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Could Jeff Heath be the Starting Safety Next to Byron Jones in 2017?

Brian Martin

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Could Jeff Heath Be The Starting Safety Next Byron Jones In 2017?

There are a number of unanswered questions surrounding what the Dallas Cowboys will do with some of their free agents this off-season. One of those questions is who are they going to get to play at safety next season opposite Byron Jones with Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox testing free agency?

Enter #38, everybody's favorite player to hate, Jeff Heath.

I know everybody wants to see the Cowboys re-sign either Barry Church for J.J. Wilcox, but I'm not so sure that the coaching staff won't take a long hard look at increasing Jeff Heath's playing time and making him the starter in 2017.

The Cowboys have been wise about how they spend their money in free agency the past several years, and I expect that to continue this off-season as well.

They have a lot of holes to fill on their roster this off-season, especially on defense. I'm sure they would love to bring Barry Church back if the price is right. But, that's the thing. It always comes down to money, and Church might be able to make more taking his talents to another team.

Of course, everybody mentions that Wilcox might be the more affordable safety of the two to bring back, but can the Cowboys really rely on him to be a full-time starter? I know I don't have the answer to that and I'm not sure they do either.

So, why not roll the dice and see what Jeff Heath can do as a full-time starter. I mean, when given the chance all he does is make plays.

Could Jeff Heath Be The Starting Safety Next Byron Jones In 2017? 1

S Jeff Heath

He may have only finished the 2016 regular season with 23 tackles and one interception, but it's the last impression he made that might make the Cowboys coaching staff seriously consider evaluating him as a starter next season.

You may have forgotten, but Jeff Heath is a big reason why the Dallas Cowboys were able to claw their way back into the game against the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

Heath was able to do what very few defensive backs are able to do against Aaron Rodgers, get an interception. Heath did it not once, but twice. Yes, I'm counting the second INT, even though it was overturned because of a bad penalty call by the referees.

He just has a nose for the ball and seems to always be in the right place at the right time. He is definitely underrated as a player by a lot of Dallas Cowboys fans, but not so by his teammates or the coaching staff.

The Cowboys made sure to sign Jeff Heath to a four-year, $7,671,000 contract extension last April in 2016. To be completely honest, I really liked the signing at the time and I like it even more now.

The Cowboys likely extended Heath's contract mostly because of his contributions on special teams, but also because he is a good reserve safety to have in your back pocket to use when needed.

Depending on how things work out between the Cowboys and their free agent safeties, Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox, we could see Jeff Heath see an extended role on the backend of the defense in 2017. And you know what? I think I would be okay with that.

What do you think of Jeff Heath as a starting safety in 2017?

Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.



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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10 Comments
  • Fatfan

    If Church is gone, the job should be Heath’s to lose. But I do like the improvement seen in Wilcox. (no coincidence it came with a db coaching change) Wilcox will fill in well as a back-up, and he brings the wood when it’s time to CLEANLY hit a wr coming across the middle. That may have more value than many fans realize.

    • Brian Martin

      I like what I saw from Wilcox this season. I’m curious what kind of money he will be asking for. If the Cowboys do bring him back, I would imagine he would likely be the favorite to start next to Byron Jones. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how much the Cowboys value what they currently have on the roster and what’s on the open market.

  • Don

    I would like to see more playing time for him. If he can stay healthy he’s been an asset. He plays with that Sean Lee type aggressiveness and seems to find the ball. I think we’ll see a vast improvement from the D this coming season. Those guys had a little taste of what might have been and are hungry. It’s still disappointing to me the way our season ended but there’s definitely something to look forward to this year. I still think their approach to the finale with Philly was way too conservative and they should have gone for the jugular in that game and played their ass off and kept their momentum going, but that’s water under the bridge now…!

    • Brian Martin

      Don, the more I think about it the more I like the idea of Jeff Heath getting a shot at playing next to Byron Jones. We’ve seen a small sample size what he can do when given the opportunity, hopefully he can build on that. Of course, this could all change if the Cowboys draft a safety or re-sign Church or Wilcox. Regardless, Heath could see more playing time in 2017.

  • Michael Moy

    Heath can catch the ball, something the other DBs can’t. Wilcox played better than Church. BJ underachieved. All CBs are flawed — nobody knows how to play the ball. Time to put some money on the DL and in CBs before Lee gets old.

