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)
I'm ready to go for this week's chat. What do you guys have for me?
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What will the Dallas Cowboys do to Improve from the Stinky week 4 Game against the Bears?
Todd Archer (1:00 PM)
Hopefully play better in all three phases of the game, as Jason Garrett likes to say. The most important thing is protecting the ball. They can't turn it over. If they do, it's a long game.
Ian (ATL, GA)
I know the Line is struggling but wouldn't a commitment to running the ball regardless of early success really help this team?? Why does Garrett abandon the run so early when his team is not averaging 5 ypr, or when his team is down by 10 pts? It will help Romo out a ton and it will also help keep turnovers down once they get in the Redzone. Sometimes a FG is not bad compared to a strip sack or an INT that has seemed to happen A LOT in the redzone recently!
Todd Archer (1:02 PM)
I struggle with this but I will acknowledge Garrett does not stick with the run enough, especially on the road. But that being said, if you can move the ball with the shorter passing game, what's the difference. A lot of people bring up the Cowboys record when DeMarco Murray runs the ball 20 times or more in a game. Wel, if it's that simple just hand him the ball on the first 20 plays of the game. It's not that simple. You have to take into account so many things during a game. KC ran all over Baltimore last week and scored 6 points and lost.
eric (long beach cali)
Since Michael irvin and drew pearson made the number 88 famous because they were clutch in big games (playoffs) , do you think its premature for drew to say dez hasn't earned it yet? im pretty sure dez numbers are better then both of those guys in his 1st 2 years
Todd Archer (1:03 PM)
His numbers are better because of the time he's playing in. But I don't think it's premature to call Dez a disappointment at all. If he had huge numbers, we'd say he's a Hall of Famer. Look, this is who he is. He will make the incredibly athletic play look easy and he will mess up some of the easiest things.
why waste a roster spot on another runningback, when they can try claiborne at returner to see with he can do? why are they so hesitant to use him? I dont get it
Todd Archer (1:06 PM)
In camp they had Claiborne return some kicks and he didn't look comfortable catching the ball. Maybe it was his wrist injury, but he didn't look that smooth. I don't mind them giving Dunbar a look because we know Felix Jones just can't do it. Four tailbacks on the roster is a lot, I agree, but it's not an unheard of move.
how much more can this OL improve? outside of smith, do any of these guys have an upside?
Todd Archer (1:08 PM)
I think they can get better and not just because they can't get worse. I think the more time the play together things will improve. Livings has been OK. He's a serviceable player. Bernadeau has been a disappointment. Clearly Free has not played well. I say this in all seriousness: how many great lines are there? Is there a really good line in the NFC East?
Will Danny Mccray be the starter at Safety for the rest of the season?
Todd Archer (1:08 PM)
It looks that way unless Matt Johnson can develop in a hurry, which I think is a stretch.
Frank (Atlanta GA)
Why did the cowboys pass on JJ Watt? I know we needed a Left Tackle but we also needed defensive lineman because bowen left and hatcher was always a backup until last year
Todd Archer (1:10 PM)
Well, what's more valuable, a left tackle of a 3-4 defensive end? I'd say left tackle even with how well Watt is playing. I don't want to take a thing away from him because he's the defensive MVP so far, but I hate this kind of second guessing. Nobody said this last year.
Its funny how teams pass on there own players in free agency, so why did the cowboys feel they can get something out of nate livings and bernadeau that there former teams couldnt
Todd Archer (1:11 PM)
Then why sign any free agents? This team wouldn't have had Deion Sanders, La'Roi Glover or even Terrell Owens if you want to go there. Livings has not been a problem. Bernadeau hasn't been good enough. But let's not act like they spent the world on these guys either.
Hey Todd with the Cowboys getting some key players back (Costa, Ratliff) on both sides of the ball could we finally see Dallas play to their potential like we seen week 1 in NY?
Todd Archer (1:12 PM)
Well, I think it's funny thast Costa is looked at as a solution when everybody said he was part of the problem last year. He knows the calls better. He and Romo know what they're seeing better. Things could get better but there are some physical limitations there too. As for Ratliff I think his biggest impact will be in the pass game.
Frank (A Dark Place)
If the season were to end today what position (or specifically what player) would Dallas Target in the draft and possibly improve this team? My pick would be offensive line. Thanks Todd!
Todd Archer (1:13 PM)
A specific name? Not going there because I can't tell you who will even be eligible for the draft. I'll stick with positions: offensive line (early in the draft), safety, quarterback (for the future, not as a sign Romo is gone).
Mike (Bethlehem, PA)
Is there any hope for Ronald Leary to develop into a good NFL OG? The pre-season reports seemed to indicate his athleticism and power were not at issue but his technique was a disaster. Considering he was a LT at Memphis, is there reason to believe a year (or two) under Bill Callahan can fix his technique and turn him into the prospect the team thought/thinks he is?
Todd Archer (1:15 PM)
I had higher expectations for him in camp. He leveled off over the summer and just never got better. I think he wore out a little. They view him as a prospect that can develop into a player one day. We'll see but it's hard to have grat hope considering how this franchise has done in developing offensive linemen over the years.
