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Stephen Jones: “There will be a bigger commitment to running it”

Brian Leatherman

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Could it happen? Could it really happen? The fans have been screaming for it for ages now - a legitimate, dominating running game. According to Executive Vice President Stephen Jones, that’s exactly what will happen in the Dallas offense this season.

On Thursday, Jones gave his thoughts on what a consistent running game would have done for the Cowboys last season, and what he see’s happening for this season, regarding the running game.

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“All you have to do is turn on ESPN and three of the best games of the year were all us, losing at the end after we had good leads that we could have won. We win those three games I don't have to tell you what that means.” 

“I think our offensive line is better than it was last year and I think we ran the ball pretty well last year,” Jones said. “I think we’ll run it better this year and I think there will be a bigger commitment to running it.”

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I’m sure a lot of Cowboys fans are saying, “we’ve heard this before.” And they would be right. Seems like after every game in 2013 Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, or Jason Garrett would say how the team needed to commit to the running game more. But the very next game would end up like the week before - 35-40 passing attempts and 15-18 rushing attempts.

However, there is a difference hearing Jones say that now, and that is that he’s saying it now. Think about it for a second... in the last few years, before training camp, all the talk would be how the offense would be more "Tony Romo friendly," and how Romo would become more involved in the offensive game plan. And sure enough, each season the offense was laid squarely on the shoulders of Tony Romo.

But there were reasons for that way of thinking:

  1. Tony Romo is an elite quarterback in the NFL, and the offense should be built around him
  2. The team hasn’t had the ability to run the ball consistently
  3. The defense has been in a downward spiral for a few years now

Now you may ask yourself, what’s changed? Since Romo is still an elite quarterback, we know that hasn’t changed. The team has the ability to run the ball consistently, and they started showing that during parts of last season. And there’s something else that’s changed. The defense will be better (I guarantee it).

I felt the team had the ability to run it consistently last season. However, the offensive line really didn’t seem to gel and get the zone-run scheme down until the half-way point of the season. But you know what's worse than having an unreliable offensive line that you can't rush behind? Having a defense so bad that you don't even have the option to develop a consistent running game.

One of the biggest downfalls of having a terrible defense and not being able to run the ball consistently is not having the option to sit on a lead. The offense had to be in attack mode, staying aggressive and continuing to call passing plays, even though the team might have had a two touchdown lead in the second half of a game.

Now some people think if we would have run the ball more, it would have helped the defense, and it very well could have kept them off the field more had the offense been able to run the ball more effectively. But let’s not kid ourselves, that defense was horrible. So that meant the team could never get in grind mode and finish teams off the way the team’s from the early to mid 90’s did.

So let’s look a few things here. The team chose another offensive lineman in the first round of the draft. And not just any offensive lineman, but some are calling him one of, if not the best offensive linemen in the 2014 draft.

The Cowboys will now be running with an all-pro left tackle, a left guard that grew leaps and bounds from his rookie season, an all-pro center (yeah, that’s right, I’m calling it) a rookie right guard some are calling the best offensive lineman in the 2014 draft, and Doug Free... who seemed to turn his career around last season and started playing like this team knew he could. The other factor isn’t even on the offensive side of the ball. It’s the defense people! The 2014 defense of the Dallas Cowboys will be much improved from last season. That will be the biggest key to the Cowboys being able to run the ball this season.

All the pieces are in place on the offense. The run scheme is there, the offensive line is there, and the running backs, too.

If that defense improves, like I know it will, everyone could see something that hasn’t been seen in nearly 17 years. (No, I’m not talking Super Bowl, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves) But I’m talking about in-your-face football, shoving the ball down the opponent's throat with a dominating run game.

Follow on Twitter (@bleatherman2011)



Brian has been a football junkie from the time he was 5 years old. He lives, eats and breathes the game. Brian is a college graduate living in the south who loves his faith, his family, and his Dallas Cowboys.

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Report: Cowboys’ Travis Frederick Ready for Start of Training Camp

John Williams

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Cowboys Center Travis Frederick Still Hoping to "Be a Rock" for Teammates Despite GBS Syndrome

With the Dallas Cowboys opening training camp with their first practice on Saturday, July 27th in Oxnard, California, a lot of information is coming out regarding who will be available when they report.

It was already reported that Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence and Cornerback Byron Jones will be placed on the physically unable to practice (P.U.P.) list to start training camp. Now, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network is reporting that Travis Frederick will avoid the Non-Football Injury list (NFI) and be ready to report for the starting of training camp.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Very good news for the #Cowboys: All-Pro C Travis Frederick, who dealt with Guillain-Barré syndrome last year, is expected to be active for the start of training camp. He avoids NFI and is ready to go.

Frederick has been out of action for a year after being diagnosed with Guillen-Barre Syndrome during last year's training camp. Guillen-Barre is a disorder that can affect the peripheral neurological system. Basically, the neurological system that doesn't consist of the brain and the spinal cord, which is the central nervous system.

There was talk that Frederick might have been ready to go for the playoffs at the end of last season, but the team continued to hold him out in order to get him back 100% for 2019. It looks like the time has come for Frederick to regain his spot as the leader and lynch-pin of the offensive line.

While Joe Looney was effective in 2018, there's no doubt the team suffered a drop off from All-Pro Travis Frederick to career backup Looney. Getting Frederick back in the middle of the offensive line is the most significant upgrade the Dallas Cowboys could have made this offseason on either side of the football.

Frederick is one of the smartest players on the team and does a lot for Dak Prescott and the offensive line in terms of setting protections. For Dak Prescott, he'll be able to have a little more faith that the front of his pocket will hold up if he needs to step up to make a throw. Frederick will also help Connor Williams as the two work combo blocks against opposing interior defenders. Frederick will immediately improve the Dallas Cowboys red zone offense as they'll be able to get more of a push on the interior.

