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Cowboys Aren’t Better Without Dez, But They Can Be

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Dallas Cowboys Wishlist: 2018 Free Agency Edition
Andy Lyons / Getty Images

It isn't easy to see a player that has meant so much for the Dallas Cowboys part ways with the team. If watching Tony Romo do it last year wasn't enough, now fans have to endure watching Dez Bryant get released less than two weeks before the NFL Draft.

There's a reason why this move happened, that much is clear. As for what was that reason, we don't exactly know and probably, never will. But anyone putting attention on Sundays knows that his production wasn't the same than before.

Dez essentially had three consecutive disappointing seasons. After receiving the enormous contract that he did in three years ago he failed to meet expectations. 2015 saw Tony Romo and Dez Bryant suffer unfortunate injuries, making things more than difficult for the entire team. 2016 was the year of "adapting to the new kid, Dak Prescott." And 2017, well... was the year that ended his time wearing the Star.

The way this situation was handled and the timing of it is what really drew so much frustration from a large amount of fans. Why do it in the middle of April? This wasn't about the salary cap at all. This was simply about #88 not being in the Cowboys' plans for 2018 and him not fitting into the "Dak-friendly" offense we've heard so much about.

The other thing that has a large portion of Cowboys Nation upset is that...

Today, the Dallas Cowboys are not a better football team.

Sure, Dez didn't produce how he was supposed to. He wasn't justifying his salary on the field. He was getting paid like something he stopped being a long time ago: an elite wide receiver.

It hurts to admit it, but it's the truth. Having said that, though, the Cowboys' roster didn't improve after they cut him. Right now, Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams represent the team's most important receivers.

Now, these guys are not bad. But they're way too far from being an ideal group if the Cowboys are trying to play in January next season.

Even still, it's too early to throw this season's tickets away or cancel your TV sports' subscriptions. Dallas may not be better now, but they can be. 

Earl Thomas, Seahawks

We've been talking about Seahawks' Earl Thomas for a while now. With a need at safety, the front office should be thinking long and hard about making a move for the 28-year old safety now that they have some extra cap space and could give him his desired extension.

Giving up a second round pick might be too much, but if Dallas thinks they can extend him and land one of the best safeties in the league, it's definitely an option worth considering. Why not pull the trigger?

Wide receiver and offensive guard seems like the direction this team will take if they keep their first two draft picks. Maybe you can find talent for either position in the third round, or trade up to get back in the second round and take a talented guard there if they ship the 50th pick to Seattle.

Seattle needs draft picks. They currently don't own a second or third rounder. They're going through some sort of unexpected rebuild and might appreciate the picks.

From the Cowboys perspective, it really would answer the "why?" many fans are asking themselves.

Why did they let Dez go in the middle of April, when the cap space isn't needed? Why make WR an even more urgent need for the team, forcing them to limit themselves to WR and OL in the first rounds? Simply, why let Dez walk if they don't have a plan?

I'm pretty sure getting Earl Thomas would answer those questions. Many fans would see the logic and be relieved to see it was worth it. Relieved to see that after all the drama, the front office had things planned out. It would make things make sense.

For now, we wait. Perhaps the move won't happen at all, perhaps it'll happen soon or perhaps it happens on Draft night, taking us all by surprise. At the end of the day, the NFL is full of surprises, even when it comes to beloved veterans.

Cowboys fans should know that better than anyone.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Aren’t Better Without Dez, But They Can Be" 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!



I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @PepoR99.

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5 Comments
  • alan reyes

    The writer says we may never know why Bryant was cut…That is ridiculous. We all know exactly why and that reason is Bryant is old , chronically injured , expensive, and just done. The Boys actually held onto Bryant for the 2015, 2016& 2017 seasons watching the decline while paying top dollar. We all appreciate what Bryant did , but after 3 declining years, only fools wait for a fourth . So, the Boys are very much better by moving on.
    That is nothing against Bryant. All the Big 3 of 2014 – Murray, Romo, Bryant are gone. Thanks to all of them. The NFL is not the MLB or NBA where eras last a decade or more. The Patriots have been in multiple Super Bowl games and from year to year only keep a few main players. Belicheck would have gotten rid of Bryant two years ago. NFL turnover is brutal.
    The reality is the Bryant/Romo top era was a few seasons from 2011 to 2014. Thanks for the memories.

  • William Kennard

    Well i think dez n dak would of had more time to adjust there lack.of chemistry i dont know is 16.mill still on dallas cap for dez?? Dez played through injuries n dak cant speed read D like Romo just dont know nothing new with cowboys lacking best players Hurns is good but Dez n hurns with Williams ??? Dez os gone now so long wait to see

  • Russ_Te

    When Jones said he didn’t anticipate going forward without Dez, that’s when Dez would have known to expect trouble… ;^)

    He probably balked at a pay cut and likely will accept one now from another team. He needs to work the possession WR job underneath a fast WR who keeps DB’s pinned back. Then he will have a big year again.

  • Balcombie

    The Dez in decline in 2017 is a myth propagated because trying to prop up Dak Prescott and hope he can return to form is more important. Dez truly was a scapegoat. Check out Pro Football Focus’ analysis of Dez last year. When you factor in the number of uncatchable passes thrown his way (and Prescott’s number of uncatchables vs Tony Romo’s last complete year in 2014) we quickly realize there is plenty of blame to go around. Dez’ route running is criticized and we are told that “Dak Friendly” receivers arrive at a point where they are supposed to be so that Dak can run a timing based offense. Problem is Dak threw many balls into coverage instead away from it, the reason Dez had to do an instant morph into cornerback on a number of occasions.

    Dak did well his first year for 3 primary reasons: there was not film of him early on; Elliot was so effective Dak could run lots of play action and essentially cut the field and his reads in half; he had the best offensive line in recent years that allowed him to get away with his tendency to hold the ball too long. Denied essentially all three of these variables in 2017 and his regression is not hard to understand.

    Fair or unfair, Dez is gone. Let’s hope for all Cowboys fans that Prescott can be coached up this year to make better pre-snap reads, get rid of the ball quicker, that Elliot can stay out of the news for non-football activities, and that the offensive line improves.

  • Balcombie

    As a final thought go on YouTube and look at Akoye’s film analysis of what I wrote below. Seeing is believing and seeing is frankly pretty frightening.

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" 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

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.



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Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin

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Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?



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