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Could Connor Williams Be Option at Tight End for Cowboys?

Sean Martin

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Could Connor Williams Be Option at Tight End for Cowboys? 1

The Dallas Cowboys play on a short week tomorrow, facing the rival Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving for the third time since 2012. Winners of two straight to even their record at 5-5, the Cowboys need to be in must-win mode against the 6-4 Redskins still. The Cowboys recent wins at the Eagles and Falcons showed signs of this offense turning the corner. Though this short week presents new challenges to the offense, the Cowboys personnel changes have worked to their benefit.

One such change was the promotion of Marc Colombo to offensive line coach. The Cowboys offensive line immediately elevated their level of play under Colombo, despite dropping his first game at home to the Titans. This was the last game rookie Left Guard Connor Williams started.

Suffering a knee injury that kept him out two weeks ago in Philadelphia, the Cowboys turned to their depth signing in Xavier Su'a-Filo. With so many other changes on offense, including the addition of Wide Receiver Amari Cooper, it's difficult to measure Su'a-Filo's true impact at the LG spot. The experienced starter has outplayed Williams in two starts, most recently with Williams healthy to play in Atlanta.

The Cowboys still have plenty of reasons to believe that Williams will be a great player for them, and may even have an opportunity for the second round pick to get back on the field as soon as tomorrow.

Dalton Schultz

Dallas Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz

With Geoff Swaim injured at tight end, the Cowboys are likely turning to another rookie in Dalton Schultz. The Stanford product has flashed in limited opportunity as a blocker this season, but like his fellow TEs on the roster offers little in the passing game.

Lining Williams up at tight end in "Jumbo" formations may be an outside-the-box solution for the Cowboys. 41% (89 of 217) of the Cowboys hand offs this season have come with Swaim on the field, showing this offense will still need to value the TE position in the running game.

Schultz has played just 31 run snaps this season, compared to 211 for Williams. The collegiate left tackle has struggled where Su'a-Filo has thrived at left guard. Anchoring against bigger, stronger defensive tackles was not Williams' strength in eight starts.

Using Williams for down after down against even more athletic and faster edge rushers is not the way for the Cowboys to instill confidence in their 50th overall pick. With much more experience blocking on the end of the line of scrimmage, Williams could still prove a serviceable tight end when playing on the move and opening holes for Ezekiel Elliott.

Could Connor Williams Be Option at Tight End for Cowboys?

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

Surviving an injury scare in Philadelphia, Zack Martin has powered the Cowboys running game as his usual self ever since. The trio of Martin, La'el Collins, and Williams on the right side of the Cowboys line is a potentially devastating one to the Redskins defense Thursday. The Cowboys don't have to look far to find linemen that have performed at tight end before, with starting Center Joe Looney playing in this role at times last season.

With all respect to Looney, who has filled in exceptionally for Travis Frederick, the Cowboys have bigger long-term plans for Williams. Keeping a young, healthy player off the field for the remainder of the season could be damaging to this outlook for Connor. Allowing him to play just a few snaps at tight end feels like an ideal way to keep him involved but maintain the Cowboys identity in the running game without further personnel changes.

Behind Schultz, and before Williams, the Cowboys remaining options at tight end are Rico Gathers and Blake Jarwin. Gathers is much more of a receiving threat than a blocker, with the same likely being true of the seldom-used Jarwin.

Marc Colombo has been a fantastic addition to the Cowboys coaching staff, most importantly bringing experience to a relatively new staff at the positional level. First year tight end coach Doug Nussmeier is looking for answers quickly at his position, and may just find them from the surplus of depth at the team's best position.

Tell us what you think about "Could Connor Williams Be Option at Tight End for Cowboys?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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7 Comments
  • DevilDog58

    Why did they keep Dalton on the roster if they don’t trust him to fill in when the starter goes down? To be honest, I’m sick of hearing about Gather’s potential w/o ever seeing it. Conner could be used as a blocker in place of the TE but by no means should he replace the guy who has out played him since he was hurt. The coaching staff has to quit playing people based on where they were drafted and play them based on how they perform. After Witten retired, I heard Jarwin couldn’t catch either. He made an excellent shoestring catch on a poor pass from Dak but it was amazing Dak even got that ball off. I say leave the OL alone and play that rookie, Dalton at TE. Sometimes Dallas just needs to take a leap of faith.

