2018 DALLAS COWBOYS FOOTBALL PREVIEW

HEAD COACH: Jason Garrett

2017 RECORD: 9 – 7

2017 DIVISIONAL RECORD: 5 – 1

RECORD WITH COWBOYS: 67 – 53

CAREER RECORD 67 – 53

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Scott Linehan

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Rod Marinelli

STADIUM: AT&T Stadium (100,000)

 

2018 SCHEDULE

September 9 at Carolina

September 16 NY Giants

September 23 at Seattle

September 30 Detroit

October 7 at Houston

October 14 Jacksonville

October 21 at Washington

BYE

November 5 Tennessee

November 11 at Philadelphia

November 18 at Atlanta

November 22 Washington

November 29 New Orleans

December 9 Philadelphia

December 16 at Indianapolis

December 23 Tampa Bay

December 30 at NY Giants

 

2017 RESULTS

NY Giants 19 – 3

Denver 17 – 42

Arizona 20 – 17

LA Rams 30 – 35

Green Bay 31 – 35

San Francisco 40 – 10

Washington 33 – 19

Kansas City 20 – 17

Atlanta 7 – 27

Philadelphia 9 – 37

LA Chargers 6 – 28

Washington 38 – 14

NY Giants 30 – 10

Oakland 20 – 17

Seattle 12 – 21

Philadelphia 6 – 0

 

FIVE YEAR WINNING TREND

2013: 8

2014: 12

2015: 4

2016: 13

2017: 9

 

STARTERS RETURNING OFFENSE: 8

STARTERS RETURNING DEFENSE: 9

 

2017 TEAM STATS

OFFENSE

TOTAL: 331.9

RUSHING: 135.6

PASSING: 196.3

SCORING: 22.1

THIRD DOWN%: 42.9

PUNT RETURNS: 8.9

KICK RETURNS: 24.8

 

DEFENSE

TOTAL: 318.1

RUSHING: 104.0

PASSING: 214.1

SCORING: 20.8

INTERCEPTIONS: 10

SACKS: 38

TURNOVER MARGIN: -1

 

2017 INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

PASSING: Dak Prescott, 308 – 490 –3,324 – 22TD – 13INT

RUSHING: Ezekiel Elliott, 242 – 983 – 4.1 – 7TD

RECEIVING: Dez Bryant, 69 – 838 – 12.1 – 6TD

TACKLES: Sean Lee, 101

SACKS: Demarcus Lawrence, 14.5

INTERCEPTIONS: Jeff Heath, 3.0

KICKING: Dan Bailey, 15 – 20FG, 26 – 28PAT, 71 points

 

2018 DALLAS DRAFT: GRADE B+

Leighton Vander Esch, LB Boise State

Connor Williams, OL Texas

Michael Gallup, WR Colorado State

Dorance Armstrong, DE Kansas

Dalton Schultz, TE Stanford

Mike White, QB Western Kentucky

Chris Covington, LB Indiana

Cedric Wilson, WR Boise State

Both Scarbrough, RB Alabama

 

KEY PLAYER MOVEMENT

ADDITIONS

WR/RB Tavon Austin, LA Rams

DE Kony Ealy, NY Jets

OT Cameron Fleming, New England

WR Allen Hurns, Jacksonville

OG Marcus Martin, Cleveland

FB Jamize Olawale, Oakland

WR Deonte Thompson, Buffalo

OT Jihad Ward, Oakland

 

LOSSES

OT Byron Bell, free agent

WR Dez Bryant, free agent

OG Jonathan Cooper, San Francisco

TE James Hanna, retired

LB Anthony Hitchens, Kansas City

CB Orlando Scandrick, Washington

FB Keith Smith, Oakland

TE Jason Witten, retired

 

OFFENSE PREVIEW

The departures of quarterback Tony Romo, wide receiver Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten are a sign the Cowboys are headed in a new direction. This team now belongs to quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott. Some may consider the Cowboys to be at a crossroads and others consider this to be nothing more than a transition to a new era.

