The Dallas Cowboys are back folks! After a dominant performance by the Rod Marinelli's defense, the Cowboys walked away with a win versus the New York Giants. For the first time in his NFL career, Dak Prescott enjoyed beating his NFC East rival. Good times, friends... good times.
As we enjoy this victory week and get ready for the next, let me share with you my takeaways from the Dallas Cowboys season opener. We'll be doing this all season after every Cowboys game! Here we go.
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The Giants Offense Is Bad
Since going 0-2 versus the Giants in 2016, all of Cowboys Nation was a bit concerned about opening the season versus New York. The fact that they were the only ones able to beat last year's team left us with a small fear of being bested once again in 2017.
I know Odell Beckham didn't play, and it is only fair to admit that him being inactive did nothing but increase the Cowboys' chances of winning.
Even still, I expected more out of Eli Manning's offense. It's supposed to be a deep group of catchers including WRs Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall and TE Evan Engram. Brandon Marshall had only one reception in four targets. Our secondary may be decent, but not being able to score more than three points against a defense that is far from elite, says a lot about your offense.
Even with Beckham sitting out for the game, I think this was a very telling performance for the NY Giants who are supposedly the top threat for the Dallas Cowboys.
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Alfred Morris Shouldn't Be RB 2
This will be a take I know a lot of people won't agree with, but I truly believe it. When the Cowboys announced their inactive players two hours before showtime, I was very surprised when I saw Darren McFadden's name.
Since the preseason, I've rooting for both McFadden and Rod Smith to be this team's running backs behind Ezekiel Elliott.
Alfred Morris carried the ball four times... he earned one yard.
I just don't think he's shown us enough to be Ezekiel Elliott's backup running back. I'd rather have a more versatile player in Darren McFadden or a younger player with a higher upside in Rod Smith.
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Jaylon Smith's Time Is Now
You know it to be true. Since the moment he was drafted we've been waiting for Jaylon Smith to be ready. How many times did we said something similar to: "Man, just wait till we get Jaylon healthy, these LBs will create mayhem."
Well, Jaylon Smith is playing football, and he is ready. I'm not talking about him running drills in practice or playing in the preseason. No, I'm talking about real NFL regular season football. The only LB that was on the field more than Smith was Sean Lee.
Jaylon was in for 36 snaps, which were more than what we expected. He played excellent football, and with him being ready, the Cowboys may not need to rush Anthony Hitchens back to the field. Jaylon Smith is no longer a future contributor, he is ready to contribute right now.
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Dak Prescott Could Do Better
Please, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying by any means that Dak Prescott is not good, or that he is about to be on a sophomore slump. He isn't.
But we would be lying to ourselves if we said Dak had a very good game. His accuracy was off at times, and he missed some pretty good opportunities. Dez Bryant's stats do not tell the whole story, for instance. He had a better game than what the score box says. But sometimes, Dak couldn't connect. He even missed Dez in the end zone.
This isn't a reason to panic. We've seen Dak Prescott have slow starts and then pick it up and be awesome at football. But the truth is, with such a tough schedule, there will be some close games this season... and Dak can't be missing these opportunities.
Every play counts, and slow starts can end up knocking you out of Super Bowl runs, even if you score 18 points in the fourth quarter. Damn you, Packers.
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The Cowboys Defense Will Be Alright
Dak Prescott's offense is not a problem. The WR group is unstoppable, the running game continues to be dominant and Dak Prescott is still our quarterback. The question mark for the Dallas Cowboys has always been the defense.
For some years now, this defense has been a "bend-but-don't-break" kind of defense. That could be changing for the Cowboys soon. The Giants OL is not very good, but the Cowboys showed us a promising pass rush.
DeMarcus Lawrence was getting pressure constantly and even sacked Eli twice. Charles Tapper saw some action too, getting his first career sack. David Irving is coming in week 5, and Damontre Moore will be back when the Cowboys face the Cardinals in week 3.
Anthony Brown's interception is also a sign of improvement. It wasn't one of those interceptions in which the ball falls into the CB hand, but an athletic play on the ball by the sophomore player. The kind of plays this defense is missing, and the kind of plays that will make this a championship team.
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Overall, the Dallas Cowboys had a good game during the first week of the season. This could be our year... I sure hope so. Next week the Cowboys face another elite defense. The Denver Broncos will prove to be a tough opponent, but last time I checked, Dallas is a pretty tough opponent too.
As for now, the Dallas Cowboys are 1-0.
2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1
Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.
Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.
Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.
The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.
Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas
Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.
Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.
The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.
Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.
Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial
Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.
Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.
Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.
Pues en Dallas, hoy dos jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.
Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.
Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.
Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.
Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.
Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?
Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.
The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.
The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.
Lock Down the Big Guns
Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.
Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.
As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.
Adding New Talent
One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.
Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.
If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.
Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.
Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.
The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.
As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.
Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.
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