When Jason Garrett speaks, rarely does he give the fans any real knowledge about what's going on with the Dallas Cowboys (unless he's cleaning up a Jerry Jones mess). Instead he chooses to talk about "The Process" for the Cowboys and ways they are hoping to get better.
Lost in all the bore of Garrett's words, however, is something he preaches on a daily basis, competition. Garrett constantly talks about the competition on the Cowboys roster and letting it dictate who's going to play. And in case you've missed it, much to Garrett's delight, there is competition throughout the Cowboys roster; today we'll focus on the offense
Obviously we know who the Cowboys quarterback will be heading into 2013 and that is a good thing because if there's one place you don't want competition, it's at the QB spot. As the old saying goes, if you have two quarterbacks you really have none. However, verywhere else there is going to be a battle for playing time. DeMarco Murray will be the starting running back but all reports are that Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner have looked great this offseason so they might be competing for carries, and maybe even a roster spot.
Dallas also drafted Joseph Randle to backup Murray but he hasn't been through the offseason practices because of a thumb injury so there's no guarantee he'll be the main guy behind Murray. The Cowboys will have three talented backs fighting for carries and a spot on the roster when training camp comes around.
The same thing can be said for the wide receiver and tight end positions. Dallas is set with their startering receivers being Dez Bryant and Miles Austin but there is plenty of competition for the third receiver spot. In today's NFL, the third wide receiver sees a ton of playing time and the Cowboys will have rookie Terrance Williams battling it out with Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley for playing time.
At tight end, Dallas has second-year pro James Hanna trying to hold off Gavin Escobar for reps as the second tight on the field in the Cowboys two tight end sets. Hanna showed great promise down the stretch last season and the Cowboys still drafted Escobar in the second round. They will be in competition all summer long to find out who will be the main second tight end for the Cowboys.
Dallas also brought in veteran Dante Rosario to compete with them, and to compete with Lawrence Vickers, for a possible roster spot. Again, no one's job appears safe and it's about getting the best players on the field.
Of course, then comes the Cowboys offensive line, where will there be greater competition this training camp. The Cowboys are set at left tackle with Tyron Smith but the rest of the positions along the line are up for grabs. Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings were the starters last year but soreness and surgeries have limited their work this offseason, allowing Ronald Leary, David Arkin and Kevin Kowalski to get plenty of looks as starting guards. Leary in particular is primed to take one of the starting guard spots for the Cowboys.
Then there's the Doug Free/Jeremy Parnell battle at right tackle. I don't care how well the split time worked last year, the Cowboys should not be rotating their right tackle this season. They need one player to win the job and keep it for the year, unless injury forces the Cowboys hand.
There's even competition at the center spot where it looks as though Travis Frederick will be the starting center, however, former Cowboys scout Bryan Broaddus reports that Phil Costa has done a better job in his technique than Frederick has done at times. It doesn't mean Costa will start at center in 2013 because the Cowboys drafted Frederick to start at that position but as I mentioned the a few weeks ago, it isn't a stretch to say that both Costa and Frederick could start. If the Cowboys find out in training camp that they need better guard play, don't be surprised to see Costa, or more likely Frederick, starting at guard while the other player starts at center.
As you can see almost every position on the roster has competition in some form. Jason Garrett and the Cowboys have made it clear that they wanted more competition and better depth throughout the roster and that's exactly what they've gotten. There shouldn't be any more entitlement from the Cowboys players and they will have to earn their playing time or roster spot in Dallas.
All of the NFL is a competition and the battles from within should make the Dallas Cowboys a better team in 2013.
Ezekiel Elliott vs Byron Jones Part II: The Case For Paying Zeke
It's a debate that has raged on social media for some time now and it likely won't slow down as the offseason progresses and the Dallas Cowboys begin to hand out massive contracts to their top players. Pay Ezekiel Elliott? Pay Byron Jones? If you could only pay one, which would you pay?
This week fellow Inside The Star Staff Writer, Kevin Brady took to Twitter to poll the populous and his results were a bit surprising to me.
if you can only pay one it should be
The results inspired me to see what would happen if I put the same poll on my timeline.
