Unless you've been living under a rock, don't have social media, or don't follow professional sports, you should probably know that football is back. That is so refreshing to say.
From a soul crushing loss to Green Bay in the playoffs to hitting a home run in the NFL Draft, and all the drama that has surrounded the team in the past few months, we have finally arrived at Oxnard, California for your 2017 Dallas Cowboys training camp.
Here are my first 10 thoughts after the first padded practice of training camp.
- Initially, I thought that Jaylon Smith wasn't going to do much of anything to start camp, but boy was I wrong. Jaylon Smith looked very fluid and explosive doing drills in his first real practice with the Cowboys. In his first time playing real football in 572 days, Smith blew me away on the field. With no real limitations that I could see, the arrow is only pointing up for Jaylon.
- The Cowboys have had bad luck in the past with injuries happening early in camp. That wasn't the case yesterday. Charles Tapper and Maliek Collins gave us all quite the scare when both ended up in the trainer's tent before the end of practice. It was later noted that Collins was dealing with a hip flexor and Tapper was just dealing with cramps. So far so good, from an injury standpoint.
- Brice Butler is not going to give his job away to anyone from what I've seen so far. Butler looks like a different player from what we saw last season. You can tell he is focused more on route running and snatching the ball with his hands. A lot of people had Butler not making the final roster, but I assure you he'll be on it come September 10th.
- Chidobe Awuzie made a great play against Brice Butler in one-on-ones. Awuzie was right on Butler's hip on a quick slant route across the middle and broke up the pass, tipped it up in the air and intercepted it for what would have been a touchdown. The rookie corner is already making plays and we're only a day into camp.
- Just two days after getting a two-year contract extension, La'el Collins looked very solid at right tackle. Collins had little to no trouble blocking first round pick Taco Charlton in one-on-ones and in team work. Collins plays so violently, almost to a fault, but man does he look good doing it.
- I really hope Mark Nzeocha can find a way to stay healthy. Nzeocha has the ideal size, speed, and length to be able to cover the ground game, shed blockers, and even does a decent job in coverage for his size. His ability to play all three linebacker spots makes him extra intriguing going into game days.
- It's unfortunate that Damien Wilson got himself into the situation he found himself in on July 4th weekend. Wilson looked explosive in practice yesterday when shooting gaps and doing all the drills. Wilson would be a starting linebacker for the team this year and an important part of the Cowboys defense. Let's hope some new information comes out involving his July 4th incident.
- It looked like Chaz Green struggled a bit at left guard early on in practice. Maliek Collins was giving him fits with his first step and power off the ball. Green's last resort was to give Collins the desperation one arm choke hold on multiple occasions to keep Maliek Collins from getting to the quarterback.
- The old theory is rookie defensive ends struggle early on, that rings true for Taco Charlton. Charlton didn't have his best day yesterday against either La'el Collins and Tyron Smith. Charlton's frustration came out when he ended his last rep of practice in a scuffle with UDFA Dan Skipper. Charlton has to learn to use his long arms to keep the tackle's hands off of him, because right now he isn't strong enough or quick enough to shake them once they do.
- Last but not least we have Dak Prescott. Prescott looked very good in his first practice of his sophomore campaign. We heard a lot last year how Prescott wasn't a very strong practice player. A lot of people called him a gamer, but that wasn't the case for Dak yesterday. Prescott made multiple tight window throws across the middle to his left and his right. Prescott even showed off his legs running the read-option a few times really fooling the defense. A great start to the season for a guy many are hoping will fail.
These are just my thoughts on a few players after the first padded practice and I'm sure I'll have a lot more for you the deeper we get into camp. For now the young players in the secondary are really looking good, and they could make or break this defense while trying to repeat as NFC East Champions and make a run at the Super Bowl.
What players are you most excited to see blossom in training camp?
Urban Meyer Says He’d “Absolutely” Take Cowboys’ Head Coaching Job
Typically, when a coach is asked about a potential future coaching job that is currently occupied, he'd never openly admit to eyeing that position. He'd dodge the question, lie, and say he's enjoying his time away from the game at the moment.
