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Dallas Cowboys: One Thing Fans Aren’t Understanding

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Cowboys Blog - Cowboys: One Thing Fans Aren't Understanding

It's 3rd & 1 and the Dallas Cowboys need a short push to get a much-needed first down. Behind the best offensive line in football, this looks to be easy for Darren McFadden and the Cowboys. The ball is hiked to Matt Cassel, Cassel proceeds to hand the ball off to McFadden, and McFadden is stuffed at the line. The Cowboys are then forced to punt. How many times have you witnessed that happening this season?

Well, it's actually happened a lot. According to 105.3 The Fan's Shan Shariff, the Cowboys are 7-18 on 3rd & 1. For all of you math majors out there, that's a 39% success rate. Yikes.

Behind All-Pros like Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin, as well as an up-and-coming player in La'el Collins, and a guy who isn't so bad himself in Doug Free, the Cowboys should be converting easily, but really, the problems lie all on the coaching staff. On short-yardage plays, the Cowboys bring in jumbo personnel, meaning two more tight ends for extra blocking. In theory, this sounds like more blocking, but it attracts more defenders which means more clutter and less space for the offensive line to do what they're best at. Here's a picture of what I'm talking about:

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys: One Thing Fans Aren't Understanding 1

In this picture, because the Cowboys come out in their jumbo personnel, the Packers basically have all 11 of their guys within five yards of ball. Robert Turbin is seven yards from the ball. Once the ball is snapped, and it's determined it's a running play, it's honestly easy to see why the Cowboys aren't having success on short-yardage plays.

Let's take a look at two plays where the offensive line opened up huge holes:

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys: One Thing Fans Aren't Understanding 2

On this play, notice how Free is sealing the edge, Martin is blowing out the "backup" man and how James Hanna is sealing the outside linebacker. This leads to a hole like this:

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys: One Thing Fans Aren't Understanding 3

This leads to a 50-yard gain for McFadden. Let's take a look at another play:

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys: One Thing Fans Aren't Understanding 4

Notice on this pitch to McFadden how Jason Witten comes underneath to seal the defensive end, allowing Collins and Smith to use their athleticism get to the outside. The outside-man, Smith, blows the cornerback off the football.

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys: One Thing Fans Aren't Understanding 5

We then see an absolutely huge hole for McFadden. Shortly after this image, we see Collins absolutely destroy Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and then continue running another 30 yards to block another defender.

These two plays are prime examples why the narrative of 'the Cowboys' offensive line isn't nearly as good as it was last year' is simply a joke. The other bad one is 'maybe DeMarco Murray helped the offensive line more than the offensive line helped him'. Dallas' offensive line is still the best in football. Over the next few years, this unit will only continue to get better.



An online sports writer for about three years now, Ryan is a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan. He writes about his favorite team on Inside The Star. Ryan also writes for other publications like Roster Watch, Rant Sports, and Cuse Nation. Ryan is a freshman at Syracuse University majoring in Information Management and Technology. You can follow him on Twitter @RyanRattyNFL.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Keith

    December 13, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    This year team the whole organization is horrible, does jerry jones want to win? First of all we need a good backup QB not a bargain also take a look a some of the DB'S. The Cowboys should be in a league with the Patriots you know they always make the playoffs, we made the playoffs two times in 20 yrs thats unheard of.Jerry wake up and make some decisions.

  2. Freddie Suave

    December 13, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    The coaching staff are just plain DUMB & STUPID. They will NEVER get it. Don't even know how to manage a game. Bring on Sean Peyton, at least he knows how to build a team and how to be UNPREDICTABLE. Garrett IS NOT a coach with any experience. Jerry Jones just likes to use Garrett as his scapegoat. As long as Jerry Jones controls him, they will NEVER win a Superbowl. CowboysNation continues to suffer for their STUPIDITY. THANK Jerry Jones & Family!!

  3. Ellen

    December 14, 2015 at 7:41 am

    The play calling is so predictable that a high school defense could recognize the offense when you're at the goal line trying to score on a run play why not a sweep because Linehan! U see up the middle is gonna be jammed up. Common sense!!!!!

  4. Zac Fields

    December 14, 2015 at 11:27 am

    Thanks for a great article, Ryan!

    I think the idea that the Cowboys offensive line isn't very good is ridiculous. Do they have flaws that maybe we didn't know about (or chose to ignore) heading into the season? Sure. If the belief was that Joseph Randle was going to be a 1,500 yard back behind this offensive line, then surely you're disappointed right now.

    With that said, they are indeed one of the top 3 offensive lines in football, at least. They're young and they do have a pretty weak link in Doug Free, so they're not perfect but they're VERY GOOD.

    My main gripe about yesterday's game: McFadden's two stellar runs came on similar types of plays. Both pitch-out plays where McFadden was running outside trying to get the edge. Why did they only run that play twice? Zack Martin and La'ell Collins are SPECTACULAR running that play. The best blocks I've seen in several years have come this season on those exact plays where one of those guys pulls to the outside and functions as a lead blocker.

    I understand minimizing it because you can't have your offensive line running all over the field on every play, but only twice? When it yielded a 40+ yard gain both times? I really don't think we're giving enough credibility to the idea that maybe Scott Linehan just really isn't that good of an OC unless he's got perfect talent (like last year) at pretty much every position.

  5. Fred Goodwin

    December 14, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Yes fans are so stupid. Thank God for so-called "experts" like Ryan to explain it all to us mindless dumb@$$es!

  6. maxdallasfan

    December 14, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Teams don't fear our passing game. Haven't since Romo went down.

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Star Blog

2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1

Kevin Brady

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Byron Jones

Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.

Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.

Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.

The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas

Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.

Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.

The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.

Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Time to Stop Making Excuses for QB Dak Prescott?

Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.

Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.

Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Pues en Dallas, hoy dos  jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.

Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.

Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.

Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.

Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial" 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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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 2

Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.

The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.

The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.

Lock Down the Big Guns

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

@Randy81MossRetires, via Twitter

Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.

Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.

As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.

Adding New Talent

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 1

@brkicks, via Twitter

One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.

Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.

If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.

Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.

Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.

The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.

As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.

Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.



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