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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: ¿Dónde Tiene Que Mejorar Dallas?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Jaguars

El mejor juego de los Dallas Cowboys en 2018 vino la semana pasada, cuando recibieron a los Jacksonville Jaguars y los vencieron 40-7. Un resultado que tomó a todos por sorpresa demostró la mejor cara en el año de este equipo que apenas tiene un récord de 3-3.

Por más dominantes que se vieron en el emparrillado el domingo pasado, esa actuación no termina de reflejar lo que realmente son los Cowboys. Son un equipo con potencial en la ofensiva y con una defensiva bastante fuerte, pero ¿pueden ganar constantemente como lo hicieron contra Jaguars?

De entrada, la respuesta a esta pregunta parece ser no. Aún en esa victoria, se vieron problemas evidentes en la ofensiva. Para empezar, la falta de ejecución en la segunda mitad en series ofensivas que incluso llegaron a iniciar en territorio enemigo. De gol de campo en gol de campo se juntan puntos, sin duda, pero en partidos cerrados eso termina costando victorias. Hace falta que Dak Prescott y compañía puedan mover el balón una vez en rango de gol de campo y convertir esas oportunidades a touchdowns.

Otra preocupación que no podemos subestimar es que el juego aéreo sigue sin funcionar apropiadamente. Cole Beasley dominó con nueve atrapadas para 101 yardas y dos touchdowns, pero el resto de los receptores se fueron sin  más de una recepción por cabeza. El único jugador que logró más de una fue el TE Geoff Swaim, quien se llevo dos en todo el juego.

Si bien Beasley tuvo uno de los mejores juegos en su carrera, más receptores tienen que involucrarse para llevar la ofensiva al siguiente nivel. La buena noticia es que en esta ocasión se enfrentaron contra una de las mejores secundarias en la NFL. Los números son malos, pero tienen la oportunidad de demostrar mucho más contra otras defensivas.

Los Dallas Cowboys tienen que repartir más la bola y seguir buscando maneras creativas de utilizar a su RB Ezekiel Elliott. Pases pantallas en tercera y largo no es ser creativo. Lo vemos funcionar dos o tres veces al año pero mandan esta jugada semanalmente. En cuanto a Dak Prescott, hay mucho donde mejorar. Deberíamos estar viendo pases más arriesgados, al centro del campo y mucho mejor posicionados.

Sean's Scout: Measuring Randy Gregory's Potential Impact on Cowboys Defense

Para la defensiva, las cosas se ven muy bien. Puede que veamos la mejor versión de esta unidad esta semana, cuando viajen a Washington. Maliek Collins, Sean Lee, David Irving, y Randy Gregory estarán jugando mucho más sanos y preparados. Este es un frente defensivo lleno de talento que intimidará constantemente a Alex Smith este domingo.

A pesar de que los Redskins no tienen una ofensiva muy explosiva, el área de oportunidad principal para la defensiva de Cowboys está en la profundidad defensiva. Tanto Jeff Heath como Xavier Woods han hecho un trabajo decente, pero tienen sus momentos en los que no logran asegurar una tackleada y permiten jugadas largas.

Hace unos meses no esperábamos que fuera la defensiva y no la ofensiva la que cargaría a este equipo a muchas victorias, pero ese ha sido el caso en las tres victorias de esta temporada. Y en las tres derrotas, la defensiva fue la que mantuvo a los Cowboys en el juego.

Sin duda alguna, lo que tiene que mejorar es la ofensiva. Los receptores tienen que desmarcarse, Prescott debe ser más preciso y tener una mejor conciencia en la bolsa de protección.

Pero sobre todo, es la inconsistencia del equipo. Esto se comienza a sentir como la temporada del año pasado, cuando los Cowboys se fueron 9-7 y nunca terminaron de establecerse como contendientes a los playoffs. Aún en una NFC East donde todos los equipos tienen récords similares y débiles, no pueden continuar perdiendo una semana y  ganando a la otra.

Ganarle a los Redskins sería la primera victoria de Dallas jugando de visita. También sería la primera vez en el año en la que tendrían victorias consecutivas. Por esto y muchas otras razones, incluyendo el potencial liderato de la división, este juego es de suma importancia.

Si ganan, podría ser el momento en el que los Cowboys terminen de darle la vuelta a la página y si pierden, podría ser un indicador de que esta temporada será igual que la del 2017.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: ¿Dónde Tiene Que Mejorar Dallas?" 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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Time to get FB Jamize Olawale More Involved Offensively?

Brian Martin

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Time to get FB Jamize Olawale More Involved Offensively?

The Dallas Cowboys are coming off arguably their best and most complete offensive performance of the season after playing the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, but there is still quite a bit of improvement that can be made. The need to get more playmakers involved is apparent, which is why I think it's time to utilize Fullback Jamize Olawale's unique skill set.

