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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
Tony Romo Won’t Be the Next Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator
The pipe dream has been going on since former Dallas Cowboys Quarterback-turned CBS Analyst Tony Romo hung up his cleats for the black blazer. Fans from all corners of Cowboys Nation have clamored for a return to the field or at worst the sideline as the Cowboys offensive coordinator.
Let me stop you right there. It's not happening.
First of all. He's never been a coach at any level of football, so to assume that he could leave the broadcast booth and step into coaching an NFL offense and doing so at a high level is a huge leap of faith in number 9. Sure, Jon Gruden left the Monday Night Football booth for his lucrative deal with the Oakland Raiders, but he had won a Super Bowl and had been an offensive coordinator and head coach in the NFL for years before joining the broadcasting ranks.
Tony Romo has an excellent understanding of football. He displays it on a regular basis during the CBS broadcasts. But doing from the broadcast view, seeing what the defense is trying to do, and calling the plays to counter what the defense is trying to do are very different things.
Secondly, the coaching job would be a major time commitment that at the moment he doesn't have. Even if he's working a 40 hour work week in preparation for his three-hour time slot, the demands on NFL coaches are easily twice that with many coaches putting in 100 hour work weeks in preparation for Sundays. Tony Romo has a family that even he's talked about as part of the reason that he went into broadcasting instead of looking to hop on with another NFL team.
Finally, the job would mean a significant pay cut from what Romo is already making. It's estimated that the former Cowboys quarterback is making anywhere from $5-10 million dollars a year with CBS. Jason Garrett is making $6 million per year as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, so even if the Jones family was willing to pay first-time NFL coach Tony Romo a ton of money to come out of the broadcast booth, there's zero chance they pay him what he's making as a broadcaster. To do so, would be to undercut the head coach. Jason Garrett is Jerry Jones' guy. The owner and general manager wants Garrett to be the guy that leads the Cowboys to Super Bowl success, so there's zero chance he'd pay a coordinator close to Garrett's money, which would lead to constant speculation about the head coach and his future with the organization.
I love Tony Romo. His jersey is one of only two Cowboys jerseys that I own -- along with Darren Woodson -- and I think he could make a good coach one day, but I'd be hard pressed to see him come out of the coaching booth to take a coordinator job and have immediate success. The guys that are offensive coordinators in the NFL have been grinding for years to earn their jobs. Most started as position coaches -- see Sean McVay as Redskins TE coach. The Dallas Cowboys will spend the next few days, and perhaps weeks, identifying their replacement for Scott Linehan, but let's put to bed the dream of Romo as offensive coordinator.
It's just not going to happen.
Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick
The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.
Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:
Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh
Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.
Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.
The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.
For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!
Breaking: Scott Linehan and Dallas Cowboys Part Ways
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan have mutually agreed to part ways following a tumultuous season that saw the Dallas Cowboys offense finish outside the top 12 three out of his four seasons in Dallas.
Sources: The #Cowboys are firing OC Scott Linehan. Taking their offense in a new direction. An announcement is coming.
Scott Linehan was brought in prior to the 2015 season and saw his offenses finish 31st, fifth, 14th, and 22nd in his four years as the Cowboys play caller. The 2015 season can be excused as the Cowboys rolled out Kellen Moore, Matt Cassell, and Brandon Weeden for 13 starts after Tony Romo was injured twice during the season, but the team 2-11 in those 13 starts and the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs despite a strong performance on the defensive side of the football.
The Cowboys saw an offense that finished fifth in the NFL in points in 2016 decline each of the last two offseasons and Linehan has been continually criticized by analysts, fans, and players as well.
Many believe that the reason that Dez Bryant and Brice Butler weren't brought back in the offseason was because of the public criticism of the offense and the play caller instilling the offense and that criticism has carried over to this season when Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper acknowledged that the Philadelphia Eagles were sitting on the slant routes that they had run all game. Dak mentioned that he changed Amari's route to a go route, which led to a 75 yard touchdown that helped open up the offense.
Cole Beasley has been frustrated with his role for much of the season and deservedly so. He was often non-existent in the offensive game plan until the final five minutes of football games.
In the running game, the offense had become too predictable and reliant upon jumbo formations that led to Ezekiel Elliott having to run against eight in the box anywhere from 25-30% of the time. For perspective, Todd Gurley only ran against eight-man fronts around eight percent of the time. Scott Linehan never looked to attempt to take players out of the box, instead insisting on motioning more players into the box for the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott to run against. It's amazing when you think about it, that Ezekiel Elliott was able to win the rushing title when facing loaded fronts as often as he did.
This was a move that needed to happen and the Dallas Cowboys didn't need to waste anymore time to make it happen. The offense had become stale and frustrating for the players as well as the fans. While Jason Garrett started the offseason saying he "didn't expect any changes," this was a move that absolutely had to happen for the offense to take a step forward. Below, you can read Jason Garrett's announcement on the move.
Cowboys have fired Scott Linehan
Even after the move for Amari Cooper, the offense looked better, but it still struggled at times to move the football.
The Cowboys have a young team with especially young players on the offensive side of the football. They have a quarterback who can throw from the pocket, but has excellent movement skills and capabilities of throwing the ball on the run. He's an excellent runner on designed runs. Despite us knowing all that, Scott Linehan looked reluctant to use him on designed quarterback runs that weren't read options or speed options. What you saw on designed runs in the Seattle game is what this team should be doing five times a game.
Now the question becomes, who should the Cowboys next offensive coordinator be? Our own, Staff Writer Brian Martin, laid out 5 Options to be the Next Offensive Coordinator earlier this week. I suggest you give it a read.
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