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.
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.
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.
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.
CIN 21, DAL 14: Dak Prescott Continues Strong Preseason in Loss
The games may not count yet, but Dak Prescott looks ready for the 2018 season. The Dallas Cowboys quarterback continued his strong preseason play in the team's 21-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Prescott played three series, going 10/15 for 86 yards and a touchdown. He got the offense out of trouble a few times with his feet, avoiding sacks and ultimately getting the scoring pass off on a redzone scramble.
Dak's strong play has coincided with shutdown performances from the starting defense. The Cowboys' first-team defenders have yet to allow a score in two preseason games. Tonight, the Bengals were forced into four punts and two turnovers on their first-half possessions.
Overall, the Cowboys are a combined 24-7 in the first halves of their first two preseason contests.
The second half has been the problem, and for two weeks now Dallas' reserves have squandered halftime leads and given up losses. Thankfully, most of the responsible players will not be on the final 53-man roster.
- There were several concerning injuries for the Cowboys tonight. None was scarier than when All-Pro guard Zack Martin went out with a knee injury, but it does not appear to have been serious. Starting defensive backs Byron Jones and Xavier Woods also got banged up; Byron returned to the game but Woods did not. Defensive lineman Datone Jones also left with a knee injury.
- Even more concerning was the play of the second-team offensive line. Chaz Green was typically awful, but we also saw swing tackle Cam Fleming struggling and just an overall lack of protection for the backups quarterbacks. Green got benched in the second half and may have finally played his way off the team.
- Credit to Terrance Williams for getting open in the endzone to give Dak Prescott a receiver for the touchdown throw. Even with his warts, Williams' two years of experience playing with Dak can't be ignored in deciding who makes the team.
- Tight end Blake Jarwin continues to run with the starters on offense and may have quietly taken the job away from Geoff Swaim.
- Darius Jackson took advantage of some extra playing time tonight after Bo Scarbrough left with a hip injury. He broke off a few nice runs to amass 42 yards on just six carries, plus had four receptions.
- We finally get to see Dan Bailey kick a field goal again, and it was an easy 35-yarder with no issues.
- Shout out to Chidobe Awuzie for one of the pretty interceptions that a Cowboys DB has made in some time. Awuzie had to bend like Beckham (Odell, that is) to get a hand on the ball, then tipped it to himself for the pick.
- Preseason fun continues for the Cowboys next Sunday when they host the Arizona Cardinals on NBC's Sunday Night Football.
#DALvsCIN: Can WR Lance Lenoir Continue To Impress?
Entering training camp projecting who would make the final roster from the Dallas Cowboys wide receiving room was a crapshoot. The combination of misfits from other teams, unproven young guys, and a couple of Cowboys veterans makes this position group the most questioned across the entire roster.
But while Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, and Michael Gallup were stealing headlines, Lance Lenoir was making a name for himself among the Cowboys faithful.
After serving on the practice squad for the Cowboys a year ago, Lenoir seems to have entered 2018 with one goal in mind: to make the official game-day roster. And even if he falls short of this goal, it won't be due to any fault of his own.
Day in and day out Lance Lenoir has been a consistent wide out, catching nearly everything thrown his way and running some of the crisper routes on the team. Under new receivers coach Sanjay Lal, Lenoir has become a technical route runner and dangerous receiving threat.
Maybe most importantly for his future with the team, Lenoir has developed an obvious chemistry with starting quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott has continued to compliment Lenoir throughout training camp, and you know that the Cowboys front office is well aware of Prescott's trust in Lenoir on the field.
During the preseason opener against the 49ers, Lance Lenoir caught his first touchdown of the season, dazzling with his toe-tap ability. If he is going to steal a roster spot away from one of the more seasoned wide outs, however, he will have to remain that consistent target.
This Saturday, Lenoir gets another shot to prove why he's not only deserving of a roster spot, but of a starting spot. Sure, it might be a bit of a stretch, but if he continues to play like he has during camp and preseason, Lenoir could find himself working with the 1's more frequently.
Look out for Lance Lenoir against the Bengals this week, as he makes it harder and harder for the Cowboys to cut him by the second.
Cowboys en Español: ¿Es Tavon Austin Más Importante de lo que Creemos?
