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3 Players Who Could Disappoint Cowboys Nation in 2017

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Could Any of These 3 Cowboys Disappoint Cowboys Nation in 2017?
Hannah Foslien / Getty Images

I like optimism, I really do. I'm an optimistic person myself. When it comes to football, it's not hard to look at a certain player and think he'll have a breakout season during July. But there comes a time during the NFL offseason that you have to stop and look at things realistically. The "This Player Looks Younger Than Three Years Ago" and "This Other Player Feels Better Than Ever" headlines can become pretty exhausting.

Every year, there's at least one player who doesn't live up to these optimistic offseason expectations, and ends up disappointing fans.

That is why today, I try to identify three Cowboys players who could end up disappointing Cowboys Nation in 2017.

Before we begin, it's worth mentioning that I avoided both rookies and free agents who've just joined the team.

Could Jeff Heath Be The Starting Safety Next Byron Jones In 2017?

S Jeff Heath

Safety is a position that will be up for grabs this year, and with multiple decent players fighting for the starting job, Jeff Heath has a chance to get more snaps this season. Heath has shown promising flashes when on the field, and naturally, expectations have grown for him.

Heath was signed as an UDFA in 2013. There must be a reason why we haven't seen him much. There must be a reason why he never outplayed JJ Wilcox. Sure, Wilcox did have a pretty good season in 2016, but that wasn't the case in previous years.

Throughout the offseason, Jeff Heath has been one of the main topics for Cowboys fans.

Problem is, we haven't seen Heath play on a consistent basis.

Sometimes, he can look like a playmaker. But he probably hasn't shown us enough from a coverage perspective. Out of the three players on this list, he may be the least likely to live up to expectations.

La'el Collins

OL La'el Collins

Collins did a good job as a LG during 2015. He never stopped throwing defenders around. But we didn't see him as much in 2016. After suffering an injury against the Chicago Bears, Ron Leary took his place.

Before that though, Collins didn't seem to have progressed much. After Leary took over, the offensive line worked better. In my opinion, the only player who can replace Ron Leary without being a downgrade for the position is La'el.

But it doesn't look like Collins will be the left guard this year, as he has practiced as the starting right tackle this offseason. Some consider it a mistake, some consider it the right call.

The last we saw from Collins as a left guard was barely above-average. He hasn't played a single snap at RT. He has the traits, but how good will he really be?

It's only fair to recognize he might fail to have an above-average performance as a RT in 2017.

David Irving

DL David Irving

The main reason I chose Irving for this list is his four-game suspension. 2017 won't be the first season we will be thinking pass rush reinforcements are coming week five.

Irving is perhaps the most promising DL on the team right now. He's always shown flashes of a great pass rusher and late last year he had several premium performances. It was just a matter of getting him more snaps. There doesn't seem to be a reason to think he won't be as good or better this year.

It wasn't until the Cowboys final three games that we saw Irving most of the time on the field. Before that he didn't have a very big role.

Will he be able to have a breakout year after being out for the first four games? Or will he fail to meet expectations?

Tell me what you think about "3 Players Who Could Disappoint Cowboys Nation in 2017" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @PepoR99.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Jess Haynie

    Jess Haynie

    July 6, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Way to be a buzzkill, Mauricio.

    You did pick a good three, though, as all of them are being expected to fill big roles without a lot of supporting evidence. Perception changes so much once a player’s workload increases; flaws are more likely to be exposed and he’s more likely to have mistakes/failures with more fatigue.

    Of the three, I have the most confidence in Collins. While I don’t think he’ll ever be as good at tackle as he could’ve been at guard, he still played it very well in college and in the SEC. At worst, he’ll be a solid starter.

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Mauricio Rodriguez

      July 6, 2017 at 10:12 am

      Sorry to be a buzzkill, Jess. I did feel bad writing this, but I think this is something Cowboys Nation needs to read. That’s exactly why I picked these three.
      Out of these three, I’d agree with you on Collins. He won’t be bad. Hope none of them ends up being bad.

  2. John Williams

    John Williams

    July 7, 2017 at 2:32 am

    Hype Train Derailed… lol.

    These three don’t have a whole lot of tape to go on to project that they will be major contributors in 2017.

    Even prior to the David Irving suspension, I was concerned that he was the guy to be relied upon to improve the pass rush.

