Chat with Todd Archer
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPNDallas.com Dallas Cowboys writer Todd Archer stops by to talk about the NFL season.
Archer joined ESPNDallas.com in November 2010. He's covered the NFL since 1997 and the Cowboys since 2003. He covered the Bengals and Dolphins before arriving in Dallas. A Massachusetts native, Archer lives in the Dallas area with his wife and two children.
Send your questions now and join Archer at noon CT/1 p.m. ET!
Todd Archer (12:58 PM)
Let's start a little early, if you don't mind. What do you want to talk about?
Is Dez finally getting 'it'? He seems to be learning from his earlier mistakes and possibly putting in the work to get results
Todd Archer (1:00 PM)
It's looking that way. Maybe it's just a coincidence his level of play has gone up once the court case was settled. Whatever it is, Bryant has been more reliable. He's done the boring things well, which is what kept him from being a great player, if that makes sense. He can make the take your breath away plays but he needed to do the every day stuff. He's done that lately. Now, is he a finished product? No.
Morice (Virginia Beach)
This defense sunday night looked like the defense of last year when they completely fell apart in the end and it's getting me nervous. What are your feelings about the defense?
Todd Archer (1:02 PM)
The easy answer is that injuries have taken its toll on the unit but they can't use that as an excuse. Every team has injuries. Losing Lee AND Carter hurt the most. Rob Ryan tries to be too tricky at times. When he went simple and basic vs. Philly, the defense was better. When he went unconventional, they were lost. They can't bank on this defense holding any team down for a whole game. What they need to do is slow them down a little and hope to take the ball away.
eric (long beach cali)
Why do the cowboys leave free on a island so much if he's struggling? they should help him with double teams or running backs chipping
Todd Archer (1:04 PM)
Good question, Eric. I don't have a good answer, but a theory: they would rather be more protected up the middle than the outside. They might believe Romo can handle the outside pressure by stepping up into a protected pocket. If the middle goes, then he has nowhere to run free. They could use more help with backs on the outside guys, I'll agree with that.
Jon (South Carolina)
Do you think the cowboys will ask Jay ratliff to take a pay cut next year? his production is not worthy of his salary, he still a good player when healthy though
Todd Archer (1:05 PM)
I don't think Ratliff would take a pay cut to stay. I do wonder about his future because of cost and injuries. Older players get hurt and he's getting up there in age. That's a lot of wear and tear on the inside. If I had to guess - and it's a guess - I wouldn't expect him to be back because of the cap issues they face.
Shane (Jersey City NJ)
Do you think Sean Payton could get more of of this talent than jason garrett is?
Todd Archer (1:07 PM)
Another good question. He has a better track record obviously as a head coach and play caller. I think the red zone work would be a lot better. But I don't know how a coach makes a guy not jump offside or run a wrong route or whatever mental errors we've seen from this team. Let me say this, the only guy I'd replace Garrett with is Payton. The other names do little for me.
mike (tampa fl)
Do you the Cowboys have enough cap space to sign romo and spencer? if not who could they release to create space?
Todd Archer (1:09 PM)
The cap won't be an issue for a Romo deal because his number will drop from $16.8 million to probably half that. That will help them have a chance to keep Spencer, but they're going to have to move some money around. They want to keep him but he might be too pricey now with the cap.
Why dont the cowboys press more because i thought that was Mo and Carrs strength? theyre playing off alot and are still gving up big plays
Todd Archer (1:10 PM)
You guys are on fire today. I don't have a good answer for you. I wrote about it yesterday. They are not using the corners' strengths, IMO. Maybe they don't like the safety play so they're protecting the safeties by playing off so much. It's not helping the pass rush with guys getting free releases. It's not helping the corners either.
Kyle Selk (Topeka, KS)
Just looking at this conference, it appears that it will take ten wins to maybe make the playoffs, either division title or wildcard. The Cowboys have shown no signs of being able to put together any kind of sustained winning streak so will nine wins and no playoffs save Garretts job or will it be playoffs or bust?
Todd Archer (1:12 PM)
The Redskins' win on Monday helped because the best way to get in the playoffs is to win the division. They might need too much help in the wild-card race having lost to Seattle and Chicago. Nine wins could make it, but I think you're right about 10. If the Cowboys go 8-8 or better, I think Garrett's back provided they have no shot at Payton.
Wayne (Orlando , FL)
What took them so long to move on from Costa ? They clearly could have made this move much earlier to try and get another linemen in as they did .
Todd Archer (1:13 PM)
They held out hope he could come back and it didn't work. You're right. They waited too long. Far too long. They could've had another guy in here just to start developing for the future, if not this year.
Pete rock (Fl)
Though talented do you think its hurting the cowboys that they have drafted players with injury history in college (lee,carter, murray) and its coming back to hurt them?
Todd Archer (1:15 PM)
Well, I can't give you a good answer here. I look at guys with "injury histories" as players with nagging muscle strains and things like that. The injuries Lee, Carter and Murray have had while here are all structural, so it's more the breaks of the game than any previous injury history, if that makes sense. Players come back from serious knee injuries nowadays, so taking Lee and Carter, to me, was not a stretch. Murray has had a broken ankle and a sprained foot, which is not the stuff that bothered him at OU.
