The 2017 NFL draft is over, and it was actually one of the more exciting drafts in recent history. From several 1st round trades for quarterbacks to the best pre-selection speech ever given, by Drew Pearson. The season doesn’t start for four months, and we have to fill the football void in our lives somehow, so let’s dive into the Cowboys first 5 picks…
Round 1, Pick 28: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
Taco is a 6’6″, 277 lb defensive end, that had a decent junior season, and a good senior season. His combine numbers did not overly impress anyone, but his size did, and you can’t teach size. Taco has the God-given gifts to play in the NFL, but will need to work on his strength and quickness to become an impact player.
The 40-yard dash is not as great an indicator for a defensive lineman, but his 10 yard split was more telling than his complete 40. as the 3 cone drill and 20-yard shuttle. Taco performed in the top 15 in both the 3 cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle for defensive linemen. The bench press doesn’t tell the whole story of strength for an NFL player, but Taco will definitely need to hit the weight room to make sure he does not get manhandled by NFL tackles.
The Cowboys needed a pass rush, considering they have been without one since 2014 when Demarcus Ware left for Denver. Taco will be able to control his own destiny with the Cowboys’ pass rush positions wide open due to inconsistent play and substance abuse issues. Some may have questioned taking Taco this high, but he was on draft boards anywhere from mid-1st to mid-2nd round, and the defensive back depth in this draft was much greater than the defensive line depth. Taco’s NFL career will be determined by how motivated he is to be great. Hard work should get him to the Pro Bowl, while apathy will have him frustrating teams and coaches alike.
Round 2, Pick 60: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
Many analysts and Cowboys fans had their eyes on Kevin King or Sidney Jones in the 1st round for the Cowboys, but the Jones’ preferred the value of Chidobe Awuzie in the 2nd round. He has good size, and great speed. Back-to-back All Pac-12 teams, a nose for the football, and not being afraid to step up and put a hit on a runner makes it appear as if the Cowboys made the right choice in waiting.
At 6’0″ with a 4.43 40 time, and a 34.5″ vertical, Chidobe should be able to matchup with almost any receiver in the league athletically. He played more inside corner at the nickel position in college, but will need to learn to play outside as well. Awuzie’s willingness to deliver a hit will do well with Marinelli’s DB blitzes. While Chidobe can lay the smackdown every once in a while, he will need to learn to wrap up, since most NFL ball carriers know how to break away from lazy arm tackles he has been known to resort to at times.
The lack of depth in the Cowboys’ secondary will give fans the ability to see what Chidobe can do very early on. Week 1 will be a big test with the New York Giants and their talented receiving crew coming to Jerry’s World week 1.
Round 3, Pick 92: Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
Lewis was one of the best cover corners in the NCAA for the past two years, but his size may present an issue at the next level. Cornerbacks that are under 6 feet usually find themselves as career nickelbacks. However, this was a great value pick, since Lewis was passed over by many teams in the third round, most likely due to his pending domestic violence issue.
Jourdan is a physical corner, especially in the first five yards not letting receivers get a clean break. This skill will prove to be very important in the NFL, especially considering Lewis does not have great speed (4.54 40) at the cornerback position. He could prove to be very valuable to the Cowboys since they are often burned by good route-running receivers. Jourdan Lewis is eerily similar to former Cowboy, Pacman Jones. Let’s just hope these similarities end once he steps off the field.
Round 4, Pick 133: Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolina
This pick was somewhat confusing, considering this was not a big need for the Cowboys, and Switzer was probably not this high on anyone’s draft board. Switzer believes he is the best returner in the draft, which would fill another void the Cowboys have had for the past two seasons, when Dwayne Harris bolted for New York.
Switzer’s quickness was on display at the combine with the fastest 20 yard shuttle and the 2nd fastest 60 yard shuttle for wide receivers (3rd fastest overall in both). At 5’8″, one can assume that the Cowboys may be looking for a replacement for slot receiver Cole Beasley, who has 2 years left on his current contract and only a $1 million cap hit with a trade or release before the 2018 season.