    Heath will either be the GOAT that we all thought he was, or he will be the goat o the defense.

    La’el at RT has me super pumped for what the offense could do running right.

    Honorable mention to this would be Any of the players make their debuts with the team. Jaylon, Tapper, Chido, Lewis, Woods, Switzer, Taco. The hype is getting big surrounding those players who have yet to play a down yet.

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Mauricio Rodriguez

      July 7, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      Exactly. That’s why I decided to avoid rookies. Any of them can end up being a bust, whether we like it or not. They´re rookies. Sorry to derail the hype train, John!

      • John Williams

        John Williams

        July 10, 2017 at 2:23 am

        Lol. You’re arguments were strong. There is no guarantees from anyone that’s being hyped. Like You I take a more optimistic view for sure.

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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches
Smiley N. Pool / The Dallas Morning News

Lamentablemente, la temporada 2018 de los Dallas Cowboys ha llegado a su fin. Lo hizo cuando el equipo visitó Los Angeles para intentar sorprender a los Rams en su propio campo en la Ronda Divisional de los playoffs. Ni siquiera con una invasión exitosa de la afición de Dallas pudieron ganarse un pase al Campeonato de Conferencia. En vez de eso, los Cowboys estarán viendo desde casa y la afición estará preguntándose: ¿qué sigue para los Dallas Cowboys?

Parece ya una tradición anual que no podemos dejar pasar. Este momento en el que comenzamos a cuestionar, una vez más, que entrenador es digno de quedarse en la franquicia y cual debe irse. En esta edición de "Cowboys en Español," hablaremos específicamente de los tres principales coaches en el equipo.

Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli Should Be On The Hot Seat

Coordinador Defensivo Rod Marinelli

El futuro del coordinador defensivo de los Dallas Cowboys no se puede tratar sin mencionar a Kris Richard. Fue la defensiva la que llevó al equipo hasta la postemporada y fue la unidad que cargó al equipo en muchas de sus victorias. Incluso con la llegada de Amari Cooper a Dallas, la defensiva fue siempre el pilar de la franquicia esta temporada.

Jaylon Smith y Leighton Vander Esch sorprendentemente se perfilaron como uno de los mejores duos de linebackers en toda la liga, la línea defensiva fue muy exitosa con Randy Gregory y DeMarcus Lawrence en los extremos y con la grata sorpresa que fue Antwaun Woods en el centro. La secundaria vio la mejor temporada en la controversial carrera de Byron Jones e hizo un excelente trabajo con un talento decente, pero no genial.

Todo esto, y el haber terminado como la sexta mejor defensiva en puntos permitidos (20.2) y la quinta mejor contra la corrida (94.6), hace a Rod Marinelli merecedor de una ronda de aplausos. Sin embargo, Richard probablemente merezca más aplausos.

Fue Richard quien revolucionó la defensiva de los Cowboys y la convirtió en un grupo mucho más agresivo. Fue él quien implementó jugadas de "blitz" en el equipo (algo no común con Marinelli) y quien en un punto de la temporada, comenzó a seleccionar las jugadas desde la banda.

En esta posición, me parece que los Dallas Cowboys tienen que enfrentar la dura decisión de decirle a Marinelli que es tiempo de dejarle el puesto a Kris Richard. Si bien no se llevó un trabajo de head coach, es muy probable que le llovieran ofertas a Richard si no se hace con el título de coordinador defensivo en Dallas.

Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New "Wrinkles" in Cowboys Offense

Dallas Cowboys OC Scott Linehan (Tim Heitman / USA TODAY Sports)

Coordinador Ofensivo Scott Linehan

Con un equipo tan polémico como este, la afición de Dallas no concuerda en muchas cosas. Sin embargo, lo hacen al hablar del pésimo trabajo que Scott Linehan ha realizado mandando las jugadas en ofensiva. Realmente ha sido doloroso de ver y es en mi opinión, el mayor problema que tiene el equipo actualmente.

Semana tras semana, fuimos testigos de pésimas decisiones en la ofensiva de los Cowboys. Vimos como el equipo se aferraba a llenar la caja de defensivos antes de correr el balón con Ezekiel Elliott. Vimos incontables pases pantalla en tercera oportunidad y largo. Pero no solo es lo que vimos, sino lo que no vimos.

