After this week's short mini-camp, there will be a long wait until the Dallas Cowboys training camp finally kicks off. Unfortunately, that means there isn't going to be a lot going on until training camp gets underway. But, there are quite a few unanswered questions that still need to be answered.
Today, I want to focus on some of these unanswered questions to give you all something to think about while we wait for the Dallas Cowboys training camp to finally get here. I've narrowed it down to my top four, but please feel free to use the comment section at the end of the article to share any questions or concerns you may have.
Let's get started…
Who's the Starting 1-Technique?
As things stand right now, the Dallas Cowboys have tremendous depth on the defensive line. They are completely stacked at defensive end and have a plethora of players who can play the 3-technique, but the same can't be said about their 1-technique options.
Before the Dallas Cowboys training camp officially gets underway, it looks as if Brian Price is the favorite to start on the inside of the DL at the 1-tech. He performed admirably last season in the same role, but isn't what you would call a difference maker. He is serviceable, but isn't going to be an impactful player.
The time between now and when training camp begins might be a good time for the Cowboys to reevaluate their stance on a big bodied/space eating DT. Jonathan Hankins is the best free agent still available and he would be an immediate upgrade over Price. It's unlikely the Cowboys make any moves, but Hankins is someone I am going to keep an eye on because he would immediately be the best 1-tech with the Cowboys.
Who are the Starting Safeties?
Out of all the positions on the Dallas Cowboys roster, the safety position might be the thinnest. With Byron Jones moving back to cornerback, someone is going to have to step up and start next to Jeff Heath, who should reprise his starting role.
It's going to be really interesting to see how Kris Richard decides to deploy his starting safeties in 2018. He really doesn't have very many options to choose from and doesn't have the talent he had when he was with the Seattle Seahawks.
The door isn't completely shut on possibly adding Earl Thomas, but I think it's highly unlikely. That means second-year DB Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier are the best options currently on the roster to start next to Heath. We could see some kind of rotation with the safeties this season, but hopefully someone will take advantage of their opportunity in training camp and separate themselves from the competition.
Who Replaces Jason Witten at TE?
First off, there isn't anyone who can replace someone like Jason Witten on or off the field. He is the epitome of what you want in a player and those kind of athletes are hard to come by. But, someone is going to have to try to replace some of his production.
Right now, Geoff Swaim is the only TE on the Cowboys roster with a career catch in the NFL. It's a little worrisome to think about all of the inexperience at the position, but it also makes it a little exciting to find out how all of this will turn out.
The Dallas Cowboys need to find a quality starter. They ask their TEs to do a lot within the offensive scheme. They need to be efficient as both a blocker and receiver. Swaim has proven to be a good blocker, but not so much as a receiver so far. Rico Gathers has shown flashes as a receiver, but leaves a lot to be desired as a blocker. Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schulz have a chance to be the "complete package", but may need time to develop.
Who Fits Where at Wide Receiver?
With so many new faces at the wide receiver position for the Dallas Cowboys it is nearly impossible to accurately predict who is going to fit where this season. The only thing we know right now is that Cole Beasley will likely be the only WR on the roster who has played a significant role with the Cowboys in the past. Terrance Williams' future with the team is somewhat in doubt with his recent off the field mishap.
Now that Dez Bryant is gone, the Dallas Cowboys probably aren't going to have a true #1 WR. I personally don't think they need one, but that's just my opinion. I believe they can be just as productive without a #1 WR and be just as productive in the passing game. In order to do that though, they need to find some solid production from some of these new faces.
Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, Tavon Austin, among others will all have to be productive in their first year in Dallas. I don't expect any one of them to replace Dez Bryant on their own, but collectively they have to work well with Dak Prescott and become dependable week after week. That's the only way the Cowboys don't become one-dimensional as an offense this season.
What unanswered questions do you have ahead of the Dallas Cowboys training camp?
Time to get FB Jamize Olawale More Involved Offensively?
The Dallas Cowboys are coming off arguably their best and most complete offensive performance of the season after playing the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, but there is still quite a bit of improvement that can be made. The need to get more playmakers involved is apparent, which is why I think it's time to utilize Fullback Jamize Olawale's unique skill set.
I know many of you will argue that getting Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup going is a higher priority, and you wouldn't be wrong, but Jamize Olawale's playmaking ability could be a huge asset for Quarterback Dak Prescott and the offense. I know it sounds a little strange, but hang in there with me for little bit.
As things stand right now, Olawale has only played 38 offensive snaps (10%) in 2018. That's the exact amount of offensive plays Wide Receiver Terrance Williams has played this year and he's missed the majority of the season. It's not exactly the kind of production I was expecting when the Cowboys decided to bring him aboard via trade with the Oakland Raiders earlier this offseason.
I don't know about you, but I was expecting Olawale to be more involved in the offensive game plan. He is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and isn't too shabby as a runner either. But, we haven't seen him utilized in either fashion this season and I think that's an injustice that needs to be corrected.
Now, I fully understand there are other offensive weapons ahead of him in the pecking order who need to see more targets, but I also really think he can make a difference maker, especially in the passing game. That is where his strengths lie, not as a lead blocking fullback.
Olawale was a bit of a Swiss Army knife during his time with the Oakland Raiders. He played a little running back, fullback, tight end, and even a little slot receiver. I really thought the Cowboys would take advantage of his versatility in the passing game, but as of yet they have failed to do so.
I'd like to see the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan utilize Jamize Olawale's unique playmaking ability a little bit more on offense. I think they should try to utilize him like the San Francisco 49ers use their fullback, Kyle Juszczyk. He's much more involved and has played a total of 263 offensive snaps (63.68%) this year.
Juszczyk is a better lead blocking FB then Olawale, but that's not where he makes the most difference in the 49ers offense. He does it as a receiver and has already caught 17 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown. That's some pretty solid production from a position that is being phased out in the NFL.
