We conclude our Dallas Cowboys midseason progress report by identifying a list of underachievers we are putting on Athletic Probation. There could be a number of reasons these players make the list and we’ll offer up our explanations.
This week on The Star Seminar, my podcast partner (Rabblerousr) and I had three Cowboys experts on our show to discuss the performance of certain players. We had Pro Football Focus’ John Owning, Girls Talk, ‘Boys Talk co-host Jess Nevarez, and Dallas Cowboys dot com TV host Kyle Youmans on to help us create this list, and today we are identifying five players who haven’t lived up to expectations thus far.
Jess Nevarez kicked things off by mentioning that the team’s top tight end hasn’t performed as he has over the previous two seasons. Sure, there are injury-related factors that have played into that, but here is what Jess had to say about Schultz’s performance thus far.
“The player I’m putting on athletic probation is Dalton Schultz and there are two reasons for that - Peyton Hendershot and Jake Ferguson. When you’re in a franchise-tag year, you got to step it up, and we know he has been battling injury and we do not fault him for that whatsoever, but when you have this tight end room looking as sharp and as young as they look, Schultz is going to have to step it up if he wants that big contract he’s looking for. I say Dalton Schultz for now, but I say it very light-heartedly as he’s become a clutch staple for Dak Prescott.”
Kyle Youmans mentioned how many thought Schultz was replaceable and how the team’s young tight ends, “Frick and Frack” are helping support those claims, but then he brought up another player who the front office thought could be a replacement for their former top WR. Here is what Kyle had to say about third-year receiver CeeDee Lamb.
“One guy you thought was replaceable last year was Amari Cooper. You thought you had a number one on your WR receiving core, and you thought you had a guy who was going to step up to that next level, but you haven’t had that yet in CeeDee Lamb. I still have a ton of faith in CeeDee, but I am going to put him on Athletic Probation because he’s got to be better. He can’t keep being this under 100 yards receiver and he needs to show that he can play the way he did against the Patriots last year, make the big catch, body up on guys, and be that next-level guy.”
John Owning is a master of trench play, so it’s not surprising to see him identify a defensive lineman who has had such a little impact on the defense's stellar play this season. Here is what John had to offer up regarding Neville Gallimore.
“He’s someone who people hoped would take a big step forward and become a real impact interior defender for the Cowboys, but he hasn’t been that. He’s been getting moved a lot laterally, especially on zone concepts in the run game. He hasn’t been able to stay attached to his gaps very well and he hasn’t made an impact as a pass rusher. And that is why you’ve seen him tumble down the depth chart from a guy who was supposed to be an impact starter to a guy who is just a cog in the rotation.”
Kyle asked John to explain the difference in what he’s seen from Gallimore vs. second-year rising star Osa Odighizuwa. Here is John’s response.
“Osa is ahead of Nevile, his footwork, his hand technique, just the way he integrates his hands and his feet. The breadth of his pass-rushing repertoire is much better than Gallimore.”
John had a perfect analogy to explain the difference between these two.
“Gallimore is like a boxer who throws one strike at a time, he’ll throw a jab, he’ll throw a cross, he’ll throw a hook. But Osa is a guy who can throw in combinations, and that allows him to be a lot more effective on a snap-by-snap basis.”
My choice was the team’s third-round pick in April’s draft, who may have been somewhat the victim of elevated expectations, but I did not expect that Jalen Tolbert’s face would be on a milk carton as he has been missing all year.
“This might be a little unfair because he’s a rookie, but I really thought he would have a stronger role on this team, and to see him inactive so many times is surprising. I know he doesn’t play special teams and his path to reps is different, but for us to be this far in the season and for him to be essentially non-existent.”
Rabblerousr brought up a player many of us have forgotten about as there has been so much good coming from the defense, that it’s easy to make Jabril Cox an afterthought. Here is what Rabs had to say about the second-year LB from LSU.
“Last year we were really excited about Jabril Cox, especially in a league that was featuring a lot of short passes, increasing the need for linebackers who were elite pass defenders. We had envisioned him and Micah Parsons being incredibly fast, incredibly dynamic linebackers, but I think we’ve been holding our breath in collective anticipation waiting for him to be that kind of player. It beg’s the question - what in the world is going on with Jabril Cox?”
That is our group of underperformers so far this year. Are there any players you think we have left off this list?