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Cowboys Secondary: Too Soon To Start CB Jourdan Lewis?

Brian Martin

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Has CB Jourdan Lewis Earned A Starting Role?
Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

In order to hopefully improve the production in the secondary, the Dallas Cowboys decided to pretty much completely overhaul the entire backend of their defense. With all of the new faces expected to play key roles in the secondary, no one really knew how things would turn out. It is still somewhat of a mystery considering the mixed bag of results through the first three weeks of the season, but there are signs things are indeed improving.

Of course, not everything has been rainbows and sunshine for the Dallas Cowboys secondary. Injuries have hit them pretty hard through the first three weeks, but that has also created opportunities for some of their younger players, such as rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis.

Jourdan Lewis

CB Jourdan Lewis

The former Michigan standout cornerback, Jourdan Lewis, was the Dallas Cowboys third round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Despite arguably having first-round talent, he slid right into the Cowboys lap in the third round for two reasons.

First, he had a domestic violence charge filed against him and that didn't even go to court until after the draft and before preseason. Teams were probably wary of drafting him because of the unknown of the DV charge, but fortunately he was acquitted. Secondly, due to his size he was believed to be regulated only to the slot in the NFL and slot CBs typically don't get drafted very highly.

Due to Lewis' previous mentioned court date for domestic violence, he had to show up after the Dallas Cowboys training camp was already underway. This already put him behind the eight ball, but things got even worse when he sustained a hamstring injury that kept him out all of training camp and preseason. This also carried over into the season and forced him to miss the Week 1 match up with the New York Giants.

CB Jourdan Lewis

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Jourdan Lewis was finally active for the first time in his NFL career in Week 2 against the Denver Broncos and unfortunately it was kind of baptism by fire for the rookie. The Cowboys were forced to play Lewis due to injuries, but despite missing so much time during the off-season, he performed above expectations. Lewis finished the game with six tackles and his first career interception in the NFL.

Lewis was once again thrust into action due to injuries the following week against the Arizona Cardinals and once again held his own. QB Carson Palmer targeted Lewis nine times, but was only able to complete five of those passes for 33 yards. Lewis finished the game with six tackles, one tackle for loss, and a pass defensed.

Now, I don't know how much credibility Pro Football Focus has with their grading, but they awarded Lewis an 87.6 grade against the Cardinals. They also have him graded out as the 11th best CB in the NFL, with a score of 83.8. That puts him in some pretty good company among cornerbacks around the NFL.

CB Jourdan Lewis

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

With two pretty good games under his belt, it's hard to argue that Jourdan Lewis' playing time won't increase. He's played so well in fact that he could be looking at earning a starting role.

Now, I know this may be jumping the gun a little because it is really early in the season still. But, injuries have already given him a leg up on the competition. Nolan Carroll had to miss last week because of a concussion and unfortunately didn't play very well prior to that injury. Injuries have also been a problem for Chidobe Awuzie and Orlando Scandrick this season.

The fact Lewis has stepped up when needed and proved to be capable of handling a starting role probably hasn't gone unnoticed by the coaching staff. I personally believe Lewis can start in the slot or on the outside, much like the Cowboys second year CB Anthony Brown. Both Brown and Lewis are roughly the same size, and both already have one INT under their belt this season.

Jourdan Lewis still has a ways to go in order to lock down a starting role, but it's comforting to know that he is more than capable of doing so if needed.

Do you think Jourdan Lewis deserves to be a starter?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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6 Comments
  • James Howerton

    Another good read, Brian. I think Lewis has played extremely well considering the disadvantages he’s had (whether his fault or not) that you pointed out in your article. DB is definitely one of the hardest positions to play in the NFL. If the kid is playing well, in my opinion he SHOULD be rewarded with the starting role. I believe this draft is going to turn out to be another gem for Dallas, although I know that I’m probably being overly optimistic. But that’s the way I try to look at everything, not just football.

