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Dallas Cowboys: 6 Players That Will Impact 2016

The Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo Dez Bryant Ezekiel Elliott Cedric Thorton Byron Jones Brice Butler

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys: 6 Players That Will Impact 2016

The Dallas Cowboys' disastrous 2015 season will hopefully be an afterthought once the 2016 season kicks off. In order for that to happen, though, America's Team will have to rely on some of their players to step up and make a bigger impact than they did a season ago.

I decided to compile a list and came up with six players that should not only have really good statistical seasons, but will help raise the playing level of the entire team as well.

Now, some of these names may be obvious to you, but it's worth the mention to remember that the Dallas Cowboys still have a lot of talented players. That they are better than their 2015 4-12 losing record would indicate.

Tony Romo

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys: 6 Players That Will Impact 2016 7If we learned anything from the 2015 season, it is that Tony Romo is more important to the Dallas Cowboys than any other player in the organization.

Success for the Cowboys will ultimately come down to how healthy Tony Romo remains. That shouldn't be too much of a surprise for anyone who witnessed what happened in 2015.

Luckily, the word is that Tony Romo was moving around in OTAs and mini-camp better than he has in the past few seasons, and there weren't any lingering effects from his collarbone injuries last year. That is encouraging news for Cowboys fans.

Not only is he my favorite to win Comeback Player of the Year, but he could also be an MVP candidate when all is said and done. I'm predicting another season like he had in 2014 when the Cowboys went 12-4 and made the playoffs.

Dez Bryant

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys: 6 Players That Will Impact 2016 6Much like Tony Romo, Dez Bryant's 2015 season was injury plagued. He was never quite 100% the entire year. Also like Romo, I expect Dez Bryant to return to his 2014 form, where he caught 88 passes for 1,320 receiving yards and scored 16 touchdowns.

Dez Bryant is the Cowboys' emotional and inspirational leader, and his return to form should help the offense once again be one of the better units in the NFL. He also adds that fiery attitude that the team seems to lack without him.

His presence on the field must be accounted for at all times, which keeps opposing defenses from stacking the box when they are trying to shut down the running game.

With the exception of Romo, Dez Bryant returning from an injury plagued season might be the most beneficial to the team's offensive success in 2016.

Ezekiel Elliott

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys: 6 Players That Will Impact 2016 5There are already extremely high expectations for Ezekiel Elliott entering his rookie season. A lot of that has to do with his draft status, but also because he will be running behind arguably the best offensive line in the NFL.

Elliott is one of the best all-around rookie running backs to enter the NFL in perhaps the last decade. He should literally be able to hit the ground running and add a boost to the Cowboys running game in 2016.

If Darren McFadden can run for nearly 1,100 yards for the Cowboys, then Elliott should easily reach that milestone. He is a better fit to run in the zone blocking scheme than McFadden and he is also more talented.

With Ezekiel Elliott as the lead RB, the Cowboys should get back to that blueprint that worked so well for them in 2014 by running the football.

Cedric Thornton

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys: 6 Players That Will Impact 2016 4Cedric Thornton was the Dallas Cowboys' "big" off-season signing, and personally I think he's going to be a huge upgrade for the middle of the defensive line.

Nick Hayden held down the one-tech on the Cowboys defense for the past three years, but I doubt he will be missed. Although Hayden was solid during his time with the organization, he was really nothing more than an average player, at best.

Cedric Thornton is a major upgrade for the one-tech in Rod Marinelli's 4-3 defense. Not only is he good against the run, but he can also put pressure on opposing quarterbacks from the middle of the Cowboys defense.

Thornton's presence in the middle should help allow Tyrone Crawford to become a more destructive pass rusher from the 3-tech, and hopefully provide the Cowboys with more QB sacks. That will help the entire defense, especially the secondary.

I expect Cedric Thornton to have a big impact in 2016 for the Dallas Cowboys.

Byron Jones

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys: 6 Players That Will Impact 2016 3Byron Jones may just be entering the second year in the NFL, but I'm personally betting that he will raise the level of his game and make a big impact on the backend of the Cowboys defense.

Jones will finally be able to focus all of his attention on learning the intricacies of playing free safety in Rod Marinelli's defense. Last year, as a rookie, Byron Jones had a lot thrown at him. He had to play several different positions in the secondary. He responded well, but being able to focus on just one position should allow him to improve as a player.

Byron Jones could be the safety the Cowboys organization has been looking for ever since Darren Woodson retired. He has the same type of skill set to be able to cover receivers all over the field. That means 2016 should be a big year for him.

