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Cowboys Front Office Proven Right So Far, Faces Reality Check Vs Saints

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Front Office Proven Right So Far, Faces Reality Check Vs Saints
(Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

The Dallas Cowboys deserve a lot of credit for their 6-5 record through 12 weeks, salvaging playoff hopes out of a 3-5 team that was under performing and fading fast. Specifically, the often-criticized Cowboys front office was at the forefront of the team's turnaround. Admitting to offseason mistakes that still have every opportunity to keep the Cowboys out of the playoffs, thanks to the Redskins and Eagles remaining within a game in the division, the Cowboys look competent on offense now. Credit the addition of Amari Cooper and coaching change in the offensive line room, as the team fired Paul Alexander.

Marc Colombo has returned the Cowboys to their winning ways up front, while Cooper has given the team a fighting chance in the passing game. Playing offense without a threat like Cooper on the outside was a death sentence for a young Cowboys unit that was losing confidence by the week.

With Cooper in the fold, the Cowboys can fairly evaluate Quarterback Dak Prescott, who has not turned the ball over in any of his team's last three wins. This front office has talked plenty about extending Prescott's contract, making a sustained level of play with Cooper an absolute must.

Cowboys Front Office Proven Right So Far, Faces Reality Check Vs Saints 1

Everybody knows the 10-1 Saints are in town this week, rolling into AT&T Stadium as winners of ten straight. As the Cowboys prepare for their steepest challenge of the season, facing the reality of being stuck at .500 again with a loss, the organization should come to terms with Thursday's kickoff being a reality check.

Before you instantly dismiss this premise and call me a hater for "writing off" the Cowboys, I'll say now that I firmly believe Dallas will be in this football game with a chance to win late.

With an owner/GM that's compared his team to the 10-1 Rams, outscoring the Cowboys by just over 14 more points a game while running away with the NFC West thanks to an ultra-aggressive offseason, Jerry Jones has a lot at stake this week.

The Rams only loss this season came to this week's opponent, as the Saints defended their home field with a 45-35 shootout win. Games like these around the league have done little to inspire hope in Cowboys Nation that this team can truly contend in the playoffs.

At times, the Rams and Saints (two teams intertwined in the Cowboys season for better or worse) have appeared to be playing a different sport entirely compared to the Cowboys.

Where the Cowboys merely talk about being as dynamic an organization, teams like the Saints back it up. As Dak Prescott is still a quarterback that relies on near-perfect surroundings, Drew Brees is a Hall of Fame lock. For as important as former fourth overall pick Ezekiel Elliott is, the Saints are content with third round pick Alvin Kamara. The Saints top wide receiver, Michael Thomas, has been playing at a high level since 2016 as a second round draft pick.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys against Philadelphia 2

Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett

The Cowboys have shown a lot of fight for their Head Coach Jason Garrett recently, elevating their level of play to make up for a less-than-dynamic scheme on offense. Across from Garrett on Thursday will be Sean Payton, near the forefront of offensive innovation as his Saints have dismantled teams on that side of the ball.

New Orleans has outscored their last three opponents by a combined 92 points, defeating the Eagles, Falcons, and Bengals handily.

The Cowboys have almost no business hanging around with the Saints, but with the expectation being they'll find a way thanks to a defense that's pushed all the right buttons, their front office once again deserves credit.

Drafting Leighton Vander Esch, moving Byron Jones to cornerback, and hiring Kris Richard all seem like home run moves the Cowboys have made to field a top defense for the first time in years. Lining up against the top scoring offense in the NFL this week will be a reality check.

No matter the outcome, the Cowboys will have four meaningful games remaining for 2018. By all means they should be excited about the prospects of winning the NFC East after such a slow start, but I can't help but ponder the team's standards to do much more than that anytime soon.

Remaining in contention at either 6-6 off a loss to the Saints or 7-5 with a four game win streak is a fantastic way for the Cowboys to stick with what has worked this season -- perhaps only out of desperation.