Prescott must regain his rookie touch after winning 13 games in 2016, the Cowboys one just nine in 2017. He threw for fewer touchdowns, fewer yards and had a lower passer rating. Prescott had issues throwing the ball downfield and that caused issues with Bryant. Opposing defensive coordinators the Cowboys from throwing underneath. Dallas plans on using more of a college spread formation this season which will make it more comfortable for Prescott making reads and throwing to open receivers. Kellen Moore replaced Wade Wilson as Dallas’ quarterbacks coach which may help Prescott in 2018.

Prescott will have the services of running back Ezekiel Elliott for the entire 2018 season. He missed six games last season while serving a suspension for domestic abuse. Elliott led the NFL in rushing his rookie season with 1,631 yards. In 10 games last season, he rushed for 983. The Cowboys traded for Tavon Austin and will use him as a running back after the Rams mainly used him as a receiver. Rod Smith and draft pick Bo Scarbrough will serve as the primary backups. The Cowboys traded with Oakland for fullback Jamize Olawale who will replace Keith Smith.

For the first time since 2009, Dallas will lineup without receiver Dez Bryant. It’s apparent the Cowboys feel they don’t need a number one receiver in this offense especially the way Prescott can spread the ball around. Dallas signed Deonte Thompson who caught a career-high 38 passes in his time between Buffalo and Chicago in 2017. They also signed Allen Hurns, whom Jacksonville released after missing 11 games with injuries over the last two seasons. Michael Gallup was drafted in the third round out of Colorado State and will be joined by Terrence Williams and Cole Beasley to provide plenty of depth. Beasley’s numbers dipped last season dropping by 39 receptions from 2016. Dallas will use more three – receiver sets use a committee approach.

Losing Jason Witten will be a huge hurdle to overcome, not just on the field but through his leadership. Dallas didn’t get an opportunity to sign a quality free agent in the off-season so they will go with a committee approach with Rico Gathers, Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin and fourth round selection Dalton Schultz out of Stanford.

The offensive line will look to regain its reputation as the best line in the National Football League. When Doug Free retired, Ron Leary left as a free agent and left tackle Tyron Smith suffered through various injuries, Dallas struggled upfront. If Smith is healthy, he’ll join center Travis Frederick, La’el Collins, Zach Martin, newly acquired Marcus Martin and tackle Cameron Fleming to form a formidable offensive line. Dallas drafted OT Connor Williams, a three-year starter at Texas, but they plan on moving him to left guard.

 

DEFENSE PREVIEW

DE DeMarcus Lawrence is undoubtedly the leader upfront after recording 14.5 sacks in 2017. Lawrence recorded only nine sacks in his first three seasons in Dallas until his breakout season last year. Tyrone Crawford will start opposite Lawrence. Dallas also signed Kony Ealy to go along with last year’s first – round choice Taco Charlton and Randy Gregory. Gregory looks to return from a year – long suspension. Dorance Armstrong was drafted in the fourth round out of Kansas to provide depth.

Dallas is high on DT David Irving, who had seven sacks in just eight games last season. Maliek Collins will continue at nose guard. The Cowboys also traded for Jihad Ward.

Dallas will miss linebacker Anthony Hitchens, but may have found a replacement in the first round by selecting Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch. He is expected to start at middle linebacker, pushing Jaylon Smith to the strong side. Sean Lee, when healthy, is the mainstay of this defense. He has missed 42 games because of injury in the last eight seasons. Damien Wilson has started 15 games over the last two years, providing depth at linebacker.

Over the past two seasons, Dallas has remade their secondary. Gone are Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Church, JJ Wilcox and Orlando Scandrick. Byron Jones will move from safety to corner. He started 16 games at free safety last season, but has trouble in run support and only two interceptions. New secondary coach Kris Richard will go with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Anthony Brown, Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath and Kavon Frazier. Dallas may look to upgrade during training camp.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker Dan Bailey had a rough year after missing five field goals and two extra points. He did miss four games with a groin injury, so the Cowboys are hoping that’s the reason for his inconsistency. Punter Chris Jones averaged 44.1 yards per kick and 41.4 net yards.

Trading for Austin from the Rams will give Dallas a game – breaker at punt returner and at kick returner.