I'm predicting he will have more interceptions by himself in 2016 than the entire defense did in 2015.

Brice Butler

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys: 6 Players That Will Impact 2016 1Brice Butler should give Terrance Williams a run for his money for the #2 wide receiver position opposite Dez Bryant.

Butler has the size and speed to be a dangerous weapon for Tony Romo and showed flashes of that in 2015. Unfortunately, a nagging hamstring injury didn't allow him to really show what he is capable of, but I think that will change once the 2016 season kicks off.

He will have had a full off-season to develop a good working chemistry with Tony Romo and will have a better understanding of the offense. He has the physical tools to succeed in the NFL. He now just has to put it all together.

Butler's impact might not show up in the stats, but he should definitely keep defenses from double covering Dez Bryant.



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.

Dallas Cowboys

Will Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods Return This Week?

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Have Their Version of Tryann Mathieu in Xavier Woods?

The Dallas Cowboys have been without one of their defensive starters for the first two weeks of 2018; safety Xavier Woods. A preseason hamstring injury has kept him in street clothes so far, but Woods could make his season debut this week against the Seattle Seahawks.

The positive update on Woods' status was provided by Owner Jerry Jones in his regular radio appearance this morning.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Jerry Jones on @1053thefan said it appears Randy Gregory (concussion) will be available to play Sunday at Seattle. Jones also thinks Xavier Woods (hamstring) has a chance to play this week after missing the first two games

Gregory has already played this year, suffering his concussion and leaving the season opener against the Carolina Panthers. Even in his absence last week, the Cowboys got six sacks on Eli Manning in their victory over the Giants.

That's not to say getting Randy back isn't noteworthy, but the real news here is the potential for Xavier Woods to take his place as the team's starting free safety.

While Woods has been out, Jeff Heath has been the free safety while Kavon Frazier has started at strong. The plan going into 2018 was for Heath to play strong safety, putting him closer to the line of scrimmage where his skills are best suited.

Xavier was one of the team's most exciting rookies last year, flashing the potential to be a game-changing presence.

Woods' upside is one of the reasons some fans haven't been as desperate about the Earl Thomas situation. While Thomas would be an upgrade in almost any defense, including the Cowboys, the chance to see what Xavier has mitigated disappointment over not acquiring the All-Pro safety.

Xavier Woods

Dallas Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods

If Woods can provide what the team hopes for at free safety, it has a positive ripple effect for the roster. Not only do you upgrade at FS, but Heath moving to his ideal role at SS is another improvement.

It also moves Frazier, who's been solid in his playing time, into a valuable bench role. It gives Dallas depth at safety which, up til now, they've lacked in Xavier's absence.

The loser in this deal would likely be either veteran backup Ibraheim Campbell, who Dallas signed two weeks ago to deal with their depth issues, or undrafted rookie Tyree Robinson. Robinson has been with the team since they signed him immediately after the 2018 NFL Draft.

With talk that the Cowboys are looking to bring back WR Brice Butler, a roster spot will be needed. Xavier Woods' return could allow for that spot to come from safety rather than receiver, where Dallas is hesitant to part with any of its current players.

In the end, all we have right now is a "maybe" about Woods' status. But with Dallas' defense already performing well this year, the thought of getting even better is enticing. With the tough road environment of Seattle and Russell Wilson coming up this Sunday, getting Xavier back could be timely.



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Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Giants

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Giants

I don't know about you, but I feel a lot better this week about the Dallas Cowboys after they thoroughly controled the game against the New York Giants last Sunday night. It amazes me how much better they played in the second week of the 2018 season as opposed to what they put on the field Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers.

The Dallas Cowboys performed better in all three phases of the game. The defense was simply outstanding, the offense looked much improved, and the fact that there weren't any breakdowns on special teams is an added plus. Overall, it's hard to be too disappointed with the way the overall team performed Sunday.

With all of that in mind, I want to share with you what I believe is The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys from the primetime matchup with the division rival New York Giants. I know you may disagree with what I decided to go with in each category, but that's part of the fun of it.

The Good

Taco Charlton

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

If you watched the Dallas Cowboys against the New York Giants Sunday night then you pretty much know what the good was. How could I not go with the Cowboys defense? They were simply phenomenal against the Giants and are starting to become the identity of this year's team.

The Cowboys pass rush continuously put pressure on Quarterback Eli Manning and ended the game with six QB sacks. Nearly every defensive lineman got in on the action, which is hopefully a sign of things to come. The secondary was also really impressive. They played man-to-man coverage nearly the entire game and shut down the Giants aerial attack, including Odell Beckham Jr.

