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Is Terrance Williams Ready To Fight For His Job?

The Dallas Cowboys will have a lot of position battles that will be interesting to keep track of throughout the remainder of the off-season. One position battle that I know I will be keeping a close eye on will be at wide receiver. There is a lot of speculation that Terrance Williams might get demoted if Brice Butler steps up his game the way a lot of people are expecting. Butler showed quite a few flashes in 2015 that he can be a valued member on offense, but he also struggled with reoccurring injuries throughout the season. I’m actually looking forward to see what Butler can do with a full off-season with the Cowboys organization and hopefully a better chance to develop a bond with quarterback Tony Romo.

Brian Martin

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The Dallas Cowboys will have a lot of position battles that will be interesting to keep track of throughout the remainder of the off-season. One position battle that I know I will be keeping a close eye on will be at wide receiver.

There is a lot of speculation that Terrance Williams might get demoted if Brice Butler steps up his game the way a lot of people are expecting.

Butler showed quite a few flashes in 2015 that he can be a valued member on offense, but he also struggled with reoccurring injuries throughout the season.

I'm actually looking forward to see what Butler can do with a full off-season with the Cowboys organization and hopefully a better chance to develop a bond with quarterback Tony Romo.

There's something about Butler's game that is intriguing and I think that's one of the main reasons why a lot of people believe he could push Williams for that #2 wide receiver spot opposite Dez Bryant.

I don't expect Terrance Williams to go down without a fight and I'm not even sure if it will be that close of a battle.

Williams has a lot of things going for him that Butler doesn't. He has already established a good working bond with his quarterback and he has the experience and knowledge in offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's scheme.

Those things alone give him a huge advantage over Butler, especially since he already has that strong working bond with Romo and the trust between the two players can't be discounted either.

Cowboys Headlines - Is Terrance Williams Ready To Fight For His Job?Let's not forget the fact that Williams has been a really solid wide receiver playing opposite Dez Bryant since entering the league in 2013.

Here is a look at his statistics over his first three years in the NFL.

Season

Receptions

Yards

TDs

2015 52 840 3
2014 37 621 8
2013 44 736 5

A lot of teams around the NFL would love to have a #2 wide receiver with those kind of numbers. There's something to be said about consistency and you can't deny that Williams has been a consistent WR for the Cowboys.

I personally think that a lot of this talk about Terrance Williams is based on the unfair expectations that were placed on him when Dez Bryant went down with an injury in 2015.

Nearly everybody wanted Williams to be able to step up and fill the shoes left by Bryant, but that's simply not his game.

Terrance Williams isn't a #1 WR in the NFL, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. He has proven that he can be a dangerous enough threat so that Bryant isn't double covered the majority of the game and that is one of the underrated jobs of a #2 WR.

Another thing that I really like about Williams is that he is willing to do the dirty work in the running game and block down the field. That is something that could come in handy in 2016 with Ezekiel Elliott toting the rock.

In fact, the 2014 season was perhaps Williams best year and that's when the Cowboys were relying heavily on DeMarco Murray and the running game. I expect that they will get back to that blueprint in 2016 with Elliott.

If I'm being completely honest though, the only thing that really frustrates me about Williams' game is that he is a body catcher.

I can't tell you how much it irritates me to see wide receivers catch with their body instead of using their hands. Body catchers usually have to slow down and stop the routes to catch the ball, but hand catchers are able to continue running through their routes without having to slow down the majority of the time.

All in all, I don't expect Terrance Williams to relinquish the #2 wide receiver job without putting up a fight and if I know one thing about Williams it is that he's a fighter.

He comes to work every day with an attitude to improve and it's that attitude that has made the former third-round draft pick out of Baylor a valued member in the Cowboys passing game.

While Brice Butler tries to convince the coaching staff for  the Cowboys that he is ready for a large role on offense, Williams will continue to go about his business and do what he has done since entering the league.

This would definitely be a position battle to keep track of, but don't expect Williams go down without a fight.

You can credit head coach Jason Garrett for creating competition throughout the roster and the Williams and Butler battle is just getting underway.

How do you see this position battle shaking out?

Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and comments. I look forward to discussing this topic further.



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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Geoff Swaim Needs Surgery, Should the Cowboys even use a Tight End?

