The Cowboys suffered another loss in Tuesday's practice when Tyrone Crawford--the projected starting left end--went down with a right ankle injury. Crawford was carted off the field with his face in his hands and tears streaming down his face.
While we're still waiting to hear official word and details about the severity of the injury, it sounds like it may not be quite as bad as we all initially thought. Still, one thing is for sure: the Cowboys cannot afford to lose another defensive end before the start of the season.
Due to David Irving, Damontre Moore, and Randy Gregory being suspended and the injury to Tyrone Crawford, as it stands now the Cowboys defensive end depth chart heading into week one looks something like this.
- DeMarcus Lawrence - Right Defensive End
- Taco Charlton - Left Defensive End
- Benson Mayowa - Rotational Defensive End
- Charles Tapper - Rotational Defensive End
And with all the suspensions and injuries I'm sure Lenny Jones and/or Lewis Neal will find their way on the roster for at least a couple of weeks.
That list is far from pretty, and honestly it scares me.
DeMarcus Lawrence (back), Benson Mayowa (knee), and Charles Tapper (back/hip) are all managing/dealing with injuries. Both Mayowa and Tapper were held out of practice early this week trying to recover from knee swelling and back tightness.
To make matters worse Taco Charlton is off to a slow start to camp and has yet to live up to his first round expectations.
Over the last decade or so, the Cowboys haven't been very aggressive in the trade market. From time to time they will catch a guy on a practice squad (David Irving) or when things get real ugly, they'll give up a late round pick for a player (Matt Cassel).
When searching for a trade partner the first thing to look at is what teams around the NFL are currently rebuilding their rosters. The first few teams that come to mind are the New York Jets, the Los Angeles Rams, and the Chicago Bears.
New York Jets - Sheldon Richardson - DE
Sheldon Richardson's name is always brought up around trade deadlines and whenever a player around the league goes down with an injury. Richardson isn't your prototypical 4-3 defensive end, but could fill in well on the left side of the DL.
Richardson had his worst year of his career in 2016.
With just 1.5 sacks and 38 tackles, Richardson struggled on the field but also had his fair share of struggles off the field as well. Richardson has no problem voicing his opinion and does so almost to a fault.
If the Cowboys want to take a risk on a high risk/high reward kind of player, Sheldon Richardson may be their guy.
The state the Jets are in right now, I believe you could get Richardson for a 2018 second and fourth round pick. With the amount of compensation picks the Cowboys are expected to have in the 2018 NFL Draft these are draft picks I would be more than willing to give up.
Los Angeles Rams - Robert Quinn - DE
Robert Quinn is one of the few very talented players the Rams currently have on their roster, but injuries have slowed Quinn down quite a bit over the last few seasons. When healthy Robert Quinn is one of the more dominant pass rushers in the NFL.
At 27 years old, Quinn still should have plenty of gas left in the tank.
In his six NFL seasons he has posted impressive sack numbers (54.0) and an even more impressive amount of forced fumbles (18). Quinn is your prototypical right defensive end, and would provide juice off the edge like the Cowboys haven't had since DeMarcus Ware.
With Robert Quinn's age and the recent decline in production I also believe a 2018 second rounder and a 2019 second rounder could pry Quinn away from the Rams.
If he is fully healthy and at full strength I wouldn't be completely against giving up a first rounder. Especially if you're thinking the Cowboys won't be picking until the back-end of round one like this year's draft.
Chicago Bears - Lamarr Houston/Willie Young - DE
The Bears currently have two veteran pass rushers who--if I was Stephen Jones--I would be making calls about immediately.
Lamarr Houston and Willie Young are interesting for a few reasons.
- Both Houston and Young play in Chicago's 3-4 scheme as outside linebackers
- Both players are in their 30's
- Both players are currently being pushed by the younger healthier players behind them
When healthy, both players are very strong pass rushers for the Bears. In his last three years with the Bears, Willie Young has tallied up 24 sacks and 73 tackles as one of the Bears' better defenders.
Lamarr Houston is probably the better player but hasn't been able to stay healthy. In his seven-year career, Houston has 25 sacks on his resume, all while not playing a full 16 games since 2013.
The Bears are in complete rebuild mode right now and would probably take whatever they could get for either guy. With their injury history, age, and talent coming up behind them, the Cowboys would be smart to see what it would take to land one of the two talented pass rushers.
I believe a mid round pick in 2018 would be enough to land either one of these guys.
The Cowboys may feel comfortable with what they have now at defensive end and stay put, but I certainly do not.
These guys listed above are options that wouldn't set the team back financially or take away a lot of draft picks and would provide a positive veteran presence, career success, and some added juice off the edge to try to get this team competing for a Lombardi Trophy.
