The Dallas Cowboys have a really good offense. They can do a lot of things and have a lot of players that can help you win games. In the early part of the 2017 NFL season they found the one thing missing for a dominant offense: the deep threat. Enter Brice Butler.
Staff Writer Brian Martin touched on this earlier in the week with 5 Bye Week Decisions the Cowboys Hopefully Made.
Brice Butler's time with the Cowboys has been marked with inconsistency and drops in crucial times of crucial games. Butler's flipped the script in the 2017 season, and has started to put it together as the team's field stretcher.
In a limited role that has him playing only 32% of snaps--roughly 22 snaps a game--Butler has turned his 11 targets into eight catches for 207 yards (averaging 24.7 YPR) and two touchdowns.
If you were to project those numbers over a full season at a full complement of snaps, it would look a lot like a typical DeSean Jackson season.
If you project Butler's snaps to that of Dez Bryant through the first five games, it projects at 27 targets for 22 receptions, 500 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Over a full season, Butler would be on pace for 70 receptions, 1,600 yards, and 16 touchdowns.
That's DeSean Jackson.
That's how explosive and productive Butler's been in the early stages of the 2017 season.
In fact, no player with 12 receptions or more has a better yards per reception number than Brice Butler's 25.9. Carolina Panthers Tight End Ed Dickson leads all qualified receivers with 20.5 yards per reception.
Here's another one for you. No player with two or more catches has a better YPR rate than Butler in 2017.
He's been absolutely great when given the opportunity.
If there's an area where Dallas can improve, getting Butler and his down-field ability in the game more often is it.
Really, it would help everyone on the team. Dez would be able to run more routes that compliment his physical yards-after-catch style. That, as opposed to the fly or go routes that put him in more 50/50 situations. Someone who can stretch the field vertically--like Brice Butler--would open routes up underneath for Jason Witten and Cole Beasley.
Are you concerned about the 8 and 9-man fronts Ezekiel Elliott often faces? Then get Brice "The Afterburner" Butler on the field more to prevent safeties cheating into the box.
Now, in order for me to get my way, which is going to happen since this is my post, Jason Garrett and the offensive coaches have to make some changes.
Witten, Beasley, and Bryant aren't coming off the field.
Witten's played nearly 100% of the snaps this season. Beasley is one of the better slot receivers in the league, and Dez is Dez; he does Dez things.
Sorry, I've been reading a lot of Dr. Seuss lately.
Where Can Dallas Find More Snaps for Brice Butler?
First, Terrance Williams will have to take one for the team.
Williams is a solid, rather unspectacular player, and what he does in the run game is valuable. However, he doesn't stretch the field like Butler does. Williams doesn't have the impact with his 65% of snaps that Brice has had with his 32%.
When the Cowboys want to go 11-personnel, they should get Butler on the field more.
Secondly, run more 10-personnel.
Put Butler and Williams on the outside and Beasley and Dez in the slot. With Elliott in the backfield there are opportunities galore for Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan and Quarterback Dak Prescott to exploit mismatches.
Third, when going with an empty backfield, use Butler as the fifth receiver.
That's counting Witten as a receiver since he doesn't come off the field, and it would be more effective than motioning out the running back. I get why they spread it out and then empty the backfield. It's all based on what the defense shows them. But if you're going to go empty, which it seems they do more often than not when lined up in a four wide receiver look, then just go empty and get Butler's speed on the field.
Dak Prescott is showing his willingness to push the ball down the field in his second season. He needs someone who can get behind a defense and, so far, that person has been Brice Butler.
Butler may not be a perfect player, he will make mistakes, but what Cowboy hasn't. What Butler does that nobody else on the team can do is use his speed to stress opposing defenses. To me the boom of Butler is worth getting him on the field more.
Coming out of the bye week, let's hope the Dallas Cowboys agree.
Where In The World Is DE Taco Charlton?
Over pretty much the last decade, the Dallas Cowboys have been rock solid with their first round picks. With selections of Ezekiel Elliott, Travis Frederick, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Leighton Vander Esch (just to name a handful), Dallas has rebuilt the core of their roster through the NFL Draft.
