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Could the Dallas Cowboys Feature a New-Look Offense in 2018?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Could The Dallas Cowboys Feature a New-Look Offense in 2018?
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

After a season of disappointment and under achievement, one word that creeps into every die-hard fan is change. Back in September, the Dallas Cowboys were one of the Las Vegas favorites to get to the Super Bowl. Naturally, after a 9-7 season, we all want some sort of change.

By now, we know that said change will not come in the form of a new head coach. Or, if we’re being honest with ourselves, probably not even in the form of different coordinators.

So, then what?

We’ve seen a coaching carousel lately in Dallas with a lot of moves going on. Just about every position coach is leaving or interviewing with other teams, Kellen Moore is set to be the new QBs coach and so on.

But heading into the offseason, it’s inevitable to think about how many changes we could see in the Cowboys’ offense.

Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (Brad Penner / USA TODAY Sports)

Recently, fellow Staff Writer Brian Martin wrote about how the Cowboys should build a Prescott-friendly offense for Dak Prescott. Despite a struggling season, Dak Prescott shouldn’t be evaluated or replaced after just two seasons. Even if overreactions around Cowboys Nation tell you otherwise.

Even still, it’s more than fair to criticize an offense that was far from meeting expectations last season. All this leads to a lot of questions about where the future of this offense is headed.

Is Dez Bryant still worth the money he’s being paid?

Should he be officially replaced by another WR1, something he hasn’t been for a long time?

The Cowboys have a ton of needs, and even though we’re used to the idea of defense always being our top priority in the offseason, this time it might be different.

This team really needs to get Dak a best friend, a receiver who can create separation. A good route runner.

Who knows, maybe Dez isn’t here next season. But even if he is, he probably won’t be “the guy” when it comes to catching Dak Prescott’s passes.

Could The Dallas Cowboys Feature a New-Look Offense in 2018? 1

Dallas Cowboys WRs Ryan Switzer, Cole Beasley

What about Cole Beasley?

Whether we like it or not, he’s another guy whose play wasn’t as good as 2016. With him going into his final year under contract, is it possible the Cowboys explore other options?

Despite not getting a lot of playing time, Ryan Switzer showed very promising flashes when he was asked to fill Beasley’s spot in the season finale at Philadelphia. I can’t help wondering if Switzer will be able to earn a more involved role on offense as the slot wide receiver next year.

Perhaps in the long run, he’s the better option for the Cowboys instead of the guy who’ll be 29 when the 2018 season arrives.

Now, Jason Witten is my all-time favorite Dallas Cowboy. But if we’re being real with ourselves, even if he’s still as reliable as ever, he isn’t a very dangerous player anymore. The coaching staff should find a way to do something similar to what the Chargers have done with Antonio Gates and add a younger, more dangerous tight end to play alongside Witten.

Before the 2017 season began, the Cowboys were expected to be one of the best offenses in the NFL. They failed to meet expectations. We know the coaching staff isn’t changing at the “big three” positions, but maybe we see it in the form of players.

Could we see a new-look offense in Dallas next season?

Tell me what you think about “Could the Dallas Cowboys Feature a New-Look Offense in 2018?” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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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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38 Comments
  • Bennie

    I would explore a trade with Dez Beasley and Williams go get martavius Bryant re sign butler promote swizter sign another good route runner for depth because we still got Noah brown use witten for another year n draft a tight end this year learning from one of the best tight ends get him his reps Dallas could make a splash if they free up some roster room n cap even promote Byron back to corner n find a safety in the draft in the 3-4 round we could revamp the O completely to where we still have room even maybe looking at Allen Robison on a one year prove it deal because the injury

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      I’m totally open to seeing a move with one of our WRs, don’t know about Martavis Bryant though. Man, I’d love Allen Robinson if he’s healthy.

