Chat with Todd Archer
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN NFL Nation Dallas Cowboys reporter Todd Archer drops by to chat and answer all of your Cowboys questions.
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 Wednesday at noon ET!
Todd Archer (10:59 AM)
Thanks for stopping by everybody. Let's see where this goes. Hopefully this becomes a weekly fixture in the offseason.
is dline in first round of draft a must or can they wait and possibly go safety in round 1
Todd Archer (11:01 AM)
Defensive line is their top need, but if there isn't a tackle or end available at 16 or 17 in the first round, then I wouldn't force it. You can never go wrong by trusting your board. You might not always be right and get the best player, but you stuck to your scouting process and take away some of the chance involved. Safety is a good thought, too, but I might go offensive line there if that's how the board falls.
Ed (Queens Village)
Do you see a lot of Cowboys fans traveling to London in November?
Todd Archer (11:03 AM)
I do. The Cowboys are the biggest draw in the NFL even if they haven't had the on-field success lately. Fans complain about the amount of opposing fans at AT&T Stadium, but there are always a large amount of Cowboys fans when they play on the road. It's not out of the norm for them to make enough noise to make it difficult for the home team. I think you'll see a lot of Cowboys fans at Wembley next November. The game is already sold out.
Mike P (Greater Kc Metro)
Would a team like the Cowboys and a city like dallas be able to accept Michael Sam if he is drafted or would Michael Sam be a bigger distraction than needed and take away from the "circus" that is Jerry Jones, Tony Romo, Jason Garrett
Todd Archer (11:07 AM)
I don't like the term "circus" when this subject comes up. Will there be great attention on Sam wherever he goes? Sure there will, but once it becomes about football everything will be normal. The question should be about his ability and not his lifestyle. Because of the Cowboys' profile, I think they could handle the attention. Despite the protestations of those who have never set a foot inside the locker room, they do have solid leadership. There are cliques but every team has cliques. The Cowboys get along well and I think they'd be able to deal with the attention. The real question for the Cowboys is evaluating where Sam would fit in this defense. He could be a good late-round pickup as a situational pass rusher. When you get later in the draft, you want guys with special skills. He showed he can get to the quarterback and the Cowboys need those kinds of guys.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What does the Dallas Cowboys need to Address in the 2014 NFL Draft?
Todd Archer (11:10 AM)
The easy answer is everything. Ok, maybe not a tight end in the second round. But this is a team that can use help at every position. I would put defensive line first, second and third, then safety, offensive line, quarteback, linebacker and wide receiver. I know I said follow the board, but I would break all ties with the defense.
Do you think Mo can compete for his starting job back?
Todd Archer (11:17 AM)
Jason Garrett has shown he will play the best guy. He did it last year with Scandrick over Claiborne. He benched Mackenzy Bernadeau and Bruce Carter at different times. When Bernadeau returned to the lineup, he played well. Carter never really got going. This is a huge year for Claiborne. He has to show why the Cowboys traded up to get him. He hasn't done much yet. Some of it is health related, but even when he's been healthy he's been suspect. For the sake of the defense he needs to up his level of play even if he is the third corner. Remember, he'd still play 65 percent of the snaps in most games.
Bryan (Springdale, AR) [via mobile]
This team needs some more physicality in the secondary; this team needs Clinton-Dix if he's there when the Cowboys pick at 16 or 17. We'd have one if the toughest pairs of safeties in the league. Thoughts?
Todd Archer (11:19 AM)
He's the popular pick right now. I'd rather have a safety who can make plays on the ball and cover. I might be in the minority here, but I think Barry Church is solid enough. He's a good open field tackler. He's smart. They need that other safety though. I'm not sure J.J. Wilcox develops into that guy. Jeff Heath struggled but what would you expect from an undrafted free agent from such a small school? I think there's something there to work with but he got thrown into the fire too quickly.
It has been since Deion Sanders that we have had a good secondary. When is this going to be corrected? Is it THAT hard to evaluate CB's and safeties?