    • Brian Martin

      Michael, I agree with you for the most part. However, I think there was a big difference when Church was in the lineup then when Wilcox was in the lineup. Church is the better player, but not by much. Wilcox continues to improve, but I don’t know if he’ll be in the Cowboys future plans.

      I also don’t think Byron Jones underachieved. I think everybody had such high expectations for him being the type of ball hawking safety everybody wants. His position flexibility really helped the backend of the Cowboys defense in 2016. He will continue to get better with more playing time.

      Unfortunately, I don’t think the Cowboys will invest a lot of money in free agency. I think they will continue to take the approach of bargain shopping to fill holes and build this team through the draft.

      • Michael Moy

        Expectations and flexibility not withstanding, BJ had problems with covering above-avg TEs. He also was no ball hawk. Being OK at several things is not going to do it as an NFL centerfielder, especially coming in as a high #1. Lastly, he did not do the job on the next to last play in that loss to GB. Maybe I am calling him out a bit much, perhaps the DB coach (the DBs just don’t play the ball, one reason why few INTs) and DC need to coach better. Come to think of it, same goes for the LB coach. If Sean had turned and played the underthrown ball from Rogers, he would have had an INT instead of giving up a TD. The defense hustled and overachieved for the most part, so then it’s talent and technique (coaching).

        • Brian Martin

          This was Byron Jones first year as a full-time safety. He will only continue to get better, but I will admit he did have his ups and downs. But that can be said for anyone in the Cowboys secondary. The lack of pass rush really hurt the Cowboys secondary because there are asked to guard receivers for an extended period of time.

      • Michael Moy

        By the way, it’s time to get over the hump instead of keep saying rebuild. We were 13-3 in two out of three seasons. Opportunities are slipping away. BTW, I think JJ is ok with all this because the franchise value keeps going up, but for the fans it’s torture. Building thru the draft as the primary approach is sound, assuming scouting and coaching excellence. However, when you are that close, you have to bring in the last piece(s) (eg, Deion, Haley, Herb Adderley, Lance Alworth — under Johnson and Landry who built thru the draft but was smart and flexible to know what it takes to win SBs when it’s time). Red Head is no coach of the year, too single minded (BTW, he and I are fellow alumni so I do hope he does well, but more importantly I’m a 50-year Cowboys die-hard).

        • Brian Martin

          I agree that they’re not rebuilding, but I’m not sure that missing piece is available in free agency. The best free agent DE is probably Chandler Jones, but I wouldn’t call him a difference maker. Sure, he would be an upgrade over what the Cowboys currently have on the roster, but I don’t think even take the defense over the top. I think as fans we have to remain patient because the best teams build through the draft. That’s one of the reasons the Patriots are continuously one of the best teams in the league year after year.

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Cowboys en Español: Sí, Amari Cooper Lo Valió

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys' Revenge Against Atlanta Hinges on These 3 Key Matchups 1

Cuando los Dallas Cowboys sorprendieron a la NFL mandando una selección de primera ronda por el receptor Amari Cooper de los Oakland Raiders, la respuesta fue muy dividida. Al final de cuentas, Cooper estaba pasando por una temporada bastante mala junto a su equipo. Sus números iban en decline y muchos habían perdido la fe en la ex-estrella de la universidad de Alabama y cuarta selección global en el NFL Draft del 2015.

Pero sorpresa, sorpresa. Desde que se unió a las filas de los Dallas Cowboys, Amari Cooper ha demostrado que la decisión que tomaron los Jones fue una muy buena.

En esta liga, es muy complicado justificar el deshacerse de un pick de primera ronda.

Estamos hablando de la oportunidad de tomar a un novato joven con muchísimo potencial para convertirse en un jugador calibre All-Pro en algún punto de su carrera. No es fácil renunciar a una posibilidad así en esta liga. Sin embargo, Amari Cooper no ha hecho más que justificar el trade por parte de los Cowboys. Si continúa así, al final de la temporada podríamos estar hablando de que Dallas pagó de menos por él.

Es importante recalcar que Amari Cooper tiene 24 años de edad. Para el NFL Draft del 2019, los mejores prospectos en esta posición tienen a lo mucho cuatro años menos. A.J. Brown de Ole Miss tendrá 21 años cuando pise el emparrillado por primera vez en la NFL.

Y no, ninguno de estos receptores está cerca del nivel de talento con el que cuenta Cooper.

#DALvsPHI: Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott Key to Clipping the Eagles Wings?

