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When football season ends we find ourselves in a "what do I do now?" sort of space. In mid-February football-hungry folks are resorting to getting stoked for some NFL Combine action while counting down the days until - and dreaming up all sorts of hypotheticals in regards to - NFL Free Agency starts.
It's a song-and-dance that we put into practice annually, and it's always accompanied by three simple words, "I miss football." The offseason is a ritual unlike any other that we partake in as a necessary stretch of time to fill the gaps between respective kickoffs. The funny thing about the offseason though, is that beyond the structures of it things have a way of repeating themselves.
The offseason is built for narratives. It's hot take season out there and the temperature is only climbing. This is the time of year where every NFL team thinks they're in contention, and Team A is only one piece away while Team B is completely rebuilding.
The stories stay the same, the lone line of change being the team logo that they bare. The same can be said of each individual team with its core nucleus of players, as storylines are regurgitated as the tradition rolls on.
These are those storylines, you know the ones I'm talking about. We're seven months away from the 2017 Dallas Cowboys season officially starting, and between now and then we're going to hear all of these ad nauseam. You can see them coming from a mile - or an offseason - away.
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"Jaylon Smith Is Feeling Better Than He Did Pre-Injury"
Despite the NFL Draft not taking place until late April, the Dallas Cowboys already have one of this season's most talented "rookies" on their roster - 2016's 34th Overall Pick, Jaylon Smith.
Cowboys Owner/President/General Manager - and recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee - Jerry Jones has always been one for the theatrics, but when it comes to Jaylon Smith he's always anxious to say something new. At some point this offseason we're going to hear all about how Jaylon has healed (which will be great), and how he's at an even higher level of athleticism than he was when he was hurt during the Fiesta Bowl back in January of 2016.
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"The Cowboys Have A Tougher Road In 2017 Than They Did In 2016"
Thanks to the NFL's rotating schedule, 14 of any given team's 16 opponents in a season are known from now until the end of time. This rotating wheel of wonder handed the 2016 Dallas Cowboys the NFC North, AFC North, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers, and of course their NFC East rivals.
2016 was a fourth-place schedule, which is what the Dallas Cowboys were in their division in 2015. This time around they've earned themselves a first-place schedule - you can view the 2017 Dallas Cowboys Opponents right here - that includes the NFC West, AFC West, Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, and division rivals.
As far as the calendar is concerned we've turned past Valentine's Day and we've already seen some talking heads from the national media succumb to this storyline. More will come. Save the chocolates for those dark days.
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"The Cowboys Could Explore The Read Option More In 2017"
For the first time in a decade the Cowboys are entering the offseason with total and complete plans for a starting quarterback that is not named Tony Romo - Dak Prescott. Young Dakota made a whole lot out of the situation that unfolded before him in 2016, but could Scott Linehan take a page out of Joseph Randle's playbook and go for some more meat off the bone?
Many people have called for the Dak-led Cowboys to utilize the read option more in their offensive play-calling. Prescott certainly has the athleticism to run the option, and his best pal running back Ezekiel Elliott is probably down for anything as long as he's wearing a football uniform.
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"Free Agent X Wants To Play With Dak And Zeke"
Thursday, March 9th will mark the beginning of Free Agency in the NFL, and it's going to be a day that requires us to set alerts for Adam Schefter's Twitter Timeline. There is no spectacle like football players looking for new places/teams to call home, and if you buy into the narrative then a lot of them could be looking at Dallas.
What narrative is that, exactly? You see, Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are pretty charming young players in today's NFL. They're the darlings of football, they play for the Dallas Cowboys, and they're two of the best players in the game. It's widely believed that other players - seeing this phenomenon - will gravitate towards them in hopes of calling Dak and Zeke teammates.
We've already seen projected number one overall pick Myles Garrett make a plea to join the Cowboys, and he even mentioned Dak by name. At some point or another, the same will be said about some arbitrary free agent
that the Cowboys can't afford.
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"The Cowboys Are Better Off Without (Insert Free Agent That Leaves)"
There are a few things true of a majority of football fans, sports fans in general really. We're loyal to our team, we always think we have a shot, and we always try to spin things in a positive direction.
The truth of the Free Agency era in the NFL is that you're going to lose someone you like in it. Someone is going to leave whether it's for more money, a better opportunity, or just because they're leaving. When this happens to the Dallas Cowboys with one of their current free agents this season, members of Cowboys Nation and narratives near and far will all talk about how we're suddenly better off without that player and his services.