Not too sure about the value of this pick, since these type of players may be dime a dozen, but only time will tell. Switzer will most likely only see playing time as a returner in his rookie season.
Round 6, Pick 191: Xavier Woods, S, Lousiana Tech
The Cowboys traded their 2018 5th round pick to grab what looks to be the best value pick of the draft for Dallas. This is another player with good quickness, that was displayed in both combine shuttle drills, as well as the 3 cone drill. Woods is a big hitting safety that can also track the football in the air to break up and intercept deep balls (5 INTs his senior year).
He does give off the look of former Denver Broncos safety, Steve Atwater, who could both cover in the pass and deliver bone-jarring hits on even the biggest of running backs. Unfortunately, sometimes the need to get a big hit got the best of Atwater, but Xavier seems very focused on disrupting passing lanes.
Woods is somewhat undersized at 5’11” at the safety position, but everything else points to him being the Cowboys’ “steal” of the 2017 draft. Also, with Barry Church and JJ Wilcox saying goodbye to Dallas this off-season, Xavier Woods could see the field more often than most 6th round picks do in their rookie season.
The rest of the picks were as follows:
Round 6, Pick 216: Marquez White, CB, Florida State
Round 7, Pick 228: Joey Ivie, DT, Florida
Round 7, Pick 239: Noah Brown, WR, Ohio State
Round 7, Pick 246: Jordan Carrell, DT, Colorado
A lot has changed since the last time these two teams met in week 2. One team left 1-1 and the other 0-2 and they have lost a combined 1 game since. The week 2 matchup featured a Cowboys rookie backfield that was just beginning to come into its own and a Kirk Cousins that was the focal point of everyone’s laughter. The interception by Barry Church 6 yards into the end zone spelled disaster in the 4th quarter as the Cowboys drove down the field to score the game’s last touchdown to secure a 4 point lead. Just to put everyone back in the mindset after that game, here is my opening paragraph:
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.
Fast forward 10 weeks and the Redskins appear to have righted the ship. All those missed opportunities aren’t missed anymore as the Redskins rank 3rd in the league in passing yards per game and 9th in scoring. Kirk Cousins has a 98.8 passer rating on the season and only 4 interceptions since week 2. The Cowboys secondary had a hard time containing DeSean Jackson and will be even more hard pressed this week without Barry Church and Morris Claiborne helping cover the talented receiving core of this Washington team. The Skins rushing attack is no slouch either, ranking 10th with 117.1 ypg. This team will score, but to win, they need to score over 24 points per game as their defense is among the bottom feeders of the league allowing 23.3 points per game.
The Redskins aren’t the only ones to have improved since week 2. The Cowboys star running back has gone from averaging 67 ypg to 121 ypg since and Dak Prescott has earned the starting quarterback job over a healthy Tony Romo. The Cowboys put up over 100 yards rushing on the top ranked Ravens rush defense last week and will look to continue that domination this week vs the 22nd ranked Redskins D.
This game will be decided by which high powered offense can beat the weaker defense the worst. The Redskins vaunted pass attack vs the injured Cowboys secondary or the Cowboys vicious running game vs a bottom feeder Redskins front 7? What the Cowboys have going is their strength also keeps their opponents strength off the field. The Cowboys need to run the ball well and punish this Redskins defense by way of numerous 7-8 minute drives in order to prevent their own weakness from being too exposed.
Thursday afternoon, SI.com broke the news that Tony Romo had reportedly requested a chance to win his job back from the rookie sensation, Dak Prescott. Unfortunately for him, the Cowboys rejected his proposal, and the veteran instead conceded the team to Prescott in an emotional press conference on Tuesday.
The Cowboys have clearly chosen to ride the hot hand of Dak Prescott for the rest of the year, but no rookie quarterback has ever won the super bowl as a starter. Did the Cowboys make a mistake by not allowing Romo, a 14 year veteran, to at least try to win his job back? We will find out soon enough. Please comment and give us your thoughts.
For more details on Romo’s rejection, check out the Sports Illustrated article here.
