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Film Room: New Cowboys OL Marcus Martin Brings Versatility

Kevin Brady

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The Dallas Cowboys continued their recent free agency binge of sorts over the weekend, signing offensive lineman Marcus Martin. The Cowboys have begun plugging their holes one-by-one, and Martin's addition directly fills a need for the 2018 team.

The former third round pick of the 49ers has had a bit of a rocky career thus far. After starting 14 games for the 49ers in 2015, Martin was only able to appear in four games in 2016 due to injuries. He then joined the Cleveland Browns in 2017, but did not see any action.

Marcus Martin's appeal to the Cowboys is clear, however, and it has to do with his position-flex. Though listed as a guard, Martin has shown the ability to play both left guard and center during his NFL career.

His movement skills and versatility make him a strong candidate to fill the swing center/guard role on the 2018 roster, despite some clear deficiencies on tape.

When watching Martin I often found myself impressed with his movement and athleticism, especially when he worked to the second level to meet linebackers. The problem I had was, once he got to the point of contact, he struggled with his technique. I'd like to see Martin play more under control at the second level, breaking down and making his blocks in a more consistent fashion. Still, he clearly has the traits to work in the Cowboys' run blocking scheme.

marcus martin blitz pick up - Streamable

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In pass protection I saw many of the same inconsistencies with Marcus Martin. At times he made blocks such as these (left guard, number 66), though. Here Martin is quick out of his stance and fluid in his footwork. He is violent with his hands when meeting the rusher, and slides down nicely to counter the inside move.

marcus martin - Streamable

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Too often, however, his pass protection efforts look like they did on this play against Sheldon Richardson. Here, Martin's initial step and set are fine, but he gets no punch on Richardson and allows himself to get bullied around.

Richardson hits him with the long arm, completely turns his shoulders, and sheds him for an easy quarterback pressure. Martin needs to be stronger with his hands on reps like these, and has to find the balance between patience and violence.

Later in the game, Martin made the adjustment to jump-set Richardson and stopped him at the line of scrimmage. It was good to see Martin recognize how he was getting beat, adjust accordingly, and then execute the block.

Overall, I don't have any real issues with the signing of Marcus Martin. He has shown he can play both guard and center, and has the movement skills the Cowboys look for in their offensive linemen. Bringing in Martin to compete for the swing interior lineman role with Joe Looney is a smart move.

If they believe Martin is the answer to their starting left guard woes, however, then I would have an issue with the move. Hopefully the Cowboys still look to one of the guards in this very strong draft class to fill that starting role going forward.



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 have been with ITS since 2016.

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2 Comments
  • Chuck Wright

    Offensive line appears to be squared away. Clearly more excited with a big upgrade at swing OT. But we now have our 8 and most likely still draft an OG as our future at the spot.

    Now here’s hoping we draft Army OT in the 7th as a future (he has to serve 2 years) player.

  • Russ_Te

    I posted a link in the Fleming article about him grading out the best of 4 Patriot OT’s last year. Now adding Martin the Cowboys are making sense this offseason on the OL. I feel just the opposite about WR.

    But I’m looking to add about 2 more project OL’s in the draft, and let them all slog it out. Presumably Green will be in trouble, maybe even Cooper. But camp bodies with possible upside are a good way to solve OL for 2018. Hopefully it will free Dallas up to get an impact, fast WR up the draft. That is what this offense, and Dak, needs.

Dallas Cowboys

Jaguars Waive Barry Church; Could Cowboys Bring Him Back?

Jess Haynie

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Barry Church

Veteran safety Barry Church was released today by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Could he return home to the Dallas Cowboys, where he spent his first seven seasons?

Despite his leadership and consistency on defense, Dallas allowed Church to leave in free agency when Jacksonville gave him a lucrative deal. But if he clears waivers, could the Cowboys consider bring him back for depth and support during their likely playoff run?

Jane Slater of the NFL Network reported on this potential reunion:

Jane Slater on Twitter

Cowboys haven't reached out to S Barry Church but I'm told they are discussing the possibility of bringing him back to Dallas according to a source informed. Church, 30, was released by the Jags today and is familiar with the system having played there from 2010-2016.

The Cowboys have had solid play from their current starting safeties, Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. Neither is a star, but the duo has not been a liability during the team's current five-game winning streak.

Church was a similar player, reliable if never exceptional, during his time in Dallas. He could be a nice insurance policy for the playoffs if something happened to one of the starters.

Barry knows the system. He never played for Kris Richard, but he was with Rod Marinelli for three seasons before leaving in free agency.

According to reports out of Jacksonville, Church is being released because the team wants to go with younger, cheaper players now that their season is over. There is no known injury keeping Barry from playing.

Of course, Dallas would have to make room on the roster to pick Church up. They could third-year prospect Darian Thompson, who is the current fourth man at safety.

Barry Church must now go through the 24-hour waiver process. A team may claim him, including the Cowboys. We'll see what the future holds.



