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3 Reasons the Dallas Cowboys’ Offense will be Explosive in 2019

John Williams

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Amari Cooper

For the first half of the 2018 season, the Dallas Cowboys offense struggled to keep up any semblance of consistency. The passing game couldn't find a rhythm and the offense as a whole struggled as the Cowboys started 3-4 and looked dead in the water.

Then the front office made a huge splash and traded for Amari Cooper and the season turned immediately. After the trade, the Dallas Cowboys went 7-2, won the NFC East, and advanced to the divisional round of the NFC Playoffs.

On the offensive side of the ball they were trending in the right direction, but in the playoffs against the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams, still had times where they struggled to move the ball and score points.

Heading into 2019, that won't be the case. Instead, the Dallas Cowboys offense will be a unit that teams will struggle to contain this season.

Here are three reasons why.

1. Dak Prescott gets a Full Offseason with Amari Cooper and Others

The chemistry that Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper were able to find in the middle of the 2018 season was really incredible. It can be difficult for a wide receiver and a quarterback to get on the same page quickly, but he and Prescott found a groove early and it carried throughout the rest of the season.

From week nine to through the end of the 2018 season, Amari Cooper was eighth in targets, receptions, and reception percentage (among players who saw at least 47 targets). Cooper was ninth in yards, fourth in touchdowns, and fourth in first downs.

Now, Dak and Amari will have a full offseason to work together, which should only help them moving forward.

Not only will Dak get a full offseason with Cooper, but with several others on the offense as well.

Heading into 2019, Michael Gallup isn't buried on the depth chart. He's the number two receiver behind Amari Cooper.

Gallup and Prescott had a difficult time connecting on deep balls throughout the 2018 season, but got better as the year went along. Having more time to work this offseason with Gallup solidified with the first unit will be key to the development of their rapport. It's one of the reasons that many are expecting a breakout season for the second year wide receiver.

In addition to Gallup and Cooper, the Cowboys will look to work Tight End Blake Jarwin in with the first team offense. Jarwin and Prescott found a connection in the second half of the year. That connection was never more clear than when Blake Jarwin exploded for seven catches, 119 yards, and three touchdowns in the week 17 finale against the New York Giants.

In that game, Jarwin displayed impressive athleticism and an ability to threaten down the seem. It was the game that showed why the front office has been so high on Jarwin despite limited playing time and college production.

If Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin can further develop their rapport with Dak Prescott, the passing game should go to another level in 2019.

Kellen Moore, Jason Garrett, Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore

2. Kellen Moore as the Offensive Coordinator

The move from long time Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan to Kellen Moore should have every Cowboys fan excited. Sure, Moore is an unknown, but knowing what we know about Jason Garrett, he wouldn't have made the change at offensive coordinator if he didn't think Moore would bring new energy and ideas to a stagnant offense.

It's believed that Kellen Moore will use more pre-snap motion in his offense. Using pre-snap motion also allows the offense to dictate matchups and exploit any mismatches. Under Linehan the only motion we saw was a tight end moving across the formation or Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield.

For years we've heard that Kellen Moore is a really smart football mind. If he's able to tailor an offense for the Dallas Cowboys elite talent, it should lead to a more consistent and more explosive offense. The Dallas Cowboys have the weapons on offense to be able to score a lot of points. We saw it in 2016 when they were top five in scoring. There's no reason this group shouldn't be able to score at will on their opponents.

3. Home Run Hitters

In 2018, unless the Dallas Cowboys hit on a pass play down the field to Michael Gallup, Amari Cooper, or Tavon Austin, the offense didn't get many explosive plays for touchdowns. And there were a lot of plays left on the table.

Yes, Ezekiel Elliott had some big gains, but his long run was for only 41 yards and his long reception went for only 38 yards. Compare that to his rookie season when he had a long carry of 60 yards and a long reception of 83 yards. The Cowboys didn't get many explosive plays for scores in the running game.

Though he didn’t need break as many long runs last season, Elliott is still a threat to go the distance every time he touches the football. In 2018, he led the NFL in runs of more than 10 yards. That number is down from his 2016 total, but still shows a player who is a threat to hit a big play every time he touches it. Opposing defenses are more focused on slowing down Ezekiel Elliot than ever before, but with the improvement in the passing game and upgrades on the offensive line, Elliott should find more success getting into the open field in 2019.

After Elliott though, the running game hasn't really been a threat to opposing defenses.

Well, the Dallas Cowboys went into the draft looking to add another explosive weapon to the offense and they did so in Memphis Running Back Tony Pollard. Over Pollard's last two seasons he averaged 7.7 and 7.1 yards per carry for the Tigers. In addition to that, he averaged 14.1 yards per reception as a sophomore and 11.7 yards per reception as a junior. He's not the runner that Elliott is, but his ability with the ball in his hands will put defenses on notice.

Pollard is an important addition to the offense, but there is no player that will have a bigger impact than Center Travis Frederick. Frederick's presence is going to offer more time in the front of the pocket for Dak Prescott and should provide cleaner pockets for Prescott to step into when pressured.