They are who we thought they were. This game went exactly as expected. The Cowboys came out hot, scored Touchdowns and punted twice. The Browns, on the other hand, had 33 yards in the second half. This no name group of orphans on the Cowboys’ Defense continuously steps up and embraces the ‘next man up’ mentality. Even without S Barry Church and CB Morris Claiborne, the Browns only had 222 total yards and were 1-9 on third downs. As Defensive Coordinator, Rod Marinelli, would put it they were “solid, didn’t break, off the charts”. Coach is a man of many words.
Dak played solid as well, completing 21 of 27 for 247 yards and 3 TDs with a career best 141.8 passer rating. What impressed me the most about Dak was his ability to reel Dez back in after a couple of missed Pass Interference calls. Dez was fuming as he went to line back up and Dak got him to keep his cool and focus. Dez finished with only 1 catch for 19 yards, but said, “At the end of the day we got that W”.
Back in the spot light this week was the future Hall of Famer himself, Jason Witten. Witten recorded his first 100 yard game since 2013 with 8 catches, 134 yards and 1 TD. This game wasn’t flashy, in fact, the longest run was 15 yards. Exactly the game that we needed, methodical, consistent, and about 30 minutes shorter than all the other games. Get in, get out and get home with the W. Zeke only rushed for 92 yards on 18 carries, but the stats were skewed as the majority of the starters sat most of the 4th quarter. The last drive of the game took 7:48 seconds, included 2 4th down conversions and 2 QB kneels from the victory formation inside the red zone. The Cowboys eclipsed the 400 yard total offense for the 6th straight time, setting yet another record. The biggest stat of the day was Time of Possession. The Cowboys controlled the ball twice as long as their opponent (39:39-20:21) which allowed them to keep the clock running.
Defensively, Maliek Collins recorded his first 2 career sacks and after the game said he should have had a third. This team is the first “Team” we’ve seen. Nobody flashy, just a team of hard working guys who are in the right place and don’t beat themselves.
Pretty close again! The Browns converted 1 of those field goals into a TD and the Boys got all TDs. Dan Bailey was 0/0 on field goal attempts.
In a league begging for conversation topics, I was really trying hard to find something to spotlight in this game. And not because there are too few, it’s quite the opposite here in Dallas. In this Sunday Night Football matchup between league rivals, you have a 5-1 Cowboys team facing off against a 4-2 Eagles team, both of which are starting rookie quarterbacks. Add the fact that Cowboys’ long time quarterback, Tony Romo, actually practiced for the first time since training camp on Thursday and you are pretty much guaranteed to see and hear plenty about the QB debate during the national broadcast. Is this Dak’s last game? This game will tell us. If the Cowboys win by 14, Dak has a rating of 100+ and Zeke rushes for 150, it will be really hard to pull him. A Cowboys loss, on the other hand, makes it really easy for the front office and coaching staff to put Romo back in and let him get a shot at a ring. Needless to say, there are plenty of story lines leading into Sunday Night.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys will look to stop the run and force Carson Wentz to move his feet. When Wentz can hang in the pocket, he can deliver a nice pass. However, when he is forced to move while throwing, he tends to throw flat footed and rely on his arm causing the ball to sail. Last week we saw the defense rush 3 and drop 8. The Packers didn’t have a running back for most of the game, so this made sense. This week, the Eagles have two in Jordan Matthews and Darren Sproles, both of which can hurt you. That said, the Eagles are ranked 17th in the league in rushing with 111/ypg. On paper, this Eagles offense doesn’t look like a 4-2 team. Their defense, however, is a whole ‘nother story, allowing only 307/ypg (5th in the league) and 14.7 points per game (3rd in the league).
Offensively, Dak and Zeke have this team rolling and Dez Bryant is coming back. The Eagles will need to pick their poison and are going to really need to think about their choice. Their run defense is ranked 24th in the league allowing 4.5 yards per carry and their starting defensive tackle, Bennie Logan, is might not suit up. If that happens, Zeke is going to have a field day. The only way to stop this from happening is to load the box, leaving 1:1 with Dez outside. This might be the day Dak posts his first 300 yard game.
