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2015 Cowboys Season: Playoffs Or Draft Pick



Cowboys Blog - 5 Most Telling Numbers from Cowboys Losing Streak 2

As my great-aunt on my mother's side, Wilma Fingerdoo, used to say, “Whether it’s chocolate cheesecake or crap covered nuts, you have to eat what life gives you.”

Yes, I’m cheating and playing both sides of the fence. For the last two-plus weeks or more, the battle has raged on about the Cowboys continuing to play to make the playoffs, or tank the rest of the season for the highest possible draft pick.

Come this night, when our beloved Cowboys travel to FedEx field, the question of the playoffs and most likely draft position will more than likely be answered. A win and Dallas is one game back. A loss and we’re sitting at 3-9 with a firm hold on at least a top-five pick.

Myself? I’m still torn between both. Do I believe the playoffs are out of reach? Yes, I do. I have no faith whatsoever in Matt Cassel, or what the Cowboys offense can bring with him as the quarterback.

Cowboys Blog - Monday Night Will Define Cowboys Season

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Do I want the Cowboys to tank? Hell no. It doesn’t matter if it’s sports, raising a child, or cleaning toilets at Walmart to make a paycheck, one should always take pride in one’s job. Tanking is out of the question.

While I’m not opposed to letting the young guys get a chance to see what they may be able to bring, I also believe that you put the best players on the field who give you the best chance at victory. That’s the coach's decision not mine, not yours.

We may not agree with all the choices made from the Cowboys brass, but it’s our duty as fans to support the team come hell or high water, no matter the outcome.

Agree or disagree? Feel free to let me know your thoughts or feelings in the comments below.

Lifelong Dallas Cowboys and horse racing fan. You can generally find me at the top of a mountain or on a frozen lake. Born and raised in Idaho and for those still wondering, we do have color tv and cell phones.



  1. Chris hearn

    December 7, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    Couldn't agree more! The draft is a crap shoot. I waste hours every week watching draft breakdown on these players coming up and I think the difference between pick 4 and 12 is small. The QBs in this draft are not very good. Trust the staff, develop players and let the 53 playing remember that they can win.

  2. Randy Martin

    December 8, 2015 at 12:09 am

    You are spot on! Every week we have to go out and take no prisoners. There were some good signs tonight and yet was a bit baffled by our inability to run behind what was supposed to be the best O-line in the league, against a vulnerable Washington defense. Though McFadden has had some good games and before this week, we ranked 7th in rushing, this line is not the same as last year. That would point to the difference being DeMarco and not the line. But I have maintained all season the loss of Bill Callan cannot be forgotten. Good things tonight….DeMarcus Lawrence played very well, Sean Lee looked awesome, there was a Nick Hayden sighting, and Jason Witten continues to show why he is one of the best TE's to play the game and why he is a first ballot HOF'er.

  3. Will Adams

    December 8, 2015 at 8:50 am

    I'd have to say its more about Bill Callan then is is not having Murray

  4. Zac Fields

    December 8, 2015 at 9:09 am

    I lose a lot of respect for any fan who suggests the Cowboys "tank" the season.

    If you tank a season by benching your star players in a deliberate attempt to lose games, you'd might as well fire the entire coaching staff after the season and, frankly, rebuild your entire roster.

    Think about it: Coaches hammer a winning mentality into these players' brains constantly. It's all about "never give up," and "finish the fight," etc etc. These players don't care anything about getting the #1 draft pick. They want to beat their opponents because that's their job. How can you ever trust the same players again once you've ended that mantra and basically told them it's okay to lose? And how much respect do you think these players will have for their coaching staff in that scenario? It's the kind of thing that kills a locker room.

    I also have game integrity issues with tanking. The league designed the salary cap and the draft order to achieve the highest level of parity in the league. Tanking circumvents that system and honestly if there was a way to prove it, I'd be 100% okay with the NFL stripping that team of it's first round pick for being caught tanking.

    Just my 2 cents. Win the games you can win. That's why we watch this sport.

