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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.

Jackson4

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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.

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Cowboys Defense So Far So Good as Seahawks Up Next

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Cowboys Defense So Far So Good as Seahawks Up Next

Dallas may only be 1-1 on the season, but the Cowboys are officially tied for first-place in the NFC East, and fresh off a workmanlike victory over divisional rivals, the New York Giants. It was a game they should have won, and did win, but the takeaways so early in the season are that, although the offense has not clicked on all cylinders, the defense is getting high praise.

The Cowboys sacked New York’s Eli Manning six times and limited the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft, Saquon Barkley, to a mere 28 yards rushing. It was also a night in which Dak Prescott not only out-gained Barkley by 17 yards on the ground, but torched the Giants’ secondary on a 64-yard touchdown strike to Tavon Austin which proved New York’s Safety Landon Collins wrong when leading up to this game he remarked that the key to a Giants’ victory would be getting Prescott to throw. When Prescott was made aware of the comment in a midweek interview he replied, "…challenge accepted," and the third-year veteran made good on his word leading to the 20-13 victory.

However, Prescott ended the night with just 160 yards passing yet the ankle injury he sustained in Week 1 showed no signs of rearing its head as Prescott moved seamlessly in the pocket and ran the ball well.

As we move ahead to the Cowboys meeting in Seattle, we take a quick check over to one of the most reputable online sportsbooks in the industry - Intertops according to the reviews - where we can monitor the line on this pivotal NFC clash as the week progresses.

Seattle boasts a talented quarterback of their own in Russell Wilson but one who will find the sledding tough if the Dallas defense continues to shut down All-World wide outs like Odell Beckham Jr. and contain future rushing stars like Saquon Barkley. Outside of Wilson, Seattle is not loaded offensively, with their biggest target, Doug Baldwin, ailing with a knee injury and a backfield which consists of two young rushers in second-year man Chris Carson and a first-round rookie in Rashaad Penny who dealt with nagging injuries throughout the preseason and looked unsettled in Seattle’s 27-24 loss to the Broncos.

The Cowboys defense has already proven its worth in Carolina with Cam Newton under center and again last week against New York. The unit is surrendering an average of 14 ½ points per game and is incorporating more blitz packages than we’ve come to expect.

The difference this year is that the players they have on defense are capable of getting to the quarterback quick enough so that the coverage linebackers and secondary aren’t alone on an island for too long. The one concern is the status of Linebacker Sean Lee, who checked out of the game in the fourth quarter Sunday night and brought to mind his hamstring issues of a year ago, but apparently it was in fact cramping, and not straining, of the hammy which allowed Lee to return.

The bottom line in terms of the Cowboys' upcoming matchup on Sunday afternoon is that they will get the Seahawks coming off a short week, as Seattle played on Monday night and should be relatively healthy for the contest.

Dak Prescott may not have the formidable offensive line that he has had in the past, nor a top-tier arsenal of receivers, but he does have the elusive Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield and is capable of extricating himself from pressure situations when no target is available.

If the Dallas defense continues to play at the current level, it will not only be limiting the opposition on the scoreboard but putting its offense in good field position throughout. So check out Intertops, one of the most trusted and reputable online sportsbooks, to see where this line goes because a Dallas win and an ATS cover are just days away.



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Taco Tuesday: Cowboys DE Taco Charlton Starting to Dominate?

Brian Martin

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Taco Tuesday: DE Taco Charlton Starting to Dominate?
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

There has been quite a bit of talk about what a bad decision it was for the Dallas Cowboys to draft Taco Charlton with their first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Nearly everybody wanted someone different, not a player that needed time to develop.

Well, fast forward a year later and it looks as if the Cowboys made the right decision.

Don't look now, but Defensive End Taco Charlton is starting to live up to that first-round pedigree. In the first two weeks of the 2018 season, Charlton has already looked like a much improved player from what we saw a season ago. Imagine that, a little bit of time to develop and he's turning into a solid player.

I know I may be getting a little bit ahead of myself, especially suggesting that he is starting to dominate, but I can't help myself. I'm that excited about how much he has improved in one offseason. I may be alone here, but I have high hopes he could turn into something special.

