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.
Jaguars Waive Barry Church; Could Cowboys Bring Him Back?
Veteran safety Barry Church was released today by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Could he return home to the Dallas Cowboys, where he spent his first seven seasons?
Despite his leadership and consistency on defense, Dallas allowed Church to leave in free agency when Jacksonville gave him a lucrative deal. But if he clears waivers, could the Cowboys consider bring him back for depth and support during their likely playoff run?
Jane Slater of the NFL Network reported on this potential reunion:
Cowboys haven't reached out to S Barry Church but I'm told they are discussing the possibility of bringing him back to Dallas according to a source informed. Church, 30, was released by the Jags today and is familiar with the system having played there from 2010-2016.
The Cowboys have had solid play from their current starting safeties, Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. Neither is a star, but the duo has not been a liability during the team's current five-game winning streak.
Church was a similar player, reliable if never exceptional, during his time in Dallas. He could be a nice insurance policy for the playoffs if something happened to one of the starters.
Barry knows the system. He never played for Kris Richard, but he was with Rod Marinelli for three seasons before leaving in free agency.
According to reports out of Jacksonville, Church is being released because the team wants to go with younger, cheaper players now that their season is over. There is no known injury keeping Barry from playing.
Of course, Dallas would have to make room on the roster to pick Church up. They could third-year prospect Darian Thompson, who is the current fourth man at safety.
Barry Church must now go through the 24-hour waiver process. A team may claim him, including the Cowboys. We'll see what the future holds.
How the Dallas Cowboys Can Win the NFC East This Week
It's only Week 15, but the Dallas Cowboys could become the 2018 NFC East Champions this week through a couple of scenarios. I thought we'd take a moment today to break down how the Boys can win their division and assure their spot in the playoffs.
With three weeks left in the regular season, most of the divisional games have already been played. The only two left to play are the Week 17 finales; Cowboys at Giants and Eagles at Redskins.
Here are the current standings:
- Dallas Cowboys 8-5 (4-1 in division)
- Philadelphia Eagles 6-7 (3-2 in division)
- Washington Redskins 6-7 (2-3 in division)
- New York Giants 5-8 (1-4 in division)
The Giants have been scrappy lately, winning four of their last five, but it's too late for them to try to win the division. Even if the Cowboys were to fall to 8-8, the best New York could do is tie them in overall record. They would have also split their head-to-head series, negating that tiebreaker.
At that point, it would come down to the record within the division. New York would improve to 2-4 with a win over Dallas in Week 17, but the Cowboys would still be 4-2 against the NFC East. Dallas would still be the division champion.
So, that knocks out New York. Technically, the Eagles and Redskins are still alive. But their margin is about as slim as it gets.
Both Philadelphia and Washington need the Cowboys to lose their last three games, and then to also win out themselves, to steal the NFC East crown.
For the Redskins, it's about their record against division opponents. The best they can finish is 3-3, assuming they'd win their last game against the Eagles. With the head-to-head series against Dallas split this year, they would have to finish 9-7 overall and have the Cowboys drop to 8-8 to become NFC East Champions.
The Eagles also need to finish one game ahead of Dallas, but for a different reason. Philadelphia lost both their games with the Cowboys this year, so Dallas has the head-to-head tiebreaker.
So that really makes thing simple for Dallas; win just one of your last three games and you're the division champion.
Not only that, but even if Dallas were to fall this week against the Indianapolis Colts, they could still clinch the division with losses by the Eagles (@ Rams) and Redskins (@ Jaguars).
It would certainly behoove the Cowboys to get the division locked up now. They could then use the last two weeks of the season to get ready for the playoffs.
Dallas would have the freedom rest banged up players like Ezekiel Elliott and Zack Martin. It would also allow them to work in returning players such as Sean Lee and Tavon Austin and figure out their new rotations without pressure to win.
Beating the Colts on Sunday isn't a given; they're at home and desperate to stay alive in the AFC playoff picture. They are the toughest opponent Dallas has left until January.
But despite that, with the Eagles facing a juggernaut team and Washington trying to play football without a quarterback, there's a great chance that the Cowboys will be the NFC East Champions by Sunday night.
#INDvsDAL: How The Game May Be Decided In The Red Zone
In many ways the Dallas Cowboys offense has found their stride in recent weeks. Over this five game win streak they have "found their identity" playing ball control offense and trusting their quarterback to make big throws when needed most. Of course the defense has been the star most weeks, but this offense should not be slept on either.
This doesn't mean the offense has been without their fair share of struggles, however, particularly in the red zone. Struggles that the numbers say could cost the Cowboys this weeks' game in Indianapolis if they don't get it cleaned up.
In terms of red zone offensive efficiency the Cowboys have been downright horrendous. In fact, they are dead-last in the league in success rate inside the 10 yard line, last in first-and-goal success rate, and 21st in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.
There's no sugar-coating those numbers, they are bad. Especially when you consider that this team has arguably the league's best running back and a quarterback with the size and athleticism you might expect from a linebacker.
For as bad as the Cowboys are inside the red zone, the Colts are equally as good. Indianapolis is top 10 in terms of success rate inside the 10, at the goal line, and in first-and-goal success rate. They are also 11th in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.
Despite not having the individual running back the Cowboys have, the Colts offensive line and skill players as a whole set them up a bit better when the field is shortened. Tight end Eric Ebron has been rather incredible in terms of production this season, catching 12 touchdowns on 58 receptions. Andrew Luck is also a more accurate quarterback than Dak Prescott, though Prescott should be a much more dangerous red zone threat than he currently is.
I am working on the Cowboys 32nd ranked Goal-to-Go offensive numbers. They have run 35 of their 59 total plays out of Shotgun-11 Personnel. In those 35 plays, the average gain per snap is....12 INCHES. I am not kidding. They could out-gain that by running QB sneaks. I am amazed.
Of course, some of the Cowboys red zone struggles can be pinned on offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Linehan has failed to scheme open the "easy" red zone touchdowns we see so often around the league. As pointed out by Bob Sturm on Twitter this week, the Cowboys' personnel groupings and play calls when in goal-to-go situations have been questionable to say the least. But while blame does fall on the coaches' shoulders, the players need to execute better as well.
Games in the NFL often come down to just a handful of plays, and red zone efficiency plays a key role in deciding the outcome of close games every week. If this is once again the case on Sunday, based on past performance, the Dallas Cowboys could be in trouble against the efficient Colts.
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