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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

Is WR Cole Beasley Being Underutilized?

Brian Martin

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Is WR Cole Beasley Being Underutilized?

Like any competitor, Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Cole Beasley wants to play and be as heavily involved as possible when the lights come on and the game is on the line. He's become accustomed to to being heavily involved in the game plan, that is until WR Amari Cooper arrived in Dallas.

Since the arrival of Amari Cooper, Cole Beasley has seen his offensive role dramatically reduced. He is no longer Quarterback Dak Prescott's favorite target in the passing game and it even looks as if he is taken a stumble down the Cowboys WR depth chart. At best, he is their WR3 now behind Cooper and Michael Gallup.

That's quite a fall from grace for a player who was Dallas' top receiver the last few seasons and the most targeted in the first half of this year. I can almost guarantee he's not happy about not being utilized more in the passing game, but he's a team player and will do what it takes to win.

Unfortunately for Beasley, Cooper's arrival has changed the Cowboys offense. He is back to his old role of working the short intermediate routes now with Cooper and Gallup playing on the outside. Because of that his stats have taken a hit. His targets, receptions, and the chance to help his team win has dropped off significantly.

Cole Beasley

Dallas Cowboys WR Cole Beasley

In the two games before Cooper joined the team, Beasley had 16 receptions for 157 yards and two touchdowns on 19 targets. The six games since he only has 17 catches for 138 yards on 26 targets. That's a huge drop in production and has nothing to do with his performance. It's how he's being utilized.

Beasley has been forced to take a backseat in the Cowboys aerial attack. Amari Cooper has been highly targeted, and rightfully so, and Michael Gallup is seeing more passes thrown his way as well. Not to mention, Ezekiel Elliott has been used more as a receiver also.

There are just too many mouths to feed and unfortunately Cole Beasley is the odd man out. The sad thing is, that might not change anytime soon with the way the Cowboys offense is playing right now. It's one of the reasons why they currently have the league's best winning streak going for them.

It's to hard make an argument for Beasley receiving more looks in the passing game with the way the offense is playing, with the exception of in the red zone, but I do believe he needs to be more involved. After all, he is still one of the Cowboys best WRs and can't be covered by anyone in the league one-on-one.

I don't know about you, but I'm hoping things will circle back around and he will once again be more involved in the passing game. His ability to get open is uncanny and it's a shame to not take advantage of that God-given gift.

What do you think, should Cole Beasley start being utilized more?



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Star Blog

Time to see What Darius Jackson can do as Zeke’s Backup?

Brian Martin

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Will RB Darius Jackson Stick With Cowboys Second Time Around?

I hate to say it because I really like Rod Smith, but I think it may be time for the Dallas Cowboys to reevaluate the running back position as it pertains to Ezekiel Elliott's primary backup. Smith just hasn't been good this year, which is why I think it may be time to see what Darius Jackson can do if given the opportunity.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting the Dallas Cowboys move on from Rod Smith or demote him right now, but I would promote Darius Jackson from the practice squad to the active roster as insurance in case something were to happen to Zeke. It just seems the right time to make that move after #21's injury scare Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia Eagles.

You may have forgotten, but Ezekiel Elliott had to spend some time in the medical tent Sunday against the Eagles. He was luckily able to return to the game not long after, but it did shine a spotlight on Rod Smith and the lack of depth behind him.

Despite how much I like Rod Smith, and I do, he just hasn't been the same player this season as he was last year as Zeke's fill-in. He is just not running with any kind of authority and has been too apt to run east and west instead of north and south. I think it's one of the reasons why the Cowboys have continued to give Zeke such a heavy workload, despite him being banged up.

Rod Smith

Dallas Cowboys RB Rod Smith

Now, Rod Smith did look a little better against the Eagles, but I still believe it would be wise for the Cowboys to promote Darius Jackson to the active roster. Having more depth at such a physically demanding position is just smart football.

With the Dallas Cowboys playoff spot all but secured, it might be time to start thinking about lightening Ezekiel Elliott's workload just a little bit. Whether it's Rod Smith or Darius Jackson, the Cowboys have to find someone who can step in and be productive.