  5. Jess Haynie

    Jess Haynie

    December 8, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Maybe it's the business/accounting side of me, but I can easily get behind the tanking philosophy.

    Let's face it, nobody really cares about victories for the sake of victories. Wins are only worth what they mean towards building your entry into the playoffs. Once that's off the table, you're just costing yourself draft positioning.

    That said, there's a difference between throwing games and simply not going ALL OUT to win. You can utilize bench players more and experiment with your playbook without intentionally sabotaging. Your remaining games can become an even better form of practice and development than the preseason; most teams will be giving you your best. What better time to evaluate some young talent and see whose worth keeping around in the offseason?

    The "integrity of the game" argument doesn't resonate much with me. Every year there are teams who benefit from having a bunch of softies on their schedule. Maybe they're in a weak division, or maybe they catch several teams with injuries or locker room problems. Maybe you're facing a team who habitually, year after year, doesn't spend their cap dollars because the owners are cheap. What's another team deciding not to try that hard during their last 4-6 games? Does it really imbalance anything?

    Realistically, does anyone feel that much better about a 7-9 season than a 4-12 season? Maybe a little, but what about the difference between having a Top 5 draft pick versus one in the 10-16 range? Which energizes your fanbase more?

  6. Zac Fields

    December 8, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Well there is a difference between deliberately trying to lose games and giving developmental players a harder look because you're mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Although when your hope is to lose football games, it's still a poor strategy from so many different vantage points.

    Integrity is a real issue. What happens if every team employs this strategy? I went through the NFL standings just now and counted 14 teams in a position similar to the Cowboys. Either their record is as bad or worse than the Cowboys or they were at least 3 games behind the division leader and not in realistic position for a Wild Card spot. How enjoyable would the next month of football be for everybody if 14 teams were "tanking," trying to compete for a better draft pick? What happens if teams started making this decision earlier in the season if/when it just became clear that they can't compete with the top teams and thus they're better off shooting for that top draft talent? Don't you figure at some point the fans would just get fed up and find something else to do with their time?

    And again, there is something to be said for losing your locker room. Not only do players have no desire to tank since they are paid for individual performance, but you're still mucking with their minds and their egos when you start giving them the message (overtly or otherwise) that it's okay to lose.

    Play Kellen Moore for a couple games if/when we're eliminated. Give Rod Smith some carries, etc. But do those things because there's a legitimate chance they might actually be better than the players they're replacing. Don't shut down Dez Bryant to shield him from injury, or Sean Lee, etc. That's the difference between tanking and just having a long-term perspective for your personnel.

    As for me personally? The Cowboys may be bad this season, but I am pretty damn proud of how they continue to fight. For me, that's a mentality that will take them to a Super Bowl very soon. Anything to jeopardize that "finish the fight" mentality that Garrett has instilled in this team is a dagger to their future prospects, as far as I'm concerned.

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2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch

Kevin Brady



Leighton Vander Esch Lands on List of NFL's Top 10 Rookies

As the first round draft pick of America's Team, any player would be under a ton of pressure from all angles. Whether it's from the fans on the outside or the organization on the inside, the expectations around being a first round pick for the Cowboys are immense. But the pressure placed upon linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, from the second he was announced as the 19th overall draft pick, was second to none.

It felt like Cowboys Nation let out a collective groan when Vander Esch was taken, with fans hoping for a more glamorous first round selection. Someone like wide receiver Calvin Ridley or edge rusher Harold Landry would've done the trick, but after Vander Esch's rookie season it's hard to imagine either of those players would have had the impact Vander Esch did in 2018.

Though he didn't start a game until week 4, and didn't become the unquestioned full-time starting WILL until week 10, Vander Esch earned Pro Bowl honors for his rookie season. Tallying 140 total tackles and 2 interceptions, Vander Esch made his presence felt week in and week out.

No counting stats can fully measure Leighton Vander Esch's impact as a rookie, however.

