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Cowboys Roster: Strategies & Players For Inside Linebacker

Tommy Simon

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Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Roster: Strategies & Players For Inside Linebacker 9

In the last couple of weeks we have looked at the DE and DT positions and possible players and strategies for each. We looked at free agents and draft prospects that may fill their needs. This week, we will look at linebackers. The first article will deal with the inside linebackers and the second article – tomorrow – will deal with outside linebackers.

Before we get started, let’s talk about the state of the LB core.

The Cowboys will lose their starting SAM LB (Kyle Wilber) and their MIKE LB (Rolando McClain). They will have several returning players including Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson, Mark Nzeocha, and Andrew Gachkar. While Hitchens can fill the middle LB position, I think we all agree that it would be better if he added depth and we have a starting MLB that will strengthen the middle. They need a MLB with some pop and attitude. So the Cowboys will be looking for a starting MIKE.

With that out of the way, let’s start with possible free agents. Typically the Cowboys prefer:

  • No one older than 30
  • Speed. They like fast LBs
  • Attitude, they need someone who is aggressive and will attack runners
  • Size; Needs to be a 240 to 250 LB that can drive runners backwards. They also like a taller MIKE.
  • Coverage. They need to be someone who can carry the TE on the seam.

Possible Free Agents:

  • Sean Weatherspoon (Arizona) – Good speed, but injury prone and he may not be the prototypical middle linebacker. Will rack up tackles, and is decent in coverage. May be too expensive. My guess is it would take 4 to 5 million a year.
  • Vincent Rey (Bengals) – The right size and attitude. He can be a thumper. His price tag will probably be in the 4.5 range. He would be a good fit, but I do not think he will hit the market.
  • Danny Trevathan (Broncos) – Trevathan has the size, attitude and speed the Cowboys covet. He should be someone they talk to in free agency.
  • Zach Brown (Titans) – Brown was a starter in Tennessee and has good size and speed. He could be an affordable option to at least add depth, if not start.
  • Shea McClellin (Bears) – Moved to inside LB this year and had some struggles. He can also play SAM, so there is versatility. He does have the size the Cowboys like, so he could be an option.
  • Kelvin Sheppard (Dolphins) – Would most likely be a depth player. Split time as starter in Miami.
  • Craig Robertson (Browns) – Starter in Cleveland, but probably does not have the size the Cowboys want.

Before we look at some possible prospects the Cowboys could look at to fill the MIKE position, let’s look at attributes we look at when evaluating a LB. Here are 10 traits I look at when evaluating the LB:

  1. Overall Quickness and Speed
  2. Instincts – Do they have awareness, can they quickly diagnose a play, and do they recognize patterns (routes, runs, formations)
  3. Aggressiveness – Do they attack or sit back and wait
  4. Tackling – Are they fundamental tacklers and do they knock runners backwards
  5. Pursuit – Can they get through traffic to make plays or do they overrun the play
  6. Power – Can they take on a blocker and fill a hole
  7. Hand Skills – Do they use hands to control blockers, shed, and tackle
  8. Discipline, assignment sound
  9. Are they play-makers – Do they create turnovers, and blitz. Can they create negative yardage and big hits
  10. Coverage – Can they cover TEs and RBs.

With that in mind, let’s look at the players in the draft that the Cowboys will evaluate.

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Roster: Strategies & Players For Inside LinebackerMyles Jack (UCLA)

Strengths

  • When he hits a linemen, then linemen goes backwards
  • A great combination of athleticism and attitude
  • A big hitter, you go down when he hits you
  • Fast, can get sideline to sideline with ease
  • Good motor, always making his way to ball
  • Always going forward to attack runner
  • Best coverage LB I have seen in a while. Almost played a type of slot corner in some situations
  • Best when he is attacking the line and hitting gaps
  • Has good instincts and awareness of what is going on, but is still aggressive and decisive
  • Can read, diagnose and then attack
  • Playmaker
  • Pop with his hands, can shock blockers
  • Tries to hurt you when he hits you
  • Good open field tackler
  • A freak athlete

Weaknesses

  • He is not a good edge rusher
  • Needs more techniques and feel when blitzing
  • Can get dumb penalties because of passion

