Cuando la ofensiva de los Dallas Cowboys tome el campo el 9 de Septiembre en Carolina, la ausencia de Jason Witten en la alineación será un golpe duro para los aficionados del Equipo de América. El retiro del legendario #82 se anunció hace meses, pero el hueco que dejará en el equipo no será fácil de sustituir.
En una ofensiva que de por sí verá muchísimos cambios en la posición de wide receiver esta próxima temporada, Dak Prescott tendrá que lanzarle el balón a un grupo de tight ends con muy poca experiencia.
Por más que Jason Witten pertenezca al Salón de la Fama debido a su histórica carrera en la NFL, no es un secreto que en sus últimos años, su producción fue en decline. Simple y sencillamente no era el mismo jugador que una vez fue, pero seguía siendo las manos más seguras en el equipo y seguía participando de una manera efectiva.
Incluso con dicho decline en su producción, el grupo de jóvenes que intentará llenar sus zapatos este año no será una mejora. La posición de TE es una de las posiciones más preocupantes en el roster de los Dallas Cowboys. Incluso se podría decir que es la más preocupante de todas.
Echemos un vistazo a los jugadores de esta posición que actualmente están buscando un puesto en el roster.
#87 Geoff Swaim
Es muy temprano para decir quien será el titular a lo largo de la temporada, pero hasta ahora es justo asumir que el ala cerrada en control será Geoff Swaim. De todos, es el que más experiencia tiene con 28 juegos en tres temporadas.
Detrás de Witten, Swaim sólo ha logrado conseguir nueve recepciones para 94 yardas. Swaim es bueno bloqueando y esa la razón clave por la cual podría ganarse la titularidad al inicio de la temporada. Igualmente, demostró consistencia como receptor en las pocas oportunidades que tuvo.
#86 Dalton Schultz
Producto de la universidad de Stanford, Schultz puede ser la selección más subestimada de los Cowboys este NFL Draft. Es difícil imaginar al novato de cuarta ronda ganarse el puesto para iniciar la temporada, pero sin duda puede contender por ella muy pronto.
Para la ofensiva de Dallas, bloquear es fundamental y Schultz es muy bueno haciéndolo. Pero además de eso, es bueno con sus manos. No me sorprendería ver a Schultz con un rol importante una vez comenzada la campaña.
#89 Blake Jarwin
Quizá el nombre menos conocido por los aficionados, pero uno que sin duda los coaches tienen muy en mente. Se sabe que el equipo de coaches le tiene cariño desde el año pasado, cuando estando en la escuadra de prácticas de Dallas, los Philadelphia Eagles se empezaron a interesar por el joven de 23 años.
Para evitar que el equipo rival se lo llevará, los Cowboys rápidamente lo promovieron al roster. Jarwin ha tenido un buen training camp y siendo que Swaim tiene experiencia y Schultz el potencial, creo que la pelea en la posición es entre Jarwin y Gathers... lo cual nos lleva al elefante en la habitación.
#80 Rico Gathers
Gathers es uno de los jugadores más controversiales en el equipo. Al momento de ser seleccionado, la esperanza es que fuera una historia épica de un jugador cuya primera experiencia de football americano sería en la NFL.
Su cuerpo y su atletismo prometían mucho pero después de dos años sin estar en el roster, la emoción ha muerto un poco. Gathers puede ser una amenaza en el juego aéreo, pero sus problemas al bloquear pueden ser más que suficiente para dejarlo fuera del equipo.
Como receptor, Gathers puede ser el mejor del grupo. La pregunta será si su desarrollo ha sido lo suficientemente bueno para ganarse un puesto en el roster. Tendrá que ganárselo.
Tanto Geoff Swaim como Dalton Schultz parecen tener los puestos más seguros en el equipo. Uno por su experiencia, otro por su potencial. Si los Cowboys deciden cargar con sólo tres tight ends, me parece que el jugador cortado será o Jarwin o Gathers.
También es posible, a pesar de que sería una sorpresa, que el equipo decida arriesgarse y cargar con los cuatro. Porque si Dallas intenta que Gathers termine en su escuadra de prácticas, lo más probable es que otro equipo en la liga se arriesgue llevándoselo a un roster.
Starters Make Cowboys Serious Contenders, But Depth is a Concern
Playing in the National Football Conference, the Dallas Cowboys have a difficult task ahead of them if they are to be serious Super Bowl contenders. Even still, they've become a very underrated football team due to their 9-7 record last season. The Cowboys struggled in many areas and with the Philadelphia Eagles crowned as Super Bowl Champions, everyone has forgotten about America's Team.
2017 was an awful year for the Cowboys. It seemed like a roller coaster of success, putting up an impressive performance one week only to disappoint the next one. Let's be honest with ourselves here and talk about what really ended the Cowboys' last season.
As much as we talk about how there shouldn't be any excuses in football - the Eagles made a huge statement by winning it all with a backup QB and other key starters missing - we can't deny the impact of these injuries.
Anthony Hitchens, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott all missed some time last year, affecting the team's performance week in and week out. Had the starters been healthy, the truth is this team would've been in the playoffs.
Heading into 2018, the Cowboys will face a very similar situation. This year, starters make Dallas a serious contender. Even if they're playing in a conference that will feature a lot of quality teams, the Cowboys are a team that could beat any team in the league if healthy.
Even the dreaded wide receiver position - which has been famous this offseason for the lack of a #1 receiver - won't be as bad as we make it out to be starter-wise. A starting trio of Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Cole Beasley doesn't really sound bad.
Heck, not even Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods starting at safety is concerning. They have what it takes to be decent starters. Sure, Heath isn't a guy who will make the Pro Bowl, but his skills will show on the field once the season starts in September.
The Cowboys' starters will do just fine this season. If the team's fate is up to them, they are in a very good spot. The same can not be said about depth, though.
Except for the defensive line, every other position lacks depth. If Sean Lee goes down, the linebackers stop looking like a three-headed monster. Same goes for the cornerbacks. Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis seem like a good group but as soon as one of them suffers an injury, the Cowboys will be in trouble.
We're in for an exciting season with a lot of young talent waiting to breakout. The Cowboys are underrated this year. They may not be among the NFC's favorites, but they truly have what it takes to replicate the success they had in 2016. However, it seems like circumstances have to be ideal for them to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy.
With a little bit of luck, they'll bounce back this season.
The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up
Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.
The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.
As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.
Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.
Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.
Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.
Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.
I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.
All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.
How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?
Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?
With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.
Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.
I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.
I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?
Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.
Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.
Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.
Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.
Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?
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