Let's remember that, shall we?
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"The Lack Of Back Issues This Season Will Make Dan Bailey Even Better"
In the aftermath of the Cowboys Divisional Playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, a shocking detail about Dan Bailey's 2016 season came to light - he played, and kicked, since Week 4 with a herniated disc in his back.
Bailey finished 2016 27 of 32 on field goal attempts, still making him one of the top kickers in the National Football League. If we're being honest though, there was an obvious disconnect in his game and that piece of information solved that puzzle.
With an offseason to rest up and get the body right, it's easy to assume that Dan Bailey will be even more dynamite - Dan-o-mite? - this upcoming season. That assumption will be made near and far, but however far it is Dan could still make a field goal from there.
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"Jason Witten Is Focused On 2017 And Nothing More"
Earlier this week Jason Witten won an Ocho on a special Valentine's Edition of OchoLive. While I would understand if it was, I doubt that is going to be the peak of his offseason activities over the next few months.
No, perhaps Jason and the family will take a vacation and have a new experience. Whatever the case we know that "Gold Jacket Witt" is nearing the end of his playing time in the NFL, but he will definitely be back in action this upcoming season.
It really is insane that the clock is ticking so loudly on Jason Witten's career already, but he has remained focused that he is playing this season and unsure of anything beyond that. This idea will circle back quite a few times until September football begins. Witten will take the route of another Jason and handle things day by day.
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"Charles Tapper Looks Like A Star Pass Rusher In Workouts"
Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Maliek Collins, Anthony Brown, and the prospect of Jaylon Smith should be enough for folks to be happy with a draft class, but nope not Cowboys Nation. The people demand more and the people demand Charles Tapper!
Amazingly the Cowboys drafted two players in the first 101 picks of the 2016 NFL Draft on the defensive side of the ball that didn't see a lick of regular season action - Jaylon Smith and Charles Tapper. We know all about Jaylon Smith's progress thanks to all his Twitter videos, but what of Defensive End Charles Tapper?
The Cowboys need some serious rushmen if they're going to make it any further than the Divisional Round of the Playoffs and a man charged with some of that responsibility is indeed Tapper. At some point or another he's going to have a great workout and it'll send us all into a tizzy. Just steer into the ice, folks.
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"La'el Collins' Return Will Take The Cowboys Offense To A New Level"
Somebody who missed a majority of the 2016 Dallas Cowboys party was La'el Collins. The third-year Guard from LSU has had a really interesting career so far in the NFL, beginning with the unpredictable circumstances that affected his draft stock.
When La'el originally signed with the Cowboys three years ago he made it known that Dallas was assembling one of the greatest offensive lines this game has ever seen. His rookie campaign saw the type of player that would back that statement up across the course of his career, but an injury early in 2016 gave Ron Leary the chance to shine in La'el's spot.
Leary will very likely be on a new team in a month, leaving the Cowboys to "settle" for a healthy La'el Collins. He is essentially a first-round player on an offensive line that features three of them and that blocks for another in their running back. The possibilities make one foam at the mouth which is why it'll be all over the headlines.
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"We're In A New Era Of Dallas Cowboys Football"
There's a ton that has changed regarding America's Team over the last 365 days or so. A new rookie-of-the-year-winning franchise quarterback has arrived, the next great running back is here (and led the league in rushing), there is a Coach-of-the-Year-winning caliber man leading the organization, and Cowboys Owner/President/General Manager Jerry Jones is a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
These aren't your father's Dallas Cowboys, heck they're hardly your Dallas Cowboys. The most renowned organization in professional sports underwent a pretty serious makeover across the life of the 2016 season, and that included some changes with some serious ripple effects.
These will certainly always be the Dallas Cowboys, but they've indeed changed. They're better, smarter, wiser, faster, and carved by a Hall of Fame hand. A new era is upon us, and it's hard not to get lost in it.
Report: Jason Garrett “Not Going Anywhere” with Possible Extension Coming Soon
With his 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, Jason Garrett's Cowboys did more than enough to silence talks of possible firings on the coaching staff for at least a week. According to a report from Dallas Cowboys Feature Writer Jeff Sullivan, it's possible Garrett has earned much more than this, with an extension for the eighth year head coach looming.
@Markbristow22 Sounds like another extension could be signed soon he's not going anywhere.
