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Is CB Nolan Carroll A Starter Or An Expensive Backup?

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - LISTEN: Jason Garrett Joins ESPN San Antonio's The Blitz

The Dallas Cowboys as an organization have done a really superb job of avoiding chasing some of the "big money" free agents over the past several off-seasons and instead focused on more cost-effective players that can fill specific roles with the team. Dallas followed that formula once again in 2017 with the signing of cornerback Nolan Carroll, but determining his specific defensive role is somewhat cloudy at the moment.

On March 11, 2017, the Dallas Cowboys decided to sign CB Nolan Carroll to a 3-year, $10 million contract. That's not exactly chump change considering he will make a little more than $3 million a season, but that is what middle-of-the-road starting CBs are going for on the open market.

With the departures of Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, the Cowboys absolutely had to address the position and they did so in both free agency and the draft. Carroll was likely brought into ensure the cupboard wasn't completely bare if Dallas failed to address the position with a starting caliber CB in the draft. But, we all know now that Dallas not only drafted one potential starting CB, but possibly three.

Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Marquez White all possess the traits you look for in starting CBs in the NFL. But, of the three, Awuzie and Lewis have the best chance to earn starting reps in 2017. At best, White earns one of the last remaining roster spots when the Cowboys get down to their 53-man roster, and at the worst he ends up on the practice squad.

Now, if you're playing the numbers game like I am, then you're trying to figure out how many CBs the Cowboys carry on the roster and who deserves to start? This is something I've put quite a bit of thought into, which is why I started wondering if Nolan Carroll is a starting CB or just an expensive backup?

Nolan CarrollThis is how I see things right now. I have Orlando Scandrick and Anthony Brown as my surefire locks as the Cowboy starting cornerbacks when the season kicks off. Brown played spectacularly in 2016 as a rookie and deserves a chance to build upon his success as a starter. Scandrick is either going to be the starting slot CB or he could start on the outside instead.

If you're counting, that essentially leaves only one starting CB spot up for grabs between Carroll, Awuzie, Lewis, or White. That is why this is shaping up to be one of the most watched position battles throughout training camp for Cowboys' fans.

Nolan Carroll has been a serviceable CB so far in his NFL career, but he is still going to have to clearly outplay his competition if he wants to be a starter for the Cowboys. That might be easier said than done.

Chidobe Awuzie is a talented player with the versatility to play any position in the Cowboys' secondary. The coaching staff already has him learning several different positions, outside CB be one of them. If he proves he is clearly better than Carroll, he is likely starting opposite Anthony Brown on the outside this season.

Of course, Awuzie's versatility could also have him in play at safety. That would once again open things up for Carroll to become the starting outside CB, but remember what I said before, Orlando Scandrick is still in play there as well.

Jourdan Lewis

Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Jourdan Lewis could have a lot to say about where Scandrick plays a 2017. Lewis is expected to compete with #32 to become the top dog at the slot CB position, and if he wins out it could push Scandrick to the outside.

So, you can see the confusion about exactly where Nolan Carroll fits in and whether or not he will be a starter this season. But, it is a good problem to have considering the position is pretty much being overhauled.

The Dallas Cowboys can go a number of different directions when determining who the starting cornerbacks will be in 2017 because of all of the versatility they now have. But, we will just all have to wait and see how everything finally shakes out when training camp practices get underway.

Do you think Nolan Carroll is a starter or expensive backup?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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6 Comments
  • Jess Haynie

    Considering I wrote this a few weeks ago, I think you know where I stand….

    https://insidethestar.com/cowboys-release-cb-nolan-carroll-week-1/

    • Brian Martin

      Great minds think alike

      • Landon Sparkman

        I enjoy reading the work of both of you. This is such a great problem to have given the passing attacks we will face in our own division. We also get to deal with ATL and GB…..possibly once again in January.

        • Brian Martin

          Landon, thanks for the compliment. I agree with you. This is a great problem to have.

  • John Williams

    I think the Rookies and Anthony Brown are going to have to take the job outright from Carroll and Scandrick. It seems that the coaches really like to have veteran presences on the field.

    With as much as this team played that 3-2-6 alignment in 2016, I could see the following scenario take place.

    DL – Irving, Collins, Taco
    LB – Lee and Heath (Good in coverage, also a good blitzer)
    CB – Brown and Awuzie on the outside, Lewis and Scan in the slot
    S – Jones and Woods (both have good range and good ball instincts.

    With as deep as they are in the defensive backfield, I would love to see something like this. Get your best coverage/playmakers on the field as much as you can.

    • Brian Martin

      I could see that scenario playing out.

