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Jonathan Cooper’s Injury is a Painful One for Cowboys

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Sean's Scout: Cooper's Improvements at LG Sparks Cowboys Run Game

As the Dallas Cowboys played their last football game for the next eight months, they saw one of their starting offensive players go down in week 17. Jonathan Cooper was carried off the field with what seemed to be a serious knee injury, and this isn't the first time health has been an issue for Cooper.

He was drafted in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals only to be placed on Injured Reserve after suffering a preseason injury. His football career has been constantly bothered by injuries ever since.

Jonathan Cooper proved to be very valuable for the Cowboys. After parting ways with Ron Leary and Doug Free in the offseason, La'el Collins was kicked to the right tackle position, leaving the left guard spot completely open. Chaz Green got the nod to start the season and the entire OL struggled until he was replaced by Jonathan Cooper.

Believe it or not, Cooper -- a first-round pick who was never the impact player he was expected to be in the NFL -- helped the Dallas Cowboys a lot this year.

The Cowboys are a team with a lot of needs. They need to improve at a lot of positions on both sides of the ball before they can be considered a contender in 2018. One of those positions is offensive guard, and Jonathan Cooper's injury does nothing but increase that concern.

The Cowboys will have to make a decision regarding Cooper and the future of Dallas' LG position.

Personally, if he's healthy I wouldn't mind seeing #64 back in the starting lineup in 2018. He wouldn't have anything close to an expensive contract and Dallas could push the position down the needs list.

Todd Archer on Twitter

Left guard Jonathan Cooper is getting his left knee examined with 58 seconds to go. If he plays in 75 percent of the snaps this season, he earns an extra $500,000. He was at 80.8% entering the game. https://t.co/zCu8VakkJI

According to ESPN's Todd Archer, Cooper had an incentive of $500,000 for playing in 75% of the snaps this season. Despite not finishing the game, I think it's safe to assume he'll get his fair share of extra money thanks to becoming the starter. According to Pro Football Reference, he participated in 44.1% of the snaps in the season finale and should easily average above 75% for the year.

Heading into an offseason filled with questions, the front office will have to decide between bringing in a new left guard and shuffling the offensive line for the second consecutive year, or sticking with Cooper despite whatever his injury turns out to be.

Would You Like to See Jonathan Cooper Back in 2018?

Tell me what you think about "Jonathan Cooper’s Injury is a Painful One for 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!



I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @PepoR99.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. dallas1966

    January 1, 2018 at 1:51 pm

    If Cooper can stay away from serious injury, Cooper would be a good fit in Dallas.

    If the knee is problematic, the Cowboys need to move on

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Mauricio Rodriguez

      January 1, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      I definitely agree. Thank you for reading!

  2. Emilio Gonzalez

    January 1, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    Yes I want him back hopefully he can fully recover from the the injury a good player and the Cowboys gave him a chance to play and he played good. Thanks

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Mauricio Rodriguez

      January 1, 2018 at 9:10 pm

      Hopefully he’s here and healthy in 2018. Thank you for reading!

  3. FREEPH

    January 2, 2018 at 4:47 am

    I think we should move on from him and court/draft more offensive linemen. The continuation of OL rebuild is crucial. BTW, what part of Mexico are you from Mauricio? Happy New Year.

  4. Gabriel Cerda

    January 2, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Regardless if Cooper is back (which I hope he is) Dallas needs to look using one of their top picks on OL. Tyron’s health has also been an issue the last couple of years and getting a young tackle is necessary.

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DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.

Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.

One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.

ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t

DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.

Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.

Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.



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When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott

John Williams

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All-22 Notes: Connor Williams Stands Out in Wild Card Win

Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.

In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.

During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...

...of his offensive lineman.

During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.

As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.

It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.

With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.



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Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Next Day Rant: Cowboys Drafting LB Vander Esch Looks Pretty Smart Now

Dallas Cowboys' rookie Leighton Vander Esch has done enough to prove every single doubter wrong. When Roger Goodell called his name during the 2018 NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas, many in Cowboys Nation rejoiced at the thought of having a young linebacker for a defense surrounded with uncertainty. However, many analysts doubted the draft pick. For a lot of people (sadly, I include myself in this category), the pick should've been used on another player. For most, despite acknowledging his raw talent, Vander Esch wouldn't be able to provide the Cowboys with an instant impact player. Ah, well.

After a remarkable season, Vander Esch (a.k.a. Wolf Hunter) has earned a spot on this season's second-team All-Pro. When the Pro Bowl voting began, Vander Esch was snubbed from the ballot itself. It didn't took the NFL long to realize their mistake and add the Cowboys' linebacker to the list. Despite missing the cut at first, Vander Esch will be heading to Orlando to play in this year's Pro Bowl on January 27th.

https://twitter.com/dallascowboys/status/1085291591399546880?s=21

The former Boise State Bronco will be replacing Carolina Panthers' LB Luke Kuechly, who won't be participating because of an injury.

Vander Esch racked up 140 tackles (per Pro Football Reference), ranking third in the league in this category. He finished the season as the fifth best linebacker in Pro Football Focus' rankings.

But numbers aren't really enough to fully appreciate what Vander Esch did for the Dallas Cowboys. A team that was used to seeing its defense break when veteran Sean Lee went down injured, did not only get someone to fill in for Lee. Vander Esch actually upgraded the Cowboys' defense. It didn't matter where the ball went, he was always around when opponents were tackled. His speed and chance of direction allowed him to run sideline to sideline, covering a huge portion of the field.

Along Jaylon Smith, Dallas managed to have one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL.

The last time a defensive rookie from the Cowboys went to the Pro Bowl was in 1981, when Everson Walls made the team. Vander Esch is the 11th rookie in team history to be selected to the Pro Bowl. This year, the rookie will be accompanied by DeMarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Ezekiel Elliott.

Tell me what you think about "Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip" 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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