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Dallas Cowboys Hire Kris Richard as Passing Game Coordinator, Replacing Eberflus

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Interview Kris Richard for Spot on Coaching Staff, Where Does He Fit?

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli is nearing the end of his career, just as his defense appears to be building towards something special. In 2017, the Cowboys completely turned over their secondary with positive results, and saw DeMarcus Lawrence record 14.5 sacks. In need of bright coaching minds to further develop this defense, the Cowboys have hired former Seattle Seahawks Defensive Coordinator Kris Richard as their passing game coordinator.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Former Seahawks' DC Kris Richard is being hired as the Cowboys' Passing Game Coordinator, as @TheGeeScott reported.

Richard has been in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks since 2010, serving as their DC from 2015-2017. Richard's defense forced four turnovers and held Peyton Manning's Broncos to 306 yards in a decisive 43-8 win in Super Bowl XLVIII. He is now the Cowboys' replacement for Matt Eberflus, who passed on a promotion to the Cowboys DC position to join Josh McDaniels and the Indianapolis Colts.

Eberflus' departure for Indianapolis was viewed around the organization as an overdue change of scenery, as landing the coordinator job with Marinelli still in place does little to actually "promote" Eberflus.

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Dallas Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli, DE Taco Charlton (Matthew Emmons / USA TODAY Sports)

Regarded as a better teacher of front-seven talent than cornerbacks and safeties, Marinelli and Richard should have no such power struggle -- instead forming a dynamic pairing that sets the Cowboys up for success on defense in the present and in the future.

Eberflus was regarded as one of the smartest coaches behind the Cowboys defense, and Kris Richard's accolades warrant a similar level of respect. Richard found himself in a perfect situation in Seattle, getting to coach Pro Bowl secondary players like Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas. The Seahawks' vaunted passing defense also sustained their excellence by getting the most out of third round draft picks like Shaquill Griffin and free agent pickup Byron Maxwell.

The ability to develop talent was clearly on display under Richard in Seattle.

Now, Kris Richard leaves behind an aging defense with the Seahawks to coach the likes of Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, Xavier Woods, and Byron Jones. Should Richard get the most out of this promising Cowboys secondary, a defensive coordinator position could very well be in his future with Dallas.

In this story from ESPN, Cowboys reporter Todd Archer points out that it was Matt Eberflus in his role as passing game coordinator that installed the team's dime package. This is a defensive scheme in which the Cowboys were arguably at their best through much of 2016 and 2017, scattering the field with defensive backs that can come up and tackle.

Richard deployed a similar scheme with the Seahawks, and has the personnel with the Cowboys to continue coaching his players to both his own strengths, and theirs.

As mentioned, it likely won't be long until the DC spot is available in Dallas. With the right hires beneath Marinelli for 2018, this job could be one of the league's most coveted. Also interviewing John Pagano and Ray Horton recently, the Cowboys could ideally promote from within when the time comes to replace Marinelli.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys are scheduled to meet with John Pagano, who ended last season as Oakland's defensive coordinator, and Ray Horton, a longtime defensive backs coach and former Cowboys. https://t.co/BfyWBv4bTo

Like Richard, both Pagano and Horton have held DC jobs in the past. Pagano led the Chargers defense from 2012-2016 before being hired mid-season by the Raiders this year. He has a collective 21 years of NFL coaching experience.

Ray Horton has coached in the NFL since 1994, holding DC positions with three different teams since 2011. Out of a job in 2017, the former Dallas Cowboys defensive back last coordinated the Cleveland Browns defense in 2016.

Few coaches in new positions around the league may have a better chance at impressing their new teams more than Kris Richard in Dallas though. A fantastic hire by the Cowboys, Richard alone turns a defensive staff in desperate need of talent to replace Eberflus and Greg Jackson into one with plenty of potential.

