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Oh How Times Have Changed: Cowboys Not The Same Team From Week 1

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Headlines - Record Breaking Rookies Dak Prescott, 1

Nobody saw this coming 13 weeks ago.

The 11 game win streak, the playoff birth, having a chance to clinch the NFC during the re-match with the New York Giants.

None of it.

13 weeks ago, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott looked like rookies, for the first and last times of their careers. Dak's performance wasn't impressive, and left many of us to wonder just how quickly Tony Romo could get back. Elliott looked unsure of himself at times, making some crazed fans even call for more carries for Alfred Morris. Luckily, they both got it figured out pretty quickly.

The Improvement of Dak Prescott

Completing 25 of 45 passes for just 227 yards, Dak avoided the big mistake but also the big play. Prescott threw just 10 of those passes more than 15 yards downfield. When he did throw that far, chaos ensued, as Marty Callinan of ESPN.com pointed out earlier this week. A yards per attempt of 3.6 and a completion percentage of just 20% on his deep ball was the Achilles heel in a Cowboys loss.

Since then, Dak has been one of the best downfield passers in the entire NFL, as you can see in the graphic above.

Of course some will make the argument that Dak's struggles say more about the ability of the Giants defense to confuse and stop him than it does about his improvement over the course of the season. But, I would have to disagree.

As good as we think the Giants pass rush is, and as good as many think Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins are, the Giant still rank just 25th in pass defense, allowing 265.3 yards per game. San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington, Green Bay, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and even Cleveland all rank better than New York here. And, of course, the Cowboys beat every single one of those teams.

In terms of opponents passing yards per attempt, the Giants are much better, ranking 7th in the league at 6.4 YPA. But once again, considering the development of Dak in this offense which has occurred over the last 13 weeks, this number should not scare you.

With Dez Bryant now healthy and in full swing of the offense, Dak has an arsenal of weapons at his disposal which most teams can only dream of. Maybe the deadliest of those weapons is lined up behind him in the backfield.

Feed ZekeCowboys Headlines - Cowboys Pregaming: Will Ezekiel Elliott Emerge?

For Ezekiel Elliott, his first game was by far his worst game. Rushing for only 51 yards on 20 carries, Zeke could not find his stride in the Cowboys loss. A lot of this had to do with the offensive line, who struggled to block Damon Harrison and Johnathon Hankins on the inside.

Since week 2, however, Zeke leads the league in designed runs for 10 or more yards with 37. During that same time span, 28 teams do not have that many 10-yard designed runs, courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info. This number is absolutely insane, and further proves how dynamic the Cowboys run game has been all year long.

Well, all year besides this one game. What was it about the Giants which made it so difficult for the Cowboys to get going?

Of course, their run defense had a lot to do with it. Hankins and Harrison are both beasts in the middle of the defense, leading the Giants to the third best rush defense in the NFL (according to opponent yards per attempt).

The Cowboys also tried too many times to block Olivier Vernon on the backside with Jason Witten. It didn't work too well at all, and I don't expect it to be tried often this week. Let Tyron eat him, forget about tight ends.

But I also think the Cowboys own inexperience and lack of familiarity brought them down. Zeke had only played in one preseason game, and got very limited snaps there. He hadn't run against an NFL defense yet, or even behind his offensive line.

13 weeks in, with the offensive line gelling and Elliott making a push for NFL MVP, I expect them to have much more success.


Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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2 Comments
  • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

    Dak was a little rough in week 1, but Zeke was really rough. He was rushing every play, not being patient and allowing blocks to be made before he got there. I’m a firm believer that the success of the run game creates success through the air, and that week was a bad week for both.

    Looking forward to the rematch. I don’t expect a huge improvement, but definitely enough to cover the 1 point the Cowboys lost by in week one.

    • https://kevinrobertbrady.wordpress.com Kevin Brady

      I agree, even though Dak struggled he played well enough to win in my opinion. One area they really struggled in was the Red Zone, a place where they have dominated in lately, so that should help. That Dez fade looks to be back as well.

