When you take a look at the Dallas Cowboys' offense, the biggest question mark lies at tight end. After last season ended, tight end was considered a major need for this football team. It only made sense, given the unit's limited production in 2018. Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz tried to lead the position, but failed to jump out of the page on an offense that didn't send the ball their way too often.
When Cowboys veteran Jason Witten took us by surprise by announcing his return to the playing field this offseason, many let out a sigh of relief. But has the veteran's return make us overlook Blake Jarwin? Sure, Witten is an absolute legend, but is it fair assuming the starting gig will be exclusive to ol' #82?
Witten, one of the best tight ends in NFL history surely has to be of help. Undoubtedly, he will. His presence alone should benefit a young and talented locker room. However, despite Cowboys Nation's unconditional love for the future Hall of Fame member, Jason Witten's comeback doesn't mean the problems have been solved at tight end.
At this point, we're not even sure what his role on offense will really be. While some are convinced Witten is back to be "The Guy" at tight end, some even question if he'll really be the Cowboys starting tight end. At least, he'll find competition. This year, although Dalton Schultz has potential, Blake Jarwin is the guy who could take snaps away from Witten.
First of all, we need to question what version of Jason Witten will be back? It doesn't matter how much we love him as fans. At 37 years old, Witten's prime has long passed. Before hanging his cleats, his speed was declining. Even when blocking, he was constantly called for offensive penalties. He's always been reliable, but we can't realistically expect him to have anything close to an All-Pro season in 2019.
Until we see him play, we won't be certain about how fast Witten will be on the gridiron. He lost weight, and some reports indicate he's looking quick in camp, but how many optimistic offseason reports do we get every single year all around the league?
But let's talk about his teammate and competition. Blake Jarwin hasn't had enough production to prove he's the guy who should be starting, but the talent and potential is there. I refuse to ignore the fact that in 2018, the ball went to Jarwin more than five times in only three games. In said games (which all happened toward the end of the season), Jarwin had strong performances. He'd go for 56, 45 and 119 yards in those occasions, including a three TD performance in New York against the Giants to close the regular season.
In the 2019 preseason opener versus the San Francisco 49ers, Jarwin did a good job of getting noticed. He caught four passes for 51 yards as he averaged 12.75 yards per reception.
In the passing game, Blake Jarwin has proven he has potential that must be explored by the Cowboys offensive staff. Handing the starting job to Jason Witten without sharing a significant amount of snaps would be a mistake by the Cowboys.
There might be one thing holding Jarwin's potential to start back, though. His blocking. His struggles in this important area of the game are nothing new, and it's a concern that it hasn't really improved.
"I am just not seeing enough movement from Blake Jarwin or Dalton Schultz at this point. There were several running plays where they were trying to get the ball to the front side and there just wasn’t enough push on the edge." - Bryan Broaddus on Cowboys tight ends.
Jason Witten is a great player and teammate who means a lot to everyone in the Dallas Cowboys organization, fans included, but once the regular season arrives, the offense should be giving a high amount of snaps to Blake Jarwin, whose skills should at least be explored as the team keeps finding ways to improve on offense. I'm optimistic that Kellen Moore's offense will involve tight ends a lot more than Scott Linehan's.
Taco Charlton Isn’t Going Anywhere After Strong Preseason Week 3
Dallas Cowboys Defensive End Taco Charlton might be turning things around. The former first round draft pick didn't have a great couple of seasons to start his career off, which forced him to be in a battle to earn a spot on the Cowboys 53-man roster this offseason. Three weeks into the preseason, it looks like he's a lock to make the team. In a "Dress Rehearsal" game that went great for the Cowboys, Charlton's performance was among the best players.
A couple of weeks ago, I discussed how the Cowboys' younger defensive ends could force the team to move on from Taco. From Dorance Armstrong to Jalen Jelks, there's a handful of promising players that were participating in a positional battle that one way or another, included Taco Charlton.
However, the Michigan product showed up to play versus the Los Angeles Rams with two passes batted down. Despite making such plays, we still hadn't seen much from him in the pass rush department.
That changed against the Houston Texans last Saturday when he managed to get two sacks (one strip-sack), two forced fumbles and a recovery. This was undoubtedly Taco's best game in his career. He still has a lot to prove, but it was definitely good to see him have a "breakout" preseason game.
With such performance, it doesn't seem like he'll be going anywhere in 2019. Charlton won't be a starter for this team, but he could become a very important rotational piece for Rod Marinelli's defense. He has a great opportunity to find playing time during the first two weeks of the season before Robert Quinn returns from suspension.