Find a way to get in the backfield: Doing this will give the running backs less room to move and force Carson Wentz to move his feet. Over the last two weeks, teams have been able to do this and Wentz has looked more like a rookie. The Offensive line isn’t as good as the Cowboys have faced in the first 6 weeks, so if there was a matchup that allowed a rush, this is it.
Run: The Eagles defense as a whole ranks in the top 5 in the league in yards per game and points allowed, however, the run defense is ranked 24th. Feed Zeke. Force the Eagles to stop him and by doing so freeing up the receivers. Zeke or Dak should have a big game, which one depends on the Eagles preference.
Get Dez started early: With Dez set to start for the first time in 4 weeks, look for him to get some early receptions in order to kick off the dust. If the Eagles decide to shut down Dez, look for Cole Beasley to have another big game.
It’s the bye week and the Cowboys are rolling with a 5-1 record, after losing week 1 to the Giants by 1 point. No one expected Dak to put the team in this position, but he did. Is it because of all the pieces around him, the first round draft picks of Offensive lineman or the 4th overall pick being a stud running back, or his own poise and skill? One thing is certain, these “Romo Friendly” picks have turned QB friendly. So let’s take a minute to really look at this little predicament the Cowboys find themselves in.
Dak has started 6 games in the NFL, so to be fair, let’s look at those 6 vs Tony’s last 6 games.
The numbers are very similar, Tony has 2 more TDs but 6 more INTs in that span and Dak actually has more yards. Considering Dak threw his first TD in week 3, it’s only logical that the last 3 games what we can anticipate going forward. The Cowboys are 3-3 under Tony and 5-1 under Dak. From a numbers perspective, it is really hard to argue for Tony over Dak. What other arguments are out there to support putting Tony in?
While over his career, Tony has been the most prolific 4th quarter passer in the league, Dak has done a pretty good job in his limited opportunities to run a 2 minute drill. Last week in Green Bay, he drove the team 97 yards in 33 seconds and it didn’t look like they were hurrying. He remains poised and calm in every situation.
While that may or may not be true, the one game Dak has lost was to the Giants by 1 point. That was the same game that Ezekiel Elliott only rushed for 53 yards. If you remember, Zeke was extremely limited in the preseason with a hamstring strain allowing him to have his first snaps against Seattle in week 3 of the preseason. He was a little gun shy in that season opener. That was also the same game where Dak was moving the ball in the final minute, but Terrence Williams decided to stay in bounds and run the clock out. Had Zeke been the Zeke we have seen in the last 5 games, the Cowboys would have won that game and been undefeated.
The Cowboys have proven over the years that they can find the money to do whatever they want. It would be REALLY SILLY to trade or cut Romo this year, I’ll admit it. If that were to happen, the Cowboys would eat $19.6 million in cap space. That is a TON of dead money. However, if they part ways after June 1st over the offseason, Romo would only cost $10.7 million in dead money and $8.9 million the following year. Considering that his cap hit if he is on the roster those years are $24.7 million and $25.2 million, respectively, it makes a ton of sense to move on.
So now that those three myths are busted, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin.
Pick a date, and stick to it. Over the years Tony has needed a warm up game, and Cleveland is the perfect one. Put Tony in against Cleveland, let him shake the rust off and then take on Pittsburg (who might still be without Big Ben). If at any time Romo looks like he isn’t getting it back, you still have Dak to put back in. What you don’t want to do, is make this a week to week thing and pull Dak when he struggles only to put him back in when Tony struggles. That would hurt his confidence. You want him sitting because it’s time not because he lost the job, so that when he comes back in, he still has that confidence and swagger that he has now.
Seattle had Russell Wilson on his rookie salary and was able to devote a large portion of their cap to building the legion of boom. This year we have Morris Claiborne, Terrence Williams and Ron Leary coming up just to name a few. To sign these guys, you will need some of that money saved from moving on from Romo. If you don’t pay those guys, you need to either draft their replacements or sign another Free Agent which will cost you as well.
