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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

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

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 Pleasant NJ, no we're not how you think we are. Host of "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL.

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: RB Alfred Morris

Jess Haynie

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Alfred Morris

After two seasons of providing veteran depth for the Dallas Cowboys, running back Alfred Morris is about to be a free agent again. Does the 29-year-old still have value for the club, or will Dallas go with younger options in 2018?

Morris was signed in March of 2016. At the time, it was assumed he would be the backup to incumbent starter Darren McFadden and perhaps even split carries.

But a month later, Dallas drafted Ezekiel Elliott and drastically changed the landscape at the running back position.

If Alfred suddenly seemed expendable, that quickly changed in June when McFadden broke his elbow. Morris wound being the number-two back after all, but he was rarely used as Elliott immediately became the workhorse RB and held that role for all of his spectacular rookie season.

Last year, we all know what happened with Ezekiel Elliott. Morris became the primary RB during Zeke's suspension and had solid numbers, averaging 4.35 yards on his 99 carries during that six-week stretch.

By Week 16, though, not only had Zeke returned but Rod Smith had started to break out from the depth chart. In the Cowboys' pivotal game that week against the Seattle Seahawks, Alfred didn't even get a touch behind Elliott and Smith.

Alfred Morris

Dallas Cowboys RB Alfred Morris

Considering Smith's emergence last year, and him only being 26, it's easy to see why Dallas may not be looking to bring Alfred Morris back. They seem to have their one-two punch already set at the top of the RB depth chart.

What's more, Morris isn't likely to settle for a likely third-place role. He may not be interested in coming back to Dallas given the situation.

Thankfully for Alfred, he enters the free agent market with some good tape from 2017 showing that he can still produce. It's not a loaded crop of free agents this year and, despite his age, Morris could still find a good job somewhere. He's earned an opportunity to compete, if nothing else.

That opportunity likely won't come in Dallas, though. As I wrote about last month, the Cowboys have enough power already and need to add a speed option in their RB rotation.

That said, Alfred Morris spent the last two years giving Dallas good value for the money. He was a solid free agent pickup and his time as a Cowboy should be remembered fondly. At this point, though, I doubt that relationship will continue.


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Dallas Cowboys

Though Promising, We Need To Relax About Safety Kavon Frazier

Kevin Brady

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Evaluating The Future Of Kavon Frazier, Byron Jones, And The Safety Position

With the addition of former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard to the Cowboys' defensive coaching staff, fans are hoping that Dallas will create their own "Legion of Boom." Of course this is a lofty goal, but one worth pursuing nonetheless.

If the Cowboys are to recreate the Legion of Boom they will need their version of two vital pieces: Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.

The Seahawks defense works, in many ways, because of these two players. Thomas' ability to play centerfield and literally defend sideline to sideline gives the Seahawks the freedom to use Chancellor where he's best, as a box safety. Chancellor is a big, physical safety who defends the run effectively in the box and can blanket tight ends in man coverage with his size and athleticism.

These safeties are arguably the most critical pieces to the Legion of Boom, though having a shutdown corner in Richard Sherman certainly doesn't hurt.

Realizing Chancellor's importance, Cowboys fans are hoping that current safety Kavon Frazier can fulfill this role in Dallas. Since being drafted by the Cowboys in 2016 Frazier has made his home on Special Teams. As an impressive tackler in both punt and kick coverage, Frazier earned himself time at safety down the stretch of the 2017 season.

Kavon Frazier

S Kavon Frazier

All in all, Frazier played rather well. Against the Washington Redskins he stepped in and made a few splash plays at the line of scrimmage, causing Cowboys Nation to lose their minds. After that impressive Thursday night game, however, Kavon Frazier didn't really reach that same level of performance.

Frazier is still a liability when asked to cover, especially when asked to play as a two deep safety. He also struggles when taking angles at times, though playing downhill as a tackler is his best attribute. Frazier actually reminds me a bit of Barry Church, though over time Church became more refined in coverage than Frazier currently is.

Some have argued that Kavon Frazier's presence should stop the Cowboys from considering a first round safety. I would disagree, and actually believe that if Florida State's Derwin James is available, the Cowboys should consider making that pick.

If you could combine the athleticism and coverage abilities of Byron Jones with the physicality and "box safety" qualities of Kavon Frazier, you'd have a fantastic safety. Unfortunately, this isn't the Marvel Universe and we are left without any super heroes in the back-end.

Hopefully Kris Richard will figure out how to correctly place all of these pieces in the Dallas Cowboys secondary going forward.


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Dallas Cowboys

Maverick Carter: LeBron James Considered Cowboys During NBA Lockout

Kevin Brady

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1
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Maverick Carter is a pretty important man in the world of sports. As a business man, entrepreneur, and manager of one of the best basketball players of all time in LeBron James, Maverick Carter is certainly used to making headlines.

This week, while on former NFL running back Arian Foster's podcast "Now What? with Arian Foster," Carter claimed that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones once attempted to negotiate a contract with LeBron James.

During the 2011 NBA lockout, Carter claims that Jones contacted LeBron James and discussed bringing him in as a Cowboy while the NBA was without games.

"Jerry Jones, being the smart marketer he is...one day out of the clear blue sky LeBron got a contract I think it was for like one year, a couple million bucks to play for the Dallas Cowboys." - Maverick Carter.

Carter then states that LeBron may have the paperwork framed in his house to remember these discussions with Jerry Jones. LeBron's fandom for the Cowboys has been well documented, as has been his high school football prowess.

We may never know how "real" these discussions were, and of course it is long over now, but just imagining LeBron James getting a chance to play for the Dallas Cowboys would break the internet.

You can check out the full episode of the podcast here, and I highly suggest listening to the other episodes Arian Foster has to offer.


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