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Will the Cowboys Regret Re-Signing RB Darren McFadden?

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Will the Cowboys Find a Role for Darren McFadden?

If the Cowboys going to the well one too many times with players that have shown flashes on the defensive side of the ball is like an all-too-familiar horror script playing in your head, I’m here to discuss an offensive player that could share the same faith entering 2017. With Cowboys Nation rightfully expecting the Cowboys’ offense to do big things this season, a concern remains at the RB2 spot – currently occupied by veteran Darren McFadden.

McFadden will turn 30 a week prior to Dallas’ season opening showdown with the Giants (again with the movie scripts on loop here), and has had an interesting two seasons with the Cowboys on his initial contract in 2015 and 2016, re-signing this offseason for one more year.

The “featured back” for the Cowboys’ 22nd ranked offense in 2015, McFadden silenced a lot of critics when he proved once and for all the Space Cowboys could elevate anyone’s game at RB. With his first 1,000 rushing season since 2010 with the Raiders, McFadden helped the Cowboys transition from DeMarco Murray – yet still use that season’s overall failure to recommit to the running game.

Cowboys Headlines - Rookie Watch: Cowboys Sign Ezekiel Elliott, 3 Others

Drafting Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick was absolutely the right choice for the Cowboys. The 2016 NFL rushing champion made his impact felt from the second he strapped on the star.

The Cowboys’ production out of the backfield didn’t stop with just Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott though, as Darren McFadden came back from his elbow injury to appear in the team’s final three regular season games. Garnering just 24 attempts, McFadden showed even more progress on his fresh start with America’s Team, as it was injuries that held him down through his Raiders career – but not in limited action with the 2016 Cowboys.

When the Cowboys wanted to take Ezekiel Elliott off the field, something they likely did entirely too much last year, they had the reassurance for a few weeks that McFadden could still keep the offense ahead of schedule. Running to take what the defense and his elite blockers gave him, McFadden was the right veteran for the job…for two seasons.

Now entering year two with Elliott (yay!), and year three with McFadden, the Cowboys would be smart to prioritize finding Zeke’s long-term backup to maximize their biggest strength sometime soon. The position was actually addressed in the very draft they selected Ezekiel Elliott in, with Darius Jackson being drafted in the sixth round only to be cut for McFadden to find the active roster, leaving the Cowboys pretty committed to DMC’s services in 2017.

Re-Signing Darren McFadden Shouldn't Stop the Cowboys from Drafting a RB

(AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

What happens if Darren McFadden has hit the end of the line?

With 1,303 career carries, Darren McFadden is 10th amongst active players, and older than two backs ahead of him in LeSean McCoy and DeMarco Murray. Interestingly enough, these two RBs are both outliers when it comes to how much their 2017 team will actually ask them to do – when compared to the rest of these names:

  • Frank Gore (Age: 34)
  • Adrian Peterson (Age: 32)
  • Matt Forte (Age: 31)
  • Chris Johnson (Age: 31)
  • DeAngelo Williams (Age: 34)
  • Jonathan Stewart (Age: 30)
  • Jamaal Charles (Age: 30)

To potentially make matters worse, remember that none of these aging player’s teams are as committed to the run as the Cowboys will be for a long time.

Getting Creative to “Replace” Darren McFadden

It is perfectly okay for the Cowboys that McFadden is not a long-term answer at RB. They realize this, and are only trying to get his production as a runner, blocker, and receiver to match the leadership and veteran presence he brings to Dallas for likely one more season.

I already mentioned that Ezekiel Elliott should own even more time on the field for the silver and blue this season, meaning that even a fancy new toy at RB2 would collect some dust.

Where the Cowboys do have a new toy is at slot WR with fourth round pick Ryan Switzer, who is already ready for a significant role in this offense. Sauce master Cole Beasley is going nowhere fast when it comes to manning the majority of the slot duties for Scott Linehan’s offense, meaning Switzer’s role will likely include plays where he lines up in the backfield (a HS running back) or takes jet sweeps.

