Connect with us

Star Blog

Which Cowboys Veterans are at Risk of Losing Their Starting Job?

Brian Martin

Published

on

Which Cowboys Veterans are at Risk of Losing Their Starting Job?

The Dallas Cowboys roster looks pretty set from the outside looking in, which means there's not very many starting positions up for grabs heading into the 2018 season. This of course should be good news, but that doesn't necessarily mean everyone's job is secure.

Every season we see veterans end up getting replaced by younger/cheaper players. It's just the nature of the business and something the Dallas Cowboys, and their players, are well aware of. Even though the majority of the roster can be written in ink, there are still a few names probably written in pencil.

With that in mind, I decided to share with you a few of the Dallas Cowboys veterans who could lose their starting job in 2018. Continue reading below to see which veteran players I believe should be looking over their shoulder the remainder of the offseason.

Defensive End, Tyrone Crawford

Tyrone Crawford

Dallas Cowboys DE Tyrone Crawford (Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys)

Don't look now, but the Dallas Cowboys suddenly have quite a bit of depth all along the defensive line and it could end up being a difference maker in 2018. Unfortunately, that also means some veteran players could lose their starting gig to some of these young up and coming prospects.

DeMarcus Lawrence isn't in jeopardy of losing his starting job, but the other Boise State Bronco, Tyrone Crawford, should probably be looking over his shoulder. He has never quite lived up to his contract, but he has been a valuable piece along the defensive line these past several years playing both defensive tackle and the defensive end.

Crawford was asked to drop weight, so it looks as if he will be playing DE this season. Unfortunately for him, there are some young guns anxiously awaiting for their shot as a starter. Taco Charlton, Charles Tapper, rookie Dorance Armstrong, and possibly Randy Gregory (if reinstated) could prove to be a better option opposite Lawrence. By the way, this is a good problem to have.

Linebacker, Damien Wilson

Damien Wilson

Dallas Cowboys LB Damien Wilson

As things stand right now, it certainly looks as if Damien Wilson is on the outside looking in among the Dallas Cowboys linebackers. Sean Lee will without a doubt continue to be the starter on the weak side (WILL), but it's almost 100% guaranteed we will see new LBs playing in the middle (MLB) and the strong side (SAM).

The Cowboys drafted Leighton Vander Esch in the first-round for a reason. Despite only really having one full season as a starter at Boise State, he is an ascending player who is expected to become the starting MLB as a rookie. That means Jaylon Smith is probably going to push Wilson out of his starting spot at SAM.

Of course, Smith may be used in a variety of different roles this season, even as a situational pass rusher. But, that still likely pushes Wilson down the depth chart. There could of course be some kind of rotation like we've seen Rod Marinelli do with the defensive line, but that's yet to be seen.

Safety, Jeff Heath

Jeff Heath

Dallas Cowboys S Jeff Heath

Out of all of the positions on the Dallas Cowboys roster, the safety position is without a doubt the thinnest. This is especially true now that Byron Jones is finally moving back to his more natural position, cornerback. So, it's a little difficult to imagine much changing in 2018.

Without any new faces coming in at the safety position, except undrafted free agents, we can probably expect Jeff Heath to once again start the season. But, there could be a wrench thrown into the machinery because of the hiring of Kris Richard, the Cowboys new defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator.

Richard is a new set of eyes who might decide he wants something entirely different in his safeties. It's very possible Jeff Heath gets demoted and we see someone like Kavon Frazier take over the Cam Chancellor role and Xavier Woods play the Earl Thomas role. This will be one of the more interesting position battles to watch the remainder of the offseason.

Tight End, Geoff Swaim

Geoff Swaim

Dallas Cowboys TE Geoff Swaim

I know Geoff Swaim wasn't technically a starter last year, but he is the only tight end currently on the Dallas Cowboys roster who has any kind of significant playing time. With Jason Witten and James Hanna out of the picture, he's expected by many to step up and become the next starter.

Swaim may be sitting atop the TE depth chart right now, but I highly doubt his name is written ink. He only has nine receptions for 94 receiving yards in his three-year career with the Cowboys, which by no means justifies him a starting gig.

I think the Dallas Cowboys fourth-round draft pick out of Stanford, Dalton Schultz, has a good chance of outplaying Swaim and becoming the only TE to start for the Cowboys other than Jason Witten. He definitely has some big shoes to fill, but he will probably be given every chance to prove he's up to the task.

