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Is Taco Charlton Improving With More Playing Time?

Brian Martin

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Back in April, the Dallas Cowboys used their 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft to select former Michigan Wolverine defensive end Taco Charlton. It wasn't a surprise they drafted a defensive end in the first round, but it was shocking to some who they decided to go with. The bashing of Charlton has been relentless ever since, especially since he has failed to register a single quarterback sack this season.

The only time Taco Charlton's name comes up in a conversation is when someone says the Dallas Cowboys would've been a better off drafting T.J. Watt or anyone else for that matter. Watt is the name that comes up the most, especially since he has already registered four sacks this season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It just seems like nearly all of Cowboys Nation is ready to write off Taco Charlton, even though he's only played six total games in the NFL. Yes, we would all like to see him make an immediate impact, but that is extremely rare for rookie pass rushers. I would say to remain patient, but unfortunately we live in a society that wants to be instantly gratified.

The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff haven't really done the young pass rusher any favors either. The entire Cowboys organization knew Taco was a work in progress when they drafted him and that it would take time for him to develop. But, we all know the best way to do that is to get him on the field to get him up to speed as quickly as possible and build his confidence.

DE Taco Charlton

DE Taco Charlton

Well, with both Benson Mayowa and Damontre Moore inactive against the San Francisco 49ers, Taco Charlton played the most snaps of his entire NFL career to date. Whether it was by design or not, Charlton played 37 snaps against the 49ers and had arguably the best game of his professional career so far.

Now, Charlton unfortunately is still looking for his first career QB sack in the NFL, but according to the coaches' breakdown, he did register two quarterback pressures and a pass breakup. It may seem like a small thing, but it would indicate he's taking a step in the right direction. More playing time might just be the key to tapping into his potential.

"He needs to play more," coach Jason Garrett said. "But he fought well, he competed well, he was around the ball. Made his presence known a little bit at the line of scrimmage knocking the ball down. So he's getting there. He's going about it the right way in practice. It's a good opportunity for him to play a lot of snaps in that game. He'll grow from that experience."

We are definitely hoping Charlton grows from the experience and continues to progress. Unfortunately, it's never going to be fast enough for most Cowboys fans. I however believe in remaining patient and would suggest everyone else do so as well.

Taco Charlton is fully aware of what's being said about him and the perception that the Dallas Cowboys made a mistake drafting him with the 28th overall pick. The only thing he can do is continue to keep his head down and do what's asked of him.

Personally, I think Taco Charlton is going to be just fine in time. He seems to be getting better and was just a step away from earning his first QB sack in the NFL against the 49ers. Once he learns how to finish, I think the sacks will start piling up.

Is more playing time benefiting Taco Charlton?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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10 Comments
  • Hobbes49

    Good to see some positive stats for Taco this past game. You wrote before the bye that the kid needed more playing time to improve and it looks like the front office and coaches definitely agree. It is time to let Taco play a lot, build his confidence and his skill level, and hopefully turn his talent loose. I think the kid will be fine, and prove to be a positive force for our line in the years to come. Has to benefit from playing on the line with Tank, Irving, and Collins. Lot’s of one on one chances to make plays. I say he gets his first sack this weekend!! Let the good times roll with Taco

    • Brian Martin

      This game against the Redskins could definitely be his best chance to get his first QB sack. The Redskins offensive line will be banged up. Just about every player on their OL was injured at some point in the game against the Eagles. Hopefully Taco can take advantage of that.

      • Hobbes49

        Agreed. A sack would really help him develop some positive momentum moving forward, and we will need all the pass rush we can get in ththeoming weeks

        • Brian Martin

          Check out my article tomorrow. It’s about five players the Cowboys should try trading for before the trade deadline. Two of them are pass rushers.

  • Albert Smith

    I have been by his side from day because there is something called a learning curve, and in comparison to most DEs especially one’s we would’ve liked no one’s dominating. Keep in mind also TJ Watt got his mainly off of the Cleveland Browns so we’ll see going forward.

    • Brian Martin

      Very well stated. I think it has a lot to do with the expectations for Dallas Cowboys rookies, especially after last season. Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, and the rest of the 2016 draft class have really raised the bar, so anything less than that type of performance for rookies is kind of disappointing now. I think Taco will be fine in time, but he may never be a dominating player. It’s a rarity many pass rushers are unless they are a top 10-15 draft pick.

      • Albert Smith

        That’s traditionally where you find the blue chip pass rusher’s but I also believe that there’s evidence to support the contrary. Really what it’s going to come down to is Jerry and the front office sacrificing assets to go get that caliber of player, I’m still stung that we didn’t go Fletcher Cox years ago.

        • Brian Martin

          I think the expectations were that the Cowboys were going to find a blue-chip pass rusher in the 28th slot. I think that’s why everybody is disappointed with Taco. I’m right there with you about Fletcher Cox. Marinelli seems to have a specific type of DT in mind and unfortunately the Cowboys have missed out on some good ones because of it.