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: ¿Dónde Tiene Que Mejorar Dallas?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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

El mejor juego de los Dallas Cowboys en 2018 vino la semana pasada, cuando recibieron a los Jacksonville Jaguars y los vencieron 40-7. Un resultado que tomó a todos por sorpresa demostró la mejor cara en el año de este equipo que apenas tiene un récord de 3-3.

Por más dominantes que se vieron en el emparrillado el domingo pasado, esa actuación no termina de reflejar lo que realmente son los Cowboys. Son un equipo con potencial en la ofensiva y con una defensiva bastante fuerte, pero ¿pueden ganar constantemente como lo hicieron contra Jaguars?

De entrada, la respuesta a esta pregunta parece ser no. Aún en esa victoria, se vieron problemas evidentes en la ofensiva. Para empezar, la falta de ejecución en la segunda mitad en series ofensivas que incluso llegaron a iniciar en territorio enemigo. De gol de campo en gol de campo se juntan puntos, sin duda, pero en partidos cerrados eso termina costando victorias. Hace falta que Dak Prescott y compañía puedan mover el balón una vez en rango de gol de campo y convertir esas oportunidades a touchdowns.

Otra preocupación que no podemos subestimar es que el juego aéreo sigue sin funcionar apropiadamente. Cole Beasley dominó con nueve atrapadas para 101 yardas y dos touchdowns, pero el resto de los receptores se fueron sin  más de una recepción por cabeza. El único jugador que logró más de una fue el TE Geoff Swaim, quien se llevo dos en todo el juego.

Si bien Beasley tuvo uno de los mejores juegos en su carrera, más receptores tienen que involucrarse para llevar la ofensiva al siguiente nivel. La buena noticia es que en esta ocasión se enfrentaron contra una de las mejores secundarias en la NFL. Los números son malos, pero tienen la oportunidad de demostrar mucho más contra otras defensivas.

Los Dallas Cowboys tienen que repartir más la bola y seguir buscando maneras creativas de utilizar a su RB Ezekiel Elliott. Pases pantallas en tercera y largo no es ser creativo. Lo vemos funcionar dos o tres veces al año pero mandan esta jugada semanalmente. En cuanto a Dak Prescott, hay mucho donde mejorar. Deberíamos estar viendo pases más arriesgados, al centro del campo y mucho mejor posicionados.

Sean's Scout: Measuring Randy Gregory's Potential Impact on Cowboys Defense

Para la defensiva, las cosas se ven muy bien. Puede que veamos la mejor versión de esta unidad esta semana, cuando viajen a Washington. Maliek Collins, Sean Lee, David Irving, y Randy Gregory estarán jugando mucho más sanos y preparados. Este es un frente defensivo lleno de talento que intimidará constantemente a Alex Smith este domingo.

A pesar de que los Redskins no tienen una ofensiva muy explosiva, el área de oportunidad principal para la defensiva de Cowboys está en la profundidad defensiva. Tanto Jeff Heath como Xavier Woods han hecho un trabajo decente, pero tienen sus momentos en los que no logran asegurar una tackleada y permiten jugadas largas.

Hace unos meses no esperábamos que fuera la defensiva y no la ofensiva la que cargaría a este equipo a muchas victorias, pero ese ha sido el caso en las tres victorias de esta temporada. Y en las tres derrotas, la defensiva fue la que mantuvo a los Cowboys en el juego.

Sin duda alguna, lo que tiene que mejorar es la ofensiva. Los receptores tienen que desmarcarse, Prescott debe ser más preciso y tener una mejor conciencia en la bolsa de protección.

Pero sobre todo, es la inconsistencia del equipo. Esto se comienza a sentir como la temporada del año pasado, cuando los Cowboys se fueron 9-7 y nunca terminaron de establecerse como contendientes a los playoffs. Aún en una NFC East donde todos los equipos tienen récords similares y débiles, no pueden continuar perdiendo una semana y  ganando a la otra.

Ganarle a los Redskins sería la primera victoria de Dallas jugando de visita. También sería la primera vez en el año en la que tendrían victorias consecutivas. Por esto y muchas otras razones, incluyendo el potencial liderato de la división, este juego es de suma importancia.

Si ganan, podría ser el momento en el que los Cowboys terminen de darle la vuelta a la página y si pierden, podría ser un indicador de que esta temporada será igual que la del 2017.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: ¿Dónde Tiene Que Mejorar Dallas?" 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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Star Blog

Time to get FB Jamize Olawale More Involved Offensively?

Brian Martin

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Time to get FB Jamize Olawale More Involved Offensively?

The Dallas Cowboys are coming off arguably their best and most complete offensive performance of the season after playing the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, but there is still quite a bit of improvement that can be made. The need to get more playmakers involved is apparent, which is why I think it's time to utilize Fullback Jamize Olawale's unique skill set.

