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Will Cowboys Regret Losing CB Brandon Carr?

Jess Haynie

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Brandon Carr

The Cowboys lost one of their most dependable defensive players last March when cornerback Brandon Carr signed with the Baltimore Ravens. Many fans were happy to see him go, never forgiving him for not living up to the massive free agent deal he got in the 2012 offseason. However, circumstances could quickly have fans wishing Carr was still around.

Carr not only never missed a game in five seasons with Dallas, but he hasn’t missed one in his entire nine-year career. He has started in every game he’s ever played since being a fifth-round pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008. He’s also been one of the NFL’s model citizens and philanthropists.

 

Brandon Carr

CB Brandon Carr

The Cowboys go into 2017 with a lot of risk at the cornerback position. Veteran Orlando Scandrick has had two years of health issues. Newly-acquired veteran Nolan Carroll was arrested in May for a DWI and will likely be suspended for a few games. The other key players are Anthony Brown, only a second-year player, and two rookies in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis.

I’m not saying Brandon Carr would never drive drunk or couldn’t finally get an injury that costs him playing time, but his history says otherwise. While never spectacular, Carr is always a solid and available player. As Jerry Jones reminded us last year in an interview, availability is one the most important abilities any NFL player can have.

It’s no surprise that fans turned on Carr. With only one interception from 2014-2016 and the highest salary cap hit on defense, plus the Cowboys general defensive woes, he was both an easy scapegoat and a legitimate cause for complaint. It didn’t help when he was on the wrong end of Odell Beckham Jr’s infamous one-handed catch in 2014, the closest a NFL player can get to being “posterized.”

Brandon Carr

CB Brandon Carr

Carr was never as good as his salary but also never as bad as fans made him out to be, and the 2017 season could easily have you wishing he was still a Cowboy. One injury, another conduct issue for Carroll, a sophomore slump for Brown, or a slow start for the rookies, and your Dallas defensive backfield may be in worse shape than last year.

Of course, Brandon turned 31 in May and that may have been reason enough to let him walk. However, another former Cowboys is still one of the league’s best corners and he’s about to turn 39-years-old. I’ve often looked at Terence Newman the last few years and wished he was still wearing the blue and white.

I just hope that circumstances in 2017 don’t have me looking at Brandon Carr the same way.

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Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I’ll be sure to respond!

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6 Comments
  • Franklin Jones

    Too often, when in a position to make a play on the ball, it seemed that Carr was just escorting the WR down the field and at the crucial moment took the wrong angle and gave the target room enough to make the catch. He usually made the tackle afterwards but had he followed the ball better he could have stepped in front and at least broken up the pass, maybe even secured the INT. I don’t know if it was flawed technique or simply a fear of getting beaten for the score, but he didn’t seem to take full advantage of the opportunities when the QB threw his way. I’m okay with his departure. We need better production from the position, especially in the NFC East.

    • Jess Haynie

      I agree that Carr had weaknesses. However, I also thought he actually played better the last two years than in the initial adjustment to the 4-3 scheme. There were a few games last year where he was really locking up his man.

      This isn’t really about Carr’s ability but more his reliability. I outlined all of the risk factors in the article, and having a guy like Carr in the stable would just make me feel a little more secure going into the season.

  • tom

    totally agree that we should have resigned this VERY DURABLE, NOT FLASHY but stand up citizen. I think the issue with management regretting the huge contract we gave him was part of the reason. but if you consider he played EVERY SINGLE defensive down, he was a much better financial return than Claiborne

    • John Williams

      Yeah, I’m with you there. Carroll was a dependable player in Philly though. Basically their Brandon Carr.

      • Colston Ballew

        Where he was constantly toast and led the league in pass interference penalties….now he’s a cowboy!! Thank god Jerry didn’t trade Scandrick!!

  • John Williams

    Carr was the definition of “Solid, yet unspectacular.”

    I was surprised they didn’t try to bring him back on a Nolan Carrol type contract, but it was obvious they were ready to move on.

    The only thing that made me okay with it was Anthony Brown. Had he not played the way he played, then I would have been more concerned.

    While you don’t want to rely on rookies on the outside, these seem to be some pretty good rookies.

    Best bet will be Carroll and Brown on the outside and Scan in the middle. Lewis and Awuzie will work their way in gradually taking snaps from Carroll and Scan and in 2018 you’ll see a nickel lineup of Awuzie, Lewis and Brown.

