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Roster projection: More than a few unknowns in store for Dallas

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Cowboys Blog - Roster projection: More than a few unknowns in store for Dallas

My last installation of the Cowboys final 53 was a look of who makes the team without Special Teams consideration. This iteration takes a step back into reality. The first reality that should be considered is that the Cowboys will be taking a very hard look at the waiver wire when teams across the league make their final cuts.

The positions the Cowboys are likely looking to address - based on what we have seen so far in preseason, the injuries that have racked up, and of course, the impending suspension of Orlando Scandrick - are as follows: Full Back, Tight End, Defensive End, Linebacker, and Corner.

I would not be the least bit surprised to see a new face at any of these positions – if not all – when the final 53 is announced.

Offense:

Quarterback

With Scandrick not being considered a part of the 53 while serving his suspension, there is still room to carry Dustin. Once Scandrick is added back to the roster the Cowboys will have to decide who adds more value to the team as a whole; a 3rd QB or depth at Defensive End. Given Romo’s questionable back situation, it may be in the Cowboys best interest to ensure Weeden’s backup is already on the roster, as opposed to scraping the bottom of the barrel should the worst-case-scenario become reality.

Wide Receiver

One of the most talented groups of players on the team, some very difficult cuts will be made here. Jamar Newsome likely deserves a spot on this team, but it will be difficult for the Cowboys to keep more than 6 wide receivers, all things considered. An idea I have been kicking around that is plausible is the potential of a trade from this group to fortify another position to avoid having to gamble on the waiver wire if they can find a willing trade partner looking to do the same.

Tight End

  • Jason Witten
  • Gavin Escobar
  • James Hanna

If the Cowboys only keep 3 running backs and drop both fullbacks, this position will likely receive a blocking-type Tight End from the waiver wire.

Running Back

  • DeMarco Murray
  • Lance Dunbar
  • Ryan Williams
  • Joseph Randle

Given the best 53 approach, the Cowboys may drop the full back idea all together in favor of keeping both Ryan Williams - the better runner - and Joseph Randle - the better Special Teams contributor. However, last-minute moves to the waiver wire could spell the end for one. It has long been my opinion that should Murray be injured, Lance Dunbar would still be the change of pace back and either Williams or Randle would take the lead back role. With that in mind, Williams has done more to win the coaching staffs confidence in being a workhorse, between-the-tackles type of runner. Randle has some shiftiness to his game and can find the hole, but he doesn’t have the same explosion as Williams.

Full Back

  • none / waiver wire

Tyler Clutts has disappointed thus far in establishing himself as a lead blocker coming out of the backfield. Having said that, Linehan wants a fullback in this offense, which is why if the Cowboys do keep one, it very well may be someone presently sitting on another team roster.

Tackle

Guard

  • Zack Martin
  • Mackenzy Bernadeau
  • Ronald Leary
  • Uche Nwaneri

Center

No changes at any position on the offensive line. If the Cowboys keep more than 8, then it's a battle between Darrion Weems and John Wetzel.

 

Defense:

Defensive End

  • DeMarcus Lawrence
  • George Selvie
  • Anthony Spencer
  • Jeremy Mincey
  • Tyrone Crawford
  • Kenneth Boatright

With both Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Lawrence starting the season on the injury list, the Cowboys will definitely be watching the August 30th waiver wire with their fingers crossed to address the defensive line. Wilson was already cut, freeing up a spot for a new face come next week.

Defensive Tackle

  • Henry Melton
  • Terrell McClain
  • Davon Coleman
  • Nick Hayden

Given the nod to start against the Dolphins, Davon Coleman may have already solidified his place in the rotation that Marinelli has planned to throw at opposing offenses. Zach Minter also saw some time in the first half, however, given the issues the Cowboys are having with injuries at defensive end, it's difficult to imagine the Cowboys keeping more than four Defensive Tackles.

Linebackers

If the Cowboys are able to move a receiver, as opposed to cutting to avoid competing on the waiver wire, due to the loss of Holloman this is likely the position they will be looking to address. I doubt the Cowboys go with only five linebackers into the regular season; but in my opinion the 6th linebacker is not yet on the team.