I know many of you will argue that getting Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup going is a higher priority, and you wouldn't be wrong, but Jamize Olawale's playmaking ability could be a huge asset for Quarterback Dak Prescott and the offense. I know it sounds a little strange, but hang in there with me for little bit.

As things stand right now, Olawale has only played 38 offensive snaps (10%) in 2018. That's the exact amount of offensive plays Wide Receiver Terrance Williams has played this year and he's missed the majority of the season. It's not exactly the kind of production I was expecting when the Cowboys decided to bring him aboard via trade with the Oakland Raiders earlier this offseason.

I don't know about you, but I was expecting Olawale to be more involved in the offensive game plan. He is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and isn't too shabby as a runner either. But, we haven't seen him utilized in either fashion this season and I think that's an injustice that needs to be corrected.

Now, I fully understand there are other offensive weapons ahead of him in the pecking order who need to see more targets, but I also really think he can make a difference maker, especially in the passing game. That is where his strengths lie, not as a lead blocking fullback.

Jamize Olawale

Dallas Cowboys FB Jamize Olawale

Olawale was a bit of a Swiss Army knife during his time with the Oakland Raiders. He played a little running back, fullback, tight end, and even a little slot receiver. I really thought the Cowboys would take advantage of his versatility in the passing game, but as of yet they have failed to do so.

I'd like to see the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan utilize Jamize Olawale's unique playmaking ability a little bit more on offense. I think they should try to utilize him like the San Francisco 49ers use their fullback, Kyle Juszczyk. He's much more involved and has played a total of 263 offensive snaps (63.68%) this year.

Juszczyk is a better lead blocking FB then Olawale, but that's not where he makes the most difference in the 49ers offense. He does it as a receiver and has already caught 17 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown. That's some pretty solid production from a position that is being phased out in the NFL.

Now, just imagine the Cowboys offense getting similar production from Olawale and how that would help open up things for everybody else. It's not out of the realm of possibility because the 49ers offense and the Cowboys isn't all that dissimilar.

Unfortunately, I think Jamize Olawale is pretty much an afterthought in the Cowboys offense right now. It's truly unfortunate because I think he can be a difference maker if given the opportunity. And with a division foe like the Washington Redskins next on the schedule, what better time to unleash a new and unseen element of the offense?

Do you think Jamize Olawale needs to be more involved offensively?



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Cole Beasley Key to Cowboys Passing Game Productivity?

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Jaguars 1

What most of us already knew was confirmed last Sunday afternoon against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wide Receiver Cole Beasley is the Dallas Cowboys best receiver and is the key to the passing game productivity. He is not only the most productive, but the most consistent.

Cole Beasley isn't the tallest or the fastest and definitely doesn't look like a prototypical NFL receiver, but he showed last week against the Jaguars why opposing defenses have to account for him on every single play. He torched Jacksonville's top-ranked passing defense for 101 yards on nine catches and added two touchdowns, and it's that production that could help open up the entire passing game for the Cowboys.

It's painfully obvious Cole Beasley has been Dak Prescott's favorite target in the passing game since he took over the starting duties in 2016. Once opposing defenses figured that out they started to make things extremely difficult by bracketing Beasley in coverage and the passing game hasn't been the same since. But, that could be changing if the Jaguars game was an indication of what we might see moving forward.

Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan did a much better job of moving Beasley around to create favorable matchups against the Jaguars. I think we will see much more of that moving forward, but that likely means opposing defenses will once again try to take away Prescott's favorite target. That actually could end up helping the Cowboys passing game though.

Dak Prescott, Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

If opposing defenses indeed try to contain Cole Beasley like they've done in the past, it should help provide more opportunities for Dallas' other pass catchers. Spreading the ball around to several different receivers would not only help Prescott and the passing game, but also open up the entire offense.

We haven't really seen much of Allen Hurns or Michael Gallup this season, but both are more than capable of being more productive if they are seeing single coverage more often. That's what's likely to happen if defenses bracket Beasley in coverage once again. Both WRs need to be more involved anyway and Beasley's recent spike in production could help do just that.

Now, if defenses decide to try and cover Beasley one-on-one like the Jaguars did quite a bit of last Sunday, the Cowboys would be wise to take advantage of that mismatch. He simply can't be covered by a single defensive back because of his precise route running ability. He is that good.

Regardless of how opposing defenses try to handle/contain Cole Beasley, he is without a doubt key to the Dallas Cowboys passing game productivity. Just the threat of him on the field changes a defenses approach, which is why he is Dallas' #1  WR in my book. He absolutely has to be more involved moving forward, even if it is as a decoy.

Do you think Cole Beasley is the key to the Cowboys passing game productivity?



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