I know many of you will argue that getting Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup going is a higher priority, and you wouldn't be wrong, but Jamize Olawale's playmaking ability could be a huge asset for Quarterback Dak Prescott and the offense. I know it sounds a little strange, but hang in there with me for little bit.

As things stand right now, Olawale has only played 38 offensive snaps (10%) in 2018. That's the exact amount of offensive plays Wide Receiver Terrance Williams has played this year and he's missed the majority of the season. It's not exactly the kind of production I was expecting when the Cowboys decided to bring him aboard via trade with the Oakland Raiders earlier this offseason.

I don't know about you, but I was expecting Olawale to be more involved in the offensive game plan. He is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and isn't too shabby as a runner either. But, we haven't seen him utilized in either fashion this season and I think that's an injustice that needs to be corrected.

Now, I fully understand there are other offensive weapons ahead of him in the pecking order who need to see more targets, but I also really think he can make a difference maker, especially in the passing game. That is where his strengths lie, not as a lead blocking fullback.

Jamize Olawale

Dallas Cowboys FB Jamize Olawale

Olawale was a bit of a Swiss Army knife during his time with the Oakland Raiders. He played a little running back, fullback, tight end, and even a little slot receiver. I really thought the Cowboys would take advantage of his versatility in the passing game, but as of yet they have failed to do so.

I'd like to see the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan utilize Jamize Olawale's unique playmaking ability a little bit more on offense. I think they should try to utilize him like the San Francisco 49ers use their fullback, Kyle Juszczyk. He's much more involved and has played a total of 263 offensive snaps (63.68%) this year.

Juszczyk is a better lead blocking FB then Olawale, but that's not where he makes the most difference in the 49ers offense. He does it as a receiver and has already caught 17 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown. That's some pretty solid production from a position that is being phased out in the NFL.

Now, just imagine the Cowboys offense getting similar production from Olawale and how that would help open up things for everybody else. It's not out of the realm of possibility because the 49ers offense and the Cowboys isn't all that dissimilar.

Unfortunately, I think Jamize Olawale is pretty much an afterthought in the Cowboys offense right now. It's truly unfortunate because I think he can be a difference maker if given the opportunity. And with a division foe like the Washington Redskins next on the schedule, what better time to unleash a new and unseen element of the offense?

Do you think Jamize Olawale needs to be more involved offensively?



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Cole Beasley Key to Cowboys Passing Game Productivity?

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Jaguars 1

What most of us already knew was confirmed last Sunday afternoon against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wide Receiver Cole Beasley is the Dallas Cowboys best receiver and is the key to the passing game productivity. He is not only the most productive, but the most consistent.

Cole Beasley isn't the tallest or the fastest and definitely doesn't look like a prototypical NFL receiver, but he showed last week against the Jaguars why opposing defenses have to account for him on every single play. He torched Jacksonville's top-ranked passing defense for 101 yards on nine catches and added two touchdowns, and it's that production that could help open up the entire passing game for the Cowboys.

It's painfully obvious Cole Beasley has been Dak Prescott's favorite target in the passing game since he took over the starting duties in 2016. Once opposing defenses figured that out they started to make things extremely difficult by bracketing Beasley in coverage and the passing game hasn't been the same since. But, that could be changing if the Jaguars game was an indication of what we might see moving forward.

Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan did a much better job of moving Beasley around to create favorable matchups against the Jaguars. I think we will see much more of that moving forward, but that likely means opposing defenses will once again try to take away Prescott's favorite target. That actually could end up helping the Cowboys passing game though.

Dak Prescott, Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

If opposing defenses indeed try to contain Cole Beasley like they've done in the past, it should help provide more opportunities for Dallas' other pass catchers. Spreading the ball around to several different receivers would not only help Prescott and the passing game, but also open up the entire offense.

We haven't really seen much of Allen Hurns or Michael Gallup this season, but both are more than capable of being more productive if they are seeing single coverage more often. That's what's likely to happen if defenses bracket Beasley in coverage once again. Both WRs need to be more involved anyway and Beasley's recent spike in production could help do just that.

Now, if defenses decide to try and cover Beasley one-on-one like the Jaguars did quite a bit of last Sunday, the Cowboys would be wise to take advantage of that mismatch. He simply can't be covered by a single defensive back because of his precise route running ability. He is that good.

Regardless of how opposing defenses try to handle/contain Cole Beasley, he is without a doubt key to the Dallas Cowboys passing game productivity. Just the threat of him on the field changes a defenses approach, which is why he is Dallas' #1  WR in my book. He absolutely has to be more involved moving forward, even if it is as a decoy.

Do you think Cole Beasley is the key to the Cowboys passing game productivity?



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