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3 Things We Learned From The Cowboys Victory Over The Giants

Brian Martin

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The Dallas Cowboys put together an impressive performance against the New York Giants to kick off the 2017 season. They dominated both sides of the ball and controlled the game from beginning to end. If they continue to play the way they did against the Giants, they're going to be a tough team to beat.

Of course, not everything was executed to perfection Sunday night for the Cowboys. There are plenty of things they can still cleanup and get better at, but overall it was an impressive start. So, what have we learned or can take away from Dallas' Week 1 victory over the Giants?

Continue to read below to see 3 things I think we all learned from the Dallas Cowboys victory over the New York Giants. As always, please feel free to use the comment section at the end of this article to express your own opinions or thoughts.
RT La'el Collins

La'el Collins is already an upgrade at right tackle

I've been pretty outspoken about my belief that La'el Collins' best position in the NFL is on the inside at guard. I've always believed that his strength and agility was best served playing in a phone booth, giving him the advantage over opposing defensive tackles. But, the way he has played in preseason and now against the New York Giants has proven to not only me, but everyone else he is an upgrade at the right tackle position (no offense Doug Free).

We all knew Collins was going to have his hands full against the Giants. They have a pretty good duo at defensive end in Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul, but Collins got the best of them the majority of the night. It wasn't a perfect performance by any means, but he is only going to continue to get better with more time and that's great news for the Cowboys offense.

RG Chaz Green, RB Ezekiel Elliott

RG Chaz Green, RB Ezekiel Elliott (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

Chaz Green is the starting left guard

One of the biggest unanswered questions heading into the first week of the 2017 season was who would be playing between Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith at left guard for the Cowboys? Well, a lot of people believed it would be Jonathan Cooper because he's remained healthy, but the coaching staff threw a curveball and started Chaz Green instead.

I've been a firm believer that Chaz Green is the Dallas Cowboys fifth best offensive lineman, but it's been a little difficult to argue that point since he can't manage to stay on the field. Green has not been able to stay healthy since joining the Cowboys, but he's proven he can be a starter in the NFL when he can get on the field.

I think the Cowboys went with Green because of his ability to block in both the zone and power scheme. The Cowboys rushing attack is versatile because they mix up their blocking schemes. One rushing play may be an inside or outside zone, the next a power attack. It really puts the opposing defenses at a disadvantage. That's why I believe Green got the call ahead of Jonathan Cooper. Cooper simply doesn't have the same playing strength.

LB Sean Lee & DE DeMarcus Lawrence

LB Sean Lee & DE DeMarcus Lawrence

The Cowboys pass rush is much improved

If the Dallas Cowboys defense can get this kind of performance from their defensive line week after week, then the pass rush is much improved from a season ago. The entire defensive line was active and disruptive the entire game. Giants QB Eli Manning never looked comfortable and it showed in his performance.

I know it's just one week, but a healthy DeMarcus Lawrence could be a difference maker this season. He has struggled with back injuries over the past few seasons, but definitely looked healthy Sunday night against the Giants. It's a good time for him to start getting noticed since he is in a contract year. It's funny how that happens isn't it?

Lawrence of course wasn't the only one getting to the QB. We saw Charles Tapper, Maliek Collins, Benson Mayowa, and even Stephen Paea put pressure on Manning. I think things will only continue to get better for Rod Marinelli's "rush men", especially when they get reinforcements from David Irving and Damontre Moore when they return from their suspensions.

What did you learn in the Cowboys victory over the Giants?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Ethan Chazin

    September 13, 2017 at 8:21 am

    Agree on all points, AND added bonus have been waiting for YEARS to see if Mgt/ownership could pair SEAN LEE with a stud middle LB since Carter & McClain never panned out! But…if JAYLON can put aside that almost career-ending injury and be 90% of what he’s physically capable of, plus Hitchens comes back stronger than ever… woa Nelly!!!

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      September 13, 2017 at 4:11 pm

      I completely agree with you Ethan. I wonder if the Cowboys are considering extending Hitchens after the season? I think they really like his ability to play all three LB positions.

  2. Fatfan

    September 13, 2017 at 11:43 am

    Did anyone besides me see La’el put PP on his a55! He must’ve knocked him back a few yards before JPP landed on his butt. Impressive!

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      September 13, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      Collins did an excellent job Sunday night. He was a perfect, but he has already exceeded my expectations.

