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Next Man Up: Where Do the Dallas Cowboys Lack Depth?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Wish List for Dallas Cowboys 1st Preseason Game

When you take a look at the Dallas Cowboys roster, it's easy to get excited about the upcoming season. Both on offense and defense, this team has a talented group of players on almost every position. In fact, when it comes to starters, there are very few spots of concerns. Other than safety and tight end, all of the other positions seem filled with pretty good players on the starting lineup. However, the grind of an NFL season inevitably leads to injuries and starters need time off. To succeed in this league, not only does a team need quality starters, but also quality depth. "Next man up" might sound like a cliché, but it's a philosophy every team must preach to get where they want to go.

Today, we'll take a look at those positions where the Cowboys lack depth. Obviously, losing starters is never good, but this are the positions that would be impacted the most by a serious injury.

In Swaim's Absence And Among Witten Rumors, Jarwin And Schultz Shine

Tight End

This might just be the most intriguing position of all for the Cowboys. The return of Jason Witten has been the headline of the position this offseason, but we could see him split most of the snaps with the younger guys such as Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz.

As much as I believe that this group of tight ends could surprise Cowboys Nation this year with Kellen Moore as the new offensive coordinator, it remains a group of guys with a lot to prove. Jarwin showed signs of promise last year, specially in week 17 when he went off for 119 yards and three touchdowns. As a rookie, Schultz didn't do much but still improved throughout the season. This is a talented couple of players who could be productive but have yet to prove their true worth in the NFL.

Not to mention, Witten has something to prove as well. Sure, his Hall of Fame career is undeniable, but this time he's 37 years old and has spent one year away from the game. He needs to prove he still has what it takes and that he'll be valuable to a young offense. The Cowboys lack depth at the position, but have some young guys and a reliable veteran to potentially surprise us once the season begins.

Availability a Cause of Concern for Cowboys' New-Look Secondary

Cornerback

Starters Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie should have a good 2019. But what about the backups? Anthony Brown played as the team's third cornerback and although he's decent, there isn't much behind him. Personally, I'd love to see more of Jourdan Lewis but it remains to be seen whether or not he'll be used by Kris Richard and company. Last season, the Cowboys seemed to completely forget about him despite having some impressive flashes during his rookie season and a great performance against the New Orleans Saints last year.

The Cowboys are one injury away from having some serious trouble on their defensive backfield. They can't afford to lose Awuzie or Jones at any point of the season. This might be the position that worries me the most in terms of depth.

Linebacker

Cowboys Nation should be very excited about this unit. After dominating in 2018, Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith should be even more dangerous next season. However, depth is a cause for concern. Sean Lee could be used as a starting strong linebacker (SAM) when the team lines up on its base defense (4-3) or as the backup for Vander Esch as a weak linebacker.

Beyond Lee (who is very injury-prone), the position lacks more players. Joe Thomas and Justin March-Lillard would likely be the next men up. Despite their important contributions on special teams, the team would really miss any of the starters if these guys have to take the field.

Having Lee as the team's backup weak LB (WILL) would help the depth. But it's worth noting the Cowboys could have an unfortunate weak spot on the SAM LB position. Where Lee plays will be a very important decision for the coaching staff. Considering his injury history, though, it's hard to be confident about the position's depth.

Tell me what you think about "Next Man Up: Where Do the Dallas Cowboys Lack Depth?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @MauNFL.

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Can TE Blake Jarwin Poach Snaps From Jason Witten?

Brian Martin

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Will TE Blake Jarwin see an Increased Offensive Role in 2019?
(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

Don't look now, but Tight End Blake Jarwin may be ready to climb out of obscurity and announce to the world his ready for a much larger offensive role with the Dallas Cowboys. With Jason Witten back in the mix though, that could be easier said than done.

Jason Witten is expected to become the Dallas Cowboys starting TE once again, even after sitting out the entire 2018 season due to his short retirement from the NFL. With Witten back as the lead dog, Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz will have to fight over the scraps left over. There's no way of really knowing how much meat will be left on the bone, especially since the Cowboys are expected to put No. 82 on a snap count this season.

Being put on a snap count is something Witten is unaccustomed to, but it does create opportunities for the Cowboys other young TEs to emerge and show what they can do. That's actually really good news for Blake Jarwin, who finished the 2018 regular-season on a strong note.

You may have forgotten, but Jarwin had himself a pretty impressive game in the Week 17 against the New York Giants to close out the 2018 regular-season. He caught seven passes for 119 yards and three touchdowns in that contest, which in my opinion showcased the kind of weapon he can be if utilized more often in in the passing game.

Blake Jarwin, Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys TE Blake Jarwin

It takes more than one impressive game to earn more playing time though. We all want to believe Blake Jarwin is ready for an increased offensive role, but Jason Witten isn't going to sit idly by as an observer from the sideline. He's a competitor and will want to be on the field as much as possible, despite any kind of snap count the coaching staff tries to limit him to.

Jarwin is really going to have to become a much more consistent player if he wants to poach some offensive snaps away from the future Hall of Famer. I believe the talent and athleticism is there for him to become a key weapon in the Cowboys passing game, but you know what they say… "Seeing is believing".

Luckily, Blake Jarwin still has all of training camp and preseason to push Jason Witten for more playing time in 2019. It shouldn't be all that difficult for a 24-year-old in his prime to put the pressure on someone nearly 20 years his senior. But, we all know Witten is a crafty veteran who knows the all the tricks of the trade to still perform at a high level. Will it be enough though?

That is the question that will be determined here in about a month when training gets underway for the Dallas Cowboys. I may be wrong, but I have high hopes for Blake Jarwin this season and I think he can actually poach some snaps away from Jason Witten. After all, this is a young man's game.

Do you think Blake Jarwin can poach some snaps away from Jason Witten?



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Is Kavon Frazier Fighting a Losing Battle With the Dallas Cowboys?

Brian Martin

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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.

Kavon Frazier

Dallas Cowboys S Kavon Frazier

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?



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Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019

Kevin Brady

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Predicting Dallas Cowboys Roster Locks, Pre-Training Camp Edition
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Why The Numbers Expect Regression, But Success For Cowboys 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.



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