It’s here. Really, it’s finally here! It’s game week and the long, long offseason has concluded and Cowboys Nation is likely excited about what this season has in store.
Think about it. For the past few years the Cowboys have gotten a slew of media attention as “the best team on paper” or “a team that will finally get over the hump”. Now the media isn’t even talking about us, many believe that the Cowboys just don’t have the talent anymore.
This is what we’ve been waiting for.
These Cowboys have consistently faltered to the pressure put on them by coaches, players, owners and media. Now, with minimum expectations, the Cowboys can play loose, play fun and just worry about Sunday.
So what can we expect? What are realistic expectations that we can expect to see from the Cowboys?I’m going to do my best to predict how things will turn this season. Try and stick with me.
Most Valuable Player: Tony Romo, QB
Predicted Stat Line: 4650 yards, 34 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 66% completion percentage
To some this is unrealistic, however, Tony Romo has shown us that he has all the talent and ability to be an elite QB. While this won’t put him at the top of any category, he’ll easily be a top 5 or 6 QB in the league.
Romo finally puts it together this year with a more comfortable offensive line, 12-personnel formation and a new focus on the running game. Romo is smart and savvy, his yardage goes down considerably from 2013 but his overall efficiency will see a great rise.
Offensive Player of the Year: Dez Bryant, WR
Predicted Stat Line: 105 receptions, 1680 yards, 16 touchdowns
Dez Bryant is on the verge of being the best WR in the NFL. This season is the breaking point. Dez won’t achieve his 2000 yards thanks to an increased focus from defensive secondaries. However, the truth is that you can only hope to contain Dez.
Dez will break 100 receptions and because of his tough style of play, he will manage to break quite a few long TD runs.
Defensive Player of the Year: Sean Lee, MLB
Predicted Stat Line: 148 total tackles, 4 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 4 sacks, 1 touchdown.
Bruce Carter is the fan favorite in this defense but Sean Lee is the prototypical middle linebacker for this scheme is a guy whose style of play is transcendent. Lee is physical, blue collar, instinctive and smart. These are traits that would allow him to play in any era.
Lee has been battling injuries but while he’s been on the field, he’s always been among the league leaders at his position. This will be the year that Lee stays healthy and delivers the type of season he’s capable of.
Rookie of the Year: Travis Frederick, C/G
Here’s the bottom line, Travis Frederick has the potential to be a steal of this draft. Offensive lineman don’t always work out (see Jonathan Cooper’s season ending injury) but Frederick has the smarts, size and ability to become a really strong center in this league.
What I like here is that Frederick, paired with Leary and Smith, offer the Cowboys stability and youth in an offensive line that has been a source of weakness for this team. Obviously, based on my Romo prediction, I expect the offensive line to be much improved and that is thanks in large part to Fredericks presence and ability to make calls.
Other Stat Projections:
Jason Witten, TE: 92 receptions, 950 yards, 6 touchdowns
DeMarco Murray: 252 carries, 1080 yards, 8 touchdowns
DeMarcus Ware: 17 Sacks
Team Record, Standings and Finish Prediction
Overall Record: 10-6 (4-2 NFC East)
Division Standing: First, 4th Seed NFC
Playoff Prediction: Lose NFC Championship @ Seattle
(Note: Maybe a little optimistic, but I believe if the Cowboys can get into the tourney they can play with anyone. Seattle becomes too much to handle IN Seattle.)
Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
It's not uncommon for Dallas Cowboys fans to zero in on certain free agents in hopes that they will bring their talents to America's Team. In fact, just about any "big name" player to hit the open market is often linked to the Cowboys in some way or another. That was the case when the Arizona Cardinals decided to move on from Tyrann Mathieu.
Once Tyrann Mathieu became available, Cowboys fans immediately wanted to see him with a star on his helmet. But, despite the fans petitioning, the Cowboys brass seemed to show almost zero interest in the former Cardinal.
The decision to not pursue Tyrann Mathieu certainly didn't sit well with a lot of Cowboys Nation, but I think it was the right decision.
Despite Mathieu's perceived talents and youth (he's just 25), the Cowboys weren't interested in paying the price to bring him to Dallas, especially since they already have a similar player on their roster.
It may sound crazy, but I think the real reason the Dallas Cowboys didn't show much interest in Tyrann Mathieu is because of Xavier Woods.
I honestly believe Xavier Woods and Tyrann Mathieu have a similar skill set. Both players are little undersized to be a full-time safety in the NFL, but each of them have the versatility to play several different roles in the secondary.
Mathieu may have been listed as a safety on the Arizona Cardinals roster, and now the Houston Texans, but the truth is he played mostly out of the nickel/slot in his professional and collegiate career. That is where he is at his best, and the same can be said about Xavier Woods.
As a rookie, Xavier Woods showed his versatility with the Dallas Cowboys by playing a variety of different roles in the secondary. His versatility was one of the reasons the Cowboys decided to trade up in last year's draft to acquire his services.
