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Cowboys TE Battle: Can Jarwin Overcome Witten’s Legacy?

Jess Haynie



Blake Jarwin

Blake Jarwin finished last season with his stock at its all-time high, especially thanks to a three-touchdown explosion in the Week 17 finale. He seemed like the answer at tight end for the Cowboys, but then Jason Witten came back and created a whole new question. How can Jarwin, still very unproven, overcome Witten's incredible legacy in this 2019 training camp?

Witten is more than just a longtime star. He's a lock for the Ring of Honor and should be a shoe-in for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Here's a quick refresher on Jason's resume:

  • Cowboys all-time leader in receptions
  • Cowboys all-time leader in receiving yards
  • 2nd all-time in receptions for NFL tight ends
  • 2nd all-time in receiving yards for NFL tight ends
  • 4th all-time in receptions for all NFL players
  • 21st all-time in receiving yards for all NFL players

So yeah, Jason Witten is a big, freaking deal. It'd be very easy to get distracted by his surprising comeback from the broadcast booth and assume he's walking back into his same old job.

But the harsh reality is that none of Witten's 1,152 career catches, 12,448 yards, or 68 touchdowns are going to help the Dallas Cowboys win in 2019.

Being honest about the present in no way diminishes the past. Witten's comeback tour is a neat story, but is he really the Cowboys' best option at tight end for this season?

One media personality's observation from training camp yesterday, however simple, is worth noting.

Jeff Cavanaugh on Twitter

With all due respect. And again I'm saying with all due respect....there's a big difference in the way #89 and #82 move around out here. Jarwin is moving really well.

Even if Jason Witten is recharged after a year away he's not going to win back everything from Father Time. He will never be the same player as in his prime, and the Jason we saw in 2017 was struggling to make an impact with his decreased athleticism.

Blake Jarwin is 25 years old and in just his third season. He spent most of 2017 on the practice squad and most of 2018 stuck behind Geoff Swaim as a reserve. 2019 is his first real shot at being the primary option at tight end.

There is a lot that Witten's experience and technique can do to help him be effective. But in the end, football has a lot do with the primal advantages of being bigger, stronger, and faster than the opposition.

Jarwin may never be what Witten was, but neither can Jason at this point. The question for 2019 is who can get closest.

One of the beautiful things about Jason's return is his expressed willingness to be a mentor to Jarwin and the other young players. He's declared that he's not worried about his role and just wants to help the Cowboys win.

If Witten is a man of his word, then living up to it may involve stepping back and letting Blake Jarwin take center stage at tight end. Even if Jason knows what to do out there better than the youngster, he may simply be unable to execute the plays the way the Cowboys need.

Hopefully, Jarwin's stock will continue to rise thanks to increased opportunity and the tutelage of a grand master. The combined efforts of Jarwin's body and Witten's mind will ideally elevate the TE position from where it's been the last few years.

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


Player News

Cowboys K Brett Maher’s 63-Yard Field Goal Sets New NFL Record

Jess Haynie



Brett Maher

After hitting a 63-yard field goal last night in the Dallas Cowboys' win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Kicker Brett Maher now owns the NFL record for most field goal made at 60 yards or longer. It was the third 60-plus FG of his career and second so far this season.

Maher hit a 62-yarder last week in Dallas' loss to the New York Jets. That kick tied him with Sebastian Janikowski and Greg Zuerlein for having two career field goals of 60 or more.

Now Brett stands alone in that category. Last night's kick also was just one yard shy of Matt Prater's record for the NFL's longest field goal; Maher hit from 64 yards in 2013.

If Brett Maher ever gets a chance to kick in Denver, he may have a great shot at breaking Prater's record as well. According to NBC's data from last night, Maher's kick would have been good from 66 yards out.

It was a good night overall for the Cowboys kicker. Maher had two other makes from 26 and 29 yards.

Despite his heroics at times, Brett Maher has been one of the least accurate kickers in the NFL the last two years. Even after last night Brett is hitting just 71.4% of his field goals so far in 2019; that ties him for 25th in the league.

The most puzzling aspect of all with Maher is how much he struggles with shorter range kicks. You almost have more confidence in him kicking from 60 yards out than attempting an extra point.

Few kickers could survive that kind of performance and uncertainty, but few can do what Maher can with his long range ability. It's a risk/reward situation that the Cowboys are continuing to work with.

For today, at least, Maher and his team are basking in the glory of a great game. Let's hope both can keep up the positive momentum.