  3. Travis Diggs

    September 13, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Can anyone here pull up old comments?? Wen yall posted will he work out as the RT ?? I said of course he’s an upgrade from Doug Free an i got all the flack in the world, but now he’s ok ??? The first cowboys game in a while i didnt see JPP !! ??? Obviously an upgrade from Doug Free The writers here at the star need to get it together Smfh

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      September 13, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      Good for you Travis. I wish I would have had your confidence in Collins. I personally never said he would be a bad right tackle or that he wouldn’t be an upgrade over Doug Free. But, I did state that I think Collins’ best position is on the inside at OG. I still think this is true, but he’s proving to be a good RT right now.

  4. TreFKennedy88

    September 13, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Good post and I think Jaylon is at 90% now and will be 100% by the end of the season. I said worse case we go 10-6 and best case we go 12-4, it’s looking like we’ll be 12-4 or 11-5 this season along with a first class ticket to the NFC title game

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      September 13, 2017 at 8:51 pm

      There is no way I’m going to predict where Jaylon Smith is now and where he will be at the end of the season LOL. Right now he is moving around really well and should continue to get better with more repetitions. He does however need to trust himself more. He had a chance to make a few big plays behind the line of scrimmage but hesitated. Also, we never know how the season may turn out. Too many variables to take into account, but I think you’re pretty close with your prediction.

  5. Javier Enrique Zetina Pinelo

    September 14, 2017 at 2:08 am

    lo preocupante es que el receptor numero uno de los vaqueros dez brayant ya se hizo predecible y con su falta de velocidad ya no logra separacion con lo que es controlado por esquinas de la NFL como sucedio en este partido con jenkins que no le permitio nada o como sucede con josh norman y muchos mas ya no creando preocupacion por que lo pueden cubrir 1 a 1 y vencerlo urge substituirlo es hora de dejarlo ir y usar a butler en lo que se consigue otro receptor numero 1 en el draft

  6. Stephen L. Holley

    September 16, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    Great comments below from Ethan and Brian!! Still say I would have loved to have seen TJ Watt at middle with Sean Lee on one side and Jaylon on the other!!! Send him up the middle often!! Would have been best linebacking group in football!! “Shades of Butkus…OR “MANSTER 2.0″!!! Number one pic ” TACO” has shown nothing!!!!

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Linebacker

Jess Haynie

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Wolf Hunter: Leighton Vander Esch's Pass Coverage Skills Rising to Occasion

One of the brightest spots on the Dallas Cowboys' projected 2019 roster is linebacker. The young pair of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have already emerged as one of the league's best duos. But that doesn't mean that the Cowboys have no work to do at the position this offseason.

Having Jaylon and Leighton does take a lot of pressure off. Most teams utilize their nickel scheme more than any other these days, which generally utilizes just two linebackers, in the increasingly pass-focused NFL. And thankfully, both Smith and Vander Esch have shown great skills in pass defense.

But there's still a semi-starting role to get figured out in the base 4-3 scheme. Damien Wilson has held the strong-side or "SAM" position for the last few years and has an expiring contract.

What's more, Dallas has a big decision to make regarding the contract of Sean Lee, which is ripe for terminating with $7 million in salary cap savings possible.

It's highly unlikely that the Cowboys would keep both Lee and Wilson. If they decide to re-sign Damien, Lee will be cut to help fund that move and others. If Sean is kept on, Wilson will almost surely be looking for a starting role somewhere else in free agency.

Even if the Cowboys do make Lee a cap casualty between now and March 13th, they may still allow Wilson to test free agency and then try to re-sign him later at a discount. He's unlikely to attract the same attention that Anthony Hitchens got last year.

How Does LB Joe Thomas Fit Into Cowboys' 2019 Plans?

Dallas Cowboys LB Joe Thomas (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Another factor in all of this is Joe Thomas, a free agent addition last year who provided good depth and could potentially start in 2019. He is scheduled to count $2.2 million against the cap, which is fine for a primary reserve but a bargain for an occasional starter.

A core of Smith, Thomas, and Vander Esch gives the Cowboys a good foundation to build from. Smith can play the SAM in the base scheme and Thomas can be the primary backup to Jaylon and Leighton in the nickel.

However, going that route would deplete the depth chart. Chris Covington, a sixth-round pick last year, would be the only noteworthy player under contract. Dallas would need to find at least two more guys to fill out the group for 2019.

