Dallas Cowboys

Big change: Former first-round pick Jones split time with Frazier at safety

Here are the top playmakers from the Cowboys’ 38-14 win over the Redskins

Ryan Switzer scored on an 83-yard punt return and Dez Bryant added a franchise-record 72nd career touchdown reception in the Dallas Cowboys’ 38-14 win over Washington Thursday night at AT&T Stadium.
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Ryan Switzer scored on an 83-yard punt return and Dez Bryant added a franchise-record 72nd career touchdown reception in the Dallas Cowboys’ 38-14 win over Washington Thursday night at AT&T Stadium.

When coach Jason Garrett talked about changes the Dallas Cowboys were looking at on defense following three consecutive double-digit losses, the one that was acknowledged was the benching of cornerback Anthony Brown for rookie second-round pick Chido Awuzie.

The decision proved to be a success with Awuzie having an outstanding game with three pass deflections and not allowing a reception in coverage in the 38-14 victory against the Washington Redskins.

What Garrett didn't openly acknowledge last week, but alluded to when he said the team was looking at other areas in the secondary in hopes of stopping the rash of big plays was that there would be changes at safety too.

That came in the form of former 2015 first-round pick Byron Jones alternating every two series against the Redskins with 2016 sixth-round pick Kavon Frazier.

That proved to be a success to as Frazier brought some physicality to run defense with some big hits.

Being physical is not a strong suit of Jones, who is more of finesse athlete and is best in coverage.

“(Kavon) Frazier is a legitimate, natural, what we call a 'down safety'," owner Jerry Jones said on his radio show on 105.3 The Fan Friday. “And I was really impressed with how he took advantage of his play time last night and punished physically the Redskins. We need that. That's an important part of things to create that physicalness that you can get from that secondary. Got to be reminded he's not a linebacker. He's a quasi-linebacker when he's down like that, a quasi-linebacker safety.

“So, let's start with we need that in the defense, and I think that was impressive out there, the toll, his physicalness last night. Of course, Byron is a freak in a positive way athlete, and we need him playing center field.”

Said secondary coach Joe Baker on Frazier, “"He brought some physicality. I think everybody in the stadium felt it. he just really lit some guys up out there today and that does become contagious. It’s one of the things that our defense is built on is physicality. So he was good.”

Frazier has been very good on special teams all season. Now the Cowboys are using his aggressiveness on the regular defense.

It's was especially important to help the poor run defense, which was largely center of the team's downfall in the previous three games.

It also raises a big question regarding Jones' future. The Cowboys could pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract after this season, guaranteeing him roughly $9 million.

That seemed like a lock heading into the season.

But now it's a legitimate question.

The Cowboys have openly acknowledged that Jones is not the best in run support. And while he has shown promise in coverage, there is still the fact that he has just two career interceptions.

Clarence Hill: 817-390-7760, @clarencehilljr

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