I’d like to take this time to welcome our newest contributor, former Cowboy long snapper, Josh Elias. We interviewed Josh earlier this week. Check that out here.
As always, thanks for reading and leave us your answers in the comment section below.
The Cowboys ranked 5th nationally in sacks last year with 40 but lost nearly half of those in Bean and Ogbah (18.5). What is a realistic number for 2016?
I don't think 30 is an unreasonable number to expect. The defense line/linebackers have plenty of talent, it's just unproven talent at this point.
Hopefully we don't have a huge drop off. But I don't expect us to be near 5th in the country in sacks next season.
You can't expect to replace guys like Ogbah and Bean immediately. I don't think this group will match their 40 sacks from last year. However, the interior line has a year under their belt after filling in for James Castleman and Ofa Hautau. Vincent Taylor and Mote Maile had some much needed experience, and success, in 2015 that will put them miles ahead from where they were at this time last year. Darrion Daniels is a guy to keep an eye out to have a break out season. He showed maturity and toughness beyond his years during his time on the field last season. Also, the athleticism of Jarrell Owens and Jordan Brailford will really open the eyes of Cowboy fans this year. We caught a glimpse of their ability last year filling in for an injured Bean. Expect them to have success going under the radar among the Big XII this season. Total sacks in the 2016 season: 26.
Less than 40.
I’d love to see them get to 30+. Vincent is a tank and is going to eat blocks like I eat pizza. I think the ends will find success on the outside and we are going to blitz A LOT.
I'll say 39.5. I mean we have to lose a little in Ogbah and Bean, right? Honestly though, I think 32 is a good number. That would have ranked 33rd last season, which seems reasonable. The DEs are talented and should benefit greatly from the interior line, but I think 32 is a fair expectation because of the youth on the outside and more than one matchup in which sacks won't come easily.
I will put the number at 35, which would have ranked fifth in the Big 12 last year. Vincent Taylor should continue to grow and headline this group. Darrion Daniels is a stud in the making and I have a good feeling about Jarrell Owens. Vili Leveni could either be back up at tackle or end OR could be the best player in the front seven next year.
Which incoming transfer do you expect to make a bigger impact? Barry J. Sanders or Auburn transfer Derrick Moncrief (Moncrief had to sit out last year)?
I'm going with Barry. Mainly because he needs to have a bigger impact seeing as the running game has been such a liability since Joe Randle left.
Well, it's easy to say Barry J. Sanders, because he is "Barry Sanders", but I'm going to go with Moncrief here. Barry has to share his running load with a couple capable 'backs. I think Moncrief has a chance to play a lot of football this upcoming season. He has the speed of a safety, and the size of a linebacker. This is a guy that was the #1 safety in JUCO, and played in all 13 games in the SEC two seasons ago. Even though our safeties are returning from last year, I expect Moncrief to have a big role in our defensive scheme this upcoming season.
It's easy to get excited about Barry J. Sanders from a nostalgic, loyal and true perspective. Sanders was obviously overshadowed by Heisman candidate Christian McCaffrey, but showed flashes of "what could've been". The offensive line's development will be the true key to an improved running game, but having someone who can make things happen like Barry will help a bunch.
Derrick Moncrief is someone who has an opportunity on defense, as well as special teams in the coverage units. He has a year of experience in the system and with this coaching staff, as well as a hunger to go out and make a difference after sitting out a year. I expect him to fill a similar role to what Chad Whitener played last year. I think Moncrief will have a bigger impact than Sanders.
I sincerely hope Barry J Sanders is the answer to this question at the end of the season.
All the story lines are there for Barry, but I think the answer is Moncrief. I say that because I tend to place more blame on the offensive line than on the running backs, so either the line is improved, in which case all of the backs should have better seasons or the line is not improved and I don't think Barry J. is good enough to overcome what we've seen out of the line the last couple of seasons.
Moncrief on the other hand, while he does come into an already solid secondary, has a chance to step into what I hope is a more balanced rotation that keeps guys fresh throughout games and into the second half of the schedule.
I want to say Barry J., but the realist in me thinks this will be a rushing attack by committee the fanatical side wants another Sanders Heisman.
But I think Moncrief has the size and the experience to be a big time player on defense. Last year at this time we thought Chris Carson would be the biggest impact transfer. Jordan Burton had something to say about that, finishing second behind only Jordan Sterns in tackles.
I think 2016 plays out much in the same way. Moncrief has that year of experience in the system, learning the schemes. He knows what the Spencinator wants from him and he’s only got one year to deliver.
Sanders has the same amount of eligibility remaining but he’s also got the issue of an offensive line that while now experienced still has much to prove.
Who starts at punt returner and kickoff returner in game one?
Kick Return: McCleskey & the freshman speedster LD Brown
Punt Return: McCleskey
Ahh, this is a guessing man's game. Probably Jalen "Pesky" McCleskey.
I think we continue to see Jeff Carr in the return game. He is quick and can track the ball well, which is something Jalen McClesky had issues with last year. Unless McClesky has gotten significantly better in tracking punts, I don't see him in the return game this year despite his big play ability. A wild card I like at returner is Jakeem Johnson. Good tracking ability and very dynamic with the ball in open space. He can definitely make something happen and it was easy to see that watching him return for the scout teams against our starters last year.
The fastest guy who Gundy trusts to catch the ball, and right now that's McCleskey.
Game 1? Probably Jalen but it’ll change as the year progresses.
I would expect Jalen McCleskey because Gundy tends to be loyal (hardheaded) about such things and my assumption is that I was forced to sit through the freshman giving me a heart attack every time he fielded a punt last season because the coaching staff saw something special in him and I don't think they're ready to bail on that just yet. I think they saw potential that was worth the growing pains. Either that or Gundy was being paid off by my cardiologist.
I’m going to have to agree with the special teams expert here. I was optimistic about Johnson contributing based on what I’ve heard, but the running back group is pretty full. Johnson at punt returner seems to be an intriguing fit.
We know Gundy holds special teams in high esteem and wants the return game to reclaiim some of its former luster. I will go with Johnson and Carr for Game 1 but like Gundy will reserve the right to change my mind if plays aren’t made.