I was also really pleased to see the Cowboys linebackers playing much better. You may not have noticed, but the coaching staff is going with a rotation of sorts with the LBs, and it really looked as if it's helping keep them fresh. This could pay huge dividends moving forward, especially with Sean Lee's injury concerns.

The Bad

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott

I debated several different things to put in this section, but ultimately I decided the bad for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night was Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game. Yes, it was better than what we saw from them in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done from both Prescott and his receivers.

Unfortunately, Prescott only completed 16 of 25 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown against the Giants. Those are nearly identical numbers to what he put up against the Panthers, the only difference is he was much more successful on the ground, rushing for 45 yards on seven carries. If you take away his long TD completion to Wide Receiver Tavon Austin, those numbers are even more depressing.

The passing game and Dak Prescott needs to improve dramatically. The Cowboys simply aren't going to be able to continue to win games like this. The offense should've been able to put up a lot more points on the Giants Sunday night. Hopefully, things will continue to get better because if not, the Cowboys are in trouble.

The Ugly

There was a number of different directions I could've gone here, but for me the ugly for the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night against the Giants was the penalties. Penalties became a problem for the Cowboys in Week 1 against the Panthers and once again reared their ugly head against the Giants. Unfortunately, this has continuously been a problem under the tutelage of Head Coach Jason Garrett.

The Dallas Cowboys were lucky that the untimely penalties didn't have much impact on the outcome of the game. If they would have been playing a better team than the Giants, they probably wouldn't have overcome the long down and distances. I want to believe this can be cleaned up, but Jason Garrett's going to have to start holding his players accountable, which at this point seems a little unlikely.

The Cowboys players are going to take it upon themselves to cut down the penalties. Most of the time it's just mental mistakes, so there is reason to believe they can accomplish this task. But, they are really going to have to buckle down and focus on remaining consistent down after down.

What is your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Giants?



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Game Notes

Monday Morning Hangover: Cowboys Bounce Back Against Giants

Brian Martin

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Monday Morning Hangover: Cowboys Bounce Back Against Giants

Unlike last week, today's Monday morning hangover isn't nearly as bad. Thankfully, the Dallas Cowboys had a bounce back game against the New York Giants Sunday night, meaning you were probably drinking in celebration instead of drowning your sorrows. Hopefully, this continues.

Today, I want to do a little recap over what took place last night for the Dallas Cowboys and share with you some of the good and not so good I observed. Luckily, there was much more good for the Cowboys compared to what they put on the field Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers.

First off, how impressive was the Cowboys defensive play against the Giants? The pass rush consistently put pressure on Eli Manning and finished the night with six quarterback sacks. Nearly all of the defensive line got in on the action. I think we can credit Passing Game Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard for the aggressive game plan.

The pass rush wasn't all that was dominant against the Giants for the Cowboys defense. Dallas' secondary pretty much shut down Odell Beckham Jr. and the rest of the Giants aerial attack. They played man-to-man coverage nearly the entire night and it paid off. Again, I think we can give credit to Kris Richard. He's changed how these defensive backs are being utilized.

Jeff Heath, Saquon Barkley

Dallas Cowboys S Jeff Heath (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

The one negative I took away from the Cowboys defensive performance was the missed tackles once again. There were several Cowboys defenders who failed to take down Giants Running Back Saquon Barkley on first contact. Barkley unfortunately was able to pick up several yards after contact because of this. Tackling was a problem against the Panthers as well and it needs to be cleaned up in a hurry.

Offensively, the Dallas Cowboys looked like an entirely different unit than what took the field in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers. Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan was much more aggressive with his playcalling, evidenced by the long touchdown pass to Tavon Austin on the first offensive series.

Unlike against the Panthers, Linehan put Dak Prescott in the best position to succeed. He didn't have No. 4 sit in the pocket, instead he put him on the move and allowed him to use his mobility to put pressure on the Giants defense. I believe this is where Prescott is at his best and should continued to be utilized in this manner.

Ezekiel Elliott didn't have the biggest rushing totals, but we all know the Giants defense was trying to take him out of the game. He finished the night with 78 rushing yards on 17 carries, but he did manage to pretty much put the game away with a rushing TD. Personally, I would love to see Zeke more involved in the passing game, especially down the field instead of around on a scrimmage.

All in all, the Dallas Cowboys did what they needed to do in order to secure the victory. They still have several things they need to clean up and improve upon, but what team doesn't at this point in the season. Now, they need to carry over this momentum into Week 3 on the road against the Seattle Seahawks.

What do you think about the Dallas Cowboys performance against the Giants?



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