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The One Thing That Will Make America’s Team Great Again

There have been many theories on why “America’s Team” has been average for the past two decades. Some have blamed Jerry Jones for the drought. Others point to the general manager (also Jerry Jones) for uncalculated free agent signings, poor drafting, and trying to create a team of big name ‘stars’ instead of building an actual TEAM. There are even some naysayers that believe the problem begins and ends at the quarterback position, including the much beloved Tony Romo. All of these reasons may have played a part, but the real reason resonates throughout every season since the glory days with The Triplets. The Dallas Cowboys head coaching since 1997 has been questionable, at best. Since Barry Switzer retired after the 1997 season, the Cowboys are 148-149 in the regular season and playoffs. While some may have been worse than others (Chan Gailey and Dave Campo), not one of the head coaches were impressive.

romo-parcellsLet’s start with Bill Parcells, since the two preceding him were nothing more than placeholders. Parcells came into a situation when the cupboard was barer than any Cowboys roster since the 80’s. He had aging stars on the edge of retirement (Woodson and Allen) mixed with players that he got to perform well above their talent level (Coakley and Williams). This was Bill Parcells last head coaching job, and he treated it as such, by trying to build a team that another coach could come in and take back to the promised land. That included signing undrafted rookie Tony Romo to become the Cowboy’s first franchise quarterback since Troy Aikman. The problem was that Jerry Jones let that coordinator (Sean Payton) get away. Payton went on to become the head coach of the New Orleans Saints the year before Bill Parcells turned his job over to Wade Phillips. Wade was, and is, a great defensive coordinator, but as we’ve seen many times before, that does not always translate into being a great head coach. Wade’s job was made even harder since he most likely knew that his offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, was basically a head coach in waiting. Wade took the Cowboys to the playoffs a couple of times in his stint as head coach, but was not able to make it past the divisional round either time.

That brings us to the current head coach, Jason Garrett. He took over halfway through the 2010 season and is two games over .500 in that time. Not exactly a record that deserves the job security he seems to have with Jerry Jones. Jerry always seems to find an excuse for why Garrett failed, instead of demanding results in the face of adversity. While Garrett has a great football mind when it comes to X’s and O’s, that is where his coaching prowess ends. He possesses the skills needed to be a successful coordinator in the NFL, but falls short of those skills required to become a Super Bowl winning head coach.

jg33Let’s look at the greatest example of an NFL head coach right now, Bill Belichik, and see how Garrett compares in three different areas. First, Belichik’s delegation is second to none, and the best way to exemplify this is by his coaching tree.  He has produced seven NFL head coaches and seven NCAA Division I head coaches. One of those coaches was Nick Saban, who just so happened to be the head coach of the Miami Dolphins when Jason Garrett was the quarterbacks coach. That’s right, Belichik’s coaching tree is now so extensive, other trees are now growing off of it, and Garrett is a branch on one of those trees. While Garrett definitely has not had the tenure to grow the coaching tree Belichik has, by this time in his career Belichik had already promoted out Pat Hill to Fresno State and Nick Saban to Michigan State.

Second, Belichik’s in-game strategy makes Garrett look as if he learned how to game plan by playing Techmo Bowl. We could delve into the most specific and minute stats to see how Belichik makes more right decisions than Garrett, but the easiest is to look at how they react when their hands are tied by playing without their respective star quarterbacks. Since Brady became the starter, Belichik is 15-5 with his backup quarterback, a winning percentage only 1 percent lower than with Brady. Since Garrett took over as head coach of the Cowboys he is 7-14 without Romo as the starter, a whopping 26 percent lower winning percentage than with Romo. Basically, that means if Brady is out, the Patriots still have almost an equal shot at winning with Belichik, but if Romo is out the Cowboys are about half as likely to come away with a win with Garrett.

