Connect with us

Star Blog

Is Taco Charlton Improving With More Playing Time?

Brian Martin



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.

  • 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

Sean’s Scout: WR Deonte Thompson A Vertical Threat for Dallas Cowboys

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: WR Deonte Thompson A Vertical Threat for Dallas Cowboys

Finally addressing their underwhelming cast of wide receivers, the Dallas Cowboys signed journeyman Deonte Thompson yesterday. The seventh-year pro spent 2017 with both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills, hauling in 38 passes for 555 yards and two touchdowns.

Thompson was undrafted in 2012 out of Florida, making both the Cowboys' free agent signings to date former UDFAs. The Cowboys added LB Joe Thomas earlier in the week, who you can learn more about in Sean's Scout as well.

In desperate need of speed and play making ability on the outside, here is a look at what WR Deonte Thompson can bring to the Dallas Cowboys.

WR Deonte Thompson: Strengths

Thompson1 - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Deonte Thompson plays with a great understanding of his own frame, using his length to give defensive backs problems up the field. Not a true "burner", Thompson takes some time to accelerate down the field, but can separate vertically.

Thompson runs smooth routes, using his long strides to get on DBs in a hurry. Once in position to free himself at the stem of a route, Thompson showed the ability to consistently turn his hips and complete a number of underneath and deep routes at a high level.

Thompson2 - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Deonte Thompson may not win on many throws "above the rim", but he is above average at the catch point securing passes with his strong hands.

Snagging the ball outside of his frame is not much of an issue for Thompson, who makes the most of his run-after-the-catch opportunities by effortlessly receiving the ball in stride.

At this stage of his career, Thompson may not be an every down player, but this is a player the Cowboys can absolutely find a way to get involved in their sputtering passing offense next season - at the very least replacing the role of FA WR Brice Butler.

WR Deonte Thompson: Weaknesses

Deonte Thompson should not be expected to go over the top on many defenses for the Cowboys in 2018. While the traits are there to flash as that sort of player, Thompson simply is not at his best trying to track down deep vertical passes.

When Thompson does not create separation on his initial burst up the field, there was a tendency for him to get shoved around at the catch point. Still coming up with his fair share of passes, the degree of difficulty on these catches was often increased by his inability to truly play through contact.

This is not a player with a powerful lower body, relying on upper body flex and foot speed to free himself and create plays in space. Overall balance is a strength for Thompson, but he rarely is able to break tackles or move defenders as a blocker in the running game.

WR Deonte Thompson: Summary

Thompson3 - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

The Cowboys should know what they are getting in Deonte Thompson, who has not had the benefit of great quarterback play in recent seasons. The hope in Dallas is that a number of receivers on the bottom of the depth chart can stand out this summer to make the team out of a crowded room.

This group of Ryan Switzer, Lance Lenoir, Noah Brown, and KD Cannon will now include Deonte Thompson - who should have the edge over most of these names.

Thompson won't be the difference in the Cowboys' offense having a bounce back season in 2018, but his raw athleticism and effortless ability to serve as a deep threat could surely make an impact in Dak Prescott's progression.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: WR Deonte Thompson A Vertical Threat for Dallas Cowboys" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

Continue Reading

Star Blog

Using Win Probabilities To Evaluate Decision Making: Cowboys Kick Vs. Raiders

Kevin Brady



Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys' Defense Silently Shined, Jeff Heath Saved The Season 1
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles have surpassed the Dallas Cowboys in more ways than one, but on Super Bowl Sunday, their willingness to "be aggressive" and "take chances" shined through the most. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was congratulated by the masses for not coaching scared, and instead going for it on key fourth downs and even attempting trick plays.

When you really evaluate those decisions, however, they shouldn't even be thought of as "risky." If anything, they were simply the obvious call.

Over the last few months I have been working with win probability models, looking to validate and refine those available to the public. I can't share too much about the work as of yet (there will hopefully be a published article in the future), but the work is certainly promising.

What I can say is this. Dennis Lock and Dan Nettleton worked to utilize random forests to estimate win probabilities before each play in an NFL game. These "forests" are similar to decision tree machine learning, cycling through random trees of past data to predict future outcomes.

Brian Burke has been utilizing his model for a while now, and Pro Football Reference has a simple, yet effective model as well. For my project, I have been working to find the "best" ways to estimate those win probabilities in order to inform decision making by head coaches and coordinators.

If you aren't utilizing analytics correctly in today's NFL, you're falling behind. And if you aren't willing to take calculated risks based off of what these numbers say and mean, you are really falling behind.

How does this all relate to the Cowboys?

Well, Cowboys Nation has been pretty consistent in their main criticism of head coach Jason Garrett: he's too conservative. They say he coaches scared, and they believe he punts the ball away too often between the 40's. Numbers accumulated by writers such as Bob Sturm and Marcus Mosher back up these claims, but I wanted to examine Garrett's decision making through the win probability lens.

I took to Twitter to ask the fan base for specific scenarios in which they felt Garrett was too conservative. Then, I ran these situations through the win probability model to determine how these decisions affected the outcomes.

Over a series of posts I will detail what the model says about the Cowboys' decision making in these key moments. First, we go back to December of last season where the Cowboys had their season on the line in Oakland.

Cowboys at Raiders, 2017

One instance which was consistently brought up was ironically from a Cowboys win. Yes, a win!

The Raiders had played the Cowboys close all game long, and with their season on the line Dallas was in position to put those pesky Raiders away. Tied at 17 they entered a fourth and goal situation at the Raiders' 1 yard line. The Cowboys decided to kick the field goal and grab a 20-17 lead. While Dallas did hang on to win, this was only because of a miraculous play by Jeff Heath which resulted in a fumble and a touchback.

Many of the fans who tweeted at me seem to think the Cowboys should have went for the touchdown on fourth down, rather than take their three points. But what does the model say?

Prior to the fourth down play, the Cowboys had about an 85% chance to win the game. After kicking the field goal and kicking the ball away to Oakland, that probability went down to just above 80%. Had the Cowboys gone for it and been stuffed at the Raiders' 1 yard line, that probability would have dropped all the way to just over 57%.

But the model does believe that Garrett made the right decision. Of course, had Dallas scored a touchdown, the game would've virtually been over, but the variance in probabilities suggests that kicking the field goal and taking the sure points was a good move.

Next week, I explain where Jason Garrett and company may have gone wrong during a key 4th down decision against the Los Angeles Rams. If you have any suggestions for plays/situations you'd like evaluated, please comment below!

Continue Reading

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Nuevas Contrataciones, ¿Podría Ser Allen Hurns la Siguiente?

Mauricio Rodriguez



Cowboys en Español: Nuevas Contrataciones, ¿Podría Ser Allen Hurns la Siguiente?

La agencia libre de los Dallas Cowboys comenzó un poco tarde, siendo el último equipo en toda la liga de la NFL en realizar una contratación este offseason. Ahora, con algunas caras nuevas en el equipo, comienzan las preguntas inevitables. ¿Qué jugadores tendrán un impacto y qué jugadores serán una contratación irrelevante?

Sólo el tiempo lo dirá. Las piezas que añadieron los Cowboys no son agentes libres de gran renombre pero podrían llegar a tener algún impacto en el 2018. Sin embargo, no todas las adquisiciones de Dallas han sido por medio de la agencia libre.

Hace unos días, los Raiders y los Cowboys acordaron un trade por el fullback Jamize Olawale. Días después de perder a Keith Smith (quien fue contratado por... los Raiders), Dallas no quiso echarse todavía otra necesidad encima, así que solucionó rápidamente su hueco en la posición que le abrirá camino a Ezekiel Elliott.

Además de enviar a Olawale a los Cowboys, los Raiders consiguieron una selección de quinta ronda de parte de Dallas y ellos entregaron su sexta ronda. En otras palabras, los Cowboys sólo renunciaron 19 turnos en las rondas tardías del Draft por un fullback que será de ayuda constante para esta ofensiva.

