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Cowboys Revamped Offense Relies on Scott Linehan to Succeed

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Revamped Offense Relies on Scott Linehan to Succeed 3

Making nine selections in the 2018 NFL Draft, and trading away one sixth round pick for Tavon Austin, the Cowboys have completely revamped their stagnant offense from 2017. The additions of LG Connor Williams, WR Michael Gallup, TE Dalton Schultz, WR Cedrick Wilson, and RB Bo Scarbrough give the Cowboys at least two new starters - with the depth now to deal with backbreaking injuries that forced Dallas out of the playoff picture last season.

Even without cornerstone players in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, the Cowboys young core just got even more versatile. This is a stacked offense with countless ways to attack opposing defenses.

Cowboys Nation entered the draft hopeful that just Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott for a full season would be enough to return to form. Perhaps the best part about both third-year players is that Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan has proven he knows how to play to their strengths. This Cowboys draft class, featuring mostly "high floor" prospects, strengthened the team's identity on offense even further.

Cowboys Revamped Offense Relies on Scott Linehan to Succeed

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

Let's start with Colorado State's Michael Gallup. The Cowboys waited until the 81st overall pick in the draft to address their need at wide receiver, but came away from the weekend with an impressively deep group of pass catchers. Gallup will headline this group as one of the more "Dak-friendly" targets in the entire draft.

Perhaps that is the easy part, although Linehan and new receivers coach Sanjay Lal will have plenty of difficult decisions to make on which WRs make the final Cowboys roster. Michael Gallup is here, and I expect him to be a major contributor all over the field.

Cowboys Revamped Offense Relies on Scott Linehan to Succeed 4

Dallas Cowboys WR Cedrick Wilson

With a third round grade on Cedrick Wilson, the sixth round steal out of Boise State should also prove himself nicely in training camp, but it remains to be seen where Wilson can find a role in the Cowboys new-look passing game.

That brings us to the 'bread and butter' of this football team.

A rushing attack led by Ezekiel Elliott was made even more potent when Connor Williams slid to the hometown Cowboys at 50th overall in the second round.

After modeling his game at Texas after Cowboys Left Tackle Tyron Smith, Williams easily played his way into first round consideration in 2016 before an injury kept him in college for an extra season. Still a top prospect for some, Williams became the fifth guard drafted when the Cowboys made his dream come true.

Dallas is of course a perfect landing spot for the Cowboys new starter between Smith and Center Travis Frederick. Williams carries this team's patented toughness and athleticism up front, and should excel in his transition to guard in opening up running lanes for not only Elliott but Tavon Austin and Bo Scarbrough as well.

Cowboys Revamped Offense Relies on Scott Linehan to Succeed 2

Dallas Cowboys OC Scott Linehan

This is where Scott Linehan again enters the picture. For the ten games he had Elliott in 2017, Linehan was criticized for not working the Cowboys bell cow RB enough. Particularly in a week 16 loss to the Seahawks, Elliott returned from suspension to touch the ball only 24 times, failing to get much of a rhythm going as the Cowboys faith was sealed inside AT&T Stadium.

Now, a coach even further on the hot seat must balance the Cowboys running game with Elliott and Austin. The Cowboys are excited about what Tavon Austin can do as a runner, as well as a gadget player for Prescott to hit in the spread looks expected to be used more.

From these looks in the passing game, there will also be enough mouths for Linehan to feed. This is a coach the Cowboys will look to for stability on offense (where the majority of their cap space is allocated), shaking things up beneath Linehan by hiring a new OL, WR, and TE coach for 2018.

All three of these units feature at least one new starter, as Dalton Shultz of Stanford should be expected to see the field right away. The Cowboys 137th overall pick can at least provide value early on in his career as a tough run blocker.

Being absolutely stacked on offense is a terrific "problem" for the Cowboys to have, and it feels likely the moves the Cowboys made to achieve this offensive prowess will motivate Linehan to great things in 2018.

The Cowboys have been a prime example of how the NFL changes from year to year though. Another season short of heightened expectations -- at the hands of sub par coaching -- likely causes Linehan to drag other Cowboys staffers with him.

As mentioned, the Cowboys draft class features ready-made players for a team looking to win now. Dallas is of course also building towards the future with such a young roster, as the likes of Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson have high ceilings to go with their present traits.