The Cowboys have alternated wins and losses through the first six weeks of the season. Thanks to the rest of the NFC East getting off to an equally slow start, the 3-3 Cowboys are still playing for first place this week in Washington.
When considering these marginal victories in the grand scheme of what Garrett has achieved since taking over fully in 2011, the timing to extend him early in 2018 feels peculiar. The Cowboys went 8-8 in Garrett's first three years as he turned the roster over, and in similar fashion his young team has done little to prove they're not on track for a .500 record this year.
Sullivan does go on to explain Garrett's impact at The Star throughout the week, which is often forgotten about once he's in the public eye during game day. The Cowboys comfort with Garrett leading the way still has to be considered alongside the deficiencies of his staff to put players in the best position to win.
@Markbristow22 Six days a week top-3 coach in the league. Just struggles a bit on game days
As their last franchise quarterback said on his way out the door, "football is a meritocracy," where, "nothing is given".
It is widely accepted that the Cowboys coaching staff will be mainly responsible for at least one loss a season. Be it Scott Linehan or Garrett, the Cowboys chance at victory is snatched away from them by coaching annually.
Even with a win at the Redskins this week, it's hard to imagine not bringing up early season defeats in Carolina, Seattle, and Houston, as games the Cowboys missed out on.
The duality of Garrett punting away a chance to win at the Texans last week before leading his team to their largest win since 2014 is simply who he is. Even before the Cowboys took the field for a seemingly tough match up against the Jaguars, Jerry Jones delivered a vote of confidence in Garrett - as he's done before in an offense that finally capitalized on their talent, making 40 points come easy on the league's top defense.
Garrett's current contract runs through 2019. If you believe he's struck gold in Quarterback Dak Prescott, a young passer he hitched his wagon to early in order to survive the post-Romo era, the Cowboys would have a decision to make on both Garrett and Prescott at the same time.
Of course, that is if they're willing to let Prescott play out the final year of his rookie deal before signing an extension, and if an extension of his own isn't coming Garrett's way eminently.
This story has not gained traction with the rest of the local or national media, and that's likely because Garrett still has time in Dallas. Not only has he been afforded an amount of time that some would call unearned, but the time ahead of him makes the idea of a new extension obscene.
Regardless of when Garrett sits down to discuss his future with the Jones', it's become clearer by the day that he'll have their full support behind closed doors. Such is the stability Garrett provides the Cowboys, as well as the mediocrity to never advance past the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
The Cowboys have done nothing so far in 2018 to prove they can be the team that snaps this streak for Garrett, and must first prove that their 40-7 win over the Jaguars was no anomaly. Earning their first win on the road and improving to 2-0 in the NFC East is another way for the Cowboys to take strides towards winning the division.
The Redskins would drop to 0-1 with the loss, and the Eagles have managed just one divisional win against the Giants thus far.
Let's not forget that this is where the team expects to be every year. Even though the 4-3 Cowboys would face far fewer questions about the future for their coaches and tenured players, buying in to Garrett even more after each win, the week-to-week nature of the NFL should have Dallas weary of locking in Jason for a single game past next season.
Cowboys Defense Stands Out in Blowout Win over Jaguars
The Dallas Cowboys defense has found different ways to get the job done at different times during the 2018 season. They're a big reason the team is 3-3 and sits only a half game back of the first place Washington Redskins.
Even last week, I was critical of the defense for giving up a ton of yards and felt like they were very fortunate to only lose by three in overtime to the Houston Texans. They were amazing when the Texans got inside the five yard line forcing a turnover on downs on four first and goal attempts inside the five last week.
After giving up 462 total yards to Deshaun Watson and the Texans in week five, the Dallas Cowboys' defense only allowed 204 to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. They held Jacksonville to 4 of 11 on third downs. The Cowboys forced four three and outs during the game and only allowed three drives to cross midfield.
The Cowboys' defense was led by Leighton Vander Esch with 11 total tackles (7 solo) and Jaylon Smith with nine total tackles (6 solo) and a forced fumble. Jourdan Lewis made an excellent hustle play along the sideline late in the third quarter to recover that Smith fumble.
Byron Jones was excellent in coverage yet again on Sunday and if this were hockey, would get a primary assist for his pass deflection that led to the Jeff Heath interception in the third quarter. The Cowboys were able to turn both turnovers into field goals.
The Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive line blocked the Dallas Cowboys front seven pretty well and Quarterback Blake Bortles was really good at avoiding pressure. Bortles was only sacked three times during the game. Randy Gregory and Maliek Collins each had a sack, while Antwaun Woods and Tyrone Crawford combined for the other sack.
