With the trade deadline slowly but surely counting down and the Cowboys best offensive weapon likely to be sidelined the next six games, the Cowboys must figure out what to do at the running back position without Ezekiel Elliott.
The three options they have internally are Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden, and Rod Smith. Alfred Morris is the obvious answer to our question since he has been the team's RB2 all season. Darren McFadden also makes a lot of sense, seeing as just two years ago he rushed for over 1,089 yards and averaged 4.6 yards per carry. Rod Smith is the final option that is already on the Cowboys’ roster. Smith has only 12 career carries, but has shown a lot of promise.
While in-house options may be the route the Cowboys decide to turn to, there are plenty of options available via trade for the Cowboys to turn to. According the Ian Rapoport, the Cowboys have already started taking calls on running backs.
The best one who may be available in my opinion is San Fransisco 49ers back Carlos Hyde. Hyde is currently averaging 4.0 yards per carry and has 4 rushing touchdowns on the season. Remember, he’s doing this with no real threats at quarterback or on offense at all. Putting up these kind of numbers while being the lone weapon on the 49ers' offense is impressive.
Hyde is only 27 years old, and resembles Ezekiel Elliott's style of play more than you think. Hyde is elusive, powerful, explosive, and even does the dirty work like pass blocking and catching the ball out of the backfield. His ability to make defenders miss and get the dirty yards is something the Cowboys will miss dearly while Elliott serves his suspension, Hyde could help patch that up.
Carlos Hyde has had a successful start to his early career, and will be a free agent after the 2017 season, so he will likely want to put some good tape out. What better way to do that than run behind this offensive line?
Now obviously, it would cost the Cowboys something to land Carlos Hyde, but I don't think it would be much. Jay Ajayi was traded to the Eagles from the Dolphins early this morning for a fourth round pick. Ajayi is only 24 years old, has two years left on his contract, and is coming off a 1,924 yard season. In my opinion, Hyde would cost somewhere between a fourth to sixth round pick.
Considering his injury history, contract situation, and that San Francisco is in complete rebuild mode I see them letting him go for a fifth round pick. Remember, the Cowboys' will have multiple fifth round picks due to the amount of compensatory picks Dallas will be given for the 2018 NFL Draft.
This one is a no-brainer. Carlos Hyde is an elite running back in my opinion, and San Francisco seems more than willing to give up talented players for draft picks. Why not bolster your running back position with a player who is a major upgrade over Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris, and Rod Smith?
Do you think the Cowboys should trade for San Francisco 49er's, Carlos Hyde?
Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019
It's been a few years since things around the Dallas Cowboys felt this good prior to a season. Coming off a 10-6 year in which Dallas won both the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a one possession road game to the future NFC champions, Cowboys Nation is expecting some big things in 2019.
After all, the Cowboys went out and improved their roster in multiple ways this offseason and brought in some new blood on their offensive coaching staff. Spirits are high among Cowboys Nation, and just about everyone is anticipating a two team race for the NFC East.
But some numbers indicate we should be thinking "not so fast."
The details of the 2018 season are not as pretty as the total picture. Rarely are they ever, of course, but these particular details point towards possible regression for the Cowboys in 2019.
Basically, their point differential a year ago spells out impending doom. (That was dramatic, but let's discuss).
The Cowboys were +15 in 2018, and by pythagorean wins expectation, they were about as strong as an 8-8 team (8.53 wins to be exact). This means they won nearly 2 more games (1.47) than would be expected, fourth most in the entire NFL.
This point is furthered when looking at their record in one possession games. Dallas went 8-2 when the game was decided by 7 points or less, winning close games at a rate that is simply not sustainable year to year.
These numbers make the Cowboys a prime candidate for regression in 2019, as they were in 2017.
Back in 2016, the Cowboys outperformed their pythagorean expectation by a whole 2 wins. The following season? Dallas finished the year 9-7. The model also indicated that the 7-9 Eagles performed 2 wins under expectations in 2016, meaning they would get back on track in 2017. As we know, they ended up winning 13 games and the Super Bowl the following season.