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Game Notes

Cowboys Defense Dominates in Crucial Win vs Eagles

Matthew Lenix



Cowboys Defense Dominates in Crucial Win vs Eagles

Coming into yesterday's battle for NFC East supremacy against the Philadelphia Eagles the Dallas Cowboys defense was looking to regain some swagger. The Green Bay Packers were led by Aaron Jones who had a career day with 182 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns two weeks ago in a 34-24 beatdown of the Cowboys. Last week at Metlife Stadium, the New York Jets got a career day themselves from their former third overall pick in Sam Darnold who threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns in his return from Mononucleosis that kept him out since Week one. The Cowboys were handed their third consecutive loss 24-22 and their season was headed down the drain.

It would be paramount for the Cowboys defensive unit to set a tone and they didn't waste any time doing so. The Eagle's first possession would only last five plays as Jaylon Smith forced a fumble by Tight End Dallas Goedert that was recovered by Maliek Collins. Just two plays into their second drive, Carson Wentz was strip-sacked by All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence inside the Eagles own 15 which was recovered by Antwaun Woods. Both turnovers led to scores for the Cowboys as they took an early 14-0 lead in the games first six minutes.

After the Eagles scored on a seven-play 87-yard drive with a little over four minutes to go in the first quarter they would only run 12 plays the rest of the first half, and the Cowboys went into the locker room with a commanding 27-7 lead.

The second half would be a continuation of the first 30 minutes of play. After an exchange of field goals in the third quarter, the Eagles were simply out of their misery early in the fourth. Wentz was intercepted by Safety Xavier Woods and he committed his second fumble of the game on the very next drive. In the end, the Cowboys whipped the Eagles from start to finish 37-10 and claimed outright first place in the NFC East.

There were several encouraging signs defensively for the Cowboys vs the Eagles. Maliek Collins matched his season total with five tackles and also recovered a fumble. Both starting defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn each had a sack showing exactly why the Cowboys put this combo together, to terrorize quarterbacks. Cornerback Jourdan Lewis had four tackles and a sack, a great follow up to his four tackle performance with an interception a week earlier, further making his case to be the top guy at nickel corner in this defense. The old veteran Sean Lee didn't go unnoticed either as his seven tackles were tied for of the team lead. He got more snaps due to Leighton Vander Esch's early exit with a neck injury.

You expect an offense like the Eagles to make plays and score points eventually, but the Cowboys defense wasn't having any of it in this contest. In addition to giving up under 300 yards of total offense, they only allowed the Eagles to convert three third downs, go 0 for 2 in the red zone and forced four turnovers. That's a recipe for victory any Sunday.

Now, the Cowboys go into the bye week sitting on top the NFC East throne. This is the perfect time to get guys fully healthy with a clash against the New York Giants on the road awaiting them in two weeks. The Cowboys defense played with their backs to the wall and pulled out a big-time performance when they needed it the most. Consistency is what has kept them from looking like the top seven unit they were in 2018. Was this game the turning point? We shall see, but nonetheless, this showing by them was exactly what the doctor ordered.

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Player News

Cowboys Get Good News on Vander Esch, Quinn Injuries After Eagles Game

Jess Haynie



Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch off to a Fast Start 1

The Dallas Cowboys got a big win last night over the Philadelphia Eagles, but there was concern that they also suffered some big injuries. But good news; despite their leaving the game and not returning, both LB Leighton Vander Esch and DE Robert Quinn appear to have avoided any significant issues.

Vander Esch suffered a neck stinger in the second quarter and did not come back. It appears he was held out as a precautionary measure, and the Cowboys' 21-7 lead at that point may have contributed to the decision.

Jane Slater on Twitter

Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch just told me he's good. First neck stinger. Disputes "history" of neck issues reports. Told me he would have continued playing but "wasn't up to me

Quinn's rib injury also occurred before halftime and ended his night. The veteran picked up his obligatory sack before going out, and it sounds like he should be fine for Dallas' next game.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

From @GMFB: The #Cowboys got a few injury scares, but LB Leighton Vander Esch (neck) and LB Robert Quinn (rib) are expected to be OK.

These defensive standouts join a host of Cowboys starters who are going to benefit greatly from the team's bye week.

Dallas went into the game with injury concerns to WRs Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb, OTs Tyron Smith and La'el Collins, and CBs Byron Jones and Anthony Brown. Of those, Brown was the only one who did not play last night.

Still, all of these players need a week to rest and be ready for the long haul of the regular season.

The Cowboys will get back to work in Week 9 with a road trip to New York, facing the Giants on Monday Night Football.

Thankfully, it looks like Leighton Vander Esch and Robert Quinn will both be ready to play in two weeks.

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