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Breaking Down An Outsider’s View of Cowboys Training Camp

Sean Martin

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Breaking Down An Outsider's View of Cowboys Training Camp 2
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

I've always said that training camp is my absolute favorite time to be doing exactly this -- discussing Dallas Cowboys football. It's a time for fans, writers, coaches, and players to come together with one goal in mind, build the foundation for a successful season while learning more about the roster everyday.

As part of this process, it's important to take a step back from the daily flood of Cowboys updates we're all living in. When other members of the national media make their way to Oxnard to take in a Cowboys practice, taking note of who they think stood out is extremely valuable.

Such was the case for Yahoo reporter Charles Robinson, who had the following to say about his visit to America's Team:

Charles Robinson on Twitter

Couple post-#Cowboys visit thoughts: 1. I absolutely see why Chido is getting his hype. ⭐️ 2. No idea what kind of weight it is, but Randy Gregory is noticeably thicker. 3. Jaylon is 100%. We can stop asking. 4. I bet all three Dallas QBs will be in the #NFL 8+ years.

1. Chidobe Awuzie in Kris Richard's secondary

This truly is a match made in heaven. When the Cowboys added Kris Richard to captain their young and upcoming secondary, visions of the Seahawks "Legion of Boom" defense had Cowboys Nation fired up. Equally as fired up is Richard, a spirited coach who's liked what he's seen from Awuzie.

Putting an emphasis on length at cornerback, Chidobe Awuzie is in position to benefit the most from Richard's presence.

Playing with toughness on the boundary is Awuzie's strength, fighting through injuries as a rookie to close the season on a high note. His instincts on the ball and never-back-down attitude put him well ahead of most second round picks.

Across from Awuzie, Byron Jones is also coming along nicely in his transition back to CB. Both similar players physically, the Cowboys secondary shouldn't surprise anyone with their level of success in 2018. This is a deep and talented unit being coached by one of the best in the game.

Breaking Down An Outsider's View of Cowboys Training Camp

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory, HC Jason Garrett (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

2. Randy Gregory's weight

In their opening press conference, the Cowboys brass fielded plenty of questions about Randy Gregory. The feel-good story of this training camp, Jason Garrett said Gregory reported at 242 pounds.

At the 2016 Scouting Combine, Gregory weighed in at 235 pounds. Both numbers are abnormally low for defensive ends, but so too are the speed and bend traits that Gregory possesses.

It's no secret the Cowboys have been missing a pass rusher like Gregory in his extended absence. In no rush to play him at full speed, the Cowboys know what they might have in a focused Randy, and it changes the entire complexion of Dallas' defensive line.

Simply being in shape is a huge first step for Gregory to begin working with Rod Marinelli and the Cowboys soon.

3. Jaylon Smith coming into his own

If Gregory is the Cowboys top feel-good story coming out of Oxnard, Jaylon Smith is 1A. By all reports, including this one from a reporter that hasn't been around for every step of Smith's rehab, he looks like the player he was out of Notre Dame.

As if a reminder was needed, that player would have been a top ten pick in the draft. The Cowboys would be deciding between Ezekiel Elliott and Jaylon. Coming away with both players is looking better and better by the day for the Cowboys.

Elliott will of course be this team's starter in the backfield, needing to carry a significant load on offense. On defense, the same may be said about Smith, as he helps the Cowboys revamp their linebacker corps.

The Cowboys can ease rookie Leighton Vander Esch into play at the NFL level thanks to Smith's awe-inspiring consistency so far in camp. Smith has yet to take many snaps alongside Sean Lee, but this is the plan for the Cowboys to start the season with an intimidating front seven.

Breaking Down An Outsider's View of Cowboys Training Camp 1

Dallas Cowboys QB Cooper Rush (Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)

4. Crowded QB Room?

The Cowboys depth chart at quarterback features Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush, Mike White, and Dalton Sturm. It's safe to assume Robinson is referring only to Prescott, Rush, and White in his tweet.

The competition to backup Prescott between second-year UDFA QB Cooper Rush and rookie Mike White is likely to have implications on the entire Cowboys roster. With enough arm talent and poise to close the gap quickly on Rush, whose only advantage may be a year of experience in an evolving Cowboys offense, White playing his way onto the roster is a reality the Cowboys must prepare for.

