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Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Preview: Part Two

The defense may be a little meaner and the offense a little more disciplined. The turnovers have to stop, and Romo can’t throw his customary one interception a game just to get it out of his system.

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In part one of this two-part series, I discussed how the departure of Greg Ellis, Terrell Owens, and Zach Thomas will affect the team going forward.

There are a ton of questions facing the Cowboys, as with any offseason, but this seems to be a make-or-break year for a team that is expected to make a Super Bowl run every season.

Part two of the series discusses how the Cowboys will fare in the "NFC Beast" this season, and addresses those pesky rumors about Garrett and Bum Phillips’ son.


With the departure of Plaxico in New York, the Eagles spurning Dawkins and allowing him to walk to Denver, and an owner in Washington who has no confidence in his quarterback, how will the Cowboys fare in the NFC East?

For the first time in a long time, the Cowboys seem to be one of the most stable teams in NFC East. Terrell is gone and the focus has shifted to Romo, but the circus atmosphere that surrounded the ‘Boys the past few years isn’t as prevalent this season.

The New York Giants running attack will be strong, but not as potent without Derrick Ward. Sack machine Osi Umenyiora will be back from a knee injury, but the offense will be without its lightning rod, Plaxico Burress.

While I believe that the Giants will having a winning record and make a run at the playoffs, I don’t see another improbable Super Bowl run like a couple years ago.

Heading south to D.C., the Redskins have a huge question mark at quarterback. I’m not questioning the skills of former Auburn man Jason Campbell, but his owner seems to have lost all confidence in the kid.

Campbell was left out to dry when the team unsuccessfully tried to trade for quarterback Jay Cutler and then attempted to draft former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez.

The team may not have much faith in Jason, but from all accounts, he still thinks that he can get the job done.

Washington’s only hope at the playoffs this year may be the mental stability of its “star” quarterback. If Campbell can hold steady and Clinton Portis remains healthy, an 8-8 season isn’t that far out of reach.

Over in "Illadelphia," Donovan McNabb has a new contract, Brian Dawkins is now a Bronco, and blitzing defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is out indefinitely due to a battle with cancer.

As much as I disdain the Eagles, the team seems to be poised for another playoff run as their skill position players are still in place.

The battle for 1-2-3 in the NFC East will be between the Giants, Cowboys, and Eagles. The Cowboys ran away with the division in 2007, and they have the chance to do so again this year.

The ‘Boys have a dastardly tough schedule to end the year with road games against the Giants, Redskins, and Saints. Like last season, the team will face off against the Eagles in the last game of the year, but this time it will be in Texas.

History will be the judge of the future in this case, and I can’t defer from where the ‘Boys have finished the last few years. Their schedule in December is daunting, and the team hasn’t had a winning record during that part of year in over a decade.

Look for the Cowboys to finish second in the NFC East to the Giants or Eagles, but make a serious playoff run in January.


Will this be Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett’s last season in Dallas?

Wade Phillips is entering his third season as head coach in Dallas, and I’m not sure if Jerry will continue to make excuses for Phillips.

As many were calling for Wade’s dismissal after last season’s debacle, Jerry stood by his head coach. Instead of feeding him to the wolves, Jerry decided to give Bum’s son another shot.

If Tony Romo has taken the reigns of the team, the same must be said for Wade Phillips. After last season’s shootout against the Eagles early in the year, which ended with the cowboys winning 41-37, Phillips defended his defense by saying the Eagles were just receiving good breaks and capitalizing off of a few turnovers.

That type of explanation will not fly this season. Wade either has to lead this team deep in the playoffs or to a Super Bowl birth in order to keep his job. His defense has to stand up in the latter months of the season against teams like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

A few years ago, when Jerry brought back former back-up quarterback Jason Garrett to serve as offensive coordinator, it seemed a match made in Heaven as Romo flourished under Garrett’s tutelage.

Last season, though, Romo floundered a little under Garrett’s system and seemed to criticize Jason’s play calling.

