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5 Questions That Remain Unanswered For The 2017 Dallas Cowboys

Brian Martin

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Ezekiel Elliott Suspension: How The Josh Brown Case Helps Cowboys 2

The Dallas Cowboys still have quite a few unanswered questions looming ahead of the 2017 opener against the New York Giants. It's understandable not everything is set in stone, but as a fan I think we all would like any concerns we might have answered.

Nearly all Cowboys fans, including myself, have high hopes for this 2017 squad. That has a lot to do with the fact they were a serious playoff contender a year ago and have a talented roster from top to bottom. But, even though this is a talented team, the unknown that still surrounds them is a little concerning.

Typically, concerns create questions and not all questions are easily answered. That is why I decided to share with all of you five of my questions that have yet to be answered. Continue to read below to find out the questions I would like to have answers to, and as always feel free to use a comment section at the end of the article to voice yours as well.

How will Ezekiel Elliott vs. NFL turn out?

All of Cowboys Nation has been living under the belief that Ezekiel Elliott was going to see some kind of suspension to start the 2017 season. But, I believe we were all caught off guard when the NFL in their infinite wisdom decided to slap Elliott with a six-game suspension, even though he was never legally charged with anything.

After learning of the length of the suspension, we all knew that an appeal hearing was obviously the next step. Well, that has wrapped up and we are now in the wait and see portion of this entire situation. But, unless the suspension is completely lifted, don't expect this to end anytime soon.

Ezekiel Elliott I believe is fully prepared to take this to the judicial system in order to clear his name fully. I don't believe he will except any reduction in suspension from the NFL, which means this is far from over. He absolutely wants to exonerate himself from any wrongdoing and that is completely understandable. His battle with the NFL may just be starting, but I'm sure all of us would love to fast-forward to see how this all turns out.

OL Chaz Green

OL Chaz Grreen

Who will start at left guard?

The Dallas Cowboys offense is pretty much set in stone across the board, but the one and probably only uncertainty is at left guard. The Cowboys coaching staff probably knows who will start Week 1 against the New York Giants, but from the outside looking in, no one has really stepped up and stood out above the rest.

If I was to guess who would start at LG on opening day, I would probably have to go with Jonathan Cooper. I believe Chaz Green has been the better of the two, but unfortunately he is unable to remain healthy and he can't be relied upon because of that. So, I think Cooper wins the LG starting spot by default.

Cooper hasn't looked terrible, but he hasn't played well enough to earn the starting job out right either. The wild card here is maybe Byron Bell. He has versatility to play guard or tackle, but both Cooper and Green have received more opportunities. It will be really interesting to find out who will lineup between Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick to open the season.

CB Chidobe Awuzie

CB Chidobe Awuzie

Will the youth movement in the secondary payoff?

Arguably one of the biggest unknowns surrounding the Dallas Cowboys right now is how their made over secondary will perform with all of the youth they added during the off-season. No one really knows how the rookies will perform after the majority of them missed several weeks due to injuries.

Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods have all missed the last few weeks of practice and preseason with injuries and have missed valuable repetitions to get up to speed. All three are expected to play big roles on defense this season, but no one really knows yet what they are capable of.

Unfortunately, it's not all about the rookies though. Jeff Heath is relatively unknown as a starter, which causes a little bit of a concern. Also, Anthony Brown might have played well as a rookie a season ago, but has he improved in his second-year? The Cowboys secondary will undoubtably have their ups and downs, but hopefully this youth movement pays off in the end.

What's holding up Zack Martin's contract extension?

I'm in no way concerned the Dallas Cowboys and Zack Martin won't eventually agree to terms for a contract extension. But, I am a little bit surprised it hasn't happened yet. In the past, the Cowboys have used training camp to finalize contract extensions with other players like Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith, but as of yet haven't been able to with Martin.

I honestly believe a contract extension is coming soon and could likely be finalized before the 2017 season gets underway. But, what's the holdup? I think there is no time like the present for some good news, especially with all of this Ezekiel Elliott suspension appeal stuff still hanging over everyone's heads. It would provide a good distraction and lock up the best offensive guard in the NFL.

LB Jaylon Smith

LB Jaylon Smith

Is Jaylon Smith ready to start?

Aside from all of the Ezekiel Elliott suspension news, there probably hasn't been any bigger storyline than the Dallas Cowboys second year LB Jaylon Smith. Everyone was anxiously anticipating his return to the field with the hope that he would regain the form he once had at Notre Dame.

Smith was noticeably little rusty in his first preseason game, but the more repetitions he received, the more comfortable/confident he became. Because of the Anthony Hitchens injury last week, Smith could be looking to become the starting MLB as early as Week 1, but I'm just not sure his body is ready to withstand a full football game just yet.

The more likely scenario is Justin Durant will start the season at MLB and Smith will be worked into the lineup here and there. There's no reason to rush him into anything, especially considering he hasn't played in a meaningful football game in a year. He needs to reacclimate himself to physical contact and grow more comfortable with surgically repaired knee/drop foot first.