Dallas Cowboys Hire Kris Richard as Passing Game Coordinator, Replacing Eberflus

Dallas Cowboys passing game coordinator Kris Richard with the Seattle Seahawks

For all of the talk about the coaching changes the Cowboys weren't making following a disappointing season, they are finally giving Cowboys Nation something to be excited about with the talent entering The Star -- and we haven't even reached the NFL Draft or free agency yet.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Hire Kris Richard as Passing Game Coordinator, Replacing Eberflus" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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Dallas Cowboys

Despite Changes, Cowboys Offense Still Runs Through Ezekiel Elliott

Jess Haynie

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Ezekiel Elliott, Rams

We've talked a lot this offseason about the changes at Offensive Coordinator and slot receiver, or how Jason Witten's return will impact the tight end position. But while all of these will impact the Dallas Cowboys' offense in 2019, the constant feature remains Running Back Ezekiel Elliott and the rushing attack.

From 2016 to 2018, since the Cowboys drafted Elliott, Dallas has ranked 1st, 3rd, and 10th among NFL teams in "run vs. pass" play calls. That's only logical; you don't spend a fourth-overall pick on a RB and then not make him the featured player in your offense.

Zeke has certainly rewarded Dallas' decision; Elliott has led the league in total rushing two out of three years, and he led in yards-per-game in 2017 while dealing with his suspension.

Leaning on Elliott has been smart business based on his effectiveness, plus the investment in the offensive line over the last several years.

Dallas has now sunk three first-round picks (Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin), one second (Connor Williams), and now two thirds (Chaz Green and Connor McGovern) on building up their front wall. They've spent a lot of money to keep their All-Pro guys around, plus La'el Collins.

Some would try to paint the run-heavy approach as how the team is trying to hide the weaknesses of Dak Prescott at quarterback. But in 2014, with DeMarco Murray at RB and Tony Romo at QB, the Cowboys were still 3rd in the league in rush vs. pass attempts.

This isn't about Zeke or Dak, or any other specific player. This about a team philosophy that starts at the top with Jason Garrett, and that isn't going to change even with Kellen Moore taking over as the new Offensive Coordinator.

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Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

We're all excited to see what new wrinkles comes from getting rid of Scott Linehan. We highly anticipate the development of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup in the offense, coupled with the addition of Randall Cobb. We're salivating at what Blake Jarwin might become under the tutelage of the great Jason Witten.

Heck, maybe we'll see fullback Jamize Olawale's receiving skills put to more use. Perhaps gadget guys like Tavon Austin or rookie Tony Pollard will be deployed in more creative ways.

And yes, Dak Prescott's growth is another major factor in Dallas' 2019 success. It's especially interesting, and even concerning, as talks are ongoing about his long-term contract.

But make no mistake, this is still the Ezekiel Elliott show. Even if a few more of his carries become receptions in Moore's scheme, Zeke should still get the lion's share of the touches.

That's why this week's news about his incident in Las Vegas is so troubling. It probably won't lead to a suspension, but we saw what happened in 2017 when Elliott was missing for over a third of the season.

While Dallas should be better able to withstand losing Zeke now than it was two years ago, it may still be more than Prescott, Cooper, and the rest could handle. It definitely wouldn't put the Cowboys in good position to compete for a Super Bowl.

In the end, the 2019 will still come down to how well Dallas runs the ball. It's the engine; nothing else matters if the rushing game doesn't set everyone else up for success.

Don't ever take it for granted. This is still Ezekiel Elliott's offense.



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What Would a Successful Season Mean for Kellen Moore’s Future?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Kellen Moore

Out of every chess piece moved by the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, the decision to name 30-year old Kellen Moore might be the most interesting one. Not only that, but it could be the one that makes the biggest impact on the team. After all, the Cowboys are ready to go talent wise.

With Kellen Moore taking up a new role, it's intriguing to imagine what a successful season would mean for his future with the Dallas Cowboys. Truth be told, Moore is in a pretty fortunate position to debut as an offensive coordinator. He'll be driving a unit full of talented players with almost no weak links. Last year, it wasn't the lack of quality players lined up that had the offense struggling throughout the season, but the guy in charge.

At first, the philosophy of not needing a #1 wide receiver clearly blew up on the Cowboys face. The passing game in Dallas needed a spark and they didn't find it until they traded a first rounder for Amari Cooper. Cooper's impact on the team was clear right away as he put on impressive performances on a weekly basis.

