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Cowboys Defensive Hopes Rest in the Secondary

For the second straight off season, the Dallas Cowboys defense is receiving nothing but bad news. For a team determined to deliver a Super Bowl to offensive stars like Tony Romo, Jason Witten, and Dez Bryant, the defense the Cowboys field under Rod Marinelli fails to resemble a unit that can help this dream become a reality. Ever since Randy Gregory’s four game suspension has been set in stone, Cowboys Nation

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Defensive Hopes Rest in the Secondary 2

For the second straight off season, the Dallas Cowboys defense is receiving nothing but bad news. For a team determined to deliver a Super Bowl to offensive stars like Tony Romo, Jason Witten, and Dez Bryant, the defense the Cowboys field under Rod Marinelli fails to resemble a unit that can help this dream become a reality.

Ever since Randy Gregory‘s four game suspension has been set in stone, Cowboys Nation held their collective breath for the rest of the defense to hold up until the regular season. Instead, two more suspensions officially hit Dallas’ depleted front seven yesterday, as MLB Rolando McClain was banned for 10 games while DeMarcus Lawrence had his own 4 game suspension upheld.

If you’ve been following me to any capacity here on Inside The Star since the dreadful 2015 season, you know that I always do my absolute best to stay optimistic and hopeful towards the future of our football team. However, yesterday was simply a bad day for Dallas Cowboys’ fans, and it took some time for me to figure out where to find a glimmer of hope on the Cowboys’ defense.

Today, I’m here to tell you that – for the first time in a long time – the Cowboys secondary is a unit that you should be excited about!

In 2015, the Cowboys passing defense allowed 227.2 yards per game, which was good for the fifth lowest output in the league. While anyone that watched this team on the field knows that this number is partially attributed to opposing offenses being less inclined to throw the football, it is still an impressive mark for the unit.

Outside of Brandon Carr taking almost 100% of the team’s defensive snaps at corner this season, the rest of the starters at CB became somewhat of a revolving door. The biggest story line was the resurgence of Morris Claiborne, but players behind him like Deji Olatoye and Terrance Mitchell also saw playing time when injuries piled up.

 

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Defensive Hopes Rest in the Secondary

 

Now looking ahead to 2016, the Cowboys defensive backfield will blend experience with youthful potential. Veteran slot corner Orlando Scandrick will be back from injury, and the boost he provides to the overall confidence of this defense cannot be understated.

Carr and Claiborne are both entering their 5th season as starters in this secondary, and should realize that the opportunity they have been given would likely not come with another team.

Teams shuffle through ineffective corners all the time in order to stand a chance in the pass happy NFL, but the Dallas Cowboys have stuck with Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. Expect the two to be at their absolute best this season.

Behind these three projected starters in the Cowboys secondary is a world of potential filled by the likes of rookie Anthony Brown, Deji Olatoye, Josh Thomas, and Arjen Calhoun. From this group, Olatoye is the one guy that I will be keeping a very close eye on through training camp.

A starter for the team’s final two games of 2015, Olatoye showed some toughness to him as a willing tackler that also recorded a key interception against the Bills on the road. Doing all of this while fitting the physical mold for a Cowboys’ corner, Olatoye has a chance to be a significant part of this defense moving forward.

Anthony Brown was the Cowboys’ sixth round pick in the draft. The front office, along with many scouts and draft analysts, had a fourth round grade or better on the Purdue product – warranting some excitement for Brown to step in as early as 2016.

During OTAs and mini camp, Brown’s chances came as a slot corner. Possessing the speed necessary to play this position, Anthony Brown could serve as a valuable backup to Orlando Scandrick to start his NFL career.

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Defensive Hopes Rest in the Secondary 1

Lastly, it is worth mentioning the safety play that the Cowboys’ corners will get to play in front of. Running around permanently at free safety now is Byron Jones, who we all fell in love with in 2015. Jones’ freakish mix of length, athleticism, and football intelligence should make him a dynamic safety as he learns the position all through the preseason.

