Zeke is the man in the NFC East, and the whole NFL. Don’t see how you rank David Johnson higher because Arizona threw the ball to him 120 times. Dallas didn’t need to use Zeke that way. And LeVeon Bell? He went down with an injury at the most critical time of the season.
Ezekiel Elliott is arguably the best running back in the game. He managed to lead the league in rushing his first season and didn't need to play in the season finale to get it done. No other back in the division even had half as many yards as Elliott last season. Darren McFadden is expected to get the bulk of the backup carries. The former top five pick missed most of last season with an elbow injury, however, he's only a year removed from a 1,000-yard season. It really wouldn't matter if the Cowboys had any other backs on the roster, Elliott alone puts them miles ahead of any of the other NFC East teams at the position.
Will Zeke lead the Cowboys back to the Super Bowl? With Dak Prescott at the helm, the Cowboys have a chance.
Despite being a rookie, Elliott completely changed how defenses dealt with the Cowboys. He was their focus. The rookie running back has such a large assortment of skills and could beat you in so many ways. Whether it’s the toughness to finish runs or the speed to break a big one, defenses were forced to allocate resources to stop him. Teams game-planned to slow him down and were perfectly content with letting the rookie quarterback try to beat them.
And that’s where Prescott came in so nicely. Elliott sets them up and Prescott knocks them down. It’s a perfect combination. You really couldn’t ask for a better fit of a quarterback for this offense. He takes care of the ball extremely well and does a very good job putting his passes where they need to be. He’s got the arm strength to stretch the field. And let’s not forget his mobility which allows him to extend plays. The kid is such a poised leader that it’s virtually impossible to rattle him.
Speaking of Dak Prescott, Scott Linehan had a few choice comments about him on a recent podcast.
Linehan: Every day we give him something more. It just makes sense to do it in a systematic and timely fashion. I don't think it's, "Hey, Dak, you need to do 10 times more." Do a few things more every day just like we did last season. Where you started and where you finished, we were doing things we didn't even dream of. There is a time factor that needs to go by. You can't just say, "Hey, listen, we're going to go out there, call your own plays on third down, take five plays and they're yours." Our job is to put him in position to succeed and his job is to go out and execute the plays we call in the situations we're in.
Probably one of his best attributes is he plays his position, takes it to another level based on a guy who's done all the intangible stuff that some guys just don't get.
He's got some rare work-ethic type stuff.
Speaking of Cowboys’ stars, where does the team’s highest paid player (per year) stack up among receivers? Is he worth it?
Out of all five years on his extension, the 2017 season is the highest base salary he'll have. And that comes along with the highest cap hit he'll have which is $17 million this year. He's the highest cap hit of any Cowboy for the 2017 season taking up 9.95 percent of the team's cap.
And because we know you're wondering: Believe it or not Steelers WR Antonio Brown is all the way down at 79th on the list with a base salary of $910,000. A $19 million signing bonus from his four-year, $68 million extension probably helps ease the pain for the NFL's best receiver.
In terms of average value, Brown's contract is the No. 1 for wide receivers at $17 million per season. Bryant isn't too far away from that number either. He's tied for fourth at $14 million per year with Thomas. The only other WRs ahead of Bryant are Green (second overall at $15 million per year) and Jones ($14.25 million).
From someone who used to cover Moore during his days as a Giant, it sounds like he’s a bit surprised by Moore’s newfound maturity.
Damontre Moore could be one of the Cowboys' starting defensive ends when they host the Giants in Week 1.
Hey, stranger things have happened. Like a player getting cut after a fight over headphones.
"I think he has matured over the course of his career," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said recently, according to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I think he recognizes the opportunity that he has here and is embracing it."
Part nine of the series. Only thing left is the recap and 53-man roster projection.
The Cowboys kept five safeties last year, and 2013, with four in each of the intervening years. With a rookie, and second-year player who received almost no snaps as the primary backups to a veteran looking to dramatically increase his role this year, the Cowboys may want the experience of Robert Blanton on the team. He’s cheap either way - kept or cut. It’s going to come down to training camp, preseason, and how the roster shakes out in other areas.
This story ran in June, but is worth checking out if you missed it. Flipping burgers or hitting running backs? Whatever he’s doing, Jaylon Smith is giving it his all.
"No matter where or when, Jaylon always had the same attitude, the same work ethic, the same smile," Lindsay said. "Here was a kid going into his senior year of high school with a full ride to one of the best colleges in the country working for minimum wage and happy to be doing it."
"How many other great young athletes in America would be doing it with a smile on his face?" he asked. "I never really asked him why he did it."
Nice analysis, though it still has to work out on the field.
The Dallas Cowboys churned the roster and replaced veterans who have reached their potential with still-developing youth. The veterans they did retain, Terrance Williams, Brice Butler, and Darren McFadden came back on sweetheart deals for Dallas.
This offseason had the potential to be very significant for the Dallas Cowboys. It could have been significantly good or significantly bad.
Make the wrong deals and overpay for veteran security and it could have crippling repercussions down the road. Cut loose more starting players than you can replace and you just flushed a winning team down the toilet.
When you really look at things, this offseason was more dangerous than many of cared to admit. And while we don’t know how some of these roster changes will come out in the end, we can see that at face value this offseason unfolded brilliantly.
Two views of who might get cut.
Each staffer makes a different choice. Brian Broaddus selects:
Probably not the flashiest of answers, but has to be someone on this offensive line. I have several guys in mind that if they don't play well in these five preseason games could be shown the door. Emmett Cleary was a stop-gap player last season. They've tried him at tackle and guard with mixed results. Byron Bell is trying to lose weight and get in better shape. Chaz Green struggles with his health. No one has really talked about Joe Looney or Jonathan Cooper. Looney can play center/guard so that's valuable. We know Cooper can play guard but has also tried his hand at center. I am curious if both will make the 53-man roster. Just looking at the numbers, there could be a veteran released from the names I mentioned.
RJ has his own take, listing five guys. Here’s one of them.
In all seriousness, if Lucky Whitehead is expendable then isn’t Noah Brown? I get the love, and I really like Brown’s game, but is his status on the 53-man roster going to make-or-break this team’s chances of success this season?
You’ve got the four we mentioned in the Lucky discussion plus Brice Butler here (and Andy Jones... he’s even being forgotten just a few paragraphs later). Here are the questions you have to ask yourself:
Do you believe Noah Brown will someday be a better wide receiver than Brice Butler? The answer is somewhere between the lands of probably and definitely.
Is Noah Brown, the 31st wide receiver drafted in one that saw 32 taken, better than Brice Butler today? Of course not.
A year ago the confines of Cowboys Nation were ready to cement Brice in as this team’s number two wideout ahead of Terrance Williams. Now some are seriously saying that Brown is already better than him.