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 12: Bill Belichick reacts after D'Brickashaw Ferguson #60 of the New York Jets shoved Aqib Talib #31 of the New England Patriots, who intercepted a pass, in the 4th quarter at Gillette Stadium on September 12, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Finally, Belichik’s superiority over Garrett can be seen by the talent he can attract from around the league. From big free agents superstars like Darrelle Revis to proven talent in Chris Long to the Golden Boy himself, the Patriots can continually get cream of the crop talent for considerably less than they are worth on the open market. Not only do the Cowboys have to pay top dollar for free agents to come play for America’s Team, they could not even convince their All-Pro running back, Demarco Murray, to take even the slightest pay cut to stick around.

Being quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys is one of the hardest positions in sports. It’s up there with playing Shortstop for the Yankees or Center for the Lakers, but the head coach in Dallas is no stress-free job either. Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson flourished in the role, while Barry Switzer and Bill Parcells were good within their own right. These coaches were used to the bright lights that come with being the head coach of America’s Team. Jason Garrett’s resume prior to the Cowboys is less than impressive, to say the least. To say he had never been in the spotlight before is an understatement. In fact, he was so far from the spotlight he couldn’t even cast a shadow. From quarterbacking Ivy League schools – to bouncing around in lesser professional leagues – to becoming a career NFL backup – to coaching in the NFL, Jason Garrett had never been a focal point of any meaningful organization. So the next time you see a ‘deer in the headlights’ look while watching a Cowboys news conference, or the next time you cringe at Garrett’s horrible game-management ability, try to keep in mind that he’s still adjusting his vision to the bright lights at The Star. Unfortunately for Cowboy fans, he may also be the roadblock to a sixth championship ring.

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett speaks to reporters during an NFL football media availability at Valley Ranch Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

WEEK 3 PREVIEW: Cowboys vs. Bears

When the NFL schedule gurus created this Sunday Night Football matchup, the Cowboys and the Bears looked much different than they do now. Jay Cutler was the QB in Chicago and Tony Romo was the man in Dallas. Instead, we get the veteran Brian Hoyer versus the rookie, Dak Prescott. But the starting QB’s may not be the only missing pieces from the originally planned lineups. CB Orlando Scandrick (Hamstrings, has not practiced), RT Doug Free (Quadricep, Limited in Practice) and DE Jack Crawford (Shoulder, Limited in Practice) could all potentially miss Sunday night’s game. Everything coming out of the Star in Frisco says that Scandrick could take the week off. I know the Bears are win-less and playing a backup QB, but these Bears receivers are not to be taken lightly. Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White are both capable of putting up big numbers at any moment and Hoyer is a seasoned veteran who finished last season with a passer rating over 90, throwing for 19 TD’s and only 7 INT’s.

The Chicago defense has been decimated by injury with 10 players either limited or not practicing this week. This should be the week Dak gets his first and maybe second TD passes of his career. The question that could spark the most debate, however, isn’t with the rookie Prescott. Of all the position groups on this team, the offensive line has the most intriguing dilemma. With Doug Free limited in practice, Ron Leary aching for action on the sideline and La’El Collins struggling at Guard, it’s creating a perfect storm to move Collins (who’s every highlight is in the open field) over to right tackle and Leary back into his left guard spot. This could help the struggling run game significantly. Collins missed 5 blocks last week in the run game. To say he isn’t the mauler we all hoped for is an understatement. Ezekiel Elliott needs some holes this week to help him get his mind right after being benched for the first time in his life. Zeke dropped the ball twice last week after only fumbling 3 times in his entire college career. Couple this with his off the field ‘issues’ (if you can call them that), and he needs a big game this week.

