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!
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Why was the Dallas Cowboys so bad the last 2 weeks against the Eagles & the Giants?
Todd Archer (1:02 PM)
They just aren't good enough. I really think it's that simple. For all of the talk about how talented they are from the national talking heads, they really aren't. Here's an analogy: the Cowboys are the guy at the gym who only bench presses and forgets his legs so he's top heavy.
Ian (Atl, GA)
Assuming that Bruce Carter is the Answer at ILB, and Nagy is starting once again and is stronger after working with Coach Woicik, I have the Cowboys needs as follows. Starting CB, 4th CB, FS, C, and maybe OLB(depends on Spencer). How many of these needs is it realistic to expect to fill in one offseason???
Todd Archer (1:04 PM)
That's not a bad list. I don't know if you went in order there, but I'd add guard to the list. I'd have outside linebacker as the No. 2 need. I can't see Spencer back. Realistically, I don't know that they can fill more than three or four this year throught the draft and free agency. Most of the help will have to come internally with younger players, like Carter, developing.
matt cincinnati ohio [via mobile]
Will the dallas cowboys fire garrett to try and make a move to land the big chin?
Todd Archer (1:06 PM)
I have a better chance of going to Graeter's Ice Cream today in Hyde Park. (keeping it local for the Cincinnati guy here). Garrett will be the coach. I'm one of the few who really believe Cowher is done coaching.
Have had this debate many times about the Cowboys and I know the back end of the Defense needs to be addressed CB/S plus oline C/G but to me with the 14th pick I think they should target OLB/Pass Rusher too many times the pass rush vanished and they need another threat to get after the QB other then Ware especially that they are letting Spencer test Free Agency. Whats your Thoughts and what are u thinking for that pick other then best available?
Todd Archer (1:07 PM)
Last year I came to the realization that the pass rush makes a secondary. When the pass rush was good early in the season - against middling quarterbacks by the way - the secondary was fine. Against the better quarterbacks, the secondary and pass rush was bad. I'd put OLB in the top two of needs. Just don't ask me who is available right now. It's way too early in the game for that.
Bryan (Springdale, AR)
Todd, what are your thoughts about several of the players leaving the locker room before they could be interviewed? These guys get paid by the dollars of the fans and they want endorsements, contract raises and extensions, and interviews and exposure when they are doing well, then they want to escape accountability when they are playing poorly. What can be done by the league or media to make sure that these guys take questions and be held accountable to the public? I want guys like Terrence Newman and Doug Free to admit on camera that they let this team and the fans down, but instead they get a completely free pass out the door and no one stops them, but they are asked to get in front of the camera any time you guys want to celebrate their acheivements.
Todd Archer (1:11 PM)
It's a problem, but I'm slightly confused by the end of your question. Are you saying we didn't stop them? Both of the players you referenced talked after the game Sunday. My issue is this: too often the same players are left answering the same questions. It's always Witten, Romo, James, Brooking. The players that choose not to speak to the media put more of a burden on their teammates to answer for them. I can see why players would get upset at answering questions, especially when we ask dumb ones. But there's also a responsibility to answer questions so fans can realize what happened, how it happened and why it happened. To me, the bigger issue is not making themselves available to the media is what it does to the players who do speak all of the time.
Can everyone get off of Ware's back about when he gets pressure and sacks? He had another great year and can you imagine this defense without him. Last I checked there were a number of factors that go into pass protection and not even LT got a sack on every pass play.
Todd Archer (1:13 PM)
You're right. He had a great season, but if Tony Romo is held to a win-or-else cause, then Ware should also face some of that criticism too. To me, Ware is one of the three best defensive players in football. He can change games. What he needs is more help.
Hey Todd, thanks for taking the time. Is it posible for Dallas to apply the franchise tag to Robinson and then trade him? I understand they wouldn't pay him the money of the tag but losing him in FA would be a shame if Dallas could get something in return.