Summary

  • My apologies to Broaddus; I did not think he was a middle backer and thought he was a finesse player, but he can play all three LB positions and he brings an attitude.
  • He is my highest rated inside backer and next week he will be my highest rated outside backer
  • Great in coverage. Complete three down back
  • For Cowboys he would be an immediate starter as middle LB. A playmaker that can help the defense have attitude and create turnovers.
  • I may not recommend drafting him at 5, but dropping down to later in the top 10 and getting him would be a great move.
  • I would have him as a first round, impact player (top 10 player)

 

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Roster: Strategies & Players For Inside Linebacker 1Jaylon Smith (Notre Dame)

Strengths

  • Fast sideline to sideline. Covers a lot of ground and can beat runner to the edge.
  • Can weave through traffic, stretch play out and eventually make play
  • Is fluid in coverage
  • Smart, know what his responsibility is and is disciplined enough to carry it out
  • Can take on blockers, shed and tackle
  • Really good athlete
  • Has some attitude
  • Has good feel on blitz
  • Will bring some pop when tackling
  • Understands zone coverage concepts
  • Good production, always near ball
  • Will run down plays from behind

Weaknesses

  • Would like to see him come forward more and not wait for runners to come to him
  • He guessed at what hole the RB would take, and guessed wrong several times
  • If middle LB will be his role, he will need to get stronger at point of attack

Summary

  • I think his best position is Will, but can play MIKE.
  • Will make a ton of tackles in the NFL. Could see him leading the league.
  • Good in man and zone coverages. Probably better in man though
  • For the Cowboys he would be an immediate starter and a good combo at MIKE with Lee.
  • Is a playmaker that can get three to four picks a year
  • I may not recommend drafting him at 5, but dropping down later around 18-20 and getting him would be a great move.
  • I would have him as a mid -first rounder (top 20 player)

 

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Roster: Strategies & Players For Inside Linebacker 2Reggie Ragland (Alabama)

Strengths

  • Good tackler. Watched four games and did not see him miss a tackle. If he gets to the runner, the runner goes down.
  • Good in open field. He has a nice burst to get outside in the flat and make tackles
  • Decent in zone coverage. Aware of route combinations
  • Is effective when blitzing
  • Really good at using hands to play off blocks and make tackle
  • Very few times did I see a blocker able to sustain his block on Ragland
  • Best when he is attacking the line and hitting gaps
  • Has good instincts and awareness of what is going on
  • Can read, diagnose and attack
  • Disciplined, knows assignment and will carry it out

Weaknesses

  • I do not like his motor. There are too many plays he is jogging to get into play. Does not give it everything every play
  • Does not have elite lateral speed, but he does make a lot of plays
  • Was wanting more impact plays for the top rated inside LB.

Summary

  • Solid, stout inside backer who is good at point of attack
  • Is probably best suited for 34 inside backer
  • Would be the best blitzing LB have on roster
  • Would give the Cowboys size and tackling in the middle
  • I do not think he is an elite athlete
  • I do not think he is as good as some of the other LBs that has come out of Alabama lately.
  • Will be a good NFL starter immediately that will play assignment sound.
  • Big gap between him and other inside LB prospects
  • I would have him as a first rounder, but do not like his motor at times. With this in mind, I grade him somewhere at the end of the first (top 30 player)

 

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Roster: Strategies & Players For Inside Linebacker 3Jordan Jenkins (Georgia)

Strengths

  • Strong, physical and tough
  • Versatile – played inside, outside, DE and DT at Georgia.
  • Can get to the QB from the outside or inside
  • Can tackle, will drive runners backwards
  • Can make offensive linemen look bad. Quick to the hole, can shift and dart through a gap
  • Is aggressive, attacks at all times. Always moving forward.
  • Will take on blockers; multiple blockers most times.
  • Looks to have a great size/speed ratio
  • Plays big on the big stage
  • Is a sure tackler

Weaknesses

  • As a linebacker he will need to show he can drop in coverage. Georgia did not ask him to do that
  • Not sure what his 40 will be. Needs to show speed not just burst
  • Can get caught with misdirection at times.
  • When playing edge, teams let him get up field and run underneath him.

