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Should Cowboys Cut Ties With Alfred Morris Or Darren McFadden?

Brian Martin

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Should Cowboys Cut Ties With Alfred Morris Or Darren McFadden?
Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys were forced to carry four running backs on their 53-man roster to start the season due to the unknown availability of Ezekiel Elliott for the entire 2017 season. But luckily, Elliott’s fate for the rest of the season may be determined as soon as sometime next week. That means the Cowboys could decide to finally cut ties with one of their veteran running backs, Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden, if Elliott avoids suspension this year.

I’m not trying to jump the gun here or anything, but I believe having Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden is an unneeded luxury, especially when roster spots are so valuable. This is even more true considering the fact David Irving will be returning from his four-game suspension after this week’s matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. Irving would be a welcomed addition on defense, but finding him a roster spot isn’t going to be easy.

Hopefully we will know whether or not Ezekiel Elliott can play the remainder of the season before a roster spot is needed. If #21 is suspended though, Irving would likely take his roster spot, because Elliott would have to start serving his suspension immediately. But, if Elliott is cleared to play, I think Morris or McFadden’s job security is in doubt.

Let’s break this down a little bit further to determine whether or not the Dallas Cowboys should cut ties with Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden.

RB Alfred Morris

Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Alfred Morris

It was a complete shock that the Dallas Cowboys decided to go with Alfred Morris as the primary backup running back to Ezekiel Elliott to start the 2017 season. Nearly everybody thought that Darren McFadden was the surefire RB2, but supposedly the Cowboys coaching staff believed Morris outplayed him in preseason and in practices.

Alfred Morris may have suited up the first three weeks of the season as the RB2, but you wouldn’t know it by his involvement on game day. To date, he has only four rushing attempts for 1 yard and a total of only nine offensive snaps. I doubt there’s another backup running back in the entire NFL to play less snaps than Morris. To me, that signals a wasted roster spot.

RB Darren McFadden

RB Darren McFadden

Darren McFadden

The fact that Alfred Morris has been active every week of the 2017 season and Darren McFadden inactive might be the only thing we need to know in regards to how the coaching staff views the RB position. It’s a scary thought to think Morris has outplayed McFadden the point where he’s among the inactive’s every week.

It may just be me, but that kind of indicates that if a roster spot was needed and it came down to Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden, the latter might be without a job sometime soon. Of course, we know that these types of roster moves typically comes down to who is making the most money. Unfortunately, that’s not in McFadden’s favor either. McFadden’s cap hit in 2017 is $695,000, while Morris’ is $2,137,500. Money speaks!

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All of this may come to nothing though. There is no way of determining whether or not the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff plans to cut ties with Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden anytime soon. It may make sense to me, but they obviously value their veteran RBs more than I do.

I personally think Rod Smith is capable of becoming the RB2 if Elliott is indeed able to play the entire 2017 season. He looked better than any of the RBs on the Cowboys roster, not named Ezekiel Elliott, in the preseason and off-season practices. But, he has never had to hold down such a significant role so far in his NFL career.

Regardless, a roster spot is soon to be needed and to me the running back position would be the one I target. Depth at the cornerback position is needed due to inexperience and injuries, and the same can be said about linebacker. It’s doubtful that they cut anybody along the defensive line or just about anywhere on offense except RB. Wide receiver could be a possibility, but the youth the Cowboys currently have shows quite a bit of promise.

So, you can see why I believe Alfred Morris or Darren McFadden could be seeing their time with the Dallas Cowboys coming to an end. Who knows? Maybe the Cowboys decide they don’t need either RB if Ezekiel Elliott remains available, but that’s probably unlikely.

Do you have a preference between Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden?

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Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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22 Comments
  • tom

    Irvings comes back, Moore sent to PS. If a “good” CB/DB gets released/cut by another team, then DMC will be toast.

    • Brian Martin

      I don’t see the Cowboys trying to get Kellen Moore back on the PS. But, a roster spot is going to be needed for David Irving next week. That’s why I believe Morris and McFadden could be seeing their time with the Cowboys come to an end.

      • tom

        other option is Bene

        • Brian Martin

          That’s probably the way they would prefer to go, but with all that the injuries at CB, I kind of doubt it happens now.

  • Fatfan

    I tend to agree with Tom…they’d prefer to release bene; but simply cannot right now. So, a rb being released will do, and in a few weeks after that, bene gets released to make room for Rico; provided the cbs are finally healthy enough to not need to rely on bene.

