My parents always taught me growing up, and as adult it's been reinforced, that actions have consequences. Some are positive and some are negative and some are unintended or even unforeseen. The release of Dez Bryant has created a ripple effect throughout the Dallas Cowboys organization that has consequences, both positive and negative, intended and unintended.
I don't want to spend a lot of time rehashing what has been discussed at length about the positive or negative aspects of the Dez release. I want to focus on the unintended consequences of releasing Dez Bryant.
Inside The Star has covered all the angles of Dez Bryant's release, you can catch up below.
✭ Here's what Sean Martin had to say about Dez's departure and who the "Garrett Guys" are.
✭ Junior Writer Mauricio Rodriguez had a nice farewell for Dez Bryant.
✭ Kevin Brady began the debate on whether 88 belongs in the Ring of Honor or not.
With Dez Bryant's release, they've backed themselves into a bit of corner when it comes to the NFL Draft aspect of player acquisition, which is unlike them.
Where they usually go into a draft pretty fairly settled on the roster with free agent signings filling their biggest needs, releasing Dez Bryant has left them vulnerable at wide receiver.
WR Depth Chart Effect
The Dallas Cowboys created another urgent need -- left guard being the other -- on the offensive side of the ball, at wide receiver. Many would argue it was already a serious need on the roster, but given the reaction by most of Cowboys Nation, it's hard to believe all that many people thought WR was a need for the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.
Allen Hurns is your top receiver on the roster. All due respect to Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley, but anyone who could have a 1,000-yard-receiving season with Blake Bortles throwing the ball, along with another 1,000-yard-receiver on the other side, has to have some real talent.
He's not the athletic specimen that Dez Bryant is, but he does run routes a bit better and works the middle of the field very well. As NFL teams attempt to get bigger receivers working the slot -- see Michael Thomas in New Orleans, Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona -- Hurns has the size to be able to work the middle of the field.
This is what Bob Sturm of 1310 The Ticket and The Athletic DFW had to say about Allen Hurns and how he might differ from Dez a bit.
"Allen Hurns is very comfortable running out of the slot. Only 14 players took a higher percentage of their snaps there – Cole Beasley being one of them. But, as you can see, he is nothing like Dez in this respect. Many think that Dez should spend more time there, but the more you watch him there, the more you wonder if he has the desire to spend more time with the Linebackers and other big hitters."
Bob Sturm, 1310 The Ticket and The Athletic DFW
While I like the Hurns signing, I liked it a lot more when he wasn't the top dog on the depth chart.
Last season, teams began to take away Dak Prescott's favorite target in Cole Beasley. With a threat on the outside like Dez Bryant gone, Beasley could be affected even more as teams force Dak and the Dallas Cowboys to try to beat them vertically. Something that has been an inconsistent aspect of their game as a football team.
Terrance Williams and Deonte Thompson can help you, but they haven't been consistent enough in their careers to believe they can take on the targets voided by 88.
Ryan Switzer and Noah Brown are young second-year players who have some nice tools, but they're still inexperienced on the offensive side of things in the NFL. They didn't get enough run as rookies to prove that they could step in and fill the sizable void left by Dez Bryant.
As I mentioned in my recent 53-man roster outlook, Will McClay, the front office, and the coaching staff shouldn't be satisfied with the current group of receivers they have and they probably aren't. That means a top-100 pick will have to be spent on a WR, and it will likely be either 19 or 50.
The NFL Draft
The Dallas Cowboys have been meeting with wide receivers throughout the draft process. Calvin Ridley, Courtland Sutton, and most recently DJ Chark, but I've contended that the position didn't need a top-100 addition in 2018.
Then they released Dez Bryant. Wide receiver must now be in consideration at pick #19.
There's no telling who the team likes more, but we know that Calvin Ridley, Courtland Sutton, and DJ Moore are on their radar as players to add to the wide receiver depth chart. The problem that arises is, now instead of allocating pick 19 to a guard, linebacker, DT, or EDGE, the team has to seriously consider WR.
They have to come away with a plug-and-play guard in the top-100 picks, and according to most there are only four of those (Quentin Nelson, Isaiah Wynn, Will Hernandez, James Daniels), who all figure to be drafted in the first round.
Need or Best Player
Many among you will argue this shouldn't change anything in regards to the Dallas Cowboys' approach to the draft. This is the part of the story where I remind us all that there's a balance in drafting for need and drafting the best player available. You have to take both things into account.