John Williams

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Cowboys TE Geoff Swaim Quietly Exceeding Expectations? 1

Well, the injury woes continue to mount for the Dallas Cowboys with news coming down this evening that Tight End Geoff Swaim broke a bone in his wrist in the 22-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The injury will need surgery which will mean Swaim will be out a while, if not for the rest of the season.

David Helman on Twitter

Geoff Swaim broke a bone in his wrist yesterday and is going to need surgery. Sounds like it might not be season-ending, but he won't be available Thursday #cowboyswire

In previous seasons this wouldn't be much of a blow to the offense, but Geoff Swaim has been the only tight end that the Cowboys have ben able to rely on this season. Dalton Schultz is a rookie, Blake Jarwin's been inconsistent, and Rico Gathers still isn't fully trusted. With the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan's insistence on using a tight end, it seems there's a huge hole at the position heading into Sunday's first place showdown with the Washington Redskins.

But in reality, is there?

For weeks, I've been screaming for this team to use more 10 personnel (one running back and zero tight ends) as its primary passing formation because it gets their best pass catching weapons on the field at the same time. Swaim has been solid and consistent in his first year as a starter, but the rest of the tight end group has disappointed. So why even run a tight end out on the field.

The Dallas Cowboys have options that could replace the tight end in the passing game without actually using a tight end.

First, they could use Noah Brown as the de facto tight end. He's been one of the best blockers on the team in his first two seasons with the team and this is the type of role he's made for. Split him out wide and motion him in tight when you want to run. He can be a threat down the seem and in the red zone with his athleticism. He'd be a mismatch for the linebackers that try to cover him and could open space underneath for Cole Beasley. Brown is also a really good run blocker, so having him on the field doesn't negate what you want to do in the run game.

The other player the Cowboys coaching staff could work into more of the tight end route responsibilities is Allen Hurns. Hurns is a really good route runner, especially in the middle of the field, where the Dallas Cowboys haven't received a lot of production. You can put Hurns in as the fourth wide receiver and split him a couple of yards off the tackle to give him a cleaner release than a TE might get and have him run "Y-option," shallow post routes, or drags. He can be a threat in the passing game if put in situations where he can excel. See below for something Allen Hurns does really well.

Film Review: What's Up with Allen Hurns?

In fact, by going four wide receivers with Brown or Hurns on the field, it's possible the opposing defense is forced to run more of dime packages against the Dallas Cowboys 10 personnel.

Why would you want to get teams into dime packages?

Most NFL teams have two pretty good linebackers that they can deploy in nickel situations, but teams rarely have four corners that they can put on the field and feel really good about. So, if you can force teams to remove one of their 11 best players for a backup corner back or safety, you are already winning that matchup.

That matchup would also get you into much more favorable defensive fronts to run against. Even if the opposition put seven or eight in the box, it would be against smaller personnel like corners and safeties instead of a second linebacker.

Running 10 personnel as their base offense moving forward would be unconventional, but with an opportunity to take control of first place in the NFC East on Thanksgiving, now is not the time for conventionality.



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Cowboys WR Michael Gallup on Personal Leave; Team Offers Support

Jess Haynie

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Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys rookie receiver Michael Gallup suffered a personal tragedy on Sunday, being informed that his brother committed suicide. He is now on personal leave away from the team, and both Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett have given their full support to Gallup during this difficult time.

According to reports, Gallup was unaware of his brother's death until immediately after the Cowboys' win over the Atlanta Falcons. Michael did not return with the team to Dallas and remained in Atlanta to be with his family.

A formal statement was made by owner Jerry Jones yesterday regarding Gallup:

“Our team and our entire organization are deeply saddened by the news of Michael’s loss. His family is our family. We share in the grief and pain that comes with something so personal and tragic. We offer our support, care and comfort for Michael, and we ask that all of those who have sons and daughters and brothers and sisters join us in keeping Michael and his wonderful family in their thoughts and prayers.”

Throughout his time owning the Cowboys, Jerry has built a reputation for personal loyalty and compassion with his players. His head coach is no different.

As he addressed the media Monday, Jason Garrett did not get into football matters when addressing Gallup's situation:

“This is a very challenging time for him. We’ll take it moment by moment, day by day, and give him all of our love and all of our support.”