Does it feel like Cowboys fan frustration is at an all time high or is about like it always is?
Todd Archer (1:17 PM)
You know what's funny, not so much this week. A win kind of puts that stuff away for a week and people start thinking about the playoffs again. Now, last week, absolutely. I think there are more people tired of seeing and hearing the same old things from this team, from Jerry on down. A loss to Cincinnati on Sunday, will bring out more frustration for sure. A win and people will really wonder/believe the Cowboys have a chance.
It seems like the line is starting to have some continuity, but Free seems to be continuing his regression. If we could only sign two new linemen, who would you replace?
Todd Archer (1:18 PM)
I don't think Free will be back next year. Or if he is back it's at a much cheaper price. His fall is baffling to me. But if you're looking for two linemen, then I'd say get right tackle and a center. I know I'm in the minority here, but the guards are good enough. Bernadeau has been a lot better for the last month, maybe more.
John (New Jersey)
TA - another name I'd add into the mix if JG does not return if not Payton is Andy Reid. Thoughts?
Todd Archer (1:19 PM)
No way I see that happening. And I don't think it solves anything.
I get tired of all the Romo bashing from so many fans. He is not a perfect QB but he's better than many, many others in the game. I think the team will continue to be in good hands at QB if he is signed to an extension. I think Cowboys fans won't truly realize how Romo is until he no longer wears the star on his helmet. Thoughts?
Todd Archer (1:20 PM)
There's a vocal segment that wants to see Romo go. No doubt. When you're measured against Staubach and Aikman all the time, you have to at least get to a Super Bowl. Over the last couple of years, however, I think a lot of fans are starting to realize it's not all on Romo for the team's failings. I think he gets an extension this offseason and plays another 3-4 years.
you think Free could move to RG and we can find a T in FA or Draft
Todd Archer (1:21 PM)
You have to play with power at guard. Free is not a power player. I don't see them moving him inside.
TA - Does the return of DeMarco Murray make Dallas a playoff team? Does it put them in better position to win down the stretch?
Todd Archer (1:22 PM)
Not necessarily but it helps for sure. You saw balance from the offense with him in there. Garrett does not have the same patience when he doesn't have Murray. Nor should he, to be honest. The other backs haven't shown anything. But with Murray, the test will be how the foot feels as he goes on. He's not practicing today.
Do you think Claiborne Ceiling as high as Dez
Todd Archer (1:23 PM)
Tough call because Bryant's ceiling is pretty high. I think he's more athletically gifted than Claiborne. But I think Claiborne has the potential to be a very good corner for a long time. I want to see him make more plays on the ball. We didn't see that much in camp (when we can really watch practice) and haven't seen it in the season. But I think he's pretty fearless as a cover guy.
Should the cowboys Break the bank for Anthony Spencer? peter king said he's been on of the best linebackers in the nfl this year
Todd Archer (1:25 PM)
Another tough call. I don't know how big of a bank Jerry will have available to him. Spencer has earned a long-term deal but the cap might hurt the Cowboys' chances. I have a feeling Spencer stays but it will cost a lot.
What do you think mike zimmer will do to stop the cowboys offense?
Todd Archer (1:26 PM)
He'll do what every team tries to do: get after Romo. And he's got the front to do it. Geno Atkins is probably the best DT in football and has 9.5 sacks. Think about that? I'm sure Zimmer and Terence Newman want to have big games this week.
DJ (New jersey)
Why didnt the cowboys look at aaron curry over brady poppanga?
Todd Archer (1:26 PM)
Because he can't play and they needed more inside help.
Why is jason such a believer in KO? i think theres other guys on the team thats hungry to take his spot
Todd Archer (1:28 PM)
Oh, I wouldn't go with the hunger route but I believe what you're saying about playing other guys. There's no future with Ogletree here. I'd rather see Harris get more work. And as much as I like Beasley, I don't see him as anything more than a niche player. He's getting the work he should be getting. But I think there should be more Harris.
Can't we just trade some of our overrated players to the Raiders for 1st round picks?
Todd Archer (1:28 PM)
Al's not running the show anymore.
Are D. Ware's sack numbers low due to the scheme? The double teams? His age? I feel like its last year all over again with the abundance of QB pressures but lack of sacks and tackles for loss...
Todd Archer (1:29 PM)
It's not the scheme. I think there's some injury there with a shoulder and neck that has limited Ware some but there's nothing on the injury report. The Eagles paid a lot of attention to him, but he had some one-on-one rushes vs. the tackles and didn't win enough.
if no payton is there anyway you see an OC coming in to call plays JG has done it for 7 yrs and still struggles to put game plan that works early and score TDS in redzone
Todd Archer (1:31 PM)
They have a coordinator in Bill Callahan. It's in his title. Now, would Garrett give him the playcalling? I don't know that. Maybe. A second year in the system would help Callahan more, I think. And I'm sure some people believe Norv Turner will be an option. I wouldn't be so sure. I don't know that Norv would want to work under Jason. And I don't know that Jason would want Norv.