Summary

  • Very versatile. He is the second best outside linebacker in a 34 or he could be one of the best middle linebackers in a 43. He probably would be a two down backer in a 43, but he could also become an edge rusher if passing situations.
  • He is someone that the Combine could help or hurt. His 40 should tell us if he has the speed to play linebacker. Is other shuttle times will show us if he can play middle, and his bench press will tell if he has the strength to play DE. My guess is he will slim down and try to be a linebacker.
  • He could be a high pick if his measurable are there, or he could be a mid-round pick if he does not have measurable that match a position (i.e. the 40 time of a linemen, but a bench press and weight of a linebacker). He needs measurables that match a position or he will be a tweener.
  • He is my pet cat. I think he could wind up being an enforcer as a middle linebacker. Maybe not a cover LB but a run stopping enforcer.
  • Even if he is not the best pure middle linebacker, he is definitely the best SAM linebacker in the draft. I think SAM and middle will be his best positions in a 43.
  • For the Cowboys, he would be starting SAM, backup MIKE, and situational edge rusher. He definitely has position flex.
  • He could be there when the Cowboys pick in the third (I have him rated higher than most), but if the Cowboys trade down and pick up a mid to late second, they may need to get him then.

 

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Roster: Strategies & Players For Inside Linebacker 4Kentrell Brothers (Missouri)

Strengths

  • Active, good motor. Effort to the ball
  • Good in zone coverage
  • Really good at the blitz. Will keeping working to find hole to the QB.
  • Uses hands well to keep blockers at bay and then make tackle
  • Good instincts on run. Sees it and goes gets it
  • Understands his responsibility
  • Sure tackler
  • Makes big plays
  • Can catch, creates turnovers

Weaknesses

  • Smaller in size than prototypical inside backer
  • Can be knocked back
  • Shot wrong gap at times (may have been his assignment, hard to tell)
  • Lost awareness on a couple of pass plays. Eyes in backfield
  • Good speed, but not elite speed

Summary

  • Good solid LB who is sure tackler and can play zone coverage
  • Creates turnovers
  • Cowboys would like his motor
  • I believe he is more of a Will linebacker
  • Graded as late second rounder (top 60)

 

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Roster: Strategies & Players For Inside Linebacker 5Joshua Perry (Ohio State)

Strengths

  • Physical linebacker with good size.
  • Best trait is his ability to take on blockers and shed them to make tackle
  • His hands are what makes him a top 50 player. Can use them to keep blockers at bay and then go get runner.
  • Played inside and outside. Has some versatility
  • Good at timing blitzes from the inside
  • When paying outside, is big enough to set edge
  • Can weave in and out of traffic laterally to make the tackle
  • Good against run. Strong can get movement backwards and disrupt line
  • Long strider which cause him to have good speed/size ratio
  • Most times he has good recognition on screens and misdirection
  • Aggressive

Weaknesses

  • His long strides make him vulnerable in space. He can get off balance
  • Short area quickness will be a problem
  • He can miss tackles on the edge
  • Good instincts, but at times that can get him in trouble as he loses awareness of ball
  • Susceptible to cut blocks, although hands keep him out of trouble a lot

Summary

  • Natural position is the SAM, but he can also play middle. In fact, he may wind up as a middle LB over time.
  • His size is an asset against the run
  • Probably will never be a three down back. Will come off in third down packages. Although if he moves to the middle he does have the size and speed to carry a TE. Do not think he will ever be great in coverage.
  • If available, I could see the Cowboys picking him up with their third. He could fill the SAM LB role and give them depth as a backup Middle.
  • I have him rated as a top 60 player

 

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Roster: Strategies & Players For Inside Linebacker 6

Tyler Matakevich (Temple)

Strengths

  • Smart, knows his assignment
  • Competitive and leader
  • Will attack the hole
  • Good tackler
  • Has a good instinct for how to get to QB on blitz
  • Will shed blockers and still plant and tackle
  • Can make play on the ball

Weaknesses

  • Seemed slow. I need to see how he runs in combine
  • Never really saw a play where he demonstrated burst
  • Can be knocked back at times
  • Shot wrong gap at times. Lost vision on a couple of run plays. Went wrong way. May not have been able to see over blockers
  • Was hesitant at times, took too long to diagnose and attack.

Summary

  • A competitive hard nose player you want on your team
  • Has a knack for big plays
  • Cowboys would like his leadership
  • I believe he is more of a SAM linebacker and lacks speed for Will or MIKE.
  • Graded as a low third rounder (top 90)

 

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Roster: Strategies & Players For Inside Linebacker 7Dominique Alexander (Oklahoma)

Strengths

  • Has physical traits to be a good linebacker
  • Has a knack for timing blitzes
  • Willing to take on blockers and putting himself into the pile
  • Has speed enough to get sideline to sideline
  • Has good awareness. Reads and adjusts.
  • Doesn’t really make mistakes, know his assignment and can carry it out
  • Solid tackler
  • Takes good angles