Dallas Cowboys

Though Promising, We Need To Relax About Safety Kavon Frazier

Kevin Brady

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Evaluating The Future Of Kavon Frazier, Byron Jones, And The Safety Position

With the addition of former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard to the Cowboys' defensive coaching staff, fans are hoping that Dallas will create their own "Legion of Boom." Of course this is a lofty goal, but one worth pursuing nonetheless.

If the Cowboys are to recreate the Legion of Boom they will need their version of two vital pieces: Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.

The Seahawks defense works, in many ways, because of these two players. Thomas' ability to play centerfield and literally defend sideline to sideline gives the Seahawks the freedom to use Chancellor where he's best, as a box safety. Chancellor is a big, physical safety who defends the run effectively in the box and can blanket tight ends in man coverage with his size and athleticism.

These safeties are arguably the most critical pieces to the Legion of Boom, though having a shutdown corner in Richard Sherman certainly doesn't hurt.

Realizing Chancellor's importance, Cowboys fans are hoping that current safety Kavon Frazier can fulfill this role in Dallas. Since being drafted by the Cowboys in 2016 Frazier has made his home on Special Teams. As an impressive tackler in both punt and kick coverage, Frazier earned himself time at safety down the stretch of the 2017 season.

Kavon Frazier

S Kavon Frazier

All in all, Frazier played rather well. Against the Washington Redskins he stepped in and made a few splash plays at the line of scrimmage, causing Cowboys Nation to lose their minds. After that impressive Thursday night game, however, Kavon Frazier didn't really reach that same level of performance.

Frazier is still a liability when asked to cover, especially when asked to play as a two deep safety. He also struggles when taking angles at times, though playing downhill as a tackler is his best attribute. Frazier actually reminds me a bit of Barry Church, though over time Church became more refined in coverage than Frazier currently is.

Some have argued that Kavon Frazier's presence should stop the Cowboys from considering a first round safety. I would disagree, and actually believe that if Florida State's Derwin James is available, the Cowboys should consider making that pick.

If you could combine the athleticism and coverage abilities of Byron Jones with the physicality and "box safety" qualities of Kavon Frazier, you'd have a fantastic safety. Unfortunately, this isn't the Marvel Universe and we are left without any super heroes in the back-end.

Hopefully Kris Richard will figure out how to correctly place all of these pieces in the Dallas Cowboys secondary going forward.


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Dallas Cowboys

Maverick Carter: LeBron James Considered Cowboys During NBA Lockout

Kevin Brady

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1
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Maverick Carter is a pretty important man in the world of sports. As a business man, entrepreneur, and manager of one of the best basketball players of all time in LeBron James, Maverick Carter is certainly used to making headlines.

This week, while on former NFL running back Arian Foster's podcast "Now What? with Arian Foster," Carter claimed that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones once attempted to negotiate a contract with LeBron James.

During the 2011 NBA lockout, Carter claims that Jones contacted LeBron James and discussed bringing him in as a Cowboy while the NBA was without games.

"Jerry Jones, being the smart marketer he is...one day out of the clear blue sky LeBron got a contract I think it was for like one year, a couple million bucks to play for the Dallas Cowboys." - Maverick Carter.

Carter then states that LeBron may have the paperwork framed in his house to remember these discussions with Jerry Jones. LeBron's fandom for the Cowboys has been well documented, as has been his high school football prowess.

We may never know how "real" these discussions were, and of course it is long over now, but just imagining LeBron James getting a chance to play for the Dallas Cowboys would break the internet.

You can check out the full episode of the podcast here, and I highly suggest listening to the other episodes Arian Foster has to offer.


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Player News

Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Planning

February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.

DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.

Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.

After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.

There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?

David Moore on Twitter

Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.

For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.

Jess Haynie on Twitter

In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys

What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?

First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.

It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.

It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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!


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