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Stephen Jones Had a Lot to Say About the Cowboys’ Defensive Backs

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Stephen Jones Had a Lot to Say About the Cowboys' Defensive Backs

The Dallas Cowboys secondary has been a very intriguing story over the past year. Last offseason, the front office let Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr walk out the door. Some questioned the team's ability to rebuild the unit, but it's fair to say they started off with the right foot.

Although there are still some questions regarding the defensive backs, the team did make a good job of adding Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the 2017 NFL Draft.

Thanks to the addition of these guys, the Cowboys seem to have a foundation for what we hope will become a quality defensive backfield.

However, as I said, there are still plenty of concerns that must be answered to solidify the unit. Will the Cowboys address the team's need of a safety early in the coming Draft? Will they make some free agency moves in order to reinforce the secondary? Will they try to trade for Earl Thomas?

Right now, even though cornerback depth may be concerning, I think the big question mark is at the safety position. There are a lot of possible scenarios we could see for the Cowboys, but it's hard to know which will be the final outcome.

With the NFL Scouting Combine taking place this week in Indianapolis, Stephen Jones talked to the media and talked about lots of different topics, giving Cowboys Nation a lot of things to think about and discuss.

Jones had more than one thing to say about the team's secondary, which will have a new coach for 2018 in form of former Seahawks' Defensive Coordinator Kris Richard.

David Moore on Twitter

Stephen Jones was asked if a final decision has been made on moving Byron Jones from safety to cornerback. "No," he said. "That will be a work in progress.

We've been talking about Byron Jones' situation for a while now. After playing three seasons with the Cowboys, he still hasn't found a true position. This guy has become one of the most controversial players among fans, with some loving him and some wanting him gone.

However you feel about Byron though, it's foolish to deny his athleticism and his talent. He's shown it a lot throughout his short career and despite the fact that he hasn't done enough to deserve being called a "great" safety, a switch to cornerback might be just what he (and the defense) needs.

According to Stephen, there hasn't been a final decision and it may be a while until we know about it for sure. Even still, I'm sure a lot of fans will be looking very closely to this story, especially with Richard joining the coaching staff.

David Helman on Twitter

Stephen Jones classified the Cowboys' safety spot as "a work in progress." He said if the Cowboys move Byron Jones to CB, then safety becomes thin, and is a "position of need." He added that they like Chido Awuzie as a CB, "probably moreso than as a safety." #cowboyswire

Chidobe Awuzie's versatility is often brought up when talking about the Cowboys' future at safety. While it's true he could probably get the job done, I'm relieved to see Jones saying they're happy with their second-round pick at CB.

After returning from injury, Awuzie's performance as a rookie was more than impressive. Taking the risk of losing the impact he proved he could provide just to test him out at safety would be foolish. Let's hope the Cowboys let him and Jourdan Lewis stay put and continue developing the very promising cornerback duo.

Last but not least, Jones talked about Orlando Scandrick.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Stephen Jones said the Cowboys have not made a decision on Orlando Scandrick's future with the team

Even without a final decision made, the Cowboys are not expected to keep the veteran for 2018. We've been seeing this coming for a while now, and the truth is not many people would mind him playing elsewhere.

Awuzie and Lewis certainly calmed down the uncertainty of the cornerback group and with Byron Jones potentially switching to the position, it looks like a move Dallas can afford make. Scandrick hasn't been a great on the field for a few years now, so it definitely won't be a huge loss for the team.

With DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving and Dez Bryant being the most talked Cowboys' players this offseason, don't forget about the secondary. This group is among the most intriguing ones of the team, and it'll be fun to see how it turns out.

Tell me what you think about "Stephen Jones Had a Lot to Say About the Cowboys’ Defensive Backs" 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!



I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @MauNFL.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Michael White

    February 28, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    This is ridiculous that it’s taken 3 years for them to see that he is a CB..This flex, versatility thing is getting way out of hand…put the guy on 1 position and let him play and learn

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Mauricio Rodriguez

      February 28, 2018 at 4:48 pm

      I definitely agree with you, Michael. I’d rather see them give their players solid position that try to flex them a lot. Just my two cents, though. Thanks for reading, man!

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Mauricio Rodriguez

      February 28, 2018 at 4:48 pm

      I definitely agree with you, Michael. I’d rather see them give their players solid position that try to flex them a lot. Just my two cents, though. Thanks for reading, man!