Prior to the 2018 season, the Cowboys defensive success often came down to the health of Sean Lee. When available and playing at his best, Lee led an overachieving Cowboys defense to solid performances each week. But, when Lee went out (as he often did), the entire Cowboys defense seemed to fall apart.5 Studs and Duds From the Dallas Cowboys 2018 Season

This year, though, that all changed. When Sean Lee was out with injury the Cowboys defense got better. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith became a versatile, hard hitting tandem the NFL immediately feared, and helped to direct the Cowboys defense to signature wins throughout the 2018 season.

There are arguments against taking any off-ball linebacker in the first round, as the value of the position has been questioned due to the new style of offense in the NFL. Nowadays linebackers are relegated to two-down players, taken off the field in favor of faster defensive backs on critical passing downs.

Leighton Vander Esch is athletic enough to be both an old school run stopper, but also a three down linebacker in today's fast paced NFL.

Despite the doubts which surrounded the pick, the Cowboys absolutely nailed their first round selection in 2018. And Leighton Vander Esch made Dallas' front office look like geniuses each and every Sunday.

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Star Blog

What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?

Kevin Brady



Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.

Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.

They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?

Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.

Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.

Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.

Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.

Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.

This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.

The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.

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Star Blog

3 Things We Learned About The Dallas Cowboys In 2018

Kevin Brady



Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

Coming into the 2018 season, loads of questions surrounded the Dallas Cowboys and the future of their roster.

Could their defense stay intact when the annual Sean Lee injury occurred? Was Kris Richard going to lead the Cowboys young secondary to places we thought they could be? And would Dak Prescott earn a contact extension and become the official franchise quarterback of America's Team.

Of course, there are tons of other questions that may have gone unanswered, but these three critical areas seem to find clarity in 2018.

Leighton Vander Esch And Jaylon Smith Are Legit

The Dallas Cowboys caught a lot of flack for their selection both of these linebackers, each for different reasons.

When they snagged Jaylon Smith in the second round of the 2016 draft, it was still unknown to the public if Smith could ever even play football again. When they took Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall last April, fans questioned how valuable an off-ball linebacker would be on a defense that already had Sean Lee.

Well, after their first full season together, it's easy to say that both Vander Esch and Smith are the linebacker options of the future in Dallas. Named to the Pro Bowl during his rookie season, Vander Esch took the world by storm in 2018. When Lee went down, he was there to not only fill his shoes, but to outplay the veteran all year long.

What is fun to consider is that as good as Vander Esch was this season, Jaylon Smith might be even better. Both posses insane sideline to sideline pursuit ability, and are some of the surest tacklers in all of football.

Watching these two grow together will be a pleasure over the coming seasons.

Their Young Secondary Is Coming Together

Like their linebackers, the Dallas Cowboys secondary is a young group, who fans are excited to watch grow throughout the years. It seemed like more pressure sat on the shoulders of young cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie than of Smith and Vander Esch, however.

With Kris Richard joining the staff and making the decision to move Jones to cornerback full time, it was do-or-die for the former first round pick. Byron Jones answered all the doubters, earning not only a Pro Bowl selection but also First Team All Pro honors for his performance.

Opposite him, Awuzie had a rough start to his sophomore campaign. While typically right there in coverage, wide outs too often made contested catches over him. Over the final few weeks of the year, however, that changed and Awuzie played some of the best football yet.

Xavier Woods, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis (in much fewer snaps) all had fantastic seasons as well, giving the Cowboys great hope and confidence in their secondary moving forward. They may need to add another safety during the offseason, however, though Jeff Heath remains more than just a viable option.

Dak Prescott Is Here To Stay

Whether or not you think it's justified, Dak Prescott is the quarterback of the future in Dallas. And he earned that right the back-half of 2018 and during the postseason. After a shaky start to his 3rd season, Prescott turned things around nicely, leading the Cowboys to a 7-1 finish to the regular season.

Prescott played the best football of his young career down the stretch, and showed just how valuable he is both on the field and in the locker room. It seemed like every game he made 2-3 winning plays that put the Cowboys over the top that afternoon.

Dak is going to get a contract extension, and will be locked in as a Cowboy for the foreseeable future, and with the way he played the final 10 games of his season, I can't second guess this decision much at all.

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