What are your Dallas Cowboys unanswered question concerns?



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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Dallas Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott vs Byron Jones Part II: The Case For Paying Zeke

John Williams

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New York Giants are 2-1 Against Cowboys With Ezekiel Elliott

It's a debate that has raged on social media for some time now and it likely won't slow down as the offseason progresses and the Dallas Cowboys begin to hand out massive contracts to their top players. Pay Ezekiel Elliott? Pay Byron Jones? If you could only pay one, which would you pay?

This week fellow Inside The Star Staff Writer, Kevin Brady took to Twitter to poll the populous and his results were a bit surprising to me.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

if you can only pay one it should be

The results inspired me to see what would happen if I put the same poll on my timeline.

John Williams ✭ on Twitter

Inspired by my teammate @KevinBrady88, if you can only pay one, which would it be?

On Monday, Kevin wrote a piece looking at one of the difficult decisions facing the Dallas Cowboys this offseason or next. If the Cowboys could only extend Byron Jones OR Ezekiel Elliott, who should they choose? Kevin, as am I, is a firm believer in Byron Jones ability and says the Cowboys should extend them, and I agree. But let's look at the other side of the argument.

To begin, the Cowboys should and probably will get both guys contract extensions either this offseason or next. It's not impossible with the cap continuing to increase at a rate of about $8-12 million per year that the Cowboys will have the space to get the deals done that they need to get done. Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones included.

Byron Jones settled in nicely at cornerback during his first full season at cornerback and knowing what we know about Jones, he won't be satisfied with a second team All-Pro appearance. Expect him to get better. However, if there's a single player that represents the current identity of the Dallas Cowboys, it's Running Back Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys made him the fourth overall pick in 2016 and haven't looked back in their plan to establish the running game. For his career Elliott has averaged 26.9 touches per game over the course of his 40 games.

Here's a look at what Elliott's per game and per 16 game paces look like through the first three seasons of his career.

As you can see from the table above, Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 131.2 total yards per game for his career. In his rookie season he had 1,994 total yards and he sat out the week 17 game against the Philadelphia Eagles when the Cowboys had the NFC and home field advantage locked up. In 2017, Elliott sat out six games and still had nearly 1,000 yards rushing. In 2018, Elliott broke through the 2,000 total yard barrier after seeing a huge increase in his targets and receptions.

Ezekiel Elliott has been everything the Dallas Cowboys could have hoped for and more. With the leadership role he's taken with the team, he's a player that leads both vocally and by example. There are few players on the Dallas Cowboys that give as much effort as he does each snap. How many times has it looked like Elliott was about to get dropped for a two or three yard loss only to grind through tackles to pick up a four yard gain? How many times has he bounced off tacklers to get to the first down marker? Ezekiel Elliott is the human personification of dirty yards, but don't let that fool you into thinking that Elliott can't take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Elliott's is a game breaker who threatens the defense every time he steps on the field.

In 2018, Elliott led the NFL in yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus. His 949 yards after contact in 2018 would have ranked 13th in the NFL in rushing, which was better than David Johnson's 940 yards rushing last season.

Not many running backs effect a football game like Ezekiel Elliott does.

Few players outside of the quarterback position are as much of a focal point for their offense while being an attention grabber for opposing defenses like Ezekiel Elliott is. In 2018, he saw eight or more men in the box on nearly 25% of his carries in 2018. Some of that is related to the Dallas Cowboys insistence on using two tight ends on 50% of their running plays (per Sharp Football), but the other aspect is related to how much they respect the Dallas Cowboys running game. Since the 2014, the Cowboys have been synonymous with running the football. DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, and now Ezekiel Elliott have been the faces of that running game behind the Cowboys elite offensive line.

Even in a down year for offensive line play from the Dallas Cowboys, Elliott still managed to lead the NFL in rushing for the second time in three seasons. Elliott made the Pro Bowl for the second time in three years as well. Were it not for the railroad job done by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2017, there's a really good chance that Elliott leads the league in rushing three years in a row and that the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs all three seasons.

Sure, the running back position is undervalued in the NFL and rushing yardage can be replaced, but there are intangibles to Elliott's game that are very difficult to replace. His ability to grind out the dirty yards, break big plays, create yards after contact, pass protect, be a threat as a receiver, and his leadership make him a player that is difficult to replace.

Yes, Byron Jones was really good in 2018 and deserves to get paid by the Dallas Cowboys as well, but you'd be hard pressed to find a player on the Cowboys roster who has been as consistent and dominating week in and week out as Ezekiel Elliott has been over the last three years.



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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

Brian Martin

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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T

The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.

During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.

After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.

This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.

Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!



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REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur

Jess Haynie

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L.P. Ladouceur

L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.

Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e

Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.

Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.

Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.



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