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Where Have Cowboys Upgraded the Most This Offseason?

Brian Martin

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Where Have Cowboys Upgraded the Most This Offseason?

The Dallas Cowboys 2017 season didn't go as they had planned in large part due to unforeseen injuries to key players and unfortunate suspensions to others. These two things alone derailed what was supposed to be a big year for the Cowboys and would have an impact on their approach to the offseason.

Unfortunately, the Dallas Cowboys depth at several positions, or lack thereof, was exposed due to the two problem areas mentioned above. The organization definitely needed to make some changes if they wanted to become a better ball team in 2018, which is why the moves they made in both free agency and in the draft are so important.

It's a little too early to know exactly how these new faces will fit in, but I think the Dallas Cowboys did an excellent job of addressing some problem areas. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you exactly which positions I believed they upgraded the most this offseason.

Swing Tackle

Cameron Fleming

Dallas Cowboys OT Cameron Fleming

The Dallas Cowboys were dead set on upgrading the swing tackle position heading into the offseason and did just that by signing free agent Cameron Fleming. This could turn out to be the Cowboys most important move this offseason, especially with the concerns with Tyron Smith's ongoing back issues.

Tyron Smith has stated that his back is feeling better now than it has in years past, but the Cowboys now have a better insurance policy in place if worse comes to worse. Fleming can play on both the right or left side, something he did with the New England Patriots, which will please fans because I believe they have seen enough of Chaz Green.

Left Guard

Connor Williams

Dallas Cowboys LG Connor Williams

The left guard position was the weak link on the Cowboys offensive line last season and was in desperate need of upgrading. Dallas brought in free-agent Marcus Martin and re-signed Joe Looney to provide depth, but neither would probably be an upgrade.

Fortunately, the Dallas Cowboys ability to remain patient in the 2018 NFL Draft paid off in a big way in the second-round when Connor Williams fell right in the lap. Williams played left tackle at the University of Texas, but will be asked to kick inside to guard in the NFL. He will likely be the Cowboys LG in 2018, but also has the versatility to play LT as well.

Running Back

Rod Smith

Dallas Cowboys RB Rod Smith

The biggest upgrade to the Dallas Cowboys running back position is the fact Ezekiel Elliott has had an entire offseason without any problems or anything hanging over his head. He will be out to prove something in 2018 and I can't wait to see him run with a renewed energy, something that was lacking last season. Elliott of course will handle the majority of the workload, but the depth behind him looks to be much improved.

No offense to Alfred Morris, but Rod Smith clearly outperformed him last season, which is why he will be the RB2. Then, Bo Scarbrough provides another physical runner to the mix, but will likely earn his living on special teams to begin with. Don't forget about Tavon Austin's addition. He will become the change of pace/receiving RB and could really add some much-needed speed to the offense.

Wide Receiver

Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post)

The Dallas Cowboys were focused on improving the wide receiver position after they drastically underperformed in 2017. They've certainly done their due diligence in trying to upgrade the position by investing in a couple of free agents and draft picks, but from the outside looking in it doesn't look like enough.

Personally, I believe the passing game will be much better in 2018. I really have high hopes for Michael Gallup, the Cowboys third-round draft pick. I believe Gallup will end up being the best WR on the roster by the end of the season. I also think Allen Hurns can adequately replace Dez Bryant's production. All in all, it may not look like the Cowboys have done enough, but I think they have upgraded the WR position.

Cornerback

Byron Jones

Dallas Cowboys CB Byron Jones

The Dallas Cowboys didn't add any new cornerbacks through free agency or the draft, but I still believe the position upgraded. Not only will rookies Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie be much more prepared in 2018, but Byron Jones' move to CB strengthens the position in my opinion.

A lot of fans have been down on Byron Jones since he was drafted in the first-round a few seasons ago, but I think he has been missed used during that time. I always thought Jones' best position was CB and I think he will prove that this year. And, when you have Anthony Brown, a former starter, as your fourth CB, your depth is pretty good.

