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Depth at this Position Leaves Dallas Cowboys with Defensive Weakness

John Williams

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Eagles

The Dallas Cowboys defense--as a unit--is easily the group that needs to play better for the team to win its first Super Bowl in 22 seasons. But on the defense there's a position of particular concern, which seems odd, considering that position has an All-Pro player on the depth chart; linebacker.

The Cowboys linebacker group looked pretty solid during the offseason. Sean Lee is one of the best linebackers in the league and arguably the best 4-3 outside linebacker.

Anthony Hitchens is a solid contributor who has now been starting for the Cowboys for a majority of his career. He still has a ways to go for the team to feel really confident about his ability to be a full-time player for Dallas.

Going into his third season, many saw Damien Wilson as a key factor for Dallas' defense in 2017. His recent arrest and possible suspension could derail potential progression for Wilson. Missing practice reps and not playing in games can only hurt your ability to improve. See DeMarcus Lawrence.

Let's also not forget maybe the most hyped player to never have played a snap: Jaylon Smith. He's all but been penciled in as a future Hall of Famer (somewhat kidding), yet we still don't know exactly what kind of contribution he will offer the team in 2017.

Kyle Wilber is a depth guy and special teams contributor. He may be able to play some snaps for you on defense, but the team has shown they'd prefer not to overexpose him.

Mark Nzeocha hasn't been healthy enough for the team to really see what they have in him.


The rest of the linebacker depth chart is made up of undrafted rookie free agents and camp bodies. As things stand now, it's pretty much Lee and a bunch of guys.

Cowboys Headlines - Are Any Of The Cowboys Defensive Players Irreplaceable? 2

Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Sean Lee #50 (AP Photo/TUSP, Jay Biggerstaff)

It's not completely dire though.

Since the base defense in the NFL has become the nickel defense, you really only need two linebackers for the majority of your defensive snaps. With the way that Dallas likes to use their safeties to cover tight ends or play down in the box, and sub-packages allow you to mask a weakness at linebacker even more so.

The concern for me is that the team has zero depth. We all hope Jaylon Smith is the stud linebacker that he was in college, but again, we have zero idea what he's going to look like.

If we see an injury to the linebacker group, there isn't much depth to feel really good about replacing the injured player.

That isn't to say that training camp can't answer these questions. What looks like a weakness now, could very well be a strength in week one if:

  1. Jaylon Smith is healthy and ready to go
  2. Damien Wilson gets a slap on the wrist instead of a suspension
  3. and Anthony Hitchens continues to improve.

We're still more than six weeks away from football games that count, and while the team has weaknesses, that's more than enough time for the Dallas Cowboys to shore them up.


Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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Urban Meyer Says He’d “Absolutely” Take Cowboys’ Head Coaching Job

Kevin Brady

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Urban Meyer Says He'd "Absolutely" Take Cowboys' Head Coaching Job

Typically, when a coach is asked about a potential future coaching job that is currently occupied, he'd never openly admit to eyeing that position. He'd dodge the question, lie, and say he's enjoying his time away from the game at the moment.

Former college coach Urban Meyer, however, was extremely clear in how he feels about the potential opening at head coach in Dallas with the Cowboys.

Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd asked Urban Meyer outright if he would take the job if offered, and Meyer made no mistake about it.

"Absolutely."

While it feels to me like Meyer is breaking some sort of unspoken code between coaches with these comments, it wouldn't be the first time he operated in shady waters.

But I digress.


Of course, Urban Meyer had incredible success at the collegiate level. He won multiple national championships and did a lot of winning at multiple programs. In addition, he was the college coach of Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott, who the team just extended with a monster contract. Meyer also won with quarterbacks who can utilize similar skill-sets to Cowboys starter Dak Prescott, something Jerry Jones and company would want to see in any potential head coaching candidate.

With all that being said, though, it's important to mention the Cowboys head coaching job is not open. At least not yet.