Cowboys, Falcons Week 11 Injury Report
The Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons are both 4-5 and playing to keep their seasons alive. It's a mutual must-win game, and both will have to try to win it without some key players. Once again, we look at this week's injury reports.
Let's begin with your Cowboys, whose report is getting longer as the season wears on:
- WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
- DE Taco Charlton (shoulder) - OUT
- DT David Irving (ankle) - OUT
- DT Daniel Ross (calf) - OUT
- LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - OUT
- DT Antwaun Woods (concussion) - Doubtful
- G Zack Martin (knee) - Questionable
- G Connor Williams (knee) - Questionable
- DT Maliek Collins (knee) - Questionable
- LB Joe Thomas (foot) - Questionable
The biggest news is the guy who won't miss tomorrow's game; All-Pro guard Zack Martin is expected to play despite his knee injury from last Sunday night. The Cowboys, already dealing with Travis Frederick's absence and now health issues at left guard, could ill afford to go without Martin in such a pivotal game.
Even if he was healthy, rookie Connor Williams might have a hard time getting in the game. Backup Xavier Su'a-Filo looked like an experienced former second-round pick last week, and he may be the better player for now.
The defensive line has been hit hard, particularly in the middle. With Irving and Ross out, Woods doubtful, and Collins uncertain, Dallas called up DT Christian Ringo from the practice squad. They will also be without Taco Charlton, who could play inside some. Veteran Caraun Reid will be seeing a lot of playing time.
Sean Lee's ongoing absence has become almost an afterthought now with the stellar play of Leighton Vander Esch. We've seen in the past when missing Lee meant disaster on defense, but Dallas' first-round rookie has helped mitigate the damage.
- LB Deion Jones (foot) - OUT
It's a short list for Atlanta, but the one name on it is a big one. Arguably the team's best defensive player, Deion Jones will miss the game with a foot injury.
The Falcons' injury issues have been more in players suffering season-ending injuries. Both starting guards, Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco, are on injured reserve. Star running back Devonta Freeman is also there, and those losses help explain Atlanta's 30th-ranked rushing offense.
Both starting safeties are also on IR; Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal. Atlanta has one of the league's worst passing defense this year without them, ranking 30th in yards allowed and 28th in opponent passer rating.
So yes, the Falcons injury report compared to the Cowboys' may raise some eyebrows. But in terms of who has most of their key guys, Dallas is arguably still better off.
4 Best Candidates for Cowboys’ Next Offensive Coordinator
The big word around the Dallas Cowboys lately is about Jason Garrett and the future of the head coaching job. Some have speculated that either Quarterback Dak Prescott or Jason Garrett will get axed, and the other will stay.
Owner Jerry Jones was quoted on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas about his young quarterback, putting to bed at least half of the conflict.
"Dak is the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. He’s young and he’s going to get extended."
This shut the door on the idea of Prescott being replaced.
As far as Jason Garrett? Jerry Jones has been less than committed.
"I’m not in the business of backing anybody; the head coach, or offensive coordinator, I just don’t back them publicly." Jerry Jones said.
So it seems that Jason Garrett’s future is up in the air.
But what about offensive coordinator Scott Linehan? What’s held the Cowboys back this year has been the offense, and a lot of it can be contributed to their predictable play calling and inability to adapt to today’s game and its current players.
Whether or not Jason Garrett retains his job, Scott Linehan’s job doesn’t seem near as secure. His scheme doesn’t really mesh with Dak Prescott and how the offense could look. There’s only so many times you can run a three tight end set and not get furious.
Cowboys fans may want Garrett gone but they might have to settle for a new offensive coordinator instead.
The good news is that there are many options out there. Options that not only could work well with Dak Prescott, but could bring the Cowboys offense into the 2010s.
Jerry Jones once said how the Cowboys offense was like the LA Rams. If they are able to sign their Co-Offensive Coordinator, then they could be.
When Matt LaFleur left to become the Tennessee Titans OC, the job became a shared job between Waldron and Aaron Kromer. I wonder if Waldron would rather have the job all to himself?
What makes Waldron so appealing is he is also the Rams tight ends coach and passing game coordinator. Those are two areas where the Rams excel and where the Cowboys need help.
Teams are going to start copying the offensive juggernauts of the NFL and the Rams are definitely one of them. The Cowboys should do themselves a favor and get out in front before other teams beat them to it.
Cam Newton is having one of his best seasons. Not only is he an MVP candidate but he’s set to have career highs in completion percentage and QBR, as well as a career low in interceptions. Cam Newton is a very talented quarterback but some of this has to be attributed to his new Quarterback Coach, Scott Turner.
The son of Norv Turner, Scott has seemingly helped mold Cam into a more accurate passer without compromising who Cam Newton is as an athletic quarterback. That has Dak Prescott written all over it.
