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.
Jason Garrett Can’t be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?
One of the few positives most of us were looking forward to after the Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams was the fact that Scott Linehan would no longer be the offensive coordinator for America's Team. Everything was pointing to his dismissal, but that may not be the case according to Head Coach Jason Garrett.
Jason Garrett said on 105.3 The Fan that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will return in 2019. "We don't anticipate any significant changes on our staff," Garrett said.
I can't say that I was happy upon learning Jason Garrett plans on retaining Scott Linehan as the Cowboys OC in 2019. In fact, my first thought was… Well, something better left unsaid. I'm sure many of you can kind of read my mind, because I'm pretty positive you had all that the same thoughts running through your head as well.
In all honesty, I didn't think there was a snowball chance in hell Scott Linehan would return to Dallas after the conclusion of the 2018 season. After all, the Cowboys nearly fired him during the bye week earlier this season, meaning his job security was already on thin ice. He didn't do anything to improve things in my opinion.
I know Jason Garrett has said Scott Linehan will return as the OC in 2019, but not for a second do I believe it. We are less than 72 hours hours removed from the Cowboys exit from the playoffs and I highly doubt any of Dallas' decision-makers has had the time to sit down and discuss who stays and who goes. In fact, I know they haven't.
Stephen Jones says they won't comment on anything with coaching staff but that they need to take a deep look at why they fell short. Says it a little early to speculate about players or coaches. They haven't had a meeting about it yet.
I think once the Cowboys brass sits down and reevaluates the 2018 season, they will come to the conclusion they can do better than Scott Linehan as their offensive coordinator. There were just too many times throughout the season where the playcalling was a problem just. It's just time to move on, despite the vote of confidence by Jason Garrett.
Of course, this could just be me trying to read between the lines hoping and praying Scott Linehan is finally fired. Like many of you, I've grown way too tired of his predictable and dated playcalling. It's time to move on and find someone more innovative who can maximize the talent the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster, much like Kris Richard did with the defense.
You can either choose to believe Jason Garrett or not. I for one have a hard time seeing the Dallas Cowboys staying status quo with their coaching staff, especially their offensive coordinator. But, only time will tell.
Do you think it's time for the Dallas Cowboys to fire Scott Linehan?
Cowboys Rammed Out of Playoffs but 2019 is Bright
If you were to have clicked over to Sportsbook Review, you could have seen what all the premier online sportsbooks were dealing on the Cowboys/Rams game before kickoff. Sites like Bovada, which incidentally you can read a Bovada Review at Sportsbook Review as well, had the Rams favored in every quarter, in both halves, and installed LA as seven-point favorites over Dallas. As is often the case, the number was nearly spot on as the Rams bounced our 'Boys out of the postseason 30-22. It was a heart-wrenching loss for Dallas fans everywhere but for those who put their money where their mouths were, it was particularly painful in what turned out to be a one-point difference between losing and pushing.
Let’s look on the bright side, though. The Cowboys not only copped the division crown but the draft picks from April bore fruit this season. Linebacker and No. 19 overall pick Leighton Vander Esch is a certified stud while third-round pick Michael Gallup proved he is a bona fide NFL receiver. Second-round offensive lineman Connor Williams had difficulties at left guard, but at the very least, has a season under his belt at the next level and could turn into a legitimate bodyguard for Prescott in 2019.
And let’s not forget about the trade for Amari Cooper, which turned Dallas from a squad struggling to find its identity to an NFC East champ in winning seven of its last nine games since Cooper arrived. This year’s edition also bested a tough Seahawks team in the first-round of the playoffs.
Let’s face it, folks, no one expected the Cowboys to win a Super Bowl this season and what we got was about as much as we could have hoped with the current roster as it is presently constructed.
Dak Prescott has one more year on his rookie contract and will be looking to score a big payday at the end of next season, if not sooner. The Cowboys could enter negotiations and lock Prescott up for the foreseeable future, but it might be best for both parties to see what 2019 brings and go from there. Either way, Dallas will pay beaucoup bucks to keep Prescott in a Cowboys uniform so watching and waiting will most likely be the tact management takes with their star quarterback, with a franchise tag in 2020 as an option as well.
In the team’s immediate future will be signing their second-round pick in 2014, DeMarcus Lawrence. The talented defensive end provided the Cowboys with the edge rusher they needed for parts of this season and his combined 25 sacks over the last two seasons would be nearly impossible to replace. Dallas franchised him this season but will most likely put together a long-term deal for Lawrence in the offseason.