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Dallas Cowboys

How the Dallas Cowboys Can Win the NFC East This Week

Jess Haynie

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Jaylon Smith, Eagles

It's only Week 15, but the Dallas Cowboys could become the 2018 NFC East Champions this week through a couple of scenarios. I thought we'd take a moment today to break down how the Boys can win their division and assure their spot in the playoffs.

With three weeks left in the regular season, most of the divisional games have already been played. The only two left to play are the Week 17 finales; Cowboys at Giants and Eagles at Redskins.

Here are the current standings:

  1. Dallas Cowboys 8-5 (4-1 in division)
  2. Philadelphia Eagles 6-7 (3-2 in division)
  3. Washington Redskins 6-7 (2-3 in division)
  4. New York Giants 5-8 (1-4 in division)

The Giants have been scrappy lately, winning four of their last five, but it's too late for them to try to win the division. Even if the Cowboys were to fall to 8-8, the best New York could do is tie them in overall record. They would have also split their head-to-head series, negating that tiebreaker.

At that point, it would come down to the record within the division. New York would improve to 2-4 with a win over Dallas in Week 17, but the Cowboys would still be 4-2 against the NFC East. Dallas would still be the division champion.

So, that knocks out New York. Technically, the Eagles and Redskins are still alive. But their margin is about as slim as it gets.

Both Philadelphia and Washington need the Cowboys to lose their last three games, and then to also win out themselves, to steal the NFC East crown.

Sean's Scout: Cowboys Thankful for Cooper in Division Win Over Redskins

Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper

For the Redskins, it's about their record against division opponents. The best they can finish is 3-3, assuming they'd win their last game against the Eagles. With the head-to-head series against Dallas split this year, they would have to finish 9-7 overall and have the Cowboys drop to 8-8 to become NFC East Champions.

The Eagles also need to finish one game ahead of Dallas, but for a different reason. Philadelphia lost both their games with the Cowboys this year, so Dallas has the head-to-head tiebreaker.

So that really makes thing simple for Dallas; win just one of your last three games and you're the division champion.

Not only that, but even if Dallas were to fall this week against the Indianapolis Colts, they could still clinch the division with losses by the Eagles (@ Rams) and Redskins (@ Jaguars).

It would certainly behoove the Cowboys to get the division locked up now. They could then use the last two weeks of the season to get ready for the playoffs.

Dallas would have the freedom rest banged up players like Ezekiel Elliott and Zack Martin. It would also allow them to work in returning players such as Sean Lee and Tavon Austin and figure out their new rotations without pressure to win.

Beating the Colts on Sunday isn't a given; they're at home and desperate to stay alive in the AFC playoff picture. They are the toughest opponent Dallas has left until January.

But despite that, with the Eagles facing a juggernaut team and Washington trying to play football without a quarterback, there's a great chance that the Cowboys will be the NFC East Champions by Sunday night.



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#INDvsDAL: How The Game May Be Decided In The Red Zone

Kevin Brady

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Fantasy Football - Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - Week 2 2
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In many ways the Dallas Cowboys offense has found their stride in recent weeks. Over this five game win streak they have "found their identity" playing ball control offense and trusting their quarterback to make big throws when needed most. Of course the defense has been the star most weeks, but this offense should not be slept on either.

This doesn't mean the offense has been without their fair share of struggles, however, particularly in the red zone. Struggles that the numbers say could cost the Cowboys this weeks' game in Indianapolis if they don't get it cleaned up.

In terms of red zone offensive efficiency the Cowboys have been downright horrendous. In fact, they are dead-last in the league in success rate inside the 10 yard line, last in first-and-goal success rate, and 21st in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

There's no sugar-coating those numbers, they are bad. Especially when you consider that this team has arguably the league's best running back and a quarterback with the size and athleticism you might expect from a linebacker.

For as bad as the Cowboys are inside the red zone, the Colts are equally as good. Indianapolis is top 10 in terms of success rate inside the 10, at the goal line, and in first-and-goal success rate. They are also 11th in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

Despite not having the individual running back the Cowboys have, the Colts offensive line and skill players as a whole set them up a bit better when the field is shortened. Tight end Eric Ebron has been rather incredible in terms of production this season, catching 12 touchdowns on 58 receptions. Andrew Luck is also a more accurate quarterback than Dak Prescott, though Prescott should be a much more dangerous red zone threat than he currently is.

Bob Sturm on Twitter

I am working on the Cowboys 32nd ranked Goal-to-Go offensive numbers. They have run 35 of their 59 total plays out of Shotgun-11 Personnel. In those 35 plays, the average gain per snap is....12 INCHES. I am not kidding. They could out-gain that by running QB sneaks. I am amazed.

Of course, some of the Cowboys red zone struggles can be pinned on offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Linehan has failed to scheme open the "easy" red zone touchdowns we see so often around the league. As pointed out by Bob Sturm on Twitter this week, the Cowboys' personnel groupings and play calls when in goal-to-go situations have been questionable to say the least. But while blame does fall on the coaches' shoulders, the players need to execute better as well.

Games in the NFL often come down to just a handful of plays, and red zone efficiency plays a key role in deciding the outcome of close games every week. If this is once again the case on Sunday, based on past performance, the Dallas Cowboys could be in trouble against the efficient Colts.



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