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Can Kris Richard Finally Tap Into Byron Jones’ Potential?

Brian Martin



Sean's Scout: Evaluating Byron Jones at CB in Cowboys' Retooled Secondary

The Dallas Cowboys 2015 first-round draft pick Byron Jones is switching positions -- again.

On Monday, Byron Jones introduced himself as a "corner" at an event to promote the Dallas Rattlers, a professional lacrosse team who will call the Ford Center home.

It's been rumored that Jones would make the switch from safety to cornerback since the hiring of Kris Richard, but now it's official. It's always good to get confirmation, especially at this time of year when teams and players are using smokescreens to try to disguise any strategy in regards to the draft.

I personally believe this is the right move for both Byron Jones and what's best for the Dallas Cowboys secondary.

Byron Jones has spent the last two seasons playing safety. He showed promise in 2016 as rangy free safety. But unfortunately, he seemed to regress a little in 2017 when he was asked to take over for Barry Church as more of a box safety, eventually losing playing time to Kavon Frazier.

To me, this move has Kris Richard's fingerprints all over it. He prefers longer cornerbacks, something Byron Jones will give him on the outside. He had just that with the Seattle Seahawks in Richard Sherman, and now he has Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie.

There are high expectations for the Dallas Cowboys young secondary because of the hiring of Kris Richard. Maybe, just maybe, he is the coach that can finally tap into Jones' potential. Moving him to cornerback certainly seems like a step in the right direction.

Byron Jones

Dallas Cowboys CB Byron Jones (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

I don't know about you, but I love this decision. I've always believed Byron Jones' best position was cornerback and that the Dallas Cowboys were playing him at safety out of necessity. He wasn't completely terrible at safety, but I think he has a chance to excel at CB.

Now, I know the majority of you disagree with me. A lot of Cowboys Nation have already written off Byron Jones and proclaimed him as a bust. Fair or not, that's the way I hear him labeled by a lot of fans.

Personally, I believe it's unfair. I think the Cowboys coaching staff have done him a disservice and never allowed him to settle into one position. As a rookie in 2015 he played cornerback, safety, and even some dime linebacker. Then in 2016 he was moved to free safety, only to move moved again in 2017 to strong safety.

I don't know about you, but I think I would have a hard time learning a new job that requires different footwork, technique, and even mentality year after year.

I'm not trying to make excuses for Byron Jones or anything, but I do believe the move to CB will finally give him a chance to show off his rare athleticism. In fact, I'm counting on it and I believe the Dallas Cowboys are as well.

The hard part about all of this is trying to determine exactly how the Dallas Cowboys feel about their versatile defensive back. They have to make a decision about whether or not they want to exercise Byron Jones' fifth-year option by early May. Unfortunately, this position change complicates matters a little more.

What do you think about Byron Jones' move to cornerback?

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.

  • Randy Martin

    Byron Jones has a clean slate with me starting this season. I acknowledge that the coaching staff misused him and he should get a fresh start at cornerback. If he does a good job then we should pick up his option. If not we should learn to stop drafting players based on their athleticism only. There’s no way he should have gone in the first round based on his combine performance.

    • Brian Martin

      Unfortunately, the Cowboys won’t get a chance to know what kind of CB Byron Jones can be before having to make a decision on picking up his fifth-year option. They have until May to make that decision. And, I was actually happy about the Cowboys drafting him in the first round in 2015. I thought he was the best player available, but always believed he was a CB, not a S. Hopefully he proves me right this season ha ha.

  • Nick Russo

    I agree with your take 100%. He has shown even at times while playing safety the ability to cover and his rookie season showed promise during the time he played corner. I also think he is best suited to play corner and the idea of him Chido, and Jourdan Lewis is very excited.

    • Brian Martin

      I think the Cowboys secondary has a chance to be really good this season. They might just end up being the strength of the entire defense.