Weaknesses

  • Don’t like his motor. Would like to see him with higher energy.
  • Not really a thumper for a middle linebacker. Plays with finesse more than power.
  • Would like to see him more big plays
  • Would like to see him be more instinctual. See it and go. Can be hesitant.
  • Undersized for middle linebacker

Summary

  • A solid linebacker that does not make mistakes but also doesn’t make a lot of big play either
  • A solid contributor early on that might come in an replace a starter
  • Needs more nastiness
  • I believe he is more of a MIKE, probably could play Will too.
  • Honestly, every time I tried to watch tape of him, Striker kept showing up
  • Graded as a high fourth rounder (top 100)

 

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Roster: Strategies & Players For Inside Linebacker 8Nick Vigil (Utah St.)

Strengths

  • Good athlete
  • Takes good angles
  • Has really good awareness
  • Always comes forward
  • Good solid hands
  • Good in zone coverage
  • Good motor

Weaknesses

  • Not the fastest player
  • Willing tackle, but not someone you would say is a thumper
  • Would like to see him more big plays
  • Would like to see him be more instinctual. Reads what is going on around him, but sometimes that can make him hesitant. Would like to see him just go make a play
  • Will struggle in man coverage

Summary

  • Good motor. Is a high energy guy who will be a core special teamer.
  • While he has good awareness, it at times makes him hesitant.
  • Would like to see him be more of a hammer.
  • Style of a MIKE, but not the size.
  • Graded as a high fourth rounder (top 120)

 

Jared Norris
I like him, he is a good developmental middle or strong side linebacker. He has attitude and is a thumper. Better against the run than pass. He can take on linemen, shed, and fill the hole. Strong and physically imposing, but not a super athlete.

He is slower than you would like and I question his short area quickness. He is stiff and struggles against quicker backs. There were several times that he was “shook” by the back. He does have a high energy level and you get the sense that he is a football guy. I did not see him get knocked backwards much but I did see him miss some tackles; again, usually against a smaller back.

I think he would be a great fit for the Cowboys as strong side linebacker if they could get him at the bottom of the fourth or top of the fifth. A TOP 150.

Scooby Wright
A little slow. At times he sheds blocks well and others he just gets blown out of the hole. He has good vision and reaction skills, but does not play with enough power for an inside backer. He does have a good motor and is always around the ball. Misses open field tackles due to poor angles. Plays assignment football. Needs more awareness on backside blocks. Not a great blitzer, and does not have any pass moves.

Overall, he’s active, smart, and disciplined but does not bring the boom or get off blocks consistently enough. I have him at the end of the fourth, top of the 5th round. He is outside the top 120.

Blake Martinez
Not much tape on him, but from the games I watched he is a solid smart and disciplined middle linebacker who can overcome some physical limitations with his awareness, tenacity, and motor.

He has the size of a prototypical middle linebacker, but he is more of a finesse type player than a brute. That does not bode well since he does not have the athleticism of a finesse player. Good player on your team because he will make sure everyone is where they need to be. He understands concepts and that helps him read plays quickly. However, he will be limited because of his physical shortcomings.

I have him rated as a 5th rounder. He is a top 150 player.

The Cowboys have a few options. They can try to keep McClain, who did get better in the year. They can also decide it is time for Hitchens to become a starter. So they have a luxury of not having to go after an inside linebacker. However, they will need to draft or get a free agent for at least one of the two positions (SAM or MIKE). The MIKE is important in the defensive scheme being run, so it needs to be a priority.

If the Cowboys can go out and get a free agent starter, they should. Why?

  • Myles Jack would be better as a Will
  • Jaylon Smith is hurt and may need most of next year to heal
  • I do not think Ragland will do as well in the pros
  • There are not a lot of other possible starters.

There are a couple of possible exceptions that could surprise. If Jordan Jenkins runs well enough (under 4.75), I think he can play middle linebacker and be a thumper. He certainly can play the SAM and be a situational DE so there is less risk. I also think that Joshua Perry can move inside and be an effective middle linebacker. Jared Wright may be a good option later in the draft for added depth. He may be able to play the SAM as well.

Good starting free agent options will include Trevathan, Rey, and Weatherspoon. Lesser known options could be McClellin (Bears) or Brown (Titans).

There are not a lot of starting MIKE’s in this draft so the Cowboys need to try to address the starting MIKE in free agency, if possible. If they fail, they need to address in the first round or they will most likely not find a starter. If they do miss on a LB in the first, then they may take a chance on Jenkins or Perry in the second or third. Otherwise they will need to draft a backup like Norris or Vigil.

