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The Dallas Cowboys Off Season Roadmap

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We here at A Cowboy Nation have been asked to participate in a MVN project called Off Season Road Map. The Cowboys Road Map is and has been pretty clear since failing to make the playoffs last year. However this project is focusing on the top three positions of need. As stated here in an earlier post, the needs have not changed!

Tops on the Cowboys agenda (as far as players go) this off-season is a tie! Position 1a I would say is the need for a quality veteran back up quarterback! And do not even try to tell me that we have that with Brooks Bollinger! Do not get me wrong he is a serviceable QB, but in no way shape or form is he a guy that can come in at a moments notice and produce enough to win games. This team needs a guy like Steve Beuerlein was in the 1992 season, backing up Troy Aikman. Now I realize that that may be a tough chore, but they can get better than what we have.

Position 1B is a position that we have been complaining about for years now, at least me anyhow! Safety, now all you dirty Sooners need to just shut up already! This guy is terrible and has been terrible for a looooong time. All he has ever been is a hard hitter. Now notice I said "hard hitter" and not "a great tackler". He has never been worth a crap at tackling, or being able to cover anyone with a number not in the 70's! The only way he ever got any accolades is by laying the thunder on someone, and now he sucks at that too! This team needs a "ball hawking", cover safety, with the ability to TACKLE!

Position 3 is simply this, a run stuffing nose tackle! He would not even have to play in passing situations, just be able to clog the middle! The Ravens, and Giants game taught us some very valuable lessons last year. One Jay Ratliff needs to be a defensive end! That guy is a monster in passing situations, but simply cannot clog up the middle in the running game. This caused the Cowboys depend solely on run support from Pat Watkins, and that is not ever going to work out in your favor. Two, the Cowboys led the league in sacks but think of what kind of mismatches could be created if they could line up D-Ware and Ratt on the same side?

While all three positions are necessities, it will be very difficult for all three to be filled adequately. However at this point any upgrade would be well received!


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5 Comments
  • BTreece

    I’m probably alone in this though, but I disagree with Ratliff being on the same side as Ware, seems both would suffer from too much competition, and it would put extra effort to stop on that side. Ware doesn’t need a great end to help him to be good, he just needs one that can hold a block.
    Ellis and Spencer could use the extra help from the Rat though.
    But I do agree, backup QB, Safety (Biggest need), and NT are needs this year.

  • bags030404

    As much as Ware moves around the likelihood of them both being on the same side for anymore than one play at a time should relieve that competition. Secondly what I was getting to was, that when they did line up that way it forces the offense to make a decision on who to double! As it stands now the only double is going to Ware on the edge and Rat in the middle.

  • BTreece

    That’s a good point. If you can get a good NT in the middle to hold blocks, then you can seriously overload that side with Rat and Ware, and the same basically holds true for James and the others being able to take advantage of the extra attention to Ware.

  • bags030404

    You give yourself soooooo many more options by moving Ratt to DE, no matter which side he is on! With the line the way it stands, the blocking scheme is simple; one guard has to help with Rat, and either your tight end or back has to help with Ware. The problem is that with one being in the middle it gives the offense some maneuverability. With them both on the outside the blocking becomes very thin really fast!

  • BTreece

    It does become thin, I just feat it would constantly leave Rat and Ware fighting through extra blockers. It’s nice for the team since blocking the both of them would open someone else up, but as it stands now, Ware is able to move all around because Rat still requires a guy in the middle to account for him, a guy that can’t help block Ware on the outside.
    I think there are positives and negatives to both sides of this debate. But it all is for nothing if you can’t replace Ratliff in the middle with a solid, hole-stuffing, run-blocking tackle.
    As it stands now, with Rat in the middle, it throws off the gameplan for an offense facing him, because a tackle in the 3-4 isn’t supposed to rush, he’s not figured to be someone you have to block, just someone to deal with long enough to get a back past him.
    Ideally, you’d find another Rat to let Rat move to end, then again, ideally you’d already have two capable ends.

Player News

Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Planning

February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.

DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.

Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.

After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.

There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?

David Moore on Twitter

Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.

For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.

Jess Haynie on Twitter

In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys

What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?

First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.

It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.