He's got NFL lineage and a new, scary Cam Newton to add to his resume. He may not have as impressive a track record as others on here but he looks like he could be a chip off the old block and get the Cowboys where they need to be going.
A popular head coach candidate, Lincoln Riley has shown his creativity and offensive innovation during his short time as Oklahoma’s head coach. It’s uncertain if he’ll get any real offers to be a head coach, but as an OC, he would be a serious grab.
Everyone has seen the work he’s done with Baker Mayfield and now Kyler Murray. How he’s able to incorporate different formations to open up the pass game and have the run game seem unstoppable. Just imagine what he could do with the weapons he would have at his disposal in Dallas.
It's likely that Lincoln Riley is a hot commodity for a head coach position, especially in Cleveland where he could reunite with Baker Mayfield. That shouldn’t stop the Cowboys from trying to lure him to Dallas, though. Lincoln Riley could be the real missing piece that Dallas has been looking for.
Another product of Andy Reid, Eric Bieniemy is the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs. The former running backs coach has the experience under Andy Reid on not only how to run an offense but to use your weapons at your disposal to the fullest.
Maybe I’m over-hyping this man but when you see the work he helped put in with Pat Mahomes and how he uses those weapons around him, it makes me imagine what he can do for the Cowboy offense.
The team has no shortage of weapons and could benefit greatly from a guy like this.
If the Chiefs make it past their first playoff game, Bieniemy could become a more attractive name when it comes time for new head coaches. However, if Jerry Jones comes calling and the right offer is met, who’s to say?
If Kris Richard can be lured from Seattle to fix the Cowboys defense, Eric Bieniemy can be lured from Kansas City to fix the Cowboys offense.
Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta
The Dallas Cowboys play their next three games in 13 days, all critical to their hopes of winning the NFC East despite alternating wins and losses since week one. For the Cowboys to earn consecutive road wins, their first coming on Sunday night at the Eagles, they'll have to come out of Atlanta in much better shape than they did just a year ago.
As expected in the NFL, a lot has changed in this year. The Cowboys 27-7 loss at the Falcons in their first game without Running Back Ezekiel Elliott was the beginning of the end on a season that forced a multitude of coaching changes in Dallas.
The Cowboys stubbornness in allowing Falcons DE Adrian Clayborn to sack Dak Prescott six times by beating Chaz Green and Byron Bell is something they hoped to move past when new positional coaches were brought in at OL, TE, QB, and WR.
It took the team admitting that these moves below Offensive Coordinator Scot Linehan were not all correct two weeks ago for the Cowboys to see any real progress, but with their win last week there's hope that the Cowboys are the improved team expected weeks ago - arrived just in time for Thanksgiving.
Firing Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander was the first move, as the Cowboys named Marc Colombo OL Coach and Hudson Houck his assistant. Colombo told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas this week that he has injured Center Travis Frederick on a headset during games as well.
Colombo, Houck, and Frederick have the Cowboys offensive line confident in their ability to play to their strengths, rewarded with a renewed faith in the zone blocking scheme that was forgotten under Alexander.
If the Cowboys offensive line was their first problem in last year's Falcons loss (it was), it's becoming their biggest strength at the right time in the season.
The Cowboys necessary changes didn't stop here though.
In desperate need of a play maker on the outside, the Cowboys are seeing their investment into Wide Receiver Amari Cooper pay off so far. Cooper is averaging 3.2 yards of separation on his routes this season, ahead of Cole Beasley's 2.6 yards as the next closest pass catcher.
Cooper's presence was a big part of Ezekiel Elliott's 151 yard rushing performance at the Eagles. A player that can win on the outside with ease and dictate coverage has benefited Prescott and the Cowboys game plan on offense enough to send away a first round pick.
It will be up to this "rebuilt" Cowboys offense to match the Falcons on Sunday. Atlanta is averaging 27.1 points per game this season, but a much more dangerous 32.2 at home. After a 1-4 start, the 4-5 Falcons are playing in front of their home fans for the first time in two weeks, losing at the Browns in week ten.
The Cowboys felt they'd be prepared for games like this after their offseason moves, instead needing to show the type of in-season urgency that's been rare for Jason Garrett's team. The same can be said about a Falcons team that's experienced playing with their backs to the wall much sooner than the Cowboys have this season, setting up a big NFC match up in the early slot Sunday.
Dak Prescott will be thankful that Chaz Green nor Byron Bell are protecting him, wanting nothing more than to deliver another win for the Cowboys to take into Thanksgiving against the division-leading Washington Redskins. Not all of the coaches responsible for the lack of adjustment in last year's game are gone. What the Cowboys do have are tangible new ideas from coaches that understand they need more than a win at the defending Super Bowl champions to call this Cowboys season a success.
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