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?
2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back
To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.
As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.
Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.
These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.
Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.
Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.
Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.
Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.
How The Tables Have Turned for 2019 Dallas Cowboys
The 2018 season was a two-part tale for the Dallas Cowboys. The first is the story of a mediocre 3-5 team that couldn't get it going offensively. The second part is about a football team that turned its season around, made the playoffs, got a win in the postseason and ultimately lost to the team that ended up representing the NFC in Super Bowl LIII, the Los Angeles Rams.
Surely, 2018 didn't go as planned. The storylines leading to last season are actually very different from the ones we're hearing today. Let's take a look at a few examples of how the tables have turned for the Dallas Cowboys.
The need for a true WR1
Last season, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys preached the philosophy of not needing a #1 wide receiver. While that could've sound encouraging at the time, once the season began the team was proven wrong. They did need a WR1. Fortunately, this season we won't have to worry about it. This year, Dez Bryant shouldn't be a discussion topic among Cowboys' fans.
Amari Cooper is in the house. And he's been pretty good since he started playing with a Star on his helmet. If we have conversations about the WR position, they will not be about who's the #1 guy. With Michael Gallup showing up late in the season, it probably won't be about who is #2 either.
Back on top of the NFC East
Last year, the Dallas Cowboys were not really the favorites to win the NFC East. The Philadelphia Eagles had just made history by winning their first Super Bowl ever and it seemed like the Cowboys would have to get a wildcard spot to play in January. Now it's the Cowboys back on top after sweeping the Eagles and turning their once 3-5 season around.
That of course, means a tougher schedule next season. However, it's nice to be back on top of the division. These two teams will surely have an intense race for the division title next season. Maybe we even see them both in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Sean Lee's uncertain future
I'm pretty sure no one expected Sean Lee to be considered a potential cap casualty for the 2019 season. Even if he was, it would've probably been anticipating an injury or something like that. No one would've imagined that Leighton Vander Esch would be so good to take Sean Lee's job.
The Cowboys' first round rookie truly earned the starting role as the defense's weak linebacker and he should keep it. With Sean Lee set to return to the field, I'm sure we didn't expect him to be a backup by now. We'll have to wait and see if the Cowboys decide to part ways with him. As a fan, it would certainly be painful. But we can't deny it would be a move that makes sense.
It's a crazy franchise on a crazy league. Who knows how things will go from now on, but the Dallas Cowboys certainly look like a promising team heading into the 2019 offseason. Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue to update you with the latest on your favorite NFL team.
Cowboys en Español: Volviendo a la Idea de Earl Thomas
El año pasado, Earl Thomas fue uno de los temas de conversación más frecuentes para los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys. Después de que los Seattle Seahawks no le dieran su deseada extensión de contrato, Thomas se convirtió en un candidato a ser intercambiado de su equipo. Entre los favoritos estaban los Cowboys, quienes tenían una necesidad en su defensiva secundaria. Ahora que la temporada 2018 llegó a su fin, la misma necesidad por un safety de calidad está presente en Dallas.
Sólo que en esta ocasión, Earl Thomas no está bajo contrato con ningún equipo. Su último momento con el uniforme de los Seahawks fue en un carro de lesiones, donde salía lesionado en dirección a su vestidor. Esto mientras se despedía de su equipo con el dedo de en medio extendido hacia sus entrenadores y compañeros. Así concluyó su temporada y su carrera en Seattle.
Ahora, listo para cumplir los 30 años en mayo, Earl Thomas probará la agencia libre cuando comience en marzo. Y sin lugar a dudas, uno de los equipos candidatos a firmarlo serán los Dallas Cowboys. Es un equipo que a pesar de tener una de las mejores defensivas la temporada pasada, se vería muy beneficiada con la llegada de un profundo del calibre de Thomas.
A pesar de su edad y las lesiones, Thomas continúa siendo uno de los mejores en la liga. Su talento es innegable y tendrá toda la disposición de demostrar lo que vale cuando tome el campo la próxima temporada. Cuando llegue el momento, podríamos ver una guerra de ofertas entre varios equipos de la NFL para llevarse al veterano a sus respectivas ciudades.
La pregunta es: ¿estarán los Dallas Cowboys en esa guerra de ofertas?
Los Cowboys tienen espacio en el tope salarial. Sin embargo, este no durará mucho considerando que DeMarcus Lawrence está esperando su merecida y cara extensión después de jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia en 2018. Además, jugadores que aún están bajo contrato también estarán buscando ofertas este offseason.
Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, y Byron Jones están en la lista de quehaceres de la administración. Eso sin mencionar a Cole Beasley, cuyo contrato ya expiró y podría llegar a la agencia libre en marzo.
A pesar de esta complicada situación, los Dallas Cowboys deberían buscar conseguir a Thomas. Siendo sinceros, la defensiva tiene mucho talento y podría mantener su nivel en 2019. Pero hace falta un jugador en la posición de safety para llevar a esta unidad a otro nivel. Un nivel realmente capaz de ganar en postemporada enfrentándose a cualquier tipo de ofensiva. Sin importar que tan explosiva sea. Y además de esto, un jugador que sea capaz de robar el balón y hacer jugadas de impacto constantemente.
Cuando los Cowboys se enfrentaron a Seahawks en temporada regular, Thomas dio un buen ejemplo de esto interceptando en dos ocasiones a la ofensiva de Dak Prescott.
A pasos de un equipo de campeonato, un movimiento agresivo para obtener a Earl Thomas sería algo genial para Dallas. Vimos como los Rams de Los Angeles fueron agresivos al construir su equipo y llegaron hasta el Super Bowl este febrero. Quizá es tiempo de que Jerry Jones y compañía sean igual de agresivos y vayan por ese safety elite que la afición lleva pidiendo desde el offseason del año pasado.
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