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.
Cowboys en Español: DeMarcus Lawrence, ¿Etiqueta o Contrato?
El pasado martes 20 de febrero, comenzó a lo que se le puede llamar una especie de "prólogo" a la agencia libre. Esa fecha marcó el primer día para que los equipos de la NFL designen jugadores franquicia o de transición. Alrededor de la liga, muchos nombres como el de Le'Veon Bell resaltan en esta conversación.
Y uno de los más grandes y conocidos, es el del defensive end de los Dallas Cowboys: DeMarcus Lawrence.
Hace unos días, se reportó que los Cowboys le darían la etiqueta franquicia a D-Law, algo que todos veíamos venir desde hace rato. Sin embargo, aún no se le otorga dicha etiqueta, sino que lo harán más cerca de la fecha límite para hacerlo, el 6 de Marzo.
En enero escribí un poco más a fondo sobre como funcionan las etiquetas franquicia en la NFL.
Al inicio de su carrera, Lawrence fue un tanto decepcionante. No logró mantenerse sano, recibió una suspensión de cuatro juegos en el 2016 y antes de la última temporada, no había sido nada especial. Sin embargo, en el 2017 estuvo entre los mejores defensivos de la liga.
Lawrence logró capturar 14.5 veces a los quarterbacks contrarios (había conseguido sólo nueve en toda su carrera) y 35 tackles. No sólo mejoró increíblemente presionando el juego aéreo, sino que también se convirtió en una fuerza contra el juego terrestre.
Podemos hablar de estadísticas todo lo que queramos, pero creo que todos vimos lo que sucedió en el campo semana tras semana.
Un jugador que juegue de la manera que jugó DeMarcus este 2017, merece un gran, gran contrato. El problema es, que esta ha sido su única buena temporada. Y ahora la administración tiene que decidir que hacer respecto a este joven talento de sólo 25 años de edad.
¿Dejar que juegue en el 2018 bajo la etiqueta franquicia? ¿O darle un contrato a largo plazo, asegurando que use la Estrella por varios años?
Definitivamente no es una opción tan fácil como parece. Stephen y Jerry Jones han sido criticados por mucho los últimos años (bastantes veces erróneamente), y Lawrence es una oportunidad perfecta para lucirse... o quedar mal con su afición por muchos años.
¿Qué si le dan una jugosa extensión de contrato y nunca volvemos a ver al mismo jugador que vimos dominar líneas ofensivas en el 2017? ¿Qué pasa si por alguna razón juega en otro equipo tras el 2018, y termina siendo uno de los mejores de la NFL?
Según reportes, Lawrence está pidiendo 17 millones por año, lo cuál lo pondría entre los mejores pagados de su posición actualmente. El DE de los Giants Olivier Vernon promedia esa cantidad, y sorpresa, sorpresa... ambos jugadores cuentan con el mismo agente.
Finalmente, por años hemos ansiado un caza cabezas para los Dallas Cowboys. Año tras año, hablamos de novatos como Joey Bosa o agentes libres como Dwight Freeney que podrían cambiar el rumbo de la defensiva de este equipo.
Pues ahora, los Cowboys cuentan con uno.
Sí, no se mantuvo sano durante los primeros tres años de su carrera, pero cuando lo estuvo demostró ser un jugador de mucha calidad. Quizá esta vez, si sea la ocasión para romper el cochinito y pagarle su merecido dinero a Lawrence.
Y con un poco de suerte, seguirá siendo el mismo que fue la temporada pasada y los Cowboys contarán con un excelente jugador en su línea defensiva.
Will Jeff Heath be a Starter or Backup in 2018?
There seems to be quite a bit of optimism surrounding the Dallas Cowboys secondary after the hiring of Kris Richard. A lot of Cowboys Nation is hoping that he can re-create the "Legion of Boom" here in Dallas, but do the Cowboys have the personnel to do it?
There's no denying the Cowboys have some very talented young defensive backs. Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods all had fantastic rookie seasons and they have only started to scratch the surface of their true potential. We could even throw Anthony Brown into that conversation as well, even though he struggled at times in 2017.
Kris Richard definitely has something to work with, at least at cornerback. But, the safety position for the Cowboys could probably use an upgrade.
I wouldn't be all that surprised if we see completely new faces starting at safety for the Dallas Cowboys in 2018. There have already been rumors Byron Jones might be moving back to cornerback. That would leave Jeff Heath as the only Cowboy safety with any kind of starting experience.
