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Film Room: What’s Going On With CB Anthony Brown?

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys en Español: Caras Nuevas, ¿Tenemos Cornerbacks?, Adiós Ware
Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Heading into the 2017 NFL Season, the national narrative was that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was headed for a sophomore slump. People wanted to believe that Prescott could not repeat his stellar rookie season, and that the late-round pick would struggle in year two.

Through the first half of the year it's pretty clear that Prescott is not having that slump of a season, but his fellow sophomore Anthony Brown is.

Cornerback Anthony Brown struggled at times in 2016, but for a sixth round pick he looked to be on his way. Making some key plays down the stretch a year ago, Brown made most fans comfortable with the fact the Cowboys allowed multiple veteran corners to walk during the offseason.

But this year Brown has simply not looked himself, and last week's loss to the Atlanta Falcons provided more examples of this.

Anthony Brown is being asked to play as a starting outside corner, something he did a little bit of his rookie season due to injuries. Given his stature and athletic profile, most pinned him to be a slot corner in the NFL. And, so far, the slot is where he has had his most success.

dalvsatl anthony brown 2 - Streamable

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Here we see Brown on the bottom of the screen, lined up in the slot against Mohamed Sanu. Brown is in man coverage, and with the Cowboys in a single-high look, he only has the one safety to rely on over the top.

Brown allows Sanu the first few steps, maintaining outside leverage. Brown is clearly more worried about out-breaking routes than in-breaking ones, something we see a lot with him. Once Sanu reaches the top of his route, Brown gets physical with him and makes his cut to the outside tougher.

Brown then stays sticky to Sanu's back hip, and stays in a good position to jump in front and deflect the pass away once the ball is thrown. This play is just one of many examples during Brown's young career of why he is at his best when playing in the slot.

dalvsatl anthony brown 3 - Streamable

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

An area I have seen Anthony Brown struggle in consistently is with following receivers across the field. Here playing as the boundary corner on the bottom of the screen, Brown ends up in man coverage against Julio Jones.

Brown actually did a nice job when matched up with Jones early in the game, but as the game wore on Brown began to have more and more issues in coverage.

Jones get a clean release off the line of scrimmage here, and then simply out runs Brown across the field. Jones get a little bit of a helping hand from the other crossing route, but Brown just doesn't have the speed to keep up here.

dalvsatl anthony brown 4 - Streamable

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

Here is another example of Brown getting beat to the inside. Anthony Brown is matched up in man coverage with Jordy Nelson on this snap on the bottom of the screen. Nelson uses a quick jab step to the outside to freeze Brown and create separation. Brown missteps and quickly loses Nelson in coverage. He is not able to recover and Nelson makes the first down grab.

If asked to play on the outside, I think Anthony Brown is best in zone coverage. He sometimes lacks the required skills in man to cover the wide outs he's being asked to cover, and also tends to get handsy at the top of routes. While his physicality is something I love about his game, it also puts him at risk for penalties more often.

I don't think all is lost for Anthony Brown. He seems to have lost some confidence in both his technique and coverage, at times getting caught peaking into the backfield or getting lost in the back-end. If he can string together a few good games and keep his confidence up, these issues could be fixed.

For the time being, however, I do think rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis deserves more snaps on the outside. Lewis has simply been better than Brown this year, and if we are giving out playing time based on merits, then Jourdan Lewis deserves to play. Still, as I said, Brown is better than he has been playing this season.



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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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. oneputter

    November 16, 2017 at 9:54 am

    he had a decent rookie year, he got a lot of praise, and came into his second year with a new helmet (much larger helmet) because of him thinking he had arrived.

    typical problem with all cowboys players, they get too full of themselves, now that “chip” on their shoulder is suddenly crumbs.

    reality check 30, you ain’t done nothing yet!

    • Kevin Brady

      Kevin Brady

      November 16, 2017 at 11:49 am

      I still think he can be a fine player, just maybe not as great as some had hoped during the offseason. Still a lot of football left. Thanks for reading!

  2. Travis Diggs

    November 16, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    This is what happens when all the corners on your roster are all no 2’s and 3’s. They will get exposed

    • Tommy Davis

      November 22, 2017 at 11:24 am

      Jordan Lewis is a cover corner, he should play Brown’s outside position and Brown should be moved back to the slot where he performed well last year.

  3. Aaron Jones

    November 17, 2017 at 8:05 am

    The play against Atlanta you’re asking him to trail the most athletic specimen in the NFL all the way across the field because our pass rush doesn’t get home. Can’t kill him for that. The play against Green Bay he’s playing outside leverage with linebacker help over the middle. Both linebackers bite on the play action, take notice of no Sean Lee, and Rodgers throws it right over the top of them. Not sure these were the two best examples.

  4. Ernest D. Hollins

    November 17, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    Every since he appeared on NFL NETWORK, after Giants game, he has been crap. A Case of the Big Head! I hope he REFOCUS! NOW is the time.

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Star Blog

Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?

Brian Martin

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Could Loaded FA Safety Class Drive Down Earl Thomas' Price Tag?

It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.

Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.

A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.

First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:

  • Earl Thomas
  • Landon Collins
  • Lamarcus Joyner
  • Tyrann Mathieu
  • Adrian Amos
  • Clayton Geathers
  • Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
  • Glover Quinn
  • Tre Boston
  • Kenny Vaccaro
  • George Iloka
  • Jimmie Ward
  • Adrian Phillips

Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.

With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.

Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.

The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.

Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.

Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?



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Star Blog

Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

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Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.

Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?

As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.

Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.

Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.

That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.

However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.

Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.

Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.

The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.

Just something to think about...



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Star Blog

2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back

Kevin Brady

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Anthony Brown's Resurgence A Great Sign for Cowboys Defense
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.

As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.

Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.

These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.

Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.

Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.

Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.

Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.



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