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3 Ways the Cowboys Offense Could Be Better in 2018

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Zeke Elliott

Truth be told, Dallas Cowboys fans have plenty of reasons to be upset about the very disappointing 2017 season. But one of the things that undoubtedly made it even a tougher campaign to get through was the offensive performance. After Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott took the league by storm in their rookie seasons, everyone (including non-Cowboys fans) had big-time expectations for America's Team.

Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned. Now, let's not try to find who is to blame, we could spend all the offseason arguing whether it was Dez or Dak's fault, coaching, Zeke's suspension or other key injuries like Tyron Smith's.

Don't forget for a second how talented this offense actually is. Sure, last season the wide receivers had anything but an impressive year and Dak could've played better at times, but that doesn't mean he's a bad quarterback at all.

If struggles continue to be there next season, then let's have a conversation about Prescott. Not now, though. He's still the guy this franchise should be betting on, without a single doubt. Add to that what still is among the NFL's finest offensive lines with a top running back in Ezekiel Elliott.

This is an offense that'll win games next season, despite having a rough year in 2017. Here are three ways it could be even more dominant.

Unleash 10 Personnel

We've wanted this for a long time now. Dak Prescott is a guy who can pass the ball or tuck and run with it when needed. Ezekiel Elliott is one of the NFL's best runners and a true three-down back.  Cole Beasley is one of the best slot receivers in the sport. Dez Bryant, though unproductive the last few years, is still a very talented player. Allen Hurns will be a big upgrade at WR2. And hey, maybe put Ryan Switzer in the mix.

It's hard to imagine defenses stopping such a loaded offense in the red zone or anywhere on the field for that matter. The Cowboys should seriously consider playing from 10 personnel a lot more than they do.

Feed Zeke in the Passing Game

Cowboys en Español: 3

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

This is one of the things I fail to understand from the Cowboys' coaching staff. Ezekiel Elliott has reliable hands and as a very dangerous player in the open field, I don't comprehend why he isn't used a lot when it comes to the passing game.

He might not be able to make the damage that Le'Veon Bell is able to as a receiving RB, but I'm sure Elliott would thrive if given more opportunities. We've seen some explosive screen plays from him, let's hope Dallas looks to turn him into an even more dangerous offensive piece.

Use a Younger Tight End

Fellow writer Brian Martin wrote about how the Cowboys should follow the Charger's blueprints when handling Antonio Gate's situation. I love Jason Witten, he's my favorite Cowboy of all time. But we simply can't (or at least, shouldn't) pretend he's the same guy as before.

The Cowboys should be looking for a future tight end in this Draft, even if we're talking about the later rounds.

Is Jason Witten Looking At A Lesser Role In 2017?

Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten (Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)

I would love to see them taking someone (or who knows, maybe the Rico Gathers fantasy comes true) who could harm opponent defenses by doing stuff Gold Jacket Witt can't. I don't want to see Witten gone by any means, simply because I'm not sure anyone can fill his shoes for the moment.

But adding a younger tight end to split the playing time and try some new stuff with the TE position would be huge for Dak's offense.

✭✭✭✭✭

I can't wait to see this offense back at it next season. It's easy to get pessimism get to you after a disappointing season, but the team has talent. Now, don't get me wrong, this team has a lot of issues it should solve. The team needs are plenty.

But I do believe this team will be winning football games this year.

 

Tell me what you think about "3 Ways the Cowboys Offense Could Be Better in 2018" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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9 Comments
  • Earl Young

    Get rid of Garrett and the offense coach Linahan

    • Derek Robinson

      Hey Earl, are you a Philly fan?

  • Derek Robinson

    The offence just needs a little tune up. They’ve always been able to score. “when all the pieces where in place” Look everybody wants to blame Dez. I know you’re going to have haters. It comes with being a cowboy fan. But some of the articles I’m reading on line about D. Bryant are just hateful BS. I’m confident that the cowboys offence will be one of the best in the NFC this season. Dak will have his boy back, “Zeke” a few new toys to play with. And a brand new coaching staff. “ALL OR NOTHING”

  • Raheem Tld

    I concur!

  • Dominique Lewis

    Great article. I can’t agree with you anymore. My buddy always talk about cowboys going 10 personnel (4 we split) all the time. I also do feel that Dallas can more vertical in their passing game with an athletic TE. No slight on Witten, but I don’t expect a 15-30 yard play out of him.

  • William Pep Hatcher

    Witten needs to get cut or retire. If they can release Ware and Emmitt then Witten must go. Rico will shut up all the haters.

  • Russ_Te

    The Cowboys are a run-first offense and for good reasons. So while I like the spread sets the Cowboys would need to run out of those at times if they want to use it as a staple formation & still keep defenses guessing. I don’t think they practice it enough, and there are some games where it makes sense with the defensive matchups to just get in it and stay in it. And be able to go no-huddle from it also.

    They may decide to use it more this year due to Witten slowing down and Gathers being a project to work in gradually, especially due to his blocking curve.

