The Dallas Cowboys' front office hit the ball out of the park when they hired former Seattle Seahawks' defensive coordinator Kris Richard as their defensive backs coach for the 2018 football season. Since then, Richard's influence on the Cowboys has been felt on a weekly basis. He's unanimously beloved by Cowboys Nation as he has helped Rod Marinelli build a championship caliber defense.
Defense is the name of the game for the 2018 Dallas Cowboys. Despite having some big names on offense like Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper, it's been the other side of the ball that's won this team a handful of games. They rank second in the NFL in scoring defense, fifth in total yards allowed and third in rushing yards allowed.
Rod Marinelli deserves a big part of the credit as the defensive coordinator of course, but it's Kris Richard's arrival that has taken the defense in Dallas to a whole other level. He even has taken over some play-calling duties.
There's a reason we've seen a more aggressive approach on defense this year. For a team that seemed almost allergic to sending blitzes the last few years, we're seeing these sort of plays every defensive drive. Linebackers are being utilized in pass rushing, something we didn't really see often before.
Much had been said about this defense potentially being one capable of holding down elite offenses. That's precisely what they did against arguably the best team in the NFL at the moment, the New Orleans Saints. The defensive gameplan these couple of coaches put together for the Saints was simply fantastic.
Take Jourdan Lewis for example. The sophomore who had seen close to zero action on the season was brilliantly used in limited snaps, limiting one of the Saints' most dangerous weapons, RB Alvin Kamara. Michael Thomas, who had been averaging 98 yards per game, had only 40 against Dallas.
Kris Richard is also the reason the Cowboys picked up Byron Jones' fifth-year option. At this pace, Jones should be an All-Pro cornerback once the season comes to an end.
I can go on and on about why Kris Richard has been amazing for the Dallas Cowboys, but let's get to the matter at hand.
There might be only one way to keep Kris Richard beyond 2018.
Clearly, Kris Richard is making a name for himself. If we as fans are noticing, I assure you NFL teams will do so too. The Dallas Cowboys must keep Richard on the team. They shouldn't let him walk after he's played such an important role in the performance of one of the best defenses in the NFL today.
If the Cowboys are to keep him though, leaving him at his current job will surely not be enough. We're talking about a guy who'll be getting a lot of phone calls once the season is over. Some of those calls will probably be for defensive coordinator openings... and some might be about head coach openings.
Jason Garrett has been a polemical figure for the Cowboys. Despite holding the 2016 Head Coach of the Year Award, his results in Dallas have been inconsistent. The Cowboys are likely making the playoffs, which helps his case to remain this team's coach. But even if they manage to deal some damage in January, are the Cowboys willing to keep him at the expense of Kris Richard?
Is Jason Garrett worth letting go an energetic, passionate, smart, young defensive coach like Kris Richard? If Richard walks away, would the defense be the same?
If the front office ends up facing this tough decision, it will be one of the most important decisions they've faced recently. I, for one, would definitely prefer to promote Kris Richard if it comes to that. He's one of the main reasons the defense is playing at this level, and he could be an exciting young coach in the NFL with a bright future ahead of him.
Keep in mind, Richard is far from a "one-year wonder." After all, he was the architect of the Seahawks' "Legion of Boom." I just don't see how you let such an opportunity leave. Hopefully, the Cowboys do everything in their power to keep him around for a long time.
Was Sunday A “Wake Up Call,” Or Were Cowboys Exposed?
Entering last Sunday's game in Indianapolis, the Dallas Cowboys were riding high. Having won five straight games, including key victories over the top seeded Saints and division rival Eagles, everything seemed to be breaking right for the Cowboys heading into the home stretch.
Their defense was playing like one of the best in football, and after firing Paul Alexander and trading for Amari Cooper their offense was clicking just as they'd hoped. They needed (and still need) just one win to officially close out the division and clinch a home playoff game in January.
Instead, the Cowboys got absolutely demolished by the Indianapolis Colts. Of course, there's no shame in losing a road game to an 8-6 team in the NFL, but the way in which they lost certainly deserves some shame. Not even the 23-0 score can encapsulate the complete butt-kicking Dallas received at the hands of the Colts, and it was the type of loss that can sometimes make you question the blueprint.
The Cowboys, however, are not looking at it that way. Multiple leaders in the locker room have spoke this week about how they "needed" to lose like that. Running back Ezekiel Elliott called the loss embarrassing, but also said it is better for Dallas in the "grand scheme of the season."
Clearly, the leaders and coaches are calling the putrid performance a wake up call, something that will galvanize them and reset their win streak heading into the postseason. But is this really the case, or was the shutout defeat more of a sign of things to come?
Obviously it's too early to say for sure, but I do think it can be a little bit of both.
No, the Cowboys are not the class of the NFC, despite beating what can be called the best team in the same conference a couple weeks ago. There probably will prove to be some drop-off from the top 3 seeds in the conference and the Cowboys, if for no other reason than Dallas will have to go on the road to play those teams in the playoffs. It's really hard to win on the road in the NFL, especially with the increased wackiness of 2018.
The Cowboys offense is far from perfect or prolific, though if clicking they now have the skill talent to drop 30+ points any given Sunday. Their defense is talented, has a high ceiling, but is still very young and inexperienced. Though they've played elite level games before, they've also had some stinkers against the Colts and Titans during the same season.
