Welcome to this week's edition of Martin's 5!
How many times do you get something stuck in your head and can't quite get rid of that thought? Well, that's what this space is for and why I created Martin's 5 to begin with.
Each week I come up with five different things I'm wondering about in regards to the Dallas Cowboys and their upcoming game. I use this space to share with you things that are rattling around in my head in hopes of getting some kind of answer, or at the very least throw them out there with hope that they won't return.
This week the Dallas Cowboys renew an old historic rivalry when they travel to Heinz Field and take on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This game could come down to which offense can score more points, but the Cowboys are firing on all cylinders right now, while the Steelers seem to be sputtering just a little bit. Regardless of each team's record at this point, you can bet this is will be a fun game to watch.
Having said all of that, below are the five things I'm wondering about this week.
One: I don't know about you, but I bet defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and the entire Dallas Cowboys organization couldn't possibly be more pleased with the way the defense has played the first half of the season. Even though the defensive unit has outperformed pretty much everyone's expectations, I still wonder when we will see DE DeMarcus Lawrence make an impact as a pass rusher? Lawrence is only played in four games after serving his four-game suspension, and only has four total tackles so far in 2016. He has come really close a number of times, but has yet to notch his first quarterback sack this year. He always seems to be a step or a halfstep too late and needs to finish when he has the QB in his grasp. Ben Roethlisberger is this week's target, but he is one of the more difficult QB's to bring down in the entire NFL. Maybe this is the week we see Lawrence get his first QB sack of the season.
Two: Let's stay with the defensive side of the ball for a little bit longer, because I'm wondering how Rod Marinelli will game plan against Antonio Brown and keep him from taking over the game? Brown is without a doubt the Pittsburgh Steelers most dangerous threat in the receiving game and if he gets going it could be a long night for the entire Dallas Cowboys defense. I think this is a game the Cowboys defense will miss not having Morris Claiborne in the lineup, but I wouldn't be surprised if Orlando Scandrick could be the one that is asked to follow Brown all over the field. Containing Antonio Brown might be the best way to shut down the Steelers offense and could possibly be the reason why the Cowboys come away with a victory at Heinz Field. Let's not forget that the Cowboys defense has yet to allow a 100 yard receiver or 100 yard rusher through the first half of the 2016 season. Hopefully they can keep that streak alive against the Steelers.
Three: There has been a lot of talk about Dez Bryant since he returned to the lineup after the Dallas Cowboys bye week. At first all you heard was how many times he was targeted and that the ball was forced to him against the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, everyone's talking about how he just had one reception for 19 yards against the Cleveland Browns. We all know that Bryant is active on social media and knows everything that's being said about him. I wonder what his mindset is after hearing all this criticism about him? Bryant is an emotional player when on the field and is known for his sideline outburst when things are going his way. With everything going the Cowboys way so far in 2016, it would really be unfortunate if Bryant has one of his meltdowns if the offense struggles and he's not being utilized the way he thinks he should be. This team has found success because they have bonded and have developed a chemistry with one another. Let's hope they can remain drama free for the second half of the season.
Four: The decision by the Dallas Cowboys not to trade Darren McFadden was a little bit surprising, especially after seeing what Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris have been able to do the first half of the 2016 season. The Cowboys must envision some kind of role for McFadden once he is added to the active roster, but I wonder what kind of role that will be? I don't think he can beat Morris for that backup role behind Elliott, but he could possibly take Lance Dunbar's spot since he can't seem to stay healthy. This probably isn't the scenario that McFadden thought he would find himself in with the Cowboys this season after finishing fourth in the NFL in rushing last year, but you have to respect the way he is handled everything like a professional.
Five: As head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Jason Garrett has been known to usually side on the eer of caution when it comes to making in game decisions, but this year he has taken on a more aggressive approach and it has paid off so far. He has already converted some key fourth and short plays in game changing situations and has even allowed trick plays to be utilized with the game on the line. I wonder if this new mindset has him as the favorite to win Coach of the Year so far through the first half the season? It will be really interesting to see if he continues to be aggressive in the second half the season like he has the first eight games.
Is there anything you are wondering about this week?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.
Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.
McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.
None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.
The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.
Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?
"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.
On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.
Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.
Though Not A Direct Beasley Replacement, Randall Cobb Would Bring Value To Cowboys’ Offense
When the news broke Monday that veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb was visiting the Dallas Cowboys, most immediately assumed he would be a logical replacement for the departed Cole Beasley.
When you take a look at the film and each of their skillsets, however, you quickly see this is likely not the case.
While Cobb would be able to play in the slot as a receiver for the Cowboys if he signs, his value extends much further than just a slot receiver. Where Beasley makes his mark with precise route running, short area quickness, and 3rd down reliability, Cobb is much more of a threat after the catch. He's not the route runner that Beasley is, and really isn't an upgrade over Beasley as a receiver, but Cobb would be able to help the Cowboys' become more diverse in their offensive schemes.