It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?" 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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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys OL Fails To Crack NFL.com’s Top 10

Kevin Brady

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Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, offensive line

Often considered a top unit in football, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line seemed to take a step back in 2017. Mostly due to injuries and free agent departures on the left side, the Cowboys were unable to form the same solid unit we have seen in years past.

Despite their struggles, most would still consider them a top 5-10 offensive line in the NFL. At least, that's what I'd expect considering they still feature three All-Pro caliber players upfront.

Matt Harmon of NFL.com put together a list of the top 10 offensive lines in football based on performance in the 2017 season. The list was strictly developed through the use of next gen stats, which defined pressure as "pass-rushing play in which a defender gets within 2 yards of the opposing quarterback at the time of the throw or sack." In addition, "yards gained before close" was taken into account. This metric is meant to measure "the amount of rushing yards a running back gains before opposing defenders come within 1 yard of the player."

After compiling all of these stats, the Cowboys offensive line was left off of the list completely. Maybe even more surprising, however, was that the Philadelphia Eagles' line failed to crack the top ten as well. That's two lines with 3-4 Pro Bowl caliber players each missing the cut.

According to Matt Harmon the Cowboys allowed a pressure on 28.6% of Dak Prescott's dropbacks, 12th highest in the league. Dallas also ranked 20th in the league in YGBC in 2017.

While I do have some issues with the methodology of these statistics, the final result is actually hard to argue with. Down the stretch the Cowboys offense was downright pathetic at times. Regardless of how highly we thought of them prior to the year, the offense didn't perform to their standards, or the standards of a top ten unit.

Heading into 2018, however, I do expect this offensive line to begin to regain form. La'el Collins should continue to improve on the right side, and he is already an adequate starting right tackle regardless. I also expect Dallas to address their left guard spot, potentially within the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.

In the end the success of this line may hinge on the health of Tyron Smith, though. When healthy, Smith is the best left tackle in all of football. But that "when healthy" caveat has certainly hurt the Cowboys offense.

The way the front office handles their offensive line this offseason will play a huge role in the success, or lack thereof, of the Cowboys in 2018.


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Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: CB Bene Benwikere

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: CB Bene Benwikere

After playing sparsely for the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, veteran cornerback Bene Benwikere is set to be an unrestricted free agent. Could he stay in Dallas, or will he have to find work elsewhere?

Dallas was concerned about its CB depth with heavy reliance on young players and Jourdan Lewis barely participating in the offseason. Therefore, the Cowboys traded a sixth-round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for Benwikere just before Week One.

After a stellar rookie season with the Carolina Panthers in 2014, Bene had suffered a steep fall before landing in Cincy. Injuries and poor play got him cut midway through 2016 by the Panthers, and then Benwikere bounced from Miami to Green Bay before finally signing with the Bengals in the 2017 offseason.

Though a few years removed from being an All-Rookie Team standout, Bene Benwikere is still just 26 and may still draw interest from scouts who remember his better days. He is likely counting on that, because the Cowboys' secondary is starting to fill up.

Cowboys 2018 Free Agents: CB Bene Benwikere 1

Dallas Cowboys CB Bene Benwikere (#23)

The Cowboys currently have exciting sophomores Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis expected to start in 2018. Anthony Brown is back for his third season and will be active on game days.

Orlando Scandrick's future is cloudy, but Dallas won't get much cap relief from releasing him this season. They may elect to keep the veteran for one more year, which would all but fill out the CB depth chart.

Even if Scandrick leaves, talk that Dallas may move Byron Jones back to corner from safety would only leave Benwikere in the same disadvantaged position for finding work.

The best chance that Bene Benwikere has to stay with the Cowboys is if new Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard remembers him from 2014. Coaches often feel that can get more out of a player than the last guy, and Richard may see potential in Benwikere that his last few teams couldn't unlock.

Four years ago may be too long, though, and especially with a fresh new crop of young players coming into the league. Especially if they keep Scandrick, Dallas may want to use the rest of their roster spots on younger prospects.

As it stands, Bene Benwikere is unlikely to return to the Cowboys. However, given the flashes of potential he once showed in the NFL, you can't be certain that Dallas won't want to give him one more chance.


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