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Sean’s Scout: Maliek Collins Making Strides In DT Transition

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Maliek Collins Making Strides In DT Transition

For the second straight season, the Cowboys have a new "starter" at the 3T DT position. After Maliek Collins' dominant play as a rookie forced veteran Tyrone Crawford out to DE, Collins now finds himself transitioning to the 1T spot as David Irving wrecks games at DT alongside him.

The 3T position is the most important spot in Rod Marinelli's defense, and Maliek Collins was projected to have a very productive season there in 2017. Stephen Paea's retirement and Brian Price's season ending injury have caused a need for bodies at the 1T position though - where Collins has filled in admirably with his unique skill set.

In this edition of Sean's Scout, we will take a closer look at how Collins has performed in this new role, and what it means for the rest of the Dallas Cowboys defense.

Maliek Collins Vs Chiefs - Streamable

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The primary role of the 1T DT is to hold the line of scrimmage, eat up blockers, and stuff lanes in the running game. More athletic than most playing the position around the league, Collins has found ways to work up field as he would playing the three while still being an effective one technique.

On this first play, Collins' initial push with leverage against the center causes the right guard to hesitate coming over to block Sean Lee. This disruption also allows David Irving to scrape his way to the running back, getting in on the tackle with Lee as Jeff Heath also came down to play the rush lane well.

I wrote in my Monday morning Sean's Scout that the Cowboys' defensive tackles deserve a ton of credit for the overall play of this front seven, as they're ability to control the game inside and generate push has led to not only stellar defensive line play but great play behind them at linebacker too.

When studying this game against the Chiefs, there was such a noticeable difference between any DL pairings that featured the duo of David Irving and Maliek Collins inside compared to the snaps that Richard Ash or Price got there.

For his size and frame, Collins has the rare ability to win with his hands in tight and free himself to rush the quarterback. These strong and quick hands have also helped him hold the point of attack at his new 1T spot.

Maliek Collins' most polished rush move is his swim or counter. Opposing linemen trying to block Collins are well aware of this counter move that often frees Collins up to dip and pressure the quarterback in his face, making it even easier for Maliek to steer blockers and free up other defenders with it as well.

Maliek Collins Vs Chiefs - Streamable

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On this play, the Chiefs actually do a pretty good job handling the inside twist game from Collins and Irving, as they get Irving up the field on this delayed give to Kareem Hunt. As Hunt avoids Tyrone Crawford flying down the line from the RDE spot, he is forced to cut right into the face of Sean Lee due to Collins recovering nicely and using his pad level to push the guard back.

Collins' pad level also stood out on film, as there were several plays where he was able to either work under his blocker and play with his hands above his eyes or keep them away with his hands and use his lower body strength to anchor.

Maliek Collins Vs Chiefs - Streamable

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This last play I'll show is a fantastic example of everything that is going right for the Dallas defense right now. Collins being able to play the 1T has not only allowed Irving to thrive at 3T with DeMarcus Lawrence doing his thing at LDE, but it has surprisingly put Tyrone Crawford in a position that suits him well at RDE.

As is, this defensive front is imposing against the run, and plays like the one above show off why. Off the snap, the only player on the Cowboys' front that doesn't end up being blocked by two Chiefs is DeMarcus Lawrence. Lined up in one of his tighter 1T stances, Collins bursts into the block of both the center and guard to free up Lawrence on the inside move.

Lawrence doesn't make the stop in the backfield, but his pursuit of Hunt allows Sean Lee (who else?) to once again make the stop.

The best thing the Cowboys have going for them in the front seven right now is their strength in numbers. With enough bodies to keep this front line fresh, Irving and Collins playing inside cohesively has meant so much to this team. Some players in Collins' position would be displeased when asked to come off of the 3T spot, where sacks and tangible stats can be had, to play the less "glamorous" 1T position. Seeing Lawrence, Irving, and Crawford make plays thanks to his efforts is all Collins needs though, as this Cowboys defense should only improve up front the more these defensive tackles work together to blow up game plans they way they did against the Chiefs.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Maliek Collins Making Strides In DT Transition" 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

Ezekiel Elliott vs Byron Jones Part II: The Case For Paying Zeke

John Williams

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New York Giants are 2-1 Against Cowboys With Ezekiel Elliott

It's a debate that has raged on social media for some time now and it likely won't slow down as the offseason progresses and the Dallas Cowboys begin to hand out massive contracts to their top players. Pay Ezekiel Elliott? Pay Byron Jones? If you could only pay one, which would you pay?

