The Dallas Cowboys put together a pretty impressive four quarters against the New York Giants last Sunday night. They now need to carry that momentum on the road for this week's matchup against the Denver Broncos. This will mark the first road trip of the 2017 season, so we will find out pretty soon how well this team travels.
I think we can all agree that the Denver Broncos are much more talented team than the New York Giants. So, every single Dallas Cowboys player is going have to step up their game in order to put another W in the win column. I don't really like to single out individual players, because this is ultimately a team sport. But, I think there are 5 Cowboys who need to step up their game this week if Dallas wants to get to the 2-0 mark.
Continue to read below to see who I believe needs to step up just a little bit this week against the Broncos. As always, use the comment section at the end of the article to express any of your thoughts and opinions on this topic.
Dez Bryant didn't have a terrible game against the New York Giants, but as a fan we always want more. The Giants defense did an excellent job of shifting an extra defender in his direction pretty much every time he was on the field to make it even more difficult for him to get involved. Janoris Jenkins also made it difficult to get Bryant the ball with his sticky/grabby coverage Sunday night. But, there is no doubt that Bryant needs to be more involved on offense.
This is probably less about Dez Bryant needing to step up as it is with Scott Linehan finding a way to get their best playmaker the ball. Denver has a pair of good CBs in Chris Harris Jr and Aqib Talib, so it could be tough going for Bryant once again. However, if Linehan would move him around the formation more to create favorable matchups, it should help improve the chances of Bryant having a big game against the Broncos.
Chidobe Awuzie could possibly be looking at earning his first start in the NFL against the Denver Broncos if Orlando Scandrick has to sit out this contest. I would imagine that Nolan Carroll will start at the opposite outside CB position with Anthony Brown in the slot, leaving Awuzie as a next likely option.
Awuzie should feel right at home in the Mile High City, since he played his college ball at Colorado. The atmosphere shouldn't be too much for him and he should be ready to step up and make his presence felt on the field.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli usually doesn't have his CBs shadow any particular receiver, but I wouldn't be surprised if we see Awuzie covering Demaryius Thomas more times than not. He has the size and athletic ability to match up well with the talented WR.
La'el Collins in my eyes has already proven to be an upgrade at the right tackle position for the Dallas Cowboys. I'll admit that I was a little worried how he would stand up against Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, but he held his own and won the battle more times than not. Unfortunately, neither Vernon or JPP come close to Von Miller's abilities, so Collins will have to keep on his toes so to speak.
Von Miller's a different animal than Collins has faced as a pass rusher. Miller's able to play with strength, speed, and agility and you can bet he will be looking for a favorable matchup against the Cowboys. That could mean that Collins could be seeing Miller more than he would like to and he will have to be on the top of his game to keep the talented pass rusher at bay. The Cowboys may wait and see if Collins can hold his own, but it wouldn't hurt to get him a little help from time to time.
I'm hoping that last week was just a rarity we can chalk it up to early-season jitters, but Dak Prescott didn't quite look like himself early in the contest against the New York Giants. He was uncharacteristically inaccurate with a lot of his passes and missed a few chances for what should've been a sure fire touchdowns.
Prescott can't afford to miss those throws against the Broncos talented secondary. He is going to have to be at the top of his game, especially when he gets down the red zone. Walking away with a field-goal instead of a touchdown this week could cost the Cowboys the game. Fortunately, I think he will rebound after getting the first game of the season under his belt.
Cowboys' pass rushers
In all honesty, the Dallas Cowboys pass rush was pretty impressive against the New York Giants Sunday night. They continued to make plays behind the line of scrimmage and fluster QB Eli Manning the entire game, but everybody needs to step up their game this week against the Broncos.
The Denver Broncos have a better offensive line than what the New York Giants have patch worked together. It probably won't be easy for DeMarcus Lawrence and the rest of Rod Marinelli's "rush men" to get home this week. They are all going to have to dig deep and be relentless in their attack in order to hopefully force Trevor Siemian to a mistake or two.
Who do you think needs to step up against the Denver Broncos?
Cowboys WR Deonte Thompson Benefits Most From Terrance Williams Issue
The fallout from Cowboys Receiver Terrance Williams' arrest yesterday remains to be seen. Whether or not it costs him a roster spot is hard to say, but a suspension is likely. Whatever the case, veteran Deonte Thompson stands to be the biggest beneficiary of Terrance's issues.
Signed last March to a minimal one-year, $1.8 million contract, Thompson is a 29-year-old late bloomer who only last season got some notice in Buffalo. Given the limitations of the Bills' passing game with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, Dallas clearly hopes that Deonte could do more with a more traditional offense and passer.
The Cowboys acquisition of Thompson was quickly overshadowed after they picked up Allen Hurns just a few weeks later. Deonte was actually signed just a couple of days after Hurns' release from Jacksonville, so it's fair to question if Dallas would have even signed him if they'd already picked up Hurns.
Even with Dez Bryant's release, the depth chart still didn't look good for Thompson. He was clearly behind Hurns and Cole Beasley and was likely battling with Terrance Williams for targets. Once the team drafted Michael Gallup in the third round, things looked even worse for the veteran.
But now, if Williams is going to miss time or be gone completely, Deonte Thompson could find himself with a big role to start the year.
While Gallup is exciting, he's also a rookie. Thompson has been a starter the last few years and played in a few different systems. Dallas may lean on his experience early if Terrance is gone either temporarily or permanently.
One reason the Cowboys brought Deonte in was for speed, and that value doesn't change regardless of who else is on the roster. Essentially, Thompson is the new Brice Butler; intriguing qualities but just no consistent production at other stops.
