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Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New “Wrinkles” in Cowboys Offense

Sean Martin

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Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New "Wrinkles" in Cowboys Offense
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

The Dallas Cowboys are 1-2 through their first three games of 2018, appearing to fall behind the rest of the NFL's true contenders with each passing week. Faced with a crucial game on Sunday against a Lions team with a lot to prove, the Cowboys have put themselves in this position thanks in large part to pedestrian coaching and poor execution.

Dating back well before the Cowboys opened this season with a 16-8 loss in Carolina, managing only 232 yards of offense (a number eclipsed by both the LA Rams and Minnesota Vikings in the first half of Thursday's contest), Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan has been the Cowboys coach under the most fire.

Linehan's failures to maximize the Cowboys talent on offense, which is seemingly eroding in front of a helpless staff's eyes so far this season, can be attributed directly to Cowboys losses a year ago. Perhaps unfortunately for Dallas, last year was put behind them before it was even over, written off thanks to injury and Ezekiel Elliott's six game suspension.

David Moore on Twitter

Cowboys OC Scott Linehan hints at more creative game plan vs. Detroit for a team that ranks No. 30 on offense. "We're obviously searching for some things that will help us. I think we've got some good stuff this week. Maybe just a few more wrinkles to it.

Fortunately, there is still time to salvage this season with Elliott very quietly leading the league in rushing.

Take last year's debacle in Atlanta as an example of Linehan's shortcomings. The eternal optimists of Cowboys Nation will see that not one but two games reminiscent of that loss to the Falcons have happened already, leaving nothing but room for the Cowboys offense to develop.

Thanks to the early hole they've dug themselves in the NFC East, the Cowboys must "develop" on offense as soon as Sunday. They'll have to do so in what has the makings of another memorable match up against the Lions.

Familiar faces will line up on the field for the Lions, but patrolling their sideline is first-year Head Coach Matt Patricia. The defensive coordinator for three Super Bowl winning New England Patriots teams, Patricia is coming off an emotional win against his former team on Monday Night Football. The Lions held Tom Brady to 133 passing yards, his lowest output in 46 games (week 17 of 2014).

Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott has yet to play 46 games in his career, another reason for the Cowboys not to quit on him entirely, but has also failed to eclipse 200 yards in his last five games.

Turning Prescott into a statistical juggernaut is also not a winning formula for the Cowboys, who have been at their best when passing the ball efficiently. To do so against Detroit, Prescott's play caller has acknowledged the need for more creativity on offense.

Scheming against a Lions team that's first against the pass and last against the run shouldn't be inherently difficult for a Cowboys team only feeding Elliott 16 carries per game right now. Such is the position the Cowboys have put themselves in by running on suspecting defenses and intimidating nobody with their passing concepts.

The Cowboys young skill position players are going to separate themselves this season one way or another - be it by making plays to win games for a desperate team or through continued poor performances in a lost season.

If Linehan's comments hold up about the Cowboys adding wrinkles to this week's game plan, something his quarterback doubled down on, this separation could begin as early as Sunday. The Cowboys are playing one of just five scheduled early kickoffs on Sunday, taking the proverbial spotlight off of them just enough to potentially address their issues and earn a needed win at AT&T Stadium.

David Moore on Twitter

Dak Prescott on this week's game plan against Detroit: "There are going to be some different things you'll see.

Without a record-evening win to show for this forced innovation, the calls for Linehan to lose his job will only continue from the Cowboys fan base. A confident locker room at the moment, a lot is riding on the Cowboys ability to perform under pressure this Sunday, something unknown to many of the players that will decide the team's fate against a Lions team that won't back down from any challenge.

Tell us what you think about "Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New “Wrinkles” in Cowboys Offense" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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Dallas Cowboys

Kicker Matt Bryant Should Be the Final Piece of Cowboys 2019 Offseason

Jess Haynie

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Kicker Matt Bryant Should Be the Final Piece of Cowboys 2019 Offseason

The draft is done, DeMarcus Lawrence is re-signed, and the bulk of free agency activity has passed. The 2019 Dallas Cowboys have more than enough talent to compete this season, but there is still one last move I'd wish they'd make. Veteran kicker Matt Bryant, still one of the NFL's best even at almost 44 years old, could be the final piece to this offseason puzzle.

The Atlanta Falcons' longtime kicker, and franchise scoring leader, was not retained this year despite another standout season. He made 20-of-21 field goals, with a long of 57, in 2018.

Why Atlanta didn't keep Bryant hasn't been confirmed, but perhaps the team was just looking to avoid hanging on one year to late. But Matt, who ranks eight all-time in FG accuracy (86.2%), doesn't think he's done. He tweeted the following from his personal account in February:

"Over this past year I’ve been asked numerous times about retirement and how I feel. Well, I’m not retiring and I feel fine and plan on feeling even better with some changes to my offseason program!

As of now Matt Bryant remains a free agent, and I think the Dallas Cowboys should be very interested.

