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 (1:01 PM)
Hello, everybody. Let's chat.
Todd, do you see the Boys' winning the next 2 games?
Todd Archer (1:02 PM)
Let's start with what matters most. I don't. I don't see them winning this week against New Orleans. The Saints offense will present different challenges to this re-made defense than the other offenses they have faced. And by different I mean better players and the ability to get the ball down the field. A loss Sunday does not eliminate the Cowboys, but it would hurt a lot obviously.
Morice (Virginia Beach, VA)
Which guy on the D-line do you believe will step up the last two games because of Ware's limitations at the moment?
Todd Archer (1:04 PM)
They need them all the play at a high level, not just one guy. Hatcher has done a nice job of late after kind of just "meh" play for the middle chunk of the season. Let's see if that sack helps get Lissemore going. One guy who I thought played well in limited work last week was Brian Schaefering. He's a big, strong guy.
Will Charlie Peprah be back this week?
Todd Archer (1:06 PM)
I can't say for sure he will be back but the hope is there. They knew he wouldn't play vs. Pittsburgh but he is on the practice field today so that's a good sign. I wrote this yesterday, but I think they have missed Peprah because it has meant more snaps for Danny McCray.
Morice (Virginia Beach, VA)
This move always puzzled me: Why did dallas put matt johnson on the designated for return list? Do the Cowboys really believe he'll get healthy for the playoffs should dallas clinch a spot or can we say it was a dumb move?
Todd Archer (1:07 PM)
The move in itself hasn't hurt anything, really, but they must have seen something in the limited practice work to give them hope. I have to double check, but I don't think he can play in the regular season. He can return to practice next week but not play.
raul (rio grande city)
Todd, Dallas tried to draft a RB last year but the guy from A&M got taken a couple of spots ahead of them...do you think that will be the case again this year? a RB in the 4 or 5th round?
Todd Archer (1:08 PM)
They're going to need a runner to go along with Murray next year. I just can't see Felix Jones back, unless it's a one-year deal at the minimum. I'd take a runner in the middle rounds, but I'd also look at a low-cost veteran in free agency just because of Murray's health. They will need to protect themselves and perhaps with more than just a mid-round pick.
Dan (Hbg, PA)
Spencer playing great lately. Think he gets a big payday to stay in Dallas?
Todd Archer (1:10 PM)
I'm starting to wonder if he is playing himself out of the Cowboys' budget in 2013. They can franchise him again for $10 million or so, but that's a big cap number when they're going to be tight against the cap. He's been terrific, their best defensive player from Week 1 to now. I think people have seen his whole game and not just lamented the sacks. Is he a Pro Bowler?
John T. Gold (Salt Lake City)
Who out of the players filling in for injuries has the biggest upside and can make a major contribution next year?
Todd Archer (1:11 PM)
Good question. I like Sterling Moore. I don't know that he is a future starter, but he can be a sub package guy and play a lot. He's impressed me. I like Frampton as a special teamer and spot player on defense. I mentioned the Schaefering guy earlier, but I don't want to go overboard on seeing only 12 snaps.
Do you think our offense will be able to move the ball down field and finish drives against the Saints defense?
Todd Archer (1:13 PM)
It better. To me, the Cowboys are going to have to score 30-plus this week to win it. They've been much more efficient on offense in recent weeks. Dez Bryant has been playing great, so has Tony Romo. Murray's return has helped obviously. But they're going to have to out-score the Saints, if that makes sense, because I don't see the defense getting a ton of stops.
Has anyone asked JG if he ever had any intention of having Dan Bailey kick that 60+ yard fg, or if he gambled and hit on the idea of "stealing" a timeout from the Mike Tomlin making those final seconds even shorter? Just trying to decide if that was his greatest coaching move of the season.
Todd Archer (1:14 PM)
Oh, they thought about it for sure. They were a yard away from their last-gasp kick if they were trailing. But they thought better of it. The wind was a factor Sunday inside the stadium. What's funny is that Bailey slammed the KO through the uprights to start overtime. But you're right, wise move not to take the FG try there because a miss and the Steelers would've been able to make one play and get a kick of their own.
