When the 2015 NFL Draft kicks off nine days from tonight in Chicago, it will commence the official beginning of the 2015 NFL season (free agency is cool, but it ain’t the draft).
I’ve been known to be quite the nostalgic - I still watch Friends reruns on a daily basis - so I thought what better way to get excited about where we’re going than to look back at where we just were? Take a stroll down memory lane with me, and please keep all hands inside the vehicle at all time. Flash photography is allowed.
Let’s count down the Dallas Cowboys' 10 greatest moments from 2014.
Rolando McClain’s interception in Tennessee (Week 2)
In the first minute of the fourth quarter, Jake Locker stepped back in his usual nit-witty sort of way and fired off a pass that got tipped at the line of scrimmage by last year’s big free agency pick up, Henry Melton.
Rolando McClain made an incredible one-armed acrobatic move in which he kept the ball afloat with his right arm, and bounced it around until he corralled it safely in his arms. He had enough moxie to get up and run the TD in, too. Unfortunately for RoMac, the referees whistled the play dead and the play was only ruled an interception after a challenge by Coach Garrett… which gave us the ball at the spot of the pick. The offense would go on to produce a Dan Bailey field goal that pushed the lead to 26-10, giving us our first win of the season.
Barry Church Picks off Eli Manning in New York on Sunday Night Football (Week 12)
With 3:16 remaining in the third quarter, the Giants were up 21-17 on the Cowboys. Already inside their 20, the G-Men were looking to go up two scores. Thankfully Baby Peyton hit Preston Parker right on the fingertips, and he took off just enough of the pass to allow Barry Church to swoop in and pick it off.
Church took the ball practically to midfield and turned the momentum in Dallas' favor. Romo & Co. took that momentum and drove downfield in five minutes before hitting Dez Bryant for the go-ahead touchdown.
Dez Bryant Won’t Be Denied in London (Week 10)
This is technically two plays but it’s my countdown so I can do whatever I want.
Already leading the Jacksonville Jaguars (yes, that’s a real NFL team) 10-7 across the pond in England, Tony Romo threw a teeny little baby five yard pass towards #88. In typical Dez fashion, he sprinted 35 yards, evaded 7 defenders, and fell into the endzone for the score.
Touchdown Cowboys - 17-7.
Seven minutes later, with the score unchanged, with 31 seconds remaining, Tony did what all the Brits wanted to see. He threw to Dez. He threw a beautiful rainbow pass that Dez caught over his shoulder - and the bruised pride of Jacksonville - on his way to a 68 yard score.
It's DeMarco Murray’s World, Saints Just Live in it (Week 4)
This is also two plays. I promise this isn’t a recurring theme. Stop yelling at me.
With just over four minutes to play in the first half, DeMarco Murray showed us who he would be in 2014. Had he dominated the Titans and Rams? Yea, sure. But so can kindergarteners.
This was the Sean Payton coached, Drew Brees quarterbacked, Jimmy Graham goal post dunking New Orleans Saints.
And with a 10-0 lead at his back DeMo took a handoff from numero nueve, caught one of the most textbook blocks from Jason Witten on Junior Galette, and sprinted in for the score with the ball held high.
Hello 2014, I’m going to be your leading rusher.
Oh but before I lead the league in rushing, I’m going to humiliate the Saints. Almost a full quarter later DeMarco took New Orleans for a 35 yard exercise in humility.
He broke free behind his stellar line and put the game away for Dem Boyz.
Cole Beasley Stretches Out for Glory in Chicago (Week 14)
We’ve seen him dunk. We’ve seen him fly. We’ve even seen him fix his facemask while scoring a touchdown on the Indianapolis Colts. Now we can say that we’ve seen him lay it all out for the score. And we’ve seen him do it twice.
Cole Beasley broke out at Soldier Field on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football.
With under 20 seconds to go in the first half, Romo hit Cole at the Chicago five. Chris Conte flailed helplessly at Cole. Cole shook part of him off. Cole dove for the endzone. For the score! And he wasn’t done yet...
Three minutes into the third quarter - on 3rd and 3 - he did it again.
Romo took the ball in the gun at the Chicago 24 and rolled to his right (I guess he was getting bored with that spin move to his backside that leaves defensive ends hating their lives). He motioned for Cole to come back slightly and Cole indeed came back to the perfect spot to catch the pass right over Chris Conte’s head.
