The Dallas Cowboys Need To Reevaluate These Two Players

Sep 27, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar (25) runs with the ball against the Atlanta Falcons at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 27, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar (25) runs with the ball against the Atlanta Falcons at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys need to take into consideration the value of these two reserved players, one of them is a free agent.

The Dallas Cowboys have several holes to fill on their roster. With 20 free agents set to hit the open market, the Cowboys will have to make decisions on which players to re-sign and which to let walk.

However, there are two players the Cowboys need to reevaluate, one to re-sign and the other to compete as a starter.

Those two players are running back Lance Dunbar and reserve safety Jeff Heath.

I know these two players are not the most popular of the Cowboys’ players, especially Heath, who has had his share of mishaps. But I have different reasons why the Cowboys should reevaluate these players as being key contributors for the team.

The Case For Lance Dunbar

Dunbar is one explosive running back when given the opportunity to touch the ball. He’s fast, lightening quick, and versatile. For a running back with so much versatility, the Cowboys coaching staff did him a disservice by not utilizing his full skill set.

Dunbar is a mismatch for linebackers and can give defensive coordinators nightmares when he’s on the field.

Far too often, Dunbar was inactive or stuck on the sideline. I’m well aware Dunbar was buried deep on the RB chart behind Ezekiel Elliott, Darren McFadden, and Alfred Morris. That’s no excuse for Dunbar not to see any meaningful action.

Dunbar is an excellent receiver out of the backfield.

In a game against the Atlanta Falcons during the 2015 season, Dunbar caught 10 passes for 100 yards, while being targeted 10 times. The 3rd down specialist caught more passes that day than any of Dallas’ wide receivers.

When Dunbar catches the ball out of the backfield, he normally gets a lot of yards. Yards After Catch (YAC) is something Dunbar excels at.

For example, in the game against the Falcons, Dunbar had 22 YACs. Against the hated Philadelphia Eagles, Dunbar had 3 receptions for 45 yards, but the longest reception was for 39 yards.

Before his injury in 2015, Dunbar had racked up 215 receiving yards on 21 receptions through four games. Dunbar tore his ACL during the fourth game of the season against the New Orleans Saints.

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In 2015, Dunbar was on pace to have a career year in receptions, receiving yards, and YAC. During the 2016 campaign, Dunbar only had 16 receptions for 122 yards and one rushing touchdown. The lack of receptions are not his fault, more of offensive coordinator’s Scott Linehan not getting him the ball.

Before anyone thinks I’ve lost my mind and views Dunbar as the best player on Dallas’ roster, I haven’t. I believe Dunbar is a good asset to the Cowboys offense, another weapon when utilized correctly.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

Dunbar is a mismatch for linebackers and can give defensive coordinators nightmares when he’s on the field. Having Dunbar on the field on a regular basis causes opposing defenses to pick their poison: Do they double Dez? Stack the box to stop the Elliot? Put a linebacker on Dunbar? What about Jason Witten and Cole Beasley? What about Dak Prescott using the read option?

Dunbar gives opposing defenses something to think about with his versatility. And for whatever reason, Linehan didn’t use him enough. Heck, Linehan can use him a decoy, anything besides sitting on the sideline.

I understand Dunbar is injury-prone, but if Dallas can re-sign him for at a bargain price, it’ll be a low-risk high-reward situation. Dallas doesn’t have to use him as an every down back because he’s not that type of player. Dunbar is 3rd down specialist, but he needs to be in the game more, like 5-10 plays.

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Those plays can be a difference maker, definitely in close games.

Also, Dunbar is good a kick returner, too. Instead of the Cowboys using a draft pick on return  specialist, use Dunbar skills for returning punts and kickoffs. Although Dunbar has had his share of injuries, Dallas simply hasn’t used his talents to its fullest extent.

The Cowboys need to do this like yesterday.

The one thing that Dunbar can do is move the chains whenever he touches the ball. The speedster averaged 7.6 yards a reception this past season. That’s moving the chains and allows the Cowboys to feed Zeke on short yardage plays.

Dunbar can be used like Darren Sproles of the Philadelphia Eagles, only more of a receiving threat, though. Dallas will probably let Dunbar walk, and it may come back to bite them.

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Jeff Heath

Most Cowboys fans dislike Heath — with a passion — primarily because of a handful of horrendous plays during his rookie season. But Heath has improved since then, despite limited action. Heath proved as much when he intercepted Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers twice in the playoffs, although one of those picks was called back, the execution on his part cannot be denied.

Heath has four career interceptions as a backup safety. Plus, Heath is a big time hitter. I know he mainly plays special teams, but when Heath gets into the game, he makes plays. Remember that Cowboys Nation.

Maybe Heath can play closer to the line and make tackles, similar to J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church?. On the other hand, Dallas needs to have an open completion in training camp and see what happens. I’m starting to believe that the Green Bay game might have been his coming out party.

In reality, the rest of Dallas’ secondary didn’t intercept any of Rodgers passes and that’s something to think about.

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In Dunbar and Heath, this team has two players worth keeping.

Dallas needs to reevaulate Dunbar and Heath contributions, and recognize these two backups have something of value this team can benefit from.