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Cowboys Secondary: Xavier Woods An Important Piece Going Forward

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Need Depth of 2017 Draft to Shine in 2018 1

The Dallas Cowboys secondary has been the subject of much discussion this offseason. With the hiring of former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard, many expect the Cowboys to change their defensive back thresholds, and shuffle around the personnel.

Fans are hoping Richard will build a new version of the Legion of Boom in Dallas, centered around long cornerbacks and a physical strong safety. To complete the puzzle, however, they'd need someone who can play free safety and execute as a centerfielder. Someone who can fulfill the Earl Thomas role to a certain extent. It could be argued that Byron Jones has the skillset to fill that role, but it has been reported Richard would like to move him to cornerback full time.

The safety who should be focused on by Cowboys Nation moving forward, however, might be Xavier Woods. The former sixth round pick was considered a steal during the 2017 NFL Draft, and his rookie season verified that as well.

Xavier Woods finished his rookie season with 41 tackles, 1 for loss, 1 fumble recovery, and an interception. Woods was used as an X-Factor so to speak, moving around the defense and providing position flexibility. Playing as the nickel corner, the strong safety, and the free safety at times, Woods made his impact felt from multiple spots.It's Time For Xavier Woods To Start At Safety

While this versatility lends him more to Nickel and Dime packages on defense, I believe he could be a full time free safety if given the opportunity to do so. No, he isn't the prototypical "centerfielder" like Thomas is in Seattle, but Woods could be an important chess piece for this young secondary.

I believe he was misused as a slot cornerback, and is better suited to play safety going forward. Hopefully with new blood in the defensive coaching staff, and a full season worth of film on Xavier Woods' strengths and weaknesses, the Cowboys will find a way to make this talented player valuable on the field.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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3 Comments
  • Nick Russo

    I strongly agree with this and have been hoping we might do this since Kavon Frazier had his coming out party at home against Washington. Frazier is a true strong safety that can step in the box to play the run and he is a sure tackler. Byron Jones is much better suited to play cornerback as his coverage ability is top notch. He’s proven himself thus far in his career handling some of the best TEs in the league (we play reed, engram, and ertz twice a year also) and had a good rookie year playing outside corner. I like him on the outside with Chido and Lewis playing the slot. Which brings us to woods. Xavier showed us his coverage and tackle skills as a rookie playing the nickel last year. Both traits are needed to play that free safety position. But, he had 14 career interceptions in college, including 7 his senior year playing free safety for La Tech. I think this shuffling puts our personnel in the position to optimize their strengths and with the improvement and talent in the front 7, we could have a formidable defense for the next few years.

    • Steve Johnson

      well said

  • Russ_Te

    When Collins moved to RT, the thinking was to use his great physical tools and not only fill the void when Free retired, but upgrade the position. Uncertainty existed then but it has pretty much worked.

    Similar for Jones to CB. We don’t know if he will excel, only that if he does you will have bookends talent there with him and Awuzie. Then that helps solve the puzzle inside. The best projection is that Woods and Frazier are that tandem. Both with learning curves, but a lot of upside potential.

    If I am spending in free agency this year, I’d rather go elsewhere besides Earl Thomas. Much rather bet on Woods and go get a swing OL or speed WR if available.

Dallas Cowboys

Jaguars Waive Barry Church; Could Cowboys Bring Him Back?

Jess Haynie

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Barry Church

Veteran safety Barry Church was released today by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Could he return home to the Dallas Cowboys, where he spent his first seven seasons?

Despite his leadership and consistency on defense, Dallas allowed Church to leave in free agency when Jacksonville gave him a lucrative deal. But if he clears waivers, could the Cowboys consider bring him back for depth and support during their likely playoff run?

Jane Slater of the NFL Network reported on this potential reunion:

Jane Slater on Twitter

Cowboys haven't reached out to S Barry Church but I'm told they are discussing the possibility of bringing him back to Dallas according to a source informed. Church, 30, was released by the Jags today and is familiar with the system having played there from 2010-2016.

The Cowboys have had solid play from their current starting safeties, Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. Neither is a star, but the duo has not been a liability during the team's current five-game winning streak.

Church was a similar player, reliable if never exceptional, during his time in Dallas. He could be a nice insurance policy for the playoffs if something happened to one of the starters.

Barry knows the system. He never played for Kris Richard, but he was with Rod Marinelli for three seasons before leaving in free agency.

According to reports out of Jacksonville, Church is being released because the team wants to go with younger, cheaper players now that their season is over. There is no known injury keeping Barry from playing.

Of course, Dallas would have to make room on the roster to pick Church up. They could third-year prospect Darian Thompson, who is the current fourth man at safety.

Barry Church must now go through the 24-hour waiver process. A team may claim him, including the Cowboys. We'll see what the future holds.



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Dallas Cowboys

How the Dallas Cowboys Can Win the NFC East This Week

Jess Haynie

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Jaylon Smith, Eagles

It's only Week 15, but the Dallas Cowboys could become the 2018 NFC East Champions this week through a couple of scenarios. I thought we'd take a moment today to break down how the Boys can win their division and assure their spot in the playoffs.

