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This Players Versatility Will Help Cowboys Secondary Survive Injuries

Brian Martin



Byron Jones

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.

Cowboys Headlines - This Players Versatility Will Help Cowboys Secondary Survive Injuries

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Cowboys Headlines - This Players Versatility Will Help Cowboys Secondary Survive Injuries 1Fortunately, 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?

Please for free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.



  1. Dwayne

    November 6, 2016 at 11:01 am

    I think anthony Brown will be the key

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      November 6, 2016 at 11:52 am

      Dwayne, I think he will definitely have a big role. He has played really well as an injury replacement this year in the slot, especially when you consider he’s just a rookie that lasted until the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

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Player News

Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick

Jess Haynie



Devin Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.

Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:

Jason Bernstein on Twitter

Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back.

Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.

Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.

The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.

For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!

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Dallas Cowboys

Breaking: Scott Linehan and Dallas Cowboys Part Ways

John Williams



Scott Linehan Acknowledges Need for New "Wrinkles" in Cowboys Offense

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan have mutually agreed to part ways following a tumultuous season that saw the Dallas Cowboys offense finish outside the top 12 three out of his four seasons in Dallas.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Sources: The #Cowboys are firing OC Scott Linehan. Taking their offense in a new direction. An announcement is coming.

Scott Linehan was brought in prior to the 2015 season and saw his offenses finish 31st, fifth, 14th, and 22nd in his four years as the Cowboys play caller. The 2015 season can be excused as the Cowboys rolled out Kellen Moore, Matt Cassell, and Brandon Weeden for 13 starts after Tony Romo was injured twice during the season, but the team 2-11 in those 13 starts and the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs despite a strong performance on the defensive side of the football.

The Cowboys saw an offense that finished fifth in the NFL in points in 2016 decline each of the last two offseasons and Linehan has been continually criticized by analysts, fans, and players as well.

Many believe that the reason that Dez Bryant and Brice Butler weren't brought back in the offseason was because of the public criticism of the offense and the play caller instilling the offense and that criticism has carried over to this season when Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper acknowledged that the Philadelphia Eagles were sitting on the slant routes that they had run all game. Dak mentioned that he changed Amari's route to a go route, which led to a 75 yard touchdown that helped open up the offense.

Cole Beasley has been frustrated with his role for much of the season and deservedly so. He was often non-existent in the offensive game plan until the final five minutes of football games.

In the running game, the offense had become too predictable and reliant upon jumbo formations that led to Ezekiel Elliott having to run against eight in the box anywhere from 25-30% of the time. For perspective, Todd Gurley only ran against eight-man fronts around eight percent of the time. Scott Linehan never looked to attempt to take players out of the box, instead insisting on motioning more players into the box for the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott to run against. It's amazing when you think about it, that Ezekiel Elliott was able to win the rushing title when facing loaded fronts as often as he did.

This was a move that needed to happen and the Dallas Cowboys didn't need to waste anymore time to make it happen. The offense had become stale and frustrating for the players as well as the fans. While Jason Garrett started the offseason saying he "didn't expect any changes," this was a move that absolutely had to happen for the offense to take a step forward. Below, you can read Jason Garrett's announcement on the move.

Mike Garafolo on Twitter

Cowboys have fired Scott Linehan

Even after the move for Amari Cooper, the offense looked better, but it still struggled at times to move the football.

The Cowboys have a young team with especially young players on the offensive side of the football. They have a quarterback who can throw from the pocket, but has excellent movement skills and capabilities of throwing the ball on the run. He's an excellent runner on designed runs. Despite us knowing all that, Scott Linehan looked reluctant to use him on designed quarterback runs that weren't read options or speed options. What you saw on designed runs in the Seattle game is what this team should be doing five times a game.

Now the question becomes, who should the Cowboys next offensive coordinator be? Our own, Staff Writer Brian Martin, laid out 5 Options to be the Next Offensive Coordinator earlier this week. I suggest you give it a read.

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DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class

Kevin Brady



Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.

Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.

One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring. ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures.

DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.

Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.

Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.

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