They could look at re-signing backup Justin March-Lillard, who would at least bring some familiarity and veteran experience. But that might still leave them looking for more of a primary reserve, which would be especially vital if Thomas is promoted to a starting role.

The projected LB free agent pool for 2019 should make it a buyer's market. Dallas may be able to re-sign Damien Wilson or even add an upgrade, like perhaps the Vikings' Anthony Barr, at a relative bargain. There should be ample options for depth as well.

Barring an extremely favorable value opportunity, don't expect the Cowboys to spend a significant draft pick at linebacker. The fourth-round is the earliest I could see one going based on other needs, and even then it would need to be someone they really like.

Good drafting is why Dallas has flexibility and leverage this offseason. The picks they invested in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch appear to have made LB a strength of the team for the next several years.

There is still business to attend to, but the Cowboys won't have to be too concerned with linebacker in 2019 thanks to their young stars.



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Dallas Cowboys

Xavier Woods Versatility Key in Dallas Cowboys FA Safety Pursuit

John Williams

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Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods Is Getting Better By The Week

There has been a debate going on among Cowboys Nation for more than a year now about the prospects of bringing in Seattle Seahawks Safety Earl Thomas. Now with free agency approaching, there are several other names that the Dallas Cowboys could consider when looking to upgrade the safety position. Landon Collins, Tyrann Mathieu, and Tre Boston are several of the many quality and really good safeties that are hitting the free agent market in a few weeks. It's a group with varied skill sets and abilities, which makes the debate even more interesting. The Dallas Cowboys, however, will be able to take a look at all of them when free agency opens March 13th because of one player; Xavier Woods.

Xavier Woods, the Cowboys fifth round draft pick from the 2017 NFL Draft just finished his first full season as a starter for the Cowboys and played really well. In two years he's shown the ability to cover from the slot, play deep, play in the box, be a force over the middle, and make plays on the football. He's one of the more versatile players on the defense with his ability to play all over the field. That versatility allows the Dallas Cowboys' front office an advantage when approaching the names mentioned above.

The Dallas Cowboys don't have to be locked in to one particular type of safety. When people talk about Landon Collins, they label him a "box safety." Earl Thomas is a traditional free safety. Tre Boston is a similar player to Earl Thomas and Tyrann Mathieu is like Collins. The Cowboys can go into free agency with the freedom to explore their options and do their due diligence when it comes to these players.

That's a distinct difference from this offseason to last.

Last offseason, the feeling was that the Dallas Cowboys had to go get Earl Thomas. The safety position was so weak that the Cowboys were going to be playing at a disadvantage in the high-flying, pass-heavy NFL. Xavier Woods proved in his first full season that he can be a productive, play making starter in the NFL and should only continue to improve.

According to Pro Football Focus, Xavier Woods was sixth in the NFL in passer rating against among safeties with at least 352 coverage snaps. His 62.8 passer rating allowed in his coverage was tied with Eric Weddle, better than Derwin James, Reshad Jones, Adrian Amos, and Maliek Hooker. Of the safeties drafted in the 2017 draft class, only Eddie Jackson from the Chicago Bears had a better passer rating against than Xavier Woods.

The Dallas Cowboys got a really good player in Xavier Woods and as they get ready to potentially make a run at a big name safety, they can feel confident that whoever they end up signing will be a good fit with Woods. He can play in the box or cover receivers and tight ends. You can run more two deep safety looks, because he has the range to play it.

This year, as opposed to last, they have more certainty at the safety position because of Xavier Woods and the strides he took in 2018. There's no reason to believe that he can't continue to take a step forward for the Dallas Cowboys. His ability to play all over the field allows the Cowboys to be smart and patient in their pursuit of a safety upgrade this offseason.



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3 Free Agent Targets From Cowboys NFC East Rivals

John Williams

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3 Free Agent Targets From Cowboys NFC East Rivals

The free agency period in the NFL will be here in a little more than three weeks and the Dallas Cowboys will begin the annual tradition of trying to put together the best 53-man roster that they can come up with. Free agency is just one part of the equation that includes the draft, the signing of undrafted free agents, adding and subtracting from the roster during training camp, and picking up players after the final cut down day.

You can rest assured that Will McClay and the entire pro scouting department is doing their due diligence in anticipation of the March 13th start to the 2019 free agency period. They'll look high and low for players that can come in and be contributors for the Cowboys. Even within their own division.