 

WHAT THE SCOUTS ARE SAYING

Dallas was a different team without Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott wasn’t the same quarterback. He was not as accurate or as careful with the football. Prescott was forced to make too many tight – window throws because Jason Witten and Dez Bryant couldn’t get separation. Their best players are on the offensive line. Terrence Williams is more of a #3 receiver, Cole Beasley is a #3 slot receiver. That will put more pressure on draft picks Michael Gallup and Dalton Schultz. DE Demarcus Lawrence is under the franchise tag simply because he is a game – changer in his fifth season. Dallas will have to count on Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith to stay healthy after losing Anthony Hitchens and Orlando Scandrick to free agency. Leighton Vander Esch has huge potential. Their secondary started three rookies last season and all held up well. Now they are a year older and a year wiser. If Elliott can stay on the field, with sub – standard skill players around him, the Cowboys are good enough to compete for a division championship. In reality though, they are more like a .500 football team.

 

PREDICTION

Head Coach Jason Garrett could be on the hot seat especially after most of his assistant coaches were let go after last season. Garrett has only to play up appearances and one postseason when in seven full seasons as the Cowboys head coach. Coordinators Scott Linehan and Rod Marinelli are back so that will provide consistency on both sides of the football. In addition to their own tough division, Dallas has the NFC South on their schedule which includes New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Carolina and Atlanta.

 

PROJECTED FINISH: 3rd NFC East

 

ROSTER ANALYSIS:

AVERAGE HEIGHT: 6’2”

AVERAGE WEIGHT: 244.7

AVERAGE AGE: 25.3

AVERAGE EXPERIENCE: 3.1

 

 

2018 ROSTER

Appleby, Austin

3             QB          25           6’4″        240        1             Florida   –

Armstrong Jr., Dorance

74           DE          21           6’4″        246        R             Kansas   –

Ash, Richard

93           DE          25           6’3″        320        2             Western Michigan           –

Austin, Tavon

10           WR         28           5’8″        179        6             West Virginia      –

Awuzie, Chidobe

24           CB          23           6’0″        202        2             Colorado             –

Bailey, Dan

5             K             30           6’0″        195        8             Oklahoma State –

Baldwin, Darryl

72           T             26           6’6″        305        1             Ohio State           –

Baron, Woody

68           DE          24           6’1″        270        1             Virginia Tech      –

Beasley, Cole

11           WR         29           5’8″        180        7             Southern Methodist        –

Brown, Anthony

30           CB          24           5’11”      196        3             Purdue  –

Brown, Brian

18           WR         23           6’0″        204        1             Richmond            –

Brown, Noah

85           WR         22           6’2″        225        2             Ohio State           –

Brown-Dukes, Brandon

–              RB          26           5’8″        200        1             Mercyhurst         –

Bryant, Dez

88           WR         29           6’2″        220        9             Oklahoma State –

Burbank, Ross

61           C             25           6’4″        310        1             Virginia –

Butler, Dejaun

37           CB          24           5’11”      180        1             Hawaii   –

Campos, Jake

63           T             23           6’8″        300        R             Iowa State           –

Cannon, K.D.

81           WR         22           6’0″        182        1             Baylor   –

Carrell, Jordan

69           DT          23           6’2″        290        1             Colorado             –

Carroll, Nolan

24           CB          31           6’1″        202        9             Maryland             –

Charlton, Taco

97           DE          23           6’6″        270        2             Michigan             –

Chunn, Jordan

46           RB          23           6’1″        235        R             Troy       –

Coe, Michael

–              C             –              6’3″        300        1             North Dakota     –

