With the 2018 NFL season behind us, Dallas must shift its focus to improving various grey areas on this young Cowboys roster.
The Cowboys defense saw plenty of growth this season and it certainly left people stunned at the dominance the Cowboys carried on this side of the ball. Still, it became exposed by top-scoring offenses, most recently by the L.A. Rams.
On the other hand, the Dallas defense was in true elite form when they held the Saints, another top-scoring offense, to a jaw-dropping 10 points in Week 13.
The addition of passing game coordinator Kris Richard undoubtedly brought this group to a whole new level. Richard ignited an attitude that very well may have saved the Cowboys’ season as he paved the way for a defense-driven team. As the status for Richard’s role next season remains unknown, it’s as important as ever to solidify the safety and defensive line positions, including positions on the offensive line.
Earl Thomas, anybody?
Last season the Cowboys passed on six-time Pro Bowler Earl Thomas because they were simply unwilling to pay the man. Dallas could still use a “high-profile” play maker at safety, but the question remains about whether or not they can afford one.
Totaling 74 tackles and one interception this season, Jeff Heath isn’t exactly known for consistency and his rocky performance against the Rams served as a cruel reminder that the Cowboys desperately need to upgrade this role.
Jerry Jones has commented on the plan of drafting a free agent and he let it be known that the team plans to explore its options in the draft, a sign of good faith. The team is lacking a dominant playmaker in its secondary and I am confident (optimistic) that the position will be solidified this off season.
Defensive Line (DT, DE)
The biggest question surrounding the Cowboys defense is where Demarcus Lawrence stands with this team next season, but if you ask me there is no way the Cowboys are letting him walk. The Tank is going to get paid and rightfully so. Even with the security of DLaw, beefing up the defensive line will do this team some good.
Maliek Collins had a defining game in the post season against Seattle where he demonstrated just how explosive he can be. He’s been a pleasant surprise for the Cowboys as has DT Antwaun Woods but that depth chart doesn’t really expand past David Irving, who has missed “multiple” mandatory drug tests and is jeopardizing his place in the NFL. The Cowboys need to be prepared to handle potential injuries or seasonal adjustments. The more hot boyz the merrier.
“The offensive line has seen some substantial change the past two seasons, and will likely see more moving forward,” said staff writer Darreck Kirby.
The absence of Center Travis Frederick was deeply felt all season as the offensive line dwindled before our eyes. Fortunately, the All-Pro is set to return for the 2019 season and his impact is going to make all the difference for this team. Regardless, the Cowboys need to address the depth of the offensive line.
There has been speculation that La’el Collins could be re-positioned to left guard, which in turn would leave Connor Williams at right tackle. While there is still no definite truth to these rumors, it is true that Collins has been struggling at RT while Williams has taken some time to develop. Beyond that, Xavier Su’a-filo showed promise filling in at left guard after Williams suffered an injury in November. Having gained starter experience, both Su’a-filo and Joe Looney will play integral parts when restructuring the O-Line next season.
Backup left tackle Cameron Fleming wasn’t as much of a contribution as the team needed meaning that an viable LT should be prioritized to cover for Tyron Smith. Fleming will become an unrestricted free agent this off season and his roster status remains in question.
The absolute wonderful thing about this Cowboys roster is the all-around youth, the willingness to adapt and be coachable as we’ve seen this season. Yes, the Cowboys have some serious business to take care of this offseason, but I am confident in this teams ability to continue moving forward.
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