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Jason Garrett’s Seventh Season Raises Expectations

John Williams

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Jason Garrett
AP Photo / Scott Eklund

The Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys almost always seems to be on the hot seat. For Jason Garrett, that has been true nearly his entire tenure. There is a segment of the Dallas Cowboys media and fan base that has been so spoiled by the Super Bowl Championships of the 70s and 90s that anything less than that is a catastrophic season.

For those of us who are a bit younger and/or newer fans of the team, we’ve seen the flip side of the greatness that made the Dallas Cowboys America’s Team.

For many of us, Jason Garrett’s tenure has been the best run of success that any of us has known. I didn’t become a fan until the Dave Campo era, and we all know what a disaster that was. Bill Parcells was good, but didn’t deliver the high hopes for success that many in Cowboys Nation were hoping for.

We seemed to like Wade Phillips the person more than Wade Phillips the football coach, and it’s clear that he’s much more suited for his coordinator role than as the head coach.

Who Will Be The Cowboys Training Camp Standout In 2017?

Jun 13, 2017; Frisco, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett watches his team stretch during minicamp at The Star at Cowboys World Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

That brings us to Jason Garrett, whose teams in the early going were very top-heavy with talent and had little depth.

Those first three years were quite frustrating. The Cowboys were on the brink of the playoffs for three straight years, only to lose in week 17 each time and head home early.

In 2014, Garrett and the Cowboys far exceeded expectations and looked primed to advance to the NFC Championship game (and perhaps the Super Bowl), and yet had to go home earlier than we expected.

2015 was a disaster of the highest order. The team was able to hang around until late in the season — despite horrendous quarterback play — because of the ineptitude of the NFC East.

2016 looked to be a disaster after what happened to Tony Romo in week three of the preseason when he injured his back, yet again, and the Cowboys turned to rookie Dak Prescott to lead the team. 2016 was a magical season up until the slow start by the team at home against Green Bay that they couldn’t fully recover from.

That brings us to 2017.

The expectations for the Dallas Cowboys have reached some epic proportions. While many around the NFL have soured on the Cowboys and decided to follow the “sophomore slump” narrative, many — including Vegas — have the Cowboys as a serious Super Bowl contender.

Dallas has been as high as 7-1 to win the Super Bowl next February and now sit with the third best odds at 8-1.

While we all hope for a Super Bowl, the reality is that only one of the 32 teams in the NFL will get to raise the Lombardi Trophy. As we’ve seen in Dallas in two of the last three years, even when you’re the favorite, things don’t always go your way.

For me, I don’t need a Super Bowl for Coach Garrett to keep his job. There are goals the team must accomplish to keep Garrett and the other coaches off the hot seat.

First, I think they need to have at least a ten win season and a playoff appearance.

With the apparent increase in difficulty in strength of schedule, the Cowboys may not win 13 games again this season. In fact, I’d bet against that. Not because they are a worse team or a bad team, but because they have a lot of good teams on the schedule in 2017.

Getting into the playoffs is the first goal, but once the Cowboys get there, they need to make some noise. Again, that might not mean a Super Bowl Championship, but it needs to mean a deep run to at least the NFC Championship game.

The “Jason Garrett can’t win big games” narrative is already out there. In order to douse that fire, he needs to get his team deep and be competitive.

Secondly, I think we need to see some progression from Dak Prescott. There are ways for Dak to improve in 2017, and Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Wade Wilson need to make sure that occurs.

Their jobs depend on the development of Dak Prescott.

Third. The team’s defense needs to show, at the very least, slight improvement.

The front office spent valuable draft capital to infuse the defense with some young talent. They need to take a step forward.

Rod Marinelli’s tenure has been average at best, as evidenced by the average defense they’ve put on the field. Known for taking away the football, the Cowboys have struggled in that department.

With the additions in the secondary they’ve made, the Cowboys should be better at corralling interceptions this year.

With a ton of questions along the defensive line, Garrett will need Marinelli to find another diamond in the rough and for Taco Charlton to be a first round talent.


The Dallas Cowboys look stocked for a long tenure of competitive football with their franchise quarterback, elite running back, All-Pro offensive line, and hopefully an emerging defense.

This is the deepest team that the Dallas Cowboys have put together since the early 90s.

I love the direction in which Garrett has led the Dallas Cowboys and I think he will be the coach to lead them to their sixth Super Bowl win. While I think he keeps his job if they come up short in the playoffs again, the time to make that return to Championship glory is now.

As the saying goes, “there’s no time like the present.”

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I didn’t start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I’ve now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America’s Team.

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7 Comments
  • Thomas Williams

    YES SIR!,,, I CANT WAIT FOR THIS SEASON TO START….COWBOYS 4 LIFE!!!

