As if the offseason wasn't frustrating enough, the Dallas Cowboys have further complicated things by the way they are attempting to upgrade the wide receiver position.
First, they attempt to acquire Sammy Watkins through free agency, but luckily that never materialized. Then they sign not one but two free agent WRs, Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns.
Things have definitely gotten a lot more interesting and confusing at the WR position for the Dallas Cowboys. Surprisingly enough, it's looking as if things could get even more frustrating because the Cowboys are doing their due diligence in scouting this upcoming 2018 WR draft class as well.
The overabundance of WRs on the roster is of course a good and bad thing for the Dallas Cowboys. They can pretty much pick and choose who they want to carry on the team for the 2018 season, but that would mean making some tough decisions.
As a Cowboys fan, on the outside looking in, there seems to be no clear plan about how the Cowboys want to deploy their WRs for next season. The coaching staff surely knows what they're doing, which means we have to remain patient until decisions are finalized.
But until then, we can speculate and try to sort through the confusion in order to try and figure out exactly what the Dallas Cowboys have in mind for their wide receiver position heading into 2018 season.
Below is how I personally have the WR depth chart. I also tried to share with you what I think the Cowboys could be thinking with each player, plus my personal opinion.
The Dallas Cowboys still haven't really confirmed what they plan on doing with Dez Bryant, and the recent Allen Hurns signing only further complicates things. There has already been speculation that Hurns is Bryant's replacement, but apparently the Cowboys like the idea of keeping them both as well.
There are several things the Cowboys can do. They can choose to keep him on the roster in 2018 at his current salary, ask him to take a pay cut, or possibly extend him a few more years. They could also outright cut him if they are ready to move on and willing to absorb his $8 million cap hit this season. A trade is also a possibility.
As you can see, until the Dallas Cowboys finally announce what they intend to do with Bryant, the WR position will continue to be a hot topic this offseason. Personally, I don't think they should move on yet. I think Allen Hurns' addition will actually help Bryant this season.
Cole Beasley is another unknown right now. Many fans around Cowboys Nation have speculated that Ryan Switzer is ready to surpass him on the depth chart, which would mean Beasley becomes expendable for the Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys could save $3.25 million by releasing or trading Cole Beasley. It makes sense in a way because Beasley is entering the last year of his contract, but then the offense is relying on Switzer, who didn't receive a lot of offensive snaps last year in his rookie season. It's a gamble.
I personally believe it would be a mistake to move on from Beasley right now. He is the most "Dak friendly" WR currently on the Cowboys roster. But, he has a few things working against him though. The Cowboys can create more cap space without him and his heir apparent might already be on the roster.
There is no denying it, the Allen Hurns signing was a huge one for the Dallas Cowboys. His addition gives the Cowboys more leverage in any negotiations they may have with Dez Bryant, something they didn't have before hand. He's also an upgrade at the WR2 position.
The Dallas Cowboys pursuit of Sammy Watkins in the first week of free agency luckily failed, and it ultimately led to the signing of Hurns. Strangely enough, Hurns has nearly the same kind of production as Watkins throughout their careers in the NFL. Hurns however cost a fraction of what the Cowboys would have had to pay for Watkins.
I think this was a really good addition for the Dallas Cowboys offense. If nothing else, he is a WR2 upgrade, but could end up being the WR1 if the Cowboys move on from Dez Bryant.
I'm not ashamed to admit it, but I've been a fan of T Will, despite what the majority of the Cowboys fan base believes. I think he is underrated for what he does for the offense, but it definitely doesn't go unnoticed by the coaching staff. That is why they re-signed him last offseason.
Unfortunately, I think it's time to move on. As much as I like Williams, I didn't think re-signing him last year was the right move for the Cowboys. I think his skill set would be better suited in a different offensive scheme, but that's neither here nor there now.
I don't think the Cowboys will outright release Williams. It would just create too much dead money this season. A trade on the other hand is a possibility, although a small one. It would reduce his cap hit a little bit. I'd personally explore T Will's market value and try to work out a trade.
Ryan Switzer should be much more involved in the offensive game plan in 2018. It should have probably happened last season, but the Cowboys thought it best to simplify things for him as a rookie and make him return specialist.
Switzer's roster spot is secure. There is no way he is going anywhere and he could take the biggest jump up the depth chart. He has already shown how dangerous he can be when the ball is in his hands, now he just has to do it as a receiver rather than a returner.
I think he could adequately replace Cole Beasley as the Cowboys slot receiver. He doesn't have the advanced route running skills as Beasley, but he is bigger and more explosive. There may be a little bit of a drop off in production, but I don't think it would be all that much.
I personally have Noah Brown ahead of Deonte Thompson on the depth chart right now. I really like how he contributed to the offense last year as a rookie and wish he would have received more opportunities in the passing game.
Brown fits the Cowboys prototypical parameters they look for in their outside WRs and can do the dirty work Terrance Williams is so highly regarded for doing. He is still a work in progress, but someone that shows a lot of promise. I don't think it's time to give up on him just yet.