    • Brian Martin

      I don’t disagree. I really think that’s the direction they would prefer to go, just can’t because of injuries at the CB position. And, the last I heard Rico Gathers is still dealing with concussion symptoms. I don’t know if he will be added to the roster this season.

  • Hollis Holcombe

    I’d go with the younger back, but DMC has that Arkansas connection with Jerry.

    • Brian Martin

      I think you’re talking about Rod Smith and I completely agree. I think he looked better than either Morris or McFadden in preseason. I don’t think McFadden’s Arkansas connections carry that much weight. Otherwise, he would probably be active on game days instead of Morris.

  • dmj182

    I like McFadden better than Morris. He has more speed than Morris. I think Dallas may be trying to trade McFadden that is why he is inactive. With Dallas who knows. Cooper Rush out plays Kelvin Moore and Moore is named backup to Prescott.

    • Brian Martin

      It’s definitely a mystery. I think the coaching staff just liked what they saw from Morris in practice and preseason more than McFadden. I haven’t heard any rumors that McFadden is on the trade block.

      • dmj182

        I don’t think Dallas is trying to trade him now because they have wait and see how the Elliot situation turns out but if Elliott is cleared the rest of the season then I could see them trying to trade him.

        • Brian Martin

          Exactly! I kind of find it hard to believe anybody would want to trade for him though. Teams would likely wait to see if the Cowboys cut him. But, all it takes is one interested team

  • Russ_Te

    Well McFadden is only 30 and had numerous seasons with little wear, including last year. I don’t think he’s lost it yet from the dominant RB he was in 2015, and IMO Morris is a chugger with less ability.

    Plus, if EE were to go out and McF were on another team, what does Morris look like on 3rd down? Much rather have McFadden’s speed in the game.

    Unless Morris comes alive in some way, I think we’ll see the shift back to McF and they’ll turn to him to spell Elliott, as we start getting into games with lots of carries.

    Besides, when Terrance Williams is traded for draft picks, a roster spot will open… ;^)

    • Brian Martin

      I don’t really think McFadden was all that dominant in 2015. Yes, he rushed for over 1000 yards, but only found the end zone three times. Also, he didn’t look very explosive in preseason. To me, he looked like he has lost a step. I don’t know if the Cowboys will continue to keep Morris and McFadden, but it just seems like a luxury to me to keep two veteran RBs who don’t really contribute anywhere except the running game. They’re not going to get on the field very often unless Elliott ends up getting suspended this year or gets injured.

      I also highly doubt Terrance Williams gets traded. I know a lot of Cowboys fans want to see it happen, but the Cowboys coaching staff really values what he brings to the offense. If Brice Butler continues to show up, he may be the one on the trading block though. But, I kind of doubt that happens either.

  • Grumpy

    Let’s not forget, when Irving comes back that makes 10 D line men; do we need that many??

    • Brian Martin

      Probably not, but I would rather have more depth that there. Defensive lineman are more difficult to come by during the season.

  • EverybodyTalks

    Yes they should cut ties with both at the end of the season and pick-up a RB in the draft. This is all based on the assumption that Zeke plays the rest of this year. As far as David Irving, they might cut Bene, but we have a ton of CBs on/off injury list.The timing is crappy. Irving is eligible after this Sunday. Zeke /NFL court hearing happens Monday. Zeke may not be playing for 6 games after that court date. So to let a RB go for Irving, this Monday, seems daring, at the least. I like Brian Price, but I think that is the direction they may go. Irving and Crawford can both slide into the middle to relieve Paea…..what do you think?

    • Brian Martin

      I think they will wait until after they find out what will happen with Elliott before making a roster move. I don’t think they will release Brian Price. He is really the only other 1-tech on the roster besides Paea. CB is tricky also because of all of the injuries. That is why releasing one of the veteran RBs made sense to me. But, that can only happen if Zeke can play all season. Unfortunately, it’s one of those wait-and-see situations.

      • EverybodyTalks

        The 1st week in October will be an interesting one for the Cowboys.

    • Russ_Te

      Fortunately the NFL’s chances of fighting Elliot’s stay of suspension, are tied to an underlying case which has already been gutted. Most likely IMO that EE is playing 16 and playoffs this year. And then winning in court in the offseason.

      The Cowboys do need a coherent plan to spell Elliott as we get into the thick of the season. He’s best deployed long enough to get games won, and not long enough to wear him out before the playoffs.