Will the Cowboys Regret Re-Signing RB Darren McFadden?

STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer

Keeping an eye on UDFA RB Jahad Thomas out of Temple would also be wise, as his ceiling projects as a less-explosive but more durable and physical Lance Dunbar.

Thomas toted the rock 563 times in his Owls’ career for 2,599 yards – starting his final two seasons after converting to RB from DB as a sophomore.

✭✭✭✭✭

The Cowboys will be good at running the football in 2017, this is a fact. If they want to sustain their dominance on the ground through a season that hopefully includes 19 games, they’ll need a RB that’s not always hungry to give them some production – and Darren McFadden may not be that guy anymore.

Tell us what you think about “Will the Cowboys Regret Re-Signing RB Darren McFadden?” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Pleasant NJ, no we’re not how you think we are. Host of “Upon Further Review” on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL.

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6 Comments
  • Donny Cook

    I think you mean 19 games , 16 regular, divisional, championship, super bowl

    • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

      That is correct. Have no plans of watching this team fall short again haha – the article is updated. Thank you!

  • Randy Martin

    When McFadden played with the Raiders, he missed 29 games in 6 seasons and never played a full season during those years. His best season was in 2010 when he has 1157 on the ground and 500+ through the air and 10 TD’s. He never had a full season until 2014 and repeated that in 2015 as a Cowboy. When he played with the Raiders he was running behind horrible O-Lines and took a lot of hits. I personally think if he was playing in a winning team he would have played through some of those injuries but that’s just me. If not for his freak injury last year he could have had another full season which now brings us to 42 missed games in 9 seasons which is essentially almost 3 missed seasons in total. Because of that his legs are fresher than some 30 year olds. He has averages just under 13 carries per game for his career. I see him as the perfect #2 behind Elliot, a great clubhouse presence, and his pass catching ability can give us what we got from Dunbar, though personally I see Elliot during more of that with Switzer also getting catches out of the backfield. It wouldn’t surprise me if by the time the season starts Morris is gone, we have picked up a different RB before the season starts and Jahad Thomas is on the practice squad. But when the dust settles McFadden will still be the clear #2.

    • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

      Glad someone else is excited about Jahad Thomas, rooting for him this summer. Hopefully you’re also right about what McFadden will do this season, they’ll need him more than some people are willing to admit in my opinion. Thanks for reading as always!

  • Travis Diggs

    Regret resigning Mcfadden?? With Alfred morris still on the roster, shouldnt he be the regret?? Last time i checked Alfred morris barely even played the second half the season. The topic of the article is dumb

    • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

      Isn’t Morris just more reason to be worried about McFadden? As you correctly said, he’s behind DMC on the depth chart, which just puts more pressure on the player this article questions. Can he handle backing up Zeke, and do the Cowboys have anyone else in place if he can’t this season? All things I’m considering. Thanks for reading

Star Blog

Think Jason Garrett is a Robot? FOX Sports Agrees

Jess Haynie

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Jason Garrett

Cowboys fans have often complained that head coach Jason Garrett is too robotic in his demeanor, media answers, and constant clapping. Yesterday, with most of the country feeling Star Wars fever, FOX Sports tapped into the zeitgeist while also taking a little jab at Garrett’s robot reputation.

FOX Sports released photographs of several NFL personalities as Star Wars character. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady were Jedis.  Bill Belichick, surprise-surprise, was a the evil Emperor.

Garrett… well….

FOX Sports: NFL on Twitter

@AaronRodgers12 @CameronNewton @Panthers @Patriots Jason Garrett is fluent in over 6 million forms of communication.

From 2016 Coach of the Year to punchline, Garrett’s reputation has certainly taken a big swing this season. Things are so bad, they couldn’t give him a C-3PO with matching arms. Oh, the indignity.

Of course, this is all in good fun. Garrett has 12 and 13-win seasons in two of the last three years. 2017 could’ve been very different if not for Ezekiel Elliott‘s legal issues and Sean Lee’s injury. And even now, there’s still a chance the Cowboys can sneak back into the playoffs.