  • Steve

    Agreed @ DevilDog58, IMO all that playing guys where they are drafted and keeping guys in there instead of playing rookies and seeing what they have is ALL Garrett and even if our boys make a playoff run or win the division Jason G. Has got to go! He is way to complacent and until last week we had one of the top penalty happy teams in the league and yes we are one of the youngest teams in the NFL, but there isn’t any excuses because that comes from the HC and his watching the game unfold like a robot! Sad really because we NEED a new HC to motivate and LEAD our young boys and they will follow someone with direction and drive!

  • Sexcdex Xfact

    Where Schultz, Jarwin & Rico have struggled blocking CWill is good enough for obvious rushing downs & short-yardage downs
    He’s athletic enough to pull block for Zeke & Rod

    Can he catch?

    But it’s far past time to test Rico Gathers
    He won’t be worth even trade bait without further showcasing his skills

    All 22 film show Schultz was blocking the wrong man on several occasions vs ATL
    Jarwin’s just as inept
    Play Rico much & integrate the others is my opinion
    Film shows his blocking has improved much anyway so why not?

    Lord knows we past on a FA tightend before trade deadline
    Play the hand we’ve dealt ourselves

    • DevilDog58

      Great points in your post. I doubt if Conners can catch but wouldn’t it be amazing if he could? I secretly hope he can and Linehan is waiting for the right moment to spring it on the Saints! The only problem with that is that I know Linehan is not that clever. If he was we’d be undefeated. Most of the problems we have are due to our organization’s ineptitude. Think about it: if we fired Garrett and Linehan right now, what team would be stupid enough to hire them for ANYTHING???

  • Ddenney1

    He can’t block at guard so why not a NON CATCHING TIGHT END on run plays! He had a really crappie last year at Texas even though he was a PRE SEASON All American! I did not like this pick but I hope I’m wrong!

  • oneputter

    i think we need to get rod smith playing a hybrid TE position on passing downs.

    go with a 21 personnel with smith being one of the TE’s who is might be covered by a slow LB, get him up the seam or working him underneath to the middle of the field, think about what that would open up for us.

    we have to start using the talent we have as the possibility of making playoffs is within our reach.

    • DevilDog58

      I agree. We need to think OUTSIDE THE BOX. We have so many players who have talent that we don’t use enough (or at all). Of course Rod’s a backup so maybe they’re hesitant to use him in other schemes or positions. But I’m with you; let’s at least try something unorthodox that the Saints haven’t ever seen on tape from us. Another one would be throwing Gathers the ball more than once. With the amount of tape they have on him he should be open on plenty of plays.

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Maliek Collins Playing Excellent for Cowboys Defense

John Williams

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Maliek Collins

For the Dallas Cowboys on the interior, a lot of the news consistently surround the availability of Defensive Tackle David Irving, but Maliek Collins is playing excellent right now. While I'm willing to be very patient with Irving because of the elite talent he brings, Maliek Collins should continue to start for the Dallas Cowboys at 3-technique defensive tackle.

Collins has been a player that the Cowboys have bounced between the nose tackle and the 3T position with the hopes of getting their best players on the field, and because of the lack of a consistent presence at the 1-technique or nose tackle position. Well, with Antwaun Woods taking control at the 1T, Collins has been able to play at the position where he's at his best. The 3-tech.

He hasn't put huge numbers in the sack column this season, but that doesn't mean he's been absent from being the disruptive player he's been through his first two and a half seasons.

During the Dallas Cowboys five game winning streak, Maliek Collins has led the Dallas Cowboys defensive tackles in total pressures with 13, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF combines sacks, quarterback hits, and hurries into their "pressures." Collins hasn't recorded a sack during the winning streak, but he has four quarterback hits and nine hurries. He's tied with Tyrone Crawford for third in total pressures behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory over the last five weeks.

Over the last five weeks, Collins leads the defensive tackles in solo tackles with five and is tied with Crawford and Antwaun Woods with three run stops on defense, according to Pro Football Focus. Collins has also has two tackles for loss in the last five games and recovered Tyrone Crawford's force fumble on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Collins had six sacks in his rookie season when he played primarily as the 3T, which allowed him to see more one-on-one blocks against opposing interior offensive linemen. Especially with the way the rest of the defensive line is playing.

