Well, all the big name defensive line talent seems to be gone. While I'm not happy about that, I think the Cowboys deserve the credit from us to believe they have a plan here.
Obviously defensive line is the major priority right now, but talent at other positions in free agency is greater right now so I will talk about both.
When it comes to defensive line attention must now turn to creative waves. There is no premiere rusher left that will get you in the teens of sacks. Instead, the Cowboys can look to add several talents that fit the bill to give teams a long list of players to have to game plan for.
Nick Perry is my favorite defensive lineman left. Behind him you have Robert Ayers, but it seems as if he will be signed elsewhere shortly. Behind that you have guys like Chris Long, O'Brien Schofield, Jeremy Mincey, Quinton Coples, George Selvie, Bjoern Werner, Aldon Smith and Junior Galette.
If the Cowboys want to put together even a decent defensive line they have to sign at least one of these players.
Keep in mind these are all defensive ends. The NFL Draft has tons of defensive tackle talent. Cedric Thornton is meeting with the Cowboys today and would be a nice Nick Hayden improvement as a 1-technique. Thornton would be able to use his strength to control the running game and hold blocks to free up Tyrone Crawford. It is at defensive end where the draft is barren, so I put a premium on that position in free agency.
Nick Perry is only 25 years old and a former first round pick by the Green Bay Packers. He has been productive, but may be a little undersized for a 4-3 defensive end. Regardless, he has experience at the position from college and could be a nice get for the Cowboys.
Aldon Smith would be a nice grab as well that is a little under the radar. Smith was one of the best pass rushers in the NFL before his off-the-field concerns clouded his talent. Smith received a one year ban in November of 2015, so he won't be eligible until then, but he should be had for close to nothing and would be some late season reinforcement. He'd also come without the PR nightmare that Hardy would come with.
The Cowboys will almost definitely add a rookie into that mix and David Irving will probably also get more defensive end snaps. Expect Ryan Russell to be a bigger name this year as well.
Where the Cowboys can actually add some impact is in the secondary.
You start with Eric Weddle who's name is starting to gain a little traction with the Cowboys.
Weddle was one of the game's premier defensive talents in the not too distant future. A poor 2015 season by his standards plus his age have some down on him.
I think Weddle would make a lot of sense in Dallas. He is the consummate professional football player. He eats and sleeps football and gets it mentally better than most do.
You can play Weddle at safety with Byron Jones and if Jalen Ramsey is available at 4 and should be the pick, can do so with Ramsey as well. This would give you the ability to get creative.
Weddle can play solo-safety with Jones and Ramsey walking down to corner. Weddle can play with Jones or Ramsey at safety. You can mix it up all game long.
The most important part is while you get a couple good years from Weddle, you also get him to help Jones and potentially Ramsey to become great safeties as well.
The same idea from a technical standpoint could be said for Tony Jefferson instead of Eric Weddle. Jefferson plays a great strong safety and would make for a good player to compliment Byron Jones or potentially Jalen Ramsey at safety.
Then there is Walter Thurmond who basically gives you another player in the Byron Jones and Jalen Ramsey mold, though much less athletic. Thurmond can play a real serious safety but also has experience at cornerback. This would allow the Cowboys to get even more creative.
There are plenty of options remaining at cornerback if the Cowboys do want someone there.
Between Morris Claiborne, Casey Heyward, Prince Amukamara, Patrick Robinson and Brandon Boykin, there are definitely options.
Nolan Carroll is visiting the Cowboys today and fits the bill of what they're looking for in a cornerback. He is tall and long and for the most part has had good health. Carroll was putting together a nice 2015 for the Eagles before suffering a season ending ankle injury.
There are plenty of options left for the Dallas Cowboys to have put together a nice offseason. I know many are upset about what they have done, but it is a good thing that they are not shelling out tons of money for some of these players. The staff has shown the ability to find players who fit what they're looking for late in free agency and the coaching staff has proven the ability to get production out of these players.
The Cowboys cap situation is clear right now, but it can be extremely healthy in the coming years. By not overpaying good players, they will be able to re-sign some of these offensive linemen and could be in the position to land great players in the future.
There are still talented players left and the Cowboys should be able to get some real bargains. This isn't over yet, so don't panic!
Think back to 2014. The year the Cowboys went 12-4 and won a Playoff game. Believe in them. They deserve it.