In 2017, Taco Charlton failed to start a single game for the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie. That's not really what you want from your first-round draft pick. To makes matters worse, in 16 games he only registered 25 total tackles, four QB sacks, two passes defensed, and one forced fumble. As you can imagine, it didn't sit well with most Cowboys fans.

Luckily, it looks as if Charlton's offseason in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program has paid off. Already in 2018 he has accumulated six total tackles, one QB sack, one pass defensed, and recovered a fumble. If he keeps this pace up, we could be looking at #97 reaching double-digit sacks this year.

Taco Charlton

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton

Now, I wouldn't call what Taco Charlton has accomplished so far this season dominating, but he is proving to be a starting quality DE along the Cowboys defensive line. It's a unit that has looked really good in the first two weeks of the season and is expected to be even better once Randy Gregory and David Irving are able to return to the field.

In the meantime, the Dallas Cowboys are happy to get plays like this from Taco Charlton.

Taco Charlton Eli Manning sack

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This is a play Charlton is expected to make. He was left unblocked, but we've seen players left unblocked before not make the play. So, it may not be as impressive as some QB sacks. But, I'll take the routine tackle any day over someone trying to make a splash play and failing.

If you're looking for an impressive play from Taco Charlton, take a look at what he was able to do against Odell Beckham Jr. in the passing game.

Taco Charlton covering Odell Beckham Jr

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In case you're wondering, that's Taco Charlton in OBJ's hip pocket 15 yards down the field in pass coverage. It looks as if that's where Eli Manning was wanting to go with the ball, but tight coverage by the Cowboys, and Charlton, across the board ended up resulting in a QB sack.

If you don't find that impressive, I don't know what will. A 275 pound DE covering arguably the best and highest paid wide receiver down the field is almost unheard of. I would count that as impressive.

What do you think of Taco Charlton's play so far in 2018?



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Star Blog

A Look Around The NFC East: Week 2

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

The usually competitive NFC East got off to a shaky start last week, with half the division winning their season opener and the other half falling short.

Now entering week 2, the Eagles and Redskins have a chance to begin to distance themselves from the loser of the Cowboys/Giants game, and both of those 0-1 teams are looking to "save" their season. Yes, that sounds dramatic, but a home loss within the division to fall to 0-2 could be debilitating for the Dallas Cowboys moving forward.

Regardless, let's go around the division and see what each team has on tap for this Sunday.

Philadelphia Eagles

The defending champs opened up their 2018 campaign just as we expected: with a home victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta sort of gave that game away last Thursday night, but if the Eagles can stack Nick Foles-led wins on top of each other they'll put themselves in a great spot to win the East when Carson Wentz returns.

The Eagles will be on the road this week for the first time, traveling to Tampa Bay to play the 1-0 Buccaneers. The Bucs pulled the upset of the weekend last week, defeating New Orleans 48-40. It's hard to imagine that "Fitzmagic" continuing against the vaunted Eagles defense, though.

Philly is a three point road favorite against Tampa Bay this Sunday.

Washington Redskins

My "sleeper" team in the NFC East, and pick to finish second in the division, looked rather impressive in their week one drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals. Of course, Arizona isn't a very good team, and will probably be picking top 5 in the draft next April. Still, it was a good showing for the Redskins to open the season.

Washington got Adrian Peterson going on the ground for nearly 100 yards and a touchdown, and Chris Thompson helped keep them on schedule offensively as well. Washington hasn't been talked about much this offseason, but is sitting at 1-0 with a game against the 0-1 Colts on the horizon.

Washington is a 6 point favorite against Indianapolis this Sunday, and has a good chance of starting 2-0 on the year.

New York Giants

Though we are just one week into the 2018 regular season, an important matchup is brewing within the NFC East. After falling to 0-1 with a home loss in their season opener, the Giants will travel to Texas to face the Cowboys on Sunday night football this week.

With both teams sitting at 0-1, neither can afford to put themselves into a nearly-insurmountable hole with a second straight loss. Since the merger 90% of teams who fall to 0-2 fail to make the playoffs, and it would be back-to-back seasons of missing out for both the Cowboys and Giants.

New York is a three point road underdog on Sunday, and it seems like most of the football world is leaning towards them and their weapons coming away with the victory.

Either way, this game will have massive implications on the 2018 season.



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