Welcome to this week's edition of Martin's 5!
The Dallas Cowboys are currently on a five-game winning streak and are playing like one of the hottest teams in the entire NFL. Yes, our Dallas Cowboys!
They are currently on their bye week after heading to Lambeau Field and defeating the Green Bay Packers rather impressively in a difficult environment.
Now, the Cowboys might have the week off, but that doesn't mean there aren't several things still weighing on my mind. Luckily, I have the platform to share with you the random thoughts that are running through my head in regards to the Dallas Cowboys.
Below are five random things I'm wondering about this week.
One: The defense for the Dallas Cowboys has been performing better than anyone could have ever expected so far in 2016, but there is one player not living up to expectations. Tyrone Crawford has been somewhat of a disappointment this season, and that makes me wonder if the Cowboys regret signing him to a contract extension? The Cowboys signed Crawford to a five-year $45 million contract extension last year in 2015, but so far this season he hasn't really played up to expectations. Crawford was supposed to be a difference maker at the all important 3-technique, but has been moved to defensive end because rookie Maliek Collins has been outplaying him. He is being paid as one of the top defensive tackles in the league, but is nowhere near the player the Cowboys were hoping to get. He currently has just 12 tackles and two quarterback sacks. Those numbers need to improve if he plans on living up to expectations.
Two: Thinking about Tyrone Crawford underperforming expectations, made me start thinking about who is performing above expectations. Cole Beasley is playing like one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and is one of main reasons why the Cowboys offense is one of the best units in the entire league, despite the absences of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. I wonder if he can continue to dominate out of the slot like he has been for the first six games of the season? Beasley's best season in the NFL was in 2015 when he caught 52 passes for 536 yards and five touchdowns. As things stand right now, he has 33 receptions for 390 yards and three touchdowns. He is on pace to finish the 2016 season with 88 catches for 1,040 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. Not bad for an undrafted free agent out of SMU. Right!?
Three: The Dallas Cowboys are currently on their bye week, and that means the players get to take a step away from the game for a few days. I wonder if this will have an impact on the momentum/win streak they had after defeating the Green Bay Packers? The Cowboys are playing some of the best football we have seen from the organization in some time and we all hope that they can carry this momentum throughout the season. The slightest little thing can negatively impact a team's momentum, so it's important that the players come back with the right mindset and pick up where they left off after coming away with the victory at Lambeau Field.
Four: It looks as if running back Darren McFadden is on track to rejoin the team and practice after being out on the Non-Football Injury list the first six weeks of the season. It's hard to envision McFadden having much of a role on the team with the way Ezekiel Elliott and even Alfred Morris has been playing this season. I wonder if the Cowboys will keep him as insurance or if they will try to find a trade partner? There seems to be several running back needy teams around the NFL and that could possibly mean we have seen the last of McFadden in a Cowboys uniform. How about a wonder within a wonder? I wonder if McFadden could end up back with the Oakland Raiders? Oakland looks like they could be a playoff contender, but they have really struggled to run the ball this year. They have a familiarity with McFadden and a reunion between the two would make for a really good storyline.
Five: I hate to say it, but I wonder if we will see Tony Romo back on the field in 2016? I was a big advocate of reinserting Romo as a starting QB once he was fully healthy, but I can't discount what Dak Prescott has been able to accomplish during his absence. The Dallas Cowboys haven't officially announced anything yet, but it looks as if Prescott will remain the starter after the bye week against the Philadelphia Eagles. If he continues to string together wins, it will be really difficult to justify making a change a QB. Romo has yet to really practice, so it's difficult to know exactly how healthy he is. I don't think there is a quarterback controversy, but that could all change if/when Tony Romo is ready to take the field.
Is there any thing weighing on your mind regarding the Dallas Cowboys?
Please feel free to take advantage of the comment section below to share any of your thoughts or opinions.
Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?
It feels like ages ago that the Dallas Cowboys spent the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on Michigan Defensive End Taco Charlton. Perhaps this is a result of the constant distancing fans have made from this unpopular pick, or the corresponding moves the Cowboys have made at DE since drafting Charlton.
These moves include using the franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence after seeing him explode for 14.5 sacks, spending a fourth round pick this year on Kansas' Dorance Armstrong, and seeing Randy Gregory reinstated in time for training camp.
Across the entirety of the Cowboys roster, there will be plenty of "odd men out" that miss the cut down to 53 players. Defensive end remains one of the most cluttered spots on the current 90 man roster however.
Prior to establishing the depth the Cowboys now have up front on defense, they did Taco no favors by starting his career at right defensive end. While Gregory may still be a long way from earning the starting role here, similarly styled players like Armstrong have the edge here over Charlton.
This relegates Charlton to the strong side, where he always projected best out of college. By the time the Cowboys realized this a season ago, they also knew a franchise pass rusher was playing his way into the team's long-term plans.
Lawrence's stellar consistency off the edge reduced Charlton's role in the Cowboys rotation of pass rushers. An ideal spot for the rookie to develop with less pressure on him, Charlton's opportunities to continue playing left end may only be reduced this season.
The first-round pick is capable of kicking inside at defensive tackle, a position the Cowboys could certainly use help at. However, asking Charlton to go through another position shift would only halt the progress that took quite a bit of patience from Dallas to see.
It's far from unheard of for the Cowboys to do this with their young players, but for now Charlton remains a defensive end looking to make his impact. The Cowboys are in much better position now than they were at this time a year ago when it comes to setting expectations for him to do so.
Given everything he showed on tape at Michigan as well as in his pre-draft interviews, Charlton is a player that needs to succeed at the task at hand. When this plan is altered, the 6'6" pass rusher is much less effective -- without even considering any athletic struggles that Charlton has compared to other prototypes at defensive end.
As a unit, the Cowboys defensive line has all the pieces to be very effective this season. Taco Charlton is a piece to this puzzle, a backup left end that must find a way to flourish in this role.
For most former 28th overall picks, doing so would be considered a fall from grace. For the Cowboys, it's simply an example of strong roster building that's forced life to come at Charlton quickly. How he responds with a full season under his belt will make or break the hype this deep Cowboys defensive line has garnered, lead of course by the starter at Charlton's position in DeMarcus Lawrence.
Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp
The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.
From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.
Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.
Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.
They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.
Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:
Cowboys & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract
DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.
According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.
DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million
This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.
Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.
This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.
Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.
There is risk on both sides, of course.
Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.
Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.
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