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Questioning The Dallas Cowboys Final 53 Man Roster

Brian Martin

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- Auto Draft

The Dallas Cowboys announced their 53 man roster a few days ago and to be completely honest they made some head scratching moves, at least to the people outside the organization.

I thought I would take this opportunity to share with all of you some of the questions I have in regards to the Cowboys roster and what I would do to help provide depth from top to bottom.

I personally found it a little strange some of the positions they decided to go long at, especially considering it caused them to go short at positions that were already worrisome to begin with.

Below are three questions and solutions I have regarding the Cowboys 53 man roster as it stands now.

How many running backs is too many?

Cowboys Headlines - Questioning The Dallas Cowboys Final 53 Man RosterWe all knew that it would be difficult for the Dallas Cowboys to decide which running backs would make the final 53 man roster, but I don't think anyone would've predicted that they keep six total RBs.

It's almost as if they couldn't decide who stays and who goes, so they chose not to make a decision at all.

Ezekiel Elliott, Alfred Morris, Darius Jackson, and Lance Dunbar all look good on paper, but how the coaching staff is going to determine individual roles for each player is completely mind-boggling.

To make matters even more confusing, the Cowboys decided to keep two fullbacks as well.

The Dallas Cowboys only use a fullback occasionally as it is, so to keep two of them means your sacrificing depth at another position.

It's really going to be interesting to see how the coaching staff handles the RBs for the Week 1 match up against the New York Giants. Maybe then we can get some answers.

My solution: Cut both Rod and Keith Smith, which would free up two roster spots and give Geoff Swaim a new offensive role.

Is there safety in numbers?

Cowboys Headlines - Questioning The Dallas Cowboys Final 53 Man Roster 1Minds were blown when the Dallas Cowboys announced the roster cuts and safety JJ Wilcox was not among them.

For years now fans have been calling for Wilcox to get the ax, but for some reason the Cowboys decided to keep five safeties, which saved Wilcox's job for now.

We all know that Byron Jones and Barry Church are penciled in as the starters, with Jeff Heath as the reserve after signing a new long-term contract.

It was thought that the Cowboys would just keep four safeties, with rookie Kavon Frazier claiming that last spot based on his performance in the preseason. That simply wasn't the case, but again the decision to go a little long at the safety position means you have to go a little short somewhere else.

The Cowboys must want Wilcox around mainly for special teams, because he has yet to develop as a reliable safety. He may however be on a short leash if the Cowboys decided to add another player and need a roster spot.

My solution: Keep Wilcox for now, but if depth is needed at a different position (defensive end), then cut #27 and use his vacated roster spot.

Defensive end depth or lack thereof

Cowboys Headlines - Questioning The Dallas Cowboys Final 53 Man Roster 2Probably the biggest surprise when the Dallas Cowboys announced their 53 man roster was the lack of depth at the defensive end position.

I'm sure all eyes will be on who the bookends are on the defensive line when they square off against the New York Giants Week 1. Nobody really knows who is going to start it DE or the Cowboys.

David Irving has shown a little promise in the preseason and it looks as if Jack Crawford will be in that DE rotation somewhere. Then you have the unknown in Benson Mayowa. He played a little bit against the Seahawks, but not really enough to gauge the type of player he is.

I almost completely forgot about Charles Tapper. That's because he has been sidelined with a back injury that we have just found out was more serious than believed. Supposedly he has a small fracture that he's lived with for a while now.

Who knows when or if he will be available?

It's no secret that the Cowboys need depth at DE. That's why it was a little surprising they didn't bring in anybody through waivers.

My solution: If you been paying attention, I freed up two, possibly three roster spots by releasing Rod Smith, Keith Smith, and possibly JJ Wilcox.

I would use those three roster spots to bring in some defensive end depth by poaching Tyrone Holmes from the Cleveland Browns practice squad and sign veteran free agent Ryan Davis. That would give the Cowboys a young developmental player in Holmes and a veteran DE in Davis.

I know that would personally make me feel a lot better about the depth at defensive end.

Do you agree or disagree?

Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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8 Comments
  • Ethan Chazin

    Supposedly Wilcox is a ST player and Bisaccia may have lobbied to keep him. the 2 FBs serve other roles as ST players, pitch in LB and possible pass catching RB? I am not sold on this flawed logic, and it now confirms my worst assumptions of this ownership and coaching staff. They don’t get it after 20 years of failure. No wonder Bill Parcells walked away.

    • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

      Well, to be fair, Bill Parcells hasn’t coached since. But yeah, I generally agree.

