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What To Expect From Cowboys RB Alfred Morris

Sean Martin

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What To Expect From Cowboys RB Alfred Morris

It appears that we will finally get the answer to just how much Ezekiel Elliott means to the Dallas Cowboys, and just how great Dak Prescott can be, as the Cowboys are preparing for life without Elliott for the next six games. His suspension upheld in court again yesterday, Elliott will begin his ban on Sunday in Atlanta - opening the door for expected RB1 Alfred Morris.

While it will be a team effort in the backfield to replace the 2016 NFL rushing champion, Morris does expect to get the bulk of the workload over Rod Smith and Darren McFadden.

With 14 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown already on the season, Morris has been serviceable in his usual work spelling Elliott on occasional planned drives.

Alfred Morris Vs Rams (2) - Streamable

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This is not to say that Ezekiel Elliott won't be sorely missed, but realistic expectations for Morris should be high enough for the Dallas offense to continue putting up points as they've done so consistently through this amazing stretch of three consecutive wins.

There is a lot to love about this first Morris play I chose to include, the longest run of his six-year career. After watching all of his carries thus far on the season, the first thing that stands out above is the personnel the Cowboys utilize. Not forcing Morris to move laterally and wait for a hole to open up with extra blockers in the game, the Cowboys pull two blockers to the play side and allow Morris to easily see the crease up the hash.

The lack of ability to change directions quickly and make explosive cuts stood out on Alfred Morris' tape, but on this play he is able to smoothly evade the safety with a cutback just before finding the second gear to accelerate and bust the play.

This straight line speed and ability to push up the field decisively is the best sign of hope for Cowboys Nation relying on Alfred Morris to keep this offense and this football team on track.

Ezekiel Elliott was averaging 4.3 yards per carry on first down runs, a significant number that has kept Dak Prescott ahead of the chains. As we look at more of Alfred Morris' tape, there should be little doubt that this number will not drop off substantially.

Alfred Morris Vs Giants - Streamable

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Even plays like this, where Elliott likely has the vision and speed to bounce outside to the right and score, are positives for Morris on the ground. Showing off the power he still has in his legs, Morris searches for space between Travis Frederick and Jason Witten on the second level to move the pile for a gain of four. It was Geoff Swaim getting ridden back towards the mesh point that likely forced the slower Morris to hesitate as he was just breaking the line, but safe plays like these will always give Dallas a chance over the upcoming six weeks.

Alfred Morris Vs Chiefs - Streamable

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All of the traits from Alfred Morris that we've discussed so far are on display with this carry against the Chiefs last week. Reading the block of Zack Martin quickly and correctly, Morris finds a seam to attack and does show with impressive finish - carrying defenders for needed extra yards.

A steady dose of this from Alfred Morris paired with splashes from Darren McFadden and Rod Smith, along with some creativity in both the running and passing game by Scott Linehan, and the Cowboys may not miss a beat without the best running back in the NFL.

Alfred Morris Vs Rams - Streamable

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

Ezekiel Elliott has made the absolute most of the offensive line Dallas put in place prior to drafting him fourth overall and throwing the loftiest of expectations on the Ohio State star. It is why plays like this next one above are not as exciting, since we can all envision Elliott sprinting through the hole, making the first man miss, and charging towards the end zone.

So long as Morris and the Cowboys remain in the hunt, a return to the field will come for the well-rested Ezekiel Elliott prior to the playoffs as they host the Seahawks and travel to the Eagles to end the regular season.

Plays like the one above against the Rams will do just that, as Morris bounces off of tackles working his way through a stout Rams defensive front.

Alfred Morris Vs Packers - Streamable

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

The player to be the most excited about for the Cowboys' Zeke-less offense is QB Dak Prescott. He will be the one running the show as always, making clutch plays when needed and orchestrating this team's balanced offensive approach.

Not much that Alfred Morris does will be sexy, but his tape on the season suggests that it will be enough to keep the Cowboys competitive and capable of running the football at defenses that must respect what the veteran power back brings.

There are simply too many good things happening with this Dallas Cowboys team right now to pack up the 2017 campaign because of this Ezekiel Elliott news. Fortunately, it appears that Alfred Morris has no intentions but to add his name to this list of players making a positive impact in the silver and blue.

Tell us what you think about "What To Expect From Cowboys RB Alfred Morris" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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1 Comment
  • Russ_Te

    Not sure if the game plans now will put more of the offensive load on Dak, but I do think that can be sold to defenses.

    As in, open in spread sets 4 / 1. Defenses will definitely play pass and the Dallas OL will only have to deal with 5 or maybe 6 in the box. That should crack open 1st downs and give Morris the seams he needs to start the game fast.

    There was speculation in preseason about seeing these sets a lot more, then it didn’t really happen. But this might be the time to use it as a changeup, then get back into more TE and power sets as the game wears on.

    I think they can take their choice to either run less or not for these 6 games, and either can play out fine. I expect McFadden is the 3rd down RB, and he probably wants out of Dallas rather than sit deactivated with Elliott and Morris in front of him. So there might be some angst let loose when he gets on the field, in the form of a motivated RB with fresh legs.

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" 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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Star Blog

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.



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Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin

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Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?



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