He turned, five yards still to go, and dove for the endzone (Conte hanging on again for dear life). 24 yard TD for Mr. Beasley.
DeMarco Murray Finishes the Seahawks (Week 6)
After the Terrance Williams hoopla (spoiler alert: you’ll read about that later), the Cowboys were in prime position all the way up in Seattle.
While down 23-20, they had the ball at the Seattle 15 on 2nd and 4 with just under four minutes to go. They had all the momentum. They had the confidence. They had the belief. And they had DeMarco Murray.
Even though Right Tackle Doug Free had been injured on the previous play, DeMarco barreled his way through the Seahawk's defense behind his all-pro offensive line all the way in for the go ahead touchdown… with Richard Sherman hanging on for the ride.
Bruce Carter’s Pick-Six Completes the 21-Point Comeback in St. Louis (Week 3)
It was ugly.
After a pick-six by Janoris Jenkins, the Cowboys found themselves in a 21-0 hole… to the St. Louis Rams. Seriously. The 2014 Cowboys were a different breed though, and they proved it by scratching and clawing their way back into the game. Down 20-24 late in the fourth, Romo hit Terrance Williams for the go ahead TD.
Austin Davis, the fresh new Rams QB, had a chance. With six minutes to go and down only three he could lead this team to victory and the story about the Rams blowing a 21-point lead would never be written. Instead, as Austin Davis’ usually do, on the first play he threw right into the arms of Bruce Carter, who scampered in and put the exclamation point on the game.
Davis rallied a little and closed the gap to 34-31, but he couldn’t climb out of the hole that Bruce Carter put him in. This was a turning point for the Cowboys as it gave them the confidence that propelled them to the success that they ultimately enjoyed.
Tony Romo Evades Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt and Hits Terrance Williams for a TD (Week 5)
JJ Watt beat Tyron Smith. I’ll be the first to say it. He straight up beat him.
What many consider - let’s be honest, not many but all - the best defensive player of the last five years had a free shot at Tony Romo’s back.
Yes, that back...
With the Cowboys trailing their in-state rivals 7-3 with about six minutes to go in the third quarter, Romo was all JJ’s. Until the spin happened.
Yes, THAT spin.
The patented Romo back left spin that we’ve all come to know and love went into effect right then and there. JJ gave Lennay Kekua a big ‘ol bear hug while Romo set his feet and delivered a 43 yard TD to this generation’s Alvin Harper.
Tony Romo Evades Bruce Irvin on 3rd and 20, Hits Terrance Williams for the First Down (Week 6)
With approximately five minutes to go at Century Link, the Cowboys were trailing the Seahawks 23-20. With the ball at their own 31, the Cowboys ran DeMarco Murray on first down, only to have Travis Frederick get called for holding.
A wash, rinse, repeat, DeMarco run on 1st and 20 yielded zero yards.
Romo threw incomplete for Dez Bryant on 2nd down. On 3rd and 20 Romo dropped back, sensed Bruce Irvin coming for him on his blind side, spun to his right, successfully evading Irvin, climbed the pocket, pointed 22 yards downfield, and with Bruce Irvin on the ground flailing at his ankles Tony Romo threw a beautiful pass to #83.
As if that wasn’t enough beauty, Terrance toe-tapped his way in-bounds with about 10 feet to spare. Pete Carroll and his Seahawks staff challenged the play to no avail, and the Cowboys marched downfield and completed what some would call the biggest upset of the 2014 NFL season.
The Dallas Cowboys #FinishtheFight against the Detroit Lions on Wild Card Weekend
Detroit Lions with the lead.
2:39 left in the ballgame.
3rd and Goal from the Detroit eight yard line.
The hopes and dreams of millions hang in the balance.
Tony Romo, Mr. One Playoff Win, takes the snap from the gun.
He looks right - Cole Beasley is covered.
He looks left - both Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray are covered.
Briefly looks right again - Beasley still covered.
He tap dances to his right as Tyron Smith makes the block.
He steps up in the pocket.
He steps into the throw.
Detroit’s Ezekiel Ansah takes him out at his hips.
The ball travels for what feels like forever, right into the arms of Terrance Williams.