  2. Travis Diggs

    February 28, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    This is too similar to when Scandrick had a good season at slot corner and then they moved him to outside corner and he struggled. The coaching staffs personnel decisions are very questionable at times. Byron played well at corner in his rookie season but then they moved him to safety and he struggled, this is simple math that the coaches seem to not realize or understand

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Mauricio Rodriguez

      February 28, 2018 at 4:53 pm

      I agree, I don’t like they way they’ve handled the Byron situation. Hopefully, that changes in 2018, especially with Kris Richard. Thanks for reading, Travis!

  3. EverybodyTalks

    February 28, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    Hopefully, Kris Richard is a stabilizing force in the secondary. It has been said before, but Byron fits the mold of a CB, not a Safety. Find another Safety in the draft and move on. This should be a positive and solidify the secondary.

    • Mauricio Rodriguez

      Mauricio Rodriguez

      March 1, 2018 at 1:56 pm

      I agree, and I’m excited to see what Kris Richard could achieve in Dallas. Thanks for reading!

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowlers Show Promise for Future

Sean Martin

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Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowlers Show Promise for Future

The next class of players to join the Dallas Cowboys may be on the field at Mobile, Alabama this week for the Senior Bowl, but their young core is well represented in front of the Cowboys coaching staff at the Pro Bowl.

With Left Tackle Tyron Smith and Right Guard Zack Martin not participating, the Cowboys have six Pro Bowl participants. The improved health of their offensive line is still one of the best things going for this team in the early part of the offseason, expecting four-time Pro Bowl Center Travis Frederick to rejoin Smith and Martin as soon as OTAs.

A compilation of the best linemen in the NFC will have to do for Quarterback Dak Prescott and Running Back Ezekiel Elliott - making their second Pro Bowl appearance together. It took the addition of Wide Receiver Amari Cooper for the Cowboys offense to find their expected form under Prescott and Elliott in their third season, as Cooper will appear in his fourth Pro Bowl in as many years.

Both times Elliott's made the Pro Bowl, he's done so as the league's rushing champion.

Hardly on track to reach Orlando with the Oakland Raiders, Cooper put up 725 yards and six touchdowns on 53 catches in nine regular season games for the Cowboys. He followed up this resurgent performance with seven catches for 106 yards in the Wild Card Round vs. the Seahawks and six for 65 and a touchdown at the Rams in the Divisional Round.

The Cowboys shouldn't be done adding talent at wide receiver, with Cooper serving as the bold reminder of what Prescott can do with dynamic talent on the outside. Moving on from Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan already this offseason, the next steps towards building the offense around Dak's strengths is yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, their established strengths will be on display, and not just on offense at the Pro Bowl. Making strides as one of the best young defenses in the league this season, Cowboys rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch will be joined by Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence and Cornerback Byron Jones.

Though its unlikely their coaching will match the intensity of the season, the best thing these three defenders have going for them is more time under Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard. One of Richard's first moves with the Cowboys was moving Jones to cornerback, where he became a first-time Pro Bowler.

Unable to reach his full athletic potential at safety, Jones was the elite corner the Cowboys needed at a position still in need of depth. His length and range should make him a fixture in Richard's secondary for a long time.

Vander Esch becomes the 11th Cowboys rookie to make a Pro Bowl, the third on the defensive side of the ball. Surely the Wolf Hunter will look forward to another week of football, going from eight man HS player to one-year starter at Boise State and finally a Cowboys fixture at linebacker.

The Cowboys did what was thought to be proved impossible this season by fielding a competent defense (mostly) without Sean Lee. Vander Esch and teammate Jaylon Smith deserve the credit here, with Leighton making a larger immediate impact than ever expected as the 19th overall pick.

Last but nowhere near least is DeMarcus Lawrence, much closer to the Cowboys top priority in free agency this offseason than an afterthought at his second Pro Bowl. Putting together consecutive seasons with at least ten sacks, the Cowboys don't have to see anything further from their top pass rusher to do whatever it takes to re-sign him.

The rest of the Cowboys "Hot Boyz" have a lot of potential and promise, but Lawrence is a rare proven commodity at defensive end with 25 sacks in his last 32 games. Rushing the passer in the Pro Bowl is a relatively futile task, but the Cowboys know Lawrence is capable of saving his best plays for the biggest moments. Also a dominant run defender, there simply shouldn't be a reality where the Cowboys are forced to field a defense without Lawrence at left end in 2019 and beyond.