Garrett probably has a longer leash than Phillips, simply because he isn’t the head coach.

Heading into training camp, Phillips may have a little sense of urgency because the Cowboys haven’t won a playoff game this decade.

The defense may be a little meaner and the offense a little more disciplined. The turnovers have to stop, and Romo can’t throw his customary one interception a game just to get it out of his system.

If Phillips and Garrett are to remain in Valley Ranch, they both must turn the Cowboys into a more streamlined outfit.

The Dallas Cowboys have one of the most talent-filled rosters in the league. Of course T.O. is gone, and so is Greg Ellis, but the team is still poised to make a serious run at the Super Bowl.

I predicted that the Cowboys will finish second in their division this season, but that could bode well for them. Flying under the radar isn’t something they're accustomed to doing, and this season just may be the one where they do so.

Overall, I think the team will finish 11-5 with losses against the Giants and Eagles in the division. But, we have to get past training camp to enter into a total season preview.

-JH


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1 Comment
  • Joe C

    Mannnnnn with pre-season literally a throw away im stupidly stoked, ill be headed to the new COWBOYS STADIUM this year for the skins vs cowboys, all the way from VA… watchh outt.

    R.I.P. Jim Johnson btw, that’s gotta be a low blow for the Eagles too.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys DE Dorance Armstrong Could Be Needed Quickly

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys DE Dorance Armstrong Could Be Needed Quickly

The Dallas Cowboys are stronger at defensive end than they've been in some time, but they still lack a specific type of pass rusher. Rookie Dorance Armstrong may be able to fill that role, giving him an early opportunity to contribute that many mid-round rookies can't find.

While DeMarcus Lawrence has become a beast and Taco Charlton is expected to do more as a second-year player, they are both better suited to play on the left side. It is that right side DE, the athletic type who can take on NFL left tackle, that the Cowboys haven't had since DeMarcus Ware left.

It was supposed to be Randy Gregory, but we all know the issues he's dealt with the last three years. His reinstatement request to the league is expected to go through, but even then we can't be sure the type of player he will be.

If Gregory isn't still the talent that Dallas hoped for in 2015, the next man up just might be Armstrong. He is a raw talent, still undersized for consistent NFL defensive end work, but he has the natural agility and style of play that best suits the weak-side rusher.

Sean's Scout: Defensive End Dorance Armstrong Has Upside to Fill Marinelli's Rotation

Dallas Cowboys DE Dorance Armstrong

Veteran Kony Ealy is more like Lawrence and Charlton, bigger and more suited from the strong side. Another option, Charles Tapper, has yet to prove he can get through a single game without injury.

Rookies have not had a hard time finding early work in Dallas lately.

Obviously, it didn't take Quarterback Dak Prescott long to make an immediate impact. We've also seen the same from Cornerbacks Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown, Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins, and Safety Xavier Woods.

With the difficulties that guys like Gregory and Tapper may have getting back into football shape, Armstrong could have a leg up in training camp. The Cowboys won't hesitate to give him the work if he's the best man for the job, regardless of draft status or tenure.

These new look, new era Dallas Cowboys are all about meritocracy, so Dorance Armstrong could rise quickly if he performs. It would make for a nice immediate return on a fourth-round pick.


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Dallas Cowboys

CB Jourdan Lewis Addresses “All Or Nothing” Scene With Dez Bryant

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Rookie CB Jourdan Lewis Announces Signing With Dallas 1
Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

When the newest season of Amazon's All or Nothing featuring the Dallas Cowboys came out, people immediately were drawn to one scene in particular.

That scene featured then veteran Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant and rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis, as they battled it out all day in practice. Lewis and Bryant were in each others ears, as Lewis wanted to make it known to Bryant that he isn't the same type of corner he's used to seeing in practice.

Jourdan Lewis was asked to give his side of the story recently, and DallasCowboys.com recorded his response. The following video is courtesy of "Ed It Channel" on YouTube.