While there are many plays that were notable and exciting throughout the 2014 season, these are the ten that I feel most defined our season. Without each of these 10 plays the Cowboys don’t achieve the success that they did in 2014.
Here’s hoping that next year’s list ends with a knee in victory formation in San Francisco.
DL Christian Covington Could Be Rod Marinelli’s Next Great Find
Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has earned the reputation for finding and developing lesser-known defensive linemen over the years, and turning them into productive players for his defense.
It seems like every year the Cowboys have at least one defensive tackle who entered the season with no-to-limited hype, and finished it as a hard-nosed, productive player in the middle of their defensive line rotation.
Christian Covington could very well be that guy in 2019.
The former Houston Texan has had an interesting NFL career thus far. Overall, his raw numbers are decent on paper, appearing in 50 games over four seasons and tallying up 7.5 sacks and 65 tackles. Not bad for a rotational defensive lineman, to be sure.
As a Texan, Covington was mostly asked to play out of position, however. In their 3-4 scheme Covington played as the defensive end, whereas he'll be a 3-technique lining up over the guard in the Cowboys system. This should suit Covington much better, allowing him to be more comfortable in his position and hopefully produce at a higher clip.
Christian Covington is expected to be heavily involved in a defensive tackle rotation which is becoming quite crowded due to the Cowboys' busy offseason. Not only did Dallas draft UCF tackle Trysten Hill in the second round of the draft, but they are also bringing back the likes of Maliek Collins, Tyrone Crawford, and Antwaun Woods just to name a few.
Still, Covington should be able to compete for (and win) significant playing time by the middle of the season if all goes according to plan.
Covington is a solid interior pass rusher that can push the middle of the pocket and make quarterbacks uncomfortable. He has experience occupying blocks on the inside to free up elite edge rushers in Houston, which is exactly what he'll be doing for the likes of DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn in Dallas this season.
Don't be surprised if he does more than simply "occupying" blocks, though, and steals some sack production for himself this upcoming season.
Everything You Need to Know About Cowboys Madden 20 Ratings
Madden 20 is scheduled to release in August and the moment has arrived for both fans and players to be excited or outraged about this year's ratings. Madden ratings are constantly updated once released, but it's always fun to overreact when the launch ratings are announced. Even the "Madden 99 Club" has become an exciting social media dynamic with players being announced one by one.
Today, we'll dive into everything you need to know about the Dallas Cowboys' Madden 20 ratings!
The Second Best Team
It may come as a surprise that the Dallas Cowboys own the second highest overall in this year's game. With 86 on both offense and defense, America's Team ultimately amounts to an overall rating of 88. Second only to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys' ratings in the upcoming EA game should have fans excited to play.
While it is surprising to see Dallas over the current NFC champions, the L.A. Rams, or the the New England Patriots, the rating makes sense.
The Cowboys are very talented (Brandt actually named them the second most talented team in the NFL) and are loaded in the trenches. Offensive linemen Tyron Smith (94 OVR), Zack Martin (96 OVR) and Travis Frederick (94 OVR) really boost the team's overall rating. Not to mention a talented defense, specially at LB and DE.
Top 5 Cowboys in Madden 20
Only five Dallas Cowboys got a 90+ rating in this year's edition of Madden.
RG Zack Martin - 96 Overall
I cannot disagree with Martin being the highest-graded player on the Cowboys. This guy might be the best OL on the team and he hasn't missed serious time throughout his career. He's been the best right guard since arriving to the NFL in 2014 and hasn't showed any signs of slowing down.
Martin is the second best offensive lineman in the game (Packers LT David Bakhtiari is 97) and the best guard.
C Travis Frederick - 94 Overall
The Cowboys' center will be back on the field after missing the 2018 season and EA holds him at the top of his game. Although there is uncertainty about his health in real life, it doesn't affect his numbers on Madden. Frederick definitely deserves to be tied with Eagles' Jason Kelce for the throne among centers.
LT Tyron Smith - 94 Overall
Smith's injuries have cost him the title for best LT in football, but when healthy, #77 still dominates on the field. Hopefully, the Cowboys are able to get him for 16 games this season. After missing time in three consecutive seasons, Smith has something to prove this year.