The Cowboys at the Pro Bowl will tell you they'd prefer to be missing the game in preparation for the Super Bowl. Getting within two games of this feat after a 3-5 start is still impressive enough for the Cowboys to feel great about their future, in large part because of the six players representing America's Team this week.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowlers Show Promise for Future" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Handing out Hardware for the Dallas Cowboys 2018 Season

John Williams

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Resilience Earns Prescott's 1st Playoff Win, Trip to Divisional Round

The 2018 NFL season for the Dallas Cowboys was literally a roller coaster ride with as many ups and downs as the Texas Giant. Through the first seven games of the season the Cowboys alternated home wins with road losses to get to 3-4. They made as big of a personnel move as they've made in recent years when they traded for Amari Cooper only to all to 3-5 in his debut on Monday Night Football to the Tennessee Titans.

Then the team went on an improbably five game winning streak to put themselves in position to win the NFC East for the third time in five years by mid December. The Cowboys were able to pick up the win in the wild card round over the Seattle Seahawks before being ousted by Todd Gurley, C.J. Anderson, and the Los Angeles -- battering -- Rams' offensive line.

The season always ends with a little disappointment for 31 of the NFL's 32 teams, but this year felt different at the end because of where they were to start the season and after eight games. After the Tennessee game, this team was written off. They were Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant. They stormed back and made the 2018 season a memorable one, even if it didn't end with a sixth Lombardi Trophy.

Let's give out some post season awards to your Dallas Cowboys.

MVP

Dak Prescott, Quarterback

Many will scoff at this choice and think it could be Ezekiel Elliott, and I understand, but nobody had a greater impact on the Dallas Cowboys making the playoffs and winning their matchup with the Seattle Seahawks than Dak Prescott did.

Over the final eight games of the season, Dak averaged 278 passing yards per game, 2 total touchdowns, and threw only three interceptions. His numbers down the stretch over a 16 game pace were phenomenal. On 71.6% passing, he was on pace for 4,450 yards, 24 passing touchdowns, eight rushing touchdowns, only six interceptions on the season, with a passer rating of 103.4.

John Williams ✭ on Twitter

Not to make this about Dak, but I'm going to make this about Dak. 2nd in success rate, 3rd in EPA and EPA/play among playoff QBs. #CowboysNation https://t.co/Evyf73uzJ9

His play in the win over the Seattle Seahawks was instrumental in getting the victory to move on to the divisional round. Though they fell short against the Los Angeles Rams, Dak was able to bring them back from 16 down early in the second half to make it a one score game in the end.

Dak Prescott is still a developing player, and in reality, all players are trying to grow their game. Every season. Prescott is a good quarterback, who is on his way to being great and we saw this season the potential that he has.

He threw for a career high 455 yards against the Eagles and three touchdowns and then threw for 387 yards and four touchdowns against the New York Giants. There's evidence now that Dak can throw the ball, and that should scare teams.

In the playoffs, Prescott stepped up and was a big reason why the Cowboys beat the Seahawks and hung in there against the Rams.

Offensive Player of the Year

Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back

Three years, two rushing titles, and it almost seemed like a "meh" season for Ezekiel Elliott. Sure he had some big games, but only a couple times this season did it feel like Elliott took over the game. Some of that is due to the offensive line injuries and inconsistencies, but some of that may be due to Elliott who saw a much bigger workload than he had in his career to date.

He was much more actively involved in the passing game this season as he more than doubled his previous career high with 77 receptions for 567 yards. Though he won the rushing title, this was the lowest rushing yards per game he's had in his short three-year career. Elliott only scored nine touchdowns this season, which tied with his 2017 total that he accrued in only 10 games.

Elliott struggled some in the red zone because the team struggled in the red zone. Some of those issues related to the offensive line and some because of the play calling, but you'd hope that Elliott would be able to overcome some of that where it mattered most.

Defensive Player of the Year

DeMarcus Lawrence, Defensive End

No player on defense has a bigger impact for the Dallas Cowboys than Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence. Whether it's in the run game or the passing game, DeMarcus Lawrence is elite in both categories and makes life incredibly difficult on the opposing offense.

On the season he had 10.5 sacks, finishing with double-digit sacks for the second year in a row. While that may not be as impressive as his 2017 total of 14.5, he was doing his thing with much less help along the defensive line. There wasn't another player who flirted with double-digit sacks this season. Though Randy Gregory, Maliek Collins, and Tyrone Crawford performed well, teams gave all of their attention to Lawrence in both the run and pass game.

And he was still amazingly effective.

Lawrence finished fifth among EDGE players -- 4-3 defensive end and 3-4 outside linebackers -- in tackles, fourth in the NFL in Pro Football Focus' "stops" measure with 44, and 15th in total pressures. Pro Football Focus ranked Lawrence as the seventh best EDGE defender, ninth best pass rusher, and the 12th best run defender. J.J. Watt and Khalil Mack were the only other EDGE defenders who ranked in the top 12 as both a pass rusher and run defender per Pro Football Focus.