    • Brian Martin

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment Ethan. I tend to agree with what you said about the fullbacks. I understand that they serve other roles, but I just think there were probably better ways to use those roster spots. The defense is so thin at defensive end it’s ridiculous. Geoff Swaim played TE/FB in college at UT and I think he could serve the same type of role with the Cowboys. Then you can find some defensive ends that can contribute on special teams and add much-needed depth at the position.

  • Dru

    Def agree. For some reason always wanted to hold onto Wilcox..I’m over that now. Put swaim in the h back role until Hanna returns. I think Hanna has the perfect skill set and size to fit that role. Would love to add those two def ends.

    • Brian Martin

      Thanks for commenting Dru. I really think those roster moves provide better depth from top to bottom on the roster. The Cowboys are dangerously thin at the DE position. They can’t afford to have anybody get injured. And I love the idea of using Swaim as a TE/FB. He filled that role in college at UT and did a pretty good job.

  • Victor Dowell

    Cowboys need 2 bring in a stud at DE,putting presure on the opposing team is a major concern,bite the bullet Jerry Jones bring back Greg Hardy,you can get him on the cheap.”Defense Win Champonships”,Take a page from Jimmy Johnson,as long as you can sack the quarterback,winning will my the haters silient.LoveThemCowboys.

    • Brian Martin

      Victor, there is a reason why Greg Hardy is still unemployed. I think there was a lot more going on behind the scenes then we realized last year with the Cowboys. I think he pretty much burned all of his bridges with the organization and maybe with the rest of the NFL as well. I know it’s kind of hard for us fans to accept, but even though Greg Hardy would immediately improve the pass rush, I think I can say with 100% certainty he will never wear a star on his helmet again.

  • Kevin Cochran

    I agree 100% they need more help on defense very uncomfortable about this first game I also propose putting Gathers at defensive end

Game Notes

SEA 24, DAL 13: Cowboys Offensive Woes Continue

Jess Haynie

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Ezekiel Elliott, Connor Williams, Seahawks
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Inefficient passing and turnovers cost the Dallas Cowboys today, leading to a 24-13 loss to the previously winless Seahawks in Seattle.

Dallas's offense produced just a single field goal by halftime, with Dak Prescott only completing two of his first nine passes for just four yards. He got better as the game went on, but still finished with just 168 passing yards and a single touchdown.

The box score will say Prescott threw two interceptions, but one was a bobbled catch by Michael Gallup. The other was not a good throw, trying to find Blake Jarwin in traffic. Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner went up and caused a tipped ball.

Both picks ended up in the hands, and ankle, of Seattle safety Earl Thomas. He drew a taunting penalty for bowing at the Dallas sideline on his second INT, almost as if mocking the team for not giving up enough to trade for him.

Ezekiel Elliott did have a big day on the ground; 127 yards on just 16 carries. It's his first 100-yard game of 2018. But the fact Dallas couldn't capitalize on Zeke's production was just further indication of their offensive dysfunction.

Hurry home, Travis Frederick. Who knew you were our Offensive MVP?

Other Notes

  • While Zeke did have a strong rushing performance, two critical errors were big parts of the Cowboys' loss. An early TD catch was called back because Zeke stepped out of bounds before making the reception. Also, Elliott's fumble in the 4th quarter squandered a strong drive that could have started Dallas' comeback attempt sooner.
  • Dallas' defense looked good early but clearly wore down over time. Seattle RB Chris Carson ground out 102 rushing yards on 32 carries. Russell Wilson took advantage of some miscues in the secondary for two touchdown passes and 192 passing yards.
  • Tyrone Crawford got called for another bogus "roughing the passer" penalty after a clean hit on Wilson early in the game. The NFL has to get this figured out, because it's becoming a bigger eyesore for the league than any amount of kneeling ever did.
  • Tavon Austin got his second touchdown catch this year, the only Cowboy to record a receiving TD so far this year. Tight end Geoff Swaim had five catches for 47 yards, reminding the world that Dallas actually has TEs on their roster.
  • Speaking of which, as Troy Aikman commented on during the game, Rico Gathers was not used in redzone passing situations. Why is Gathers dressing for games and not being utilized in the one situation where he's not a liability?
  • Sean Lee left the game after reaggravating the hamstring injury he suffered last week. It meant more playing time for first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch, who reminded you of Lee with how he was getting to the ball. Both finished the game credited with 11 tackles each.
  • Rookie guard Connor Williams continues to struggle when up against powerful defensive tackles. It's not a surprise for a converted college tackle, but growing pains still cost you on game day. Dallas may have to consider starting Joe Looney at guard once Travis Frederick comes back.
  • Kicker Brett Maher went 2/2 today on field goals, including a 50-yarder. He has hit four straight after missing his one attempt against Carolina in Week 1.
  • The rest of the NFC East won their games today. That puts Philly and Washington at 2-1 and now evens up the Cowboys and Giants at 1-2.
  • Dallas returns home next week to host the Detroit Lions, who are currently 0-2. They play the Patriots tonight.



