In part one of this series we discussed how we see things shaking down amongst the over populated line backing corps.
This next group some might say is the most critical to the Cowboys success, and I would be one of those people. As far as the defense goes this unit holds all the keys to success!
This very potent and powerful defense cannot do the things it wants without solid secondary play. The Cowboys have spent a lot of time and draft picks on shoring up the secondary, from first on the depth chart down to the last man on the chart.
So let’s take a look at what they have going to camp!
Terrence Newman – Will be the starting Left Corner (barring Injury)
Mike Jenkins – Heading into camp as the leading candidate to start at Right Corner, but will have to battle to keep the spot.
Orlando Scandrick – The leading candidate to replace Jenkins if he stumbles, and most assuredly the best Nickel corner on the team.
Alan Ball – Alan has a leg up on the rest of the competition heading into camp based off of the solid year he had in 2008 with the boys.
Mike Mickens – By most accounts the steal of the draft, thought by many to be a top of the 2nd round guy the Cowboys were able to wait and pick him up in the middle of the 7th. Should be able to contribute in special teams right away.
Ken Hamlin – Will be the starting Free Safety again this year for the Cowboys, and thanks to an upgrade at Strong safety Hamlin should be able to get back to his 2007 Pro Bowl form.
Gerald Sensebaugh – One of the Cowboys top free agents acquisitions this year should add a much needed dimension to the Cowboys secondary.
Courtney Brown – Originally a Corner but made the switch to Safety at the start of 2007. Brown has the ability to be a ball hawking safety, this being his third year with the team and at safety means that this is a make or break year for him. Could also see some time at corner.
Pat Watkins – Is a big athletic, rangy player the Cowboys had high hopes for this young man, unfortunately that has not come to fruition just yet. Pat is a solid special teams player (has gotten lost a few times however) Special teams play will not keep him on the team this year, he must prove his worth as a safety.
Jerome Carter – Former 4th round selection of the St.Louis Rams in 2005 and spent all of last year out of work, was signed to a futures contract by the Cowboys in January.
DeAngelo Smith – The Cowboys used the first of two 5th round picks on Mike Mickens collegiate teammate. DeAngelo was a top cornerback in college but the Cowboys have moved him over to safety, giving themselves more options at the position. In the early stages of his career could see some opportunities at corner as well.
Michael Hamlin – The second of two 5th round selections Hamlin is a pure Free Safety, while lacking a little in the pure speed department he makes up for in instincts and awareness, hard hitting safety that has a nose for the ball and an exceptional leader.
Last year the Cowboys kept seven Cornerbacks and 4 Safeties, and I think those are probably pretty decent figures to go with this year. So with that in mind the coaching staff will have some major decisions to make.
With eleven spots available and 12 players vying for those spots the competition could get very heated in San Antonio.
My belief is that the Cowboys will end up releasing Jerome Carter, and then use DeAngelo Smith, and Courtney Brown as “Tweeners” leaving the secondary looking something like this.
Terrence Newman , Orlando Scandrick
Mike Jenkins , Alan Ball
Courtney Brown , DeAngelo Smith
Ken Hamlin , Courtney Brown , DeAngelo Smith
Gerald Sensebaugh , Michael Hamlin , Pat Watkins
I would however like to say that I would not be a bit surprised if Pat Watkins was released as well. Pat has gotten several opportunities to claim a spot on this team and has simply not capitalized on those opportunities.
Who stays and who goes in your view?
The Brady Report: Cowboys Defense Run Over In Primetime Loss
Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings was a tough one to take for the Dallas Cowboys. They could easily be sitting here today at 7-2 or 6-3, comfortably ahead of the Eagles for first place in the division and fighting for a first round bye in the postseason.
Instead, they are barely over .500 on the season and face de facto must win games each week from here on out. Obviously they let this one slip away, but there's a whole seven games to go before we know the fate of the 2019 Dallas Cowboys.
Let's discuss what went wrong (and right) last week during the Cowboys 28-24 loss.
- What more can we say about Dak Prescott? The Cowboys franchise quarterback was incredible yet again on Sunday night, having arguably his best game to date even in defeat. Prescott was in complete control of the offense, and showcased his mastery by bailing the Cowboys out with some big third down throws. Prescott finished with 397 yards and 3 touchdowns, and continues to force the hand of the Jones family to break out the checkbook this offseason.
- Much like Dak Prescott, I'm running out of adjectives to describe the play of wide receiver Amari Cooper. Cooper has been a God-send for this Cowboys offense over the last calendar year, looking like one of the best wide outs in the league week in and week out. Cooper went for 147 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches, and should have been given a chance to win the game on the team's final drive.
- Alright, that's enough praise in defeat. Let's talk about the negatives. The defensive tackles were flat-out awful. No matter who it was - Antwaun Woods, Maliek Collins, Christian Covington, Kerry Hyder - anyone who was asked to defend the run at the 1 or 3 technique position had some very low moments against the Vikings. Minnesota bullied the Cowboys upfront on both the sides of the ball, en route to over 150 yards on the ground for this Vikings offense. Dalvin Cook and the Vikings offensive line won this game, and the Cowboys interior defensive line needs to be better if they hope to actually compete against good teams.
