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The Future of the Dallas Cowboys Offense

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220px-Coach_Jason_GarrettJason Garrett and Bill Callahan have rightfully been scrutinized for highly questionable play calling and game management as, among other things, the late game collapses and abandonment of the run may have cost the Dallas Cowboys a spot in the playoffs. Even though this is inexcusable they and general manager Jerry Jones have the offense going in the right direction. With the pieces that are currently in place the Dallas Cowboys offense has an opportunity to be the best that it has been since Tony Romo took over as quarterback. While the Cowboys' window of success is being questioned with aging stars clearly on the decline, it is the new young and talented players that are taking over and should make the last years of Tony Romo's career his best.

Dez Bryant was suspended during his final year at Oklahoma State, and with great uncertainty regarding his off field behavior he managed to drop to 24th when the Dallas Cowboys drafted him. Early on in his career he didn't help his reputation as he continued to find himself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. After some time to mature Dez Bryant has proven that the Cowboys absolutely made the right decision in drafting him. He has posted back to back 90+ receptions 1200+ yards and 12+ touchdown seasons. He has become one of the biggest wide out threats in the NFL and, especially this season, has emerged as an emotional leader of the Dallas Cowboys. With his 67 first downs only 3 behind the league leader in Brandon Marshall Dez Bryant is as reliable as he is talented. Dez Bryant's emotional outburst on the sideline will always be criticized by those too proud to admit he's proving his doubters wrong but it is that same passion that makes him one of the most dominant players in the league.

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailAs great as Dez Bryant is, he can not do it all himself, and in the Cowboys offense he does not have to. It's almost a foregone conclusion that Miles Austin will be released for the salary cap benefits but there's another young receiver on the team that has looked like he is more than capable of taking over as the number two to compliment Bryant. Terrance Williams finished the year with 736 yards and 5 touchdowns. While those numbers are not eye popping they are formidable for a rookie wide out and with Miles Austin out of the picture he will have plenty of opportunities to pad his stats. With 12 receptions of 20+ yards maybe the most impressive stat for Williams this season is his 9.9 yards per target. On that pace all he would need is 27 of Miles Austin's 49 targets and Dez Bryant is teamed up with another 1000 yard receiver. Given that the Broncos and the Bears are the only teams to have a a tandem of wide outs to break 1000 yards, the Cowboys receiving core could be in elite territory. Without Miles Austin the only question would be depth. Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris were a nice surprise this year but if Williams or Bryant fall due to injury, neither one of them have proven that they can be a reliable number two.

Fortunately the Cowboys have one of the most reliable security blankets of all time to fall back on if necessary. Jason Witten is aging but after exceeding 800 yards and finding the end zone 8 times the end is not near. Even if the end is near the Cowboys have already found his replacement. While Escobar's under usage this season infuriated many considering his was drafted in the second round, his talent can not be denied. Climaxing with his incredible flip into the end zone against the Eagles, Escobar has assured Cowboys nation that tight end will be a position of strength for years to come.

NS_22MOORECOL20GM_33340240-620x428The best part of the Cowboys receiving core is, that aside from Jason Witten, Dez Bryant at 25 years of age is the oldest of the bunch. At 33 years old the Cowboys have given Romo one of the best receiving cores in the NFL for the remainder of his career. This passing game alone is enough to make the Cowboys an offensive force to be reckoned with, and yet it may not even be the best unit on the offense.

Bill Callahan, whose been raked over the coals for his job as offensive coordinator, has also coached one of the better offensive lines in the NFL. It's easy to see why Dez Bryant is considered the most talented player on the Dallas Cowboys, but Tyron Smith had a breakout year and may not only have passed Bryant as the best player on the Cowboys but is one of the best in the league. Tyron Smith ended his pro bowl season giving up 1.5 sacks along with 4 penalties (3 false starts and 1 holding). These are impressive stats for any position on the offensive line, but considering he is constantly forced to block the opposing teams top pass rusher at the left tackle position he ended up being the Cowboys most impressive player this season. The best part, Tyron Smith is 23 years old and is in a position to be one of the leagues best left tackles for many years to come. Tony Romo now has a flurry of young talented receivers to throw to with a young offensive line to give him all the time he needs to get them the ball.

