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.
What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?
Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.
Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.
They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?
Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.
Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.
Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.
Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.
Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.
This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.
The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.
3 Things We Learned About The Dallas Cowboys In 2018
Coming into the 2018 season, loads of questions surrounded the Dallas Cowboys and the future of their roster.
Could their defense stay intact when the annual Sean Lee injury occurred? Was Kris Richard going to lead the Cowboys young secondary to places we thought they could be? And would Dak Prescott earn a contact extension and become the official franchise quarterback of America's Team.
Of course, there are tons of other questions that may have gone unanswered, but these three critical areas seem to find clarity in 2018.
Leighton Vander Esch And Jaylon Smith Are Legit
The Dallas Cowboys caught a lot of flack for their selection both of these linebackers, each for different reasons.
When they snagged Jaylon Smith in the second round of the 2016 draft, it was still unknown to the public if Smith could ever even play football again. When they took Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall last April, fans questioned how valuable an off-ball linebacker would be on a defense that already had Sean Lee.
Well, after their first full season together, it's easy to say that both Vander Esch and Smith are the linebacker options of the future in Dallas. Named to the Pro Bowl during his rookie season, Vander Esch took the world by storm in 2018. When Lee went down, he was there to not only fill his shoes, but to outplay the veteran all year long.
What is fun to consider is that as good as Vander Esch was this season, Jaylon Smith might be even better. Both posses insane sideline to sideline pursuit ability, and are some of the surest tacklers in all of football.
Watching these two grow together will be a pleasure over the coming seasons.
Their Young Secondary Is Coming Together
Like their linebackers, the Dallas Cowboys secondary is a young group, who fans are excited to watch grow throughout the years. It seemed like more pressure sat on the shoulders of young cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie than of Smith and Vander Esch, however.
With Kris Richard joining the staff and making the decision to move Jones to cornerback full time, it was do-or-die for the former first round pick. Byron Jones answered all the doubters, earning not only a Pro Bowl selection but also First Team All Pro honors for his performance.
Opposite him, Awuzie had a rough start to his sophomore campaign. While typically right there in coverage, wide outs too often made contested catches over him. Over the final few weeks of the year, however, that changed and Awuzie played some of the best football yet.
Xavier Woods, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis (in much fewer snaps) all had fantastic seasons as well, giving the Cowboys great hope and confidence in their secondary moving forward. They may need to add another safety during the offseason, however, though Jeff Heath remains more than just a viable option.
Dak Prescott Is Here To Stay
Whether or not you think it's justified, Dak Prescott is the quarterback of the future in Dallas. And he earned that right the back-half of 2018 and during the postseason. After a shaky start to his 3rd season, Prescott turned things around nicely, leading the Cowboys to a 7-1 finish to the regular season.
Prescott played the best football of his young career down the stretch, and showed just how valuable he is both on the field and in the locker room. It seemed like every game he made 2-3 winning plays that put the Cowboys over the top that afternoon.
Dak is going to get a contract extension, and will be locked in as a Cowboy for the foreseeable future, and with the way he played the final 10 games of his season, I can't second guess this decision much at all.
Jason Garrett Can’t be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?
One of the few positives most of us were looking forward to after the Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams was the fact that Scott Linehan would no longer be the offensive coordinator for America's Team. Everything was pointing to his dismissal, but that may not be the case according to Head Coach Jason Garrett.
Jason Garrett said on 105.3 The Fan that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will return in 2019. "We don't anticipate any significant changes on our staff," Garrett said.
I can't say that I was happy upon learning Jason Garrett plans on retaining Scott Linehan as the Cowboys OC in 2019. In fact, my first thought was… Well, something better left unsaid. I'm sure many of you can kind of read my mind, because I'm pretty positive you had all that the same thoughts running through your head as well.
In all honesty, I didn't think there was a snowball chance in hell Scott Linehan would return to Dallas after the conclusion of the 2018 season. After all, the Cowboys nearly fired him during the bye week earlier this season, meaning his job security was already on thin ice. He didn't do anything to improve things in my opinion.
I know Jason Garrett has said Scott Linehan will return as the OC in 2019, but not for a second do I believe it. We are less than 72 hours hours removed from the Cowboys exit from the playoffs and I highly doubt any of Dallas' decision-makers has had the time to sit down and discuss who stays and who goes. In fact, I know they haven't.
Stephen Jones says they won't comment on anything with coaching staff but that they need to take a deep look at why they fell short. Says it a little early to speculate about players or coaches. They haven't had a meeting about it yet.
I think once the Cowboys brass sits down and reevaluates the 2018 season, they will come to the conclusion they can do better than Scott Linehan as their offensive coordinator. There were just too many times throughout the season where the playcalling was a problem just. It's just time to move on, despite the vote of confidence by Jason Garrett.
Of course, this could just be me trying to read between the lines hoping and praying Scott Linehan is finally fired. Like many of you, I've grown way too tired of his predictable and dated playcalling. It's time to move on and find someone more innovative who can maximize the talent the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster, much like Kris Richard did with the defense.
You can either choose to believe Jason Garrett or not. I for one have a hard time seeing the Dallas Cowboys staying status quo with their coaching staff, especially their offensive coordinator. But, only time will tell.
Do you think it's time for the Dallas Cowboys to fire Scott Linehan?
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