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Cowboys Missing Out On LB Navorro Bowman A Good Thing?

Brian Martin

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A lot of Cowboys Nation were optimistic that the Dallas Cowboys would be able to bring in former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Navarro Bowman to help improve things on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, as reported by Ian Rapoport, Bowman decided to stay in the Bay Area and sign a one-year contract with the Oakland Raiders.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Former #49ers LB NaVorro Bowman is signing a 1-year deal with the #Raiders, source says. That was fast.

Knowing the Oakland Raiders had the first crack to convince Navorro Bowman to sign with them meant it was a long shot he would ever make the Tuesday meeting with the Dallas Cowboys in the first place. And yet, Cowboys fans still held out hope the former star LB could be the saving grace for the run defense, because we all know Jerry Jones is a great salesman and rarely lets a free-agent getaway he really wants.

I don't know about you, but I'm personally not too upset the Dallas Cowboys weren't able to land Navorro Bowman. Now, before you all get upset with me, let me try to explain myself.

LB NaVorro Bowman

(Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

First off, Navorro Bowman isn't nearly the same type of player he used to be earlier in his career. If that was the case, the San Francisco 49ers wouldn't have been willing to let him go, even if they do have a young promising prospect waiting in the wings behind him.

Bowman's age and injuries have caught up to him and as a result, affected his play. He is still pretty good defending against the run, something the Cowboys need help with, but has really started to struggle in pass coverage. That means he would probably be nothing more than a two down linebacker who came off the field passing situations. Those types of LBs aren't that difficult to find.

Secondly, the addition of Navorro Bowman would have likely been a progress stopper for Jaylon Smith. Smith has had his up-and-down's through the first five weeks of the season, but there has been more positives than negatives.

LB Jaylon Smith

LB Jaylon Smith

With Anthony Hitchens and Navorro Bowman on the team at MLB, it doesn't leave a lot of playing time for the Dallas Cowboys 2016 second round draft pick. And, Jaylon Smith needs as much playing time as he can get in order to learn and gain more confidence in his mental/physical abilities. He is after all a future cornerstone player on the Cowboys defense.

The Dallas Cowboys need to get Jaylon Smith up to speed as quickly as possible and unfortunately Bowman's addition would have set him back in his development. And let's be honest, Bowman probably wasn't going to have that much of an impact anyways. This defense needs more help than just one player can provide.

So as you can see, even though the Dallas Cowboys missed out on Navorro Bowman, it might actually end up being a good thing in the long run. Jaylon Smith is the future of this organization and the Cowboys should be doing everything in their power to help in his development, not hinder it.

Is missing out on Navorro Bowman actually a good thing?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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13 Comments
  • Les Matthews

    Smith needs playing time — like 20 snaps a game max. He’s been relied upon too heavily.

    • Brian Martin

      That’s my thinking as well. He still shows a lot of promise, but he needs time to adjust himself to the game. He’s not trusting what he’s seeing and isn’t reacting accordingly. I also don’t think he’s quite there physically yet either. He still needs his repetitions in order to develop, but he’s not ready to start.

  • Hobbes49

    I agree with you. I know we have been lacking depth at the LB position, but with everyone back we should finally be able to see the rotation the coaching staff envisioned for this season. Wondering if and how the addition of Justin March-Lillard will affect the rotation. I would like to see this group for the forseeable future to see what they can accomplish.

    • Brian Martin

      The Cowboys could certainly use more depth at the position, but I didn’t really think Bowman was the answer. If the starters (Lee, Hitchens, and Wilson) can stay healthy, then they are good at the position. Then you can work Smith in as needed to help boost his confidence and him develop more.

      • Hobbes49

        Agreed. I think a healty Lee and HItchens could help this group finally reach their expected stride for the rest of the season.

        • Brian Martin

          I’m certainly hoping so LOL

  • MLV

    This article makes no sense, you talk about Bowman not being the same player because of injury, well the Cowboys have the same problem, can’t keep players on the field because of injury, cutting into Smith’s playing time and development, the guy is being over worked and is clearly not 100%, he had the runner from GB in his sites in the hole and couldn’t make the play due to lack of explosiveness , you have players now who sub between pass and run situations , you improve your defense one player at a time!

    • Brian Martin

      The Dallas Cowboys do have the same problem, which is why I thought it was a good thing not to sign Bowman. Why sign another player who is in their decline and is limited to what they can do on the field. Better to stick with what you have and allow Smith to develop/progress. I don’t think Bowman would have been an improvement.