Former college coach Urban Meyer, however, was extremely clear in how he feels about the potential opening at head coach in Dallas with the Cowboys.
Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd asked Urban Meyer outright if he would take the job if offered, and Meyer made no mistake about it.
While it feels to me like Meyer is breaking some sort of unspoken code between coaches with these comments, it wouldn't be the first time he operated in shady waters.
But I digress.
Of course, Urban Meyer had incredible success at the collegiate level. He won multiple national championships and did a lot of winning at multiple programs. In addition, he was the college coach of Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott, who the team just extended with a monster contract. Meyer also won with quarterbacks who can utilize similar skill-sets to Cowboys starter Dak Prescott, something Jerry Jones and company would want to see in any potential head coaching candidate.
With all that being said, though, it's important to mention the Cowboys head coaching job is not open. At least not yet.
Jason Garrett's contract expires at the end of this season, and unless he can make sure that he continues coaching this team through January, it's seeming increasingly likely that this will be his final contract with the team.
Garrett's Cowboys face their biggest test of the season on Sunday night, with the Philadelphia Eagles coming to Arlington and looking to take first place from their grasps.
This will be the first step of many that Garrett will need to take if he wants to keep the Urban Meyers of the world from coming for his job.
QB Dak Prescott Confident Cowboys Can Right The Ship Sunday
Dak Prescott is a warrior.
The Cowboys starting quarterback has spent his entire NFL career proving doubters wrong. From fourth round compensatory pick to Pro Bowl quarterback and the leader of America's Team, Prescott has come a long way in just four years. And he hasn't gotten here by giving up nor giving in.
This week, to put it lightly, Prescott's Cowboys are in a tough spot. Having lost three straight games the Cowboys have fallen back to earth quickly, and now sit tied for first place in their division with this week's opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles. They're also only a game up of the 2-4 New York Giants, who are favored at home against the Cardinals this very Sunday.
Dallas has to have this one at home. And despite the team's recent struggles, Dak Prescott remains confident that his bunch can get it done.
"We're right there," Prescott told the Dallas media Thursday, "We’re a good team that hasn’t been getting it done."
Prescott certainly isn't incorrect in his evaluation. He and this offense were flying high the first three weeks, and although they've taken a step back in recent games they still sit 2nd in offensive DVOA this season.
They have gotten off to slow starts in each of their last two losses, however, scoring just 9 points over their last 4 first half quarters. This first half output is unacceptable, but Prescott remains confident that the Cowboys are going to get things right on Sunday.
The biggest factor holding the Cowboys back? According to Prescott, it's themselves. Dak also told the media that the offense just needs to "get out of our own way," referring to the penalties, sacks, and general mistakes this team has made in seemingly every key moment during this losing streak.
Luckily for Dak Prescott, he should be getting some reinforcements to protect him from the Eagles fearsome front. Both La'el Collins and Tryon Smith have been active at practice this week, and even wide receiver Amari Cooper remains optimistic despite not practicing yet since his quad injury.
It feels like Cooper will likely be out on Sunday, but increasing their help across the offensive line will be a massive boost for this offense.
Still, in the end, it's the Cowboys defense which needs to step up and play better than they have on Sunday. Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense have been strong in recent weeks, and they are looking to take over first place in the NFC East in primetime.
Cowboys en Español: El Verdadero Status de Jason Garrett
Estamos aquí de nuevo. Con los Dallas Cowboys y un récord de 3-3 después de seis semanas y tres derrotas consecutivas, el Head Coach Jason Garrett es la conversación principal entre aficionados de los Cowboys. Tras iniciar con el pie derecho esta temporada, las cosas han tomado un giro muy desafortunado para el equipo.
Desde que se convirtió en el head coach del equipo en 2010 (cuando se volvió el head coach coach "interino"), los Cowboys de Jason Garrett tienen un récord de 80-62 (56.3%) en temporada regular y un triste desempeño de 2-3 en postemporada. Tiene un premio de Coach del Año en 2016. No hay manera de negarlo... Algunas cosas han sido buenas durante la era de Garrett.
