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Your Monday morning Cowboys news.
The Cowboys have officially signed veteran defensive end Everson Griffen to the 80-man training camp roster after creating an open spot by waiving first-year defensive end Jalen Jelks.
Griffen agreed to terms on a one-year deal last week and must go through league-required COVID-19 testing protocols before he can join the team for meetings and practice. He will wear No. 96.
The addition of Griffen immediately improves the defensive line for the Cowboys.
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) August 16, 2020
I’ve been studying NFL football and specifically line play for the last six years. And there hasn’t been a more talent-rich, deeper position group than the defensive line. The biggest, fastest athletes on the field naturally gravitate towards the defensive side of the ball early in their lives and it bleeds into the college and pro levels. Combined with as nuanced and refined of an approach as ever before relative to the technical development of the position, specifically pass-rush tactics, has resulted in pass-protection being the most difficult (and arguably valuable) job in the NFL outside of playing quarterback.
These rankings will be useful in many ways. The most important component of picking a fantasy D/ST is their ability to put pressure on the quarterback. Start/sit decisions at quarterback and DFS projections should always include the opposing pass rush. In betting markets, line play has far more meaningful than the public believes.
My criteria for ordering all 32 pass-rushing DLs is predominantly based around film study, which included watching every game of the 2019 season at least once, focused strictly on the trenches. My process for evaluation is rooted in trait-based evaluations that assess skill-sets, physical tools/traits, level of competition, production, and coaching. Combined with a preexisting knowledge of the majority of pass-rushers from previous seasons of film study, personal insights from many of the players themselves, and dissecting some advanced metrics, this list was born and will be updated each week during the regular season.
Chidobe Awuzie confirmed that the Cowboys have been practicing with more 3-4 defensive looks – RJ Ochoa, BTB
There is a ton curiosity surrounding the Cowboys defensive side of the ball. Defensive back Chidobe Awuzie spoke a little about the kind of looks the team has been practicing with.
When Sunday’s practice first ended and the local media began to report on what happened, it was mentioned that the Cowboys were mixing things up on defense, but the exact specifics were not used due to the rules of covering training camp. That left us all to wonder, just for a bit, exactly what that meant.
Thankfully for all of us, Chidobe Awuzie happened to be one of the people meeting with the media after practice. He confirmed that there are indeed 3-4 looks being utilized, get ready for some fun usage of DeMarcus Lawrence and Aldon Smith.
You may wonder why it’s a big deal that the Cowboys are using 3-4 looks, but the defense has been so predictable for a long time now. That is not an exaggeration.
Chido Awuzie confirmed the Cowboys were running some 3-4 looks in practice. He said it https://t.co/do97AK3cXW
— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) August 16, 2020
Dallas added another former Pro Bowl defender earlier this offseason in Aldon Smith. After five years out of the league, Smith is looking to make a comeback with the Cowboys.
Throughout the first few practices, Smith has gained valuable first-team reps while the team awaits the arrival of the newly signed Everson Griffen. While these looks are potentially short-lived, he has taken advantage of the snaps. In the first two practices, Smith has spent multiple plays giving Tyron Smith fits off the edge, complemented the presence of DeMarcus Lawrence on the opposite side, and has been active with his hands in batting down passes.
It’s early in camp, there has yet to be pads, and obstacles are just beginning heading into a year unlike any other. The bottom line is Smith has been good. He’s fit in seamlessly to the point to where it’s impossible to tell he spent a half-decade out of the NFL.
More importantly, he gives defensive coordinator Mike Nolan a bevy of options on how to rotate and freshen the defensive line. As someone who could stand up on the edge, provide run support, and bat down passes at the line of scrimmage, Smith fits the bill as an all-around edge rusher with upside to make an immediate impact. Which so happens to be all the Cowboys are asking of him in 2020.
The expectation is not to have an All-Pro type of season or 19.5 sacks like Smith had in 2012, but if there is a rotational role and an opportunity to supplement Griffen at the defensive end spot.
What have we learned about the Cowboys during training camp? There is a chance that CeeDee Lamb makes an impact at more than one spot.
Dallas Cowboys: CeeDee Lamb Might Make Early Impact as a Returner
When the Dallas Cowboys used a first-round pick on former Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb, it seemed like a case of the rich getting richer; Dallas already had two 1,000-yard receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.