      • Nick Russo

        Agreed, and their youth (including anthony brown) means that it can be a very solid unit for years to come. I like what our D-line looks like and when we add another LB in the draft, I think that unit will be strong as well. My only concern is safety right now, though I’m optimistic about a woods/Frazier pairing back there. I think our defense has the potential to be in the top half of the league

        • Brian Martin

          I think there are some safeties that should be available for the Cowboys in the second and third rounds who can come in and compete for the starting job. But, I’m also excited about Xavier Woods. Not really as excited about Frazier though.

          • Nick Russo

            Yea I wouldn’t hate if we were able to get a deshon Elliott from Texas in 3-4. Fair enough on Frazier, I personally like him but think that we can still add another player.

          • Brian Martin

            Don’t get me wrong, I like Frazier, but believe he’s more of a box safety and is limited in coverage.

          • EverybodyTalks

            Frazier, to me, is a box safety and continues to improve in that area. He can lay some wood and is one of the first ones downfield on special teams. I think that is why we never went after Tyrann Mathieu. We do need a free safety. I’ve heard the kid out of Wake Forest mentioned as a possible free safety.

  • nick

    I feel like he covered tight ends really well his rookie year, we all took notice when he did good on gronk. But the last couple of years it seems he had struggled often when covering some of them especially when jordan reed and was healthy. Zach ertz gave him fits too, along with others. I have my doubts about how he’s going to hold up against these Wr’s in the league. I hope Kris Richard can work his magic and make me a believer though. As young as chido and lewis are I’m really excited to see Richard work with them and develop them, I’m most excited about those 2 working with richard, especially after the solid rookie years they had.

    • Brian Martin

      I think the reason Byron Jones struggled against some of the tight ends you mentioned is because he kind of got out physicaled at times. We should see a role reversal now that he’ll be covering WRs. And, I’m also excited about the development of the Cowboys young CBs.

      • nick

        Ya that is true, they were much bigger than him, now he’ll be bigger and stronger than most of the WR’s. Come on Kris Richard work that magic. Just draft derwin James some how and pick up earl thomas after this season in FA and he’ll have his new LOB in dallas, what do you think Bryan, should I wake up from my dream haha ?

        • Brian Martin

          I’m not holding out any hope of adding Earl Thomas or Derwin James, but I believe there are some safeties in rounds 2-4 who can come in and help. I also don’t like the idea of trading up. I’d much rather trade down and draft four players in the top 100 who can contribute right away.

    • Brian Martin
  • oneputter

    jones can’t cover TE’s and we’re going to expect him to cover faster WR’s as a corner, he’ll need to play like 15 yds off the ball. as stated here by someone else, he played ok as a rookie covering TE’s but since then has failed to improve.

    he can’t tackle, is afraid to hit, usually grabs at opponents, i just don’t see it in him and never have.

    he is only going to take reps away from the younger guys, time to move on

  • EverybodyTalks

    I think they should give Byron his 5th year option. He is a good soldier. He did what they asked. Played nearly every game (I think he has missed 4 games). Byron was never given the opportunity to p[lay to his strengths. We have the Legion of Boom coach walk through the door and the first thing Kris says to Byron – “Your playing cornerback.” When I heard that story, I couldn’t have been more pleased. I think Byron playing against TEs is a plus. He won’t be bullied by any WRs. He handles the initial strikes when they attempt to push off. It’s like he absorbs it. I think Byron will find his home at CB.

  • Brian Martin

Star Blog

Sean’s Scout: Measuring Randy Gregory’s Impact on Cowboys Defense

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: Measuring Randy Gregory's Potential Impact on Cowboys Defense

The Dallas Cowboys report to training camp next week, and for the first time in a long time there may be more excitement for their defense compared to a largely reshuffled offense. This hype for Rod Marinelli's defense, bolstered by the addition of Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard, was elevated earlier in the week when the Cowboys learned Defensive End Randy Gregory would be reinstated.

Gregory's presence as a potential starting right defensive end is an uplifting one for the Cowboys as they depart for Oxnard. Above all else, this is a rare turn of fortunes for a player the NFL can now tote as a success story.