      • MLV

        Smith is the future,the way he is being overused especially when he’s not 100% is not helping his future, Bowman is as good against the run as anyone on this current roster, he is proven to be as good if not better than what we have, this is why we are getting run on by rookies and anyone else, what we have is not working!

        • Brian Martin

          Smith unfortunately wasn’t even supposed to be a regular contributor to start the year. Anthony Hitchens’ injury forced him on the field before he was ready, but there was flashes of the player he was in college. He just needs more time to develop and acclimate to the game once again. I think they will get better now that Hitchens is back and Sean Lee is healthy. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

  • Anthony Ceniccola

    totally agree with this. great write-up Brian, as usual! I think experience is such a huge benefit, and as i stated in another one of your articles I think experience is just what 54 needs now. Hitchens coming back is the best thing for the team and smith, it will take less responsibility from smith but allow him to grow.

    • Brian Martin

      Thanks Anthony for the compliment. I completely agree with you about Hitchens and Smith. It takes the pressure off Smith from having to be the starter, while also giving him time to develop.

  • Russ_Te

    I don’t believe Smith has been used in the blitz packages yet, but as I posted before he does seem to have his straight-line speed back.

    Not against SF, but you can hold a card back where you just put him wide of the DE on a long down – like an old Bears 46 alignment – and send him after the passer. It’s probably good for some disruptions before that opponent adjusts. If Smith gets a big play, it’s what you’re looking for to give him a boost mentally.

Star Blog

Leighton Vander Esch Is A Stud, And Should Be For A Long Time

Kevin Brady

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Leighton Vander Esch Is A Stud, And Should Be For A Long Time

The Cowboys took their fair share of heat for selecting linebacker Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. But through just over half a season, Dallas is looking vindicated in their decision.

Vander Esch was arguably the best defensive player on the field during Dallas' 27-20 win in Philadelphia Sunday night, and made the two biggest defensive plays of the game as well. Finishing with a game-high 13 tackles, Vander Esch was all over the field in both run and pass defense.

The first of his two massive plays came in the first quarter. After the Cowboys offense stalled deep in their own territory, the Eagles looked to be in prime position to strike first with a short field. On Carson Wentz' first pass attempt of the drive, however, Leighton Vander Esch was there to intercept him and return the ball back 28 yards.

Those return yards proved key as well, giving the Cowboys the short field and an easy path to their first three points of the night. And with the way their offense looked early in this game, Dallas could use all the help they could get.

The biggest play of the game, though, came late in the fourth quarter. With the Eagles facing a third and short and down seven points, they absolutely needed a conversion to keep pace with the surprisingly hot Cowboys offense. Philadelphia tried to beat Dallas with a running back screen to the backside, inviting the pass rush and getting blockers out in front.

There seemed to be nothing but blockers and green grass ahead for the Eagles on this play, with "Next Gen Stats" expecting a 22 yard gain after the catch. Then, Leighton Vander Esch eluded two blockers and tracked down the running back for a loss of 3.

Next Gen Stats on Twitter

Leighton Vander Esch made a game-saving tackle late in the 4th quarter to preserve the Cowboys 27-20 win. Corey Clement was expected to gain 22 yards after the catch (gained 3), -19 YAC Below Expectation, the most yards saved on a pass play this season. #DALvsPHI #DallasCowboys https://t.co/0DF7jhPQzH

If not for this tackle, who knows how both that Eagles' drive and the game would have ended. Vander Esch saved the day for Dallas, and forced the Eagles into a tough fourth and long situation with the game on the line.

I know it is still early in Vander Esch's career, and even relatively early in this season as well, but it's become clear the Cowboys hit a home run with their 2018 first round selection. Vander Esch is fitting in beside Jaylon Smith with ease, and with those two athletic freaks together, the Cowboys look to have one of the brightest defensive futures in all of football.

Of course, there are now legitimate questions about what the Cowboys should do with their captain Sean Lee. But as of right now, it should be Leighton Vander Esch's job to lose.



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Star Blog

Can Cowboys LB Vander Esch Do Enough to Win DROY?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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LB Leighton Vander Esch Rare Bright Spot In Cowboys Disappointing Loss

At 3-5, there are very few positive things to point out when discussing the 2018 Dallas Cowboys. One of those few things has been first-round rookie Leighton Vander Esch, whose play at linebacker has taken the league by surprise. Seen as a raw talent who could develop into an elite player with time as a prospect, Vander Esch's impact on the field has been immediate.

