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Dallas Cowboys Have A “Pick Your Poison” Offense

Brian Martin



Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys Have A Pick Your Poison Offense

Is it too obvious to state that the Dallas Cowboys will live and die by the success of their offense in 2016?

It should really come to no surprise to anyone that has followed the Dallas Cowboys over the past several years. The organization has invested heavily on the offensive side of the ball, despite the fact that everyone seems to believe that defense wins championships.

Obviously, owner/general manager Jerry Jones doesn't seem to buy into that belief and if you take a good hard look at what Jones and Company has been able to put together on the offensive side of the ball, you might just agree.

The 2016 offense for the Dallas Cowboys should be one of the top units in the entire NFL and if I'm a defensive coordinator game planning against this unit, I think I would definitely have some sleepless nights ahead of myself.

America's Team is going to have a "pick your poison" offense in 2016, and that's without their projected starting quarterback Tony Romo.

Unfortunately for defensive coordinators on the Cowboys schedule this year, Dak Prescott might just make the offense just a little bit more difficult to game plan for. Don't get me wrong, Romo will absolutely be missed while he's out recovering from his injury, but Prescott adds a little different dimension.

Let me try to break this down all further and explain what I mean by "pick your poison".

Dak Prescott

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys "Have A "Pick Your Poison" Offense"The New York Giants will be the guinea pig about how to game plan for a rookie quarterback with only preseason game film to go by.

I think it's pretty obvious teams are going to stack the box and try to shut down the running game, thus putting the offense in the hands of the Cowboys 2016 fourth round draft pick, Dak Prescott.

Well, if that's what opposing defenses are going to try to do against Prescott, then they better be prepared to be exposed in another area of their defense.

Prescott has the ability to make plays with both his arm and his legs, hence the other dimension I mentioned earlier. He has been doing this since he first started opening up eyes with his play on the field back in high school and in fact holds many of the schools records at Mississippi State because of these traits.

The coaching staff is going to put Prescott in the best position to win as possible. That means probably a lot more snaps in shotgun and maybe even a little more a zone reads than we're used to seeing.

Although you are losing Romo's experience in the offensive scheme and his ability to make pre-snap reads, you're gaining a much more mobile QB that can make plays in a variety of different ways.

Ezekiel Elliott

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys "Have A "Pick Your Poison" Offense" 1

Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

There is a reason the Dallas Cowboys drafted Ezekiel Elliott so highly. He is not only one of the best all-around running backs to come out of college in arguably the past decade, but he is the perfect fit for the Cowboys offense.

We didn't really get to see a lot of Elliott in the preseason, but the small sample size we did see against the Seattle Seahawks should ease any concerns you might have had.

Elliott ran with speed, power, vision, decisiveness, and attitude. He is going to make everybody forget about DeMarco Murray.

Defenses are going to try to take him of the game for reason, but that's easier said than done.

Elliott can hurt a defense by not only running the ball, but catching the ball out of the backfield as a receiver. It's not something he did a lot in college at Ohio State, but he is more than capable of being a dangerous threat in the passing game.

Elliott's versatility to line up all over the formation is really going to be hard for a defensive coordinator to game plan for.

Offensive line

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys "Have A "Pick Your Poison" Offense" 2The Dallas Cowboys offensive line is arguably the best in the NFL, and for good reason, but not many people understand why they are so good.

Personally, I think it all comes down to two words, agility and power.

Every member of the offensive line has the agility needed to play in that zone blocking scheme that the Cowboys like to use, but they also have the power to line up head-to-head against the opposing defensive line and create a push up front.

This versatility allows them to get creative in their blocking assignments, mix matching zone and power running schemes. This can really create confusion for opposing defenses and is one of the reasons why the Cowboys running game has been so successful.

In pass protection, they do a great job of communicating, which allows them to pick up exotic blitzes and stunts.

This talented and versatile unit will be a huge reason why the Dallas Cowboys find success in 2016.

Dez Bryant

Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys "Have A "Pick Your Poison" Offense" 3No one might benefit more from the addition of Ezekiel Elliott then Dez Bryant. There was a reason Bryant's best season in the NFL was in 2014, when the Cowboys stayed committed to the run.

Defenses had to decide whether they wanted to double cover Bryant or commit an extra defender in the box to try to stop the running game. Either way, they were wrong with whatever decision they made.

Bryant is the definition of playmaker and has to be accounted for wherever he lines up on the field.

He is arguably the best WR in the NFL at high pointing the ball and coming down with the catch. He can also take a simple short pass and take it to the house because he is so dangerous in the open field.

