It's Sunday and there is NFL football happening. Welcome to Heaven.
While you still have to wait six days to watch God's favorite team (as Texas Stadium's hole in the roof so proclaimed) hit the gridiron, today is a tasty treat. Football season is here, but just because the Cowboys aren't playing doesn't mean that they're not on our minds.
The Cowboys have been working towards their Super Bowl LI goals out in Oxnard, and to get to that coveted game in Houston they'll have to make it through their 2016 schedule. Near the end of it, on Monday Night Football, the Cowboys will host the Detroit Lions in their first meeting since the epic 2014 Wild Card Playoff Game that Dallas won. Unfortunately for Detroit, they might not be fully equipped.
Third-year Tight End Eric Ebron suffered what was described as a "devastating" injury to his lower right leg on Saturday. While there are conflicting reports all over the great landscape of the internet, the Lions are concerned that this could be an injury to Ebron's ACL. The 2014 1st Rounder has been unimpressive in two seasons, catching only 72 passes for 785 yards and 6 touchdowns. Should he miss serious time this season then it would be highly doubtful for Detroit to pick up his fifth-year option next offseason.
Why is this important, RJ? This is Inside The Star. Not Pride Rock where Simba and all them lived.
Yesterday my fellow Staff Writer Jess Haynie pondered a few trade scenarios between the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints, featuring Ron Leary as the prime piece for us. I connected some dots about Leary to Tennessee on Friday, but today we're talking about a different player - Gavin Escobar.
Why Escobar? Eric Ebron, of course. In the comments for this post on our Official Inside The Star Facebook Page, loyal Inside The Star reader Zach Moore floated this out as a hypothetical. So here we are!
The Ebron injury, should it be severe like the Lions initially feared, would completely wreck what is an already ravaged depth chart for Detroit at the Tight End position. Brandon Pettigrew tore his ACL late last season so he's still on the PUP list, and Tim Wright tore his in minicamp so he's done-zo for this season. If you're a Detroit Lions Tight End you need to guard your ACL with your life! It sounds like the Lions have a Gavin-Escobar-shaped hole.
The Cowboys have a precariously long line of depth at Tight End:
- Jason Witten, King of all Tight Ends.
- Gavin Escobar, invisible to the Cowboys Coaching Staff.
- James Hanna, who was re-signed this offseason.
- Geoff Swaim, the inspiration for the Swaim Train.
- Rico Gathers, who is literally learning how to play football at a high level.
It's no secret that Escobar is entering the final year of his rookie contract with the Cowboys. Gavin was taken in the 2nd Round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and is (by default) the most productive of the Cowboys recent 2nd Round woes. If they want to keep Swaim or Gathers around, it makes sense to move Escobar (who surprisingly didn't open up Training Camp on the PUP list himself).
Should the Cowboys call up Detroit and be willing to deal Escobar it would ideally be for a prime pass rusher. Escobar is a starting level Tight End in the NFL for teams who don't boast a Hall of Famer at the position, and the Lions have already suffered enough losses in terms of aerial weapons with the recent retirement of Calvin Johnson.
The Lions have their own Ezekiel in Ziggy Ansah, and of course he's off the table. The player the Cowboys should try to procure is Devin Taylor, who is currently expected to start opposite Ansah at Defensive End.
It's practically a Training Camp tradition for Cowboys-trading-away-one-of-their-Tight-Ends ideas to float around. They've never really lacked depth at the position and this is the time of year where people are in need. It remains to be seen if the Cowboys will finally prey on that, like a Lion would!
BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign Free Agent Safety George Iloka
The Dallas Cowboys have reached a one-year agreement with Safety George Iloka, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. Iloka spent 2018 with the Vikings after six years with the Bengals.
He's started 79 of his 99 career games since being a fifth-round pick by Cincinnati in 2012. Iloka turns 29 years old next week.
The Cowboys have agreed to a one-year deal with safety George Iloka, according to a source. Iloka met with the Cowboys on Friday and was the third safety to meet with the club during the week along with Clayton Geathers and Eric Berry. The Cowboys have... https://t.co/JB5nJLWepc
This isn't the safety that most Cowboys fans wanted. After over a year of pining for Earl Thomas, sights turned to Eric Berry after his free agent visit in Dallas last week.
However, it makes sense that Iloka would be attractive to the Cowboys. At 6'4" and 225 lbs, he fits the physical mold of what Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard likes in his players. He also is younger than than Berry and Thomas without the same recent injury issues.
Iloka becomes one of many Boise St. products on Dallas' roster, joining Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch, and others. He entered the league with college teammates Crawford and Kellen Moore, the Cowboys' new offensive coordinator, in 2012.
We'll have to wait and see how George Iloka fits into the current mix at safety with Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. He spent most of 2018 as a backup with Minnesota, but Dallas will likely give him a chance to start.
What to Expect from Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Group in 2019
In a span of a week, the Dallas Cowboys have solidified their wide receiver group with the resigning of Tavon Austin to a one year deal and the signing of former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb. Despite the loss of Cole Beasley, the Cowboys have a created a really good group of receivers for Quarterback Dak Prescott to throw to.
Cobb joins a really nice group of players that includes incumbent starters on the outside in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup as well as solid depth players in Austin, Allen Hurns, and Noah Brown. Throw in Cedric Wilson, the Dallas Cowboys sixth round pick from the 2018 NFL Draft and the Cowboys may have one of the deeper receiving corps in the NFL.
The question is, how will the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff delineate the roles?
