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Re-Signing LB Anthony Hitchens is a Must for Cowboys

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Anthony Hitchens
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys still have four games left in the 2017 season, but this offseason may already be on the minds of those in the Cowboys front office. This offseason, the Cowboys have multiple key players hitting free agency: DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Jonathan Cooper, Alfred Morris, and Anthony Hitchens.

That last guy on my list may be the most underappreciated player on the team.

When you’re in the same free agent pool as DeMarcus Lawrence, who leads the NFL in sacks with 13.5, and David Irving, who has been on a tear of late (7.0 sacks in just eight games), it’s understandable to fly somewhat under the radar. But allowing Anthony Hitchens to sign elsewhere would be a massive mistake for the Dallas Cowboys.

Cowboys Headlines - Rolando McClain's Suspension Puts Dallas Cowboys In Tough Situation

Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

In his four years with the Cowboys, Anthony Hitchens has improved each season and this year he has finally broken out. In his first three years with the team Hitchens has 36 starts, 220 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 1 interception.

Not only has he been great at middle linebacker, but he’s also slid in and played WILL linebacker at a high level when asked to.

Hitchens’ position flexibility is something this defense heavily relies on.

After suffering a foot injury in a preseason game against the Oakland Raiders, some initially thought that his season would be over. Hitchens missed just four games in the beginning of the year and came back to be one of the few bright spots on a defense that has been extremely inconsistent all season.

In eight games, Hitchens has 40 tackles, and has been a force stopping the run. The fourth-year player has had to play multiple linebacker positions due to the injuries of Sean Lee, and the inconsistent play of Jaylon Smith and Justin Durant.

Wherever Anthony Hitchens is asked to play he does his job at an extremely high level.

Jon Machota on Twitter

The runner was ruled down, but what a crazy effort by Anthony Hitchens to strip the ball upside down in the air https://t.co/xOd570ZKqO

If his level of play hasn’t impressed the Cowboys’ front office enough to re-sign him, the lack of talent and depth at linebacker definitely should.

At the end of the 2017 season, the Cowboys linebacker depth chart will look a little something like this:

  • Sean Lee
  • Jaylon Smith
  • Damien Wilson

That is not ideal after seeing the struggles of both Jaylon Smith and Damien Wilson, and the injury history of Sean Lee.

This Defense Lacks Physicality Without Hitchens

Hitchens always seems to be around the football and that shows from his 15 total tackles from the Washington game last week.

While he’s not quite on the same level as Sean Lee, Hitchens does a very good job of shooting the right gaps and taking good angles on ball carriers. His play against the run and the little bit of work he does in coverage, makes him one of the best defenders on the Cowboys’ roster.

https://twitter.com/aRwarriorX/status/936410936470056960

The Cowboys’ defense by no means has been great in 2017, but it’s tough to think about what the defense would look like if Anthony Hitchens isn’t on the roster.

Re-signing a player that stays relatively healthy and has the position flexibility of Anthony Hitchens is a no-brainer for me. Let’s hope the Dallas front office feels the same way.

Must Anthony Hitchens be re-signed this offseason? Let me know below!

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Born in 1995, loved Football but more importantly the Dallas Cowboys since day one. Living in Redskins Country flying the Blue and Silver flag as high as possible. Covering the Dallas Cowboys for InsideTheStar.com and CowboysNation.com. Catch me on twitter @connorx147 !

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6 Comments
  • blaine

    I think Hitchens has earned a new contract. However, that shouldn’t deter the team from seeking linebacker talent in the draft(Roquon Smith/Malik Jefferson). Hitchens is the perfect plug and play player, and it seems to behoove him to come off the bench in Marinelli’s rotating scheme. Just my opinion.

    • EverybodyTalks

      Totally agree. I still want the boys to grab an ILB in the draft. Roquan in the 1st, would be great. He even looks like Sean Lee in his play. If not him, there are some very good ILBs in the 2nd and 3rd rounds also.

  • oneputter

    i do like hitchens, solid LB who has become the “thumper” of the group. he is a must re-sign.

    i am also a fan of wilson. he quietly plays his game while making a lot of plays, he can also lay the wood. i do think he needs to be used in blitz packages a more. hopefully 57 works on his coverage skills over the off season something he needs to improve on, he needs to return as well.

    regarding the video of him blowing up the TE, you saw what happened to Paul (TE) last time he tried to lead block, 50 put his but to sleep…..he wanted no more of it.

  • Donald Mabus

    Hitchens is a rotational guy at best. He misses way too many tackles trying to lower the boom. Wrap the runner up and bring them down. That is something the whole team needs to work on. Hitchens also lacks coverage skills.

  • Hector Espindola

    Yes, he must be re-signed! Specially if Lee goes down again. I don’t know if there will be enough money to sign all those free agents, but I do know the team does not have a “quality next man up”, except for Rod Smith, who can be a fine replacement of Morris.

  • Bilbo Baggin

    Ya if we can afford Lawrence,Irving and him. Love those first 2 playing together if they can stay off the suspended list or injury list. We need stud corners in the draft though hope they let McClay pick this one.

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La’el Collins’ Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise

Brian Martin

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La'el Collins' Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise 1

The decision by the Dallas Cowboys to move La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle was met by some skepticism by quite a few members of Cowboys Nation during the off-season. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of those skeptical of the move, but I’m not afraid to admit he has exceeded my expectations.

In all honesty, I always believed that La’el Collins’ best position in the NFL is on the interior of the offense of line as a guard. I thought he could use his strength and athleticism to his advantage when working in a phone booth against slower and less athletic defensive tackles. That’s not to say I didn’t think he would make a good right tackle, I just thought he had Pro Bowl potential as a guard.