Not only can Brown provide depth at the WR position, but he has the skill set to play a little tight end as well. He may look like a WR, but he blocks like a tight end. That could come in handy next season, especially for a team who has a run first mentality.
Deonte Thompson has to prove himself before he is able to secure a roster spot. He does provide the speed element that is lacking from the Cowboys offense after Brice Butler departed via free agency, but he's still an unknown.
I believe he is an upgrade over Butler however. He is a better route runner and looks more comfortable catching the ball. It will be interesting to see what kind of role the Cowboys have in mind for him, but he's not exactly a lock to make the team yet.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys have a plan for their wide receivers?
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott Takes Accountability for Week 3 Loss
Despite breaking 100 rushing yards for the first time this season, Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott took the blame for Dallas' loss in Seattle yesterday.
A 31-yard touchdown reception was called back in the second quarter because Elliott stepped out-of-bounds prior to making the catch. Dallas would go on to kick a field goal, making the score 7-3, but Zeke's error cost the team four points on the drive.
Early in the fourth quarter, with Dallas trailing 24-6 but starting to find offensive rhythm, Elliott ripped off a 26-yard run. But the play ended with Zeke getting caught from behind and the ball knocked out of his hands, and the Seahawks recovering.
While many might argue the the Cowboys' inept passing game was the real reason for the loss, Elliott took full responsibility when talking to the media afterwards.
"I had a poor performance today," Elliott said. "Did well in the run game, but overall, I dropped the ball. That loss is on me."
"You can say whatever, but at the end of the day, when you've got the ball in your hands, that's the team in your hands," Elliott said. "Me being a leader on the team, me being a better player on this team, I got to do a better job of taking care of the ball. That cost us the game."
While Zeke may not have loved his leadership yesterday, these comments show that the 23-year-old is developing into one.
Last year, Elliott had little to say to the media. That was likely for the best, though, while he was embroiled in all of the controversy surrounding his suspension and appeals.
But now, a year removed from that issue and in his third year with the Cowboys, Zeke appears to have found his voice again. He is still the catalyst for the Dallas offense, and the highest-drafted player on the entire roster.
For a player whose maturity has been called into question during the first two years of his NFL career, Ezekiel Elliott showed a lot of it yesterday. Hopefully, it helps his team to regroup and get back to winning as the seasoning continues.
Sean’s Scout: Poor Execution, Timely SEA Passing Game Doom Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys have yet another disappointing loss to put behind them, or at least attempt to, as their struggles on offense carried into Seattle for week three. A desperate team in search of their first win at home, the Seahawks took full advantage of the Cowboys lack of preparation in the first half before capitalizing on mistakes to pull away 24-13.
The Cowboys dropping their second game in three weeks, both in similarly lackluster fashion, this will be a long week at The Star before Dallas kicks off against the Detroit Lions at home on Sunday.
Perhaps the Cowboys need not look any further than their next opponent to realize not all hope is lost for 2018. Like the Seahawks, the Lions were fighting to save their season yesterday, and did so with a home win against the now 1-2 New England Patriots.
If the Cowboys are going to reclaim their status atop the NFC East at any point this season though, some drastic changes are needed on offense. As always, here are my immediate notes on a Cowboys team that relied on their defense a few too many times in this latest loss.
- I understand the Cowboys plan to use heavy personnel on offense against a defense with as much lateral speed as the Seahawks, but once again the execution from their wide receivers and tight ends was very poor.
By inviting defenders near the line of scrimmage, the Cowboys were challenging their offensive line to beat the Seahawks off the ball and potentially create some big plays for Ezekiel Elliott on the ground. Elliott did find some success as the game became further out of reach for his team, partially because of his own miscues.
The Cowboys' offseason approach at WR is yielding no immediate results, but so too is their confidence in Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, and Rico Gathers to step up in the absence of Jason Witten. While Witten isn't the missing piece for the Cowboys pushing the ball down the field, their lack of a threat at tight end is a serious detriment to Dak Prescott.
An early second half sequence that really hurt the Cowboys in this game began with a Gathers false start, the team's second straight penalty. Byron Jones' holding penalty on a Seahawks punt backed the offense up to their eleven yard line, and Gathers' ensuing procedural penalty had Dallas driving from their own six.
The Cowboys would do well to earn a manageable third down, despite a predictable run for no gain on first and 15, but Michael Kendricks' sack of Prescott forced a three and out.
- This will do little to take the heat off Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan, but the Cowboys bigger issue on offense was execution compared to play calling in this loss.
Yes, execution is also part of coaching, which makes not only Linehan but the rest of the Cowboys coaches along with Head Coach Jason Garrett responsible for the team's floundering 1-2 start.
The Cowboys finally saw Elliott involved in the passing game on an apparent second quarter touchdown, only to have Elliott step out of bounds before the catch. Settling for early field goals with good field position is typically a sign that a team is in for a long day on the road, and this is exactly the type of afternoon it was for Dallas.
Adding another Elliott fumble and two Dak Prescott interceptions only provides further context on how well the Cowboys defense is playing, keeping this game within reach until the closing minutes.