Todd Archer (1:15 PM)
That's possible but completely impractical.If you tie up that money on Robinson, you wouldn't be able to fill other holes. Robinson had a good year but he is not worth anywhere close the average salary of the top 10 wide receivers in the league. The Cowboys cannot be in position to overpay for a No. 3 wide receiver here.
If you had the chance to be the GM in Dallas ,would(could) you work for Jerry Jones,seriously?
Todd Archer (1:17 PM)
Sure, I'd do it. Anybody would. As Bill Parcells said, this is the big room. Personnel people would love to work here. You'd have an owner who would spend. You'd have an owner who was committed. Maybe he would step over the bounds too often, but that's the price you'd be willing to pay. If you win, you're a genius. If you lose, then Jerry still gets the blame.
Are we going to see more changes in the offensive line or the secondary?
Todd Archer (1:19 PM)
Good question, Jeff. I think it'll be the line because I can see scenarios that all three interior spots are new. The secondary will have Jenkins, Scandrick and Sensabaugh in 2012. That leaves two spots open, including the nickel.
Joe (Phoenix, AZ)
So which assistant coaches dont get new contracts and who is replacing them?
Todd Archer (1:21 PM)
I can't say who replaces them because I don't know who is available from other teams. Jason Garrett will have tough personal decisions to make on Hudson Houck and Dave Campo. He's known those guys for awhile but the Cowboys biggest areas of concerns last year were the O-line and secondary and they remain the concerns this year. I can give you one name - I'd do what I could to bring Tony Sparano back. Well, I'll give you a second name but again I don't know if he's available - Cleveland secondary coach Jerome Henderson. The Browns wouldn't let him come with Ryan last year.
Who do I return all my Cowboys gear to in protest of the idiot GM?
Todd Archer (1:22 PM)
Give it to charity. That'll ease your pain and help the less fortunate.
Chad (Luray, VA)
What do you think about trading Miles Austin for a 1st rounder, giving them the flexibility to go after another OL and a DB in the first round?I realize he is their best WR, but Dez will eventually be a legit #1 and the Cowboys offense did fine without Miles this season. The problems are in the secondary and OL. Fix that and the Cowboys can contend. The window is closing...
Todd Archer (1:24 PM)
I'm not trading Austin. He's too reliable and I don't know yet that Dez will be a true No. 1. Austin did not have a great year because of the hamstring issue. To me, he's a dynamic playmaker and has a true connection with Tony Romo. I agree with the other needs, but I wouldn't fill it by trading Austin because you're down to one wide receiver in Dez. I think it'll be hard for the Cowboys to keep Robinson.
What about the NT postion I see it as a draft need and it's time to move Rat to DE u agree? And bsides possible draft could Lissenmore bulk up n play the nose he has a motor n looked more disruptive toward the end of the year. Thoughts? N thanks Todd.
Todd Archer (1:26 PM)
I'm not in the camp of moving Ratliff to end. I've said this before, but what makes him special at nose would not make him special at end. He'd have much more difficult matchups than he does now vs. centers. I'd look to bring in a bigger nose for the future and maybe slide out Ratliff to end some, but not fulltime.
Nathan (East Texas)
Considering the backup punter was the only player worth mentioning after the win-or-go-home game against the Giants, how can the fix the personnel issues? Obviously Newman is gone, how can we replace Spencer, Brooking, James, and Elam with quality players. All are free agents, and none are worth keeping around other than warm bodies. These are 4 starting positions that will need to be replaced. It could be considered 5 when you move Scandrick to the starting corner, because the third corner is practically a starter considering how much the nickel is used. Can we find 5 players that will provide an upgrade at these positions next year through the draft and free agency? This is just the defense, don?t get me started on the O-line. Love Your Work!
Todd Archer (1:29 PM)
Brooking or James will be replaced by Bruce Carter. At least that's the plan right now. I'd make corner/outside linebacker the top draft priority. There isn't a corner in the building ready to become the nickel. Maybe Victor Butler can be a fulltime player. I don't know. Elam, to me, is an interesting case and maybe I'm just being stupid, but I would've given him the extension over Sensabaugh. Maybe not the $8 million guaranteed, but I think he brings more to the table as a glue. Yes, I realize he missed that tackle of Bradshaw on Sunday. But I'd suspect Barry Church gets the early lead on the starting SS spot next year.
