The 2017 training camp for the Dallas Cowboys is shaping up to be the most competitive that I can remember of in at least the last decade, possibly longer. There will be plenty of battles to keep a close watchful eye on, but one Cowboys roster battle that I think has a lot of fans excited is between wide receivers Brice Butler and Noah Brown.
When it comes to getting down to their 53 man roster, the Dallas Cowboys usually just carry five WRs on the team. With the top three pretty much set in stone in Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, and Terrance Williams, that leaves only two available spots.
I completely understand that it's a little premature right now to speculate who claims the final two spots, but I think we can all pretty much agree that Ryan Switzer is probably at least fourth on the depth chart right now. The Cowboys likely wouldn't have drafted him in the fourth round without having an understanding of how he would fit in otherwise.
So, that leaves Brice Butler fighting for his job and I think his main competition will be with rookie Noah Brown. Although, Andy Jones and the rest of the WRs might have something to say about that. But, for now I'm going to go with my gut and stick with the idea it will come down between Brown and Butler.
Keep reading below to see why this particular Dallas Cowboys roster battle could possibly be the most interesting to watch.
Will Brice Butler win?
When you draw up the dream prototypical wide receiver teams like on the outside, Brice Butler would fit that criteria perfectly. He is 6'3", 220 and has legitimate 4.3 speed. What more do you really need?
Unfortunately, the answer to that is the reason why Butler could be competing for the final WR spot when the Dallas Cowboys start getting down to their 53 man roster. Consistency.
Consistency has been Butler's biggest enemy since entering the NFL. He shows the flashes of becoming a reliable outside receiver, but as of yet hasn't been able to do it on a continual basis. That could be his undoing with the Cowboys, but he does have things going in his favor.
Butler has a head start on the competition and is entering the third-year in the Cowboys offensive scheme. He has the knowledge in the system and had moments last year where he was a game changer when Dez Bryant was out of the lineup.
Butler also has a year under his belt working with quarterback Dak Prescott. This might just be the biggest advantage of all. They already have an established working bond, which should only get better once off-season practices start.
So, this Dallas Cowboys roster battle could be over with before it even got started, but not if Noah Brown has anything to say about it.
Will Noah Brown win?
Former Ohio State Buckeye wide receiver Noah Brown was one of my favorite WRs in the entire 2017 NFL Draft. I actually had a fourth-round great on him, so you can imagine I was absolutely ecstatic when the Dallas Cowboys were able to draft him in the seventh round.
Brown was underutilized for some reason at Ohio State, but he has the skill set to make it in the NFL and seriously push Brice Butler for one of those final remaining WR roster spots.
At 6'2", 222, Brown has the prototypical size the Dallas Cowboys like in their outside WRs. He doesn't have Butler's deep speed, but he more than makes up for it with the variety of ways he can contribute to the team.
As a wide receiver, Brown is still pretty raw, but has a skill set similar in many ways to Dez Bryant. He has a large catching radius and understands how to use his body to shield defenders to go up and catch the ball at the highest point. He also plays the game with the physicality and attitude much like Bryant.
Where Noah Brown has the advantage over Brice Butler is on special teams and more importantly blocking in the running game. Butler doesn't really play special teams, but that's an area where Brown will contribute right away. Teams like to have that in their wide receivers, especially those at the bottom of the depth chart.
Brown's ability to block in the running game is what will get him on the field early on offense. Defensive backs around the league will learn to keep their head on a swivel when they know Brown is on their side of the field. He takes pride in completely demolishing defenders and I think that is something the Cowboys coaching staff will absolutely fall in love with.
Oh, let's not forget that it was Ezekiel Elliott campaigning the Cowboys to draft Noah Brown in the first place. It's always good to have one of the star players in your corner.
While there will be plenty of different Dallas Cowboys roster battles to keep track of, I think there will be a lot of eyes on Brice Butler and Noah Brown. Fans have seem to grow a little bit tired of Butler's inconsistency and are ready for a change.
I for one like both WRs, but my gut is telling me that Noah Brown not only has more upside, but has more to offer because of his special-teams ability. So, even though Brown hasn't put on a Cowboy's uniform as yet, I give him the slight advantage.
Who are you rooting for? Brice Butler or Noah Brown?
Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración
Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.
Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.
Cambios de Coach
A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.
A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.
Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?
A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.
A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.
En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.
La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.
Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.
Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.
No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.
Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story
Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.
Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.
Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.
Here's why those people are wrong.
Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.
Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).
Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.
There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.
Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.
Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.
Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.
Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.
And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.
Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?
When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.
It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.
Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.
Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.
Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.
The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.
Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating
Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating
As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.
Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Now, he just has to go out and prove it!
Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?
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