Yes, Jason is repetitive. And yes, he’s no Bill Parcells behind a microphone. But could they at least have made him R2-D2?

At least FOX Sports didn’t make him Jar Jar Binks. That should go to Roger Goodell.

Just for fun, what other Star Wars characters would you compare Cowboys players and other staff members to? Maybe Sean Lee as Boba Fett, hunting down targets in the open field? Or maybe Cole Beasley as Luke, since they’re both a little short to be Stormtroopers.

Have any other good Cowboys/Star Wars comparisons? Share them in the comments!

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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: ¿Combinaciones Para Playoffs?, ¿Juego Trampa vs Raiders?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Dak Prescott, Offensive Line

Es increíble pensar que ya estamos en la semana 15 de la NFL. Más increíble aún, los Dallas Cowboys que se fueron 13-3 con el sembrado #1 de la NFC hace un año, ahorita cuentan con un récord de 7-6 y unas esperanzas de pasar a playoffs muy, muy pequeñas.

El domingo pasado, a pesar de llevarse la victoria en el campo contra los New York Giants, los Cowboys no recibieron la ayuda que necesitaban alrededor de la liga.

Pero a pesar de ser pequeñas, las esperanzas siguen vivas. Y este domingo, los aficionados a Dallas no sólo apoyaremos a los Cowboys en el Sunday Night Football, sino también a otros cuantos equipos.

Para los Cowboys, ¿cuáles son las combinaciones necesarias?

  • Dallas Cowboys termina la temporada 10-6, ganando los últimos tres partidos. 
  • Que los Green Bay Packers pierdan un partido. 
  • Que los Detroit Lions pierdan un partido. 
  • Que los Atlanta Falcons o los Carolina Panthers pierdan dos partidos. 

En mi opinión, incluso con Aaron Rodgers volviendo al campo, los Panthers y los Falcons presentan el mayor reto. Y creo, que lo que deberíamos estar apoyando en este momento, es que sean los Falcons los que pierdan dos partidos.

¿Por qué? Porque este domingo, Carolina se enfrentará a Green Bay. Francamente, Panthers es el equipo que más probabilidades tiene de echar a perder el regreso heroico de Rodgers. Panthers también puede vencer a los Falcons en la semana 17.

Así que, mientras los Panthers no podrían ayudar perdiendo, creo que más bien nos podrán apoyar ganando. Sin embargo, los resultados de la semana 15 influenciarán mucho a quien apoyaremos como fans de los Cowboys.

Por ahora, estos serían los resultados ideales de la semana 15:

  • CHI Bears vencen a DET Lions. 
  • CAR Panthers vencen a GB Packers.
  • TB Buccaneers sorprenden a ATL Falcons. 

Claro, dos de estos resultados parecen muy optimistas, pero todo puede pasar en la NFL y sobre todo con equipos tan inconsistentes como los Lions.

Por supuesto que, todo esto no tiene ni sentido si los Cowboys no se van 3-0 en las siguientes tres semanas. El rival más fuerte que le queda a Dallas son los Seattle Seahawks. Con Ezekiel Elliott volviendo esa misma semana, será un duelo increíble en el AT&T Stadium.

En mi opinión, será el partido que definirá de que son capaces los Dallas Cowboys del 2017.

Pero primero que nada, los Cowboys se tienen que preocupar por un partido que puede resultar siendo un juego “trampa.” Un juego trampa, es cuando un equipo tiene una semana muy importante por venir (Seahawks) y subestima al rival (Raiders) que tiene enfrente dentro de los próximos días.

Sobre todo cuando es de visita, estos partidos pueden resultar siendo peligrosos en la NFL y realmente, en todos los niveles de football americano.

Fantasy Football - #FantasyFootball Hot Sauce/Weak Sauce and Waiver Wire Adds for Week 9 3

Oakland Raiders Derek Carr (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Y sí, los Raiders han tenido una temporada muy decepcionante en la que ni Derek Carr ni Amari Cooper han sido lo que se esperaba, pero Derek Carr es un QB que puede echarse al equipo a los hombros en cualquier momento.

