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It’s Time For Xavier Woods To Start At Safety

Kevin Brady

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It's Time For Xavier Woods To Start At Safety 1
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys defense is a bad unit right now.

Unable to create pass rush from anyone not named DeMarcus Lawrence, and unable to get any type of consistent linebacker play from anyone not named Sean Lee, the Cowboys simply cannot make stops when they need to most.

Now, after failing the offense on Sunday and allowing 35 points in their own building, I believe it is time for a change at the safety position.

At cornerback, the Cowboys have actually been okay. Jourdan Lewis looks like the team's best corner, Anthony Brown has had some impressive flashes, and Chidobe Awuzie gave us reasons to be excited when healthy.

At safety, however, the Cowboys have not bee good enough.

As anyone who has read my work before knows, I am a huge Byron Jones fan. Going into the season I stated that Jones was the second best player on the Cowboys defense. I also believe he is one of the more underrated and underappreciated players in the NFL.

So far this year, he has had some great moments, but has also had some bad moments (specifically against Denver). Still, Jones is this team's best current option for his position. I may be open to letting him play corner if Awuzie can play safety, but that's a discussion for another time.It's Time For Xavier Woods To Start At Safety

The change that needs to be made, is starting rookie Xavier Woods over veteran Jeff Heath.

Heath has become a fan favorite over the years, seeming to always be at the right place at the right time for takeaways and important plays. But he has simply been bad this season, and a change at his position is warranted.

Heath's angles when coming downhill to tackle have been poor, and his coverage has left much to be desired. Rookie Xavier Woods, however, looks like the team's best safety already when on the field.

By allowing Xavier Woods to play and grow with fellow rookies Lewis and Awuzie, as well as with Byron Jones and Anthony Brown, the Cowboys will get a look at their secondary of the future right now.

I believe it is time for Woods to get the nod over Heath. Unfortunately, I don't know if it is realistic to expect the change be made this early in the season. If Heath continues to start, and this defense continues to struggle, then it may be too late for the Cowboys' season once the coaches finally make the switch.

Let's hope they wake up sooner rather than later.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Robert Palmer

    October 2, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    agreed

  2. Pete186

    October 2, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    You hit the nail on the head !!!

  3. Pete186

    October 2, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Heath is just not starting material

  4. Russ_Te

    October 2, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    I think Wood’s size is a problem at SS, but will stand corrected if that’s where he starts and he’s not getting run over. Definitely making an impact on the downs he comes in.

    I wanted to use the top post on the board to open fire on Terrance Williams, and lobby again for his trade ASAP. Last play of the game / 4th down:

    Wind your game back to the play. Elliott catches the ball 7 yards from the marker as every Cowboy fan groans that the ball is not thrown past the stick. But he is Zeke Elliott. Locate Rams #23 Robey-Coleman, and Williams on the play.

    EE catches the ball and Williams totally stops. Robey-Coleman has to close on the play from the outside, and Williams simply lets him. You go after that guy and try to block him out of the play. If EE just has 2 Rams on him instead of 3, he might have bulled that ball past the stick.

  5. dallas1966

    October 3, 2017 at 3:30 am

    Wholeheartedly agree, it’s time for a change in the secondary. Might have to right the wrong on the offensive line and linebackers too.

  6. Travis Diggs

    October 3, 2017 at 11:13 am

    I got called a racist for stating that Jeff Heath was not athletic enough to be our starting safety in preseason Pull up my old posts anybody!! 4 weeks in and theirs a article on here calling for his job, Aint this bitch

    • Russ_Te

      October 3, 2017 at 11:10 pm

      Heath is one of these project guys who somehow hangs on for years without somebody coming in and knocking him off the team. This is his year to turn the corner to legit SS, and it’s not happening yet.

      You miss on most projects, but then you need to have a different solution ready.

      While it will never happen this year, I still wouldn’t mind trying Jaylon Smith out for SS. He had a long run in pursuit Sunday that proved most of his speed is back. If it were to work, he’d terrorize receivers.

  7. William Gray

    October 4, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    I agree. Heath doesn’t need to start. Woods in that secondary would be great.

  8. Vale Torres

    October 5, 2017 at 10:26 am

    While replacing DBs,go ahead and find a replacement Headcoach. Even if the Cowboys make the playoffs this season,they will get outcoached. Garrett does not make the right changes at halftime and has mismanaged the clock in the past. Will not get better anytime soon and the clock is ticking on this team “NOW”!

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Star Blog

What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?

Kevin Brady

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.

Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.

They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?

Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.

Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.

Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.

Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.

Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.

This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.

The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.



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3 Things We Learned About The Dallas Cowboys In 2018

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

Coming into the 2018 season, loads of questions surrounded the Dallas Cowboys and the future of their roster.

Could their defense stay intact when the annual Sean Lee injury occurred? Was Kris Richard going to lead the Cowboys young secondary to places we thought they could be? And would Dak Prescott earn a contact extension and become the official franchise quarterback of America's Team.