Which Dallas Cowboys veterans do you think might lose their starting job in 2018?


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.

Advertisement
8 Comments
  • Hammer33

    The author has been trying to get Heath to the bench for two seasons. It’s entirely possible that Richard LIKES Heath beyond what the press sees. In all honesty, the writer is purely speculating based on his own bias.

    • Brian Martin

      I’m actually a fan of Jeff Heath for your information. I do however think he could be in jeopardy of losing his starting job as I stated in the article. So, don’t try putting words in my mouth. Try reading more carefully next time because there was not one bad thing said about Heath.

      • Hammer33

        I’ve read your comments. Often. I wouldn’t put you in the Jeff Heath fan club. If woods can handle the FS spot he will be paired with Heath. Frazier struggles in coverage. If he can’t it will be Heath and Frazier.

        It’s a fact that the staff likes Heath a lot. Marinelli is a big Heath fan. Richard is the dB coach and passing game coordinator. He’s not the DC yet.

        It’s easy to speculate Heath will lose his starting spot. The reality is he just gets more playing time.

        I don’t have to put words in your mouth. They’re in black and white.

        • Brian Martin

          I don’t see Woods being paired with Heath. They are both free safeties, which is why Byron Jones played SS last season. And, I may not be the biggest Jeff Heath fan, but I do support him as a starter until an upgrade comes along. Also, we are going to see a lot of Richard’s influence on the defense this season. It’s already started.

          • Hammer33

            You may not see it. But the two starters as of right now are Heath and woods. According to the feedback I get.

            Byron was moved up because he struggles with route concepts in zone. They wanted him at FS and Heath at SS. It didn’t happen because Heath struggled at SS. Though in reality he did have issues at the beginning of the year.

            Also, Heath’s coaches grades came out pretty high. I think you along with all press need to understand how Heath is viewed in the organization. You assume he’s on the edge of the depth chart. That’s not the case.

            But I guess we’ll wait for the season to determine who’s right.

          • Hammer33

            And if you’re wondering where this comes from. I scout for his agent along with others. I do get some information I believe to be accurate since it’s based on current and future contracts.

            It’s not purely speculation.

  • winstar

    Agree with the first two depending on what we have with LVE, Covington and Lanning. Definitely Crawford…..send his ass back to Canada or Boise State. What has he ever showed to get the money he gets. Heath will stay even if it is only for ST. I think Heath has a little of Bill Bates in him. Swaim will have to compete but I think he is safe. Only TE on the roster with a catch……I think.

  • Will

    Agree on Craw. He should be cut already. Heath stays, Swaim could easily go, but Wilson is a decent ST guy, so he sticks I think

Star Blog

Can WR Noah Brown be a Surprise Starter in 2018?

Brian Martin

Published

on

Could WR Noah Brown be a Surprise Starter in 2018?

With all of the new faces the Dallas Cowboys added to the wide receiver position it's easy to overlook someone like Noah Brown. Everyone is anxiously awaiting to find out what the "new toys" can do, but they tend to overlook an ascending player who's already on the roster. That is exactly what I believe Brown is in his second-year and why he could be a surprise starter in 2018.

Noah Brown didn't have a large offensive role as a rookie in 2017, but he did show flashes of a player whose arrow is trending upward. And now that the Cowboys have revamped pretty much the entire receiver position, Brown has a chance to climb the depth chart and become much more than just a role player.

Noah Brown

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown

There is really no way of knowing exactly where and how the Dallas Cowboys plan to deploy their WRs this season. The only thing we really know right now is that Cole Beasley will once again be the slot WR. Everything else is completely up for grabs, which is why this could be the position battle to watch throughout the remainder of the offseason.

With Dez Bryant, Ryan Switzer, and quite possibly Terrance Williams all gone, someone is going to have to catch passes from Dak Prescott in 2018. Allen Hurns, who the Cowboys signed as a free agent, is expected to replace some of that lost production as either the X or Y WR. But, behind him there's a lot of unknown.

The third-round draft pick Michael Gallup has the skill set to also play either X or Y, and should be part of the equation as well. But, you never really know how these collegiate players will transition to the speed of the NFL.

That is why I believe Noah Brown has a real shot at becoming a starter this season. This is especially true with Terrance Williams recent off the field troubles. I kind of doubt he has a job much longer.