Cornerbacks

  • Brandon Carr
  • Morris Claiborne
  • Terrance Mitchell
  • Sterling Moore
  • Tyler Patmon

B.W. Webb is on the outside looking in. I have read different takes on his play from both sides of the spectrum in terms of his contributions, but he is not a player that can be trusted, particularly against the larger variety of receivers. Sterling Moore and Tyler Patmon are new additions to my final 53. Patmon makes it based on 1 part performance against the Dolphins and 2 parts necessity, considering Scandrick’s impending suspension and Morris Claiborne's inability to remain healthy. Justin Green did not standout in his performance against Miami, however, with corners that could be a good thing. It suggests that whomever he was shadowing was never open. For now, Sterling Moore gets the nod over Green due to his familiarity with the system. That could change come Thursday when both will be getting an extended look with the rest of the bottom of the roster players.

Safety

  • Barry Church
  • J. J. Wilcox
  • Jakar Hamilton
  • Ahmad Dixon
  • Jeff Heath

Perhaps not as difficult as the running back or receiver quandary, safety will be a tough decision for the Cowboys coaching staff. It is possible the Cowboys keep the above five, which wouldn’t create too much of an issue. But given the Cowboys are still light at linebacker, this could be a cut that occurs following the final 53 to bring on a waiver wire prospect.

 

Special Teams:

Kicker

  • Dan Bailey

Punter

  • Chris Jones

Long Snapper

  • L.P. Ladouceur

Bailey and Ladouceur are still locks... that won't change any time soon. Chris Jones had a good showing against the Dolphins, but he still is not on the same level as the other Special Teams contributors.



I am 35, married and a father of 2 boys. I have been a Cowboys fan since Jimmy Johnson took over; not because I had anything against Tom Landry, but because it just so happens I was old enough to start following and understanding football right as that new era began. Since then, I haven't missed games if I could help it.

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1 Comment
  • Jonathan

    I’m reluctant to remove Parnell due to the trust factor / comfort level the coaches seem to have. Every year it seem’s a player will get outplayed in preseason and yet still figure out away to take the spot. Nick Hayden is another player I retained that I think hasn’t really showed up like others; but the Cowboys keep throwing him in the starting rotation.

    I also found out Martez Wilson was cut today. Despite him being on my final 53, I’m actually not that surprised. I still say this will be a position that could see a new face once all the cuts are made across the league.

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Was Sunday A “Wake Up Call,” Or Were Cowboys Exposed?

Kevin Brady

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Was Sunday A "Wake Up Call," Or A Flashback To Reality?

Entering last Sunday's game in Indianapolis, the Dallas Cowboys were riding high. Having won five straight games, including key victories over the top seeded Saints and division rival Eagles, everything seemed to be breaking right for the Cowboys heading into the home stretch.

Their defense was playing like one of the best in football, and after firing Paul Alexander and trading for Amari Cooper their offense was clicking just as they'd hoped. They needed (and still need) just one win to officially close out the division and clinch a home playoff game in January.

Instead, the Cowboys got absolutely demolished by the Indianapolis Colts. Of course, there's no shame in losing a road game to an 8-6 team in the NFL, but the way in which they lost certainly deserves some shame. Not even the 23-0 score can encapsulate the complete butt-kicking Dallas received at the hands of the Colts, and it was the type of loss that can sometimes make you question the blueprint.

The Cowboys, however, are not looking at it that way. Multiple leaders in the locker room have spoke this week about how they "needed" to lose like that. Running back Ezekiel Elliott called the loss embarrassing, but also said it is better for Dallas in the "grand scheme of the season."

Clearly, the leaders and coaches are calling the putrid performance a wake up call, something that will galvanize them and reset their win streak heading into the postseason. But is this really the case, or was the shutout defeat more of a sign of things to come?

Obviously it's too early to say for sure, but I do think it can be a little bit of both.

No, the Cowboys are not the class of the NFC, despite beating what can be called the best team in the same conference a couple weeks ago. There probably will prove to be some drop-off from the top 3 seeds in the conference and the Cowboys, if for no other reason than Dallas will have to go on the road to play those teams in the playoffs. It's really hard to win on the road in the NFL, especially with the increased wackiness of 2018.

The Cowboys offense is far from perfect or prolific, though if clicking they now have the skill talent to drop 30+ points any given Sunday. Their defense is talented, has a high ceiling, but is still very young and inexperienced. Though they've played elite level games before, they've also had some stinkers against the Colts and Titans during the same season.

All of this can be true. The Cowboys can be a team deserving of the playoffs, a team we should not be panicking over, but still a very flawed football team. They can be a team that if "hot" could make a run through the postseason, but also will have to answer some tough questions about coaches and players during the next two offseasons.

After all, who isn't greatly flawed in today's NFL? Hell, we just saw the beloved Rams lose two straight games.



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Is it Too Late For Dallas to Fire OC Scott Linehan?

