Like it or not Cowboys Nation, the Philadelphia Eagles are now the latest Super Bowl champions after their 41-33 victory of the New England Patriots. Despite a close game, things just fell the Eagles way. It's a hard pill to swallow for a lot of Dallas Cowboys fan, but swallow it we must.
Although I wasn't personally rooting for the Eagles, I'm not all that upset they were the Super Bowl victors. They've been one of the best teams in the entire NFL throughout the 2017 season and were able to overcome several obstacles placed in the way.
Now, I don't want to give the Eagles too much credit, because there were a few touchdown catches that probably should've been overturned. Luckily for the Eagles though, the officiating thought otherwise. We as Cowboys fans could only sit back and watch in disbelief plays that were oddly similar to the Dez Bryant "catch" against the Green Bay Packers a few seasons ago.
But, I'm not here to rehash what should've/could've been. I'm more focused on the Dallas Cowboys and what they can possibly learn from the now Super Bowl champs, the Philadelphia Eagles.
Continue to read below to see the three things I believe the Dallas Cowboys could learn from the Philadelphia Eagles.
Become more of an Aggressor
The Philadelphia Eagles had the mindset of being the aggressor against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl and it ended up working in their favor. It was really no surprise because that's just the way the Eagles played the entire season.
Doug Pederson was aggressive all season with his play calling and didn't back down against the Patriots in the Super Bowl either. His fourth-down trick play touchdown pass to Nick Foles was proof of that and it was arguably the turning point of the game.
On the other side of the ball, Jim Schwartz operated an aggressive/attacking defense. The Eagles defense was one of the better units the entire season, and they eventually wore down the Patriots and started getting to Tom Brady.
The Dallas Cowboys could definitely adopt some of this aggressiveness in all phases of their game. They have been pretty simplistic and predictable on both offense and defense since Jason Garrett has taken over as head coach. It might be time to take a page out of the Eagles book and incorporate it in Dallas.
This also spills over into the Cowboys approach in free agency. They need to be more aggressive going after free agents who can actually contribute to the team. They can't continue to sign players who don't even make it through the season.
Adequate Roster Depth is a Must
One of the most important things the Dallas Cowboys could have possibly learned from the Philadelphia Eagles is how important roster depth is in order to overcome injuries.
The Cowboys 2017 season was pretty much derailed when some of their key players were out due to injuries. They didn't have an adequate replacement in place for Tyron Smith, which caused a breakdown in protection and it had a ripple effect throughout the offense. The same can be said for Sean Lee as well.
The Eagles however were able to overcome injuries to quite a few of their key players and not have it affect them negatively. They lost their starting left tackle (Jason Peters), starting linebacker (Jordan Hicks), and their franchise quarterback (Carson Wentz) and didn't really skip a beat.
The Dallas Cowboys absolutely have to do a better job of addressing their depth, especially at key positions. It's unfathomable to think that injuries to just a few players can derail an entire season, but that's what happened. It can't continue!
Play Calling Should Highlight Strengths of QB
The Dallas Cowboys play calling was obviously an issue this last season. It was still pretty much the same offense Tony Romo operated, with a few run/pass options (RPOs) thrown in here and there. This is something that absolutely needs to be addressed this off-season.
Doug Pederson did a masterful job playing to Carson Wentz's strengths in 2017 and it was one of the reasons he was in the MVP discussion prior to his injury. Pederson incorporated a lot of RPOs and even added a few of Wentz's favorite plays he liked from college. He did the same thing once Nick Foles took over.
The Cowboys need to follow suit and do the same thing with Dak Prescott going forward. They need to get back to the drawing board and sit down with #4 to figure out what he likes and what he doesn't.
I think it should look much more like a college style offense where they spread things out and run a lot more RPOs, while still relying heavily on the running game. Prescott is at his best when he is throwing on the run and using his legs. That hopefully means moving the pocket much more in 2018.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys will learn anything from the Super Bowl champs?
Dallas Cowboys OL Fails To Crack NFL.com’s Top 10
Often considered a top unit in football, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line seemed to take a step back in 2017. Mostly due to injuries and free agent departures on the left side, the Cowboys were unable to form the same solid unit we have seen in years past.
Despite their struggles, most would still consider them a top 5-10 offensive line in the NFL. At least, that's what I'd expect considering they still feature three All-Pro caliber players upfront.
Matt Harmon of NFL.com put together a list of the top 10 offensive lines in football based on performance in the 2017 season. The list was strictly developed through the use of next gen stats, which defined pressure as "pass-rushing play in which a defender gets within 2 yards of the opposing quarterback at the time of the throw or sack." In addition, "yards gained before close" was taken into account. This metric is meant to measure "the amount of rushing yards a running back gains before opposing defenders come within 1 yard of the player."
After compiling all of these stats, the Cowboys offensive line was left off of the list completely. Maybe even more surprising, however, was that the Philadelphia Eagles' line failed to crack the top ten as well. That's two lines with 3-4 Pro Bowl caliber players each missing the cut.
According to Matt Harmon the Cowboys allowed a pressure on 28.6% of Dak Prescott's dropbacks, 12th highest in the league. Dallas also ranked 20th in the league in YGBC in 2017.
