Terry McLaurin, not Amari Cooper, was PFF’s most valuable WR in the NFC East last season - Ethan Cadeaux, Yahoo Sports
PFF tries to explain why Terry McLaurin was the most valuable NFC East receiver over Amari Cooper.
“Terry McLaurin was the most valuable wide receiver in the NFC East last season, and there’s a reason,” PFF’s George Chahrouri said on the PFF Forecast. “This guy can go downfield. He can catch and run with it. He was the highest-graded rookie last year, better than [Tennessee Titans WR] A.J. Brown.”
To be fair, Cooper did post better numbers than McLaurin in almost every major receiving category. However, the Cowboys pass-catcher was gifted more targets and additionally had the benefit of playing with quarterback Dak Prescott, who was one of the league’s best passers in 2019.
As a rookie in Washington, McLaurin was forced into the No. 1 wideout role immediately. He answered the bell and excelled right away, totaling five-plus receptions and a TD in each of his first three NFL games. This was all despite having a constant revolving door at quarterback, playing with three different passers under center in 2019.
In just 14 games, the third-round pick finished with 58 catches for 919 yards, just eight yards shy of breaking the franchise’s rookie receiving record. McLaurin’s seven receiving touchdowns accounted for almost half of Washington’s scores via the passing game, too.
The big boys in the middle will hopefully make a difference this year.
The signings of Gearld McCoy and Dontari Poe definitely allow a bigger physical presence at the front of the defense with a combined 640 pounds split within the two of them (40 pounds heavier than last year’s starting duo). Both veterans have had multiple Pro Bowl appearances and have been at the top of the list of game wreckers throughout the past decade. However, 2019 didn’t really pan out as planned for the duo in Carolina, as the Panthers were 29th against the run as a defense and was the next-to-worst run graded defense according to PFF. So why is that? How can these two have such a lack of success in stopping the run with the Panthers but bring so much excitement for doing so in Dallas?
First, Poe missed every game after Week 12 due to injury and the Carolina run defense took a massive nosedive because of it. Prior to his absence, the Panthers averaged a PFF grade of 67.1 which would have been good enough trajectory for around 22nd in the NFL. Not too bad compared to the 45.3 grade that was the average over the final six games which was the worst mark in the league by almost an entire ten points. The injury was obviously a huge setback for the Panthers’ interior defensive line a year ago and displayed just how much impact Poe’s ability to take up multiple gaps has on run-stopping.
Secondly, the scheme makes a massive difference in how effective they can be inside. In Carolina, a three-man front tried to utilize their multi-gap ability to allow some less effective outside linebackers to rush off the edge. This system really limited what both McCoy and Poe could do as offenses could effectively neutralize their pass-rush with a quick double team and trust their offensive tackles to hold off the linebackers. However, Mike Nolan’s multiple look system should allow more pressure off the edge with the defensive ends instead of the linebackers. This hopefully would free up the interior defenders to face a single assignment and allow linebackers like Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith to make quicker decisions either in coverage or the run defense.
Time is running out for Dak and the Cowboys.
What are the sticking points?
First, let’s be clear: publicly, Prescott and the Cowboys have never commented about the details of these negotiations since they began over a year ago. All information to this point has been reports-based. According to multiple reports, the Cowboys have made offers that would place Prescott in the top tier of quarterback average-per-year salaries, but Prescott would prefer a shorter deal (perhaps four years) that would allow him to reach free agent status again sooner when, presumably, the market value for quarterbacks will be even greater than it is now. Until Monday, Seattle’s Russell Wilson was the league’s highest-paid starter at an average of $35 million per season, followed by Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger ($34 million), LA’s Jared Goff ($33.5 million) and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million). But the Chiefs’ Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes just set a U.S. sports record with a 10-year extension that could top out at just over $500 million. It remains to be seen how Mahomes’ deal impacts future quarterback contracts across the league. It’s really in its own stratosphere in terms of salary and length.
10 franchise-changing plays for the Cowboys: From Roger Staubach’s Hail Mary to Dez Bryant’s no-catch - Tim Cowlishaw, DMN
We recently went through all the great plays in Cowboys history, but we didn’t talk about the Cowboys 5-0 playoff win. Yes, you read that right, 5-0.
Dec. 26, 1970: The club’s final playoff game in the Cotton Bowl is overlooked — probably because it was a 5-0 win over Detroit — but it was a turning point for the team busting through that door. A first-round exit would have made five straight playoff trips without a Super Bowl trip. In a game that was all about the defense on both sides (Craig Morton was a ghastly 4-for-18 for 38 yards with a pick), Mel Renfro intercepted Bill Munson inside the Cowboys’ 15-yard line as the Lions were driving for the potential winning touchdown.
“This was the greatest win we’ve had for the Dallas Cowboys, I don’t think there’s any question about it,‘’ Coach Tom Landry said afterward.
NFL, NFLPA reach agreement on team travel protocol for training camp and preseason - Mike Florio, PFT
Some of the new rules for the 2020 season.
The NFL and NFL Players Association have reached an agreement regarding team travel protocols for 2020 training camp and preseason. The document implies strongly that there will be a preseason; however, it does not expressly state that preseason games will be played. (Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the length of the preseason is still being discussed.)
The sections of the detailed protocols focus on the rules for traveling by plane and bus, PPE use, disinfection of hotel rooms, airlines, buses, equipment, and luggage, rules for hotel employees and bus drivers, food service standards, and physical distancing requirements. The protocols also allow for discipline to be imposed in the event that club employees knowingly and materially fail to follow the protocols.
Highlights include mandatory masks for all members of the traveling party, limitations on the size of the traveling party (no more than 110 non-players), and no buffets.
Cowboys Have Several DBs Looking To Perform Big Entering Contract Seasons - Mathew Lennix, Inside the Star
The Cowboys have three defensive backs in contract years, and Xavier Woods can continue his rise for a big payday.
In the sixth-round, in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected Woods in an attempt to sure up the safety position. After a productive collegiate career at Louisiana Tech that saw him collect 14 interceptions in his final three years, Woods has been a solid pro. As a rookie, he finished with 42 tackles, three pass breakups, an interception, and a fumble recovery after appearing in all 16 games with four starts. In 2018, as one of the leaders of a top ten defensive unit, Woods elevated his game to 56 tackles, nine pass breakups, two interceptions, and a forced fumble in 14 games (missed two with a hamstring issue).
Even with the Cowboys 8-8 struggles as a team last season Woods was one of the few bright spots. Having his best season as a pro, Woods racked up 77 tackles, five pass breakups, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in 15 games (missed one with an ankle injury).
With a substantial pay increase well within his reach, Woods simply has to continue on the incline he’s been on in terms of production since he entered the league. He hasn’t put his name in the conversation with guys like Jamal Adams, Tyrann Mathieu, or Earl Thomas but Woods is a very solid free safety. However, in order to get the kind of money he’ll no doubt be seeking, he’ll have to raise his game to an even higher level this season.
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