Defensively, the Cowboys need to get to Hoyer and force him to make bad decisions. This has been a problem spot for the Cowboys D, which is to be expected when you are essentially rushing 4 DT’s. The two sacks this season are, of all things, coverage sacks which allowed time for the big guys up front to power their way home. Those coverage sacks might be a little harder to come by this week. If Scandrick sits, look for Byron Jones to get some action at corner alongside Carr, Claiborne and rookie Anthony Brown with JJ Wilcox and rookie Kavon Frazier getting more reps at the Safety.

week3-preview2

KEYS TO THE GAME

Game Time: 7:30 PM on NBC

Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington

All in all, this week is set up perfectly for the Cowboys to break that 8 game home losing streak pretty easily. Here are the keys to the game:

  • Continue to get Dez the ball – Expect to see at least 1 X thrown up.
  • Establish the run – It’s a case of the chicken or the egg here. Getting the ball to Dez opens the run. Running the ball early opens up Dez.
  • Do NOT let Alshon Jeffery beat you – Hoyer is capable, but is prone to make mistakes. Shutting down their playmaker should help him make some more.

PREDICTION

Cowboys:            27

Bears:                   13

Week 3 Preview: Bears @ Cowboys

GAME RECAP: Cowboys 27 – Redskins 23

After the Cowboys win in Landover, one thing is for certain: the Redskins have issues. Kirk Cousins threw for 364 yards and 1 TD, but should have had 3 more easy ones as Jamison Crowder and DeSean Jackson both had breakaways well past the Cowboy secondary only to be over thrown. Redskins Running Back, Matt Jones, had a good game as well rushing for 61 yards on only 13 carries. Why Jay Gruden doesn’t run more is beyond me. Not saying Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is perfect, but he did try to be less predictable with an onside kick in the middle of the game, which caught both teams off guard when the ball didn’t travel the 10 yards required. I want to feel good about this win, I do, but watching all the blatant missed opportunities by Washington makes it difficult. However, this isn’t a Redskins blog, so HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS!

Rush to Judgment

Dak Prescott was full of poise and grace as he threw for 292 yards completing 22/30 attempts and Zeke Elliott rushed for 83 yards on 21 attempts for an average of 4 yards per carry. Zeke was definitely improved, but the rookie has room to grow. He ‘left some meat on the bone’ so to speak. The Offensive line looked to avenge their lack luster run blocking from week 1 and they did. They were opening holes and getting to the second level consistently. One thing to remember for you rush to judgment on Zeke, he had a total of 14 snaps in the preseason. He will continue to improve as he adapts to the pace of the NFL and gets a feel for the offensive line. Josh Norman held Dez to 0 catches, but primarily played on the left side of the field so Dez was able to catch 7 for 102 yards against Baushaud Breeland, the point is moot.

redskins2

Claiborne Supremacy

Morris Claiborne played about as well as we’ve ever seen. He was quick and made stops with minimal contact which is exactly what you want out of your corners. He gets the defensive player of the game from me. What we’ve longed for out of Mo since we moved WAY up to get him in the first round of 2012 finally came to fruition. Also showing defensive prowess was Safety Barry Church and Linebacker Justin Durant. Church came away with a crucial interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter and Durant almost had one with 2 minutes to go in the game. It wasn’t all good on the defensive side, however. The secondary got flat out burnt more than once but since Kirk Cousins was the passer, they fell incomplete. They left Josh Doctson, the 1st round pick WR out of TCU, unattended to triple team DeSean Jackson which cost them 57 yards and would’ve resulted in a TD if not for the closing speed and hustle of Safety Byron Jones. The Defensive line looked strong but lacked the speed to get to Cousins. This is expected when you are playing four tackles on your line. Due to suspensions and injury, the boys have been forced to play Benson Mayowa and Jack Crawford at the end spots.

redskins3

Keys to the Game

Before the game, I outlined 3 keys for a Cowboys win over the Redskins.  Let’s take a look and see how the ‘Boys did.

  • Dallas MUST establish the run early.  – Zeke ran the ball well and the offensive line showed the fire they lacked in the opener.
  • Dez Bryant needs to be targeted like the Elite receiver we all believe he is. – Dez eclipsed the 100 yard mark for the first time in 6 straight games. He didn’t have a catch against Josh Norman, though.
  • The Cowboys need to have a middle linebacker.  – Still an issue. Matt Jones rushed for almost 5 yards a carry. I wish I could say we had a guy coming back off of injury or short suspension, but we don’t. Rolando McClain is 2 games into his 10 game suspension, however, no one is planning on him to ever play a snap again for the Cowboys.

