Film room: How safety Keanu Neal fits with the Cowboys’ defense, and why he could also be utilized as a linebacker - John Owning, Dallas Morning News
Dan Quinn is very familiar with the former Falcons’ safety
In this scenario, by taking off the defense’s worst coverage defender — Jaylon Smith — and replacing him with Neal at WLB who is then replaced by Wilson at SS, it enables the Cowboys to get as much speed on the field as possible when the team is in nickel, which is used to combat when offenses use 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers), to defend against opposing passing attacks while still maintaining good enough run defense to stop opposing ground games.
In turn, with Smith at WLB and Neal at SS in the team’s base 4-3 defense, when opposing offenses beef up with 12 (one running back, two tight ends, two wide receivers) and 21 (two running backs, one tight end, two wide receivers) personnel, the Cowboys will have enough beef on the field to stop the run and Smith is much less of a weakness against bigger personnel groupings.
In plain terms, the Cowboys would have more coverage players on the field when teams are more likely to pass and more run defenders on the field when teams tend to run more, which I think is a great way to build a defense.
Whether Neal ultimately plays WILL LB or strong safety, it’s clear that he’s going to spend most of, if not all, his time in and around the box, which is where Neal has been a catalytic presence when healthy throughout his career.
How Will the Dallas Cowboys Deploy Keanu Neal in Dan Quinn’s Defense? - John Williams, Inside the Star
Neal’s versatility is his best ability.
Whether you call him a safety or a linebacker, what we do know is that he is a box player that can help the Dallas Cowboys play the run. On 294 run snaps, Neal recorded a stop 10 times. Compare that to Xavier Woods who recorded just 12 run stops on 434 run-downs or Donovan Wilson who had eight run stops on 300 snaps against the run. Neal’s 3.4% run stop percentage would have led the Dallas Cowboys’ safeties.
Neal is a physical player that will help the Cowboys in the middle of their defense. And as John Owning of the Dallas Morning News notes, the Cowboys could plan to use Neal as a nickel linebacker, bringing Wilson in to play strong safety. As teams play a vast majority of their offensive snaps from 11 personnel in the modern NFL, Neal would then be coming here to play linebacker. Also, be sure to check out John Owning’s film breakdownover at the Dallas Morning News.
What can be expected of this Cowboys’ free agent class? According to the last 8 years, not much - David Moore, Dallas Morning News
Moore isn’t too stoked about this class’ potential:
But there’s a reason Cowboys fans have grown indifferent to the personnel moves their team usually makes in March.
Dallas signed 29 players in this phase of free agency over the previous eight years. Eight never made it to the field for a regular-season game. Four were cut, and another retired before the season was complete.
If that percentage holds, at least one member of the current class won’t make it out of training camp and another should be gone before Thanksgiving.
Five of the last eight free agent classes failed to produce double-digits starts in that season. Combined.
Six of those classes failed to yield 35 games played.
More projections as the annual selection skirmish draws closer.
Dallas Cowboys Trade Pick 10 to the New York Jets for Picks 23, 34 and 86
Having grabbed a QB with the No. 2 overall pick, New York is determined to add an elite WR to complete the pairing. With DeVonte Smith sliding to 10, they offer up three top-100 picks in return and the Dallas Cowboys gladly take it.
Picking at 23 is a significant drop for the Cowboys but it puts them in position to draft appropriately-rated defensive talent, in addition to giving them extra darts to throw at the dart board.
Round 1, Pick 23
Greg Newsome II, CB
The Dallas Cowboys need a starting boundary cornerback opposite Trevon Diggs. We don’t know what the future holds for Jourdan Lewis but chances are it’s either in the slot or at safety. If Brown is retained (a big if) he could play outside but we all know that’s far from optimal. A Day 1 starter on the outside is a clear need.
Greg Newsome II has been rocketing up draft boards as of late and for good reason: His film is impressive and his Pro Day was top-notch.
NFL analyst Brian Baldinger: Why WFT is NFC East favorite right now, plus a dream Cowboys draft scenario - SportsDay Staff, Dallas Morning News
The team with no name sits atop Baldinger’s NFC East picks.
Who are the NFC East favorites right now – Washington with Fitzpatrick or Dallas with Dak?
Baldinger: “I don’t know, you could throw them all up in the air and see how they land today or tomorrow. … I think the Washington Football Team got better. Think they had an elite defense last year. That got better with the signing of [William Jackson III]. I think the quarterback situation is a lot more stable with Ryan Fitzpatrick. And adding a guy like Curtis Samuel, who is faster than the wind, to go with Terry McLaurin, I mean, I think they’ve gotten a lot better. So, I probably, today, on Friday, March 19, give me the Football Team.”
Troy Aikman Says He Finally ‘Took Ownership’ of the Cowboys in 1990: I Was ‘Really Part of the Problem’ - Scott Jenkins, Sportscasting.com
Aikman wasn’t always the win producer he’s so widely known as now.
Aikman admits that in 1989, when the team was already bad “It’s hard to take ownership for how bad you are as a rookie. As he entered his second season in the league, he started to feel “real pressure” and felt if the team doesn’t win, “I’m really part of the problem.”
The Cowboys won their season opener in 1990, giving Aikman his first NFL win and taking some of the pressure off of him. But the Cowboys found themselves 3-7 after 10 games, and then the season started to turn around. They went to Anaheim to play the Rams, who were a good team at the time, and the Cowboys won the game, and Aikman says it “really propelled” the team.
The Cowboys won four straight to get to 7-7, but his season ended the next week when he separated his shoulder in a game with the Eagles. The team finished 7-9, just missing the playoffs.
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