While Michael is certainly dealing with something far more important than football, his availability for Thursday's Thanksgiving game against the Washington Redskins does come into question.

The Cowboys have a short week to prepare for Washington, and Gallup has started their last five games. If the rookie has to sit, which seems probable given the timeframe, we can expect more playing time for Allen Hurns and Noah Brown.

Whatever happens happens on that front. Our focus is on Michael Gallup during this sad time, with him and his family in our collective thoughts as Cowboys fans and fellow humans.



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Wolf Hunter: Leighton Vander Esch’s Pass Coverage Skills Rising to Occasion

Sean Martin

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Wolf Hunter: Leighton Vander Esch's Pass Coverage Skills Rising to Occasion 1

The Dallas Cowboys know what they're doing when it comes to the NFL Draft. Not to be outdone by Philadelphia, the Cowboys brought the 2018 Draft to AT&T Stadium, marking the first time the event's been held in an NFL stadium. This made Boise State Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch the first player to be drafted on the field he now calls home. Returning home this week after two straight interceptions against the Eagles and Falcons, Vander Esch is far from the controversial pick that drew jeers inside AT&T Stadium on draft night and every bit the star the Cowboys projected him to be.

The ascension of Leighton "Wolf Hunter" Vander Esch as one of the best young linebackers in the game has happened rapidly. LVE played eight man football in high school, tasked to do everything on both sides of the ball before settling into defense as a walk onto the blue turf.

For the first time in what seems like forever, the Cowboys have more than just a plan to play defense without Sean Lee. Thanks to their 19th overall pick they're thriving as one of the best units in the league, making Lee an afterthought.

Wolf Hunter: Leighton Vander Esch's Pass Coverage Skills Rising to Occasion

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch

Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith have changed the entire makeup of the Cowboys defense, two young and athletic linebackers that should be roaming the middle of the field for a long time in Dallas.

This is exactly what LVE was able to do on his interceptions of both Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan. Vander Esch defending well against the pass is probably the least surprising part of his development, as his coverage skills always overshadowed his strength against the run in college.

It just so happens that Vander Esch tallied 63 tackles in eight games before recording his first career interception, establishing himself as an all-around linebacker with no true weakness. Vander Esch has played with the power and block shedding ability that matches his sideline to sideline range and instincts, as opposing offenses have done little to slow the Cowboys new leader on defense.

LVE2

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This is Vander Esch's first interception, which set up a Cowboys field goal against the Eagles. Watch as Leighton reads the eyes of Wentz through the play, first angling towards his check down throw and then gaining depth to intercept the pass.

The subtle yet effective movements from Vander Esch to undercut Wentz's throw is a fine example of how quickly LVE has picked up on Kris Richard's defense, as well as the next level game speed.

LVE1

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Sunday's interception from Vander Esch was the type of game breaking play the Cowboys needed to separate from the Falcons in hostile territory. Although the Falcons would rally to tie the game after this point, the Cowboys defense became the first to hold Atlanta under 20 points at home this season, thanks in large part to LVE as always.

The smoothness from Vander Esch on this play is exceptional, stepping up into coverage against the running back before sprinting back in position for the turnover. Calvin Ridley, drafted seven picks after Vander Esch, helps Leighton by letting Ryan's pass go through his hands.

Give Vander Esch credit for being in the right place at the right time and finishing the play. Every week, the rookie finds a way to do something memorable, and in helping the Cowboys earn their first two road wins of 2018 he finally flashed in pass coverage.

The next challenge for the Cowboys defense comes on a short week, against the division leading Washington Redskins. Though they lost starting Quarterback Alex Smith for the season on Sunday, expected to start Colt McCoy on Thanksgiving, it was Running Back Adrian Peterson that gashed the Cowboys for 4.13 yards a carry and 99 total yards in the Redskins week six win over Dallas.

Given what not only Leighton Vander Esch but the rest of the Cowboys defense has shown against the run in recent weeks, all without David Irving and most recently without either Antwaun Woods or Daniel Ross, the Cowboys should certainly be prepared to play for first place in the NFC East on Thursday.

Tell us what you think about "Wolf Hunter: Leighton Vander Esch’s Pass Coverage Skills Rising to Occasion" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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