After a poor Week Two performance by the Dallas Cowboys safeties against the Denver Broncos, should the Cowboys consider trading for Kenny Vaccaro?
The Dallas Cowboys were riding high after Week One. Despite major concerns about their defense, the unit defied all expectations, limiting the touted New York Giants’ offense to a single field goal in a 19-3 victory in the Cowboys’ regular season opener.
But reality came crashing down over the weekend, as Dallas was simply destroyed in their Week Two matchup against the Denver Broncos in the Mile High City. The Cowboys rushing attack was stonewalled by the Broncos stout front seven. And quarterback Dak Prescott was bombarded all night, with next to no time to make any significant throws.
Defensively, it was even worse. The Cowboys entire defensive unit put on a shameful performance, especially when it came to tackling. They were equally as bad against the pass and the run. Former seventh round selection, Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian, dissected Dallas’ secondary. Siemian completed 22 of his 32 passes for four touchdowns and one interception.
Veteran running back C.J. Anderson had 118 rushing yards and a score on 25 carries for the Broncos. Anderson also caught three passes for 38 yards and had a receiving touchdown. His back-up, running back Jamaal Charles, was also successful on the ground, rushing for 46 yards on nine carries.
One area of major concern for the Cowboys following the humiliating 42-17 loss to the Broncos was their defensive secondary. With veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick already out due to a hand injury, Dallas lost starting corners Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) and Nolan Carroll (concussion) early on in the Week Two matchup.
That forced young, inexperienced players like rookie defensive backs Jourdan Lewis, Xavier Woods and second-year safety Kavon Frazier to play significant snaps. So it’s easy to explain their struggles.
What’s not so easy to shrug off was the play of the Cowboys’ starting safeties, Byron Jones and Jeff Heath. Jones is a former first round selection that many have touted to be one of the most talented players on this Dallas defense. But the 24-year old has yet to take the next step in his development and has recorded just one interception entering his third season.
Heath, one the other hand, was an undrafted free agent back in 2013. After a bit of a disastrous rookie season, he’s spent the past three years as the Cowboys special teams’ ace and as a backup on defense. Heath has earned a chance to prove he can be a starter in the NFL this season.
Jones and Heath struggled against the Broncos, both in coverage and tackling. The latter is more concerning, as the safety position represents the team’s last line of defense. And if they are taking poor angles to the ball carrier and getting duped in coverage, your team is in for a long, very depressing day.
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So what’s the answer? Obviously, it was only one poor game. Jones is a former high draft selection who is a better player than what he displayed in Denver on Sunday. As for Heath, he’ll always have a place on the special teams. but Jeff has yet to prove he can be a starting safety in this league. Dallas also has some nice depth at the position in Woods and Frazier, whom are both still developing.
But the New Orleans Saints could provide a temporary solution. According to several reports, the Saints are shopping safety Kenny Vaccaro. The former University of Texas alum was selected 15th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft by New Orleans.
The 26-year old is in the final year of his rookie deal and scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season. Vaccaro has struggled with inconsistency during his five-year NFL career. But he does have the talent to be a Pro Bowl player.
Coming off his best season as a professional, Vaccaro recorded 68 tackles, five pass defends, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in 11 games last season.
Vaccaro was suspended four-games at the end of last year for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy, supposedly testing positive for Adderall. Combine that with his inconsistent play and expiring contract, and the Saints will likely be lucky to get a mid-to-late round selection for Vaccaro.
The Dallas Cowboys, who are expected to receive several tradeable compensatory draft selections in the offseason, should have the ammunition to trade for a player like Kenny Vaccaro. But if they did so, it would likely only to be a one-year bridge player. Making that move could allow the Cowboys time to develop their younger, inexperienced defensive backs and give themselves some insurance in case Jeff Heath doesn’t pan out as a starter.