If Robinson, working with such a small sample size, sees three quarterbacks that will play for over eight years, the Cowboys likely see at least three that will play 2018.

The need to make a trade or signing elsewhere could quickly change this QB depth. For now, the Cowboys should feel pretty good about what's behind Prescott.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Evaluating training camp is all about keeping the bigger picture in mind. Finding the 53 players that deserve to wear the star doesn't happen in a few days worth of padded practices. Players that are standing out now must continue to impress, and those that have yet to flash could well be on the way.

Coming in with an objective look at the team, Charles Robinson's immediate reactions out of Cowboys camp are all things the media around the team everyday have been hitting on. This is a great sign considering how important Awuzie, Smith, Gregory, and Prescott will be for Dallas in 2018 and beyond.

Tell us what you think about "Breaking Down An Outsider’s View of Cowboys Training Camp" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches
Smiley N. Pool / The Dallas Morning News

Lamentablemente, la temporada 2018 de los Dallas Cowboys ha llegado a su fin. Lo hizo cuando el equipo visitó Los Angeles para intentar sorprender a los Rams en su propio campo en la Ronda Divisional de los playoffs. Ni siquiera con una invasión exitosa de la afición de Dallas pudieron ganarse un pase al Campeonato de Conferencia. En vez de eso, los Cowboys estarán viendo desde casa y la afición estará preguntándose: ¿qué sigue para los Dallas Cowboys?

Parece ya una tradición anual que no podemos dejar pasar. Este momento en el que comenzamos a cuestionar, una vez más, que entrenador es digno de quedarse en la franquicia y cual debe irse. En esta edición de "Cowboys en Español," hablaremos específicamente de los tres principales coaches en el equipo.

Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli Should Be On The Hot Seat

Coordinador Defensivo Rod Marinelli

El futuro del coordinador defensivo de los Dallas Cowboys no se puede tratar sin mencionar a Kris Richard. Fue la defensiva la que llevó al equipo hasta la postemporada y fue la unidad que cargó al equipo en muchas de sus victorias. Incluso con la llegada de Amari Cooper a Dallas, la defensiva fue siempre el pilar de la franquicia esta temporada.

Jaylon Smith y Leighton Vander Esch sorprendentemente se perfilaron como uno de los mejores duos de linebackers en toda la liga, la línea defensiva fue muy exitosa con Randy Gregory y DeMarcus Lawrence en los extremos y con la grata sorpresa que fue Antwaun Woods en el centro. La secundaria vio la mejor temporada en la controversial carrera de Byron Jones e hizo un excelente trabajo con un talento decente, pero no genial.

Todo esto, y el haber terminado como la sexta mejor defensiva en puntos permitidos (20.2) y la quinta mejor contra la corrida (94.6), hace a Rod Marinelli merecedor de una ronda de aplausos. Sin embargo, Richard probablemente merezca más aplausos.

Fue Richard quien revolucionó la defensiva de los Cowboys y la convirtió en un grupo mucho más agresivo. Fue él quien implementó jugadas de "blitz" en el equipo (algo no común con Marinelli) y quien en un punto de la temporada, comenzó a seleccionar las jugadas desde la banda.

En esta posición, me parece que los Dallas Cowboys tienen que enfrentar la dura decisión de decirle a Marinelli que es tiempo de dejarle el puesto a Kris Richard. Si bien no se llevó un trabajo de head coach, es muy probable que le llovieran ofertas a Richard si no se hace con el título de coordinador defensivo en Dallas.

Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New "Wrinkles" in Cowboys Offense

Dallas Cowboys OC Scott Linehan (Tim Heitman / USA TODAY Sports)

Coordinador Ofensivo Scott Linehan

Con un equipo tan polémico como este, la afición de Dallas no concuerda en muchas cosas. Sin embargo, lo hacen al hablar del pésimo trabajo que Scott Linehan ha realizado mandando las jugadas en ofensiva. Realmente ha sido doloroso de ver y es en mi opinión, el mayor problema que tiene el equipo actualmente.

Semana tras semana, fuimos testigos de pésimas decisiones en la ofensiva de los Cowboys. Vimos como el equipo se aferraba a llenar la caja de defensivos antes de correr el balón con Ezekiel Elliott. Vimos incontables pases pantalla en tercera oportunidad y largo. Pero no solo es lo que vimos, sino lo que no vimos.

