Dallas Cowboys: Archer's take

Analysis: Durability a factor at fullback

March, 14, 2012
IRVING, Texas – Tony Fiammetta quickly became something of a legend last year as the Cowboys’ lead blocker for DeMarco Murray.

It seemed the move to a more traditional fullback helped open up avenues for the running game that the Cowboys did not have with their tight ends serving as blockers. And the stats backed up the thought.

But Fiammetta could not stay healthy. He missed five games last year. He missed eight games in his first two seasons with Carolina.

As much as the Cowboys wanted to keep him, they did not want to pay him $1.26 million as a restricted free agent. They had talks with his agent about a multi-year contract that would have been more cap friendly but when one did not materialize they decided not to tender him a contract.

That made Fiammetta free to sign elsewhere but it also made the Cowboys free to shop elsewhere.

They signed Lawrence Vickers to a two-year deal Wednesday, leaving him unemployed for not long after Houston cut him. Vickers is older (he turns 29 in May) but he’s bigger and he has shown to be more durable. He has missed just two games in the last three years in opening holes for Peyton Hillis in Cleveland and Arian Foster last year.

The decision to sign Vickers shows that Jason Garrett believes there is something to having a true fullback on the game-day roster.

But it also comes at a cost and the Cowboys did not want to overpay for a guy that would play 15 or so snaps a game.
IRVING, Texas – Getting Brandon Carr to wear the star on his helmet was a must for the Cowboys.

The secondary needed as much help as possible. It can be debated the best way to help a secondary is to upgrade the pass rush (see New York Giants), but this free-agent market did not have the top-flight difference makers on the front seven except for Mario Williams.

The Cowboys were never going to be in the game for Williams, even if they let Anthony Spencer test free agency and hadn't placed the franchise tag on him. The price was just going to be too high.

That made getting Carr imperative. After Cortland Finnegan agreed to a deal Tuesday night with St. Louis and Eric Wright agreed to one in Tampa Bay on Wednesday morning, the Cowboys could not let Carr leave town without a deal.

The drop-off to the other cornerbacks available was just too great.

With Carr the Cowboys get a young player entering his prime. That’s the type of free agent you want to sign. Too often teams overpay in free agency for what a player had already done in the game, not what he can do.

Carr turns 26 in May. Orlando Scandrick is 25. Mike Jenkins is 27. The Cowboys can still look to the draft to find cornerback help.

Half of Carr's eight career interceptions came last year. He has 63 pass deflections in his four seasons. He’s around the ball. The Cowboys desperately need that.

The arrow on Carr is still pointing up.

Analysis: Kyle Orton a good grab

March, 14, 2012

IRVING, Texas – Jason Garrett was a backup quarterback in the NFL for 14 years for the Cowboys, New York Giants, Tampa Bay and Miami.

There’s a reason why he talks about the importance of “allocating resources” to that position. That’s why the Cowboys are saying hello to Kyle Orton.

How did Chicago do last year when it lost Jay Cutler? The Bears were in position to make the playoffs and saw it all go away.

Bring it closer to home. How did the Cowboys do when Tony Romo missed three games in 2008? Brad Johnson went 1-2 with one loss to the Rams. If the Cowboys won that game against a bad team – and the defense deserves a lot of blame for that too – they would have made the playoffs.

The 2010 season was already a wash when Romo suffered a broken collarbone in the sixth game of the season, but for as well as Jon Kitna played the Cowboys posted a 4-5 record.

In a perfect world the Cowboys never need to Orton play, but Romo has suffered injuries in three of the last four years. He missed 10 games in 2010 and those three in 2008. Last year he played through a broken rib.

Bounty or no bounty, quarterbacks are targets on game days. As Jerry Jones’ good friend, Al Davis, once said: the quarterback must go down and he must go down hard.

Orton represents a slight shift in Garrett’s philosophy on the backup QB. Johnson was 39 when he joined the Cowboys. Kitna was 37. Orton turns 30 in November and has 69 starts to his credit.