Connect with us

Star Blog

Despite 2017, the Dallas Cowboys are Contenders in 2018

John Williams

Published

on

Cowboys Planning

No, the 2017 season didn't go as planned for the Dallas Cowboys. In fact, it finished with a bit of a whimper. The injuries, suspensions, drop off by your WR1 and starting QB, the lack of creativity by the coaching staff, and the lack of execution by the players left many fans -- me included -- frustrated at the culmination of it all.

The fact remains, though, that they were a 9-7 team despite the problems. 9-7!!!

Dallas Cowboys Have Big Hole on Offensive Line

Dallas Cowboys LT Tyron Smith, RT La'el Collins, C Travis Frederick, RG Zack Martin (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

If you interact much with the Cowboys fan base in forums, comment sections, Twitter or Facebook, you'd think that this was a repeat of the disastrous 2015 4-12 season. While it has flaws, this team is still much closer to a contender than it is to being a cellar dweller like the Cleveland Browns.

Remember, we still have a quarterback who will be entering just his third year in the NFL in Dak Prescott. If the first two seasons are any indication, he will continue to grow and show improvement.

Dak Prescott, to me, is more the dude we saw in 2016 and the first-half of 2017 than the guy we saw in the last half of 2017. He got annihilated in the Falcons game and didn't trust his protection after that. An offseason to refresh and a healthy Tyron Smith will have him moving the chains with the efficiency we became accustomed to in 2016.

The running game is still in its prime with an offensive line anchored by Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Tyron Smith. La'el Collins will have a second full offseason to work at tackle after a solid first year at the position. Tyron Smith will be healthier, though back issues tend to linger. Rest is his biggest ally right now, and by missing the playoffs, he's getting more of it. The other day Tyron claimed to be in the best shape he's been in a long time.

Ezekiel Elliott should be fairly fresh given his league mandated, midseason six-game vacation. Having upward of 80 fewer carries on his ledger is no small thing for a workhorse running back. With another offseason under his belt, it should only prepare him to be a better runner and player as he enters his third season in the NFL.

Dez Bryant still has game changing ability, though some drops, injuries, emotional outbursts, and mental lapses are what everyone remembers. He'll need to be better in 2018, but I think his 2017 is an outlier. Right now, I stand about 99% certain that Dez will be back.

Where Will Dallas Cowboys Search For "Fresh Ideas" Begin? 3

Dallas Cowboys CBs Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, S Xavier Woods (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

The unit that has me the most excited for 2018, however, is the defense, especially the secondary.

Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods were all rookie revelations in their first year in the NFL. Now, they're being coached by the guy who helped lead the Seattle Seahawks into the "Legion of Boom" era, Kris Richard. With a lot to work with already, Richard should be able to take their games to another level.

In addition to those guys, Byron Jones, who is a lot better than many want to admit, is moving to what could be his best position, cornerback. Many, including myself, are excited to see what Byron could do as a boundary corner with his athleticism, length, and sticky-coverage ability.

Kavon Frazier found himself a role in the last half of the season, and the defensive backfield is beginning to take shape. Let us not forget the GOAT, Jeff Heath. He isn't the best safety in the world, but he will make some plays for you.

The secondary is full of ascending players and solid depth. Can't wait to see them take the field.

DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving will be retained and continue to be the monstrous pressure producing, quarterback sacking, line of scrimmage disruptingDuo of Destruction. They torment quarterbacks and ball carriers, and make life a lot easier for Maliek Collins, Tyrone Crawford, Taco Charlton, and whoever else gets snaps on the defensive line.

With another year of growth for the secondary, this group of defensive linemen will get many more opportunities to put quarterbacks on their backsides.

Speaking of Taco, he was a much more productive player in the second half of the season than he was the first half.

As you can see here, most of Taco's production happened week eight and later in his rookie season. I expect that progression to continue.

Jaylon Smith is another year removed from his knee injury and was making a lot of progress in getting his mind, body, and spirit back into the football swing of things. 2018 should be just another year of progress. He still has a long way to go, but the further he gets from his injury, and another offseason to prepare for a full NFL Season, the better he'll be.

They've made some nice additions so far in free agency, as I discussed the other day in my Pre-NFL Draft Offseason Review.

It seems with each draft they get a bit closer to completing their identity as the smash-mouth, run the football and play defense kind of team that they've been trying to become.

The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, scouting department, and front office have really found their stride when it comes to the draft. At this point, anything less than three or four day-one contributors seems like a draft failure.

With a lot of options at 19 to fit the bill, whether it be a guard in Isaiah Wynn, James Daniels or Will Hernandez, or an EDGE player like Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport, the Cowboys will be able to improve their football team with good football players.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Despite the way 2017 ended, this team is a lot closer to contending for a Super Bowl than you might think. Who thought that the Philadelphia Eagles would be contenders after the 2016 season? Not many.