Though he didn't register a tackle or a sack on the stat sheet, it was awesome to see Defensive Lineman David Irving on the field for the first time since the middle of the season last year. He had an impact early in the game. Irving had a pressure on Blake Bortles and forced a hold on a punt in the first half of the game. His presence was definitely felt.
As a defense they held Jacksonville Jaguars Quarterback Blake Bortles to 149 yards passing and a 70.8 passer rating. Even as the Jaguars were down 20 points at halftime, they never could get much offense going in the second half. The Cowboys kept Bortles and the Jaguars passing game in check for most of the night, only allowing a touchdown when Anthony Brown fell down when he released his receiver to try to get to the intended target, Dede Westbrook. Westbrook went relatively untouched into the end zone for the Jaguars score of the day. That play aside, the Cowboys did a really good job limiting big plays against a receiving corp with a lot of speed.
Even with Bortles scrambling, the Cowboys were able to hold the Jaguars as a team to 3.6 yards per carry on the day. The Jaguars' T.J. Yeldon was able to come up with some decent runs, but the defense kept those positive gains from having much of an impact on the game.
The Dallas Cowboys' defense isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a unit that has played really good football for much of the 2018 season. On Sunday, the Cowboys did an excellent job getting off the field on third downs and forcing turnovers and other errors, which were created by the Cowboys pressure.
Everything seems to be coming together for Dallas with David Irving and Maliek Collins getting back into the lineup. If Sean Lee and Chidobe Awuzie are able to go for the Cowboys next week, this defense is going to make life extremely difficult for Alex Smith and the Washington Redskins next Sunday.
After allowing a ton of yards last week, the Cowboys defense rebounded with a dominant performance against a Jaguars team that played for the AFC Championship last season. For the Cowboys to get to the playoffs in 2018, they're going to have to play at a high level like they did on Sunday.
I, for one, don't doubt that they can.
Oakland Raiders’ Wide Receiver Amari Cooper On the Trade Block
Aside from Wide Receiver Cole Beasley, the Dallas Cowboys haven't received much production from their wide receiver group outside of the occasional big play from fellow wide outs Michael Gallup or Tavon Austin. Well, the Oakland Raiders apparently are willing to listen to offers for Wide Receiver Amari Cooper and, according to Michael Rapaport, are asking for a first round draft pick in return.
Raiders want a first round pick for Amari Cooper, per @RapSheet.
The Dallas Cowboys could use someone with Cooper's ability, even if he has been a drop machine through his first four seasons. In his first two seasons in the NFL, 2015 and 2016, Cooper averaged 77 receptions on 131 targets, for 1,111.5 yards, and 5.5 touchdowns. Through his first three seasons in the NFL, Cooper averaged 11 drops a season, including 18 in his rookie season.
Any time you start a discussion about whether you should trade for someone, the question always begins with "what are you paying?" What would you be willing to pay for Amari Cooper? After back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons to start his career, he only went for 680 yards in 14 games (48.6 yards per game). Though the yardage wasn't great last year, he did catch seven touchdowns for the Oakland Raiders.
So far in 2018, Cooper is averaging 46.7 yards per game on 3.67 receptions per game and has only scored one touchdown.
I wouldn't send a top 60 pick for Amari Cooper. He's a good player, but is he better than what Michael Gallup could be? Because if you trade for Cooper he's going to likely eat into Gallup's snap count and we need to find out if Michal Gallup is a player that the Dallas Cowboys could rely on in the future. But, if the Cowboys coaching staff brought Cooper in to replace Allen Hurns, then I'd be very happy to talk about acquiring the former first round draft choice.
A starting wide receiver group of Cole Beasley, Amari Cooper, and Michael Gallup would be a very difficult group to cover and Quarterback Dak Prescott showed on Sunday that he has what it takes to get the ball down field to his receivers.
The Cowboys probably wouldn't make this trade, unless Jerry Jones got involved, because they value their draft picks too much, but if the Dallas Cowboys could get him for a third round pick I'd do it in a heart beat. For a second round pick, I'd have to get a fifth or sixth back from Oakland in that deal. Cooper's a good player, but hasn't shown to be one of the best at his position.
There are a couple other players from Oakland that I'm more interested in trading for.
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What do you think? Would you trade for Amari Cooper, and if so, what would you be willing to give?
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