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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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2 Comments
  • footballmensa

    The consternation about the offense is a direct result of coaching. Whoever is calling the plays needs to learn when to run and when to pass. Dallas has lot of pieces to work with but doesn’t know how to best use those pieces to dictate to an opposing defense.

  • Keith A. King

    Bryant had the best season of his young career last year, catching 92 passes for 1,382 and 12 touchdowns. He finished 6th in the entire NFL in receiving yards, tied for 10th in receptions, and finished 3rd in touchdowns. His 12 touchdowns were more than fellow NFC wide receivers Brandon Marshall, Marques Colston, Victor Cruz, Julio Jones, Larry Fitzgerald and Vincent Jackson. Marshall, Cruz, Jones, Fitzgerald and Jackson made the Pro Bowl.

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Was Sunday A “Wake Up Call,” Or Were Cowboys Exposed?

Kevin Brady

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Was Sunday A "Wake Up Call," Or A Flashback To Reality?

Entering last Sunday's game in Indianapolis, the Dallas Cowboys were riding high. Having won five straight games, including key victories over the top seeded Saints and division rival Eagles, everything seemed to be breaking right for the Cowboys heading into the home stretch.

Their defense was playing like one of the best in football, and after firing Paul Alexander and trading for Amari Cooper their offense was clicking just as they'd hoped. They needed (and still need) just one win to officially close out the division and clinch a home playoff game in January.

Instead, the Cowboys got absolutely demolished by the Indianapolis Colts. Of course, there's no shame in losing a road game to an 8-6 team in the NFL, but the way in which they lost certainly deserves some shame. Not even the 23-0 score can encapsulate the complete butt-kicking Dallas received at the hands of the Colts, and it was the type of loss that can sometimes make you question the blueprint.

The Cowboys, however, are not looking at it that way. Multiple leaders in the locker room have spoke this week about how they "needed" to lose like that. Running back Ezekiel Elliott called the loss embarrassing, but also said it is better for Dallas in the "grand scheme of the season."

Clearly, the leaders and coaches are calling the putrid performance a wake up call, something that will galvanize them and reset their win streak heading into the postseason. But is this really the case, or was the shutout defeat more of a sign of things to come?

Obviously it's too early to say for sure, but I do think it can be a little bit of both.

No, the Cowboys are not the class of the NFC, despite beating what can be called the best team in the same conference a couple weeks ago. There probably will prove to be some drop-off from the top 3 seeds in the conference and the Cowboys, if for no other reason than Dallas will have to go on the road to play those teams in the playoffs. It's really hard to win on the road in the NFL, especially with the increased wackiness of 2018.

The Cowboys offense is far from perfect or prolific, though if clicking they now have the skill talent to drop 30+ points any given Sunday. Their defense is talented, has a high ceiling, but is still very young and inexperienced. Though they've played elite level games before, they've also had some stinkers against the Colts and Titans during the same season.

All of this can be true. The Cowboys can be a team deserving of the playoffs, a team we should not be panicking over, but still a very flawed football team. They can be a team that if "hot" could make a run through the postseason, but also will have to answer some tough questions about coaches and players during the next two offseasons.

After all, who isn't greatly flawed in today's NFL? Hell, we just saw the beloved Rams lose two straight games.



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Is it Too Late For Dallas to Fire OC Scott Linehan?

Brian Martin

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Scott Linehan

Grab your pitchforks and your torches, it's time to run the Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan out of town. His playcalling has been absolutely atrocious season and it's time for him to hit the road, even if there are only two regular-season games left on the schedule.

It's completely unorthodox for an NFL team to fire an offensive coordinator this late in the season, but just last week we saw the Minnesota Vikings do just that when they parted ways with John DeFilippo. It was definitely a bold move to make considering the Vikings are still in playoff contention, but it was something they believed was in the best interest of their team.

I believe if the Dallas Cowboys want to do what's best for their team right now and not later, then they should go ahead and cut ties with Scott Linehan. His predictability and un-creativeness as a play caller is holding back a talented offense, which is hurting the overall team as a result. He's been given every opportunity to turn things around, but enough is enough.

