Predictable. The most commonly used word regarding the Dallas Cowboys offense the past few years under former Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan. It had gotten to the point that fans worldwide on all social media platforms would display their displeasure with the offensive scheme weekly, rather if the team won or lost. Instead of looking outside of the organization, the Cowboys instead looked within and promoted Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore to offensive coordinator.
His communication skills are a big reason why he's in the position to take the Cowboys offense to the next level. "At the end of the day, work together with everyone. I think that includes the coaching staff, obviously coach Garrett and the rest of the staff. I think you also got to get some input from the players. It doesn't mean you have to go down those roads all the time, but I think it's important that when a player believes in something and they're pretty convinced on it, usually they find a way to make it work," Moore said.
A very wise approach from the first year captain of the offensive ship. The more involved your players are in the preparation aspect of the game the more confident they'll come to be on Sunday's. Let's face it, everyone likes to feel they're a part of something right?
Let's start with the most important position on the field, quarterback. Dak Prescott set an NFL record for the highest completion percentage for a quarterback in his first three seasons at 66.1, so the accuracy is there. He's not just a threat with his arm, but also his legs. Too many times under Scott Linehan this offense could have used Prescott's running ability in short yardage, but instead opted to run the same old tired formations and plays. Look for Moore to utilize this aspect of Prescott's game more. Also, he's a winner. His 32 victories since 2016 are tops in the NFL for any quarterback not named Tom Brady.
Prescott praised the innovation of his new play caller and how he can bring new life to the offense.
"Moore can be crazy creative. From the time he was a player to his time now, he sits over there, we’re watching plays and he’ll draw a play up and say, ‘Hey, this is a compliment of that.’ I mean that was the main reason I pushed for him to be the quarterback coach in the first place because I knew the intelligence he has in the game, how smart he is, how creative he can be. He’s a phenom when it comes to the game,” Prescott told the Dallas Morning News.
Ezekiel Elliott is your All-Pro at the running back position. With two rushing titles in his first three years and a league-high 98.3 yards per game average in the one year he didn't, he sets the tone for the entire unit. With almost 5 yards per rush on first down for his career, this gives Kellen Moore plenty of options when it comes to keeping the chains moving. Play action, roll outs, screens, slants, and misdirection run plays can all be used with a short down and distance to go. Also, in 2018 he showed off yet another facet of his game, pass catching. He caught 77 passes which is an extremely high number for a running back. Now, not only can he beat up defenses with his running ability, he can keep them honest with his threat in the passing game. Nothing like an all-purpose ball carrier.
There's an added wrinkle at the running back position, and that's rookie Tony Pollard. The former Memphis Tiger is a dynamic playmaker with the ability to put six points on the board at any given time. He averaged a touchdown every thirteen touches in college, an insanely high percentage. He lined up not only at running back but receiver as well, catching 104 passes. Not to mention, he tied an NCAA record with seven kick return touchdowns. With his speed and ability to produce at multiple positions, you can bet Kellen Moore is excited about his new offensive toy.
Amari Cooper leads the attack at the wide receiver position. After being acquired midseason in 2018, he would change life dramatically for Dak Prescott and the offense, as they won seven of their final eight games. He can carve up defenses in multiple ways. His speed allows him to blow the top off the defense down the field. Also, because of his exceptional route running, you can line him up in the slot and eat up the middle of the field. He provides so many options with his skill set.
Michael Gallup has the size, speed, and athleticism you want at receiver. As a rookie, he finished with 33 receptions for 507 yards and 2 touchdowns. Considering it was clear that his chemistry with Dak Prescott was hit or miss at times these numbers are pretty encouraging. You're talking about a guy that could be an 800 plus yard second option once said chemistry is reached. Plus, with the addition of Randall Cobb in free agency, this gives the offense an added threat in the slot, creating plenty of one-on-one opportunities for Gallup.
Randall Cobb was signed in March to sure up the slot receiver spot. Unlike Cole Beasley, he isn't limited to just being on the inside, he can play either outside position as well. This allows Kellen Moore to move around each of his three main receivers and take advantage of their unique skill sets. The more ways you can get your weapons the ball the more effective your offense will be.