When Waters went down with a season ending injury, it was uncertain how the Cowboys offensive line would hold up. By season's end the were the 4th best run blocking unit in the NFL with an adjusted yard line of 4.23. Where Tyron Smith dominated in pass protection, first round draft pick Travis Fredrick managed to match his success in the run game. Pro Football Focus had Fredrick as the third runner up as the offensive rookie of the year and they gave him the second best run blocking grade of all centers in the league, making him more than worth the first round draft pick spent on him.

7320718_origIf Tony Romo and the passing game has an off night, DeMarco Murray has shown the team that i he has the ability to take over the game himself. Running behind Fredrick Murray ranked 3rd in the NFL with 5.2 yards per carry behind only Donald Brown and Andre Ellington, who had almost half as many carries as Murray. When Murray knocked  293 pound Damion Square off his feet in the finale against the Eagles he ensured that no one could ever doubt his toughness and strength. Tie that in with 8 carries of 20+ yards, which was 2 less than the league lead, and Murray becomes one of the more dynamic running backs in the league. At 25 years of age the only issue that can be found with Murray is his health, as he continues to play less than 16 games a season. Fortunately, the Cowboys have an insurance policy in Lance Dunbar. Dunbar also fell to injury and only had 30 carries, but his 5.0 yards per carry and explosiveness on the field gives the Cowboys all they could ask for in the back field.

The Cowboys have the talent to dominate passing the game and running the game and the offensive line to give the protection that is needed for both. The Cowboys youth on offense means that this is an offense as a whole that is poised to be one of the best in the league for years to come. Tony Romo has been a part of a lot of great offensive units in his career and the players surrounding him now could prove to be the best he's ever had. The most exciting part of it all is, given their ages, this is an offense that should continue to get better.



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Tony Pollard is Just What the Doctor Ordered in Dallas

Matthew Lenix

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Tony Pollard is Just What the Doctor Ordered in Dallas

The Dallas Cowboys have what many believe to be the best running back in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott. However, you can never undervalue the importance of depth at any position. When the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft came around, the Cowboys added another weapon to the backfield by selecting Tony Pollard out of Memphis.

If you’re looking for a dynamic player maker with the ability to take it to the house at any given moment, Pollard is your man. The former Tiger averaged a touchdown every 13 touches in college. That’s an absolutely insane statistic when you think about it. He also tied an NCAA record with seven kick returns for touchdowns. Long story short, he can get you six points at the blink of an eye.

The versatility in his game is outrageous and undoubtedly the reason why he was drafted. In addition to running for 941 yards on 6.8 yards per rush, he also had 104 receptions for 1,292 yards. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has to be salivating about the possibilities with his new toy. Having a running back that can not only carry the load as a runner but also line up at receiver keeps the defense honest. You never know what angle the offense is going to come from.

This has to be a sigh of relief for Ezekiel Elliott. Now, the Cowboys don’t have to overexert him and can bring Pollard in on third downs if need be. Not just to give Elliott a breather but to change the pace of the offensive attack. You can hand the ball off, throw it to him or run jet sweeps when he is on the field. This sets up a potential combo at running back that could be the leagues very best shortly.

Speed, quickness, and agility are all wrapped up in the Tony Pollard package. The Cowboys now have a running back that can line up at multiple positions if need be. Also, this prevents a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on the body of Ezekiel Elliott. This combination has all the potential to set the NFL on fire in 2019.



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CB Byron Jones Not Expected To Return Until Week 1 Against NYG

Kevin Brady

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Byron Jones

Coming off what was clearly the best season of his career thus far, Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones underwent surgery to hopefully fix a nagging hip injury.

While he earned both his first All Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2018, his first season as a full-time cornerback, Jones still has a lot to prove in the upcoming season. Some still criticize him for his lack of interceptions, and there's no doubt his stellar play slowed down a bit towards the end of the year.

I'm willing to wager that the slight decline had a lot to do with his hip troubles, but nonetheless he must come up with his elite level play once again to earn himself a nice contract somewhere in 2020.

Oh, did I forget to mention it's also a contract year for Byron Jones? As it is for so many important Dallas Cowboys, it seems.

So when will Byron Jones be able to return to the Cowboys' lineup? Well, the initial date reportedly set by Jones and the team was late July, giving him a chance to practice and play a bit before the season opener in September. But, according to the Team Site this week, that date may be pushed back a bit, and we might not see Byron Jones until that season opening game against the Giants.