It's nearly impossible to bat .1000 in any round of the draft, however, and this appears to be the current case with the Cowboys' 2017 first round pick.
Defensive end Taco Charlton has not had the sophomore season that he, or anyone, had hoped for. A healthy scratch last Sunday, Charlton has only been active for 1 of the Cowboys' last 5 games, and has not recorded a sack or tackle since week 9.
Prior to disappearing with injuries and "attitude issues," Charlton had only recorded 1 sack on the season and was beginning to fall behind his Hot Boy-brethren. Defensive end Randy Gregory has reached his form over the last few weeks, Tyrone Crawford is having arguably a career year, and DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the best ends in all of football.
This doesn't leave much room for Charlton, who's now having issues even getting on the gameday roster. Rod Marinelli dodged questions about Taco Charlton earlier this week, vaguely saying they are "moving forward" and that he'd like to talk about other players on his defensive line who are performing.
Rod Marinelli on Taco Charlton's benching and being inactive last week: "We just keep moving along keep going forward. It's kinda been out there I'd leave it at that. I'd rather talk about our two tackles.
Charlton has not been quiet about his displeasure as of late, either. He's taken to Twitter to voice his frustrations, saying that not only is his shoulder fine but that the Dallas media is making up stories about his absence. He's also posted some cryptic tweets such as this one, with a picture of Allen Iverson and a caption reading "Every players needs that one coach to believe in them."
Maybe Taco is right. Maybe he just needs increased opportunity and a support system/coach that believes in him whole-heartedly. After all, Charlton has faced nothing but doubters and detractors since the second he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
But in the NFL, the ultimate "what have you done for me lately" sport, it's hard to imagine he'll get that unwavering support anywhere in the league. He's going to have to "earn" his playing time, as head coach Jason Garrett spoke to earlier in the week. But with the plethora of talent the Cowboys are already putting out there on the defensive line, it's becoming difficult to see exactly where Taco Charlton can fit in on this defense.
It's possible, and fine, if it is simply not a fit between Charlton and the Cowboys at this point. But I'd also be wary of giving up on your first round pick in just his second NFL season. Another offseason with the team, working on his craft and getting fully healthy, should do Charlton wonders, and hopefully allow us to get a better read on his future with the Cowboys going forward.
Until then, we are all left to scratch out heads and wonder what in the world is going on with the Cowboys and Taco Charlton, and if the former first round pick will have a future in Dallas at all.
Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC
2018 has seen the emergence of high-powered offenses in both NFL conferences. The Kansas City Chiefs sit atop the AFC and the NFC is spearheaded by the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. Through 14 weeks, these three teams are the top three offenses in the NFL, each averaging over 30 points per game. This year, for the first time in NFL history, two teams scored more than 50 in the same game.
Thanks to this consistent impressive offensive performances, you would think "offense" is the name of the game for the 2018 NFL season. Well, not so fast, my friend. Despite sitting atop the NFC, the Saints and the Rams have recently suffered losses that indicate hope is anything but lost for defensive teams in the league.
The Chicago Bears were able to bring down the Rams last Sunday Night 15-6. The same offense that averages 33 points per game was limited to six points. Sean McVay's remarkable offense went home with no touchdowns to talk about on the plane back home. Instead, they probably discussed Jared Goff's four interceptions.
Weeks earlier, the Dallas Cowboys shocked the world when they brought down the Saints. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas simply couldn't move the ball against Leighton Vander Esch, DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones. 13 points were all the Cowboys needed to score to beat an offense that was averaging 37 per game heading into week 13 but was only able to put up 10 in Dallas.
The Cowboys are the #4 seed with the Bears slightly ahead of them as the #3 seed in the NFC. Together, these teams have defeated the top two in the conference. Now granted, playoffs will definitely be different.
For starters, if they are to advance to the divisional round, they'll be on the road. Chicago was surely benefited by playing in such a cold weather versus a Los Angeles team. As far as the Cowboys are concerned, few times has AT&T Stadium been as loud as when they beat the Saints.