Todos pueden tener una mala temporada, y ese ha sido el caso para el #4 de Oakland. Sin embargo, si los Cowboys mantienen el partido cerrado en el cuarto cuarto, Derek Carr puede demostrar que tan peligroso es.

Con jugadores clave como Khalil Mack, que por cierto tendrá una batalla épica con La’el Collins, es un juego que no es tan fácil como parece. Sí, los Raiders tienen un récord de 6-7. ¿Y? Los Cowboys tienen un récord de 7-6. Es mejor, claro. ¿Pero realmente es tan bueno como para pensar que será una victoria fácil?

Podemos criticar a Jason Garrett por muchas cosas, pero una de las cosas que no podemos criticarlo, es la motivación que le da a los jugadores. A pesar de muchos reportes acerca de que los jugadores “estaban molestos” con los coaches, definitivamente no han jugado como si se hubieran rendido en su entrenador.

No creo que los Cowboys pierdan el domingo. Pero esperemos que no sólo ganen en la noche, sino que obtengan victorias indirectas alrededor de la NFC.

Tell me what you think about “Cowboys en Español: ¿Combinaciones Para Playoffs?, ¿Juego Trampa vs Raiders?” 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!

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Is 3-3 Without Ezekiel Elliott A Win For Dallas?

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys 2017 Roster Projection: Preseason Week 2
Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s funny how quickly perception can change in the NFL.

A little over two weeks ago, the sky was falling on the Dallas Cowboys. They had just been blown out three straight times, twice at home and twice against direct NFC playoff competitors. Cowboys Nation wanted firings – whether that meant head coach Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, Rod Marinelli, or all of the above.

Dak Prescott couldn’t survive without Ezekiel Elliott, and all of the change made to the defense was beginning to be called a failure by the masses.

Fast forward to this week. The Cowboys have now been the deliverers of butt-kickings the last two weeks, and now sit at 7-6 with an outside chance at a playoff spot. And while the team looked like a complete mess without Elliott previously, a win Sunday would put them at 3-3 over the course of the Pro Bowl running back’s suspension.

And is that really all that bad?

Heading into the suspension, most fans probably would’ve taken 3-3 without Elliott and 8-6 overall. Most fans would’ve though that would put the Cowboys right in the thick of the things in the NFC playoff hunt. And most would’ve assumed we’d be happy with an 8-6 Cowboys team.

Unfortunately, 8-6 most likely won’t be good enough in this year’s playoff race. Especially considering the return of Aaron Rodgers and previous losses to both the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons. Plus, the entire NFC South has been fantastic this season (besides Tampa Bay) and two teams from the West look legit as well.

So maybe this just isn’t the Cowboys’ year. But, the success of other teams in the conference shouldn’t cloud our perception of what the Cowboys have done this season if they were to win Sunday night. A win over the Raiders this week would qualify the team’s handling of the Elliott suspension as a “success” of sorts (in terms of on the field, at least) in my opinion.

They would have kept themselves alive in a deep NFC playoff race, discovered a legitimate offensive weapon in Rod Smith, maintained a solid rushing attack over the majority of the six games, and allowed for some real growth from their young quarterback Dak Prescott.

I know the first three games of the suspension were awful, and a team with the talent of the Cowboys shouldn’t be losing that way three times in a row, or three times in a season at all. But, something should be said about how the team has weathered that storm, and kept themselves above water in this competitive conference.

But, of course, the result Sunday night could change all of this if the Cowboys come out and lay an egg in Oakland, effectively ending their season before Zeke even gets back. In that case we will more vividly remember the three horrific losses in which the team was out-coached and embarrassed. But, still those games should be remembered regardless of Sunday’s outcome.

So maybe success is a bit of a strong word.

This week’s game is not only a huge one in terms of the 2017 playoff race, but also may be an important one for determining what the 2018 Cowboys will look like.

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