DeMarcus Lawrence is heading into the offseason looking to get a long-term deal done.

Rookie of the Year

Leighton Vander Esch, Linebacker

While Connor Williams and Michael Gallup had really good starts to their NFL career's no rookie for the Dallas Cowboys was as impressive as 19th overall pick Leighton Vander Esch. He led the Dallas Cowboys in tackles and "stops" and had the second highest grade of any defender as graded by Pro Football Focus.

In tackles, he was second only to future Hall of Fame inductee Luke Keuchly and fellow rookie Darius Leonard. Vander Esch did all this while playing a limited number of snaps as the Dallas Cowboys eased him in at the start of the season and then attempted to find a way to have Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, and Sean Lee on the field together.

It was an impressive year for the former Boise St. Bronco and the sky is the limit for Vander Esch. He's now played just his second season as a starter in 11-man football. If you remember, he didn't start for Boise St. till the 2017 season and had played 8-man football in high school.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what kind of progression Vander Esch can make to his game in 2019. He's going to be a great player.

Most Improved Player

Jaylon Smith, Linebacker

The 2017 season was not kind to Jaylon Smith. It was his first attempt at playing football since January of 2016 when he tore his ACL in the Fiesta Bowl. It was amazing that he was even playing, though he didn't play considerably well.

2018, however, was a different story.

Jaylon Smith could make a case for team MVP. He may not have had as many tackles as Vander Esch, or as many sacks, but by playmaking defensive EPA, he was nearly as effective at making big plays on defense as DeMarcus Lawrence.

Cowboys Stats & Graphics on Twitter

Overall playmaking EPA rank among all NFL defenders: 5. DeMarcus Lawrence 7. Jaylon Smith 58. Leighton Vander Esch

EPA measures the effect a play will have on the score. Not all plays are weighted the same, as some weigh heavier because of down and distance, turnovers, etc. Jaylon Smith had an excellent season for the Dallas Cowboys and looks to be the guy that they thought he would be when they selected him at the top of the second round in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Having Smith and Vander Esch roaming around the middle of the field for the Dallas Cowboys moving forward is huge. They're excellent at moving in space and are excellent definitions of "sideline to sideline" players.

Jaylon Smith is one of the players I'm already looking forward to watching again in the 2019 season.

Comeback Player of the Year

Randy Gregory, Defensive End

After sitting out all but two games of the 2016 season and all of last season, Randy Gregory came back this season and had a good year. With only one sack in his career heading into the 2018 season, Gregory had a nice comeback year with five sacks and finished tied for second on the team with 37 pressures according to Pro Football Focus. According to Pro Football Reference, Gregory was second on the team in tackles for loss.

The Cowboys have Randy Gregory under contract for the 2019 season for just under $1 million.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Dallas Cowboys have a lot to feel optimistic about as they look to roster build this offseason in preparation of the 2019 season. They have several ascending players playing key roles for them. This team looks primed to contend again in 2019.



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Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott And Amari Cooper Added To 2019 Pro Bowl

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Resilient Prescott Inches Cowboys Closer to NFC East Title
Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

As is usual now that 30 teams' seasons have concluded, players on playoff teams are beginning to drop out of the 2019 Pro Bowl. Notably, New Orleans Saints quarterback/wide receiver connection Drew Brees and Michael Thomas each decided they will stay home next Sunday, rather than participate in the NFL's All Star game.

As replacements for these two, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper have been added to the NFC Pro Bowl roster.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

DallasCowboys wide receiver @AmariCooper9 and quarterback @dak have both been added to the NFC #ProBowl roster! → https://t.co/9HYuqBvi7z

For quarterback Dak Prescott this is his second Pro Bowl selection in his first three seasons. While Pro Bowl selections aren't always a great indicator of being a top tier quarterback, especially if added as an alternate, Prescott's selections do show that he has been among the NFC's best for much of his young career.

With Prescott on the NFC roster are Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, making this a very mobile quarterback depth chart.

This will be wide receiver Amari Cooper's third Pro Bowl appearance, and his first as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper had instant chemistry after adding the Pro Bowl wide out via trade midseason, and it's exciting to see them added to this All Star game together. Despite what some fans may think, both Prescott and Cooper do "deserve" to be additions to the game, boasting some of the best performances in the conference during the second half of the season.

Prescott and Cooper join teammates DeMarcus Lawrence, Ezekiel Elliott, Byron Jones, and Leighton Vander Esch to play in this year's Pro Bowl game.



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