If Saquon Barkley is on the board at #19 and there are no trade-back options, they shouldn't take Barkley just because he is the best player available. While it would be fun to scheme Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield together, it would be a waste of resources at a position that has been generally losing value over the last decade.
Also, we don't want to see the team reach on a player like Rashaan Evans just because he fits a position where the Dallas Cowboys certainly have a need.
The struggle is, that before the release of Dez Bryant, the team, in my opinion, didn't have a need at WR. They had set themselves up to target other positions with premium picks, but now have left themselves vulnerable.
The strong possibility now exists that they have to go with a guard and wide receiver in two of their first three picks. That's not necessarily a bad thing because it helps make the offense better for 2018 and beyond.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
The team made a tough decision on a player who was beloved, which they probably wouldn't have made 10 years ago. The front office has really begun to transition to the next era of Dallas Cowboys football led by Dak Prescott, the offensive line, Ezekiel Elliott, DeMarcus Lawrence, and the defensive backfield.
It's a new era in Dallas. Let's hope it gets closer to Lombardi number six than the last era did.
Cowboys Interest in Raiders WR Amari Cooper Increases Ahead of Trade Deadline
This week, Stephen Jones discussed the difficulties of making a trade, saying "it just seems like in the NFL trades are hard to make, to make it all come together for two teams".
The two teams that could be lining up to change that are of course Jones' Cowboys as well as John Gruden's Oakland Raiders. Yet another Raiders player has been in the headlines as a trade target, 24-year old Wide Receiver Amari Cooper.
WR-needy Cowboys doing their due diligence on Raiders' WR Amari Cooper: https://t.co/pE2wmrzCXu
Playing at the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the Cowboys will have yet another reshuffled lineup at wide receiver, playing without Tavon Austin. Their biggest offseason addition to this unit was Allen Hurns, and he's been underwhelming with just eight catches.
Thus the Cowboys are reportedly doing their "due diligence" on Cooper, sensing the need for a mid-season acquisition at WR for the right price. The Cowboys ability to potentially find that price in a deal advantageous to them, given how the Raiders handled the departure of Khalil Mack in a trade to this Chicago Bears, is what makes this story relevant.
A lot has been said about Cooper since his name emerged as the latest player potentially out of the Bay Area. Whether you believe he's still an impact receiver with the potential to regain his Pro Bowl form of 2015 and 2016 or one that "doesn't love football," as some have been inclined to say, the former fourth overall pick represents an investment into the WR position that the Cowboys have not made in some time.
In those Pro Bowl seasons, Cooper averaged over 77 catches a season while putting up over 1,000 yards in both. The Raiders have used this to justify their reported asking price of a first-round pick for Cooper, something the Cowboys are not alone in their reluctance to give.
With Cooper, the Raiders are holding onto their last bit of relevancy. A reeling 1-5 football team that needs to maximize their return on trading Cooper, the Colts and Redskins are also following in the Cowboys footsteps by preparing as much as they can on the player.
Cooper has caught 22 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown through six games this season.
For as desperate as the Raiders are to jump-start their organization, the Cowboys should be just as desperate to add a threat like Cooper to their passing attack. Unlike the Raiders, they're in the hunt for a division title, something much harder to put a price on when it comes to the Jones' finalizing any deal for Cooper in the coming days.
The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, October 30th, at 3 PM Central Time. The Cowboys will be two days into their bye week, not in action again after Sunday until November 5th.
How Will Cowboys Handle Sean Lee’s Return?
For the first time in what feels like forever, the Dallas Cowboys' defense is still dominant without Sean Lee on the field. For many years, Lee's injuries have shown us the worst of this defense but finally that's not the case. Thanks to Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys should feel just fine without #50 wearing pads on gameday.
As the Cowboys get ready to play the Washington Redskins on the road in their quest for a winning record, Sean Lee is expected to return to the field. He was a full participant on practice on both Thursday and Friday and should make his way back to the field today.
But how much will he play?
Usually, we would be talking about this defense being desperate for his help. He's been rushed back to the field on many occasions simply because the team's linebackers weren't doing enough without him. This year though, the narrative is different.
Even before he got injured in week 3 playing against the Seattle Seahawks, Lee had been struggling. Now granted, he wasn't looking bad, but we were watching him miss a few tackles here and there which simply isn't something you'd expect from a player such as himself.
The rookie out of Boise State has made a really good job justifying why the front office decided to invest a first round pick on him. So far, Leighton Vander Esch has accounted for 49 tackles, 40 of which have been solo. The kid can play, period. He's done nothing but get better and better by the week and the snaps he's gotten replacing Lee have helped him a ton.
