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Is Byron Jones A Victim Of Poor Coaching?

Brian Martin

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Byron Jones saw a decrease in playing time last week against the Washington Redskins after the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff decided to shake things up in their secondary. I know a lot of you would say that it's about time, but I would have to disagree.

A lot of Cowboys Nation have been calling for the demotion of Byron Jones for a long time now. I don't know how many times I've seen or read that the Cowboys 2015 first-round draft pick is a bust and doesn't deserve to be starting. This is something I would disagree with 100% and I'll tell you why.

I personally believe that Byron Jones has the talent to become a Pro Bowl player, but the coaching staff for the Dallas Cowboys have done him a disservice. I would even go as far as saying that he has become a victim of poor coaching.

I don't know about you, but I was really excited when the Dallas Cowboys drafted Byron Jones in the 2015 NFL Draft with their first-round selection. I believed Jones had the talent and athleticism to come in and become an immediate starter. Unfortunately, the coaching staff failed to utilize his skill set properly and have continued to do so.

DB Byron Jones

(Ashley Landis/The Dallas Morning News)

The problem started from the get-go. The Dallas Cowboys didn't have Jones focus on one position as a rookie, instead experimented with him at nearly every position in the secondary. In 2015 as a rookie, Byron Jones played cornerback, safety, and a little dime linebacker. He played well considering everything he had his plate, which left Cowboys fans wanting more.

In 2016, the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff decided to move Jones to free safety as the full-time starter next to Barry Church. Even though this was probably the right move at the time, the coaching staff still probably wasn't playing to his strengths.

The Cowboys had Byron Jones play a lot of man-to-man against tight ends in 2016 instead of taking advantage of his range and athleticism as a deep safety. That is really Jones' best trait as a defensive back, but we still haven't seen him in that role.

That brings us to the present where Byron Jones just saw a decrease in playing time. And unfortunately, this season the Cowboys coaching staff are asking #31 to take over the strong safety role previously held down by Barry Church.

Byron JonesThis is possibly the worst thing they could have done to Byron Jones. He is at his best when he is in coverage where he can use his rare athleticism to his advantage. As a strong safety, the Cowboys are asking him to play around on a scrimmage more and be a physical player, arguably his worst trait.

That is why we have seen Kavon Frazier receive more playing time at Byron Jones' expense. Frazier's biggest strength is his physicality. He is basically another linebacker when on the field.

For Byron Jones to finally live up to his draft status, the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff is going to have to use him correctly. They either need to move him back to cornerback full-time or make him a single high safety where he can use his range and athleticism. Until then, he will likely continue to be the whipping boy for the majority of Cowboys fans.

Do you think Byron Jones is a victim of poor coaching?



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.

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49 Comments
  • ed Frank

    I have been saying the same thing since the end of last season. Jones is well suited to play CB. He had the size and athleticism to match up against the taller WR in the league. In a division that has Marshall, Jeffries and Doctson this is a very good thing.
    I also believe they have three guys who have the natural ability to excel at saftey in Awuzie, Woods and Frazier. Frazier would be a good nickel SS and dime package LB. Woods FS and Awuzie SS. Jones and Lewis CB. Move Lewis to the slot in nickel and dime packages and Awuzie to CB.
    I think that unlike Jones, Chidobe would not suffer with the position flex.

    • Brian Martin

      I would agree with you for the most part, but I think I would keep Awuzie at CB. I like him and Jones as the Cowboys outside CBs with Lewis in the slot. That gives you two boundary corners with size and athleticism.

    • Mike C

      You dont move awuzie, you trying to do him like byron? Anyway awuzie is a better corner. Right now jones would be our slot corner or have him compete with lewis. We need a true FS our SS this upcoming draft along with a big DT, and either start butler with dez or draft a speedy receiver. They mishandled byron though byron and awuzie would be a great tandem but that ship has sailed.

      • Brian Martin

        Mike, I don’t think the Cowboys are done evaluating the secondary. I think moving Byron Jones back to CB is a real possibility. It might not be this season, but I think it’s something that will definitely look at in the off-season. And I think they need to draft another safety and receiver. Butler is gone after the season for sure.