I fully expect that Dez Bryant will have an outstanding 2016 season. We have already witnessed that he has a connection with QB Dak Prescott and there seems to be no lingering effects from his 2015 injuries.


Obviously these aren't the only weapons the Cowboys have an offense, but they are the ones that a defensive coordinator has to make sure the game plan for.

I didn't even mention future Hall of Famer Jason Witten, Cole Beasley, or Terrance Williams. The list can go on and on, but I think you get my point.

We just have to hope that the Dallas Cowboys "pick your poison" offense can carry the team in 2016, otherwise they are going to be in big trouble.

Do you agree or disagree?

Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.

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.

  • Bill Dunn

    Forgot Brice Butler who looks like he could be dangerous and the ability of Lucky Whitehead on jet sweeps, as well as the other backfield members like Morris and Dunbar.
    Stacked on offense. Should be fun to watch.

    • Brian Martin

      Bill, I definitely agree with you, but I just couldn’t mention everybody in the article. The Cowboys offense definitely has a plethora of offensive weapons at their disposal.

Player News

Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson

Jess Haynie



Deonte Thompson

The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.

Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.

Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.

Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.

For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys: How “Position-Flex” Has Handcuffed The 2015 Draft Class

Kevin Brady



Byron Jones

Over the last few years the Dallas Cowboys have placed a high level of importance on "position flex." They've drafted Swiss-Army knife players which could be moved around to different positions on the field.

By drafting players like Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods last year, as well as Byron Jones in 2015, the Cowboys have tried to find these versatile players who can be used in multiple ways.

While this seems great on paper, this strategy has handcuffed the majority of their 2015 Draft Class, and is a key reason why the Cowboys seem to be in such a tough spot.

Byron Jones

The Cowboys' first round pick in 2015, Byron Jones, quickly became a favorite of mine during his rookie season. Incredibly athletic, long, and skilled in coverage, Jones was able to be both a fantastic cover cornerback and a solid middle-of-the-field safety due to his range.

Due to both injuries to his teammates, and Jones' own versatility, the Cowboys coaching staff couldn't keep Jones in just one spot. Once they discovered how great he was in man coverage against tight ends, they became enamored with trying to play him in the box.

Once in the box, Jones' struggles as a run defender were highlighted, and both the organization and the fans soured on him quickly.

Now it is rumored that Byron Jones will be moving back to cornerback full time. And while I do hope this is the case, the fact that he is in year four, and the Cowboys haven't been able to find their first round pick a permanent home is a huge indictment on their ability to evaluate and develop talent.

Chaz Green

Okay, hear me out.

The former third round pick of the 2015 Draft was brought in to be the swing tackle for the Cowboys his rookie year. Mainly due to injuries, Green did not see the field for much of his first two seasons. When he did fill in for Tyron Smith at left tackle in 2016, however, Green was very effective.

Of course, Chaz Green's last appearance with the Cowboys was ugly, giving up a plethora of sacks against the Atlanta Falcons. But Dallas might've made their own bed with Green during the beginning of the 2017 season, when they attempted to move him to left guard full time.

Instead of getting the increased work at tackle, and continuing to work as the swing tackle for the team in case of injury, Dallas started Green at left guard early on in the year. He struggled trying to move positions, and looked even worse when trying to move back to tackle.

Once again, the position flex bit the Cowboys right in the backside.

La'el Collins

It's 2018 and we are still talking about what position to play La'el Collins on the offensive line. And that is solely on the coaching staff and front office, not Collins.

Collins was brought in as an undrafted free agent in 2015, but was widely regarded as a first round pick heading into that draft. Though he started at left tackle at LSU, Dallas shifted Collins inside to left guard in 2015. After taking over for Ronald Leary as the starter, Collins produced highlight blocks week after week.

Injuries shortened his 2016 campaign, but heading into 2017 the Cowboys decided to shift him back out to right tackle. Despite some early struggles, Collins progressed nicely throughout the year and became a solid starting right tackle. Plus, he has the upside to become one of the top right tackles in the league.

Instead, it is now being rumored the Cowboys might move him back to guard for 2018. And with that news, I continue to pull my hair out over the position-flex decisions this coaching staff and front office like to make.

If the Cowboys want to get the most out of each draft class, and effectively develop their talent, they need to let those players actually develop, rather than move them around each season. Hopefully they now understand this, and allow both Byron Jones and La'el Collins to reach their full potential.

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Player News

Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

Sean Martin



Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.

The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.

Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.

A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.

Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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