The Dallas Cowboys 2017 season didn't quite end the way many of us would have liked. We would all prefer that they were still alive for the playoffs and making a strong push for the Super Bowl, but that just wasn't in the cards for them this season. But, that doesn't mean there aren't some good things that can be taken away from the way this team performed this year.
It's a little difficult to focus on the positives right now after still hurting a little bit with how the Dallas Cowboys season ended.
All they had to do to keep their playoff hopes alive was beat the Seattle Seahawks a few weeks ago, but they decided to beat themselves instead. The pain is real, but only as long as we continue to focus on it.
I think it's time to switch our focus to the future.
That is why I decided to put together a list of five positive things to happen to the Dallas Cowboys now that they are heading into the off-season. Please continue reading below to see my positive outtakes from the 2017 season. And as always, please feel free to use the comment section at the end of the article to voice your own thoughts and opinions on the topic.
Jaylon Smith's Future
The Dallas Cowboys took a chance when they selected Jaylon Smith with their second round pick in the 2016 Draft. No one really knew whether or not he would be able to play again, but it looks as if that gamble is paying off after the year he had in 2017.
If someone would've said to you that Jaylon Smith would play all 16 games and finish the year as one of the Cowboys' leading tacklers before the 2017 season started, would you have believed them? Probably not, but that is exactly what happened.
Smith got out to a slow start, but he continued to progress throughout the year to finish the season with 81 tackles, one QB sack, and two forced fumbles.
The exciting thing about this is Smith said himself that he is finally starting to feel "elite" again, which should make him even better in 2018. He was nowhere close to playing at the top of his game this year, but he should be nearly 100% before the season starts next year.
The Dallas Cowboys could certainly use his play making ability at linebacker, especially with the uncertainty at the position heading into the off-season.
La'el Collins' Move to Right Tackle
I'm not ashamed to admit I was a little bit skeptical with the Cowboys' decision to move La'el Collins from left guard to right tackle. I believed Collins' skill set better fit him as a guard in the NFL, but that he could survive as a RT.
But, he ended up playing above my expectations and really solidified the right side of the offensive line.
What I really admired about La'el Collins this season was his toughness and availability. Like Tyron Smith, Collins was also dealing with a back injury that kept him out of practices towards the end of the season. But, he continued to battle through it and didn't miss a game the entire year.
I commend him for that, especially since some players will shut it down after they receive an extension like he did this season.
It will be really interesting to see what the Cowboys do with Collins next season.
They can continue to play him at RT, but if they draft another tackle, they could kick him back inside to LG. His versatility to play either position could come in handy at draft time, allowing the Cowboys to take a guard or tackle if they choose to do so.
Dallas Cowboys Secondary Makeover
One of the biggest concerns for the Dallas Cowboys heading into the 2017 season was how they were going to replace all of their secondary after pretty much gutting it.
Gone were veterans Barry Church, Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, and J.J. Wilcox. That's a lot of people walking out the door with no clear answers as to who replaces them. Fortunately, the Cowboys addressed that need through the draft, and did quite well if you ask me.
With their second round draft pick, the Cowboys selected cornerback Chidobe Awuzie out of Colorado, and then followed that up in the third round by taking CB Jourdan Lewis out of Michigan. But, they didn't stop there. They then traded up to take CB/S Xavier Woods and finished off by taking Marquez White in hopes of upgrading their secondary.
No one could have possibly imagined how well these rookies would play.
It took a little while for them to get going, due to injuries, but Awuzie and Lewis look like future studs at the CB position, and Woods proved his versatility is a valuable asset for the defense.
The Cowboys coaching staff couldn't be happier with the way the rookie defensive backs played this season and should feel encouraged about the future of their secondary.
"War Daddy" DeMarcus Lawrence
No one in their right mind could have predicted the year DeMarcus Lawrence would have heading into the 2017 season. In fact, there were several people who had a hard time seeing him even make the final 53 man roster.
It's funny how things can change in a short amount of time. Now nobody wants to see the talented defensive end leave Dallas.
Lawrence couldn't have chosen a better time to break out than in his contract year. He was arguably the best DE in the entire NFL and will likely want to be compensated as such. It's unlikely that will happen since he has already had two back surgeries in his NFL career, but he should and probably will be handsomely rewarded, eventually.
Fortunately, the Dallas Cowboys hold all of the cards right now.
They can try to work out a long-term extension that benefits both parties, but the more likely scenario is they designate him as their franchise player. It's doubtful another team will try to snatch him away if he's franchised, which means Lawrence will be back for at least the 2018 season.
Taco Charlton's Progression
With their first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected defensive end Taco Charlton out of Michigan.
That selection didn't go over too well with a lot of Cowboys fans. Nearly everyone wanted them to take T.J. Watt instead. That unhappiness continued throughout the season because of the way Watt played.
Taco Charlton was constantly bashed for his lack of impact by a lot of fans, but he continued to improve as the season progressed and finished 2017 strong.
Charlton wasn't a starter like Watt was with the Steelers. He was relegated to backup duty and didn't receive a lot of playing time. But, I find it encouraging that Charlton ended his rookie season with similar stats as the same player Cowboys fans continuously compare him to.
