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Identity Crisis, Who Are These Cowboys?

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Identity crisis, who are these Cowboys?

One of the many problems I noticed with the Cowboys this past season was the fact that offensively they lacked an identity.

They definitely weren't a west coast offense. They weren't a smash mouth offense. They weren't necessarily a pass-happy team. They weren't a field position and time possession team. And, you really couldn't consider them a balanced attack.

If I had to define the offense, I would call it a big play or bust offense.

Unfortunately, too many times last season, it busted.

The Cowboys seem to rely too heavily on the big play, especially when passing. It seemed that their philosophy was look deep first and foremost, and then look underneath. Now, I love big plays as much as the next fan, but I'm realistic. That type of philosophy is doomed for failure.

This is not Madden.

With Garrett being the offensive coordinator, I find it curious that he would employ such a philosophy. I thought he would bring back a version of the timing-based offense that was in place in the 90's when the Cowboys had much success.

The playbook seems completely devoid of the slants, outs, comebacks, and deep slants that the Cowboys ran routinely when he was a backup quarterback. What is particularly troubling about that is the fact that the offensive personnel seem to be perfect for that type of offense.

Roy Williams is a big strong possession type of receiver. Miles Austin could possibly be that Alvin Harper type of receiver. Of course, Witten has drawn comparison to Novacek. And, Romo has the arm strength to make the throws.

The Cowboys still have the big offensive line. And while, they don't have an Emmitt, they do have three running backs who are pretty good in their own right.

Maybe, now that Owens is gone, Garrett will bring back some of the old Cowboys playbook.

It would be nice.

At least then they would have an identity.

The Wizard has spoken.



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7 Comments
  • mike

    Wiz you are going to see that offense this year. The traps with Felix and Choice . The ten or twelve yard out to Roy and the skinny post to Witten and Bennett. We still need some pieces to complete that package. A fullback ” a la Moose” to lead the runs or block the blitzing linebacker , a solid left guard “a la Larry or Nate ” and centre that can get the snap to the quarterback without it being another episode of adventure world. All three of these are fixable in the off season. Free agency is solidifying a lot of the defensive questions. Can we get a guard and fullback in the draft ? Sure can. Will the centre snap still be an adventure ? Probably. Well two out of three ain’t bad. Jason should be able to run his full offense. It should be fun.

  • http://www.cowboysfanrebellion.com Craig Cotton

    I’m hoping this will exactly be the case. Hopefully, without TO in his ear all the time, Garrett will now utilize all of the rest of the talent that’s on this team. We’ve already gotten good news that Felix probably start, now he just needs the touches. Swing passes, skinny outs, tosses, split him wide. Whatever it takes to get the ball in his hands. This doesn’t even begin to touch on the fact that Roy and Romo will be developing chemistry.

    http://www.CowboysFanRebellion.com

  • https://insidethestar.com/about/ Bryson Treece

    That stuff with the bad snaps is BS … that’s probably the biggest non-personnel need this season, is communication on the field.

  • Shaun Wellman

    Defenses are constantly evolving and now contain athletes that would excel on either side of the ball. It’s time to move on and stop asking Garrett to try and re-create the offense of the early 90’s. Modern day defenses would shred that old version of Norv Turners I formation offense. Those days are over. Watch a Chargers game and you’ll see it for yourselves. Offenses also evolve and Garretts O is an evolved version of an offense designed by Don Corielle.

    The guy demanding the ball the most is gone.

    Balance is coming, and the athletes are already in place.

    Saying that “Witten has drawn comparisons to Novacek” is ridiculous considering that Witten has destroyed any and all single season and career bests stats that Novacek ever posted.

  • https://insidethestar.com/about/ Bryson Treece

    Shaun … very true about Witten, and it’s just a sign of the changes you mentioned. Today’s NFL offense is a whole other game for TE’s compared to 15 and 20 years ago.

    This will be more balanced now with Owens out of the picture, but Garrett has some work to do. Recreating the offense of the 90’s would not only be difficult, as you said, it wouldn’t be effective. But there were times last year when this offense was firing on all cylinders and still got shut down because … it seemed … that the defensive backs knew where the ball was going.

    Constant mistakes is one thing, and is usually the fault of the players on the field, but the defense looking like they knew where the play was going from the snap falls on the coordinators shoulders. Owens affected that a bit with his demands for more balls, but I don’t think it was all him, and I don’t think it was all injuries either.

    Garrett has got to understand his players better, cause only then will he consistently put each player in a position to do their very best.

  • The Wizard

    I was in no way suggesting that Garrett dusts off the old 90’s playbook, that would be silly. But, even when you watch the Chargers, you see elements of those old plays. They have of course been updated as defenses have evolved.

    Last season, according to several defenders, the Cowboys had the easiest playbook to dissect. Even I could tell most of the time what the play was.

    My point was Garrett didn’t run plays that best suited his players. I don’t think that had anything to do with Owens or any player for that matter.

    Garrett simply did a poor job, that is it. Hopefully, this season he’ll learn from his mistakes and do better. If so, the Cowboys could have great success.