Collins, La’el

71           T             24           6’4″        320        4             LSU        –

Collins, Maliek

96           DT          23           6’2″        308        3             Nebraska             –

Covington, Chris

59           LB           22           6’2″        230        R             Indiana  –

Crawford, Tyrone

98           DT          28           6’4″        290        7             Boise State          –

Daly, Scott

47           C             –              6’2″        250        R             Notre Dame        –

DeBord, Clay

67           T             26           6’6″        312        1             Eastern Washington        –

Durant, Justin

52           LB           32           6’1″        230        12           Hampton             –

Dysert, Zac

3             QB          28           6’3″        225        3             Miami (OH)         –

Ealy, Kony

76           DE          26           6’4″        275        5             Missouri               –

Earl, Malik

19           WR         22           6’3″        217        R             Missouri State    –

Edwards, Kadeem

78           G            27           6’4″        315        2             Tennessee State               –

Elliott, Ezekiel

21           RB          22           6’0″        228        3             Ohio State           –

Fleming, Cameron

75           T             25           6’6″        320        5             Stanford              –

Frazier, Kavon

35           S             23           6’0″        220        3             Central Michigan              –

Frederick, Travis

72           C             27           6’4″        320        6             Wisconsin            –

Gallup, Michael

13           WR         22           6’1″        200        R             Colorado State   –

Gathers, Rico

80           TE           24           6’6″        285        1             Baylor   –

Green, Chaz

79           T             26           6’5″        318        4             Florida   –

Green, John

44           CB          24           5’10”      190        1             Connecticut        –

Hamilton, Karel

13           WR         23           6’1″        205        1             Samford               –

Hamlett, Connor

86           TE           26           6’7″        260        1             Oregon State      –

Hanna, James

84           TE           28           6’4″        260        7             Oklahoma           –

Hearns, James

62           DE          24           6’3″        249        R             Louisville             –

Heath, Jeff

38           S             27           6’1″        212        6             Saginaw Valley   –

Herndon, Javontee

15           WR         25           6’0″        194        2             Arkansas              –

Hillman, Ronnie

34           RB          26           5’10”      195        6             San Diego State –

Huff, Marqueston

20           S             26           5’11”      196        4             Wyoming             –

Hurns, Allen

17           WR         26           6’3″        201        5             Miami (FL)           –

Irving, David

95           DT          24           6’7″        290        4             Iowa State           –

Jackson, Darius

–              RB          24           6’0″        220        2             Eastern Michigan             –

Jarwin, Blake

89           TE           23           6’5″        260        2             Oklahoma State –

Johnson, Bryce

61           G            –              6’5″        308        R             St. Cloud State   –

Johnson, Tre’von

56           LB           23           6’1″        235        1             Weber State       –

Jones, Byron

31           S             25           6’0″        205        4             Connecticut        –

Jones, Chris

6             P             28           6’0″        205        7             Carson-Newman              –

Jones, Datone

56           DE          27           6’5″        288        6             UCLA     –

Jones, Jarron

69           T             24           6’6″        320        1             Notre Dame        –

Kelly, Kam

37           CB          21           6’2″        200        R             San Diego State –

Ladouceur, L.P.

91           LB           37           6’5″        256        14           California            –

Lanning, Joel

43           LB           23           6’2″        230        R             Iowa State           –

Larkin, Austin

65           DE          23           6’3″        255        R             Purdue  –

Lawrence, DeMarcus

90           DE          26           6’3″        265        5             Boise State          –

Lee, Sean

50           LB           31           6’2″        245        9             Penn State          –

Lenoir, Lance

14           WR         23           6’0″        210        1             Western Illinois –

Lewis, Jourdan

27           CB          22           5’10”      195        2             Michigan             –

Looney, Joe

73           C             27           6’3″        315        6             Wake Forest       –

Lotulelei, John

47           LB           26           5’11”      235        4             UNLV     –

Louis, Lamar

47           LB           24           5’11”      223        1             LSU        –

Maher, Brett

2             K             28           6’0″        186        1             Nebraska             –

Mama, Damien

–              G            22           6’3″        342        1             USC        –

March-Lillard, Justin

53           LB           24           6’0″        222        4             Akron    –

Martin, Marcus

63           C             24           6’3″        310        5             USC        –

Martin, Zack

70           G            27           6’4″        315        5             Notre Dame        –

McCown, Luke

3             QB          36           6’4″        217        13           Louisiana Tech   –

McDuffie, Quincy

14           WR         27           5’10”      179        1             UCF        –

McFadden, Darren

20           RB          30           6’1″        222        11           Arkansas              –

McFarland, M.J.

