For members of Cowboy Nation, living in another NFL city can be a blessing and a curse. The curse: We have to fight harder and plan smarter to get information about our beloved Dallas Cowboys. The blessing: We can take notes on our local team and understand why the Cowboys are the best team in the history of the universe.
In my case, I’m a resident of Jacksonville, Florida – home of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars’ last season with a winning record was 2005 when they went 11 – 5. They did have a .500 season in 2010. Since I moved here, they are 2 – 1 against the Cowboys which limited my bragging rights. The struggles of the Jaguars franchise has made me take note of things that could improve the Cowboys.
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The Jaguars are proof that you can have a competitive team with a solid defense and a running game. For years, that has been their identity. The faces of the franchise have been running backs Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor. That identity didn’t translate to many victories for the Jaguars, but I grew to respect them for defensive tenacity.
Like many fans, I love seeing quarterback Tony Romo hit that spin move and toss the ball downfield. Usually that play ends with wide receiver Dez Bryant throwing up the X. Still, there was a missing ingredient and the Cowboys switched to a 4-3 defense and added defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.
In 2014, the Cowboys had success with a ground and pound attack and an opportunistic, but average defense. The Cowboys also have a passing attack that offers an additional threat that kept defenses honest. An aerial attack is the threat the Jaguars have been searching for. Developing a rushing attack as an identity is great, but being balanced offensively equals success.
The Jaguars have also been adept at cutting their losses. In 2011, the Jaguars selected their franchise quarterback Blaine Gabbert with the 10th pick of the NFL draft. Gabbert stood 6′ 5” and weighed 235 pounds. His measurables are comparable to quarterbacks Peyton Manning (6′ 5”, 230) and Ben Roethlisberger (6′ 5”, 240). Unfortunately, at the end of three years, Gabbert’s Jaguars career ended with 5 wins and 22 losses.
The Jaguars then drafted Blake Bortles with the 3rd selection of the 2014 NFL draft. Bortles stands 6′ 5” and weighs 232 pounds. In his rookie year, Bortles finished 13 starts with a 3-10 record.
I’m sure there’s an analyst that will claim a quarterback should be 6′ 5” to throw over an offensive line or something. There are many factors to being a good or successful quarterback in the NFL than height and weight.
For that reason, I paid close attention to the Cowboys undrafted free agent quarterback Dustin Vaughan. Vaughan is 6′ 5”, 220 pounds and held a roster spot in 2014 as the Cowboys third string quarterback. Apparently, he made an impression with the coaching staff.
Now I wonder if Vaughan played himself off the team after his performance against the San Diego Chargers in the first preseason game. After reading this article by fellow Landry Hat staff writer Brad Austin, I find it hard to believe that Vaughan attended any quarterback meetings last season. Vaughan didn’t look like the next Manning, but another quarterback that also stood 6′ 5” and 226 pounds. I’m speaking of Brad Johnson a.k.a. Captain Checkdown.
Vaughan didn’t throw much to his wide receivers or use his arm strength to put the ball into tight windows. It’s the reason tight end Gavin Escobar had such a big night. Vaughan predetermined his target pre-snap and stared down receivers. He never moved defenders with his eyes but did do a Romo-esque spin move to avoid a safety.
If Vaughan is more confident and comfortable with the offense, I didn’t see it. Are the Cowboys in love with Vaughan’s measurables? If so, they could learn from the Jaguars that having a 6′ 5” quarterback doesn’t equal success in the NFL. For every Peyton Manning, there’s a JaMarcus Russell (6′ 6″, 265).
With three remaining preseason games, I’d like to see more of Jameill Showers (6′ 1”, 231) with the first or second team. Showers had a few on-target throws that were dropped by wide receiver Deontay Greenberry. Showers hit receivers in stride and when in doubt, he tucked the ball away and ran downfield.
Seeing Showers run downfield gave me a Quincy Carter flashback. Definitely not as fast as Michael Vick or Randall Cunningham in their prime, but he gained yards and didn’t force a throw. You can be a good quarterback and make a team by avoiding negative plays.
Hopefully head coach Jason Garrett allows Cowboy Nation to see more of Showers with better talent around him. If he performs well, Showers is going to be on the roster because another team will take him off the practice squad. At least Showers won’t be a wasting a roster spot because he’s also willing to play special teams.
Find me at Facebook.com/CowboysRob