It was almost expected that this would be the case, but hearing it for certain should give the Dallas Cowboys and their fans a lot of optimism for what's to come in 2019. Travis Frederick returning to the starting lineup is a huge addition for a Dallas Cowboys offense that looks ready to roll in 2019.



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Dallas Cowboys 2019 Training Camp Preview: Cornerback

Jess Haynie

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

The Dallas Cowboys have spent a lot of draft picks the last few years to build up their cornerbacks group. There is a lot of potential heading into 2019, but Dallas needs these young players to take the next step if they want to compete for a championship. This weekend's start to training camp will be an important part of the process.

Dallas' best move to help the cornerback position was switching Byron Jones back there in 2018 after a few seasons at safety. Jones went to his first Pro Bowl and has positioned himself for a big contract extension.

Byron is currently set to play 2019 on his fifth-year option of $6.27 million, which is a steal for a CB of his caliber. Whether or not the Cowboys allow him to enter unrestricted free agency next year, or get a new deal signed, will be something to watch for throughout the upcoming season.

Jones' future may be in question, but we at least know he'll be the team's top corner this season. None of the other Dallas CBs can enjoy that same certainty in 2019, as depth chart positioning and job security are all in flux right now.

Here is the current CB depth chart headed into training camp:

  1. Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie
  2. Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis
  3. Michael Jackson, Donovan Olumba
  4. C.J. Goodwin, Chris Westry
  5. Treston Decoud

Will this list hold as is, or will we some shifting over the five weeks of training camp and preseason?

The battle for snaps between Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis will be an intriguing ongoing storyline. Awuzie was the starter last year, and will hopefully make a big developmental leap in his third year.

But Anthony Brown has proven himself a capable player despite being just a 6th-round pick in 2016. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, Brown will certainly be pushing for a significant role this season to hopefully help his free agent marketability in 2020.

Jourdan Lewis

Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis

If things go like they did last year, both Awuzie and Brown will get plenty of playing time. The true enigma of this bunch is Jourdan Lewis, who is hoping to be more than just the number-four CB in 2019.

Though he was drafted a round later than Awuzie in 2017, Lewis was generally considered the superior talent by most draft analysts. He fell due to a domestic violence accusation a month before the draft for which he was eventually found not guilty.

Jourdan was looking good at the end of his rookie season, but the arrival of Kris Richard as Defensive Backs Coach last year seemed to cause a regression. Lewis only got in on a little over 18% of the total defensive snaps in 2018, while the top three all had 67% or higher.

Despite his few opportunities, Lewis still had one of the biggest plays of the year with his interception that sealed Dallas' stunning upset over the New Orleans Saints. His potential has been noted, with Coach Richard even calling him an "exception" to his general preference for bigger, stronger cornerbacks.

But even if the team likes Jourdan, can he beat Awuzie or Brown? Could he perhaps have more value in a trade, with two years left on that rookie deal, to a team in greater need at CB?

Michael Jackson

CB Michael Jackson

The idea of moving Lewis, which existed prior to the draft, gained steam when Dallas used a 5th-round pick this year acquire CB Michael Jackson out of Miami. He fits that prototypical build at corner, and perhaps the Cowboys are hoping he can show enough early to provide an adequate replacement if they want to trade Jourdan.

If not Jackson, prospect Donovan Olumba is another option. He nearly made the 53 last year but got squeezed out when Dallas only kept four cornerbacks. After a year on the practice squad, Olumba is back and could be ready for a roster spot.

Veteran C.J. Goodwin has bounced around the NFL since 2014 but has some real-game experience. If the young guys aren't in a position to be game-day active, perhaps he would be the best option. Dallas added him in the middle of the 2018 season and he was helping on special teams and as a reserve corner at the end of the year.

Undrafted rookie Chris Westry, listed at 6'4", is another intriguing player to watch in camp. That rare size is something you can't teach, and hopefully Richard can develop Westry enough to get something out of the physical gifts.

This should be a fun 2019 training camp at cornerback, with competition potentially at every spot on the depth chart except the very top. And while secure at number-one, even Byron Jones has his own question marks around his long-term future in Dallas.

We'll start getting some answers in just four more days!

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OTHER 2019 CAMP PREVIEWS



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Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence and CB Byron Jones to Start 2019 Camp on PUP

Jess Haynie

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DeMarcus Lawrence

The Dallas Cowboys will be missing two of their defensive leaders when they open 2019 training camp this Saturday. Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence and Cornerback Byron Jones will both start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List as they recover from offseason surgeries.

Lawrence, who got a new five-year contract in April, immediately underwent shoulder surgery once his deal was finalized. DeMarcus reportedly was waiting for contract negotiations to be completed before he had the procedure.

Jones had hip surgery in late May. He is playing 2019 on the fifth-year option from his original contract, and is no doubt hoping for his own long-term extension sometime in the near future.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones will open Cowboys camp on PUP and won't practice in California https://t.co/jzWV5FjBO6 via @sportsdaydfw

Neither Lawrence or Jones, who are both coming of Pro Bowl seasons in 2018, are expected to be absent once the regular season starts in September. But either participating in this year's training camp is doubtful, and even preseason appearances are in question right now.

With DeMarcus out at DE, newcomers like Robert Quinn and Kerry Hyder will get plenty of chances to show their stuff.  It's also a nice opportunity for Taco Charlton, assuming he's recovered from his own offseason surgery, to get some work against the first-team offensive line.

No Byron at CB will give Jourdan Lewis a nice opportunity to work with the starters as well. He was likely stuck at the 4th spot behind Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown but should now get more time on the field and against the best competition.



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