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Sean’s Scout: Missed Opportunities With Bryant Cost Cowboys Offense

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Missed Opportunities With Bryant Cost Cowboys Offense

The Cowboys failed to finish against the LA Rams on Sunday, putting themselves at 2-2 through the first quarter of the season. This home loss to the Rams put a little bit of everything that's been off with this Dallas team so far on the field in just four quarters, particularly on offense where the Cowboys scored just six points in the second half to let the Rams come all the way back.

Coming into this game, optimism was high in Cowboys Nation that Dez Bryant would finally have a breakout game against a Rams secondary that doesn't feature a CB at the level of Janoris Jenkins, Aquib Talib, or Patrick Peterson.

Throughout the afternoon, Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan used Bryant creatively to try to get his top target going. After watching the film, the frustrating results were a product of Dak Prescott's misses along with some great coverage by the Rams.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

Here is every single passes intended for Dez Bryant on Sunday. 7 of his 13 targets were uncatchable:

Let's take a closer look in Sean's Scout.

Dez Bryant Vs LA Rams - Streamable

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Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant got off to a hot start in this game, connecting on the first play of the game downfield. The route by Bryant is vintage Dez, as he wins with his pure size and strength at the stem before dominating at the catch point.

Dez Bryant Vs LA Rams - Streamable

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Typically, Dez Bryant is the man used in Linehan's offense to free up others underneath - where Prescott is at his best throwing in rhythm. This is why there was so much excitement surrounding the Cowboys offense in Prescott's second year, with a rookie like Ryan Switzer joining slot star Cole Beasley, Brice Butler, and Terrance Williams.

Of course, all of this was predicated on Bryant getting his numbers as well, and on the above play you'll see the vertical route by Butler clear space for Bryant to work back to the football and create an easy throw for Prescott.

This was a look the Cowboys came back to multiple times, but were unable to hit #88 with any consistency.

Dez Bryant Vs LA Rams - Streamable

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

Working Dez Bryant out of the slot was also a great look for Dallas' offense on Sunday, but another one that was not taken full advantage of. As Dak channels his inner Tony Romo, watch Bryant effortlessly accelerate up field with nothing but space in front of him. If Prescott had a clean pocket to throw from, Bryant would be hit in stride for an even bigger gain.

With so many pieces to match up with on offense, it is easy for the Cowboys to forget that Dez Bryant is their most simple "match up nightmare". Winning at the catch point comes easy for Bryant, who means so much to this entire team when he begins taking over games through the air.

Dez Bryant Vs LA Rams - Streamable

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

Breakdowns in communication like these held the Cowboys offense back in this home loss, as Bryant again frees himself at the stem of his route only to see the ball thrown over his head and out of bounds.

Perhaps expectations were too high for Prescott and Bryant to take another step up together in this offense, after seeing what Bryant did with Tony Romo in 2014. While Bryant is already playing at his ceiling (or potentially declining), Prescott is going to develop in front of Cowboys Nation's eyes even more this season. Coming from a spread system in college, working a receiver like Bryant will take a while for Prescott to master.

The brilliance of the Dallas offense is that they don't need Bryant to dominate games, but there just aren't many teams in this league that can win at the level the Cowboys are hoping this season without week-to-week contributions from their primary wide receiver.

Dez Bryant Vs LA Rams - Streamable

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

With the Green Bay Packers in town this week, Prescott will have another chance to return to form and lead a Cowboys offense that is realizing that plenty of teams around this league can sell out to stop Ezekiel Elliott - still succeeding defensively thanks to Bryant's ineffectiveness.

It is throws like this last one below that provide hope for Dez Bryant to dominate sooner rather than later, as the games become more meaningful for the Dallas Cowboys and production from a WR with his talent is absolutely needed.

Dez Bryant Vs LA Rams - Streamable

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

To say that Dak Prescott needs to win games for the Cowboys this season is fair, but it is more accurate to say that this young quarterback needs to let Dez Bryant help him win these games - leaving multiple chances to do so on the field at AT&T Stadium in week four.

Sean Martin ✭ on Twitter

Cowboys Film thread: Dez Bryant's targets against the #Rams.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Missed Opportunities With Bryant Cost Cowboys Offense" 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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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. TreFKennedy88

    October 4, 2017 at 11:37 am

    Great article sean, Dak over threw Dez like 4-5 times on Sunday smh if dak would have been more acurrate not only would Dez had more than 5 catches for 98 yards, but we would have won the game and scored more than 6 points in the 2nd half Sunday

    • Sean Martin

      Sean Martin

      October 4, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      Thank you for reading! I agree completely, this was a bad loss to take for a lot of reasons – especially if this becomes any sort of trend for Prescott. Had your chances.

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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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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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