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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 @MauNFL 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 @MauNFL.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Earl Young

    April 8, 2018 at 10:23 am

    Get rid of Garrett and the offense coach Linahan

    • Derek Robinson

      April 8, 2018 at 10:40 am

      Hey Earl, are you a Philly fan?

  2. Derek Robinson

    April 8, 2018 at 10:38 am

    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”

  3. Raheem Tld

    April 8, 2018 at 10:59 am

    I concur!

  4. Dominique Lewis

    April 8, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    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.

  5. William Pep Hatcher

    April 8, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    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.

  6. Russ_Te

    April 8, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    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.

  7. Gbear

    April 9, 2018 at 10:48 pm

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

  8. John Williams

    John Williams

    April 11, 2018 at 3:34 am

    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.

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Star Blog

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 2

Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.

The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.

The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.

Lock Down the Big Guns

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

@Randy81MossRetires, via Twitter

Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.

Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.

As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.

Adding New Talent

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 1

@brkicks, via Twitter

One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.

Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.

If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.

Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.

Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.

The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.

As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.

Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.



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Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?

Brian Martin

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Could Loaded FA Safety Class Drive Down Earl Thomas' Price Tag?

It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.

Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.

A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.

First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:

  • Earl Thomas
  • Landon Collins
  • Lamarcus Joyner
  • Tyrann Mathieu
  • Adrian Amos
  • Clayton Geathers
  • Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
  • Glover Quinn
  • Tre Boston
  • Kenny Vaccaro
  • George Iloka
  • Jimmie Ward
  • Adrian Phillips

Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.

With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.

Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.

The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.

Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.

Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?



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Star Blog

Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

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Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.

Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?

As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.

Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.

Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.

That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.

However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.

Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.

Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.

The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.

Just something to think about...



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