Cowboys news: Dallas is “hanging around the rim” despite offseason inactivity

Cowboys maintain they’re ‘hanging around the rim,’ close to championship despite offseason full of questions – Jared Dubin, CBS Sports

Dallas’ front office feels a championship is near.

No team in the NFL has had a stranger offseason than the Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas clearly fancies itself a Super Bowl contender based on its public comments, but rather than gearing up and pushing its chips to the middle for a big run, the Cowboys have instead declined to extend any of Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb or Micah Parsons (although they say extending Prescott is a “priority”). They’ve also allowed starters Tyron Smith, Tyler Biadasz, Tony Pollard, Michael Gallup, Dorance Armstrong, Johnathan Hankins, Stephon Gilmore and Jermaine Kearse to leave in free agency, and lost Leighton Vander Esch to retirement. To replace that group of players, they signed only Eric Kendricks, Royce Freeman and Ezekiel Elliott, and they will otherwise be counting on internal development and their 2024 draft class to lift the team next season.

And yet, the Cowboys still maintain that they are close. The latest to chime in on that front is executive vice president Stephen Jones.

“We’ve won 12 games three years in a row,” Jones said, via The Athletic. “I think that’s right at the top in terms of what teams have done over a three-year period. And we’re hanging around the rim. We’ve just gotta go up there and grab it, to use a basketball term, and dunk it in. We’re hanging around the rim. We just got to get the job done.”

Dallas’ 36 wins between 2021 and 2023 is indeed second to only the Kansas City Chiefs. Of course, the major difference between the Chiefs and Cowboys during those three seasons is that the Chiefs have won two consecutive Super Bowls, while the Cowboys have failed to even get to the conference championship game, which they have not reached since the 1995 season.

Slant routes key to Cowboys’ attacking both zone, man in 2024 – Reid Hanson, USA Today

Slants are welcome in Dallas’ pass-heavy offense.

When Mike McCarthy came to Dallas in 2020, he brought with him his version of the West Coast offense. His pass-heavy attack served him well throughout his NFL coaching career and appeared to be a good fit for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys diverse offensive personnel.

With Kellen Moore still onboard at offensive coordinator at the time, the shift was subtle rather than sudden. But as time went on the Cowboys offense began looking more and more like McCarthy and in 2024 that’s not expected to change.

The Cowboys front offense has made it a point to invest in the passing game in recent seasons. According to West Coast principles, a series of short, high-percentage passes can effectively replace any traditional ground game. And according to recent data shared by Pro Football Focus, the slant route is king in today’s NFL, and perfect for offenses such as McCarthy’s.

Excluding routes at or behind the line of scrimmage, slant routes produced the highest open rate in the NFL, just edging out whip routes at a rate of 62.7%. As one can imagine, throwing to open wideouts is a good thing. Not only does it offer up a higher completion rate, but it has a low interception rate and increases run-after-catch production.

It’s these routes that are often the bread and butter of West Coast offenses and these routes in which the CeeDee Lamb and Prescott connection thrives.

Pick by Pick: Could Ryan Flournoy be an ‘X’ factor? – Patrik Walker,

Dallas needed WR depth, and got it in the sixth round.

But considering just how insanely athletic Flournoy is, you can bet he’ll put his skill set on full display whenever he’s given an opportunity to do so.

What He’s Bringing: Flournoy is a big, physical receiver whose goal is to often outmuscle and outjump defensive backs en route to making some phenomenal contested catches. Simply put, he is literally one of the best athletes in the entire (not just Dallas’) draft class, and his 9.88 grade on the Relative Athletic Scale of 1-10 proves it. He’s strong, fast, quick and has the wingspan and catch radius to give cornerbacks nightmares.

Where He’s Playing: He is a prototypical X receiver who will fit right into the role vacated by the release of Michael Gallup, the former Cowboy having shades of Dez Bryant in his game — something the current Cowboys’ rookie boasts as well, and not coincidentally. You won’t see Flournoy taking on much duty in the slot, instead viewed as more of an impact player on the outside, though he’ll also put in work to be flexible in that regard.

NFC East 2024 buzz on Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, Commanders – ESPN

Who knows what’s going to happen this year in the craziest division in football?

History says there will be a new champion in the NFC East in 2024.

Because it can’t be the Dallas Cowboys, will it be the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants or Washington Commanders? Or can the Cowboys become the first team to repeat as division champion since the Eagles in 2003-04?

