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Enemy intel: Cowboys’ Jones ignores players’ baggage

Jul 8, 2016, 12:56 PM EDT


A look around what’s going on around the NFC East.

With DE’s DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory and LB Rolando McClain all suspended for the start of the season, Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated thinks that the Cowboys’ defensive MVP might be coordinator Rod Marinelli.

But not to be overlooked in that division-winning effort—and it wasn’t by those paying attention—was the work Marinelli’s defensive unit put in. Without any obvious stars, Dallas’s defense finished in the top half of the league in points allowed, holding every single opponent under 30 points and half of their foes to 20 or less. It was some of Marinelli’s finest work.

He made lemons out of lemonade last season, too, giving the Cowboys a chance to win most weeks despite the utter calamity that occurred when Romo was sidelined.

If the ‘16 season is to be a bounceback year for the ’Boys, Marinelli will have to pull a rabbit from his hat again. On Thursday, the NFL announced that starting linebacker Rolando McClain would have to sit out the first 10 games of the season for another violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy. He will join previously punished edge defenders Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence (four games each) on the sideline. Those are three significant losses for a team already shy on proven depth in the front seven.

Tandler: Marinelli did get the most out of the Cowboys defense the last couple of years. But production is more about Larry and Joes than X’s and O’s. I’m not so sure the Dallas defense will survive without the three suspended players.

Longtime Dallas writer Rick Gosselin takes Jerry Jones to task for relying on the likes of Lawrence, McClain, and Gregory—all of whom has major red flags when the Cowboys acquired them—to get the job done.

The Cowboys employ scouts.

Maybe they should start hiring porters. In addition to paying scouts to find the players, the Cowboys need porters to carry all their baggage into that sparkling new practice facility in Frisco.

That’s been one of the shortcomings of Jerry Jones in his capacity as general manager and personnel guru of the Cowboys. He’s always been a sucker for a bargain. His personnel decisions are based exclusively on on-the-field ability rather than any potential off-the-field headaches. If you have talent, Jones will ignore your baggage.

. . .

The most important part of ability is availability. At some point, a franchise must realize that these players are chances that aren’t worth taking.

Now the Cowboys are in a bind. Defense was a problem on this team a year ago. The Cowboys ranked last in takeaways with an NFL-record-tying low of 11 and 25th in sacks on the way to a 4-12 collapse.

Tandler: Don’t ever fire yourself, Jerry. It’s just too much fun.

Eagles GM Howie Roseman said recently that the team has made its biggest mistakes by giving big money to free agents that weren’t their own. I guess they couldn’t figure this out by looking at their own 2011 “dream team” experience or by looking at the history of their division rivals just down I-95.

“When you look at it, some of the mistakes we’ve made have been going out and spending a lot of money,” Roseman said. “A lot of those mistakes were on guys that aren’t our own. They were guys that we’ve brought from another organization, and we thought we knew.”

The failed contracts that were extended to DeMarco Murray and Byron Maxwell instantly come to mind when considering recent free agent activity. Rather than continue to go down the same path, the Eagles have focused on keeping a core group of players in the fold and complementing them with additional players.

“We went and looked at our plan for our roster over the next couple of years and said we will never let Fletcher Cox leave the building,” Roseman said. “We will never let Lane [Johnson] leave the building, we will never let Zach [Ertz]…if we do it now, we do it a little early and maybe save on those guys and add to the team, keep as many guys around as possible. We have this core, and we can build off of that.”

Tandler: I like the moves the Eagles made in locking up Cox, Johnson, Ertz, and a few others. I’m still dubious about their quarterback situation and if Carson Wentz isn’t very good they will have issues winning consistently. But locking up their own is almost always the right move and none of the contracts seemed to be out of line.

When the Ravens released offensive tackle Eugene Monroe many figured it was just a matter of time before he signed with the Giants, who have been rebuilding their line over the past few years. But Monroe is still a free agent and here’s why:

The Giants still have interest in former Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe after an offseason where they tried to find a potential replacement for right tackle Marshall Newhouse, but came up empty. The problem is similar to what they ran into with Russell Okung, Donald Penn and even current Jet Ryan Clady.

Monroe would prefer to play left tackle. The Giants aren’t willing to offer that position. They’re strongly intent on keeping last year’s first-round pick Ereck Flowers on the left side. The question now is whether Monroe can get an offer elsewhere to play somewhere on the left side. If so, he’s not a Giants option.

Monroe’s currently assessing his options, while the Giants wait on a decision. They’re not about to break the bank for a 29-year-old tackle who has struggled with injuries in recent years.

Tandler: I’m not sure if Monroe is going to be able to find a left tackle job that he’ll be able to walk in to in July; most teams make a top priority of filling those job. His options are to wait and see if a left tackle gets injured in training camp or accept a right tackle job with a team like the Giants.

  1. bangkokben - Jul 8, 2016 at 2:39 PM

    Great work.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 8, 2016 at 2:48 PM

      Yeah I have to agree Rich. This is some of the more interesting stuff written about our team and the division lately.