With the Cowboys on the road to face the Indianapolis Colts this week, Collins is going to have a tough matchup with a very good Colts offensive line, in particular, rookie Quentin Nelson. Collins ability to get pressure on Andrew Luck on the interior is a huge key for the Dallas Cowboys this week. We know that Gregory and Lawrence will get their pressures, but if Andrew Luck is able to step up into a clean pocket, it will make for a much more challenging game for the Cowboys secondary.

Collins has proved to be up to any task over the last five weeks and if he's able to keep playing at such a high level, he'll make the Cowboys coaching staff, and the rest of Cowboys Nation forget about using other defensive tackles. For the Cowboys to make a deep push in the playoffs, they'll need Collins to be a big time player for them moving forward.



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Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018

Jess Haynie

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Amari Cooper

For the second time in just three weeks, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Cooper scored three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to lead the Cowboys to victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 10 catches for 217 yards, which led all NFL receivers last week.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

After his record-setting performance during week 14, @AmariCooper9 is the FIRST #DallasCowboys to win NFC Player of the Week twice in a season! → https://t.co/kvBDIeOgBd #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote

As the official website stated, Cooper is the first Cowboy to win the award twice in the same year. He's also the first Cowboy to be named Offensive Player of the Week since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.

Before this year, Elliott was the only Dallas player to win the Offensive award in three seasons. Cooper has now done it twice in three weeks.

Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has amassed 40 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns.

His wasted time in Oakland may keep Cooper out of the Pro Bowl this year, but he's already become a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. Congratulations to Amari for another well-deserved award!



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David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?

Sean Martin

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David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle David Irving, once a key member of the team's defense, will not make his return after all against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. For the second straight week, Irving was reportedly trending towards suiting up before being ruled out. The Cowboys haven't missed his unique presence for 13 weeks (playing against the Jaguars and Redskins), including through an ongoing four game win streak that began with a win against these Eagles on the road.

In that road win, veteran Tyrone Crawford recorded a sack and three tackles, while Antwaun Woods added two for a Dallas defense that held Philadelphia to 23 first downs and 71 rushing yards. The Eagles managed to cross the Cowboys' 30-yard line just four times.

There are many scenarios in which the Cowboys could have cut ties with Irving for not being worth the off-field trouble he's caused - beginning the season with a four game suspension. The absolute best case scenario is what they've realized amidst this turnaround, with other defensive linemen taking advantage of the opportunity left behind by Irving.

While it can still be true that Irving would make more splash plays than the likes of Crawford, Woods, Maliek Collins, and Caraun Reid, this defensive tackle group deserves praise for their ability to step in. Pass rush ability is one thing teams can't have enough of, and the Cowboys are missing some with Irving, finding ways to win thanks to the other traits these defenders bring to the table.

Cowboys Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard may effectively be the team's defensive coordinator with an emphasis on the back seven, but DC Rod Marinelli's impact is still felt - particularly up front. Regardless of where they're lined up and deployed, the Cowboys front four is expected to be disruptive on every snap, something this scrappy unit excels at.

Prepared once again to play on the edge this season, Crawford is thriving at his original position of 3T-DT. Crawford has two sacks, nine total tackles, and three other hits on the quarterback over the past four weeks. Leading by example with a relentless spirit on every play, Crawford has meant just as much to the Cowboys defensive ends as Irving could.

In a short period of time, the Cowboys have gone from building up Irving thanks to his transcendent ability to make those around him better to simply -- and importantly -- being better across the defense.

Led by DeMarcus Lawrence as their premier rusher, the Cowboys defensive line is a lot for opposing offenses to contain. The "Hot Boyz" work up front has allowed Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch to play fast and make plays all over the field.

Maliek Collins, battling back from his second broken foot in three years, is proving again he's a patented Marinelli guy. Collins' play speaks for itself when considering if the Nebraska product is best as a 3T or 1T tackle. Wherever he's asked to play, Collins creates penetration with an explosive first step and can finish at the quarterback with an array of power rush moves.

At 7-5 and fighting for their playoff lives, the Cowboys are done making excuses on the 2018 season. Their strides on defense speak for themselves, and with a group that keeps Dallas in every game they'll play, the door remains open for David Irving to earn snaps again when ready.

The Cowboys don't know any better than their play without Irving right now, and as winners of four straight, it's worth questioning if we'll see Irving over the last three weeks of the regular season.

Tell us what you think about "David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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