IRVING, Texas -- Part 1 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready.
In it we discuss:
The future of Morris Claiborne
The return of Anthony Spencer
The role of Gavin Escobar
Sending the house
Defending Jimmy Graham
Away we go:
@toddarcher: If things do not improve significantly, then I would guess no, but there would be salary-cap implications. His $2.6 million base salary is guaranteed, so the Cowboys would receive no relief from the cap. He's counting on the cap regardless of whether he is on the roster or not. In that respect, I can see the Cowboys keeping him, making him play out his deal and then moving on. I don't see any chance the Cowboys pick up his fifth-year option for 2016. He just hasn't done enough (anything?) to warrant that. And remember, trading him is not really an option either. The new team would have to want his salary and give up a pick for him. Why would they do that? Claiborne made a poor decision by walking out on the team on Tuesday. He will pay for it for a long time but has a chance to make up for it if he can become the player the Cowboys thought they were getting. Heck, everybody had high marks for him coming into the draft.
@toddarcher: What we get to see in practice is so limited that we can't draw any conclusions on playing time, but the plan is to ease Spencer into a pass-rushing role. I would say that would mean 20-25 snaps to start at the top end. He played 34 snaps last year in his only game against the Kansas City Chiefs and his season was over. The Cowboys have been smart with his rehab the entire time, so to expect him to play full-time snaps right away would be foolish. He will have only five practices since last season if he is active Sunday against the Saints. Spencer will certainly be a help to a pass rush that has been lacking. The Cowboys have three sacks in three games and only a half-sack from a full-time defensive lineman. But Spencer is not DeMarcus Ware. His biggest sack total came in 2012 when he had 11 as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 and was moved around the formation by then-coordinator Rob Ryan. He has never had more than six in any other season. I truly believe the Cowboys would be ecstatic if he had six this year.
@toddarcher: You have to factor in the Cowboys' style of play. They are committed to the run. As a result, there are fewer opportunities in the passing game. He's not going to take snaps away from Jason Witten. He's not a good enough blocker to take away all of James Hanna's snaps either. So far he's not taking away Cole Beasley's snaps when the Cowboys go to three wide receivers. I thought Beasley and Escobar would have more of a split role there but that's not been the case. Maybe that changes. It's not Escobar's fault he was picked in the second round. It's the Cowboys' fault they have yet to figure out the best way to use him and it goes back to their thought process in taking him that early was flawed. They talked about committing to a two-tight-end scheme, like New England used, but never really backed up that talk.
With the lack of pass rush why don't the Cowboys send the house more often like the Jets #cowboysmail— Casey Nelson (@CaseyNelson60) September 24, 2014
@toddarcher: It's just not the style of defensive play. Rod Marinelli is not that type of coordinator. Neither was Monte Kiffin. The Tampa 2 is predicated on pressure from the front four. They will occasionally blitz corners off the slot. They'll show double A gap pressure from the linebackers and bring pressure from time to time but most of the time they'll drop off into coverage. Rex Ryan's philosophy is different. You can't ask a coach -- or a defense -- to be something it's never been. You can't flip a switch. Bringing the house is dangerous. If the blitz is picked up or the corners don't win outside, then you'll see a ton of big plays. This 4-3 scheme is about making offenses drive the field. The Cowboys haven't exactly followed that script with the big plays they have allowed, but it seems to me that the coordinators the past two years would rather die a slow death (make the offense move down the field inch by inch) than the quick death (blitz and see the big plays follow).
Who will have Jimmy Graham duty?I pray it's not Wilcox. #CowboysMail— Major Dobbins (@MajorVanWilder) September 25, 2014
@toddarcher: You're not going to like this answer, but if it's man coverage, it will be J.J. Wilcox. The Cowboys' issues with tight ends are not just the safety play. It's poor awareness in zone coverages from the linebackers and safeties. At times the linebackers drop too deep, leaving easy pitch-and-catch throws. At times the safeties and linebackers do a poor job on the wide throws. And then tackling has been a problem at times. It is not a good mix when the tight end is Jimmy Graham. Maybe this will help: Graham caught five passes for 59 yards in last year's meeting and didn't score. Of course, he didn't need to be a big part of the Saints' game plan given how bad they torched the defense elsewhere.