    • Brian Martin

      Thanks James. I agree with you. I think Lewis deserves a bigger role on defense. He will probably only continue to get better the more he plays. I also agree with you about this draft class. It probably won’t have the star power as the 2016 draft class, but I think there will be some big contributors like Lewis.

  • Christopher Dolan

    I always like your articles because you ask the questions fans have on their minds. I wouldn’t have a problem flipping Jourdan for Nolan. He needs the reps and the jump from his 1st to 2nd game was huge. Love how he tackles. From the injury report it looks like Jourdan and Carrol are FULL to go. Let Nolan back him up. Sorry, but Jourdan impresses and Nolan doesn’t. To me that was Nolan’s role ~ to be the bridge for this rookie class of DBs and Lewis has crossed it. I also want to see more of Woods. In the preseason against the Rams he was all over the field. Kavon is questionable as of right now, so hopefully Xavier will see more reps. As intriguing as our offense was last year, it is the defense that I watch most intently this year.

    • Brian Martin

      Christopher, I try to write articles that the readers want to read about. I’m glad that you enjoy them. And I completely agree with you about Lewis. I think he has played better than Nolan already in his young career. I also think we will see more of Woods, because I think the Cowboys will probably playing with a lot more DBs on the field like they did against the Cardinals. We also could see Woods stealing some reps from Heath as the season progresses. There is going to be some growing pains with the young players, but they also show quite a bit of promise.

  • Steve

    I agree with James as well in believing that the 2017 draft class for the Cowboyz is starting to look as though we have gotten some gems on the defensive side of the ball. Well timed and what a overhaul it will be if Lewis,Awuzie,Woods and Taco all are above average talents that supplant aging veterans and not drop off in production…. Super excited about our future and the direction we are heading for and that’s a Super Bowl…. Of course I myself am completely biased, but I actually had Lewis and Awuzie as 2 of the top 5 cb’s in the draft….

    • Brian Martin

      Steve, I actually had Lewis and Awuzie graded out as fringe first-round talents. I was really excited that the Dallas Cowboys were able to draft both players where they did. The 2017 draft class for the Cowboys will without a doubt have some growing pains, but I think nearly all of them can develop into starters. Some of them may be this year, but the majority of them by year two.

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Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018

Jess Haynie

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Amari Cooper

For the second time in just three weeks, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Cooper scored three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to lead the Cowboys to victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 10 catches for 217 yards, which led all NFL receivers last week.

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After his record-setting performance during week 14, @AmariCooper9 is the FIRST #DallasCowboys to win NFC Player of the Week twice in a season! → https://t.co/kvBDIeOgBd #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote

As the official website stated, Cooper is the first Cowboy to win the award twice in the same year. He's also the first Cowboy to be named Offensive Player of the Week since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.

Before this year, Elliott was the only Dallas player to win the Offensive award in three seasons. Cooper has now done it twice in three weeks.

Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has amassed 40 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns.

His wasted time in Oakland may keep Cooper out of the Pro Bowl this year, but he's already become a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. Congratulations to Amari for another well-deserved award!



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Cowboys Playoff Scenarios: Week 15 Impact Games

Jess Haynie

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Making Sense of the "Garrett Guys" Behind Cowboys Dez Bryant Release

It's hard to believe that we're looking at the Dallas Cowboys potentially clinching the NFC East this week, but that's how dramatic the turnaround has been over the last five games. Week 15 could lock Dallas into the playoffs and give them a lot of freedom over their final two games.

If the season ended today, these would be your NFC playoff standings:

  1. New Orleans Saints (11-2)
  2. Los Angeles Rams (11-2)
  3. Chicago Bears (9-4)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (8-5)
  5. Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
  6. Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1)
    ----------------------------------
  7. Carolina Panthers (6-7)
  8. Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)
  9. Washington Redskins (6-7)

TIEBREAKERS

  • The Cowboys lost to Seattle earlier this year, but still remain the 4th seed as a division winner over a wild card team.
  • The Panthers are ahead of the Eagles thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker.
  • The Eagles are ahead of the Redskins thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker. They play each other again in Week 17.
  • The Redskins beat the Panthers earlier this year, but their loss to Philadelphia within their own division negates that tiebreaker.