Strangely enough, Collins has probably put together a Pro Bowl caliber season in his first season starting at the right tackle position for the Cowboys. He has become an upgrade over the previous starter Doug Free, and is really starting to earn high praise from the brass. Stephen Jones in particular has been impressed with Collins, especially considering how he has played after missing two full weeks of practice.

Mark Lane on Twitter

DallasCowboys COO Stephen Jones told @1053thefan La’el Collins has answered the bell after his contract extension.

I personally agree with everything Stephen Jones said about La’el Collins. I’ve really enjoyed watching his progression this season, but I have been really impressed how he played the last two weeks after missing so much practice.

You might not of known, but Collins has missed two full weeks of practice due to a herniated disc in his back. This is put his availability to play against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants in jeopardy, but somehow he has toughened up and played considerably well.

This unfortunately will be something he has to continue to battle through the rest of the season, but I’m not going to bet against him playing. He absolutely makes this offensive line better and I would hate to see Chaz Green or Byron Bell back on the field after the way they played as feel-ins.

La’el Collins has without a doubt earned my respect and I think it’s about time we all recognize the player he is turning into. I know the Dallas Cowboys appreciate all that he does and believe that his recent contract extension is money well spent.

What do you think about La’el Collins?

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Cowboys’ DE DeMarcus Lawrence Fed Up With NFL Officiating

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Crossroads: Is This a Short-Term or Long-Term Team? 2

The Dallas Cowboys were able to come away with a 30-10 victory over the New York Giants Sunday afternoon in what was described as a must-win situation in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. Typically, when these two teams square off against one another there are sure to be some kind of fireworks in the ballgame, but the final volley of explosions didn’t go off until after the completion of the game during an interview with DeMarcus Lawrence.

DeMarcus Lawrence didn’t hold back in his post game interview, especially in regard to the NFL officiating. He let his frustrations known that he is fed up and that he’s not going to take it anymore. At least not quietly that is.

Lawrence, the NFL’s sack leader, ripped the officiating crew after the Giants game Sunday afternoon for not calling any holding penalties. There was actually one holding penalty called against the Giants, but the point Lawrence was trying to make still rings true.

Joe Trahan on Twitter

Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence goes on an explosive rant about officiating, in particular, a lack of holding calls by linemen against him. And yes, Lawrence realizes he a fine is coming, whether he’s got a point, or not. And yes, he probably does. https://t.co/UU51xQi05p

DeMarcus Lawrence certainly has a right to be mad and I don’t blame him at all for voicing his frustrations about the lack of holding calls against opposing offensive lineman. This actually adds more fuel to the fire that there is indeed an officiating conspiracy against the Cowboys.

In fact, you may or may not be surprised to learn that there have only been two holding penalties called on Cowboys’ opponents in the last 10 games, including the one against the Giants Sunday afternoon. For comparison sake, the Cowboys offensive line have been flagged 18 times during that time span.

It’s gotta be a coincidence, right? Maybe, maybe not. But, one thing is for sure… DeMarcus Lawrence has had enough!

Of course, Lawrence’s outburst will surely earn him a fine from the NFL, but it may be worth it if it draws more attention to the poor officiating the Cowboys have been receiving. I don’t know about you, but I for one am glad #90 will not “go gentle into that good night“.

Do you think DeMarcus Lawrence’s frustration is justified?

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Travis Frederick Nominated For Walter Payton Man Of The Year Award

Sean Martin

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Travis Frederick

Every year since 1970, the National Football League has honored a player that goes above and beyond to give back to their community while excelling on the field of play. Known as the Walter Payton Man Of The Year Award since 1999 (the year the Chicago Bears’ Hall of Fame RB passed away), the Dallas Cowboys’ 2017 nominee is starting C Travis Frederick.

Next month, three finalists will be chosen out of the current field of 32 nominees, and Cowboys Nation will know further if their three-time Pro Bowl center can become the fourth Cowboy to win this award.

TE Jason Witten is the most recent member of America’s Team to take home this prestigious honor back in 2012, meaning that he will play the rest of his career with this sleek jersey decal that was revealed last night.

Brian McCarthy on Twitter

New tradition starting tonite: Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winners to wear special patch on their jerseys to recognize their contributions to their communities. @saints @drewbrees among the 5 current winners

As their 2017 nominee, Frederick will sport the same logo as a helmet decal. The issue Travis Frederick has grappled with the most since being drafted by the Cowboys is hunger among school children and low-income families.

Frederick’s Blocking Out Hunger Foundation includes a pantry that provides over 10,000 meals a year and his Nourish2Flourish program is on pace to provide students 90,000 meals by the end of this year.

Travis Frederick Walter Payton Man Of The Year – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

This video from the NFL’s release of the 2017 Walter Payton Man Of The Year nominees shows the full range of people Frederick has impacted with his generosity and outreach as a star for a Cowboys team that consistently strives to lead the league in these efforts.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

@dak, @tfrederick72 & @DCC_Tasha visiting @MedicalCityKids, spending time with patients and staff. #CowboysGiveBack

On the field, Travis Frederick has dealt with multiple LGs starting next to him, anchoring the Cowboys’ offensive line through these transitions with his steady play and leadership. Originally seen as a reach of a draft pick, Frederick has blown past most draft projections for him out of Wisconsin in 2013 thanks to his intelligence at the center position.

Taking this same approach to his community service efforts, Frederick is now at the center of an award that all 32 teams would be proud to have on their team for the Dallas Cowboys.

Congratulations to Travis Frederick and the 31 other nominees from around the National Football League.

Tell us what you think about “Travis Frederick Nominated For Walter Payton Man Of The Year Award” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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