1. Was Dez Bryant’s tweet about Darrelle Revis really about Darrelle Revis?
Oh, and by the way, Dez, thanks to sending that out AFTER I wrote last week’s First and 10. Maybe a heads-up next time?
So is Dez recruiting Revis Island? Maybe, maybe not. Our Mike Fisher filed a piece earlier this week that quoted former Dallas Cowboys scout and current 105.3 The Fan analyst Bryan Broaddus as noting that Revis Island is not “Revis Island” anymore, if you know what I mean (Fisher quoted Broaddus as saying Revis can’t “run anymore.” Well, admittedly, that’s a problem if you’re going to play cornerback in the NFL).
Revis is 32 now. That’s not necessarily over the hill for cornerbacks in the NFL. But he’s 11 seasons in and while he played 15 games for the Jets last year, his numbers were not Revis-like — just one interception. That was a year after picking off five passes in 2015.
Of course, after Bryant fired off the tweet the questions were naturally asked whether Bryant had faith in his young secondary. He said of course he did. I mean, what else is he going to say? And I think he does, but I wonder if there wasn’t some subtle messaging behind that tweet. Maybe this isn’t about Revis. Maybe this is about making sure the Cowboys have the numbers on that back line to succeed.
As much as we talk about the Cowboys’ anemic pass rush, we don’t talk enough about the secondary. The Cowboys basically jettisoned an ENTIRE starting secondary’s worth of players — corners Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, and safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox. In their place is a healthier Orlando Scandrick, three rookies, a second-year corner in Anthony Brown, a converted quarterback, former undrafted free agent Jeff Heath and former first-round pick Byron Jones. The Cowboys’ main free-agent move to bolster the position was to sign Nolan Carroll, a solid corner who may now miss a couple of games this season due to a DUI arrest on Memorial Day weekend.
The Cowboys have chosen to go with a lot of “If’s” at the position group. When I look at a team’s chances to win each season, one of my rules of thumbs is to tally up how many “If’s” are on the team. You know what I mean, something like “We’ll be great this year if this player grows into the position,” and so on. The more “If’s” I count up, the more I doubt the team’s chances.
Well, there are a lot of “If’s” in this secondary. A lot of things have to go right and a lot of young players have to step up. Last year’s emergence of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott at the same time is not the norm.
I think Bryant’s tweet wasn’t so much about getting Revis as it was about getting a subtle message to management: Keep an eye out for talent on the back row because we have a chance at a February date in Minneapolis.
2. It sounds like the Cowboys want to give Ezekiel Elliott more touches. It sounds like Zeke wants it too.
Our Joey Ickes wrote about Zeke’s astonishing workload last year. This paragraph breaks it down:
Elliott carried the ball 322 times and was targeted 39 times through the air in 2016 … that’s 361 opportunities; in only 15 games (he was inactive in the meaningless Week 17 game). In those same 15 games, the Cowboys ran 960 offensive plays. This means that on an offense that was in the top five in the NFL in every major statistical category, Elliott accounted for almost 38 percent of the touches, and his 1,994 total yards, made up over 34 percent of the team’s production.
Can I just provide a contrary opinion to “Feeding Zeke?”
The Cowboys have an embarrassment of riches at the position. Along with Elliott, they have two other 1,000-yard rushers — Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris. Now, I think we learned in 2015 that not EVERY back can run behind this incredible offensive line (but let’s not forget that D-Mac did for more than 1,000 yards in 2015, despite not playing the whole season). Both backs have had success behind this group with limited touches. Why not use them a little more than they were used last year? I get that Zeke wants the ball — great backs always do. But it’s up to the Cowboys to control his workload and be judicious about how he’s used.
This probably sounds alarmist. I mean Elliott is well south of 30 years old, when pro backs typically start to break down. But there hasn’t been enough consideration for the workload that Elliott carried in college. In case you’re wondering he had about 650 touches in college. In fact, during Elliott’s national championship season of 2014, Elliott had 301 touches in 15 games, exactly the number of games he played last year.
So, in four years of college and pro football Elliott has already touched the ball more than 1,000 times. Additionally, he’s already logged two 300-plus seasons.