Though they don't have to play like a desperate team on Thursday, Jerry Jones wants his players to think each play is the "Super Bowl" this week. In an interview on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Jones mentioned this game as one that can "change your attitude".

An attitude adjustment that makes the Cowboys a true Super Bowl contender is hard to fathom even with a decisive win against the Saints, and is only something that could peek through the silver and blue tinted windows at The Star.

For sure, more national pundits will be singing the praises of the Cowboys if they upset the Saints. To those of us who've followed this team through alternating wins and losses from week one to seven, an embarrassing home loss off the bye to Tennessee, and countless seasons where a .500 record was far from good enough, the gap between Dallas and New Orleans feels massive.

The Cowboys have done everything possible leading up to this game to close such a gap, but have work left to do - very possibly in the form of more high-level changes - in becoming one of the league's best.

No such team will come out of the NFC East this season, as the defending Super Bowl champions are fighting for their playoff lives, and the Redskins reduced to a backup quarterback.

Cowboys Front Office Proven Right So Far, Faces Reality Check Vs Saints 2

Very often, the best teams go through these aforementioned changes, as the Saints were 7-9 for three straight years from 2014-16 before an 11 win season last year and likely an even better output for 2018.

AT&T Stadium would host a playoff game if the postseason began today, but the second place team in each NFC division has any many wins as Dallas. The Seahawks, stuck behind the juggernaut Rams, have a win over the Cowboys already while the Vikings are hunting the first place Bears as last year's NFC Championship Game loser.

Missing the playoffs entirely at 9-7 last year, the Cowboys desperately want in any way they can make it, with four quarters to prove how worthy they are of a playoff spot coming on prime time in two days.

Professional football is a hard sport to figure out. The Cowboys are certainly improving at doing so in the short-term, with the long-term outlook for this team requiring a much larger sample size than just Thursday's game or even the rest of 2018 as currently constructed.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Front Office Proven Right So Far, Faces Reality Check Vs Saints" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. DevilDog58

    November 28, 2018 at 11:47 am

    Your article has just reinforced everything I believe about pro football and the Dallas Cowboys. Besides building a good to great team with talent, we must have great coaching AND aggressive coaching. Payton, McVay and even Belicheck all stay aggressive offensively AND defensively. Just like Jimmy did for us so many years ago, these coaches are and will continue to be winners. When Dallas gets a lead, they tend to be conservative instead of trying to keep scoring. Same thing for our D. Seems like when we get a lead we tend to fall back into a Prevent-Defense instead of staying on the attack. All EXCEPT the Jacksonville game. We stayed aggressive and totally dominated the Jags. I hope they continue to draft well, do as good a job w/free agents as they did with Cooper and start playing each game like it IS a playoff game. We need a young, aggressive OC and I think our young, aggressive DC is already on the roster in Kris Richards. I do think he should use Jourdan much more though. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog!!! And Lewis, regardless of size, will fight to win. Another outstanding and informative article, Sean!

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Dallas Cowboys

Placing Value on Cowboys Slot Receiver Position this Offseason

Sean Martin

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Placing Value on Cowboys Slot Receiver Position this Offseason 1

Another offseason, another Dallas Cowboys wide receiver ominously discussing his status with the team - this time ahead of free agency with Cole Beasley. His impact on the Cowboys offense had been inconsistent at best under Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan, and with the Cowboys moving in a new direction at OC, it may also be time for a new look at Cole's slot position.

Beasley took to Twitter on Tuesday to discuss his role with the team and some of the behind the scenes decisions that went into each week's offensive game plan. Among his quotes, "utilization is more important than money," and, "I haven't been a huge priority in that regard (the front office pushing who they want to get the ball to)".