Two of three keys was good enough for Dallas to earn a win in Washington and with Chicago and San Francisco in weeks 3 and 4, the Cowboys are well on their way to a good start in 2016.

GAME RECAP: Giants 20 – Cowboys 19

It wasn’t all fun and games for Dez Bryant and the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon. Actually, I think it’s safe to say that no fun was had by any athlete donning a star on their helmet. As time expired in the 20-19 loss to the New York Giants, I couldn’t help but say, “I told you so.”.

The key to this game was the Cowboys’ Defensive Line. Not the rookie QB – Not the rookie RB – The Defensive Line. The D-Line had more holes than a cheese hat from Green Bay, which allowed the Giants to rush up the middle at will. However, the game ultimately came down to a play that couldn’t have been scripted any better for Cowboy haters, as Terrance Williams made the bone-head decision to turn back towards the middle of the field rather than getting out of bounds to stop the clock with only 10 seconds remaining. With no timeouts, the Cowboys ran out of time at the Giants’ 40 yard line, which coincidentally is exactly where they needed to be for a game-winning field goal try by Dan Bailey.

terrance-williams-bonehead

As for Dak Prescott, his debut was ok. He showed poise in the pocket at times, but there were too many other times when it seemed like he was simply throwing in the general direction of his receivers and hoping for a miracle. Dak finished his debut going 25 of 45 for 227 yards with no Touchdowns, no Interceptions and an overall passer rating of 69.4. Not exactly the triple digit rating we were all hoping for, but if it wasn’t for a horrible drop by Beasley in the red zone, it would’ve have been a little better.

[ecko_pull_quote alignment=”left” source=”Ezekiel Elliott”]I think I was average, you know – average. [/ecko_pull_quote]

Ezekiel Elliott didn’t live up to expectations either, averaging just 2.4 yards on 20 carries for 51 total yards. Every time he touched the ball he was met by a wall of defenders at the line of scrimmage. After the game, Zeke acknowledged his lackluster performance, saying “I think I was average, you know – average. That’s not why I was brought here to be average, so we’ve got a lot of work to get done. A lot to work on.”. Alfred Morris seemed to have better luck finding the holes, gaining 35 yards on 7 touches (5.0 YPC). Maybe the defense played Morris a little looser, maybe not.

zeke

But the most shocking stat was Geoff Swaim having a bigger day than Dez Bryant. The 2nd string TE out of the University of Texas hauled in one pass for 21 yards while the star wide receiver was nearly X’d-out (pun intended), finishing with only 8 yards from one catch. Dez had a couple opportunities for big plays in the end zone, but failed to come down with the ball in either instance. The timing and feel between Dak and Dez will come with continued practice and they will eventually find their rhythm, but for the sake of Cowboy Nation, I sure hope it’s soon… Star CB Josh Norman awaits Dez next week in Washington.

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No need to panic: Dak has this for now

When Romo went down in Seattle, I honestly thought his career was going to end essentially where it began (The Bobble). He eventually got up and walked off of the field, but the damage was done to his back. Romo is going to miss at least the first month of football, but will the Cowboys’ fate change while Dak has control of the ship? I don’t think so. With Romo, I had the Cowboys starting 3-3 in the first six weeks and making a strong push at the end of the year to finish around 10-6 or even 11-5. That hasn’t changed, and here’s why.

