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Cowboys Defensive Back Questions Still Need Answers

John Williams



Byron Jones
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys defense took a step forward in 2017, and in the process they answered several questions. They found a “war daddy” in DeMarcus Lawrence, something that’s been missing since DeMarcus Ware left for the Denver Broncos. Lawrence finished tied for second with Calais Campbell in sacks with 14.5, and made the NFL All-Pro Second Team.

We got to see Jaylon Smith answer questions about his health all season long. Smith appears to be trending in the right direction, both in his health and his performance on the field.

The plan to rebuild the secondary seems to be on the right track as they’ve found a couple of aggressive corners in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. They have the look of a dynamic duo that will be impact players on this team for a long, long time.

Kavon Frazier has been a revelation. The thumper at the safety position is something that's been missing for the Dallas Cowboys since Roy Williams.

However, questions still remain about a defense that carried this team at times, and looked like the Rob Ryan and Monte Kiffin defenses of yesteryear at other times.

To me the biggest questions in the secondary revolve around Byron Jones and Xavier Woods.

Cowboys en Español: Proyectando el Roster de 53 Jugadores 2

Dallas Cowboys S Byron Jones (James D. Smith via AP)

Where do Byron Jones and Xavier Woods Fit?

Byron Jones has been a popular whipping boy for Cowboys Nation. Some of that has been accurate, but he's not as bad as social media would have you believe.

He’s been sticky in coverage, especially against tight ends, throughout his career, but in 2017 it seemed like he was shying away from tackling a bit too much. He still has that tremendous athleticism and coverage ability that warranted a first-round pick, but the question remains: What is his best position?

After playing where needed his rookie season, the Cowboys coaching staff moved him to safety for the last couple of years with mixed results.

As stated, he’s been pretty good in coverage and made some incredible plays on the ball, even if he’s lacking the interception numbers. The problem comes, in my opinion, when he’s asked to make tackles in space, which is an important aspect of being a safety.

Many have begun to wonder if Dallas would be best served moving Jones back to corner.

As a cornerback, Jones would be able to use his athleticism and coverage skills against the bigger wide receivers in the league, but not be asked to make as many tackles in the middle of the field against running backs and tight ends.

They can still bring him in against some of the better tight ends in the league. We already know the Cowboys will face Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles, Jordan Reed of the Washington Redskins, and Evan Engram of the New York Giants for a total of six games in 2018.

Dallas will also face the likes of Michael Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Alshon Jeffrey and Marvin Jones, who are bigger more athletic wide receivers who could require a man of Byron's skill.

It will be interesting to see what they do with Byron this offseason.

Where Will Dallas Cowboys Search For "Fresh Ideas" Begin? 3

Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis, CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB/S Xavier Woods (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

The same question applies to Xavier Woods, but not because he struggled. He was actually quite good as the slot corner throughout much of his rookie season.

Woods primarily played safety in his time at Louisiana Tech, and showed an ability to be the deep middle safety. Because of injuries to the cornerback group, Woods lined up as the slot corner for a lot of his snaps.

He played well there for Dallas, leaving many to wonder if he hasn’t earned the role of third cornerback. That may be a good fit, but it’s not typical to see a guy who was primarily a safety in college become a corner in the NFL.

I'd rather see him as a full-time safety.

With Woods at safety, Dallas can stay in their base defense when teams go to three wide receiver formations, especially on early downs or in situations where a run is just as likely. He can drop down from the safety spot to play in the slot, if -- and it's a big if -- you trust your single-high safety.

Woods' ability to cover in the slot allows you to stay competitive against the run, which was a struggle for Dallas.

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We’ve seen how the yo-yo game between positions can affect a player's technique and mentality. Chaz Green wasn’t the same player in 2017 when asked to prepare as both a guard and a tackle, as opposed to 2016 when he strictly played tackle.

In my opinion, it would be to the Dallas Cowboys interest to move Byron Jones back to cornerback full-time, and move Woods to safety.

When you decide to go to your nickel package, Chidobe Awuzie and Jones play the outside with Jourdan Lewis moving to the middle. Or you bring Jones in to cover the tight end, leave Lewis and Awuzie on the outside, and drop Woods into the slot and play cover 1.

What do you think?

Where do Byron Jones and Xavier Woods fit best on this team?

I didn't start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I've now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America's Team.

  • Albert Smith

    I agree with this because I’ve been saying for the past couple of years that BJ should be moved back to corner and a specialist in situations that call for it.

    • John Williams

      While I’m a huge fan of the coaching staff, I think they get a little to creative with their players and love the idea of position flexibility a bit too much.

    • EverybodyTalks

      I agree. You look at Byron and he has the speed (22.1 mph clocked), 6’1″ and a little over 200lbs. He played CB in college. He’s got jumps – this is way to easy. Make him a cornerback and draft a Safety..smh!

      • John Williams

        Yeah man. He has some good matchup ability in man coverage. Hopefully the DC’s will see the need and make it happen.

  • MLV

    The best secondary would be Awuzie,Lewis CB, Jones FS, Frazier SS, Woods nickel!

