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

Brian Martin

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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.

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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

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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