Once Gregory's focus shifts towards taking hold of that starting DE position for good and giving the Cowboys a pass rush of him and DeMarcus Lawrence off the edge, his impact could change the entire complexion of this defense.

After watching Gregory's last game for Dallas, a week 16 win in Philadelphia back in 2016, here is what I saw from the Cowboys "Christmas in July" addition to their defensive line.


Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

This first clip is probably Gregory's most memorable play through three seasons with the Cowboys. Two teams going in opposite directions since this game, the Cowboys have cycled through their rotation of pass rushers to play the weak side -- with nobody coming close to the athleticism and bend Gregory displays here.

Already planning on attacking the offensive tackle to the outside with his long arm approach, Gregory regains his balance avoiding the low block to get even with Carson Wentz and finish the play. This type of relentlessness is a signature of the Cowboys defense under Marinelli, now fielding a deep group of defensive ends around Gregory and Lawrence.


Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Just how much Gregory comes off the field for the likes of Tyrone Crawford, rookie Dorance Armstrong, Charles Tapper, or Taco Charlton will be determined by his ability to hold up against the run. This was a strength for Gregory against the Eagles, as his cornering ability helped him chase down plays all over the field.

It's hard to understate just how important Gregory's speed and range from this RDE spot could mean to the Cowboys, especially given their changes at linebacker for the 2018 season.

This is a team that's also added plenty of range to the second level of their defense with rookie Leighton Vander Esch and another year of Jaylon Smith.

These linebacker's ability to shoot gaps and be disruptive in the backfield will be aided by the depth Gregory is capable of gaining with ease against left tackles.


Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Gregory does have a tendency to play upright at times and offer a larger blocking area than needed. As you see above, this can help him as an all-around player, as chasing down the run to the outside comes easy for him.

The Cowboys won't be at full strength at defensive tackle to start the season, with David Irving suspended for the first four games again. Maliek Collins is also coming back from another broken foot, as him and Gregory will be important to watch progress through training camp.

The overall potential for a Cowboys defensive line featuring all three of these players, and the rotational pieces behind them, is incredibly high for a team just looking to get back to their roots this season.

For the Cowboys in 2018, this means running the ball effectively, limiting turnovers on offense, and protecting the lead on defense. Randy Gregory significantly helps the Cowboys do the latter here, improving an already fearsome pass rush in ways that few players are capable of.

This is ultimately why the first-round talent fell to the second round for the Cowboys, who took the risk on Gregory and are now on the long path back towards seeing this gamble pay off, something a very thankful Gregory must see through on the field.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Measuring Randy Gregory’s Impact on Cowboys Defense" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Star Blog

Why Patience Is Key In Evaluating Randy Gregory

Kevin Brady



Will the Dallas Cowboys "Get Lucky" at Defensive End?

The Cowboys were fully aware of the risks involved when they drafted prolific edge rusher Randy Gregory in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

They were also well aware of the potential rewards too.

Gregory has spent much of his NFL career away from the Dallas Cowboys, dealing with suspension after suspension and rarely playing actual football. Now, Randy Gregory has gained reinstatement into the league, and all signs point to positivity around his future.

As expected, both the Cowboys and their fan base are excited about the return of Gregory to the roster. And, of course, they should be. Gregory possesses all the traits necessary to be a top tier pass rusher in the NFL, even if we haven't seen it on full display thus far.

At his best Gregory is the prototypical RDE that Cowboys Nation has been yearning for. But it's probably unfair for him to reach that potential as early as this season. Pass rushers coming off suspensions, particularly lengthy suspensions, are rarely able to find their way quickly after returning.

And if you want proof of this, you only have to look across the way at DeMarcus Lawrence. After a strong 8 sack 2015 season, Lawrence was suspended the first four games of 2016. Once he returned, Lawrence battled injuries all season and only appeared in 9 games. Over those 9 games Lawrence tallied just 1 sack and made a minimal impact.

