Three thoughts on Day 15 of Cowboys camp

August, 7, 2014
Aug 7
3:00
PM ET
SAN DIEGO -- Three thoughts on Day 15 of Dallas Cowboys' training camp:

1) It’s really good to see Jason Garrett spending considerable time on situational football.

The Cowboys have played 38 games in the last three seasons where they have been within one score -- ahead or behind -- of their opponent in the fourth quarter.

Dallas is just 20-18 in those games.

Too many times they’ve blown leads and, ultimately, games with poor clock management, questionable strategy by Garrett, or mistakes by players. They haven’t been good enough to overcome many of those mistakes, and it’s among the reasons they have missed the playoffs each of the last four seasons.

Perhaps this extra work will help them.

2) There have been times the Cowboys kept an extra tight end instead of a fullback on the roster.

Well that’s not going to happen this year.

Garrett continues to insist the Cowboys want to be a physical team and part of that is having a fullback, who can help create running lanes and establish a physical tone.

Tyler Clutts, a 29-year-old playing with his fourth team in three seasons, has a big lead in the competition for that spot.

3) One way the Cowboys’ defense can help their offense is by scoring points like they did last year.

The Cowboys scored six non-offensive touchdowns last season -- three fumble returns, two interception returns and a punt return. Only Kansas City, Chicago and Cincinnati scored more. Kansas City led the league with 11 non-offensive touchdowns, and Chicago and Cincinnati each had seven.

Key number: .315

Last year, Dallas finished 3-2 when Tony Romo threw at least 40 passes.

Romo is 6-7 the last two years and is just 6-13 overal -- a .315 winning percentage -- when he throws more than 40 passes in a game since the start of the 2010 season.

But that’s a difficult way to win, and it’s an approach Garrett said he’d prefer not to use this season.

Player to Watch: Dustin Vaughan


If you’re going to take a chance on a small-school quarterback, it should probably be a 6-foot-5, 233-pound dude who broke a lot of records in college.

Vaughan, who played in a spread offense, passed for 5,401 yards with 53 touchdowns as a senior at West Texas A&M. The Cowboys view him a developmental player, which probably means he's destined for the practice squad this season.

He’s an intelligent player with a big arm, but the adjustment from West Texas to the NFL is about as big as a player can make. He’ll get plenty of playing time in the preseason, especially with the Cowboys being cautious with Tony Romo, and it’ll give him an opportunity to prove he’s worth a spot on the practice squad.
Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

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