The spot across from Jones will be competed for by the likes of Barry Church, rookie Kavon Frazier, JJ Wilcox, and Jeff Heath. All four of these players allow Dallas to throw different looks at an offense, which will be incredibly important to confuse QBs that are likely going to have more time to throw.

It should absolutely be a cautious form of optimism, but the Cowboys secondary in 2016 has all the potential to perform at the level we’ve been expecting for far too long.

What are your expectations for the Cowboys passing defense in 2016? Let us know! Comment below to share your thoughts, or email me at sean.martin@insidethestar.com.

Tell us what you think about “Cowboys Defensive Hopes Rest in the Secondary” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Pleasant NJ, no we're not how you think we are. Host of "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL.

Dallas Cowboys

Can Cowboys Trust Guard Jonathan Cooper in 2018?

Jess Haynie

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Jonathan Cooper

One of the big decisions facing the Dallas Cowboys in the 2018 offseason is at left guard. Veteran Jonathan Cooper started 13 games last year and is now a free agent. Should Dallas bring Cooper back, or should they look elsewhere for next season’s starter?

With a lot of money already being spent on the rest of the starting offensive line, the Cowboys need a bargain at left guard. They didn’t re-sign Ronald Leary in 2017 for that very reason, hoping Cooper or Chaz Green would be able to handle the job for a fraction of what Leary got from the Denver Broncos.

Cooper took over for Green in Week 4 and held the job the rest of the season. The Cowboys rushing attack remained one of the league’s best, even performing well later in the year when Ezekiel Elliott was suspended. It looked like Jonathan could become part of future plans.

However, in Week 17, Cooper went out of the game with a knee injury. It thankfully wasn’t serious and he is expected to be ready for 2018. However, it was a reminder of the injury-plagued past that has caused the former first-round pick so much trouble.

Jonathan Cooper

Dallas Cowboys Guard Jonathan Cooper

Taken seventh overall in 2013 by the Arizona Cardinals, Jonathan Cooper was one of the true blue-chip guard prospects in recent draft history. He seemed like a can’t-miss pick, and interior linemen don’t often go that high in the draft. The Cowboys have even said they coveted Cooper in that class.

But constant battles with injuries caused Cooper to be traded, released, and discarded by the Cardinals, New England Patriots, and Cleveland Browns over his first four seasons. While 2017 was looking like a turning point for him, Jonathan’s injury in the season finale was a sobering reminder of why he’s become a bargain-bin player.

Still, at just 28-years-old, Cooper has good years left and will now have another offseason for continuity and chemistry development with the Cowboys.

Dallas should have to pay more than a few million to keep Cooper on the roster.

If Dallas is leery (no pun intended) of Cooper, they will have options. La’el Collins could move back to the guard position, allowing the Cowboys to go find either the best guard or tackle who would fit with their existing group.

Given so many other considerations this offseason, Dallas will likely try to simplify things by giving Jonathan Cooper another chance. His history is a red flag, but sometimes you have to take those gambles and save salary cap space to handle other needs.

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Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Headlines - Forget the Triplets: Cowboys Need The Underrated to Shine in 2016
Ashley Landis / The Dallas Morning News

For better or worse, the Cowboys don’t even need to play football to be all over national TV. I guess it’s just part of being the one and only America’s Team. For the second consecutive week, Fox Sports had a Dallas Cowboys’ player on set for Fox’s “Undisputed.”

Just a week ago, Brice Butler made waves with some controversial comments that failed to make him look like a “great teammate.”

This time, Fox’s guest was Cowboys’ Cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Unlike Butler, I really think we should give Scandrick credit for being a very good teammate, and acting like one on his TV appearance.

Throughout the segment, it feels as if Orlando is being tricked into saying something against his teammates. Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe start bashing on Dez Bryant‘s performance and the fact that he should be replaced.

