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Revisiting Anthony Brown’s Rookie Season With The Dallas Cowboys

Brian Martin

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Has Anthony Brown Become The Cowboys Best CB? 1

The Dallas Cowboys have some work to do this off-season filling the holes in their roster. No position may be in more dire need of being addressed then the cornerback position. And to think, things could even be worse if not for last years sixth round draft pick, Anthony Brown.

To state that Anthony Brown was a godsend is an understatement.

As a sixth round draft pick, Brown wasn’t even guaranteed a roster spot in training camp, but he took advantage of his opportunities when one of the players went down with an injury.

He ended up playing in all 16 games and started nine of those contests. He finished his rookie season with 55 tackles, eight passes defensed, one forced fumble, and one interception. Those are all pretty impressive numbers, especially when you compare them to Jalen Ramsey’s, who was the first CB drafted in 2016 NFL Draft.

Ramsey started all 16 games and finished his first year in the NFL with only 10 more tackles (65), six more passes defensed (14), and one more interception (2). Ramsey did however score a defensive touchdown for the Jacksonville Jaguars, something that Anthony Brown unfortunately wasn’t able to accomplish.

You can see for yourself that the Dallas Cowboys received tremendous value in the sixth round by drafting Anthony Brown instead of investing their first round draft pick in a player that put up similar numbers.

Of course, both Ramsey and Brown are just getting their professional careers started in the NFL and things may change in time. But, there’s no denying that #30 has a bright future in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys.

Has Anthony Brown Become The Cowboys Best CB?

CB Anthony Brown

If not for Dak Prescott‘s impressive rookie season, then we would all be raving about the year Anthony Brown had for the Cowboys. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending how you look at it, Brown was overshadowed by both Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. That’s just how good the Dallas Cowboys 2016 draft class was.

The Cowboys rookies played a total of 3,136 snaps in 2016 and do you know who played the most?

No, it wasn’t Anthony Brown. It was the Cowboys future signal caller, Dak Prescott, with a total of 1,011 snaps. But, Brown did finish second with 715 snaps, ahead of Ezekiel Elliott (712), Maliek Collins (662), and Kavon Frazier (36).

The former Purdue Boilermaker cornerback may have been able to stay somewhat in the shadows his rookie season, but that will surely change in 2017 since he is projected to start at one of the CB positions. In fact, he might just be the best CB the Cowboys have on their roster currently.

As things stand right now, Anthony Brown, Orlando Scandrick, and Leon McFadden are your top three corners for the Cowboys. So, you can see why this position absolutely has to be addressed this off-season.

Fortunately though, #30 at least gives all of us Dallas Cowboys fans a glimmer of hope that the future of the CB position is getting younger and more talented. We just have to hope that continues.

What do you think of Anthony Brown’s first season in the NFL?

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

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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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5 Comments
  • dallas1966

    Brown was a breath of fresh air to the secondary. Despite being picked on by veteran quarterbacks, like Aaron Rodgers, in the playoffs. Brown still held his own. He reminds me of another Brown, that the Cowboys had in the 90’s, that was the MVP of Super Bowl 30, Larry Brown. If the Cowboys can luck up, on selecting another quality corner, like the corner from West Virginia, can’t think of his name, who held his own, recently in the Senior Bowl. In addition, to the Cowboys finding quality in the latter rounds, with Muhammad, of Miami, Rivers ,of Youngstown, to resolve the pass rush woes. It would be great also, if the Cowboys was able to get the safety from Connecticut, in addition to Hooker, Ohio State. Let’s not forget Fred Ross, receiver and friends with Dak, of Mississippi State. One can drwam, right? It’s time for Jerry to seal the deal.

    • Brian Martin

      The CB you are thinking about from West Virginia is Rasul Douglas. I agree with you there. I really like Douglas. He is a tall CB and has a fluidity to his game that should make him a really good player in the NFL. I also like Derek Rivers. I don’t think I would consider him a late round pick. I currently have a late 2nd/3rd round grade on him. But, Mohammed would be a good find in the later rounds. He is really talented, but the off the field issues will drop him down that far I think. I also like with the safeties you mentioned. I think Hooker will be gone before the Cowboys are on the clock in the first round, despite undergoing surgeries. Obi Melifonwu would be a good addition hopefully in the third round, but the Cowboys would probably have to take him at 60. Overall, there’s a lot of good players in this draft that can certainly help the Cowboys in 2017.

      • dallas1966

        Thanks Brian for your thoughtful comments. With Mr. Jones, induction in the PFOH, Class 2017, Dak, Rookie of the year, Zeke, co-FEDX offensive player of the year, Coach Garrett, Coach of the year, and most important of all, the Cowboys offensive line, the best of the year. The Cowboys future looks very bright. Now let’s get some that hardware for the defensive side of the ball.

        When that happens, we will finally see the Cowboys Trophy case, fill up, by bringing the Lombardi Trophies back to big d, like the Cowboys teams of the 70’s and 90’s. As a diehard Cowboys fan since 1966. I’m looking forward to years of dominance, once again.