I sleep ok at night knowing that Stephen will one day run this team. Is he still the voice of reason at valley ranch?
Todd Archer (1:29 PM)
Very much so.
Joe (Phoenix, AZ)
Trying to get as many pressure players on the field as this team struggled to bring pressure from anyone besides Ware. You line up Ratliff at end next to Ware who is getting doubled then as you would have a bigger NT that the center and guard would have to contend with and then they need to double Ware it makes perfect sense and destroys your argument that it would make Ratliff less effective. Not to mention he isnt getting any push at nose towards the end of theyear and cant get off double teams to stop the run.
Todd Archer (1:31 PM)
Then why did the players vote Ratliff to the Pro Bowl? He's a terror to play against. At the end, he was hurt a little with that oblique strain. By the way, they do line up Ratliff next to Ware in passing situations. How did that work this year? Now you want to do it fulltime? Sorry, we'll just agree to disagree.
whos the starting running back going into next year, and do you think the cowboys will draft a powerback for goaline situations?
Todd Archer (1:32 PM)
It has to be DeMarco Murray. I don't see them drafting a running back next year unless somebody falls to them in a certain round. I don't see it as a need. They'll go with Murray, Felix Jones and Phillip Tanner.
At DE Ratliff would be going against guards the majority of the time, is that really that much tougher of a match up than getting double teamed by a guard/center? Moving Ratliff to DE would prolong his career. He's a great player but that shine will wear of quicker if we keep going against the grain and continue to play an undersized NT in the 3-4.
Todd Archer (1:33 PM)
If he's getting doubled by guards and center at nose, wouldn't he get doubled at end by guards/center? Looking at Ratliff's play at nose as a problem should be far down the list.
What does the cap look like for next year? Can we expect help in FA.
Todd Archer (1:35 PM)
They will carry over a lot of dead money into 2012 based on the decisions to cut Davis, Barber, Williams, Colombo, Gurode, Olshansky. But they will also carry a $17 million credit forward from this year. Cutting Newman could create $4 million or $6 million of room. They can re-work contracts again. They will be able to do what they want in free agency. The key phrase is "what they want." What they want might not be what you want.
at th 14th pick the cowboys can definitely get the best guard/center in the draft, do you think jerry will go back to back drafts picking a offensive lineman?
Todd Archer (1:37 PM)
I do see that as a possibility, but unless it's a Mike Pouncey type, for sure Day 1 starter, I'm passing on OL early on because they need to get a lot of help on the field in 2012. The best way to do that for the line could be through free agency.
Are you sold on McGee? Is he the future?
Todd Archer (1:38 PM)
I'm not sold, no. He will be entering the final year of his contract in 2012. I've been on record saying they need to draft a quarterback and not a project type. That might be hard to do with all the holes to fill.
Bryan (Springdale, AR)
Do you see Roger Goodell strong-arming Jerry Jones into hiring a GM?
Todd Archer (1:39 PM)
No. Never. He's not David Stern. And if Stern never did anything to Donald Sterling, why would Goodell do it with a moneymaker for the league like Jerry?
shawn (abrams (newyork))
how do you think jimmy robinson did this year with dez and do you see him as a upgrade as the wideouts coach?
Todd Archer (1:39 PM)
I thought he did OK. Nothing more. Nothing less. Dez made some progress. Austin was hurt too much. Robinson was a great find.
lake (lake george,ny)
Do you think bringing in Spagnuolo would be wise?
Todd Archer (1:40 PM)
I don't see the fit here because of the scheme.
any chance the cowboys would consider converting to a 4-3 defense?
Todd Archer (1:41 PM)
Jerry is committed to the 3-4. He has a 3-4 coordinator in Rob Ryan. He has the best pass rusher in the league in DeMarcus Ware. The top five defenses in the NFL were 3-4 schemes. It's not the scheme. It's the personnel.