Whether or not the Cowboys drive back towards the playoffs will be powered by their machine-like offense is up to the man with the keys - play caller Scott Linehan. When discussing the training camp battles to anticipate this summer for starting spots on offense, Linehan's decision making needs to remain something the Cowboys evaluate through to week 1 of the regular season.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Revamped Offense Relies on Scott Linehan to Succeed" 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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6 Comments
  • Reynaldo Laporte

    With the aforementioned additions and Oluwale our Offense should be explosive. The best value to me was Williams, and Austin and I am hoping we can utilize him in 10 personnel too.

  • Saul Molina

    I think we will be fine as long as we don’t call bone head plays like last year when we were first and goal at the 2 or three and passed every down and wound up 4th and goal at the 30 we need to hit them with a three headed monster zeke,rod smith and bo scarbrough and when that has them on their heels take some shots with gallup hit them with some side line passes with twill and some slants with hurns and Beasley if our offense can be good this year I think our defense can hold its own but if not we will see a new head coach and new offensive coordinator and probably new defensive coordinator cuz marinali will probably retire and kris richard will take over oh yea and through in noah brown cedric wilson and rico gathers oh its on

  • Chuck Wright

    Love the 2 new WRs, like the new TE, Austin for a 6th is a steal.

    Sorry, the love affair the FO has with Scotty L is beyond comprehension. Rams game and Falcons games were perfect examples of the man not being able to make an adjustment.

    But as for carries/touches, some of that will be worked out when we get back to 2016 1st down performance. 4th in the league in 2016, fell to 9th with 40 fewer 1st downs, that’s bascially 120 fewer plays.

  • Randy Martin

    Because our offense is reliant on Linehan, I have mild concerns. As we all know he has been on a bit of a hotseat for some of his play calling. That being said, this re-tooled offense very well be a signal of needed personnel changes to do what he really wants to do and may be borne out of the new WR coach. We are still a balanced offense with focus on the run, but I hope to see an offense that is not so predictable this year.

  • Travis Diggs

    It’s gonna be alot of ‘we should” this offseason but the Garrett/Linehan combination scares me at times with their personnel/in game management decisions. Philadelphia and Dallas rosters aren’t that much off, but the coaching staff showed you what the difference could make.

  • Russ_Te

    I see firepower question marks for the unit, but think that Gathers coming alive in the middle would solve them. He’ll have the best camp IMO and win the starting TE job, if he shows at least some blocking ability.

    That kind of size and agility in the middle, Dak will use I’m sure. That should take enough attention off Gallup and Hurns to get them rolling. And maybe Beasley. All set up by a dominant run game – that’s my 2018 offense.

Game Notes

Remembering the Cowboys NFC East Clinching Win Vs. Colts, 4 Years Later

Sean Martin

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Remembering the Cowboys NFC East Clinching Win Vs. Colts, 4 Years Later 1

The 2014 Dallas Cowboys season still feels like a landmark in the rich history of this team. Going deeper into Cowboys annuls is nothing more than a hopeless drift through wasted time that all of us are guilty of, though looking ahead at the 2018 team also leaves just distant memories of 2014.

Perhaps it was the memorable and painful way this season ended, with Dez Bryant's catch in the divisional playoffs at the Packers being played on loop ever since. This clip has surely overshadowed the way Dallas clinched the NFC East in 2014, with a 42-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts at AT&T Stadium.

The Cowboys find themselves in a similar position Sunday, beginning a stretch of three straight "win and you're in" games. The NFC East will belong to the once 3-5 Cowboys with a win over the Colts, Buccaneers, or Giants.

In that 42-7 drubbing of the Colts four years ago, Tony Romo threw three first half touchdowns to three different targets. At halftime, the Cowboys were on their way with a 28-0 lead, jumping out to a 42-0 advantage before Matt Hasselbeck would throw a garbage time touchdown (yeah, I feel old writing that too).

Just like in this match up, the Cowboys are fresh off a win over the Eagles, as they were in 2014 before rolling to the division title. Four starters from Jason Garrett's first NFC East clincher remain on his roster, though only two will play, speaking to the strides Garrett has made to salvage his reputation this year.

