When you see or hear of the Golden State Warriors the first thing that comes to mind is probably super-team or dynasty. While that is true, that's not exactly what I'm getting at. Last year the Dallas Cowboys made a lot of noise in the NFL.
It started with taking a running back with the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft, Ezekiel Elliott. Some fans absolutely loved the pick, along with most of the media that cover them, but some fans and a lot of the national media absolutely hated the pick.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
For those who don't know him, that's @VoiceOfTheStar (Pat Walker) when Zeke was selected in the 2016 NFL draft. He thought it would go another way (Jalen Ramsey), as did many fans.
How does that compare to the Golden State Warriors?
Well when the Warriors are doing good, which seems to be happening on a regular basis the past few years, the haters, hate. You'll hear a lot of "Kevin Durant isn't even that good" and "Draymond Green is a thug," or "Steph Curry is overrated."
Cowboys Nation hears similar stories surrounding most of their young talented players.
It seems that even finishing the season 13-3 and winning the NFC East can't shut some of the haters up. When you look at why the Cowboys were so successful last year you have to turn to the two rookies, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, that's obviously no surprise.
Dak Prescott was the leagues Rookie Of The Year and Ezekiel Elliott won the league rushing title.
You would think that having so much success from both player's rookie years would earn them some respect from opposing fans and the media, but it didn't. Even after the performances Prescott and Elliott put on in 2016, people are still using words such as overrated, system-player, or mediocre to describe both players.
You can't spell "Dak Prescott sucks" without Dak Prescott.
Not surprised, considering the source.
Fellow NFL running back calls out Ezekiel Elliott as overrated https://t.co/rnBU0CaHeS
Somehow, someway after two NBA Championships in the last three years these same words surround the Golden State Warriors.
Why am I using Golden State as an example?
Two reasons. One, because when a team -- no matter the sport -- is either so loved or so hated by so many people, false opinions follow said team no matter how much they succeed.
And two, the success of said team can drive teams, General Managers, and even fans crazy.
From a personal stand point I think the Warriors are little bit overrated.
In every professional sport there is some sort of copy cat mentality in all of these owner's and general manager's heads. If another team does something and succeeds, a different team is going to try to do that same thing just to beat you. If you're still unsure where I'm going with this, maybe this will help.
All 32 teams saw how effective Ezekiel Elliott was last year and all 32 teams I think began to realize how important a good running game is.
The Jacksonville Jaguars didn't hesitate when they were on the clock with the fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft. The Jaguars had plenty of holes on both sides of the ball, but took Leonard Fournette, a player who a lot of people called a "bad pick."
We can even look in the Cowboys' own division to see how they are already driving some of these teams crazy. All three teams in the division spent a lot of money and multiple draft picks on ways to target the Dallas Cowboys' weakness, their defense.
- The Washington Redskins signed Terrelle Pryor and Brian Quick early in free agency after having one of the worst defenses in the league last year.
- The Philadelphia Eagles did almost the same thing, signing Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith via free agency and adding Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson via the draft.
- The New York Giants? Same thing. The Giants signed Brandon Marshall in free agency and used their first round draft pick on Evan Engram, a pass catching tight end.
So instead of getting better at the things each team struggled at last year, it seems to me that each team was thinking something along the lines of "how can we beat the Dallas Cowboys?" on their mind going into free agency and the draft.
Very similar to what is going on in the NBA right now.
Not long ago the NBA was all about the big man. DeMarcus Cousins, Zach Randolph, Dwight Howard, and DeAndre Jordan used to be the faces of the NBA, and what all teams wished they had. Now, all the NBA wants is a guy who can shoot threes and handle the ball. The center position in basketball is almost nonexistent and it's all about who can shoot the basketball.
Why is that? Because, that's what's worked for the Warriors.
Having five guys on the floor for a majority of the game who aren't limited to where they can shoot. Having Draymond Green play as the "center" but taking shots from beyond the arch more than an easy layup.
And the NFL is doing the same thing.
A lot of teams are looking at the Cowboys and trying to copy what they have done. Drafting offensive lineman and running backs extremely high and signing and drafting players that can help you beat the teams within your division.
