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Will Jeff Heath Take Over “TE Eraser” Role in 2018?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Jeff Heath Shines During First Day of Mini-camp
Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

Safety remains one of the biggest concerns for the Dallas Cowboys for the upcoming 2018 NFL season. While there are quite a few promising young players like Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier, the team doesn't have a clear-cut starter at the position, let alone two.

27-year old Jeff Heath will contend for a starting role being the player with the most experience at the position. Although it doesn't sound like an ideal scenario at all, it appears that will be the case for the Cowboys' secondary.

Since joining the team in 2013, Heath has had Cowboys Nation arguing and debating whether he's actually good or not. To be quite honest, I believe him to be a decent starter in the league, but nothing special. 2018 is the year to prove he's worthy of starting in the long-term.

With Byron Jones moving to cornerback full-time, it's time to wonder who will take up his role of erasing opposing tight ends? It's something Jones truly excelled at, being able to go up versus some of the best TEs in the league and win constantly. It's also something that he should stop doing if he truly finds his home at cornerback.

Ideally, he'll be helping on the outside or even on the slot and not dealing with tight ends.

Dallas Cowboys' writer Bryan Broaddus hinted at Jeff Heath taking up that role for 2018. During a live stream from "Somos Cowboys" with Ambar Garcia, Broaddus mentioned that as of right now, it seems like #38 will be filling that spot.

Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys' Defense Silently Shined, Jeff Heath Saved The Season 1

Dallas Cowboys S Jeff Heath (Cary Edmondson / USA TODAY Sports)

If he succeeds at it during training camp and preseason, Heath could be making sure he'll be a starter once the season begins. With his physicality and his athleticism, he should have what it takes to deal with opposing tight ends in a division that features Zach Ertz, Evan Engram and Jordan Reed.

He'll also have to prove his worth in the running game, though. When Jones was erasing tight ends, he constantly struggled playing in the box and tackling in the run game. For Heath, it's important he can bring the runner down and willing to make contact to keep executing this role.

Jeff Heath is without a doubt one of the most intriguing players on this roster. Starting in 15 games last year, and now with no Byron Jones at the position, it's his time to step up as a player and as a leader. Last month, I wrote about why we shouldn't rule out Heath as a captain candidate.

Jeff Heath has been an heroic player at times, like when he hit Derek Carr just before he could end the Cowboys' season last year. But how constant and how reliable will he be a starter in 2018? Hopefully, he and whoever starts on the other side of the field can do enough to calm our concerns at the safety position.

Tell me what you think about "Will Jeff Heath Take Over “TE Eraser” Role in 2018?" 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!



I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @PepoR99.

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3 Comments
  • John Williams

    I really like the versatility that Heath and Woods bring to the table. They both can play deep and both play a little man to man. I think their versatility will allow the Cowboys to stay in their base 4-3 more on early downs when teams go into 11-personnel. They can stay big to stop the run.

    • Sexcdex Xfact

      That’s ok
      Really it is, but we need to add one more dynamic piece to the equation here
      &
      Not necessarily Earl T

  • Sexcdex Xfact

    6yrs is enough to know if a player is a fit it no
    I like what Jeff has given us but I just feel Dallas is giving players like A. Brown & J. Heath a final lookover before trade deadlines & such, (worse case scenario)
    &
    For rotatational/depth purposes, (best case)
    Dallas need to cement this position as not to further expose an already exposed secondary/defensive back half of the field
    Flexibility is both our strength & weakness
    A very capable veteran and/or an outstanding 2nd-3rd yr safety is needed
    Why chance such vital needs in an era of rebuild
    We are thin in the safety position
    Dallas WILL address it prior to this year’s trade/free agency deadlines

Star Blog

Time to get FB Jamize Olawale More Involved Offensively?

Brian Martin

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Time to get FB Jamize Olawale More Involved Offensively?