Through nine weeks in the NFL season, the Boise State product should definitely be in the Defensive Rookie of the Year discussion. As much as Sean Lee's injury will hurt the Cowboys' defense, it will get the rookie more playing time and a big opportunity to put his name in the minds of NFL Honors voters.

Sean Lee will miss some time after re-injuring his hamstring for the second time this season. Earlier in the year, Jaylon Smith and Vander Esch were able to keep the defense from crumbling without their veteran captain. Even with all the offensive struggles, that should continue to be the case for the linebackers.

Vander Esch has only played in 65% of the Cowboys' defensive snaps, yet he's tied for ninth place in solo tackles in the entire league with 49. He's at 64 total tackles and two pass deflections and has been a magnet to opposing ball carriers every time he's been on the field.

He's the third highest graded rookie LB for Pro Football Focus. Most times, rookies find success like this by being rotational players or simply splitting snaps with other players. But as previously mentioned, Lee has already been out for a handful of games in 2018 and Vander Esch has lived up to the hype.

Simply put, Leighton's play as a rookie has already put Sean Lee's future on the Cowboys in question. With such an injury history and a two young studs ready to take over the reigns, Dallas could very well release Lee prior to the 2019 season.

Now granted, the race for Defensive Rookie of the Year will not be an easy one to win for Vander Esch. Fourth overall pick Denzel Ward has been an impressive cornerback for the Browns and fifth-overall pick Bradley Chubb has been one of the best pass rushers on Sundays. Not to mention the NFL leader in solo tackles, Colts' LB Darius Leonard.

Despite a great start to his season, the Cowboys young LB will have to play way better for his name to be called when the Defensive Rookie of the Year is revealed at the NFL Honors event in February. There are some pretty big names he has to catch up with in order to make this happen.

Tell me what you think about "Can Cowboys LB Vander Esch Do Enough to Win DROY?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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Star Blog

Dak Prescott/Carson Wentz Is No Rivalry, And There’s Only One Side To Blame

Kevin Brady

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Dak Prescott/Carson Wentz Is No Rivalry, And There's Only One Side To Blame

It feels like an eternity has passed since 2016, yet somehow, it was only 2 seasons ago.

The Dallas Cowboys were riding high, en route to a 13-3 season and an NFC East crown. They had drafted the league's leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in the previous draft, and believed to have found their franchise quarterback over 100 picks later.

Up in Philadelphia things weren't going as smoothly, but they were certainly on the upswing. After trading up to select Carson Wentz in that same 2016 draft, the Eagles also believed they had their quarterback of the future.

Cowboys/Eagles. Dak/Wentz. A debate between two hated rivals which began in 2016 and seemed like it would go on for the next decade. It was almost too perfect.

Countless articles and blog posts were written about the birth of a quarterback rivalry which would span for the foreseeable future. Which team had the better draft haul in 2016? Which team was better set up for the future behind their young quarterback?

The two met for the first time on Sunday Night football back in 2016, and for much of the night neither was very good. They both looked like rookies, but at the end of the game Dak Prescott was the one who came through in the clutch, throwing the game winner in overtime to Jason Witten. The rivalry was born, and the Cowboys had the upper hand.

Fast forward to today and things are much, much different. Prescott and Wentz have only really played each other one other time since that first match-up, a game which the Eagles dominated and Dak Prescott threw 3 interceptions.

The other two games have been meaningless and ugly, two adjectives which could describe every Cowboys game the past calendar year.

Simply put, there is no rivalry. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys have not held up their end of the bargain since that first match-up in 2016. Prescott's play has fallen off considerably, as he has fallen victim to just about every piece of lazy analysis Eagles fans gave during his miraculous 2016 season.

Doug Pederson has become the anti-Jason Garrett, quite literally making his name off being aggressive on critical downs and refusing to punt on fourth and short in plus territory. The Eagles front office has become the anti-Cowboys, going after pricey trade targets and free agents to ensure they are making the most of their young quarterback's rookie contract window.

The Cowboys have failed just about everywhere that the Eagles have succeeded. And, Dak Prescott has failed just about everywhere Carson Wentz has excelled.

Maybe things will turn around this Sunday for Dallas, and if they are able to win, they'd still be very much alive in the division race. But all of that seems highly unlikely. There is no longer a Dak/Wentz rivalry. There's barely even a reason for Eagles fans to have Dak Prescott on their radar.

Let's hope Prescott and the Cowboys can begin to change things this Sunday.



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