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Film Room: Travis Frederick Still Among NFL’s Elite OL

Kevin Brady

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Travis Frederick

The Dallas Cowboys have been a disappointment to many thus far in 2017. After suffering a home loss to the Los Angeles Rams and falling to 2-2 on the year, fans and analysts alike seem to be looking around rapidly for who to blame.

Due to the lack of consistent success on the ground, fans have started to take out their frustration on the offensive line. I have been critical of certain members of this line this season, but have yet to really write about the "big three" upfront. Those three being Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Tyron Smith.

Of the three, Frederick has received the most mixed reviews. Some analysts have said Frederick doesn't look like the same player from a year ago, claiming he is one of the main culprits in the Cowboys' lack of success.

Others, like Pro Football Focus, have maintained that Frederick is still one of the league's top centers. PFF even graded Travis Frederick as the top center in football through four weeks.

Of course, we don't just take anyone's word and we always like to determine opinions for ourselves. And after watching this offensive line for four straight weeks, I'm here to "report" my findings on Frederick.

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For starters, much of the souring on Travis Frederick stems from his week one performance against Damon Harrison. For the first time in a long time, I graded Frederick out a loser for the game in this one-on-one match up.

Harrison is one of the league's best interior defensive linemen, and made splash plays throughout the season opener. On this play, Frederick is asked to reach Harrison in a one technique. Since it is outside zone, right guard Zack Martin is not responsible for any backside help. He is to step laterally playside and take what comes into his track.

This leaves Frederick on an island, and on this rep against a beast of a defensive tackle, he couldn't get it done.

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Last Sunday against the Rams, Frederick was asked to make a similar block on defensive tackle Michael Brockers. Brockers is a very good nose tackle himself, and is lined up in a zero shade over Frederick on this play.

Watch how smooth Travis Frederick is with his first three steps, flipping his hips and getting a punch on the outside armpit of the nose. This is a textbook reach block on a nose here, and the ability to do this is just one of the many things which make Frederick great.

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One way I can explain what seems to be a drop off in Frederick's play is by showing you a rep such as the one above. After working with Ronald Leary last season, Frederick is now working with first time guard Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper. As hard as I was on Green after the Arizona game, Cooper was much worse against the Rams.

This is a pretty simple inside running play. With Brockers in a one technique, and no immediate threat to Cooper's playside shoulder, he should step down and provide help to Frederick before moving to the second level. If the defender was shaded on the guard, this could end up being a classic double team, but in this case he just has to give some help at the very least.

Cooper does just about nothing to help Frederick gain leverage here. Instead, he quickly abandons the down lineman and moves to the second level without allowing Frederick to take over the nose. If Cooper had at least blocked the linebacker, this still could've been a successful play, but he messes up on two counts here.

So to the naked eye watching the television, it looks like Frederick got stood up and bullied a bit. They then scream about a drop off in the All-Pro center's play. But in reality, the left guard has to do more to help Frederick take this block over before moving to the second level.

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The last clip we'll look at involves Travis Frederick in pass protection. With the defender only slightly shaded and the Rams rushing four, Frederick is responsible for that nose. At first, it appears the rusher will be able get by him as Frederick begins to turn his hips.

Then, Frederick makes a nice recovery to re-gain leverage and lock the defender down right at the line of scrimmage.

There is no doubt that something hasn't been right with this offensive line in 2017. After being one of the top 5 units over the past three seasons, they have played rather average thus far. But, all in all, Travis Frederick is part of the solution, not the problem.

Despite some early struggles and some stiff competition, Frederick still deserves to be mentioned among the elite offensive linemen in this league. His play has earned him that right.



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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Will It Be The Cowboys, Or Another Team, Who Pays Byron Jones After 2019?

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Headlines -  81

After having his fifth year option exercised for the 2019 season, cornerback Byron Jones enters a contract year this Fall.

Jones inarguably had the best year of his career in 2018: earning not only his first Pro Bowl selection but also Second Team All Pro honors for his performance. Doing it all without an impressive stat sheet, Jones was able to let his film speak for itself throughout most of the year, and he became the number one cornerback we'd all hoped he could be when the Cowboys decided to take the freakishly athletic defensive back in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

This contract year is quite unique for Byron Jones, however. Next offseason the Cowboys will be forced to re-sign and extend just about all of their key contributors on both sides of the ball. DeMarcus Lawrence already got his contract, but Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and others still await their deals. Deals which the front office has all-but explicitly promised will come.

This leaves Jones, the former first round pick and now former All Pro, generally considered to be the odd man out. So while 2019 is a contract year for Byron Jones, he may be earning himself a contract from a completely different team.

Jones has had an interesting road to this contract season. One which would be a shame for the Cowboys to waste. Moving between cornerback and safety during the first three years of his career, Jones fell out of the coaches' good graces while playing out of his most natural position. Under Kris Richard's new regime, though, Jones had his best season to date. He looked to finally be comfortable in his role, and was now playing for a coach who believed he could be a special player.

Now that Byron Jones has found his place in the Cowboys defense, and has earned his way into conversations with the league's top cornerbacks, he's likely priced himself out of the Cowboys' future plans.