Left Tackle Tyrone Smith and Defensive End Tyrone Crawford will both be in the Cowboys lineup, with Travis Frederick and Zack Martin both ruled out.

The 2014 Cowboys established themselves as the run-first team that's very much still in tact thanks to Ezekiel Elliott. Only Giants rookie Saquon Barkey has more rushing yards over the last five weeks than Elliott. While Barkley continues to impress for a team that will not make the playoffs, Elliott is carrying the Cowboys closer to the postseason with every carry.

Unlike 2014, the path out of the Cowboys backfield to the top of the division hasn't been as straight. The '14 Cowboys featured a veteran lineup on both sides of the ball, focused on weekly improvements yielding a 12-4 record.

The only time the Cowboys have won more games under Garrett was in 2016, where the Cowboys altered the future of the franchise again with a new-look team that went 13-3 before losing in the divisional round to Green Bay again.

Neither 12 or 13 wins is attainable this year for the Cowboys, but the best of both recent divisional championship seasons is. Wins over the Saints and Eagles have brought back the miraculous 2016 feel Quarterback Dak Prescott's rookie season brought to Dallas. For going through both that season together, as well as a nine win campaign in 2017 that serves as Prescott's "down year", the Cowboys staffers that remember 2014 should be nostalgic at kickoff Sunday.

With the NFL being such a week-by-week, day-by-day, and even minute-by-minute experience, taking the chance to add perspective whenever possible is refreshing. The Cowboys arrival as perennial contenders in 2014 can come full circle with a new cast of players and familiar coaching staff here in week 15.

Remember just how much this team has been through to reach this point the next time you call for sweeping changes to America's Team, and if you're feeling lucky, a prop bet on Garrett having blue Gatorade dumped on him before night's end could go a long way.

Remembering the Cowboys NFC East Clinching Win Vs. Colts, 4 Years Later

(AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

Tell us what you think about "Remembering the Cowboys NFC East Clinching Win Vs. Colts, 4 Years Later" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

Cowboys Wishlist: Connor Williams Turns It Around

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Could Connor Williams Be Option at Tight End for Cowboys? 1

The Dallas Cowboys are on the road again as they travel to Indianapolis to face a hot 7-6 Colts team that's trying to sneak into the AFC Playoffs. It will be a tough challenge for a team that's struggled when playing out of AT&T Stadium but the Cowboys have changed a lot since they were a 3-5 unit. This time, they're one of the hottest teams in the NFL and are one win away from clinching the NFC East.

We surely are in for a great game. Without further ado, I hope you enjoy this week's edition of "Cowboys Wishlist."

Wish #1: Leighton Vander Esch Outplays Darius Leonard

As impressive as Leighton Vander Esch has been for the Dallas Cowboys, he's not alone in the Defensive Rookie of the Year race. On today's game, he'll meet his match in Colts LB Darius Leonard. A second rounder himself, Leonard leads the league in tackles with 135. He also is responsible for 11 tackles for loss, seven sacks, four forced fumbles and one interception.

Vander Esch, otherwise known as "Wolf Hunter" doesn't have such incredible stats, but playing time is a big reason why. His play has been pretty impressive, though. Ranked as the top rookie linebacker by PFF, hell be out there to prove who's the better player. I really wish he outplays Leonard en rout to the DROY award.

Dak Prescott Clutch in 4th Quarter & OT in Win Over Eagles 3

Wish #2: No Turnovers From Dak

455 yards, three touchdowns and another game-winning drive were more than impressive from Dak Prescott. I really have faith in him as the Cowboys' QB. But we can't ignore the three turnovers he was responsible for in such a close game versus the Philadelphia Eagles.

This game will be different. The Colts are a legit threat in the NFL right now and the Cowboys won't be the home team. Without Martin on the field, Prescott is likely to be pressured. If that's the case, he needs to watch out and avoid fumbles in the pocket.

It's really important the team takes care of the ball if they want the win versus Andrew Luck and company. I specifically wish Dak Prescott has a good game and does something he's done fairly well throughout his career:  take care of the ball.

Wish #3: Connor Williams Turns It Around

Expectations were sky-high for second round pick Connor Williams. A starter in week 1, injury and poor play sidelined him in favor of Xavier Su'a-Filo. With Zack Martin out for the game, Williams has another opportunity to shine. This time he'll be lining up as the team's right guard between C Joe Looney and RT La'el Collins.