While I do have some issues with the methodology of these statistics, the final result is actually hard to argue with. Down the stretch the Cowboys offense was downright pathetic at times. Regardless of how highly we thought of them prior to the year, the offense didn't perform to their standards, or the standards of a top ten unit.
Heading into 2018, however, I do expect this offensive line to begin to regain form. La'el Collins should continue to improve on the right side, and he is already an adequate starting right tackle regardless. I also expect Dallas to address their left guard spot, potentially within the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.
In the end the success of this line may hinge on the health of Tyron Smith, though. When healthy, Smith is the best left tackle in all of football. But that "when healthy" caveat has certainly hurt the Cowboys offense.
The way the front office handles their offensive line this offseason will play a huge role in the success, or lack thereof, of the Cowboys in 2018.
Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: CB Bene Benwikere
After playing sparsely for the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, veteran cornerback Bene Benwikere is set to be an unrestricted free agent. Could he stay in Dallas, or will he have to find work elsewhere?
Dallas was concerned about its CB depth with heavy reliance on young players and Jourdan Lewis barely participating in the offseason. Therefore, the Cowboys traded a sixth-round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for Benwikere just before Week One.
After a stellar rookie season with the Carolina Panthers in 2014, Bene had suffered a steep fall before landing in Cincy. Injuries and poor play got him cut midway through 2016 by the Panthers, and then Benwikere bounced from Miami to Green Bay before finally signing with the Bengals in the 2017 offseason.
Though a few years removed from being an All-Rookie Team standout, Bene Benwikere is still just 26 and may still draw interest from scouts who remember his better days. He is likely counting on that, because the Cowboys' secondary is starting to fill up.
The Cowboys currently have exciting sophomores Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis expected to start in 2018. Anthony Brown is back for his third season and will be active on game days.
Orlando Scandrick's future is cloudy, but Dallas won't get much cap relief from releasing him this season. They may elect to keep the veteran for one more year, which would all but fill out the CB depth chart.
Even if Scandrick leaves, talk that Dallas may move Byron Jones back to corner from safety would only leave Benwikere in the same disadvantaged position for finding work.
The best chance that Bene Benwikere has to stay with the Cowboys is if new Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard remembers him from 2014. Coaches often feel that can get more out of a player than the last guy, and Richard may see potential in Benwikere that his last few teams couldn't unlock.
Four years ago may be too long, though, and especially with a fresh new crop of young players coming into the league. Especially if they keep Scandrick, Dallas may want to use the rest of their roster spots on younger prospects.
As it stands, Bene Benwikere is unlikely to return to the Cowboys. However, given the flashes of potential he once showed in the NFL, you can't be certain that Dallas won't want to give him one more chance.
Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: OL Joe Looney
Dallas Cowboys backup offensive lineman Joe Looney was active for all 16 games of 2017 and never had to start. That is exactly what you want from a reserve player, and Looney has been relied on as security for the interior o-line for two years now. However, he enters 2018 as an unrestricted free agent.
A six-year veteran, Looney turns 28 years old in August. He has two years in the Cowboys system and is still in his physical prime. Able to play guard or center, "Jumbo Joe" is a nice value with versatility and familiarity.
Dallas got Looney on the cheap in 2016, signing him to a two-year deal at just $1.68 million. While he hasn't been seen much over the last two seasons, coming out of the Cowboys' offensive line could raise his profile in this free agent market compared to last time.
For example, the last guy to hold Joe's role in Dallas was Mackenzy Bernadeau. Dallas paid him $5.7 million from 2014-2015 to be the versatile backup at guard and center. Looney is at a comparable point now in his career.
Dallas may not want to give Joe Looney that kind of raise, but they may have to given other issues on the line. Starting guard Jonathan Cooper is also a free agent and was injured in Week 17. Chaz Green was tried at guard last year and failed.
Even if they didn't need Loooney to play guard, he is also the backup center and the currently the best candidate on the roster for that role.
While nobody wants Looney as the starting left guard in 2018, but Dallas may not want to give Cooper a new deal given his injury history. La'el Collins appears locked in at right tackle, so the Cowboys may feel the need to pay more to keep Looney in case the offseason doesn't provide a better option.
If the Cowboys are inspired to retain Joe Looney, it could mean raising his annual salary from about $800k to close to $3 million. Even with more cap flexibility than they've had in recent years, that's still a big jump that Dallas won't take lightly.
Clearly, Joe Looney's return in 2018 is not an easy decision. He could be a solid veteran depth option for some teams and might even find starting work if someone's desperate enough.
With Dallas facing some uncertainty on the offensive line, that gives Looney the leverage in any upcoming contract negotiations.
Want to help make Inside The Star better?
We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.
Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
Cowboys Mock Draft: Dallas Adds Starters At 3 Positions
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Deep Dive: Inside the Dallas Cowboys’ 2018 Salary Cap
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Dallas Cowboys Sign Converted QB Jason Thompson to Play Safety
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Cowboys CB Marquez White Could Emerge in 2018
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
1st Offseason Cowboys Mock Drafts Keep Focus on Defense
NFL Draft1 week ago
Star Defensive Talent Falls to Cowboys in Latest Round of Mock Drafts
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Blaine Gabbert Could Provide QB2 Competition for Cowboys
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
How Much Input Will Kris Richard Have in Cowboys Draft?