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Cowboys news: Defense is a problem, but getting Ezekiel Elliott going again is also a big issue

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Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Three key offseason decisions for the Dallas Cowboys - Adam Schultz, Franchise Sports

Sure the Cowboys defense needs fixing, but the running game could use a boost on offense.

Rediscover Zeke Elliott’s mojo

Like many of his teammates, it was a year to forget for Ezekiel Elliott. Granted much of that was down to one, Dak being injured and two, the offensive line was decimated through injury. Tyron Smith, La’el Collins, Travis Frederick retired, and Zack Martin was banged up and missed the last few games. The big gaping holes to run through were simply not there.

The offensive line at one point had been reshuffled to an extent where Tyler Biadasz and Terence Steele (both rookies) were starting and Zack Martin even moved his position to compensate.

His inability to protect the football was a lowlight this year also, fumbling six times and in truth was one of the major reasons the Cowboys lost games early. Elliott only had two 100 yard rushing games this season and only six rushing touchdowns. His season total of 979 rush yards was his lowest since he entered the league.

Whether it was just Zeke having an off-year or simply down to the depleted offensive line, there is room for improvement for Zeke. A huge offseason lies ahead, not just for him but the entire Cowboys organization.

Is it Time for the Cowboys to Move On From Xavier Woods? Matthew Lenix, Inside the Star

The Xavier Woods question still lingers for Dallas.

It’s been a question that’s been asked for years now. “When are the Dallas Cowboys going to address the safety position?”. Donovan Wilson emerged in 2020 with a stellar second year that saw him register 71 tackles, 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries in 10 starts. He’s set to be the starter at strong safety for the foreseeable future, however, there’s a big question mark opposite him at the free safety position.

2020 was a contract season for Xavier Woods. He recorded over 70 tackles for the second consecutive season. However, he was a liability in coverage far too often. Woods has always been able to lay the big hit, but he hasn’t been a consistent playmaker at free safety, and that was on full display, unfortunately, in 2020.

Woods was only credited with one pass deflection this season. What’s even worse, he didn’t record a single interception, forced fumble, or fumble recovery. The Cowboys will run a single-high safety scheme under new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn which requires the free safety to be able to be a center fielder and make plays in the deep passing game and patrol sideline to sideline. Unfortunately, Woods hasn’t shown the ability to that regularly.

Mike McCarthy Statement On Loss Of Ted Thompson - David Helman, The Mothership

Mike McCarthy has experienced a lot of loss recently with the deaths of Markus Paul, Kevin Greene, and now his long-time GM in Green Bay, Ted Thompson.

“You will hear from a lot of people who will tell you great things about Ted Thompson and what he meant to them and every word will be true. But when I think about Ted, who he was as a man, will always carry more weight than what he did professionally. There has never been a finer human being to walk the playing fields or have a presence in the scouting rooms.

Ted gave me an opportunity of a lifetime. As a young first-time head coach, who thought he had all the answers, I couldn’t have been matched with a more perfect leader. He taught me patience. I will forever remember all of the times he would simply smile at me and say, “slow down young man.”

He always protected and reinforced the importance of the tradition and history of the Green Bay Packers. It wasn’t enough just to win—it was equally important to win the right way. He exuded those qualities in everything he approached in football and in life.”

Cowboys Officially Announce 3 Coaching Moves - Rob Phillips, The Mothership

The Cowboys made official there three recent hires, including defensive line coach Aden Durde.

Aden Durde joins the Cowboys as the defensive line coach after spending the previous three seasons on the defensive staff with the Atlanta Falcons in multiple roles. Durde was promoted to outside linebackers coach in 2020 after serving two seasons as a defensive assistant on Quinn’s staff in Atlanta.

In 2019 Durde worked with a defensive line unit that was anchored by Grady Jarrett and Tyeler Davison. The Falcons defense held opponents to 103.5 rushing yards-per-game over the final eight weeks of the season, which ranked 10th in the NFL. Additionally, the Falcons tallied 21 sacks over the final eight games - tied for the 10th-most in the league during that span.

Durde joined the Falcons after serving as the head of football development at NFLUK, where he helped guide the International Player Pathway Program. Prior to his work with NFLUK, Durde spent training camp with the Falcons as part of the NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship and worked for the Cowboys at camp in 2014 in the same capacity.

Durde served as the defensive coordinator of the London Warriors for six seasons. Prior to that, he played linebacker in NFL Europe for six years with the Scottish Claymores and Hamburg Sea Devils while also spending time on the practice squads of the Carolina Panthers and Kansas City Chiefs.

AP sources: Eagles to hire Colts OC Nick Sirianni as HC to replace Doug Pederson - Associated Press

The Eagles got their man for head coach, and it wasn’t Kellen Moore.

[Nick] Sirianni worked with Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett and Philip Rivers in Indianapolis and coached Rivers in San Diego and Matt Cassel in Kansas City. Now he’s tasked with figuring out how to get Carson Wentz back to his 2017 form. Wentz finished third in NFL MVP voting that season and helped the Eagles earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC. He tore two knee ligaments in Week 14 and watched Nick Foles lead the team to victory over New England and earn Super Bowl MVP honors.

Wentz is coming off the worst season of his five-year career and was benched for rookie Jalen Hurts for the final four games in 2020. Wentz’s $128 million, four-year contract kicks in this year, making it difficult for the Eagles to trade him. Sirianni’s top priority has be to solving the quarterback dilemma.

Sirianni began his NFL coaching career as offensive quality control coach in Kansas City in 2009. He also served as an assistant quarterbacks coach and wide receivers coach during four seasons with the Chiefs.

Sirianni held the same positions during five seasons with the Chargers from 2013-17. He joined the Colts when Reich left Philadelphia to take over as head coach in 2018. The Colts finished top 10 in points and yards in two of Sirianni’s three seasons as offensive coordinator. They were top 10 in rushing offense the other season.

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