RB Ezekiel Elliott - 94 Overall
Lucky for you and me, we don't have to worry about any potential holdouts in Madden (that'd be an interesting yet annoying feature). Ezekiel Elliott is the second best RB in the game (Gurley is #1), which seems fair to me. With a 94 overall rating, my only complaint would be Zeke's elusiveness being a mere 85.
CB Byron Jones - 91 Overall
Coming in to finish off the Cowboys' Top 5 is your second-team All-Pro CB Byron Jones! After a breakout year in 2018, it's nice to see Madden give him credit. We don't know if he'll stick around in Dallas for long, but when you play franchise mode, it'll be up to you.
DeMarcus Lawrence Got a What, Now?
You probably noticed a name missing in the Cowboys "90+ Club," didn't you?
Somehow, someway, EA Sports decided DeMarcus Lawrence was only worthy of an 89 overall rating. To which I say, and I'm sure Cowboys Nation echoes me: that's ridiculous!
I'll go ahead and list the pass rushers that are ranked above Lawrence:
- Aaron Donald - 99 OVR (Fair, he's the best defensive player in the game)
- Khalil Mack - 99 OVR (Fair)
- Von Miller - 97 OVR (Fair)
- J.J. Watt - 97 OVR (I can live with it, he did have an All-Pro season and 16 sacks)
- Calais Campbell - 92 OVR
- Jadeveon Clowney - 92 OVR
- Myles Garrett - 91 OVR
- Cameron Jordan - 91 OVR
- Brandon Graham - 89 OVR (Tied with D-Law)
Man, I think the folks over at EA Sports are hugely underrating Lawrence. He might be the best EDGE rusher against the run and is among the best in the NFL rushing the passer. I get why he's not in the top 4, but he should be somewhere between Myles Garrett and Calais Campbell without a doubt.
Oh, by the way, DeMarcus Lawrence is asking Cowboys Nation to start a "Madden Strike."
HOLD UP @EAMaddenNFL you not just going to disrespeck me like that with an 89 and get away with it....PUT. SOME. RESPECK. ON. https://t.co/ndDkGvo7gx. UNTIL THEN COWBOYS NATION IS ON MADDEN STRIKE! RT @dallascowboys Nation show em we ain't playin bih. https://t.co/okVXyooI3l
I love you as much as the next fan, Lawrence, but I'm getting the game. My bad. I'm sure it won't be long before they upgrade your stats.
A Few More Notes...
Dak Prescott got an 81 OVR rating: I won't complain about this one. It sounds low, but looking at the QBs listed above him, it makes sense. Mayfield, who has an 83, might be the one guy I'd like to see below Dak. He has a lot of potential, but we've seen more from Prescott so far.
Jason Witten's 83 rating seems high: #82 is the reason I fell in love with football, but I'll question this rating. Witten is 37-years old and is coming back from retirement. He was slow when he stepped back, who knows how he'll do now. But I love the idea of playing with him once more.
Michael Gallup is being slept on: I understand Gallup's 78 OVR rating. I really do. He didn't play that much on the first half of the season but improved on a weekly basis. I believe that his rating will change quickly with Gallup poised for a breakout year.
Antwaun Woods' rating is way too low: Woods should have a higher rating than 73. Although he is a DT and his stats don't jump out of the page, he proved to be a great one-tech for the Cowboys and made impact plays constantly when on the field. But hey, at least he's not complaining.
Honestly I'm just happy to be on Madden. A video game I've been playing my whole life. @EAMaddenNFL #Thankful
Cowboys LB are strong: Leighton Vander Esch (86 OVR), Jaylon Smith (85 OVR) and Sean Lee (84 OVR) all got a strong, well-deserved rating. These guys will be fun to watch on the field on Sundays and on your gaming console on a daily basis.
Amari Cooper's rating is spot on: Many have complained about Cooper having a 89 OVR, but I believe they nailed it. As much as we love Amari, he isn't in the top tier of NFL wide receivers. Let Hopkins, Beckham, Brown, Jones be on the 90s. 89 feels just right for Amari.
At the end of the day, these ratings are all subject to change. And with so many ups and downs in an NFL season, you better believe they will change. In the meantime, we can only wait. The game we annually wait so much for is just around the corner!
Cowboys Nation Mailbag: Tank’s Madden Rating, Rookies on the Roster?