It's an interesting way to look at it if you ask me, and some people will say "the Cowboys haven't won anything yet to be compared to the Warriors," but how teams are implementing what the Cowboys have been doing for years, and the amount of negativity that is thrown at teams for simply being good sure does raise the question,
Are the Dallas Cowboys the Golden State Warriors of the NFL?
Should Cowboys Consider Trading for Disgruntled Packers S Josh Jones?
Despite their insistence that upgrading the safety position was a top offseason priority, the Dallas Cowboys haven't really done much to improve the backend of their secondary. They did sign former Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals Safety George Iloka as a free agent and drafted Donovan Wilson in the sixth-round in this year's NFL Draft, but neither player looks like a clear-cut upgrade at this point. Fortunately, there's still time to find Xavier Woods' counterpart for 2019.
Xavier Woods is the only clear-cut starter at safety currently on the Dallas Cowboys roster. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine as to who starts opposite him this season. With that in mind, the Cowboys should be keeping all of their options open, including acquiring players who get released or even making a trade for someone they like. The latter is what I want to talk about today.
A potential safety who could be put on the trade block that I'm kind of intrigued with is Josh Jones, who has reportedly requested a trade from the Green Bay Packers.
Packers safety Josh Jones is skipping the voluntary OTAs and working out in Florida because he's hoping to be traded, a source told ESPN. The source said the 2017 second-round pick believes it would be best for both parties if they parted ways. Story coming on ESPN shortly.
Josh Jones clearly sees where he stands with the Green Bay Packers after they signed Adrian Amos in free agency and drafted Darnell Savage Jr. 21st overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, thus his absence from OTA's and trade request. He understands the business and knows he's not going to see the field much behind those two, meaning his best chance for playing time would be in a different uniform.
It's not all that shocking Jones has requested a trade. Even before the Packers added Amos and Savage he wasn't receiving a lot of playing time. He's just never seemed to fit into what Green Bay was trying to do on the backend of their defense. It may be in the best interest of both parties to mutually part ways. This is where the Dallas Cowboys come in.
I believe Josh Jones is exactly the type of safety Kris Richard would like to pair Xavier Woods with on the backend of the Cowboys defense. He fits the criteria Richard likes in his defensive backs as far as size, length, and speed are concerned. And, he also has the kind of skill set/mindset to become that Kam Chancellor "enforcer" type of strong safety.
Josh Jones is at his best when he can play around the line of scrimmage, much like Chancellor was during his time with the Seahawks. But, Jones also has the ability to be a factor in coverage as well. The only real question here is whether or not he's an upgrade over the likes of Jeff Heath, George Iloka, and maybe even rookie Donovan Wilson?
In all honesty, I don't have the answer to that question. Josh Jones really hasn't received a fair opportunity to prove himself in his first two years in the NFL. I believe the skill set is there to start in the league, but there's not much there to back up that belief.
Personally, I'd be willing to part way with a late round pick if I were the Cowboys to acquire Josh Jones. I like the idea of bringing him in to work with Kris Richard and allowing him to compete for the starting job next to Xavier Woods. This is exactly the kind of low risk/high reward move Dallas likes to gamble on, and it could potentially pay off in a big way.
Where do you stand? Should the Cowboys consider trading for Josh Jones?
How Can The Cowboys Force More Turnovers In 2019?
2018 seemed like the beginning of a new era. A defensive era. For the first time in years the Cowboys were able to consistently lean on their defense during games, staying alive even as their offense sputtered and limped through stretches early in the season.
The defense was downright prolific some weeks. They carried the Cowboys to an inspiring home victory over the New Orleans Saints to put them in prime position to make the playoffs. They dominated the Wild Card game in key moments, making key stops and holding the Seahawks to just 22 points in the win. They featured one of the league's best individual pass rushers in DeMarcus Lawrence, an All Pro cornerback in Byron Jones, and one of the league's most exciting young linebacker duos.
For all of this success, this defense still lacked one thing. Takeaways.
The Cowboys forced only 9 interceptions in 2018, ranking 26th across the league. In fact, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was actually tied with Xavier Woods for the team lead in interceptions with just 2. When it comes to total takeaways the Cowboys' defense was a little better off, though, finishing 16th in the NFL.