Todd Gurley Leaps Ezekiel Elliott on NFL Rushing Leaderboard
After several weeks as the NFL's rushing leader, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has been bumped to second place. With a 208-yard explosion last week against the Broncos, Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams has leaped Zeke on the leaderboard.
Elliott was no slouch himself in Week 6, putting up 106 yards on the vaunted Jaguars defense. But Gurley nearly doubled that in Denver, and now leads Zeke by 37 yards.
Here are the current NFL rushing leaders, :
- Todd Gurley, Rams - 623 yards
- Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys - 586 yards
- Melvin Gordon, Chargers - 466 yards
- Kareem Hunt, Chiefs - 456 yards
- James Conner, Steelers - 453 yards
- Saquon Barkley, Giants - yards
- Matt Breida, 49ers - 430 yards
- Isaiah Crowell, Jets - 430 yards
- Sony Michel, Patriots - 400 yards
It's still early in 2018, but it's already starting to look like a two-horse race for the rushing title. And it's no surprise that those two would be Elliott and Gurley.
Last year, Zeke and Todd were the top two in the NFL for yards-per-game. Gurley missed one game that year and finished second in total yards behind Kareem Hunt. Elliott was held back by his suspension.
Week 7 could allow Elliott to retake the lead. He'll see a Washington defense that he ran for 150 yards on last season in a single game. However, they are currently sixth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed.
Gurley gets a slightly softer opponent in the 49ers defense, who are just 13th in run defense. Both games will be on the road.
While these stats certainly aren't as important as wins and losses, they do matter to the players. Rushing titles come back into the conversation when Hall of Fame credentials are being considered.
If things stay at their current pace for Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley, we may be tracking this race all the way through the end of the regular season.
Michael Gallup Showing Signs of a Breakout
We're only six games into the career of Rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup who was selected 81st overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2018 NFL Draft. It's been a slow start to his career, mostly because of usage. On Sunday, he took a step toward what many thought he could be for the Cowboys when he was drafted; Wide receiver one.
The numbers, one reception on two targets for 27 yards, may not indicate a breakout is coming, but if you look at the two targets he saw and the quality of the corner he faced, they're more impressive.
Look at this catch by #Cowboys rookie WR Michael Gallup https://t.co/lD1xJ2WemD
On the Dallas Cowboys first drive of the day, Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott looked Michael Gallup's way down the left sideline and hit him on a nice back shoulder fade that looked an awful lot like a Dez Bryant-like contested catch. It was a key play on 3rd-and-9 to get the Dallas Cowboys into Jacksonville territory on a drive that led to a Brett Maher field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Later in the game with the Cowboys driving to score a touchdown, Gallup made a tremendous catch when he got perfect depth behind All-Pro Corner Back A.J. Bouye and in front of the safety help. It looked to be an impressive touchdown catch just inside the end zone, but was overturned on replay. On review, Gallup wasn't able to get his second foot down after he made contact with the defender. Though the touchdown didn't stand, it was an impressive effort for Michael Gallup.
Michael Gallup with a near circus catch to ALMOST haul in his first NFL TD. Ruled incomplete. #cowboys #jags @CSUFootball https://t.co/SePSc3n1Yp
Michael Gallup led the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver group in snaps (81% of the offensive snaps) on Sunday, and according to Mike Clay from ESPN, he led the Dallas Cowboys in routes run as well. Both of Gallup's targets came against Bouye, showing an ability to beat one of the best corners in the NFL.
Michael Gallup paced the Cowboys in pass routes (25) for the first time in his career on Sunday.
As Michael Gallup sees more opportunities to play, his opportunities to make plays are going to continue to grow. With news coming down that Tavon Austin is unlikely to play for several weeks because of a groin injury, more snaps are opening up at the wide receiver position. Tavon played 18 snaps before getting injured on Sunday, so there will be increased opportunities for Gallup moving forward.
Gallup's only seen about 3 targets a game, but with the increased snaps he saw in week six and the potential for even more with Austin coming, the opportunities should grow. As he continues to come down with impressive catches like he did on Sunday (even if only one of them counted), it's going to increase Dak Prescott's and the coaching staff's level of trust in the rookie.
It's safe to say that more big time catches are coming for Michael Gallup and a breakout is coming sooner than later.