In truth, there's not much intrigue left for the Cowboys in this regular season. One win gives them the NFC East, and it would take the Saints or Rams dropping all three of their remaining games for Dallas to have a shot at a top-two seed.

So, barring the nearly impossible, Dallas is locked into either the 3rd or 4th seed. They will host one of the Wild Card teams in the first round of the playoffs.

The biggest thing to watch now is how the seeding shakes among the bottom four playoff teams. The Seahawks seem a cut above the likes of Minnesota, Carolina, or one of our NFC East friends, so avoiding them in the first round would be lovely.

Here are this week's games involving the NFC playoff contenders:

Dallas Cowboys @ Indianapolis Colts

We've already discussed what the Cowboys need to do, so let's talk about the Colts. Not only do they have home field advantage this week, but they are fighting for their playoff lives.

Indianapolis is one of four teams with a 7-6 record battling for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC playoffs. The Broncos are also in the mix at 6-7, giving none of these teams any cushion for losing.

Dallas has its own incentive to win, though. If they want to avoid Seattle in the first round, they probably need to take the #3 seed from the Chicago Bears. They need to keep winning and hope for the Bears to drop a game or two.

Ultimately, getting into the playoffs and starting at home is a huge reward. But anything that can help make the road a little easier is worth pursuing. It's no time to rest on your laurels.

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears

As we just discussed, we'd like to see Chicago drop a few games to give Dallas a shot at the #3 seed. This week isn't the worst opportunity, with Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay still not completely eliminated from playoff contention.

Expecting much from the Packers here is unwise. They've had a coaching change and appear to be in a state of organizational disarray. But they still have Rodgers, and crazy things always happens in rivalry games.

So while these are two teams seemingly headed in opposite directions, you never know what could happen given the variable elements. By all means, root for the Cheeseheads.

Miami Dolphins @ Minnesota Vikings

Your rooting interest here comes down to a simple question; who do you prefer to play among that last bunch of Wild Card teams? Who does Dallas match up best against between the Vikings, Panthers, and Eagles?

I think we'd all agree that we don't want to see the Eagles a third time. Beating a team three times in one year is tough to do, and especially given how close last week's meeting was.

The Panthers beat Dallas in the season opener, but that was in Carolina and well before the Cowboys were playing at a high level. A second meeting could go very differently, especially with the recent slumping by the Panthers.

Both Carolina and Minnesota are struggling, with one on a five-game losing streak and the latter having lost their last two. The Vikings just fired their offensive coordinator, so neither of these teams appear to be going into the postseason with any real momentum.

At this point, I'd say it's a toss-up between the Panthers and Vikings. Both are much preferable to seeing the Eagles again, so I would just keep rooting for both to win. In either case, they knock out Philadelphia.

We'll reassess the threat level of Carolina and Minnesota as playoff opponents in a few weeks.

Washington Redskins @ Jacksonville Jaguars

I didn't mention the Redskins among those last three teams because they may not win another game this year. Their QB situation is so bad that even the Jaguars look good by comparison.

Granted, Jacksonville is lousy right now. Washington might be able to go down there and get a win, but neither team has anything to play for now. This one may come down to whether or not the Jaguars have gone into tank mode.

Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers

Seattle just walloped the Niners 43-16 a couple of weeks ago, and changing venues is unlikely to make that much difference. The Seahawks are a legit NFC contender and San Francisco is already thinking about the offseason. A Seattle loss would be great, but it ain't happening this week.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Los Angeles Rams

While catching the Rams and getting a top-two seed would be great, it's barely plausible. The far more concrete benefit here is seeing the Eagles lose and getting them further away from a possible Wild Card spot.

