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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
  • Nick Russo

    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.

  • Nicholas J Burrow

    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.

  • EverybodyTalks

    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!

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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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

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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

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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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