A pesar de ser tres años más grande que Keith Smith, Olawale le brinda a los Cowboys potencial para participar en el juego aéreo así como en el terrestre.

Por la agencia libre, los Cowboys obtuvieron ayuda ofensiva y defensiva.

Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

Joe Thomas, (no, no el que todos conocemos como uno de los mejores tackles de la historia) el linebacker que viene de los Green Bay Packers, usará la estrella este 2018. Mi compañero y escritor de Staff Sean Martin escribió una excelente pieza analizando a detalle al nuevo defensivo. 

Thomas definitivamente no será un titular, pero sin duda ayudará a un grupo de equipos especiales que necesitan bastante apoyo esta temporada. Además, es un linebacker rápido y atlético que podrá brillar como un jugador de rotación en una defensiva que incluye a Sean Lee y a Jaylon Smith.

Esta contratación no hace que los Cowboys dejen de tener una gran necesidad por un LB, pero da una profundidad que urgía a la posición.

Questions Surround Cowboys WR Position After Deonte Thompson Signing

El último movimiento y quizá el más discutido por los aficionados de los Cowboys es la adquisición de Deonte Thompson. Un receptor abierto que ha batallado para conseguir una casa en la NFL llega a un equipo que cuenta con nombres como Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams y Cole Beasley, pero que aún necesita mucho más producción.

¿Acaso la adición de Thompson al roster hace que WR deje de ser una necesidad para el equipo de los Cowboys? Claro que no, pero añade un talento que quizá pueda ayudar al equipo en ciertos aspectos.

Thompson es un jugador muy rápido, lo cual es algo que esta ofensiva necesita para abrir el campo un poco más. Un corredor de rutas bastante sólido con manos seguras. Thompson viene probablemente a ser una versión mejorada de Brice Butler por $2.5M.

Quizá fue un error de parte de la administración garantizarle un millón de su contrato. ¿Por qué garantizarle dinero a un jugador que ni siquiera debería tener un lugar asegurado en el equipo? Sin embargo, Thompson parece ser un contribuidor a la ofensiva.

Pero no fue el WR en la agencia libre del que se ha hablado esta semana en el mundo de los Dallas Cowboys. De hecho, aún después de firmar su contrato, no es el más discutido entre los aficionados.

Allen Hurns, receptor que fue cortado de Jacksonville, es un jugador que podría llegar a hacer un impacto inmediato en la ofensiva de Dak Prescott y proveerle al QB un potencial mejor amigo. A pesar de que muchos esperarían que conseguir a Hurns significaría decirle adiós a Dez Bryant, la verdad es que no sería necesario.

Hurns podría tomar el rol que Terrance Williams posee ahora como receptor "Z" y llevar a esta ofensiva a otro nivel. Todd Archer de ESPN reportó que la reciente adquisición de Deonte Thompson no significa que la posibilidad de ver a Hurns usando la estrella ha acabado.

Todos queremos ver acción en la agencia libre, aunque a veces lo sensato sea ser conservadores. Así como muchos aficionados de los Cowboys se quejan de la falta de movimientos, muchos aficionados de los Steelers y los Patriots agradecen que sus equipos tengan esta filosofía de no gastar mucho en agencia libre.

La diferencia son los resultados en el campo.

Sin embargo, Allen Hurns definitivamente parece como una opción muy viable para los Cowboys, y una adición que simplemente tendría mucho sentido. Sólo queda esperar si lograrán firmarlo o si un equipo (como los Jets, quienes han mostrado mucho interés y tienen bastante espacio en el tope salarial) logra convencerlo de no regresar a Dallas.

Por ahora, esperamos. Quizá hasta que los Cowboys firmen a alguien más. O quizá hasta la llegada del NFL Draft.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Nuevas Contrataciones, ¿Podría Ser Allen Hurns la Siguiente?" 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!

Continue Reading

Reader Survey

Want to help make Inside The Star better?

We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.

> Take the survey now

Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).

Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here