        • Michael Barthel

          I think they should move Jones to corner cuz then you would have awuzie Lewis Jones brown and call up white next year. Young but very good corner group. Then have Frazier and woods at safety. Then either draft or sign a safety in free agency i.e Kenny Vacarro. Then you don’t have to go into the draft wasting a pick on corner unless he is absolutely worth taking and can’t pass on him bpa kind of thing. You can then focus on the real needs. Awuzie Lewis and Jones corner. Woods Frazier safety. Brown and white can rotate in. If we lose any of these next 2 or 3 games I would bring Marquez white up and see what he can do cuz if the boy can ball out at this level you could have white Lewis awuzie and brown as your 4 corners

  • oneputter

    absolutely not! jones is a bust no other way to say it. he cannot cover TE’s, he is consistently beat by the biggest and slowest of TE’s. just watch any game and he is usually the one hanging onto the TE’s waist while the TE end catches a TD pass…..

    fundamentally he’s not there. you can see it the poor angles he always takes, you can see it how he tackles, you can see it when he covers. he is not a physical player, he does not bring the punch to the opponent he sits back and waits for the runner to come to him.

    everyone talks about moving him to corner, he can’t cover TE’s how can we expect him to cover crowder, jeffery, beckham, marshall or any of the wr’s in this league. there is a reason this staff hasn’t played him at corner when we’ve been in need of corners.

    i would move on from him, we have our corners and we should go after one of the ‘bama safeties in the draft.

    • Brian Martin

      I knew there would be at least one person who would disagree with me. I however believe Byron Jones has done pretty well considering how the coaching staff have used him. I think he would be much better at CB, but that’s something we might not be able to determine here in Dallas. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he signs somewhere else and excels.

      • oneputter

        he’s made a few plays on occasion, he’s has not played to his first round status. i just don’t see that he has the ability to cover.

        • Brian Martin

          I just think it’s really hard to tell what kind of player we have in Byron Jones because the Cowboys have moved him around so much. He hasn’t been able to play one position since being drafted. I think if he was able to focus on CB, we would see that athletic ability take over. But, that probably won’t happen unless we get a new defensive coordinator.

          • Michael Barthel

            Like I said before I wanted Landon Collins who went 6 picks after Jones. Jones would be a good corner and that’s where he should be. Awuzie Jones and Lewis at corner. Woods and Frazier safety. Draft a safety and corner. Sign a safety and corner. Let competition play out. I want to see Marquez white

          • Brian Martin

            I was torn between Landon Collins and Byron Jones. I was going to be happy with whichever one of them they decided to draft. I actually liked Jones better because of his versatility, but the coaching staff have failed to use him correctly. I think a new defensive coordinator would do wonders for not only Byron Jones, but the entire defense. And yes, I think they need to draft a safety, maybe another corner.

          • pdstix78

            I don’t see how Meltdown Marinelli’s gotten off the hook the past few years. Beginning with the game against Peyton in ‘13, 26-7 against GB minus #12, a few blowouts then and in 2015, dropping the ball against GB in the playoffs last year, getting blown out multiple times this year. Any other DC would have been GONE by now

          • Michael Barthel

            Yeah but have you seen Collins versatility. Dude had 5 sacks and I want to say 5 picks last year. Dude can play all over the secondary except maybe not corner. I really wanted Collins

          • pdstix78

            You want to see Marquez like I wanna see Noah Brown….

          • Michael Barthel

            Yeah got nothing to lose by putting a combo of dez brown and Beasley on the field together. I like Noah Brown but my college team in Florida State so I watched alot of Marquez White dude only allowed 2 tds in his 2 seasons starting

        • pdstix78

          He’s only played a handful of snaps @ corner. If somebody had sense to say, “OK, you’re our man on the outside” he’d be fine. Question: What have the other corners shown besides getting flagged multiple times a game and the inability to track the football???