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Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

The Cowboys have just one more game to get through without their star running back Ezekiel Elliott, but Alfred Morris and Rod Smith deserve a ton of credit for the way they’ve been able to fill in out of the backfield for Zeke Elliott. Throughout the time Elliott has missed though, the Cowboys have lacked the explosive plays on offense that he can provide – until Rod Smith was given an opportunity last week at the Giants.

Smith complimented Morris exceptionally well, running with quickness and power to prove his case for more of a role on offense behind Elliott moving forward. It was the Ohio State product’s consecutive touchdowns of 81 yards through the air and 15 yards on the ground that sealed the game for the Cowboys in week 14.

Here is a closer look at Rod Smith’s performance from last week in this latest Sean’s Scout.

Smith3 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

The Cowboys offensive line was dominant as always against a tough New York defensive front, and this first play is a great look at their execution in space and on the move. Rod Smith’s decisiveness when hitting the hole with speed and balance was the first thing I noticed on the game tape.

The best thing Smith does on this play comes at the second level, where running backs can truly make a difference in Dallas. As RG Zack Martin rides his man out of the play entirely, he gets in front of Smith who is seeing the play develop straight ahead. With his long strides, Smith is able to smoothly get through traffic and continue accelerating up field through arm tackles for a big gain.

Smith2 – Streamable

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These same traits are seen with Rod Smith as a pass catcher – something he does effortlessly to also help fill the void left by Elliott. Watch how quickly Smith commits to his angle up the field after catching this dump pass from Dak Prescott, attacking a defender that has the angle on him after the catch.

Rod subtly leans to the right just enough to make the defender hesitate long enough to allow his burst to evade him and gain extra yards falling forward.

Smith4 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

Smith essentially does the same thing without the ball in his hands here, on his 81 yard catch and run for a touchdown. Setting up the safety out of the slot to be beat across his face, Smith separates from him at the stem and then does a great job getting depth on his route into the vacated middle of the field. With blockers to help him reach the end zone, Smith turns this busted coverage by the Giants into the game’s biggest play.

Smith1 – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

 

This last play I chose to show is probably the least well-blocked attempt for Smith out of the ones in this Sean’s Scout, but there is still a lot to like about what Rod does here with the ball in his hands.

The Giants might be a two-win football team, but they still have marquee players up front, particularly DE Olivier Vernon. Smith does well here to keep his feet moving as he cuts this play to the backside. Vernon does well to limit the potential gain on this play by staying away from the block of Jason Witten, as Smith is taken down by Darian Thompson.

The numbers the Giants had to commit to stopping the run was still a huge reason why Prescott had a career day throwing the football, and Rod Smith’s readiness to step in at RB was a deciding factor in getting Dallas to 7-6.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Proving to be one of the Dallas Cowboys most valuable players, considering his cost (under contract through 2018), and ability to contribute on special teams and offense, Rod Smith is the perfect RB3 for this team.

Smith is not elite in any one area, and is not a prototypical RB from a physical standpoint, but his contributions as a runner, pass catcher, and blocker could remain critical to the Cowboys’ hopes of reaching the playoffs behind this offense – even when Ezekiel Elliott is back in the fold.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Dallas Cowboys

Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who’s The Cowboys Real RB1?

Brian Martin

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Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who's Cowboys' Real RB1?

The Dallas Cowboys are less than a week away from welcoming back their talented Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, but until then they still have a game to play against the Oakland Raiders. That means we will have one more week of Alfred Morris and Rod Smith handling the workload, but which RB is sitting at the top of the Cowboys depth chart?

Unfortunately, this is exactly the type of decision that can end up winning or losing a game. Both Alfred Morris and Rod Smith have had their moments during Ezekiel Elliott’s absence, but neither one of them have really distanced themselves from the other. So, should Rod Smith or Alfred Morris receive the majority of the workload against the Raiders Sunday?

A Case for Rod Smith

RB Rod Smith and QB Dak PrescottRod Smith might just have had is coming out party last week against the New York Giants. Against their divisional rival, in what was a must win game for the Cowboys, Smith rushed for 47 yards on six carries and added another 113 yards through the air on five catches. He also found himself in the end zone twice, once on a rushing touchdown and the other on a receiving touchdown.