With the veteran returning, what's in store for this linebacker rotation?
Honestly, with the bye week so close, I think this will depend a lot on how this game starts off. If it comes to a point in which the Cowboys are comfortably leading and have no concerns of losing the match, why not rest Lee as much as possible?
It's clear that the defense is far from desperate for having #50 back on the field and it's also clear that Lee is a player who could get injured at any given time.
Thanks to Smith's and Vander Esch's play, the Cowboys can afford to limit Lee's snaps versus the Redskins today. Rest him as much as possible and throw him on just a few plays out there. Lee has suffered injuries on both hamstrings, which is another reason to take it slow with his return.
If they're able to limit him today and then take advantage of the upcoming bye week it could pay Lee big dividends down the road. Dallas needs to realize they're in a very comfortable position regarding Sean Lee. They have the option to take things slow.
Not only that but once he's healthy, he doesn't have to be on the field every single snap. It might be hard getting used to watching Lee slowly become a "situational" player because he's so good to be only played on specific situations but that might be the way to make his availability improve.
It will be interesting to see how they handle the situation starting today as Lee is slated to play football against an NFC East rival.
Cowboys Wishlist: Big Return on Special Teams?
The last time the Dallas Cowboys played a football game, they made many of their fans' dreams come true. This happened by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 40-7 in a dominant performance against a top NFL defense. Can they make our wishes come true in back-to-back weeks? I don't know about walking away with another 33-point win, but we're obviously putting up a Cowboys Wishlist as every gameday.
Let's hope they come true. As always, I hope you enjoy this week's edition of Cowboys Wishlist!
Wish #1: First Road Win of the Season
I mean, we obviously are wishing for a win. But this one right here would be a very important one, so I'm including it as a wish. The Cowboys haven't won any game on the road this year and doing so in Washington against a hated NFC East rival like the Redskins will be huge for this 3-3 Dallas Cowboys team.
Last Sunday's victory over the Jaguars might have been the moment when the Cowboys "turned the corner" to become a winning team in 2018. It's time to go on the road and beat a 3-2 divisional foe to prove that is the case.
Wish #2: Beasley Keeps It Up
The Cowboys' MVP last weekend was Cole Beasley. He was the only wide receiver on the team with more than one catch, ending his day with nine receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns. It was one of the best performances in his career yet.
The Cowboys need a WR to step up. Other than Cole, no one else is stepping up in the passing game. Beasley did so last Sunday but, can he consistently perform well enough to keep the offense going throughout the year? It remains to be seen.
For the long term, it might be better to have an outside, taller receiver be your #1 guy, but in the meantime, Beasley is the guy Dak Prescott should be targeting the most.
Wish #3: The Sack Hat Trick
Ok, I might be asking for too much here. But hear me out. The Dallas Cowboys defensive line is getting stronger and stronger. Just last week, David Irving returned to the field and got limited playing time. Although he didn't get a sack, his impact was felt since his first snap on the field.
Randy Gregory also saw limited playing time but was able to sack Blake Bortles once. And well, DeMarcus Lawrence is still playing at an elite level this year. How epic would it be for each of these three great pass rushers walk away with a sack?
Three headhunters, three sacks. Let's go!
Wish #4: Keep Redskins Under 10 Points
The Cowboys' defense is no joke. They're allowing 17.2 points per game, which is second best in the entire NFL right now. They're ready to face a Redskins' team that is ranked as the 25th offense in scoring. On top of that, the Redskins' receivers are pretty banged up.
3 of Washington's top 4 receivers (Chris Thompson, Paul Richardson, Jamison Crowder) not expected to play vs. Cowboys https://t.co/9uOkA7Pzhv
This could end up being the second consecutive big win for the Cowboys, specially because the defense should have a very good day.
Wish #5: Big Return on Special Teams
The last time the Dallas Cowboys played the Washington Redskins, Ryan Switzer returned a punt 83 yards into the end zone in what will remain his biggest highlight from his short career with the Dallas Cowboys.
We haven't seen much excitement on special teams this year. Switzer is now a Pittsburgh Steeler, so Tavon Austin has gotten most of the punt returns. However, that's bound to change after he sustained an unfortunate injury. Deonte Thompson has taken care of the kick returns but nothing special has happened either.
I wish that changes today. With Austin out, I wonder if it'll be Cole Beasley or someone else fielding punts for Dallas but whoever it is, things will be spiced up. Through 6 weeks, the Cowboys longest punt return has been for 22 yards and the longest kick return for 35.
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