    • John Williams

      I don’t mind it, because I like Jones’ ability to cover deep, but his best ability has been in man against big athletic pass catchers. I’d rather see them put him where he can excel more frequently.

      • EverybodyTalks

        Agreed. Plus, as a 1st rounder, we can extend him for a 5th year. We did it for Mo and Byron has more upside.

        • John Williams

          No doubt. If he shows out at CB this year, I wouldn’t hesitate. He has some ability at S, but could be much better given his size on the outside. They’re going to have their hands full with the NFC South WRs next year.

        • John Williams

          I think this will be an important season for Byron. I think he’s yet to fully hit his stride.

  • Travis Diggs

    Where these two fit really depends on what they do with Orlando Scandrick and Marquez White in the off season. I believe White should of made the roster early on over Carroll, he’s a big physical corner who played well in preseason. Scandrick being injured showed us what the future looks like without him, he might get cut or they keep him, who knows. The better two safeties out of the four on the roster is Byron Jones and Xavier Woods so it really depends on roster moves they make this spring

    • John Williams

      I think Scandrick is gone. Age and injury have him out the door. White, will have an opportunity to earn a roster spot this offseason. Hard to go into a season like 2017 with approximately 40% of your DB depth chart made up of rookies.

  • Nick Green

    Ive been arguing this all season.
    Heath is more of deep middle (free) than box safety (strong) & Frazier was really good in box late in season… Rotate Woods in both spots with those 2. He looked ok as a slot CB, but I remember Crowder from Redskins & Shepherd from Giants running free thru the secondary when Woods was slot CB. We probably lose that Wash game if Crowder wasn’t fumbling all game.
    BJ is a CB, he moves like one & is best in man converage because he looks lost in zone at times (Jared Cook ring a bell)… Put him & Chido outside with their size & athleticism & put Lewis in the slot. Let AB be primary backup in slot & See if White has improved enough to be 5th CB

    • John Williams

      Shepard and Crowder are two of the better slots in the league. This is why I want to see Woods moved to safety and Jones to Corner. Puts them at their best spots when the team goes to nickel.

  • Letstalk Aboutit

    While Jones hasn’t been bad he definitely need to get better. All of this talk about moving Jones to corner but 1 thing seems to be missing, the name of Scandrick. If we have Jones, Awuzie and Lewis all playing a starting or highly important role, where does that leave Orlando Scandrick. I know I have heard the rumors, however he isn’t gone yet and we Cowboys fans and the majority of the media don’t even mention him. For a player who has given his heart and soul for this team and made some huge plays for us I just felt like he deserved to be mentioned.

    • John Williams

      Scandrick is likely gone, mo. His age and injuries make him unreliable at this point. Even when on the field, he was struggling a bit. Scandrick has been great for this team, but it’s time to move on.

      • Letstalk Aboutit

        In no way do I disagree with you, I just want to give recognition to a man who has done a great job for the Cowboys organization. People act like they can’t even acknowledge him and what he has meant to us as Cowboys fans. I for 1 just wanted to mention him as a way of saying thank you. Orlando Scandrick deserves that.

        • John Williams

          Absolutely. Scan has been a warrior and has far exceeded the fifth round draft choice he was. He’s a Cowboy through and through in the same way that DeMarcus Ware is. His ability to lock down the slot and then push into the starting lineup was awesome. Made moving on from Carr and Claiborne that much easier.

  • Jason Wagner

    I think you did a great job breaking this down and I agree with your conclusions, however this would require drafting another Safety in the top 2-3 picks….which we need to do regardless.

    • EverybodyTalks

      True. Derwin James and Ronnie Harrison in.the 1st. Marcus Allen and Jordan Whitehead in the 2nd. DeShon Elliot and Armani Watts in the 3rd. Just some of the ones that we would welcome into the backfield.

    • John Williams

      Since we need to draft a safety, there are going to be options in the first three rounds to make it happen. Even if we don’t draft a safety, I’d be cool rolling with Woods, Heath, Frazier and a veteran option and putting Jones at CB. Put players in the best position to succeed.

  • Terry Jones

    Exactly why I been saying we don’t need to draft a corner. Jones and awuzie outside Lewis in the slot. Woods in the nickle with Frazier back there thumping

    • John Williams

      Bring it on. I continue to get a sense that a veteran splash could occur if Earl Thomas somehow becomes available.

