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Film Room: Can This Play-Design Revitalize Cowboys Offense?

Kevin Brady



Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott

Sunday night was bad, you don't need me to tell you that. But, it was particularly bad for the Cowboys offense, who could not seem to find any sort of rhythm throughout the entire game.

Of course we all know about their struggles in the passing game. Dak Prescott had his worst day of the season, Dez Bryant had a key fumble, and the other receivers just couldn't seem to get open.

One thing the Cowboys should always be able to depend on, however, is their rushing attack. Running behind the best offensive line in all of football, Ezekiel Elliott should almost always find a way to make an impact on the ground.

Despite rushing for over 100 yards Sunday night, Elliott's performance against the New York Giants still felt lackluster. Something still felt missing. To be honest, it felt like a 100 yard performance from Darren McFadden a season ago, when the yards simply didn't feel as impactful.

After struggling offensively for consecutive weeks, many are calling for a quarterback change. Possibly the strongest argument for sticking with Dak is his dual-threat ability, and his ability to run the zone read option. Unfortunately, the Cowboys refuse to use this play-design often, and I think more utilization of the zone read could help to revitalize their offense in the coming weeks.

DALNYG2 zone read - Streamable

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When they did run zone read on Sunday night, the result looked like this. Dak's read slows down the Giants defensive end, forcing him to honor the quarterback as a runner. This slight hesitation by the defender allows Elliott to be patient, use a jump cut, and find the hole for a nice gain.

Dak's fake makes the defensive end look absolutely silly, and considering this play was run earlier in the first half, I was surprised to see them not go back to it later in the game.

DALNYG2 zone read 3 - Streamable

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This play is not a zone read, is simply an outside (or wide) zone play. Elliott is designed to get the ball, taking any reads out of Dak's hands. As you can see, the play doesn't work very well here, as the backside defensive end crashes down the line of scrimmage hard to make the play.

Had Dak been given the option to pull the ball here, I am willing to bet that he could have made a big play. The lateral movement of the offensive line gives the linebackers a wide-zone read, and with the backside end crashing so hard, Dak might have had a nice gain.

Even if the play remained a designed give, simply holding the fake for an extra split second would have slowed down Olivier Vernon, and given Zeke a chance to make a play.

DALNYG2 zone read 2 - Streamable

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

Zone read is not perfect, however, especially when your playside blockers get beat. Here we see the rare occasion that Tyron Smith gets beat, and Vernon gets into the backfield to disrupt the play.

Still, you can see how the defensive end must freeze to honor Dak's ability to pull and run. Dak makes the wrong read here, however, which when combined with a missed block on the playside, spells disaster for the offense.

I am not suggesting that running the zone read more often will fix every problem with this team, nor am I suggesting that the Cowboys run Dak into the ground similar to how Washington did with Robert Griffin. But, if you are going to sit a veteran quarterback in favor of Dak Prescott, you might as well use all of his abilities to your advantage.

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.

Player News

Free Agent WR Allen Hurns Plans to Sign With Cowboys

Brian Martin



Free Agent WR Allen Hurns Plans to Sign With Cowboys

It looks as if the Dallas Cowboys will be adding yet another wide receiver through free agency. According to sources, Allen Hurns plans on signing with the Cowboys.

Josina Anderson on Twitter

WR Allen Hurns just told me, "I'm going to sign with Dallas." #Cowboys

This is a move that seemed unlikely after the Cowboys signed Deonte Thompson a few days ago, but I know a lot of Cowboys Nation will be excited about this transaction.

Allen Hurns joins a receiver group that features Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams, Ryan Switzer, Noah Brown, and the recently added Deonte Thompson.

While this move is exciting, it does create more confusion for the Cowboys and their wide receivers. It's difficult to imagine all of these WRs sticking to the roster, which means there will be some tough decisions that need to be made.

What will the Cowboys do with Dez Bryant?

Will Cole Beasley be cut or traded?

Are the Cowboys comfortable absorbing Terrance Williams' cap hit if traded or released?

Will this keep the Cowboys from drafting a WR early?

All of these questions and more will have to be answered eventually. But, one thing is for sure, things are definitely about to get interesting.