It's funny how that works out. Of course, Jones should go get paid, and I'd never fault a guy for maximizing his value on the market. But there's a good chance the Cowboys make the mistake of allowing a premier cornerback to walk out of their building next offseason. But if they want to retain players like Elliott and Cooper, they may not have any other choice.



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Will 2019 be the Storybook Ending to Jason Witten’s Hall of Fame Career?

Brian Martin

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Is Jason Witten Looking At A Lesser Role In 2017?

It's old news now, but Jason Witten will suit up for the Dallas Cowboys once again in 2019. After less than a year in retirement, he will return to the field with the hopes of chasing down that ever elusive Super Bowl ring that has eluded him, and the Cowboys, for nearly two decades. If successful, it would be the storybook ending to an impressive Hall of Fame career.

I may be in the minority here, but I actually wasn't too excited to hear Jason Witten was going to end his retirement and rejoin the Dallas Cowboys. I thought he retired at the right time last year, going out on his terms instead of letting father time force him out. He definitely didn't have anything else to prove on the field, but sometimes hunger gets the best of us all.

That's what Jason Witten is. He's hungry! He's not stupid. He's looked this Dallas Cowboys roster over and sees just how talented it is from top to bottom. He knows this team has a real shot at reaching the promised land this year, adding yet another Super Bowl trophy to their collection. He wanted in, and rightfully so.

Witten may not have a full tank of gas anymore, but he's got enough left to help get this team to their desired destination. Despite my hesitation at first, I'm really excited to have him back in uniform. I'm really looking forward to seeing him back in action now, but more importantly having him on hand to mentor these younger players around him.

Most importantly though, I'm really hoping the 2019 season can be the storybook ending he deserves. He's been such an important ambassador to the NFL throughout his career, both on and off the field. What better way to end such a decorated career than with a little jewelry to put on his finger?

Dak Prescott, Jason Witten

Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten

The 11 time Pro Bowler still holds a lot of records in the NFL and with the Dallas Cowboys, despite not playing last season. I'll let you look those up for yourself if you want, but the impact he has had on the game throughout his career is undeniable, and should continue to be so. The Cowboys or Witten wouldn't have reunited if either thought that wasn't the case anymore.

I know many of you may be thinking I'm probably reaching little to suggest this 2019 Dallas Cowboys team has a chance at going all the way this year, but I don't think so. This is a team with Super Bowl aspirations and the roster to do it.

The Cowboys already had a championship caliber defense last season and they're even better now after making a few upgrades. This alone will make them a much more dangerous team this year, but they're not slouches on the offensive side of the ball either.

The offense was good last season after making the Amari Cooper trade, but should be able to take the next step this year. They only lost Cole Beasley, but replaced him with Randall Cobb, who has a chance to be even better if he can stay healthy. Then if you throw in the addition of Jason Witten and the development of a few players, this is looking more and more like one of the more dangerous offenses in the NFL.

Maybe, just maybe, this is the team that can finally get the Dallas Cowboys back to the Super Bowl and help Jason Witten end his Hall of Fame career in a storybook like manner. Hello Hollywood! You've got a blockbuster movie in the making.

Do you think Jason Witten can end his career in a storybook like manner?



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Travis Frederick’s Return Named Cowboys Biggest Reason For Excitement

Kevin Brady

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Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Center

Overall, Cowboys Nation feels to be in a positive mood during this year's offseason. Despite early angst over lack of action at the start of free agency, and concern over the Cowboys' draft strategy, most within the fan base seem to have high, yet realistic, hopes for the 2019 season.

Most seem to believe the NFC East will be a two team race, with the last two champions battling for the crown once again down the stretch of the season. Others can see the potential for a dark-horse candidate in Washington, but still believe the Cowboys roster has the edge.

So while Cowboys fans may not think they need a singular reason to look forward to the Fall of 2019, Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski gave them one this week.

Every NFL Team's Biggest Reason to Look Forward to 2019 Season

NFL Brent Sobleski @@brentsobleski Twitter Logo NFL Analyst The offseason can be as thrilling for NFL fans as the regular season. Player movement constantly refreshes rosters-whether through free agency, the draft or trades. Significant changes inject excitement into franchises, personnel and fanbases. A one-time league doormat can become the league's "it' team simply through a string of acquisitions.

Brent identified the biggest reason for each team to look forward to 2019, with the return of center Travis Frederick being the Cowboys' submission. There's no question that when healthy, Frederick is one of the best centers in the game, and anchors an offensive line many still consider to be at the top of the league.

"A full year with wide receiver Amari Cooper and re-signing Demarcus Lawrence to a long-term deal are both reasons for the Dallas Cowboys to be excited. However, the return of Travis Frederick to man the middle of the offensive line is far more pertinent."

Frederick missed all of the 2018 season after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disease that I am not nearly qualified enough to discuss. What I do know is that it can be very serious, and it kept Frederick out for the entire year.

The Cowboys offensive line suffered during the early part of 2018, largely due in part to Travis Frederick's absence. Yes, Joe Looney filled in and played as well as anyone could have hoped for, but the disconnect in communication across the offensive line was clear without their usual center. Especially during the first couple months of the season.

If Frederick is fully back and healthy, his presence alone will take the Cowboys offensive line back towards their peak. Combine his comeback with a healthy Zack Martin, and a now bulked up Connor Williams, and the interior of this line has the chance to be special.



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