Brian Martin

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Scott Linehan

Grab your pitchforks and your torches, it's time to run the Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan out of town. His playcalling has been absolutely atrocious season and it's time for him to hit the road, even if there are only two regular-season games left on the schedule.

It's completely unorthodox for an NFL team to fire an offensive coordinator this late in the season, but just last week we saw the Minnesota Vikings do just that when they parted ways with John DeFilippo. It was definitely a bold move to make considering the Vikings are still in playoff contention, but it was something they believed was in the best interest of their team.

I believe if the Dallas Cowboys want to do what's best for their team right now and not later, then they should go ahead and cut ties with Scott Linehan. His predictability and un-creativeness as a play caller is holding back a talented offense, which is hurting the overall team as a result. He's been given every opportunity to turn things around, but enough is enough.

I'd personally be on board with Jason Garrett taking over the playcalling duties. He has the experience and held the position with the Cowboys from 2007 until Linehan was hired. I'd even consider giving Kellen Moore a shot as the OC. He knows the system and has worked closely with Quarterback Dak Prescott. Regardless, the Cowboys need to find some way to increase their offensive productivity.

Kellen Moore

Dallas Cowboys QB Coach Kellen Moore

Right now the Cowboys offense is the 26th scoring offense in the NFL and are averaging just 19.7 points per game. To make matters worse they are the 31st ranked Red Zone offense in the league. I don't know about you, but I think that is completely unacceptable with the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball.

Firing Linehan has been a long time coming. The Cowboys flirted with the idea earlier this season during the bye week and should've pulled the trigger then, but for some reason or another decided to let him stick around. They are definitely still paying for that mistake now.

The Cowboys mistake not to replace Linehan could mean yet another early exit in the playoffs, something we have unfortunately become accustomed to. Scoring just 19 points a game isn't going to get them very far, which is truly unfortunate considering the talent they've acquired this season.

Unfortunately, as much as we would love to see Scott Linehan tarred and feathered and run out of town, I just don't see the Cowboys doing that before their season is officially over. But, in no way should he be allowed to retain his position beyond this season. He clearly isn't the answer any longer.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should fire Scott Linehan?



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Despite Embarrassing Showing, Health Remains Biggest Cowboys Concern

Kevin Brady

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Zack Martin

What is it about the AFC South with these Dallas Cowboys?

Dallas' five game winning streak came to a close on Sunday, as they got straight-up embarrassed by the now 8-6 Indianapolis Colts on the road. The loss was the first since the Cowboys were embarrassed by a different AFC South competitor, the Tennessee Titans, on Monday night football earlier this season.

Though the final was 23-0, and not a single phase (or really even a single player) showed much fight or promise, the biggest concern I have for the Cowboys moving forward didn't change because of the putrid performance. It didn't change because the defense was gashed play after play or the offense failed to finish a single drive. And it didn't even change because both the Redskins and Eagles secured season-saving victories on the same day Dallas was dismantled.

The biggest concern is still their health, particularly across the offensive line.

That was not a playoff caliber interior offensive line the Cowboys put out their on Sunday. Not even close.

With their backup center in Joe Looney, backup guard in Connor Williams, and the very last interior offensive linemen on their roster in Adam Redmond playing for basically the entire game, this offense never had a chance. Dak Prescott wasn't any more inaccurate or indecisive than normal, but all those who like to scream "step up in the pocket" whenever he is sacked did not seem to have an argument this week.

There often was no pocket to step into, as those interior three, specifically Looney and Redmond, failed to provide much protection or confidence for Prescott at all. Joe Looney has actually been rather solid this season, but Sunday felt like one of his worst games of the entire year.

The Cowboys absolutely need Zack Martin to get healthy if they are to make any noise whatsoever in the postseason. At the very least, the need Xavier Su'a-Filo to come back and replace Redmond, and regain the form he displayed during his debut against the Eagles back in November.

Prescott already has issues with his pocket presence and footwork when pressured, so throwing three backup-level linemen right in front of him is not a recipe for success for the Cowboys.

I'm not jumping out of the window over this loss, and I don't think any of you should be either. Dallas had won three straight incredibly emotional and important home games to extend, save, and solidify their season respectively before this loss. They had also just about clinched the NFC East a week ago with their win over Philadelphia, and they played like a team that was due a flat performance

A letdown loss on the road, against a good team I might add, is not the end of the world. The bigger issue here is their health, because if Martin can return to anchor this offensive line, the offense should look a whole lot better than they did against Indianapolis.

It's time to move on from Sunday, go beat Tampa Bay, officially clinch the division, and get ready for Wild Card Weekend.



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