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Are The Titans Really Who They Think They Are? I Don’t Think So

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Last week, as I looked into my crystal ball, it told me to expect the worse against the Raiders and it was pretty accurate.  This week, my crystal ball is telling me to look for marked improvement, and not just because the starters will be playing the majority of the game; though that is a part of it.

The other part, and I realize I'm setting myself up for some serious mud slinging in my direction, I really don't think the Titans are as good as everyone seems to think.  Granted, it's just the preseason, and given the likely vanilla approach to play calling, the Cowboys very well may lose, as far as the scoreboard is concerned.  When I say the Cowboys should do better tonight, I'm not talking about the final score.  I'm talking about the match ups; the individual battles like Martellus Bennett and Jason Witten against their Safeties who give up quite a bit in height both being 6'0" and LB's who likely give up quite a bit in speed.  The Titans on their DL will be short Albert Haynesworth and did little to refortify that position against a team who has four running backs all capable of running it between the tackles effectively (I include Keon Lattimore in this assessment based off of his performance last week).  Cortland Finnegan received quite a bit of praise for his 5 picks last year, but if Romo is insync with Roy Williams, Roy's 6'3" height should create some serious issues for 5'10" Cortland.

In other words, if the Cowboys play their game, the Titans shouldn't get too many opportunities to field punts.  You heard me right:  If the Cowboys actually wanted to win the 1st half, I honestly believe the Titans would not be able to stop the Cowboys from, at least, getting a field goal on every opportunity the Cowboys offense has with the ball.  And you may have noticed I said in an earlier post that the Titans identity was established through defense in 08; but then I looked at their competition, and I got a better idea of how their success story came about in 2008.

The Titans placed 27th in the league in passing and placed 7th in the league in rushing.  Where is the Titans offensive identity?  The run game.   How did their opposition fair as whole a in both aspects of the game?  See the below table.

 

[table id=8 /]

 

[table id=9 /]



The first thing that stands out is that the Titans only beat 5 teams with winning records.  The next thing that stands out is the Titans strengths versus their oppositions weaknesses.  For instance, when looking at the 5 wins against opponents that had winning records only (highlighted in blue), since the other 8 wins where games the Titans should have won, note how they ranked in the league and compare to where the Titans ranked.  Also consider the point margins that they won by, which is also important.  From these numbers I'll let you draw your own conclusion, but in my opinion, the Titans are not the complete package that they are being touted as (because truthfully I just don't have the time to spell it out).

They are a run first team, which may give the Cowboys trouble, but passing the ball might be pretty difficult against the Cowboys with the secondary at full strength tonight.  On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys are strong at rushing and passing.  But since the Titans in 08 rarely faced teams that were good at doing both, I am predicting they will find it much more difficult to identify what the Cowboys are going to do presnap.  This should play heavily in the Cowboys favor.  If this was a regular season game, I'd predict an upset by a large margin in the Cowboys favor 35 - 13.  But since it a preseason game and the Cowboys primary weakness is depth, I'll say the Cowboys will put up some serious points of about 24, limiting the Titans to 9, but likely will lose ground in the 2nd half putting up maybe 6 more points and giving up 17 for a final score of Cowboys 30 Titans 26.


I am 35, married and a father of 2 boys. I have been a Cowboys fan since Jimmy Johnson took over; not because I had anything against Tom Landry, but because it just so happens I was old enough to start following and understanding football right as that new era began. Since then, I haven't missed games if I could help it.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys DE Dorance Armstrong Could Be Needed Quickly

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys DE Dorance Armstrong Could Be Needed Quickly

The Dallas Cowboys are stronger at defensive end than they've been in some time, but they still lack a specific type of pass rusher. Rookie Dorance Armstrong may be able to fill that role, giving him an early opportunity to contribute that many mid-round rookies can't find.

While DeMarcus Lawrence has become a beast and Taco Charlton is expected to do more as a second-year player, they are both better suited to play on the left side. It is that right side DE, the athletic type who can take on NFL left tackle, that the Cowboys haven't had since DeMarcus Ware left.

It was supposed to be Randy Gregory, but we all know the issues he's dealt with the last three years. His reinstatement request to the league is expected to go through, but even then we can't be sure the type of player he will be.

If Gregory isn't still the talent that Dallas hoped for in 2015, the next man up just might be Armstrong. He is a raw talent, still undersized for consistent NFL defensive end work, but he has the natural agility and style of play that best suits the weak-side rusher.

Sean's Scout: Defensive End Dorance Armstrong Has Upside to Fill Marinelli's Rotation

Dallas Cowboys DE Dorance Armstrong

Veteran Kony Ealy is more like Lawrence and Charlton, bigger and more suited from the strong side. Another option, Charles Tapper, has yet to prove he can get through a single game without injury.

Rookies have not had a hard time finding early work in Dallas lately.

Obviously, it didn't take Quarterback Dak Prescott long to make an immediate impact. We've also seen the same from Cornerbacks Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown, Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins, and Safety Xavier Woods.