      • Bennie

        Martavis would give us the vertical threat we needed in dez but is faster n still a red zone threat if we could get Robison that would be a plus sign both But if not one of them n keep butler n then sign someone who is proven to be able to stay healthy run good routes n be able to adjust on the fly

        • Ducebag

          This is what I mean…..I feel as Cowboy fans are making excuses for Dak…I’ve seen plenty of games this season where I sat and was like “wth is this guy doing”

          • Datschu

            Exactly brother!! Exactly! Sad thing is that I told everyone who would listen what 2017 would be like. You can bank onnit like the sun setting in the West! It’s the Dallas Cowboys. Dak cannot pass downfield accurately enough to be a legitimate threat. And unfortunately our number 1 WRs strengths are the now qb1s weaknesses…
            Dak will have 1/2 the career in Dallas that romo did.
            And then we’ll be with new qb1… my problem is that I’m just a fan and say this in 2016… how come the front office didn’t?

          • jglousa210

            I think half is giving him to much credit. Romo was that dude on a shitty team. He carried us to winning records despite the lack of defense, an oline and a good rb. Dak lost zeke and T Smith and shit the bed. And his accuracy is imo the sole reason for all our receivers decline. I to told everyone that we would regret letting Romo walk. But everyone was dick riding Dak. When he wasn’t ready. He needed to play behind Romo until Romo actually retired and learned everything he possibly could from imo one of the greatest football minds ever. But instead we won a few games and turned our backs on the guy that could have left us plenty of times. But stayed loyal to a mediocre franchise.

          • Russ_Te

            You said Dak was half of Romo when he was Rookie of the Year – sure.

            Dak is far more talented. Romo was a turnover machine for years until he finally got more judicious with the ball. He has great career stats but much worse games when they counted most, down the stretch and in playoffs. Good riddance to him. He was Danny White – no better.

          • Fred Miller

            I agree, but he was still a second year QB last season. Can’t expect perfection yet. He definitely had less time to throw compared to his rookie season. Next year will be a good test.

  • Ducebag

    Idk why my fellow Cowboy fans can’t that Dak is not as good as we thought

    • Bennie

      He is good he don’t have receivers making plays to get the ball.. he can’t do it running it every time n neither can zeke… he needs weapons dez isn’t what he use to be give butler the time dez had n I bet we would have a 1000 yard receiver.. dak can only do so much by him self with no weapons look at wentz last year (rookie year) then this year (sophomore year) no weapons compared to weapons..

      • http://www.dallascowboyschat.com Cowboysdude

        Excuses…that is why most Cowboys fans continue to accept mediocrity…… stop and think … Romo made player around him better…..is Dak doing that? Start there….. and think.

        • Datschu

          Preaching to the choir dude. In 2016 when Dak was taking the job I knew he wouldn’t last very long. We not a very complete passer.

        • Steve

          Yea BUT Romo didn’t do it in year 2 making everyone around him better and don’t 4get every time he messed up or choked in December/Playoff game everybody was on his ass just like everybody is on Dak’s! IMO I believe we all need to chill out and give Dak some time to mature and I believe that Dez isn’t a #1 and T-Will is a good but not great receiver for a #2 and we need to let Switzer take over the slot and draft a route running TE to learn from Witten if Gathers isn’t gonna cut it! IMO again we need to draft a stud DT at 19 this year to improve our D and make it strong enough to keep Dak from having to be a hero every game

      • jglousa210

        I’m sorry but you’re so wrong. Dak is the sole problem. All our receivers numbers are down. Explain that. Even beasley our top guy last year. Dak is the problem. I’d personally like to see him and rush fight for the starting spot this off-season.

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      I really think there’s a QB curve. If Dak a bad year in 2018, then you start evaluating the position. It’s still too early too give up on him after a bad season and one in which the entire team struggled. Maybe in the long run, he isn’t as good as we think. But still too early to say he shouldn’t be our QB. Just as it is too early to call him elite.