A pesar de la innegable habilidad para correr el balón de Dak Prescott, Linehan se rehusó a explotar esta versatilidad de su QB. Vimos pocos "QB sneaks," jugada donde el mariscal toma el balón bajo centro y consigue poco yardage detrás del empuje de su línea ofensiva.

Siendo honestos, los Cowboys llevan dos años sufriendo por este coordinador. Dejarlo volver en el 2019 sería una decisión ridícula. Los comentarios en la radio de Jason Garrett no lucen prometedores, pero realmente sería una sorpresa que fueran ciertos. Linehan no debe volver... punto.

Jerry Jones Delivers Vote of Confidence in "Real Deal" Jason Garrett

Head Coach Jason Garrett

El futuro en esta posición será muy debatido durante los próximos meses, pero de los tres que hemos mencionado es sin lugar a dudas el más seguro de todos. Nos guste o no, Jason Garrett estará al frente del equipo la próxima temporada.

Garrett está lejos de ser un gran coach y aún le hace falta demostrar que puede cumplir las aspiraciones de los Cowboys de traer un sexto Trofeo Lombardi a casa. Pero siendo honesto, este equipo debería tener suficiente con Garrett y un par de buenos coordinadores. ¿El problema? No hay un par de buenos coordinadores en el equipo.

Sin embargo, Garrett ha demostrado que cuenta con el amor y apoyo de sus jugadores. Ha demostrado que efectivamente, puede ganar la división (lo ha hecho en tres de los últimos cinco años). Este año el equipo le dio la vuelta a la temporada después de comenzar 3-5.

Lo más preocupante en mi opinión, es la falta de urgencia para despedir a Linehan, por ejemplo. Quizá a puerta cerrada Garrett quiere un cambio en su staff, pero nunca lo sabremos.

Jason Garrett no es un coach excelente, pero podría ser suficiente para llevar a los Cowboys a un Super Bowl si tiene un equipo adecuado. Todo parece indicar que su trabajo está seguro (incluso más de lo que pensamos) así que es tiempo de esperar que se arreglen sus coordinadores.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch

Kevin Brady

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Leighton Vander Esch Lands on List of NFL's Top 10 Rookies

As the first round draft pick of America's Team, any player would be under a ton of pressure from all angles. Whether it's from the fans on the outside or the organization on the inside, the expectations around being a first round pick for the Cowboys are immense. But the pressure placed upon linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, from the second he was announced as the 19th overall draft pick, was second to none.

It felt like Cowboys Nation let out a collective groan when Vander Esch was taken, with fans hoping for a more glamorous first round selection. Someone like wide receiver Calvin Ridley or edge rusher Harold Landry would've done the trick, but after Vander Esch's rookie season it's hard to imagine either of those players would have had the impact Vander Esch did in 2018.

Though he didn't start a game until week 4, and didn't become the unquestioned full-time starting WILL until week 10, Vander Esch earned Pro Bowl honors for his rookie season. Tallying 140 total tackles and 2 interceptions, Vander Esch made his presence felt week in and week out.

No counting stats can fully measure Leighton Vander Esch's impact as a rookie, however.

Prior to the 2018 season, the Cowboys defensive success often came down to the health of Sean Lee. When available and playing at his best, Lee led an overachieving Cowboys defense to solid performances each week. But, when Lee went out (as he often did), the entire Cowboys defense seemed to fall apart.5 Studs and Duds From the Dallas Cowboys 2018 Season

This year, though, that all changed. When Sean Lee was out with injury the Cowboys defense got better. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith became a versatile, hard hitting tandem the NFL immediately feared, and helped to direct the Cowboys defense to signature wins throughout the 2018 season.

There are arguments against taking any off-ball linebacker in the first round, as the value of the position has been questioned due to the new style of offense in the NFL. Nowadays linebackers are relegated to two-down players, taken off the field in favor of faster defensive backs on critical passing downs.

Leighton Vander Esch is athletic enough to be both an old school run stopper, but also a three down linebacker in today's fast paced NFL.

Despite the doubts which surrounded the pick, the Cowboys absolutely nailed their first round selection in 2018. And Leighton Vander Esch made Dallas' front office look like geniuses each and every Sunday.



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Star Blog

What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?

Kevin Brady

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.

Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.

They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?

Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.

Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.

Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.

Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.

Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.

This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.

The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.



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