The Dallas Cowboys, our Cowboys, were indeed victorious on Sunday in San Francisco... outlasting the 49ers 24-17. This is a huge win as it moves Dallas to 3-1 on the 2016 season, a mark the Cowboys haven't reached since 2014 when they had a great amount of success.
There's a lot to be taken from this game, and that's what we're here to do. Here are my 10 Takeaways From The Cowboys Big Win In San Francisco.
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Jason Garrett Is Doing An Incredible Job
The Cowboys are 3-1. They have played all four of those games without Tony Romo and DeMarcus Lawrence. They have played two of them without Tyron Smith and Orlando Scandrick. They have played one and a half-ish of them without Dez Bryant and La'el Collins. To reiterate... The Cowboys are 3-1.
The Cowboys Coaching Staff deserves an enormous amount of credit for handling these uncontrollable variables that have stacked themselves on top of one another. Bravo, Coach Garrett. Bravo.
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Ezekiel Elliott Eats Yards, Not Food
In today's NFL you're expected to contribute immediately, particularly at the sexy positions like quarterback, running back, and all that jazz. When you're taken as high as #4 Overall like Ezekiel Elliott was... that expectation is exponentially higher.
Remember that young Zeke is 21 years old. Now think about the 138 yards that he accumulated on the ground in San Francisco. Or think about how he, with 412 through four games, is currently the NFL's leading rusher. 21. Years. Old. Insane.
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Morris Claiborne Is Starting To Reach His Potential
The Cowboys best cornerback for the last two years has inarguably been Morris Claiborne. Even with the return of Orlando Scandrick this season (which hasn't exactly gone swimmingly), Mo is el numero uno.
DBs w/ lowest burn % Claiborne 38% Trufant 38 Bradberry 41 J.McCourty 41 Nelson 41 C.Harris 44 Newman 44 Norman 47 Sean Smith 47 Porter 48
There's no denying that Mo's interception in San Fran saved the game (and Brice Butler, but we'll get to that soon), but it honestly didn't improve his impressive game much. It was a poorly thrown pass that Mo capitalized on. Where Mo dominated the game was on every other play, effectively eliminating Torrey Smith (1 catch for 3 yards). He is our shutdown corner. He is starting to arrive. It's a beautiful thing.
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Dak Prescott Is Indeed For Real
Name something that you have done a hundred times without making a mistake. Go ahead, I'll wait.
Dak Prescott has thrown 131 passes (his first 131 as a professional quarterback) in the NFL and has seen not a single one of them land in the hands of the opposing team - that's an NFL record for most attempts by a rookie to start their career.
Dak Prescott hasn't necessarily been a fantasy football superstar, but through four games he's been marvelous. The word that keeps coming to mind, because it makes the most sense, is poise. Dak has been so incredibly poised. When his team went down 14, on the road, he didn't blink and did the work to get the job done. The future is in good hands.
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We Can Predict When Alfred Morris Will Be Used
Al Michaels said during Week 3's Sunday Night Football contest against the Bears that the Cowboys wanted to do what they could in order to keep Zeke somewhat fresh and energized throughout the game. The days of a true "bellcow" running back in the NFL feel like a distant memory.
Michaels said that the Cowboys want to substitute Alfred Morris in every third series for Zeke to catch some time on ice. Like clockwork, we saw Alfred Morris come in on the third series. It is an incredible luxury to have two starting-caliber running backs in the NFL, and using them in this fashion has resulted in a 3-1 record so we need to roll with it for now, and keep an eye out for it.
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Brice Butler Made A Horrible Mental Mistake
With about 12 minutes left in the game, and the Cowboys hanging on to a 21-17 lead, Dak Prescott hit Brice Butler for a 9-yard gain on 1st and 10. Awesome, right? The Cowboys were looking to drive to score and milk some time off the clock. Getting off to that kind of start would undoubtedly aid in that regard... and then Brice Butler had a horrible lapse in judgment.
Butler, who is from the Bay Area, was really feeling it this game. He caught his first touchdown as a Cowboy in the first half and indisputably got the most work he's had since donning the iconic Star on his helmet. He let those emotions get the best of him and got caught for taunting a 49er... and suddenly 2nd and 1 became 2nd and 16.
Great win!!!! Almost cost it with a bad penalty and endzone drop.... learn from it and move on.... let's go!!