Tight End Jason Witten came of retirement for his sixteenth season. Looking slimmer and faster according to people in the building, the future Hall of Famer will provide a safety net for Dak Prescott on third downs, and added blocking for Ezekiel Elliott.
Blake Jarwin finished the 2018 season strong against the New York Giants. Catching 7 passes for 119 yards and 3 touchdowns. However, with Witten back as the starter, it'll be interesting to see how he's implemented under Kellen Moore's creative style of offense.
The Cowboys have a plethora of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. After years of predictability under Scott Linehan, Kellen Moore is looking to open up the offense with his creativity and more input from his players. He has a quarterback who is a winner, the best running back in the league, a top 10 receiver, a solid number two receiver, a former pro bowler in the slot and a tight end on his way to Canton. The ingredients are there, but there's also uncertainty going forward. This is his first crack at being the puppet master of the offense, so they'll be a learning curve to start. But make no mistake about it, you can expect a much more exciting and explosive offense from the Cowboys in 2019.
Report: Cowboys’ Travis Frederick Ready for Start of Training Camp
With the Dallas Cowboys opening training camp with their first practice on Saturday, July 27th in Oxnard, California, a lot of information is coming out regarding who will be available when they report.
It was already reported that Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence and Cornerback Byron Jones will be placed on the physically unable to practice (P.U.P.) list to start training camp. Now, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network is reporting that Travis Frederick will avoid the Non-Football Injury list (NFI) and be ready to report for the starting of training camp.
Very good news for the #Cowboys: All-Pro C Travis Frederick, who dealt with Guillain-Barré syndrome last year, is expected to be active for the start of training camp. He avoids NFI and is ready to go.
Frederick has been out of action for a year after being diagnosed with Guillen-Barre Syndrome during last year's training camp. Guillen-Barre is a disorder that can affect the peripheral neurological system. Basically, the neurological system that doesn't consist of the brain and the spinal cord, which is the central nervous system.
There was talk that Frederick might have been ready to go for the playoffs at the end of last season, but the team continued to hold him out in order to get him back 100% for 2019. It looks like the time has come for Frederick to regain his spot as the leader and lynch-pin of the offensive line.
While Joe Looney was effective in 2018, there's no doubt the team suffered a drop off from All-Pro Travis Frederick to career backup Looney. Getting Frederick back in the middle of the offensive line is the most significant upgrade the Dallas Cowboys could have made this offseason on either side of the football.
Frederick is one of the smartest players on the team and does a lot for Dak Prescott and the offensive line in terms of setting protections. For Dak Prescott, he'll be able to have a little more faith that the front of his pocket will hold up if he needs to step up to make a throw. Frederick will also help Connor Williams as the two work combo blocks against opposing interior defenders. Frederick will immediately improve the Dallas Cowboys red zone offense as they'll be able to get more of a push on the interior.
It was almost expected that this would be the case, but hearing it for certain should give the Dallas Cowboys and their fans a lot of optimism for what's to come in 2019. Travis Frederick returning to the starting lineup is a huge addition for a Dallas Cowboys offense that looks ready to roll in 2019.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Training Camp Preview: Cornerback
The Dallas Cowboys have spent a lot of draft picks the last few years to build up their cornerbacks group. There is a lot of potential heading into 2019, but Dallas needs these young players to take the next step if they want to compete for a championship. This weekend's start to training camp will be an important part of the process.
Dallas' best move to help the cornerback position was switching Byron Jones back there in 2018 after a few seasons at safety. Jones went to his first Pro Bowl and has positioned himself for a big contract extension.
Byron is currently set to play 2019 on his fifth-year option of $6.27 million, which is a steal for a CB of his caliber. Whether or not the Cowboys allow him to enter unrestricted free agency next year, or get a new deal signed, will be something to watch for throughout the upcoming season.
Jones' future may be in question, but we at least know he'll be the team's top corner this season. None of the other Dallas CBs can enjoy that same certainty in 2019, as depth chart positioning and job security are all in flux right now.
