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5 Cowboys Players Who Need To Step Up Against Denver

Brian Martin

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5 Cowboys Players Who Need To Step Up Against Denver 4

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

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

CB Chidobe Awuzie

Chidobe Awuzie

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.

RT La'el Collins

RT La’el Collins

La’el Collins

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.

Dak Prescott

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?

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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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29 Comments
  • Fatfan

    Speaking of pass rushers…will Charles Tapper’s sickle cell trait prohibit him from playing in Denver?

    • Brian Martin

      I may be mistaken, but I don’t think Charles Tapper has a sickle cell trait problem. He does have a pars defect in his back, maybe that’s what you were thinking about.

      • shane loshek

        he does have sct..and i was concerned about the same thing..i remember the announcers mentioning it when dallas drafted him and said “well at least i dont think he’ll be playing at mile high this year” do to the lack of oxygen

        • Brian Martin

          I’m sure that it’s something the Dallas Cowboys are aware of then. I’m sure they will have a plan for him to ensure his safety.

  • TreFKennedy88

    Hit the nail right on the head, I think Dez gets 100+ yards and we get the W, same way we feed zeke you gotta feed Dez

    • Brian Martin

      Getting Dez more involved just opens up things in the running game for Elliott and vice versa. Really need to get 88 more involved to keep opposing defenses honest and from stacking the box to stop the run.

      • TreFKennedy88

        Exactly Brian and would you believe the talking heads are trying to say Dez has “fell off” like they don’t know since Dez has been with us he’s never had a 100 yard game to start the season, Dez starts off slow to start the season. It really Erks my nerves but I’m just like wait, because by the end of the season X will have 90+ catches 1200-1500 yards and 12-18 touchdowns and even then they’ll still try to dismiss Dez. Matter fact it seems like any good player on our team “they” try to dismiss smh

        • Brian Martin

          The Dallas Cowboys have a popular brand, so anytime anybody gets a chance to link them to a story it makes it bigger. I’m not worried about Bryant. Defenses are going to pay him extra attention and that’s exactly what the Giants did. Janoris Jenkins didn’t limit Bryant alone. They always had a linebacker or safety shading in his direction

  • Hobbes49

    I agree with the things you said. I would say that the improved play we need to see from Dez and Dak go hand in hand. Dak gets that throw to Dez properly in the end zone against the Giants and both men’s stat’s look much improved. I would really like to see Dez run more crossing patterns in games, get him into some open space and let him go to work. I think Dak will be much more himself with the Giants monkey off his back. More relaxed, and I think back to what we saw last year and in the preseason this year. I thinks Lael’s tenacity will help carry him this week, although I am not averse to seeing James Hanna lining up on his side to help out at times. The improved play of the d-line I think is coming from the push we are seeing from Paea and Collins, freeing up some space for the edge rushers. D-Law is also primed for a huge season, which is nice to see. I expect the pressure to keep coming on Sunday. Chidobe is just going to continue to improve, but this is a tough matchup, hopefully he hangs in.

    • Brian Martin

      Hobbes49, I agree with everything you said. I would really like to see Dez Bryant get some of those crossing patterns that were successful for Terrance Williams last week. I think we all tend to forget how dangerous Bryant can be with the ball in his hands since we haven’t seen that from him in a few years.

    • TreFKennedy88

      Truth and as much as I like love Dez I really wish he’d work with Aj green or a route running guru to work on the routes he’s not really good at. On a scale of 1- jordy Nelson route running wise Dez is like 6-7 and we need him at 9-10 because his blocking is great, still a beast at jump balls but he needs to work on routes he’s not comfortable with.

  • bearlamberth

    How did Collins do against Miller in SEC competion

    • Brian Martin

      I believe Von Miller was before Collins’ time at LSU. I don’t think the two have ever squared off against one another before.

  • DevilDog58

    Another good article, Brian. I’m becoming a fan of yours. Denver’s a tough place to play and they have a good team. If we can pressure their QB I think we can force him into some turnovers, which might make the difference.

    • Brian Martin

      It’s always great to get positive feedback. I don’t even mind the negative feedback most of the time LOL. Yes, Denver is a tough place to play, but I think the Cowboys are a better team than the Chargers and they gave Denver all they could handle. I think it’ll be a close game, but I think the Cowboys will come out on top in the end.

      • DevilDog58

        I also think it will be a close game and although through many years (54 yrs as a fan, so yeah, I’m an old man) I’ve learned that I shouldn’t make predictions, of course I hope Dallas prevails. It’s a team sport but we haven’t had a leader at the QB position like Prescott since Aikman, so I like our chances.

        • Brian Martin

          I’m going to have to disagree with you a little bit here. It depends on what type of leader you’re talking about. Tony Romo was more of a leader behind the scenes/ leader by example. Prescott I think is a same way, but has found a way to get his team to rally behind him. I think Prescott will get better at it with time though.

