Chat leftovers: Breaking down the big plays

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11
9:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Once again we had a ton of questions in Wednesday’s chat and I couldn’t get to them all, so let’s pull out some leftovers to answer right now.

First a leftover question: What’s better warmed up – spaghetti or chicken lo mein? I’m going spaghetti. I think I’d go with the lo mein cold.

Away we go:

Blake Tyler (Nashville): I think we all agree that Tony is best when the play breaks down and he can move and find his guy down the field. Big plays. I know this sounds crazy but is there any way with a better line in front of him that it takes away some of our big play ability? The offense just didn’t look that explosive last year.

Todd Archer: You sort of sound like Jerry Jones when he said if there is a quarterback that doesn’t need protection as much it’s Romo, but I don’t want to pin that on you. I hear what you’re saying, but I think the big plays were down because the offense changed. They were not as aggressive as in the past down the field. Was that Romo protecting the ball or himself? Perhaps. Was it the new playcaller in Bill Callahan? Perhaps. I’d much rather have my quarterback be able to go through his reads and make plays that way than rely on him to create when things breaking down. Romo has done that sort of thing so many times that it seems second nature, but you don’t want to live off that. I wonder if he had a hard time trusting the protection because things broke down in the past that he was getting rid of the ball too early sometimes. Just a though.

Marco (Houston): If Donald is gone at 16 and Ealy is available do you think the Boys would settle or trade down?

Todd Archer: I’m not sure how high the Cowboys are on Kony Ealy. They might see him more as a left defensive end so that takes him down a peg. As good as he looks and as good as the numbers suggest, you want more plays. He made a lot but something just seemed missing. I think there might be better players available at No. 16 at other positions that make the Cowboys go elsewhere and trading down is always an option. I’ve said this before, but in order to trade down the Cowboys have to hope there is someone there that another team wants to trade up to get. They must be prepared to make a pick at No. 16.

Ray (From Southside): Any updates on to who the 30 players will be for pre-draft visits and for Dallas day??

Todd Archer: The names that I know of so far are Anthony Barr, Demarcus Lawrence, Jimmie Ward, Ryan Shazier and Aaron Donald. They usually don’t use all of their 30 visits at the outset with the chance they can add two or three guys later in the process. For the Cowboys it matters who comes to Valley Ranch. In the last nine drafts the only two top picks not to visit were DeMarcus Ware and Morris Claiborne. Last year they ended up drafting four players who visited and signing a couple of undrafted free agents as well. Dallas Day is another important tool and with so many seventh-round picks, the Cowboys will be able to lock in on their priority free agents. I’m working on a list of Dallas Day guys, so stay tuned for that, but Jackson Jeffcoat is not one of them despite growing up in Plano. Since the family moved to Colorado, I guess he can’t be in the mix.

Cullen Calabria (Paris, TX): Linehan's RB's combined for over a 100 receptions last year Bush had 50+ and so did Bell? Can we expect similar things this year? Because Murray only has 1 rec TD in his career which I blame on play calling more than him.

Todd Archer: I wouldn’t expect 100 catches from the running backs here but that’s not a slight on DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar or Joseph Randle. It’s more about the construction of the Cowboys’ offense. The Lions don’t have Jason Witten, so there were more balls for Bush and Bell to catch. They don’t have a Terrance Williams as a No. 2 receiver either. Murray caught 53 passes last year, so I think he’ll be in that range again. As a group Cowboys runners caught 72 passes in 2013. I can see that going to 85 or so if Dunbar can stay healthy. I wouldn’t get carried away with Murray’s lack of TD catches. I think that’s more of a product of having guys like Dez Bryant, Witten, Miles Austin and Williams around here lately.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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