With Williams likely on his way out, Noah Brown moves up the depth chart. I believe he can immediately step in and replace #83's production in the passing game and as a blocker in the running game as well. We got a glimpse of him doing just that last season, which might be why he's getting first-team reps in organized team activities (OTA's).

Jon Machota on Twitter

Second-year WR Noah Brown got a ton of work with the first-team. Lance Lenoir did also

It's easy to forget, but Noah Brown was mostly utilized as a blocking WR/TE last season. At 6'2", 225, Brown is now the biggest and most physical receiver on the Cowboys roster. His blocking ability is what got him on the field as a rookie, but he's no slob in the passing game if given the chance.

Brown is already a solid route runner, but he has been working during the offseason with a WR Guru, David Robinson, to improve this area of his game.

David Robinson on Twitter

@dallascowboys NFL WR Noah Brown has been in the lab 🔬 grinding hard folks! Look out for this kid he is going to be dangerous!!! "Train Like A Pro" @BobbyBeltTX @BenRogers @1053thefan https://t.co/0cDY4BJJit

Now, I may be a little biased since I was a fan of Noah Brown's before the Cowboys drafted him. I actually had a fourth-round grade on him coming out of Ohio, so I was ecstatic Dallas was able to get him in the seventh.

But, despite my favoritism, I can really envision him becoming a surprise starter when the season opens up. He not only has the skill set to do it, but a year in the system could gives him an advantage over these new additions. It could of making all the difference.

Do you think WR Noah Brown be a surprise starter in 2018?


Continue Reading

Star Blog

Creating a Monster: The Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line

John Williams

Published

on

Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, offensive line

After years of building, drafting, and retooling, the Dallas Cowboys have completed their offensive line. And in the process, they've created a monster. The addition of Connor Williams in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft has reasserted the Dallas Cowboys offensive line as the best in football -- and it may not be close.

The team has been on this path since 2011 to create an identity for their football team that starts up front on the offensive line.

What transpired in the 2009 and 2010 seasons had a lot to do with the direction the team has taken over the last 8 seasons to ensure they were great up front.

Wade Phillips, Jason Garrett

Former and Current Dallas Cowboys' Head Coaches Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett

The End of 2009

In 2009, the Dallas Cowboys won the NFC East and proceeded to win their wild card game to reach the divisional round for the second time in three years, only to be beaten by the Minnesota Vikings 34-3.

What transpired in that game should have been enough for the Cowboys to address their offensive line in the 2010 draft as quarterback Tony Romo was sacked six times and threw an interception.

On the season, Romo was sacked 34 times, which is more than twice a game. Perhaps the wins on the season and the division title masked the issues the team had up front.

The Debacle of the 2010 Season

The team had lofty expectations heading into 2010. They had been to the playoffs three of the previous four seasons and, despite the drubbing at the hands of the Vikings, were still a formidable offensive team with some star power on defense in DeMarcus Ware.

Unfortunately, it was never to be.

Tony Romo only started six games and was sacked seven times in that span. Cowboys quarterbacks were sacked a total of 31 times, which would be right outside the top ten for most sacks allowed in the NFL in 2010.

Tony Romo went 1-5 in his six starts that season, getting sacked seven times in those six games before giving way to Jon Kitna and Stephen McGee for the final ten games of the season.

Head Coach Wade Phillips was replaced by Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett after a 1-7 start that culminated in an embarrassing loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

More Than a Coach Was Changed

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys on the Clock: Tyron Smith, #9 Overall

Dallas Cowboys T Tyron Smith (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

The change in coaching signaled a change in philosophy from a 3-4 defensive minded head coach to an offensive one who was rooted in the glory days of the Dallas Cowboys of the 90's.

Those teams were known for their elite offensive line play that set the tone for the rest of the team. They protected Troy Aikman, who is in the Hall of Fame, and paved the way for the NFL's All-Time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith.

The impact that the offensive line had on the Cowboys teams of the 90's can't be understated.

So in 2011, Jason Garrett's first NFL Draft as the Dallas Cowboys head coach, he convinced Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones that they needed to do more to protect their most valuable asset (Tony Romo) while becoming a team that could run the ball and control the clock.

With the ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Tackle Tyron Smith.

That selection was history making. It was the first time in the Jerry Jones era that they had spent a first round pick on an offensive lineman. A span of more than 20 years saw the Dallas Cowboys never invest a first in the offensive line.

Mission Accomplished

With the selections of Travis Frederick and Zack Martin in the first rounds of the 2013 and 2014 NFL Drafts, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line was complete.

