FRISCO, Texas - If you're not getting better, you're getting worse. That's a phrase that can be used often in any circumstance, but especially in football, where the NFL is driven by parity every season.
The Cowboys were able to make a run and get into the playoffs, winning the NFC East for the third time in five seasons. But even owner/GM Jerry Jones has made it clear, his team needs to keep improving and take its success to the next level.
So as we head into the 2019 offseason, let's look at each position on the team, and just what needs to transpire so the Cowboys can indeed, take that next step.
Today, we'll break down the cornerback position.
His Next Step?
What a year it was for Byron Jones. He moves from safety to cornerback, and all of a sudden, Jones not only went to the Pro Bowl, but was a Second Team All-Pro. The surprising part of that wasn't just the position switch, but the fact that Jones became the first defensive back in franchise history to make the Pro Bowl without recording one interception. For Jones, that's his next step. If he's going to make the Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors become regular occurrences, he's going to have to get more turnovers, which in his case means he needs to be more of a ballhawk to get interceptions. But for his first season at the position, it was quite a start.
Their Next Step?
As a team, the entire unit has to eliminate the big plays. In 2018, there were nine plays of at least 40 yards, including two that nearly cost them in the wild-card round of the playoffs against Seattle. Of those nine big plays, all of them led to points and seven were touchdowns. Perhaps the big play that hurt them the most was a 49-yard catch-and-run against Houston in overtime, where DeAndre Hopkins weaved through cornerbacks and safeties to put the Texans in position to win. Whether it's assignments, or bad-tackling, or just making a play on the ball, preventing big plays has to be a top priority.
Decisions to Make?
At cornerback, there aren't many tough decisions to make regarding the depth chart … this year. But the Cowboys can certainly do something to make sure it's not a problem down the road. Jones is entering the final year of his contract, and although there are several big-name players such as DeMarcus Lawrence, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott who could potentially get contract extensions, Jones should be included in that group as well. He'll enter his fifth-year option and will count $6.26 million on the cap. The Cowboys could potentially lower this year's cap hit by signing him to a long-term deal. But they'll have to decide if his one really good season is enough to warrant a big extension.
With Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis all under contract, there isn't a pressing need to go out and grab a cornerback in free agency, or even take one high in the draft. That certainly doesn't mean they will turn their heads away from a cornerback who might fall in their lap on draft day, even as high as the second round. It's always a position of high importance so don't be surprised if the Cowboys acquire another corner in the draft, but it doesn't seem to be a spot that they will desperately pursue this offseason.