Jason Garrett's contract expires at the end of this season, and unless he can make sure that he continues coaching this team through January, it's seeming increasingly likely that this will be his final contract with the team.

Garrett's Cowboys face their biggest test of the season on Sunday night, with the Philadelphia Eagles coming to Arlington and looking to take first place from their grasps.

This will be the first step of many that Garrett will need to take if he wants to keep the Urban Meyers of the world from coming for his job.


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QB Dak Prescott Confident Cowboys Can Right The Ship Sunday

Kevin Brady

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Could Dak Per
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Dak Prescott is a warrior.

The Cowboys starting quarterback has spent his entire NFL career proving doubters wrong. From fourth round compensatory pick to Pro Bowl quarterback and the leader of America's Team, Prescott has come a long way in just four years. And he hasn't gotten here by giving up nor giving in.

This week, to put it lightly, Prescott's Cowboys are in a tough spot. Having lost three straight games the Cowboys have fallen back to earth quickly, and now sit tied for first place in their division with this week's opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles. They're also only a game up of the 2-4 New York Giants, who are favored at home against the Cardinals this very Sunday.

Dallas has to have this one at home. And despite the team's recent struggles, Dak Prescott remains confident that his bunch can get it done.

"We're right there," Prescott told the Dallas media Thursday, "We’re a good team that hasn’t been getting it done."

Prescott certainly isn't incorrect in his evaluation. He and this offense were flying high the first three weeks, and although they've taken a step back in recent games they still sit 2nd in offensive DVOA this season.


They have gotten off to slow starts in each of their last two losses, however, scoring just 9 points over their last 4 first half quarters. This first half output is unacceptable, but Prescott remains confident that the Cowboys are going to get things right on Sunday.

The biggest factor holding the Cowboys back? According to Prescott, it's themselves. Dak also told the media that the offense just needs to "get out of our own way," referring to the penalties, sacks, and general mistakes this team has made in seemingly every key moment during this losing streak.

Luckily for Dak Prescott, he should be getting some reinforcements to protect him from the Eagles fearsome front. Both La'el Collins and Tryon Smith have been active at practice this week, and even wide receiver Amari Cooper remains optimistic despite not practicing yet since his quad injury.

It feels like Cooper will likely be out on Sunday, but increasing their help across the offensive line will be a massive boost for this offense.

Still, in the end, it's the Cowboys defense which needs to step up and play better than they have on Sunday. Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense have been strong in recent weeks, and they are looking to take over first place in the NFC East in primetime.


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Cowboys en Español: El Verdadero Status de Jason Garrett

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Jason Garrett

Estamos aquí de nuevo. Con los Dallas Cowboys y un récord de 3-3 después de seis semanas y tres derrotas consecutivas, el Head Coach Jason Garrett es la conversación principal entre aficionados de los Cowboys. Tras iniciar con el pie derecho esta temporada, las cosas han tomado un giro muy desafortunado para el equipo.

Desde que se convirtió en el head coach del equipo en 2010 (cuando se volvió el head coach coach "interino"), los Cowboys de Jason Garrett tienen un récord de 80-62 (56.3%) en temporada regular y un triste desempeño de 2-3 en postemporada. Tiene un premio de Coach del Año en 2016. No hay manera de negarlo... Algunas cosas han sido buenas durante la era de Garrett.

Sin embargo, no ha sido lo suficiente. Los Dallas Cowboys siguen buscando su ansiado regreso al NFC Championship Game y por supuesto, al Super Bowl. Año tras año, el equipo "se ha quedado corto." De todas las estadísticas que pueden definir lo que ha sido Jason Garrett en Dallas, mi favorita es la siguiente: En la era de Garrett, los Cowboys no han estado en los playoffs en años consecutivos. Insisto, buenos, pero no lo suficiente.

Will, Should Jason Garrett be Coaching for His Job vs the Eagles?

