Its time for another edition of #PlayoffPrimer, and after looking at the Cowboys running backs and wide receivers, we'll move on to part of the best unit in the National Football League - Dallas' offensive line.
Specifically, we'll look at the tackle position, where I already wrote that the Dallas Cowboys may have found some solid depth with Emmett Cleary. The presumed starters in the playoffs though will be Tyron Smith and Doug Free.
You couldn't ask for a better starter at left tackle in the playoffs than Tyron Smith. The best LT in the league, Smith should be healthy for the Divisional Round after missing the second-half of the Lions game and all of week 17 against the Eagles.
A healthy Tyron Smith absolutely takes opposing teams' right defensive ends out of the game, and the Cowboys could see a few talented ones in Olivier Vernon, Cliff Avril, and Ezekiel Ansah throughout the playoffs.
If you buy into narratives, some will tell you that Vernon - the Giants' premier free agent signing and edge rusher - has been the only defender to give Smith consistent trouble, but a closer look at the tape has shown that Tyron holds his own against not only Olivier Vernon but any rusher in the NFL - often times dominating the match up enough to get called for a few phantom holding calls.
Turn on the TV before the Cowboys kickoff this postseason, watch the offense come out onto the field, take note of #77 starting on the far-left side of the line - and then forget about him for the rest of the game.
I'm here to tell you that Doug Free is actually good at football. While many in Cowboys Nation disagree, Free is asked to stand out among first round picks like Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. While he's far from as dominant as these other starters, Free is still an above-average player that does his job well on a consistent basis.
Defensive coordinators charged with the task of game planning against the Cowboys' great wall know that attacking Smith at LT is a lost cause, and they scheme their best defensive ends to attack Free - who consistently holds his own.
Like Tyron Smith, Doug Free will face tough match ups in the playoffs, but should be up for the challenge - sensing that his time in Dallas may be up well before the rest of this offensive line.
Thanks to this line, the Cowboys could be looking at a long stretch of dominance in the NFC, but Free's focus needs to be on putting together his best three games to raise the Lombardi Trophy with his teammates in Houston.
Free's primary focus in this regard should be on limiting penalties, as the entirety of the Dallas offense has shot themselves in the foot far too often over the final quarter of this season with untimely flags.
As mentioned, I already broke down Cleary's game in the above post. To summarize, while you certainly want Tyron Smith taking every snap the rest of the way out at left tackle for Dallas, I would feel relatively comfortable with Cleary in an emergency situation.
The journeyman lineman made the most of the playing time he received over the past two weeks, and now will enter the playoffs with the Cowboys confident in his ability to be their only real backup option at tackle.
If he plays like he did throughout the Eagles game, Cleary could become an unsung hero should the unthinkable happen and Tyron Smith exits a playoff game due to injury.
My Playoff Primer series will continue up until the Divisional Playoffs, and we'll round out the offensive line by looking at the interior players next.
Is Terrance Williams Roster Spot Safe with Dallas Cowboys?
This will hardly be the last article written about the wide receivers of the Dallas Cowboys entering the 2018 season. However, we can only hope it's the last off-field incident that will factor into the difficult decisions the Cowboys will make on their final depth chart at WR. Yesterday, veteran Wide Receiver Terrance Williams was arrested for public intoxication after leaving the scene of a crash involving his Lamborghini.
Cowboys WR Terrance Williams released a statement on his recent arrest detailing several facets of the incident: "I have always been an upstanding citizen and handled the situation the best way I know how.
Details concerning the severity of the incidents that led to Williams arrest remain somewhat unclear. His on-field production certainly has not been though, putting himself in an expendable position by failing to catch a touchdown in 2017 and only going for over 100 yards once.
Handling this Terrance Williams situation in whatever the "right way" is will be yet another critical decision the Cowboys make under Head Coach Jason Garrett. A team that has clearly valued continuity under Garrett, there is precedent for the Cowboys keeping a now-troubled player like Williams if the void he'd leave behind is too large.
It is widely believed that this is a Cowboys coaching staff working to keep their jobs in 2018. Losing Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Terrance Williams in one offseason may very well be too much.
Already dealing with a broken foot that expects to keep Terrance Williams out of football activities until training camp though, it is becoming increasingly easier for Williams to become forgotten about in new WR Coach Sanjay Lal's room.
New additions to this unit include FA signings Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson, along with rookies Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson. Joined by the likes of KD Cannon, Lance Lenoir, and Malik Earl, all of these receivers are going to stake their claims for a spot on the Dallas Cowboys before Williams even catches another pass from Dak Prescott.