        Especially, if yhe Cowboys, hit on those defensive player, I mentioned in aforementioned article. How About Them Cowboys Super Bowl Bound!!

        • Brian Martin

          Free agency and the draft can’t get here soon enough. I want to see the new pieces they add to this team, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

  • Nigel Forde

    great,bright future go AB…..

Star Blog

Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?

Sean Martin

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Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 3

Three of the four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs — a win away from the Super Bowl — ranked within the top four defensively in yards per game allowed this season. The other is the defending-champion New England Patriots, who of course were expected to reach yet another AFC Championship game, thanks to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

Somewhere between this field, losing their 2017 hopes at a deep playoff run to injuries, suspensions, and just poor execution at times, are the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys ranked eighth in yards allowed per game at 318.1 this season.

On the surface, all this provides hope that typically springs eternal around the league through the offseason.

It has been far too long since the Cowboys defense matched the skill level of the team’s offense, but Rod Marinelli’s unit (not exactly by design) outplayed that of Scott Linehan’s at times through this 9-7 campaign.

This defensive rebuild in Dallas began with the admission that this group had reached their ceiling in the offseason, as the Cowboys let long-time starters like CB Morris Claiborne, CB Brandon Carr, S Barry Church (now with the Jaguars), and S J.J. Wilcox go in free agency.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense?

Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis, CB Chidobe Awuzie, S Xavier Woods (AP Photo / Ron Jenkins)

For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, looking to turn over an entire secondary in a division featuring Carson Wentz, Eli Manning, and Kirk Cousins as quickly as the Cowboys did was a risky move. Their confidence in hitting on draft picks paid off though.

The Cowboys’ bright future is predicated on the likes of CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Jourdan Lewis, and S Xavier Woods.

With two young starters at cornerback, the sky truly is the limit the this Cowboys defense. And they’ll play in support of an offense with more than enough talent to return to form in 2018.

As it stands now under Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys defense is built to keep everything in front of them, and get bodies to the football. This coverage-friendly approach could be taken to new heights with Lewis and Awuzie on the outside, along with Anthony Brown finding a home in the slot. All three cornerbacks have excelled at using their speed, length, and technique to get their hands on passes.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 1

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

Of course, games are won in the trenches, where the idea of the Cowboys defensive line ever rising to the level of their offensive line was laughable until recently. Whether it’s with the franchise tag or a long-term extension, sack-artist DeMarcus Lawrence looks to be an all-important member of this entire team moving forward.

A healthy Lawrence was a nightmare for opposing right tackles in 2017. He earned a national spotlight each week on his way to the quarterback 14-and-a-half times. Making it look easy at times, Lawrence is a refined rusher with the speed and power to win inside and out.

The RDE position remains a sore spot in need of talent as this Cowboys defense looks to take the next step, but there’s hope for the likes of Randy Gregory, Charles Tapper, and Taco Charlton to get the job done, along with veteran starter Tyrone Crawford.

With Crawford at RDE for much of 2017, running the ball against the Cowboys front was a tall order. His ability to capture the corner against left tackles came as a pleasant surprise to many, and once in position, the defensive captain chased down plenty of plays.

Tyrone Crawford wasn’t the only pleasant surprise on the Dallas Cowboys defensive line this season.

Rookie Taco Charlton looked like an entirely different player to close a first year in Dallas that began with completely uninspiring results. Charlton — having the physical traits to play at the next level — was never a question out of Michigan.

He may never be a player to take over games for a defense, which the Cowboys couldn’t have expected to find at DE selecting 28th overall, but an improved player at DE and DT could be an incredibly valuable asset for the Cowboys in 2018 and beyond.

This leaves the Cowboys linebacker corps, where we find the best example of young potential on the entire defense. Amazingly playing in all 16 games, LB Jaylon Smith is in line to take a massive step forward in year two.

Smith closed his season looking enticingly close to the player he was at Notre Dame, an encouraging sign as the Cowboys look to become less dependent on Sean Lee on this side of the ball.

Lee and Smith paired together would give the Cowboys a middle-of-the-field presence to rival the best in the league. Both players have exceptional range and awareness to run down plays from sideline to sideline.

Anthony Hitchens, an impending free agent, is another valuable piece at LB with his ready ability to play all three positions at a relatively high level.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 2

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

Stefon Diggs racing to the end zone with no time left to send the Vikings to the NFC Championship game will be the lasting image of this past Divisional Round weekend, an offensive play that will live on forever.

A closer look at these games and the teams that survived them reveals a collective trust in defenses, a trust the Cowboys could be blissfully close to with their own young defense.

The Cowboys are likely losing one of the smarter minds behind their defense in recent years, with Matt Eberflus ticketed for Josh McDaniel’s staff, and are still in need of a secondary coach after not retaining Joe Baker. In a league where better talent typically prevails though, the possibility of the Cowboys building a championship defense for next season and beyond may not be far off.

With defenses in Jacksonville and Philadelphia providing the hope that both teams can pull off the impossible and reach the Super Bowl on Sunday, will defensive potential be enough for Dallas to get through this long offseason and start the even longer path back to their first NFC Championship game in 21 seasons?

