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Film Review: “Light End” Noah Brown Makes Big Impact

John Williams

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Could WR Noah Brown be a Surprise Starter in 2018?

When Ezekiel Elliott lobbied for the Dallas Cowboys to select Wide Receiver Noah Brown in the 2017 NFL Draft, it was the blocking of Elliott’s former Ohio State Buckeye teammate that drew rave reviews from Elliott. The Dallas Cowboys likes what they saw and made him a seventh round selection that year with the hopes of utilizing his excellent run blocking in their run-heavy offense. 

Noah Brown was slowly integrated into the offense his rookie year, and found a role in the Vince Mayle mold. That player who has the size to motion in-line and crack line backers, but also the ability to move in space to neutralize defensive backs in the run game. Not big enough to be a full-time tight end, but does everything you want your tight end to be.

So perhaps a “light end.”

Injuries derailed his 2018 season thus far and when he finally got back into the lineup the results were mixed. Solid blocking, but also drew a couple of penalties and wasn’t effective in the passing game. He saw his largest offensive snap count of the three games he's played this season and third highest total of his career. 

On Thanksgiving Day, Noah Brown flipped the script and made a big impact for the Dallas Cowboys offense. Let's take a look at what makes Noah Brown such an important piece for the Dallas Cowboys. 

Film Review: “Light End” Noah Brown Makes Big Impact 6

On this play you see Noah Brown motion into the backfield and on the snap works across the formation to engage the linebacker on the second level. He uses excellent leverage and positioning to neutralize the defender. It's a modest gain for Elliott who cuts back against the grain and Brown limits the linebacker's ability to flow with Elliott. The league leading rusher runs it in for a score.

Film Review: “Light End” Noah Brown Makes Big Impact 5

This time Brown coming in motion draws the attention of Safety DJ. Swearinger. Again, Elliott cuts back to the weak side of the formation where he finds more running room, but Brown's ability to occupy Swearinger prevents him from being able to work to the play side and gives Elliott more room to run.

Film Review: “Light End” Noah Brown Makes Big Impact 4

This time Ezekiel Elliott follows Noah Brown's block through the hole for a nine yard gain. Again, it's Noah Brown taking on a linebacker at the point of attack and neutralizing him in the hole with good leverage and positioning. Brown holds him up long enough for Elliott to get by him for a nice gain.

Film Review: “Light End” Noah Brown Makes Big Impact 3

This time the Dallas Cowboys are in a two tight end formation to the right side with a single wide receiver to the left. They bring Brown in motion to the weak side and Brown is the lead blocker for Elliott. Brown shows a lot of patience working behind Xavier Su'a-Filo and Cameron Fleming as he works to the second level. Brown holds up the defensive back long enough for Elliott to turn the corner and out run the defensive back for the first down.

Film Review: “Light End” Noah Brown Makes Big Impact 1

This is one of my favorite plays from Brown's day. He's motioned wide to the numbers, but hustles to the inside to seal the defensive back, which puts Rod Smith in a one-on-one situation with the safety as he takes the play wide. Smith is nearly able to pick up the first down before being forced out of bounds. Also, what are you doing Rod, stay in bounds. 

Film Review: “Light End” Noah Brown Makes Big Impact

This is another favorite of mine. Brown again on the outside of the formation is working against a cornerback and completely eats his lunch. From a wider view, you can see the DB begin to get frustrated. Brown drives him nearly 15 yards downfield and continues to work him even after the play is over. It's this tenacious work as a blocker that keeps him getting snaps and may see him get even more snaps moving forward. It may be his blocking that got him on the field, but Noah Brown has another element to his game that is pretty underrated.

His receiving ability.

Film Review: “Light End” Noah Brown Makes Big Impact 8

This is the kind of win you want to see from your fifth wide receiver when you give him an opportunity. Noah Brown runs a comeback route by driving the defensive back downfield and creates a ton of separation at the top of his route and provides a large window for Quarterback Dak Prescott. Brown isn't satisfied with just the reception as he turns up field and with a block rom Ezekiel Elliott gets some nice yards after the catch. It's a huge pickup for Brown who doesn't get a lot of targets in this offense.