I'd personally be on board with Jason Garrett taking over the playcalling duties. He has the experience and held the position with the Cowboys from 2007 until Linehan was hired. I'd even consider giving Kellen Moore a shot as the OC. He knows the system and has worked closely with Quarterback Dak Prescott. Regardless, the Cowboys need to find some way to increase their offensive productivity.

Kellen Moore

Dallas Cowboys QB Coach Kellen Moore

Right now the Cowboys offense is the 26th scoring offense in the NFL and are averaging just 19.7 points per game. To make matters worse they are the 31st ranked Red Zone offense in the league. I don't know about you, but I think that is completely unacceptable with the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball.

Firing Linehan has been a long time coming. The Cowboys flirted with the idea earlier this season during the bye week and should've pulled the trigger then, but for some reason or another decided to let him stick around. They are definitely still paying for that mistake now.

The Cowboys mistake not to replace Linehan could mean yet another early exit in the playoffs, something we have unfortunately become accustomed to. Scoring just 19 points a game isn't going to get them very far, which is truly unfortunate considering the talent they've acquired this season.

Unfortunately, as much as we would love to see Scott Linehan tarred and feathered and run out of town, I just don't see the Cowboys doing that before their season is officially over. But, in no way should he be allowed to retain his position beyond this season. He clearly isn't the answer any longer.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should fire Scott Linehan?



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Despite Embarrassing Showing, Health Remains Biggest Cowboys Concern

Kevin Brady

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Zack Martin

What is it about the AFC South with these Dallas Cowboys?

Dallas' five game winning streak came to a close on Sunday, as they got straight-up embarrassed by the now 8-6 Indianapolis Colts on the road. The loss was the first since the Cowboys were embarrassed by a different AFC South competitor, the Tennessee Titans, on Monday night football earlier this season.

Though the final was 23-0, and not a single phase (or really even a single player) showed much fight or promise, the biggest concern I have for the Cowboys moving forward didn't change because of the putrid performance. It didn't change because the defense was gashed play after play or the offense failed to finish a single drive. And it didn't even change because both the Redskins and Eagles secured season-saving victories on the same day Dallas was dismantled.

The biggest concern is still their health, particularly across the offensive line.

That was not a playoff caliber interior offensive line the Cowboys put out their on Sunday. Not even close.

With their backup center in Joe Looney, backup guard in Connor Williams, and the very last interior offensive linemen on their roster in Adam Redmond playing for basically the entire game, this offense never had a chance. Dak Prescott wasn't any more inaccurate or indecisive than normal, but all those who like to scream "step up in the pocket" whenever he is sacked did not seem to have an argument this week.

There often was no pocket to step into, as those interior three, specifically Looney and Redmond, failed to provide much protection or confidence for Prescott at all. Joe Looney has actually been rather solid this season, but Sunday felt like one of his worst games of the entire year.

The Cowboys absolutely need Zack Martin to get healthy if they are to make any noise whatsoever in the postseason. At the very least, the need Xavier Su'a-Filo to come back and replace Redmond, and regain the form he displayed during his debut against the Eagles back in November.

Prescott already has issues with his pocket presence and footwork when pressured, so throwing three backup-level linemen right in front of him is not a recipe for success for the Cowboys.

I'm not jumping out of the window over this loss, and I don't think any of you should be either. Dallas had won three straight incredibly emotional and important home games to extend, save, and solidify their season respectively before this loss. They had also just about clinched the NFC East a week ago with their win over Philadelphia, and they played like a team that was due a flat performance

A letdown loss on the road, against a good team I might add, is not the end of the world. The bigger issue here is their health, because if Martin can return to anchor this offensive line, the offense should look a whole lot better than they did against Indianapolis.

It's time to move on from Sunday, go beat Tampa Bay, officially clinch the division, and get ready for Wild Card Weekend.



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