If Deonte can do more with what Dallas throws him than Butler did, he might carve out a steady role. Brice always seemed to follow up his big plays with blunders, never gaining any real momentum during his time as a Cowboy.
Before Williams' arrest, there was a legitimate question as to whether or not Thompson would even make the 2018 roster. If younger prospects like Noah Brown and Lance Lenoir made noise, perhaps Dallas would've just let the 29-year-old walk.
But with Terrance's availability now the big question, Thompson's experience becomes vastly more important. It could mean a big early role in 2018.
Depending on what he does with his opportunity, Deonte Thompson could've gone from an offseason afterthought to a major part of the team's success.
Is Terrance Williams Roster Spot Safe with Dallas Cowboys?
This will hardly be the last article written about the wide receivers of the Dallas Cowboys entering the 2018 season. However, we can only hope it's the last off-field incident that will factor into the difficult decisions the Cowboys will make on their final depth chart at WR. Yesterday, veteran Wide Receiver Terrance Williams was arrested for public intoxication after leaving the scene of a crash involving his Lamborghini.
Cowboys WR Terrance Williams released a statement on his recent arrest detailing several facets of the incident: "I have always been an upstanding citizen and handled the situation the best way I know how.
Details concerning the severity of the incidents that led to Williams arrest remain somewhat unclear. His on-field production certainly has not been though, putting himself in an expendable position by failing to catch a touchdown in 2017 and only going for over 100 yards once.
Handling this Terrance Williams situation in whatever the "right way" is will be yet another critical decision the Cowboys make under Head Coach Jason Garrett. A team that has clearly valued continuity under Garrett, there is precedent for the Cowboys keeping a now-troubled player like Williams if the void he'd leave behind is too large.
It is widely believed that this is a Cowboys coaching staff working to keep their jobs in 2018. Losing Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Terrance Williams in one offseason may very well be too much.
Already dealing with a broken foot that expects to keep Terrance Williams out of football activities until training camp though, it is becoming increasingly easier for Williams to become forgotten about in new WR Coach Sanjay Lal's room.
New additions to this unit include FA signings Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson, along with rookies Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson. Joined by the likes of KD Cannon, Lance Lenoir, and Malik Earl, all of these receivers are going to stake their claims for a spot on the Dallas Cowboys before Williams even catches another pass from Dak Prescott.
Once perceived to be fighting for positions below Hurns, Williams, and Cole Beasley as locks on the final 53 man roster, Williams' arrest is the epitome of "next man up" in Dallas. Even if Williams remains with the team in 2018 - as cutting him would only make moral sense for the Cowboys, not financial - his days as a starting receiver may very well be numbered.
As mentioned, this won't be the first look we have at the status of the Cowboys receivers. I'm already on record having high expectations for Michael Gallup, and believe Cedrick Wilson was one of the steals of the draft for the Cowboys in the sixth round. The unproven nature of this pass catching unit (through to TE with rookie Dalton Schultz) is going to make for fascinating training camp battles, competing for spots in an offense that could still be one of the league's best.
Terrance Williams Arrest: Salary Cap Impact if Released
The news of Cowboys Wide Receiver Terrance Williams' arrest yesterday sent a shockwave through an otherwise quiet mid-May news cycle. Many fans are wondering what the team might do, and what effect the decision could have on Dallas' salary cap.
Unfortunately, moving on from Terrance won't bring the team any cap relief. But given their current cap space and where we are in the offseason, the Cowboys should have the freedom to cut the receiver if they choose to.
Depending on who you ask (OverTheCap, Spotrac), the Cowboys have somewhere between $5-$9 million in current cap room. If they release Williams before June 1st, his cap hit accelerates from $4.75 million to $7.25 million in dead money. That means he counts $2.5 million more off the team than on it.
If Terrance is cut on June 1st on later, the 2018 dead money is $4.75 million for a net-zero wash. That extra $2.5 million counts against 2019.
While that may sound cost-prohibitive on the surface, you have to remember where we are in the offseason. May is very different from March when you're talking about cap space.
Free agency is essentially over. The Cowboys don't need to worry too much about their 2018 cap room at this point, so they can absorb Williams' dead money if they want to cut him loose.
Martin's 2018 cap hit is currently around $9 million. Once he signs his new long-term deal, which is almost sure to come before training camp, that number should go down significantly. Dallas can do an immediate Year One restructure and potentially create around $6 million in cap space.
That alone would facilitate cutting Terrance Williams, but then they also have the hopeful new deal for Lawrence. The $17 million that Lawrence currently counts as a franchised player will go way down with a long-term contract. If Dallas can get that done, they may not have to touch Martin's deal.
The point here is that while cutting Williams is not a financially beneficial move, the money shouldn't stop the Cowboys if they don't want him around anymore.
If Terrance has proven anything during his five years in Dallas, it's that he doesn't have the talent to step into a primary role. With new arrival Allen Hurns and Cole Beasley both showing they can produce at a high level at times, plus exciting rookie Michael Gallup now in the mix, the Cowboys' season hardly relies on Williams' presence.
Of course, the Cowboys have a history of sticking by their guys during times of personal problems. Josh Brent did way worse than Terrance and remained supported by the organization.
But each situation and player are different, and the coaches may have already soured on Williams after a lackluster 2017. They may have only kept him because of those cap numbers we discussed before.
Terrance's latest dropped ball may have been the final straw, though. If so, the salary cap shouldn't stop Dallas from cutting him.
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