1. In September, Dak needs to play slightly below the level he played in the preseason. I know I know, it’s the “Preseason”, but look around the league and see how well other rookie quarterbacks played in the “Preseason”. It’s not even close. Goff (LA), Wentz (Phi), Lynch (Den), Hackenberg (NYJ), Brissett (NE), Kessler (Cle), and Cook (Oak) were all drafted ahead of Dak. If these seven teams could get a mulligan, how many would draft Dak after the “Preseason”? My gut tells me six of these teams would take Dak right now, and I’m not so sure that number isn’t seven. The Cowboys got very lucky to grab Dak with the 135th pick of the draft. They were also fortunate Kellen Moore was injured to allow Dak more reps in training camp and the preseason. Is he going to struggle in his first month of the season? Absolutely, but he will still manage to keep the offense productive and the Cowboys heads above water.

Cowboys O-Line

2. The Cowboys boast the best offensive line in football, and probably the deepest group of running backs in the league. What else could a young quarterback ask for? Let’s see, maybe a Hall of Fame tight end as a security blanket, and throw in an All-Pro receiver while you’re at it. Dak will have advantages that almost no rookie quarterback in recent memory has been afforded. This is a dream supporting cast, and almost too good to fail. To be successful, Dak will need to be slightly more active than your average bus-driving quarterback, which his raw talent will allow him to do.

3. This defense isn’t as bad as we all thought it was going to be a few months ago. We shouldn’t be surprised Marinelli pulled another rabbit out of his hat with this group. In the preseason, this defense showed itself to be very capable of being a middle of the pack defense. In the combined four quarters played by the starters, they only allowed 17 points. Is it the next generation Doomsday D? Not even close, but this defense will be good enough to allow our offense to control the game and
win fifty percent of our first few games.

Dak has the tools and supporting cast to be successful while Romo recovers from his recent back injury. It takes defenses 4-6 weeks of game film to understand a quarterback’s tendencies, and Romo may return before defensive coordinators have time to do so with Dak. Dak may not be ready to take the Cowboys deep into the playoffs this year, but we may not need him to this year. After its all said and done, Romo’s injury may have allowed the Cowboys to have their cake and eat it too. Dak develops in his rookie year and gains valuable experience, and Romo rides in on his white horse and leads the Cowboys BACK to playoffs. Don’t panic just yet, this injury may be a blessing in disguise.

Why Colin Kaepernick Deserves Respect

A week ago, the image of Colin Kaepernick lounging on a bench during the national anthem was burned into the head of everyone who had turned on a television or browsed the internet. Some hated the protest, some applauded it, while others wondered if there was a better way to bring light to such a sensitive issue. One thing is certain, it grabbed the attention of a nation. And that’s what he wanted, right?

Not really. Kaepernick wanted to bring up a discussion of the oppression he sees for “black people and people of color” in the United States. What he did start a discussion on, is whether or not one should be ostracized for sitting during the national anthem. By many, it was seen as a slight to the military and completely ‘unAmerican’. Anyone that lives in this country knows that going against the military is taboo. This is not the 1960s and 1970s when people spat on, and ridiculed soldiers returning home from the Vietnam War. Not to say that people in the United States do not still have strong feelings against war or the reasons we are in them, but we have evolved to realize that it is not the young men and women who put their lives on the line that we should be angry with. While Colin did say that his sitting was not aimed at the military in any way, it was pretty hard to separate the two once it had gone viral.

Kaepernick was left at an impasse once he said he would not stand until he saw real change with the issue at hand. If he stood after that without progress, he would be viewed as just another whiny, overpaid athlete looking for attention while not really caring about the issue. On the other hand, if he continued to sit, he would be at the center of a media whirlwind, lose endorsements, be jeered at in every stadium he entered (even Levi’s Stadium), and become more of a sideshow than an NFL quarterback, starting or not.