Taco finished his rookie season with 19 tackles, three QB sacks, and one forced fumble. For comparison, T.J. Watt finished his first year in the NFL with 54 tackles, seven QB sacks, one forced fumble, and one interception.
The big difference is Watt probably had nearly double Charlton's playing time. So, maybe the Cowboys scouting department was right about Taco all along. I know I'm excited to see his progression next season.
What positives do you like about the Cowboys heading into the off-season?
Does James Hanna’s Retirement Make TE a Draft Priority?
The Dallas Cowboys depth at the tight end position took a little bit of a hit this past Friday when James Hanna announced to the world that he planned on retiring. The Cowboys will now move him to the reserve/retired list, thus creating questions as to who will be Jason Witten's primary backup in 2018?
Before James Hanna's retirement announcement, it was rumored he could end up getting cut to get some salary-cap relief. The Cowboys fortunately didn't have to make that decision, but Hanna's retirement has the same impact on the salary-cap as it would have if it would've been released.
The downside of all of this is that the Dallas Cowboys now have to find out who will now become their backup tight end this season. This is definitely an important decision because Jason Witten is no longer the threat he once was, and his age could make him start becoming susceptible to injuries, although he has been an Iron Man the majority of his career.
I don't know about you, but there's really not anybody currently on the Cowboys roster who inspires a lot of confidence. Geoff Swaim will likely step into James Hanna's vacated role behind Jason Witten, but the depth behind him creates more questions than answers.
The Dallas Cowboys are supposedly pretty high on Blake Jarwin, but he will be entering his second year and hasn't really received a lot of playing time as of yet. Then, there is Rico Gathers, a fan favorite, who flashed his ability in preseason last year.
Gathers mere size and athletic ability makes him a mismatch against anybody who tries to cover him, but I just don't know how committed he is to his football career. He seems much more focused on trying to become a rapper than he does improving his craft. Hopefully, that's not the case and he can take the next step in his development.
The Dallas Cowboys current situation at the tight end position is a little depressing. In fact, I really think it's holding the Cowboys offense back and it's past time to do some upgrading.
Fortunately, there is an event happening this week that could improve the entire tight end position… the 2018 NFL Draft. If the Dallas Cowboys weren't planning on drafting a tight end before James Hanna's retirement, they should seriously consider it now.
Jason Witten isn't going to play forever and if he was to get injured, the Cowboys offense would seriously be in trouble. We all know he's not the player he once was, but he is still the best and most dependable option currently on the roster.
Unfortunately, we witnessed firsthand just how bad things can get when a starter goes down and the depth behind them isn't capable of stepping in and handling the job. That is why the Dallas Cowboys should have a better contingency plan in place if something were to happen to Witten.
The good news is that this year's TE draft class is pretty deep and the Dallas Cowboys should be able to take one to not only replace James Hanna, but hopefully become Witten's successor as well.
Should the Dallas Cowboys draft a tight end?
Dallas Cowboys “All or Nothing” Series to Shed New Light on HC Jason Garrett
You likely already know by now that the 2017 Dallas Cowboys season -- by all accounts, a forgettable one for fans, coaches, and big-name players -- will be documented forever thanks to NFL Films' latest All or Nothing series.
Effectively, All or Nothing is a new spin on the popular Hard Knocks series with one major difference. This Amazon Prime exclusive doesn't just follow a team through training camp, as NFL Films gets inside team meetings and games throughout the entire season.
The 2017 Cowboys yielded just nine wins, creating more than enough drama for television along the way. This was yet another season where Head Coach Jason Garrett's job was put on the line, although early reviews of All or Nothing (available to the public April 27th) paint Garrett as the lead antagonist.
Jason Garrett drops at least 10 f-bombs in the first show. Before the Broncos game in Week 2: "You want to quiet the game down? Hand the f---in' ball to 21 and knock their ass off the ball.
Watching the Titanic and expecting a different outcome is a surefire way to set yourself up for disappointment, as will be reliving a frustrating season in Dallas. By the end though, Cowboys fans will have a much better understanding of where the 2018 team stands - particularly in the eyes of a Head Coach they looked to fire once again this offseason.
Jason Garrett has long been described as a "players coach", one that his Cowboys teams want to fight for. Whether or not the Cowboys have gone too far in constantly churning their roster in Garrett's image for little end result will likely be determined this season.
This is a Head Coach that has been in place for the departure of DeMarcus Ware, Tony Romo (serving as a pivotal decision maker for the Cowboys choosing Dak Prescott as their full-time starter in 2016), and most recently Dez Bryant.
An added bonus to All or Nothing will likely be that it captures Dez Bryant's final moments with the Cowboys.
Garrett to Zeke at practice after Broncos loss: "I want that f---in guy at Ohio St. who was running down on that kickoff. Remember after you played your 2nd play in the NFL against the Seahawks, you came over to me and you said, 'Give me the f---in ball!'