All of this can be true. The Cowboys can be a team deserving of the playoffs, a team we should not be panicking over, but still a very flawed football team. They can be a team that if "hot" could make a run through the postseason, but also will have to answer some tough questions about coaches and players during the next two offseasons.
After all, who isn't greatly flawed in today's NFL? Hell, we just saw the beloved Rams lose two straight games.
Is it Too Late For Dallas to Fire OC Scott Linehan?
Grab your pitchforks and your torches, it's time to run the Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan out of town. His playcalling has been absolutely atrocious season and it's time for him to hit the road, even if there are only two regular-season games left on the schedule.
It's completely unorthodox for an NFL team to fire an offensive coordinator this late in the season, but just last week we saw the Minnesota Vikings do just that when they parted ways with John DeFilippo. It was definitely a bold move to make considering the Vikings are still in playoff contention, but it was something they believed was in the best interest of their team.
I believe if the Dallas Cowboys want to do what's best for their team right now and not later, then they should go ahead and cut ties with Scott Linehan. His predictability and un-creativeness as a play caller is holding back a talented offense, which is hurting the overall team as a result. He's been given every opportunity to turn things around, but enough is enough.
I'd personally be on board with Jason Garrett taking over the playcalling duties. He has the experience and held the position with the Cowboys from 2007 until Linehan was hired. I'd even consider giving Kellen Moore a shot as the OC. He knows the system and has worked closely with Quarterback Dak Prescott. Regardless, the Cowboys need to find some way to increase their offensive productivity.
Right now the Cowboys offense is the 26th scoring offense in the NFL and are averaging just 19.7 points per game. To make matters worse they are the 31st ranked Red Zone offense in the league. I don't know about you, but I think that is completely unacceptable with the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball.
Firing Linehan has been a long time coming. The Cowboys flirted with the idea earlier this season during the bye week and should've pulled the trigger then, but for some reason or another decided to let him stick around. They are definitely still paying for that mistake now.
The Cowboys mistake not to replace Linehan could mean yet another early exit in the playoffs, something we have unfortunately become accustomed to. Scoring just 19 points a game isn't going to get them very far, which is truly unfortunate considering the talent they've acquired this season.
Unfortunately, as much as we would love to see Scott Linehan tarred and feathered and run out of town, I just don't see the Cowboys doing that before their season is officially over. But, in no way should he be allowed to retain his position beyond this season. He clearly isn't the answer any longer.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should fire Scott Linehan?
Despite Embarrassing Showing, Health Remains Biggest Cowboys Concern
What is it about the AFC South with these Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas' five game winning streak came to a close on Sunday, as they got straight-up embarrassed by the now 8-6 Indianapolis Colts on the road. The loss was the first since the Cowboys were embarrassed by a different AFC South competitor, the Tennessee Titans, on Monday night football earlier this season.
Though the final was 23-0, and not a single phase (or really even a single player) showed much fight or promise, the biggest concern I have for the Cowboys moving forward didn't change because of the putrid performance. It didn't change because the defense was gashed play after play or the offense failed to finish a single drive. And it didn't even change because both the Redskins and Eagles secured season-saving victories on the same day Dallas was dismantled.
The biggest concern is still their health, particularly across the offensive line.
That was not a playoff caliber interior offensive line the Cowboys put out their on Sunday. Not even close.
With their backup center in Joe Looney, backup guard in Connor Williams, and the very last interior offensive linemen on their roster in Adam Redmond playing for basically the entire game, this offense never had a chance. Dak Prescott wasn't any more inaccurate or indecisive than normal, but all those who like to scream "step up in the pocket" whenever he is sacked did not seem to have an argument this week.
There often was no pocket to step into, as those interior three, specifically Looney and Redmond, failed to provide much protection or confidence for Prescott at all. Joe Looney has actually been rather solid this season, but Sunday felt like one of his worst games of the entire year.
The Cowboys absolutely need Zack Martin to get healthy if they are to make any noise whatsoever in the postseason. At the very least, the need Xavier Su'a-Filo to come back and replace Redmond, and regain the form he displayed during his debut against the Eagles back in November.
Prescott already has issues with his pocket presence and footwork when pressured, so throwing three backup-level linemen right in front of him is not a recipe for success for the Cowboys.
I'm not jumping out of the window over this loss, and I don't think any of you should be either. Dallas had won three straight incredibly emotional and important home games to extend, save, and solidify their season respectively before this loss. They had also just about clinched the NFC East a week ago with their win over Philadelphia, and they played like a team that was due a flat performance
A letdown loss on the road, against a good team I might add, is not the end of the world. The bigger issue here is their health, because if Martin can return to anchor this offensive line, the offense should look a whole lot better than they did against Indianapolis.
It's time to move on from Sunday, go beat Tampa Bay, officially clinch the division, and get ready for Wild Card Weekend.
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Why is Jerry Jones “keeping a very close eye” on the Kareem Hunt Case?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
David Irving’s Return Could Make Cowboys’ Defense Even Scarier
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Wide Receiver Michael Gallup Making a Huge Impact for Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys6 days ago
Tavon Austin’s Return Should Make Cowboys Offense More Dangerous
Star Blog1 week ago
Time to see What Darius Jackson can do as Zeke’s Backup?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
2018 Rushing Title: Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley in Neck-and-Neck Race
Game Notes2 weeks ago
Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott Key to Clipping the Eagles Wings?
Dallas Cowboys1 day ago
Cowboys Nation, It’s Time To Take a Deep Breath