2014 was such an important year for the Dallas Cowboys. It was the foundation season for Jason Garrett's process showing overwhelming results, as the Cowboys ran all over the league - literally - on their way to a NFC East title, Wild Card playoff win, and eventual elimination at the hands of
Dean Blandino the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Playoffs.
This process has stood tall through the departure of the running back that was the engine for the 2014 Cowboys, DeMarco Murray, who benefited the most the mass of assets Dallas placed in their world-beating offensive line.
While the Cowboys' 2015 campaign was far from one to be proud of, the 4-12 debacle that it was did allow the team to do even more at the running back position - using their fourth overall pick on Ezekiel Elliott.
With Elliott, the Cowboys had a resurgence like none other (setting a franchise record for the biggest turnaround in wins), while Murray equally resurrected his career with the Tennessee Titans. It's safe to say that both backs have found ideal situations at different stages in their careers, and looking back at how the cards fell for the Cowboys to eventually transition from Murray - still America's Team's record holder for single season rushing yards - to Elliott.
Both preparing to carry the rock for the NFC Pro Bowl team, DeMarco Murray had this to say about his rushing record of 1,845 yards in 2014 being broken in the future by Zeke Elliott:
"He'll get it someday. That ain't gonna last too long."
Elliott put up 1,631 yards in his first season with the Cowboys, just 214 yards shy of Murray's record. In a week 16 win against the Lions, Elliott saw just 12 carries, roughly nine fewer than his rounded average of 21 per game. Despite this limited workload, as the Cowboys had already clinched everything possible for the NFC Playoffs, Elliott made the most of these 12 carries to gash the Lions for 80 yards - or a whopping 6.7 yards per carry!
This means that solely on projections, Elliott was on pace for 144 yards in his final regular season home game of 2016. While this becomes somewhat of an irrelevant point considering the fact that Ezekiel Elliott came out in a hoodie for the glorified preseason game that was week 17 in Philadelphia, he would have needed just 70 yards using this projection to break DeMarco Murray's record.
"As running backs we're supposed to run the ball but I'm really impressed with his catching ability and blocking. Those are two things for me, where I got a lot of respect for him."
All in just his first season running and catching the ball for America's Team, the sky is truly the limit for Elliott, who not only expects to rewrite his name over DeMarco Murray's in the Dallas Cowboys' record books - but do so sometime soon, and then continue to show the NFL just how dominant he can become.
Ezekiel Elliott was told DeMarco Murray said he'll eventually break Murray's 1,845 single-season Cowboys record. Zeke: "That's the plan.
DT Leonard Williams May be Available, Should the Cowboys Explore a Trade?
Per a report by Rich Cimini of ESPN, the New York Jets may be exploring a trade for their star defensive lineman Leonard Williams. With Williams set to hit free agency in 2020, the theory is the Jets may not be interested in locking up Williams long-term after just drafting Quinnen Williams with their top five selection in 2019.
Here's what Cimini had to say in his report:
"There's already talk in league circles that Gase could be looking to move on from Williams, who will be a free agent after the season. He's due to make a guaranteed $14.2 million in the final year of his contract. Gase hasn't said anything about Williams that would spark speculation, but it's not hard to connect the dots when examining the defensive line situation."
Rich Cimini - ESPN.com
Williams has been a really good player for the New York Jets who has played 3-4 defensive end and some defensive tackle for the Jets in his four-year career. A former sixth overall pick has had as many as seven sacks and as few as two sacks a season, but he's played in all 64 games in his career, starting 63. He's stayed healthy and been productive on a Jets defense that hasn't been very good over the last few years.
For the Cowboys defense, he would project as a 3-technique with the ability to be the Cowboys 1-technique in passing situations. Among interior defensive lineman, Leonard Williams finished 21st in run stops per Pro Football Focus and sixth in total pressures with 53. Williams was third among interior players in QB hits with 16 ahead of Kansas City Chiefs Defensive Lineman Chris Jones and Seattle Seahawks Defensive Tackle Jarran Reed. For reference, DeMarcus Lawrence had 63 total pressures and 11 QB hits in 2018, while Tyrone Crawford had only 37 total pressures.
The Dallas Cowboys have been working to reinforce their defensive line this offseason after struggling in the playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams when the Cowboys gave up over 200 yards rushing. Though they like Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins, they obviously weren't satisfied with the going into 2019 with just those two in the Dallas interior.
In free agency, the Cowboys added Christian Covington and Kerry Hyder and then drafted Trysten Hill with their second-round pick. They also added Daniel Wise, a player that was seen as a fourth or fifth rounder in most people's minds as an undrafted free agent and will compete for a roster spot.
