clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cowboys News: Former NFL Defensive Coordinator Says 2017 Cowboys Offense "Nearly Impossible To Defend."

Latest Cowboys headlines: A championship-level offense in Dallas; why Ezekiel Elliott can be an exceptional receiver; Terrance Williams took less money to stay with Cowboys

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Sleeper pick could transform Dallas Offense - Bucky Brooks, NFL.com
Bucky Brooks takes a look at offensive game-changers for the Packers, Jets, and Cowboys, where he says Ryan Switzer can transform the Cowboys' offense and paints a mesmerizing picture of a championship-level offense in Dallas.

Conceivably, Dallas could roll out a package with Bryant and Terrance Williams on the outside and the diminutive duo (Switzer and Beasley) on the inside. This lineup would allow the Cowboys to work a variety of combination routes between the hashes to take advantage of their ultra-quick slot receivers, while also giving Bryant a chance to win on isolated routes outside the numbers. If the Cowboys elected to move Bryant to a slot position, with Switzer or Beasley playing on the outside, opponents could watch the beastly receiver have his way with nickel corners and safeties over the middle of the field. Look at how other big-bodied receivers like Larry Fitzgerald have terrorized opponents while working in the slot.

While Dallas' desire to create mismatches in the passing game is one of the reasons why Switzer is pegged to have a "significant" role on offense, I believe the Cowboys might have a bigger vision for their offense with the four-receiver lineup playing a more prominent role in the game plan. I have a sneaky suspicion that Linehan might be creating a modernized version of the run-and-shoot that allows Ezekiel Elliott to play the role of Barry Sanders behind a powerful offensive line in a spread offense that creates natural running lanes between the tackles.

Before you call me crazy, I want you to think about how every defensive coordinator slated to face the Cowboys will make a concerted effort to stop the reigning rushing king. Defensive play callers spent the offseason crafting a variety of "plus one" fronts (eight-man fronts against two-back formations; seven-man fronts against one-back sets) designed to plug holes at the line of scrimmage to prevent the Cowboys' RB1 from controlling the game as a grinder. If the Cowboys move away from their traditional lineups to feature more "10" personnel package (one running back and four receivers), defensive coordinators will suddenly encounter a different dilemma when coming up with a plan to defend the offense. I'm not alone in this line of thinking, either.

"If the Cowboys use more four-receiver sets, you have to decide whether you want to play 'big' or 'small' to match up with them," the former NFL defensive coordinator told me. "You also have to decide whether you want to load the box with an extra run defender to stop Zeke or keep another safety deep to keep Bryant in check. Plus, you also have to have a plan to slow down Beasley and Switzer if they are wearing out your nickel and dime defenders over the middle.

"This is same problem the Detroit Lions used to give defensive coordinators in the 1990s with Sanders, but their offensive line wasn't nearly as good. With the Cowboys' personnel up front, they are nearly impossible to defend when they spread you out."

Why Ezekiel Elliott can be an exceptional receiver - SportsDay Staff
Brad Sham joined a SportsDay podcast to talk all things Cowboys. Here's his take on how much better Elliott can be:

In training camp I saw in Elliott an exceptional receiver. ... If you just watch the way he handles himself running a route, catching the ball, assuming how he'll run the rest of the route after catching the ball - he's a phenomenal weapon. Murray at Oklahoma was a much greater weapon the way they used him catching the ball than he was running from scrimmage.

It's a reasonable expectation to expect him to play a bigger role in the passing game... because of his intelligence, skill set and approach to be one of the best pass-catching backs they've had.

Dak Prescott-Dez Bryant duo has real chance to become even more dangerous next season - David Moore, SportsDay
Bryant was third on the team with 50 receptions for 796 yards and eight touchdowns. That could improve this year, Moore explains.

Can the rapport between Prescott and Bryant improve? No question. But it's misleading to suggest it was bad last season.

Remember, Prescott was the No. 3 quarterback this time a year ago. He rarely got any snaps with Bryant and the first-team offense. He didn't start working with the starters on a consistent basis until Tony Romo went down to injury in the third preseason game.

Prescott and Bryant then had three games together before the receiver suffered a lateral hairline fracture of the tibial plateau of his right knee. That kept Bryant out for three weeks. The two didn't start practicing together on a consistent, uninterrupted basis until late October.

They are making up for lost time.

Dallas WR Corps Is Better Than People Know - Tom Ryle, Blogging The Boys
Ryle looks at the Cowboys' receiving options, along with what their performance in 2016 could mean for 2017, and comes up almost giddy with excitement.

And now, things may get even better. While Switzer’s arrival has opened up all sorts of possibilities to confound defenses by putting him and Beasley on the field together, the fact that Bryant now has a chance to work more with Prescott adds yet anther dimension. With Dez as a deep threat (and often drawing an extra defensive back in coverage), Williams working the intermediate part of the field, and Beasley and/or Switzer running loose in the short area, opposing secondaries may simply be overwhelmed by the options Dak will have. And that is without even considering tight ends or running backs in the pattern.

And, you know, that running game is not going to be shabby, either. While there are still a lot of questions to be answered on defense, it is very easy to believe that Dallas will be a real offensive powerhouse this year. Don’t expect much to be hidden once the games get underway.


Terrance Williams: No regrets taking less money to stay with Cowboys - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams could have cashed in more elsewhere in free agency, but he is happy to stay in Dallas.

“It just wasn’t about money to me,” Williams said of his free agency. “There was a lot of money I could have taken, but it’s just the people. The guys I hang around with in my locker room and then the coaches that I have. That’s a bigger price tag on it for me than money.”

“I feel like Mr. Jones took a chance on me and I feel like I got to return the favor to him,” Williams said. “The same with Dez and the rest of my teammates. When you’ve been around certain people for so long, going somewhere else just wouldn’t feel the same if you’re being successful.

“So to go to a different state and come back home when I see my bros, it just wouldn’t feel the same. I just feel like I owed them the respect that they gave me. I know a lot of people [Cowboys fans] didn’t like it, that’s part of the reason too I came back. Everybody thought I was fixing to go off and take something else and most people were mad too so that’s why I like it.”

Terrance Williams made sure Tony Romo got ball from last TD pass - Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Williams did not know it at the time, but he caught the final touchdown pass thrown by Tony Romo. And made sure Romo got the ball from his 248th and final career score.

Williams said he made sure Romo got the ball after the catch even though he didn’t know Romo would soon leave the game for the CBS Sports broadcast booth.

“When we came back to the sideline, I gave it back to him,” Williams said. “He was trying to give me the ball to keep it, so I had to cuss to give it back to him. He finally took it.”


Biggest remaining weak spot of each NFC team - NFL.com
Gregg Rosenthal looks at the biggest weak spot of each NFC team, And for the Coboys, that seems to be the pass rush.

Will the lack of a pass rush make the new Cowboys cornerbacks look bad, or will it be the other way around? There are no easy answers to Dallas' defensive woes on the roster, other than coordinator Rod Marinelli's penchant for coaching up lackluster talent with fundamentals and hustle. Adding first-round pick Taco Charlton won't be enough to fix a pass rush missing suspended players (David Irving and Randy Gregory) or players with injury concerns like DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford. Dallas' underrated secondary covered for the team's faulty front last season, but that will be far more difficult after an offseason exodus of four key free agents in the back end.

How Good Can The Cowboys Defense Be In 2017? - Joey ickes, Fanrag SPorts
BTB-alumni Ickes harbors hopes the Cowboys defense can a Top 10 unit in 2017.

The Cowboys need the likes of Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence to stay healthy and play up to the level they’ve each shown at various points. Young players Taco Charlton and Charles Tapper have to meet the potential the team believes they have, and David Irving and Maliek Collins need to live up to the flashes they showed last season. If all that happens, the Cowboys will have a defensive front that can put the heat on quarterbacks.

On the back end, only two of the top six defensive backs from the 2016 team will return in 2017. The remaining positions, two of the top three corners and two of the top three safeties, will be filled by players with a greater penchant than their predecessors for making plays on the ball. Three rookies, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis and Xavier Woods, free agent acquisition Nolan Carroll and former reserves Jeff Heath and Anthony Brown will compete for those roles.

These changes, along with the infusion of a potentially healthy Jaylon Smith at linebacker, set the ceiling for the Cowboys defense extremely high. If the players on the defensive line play to their potential, there’s no reason why this Cowboys defense can’t be one of the top-10 units in the league, making the Cowboys one of the most complete teams in the NFL.

Who leads the Cowboys in sacks this season? - Matt Mosley, SportsDay
Tyrone Crawford has been getting a lot of flak from a subset of Cowboys fans, but Mosley likes him to lead the team in sacks. Which is a bit surprising, given that Mosley appears to fancy himself as the Cassandra of Cowboys reporting, always seemingly pointing out potential problems and perceived shortcomings of the team. Here's his take from a recent chat on who will lead the team in sacks.

My money's on Tyrone Crawford to have the most sacks. This will be a by the committee approach. I don't think Charlton will rack up a ton of sacks, but he'll make an impact. I'm most intrigued by what former OU star Charles Tapper might be able to accomplish. I think he could be a x-factor in all this.