Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Brice Butler has been a hot topic for discussion before, but knowing that All-Pro WR Dez Bryant would likely be out against the San Francisco 49ers, the spotlight was focused in Butler's direction once again.
Heading into the 2016 season, many people believed that #19 would give Terrance Williams a run for his money and possibly become the Cowboys new #2 wide receiver.
Unfortunately, that battle never really materialized, but that doesn't mean the book is closed for Butler becoming in another weapon for the Cowboys offense.
Stepping into the shoes of a wide receiver of Bryant's caliber is never an easy task to take on, but Butler finally showed why the Cowboys organization traded a fifth round draft pick to the Oakland Raiders to obtain his services last season.
If you're going by stats alone, then Butler's 5 receptions for 41 yards and 1 touchdown against the 49ers is nothing to get too excited about. But, if you throw in the fact that he probably should've had another TD if not for 49ers CB Rashard Robinson making a good play by knocking the ball out of his hands in the end zone, then Butler's stats would look a lot more impressive.
Butler has all the tools to be really good WR in the NFL, but for some reason hasn't really been able to put it all together when it's counted.
So, that bring us to the question of does Brice Butler deserve a bigger role on offense?
If we are all being completely honest with ourselves, then when examining everything it's difficult to see a scenario where Butler can have a bigger role for the Cowboys offense due to the players ahead of him on the depth chart.
When we break things down, Dez Bryant is without a doubt the #1 WR, like it or not Terrance Williams is the #2, and Cole Beasley is firmly cemented as the Cowboys slot receiver. That doesn't exactly bode well for Butler to receive a larger role on offense.
I know what you're probably thinking, because the thought has probably crossed my mind as well.
Why not let Butler take some of Williams' snaps?
Well, despite what we all may think, Terrance Williams does a lot of dirty work that the coaching staff for the Cowboys really appreciates. It doesn't show up on the stat sheets, but that doesn't make it any less important.
The dirty work that I'm referring to is Williams' blocking in the running game. I challenge you to watch some of the game film from previous games and pay close attention to how much #83 helps the running game by blocking down field.
It's an underrated aspect to Williams' game, but it is extremely important to why the Cowboys running game is so successful. Butler simply hasn't added that trait to his game yet.
That's not it. Butler's route running isn't as crisp as Williams' either. Butler has gotten better in this area since last year, but still has plenty of room for improvement.
I'm not trying to knock Butler down or anything like that, because I do believe he has the traits to be more of a #1 WR if he continues to develop.
Where Butler is better than Williams is catching the ball away from his body. Butler has a much larger catching radius and can go up and catch the ball at the highest point, much like we have seen Dez Bryant do so many times. Williams as we know is more of a body catcher.
If Brice Butler can continue on his current trajectory, then I could see a scenario where the coaching staff starts to give him more opportunities in the passing game, especially if Dez Bryant is unable to stay healthy.
All in all, there is no way of answering with any certainty if Brice Butler will see a bigger role on offense, but I for one wouldn't mind seeing him get the ball thrown his way a little more often.
To have capable wide receivers able to step up when needed is certainly not a bad problem to have for the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, we would rather it not be as an injury replacement for our top WR.
Do you think Brice Butler deserves a bigger role on offense?
Let me hear what you think of Brice Butler's offensive role in the comment section below.
Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?
February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.
DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.
Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.
After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.
There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?
Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.
For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.
In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys
What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?
First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.
It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.
It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.
Watch: Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Goes Bowling for First Time Since College Injury
Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Jaylon Smith did not just defy all odds and return to normalcy in 2017, starting as the Cowboys' middle linebacker for a full 16 games. He became one of the team's and NFL's brightest success stories, earning the right to celebrate everyday activities returning to his life - as football did this season.
This is exactly what Jaylon Smith did on Twitter Friday afternoon, posting a Snapchat video of himself bowling. The caption on Twitter adds that Smith was enjoying his time at the lanes for the first time in two years.
It was January 1st, 2016 when Jaylon Smith's injury in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame changed his outlook forever. In that moment, Smith went from a projected top ten pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to a LB that would need a team to take a chance on him - and be patient.
The Dallas Cowboys proved to be that team, using the 34th overall pick on the Notre Dame star and supporting his efforts to return to the field from day one. The entire Cowboys' organization was rewarded by Smith remarkably playing every game this season, inspired by his constant determination to do just that.
So, a normal offseason for Jaylon Smith is anything but right now. Still battling the drop foot condition (one that is reportedly healing well and "fading") which limits his movement ability in the lower body, Smith is a normal Dallas Cowboys football player from this point forward.
He can say he's already defined all odds, can expect to take an even bigger stride forward in 2018, and Jaylon Smith can go bowling again. You can't help but be happy for #54.
Dak Prescott’s Accuracy Stands Out in Final 2017 Stats
2017 was a season that left the Dallas Cowboys with a ton of questions to think about. Dez Bryant's contract, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith's availability, and the future of DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving are some of those questions.
But there's another more pressing question for the Cowboys. How can they get the most out of Quarterback Dak Prescott and avoid another struggling year for him?
Also, what if he has another rough year? At what point does quarterback become a position that needs to be evaluated if he continues to struggle?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that will be the case. In fact, I have a lot of faith in Dak. I think he's shown a lot to be excited about and I definitely believe there's a "quarterback curve" in the NFL. Hopefully, #4 finds a way to get back on track in 2018.
A reason to be optimistic about Prescott's future is an impressive stat from NFL Next Gen Stats. Turns out, Dak Prescott ranked first in the NFL in "tight window throws" completion percentage with 45.8%.
According to Matt Harmon from NFL.com, a "tight window throw" is defined as a pass in which the intended receiver has less than a yard of separation from the defender.
Dak Prescott is far from a perfect quarterback and he's constantly bashed about his throwing accuracy. Just recently, he took part in a passing competition with David Carr before the NFL Honors and well... it's fair to say Carr completely beat him.
David Carr 6, Dak Prescott 1 pic.twitter.com/rV532Q3Cob
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) 6 de febrero de 2018
Cowboys Twitter was anything but forgiving for the young quarterback, but at the end of the day, I'm not sure a casual passing competition at an event like that one is the way you judge an NFL starting quarterback who has a 22-10 record in his career.
Dak has a long way to go before being considered an excellent quarterback in the league, but a bad season like 2017 doesn't mean it's the end of his career and that the Dallas Cowboys should start Cooper Rush over him.
It's not the first quarterback who struggles one year and he won't be the last one to bounce back from one. As of right now, Dak Prescott rightfully is the Dallas Cowboys QB1. Hopefully he has a better year next season.
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