The New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles battled in the Super Bowl last night, and Machota wrote on three things that the Cowboys need to take away from the teams. Can the Cowboys be more efficient on offense in 2018?
The Cowboys are built more like the Patriots than the Eagles. Like New England, everything starts for Dallas on offense. Tom Brady and the Pats limit how much their defense is on the field with outstanding offensive efficiency. The Cowboys were successful in this department in 2016. They took a step back in 2017.
Although Dallas’ defense improved, it’s not on the level of the unit in Philly.
How do the Cowboys close the gap?
Either they find a way to get the offense clicking like 2016 or they make significant improvements on defense via the draft/free agency. My guess is that the focus will be on fixing the offense, largely banking on 16 games with Ezekiel Elliott earning better results than only 10.
Sure, the Cowboys need to be more efficient — but how? Former ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski joined the Shan & RJ show on 105.3 The Fan and stated that he would like to see Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan be more creative with their young, athletic signal-caller.
Is the criticism of a stale offense under Scott Linehan and Jason Garrett justified?
Jaworski: Yes. There’s an evolution to the game all the time. The game changes not every year, but week to week. I never thought the spread offenses would be successful in the NFL. I was dead wrong. I was an old two-back guy, maybe multiple tight ends. The league average right now is about 75 percent 11 personnel - one back, one tight end, three wide receivers. Everyone is spreading the field, and why not? The rules are so relaxed. You can get the chunk plays by spreading the field; pass interference, all those things that help the offense. The old ground and pound is over with. If you’ve got to kill the last two minutes, the ground and pound is great, but for the other 58 minutes, we’re going to throw the football.
These RPOs, these run-pass options, Dallas, I haven’t seen them in their offense. You’ve got a guy, Dak Prescott, who can run that style of offense. Why didn’t they evolve to start running what Carolina started doing a couple of years ago? You don’t need a mobile quarterback, you need a smart quarterback. You need an anticipatory quarterback to run those RPOs. So you need to change as time moves on.
Speaking of improving the offense, we have heard that the Cowboys want to build an offense around Dak Prescott, but what exactly does “Dak-friendly mean? Our own Dave Halprin examined Dak’s own words.
Dak is then asked what he thinks “Dak-friendly” means. He says basically if you watch what the Panthers do or the Chiefs do, running RPO’s (run-pass options), allowing the QB to use his feet more, allowing him to be more comfortable in everything he’s doing - that is Dak-friendly.
This feels like the key to a lot of the upcoming changes. In an article we posted a few week’s ago we speculated on what Dak-friendly would mean, using Dak’s legs and utilizing a more college-like offense could be the answer.
Next, after a question and answer concerning the Eagles, Dak was asked which team the Cowboys could specifically emulate to get better. Dak immediately said the Chiefs. He said they do a great job of utilizing the their running back’s and quarterback’s feet, not always running with them, but scaring the defense with it.
Speaking of ‘Dak-friendly’, Dane Brugler gives a few wide receiver prospects that would help Dak excel in 2018 and beyond.
Brugler: There are a few names that make sense: Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk is a fantastic athlete. Maryland’s DJ Moore doesn’t receive enough attention; he’s going to be a good pro. And Memphis’ Anthony Miller, as long as he’s healthy, he is a guy who understands how to get open. All these players make themselves available in their routes and have the ability to turn short catches into long gains.
Can Dez Bryant still fit in a Dak-friendly offense? Jason Witten still believes 88 has talent.
What’s your take on all this Dez Bryant stuff?
Jason Witten: ”Look... I think anytime you don’t have success, it’s easy to make blanket statements. Just look at the stat line -- all of our stats were down. I think we have to be better as a football team and better offensively. I believe Dez is still a premiere wide receiver. That position, I’ve seen him evolve from a rookie now eight years in. I know he can play this position at a high level, I’ve seen it in the flesh too many times.”
Cris Carter, meanwhile, has some different opinions on Dez, to say the least.
On if Dez Bryant is done as a No. 1 wide receiver: ”He’s done unless he makes some drastic changes. Like if they don’t move him to the slot, if he doesn’t bring some variety to his game like Larry Fitzgerald. Larry had a longer, sustainable success but then Bruce Arians moved him inside to the slot receiver. Dez has to come up with a different pitch. He can’t throw fast balls at batters in the major leagues. They will eyeball it and they will hit it out. Dez, he can’t go to his go-to slant, the go-to dig, the moves Michael Irvin. But Michael Irvin, he’d take you downtown. He could run the post corner. He ran that deep-out. Dez needs to add more things to his game. That’s how you continue to get better, and we haven’t seen that and the league has caught up to him. Caught up to his athleticism. That’s why his results have suffered.”
The Hall of Fame wideout didn’t stop there.
More on Bryant: “If you’re going to be a professional you continue to grow. I didn’t make the Pro Bowl until my seventh year I think in the NFL. We continually got better. If you don’t want to learn, if you’re not a learning person ... It’s the same thing as this business. If you don’t reach outside what you’re resources are, you’re not gonna get better as a broadcaster. He should have the same pressure on him that we have and what we do on a daily basis. The difference between the good players and the great is how long they stay in their prime. Dez had a three to four year window, but the greatest receivers have 8-10 year windows.”
There has been a lot of discussion surrounding Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving. The freakish defensive lineman has been rumored to be on the market, with the Cowboys seeking a second-round pick; however, if the Cowboys hang onto Irving, the Cowboys’ defensive line may finally turn into a strength.
Finding someone like Irving won’t be as easy as it may seem. He’s not one of the best-known names in the league, but he’s played like one of the best players in the NFL.
For the Dallas Cowboys, this offseason will determine the future of the franchise. With a young and talented secondary, they have the chance to keep two guys who’ll turn this defensive line into a very scary one.
Moves will have to be made, but Dallas could go into the 2018 season with a very solid defense. In a year in which playoffs have featured amazing defensive units, that’s a reason to be optimistic. It’s time for this front office to make tough decisions. Let’s hope they do a good job and hopefully, we get a dominant defense.
Tom tells fans to be patient about the current, and future, state of the Cowboys.
Further complicating things is that the reworking of the coaching staff put the team behind on evaluating its players from last season. Not unreasonably, they wanted to get the staff settled before diving into that to get the relevant opinions. While there are clearly those who have doubts about Irving, he also has some big fans at the Star. The evaluations are most likely just now getting into full swing, and there is certainly going to a great deal of focus on what his real value and issues are.
It is hard to just sit and wonder as fans, especially when we see signals coming from the team. But we hardly know the full picture, and there may be some real swings to go through before the final decision on how to handle his case is made.
Irving is just one obvious example. There are plenty of others, like trying to work out a long-term deal or franchising DeMarcus Lawrence, as well as several other free agents who the team has to decide to try and re-sign or just let walk. All we can do is watch and see what is reported, and always try to pay attention to who is saying what. Not all sources are equally reliable.