Sep 1, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Fans hold a sign and the flag in responses to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (not pictured) during the second quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The sign of a true man is not that he is never wrong, but rather, that he can admit his faults and strive to change and become better. Was Kaepernick wrong to protest what he sees as a social injustice in our country? Absolutely not! Could he have gone about it in a better way? I think so. Kaepernick spent 90 minutes with former Green Beret, Nate Boyer, before the 49ers final preseason game, and decided to take a knee during the national anthem instead of sitting. Wow, that was not something I expected to see. While we are supposed to stand for our anthem, taking a knee can still be seen as a sign of respect. Genuflect means to lower one’s body briefly by bending one knee to the ground, typically in worship or as a sign of respect. That is what Kaepernick is doing. What Colin is saying with this action appears to be, ‘I will still continue to protest the problem I see in my country, but I do not want to disrespect those not involved. Most notably, the men and women of the U.S. military.’.

Kaepernick is not perfect, in this protest or outside of it. Wearing socks with pigs dressed in police uniforms was certainly not done in good taste. Protesting oppression, then wearing a t-shirt with one of the most oppressive modern day world leaders on the front of it almost seems oxymoron. However, I for sure am not the one to cast the first stone. If people came looking at all of my poorly thought out plans that I took action on first, I would have my foot so far in my mouth that I could kick myself in the ass simultaneously for screwing up.

All in all, while I may not see Colin Kaepernick as a respectable NFL quarterback, I definitely respect him as a person. Admitting when I’m wrong (however rare that may be) is probably one of my biggest faults, and I could definitely take a page from the book that is Colin Kaepernick. So Colin, continue your protest until you see the change that you want to see in our country. Also, I hope you will be starting on October 2nd, because my Cowboys sure could use the win.

Dak Prescott: Cowboys QB of the Future

Talk around the water cooler with any Cowboy’s fan lately has been about Dak Prescott, and with good reason. In his first two preseason games, Dak is completing over 80% of his throws and has a QB rating just under perfect. This has Cowboy homers already visualizing Dak’s bust in Canton, and Cowboy/Romo haters saying Dak should be starting September 11th. If Dak were a stock, everyone and their mama would be taking out cash advance loans to buy shares. Thankfully, for Cowboys fans near and far, Dak is a backup quarterback, not a stock; because in about two weeks, the NASDAK is going to plummet. Not because these past two games have been a fluke, and Dak is about to be a bust, but because he will soon be an afterthought.

Dak4

What these preseason games really mean:
Dak has won the position of backup quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. That is not nearly as glamorous a position as starting QB, where all eyes are on you and the pressure of the world is laid upon your shoulders every Sunday. Just ask Jason Garrett. Dak will be on the sidelines, with headphones in place of a helmet and a clipboard in hand. The interviews will slow, until they are almost non-existent, and Dak will start to understand how Aaron Rodgers felt for the first three years of his NFL career waiting behind a franchise quarterback for his turn to play. It’s somewhat ironic that it was Brett Favre, the quarterback who Tony Romo says he still looks up to.

favre rodgers

When will Dak start?
Barring injury to Romo (knock on wood), Dak will only be seen in blowout games for the 2016 season. After that, it becomes a lot more difficult because of the business side of the NFL. This is the first year that Romo did not restructure his deal since 2012, and Romo’s contract is astronomically high (~$25 million) for the three seasons following. Jerry Jones is going to have to get creative again, and will most likely have to sell Romo on the idea of a pay cut. How these negotiations go will definitely have an effect on Dak’s career, considering a happy Romo will mean a great mentor for Dak’s tutelage. Look to see Dak start sometime during the 2018 season.

Cowboy’s draft grade for Dak:
A+. Calm down, I’m grading on a curve. The Cowboys have to be one of the worst franchises, if not the worst, at drafting quarterbacks in the last 25 years. Stephen McGee (4th round 2009), Isaiah Stanback (4th round 2007), Quincy Carter (2nd round 2001), and Bill Musgrave (4th round 1991) are the four QBs the Cowboys have drafted since taking Troy Aikman number one overall. Dak was not just a good draft pick, but this was also good timing. As seen with the Philadelphia Eagles this year, the draft can create animosity among the quarterbacks if the current quarterback plans to be playing beyond the incoming rookie’s contract. Dak and Romo’s contracts both expire at the end of the 2019 season.