Once perceived to be fighting for positions below Hurns, Williams, and Cole Beasley as locks on the final 53 man roster, Williams' arrest is the epitome of "next man up" in Dallas. Even if Williams remains with the team in 2018 - as cutting him would only make moral sense for the Cowboys, not financial - his days as a starting receiver may very well be numbered.
As mentioned, this won't be the first look we have at the status of the Cowboys receivers. I'm already on record having high expectations for Michael Gallup, and believe Cedrick Wilson was one of the steals of the draft for the Cowboys in the sixth round. The unproven nature of this pass catching unit (through to TE with rookie Dalton Schultz) is going to make for fascinating training camp battles, competing for spots in an offense that could still be one of the league's best.
Terrance Williams Arrest: Salary Cap Impact if Released
The news of Cowboys Wide Receiver Terrance Williams' arrest yesterday sent a shockwave through an otherwise quiet mid-May news cycle. Many fans are wondering what the team might do, and what effect decision could have on Dallas' salary cap.
Unfortunately, moving on from Terrance won't bring the team in cap relief. But given their current cap space and where we are in the offseason, the Cowboys should have the freedom to cut the receiver if they choose to.
Depending on who you ask (OverTheCap, Spotrac), the Cowboys have somewhere between $5-$9 million in current cap room. If they release Williams before June 1st, his cap hit accelerates from $4.75 million to $7.25 million in dead money. That means he counts $2.5 million more off the team than on it.
If Terrance is cut on June 1st on later, the 2018 dead money is $4.75 million for a net-zero wash. That extra $2.5 million counts against 2019.
While that may sound cost-prohibitive on the surface, you have to remember where we are in the offseason. May is very different from March when you're talking about cap space.
Free agency is essentially over. The Cowboys don't need to worry too much about their 2018 cap room at this point, so they can absorb Williams' dead money if they want to cut him loose.
Martin's 2018 cap hit is currently around $9 million. Once he signs his new long-term deal, which is almost sure to come before training camp, that number should go down significantly. Dallas can do an immediate Year One restructure and potentially create around $6 million in cap space.
That alone would facilitate cutting Terrance Williams, but then they also have the hopeful new deal for Lawrence. The $17 million that Lawrence currently counts as a franchised player will go way down with a long-term contract. If Dallas can get that done, they may not have to touch Martin's deal.
The point here is that while cutting Williams is not a financially beneficial move, the money shouldn't stop the Cowboys if they don't want him around anymore.
If Terrance has proven anything during his five years in Dallas, it's that he doesn't have the talent to step into a primary role. With new arrival Allen Hurns and Cole Beasley both showing they can produce at a high level at times, plus exciting rookie Michael Gallup now in the mix, the Cowboys' season hardly relies on Williams' presence.
Of course, the Cowboys have a history of sticking by their guys during times of personal problems. Josh Brent did way worse than Terrance and remained supported by the organization.
But each situation and player are different, and the coaches may have already soured on Williams after a lackluster 2017. They may have only kept him because of those cap numbers we discussed before.
Terrance's latest dropped ball may have been the final straw, though. If so, the salary cap shouldn't stop Dallas from cutting him.
BREAKING: Terrance Williams Arrested For Public Intoxication After Car Accident
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams is in jail after crashing his car, a Lamborghini, into a light pole, per the Star Telegram. The incident occurred approximately at 3:00 AM, according to the reports and Williams, who fled the scene was arrested two hours later. He was arrested for public intoxication and was also charged for leaving the scene.
According to Clarence Hill, Williams was still in jail as of 11:30 AM.
Kate Hairopoulus, from SportsDay, reported that according to Frisco Police, the Lamborghini was found without a driver. After determining that the car belonged to the Cowboys' wide receiver, they proceded to arrest Williams near his residence, where he was riding an electric bicycle.
This certainly explains why T-Will wasn't arrested for DUI instead of public intoxication. Hairopoulus also reported that Williams has been released on a $369 bond.
Without much more details, Terrance Williams' future with the Cowboys doesn't look very promising as of right now. After hauling a lot of receivers during the offseason, the WR room in Dallas will feature a lot of competition.
Williams, who's recovering from a fractured foot and missing the offseason programs, has something to prove. Certainly, an accident like this doesn't help much his cause.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll keep you updated with more details about Terrance Williams' arrest.
Last updated at 2:20 PM CDT.
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