  • Steve Trevor

    Trade McFadden to Minnesota… even for a 6th or 7th round pick. It’s something.

    • Brian Martin

      Trading McFadden is a possibility, but I think the Cowboys are waiting to see what happens with Ezekiel Elliott.

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Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

The Cowboys have just one more game to get through without their star running back Ezekiel Elliott, but Alfred Morris and Rod Smith deserve a ton of credit for the way they’ve been able to fill in out of the backfield for Zeke Elliott. Throughout the time Elliott has missed though, the Cowboys have lacked the explosive plays on offense that he can provide – until Rod Smith was given an opportunity last week at the Giants.

Smith complimented Morris exceptionally well, running with quickness and power to prove his case for more of a role on offense behind Elliott moving forward. It was the Ohio State product’s consecutive touchdowns of 81 yards through the air and 15 yards on the ground that sealed the game for the Cowboys in week 14.

Here is a closer look at Rod Smith’s performance from last week in this latest Sean’s Scout.

Smith3 – Streamable

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

 

The Cowboys offensive line was dominant as always against a tough New York defensive front, and this first play is a great look at their execution in space and on the move. Rod Smith’s decisiveness when hitting the hole with speed and balance was the first thing I noticed on the game tape.

The best thing Smith does on this play comes at the second level, where running backs can truly make a difference in Dallas. As RG Zack Martin rides his man out of the play entirely, he gets in front of Smith who is seeing the play develop straight ahead. With his long strides, Smith is able to smoothly get through traffic and continue accelerating up field through arm tackles for a big gain.

Smith2 – Streamable

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

 

These same traits are seen with Rod Smith as a pass catcher – something he does effortlessly to also help fill the void left by Elliott. Watch how quickly Smith commits to his angle up the field after catching this dump pass from Dak Prescott, attacking a defender that has the angle on him after the catch.

Rod subtly leans to the right just enough to make the defender hesitate long enough to allow his burst to evade him and gain extra yards falling forward.

Smith4 – Streamable

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

 

Smith essentially does the same thing without the ball in his hands here, on his 81 yard catch and run for a touchdown. Setting up the safety out of the slot to be beat across his face, Smith separates from him at the stem and then does a great job getting depth on his route into the vacated middle of the field. With blockers to help him reach the end zone, Smith turns this busted coverage by the Giants into the game’s biggest play.

Smith1 – Streamable

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

 

This last play I chose to show is probably the least well-blocked attempt for Smith out of the ones in this Sean’s Scout, but there is still a lot to like about what Rod does here with the ball in his hands.

The Giants might be a two-win football team, but they still have marquee players up front, particularly DE Olivier Vernon. Smith does well here to keep his feet moving as he cuts this play to the backside. Vernon does well to limit the potential gain on this play by staying away from the block of Jason Witten, as Smith is taken down by Darian Thompson.

The numbers the Giants had to commit to stopping the run was still a huge reason why Prescott had a career day throwing the football, and Rod Smith’s readiness to step in at RB was a deciding factor in getting Dallas to 7-6.

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Proving to be one of the Dallas Cowboys most valuable players, considering his cost (under contract through 2018), and ability to contribute on special teams and offense, Rod Smith is the perfect RB3 for this team.

Smith is not elite in any one area, and is not a prototypical RB from a physical standpoint, but his contributions as a runner, pass catcher, and blocker could remain critical to the Cowboys’ hopes of reaching the playoffs behind this offense – even when Ezekiel Elliott is back in the fold.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Dallas Cowboys

Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who’s The Cowboys Real RB1?

Brian Martin

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Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who's Cowboys' Real RB1?

The Dallas Cowboys are less than a week away from welcoming back their talented Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, but until then they still have a game to play against the Oakland Raiders. That means we will have one more week of Alfred Morris and Rod Smith handling the workload, but which RB is sitting at the top of the Cowboys depth chart?

Unfortunately, this is exactly the type of decision that can end up winning or losing a game. Both Alfred Morris and Rod Smith have had their moments during Ezekiel Elliott’s absence, but neither one of them have really distanced themselves from the other. So, should Rod Smith or Alfred Morris receive the majority of the workload against the Raiders Sunday?

A Case for Rod Smith

RB Rod Smith and QB Dak PrescottRod Smith might just have had is coming out party last week against the New York Giants. Against their divisional rival, in what was a must win game for the Cowboys, Smith rushed for 47 yards on six carries and added another 113 yards through the air on five catches. He also found himself in the end zone twice, once on a rushing touchdown and the other on a receiving touchdown.

