Connect with us

Star Blog

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

Sean Martin

Published

on

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.

Advertisement
Comments

Star Blog

NFL to Study Marijuana Use, Will It Impact Randy Gregory’s Status?

Mauricio Rodriguez

Published

on

Cowboys Headlines - Rubbing Salt In The Wound That Is Randy Gregory

The NFLPA and the NFL have reached an agreement to research alternative pain-management tools for the players. They'll form joint medical committees to study different strategies, among which will be the use of marijuana. It's important to make it clear that said committees will not be exclusively about marijuana, but a lot of different issues related to pain-management in the league. However, it'll likely be one of the most important aspects of their work.

Marijuana continues to be a highly debated topic and it's no different when discussing the NFL. Dallas Cowboys fans should be very familiar with the situation. Earlier this year, David Irving "quit" on football during an Instagram live stream while smoking weed. In the video, Irving talks about how he thinks it's better to be addicted to marijuana rather than certain medications used by NFL teams to treat their players.

Although David Irving is not an authority on substances, that is where all of this debate centers around. Throughout the league, players are given strong medication to deal with injuries and the physical pain of playing pro football. I'm not an expert either, but it's more than fair to say there's a strong argument here. Specially in a country where marijuana has already been legalized in 10 states and the trend points toward legalization continuing.

The current CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) between the NFL and NFLPA will expire after the 2020 season and how the league's drug policy looks like in the new agreement will be a huge factor for reaching a satisfactory CBA for both sides.

Of course, the fact that the NFLPA and the league are working together on such an important task doesn't mean we will see any immediate changes or that the NFL's ban on marijuana will be lifted anytime soon. Many big question marks will have to be answered before we hear about teams implementing this substance as a pain management tool.

For the Dallas Cowboys, this will be a relevant narrative down the line. Pass rusher Randy Gregory was reinstated after serving an indefinite suspension due to substance abuse prior to the 2018 season. After a dominant year, Gregory was suspended again by the NFL and it all points toward him sitting out this upcoming season and perhaps even more.

Even still, the Cowboys are still standing behind their 2015 second round pick. If the league ends up lifting its ban on marijuana, they'll have to decide what they will do with players already serving a suspension for this reason. Guys like Randy Gregory, for instance. If it's decided they'll be reinstated to the NFL, the Cowboys will sure be glad to have supported Gregory all throughout the process.

Last year, the pass rusher proved how effective he could be even with a short period of time training. Hopefully, the Cowboys are able to get him back on the field eventually, where's been consistently dominant. In the meantime, we'll see how recently acquired Robert Quinn does in Dallas.

The NFL won't be lifting its ban anytime soon, but it's good to know they're at least open minded to changing the league's policy and consider alternatives that could benefit the players' health. We'll see how these new medical committees work and keep you updated here at Inside The Star.

Tell me what you think about "NFL to Study Marijuana Use, Will It Impact Randy Gregory’s Status?" 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!



Continue Reading

Star Blog

Should Cowboys Consider Trading for Disgruntled Packers S Josh Jones?

Brian Martin

Published

on

Should Cowboys Consider Trading for Disgruntled Packers S Josh Jones?

Despite their insistence that upgrading the safety position was a top offseason priority, the Dallas Cowboys haven't really done much to improve the backend of their secondary. They did sign former Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals Safety George Iloka as a free agent and drafted Donovan Wilson in the sixth-round in this year's NFL Draft, but neither player looks like a clear-cut upgrade at this point. Fortunately, there's still time to find Xavier Woods' counterpart for 2019.

Xavier Woods is the only clear-cut starter at safety currently on the Dallas Cowboys roster. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine as to who starts opposite him this season. With that in mind, the Cowboys should be keeping all of their options open, including acquiring players who get released or even making a trade for someone they like. The latter is what I want to talk about today.

A potential safety who could be put on the trade block that I'm kind of intrigued with is Josh Jones, who has reportedly requested a trade from the Green Bay Packers.

Rob Demovsky on Twitter

Packers safety Josh Jones is skipping the voluntary OTAs and working out in Florida because he's hoping to be traded, a source told ESPN. The source said the 2017 second-round pick believes it would be best for both parties if they parted ways. Story coming on ESPN shortly.

Josh Jones clearly sees where he stands with the Green Bay Packers after they signed Adrian Amos in free agency and drafted Darnell Savage Jr. 21st overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, thus his absence from OTA's and trade request. He understands the business and knows he's not going to see the field much behind those two, meaning his best chance for playing time would be in a different uniform.

