 339 times rushing for 1925 yards and 15 touchdowns. Injuries might have derailed the future All-American and Heisman Finalist, but he never rushed for less than 1,000 yards in either of his three seasons at Oklahoma. He was fast, quick, powerful and unstoppable. The scary thing is, he still is. The six-time pro bowler and three-time All-Pro will most likely finish top five in rushing yards once he hangs up his jersey. Peterson is greatness.  But greatness has its price.

In the next three seasons, Peterson is slotted to make $44.25 million dollars. The 30-year-old running back is halfway through a six year deal that was worth $86.28 million dollars with $36 million guaranteed. To keep his services in Minnesota, Peterson’s team is reportedly asking for another $25 million in guaranteed money over two or three years. Honestly ask yourself is this the financial flexibility that the Cowboys want? If the Cowboys really wanted to sign a premier running back, why not keep the one you had for more than half of what Peterson wants?

We rave about this offensive line. We talk about its potential to be dominant, to be great. Not just this year, but for a decade. That would be historic. To keep three or four pro bowl caliber type of players will take financial flexibility. Tony Romo will need this line to help prevent further injury to himself and prolong his career. Hopefully, the Cowboys can find a suitable replacement with Romo still on roster. You don’t want history to repeat itself and be wandering around the NFL without a QB.  Need I remind you, the post Troy Aikman years saw a win percentage of 41% and one playoff berth.  Until then, a healthy Romo is our best shot at winning a Super bowl.

Consider also the fact that when running backs can be found anywhere, many want to over pay and mortgage a part of their future when a capable running back can suffice.

A capable running back is currently on the Cowboys roster. In a sample size of touches, Joseph Randle produced for this team last year. Randle had 51 carries for 343 yards. That is an average of 6.7 yards a carry. He has earned his chance. The notion that he can’t be the work horse since he haven’t been is insane. I suppose that Aaron Rodgers couldn’t lead the Packers since Brett Farve was doing it previously. A super bowl and MVP later, and he is one of the greatest quarterbacks of this generation. The Cowboys had a good running back. He is no longer here. Next man up. Give Randle a shot. Have we forgot that he produced in college for Oklahoma State? Take his 2011 and 2012 seasons. Randle rushed for 2,633 yards and had 38 touchdowns. He has been a productive starter before. Randle has made some mistakes off the field (drugs, violence and theft). He has acknowledged them and is currently moving forward. Let us not be hindered by our mistakes but brought back on track by them. Let us learn and grow from them to be better people.

Darren McFadden was also brought in. Will he replace the production of Murray? No. But he can contribute. He can add to the running game and provide something that we haven’t seen lately. Run DMc still has some speed a burst about him. Again, he will be playing behind a great offensive line. Where cracks become alleys and alleys become highways. Why not let a guy with his pedigree be unloaded against opposing teams? Let him get loose around the edge and see what happens. Trust what you have built. Before you go grocery shopping, check your pantry to see what you have. You could very well have enough for a feast.

No one saw DeMarco Murray having the success he had last year. The change came when the Cowboys made a commitment to the running game. Not the runner, the running game. They knew that a balanced attack is the most dangerous strategy on offense. This won’t change. The next running back or group of running backs will inherit this line and get every chance to produce at a high level, either separately or collectively. The opportunity is there. Now is their time to run with it.

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Zone Blocking: The Anti-McFadden


Originally posted on The Rookie Scouting Portfolio:

One of my early thoughts of McFadden at Arkansas was that he struggled with decision-making in non-angle blocking (zone) situations. Contributor Nathan Miller shows where McFadden and most of all, his offensive line, is struggling to pick up the zone blocking scheme coach Dennis Allen brought to Oakland. Photo by TipsterHog.

By Nathan Miller

Another season, another less than electric year for Darren McFadden. But this time it isn’t due to a lingering injury suffered on the field, in practice, or doing it Gangnam style across his imported mahogany floors. The culprit this time is a change in the Raiders offense to a zone blocking scheme during the offseason. Past history lulled us into thinking the change wouldn’t be a problem, but it is rearing its ugly head once the real games were underway.

