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6 Cowboys Players Primed To Make Their First Pro Bowl

Brian Martin

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5 Cowboys Players Primed To Make First Pro Bowl

The Dallas Cowboys are no strangers about sending several of their players to the Pro Bowl year after year. Even when they don't have a good season as a team, they still end up with more than a few Pro Bowlers. It could be because of the voting system and the worldwide popularity of the Cowboys brand, but I choose to believe it's because of the talent they have on the roster.

Last year in 2017 the Cowboys didn't enjoy the kind of success they wanted to as a team, but they still ended up sending four players to the Pro Bowl. The mainstays of course are Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin, but I really enjoy seeing a first timer make their first appearance. That is exactly what DeMarcus Lawrence accomplished last year.

No one really saw Lawrence as a potential Pro Bowl player before the 2017 season started. In fact, a lot of Dallas Cowboys fans were questioning if he would even make the final 53-man roster. Well, things couldn't have worked out better for #90, because he had a phenomenal season and ended up as one of the best defensive ends the entire league.

Today, I want to take a look at the Dallas Cowboys roster and try to determine who might follow in DeMarcus Lawrence's footsteps and earn their first Pro Bowl bid. You may agree or disagree with me, but I think the Cowboys have six candidates worthy of getting voted into their first Pro Bowl.

LB Jaylon Smith

Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

As things stand right now, no one really knows where the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff will choose to play Jaylon Smith. Personally, I think he should stay at middle linebacker. I know they just drafted Leighton Vander Esch, and he could be the MLB this season, but I liked what I saw from Smith there in 2017.

Even though Smith wasn't 100% last year and it was technically his first year in the NFL, he performed really well, showing flashes of the player he was pre-injury at Notre Dame. I would hate to see the Cowboys move him to the strong side in 2018 after seeing him progress throughout the season last year at MLB.

I personally believe if Smith plays the majority of the snaps at MLB for the Cowboys this season, he has an excellent chance of making his first Pro Bowl. I don't think he would have any problems receiving votes if he finds his name on the ballot. His story alone would get him votes, but now that he's going to be healthier this year, it's his talent that should and probably will stand out

CB Chidobe Awuzie

Chidobe Awuzie

Dallas Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie

After overcoming his unfortunate preseason injuries, Chidobe Awuzie put together a fantastic rookie season for the Dallas Cowboys. There have been rumblings this offseason about moving Awuzie to safety because of the lack of depth at the position, but I don't think anyone on the Cowboys coaching staff has even considered the possibility.

Awuzie has a real shot of making his first Pro Bowl in 2018 if he's able to build upon how we finished last season. He had one of the lowest completion rates among all cornerbacks in the NFL last year and if he would've been able to play a full season, he may earned a Pro Bowl bid a year ago.

I'm actually expecting big things from #24 (he's no longer #33) this year, especially after the hiring of Kris Richard. He has the talent and skill set to become one the best at the position, he just has to put it all together, which I think he'll do.

P Chris Jones

Chris Jones

Dallas Cowboys P Chris Jones (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

It may come to a surprise to you, but Chris Jones was actually one of the better punters in the entire NFL last season in 2017. I really thought he deserved to get voted into the Pro Bowl last year, but unfortunately that isn't the way it turned out.

Jones was one of the best in the league last year at pinning the Dallas Cowboys opponents inside the 20 yard line. That is a tremendous weapon to have and he probably doesn't get the kind of recognition/gratitude he deserves from fans.

If Chris Jones can continue to be consistent like he was last season, I think he will end up making his first Pro Bowl. It's difficult to earn such an honor as a punter because they aren't exactly "known" players, but consistency can help get his name out there and earn him some important votes.

DT David Irving

David Irving, Redskins

Dallas Cowboys DL David Irving

If not for his four-game suspension to start the 2017 season and the fact he missed the last four games of the year with a concussion, David Irving might have joined DeMarcus Lawrence in their first Pro Bowl appearances. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and Irving was left watching from home.

2018 will start exactly like Irving's 2017 season, with a four-game suspension. This doesn't really bode well for his chances to make his first Pro Bowl, but if he rebounds like he did in 2017 after his suspension he could find his name on the ballot sheet when voting opens up.

