Dallas Cowboys: Jim Jeffcoat

With OL retooled, Cowboys look to fix DL

June, 11, 2014
IRVING, Texas -- The look of the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line has changed dramatically over the last three seasons.

In 2011, the Cowboys started the process of tearing down the line, moving on from Marc Colombo, Leonard Davis and Andre Gurode. In 2012, they replaced Kyle Kosier.

But in stripping down the line, the Cowboys didn’t have ready-made replacements, with the exception of Tyron Smith, who was their first-round pick in 2011. Bill Nagy was an undersized guard and seventh-round pick. He started four games before getting hurt. The Cowboys recalled Montrae Holland to the roster and started him for 10 games. They relied on Derrick Dockery as well. At center, they went with undersized Phil Costa, who was undrafted in 2010. Kevin Kowalski, another undrafted player in 2011, was a key reserve.

This spring the Cowboys have a line with three first-round picks in Smith, now at left tackle, center Travis Frederick and right guard Zack Martin. Doug Free is the only holdover, moving from left tackle to right tackle.

This offseason the Cowboys have stripped down the defensive line. A year ago at this time, Jerry Jones called it the strength of the team. DeMarcus Ware is now with the Denver Broncos. Jason Hatcher is with the Washington Redskins. Jay Ratliff is with the Chicago Bears. Anthony Spencer is coming back from microfracture knee surgery.

“There is an analogy there,” coach Jason Garrett said. “A lot of veteran players, who were really good, of the same generation, and you have to transition. You have to get younger.”

Like the offensive line, the Cowboys didn’t have any ready-made replacements on the defensive line. Instead of going with late-round or undrafted players, the Cowboys are going with low-cost veterans with questions about health, consistency or both.

They added Henry Melton, Jeremy Mincey, Terrell McClain and Amobi Okoye in free agency. They kept Spencer on a one-year deal for short money. They drafted DeMarcus Lawrence in the second round and Ben Gardner and Ken Bishop in the seventh round.

“Defensive line is one of those positions you can’t have enough of those guys,” Garrett said. “Some of the best teams I’ve been around, some of the best teams we’ve completed against seem to have a boatload of these defensive linemen constantly coming at you … We’ve just got to keep them coming.”

Rebuilding is not one of George Carlin’s seven dirty words, but it sure can be viewed that way at Valley Ranch. The preferred word is retooling. The Cowboys have retooled the offensive line. They are in the process of retooling the defensive line.

There might be a question of quality, but there is no question of quantity.

“The best defensive lines I’ve been around are the ones that have ‘wave’ players,” Garrett said. “If you think back to the 90s when this team was winning Super Bowls there were eight legit defensive linemen rotating through games. Jim Jeffcoat playing 12 plays in a game. It’s ridiculous.”

Garrett went on to mention Leon Lett, Chad Hennings, Jimmie Jones, Charles Haley, Tony Tolbert, Tony Casillas and Russell Maryland.

“If you can have some of those guys play 30 snaps instead of 60 snaps or 15 snaps instead of 30 snaps, you’re going to be so much better,” Garrett said.

Nick Hayden played a defensive-line high 821 snaps in 2013 after being unemployed in 2012. Hatcher played 747 in 15 games. George Selvie, who was signed during training camp, played 744. Six of his seven sacks came in the first nine games.

“We played a lot of snaps last year,” Selvie said. “Where the rotation helps is everybody can stay fresh. The new guys coming in, it will help a lot. It was rough by the end of the year. We were hurting. A lot of snaps like that takes a toll on your body.”

To carry out the offensive line analogy, Lawrence can be viewed like Smith, a premium pick at a premium spot. And the job is hardly close to being over. Melton, Okoye, Spencer, Selvie and Hayden all could be on one-year deals. Mincey signed a two-year deal. McClain is on a three-year deal.

“The games are won and lost up front and always will be lost up front,” Garrett said. “If you don’t have good offensive and defensive linemen your skill guys can’t do what they need to do. So we’ve tried to do that. We’ve kind of tried to restructure our fronts over the last few years and build the team the right way.”

The retooling is in its infant stages, like the offensive line in 2011. The Cowboys have to replenish the defensive line in 2015 and beyond with more premium picks the way they have the offensive line.

Chat leftovers: Better to have more picks

April, 21, 2014
IRVING, Texas -- With last week’s chat pushed back a day, the chat-leftover post was also pushed back to today.