You may or may not agree, but I believe that “Lightning” Rod Smith was largely responsible for igniting the Cowboys offense and helping them pull away from the Giants last Sunday. He accounted for over 160 total yards and two touchdowns by himself and didn’t receive the majority of his playing time until later in the game.

Rod Smith certainly has traits that make him a more desirable RB over Alfred Morris. First off, he is a more complete back. He is better in pass protection and at catching the ball out of the backfield. But, he is also starting to show up in the running game and is averaging 4.5 yards a carry this season. His size (6’3″, 235) also makes him a better short yardage back, although I wish he would deliver more of a blow at the end of his runs.

A Case for Alfred Morris

RB Alfred MorrisAlthough there’s nothing particularly special that stands out about Alfred Morris, he has proven time and time again he is more than capable of carrying the workload. He has received the majority of the workload during Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension and has performed pretty well. In fact, he is averaging 5 yards a carry this season, which is better than any other RB on the Cowboys roster, including Elliott.

Alfred Morris has looked pretty good this season and is playing with more of a spring in his step than I have seen from him in probably his entire career. Last Sunday against the Giants he received the the majority of the workload and finished the game with 19 carries for 62 yards. Not particularly spectacular, but the week prior he did rush for 127 yards on 27 carries in the victory over the Washington Redskins.

Like I mentioned earlier, Morris is a tried-and-true RB in the NFL and is at his best when he can continue to pound the rock and wear down opposing defenses. That is what he did against the Redskins, but he has his limitations as well. Despite his years in the league, he still struggles in pass protection and is limited in what he can do in the passing game. But, he does seem to have the trust of the Cowboys coaching staff.

✭✭✭✭✭

Personally, I would like to see more of Rod Smith this coming Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. I really like what I’ve seen from him in both the running game and in the passing game. I just think he is a more dangerous and versatile weapon then Alfred Morris. His presence on the field really opens up what the Cowboys can do offensively.

I don’t mean any disrespect to Alfred Morris at all. I just think that Rod Smith has proven he is a more dangerous offensive weapon of the two. I don’t know if the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff will agree or not, but I truly believe Rod Smith could once again be the X factor against the Oakland Raiders.

Of course, both Rod Smith and Alfred Morris will have to take the back seat once Ezekiel Elliott returns. So, this discussion really only has any credibility for this week in yet another must win situation against the Oakland Raiders.

Who do you like better… Rod Smith or Alfred Morris?

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La’el Collins’ Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise

Brian Martin

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La'el Collins' Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise 1

The decision by the Dallas Cowboys to move La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle was met by some skepticism by quite a few members of Cowboys Nation during the off-season. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of those skeptical of the move, but I’m not afraid to admit he has exceeded my expectations.

In all honesty, I always believed that La’el Collins’ best position in the NFL is on the interior of the offense of line as a guard. I thought he could use his strength and athleticism to his advantage when working in a phone booth against slower and less athletic defensive tackles. That’s not to say I didn’t think he would make a good right tackle, I just thought he had Pro Bowl potential as a guard.

Strangely enough, Collins has probably put together a Pro Bowl caliber season in his first season starting at the right tackle position for the Cowboys. He has become an upgrade over the previous starter Doug Free, and is really starting to earn high praise from the brass. Stephen Jones in particular has been impressed with Collins, especially considering how he has played after missing two full weeks of practice.

Mark Lane on Twitter

DallasCowboys COO Stephen Jones told @1053thefan La’el Collins has answered the bell after his contract extension.

I personally agree with everything Stephen Jones said about La’el Collins. I’ve really enjoyed watching his progression this season, but I have been really impressed how he played the last two weeks after missing so much practice.

You might not of known, but Collins has missed two full weeks of practice due to a herniated disc in his back. This is put his availability to play against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants in jeopardy, but somehow he has toughened up and played considerably well.

This unfortunately will be something he has to continue to battle through the rest of the season, but I’m not going to bet against him playing. He absolutely makes this offensive line better and I would hate to see Chaz Green or Byron Bell back on the field after the way they played as feel-ins.

La’el Collins has without a doubt earned my respect and I think it’s about time we all recognize the player he is turning into. I know the Dallas Cowboys appreciate all that he does and believe that his recent contract extension is money well spent.

What do you think about La’el Collins?

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