    • John Williams

      Yeah man. It’s time. I feel very confident about where this team could end up at the end of the season if several things go right.

  • TreFKennedy88

    I think we get to the NFC title game this season, by the law of averages it’s time they tilt towards us

    • John Williams

      Yeah, the breaks have certainly gone against us the last couple of trips to the playoffs.

      And the incredible plays made against us as well. It’s time for Dallas to be the heartbreaker in the playoffs.

      • TreFKennedy88

        By the law of averages we’re due our victories

        • John Williams

          Nothing is ever earned in the NFL, but I agree, time for the football to bounce our way a little bit.

  • Mr. Jaguar

    I wholeheartedly agree!!

Player News

Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

The Cowboys have just one more game to get through without their star running back Ezekiel Elliott, but Alfred Morris and Rod Smith deserve a ton of credit for the way they’ve been able to fill in out of the backfield for Zeke Elliott. Throughout the time Elliott has missed though, the Cowboys have lacked the explosive plays on offense that he can provide – until Rod Smith was given an opportunity last week at the Giants.

Smith complimented Morris exceptionally well, running with quickness and power to prove his case for more of a role on offense behind Elliott moving forward. It was the Ohio State product’s consecutive touchdowns of 81 yards through the air and 15 yards on the ground that sealed the game for the Cowboys in week 14.

Here is a closer look at Rod Smith’s performance from last week in this latest Sean’s Scout.

Smith3 – Streamable

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The Cowboys offensive line was dominant as always against a tough New York defensive front, and this first play is a great look at their execution in space and on the move. Rod Smith’s decisiveness when hitting the hole with speed and balance was the first thing I noticed on the game tape.

The best thing Smith does on this play comes at the second level, where running backs can truly make a difference in Dallas. As RG Zack Martin rides his man out of the play entirely, he gets in front of Smith who is seeing the play develop straight ahead. With his long strides, Smith is able to smoothly get through traffic and continue accelerating up field through arm tackles for a big gain.

Smith2 – Streamable

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These same traits are seen with Rod Smith as a pass catcher – something he does effortlessly to also help fill the void left by Elliott. Watch how quickly Smith commits to his angle up the field after catching this dump pass from Dak Prescott, attacking a defender that has the angle on him after the catch.

Rod subtly leans to the right just enough to make the defender hesitate long enough to allow his burst to evade him and gain extra yards falling forward.

Smith4 – Streamable

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Smith essentially does the same thing without the ball in his hands here, on his 81 yard catch and run for a touchdown. Setting up the safety out of the slot to be beat across his face, Smith separates from him at the stem and then does a great job getting depth on his route into the vacated middle of the field. With blockers to help him reach the end zone, Smith turns this busted coverage by the Giants into the game’s biggest play.

Smith1 – Streamable

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

 

This last play I chose to show is probably the least well-blocked attempt for Smith out of the ones in this Sean’s Scout, but there is still a lot to like about what Rod does here with the ball in his hands.

The Giants might be a two-win football team, but they still have marquee players up front, particularly DE Olivier Vernon. Smith does well here to keep his feet moving as he cuts this play to the backside. Vernon does well to limit the potential gain on this play by staying away from the block of Jason Witten, as Smith is taken down by Darian Thompson.

The numbers the Giants had to commit to stopping the run was still a huge reason why Prescott had a career day throwing the football, and Rod Smith’s readiness to step in at RB was a deciding factor in getting Dallas to 7-6.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Proving to be one of the Dallas Cowboys most valuable players, considering his cost (under contract through 2018), and ability to contribute on special teams and offense, Rod Smith is the perfect RB3 for this team.

Smith is not elite in any one area, and is not a prototypical RB from a physical standpoint, but his contributions as a runner, pass catcher, and blocker could remain critical to the Cowboys’ hopes of reaching the playoffs behind this offense – even when Ezekiel Elliott is back in the fold.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat” 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

Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who’s The Cowboys Real RB1?

Brian Martin

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Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who's Cowboys' Real RB1?

The Dallas Cowboys are less than a week away from welcoming back their talented Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, but until then they still have a game to play against the Oakland Raiders. That means we will have one more week of Alfred Morris and Rod Smith handling the workload, but which RB is sitting at the top of the Cowboys depth chart?

Unfortunately, this is exactly the type of decision that can end up winning or losing a game. Both Alfred Morris and Rod Smith have had their moments during Ezekiel Elliott’s absence, but neither one of them have really distanced themselves from the other. So, should Rod Smith or Alfred Morris receive the majority of the workload against the Raiders Sunday?

