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Cowboys news: When will Cowboys be Super Bowl contenders again?

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Will the Cowboys win another Super Bowl while Jerry Jones is general manager? - Staff, SportsDay
SportsDay’s roundtable of writers discuss whether the Lombardi Trophy will come to Dallas while Jerry Jones is still in command of this team. The answers are all over the place.

Will the Cowboys win another Super Bowl while Jerry Jones is general manager? Why or why not?

David Moore: The Cowboys have a dominant running back in his first contract in Ezekiel Elliott and a winning quarterback in Dak Prescott that was taken in the fourth round. The salary cap flexibility afforded the Cowboys because of this in the next two seasons, along with some promising young players on defense, has the window opened wide these next several years.

Kate Hairopoulos: It will depend on Dak Prescott becoming the quarterback they believe he is, running back Ezekiel ElIliott remaining eligible and returning to Pro Bowl form and, perhaps, coach Jason Garrett proving worthy of Jerry's loyalty all of these years. And that's just for starters.

Jean-Jacques Taylor: It’s also hard to picture Dallas winning a Super Bowl because Jason Garrett can be such a liability on gameday. I really like Garrett’s preparation during the week, but he has hurt the Cowboys more than he’s helped the Cowboys over the years on game day. There’s no evidence that’s going to change anything soon.

Kristi Scales: Jerry has changed his way of operating the team over the past several years, and the success in the draft has brought cornerstone players like Sean Lee, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, DeMarcus Lawrence, Zack Martin, and Dak & Zeke into the fold. The decision to drop Dez Bryant and Jason Witten’s decision to retire mean that there’s no number one receiver on the team. It will be interesting to see if Jerry’s and the personnel department’s decision to go with a “committee approach” at receiver will pay dividends in the coming season.

They gave us their two cents. What does the BTB community think?


Will the Cowboys win another Super Bowl while Jerry Jones is general manager?

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As Kristi Scales mentioned, the decision to remodel the wide receiver position was big and could have a huge impact going forward, but are people overreacting?

The Cowboys don’t have an elite receiver anymore. How much does that matter? - Calvin Watkins, The Athletic
So much is being made about the Cowboys not having an elite #1 WR, but is all that just fodder or does it have merit?

Since the 2011 season, only one Super Bowl champion has dedicated more than 8% of its cap to a receiver – the 2015 Broncos, who paid Demaryius Thomas $13.2 million (9.1% of the cap) that year.

Thomas was taken two spots ahead of Dez Bryant in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Bryant, the Cowboys’ No. 1 receiver last season, was targeted 132 times but only caught 52.3 percent of his passes with six touchdowns. Optimally, you would like a receiver’s catch rate to be at least 60%.

The Cowboys expected more from Bryant considering his massive contract, but health and his attitude got in the way of greatness.

These three things must happen for the Cowboys to become Super Bowl contenders in 2018... - SportsDay Staff
The Sportsday staff follow up their roundtable article on if the Cowboys will win another Super Bowl with another roundtable article on how the Cowboys can win another Super Bowl. Here's David Moore's take on the three things that need to happen for the Cowboys to be contenders:

1) Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott must play off each other the way they did in their rookie seasons for a dominant, efficient offense.

2) The improvement a young defense showed in the second half of last season must continue. The Cowboys now have a strong front seven with a physical, yet largely inexperienced, secondary. Mistakes should be down and turnovers up.

3) A creativity from the coaching staff that wasn't evident last season. No one is saying Jason Garrett and Co. go wild or deviate from character. But some patterns and tendencies need to be altered.

Ranking 11 additions to 2018 Cowboys’ offense - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
The Cowboys have added a lot of new weapons for Dak Prescott. K.D. Drummond ranks 11 new offensive additions, including a new toy who offers up a lot of versatility.

I admit it, I just love calling Austin a web back because it pisses so many people off. The offensive weapon Dallas has been searching for in Lucky Whitehead and Lance Dunbar. Oh, and Ryan Switzer. The Cowboys’ biggest issue on offense last season was a lack of team speed. Austin brings that in spades. He’s also good for more than just jet sweeps and jet-sweep fakes (Whitehead) and he’s also a tremendous weapon out of the backfield, motioned out wide. Austin can also occasionally run inside the tackles, though high volume there would be far from ideal.

He has a fumbling problem, that has to be watched out for, but he could easily see the second-most touches on the team behind Ezekiel Elliott would would be outstanding for the price of a sixth-round pick. That’s what Dallas traded to get him on a one-year rental.

That hasn’t stopped some from worrying about the Cowboys new offense.

While some are concerned, the Cowboys quarterback doesn’t appear to be one of them as he talked about losing Dez and more on the Dan Patrick Show.

We have players. We have veteran players that we brought in. You go watch Allen Hurns. You go watch Tavon Austin, Deonte Thompson … Along with Cole Beasley, guys that have already made a name for themselves that are hard to guard in the NFL,” said Prescott in the Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday. “Then we have some young guys that are on [the] come up. You don’t make the moves that we made without knowing you’ve got some special receivers, some special players.”

If Cowboys get 16 games from Ezekiel Elliott, here's what I think he'll give them - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Big things are expected from the Cowboys star running back now that he's slated for a full season of work. Jon Machota offers up what he thinks Zeke can do in 2018.

What's your realistic stat like for Zeke in Year 3? Can he get closer to 2,000 yards than his rookie year?