  • Shaun Wellman

    OK, I need to clarify my T.O. comment.

    What I meant was that with T.O. gone Garrett doesn’t have to focus so much on getting him the ball. That is why our offense started to look so vanilla.

    Garretts offense was so effective his first year because he ran first, which opened up the passing game, and then spread the ball to all the different weapons. Often the result was that alot of drives ended in big plays to T.O..

    In 07 T.O. had more yards and touchdowns, but Witten led the team in receptions. Crayton had a nice year moving the chains and Barber was more effective in the passing game.

    Their effectiveness at making every little play made it easier to make the big plays for 3/4 of the 07 season. There at the end of the 07 season it did seem like they were living and dying by the big play.

    Garretts success early in 07 has been his biggest obstacle late in 07 and all of 08.

    Ownership, fans and media all began to expect the big play, and so he keeps trying to give it to us. The more big plays T.O. made the more he kept calling for the ball.

    It did’nt work as well in 08 because in order to keep everyone happy (Jerry Joones and T.O.) he had try and find a way to get T.O. the ball more. The owner wanted it. The fans wanted it, and the media was happy to either cover it or T.O. complaining about the lack of it.

    Now that the talent level is more even, Romo will spread the ball around more which will balance out the passing attack.

    Don’t expect them to just plug Roy E into T.O.’s spot and keep doing the same shit. They don’t need him to.

    The three-headed monster we have now at tail back will give us back that balance between run and pass, which of course means a more balanced offense overall.

Player News

Cowboys Interest in Raiders WR Amari Cooper Increases Ahead of Trade Deadline

Sean Martin

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Dallas Cowboys Interest in Raiders WR Amari Cooper Increases

This week, Stephen Jones discussed the difficulties of making a trade, saying "it just seems like in the NFL trades are hard to make, to make it all come together for two teams".

The two teams that could be lining up to change that are of course Jones' Cowboys as well as John Gruden's Oakland Raiders. Yet another Raiders player has been in the headlines as a trade target, 24-year old Wide Receiver Amari Cooper.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

WR-needy Cowboys doing their due diligence on Raiders' WR Amari Cooper: https://t.co/pE2wmrzCXu

Playing at the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the Cowboys will have yet another reshuffled lineup at wide receiver, playing without Tavon Austin. Their biggest offseason addition to this unit was Allen Hurns, and he's been underwhelming with just eight catches.

Thus the Cowboys are reportedly doing their "due diligence" on Cooper, sensing the need for a mid-season acquisition at WR for the right price. The Cowboys ability to potentially find that price in a deal advantageous to them, given how the Raiders handled the departure of Khalil Mack in a trade to this Chicago Bears, is what makes this story relevant.

A lot has been said about Cooper since his name emerged as the latest player potentially out of the Bay Area. Whether you believe he's still an impact receiver with the potential to regain his Pro Bowl form of 2015 and 2016 or one that "doesn't love football," as some have been inclined to say, the former fourth overall pick represents an investment into the WR position that the Cowboys have not made in some time.

In those Pro Bowl seasons, Cooper averaged over 77 catches a season while putting up over 1,000 yards in both. The Raiders have used this to justify their reported asking price of a first-round pick for Cooper, something the Cowboys are not alone in their reluctance to give.

With Cooper, the Raiders are holding onto their last bit of relevancy. A reeling 1-5 football team that needs to maximize their return on trading Cooper, the Colts and Redskins are also following in the Cowboys footsteps by preparing as much as they can on the player.

Cooper has caught 22 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown through six games this season.

For as desperate as the Raiders are to jump-start their organization, the Cowboys should be just as desperate to add a threat like Cooper to their passing attack. Unlike the Raiders, they're in the hunt for a division title, something much harder to put a price on when it comes to the Jones' finalizing any deal for Cooper in the coming days.

The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, October 30th, at 3 PM Central Time. The Cowboys will be two days into their bye week, not in action again after Sunday until November 5th.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Interest in Raiders WR Amari Cooper Increases Ahead of Trade Deadline" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Dallas Cowboys

How Will Cowboys Handle Sean Lee’s Return?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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REPORT: Cowboys LB Sean Lee to Miss Games with Hamstring Injury

For the first time in what feels like forever, the Dallas Cowboys' defense is still dominant without Sean Lee on the field. For many years, Lee's injuries have shown us the worst of this defense but finally that's not the case. Thanks to Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys should feel just fine without #50 wearing pads on gameday.

As the Cowboys get ready to play the Washington Redskins on the road in their quest for a winning record, Sean Lee is expected to return to the field. He was a full participant on practice on both Thursday and Friday and should make his way back to the field today.

But how much will he play?

Usually, we would be talking about this defense being desperate for his help. He's been rushed back to the field on many occasions simply because the team's linebackers weren't doing enough without him. This year though, the narrative is different.

Even before he got injured in week 3 playing against the Seattle Seahawks, Lee had been struggling. Now granted, he wasn't looking bad, but we were watching him miss a few tackles here and there which simply isn't something you'd expect from a player such as himself.

The rookie out of Boise State has made a really good job justifying why the front office decided to invest a first round pick on him. So far, Leighton Vander Esch has accounted for 49 tackles, 40 of which have been solo. The kid can play, period. He's done nothing but get better and better by the week and the snaps he's gotten replacing Lee have helped him a ton.

With the veteran returning, what's in store for this linebacker rotation?

Honestly, with the bye week so close, I think this will depend a lot on how this game starts off. If it comes to a point in which the Cowboys are comfortably leading and have no concerns of losing the match, why not rest Lee as much as possible?

It's clear that the defense is far from desperate for having #50 back on the field and it's also clear that Lee is a player who could get injured at any given time.

Thanks to Smith's and Vander Esch's play, the Cowboys can afford to limit Lee's snaps versus the Redskins today. Rest him as much as possible and throw him on just a few plays out there. Lee has suffered injuries on both hamstrings, which is another reason to take it slow with his return.

If they're able to limit him today and then take advantage of the upcoming bye week it could pay Lee big dividends down the road. Dallas needs to realize they're in a very comfortable position regarding Sean Lee. They have the option to take things slow.

Not only that but once he's healthy, he doesn't have to be on the field every single snap. It might be hard getting used to watching Lee slowly become a "situational" player because he's so good to be only played on specific situations but that might be the way to make his availability improve.

It will be interesting to see how they handle the situation starting today as Lee is slated to play football against an NFC East rival.

Tell me what you think about "How Will Cowboys Handle Sean Lee’s Return?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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Game Notes

Cowboys Wishlist: Big Return on Special Teams?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Jaguars

The last time the Dallas Cowboys played a football game, they made many of their fans' dreams come true. This happened by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 40-7 in a dominant performance against a top NFL defense. Can they make our wishes come true in back-to-back weeks? I don't know about walking away with another 33-point win, but we're obviously putting up a Cowboys Wishlist as every gameday.

Let's hope they come true. As always, I hope you enjoy this week's edition of Cowboys Wishlist!

Wish #1: First Road Win of the Season

I mean, we obviously are wishing for a win. But this one right here would be a very important one, so I'm including it as a wish. The Cowboys haven't won any game on the road this year and doing so in Washington against a hated NFC East rival like the Redskins will be huge for this 3-3 Dallas Cowboys team.

Last Sunday's victory over the Jaguars might have been the moment when the Cowboys "turned the corner" to become a winning team in 2018. It's time to go on the road and beat a 3-2 divisional foe to prove that is the case.

Wish #2: Beasley Keeps It Up

The Cowboys' MVP last weekend was Cole Beasley. He was the only wide receiver on the team with more than one catch, ending his day with nine receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns. It was one of the best performances in his career yet.

The Cowboys need a WR to step up. Other than Cole, no one else is stepping up in the passing game. Beasley did so last Sunday but, can he consistently perform well enough to keep the offense going throughout the year? It remains to be seen.

For the long term, it might be better to have an outside, taller receiver be your #1 guy, but in the meantime, Beasley is the guy Dak Prescott should be targeting the most.

Lookout Deshaun Watson, QB Sack Leader DeMarcus Lawrence is Coming!

Wish #3: The Sack Hat Trick

Ok, I might be asking for too much here. But hear me out. The Dallas Cowboys defensive line is getting stronger and stronger. Just last week, David Irving returned to the field and got limited playing time. Although he didn't get a sack, his impact was felt since his first snap on the field.

Randy Gregory also saw limited playing time but was able to sack Blake Bortles once. And well, DeMarcus Lawrence is still playing at an elite level this year. How epic would it be for each of these three great pass rushers walk away with a sack?

Three headhunters, three sacks. Let's go!

Wish #4: Keep Redskins Under 10 Points

The Cowboys' defense is no joke. They're allowing 17.2 points per game, which is second best in the entire NFL right now. They're ready to face a Redskins' team that is ranked as the 25th offense in scoring. On top of that, the Redskins' receivers are pretty banged up.

Jon Machota on Twitter

3 of Washington's top 4 receivers (Chris Thompson, Paul Richardson, Jamison Crowder) not expected to play vs. Cowboys https://t.co/9uOkA7Pzhv

This could end up being the second consecutive big win for the Cowboys, specially because the defense should have a very good day.

Wish #5: Big Return on Special Teams

The last time the Dallas Cowboys played the Washington Redskins, Ryan Switzer returned a punt 83 yards into the end zone in what will remain his biggest highlight from his short career with the Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas Cowboys Wishlist at Philadelphia Eagles

Dallas Cowboys WR Ryan Switzer (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

We haven't seen much excitement on special teams this year. Switzer is now a Pittsburgh Steeler, so Tavon Austin has gotten most of the punt returns. However, that's bound to change after he sustained an unfortunate injury. Deonte Thompson has taken care of the kick returns but nothing special has happened either.

I wish that changes today. With Austin out, I wonder if it'll be Cole Beasley or someone else fielding punts for Dallas but whoever it is, things will be spiced up. Through 6 weeks, the Cowboys longest punt return has been for 22 yards and the longest kick return for 35.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Wishlist: Big Return on Special Teams?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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