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Game Notes

Why The Seahawks Will Be Looking Into A Mirror Against The Cowboys Sunday

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

For the better part of the last decade one defense has reigned supreme over the NFC. One defense has continually put their offense and team in position to win big games, including a dominant Super Bowl win over one of the more productive offenses in recent memory.

That defense, of course, belonged to the Seattle Seahawks.

With a secondary deemed as the "Legion of Boom" and a defensive line which rotated through Pro Bowl level talent routinely, the Seahawks bolstered one of the best defenses the NFL has ever seen. A defense which perfectly complimented the physical, run first philosophy their offense lived by.

Players like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, and Bobby Wagner will arguably be Hall of Famers one day, and they wreaked havoc on the conference for a strong 3-5 year stretch.

Now, however, things are changing.

Gone are many of the elite players which once bolstered the Seattle defense to top-tier status, and while some big names remain, the talent level simply isn't the same. The Seahawks missed the postseason a year ago, and now sit at 0-2 before their home opener today against the Cowboys.

Their window looks to be closed, while their opponent today is looking to build their defense (and team) in the mold of what once was in Seattle.

Former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard has come to Dallas and brought with him a more aggressive defensive philosophy, one which he deployed successfully with the Seahawks. Under Richard the Cowboys are blitzing more often on third down than they have in the past under Rod Marinelli, they're utilizing more single high safety looks, and they are allowing their long and talented corners to do what they do best in coverage.

The Seahawks once leaned on a deep pass rush and long, physical secondary. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.

The Seahawks once leaned on a mobile quarterback to make plays with his feet while relying on a strong running game and one of the league's best backs. The 2018 Cowboys are looking to do the same thing.

Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie look like they were molded in a 2013-Seahawks lab as cornerbacks, and DeMarcus Lawrence is as productive as any pass rusher those defenses had. Of course, we aren't able to say the Cowboys have the consistent front four depth that those Seattle teams did or that they have the single high safety of Earl Thomas' caliber, but the preliminary pieces are clearly in place.

Today the Cowboys look to improve to 2-1 with a conference road win. But, they also look to bury the Seahawks in the past and take another step towards cementing themselves as one of the elite defenses in the NFC.

It won't happen over night, but anyone can see that the potential is there.



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Player News

Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?

Sean Martin

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Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins is out for Sunday's game at the Seahawks with a sprained knee, further opening the door for Datone Jones to earn his spot among the "Hot Boyz". The moniker given to the Cowboys front seven this season, the team's depth up front has been a strength in totaling nine sacks through two games.

Last season, Datone Jones was a part of this rotation late in the year. Coming on strong at the 3T position while Maliek Collins played at the 1T, Jones is the type of versatile defender with veteran experience that Rod Marinelli can get the most out of.

Returning from a knee injury himself, Jones may take some time to be the disruptive interior player we saw at the end of 2017. Through two games, the Cowboys had played Collins at his original position of 3T, with Antwaun Woods doing more than enough to continue playing at 1T.

This potentially makes Collins and Jones two players fighting for one spot. Collins followed up his performance at the Panthers with a sack of Cam Newton by constantly playing in the Giants' backfield last week.

John Owning on Twitter

Guessing that means no Irving, I'd say Tyrone Crawford then Antwaun Woods. I have high hopes for Datone Jones once he returns though. https://t.co/9frjFK2J9J

A player determined to not let his team's misuse slow down his progress, after an incredible rookie season at 3T, Collins is returning from his second broken foot in three years.

Through his five years in the NFL, Jones has only played a full 16 games once.

The most games Datone has started in a season is four. Maliek Collins should like his chances of playing over Jones once both are healthy, and the Cowboys should be equally thrilled with the opportunity to keep both fresh in rotation.

Following Sunday's game in Seattle and next week against the Lions, the Cowboys can return David Irving from suspension to play all over their defensive line - his best position also being at three technique.

Without the wealth of talent they now have at all four positions up front, the Cowboys have had too many bodies to fill similar roles in the past. Thanks to the addition of Kris Richard along with strong edge play from Taco Charlton and rookie Dorance Armstrong, the Cowboys defensive line can do no wrong in 2018, and using Jones in week three and beyond should only add to this.

The Cowboys biggest key to success against the Seahawks will be containing Russell Wilson. Pressuring him in his face to collapse the pocket gives Dallas a chance to really slow the Seahawks offense, something they'll be relying on Jones to help them do as DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory also work with favorable match ups at defensive end.

Tell us what you think about "Could Cowboys DT Datone Jones Earn Starting Role with Maliek Collins Out?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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