      • Bennie

        Never called him elite just stating that he had a slump year like you said by dez had a few slump seasons.. witten is old Williams isn’t producing neither is Beasley start fresh give him new weapons new personnel I bet anything he is right back to his rookie season production

        • Mauricio Rodriguez

          Oh, don’t get me wrong. Never meant to say you called him elite. Was really just giving my two cents on the topic. I think Dak will be fine, we just need to give him some time.

        • Gary Stevens

          If Cole Beasley was utilized more in the offense he would put up some strong numbers. He is not getting the ball enough to get him in the flow of the game. In fact, I believe he is a better slot receiver than Switzer would be. He has heart and is not scared of those crossing routes. I believe Switzer would make a better #2 wide receiver. He is fast enough to create space between him and a defender.

    • Datschu

      Whenever they made him the starter I KNEW HE WOULD BOMB OUT! Why didn’t Jorge front office? He’s not a legitimate passer!!

    • jglousa210

      Exactly.

  • Tone’ Cyphers

    I don’t know how change we’ll see with the same coaches calling the shots. There won’t be a lot of wholesale changes in the playbook. Hopefully the players can just play better.

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      That’s completely fair. Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.dallascowboyschat.com Cowboysdude

    And as long as the owner continues telling everyone he has a “HC” they’ll continue to fail…..

  • Datschu

    I’ve been asking this for YEARS… maybe this year JJ will miraculously read my post and then he left ignoring will go on…

    “Jerry….did you pay attention”?

    Everyone would agree that dak is a better qb than nick Foles, correct? Would you?

    Well let’s operate under the assumption that everyone reading this agrees that he is… for sh!ts and giggles…

    WEll NICK FREAKING FOLES JUST BEAT THE REIGNING NFC CHAMPIONS IN A DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF GAME..!!!

    Beat a team that killed the cowboys this year… AND only had to get his team in position to score 15 points to do so!

    The eagles win because of a suffocating and stingy defense…

    You see mr Jones…. if the other team cannot score your qb only needs to get the team in position ONE FREAKING TIME TO KICK A FIELD GOAL!
    Understand?
    Offense puts butts in the seats… DEFENSE wins championships! Especially in this decades NFC conference!

    Signing DEZ to 70+ mil= bad deal (when you no longer have a qb who can pass down field accurately and consistently)

    Drafting zeke 4 ovr = bad drafting (especially when Jalen Ramsey was sitting there for the taking)

    Drafting a project lb in the second round= another bad draft choice (when we could have had an impact player on D completing his second full season)

    I don’t know about any of y’all… but the good season, bad season, 8-8 season … wash rinse and repeat sh!t is wearing me down…
    Especially when even in their “good” seasons they’re 1 and done in the playoffs…

    This franchise just can’t get out of their own way… would say snake bit… but snake bit means it’s not of your own doing…. the circus clown and pony show… ER…. Dallas Cowboys front office is to blame for the 22 years of stank football

  • Datschu

    Anyone here old enough to remember when romo was rising to the ranks of qb1? The excitement? The crazy plays he made?
    Did any of you see that from Dak last year? Or was it mostly zeke?
    I saw a qb the likes of Trent silver at best!
    They pushed romo out too soon!

    • Datschu

      Trent DILFER*

    • jglousa210

      I 100 percent agree.

    • RandyWhite54Fan

      They didn’ Push Romo out, Romo’s back pushed him out. We needed a 16 game starting QB Romo couldn’t do that anymore. When Jerry and JG are gone America’s Team will return.

  • Datschu

    I’m just so tired of all the bumbling. The stubbing of the organizations toes. Gregory, Byron jones in round 1, the qb debacle of 2015, the unimaginative HC they keep rolling out there,….
    THE STUBBORN ASSED WAY OF BUILDING OFFENSIVELY (zeke) when the last 8 of 10 super bowl winners won with great defense…
    I’m sorry you draft a RB at #4 overall IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A LEGITIMATE DEFENSE!!!
    Look at Jacksonville… they did it the right way… now imagine if they get a qb… or even alex Smith…