Of course, there is a bonus here for the Dallas Cowboys. Since Allen Hurns was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, he doesn't count against the Cowboys compensatory picks next season.

Please stay tuned and we will continue to keep you updated on contract details and any other news involving Allen Hurns as it becomes available.

What do you think about the Allen Hurns signing?

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Dallas Cowboys

What Signing Thompson Means for Hurns and Cowboys WR Position

Mauricio Rodriguez



Questions Surround Cowboys WR Position After Deonte Thompson Signing

UPDATE: News of Hurns saying he will sign with the Cowboys broke as this article went live. 

Free Agency began a bit late for the Dallas Cowboys, but they've already done enough to get fans discussing about the latest additions to the roster. Adding help on offense, defense and special teams in form of tier-2 free agents may not be what Cowboys Nation wants to see, but I'm certain they wouldn't have enjoyed giving Sammy Watkins a three-year $48M contract, either.

However, the Cowboys are clearly in the wide receiver market after an offensively disappointing season. They have quite a few of this year's class of wide receivers prospects scheduled to visit Dallas, and they've hosted some WR free agents as well.

This week, they even signed one.

Deonte Thompson, who started seven games for the Bills last year, is coming to Dallas on a one-year $2.5M contract. The 29-year old could be the burner receiver this offense is missing and could end up being an improved version of Brice Butler for the Cowboys in 2018.

He hasn't had a great career but last season was his best year so far. Starting three games for the Bears and seven for the Bills, Thompson was able to rack up a career-high 555 yards and two touchdowns.

His best attribute as a player is definitely the speed he brings to the table and his ability to separate down the field, which he'll be looking to do on Dak Prescott's offense this season.

But there was another wide receiver visiting Dallas this week and now we wonder whether or not the Deonte Thompson signing will keep the Cowboys from targeting former Jaguars' WR Allen Hurns.

According to Todd Archer, that won't be the case.

Todd Archer on Twitter

Told the signing of Deonte Thompson does not close the door on the Cowboys' interest in Allen Hurns, who visited the team Wednesday and had dinner. Things could get interesting in the Cowboys' wide receivers' room.

It shouldn't be. First of all, Hurns is a much better player than Thompson and would provide this offense with a receiver who can play in the "X" or in the "Z" role. We've been talking about getting Prescott a reliable target to try to give him a "best friend." Allen Hurns could be just that.

Sure, he's had a couple of down seasons, but the talent is there to take.

Simply put, the Deonte Thompson signing shouldn't stop the Cowboys from looking at WR in the first round of the NFL Draft. Allen Hurns would.

Cowboys en Español: Nuevas Contrataciones, ¿Podría Ser Allen Hurns la Siguiente?

It sure would make things interesting in the wide receiver room for Dallas. Despite what many believe, Dez Bryant will probably remain a Cowboy even if Hurns is signed. Let's say the Cowboys go out there and get the 26-year old from Jacksonville and have to decide which six receivers to keep for the season.

They'd possibly have to decide among these:

  • Dez Bryant
  • Terrrance Williams
  • Cole Beasley
  • Ryan Switzer
  • Allen Hurns
  • Deonte Thompson
  • Noah Brown
  • A drafted rookie?  

This is where a lot of dilemmas start taking form. Cole Beasley and Ryan Switzer are basically the same player and if you're not going to use them both at the same time, do you keep them anyway? What about Terrance Williams? He could be the worst receiver to make the cut just because of his contract. 

Noah Brown showed promise in 2017, are they ready to move on from him? And finally, a rookie could very well end up beating Deonte Thompson, who was guaranteed a million in his contract.

Wide receiver is indeed one of the top needs for the Dallas Cowboys. They could head to the 2018 NFL Draft needing one in the top rounds or they could be fine signing Hurns and taking a late-rounder receiver to compete in training camp for a spot on the roster.

As long as they're having a tough time deciding because they are all good, it should be fine.

Tell me what you think about "What Signing Thompson Means for Hurns and Cowboys WR Position" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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Player News

Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson

Jess Haynie



Deonte Thompson

The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.

Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.

Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.

Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.

For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.

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