This guy is special. I’m not saying don’t use him. I’m saying don’t run him into the ground if it’s not necessary. And with McFadden and Morris, if the pair are used wisely, it might not be necessary to overload Elliott.
Will he like it? Probably not. Will you like it? You’ll have no problem with it if the Cowboys keep winning. And if they can win shoveling a few extra carries to McFadden and Morris, and ease Elliott’s workload just a bit, it makes this team so much more dangerous in January and beyond.
3. This week on Starcast, Jamie Horton and Mike Fisher discuss what it's like to be mistaken for a kicker. Is it really that bad? Should Ryan Switzer have gotten his feeling hurt? We think being associated with Dan Bailey and Chris Jones might be pretty cool.
The best offensive line in the NFL is poised to continue their reign, although they'll have some new'ish faces. What does this mean for Chaz Green and can La'el Collins emerge as the fourth of the fab ... three?
The Dallas Cowboys have some money to "spend" but why should they? Also... Revis Island is now a vacation destination. Dez Bryant is interested in booking the island, but it appears that Dez is on an island of his own.
It's good stuff ... And it's all right here on this edition of 'Cowboys STARCast' ... and below, click on more important Cowboys links! And remember, you can download the Cowboys Sports Radio app on your phone for iOS/iPhone and Google Play/Android. ... Come on inside!
4. The Cowboys don’t typically make many moves between mini-camp and training camp, aside from cutting a few players to get under the 90-man roster limit. But there may be a few names out there worth considering on a one-year deal (beside Darrelle Revis, of course).
At defensive end Mario Williams is out there, at corner there’s Sam Shields and at safety there’s Jairus Byrd. All three are big names who have done some big things, but there are reasons all three are available this late in the offseason.
Williams was was a player some Cowboys fans wanted the team to trade for last year. He played 13 games in Miami last year and had 1.5 sacks. Now you can get him practically for free. Williams says injuries were behind his sub-par 2016. Maybe a better culture or change of scenery would be good for him.
Shields was released in February after an arrest on drug-related charges (possession of marijuana) and now has a history of concussions.
Byrd was released for cap reasons, but his overall play has tailed off since 2014 knee surgery.
Are any of these guys worth inviting to camp? The Cowboys would have to figure that out (I’d be most interested in Byrd, simply because he seems to have the fewest physical hang-ups). But it goes to show that at this time of the year, there is no silver bullet out there on the free-agent market that will make your team that much better come September. The Cowboys would be wise to stand pat unless an exceptional value comes their way.
5. Nothing in mini-camp convinced me the backup QB situation has changed. Kellen Moore is still, and should be, the backup to Dak Prescott. Cooper Rush is a player to hide away on the practice squad. Zac Dysert is fighting for work. I think the Cowboys will keep two quarterbacks. Dysert has to give them a reason to keep three.
6. The subplot that will keep you interested before training camp? Daryl Washington continuing to try and convince the Cowboys he’s worth an invite.
7. Now that the Cowboys’ mandatory mini-camp is over, every Cowboys player should heed these three words:
Make. Good. Choices.
See you in Oxnard, guys.
8. Tweet of the Week
Zeke should spend the next five weeks getting someone to teach him how to wear that thing.
9. This week’s “Great Moments in Headline Porn?” “Cowboys fan asks judge to let him wear his Tony Romo jersey to double murder trial” from dallasnews.com
The sad part? We’re not making this up.
10. One More Thing ….
I haven’t been writing as much the past month or so, but for good reason. I’m working on wrapping up the 2017 College Football America Yearbook, of which I am editor-in-chief. We’re really excited about this year’s book. We’ve gone in a slightly different direction with the cover (see below) and we’ve found a new publisher, Ingram Spark. What that means to you as a consumer that we’re able to offer our quality college football yearbook at a much lower price than in the past. It makes us more competitive with the annuals you’re used to seeing and we hope you’ll give it a chance. We think the CFA Yearbook is important because we cover all levels of college football, not just Division I. I’ll keep you updated on the release date and where to get it. With our new relationship with Ingram Spark, it will be a lot easier to find.