  • Wayne A Caddell Jr

    John Williams,
    In today’s NFL, you have to have 3 good CBs. Which is why I like the Dallas Cowboys offensive scheme. It’s still old school smash mouth.
    And I am not one of those who believe Jason Garrett is the problem. If people would examine both Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson, Landry didn’t even have a .500 winning percentage in 5 years of being HC, and Jimmy Johnson had an Ace in the hole (Herschel Walker) and a gullible team (Minnesota), and how he played it so Dallas could aquire draft picks. Because Minnesota didn’t believe Dallas would cut the players they received in the trade or they would not have made the trade. So JJ played poker, not revealing his true intentions. Jimmy Johnson got extremely lucky. Even after the trade, it took him 3 more years just to make a wildcard game (Detroit, which they lost, Detroit played Washington but lost, Washington goes to the Super Bowl and beats the Buffalo Bills).
    If people really want to know what’s happening here, it’s just like shortly after Jimmy Johnson traded Walker. Dallas went 1-15 in 89, 7-9 in 90, 11-5 in 91. And Jimmy Johnson didn’t have a salary cap in his way either. He could sign and fire every day he wanted without salary cap penalties. When Garrett took over, the offensive line was old, slow and injured prone. He can only do so much in a single draft but he’s done an excellent job because Jerry Jones has been held at bay. After getting Dallas competitive again, DeMarco Murray stabs Dallas in the back after Dallas stuck by him in spite of being injured and not able to play much during his first few years after being drafted. He signs with Philadelphia, Dallas could not match it because of the salary cap that Jerry Jones has screwed up for over a decade. I’ll give you that it’s not been very pretty, but Jason Garrett is not the problem in Dallas. Dallas has to build through the draft because they’re still in Salary Cap Hell. They couldn’t sign a good free agent if they wanted to because they don’t have the cap space to do so. What Garrett and the staff has done a very good job considering what they have to work with. Dallas had to take a step back because alot of experience wasn’t resigned. Again because they couldn’t afford to. And until more salary gets written off the books, hopefully in the next 3 years, then Dallas can be spenders again. Jerry Jones should be out of the picture at this time to be able to screw up anything else. But these rookies showed good fight, potential and you could just tell they hate to lose. I see Doomsday on the rise very soon.

Player News

Cowboys Trade for FB Jamize Olawale from Raiders

Jess Haynie



Jamize Olawale, Raiders

Less than a week after the Cowboys lost fullback Keith Smith to the Raiders in free agency, the two teams have worked out a trade to send FB Jamize Olawale from Oakland to Dallas.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Fullback trade! The #Raiders are sending FB Jamize Olawale to the #Cowboys, sources say. Dallas has its fullback, one who was with Oakland since 2012.

To facilitate the trade, the Cowboys will send their fifth-round pick (173rd overall) to the Raiders for their sixth-round pick (192nd), moving back just 19 spots.

In return, Dallas not only brings in a veteran replacement at FB but a player they already know.

Jamize Olawale was an undrafted rookie free agent of the Cowboys in 2012. Despite a strong showing in that preseason, Dallas did not have room for him on the roster. He was on the team's practice squad until December, when Oakland poached him.

Since then, Olawale has been a regular roleplayer in the Raiders' offense. He's missed just six games since 2013.

Jamize brings more offensive firepower to the FB position than Keith Smith had. He's scored at least one touchdown in each of the last three seasons. He can be effective both running and receiving.

Through the trade, Dallas picks up the final year of Olawale's current contract. It calls for a $1.5 million base salary in 2018.

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Player News

Dallas Cowboys to Re-Sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for 2018

Sean Martin



Dallas Cowboys to Re-Sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladoucer for 2018 1

Continuity is the key to good special teams play in the NFL. Already losing long-time Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia to the Raiders - who promptly snatched ST aces Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber in free agency - the Dallas Cowboys have announced their intentions to re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for the 2018 season.

Returning on a one-year deal, the fan favorite Ladouceur will be back to do what he does best in cleanly executing almost every special teams snap for Chris Jones or Dan Bailey to handle.

Todd Archer on Twitter

Long snapper L.P. Ladouceur will re-sign with the Cowboys on Monday, according to sources, on a one-year deal. He will be in his 14th season with the franchise. Only Jason Witten, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Bill Bates and Mark Tuinei will have more years of...

While Jones has improved as the Cowboys' punter with each passing season, Kicker Dan Bailey actually enters 2018 as another question mark on this unit. With the general belief around the team being that Bailey will be just fine moving forward, the Cowboys will no longer have to worry about who handles long snaps next year either.

Dallas Cowboys to Re-Sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladoucer for 2018

Dallas Cowboys LS L.P. Ladouceur

L.P. Ladouceur is back in the silver and blue, and in this moment, everything can be alright with the world.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys to Re-Sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for 2018" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Player News

Report: Raiders Sign Former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber

Kevin Brady



Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys Re-Sign Linebacker Kyle Wilber

A Free Agency period filled with departures continued for the Dallas Cowboys today, as the Oakland Raiders have reportedly signed the now-former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber.


The Raiders have signed LB Kyle Wilber:

Wilber has been with the Cowboys since 2012, and has played in all 16 games four of the past five seasons. Most of his time has come on special teams, but he did provide solid linebacker depth for the Cowboys since joining the team.

Dallas has now lost both Wilber and Anthony Hitchens, depleting their linebacker depth even further over the last couple weeks.

The Raiders have now signed two key special teams contributors for the Cowboys in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber this offseason. Hopefully Dallas can replace these types of "replacement level" players throughout the rest of the offseason, especially during the NFL Draft.

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