Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag, Part 1

IRVING, Texas – Part 1 of the Dallas Cowboys’ Twitter mailbag is ready.

In it we discuss:

  • Only the beginning of a run?

  • Finding a true pass rusher

  • Home-field advantage

  • If Rod Marinelli leaves

  • Jameis Winston

Away we go:

@toddarcher: That's hard to say. Obviously I didn't see this season coming, so maybe I'm not the right person to ask. But I view this a little differently than, say, the 1991 Cowboys. That team was young and growing into their prime together. Tony Romo will be 35 in April. So much revolves around the quarterback. If we're talking 2-3 years, then I think this team can contend in the NFC, but you have to remember the Cowboys will have a lot of turnover with so many players and coaches in contract years. You can't bring back everybody, and that might include DeMarco Murray. It sure would be strange to see the NFL's leading rusher leave via free agency, but I can see the Cowboys getting to a certain point on the price and letting him go. They will be good enough on offense. I still have questions about the defense despite how well they have played.

@toddarcher: It sure wouldn't hurt, but there aren't a lot of those guys floating around the planet. If you can find them, tell the Cowboys. Only eight players had more than 12 sacks this season. It's rare. Players like DeMarcus Ware don't fall out of the sky, so what you have to do when you don't have that guy is find a number of guys that might combine to give you 12-plus sacks. That's what they tried to do this year by signing Henry Melton, Jeremy Mincey and Anthony Spencer in free agency. They combined for 11.5 sacks at a decent combined cap charge. In effect, they went three-for-one when it comes to the cost you have to pay for a 12-plus sack guy. If you're wondering if they would make a run at Jason Pierre-Paul or another high-priced free agent, that would surprise me a ton. The Cowboys will save their money for the players they know, such as Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray and, possibly, Rolando McClain.

@toddarcher: I think it reinforced the importance of execution. As much as we talked about the crowds when the Niners, Texans and Saints visited, the Cowboys won two of those three games. When they didn't execute against San Francisco, Arizona (without Romo) and Philadelphia, it had to do with poor play, not the venue. I do think the Cowboys will have an advantage Sunday against the Lions. I believe the crowd really helped them in 2009, when they beat the Eagles in the wild-card round. But the Cowboys also executed on offense and defense that day, and that helped the crowd noise gain them even more of an advantage.

@toddarcher: There seems to be this thinking that Rod Marinelli is going to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, no questions asked, when the season is over. Maybe it does happen, but right now it just looks like everybody is adding up 2-plus-2 with his ties to Lovie Smith without acknowledging the Buccaneers don't have a vacancy. But for the sake of the question, I'll play along. I think the Cowboys would look on their staff for the next coordinator and go with linebackers coach Matt Eberflus. He has done a terrific job this year by having to mix and match his group. He has a strong voice in the defensive room. He has been around Jason Garrett for four years.

@toddarcher: Whenever it comes to questions like this, I'm going to ask that you don't hold it against me if it turns out wrong in four months. But here's what I think right now: No, they won't trade up to get Jameis Winston. I understand Jerry Jones was enthralled with Johnny Manziel last spring, but I don't believe the Cowboys will be drafting a quarterback early in 2015 or even 2016. They will not have a succession plan for Tony Romo. I don't see them grooming anybody. Maybe they draft a guy in the later rounds who turns into something, but I think they will draft a quarterback early when they are ready to move on from Romo in a few years and play that guy right away, the way teams are playing rookies now. No plan is ever foolproof, but the Cowboys have built an offensive line that should be together for years and would help a rookie make a quick transition at quarterback.