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Sean’s Scout: RB Darius Jackson A Shifty, One-Cut Back for Cowboys Offense

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: RB Darius Jackson A Shifty, One-Cut Back for Cowboys Offense 1

The Dallas Cowboys reunited with Running Back Darius Jackson yesterday, officially restoring their entire 2016 draft class back onto the roster. Always a fan-favorite player, Jackson was of course waived by the Cowboys near the end of his rookie season to make room for Darren McFadden.

McFadden carried the ball 24 times over the final four games of that season, which turned out to be his last meaningful action in the NFL. Still awaiting his first regular season attempt, Jackson found himself in Cleveland after being waived by Dallas.

Ending his rookie campaign as an inactive member of the Browns roster, Jackson is only rejoining an even deeper group of running backs for the Cowboys in 2018.

It will be up to Darius Jackson to show what type of burst and athleticism he still has as a potential change of pace back, whether he is auditioning for an improbable spot on the Cowboys roster or elsewhere.

For now, Jackson is again a component to Scott Linehan's offense. Here is his full scouting report, based on Jackson's preseason work with the Cowboys in 2016.

RB Darius Jackson: Strengths

Jackson1

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The 216th overall pick of the 2016 Draft, it is easy to see why so many Cowboys followers wasted no time claiming Darius Jackson as their "pet cat". Jackson is a smooth athlete that has no problem sticking his foot in the ground and bursting through the smallest holes with good pad level.

When Jackson is given space to work with, something the Cowboys offensive line can consistently produce for him should Jackson earn the reps, he effortlessly takes away defender's angles to him in the open field. It takes only the slightest misdirection for Jackson to beat would-be-tacklers in space, driving for extra yards with quick feet and a low center of gravity.

Jackson3

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At his best, Jackson is decisive in picking up his blocks to create explosive plays. On the carry above, Jackson is able to pick up speed to the outside as he recognizes the second-level block from his TE - freeing him outside the numbers.

If the Cowboys offense is to remain on schedule this season, Ezekiel Elliott will undoubtedly lead the way for this rushing attack. With the team seemingly uncertain of who they trust to take Elliott off the field, Darius Jackson has a real chance to prove himself as the three-down back the Cowboys saw when drafting him as their second RB selected at the 2016 Draft.

Jackson2

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Catching passes out of the backfield comes naturally to Jackson. Not the cleanest route runner, Jackson does well enough to shift through his gears when in the pattern to create space and be a real threat on loose plays.

The touchdown above remains the only time in Jackson's career where he's found the end zone.

RB Darius Jackson: Weaknesses

Despite his lack of availability through two frustrating seasons in the NFL so far, Darius Jackson's biggest weakness is his inability to survive initial contact. There are a stunning amount of "almost" plays on Jackson's tape, where marginal gains could have been explosive ones if Jackson could run with slightly more power and a bigger stride.

This is a light-footed running back that doesn't like 'picking through trash' at the line of scrimmage or being forced to stop his feet. Similarly to this year's seventh round draft pick for Dallas, Jackson is like rookie Bo Scarbrough in needing blocks to set perfectly in front of him to have a chance.

Where Scarbrough made a name for himself at Alabama as a punishing runner, Jackson broke Eastern Michigan records thanks to his straight line speed and vision. Unfortunately, these are both traits that were neutralized to a fairly effective extent by the defenses Jackson faced in the preseason of 2016 - his only competition at this level.

Jackson5

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Not knowing any other way to run the ball, Jackson will often waste lateral steps in an attempt to outrun any defender. The play above stands out as a great example of this. Instead of trusting his first read and attacking the LB (#54) up the field, Jackson bounces the play in hopes of a seal on the edge that never comes. This indecisiveness actually allows the linebacker to continue his pursuit of Jackson, picking up the angle to eventually trip him up with a low tackle.

RB Darius Jackson: Summary

The Dallas Cowboys are truly going to great lengths in retooling their offense for success in 2018. Whether you believe it was regression from Dak Prescott, mounting injuries, or Scott Linehan's play calling that held this unit back a year ago, the Cowboys are set to look drastically different around Prescott, Elliott, and a league-best offensive line.

Darius Jackson has a long way to go in earning a share of this Cowboys workload entering his third season. Lacking the next-level traits to stand out over a bulk of carries, Jackson's time to shine will be the Cowboys ongoing OTAs without pads on.

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Problem being, the same goes for running backs like Rod Smith, Tavon Austin, and Bo Scarbrough, who have all proven they can also play in pads and hold a distinct role in this versatile offense. The Cowboys would not have signed Jackson if they didn't feel there was a potential role for him here, and whether or not that role is merely as a camp and preseason body will be entirely determined by Darius.

Having to go all the way back to the preseason of 2016 to find pre-injury tape for Darius Jackson, I'll be keeping a close eye on how the Cowboys RB looks early on in his second stint with the team.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: RB Darius Jackson A Shifty, One-Cut Back for 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.

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" 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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Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.



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Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin

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Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?



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