With the difficulties that guys like Gregory and Tapper may have getting back into football shape, Armstrong could have a leg up in training camp. The Cowboys won't hesitate to give him the work if he's the best man for the job, regardless of draft status or tenure.

These new look, new era Dallas Cowboys are all about meritocracy, so Dorance Armstrong could rise quickly if he performs. It would make for a nice immediate return on a fourth-round pick.


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Dallas Cowboys

CB Jourdan Lewis Addresses “All Or Nothing” Scene With Dez Bryant

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Rookie CB Jourdan Lewis Announces Signing With Dallas 1
Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

When the newest season of Amazon's All or Nothing featuring the Dallas Cowboys came out, people immediately were drawn to one scene in particular.

That scene featured then veteran Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant and rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis, as they battled it out all day in practice. Lewis and Bryant were in each others ears, as Lewis wanted to make it known to Bryant that he isn't the same type of corner he's used to seeing in practice.

Jourdan Lewis was asked to give his side of the story recently, and DallasCowboys.com recorded his response. The following video is courtesy of "Ed It Channel" on YouTube.

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Lewis addressed rumors that the rivalry was "fake" or staged due to the fact that Bryant knew that Lewis was mic'ed up. He says that the competition was organic, and that when put on the field with each other their competition improved both of their play.

Dez Bryant is gone now, but hopefully the Cowboys will be able to replace that competitiveness on the practice field and allow for tempers to flare from time to time.


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Player News

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott Embraces Lack of No. 1 Wide Receiver

Sean Martin

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Cowboys QB Dak Prescott Embraces Lack of No. 1 Wide Receiver

As I wrote exactly a week ago, in discussion of maligned Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Terrance Williams:

"...this won't be the first look we have at the status of the Cowboys receivers. I'm already on record having high expectations for Michael Gallup, and believe Cedrick Wilson was one of the steals of the draft for the Cowboys in the sixth round. The unproven nature of this pass catching unit (through to TE with rookie Dalton Schultz) is going to make for fascinating training camp battles, competing for spots in an offense that could still be one of the league's best".

Here we are again, with an emerging leadership voice of the Cowboys speaking about his wide receivers. Dak Prescott told Pro Football Talk that he, "doesn't know if any team in the league necessarily needs a No. 1 receiver".

This is a bold statement from a third-year quarterback that's already told Cowboys Nation this offseason that he wants to be the best to ever play for the franchise. Beginning the journey towards becoming a Cowboys legend must start with Prescott securing his status as the Cowboys franchise QB in 2018 - by throwing to Williams, Michael Gallup, Cole Beasley, Cedrick Wilson, and Allen Hurns.

This will be no easy task for Prescott, but the Cowboys have never wavered in their commitment to building this team around him. Left with no choice on personnel decisions like Jason Witten's retirement, the Cowboys are well-prepared to also deal with the loss of Dez Bryant.

If they weren't, Bryant would still be in Dallas, and as it stands now he remains a free agent. New to the Cowboys offense is not only Gallup, Wilson, and Hurns but also Tavon Austin as a pass-catching running back.

Strength in numbers must be the message for the Cowboys offense this season. Relying heavily on Ezekiel Elliott and a punishing offensive line will be what keeps opposing defensive coordinators up at night, but so too must be the diverse nature of how the Cowboys can line up on the outside.

Allowing Prescott to serve as a "point guard" like QB could lead to the Cowboys turning plenty of heads with their all-around play in 2018. Anybody writing them off simply because of unproven wide receivers lacks a complete understanding of the roster and how Scott Linehan plans to change his offense.

Sure, it's possible that Linehan fails to prove himself as a play caller worthy of the talent the Cowboys possess on offense - but the talent is there. In Prescott's rookie year, Cole Beasley emerged as his go-to receiver, only to regress in 2017.

With the Cowboys shipping Ryan Switzer to Oakland during the draft, Beasley has a clear path back towards developing this chemistry with Prescott out of the slot. The same should go for Allen Hurns, despite arriving in Dallas as a free agent this year.

Hurns has talked about holding himself to a high standard, despite joining the Cowboys to play with Dez Bryant initially.

"I felt it was a big opportunity to come to Dallas to play with Dez. But with him not being here, it’s a bigger opportunity. It's a matter of me making the most of the opportunity"

Plenty of Cowboys receivers will have a chance to make the most of the opportunity to play in this offense. Hurns' spot as an outside starter feels safe, as he could be the big "No. 1" target Prescott needs to either find in the red zone or distribute the ball elsewhere.

The amount of change the Dallas Cowboys have gone through since drafting Dak Prescott is a cruel reminder of how difficult reaching the pinnacle of sports can be. The Cowboys biggest challenge to reach the playoffs again in 2018?

Silence the doubt that a declining Dez Bryant no longer being with the team will derail the efforts of this deep and eager-to-compete WRs room.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys QB Dak Prescott Embraces Lack of No. 1 Wide Receiver" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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