Cole Beasley on Twitter

Honestly, the front office pushes who they want to get the ball to. I haven't been a huge priority in that regard. Maybe that will change but I'm not sure. More balls come my way in 2 minute drill where nothing is planned. https://t.co/ioih9BJJv1

All signs point towards Kellen Moore being the next Cowboys OC, opening up the game planning to include further input from Jason Garrett and Doug Nussmeier. "Dak friendly" was the buzz word of last year's offseason, and now after another Pro Bowl season from Prescott, the Cowboys are taking real strides to accommodate their quarterback. Former Cowboys QB Jon Kitna is also in agreement to join the coaching staff, potentially as the QB Coach if Moore is promoted.

Beasley had at least five receptions in each of Prescott's first three career games, the connection between the rookie QB and reliable receiver evident. 2016 was a career high in receptions, yards, and touchdowns for Beasley.

The new direction of the Cowboys offense should put a priority on the tight end in the passing game, but it was Beasley that became Prescott's security blanket as Jason Witten was to Tony Romo.

Cole Beasley on Twitter

Doesn't mean I'm gone. I'll play anywhere where I can make more of an impact. I would love for that to be Dallas or anywhere else that will give me more pops to make an impact. I just wanna ball. It's hard with 3 to 4 opps a game. https://t.co/zImZKxkAvD

A more recent example of the impact Beasley can make out of the slot came in week six this season. Exploiting a talented Jacksonville Jaguars defense, the Cowboys put up a season-high 40 points in a blowout win. Beasley had nine receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns, just the second time he's eclipsed 100 yards in his Dallas career and seventh game with multiple scores.

Placing Value on Cowboys Slot Receiver Position this Offseason

The offseason is a time to look at all possible upgrades, and though the Cowboys hand may be forced if Beasley departs in free agency for a better opportunity, there are more dynamic and cheaper options available in the draft.

Options already on the roster include second-year player Cedrick Wilson, futures contract addition Devin Smith, and practice squad receiver Lance Lenoir.

Even still, electric players like Andy Isabella have become early fan favorites in the draft. Out of UMASS, Isabella is at the Senior Bowl this week, making quick work of defensive backs with tight footwork and effortless separation ability.

Jordan Reid on Twitter

Andy Isabella's quickness and precise route running are as good as advertised. #SeniorBowl https://t.co/WXN1aczXL0

Chris Hogan, Adam Humphries, and Jordan Matthews are potential free agency targets for the Cowboys at this position as well.

With Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup tabbed to start on the outside again next season, the Cowboys shouldn't be done looking for depth at wide receiver, but have a decision to make on if they'll be players for a new starter in the slot.

Paying a premier price for a player expected to exceed the production of Beasley, who puts up numbers whenever given the chance to, would at least give a sense of direction to the Cowboys offense in 2019. Without Linehan's input on whether Beasley is retained or not though, Cowboys Nation is no closer to knowing if he'll be a part of the offense or not moving forward.

Just one of the major personnel decisions that could come down in the next months, along with a contract extension for Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and DeMarcus Lawrence, Stephen Jones has promised a "busy" offseason and Beasley's helped assure this by stirring things up on social media.

Tell us what you think about "Placing Value on Cowboys Slot Receiver Position this Offseason" 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

Dallas Cowboys Stay Competitive Amidst Roster Turnover

John Williams

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Cowboys Pre-Training Camp 53-Man Roster Prediction: Offensive Edition

Since the start of the 2014 season, the Dallas Cowboys have won three NFC East titles, have been to the divisional round three times. and have gone 2-3 in playoff games all the while turning over an enormous amount of their roster over the last five years.

Roster turnover is normal. We see it every offseason. The amount of roster turnover that's occurred since the 2014 season is pretty incredible.

Dan Rogers, of Blogging the Boys put this out on Twitter on Sunday. It displays just how much the roster has changed in just five seasons as only two players started all three divisional round playoff games; Tyron Smith and Zack Martin.

Dan Rogers on Twitter

Not only have the Cowboys won the East in three of the last five seasons, but they've done it with three different teams. Only two players have started all three divisional playoff games.

In addition to the above note, only six players who started the divisional game for the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 started for the Cowboys in the matchup with the Los Angeles Rams; Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Maliek Collins, and Byron Jones.

Tyrone Crawford is the only other player that was available for all three games, though he didn't start the 2016 divisional round game.

It highlights the amazing job that the Cowboys have done at building their roster and "rebuilding on the fly." Every year, save for 2015, the Dallas Cowboys have been competitive because they've been able to turnover the roster efficiently and effectively. This team has become one of the best drafting teams in the NFL and will look to add to that legacy this April in Nashville, Tennessee.

18 of the 22 "starters" for the Cowboys this season were draft picks or undrafted free agent (UDFA) signings for the team. If you include players with a significant role like Cole Beasley, Randy Gregory, and Sean Lee, you see that the Cowboys have done an amazing job at building their team through the draft and have found significant contributions from free agents -- or in Amari Cooper's case, players they traded for -- here and there.

Of the top 10 players in snap percentage on offense from the 2018 season, Joe Looney was the only player that wasn't drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. If you look at the top 15 players in snap percentage for the defense, Defensive Tackle Antwaun Woods was the only player that wasn't drafted by the Cowboys.

We also shouldn't forget to underscore just how awesome Zack Martin and Tyron Smith are. Their availability has been incredible. Tyron Smith has sat out games each of the last three seasons for various issues, but has always been their come playoff time. Martin had never missed a game until this season when he sat out two related to knee and hip issues. But again, Martin was there in the playoffs helping Joe Looney and Connor Williams deal with Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh.

We're going to see some turnover this season and there's a chance that a player or two who started the divisional round game this season won't be starting in the divisional round a year from now. If all goes well with Travis Frederick, he'll be back manning the center position in place of Joe Looney in 2019. Randy Gregory could start in front of Tyrone Crawford next season. Gregory will probably add some weight this offseason, now that he's able to practice and work out with the team. Jamize Olawale may not be back and Cole Beasley looks to be headed out the door. And here's hoping the Cowboys are able to land a prized safety. Either Earl Thomas from the Seattle Seahawks or Landon Collins of the New York Giants works for me.

The Dallas Cowboys are one of the youngest teams in the NFL and will continue to build their roster through the draft. With a lot of cap space and compensatory picks coming their way to supplement their draft, the Cowboys front office can make significant strides this offseason to put their team in position to contend again in 2019.



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Dallas Cowboys

Is 2019 Pro Bowl Kellen Moore’s Audition for Cowboys’ OC Job?

Jess Haynie

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Kellen Moore, Jason Garrett, Dak Prescott

The Cowboys coaching staff is already in Orlando, FL working with the NFC team for the 2019 Pro Bowl. One of those staffers is Kellen Moore, who is a heavy favorite to become Dallas' new offensive coordinator. Could this weekend's game be his audition?

Moore's previous job as the quarterbacks coach has already been given to former QB Jon Kitna, who is with the team this week working at the Pro Bowl. The previous OC, Scott Linehan, is not there after being fired early last Friday.

With Kitna as the QB coach and no official OC announced, it appears Moore is serving in the coordinator role this week.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Kellen Moore is installing the offense for the NFC Pro Bowl team

Clarence Hill Jr on Twitter

Cowboys coaches Kellen Moore and Jon Kitna working with the quarterbacks at Pro Bowl. Dak Prescott is not at practice at the moment. Neither is Ezekiel Elliott

Moore will have several of his Cowboys players to work this weekend. Ezekiel Elliott was part of the original Pro Bowl roster, and Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper were named to the team recently as alternates.

Offensive linemen Tyron Smith and Zack Martin were also named to the original roster, but both are going to sit out this weekend due to injury.

Dallas may not be using this week to learn anything about Kellen Moore, who they clearly already have a high opinion of. But it will still serve as a good experience for him before potentially taking the reins of the Cowboys offense in 2019.

If nothing else, it's an added level of intrigue for Cowboys fans this weekend.



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