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4 Reasons For Optimism About The 2018 Dallas Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Planning
AP Photo/Ron Jenkins

Now that the 2018 NFL Draft has come and gone, we can finally start looking forward to the actual 2018 season. The Dallas Cowboys finished off their 2017 campaign rather disappointingly, leading most fans to believe this is a do-or-die year for many people within the organization.

While things may seem dire to some, and the Cowboys certainly have their roster holes, I do believe there are reasons to remain optimistic about how good this team can be in 2018.

So, why not list four of said reasons?

The Running Game Is Back

By using their second round pick on offensive lineman Connor Williams the Cowboys made a statement: it's time to get back to what they do. Too often last season this running game didn't look like we all know it can, and whether it was due to injury or suspension, those problems are hopefully behind them.

The Cowboys will get their All-World running back Ezekiel Elliott for all 16 games (barring injury), and post arguably the best group of five offensive linemen in the entire league.

While there are questions about the Cowboys' receiving corps and tight end group, there should be no doubt what the identity of this team will be. And that identity in itself is cause for optimism.

Kris Richard And The New-Looked Secondary

Last offseason the Cowboys front office made changes in their secondary that many doubted, but one year in they are looking like forward-thinking geniuses because of those moves. Allowing veteran cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, as well as safeties JJ Wilcox and Barry Church, to walk in free agency was step one in revamping and rebuilding the Cowboys defense.

Now, as rookies Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods enter year two the Cowboys should see more tangible success on the field. All three had successful rookie seasons, but with extra experience and comfortability they should be improved in 2018.

Former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard will have his hands all over this secondary, and we should be excited about what they'll look like going forward.

Year Three Dak Prescott

Much of Cowboys Nation is down on Dak Prescott after a shaky end to the 2017 season, but I believe we should be optimistic about his development heading into year 3.

Prescott did things his rookie season that we have rarely ever seen, leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record, a division crown, and going toe-to-toe with Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs. Now, Prescott gets his running back for all 16 games and an improved offensive line in front of him. Dallas has also added receivers that will hopefully better fit Prescott's skill set in Michael Gallup and Allen Hurns.

We all saw what Dak looks like when things around him are clean, and they should be as clean as ever in 2018.

The Rush-Men

Last but certainly not least, we should all be excited about what this Cowboys pass rush can be.

Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence returns after his career year, and now playing under the franchise tag, he still has something to prove. Lawrence was on another level in 2017, and as long as he remains healthy, he should be incredibly productive this year.

David Irving has begun to come along as a downright beast, aiding this pass rush from the interior. Hopefully Taco Charlton will take another step forward and continue to add to his pass rushing repertoire as well.

And, of course, there is still the hope that Randy Gregory can return and be the explosive edge rusher the team is still looking for.

If all goes right, this pass rush has the chance to be among the league's best.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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3 Comments
  • EverybodyTalks

    But…..
    * we lost Dez….therefore….the WR will stink
    * we lost Orlando….therefore….the Secondary will be worse
    * we lost Hitchens….we got some guy whose name you can’t pronounce…LB corps sucks
    * we lost Witten….MNF is up….but we have no team.

    The sky is falling…it’s Armageddon…there will be riots in the locker-room.
    Sorry. I was told I’m to much of a homer. The pessimists are trying to drag me over to the dark side.

    Great Article and have a good weekend.
    GoCowboys!

    • Roguewave1

      I’m anxious to see Rico Gathers with a ball in a defensive backfield. Don’t know if he can block a lick, but he is light years more athletic that Jason Witten.

  • Will

    Another is getting these three LB on the field together. If all three stay healthy, Lee, Smith, and LVE are going to form the best LB trio in the game

Game Notes

Monday Morning Hangover: Cowboys Dominate Jaguars Top-Ranked Defense

Brian Martin

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Monday Morning Hangover: Cowboys Dominate Jaguars Top-Ranked Defense 1

After watching the Houston Texans defeat the Dallas Cowboys in the Week 5, I decided to lower my expectations heading into this week's matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. After all, the Cowboys offense has been one of the worst in the league this season and they were going up against the top-ranked Jaguars defense. Boy was I surprised at what took place Sunday afternoon.

I don't know how you started off your football Sunday, but I decided to watch the Texans take on the Buffalo Bills. I didn't have much of a choice since I live in the Houston area and it was the only game on TV, but I still wanted to see how they played after beating my Cowboys in overtime a week prior. I was disgusted at what I saw and unfortunately took it out on my cold beverage.

The Texans looked nothing like the team we saw against the Cowboys. They were pretty much dominated by the Buffalo Bills, which I'm ashamed to say put me in a rather foul mood ahead of kickoff time in Dallas. I was expecting another sloppy performance, but what we all witnessed was anything but that.

The Dallas Cowboys offense pretty much moved the ball at will against the Jacksonville Jaguars top-ranked defense. I don't think anyone could have predicted that, especially considering the Jaguars were the best overall defense in the league and where the top-ranked in the passing game as well. I thought if the Cowboys were going to have any kind of chance it was against their 14th ranked run defense.

Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

Well, the Cowboys ended up dominating on the offensive side of the ball and completely exploited the Jaguars defense both on the ground and through the air. Quarterback Dak Prescott, Running Back Ezekiel Elliott, and Wide Receiver Cole Beasley all raised the level of their game and were big contributors to the 40 points the offense put on the board.

Prescott may have thrown for little less than 200 yards, but he was able to connect with Beasley nine times for 101 yards and two touchdowns. With all of the struggles in the passing game for the Cowboys, these two need to continue to connect like this.