- The defensive tackles were bad against the run Sunday night, but let's not let the linebackers off the hook. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are each immensely talented, but neither has been as consistent as a run defender as they need to be going forward. Smith looked flat-out dis-engaged at times during this one, and both linebackers were run over by interior offensive linemen getting to the second level. I've often praised Smith for his versatility and what it does to unleash this defense, but he was plain bad last week.
- Of course, we can't let the coaching staff off the hook for this loss either. Head coach Jason Garrett made several questionable fourth down calls down the stretch of the game, and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore was determined to pound the ball on first down despite achieving next to no success. On the defensive end, Kris Richard's defensive backs were toasted. Chidobe Awuzie continues to look like a liability opposite Byron Jones, and the safety spot next to Xavier Woods has been a massive hole all season. And, while both Jones and Woods have been mostly good this year, neither was particularly impressive either during this loss. It was a total and complete defensive failure. This team needs to get better fast, and it all starts at the top with the coaching staff.
Loss to Minnesota Could be the Final Nail in Jason Garrett’s Coffin
The 2019 NFL season kind of seemed like a do or die situation for the Dallas Cowboys current Head Coach Jason Garrett. He is currently in the last year of his contract and his future with the Cowboys organization could be hanging in the balance, especially after the devastating loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
If Jason Garrett isn't extended beyond this season, this loss to Minnesota could possibly be where his career with the Dallas Cowboys started to circle the drain. There are still several games left on the Cowboys schedule this season, but this one loss could be the one that ends up knocking them out of the playoffs. If that's true, it's hard to believe JG will be retained.
Jerry Jones, and son Stephen, have both fully supported Jason Garrett since he became the Cowboys full-time head coach back in 2011 after serving as the interim HC for Wade Phillips in 2010. That's nearly a decade of the Jones' sticking by JG through all of the thick and thin over years. That unwavering support however could be coming to an end though.
The proof is in the pudding as they say. As a head coach Jason Garrett is slightly above average according to his all-time win/loss record. His regular-season record as the HC with the Cowboys is 82-62 (.569) and he's 2-3 (.400) in the postseason. Add all of that up and he's 84-65 (.564) in his career… slightly above average.
If I know anything about the Jones', I know getting the Dallas Cowboys back to the promised land as one of the best teams in the NFL is at the top of their list. That's why we've seen them over the years take chances on players other teams wouldn't in order to put together the most competitive roster they possibly could. Now that attention might need to be shifted from the players to the head coach.
Much like the Jones', I've supported and stood by Jason Garrett over the years. That support is dwindling though after each and every loss this season, at least on my part. Personally, I'm ready to find some new blood and move on. What the Jones' end up doing though is completely up in the air.
I want to believe the Dallas Cowboys are ready to move on from JG, but I'm not completely convinced. The fact that his current contract is about to expire after the season suggests they're at least considering parting ways, but that's all it does. I think how the rest of season turns out after the devastating loss to the Vikings will end up determining his fate.
If JG somehow sneaks the Cowboys into the playoffs it could save his job. That unfortunately is no easy thing to do with the teams they have left to play this season. Because of that, the Week 10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings could end up being the final nail in Jason Garrett's coffin.
What do you think? Is it time to part ways with Jason Garrett?
Lions QB Matthew Stafford’s Status Still Unknown for Cowboys Game
The Dallas Cowboys are headed to Detroit this Sunday for a Week 11 meeting with the Lions. As Dallas tries to get back to winning games, they may get a boost from the absence of Lions' Quarterback Matthew Stafford. After missing last week's game with a back injury, Stafford's status for this week remains unclear.
Stafford was a limited participant in practices all of Week 10 for Detroit and went into their game with the Chicago Bears as a game-time decision. He was ultimately ruled out due to fractures in his back; the first start Stafford's missed for the Lions since the 2010 season.
Jeff Driskel got the start as the Lions fell in Chicago. He is 1-5 as an NFL starter overall, going 1-4 in games for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018.
The Lions are now 3-5-1 on the year and at the bottom of the NFC North. They are also far behind in the Wild Card race, which leads to speculation that they could shut Stafford down for the season to preserve his long-term health. Based on Matthew's contract, the earliest Detroit can easily get out from his contract is after the 2020 season.
For his part, Matthew Stafford has said he has no plans on staying out this season as long he's medically cleared to play. He certainly would love to be active this Sunday against the Cowboys, the team of his youth, after playing his high school football in Dallas.
Even if Stafford plays, Dallas has done solidly overall against opposing quarterbacks in 2019. They are sixth in passing yards allowed per game and 14th in opponent passer rating.
Detroit is fourth in passing offense right now in the NFL but that was based on eight games with Stafford at QB. Jeff Driskel will not perform at that same level, and the Lions' rushing attack has been very weak since Kerryon Johnson went on injured reserve.
We'll see in the coming days if Matthew Stafford is at practice for Detroit and to what extent. But even if he does practice some, as he did last week, it could once again be a last-minute decision for the Lions if Stafford actually plays on Sunday.
With the Cowboys desperate for a win, they'll take all the help they can get.
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