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It’s Time For Xavier Woods To Start At Safety

Kevin Brady



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 am currently a college student. Lets get going.

  • Robert Palmer


  • Pete186

    You hit the nail on the head !!!

  • Pete186

    Heath is just not starting material

  • Russ_Te

    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.

  • dallas1966

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

  • Travis Diggs

    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

      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.

  • William Gray

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

  • Vale Torres

    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”!

Star Blog

Sean’s Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Cowboys D

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Dallas Cowboys Defense 1

It took some time, but the Dallas Cowboys have their first outside free agent of the offseason, signing Linebacker Joe Thomas to provide depth at a position where Anthony Hitchens and Kyle Wilber have already signed elsewhere.

The fifth-year pro has played exclusively with the Green Bay Packers, but the Cowboys do have some familiarity with Thomas as he spent part of 2015 on their practice squad.

Joe Thomas has served as a core special teams contributor and sub-package LB for the Packers out of South Carolina State, and will now look to bring these services to a Cowboys team in need of play making ability on both defense and special teams.

Using film from this past season, here is Joe Thomas' full scouting report.

LB Joe Thomas: Strengths

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Joe Thomas lined up at all three LB positions for the Packers, taking the majority of his snaps on defense at MIKE or WILL. The WILL position is where Thomas should fit best in Dallas.

Not overly physical with a shorter but square frame, Thomas is a rangy player with light feet and fluid movement ability. Shifting laterally along the line of scrimmage to "pick through trash" is not a problem for Thomas, nor is flipping his hips and running to the football.

It may take Thomas more effort than it should to get in position on most plays, with false steps and late reads being an issue, but once he establishes his sight on the point of attack this is a downhill missile of a player.

Thomas2 - Streamable

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Joe Thomas uses his length well to disengage from blocks and finish off plays, doing a nice job of not allowing blockers into his chest consistently.

With Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith expected to be the Cowboys' primary starters at WILL and MIKE respectively, Thomas could supplement these two physical, well-rounded players extremely well given his athleticism.

LB Joe Thomas: Weaknesses

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There is a reason a player with the raw traits of Joe Thomas goes un-drafted, and in this case it is because of awareness and anticipation issues in Thomas' game.

Far too often on tape, Thomas is forcing himself to recover from false steps against the blockers in front of him. I would have loved to see a player with this movement ability get more clean opportunities to finish at the football, but it was simply not there for Thomas.

When Thomas wasn't late to the ball against the run, he was getting caught flat-footed in space trying to compensate for this reactionary ability. This led to Thomas' fair share of missed tackles, where the LB failed to break down correctly.

Overall, Thomas did a decent job of avoiding blocks and disengaging, and does play with better-than-expected stopping power. The strength and technique to shed blocks was rarely seen though, relying on his quickness to outrun opponents to the spot.

LB Joe Thomas: Summary

Sean's Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Dallas Cowboys Defense

This is a player that should help the Dallas Cowboys in two phases of their game this season.

Signed for both 2018 and 2019, the Cowboys have clearly seen enough from their former practice squad linebacker in Green Bay to bring back an athletic ST ace with upside on defense.

Joe Thomas shouldn't be taking Lee or Smith off the field regularly this season, but at his best he will factor into Rod Marinelli's defense on passing downs.

Thomas gives a unit predicated on flowing to the ball even more speed on the field, and is an ideal depth signing with the versatility to cover punts and kickoffs.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Cowboys D" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Star Blog

Could a Special Coach Help Dez Bryant’s Route-Running?

Brian Martin



Could Special Coach Help Dez Bryant's Route Running?

Dez Bryant's career with the Dallas Cowboys may be in limbo, but that's not stopping him from trying to improve his game and on-field performance.

Bryant will reportedly train with personal wide receivers coach David Robinson, who specializes in route-running, according to reporter Jane Slater of NFL Network. This should come as good news to a lot of Cowboys fans, because Dez Bryant has often been criticized throughout his professional career for his route-running.

If anything, this news should indicate that Dez Bryant is more determined than ever to rebound from his disappointing 2017 season and prove his critics wrong that he is no longer one of the top receivers in the league. I for one am not going to bet against him.