I'm not ready to make a prediction just yet, that will come later, but I do believe the Dallas Cowboys will contend for the playoffs once again in 2018.



Dallas Cowboys optimist brining 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.

Advertisement
5 Comments
  • Chuck Wright

    Well done article. No question Da Boys are serious play off contenders in 2018. Of course as pointed out, keys are things like keeping key players healthy (especially Smith) but have FAR more confidence in Fleming as a back up than Green/Bell.

    Really like the 2 new WRs, they both bring things that are lacking. Both DE’s are effectively in “contract years” so we’ll see their best.

    And really excited about the 2018 draft, especially if we add a 1 Tech (think there is 1 available every round through 4) but as it builds for 2019-21.

    Dallas has an excellent young team.

    • John Williams

      Hey Chuck, Thanks for the feedback.

      I agree that health is a key for this team in 2018, as it is for a lot of teams. You’re right that Flemming provides a bit more solid footing if something were to happen to Tyron or Collins at Tackle.

      I think we see a long term deal for Lawrence and possibly Irving as well.

  • Edward Teo

    I’m worried about that Oline and whether Dak can trust them again. Really feel like that will make or break him as a QB.

    • John Williams

      That’s what the offseason is good for. A chance for everyone to reset.

  • Chuck Wright

    Sorry to put this here but the system is not allowing me to comment on your Salary Cap article. Excellent work and summation of an often convoluted issue.

    The one comment I will make is to your 16 players in 2020 comment, this is why I see it is so important for the Cowboys to load up on young talent in teh 2018 and 2019 drafts. That 16 needs to go to about 30-35 and Dallas has the chance to be a talented and young team entering teh 20’s.

    Again, thanks for the read.

Star Blog

Starters Make Cowboys Serious Contenders, But Depth is a Concern

Mauricio Rodriguez

Published

on

Cowboys Defense Better Or Worse Then Last Season?

Playing in the National Football Conference, the Dallas Cowboys have a difficult task ahead of them if they are to be serious Super Bowl contenders. Even still, they've become a very underrated football team due to their 9-7 record last season. The Cowboys struggled in many areas and with the Philadelphia Eagles crowned as Super Bowl Champions, everyone has forgotten about America's Team.

2017 was an awful year for the Cowboys. It seemed like a roller coaster of success, putting up an impressive performance one week only to disappoint the next one. Let's be honest with ourselves here and talk about what really ended the Cowboys' last season.

Injuries.

As much as we talk about how there shouldn't be any excuses in football - the Eagles made a huge statement by winning it all with a backup QB and other key starters missing - we can't deny the impact of these injuries.

Anthony Hitchens, Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott all missed some time last year, affecting the team's performance week in and week out. Had the starters been healthy, the truth is this team would've been in the playoffs.

Heading into 2018, the Cowboys will face a very similar situation. This year, starters make Dallas a serious contender. Even if they're playing in a conference that will feature a lot of quality teams, the Cowboys are a team that could beat any team in the league if healthy.

Even the dreaded wide receiver position - which has been famous this offseason for the lack of a #1 receiver - won't be as bad as we make it out to be starter-wise. A starting trio of Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Cole Beasley doesn't really sound bad.

Heck, not even Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods starting at safety is concerning. They have what it takes to be decent starters. Sure, Heath isn't a guy who will make the Pro Bowl, but his skills will show on the field once the season starts in September.

The Cowboys' starters will do just fine this season. If the team's fate is up to them, they are in a very good spot. The same can not be said about depth, though.

Except for the defensive line, every other position lacks depth. If Sean Lee goes down, the linebackers stop looking like a three-headed monster. Same goes for the cornerbacks. Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis seem like a good group but as soon as one of them suffers an injury, the Cowboys will be in trouble.

We're in for an exciting season with a lot of young talent waiting to breakout. The Cowboys are underrated this year. They may not be among the NFC's favorites, but they truly have what it takes to replicate the success they had in 2016. However, it seems like circumstances have to be ideal for them to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy.

With a little bit of luck, they'll bounce back this season.

Tell me what you think about "Starters Make Cowboys Serious Contenders, But Depth is a Concern" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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!



Continue Reading

Star Blog

The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up

Brian Martin

Published

on

Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle Heating Up 1

Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.

The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.

As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.

Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.

Terrance Williams

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.

Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.

Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.

I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.

All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.

How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?



Continue Reading

Star Blog

Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?

Brian Martin

Published

on

Decision not to Play Dan Bailey against the 49ers a Concern? 1

With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.

Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.

I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.

I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?

Dan Bailey

Dallas Cowboys K Dan Bailey

Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.

Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.

Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.

Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.

Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?



Continue Reading



Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending