The Dallas Cowboys are a hard football team to watch right now, particularly on offense. At 1-2 on the 2018 season, it may not be long until the Cowboys are forced to start digging into the problems that have diminished Dallas from an NFC contender in 2016 to relative obscurity this season.
Recognizable faces like Dez Bryant and Jason Witten have been replaced by lesser known counterparts. Yet, if the Cowboys season does indeed go further south with a home loss to the Lions this week, they'll be staring at removing even more familiarity.
Some of the best advice I was ever personally given by a college professor when it came to writing was to "make your subject weird". Being able to take a step back from things assumed to be understood is a great way to discover new ideas and often fix things.
This is exactly what the Cowboys must do with their coaching staff if Quarterback Dak Prescott is going to be the future of the team on offense. The team's current personnel on offense, young and unproven, should not be in the hands of coaches that underachieved with more established talent for years.
Head Coach Jason Garrett wants the right kind of guys to play for the Cowboys, those capable of beating the man across from them. This in and of itself is problematic.
There certainly was a time in recent Cowboys history where an emphasis on character was needed throughout the roster. Garrett provided the stability many had hoped for, and to date the disappointments we never asked for.
Claiming the Cowboys shortcomings as part of a process is fine, but repeating this process with Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan's archaic approach is insane. In a league that rewards progress and favors the bold, the Cowboys are only progressively becoming more dysfunctional.
The Cowboys are second in the NFL in first-down run percentage this season. Although they're averaging a league-high six yards per carry as a team, the Cowboys inability to change their approach on offense has resulted in drives regularly stalling.
Opposing defenses are assured that Prescott cannot beat them at this point, at least in Linehan's offense. Ignore what other dual-threat quarterbacks are doing around the league. Keying on Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys have not established any new receiver on the outside enough to sustain offense with only Elliott.
It was Elliott himself that had to claim responsibility for the team's week three loss in Seattle, turning the game with a costly touchdown-turned-penalty and lost fumble. Yet, if the Cowboys are to take inventory of players and coaches doing their jobs well so far in 2018, Elliott would make the shortlist.
The Cowboys can't get away with this anymore. And they won't.
Excuses are already running thin for the Cowboys under Prescott, who enjoyed one blissful season followed by a barrage of said excuses. Take Elliott's suspension or Tyron Smith's injury and extend it into the offense's ineptitude at full strength this year, and the Cowboys problems are suddenly much deeper.
The innocence of 2016 feels like a decade ago. Jason Garrett playing catch with his third-string quarterback in hopes that his career could someday be tied to Prescott like it was Tony Romo have turned into a separation of interests from both fronts. Garrett going on record to defend Linehan doesn't make sense, and there's nothing anybody at The Star can tell you to make it sensible.
Factor in a quarterback that requires a near perfect environment to succeed, and the Cowboys become a rudderless ship leading the way in revenue and merchandise sales, something that undoubtedly keeps the ship afloat.
Quarterback. Head Coach. Offensive Coordinator. These are three of the most important people in team's buildings currently, and the Cowboys are staring at a needed change potentially across the board.
If the Cowboys have been anything in the past few seasons, it is cautious. Making a reckless move like benching Prescott is improbable. Such a decision would have to come down from two coaches that have over stayed their welcome anyway.
This is Track 09 of the Who's album - Who's next. First recorded (then rejected) in New York on March 16, 1971, this became the first song to be worked on with Glyn Johns during a trial session at Stargroves with The Rolling Stones Mobile studio in April, 1971.
The Cowboys aren't fooling anyone with their approach to
winning losing football anymore. As early as week four, the team may be faced with the realization that the NFC East is slipping away. At no point this season have the Cowboys looked like a team deserving of a playoff spot, something of a potential savior for a coaching staff that's attempting to usher in a new era of Cowboys football - with nothing but blunders on their record.
"The change it had to come, we knew it all along..."
How The Tables Have Turned for 2019 Dallas Cowboys
The 2018 season was a two-part tale for the Dallas Cowboys. The first is the story of a mediocre 3-5 team that couldn't get it going offensively. The second part is about a football team that turned its season around, made the playoffs, got a win in the postseason and ultimately lost to the team that ended up representing the NFC in Super Bowl LIII, the Los Angeles Rams.
Surely, 2018 didn't go as planned. The storylines leading to last season are actually very different from the ones we're hearing today. Let's take a look at a few examples of how the tables have turned for the Dallas Cowboys.
The need for a true WR1
Last season, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys preached the philosophy of not needing a #1 wide receiver. While that could've sound encouraging at the time, once the season began the team was proven wrong. They did need a WR1. Fortunately, this season we won't have to worry about it. This year, Dez Bryant shouldn't be a discussion topic among Cowboys' fans.
Amari Cooper is in the house. And he's been pretty good since he started playing with a Star on his helmet. If we have conversations about the WR position, they will not be about who's the #1 guy. With Michael Gallup showing up late in the season, it probably won't be about who is #2 either.
Back on top of the NFC East
Last year, the Dallas Cowboys were not really the favorites to win the NFC East. The Philadelphia Eagles had just made history by winning their first Super Bowl ever and it seemed like the Cowboys would have to get a wildcard spot to play in January. Now it's the Cowboys back on top after sweeping the Eagles and turning their once 3-5 season around.
That of course, means a tougher schedule next season. However, it's nice to be back on top of the division. These two teams will surely have an intense race for the division title next season. Maybe we even see them both in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Sean Lee's uncertain future
I'm pretty sure no one expected Sean Lee to be considered a potential cap casualty for the 2019 season. Even if he was, it would've probably been anticipating an injury or something like that. No one would've imagined that Leighton Vander Esch would be so good to take Sean Lee's job.
The Cowboys' first round rookie truly earned the starting role as the defense's weak linebacker and he should keep it. With Sean Lee set to return to the field, I'm sure we didn't expect him to be a backup by now. We'll have to wait and see if the Cowboys decide to part ways with him. As a fan, it would certainly be painful. But we can't deny it would be a move that makes sense.
It's a crazy franchise on a crazy league. Who knows how things will go from now on, but the Dallas Cowboys certainly look like a promising team heading into the 2019 offseason. Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue to update you with the latest on your favorite NFL team.
Cowboys en Español: Volviendo a la Idea de Earl Thomas
El año pasado, Earl Thomas fue uno de los temas de conversación más frecuentes para los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys. Después de que los Seattle Seahawks no le dieran su deseada extensión de contrato, Thomas se convirtió en un candidato a ser intercambiado de su equipo. Entre los favoritos estaban los Cowboys, quienes tenían una necesidad en su defensiva secundaria. Ahora que la temporada 2018 llegó a su fin, la misma necesidad por un safety de calidad está presente en Dallas.
Sólo que en esta ocasión, Earl Thomas no está bajo contrato con ningún equipo. Su último momento con el uniforme de los Seahawks fue en un carro de lesiones, donde salía lesionado en dirección a su vestidor. Esto mientras se despedía de su equipo con el dedo de en medio extendido hacia sus entrenadores y compañeros. Así concluyó su temporada y su carrera en Seattle.
Ahora, listo para cumplir los 30 años en mayo, Earl Thomas probará la agencia libre cuando comience en marzo. Y sin lugar a dudas, uno de los equipos candidatos a firmarlo serán los Dallas Cowboys. Es un equipo que a pesar de tener una de las mejores defensivas la temporada pasada, se vería muy beneficiada con la llegada de un profundo del calibre de Thomas.
A pesar de su edad y las lesiones, Thomas continúa siendo uno de los mejores en la liga. Su talento es innegable y tendrá toda la disposición de demostrar lo que vale cuando tome el campo la próxima temporada. Cuando llegue el momento, podríamos ver una guerra de ofertas entre varios equipos de la NFL para llevarse al veterano a sus respectivas ciudades.
La pregunta es: ¿estarán los Dallas Cowboys en esa guerra de ofertas?