"As for Jones, all along the Cowboys have been targeting his return for the season opener, but hopefully at that. So, don’t expect to see much of Jones in training camp, and if so, certainly no more than individual and walk-through drills." - Mickey Spagnola

Ultimately, as long as Byron Jones is good to go when the regular season starts, that's all that matters, but the fear of rust when Jones returns is a real one.

It's tough to go from no live football straight to the meaningful games, but if anyone would be able to do it it would be the guy with the freakishly athletic traits. The guy who can get out of the bed in the morning and set athletic records at the Combine.

And, of course, that guy is Byron Jones.



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Dak Prescott: Calm Under Pressure

Matthew Lenix

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Dak Prescott: Calm Under Pressure

When the 2016 NFL Draft came around the Dallas Cowboys were in search of the heir apparent to Tony Romo. Unfortunately, coming off an injury-plagued 2015 season, Romo would find himself on the shelf again after suffering a broken bone in his back during a preseason game against the Seahawks. However, the Cowboys had an ace in the hole, in the form of Dak Prescott who they drafted in the fourth round.

The idea was the groom him for a few years before taking the keys to the car so to speak from Romo, but fate had another idea in mind. Prescott would be thrust into the starting lineup against one of the Cowboys most hated rivals to start the season, the New York Giants. Added to that, was the pressure of living up to Romo's stellar resume as the franchise's all-time leading passer. After struggling in a tough 20-19 loss, no surprise there for a rookie quarterback, Prescott began to take flight.

Over the next eleven games he wouldn't suffer a single loss as the Cowboys were sitting pretty at 11-1. What made this streak more impressive was the efficiency of Prescott. He threw 19 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions over that span. In the process, he set an NFL record for the most passing attempts to start a career without an interception with 176. This broke the previous record held by Tom Brady of 162. It didn't stop there, as he also set a rookie record for completion percentage (67.8), was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and was selected to the Pro Bowl.

The Cowboys would finish 13-3 and win the NFC East. With home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and the franchise only winning two postseason games in 21 years, Prescott was definitely under the microscope. After the offense struggled to produce points in the first half and fell behind 21-3, Prescott lead a furious comeback. Helping the team storm all the way back to tie the game at 28 and again at 31. He finished with 302 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first playoff start against future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. Even though the team lost 34-31, Prescott proved how much of a gamer he was as he basically went yard for yard and point for point with one of the NFL's elite signal-callers. It was clear the Cowboys were in good hands going forward.

2017 started off well as the Cowboys were 5-3 and firmly on pace for another playoff run. Unfortunately, All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott lost his fierce battle with the NFL over domestic violence allegations, and Dak along with the offense struggled. After a 9-7 season and falling one game short of a Wild Card berth, the pressure on Prescott heading into the next season was immense.

Once 2018 came about Prescott had more pressure than ever with Elliott back for a full season. After a slow 3-4 start the Cowboys traded for Pro-Bowl Wide Receiver Amari Cooper, providing the team with it's first true number one receiver since Dez Bryant. Putting even more expectations on Prescott to turn things around, and boy did he ever.

He would complete 71.6% of his passes in the final eight games of the season, and the Cowboys won seven to finish 10-6. Now, with another division title under his belt, came a playoff matchup with Super Bowl-winning Quarterback Russell Wilson.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys were hanging on to a 17-14 lead. They faced a 3rd and 14 inside the redone with just over two minutes left. After dropping back a few steps, Prescott scrambled for 16 yards setting up a first and goal from the one-yard line. The team held on for a 24-22 victory but here's why that scramble was so important.

If the Cowboys don't convert that 3rd and long that would've set up a field goal attempt. Assuming it would have been successful, that would've only put them up 20-14. Giving Seattle a chance to more than likely win with a touchdown and an extra point or two-point conversion. Prescott essentially won the game with that 3rd down run. Proving once again there's no situation he can't handle.

He's set an NFL record for completion percentage in the first three years of a quarterbacks career at 66.1 percent. No quarterback has won more games than him since 2016 except Tom Brady. No one has more game-winning drives than him since he entered the league. His 13 primetime victories are tops in the NFL over the last three seasons. Simply put, Dak Prescott is a winner and doesn't fold under pressure, instead, he embraces it. There are no bigger lights in the NFL than the ones that shine in Dallas. With those lights come huge expectations and pressure, and it's clear this young man is made of the right stuff to handle it.



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