Todd,Dallas can push 4.2 million into 2014 by marking Free a post June 1st cut (Hatcher is the only worthwhile FA in 2014).That will save them 7 million for 2013. Extend Romo saves another 7 or so I'm sure.Carr counts 16 next year so there is a restructure coming I'm sure.Re-sign Spencer!Dallas needs to find a OT in free agency and perhaps Ed Reed as a stop gap at FS and inexpensive at age 34. Still would be better than Sensabaugh.Draft another pass rusher and a guard and they will be looking great!Thoughts?
Todd Archer (1:18 PM)
You're close on the numbers there, but when you do the June 1 cut, you don't gain that money right away. You only gain it against the cap in June even if the player is gone, so it's not as easy as many think. Yes, re-sign Spencer. I'm not going after a tackle in free agency. I'm looking in the draft. This team has to start finding their own guys to build with. As for the safety position, I don't get why people are so down on Sensabaugh. He's solid. Ed Reed won't tackle anymore. I'm not going there. Safety is not a prominent position to me. I think Sensabaugh is good enough to win with.
Maybe I'm higher on the guy than most, but watching the Thanksgiving game I liked what I saw out of Cole Beasley. Does he have decent potential for this team a la the "Poor man's Wes Welker comparisons" I've heard a couple times?
Todd Archer (1:20 PM)
Everybody makes the comparison, but to me it's not a real good one. Welker is two inches taller and has a thicker build. He can withstand the slot and play outside. I don't see Beasley, who weighs 177 pounds, playing outside at a high enough level. He's a niche player, to me. Welker isn't. That's the big difference. I don't say that to slam Beasley because I think he can be a valuable contributor inside with his quickness.
Brent (St. Paul)
Did you have the Cowboys beating the Steelers?
Todd Archer (1:20 PM)
I had the Steelers winning, so you should feel good about me picking the Saints this week.
Vinnie Vinci (Laurence Harbor, New Jersey)
Todd , Could you please tell me why Dallas is getting caught with 12 men on defense over and over again. Pop Warner kids can get it right why can't the Cowboys?????????
Todd Archer (1:22 PM)
It's a coaching issue. There's too much confusion on the sidelines. I do think Rob Ryan's emotion gets in the way sometimes and that leads to the mixups.
Todd,With all due respect, your prediction of a Dallas loss this week is ridiculous. You do realize the Saints are 6-8 and Looked awful against the Giants and Falcons and have a Defense that will get Torched by the Cowboys on Sunday. Please explain to me your logic on the Saints winning?
Todd Archer (1:24 PM)
I saw them put 41 on the board last week. I see a secondary that doesn't much up well with that offense. The Bengals dropped passes two weeks ago. Roethlisberger missed open guys last week. I see Lance Moore having a big day. I see Jimmy Graham having a big day. I picked a 33-30 score, so it's not like I'm giving the Cowboys no chance. Sounds pretty logical to me.
rey (SoxSide, Chi Town)
What is Rafliff's recovery time? Any way he is back in case the Skins game is a win and your in situation?
Todd Archer (1:26 PM)
He won't play again in the regular season. It's a 3-6 week recovery. Earliest he could be back would be the playoffs and, to me, that's even a stretch. Steve in Atlanta wants to know what I think of Ratliff's future, so I'll do that here, too: I don't think he has one here. Not at that price with his age and lack of production. The argument won't have much to do with it, I don't think. It won't help, but they just need to look at his production and the cost.
cowboys although win (mexico)
doug free should go next season, what do you think
Todd Archer (1:27 PM)
I think that will happen but since they have gone to the rotation with Jermey Parnell the last two games, Free has played better. Makes you wonder why they didn't do it sooner. Free has ability but he's just lost his technique and confidence. But like Ratliff that's a big price to pay a player if he's not producing.