42           TE           25           6’5″        253        1             UTEP     –

McKay, Mekale

–              WR         24           6’5″        210        1             Cincinnati            –

Moore, Damontre’

58           DE          25           6’4″        260        6             Texas A&M         –

Moore, Kellen

17           QB          28           6’0″        200        7             Boise State          –

Morris, Alfred

46           RB          29           5’10”      222        7             Florida Atlantic  –

Morris, James

40           LB           26           6’2″        245        3             Iowa      –

Murdock, Marchie

18           WR         23           6’1″        205        R             Iowa State           –

Myers, Levon

–              T             24           6’5″        309        1             Northern Illinois               –

Neal, Lewis

66           RB          23           6’0″        280        2             LSU        –

Nwachukwu, Uzoma

16           WR         27           5’11”      210        1             Texas A&M         –

Olawale, Jamize

49           RB          29           6’1″        240        6             North Texas        –

Olumba, Donovan

32           CB          –              6’2″        195        R             Portland State    –

Osborne, DeQuinton

67           DT          –              6’0″        305        R             Oklahoma State –

Paea, Stephen

55           DT          30           6’1″        295        8             Oregon State      –

Pinkins, Eric

–              LB           26           6’3″        220        3             San Diego State –

Prescott, Dak

4             QB          24           6’2″        238        3             Mississippi State              –

Price, Brian

92           DT          23           6’3″        318        2             Texas-San Antonio           –

Queiro, Kyle

41           LB           –              6’3″        220        R             Northwestern     –

Robertson, Jay

64           T             22           6’3″        300        R             Tennessee           –

Robinson, Tyree

23           S             –              6’3″        199        R             Oregon –

Romo, Tony

9             QB          38           6’2″        230        15           Eastern Illinois   –

Ross, Daniel

68           DE          25           6’3″        305        2             Northeast Mississippi CC              –

Rush, Cooper

7             QB          24           6’3″        225        2             Central Michigan              –

Scarbrough, Bo

36           RB          21           6’2″        235        R             Alabama              –

Schultz, Dalton

86           TE           21           6’6″        242        R             Stanford              –

Shockley, Ed

42           LB           –              5’11”      235        R             Villanova             –

Showers, Jameill

28           S             26           6’2″        222        1             UTEP     –

Smith, Jaylon

54           LB           22           6’2″        245        2             Notre Dame        –

Smith, Rod

45           RB          26           6’3″        235        4             Ohio State           –

Smith, Tyron

77           T             27           6’5″        320        8             USC        –

Stanton, Dustin

67           G            24           6’6″        298        1             Oregon State      –

Sturm, Dalton

1             QB          22           6’2″        205        R             Texas-San Antonio           –

Swaim, Geoff

87           TE           24           6’4″        260        4             Texas     –

Tapper, Charles

99           DE          25           6’2″        270        3             Oklahoma           –

Thomas, Duke

26           CB          24           5’10”      192        1             Texas     –

Thomas, Joe

48           LB           27           6’1″        227        4             South Carolina State       –

Thompson, Deonte

15           WR         29           6’0″        205        6             Florida   –

Thompson, Jason

–              LB           24           6’2″        208        1             Utah      –

Vander Esch, Leighton

55           LB           21           6’4″        240        R             Boise State          –

Vellano, Joe

67           DT          29           6’2″        300        5             Maryland             –

Wacha, Lucas

44           LB           25           6’1″        230        1             Wyoming             –

Ward, Charvarius

40           CB          22           6’1″        195        R             Middle Tennessee State –

Ward, Jihad

51           DE          24           6’5″        295        3             Illinois   –

Washington, Corey

13           WR         26           6’4″        214        2             Newberry            –

Wells, David

84           TE           23           6’5″        255        R             San Diego State –

White, Marquez

39           CB          23           6’0″        190        1             Florida State       –

White, Mike

3             QB          23           6’4″        225        R             Western Kentucky            –

Williams, Connor

52           T             21           6’6″        315        R             Texas     –

Williams, Terrance

83           WR         28           6’2″        210        6             Baylor   –

Williams, Trey

34           RB          25           5’8″        194        3             Texas A&M         –

Wilson, Cedrick

16           WR         –              6’3″        188        R             Boise State          –

Wilson, Damien

57           LB           25           6’1″        245        4             Minnesota           –

Witten, Jason

82           TE           36           6’6″        263        16           Tennessee           –

Woods, Antwaun

–              NT          25           6’1″        318        1             USC        –

Woods, Xavier

25           S             22           5’11”      202        2             Louisiana Tech   –