Josh Jones, Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers S Josh Jones

It's not all that shocking Jones has requested a trade. Even before the Packers added Amos and Savage he wasn't receiving a lot of playing time. He's just never seemed to fit into what Green Bay was trying to do on the backend of their defense. It may be in the best interest of both parties to mutually part ways. This is where the Dallas Cowboys come in.

I believe Josh Jones is exactly the type of safety Kris Richard would like to pair Xavier Woods with on the backend of the Cowboys defense. He fits the criteria Richard likes in his defensive backs as far as size, length, and speed are concerned. And, he also has the kind of skill set/mindset to become that Kam Chancellor "enforcer" type of strong safety.

Josh Jones is at his best when he can play around the line of scrimmage, much like Chancellor was during his time with the Seahawks. But, Jones also has the ability to be a factor in coverage as well. The only real question here is whether or not he's an upgrade over the likes of Jeff Heath, George Iloka, and maybe even rookie Donovan Wilson?

In all honesty, I don't have the answer to that question. Josh Jones really hasn't received a fair opportunity to prove himself in his first two years in the NFL. I believe the skill set is there to start in the league, but there's not much there to back up that belief.

Personally, I'd be willing to part way with a late round pick if I were the Cowboys to acquire Josh Jones. I like the idea of bringing him in to work with Kris Richard and allowing him to compete for the starting job next to Xavier Woods. This is exactly the kind of low risk/high reward move Dallas likes to gamble on, and it could potentially pay off in a big way.

Where do you stand? Should the Cowboys consider trading for Josh Jones?



Continue Reading

Star Blog

How Can The Cowboys Force More Turnovers In 2019?

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Ranking The Dallas Cowboys Rookies Through Week 8
Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

2018 seemed like the beginning of a new era. A defensive era. For the first time in years the Cowboys were able to consistently lean on their defense during games, staying alive even as their offense sputtered and limped through stretches early in the season.

The defense was downright prolific some weeks. They carried the Cowboys to an inspiring home victory over the New Orleans Saints to put them in prime position to make the playoffs. They dominated the Wild Card game in key moments, making key stops and holding the Seahawks to just 22 points in the win. They featured one of the league's best individual pass rushers in DeMarcus Lawrence, an All Pro cornerback in Byron Jones, and one of the league's most exciting young linebacker duos.

For all of this success, this defense still lacked one thing. Takeaways.

The Cowboys forced only 9 interceptions in 2018, ranking 26th across the league. In fact, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was actually tied with Xavier Woods for the team lead in interceptions with just 2. When it comes to total takeaways the Cowboys' defense was a little better off, though, finishing 16th in the NFL.

Part of the "problem" seems to be their philosophy. The Cowboys have finished 26th, 24th, 27th, and 31st in interceptions dating back to 2015. They've also finished 9th, 25th, 18th, and 19th in team defense DVOA over that same stretch. Clearly there was an improvement in total defense in 2018, but neither their team defense nor ability to take the ball away has been strong since 2015.

The bigger problem, really, is a lack of luck. While this sounds like a cop-out, takeaways often do come down to just that. Of course putting yourself in the right place at the right time to benefit from a batted pass or overthrown ball matters, but those bounces finding the right hands is usually a matter of luck.

Anthony Brown's Resurgence A Great Sign for Cowboys Defense

Nov 30, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (30) returns an interception against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Turnovers are incredibly volatile year to year, and as much as you'd like your players to "make their own luck," randomness does play a part here.

You can certainly argue the Cowboys have done their best this offseason to increase their chances at takeaways, however. By trading for defensive end Robert Quinn, re-signing DeMarcus Lawrence, and adding talented players to the middle of their defensive line as well, Dallas has put an emphasis on getting after the quarterback and corralling the opposing running game. Putting pressure on quarterbacks can force them into quick decision making or bad throws, which could in turn breed interceptions.

This is far from guaranteed, though. Plus the Cowboys play against some of the league's top quarterbacks this year, which hurts their chances of taking the ball away further.

In the end the Cowboys will need both the skill of their pass rushers and defensive backs to put them in good positions, and luck to smile down on them, if they'd like to turn around their takeaway numbers in 2019. And after all, this demoralizing trend has to reverse itself at some point, doesn't it?



Continue Reading



Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending