Long gone are the days of Demarco Murray pounding the rock behind number 9. Long gone are the days of number 9 being able to throw a lob up to Dez Bryant on the top route or a slant and know that a first down is assured. Long gone are all three of these players, and now, added to that list is the Cowboys’ 3rd down sure-thing, Jason Witten. Simply put, the Cowboys that we have known and loved for many years have ridden off into the sunset.
Cowboys nation is in flames. “What is Jerry thinking!? This team is going nowhere until he finally retires!”
Or, to offer a contrary opinion, perhaps the Dallas Cowboys just might be on to something here.
With Jason Witten announcing his retirement from the NFL after day one of the draft a few weeks ago, I was certain that we were in trouble on the offensive side of the ball. Leighton Vander Esch was a smart and relatively safe pick at LB (we all know how much Dallas loves to draft out of Boise State), but we needed answers for an offense that to me seemed to be hemorrhaging veteran talent at an alarming rate. But once the dust settled and the draft had concluded, I looked upon an offensive unit which, if properly utilized, could be lethal, and quite fun to watch.
Anyone who has watched a single Cowboys season knows that the crux of the Dallas offense is going to be behind their run game. With Zeke back and more than likely foaming at the mouth to get his rushing title back, it’s a safe bet that if he can stay out of trouble off the field he will get his due.
But things get rather interesting when we begin discussing their new approach to the passing game. It seems that the consensus around Cowboy Nation is that we dumped a top talent at WR, lost a first ballot Hall of Famer, and replaced them with the likes of Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Deonte Thompson, and a rookie out of Colorado State, aka not-Calvin Ridley.
Once again, I’m starting to hear sirens all over town.
The name of the game, as Jerry once put it, is creating a new offensive scheme which is more “Dak-friendly.”
It means putting the ball in Zeke’s hands first, then spreading the defense out with a wide package of plays more reflective of a player like Dak Prescott, who likes to throw much a safer pass than Romo. It’s a large part of why number 88 is now looking for another team.
We’ll start with Allen Hurns, who I don’t have a whole lot to say about other than he is a veteran presence who chose Dallas not as a money move, but because he felt it was the right place for him to come and grow as a player. And candidly, it doesn’t hurt that Jacksonville still owes him contract money. Clearly the Dallas brass see him as a potential for the WR1 position, simply because of who they wound up bringing in (and frankly, letting go) after his acquisition from the Jaguars.
Tavon Austin, who was acquired on the third day of the draft for a sixth-round pick from the Rams- although widely considered to be a fumble-prone bust- Is an interesting acquisition which has Scott Linehan’s fingerprints all over it. Linehan loves dynamic receivers who can make plays out of the backfield and has attempted to recreate that success through a number of players in recent years, mostly citing the injury-prone Lucky Whitehead and Lance Dunbar, who we don’t need to say much about. Linehan sees Tavon as his next mix-and-match receiver who can make plays from a number of different places on the field, and can play to Prescott’s strengths and help make this offense more “Dak-friendly”
There it is again, that term. Well, hope you’re not getting too tired of it yet.
Dallas passed on Calvin Ridley in the first round and settled on a kid from Colorado State, who your fair-weather college football fan probably hasn’t ever heard of.
Enter Michael Gallup, aka not-Calvin Ridley, aka Captain Dak-Friendly.
There are only a few things you need to know about this kid, one of them being that he is a laser-accurate route runner. His IQ on the field will gain him yards in this league, and ultimately Dak Prescott’s trust. The other is explained in an interesting visual that I stumbled across from Pro Football Focus and couldn’t help but add in here. This ought to be fairly self- explanatory:
No explanation needed there. This Gallup kid is going to play Dak’s game, and vice-versa. Add in some sneaky quickness and a Dez-like ability to pull the ball down, and suddenly you’ve forgotten which team actually wound up with Ridley.
Now I wouldn’t be planning to draft any of these guys early in any of your fantasy leagues this season but hopefully have been able to draw a picture in your mind similar to what I see. Combine all of these new pieces with a Brice-Butler type deep threat in Deonte Thompson, a stud RB in Zeke, a little option creativity on the feet of Dak, and a little more sauce from Cole Beasley, and the end result could wind up being a colorful play package that is tailor-made to be “Dak-friendly”, and something that will surprise and excite Cowboy fans come September, even if right now they are thinking of sharpening their pitchforks.
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