The Cowboys did not just lose Ezekiel Elliott in 2017 (serving his six game suspension), and All or Nothing will remind every one of just how much talent came off the field for Garrett's team last season. Coming out at the same time as the Dallas hosted 2018 Draft, Cowboys fans can build their excitement for a 2018 triumph back to the playoffs.
Anything short of this likely costs Jason Garrett his job, although everything he means to the Dallas Cowboys will be put in better-than-ever perspective by All or Nothing.
I don't wanna spoil the "All or Nothing" TV show more than what you've already seen or heard. But if you watch it, you're going to get a great look at: 1. Jason Garrett's actual persona 2. The dynamics of Dez's relationship within the team 3.
Cowboys en Español: Definiendo la Urgencia por un WR este NFL Draft
El líder en recepciones de anotación en la historia de la franquicia más emblemática en la historia de los Dallas Cowboys, Dez Bryant, ha visto su tiempo portando la estrella solitaria llegar a su fin. Un fin, por cierto, que dejó a algunos cuantos aficionados, administrativos y jugadores en un estado de descontento.
Por más que me gustaría entrar a detalle de si el veterano receptor merecía ser recortado o no, si el equipo tomó la decisión correcta o no, el NFL Draft está a menos de una semana de distancia. Así que, en vez de hablar de lo que pudo haber sido, hablemos de lo que puede ser.
Los Cowboys, a pesar de ser conocidos como una potencia ofensiva en las últimas temporadas, necesitan a un wide receiver. Sí, Dallas consiguió al agente libre de Jacksonville Allen Hurns, pero siendo honestos, no parece ser suficiente talento para un equipo que quiere construirle una ofensiva amigable a su quarterback, Dak Prescott.
Si el roster sólo tiene a Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Ryan Switzer, Noah Brown y Deonte Thompson; se necesita un WR. Incluso con Bryant en el equipo, se necesitaba un receptor. Lo cual lleva a la gran pregunta: ¿el despido de Dez significa que a los Cowboys les urge aún más un receptor? ¿Significa que definitivamente buscarán mejorar la posición con su selección de primera ronda?
Algo queda claro, la administración sabía lo que sucedería. Dez Bryant no estaba en los planes para el 2018 y claramente sus planes para abordar el NFL Draft no se verán cambiados por la partida del apasionado #88.
Estas estrategias se plantean por meses y más meses. Los Cowboys se han fijado mucho en la posición de receptor, desde que fue el NFL Combine hasta las visitas privadas que toman lugar a lo largo de Abril.
Es un hecho que tienen en la mira a los receptores. Claramente, quieren añadir más talento a la ofensiva para Dak Prescott.
En una clase de prospectos que cuenta con bastantes receptores, otra pregunta naturalmente, es ¿lo harán en primera ronda o más tarde? Me sorprendería demasiado si el equipo espera hasta la tercera ronda. Sin duda, es algo que tienen que atender con una de sus dos primeros picks.
En el primero, la selección #19 global, podrían encontrar a uno de los tres mejores receptores del año. Calvin Ridley, de Alabama; Courtland Sutton, de SMU; DJ Moore, de Maryland. Si buscarán el "remplazo" de Dez Bryant en uno de estos tres jugadores, definitivamente será uno de estos tres prospectos.
Todos tienen lo suyo. Sutton es un receptor estilo "X" (como Dez Bryant) mientras Ridley, por ejemplo, es claramente un receptor "Z" (como Terrance Williams). DJ Moore brinda un poco de versatilidad entre ambos roles, y podría ser un jugador de impacto en cualquiera que se le juegue, aunque probablemente brillaría más si se le permitiera jugar como un "Z."
Afortunadamente para Dallas, el recién firmado Allen Hurns también es capaz de tomar cualquiera de los dos roles. Esto le da flexibilidad a los Cowboys de tomar al que más les guste, o en su defecto, a quien esté disponible.
En mi segundo Mock Draft del año, simulé a Courtland Sutton, producto de SMU a los Cowboys con el pick #19. Los coaches de la Estrella Solitaria han mostrado bastante interés por el producto local y no me sorprendería nada verlos aterrizar un receptor como él la próxima semana.
Ahora bien, si Dallas decide esperar hasta la segunda ronda para conseguir a un par de manos confiables, encontrarán talento. Definitivamente. James Washington, DJ Chark, Michael Gallup, Anthony Miller, entre otros podrían estar ahí en la selección #50 (segunda ronda).
Si el equipo quiere tomar talento para otra posición en la primera, lo podrán hacer sabiendo que encontrarán un WR talentoso al día siguiente.
Afortunadamente, esta ofensiva se basa en Ezekiel Elliott y el juego terrestre detrás de la línea ofensiva. Los receptores son importantes, por supuesto, pero no es necesario tener algo tan dominante como lo fue Dez Bryant en el 2013 y el 2014, por ejemplo.
Por ahora, sólo falta esperar como abordan los Cowboys esta necesidad la próxima semana cuando el NFL Draft del 2018 tome lugar en el mismo lugar en el que este equipo juega sus partidos e intenta pelear, el AT&T Stadium.
Con un poco de suerte, estrenaran el campo este 2018 obteniendo su primer victoria del año la próxima semana.
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