Jason Garrett's work to make the Dallas Cowboys in the image of the Super Bowl glory days of the 90's finally came to fruition.

The Dallas Cowboys offensive line led the way for Running Back DeMarco Murray to lead the NFL in rushing. They protected Tony Romo to have the best season of his career, leading the NFL with a passer rating of 113.2.

Everything looked to be coming together for a team that went 12-4, won the NFC East, and beat some notable teams like the Seattle Seahawks along the way.

Then the "Dez Caught It" moment happened and we all came crashing back to Earth.

That season, though it didn't end in a Lombardi Trophy, was still a success as it created a template that could be successful in the NFL. As teams attempt to spread out their formations to throw the ball, the Dallas Cowboys, while still using a lot of 11-personnel, showed the NFL that you can still be a run-first, physical football team and win.

With the template set, all the Dallas Cowboys have to do is to continue to retool.

Dallas Cowboys Have Big Hole on Offensive Line

Dallas Cowboys lineman including tackle Tyron Smith (77), offensive guard La'el Collins (71), center Travis Frederick (72) and guard Zack Martin (70) huddle up in the first half against the New York Jets at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, December 19, 2015.(Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

Creating a Monster

Let's review how the Dallas Cowboys have collected this impressive group of humans to block for their football team.

  • Tyron Smith was the ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft. Though he started out as a right tackle his rookie season, he made the move to the left side in his second year and has been considered one of the best tackles in the NFL since. Back issues have slowed him down, but he's still in his prime heading into his eighth (!!!) NFL Season.
  • Travis Frederick was the 31st pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. A lot of the draft analysts around the league believed that to be a reach at the time when the Dallas Cowboys traded back to 31 to select Frederick. They don't think it's a reach now.
  • In 2014 the Dallas Cowboys, yet again, selected an offensive lineman in the first round of the NFL Draft. It was widely reported that if Ryan Shazier would have been there at pick 16, that he would have been the selection. Shazier's been a great player in the league, but I'm actually glad that they got Martin. He's considered the best guard in the NFL and will probably be so for the next ten years.
  • Right Tackle La'el Collins would have been a first round draft pick had his name not been attached to the murder of his ex-girlfriend. Instead of being a first round draft pick, the Dallas Cowboys, led by GM Jerry Jones, wined and dined Collins into signing a pretty nice deal for a UDFA. After rotating with Leary for a couple of seasons, he's now the RT for the best offensive line in football.

That brings us to the newest addition of what has been coined The OLuminati. 

Heading into the 2018 NFL Draft, the whole world knew -- or hoped -- the Dallas Cowboys would address the left guard spot early on. When the first round came and went, most of us, including this writer, thought they'd likely have to trade up in the second to still come away with a plug and play guard at pick number 50.

So when they landed Connor Williams while staying put at 50, Cowboys Nation erupted with joy.

Connor Williams is strong enough to play on the interior but comes with the movement and flexibility to get to the perimeter and the second level. Though he was good last year, Jonathan Cooper was the weak link because of his movement limitations.

Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy

I just watched season one of the YouTube Red production Cobra Kai, which follows the lives of The Karate Kid's main characters Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence as adults.

Johnny, broke as a joke, relaunched the Cobra Kai karate brand based on the philosophy, "Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy." While it's a harsh philosophy to be teaching a bunch of teenagers, it certainly has its place with the Dallas Cowboys offensive line.

This group has the attitude and the ability to ruin days for opposing defenses. They aren't just going to get in your way, they're going to hit you and go through you.

This group of lineman has no weaknesses and if we talk about the signing of Cam Fleming, now you have a guy that played tackle for the New England Patriots during the Super Bowl as your tackle off the bench if you need him.

No weaknesses.

The Dallas Cowboys are going to be able to run inside and outside and to both sides of the offensive line with regularity because of the strength, physicality, and movement ability of their starting five. Opposing defenses aren't going to be able to load up on one side of the line because of a perceived weakness on the other side.

With Ezekiel Elliott running behind them, who's shown the ability to stretch a play outside and make a big run or find a crease in the middle of the line for a huge play, this is the Dallas Cowboys running game that Jason Garrett has been looking for since he took over in 2011.

While they've had success in the past, I have huge expectations for this group in 2018. 1,600 rushing yards for Elliott if he plays 16 games should be the floor. There's no reason he shouldn't flirt with a 2,000 yard season.