Newly anointed head coach Dennis Allen installed Oakland’s new zone blocking scheme. The switch carries along…

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Cowboys Land La’el Collins


La'el Collins was a Top 15 Draft prospect that went undrafted due to a murder investigation that he wasn't involved in. The newest Dallas Cowboy will get to flex his muscle on the rest of the NFL.

La’el Collins was a Top 15 Draft prospect that went undrafted due to a murder investigation that he wasn’t involved in. The newest Dallas Cowboy will get to flex his muscle on the rest of the NFL.

Dallas Cowboys coach, Jason Garrett preaches getting players that are “Right Kind of Guys.” Through the most tumultuous adversity La’el Collins have encountered, he has proven that he is a RKG. Collins was slotted to go in the first round of the NFL Draft last Thursday. Some had him going within the top 15 selections.

Collins is 6 feet four inches tall. He weighs 304 pounds. He played both Tackle and Guard on the left side of the LSU Tigers offensive line. Collins started in 38 games (25 at Tackle and 13 at Guard). His versatility and experience is just the beginning of why he is a phenomenal football player. Collins is a tough and physical player, both mentally and physically. He plays with aggression and power. He is a  mauler. He possesses quick feet and is strong in both his upper and lower body. He has the total package and is a pro bowl caliber type of player.

This dream of his, being selected and signing a lucrative contract, did not come to fruition due to a murder investigation. As a result, Collins went undrafted. The NFL had previously denied his request to be removed from draft or be entered into the supplemental draft.

The only way he could go into next years draft would be to get drafted by a team and refuse to sign the contract, holding out the entire year. This was an option, but La’el knew he wanted to play football this year. La’el Collins had already missed out on millions of dollars. What he was afforded to do in becoming an undrafted free agent was to have the option to pick what team you will play for from your contract offers. La’el had 29 teams that were on record trying to receive his talents. Collins and his agents evaluated each team, trying to find the best fit. What happens next was a Godsend for Collins.

He received a call. From who? Cowboys owner and general manager, Jerry Jones. The two talked for hours, about the interest of Collins being a Cowboy, the investigation and the person La’el was. Jones got to know who he was as a person and from what background this young man came from. After the conversation, La’el felt like he was being guided by God. He immediately called Jerry Jones back and requested a meeting with him. Collins met with not only Jerry Jones, but players like Tyron Smith and Tony Romo who he had looked up to. He knew that Dallas was the place for him, not only to play football, but to become a better man and have a chance to make history. He felt that Jerry Jones and this organization believes and trusts in him and can push him to be greater than he ever thought. “If you want to be great” Collins said, “surround yourself with great people.” Iron sharpens iron.

Instead of going to a team with less competition for a starting job, he wanted to contribute and be a part of something special. “What’s greater than being a Cowboy?” Collins asked. Collins chose to be here with his future in mind. To build, to grow and become his best. To win Championships. To make History. He feels like, with the right amount of dedication, chemistry and hard work, this offensive line can be the best ever.

Collins is motivated. His mother likened it to being hit in the face with a vicious blow. Now this 305 pound man is set to unleash on everyone, the teams that passed on him, and they will now have to “face” him. Regarding the money, Collins stated that he “Never played the game for Money.” Football is a passion of his. While he does think about the money he initially lost, he understands that if he and this team plays to a level he knows it can, the money will take care of itself.

Not too many press conferences are scheduled because of an undrafted free agent. Collins case is different. One can’t help but come away impressed by this young man. His pride, passion and commitment to being great. I have a feeling that there won’t be too much standing in his way. That the adversity that La’el went through will be added motivation to becoming great. After all, even through this investigation Collins has shown he can stand tall. The process to greatness has begun.

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Cool Points on Randy Gregory


Randy Gregory, a Top 10 NFL prospect, is still available day 2 of NFL Draft.

Randy Gregory, a Top 10 NFL prospect, is still available day 2 of NFL Draft.

Talent is undeniable. He has all the measurements. He has a solid frame.  His arms are long and strong. He stands 6’6 feet tall and weighs 245 pounds. A quarterbacks worst nightmare who will also effect the running game. He is a can’t miss prospect, but character is a concern. The “He” is Randy Gregory.

In just two seasons at Nebraska, Gregory racked up 120 tackles from his Defensive End position. 25.5 of those were tackles for loss. He catapulted into Top 10 in Nebraska history for sacks with 17.5. Gregory also came away with four turnovers. This is the type of production the NFL looks for. What they also look for is players who smoke marijuana. When they find them, they are suspended and put into Programs to help prevent you from smoking. If this fails, you will suffer the fate of a player like Dion Jordan.

Dion Jordan was a Defensive end from Oregon that was drafted by the Miami Dolphins. Like Gregory, Jordan had his problems with using illegal substances. Multiple suspensions later and Dion Jordan is now on a year long suspension. This suspension prevented him from being traded to his former coach, Chip Kelly and have a chance to capitalize on his talent. That pick from 2013 is essentially a waste. Teams did not want to make that mistake with Randy Gregory.

Marijuana is prohibited from the NFL. Personally I believe that this is not the main problem. As you are preparing for the biggest interview and workout of your life, you reveal to your future employers that you are not prepared or committed. How so? Once you declare for the draft, you start to get ready. You should mentally be ready as well as physically. Besides, the NFL is a mental game as well. You tell GMs and scouts that you can stop smoking weed to focus on your potential career and the chance to make millions playing your favorite game. Where is your discipline? Mentally this makes you weak.

This raises red flags to teams. Now they have to go and reevaluate you, both as a football player and a man. Can they invest in you? Can they trust you? Is this a glitch or glimpse? A glitch is a small problem. A kink that can be worked out. This is something that is abnormal to the person you are. However, a glimpse is a look into your life that reveals who you really are. A small glance at what you like to do. NFL teams must have thought that this failed drug test was a glimpse of the man that Randy Gregory is.

For him, this is unfortunate. Gregory will get drafted. Whatever team that picks him might end up with a Warren Sapp. A player that saw his draft stock plummet from the potential number one pick in the 1995 Draft. He made the Buccaneers look smart. He is possibly the best defender to ever play for them and a Hall of Famer.

Gregory will have to accept his fate and stay committed to staying away from what has cost him so much. Take the Warren Sapp and Randy Moss approach and make every team that passed on you regret it. Because at the end of the day, you still have your opportunity. The chance to play in the NFL. To be a star and make a name for yourself. This was just a chapter in your life. Not the entire book. May you write your next chapters with hard work and dedication. Only then will you have a shot at making your dreams come true.

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Pre-Draft look at the NFC East


Prior to the NFL draft on April 30th, what does the NFL East look like?

The NFC East, made up of the Dallas Cowboys, the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins, is one of the most competitive divisions in all of football. It seems that each year, the division champ is still being figured out late into the last weeks of the season, if not the last game. Last year, The Dallas Cowboys won the division (for the 22nd time) and posted a 12-4 record after going 8-8 the previous three seasons. Who will win it this year? There has not been a team to repeat as Champion since the Eagles won it four times in a row from 2001 to 2004. Can the Cowboys pull it off? Will the Chip Kelly experiment prove to be a success? Can RGIII and Jay Gruden right the ship that is Washington? Can Eli Manning lead the Giants to a division crown and regain his playoff magic? These are all important questions.

The Cowboys lost DeMarco Murray, the 2014 NFL leading rusher. Replacing him, or at least getting his production is the number one question mark for this team. They have players who have showcased their talent, but can they provide the punch and demand the respect from opposing defenses as DeMarco did? Joseph Randle averaged 6.7 yards a carry as a back up, but can the Cowboys trust him? Darren McFadden was brought in, but can he stay healthy? His explosiveness and running ability can prove effective behind their offensive line. McFadden played 16 games for the first time in his career last year. While the Cowboys lost two-thirds of their starting linebackers, they look to have Sean Lee back. They are still not sure how many games Greg Hardy will play for, but their pass rush should be improved. The biggest opportunity for them on Defense is in the Secondary. Can Barry Church and JJ Wilcox improve and who will step up at Corner to help Scandrick out? Last year had question marks as well, but the Cowboys found answers. If they can do the same this year, the Division just might be theirs.

Every four years or so, the Giants get on a roll and steam roll into the playoffs and the Super bowl. Can’t count them out. They always have a chance. Odell Beckham Jr had his coming out party and he doesn’t look like he wants to slow down. To maximize on this talent, the Giants need to keep Eli Manning standing strong in the pocket and improve their running game. Defensively, I believe that their LB play needs to get stronger. If these things can happen, the Giants will have their say in who takes this division.

The Eagles on paper have not gotten better, yet. Yes. Kiko Alonso might be a stud, but they lost playmakers on both sides of the ball. Murray will do a good job up there if they don’t get too cute. Similar to him here, he has to be featured. Don’t see that happening. Sproles is electric. In the backfield and in the slot. Sproles is one of the finest weapons in the league. Throw in Matthews who is making a lot of money to be the third running back, and touches could be limited. Bradford isn’t an upgrade. But can Chip work his magic with him?  And health is a major concern for almost every FA they picked up. Their chances at winning increases the longer they stay on the field.

The fate of the Redskins lie at the feet of RG3. Can he stay healthy? Can he improve his recognition and feel for the pocket? They have their uncertainties on both sides of ball, but give Jay Gruden time to sort it out.  Their Corners should be better with another year under their belt. Their biggest concern is finding pass rush from someone else besides Kerrigan.  He can’t be the only force. Jason Hatcher was injured last year, but if he can regain his 2013 form, their Defense could see a tremendous improvement.

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Cowboys Sign Player From London League


Efe Obada played just five games for the London Warriors. He has his work cut out for him if he is to succeed in the NFL.

Efe Obada (number 10) played just five games for the London Warriors. He has his work cut out for him if he is to succeed in the NFL.

The NFL draft is set to begin on April 30, 2015. Former Collegiate Defensive Ends like Randy Gregory, Alvin “Bud” Dupree and Shane Ray are anxiously awaiting to hear their named call. To see their dream fulfilled. Some would envy them. Others would envy Efe Obada. Obada works at a warehouse in London. At least he did. Obada is now a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

Obada plays for an American Style football team called the London Warriors. He has only played in five games. Contrary to the aforementioned draftees, Obada has not been playing the sport long. The Cowboys are hoping that it doesn’t matter.

On tape, Efe needs to be taught how to effectively use his hands and how to improve his footwork. There is some things he need to learn about counter balance and bending. These are things that can be resolved and honed during practice, coaching and training. The things that can’t be taught is natural ability. Coach Adrian Eaglin, an offensive line coach for Denton Ryan, told me long ago when asking about why a certain player would get noticed by college teams. “I can make you the best lineman in the State. I can’t make you 6’6.” That one statement was all it took for me to understand how important being a gifted athlete is.

Efe Obada is that gifted athlete. He stands 6 foot 6 inches tall. He weighs 260 pounds and has a wingspan of 84 inches. He has been clocked in the forty yard dash in the 4.7 range.  Efe can close on the ball and showcases good awareness and coordination. He is a physical specimen. The Cowboys are hoping to turn Obada from an athlete with RAW talent into an NFL defensive end. Can it be done? Assistant Scouting Director Will McClay has found talent to be on the roster before, but never this far. There has to be something special that the scouts saw in him for him to garner not just a look, but a three-year deal.  Obada has his work cut out for him. The mental preparation alone is staggering. Can he pickup schemes, assignments, and learn all the techniques needed to be successful? We don’t know, but for right now he is living a dream.

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Cowboys Shift Roster, Not Focus


Soldiers were lost but the fight is still going. Dez Bryant, Jason Written and Tony Romo will not settle for anything less than a Super Bowl run.

You walk in to your local convenient store and purchase something to drink. You see a can soda for 79¢, a 20 oz soda for $1.29 and a 2 liter bottle for a little less but it’s not cold. You decide on the 2 liter. The price of the beverage is 99¢. You reach into your pocket and pull out a one dollar bill.  You hand it to them and tell the cahier that they can keep the change. Why? You place little to no value on that penny. But say if you paid with a one hundred-dollar bill, then you would take your change. Maybe even count it again in the car to make sure you know what you got.  And while you sacrificed a cold drink, you benefited in other areas.

The Cowboys placed little value on their linebackers corps. While they played well while here, the market price for their services proved to be not in line with the Cowboy front office. The smarts of Durant, the play-making ability of Carter, and the presence of McClain will be missed. Speaking of missed, last year these players missed a combined 16 games of football. You can’t register stats on the sideline. The two linebackers that they signed, Jasper Brinkley and Andrew Gackhar, have missed one game since 2011. Cowboys also signed Keith Rivers.

