As the 3-4 Cowboys look to continue their dominance at home against the 3-4 Tennessee Titans, new and old faces could have a significant say in the outcome for Dallas.
Amari Cooper/Michael Gallup
“The Dallas Cowboys have acquired Raiders WR Amari Cooper in exchange for a future first-round draft pick” as initially reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. As the headlines rang, so did the opinions of many deeming it as nonsense or baffling. A potential top-15 pick in exchange for a “pass dropping WR”? Whose production has drastically fallen off caused some to describe the trade as asinine on Jones’ part.
Since 2015 among WRs taken in the first-round, Cooper vastly outranks anyone in targets, receptions, receiving yards, yards per game, and TDs. While being the leader among those, Amari is also found within the top 5 in catching % and yards per target. So yes, the Cowboys in consensus of the general public have once again committed an ignorant action.
As for Dallas, Cooper’s impact should be immediate and pose well in the overall production of this offense, especially for fellow WR Michael Gallup. While this passing offense has struggled mightily in the overall sense, Gallup remains as the only WR either a true X or Z* (for outside WRs so it excludes Beasley) on this roster with a single catch in every game. Also second on the team in yards per reception at 19.0, Gallup has found work deep being the only WR with a catch of 20 yards or more in the past two games. For Cooper averaging a career 14.2 Y/R, his elite route-running ability allows him to be productive down the field.
Another win on a sluggo for Amari Cooper. pic.twitter.com/qY3v3IzHQJ
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) October 30, 2018
Their chances should be present themselves against the Titans. While Tennessee boasts the 9th ranked passing defense, they have allowed 3 or more passes of 20+ yards or more in three of their last four games. In two of these three games, at least two of the receptions of resulted into TDs for the opposing teams.
Lastly, Dallas has wasted no time in getting Cooper up to speed. Whether it’s finding work with WR coach Sanjay Lal on the west coast or FaceTiming Dak in his spare time, expect no hold back for Cooper’s debut.
Possibly the root cause of troubles Dallas has faced this season. Meaning, the reasons for this group’s problems have left them excusable in a way, but at the same time it hasn’t. Tyron Smith’s injury history has associated itself with his minor slump, but he claims it’s fine. Continuing down the line, Conner Williams is a growing rookie, Joe Looney is fine but no Travis Frederick, Zack Martin remains phenomenal, and La’El Collins seems to be a roller coaster of great/bad moments. It’s been a fine line and collection of narratives on exactly where the state of this OL are.
Suddenly news this past week would drop stating, Jason Garrett has fired OL coach Paul Alexander, which seemed to be the most overlooked element of it all.
— Joey Ickes (@JoeyIckes) October 30, 2018
No matter how talented someone or a group can be, coaching can triumph all. From hand placing to slide protections, if a player has been accustomed to running one scheme for 5 years then it’s forcibly changed, struggles will follow. However, a fan’s perspective of an OL not performing well is solely on the player. Generally it is, but in situations such as the Cowboys, this side of the conversation is never mentioned.
Thus, former Cowboys tackle and now promoted OL coach, Marc Colombo, a sense of comfortability has returned to the big uglies along with Hudson Houck.
Houck has familiarity to organization (THAT IS HUGE within structure of how things are done in the Star) my guess is he will bridge scheme concepts wt actually techniques. In all honesty, with lack of developmental time, Offensive Line rooms in NFL should have 4 coaches. https://t.co/ECWHLfL6R1
— Duke Manyweather (@BigDuke50) October 30, 2018
Cowboys announce they are firing OL Coach Paul Alexander – Marc Colombo is taking over (and changing everything back to how it was in 2017).
— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) October 29, 2018
The bye week should not have only boded well for Cooper, but in the redemption to greatness upfront as they face off against a Titans DL headlined by Jurrell Casey and Bennie Logan. Tennessee’s defense ranks 3rd in scoring, but 19th in rushing. If the Cowboys desire to re-establish their identity early, Monday could serve them well.
Prior to the bye week, Leighton Vander-Esch and Jaylon Smith were highlighted as key players in stopping the pull-runs against Washington, but Lee might find himself with an even more difficult task.
The ever-so-elusive Dion Lewis has been breaking off tacklers since he got into the NFL, and even had a career-like highlight against Dallas just a few years ago:
As many expected Derrick Henry to take another step into his career, the offseason pickup of Lewis has paid off more than full for an underwhelming Titans offense.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) October 26, 2018
Leading the team in rushing yards and third in passing yards, Lewis finds himself affecting the game in just about every aspect. Not meant to be a power-runner, Lee is going to have to work sideline to sideline against Lewis to not only slow him down, but as an important cog to the success this offense can have.
Although the Titans rank 30th in scoring offense, passing and total yards per game, they have a main staple in their game plan that can create issues. So far on the season, Dallas has matched up against Cam Newton & Deshaun Watson. In both games, they carried the ball 10 times or more resulting in 40 yards or more against the defense. Whether it led to a touchdown by Cam or converting first downs by Watson, it played a crucial role in the Cowboys’ losses. As it will be a team effort to stop a Marcus Mariota averaging career highs 5.2 attempts a game and 30.8 Y/G, Lee’s IQ to pursuit will have to be at a season’s best.
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