Between the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins, there are some interesting names to consider as the Cowboys peruse the free agent aisles of the NFL superstore. Some of those players like Landon Collins, Ronald Darby, Nick Foles, and Brandon Graham will be new releases that will cost you a pretty penny at the check out stand. Others like Haloti Ngata will be in the used and refurbished section. And then there are those who could be had at a reasonable or discounted rate.

Here are three from within the NFC East that the Cowboys could have their eye on.

Mario Edwards, Defensive Line, New York Giants

The former Oakland Raiders second round pick out of Florida State University has already played for two teams in his young four-year career. That isn't a good sign for Mario Edwards as he approaches free agency for the first time. You don't generally see many top 100 picks get released from the team that originally drafted as they usually wait as long as they can to see if the player is going to hit.

For Mario Edwards, he found himself caught in a numbers game and outplayed by two rookies in Oakland's training camp in 2018, leading to his release. It also sounds like the Raiders couldn't quite figure out where to put him on their defensive line.

We know that the Dallas Cowboys love looking around the league for those reclamation projects. Edwards could be the next David Irving or Antwaun Woods. A player that isn't highly thought of, but in the right situation and with the right coaching could flourish.

Edwards has played 14 or more games in three of his first four seasons, missing his second season with a hip injury. He totaled more than two sacks a season in those three seasons. He isn't by any stretch of the imagination someone who is going to come in and replace DeMarcus Lawrence or Randy Gregory, but he could be a nice depth piece with potential to see significant snaps both at defensive end and 3-technique defensive tackle.

Edwards could be the next Rod Marinelli special.

Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles

The Dallas Cowboys could be in the market for a slot wide receiver this offseason if Cole Beasley is allowed to walk in free agency, which seems like a near certainty. There are several intriguing options on the roster in Allen Hurns and Cedric Wilson that could play in the slot some, or play on the outside allowing Amari Cooper to play in the slot. They could also look to the draft for Beasley's replacement as well. In the free agent pool, there are several interesting names, one of which is Jordan Matthews.

Jordan Matthews just finished his second stint in Philadelphia and while he didn't have huge production in Philly in 2018 -- 20 receptions on 28 targets for 300 yards and two touchdowns, he's a player with a track record in the NFL and could be a "big slot" option.

In Matthews first three seasons in the NFL, he averaged 75 receptions on 115 targets for 891 yards and 6.3 touchdowns in his first stint with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2014, Matthews caught 64 of his 67 receptions from the slot, which was second in the NFL that season. In 2015, he led the NFL in receptions from the slot with 81, while also scoring eight touchdowns. In 2016, his final year with the Eagles, he was ninth in the NFL with 53 receptions. So, in those first three seasons in the league, he averaged 67 receptions, 796.3 yards, and six touchdowns. He caught eight touchdowns in each of his first two seasons for the Eagles in the slot.

He's not the same player that Cole Beasley is, but he's a player that knows how to win in the slot and because of the past couple of years could be a cheaper option to try and replace Cole's production.

Jamison Crowder, Wide Receiver, Washington Redskins

If Jordan Matthews is the inexpensive option for the Dallas Cowboys in the slot, Jamison Crowder would require paying a pretty penny. Spotrac.com estimates that Crowder could be worth $8 million per year over four years on the open market.

Interestingly enough, he's never been as productive as Cole Beasley or Jordan Matthews, but because of his age and his work the last couple of seasons, injuries not withstanding, he's seen in a more positive light than Matthews.

Crowder is cut from a similar cloth as Beasley. Smaller in stature and uses quickness and speed to win games. As Cowboys fans, we know all to well the effect that he has in game. Crowder, however, has never had more than 66 receptions in a season and has only scored more than three touchdowns once in his four seasons in the NFL; back in 2016 when he scored seven.

Crowder is coming off of an injury this season that limited him to just nine games, 29 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns. In his three full seasons prior to 2018, Crowder averaged 64 receptions on 93 targets for 746 yards and four touchdowns.

If for some reason, his market comes in less than the $8 million per year that Spotrac.com is projecting, I'd be very interested in bringing Crowder to Dallas.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Each of these guys offers something intriguing that the Dallas Cowboys could use. Whether it's a defensive lineman or a slot wide receiver, they all bring something to the table. The Dallas Cowboys need to approach this offseason with a "go for it" mentality, but if they continue to follow their free agency philosophy, Mario Edwards and Jordan Matthews could be nice pieces to add to the team that offer a lot of upside.



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