There is no denying David Irving's talent, but unfortunately he's his own worst enemy. If he can keep his nose clean so to speak upon his return from suspension, he could end up being one of the better interior defensive tackles in the entire NFL when all is said and done.

RT La'el Collins

La'el Collins

Dallas Cowboys RT La'el Collins

I'm not afraid to admit that I wasn't fully on board with the Dallas Cowboys moving La'el Collins from left guard to right tackle last season, but he probably played beyond anyone's expectations. He played so well in fact, I thought he had a good chance of making his first Pro Bowl appearance last season, albeit as an alternate.

With a year of experience under his belt at RT, I'm expecting Collins to be even better. It's not going to be an easy task to accomplish, especially as a right tackle, but I certainly think it's doable.

Collins has one thing going for him that could end up getting him the nod over other NFC tackles, youth. Quite a few of the NFC tackles who have been voted into the Pro Bowl are getting up there in age and no longer the players they once were. This gives Collins an edge, which could result in his first Pro Bowl appearance.

CB Byron Jones

Byron Jones

Dallas Cowboys CB Byron Jones (Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports)

I've been higher on Byron Jones over the years than a lot of Dallas Cowboys fans, but I think this is the year he finally lives up to his first-round draft status and potentially earns his first Pro Bowl bid.

I believe the Cowboys did Jones a disservice playing him at safety these last few seasons instead of his more natural position, cornerback. Luckily, Kris Richard is righting the wrong now that he's the new defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator. I expect this move to pay off big.

I think Byron Jones is going to have a fantastic 2018 season and we finally see the rare athleticism and athletic ability that convinced the Cowboys to draft him in the first-round in 2015 to begin with. We will no longer see him be a little bit overpowered by bigger tight ends he's asked to cover, instead he may take on the bully role.

Will any of these 6 Dallas Cowboys players make their first Pro Bowl?



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.

Game Notes

Cowboys Wishlist: Snap Julio Jones’ Hot Streak

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Wishlist: Snap Julio Jones' Hot Streak

The Dallas Cowboys will try to get their second road win of the season against another inconsistent Atlanta Falcons team. As both try to get back to .500, this game will be filled with interesting matchups and implications. After upsetting the Philadelphia Eagles 27-20 last Sunday, the Cowboys need to get another upset win to keep being relevant in the league this year.

Here's this week's edition of Cowboys Wishlist! I hope you enjoy and I encourage you to let me know what your wishes are in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL!

Wish #1: Stop Julio Jones' 100-Yard Game Streak

With the Atlanta Falcons sitting at 4-5, many have overlooked Wide Receiver Julio Jones' hot streak. In each of his last four games, Jones has accounted for more than 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Totaling 476 yards in his last four games, Jones is ready to face Cowboys' Cornerback Byron Jones.

Byron has certainly been a pleasant surprise in 2018, playing at a great level right now. He has faced Odell Beckham and DeAndre Hopkins this year and made a good job of defending these "Tier 1" pass-catchers. It's worth noting the Cowboys are not making him "travel" with these players but rather keep him on a specific side of the field. That shouldn't change against the Falcons.

Wish #2: Contain WR Calvin Ridley

Back in April, Cowboys Nation eyed Calvin Ridley as a prospect who could end up wearing the Star on Sundays. However, Dallas passed on him and the Alabama product fell right unto the Falcons' lap. He's had a pretty good season and despite sharing the field with Julio Jones, he's done a great job as a rookie averaging 14 yards per reception.

The Cowboys need to contain him. While Dallas should feel comfortable with Byron doing his job, the truth is Chidobe Awuzie has struggled at times. Not that he's suddenly a bad player, but he needs to step up his game. Lining up against Ridley today will be a great test and one I wouldn't expect him to pass easily.

Takeaway Tuesday: CB Awuzie Hasn't Met Expectations in 2018

Wish #3: Score 28+ Points

The Cowboys have the huge advantage of going against a defense that ranks 29th in scoring defense. They did a nice job on Philadelphia last week and should continue to build on that success to do something they haven't done much this year: score a lot of points.

Scott Linehan's unit needs to do a better, more consistent, job. They've shown us they're capable of scoring, but they've also shown us their remarkable ability to seemingly forget how to do so. Blame it on play-calling, QB play, poor offensive line or whatever you prefer, it's a flawed unit.

They need to capitalize versus a poor defense like the Falcons' to find a steady rhythm.

