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5 Cowboys Backups Who Could Earn Starting Role in 2018

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Backups Who Could Earn Starting Role in 2018

As things stand right now, the Dallas Cowboys don't have very many starting positions up for grabs. That means almost all 22 starting positions on both offense and defense are spoken for already, which is a good thing by the way, unless you're a backup wanting to earn more playing time.

Being a backup is never really a good feeling, especially as a professional athlete. Up until reaching the NFL, most of these players rarely came off the field at their given position and have had to kind of learn to swallow their pride a little. But, that doesn't make them any less important to the overall team's success.

Case in point, look what happened to the Dallas Cowboys last season when Tyron Smith had to miss some time due to his reoccurring back injuries. The Cowboys didn't have an adequate backup left tackle to step in, which ended up having a negative ripple effect to the entire offense. That is why some of the best teams in the league end up being the ones with good depth throughout the roster.

Today I want to share with you some the Dallas Cowboys backup players who I believe could earn a starting role in 2018. Remember, there aren't very many starting positions up for grabs. Luckily for the players mentioned below, all of them happen to play a position with no clear-cut starter right now.

Ryan Switzer

Ryan Switzer

Dallas Cowboys WR Ryan Switzer

If we learned one thing from Ryan Switzer's rookie season, it is he is explosive in the open field when he has the ball in his hands. Unfortunately, we didn't really get to see what kind of wide receiver he can be with the Dallas Cowboys, but that could change in 2018.

Cole Beasley's status with the Cowboys is still up in the air right now. The Cowboys can save quite a bit of money by releasing or trading him, even though there's no indication they are planning to do either. But, if they do move on from Beasley, I believe Ryan Switzer could step in and adequately replace his production.

Taco Charlton

Taco Charlton

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

A lot of Cowboys Nation wasn't too thrilled that the Dallas Cowboys decided to use their 2017 first-round draft pick on Taco Charlton, but like it or not, we're stuck with him now. Charlton didn't have the most impressive rookie season, but he started to show signs of improvement towards the end of the season.

The right defensive end position is up for grabs, and if Charlton can pick up where he left off, he has a real chance of earning the starting role in 2018. He already has the size and athleticism to play the position and with a full year in the Cowboys strength and conditioning program, he should be much more prepared to hold up for a full 16 game season.

Xavier Woods

Xavier Woods

Dallas Cowboys S Xavier Woods

With Byron Jones moving to cornerback full-time, the Dallas Cowboys suddenly find themselves pretty thin at the safety position. In fact, we could see entirely new starters on the backend of the Cowboys defense in 2018, and one of those players could be Xavier Woods.

Xavier Woods played a variety of different roles in the Cowboys secondary as a rookie. He might just have been the most impressive player in the Cowboys entire draft class last year. I for one am really excited to see what Xavier Woods can do if he takes over at free safety. I actually think he is a poor man's Earl Thomas.

Kavon Frazier

Kavon Frazier

Dallas Cowboys S Kavon Frazier

After being mostly a special-teams contributor to start his career in the NFL, Kavon Frazier finally received his chance to show what he can provide to the Dallas Cowboys defense towards the end of 2017. It was a small sample size, but Frazier showed enough on film that he could compete for more playing time, if not a starting role in 2018.

Frazier could be the hard-hitting/enforcer type safety the Cowboys had in Barry Church before he joined the Jacksonville Jaguars. But, with Kris Richard now in charge of the Cowboy secondary (Seattle Seahawks former defensive coordinator), Frazier could be the Cowboys version of Kam Chancellor. It will be interesting to see how the safety position plays out leading up to the start of the season.

Rico Gathers

Rico Gathers

Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

To be completely honest, there is no way Rico Gathers overtakes Jason Witten to become the Dallas Cowboys starting tight end. Witten isn't quite the same player he once was, but he is a reliable target in the passing game and has the trust of the coaching staff. But, it's time for him to step aside a little bit, which is where Gathers comes in.

Gathers is a mismatch nightmare for opposing defensive backs due to his immense size and athletic ability. He has shown flashes of his playmaking ability, something the Cowboys offense could desperately use from the TE position. He of course will have to convince the coaching staff he is ready for a larger offensive role in order to steal some playing time from Jason Witten.

Which Dallas Cowboys backups do you think earn a starting role in 2018?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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3 Comments
  • Will

    Woods and Frazier are why the Boys aren’t chasing Thomas, so I think they’ll both blow up. Taco is poised to explode after coming on strong at the end and the fact that D Law will be getting the double team treatment

    • EverybodyTalks

      ….and why Tyrann Mathieu wasn’t brought in.

  • Tommy Davis

    Excellent article Brian, although I still beleive Taco Charlton is not the answer at right defensive end, he’s too stiff and just does not have the burst and explosiveness that you need to be a good pass rusher in the NFl .Demarcus Lawrence and David Irving both possess those traits, Charlton does not.

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" 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!



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Star Blog

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.



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Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin

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Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?



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