Welcome to this week's edition of Martin's 5?
The Dallas Cowboys should be well rested and that is good news heading into a tough game against the division rival Philadelphia Eagles.
There were quite a few players that were banged up and needed the extra time to recuperate. The Cowboys should be as close to full strength as they have been all season and if I'm the Eagles, I'd be just a little bit worried.
The Dallas Cowboys have been one of the more dominant teams in the NFL so far in 2016 and if everything plays out the way I think it will, they should continue that domination Sunday night in prime time against their NFC East division foe.
Even though I have full confidence in what the Cowboys can accomplish this season, there are still lingering questions/thoughts that I just can't seem to get out of my head. Luckily, this is exactly why I started Martin's 5.
So, without further ado, here are the five things that I just can't get out of my head this week.
One: Now that Chaz Green is practicing once again after suffering an injury, I wonder if the Dallas Cowboys will start splitting reps between him and Doug Free at right tackle? Green had to fill in for an injured Tyron Smith earlier this season and despite my worries, performed really well. Doug Free as we know is the Cowboys weakest link along the offensive line, so it's only natural to think Green could give him a run for his money. Although Free is the weakest member along the offensive line, he has performed pretty well so far in 2016. But, splitting reps between Free and Green could be beneficial to both players. Green would receive valuable repetitions to learn the position, while Free would be able to avoid some of the wear-and-tear that the season produces. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Two: Speaking of splitting reps, I wonder if the Dallas Cowboys will work Orlando Scandrick back slowly and have him split time with Anthony Brown? Orlando's return from his devastating knee injury that wiped out his 2015 season hasn't gone as well as he or the Dallas Cowboys would've liked. He hasn't been able to get in "football" shape and has suffered recurring injuries because of that. Luckily, rookie cornerback Anthony Brown has filled in as the Cowboys slot CB and the defense hasn't missed a beat with him in the lineup. This allows the Cowboys to work Scandrick back slowly if that's what they choose to do, but we will have to wait and see if that is indeed what happens.
Three: After failing to turn over the ball the first five weeks of the season, quarterback Dak Prescott was responsible for three turnovers in Week 6 against the Green Bay Packers. I wonder if Prescott can have a short memory or if we will see him playing more safely to prevent these types of turnovers from happening? Nothing I have seen from Prescott makes me believe that those turnovers will have any lingering effect on him, but the thought is still there in the back of my mind and won't go away. At some point this season I kept expecting to see Prescott perform like a rookie and maybe that's what we saw against Green Bay. Hopefully this was just a one-time occurrence and we see him return to the player he was, and has been, throughout the majority of the season.
Four: It looks as if Dez Bryant has received the green light to play this week against the Philadelphia Eagles. I wonder if having him back in the lineup will help make Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys running game even more dangerous? Dez Bryant's return is a big boost for the Cowboys offense and should make the #3 overall unit in the NFL even more potent. Opposing defenses will now have to account for where Bryant lines up, and that means they can't stack the box like they have been to try and stop Elliott and the Cowboys running game. If they do try to stack the box that means Bryant is likely in a one-on-one situation. So, no matter what opposing defenses try to do it should be a win-win situation for one of the best, if not the best offenses in the NFL.
Five: The Dallas Cowboys were on a five-game winning streak heading into their bye week and looked like one of the hottest teams in the entire NFL. I wonder if they can build on that momentum after a week away from football activities and continue to dominate their opponents? Honestly, this isn't a very big concern of mine, but I thought it was worth mentioning anyway. I think this team has a different attitude this season and should have no problems getting back on track after a week off. The game against the Philadelphia Eagles isn't a give me game by any means, but it is a game the Dallas Cowboys should win nonetheless. Division games are always tough, but this game is important in order for the Dallas Cowboys to get back on track and pick up where they left off.
Do you have any lingering thoughts this week?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to share any of your thoughts and opinions.
Is Kavon Frazier Fighting a Losing Battle With the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys Safety Kavon Frazier has one year remaining on his rookie contract, but may not see the end of it with the same team who drafted him. In fact, it really looks as if he is already fighting a losing battle in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys signed Free Agent George Iloka and drafted Donavan Wilson out of Texas A&M in the sixth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft in the hopes of upgrading the safety position. That doesn't bode well for Kavon Frazier, especially after seeing his defensive snaps take hit in 2018.
After the arrival of Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard, Frazier saw his playing time on defense go from 21.24% in 2017 to 18.07% in 2018. It's not a huge difference, but it's pretty obvious the Cowboys value his special-teams ability, not his defensive play.
The way I see things, Kavon Frazier is a longshot to make the Cowboys final 53-man roster this year. At best, I have him fifth or sixth on the depth chart right now. Since Dallas typically only carries four safeties on the roster, it's looking as if Frazier could inevitably be the odd man out.