A Case for Rod Smith

RB Rod Smith and QB Dak PrescottRod Smith might just have had is coming out party last week against the New York Giants. Against their divisional rival, in what was a must win game for the Cowboys, Smith rushed for 47 yards on six carries and added another 113 yards through the air on five catches. He also found himself in the end zone twice, once on a rushing touchdown and the other on a receiving touchdown.

You may or may not agree, but I believe that “Lightning” Rod Smith was largely responsible for igniting the Cowboys offense and helping them pull away from the Giants last Sunday. He accounted for over 160 total yards and two touchdowns by himself and didn’t receive the majority of his playing time until later in the game.

Rod Smith certainly has traits that make him a more desirable RB over Alfred Morris. First off, he is a more complete back. He is better in pass protection and at catching the ball out of the backfield. But, he is also starting to show up in the running game and is averaging 4.5 yards a carry this season. His size (6’3″, 235) also makes him a better short yardage back, although I wish he would deliver more of a blow at the end of his runs.

A Case for Alfred Morris

RB Alfred MorrisAlthough there’s nothing particularly special that stands out about Alfred Morris, he has proven time and time again he is more than capable of carrying the workload. He has received the majority of the workload during Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension and has performed pretty well. In fact, he is averaging 5 yards a carry this season, which is better than any other RB on the Cowboys roster, including Elliott.

Alfred Morris has looked pretty good this season and is playing with more of a spring in his step than I have seen from him in probably his entire career. Last Sunday against the Giants he received the the majority of the workload and finished the game with 19 carries for 62 yards. Not particularly spectacular, but the week prior he did rush for 127 yards on 27 carries in the victory over the Washington Redskins.

Like I mentioned earlier, Morris is a tried-and-true RB in the NFL and is at his best when he can continue to pound the rock and wear down opposing defenses. That is what he did against the Redskins, but he has his limitations as well. Despite his years in the league, he still struggles in pass protection and is limited in what he can do in the passing game. But, he does seem to have the trust of the Cowboys coaching staff.

✭✭✭✭✭

Personally, I would like to see more of Rod Smith this coming Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. I really like what I’ve seen from him in both the running game and in the passing game. I just think he is a more dangerous and versatile weapon then Alfred Morris. His presence on the field really opens up what the Cowboys can do offensively.

I don’t mean any disrespect to Alfred Morris at all. I just think that Rod Smith has proven he is a more dangerous offensive weapon of the two. I don’t know if the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff will agree or not, but I truly believe Rod Smith could once again be the X factor against the Oakland Raiders.

Of course, both Rod Smith and Alfred Morris will have to take the back seat once Ezekiel Elliott returns. So, this discussion really only has any credibility for this week in yet another must win situation against the Oakland Raiders.

Who do you like better… Rod Smith or Alfred Morris?

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Player News

La’el Collins’ Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise

Brian Martin

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La'el Collins' Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise 1

The decision by the Dallas Cowboys to move La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle was met by some skepticism by quite a few members of Cowboys Nation during the off-season. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of those skeptical of the move, but I’m not afraid to admit he has exceeded my expectations.

In all honesty, I always believed that La’el Collins’ best position in the NFL is on the interior of the offense of line as a guard. I thought he could use his strength and athleticism to his advantage when working in a phone booth against slower and less athletic defensive tackles. That’s not to say I didn’t think he would make a good right tackle, I just thought he had Pro Bowl potential as a guard.

Strangely enough, Collins has probably put together a Pro Bowl caliber season in his first season starting at the right tackle position for the Cowboys. He has become an upgrade over the previous starter Doug Free, and is really starting to earn high praise from the brass. Stephen Jones in particular has been impressed with Collins, especially considering how he has played after missing two full weeks of practice.

Mark Lane on Twitter

DallasCowboys COO Stephen Jones told @1053thefan La’el Collins has answered the bell after his contract extension.

I personally agree with everything Stephen Jones said about La’el Collins. I’ve really enjoyed watching his progression this season, but I have been really impressed how he played the last two weeks after missing so much practice.

You might not of known, but Collins has missed two full weeks of practice due to a herniated disc in his back. This is put his availability to play against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants in jeopardy, but somehow he has toughened up and played considerably well.

This unfortunately will be something he has to continue to battle through the rest of the season, but I’m not going to bet against him playing. He absolutely makes this offensive line better and I would hate to see Chaz Green or Byron Bell back on the field after the way they played as feel-ins.

La’el Collins has without a doubt earned my respect and I think it’s about time we all recognize the player he is turning into. I know the Dallas Cowboys appreciate all that he does and believe that his recent contract extension is money well spent.

What do you think about La’el Collins?

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