Todd,Well then the 7 saved from Free's release can be saved as the pool for the drafted players with a few million left over for a late signing. Perhaps that cheap vet RB you mentioned.I mentioned FA Tackle just bc they drafted one in R1 two years ago.Loadholt from Minn, Andre Smith from Cinn, Cherilus from Det, and Vollmer from NE are all due to come free. Doesn't mean they all will, but, I'd make my #1 priority at any of them in FA and would be Munoz compared to Free!What's your feeling on Ratliff's future especially after the "argument"?
Todd Archer (1:29 PM)
You're talking big money (relatively) for those tackles. I'd rather go with Parnell and draft a guy early. Remember, this team has players they will want to sign to deals coming up, like Lee and Bryant.
Well, it's still the elephant in the room I think, so maybe bears asking. With what's happened the past few weeks and the turnaround, has Jason Garrett saved his job or is Sean Payton still in the mix for coaching this team next year? Could that all hinge on what happens the next two weeks and a playoff visit?
Todd Archer (1:33 PM)
This is the Sean Payton Bowl this week, you're right. I've said that the only coach worth getting if you're not keeping Garrett is Payton. I don't see Payton leaving New Orleans, even if there is this nice leverage game going on. If you're asking me right now who is the coach, regardless of what happens the last two weeks, I'd say Garrett. He's shown strength and leadership here during the Jerry Brown tragedy. How he's trying to put this program together is the right way. Patience could serve the Cowboys well.
Todd, So your saying because they beat a 6-8 Tampa Bay team which by the way lost to the Eagles a week prior, you think the Saints will win Sunday? Brees handles pressure worse than Roethlisberger and they sacked him 4 times.
Todd Archer (1:37 PM)
Look, I can't see the future. It's what I think will happen. Yes, I believe New Orleans offense is better than the Dallas defense.
Well there will be one big splash in FA IMO. OT and Safety are the 2 positions that are looking abundant right now. What if any of these pending safeties hit the market as they are FA's:Jairus Byrd FS Buffalo Louis Delmas FS Detroit Dashon Goldson FS San Francisco Kenny Phillips FS New York Ed Reed FS Baltimore Would Sensabaugh still be the guy to keep? Byrd looks great the past 2 yrs
Todd Archer (1:40 PM)
Will any of those guys be available? Cowboys could've had Goldson two years ago and passed. Now he's two years older. If you're going after a free agent and paying him large dollars, let it be a young guy. But again, Sensabaugh is fine. You can't pay every spot. They put their money at cornerback. They will put more money at linebacker with Spencer and Lee. They won't spend big on the D-line either. I don't see them doing a Brandon Carr-type deal in free agency. I say that on Dec. 19 knowing things change, but I just don't see it right now.
I think even aside from Lee and Bryant, the Cowboys have to start looking further (in terms of years) for salary cap implications. It seems they always rely on restructuring deals and sacrificing future flexibility. Lee, Bryant, Spencer, Romo and even Witten, who is underpaid, may need new deals. Not to mention free agent acquisitions and draft money. They can't pay them all, but their drafting abilities make it seem that they can't let their best players go.
Todd Archer (1:42 PM)
Witten just signed an extension last year. He's not getting a new deal. Romo will get a deal this offseason. They want to sign Spencer but his price might get too high. They will have tough decisions the next few years with the cap and they better draft better.
They will only save 1 million if they cut Ratliff. That's why I think he goes 1 more year. they will draft a big NT somewhere between 2-4 to replace Brent and succeed Rat in 2014. IMO
Todd Archer (1:42 PM)
Then make Ratliff another June 1 guy. You get two June 1 exemptions. But $1 million is enough for me.
Do you think the bend but dont break defense will work against the Saints? Should Ryan decide to dial up exotic blitzes more? Because I feel like if you give Brees the time, he will beat you every time.
Todd Archer (1:48 PM)
Last one, folks. Have to get back to writing. Thanks for all of the questions. I'm not dialing up blitzes on Brees. Too many holes for him to exploit. I'd rather play it safe and see if they can dink and dunk down the field. That's how Ryan has been most of the year. Why change now?
Todd Archer (1:49 PM)
Thanks for the questions. We'll do it again next week for sure. Thoughts and prayers to everyone in Newtown, Conn., and a Merry Christmas to everyone. See you soon. Courage.