Quick leftover question: pulled pork or ribs? For lunch today, I’m going with a leftover pulled pork sandwich.

Now on to the chat leftovers in which we discuss the thought that the Cowboys might have too many picks, a receiver possible in the first round, Davin Joseph and Jackson Jeffcoat playing for his dad’s team.

If you want to read the chat, click here. We’ll be chatting again on Wednesday at Noon ET.

Away we go:

Miles, Columbia, Mo.: I keep reading Dallas has too many draft picks(11), and not all of them can make the team; so we should trade them to move up. This is flawed logic. The more picks, the better chance you have of finding quality pieces. Would you agree?

Todd Archer: Totally flawed logic. Cowboys fans should remember Jimmy Johnson did his best work with more picks, not less. He could miss on third-rounders almost yearly because they would find some hits later in the draft thanks to more picks. The Cowboys can’t trade three of their picks because the seventh-round compensatory selections are not allowed to be dealt. But the reason I’d want more picks is because this team lacks depth. They are top heavy against the cap because they have had to sign free agents to fill in for draft picks that did not work out. Think Mackenzy Bernadeau for David Arkin, and Bernadeau is reasonably priced but still has a bigger stake in the cap. If the Cowboys aren’t enthralled with what’s left at No. 16, I’d trade down if they have a team willing to give them more picks. This roster isn't so stacked with talent that the Cowboys can be so cavalier with their selections. They can use help just about everywhere.

Will Kershner, Rochester, N.Y.: Is there any chance the boys take Mike Evans in the first round if he falls to us at 16?

Todd Archer: Absolutely. I think a receiver could be the pick in the first round, be it Evans or Odell Beckham or Marqise Lee. I need to pick more brains over at Valley Ranch on the receivers, but if a guy slipped and they don’t like the defensive players available but I see receiver as a possibility. Dez Bryant has a back issue that hasn’t resolved in two years. Terrance Williams has the look of a player but is hardly a given. The backups are solid but limited.

Shaun, Texas: I would love if the cowboys could get Davin Joseph, he would bring depth and experience. And now the Cowboys are not locked to a guard in the draft. What’s the likelihood he signs?

Todd Archer: I would put it at less than 50 percent chance he signs before the draft. It will come down to price and the health of his knee. He did not play well in Tampa Bay last year, which led to his release. That and the $6 million price. If he is willing to take a lot less – a lot – then the Cowboys would be open to him. They don’t have much veteran depth on board right now and Joseph could push Bernadeau or Ronald Leary. He could serve as the swing guy on game day if he doesn’t win a job. But I don’t think the expectations should be too high if he comes on board.

Brent, Sherman: Obviously pass rushers are a big need, and many of the questions have been about Barr, Ealy, etc., but would a player like Jackson Jeffcoat be a good be worth a look in the second round to add even more depth?

Todd Archer: People who know more about this stuff than me say the second round would be a little rich for Jeffcoat. Maybe the third would be a good spot. But I’d take a bet on his genes. His dad played forever and is one of the more underrated Cowboys. Jeffcoat had some health problems at Texas (torn pectoral) but showed up well at the combine and had a good senior year. He is active. He can get to the passer. He’s something of a tweener, but he could be a situational pass-rusher if the Cowboys don’t get a guy in the first two rounds.
Five-star question: Will DeMarcus Ware get the 2.5 sacks he needs to tie Jim Jeffcoat (94.5) for "officially" the most in franchise history?

As bad as the Seahawks' offense has been this season, whether DeMarcus Ware gets his sacks is really much more about the Cowboys' offense.

If they can get off to a good start - what a novel concept - and force the Seahawks to play from behind and become one-dimensional, then there's no doubt Ware will get 2.5 sacks.

Or more.


It helps that Seattle has allowed 28 sacks this season, most in the NFL. The problem for Seattle is that Ware has adopted so well to defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's scheme. Ryan uses him liberally on either side of the formation, and Ware has the option to change things on his own from time to time.

Add the fact that he can speed rush and power rush with equal effectiveness, and it should surprise no one that he has 12 sacks after just seven games.

That total should swell against the offensively-challenged Seahawks.

Five-star: 2.5 sacks? Expecting too much

November, 3, 2011
Five-star question: Will DeMarcus Ware get the 2.5 sacks he needs to tie Jim Jeffcoat (94.5) for officially the most in franchise history?