The Cowboys were unable to get a first down and gave the ball back to San Francisco (which Gabbert kindly gave back to Morris Claiborne). These are the mistakes that will lose you games. Be better, Brice. We believe in you.
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Dan Bailey's Health Is Critical To This Team
Shortly before kickoff word trickled out that Dan Bailey, 2015's most potent offensive weapon, was dealing with a back issue. Spaghetti-O's.
This "issue" flared up very painfully as the Cowboys' first offensive drive stalled and left Dan Bailey staring at a 47-yard field goal opportunity. This is normally money for Bailey, but he was very obviously hindered and it showed as he pushed the ball left.
Dan would make a 22-yarder later in the game that pushed the lead to seven, but this is very very very important for the Cowboys. I've said many a time that we almost take Bailey's clutch gene for granted and just assume that his excellence is common. Feel better, Danny boy.
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JJ Wilcox Isn't So Bad So Far This Season
Perhaps the most picked on Dallas Cowboy, JJ Wilcox, isn't the worst player on the current 53-Man Roster. Weird, isn't it?
Wilcox makes a living out of laying the wood on opposing ball-carriers, and every once in a while it results in a big play for the Cowboys. In Sunday's win, JJ made a great play in coverage that forced a 49ers punt late in the game. Whaaaaaat?!
Coverage? JJ Wilcox? Seriously? Yes, it really happened. We're all equally flabbergasted, but we should be grateful. Wilcox has been the butt of many jokes for a few seasons now, and if he's playing at this level the Cowboys can really start cooking with gas.
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Terrance Williams Is Very Valuable Depth
While we're on the subject of players we pick on... Terrance Williams, ladies and gentlemen!
T-Will failed to get out of bounds late in the first half and we were all stunned. I mean... again? For real? IT'S NOT A COMPLICATED CONCEPT WE ALL CAN DO IT IN MADDEN.
Nevertheless, Terrance had himself a nice game overall. 4 catches, 44 yards, and a touchdown were very much-needed in San Francisco... especially in the absence of Dez Bryant. Cowboys Nation has been quick on the trigger to cut or trade Terrance, but consider the facts here. He's a fourth-year receiver who provides a serious amount of depth, and he proved that on Sunday. Epic.
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These Three Wins Will Matter So Much In December
I'm an admitted Taylor Swift fan, so let me take you back to December for a second. The Cowboys were, with only FOUR wins, miraculously still in the hunt for the NFC East late in 2015. It's amazing when you really think about it.
Imagine if at that time we had one or two more of these easy wins under our belt. Things could have been a whole hell of a lot different... despite the Trio of Excellence that was Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore.
Now I won't lie to you, the NFC East is far improved this year. Four wins likely isn't going to have you in contention in December, but these wins are so important. In the NFL you have to win the winnable games and stack them together. The Cowboys, and every NFL team, will lose games they should win. It will happen. Accept it now.
What makes those losses matter less is stacking up these easy wins. This is how you build a division-winning, and potentially more, type of season. You get wins however you have to. These past three weeks will be enormous when push comes to shove, and thankfully we'll be the ones doing the pushing and shoving.
Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?
The Dallas Cowboys aren't short on numbers at wide receiver on their current 90-man roster. Looking to replace Dez Bryant and reshape their offense, the Cowboys will have to find the right group of pass catchers for Dak Prescott at their upcoming training camp.
The odd men out from this group will likely be the ones that can't sustain a consistent level of play, doing so across multiple units if needed. All ten receivers will have their flashes, but with only four being true locks to make the team, new Cowboys Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal will be in on some tough decisions right away.
One such decision may be moving on from last year's seventh round pick Noah Brown out of Ohio State. Vouched for by former Buckeyes teammate Ezekiel Elliott thanks to his blocking ability on the outside, it may now be this strength in the run game and deficiency as a pass catcher that spells the end of Brown's run in Dallas.
Normally, a seventh round pick being on the roster bubble wouldn't be this noteworthy, but Brown clearly showed the potential to outplay this draft status as a rookie. Appearing in 13 games, Brown is a true X receiver, although not the dominant one the Cowboys are searching for.
Moving away from fielding a true number one receiver, the Cowboys did sign Allen Hurns to play this spot while prepared to spread the ball around to Williams, Beasley, and Gallup after that.
