Typically during the offseason we all tend to focus on the incoming and out going players and we often times overlook the changes that are made to the coaching staff, if any. Well, that's what I want to do today because I believe there are three new Dallas Cowboys Assistant Coaches who could have a big say in how the 2018 season turns out.
After the disappointing end to the 2017 season, the Dallas Cowboys decided it was time to make some changes to their coaching staff. They now have several new faces who will be coaching up this year's roster and running the meeting rooms, but there's no way of knowing right now if they can make the difference expected.
I don't know where you stand, but I actually like the new assistant coaches the Dallas Cowboys hired and I expect big things from them this season. In fact, Head Coach Jason Garrett's job could depend on them making an immediate impact. But, some of these new hires should be more impactful than others. Below are the three who I believe will be difference makers this year.
Kris Richard, DB Coach & Passing Game Coordinator
Out of all of the moves the Dallas Cowboys made this offseason, the hiring of Kris Richard, the Seattle Seahawks former defensive coordinator, might be the most important/impactful. He has already received high praise from several of the Cowboys players and has been spoken highly of by Rod Marinelli and several other of the coaches as well.
Richard may be a Dallas Cowboys Assisting Coach right now, but it is expected that he will become the next DC once Marinelli retires, possibly as soon as next season. In fact, you can already see his fingerprints all over the defense.
Kris Richard's main task this offseason is getting the best out of the Cowboys young secondary. He has already decided he wants Byron Jones playing as a CB, and with Chidobe Awuzie starting on the opposite side, Richard has a starting tandem with the height/length he prefers in his defensive backs. But, how he decides to deploy Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, and the starting safeties could impact the outcome of the 2018 season.
Sanjay Lal, WR Coach
No other new Dallas Cowboys Assisting Coach may have more pressure to succeed this season as Sanjay Lal, who was brought into get more production out of the wide receivers. He has the tough task of working with a position that was pretty much overhauled this season and he needs to turn them into players who are more "Dak-friendly".
Working with an almost completely unproven group of wide receivers could be a blessing and a curse for Lal. Ideally, he probably would have preferred to come in and work with a more established group of WRs. That way he has a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses in order to know what needs to be worked on. But, he's getting a lot of young receivers who have little to no playing time in the NFL.
Fortunately, these young players can be molded the way he wants. He doesn't have to break bad habits as much and can focus on doing things the way he wants them done. Luckily for him, the Cowboys will still have a run first mentality on offense, but he still needs his WRs to be productive so that the entire offense isn't one-dimensional.
Ben Bloom, LB Coach
Ben Bloom technically isn't a new Dallas Cowboys Assistant Coach, but he's never shouldered more responsibility than he is expected to this season. You could say that Bloom has paid his dues in Dallas. He was hired in 2011 to be the teams defensive quality control coach and assistant linebacker coach to Matt Eberflus. He has also worked with the defensive line and as the club's assistant coach/special projects, among others.
After Matt Eberflus left to become Indianapolis' DC, Bloom was promoted as the Cowboys new LB coach. To say that he has his work cut out for himself maybe one of the understatements of the year. It's one of the few positions on the Cowboys roster where there still remains a lot of unknown. Luckily, having a player like Sean Lee is a godsend.
Where Bloom will make the most impact this season is his ability to get Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys first-round draft pick, and Jaylon Smith up to speed, since they are both expected to have major roles this year, possibly both as starters. How Bloom prepares these two players could and should have a major impact on how the entire defense performs.
Which Dallas Cowboys Assistant Coaches do you think will be most impactful?
Is Kavon Frazier Fighting a Losing Battle With the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys Safety Kavon Frazier has one year remaining on his rookie contract, but may not see the end of it with the same team who drafted him. In fact, it really looks as if he is already fighting a losing battle in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys signed Free Agent George Iloka and drafted Donavan Wilson out of Texas A&M in the sixth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft in the hopes of upgrading the safety position. That doesn't bode well for Kavon Frazier, especially after seeing his defensive snaps take hit in 2018.
After the arrival of Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard, Frazier saw his playing time on defense go from 21.24% in 2017 to 18.07% in 2018. It's not a huge difference, but it's pretty obvious the Cowboys value his special-teams ability, not his defensive play.
The way I see things, Kavon Frazier is a longshot to make the Cowboys final 53-man roster this year. At best, I have him fifth or sixth on the depth chart right now. Since Dallas typically only carries four safeties on the roster, it's looking as if Frazier could inevitably be the odd man out.
