Cowboys confident Jeff Heath can fill Barry Church’s shoes

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Jason Garrett refers to Jeff Heath as one of the players “who always shows up” when the Cowboys give him chances. To that end, the Cowboys plan on giving Heath more chances this season.

They have penciled in Heath as the starting strong safety, a spot left open by the free agent departure of Barry Church.

I’ve seen a lot [from Heath],” free safety Byron Jones said, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “All of this stuff we saw last year, he wasn’t getting a lot of playing time earlier in the season, but he was coming in at critical situations and making good plays. That’s what Jeff Heath’s main thing is.

“Even on special teams, he’s a core guy. He’s a guy who is calling the plays. He’s a personal protector on punt [coverage]. That’s a big job. If there’s one guy we can trust with that, it’s Jeff Heath.”

The Cowboys signed Heath as an undrafted free agent in 2013. Known more as a core special teams player, Heath has made the most of his time on defense. He has five interceptions since arriving in Dallas, including the postseason, which ties him for the team lead in that span. Heath has intercepted Jameis Winston three times and Kirk Cousins and Aaron Rodgers once each.

Heath received his most snaps his rookie season when he was on the field 594 defensive plays, starting nine games because of injuries in the secondary. He got only 125 snaps in 2014, 205 in 2015 and 243 in 2016.

On the first minicamp practice last week, Heath had two interceptions of Dak Prescott. Heath’s performance in the offseason program has given the Cowboys confidence he can handle the job.

10 responses to “Cowboys confident Jeff Heath can fill Barry Church’s shoes

  1. This guy can really hit, but the times I’ve seen him on the field he’s been in the right place at the right time, which just what you want out of a safety. Good hands, good speed, good instincts. Dallas will see if he can live up to expectations as a starter, but he’s shown some good things as a backup already.

  2. I am not sipping the Heath Kool-aid like most cowboy fans…I think he might be our weakest link on defense, that is if he is even a starter

  3. If you don’t know about Heath, then you are a little late to the party. Only dude making plays in the secondary last year was Jeff Heath, as a back up, he led the team in ints. I get people remember his lack of ball skills when he came in as a rookie and was getting posterized. Well, Heath has all grown up and is patrolling the middle like a strong safety should–hard hitter, good tackler and comes in at good angles to reduce closing distance between ball carrier and himself. I like Heath and his prospective to keep succeeding as his role increases in the defense.

  4. If this guy is the starting safety, dallas may win 6 games.
    He picks off aaron rodgers in the playoffs and suddenly he’s darren woodson…. Just awful. Dallas will never win with the jones’ and this current coaching staff.

  5. Heath might be the fastest member of the Cowboys secondary. His athleticism is very good.

    He’s football smart and it shows when he’s out on the field. Always in the right place at the right time.

    He’s way, WAY faster than Church and his football IQ is just as high as Barry’s. The only thing Church had going for him was his football smarts. He was an average athlete and was painfully slow.

    The only thing JJ Wilcox did well was hit hard. Heath hits almost as hard as JJ but his football acumen is light year’s beyond Wilcox’s natural instincts for safety. Wilcox consistently took horrible angles to the ball and was frequently out of position.

    Plus, Heath is a natural ball-hawk, which neither of JJ nor Church had going for them.

    Heath, at the very least, should be able to provide safety play as well as the two guys who left. There is a chance that his play is a considerable upgrade over the other two guys though.

    I fully expect that safety spot to be upgraded.

  6. ***On the first minicamp practice last week, Heath had two interceptions of Dak Prescott. Heath’s performance in the offseason program has given the Cowboys confidence he can handle the job.***

    – Great…I don’t know if I should be happy about Heath or upset about Dak. Does anyone have Romo’s number?

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