Streamable - free video publishing

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Lewis addressed rumors that the rivalry was "fake" or staged due to the fact that Bryant knew that Lewis was mic'ed up. He says that the competition was organic, and that when put on the field with each other their competition improved both of their play.

Dez Bryant is gone now, but hopefully the Cowboys will be able to replace that competitiveness on the practice field and allow for tempers to flare from time to time.


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Player News

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott Embraces Lack of No. 1 Wide Receiver

Sean Martin

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Cowboys QB Dak Prescott Embraces Lack of No. 1 Wide Receiver

As I wrote exactly a week ago, in discussion of maligned Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Terrance Williams:

"...this won't be the first look we have at the status of the Cowboys receivers. I'm already on record having high expectations for Michael Gallup, and believe Cedrick Wilson was one of the steals of the draft for the Cowboys in the sixth round. The unproven nature of this pass catching unit (through to TE with rookie Dalton Schultz) is going to make for fascinating training camp battles, competing for spots in an offense that could still be one of the league's best".

Here we are again, with an emerging leadership voice of the Cowboys speaking about his wide receivers. Dak Prescott told Pro Football Talk that he, "doesn't know if any team in the league necessarily needs a No. 1 receiver".

This is a bold statement from a third-year quarterback that's already told Cowboys Nation this offseason that he wants to be the best to ever play for the franchise. Beginning the journey towards becoming a Cowboys legend must start with Prescott securing his status as the Cowboys franchise QB in 2018 - by throwing to Williams, Michael Gallup, Cole Beasley, Cedrick Wilson, and Allen Hurns.

This will be no easy task for Prescott, but the Cowboys have never wavered in their commitment to building this team around him. Left with no choice on personnel decisions like Jason Witten's retirement, the Cowboys are well-prepared to also deal with the loss of Dez Bryant.

If they weren't, Bryant would still be in Dallas, and as it stands now he remains a free agent. New to the Cowboys offense is not only Gallup, Wilson, and Hurns but also Tavon Austin as a pass-catching running back.

Strength in numbers must be the message for the Cowboys offense this season. Relying heavily on Ezekiel Elliott and a punishing offensive line will be what keeps opposing defensive coordinators up at night, but so too must be the diverse nature of how the Cowboys can line up on the outside.

Allowing Prescott to serve as a "point guard" like QB could lead to the Cowboys turning plenty of heads with their all-around play in 2018. Anybody writing them off simply because of unproven wide receivers lacks a complete understanding of the roster and how Scott Linehan plans to change his offense.

Sure, it's possible that Linehan fails to prove himself as a play caller worthy of the talent the Cowboys possess on offense - but the talent is there. In Prescott's rookie year, Cole Beasley emerged as his go-to receiver, only to regress in 2017.

With the Cowboys shipping Ryan Switzer to Oakland during the draft, Beasley has a clear path back towards developing this chemistry with Prescott out of the slot. The same should go for Allen Hurns, despite arriving in Dallas as a free agent this year.

Hurns has talked about holding himself to a high standard, despite joining the Cowboys to play with Dez Bryant initially.

"I felt it was a big opportunity to come to Dallas to play with Dez. But with him not being here, it’s a bigger opportunity. It's a matter of me making the most of the opportunity"

Plenty of Cowboys receivers will have a chance to make the most of the opportunity to play in this offense. Hurns' spot as an outside starter feels safe, as he could be the big "No. 1" target Prescott needs to either find in the red zone or distribute the ball elsewhere.

The amount of change the Dallas Cowboys have gone through since drafting Dak Prescott is a cruel reminder of how difficult reaching the pinnacle of sports can be. The Cowboys biggest challenge to reach the playoffs again in 2018?

Silence the doubt that a declining Dez Bryant no longer being with the team will derail the efforts of this deep and eager-to-compete WRs room.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys QB Dak Prescott Embraces Lack of No. 1 Wide Receiver" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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