In fact, an Eagles' loss this week would give Dallas the NFC East even if the Cowboys fall in  Indianapolis. That's not the way we want to win the division, but you take what you can get.

With the breaking news that Carson Wentz is unlikely to play this week with a back injury, you'd generally think this suits the Cowboys' interests. But Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles is still the backup in Philadelphia, so is anything really for certain?

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers

We have every reason to root for Carolina here. For one, it helps the Panthers stay ahead of the Eagles in the Wild Card race. Also, it brings the Saints one loss closer to possibly being caught by Dallas. A Saints win doesn't really benefit us all.



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Ezekiel Elliott has Huge Day vs Eagles Thanks to Receiving Prowess

John Williams

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Ezekiel Elliott has Huge Day vs Eagles Thanks to Receiving Prowess

The Dallas Cowboys came away with a huge win against their division rival Philadelphia Eagles, putting them in a commanding position in the NFC East. They're up two games in the division and one of the more underrated story lines from the victory is Ezekiel Elliott's game. He had a huge day that no one is talking about.

Elliott had 28 carries for 113 yards and then caught 12 passes on 13 targets en route to his big performance in the 29-23 win over the Eagles. That's probably the quietest 40 touch, 192 total yard game you'll ever hear about. And yet, that's where we are. Please read that stat line again, because in all of our talk about Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and the defense, Ezekiel Elliott's stat line is absolutely ridiculous.

The receiving element that Elliott is providing the biggest difference to the offense this season. He's been a huge asset to Dak Prescott in the passing game as both a primary target and a check down option in the short part of the field. If Elliott isn't showing that he's the best running back in the league, with what he's doing with a broke down offensive line, then people will never give him the credit he's due.

For the last three years, the Dallas Cowboys and their fan base has known what an elite player the Cowboys have in Elliott. He's easily one of the best runners in the NFL, but if you talk to the general NFL fanbase or analysts around the league, Elliott doesn't get the same kind of love as players like Todd Gurley and Le'Veon Bell receive from the national media. The knock against Elliott has been that he doesn't bring the same value as a receiver. With what he has done over the last six weeks, and really all season long, it's safe to say, that won't be a knock against the Cowboys All-Pro running back.

Among running backs this season, Ezekiel Elliott ranks sixth in targets (77), fifth in receptions (65). seventh in yards (502), and is tied for 12th in receiving touchdowns with three. Elliott is the seventh highest rated running back when targeted among running backs with at least 50 targets this season.

Over the last six weeks, since the Amari Cooper trade, only Christian McCaffrey has more targets, receptions, and yards than Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott's previous career high was in 2016 when he caught 32 passes on 39 targets. With three games left in the season, Elliott has more than doubled his previous career high from that season. Over the last six weeks, he's caught 40 passes with an average of 6.7 receptions per game.

Ezekiel Elliott is on pace for his best total yardage season in the NFL. If he continues at his current per game averages, Elliott would finish the season with 330 carries for 1,553 rushing yards, 80 catches on 100 targets for 618 yards and 10 total touchdowns. He's been great this year, but he's been even better over the last six games. At his per game averages for the last six games, over a 16 game season, Elliott's numbers would look like this; 363 carries for 1,715 yards rushing, 107 receptions on 120 targets for 872 yards, and 13 total touchdowns.

It's rare that Ezekiel Elliott has a game like he did on Sunday and it goes largely unnoticed by Cowboys Nation, but that's just how tremendous Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper were. In a game where the Cowboys got big games and big plays through the passing game, it was Elliott's steadiness that held things together and helped sustain drives like the fourth and one conversion in overtime. Even with Amari Cooper elevating his game since coming to the Cowboys, there's no question that Ezekiel Elliott is the Cowboys best skill position player. Expect more big games for Elliott as the Cowboys continue to "Feed Zeke."



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