With three weeks left in the regular season, most of the divisional games have already been played. The only two left to play are the Week 17 finales; Cowboys at Giants and Eagles at Redskins.

Here are the current standings:

  1. Dallas Cowboys 8-5 (4-1 in division)
  2. Philadelphia Eagles 6-7 (3-2 in division)
  3. Washington Redskins 6-7 (2-3 in division)
  4. New York Giants 5-8 (1-4 in division)

The Giants have been scrappy lately, winning four of their last five, but it's too late for them to try to win the division. Even if the Cowboys were to fall to 8-8, the best New York could do is tie them in overall record. They would have also split their head-to-head series, negating that tiebreaker.

At that point, it would come down to the record within the division. New York would improve to 2-4 with a win over Dallas in Week 17, but the Cowboys would still be 4-2 against the NFC East. Dallas would still be the division champion.

So, that knocks out New York. Technically, the Eagles and Redskins are still alive. But their margin is about as slim as it gets.

Both Philadelphia and Washington need the Cowboys to lose their last three games, and then to also win out themselves, to steal the NFC East crown.

Sean's Scout: Cowboys Thankful for Cooper in Division Win Over Redskins

Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper

For the Redskins, it's about their record against division opponents. The best they can finish is 3-3, assuming they'd win their last game against the Eagles. With the head-to-head series against Dallas split this year, they would have to finish 9-7 overall and have the Cowboys drop to 8-8 to become NFC East Champions.

The Eagles also need to finish one game ahead of Dallas, but for a different reason. Philadelphia lost both their games with the Cowboys this year, so Dallas has the head-to-head tiebreaker.

So that really makes thing simple for Dallas; win just one of your last three games and you're the division champion.

Not only that, but even if Dallas were to fall this week against the Indianapolis Colts, they could still clinch the division with losses by the Eagles (@ Rams) and Redskins (@ Jaguars).

It would certainly behoove the Cowboys to get the division locked up now. They could then use the last two weeks of the season to get ready for the playoffs.

Dallas would have the freedom rest banged up players like Ezekiel Elliott and Zack Martin. It would also allow them to work in returning players such as Sean Lee and Tavon Austin and figure out their new rotations without pressure to win.

Beating the Colts on Sunday isn't a given; they're at home and desperate to stay alive in the AFC playoff picture. They are the toughest opponent Dallas has left until January.

But despite that, with the Eagles facing a juggernaut team and Washington trying to play football without a quarterback, there's a great chance that the Cowboys will be the NFC East Champions by Sunday night.



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#INDvsDAL: How The Game May Be Decided In The Red Zone

Kevin Brady

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Fantasy Football - Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - Week 2 2
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In many ways the Dallas Cowboys offense has found their stride in recent weeks. Over this five game win streak they have "found their identity" playing ball control offense and trusting their quarterback to make big throws when needed most. Of course the defense has been the star most weeks, but this offense should not be slept on either.

This doesn't mean the offense has been without their fair share of struggles, however, particularly in the red zone. Struggles that the numbers say could cost the Cowboys this weeks' game in Indianapolis if they don't get it cleaned up.

In terms of red zone offensive efficiency the Cowboys have been downright horrendous. In fact, they are dead-last in the league in success rate inside the 10 yard line, last in first-and-goal success rate, and 21st in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

There's no sugar-coating those numbers, they are bad. Especially when you consider that this team has arguably the league's best running back and a quarterback with the size and athleticism you might expect from a linebacker.

For as bad as the Cowboys are inside the red zone, the Colts are equally as good. Indianapolis is top 10 in terms of success rate inside the 10, at the goal line, and in first-and-goal success rate. They are also 11th in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

Despite not having the individual running back the Cowboys have, the Colts offensive line and skill players as a whole set them up a bit better when the field is shortened. Tight end Eric Ebron has been rather incredible in terms of production this season, catching 12 touchdowns on 58 receptions. Andrew Luck is also a more accurate quarterback than Dak Prescott, though Prescott should be a much more dangerous red zone threat than he currently is.

Bob Sturm on Twitter

I am working on the Cowboys 32nd ranked Goal-to-Go offensive numbers. They have run 35 of their 59 total plays out of Shotgun-11 Personnel. In those 35 plays, the average gain per snap is....12 INCHES. I am not kidding. They could out-gain that by running QB sneaks. I am amazed.

Of course, some of the Cowboys red zone struggles can be pinned on offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Linehan has failed to scheme open the "easy" red zone touchdowns we see so often around the league. As pointed out by Bob Sturm on Twitter this week, the Cowboys' personnel groupings and play calls when in goal-to-go situations have been questionable to say the least. But while blame does fall on the coaches' shoulders, the players need to execute better as well.

Games in the NFL often come down to just a handful of plays, and red zone efficiency plays a key role in deciding the outcome of close games every week. If this is once again the case on Sunday, based on past performance, the Dallas Cowboys could be in trouble against the efficient Colts.



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