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3 Players Who Need To Step Up Vs. Cardinals

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Blog - Sean Lee Named To Pro Bowl 3

Tonight the Dallas Cowboys have a chance to get back on track. Following an embarrassing loss to the Denver Broncos a week ago, Dallas now travels to Arizona looking for some measure of redemption.

If they are going to win this game, and get themselves back over .500, three players in particular must vastly improve on their performances from week two.

Ezekiel Elliott and The Offensive Line

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly For Cowboys Against Giants 4

Sep 10, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs with the ball off a block from guard Chaz Green (79) against New York Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas (52) in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

I mean, duh, right?

Running back Ezekiel Elliott had the worst game of his career last week, rushing for under 10 yards on under 10 carries. It was such an uncharacteristically bad game for Zeke that it's hard to imagine he struggles that much ever again. But the Cardinals defense is a tough unit which will definitely put an emphasis on stopping Elliott tonight.

Elliott was also criticized for his "lack of effort" during the fourth quarter of last week's blowout loss. A big game from Zeke today would go a long way to silencing all of those critics.

The unit which must improve the most, however, is that offensive line. For the first time in about three years, the Cowboys o-line was physically beaten for four quarters. It was a rare sight to see, and the Cowboys have to be better upfront if they plan on winning this week.

Sean LeeSean Lee Receives High Praise From Pro Football Focus

The best player on the Dallas Cowboys defense was downright bad last Sunday afternoon. Linebacker Sean Lee is the leader of a unit which will be undermanned Monday night, meaning that he must lead by example for all four quarters.

Lee missed several tackles last week and just seemed to be a step slow against both the run and pass. Of course, the entire Cowboys defense missed tackles and looked to be playing catch-up, but they seem to go as Sean Lee does.

If Lee can do a better job getting off blocks and making tackles Monday night, I'd expect the rest of the Cowboys defense to do the same.

Byron Jones

Cowboys FS Byron Jones Works With Frisco RoughRiders To Improve Hands

Nov 8, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones (31) during the second half of a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Eagles won 33-27 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone familiar with my previous articles knows how much I love Byron Jones. To me, Jones is clearly the second best player on this defense, and is the general of the secondary the way that Lee is the leader of the front seven.

Byron Jones has the ability to be a top-flight safety in this league, and though he has been a model of consistency through most of his young career, he was simply not good enough in Denver last week.

Now, I'm not worried about Byron Jones, just like I'm not worried about Sean Lee, Ezekiel Elliott, or this offensive line. These players are supposed to be the strength of this team as they are all clearly among the best players on the roster. Tonight they need to play like it. Just like they did last year, and just like did against the New York Giants.

Hopefully, for the sake of Cowboys Nation, these players can step up and keep the Cowboys in pace with the rest of the NFC East.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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Star Blog

DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

Kevin Brady

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DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.

The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.

After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.

So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.

What exactly is that role, though?

I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.

Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.

Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.

If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.

This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.



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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

Kevin Brady

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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.

Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.

Randall Cobb on Twitter

Randall Cobb on Twitter

https://t.co/9H9xfApFqe

In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.

This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

https://twitter.com/tae15adams/status/1108158105957920770

RJ Ochoa on Twitter

Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb

Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.



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Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Malik McDowell, Michigan State

The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.

McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.

None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.

2017 NFL Draft: Scouting Michigan State DL Malik McDowell - Slant Sports

The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.

Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?

"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.

On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."

nfldraft malik mcdowell 3

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.

nfldraft malik mcdowell 4

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.

Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.



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