Two years ago, three NFC East teams made the postseason (Eagles, Cowboys, Giants) and they all won a playoff game. Last year, two NFC East teams made the playoffs (Cowboys, Eagles) and neither won a game, while the Commanders and Giants struggled enough to end up with top-10 picks.

Dallas Cowboys

What’s left to do on the roster?

The Cowboys can profess to have faith in last year’s No. 1 pick, Mazi Smith, at defensive tackle, but he contributed little as a rookie and is coming off shoulder surgery. While they added another tackle, Justin Rogers, in the seventh round, they need some strength on the interior. Adding a veteran defensive tackle looks to be a must. Adding another receiver wouldn’t hurt either, especially considering what the group looks like if something happens to CeeDee Lamb and/or Brandin Cooks. But, no, it will not be a player on a high-priced contract.

Who will be the biggest surprise?

A year ago, nobody had cornerback DaRon Bland leading the NFL in interceptions and setting a record with five returned for touchdowns. Or kicker Brandon Aubrey coming from the USFL to lead the NFL in points. Let’s go with third-year receiver Jalen Tolbert. He went from two catches for 12 yards as a rookie to 22 catches for 268 yards and two scores in 2023. With Michael Gallup gone, Tolbert will get the first crack as the No. 3 receiver. He has earned Prescott’s trust and will need to take another step in 2024.

Bigger, stronger DeMarvion Overshown expects to make instant impact in Cowboys comeback – Clarence E. Hill, Star-Telegram

The status update on Overshown looks mighty promising.

As he prepares for his 2024 comeback, Overshown now looks back at the injury as a blessing in disguise.

Bigger, stronger, more mature and seasoned in the ways of the NFL, the 6-foot-3, 234-pound block of muscle has a hurting planned for opponents and expects to make an instant impact on the Cowboys defense.

Overshown, who weighs 12 to 14 pounds more than he did last year, is already running and cutting at full speed. He is participating in meeting with his teammates and doing walk-through practices. He won’t participate in OTAs and mini camp as the Cowboys are erring on the side of caution. But he will be cleared in June and be ready for the start of training camp in July.

“I’ve put on at least 12 or 13 pounds of lean mass so far since being out,” Overshown said. “As I feel even like when running, I feel so much powerful. I’m so much stronger. I feel like I have gotten faster. I feel and look like a linebacker now. I can finally stop answering the question are you a safety or linebacker. I’m a linebacker that played safety. Don’t get it twisted. I got my frame and I’m ready to get out there. People ain’t seen me this big. They seen a little DeeMo. They haven’t seen the big DeeMo. People are going to be scared of this DeeMo.”

Overshown said he is playing weakside linebacker in the new defense under coordinator Mike Zimmer with free agent signee Eric Kendricks in the middle and Damone Clark at strongside linebacker. He said it’s a perfect fit for him and he’s comfortable in the defense.

2024 NFL draft winners, losers: Players impacted by rookie picks – Bill Barnwell, ESPN

In an offseason in which the Cowboys effectively flatlined, Ezekiel Elliott emerges as a winner.

Winner: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys

[The Cowboys] left draft weekend the same way they entered it: with Rico Dowdle and Deuce Vaughn leading their depth chart. While team owner Jerry Jones suggested Dallas is all-in this offseason, that sentiment doesn’t appear to have extended to the backfield.

Enter Elliott, who then returned to the Cowboys on a one-year, $2 million deal after a year away with the Patriots. Nothing about Elliott’s game has changed from the player who hit the market as a cap casualty a year ago. He’s a smart, experienced back who can be a valuable contributor as a pass-protector. He’s also painfully slow and should rarely be used on runs designed to bounce outside the tackles. Elliott’s minus-219 rush yards over expectation (RYOE) on runs outside the tackles over the past three years ranks last in the league by 55 yards.

The Cowboys might see another role for Elliott: goal-line back. One of the places in which his absence was felt last season was in short-yardage, with Tony Pollard struggling to assert himself between the tackles. Dallas dropped from first in red zone touchdown rate in 2022 to 14th without Elliott last season, and its 64.1% conversion rate in goal-to-go situations ranked 26th in the league. I wouldn’t count on Elliott getting featured-back status again — and the Cowboys could still add a running back between now and the start of the season — but Elliott could be in for a Gus Edwards-style usage pattern in this reunion.


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