Wish #4: Dak Makes This Falcons' Game a Turning Point

Last year, when Dak Prescott was sacked six times in Atlanta (five times by Adrian Clayborn) something changed for the Cowboys' young quarterback. Missing RB Ezekiel Elliott and LT Tyron Smith that day, Prescott had one of the worse days in his career. It was a turning point for him as a QB and the public eye.

Now he has a chance at redemption. A shot at putting the Cowboys at .500 and reviving playoff hopes, as unlikely as it sounds.

I wish that's the case for the Cowboys young passer in Atlanta. As flawed as he is, I'm a fan of his. The kid leaves it all on the field.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Wishlist: Snap Julio Jones’ Hot Streak" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Dallas Cowboys

Final Thoughts on Cowboys Matchup with the Atlanta Falcons

John Williams

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Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys Offense, Coaches Have a Ways to Go Still

This week, like every week for the rest of the 2018 NFL season, is a must-win game for the Dallas Cowboys. Getting ready to face an Atlanta Falcons team that took the heart and soul of the Cowboys offense in last year's matchup, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys have a lot to prove as they attempt to get back to the .500 mark for the fourth time this season.

It feels like the Philadelphia game was forever ago. Now that it's finally game day, here are some final thoughts on the Cowboys matchup with the Atlanta Falcons.

Amari Cooper Breaks Century Mark

Amari Cooper has proven his worth in his first two games since coming over to the Dallas Cowboys from the Oakland Raiders. He's had 11 catches in the first two weeks and has made an instant rapport with Quarterback Dak Prescott. I believe they take another step forward this week and Amari Cooper goes for 100 yards in just his third game with America's Team.

Cooper had 75 yards against the Eagles and 58 against the Titans. He's trending toward the 100 yard mark. If Prescott and Cooper could have connected on just one of the deep shots they missed on, Cooper goes for 100 last week. This week, Dak and Coop get another weak defense.

The Atlanta Falcons pass defense is one of the worst in the NFL. They have the sixth highest net yards per attempt number in the NFL and the sixth most yards allowed. They've also allowed the fourth most passing touchdowns; 21.

Since the Atlanta Falcons can score and move the ball with their passing attack, the Cowboys will have to throw to win this game.

Can Xavier Su'a Filo Continue to be an X-Factor

The Cowboys offensive line had their best game of the season on the ground on Sunday as they gashed the Philadelphia Eagles -- who were second in rushing heading into the game -- for 171 rushing yards. They did it by going right at the Eagles defense and were most successful when they used Su'a-Filo to get to the next level of the defense.

There's been a lot of talk about whether Su'a-Filo should continue to start when Connor Williams comes back and for me, it depends. Williams has had some problems with the strength that defensive tackles bring on the inside, but he's been getting better too.

If Su'a-Filo and the Cowboys offensive line plays well during this stretch that Williams is healing, then it would be a shock to see the rookie second round pick reinserted into the starting lineup.

Check out this week's film review on Xavier Su'a-Filo.

Dominant Defensive Duo

Jaylon Smith and DeMarcus Lawrence has been exceptional this season. Jaylon Smith looks to be healthy and progressing to be what the NFL thought he would be coming out of college. A transcendant middle linebacker.

DeMarcus Lawrence sack numbers may not be as high as they were this time last season, but he continues to show that he's a dominant player on both pass and rushing downs.

Cowboys Stats & Graphics on Twitter

Cowboys playmaking EPA, now with snap counts! The most efficient playmakers have been Jaylon Smith, DeMarcus Lawrence, Sean Lee, Daniel Ross and Jourdan Lewis. "Playmaking EPA" = total EPA on failed plays forced through sacks, QB hits, turnovers, passes deflected, tackles, etc.

As you can see from our friend Daniel Houston, who manages Cowboys Stats and Graphics on Twitter points out, Smith and Lee have been the best playmakers on the team on a per snap basis. By just about every measure out there, those two have been worthy of Pro Bowl and perhaps All-Pro selections.

Playing for his Life

Chidobe Awuzie has been struggling this season. And that's stating it kindly to the second-year corner back. He's had decent positioning for much of the year, typically being right where he's supposed to be, but he's not making any plays of the football, which is something he was known for coming out of college.