Defensive End

Randy Gregory, Eagles

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory (Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)

DeMarcus Lawrence was a one-man wrecking crew in 2017 and I don't see any reason why he can't pick up where he left off in 2018. Fortunately, things could become much more easy for him this season due to the addition of Dorance Armstrong and a few reinforcements coming back from injuries and suspensions.

I really like what I've seen from Armstrong. He will be a good rotational piece as a rookie, but it's the return of Charles Tapper and Randy Gregory that could improve the pass rush the most. Both are talented players that have yet to live up to their abilities. And, that's not even mentioning Taco Charlton, who should be much improved after finishing his rookie season on a high note.

Where do you think the Dallas Cowboys upgraded the most?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Nick Russo

    May 8, 2018 at 11:17 am

    As usual, I strongly agree with your article. I especially appreciate the comments about rod smith and Charles tapper, as I feel they are much better than they sometimes get credit for. Smith had a chance to prove it last year, and tapper was getting a ton of pressure albeit in the two games he played. I agree with the Byron jones outlook as well and think having a trio of jones and chido outside with Lewis in the slot will be formidable. I really like what the front office has done with the roster. They have been able to re-tool and create a young talented roster without having to fully blow things up I.e Seattle.

  2. Nicholas J Burrow

    May 8, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    If cowboys can sign McClain and get Gregory back, look out! With a rotation of Lawrence,Gregory, Taco, Armstrong, and Tapper; and Irving, Collions, McClain, Crawford, and Ward/Ealy/Jones….. Cowboys pressure issues will be their new strength.
    I would like to see the McClain signing, as well as signing Navarro Bowman, and a trade for Earl Thomas for a 2nd round.

  3. EverybodyTalks

    May 9, 2018 at 10:35 pm

    The Offensive line is solid and has a good 2nd string.It’s almost like triple redundancy.
    RB looks scary with Olawale and the Austin additions. I didn’t even mention Rod, Bo and Zeke.
    WRs is a candy store. Gallup, Hurns, Wilson with Twill, Bease, Noah, Deonte – 1 to many and I feels like I forgot one.
    CB – all you have to know is they didn’t draft one.
    DE – so many my head hurts from the potential.
    In the movie JAWS, the sheriff said, “We’re gonna need a BIGGER boat!!”
    In Dallas, we are going to need a BIGGER roster!

    Brian, a great article that makes you stop and think….Keep ’em coming. Thanks!

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Star Blog

What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?

Kevin Brady

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.

Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.

They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?

Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.

Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.

Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.

Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.

Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.

This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.

The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.



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Star Blog

3 Things We Learned About The Dallas Cowboys In 2018

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

Coming into the 2018 season, loads of questions surrounded the Dallas Cowboys and the future of their roster.

Could their defense stay intact when the annual Sean Lee injury occurred? Was Kris Richard going to lead the Cowboys young secondary to places we thought they could be? And would Dak Prescott earn a contact extension and become the official franchise quarterback of America's Team.

Of course, there are tons of other questions that may have gone unanswered, but these three critical areas seem to find clarity in 2018.

Leighton Vander Esch And Jaylon Smith Are Legit

The Dallas Cowboys caught a lot of flack for their selection both of these linebackers, each for different reasons.

When they snagged Jaylon Smith in the second round of the 2016 draft, it was still unknown to the public if Smith could ever even play football again. When they took Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall last April, fans questioned how valuable an off-ball linebacker would be on a defense that already had Sean Lee.

Well, after their first full season together, it's easy to say that both Vander Esch and Smith are the linebacker options of the future in Dallas. Named to the Pro Bowl during his rookie season, Vander Esch took the world by storm in 2018. When Lee went down, he was there to not only fill his shoes, but to outplay the veteran all year long.

What is fun to consider is that as good as Vander Esch was this season, Jaylon Smith might be even better. Both posses insane sideline to sideline pursuit ability, and are some of the surest tacklers in all of football.

Watching these two grow together will be a pleasure over the coming seasons.

