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Sean’s Scout: Cooper’s Improvements at LG Sparks Cowboys Run Game

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cooper's Improvements at LG Sparks Cowboys Run Game

Life comes at you fast in the National Football League. When I originally planned on putting together this latest Sean's Scout, it was on the premise that the Cowboys would be running the football without Ezekiel Elliott for the next six weeks - and the hope that an offensive line returning to form thanks to LG Jonathan Cooper could get production out of Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden.

This morning, Ezekiel Elliott was granted a stay by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. This unexpected move will keep him on the field against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, which only elevates the Cowboys' ability to take advantage of their blocking up front.

Jonathan Cooper has put an end to Dallas' "competition" at left guard, a position that a laundry list of players tried their hands at all through training camp. Starting against the Rams, Packers, 49ers, and Redskins, the former first round pick has finally found some consistency in his game.

Playing beside two other first round picks in Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick along with Zack Martin at RG has certainly helped Cooper, but in the film we'll look at below you'll see how his ability to block the likes of Aaron Donald and DeForest Buckner in the running game has led to big plays on the ground.

Jonathan Cooper Vs Redskins - Streamable

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

An area of Cooper's game that I was previously critical of was his power at the line of scrimmage, which in turn limited his ability to play in space and get to the second level - something he is now excelling at. On this Ezekiel Elliott touchdown from last week, former Cowboys DT Terrell McClain lines up directly over Cooper.

As the powerful McClain charges up field, Cooper allows him to work through the A gap as Elliott carries to the outside. If there is one complaint from this play, it is that Cooper gets caught with his base a bit wide, but he easily makes up for this with his hand placement and initial punch.

A familiar site, Cooper seals his man as Elliott hits the hole and accelerates into the end zone.

Jonathan Cooper Vs Rams - Streamable

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

This next play is a work of art from the Cowboys offensive line.

Their ability to get out in space and play as a cohesive unit is unrivaled in the sport right now, and Jonathan Cooper has found a way to fit this mold wonderfully.

On this play, the Cowboys are slanting to the right and relying on Travis Frederick to climb to the WILL linebacker. With a zero technique DT lined up directly over him, Frederick has no choice but to pass his man to Cooper off the snap.

Cooper does not over extend with his initial reach on the block, allowing him to keep the defender away from his body as he quickly turns and shields him out of the play. With Frederick executing his responsibility and Zack Martin making an easy block, Elliott cuts up field for a nice gain.

Jonathan Cooper Vs Rams - Streamable

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

Later in this same game, which was Cooper's first start at LG for the Cowboys, he rides Aaron Donald out of the hole that Alfred Morris hits for his longest rush as a Cowboy.

Jonathan Cooper had simply never been a player that could previously put all of these traits together that I saw on this tape from this season, but now there is little to complain about with the way he is playing with solid technique on every down.

Jonathan Cooper Vs 49ers - Streamable

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

I had written previously about how some of Travis Frederick's early season "struggles" may have been because of his lack of trust in the combo blocking game with Cooper. Now, pretty plays like the one above show off the high level that all five starters up front are playing at for Dallas.

This time, it is Cooper's responsibility to get to the SAM linebacker. Not only does he do this with ease, but he delivers a punishing blow that takes him out of the play. Cooper's execution on this play is not possible if Tyron Smith does not chip the down lineman off the snap, nor if the ever-reliable Zack Martin doesn't come around to bury the 3T.

The lane that Alfred Morris hits as he angles away from the safety is another great example of how Cooper and this revamped offensive line give any running back playing behind them a chance.

Sean's Scout: Cooper's Improvements at LG Sparks Cowboys Run Game 1

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

For at least another week, this will be Ezekiel Elliott going up against a Chiefs defense allowing 131 yards per game on the ground, the fifth most in the league currently. Should he have another dominant performance that he'll expect from himself, Jonathan Cooper will be a big factor as a great story thus far on the 2017 Dallas Cowboys.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cooper’s Improvements at LG Sparks Cowboys Run Game" 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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1 Comment
  • D Dummy

    Good stuff – always enjoy the gifs. It was odd for Cooper to not dominate from the start, but it’s no surprise that he has improved.

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Could NY Giants Be a Surprise Threat in the NFC East?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Could Giants Be a Surprise Threat in the NFC East?

The NFC East is a wild, wild division. Since 2004, the division that hosts some of the most popular franchises in the NFL hasn't seen the same team winning the NFC East title two years in a row. It's crazy! Who expected the Dallas Cowboys to become the #1 seed in the conference in 2016 after seeing Tony Romo go down during the preseason? Who was able to predict the Philadelphia Eagles' amazing run for the Super Bowl last year?

It's an unpredictable league, but the NFC East side of things can really amaze you on a yearly basis.

Heading into 2018, it all seems to be about the Eagles and the Cowboys. Being the last two teams to win the title, it's only logical to expect them to be the only teams in the division that have what it takes to own the NFC East crown.

But maybe, just maybe, we are overlooking the New York Giants.

Coming from a 3-13 record in 2017, the Giants have quite a bit to prove if they want to become a winning team once again and return to playoff contention. With Odell Beckham missing most of the season and with good ol' Ben McAdoo calling the shots, the team was never able to get a break.

Listen, we all know Eli Manning has been struggling lately. Many thought the Giants should've drafted a quarterback when they held the #2 overall pick back in April. But whether we like it or not, New York seems to have a plan: take advantage of Manning's last years on the field.

Instead of taking a young QB for the future, they drafted the best player available to take the load off Manning's shoulders. Saquon Barkley will probably be able to do what Ezekiel Elliott was able to do in 2016: lead the offense by running the football 20 times a game and have several 100-yard performances.

Could NY Giants Be a Surprise Threat in the NFC East?