Probably one of my favorite things about this time of the year is attempting to figure out which rookies from the most recent draft class will have the opportunity to make a statement during their first season in the NFL. As an NFL franchise, you hope that several, if not all of your draft picks are able to make your opening week 53-man roster and make significant impacts during the regular season.
With the way the Dallas Cowboys have drafted in the last four or five years, we've grown accustomed to first-year players showing out in their rookie seasons. This time of year creates all kinds of speculation toward that end.
The downside to this time of year is that there isn't a ton to talk about. Most of what is going on is speculation into how the team will look when they take the field week one.
It's that time of the NFL year when there's not a whole lot going on and EA Sports drops their Madden ratings out for the world to peruse and criticize. Like every year, there are always ratings that make you go, "huh?" and this year is no different.
Tank is 89 rating on Madden, how? 😳 pic.twitter.com/NoGNXDvM3E
— mike crum (@cdpiglet) July 15, 2019
The fact that DeMarcus Lawrences is rated only an 89 on Madden 20 is just further evidence to how underappreciated he is around the NFL and those who follow the NFL. Even in the Dallas Cowboys fanbase, Lawrence isn't considered to be the same level of player that Khalil Mack or Von Miller is, but if you look at the totality of the numbers, you find that Tank's been every bit as productive and disruptive as those guys have been.
As you can see from the chart above, in fewer snaps, DeMarcus Lawrence had a greater playmaking EPA over the course of the 2018 season than Khalil Mack and Von Miller. Aaron Donald had a higher playmaking EPA and should be rated higher than Lawrence, but I have a really hard time with Lawrence being rated anything less than a 95.
Though he may not have had as many sacks as Mack or either of the Watt brothers, Lawrence finished tied for fourth among edge rushers in Pro Football Focus' "stops" metric, which is defined as a play that results in a loss for the defense. Could be a tackle for a loss, a tackle that didn't achieve the expected yards for the down and distance, a sack, a batted pass, an interception, a tackle that forced a fourth down.
Lawrence is one of those players that does everything really, really well. He's one of the most well-rounded players on the defensive side of the football as he doesn't lack in his ability to play the run or rush the passer.
His ability to disrupt the run and pass game at an equally elite level goes beyond what you see in a boxscore. Oh, and his boxscore is really really good too. Though many Cowboys' fans were unsure if Lawrence was worth the $21 million per year and $60 million guaranteed that he received this offseason, I've never wavered in my belief that you should feel comfortable paying DeMarcus Lawrence like an elite edge player, because he's an elite edge player.
Do you have any rookies besides Hill and McGovern making the team?
— Carbon Fiber Supplement ✭ (@mikecarbon22) July 8, 2019
Mike followed up this question by also including Tony Pollard, so I won't touch on that one much except to say that I'm really excited to see what Pollard could do with 5-10 touches per game behind this offensive line. He's such an explosive player with the ball in his hands that you want to work to get the ball in his hands.
So, besides Trysten Hill, Connor McGovern, and Tony Pollard, which rookies do I see making the team in 2019? Well in my most recent 53-man roster projection, I included Mike Jackson, the cornerback out of Miami who the Dallas Cowboys selected in the fifth round as well as Donovan Wilson, the Texas A&M safety, their sixth-round draft pick.
I think both of those players will have an excellent shot to make the roster out of training camp and Wilson, in particular, could find himself with a significant role with the defense if he's able to translate his collegiate playmaking ability to the NFL. He was an excellent tackler and ball-hawking safety and if there's one thing that was evident in 2018, the team needs better tackling from its other safety not named Xavier Woods.
It's going to be very difficult for any of the rookie defensive linemen or wide receivers to make the roster out of training camp because there is already tremendous depth there.
Training camp generally leads to the hype machines getting out of control for undrafted free agent wide receivers and this year will be no different with playmakers Jalen Guyton and Jon'vea Johnson ready to shine. The difficulty is that they'll have to be significantly better than veterans Tavon Austin, Allen Hurns, and Noah Brown to force the team to move on from players they covet and trust.
It's possible, it's just not very likely.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Training camp is now less than two weeks away and as it draws closer, the excitement of Cowboys Nation will begin to boil over. This is a squad that has the talent and depth to be a contender. We're finally getting closer to being able to see that talent on the field instead of just talking about it.
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