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Change Is In The Air

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Summer is in full bloom, and that means we are getting ever so close to the beginning of training camp. It is this time of year that has every football fan tied in knots, and I am no different.

While the Cowboys have yet to don anything but shorts and helmets the style of this team is beginning to take focus.

Every team in the NFL is good enough to win the Super Bowl! Or at least that is what they want us to believe. This years Dallas Cowboys are no different, at this moment many of us have very legitimate concerns about the receiver, quarterback, and O-line positions and basically the overall play of the offense.

Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips can tell us all day long that they have faith in the young receivers and that the offense is working hard and coming together, and blah, blah blah! We all know that the majority of that is just a bunch of crap to make us feel warm and fuzzy about the upcoming year!

Let me be clear about something, the offense in my opinion should be as good as and possibly better than last year’s team. I honestly feel and believe that Romo will be a better QB this year, and that Roy Williams can and will do a more than adequate job as the teams #1 receiver, and with the running game that the Boys have this should be enough to carry that side of the ball.

The offensive unit will always be the most glorified, it has all the stars, and scores all the TD’s, but I am here to tell you that if you are an offensive person, and like to see scores in the 40’s each week you are in for a rude awakening.

This is now a control and time of possession unit, we should no longer see play after play of three receivers all running 40 yard triple move routes (not saying we are not going to see these still, just not as many), instead we will see a lot of two tight end sets, short hooks, out routes, slants, and fades, but primarily large amounts of MBIII, Felix, and T-Choice.

There is something taking place on this team that everyone should start paying attention to, THE DEFENSE!!

Granted there has been very minimal contact so far so we cannot quite see the full picture yet, but all the early reports talk about how attacking, and pressure filled this unit is. Mickey Spagnola at DC.com had a great article up on Tuesday about this very thing. Here is my rookie attempt at designing a graphic that shows the alignment!

Def Alignment

In his article he went into pretty in depth detail about how the defense was lined up at one point in the day, and I must tell you this type of scenario is going to cause major headaches for opposing offenses.

Everyday it seems I hear about the competitions taking place on the defensive side of the ball, and each and every one of these guys are pushing each other to be the best. This unit already has there competitive juices boiling over, and its FREAKING JUNE!

This unit is priming itself to have a major impact not only within the team, but they are looking to, in the immortal words of Ebby Calvin 'Nuke" LaLoosh “Announce their presence with authority!”

We have all heard the old saying “where there is smoke there is usually fire!” all I can say is that the defense of the Dallas Cowboys has had a ton of smoke emitting from its smoke stack!



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8 Comments
  • https://insidethestar.com/ Doran Palmer

    Not bad. I agree. The defense is looking to be a serious beast just based on the schemes and alignments being used in practices. Full contact will change things up a little because the speed of the game will change from it, but I think we’re all fairly confident that these guys aren’t afraid to hit. The rookies we don’t know about so much, but there’s enough vets to take care of that part.

    I’m just glad to finally hear about Alan Ball and Courtney Brown doing something worthy of a roster spot. I hope that continues through the offseason.

  • Jonathan

    3.4 yards. That’s the goal. If you want to avoid the dreaded 3 and out, averaging 3.4 yards per carry/pass moves the sticks on third down. If you want to keep your defense fresh, the baby step approach to offense is the most ideal. If you want to dominate the clock and control the game, then exhausting the run, the flats, and the intermediate seam is where your offense should live and die.

    I’ve been saying it for years now: The scheme that T.O. demanded, handicapped this team as a whole. With age, T.O. is not ideal for the slant or the WR screen. He doesn’t have the wiggle or the strength to shed off potential tacklers, to be effective, used in that capacity. The only way he was effective is if he caught the ball in stride and had already reached max speed. But beyond that, truth be told, he was ineffective to say the least.

    The addition by subtraction cliche truly does apply to the release of T.O. for two reasons: One, he won’t be campaigning for the ball and therefore, Romo, won’t have to second guess his initial reads on who should be open. In 07 and 08, his eye’s would look from T.O., to Witten, back to T.O., to the other eligible receiver, which resulted in way too much time spent in the pocket. Now, he can make his presnap read without prejudice and get the ball out quick like we all know he is capable of doing.

    The second addition is the ability to get different talent on the field in different ways to keep the opposing defense quessing; think two TE sets, dual or all three RB’s at once, the Razorback, a HB in the slot…the list goes on and on. With T.O., it was though the Cowboy’s paid a T.O. tax to shut him up by forcing balls in his direction.

    Of course, I didn’t begin this comment with the intention of dragging T.O. into another discussion, but it’s important to understand, despite losing his potential production as a receiver, the Cowboy’s have gained some from not having him don the Blue Star on the side of his head.