    I still believe it’s a big chip handed to defenses, if the Cowboys do not value WR’s who can stretch coverages and get behind secondaries down field. You can add Hurns and still have most of the same problems as last year, particularly with regard to not opening up space for Dez to work. I don’t see much upgrade yet in the unit.

    There are 2 WR’s down this draft with 4.3 speed (and none up the draft with it). Project guys, obviously. Take one of those, or both if possible.

  • Gbear

    Garrett doesn’t know how to utilize talent but he knows how to clap.

  • John Williams

    So with you on using more 10 personnel. I know they like to keep Witten on the field so they can run more, but they can run out of 10 too. Witten is Mr. Cowboy at this point for me, but his effectiveness is dropping off year by year. Give me a lineup with Dez and Switz on the outside. Hurns and Bease in the slot and Zeke in the backfield and you are going to be moving the chains.

Star Blog

The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up

Brian Martin

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Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle Heating Up 1

Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.

The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.

As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.

Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.

Terrance Williams

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.

Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.

Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.

I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.

All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.

How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?



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Star Blog

Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?

Brian Martin

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Decision not to Play Dan Bailey against the 49ers a Concern? 1

With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.

Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.

I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.

I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?

Dan Bailey

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.

Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.

Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.

Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.

Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?



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Star Blog

Week 1 NFC East Predictions and Cowboys Season Outlook

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Week 1 NFC East Predictions and Cowboys Season Outlook

Let me start this article with a strong opening statement: The Cowboys will be better in 2018 than they were in 2017. There's been a lot of talk about the lack of a true No. 1 receiver. But when we break it down, the current setup will most likely play out better for Cowboys QB Dak Prescott.

The Dak Stats

Certain quarterbacks shine when they have that go-to playmaker. We're talking about guys like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Calvin Johnson, Ocho Cinco, Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, and Dez Bryant. But other QBs do better at reading the defense and quickly adapting to what is given. Dak Prescott is the latter breed of QB.

Let’s do a quick numbers exercise to prove this.

When Prescott is targeting 8 or more receivers throughout the game, his passer rating jumps from 86.1 (targeting less than 8) to 104.5. He passes for almost 50 yards more per game and his touchdown to interception ratio drastically improves from 21-13 to 24-4.

Most importantly, when he targets at least 8 different receivers, the Cowboys are 14-2. When he targets less than 8, the team is just .500 at 8-8.

Without a doubt, Prescott is much better at adjusting to what the defense is giving him. He just isn’t one of those guys who can successfully "force" the ball (like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees). Not feeling the pressure of having to get the ball into the hands of the star playmaker will give this offense a new kind of depth in 2018.

Yes, losing Jason Witten hurts, much more so in my opinion than not having Dez.

Questions Still Loom

This is still the Cowboys' biggest concern on offense. There is some great depth. We have Rico Gathers, Blake Jarwin, Geoff Swaim, and the young stud out of Stanford, Dalton Schultz. But between the three who have any NFL experience, there are only 9 catches between them. I must say that Dalton, with his 4.75 40-yard dash, has a legitimate shot at seeing a lot of playing time in his rookie campaign and could become an impact player with his size (6’5”, 244-lbs) and speed.

But despite the battle for TE being wide open, and debates about whether or not the team needs a No. 1 receiver, the Cowboys are still expected to give the Eagles a run for their money in the NFC East. Here are the odds on the defending NFC East champions and how (although early) it is expected to shake out:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles -167
  2. Dallas Cowboys +350
  3. New York Giants +650
  4. Washington Redskins +750

NFC East Week 1 Predictions

The Cowboys open the season in a difficult road game against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have been listed as 2.5-point favorites (follow the Cowboys NFL Odds here all season long) which isn’t surprising considering they are a tough team playing at home. You might be thinking, "crap, we're opening up as underdogs?" Don’t worry too much; it actually bodes fairly well because the lines-makers generally give a 3-point advantage to the home team. This means that they actually handicap the Cowboys to be a half-point favorite on a neutral field and a 3.5-point favorite in Arlington.

The Redskins open their season in Arizona against the Cardinals. The line is set at a pick ‘em (meaning there is no point spread; it's anyone's game). But, looking at the 'Skins and Cardinals, I think Washington gets disappointed in Week 1 and starts their season with a loss.

The Giants get to test their new offensive line and see if they were right in continuing to place their faith in Eli Manning against the best defense in the league. The Jags are 3-point favorites at MetLife stadium. This means the Jags are actually 6-points better. I do think that the Giants will be vastly improved this season, but they are also going to open with a loss.

The Eagles don’t have it easy either, but they will probably pull out the win at home as 4-point favorites against the Dirty Birds on Thursday Night Football. Their defense is just too good. Atlanta's road offense scored just 21 points per game last year while Philly scores 28 on average at home. The Eagles' home defense has been downright nasty, only allowing 12 points per game in Philadelphia.

This will be a two-horse race for the division between the Eagles and Cowboys. And even if the Eagles win the East, the Cowboys will wildcard into the playoffs.



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