Similar to Tavon Austin, Randall Cobb can be used in pre snap motion and jet-sweep packages, as well as a traditional running back. A college quarterback, Cobb's versatility is what makes him so attractive to NFL teams. Cobb would actually fit more of the Lance Dunbar "scat back" role of sorts for the Cowboys than that of the Cole Beasley slot receiver role. His versatility, however, allows him to carve out a lane within the offense which they haven't quite had before.
Another area Cobb could help the Cowboys is when the play breaks down. With experience in the Packers offense playing with arguably the greatest improviser we've ever seen in Aaron Rodgers, Cobb would be able to help Dak Prescott down the field when he breaks the pocket and the play is off schedule.
So often last season we talked about how the Cowboys offense is reliant on remaining on schedule, staying in front of the chains and not having to force the ball downfield. Unleashing the Mississippi State version of Dak Prescott, where he can improvise and use his legs to create big plays, tends to be when this offense is at its best, however.
Randall Cobb won't be a Pro Bowler if the Cowboys sign him, and depending on the money he receives, it might not even be a lock that he makes the final roster. But Cobb would be an exciting addition to a Cowboys offense which has lacked "creativity" over the last few seasons, and is looking to reinvent themselves to a certain extent.
A receiving corps headlined by Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, with versatile weapons such as Cobb and Tavon Austin behind them, is a pretty good one to head into draft day with.
Signing Cobb would keep the Cowboys from "needing" to take a wide receiver early in the draft, and would allow them to easily shed Allen Hurns if a receiving weapon did fall to them at 58th overall.
Should Cowboys Inquire About Trading for 49ers DL Solomon Thomas?
When it comes to making trades, the Dallas Cowboys are typically the buyer and not the seller. They proved that last season when they acquired Tavon Austin, Jamize Olawale, and Jihad Ward via trade and could be looking do the same once again this offseason. That's why today I want to talk about the Cowboys putting in a call to the San Francisco 49ers to inquire about potentially trading for Solomon Thomas.
New 49ers Defensive Line Coach Kris Kocurek is rumored to be evaluating Solomon Thomas' film in order to determine his fit and future with the organization moving forward. This is no easy task. In his two years in the league they've tried Thomas at DE and DT, but unfortunately the former No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft has yet to find his footing at either position.
Being a man without a position doesn't bode well for Solomon Thomas, especially after the 49ers acquired Defensive End Dee Ford from the Kansas City Chiefs last week via trade. The 49ers are suddenly stacked along the defensive line. That's not all though, things could actually get worse for Thomas.
To further complicate matters, the 49ers could use their second overall pick in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft on the either Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams. If that's what indeed happens, someone is going to be the odd man out. If you haven't guessed it yet, I think that player could be Solomon Thomas.
As a former high first-round draft pick, Thomas would count $7,678,468 against the salary cap in 2019 and $8,958,213 in 2020. That's probably more than the 49ers want to pay for a rotational/backup defensive lineman. And cutting him this season would create $16.6 million in dead money, so a trade is the logical solution.
With all that in mind, it wouldn't surprise me if San Francisco put Solomon Thomas on the trade block any day now. He is only two years into his four-year rookie deal and comes with a fifth-year option as a former first-round draft pick. That means if a team does trade for him they have him under contract for essentially three more years.
If you add all of this up, it makes a lot of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. They need defensive line help and Solomon Thomas needs a fresh start. The Cowboys would get a young versatile defensive lineman and the 49ers get to dump his contract while also receiving some compensation in return. It's a win-win for all parties concerned.
I know what you're thinking though. What would the Cowboys have to give up in the trade? Well, it might not be as much as you think.
Fortunately, Thomas' failure to make an impact his first two years in the NFL favor the buyer, in this case the Dallas Cowboys. He has only four career quarterback sacks, three of which came in his rookie season. Stats of course don't always tell the entire story, but game film does. Unfortunately for Thomas, he can't escape his poor play.
I believe it wouldn't take more than a 2019 fourth-round draft pick to get Solomon Thomas away from the 49ers. Remember, just last season the New England Patriots sent a third-round draft pick to San Francisco and received Offensive Tackle Trent Brown and the fifth-round pick in return. Brown was a more proven player and was in the last year of his contract.
I don't know about you, but I kind of like the idea of Solomon Thomas in a Dallas Cowboys uniform. If anybody can tap into his potential, Rod Marinelli can. Giving up a 2019 fourth-round pick is well worth the gamble in my opinion.
Do you think the Cowboys should inquire about trading for Solomon Thomas?
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