The next season, though? DeMarcus Lawrence was back to playing fully healthy and engaged, en route to a team leading 14.5 sacks and the best overall season of his career.

Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence are different players, and this is obviously a different situation, but the need for patience remains the same. To expect Gregory to be a dominant pass rusher in 2018 is more-than-lofty, as he deserves time to work back into playing shape and perfect his craft off the edge.

Unlike Lawrence, Gregory will have a full offseason and 16 game slate ahead of him. Plus, we haven't heard of any lingering injuries affecting Gregory going forward.

So while we may need to temper expectations at least a little bit, I still expect Randy Gregory to become the RDE we all hoped he could be with time.

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Star Blog

How Should The Cowboys, And The NFL, Value RBs?

Kevin Brady



Will Cowboys' Offense Improve With Ezekiel Elliott's Return?
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

There is no one, stand-alone "best" strategy for winning in the NFL. There are, of course, common themes and ideals which run true year in and year out among the top teams.

Strategy in the NFL is dynamic, or at least it should be. Running in place for too long under the same leadership often breeds mediocrity, and refusing to move with current trends can put you at a severe disadvantage.

Succumbing to those trends without fully analyzing the confounding factors your situation presents, however, can also ruin a team building exercise.

With that being said, should teams pay elite running backs top dollar? Or are those running backs expendable, replaceable, and often forgettable within the NFL machine?

To be honest these aren't very fair ways to pose legitimately interesting questions. You can acknowledge that a running back is important to your offense while also acknowledging that you don't want to break the bank for a position with such injury risk and high turnover year-to-year.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently facing this dilemma, as their star running back Le'Veon Bell asks to be paid like an elite "weapon," not as a normal running back. And when you examine how the Steelers deploy Bell within their offense, he clearly has a point.

Bell is not your traditional "running back." He lines up on the boundary, in the slot, and is a passing threat out of the backfield as well. On top of all of this versatility, Bell is an excellent pass protector, something which is often lost among other "versatile" backs.

Bell can quite literally do it all for an offense, but the idea of paying that position elite-level money makes teams cringe. As The Athletic's Marcus Mosher pointed out on Twitter, teams like the New England Patriots have been able to replicate Bell's production by using multiple speciality backs rather than one workhorse.

In theory, this takes away the injury risk component to a certain extent. Rather than giving one player 350-400 touches per season, you spread those touches out and allow for players to do what they do best.

Lately, the NFL has seemed to agree that this is the most efficient way to play offense. But when you have a player like Bell or Ezekiel Elliott, in what way is taking the ball out of their hands "efficient" at all? In addition, how is using three players to mimic the skill set of one efficient?

Yes, the NFL is a passing league, but when you have a playmaker who is of the caliber of a Bell or an Elliott, it is up to the offense to deploy in him ways that maximize his value. Teams should be using the Bells and Elliotts of the world as pass catching threats and as weapons all over the field. Force the entire defense to account for your running back rather than just jamming him between the tackles like it's 1975.

The movement towards "running back by committee" rather than the traditional one-back system can also be credited to the lack of workhorse-worthy backs entering the league.

Ezekiel Elliotts don't grow on trees, they are rare and special players. And when you have one, especially when you spend a premium pick on him, you should get the most out of him that you can. Playing winning offense in the NFL is about more than just "do you run or do you pass," and it often hinges on creating splash plays of 15-20 yards.

If you can get those plays through the use of an elite running back, that player becomes intrinsically valuable to your team. No matter what "position" he is labeled as. Of course you want to be able create mismatches in the passing game all over the field, so when you are able to do this with a running back, shouldn't that be deemed as highly valuable?

We can't say just yet if the Cowboys should re-sign Ezekiel Elliott once he enters free agency. After all, five seasons (and a franchise tag year) where he touches the ball more than most players in the league will almost certainly bring about some wear and tear.

But with the way the Cowboys have chosen to play offense, and the way in which they've built their roster, a workhorse back like Elliott is necessary for success.

Once again, at least it is for now.

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