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Cowboys Wishlist: Training Camp Special Edition

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Jason Garrett's Leadership Crucial as Cowboys "Focus" on 2017 Training Camp 1

We're exactly one month away from the Dallas Cowboys' first training camp practice that will take place, as always, in Oxnard, California. It's an exciting time all around the league. For fans, hope springs eternal in July. Practices start to get "real" as the preseason gets closer and closer every day.

For a team as intriguing as the 2018 Dallas Cowboys, there's many things that Cowboys Nation should be on the look out for. With many doubts in my mind, I couldn't resist the urge to put together some wishes for this upcoming training camp. Welcome to this special edition of Cowboys Wishlist!

Don't forget to share your personal wishes in the comments section below or tweet them to me @PepoR99!

Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

Wish #1: Some Pass-Catchers Emerge as Clear-Cut Starters

The Cowboys' wide receiver and tight end position will look very different than they did last season. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten will be out of the picture, not to mention Terrance Williams might be fighting for a spot on the roster, even though he's a team veteran.

New faces like Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, Tavon Austin, among others will not only be fighting to make the team, but to earn starting roles on the offense. Also on the positional battle will be young, unproven players such as Noah Brown and Lance Lenoir.

It's an interesting situation, since we're not only talking about wide receivers. The tight end position will be intense with Blake Jarwin, Geoff Swaim, Rico Gathers and Dalton Schultz in the mix. As Staff Writer Jess Haynie recently pointed out, these players aren't bad, but unproven. 

It's nice to have tons of depth at these positions, but what Dak Prescott's offense needs is starters. Hopefully, clear-cut starters emerge during training camp. Once the regular season comes around, the Cowboys would be better off by knowing who their guys are, rather than having open competitions in week 1.

Wish #2: Connor Williams Fits Right In

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how Connor Williams could define the 2018 season for Dallas. We're talking about the player who could return the offensive line to its 2016 form, perhaps even better.

Williams will have a lot to learn during training camp, once the pads come on and things get physical in the trenches.

The Dallas Cowboys are hoping to forget what they suffered on the offensive line between Tyron Smith's injury and the left guard position in 2017. If the rookie out of Texas proves to be what we all think he is, Dak Prescott will have more time to throw and Ezekiel Elliott more holes to run through.

Wish #3: Dak Prescott Improves His Game

We all know how important this year is for Dak Prescott. If he puts on a show this year, a juicy extension might be waiting for him at the end of the season. If he struggles and his level of play is questioned, his future becomes very uncertain.

Hidden behind a painful, 9-7 season, Dak showed some improvements as a passer, leader and signal-caller.

Hopefully, 2018 serves as proof that last season was nothing but a learning curve and Prescott turns out to be a franchise quarterback. Training camp will be huge for the young quarterback. Hopefully he's able to prove what he's all about.

 

With Lee and Vander Esch Out, LB Jaylon Smith Ends OTAs on High Note 2

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

Wish #4: Jaylon Smith Hype Proves to be Real

Man, Jaylon Smith's career has had tons of ups and downs. But this time, with his knee brace out of the picture, it really does seem like it will be his breakout year. If the Cowboys' 2016 second-round pick ends up playing like he did in Notre Dame, the wait will definitely be worth it.

Hopefully, the Jaylon Smith we see when the team starts playing in training camp is the Jaylon we've all been waiting for.

He played well in 2017 but never was able to show his full potential. This might be it for one of the hardest-working guys on the team. We are all rooting for you, Jaylon.

Wish #5: No Injuries, Please

In the NFL, injuries are unavoidable. It's a beautiful, yet violent, sport. But few things are worse than watching key players get injured before the season even begins. With the Cowboys trying to get to the Super Bowl in 2018, having guys like Sean Lee or Tyron Smith go down would certainly feel terrible.

Having said that, the Cowboys need to prove they can actually execute the "next man up" philosophy that's preached all around the league.

✭✭✭✭✭

Is that too much to ask for? The Cowboys really have what it takes to bounce back this season. It's an important year for Dallas, with coaches on the hot seat and tons of players with a lot to prove on the field.

Training camp will go a long way in defining the success of a team that has many question marks heading into the season and hopefully, for the sake of the Dallas Cowboys, these wishes come true.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Wishlist: Training Camp Special Edition" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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!



I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @PepoR99.

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Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

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?

El Draft

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.

Decisiones difíciles

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.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

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.



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Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin

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Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

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:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
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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