Los Cowboys tienen espacio en el tope salarial. Sin embargo, este no durará mucho considerando que DeMarcus Lawrence está esperando su merecida y cara extensión después de jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia en 2018. Además, jugadores que aún están bajo contrato también estarán buscando ofertas este offseason.
Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, y Byron Jones están en la lista de quehaceres de la administración. Eso sin mencionar a Cole Beasley, cuyo contrato ya expiró y podría llegar a la agencia libre en marzo.
A pesar de esta complicada situación, los Dallas Cowboys deberían buscar conseguir a Thomas. Siendo sinceros, la defensiva tiene mucho talento y podría mantener su nivel en 2019. Pero hace falta un jugador en la posición de safety para llevar a esta unidad a otro nivel. Un nivel realmente capaz de ganar en postemporada enfrentándose a cualquier tipo de ofensiva. Sin importar que tan explosiva sea. Y además de esto, un jugador que sea capaz de robar el balón y hacer jugadas de impacto constantemente.
Cuando los Cowboys se enfrentaron a Seahawks en temporada regular, Thomas dio un buen ejemplo de esto interceptando en dos ocasiones a la ofensiva de Dak Prescott.
A pasos de un equipo de campeonato, un movimiento agresivo para obtener a Earl Thomas sería algo genial para Dallas. Vimos como los Rams de Los Angeles fueron agresivos al construir su equipo y llegaron hasta el Super Bowl este febrero. Quizá es tiempo de que Jerry Jones y compañía sean igual de agresivos y vayan por ese safety elite que la afición lleva pidiendo desde el offseason del año pasado.
Slot Machine: Amari Cooper in the Slot Could be Even More Dangerous
Amari Cooper was a dangerous man with the Dallas Cowboys after he arrived via trade from the Oakland Raiders last season. He was one of the big reasons why they were able to turn around a season that looked as if it was circling the drain and I don't think anybody would argue the point. But, I think he could be even more dangerous in 2019, especially if Cole Beasley departs via free agency.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you pretty much know the topic of the Cowboys offseason so far has centered around Cole Beasley and his future with the organization. He has been invaluable in Dallas since arriving as an undrafted free agent in 2012, but it's looking more and more as if he could be taking his talents elsewhere in 2019.
With Beasley more than likely moving on, the Cowboys will need to find someone who can replace his production in the passing game, especially in the slot. Everybody assumes Dallas needs to go outside the organization to find that player, but I'm not so sure. I think they already have a wide receiver more than capable of stepping in, and he just so happens to be there first-round draft pick this year.
In case you haven't figured it out already, I'm talking about Wide Receiver Amari Cooper. He has mostly been used as an outside receiver in his professional career, but he does have the skill set and route running ability to be a really dangerous out of the slot. I'm not talking about a full-time move into the slot or anything, just a marginal increase in snaps.
According to Rotounderworld.com, only 12.6% of Amari Cooper's snaps in 2018 were out of the slot. For comparison sake, Cole Beasley's snaps in the slot was 85.9%, the highest of any receiver in the NFL last season. That's a huge difference, not one the Cowboys should try to match with Cooper or any other potential slot WR replacement.
Personally, I'd like to see Cooper's snaps playing out of the slot increased to around 20%. That would put him in Odell Beckham Jr. territory (19.9%), and we all know how difficult he is to cover all over the field. It would likely do the same for Amari Cooper.
I just really like the idea of him having the entire field to work with and the favorable matchup it creates with slot/nickel cornerbacks around the league. Can you imagine opposing defensive coordinators trying to figure out how to contain a player that has the kind of speed and route running ability that Amari Cooper has? They better stock up on Tylenol, because that is a surefire way to get a headache.
This is course is just speculation at this point, especially since we don't know what the Cowboys offense will look like with Kellen Moore taking over the playcalling duties. But if it was me, I'd be doing everything in my power to get the ball in the hands of my best WR, Amari Cooper, and that might mean increasing his snaps out of the slot.
What do you think about using Amari Cooper out of the slot more often in 2019?
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