As intriguing as Covington, Hyder, Hill, and Wise are in addition to Maliek Collins and Woods, Williams would be an immediate upgrade at 3-tech and the Dallas Cowboys should explore it, even if they don't plan on resigning him beyond 2019.
The Cowboys could swap expiring contracts by sending Maliek Collins to New York and a draft pick. Collins is unlikely to be resigned by the team in the 2020 offseason as they have plans for Hill as their 3-tech of the future.
The Dallas Cowboys showed with the trade for Robert Quinn that they're alright going after the one-year rental player. Leonard Williams would make their defense better for 2019 and while they have high hopes for Trysten Hill, Williams is a known asset right now and wouldn't prevent you from giving Hill snaps at 3-tech.
For a team hoping to make a Super Bowl run, adding a player like Leonard Williams makes a lot of sense. He's another disruptive player that would immediately improve your pass rush and also helps your run defense. The Dallas Cowboys have a team ready to win now, so now's the time to go get players that help you do so.
Cowboys RB Mike Weber’s Injury Scare Continues Concerning Trend
Rookie RB Mike Weber had a brief scare earlier this week with a knee injury in practice, but thankfully the MRI came back with a good report. However, as he fights to have a future with the Dallas Cowboys, this health incident is a concerning reminder of Weber's recent history.
One reason that Weber fell to the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft was due to battling injuries during his last two years at Ohio State. He lost his starting job in 2017 due to ongoing hamstring issues and also had to miss time last year because of a foot strain.
Carrying the load for the Buckeyes is a far different workload than being second or third on the Cowboys' RB depth chart. But this latest scare happened in early May, just two weeks after Mike joined the team and well before the more strenuous activities of an NFL offseason.
A practice injury can cost you just as badly as one that happens in a game. And with Dallas already thin at RB, it could leave them severely shorthanded if it occurs during the regular season.
Many have projected that the Cowboys' RB group in 2019 would have Ezekiel Elliott as the obvious starter and then rookies Weber and Tony Pollard behind him. While Pollard was drafted three rounds ahead of Weber, he's not built to take a large number of carries if Zeke were to go out.
If Mike Weber does make the team, he would be expected to take a sizable role if something bad happen with Elliott.
The "injury prone" label is disastrous for any athlete, but especially a guy with no real claim to a roster spot. If Weber causes concern in the front office about his durability, they may go a different way at final cuts.
Remember, Mike's not just up against Pollard and Darius Jackson for a roster spot. There are still plenty of veteran free agent running backs out there that Dallas could turn to if they're not confident about their young prospects.
This isn't too say that one scary moment in May, which ultimately didn't amount to much, is reason to cut bait with Mike Weber. But when you stack it up with his injury history in college, it does make you wonder how he'll do over the course of an entire NFL season.
Hopefully, Weber bounces back from this and has a great summer. Former Buckeye RBs have treated Dallas well the last few years, and it'd be fantastic if Mike can provide the same solid solid depth that Rod Smith did.
But this latest news is just a reminder of why Dallas can't rest easy at running back just yet, and why they may still have another move to make to prepare for 2019.
Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Graduating From Notre Dame
The 2019 season is right around the corner for the Dallas Cowboys, with OTA's and training camp getting ready to kickoff in the coming weeks/months.
Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith made the most of his offseason, going back to Notre Dame to finish out his college degree. Smith is set to graduate from Notre Dame this Saturday, and will walk to earn his degree in Film & Television.
Smith talked to DallasCowboys.com's David Helman about why it was so important for him to graduate and finish what he started at Notre Dame.
“When I left after my junior year, I promised my mom that I would go back and finish...Finishing my third year with the Cowboys, it was time.” - Jaylon Smith
2,025 @NotreDame undergraduates will receive degrees during Commencement Weekend. That contingent includes @thejaylonsmith Yes, the current @dallascowboys & former @NDFootball All-American linebacker, who took 21 credits this spring #4for40 #GraduatingChampions #CEV
Smith continues his leadership on and off the field, and we all send our congratulations to the Cowboys starting MIKE linebacker!
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
5 Dallas Cowboys Players Who Could Become Trade Assets
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
Cowboys Draft: Reviewing Kansas DT Daniel Wise
Player News5 days ago
Leighton Vander Esch Graded Best Rookie Linebacker Since 2014
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
3 Reasons Why LB Leighton Vander Esch Will be Even Better in 2019
Player News2 weeks ago
RB Rod Smith Signs with Giants; Brother Jaylon Sends Farewell Message
Star Blog6 days ago
QB Dak Prescott Already Impressing New Offensive Coaches
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Way-too-early 2019 Dallas Cowboys 53-man Roster Projection
Player News2 weeks ago
Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys All-In on Dak Prescott