If you go up and down this Dallas roster, kicker is arguably its biggest liability. Brett Maher had some highlight moments in 2018, and won two Player of the Week awards, but he also was one of the league's worst kickers in overall FG accuracy.

Brett Maher

Dallas Cowboys K Brett Maher

The problem with Maher is that you can't teach his best skill; the accuracy from the high 50s and even low 60s is incredible. It's a true weapon that you have a hard time letting go of, which was evident last year when Dallas dumped Dan Bailey for Maher at final cuts.

But Matt Bryant might be the best of both worlds. He's been a 91% FG kicker overall this last three years and has made 18-of-22 attempts from 50 yards out or more.

Maher only made 80.6% of his kicks in 2018. He went from 6/7 from long range, but that tells you how shaky he was from closer in.

Those closer kicks are worth the same three points that the longer ones are, and how'd you like it if Dallas lost a critical game because their kicker couldn't make a 35-yarder?

I get the fear factor with an older guy like Matt Bryant. Heck, the Cowboys let Dan Bailey go when he was still just 30. But Bryant hasn't shown the red flags that Bailey did; he's still kicking as well as he ever has.

If nothing else, Dallas has the cap space and circumstances to bring in Bryant for a true competition with Maher. If Brett has improved his game and keeps his job, then that's awesome. But why not add some pressure now, though a position battle with one of the all-time greats, and see what Maher's really made of?

Seasons have been made, and shattered, by one kick. Unless the Cowboys have good reason for confidence in Brett Maher's development from last year, they could be carrying a significant liability into a year where they're trying to push for a Super Bowl.

If Matt Bryant could provide even a small amount of additional security, isn't he worth it?



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Cowboys RB Mike Weber’s Injury Scare Continues Concerning Trend

Jess Haynie

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Mike Weber

Rookie RB Mike Weber had a brief scare earlier this week with a knee injury in practice, but thankfully the MRI came back with a good report. However, as he fights to have a future with the Dallas Cowboys, this health incident is a concerning reminder of Weber's recent history.

One reason that Weber fell to the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft was due to battling injuries during his last two years at Ohio State. He lost his starting job in 2017 due to ongoing hamstring issues and also had to miss time last year because of a foot strain.

Carrying the load for the Buckeyes is a far different workload than being second or third on the Cowboys' RB depth chart. But this latest scare happened in early May, just two weeks after Mike joined the team and well before the more strenuous activities of an NFL offseason.

A practice injury can cost you just as badly as one that happens in a game. And with Dallas already thin at RB, it could leave them severely shorthanded if it occurs during the regular season.

Many have projected that the Cowboys' RB group in 2019 would have Ezekiel Elliott as the obvious starter and then rookies Weber and Tony Pollard behind him. While Pollard was drafted three rounds ahead of Weber, he's not built to take a large number of carries if Zeke were to go out.

If Mike Weber does make the team, he would be expected to take a sizable role if something bad happen with Elliott.

Mike Weber

Dallas Cowboys RB Mike Weber

The "injury prone" label is disastrous for any athlete, but especially a guy with no real claim to a roster spot. If Weber causes concern in the front office about his durability, they may go a different way at final cuts.

Remember, Mike's not just up against Pollard and Darius Jackson for a roster spot. There are still plenty of veteran free agent running backs out there that Dallas could turn to if they're not confident about their young prospects.

This isn't too say that one scary moment in May, which ultimately didn't amount to much, is reason to cut bait with Mike Weber. But when you stack it up with his injury history in college, it does make you wonder how he'll do over the course of an entire NFL season.

Hopefully, Weber bounces back from this and has a great summer. Former Buckeye RBs have treated Dallas well the last few years, and it'd be fantastic if Mike can provide the same solid solid depth that Rod Smith did.

But this latest news is just a reminder of why Dallas can't rest easy at running back just yet, and why they may still have another move to make to prepare for 2019.



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Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith Graduating From Notre Dame

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Jaylon Smith Returns Cowboys to NFC East Prominence in Win Over Bucs

The 2019 season is right around the corner for the Dallas Cowboys, with OTA's and training camp getting ready to kickoff in the coming weeks/months.

Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith made the most of his offseason, going back to Notre Dame to finish out his college degree. Smith is set to graduate from Notre Dame this Saturday, and will walk to earn his degree in Film & Television.

Smith talked to DallasCowboys.com's David Helman about why it was so important for him to graduate and finish what he started at Notre Dame. 

“When I left after my junior year, I promised my mom that I would go back and finish...Finishing my third year with the Cowboys, it was time.” - Jaylon Smith

Michael Bertsch on Twitter

2,025 @NotreDame undergraduates will receive degrees during Commencement Weekend. That contingent includes @thejaylonsmith Yes, the current @dallascowboys & former @NDFootball All-American linebacker, who took 21 credits this spring #4for40 #GraduatingChampions #CEV

Smith continues his leadership on and off the field, and we all send our congratulations to the Cowboys starting MIKE linebacker!



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