      • pdstix78

        I’m glad SOMEONE see the light. I absolutely agree the coaching staff has done him a disservice in having him out of position, especially when the pressing need when he was drafted was CB. And to have him to line up in the box?!?! Marinelli needs to be slapped with the clipboard

    • John McClain

      Actually Byron Jones was actually able to cover Gronk one on one so personally I agree Jones as a free safety with strong safety being Woods and/or Frazier. CB Awuzie Lewis Brown and Scandrick as the 4th corner. These kids will all grow to make the defense be a strength

      • Brian Martin

        Byron Jones has done a good job covering TEs in one-on-one situations. I think fans are down on him because he doesn’t create a lot of turnovers.

    • pdstix78

      I’m sure they’ll see results with him @ corner…..

  • Jose Jacobo

    Byron can’t tackle horrible looks like he is scared to hit. Has made plays but also gives up plays hes ok

    • Brian Martin

      He’s never been a very physical player, which is why I find it strange the Cowboys moved him to safety. If they would’ve played him as a deep safety where they could utilize his range and athletic ability, that would’ve been okay. But, they are asking him to play more strong safety this season. I think he would be best at CB. He is more than physical enough to play there.

      • pdstix78

        It’s almost like asking Deion to play safety….

  • D Reyes

    The problem in your analysis is that Byron has no range to be a single high safety even Heath does that better and he cant cover. He does not excel as a cb and actually plays better at safety. He was always considered to be a mid round pick because of his inability to cover with his back against the ball. Watch any of his college tape. Everyone fell in love with his athleticism and that is why he was a late 1st round pick nothing more.

    • Brian Martin

      I personally had emigrated as a late 1st/early 2nd round draft pick in 2015. So, he was selected about where I thought it would be. I don’t think Jeff Heath is better in coverage, so I would have to disagree with you. I think a new coaching staff for no how to utilize his skill set better instead of having him play a position that doesn’t suit him.

  • Hoosiers86

    I think Byron Jones is a good player, and can play many positions. However, I do not think he should be starting. I think Awuzie and Lewis at CB’s, and use Scandrick in the slot. Frazier, Woods, and Heath can be the FS,SS. Jones can be the guy that fills in for injury. Maybe he has played out of position, but he clearly has not looked like he has earned any of the spots on a permanent basis. Being a great athelete does not make you a good football player.

    • Brian Martin

      I think Byron Jones has looked bad because of how the coaching staff has used him. He’s been playing out of position pretty much since he arrived in Dallas. I would personally have Jones and Awuzie starting at the outside CB positions with Lewis in the slot.

      • Hoosiers86

        Jones plays too slow to be a starting corner. He may run fast in a drill, but he is not football fast. Just my eyes, and I respect your opinion.

        • Brian Martin

          That could be true. It’s really hard to judge his play because he’s playing out of position.

  • Rodney Lawhon

    Its not always where they want you to play it’s where you the player plays at his best position ! Other coaches aren’t always right they mistakes too, but they would remember play the player where he plays best, move him around if necessary but make sure he has mastered his first position. Now the rookies, vets. came together as a team last game they should be able to win! they know what it takes now its one game at a time don’t be caught looking ahead loose your focus. Old Cowboy’s fan !!!!

    • Brian Martin

      Rodney, you’re exactly right. The coaching staff has been using Byron Jones where they need him instead of the position he might play best. Hopefully they continue to shake things up the secondary in order to find the best starting unit though.

  • Daniel Burney

    all the athleticism and range in the world doesnt make you a CB! if its obvious that he cant cover, then safety is the position for him we dont need cb’s that tackle 2 yards past the 1st down stick, or in the endzone! we need cb’s that can keep receivers from catching the ball!

    • Brian Martin

      Daniel, I don’t think I’ve seen so many exclamation points used in one comment before LOL. I’m going to disagree with you though. We really haven’t seen Byron Jones play much CB since joining the Cowboys. I believe he would thrive there given the chance to focus on playing one position.

    • David Moore

      Respect your opinion but strongly disagree. BJ has the ability to cover and do it a a very high level. Last year when we were down couple of corners he moved in the slot position to cover bolden for the tigers and was very successful. Fast forward to this season larry Fitzgerald torched us in the first half being guarded by scandrick. In the second half BJ played the slot against Fitz and again
      All but shut him down. He can play the position. Also I might add better than brown or lewis at this point. I do not trust this coaching staff. Remember this is the same coating staff that said jalen Ramsey is not,a corner in this,league but a,safety and now we see he has already become the best young corner and a top 5 corner in this league in my opinion. So I say try him at the other corner opposite chido and let him play.