Ezekiel Elliott has also reportedly been hinting at his own contract extension even though he is contractually committed to the Cowboys for next season with a team option in '20.
Ironically, one of the strengths of the Dallas Cowboys in recent years was a relatively weak link this season. The offensive line was decimated by injuries and Pro Bowler Travis Frederick missed the entire season. But those wounds will heal for next season and the old gang will be back together again.
The Cowboys have loads of cap space but are without a first-round pick due to the trade for Amari Cooper. Nevertheless, the young blood on the team looks poised to contribute for many years and there will be money available to woo free agents to a club now viewed as a legitimate contender.
If you want to look at next season’s odds, make sure to educate yourself on which online sportsbooks are the most reputable, trusted, and reliable. Read the Bovada Review over at SBR and see what customers are saying about one of the industry’s top sportsbooks. Then, when the lines come out on next season’s division, conference, and Super Bowl winners, you can be informed and maybe throw a few bucks on the 'Boys from Dallas!
Cowboys’ Window Depends On Maximizing, And Helping, Dak Prescott
Saturday night's Division Round loss was met with mixed reaction among Cowboys Nation.
Some fans, claiming they are the rational ones who hold the Cowboys to a higher standard, believe this might end up being their best chance at a Super Bowl for some time. The young players this roster is built around will only get older and more expensive as the years go by, and 2018 ends with yet another Jason Garrett-led playoff loss.
Other fans, claiming they are the rational ones, said that Dallas accomplished a lot this season, climbing back from a 3-5 start to win the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a competitive game to one of the league's best. This group believes that the Cowboys championship window is as open as it has been in years, with young talent galore on Dallas' roster.
Whether this is true, however, hinges on the shoulders of two individuals. One of which, ironically, hasn't even been named yet and the other a source of constant debate among those same segmented fans.
Those people, of course, are quarterback Dak Prescott and whoever ends up as the offensive coordinator in 2019.
Dak Prescott is a good quarterback.
Let's start there. I firmly believe that Dak Prescott did enough during his third season to earn the contract extension he will likely receive from the Cowboys within one of the next two offseasons. Especially once the Cowboys acquired wide receiver Amari Cooper.
Clearly, Prescott is far from "perfect" is a passer. He makes mistakes in decision making, he sails some throws, and he sometimes exhibits inconsistent footwork when the pocket breaks down. But we focus too much on his mistakes while simply glossing over his accomplishments, talents, and upside.
Not only is Dak Prescott someone that the team responds to and believes in, but he is also a good football player. Prescott finished the 2018 season 12th in total Expected Points Added, ahead of quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Baker Mayfield. He's also finished 3rd and 4th in raw QBR during his first two seasons in the NFL respectively. And, despite his slow start to 2018, Dak Prescott ended his third season on the best run of games in terms of QBR he has ever had.
Prescott is improving, and this is evident each week. He played more comfortably in the pocket over the last 6 games of the season, panicking less, taking fewer dumb sacks, and abandoning his technique fewer and fewer. And, while he doesn't run as often as many would like, the times Prescott does carry the ball often change drives and games.
And while I despise "QB Wins" as a determining statistic, the fact remains that bad quarterbacks don't win at the rate Dak Prescott does. Three straight winning seasons has been rare in Dallas over the last 15 years, and Prescott orchestrated this his first three seasons as a starter.
Passing Wins Championships.
Though very different than the old cliche, this appears more accurate by the season. The final four teams remaining in the NFL are each top 5 in passing DVOA, while not a single one has a top 10 defense by DVOA.
Neither the Chiefs nor the Rams have had a good run defense at all this season, but stopping the run doesn't matter as much as stopping the pass most weeks in today's NFL. I know this sounds absurd after the Cowboys run defense got abused by Los Angeles, but the numbers often bear this out.
The Cowboys have to do everything in their power to aid Dak Prescott and the passing offense this offseason. They need to draft another pass catcher, preferably with their second round pick. They need to continue to improve the chemistry between Prescott, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.
And, maybe most importantly, they need to hire an offensive coordinator who can maximize this passing game.
Scott Linehan simply is not the answer. And if the Cowboys are going to make the most out of whatever title window they may have, the offensive play caller will be the most critical man in the building going forward.
Unfortunately, latest reports point to Linehan returning in 2019.
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