Cada vez más cerca de la verdadera acción en la NFL, tuvimos una oportunidad de ver a los Dallas Cowboys en el campo contra los San Francisco 49ers hace una semana. Francamente, a pesar de perder la ventaja en los últimos segundos del partido, la actuación del equipo dio una muy buena señal a los aficionados de la Estrella Solitaria.
Todavía quedan tres partidos por jugar, empezando por el enfrentamiento contra los Cincinnati Bengals este sábado. Hay muchas cosas que ver de parte de los Dallas Cowboys y quizá algunas de ellas las veamos este mismo fin de semana.
Una de las cosas más interesantes esta semana fue la conversación de los wide receivers (receptores abiertos). Lance Lenoir se ha mostrado como un candidato real al roster de 53 jugadores, pero esa es sólo una pequeña fracción de la conversación de receptores.
Hay muchos receptores de que hablar, y el día de hoy, eso haremos en Cowboys en Español.
¿Cole Beasley es realmente el receptor #1?
A lo largo de todo el offseason, se ha manejado la narrativa de que "los Cowboys no tienen un buen WR." A pesar de que Dez Bryant es un nombre difícil de olvidar, esta aseveración sobre los receptores en Dallas me parece errónea.
Si bien es cierto que Bryant es uno de los mejores WRs en la historia de los Cowboys, también es cierto que Jason Garrett y compañía tienen un mejor grupo de lo que la afición considera. Si somos sinceros, un trío titular de Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley y Michael Gallup no suena mal.
La pregunta será: ¿quién es el #1? Comentarios de Dak Prescott han hecho referencia a Cole Beasley como el dueño de dicho rol. ¿Realmente puede fungir como el receptor líder del equipo siendo un jugador de 1.73 metros?
Se ha hablado mucho de Beasley jugando fuera de los números e intentando vencer a los defensivos por fuera. Es intrigante, pero sin duda un poco difícil de creer.
Tavon Austin: ¿Es un arma más importante de lo que creemos?
Los Cowboys dejaron ir a Ryan Switzer y obtuvieron a su aparente remplazo con el ex-WR de los Rams por una selección de sexta ronda. Tavon Austin ha tenido un viaje extraño con el equipo. Fue listado en el roster como un corredor pero utilizado como un receptor.
Lleva poco tiempo en Dallas pero ha sorprendido en training camp y ha sido utilizado como más de lo que esperábamos. Desde que llegó al equipo, empezamos a compararlo con Lucky Whitehead y Ryan Switzer. Ambos talentosos, pero destinados a ser un jugador "gadget" que fueron utilizados casi exclusivamente en jugadas "en movimiento" o los famosos "jet sweeps."
Pero Austin puede ser más que eso y lo ha demostrado en training camp. No parece que Tavon vaya a tener el mismo destino que Switzer, sino que tendrá un rol mucho más involucrado en la ofensiva constantemente. Bien puede ser un factor sorpresa para la ofensiva en Dallas.
¿Puede Terrance Williams perder su trabajo?
A pesar de que el coraje puede llevar a los aficionados a criticar a Terrance Williams un poco más de lo que merece, la verdad es que Williams está en riesgo de ser cortado por los Cowboys antes de que inicie la temporada en septiembre.
Es uno de los WRs con más experiencia, sí. Pero durante su estadía en Dallas, cada vez que Dez Bryant ha caído lesionado, Williams ha tenido la oportunidad de surgir como un receptor #1 capaz y preparado. Y nunca lo ha logrado.
Con un roster lleno de talentos jóvenes como el de Lance Lenoir y Noah Brown, es probable que la administración y los coaches opten por el potencial joven en vez de Williams, quien ha tenido problemas para demostrar que puede ser un jugador constante.
Los Dallas Cowboys tienen que conseguir que su ofensiva sobreviva las pérdidas de Jason Witten y Dez Bryant y tendrán que comenzar en la posición de WR. A pesar de que Williams esté en el equipo, Cole Beasley será el único en repetir titularidad del año pasado en Dallas esta temporada.
Dak Prescott tendrá un rol enorme cuando la ofensiva trate de emprender su marcha y definitivamente será responsable del éxito de esta. Es ahora o nunca para Dak.
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