Hopefully, we'll get to see both of these elite defenses advance to the Divisional Round to square off against this couple of high-powered offenses again. We will not only be witnessing amazing football games, but a great discussion regarding the everlasting debate between offense and defense.
For years, "defense wins championships" has been a widely accepted statement in football. The Cowboys and Bears have made that same statement resound recently with their impressive wins.
Can they do it again in January football? Can they do it on the road?
Cowboys en Español: Los Colts No Son Cualquier Rival
Al igual que el resto de la afición de los Dallas Cowboys, parte de mí se siente confiada respecto a este equipo visitando a Indianapolis Colts y resultando victoriosos. ¿El problema? Los Colts no son un rival sencillo de vencer. Si crees que la racha de los Cowboys los intimidará, piensa de nuevo. Los Houston Texans llevaban nueve victorias al hilo antes de enfrentarse a este equipo.
Siendo objetivos, este puede ser el partido que evite que los Cowboys cierren su temporada con ocho victorias al hilo para terminar el año con un récord de 11-5. Ni los Tampa Bay Buccaneers ni los New York Giants deberían presentar amenaza alguna contra Dallas. Lo mismo no se puede decir de Indianapolis.
Por primera vez en mucho tiempo, Andrew Luck está realmente de vuelta. Gracias a una reconstrucción de su línea ofensiva, su nivel de juego a regresado al nivel que conocíamos de él desde que llegó a la NFL. Afortunadamente para los Colts, Luck se ha mantenido sano toda la temporada y no se ve rastro alguno de sus lesiones anteriores en el emparrillado.
T.Y. Hilton está teniendo un muy buen año y sin duda alguna presentará un reto para Byron Jones y el resto de la secundaria de los Cowboys. Eric Ebron en la posición de tight end también será un dolor de cabeza para la defensiva.
Lo más interesante se dará en las trincheras. Los Cowboys han hecho un muy buen trabajo presionando quarterbacks opuestos en la temporada, pero si el centro de los Colts, Ryan Kelly está sano el domingo, se enfrentarán al mejor duo de centro-guardia en la liga actualmente. Con Quenton Nelson al lado, Luck estará muy bien protegido.
Sin embargo, Kelly no ha jugado debido a una lesión y aún está por verse si tomará el campo el domingo por la mañana. Los Cowboys hicieron un muy buen trabajo a la entonces ofensiva #1 de la liga, los New Orleans Saints, pero eso no significa que la ofensiva #8 que tienen los Colts no los retará.
Promediando 27 puntos por juego, la defensiva necesitará ayuda de Dak Prescott y compañía para ganar el partido. Dallas continúa moviendo el balón efectivamente, pero es tiempo de anotar touchdowns y no goles de campo.
Ezekiel Elliott será, una vez más, clave para la victoria. Enfrentándose a una defensiva Top 10 contra el juego terrestre, mover las cadenas con Zeke no será tan fácil. El novato Darius Leonard como linebacker ha sido algo espectacular otra temporada al igual que Leighton Vander Esch. Liderando a toda la NFL en tackleadas, estará listo para recibir a los Cowboys al Lucas Oil Stadium.
Lo más importante de este partido...
Por más impresionante que sea la racha de cinco victorias consecutivas, los Cowboys tienen que demostrar que pueden ganarle a un equipo fuerte estando de visita. Porque hay que admitirlo, Jason Garrett y su equipo no han tenido éxito fuera de casa. Claro, le ganaron a un equipo debilitado de Philadelphia Eagles y a unos Atlanta Falcons que va 4-9.
Este equipo "nuevo" de los Cowboys no ha ido contra un rival de calidad siendo el visitante. Es tiempo de demostrar que lo pueden hacer, ya que si quieren contender en postemporada, es justo lo que necesitarán... jugar bien de visita.
Sinceramente creo que los Cowboys ganan este partido. Principalmente gracias a su defensiva, pero también veo a la ofensiva dominar el tiempo de posesión en un juego de pocos puntos. Es tiempo de mantener esa racha.
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