This week fellow Inside The Star Staff Writer, Kevin Brady took to Twitter to poll the populous and his results were a bit surprising to me.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

if you can only pay one it should be

The results inspired me to see what would happen if I put the same poll on my timeline.

John Williams ✭ on Twitter

Inspired by my teammate @KevinBrady88, if you can only pay one, which would it be?

On Monday, Kevin wrote a piece looking at one of the difficult decisions facing the Dallas Cowboys this offseason or next. If the Cowboys could only extend Byron Jones OR Ezekiel Elliott, who should they choose? Kevin, as am I, is a firm believer in Byron Jones ability and says the Cowboys should extend them, and I agree. But let's look at the other side of the argument.

To begin, the Cowboys should and probably will get both guys contract extensions either this offseason or next. It's not impossible with the cap continuing to increase at a rate of about $8-12 million per year that the Cowboys will have the space to get the deals done that they need to get done. Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones included.

Byron Jones settled in nicely at cornerback during his first full season at cornerback and knowing what we know about Jones, he won't be satisfied with a second team All-Pro appearance. Expect him to get better. However, if there's a single player that represents the current identity of the Dallas Cowboys, it's Running Back Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys made him the fourth overall pick in 2016 and haven't looked back in their plan to establish the running game. For his career Elliott has averaged 26.9 touches per game over the course of his 40 games.

Here's a look at what Elliott's per game and per 16 game paces look like through the first three seasons of his career.

As you can see from the table above, Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 131.2 total yards per game for his career. In his rookie season he had 1,994 total yards and he sat out the week 17 game against the Philadelphia Eagles when the Cowboys had the NFC and home field advantage locked up. In 2017, Elliott sat out six games and still had nearly 1,000 yards rushing. In 2018, Elliott broke through the 2,000 total yard barrier after seeing a huge increase in his targets and receptions.

Ezekiel Elliott has been everything the Dallas Cowboys could have hoped for and more. With the leadership role he's taken with the team, he's a player that leads both vocally and by example. There are few players on the Dallas Cowboys that give as much effort as he does each snap. How many times has it looked like Elliott was about to get dropped for a two or three yard loss only to grind through tackles to pick up a four yard gain? How many times has he bounced off tacklers to get to the first down marker? Ezekiel Elliott is the human personification of dirty yards, but don't let that fool you into thinking that Elliott can't take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Elliott's is a game breaker who threatens the defense every time he steps on the field.

In 2018, Elliott led the NFL in yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus. His 949 yards after contact in 2018 would have ranked 13th in the NFL in rushing, which was better than David Johnson's 940 yards rushing last season.

Not many running backs effect a football game like Ezekiel Elliott does.

Few players outside of the quarterback position are as much of a focal point for their offense while being an attention grabber for opposing defenses like Ezekiel Elliott is. In 2018, he saw eight or more men in the box on nearly 25% of his carries in 2018. Some of that is related to the Dallas Cowboys insistence on using two tight ends on 50% of their running plays (per Sharp Football), but the other aspect is related to how much they respect the Dallas Cowboys running game. Since the 2014, the Cowboys have been synonymous with running the football. DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, and now Ezekiel Elliott have been the faces of that running game behind the Cowboys elite offensive line.

Even in a down year for offensive line play from the Dallas Cowboys, Elliott still managed to lead the NFL in rushing for the second time in three seasons. Elliott made the Pro Bowl for the second time in three years as well. Were it not for the railroad job done by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2017, there's a really good chance that Elliott leads the league in rushing three years in a row and that the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs all three seasons.

Sure, the running back position is undervalued in the NFL and rushing yardage can be replaced, but there are intangibles to Elliott's game that are very difficult to replace. His ability to grind out the dirty yards, break big plays, create yards after contact, pass protect, be a threat as a receiver, and his leadership make him a player that is difficult to replace.

Yes, Byron Jones was really good in 2018 and deserves to get paid by the Dallas Cowboys as well, but you'd be hard pressed to find a player on the Cowboys roster who has been as consistent and dominating week in and week out as Ezekiel Elliott has been over the last three years.



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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

Brian Martin

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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T

The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.

During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.

After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.

This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.

Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!



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REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur

Jess Haynie

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L.P. Ladouceur

L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.

Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e

Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.

Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.

Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.



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