Part of the "problem" seems to be their philosophy. The Cowboys have finished 26th, 24th, 27th, and 31st in interceptions dating back to 2015. They've also finished 9th, 25th, 18th, and 19th in team defense DVOA over that same stretch. Clearly there was an improvement in total defense in 2018, but neither their team defense nor ability to take the ball away has been strong since 2015.
The bigger problem, really, is a lack of luck. While this sounds like a cop-out, takeaways often do come down to just that. Of course putting yourself in the right place at the right time to benefit from a batted pass or overthrown ball matters, but those bounces finding the right hands is usually a matter of luck.
Turnovers are incredibly volatile year to year, and as much as you'd like your players to "make their own luck," randomness does play a part here.
You can certainly argue the Cowboys have done their best this offseason to increase their chances at takeaways, however. By trading for defensive end Robert Quinn, re-signing DeMarcus Lawrence, and adding talented players to the middle of their defensive line as well, Dallas has put an emphasis on getting after the quarterback and corralling the opposing running game. Putting pressure on quarterbacks can force them into quick decision making or bad throws, which could in turn breed interceptions.
This is far from guaranteed, though. Plus the Cowboys play against some of the league's top quarterbacks this year, which hurts their chances of taking the ball away further.
In the end the Cowboys will need both the skill of their pass rushers and defensive backs to put them in good positions, and luck to smile down on them, if they'd like to turn around their takeaway numbers in 2019. And after all, this demoralizing trend has to reverse itself at some point, doesn't it?
Will It Be The Cowboys, Or Another Team, Who Pays Byron Jones After 2019?
After having his fifth year option exercised for the 2019 season, cornerback Byron Jones enters a contract year this Fall.
Jones inarguably had the best year of his career in 2018: earning not only his first Pro Bowl selection but also Second Team All Pro honors for his performance. Doing it all without an impressive stat sheet, Jones was able to let his film speak for itself throughout most of the year, and he became the number one cornerback we'd all hoped he could be when the Cowboys decided to take the freakishly athletic defensive back in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
This contract year is quite unique for Byron Jones, however. Next offseason the Cowboys will be forced to re-sign and extend just about all of their key contributors on both sides of the ball. DeMarcus Lawrence already got his contract, but Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and others still await their deals. Deals which the front office has all-but explicitly promised will come.
This leaves Jones, the former first round pick and now former All Pro, generally considered to be the odd man out. So while 2019 is a contract year for Byron Jones, he may be earning himself a contract from a completely different team.
Jones has had an interesting road to this contract season. One which would be a shame for the Cowboys to waste. Moving between cornerback and safety during the first three years of his career, Jones fell out of the coaches' good graces while playing out of his most natural position. Under Kris Richard's new regime, though, Jones had his best season to date. He looked to finally be comfortable in his role, and was now playing for a coach who believed he could be a special player.
Now that Byron Jones has found his place in the Cowboys defense, and has earned his way into conversations with the league's top cornerbacks, he's likely priced himself out of the Cowboys' future plans.
It's funny how that works out. Of course, Jones should go get paid, and I'd never fault a guy for maximizing his value on the market. But there's a good chance the Cowboys make the mistake of allowing a premier cornerback to walk out of their building next offseason. But if they want to retain players like Elliott and Cooper, they may not have any other choice.
Player News1 week ago
Leighton Vander Esch Graded Best Rookie Linebacker Since 2014
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
3 Reasons Why LB Leighton Vander Esch Will be Even Better in 2019
Player News2 weeks ago
RB Rod Smith Signs with Giants; Brother Jaylon Sends Farewell Message
Dallas Cowboys4 days ago
Kicker Matt Bryant Should Be the Final Piece of Cowboys 2019 Offseason
Star Blog1 week ago
QB Dak Prescott Already Impressing New Offensive Coaches
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Way-too-early 2019 Dallas Cowboys 53-man Roster Projection
Dallas Cowboys3 days ago
What Could June 1st Mean for 2019 Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Despite Perception, Dallas Cowboys had an Excellent Offseason