This leaves Thompson, Wilson, Cannon, Lenoir, McCay, Murdock, and Brown to prove their worth in other ways to make the roster. I've written plenty about the potential rookie Cedrick Wilson has, so I'll be expecting a strong showing from him to earn a role in the Cowboys offense.
Wilson's skill set could push a depth signing like Deonte Thompson off the team, although his ability to back up Cole Beasley/Tavon Austin on special teams is important. The same can be said about Lance Lenoir, who like Brown has the advantage over first year players given his trials through training camp and the preseason a year ago.
Long shots to make the team, Cannon, McCay, and Murdock fall just below this group -- and somewhere in the middle is Noah Brown.
Increasing his role on special teams as the season went on last year, Brown had fans throughout a coaching staff that is now drastically changed for 2018. From their shift to more speed on offense, to drafting of both Gallup and Wilson, calling Brown a fringe player on the Cowboys roster really sets up the fiery competition to come at wide receiver.
Should the Cowboys find a spot for Brown, one can only hope it means this new coaching staff has a clear plan for him to contribute on both offense and special teams outside of being a run blocker. A potential niche for Brown is his red zone ability, not afraid to put his body on the line for jump balls and fight through contact in his routes.
It won't be long until we sort out if this is enough to make the Cowboys as a wide receiver ahead of Quarterback Dak Prescott's third season.
Cowboys CB Marquez White Facing Assault Charges
Player news this time of year is often not the good kind, and such is true of a new development with Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Marquez White. The second-year CB is facing aggravated assault charges for an incident last October.
According to the report, White displayed a legally owned firearm during a "road rage" incident.
Marquez, a sixth-round pick of the Cowboys last season, has made his side of the story public. The following account was released by White to The Dothan Eagle, his hometown newspaper:
Naturally, we're in a wait-and-see situation as to how this case unfolds and impacts White's availability to the Cowboys in 2018. He is one of several players hoping to catch on at the bottom of the CB depth chart, having spent his rookie season on the practice squad.
This latest legal issue is especially unwelcome news after other Cowboys' recent problems. The team has seen David Irving get suspended four games for illegal substances and Terrance Williams' get arrested for public intoxication in the last two months.
Last year, Linebacker Damien Wilson was charged for aggravated assault in a somewhat similar situation to that of Marquez White. Those charges were eventually dropped.
What happens in White's case remains to be seen.
Deadline for DeMarcus Lawrence Contract Extension Nearing
NFL teams have until July 16 to work out a long-term extension with any players currently under the franchise tag, which means the Dallas Cowboys have about a week to work something out with Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence. If deals are not signed and approved by the league by 4 P.M. ET July 16, the sides cannot agree to new contracts until after the 2018 season ends.
Along with the Lawrence, Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell, Detroit Lions DE Ziggy Ansah, and Los Angeles Rams S Lamarcus Joyner have franchise tags slapped on them. All of them would love the long-term security a contract extension would provide, but they are all going to have to wait and see what the upcoming week has in store for them.
So, what will the Dallas Cowboys decide to do with DeMarcus Lawrence? Can they come to terms on a long-term contract extension before the deadline on July 16?
Luckily for Lawrence, the Dallas Cowboys seem open about hearing what he believes his market value is. That doesn't mean he will get his asking price, but the talks have to begin somewhere.
Rumors are already circulating that Lawrence is seeking a five-year extension and wants to make more money than Danielle Hunter, who the Vikings just signed to a five-year $72 million contract. That's probably more money than the Cowboys have in mind at this time. They may prefer to wait and see if he can replicate what he accomplished in 2017.
Last season DeMarcus Lawrence turned into the "War Daddy" Owner Jerry Jones has been seeking for the defense. He accumulated a career-high 14.5 quarterback sacks and finally played an entire 16 game season. But, even that may not be worth the money he is rumored to be seeking right now.
Hunter's five-your $72 million contract extension is the going price right now for someone of Lawrence's caliber, but there are other players in line for a big payday as well. Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, and Jadeveon Clowney are all in the same boat as Lawrence. What kind of extensions they receive could change the going rate, which could cause some hesitance on the Cowboys part.
Fortunately, I kind of doubt DeMarcus Lawrence is going to complain much if he has to play the 2018 season under the franchise tag. He will make a little over $17 million for one year and has a chance to cash in big time if he can replicate what he did a season ago.
Would you sign DeMarcus Lawrence to an extension before the July 16 deadline?
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