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Fact Or Fiction: Dez Bryant Clears The Way For Other Targets

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Headlines - Dez Bryant Has Hairline Fracture, Hopeful To Play Sunday In San Francisco

Let's just be honest, Dez Bryant had nowhere near the game against the Browns that we expected him to have.

Yes, the Cowboys won the game 35-10 and yes they are 7-1, but it was still somewhat troubling to read Bryant's final stat line.

1 catch for 19 yards.

Not exactly the type of day you'd expect out of your star wide receiver. Many around the Cowboys believe that Bryant's influence on the offense goes beyond a simple stat line, however. They say that Dez draws more attention from the defense, allowing other guys to work one on one or sometimes even be forgotten about. When this happens, you see Jason Witten go for over 100 yards like he did on Sunday.

I tend to agree with these statements, but I wanted to check the tape to see just how true they are.

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On Jason Witten's first touchdown of the game, the proclaimed "Dez apologists" are correct. Bryant (bottom of the screen) draws man to man coverage, but the Browns also bring a safety over-top of him just in case. The rest of the defense appears to be in zone, but Cleveland made sure to account for Dez. It should be noted that the corner at the top of the screen follows Terrance Williams as well, but I am inclined to believe that was a mistake.

On the other side, newly traded for Jamie Collins is left to deal with Witten alone. This leads to a breakdown in coverage, and an easy touchdown for the veteran.

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On Cole Beasley's touchdown later in the game we see Dez's influence once again.

The Cowboys stack Dez and Beasley, then Dez runs an in while Beasley runs an out. It is a relatively simple concept, but the Browns get confused pretty easily. Dez draws the attention of both the corner who is locked up on him, and the safety. This allows Beasley to work one on one in the red zone, which this season has been like stealing.

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On this play the Cowboys decide to move Dez into the slot for a change. The Browns bring pressure and keep their two middle defenders in zone coverage. Dez does a nice job of getting over-top the linebackers, and finds a soft spot in that zone.

Dak Prescott, who has been good all year, just misses Dez here. Maybe he didn't want to take a chance over the middle of the field, so instead he goes to Williams in man coverage, but sails the ball out of the end zone.

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This time the Browns adjust to Dez in the slot, and run man coverage. It is not truly a one on one situation however, as the Browns also designate a safety to follow Dez across the field. With Dez drawing two defenders, Witten is able to beat the linebacker easily across the field, and get in for the touchdown.

A few times, the Browns did just leave Dez one on one with their cornerback. Too often, he did not create enough space to give Dak the confidence to throw him the ball, or Dak just simply missed him.

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On Dez's first and only catch of the game, he is locked up in man coverage with Joe Haden. Haden did a nice job all game on Bryant, but Dez wins here. Dak trusts that Dez can make a play, and delivers the ball right on time.

Dez is not an excellent route runner, but he has always been able to win those 50/50 balls when they came his way. So far, it is safe to say that Dak is less likely to take a chance on a throw like that than Tony Romo was. And it might be hurting Dez's stats, for what it's worth.

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Dez is once again working against man coverage on this play, and once again he does win. He creates enough separation that had Dak had time to throw the ball, it would/should have gone to Bryant.

Instead, Dak is flushed out to his left, sees green grass in front of him and takes off for the first down. It was the right play to make, but Dez grades out as a winner on this snap as well.

In conclusion, everyone needs to stop worrying about Dez Bryant's stats. Against the Eagles he went for over 100 yards and a touchdown in a win, and people complained he was targeted too much. Against the Browns they complain he's not targeted enough after just one catch. To be honest, if it weren't for a missed pass interference call, Dez would have scored a touchdown Sunday as well.

Dez is still playing at a high level, and can still be trusted to make plays. The Cowboys are 7-1 and absolutely rolling through teams, and that is all that matters.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp

Sean Martin

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Will the Dallas Cowboys "Get Lucky" at Defensive End?

The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.

From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.

Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.

They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.

Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

https://t.co/za0u3lWgaY

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Cowboys & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract

Jess Haynie

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Which 2018 Free Agents Will The Cowboys Retain? 1
Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportwire

DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future  beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.

According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.

Jon Machota on Twitter

DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million

This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.

Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.

This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.

Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.

There is risk on both sides, of course.

Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.

Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.



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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?

Sean Martin

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Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster? 2
(Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

The Dallas Cowboys aren't short on numbers at wide receiver on their current 90-man roster. Looking to replace Dez Bryant and reshape their offense, the Cowboys will have to find the right group of pass catchers for Dak Prescott at their upcoming training camp.

This group includes Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Lance Lenoir, Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Michael Gallup, KD Cannon, Mekale McCay, and Marchie Murdock.

The odd men out from this group will likely be the ones that can't sustain a consistent level of play, doing so across multiple units if needed. All ten receivers will have their flashes, but with only four being true locks to make the team, new Cowboys Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal will be in on some tough decisions right away.

One such decision may be moving on from last year's seventh round pick Noah Brown out of Ohio State. Vouched for by former Buckeyes teammate Ezekiel Elliott thanks to his blocking ability on the outside, it may now be this strength in the run game and deficiency as a pass catcher that spells the end of Brown's run in Dallas.

Normally, a seventh round pick being on the roster bubble wouldn't be this noteworthy, but Brown clearly showed the potential to outplay this draft status as a rookie. Appearing in 13 games, Brown is a true X receiver, although not the dominant one the Cowboys are searching for.

What Happens if WR Allen Hurns Doesn't Pan Out?

Dallas Cowboys WR Deonte Thompson, Cedrick Wilson, Allen Hurns (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Moving away from fielding a true number one receiver, the Cowboys did sign Allen Hurns to play this spot while prepared to spread the ball around to Williams, Beasley, and Gallup after that.

This leaves Thompson, Wilson, Cannon, Lenoir, McCay, Murdock, and Brown to prove their worth in other ways to make the roster. I've written plenty about the potential rookie Cedrick Wilson has, so I'll be expecting a strong showing from him to earn a role in the Cowboys offense.

Wilson's skill set could push a depth signing like Deonte Thompson off the team, although his ability to back up Cole Beasley/Tavon Austin on special teams is important. The same can be said about Lance Lenoir, who like Brown has the advantage over first year players given his trials through training camp and the preseason a year ago.

Long shots to make the team, Cannon, McCay, and Murdock fall just below this group -- and somewhere in the middle is Noah Brown.

Increasing his role on special teams as the season went on last year, Brown had fans throughout a coaching staff that is now drastically changed for 2018. From their shift to more speed on offense, to drafting of both Gallup and Wilson, calling Brown a fringe player on the Cowboys roster really sets up the fiery competition to come at wide receiver.

Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make Cowboys Roster?

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

Should the Cowboys find a spot for Brown, one can only hope it means this new coaching staff has a clear plan for him to contribute on both offense and special teams outside of being a run blocker. A potential niche for Brown is his red zone ability, not afraid to put his body on the line for jump balls and fight through contact in his routes.

It won't be long until we sort out if this is enough to make the Cowboys as a wide receiver ahead of Quarterback Dak Prescott's third season.

Tell us what you think about "Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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