Looking Forward:
For anyone thinking that Dak is going to walk into the starting role and play the way he has in the preseason, you’re wrong. Try to remember that these are preseason games that do not matter, therefore no one is playing 100%. That also means there is not the normal stress of an NFL game, with the worries of bad plays running through the quarterback’s head for the 48 hours before kickoff. It is almost common knowledge that the hardest position to play in sports is starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. You become a reality star, constantly on national news, with them trying to decide if you lost because you suck, or if your pop star girlfriend is bad luck. The tough minded can handle it, the others flame out and are never heard from again.

COLUMBIA , MO - NOVEMBER 5: Quarterback Dak Prescott #15 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs throws a touchdown pass against the Missouri Tigers in the second quarter at Memorial Stadium on November 5, 2015 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Dak seems to have what it takes to be the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. He led the Mississippi State Bulldogs to three straight winning seasons in the SEC, the toughest conference in college football. As a 20-year-old sophomore, he lost his mom to cancer and came back to finish off the season strong and be named MVP of a bowl game. He’s shown that perseverance is his DNA, and that is something he will need under the bright lights at Jerry’s World. So, Dak, I can’t wait to see what you can do as the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. On second thought, I can, for about 2-3 years.

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Why the Dallas Cowboys will win the East

This time last year very few people thought the Washington Redskins had any real chance of winning the NFC East. However, they were able to prove critics wrong after starting the season 4-6. The Skins ultimately finished with 9 wins, but at one point last year it was widely believed that 7 wins would be enough to clinch the East. In other words, no one expected the division to be competitive in the slightest, and for the most part they were right. The Redskins were able to finish strong, winning 5 of their last 6 and clinching the division by 2 games, but their outlook for 2016 has not greatly improved. With Kirk Cousins at the helm, the Redskins should have a very similar year in 2016, but 8-9 wins will not be enough this year. No team has won back to back NFC East titles since the 2003 & 2004 Eagles, and that’s not going to be changing this year. The Dallas Cowboys are primed to have a rebound year and take back what was rightfully theirs in 2014.

Similar to 2015, the NFC East is not expected to be very strong in 2016 either. Let’s take a quick look around the division to see what Cowboy fans can expect.Undoubtedly, the Cowboys had the best team in the NFC East last year. Unfortunately, their best players were watching in street clothes on the sidelines for most of 2015.  But if the Cowboys can keep Romo upright in 2016, they should be resting their starters as early as Week 16. I know that’s a bold statement to make after going just 4-12 last year, but don’t forget that the Cowboys were 3-1 when Romo started last year and the offense has only improved in 2016. With the addition of Ezekiel (Zeke) Elliott at RB, the Cowboys should have a top 3 offense and lead the NFL in time of possession (much like the 2014 Cowboys who were 3rd in TOP). In order for this to happen, the Cowboys’ key players will need to stay healthy and the defense will have to perform a few notches above “absolutely terrible” (mediocre will do just fine).

Eli Manning

NEW YORK GIANTS

The Giants are entering the post-Tom Coughlin era, and there is uncertainty within the Giants organization without Coughlin running the show. However, the G-Men did beef up their secondary in the offseason, and promoted offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo, to head coach. McAdoo’s promotion was a move to ensure Eli Manning replicates the past two seasons, where he had a combined 65 TDs and 28 Ints under McAdoo. They finished 6-10 last year, and I believe they will be slightly better by a win or two, but not much more.

Sam Bradford

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

On the other hand, the Eagles are moving on from the failed Chip Kelly experiment by replacing him with Doug Pederson, the Chiefs offensive coordinator. They drafted Carson Wentz with the 2nd overall pick, but don’t expect him to have any impact this year unless Sam Bradford goes down again (which is very possible). The Eagles will chalk this up to a rebuilding year with a new head coach and QB. That just leaves the Redskins!

