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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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Dallas Cowboys

Kicker Matt Bryant Should Be the Final Piece of Cowboys 2019 Offseason

Jess Haynie

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Kicker Matt Bryant Should Be the Final Piece of Cowboys 2019 Offseason

The draft is done, DeMarcus Lawrence is re-signed, and the bulk of free agency activity has passed. The 2019 Dallas Cowboys have more than enough talent to compete this season, but there is still one last move I'd wish they'd make. Veteran kicker Matt Bryant, still one of the NFL's best even at almost 44 years old, could be the final piece to this offseason puzzle.

The Atlanta Falcons' longtime kicker, and franchise scoring leader, was not retained this year despite another standout season. He made 20-of-21 field goals, with a long of 57, in 2018.

Why Atlanta didn't keep Bryant hasn't been confirmed, but perhaps the team was just looking to avoid hanging on one year to late. But Matt, who ranks eight all-time in FG accuracy (86.2%), doesn't think he's done. He tweeted the following from his personal account in February:

"Over this past year I’ve been asked numerous times about retirement and how I feel. Well, I’m not retiring and I feel fine and plan on feeling even better with some changes to my offseason program!

As of now Matt Bryant remains a free agent, and I think the Dallas Cowboys should be very interested.

If you go up and down this Dallas roster, kicker is arguably its biggest liability. Brett Maher had some highlight moments in 2018, and won two Player of the Week awards, but he also was one of the league's worst kickers in overall FG accuracy.

Brett Maher

Dallas Cowboys K Brett Maher

The problem with Maher is that you can't teach his best skill; the accuracy from the high 50s and even low 60s is incredible. It's a true weapon that you have a hard time letting go of, which was evident last year when Dallas dumped Dan Bailey for Maher at final cuts.

But Matt Bryant might be the best of both worlds. He's been a 91% FG kicker overall this last three years and has made 18-of-22 attempts from 50 yards out or more.

Maher only made 80.6% of his kicks in 2018. He went from 6/7 from long range, but that tells you how shaky he was from closer in.

Those closer kicks are worth the same three points that the longer ones are, and how'd you like it if Dallas lost a critical game because their kicker couldn't make a 35-yarder?

I get the fear factor with an older guy like Matt Bryant. Heck, the Cowboys let Dan Bailey go when he was still just 30. But Bryant hasn't shown the red flags that Bailey did; he's still kicking as well as he ever has.

If nothing else, Dallas has the cap space and circumstances to bring in Bryant for a true competition with Maher. If Brett has improved his game and keeps his job, then that's awesome. But why not add some pressure now, though a position battle with one of the all-time greats, and see what Maher's really made of?

Seasons have been made, and shattered, by one kick. Unless the Cowboys have good reason for confidence in Brett Maher's development from last year, they could be carrying a significant liability into a year where they're trying to push for a Super Bowl.

If Matt Bryant could provide even a small amount of additional security, isn't he worth it?



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Cowboys RB Mike Weber’s Injury Scare Continues Concerning Trend

Jess Haynie

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Mike Weber

Rookie RB Mike Weber had a brief scare earlier this week with a knee injury in practice, but thankfully the MRI came back with a good report. However, as he fights to have a future with the Dallas Cowboys, this health incident is a concerning reminder of Weber's recent history.

One reason that Weber fell to the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft was due to battling injuries during his last two years at Ohio State. He lost his starting job in 2017 due to ongoing hamstring issues and also had to miss time last year because of a foot strain.

Carrying the load for the Buckeyes is a far different workload than being second or third on the Cowboys' RB depth chart. But this latest scare happened in early May, just two weeks after Mike joined the team and well before the more strenuous activities of an NFL offseason.

A practice injury can cost you just as badly as one that happens in a game. And with Dallas already thin at RB, it could leave them severely shorthanded if it occurs during the regular season.

Many have projected that the Cowboys' RB group in 2019 would have Ezekiel Elliott as the obvious starter and then rookies Weber and Tony Pollard behind him. While Pollard was drafted three rounds ahead of Weber, he's not built to take a large number of carries if Zeke were to go out.

If Mike Weber does make the team, he would be expected to take a sizable role if something bad happen with Elliott.

Mike Weber

Dallas Cowboys RB Mike Weber

The "injury prone" label is disastrous for any athlete, but especially a guy with no real claim to a roster spot. If Weber causes concern in the front office about his durability, they may go a different way at final cuts.

Remember, Mike's not just up against Pollard and Darius Jackson for a roster spot. There are still plenty of veteran free agent running backs out there that Dallas could turn to if they're not confident about their young prospects.

This isn't too say that one scary moment in May, which ultimately didn't amount to much, is reason to cut bait with Mike Weber. But when you stack it up with his injury history in college, it does make you wonder how he'll do over the course of an entire NFL season.

Hopefully, Weber bounces back from this and has a great summer. Former Buckeye RBs have treated Dallas well the last few years, and it'd be fantastic if Mike can provide the same solid solid depth that Rod Smith did.

But this latest news is just a reminder of why Dallas can't rest easy at running back just yet, and why they may still have another move to make to prepare for 2019.



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Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Graduating From Notre Dame

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Jaylon Smith Returns Cowboys to NFC East Prominence in Win Over Bucs

The 2019 season is right around the corner for the Dallas Cowboys, with OTA's and training camp getting ready to kickoff in the coming weeks/months.

Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith made the most of his offseason, going back to Notre Dame to finish out his college degree. Smith is set to graduate from Notre Dame this Saturday, and will walk to earn his degree in Film & Television.

Smith talked to DallasCowboys.com's David Helman about why it was so important for him to graduate and finish what he started at Notre Dame. 

“When I left after my junior year, I promised my mom that I would go back and finish...Finishing my third year with the Cowboys, it was time.” - Jaylon Smith

Michael Bertsch on Twitter

2,025 @NotreDame undergraduates will receive degrees during Commencement Weekend. That contingent includes @thejaylonsmith Yes, the current @dallascowboys & former @NDFootball All-American linebacker, who took 21 credits this spring #4for40 #GraduatingChampions #CEV

Smith continues his leadership on and off the field, and we all send our congratulations to the Cowboys starting MIKE linebacker!



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