Seeing the extra size and strength that Connor Williams has added to his frame this offseason is impressive. If there's an area where he struggled -- and he got better as the year went along -- it was in his ability to handle power rushers. If Williams can show a marked improvement in that area, he and Frederick are going to allow Dak Prescott more time in the pocket to survey the defense.

Having more time will lead to bigger play potential. Players like Amari Cooper and Tavon Austin are threats to go the distance every time they touch the ball. Michael Gallup showed an impressive ability to get open deep in his rookie season and I expect that to be the case again heading into his second year.

The addition of Randall Cobb to the slot brings a player that has shown the ability to create big plays after the catch. In Cobb's eight year NFL career, he's averaged 6.1 yards after the catch per reception, according to Pro Football Focus. For Cole Beasley's career, he's only averaged 4.9 yards after the catch per reception. Cobb is a different kind of receiver than Beasley, but he's more dangerous once he gets the ball in his hands.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

With the running game, the group of receivers the Cowboys will use, the improvements along the offensive line, and hopefully an improved Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys have the makings of an offense that will put a lot of points on the board in 2019. For the Cowboys take a big step in 2019, the offense will have to lead the way. The defense is ready to contend, but in the high scoring NFC, the offense will have to be able to consistently put up points to keep pace.



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Training Camp Preview: Tight End

Jess Haynie

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Jason Witten
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The shocking return of Jason Witten is a feelgood story for the 2019 Dallas Cowboys, but will it really mean on the field? How will Witten's big presence impact the tight end position during the upcoming training camp and beyond?

Before we ever knew Jason would come back from retirement, Blake Jarwin was stirring up excitement as the new starting TE this year. His huge three-touchdown game in Week 17 last year, while an extreme example, showed the kind of receiving threat he might be going forward.

Still, before Witten announce his return to football, some wanted the Cowboys to invest more in the position. Whether it came in the form of a veteran free agent like Jared Cook or Tyler Eifert, or a high draft pick, there was the thought that Dallas needed to guard themselves against Jarwin being a flash in the pan.

But once we heard that Jason was back, we knew that there wouldn't be any big moves at TE this offseason. The Cowboys are hoping that some combination of Witten's actual return to the field, or his mentoring of their young prospects, will elevate the position from last year.

Here is our projected TE depth chart for the 2019 training camp:

  1. Jason Witten
  2. Blake Jarwin
  3. Dalton Schultz
  4. Rico Gathers
  5. Codey McElroy

While Jarwin may wind up having the most snaps and targets of any TE this season, it's a safe bet that Witten will get some deference as a Cowboys legend. That's why we're making him the starter right now, even with a year away.

The balancing between Blake and Jason as the top two will be something we watch all season. Not only does it impact the 2019 offense, but we want to know if Dallas has a TE of the future in house or will need to make a big move next year to solidify the position.

Dalton Schultz

Dallas Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz

2018 4th-round pick Dalton Schultz may have something to say about the presumed top two. If he's made some strides in his sophomore season, Schultz could force a full-blown committee approach at tight end.

From a financial standpoint, Dallas would love for Schultz to take over the position in 2020.  He is signed through 2021 on a cheap rookie contract, while Jarwin will be a restricted free agent next year.

Predicting who emerges between Jarwin and Schultz is hard to say, but what isn't hard to imagine is that these may be Rico Gathers' last few weeks as a Cowboy.

Now entering his fourth season, the basketball-to-football transformation project has not been able to break through. He has expressed frustration with the TE depth chart during the offseason, and a one-game suspension to start 2019 isn't going to help matters.

Dallas may just be keeping three tight ends this year. They have WR Noah Brown and FB Jamize Olawale who are built to do play like smallish TEs. If they only keep three, it won't matter how much Rico has progressed.

If the Cowboys go with four tight ends that last guy may not be Gathers. They signed prospect Codey McElroy this offseason, who spent last year as an undrafted rookie with the Rams. McElroy may be their new developmental project.

Dallas' 2019 camp will offer plenty of new insights into the TE position. How do they split the workload between Jason Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz? Can Rico Gathers do anything to fight his way into the conversation, or will he lose his spot to Codey McElroy?

We look forward to getting some more answers in the coming weeks.

~ ~ ~

OTHER 2019 CAMP PREVIEWS



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Dallas Cowboys

Guillain-Barre Syndrome: Travis Frederick’s Health Still a Concern?

Brian Martin

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Concerns About Travis Frederick's Health Still Justifiable
George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It's been nearly a year since Dallas Cowboys Center Travis Frederick was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), an autoimmune disease. And although all signs are pointing towards him making a full recovery and regaining his starting job, there are still some lingering concerns about his health.

Travis Frederick didn't miss a start in his previous five seasons with the Dallas Cowboys before being diagnosed with GBS. He was an Ironman and was the anchor for the Cowboys talented offensive line. But battling injuries and an autoimmune disease in which there is a lot of unknown about still are two different animals. It's the unknown here that still carries some concern.

