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How Jonathan Cooper’s Emergence Could Bring Back Darren McFadden

Kevin Brady

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Elliott Suspension Or Not, Darren McFadden Critical to Cowboys' Offense

Arguably the biggest question mark on the Dallas Cowboys offense going into the season centered around their left guard.

With the departure of Ronald Leary through free agency, and the moving of La'el Collins to right tackle, the position was left wide open for the taking. Through training camp, no one really took the job, though it quickly became clear that Chaz Green possessed the most physical talent of the bunch.

The Cowboys ended up going with Green for the week one start, and I fully supported the decision.

Chaz Green does exactly what the Cowboys want their left guard to do. In the competition with Jonathan Cooper, Green proved he is the more athletic and more suited to the Cowboys zone blocking scheme of the two. Plus, Dallas had invested a third round pick in Chaz Green, making him very valuable to the Cowboys future plans.

Unfortunately, the injury problems which have plagued Green's career reared their ugly head again, forcing Green to the bench after just three games. His injuries allowed for former first round pick Jonathan Cooper to make his mark on the starting offense. And after three solid performances from Cooper, it would be hard to argue for a switch back to Green mid-season.

While naming Cooper the permanent starter seems like an easy solution, it has and will continue to force the Cowboys to do some things on offense they don't typically like to do.

Cowboys Training Camp: 5 Players To Watch In 2017 1

Dallas Cowboys center Jonathan Cooper (64) pulls out to block during an organized team activity at its NFL football training facility in Frisco, Texas, Wednesday, May 31, 2017. (James D. Smith via AP)

For example, Jonathan Cooper struggles mightily getting to and blocking at the second level. This problem is particularly important on outside (or wide) zone plays. His lack of athleticism hurts the Cowboys' chances on these plays, and leaves running back Ezekiel Elliott susceptible to being met in the backfield.

In response to these issues, Dallas made the conscious effort to play to their new left guard's strengths last Sunday. Dallas didn't run outside zone nearly as much as they typically do. Instead, they ran a good amount of gap-scheme plays such as trap and power. These plays were clearly successful, and Cooper looked very impressive as a puller.

Plus, the rest of the offensive line is still very good in these gap-scheme plays, and Elliott proved he is scheme versatile himself as well.

If the Cowboys plan to increase their use of gap-scheme running plays, and decrease their use of outside zone, then they may also want to change who their "RB2" is on Sunday's as well. The main argument for keeping Alfred Morris active over Darren McFadden is that he is the better zone runner, particularly on outside zone.

While this is true, it is also true that McFadden is the much more effective runner on these gap plays. McFadden comes from the power running scheme during his years in Oakland, and had success when the Cowboys went to these types of plays in 2015.

In a perfect world, the Cowboys could simply rely on Chaz Green to stay healthy and run the blocking schemes and running plays which they would prefer to run. But if they are going to rely on Cooper, and are going to utilize power and trap plays more often, then switching to Darren McFadden as the active backup running back may not be a bad idea.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. derek harris

    October 27, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Great article!

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Star Blog

How The Tables Have Turned for 2019 Dallas Cowboys

Mauricio Rodriguez

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How The Tables Have Turned for 2019 Dallas Cowboys

The 2018 season was a two-part tale for the Dallas Cowboys. The first is the story of a mediocre 3-5 team that couldn't get it going offensively. The second part is about a football team that turned its season around, made the playoffs, got a win in the postseason and ultimately lost to the team that ended up representing the NFC in Super Bowl LIII, the Los Angeles Rams.

Surely, 2018 didn't go as planned. The storylines leading to last season are actually very different from the ones we're hearing today. Let's take a look at a few examples of how the tables have turned for the Dallas Cowboys.

The need for a true WR1

Last season, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys preached the philosophy of not needing a #1 wide receiver. While that could've sound encouraging at the time, once the season began the team was proven wrong. They did need a WR1. Fortunately, this season we won't have to worry about it. This year, Dez Bryant shouldn't be a discussion topic among Cowboys' fans.