          • Albert Smith

            I know that was just before we went back to the 4-3, and maybe because we had Rob Ryan at DC he may have felt better about Mo. Especially considering they were trying to rebuild the secondary on the fly at that point too, I just wish really we had coach Zim here tbh.

          • Brian Martin

            You’re right, it was before the went to the 4-3. I can’t fault them for choosing who they did at the time, but it is a terrible decision in hindsight. Fortunately, the Cowboys have been much better drafting players since then.

Star Blog

How Will Safeties Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier Fit Kris Richard’s Secondary?

Sean Martin

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How Will Safeties Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier Fit Kris Richard's Secondary?
(Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, David Irving's most recent four game suspension is the main story for a Dallas Cowboys team finished with OTAs and mini camp, left only to wait for training camp now. I've chosen to focus on the players that were on the field for the offseason program, that will continue to contend for starting jobs in Oxnard. Standing out from a lackluster group of safeties, for a Kris Richard led secondary that is off to a fast start, are safeties Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier.

Joined by Jeff Heath, Tyree Robinson, Jameill Showers, and Marqueston Huff, the Cowboys are lacking a dominant force at safety to pair with their young and talented group of cornerbacks. With the likes of Chidobe Awuzie, Byron Jones (the former safety), and Anthony Brown already improving under Richard, the Cowboys hope is that the same will apply to this group of safeties.

It's still entirely too early to know how the Cowboys want to deploy their safeties this season, but the only players that have shown their strengths and weaknesses over any period of time are Heath, Frazier, and Woods. This is sure to cause an uphill battle for the fringe players looking to push this trio of versatile safeties.

Jeff Heath has appeared in 77 games over five seasons with the Cowboys. Frazier and Woods combined? Just 24 games, with 16 of them making up Woods' rookie season a year ago. This makes finding a potential role for both players vital to the Cowboys.

How Will Safeties Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier Fit Kris Richard's Secondary? 2

Dallas Cowboys S Kavon Frazier (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Safety Kavon Frazier

Working mostly as a special teams player through two seasons in Dallas, Kavon Frazier has patiently awaited his opportunity to spark the Cowboys defense as a sixth round pick of 2016. Doing so in a memorable week 13 win over the Washington Redskins, Frazier earned an increased role as an enforcer on defense.

This is a player whose straight line burst and power is ideal for a ST starter, and when Frazier connects coming downhill on defense, the results can be catastrophic for an opposing offense.  Surely these are traits that will remind Kris Richard even slightly of his Super Bowl winning "Legion of Boom" defenses.

The distinction between Frazier being a part-time player or one maximizing his potential to start deep in the Cowboys secondary is an important one. Limited in coverage, Frazier may be at his best when conceding snaps to another safety on the Cowboys roster with more of an all-around game -- which the Cowboys can only hope Xavier Woods continues to be.

Safety Xavier Woods

Xavier Woods may not have the pure stopping power that Kavon Frazier possesses, but as a fellow sixth-round pick there is more than enough to like about what Woods brought to the Cowboys in 2017 out of Louisiana State. With 14 interceptions and six forced fumbles out of college, Woods slid in the draft enough for the Cowboys to trade up for his services.

The team wasn't cheated out of their investment in Woods last season, giving him the "Byron Jones treatment" as Woods lined up all over the field. It was Richard that came to Dallas and almost immediately moved Byron Jones down to cornerback, seeing a better use of his natural size and skills there.

Doing the same for Woods -- while keeping the natural FS free to react -- should be next up on Richard's offseason to-do list. This is a player with sideline to sideline range, enough athleticism to cover down in the slot, and the functional strength to compete in the box.

Amidst this uncertainty for both Frazier and Woods, early reports out of the Cowboys practices thus far have Jeff Heath specifically matching up against the tight end. This is an ideal role for Heath, and one that could compliment Woods very well.

How Will Safeties Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier Fit Kris Richard's Secondary? 1

Dallas Cowboys CB Anthony Brown, S Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath

Regardless of where Heath is on the field, Woods should be able to coexist with him as a similarly instinctive safety.

There is also the possibility that both Heath and Woods struggle to handle these "starting" responsibilities, leaving the Cowboys with very little trusted depth at safety. If there is an area Woods needs the most improvement in, it is the angles he takes against the run to consistently make stops, a weakness also potentially mitigated by the Cowboys improved linebacker play (investing the 19th overall pick at the position).

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Between Frazier and Woods, it feels safe to say the Cowboys must find a starter for a secondary that could still achieve great things in 2018. The Cowboys are entering this season with a loaded group of cornerbacks, all capable of making a safety's job relatively easy, especially while learning under Richard.

Such can be the hope for a raw player like Frazier and, in a sense, Xavier Woods. The second-year player in Woods is a great unknown for the Cowboys right now, as he'll remain that way for some time before next month's training camp.

With this, we'll have much more time to sit around and continue pondering what certain position groups will look like once meaningful Cowboys football graciously returns. I've written before that I'm paying close attention to this team's group of wide receivers, and you can add in the secondary players they'll be competing against too.