We've seen Noah Brown take on corner backs, safeties, and linebackers and when his blocking assignments. When Brown is on the field, he adds an excellent blocking element, which is why I think they need to use him more and more as the season moves forward. He brings more to the table than either Blake Jarwin or Rico Gathers at the tight end position, so the Dallas Cowboys should look to use Brown as a "light end" when they want to have a tight end on the field. At worst he should replace your second or third tight end when the Cowboys want to resemble 11 or 12 personnel.

Noah Brown as the team's "light end" is a matchup problem moving forward if Head Coach Jason Garrett and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan want to use him that way. When the Cowboys go with Noah Brown instead of a tight end, it forces the opposition to make a difficult decision. Do they keep their defense in nickel and risk a linebacker having to cover someone like Cole Beasley or Amari Cooper in the slot, or do they bring their dime package on the field and risk a size/talent mismatch between Brown and the fourth corner.

The NFL is about mismatches and the Dallas Cowboys have several and Noah Brown is one of them. It's time to increase his snap count to take advantage of his blocking and receiving ability.



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing 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. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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Report: Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott Planning Training Camp Holdout?

John Williams

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Ezekiel Elliott: NFL's History with Domestic Violence Shows Inconsistency, Hypocrisy 2

All offseason, the possibility of a new contract for Dallas Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott has been a hot button issue among media and fans alike. Not because Ezekiel Elliott isn't a great player and worthy of top running back money, but because the idea of paying running backs north of $15 million a year isn't as simple as, "Is he worth it?"

There is significant evidence that the running back position experiences a significant decline in production around their age 28 season and few running backs play into their 30's with good to elite production. Ezekiel Elliott, though he's experienced heavy usage in his first three seasons, could be the exception to the rule.

Well, knowing his worth to the Dallas Cowboys he's expecting a heavy payday at some point in the next couple of seasons. Elliott is under contract through 2019 and the Cowboys picked up his rookie option for 2020. So, technically, Elliott wouldn't be a free agent until the 2021 offseason. However, much like in the case of Todd Gurley, Elliott's looking to get paid early to maximize his prime years as the Dallas Cowboys running back.

Within the last hour, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk released a report that Ezekiel Elliott is planning on holding out of training camp if he doesn't receive a new contract, per a "league source." It should be noted that Mike Florio has had some missteps in his reporting of Dallas Cowboys news, most notably the perpetuating a rumor that Dez Bryant was caught on videotape doing something at a Wal-Mart, that would have a "Ray Rice type of impact." A tape that has never been discovered or produced and a story that's completely died off since it was originally reported in 2015.

Given the recent news that Melvin Gordon is planning a training camp hold out, it should come as no surprise that Elliott is being mentioned similarly. ESPN even mentioned the idea of Elliott and a looming contractual holdout in a piece earlier today, but their prediction pointed to 2021 and wasn't a report based on fact or a source, but a prediction for next year.

The two-time NFL rushing champ is scheduled to make $7.9 million in 2019 and just over $9 million in 2020 as the fifth-year option to his rookie contract. Elliott certainly has earned the right to be paid like Todd Gurley ($14.37 million per year), Le'Veon Bell ($13.13 million per year), and David Johnson ($13 million per year) despite having two more years on his deal.

In looking at the long-term impact of Elliott's contract, I've advocated that if the Dallas Cowboys intend to pay Elliott, now's the time to do it. A contract extension now, that adds three or four more years onto his existing deal would get Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys to his age 28 or 29 season. In a well-structured contract, they'd have opportunities to get out at the back end if Elliott experienced a significant decline in production.

Ezekiel Elliott's contract is going to continue to be a hot button issue until he's either signed to an extension or it's made known that the Dallas Cowboys have no intention of extending him. Currently, there aren't any other sources confirming Elliott's plan to hold out of training camp, which starts July 27th, but it's a story that we'll continue to follow here on InsideTheStar.com.

Update: 7/15/2019 1:45 pm.

Charles Robinson, Senior Reporter for Yahoo! Sports provided some insight into the thinking of Elliott and his representation.

It certainly seems like holding out is on the table for Ezekiel Elliott and his representation, but no decision has been made at this point.

