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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

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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

Will Terrance Williams’ Run Of Bad Luck Continue?

Brian Martin

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If Suspended, Will Cowboys Cut Ties With Terrance Williams?

To say that Terrance Williams has had a run of bad luck recently would be an understatement. First he breaks his foot, which kept him out of all of the offseason practices so far. Then, he ends up getting arrested on an intoxication charge, a Class C misdemeanor, on May 19 after crashing his Lamborghini into a light pole. Unfortunately for him, his bad luck could continue with training camp approaching because he could be looking at a demotion.

As things stand right now, I have a hard time seeing Williams being any more than the fourth wide receiver on the Dallas Cowboys depth chart. I have him behind Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, and rookie Michael Gallup (in that order) right now, possibly falling even further. For now, I'll pencil him in at WR4 though.

I believe a lot of Dallas Cowboys fans wouldn't be too terribly upset if we don't see a lot of Terrance Williams in 2018. Fans have been unhappy with Williams for quite some time and many voiced their displeasure when the Cowboys signed him to a contract extension last offseason. But, he is still on the roster, which means we should probably expect him to stick around for at least one more season.

There is a cloud still hanging over Williams' head though. His intoxication arrest is still an open case and the league could decide to discipline/suspend him for breaking the NFL's conduct policy. That could impact his availability to start the season, which could ultimately determine where he exactly fits in on offense in 2018.

I know, it's a lot to take in, but that's how things stand right now and I don't things get much clearer when training camp gets underway. But, let's try to dive into this little deeper to try to determine what to expect from T-Will this year.

Did Terrance Williams' Big Game Quiet His Doubters?

Dallas Cowboys WR Terrance Williams

As I mentioned earlier, I believe Hurns, Beasley, and Gallup are the top three Cowboys receivers this year. If that proves to be true, Williams is looking at demotion. He may be nothing more than an insurance policy in case of injury.

Terrance Williams does have something going in his favor though. He has the coaching staffs trust, which means he could reprise the same role we have seen from him in the past. But, that's where his potential suspension comes into play.

If Williams is indeed suspended, that would give more opportunities to other WRs on the roster to prove themselves, particularly Michael Gallup and Noah Brown. I think these are the two receivers who could have the biggest impact on Williams' offensive role this season.

Gallup will without a doubt receive every opportunity to prove he's ready to hit the ground running as a rookie. I think he will be successful, which is why I have him ahead of Williams on the depth chart to begin with. Noah Brown on the other hand is the wild card here.

I'm a big fan of Noah Brown's. I believe he can adequately replace Williams as both a receiver in the passing game and as a blocker in the running game, something the coaching staff really values about Williams. I think he has a chance to leapfrog T-Will on the depth chart, but he's really going to have to have a good training camp to do that.

Having said all that, I still don't know exactly where Terrance Williams will fit offensively for the Dallas Cowboys in 2018, but I think his bad luck will continue. I think he should probably just be an insurance policy in case of injuries, but will have to wait to see if the coaching staff agrees.

Do you think Terrance Williams' bad luck continues?



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Star Blog

Alternate Universe: Where Would Cowboys Be With RB DeMarco Murray?

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Blog - Dez Bryant To DeMarco Murray: "Come On Home" 1

During the Spring of 2015 the Dallas Cowboys faced what most considered a difficult decision.

Following an unexpectedly successful 12-4 season in which the Cowboys won just their second playoff game since 1996, two of the team's main offensive weapons were set to hit free agency.

On one hand was wide receiver Dez Bryant, coming off of a career year and widely considered a top wide out in this talent-rich league. On the other hand was running back DeMarco Murray, also coming off of a career year in which he led the NFL in rushing yards.

Could the Cowboys afford to pay the somewhat aging running back in this NFL economy? Could they place a premier price tag on a wide receiver despite their run-first, ball control mentality?

Of course, this wasn't exactly an either/or situation, but the Cowboys did re-sign Bryant to a lucrative deal and allowed Murray to walk to Philadelphia.

Now Fast forward to 2018.

Neither Murray nor Bryant are on the Cowboys, Tony Romo is broadcasting for CBS, and Dallas has spent a top five overall pick on replacing Murray at running back.

DeMarco Murray announced his retirement from football last week, making much of Cowboys Nation (including myself) think back upon those Romo-era teams.

And it's really hard not to wonder, where would the Cowboys have gone if they decided to keep DeMarco Murray? Where would they be had they re-signed Murray, rather than spending a premium pick on Ezekiel Elliott a year later.