Este 2019, los Cowboys están en riesgo de perderse los playoffs esta temporada. Este domingo pelearán por el liderato de la división contra los Philadelphia Eagles en lo que debe de ser uno de los duelos del año. Ambos equipos tienen talento y han decepcionado tras sus primeros seis partidos. Los dos tienen una oportunidad de remediar sus defectos. A pesar de que empezaron con una marca de 3-0, Cowboys se encuentra en modo de pánico rumbo a la semana 7.

Tras perder contra los New York Jets - quienes no habían probado la victoria antes de enfrentar a Cowboys  - la afición vaquera llegó a conclusiones a las que ya ha llegado anteriormente. "¡Jason Garrett se tiene que ir!" "Ahora si no terminará esta temporada en Dallas." Y más.

Pero, ¿en qué riesgo está realmente Jason Garrett? Los Cowboys han estado en situaciones similares antes, solo para mantener a Garrett a la cabeza del equipo. El año pasado, Dallas llegó a tener un récord de 3-5 antes de terminar la temporada con diez victorias y un pase a playoffs. Una y otra vez, la directiva ha confiado en Garrett.

Pero ahora la diferencia es fácil de identificar. Este año, los Cowboys tomaron una decisión a consciencia de no extender a su head coach. El simple hecho de estar bajo contrato de un año significa que está en el denominado "asiento caliente." No importa lo que los Jones digan en la radio. Las acciones dicen más. Si Jerry Jones dijera la verdad cuando dice que ni siquiera ha pensado en ello, Garrett tendría un contrato más amplio.


No hay que cuestionar la culpa que tiene Jason Garrett de la situación actual del equipo. La planeación de juego ha sido claramente un problema, con un plan ofensivo que cambió drásticamente tras las primeras tres semanas, renunciando a la agresividad y al play-action que tanto les había funcionado. El equipo una vez más ha demostrado no estar preparado para cada partido, iniciando lento en cada uno de ellos esta temporada. Y por supuesto, no han sido capaces de superar la ausencia de jugadores clave como Amari Cooper, Tyron Smith y La'el Collins. El coacheo ha sido incapaz de compensar la falta de estos jugadores.

De que hay un problema en la cabeza del equipo, la hay.

Is the Cowboys 2018 Season Circling the Drain? 1

Dallas Cowboys HC Jason Garrett (Matthew Emmons / USA TODAY Sports) 

Pero en caso de que Jason Garrett fuera a ser despedido, ¿cuándo llegaría la noticia? Sería una sorpresa que ocurriera como muchos lo han sugerido: a media temporada tras una derrota ante Eagles. Por supuesto que aún no sabemos quien se llevará la victoria este domingo por la noche, pero asumamos lo peor por un momento.

Si bien caer a un récord de 3-4 sería difícil de superar, los Cowboys aún tendrían esperanza. Si la tuvieron hace un año con tres victorias y cinco derrotas, también la tendrían esta temporada. Más aún si consideramos que sus jugadores terminarán por sanar y regresar a la alineación. En tal caso, el talento será mucho como para quedarse sin victorias.

Mientras los Cowboys tengan vida esta temporada, muy probablemente Jason Garrett continuará con el control. A pesar de las frustraciones de muchos respecto al head coach de Dallas, no veo al equipo renunciando a Garrett a media temporada. Menos aún considerando que no hay una opción para reemplazarlo en seguida.

Y finalmente, aún queda otra alternativa. ¿Qué si los Cowboys terminan jugando en enero? Al final de cuentas, no es nada descabellado. Este equipo podría darle la vuelta a su temporada rápidamente y llevarse la división, incluso si no ganan contra Philadelphia. Pero digamos que terminan en playoffs, ¿cuánto es suficiente para que Jason Garrett se gane el derecho de quedarse al mando? Sin duda alguna, su trabajo esta en riesgo. Pero contar con que lo perderá si los Cowboys caen en la semana 7 parece prematuro.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: El Verdadero Status de Jason Garrett" 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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