Teams around the NFL had to cut 37 players following the conclusion of the fourth and final preseason game in order to get into the league mandated 53-man limit. There'll be a lot of talk about how "final" rosters look ahead of the 2019 season, but we all know there is no such thing as a final roster. Each and every team will continue to make moves in the coming weeks and throughout the year to their rosters, and the Dallas Cowboys are no exception.
Don't be the least bit surprised if the way the roster looks right now isn't the way it looks in Week 1 against the New York Giants. For instance, Running Back Ezekiel Elliott isn't currently on the roster right now, meaning if he returns before the Giants game a move will have to be made. This is true for nearly every position for the Dallas Cowboys.
With all of that in mind, I thought I would go position by position and provide a little breakdown of what I think the Dallas Cowboys brass could be thinking.
Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush
It's no surprise the Dallas Cowboys just went with two QBs on their 53-man roster. The QB2 battle between Cooper Rush and Mike White never materialized, making No. 7 Prescott's backup for now in 2019. The Cowboys could be on the lookout for a more proven veteran, maybe Brian Hoyer, but they good just as likely stick with status quo.
Running Back (3)
Tony Pollard, Alfred Morris, Jamize Olawale
Carrying just two traditional running backs on the 53-man roster would suggest that a contract agreement between Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys is close to happening. But when/if it does Dallas will need to cut someone in order to add Zeke to the roster. That could mean Alfred Morris' spot is in jeopardy. He is not likely to see many touches behind Pollard and No. 21 and he doesn't play special teams. That's not exactly what Dallas looks for in a RB3.
Wide Receiver (5)
Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Randall Cobb, Tavon Austin, Devin Smith
There were questions about how many WRs the Dallas Cowboys would choose to carry on the 53-man roster, five or six, but you can't really argue with who they chose to keep. The top four in the Cooper, Gallup, Cobb, and Austin were pretty obvious, but deciding who to keep between Devin Smith and Cedrick Wilson was a tossup. It couldn't have been an easy decision, but Smith edged out Wilson, who was released. Luckily, No. 16 cleared waivers and was brought back to the practice squad.
Tight End (3)
Jason Witten, Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz
No real surprises here. The only real question about the position is the health of Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz for the season opener against the Giants. Both players are banged up right now, but should be able to contribute behind future Hall of Famer Jason Witten when things kick off Week 1 in the regular season.
Offensive Line (11)
The Dallas Cowboys surprisingly went really heavy on the offensive line, but don't expect that to last very long. Rookie Connor McGovern looks to be headed to injured Reserrve (IR) after his latest setback with his pictorial injury and one of the three between Looney, Su'a-Filo, and Redmond could get traded. The biggest surprise though was the decision to keep Brandon Knight. They must not have thought they could slip him through waivers.
Defensive Line (10)
DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong, Tyrone Crawford, Taco Charlton, Kerry Hyder, Joe Jackson, Antwaun Woods, Maliek Collins, Trysten Hill, Christian Covington
Having to release talented rookies like Daniel Wise and Jalen Jelks is a testament to the talent and depth the Dallas Cowboys had along their defensive line this offseason. Wise luckily cleared waivers and was brought back to the practice squad, but it was risk to release him to begin with. The rest of the players they decided to keep along the DL isn't all that surprising. It's a talented group and that's without Robert Quinn or Randy Gregory, meaning another roster move will need to be made eventually.
Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Sean Lee, Joe Thomas, Justin March, Luke Gifford
The Dallas Cowboys top four (Smith, LVE, Lee, and Thomas) were all no-brainers and provide tremendous depth for the Dallas Cowboys heading into the 2019 season. Justin March stuck around due to his veteran experience and special teams ability and Luke Gifford edged out fellow undrafted free agent Justin Phillips and second-year LB Chris Covington to stick to the roster. The latter, Covington, was brought back on the practice squad.
Byron Jones, Chibode Awuzie, Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, C.J. Goodwin
The only real surprise about the quarterback position is the fact the Dallas Cowboys chose to part ways with Mike Jackson and Donovan Olumba to keep C.J. Goodwin instead. Jackson and Olumba both have more upside as CBs, but Goodwin should end up being the Cowboys special teams ace in 2019. Jackson and Olumba have both cleared waivers and have been added back on the practice squad.
Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath, Donovan Wilson, Kavon Frazier, Darian Thompson
Deciding to go deep at the safety position could be the biggest surprise about the Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster after making cuts. If Donovan Wilson and Darian Thompson weren't banged up I kind of doubt Frazier would've made the cut, but since both could miss a game or two with their injuries he sticks around for now. Don't be surprised if we see this position see some changes though. Dallas could be watching the waiver wire very closely for a potential upgrade.
Special Teams (3)
Brett Maher, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladouceur
Honestly, there are no real surprises here whatsoever. There was some speculation Kasey Redfern could stick around at the expense of Chris Jones due to his versatility to handle the punting responsibilities as well as being an emergency placekicker, but that was clearly just hearsay. The Cowboys however could have their eyes on potential kicking replacements. Maher could be on a short lease, even though he's been kicking better as of late.
What did you think of the Dallas Cowboys "final" 53-man roster?
Amari Cooper Continues to Feast on the Philadelphia Eagles
The 2018 trade that sent the Dallas Cowboys 2019 first-round draft pick to the Oakland Raiders has been genius since last year. But it'll never get old bringing it up after many panned the Cowboys for making the move when the Philadelphia Eagles sent a third-round pick, for now, New York Giants Wide Receiver Golden Tate.
The beauty of this deal for the Dallas Cowboys is that their trade for a wide receiver worked out tremendously and at the same time, their biggest rival's trade for a wide receiver fell flat. The other part that continues to make the deal for Amari Cooper a dream come true is the way he's played against the Philadelphia Eagles in some high-leverage games.
In week 10 of the 2018 season, Cooper's second game with the Dallas Cowboys, they found themselves facing an uphill battle for the NFC East as they sat at 3-5 in what would become the first must-win game of the season. After spending just two weeks with the Cowboys, Cooper put up a six reception, 75-yard effort in the Cowboys win that brought them to 4-5. That victory would propel them to win their next five games in a row and go 6-1 over their final seven games.
In their division-clinching win in week 14, Amari Cooper put up an all-time game when he caught 10 passes for 217 yards, and three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime.
Yet again, in a pivotal matchup for the NFC East between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles, Cooper showed up yet again. He really likes playing against Philly. On the night he had five receptions on five targets for 106 yards. Cooper had receptions of 44 and 28 yards that helped set up scores to put the game out of reach.
In addition to those two big receptions, Amari picked up two other receptions for first downs, something that we've come to expect at this point. The Dak Prescott to Amari Cooper connection continues to be a treat to observe as the two are on just another level when it comes to their chemistry.
On the 44 yard bomb, the Cowboys put Cooper in motion, and though the man didn't travel with him, Dak knows he's got single coverage on the outside. Prescott uses a good shoulder faint to sell the slant to Cooper before he runs a sluggo route (a slant and go) and gets behind his man and away from the deep middle safety down the sideline. That reception helped set up the first of Brett Maher's two field goals in the final two minutes of the first half, which made it 24-7.
Then at the start of the fourth quarter, with the Dallas Cowboys attempting to milk the clock and also ice the game, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper come up with another big-time throw and catch. This time down the right sideline.
After Randall Cobb goes in motion, Prescott again knows he has Amari with single coverage at the top of the screen. Much like they did last year in the week 10 matchup where Cooper had more than 200 yards receiving, Prescott puts the ball out in front of Cooper and gives him an opportunity to run under it.
Amari Cooper's ability to use his speed and body positioning to go from out of position to make the play in an instant is an incredible thing to watch. Unlike Dez Bryant, he's not using a jumping ability to beat these defenders to the ball, Cooper's simply using his frame and speed to get into a better position to make these over these shoulder catches down the field.
In three games now against the Philadelphia Eagles, Amari Cooper's caught 21 passes for 398 yards and three touchdowns. More importantly, the Cowboys have recorded three huge wins against their NFC East rival in those games.
