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Can Kris Richard Finally Tap Into Byron Jones’ Potential?

Brian Martin

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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.

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Randy Martin

    April 18, 2018 at 9:52 am

    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

      Brian Martin

      April 18, 2018 at 9:57 am

      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.

  2. Nick Russo

    April 18, 2018 at 10:16 am

    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

      Brian Martin

      April 18, 2018 at 10:22 am

      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

        April 18, 2018 at 10:34 am

        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

          Brian Martin

          April 18, 2018 at 10:59 am

          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

            April 18, 2018 at 11:07 am

            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

            Brian Martin

            April 18, 2018 at 11:40 am

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

          • EverybodyTalks

            April 19, 2018 at 1:24 am

            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.

  3. nick

    April 18, 2018 at 10:27 am

    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

      Brian Martin

      April 18, 2018 at 11:02 am

      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

        April 18, 2018 at 11:23 am

        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

          Brian Martin

          April 18, 2018 at 11:42 am

          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

      Brian Martin

      April 25, 2018 at 9:24 pm

  4. oneputter

    April 18, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    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

  5. EverybodyTalks

    April 19, 2018 at 1:14 am

    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.

  6. Brian Martin

    Brian Martin

    April 25, 2018 at 9:24 pm

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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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