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

As I noted earlier, the Redskins surprised everyone last year, but the reigning champs will have a target on their backs in 2016. Remember how the Redskins won 5 of their last 6 games in 2015? Well, their only loss in that span was to the Cowboys at Fedex Field with Matt Cassell at the helm (Yes, Matt Cassell did win a game). Keep in mind, this was the only game the Cowboys won last year without a QB named Romo. If Cassell’s Cowboys could stomp into Landover and beat the Skins last December, I think it’s safe to say the Skins will have their hands full when playing the Boys with a healthy set of triplets this year. However, with Kirk Cousins improving his game, the Redskins will be a decent team in 2016 and hover around the .500 mark.

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And then there was one! This Cowboy team will win more than 10 games for one, and only one reason: The Offense. The Cowboys boast the best offensive line in football (it’s not even close). The O-Line will have to keep Romo clean and open up holes for Zeke and company, but this should not be a concern for any Cowboy fan. They legitimately have four pro bowlers on the O-line, which may be the 2nd best line in Cowboys history. They also have a top 5 WR in the league coupled with a future hall of famer in Jason Witten. Not to mention they selected the best running back in the draft, and maybe even the past few drafts with Zeke. Outside of tough road match-ups against the Packers, Steelers, and Vikings, the Cowboys’ schedule is pretty favorable. I see this team winning 10 or 11 games this year, which will be more than enough to clinch the NFC “LEast”.

It will all come down to keeping Romo healthy. If Romo stays healthy, the Boys are going to light up the scoreboard and control the game clock, minimizing the exposure to the defense. I know Romo’s health is sketchy at best; however, Romo did his part by having the Mumford procedure to prevent another clavicle injury. In short, a small portion of his collarbone was shaved to prevent grinding so it will not break when he lands on his shoulder. This procedure is not guaranteed to work, but the chances are high that it will. A Romo injury will be the only reason the Cowboys will not be hosting a playoff game in January. Rest easy Cowboys fans, this year the Cowboys’ win total will be double-digits and they will win the NFC East for the 22nd time.

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D-Motivating

Football is officially back! The ‘Boys reported to camp in Oxnard on Saturday and we finally get our first taste of anything resembling big-boy football since February.  The Cowboy-Homer in me wants to say Super Bowl or bust, but the realist in me is popping the balloons. As Training Camp gets underway, let’s review the current state of the Defense to get an idea of what we can expect for 2016.

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Why 118 is the Most Important Number in Dallas

For most of us, sports is a game, but one that must be taken very, very seriously. It comforts us to know that there is a higher power, a sports god if you will, that is protecting the very sacred laws of sports. When these sports gods are on your side, you’ll do whatever you can to keep them happy. This can range from the somewhat normal (Wade Boggs eating chicken on every game day), to the obsessive (Jason Terry sleeping in the shorts of his opponents the night before every game), to the disgusting (Serena Williams not changing socks throughout an entire tournament). It’s when the sports gods are against you that things start to get weird. Jason Giambi used to wear a gold thong to get out of slumps. Seriously!? What’s worse is that when it worked, his teammates started to do it too! (hopefully using different thongs)

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The Cowboys Top 5 Concerns Heading into the Season

It’s that very special time of year where every NFL city has a bullish outlook of the upcoming season. From coast to coast, fans believe the right moves were made in the off-season and this will be the year their team finally reaches the ever-elusive championship game. Unfortunately, that optimism can sink faster than the Titanic in the cold Atlantic. The Cowboys had a tough 2015 campaign… (Clears throat) Let me try that again, the Cowboys outright sucked in 2015. Last year, a lot of bad things happened and happened quickly to ensure the Boys had their worst record since the dismal 1-15 season of 1989. In 2016, the Cowboys are banking on the 2014 formula that had them one bad-call away from an NFC Championship. To repeat 2014, the Cowboys will need their risky off-season decisions to pay dividends, coupled with a streak of good luck on the injury front. I’ve listed the top 5 concerns that should keep every Cowboys fan awake at night heading into the season.

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