Check back with us for updates on Ezekiel Elliott's contract extension. 



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Can Xavier Woods Take the Next Step into Dallas Cowboys Stardom?

John Williams

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Xavier Woods' Ascension Will Make Everyone Forget About Earl Thomas 1

The Dallas Cowboys have always been a team that has had lots of star power. Even in their down years in the early 2000s or the 8-8 teams of this decade, the Cowboys have always had names that struck a chord with NFL observers. Heading into the 2019 season, the Dallas Cowboys have household names on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football, but there are several players who can still take the leap to join that list of stars for America's Team. The staff over at DallasCowboys.com discussed who they thought could be an emerging star for the Dallas Cowboys in 2019.

Surprisingly, none of them mentioned Xavier Woods.

Along with Byron Jones and Anthony Brown, Xavier Woods helped to solidify the Dallas Cowboys secondary that helped the team become one of the best defenses in the NFL in 2018. Woods became a physical playmaking free safety for the team last year and gave the front office and coaching staff enough reason to not make a significant upgrade at the position.

After what the Cowboys didn't do in the offseason, it's obvious that they are confident that Woods will continue to take steps toward being the free safety they've been longing to find since Darren Woodson retired. They felt good enough about Xavier Woods that they opted not to pursue any of the big name free agents in Eart Thomas, Tyrann Mathieu, Landon Collins, or Tre Boston. In the draft, with pre-draft visitors Juan Thornhill and Taylor Rapp staring them in the face, the Cowboys instead drafted Trysten Hill to be their 3-tech defensive tackle for now and the future.

Per Pro Football Focus, among safeties that played at least 352 snaps in coverage, Xavier Woods finished tied for sixth in the NFL with a passer rating allowed of 62.8. He was seventh in the NFL among safeties in yards allowed per coverage snap, 10th  in snaps per target, and 12th in snaps per reception allowed at 31.1. Woods allowed the 12th fewest receptions and the seventh-fewest yards in the NFL among safeties. He tied for the team lead with two interceptions on the season to go along with his nine pass deflections, which finished third on the team.

What doesn't show up in the boxscore are the bone-jarring hits that he put on receivers coming over the middle of the field. Several times during the 2018 season did Woods lower the shoulder on a player to separate him from the ball after the reception was made.

Xavier Woods physicality combined with his ability to make plays on the football is something the Dallas Cowboys haven't had in years. If Woods can take another step forward in his play in 2019, there's no reason to think he can't contend for a Pro Bowl spot and be the next player to join the Dallas Cowboys group of stars.



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REPORT: Cowboys DE Randy Gregory to Request Reinstatement on Monday

Jess Haynie

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Randy Gregory

Mike Fisher of 105.3 The Fan is reporting that Randy Gregory, the Dallas Cowboys' defensive end currently under indefinite suspension, will request a full reinstatement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell this coming Monday. Gregory hopes to rejoin the team and be a full participant in Dallas' 2019 Training Camp and preseason.

Last February, Gregory was hit with the suspension after another violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. It is unknown what sort of violation occurred; Randy's probationary status means several different possibilities for what triggered the suspension.

mike fisher ✭ on Twitter

EXCLUSIVE: Cowboys Gregory To Appeal For Reinstatement To NFL On Monday With Specific Proposed Plan https://t.co/qSx2nf5IQl

The Cowboys have expressed confidence throughout this offseason that Gregory would be able to return for the 2019 season. This may due to the league's softening stance on marijuana use, or their belief in Randy's genuine efforts to confront his issues.

According to Fisher's report:

"The application will include an update on Gregory's process as a result of his in-depth treatment in behavioral and substance-abuse clinics and will feature a continuing "personal responsibility'' plan that will likely have him living with family members in DFW."

If it works out for him, Randy Gregory will return to a much more crowded defensive end position than last year.

The Cowboys have loaded up at DE this offseason. They added veterans Robert Quinn and Kerry Hyder, then drafted Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks. These four join DeMarcus Lawrence, Taco Charlton, and Dorance Armstrong as returning players.

Gregory has the talent to be factor regardless of who else is around. Hopefully he's done enough to earn his way back onto the team and avoid future suspensions.



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