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DMN Chat Recap: Doug Free, Jerry Jones, and Kenny Vaccaro

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I finished another live chat at Dallas Morning News today. You can check out the full chat right here, but I pasted a preview below. No idea why I’m logged in as Tim Cowlishaw.

  • Hey what’s up guys? Thanks for hanging out and sending in your questions. Let’s get it going.
    by Tim Cowlishaw 2:00 PM
  • I am shocked to hear that Jerry doesn’t think that he blew two first rounders on F. Jones and M. Jenkins. Will he ever turn loose and let the football folks run the draft?
    by Louis Renault 2:00 PM
  • I think he’s influenced by his scouts, coaches, and personnel people more than you think. This isn’t just Jerry sitting in the war room choosing players that override everyone else’s thoughts. It’s true that he has the power, obviously, since he’s the owner, but that doesn’t mean he flexes that power at all times.
    by Tim Cowlishaw 2:02 PM
  • The Cowboys had decent offensive numbers last year, yet seemed to have offensive problems. Do you think an improvement in playcalling in the red zone can improve that? How can that be done?
    by Stephen K. 2:02 PM
  • Great question, because the top way the Cowboys can improve their overall offensive efficiency is by improving in the red zone. One way to do that is to run the ball more often, particularly inside the 10-yard line. I talk a lot about how the Cowboys and all NFL teams should pass the ball more often, but the game gets a lot different in the red zone. Passing is still advantageous over running outside of the 10, but inside that area, the field becomes condensed and throwing is really difficult. Defenses don’t have to respect a receiver going deep, so they can just sit on routes. Of course, this points to a larger issue which is that the Cowboys need to run the ball more efficiently in general. But if they can specifically do it more in short-yardage and goal line situations, that will really help the offense.
    by Tim Cowlishaw 2:05 PM
  • If the top OLinemen are gone before the Cowboys pick in the 1st round and they select a DLineman or safety, can OLinemen they pick in the 2nd or 3rd rounds come in and have an immediate impact?
    by Cowboy Guy 2:05 PM
  • Yeah, I’d say so. Second-round picks in particular are undervalued around the league. Plus the Cowboys are so weak at some spots on the line that any second-round pick will probably be an upgrade over what they have. The problem is that the OL positions in this draft are pretty top-heavy, especially in the interior. There’s a huge drop from Cooper and Warmack to a guy like Larry Warford, so the Cowboys really need to do what they can to get one of those elite guys.
    by Tim Cowlishaw 2:07 PM
  • Any feelings or rumors out there as to what Doug Free is going to do in his decision on a paycut?
    by Bruce B. 2:07 PM
  • Well, I’m not really sure that Free has much of a choice because he’s just not worth his current deal. If he doesn’t redo it, he’ll be gone. He’s probably just delaying the inevitable, but either way I don’t anticipate seeing him in the starting lineup on opening day.
    by Tim Cowlishaw 2:09 PM
  • We all know the deficiencies in the offensive line, but if pick 18 comes up and lets say Coradell Patterson is there#1 ranked player left on there board do they do that or reach for a saftey or off lineman??
    by Ray from Southside 2:09 PM
  • I don’t think there’s any way they’d pick Patterson in the first round simply because they have so many other holes. The idea that teams always draft the best player available is mistaken. What if the Cowboys rate Geno Smith really highly and he’s still on the board at 18? They wouldn’t draft him, nor should they. Teams have so much confidence in their rankings of players that sometimes they forget the fact that they could be wrong. That makes drafting for need more of a consideration. But if the Cowboys don’t see an elite option on the board at a position of need when they’re on the clock, I really think a trade back is a strong possibility, assuming they can find a partner.