However, the addition of Lamb also raised the question of how the Cowboys could possibly get all of their weapons—Cooper, Gallup, Lamb, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard—involved. Well, training camp has provided a glimpse at one possibility.
According to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, Lamb has been taking reps as a punt returner. As Gehlken pointed out, Lamb returned 54 punts for 475 yards while playing for the Sooners.
Utilizing Lamb as a return specialist makes a ton of sense because it gets him on the field more often and helps make Dallas dangerous in all three phases. That third phase may be where Lamb has the most initial impact, at least as long as the Cowboys plan on running their offense through Elliott and the ground game.
The former Oklahoma Sooners star has certainly turned heads early.
“CeeDee looks very natural out there,” McCarthy said, per team reporter Rob Phillips. “He had a big play in the team period (Friday). He’s definitely shown the ability to play all three spots in the receiver position, and we’ll see what goes on with punt return and those types of things. But he looks very, very natural on the football field. Excited about him.”
“We’ve only had one practice, but the thing that jumps out to you on the practice field is particularly his ball skills,” McCarthy added. “He’s a natural. I think he’ll adjust very well to the NFL game.”
Lamb made 62 catches for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns last season for Oklahoma, and Dallas made him the No. 17 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. That seemed like good value for the Cowboys, as many expected Lamb to go closer to the top 10. Now he’ll have a chance to help the Cowboys battle the Philadelphia Eagles once again for the NFC East title.
Dallas has a veteran offense, but McCarthy said Lamb “has picked it up seamlessly” and that he doesn’t mind playing rookies. McCarthy is in his first season after taking over for Jason Garrett and brings high-level experience as a former Super Bowl champion as head coach of the Green Bay Packers.
On the topic of receivers, this video from Jon Machota went viral on Twitter:
New WR drill Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup were working on today pic.twitter.com/vG0u0J1Dca
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 16, 2020
Mike McCarthy has had notable success with the quarterback position. One of his former signal-callers actually joined the staff for training camp.
Mike McCarthy took over as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys during an incredibly uncertain time, but he’s building out his training camp coaching staff with some familiar faces. The Athletic’s Jon Machota reported that Seneca Wallace, who played quarterback for the Green Bay Packers under McCarthy during the 2013 season, has joined the Cowboys’ quarterback room staff.
Wallace joins Cowboys quarterback coach Doug Nussmeier and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore among others in the quarterback room and will bring a unique perspective to the staff having played in the NFL more recently than the rest of the group. After the tumultuous offseason between starting quarterback Dak Prescott and the front office, they need all the help they can get.
McCarthy’s Cowboys are being massively hyped as potential Super Bowl contenders this season, but it remains to be seen whether they can live up to those expectations. The Cowboys’ offense is their biggest strength, especially with the addition of rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb beside seasoned star Amari Cooper. Connecting the dots with Prescott and the rest of the offense will be key to their success (or downfall), so Cowboys fans need to hope that Wallace’s tutelage provides the special something that the team needs to finally put the pieces together.
Cowboys rank as NFL.com’s top offense in 2020 behind No. 3-ranked triplets – KD Drummond, Cowboys Wire
The expectations for the offense are only getting higher and higher.
The Dallas Cowboys have done a masterful job constructing their offense for the 2020 season. With training camp underway, finally, being able to assess the level of talent in the meeting room for Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore has gone from an on-paper exercise to true evaluation.
The first looks at the newest addition, rookie WR CeeDee Lamb wowed with a spectacular catch as he one-handed snagged a ball in the opening stanza. Joining the rest of the Cowboys’ top-ranked (yardage) offense from last season appears a match made in heaven. In two separate articles, NFL.com has crowned Dallas as the league’s best offense thanks in large part to the third-best set of triplets. We’ll explain.
Ali Bhanpuri took his turn at the rankings game, identifying which combination of QB1-RB1-WR1 set the precedent for the league. Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper ended up with a composite score of 20, which was the second-best behind New Orleans. However Bhanpuri weighted the QB value and that nudged the Cowboys down to third behind the Saints and No. 1 team Kansas City.
At long last we have actual football to talk about. It feels so good.
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