¿Qué tan grande ha sido el impacto de Amari Cooper?

Desde la semana 9, cuando los Cowboys consiguieron a Cooper, este ha tenido 30 recepciones. 23 de las cuales han resultado en un primer down o en un touchdown. Es el receptor con más atrapadas en tercera oportunidad. Podríamos hablar de las grandes estadísticas que el wide receiver ha conseguido vistiendo la estrella individualmente. Pero realmente, ha tenido un impacto en la ofensiva entera.

Desde su llegada, los Cowboys son el tercer mejor equipo en porcentaje de pases completos, el segundo en yardas después de la recepción y el tercero a la hora de convertir terceras oportunidades y mover las cadenas.

Simple y sencillamente, ha tenido un impacto que ningún otro novato del 2019 hubiera tenido en este equipo. Si, los Cowboys tendrán que pagarle una extensión cara en el futuro, pero cuando este sea el caso, lo habrá valido.

Amari Cooper es el ejemplo perfecto de porque la NFL es un deporte de equipo. Con los Raiders, todos lo tachaban como un jugador que ya no era bueno e iba para abajo. Pero bajo los Dallas Cowboys, se ve como un jugador que promete mucho para esta joven franquicia que necesitaba un verdadero #1 en la posición de wide receiver.

La ofensiva de los Cowboys tiene mucho talento. Es cuestión de mejorar en zona roja para que Dallas sea una amenaza bastante considerable en los playoffs de la NFL.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Sí, Amari Cooper Lo Valió" 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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Why is Jerry Jones “keeping a very close eye” on the Kareem Hunt Case?

Brian Martin

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Why is Jerry Jones "keeping a very close eye" on the Kareem Hunt Case?
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

As owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones has been pretty open-minded when it comes to giving talented players second and even third chances. So, it should come to no surprise he is "keeping a very close eye" on the NFL's newest troubled player, Kareem Hunt, according to a statement he made recently on 105.3 The Fan.

"Yes, keeping a very close eye, and have a very keen interest in how this plays out. It's a challenging area about what we're about…everyone has zero tolerance for domestic abuse," said Jones.

Leave it to Jerry Jones to say something so vague that can be misconstrued on several different levels. There is really no way of knowing exactly why he is so interested in the Kareem Hunt case, which is why I thought I would attempt to crawl inside his head to decipher what he could possibly be thinking.

The Kareem Hunt case is interesting though on so many different levels. There is actual video evidence of the altercation thanks to TMZ, unlike the hearsay with Ezekiel Elliott that ended up looking more and more like a witch hunt by the NFL and Roger Goodell. You can bet that could be one of the reasons why Jerry Jones' interest has been piqued, but I can guarantee he's not the only one watching closely to see how this plays out.

Before I get too off-topic, let me get back to the elephant in the room. Why is Jerry Jones "keeping a very close eye" on the Kareem Hunt case? Let's jump into his thought process to determine what he could possibly be thinking…

Considering an Ezekiel Elliott/Kareem Hunt Tandem?

Ezekiel Elliott, Kareem Hunt

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott and FA Kareem Hunt

Since Jerry Jones isn't shy about adding "troubled" players to the Dallas Cowboys roster, there have already been quite a few people who believe Kareem Hunt will eventually end up with the organization. I highly doubt it happens, but a Ezekiel Elliott/Hunt tandem in the Cowboys backfield would be something dreams are made of, not to mention really fun to watch.

No offense to Rod Smith or any other running back on the Cowboys roster, but they don't really have someone who is capable enough in the eyes of the coaching staff to cut into Zeke's heavy workload. Pairing Hunt with Zeke would give Dallas a two headed monster and give them the best RB duo in the league. That would fit right into their run first mentality.

Hunt of course is looking at least a six-game suspension. Jerry Jones would have to be comfortable with the backlash he would receive by bringing him aboard, but we've seen him make such moves in the past. I definitely believe it's something that has crossed his mind. As a football movement makes sense, but it without a doubt hurts the Cowboys brand and their public image.

Kareem Hunt an Ezekiel Elliott Replacement?

Kareem Hunt

FA Kareem Hunt

We are getting to the point in Ezekiel Elliott's career the Dallas Cowboys have to start considering whether or not they want to sign him to a long-term extension. It could be as early as this upcoming offseason, or they could wait until after 2019. Adding a young, talented, and cost-effective RB like Kareem Hunt would be a shrewd/savvy move on the Cowboys part.

