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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?

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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

Should Cowboys Be Concerned About Ezekiel Elliott Long-Term?

Brian Martin

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Should Cowboys Be Concerned About Ezekiel Elliott's Future?

It’s funny how quickly some players are able to establish themselves as professional athletes and grow their fan base. That is exactly what Ezekiel Elliott has done in just a little over a years time since becoming a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately, given his current situation, it’s that fan base that might be starting to turn on him a little and doubt his long-term future in the NFL.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are fully aware of the six-game suspension the NFL slapped Ezekiel Elliott with based on nothing more than accusations of possible domestic violence. Right or wrong, guilty or innocent, it happened and there is no taking it back. But unfortunately, because of the suspension Elliott will now have to walk the straight and narrow if he wants to have any kind of career in the NFL.

I honestly don’t think Ezekiel Elliott is a bad guy, but the slightest slip up will more than likely put his career in jeopardy. It doesn’t matter how big or small the infraction, the NFL has already decided they are going to make an example of him.

RB Ezekiel ElliottFrom here on out, Elliott is going to have to live like he is under a magnifying glass. Any kind of slip up, big or small, will likely cause the league to suspend him an entire season. This unfortunately has been weighing on the minds of a lot of Cowboys Nation and has to be at least a little bit concerning for the Cowboys organization.

You see, the Dallas Cowboys have Elliott under contract for at least three more years after this season. He has already proven how important he is to the offense and how much production dips without him in the lineup. They absolutely want him on the field because he makes them better. But, any kind of slip up would pretty much erase one of those three years. Look no further than what has happened with Randy Gregory.

I’ve heard many fans voicing their concerns about Ezekiel Elliott’s long-term availability with the Cowboys. They are afraid Elliott’s immaturity will end up getting the best of him and Zeke unfortunately has done nothing to ease those concerns so far.

I for one am not all that concerned about Zeke’s future in the NFL. I think his six-game suspension has served as an eye-opening experience and that he will do better from here on out to put himself in better situations and surround himself with better/more trustworthy people.

Dak Prescott, Ezekiel ElliottYou can see anytime Zeke is on the field his passion for the game and how much he enjoys it. I don’t think he’s going to put something he cares so much about in jeopardy. But unfortunately, he already has a bull’s-eye on his back and can’t afford to take a misstep. That will without a doubt put his future career in jeopardy.

I personally can’t wait to see how #21 responds when he is able to suit up once again next week against the Seattle Seahawks. I think he is going to play with a chip on his shoulder and run angry. That is the best way he can stick it to the league for suspending him based on accusations and another reason why I’m not concerned about his future in the NFL.

I know if it was me, my mindset would be to turn myself into the best player possible and once again become one of the more popular athletes in the league. That is about the only way he can say “F U” to the league, and I think that’s exactly what he will do.

Are you concerned about Ezekiel Elliott long-term?

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Star Blog

A Cowboys Win vs Giants Can’t Be Taken For Granted

Mauricio Rodriguez

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A Cowboys Win vs Giants Can't Be Taken For Granted 1

The Dallas Cowboys are coming from a bounce-back win versus the Washington Redskins in which they blew out their divisional rivals 38-14. The New York Giants are coming from a week in which Head Coach Ben McAdoo and General Manager Jerry Reese were fired. The former is 6-6, and the latter is 2-10. You tell me which organization is getting the W this Sunday.

Easy, right? Well, no. Not really.

All week long, most of Cowboys Nation has been taking this win for granted. Understandably so, since New York is only a two-win team. However, this is certainly one of those games with a “trap game” feel to it.

It wouldn’t be the first time we see a football team being led by a new coach to a surprise victory. Hell, we saw a very similar situation when Jason Garrett debuted as the Cowboys interim head coach in 2010… against the Giants. 

 Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee, New York Giants QB Eli Manning  Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

On top of that, you have Eli Manning back at the wheel after he was benched for Geno Smith a week ago. Even though the guy who made that decision is out of the picture, you have to imagine the veteran quarterback will go out to play with a chip on his shoulder.

And if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, this Cowboys’ team still has a lot to prove. Let’s not forget the fact that they lost three consecutive weeks. That’s why we´re trying to find which NFC teams need to lose certain games. Because the Dallas Cowboys put themselves in this position.

Dak Prescott is the future for this franchise, and despite having some tough games this year, I still believe he’s the guy. However, as Staff Writer Kevin Brady recently wrote here at Inside The Star, Dak Prescott must overcome his struggles when facing the Giants:

“Prescott played his worst game of that spectacular rookie season when he traveled to East Rutherford, New Jersey as the Cowboys prolific offense was only able to score 7 points during their key loss.”

Although they have a 2-10 record, the Giants’ defense shouldn’t be underestimated. They still have personnel that can give the Cowboys’ offense a bit of trouble, especially without Ezekiel Elliott running the ball.