Where Prescott was the most impactful against the Jaguars was with his feet. He was really close to being the Cowboys leading rusher with 82 yards and a TD on just 11 carries, but Zeke ended up surpassing him in the end with 106 yards and a TD on 24 carries. Regardless, the Jaguars defense didn't have an answer for Prescott's feet Sunday afternoon.

I have hope once again that this offense is clicking, but I've gone down this road once before. The Dallas Cowboys are still right in the mix of things in the NFC East division and will have a chance to distance themselves next week when they take on the Washington Redskins.

Now, here's the difficult part of all of this. The Cowboys now need to carry over this impressive offensive performance against the Jaguars into next week against the rival Redskins. We've all seen them riding on a high before this season, only to crash back down to earth the following week. They can't afford to do that with a division foe up next on the schedule.

What did you think about the Dallas Cowboys offense against the Jaguars?



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Game Notes

DAL 40, JAX 7: Cowboys Answer The Bell In Dominant Win

Kevin Brady

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DAL 40, JAX 7: Cowboys Answer The Bell In Dominant Win

It seems like a pattern is developing here during the 2018 Dallas Cowboys season.

For a team and an offense which has looked absolutely horrid on the road, the Cowboys appear to be one of the better teams in the conference when playing at home.

That trend continued today as the Cowboys dominated the now 3-3 Jacksonville Jaguars from start to finish, en route to a 40-7 home victory over last year's AFC semi-finalist.

Quarterback Dak Prescott had possibly his best game of the season, making up for his poor performance in Houston a week ago. While Prescott only threw for 183 yards on 17 completions, it was his 82 rushing yards on 11 carries which put this offense over the top. Plus, the Cowboys were in "kill the clock" mode for basically the entire second half.

The real story here was the offensive line, however. The o-line which has been heavily criticized by the fan base during the season, and has shouldered a heavy amount of the blame for the poor offensive production, finally stepped up and played to their standards this afternoon. Prescott had great pass protection all day, which was evident in his passing numbers and Cole Beasley's receiving performance.

Dallas is now 3-3 on the season, tied with the defending champ Eagles and a half game behind Washington for first place in the NFC East. Next week the Cowboys have a huge game in Washington with first place on the line.

Other Notes

  • Cole Beasley proved once again why he's worthy of the pay day he'll get (probably somewhere else) this offseason. Beasley caught 9 balls for 101 yards and 2 touchdowns, dominating man coverage all game long.
  • These linebackers are legit. Both Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith were all over the field today, anchoring a group which was impressive yet again.
  • Brett Maher simply can't miss, going 4 for 4 on field goal attempts including a 55 yarder in the second half.
  • Ezekiel Elliott went over 100 yards rushing again this week, and it was somehow still a quiet day for him in the grand scheme of things.
  • Byron Jones was the best cornerback on either team today, deflecting 3 passes and staying sticky to the Jacksonville wide outs all day. He's been incredible this season and Sunday's game was no different.
  • Oh, and Randy Gregory sack alert! Party!



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Player News

David Irving Ready to “Be Put Through Ringer” in First Action with Cowboys

Sean Martin

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David Irving Ready to "Be Put Through Ringer" in First Action with Cowboys
(AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

The Dallas Cowboys patience in Defensive Tackle David Irving is set to pay off on Sunday, as Irving will play in his first game of 2018 after being suspended for the first four weeks. Irving was eligible to play last week in the Cowboys overtime loss at the Texans, but did not make the trip to Houston as he dealt with off-field concerns.

The Cowboys defense has performed admirably without Irving, but in a needed game against the Jaguars, it could be up to this defense to win the game for Dallas - something a disruptive player like Irving has the ability to do on any given snap.

While the plan is for the Cowboys to ease Irving into this game, his impact from the DT position might be enough to leave him on the field as much as needed in a tight game.

Kate Hairopoulos on Twitter

Irving said the coaches want to play him 10-15 snaps Sunday. "That's what they say now but if it's a close game, I know good and well Marinelli is going to be sending me out there & putting me through the ringer. I'm ready for it.

Like a good left-handed pitcher in baseball or three-point specialist in basketball, the Cowboys have afforded Irving a long leash despite his unreliability thanks to a 6'7" and 290 pound frame that makes him a menace for opposing guards.

The 3T-DT position is a pivotal one in Marinelli's scheme, and one the Cowboys have afforded Irving every opportunity to fill, yielding results whenever the former Chiefs practice squad steal suits up.

Filling in for Irving through the Cowboys first five games of the season has been reliable veteran Tyrone Crawford. Expected to play at defensive end this season, Crawford has recorded 14 tackles and one sack from the 3T position.

With Irving back in the "Hot Boyz" rotation, it will be interesting to see if Crawford once again goes out to right defensive end, where Randy Gregory has struggled to make the most out of his own return from suspension.

Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli is not expecting similar struggles from Irving, prepared to put him "through the ringer".

Where Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard calls the Cowboys defense, Marinelli is still one of the most respected coaches at The Star, demanding a lot of his defensive line in particular. It's the pairing of Marinelli's motivation and Irving's intangibles that have the Cowboys defense on the brink of taking another step toward's one of the league's best.

With their own offense set to line up against perhaps the best overall defense in Jacksonville on Sunday, Irving's return is just in time. The NFC East is far from out of reach for the Cowboys, who will be at full strength on defense once Sean Lee returns as early as next week.

The Cowboys have never lost a game in which Lee, Irving, and Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence play at least 20% of the team's snaps on defense. Perhaps this stat will have to be adjusted to include rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch in short time, but for now the Cowboys are hours away from fighting for a 3-3 start to 2018, doing so with one of their most important defenders back in the lineup.

Tell us what you think about "David Irving Ready to “Be Put Through Ringer” in First Action with Cowboys" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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