Like I mentioned earlier, Hunt is looking at least a six-game suspension and could quite possibly end up being for an entire season. That means he's not going to cost a lot when/if he's able to return to the NFL and is still young enough to make any contract he signs pay off. Sounds like a win-win for a team who is willing to bring him aboard.

About the time Hunt is able to return to the league just so happens kind of coincides with when the Cowboys have to make a decision about Elliott's long-term future with the organization. This is a no-brainer from a business standpoint, but we all know that there are other factors involved here. But again, I wouldn't be surprised if this is something that hasn't crossed the mind of Jerry Jones.

Seeing How the NFL and Roger Goodell Handle Things

Jerry Jones, Roger Goodell

Jerry Jones and Roger Goodell (Michael Ainsworth/The Dallas Morning News)

I personally believe that this is the reason why Jerry Jones is going to keep a close eye on the Kareem Hunt case, although the other two reasons certainly make sense. I just think he still hasn't put the entire Ezekiel Elliott suspension drama behind him and really wants to see how Roger Goodell and the NFL handles things this time around.

We all know that Zeke's suspension was based on nothing more than hearsay. The NFL's lead investigator even recommended he shouldn't be suspended and that was after interviewing the accuser six times, something that hasn't happened once in Hunt's case. The entire investigation was poorly handled and drawn out, which made the verdict that much more hard to swallow.

I think Jerry Jones has kind of been waiting for another chance to voice his displeasure with the NFL's ability to investigate and punish players of wrongdoing on a consistent basis. This could be the exact kind of opportunity he's been waiting for and you can bet that he won't shy away from voicing his opinions on the matter. In fact, I'm a little surprised he hasn't done so already.

Why do you think Jerry Jones is watching the Kareem Hunt case closely?



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Randy Gregory Is Looking Like We Always Thought He Could

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Need More From Randy Gregory and Taco Charlton

Much of Cowboys Nation had the proverbial pitchforks out when Randy Gregory was penalized for roughing the kicker after a key third down stop last Thursday night. Those same fans were understandably upset when Gregory was then penalized again, this time for lining up in the neutral zone and negating a sack fumble.

It was frustrating to see, and as head coach Jason Garrett said after the game, those plays were essentially turnovers committed by Randy Gregory. Because of these frustrating penalties, combined with his bone-headed personal foul all the way back in Carolina and his history of suspensions, people around the league have called Gregory a "dumb" player, or have suggested the Cowboys are wrong for giving him so many chances.

People have been wondering when the Cowboys' patience for Randy Gregory will pay dividends on the field.

I'm here to tell you that they already are.

Since returning against the Eagles four games ago, Gregory has compiled 3 sacks and 4 quarterback hits. Only DeMarcus Lawrence has been consistently better than Gregory as a pass rusher since he got healthy, and the production difference between the two isn't as large as you'd expect.

Of course, Lawrence receives much more attention from pass protection schemes than Gregory does, but if Gregory can continue to pressure quarterbacks and win his 1-on-1 matchups, things may begin to open up a bit more for Lawrence.

Gregory's calling card heading into the 2015 draft was his pure pass rushing ability. He's the athletic weakside edge rusher fans have been clamoring for for years. And while it took a while for him to get here, he's finally showing signs of playing like the athletic freak and football player he can be.

Gregory's hands, burst, and bend are special, and it was unfair to expect him to put everything together so quickly after not being around actual football for basically two whole seasons. But now that he's healthy and appears to be comfortable in his role, we are seeing more and more productive rushes from Gregory each week.

While Tyrone Crawford has been solid overall, Gregory has become the unquestioned pass rushing RDE, getting healthy and productive while Taco Charlton was injured and inactive. As a pure pass rusher he's clearly the 2nd best defensive end on the roster, behind the All-Pro caliber Lawrence, and looks primed for a Pro Bowl season in 2019.

This Sunday Gregory will take on Jason Peters and the Eagles offensive line. While he hasn't played enough to really have trends against any opponent, if he does have one it is against Peters. In 2016 Gregory tallied 7 tackles and a sack against the Eagles, and he also sacked Carson Wentz just a few weeks ago.

So in those two matchups, we have seen Randy Gregory at his best. As the Cowboys hope to take another step towards wrapping up an NFC East title, they certainly hope Gregory can continue this trend on Sunday afternoon.



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