What is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

According to the Mayo Clinic, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) occurs when the body mistakenly attacks its own nerves, specifically the peripheral nervous system, which connects the brain and the spinal cord to the rest of the body. This can result in a wide range the nerve-related symptoms, including tingling, prickling, or pins and needles sensations; muscle weakness; difficulty walking, talking, chewing, or swallowing; pain; and, in severe cases paralysis, which can become life-threatening if breathing is affected.

As with many autoimmune diseases, experts don't fully understand what causes GBS. There is still a lot of unknown about this disease, and that includes how to treat it and recover from it. However, when diagnosed early, like in Frederick's case, the chances of stabilizing sooner rather than later are pretty good. Although, the recovery process can be a slow one, anywhere from a few weeks to a few years.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome Cure and Recovery Time?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for GBS at this current time. There are a couple of treatments which has shown some success, although patients respond differently which makes determining a person's recovery time nearly impossible.

According to the Mayo Clinic, most people recover within 6 to 12 months. However, about 30% of people still experience lingering weakness three years after a diagnosis, reports the Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and about 15% continue to have weakness long after that. Hence, the lingering concern about Travis Frederick and his future health.

Travis Frederick's Optimism

Despite all the unknown with GBS and how it's affected Travis Frederick's life, he sounds pretty optimistic his health is trending in the right direction.

"I feel really good about where I am at. Both in recovery from Guillain-Barre syndrome and the offseason surgeries that I had done. We are just starting to get to the end of the shoulder rehab. That will start to free up a little bit of my activities. But as far as (Guillain-Barre syndrome) goes, I feel really, really good. It's gonna be hard to tell whether I'm back exactly 100 percent until I can go against another player at full speed in full pads. I don't think we're actually going to know until training camp. But all signs are currently pointing to really good things."

As if we didn't already have enough to keep an eye on once the Dallas Cowboys start training, Travis Frederick certainly jumps to the top of the list. How he is able to respond in some "live-action" practices should help determine where he's at healthwise. Hopefully for his sake, and the sake of the Cowboys, he's back to 100% or as close to it as possible.

Are you concerned about Travis Frederick's health heading into 2019?



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Report: Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott Planning Training Camp Holdout?

John Williams

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Ezekiel Elliott: NFL's History with Domestic Violence Shows Inconsistency, Hypocrisy 2

All offseason, the possibility of a new contract for Dallas Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott has been a hot button issue among media and fans alike. Not because Ezekiel Elliott isn't a great player and worthy of top running back money, but because the idea of paying running backs north of $15 million a year isn't as simple as, "Is he worth it?"

There is significant evidence that the running back position experiences a significant decline in production around their age 28 season and few running backs play into their 30's with good to elite production. Ezekiel Elliott, though he's experienced heavy usage in his first three seasons, could be the exception to the rule.

Well, knowing his worth to the Dallas Cowboys he's expecting a heavy payday at some point in the next couple of seasons. Elliott is under contract through 2019 and the Cowboys picked up his rookie option for 2020. So, technically, Elliott wouldn't be a free agent until the 2021 offseason. However, much like in the case of Todd Gurley, Elliott's looking to get paid early to maximize his prime years as the Dallas Cowboys running back.

Within the last hour, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk released a report that Ezekiel Elliott is planning on holding out of training camp if he doesn't receive a new contract, per a "league source." It should be noted that Mike Florio has had some missteps in his reporting of Dallas Cowboys news, most notably the perpetuating a rumor that Dez Bryant was caught on videotape doing something at a Wal-Mart, that would have a "Ray Rice type of impact." A tape that has never been discovered or produced and a story that's completely died off since it was originally reported in 2015.

Given the recent news that Melvin Gordon is planning a training camp hold out, it should come as no surprise that Elliott is being mentioned similarly. ESPN even mentioned the idea of Elliott and a looming contractual holdout in a piece earlier today, but their prediction pointed to 2021 and wasn't a report based on fact or a source, but a prediction for next year.

The two-time NFL rushing champ is scheduled to count $7.9 million in 2019 and just over $9 million in 2020 against the salary cap. His salary for 2019 is only $3.8 million. Elliott certainly has earned the right to be paid like Todd Gurley ($14.37 million per year), Le'Veon Bell ($13.13 million per year), and David Johnson ($13 million per year) despite having two more years on his deal.

In looking at the long-term impact of Elliott's contract, I've advocated that if the Dallas Cowboys intend to pay Elliott, now's the time to do it. A contract extension now, that adds three or four more years onto his existing deal would get Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys to his age 28 or 29 season. In a well-structured contract, they'd have opportunities to get out at the back end if Elliott experienced a significant decline in production.

Ezekiel Elliott's contract is going to continue to be a hot button issue until he's either signed to an extension or it's made known that the Dallas Cowboys have no intention of extending him. Currently, there aren't any other sources confirming Elliott's plan to hold out of training camp, which starts July 27th, but it's a story that we'll continue to follow here on InsideTheStar.com.

Update: 7/16/2019 10:42 am.

Charles Robinson, Senior Reporter for Yahoo! Sports provided some insight into the thinking of Elliott and his representation.

It certainly seems like holding out is on the table for Ezekiel Elliott and his representation, but no decision has been made at this point.

Check back with us for updates on Ezekiel Elliott's contract extension. 



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