Of course, this isn't set-in-stone, and the Cowboys very well could outperform these expectations and avoid regression. This would mainly hinge on their coaching staff and quarterback performing at an elite level, carrying them through close games and winning more games by greater than one possession.
Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations
Winning games in the NFL typically comes down to accomplishing two goals. One, being successful when passing on offense. And, two, stopping the opposing team's passing game.
The Cowboys set out to accomplish that second goal this offseason, re-signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and trading for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn. Quinn, who tallied 6.5 sacks last season for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the leagues more feared rushers when at his best. The former All Pro has multiple 10+ sack seasons under his belt, including a whopping 19 in 2013.
And, as expected, the Cowboys coaching staff is ecstatic to have such a respected pass rushing specialist on their roster.
“He’s got that first step. He’s an established pass rusher in this league, so he’s going to bring some good stuff for us.” - Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
The Cowboys acquired Robert Quinn for a 2020 6th round pick, which could end up being the steal of the offseason. Quinn has played with some top-notch pass rushers in the past, and each time they have brought out the best in his own game.
Back with the Rams in 2017, when Aaron Donald was on the same defensive line, Quinn got to the quarterback 8.5 times. And, last season, he remained consistent in his sack totals playing alongside Cameron Wake. Now he joins a DeMarcus Lawrence who has 25 sacks over the last 2 seasons.
"I think it was kind of one of those where I get to have fun, pin my ears back and just disrupt the backfield, which is what they want us to do." - Robert Quinn told NFL.com.
Quinn and the always dominant Lawrence will form an impressive defensive end duo on passing downs, with the potential to be one of the best in all of football. Dallas is also hoping to add Randy Gregory into this mix, a piece which could prove vital late in football games if he is able to return from his current indefinite suspension.
Whether or not Gregory finds his way back onto the field, though, this defensive front will be in good hands. The edge combo of Quinn and Lawrence, combined with a plethora of skilled interior rushers such as Maliek Collins, gives the Cowboys a fearsome defensive line which should keep quarterbacks uncomfortable every Sunday.
Can Rookie OL Connor McGovern Compete For A Starting Spot?
Raising eyebrows in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cowboys added Penn State offensive lineman Connor McGovern to their already deep OL depth chart.
McGovern, who played guard for the Nittany Lions, was reportedly by-far the best player remaining on the Cowboys draft board when they came on the clock in round three. Still, with seemingly more pressing needs yet to be addressed, Dallas' selection of McGovern was certainly a surprise.
When you watch the tape, though, you immediately see what the Cowboys loved about Connor McGovern.
A "plug-and-play" type guard, Connor McGovern is the type of rookie you'd expect to contribute in year one. On many teams he may be a candidate to start at guard or center from the beginning of his rookie season, but here in Dallas, his role for the 2019 season is somewhat in question.
Clearly, being a day two pick, there's no doubt that McGovern will make the Cowboys roster. But can he compete for a starting job?
During OTA's McGovern took reps at both guard and center, pointing towards the possibility of him being the first interior offensive lineman off the bench if one of the starters were to go down with an injury. Fellow interior linemen Joe Looney and Xavier Su'a-Filo each contributed in big ways during the 2018 season, however, and will be tough to beat out during camp.
While possible, I would still say it's unlikely. The Cowboys selection of McGovern seems to be more about 2020 and beyond than it is about the 2019 season. With right tackle La'el Collins coming up on a contract year, Dallas might elect to let him walk in free agency, move Williams back to his college position of tackle, and slide McGovern into the left guard slot.
This seems fool-proof in theory, but this many moving parts across the offensive line could spell trouble early on in 2020. Regardless, Connor McGovern's arrival gives Dallas the flexibility to consider all options on their offensive line.
In reality, McGovern strengthened a strength for Dallas, and may be needed to prove himself as early as this Fall if injury issues arise.
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