The Dallas Cowboys are coming off arguably their best and most complete offensive performance of the season after playing the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, but there is still quite a bit of improvement that can be made. The need to get more playmakers involved is apparent, which is why I think it's time to utilize Fullback Jamize Olawale's unique skill set.

I know many of you will argue that getting Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup going is a higher priority, and you wouldn't be wrong, but Jamize Olawale's playmaking ability could be a huge asset for Quarterback Dak Prescott and the offense. I know it sounds a little strange, but hang in there with me for little bit.

As things stand right now, Olawale has only played 38 offensive snaps (10%) in 2018. That's the exact amount of offensive plays Wide Receiver Terrance Williams has played this year and he's missed the majority of the season. It's not exactly the kind of production I was expecting when the Cowboys decided to bring him aboard via trade with the Oakland Raiders earlier this offseason.

I don't know about you, but I was expecting Olawale to be more involved in the offensive game plan. He is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and isn't too shabby as a runner either. But, we haven't seen him utilized in either fashion this season and I think that's an injustice that needs to be corrected.

Now, I fully understand there are other offensive weapons ahead of him in the pecking order who need to see more targets, but I also really think he can make a difference maker, especially in the passing game. That is where his strengths lie, not as a lead blocking fullback.

Jamize Olawale

Dallas Cowboys FB Jamize Olawale

Olawale was a bit of a Swiss Army knife during his time with the Oakland Raiders. He played a little running back, fullback, tight end, and even a little slot receiver. I really thought the Cowboys would take advantage of his versatility in the passing game, but as of yet they have failed to do so.

I'd like to see the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan utilize Jamize Olawale's unique playmaking ability a little bit more on offense. I think they should try to utilize him like the San Francisco 49ers use their fullback, Kyle Juszczyk. He's much more involved and has played a total of 263 offensive snaps (63.68%) this year.

Juszczyk is a better lead blocking FB then Olawale, but that's not where he makes the most difference in the 49ers offense. He does it as a receiver and has already caught 17 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown. That's some pretty solid production from a position that is being phased out in the NFL.

Now, just imagine the Cowboys offense getting similar production from Olawale and how that would help open up things for everybody else. It's not out of the realm of possibility because the 49ers offense and the Cowboys isn't all that dissimilar.

Unfortunately, I think Jamize Olawale is pretty much an afterthought in the Cowboys offense right now. It's truly unfortunate because I think he can be a difference maker if given the opportunity. And with a division foe like the Washington Redskins next on the schedule, what better time to unleash a new and unseen element of the offense?

Do you think Jamize Olawale needs to be more involved offensively?



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Cole Beasley Key to Cowboys Passing Game Productivity?

Brian Martin

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Jaguars 1

What most of us already knew was confirmed last Sunday afternoon against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wide Receiver Cole Beasley is the Dallas Cowboys best receiver and is the key to the passing game productivity. He is not only the most productive, but the most consistent.

Cole Beasley isn't the tallest or the fastest and definitely doesn't look like a prototypical NFL receiver, but he showed last week against the Jaguars why opposing defenses have to account for him on every single play. He torched Jacksonville's top-ranked passing defense for 101 yards on nine catches and added two touchdowns, and it's that production that could help open up the entire passing game for the Cowboys.

It's painfully obvious Cole Beasley has been Dak Prescott's favorite target in the passing game since he took over the starting duties in 2016. Once opposing defenses figured that out they started to make things extremely difficult by bracketing Beasley in coverage and the passing game hasn't been the same since. But, that could be changing if the Jaguars game was an indication of what we might see moving forward.

Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan did a much better job of moving Beasley around to create favorable matchups against the Jaguars. I think we will see much more of that moving forward, but that likely means opposing defenses will once again try to take away Prescott's favorite target. That actually could end up helping the Cowboys passing game though.

Dak Prescott, Michael Gallup

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

If opposing defenses indeed try to contain Cole Beasley like they've done in the past, it should help provide more opportunities for Dallas' other pass catchers. Spreading the ball around to several different receivers would not only help Prescott and the passing game, but also open up the entire offense.