Todd Archer (11:21 AM)
You can't say they haven't tried. They drafted Roy Williams in the first round and paid him a big contract. They gave Ken Hamlin a big deal after he made the Pro Bowl. Neither one of those contracts worked out. They drafted Terence Newman in the first round as well as Mike Jenkins and traded up to get Mo Claiborne. They signed Anthony Henry and Brandon Carr to big-time contracts. They've tried but the results have not always worked out ... or still are in the process of working out. It should not be that hard to evaluate corners and safeties but switching schemes and having corners with certain attributes playing a different style might not have been the smartest decision.
Todd Archer (11:21 AM)
Good question there, Happy.
Will (West VA)
if the elbow injury was a problem for two years why is demarcus just now getting surgery on it?
Todd Archer (11:23 AM)
He tried to rest it last year after undergoing his shoulder surgery. They thought that was the best route. If he had the elbow surgery last year it might have prolonged his rehab from the shoulder surgery. He recently had it looked at again and they found this nerve issue. It's the same problem Larry Allen had corrected after the 2001 season and he was fine. Ware will be ready for the offseason program that starts April 21, so he won't miss anything.
This is a deep WR draft do you see the cowboys getting one at some point in the first 3 rounds?
Todd Archer (11:27 AM)
I can see that as a possibility but only if there is a clear difference in quality between the receiver and, say, the help they need on defense. But receiver is a need. I don't think we'll see Miles Austin back in 2014, so that bumps Terrance Williams up a notch. After Williams the Cowboys don't have a receiver who could take over as a No. 2 should something happen to Williams or Dez Bryant. I just don't see Cole Beasley as anything other than a slot player. A real good slot player, but still a slot player. And Dwayne Harris is more of a No. 3 or 3.5. I like him but I think he has some limitations.
Chris Ricci(Austin, TX) [via mobile]
Can Terence Williams handle the duties of a second receiver? Not sure what to think of him. Can he ever become a star?
Todd Archer (11:29 AM)
I believe Williams can handle it. He did it for a good spell as a rookie as Austin dealt with his hamstring issues. He grew as a receiver throughout the year. He's got something to him and the quarterback grew to trust him. He still has strides to make. I'd like to see him catch the ball better with his hands instead of his body. But he works at it. Will he be a star? I don't know that he needs to be a star. That's kind of a problem for the Cowboys front office and fans. The talk is always about "stars." What's wrong with being really productive?
Travis (NJ) [via mobile]
Why did the cowboys play Heath over Wilcox so much last year? Wilcox got hurt but when he came back he should of started. I thought he was the better player by far.
Todd Archer (11:31 AM)
Clearly the coaches disagreed with you. I don't think Wilcox ever did enough to take the job back on a full-time basis. We don't get to see practice during the season but if he practiced better, they would have played him more. My concern with Wilcox was how he played in space. A lot of his plays in camp, the preseason and even early in the season came in the red zone where everything is condensed. Don't get me wrong, that's not a bad thing, but I think with the field spread he struggled to see everything. He was making a big jump from Georgia Southern and is new to the position. I'm not giving up on him by any stretch but I'm not ready to pronounce him a Week 1 starter either.
Daryl (Jersey City)
What changes will Marnelli bring to the defense in your opinion?
Todd Archer (11:33 AM)
I wrote a post about this on Tuesday. Here's the link: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas-cowboys/post/_/id/4724359/a-look-at-rod-marinellis-scheme My initial feeling is that we won't see much difference in what the Cowboys do. To me, Marinelli was pretty vanilla when he was running Chicago's defense. The biggest thing with any scheme is players. The Cowboys need more players to run not only this scheme but any scheme and they need their better players to play better.
Antwassaname Twitterland, MD [via mobile]
Could the Cowboys afford to resign Spence AND go into FA and grab WR Emmanuel Sanders?