I hope you enjoyed this. Check out my next Blog on the outside linebackers tomorrow at 11.

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Tommy Simon is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker and sports enthusiast. He is currently CEO of TechBAA, an investor and board member of TPC Technical and CommunitesFIrst, and acting CFO for ALS Communities. In addition to investing and advising companies, Tommy is also a Sales Management coach and is working with companies as a Fractional CMO/CSO. Tommy is a life long football player, coach and Cowboy fan. He currently coaches and sponsors several 7 on 7 teams. He manages/coaches an adult flag football team that is the top team in Florida one of the highest ranked teams in the country. Tommy's hobbies include international travel, fantasy football, reading, and engaging in intelligent political discourse. He is married to a wonderful women for 18 years; which is the best thing he has ever accomplished. He has a dog that is the best dog ever. He also has 9 siblings and roughly 30 nieces and nephews. For more information about tommy, or to request him to speak, please contact him at info@techbaa.com

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Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Headlines - Forget the Triplets: Cowboys Need The Underrated to Shine in 2016
Ashley Landis / The Dallas Morning News

For better or worse, the Cowboys don’t even need to play football to be all over national TV. I guess it’s just part of being the one and only America’s Team. For the second consecutive week, Fox Sports had a Dallas Cowboys’ player on set for Fox’s “Undisputed.”

Just a week ago, Brice Butler made waves with some controversial comments that failed to make him look like a “great teammate.”

This time, Fox’s guest was Cowboys’ Cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Unlike Butler, I really think we should give Scandrick credit for being a very good teammate, and acting like one on his TV appearance.

Throughout the segment, it feels as if Orlando is being tricked into saying something against his teammates. Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe start bashing on Dez Bryant‘s performance and the fact that he should be replaced.

Of course, this is the kind of stuff fans in Cowboys Nation are thinking about. Heck, I really wouldn’t even mind if Dez isn’t wearing a star next season. However, I really disliked Butler’s comments when asked if he would’ve done a better job if given the same opportunities as Dez.

Scandrick’s responses were awesome though. When asked if he would defend Dez, he didn’t even hesitate.

“I don’t think he’s lost any confidence. He’s one of the most confident players I’ve ever been around. I think it can all be fixed. I think he just needs to get back to work and get back to the basics.” – Orlando Scandrick on Dez Bryant.

Scandrick also answered questions about what went wrong with the Cowboys this season by pointing out the fact they lost one of their best players because of a suspension, and some injuries. But he also said what’s been in our minds for a long time. When asked what was the biggest reason they struggled, he said some painful, yet truthful words: “We played some bad football against some very good teams.”

Later, he was asked about how Sean Lee’s absence affected the defense, he insisted they didn’t step up. At the end of the day, the NFL is a league in which you can’t be that dependent on a single player.

Sean Lee is an awesome player, but I think we’d all like to see this defense be a little less dependent on him.

Scandrick even had to defend Dak Prescott.

Dak was highly criticized after a sophomore season in which he struggled, alongside the entire team. But in the words of Orlando, we should “give him time.” Dak had a lot on his plate, but he made a lot of progress for the Cowboys.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Orlando Scandrick’s time in Dallas may be coming to an end, especially with young guys like Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis taking over. He’s signed through 2019, so who knows; maybe we see him wearing the star for a bit longer.

“It’s always a possibility.” – Orlando Scandrick on potentially not returning to Dallas next season.

Even still, it’s nice to see him support his football team and his friends on a show which featured a non-starting Cowboys’ wide receiver taking shots against his team. Orlando Scandrick deserves an applause.

Tell me what you think about “Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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Should Cowboys Pursue Veteran Backup at Quarterback?

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys en Español: Cooper Rush
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys only have two quarterbacks under contract right now, starter Dak Prescott and backup Cooper Rush. With only three years of combined experience between them, one could argue that a veteran presence would be useful. Should Dallas make a veteran QB a free-agent priority in the 2018 offseason?

Of course, there’s plenty of other QB experience on the Cowboys staff. Head Coach Jason Garrett played professionally from 1989-2004, and started his coaching career with quarterbacks.

Scott Linehan has been coaching offense with an emphasis on the passing game for 30 years.

Kellen Moore, who is taking over for the departed Wade Wilson as quarterbacks coach, has played very recently and will bring a fresh perspective.