You may or may not agree, but I believe that “Lightning” Rod Smith was largely responsible for igniting the Cowboys offense and helping them pull away from the Giants last Sunday. He accounted for over 160 total yards and two touchdowns by himself and didn’t receive the majority of his playing time until later in the game.

Rod Smith certainly has traits that make him a more desirable RB over Alfred Morris. First off, he is a more complete back. He is better in pass protection and at catching the ball out of the backfield. But, he is also starting to show up in the running game and is averaging 4.5 yards a carry this season. His size (6’3″, 235) also makes him a better short yardage back, although I wish he would deliver more of a blow at the end of his runs.

A Case for Alfred Morris

RB Alfred MorrisAlthough there’s nothing particularly special that stands out about Alfred Morris, he has proven time and time again he is more than capable of carrying the workload. He has received the majority of the workload during Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension and has performed pretty well. In fact, he is averaging 5 yards a carry this season, which is better than any other RB on the Cowboys roster, including Elliott.

Alfred Morris has looked pretty good this season and is playing with more of a spring in his step than I have seen from him in probably his entire career. Last Sunday against the Giants he received the the majority of the workload and finished the game with 19 carries for 62 yards. Not particularly spectacular, but the week prior he did rush for 127 yards on 27 carries in the victory over the Washington Redskins.

Like I mentioned earlier, Morris is a tried-and-true RB in the NFL and is at his best when he can continue to pound the rock and wear down opposing defenses. That is what he did against the Redskins, but he has his limitations as well. Despite his years in the league, he still struggles in pass protection and is limited in what he can do in the passing game. But, he does seem to have the trust of the Cowboys coaching staff.

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Personally, I would like to see more of Rod Smith this coming Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. I really like what I’ve seen from him in both the running game and in the passing game. I just think he is a more dangerous and versatile weapon then Alfred Morris. His presence on the field really opens up what the Cowboys can do offensively.

I don’t mean any disrespect to Alfred Morris at all. I just think that Rod Smith has proven he is a more dangerous offensive weapon of the two. I don’t know if the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff will agree or not, but I truly believe Rod Smith could once again be the X factor against the Oakland Raiders.

Of course, both Rod Smith and Alfred Morris will have to take the back seat once Ezekiel Elliott returns. So, this discussion really only has any credibility for this week in yet another must win situation against the Oakland Raiders.

Who do you like better… Rod Smith or Alfred Morris?

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La’el Collins’ Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise

Brian Martin

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La'el Collins' Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise 1

The decision by the Dallas Cowboys to move La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle was met by some skepticism by quite a few members of Cowboys Nation during the off-season. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of those skeptical of the move, but I’m not afraid to admit he has exceeded my expectations.

In all honesty, I always believed that La’el Collins’ best position in the NFL is on the interior of the offense of line as a guard. I thought he could use his strength and athleticism to his advantage when working in a phone booth against slower and less athletic defensive tackles. That’s not to say I didn’t think he would make a good right tackle, I just thought he had Pro Bowl potential as a guard.

Strangely enough, Collins has probably put together a Pro Bowl caliber season in his first season starting at the right tackle position for the Cowboys. He has become an upgrade over the previous starter Doug Free, and is really starting to earn high praise from the brass. Stephen Jones in particular has been impressed with Collins, especially considering how he has played after missing two full weeks of practice.

Mark Lane on Twitter

DallasCowboys COO Stephen Jones told @1053thefan La’el Collins has answered the bell after his contract extension.

I personally agree with everything Stephen Jones said about La’el Collins. I’ve really enjoyed watching his progression this season, but I have been really impressed how he played the last two weeks after missing so much practice.

You might not of known, but Collins has missed two full weeks of practice due to a herniated disc in his back. This is put his availability to play against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants in jeopardy, but somehow he has toughened up and played considerably well.

This unfortunately will be something he has to continue to battle through the rest of the season, but I’m not going to bet against him playing. He absolutely makes this offensive line better and I would hate to see Chaz Green or Byron Bell back on the field after the way they played as feel-ins.

La’el Collins has without a doubt earned my respect and I think it’s about time we all recognize the player he is turning into. I know the Dallas Cowboys appreciate all that he does and believe that his recent contract extension is money well spent.

What do you think about La’el Collins?

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