          • DevilDog58

            Don’t get me wrong; I loved Tony as a player and later, as a leader. But Tony didn’t become the leader he finished as until he’d been our QB for a few seasons. If you think back earlier in his career, he didn’t audible out of a lot of the plays he ran. Once he started doing that was when he really showed he was the team leader. This was as he got older. He and Witten struck me as more of a “leadership by example” type players. Witten was also not a “rah rah” type of guy. But as he’s aged as a player and a person I think he’s also become more vocal. I wanted Tony to win a SB just because of what he did for Dallas and the brutal beatings he took behind some poor O Lines. It’s hard to put in words but Dak is a special, special player. He just has that “it” as they say about movie stars. Talented, great work ethic and intangibles plus a good person. He reminds me of my teenage idol, Roger Staubach. Sorry my posts are so long, Bro.

          • Brian Martin

            I’ll agree with you there. It took a while for Romo to become the kind of leader Prescott is right now. There are so many intangibles to think about why one may have taken charge earlier than the other, but that would certainly be an interesting debate. And, don’t worry about your comments being too long. That’s what the comment section is for

          • E Deplorabus Unum

            Honestly, I think the locker room rallied around Dak so much because the expectations were they would have another 4-12 season without Romo. And then Dak not only played well but none of it was too much for him. You have to be proud of the guy and if he’s a teammate, he’s a hero to you as everyone had great stats last year. A bad QB makes every player on the team look poor often.

          • Brian Martin

            Prescott was definitely thrust into a leadership role. How he performed his rookie season I think pretty much shocked everyone including his teammates, which brought everybody together. They rallied around him and believed in him. If Tony Romo wouldn’t have handled things like he did, it probably would’ve split the locker room. I give a lot of credit to Romo and Prescott for they seamlessly way that things went down between the two.

          • DevilDog58

            Yeah, I agree with you there, E. I had serious doubts whether Tony would have made it through the season. I think the only person who believed he would was Jerry. Of course, Jerry is loyal to a fault (and sometimes to the detriment of the team). Too bad he couldn’t figure out a way to keep DeMarcus Ware, which I think he wanted to do badly. But I digress; QB is the most important position on the Offense, if not the team. He’s the only person who touches the ball on basically every play. So many people blamed Romo for various loses through the years but they fail to realize that without him we never would have even been in those games to begin with. I’m definitely optimistic for our future. As the Joneses and our coaches and player personnel people continue to build a great roster, I believe Dakota Prescott and the Offense will excel.

        • E Deplorabus Unum

          The day Romo beat the snot out of the 49ers with broken ribs, and I think he played injured vs the Jets that year too? I think it was 2011 and from that moment, I never had issues with Romo. The last 5 years of his career (where he actually played) were phenomenal.

          • Brian Martin

            The Dallas Cowboys never really gave a lot of help to Tony Romo during his career as a Cowboy. I have always been a big fan of his and I think he will probably always be underrated for what he did for the organization.

          • TreFKennedy88

            Jerry wasted his career Brian, when the o line literally collapsed against the Vikings in the divisional round of the 09-2010 playoffs we should have started rebuilding it than. I’ve never seen an oline literally lose like 2-3 pieces in one game, to think Romo did everything within his power to get us back to glory yet his biggest part in helping us required his career pretty much to ignite the spark for the next generation of cowboys.

  • Colston Ballew

    The chargers had 4 sacks and denver’s o line got banged up last game. I see the D line having a big game again.

    • Brian Martin

      The Cowboys DL was certainly impressive against the Giants last week. I’m hoping they can carry that momentum into this week against the Broncos. It will certainly help the entire defense, but hopefully also cause the QB to make a mistake or two.

  • Javier Enrique Zetina Pinelo

    definitivamente debe presionar la linea defensiva si desean el triunfo y del lado ofensivo es preocupante la baja de juego y la perdida de dominar el juego de dez brayant convirtiendose en un receptor mas del monton

  • Rodney Simpson

    Hello Brian that was great read and I agree on all points anyway I have a question. I think this game will come down to coaching and we have a edge. But I would like to know what is Mike McCoy’s record against a Rod Marinelli defense ? This is going to be a big part of what Trevor will be able to do in this game.

Dallas Cowboys

Should Cowboys Pursue Veteran Backup at Quarterback?

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys en Español: Cooper Rush
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys only have two quarterbacks under contract right now, starter Dak Prescott and backup Cooper Rush. With only three years of combined experience between them, one could argue that a veteran presence would be useful. Should Dallas make a veteran QB a free-agent priority in the 2018 offseason?

Of course, there’s plenty of other QB experience on the Cowboys staff. Head Coach Jason Garrett played professionally from 1989-2004, and started his coaching career with quarterbacks.

Scott Linehan has been coaching offense with an emphasis on the passing game for 30 years.

Kellen Moore, who is taking over for the departed Wade Wilson as quarterbacks coach, has played very recently and will bring a fresh perspective.

However, losing Wilson’s experience from the room, and the lack of any veteran player at QB, shouldn’t be dismissed.

Dak Prescott has said veteran Mark Sanchez — who was with Dallas in 2016 — was a major help during his whirlwind rookie season. Tony Romo enjoyed veteran advice from guys like Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, and Kyle Orton throughout his playing career.