Cd,wv [via mobile]
Dez is supose to be as gifted as anyone out there, but why do we not see alot of short hot routs that he doesnt have to think about let him win one on one at line of scrimage
Todd Archer (1:16 PM)
They throw him a lot of "smoke" routes. They get him on the move with slants and crossing routes. He was supposed to run a hitch on that pick-six by Tillman. They do enough to get him the ball, IMO. He's just not special yet and I don't know if he will ever be special.
Danny Hacker (Lansing IL)
Will Jason Wittin get back on track for a second straight game vs the Ravens?
Todd Archer (1:16 PM)
He's a lot healthier for sure, so that helps. I think he'll be a big part of the plan as Romo works around his turnover issues.
Is it me or does Ogletree seem like the more productive player thanDez at this point?
Todd Archer (1:17 PM)
Oh, I wouldn't go there. Ogletree had a crucial mistake against Chicago too, letting that slant get into his hands and bouncing up in the air for an interception. Ogletree has been what you want as a No. 3 but he doesn't have Dez's big-play ability. Hey, I said something good about Dez.
Ubersamoyed (Frisco, Tx)
Holiday was just released by texans, should dallas take a look?
Todd Archer (1:18 PM)
Why not? But I saw the guy drop the football, too, so you have to be careful of just getting enamored with the highlights.
Steven (Chicago, IL)
The Cowboys have already gone through some tough defenses. Romo and Austin so far this season seem to consistently keep finding chemistry throughout these tough defenses. Will they be able to keep up this connection/chemistry against the Ravens?
Todd Archer (1:20 PM)
I don't know why it wouldn't continue. I think the Cowboys need to design more things for Austin because he is more reliable. I mentioned this on the radio today: I'd like to see Cole Beasley get some work in the slot and keep Austin outside more. I don't know if he has all of his quickness and burst because of the hamstring issue. He was going through rehab today as practice began.
why is it...a team can hire a new coach and correct so many problems without the benefit of an offseason then continue to improve during said coaches second season, while the cowboys continue to struggle with the same problems season after season?
Todd Archer (1:22 PM)
Are you talking about San Francisco? I asked earlier about the good lines in the NFL and I would say San Fran might have the best. They are big and athletic and that's a good combo. The easy answer to your question is a combination of reasons: not enough good players, not enough good coaching. But we all know the constant here (Jerry) and while I don't think things will ever change, if a Jones' business was ever this average to mediocre over such a long period, then he would make changes.
Will Mike Jenkins get more playing time this week, especially if claiborne struggles again?
Todd Archer (1:23 PM)
I don't think it will come at the expense of Claiborne. Health could be an issue with Claiborne playing on a gimpy knee, but I think you'll see Jenkins play in the sub packages going forward.
Mike (Bethlehem, PA)
Looking back on the 2011 draft, would you take Tyron Smith or JJ Watt? As incredible as Watt is, I'd still go with Smith. Without Smith, our OTs ate Free and Parnell (there was not a lot of quality OTs in that draft). Without Watt, we still have Lissemore and Hatcher. OT was a much bigger needed even though Watt is currently the better player. Also, isn't it unfair to compare the 2 at this point since Smith is 2 years younger? In 2 years, a 23 year old Smith may be a dominant LT. Jerry made the right move IMO. What do you think?
Todd Archer (1:23 PM)
I kind of made this point earlier, but Mike said it better than me so I'll just post his question.
The Cowboys need to get the running game going. How do you think they are going to improve this part of the game plan? And what do you think their plans are for Felix Jones?
Todd Archer (1:27 PM)
I mentioned this on our blog Tuesday: I'd forget the power game and just try to spread teams out. That's where DeMarco Murray has had his most success. His best run this year came on a busted play. As for Felix, I don't see him in the plan. He hasn't earned it. He had a bad training camp, bad preseason and bad start to the regular season. Why should he get more carries?
Shawn Wright (Dallas, TX)
Is the Cowboys bad play on Romo's shoulders alone?
Todd Archer (1:29 PM)
Of course not. It's on everybody. Now, he can't make some of the mistakes he's made. The two biggest mistakes of the year have been the turnovers in which he's stepped up in the pocket and attempted to flip the ball forward againt Tampa and Chicago. Those came on first and second down and the Cowboys were in FG range. Just take the sack and live for the next day. But the line has a huge part in the bad play. The defense has been better but doesn't take the ball away. It's everything, not just Romo.
This next 5 game stretch is brutal, Ravens, Panthers, Falcons, Eagles and Giants. What is the record Dallas needs to achieve during this stretch to save their season?
Todd Archer (1:31 PM)
I guess you could say 2-3 would keep them in the running with three straight home games against Cleveland, Washington and Philadelphia. This is a pivotal game this Sunday. To me it's exactly like a year ago when they went to New England. They played better but lost and it was a up and down 8-8 season. If they can beat the Ravens at home, I think that would be a major confidence boost to this team.
Do you see Dunbar being called up a sign that Felix could be a game day inactive?