I personally have Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath, and George Iloka ahead of Kavon Frazier right now on the depth chart. That means he's competing with Darian Thompson, who is also playing on a one-year deal, and rookie Donovan Wilson for that fourth and final roster spot at the safety position. Unfortunately for Frazier, it looks as if the odds are against him.
Donovan Wilson has already had to step into Frazier's shoes while he was out in OTA's after having his knee scoped, and has been pretty impressive doing so. He has supposedly picked up the defensive scheme pretty quickly and is becoming a vocal leader on the backend. Being a younger, cheaper option, Wilson has a better chance of sticking around on the final 53-man roster over Frazier.
As you can see, Kavon Frazier is fighting an uphill battle with the Dallas Cowboys. It of course is nothing new for him. He's had to fight his way onto the roster ever since he joined the Cowboys, but this year just seems a little different in my opinion. It just looks as if the odds are more against him this time around.
I have no doubts Frazier will continue to fight with every ounce of his being, but if I'm being completely honest I think he's fighting a losing battle. It's going to be really interesting to see how this roster battle at the safety position plays out in training camp and preseason.
Do you think Kavon Frazier is fighting a losing battle with the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019
It's been a few years since things around the Dallas Cowboys felt this good prior to a season. Coming off a 10-6 year in which Dallas won both the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a one possession road game to the future NFC champions, Cowboys Nation is expecting some big things in 2019.
After all, the Cowboys went out and improved their roster in multiple ways this offseason and brought in some new blood on their offensive coaching staff. Spirits are high among Cowboys Nation, and just about everyone is anticipating a two team race for the NFC East.
But some numbers indicate we should be thinking "not so fast."
The details of the 2018 season are not as pretty as the total picture. Rarely are they ever, of course, but these particular details point towards possible regression for the Cowboys in 2019.
Basically, their point differential a year ago spells out impending doom. (That was dramatic, but let's discuss).
The Cowboys were +15 in 2018, and by pythagorean wins expectation, they were about as strong as an 8-8 team (8.53 wins to be exact). This means they won nearly 2 more games (1.47) than would be expected, fourth most in the entire NFL.
This point is furthered when looking at their record in one possession games. Dallas went 8-2 when the game was decided by 7 points or less, winning close games at a rate that is simply not sustainable year to year.
These numbers make the Cowboys a prime candidate for regression in 2019, as they were in 2017.
Back in 2016, the Cowboys outperformed their pythagorean expectation by a whole 2 wins. The following season? Dallas finished the year 9-7. The model also indicated that the 7-9 Eagles performed 2 wins under expectations in 2016, meaning they would get back on track in 2017. As we know, they ended up winning 13 games and the Super Bowl the following season.
Of course, this isn't set-in-stone, and the Cowboys very well could outperform these expectations and avoid regression. This would mainly hinge on their coaching staff and quarterback performing at an elite level, carrying them through close games and winning more games by greater than one possession.
Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations
Winning games in the NFL typically comes down to accomplishing two goals. One, being successful when passing on offense. And, two, stopping the opposing team's passing game.
The Cowboys set out to accomplish that second goal this offseason, re-signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and trading for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn. Quinn, who tallied 6.5 sacks last season for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the leagues more feared rushers when at his best. The former All Pro has multiple 10+ sack seasons under his belt, including a whopping 19 in 2013.
And, as expected, the Cowboys coaching staff is ecstatic to have such a respected pass rushing specialist on their roster.
“He’s got that first step. He’s an established pass rusher in this league, so he’s going to bring some good stuff for us.” - Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
The Cowboys acquired Robert Quinn for a 2020 6th round pick, which could end up being the steal of the offseason. Quinn has played with some top-notch pass rushers in the past, and each time they have brought out the best in his own game.
Back with the Rams in 2017, when Aaron Donald was on the same defensive line, Quinn got to the quarterback 8.5 times. And, last season, he remained consistent in his sack totals playing alongside Cameron Wake. Now he joins a DeMarcus Lawrence who has 25 sacks over the last 2 seasons.
"I think it was kind of one of those where I get to have fun, pin my ears back and just disrupt the backfield, which is what they want us to do." - Robert Quinn told NFL.com.
Quinn and the always dominant Lawrence will form an impressive defensive end duo on passing downs, with the potential to be one of the best in all of football. Dallas is also hoping to add Randy Gregory into this mix, a piece which could prove vital late in football games if he is able to return from his current indefinite suspension.
Whether or not Gregory finds his way back onto the field, though, this defensive front will be in good hands. The edge combo of Quinn and Lawrence, combined with a plethora of skilled interior rushers such as Maliek Collins, gives the Cowboys a fearsome defensive line which should keep quarterbacks uncomfortable every Sunday.
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