George Selvie, Henry Melton and Anthony Spencer were members of the defensive line. The Cowboys needed pass rushers who could get to the quarterback and create pressure. Melton was coming on late in the season, but the Cowboys did not see enough to either sign his option or offer him a deal. And for Selvie and Spencer, perhaps it was time for a new scenery. Cowboys think they have seen the best at what they were and chose to look other places for help on the defensive line. The first addition to the line was Greg Hardy. He is one of the most dominant forces in the NFL. The Cowboys believe he can be a double-digit sack and have a huge impact on this team.

Sterling Moore was a solid number four corner that sometimes had the expectations of a number two corner. Teams tried to pick on him but for the most part, he held his own. As a free agent, Moore wanted to be paid. It only made sense. He played more, at a good level, so he should be paid more. The NFL is a business, after all. Cowboys just didn’t think he was worth what he wanted. Cowboys signed Corey White with the hopes of being Moore’s replacement. They believe he can also handle playing in the slot. This would allow for Orlando Scandrick to play on the other teams best wide out which would be a better matchup for the Cowboys and they may get more reward out of Scandrick’s contract.

The Cowboys also parted ways with most of their offensive free agents. They had to choose between resigning Doug Free or Jeremy Parnell at Right Tackle. The better player was Free, though Parnell was younger and more athletic. They chose Free.

Dwayne Harris contributed little on offense (only 116 yards), but was a special teams stand out. He became the Cowboys best tackler and was their return man.  In 2013, Harris averaged over 30 yards a kick return and almost 13 yards a punt return. Last year, however, Harris’s numbers dropped an average of six yards on kick returns and four yards on punt returns. With players like James Hanna, Jeff Heath and Cameron Lawrence among leaders in tackles on special teams, they will be asked to pick up the slack. From a return standpoint, the decision as to who they put back there is a mystery. The Cowboys could try Joseph Randle, Cole Beasely, Lance Dunbar, a draft pick or an undrafted free agent.

The biggest free agent to leave via free agency was DeMarco Murray. Murray was accountable for  2,261 yards of offense. Those air and ground stats will be missed. The Cowboys were waiting for Murray to bring them an offer. They didn’t think it was going to be from Philadelphia. The Eagles provided Murray with what he wanted. A nice contract with the right amount of money guaranteed and a chance to prove Cowboys front office wrong. They Cowboys seemed fine with at. The next day they sign Darren McFadden to a deal. McFadden will get his chance to show what he can do behind a solid offensive line. His best years in Oakland was in 2010-11 when the Raiders  line had an 18th run block ranking. What will he do now with arguably the best line in Football? Injuries were a concern with Murray. The same can be said for McFadden who sometimes looks as if he skips leg day. He has had 12 injuries to his legs since entering the NFL. This will be something the cowboys will have to monitor. What they see in taking a shot on McFadden is a back with good vision, a willingness to block, cutting ability and speed. If he holds up, he could run well behind this Great Wall of Dallas 2.0 and help this offense succeed.

The Cowboys were just a call away from advancing to the NFC championship game. They were almost there. They felt like they were ribbed of their chance at NFL While last season was nothing to sneeze at, going 12-4 and breaking the 8-8 cycle, they know that this team is capable of more. They also know that time is of the essence. Cowboy lifers such as Tony Romo, Jason Witten, and L.P. Ladouceur want to win a Championship. Who knows how much longer they will play. Romo was recently on TV talking about how little of time he has left. The proverbial window is closing. While they are all still solid players in this game, all  three made the pro-bowl last year, they don’t want to leave anything on the table. You give your all to this game and many just want one thing: a Super Bowl ring.   That is their focus.

The amazing year Dez had, leading the league in touchdowns, doesn’t matter. He wants to win a championship. The addition of Greg Hardy did not ease that train of thought for these guys. With young studs on Defense like Lawrence, Hitchens, and now Greg Hardy, this might be a great opportunity for Cowboys. Biggest problem in their way? Finding another Corner, improved play of entire secondary and having success running the ball with out DeMarco Murray.

The Cowboys will add this new group of free agents and the players selected from the draft to their team.  April 20 is when OTAs begin. The annual NFL draft will take place in Chicago and will be held on April 30.

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