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Cowboys Consistency Must Be Found Up Front Vs Redskins

Sean Martin

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For as much as the Cowboys' 3-3 start mired with inconsistency has been scrutinized, the team is coming off of a 30 point bludgeoning of the 49ers on the road - looking like not only the better team by a wide margin, but the team that was one of the NFL's best just a year ago.

Still staring up at the 6-1 Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys have a lot to play for in front of them with a divisional game against the Redskins this week and both meetings with the Eagles ahead.

When noticing all of the blame that's been put on various units of this Dallas team through their slow start, I can't help but notice those in Cowboys Nation that have looked right past an offensive line that's naturally taken time to work in new starters at LG and RT.

Replacing solid, long-term starters in Ronald Leary and Doug Free with Chaz Green Jonathan Cooper and La'el Collins, the Cowboys got back to what they do best by exposing the fourth worst rushing defense in the league last week.

Ezekiel Elliott's inspired performance against the 49ers helped the Cowboys as a team play complimentary football in all three phases. A rightfully criticized defense put Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens back on the field together - a usual great sign that Rod Marinelli's unit will be able to hold its own and limit big plays.

While most will again be focusing on this defense in a stiffer test against Kirk Cousins and the Redskins on the road, I'll be most interested in the Cowboys proving their line play is still at a consistently elite level.

Cowboys' Consistency Must Be Found Up Front Vs Redskins 1

Opportunities should be there for this Cowboys offensive line to impose their will against a Redskins team that allowed 127 yards on the ground in Monday's loss at the Eagles.

LeGarrette Blount Vs Redskins - Streamable

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The best sign for the Cowboys offense looking to carry them to another road win this week is how easily the Redskins defense was stretched out and moved off the ball against the Eagles on plays like these. On the above play, the center's reach block allows the RG to work to the second level, where LeGarrette sees a cutback lane to power downhill and beat the angle against a DB in the hole for a massive gain.

Getting to the second level came easy for the Eagles line against the Redskins front, and this is obviously something that the Cowboys offensive line prides themselves on.

Ezekiel Elliott Vs 49ers - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Ezekiel Elliott was running with the same burst, elusiveness, and vision that made him the league's rushing champion as a rookie for really the first time this season on Sunday. Showing off all of these traits on a well-blocked play here, it is the movement ability of C Travis Frederick that allows him to work up to the MIKE linebacker and let Zeke follow his blocks for a big gain.

I wrote after the game that Jonathan Cooper meshing athletically with the rest of these starters up front was a massive sign of progress for the Cowboys, and you can read about his performance and more in Sean's Scout.

Wendell Smallwood Vs Redskins - Streamable

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As we get back to the importance of Dallas' offensive line carrying the Cowboys over .500 with consecutive wins for the first time in 2017 this week, watch the Eagles' front steer defenders out of the hole on a speed sweep to Wendell Smallwood. The RG is able to power through the DE in front of him, which is so impressive with the way his man was lined up directly over him pre-snap. It is his block along with the swinging guard's that allows Smallwood to find a crease and fall forward for a positive gain.

Ezekiel Elliott Vs 49ers - Streamable

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The Cowboys will absolutely deserve to enter the discussion of NFC contenders alongside the Eagles should they follow-up their dominance of the 49ers with an even more impressive win against the Redskins. Not a lot will need to change in this step up in competition for Dallas.

The Cowboys ran for 265 combined yards in two wins over the Redskins last year, their most against any NFC East rival. Efficient offense will play this team right back into contention, and the next step for this dominant offense is to prove they can win up front against Washington this week.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Consistency Must Be Found Up Front Vs Redskins" 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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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Ethan Chazin

    October 25, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Good work, Sean. I just read the Redskins have 4 of 5 starting O line significantly injured so wee should also (hopefully) be able to dominate with our D line and pressure Cousins into rushed throws and possibly 2-3 INTs. A win moves us into 2nd, 2 games left with the Eagles and with the rest of the NFC open, a stronger position as a wildcard if not Divisional title.

    • Sean Martin

      Sean Martin

      October 26, 2017 at 8:27 pm

      Thank you for reading, Ethan! I appreciate it. I tweeted this out, but this is a must-win game for the Cowboys when you factor in the Redskins’ injury situation. Also add in the rain that the D.C. area is expecting and everything is pointing towards Dallas picking up some more momentum Sunday.

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Star Blog

Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?

Brian Martin

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Could Loaded FA Safety Class Drive Down Earl Thomas' Price Tag?

It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.

Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.

A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.

First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:

  • Earl Thomas
  • Landon Collins
  • Lamarcus Joyner
  • Tyrann Mathieu
  • Adrian Amos
  • Clayton Geathers
  • Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
  • Glover Quinn
  • Tre Boston
  • Kenny Vaccaro
  • George Iloka
  • Jimmie Ward
  • Adrian Phillips

Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.

With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.

Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.

The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.

Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.

Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?



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Star Blog

Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

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Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.

Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?

As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.

Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.

Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.

That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.

However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.

Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.

Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.

The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.

Just something to think about...



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Star Blog

2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back

Kevin Brady

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Anthony Brown's Resurgence A Great Sign for Cowboys Defense
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.

As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.

Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.

These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.

Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.

Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.

Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.

Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.



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