Takeaway Tuesday: Cole Beasley is Your Interim WR1
Watching the Dallas Cowboys beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 40-7 was undoubtedly fun for Cowboys Nation. There were not many positive expectations for the Cowboys heading into this game but both the defense and offense put on impressive performances at home in an attempt to remain serious contenders within the NFC East.
We learned a few things about the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday as they beat one of the top defenses in the NFL. Let's talk about in this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday!
Cole Beasley Is Your Interim WR1
The Cowboys have yet to find their #1 wide receiver, but Cole Beasley is making a serious statement looking like the most reliable target in Dallas. Being 5'8 and a slot receiver doesn't really help Beasley's case to be the #1 guy, but he's making plays.
Last Sunday, he was the only wide receiver on the team with more than one catch. The other player with more than one reception was Geoff Swaim, who only got his hands on the ball twice. Beasley finished the day with nine receptions for 101 yards and two touchdown catches. The Cowboys need other WRs to step up but in the meantime, let Beasley put the sauce on opposing defenses. Hopefully he continues to hurt defenses like he did versus the Jaguars' feared secondary.
The team still needs a guy who can be a consistent threat on the outside, though. Third-round rookie Michael Gallup could develop into that, but he isn't there yet. We'll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, it's all Beasley.
Bright Future for the Defensive Line
Blake Bortles was sacked three times by the so-called "Hot Boyz" last weekend. To be quite honest, the future for this defensive line looks brightest than it ever has. The return of Maliek Collins and David Irving to the field were desperately needed for this defense to take the next step. Collins and Irving were somewhat limited, but their snap counts will surely increase as the season continues.
A lot of little details went into this sack from Maliek Collins. From his alignment pre-snap to his timing on the spin, it was a beautiful display of rushing the passer by @SavageSevv. https://t.co/CYcfLH6AfB
Randy Gregory also got limited snaps versus the Jaguars, but he was able to make an impact either way. He finished the day with one sack, two hits and one QB hurry. I can't wait until these guys' snaps increase. This should be a very scary unit for opposing quarterbacks.
Dak Prescott's Stats Don't Reflect His Performance
The Jaguars are the best defense this team has faced and yet it's been the offense's best performance. Dak Prescott's passing stats may not look great, but his play was. Even though he failed to cross the 200 yard mark on the air, he rushed for 82 yards and kept Jacksonville's defense honest. Dak has faced a lot of criticism this year and will likely continue to do so.
Even still, we've seen him ball out on various occasions now. Dak can play. He may not be an elite passer, in fact he's far from being that, but he can make this offense work if they play to his strengths.
We've heard players talk about "turning the corner" in Dallas. Cowboys Nation should hope that is the case. What's more frustrating than watching an offense being unable to move the chains and score touchdowns, is knowing they could do it with a better execution and play-calling. Thanks to players like Dak, Ezekiel Elliott and Cole Beasley, there's a silver lining for the Cowboys' offense.
Inconsistency is the Problem for Cowboys
Simply put, this is not the team we had witnessed in the first five weeks of the season. Even in the two prior wins this year, the Dallas Cowboys had not looked dominant at all. Specifically the offense. They hadn't faced a defense as tough as the Jaguars', but they were able to drop 40 on them. Now granted, they did it with the help of the defense, but still. We hadn't seen this version of the Cowboys.
Even with a 40-7 win over the Jaguars, it is tough to imagine Dallas will keep this up as the season continues. Hopefully, they do and I'm wrong about this. They need to be more consistent if they want to end up surprising the NFC East and walk away with the division title.
Although they got the big win, they still left points on the field and fail to execute for touchdowns in the second half. Even when the defense forced turnovers. In close games, this cost you wins in the NFL. The Cowboys can't afford to lose many more games, even in a weak division.
Star Blog1 week ago
If Jason Garrett’s Out, Who’s In? Potential HC Candidates
Star Blog4 days ago
Should the Dallas Cowboys Trade for These 2 Oakland Raiders?
Player News1 week ago
Leighton Vander Esch Lands on List of NFL’s Top 10 Rookies
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Did Garrett’s OT Decision Cost Him More Than Just the Game?
Star Blog7 days ago
Is Jason Garrett Losing the Cowboys Locker Room?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
3 Dallas Cowboys Players Who are Performing at an Elite Level
Game Notes6 days ago
Jaylon Smith Looks Healthy, And The NFL Should Be Terrified
Player News2 days ago
Oakland Raiders’ Wide Receiver Amari Cooper On the Trade Block