One unfortunate note was that in his best game yet, Taco went out injured twice (ankle). The first time he went back to the field to get some more but had to walk off the field for a second time. Hopefully, he's able to play next Thursday but I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't after having a breakout game versus the Texans.
Taco Charlton still has a very long way to justify being a first-round pick, but his play against Houston was a start. It will be very interesting to see how he plays in the 2019 regular season. He'll have to fight for playing time and he'll have to make every snap count to turn his career around.
Cowboys’ Taryn Christion Gets Time at QB; More Coming?
Last night was the first time we've seen Taryn Christion, the Dallas Cowboys' fourth quarterback on the current depth chart, actually playing the position in preseason. Could we see more of Christion at QB in this Thursday's finale, and at what point should Mike White be worried?
Signed just a few days before training camp began, Christion has been tried at running back, receiver, and various special teams units while the Cowboys were in Oxnard. But last week he started getting more time at quarterback, and last night's win over the Houston Texans saw him playing a few drives at QB to close the game out.
Sure, Taryn came in fourth behind White in the rotation. But that Dallas thought to give him reps in that game, the critical dress rehearsal game, is telling.
Jason Garrett doesn't get cute with rotations and playing time. He's old school, and there's meaning in every decision he makes about when and how guys get time in preseason.
Ironically, the decision came following Mike White's best preseason game this year. He went 6-of-9 for 56 yards and a touchdown, plus avoided any sacks or turnovers.
Rather than let White keep building on that, though, Dallas pulled him for Taryn Christion in the 4th quarter. It seemed as if the Cowboys were determined to get him some time at QB.
An even better showcase will come this Thursday night. The Cowboys host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the final preseason game; we know Dak Prescott won't be playing, and the team may even protect Cooper Rush with limited time on the field.
Dallas likely intends to give Christion some significant playing time on Thursday. And to help make that easier, they played him last night to get some of those butterflies out of his system.
No, Taryn Christion probably isn't going to make the 53-man roster. Neither is Mike White, for that matter. It feels like the battle for the number-three QB is more about the practice squad now.
But whatever the case, the battle seems to be heating up. Dallas appears more invested in Christion now as a quarterback than at any other point since he arrived; some added intrigue for Thursday's final preseason game.
HOU 0, DAL 34: Defense Dominates in Dress Rehearsal Game
The Dallas Cowboys couldn't have scripted a better result in tonight's dress rehearsal game against the Houston Texans. All three phases of the game made big plays as they dominated 34 to 0.
The night belonged to the defense as they terrorized Houston's starters and reserves along the offensive line with 8 sacks. Taco Charlton, a former first-round pick turned outcast was the star of the night with 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. In my opinion, if there were any doubts about him making the roster he put them to bed tonight.
Kerry Hyder showed once again why he's one of the smartest free-agent signings of 2019. After being a lost man in the 3-4 defensive scheme with his former team the Lions, he's done a really good job applying pressure even though he hadn't recorded any sacks in the first two preseason games. However, tonight he recorded 2 sacks and reminded everyone of the player who had 8 sacks in 2016.
The young guys weren't to be left out in this defensive clinic. Dorance Armstrong, Trysten Hill, Daniel Wise, and Joe Jackson all had half sacks. Rookie Safety Donovan Wilson had one of the plays of the night with a beautiful interception as he tapped both feet before heading out of bounds. Cornerback C.J. Goodwin, who will probably make the roster on his special teams ability, got in on the interception party himself high pointing a contested pass.
Dak Prescott was only 2 for 5 (11 for 14 in the preseason) but managed to escape what looked like a sure sack and roll to his left and threw a rope to Michael Gallup for a touchdown. The two have shown a lot of growth and chemistry during training camp, something that was missing at times in 2018.
Wide Receiver Devin Smith had 6 receptions for 79 yards while Cedrick Wilson snagged 3 passes on 4 targets. Both receivers are fighting for the final roster spots in the receiver group which they'll have to continue to do next week against the Buccaneers.
Tight End Marcus Lucas had a very solid game with 4 catches for 50 yards. He will definitely be a player to watch in the final preseason game before final cuts are made. Cooper Rush went 15 for 25 and further solidified his position as the primary backup to Prescott. Mike White was also solid going 6 for 9 and tossing a touchdown.
Special teams got in on the action themselves when Linebacker Joe Thomas recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown.
Now the Cowboys have only one more preseason game before the 2019 season begins. All that's left now is figuring out the last few roster spots and staying as healthy as possible. September 8th is right around the corner.
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