Tony has 2 playoff wins, so to say he gives you that experience in the playoffs, is a little misleading. Yes, he’s been there, but he’s 2-4 in postseason play. He’s won 2 games, not 2 Super Bowls. So to derail the Dak Train, doesn’t seem to be the right move in my opinion. Luckily, my name isn’t Jerry Jones so I don’t have to worry about it. I can just sit back and hope and critique whatever the decision may be. Luckily for GM Jerry, he doesn’t have to worry about losing his job should whatever decision he ends up making blow up in his face.
I’ll leave you with this: Romo’s last start resulted in no TDs, 3 INTs and a Passer Rating of 27.2.
Dak’s last start resulted in 3 TDs, 1 INT and a Passer Rating of 117.4, second straight game over 117 and hasn’t been under 100 since week 1. Whatever decision is made – Go Cowboys!
The Cowboys travel to Green Bay Wisconsin this weekend as they take on the Packers at Lambeau Field. Lambeau has not been a friendly place for the Cowboys in the recent past, in fact, they have lost their last 5 meetings. Included in those 5 losses was the divisional round of the 2014 playoffs where Dez caught the ball only to have the head of officiating, Dean Blandino, overturn it (not that I’m still upset about that at all). Dez, however, is still nursing the fracture in his leg and is questionable to play this week. He was limited in practice and he could suit up as a decoy or in an emergency goal line situation. Dez isn’t the only starter likely to miss the game. For the Cowboys, Orlando Scandrick is still out with the hamstrings and Tyron Smith took the day off yesterday, but sources say he will be a go on Sunday. Green Bay has numerous players missing in action, including, TE Jared Cook, CB Sam Shields and RB James Starks. The Packers only carry 2 running backs and 1 full back on the active roster. If Starks can’t go Sunday, look for the Packers to pull up a scout team RB. The Packers are 3-1 this year, but with a combined margin of victory of 18 with wins over the Jaguars, Lions and Giants.
The Cowboys have the top ranked running game in the NFL, the Packers have the top ranked run defense in the NFL. This will be another game where whoever wins the line will win this game. The offensive line will need to dominate again to keep the running game moving. This will allow Dak to keep his rhythm and more importantly, keep Aaron Rodgers off the field. This Sunday, the Packers will present Brett Favre his Hall of Fame ring, so to say that Aaron Rodgers will have some extra motivation this week goes without saying. The longer Mr. Rodgers is on the sideline, the better the odds of the Cowboys ending this 5 game losing streak in Lambeau.
I think we can all agree the defense played outside themselves last week vs the Bengals. Demarcus Lawrence played limited snaps in his first game back from his 4 game suspension. He will be given a full load this week and will need to be on top of his game this week as he chases down Rodgers who has only taken 8 sacks on the season. The Packers offense isn’t as high powered as we are used to as they have the worst passing and 12th worst rushing offense so far in 2016. These Packers always seem to play their best when the Cowboys come to town, however, so the D Line will need to get pressure on Rodgers in order to keep their offensive woes rolling.
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It was all fun and games in Arlington on Sunday as the Cowboys had their way with the Bengals. Dak continued to look poised in the pocket as he managed to make it to his 3rd and 4th read at will. The offensive line had their best game yet against a defensive front 7 that is the heart and sole of a usually stout defense. We all know how much the Cowboys have sunk into this offensive line – the Bengals have done the same with their defensive front. Their best vs our best. The result? 180 yards rushing, 134 from Ezekiel Elliott, 3 rushing touchdowns, 227 yards passing and 1 passing touchdown. The low point (because you have to stay grounded) was Dak’s first turnover of the year. The offensive line gave up just 1 sack on the day which resulted in a fumble which the Bengals recovered. That turnover ended a 12 play, 57 yard and nearly 8 minute drive at the CIN 18 yard line. The Cowboys were driving and about to make it 35-0. Instead, the Bengals recovered the fumble and 10 plays later cut their deficit to 28-7.