Rob Ryan claims that DeMarcus Ware is better than Superman, much less Lawrence Taylor, but let’s try to keep expectations realistic.

It’s a bit much to expect the man to have multiple sacks every week. So, no, he’s not likely to pull even or surpass Jim Jeffcoat on Sunday. To put the difficulty of that task in perspective, Ware has had 2.5 or more sacks in eight of 103 career games.

Granted, one of those games came against Seattle. That was a sad day in Seahawks history, as legendary left tackle Walter Jones was humiliated as he hobbled around on a bad knee in what ended up being the final game of his career.

Not that it’s impossible for Ware to beat recent first-round picks Russell Okung and James Carpenter for a few sacks. But the Seahawks’ tackles have combined to allow 7.5 sacks this season, according to Stats Inc. A Ware hat trick would be a surprise.

On another note, Jeffcoat holds the Cowboys’ record for most sacks since the NFL made it an official stat in 1982. The team recognizes Harvey Martin as its all-time leader with 114. Martin also holds the team record for sacks in a season with 23 in 1977 – half a sack more than the official league record Ware is on pace to break this season.

Just thought that Martin merited mentioned, especially during a week when one Cowboys legend from that era is getting a long overdue spot in the Ring of Honor.

Five-star: History for DeMarcus Ware

November, 3, 2011
Five-star question: Will DeMarcus Ware get the 2.5 sacks he needs to tie Jim Jeffcoat (94.5) for the most in franchise history?

On a day in which the Cowboys will induct Drew Pearson, Charles Haley and Larry Allen into the Ring of Honor, it is only fitting that DeMarcus Ware makes his run at team history to move a step closer to joining those players on the wall.

Ware is second in the NFL with 12 sacks and is coming off the first four-sack game of his career. He has had at least one sack in every game but one and sacks come in bunches for him. He has had three back-to-back games with multiple sacks, including at the start of this season.

He and Simon Fletcher hold the NFL record with at least one sack in 10 straight games.

Sunday’s foe helps the cause. Seattle has allowed a league-high 28 sacks. Tarvaris Jackson has been sacked 20 times. Charlie Whitehurst has been sacked eight. Ware has sacked 39 different quarterbacks in his career and Jackson or Tarvaris or both will make the list Sunday.

But Ware is entering a tricky part of the record book because sacks did not become an official stat in the NFL until 1982.

In the Cowboys’ media guide, they list Harvey Martin as the all-time leader in sacks with 114, followed by Randy White (111), Ed Jones (106), George Andrie (97) and Jethro Pugh (95.5). Jeffcoat, who was with the Cowboys from 1983-94, is next.

Do we ignore the players’ stats when sacks were not an official stat? Do we put an asterisk by it?

I’m not sure it really matters because Ware will end up passing them all one day soon.

Sacks mean little to DeMarcus Ware

October, 30, 2011

PHILADELPHIA -- DeMarcus Ware had a career-high four sacks Sunday at Philadelphia, but in a 34-7 disaster the outside linebacker was hardly happy.

“It really doesn’t matter,” Ware said. “We were able to get some pressure on [Michael Vick] but we’ve got to go back this week, watch the film, correct the things we need to correct and get better. We can’t harp on how things went this week. You’ve got to get better and it’s just one game.”

Ware became the first Cowboy with four sacks in a game since Charles Haley had four against Pittsburgh on Sept. 4, 1994. Bob Lilly and Jim Jeffcoat hold the team mark with five in a game. Lilly’s came on Nov. 20, 1966 against Pittsburgh before sacks became an official NFL stat. Jeffcoat’s came at Washington on Nov. 10, 1985.

Ware entered the game with only a half sack against Vick. It was the eighth time he has had at least three sacks in a game and the first since last year’s season finale against the Eagles. It was the fifth straight road game in which Ware has had at least two sacks.

With 12 sacks on the season, Ware trails Minnesota’s Jared Allen by a half sack for the NFL lead.

DeMarcus Ware suffers back spasms

October, 16, 2011

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- DeMarcus Ware had perhaps his best game of the season with five tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries, but the Pro Bowl outside linebacker was walking gingerly after the game.

After his second sack of New England’s Tom Brady, he suffered some back spasms but he did not miss a play.

“I thought it was going to get better,” Ware said, “but it got worse.”

Sunday marked the 20th multi-sack game of Ware’s career, which is a franchise record. Jim Jeffcoat and Greg Ellis had 19 multi-sack games in their careers with the Cowboys.