Here is the current CB depth chart headed into training camp:
- Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie
- Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis
- Michael Jackson, Donovan Olumba
- C.J. Goodwin, Chris Westry
- Treston Decoud
Will this list hold as is, or will we some shifting over the five weeks of training camp and preseason?
The battle for snaps between Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis will be an intriguing ongoing storyline. Awuzie was the starter last year, and will hopefully make a big developmental leap in his third year.
But Anthony Brown has proven himself a capable player despite being just a 6th-round pick in 2016. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, Brown will certainly be pushing for a significant role this season to hopefully help his free agent marketability in 2020.
If things go like they did last year, both Awuzie and Brown will get plenty of playing time. The true enigma of this bunch is Jourdan Lewis, who is hoping to be more than just the number-four CB in 2019.
Though he was drafted a round later than Awuzie in 2017, Lewis was generally considered the superior talent by most draft analysts. He fell due to a domestic violence accusation a month before the draft for which he was eventually found not guilty.
Jourdan was looking good at the end of his rookie season, but the arrival of Kris Richard as Defensive Backs Coach last year seemed to cause a regression. Lewis only got in on a little over 18% of the total defensive snaps in 2018, while the top three all had 67% or higher.
Despite his few opportunities, Lewis still had one of the biggest plays of the year with his interception that sealed Dallas' stunning upset over the New Orleans Saints. His potential has been noted, with Coach Richard even calling him an "exception" to his general preference for bigger, stronger cornerbacks.
But even if the team likes Jourdan, can he beat Awuzie or Brown? Could he perhaps have more value in a trade, with two years left on that rookie deal, to a team in greater need at CB?
The idea of moving Lewis, which existed prior to the draft, gained steam when Dallas used a 5th-round pick this year acquire CB Michael Jackson out of Miami. He fits that prototypical build at corner, and perhaps the Cowboys are hoping he can show enough early to provide an adequate replacement if they want to trade Jourdan.
If not Jackson, prospect Donovan Olumba is another option. He nearly made the 53 last year but got squeezed out when Dallas only kept four cornerbacks. After a year on the practice squad, Olumba is back and could be ready for a roster spot.
Veteran C.J. Goodwin has bounced around the NFL since 2014 but has some real-game experience. If the young guys aren't in a position to be game-day active, perhaps he would be the best option. Dallas added him in the middle of the 2018 season and he was helping on special teams and as a reserve corner at the end of the year.
Undrafted rookie Chris Westry, listed at 6'4", is another intriguing player to watch in camp. That rare size is something you can't teach, and hopefully Richard can develop Westry enough to get something out of the physical gifts.
This should be a fun 2019 training camp at cornerback, with competition potentially at every spot on the depth chart except the very top. And while secure at number-one, even Byron Jones has his own question marks around his long-term future in Dallas.
We'll start getting some answers in just four more days!
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OTHER 2019 CAMP PREVIEWS
Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence and CB Byron Jones to Start 2019 Camp on PUP
The Dallas Cowboys will be missing two of their defensive leaders when they open 2019 training camp this Saturday. Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence and Cornerback Byron Jones will both start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List as they recover from offseason surgeries.
Lawrence, who got a new five-year contract in April, immediately underwent shoulder surgery once his deal was finalized. DeMarcus reportedly was waiting for contract negotiations to be completed before he had the procedure.
Jones had hip surgery in late May. He is playing 2019 on the fifth-year option from his original contract, and is no doubt hoping for his own long-term extension sometime in the near future.
Sources: DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones will open Cowboys camp on PUP and won't practice in California https://t.co/jzWV5FjBO6 via @sportsdaydfw
Neither Lawrence or Jones, who are both coming of Pro Bowl seasons in 2018, are expected to be absent once the regular season starts in September. But either participating in this year's training camp is doubtful, and even preseason appearances are in question right now.
With DeMarcus out at DE, newcomers like Robert Quinn and Kerry Hyder will get plenty of chances to show their stuff. It's also a nice opportunity for Taco Charlton, assuming he's recovered from his own offseason surgery, to get some work against the first-team offensive line.
No Byron at CB will give Jourdan Lewis a nice opportunity to work with the starters as well. He was likely stuck at the 4th spot behind Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown but should now get more time on the field and against the best competition.
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