A pesar de la innegable habilidad para correr el balón de Dak Prescott, Linehan se rehusó a explotar esta versatilidad de su QB. Vimos pocos "QB sneaks," jugada donde el mariscal toma el balón bajo centro y consigue poco yardage detrás del empuje de su línea ofensiva.

Siendo honestos, los Cowboys llevan dos años sufriendo por este coordinador. Dejarlo volver en el 2019 sería una decisión ridícula. Los comentarios en la radio de Jason Garrett no lucen prometedores, pero realmente sería una sorpresa que fueran ciertos. Linehan no debe volver... punto.

Jerry Jones Delivers Vote of Confidence in "Real Deal" Jason Garrett

Head Coach Jason Garrett

El futuro en esta posición será muy debatido durante los próximos meses, pero de los tres que hemos mencionado es sin lugar a dudas el más seguro de todos. Nos guste o no, Jason Garrett estará al frente del equipo la próxima temporada.

Garrett está lejos de ser un gran coach y aún le hace falta demostrar que puede cumplir las aspiraciones de los Cowboys de traer un sexto Trofeo Lombardi a casa. Pero siendo honesto, este equipo debería tener suficiente con Garrett y un par de buenos coordinadores. ¿El problema? No hay un par de buenos coordinadores en el equipo.

Sin embargo, Garrett ha demostrado que cuenta con el amor y apoyo de sus jugadores. Ha demostrado que efectivamente, puede ganar la división (lo ha hecho en tres de los últimos cinco años). Este año el equipo le dio la vuelta a la temporada después de comenzar 3-5.

Lo más preocupante en mi opinión, es la falta de urgencia para despedir a Linehan, por ejemplo. Quizá a puerta cerrada Garrett quiere un cambio en su staff, pero nunca lo sabremos.

Jason Garrett no es un coach excelente, pero podría ser suficiente para llevar a los Cowboys a un Super Bowl si tiene un equipo adecuado. Todo parece indicar que su trabajo está seguro (incluso más de lo que pensamos) así que es tiempo de esperar que se arreglen sus coordinadores.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches" 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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Star Blog

2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch

Kevin Brady

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Leighton Vander Esch Lands on List of NFL's Top 10 Rookies

As the first round draft pick of America's Team, any player would be under a ton of pressure from all angles. Whether it's from the fans on the outside or the organization on the inside, the expectations around being a first round pick for the Cowboys are immense. But the pressure placed upon linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, from the second he was announced as the 19th overall draft pick, was second to none.

It felt like Cowboys Nation let out a collective groan when Vander Esch was taken, with fans hoping for a more glamorous first round selection. Someone like wide receiver Calvin Ridley or edge rusher Harold Landry would've done the trick, but after Vander Esch's rookie season it's hard to imagine either of those players would have had the impact Vander Esch did in 2018.

Though he didn't start a game until week 4, and didn't become the unquestioned full-time starting WILL until week 10, Vander Esch earned Pro Bowl honors for his rookie season. Tallying 140 total tackles and 2 interceptions, Vander Esch made his presence felt week in and week out.

No counting stats can fully measure Leighton Vander Esch's impact as a rookie, however.

Prior to the 2018 season, the Cowboys defensive success often came down to the health of Sean Lee. When available and playing at his best, Lee led an overachieving Cowboys defense to solid performances each week. But, when Lee went out (as he often did), the entire Cowboys defense seemed to fall apart.5 Studs and Duds From the Dallas Cowboys 2018 Season

This year, though, that all changed. When Sean Lee was out with injury the Cowboys defense got better. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith became a versatile, hard hitting tandem the NFL immediately feared, and helped to direct the Cowboys defense to signature wins throughout the 2018 season.

There are arguments against taking any off-ball linebacker in the first round, as the value of the position has been questioned due to the new style of offense in the NFL. Nowadays linebackers are relegated to two-down players, taken off the field in favor of faster defensive backs on critical passing downs.

Leighton Vander Esch is athletic enough to be both an old school run stopper, but also a three down linebacker in today's fast paced NFL.

Despite the doubts which surrounded the pick, the Cowboys absolutely nailed their first round selection in 2018. And Leighton Vander Esch made Dallas' front office look like geniuses each and every Sunday.



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Star Blog

What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?

Kevin Brady

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.

Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.

They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?

Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.

Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.

Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.

Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.

Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.

This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.

The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.



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