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What Holes do the Dallas Cowboys Need to Fill?

John Williams



Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense?
AP Photo / Ron Jenkins

The Dallas Cowboys got a lot accomplished in the first two parts of player acquisition opportunities; the initial phase of free agency and the NFL Draft. However, they still have some holes to fill on the depth chart.

Tight End

With the imminent retirement of future Hall of Famer Jason Witten to join the Monday Night Football crew, there is a sizable hole at tight end. Sure, even I have spoken of the decline of one of the best to ever play the position, but that doesn't change the fact that he was the best player on the roster at the tight end position, even entering his 16th season.

Rico Gathers has some raw natural ability for the position, but hasn't earned enough trust from the coaching staff for them to consider him a viable long-term option at the position.

Geoff Swaim is a really good depth player at tight end, but at this point it would only be speculation to assume he could be a starter in the NFL.

The team really likes the potential of Blake Jarwin, who they signed as a UDFA after the 2017 NFL Draft, but at this point, we're still just talking potential. He spent most of 2017 on the practice squad.

Dalton Schultz, the rookie tight end out of Stanford, could very well be the guy to take the lead as he has very refined blocking skills from playing in Stanford's pro-style offense. Schultz didn't get many opportunities in the passing game, but that's not because he didn't have the ability. Stanford's offense just didn't throw the ball a ton in their run-first scheme.

There is some nice potential for the Dallas Cowboys at tight end, but they're lacking anyone with experience. I'd look to add a veteran free agent to compete with the young guys and see what shakes out.

Stephen Paea, Maliek Collins

Dallas Cowboys DT Stephen Paea, DT Maliek Collins

Defensive Tackle

The Dallas Cowboys went into the draft with David Irving and Maliek Collins as their primary interior defensive line players. On passing downs, that's a pretty solid twosome. Collins played through injuries in 2017 but was solid when asked to play as the 1T defensive tackle. Ideally, you'd play him at 3T.

They added Jihad Ward, the former second round pick of the Oakland Raiders, in a trade for Ryan Switzer, but he hasn't shown the consistency at the position to live up to where the Raiders selected him.

In his rookie season, Ward started 13 games and played in all 16, and registered 30 combined tackles. He didn't register a sack. His 2017 was derailed by injuries.

He has good size at 6-5, 295 lbs, but needs to develop his game and get some injury good luck. He could be another David Irving-like diamond in the rough for the front office. As a rotational player, it should allow him the ability to shine.

After those three, we're talking about David Ash, Datone Jones, and Brian Price. The Dallas Cowboys like to throw numbers at the defensive line to see who will flash and stick with the team. We all clamored for them to add a 1T defensive tackle this offseason, and they still can in the next wave of free agency, or after training camp cuts take place.


The Dallas Cowboys passed on the opportunity to add Pro Bowl Safety Earl Thomas when they declined the Seattle Seahawks' offer of Thomas for Dallas' second round pick. It's easy to say they should have pulled the trigger, but by keeping pick #50 and selecting Offensive Lineman Connor Williams, the Dallas Cowboys solidified their offense to be a contender in 2018.

No Earl Thomas only leaves three viable safety options on the current roster with the move of Byron Jones to cornerback confirmed by new secondary coach Kris Richard. Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier, and Xavier Woods are a pretty solid threesome at safety, but teams typically carry at least four.

Now, they could move Chidobe Awuzie to safety, but I think that would be a mistake given his play in 2017. He's an aggressive corner who will make plays on the football.

Jones could go back to safety in a pinch, but you want to be able to put a guy at a position and leave him there. Jones has been moved around a lot throughout his career, it's time to see what he can do at cornerback. For better or worse.

The Dallas Cowboys could still make a move for Earl Thomas. Until the Seahawks extend him or take him off the trading block, he remains an option for the Cowboys.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

As Stephen Jones and Will McClay like to say, player acquisition is a 365 day a year business. While the team looks pretty solid at the moment, the Dallas Cowboys still have some areas they can address, and it wouldn't surprise me to see them add veterans to address those areas.