Let's take a look.
As I mentioned before, the Dallas Cowboys are returning their top two options on the outside in Amari Cooper, who is the X wide receiver and Michael Gallup, the Z receiver. Both players will go into week one as the starters at their respective positions in two-wide receiver formations.
Despite some of the overthrows from Dak Prescott to Michael Gallup, Gallup had a really nice rookie season and got better as the year went along, even leading the Cowboys in receiving in the playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams. In that game, Gallup recorded the first 100 yard game of his career. Sure, it was in an attempt to comeback by the Dallas Cowboys, but it is impressive nonetheless. His touchdown catch against the Seattle Seahawks the week before was clutch. The Cowboys needed that to take the lead at the end of the first half. 2018 was only the beginning for Michael Gallup. He showed an ability to win with a full offseason to work with Dak Prescott, their chemistry and connection should only improve.
As for Cooper, his presence was felt right away as the offense just looked different once he stepped on the field. It's no coincidence that Dak Prescott's two best career games in terms of passing yardage came with Cooper in 2018. He's such a threat that he opens up space for the rest of the wide receiver group. His route running, speed, ability to run after the catch make him a threat to score any time he's targeted.
Behind Cooper and Gallup, you have options in the event that one of them gets hurt. Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, and Noah Brown are all players who took snaps on the outside for the Dallas Cowboys in 2018 and did so with effectiveness. Hurns best game of the year came just before the Cooper deal was made as he went for five receptions for 75 yards.
Tavon provided down field speed on several occasions and provides some gadget quality that the Dallas Cowboys love to have. Noah Brown is a player that the Dallas Cowboys love to deploy as a blocker in the running game. While it looked like he might get more run in the passing game in 2019, the depth additions will limit him again to a specialty role. If needed, though, he could be an option to take snaps on the outside as his big frame allows him to box out defensive backs down the field.
There will be snaps on the outside for someone when the Cowboys go to 11 personnel, because of Amari Cooper's ability to slide into the slot.
Obviously, the writing is on the wall with who the Dallas Cowboys are planning on deploying in the slot as things stand right now, and that's Randall Cobb.
While Cobb should be penciled in as the starter in the slot, I doubt that he's going to get 100% of the snaps there in 11 or 10 personnel groupings. Amari Cooper, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Noah Brown, and Cedric Wilson could all push for playing time from the slot.
Last month, I wrote a piece about Allen Hurns and his effectiveness in the slot and why the Cowboys should feature him there. With Cobb coming off an injury laden season, the Cowboys would be wise to give some snaps to Hurns along with Tavon Austin.
In Jacksonville, Hurns was incredibly effective from the slot running posts, slants, and ins and outs. His size and route running made him an effective mismatch against linebackers, safeties, and cornerbacks alike. Remember, it wasn't long ago that Hurns had a 1,000 yard season with Blake Bortles at the helm.
Tavon Austin's quickness is an asset that could be very effective in the slot as well. Though he lacks size, he's a player that opposing defenses have to account for because of his ability to make big plays once the ball's in his hands.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
The Cowboys haven't been shy about carrying seven wide receivers on their 53-man rosters and it's possible, though unlikely that they could do it again in 2018. As things stand now, I see Noah Brown and Cedric Wilson as the potential odd men out. Of course, this could all get reshuffled if the Dallas Cowboys use a top 100 pick on a wide receiver in the draft.
With Amari Cooper, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, and Randall Cobb only under contract through the 2019 season, the Dallas Cowboys would be wise to invest at the position despite the strength of the position in 2019.
Report: Dallas Cowboys Set to Meet with Safety George Iloka
As the Dallas Cowboys continue the process of building a roster capable of taking them back to the playoffs, and hopefully to a Super Bowl, this next season, they’re bringing in another safety to try and strengthen their top 10 defense. This time it’s free agent safety George Iloka, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings.
Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Dallas Cowboys are set to meet with
The #Cowboys are hosting former #Vikings and #Bengals safety George Iloka for a visit tomorrow, source said. They're still looking to add in the secondary.
It will be the third meeting this week that they’ve had with a veteran safety after hosting recently resigned Indianapolis’s colts Safety Clayton Geathers and former Kansas City Chiefs Safety Eric Berry.
The Cowboys feel really good about Xavier Woods at safety, but definitely could use some depth at the position as they head toward the 2019 NFL Draft.
Iloka is coming off a season where he was relegated to a reserve role for the Vikings. In five of the last six seasons, Iloka’s played all 16 games, and the one season he didn’t, he played 12. He has nine career interceptions, and has three seasons with more than 70 total tackles.
Back in August of last year, Brian Martin argued that the Dallas Cowboys should pursue Iloka after being released by the Cincinnati Bengals. He would play the strong or box safety role in the Cowboys defense if they were to come to an agreement.
Stay tuned for more Free Agency coverage from us here at InsideTheStar.com.
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
5 Realistic Free Agents Cowboys Should Sign Before the Draft
NFL Draft1 week ago
Hypothetical La’el Collins Trade Could Recoup Cowboys a 2019 1st-Round Pick
NFL Draft4 days ago
Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Cowboys Show Interest in Browns DE Emmanuel Ogbah
Player News1 week ago
Chiefs Release Eric Berry, Should Cowboys Be Interested?
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Sign DL Christian Covington
NFL Draft7 days ago
Dallas Cowboys Make Trades in this 7-round Mock Draft
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Dallas Cowboys Should Take a Run at EDGE Justin Houston