    by Tim Cowlishaw 2:12 PM
  • Whats ur thoughs on Jason Garrett?? Do u think he has this team going in the right direction?? i know a lot of folks bang on him for his playcalling but u do have to admit that these teams do seem different albeit only going 8-8
    by Ray from Southside 2:12 PM
  • I don’t like Jason Garrett the play-caller, but I like Jason Garrett the head coach. In terms of building a strong foundation for an organization, emphasizing the right kinds of things, searching for hard-working players who are going to improve, and just building a long-term winning atmosphere, I think he’s the right guy. I think the Cowboys are a little behind the times with some things offensively, but the foundations of being a head coach, outside of play-calling, never really change. And as a head coach, I think he’s got the team moving in the right direction.
    by Tim Cowlishaw 2:14 PM
  • What happened to Free? We know he had a bad year but he did great the year before. How do you drop that quickly? Did he have an injury no one is talking about? Go through a bad breakup? What up? And, is there any reason to believe he can regain his form?
    by MB@Denton 2:15 PM
  • There are two ways to look at it. One is that Free is a good player who suddenly lost it. The other is that he was never really that good, overachieved, and now we’re just seeing the real Doug Free. I think the latter is more likely; this is a finesse offensive tackle who is really slow-footed for the position. He can’t handle power on the outside, but he also gets beat by speed. I don’t really see him “regaining” his form because he’s already in true form right now.
    by Tim Cowlishaw 2:17 PM
  • I understand the cap situation, but lets be realistic and see what we can do for this year. Can we afford anyone (free agent)? If so, who would you target before the draft that is still available?
    by cesar – el paso 2:17 PM
  • Yeah, they can afford some guys, but there’s not really an incentive to do much before the draft. You don’t know how the draft will unfold, and if you go out and get, say, and offensive tackle, what happens if Lane Johnson unexpectedly drops to the Cowboys at No. 18? In signing potential starters prior to the draft, the Cowboys would just be boxing themselves into one particular draft strategy, which obviously isn’t a good thing. I don’t think there are any free agents out there who are essential pieces to the puzzle, so it’s best to wait and maintain some flexibility come April 25.
    by Tim Cowlishaw 2:20 PM
  • What round, if any, do you see the Cowboys taking a RB? Is Marcus Lattimore on the radar?
    by Mel Kiper III 2:20 PM
  • I think it’s a near certainty that the Cowboys draft a running back. I’d expect Rounds 3-5 to be the most likely area where they’ll target one. Although there aren’t any really elite backs in this class, there are a bunch of solid guys in the middle rounds. You mentioned Lattimore, who the Cowboys have shown some interest in, and you’ve also got guys like Johnathan Franklin, Christine Michael, Knile Davis, and Zac Stacy who will go in the mid-round range. There’s really no reason to get antsy on a running back because teams are really inefficient at drafting them as a whole, so the guys at the bottom of the draft can offer just about as much production as the top prospects.
    by Tim Cowlishaw 2:23 PM
  • Is it safe to say that given Jason Garrett’s draft history (other than Dez) that Tyrann Mathieu won’t be drafted by Dallas?
    by Mel Kiper III 2:23 PM
  • I’d say so. I also mentioned last week that it doesn’t help that Mathieu is a really small prospect without elite speed. He’s limited in what he can do, so even if the Cowboys don’t have him off of their board, they might not draft him just because he’s not really that great of value, off-field issues aside.
    by Tim Cowlishaw 2:25 PM
  • Since the Longhorn defense couldn’t tackle you or me, don’t you think it would be a mistake to take Kenny Vacarro with a 1st round pick?
    by David from Lufkin 2:25 PM
  • I don’t think the tackling ability of the defense as a whole has much to do with Vaccaro’s ability. I think Vaccaro will get drafted too high for a few reasons, the most obvious of which is that there aren’t any elite safeties in this class. As the top-rated safety on most boards, he’s a scarce commodity, and those tend to rise in value independently of the prospect’s actual level of skill. For the Cowboys, I think there are plenty of options in the second and third-round areas, such as Matt Elam, Shamarko Thomas, and JJ Wilcox, who are just as good for a fraction of the price. They need to be careful not to overvalue someone just because there aren’t necessarily any prospects at his position who are better.
    by Tim Cowlishaw 2:28 PM
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