Of course, this is the kind of stuff fans in Cowboys Nation are thinking about. Heck, I really wouldn’t even mind if Dez isn’t wearing a star next season. However, I really disliked Butler’s comments when asked if he would’ve done a better job if given the same opportunities as Dez.

Scandrick’s responses were awesome though. When asked if he would defend Dez, he didn’t even hesitate.

“I don’t think he’s lost any confidence. He’s one of the most confident players I’ve ever been around. I think it can all be fixed. I think he just needs to get back to work and get back to the basics.” – Orlando Scandrick on Dez Bryant.

Scandrick also answered questions about what went wrong with the Cowboys this season by pointing out the fact they lost one of their best players because of a suspension, and some injuries. But he also said what’s been in our minds for a long time. When asked what was the biggest reason they struggled, he said some painful, yet truthful words: “We played some bad football against some very good teams.”

Later, he was asked about how Sean Lee’s absence affected the defense, he insisted they didn’t step up. At the end of the day, the NFL is a league in which you can’t be that dependent on a single player.

Sean Lee is an awesome player, but I think we’d all like to see this defense be a little less dependent on him.

Scandrick even had to defend Dak Prescott.

Dak was highly criticized after a sophomore season in which he struggled, alongside the entire team. But in the words of Orlando, we should “give him time.” Dak had a lot on his plate, but he made a lot of progress for the Cowboys.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Orlando Scandrick’s time in Dallas may be coming to an end, especially with young guys like Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis taking over. He’s signed through 2019, so who knows; maybe we see him wearing the star for a bit longer.

“It’s always a possibility.” – Orlando Scandrick on potentially not returning to Dallas next season.

Even still, it’s nice to see him support his football team and his friends on a show which featured a non-starting Cowboys’ wide receiver taking shots against his team. Orlando Scandrick deserves an applause.

Tell me what you think about “Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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Dallas Cowboys

Should Cowboys Pursue Veteran Backup at Quarterback?

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys en Español: Cooper Rush
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys only have two quarterbacks under contract right now, starter Dak Prescott and backup Cooper Rush. With only three years of combined experience between them, one could argue that a veteran presence would be useful. Should Dallas make a veteran QB a free-agent priority in the 2018 offseason?

Of course, there’s plenty of other QB experience on the Cowboys staff. Head Coach Jason Garrett played professionally from 1989-2004, and started his coaching career with quarterbacks.

Scott Linehan has been coaching offense with an emphasis on the passing game for 30 years.

Kellen Moore, who is taking over for the departed Wade Wilson as quarterbacks coach, has played very recently and will bring a fresh perspective.

However, losing Wilson’s experience from the room, and the lack of any veteran player at QB, shouldn’t be dismissed.

Dak Prescott has said veteran Mark Sanchez — who was with Dallas in 2016 — was a major help during his whirlwind rookie season. Tony Romo enjoyed veteran advice from guys like Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, and Kyle Orton throughout his playing career.

This isn’t to say Dallas would want to bring in a veteran to knock Cooper Rush down the depth chart. After a surprising preseason, Rush took the backup job from Kellen Moore and certainly has intriguing upside.

If the Cowboys were to add a veteran, that player would have to come in with the understanding he’s competing with Cooper and may not be guaranteed a job.

The good news is that it’ll be a buyer’s market for veteran quarterbacks this offseason.

Guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, and Matt Moore could all be available. Even a player with more pedigree, such as Sam Bradford, may have trouble finding starting work with many jobs taken among the NFL’s 32 teams.

Dallas could even consider bringing back Mark Sanchez, given his previous relationship with Dak Prescott. He only had a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

Given Prescott’s seeming durability, Dallas will likely only keep two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in 2018 and for years to come. Because of that, they may be content to focus on Dak and Cooper Rush, and just get through the offseason with training camp bodies.

However, the case can certainly be made for adding another veteran player with the desire to teach to help these young quarterbacks develop. Prescott was not the same guy in 2017 that we saw as a rookie, and perhaps the absence of guys like Sanchez and Tony on the sideline had something to do with that.

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