Their Young Secondary Is Coming Together

Like their linebackers, the Dallas Cowboys secondary is a young group, who fans are excited to watch grow throughout the years. It seemed like more pressure sat on the shoulders of young cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie than of Smith and Vander Esch, however.

With Kris Richard joining the staff and making the decision to move Jones to cornerback full time, it was do-or-die for the former first round pick. Byron Jones answered all the doubters, earning not only a Pro Bowl selection but also First Team All Pro honors for his performance.

Opposite him, Awuzie had a rough start to his sophomore campaign. While typically right there in coverage, wide outs too often made contested catches over him. Over the final few weeks of the year, however, that changed and Awuzie played some of the best football yet.

Xavier Woods, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis (in much fewer snaps) all had fantastic seasons as well, giving the Cowboys great hope and confidence in their secondary moving forward. They may need to add another safety during the offseason, however, though Jeff Heath remains more than just a viable option.

Dak Prescott Is Here To Stay

Whether or not you think it's justified, Dak Prescott is the quarterback of the future in Dallas. And he earned that right the back-half of 2018 and during the postseason. After a shaky start to his 3rd season, Prescott turned things around nicely, leading the Cowboys to a 7-1 finish to the regular season.

Prescott played the best football of his young career down the stretch, and showed just how valuable he is both on the field and in the locker room. It seemed like every game he made 2-3 winning plays that put the Cowboys over the top that afternoon.

Dak is going to get a contract extension, and will be locked in as a Cowboy for the foreseeable future, and with the way he played the final 10 games of his season, I can't second guess this decision much at all.



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Star Blog

Jason Garrett Can’t be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?

Brian Martin

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Jason Garrett Can't be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?

One of the few positives most of us were looking forward to after the Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams was the fact that Scott Linehan would no longer be the offensive coordinator for America's Team. Everything was pointing to his dismissal, but that may not be the case according to Head Coach Jason Garrett.

Todd Archer on Twitter

Jason Garrett said on 105.3 The Fan that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will return in 2019. "We don't anticipate any significant changes on our staff," Garrett said.

I can't say that I was happy upon learning Jason Garrett plans on retaining Scott Linehan as the Cowboys OC in 2019. In fact, my first thought was… Well, something better left unsaid. I'm sure many of you can kind of read my mind, because I'm pretty positive you had all that the same thoughts running through your head as well.

In all honesty, I didn't think there was a snowball chance in hell Scott Linehan would return to Dallas after the conclusion of the 2018 season. After all, the Cowboys nearly fired him during the bye week earlier this season, meaning his job security was already on thin ice. He didn't do anything to improve things in my opinion.

I know Jason Garrett has said Scott Linehan will return as the OC in 2019, but not for a second do I believe it. We are less than 72 hours hours removed from the Cowboys exit from the playoffs and I highly doubt any of Dallas' decision-makers has had the time to sit down and discuss who stays and who goes. In fact, I know they haven't.

Jeff Cavanaugh on Twitter

Stephen Jones says they won't comment on anything with coaching staff but that they need to take a deep look at why they fell short. Says it a little early to speculate about players or coaches. They haven't had a meeting about it yet.

I think once the Cowboys brass sits down and reevaluates the 2018 season, they will come to the conclusion they can do better than Scott Linehan as their offensive coordinator. There were just too many times throughout the season where the playcalling was a problem just. It's just time to move on, despite the vote of confidence by Jason Garrett.

Of course, this could just be me trying to read between the lines hoping and praying Scott Linehan is finally fired. Like many of you, I've grown way too tired of his predictable and dated playcalling. It's time to move on and find someone more innovative who can maximize the talent the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster, much like Kris Richard did with the defense.

You can either choose to believe Jason Garrett or not. I for one have a hard time seeing the Dallas Cowboys staying status quo with their coaching staff, especially their offensive coordinator. But, only time will tell.

Do you think it's time for the Dallas Cowboys to fire Scott Linehan?



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