Todd Archer (11:35 AM)
I think Sanders will be too pricey. And I think he would want to go somewhere where he is the locked in starter. Here I don't know that would be the case. Since New England signed him as a restricted free agent last year only to see Pittsburgh match the offer, I would think the Patriots make another run at him. As for Spencer, I think there is a chance the Cowboys sign him. It will be on short money, however, coming off that knee injury. And he might think this is the best spot for him to have a "make good" season because the coaches here know him the best.
Do you think the cowboys should change there draft philosophy and pick more tough guys instead of these good character guys that can't play?
Todd Archer (11:36 AM)
I think they need to draft more talented players. I don't think "character" is the top trait they're looking for. I believe it's talent. I think you're asking if they have too many nice guys. I don't know. You can have some "bad guys" on your team but not just a ton of bad guys because they can overtake a locker room.
Any thoughts on maybe moving Brandon Carr to full time Free Safety and starting Mo and Scan at CB?
Todd Archer (11:37 AM)
You have to be physical to play safety and be a willing tackler. I'm not sure we've seen Carr be that guy here enough to say he can or should make the switch.
Danny(Miami) [via mobile]
Any chance cowboys explore a witten trade? I love the guy he's a class act but I think if we could get a second rounder or maybe a first it's better to trade him now then when he really declines
Todd Archer (11:39 AM)
I wouldn't rule anything out, but I don't think they explore it. If somebody wants to call them, I think they would listen. Still, they would have to be blown away. To me the Cowboys have been able to withstand the losses of receivers like Austin for longer and Bryant for shorter stretches in part because of Witten. For all that Witten has done, I don't think he gets enough appreciation for how the passing game goes.
Can Lance dunbar handle a bigger role on offense, because i believe that murrays hurt so much because of his workload and the cowboys have no one behind him they trust?
Todd Archer (11:40 AM)
If Murray is always hurt, then what is Dunbar? He was hurt at the start of the season with a foot injury, in the middle with a hamstring injury and at the end with his knee injury. I like Dunbar but I wouldn't bank on him being the No. 2 guy for a full season. I like Randle. I think he can be a good fill in.
Thomas (New York)
With Doug Free and Jeremy Parnell heading into the last year of their deals, shouldn't OT be high on the list of needs? Cowboys always seem to be a year late to draft replacements (ex: 2013 DL, 2012 G/C), so if T is highest on the board at 16/17, even if its close with a defensive lineman, shouldn't they take the T?
Todd Archer (11:42 AM)
Thomas, you make a great point. Too often people believe the draft is just for the upcoming season and not for the next three or four seasons. Or in this case the next two. That's why I would consider going with a lineman in the first round. To me, Notre Dame's Zack Martin is an intriguing candidate. He can play guard as a rookie and perhaps move to tackle in his second year.
Why don't you think guys like bruce carter and morris claiborne haven't put it together yet, because if you look at them there probably athleticly the best players on the defense?
Todd Archer (11:43 AM)
If I knew, I'd be a rich guy because Jerry would pay me a lot of money. It's not a lack of work. They put the work in during the offseason. With some players there is just a disconnect with athletic ability and football smarts.
Jimmy Benner(bethlehem pa) [via mobile]
If cowboys have another bad year obviously garret and co. Are gone but do u see jerry getting a big name college coach? Cause I'm positive no high profile coach will ever wanna come to Big D
Todd Archer (11:44 AM)
You remember Bill Parcells came here after the Cowboys went 5-11 for three straight seasons, right? This team will attract any kind of coach they want.
Bryan (Springdale, AR) [via mobile]
When a player like Ware or Spencer is in the negotiating room, and they know they've made a ton of money, and that if they sign a lower deal then the team can go out and get more solid pieces to the puzzle to make a deep run in the playoffs, why do some of them still demand more money? They absolutely know that that means hurting the franchise. To me, they are putting themselves before the team, and you and I both know that. Kerry and others have admitted that big contracts to some players were a mistake, so why doesn't Ware and Spencer try to be unselfish and help the team out?