Joe (Charlotte, NC)
Do you think Finnegan from Tennesee could be a nice addition to this Cowboys roster if he is available? Maybe him and Calais Cambell from Arizona could be good targets in free agency and allow us room to draft a OLB at the 14th spot?
Todd Archer (1:43 PM)
For all of you asking for names on who is available in free agency, I'll use this one as the one-stop shop. It doesn't make sense to get into the names now because they can re-sign with their current teams and never be made available in March. It's a lot of wasted energy in some respects. I like Campbell, but I don't think the Cardinals let him walk.
stephen (pittsboro NC)
if the cowboys were to franchise tag a player this off season whom would it be in your opinion?
Todd Archer (1:44 PM)
They won't put the tag on anybody. At one point I floated the idea of putting it on Spencer because they don't have somebody ready to step in. After the way he finished, I think it's time to move on. Of the 13 UFAs, they don't have a guy worth giving the franchise tag to.
phil (longbeach ca)
if butler could play the run better, would it narrow the possibility of bring back spencer?
Todd Archer (1:45 PM)
Absolutely. That's his biggest issue. He has a knack for getting to the passer. He's quick off the edge, but that guy opposite Ware has to be able to set the edge against the run and I'm not sure he's that guy.
Ron - CowboyRT (Atlanta, GA)
On Ratliff to DE, what made Ratliff special at NT was his 7.5 sacks in his All-Pro year. His sack numbers have declined steadily down to 2 this year. NT experiment over. Move him to DE, start Josh Brent at NT and draft another prototype guy at NT.
Todd Archer (1:45 PM)
So you'll guarantee 7.5 sacks from the end spot for him?
Do you think Scandrick can cover on the outside or is he more suited for covering slot receivers?
Todd Archer (1:47 PM)
I hate to be wishy washy here but I just don't know. He has the ability to do it but I haven't seen it done enough consistently on the outside. Maybe the 44-yard catch by Cruz is still too fresh in my mind. I wonder if, at his best, he is a No. 3 cornerback.
kevin (south carolina)
do you think the cowboys will offer mike jenkins a contract going into next year, and will he get a scandrick type contract or a newman like contract?
Todd Archer (1:49 PM)
Mike Jenkins was the Cowboys best corner in 2011 and he played the last few games with the inability to lift his right arm over his head. He disaplayed a toughness many thought he lacked. He will go into next year in the final year of his deal. I'd let it play out for a little bit of the season before giving him a long-term deal. But this is my belief - it's always better to pay your own guys rather than going after another team's guy. Just seems a safer bet.
Too many holes too fill, the the last three drafts have been awful and other than top selections, no one is being groomed for starting positions thus this team annually is looking to fill the same holes. I'm sure Jerry will take some more fliers on injured players (like Carter) and we'll take a RB or TE at the top of the draft.
Todd Archer (1:50 PM)
I'd say Carter was viewed as a starter in 2012. I can see Scandrick starting next year. I can see Nagy coming back or David Arkin starting at a guard spot. As for the tight end question - they do need one with Bennett leaving. I just wouldn't take one early.
Just a comment, Draft David DeCastro and have a great left side of the line for a decade...then draft All Defense. Thanks!
Todd Archer (1:51 PM)
This is about the third time David DeCastro has been mentioned in the chat, so a lot of you are thinking the same thing.
Todd, does it ever become difficult to give an unbiased opinion. By interviewing players I'm sure you begin to form personal relationships. Also, do you ever find yourself becoming a fan? Are you a fan of the Dallas Cowboys? I have a hard time believing that reporters aren't fans after spending so much time around teams.
Todd Archer (1:53 PM)
You form relationships with players but there's a separation that naturally exists and you explain that to the players. At least I do. No, I'm not a fan of the Cowboys. I didn't grow up here. I like a lot of the players on the team, but I don't get caught up in the winning and the losing. I get caught up in the story and finding out what the team is trying to do.
john (San Fran)
what was the cowboys thinking in trading fasano to get bennett whos been nothing but a back up?