But even when Cooper was at his best, the offense still presented relevant struggles. Despite getting more first downs, the Cowboys still had trouble scoring touchdowns when in the red zone and kept leaving points on the field.

Although he's been a controversial conversation among members of Cowboys Nation, there are a few reasons to be excited about what Kellen Moore can bring to the table as a young offensive coordinator. Ever since he declared for the NFL Draft out of Boise State, where he ran a very complex offense on his way to become the QB with most wins in NCAA history, he was seen by many as an extremely smart prospect. Many expected him to have a mediocre career as a player, but saw him as a potential coach down the line.

Now it's his chance to prove the world just how smart he is and his potential as a coach. He will not only be proving it to the Cowboys organization, but all of the NFL and college football teams. Don't forget what NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah mentioned a few months ago.

Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter

I've mentioned this before- Kellen Moore is a rising star and he'll be in the mix for HC gigs (CFB or NFL) in the near future. https://t.co/hLjOb4HAUc

With a great group of talent at his disposal, it's fair to imagine Moore having a pretty successful "rookie" season at a major coaching position. If he indeed manages to turn heads with the Dallas Cowboys offense in 2019, what does that mean for his future?

In a league that's turning to the young offensive-minded coaches thanks to guys like Sean McVay, is it possible one team decides to pull the trigger and make him an offer for a head coaching gig? It certainly would seem premature, but it's still a possibility in the NFL, where teams have become increasingly impatient with their coaches.

I definitely wouldn't be surprised if next offseason, we're concerned about another team (college or NFL) trying to snatch Moore off the Cowboys. I insist in pointing out this would be a premature decision if it does happen, since Moore has very little experience, but looking at the trend in the NFL it certainly could happen.

This might be the most important year in Kellen Moore's young career. For now, let's hope he does a good job leading Dak Prescott in his fourth year as a professional player and an offense that has a solid OL and a pretty good set of skill players.

Tell me what you think about "What Would a Successful Season Mean for Kellen Moore’s Future?" 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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Connor Williams Working as Left Tackle in Cowboys Practice

Jess Haynie

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Connor Williams

Second-year guard Connor Williams has been working as the Cowboys' left tackle during practice this week. While this isn't the plan for him in 2019, it does provide a glimpse into potential uses for Williams down the road and how Dallas might handle future offensive line moves.

Using Connor at LT this week has been a matter of necessity. The top players on that depth chart, Tyron Smith and Cameron Fleming, were not participating for other reasons.

Todd Archer on Twitter

With Tyron Smith getting a vet day and Cam Fleming not practicing because of a bruised shin, Connor Williams worked at left tackle Wednesday. He said it was his first left tackle snaps since he was at Texas. He said it felt like riding a bike after a little bit.

Indeed, Williams spent three years at left tackle in college. It was the last position he'd played before being drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft by Dallas, who immediately moved him to guard.

Connor started 10 of 13 games at guard last season. He played mostly on the left side, starting Weeks 1-9, before getting injured. Xavier Su'a-Filo played well enough in his absence that Williams didn't get the starting job back when he was healthy. However, when Zack Martin had to miss a few games at the end of the year, Connor started a right guard for those two weeks.

When Martin returned for the playoffs, Williams was back as the starting left guard in both postseason games.

Tyron Smith and Cam Fleming will be your starter and backup at left tackle next year. But for 2020 and beyond, Connor Williams' ability to play tackle creates some interesting possibilities.

La'el Collins will be an unrestricted free agent next year. Fleming will still have one year left on his deal and Dallas just spent a third-round pick on the versatile Connor McGovern. Throw in that Williams can play some tackle, and it seems as if they're covering bases for Collins eventual departure.

We could very well see a starting lineup in 2020 with McGovern at LG and Williams at RT. Another possibility is that Fleming starts at RT and Williams stays at guard, but can be moved to tackle if needed.

If nothing else, it's nice to know that Dallas has options. We may never see Connor Williams play a regular season snap at left tackle, but versatility is a great asset. It can greatly increase a player's value, and give his team some leverage and flexibility in roster management.

For the Cowboys, it does make you wonder what the future holds for the offensive line.



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