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Has Keith Smith And The FB Position Become Obsolete In Dallas?

Brian Martin

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Keith Smith: Will The Cowboys Carry A Fullback In 2017?

The evolution of the passing game around the NFL has caused a lot of teams in the league to forgo carrying a fullback on their roster. The Dallas Cowboys are among the handful of teams that still value the position, but it's starting to look as if Keith Smith and the FB position might become obsolete in Dallas as well.

This is all speculation at this point, but it is really starting to look as if the Dallas Cowboys could be shifting towards the 10 personnel offensive package in 2017. This would make the offense much more quarterback friendly for Dak Prescott, while also improving the running game for Ezekiel Elliott by making the opposing defense have to cover the entire field.

The 10 personnel package is basically a spread offense. The offense spreads the defense out by using four wide receiver sets and one running back. Of course there are different variations of how to align everyone, but it should only make the Cowboys offense even more potent.

With the players the Dallas Cowboys currently have on their roster, the 10 personnel makes a lot of sense. They could line up Dez Bryant/Cole Beasley on one side and have Terrance Williams/Ryan Switzer playing on the opposite side of the field. This particular personal package really puts a defense at a disadvantage and becomes much more Dak friendly.

Of course, if the Cowboys do start using the 10 personnel package more in 2017, that would mean the FB position becomes even less of a need than it currently is. Add all of that up, and we could see Keith Smith and the FB position become obsolete in 2017.

FB Keith SmithKeith Smith of course still is a valuable asset to have, which is why it wouldn't surprise me if the Dallas Cowboys continue to carry a fullback on the roster. Not only does he play fullback, but he is also a core special-teams player and can play linebacker (his former position) if needed.

To have a player that can fill so many roles on your team is hard to come by, but that doesn't mean his production cannot be replaced by other players currently on the roster.

Case in point. Keith Smith only gets a handful of plays on offense in every game, and most of those are in short yardage situations as a lead blocker. The Cowboys could choose to use a tight end in that role, something Geoff Swaim did in college at the University of Texas.

So, offensively things wouldn't change much without a traditional fullback on the team, which now frees up an open roster spot for someone that can be more of a contributor. With every single roster spot being so valuable, there are a number of different ways the Cowboys could go about addressing the depth at each position.

Now, I have nothing against Keith Smith, but there just seems to be more positives than negatives by not keeping a fullback on the roster.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should carry a FB in 2017?



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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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Jess Haynie

    Jess Haynie

    May 11, 2017 at 7:32 am

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fb32ecf29fe634e1081ad986a2096df1b39b7aeebf41787abe27ea6e09fce08f.jpg

    Dallas has already experimented with the 2-TE system and went back to using the fullback. They have had their best rushing success with a true fullback. It’d be one thing if Smith was average, but last year he graded out as the 4th-best FB in the NFL.

    Wrote about it in January: https://insidethestar.com/keith-smith-gives-cowboys-value-stability-fullback/

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      May 11, 2017 at 9:26 am

      This has less to do about Keith Smith and the FB position then the fact I think the Cowboys could start using the 10 personnel more often in 2017. That would mean that Smith would see even less offensive snaps, thus making the FB position less of a need.

      I personally like Smith and the versatility he provides to the team, but freeing up an extra roster spot could allow the Cowboys to carry an extra player at a position of greater need.

  2. Russ_Te

    May 12, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    FB is a conundrum for NFL offenses in the 2010’s. The game has evolved from the classic run attack of the 1990’s Cowboys – which itself was an evolution from the 1970’s attacks in which you not only had a FB, but he got 15-20 carries a game just as the old “halfback” position did.

    I come at it from the bias that, we know the damage that Dallas did to teams with having a seek & destroy FB in Daryl Johnston. This offense is built so similarly with the horses up front and the talented RB, it’s hard to argue against doing what they did. It still works as it did then, because of superior talent. The defense knows it’s coming, they walk a SS up, and still get beaten up over the course of the game.

    And I always prefer the lead blocking FB who can get running before contact, to the TE blocker up on the line. Yet in today’s game the FB comes out for spread sets which indeed, are very hard to defend when you have the receivers to run it. So when they are in, everyone on defense keys run & I think that is what today’s OC’s want to get away from.

    So I don’t know the best answer, but will say that Linehan’s offenses do bring a versatility to play different styles of offense well. Whereas the 1990’s Cowboys were all smash mouth. Not sure they ran spread sets as well as this team can, and they didn’t try to very much.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      May 13, 2017 at 11:11 am

      I feel pretty much the same way as you do. I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer. I think at the Cowboys continue to run their offense like they have the past several seasons,, then the FB position is still valuable. But, if they are shifting towards running more of a spread offense, then it is a wasted roster spot in my opinion.

  3. Russ_Te

    May 12, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    If I am in 3 or 4 wide a lot, I’m putting Butler in a slot sometimes & running him right down the hash marks on a go route. The FS will piss himself, leaving Bryant single up underneath it…

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      May 13, 2017 at 11:13 am

      I like that idea, but I think they could do the same thing with Switzer in the slot, which could catch defenses even more off guard. I don’t know if they would expect him to run many deep routes. I think everybody pretty much compares him to Beasley, but I think he’s a much better outside threat then 11.

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Star Blog

2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1

Kevin Brady

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Byron Jones

Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.

Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.

Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.

The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas

Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.

Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.

The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.

Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Time to Stop Making Excuses for QB Dak Prescott?

Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.

Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.

Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Pues en Dallas, hoy dos  jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.

Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.

Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.

Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.

Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial" 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

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 2

Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.

The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.

The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.

Lock Down the Big Guns

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

@Randy81MossRetires, via Twitter

Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.

Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.

As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.

Adding New Talent

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 1

@brkicks, via Twitter

One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.

Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.

If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.

Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.

Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.

The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.

As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.

Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.



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