Of course, there are tons of other questions that may have gone unanswered, but these three critical areas seem to find clarity in 2018.

Leighton Vander Esch And Jaylon Smith Are Legit

The Dallas Cowboys caught a lot of flack for their selection both of these linebackers, each for different reasons.

When they snagged Jaylon Smith in the second round of the 2016 draft, it was still unknown to the public if Smith could ever even play football again. When they took Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall last April, fans questioned how valuable an off-ball linebacker would be on a defense that already had Sean Lee.

Well, after their first full season together, it's easy to say that both Vander Esch and Smith are the linebacker options of the future in Dallas. Named to the Pro Bowl during his rookie season, Vander Esch took the world by storm in 2018. When Lee went down, he was there to not only fill his shoes, but to outplay the veteran all year long.

What is fun to consider is that as good as Vander Esch was this season, Jaylon Smith might be even better. Both posses insane sideline to sideline pursuit ability, and are some of the surest tacklers in all of football.

Watching these two grow together will be a pleasure over the coming seasons.

Their Young Secondary Is Coming Together

Like their linebackers, the Dallas Cowboys secondary is a young group, who fans are excited to watch grow throughout the years. It seemed like more pressure sat on the shoulders of young cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie than of Smith and Vander Esch, however.

With Kris Richard joining the staff and making the decision to move Jones to cornerback full time, it was do-or-die for the former first round pick. Byron Jones answered all the doubters, earning not only a Pro Bowl selection but also First Team All Pro honors for his performance.

Opposite him, Awuzie had a rough start to his sophomore campaign. While typically right there in coverage, wide outs too often made contested catches over him. Over the final few weeks of the year, however, that changed and Awuzie played some of the best football yet.

Xavier Woods, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis (in much fewer snaps) all had fantastic seasons as well, giving the Cowboys great hope and confidence in their secondary moving forward. They may need to add another safety during the offseason, however, though Jeff Heath remains more than just a viable option.

Dak Prescott Is Here To Stay

Whether or not you think it's justified, Dak Prescott is the quarterback of the future in Dallas. And he earned that right the back-half of 2018 and during the postseason. After a shaky start to his 3rd season, Prescott turned things around nicely, leading the Cowboys to a 7-1 finish to the regular season.

Prescott played the best football of his young career down the stretch, and showed just how valuable he is both on the field and in the locker room. It seemed like every game he made 2-3 winning plays that put the Cowboys over the top that afternoon.

Dak is going to get a contract extension, and will be locked in as a Cowboy for the foreseeable future, and with the way he played the final 10 games of his season, I can't second guess this decision much at all.



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Star Blog

Jason Garrett Can’t be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?

Brian Martin

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Jason Garrett Can't be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?

One of the few positives most of us were looking forward to after the Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams was the fact that Scott Linehan would no longer be the offensive coordinator for America's Team. Everything was pointing to his dismissal, but that may not be the case according to Head Coach Jason Garrett.

Todd Archer on Twitter

Jason Garrett said on 105.3 The Fan that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will return in 2019. "We don't anticipate any significant changes on our staff," Garrett said.

I can't say that I was happy upon learning Jason Garrett plans on retaining Scott Linehan as the Cowboys OC in 2019. In fact, my first thought was… Well, something better left unsaid. I'm sure many of you can kind of read my mind, because I'm pretty positive you had all that the same thoughts running through your head as well.

In all honesty, I didn't think there was a snowball chance in hell Scott Linehan would return to Dallas after the conclusion of the 2018 season. After all, the Cowboys nearly fired him during the bye week earlier this season, meaning his job security was already on thin ice. He didn't do anything to improve things in my opinion.

I know Jason Garrett has said Scott Linehan will return as the OC in 2019, but not for a second do I believe it. We are less than 72 hours hours removed from the Cowboys exit from the playoffs and I highly doubt any of Dallas' decision-makers has had the time to sit down and discuss who stays and who goes. In fact, I know they haven't.

Jeff Cavanaugh on Twitter

Stephen Jones says they won't comment on anything with coaching staff but that they need to take a deep look at why they fell short. Says it a little early to speculate about players or coaches. They haven't had a meeting about it yet.

I think once the Cowboys brass sits down and reevaluates the 2018 season, they will come to the conclusion they can do better than Scott Linehan as their offensive coordinator. There were just too many times throughout the season where the playcalling was a problem just. It's just time to move on, despite the vote of confidence by Jason Garrett.

Of course, this could just be me trying to read between the lines hoping and praying Scott Linehan is finally fired. Like many of you, I've grown way too tired of his predictable and dated playcalling. It's time to move on and find someone more innovative who can maximize the talent the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster, much like Kris Richard did with the defense.

You can either choose to believe Jason Garrett or not. I for one have a hard time seeing the Dallas Cowboys staying status quo with their coaching staff, especially their offensive coordinator. But, only time will tell.

Do you think it's time for the Dallas Cowboys to fire Scott Linehan?



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