Rod Smith has had his opportunities this year, but hasn't really been able to capitalize like we believed he could. It might be time to turn to Darius Jackson, a fan favorite, who unfortunately just hasn't been able to prove what he can do as of yet in a meaningful game. I think it's time we change that.

As much as I like Rod Smith, I might like Darius Jackson just a little bit more. I think he is kind of like a poor man's Ezekiel Elliott. He is just as athletically gifted and can be a threat as both a runner and a receiver out of the backfield. He just needs the opportunity to prove it.

There's really no way of knowing if I'm right or wrong about this, but I believe he is worthy of a roster spot on game day if nothing else. I'd rather have him and not need him then need him and not have him.

Do you think it's time to see what Darius Jackson can do?



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Star Blog

Cowboys Lassoing NFC East Title as NFC Dark Horse

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Cowboys Lassoing NFC East Title as NFC Dark Horse

Well don’t look now but the Dallas Cowboys are in control of their division and anything short of a catastrophic collapse will see them hosting the first round of the playoffs. Dallas strengthened their grip on the NFC East by knocking off a divisional rival and the reigning Super Bowl champions with a 29-23 overtime win over the Eagles.

Those who have a favorite online sportsbook and wagered on the Cowboys were ecstatic to see Dak Prescott hit Amari Cooper for a 15-yard touchdown pass in overtime, thus covering the 3 ½ point impost that oddsmakers hung on Dallas.

The Cowboys have now won five consecutive games, with three of those over divisional opponents Philadelphia (twice) and Washington. But before we celebrate, we must consider that there's still a mathematical possibility of either Philadelphia or Washington stealing the division crown away from the Cowboys.

The Giants' only hope is an outside shot at a wildcard berth if they win outright but they've been eliminated from contending for a division title due to their 1-4 record against NFC East teams.

Essentially, all the Cowboys must do is win one of their three remaining games in order to celebrate a division crown. If Philadelphia or Washington loses any of their three games they will be out due to tie breakers that go in the Cowboys’ favor.

As of this moment, the Redskins are a disaster with no one under center to captain their rudderless ship, and the Eagles must defeat the Rams in LA, which would be considered a stunning upset seeing as any reputable online sportsbook is offering the Rams as 9 ½ point favorites as of this writing; then they must win at home against Houston and on the road against the Redskins.

Of course, the Cowboys are counting only on themselves to reel in the division title and with games at Indianapolis, home against the Bucs, and wrapping their season in New Jersey against the Giants, at least one win seems likely.

The addition of Amari Cooper to the Dallas offensive arsenal has been a game-changer as the former Oakland Raider hauled in 10 of 13 targets for 217 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner last Sunday against Philadelphia. He was the top-tier receiver Prescott had been lacking and his presence on the field improves both the passing game and running game by virtue of his dynamic playmaking abilities. Ezekiel Elliott has eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards in four of the six games since Cooper has been on the Cowboys roster.

Furthermore, Dallas has averaged 24.4 points per game over their last five wins with Cooper in the lineup, which is more than five points improved from where they were prior to their winning streak without him in a Dallas uniform.

In addition, Prescott has morphed from a game manager at 202 passing yards per game to a game breaker as evidenced by his 285.7 passing yard average in six games with his new target at his disposal.

Ultimately, the Cowboys will be tasked with turning all of this good mojo into a deep run into the postseason. We can now confidently say that there is one other team to consider besides the Rams, Bears, and Saints as this year’s NFC entrant into the Super Bowl. However, Dak Prescott will need to eliminate turnovers and interceptions if Dallas is truly going to contend against the powerhouses they will face in the playoffs.

Last Sunday, Prescott caught fire in the fourth quarter and ended with 455 yards passing, connecting on 42 of 54 passes with three touchdowns, but his two interceptions were converted into nine points by Philadelphia. As we move forward, Prescott will need to lead right from the get-go and understand that one poor decision can cost his team what is now a realistic shot at a championship season.



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