We haven't really seen much of Allen Hurns or Michael Gallup this season, but both are more than capable of being more productive if they are seeing single coverage more often. That's what's likely to happen if defenses bracket Beasley in coverage once again. Both WRs need to be more involved anyway and Beasley's recent spike in production could help do just that.

Now, if defenses decide to try and cover Beasley one-on-one like the Jaguars did quite a bit of last Sunday, the Cowboys would be wise to take advantage of that mismatch. He simply can't be covered by a single defensive back because of his precise route running ability. He is that good.

Regardless of how opposing defenses try to handle/contain Cole Beasley, he is without a doubt key to the Dallas Cowboys passing game productivity. Just the threat of him on the field changes a defenses approach, which is why he is Dallas' #1  WR in my book. He absolutely has to be more involved moving forward, even if it is as a decoy.

Do you think Cole Beasley is the key to the Cowboys passing game productivity?



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Star Blog

How ‘Bout them Cowboys?! Dallas Set to Lasso Redskins in Week 7

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How ‘Bout them Cowboys?! Dallas Set to Lasso Redskins in Week 7

Well, what do you think now of America’s Team? Anyone who foresaw Dallas’s evisceration of the league’s No. 1 defense hailing from Jacksonville is a downright soothsayer. In case you were in a coma this past weekend, the Cowboys obliterated the Jaguars’ vaunted defense to the tune of a 40-7 massacre in which Dak Prescott tossed for 183 yards, two passing touchdowns and ran one into the end zone for good measure. When the dust settled Prescott had chewed up 82 yards on the ground and Ezekiel Elliott surpassed the century mark in rushing with 106 yards and a touchdown of his own.

It was a glorious day to be a Cowboys fan and it’s safe to say that America’s Team is back!

Or are they?

Dallas is in a three-way logjam for the top spot in the NFC East with the Redskins and Eagles, but the way they made mincemeat of the Jacksonville defense gives us all hope that more good things are in the cards soon.

Seventh-year WR Cole Beasley blew the doors off of the Jags secondary by catching nine passes on 11 targets for a pair of touchdown receptions and 101 yards. It was a season-high for Beasley and the fact that Prescott has no real top-tier targets after the departures of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten makes it even more special.

This is a team that was not supposed to be able to move the ball through the air and, to be fair, hasn’t done much of it this season as evidenced by their 29th ranked passing game. But a little creative game planning by Head Coach Jason Garrett and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan paid dividends and the lingering specter of their heartbreaking overtime loss to the Texans in Week 5 was exorcised by the dominating victory.

What has gotten lost in the euphoria of Dallas’s week 6 win is their defense, as the Cowboys had three sacks, seven quarterback hits, and an interception by Jeff heath.

Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles was under siege and did not respond well to the pressure after establishing career highs in passing yards over the last two weeks leading up to this contest. But his opportunity to become the fifth NFL QB with three consecutive games of 375 passing yards or more evaporated in the heat of a blistering Dallas defense. Bortles ended the day with 149 yards, a TD and a pick.

As the Cowboys move on to Washington, we see that their success at home is only equaled by their struggles on the road. Dallas is now 3-0 at home and 0-3 on the highway. Buoyed off their stunning blitzkrieg of the Jags, we see that one of the most respected and trusted online sportsbooks in the industry, BetOnline has the Cowboys as 1 ½ point underdogs which is most likely a few points below what they would have been had they not won so convincingly last week.

Those who like to back up their football prognostications with cold, hard cash understand that Dallas is not only losing on the road but losing money for their backers in those contests. In those three losing games, Dallas is 0-2-1 against the spread but this week could be different. Against their divisional foes this week, Dallas is 4-0 straight up and 3-1 ATS versus Washington over the last two seasons.

The way this Cowboys defense is playing and the sudden explosion of Cole Beasley as a focal point of the passing attack, we could very easily see their first road win of the year.



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