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Is it Time for the Cowboys to Move On From Xavier Woods?

It’s been a question that’s been asked for years now. “When are the Dallas Cowboys going to address the safety position?”. Donovan Wilson emerged in 2020 with a stellar second year that saw him register 71 tackles, 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries in 10 starts. He’s set to be the starter at strong safety for the foreseeable future, however, there’s a big question mark opposite him at the free safety position.

2020 was a contract season for Xavier Woods. He recorded over 70 tackles for the second consecutive season. However, he was a liability in coverage far too often. Woods has always been able to lay the big hit, but he hasn’t been a consistent playmaker at free safety, and that was on full display, unfortunately, in 2020.

Woods was only credited with one pass deflection this season. What’s even worse, he didn’t record a single interception, forced fumble, or fumble recovery. The Cowboys will run a single-high safety scheme under new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn which requires the free safety to be able to be a center fielder and make plays in the deep passing game and patrol sideline to sideline. Unfortunately, Woods hasn’t shown the ability to that regularly.

NFL Media Analyst Bucky Brooks addressed the challenges the Cowboys face under Quinn’s scheme without a top-flight free safety, and it spoke to what Wood’s lacks in his game.

“If the Cowboys are planning to succeed with Quinn’s scheme, the front office needs to find a five-star free safety to make it work,” Brooks said last week, via the team’s website. “The free safety position is critical in a single-high safety scheme and the player occupying the role must be a centerfielder-type with an exceptional set of skills. From instincts and awareness to numbers to numbers range to ball skills and hands, the free safety in this defense must be more than the ornament on the top of the Christmas tree. He must be able to discourage quarterbacks from attacking down the field with his range and playmaking ability. In addition, the Cowboys’ prospective free safety should be a dependable tackler with the capacity to get big-bodied runners or shifty pass catchers to the ground in the open field. After ignoring the position for years, the Cowboys will need to make free safety a marquee position on the defensive priority list.”

What’s so surprising about Wood’s decline is that he was a playmaker in college. In his last three seasons at Louisiana Tech, Woods recorded 16 pass deflections, 14 interceptions, and six forced fumbles. For whatever reason, that has not been the case on the professional level.

Woods is an unrestricted free agent. He’s been reliable with 44 starts since 2018. Nonetheless, the decline in his performance after a promising start to his career can’t be denied, and if the Cowboys want their defense to bounce back from a historically bad 2020 outing, one of the moves may be to move on from Woods.

 

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Matthew Lenix

Written by Matthew Lenix

I write dope stuff about the Dallas Cowboys and what not.

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  1. Its bn time to move on from him, the build Woods up to be a ball hawk of some kind in college. We got minimal return on a 6th rd pick. Let him go and dnt try to sign him to a 1 yr prove it deal.

  2. Yes, let him go. He should not be starting and someone else will probably sign him for starting money. If he stayed as inexpensive depth then of course, keep him.

  3. Cowboys have needed a safety since Darren Woodson retired. Never understood why year after year they would purposely ignore the safety position and it always hurt them. Wilson reminds me of Roy Williams, big hitter with no coverage skills. Woodson was the perfect compliment to Williams his first few seasons there because he handled covering which allowed Williams to deliver big hits. We all saw what happened to him once Woodson retired. The same thing is going to happen with Wilson unless they finally find a legit safety. Fingers crossed.

  4. You know why Wayne ? It’s because when your football team is run by a BUSINESSMAN he will make moves that ULTIMATELY HELPS HIS BUSINESS , Safetys don’t sell tickets , it’s electric plays by young upcoming WRs or RBs and that’s why it’s been ignored since Woodson/Williams, though now in this draft there isn’t a safety we could take with 10th pick and justify it cuz there just isn’t one good enough to take there , I’d go CB with 10th pick Surtain/Farley, and with 2nd pick i’d go Safety , O-Line, or LB depending on best available there at that pick then go from there

  5. I’s go defense 1st, 2nd, and 3rd if valuable CB, S and DT or two are available, unless Tyrone Smith and or Collins are leaving. With as many as 10 picks and possibly moving dow in Round 1 for more picks they need to get a LB too. Please stop ignoring the Safety and 1 Technique positions.

  6. Every time I ask the question why the Cowboys refuse to take a top safety on the board, draft after draft, I’m told either “The Cowboys don’t value the Safety position to take a Safety that high” or “The Safety position has been devalued across the league.” I don’t get those statements at all. Yeah, Safety might not sell tickets but I’ll bet a top five defense would. From my eye test, teams that ” devalue” that position typically have a weaker defense and don’t do well in the playoffs. Again, that is My eye test. Your eyes may tell you something different. My Lord, draft after draft, the Cowboys have passed on top Safeties that have gone on to have stellar careers elsewhere. You would think having a Darren Woodson on the team would have been enough evidence to the GM to want to have that kind of presence at that position again. They keep ignoring the position and it keeps being the weakest link in the defense and it shows. Then, everyone begs to overpay for a declining free agent playing on two flat tires. When you take a Safety in the sixth round, that is close to being an undrafted player. Hell, I graduated from LA Tech and had high hopes for Woods but I would let him walk. There is no “right price” for a player that is not producing. Then, in this draft and every draft hereafter, I would take a top Safety until that position is solidified for the next 10 years. This is football. About the only position to “devalue” is the Punter if you have to devalue one.

  7. Here’s how I have viewed the Cowboys’ drafts. Ignore the interior line positions until the fourth round. Ignore the linebackers until the second round then take one that is injured and not able to contribute for at least a season of longer while they rehab. LVE was an exception but the injury question was there coming out of college and he has missed significant time with injuries. Ignore/pass up all top safeties on the board. What do you get? The Browns, using their second string player, gash you for 320 yards up the gut. This happened game in and game out. It’s been happening for too long. I know some of it is the DC and scheme but most of it is the players. You ignore those positions, this is what happens. I’m old school and believe you build a team from the inside out. Gallimore is a step in the right direction but not the only step. If healthy, and that’s a big if, the linebackers are serviceable. But, the linebackers are not healthy. One has a knee problem, one has a neck problem, one needs to retire and you need a weak side linebacker.The Safety position needs a top player. That will start to fix this sh*t show of a defense. And, it’s only a start as we all know. But waiting until the sixth round to take a Safety and then think you will strike Brady gold is unreasonable. It can happen but it just doesn’t happen enough to help this team.

  8. Until there is a consistent pass rush, the Cowboys NEED a BCB, a FS1, a true WLB & MB (healthy) that can stay on the field. Then, they can use a LT, LG & RT and true 3T that can pressure from the middle while at least SLOWING DOWN the run. They also NEED to bring in Sherman to play BCB until the rookie gets it and teach the DBs how to play together. If they get a pass rush with those improvements, they will be a top 10 TEAM.

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