  • Bennie

    You guys don’t see the bigger picture… dak isn’t the one dropping the balls he isn’t the one that is calling the plays he isn’t the one who has the keys to the offense to be able to do what he wants on the field .. dak needs to improve yea but you can’t blame this on him… Jason Garrett dez Williams Beasley witten you gotta hold them accountable too they wasn’t separating them selves from the defenders they wasn’t holding on to the ball or catching it.. if dak has another “slump year” then we can discuss it but til Dallas either gets a new coaching staff aka hc and oc or they have a new offense of look then they are just gonna be average we need weapons who can create space run good routes catch the ball n hold on to it.. we need to revamp the offense with new weapons new coaching staff build chemistry n go from there the ones hating on dak will see that he only had a slump year zeke was battling off field problems was gone 6 games then you had dez couldn’t catch the ball couldn’t hold on catch desperate himself from defenders Beasley just wasn’t himself witten is old Williams isn’t a number a WR..

    • jglousa210

      I honestly don’t think you truly understand how the game of football works based on your comments. What datschu said is 100% correct. Defense wins championships. And Dak is not the guy. His accuracy was horrendous at best. His arm strength is lacking and he just flat out can’t hit our receivers to save his life. Yes our guys dropped some passes but im chalking that up to frustrations with a shitty qb. They’re tired of him and i think he’s losing this teams confidence in his ability to run the team. He’s no Romo not even on his best day.

      • Steve

        Staubach himself said that the year he went 1-4 to start out the year and missed the playoffs for the only time in a decade. You have a bad year and everyone doubts you, Dak took the league by storm a yr ago and then everyone game planned him, there wasn’t much complaining until Zeke went out then Dak was under the scope and T. Smith went out Lee went out and we have Collins playing new pos. and a diff player at LG for a few games till that got figured out but was mediocre at best so with all the that happening Dak wasn’t supposed to flinch and the stats read without Tyron S. alone Dak’s Qb rating was 30 points lower! Yea 30 points because he was getting pummeled from behind which gets in your head and then you lose a second and then timing is off and then even when he gets the ball there we drop it in some of the most crucial moments (Dez fumble vs Seattle) that changed the entire momentum of that game and all of that because he wasn’t confident on dropping back and stepping up and making a throw! I believe the sophomore year was a crucial year of learning for Dak to not have his security blanket in T Smith and Zeke and have to grow as a Qb! Next year will tell the story on Dak Prescott

  • Stephen L. Holley

    More Jones “STUPIDITY”….keep ‘Garrett and Linehan” after total stupidity the last two years ( first down at the three yard line…Elliot in the backfield…great o-line and you throw the ball three times)!!! Jones will never give up his complete control , Garrett will keep ruining QB’s and we will be stuck with mediocracy as long as Jones is the owner!!!!! Sickening!!!!!! With the talent on that team they should still be playing!!! “SHORE UP THE O-LINE”!!!! ” RE-SIGN DEMARCUS LAWRENCE- MARTEN”!!!! ” TRADE DEZ-SWITZER,KEEP BUTLER AND NOAH BROWN- SLAP SOME SENSE INTO RANDY GREGORY-BRING HIM BACK”!!!! “IF GATHERS CAN GET HEALTHY HE’S THE ANSWER AT TIGHT END”!!!! MAKE WITTEN PLAYER-COACH”!!!!!

  • RandyWhite54Fan

    In 2016 Dak would throw to an area of the field and a WR would be there. If they ran an out instead skinny post the ball was up for grabs. This year was a timing throw which isn’t what Dak is about. Romo and Aikman yes that’s their game. 60% I gave to the WR’s of the blaim. Sign Butler make him the #2 WR. Williams would be better coming off the bench. Rework Bryant’s contract 12.5 million is 6 million too much. Find a LG and RT and become a more zone blocking offense. No FB use the ACE formation (2 TE’s). The six weeks Zeke was out because he acted like a dumb ass. Was The longest six weeks of my life. When Zeke is in there it’s a totally deference. The play calling off this year. I would like to see more pass on first down to predictable. Dez throwing a temper tantrum on the sideline Dez knows he’s on the down side of his career. I know we need to upgrade our WR’s and TE. It wouldn’t be my first pick we have other needs. Forget Moore as QB coach hire Romo. Bad choice by Jerry and it was Jerry. If they want to make a Super Bowl run. There not as close as Jerry thinks. The need OL upgrades DL upgrades secondary help and LB help.