The Cowboys didn’t give up any big plays as their secondary was firm and Bengals QB Andy Dalton found himself under pressure within 2-3 second on nearly every drop back. The Cowboys actually had a pass rush for the first time all year thanks to the return of Demarcus Lawrence. Lawrence didn’t record a sack, but came very close on two separate occasions – we’ll chalk that up to the rust factor. But his speed off the end forced Dalton out of the pocket and right into our other 3 rushers, resulting in 4 sacks. As the weeks progress, and Lawrence gets continues to get his feet back, he won’t miss those opportunities. Rest assured, if he does, the other guys bull rushing from the other side won’t. AJ Green caught half of his 8 targets for just 50 yards while Brandon LaFell caught 8 for 68 and two TDs. The Bengals couldn’t seem to to get a quick score as both scoring drives were 10+ plays and over 5 minutes. The Cowboys were giving up the short plays to eliminate the quick strikes.
Call me crazy, but this is exactly the way I like to watch my teams. Relaxed, with my feet up, blood pressure at a nice calm rate. There was never a time throughout the entire game where I was even a little worried. Dak continued to spread the ball around, Zeke busted a 60 yard touchdown run (untouched), the defense was swarming around the ball. It was utter domination beginning to end. All of this without Dez Bryant and Orlando Scandrick. Dez was sidelined another week with the hairline fracture in his leg, and Orlando rested his hamstrings another week. The offense didn’t miss a beat thanks to Terrence Williams catching all 5 of his targets for 70 yards and Jason Witten’s 3 catches and 43 yards with an absolutely beautiful stiff arm of Derron Smith:
The Cowboys will look to continue this 4 game winning streak in which they have progressed significantly each week as they head into Lambeau to face the 3-1 Packers. A win there will officially start the conversation about a certain Cowboy’s retirement. But for now, let’s enjoy this week, as it’s back to work tomorrow.
Zeke runs wild:
I had the “Zeke runs wild” part down, although I did not see this defense playing as soundly as they did, nor did I think we wouldn’t miss Dez against a reportedly solid Bengals Defense. When I am wrong, I want it to be in this way!
Zach Martin shouldn’t have to worry about who is wife will support on Sunday afternoon as her brother, Bengals TE Tyler Eifert, will be sidelined with a back injury. Unfortunately, the Cowboys will have their own problems with who suits up on Sunday. Just to name a few of the Cowboys who did not practice on Wednesday: K – Dan Bailey (back), WR – Dez Bryant (knee), RB – Lance Dunbar (knee), OT – Chaz Green (foot), DT – David Irving (Concussion), G – La’El Collins (toe, moved to IR).
There were several others who were limited participants, namely CB Orlando Scandrick and OT Tyron Smith. On a more positive side, DeMarcus Lawrence is back this week which means we could see some resemblance of a, wait for it… wait for it… PASS RUSH! For those of you who don’t remember what this is, a “Pass Rush” is typically where the Defensive End gets around the Offensive Tackle and sacks the QB within 3 seconds. The QB shouldn’t have 7 or 8 seconds to scan and re-scan the field every time he drops back.
So now that we are caught up on who is playing where, what does that mean for Sunday? Ezekiel Elliott is the NFL’s leading rusher through 4 weeks. At his current pace, he should end with over 1600 rushing yards. This Bengals team will let you run on them. They are giving up an average of 3.8 yards per carry on the ground so far this year and haven’t seen anything close to the Cowboys’ rushing attack yet. Establishing the run game early will help the Dak and the passing game. It’s still uncertain if Dez plays on Sunday, so let’s assume he’s out. Bryce Butler had a good game but didn’t really stretch the field like we’d hoped, Terrence Williams apparently didn’t learn from his week 1 goof and refused to go out of bounds before the half and Cole Beasley was contained for most of the game. Not having Dez on the field affects everyone. All the more reason for the Cowboys to continue to pound the ball and control the clock. The longer they keep the Bengals weapons in the arsenal the better.
Defensively, the Cowboys will have their first big test. AJ Green is a big play threat on every play and is averaging 14.6 yards per reception with 2 TDs. Watching Jeremy Hill run against the Dolphins (I know it’s the Dolphins) was scary. He has good feet and won’t go down if you don’t wrap up. With Orlando Scandrick questionable Sunday, Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr have to shut down Green and make the other receivers beat them, which they are more than capable of doing. Giovani Bernard and Brandon LaFell can each make plays if you sleep on them. Best way to defend this Offense? Don’t let them on the field.