Todd Archer (11:48 AM)
I wouldn't use those guys as examples to your point. When Ware was signed, he was the best defensive player in football. And Spencer was given the franchise tag. The team never negotiated really with him. But use every day life here for a moment: would you turn down the most money you could get from a company or would you say, 'hey, let's make sure we have a strong company throughout?' These guys have a short amount of time to cash in and I don't begrudge them at all because when the time comes when the team wants to dump them, they don't have any guaranteed money. In talking to Ware yesterday he sounded willing to do what it took to stay here and make sure the Cowboys have money to sign other players.
Thomas (New York)
The Cowboys always seem to be shuffling money around by restructuring deals or cutting guys and loading up on dead money. They seem to always restructure guys like Romo, Witten, and Ware, which makes is nearly impossible to cut them near the end of their deals without having a ton of dead money. Why don't they get ahead of their cap problems?
Todd Archer (11:49 AM)
They are in the process of cleaning up their cap. The last few years have been tighter than normal because of the $10 million penalty and the new CBA. Now that the penalty is gone, they'll be in better shape. And the cap should go up a good amount in 2015 and '16. I don't have a problem with how the Cowboys manage the cap. It's how they give out the money that's wrong. Their evaluations have been poor. But the notion that all of this will catch up to them, I think, is just not true.
raul (rio grande city)
Hey Todd, if the cowboys end up drafting Kony Ealy in the 1st will this be purely on potential? I think Donald deserves to be the 1st pick...he fits what they want.....whaddaya think?
Todd Archer (11:50 AM)
I like Donald too, even if he is a little short. Ealy has the look of a top flight guy but Donald has produced more.
Michael J (TX)
witten still a top 5 tight end dispute getting older, he's game isn't based on athleticism so why is every quick to get rid of him?
Todd Archer (11:52 AM)
I wish I knew. His receptions were down, but his touchdowns were up. His blocking was still good. His yard per catch was higher. To me, he's Bob Lilly. When he retires, the ceremony should be after his final game as he takes a victory lap inside AT&T Stadium.
Bryan (Springdale, AR) [via mobile]
And don't give me that "it's the GM's job to construct the team, not the players." you'll be hailing Dirk when he takes a pay cut this summer, so you should be slamming players for being selfish who have already made a lot of money
Todd Archer (11:53 AM)
Good for Dirk if he takes a pay cut. Good for Kobe for taking all he can get. I'm not slamming anybody for getting what they think they can get. You can. I won't.
Torey [via mobile]
Is there a qb worth drafting in the later rounds that can be the future? Im not seeing one
Todd Archer (11:54 AM)
I haven't studied it close enough yet to know. Obviously the Garappolo kid has an intersting tie here with Romo and Eastern Illinois. It looks like he has a good feel for the game. Let me get back to you after a look at it a little more.
Ray (from Southside)
Who is running the draft...is it will mclay's show or Tom ciskowski?? JJ came out and said Tom is still in charge..everyone gives JJ grief but in reality isnt more of Tom to blame since he creates the board for the draft??
Todd Archer (11:55 AM)
I know Jerry said what he said, but Will McClay is in the big office in the scouting department. It's his show. Ciskowski will have a big say, like always, but if we're looking at an organizational chart McClay is the first name after the Joneses.
All signals are pointing towards miles being let go. So with that said will Escobar and beasley have bigger roles on offense?
Todd Archer (11:57 AM)
I think Escobar will have a bigger role. When I was talking about the need for another receiver, I should have mentioned him. There is some intrigue here with his athleticism. I'm not sure he'll ever be an on-the-line tight end but he has skills the coaches will have to tap. That's something I'm going to ask Linehan when we get to talk to him.
You have a good perspective of what the locker room is like. Does this team have the chemistry and/or attitude of a winner? I know that is hard to quantify. But you would know better than any of us.