If and when the Dallas Cowboys extend Amari Cooper this season or in the offseason to a long-term extension, it should send shivers down the spine of the Philadelphia Eagles and their fan base. He's abused the Eagles over the last year and it's unlikely that they'll be better for the next meeting later in the season. At this point, Amari Cooper probably gets really excited to see the Eagles on the other side of the field from him, knowing that there isn't a defensive back that can hang with him in man coverage.
Jason Garrett Deserves Major Praise For Cowboys Week 7 Win
Jason Garrett's seat had never been hotter than it was entering Sunday night.
And that's saying a lot.
The much maligned head coach of the Dallas Cowboys has been fending off those who have called for his job since the very day he took the team over from Wade Phillips in 2010. Garrett has been called a yes-man, the "clapper," and flat-out a bad football coach by seemingly every national media outlet despite the success he's had as the coach in Dallas.
That's right, I said success.
Yes, there has been no championship level success under Garrett's regime, but there has been success. Since 2014, Garrett has led the Cowboys to 3 division titles in 5 years and has reached the Divisional round of the playoffs three times. He's 16-5 against the NFC East in the Dak Prescott era, and has the Cowboys in first place of the division through seven weeks once again.
So, there has been success. But certainly not enough of it to defend his every move.
Jason Garrett messed up in New Jersey. There's no way around it. Sloppy game management and poor control of the clock put his team in a tough situation against the Jets, and ultimately led to their disastrous week 6 loss. He was outcoached and out-prepared by a winless team, and suffered one of the worst losses in his era as the team's head coach.
Fans were calling for his job, and rightfully looking for answers as to why such a talented group of players was in the midst of a three game skid that no one had predicted after their fast start to the 2019 season. Dallas' backs were against the wall, and they had to answer against the Eagles in order to salvage a season which had such high hopes just weeks before.
And, as Jason Garrett's teams have done more often than not, the Dallas Cowboys answered. Garrett's Cowboys had been plagued by slow starts during their three game losing streak, but his team came out on fire on Sunday night. Dallas forced two quick fumbles, scored two easy touchdowns, and were up 14-0 before the Eagles had even blinked.
The game was over, and it had just started.
Jason Garrett is far from perfect as a head coach. He often deserves criticism, and he has some faults which are hard to look past as we project what the Cowboys will be down the stretch of the season. But he deserves major praise for this team's week 7 performance. It would've been easy for the Cowboys to once again come out slow on Sunday, get behind early, and fall into the shell they had found themselves in the previous two weeks.
But instead, they fought. They dominated. And they won.
Games like these are why it's so difficult for the Cowboys to move on from Jason Garrett as their head coach. These teams play hard for him, and they are rarely out of contention on any given Sunday, or during any given season.
Jason Garrett's seat is still hot. The Cowboys will need postseason success to ensure that it cools to a comfortable temperature for the coach this offseason. But kudos to him and the Cowboys for getting a massive win on Sunday night.
Brett Maher Named NFC Special Teams Player of Week 7, 2019
Brett Maher's 63-yard field goal last Sunday may have been a drop in the bucket on the scoreboard for the Dallas Cowboys. But the historical significance of that kick, and it's near record-breaking distance, helped Maher earn the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week award for Week 7 of the 2019 season.
Maher went 3/3 on the day as the Cowboys routed the Philadelphia Eagles. But it was the 63-yard FG at the close of the first half which brought Brett this latest accolade. He became the first kicker in NFL history have three career field goals of 60 yards or more.
1st player in @NFL history to have three career FGs of 60 yds or more ✔️ @brett_maher is your NFC Special Teams Player of the Week! → https://t.co/MFiAnAScrY
Maher's kick was one yard short of tying the record, 64 yards, set by Matt Prater in 2013.
It was weeks like this one which helped Brett Maher keep the Cowboys' kicker job this year despite mixed results in 2018. He won two Player of the Week awards last season and showed off his rare long-range ability, but was one of the least accurate kickers overall from shorter distances.
That same mixed bag has been seen this year. Despite his work on Sunday, Maher is at just 71% accuracy on his total field goal attempts right now.
Hopefully, Brett's big day over the Eagles will spark a hot streak. His range is an incredible weapon for the Cowboys; can he consistently prove that he's more of an asset than a liability?
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