The Cowboys ended the season on a high note — technically, with a 6-0 win over the Philadelphia Eagles —but it doesn’t really feel like that. The Cowboys fell flat on their face in a must-win game against the Seahawks in week 16. Sure, the Falcons won their final game and made the season, made any playoff scenarios involving the Cowboys mute, but it would be a completely different feeling had the team knocked off Seattle and Philly to reach 10 wins in 2017; nonetheless, the Cowboys finished with a winning record in back-to-back seasons, Ezekiel Elliott can now look beyond his six-game suspension, and the defense played a whole lot better over the course of the second half of the season.
With the season done and many wanting to see changes in the coaches staff, you should expect some coaches come and go in the next few weeks. In fact, the Cowboys’ coaching carousel has already began; however, it appears that Scott Linehan and Rod Marinelli will return in 2018 as of now.
Meanwhile, as Jerry Jones alluded to on @1053thefan, the plan now is to keep both #Cowboys coordinators -- Rod Marinelli and Scott Linehan. But the review is ongoing and there will be position coach turnover.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 3, 2018
This matters because a stable coaching staff can go a long way in a young player’s development. Let’s take a look at the rookies’ final game of their first season on the professional season. How did each perform in week 17?
In week 17, Taco had two total tackles and added a QB hit on the Eagles. So far, Charlton isn’t playing like a first-round pick, but that doesn’t mean he won’t down the line. He has had a few highlight moments this season like his sack of Alex Smith and a strip-sack of Kirk Cousins, but the biggest thing is that Charlton has been improving as the season has progressed. He is trending in the right direction. I look forward to seeing him after another offseason learning Marinelli’s system and adjusting to the NFL game.
Taco Charlton is Getting Better Part 2:— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) December 28, 2017
Uses his length to walk the RT back to the QB to make the sack. Impressive. pic.twitter.com/6m9OeDxBqW
A nice rush from Taco Charlton here.— John Owning (@JohnOwning) January 3, 2018
Uses the long arm to walk back the LT while keeping proper eye discipline. The space created from the long arm allowed Taco to redirect inside once he identified the QB stepping up. #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/G9UQtAZ8e9
If I was asked to rank the Dallas Cowboys’ rookies this season, I would have to put Chidobe Awuzie at number two on the list. The Cowboys’ defensive back is able to play out on the outside and cover top receivers, he can play in the slot and defend shifty, speedy offensive weapons, and he is not afraid to come up in the box and play the run. He is exactly the kind of defensive back that the Cowboys were looking for last April.
After deflecting a pass and helping Sean Lee get an interception off of Eli Manning just a few weeks back, Awuzie joined the club and recorded his first career INT this past Sunday against the Eagles by picking off Nick Foles:
Chido finished the last game of the season with two total tackles, both of which were solo, and the one interception. Awuzie has an extremely bright future with the star on his helmet.
If Awuzie has been the second best rookie for America’s Team, Jourdan Lewis has been the best. The third-round selection has exceeded expectations and appears to be the team’s CB1 heading into 2018. Who would have thought he would have developed into that so quickly, especially after missing the season-opener against the Giants?
It’s been an impressive season for 27.
CB Jourdan Lewis has seen 10 targets of 20+ downfield in 2017— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 23, 2017
He’s allowed a passer rating of 1.7 pic.twitter.com/ntEoQq8m4u
Lewis finished the last game of the season with two tackles in week 17, both of which were solo. He, like Chido, has a chance to be really, really good for the Cowboys as we look forward to the 2018 season.
Ryan Switzer has practically been boom-or-bust this season for the Cowboys. When he is on, he is on. As demonstrated by his kick returns in the first Philadelphia game and his punt return for a touchdown against Washington. He has also had his fair share of struggles, too.
Switz returned one kick for 14 yards and one punt for 12. He also caught four passes on five targets for 32 yards. I really like the potential the fourth-rounder has, both in the return game and in the receiving game moving forward.
More Ryan Switzer in the passing game please. pic.twitter.com/9oyBbett8i— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) January 1, 2018
Chido and Lewis get the love, but Xavier Woods is yet another stud in the Cowboys’ secondary.
Woods totaled two total tackles on Sunday. The future looks very bright in Dallas.
Chidobe Awuzie was targeted 5 times & only 2 receptions for 17 yards along with recording his 1st INT yesterday— John Owning (@JohnOwning) January 1, 2018
Xavier Woods was targeted twice & allowed just 1 catch for 12 yards
Jourdan Lewis only allowed 1 catch for 4 yards, per PFF
Future looks bright for DAL secondary
Brown did not record a catch in week 17, but he again impressed with his blocking abilities — a big theme in his first season on the professional level. Brown has a chance to develop into a solid player for the Cowboys.
Lewis Neal was brought up from the practice squad when Stephen Paea announced his retirement and Brian Price was lost for the season. In week 17, he was active and his name was in the stat-sheet, as he recorded two total tackles, one solo tackle, and a QB hit in the season finale.
Much like Neal, Ross was added to the Cowboys’ roster for insurance after the team lost both Paea and Price. After not really doing anything since joining the Cowboys, Ross recorded the third most total tackles on the team, with three (all solo). He also added a sack, a tackle-for-loss, and a QB hit. Not too shabby for the undrafted rookie. It will be interesting what the team does with him moving forward.
Who was your favorite Cowboy in 2017, BTB?