Todd Archer (11:57 AM)
The chemistry is fine. The talent needs to be upgraded.
Do you think romo would restructure his contract again to sign dez and tyron?
Todd Archer (11:59 AM)
He'll restructure his contract this year because the Cowboys must do it. I think some people don't understand what "restructure," means. Players aren't taking less money when they "restructure." It's just how it gets counted against the cap. A "pay cut" is completely different.
Bryan (Springdale, AR) [via mobile]
Difference is if I take less money at my job it goes in the owners pockets. If Ware or Spencer take less (and keep in mind they have made millions) it goes to other good players who can help Ware or Spencer maybe get to the Superbowl. There is a payoff for Ware or Spencer that I would never realize if I took a pay cut myself.
Todd Archer (12:02 PM)
Can you gaurantee those new players will get them to a Super Bowl? And can you guarantee that the money won't go in the owner's pockets? It's a good discussion, Bryan. I'm glad we're having it, but it's just not something I believe in. We view sports different than real life when it comes to money and team chemistry and things like that. If I'm a player, I'm thinking about how much I can get for as long as I can get it. Pete Prisco over at CBS Sports has long said, Players don't put cash in eBay when their careers are over. They do put rings on there.
Baseball and Basketball are starting to rely more and more on statistics and analytics and predictions, is there anything similar used in football? Is there a way to calculate wins that a player provides or what combination of player are most effective on the field together?
Todd Archer (12:03 PM)
Analytics are becoming a bigger part of the game. Will McClay is a believer in analytics and has attended the MIT conference a couple of times. I'm can't give you the specifics on the formula you're looking for but I know teams are looking more at statistical research than they have in the past where "gut feelings," ruled the day.
With Linehan calling plays does this mean more or less shotgun for Tony Romo?
Todd Archer (12:05 PM)
DC, off the top of my head I would say more shotgun based on what we saw in Detroit and how much Linehan threw it around. But I'm not sure he has had the varied talents the Cowboys have in Dez, Witten and Murray that can bring more balance to an offense. Stephen Jackson did have a 1,500 yard season with Linehan calling the plays. Michael Bennett had a 1,200 yard season with him too.
carlos (el paso)
How do you feel about holloman taking over on the weak side?
Todd Archer (12:07 PM)
Holloman played really well in that last game. He looked more instinctive than in the other games. That's natural because he did not play much as a rookie until the end. I'd give him a look there. He showed in camp and in the preseason he can make plays. You know how they say with the offensive line to play the five best guys? Well, if Holloman is one of the three best linebackers, play him.
raul (rio grande city)
Todd, does Logan Thomas fit the Cowboys offense in the type of QB they want? Romo's arm seems tired and this guy has a cannon
Todd Archer (12:08 PM)
He might have a cannon but you don't know where the heck the ball is going. Accuracy, to me, is the most important part for a quarterback. I can take a guy with a slightly less strong arm and help him. If a guy has never been accurate, I don't know if that changes at a higher level.
if murray has a big year would you bring him back?
Todd Archer (12:10 PM)
I struggle with this one because I don't see the value in signing running backs to huge, huge deals. Unless it's Adrian Peterson. Murray had a really good season. The Cowboys are clearly better when he is in there. The best I can give you right now is an I don't know. And the Cowboys don't need to answer it right now either. Of the guys they'll have up at the end of the year in need of extensions I'd rank them Tyron Smith (though the team has a fifth-year option), Dez Bryant and then Murray.
Darren (Englewood Nj)
can garrett rebuild this d-line similar to the way he did for the o-line?
Todd Archer (12:12 PM)
I'm not sure it's Garrett rebuilding the D-line or the Cowboys. The Cowboys let the line grow old together and now they have to almost start over again. That's what they had to do on the O-line and it looks like they've got good pieces in place. But it shouldn't come down to this if they planned correctly.
how much do the cowboys take wonderlic scores into consideration when drafting these players? because theres alot of players on the team i question there football IQ
Todd Archer (12:13 PM)
It's part of the equation but what matters most is how they play.
tyler (olathe, kansas )
ive been hearing brian waters doesnt want to play this year, think jerry will somehow convince him to play one more year?
