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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 Visiting With Free Agent S Eric Berry Tuesday

Brian Martin

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REPORT: Cowboys Visiting With Free Agent S Eric Berry Tuesday

According to Ian Rapoport, the Dallas Cowboys have a meeting scheduled to visit with Free Agent Safety Eric Berry Tuesday at The Star.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Source: Former #Chiefs S and new free agent Eric Berry is visiting the #Cowboys on Tuesday. His first visit. They have a need there...

Eric Berry has spent his entire career with the Kansas City Chiefs after they drafted him fifth overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. After signing Earl Thomas last week, the Chiefs decided to part ways with their former All-Pro Safety.

Berry, 30 is an intriguing free agent for the Dallas Cowboys. When healthy, he is arguably one of the best safeties in the league. Unfortunately, injuries have kept him off the field these last few seasons causing him to only start in only three games since 2016.

This is a move many of us expected to happen after the Cowboys decided not to get into a bidding war for Earl Thomas, a player linked to Dallas for over a year now. In Berry, Cowboys Nation would be getting a similar player with the same kind of red flags. Both Thomas and Berry have to be approached with caution due to their injury history the past few years.

Depending on his asking price, Eric Berry absolutely makes sense for the Dallas Cowboys. He would be an upgrade over Jeff Heath and would pair well with the Cowboys up-and-coming three-year safety Xavier Woods.

This is still just a visit, so we should probably get our hopes up that a signing is imminent. But, I think we can all agree Eric Berry is exactly the "right kind of guy" Jason Garrett is always preaching about. He's a cancer survivor, five-time Pro Bowler, and All-Pro player. What's not to like!?



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BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Signed DE Kerry Hyder

Brian Martin

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BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Signed DE Kerry Hyder

The Dallas Cowboys added more defensive line help today after signing former Detroit Lions Defensive End Kerry Hyder.

Kerry Hyder Jr. on Twitter

Going back to Texas! #CowboysNation

Kerry Hyder provides more depth at the defensive end position and as a chance to become the starter opposite DeMarcus Lawrence while Randy Gregory is out serving his suspension.

Hyder, 27 originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech with the New York Jets in 2014. He spent a year in New York before signing a future/reserve contract with the Detroit Lions in January 2015.

He had a breakout eight-sack year with the Lions in 2016, but tore his Achilles in 2017 causing him to miss the entire season. In 2018 he had just one quarterback sack after Detroit switched to a 3-4 defensive scheme.

Overall, this is a good depth signing by the Dallas Cowboys. Kerry Hyder has starting potential, but shouldn't keep the Cowboys from upgrading the position further through either another free agent signing for the draft.



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Dallas Cowboys 2019 Free Agency: Week One Recap

Jess Haynie

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Tavon Austin

It's been just a week since NFL free agents could begin negotiating with other teams, but it feels like a lifetime for anxious Cowboys fans. Dallas' seemingly passive approach to 2019 free agency has left many disappointed. Still, there are some moves to recap.

As has become their strategy in recent years, the Cowboys have focused on filling up their depth chart and trying to avoid any glaring holes prior to next month's draft. They've re-signed several backups and added at least one likely rotation player.

It's still far too early to judge Dallas' activity. Comparing the 2019 roster to last year will depend heavily on the draft, growth from current players, and other factors. But with the "second wave" of free agency upon us, it's a good time to look at who's come, gone, and stuck around so far.

New Arrivals

  • TE Jason Witten (unretired)
  • TE Codey McElroy (Rams)
  • DT Christian Covington (Texans)

The biggest addition so far this offseason wasn't even a free agent, at least not in the purest sense of the term. Jason Witten's surprising return from retirement helped shore up one of Dallas' biggest needs, though it may not preclude them from drafting a tight end high in April.

Also at tight end, Dallas signed developmental project Codey McElroy. His experience is in baseball and basketball, having played just one year of college football. But at 6'6'" and 255 lbs., and having spent last year working with the Rams, the Cowboys must see something they're intrigued by.

Last week Dallas signed Christian Covington, who had 3.5 sacks for Houston in 2018 playing as a 3-4 defensive end. He should move to DT in the Cowboys' scheme and should be a solid addition to their rotation.

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Free Agency: Week One Recap

Former Cowboys WR Cole Beasley, now with the Buffalo Bills. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Departures

  • WR Cole Beasley (Bills)
  • TE Geoff Swaim (Jaguars)
  • DL David Irving (shenanigans)
  • LB Damien Wilson (Chiefs)

Beasley is heading to Buffalo on a four-year, $29 million deal. It appeared the relationship soured between Cole and Dallas over his playing time last year, and clearly the Cowboys didn't fight hard to keep him.

Damien Wilson followed Anthony Hitchens to Kansas City to help round out their linebacker corps. Once it was announced that Dallas was hanging on to Sean Lee in 2019, it was fairly certain that Wilson wouldn't be back.

Also not expected back was TE Geoff Swaim, who signed with Jacksonville. Even before Witten came back, Dallas appeared likely to stick with Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz for returning talent and then add an upgrade via free agency or the draft.

While still a free agent, nobody expects David Irving back in Dallas or even the NFL after recent activities. Irving appears focused on a Hollywood career and advocating for medical marijuana use at this point.

Keepers

  • FB Jamize Olawale
  • WR Tavon Austin
  • WR Allen Hurns (team option)
  • OT Cam Fleming
  • G/C Joe Looney (team option)
  • DE DeMarcus Lawrence (franchise tag)
  • DT Daniel Ross (ERFA)
  • LB Justin March-Lillard
  • S Darian Thompson

While Dallas put the franchise tag on prized pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, his return in 2019 is far from settled. Lawrence has previously sworn he wouldn't play under a second franchise tag this year, and last we heard the two sides are far apart on a long-term deal. Could a holdout be on the horizon?

The Cowboys doubled-down on WR depth by re-signing Tavon Austin and exercising their team option on Allen Hurns' contract. Both are able to play out of the slot, meaning we could see more of a rotation approach to replacing Cole Beasley next year.

Dallas also re-signed fullback Jamize Olawale, which was a surprise given his low usage rate last year. Perhaps the change to Kellen Moore at offensive coordinator was behind this one, hoping to take better advantage of Olawale's receiving skills going forward.

Joe Looney and Cam Fleming will also be back as valuable backups on the offensive line. Looney started 16 games last year at center and also helps at guard, while Fleming will be the swing tackle once again for his second season in Dallas.

On defense, Dallas kept Daniel Ross in their DT rotation after solid performance in 2018. Justin March-Lillard return at linebacker, particularly for his value on special teams. And Darian Thompson, a former third-round pick by the Giants, is back as an ongoing developmental player.

~ ~ ~

Today we're already seeing a flourish of free agent activity in Dallas. Reports this morning have them meeting with WR Randall Cobb and S Clayton Geathers, and we haven't even had lunch yet.

If this is any indication, next week's recap may have a lot more to discuss.



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