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Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Offense Surgical, Defense Taking Shape

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Offense Dominates, Defense Plays Fast 1

The Cowboys took care of a depleted Indianapolis Colts team last night, making their 2017 debut in front of Cowboys Nation at home. Rolling out most of their starters for a few series, the Cowboys were sharp on both sides of the ball and left me with plenty of impressive takeaways for my latest edition of Sean's Scout.

Let's get right to what stood out from this 24-19 win over a Colts team making their first trip to AT&T Stadium since week 16 of 2014 - when Dallas clinched the NFC East with a convincing 42-7 victory.

Sean's Scout: Cowboys Offense Dominates, Defense Plays Fast

  • There is no doubt that the Cowboys' rushing attack was boosted by the starting offensive line winning convincingly across the board against a weak Colts front. You still have to love what you saw from Darren McFadden early on as a decisive runner that was putting his foot in the ground and playing with some finish. The Cowboys' staff has shown plenty of commitment over the past seasons to McFadden, and he was finally able to prove why once again after struggling to get anything going with limited reps earlier in the preseason without the starting line in front of him.

 

  • Here is a scary thought for opposing defenses - WR Dez Bryant playing with an extra gear as he rapidly improves his chemistry with Dak Prescott. There's much more intrigue than concern at the WR position as Dallas will have to make some tough decisions in shaping their roster, but knowing that Bryant can return to form as a vertical threat that's already the best in the league at winning with physicality at the catch point will only elevate the play of Brice Butler, Cole Beasley, and Ryan Switzer. I don't know if there is a team in the NFL that currently has the defensive backs to line up against the Cowboys and deal with these weapons all across the field.

 

  • La'el Collins is learning how to use his power to hold up at RT, transitioning from a LG position where he consistently showed off his rare combination of power and speed. The struggles for Collins at his new position have come in his mechanics both with his feet and hands to control rushers. Against the Colts, when rushers were able to capture the corner against La'el, he was still able to handle them well by sealing the edge with some force and guiding the DE around the pocket. Dak Prescott could deal with this much better than pressure in his face or a straight rusher knocking him off his spot, and the results were pretty obvious with Dak's comfort in the pocket.

 

  • For the second straight week, I believe we got a good look at what Rod Marinelli's defense will be schematically - with the results being even better on Saturday night thanks to the addition of Jaylon Smith. With all eyes on him, Smith was far from perfect in his angles and reads in coverage, but he found ways to move with some burst in getting to the football. Overall, having speed at linebacker is going to help this defense tremendously - particularly the fresh faces in the back-end. FS Byron Jones was able to thrive playing closer to the line of scrimmage as a match up piece with these LBs so solid in their drops, and the likes of Jeff Heath, Robert Blanton, and Kavon Frazier all drove downhill to the ball well. Simply put, this is a defense that wants to force other teams to throw the ball into them and limit chunk plays, something they could excel at with the personnel available for the scheme.

 

  • When Orlando Scandrick plays with balance, he is still one of the stickiest cover guys on this team. Getting him off the field was never going to be easy for a rookie like Jourdan Lewis or Chidobe Awuzie, especially now with the setbacks they've suffered with injuries in camp. With his feet under him, Scandrick was flying around making plays that he'll be asked to execute well into the upcoming regular season as the Cowboys slowly prepare their draft picks at the position.

✭✭✭✭✭

The Cowboys will focus on finishing out training camp after a strong preseason showing against the Colts, with their week three "dress rehersal" set for Saturday the 26th against the Oakland Raiders from AT&T Stadium. An extended look at the starters that performed so well here should have Cowboys Nation more than ready for meaningful football back at home against the Giants in week one.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Offense Surgical, Defense Taking Shape" 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

1 Comment

  1. Alfredo Martinez

    August 20, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    Great night for this 3 young WRs:
    Uzoma Nwachukwu,4.45 at 40..5-11, 194, Texas A&M
    Lance Lenior, 4.61 at 40, 6-0, 201, Western Illinois
    Noah Brown, 4.55 at 40.6-2, 222, Ohio State

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Star Blog

2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1

Kevin Brady

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Byron Jones

Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.

Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.

Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.

The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas

Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.

Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.

The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.

Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Time to Stop Making Excuses for QB Dak Prescott?

Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.

Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.

Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Pues en Dallas, hoy dos  jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.

Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.

Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.

Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.

Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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Star Blog

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 2

Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.

The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.

The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.

Lock Down the Big Guns

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

@Randy81MossRetires, via Twitter

Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.

Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.

As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.

Adding New Talent

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 1

@brkicks, via Twitter

One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.

Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.

If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.

Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.

Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.

The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.

As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.

Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.



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