Amari Cooper is in the house. And he's been pretty good since he started playing with a Star on his helmet. If we have conversations about the WR position, they will not be about who's the #1 guy. With Michael Gallup showing up late in the season, it probably won't be about who is #2 either.

How Cowboys Set up High-Stakes Division Meeting with Eagles at Home

Back on top of the NFC East

Last year, the Dallas Cowboys were not really the favorites to win the NFC East. The Philadelphia Eagles had just made history by winning their first Super Bowl ever and it seemed like the Cowboys would have to get a wildcard spot to play in January. Now it's the Cowboys back on top after sweeping the Eagles and turning their once 3-5 season around.

That of course, means a tougher schedule next season. However, it's nice to be back on top of the division. These two teams will surely have an intense race for the division title next season. Maybe we even see them both in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.

Sean Lee's uncertain future

I'm pretty sure no one expected Sean Lee to be considered a potential cap casualty for the 2019 season. Even if he was, it would've probably been anticipating an injury or something like that. No one would've imagined that Leighton Vander Esch would be so good to take Sean Lee's job.

The Cowboys' first round rookie truly earned the starting role as the defense's weak linebacker and he should keep it. With Sean Lee set to return to the field, I'm sure we didn't expect him to be a backup by now. We'll have to wait and see if the Cowboys decide to part ways with him. As a fan, it would certainly be painful. But we can't deny it would be a move that makes sense.

✭✭✭

It's a crazy franchise on a crazy league. Who knows how things will go from now on, but the Dallas Cowboys certainly look like a promising team heading into the 2019 offseason. Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue to update you with the latest on your favorite NFL team.

Tell me what you think about "How The Tables Have Turned for 2019 Dallas Cowboys" 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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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Volviendo a la Idea de Earl Thomas

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Are the Dallas Cowboys Done Pursuing FS Earl Thomas? 1

El año pasado, Earl Thomas fue uno de los temas de conversación más frecuentes para los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys. Después de que los Seattle Seahawks no le dieran su deseada extensión de contrato, Thomas se convirtió en un candidato a ser intercambiado de su equipo. Entre los favoritos estaban los Cowboys, quienes tenían una necesidad en su defensiva secundaria. Ahora que la temporada 2018 llegó a su fin, la misma necesidad por un safety de calidad está presente en Dallas.

Sólo que en esta ocasión, Earl Thomas no está bajo contrato con ningún equipo. Su último momento con el uniforme de los Seahawks fue en un carro de lesiones, donde salía lesionado en dirección a su vestidor. Esto mientras se despedía de su equipo con el dedo de en medio extendido hacia sus entrenadores y compañeros. Así concluyó su temporada y su carrera en Seattle.

Ahora, listo para cumplir los 30 años en mayo, Earl Thomas probará la agencia libre cuando comience en marzo. Y sin lugar a dudas, uno de los equipos candidatos a firmarlo serán los Dallas Cowboys. Es un equipo que a pesar de tener una de las mejores defensivas la temporada pasada, se vería muy beneficiada con la llegada de un profundo del calibre de Thomas.

A pesar de su edad y las lesiones, Thomas continúa siendo uno de los mejores en la liga. Su talento es innegable y tendrá toda la disposición de demostrar lo que vale cuando tome el campo la próxima temporada. Cuando llegue el momento, podríamos ver una guerra de ofertas entre varios equipos de la NFL para llevarse al veterano a sus respectivas ciudades.

La pregunta es: ¿estarán los Dallas Cowboys en esa guerra de ofertas?

Los Cowboys tienen espacio en el tope salarial. Sin embargo, este no durará mucho considerando que DeMarcus Lawrence está esperando su merecida y cara extensión después de jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia en 2018. Además, jugadores que aún están bajo contrato también estarán buscando ofertas este offseason.

Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, y Byron Jones están en la lista de quehaceres de la administración. Eso sin mencionar a Cole Beasley, cuyo contrato ya expiró y podría llegar a la agencia libre en marzo.

A pesar de esta complicada situación, los Dallas Cowboys deberían buscar conseguir a Thomas. Siendo sinceros, la defensiva tiene mucho talento y podría mantener su nivel en 2019. Pero hace falta un jugador en la posición de safety para llevar a esta unidad a otro nivel. Un nivel realmente capaz de ganar en postemporada enfrentándose a cualquier tipo de ofensiva. Sin importar que tan explosiva sea. Y además de esto, un jugador que sea capaz de robar el balón y hacer jugadas de impacto constantemente.

Cuando los Cowboys se enfrentaron a Seahawks en temporada regular, Thomas dio un buen ejemplo de esto interceptando en dos ocasiones a la ofensiva de Dak Prescott.

A pasos de un equipo de campeonato, un movimiento agresivo para obtener a Earl Thomas sería algo genial para Dallas. Vimos como los Rams de Los Angeles fueron agresivos al construir su equipo y llegaron hasta el Super Bowl este febrero. Quizá es tiempo de que Jerry Jones y compañía sean igual de agresivos y vayan por ese safety elite que la afición lleva pidiendo desde el offseason del año pasado.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Volviendo a la Idea de Earl Thomas" 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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Star Blog

Slot Machine: Amari Cooper in the Slot Could be Even More Dangerous

Brian Martin

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Slot Machine: Cole Beasley Out, Amari Cooper In?

Amari Cooper was a dangerous man with the Dallas Cowboys after he arrived via trade from the Oakland Raiders last season. He was one of the big reasons why they were able to turn around a season that looked as if it was circling the drain and I don't think anybody would argue the point. But, I think he could be even more dangerous in 2019, especially if Cole Beasley departs via free agency.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you pretty much know the topic of the Cowboys offseason so far has centered around Cole Beasley and his future with the organization. He has been invaluable in Dallas since arriving as an undrafted free agent in 2012, but it's looking more and more as if he could be taking his talents elsewhere in 2019.

With Beasley more than likely moving on, the Cowboys will need to find someone who can replace his production in the passing game, especially in the slot. Everybody assumes Dallas needs to go outside the organization to find that player, but I'm not so sure. I think they already have a wide receiver more than capable of stepping in, and he just so happens to be there first-round draft pick this year.

In case you haven't figured it out already, I'm talking about Wide Receiver Amari Cooper. He has mostly been used as an outside receiver in his professional career, but he does have the skill set and route running ability to be a really dangerous out of the slot. I'm not talking about a full-time move into the slot or anything, just a marginal increase in snaps.

Amari Cooper

Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

According to Rotounderworld.com, only 12.6% of Amari Cooper's snaps in 2018 were out of the slot. For comparison sake, Cole Beasley's snaps in the slot was 85.9%, the highest of any receiver in the NFL last season. That's a huge difference, not one the Cowboys should try to match with Cooper or any other potential slot WR replacement.

Personally, I'd like to see Cooper's snaps playing out of the slot increased to around 20%. That would put him in Odell Beckham Jr. territory (19.9%), and we all know how difficult he is to cover all over the field. It would likely do the same for Amari Cooper.

I just really like the idea of him having the entire field to work with and the favorable matchup it creates with slot/nickel cornerbacks around the league. Can you imagine opposing defensive coordinators trying to figure out how to contain a player that has the kind of speed and route running ability that Amari Cooper has? They better stock up on Tylenol, because that is a surefire way to get a headache.

This is course is just speculation at this point, especially since we don't know what the Cowboys offense will look like with Kellen Moore taking over the playcalling duties. But if it was me, I'd be doing everything in my power to get the ball in the hands of my best WR, Amari Cooper, and that might mean increasing his snaps out of the slot.

What do you think about using Amari Cooper out of the slot more often in 2019?



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