  • TexHomaHeat .

    To all of you Garrett haters, I wanting to remind you of something. No coach of better quality than Garrett would take the Cowboy’s head coaching job! No one! Garrett is the best answer as long as Jerry Jones is the owner and GM. As for the critizism of Garrett and Linehan, I didn’t remember reading all this bitching in 2016 when they had a full offense (a quality running back). I’ve been a Cowboy fan for over 50 years. Cowboy fans need to be patient and understanding of the situation.

  • Mike C

    I understand the Dak hate completely. I just think it was more of play calling and coaching. You cant blame him for getting killed in the atlanta game, and really that was the case for the season. Coaching shouldve focused on his mechanics this offseason. The playbook was not creative enough, i actually predicted most of the offensive plays In key situations. Its almost like we used the exact same plays from last year and only used %25 of the playbook. As a diehard cowboys fan with a lack of coaching changes i am very disinterested in next season. And im so sick of hearing about our 5 rings.

  • dallas1966

    It’s time for the Cowboys coaching staff to decommissioned the Romo Friendly offense, that Dak has been running for the past 2 seasons, into the warehouse. And start the construction of the Dak Attack friendly offense. Dak had modest success with the Romo friendly offense, throwing for 45 TD, with 13 Int. was very good. Now let’s see how Dak production goes in an offense predicated to his strength.

  • Gary Stevens

    As long as Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan control the offensive scheme of the Cowboys, I don’t think they will ever win a Super Bowl. They are just awful at making adjustments to what the opposing defenses show them. If plan A doesn’t work in a game they have no plan B.

Star Blog

Will Ryan Switzer see an Increased Offensive Role in 2018?

Brian Martin

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Will Ryan Switzer see an Increased Offensive Role in 2018?

The Dallas Cowboys clearly had a specific role in mind for Ryan Switzer when they drafted him 133rd overall in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Come to find out, that role didn’t include being involved much on the offensive side of the ball, at least not as a rookie.

After watching the way the Cowboys utilized Ryan Switzer in 2017, it’s pretty obvious the sole purpose he was drafted was to improve the special-teams play in the return game.

They clearly didn’t envision him being a part of the game plan on offense, despite the continuous outcry from fans.

Like most rookies, Ryan Switzer didn’t really get off to a fast start, and took a while to get used to the speed of the NFL. But, once he calmed his nerves and regained his confidence, he proved to be an upgrade in the return game.

Switzer ended up ranking third in kickoff returns, averaging 25 yards per return in 2017 and 12th in punt returns with almost 9 yards per return.

He also became the first Dallas Cowboys player to return a punt for a touchdown since 2013. He accomplished this against the Washington Redskins, in Week 13 when he took an 83-yarder to the house.

Surprisingly enough, using Ryan Switzer solely as a return specialist wasn’t enough for a lot of Cowboys Nation. A lot of fans wanted to see his talents utilized more on the offensive side of the ball as well, but were only left disappointed.

Ryan Switzer

Dallas Cowboys WR Ryan Switzer

Getting Switzer involved in the offensive game plan just wasn’t in the cards in 2017.

He only managed to catch six passes for 41 yards and rushed four times for 5 yards. This isn’t exactly what Cowboys fans envisioned after hearing Switzer was opening a lot eyes in training camp and organized team activities (OTAs). That was the main problem.

He was hyped up so much heading into the season that fans expected to see him involved much more on offense.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, had something else in mind, but I doubt that’s the case for the upcoming 2018 season.

I really think we’re going to see an increased role for Ryan Switzer next season.