The Cowboys offense is a house of cards right now, deliberately played by those that should have been held to higher standards as early as last season. With enough talent on this side of the ball to turn things around, the Cowboys must quickly figure out the right layers to peel away before discovering the root of their offensive woes.
Whether or not this ends up being Linehan, or if he simply becomes the scapegoat for a team that's never truly wavered in their commitment to Prescott, it's hard to argue with a change in philosophy for a Cowboys offense still searching for identity.
The Cowboys certainly weren't more creative in this loss, even on their deceptive pitch to Tavon Austin for his second touchdown in as many weeks. That exact play has been used by plenty of teams in that situation this season. With each successful conversion, more teams will add it to their arsenal - the Cowboys being the latest, with nothing to truly show for it.
That Tavon Austin TD? Yep, it's a copycat league. https://t.co/ggILr2TRGi
- The Seahawks first touchdown came as a result of two of the worst defensive plays of the year for the Cowboys.
After being a great blitzing team through two weeks, the Cowboys poorly executed an aggressive third down blitz with the Seahawks on their 35-yard line. The result was a 19-yard conversion to running back Chris Carson. Both Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith were picked up easily by the Seahawks pass protection on the play.
On the very next snap, the Seahawks' speed beat the Cowboys as Jaron Brown freed himself for a 16-yard touchdown. Of course, Seattle would never look back after this second quarter score to open a 7-0 advantage.
The Cowboys issues in coverage didn't stop here either, with Russell Wilson making the timely plays that Prescott left on the field. On Tyler Lockett's touchdown, pushing the Seahawks lead to 14-3, Kavon Frazier was beat to the spot in helping Chidobe Awuzie down the sideline.
Expecting the safety help to be there as it had been with Jeff Heath or even Xavier Woods (playing in his first game of the season), Awuzie still struggled to slow down Lockett, giving a below average cover player like Frazier no chance to get back in the play.
The Cowboys are committed to rotating their linebackers and safeties this season, and while the results have mostly been positive, they simply got caught with the wrong safety in the wrong spot here.
To make matters even worse, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas made these gaffs a "what could have been" moment for the Cowboys, turning the game with two interceptions against a team that may still make a push for his services.
Earl Thomas said a couple of Cowboys coaches said to him before the game, "You ready for the trade tomorrow?
- It took a rough outing from Chidobe Awuzie to be fully appreciated, but Byron Jones was able to show why he's the best cornerback on the Cowboys right now.
On a positive note, the Cowboys are absolutely being rewarded for moving former first-round pick Byron Jones back to cornerback. This was one of the first decisions Kris Richard made upon his arrival to Dallas, looking to bring the Seahawks model to the Cowboys secondary.
Jones size and frame gave him a great chance to succeed under Richard before ever suiting up, but his awareness at cornerback has been off the charts. As opposed to dealing with players already at full speed or at the catch point when he was a safety, Jones is embracing being able to break on the ball and make more plays.
When the Seahawks needed a play through the air, they picked on Awuzie, who was exposed a bit for his tendency to sit on deep routes and react late to anything across his face. To start the game though, the Seahawks learned quickly that targeting Jones was a losing battle, unable to get anything behind him.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Week three was a great example of how much the NFL is a week-to-week league. Before kickoff in Seattle, the Cowboys were perceived to be entering an easier stretch to their season. Now, the Seahawks look like a team that can climb back into the playoff race, as do next week's opponent in the Lions for the Cowboys returning to AT&T Stadium.
It feels safe to say that at least two things are true of the Cowboys through these trying three games however. The Cowboys defense is already one of the best in the league, with the potential to get even better. Meanwhile, their offense is objectively one of the worst.
Whether or not the Cowboys offense is fixable is a question this staff must answer between now and next Sunday. As mentioned, it may feel like a long time until then, but for a team with as many issues as Dallas right now there will be little reprieve from salvaging relevancy (or trying to) in week four.
REPORT: Cowboys LB Sean Lee to Miss Games with Hamstring Injury
Dallas Cowboys Linebacker and Captain Sean Lee will likely miss time with a hamstring injury suffered during the team's Week 3 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Lee, who'd hurt his other hamstring in Week 2 against the Giants, had to leave yesterday's game with a new injury to the alternate leg. His status was reported on today by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Hamstring issues also bothered Sean Lee last year. He missed five games in 2017.
As Rapoport mentioned, the presence of rookie Leighton Vander Esch now takes far greater importance. The 2018 first-round pick looked good yesterday in relief of Sean, registering 11 tackles.
Another season of injury problems could put Lee's future with the Cowboys in jeopardy. In fact, it may only cement what was already a strong possibility.
Sean can be released next season for about $7 million in salary cap savings, and his replacement is already on the roster.
Lee is still a top NFL linebacker when healthy. But "when healthy" has been said far too often, and the Cowboys used their first-round pick this year to prepare for such a problem.
We'll see how long the 32-year-old has to sit out, and what impact that has on his career going forward.
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