Jon Machota: I'm basing this off him playing 16 games: 1,600 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards, 16 total touchdowns. Zeke has averaged a touchdown per game through his first two seasons. I don't see any reason to think that will drop off, especially because I expect him to be used more in the passing game. Five hundred receiving yards would mean an average of a little over 30 per game. He's currently averaging just over 25 for his career. The rushing yards really depend on how the team is playing. If they're playing with leads often, he should have no problem getting back to what he put up his rookie season. If they're playing from behind a lot, it should increase his receiving numbers. Either way, I expect him to have over 2,000 all-purpose yards if he plays all 16 games.

Players Under the Most Pressure at Minicamp - Maurice Moton, Bleacher Report
Who needs to shine in training camp? Bleacher Report examines all 32 teams and they have already put one of the new acquisitions under the spotlight.

Defensive lineman Jihad Ward’s tenure with the Oakland Raiders went sour pretty quickly. He entered the league as a 2016 second-round pick with upside and struggled in 13 starts as a rookie then appeared in just five games last season.

Ward moved across the defensive line but couldn’t find much success stopping the run or reaching the quarterback in two seasons with the Silver and Black.

The Dallas Cowboys decided to send wideout Ryan Switzer to the Raiders for Ward in hopes of bolstering the front line. Defensive tackle David Irving’s four-game suspension for violating the performance-enhancing drug policy provides the Illinois product with a fresh opportunity to establish himself as a key component in the trenches.

If Ward flashes through training camp, he could stand at the front of the line for a sizeable role and a promising future in Dallas.

2017 Defensive Personnel Analysis - Bryan Knowles, Football Outsiders
Knowles looks at how defenses lined up across the league last year.

Just as three-wide formations have become the offensive default, nickel defenses are now the NFL’s primary defensive formation. Nickel first became more prevalent than base defenses in 2012, and became a majority of all plays in 2015. There’s a reason the AP All-Pro team added an extra “defensive back” position in 2016; slot corners are now more likely to see the field than your seventh guy in your front seven.

The Cowboys are one of the teams whose nickel defense is their primary defense. Here’s where they rank in defensive personnel frequency:

  • Base: 25% of all snaps (ranked 27th)
  • Nickel: 55% (17th)
  • Dime+: 20% (9th)

Position Battles: Shedding LBs? - Dave Helman, Dallas Cowboys
The linebacker position has been an area of concern for many years as fans hold their breath that Sean Lee stays healthy. But after a couple high draft resources thrown that way, the team finally has some quality depth at the position.

Battle To Watch:

There’s only one, big question about the Cowboys’ linebacker corps, and that is: who exactly is going to play in the middle?

We know Sean Lee is going to man his usual spot on the weak side, but they have two intriguing options in the middle. The Cowboys drafted Leighton Vander Esch with the No. 19 overall pick back in April, and the massive Boise State product is a natural fit to play the Mike position. However, there’s another hulking prospect by the name of Jaylon Smith to consider. Smith played 578 snaps last year, most of them at Mike linebacker. He certainly had his share of struggles, but he handled himself well for a guy coming off a year-long absence due to injury.

Did the Dallas Cowboys improve at linebacker in 2018? - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
Our own Michael Sisemore takes a look at each position to see if the Cowboys improved. In his latest installment, he evaluates the linebacker position.

With the moves the Cowboys made, they were making sure that they wouldn’t be completely reliant on whether Lee plays or not. He’s still vital to this defense as they are quite young and have a lot to learn. The Cowboys certainly improved their linebacker corps and it was clear that it was one of their top priorities this offseason. They have a nice group of talented starters but their depth is much better as well.

Can Jaylon Smith Challenge Vander Esch For Starting MIKE Role? - Kevin Brady, Inside The Star
Did the first-round investment of Leighton Vander Esch plant a flag into the ground as to which linebacker will man the middle? Or is the improved play of Jaylon Smith changing the plan?

Despite the resurgence of Jaylon Smith and the injury to Leighton Vander Esch, I still do expect Vander Esch to snag that MIKE role moving forward. While showing glimpses of productive play, Smith did not impress enough to earn him the unquestioned starting job last season, and may best fit as a SAM backer and situational pass rusher/blitzer in the current scheme.

Allowing Jaylon Smith to conserve his energy and provide a boost off the bench is the best way for the Cowboys to structure their defense. Of course, this is only true as long as Vander Esch becomes the player they expect him to be, though.

If Jaylon Smith does return to the player he was at Notre Dame prior to his horrific injury, the Cowboys will possess three incredibly rangy, athletic, and talented linebackers on their roster.

Dallas Cowboys: Will the defense live up to expectations? - Terence Watson, The Landry Hat
The defense has been the weakness for the Cowboys over the years, but will the addition of more talent and new coaches bring about a change this year?

The Linebackers

When you see this group of linebackers the first thing that stands out is their speed. This Cowboys defense hasn’t had this type of speed at the position in a very long time. When you add in the football IQ of Sean Lee and you have a very dangerous group.

Putting Sean Lee with either Jaylon Smith or Leighton Vander Esch you can rest assured they will be in a position to make plays. The other reason this is a dangerous group is that each one of them has the ability to get to the quarterback. If these guys can stay healthy this group will be able to shut down the opposing teams running back and short passing attack.

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