His name might not carry the same kind of weight as Tyrann Mathieu right now around the league or amongst NFL fans, but I don't think Xavier Woods is that much of a drop off talent wise.
Personally, I believe Mathieu is starting to decline a little as a player. I think injuries are starting to take a toll on his play, although it may be minimal. I actually prefer Xavier Woods' upside, especially when you take into account the difference in salaries between the two.
Surprisingly enough, Xavier Woods might just have been more productive in 2017 then Mathieu. Woods started just four games and finished the season with 42 tackles, three passes defensed, and one interception. Mathieu on the other hand started all 16 games and accumulated 78 tackles, one quarterback sack, one forced fumble, and two interceptions.
As you can see, Xavier Woods was almost just as productive as Mathieu in nearly a third of the playing time. What's even more impressive about this is that Woods accomplish this as a rookie.
Of course, all of this is speculation, but I for one am not all that upset the Dallas Cowboys missed out on Tyrann Mathieu. I'm willing to bet on Xavier Woods being able to do everything Mathieu can and at a fraction of the cost.
Were the Cowboys right not to pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
Free Agent CB Orlando Scandrick Joining Washington Redskins
Just two days after being released by the Dallas Cowboys, cornerback Orlando Scandrick has found a new home in the nation's capitol. After 10 seasons in Dallas, Scandrick is signing with the rival Washington Redskins.
Redskins and Orlando Scandrick have agreed to a 2-year deal worth a max value of $10M, source said. From Dallas to a rival.
By joining Washington after leaving Dallas, Scandrick follows in the footsteps of many ex-Cowboys: Terrell McClain, Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen, and even Deion Sanders to name a few.
Last week, Orlando reportedly requested his release from Dallas. It was widely expected that he would be a salary cap casualty anyway, though, and especially with the young stockpile of cornerbacks the Cowboys currently have.
Dallas has three young corners they believe in with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Anthony Brown. There is also talk that Byron Jones could be moving back to CB next year.
Scandrick, 31, will get to stay in the NFC East and now cover some of his former teammates. Give the reportedly salary, he should at least be the slot corner for Washington next year if not a starter.
Upgrading the Offensive Line Cowboys Top Offseason Priority?
Despite the displeasure by the majority of fans, the Dallas Cowboys continue to hold things close to the vest with their approach to free agency. It's definitely not the most popular approach and tends to drive fans crazy, but things could start heating up now that the free-agent market is starting to settle.
Looking from the outside in, we can only speculate as to which positions the Dallas Cowboys may prioritize in free agency and in the draft that matter. Earl Thomas and the safety position has been the most popular topic of discussion throughout the free agency process, but it looks as if the Cowboys are narrowing their focus on upgrading and adding depth to their offensive line.
This is just speculation of course, but it's based on the fact that the Cowboys are rumored to be bringing in free-agent offensive lineman Marcus Martin and Cameron Fleming. And on top of that, it was announced that two of the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visitors are also offensive lineman, Will Hernandez, who is popular among Cowboys fans already, and offensive tackle Kolton Miller.
I don't know about you, but it looks as if the Dallas Cowboys are certainly focused in on upgrading the offensive line. This absolutely makes sense after what they went through last season with the carousel at the left guard position and Tyron Smith's struggles to stay healthy.
More than anything, the Cowboys need OL depth heading into the 2018 season. There is only really one spot up for grabs at left guard, but the depth across the OL is absolutely depleted unless you want to rely on Chaz Green again.
This is where Marcus Martin and Cameron Fleming make a lot of sense. Marcus Martin has the versatility to play center and guard, and has done so already in his NFL career. He could compete for the starting LG position, but if nothing else, could replace Joe Looney as the backup C/OG.
Cameron Fleming could be the more important of the two free agents the Cowboys are rumored to be interested in. At the worst, Fleming would be an upgrade as the swing tackle, something he's done with the New England Patriots throughout his career. But, he could compete to become the starting right tackle, which would kick La'el Collins back inside to left guard.
That's all speculation right now, but the Dallas Cowboys would do what's best for the entire team in order to get the right starting five offensive lineman on the field.
The same can be said about rookies Will Hernandez and Kolton Miller. Hernandez would likely be a plug-and-play left guard if he ended up being the Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick. That would keep the offensive line from shuffling and hopefully solidify the unit for years to come.
Kolton Miller on the other hand would be a lot like the Cameron Fleming situation mentioned above. He can probably tackle on the left or right side the NFL, although some draft analysts believe he will struggle as a LT at the next level.
Of course, there is no way of knowing how much interest the Dallas Cowboys have any of these players right now. But to me, it looks as if upgrading the offensive line is certainly one of their top priorities this offseason.
Is upgrading the OL the Dallas Cowboys top offseason priority?
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