The Dallas Cowboys played arguably their sloppiest game of the 2016 season last Sunday night in primetime against the Philadelphia Eagles, but still managed to somehow come away with a win in overtime. Unfortunately, that victory came at a high price, costing them the services of Morris Claiborne and Barry Church for an unknown amount of time.
Church (arm) and Claiborne (groin) have been the Cowboys best two play making defensive backs so far in 2016 and that productivity will be difficult to replace.
Now, there is no way that the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff is going to tip their hand about how they’re going to reshuffle their secondary, but there is one player in particular that I will guarantee helps them survive until Church and Claiborne return to the lineup.
Byron Jones is in his second year with the Cowboys and has become a jack-of-all-trades player on the backend of the defense. Jones has played cornerback, both inside and in the slot, safety, and even matched up one-on-one with tight ends in his short time in the NFL.
This year though, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has been using Jones mostly at free safety. So for, we have seen him line up as a single high safety and sometimes as a two deep safety with either Barry Church or J.J. Wilcox.
Jones’ versatility is one of the reasons why the Dallas Cowboys fell in love with him to begin with and it’s that valuable skill set that will help the defense survive the injuries to Claiborne and Church.
Now, I’m not saying that Byron Jones’ role on the Cowboys defense will change all that much. In fact, it might not change at all. But, with his unique skill set he can be used in a variety of different ways to help combat against the losses due to injury.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect Byron Jones to do this all by himself. It is going to take a team effort to replace the productivity of Church and Claiborne.
Fortunately, Orlando Scandrick looks like he was back to his old self against the Eagles. I expect he will split time at left cornerback and in the slot with rookie CB Anthony Brown, who by the way has played fantastic already as an injury replacement.
To a depth at the position, the Dallas Cowboys recently signed Leon McFadden to the active roster. I don’t really think we’ll see much of him unless there’s some kind of injury.
At safety, I think J.J. Wilcox will be taking over for Barry Church as the in-the-box safety. He has really stepped up his game this season and looks to build upon that now that he’s been thrust into a starting role.
Jeff Heath will also be in for a larger role on defense and despite a lot of fans resentment of him, he is reliable when his number is called.
So, even though the Dallas Cowboys defense takes a huge hit with Morris Claiborne and Barry Church out with injuries, there are players on the roster to fill the void. But, out of everybody in the Cowboys secondary, I think it will be Byron Jones’ unique versatility that helps the defense survive until reinforcements arrive.
Do you agree or disagree?
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