I personally have Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath, and George Iloka ahead of Kavon Frazier right now on the depth chart. That means he's competing with Darian Thompson, who is also playing on a one-year deal, and rookie Donovan Wilson for that fourth and final roster spot at the safety position. Unfortunately for Frazier, it looks as if the odds are against him.
Donovan Wilson has already had to step into Frazier's shoes while he was out in OTA's after having his knee scoped, and has been pretty impressive doing so. He has supposedly picked up the defensive scheme pretty quickly and is becoming a vocal leader on the backend. Being a younger, cheaper option, Wilson has a better chance of sticking around on the final 53-man roster over Frazier.
As you can see, Kavon Frazier is fighting an uphill battle with the Dallas Cowboys. It of course is nothing new for him. He's had to fight his way onto the roster ever since he joined the Cowboys, but this year just seems a little different in my opinion. It just looks as if the odds are more against him this time around.
I have no doubts Frazier will continue to fight with every ounce of his being, but if I'm being completely honest I think he's fighting a losing battle. It's going to be really interesting to see how this roster battle at the safety position plays out in training camp and preseason.
Do you think Kavon Frazier is fighting a losing battle with the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019
It's been a few years since things around the Dallas Cowboys felt this good prior to a season. Coming off a 10-6 year in which Dallas won both the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a one possession road game to the future NFC champions, Cowboys Nation is expecting some big things in 2019.
After all, the Cowboys went out and improved their roster in multiple ways this offseason and brought in some new blood on their offensive coaching staff. Spirits are high among Cowboys Nation, and just about everyone is anticipating a two team race for the NFC East.
But some numbers indicate we should be thinking "not so fast."
The details of the 2018 season are not as pretty as the total picture. Rarely are they ever, of course, but these particular details point towards possible regression for the Cowboys in 2019.
Basically, their point differential a year ago spells out impending doom. (That was dramatic, but let's discuss).
The Cowboys were +15 in 2018, and by pythagorean wins expectation, they were about as strong as an 8-8 team (8.53 wins to be exact). This means they won nearly 2 more games (1.47) than would be expected, fourth most in the entire NFL.
This point is furthered when looking at their record in one possession games. Dallas went 8-2 when the game was decided by 7 points or less, winning close games at a rate that is simply not sustainable year to year.
These numbers make the Cowboys a prime candidate for regression in 2019, as they were in 2017.
Back in 2016, the Cowboys outperformed their pythagorean expectation by a whole 2 wins. The following season? Dallas finished the year 9-7. The model also indicated that the 7-9 Eagles performed 2 wins under expectations in 2016, meaning they would get back on track in 2017. As we know, they ended up winning 13 games and the Super Bowl the following season.
Of course, this isn't set-in-stone, and the Cowboys very well could outperform these expectations and avoid regression. This would mainly hinge on their coaching staff and quarterback performing at an elite level, carrying them through close games and winning more games by greater than one possession.
Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations
Winning games in the NFL typically comes down to accomplishing two goals. One, being successful when passing on offense. And, two, stopping the opposing team's passing game.
The Cowboys set out to accomplish that second goal this offseason, re-signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and trading for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn. Quinn, who tallied 6.5 sacks last season for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the leagues more feared rushers when at his best. The former All Pro has multiple 10+ sack seasons under his belt, including a whopping 19 in 2013.
And, as expected, the Cowboys coaching staff is ecstatic to have such a respected pass rushing specialist on their roster.
“He’s got that first step. He’s an established pass rusher in this league, so he’s going to bring some good stuff for us.” - Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
The Cowboys acquired Robert Quinn for a 2020 6th round pick, which could end up being the steal of the offseason. Quinn has played with some top-notch pass rushers in the past, and each time they have brought out the best in his own game.
Back with the Rams in 2017, when Aaron Donald was on the same defensive line, Quinn got to the quarterback 8.5 times. And, last season, he remained consistent in his sack totals playing alongside Cameron Wake. Now he joins a DeMarcus Lawrence who has 25 sacks over the last 2 seasons.
"I think it was kind of one of those where I get to have fun, pin my ears back and just disrupt the backfield, which is what they want us to do." - Robert Quinn told NFL.com.
Quinn and the always dominant Lawrence will form an impressive defensive end duo on passing downs, with the potential to be one of the best in all of football. Dallas is also hoping to add Randy Gregory into this mix, a piece which could prove vital late in football games if he is able to return from his current indefinite suspension.
Whether or not Gregory finds his way back onto the field, though, this defensive front will be in good hands. The edge combo of Quinn and Lawrence, combined with a plethora of skilled interior rushers such as Maliek Collins, gives the Cowboys a fearsome defensive line which should keep quarterbacks uncomfortable every Sunday.
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