  2. Trey Gregory - Jul 8, 2016 at 2:47 PM

    It’s a little disheartening that Eagles are trying to do things right. Chip Kelly was a blessing to the division. But stronger competition should make us better. I also agree that quality QBs will determine the balance of power in the NFC East. If Wentz is a bust, Philly won’t be able to catch up. If Romo can’t stay healthy, Dallas’ defense is irrelevant. The Giants and Eli are the ones who really concern me. Eli should have a few good years left. But not if they don’t fix that line.

    Social scientists will probably study the Cowboys and Jones after it’s all said and done. To study the actions of a man who faces consequences if they fail compared to someone who can’t be fired. Real GMs make calculated risks because they’ll be fired if it doesn’t work out. Jones’ ego led to him firing one of the best NFL coaches around (Johnson) and it’s kept that team in the mud ever since. But he’s recently relenquished some power to his son, and he has more of a level head. The Cowboys have Jerry Jones and we have Dan Snyder. I’m not sure who has it worse if they decide to seize control again. But my gut says we do.

    • charmerci - Jul 8, 2016 at 4:50 PM

      ” But he’s recently relenquished some power to his son, and he has more of a level head. ”

      Ha, ha, ha! Good one!

      Fortunately, he seems to be as bad (read good! ;-) as his father.

      • Trey Gregory - Jul 8, 2016 at 5:06 PM

        No seriously. I’m not saying he’s a good talent evaluator or anything. But, if you listen to his interviews and see how he’s tried to influence his dad, you can tell he’s not his father. He allows the scouts and front office personnel to do their job. He helps gives them a vision for the franchise but listens to their expertise. There’s a reason Johnny Manziel isn’t a Dallas Cowboy and Zach Martin is. And it’s not Jerry Jones. Other than allowing his employees to take the reins.

        I’m not trying to say he’ll be a great owner or anything like that. Simply that he’s not nearly as egotistical as Jerry. Or, he’s better than Jerey.

        • charmerci - Jul 8, 2016 at 6:47 PM

          Well then, that’s bad news to hear!!!!

    • John - Jul 9, 2016 at 5:37 PM

      While I would say Jones was a good coach, I’d say that during that period, the Cowboys had overwhelming talent (Offensive Line with Stepnoski, Larry Allen, Nate Newton), Offensive Skill players with Aikman, Smith, Irvin, Harper and Novacek) and then on defense (Line – Casillas, Maryland, Jennings, Lett, Jeffcoat, Tolbert and Haley). During that time, they won 3 Super Bowls with 2 coaches, Johnson and Switzer. Tells you how good the talent was if you could win a championship with Switzer as coach.

      • Trey Gregory - Jul 9, 2016 at 7:56 PM

        There’s no denying the Cowboys has great talent during Johnson’s tenure (you accidentally said Jones). But they didn’t when he first arrived. Don’t forget he was a big reason they got that talent. He had a lot of personnel control. So much that he saw himself as more of the GM than Jerry. The reason Jerry fired Johnson is because Jerry told the media it was his idea to trade Hershal Walker (and to draft some of the subsequent players) and Johnson said that was a lie. So, Johnson deserves credit for getting and developing that talent. It’s not like they were all first round picks. He had the vision and made it happen. They were awful when he arrived.

        We completely agree on Switzer though. The guy is a dunce. It’s amazing he could get employed at McDonalds much less as a football coach.

  3. redskins12thman - Jul 8, 2016 at 4:00 PM

    How bout them Cowboys!

  4. oaklandred - Jul 8, 2016 at 6:48 PM

    Yes, the successful teams are just that – teams. And teams means positive relationships. Relationships mean being cooperative and being cooperative means having unity through common purpose.

    And it means, like the GS Warriors say, “strength in numbers,” where everyone contributes on the field and with their team spirit and contributes to a winning atmosphere. Show me a team with a depressing, losing atmosphere and I’ll show you a disappointment.

    It takes all together to create a winning atmosphere. A house divided cannot stand.

  5. sidepull - Jul 9, 2016 at 5:49 AM

    Much as I hate the Egirls, I think hiring Jim Schwartz is going to help that D.

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 9, 2016 at 3:35 PM

      I do too. Philly could be a lot better than some expect. But they could also be pretty bad with a new coach, system, and their QB situation. One thing I’m pretty certain of, they’ll have a good defense.

  6. Eli - Jul 9, 2016 at 7:45 AM

    Howie Roseman is a joke. Every smart Eagles fan I know believes that. Just because he’s beginning to do one right thing- extend a few core players to long-term deals doesn’t make him a good or smart GM.

    Roseman is an idiot and a little punk. He has zero scouting, playing or coaching
    background. Zero. Like Vinny (still doing morning radio for an obscure station in Baltimore) no other team will hire him as GM when the Eagles eventually Fire him. He’s considered a joke around the league, and people in Philadelphia believe that he’s either Lurie’s unacknowledged bastard son or Roseman has videos on Lurie.

    Roseman drafts poorly, makes stupid trades,
    handles the cap badly and is generally a jackass. Archives

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