Cowboys: 31, Bengals: 27
Down 14 – 0 in the second quarter, I took it upon myself to do something to help the boys in blue turn it around: I promptly switched chairs. From there, the Cowboys finished the game 27-3. Coincidence? Ok, sure… It probably was. Whatever the reason, the Cowboys were a different team after the horrible start.
Dak finished the game completing 72% of his 32 attempts for a QB Rating of 114.7, 2 TDs and extended his Rookie record to 134 attempts without an interception. The other half of the rookie backfield, Ezekiel Elliott finished the day with 138 yards on 23 attempts for a whopping 6 yards per carry and 1 touchdown, becoming the NFL’s leading rusher. The offensive line didn’t miss a beat, even though they were missing Pro Bowler Tyron Smith and La’El Collins. If anything, they looked a lot more aggressive on run blocking. In my week 3 preview, I mentioned the line might be improved with Ron Leary back at his Left Tackle spot (albeit with Collins replacing Right Tackle Doug Free), however, we did not see a turnaround like this.
Defensively, Morris Claiborne has continued to dominate the secondary. With Orlando Scandrick sidelined for a second straight week, Mo has risen to the occasion making several key stops including the game winning tackle on fourth down late in the 4th quarter. The defensive line had 1 sack and not many more hurries, but did their job after they figured out how to stop Chip Kelly’s option offense with help from Sean Lee (which couldn’t have come sooner as watching a high school offense make an NFL defense look silly got annoying in a hurry). Overall, this was a solid 2. 5 quarters of defense.
I came close again in my week 4 preview. The Cowboys finished the game 24-3, but the damage was done on the 49ers’ first two drives. Cowboys cover the spread: Final Score 24-17
It was supposed to be just another Monday night in October. I walked into Texas Stadium and said the usual prayer: That Drew Bledsoe will bring the Cowboys a much needed win against the hated Giants. With the Big Tuna, Jason Witten, and T.O. on the good guys’ side, a win was likely. But the first half doesn’t go as planned and the Cowboys trail the Giants 12-7. Little did anyone know the second half of this Monday Night Football game would be the beginning of a ten-year roller coaster ride for Cowboy Nation. It was October 23, 2006 – the night the Romo era began. Cowboys fans remember like it was yesterday, seeing the number 9 jersey trot onto the field to start the second half. The excitement of a new beginning – this was THE guy, OUR guy. It wasn’t just Romo waiting patiently for this moment, the fans had been waiting too. His first pass was picked off and the Cowboys ultimately lost the game, but the Cowboys found a winner that night. He led the team to 5 wins over the next 6 games and a playoff berth. He also made the Pro Bowl and Cowboy Nation never looked back. A decade later, history may be repeating itself.
Romo has washed away many of the sins of Jerry Jones and the front office over the past decade. But is that enough for Jerry to keep Romo in Dallas? Mr. Jones said it best after a few Johnnie Walkers, “Romo was a miracle”. But couldn’t the same be said for Dak Prescott? The football gods must have been smiling down on Jerry again when Dak was still available midway through the 4th round in the 2016 draft. Every scouting department in the NFL probably wants a mulligan after Dak was selected 135th overall, but as they say – hindsight is 20/20. Dak is much more than any Cowboys fan had hoped for when they drafted him. He has not only proved to be a legitimate NFL quarterback, but possibly a franchise quarterback for the next decade or longer. After Dak’s fast start, the Cowboys may not want to stunt his growth for a fragile, aging Romo. If they ultimately choose Dak to finish out the season, wouldn’t it be similar to Romo’s promotion a decade ago? The Cowboys would be in contention to win the East, but would likely end up settling for a Wildcard berth. There is nothing wrong with this scenario for a rookie quarterback, but is it enough this time around?