It's very important to remember Williams is only a rookie. Just because we're used to offensive line rookies to have immediate success for Dallas doesn't mean every one the team brings in will be as great starting off. A rough start is not the end of the world for Williams. Also worth noting, the majority of his playing time came under now-fired OL coach Paul Alexander. I'm convinced he'll turn things around and will become an important player for the Cowboys soon.

For now, I wish he takes advantage of the opportunity to play and does a great job to be considered again for the LG spot once Martin returns.

Sean's Scout: Resilient Prescott Inches Cowboys Closer to NFC East Title

Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper (Richard Rodriguez / Getty Images)

Wish #4: Amari Cooper Keeps It Up

The impact Amari Cooper has had on this team is quite frankly unbelievable. He should really be seen as this season's savior for the Cowboys. While the defense is winning games, without Cooper the offense would still be terrible and results wouldn't be the same. He has more than justified the first round pick the Jones traded away to get him.

In a big, road game like this one, I hope he keeps it up and has another huge performance. Whether it is multiple scores or a 100-yard game, I simply want to see him shine again.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Wishlist: Connor Williams Turns It Around" 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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Game Notes

Cowboys, Colts Week 15 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?

The Dallas Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a win this week, while the Indianapolis Colts are fighting to stay alive in the AFC wild card race. Only one team can accomplish their goal, and both have some big names on the Week 15 injury report.

We'll begin with the visiting Cowboys, who could be getting at least one star player back while another is already confirmed to miss the game.

Dallas Cowboys

  • TE Geoff Swaim (wrist) - OUT
  • G Zack Martin (knee) - OUT
  • DL David Irving (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - Questionable
  • WR Lance Lenoir (illness) - Questionable
  • OT Tyron Smith (neck) - Questionable
  • DE Randy Gregory (personal) - Questionable
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - Questionable

Yes, sadly, Zack Martin will be out tomorrow. The good news is that Connor Williams got the entire week to practice with the starters at right guard. You can read much more about this situation and it's impact on the game here, courtesy of our own Sean Martin.

Also ruled out, as they have been for a while now, are TE Geoff Swaim and DL David Irving.  Swaim is still recovering from wrist surgery but has not been placed on injured reserve, so the team must feel he could be back for the playoffs. Irving could return as soon as next week.

Speaking of returns, Sean Lee may be back on the field this Sunday. It's unknown yet how he'll rotate with Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, but Dallas has the luxury of working him in slowly thanks to the play of their young duo.

Tavon Austin could also return this week, creating another new offensive wrinkle. Austin has been injured since the Jacksonville game and has yet to play since the Cowboys acquired Amari Cooper. Not only could Tavon do some interesting things in the offense, but he should bring some additional sizzle to special teams.

While appearing on the injury report, Randy Gregory missed practice this week for "family reasons" according to Jason Garrett. He could still play tomorrow.

Indianapolis Colts

  • G Mark Glowinski (ankle) - OUT
  • LB Skai Moore (neck) - OUT
  • S Mike Mitchell (calf) - OUT
  • WR T.Y. Hilton (ankle) - Questionable
  • TE Ryan Hewitt (ribs) - Questionable
  • S Clayton Geathers (knee) - Questionable

The big name here is Hilton, the star receiver who missed all practice this week with an ankle injury. Indianapolis has not ruled him out, wanting to give Andrew Luck's favorite target every opportunity to play. But it's not looking good, and a bad ankle could limit Hilton's effectiveness even if he goes.

Also hurt among the passing options is starting TE Ryan Hewitt, but he did practice full on Friday and should go. Not playing, however, is starting right guard Mark Glowinski. That means third-year player Evan Boehm should start, who just joined the team in October.

Indy's hurting at safety this week. Not only did starter Clayton Geathers miss the whole week of practice, but veteran backup Mike Mitchell is already ruled out. The Colts would have to rely on undrafted rookie George Odum if neither plays.

Fun fact before we go; former Cowboy Jihad Ward was picked up by the Colts after Dallas included him in their roster cuts to start the season. However, he landed on injured reserve back in October so won't get a chance at revenge.



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