Sin embargo, no ha sido lo suficiente. Los Dallas Cowboys siguen buscando su ansiado regreso al NFC Championship Game y por supuesto, al Super Bowl. Año tras año, el equipo "se ha quedado corto." De todas las estadísticas que pueden definir lo que ha sido Jason Garrett en Dallas, mi favorita es la siguiente: En la era de Garrett, los Cowboys no han estado en los playoffs en años consecutivos. Insisto, buenos, pero no lo suficiente.
Este 2019, los Cowboys están en riesgo de perderse los playoffs esta temporada. Este domingo pelearán por el liderato de la división contra los Philadelphia Eagles en lo que debe de ser uno de los duelos del año. Ambos equipos tienen talento y han decepcionado tras sus primeros seis partidos. Los dos tienen una oportunidad de remediar sus defectos. A pesar de que empezaron con una marca de 3-0, Cowboys se encuentra en modo de pánico rumbo a la semana 7.
Tras perder contra los New York Jets - quienes no habían probado la victoria antes de enfrentar a Cowboys - la afición vaquera llegó a conclusiones a las que ya ha llegado anteriormente. "¡Jason Garrett se tiene que ir!" "Ahora si no terminará esta temporada en Dallas." Y más.
Pero, ¿en qué riesgo está realmente Jason Garrett? Los Cowboys han estado en situaciones similares antes, solo para mantener a Garrett a la cabeza del equipo. El año pasado, Dallas llegó a tener un récord de 3-5 antes de terminar la temporada con diez victorias y un pase a playoffs. Una y otra vez, la directiva ha confiado en Garrett.
Pero ahora la diferencia es fácil de identificar. Este año, los Cowboys tomaron una decisión a consciencia de no extender a su head coach. El simple hecho de estar bajo contrato de un año significa que está en el denominado "asiento caliente." No importa lo que los Jones digan en la radio. Las acciones dicen más. Si Jerry Jones dijera la verdad cuando dice que ni siquiera ha pensado en ello, Garrett tendría un contrato más amplio.
No hay que cuestionar la culpa que tiene Jason Garrett de la situación actual del equipo. La planeación de juego ha sido claramente un problema, con un plan ofensivo que cambió drásticamente tras las primeras tres semanas, renunciando a la agresividad y al play-action que tanto les había funcionado. El equipo una vez más ha demostrado no estar preparado para cada partido, iniciando lento en cada uno de ellos esta temporada. Y por supuesto, no han sido capaces de superar la ausencia de jugadores clave como Amari Cooper, Tyron Smith y La'el Collins. El coacheo ha sido incapaz de compensar la falta de estos jugadores.
De que hay un problema en la cabeza del equipo, la hay.
Pero en caso de que Jason Garrett fuera a ser despedido, ¿cuándo llegaría la noticia? Sería una sorpresa que ocurriera como muchos lo han sugerido: a media temporada tras una derrota ante Eagles. Por supuesto que aún no sabemos quien se llevará la victoria este domingo por la noche, pero asumamos lo peor por un momento.
Si bien caer a un récord de 3-4 sería difícil de superar, los Cowboys aún tendrían esperanza. Si la tuvieron hace un año con tres victorias y cinco derrotas, también la tendrían esta temporada. Más aún si consideramos que sus jugadores terminarán por sanar y regresar a la alineación. En tal caso, el talento será mucho como para quedarse sin victorias.
Mientras los Cowboys tengan vida esta temporada, muy probablemente Jason Garrett continuará con el control. A pesar de las frustraciones de muchos respecto al head coach de Dallas, no veo al equipo renunciando a Garrett a media temporada. Menos aún considerando que no hay una opción para reemplazarlo en seguida.
Y finalmente, aún queda otra alternativa. ¿Qué si los Cowboys terminan jugando en enero? Al final de cuentas, no es nada descabellado. Este equipo podría darle la vuelta a su temporada rápidamente y llevarse la división, incluso si no ganan contra Philadelphia. Pero digamos que terminan en playoffs, ¿cuánto es suficiente para que Jason Garrett se gane el derecho de quedarse al mando? Sin duda alguna, su trabajo esta en riesgo. Pero contar con que lo perderá si los Cowboys caen en la semana 7 parece prematuro.
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