Tell us what you think about “Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Star Blog

Can Rico Gathers Make Cowboys Offense More “Dak-Friendly”?

Brian Martin

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Rico Gathers, Rams

The Dallas Cowboys unfortunately face all kinds of questions heading into the 2018 offseason. Right now, there are no answers to those questions, which means we’ll just have to sit back and take a wait-and-see approach. But, one question that absolutely has to be answered is how to make the Cowboys offense more Dak Prescott friendly.

Offensively, the Dallas Cowboys had an extremely disappointing year in 2017. Suspensions and injuries are the main culprits for the disappointment, but the Dallas Cowboys haven’t really changed things much in the scheme or personnel to help Dak Prescott succeed.

The sad truth is, the Dallas Cowboys are still operating as if Tony Romo is the starting quarterback. It’s pretty much the same personnel and scheme, but it really doesn’t suit Prescott.

It’s time for that to change. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that will happen overnight.

The Cowboys spent years putting together the personnel to help Romo. Just when they thought they had the missing piece — by drafting Ezekiel Elliott, Romo sustained a back injury, pretty much ending his career.

Anyway you look at it, the offensive personnel needs to improve in order to make this team more “Dak-friendly”.

Enter Tight End Rico Gathers.

Rico Gathers

Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

The Dallas Cowboys have invested two years in Rico Gathers’ development, but with the exception of a few flashes in preseason, they haven’t benefited from the fruits of their labor. The 2018 season should be Gathers’ coming-out party.

We all witnessed what the Cowboys offense looks like when they are forced to rely on the passing game. Dak Prescott struggled to find any kind of consistency throwing the ball — with the options he had at his disposal in 2017 — while Ezekiel Elliott served a six-game suspension.

Defenses decided to take Prescott’s favorite target out of the equation by bracketing Cole Beasley in coverage. Then, they also devoted extra attention Dez Bryant‘s way, making it difficult to get him the ball.

The only other option left really was Jason Witten on simple check downs.

And that is what the future Hall of Famer has been reduced to.

Jason Witten is no longer the threat he once was. Yes, he is still a reliable target, but his age is starting to catch up to him, which has unfortunately robbed him of some of his athleticism. We will no longer see Witten stretch the field down the seam, or run many routes further than 10 yards.

That’s why I think Rico Gathers could be a difference maker in 2018, especially for Dak Prescott.

Prescott needs more than an outlet receiver at the TE position. No offense to Jason Witten, but that’s pretty much what he has become at this point in his career.

Rico Gathers on the other hand is not only different from Witten, but also provides a different skill set than any other TE on the Cowboys roster. He’s a big target with athleticism, who cannot only move the chains, but stretch the field and break tackles in the open field.

Gathers’ sheer size alone creates mismatch problems against smaller defensive backs and linebackers, but his athleticism should allow him to create separation, something which fits into what Prescott needs from his receivers.

There is no reason why the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff can’t find a way to incorporate Rico Gathers’ unique skill set into the offense. They may not truly trust him to be an every down player, but that’s not happening anyway, not with Jason Witten on the roster.

If it was me, I would have a few packages in the playbook specifically designed for Gathers. I not only think this will help him grow as a player, but help the Cowboys offense become more “Dak-friendly”.

Can Rico Gathers make the Cowboys offense more “Dak-friendly”?

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Months Later, it Seems Jaguars S Barry Church was Right

Kevin Brady

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Months Later, Jaguars Safety Barry Church Wa E

About five months ago, before the 2017 NFL season had even begun, former Cowboys safety Barry Church made comments which made Cowboys Nation scratch their heads. Now a Jacksonville Jaguar, Church said his current team was more talented than his former, the Dallas Cowboys.

At the time, many fans and writers alike laughed off his comments and chalked it up to typical preseason hype. Most people thought Church was crazy for suggesting a 13-3 team had less talent than the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team led by Blake Bortles.

Well, five months later, it’s become clear Barry Church was right.

Brian Chojnacki on Twitter

Jaguars safety Barry Church says he feels this Jags team has more talent than his #Cowboys squad last season. Dallas went 13-3. https://t.co/EcbxfUGsvy

This weekend the Jaguars went on the road to Pittsburgh, and came away with a wire-to-wire victory in January. The Jaguars were the more physical team from start to finish, and dominated from the opening kick off.

On the road.

Against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now the Jaguars are preparing to do something the Cowboys haven’t done in two decades: play in a conference championship game.

The Jaguars and Cowboys will be linked for the next decade or so due to decisions each made during the 2016 NFL Draft. And while it appeared the Cowboys pushed all the right buttons in 2016, it now looks as if the Jaguars are preparing to compete for AFC supremacy for years to come.

With their talented secondary, dominant defense, and physical rushing attack, the Jaguars have built their team in the mold of past champions.

The Cowboys have attempted to do some of the same, but it certainly looks as if Barry Church was correct in his preseason assessment of the two rosters.

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