Tell us what you think about "How Will Safeties Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier Fit Kris Richard’s Secondary?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Star Blog

No, Cowboys Shouldn’t Cut David Irving

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys' Pass Rush: Who Will Be QB Sack Leader In 2017?
Jeff Hanisch / USA TODAY Sports

For the past five years, Dallas Cowboys fans have gone through painful offseason stories regarding upcoming suspensions for defensive players. It doesn't matter how much talent the front office is able to find through the Draft, there's always one player that ruins what feels like a successful offseason. This time, for the second consecutive year, David Irving is the player to let Cowboys Nation down.

On Friday it was announced that Irving will serve a four-game suspension after violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.

Understandably, a lot of Cowboys' fans want to see Irving released by the franchise that has preached the "Right Kind of Guy" philosophy while failing to establish such a thing. It's disappointing to see such a talented player limiting himself  by not "wanting it" bad enough and by making mistakes like this repeatedly.

However, even if it's a very frustrating situation, the Cowboys shouldn't cut David Irving. 

First of all, Irving's hit against the cap space is pretty minimum and nothing to be concerned at all. After being handed a second-round tender earlier in the year, #95 was set to earn $2.91M during the season. With a four-game suspension ahead of him, that number will be even lower.

We're talking about a guy who in eight games managed to get to the quarterback seven times in 2017 and consistently pressured opposing signal callers. Not to mention he's going to be just 25 years old when the season begins.

For the Cowboys, David Irving has the talent needed to average one sack per game. All of this for less than three million.

Irving has proven by now that he's not worth a long-term extension. That much is clear.  In order to get one of those, a player must prove his availability.

Talking specifically about 2018, though, I'm sure the Cowboys will be better off if they count on Irving for the final 12 games of the season. The team counts with pretty decent depth at the position with Maliek Collins, Datone Jones and Jihad Ward, but Irving has the potential to end the season with double-digit sacks.

The team gains nothing by releasing Irving. The team will not even be "sending a message" if they were to release #95. Maybe if the team had consistently sent this kind of "messages" over the years it would make sense.

However, we know this team sticks with their players and supports them in moments like this. They have done just that with Randy Gregory and it seems like it will pay off soon.

Whether we're mad at Irving's actions or not, the truth is letting him go wouldn't be wise at all. The Cowboys are not paying him big-time money, he's young and he'll be productive on the field when the defense needs him to.

We're talking about a football team that wants to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy. They can't be letting starting-caliber players go just like that. They need all the help they can get and even though his situation is far from ideal, David Irving will play a big role on defense.

Tell me what you think about "No, Cowboys Shouldn’t Cut David Irving" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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Star Blog

Should Cowboys Add Another Safety Before Training Camp?

Brian Martin

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Should Cowboys Add Another Safety Before Training Camp?

The Dallas Cowboys are extremely thin at the safety position. Fact. They haven't really brought in anyone to upgrade the position from last season. Fact. I just wanted to point that out because there's a lot of discussion as to whether or not the Cowboys need to add another safety before training camp.

I don't know where you stand on this debate or how I feel about it personally, but it's definitely something that needs to be discussed from the Cowboys end. It is the one position where there is a lot of unknown and inexperienced. If one of their current safeties were to go down with an injury and miss any time, the whole defense would suffer.

As things stand right now, Jeff Heath is the only one who will reprise his starting role on the backend of the Cowboys defense. Behind him are Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier, but knowing exactly how they fit in at this moment is completely up in the air.

Unfortunately, that's the top three safeties for the Dallas Cowboys heading into the 2018 season. What's even more bothersome is their fourth might be an undrafted rookie, Tyree Robinson. I don't know about you, but I find that very concerning. But, maybe Kris Richard, the defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator, knows something we don't.

Kris Richard

Dallas Cowboys DB Coach Kris Richard

Fortunately, Kris Richard was recently asked if he had any concerns about the safety position on the "Doomsday Podcast" with Matt Mosley and Ed Werder. He said he had "none".

"I'm confident. I feel really good at this point in time and it's because the level of character of our guys," he said. "We're going to get better. That's the deal because our guys are young, focused, I think the hunger's there. I love the look in their eyes. I love how everyone is buying in, is focused and paying attention to detail. It makes a difference when guys care. It makes a difference when each one wants to teach one. We're trying to build something special. We want to be tribe-like. We want to be more than a team."

It certainly sounds like Kris Richard is excited about the Dallas Cowboys current safeties. Of course, he would never just come out and say that this group is terrible or he wished they'd add Earl Thomas another available safety. That's just not how things work. He's here to coach up the guys on the roster and not worry about personnel moves.

I don't know about you, but I know I would feel a lot better if they had one more experienced safety who could come in and compete for a starting job. Maybe someone like Tre Boston or Kenny Vaccaro, who are still unsigned. Maybe make that trade for Earl Thomas? That's a dream that just won't die.

Regardless, the Dallas Cowboys need to do something to address their depth at the safety position. I don't know what their plans are moving forward, but hopefully they have a contingency plan in place. It's just smart business.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys need to add a safety before training camp?



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