Dallas Cowboys: Safety in a Safety

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 22: Jeff Heath #38 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 22: Jeff Heath #38 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys have a need at safety, and whether they trade for one or not, they need to know how to use them to their strengths.

Ask any Dallas Cowboys’ fan to list their top three needs for the team and you would be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t say safety. With the duo of Xavier Woods and the much maligned Jeff Heath, the Cowboys need help. With only two safeties for depth, another injury (remember Kavon Frazier is on IR), the Cowboys will either have to sign someone off the street, or play a cornerback for depth.

This isn’t a simple depth issue article, however. Jeff Heath is a solid special teams player and good depth guy, but asking him to be your every game starter has been painful for fans to watch. For every David Carr stop, he has multiple bad angles, missed tackles, and being out of position in pass coverage. Right now Pro Football Focus has a 62.1 grade on him, for comparison Jamal Adams has a 81.4. There is a lot that goes into the rankings, but needless to say, Heath is not a very good safety.

The answer many fans want to hear is that Donovan Wilson will get more playing time. As great as Wilson looked against second and third teamers in preseason, many of those guys are not playing or are on practice squads. Being a rookie, Wilson needs some time to develop, I am not saying he won’t, I am saying we need to slow down on expectations of him.

That brings up the trade deadline. The most popular trade option is Jamal Adams of the Jets. However, with two years left on his rookie deal, the Jets would either desire a haul of picks (no two firsts is not worth it), or a combination of player(s) and picks. Just because we want to dump Heath, doesn’t mean the Jets will want to take him as part of a deal. As of me writing this, Adams seems like a long-shot, but one we should talk about as the Jets are rebuilding and might want some picks.

The next answer people are clamoring for is Eric Berry. When Berry was healthy he was a very good safety. The issue is he has played only three games in the last two years, and while he may be saying he is healthy, teams are obviously apprehensive due to his injuries and malformation. The Cowboys have said they are monitoring him, but they have not jumped at the chance. Maybe they feel comfortable with Heath and Woods, or maybe Berry isn’t as healthy as we all want to believe.

So where does that leave the Cowboys in relation to 2019? Well the answer may not be what everyone wants to hear. Derron Smith just got picked up by the Dallas Renegades and could be available, Reshad Jones from Miami has been a name brought up, but this season he is allowing a 90% completion percentage and at 31 looks to have lost more than a step. Patrick Peterson has been reportedly on the trade block, but the Cardinals have said they turned down huge packages for him.

The only other options would be for the Cowboys to pull a rabbit out of a hat in a trade to a bad team looking for extra picks. Unless this happens it looks like the Cowboys will have to continue to roll with Woods and Heath. Not ideal, but they know what they are getting with both.

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Using them is another issue. The Cowboys ask Heath to cover more than is comfortable, and he is at his best coming downhill playing the line of scrimmage with help. Woods has been fine, and a better safety next to him might actually see him get a little better. The weak link is Heath. The Cowboys have to find ways to use him better and hide his issues in coverage.

Next. The Cowboys pass-rush is already better than you think. dark

Wilson could find more playing time at the end of the season, but as much as everyone wants him, the Cowboys do have to be patient as should fans. Not what you want to hear, but it appears to be the case here. The Cowboys need a safety, but what they really need is to feel safe with their safety options.

  • Published on 10/29/2019 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 10/29/2019 at 10:01 AM