A player-for-player trade that could mutually benefit the Cowboys and Raiders. (Our own Connor Livesay proposed the Cowboys look at Clelin Ferell earlier this week).
Raiders and Cowboys Make a Blockbuster Deal
Las Vegas Raiders receive: LB Jaylon Smith
Dallas Cowboys receive: DE Clelin Ferell
The Cowboys are loaded at linebacker, but their preferred defensive scheme makes some of this talent expendable.
Dallas has Micah Parsons, Keanu Neal, Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith under contract, but it almost exclusively utilized nickel packages in the season opener. The defense lined up in a traditional nickel and “heavy nickel” package—featuring three safeties and two cornerbacks—on all but two snaps against the Buccaneers.
Because of this, the Cowboys only deployed Vander Esch for 14 defensive snaps and had Smith on the field for 16.
Smith accounts for $9.8 million against the cap for the 2021 season, too much for a player who logged 25 percent of the defensive snaps in Week 1. Unless the coaching staff plans to get him more involved, it would be more beneficial and financially sensible to trade him.
The Raiders would be an ideal landing spot. Vegas started the season with a victory but gave up 27 points to the Ravens. More concerningly, it allowed 189 rushing yards to a depleted Baltimore backfield.
Time for Cowboys to consider Micah Parsons at DE without DeMarcus Lawrence - Sean Martin, Inside The Star
It may not be full-time, but Micah Parsons could very well see more snaps at DE.
Without Lawrence for the next 6-8 weeks, and much depth at defensive end, the Cowboys will have to use their strengths elsewhere to make up for the loss of their best defender. With Keanu Neal, Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and Jabril Cox, the Cowboys have the depth at linebacker to consider moving Parsons down to left end. While he may not provide the same pass rush ability as Lawrence, this is a player that can set the edge and allow other LBs to get to the ball.
Parsons was used in coverage against Bucs TE Rob Gronkowski in the first game for the Cowboys defense under Dan Quinn. Gronkowski caught eight passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns.
Quinn’s plan for a rotation at linebacker based on weekly match ups would change considerably if Parsons sees more snaps on the edge. For Sunday’s game against the Chargers, the Cowboys need to get the ball out of Justin Herbert’s hands quickly and not allow him to extend plays. They’ll see plenty of in-breaking quick routes to Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, where Parsons is better off in coverage compared to Smith or Vander Esch.
With Smith and Vander Esch both being veterans with starting experience, this still may be the better alignment compared to unproven DEs like Bradlee Anae and Dorance Armstrong seeing more snaps. Both players will be on the field regardless against the Chargers as it’s unlikely the Cowboys will have Randy Gregory on Sunday as well.
The Cowboys defense definitely needs to step up their game, especially with multiple starters out.
The Dallas coaching staff is well-aware of who will be lining up across from them on Sunday, preparing as if they’d be facing a Dak Prescott or Russell Wilson given Herbert’s ability to extend plays and keep his eyes down the field.
But the weapons around Herbert will also be difficult to contain. Much like WRs Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin each recorded 100+ receiving yards in Week 1, multiple Chargers receivers might be keeping the likes of Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis very busy.
Veteran WR Keenan Allen is still plenty capable of doing damage all over the field, but the complimentary pieces around him are also very talented. Mike Williams, the 6-4 big-bodied wideout, makes contested catches with the best of them, and speedster Jalen Guyton, a former Cowboys UDFA and University of North Texas product is also making progress in his third season. Noted Cowboys killer TE Jared Cook also lingers as another receiving threat for Herbert, who joined Los Angeles on a one-year, $6 million dollar deal in the offseason.
“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.” - Theodore Roosevelt
So, here are the Los Angeles Chargers. Fresh off a road victory against the Cowboys’ divisional foe Washington, the Chargers get their first home game of 2021. What better situation could they have than a heavily limited Dallas team heading back on the road again? Let’s get to know thy enemy a little better as we break down the matchup between Dallas and Los Angeles.
Facing the Chargers was already going to be a tough proposition. Doing so with a severe lack of a pass rush could not be less ideal. The Chargers have one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL in Justin Herbert. Last year’s Pepsi Next Rookie of the Year and AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, Herbert should be the focal point of any defense.
Herbert has nine 300+ yard games in his first sixteen. He has four games with three or more touchdown passes and no interceptions. While his immediate personal success did not initially translate into wins for the Chargers, they have won their last five games with Herbert under center.
Malik Hooker’s career resurrection could start in Week 2 with the Cowboys.
Is Malik Hooker ready to sprint to the rescue?
“I think,” said Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy, searching for answers as Dallas gets ready for Sunday’s kickoff at the Los Angeles Chargers, “he’s clearly back physically.”
If that’s true, Hooker, the former Colts first-pick who has been consistently plagued by injuries during his NFL career, has a shot at stardom.
But first he needs to be on the active game-day list, which wasn’t the case for the Week 1 loss at Tampa Bay.
If Hooker has indeed put his 2020 Achilles surgery behind him, the free-agent signee’s debut will be well-timed. Starting strong safety Donovan Wilson spent the week resting a groin injury and is not making the trip to L.A. Damontae Kazee, last week’s starter at Hooker’s natural free safety spot, is dealing with a thigh injury, though he will try to play. (Starting defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are also out Sunday.)
Enter Hooker, who could be counted on to help contain budding star QB Justin Herbert and the Chargers passing attack.
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