There is also the argument for Romo to retain his starting job when he is healthy. If the NFL stands for ‘Not For Long’, why pass on a top-tier quarterback like Romo when he could lead an offense with all of its’ pieces still intact? The Cowboys offense boasts the best O-Line in football, a Hall of Fame tight end, an All-Pro receiver, and arguably the best running back combo in the league. Who wouldn’t want a quarterback with the second highest quarterback rating in NFL history? If there is a fifty percent chance he could stay healthy for the rest of the year, it’s worth the risk of potentially stunting Dak’s growth as a quarterback (if that’s even a real concern). Who gives the Cowboys the best chance to win TODAY? The short answer is, Tony, and the gap is larger than most people would think. Many have forgotten that Romo is 15-4 (.789) in his last 19 regular season starts. When he’s healthy, the Cowboys are very hard to beat. Dak’s not going anywhere, and there isn’t a Cowboy fan out there that disagrees that he should be given the reins once Romo is done. If Romo gives the team a better chance to win, benching him when he’s ready will limit the Cowboys’ potential.
If the Cowboys decide to stay with Dak for the remainder of the season, there is no reason to keep Romo around. He would be a huge distraction, not only for Dak, but for the entire team. Romo makes no sense as an insurance policy, because the Cowboys have already passed on a legitimate run at the playoffs if they decide to bench him. Teams are always looking for a good quarterback, and would likely give up substantial draft picks to get Romo. The Cowboys could certainty benefit from a few extra draft picks to fill the holes on the defensive side of the ball. The last time the Cowboys got a ‘few’ extra draft picks from trading a high powered offensive talent, it translated into a dynasty that brought three Lombardi trophies to Valley Ranch. It may not be on par with The Great Trade Robbery, but ‘The Star’ is up and running and waiting for some new trophies to fill the halls.
The debate is not who should start for the Cowboys, but rather, when do the Cowboys want to make a serious push in the postseason? The answer should be “Now”. So look for number 9 to trot back on the field once again this year. But the question now becomes, for how long?
Game Time: Sunday, 3:25 p.m.
Location: Levi’s Stadium; Santa Clara, CA
Betting Odds: Dallas -3
Over/Under: 46 points
The Cowboys will once again more than likely be without Dez Bryant as they head to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. When asked how the Offense will fair without their star WR, Dak Prescott said, (and I paraphrase) It won’t change our offense any, we’ll just run our offense and whoever is open will get the ball. While that is what you want to hear from your QB, I honestly think he really believes that. And why wouldn’t he? Dez hasn’t really been the poster boy for elite receivers that we have been accustomed to over the course of his career. But with Ezekiel Elliott looking more like a 4th overall pick, Dez is starting to find his rhythm. Bryce Butler will presumably take the reins this week as the physical receiver cutting across the middle and should provide the necessary speed to open up the long ball as well. Butler said on Wednesday that he is ready to get the opportunity.
The 49ers defense pitched a shutout week 1 over the Rams, but have since allowed 46 points week 2 to the Panthers and 37 to Seattle. Their run defense isn’t shabby, ranking 10th in the league allowing only 122.7 ypg. Where the Cowboys can make their money is in the passing game. The 49ers rank 19th allowing 254.7 ypg through the air. All this includes the week 1 Rams game where they allowed only 130 passing yards and 65 net rushing yards. So the total yards are skewed a bit. The 49ers run a 4-3 and will be healthier than the Bears (who also run a 4-3), so Dak will see a few new looks that should provide a new test. With Tyron Smith still missing practice Wednesday due to his back issue, Chaz Green will be facing those same tests. If Dak and Chaz pass this test, the Cowboys should be 3-1 come Sunday night.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, rank 11th in total yards allowed, and 10th in points per game allowing just 20. With nothing even closely resembling a pass rush, the Cowboys need to find a way to get to QB Blaine Gabbert. Essentially rushing 4 Defensive Tackles can only get you so far as the Cowboys have racked up a whopping 5 sacks so far this season. Hope is on the horizon, however, as Demarcus Lawrence is expected back next week when the Bengals come to ATT Stadium.
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.
Let’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.
Let’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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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).
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.
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!
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.
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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Over the years, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex has seen its’ share of memorable sports moments. Like other sports-centric communities, DFW has a rich history of both the good and the bad. Some of these moments evoke proud, happy memories of local athletic dominance, but others may stir-up dark, lingering emotions that you thought your therapist and $1,287 had helped you overcome…
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)