There's something not quite right with his game this season as he's become the focal point for opposing passing attacks and for good reason. He can't stop anyone.

Well, this is the week to turn all of that around. The Dallas Cowboys need him to have a big week this week.

Ailing Interior

As humans, we know that when our interior isn't right, it doesn't matter what else we have going on on the outside, we don't function as well. The same is true for defense. If your interior isn't right, your defense isn't right. The Dallas Cowboys defensive interior is struggling with some health issues.

On the final injury report of the week, Defensive Tackles David Irving and Daniel Ross have already been ruled out,  Antwaun Woods is doubtful, and Maliek Collins is questionable. If for some reason Maliek Collins isn't able to go, then it's probable that the team will go into the game without a functional one-technique defensive tackle. Even with Collins in the lineup, being down Woods and Ross means the Cowboys have to run Collins at 1T and Tyrone Crawford is your primary 3T defensive tackle.

With Crawford having to play inside this week it means a three-man rotation at defensive end of DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, and Dorance Armstrong. They should be alright on the outside, but Crawford is one of their best run defending defensive ends. He's good on the inside, but you want to save him for your passing situations.

Prediction

This is one of those games that I'm having a difficult time getting a read on. The Cowboys haven't been good on the road this season until last week at Philadelphia, one of the more difficult places to play in the NFL. In that game, they finally got their offense clicking through the air and on the ground.

This week looks like an opportunity for the Cowboys to continue to prove themselves offensively against an average to below average opponent.

On the defensive side of the ball, they're going to have their hands full with an Atlanta Falcons offense that is averaging more than 30 points a game at home and has one of the best receivers in the NFL in Julio Jones.

I think this is going to be a close game where both teams get into 20's in point scored and it comes down to who plays better offensively at the end.

My heart leans Cowboys, but my gut leans Falcons. So it should be a 20-20 tie. Really though, I'm going with the...

Cowboys 24-20. 

Who you got?



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Game Notes

Cowboys, Falcons Week 11 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Zack Martin

The Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons are both 4-5 and playing to keep their seasons alive. It's a mutual must-win game, and both will have to try to win it without some key players. Once again, we look at this week's injury reports.

Let's begin with your Cowboys, whose report is getting longer as the season wears on:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • DE Taco Charlton (shoulder) - OUT
  • DT David Irving (ankle) - OUT
  • DT Daniel Ross (calf) - OUT
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - OUT
  • DT Antwaun Woods (concussion) - Doubtful
  • G Zack Martin (knee) - Questionable
  • G Connor Williams (knee) - Questionable
  • DT Maliek Collins (knee) - Questionable
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - Questionable

The biggest news is the guy who won't miss tomorrow's game; All-Pro guard Zack Martin is expected to play despite his knee injury from last Sunday night. The Cowboys, already dealing with Travis Frederick's absence and now health issues at left guard, could ill afford to go without Martin in such a pivotal game.

Even if he was healthy, rookie Connor Williams might have a hard time getting in the game. Backup Xavier Su'a-Filo looked like an experienced former second-round pick last week, and he may be the better player for now.

The defensive line has been hit hard, particularly in the middle. With Irving and Ross out, Woods doubtful, and Collins uncertain, Dallas called up DT Christian Ringo from the practice squad. They will also be without Taco Charlton, who could play inside some. Veteran Caraun Reid will be seeing a lot of playing time.

Sean Lee's ongoing absence has become almost an afterthought now with the stellar play of Leighton Vander Esch. We've seen in the past when missing Lee meant disaster on defense, but Dallas' first-round rookie has helped mitigate the damage.

Atlanta Falcons

  • LB Deion Jones (foot) - OUT

It's a short list for Atlanta, but the one name on it is a big one. Arguably the team's best defensive player, Deion Jones will miss the game with a foot injury.

The Falcons' injury issues have been more in players suffering season-ending injuries. Both starting guards, Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco, are on injured reserve. Star running back Devonta Freeman is also there, and those losses help explain Atlanta's 30th-ranked rushing offense.

Both starting safeties are also on IR; Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal. Atlanta has one of the league's worst passing defense this year without them, ranking 30th in yards allowed and 28th in opponent passer rating.

So yes, the Falcons injury report compared to the Cowboys' may raise some eyebrows. But in terms of who has most of their key guys, Dallas is arguably still better off.



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