Todd Archer (12:15 PM)
If Waters wants to play, he needs to have triceps surgery. At the end of the season he had not made that decision yet and I don't know if he's made it here lately. At some point the Cowboys have to move on. Waters played well in his short time here but he's old (well, old for an offensive lineman, not a regular person). If he has the surgery and he wants to play again, then you have to figure he won't be out there for training camp. Personally, I'd keep him on my list but not bank on him coming back unless there is an emergency.
Bryan (Springdale, AR) [via mobile]
I only expect stars who have already made a ton of money to take paycuts. And with the Cowboys always being over the cap, you KNOW Jerry isn't pocketing the savings from the payout; he is spending! I don't want players to complaint about lack of talent around them if they don't take less. Dirk realizes it's necessary, and so has Lebron and Wade: all of them have rings.
Todd Archer (12:16 PM)
Tell me when Peyton Manning takes less. And don't be fooled by the Tom Brady has taken less stuff either. The Patriots still didn't keep Welker. We'll just disagree on this one. Thanks for the thoughts here. I'm sure we'll talk again in future chats.
barry (lupkin tx)
Do you think Spencers will give the cowboys a discount because he made 10m for one game this year?
Todd Archer (12:17 PM)
I think he'll give any team a discount because he played one game last year. He's not exactly in a position of strength coming off the knee injury.
Eric (long beach)
Will dez get more of mike wallace contract or a larry fitzgerald contract?
Todd Archer (12:20 PM)
I don't have those numbers or structures in front of me to know the difference in those deals. I know Dez will make a lot of money. if I'm structuring the deal, however, I'm giving him higher than normal base salaries so I could get out of the deal if something goes wrong.
HoustonFan (Houston, TX)
I'm not a big fan of Durant. Too expensive relative to his contribution. I realize he struggled with injury, but he didn't seem effective even when healthy. Likely cap casualty? I have similar concerns regarding Ryan Cook (although his lack of contribution may have more to do with his health).
Todd Archer (12:21 PM)
I think Durant ends up getting cut. That move saves $1 million or so. With the way Kyle Wilber played, the Cowboys can move on. A strong side backer is going to play 35-40% of the snaps so yu don't want to put a lot of resources there. Cook is a free agent so don't worry about that one.
Does hatcher realisticly think a team going to give him a 3-5 year deal?
Todd Archer (12:23 PM)
Maybe closer to three or four years, yeah. he had a good season. His age works against him. Last year's market for defensive linemen was bad too. I don't know if that was a one year deal or just a way teams will do business now. We'll see. if it's a shallow market, then that would help the Cowboys' cause if they want to re-sign him.
Todd! I want to know how the Cowboys will address the crippling epidemic of HAMSTRING INJURIES!!!! We can ill afford another season where every defensive starter spends time off the field with hammy issues!
Todd Archer (12:24 PM)
Here's one of my solutions: cut down the length of practices. The new CBA has really limited the time the strength and conditioning coaches get to work with players in the offseason and I think that is a contributing factor to the soft-tissue type injuries. Teams need to tweak their programs in terms of conditioning, but also in how they run a practice. That's another question for Garrett I'll ask next week at the Combine.
What will happen with Carr and Claiborne next year in regards to scheme? I still feel you have to start Mo over Scandrick for justification.
Todd Archer (12:25 PM)
No. You start the better player.
Todd Archer (12:27 PM)
Hey everybody thanks for the questions. I had fun. Hope you did too. If you have more questions hit me up on Twitter (@toddarcher) and use the #cowboysmail hashtag and that'll go up on Friday and Saturday. I'm hoping to make these chats a staple during the offseason, so stick with me here. Next week I'm at the Combine so we might need to alter the day or time. Thanks again. Courage.