Now, just imagine the Cowboys offense getting similar production from Olawale and how that would help open up things for everybody else. It's not out of the realm of possibility because the 49ers offense and the Cowboys isn't all that dissimilar.
Unfortunately, I think Jamize Olawale is pretty much an afterthought in the Cowboys offense right now. It's truly unfortunate because I think he can be a difference maker if given the opportunity. And with a division foe like the Washington Redskins next on the schedule, what better time to unleash a new and unseen element of the offense?
Do you think Jamize Olawale needs to be more involved offensively?
Cole Beasley Key to Cowboys Passing Game Productivity?
What most of us already knew was confirmed last Sunday afternoon against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wide Receiver Cole Beasley is the Dallas Cowboys best receiver and is the key to the passing game productivity. He is not only the most productive, but the most consistent.
Cole Beasley isn't the tallest or the fastest and definitely doesn't look like a prototypical NFL receiver, but he showed last week against the Jaguars why opposing defenses have to account for him on every single play. He torched Jacksonville's top-ranked passing defense for 101 yards on nine catches and added two touchdowns, and it's that production that could help open up the entire passing game for the Cowboys.
It's painfully obvious Cole Beasley has been Dak Prescott's favorite target in the passing game since he took over the starting duties in 2016. Once opposing defenses figured that out they started to make things extremely difficult by bracketing Beasley in coverage and the passing game hasn't been the same since. But, that could be changing if the Jaguars game was an indication of what we might see moving forward.
Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan did a much better job of moving Beasley around to create favorable matchups against the Jaguars. I think we will see much more of that moving forward, but that likely means opposing defenses will once again try to take away Prescott's favorite target. That actually could end up helping the Cowboys passing game though.
If opposing defenses indeed try to contain Cole Beasley like they've done in the past, it should help provide more opportunities for Dallas' other pass catchers. Spreading the ball around to several different receivers would not only help Prescott and the passing game, but also open up the entire offense.
We haven't really seen much of Allen Hurns or Michael Gallup this season, but both are more than capable of being more productive if they are seeing single coverage more often. That's what's likely to happen if defenses bracket Beasley in coverage once again. Both WRs need to be more involved anyway and Beasley's recent spike in production could help do just that.
Now, if defenses decide to try and cover Beasley one-on-one like the Jaguars did quite a bit of last Sunday, the Cowboys would be wise to take advantage of that mismatch. He simply can't be covered by a single defensive back because of his precise route running ability. He is that good.
Regardless of how opposing defenses try to handle/contain Cole Beasley, he is without a doubt key to the Dallas Cowboys passing game productivity. Just the threat of him on the field changes a defenses approach, which is why he is Dallas' #1 WR in my book. He absolutely has to be more involved moving forward, even if it is as a decoy.
Do you think Cole Beasley is the key to the Cowboys passing game productivity?
How ‘Bout them Cowboys?! Dallas Set to Lasso Redskins in Week 7
Well, what do you think now of America’s Team? Anyone who foresaw Dallas’s evisceration of the league’s No. 1 defense hailing from Jacksonville is a downright soothsayer. In case you were in a coma this past weekend, the Cowboys obliterated the Jaguars’ vaunted defense to the tune of a 40-7 massacre in which Dak Prescott tossed for 183 yards, two passing touchdowns and ran one into the end zone for good measure. When the dust settled Prescott had chewed up 82 yards on the ground and Ezekiel Elliott surpassed the century mark in rushing with 106 yards and a touchdown of his own.
It was a glorious day to be a Cowboys fan and it’s safe to say that America’s Team is back!
Or are they?
Dallas is in a three-way logjam for the top spot in the NFC East with the Redskins and Eagles, but the way they made mincemeat of the Jacksonville defense gives us all hope that more good things are in the cards soon.
Seventh-year WR Cole Beasley blew the doors off of the Jags secondary by catching nine passes on 11 targets for a pair of touchdown receptions and 101 yards. It was a season-high for Beasley and the fact that Prescott has no real top-tier targets after the departures of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten makes it even more special.
This is a team that was not supposed to be able to move the ball through the air and, to be fair, hasn’t done much of it this season as evidenced by their 29th ranked passing game. But a little creative game planning by Head Coach Jason Garrett and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan paid dividends and the lingering specter of their heartbreaking overtime loss to the Texans in Week 5 was exorcised by the dominating victory.
What has gotten lost in the euphoria of Dallas’s week 6 win is their defense, as the Cowboys had three sacks, seven quarterback hits, and an interception by Jeff heath.
Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles was under siege and did not respond well to the pressure after establishing career highs in passing yards over the last two weeks leading up to this contest. But his opportunity to become the fifth NFL QB with three consecutive games of 375 passing yards or more evaporated in the heat of a blistering Dallas defense. Bortles ended the day with 149 yards, a TD and a pick.
As the Cowboys move on to Washington, we see that their success at home is only equaled by their struggles on the road. Dallas is now 3-0 at home and 0-3 on the highway. Buoyed off their stunning blitzkrieg of the Jags, we see that one of the most respected and trusted online sportsbooks in the industry, BetOnline has the Cowboys as 1 ½ point underdogs which is most likely a few points below what they would have been had they not won so convincingly last week.
Those who like to back up their football prognostications with cold, hard cash understand that Dallas is not only losing on the road but losing money for their backers in those contests. In those three losing games, Dallas is 0-2-1 against the spread but this week could be different. Against their divisional foes this week, Dallas is 4-0 straight up and 3-1 ATS versus Washington over the last two seasons.
The way this Cowboys defense is playing and the sudden explosion of Cole Beasley as a focal point of the passing attack, we could very easily see their first road win of the year.
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