      • Brian Martin

        Very well said David. The coaching staff are playing several players out of position. Byron Jones is just one example.

        • Michael Barthel

          I love Ezekiel Elliott he is probably the best back in this league with Johnson and bell but I wanted jalen Ramsey and we could of gotten Jordan Howard in the 4th or 5th round. Or Dallas could of taken a running back when we really needed one the year David Johnson and David Cobb and them guys but we said nope let’s run with Randle and McFadden. If we would of just taken one that year and taken Ramsey we would have one of the best corners in the league and wether it was David Johnson or Howard we would still have a formidable duo there. Just think a secondary with Jones Ramsey scandrick awuzie and Lewis.

  • Chimmy Changa

    Hi Brian. I say forget all these minor issues and start focusing on when a transgender will be a DC cheerleader. 8)

    • Brian Martin

      For all I know, it could’ve already happened. You never know nowadays.

      • Chimmy Changa

        Let’s hope not.

      • Chimmy Changa

        Also, if the official website of the DC’s could find a way to get Taylor off of any speaking roles, that would be wonderful.

  • http://www.dallascowboyschat.com Cowboysdude

    That entire team is product of bad coaching……They have NO ability to develop players and in the last 7 years the “HC” has wasted one good team on his way to wasting his second. YET the owner is as blind as a bat.

    • Brian Martin

      I can’t disagree with that. I’m hoping Stephen Jones is starting to take over a little bit more, but I don’t know if he will be any better than JJ.

      • Michael Barthel

        He is the reason we have gotten out of cap issues. He also the reason we have the best guard in football and not a wasted first round qb that was a huge bust

  • Roger Johnson

    You guys can go on and on about where this player and that player will excel. That is what we do as fans. However, it’s just our opinion, and we don’t have to be right. Our coaching staff has to get it right!

    Unfortunately, our coaching staff and ownership in my opinion aren’t very good at what they do. Don’t take my word for it, just look at the body of work. Garrett up until this point has only won more than 8 games twice. He should have been fired. Marenelli coached a team to an 0-16 record. Neither coach, especially Garrett is any good at making adjustments. Both Garrett and Marenelli are stubborn to a fault.

    The two seasons that Garrett won more than 8 games, is when everything was perfect for us. Whenever things don’t go our way, and he has to put on his coaching hat….forget about it! The reason why we can’t achieve back to back winning seasons is this organization doesn’t think that the team has to get better every year at “ALL ” positions! This coaching staff will never get us to the next level in my opinion. And as long as Marenelli is Def coordinator, this is what we will get every year. No matter who is in the secondary.

    Until this coaching staff is gone! You will never get the best out of any player on our defense. Just one fans opinion.

    • Michael Barthel

      Yeah but schedule has alot to do with that too last year was a easier schedule cuz we finished last in division just like the eagles are enjoying a easy ass schedule right now but when they finally played a contender they folded up. They have beaten 1 team with a winning record. Happens every year you are either a product of your schedule or you really are that good and have back to back winning seasons. I do not disagree I think Garrett is terrible and cannot make adjustments but I’m also the conspiracy guy it’s awfully funny Jerry threatens to sue league and we lose Elliott and lee and all sudden can’t do anything at all and get blown completely out all at home. Then Jerry says he no longer suing the nfl and boom Dallas plays at high level on all 3 levels and smashes the skins. 34 quarters without our defensive line being held. There just to much that happens in the NFL that makes you think c’mon there’s no way. I mean 9/11 happens then all sudden new England can’t be beaten and have 17 straight seasons with 10 or more wins but yet the greatest coach of all time got fired by Cleveland. Tom Brady who barely even played in college becomes greatest qb of all time. Patriotism…… I love football and always will but sometimes these conspiracy theories makes sense and start to make you think lol

  • billy jack

    we do not have enough talent on defensive side for Jones to excel.