Now, whether that leads to a Super Bowl Championship remains to be seen, but we've seen in the past that when the Dallas Cowboys have success in the run game, it usually leads to wins, and lots of them.


Continue Reading

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Pasará con el WR Terrance Williams?

Mauricio Rodriguez

Published

on

Takeaway Tuesday: What We Learned From Cowboys Loss To Packers
AP Photo / Ron Jenkins

El receptor de los Dallas Cowboys Terrance Williams tiene una tarea difícil durante este offseason: mantenerse en el roster del equipo. El sábado pasado , Williams hizo de esa (relativamente sencilla) tarea, un reto mucho más difícil. El receptor fue llevado a la cárcel bajo cargos de intoxicación pública después de que la policía encontró su Lamborghini estrellado con un poste y abandonado.

Después de salir bajo una fianza de $369 dólares, T-Will está bajo investigación y enfrentando un futuro muy incierto en su carrera en la NFL.

A pesar de despedirse de Dez Bryant en abril, el cuarto de los receptores está repleto de jugadores listos para competir por puestos en el roster. Williams, quien no ha podido practicar debido a su lesión en el pie, no estaba en una buena posición para competir por su puesto antes del incidente.

Ahora, con una posible suspensión de por medio, la administración seguramente considerara despedirse del receptor de cinco años.

Vaya que Williams no es indispensable. Durante el Draft, los Cowboys seleccionaron a los wide receivers Michael Gallup (Colorado State) y  Cedrick Wilson (Boise State). Semanas antes, el ex-Jaguar Allen Hurns llegó a Dallas. Eso sin mencionar a Cole Beasley y a un puñado de receptores jóvenes como Noah Brown y Lance Lenoir quien han volteado cabezas en los entrenamientos.

Francamente, no es nada descabellado pensar que aún sin el incidente, Williams no estaría entre los tres titulares en la semana uno. Para Dallas, una ofensiva con Gallup, Hurns y Beasley como titulares podría resultar muy efectiva.

A pesar de destellos por aquí y por allá, Williams no ha podido demostrar una consistencia que avale su titularidad. Una semana hace una recepción increíble, a la siguiente es incapaz de salirse del campo para parar el reloj o para utilizar sus manos a la hora de atrapar el balón.

Eso sin mencionar que cuando se le pidió ponerse en los zapatos de Dez cuando este estaba lesionado en el 2015, Williams no pudo hacerlo. Tal fue el caso, que cuando Bryant volvió a caer en el 2016, Brice Butler tomó su lugar.

Tanto Gallup como Hurns pueden ser receptores "X." Williams, lamentablemente, no.

¿El defecto de una ofensiva sin Williams? Sinceramente, lo único que podría salir mal para los Cowboys si se deshacen del veterano, es que Dak Prescott perderá a tres de sus objetivos que ha tenido en su carrera en una sola temporada: Bryant, Witten y Williams.

Sin embargo, todas las contrataciones de nuevos WRs se han realizado para construir la ofensiva amigable para Dak, ¿no es así? Cowboys Nation debe confiar en el plan de la administración.

Incluso antes de ser arrestado, Terrance Williams estaba en Dallas simplemente por su contrato. Por ser apenas su segundo año, para los Vaqueros (desde un punto de vista financiero) no es viable cortar al receptor.

Una suspensión de la NFL podría hacer las cosas un poco más sencillas, pues si está suspendido, el equipo puede olvidarse del dinero garantizado y decirle adiós sin dudarlo. La NFL no ha mostrado ser muy consistente a la hora de asignar suspensiones, pero cualquiera que haya escuchado las declaraciones de Williams y visto el video imagina que una suspensión llegará inevitablemente.

Si es suspendido, Williams seguramente no vestirá la estrella en el 2018. De otra manera, las cosas se complican. Pero si el equipo llega a un punto en el que no están interesados en traer a nadie al equipo y no están preocupados por el tope salarial de la temporada, no veo porque se quedarían con él si prefieren utilizar el puesto de roster en cualquier otro jugador.

Terrance Williams tenía una oportunidad de oro para competir por la titularidad tras la partida de Dez Bryant. Lamentablemente, parece que soltó el último balón que pudo haber soltado.

¿Crees que Williams esté en el equipo este 2018?

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: ¿Qué Pasará con el WR Terrance Williams?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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!


Continue Reading

Reader Survey

Want to help make Inside The Star better?

We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.

> Take the survey now

Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).




Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending