Cowboys Huddle-Up: 10 FishTips

IRVING - DeMarco's running for office ... Romo's screaming at the wrong refs ... Mocking the mock drafts ... The Cowboys have 'locked in' on defense in the draft? A stupid concept - so it's a good thing it ain't true. Your 10 Cowboys FishTips!



Just in time for Valentines Day, I'm urging you to look into making special plans with Estilo Gaucho, one of DFW's finest steakhouses ... which brings you today's Cowboys Huddle-Up!

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FishTip 1

The Dallas Cowboys have, according to the local paper, "locked in on three defensive areas" for the upcoming draft and "want to upgrade the front, middle and back of their defense."

On the surface, that seems pretty specific. But it's not.

On the surface, that seems pretty sensible. But it's not.

"Our goal here more than anything,'' COO Stephen Jones said, "is to improve our defense. That’s where our focus will be.''

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It is certainly true that Dallas, after its brick-by-brick construction of its offensive line, now can turn its attention elsewhere -- specifically, to Rod Marinelli's defense, if that's how the bricks present themselves. But there is nothing specific about being "locked in on three defensive areas" because on defense, there are ... well, three specific areas, D-line, linebackers and secondary.

But "BAA'' is the way to draft, and Stephen knows it. The high-quality brick that you don't "need'' is a better value than the crumbly brick you think you need. Always. Do the Cowboys "want to upgrade the front, middle and back of their defense''? Of course. And they can, at this early stage, "focus'' there.

But to be "locked in''? That works as a prison metaphor here. There is no need to voluntarily lock oneself in prison.

FishTip 2

QB Tony Romo was out and about on Wednesday, taking in the Mavs' win over Utah and using his best-seat-in-the-AAC perch to scream at officials.


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Unfortunately, Dean Blandino and Gene Steratore could not hear him.

FishTip 3

Losta speculation in Cowboys Nation about the possibility this team chases accused domestic-violence perp Greg Hardy. First, make sure we get this: As a pass-rusher and all-around defensive force, he is one of the most talented players in the NFL -- good enough to have been franchise-tagged by the Panthers last year.

But ... is there a discount to be had here? (I doubt it.) Is there a six-game suspension to be served to start 2015? (I bet so.) Does his innocence in a court of law mean he's not guilty of wrongdoing? (Certainly not.) Can the Cowboys use all that cap room to fill their free-agency with players who are just as gifted but not so risky? (We've already done that homework.)

And the biggie: Is he a "Garrett Guy''? Can you have made the sort of mistake he's made and be a "Garrett Guy''? Fitting into a program doesn't require a player to be a Boy Scout; otherwise, Rolando McClain, Orlando Scandrick, Josh Brent, Joseph Randle, Dez Bryant and a host of others wouldn't have lockers at Valley Ranch.

But the speculation is empty because of all those question marks ... and because the people who are doing the speculating not only don't know Garrett -- they also don't know Greg Hardy.

FishTip 4

Mel Kiper released his latest mock draft and has the Cowboys picking defensive tackle Carl Davis of Iowa. There is nothing necessarily wrong with the pick, the player, the position, none of it.

Except it has nothing to do with what anybody at Valley Ranch is saying they'll do.

The Cowboys haven't assembled their Big Board yet. They are certainly gathering intel on defensive tackle Carl Davis of Iowa, and hundreds of other guys. But Kiper's info is all about Kiper's view of the player and nothing about Dallas' view of the player.

Mock drafts are amusing time-killers. But there are really three steps to doing this right:

*Evaluating the player
*Matching him with a team
*Knowing whether the team thinks that player is a match with it in its specific spot.

The first two? Good ways to occupy oneself in February, and everyone from Kiper to the most casual fan can try his hand there. The third one? It's the tricky one. It's where "scouting'' meets "reporting.'' It's where some guy in Manhattan or LA -- no matter his skills in either category -- finds himself challenged to know the inner-circle thinking of 32 scouting departments.

That third one is what makes mock-drafting in February a bit of an enjoyable joke.

FishTip 5

The recent behavior of DeMarco Murray makes it seem like he's running for office in Dallas.

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And maybe he is.

You're a fool to think his appearance with his buddies Garrett and Romo at an SMU basketball game suddenly marks a desire of them to show support for his free-agency return to Dallas; that's always been true. But maybe it's not so foolish to think that Murray -- no dummy -- is orchestrating a public campaign to keep the door ajar ... or maybe even to cause the audience to remain in love with him as a way of pressuring Jerry Jones to do the same. (And all the while erasing "Spray Tan'' from the football vocabulary.)

"Obviously, I think they want me here," Murray said this week. "I want to be here. ... I think both sides want to be here, so I think we'll see where it goes. ... It's about winning a Super Bowl. If this place gives me the best chance, I'm going to stay here."

Murray has always measured his words with the media, saying pretty much nothing but very politely. Isn't this that? Talk of selflessness and Super Bowls -- that's a football campaign speech that promises nothing.

Should the Cowboys personnel department suddenly value DeMarco more because he said something polite at a promotional appearance? Should the cap guys suddenly add some zeroes because DeMarco "wants to be here''? I say this all the time about the draft: "Don't undo 15 months of on-the-street research with 15 minutes of on-the-clock panic.''

And it applies here now. Dallas has a plan here. DeMarco, at the right price, comes back. DeMarco at the wrong price departs. "Politeness,'' lovely as it is, does not, cannot, change that.

FishTip 6

The Cowboys are continuing to shuffle their coaching staff’s “second level” with what sources told me back on Tuesday would be the addition of both long-time NFL offensive line coach Steve Loney and former Cowboys offensive lineman Marc Colombo, both of whom will work under elevated line coach Frank Pollack.

Pollack last year served as an aide to the departed Bill Callahan (now in Washington). Special assistant Monte Kiffin is also not returning.

Loney, most recently at Arkansas, has an impressive resume from years coaching in the NFL, including his working with Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan during his time with the Vikings.

Colombo is a favorite of head coach Jason Garrett and has spent the last year in the Cowboys scouting department. It can be argued that with the resources Dallas has poured into the O-line, it makes sense to pour resources into their coaches, too.

FishTip 7

Meanwhile, about Kiff ...

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He once told me that the first thing he did when he rolled into DFW three years ago was to find a radio station that covered sports. He found 105.3 The Fan, and he found me ... and I've enjoyed the bromance.

But approaching 75, Kiff now needs something to do besides coaching at Valley Ranch. As always, he has no desire to retire; “I don’t golf, I don’t fish, I don’t bowl,” he often jokes. “It’s just family and football.”

And about that "family'': They fully understand that after 50 years of this, he is "married'' to football is a very real figurative sense. For the most part, it's loved him back, too. No need for a divorce as long as she'll still have him.

FishTip 8

Our man Jeff Cavanaugh reports that after putting in a personnel-department day at Valley Ranch on Wednesday, scouting boss Will McClay finally exited the building.

At 11:05 p.m.

FishTip 9

Hall-of-Fame running back Tony Dorsett says he started playing football “not knowing that the end was going to be like this” — "the end,'' tragically, being chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain condition as a result of the sort of head trauma that a football player endures.

Dorsett is a poster guy for the greatness of the Cowboys. He rushed for 12,738 yards in 12 seasons, won a Super Bowl as a rookie, and with his good looks and personality fit in nicely on the "America's Team'' marquee. But now, as he inches toward dementia, he's a poster guy for the series of lawsuits against the NFL.

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Dorsett says he would still encourage young athletes, including those in his family, to play football. (Of course his son did indeed follow in his footsteps to play in the NFL.) Me? I can only say that when my older son declined an invitation to play college football, I was slightly disappointed because of all the enjoyment his football participation had provided the two of us ... but largely elated because the concerns about the metal rod in his wrist (from his sophomore year of high school) and the trio of concussions (in his junior and senior years) would be behind us.

FishTip 10

Thursday was DeMarco's 27th birthday. What to get him for a gift? Well, since money isn't important, and since all he wants is a Super Bowl, he gets a cheap contract in Dallas but with title contention.

I don't mean that. And really, neither does he.

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