Unfortunately, Jeff Heath has been the favorite whipping boy for a lot of Cowboys fans. When there was blame to be placed in the secondary, it usually fell on Heath's shoulders whether it was warranted or not.
Kris Richard will probably have a pretty big input on who the Cowboy starting safeties will be next season. You can bet he has already evaluated every single one of his secondary players and already has a pretty good idea of how he wants to deploy them.
Right now, the biggest enigma in the Cowboy secondary has to be the safety position and more importantly what to do with Jeff Heath. Will he be a starter or backup in 2018?
Heath actually performed pretty well in 2017. He finished the season with 71 tackles, two forced fumbles, and three interceptions. That compares pretty favorably with the safety everybody wants to bring to Dallas, Earl Thomas, who finished last season with 88 tackles, one forced fumble, and two interceptions. But, we all know statistics don't show the big picture.
We all know Earl Thomas is the more talented of the two players, but that's not to say Jeff Heath isn't worthy of his starting job. I know some of you will disagree, but I believe he proved that last season.
What happens to Jeff Heath in 2018 will likely depend on what the Dallas Cowboys are able to do in free agency and through the draft. Adding another safety at some point is definitely an offseason priority, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will be an upgrade over Heath.
As things stand right now, Jeff Heath is still penciled in as one of the starting safeties heading into the 2018 season. The other starting safety spot is up for grabs. Who knows, maybe we'll see completely new faces at the safety position, much like we did at CB last year.
Do you think Jeff Heath remains the starting safety?
Should Cowboys Sign This RFA to a Contract Sheet?
Fortune favors the bold. It's a rough translation of an old Latin proverb and the mantra I believe the Dallas Cowboys should indoctrinate this offseason.
I think it's time the Dallas Cowboys start to make a few bold moves. I truly believe they are close to competing for a championship title and one or two offseason moves could increase those odds. One such move would be to sign restricted free agent (RFA) Shaquil Barrett to an offer sheet.
It's expected that the Denver Broncos will place a second-round tender on Barrett and I think the Dallas Cowboys would be wise to explore the possibility of signing him to a contract sheet. If Denver declines to match the offer, the Cowboys would then send them their second round draft pick as compensation.
You on board?
Probably not at this point, but let me try to explain why I believe this is a good move on the Cowboys part, even if it is an uncharacteristic one.
You see, the Cowboys could definitely use someone to play opposite DeMarcus Lawrence and I think Shaquil Barrett could be the solution.
I know it sounds like a lot to give up a second round draft pick, but the Cowboys have been deplorable at drafting players in the second round the past decade. Sean Lee, DeMarcus Lawrence, and possibly Jaylon Smith have really been the only "hits" the Cowboys have found in the second round. That's simply unacceptable!
So, why not use that second rounder to acquire a player who is already a proven commodity in the NFL?
I know the first thing a lot of you are going to do is to look up Shaquil Barrett's stats to see what he has accomplished in the NFL. But, stats don't always show the big picture.
You see, Barrett has been stuck behind some pretty talented pass rushers in Denver, so his statistics aren't going to jump off the paper. But, when given the opportunity he has proven he deserves a larger role. That's where the Dallas Cowboys come in.
The Broncos probably don't have the money to keep Shaquil Barrett if the Cowboys sign him to a contract sheet. It doesn't necessarily even have to be a big money contract offer. The Broncos simply don't have the salary cap to do much, especially considering they are still looking for a starting quarterback.
I honestly like the idea of the Cowboys going after Barrett. You may have forgotten, but he gave a healthy Tyron Smith fits last season.
With an injured Shane Ray, Shaquil Barrett got the start against the Cowboys in 2017 and finished the game with two quarterback hits, six QB pressures, and five stops. No other player found that kind of success against Tyron Smith all season, even when he was banged up.
Unfortunately, when Shane Ray returned, Barrett's usage on defense declined. That's why you can't always judge a players productivity by statistics. You have to judge him more on a per-snap basis, and if you do that you will discover he was very effective as both a pass rusher and run stopper.
I believe Barrett is ready for a full-time role. Yes, he has been used as a standup 3-4 OLB with the Broncos, but he has the required traits to put his hand on the ground and maintain his effectiveness.
The downside to all of this is the Dallas Cowboys would have to give up their second-round draft pick, but draft picks are sometimes overvalued anyways. Shaquil Barrett is probably better than anybody the Cowboys could draft in the second round, so I say pull the trigger.
Should the Cowboys sign Shaquil Barrett to a contract sheet?
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