The Cowboys coaching staff should have a much better understanding of his strengths and weaknesses now that he has a year in the system under his belt. And, they’ve seen firsthand how explosive he can be with the ball in his hands.

What the Cowboys coaching staff will have to determine this offseason is just how big of a role Switzer will have next year.

Should Switzer take Cole Beasley‘s job?

Cole Beasley, like the rest of the Cowboys receivers, had a down year in 2017. We shouldn’t assume that his job is safe, especially with someone like Ryan Switzer waiting in the wings. But, is Switzer ready to take over full-time?

Tough decisions will have to be made eventually, but such is life in the NFL.

Will Ryan Switzer see an increased offensive role in 2018?

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Will Terrance Williams be Back with Cowboys in 2018?

Brian Martin

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Will Terrance Williams be Back with Cowboys in 2018?

Each offseason tough decisions have to be made by teams around the NFL, and the Dallas Cowboys are no exception. Teams have to decide who to promote, who to demote, and who to cut ties with altogether. For the Cowboys, Terrance Williams fits into one of those three categories, but which one?

It was plainly obvious that the Dallas Cowboys wide receivers all had an extremely disappointing 2017 season.

Everybody has their own opinion as to why this happened, but one thing is for sure, the Cowboys coaching staff will definitely look at ways to get more out of their receiving core. The one player who I think could be affected most by whatever decision the coaching staff ends up making is Terrance Williams.

Williams didn’t do much to make a case for keeping his starting job in 2017, let alone sticking on the roster.

To say he had a disappointing season would be an understatement.

Williams finished the 2017 season with just 53 receptions for 568 receiving yards and absolutely zero touchdowns. The Cowboys were likely hoping for more production from someone they just signed to a four-year, $17-million contract extension back in March [2017].

Now, you can make the argument Williams took a team discount in order to stay in Dallas, but that doesn’t carry much weight when your production leaves so much to be desired. This is especially true when there might be somebody on the roster who can do just as well, and possibly be an upgrade.

Noah Brown

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Yes, if you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m talking about Noah Brown.

I know I’m not alone here, but I think Noah Brown could easily replace Terrance Williams’ production. I understand that there’s not much evidence to back up that statement based on Brown’s rookie season, but he has all the tools required to succeed.

This is really all about potential, and Noah Brown simply has more upside than Terrance Williams.

We all know what Terrance Williams is as a receiver, and what he brings to the table for the Cowboys offense. I believe Noah Brown can do all the things Williams does and has the potential to be even better.

I already think Noah Brown is a better blocker, something the Cowboys coaching staff really values about Williams. I also think Brown is a better pass catcher. He is a natural hands catcher and has a large catching radius, something Williams obviously isn’t (body catcher).

Right now, Williams is only better than Noah Brown in a few areas. He is slightly faster, he’s more advanced as a route runner, and has more experience. That’s about it.

This will obviously be a tough decision for the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff to make. But, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if we see Terrance Williams playing somewhere else when the 2018 season kicks off.

Do you think Terrance Williams will be with the Cowboys in 2018?

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Star Blog

Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?

Sean Martin

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Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 3

Three of the four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs — a win away from the Super Bowl — ranked within the top four defensively in yards per game allowed this season. The other is the defending-champion New England Patriots, who of course were expected to reach yet another AFC Championship game, thanks to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

Somewhere between this field, losing their 2017 hopes at a deep playoff run to injuries, suspensions, and just poor execution at times, are the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys ranked eighth in yards allowed per game at 318.1 this season.

On the surface, all this provides hope that typically springs eternal around the league through the offseason.

It has been far too long since the Cowboys defense matched the skill level of the team’s offense, but Rod Marinelli’s unit (not exactly by design) outplayed that of Scott Linehan’s at times through this 9-7 campaign.

This defensive rebuild in Dallas began with the admission that this group had reached their ceiling in the offseason, as the Cowboys let long-time starters like CB Morris Claiborne, CB Brandon Carr, S Barry Church (now with the Jaguars), and S J.J. Wilcox go in free agency.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense?

Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis, CB Chidobe Awuzie, S Xavier Woods (AP Photo / Ron Jenkins)

For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, looking to turn over an entire secondary in a division featuring Carson Wentz, Eli Manning, and Kirk Cousins as quickly as the Cowboys did was a risky move. Their confidence in hitting on draft picks paid off though.

The Cowboys’ bright future is predicated on the likes of CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Jourdan Lewis, and S Xavier Woods.

With two young starters at cornerback, the sky truly is the limit the this Cowboys defense. And they’ll play in support of an offense with more than enough talent to return to form in 2018.

As it stands now under Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys defense is built to keep everything in front of them, and get bodies to the football. This coverage-friendly approach could be taken to new heights with Lewis and Awuzie on the outside, along with Anthony Brown finding a home in the slot. All three cornerbacks have excelled at using their speed, length, and technique to get their hands on passes.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 1

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

Of course, games are won in the trenches, where the idea of the Cowboys defensive line ever rising to the level of their offensive line was laughable until recently. Whether it’s with the franchise tag or a long-term extension, sack-artist DeMarcus Lawrence looks to be an all-important member of this entire team moving forward.

A healthy Lawrence was a nightmare for opposing right tackles in 2017. He earned a national spotlight each week on his way to the quarterback 14-and-a-half times. Making it look easy at times, Lawrence is a refined rusher with the speed and power to win inside and out.

The RDE position remains a sore spot in need of talent as this Cowboys defense looks to take the next step, but there’s hope for the likes of Randy Gregory, Charles Tapper, and Taco Charlton to get the job done, along with veteran starter Tyrone Crawford.

With Crawford at RDE for much of 2017, running the ball against the Cowboys front was a tall order. His ability to capture the corner against left tackles came as a pleasant surprise to many, and once in position, the defensive captain chased down plenty of plays.

Tyrone Crawford wasn’t the only pleasant surprise on the Dallas Cowboys defensive line this season.

Rookie Taco Charlton looked like an entirely different player to close a first year in Dallas that began with completely uninspiring results. Charlton — having the physical traits to play at the next level — was never a question out of Michigan.

He may never be a player to take over games for a defense, which the Cowboys couldn’t have expected to find at DE selecting 28th overall, but an improved player at DE and DT could be an incredibly valuable asset for the Cowboys in 2018 and beyond.

This leaves the Cowboys linebacker corps, where we find the best example of young potential on the entire defense. Amazingly playing in all 16 games, LB Jaylon Smith is in line to take a massive step forward in year two.

Smith closed his season looking enticingly close to the player he was at Notre Dame, an encouraging sign as the Cowboys look to become less dependent on Sean Lee on this side of the ball.

Lee and Smith paired together would give the Cowboys a middle-of-the-field presence to rival the best in the league. Both players have exceptional range and awareness to run down plays from sideline to sideline.

Anthony Hitchens, an impending free agent, is another valuable piece at LB with his ready ability to play all three positions at a relatively high level.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 2

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

Stefon Diggs racing to the end zone with no time left to send the Vikings to the NFC Championship game will be the lasting image of this past Divisional Round weekend, an offensive play that will live on forever.

A closer look at these games and the teams that survived them reveals a collective trust in defenses, a trust the Cowboys could be blissfully close to with their own young defense.

The Cowboys are likely losing one of the smarter minds behind their defense in recent years, with Matt Eberflus ticketed for Josh McDaniel’s staff, and are still in need of a secondary coach after not retaining Joe Baker. In a league where better talent typically prevails though, the possibility of the Cowboys building a championship defense for next season and beyond may not be far off.

With defenses in Jacksonville and Philadelphia providing the hope that both teams can pull off the impossible and reach the Super Bowl on Sunday, will defensive potential be enough for Dallas to get through this long offseason and start the even longer path back to their first NFC Championship game in 21 seasons?

Tell us what you think about “Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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