Top 5 needs for cowboys GM,HC,C,RT,3wr.....Your thoughts
Todd Archer (1:32 PM)
The GM thing won't change. I believe Garrett is putting the program together the right way, but needs help. As for player needs I'll go with OL, DL, CB, S, WR and a QB.
IMO the Romo biggest problem is whats in front of him I think the Cowboys should cut Free and go hard for Jake Long in free agency. I think Romo is an elite QB but the offensive line woes are killing the cowboys.
Todd Archer (1:32 PM)
I just don't see how Long will be available. I know there's a thought it could happen but ... and I don't think the Cowboys will have the room to get him. Free agency is not the answer all the time. They have to figure out how to draft and develop guys.
John (New Jersey)
TA - is it me but why does Sensabaugh get a "pass"? He is consistently behind on plays and never seems to make a play on the ball.
Todd Archer (1:33 PM)
I think he's been OK. He's an average player. That's what he's been. That's what he is. That's what he'll be. And he's being paid as an average player, to be honest.
Does Garrett coach apprehensively? It just appears like he doesn't open up the offense till they HAVE to
Todd Archer (1:34 PM)
I don't disagree but think about this: he has a line that struggles, he hasn't had Murray for six weeks, Romo was throwing too many picks. It's hard to be so confident in calling plays when you don't know what you can count on.
tommy billings montana [via mobile]
I looked at some stats the other day. Witten has only one touchdown this late in the season. I feel that this is a huge part of the offensive struggles and slow starts. What do you think?
Todd Archer (1:35 PM)
It's strange that Witten is open all the way down the field but he's a non-factor in the red area. Makes no sense. The coaches have to design plays for him down there and they don't. They need to steal what Pittsburgh does with Heath Miller.
I read an article where Mr. Jones said Parnell is a guy who they like and believe he can be a good tackle. Then why don't they give him a shot?
Todd Archer (1:37 PM)
Jerry might say it, but I don't know if the coaches agree. Let's say Parnell did play and wasn't very good, well, then people will say Jerry is awful and is not letting the coaches coach. Parnell might be an option but if Free wasn't replaced during the Philly game, then I don't see Parnell getting a look. Unless there is an injury.
Does Johnny Manziel deserve the Heisman? Why didn't the COwboys sign Holland in the summer?
Todd Archer (1:39 PM)
I'd vote for him. I like the Notre Dame kid too and Te'o will get a lot of looks. What helped Manziel is that once everybody focused on a player, the guy had a bad game (Geno Smith, Colin Klein). Manziel's best game was at Alabama, which everybody saw. As for Holland, they felt the price was too high. They didn't want to give him more money if he started a certain amount of games. Might've been a mistake.
I Agree that the Line is big part of struggles and not having murray really hurt but play calling has also been bad especially in redzone we dont attack middle or throw fade to Bryant who should be a jumpball monster and they never have used witten right near goaline....thoughts?
Todd Archer (1:40 PM)
How can you say they don't throw the fade? Bryant's touchdown vs. Washington was a back shoulder throw. His TD vs. Philly was on a smoke throw. He's been used quite a bit in the red zone. As for Witten, I don't get why he's not a major target down there and it's been that way for years.
miles austin looked to be running well last week? any news on his injury status?
Todd Archer (1:41 PM)
He's practicing and didn't seem to be in pain after the Eagles' game. I'd expect him to be good to go Sunday.
Wouldn't moving Doug Free to guard make sense? Maybe not this year but moving forward? He was always sold as being extremely athletic for a tackle. He just doesn't looks strong enough to hold up the edge on the right side.
Todd Archer (1:43 PM)
If he's not strong enough to hold up outside, how would be be able to hold up inside against bigger, stronger players?
It seems like the Cowboys are playing an excessive amount of zone coverage, is this due to the revolving door at safety? If so, does that become a top priority in the off season, or do they still feel pretty good about Church, and Matt Johnson, once they get them back to being healthy?
Todd Archer (1:44 PM)
As for the scheme, could be. I don't know. But they like Church and Johnson. Church is coming off an Achilles injury and that will take time. I think they believe Johnson really has a chance considering how they kept him around for so long being hurt. We never really saw anything from him because he didn't practice in camp.
Do you think either Austin, Free, or Ratliff might take a pay cut? I know Gurode didn't.
Todd Archer (1:45 PM)
Players seem to be willing to take less from somebody else than to stay where they're at. It all depends on the structure of any changes to their deals.
Derrin (Plano, TX)
Willl the Cowboys get over the hump and earn a playoff spot this year? Or is Dallas just playing with their fans emotions as usual?
Todd Archer (1:46 PM)
Be ready to have your emotions played with. These last four are tough. I can see them losing all four more than I can see them winning all four. I think you'll see them finish 8-8 again. Don't hate me.
Todd Archer (1:47 PM)
Thanks for all of the questions. Good stuff today. See you guys again next week.Courage.