Inspired by my teammate @KevinBrady88, if you can only pay one, which would it be?
On Monday, Kevin wrote a piece looking at one of the difficult decisions facing the Dallas Cowboys this offseason or next. If the Cowboys could only extend Byron Jones OR Ezekiel Elliott, who should they choose? Kevin, as am I, is a firm believer in Byron Jones ability and says the Cowboys should extend them, and I agree. But let's look at the other side of the argument.
To begin, the Cowboys should and probably will get both guys contract extensions either this offseason or next. It's not impossible with the cap continuing to increase at a rate of about $8-12 million per year that the Cowboys will have the space to get the deals done that they need to get done. Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones included.
Byron Jones settled in nicely at cornerback during his first full season at cornerback and knowing what we know about Jones, he won't be satisfied with a second team All-Pro appearance. Expect him to get better. However, if there's a single player that represents the current identity of the Dallas Cowboys, it's Running Back Ezekiel Elliott.
The Cowboys made him the fourth overall pick in 2016 and haven't looked back in their plan to establish the running game. For his career Elliott has averaged 26.9 touches per game over the course of his 40 games.
Here's a look at what Elliott's per game and per 16 game paces look like through the first three seasons of his career.
As you can see from the table above, Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 131.2 total yards per game for his career. In his rookie season he had 1,994 total yards and he sat out the week 17 game against the Philadelphia Eagles when the Cowboys had the NFC and home field advantage locked up. In 2017, Elliott sat out six games and still had nearly 1,000 yards rushing. In 2018, Elliott broke through the 2,000 total yard barrier after seeing a huge increase in his targets and receptions.
Ezekiel Elliott has been everything the Dallas Cowboys could have hoped for and more. With the leadership role he's taken with the team, he's a player that leads both vocally and by example. There are few players on the Dallas Cowboys that give as much effort as he does each snap. How many times has it looked like Elliott was about to get dropped for a two or three yard loss only to grind through tackles to pick up a four yard gain? How many times has he bounced off tacklers to get to the first down marker? Ezekiel Elliott is the human personification of dirty yards, but don't let that fool you into thinking that Elliott can't take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Elliott's is a game breaker who threatens the defense every time he steps on the field.
In 2018, Elliott led the NFL in yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus. His 949 yards after contact in 2018 would have ranked 13th in the NFL in rushing, which was better than David Johnson's 940 yards rushing last season.
Not many running backs effect a football game like Ezekiel Elliott does.
Few players outside of the quarterback position are as much of a focal point for their offense while being an attention grabber for opposing defenses like Ezekiel Elliott is. In 2018, he saw eight or more men in the box on nearly 25% of his carries in 2018. Some of that is related to the Dallas Cowboys insistence on using two tight ends on 50% of their running plays (per Sharp Football), but the other aspect is related to how much they respect the Dallas Cowboys running game. Since the 2014, the Cowboys have been synonymous with running the football. DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, and now Ezekiel Elliott have been the faces of that running game behind the Cowboys elite offensive line.
Even in a down year for offensive line play from the Dallas Cowboys, Elliott still managed to lead the NFL in rushing for the second time in three seasons. Elliott made the Pro Bowl for the second time in three years as well. Were it not for the railroad job done by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2017, there's a really good chance that Elliott leads the league in rushing three years in a row and that the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs all three seasons.
Sure, the running back position is undervalued in the NFL and rushing yardage can be replaced, but there are intangibles to Elliott's game that are very difficult to replace. His ability to grind out the dirty yards, break big plays, create yards after contact, pass protect, be a threat as a receiver, and his leadership make him a player that is difficult to replace.
Yes, Byron Jones was really good in 2018 and deserves to get paid by the Dallas Cowboys as well, but you'd be hard pressed to find a player on the Cowboys roster who has been as consistent and dominating week in and week out as Ezekiel Elliott has been over the last three years.
BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb
According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.
Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T
The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.
During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.
After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.
This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.
Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!
REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur
L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.
Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.
The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e
Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.
Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.
Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.
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