This isn’t to say Dallas would want to bring in a veteran to knock Cooper Rush down the depth chart. After a surprising preseason, Rush took the backup job from Kellen Moore and certainly has intriguing upside.

If the Cowboys were to add a veteran, that player would have to come in with the understanding he’s competing with Cooper and may not be guaranteed a job.

The good news is that it’ll be a buyer’s market for veteran quarterbacks this offseason.

Guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, and Matt Moore could all be available. Even a player with more pedigree, such as Sam Bradford, may have trouble finding starting work with many jobs taken among the NFL’s 32 teams.

Dallas could even consider bringing back Mark Sanchez, given his previous relationship with Dak Prescott. He only had a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

Given Prescott’s seeming durability, Dallas will likely only keep two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in 2018 and for years to come. Because of that, they may be content to focus on Dak and Cooper Rush, and just get through the offseason with training camp bodies.

However, the case can certainly be made for adding another veteran player with the desire to teach to help these young quarterbacks develop. Prescott was not the same guy in 2017 that we saw as a rookie, and perhaps the absence of guys like Sanchez and Tony on the sideline had something to do with that.

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Dallas Cowboys

Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal is a Good Hire for Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal Is A Good Hire For Cowboys

Yesterday, it was announced that the Dallas Cowboys will hire Sanjay Lal to be their new wide receivers coach. Lal spent 2017 with the Indianapolis Colts in the same position, but has made multiple stops around the NFL prior to joining the Cowboys staff.

Most recently and arguably most notably, Sanjay Lal was the receivers coach for both the New York Jets (2012-2014) and the Buffalo Bills (2015-2016). This means he coached on Rex Ryan’s staff for two different teams, with two very similar offensive philosophies.

Run the football.

As seen in the video below, Sanjay Lal has experience working as the wide outs coach for an offense with a run-first philosophy. He even says himself that their offense in New York was “ground and pound,” but notes that “without a pass game there’s no pound.”

Cowboys fans became all too familiar with the truth behind that statement during the 2017 season, as even solid efforts in the run game were rendered meaningless by their lack of explosion through the air.

Jets Nation Inside Camp: Sanjay Lal Mic’d Up

Jets wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal is mic’d up during training camp, and also discusses trying to play pro football before becoming a coach in the NFL.

A lot has been made of Sanjay Lal’s lack of 1,000-yard receivers during his time as a coach. The offensive philosophies of the teams which he coached for, however, show why this criticism is flimsy.

It’s quite possible the Cowboys will once again be without a 1,000 yard pass catcher this season, but if Ezekiel Elliott and the run game are clicking, and Dak Prescott is spreading the ball to different targets, this stat won’t mean a thing.

Lal was also the coach in Buffalo when Sammy Watkins had the best years of his career, including a 1,000-yard season.

During that stint he coached Robert Woods to productive seasons as well. Now Woods is a dangerous target for the Los Angeles Rams after being coached by Lal for multiple seasons.

These were also the same years that quarterback Tyrod Taylor was at his best.

While in New York, with the Jets, Lal’s most productive receiver was Jeremy Kerley, who finished with 827 yards in 2012 and 523 in 2013. What’s important to note here is that Kerley played as a slot receiver for much of his time as a Jet.

The Cowboys lacked any type of production from the slot in 2017, but maybe Lal can change that by getting the best out of Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer, as he did with Kerley.

Bryan Broaddus on Twitter

Know that some believe he had a real shot to be an OC in this league one day. https://t.co/1s21w2jZGR

All indications from those “in the know” suggest Sanjay Lal is on his way to becoming an offensive coordinator soon. Many believe he has the smarts and the football IQ to command an offense himself, as soon as he gets the right opportunity.

Maybe that opportunity will come down the line in Dallas, where he can continue to coach within that “ground and pound” style, which he has done for many years while also implementing elements of his own passing game expertise.

Everyone has been critical of the Cowboys’ inability to bring in external hires, and to spark up new/creative offensive ideas. Lal has spent time among some of the smartest offensive minds in football.

Maybe he’s the man to bring in that outside creativity this offense seems to lack.

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Dallas Cowboys

Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

Sean Martin

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Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

After hiring Paul Alexander to fill their vacant OL coaching position, the Dallas Cowboys are continuing to retool their offensive staff below Scott Linehan. Sanjay Lal has been hired to coach the Cowboys’ wide receivers, replacing Derek Dooley.

Lal has experience as a WR coach with four different teams, dating back to 2009 with the Oakland Raiders. He was promoted up to this position after serving as the Raiders’ quality control coach from 2007-08.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys have reached an agreement with Sanjay Lal to become the team’s WR coach. Lal was with Indianapolis last season and replaces Derek Dooley on the staff.

Most recently, Sanjay Lal coached the receivers for the Indianapolis Colts in 2017. He has also been with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

In this interview with the Colts, Lal mentions being very detail-oriented with a focus on the technical aspects of playing receiver.

Lal beats out former Cowboys WR Miles Austin for this position, earning the right to lead a room of receivers in desperate need of fresh talent. In an offseason that’s been about finding fresh ideas with the coaching staff so far though, the Cowboys have a new voice on offense.

Tell us what you think about “Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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