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Scouting The Giants: Where Cowboys DL Can Exploit Weakness

Kevin Brady



Will Benson Mayowa Lose His Starting Job This Season? 2
Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are a fascinating football team. Conventional (and proven) wisdom suggests that in order to win games, you have to be strong on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

Offensive linemen, specifically tackles, pass rushers, and quarterbacks. Those are the three most valuable positions in the game of football. The Giants, however, have spent a plethora of draft and free agent capital on pass catchers while virtually ignoring their running game, and failing to adequately provide quarterback Eli Manning with the proper protection up front.

"The Giants have a bad offensive line" is a pretty common take to have these days, so I decided we should look at the film and pinpoint exactly where their struggles come from.

And, of course, what the Cowboys can do to exploit these weak points. Let's take a look.

DALvsNYG 17 preview ol 2 - Streamable

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During their week 14 match-up in 2016, the Cowboys defense held New York to just 10 points. Though the Giants did muster up some decent drives throughout the game, takeaways and other splash defensive plays kept them out of the end zone.

Those splash plays all must start up front, with the Cowboys defensive line. On this play in particular, we see Tyrone Crawford take on starting right tackle Bobby Hart. As we know, Crawford isn't know for his explosiveness of the ball, relying more on technical ability to get the job done.

Crawford doesn't possess much of a speed rush threat whatsoever, making Hart's wide set even more preposterous. He gets too far outside of Crawford, allowing Tyrone an inside rush route. Hart is also inconsistent with his hands and feet, something which rears its head on this snap as well.

The end result is a pressure and a quarterback hit from Crawford, despite not ever executing much of a pass rush move. He does utilize a rip, but it doesn't appear to be too strong. The Cowboys ends should be able to challenge Hart with both inside and outside rushes this Sunday.

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Now, to the starting left tackle Ereck Flowers. Flowers has become a punch-line of sorts within the football world recently, becoming known for some awful-looking pass sets. Where we saw Hart struggle with an inside move on the last play, Flowers' struggles don't discriminate against any pass rush move.

On this snap, right defensive end Benson Mayowa shows why I believe he could be the most productive rusher on the Cowboys roster this season. Mayowa beats Flowers cleanly around the edge with speed and bend before meeting Manning and forcing the fumble.

Flowers is simply too slow in his pass set on this play. He also panics late, and turns his shoulders. When you combine these technical mistakes from the offensive tackle with a good rusher on the other side, sacks will come.

ereck flowers - Streamable

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This time we see Flowers against James Harrison and the Steelers. On the last play we saw Flowers get beat cleanly around the edge with a speed rush. Here we see him get bullied by a bull rush.

The Steelers' 3-technique comes with a very wide rush, making it seem like this was meant to be a stunt. He makes contact with Flowers during his pass set, knocking him off balance for a split second. That little amount of time was all Harrison needed to win this rep.

The Cowboys could benefit from running stunts at Flowers, particularly by executing a "tackle-first" stunt. Here, the 3-technique would hook Flowers and the left guard, allowing for the defensive end to loop around to the inside. Knowing that Flowers has such serious balance issues, any type of confusion or unexpected contact could kill his rep.

Plus, we all know how shaky Manning can look with pressure in his face.

DALvsNYG 17 preview ol - Streamable

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If the Giants offensive line has a strength, it would be their interior. Despite a somewhat down season in 2016, center Weston Richburg is still a solid player. Plus, guard Justin Pugh is probably the Giants' best all around lineman.

The right guard, John Jerry, however will have his share of issues with Maliek Collins Sunday night. On this play we see Collins in a 3-technique beat Jerry across his face and make the tackle for a short gain. This dip and rip move from Collins was something which Jerry struggled with during that week 14 game.

Collins' explosiveness and skilled hands present a multitude of problems for John Jerry, and should give the Cowboys a serious advantage whenever the two are matched up inside.

So, while the Cowboys defensive line is certainly not an elite unit, they should be able to find some level of success this week against the New York Giants. If they can't generate pressure against these tackles, it may be a long season for Dallas' defensive ends.

Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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Star Blog

Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?

Brian Martin



Could Loaded FA Safety Class Drive Down Earl Thomas' Price Tag?

It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.

Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.

A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.

First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:

  • Earl Thomas
  • Landon Collins
  • Lamarcus Joyner
  • Tyrann Mathieu
  • Adrian Amos
  • Clayton Geathers
  • Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
  • Glover Quinn
  • Tre Boston
  • Kenny Vaccaro
  • George Iloka
  • Jimmie Ward
  • Adrian Phillips

Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.

With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.

Earl Thomas

Free Agent FS Earl Thomas (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.

Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.

The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.

Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.

Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?

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Star Blog

Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors



Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors

What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.

Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?

As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.

Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.

Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.

That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.

However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.

Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.

Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.

The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.

Just something to think about...

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Star Blog

2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back

Kevin Brady



Anthony Brown's Resurgence A Great Sign for Cowboys Defense
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.

As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.

Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.

These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.

Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.

Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.

Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.

Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.

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