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

  • Travis Diggs

    The safety position will be the difference between a top defense and a middle of the pack one

  • Travis Diggs

    No 8 sounds great in all but look at how many big plays they gave up. All the playoff teams had good safety play throughout the season. Xavier Woods and Jeff Heath are just not going to cut it, lets be real here

    • Chet

      I disagree. Both players played well last year and they will only be better this year. That being said yes I would love to see Earl Thomas in a Cowboys uniform. The Cowboys finished 11th in the league in passing defense last year with a bunch of rookies and first time starters except for scandrick.

  • Chet

    I disagree with your assessment.

    No expected Jason Witten to be a superstar when he was drafted. He went in the 3rd round. Swaim has played a lot the last few years including passing downs and has proven he isn’t a liability in any part of his game. Given the opportunity he will do a good job and so will Jarwin and the rookie. Gathers is the question mark. This is a running offense and if they make it to the playoffs it will be because of their running game not how well the TE’s catch the ball but I think they will do well in the passing game.

    We are in good shape at DT. I never wanted the Cowboys to draft or sign a high dollar DT. Collins is good, he held his own with a broken foot all year. He will have a really good year this year. Also, the Cowboys have Richard Ash 6-3 333, Brian Price 6-3 303, and Daniel Ross 6-4 325 as backup 1 techniques. Price and Ash both held their own as backups/rotational players and now they have Ward to throw in the mix. Not to mention UDFA Osborne 6-0 300.

    As far as safety goes… Would I love to see Earl Thomas in a Cowboys uniform heck yeah I would but Woods, Frazier, and Heath will do fine. I think Heath is highly underrated he runs a 4.3 40 and showed it several times last year. They also signed a S and a few CB’s that could be moved to S.

    The Cowboys finished with the number 8 defense in the NFL last year and they only got better in the offseason with the new additions.

    • Tommy Davis

      All the players you mentioned are below average NFL players, Ash, Price, Ward, Ross and Swaim, All have been cut or released by other teams. The exception is Gathers, and you listed him as a question mark which is rediculous. Gathers was awesome in the preseason but was not put on the active roster because Witten was getting all the reps. Gathers is so talented that the Super Bowl Champion Eagles tried to steal him away from Dallas a couple of years ago. In order to have a successful team you have to utilize your talent, an area where Dallas has fallen short in recent years. It was not until the losses started piling up last year that they started playing talented Jourdan Lewis, Xavier Woods. Removing slow footed, late reacting Jeff Heath from the lineup and inserting Awuzie and Frazier shored up the secondary. When D.Lawerence and D.Irving played together along with S. Lee and Jaylon Smith the defense became a formidable, talented defense. You win with talent, let go of the favortism and personal feelings which has hindered the Cowboys. There is enough talent on the roster to be a force in the division, it just has to be utilized properly. GM’s and coaches for teams like the Eagles, Falcons, Rams, Jaguars, are realizing this and are building winning programs.

    • Tommy Davis

      Jeff Heath never has and never will run a 4.3, not in this lifetime.

      • Chet

        He runs between a 4.38 and 4.48 40 per the reference above. He didn’t lose his job last year Jones did. Heath started throughout the year and was in a majority of the defensive snaps and played really well. He had a game winning tackle due to his speed and quickness.

        Also, Swaim was drafted by the Cowboys in 2015. Swaim played really well when Witten was out. Gathers is a question mark – Swaim is A LOT better TE at this point. Maybe Gathers will develop into a complete TE maybe he will never be more than a backup/special teams player he hasn’t done anything yet but pre-season games and training camp. So it remains to be seen if he will pan out which makes home a question mark. I hope he does pan out though.

        Collins is above average NFL player as a 1 technique and def as a 3 technique. Ash and Price play well when they get their opportunities. The Cowboys have 1 good 1 technique DT and at least 2 backup 1 techniques that aren’t a liability and possibly more with the UDFA and Ross.

  • Chuck Wright

    Dallas doesn’t really need “Defensive tackle”, they need a 1 Tech, that player who is between the C and OG and forces a double team, clogs up the middle. We got LOADS of outside tackles, 3 techs or 5 techs, we needed a 1, we could have had (this later in the draft) Tim Settle, Foley F UConn, kid from Tenn and POONA Ford. All very productive 1 techs in college. Yes sorry, I’m still ranting. . . but the draft was SO CLOSE to a home run

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez



Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Star Blog

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady



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

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.

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Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin



Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?

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