    Now to the defense:

    Believe it or not, even with the injury to Newman, the suspension to Pacman, the slowing and undersized Anthony Henry, subpar safety play, and rookies manning quite a few starting positions throughout the year, the Cowboys still managed to finish 5th in the league in pass defense. That’s right, I couldn’t believe it myself when I recently looked this up, but it’s true. Now, imagine: We’ve improved our Safety position through Free Agency and Draft – and let’s face it, it didn’t take much. Experience took a shot, but we improved in speed at CB. And if you consider that Mike Jenkins is better suited for man defense and that is a shift the Wade has already indicated we are moving to, it’s safe to assume that our CB position has improved. Then, at LB, another position responsible for coverage duty, once again we lost in experience, but speed was a definite upgrade. One could safely assume that this defense will be extremely stingy.

    I honestly think our interdivisional foes, as well as the rest of the league and sport’s analyst currently underestimating our Cowboys, are in for a rude awakening.

  • bags030404

    Great insight Johnathan! I like the team better when everyone thinks they will suck!

  • Jonathan

    Thanks bags. Sorry for rambling, I tend to do that. I, too, am glad that everyone thinks the Cowboy’s suck. Aside from the ideal mental state that it puts are team in, it gives us alot more to talk about in the offseason; particularly if you are like me and disagree with most of them. And I don’t think I’m being too unrealistic in my assessment of this team.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Doran Palmer

    Not at all. I’ve actually want you to write for us so everyone can better see your thoughts on the team, you’re spot on in everything so far. We appreciate it.

  • Jonathan

    Doran – I’d love to. I actually have a few pieces that I’ve submitted to other forums that might work if you are looking for material. Just let me know where to send them and I’ll let you be the judge. Just be warned, my post tend to run long, as I always have alot to say…

    • https://insidethestar.com/ Doran Palmer

      I tell you what, go ahead and use the contact form, which you can access here or up top, so we can get our email addresses to each other. Typically you’d just register and from there you have access to write posts. We’ve tried emailing you at the address you leave in your comments, but I guess it got caught in a spam filter. But contact us with the form and we’ll get you setup. Material is good, new stuff is good, however – we just like getting more fans involved.

Game Notes

SEA 24, DAL 13: Cowboys Offensive Woes Continue

Jess Haynie

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Ezekiel Elliott, Connor Williams, Seahawks
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Inefficient passing and turnovers cost the Dallas Cowboys today, leading to a 24-13 loss to the previously winless Seahawks in Seattle.

Dallas's offense produced just a single field goal by halftime, with Dak Prescott only completing two of his first nine passes for just four yards. He got better as the game went on, but still finished with just 168 passing yards and a single touchdown.

The box score will say Prescott threw two interceptions, but one was a bobbled catch by Michael Gallup. The other was not a good throw, trying to find Blake Jarwin in traffic. Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner went up and caused a tipped ball.

Both picks ended up in the hands, and ankle, of Seattle safety Earl Thomas. He drew a taunting penalty for bowing at the Dallas sideline on his second INT, almost as if mocking the team for not giving up enough to trade for him.

Ezekiel Elliott did have a big day on the ground; 127 yards on just 16 carries. It's his first 100-yard game of 2018. But the fact Dallas couldn't capitalize on Zeke's production was just further indication of their offensive dysfunction.

Hurry home, Travis Frederick. Who knew you were our Offensive MVP?

Other Notes

  • While Zeke did have a strong rushing performance, two critical errors were big parts of the Cowboys' loss. An early TD catch was called back because Zeke stepped out of bounds before making the reception. Also, Elliott's fumble in the 4th quarter squandered a strong drive that could have started Dallas' comeback attempt sooner.
  • Dallas' defense looked good early but clearly wore down over time. Seattle RB Chris Carson ground out 102 rushing yards on 32 carries. Russell Wilson took advantage of some miscues in the secondary for two touchdown passes and 192 passing yards.
  • Tyrone Crawford got called for another bogus "roughing the passer" penalty after a clean hit on Wilson early in the game. The NFL has to get this figured out, because it's becoming a bigger eyesore for the league than any amount of kneeling ever did.
  • Tavon Austin got his second touchdown catch this year, the only Cowboy to record a receiving TD so far this year. Tight end Geoff Swaim had five catches for 47 yards, reminding the world that Dallas actually has TEs on their roster.
  • Speaking of which, as Troy Aikman commented on during the game, Rico Gathers was not used in redzone passing situations. Why is Gathers dressing for games and not being utilized in the one situation where he's not a liability?
  • Sean Lee left the game after reaggravating the hamstring injury he suffered last week. It meant more playing time for first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch, who reminded you of Lee with how he was getting to the ball. Both finished the game credited with 11 tackles each.
  • Rookie guard Connor Williams continues to struggle when up against powerful defensive tackles. It's not a surprise for a converted college tackle, but growing pains still cost you on game day. Dallas may have to consider starting Joe Looney at guard once Travis Frederick comes back.
  • Kicker Brett Maher went 2/2 today on field goals, including a 50-yarder. He has hit four straight after missing his one attempt against Carolina in Week 1.
  • The rest of the NFC East won their games today. That puts Philly and Washington at 2-1 and now evens up the Cowboys and Giants at 1-2.
  • Dallas returns home next week to host the Detroit Lions, who are currently 0-2. They play the Patriots tonight.