If we're being honest, Elliott is a much more dynamic runner than Murray ever was. He brings more explosion and reliability to the offense, and is arguably the best back in football. Even when Murray was the league's leading rusher, this really couldn't be said about him.

There's not much of a chance that DeMarco Murray would still be a productive RB1 in Dallas heading into 2018. His play significantly dropped over the years in Tennessee, even behind their solid offensive line.

Of course the value of the running back position has been devalued as of late, making the Cowboys selection of Elliott a questionable one to some around the league. Paying the league's leading rusher what they would've had to pay him back in 2015, however, would have been even more questionable.

Plus, the Cowboys were able to replace much of Murray's production in 2015 with Darren McFadden, even if the team didn't win nearly as many games.

There might be an alternative universe out there where Tennessee's Murray and Derrick Henry-led backfield existed in Dallas, but Cowboys fans are certainly not upset about having Ezekiel Elliott in a Cowboys uniform.

Even if it took them a top five pick to seal the deal.



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Star Blog

Considering an Earl Thomas Extension, Age is just a Number

John Williams

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Dallas Cowboys Wishlist: 2018 Free Agency Edition
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

When people consider whether the Dallas Cowboys should trade for Seattle Seahawks' Safety Earl Thomas, one rebuttal fans throw out there is his age, and for good reason. People get concerned about handing out contract extensions to players entering their age-29 season.

In the salary cap era of the NFL, it typically isn't good business to pay age as the team often doesn't get the value out of the player that the contract expects.

One position where I feel that isn't necessarily the case is at the safety position. Let's consider Earl Thomas' accolades for a moment and see if we can find some correlations.

Earl Thomas, in his eight-year career, has been to the Pro Bowl six times, missing out his rookie season and in 2016 when he only played 11 games. He's been selected to the NFL All-Pro's first team three times in consecutive years from 2012 to 2015.

So, let's go over to our friends at Pro Football Reference and see which other safeties have been to the Pro Bowl at least six times and have been selected as a first team All-Pro player three times.

Here's the list:

Considering an Earl Thomas Extension, Age is just a Number

The first thing you'll notice is the elite players on the list along with Earl Thomas. The likes of Rod Woodson, Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins, Troy Polamalu, Aeneas Williams, and Charles Woodson. Those are just the players whose career extended into 2000s.

Then if you consider Ronnie Lott and Cliff Harris, that's some amazing company.

The players with an asterisk are the players that are in the Hall of Fame. Reed, Polamalu, and Woodson will be in the Hall of Fame. Cliff Harris not being in the Hall of Fame is still an NFL injustice that needs to be righted as he was one of the key cogs to the success of the Doomsday Defense of the 1970s.

I know Deion Sanders is on the list, and he's only there because he did play some safety toward the tail end of his career, but we know that it was as a corner that Deion made his money. The key though is that Deion's switch to safety at the end allowed him to prolong his career.

Removing Earl from the discussion for a moment, the average length of the careers of the men mentioned above was 13.41 years. The longest career was Charles Woodson at 18 years followed by Deion at 17 and Brian Dawkins at 16 years. The shortest careers were the 10-year careers of Cliff Harris and Joey Browner.

So, if Earl Thomas, having played eight years, played to the short end of the career length, he'd still have another two years left, this season included. If he played to the average length of those listed above, he'd have another five years left.

Considering that half of the players listed above all played longer than the average, there's a good chance that Earl Thomas has another six to seven years left in his career.

So, when we think about an extension for Earl Thomas, we have to consider the fact that for someone who has had the career that he's had to this point, he's going to be able to play at a good to great level for the life of a four-year extension.

Earl Thomas is an elite player and is on track to one day be considered for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

If the Dallas Cowboys could add that to their young and developing defense for the next four years, they shouldn't worry about his age.

Obviously, anything can happen, and people may point to him missing games in each of the last two seasons, but prior to 2016, Earl Thomas played and started 100% of his team's games. That's a six season stretch of being available for every single game.

For a team that is really close to contention and has the makings of an elite defense, Earl Thomas could be the missing piece that could put them over the top, much like Charles Haley did for the Dallas Cowboys' dynasty of the 1990s.

Don't let the age thing distract you from adding one of the best safeties in the NFL and one of the best players in the league. Earl Thomas to the Dallas Cowboys just makes too much sense not to do it, and for the All-Pro safety, age is just a number.



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