  • Michael Barthel

    May be wishful thinking but think about this Brian. Dallas goes and picks up Kenny Vacarro to have him play single high safety and play Jones at corner. Resign Hitchens Irving and Lawrence. Sign Vacarro and I would try to get either Sammy Watkins or Allen Robinson they are both young still and can play also would be the new #1 and dez can go to #2 where I think he will kill teams. Then go into the draft take a running back linebacker guard swing tackle corner. If Dallas can pick up a receiver like the ones I mentioned and grab a safety and corner in free agency that has good bit of experience. Wouldn’t hurt to look at guards and tackles in free agency either underrated guard in Andrew Norvell. We all know Dallas likes to plug holes in free agency and draft best players available but if we can just make players we sign be good depth players then when we go into the draft we can take that James Washington or Roquan Smith. May be wishful thinking but I would love to see Allen Robinson Kenny Vacarro and maybe Tahir Whitehead and I think Dallas can go into the draft very happy but it will be hard to resign Lawrence Irving and Hitchens then sign them guys

  • EverybodyTalks

    When you look at Byron and realize he was a CB @UCONN with 4.3 40yd dash at the combine. I scratch my head and that is not even mentioning his broad jump. I think Byron belongs on a corner and I hope they sign his 5th year extension. If you are a CB in college and have his athleticism, size and speed, then train him up for the job he use to do. I truly believe he is more than salvageable and can be developed into a great CB. The staff moved him around to much, out of necessity, in his 1st year. We were depleted in that year and Byron gave a very good effort in his rookie season. Further, has he missed any time? I don’t believe so. I see a football player, who wants to succeed. We need to give him the opportunity to succeed as CB, whether that be in rotation or as a starter. Last week, we all became fascinated by Awuzie, I was also. We finally were getting to see our 2nd round CB and he acquitted himself well. Now think about it. Has Byron missed a game? Could Jones be a CB of comparable talent, given the chance next season? I think so and perhaps a healthier one.

  • Jeremiah

    This whole team is a victim of poor coaching and ownership. Want see another super bowl for another 22 years and yes I am a Cowboys fan fo life. So stop blaming it on the players. As we all see the players that have left have all made their teams better than anyone thought, from Leary, Church, Wilcox and others. If it kwacks like a duck it’s a duck.

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Cowboys WR Tavon Austin Skipping Surgery, May Return in 2018

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A groin injury sustained last week against Jacksonville won't send Tavon Austin to injured reserve, at least for now. The Dallas Cowboys receiver has elected to forego surgery at this time, giving him a chance to return to action in 2018.

There was concern that Austin could land on IR initially following the Jaguars game, but he sought a second opinion this week. It appears that this new information was enough for Tavon and the Cowboys to decide that surgery can wait.

Rob Phillips on Twitter

Sounds like WR Tavon Austin will not have surgery at this time after getting a second opinion on his groin injury. He could miss a few weeks, however. #cowboyswire

Austin should miss this Sunday's game with the Washington Redskins. He has been the team's punt returner this season and a useful tool on offense, playing mostly receiver but also lining up the backfield at times.

Despite his limited opportunities, Tavon is tied with Cole Beasley for the team lead with two receiving touchdowns in 2018.

How long Austin will remain out is unknown at this time. After the Washington game, Dallas will have their bye week and then host the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football.

Both of these are games that the Cowboys, feeling good after a blowout victory over Jacksonville, should be able to win without Austin. But they would certainly like him back for the Week 10 road game with the Philadelphia Eagles.

In Tavon's absence, Cole Beasley will likely field punts. We may see more of Deonte Thompson in the speed routes that Austin ran on offense, though Dallas could also finally see what recently returned Brice Butler has to offer.

With an expiring contract this year, Tavon will likely want to get back soon and trying to improve his stock for the 2019 offseason. Hopefully, he can still have a positive impact on his value and the Cowboys season in the weeks ahead.



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Terrance Williams was already missing games on injured reserve, but now the Dallas Cowboys receivers is going to lose some money as well. Williams was finally hit with a three-game suspension by the NFL, starting immediately,  for his public intoxication arrest last May.

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In Williams' case, the suspension will only result in lost game checks. Players still get paid when on IR, but Terrance will lose that amount of his $3.5 million base salary.

Because he can serve the suspension while injured, Terrance will still be eligible to be recalled from injured reserve in December after sitting the mandatory weeks.

The real issue for Williams now is how this event, and his general fall from grace in the Cowboys offense, will affect him in the next offseason.

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Terrance is in just the second season of a four-year, $17 million contract he signed in 2017. If he's released after this year, Dallas would save $2.25 million of his scheduled $4.75 million cap hit in 2019.

Williams' cap hit isn't the issue by itself. That would be a bargain for a significant contributor in your offense, even if he was just the third receiver.

But Terrance appears to have fallen well below that spot on the depth chart. Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, and Michael Gallup are the top three receivers these days, and veteran Deonte Thompson has also been getting looks. Dallas also brought back Brice Butler a few weeks ago, though he hasn't really been worked in yet.

Not only that, but the Cowboys will have the option to recall Noah Brown from IR in just a few more weeks. He was one of their more intriguing young prospects prior to getting hurt.

Dallas could let Terrance come back next year to compete, hopefully with full health and less personal baggage. But after six seasons, they may be ready to move on to players with more room to grow.

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Brandon George on Twitter

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said WR Tavon Austin will be getting a second opinion on his injured right groin in the next day or so. He didn't discount possibility of him being placed on injured reserve.

 

Whether Austin goes to injured reserve or not remains to be seen, but we do know that he'll miss week seven and likely won't be able to suit up for a while. Though Austin hasn't been relied upon much, he has been a threat that opposing defenses have had to account for in both the passing and running game. Tavon Austin leaves a bit of a hole.

Enter Deonte Thompson.

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He's been a return threat in his NFL career, averaging 24.8 yards per return. He's had returns of 47, 64, and 74 yards. He's also had some good moments running after the catch in his career, though he hasn't gotten many opportunities.

Thompson's a former track athlete and before the 2012 NFL Draft ran a 4.30 40 yard dash. He has the speed and a bit more size than Austin to make some things happen if given the opportunities.

The jet sweep has become an important staple in the Dallas Cowboys offense. Even when they don't hand it off on the sweep, they use it in play action, to set up screens, and even to get the defense thinking about it on direct hand offs to Ezekiel Elliott. They aren't going to want to scrap that part of the playbook just because Austin will be sitting out. Deonte Thompson can be that guy. Much like Marquise Goodwin in San Francisco, Thompson has elite speed.

He's not just football fast. He's fast-fast.

When I was in high school, I played baseball. In the baseball program I was fast. The fastest on the team. That was my game. Infield singles. Stretching doubles to triples. Stealing bases. I was fast. I went out for track my senior season because I thought, "hey I'm fast, let's see what would happen if I ran the 100-meter-dash." I found out really quickly that there is a difference between baseball fast and track fast.

The same applies to football and track. Deonte Thompson is track fast. He's a guy that the Dallas Cowboys need to get the ball to on those jet sweeps to continue to threaten defenses sideline to sideline. When it's working, as we've seen with Lucky Whitehead in the past and Tavon Austin this year, it opens up a lot for the Dallas Cowboys offense.

It's likely that Cole Beasley gets those first jet sweep attempts, and as a trusted veteran for the Dallas Cowboys, he probably should. But, if Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan want to continue to use the jet sweep to the offense's maximum benefit, they need to start showing it with Deonte Thompson. He has the speed to get to the corner and take it to the end zone from any where on the field.

Here's an example of what Thompson can do with the ball in his hands.

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109 YARDS TO THE HOUSE!!! Deonte Thompson returns the missed field goal and runs it all the way back for a @ChicagoBears TD! #CHIvsAZ https://t.co/k9IfkZMoIY

 

With Tavon Austin set to be out -- possibly for the season -- it's time to see what Deonte Thompson can do. The Dallas Cowboys need to get a win here to get above .500 for the first time this season and set themselves up to make a run at the divisional crown. Deonte Thompson's ability with the ball in his hands will give them a good opportunity to do just that.



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