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Game Notes

Why The Seahawks Will Be Looking Into A Mirror Against The Cowboys Sunday

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

For the better part of the last decade one defense has reigned supreme over the NFC. One defense has continually put their offense and team in position to win big games, including a dominant Super Bowl win over one of the more productive offenses in recent memory.

That defense, of course, belonged to the Seattle Seahawks.

With a secondary deemed as the "Legion of Boom" and a defensive line which rotated through Pro Bowl level talent routinely, the Seahawks bolstered one of the best defenses the NFL has ever seen. A defense which perfectly complimented the physical, run first philosophy their offense lived by.

Players like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, and Bobby Wagner will arguably be Hall of Famers one day, and they wreaked havoc on the conference for a strong 3-5 year stretch.

Now, however, things are changing.

Gone are many of the elite players which once bolstered the Seattle defense to top-tier status, and while some big names remain, the talent level simply isn't the same. The Seahawks missed the postseason a year ago, and now sit at 0-2 before their home opener today against the Cowboys.

Their window looks to be closed, while their opponent today is looking to build their defense (and team) in the mold of what once was in Seattle.

Former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard has come to Dallas and brought with him a more aggressive defensive philosophy, one which he deployed successfully with the Seahawks. Under Richard the Cowboys are blitzing more often on third down than they have in the past under Rod Marinelli, they're utilizing more single high safety looks, and they are allowing their long and talented corners to do what they do best in coverage.

The Seahawks once leaned on a deep pass rush and long, physical secondary. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.

The Seahawks once leaned on a mobile quarterback to make plays with his feet while relying on a strong running game and one of the league's best backs. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.

Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie look like they were molded in a 2013-Seahawks lab as cornerbacks, and DeMarcus Lawrence is as productive as any pass rusher those defenses had. Of course, we aren't able to say the Cowboys have the consistent front four depth that those Seattle teams did or that they have the single high safety of Earl Thomas' caliber, but the preliminary pieces are clearly in place.

Today the Cowboys look to improve to 2-1 with a conference road win. But, they also look to bury the Seahawks in the past and take another step towards cementing themselves as one of the elite defenses in the NFC.

It won't happen over night, but anyone can see that the potential is there.



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Player News

Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?

Sean Martin

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Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins is out for Sunday's game at the Seahawks with a sprained knee, further opening the door for Datone Jones to earn his spot among the "Hot Boyz". The moniker given to the Cowboys front seven this season, the team's depth up front has been a strength in totaling nine sacks through two games.

Last season, Datone Jones was a part of this rotation late in the year. Coming on strong at the 3T position while Maliek Collins played at the 1T, Jones is the type of versatile defender with veteran experience that Rod Marinelli can get the most out of.

Returning from a knee injury himself, Jones may take some time to be the disruptive interior player we saw at the end of 2017. Through two games, the Cowboys had played Collins at his original position of 3T, with Antwaun Woods doing more than enough to continue playing at 1T.

This potentially makes Collins and Jones two players fighting for one spot. Collins followed up his performance at the Panthers with a sack of Cam Newton by constantly playing in the Giants' backfield last week.

John Owning on Twitter

Guessing that means no Irving, I'd say Tyrone Crawford then Antwaun Woods. I have high hopes for Datone Jones once he returns though. https://t.co/9frjFK2J9J

A player determined to not let his team's misuse slow down his progress, after an incredible rookie season at 3T, Collins is returning from his second broken foot in three years.

Through his five years in the NFL, Jones has only played a full 16 games once.

The most games Datone has started in a season is four. Maliek Collins should like his chances of playing over Jones once both are healthy, and the Cowboys should be equally thrilled with the opportunity to keep both fresh in rotation.

Following Sunday's game in Seattle and next week against the Lions, the Cowboys can return David Irving from suspension to play all over their defensive line - his best position also being at three technique.

Without the wealth of talent they now have at all four positions up front, the Cowboys have had too many bodies to fill similar roles in the past. Thanks to the addition of Kris Richard along with strong edge play from Taco Charlton and rookie Dorance Armstrong, the Cowboys defensive line can do no wrong in 2018, and using Jones in week three and beyond should only add to this.

The Cowboys biggest key to success against the Seahawks will be containing Russell Wilson. Pressuring him in his face to collapse the pocket gives Dallas a chance to really slow the Seahawks offense, something they'll be relying on Jones to help them do as DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory also work with favorable match ups at defensive end.

Tell us what you think about "Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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