New York Giants OG Will Hernandez

Not only that, but the front office did make an effort to re-build a disastrous offensive line by bringing in a talented left tackle in Nate Solder and by stealing the UTEP product, Will Hernandez in the second round of the draft. If the Giants are able to finally groom Ereck Flowers into a decent starter at right tackle, this could be a pretty solid offensive line.

Of course, Manning will not only be benefited from the running game, but his superstar wide receiver will be back on the field. Beckham is one of the NFL's best wide receivers and will surely be back at terrifying opposing secondaries week in and week out.

The Giants are bringing in Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher, who did a nice job for the Arizona Cardinals' defense over the last few years. With some talented defensive players, the team might not have the best squad in the league, but it doesn't seem like a defense that will struggle throughout the season.

Last but not least, the Giants will have a new head coach in form of Pat Shurmur. He's had some success in the league, lately as an offensive coordinator for a Minnesota Vikings team that managed to get to the NFC Championship with Case Keenum at QB. It was a good hire for the team, and I'm pretty sure it will be easy to do a better job than McAdoo's work with the Giants.

If I was to make a prediction, I'd say the Giants will have a handful of wins in 2018. However, I don't see them getting back into the postseason just yet. An 8-8 record sounds about right. Having said that, though, it really seems like a team that could surprise everyone and emerge as a surprise contender in the NFC East.

Do you think the New York Giants could be a surprise threat in 2018?

Tell me what you think about "Could NY Giants Be a Surprise Threat in the NFC East?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Where Cowboys CB Marquez White Fits In 2018

Kevin Brady

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Dallas Cowboys Draft CB Marquez White at #216

In the 2017 NFL Draft the Dallas Cowboys selected four new defensive backs, three of which saw significant playing time during their rookie season.

Those three, of course, are Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, and Xavier Woods. That fourth defensive back, however, should not be forgotten about as we enter the beginning stages of the 2018 season. That player is former Florida State cornerback Marquez White.

Rather than playing alongside his rookie counterparts in the secondary, White spent time on the Cowboys practice squad in 2017. The former sixth round pick was signed to a futures contract at the end of 2017, however, and now has a chance to compete in camp once again.

Entering their sophomore seasons the starting secondary already appears to be taking shape. Chidobe Awuzie and Byron Jones are just about locked in to the outside cornerback jobs, Xavier Woods is expected to start at safety beside Jeff Heath, and Jourdan Lewis is battling with now third year player Anthony Brown for the slot corner role.

So where does Marquez White fit into all of this?

Cowboys CB Marquez White Could Emerge in 2018

Dallas Cowboys CB Marquez White

Well, the aforementioned players are locks to make the 53-man roster, but Marquez White should be the favorite to win the 5th cornerback spot going forward. White's raw talent is undeniable, and he has the ability to play under both man and zone responsibilities.

The main reason we should be optimistic about Marquez White's chances to land on the final roster, however, is his athletic profile. At 6'0" tall, just under 200 pounds, and long arms White fits the mold for what new secondary coach and passing game coordinator Kris Richard tends to look for in his cornerbacks.

And, for better or for worse, Richard clearly values these measureables highly. This is evident in how second year corner Jourdan Lewis has been used thus far in mini camp and offseason activities; being relegated to second team and the slot rather than allowed to compete for an outside cornerback job with Awuzie and Jones.

So with the arrival of Kris Richard, the departure of Orlando Scandrick, the underwhelming play of Anthony Brown, and the raw talent he already possesses, Marquez White has a very strong chance of making the final 53-man roster in Dallas.



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Can Jaylon Smith Challenge Vander Esch For Starting MIKE Role?

Kevin Brady

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In Season For Youth, Cowboys Must Make Tough Decision On Jaylon Smith

When the Dallas Cowboys selected Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch with their first round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the whole world basically assumed he would be the starting MIKE linebacker week one of the upcoming season.

After all, the Cowboys lost Anthony Hitchens to free agency and none of the injury replacements had much success during the 2017 season.

Now just a couple of months shy of that week one match up with the Carolina Panthers, a battle for that middle linebacker spot appears to be occurring.

Former 2016 second round pick Jaylon Smith has seemed to find his health, and his movement skills and agility look like they did back when he was at Notre Dame. Whether or not these offseason hype videos will actually mean anything on the field remains to be seen, but just the fact that Smith is working out and playing without the knee brace is obviously a good sign.

Unlike Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith did play for the Dallas Cowboys a year ago. Sure Smith had his share of growing pains, but he seemed to find his groove late in the season. It probably isn't a coincidence, though, that Smith's best games came when coming off the bench in a limited role and when playing beside veteran Sean Lee.How Will LB Jaylon Smith Best be Utilized in 2018?

During the offseason activity thus far Jaylon Smith has gotten the majority of snaps at middle linebacker, but Vander Esch has also been sidelined with an injured ankle. Leighton Vander Esch clearly fits the mold of a MIKE both physically and athletically, but at his best Jaylon Smith does as well.

Despite the resurgence of Jaylon Smith and the injury to Leighton Vander Esch, I still do expect Vander Esch to snag that MIKE role moving forward. While showing glimpses of productive play, Smith did not impress enough to earn him the unquestioned starting job last season, and may best fit as a SAM backer and situational pass rusher/blitzer in the current scheme.

Allowing Jaylon Smith to conserve his energy and provide a boost off the bench is the best way for the Cowboys to structure their defense. Of course, this is only true as long as Vander Esch becomes the player they expect him to be, though.

If Jaylon Smith does return to the player he was at Notre Dame prior to his horrific injury, the Cowboys will possess three incredibly rangy, athletic, and talented linebackers on their roster.

Of course, that if is a very big if at this point, however.



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