However, losing Wilson’s experience from the room, and the lack of any veteran player at QB, shouldn’t be dismissed.

Dak Prescott has said veteran Mark Sanchez — who was with Dallas in 2016 — was a major help during his whirlwind rookie season. Tony Romo enjoyed veteran advice from guys like Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, and Kyle Orton throughout his playing career.

This isn’t to say Dallas would want to bring in a veteran to knock Cooper Rush down the depth chart. After a surprising preseason, Rush took the backup job from Kellen Moore and certainly has intriguing upside.

If the Cowboys were to add a veteran, that player would have to come in with the understanding he’s competing with Cooper and may not be guaranteed a job.

The good news is that it’ll be a buyer’s market for veteran quarterbacks this offseason.

Guys like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, and Matt Moore could all be available. Even a player with more pedigree, such as Sam Bradford, may have trouble finding starting work with many jobs taken among the NFL’s 32 teams.

Dallas could even consider bringing back Mark Sanchez, given his previous relationship with Dak Prescott. He only had a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.

Given Prescott’s seeming durability, Dallas will likely only keep two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in 2018 and for years to come. Because of that, they may be content to focus on Dak and Cooper Rush, and just get through the offseason with training camp bodies.

However, the case can certainly be made for adding another veteran player with the desire to teach to help these young quarterbacks develop. Prescott was not the same guy in 2017 that we saw as a rookie, and perhaps the absence of guys like Sanchez and Tony on the sideline had something to do with that.

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Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal is a Good Hire for Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Why WR Coach Sanjay Lal Is A Good Hire For Cowboys

Yesterday, it was announced that the Dallas Cowboys will hire Sanjay Lal to be their new wide receivers coach. Lal spent 2017 with the Indianapolis Colts in the same position, but has made multiple stops around the NFL prior to joining the Cowboys staff.

Most recently and arguably most notably, Sanjay Lal was the receivers coach for both the New York Jets (2012-2014) and the Buffalo Bills (2015-2016). This means he coached on Rex Ryan’s staff for two different teams, with two very similar offensive philosophies.

Run the football.

As seen in the video below, Sanjay Lal has experience working as the wide outs coach for an offense with a run-first philosophy. He even says himself that their offense in New York was “ground and pound,” but notes that “without a pass game there’s no pound.”

Cowboys fans became all too familiar with the truth behind that statement during the 2017 season, as even solid efforts in the run game were rendered meaningless by their lack of explosion through the air.

Jets Nation Inside Camp: Sanjay Lal Mic’d Up

Jets wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal is mic’d up during training camp, and also discusses trying to play pro football before becoming a coach in the NFL.

A lot has been made of Sanjay Lal’s lack of 1,000-yard receivers during his time as a coach. The offensive philosophies of the teams which he coached for, however, show why this criticism is flimsy.

It’s quite possible the Cowboys will once again be without a 1,000 yard pass catcher this season, but if Ezekiel Elliott and the run game are clicking, and Dak Prescott is spreading the ball to different targets, this stat won’t mean a thing.

Lal was also the coach in Buffalo when Sammy Watkins had the best years of his career, including a 1,000-yard season.

During that stint he coached Robert Woods to productive seasons as well. Now Woods is a dangerous target for the Los Angeles Rams after being coached by Lal for multiple seasons.

These were also the same years that quarterback Tyrod Taylor was at his best.

While in New York, with the Jets, Lal’s most productive receiver was Jeremy Kerley, who finished with 827 yards in 2012 and 523 in 2013. What’s important to note here is that Kerley played as a slot receiver for much of his time as a Jet.

The Cowboys lacked any type of production from the slot in 2017, but maybe Lal can change that by getting the best out of Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer, as he did with Kerley.

Bryan Broaddus on Twitter

Know that some believe he had a real shot to be an OC in this league one day. https://t.co/1s21w2jZGR

All indications from those “in the know” suggest Sanjay Lal is on his way to becoming an offensive coordinator soon. Many believe he has the smarts and the football IQ to command an offense himself, as soon as he gets the right opportunity.

Maybe that opportunity will come down the line in Dallas, where he can continue to coach within that “ground and pound” style, which he has done for many years while also implementing elements of his own passing game expertise.

Everyone has been critical of the Cowboys’ inability to bring in external hires, and to spark up new/creative offensive ideas. Lal has spent time among some of the smartest offensive minds in football.

Maybe he’s the man to bring in that outside creativity this offense seems to lack.

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