Sean Lee should be ready to go this week, and while many discuss whether or not the coaching staff should give him an extra week of rest, the truth is that’s something the Cowboys can’t risk to do. At the end of the day, lose one game and forget about playing in January.

You need 50 on the field. If at some point in the second half they manage to get a big-lead, securing a win, then let’s hope they take him off the field and let the guy rest. But until then, Sean Lee should be playing.

Will Chidobe Awuzie's Return Benefit The Cowboys Defense?

Dallas Cowboys’ Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Dallas is expected to start three rookies at cornerback. Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Wood could be the guys who line up to start the game in New York. Naturally, this is the case because they’ve proven to be solid players.

But it’s inevitable to be a bit scared of this situation when you’re facing Eli Manning. Say what you want about him, but you never know what might happen when a player like that is on the other side of the field.

I’m picking the Cowboys to win this football games for at least a touchdown. But let’s not think of this game as if it were the Browns. If this ends up being a trap game and the Cowboys manage to get their seventh loss of the year, it’s over.

We’re 14 weeks into the season and it feels like we don’t know what this team is capable of doing with Sean Lee, Tyron Smith and Ezekiel Elliott starting at the same time. But this week will prove a lot of things about the Cowboys and their quest for the Playoffs.

Tell me what you think about “A Cowboys Win vs Giants Can’t Be Taken For Granted” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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

Week 14 Playoff Projection: Cowboys Still In Striking Distance

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys en Español: Dak Prescott #14 Según los Jugadores, ¿Realmente Lo Es? 1

The Cowboys are one of three 6-6 teams still hoping to find a way into the NFC playoffs. Even if they win out and get to 10-6, they will need help based on tiebreakers and the superior records of the teams ahead of them.

Last night, Dallas’ hopes took a kick in the teeth when the Atlanta Falcons defeated the New Orleans Saints. Atlanta not only moved to 8-5 but also holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys, making them a major threat in the Wild Card race. The Falcons need to start losing, fast, for Dallas to have a shot at overtaking them.

Atlanta’s not the only team that Dallas should be concerned about, though. Here are the current NFC playoff standings, including last night’s result:

  1. Minnesota Vikings (10-2)
  2. Philadelphia Eagles (10-2)
  3. Los Angeles Rams (9-3)
  4. New Orleans Saints (9-4)
  5. Seattle Seahawks (8-4)
  6. Carolina Panthers (8-4)
    ————————————–
  7. Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
  8. Detroit Lions (6-6)
  9. Green Bay Packers (6-6)
  10. Dallas Cowboys (6-6)

TIEBREAKERS

  • The Vikings are ahead of the Eagles thanks to the common game tiebreaker, since they are both 8-1 against NFC opponents.
  • Seattle (6-3) is ahead of Carolina (4-4) thanks to a better record in NFC games.
  • Detroit has a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Packers and a common games tiebreaker over the Cowboys.
  • Green Bay has a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys.

With the Falcons’ win over New Orleans already in the books, here are the other playoff-relevant games for the NFC in Week 14.

Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants

This is the easiest game let on Dallas’ schedule (assuming Philly doesn’t rest starters in Week 17). The Giants will have a new coach and have changed back to Eli Manning as the starting QB. Will they be galvanized by these changes or only in even greater disarray? We certainly hope for the latter.

Green Bay Packers @ Cleveland Browns

At 6-6 and with Aaron Rodgers potentially returning next week, the Packers are looming as a real threat. They have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Dallas from a win earlier this year. The hapless Browns winning this one is certainly faint hope, but it’s still Brett Hundley out there at QB instead of one of the league’s MVPs.

Detroit Lions @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The other team in the 6-6 tie, Detroit needs to go away. The Bucs are 4-8 and a non-factor now, so we can root for the pirate people without hesitation.

Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers

The Panthers are another key target for us in the Wild Card race. Minnesota should run away with the NFC North, so they’re a non-factor for Dallas’ concerns. A Carolina loss is clearly better for Dallas, dropping the Panthers to 8-5 and within reasonable range with three weeks left to go.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Los Angeles Rams

Last week, Dallas fans were put in the unfortunate position of having to root for the Eagles against the Seahawks to help our playoff chances. We’re back in that same boat this week as a Rams’s loss would be more damaging for the Cowboys than Philly losing.

Because L.A. has a head-to-head tiebreaker over Dallas, our best bet is for them to win the NFC West and stay out of our way. We have a much better shot at catching the Seahawks, especially since we get to play them in Week 16 when Ezekiel Elliott returns.

Seattle Seahawks @ Jacksonville Jaguars

So yeah, as just said, the Seahawks are one of the teams we have the best chance of beating out for a playoff spot. Last week’s win over Philly hurt, but a road loss against the 8-4 Jaguars is certainly possible and would go a long way to helping our cause.

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