Todd Archer (1:54 PM)
There was a feeling that Fasano would have chronic shoulder problems, so they made the move. With a tight end like Witten in front of them, I don't think you take a tight end in the second round. You're just not going to get the value of the selection there.
william (new york)
how do you think bennett would do as a full time starter somewhere else because we know he's a athletic and the best blocker on team?
Todd Archer (1:55 PM)
He'll be OK but I don't see him becoming a true Pro Bowl type player. He's not consistent enough.
T. Webb (Oak Harbor, WA)
I don't get why everyone has a problem with Jerry Jones as the GM....he relies and consults with his scouts....what's the problem?
Todd Archer (1:56 PM)
I think he should rely on the scouts more. I think too often he listens to the coaches. The coaches don't know the players like the scouts. That's gotten Jerry into trouble with guys like Jacon Rogers, Jason Williams and Robert Brewster.
lake (lake george,ny)
Shouldn't the defensive coaches have come up with more schemes for Ware so he wasn't double teamed so much? It seemed like every play he was doubled,no matter where Ryan put him.To me that's the coaches fault,do you agree?
Todd Archer (1:57 PM)
Wherever Ware would line up teams would double him. They stopped moving him around as much as they did earlier. The biggest thing that would help Ware would be a more reliable pass rusher on the other side.
lake (lake george,ny)
What do you think of trading out of the 1st and 2nd rounds to get a ton of late round picks?
Todd Archer (1:57 PM)
no, no, no, no. They've tried that before and it doesn't work. That 09 draft was abysmal (and yes, I realize they didn't have a first round pick). Stay where you, don't get cute.
samuel (austin tx)
didnt the jason garrett originally want the 49ers def coordinator as i remember?
Todd Archer (1:58 PM)
He was the first to interview. I believe Fangio was always going to go with Harbaugh anyway because they were together at Stanford.
do you think romo is worth another contract when his current one is up?
Todd Archer (1:58 PM)
Let's wait and see how he's doing in 2014.
This secondary makes me sick to my stomach. What big name free agent corners will be on the market this offseason and which targets are realistic targets to add to this awful secondary. BTW Newman is garbage got to go.
Todd Archer (1:59 PM)
Don't get caught up in the big names. That's not the way to go. Free agency in some ways is a red herring. It's not always the answer everybody believes it is.
why do you think doug free struggled so much after playing well last year?
Todd Archer (2:00 PM)
I think we paid more attention to him more this year than we did last year. That's part of it. I think he got caught up in some technique issues. I think he missed Kyle Kosier to some degree next to him.
kevin teague (queens)
since jerry a polian are good friends any way he brings him as an advisor?
Todd Archer (2:01 PM)
I don't see it.
CowboyRT (Atlanta, GA)
Todd, you're missing my point. Not guarantee Ratliff gets 7.5 at DE. The reason he was special at NT was his sacks.. Now he doesn't get sacks, his NT advantage is gone. Move him to DE, he's getting mauled inside at NT late in the season.
Todd Archer (2:01 PM)
OK, we can disagree. It's cool.
Would you tag McBriar as it wouldn't be a lot? Or do you think the foot keeps him from being resigned?
Todd Archer (2:02 PM)
I'd re-sign him but the foot injury will have to be healed. McBriar's in a tough spot. Hopefully for him it comes around quickly. If it does, then I don't let him leave. Like I said on the blog Tuesday, there will be some interesting internal politics on this one.
what players other then tyron smith did the cowboys eye during last years draft at the 9th pick?
Todd Archer (2:03 PM)
J.J. Watt was up there. They liked Nate Solder and Anthony Costanzo too. They were close to trading out of No. 9 with Jacksonville.
Todd Archer (2:04 PM)
Guys, thanks for the questions and thanks for letting me answer these throughout the season. I had fun. I hope you did, too. We'll have more of these during the offseason I'm sure. Remember to check out our blog for all of the updates.If you have more questions, send me an e-mail or follow me on Twitter (@toddarcher).Thanks again.Courage.