Todd Archer (1:32 PM)
I don't want to go there yet, but if Felix isn't returning kicks or covering kicks and gets only a couple of carries a game, what good is he on the gameday roster? Maybe that day comes someday just not this week.
is there anyway you can hide a bad offensive line?
Todd Archer (1:33 PM)
Hide? No. Help? Yes. Make it easier on them up front. I know it's not this easy, but in some ways just say, 'Block the guy in front of you,' in the running game. With the pass protection, they can actually spread it out more and run a lot of quick throws. That's what the Patriots do and they don't have an upper-echelon line.
Which receiver should the cowboys worry about more? and who should cover him?
Todd Archer (1:34 PM)
Torrey Smith is the big play guy. Big plays have killed the Cowboys in the past. Anquan Boldin is dangerous, too, and in some ways Flacco's security blanket. But if I'm going to die, I'd rather die a slow death and take Smith away.
Why did romo change agents????
Todd Archer (1:35 PM)
He's still with the same agency. His former agent, Ken Kremer, is moving into a different line of work. He's now represented by R.J. Gonser, who has been with CAA for years.
Daryl Reid (Jersey City)
Will Spencer be back beyond this year, as we see his value now?
Todd Archer (1:36 PM)
Great question, Daryl. Something else to think about too is that Victor Butler is a free agent after this season so the Cowboys would be in a numbers' crunch at OLB. I think they want to keep Spencer around long term but not at astronomical prices. They can't do a deal with him until after the season but right now I'd say he's their priority.
When you see Rodgers, Eli and others face pressure they either take the sack or throw it out of bounds. Why do you believe that Romo forces the issues like he does?
Todd Archer (1:37 PM)
Another great question. He believes he can make so many things happen and a lot of times it does work. Look at the TD in the Giants game to Austin as an example. He needs to find that balance he had last year after the Lions' game. Of this team's issues, I wouldn't put Romo near the top.
Jerry Jones (Dallas)
OK Mr. Archer. Since you're so smart, why don't you enlighten me on how I can revive this franchise from the state of mediocrity we are currenlty in?
Todd Archer (1:43 PM)
Hey, Jerry, thanks for taking the time to check in on the chat. It's too easy to say "bring in a football guy" because in some ways I believe you are a football guy. You've been doing it for 24 years now. You always say you have people who evaluate your team from the outside. Well, I'd get rid of them and trust the people in your building more. Those people seem to keep telling you just how great everybody is and they can't believe you guys don't have more success. I think they're telling you what they think you want to hear. I'd bring in some outside guy to help run the show. Does he need a GM title? No, but give him some authority. Does that help?
Whos the highest paid cowboy on the roster?
Todd Archer (1:45 PM)
Depends on how you want to calculate it, I guess, but Brandon Carr has the most cash on hand this year at a little more than $11 million. If you're going by the cap, it's Romo now that Ware has re-worked his deal.
Do you think other quarterback like Eli, big ben, rodger etc ..would get the more out the cowboys talent on offense than romo?
Todd Archer (1:45 PM)
Not really. They'd struggle behind the line, too.
Jerry Jones (Dallas)
Todd, yes that does help. Is your resume up to date?
Todd Archer (1:46 PM)
Give me a few minutes and I'll get it done.
what would happen to the team if they finished the season 5-11 or 6-10?
Todd Archer (1:46 PM)
They would miss the playoffs again. But, honestly, not much more than just changing some players, some coaches but not major changes.
Ricky (Rochester, NY)
How much say does Romo have when it comes to play calling? There was talk about tempo hurting this team, do you see any changes or will it be the same 2 plays at a time, slow huddle, clock burning scheme?
Todd Archer (1:47 PM)
I think he has a little say with suggestions, but this is Garrett's baby.
Todd, call me crazy, but with the inconsistency of the entire division combined with the tough strength of schedule. If Dallas can string together a small winning streak they can be a contender. Do you agree? Also tell Calvin to add a fan segment to a episode of "The Boys as well.
Todd Archer (1:48 PM)
One thing Cowboys fans need to remember is that this is the NFL of today. You don't have to be the best team over 16 games. You're right, Josh, you need to string a few wins together, no matter how ugly they are, and play better in December. That's the formula nowadays. Calvin doesn't have a Twitter time segment? I'll tell him to add a segment but he doesn't listen to anybody. Just kidding.
Dez is taking alot of heat at the moment and rightly so. Living in Atlanta and watching Julio Jones only further infuriates me while watching Dez. I see similar freaky skill sets. Since it hasn't happened yet is it possible...scratch that...plausible that it will click for Dez during the year and we see him start to inch toward his potential and expectations???
Todd Archer (1:49 PM)
Hope isn't a strategy. I think this is what he is. He'll have some great moments and some not so great moments, but not approach the kind of numbers Julio Kones puts up.
Todd Archer (1:50 PM)
Thanks for all of the questions. Good stuff. I'll be back next week for more. Remember to check out the blog for updates. If you have more questions, send me an e-mail or follow me on Twitter (@toddarcher). See you guys next week. Courage.