Bryant's work ethic and passion for the game have never been questioned. His desire to be the best is evident anytime you turn on his film, whether it is in a game situation or on the practice field. He takes the "practice like you play" mantra to heart.

Everybody should be encouraged that at this point in his career, Dez Bryant is still looking at ways to improve his game and seek help. Hopefully, working with a well-known receivers coach like David Robinson can take Bryant's game to the next level.

Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (AP Photo/Matt Strasen)

You may not know who David Robinson is (I certainly didn't), but he is well respected around the league and has helped other receivers under his tutelage. Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jordan Reed, and even Cowboys former WR Brice Butler have all benefited from Robinson's coaching.

Dez Bryant has always been regarded as one of those types of receivers who is always open regardless how tight the coverage is around him. His ability to go up and snag the ball out of the air is arguably his best trait, but he could become more dangerous if he can create separation on his own with better route-running.

Unfortunately, Bryant is entering the stage in his career where age becomes a factor and some regression is to be expected. This is why improved route-running could improve any deficiencies Bryant maybe dealing with.

But, what exactly will David Robinson be working on with Dez Bryant?

Robinson told Jane Slater that in his workouts with Dez Bryant, he will concentrate on the expansion of Bryant's route tree, shaking defenders at the line of scrimmage, and improving footwork technique to compensate for any natural loss of speed due to age.

I don't know about you, but I'm actually looking forward to seeing how Bryant responds to Robinson's coaching, hopefully still as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

We all know that Bryant's status with the Cowboys is unknown, at least to those of us on the outside looking in, but I don't see him going anywhere in 2018. There just aren't any vet WRs or rookies who I can see replacing his production. Of course, I could be wrong.

One thing is for sure though, Dez Bryant isn't going to sit on his hands while he waits to find out what his future holds.

Do you think improved route-running will help Dez Bryant's game?

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Star Blog

Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Brian Martin



Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Since becoming the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Rod Marinelli hasn't had too many of his former players follow him to Dallas. In fact, I can only think of one… Henry Melton, and we all know how that turned out.

I don't know about you, but I found that a little strange. It's pretty common for coaches to try to bring some of their players with them when they accept a new job. Familiarity goes a long way in the NFL and former players can also help make the transition easier for everyone.

Strangely enough, Rod Marinelli hasn't really been afforded that luxury, whether it was his doing or not. But, there is a free agent who played under Marinelli's tutelage in Chicago who might make sense for the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Shea McClellin.

Rod Marinelli was the defensive coordinator in Chicago when the Bears decided to draft Shea McClellin 19th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Marinelli likely had a big say in that decision, and if he still feels the same, a reunion could be in order.

Shea McClellin started his career in the NFL as a 4-3 left side defensive end playing opposite Julius Peppers, but was also viewed as a potential Brian Urlacher replacement. He showed flashes of becoming a solid defensive end his first few years in the league, but was eventually moved to linebacker, where he seemed to find a home for himself.

Shea McClellin

New England Patriots LB Shea McClellin

After his contract expired with the Bears, the New England Patriots decided to bring him aboard to help with their linebacker depth. He only ended up starting four games for them in 2016, but made some memorable plays to help the Patriots become the Super Bowl champions.

Unfortunately, the 2017 season wasn't very kind to him. His entire year was wiped out due to a concussion, which probably had a lot to do with why they recently released him.

This of course could be good news for the Dallas Cowboys. They currently need some depth at the linebacker position and Shea McClellin could provide that, if he's healthy. The healthy bit here is key, because he has had problems with concussions in the past.

If McClellin is indeed healthy, he could bring a versatile skill set to the Cowboys defense. His best spot is probably at strong side LB (SAM), but I think he could play middle linebacker (MIKE) as well. He also could provide depth at defensive end, the position he played to start his NFL career.

With the LB depth a concern, Shea McClellin makes quite a bit of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, his past history with concussions is a red flag, but it also drives down his asking price. I think he would definitely fall into that "bargain shopping" mentality the Cowboys have been using these last few offseasons.

He probably wouldn't be viewed as a very important signing, but you still need these types of players on your team in order to succeed in the NFL. Let's see if the Dallas Cowboys agree.

Do you think a Rod Marinelli and Shea McClellin reunion is in order?

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