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2015 Dallas Cowboys: Anything Can Happen

RJ Ochoa

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NFC East Blog - 2015 Dallas Cowboys: Anything Can Happen

"This is Christmas! The season of perpetual hope!" -Kate McCallister in the 1990 classic Home Alone.

Christmas 2006 was a special day for me. My Dad took me to my first ever Dallas Cowboys game... a home contest against the Jeff Garcia-led Philadelphia Eagles.

I was young and wide-eyed at everything surrounding this incredible team. I was particularly enamored with the play of a quarterback who was taking the NFL by storm - Tony Romo.

The game actually took place on Christmas Day - so there was a magic in the air. Hours before kickoff we gathered with some other fans in the parking lot of the team hotel as the Cowboys exited it on their way to Texas Stadium. It was a fun atmosphere to chat about the 9-5 Cowboys and snag a few autographs.

Players would come out one by one and the crowd would roar each time. Certain players, Terrell Owens for example, gained louder cheers and excitement. Finally, after a majority of the team had come and gone, Tony Romo made his way to the parking lot and was met with the loudest greeting of them all.

Cowboys Blog - 2015 Dallas Cowboys: Anything Can Happen

Fans stormed the fence screaming for him. "Tony! Tony! Hey!" People, myself among them, were losing their minds over the new Cowboys QB.

Romo graciously made his way to the line of fans and started to sign some autographs. I reached out my football as my Dad watched and hoped with me.

After an autograph here, an autograph there, Romo kept making his way down the line... away from me. With every step he took my heart broke that much more.

As it was Christmas Day it was pretty chilly in Dallas. Tony was about 15 autographs deep and you could sense that this was it. I was beginning to feel devastated. My fears were realized when Tony waved at the crowd and headed for his car.

I was crushed. Keep in mind that we still had the actual game to go to! None of it mattered, though. This was going to eat at me all day and my Dad, my best friend, knew that better than I did.

My Dad, in an effort to console his son, looked around for a sign of hope. He scanned the perimeter when suddenly... an idea hit him.

"Son, you see that stoplight over there?" he said as he gestured about a hundred yards away.

"Tony has to go through it. If you run, and you catch him, anything can happen." my Dad said.

There was no time to waste. I tucked my football and ran. Remember that it was pretty cold, so I had a lot of layers on, and I had to beat a moving car. This was a long shot.

I don't know that I've ever run that fast in my life. Like a running back staring down would-be tacklers I kept my eyes on Tony throughout the entire sprint. You could sense that something special was about to happen.

As I approached the stoplight I looked up... and the light turned red. I turned back and saw Tony slowing down (he does obey traffic signals after all) and my heart began to race.

I was the only kid, the only person, around for hundreds of yards. There was nobody there. He could have just ignored me and no one would have ever known.

As Tony's car slowed down he began to roll down his window... and he already had a sharpie in his hand.

I was excited. I was nervous. I was cold. I was exhausted! I'd just sprinted a hundred yards for crying out loud. I blurted out, "Tony! Could.. you, uh.. sign... uh..."

Cowboys Blog - 2015 Dallas Cowboys: Anything Can Happen 1

"Merry Christmas, man." Tony said as he signed my ball.

I trotted back to my Dad and we hugged. It was one of the greatest moments of my life.

I still get pretty emotional thinking about that day.

I love Tony Romo. I always have. It pains me greatly that I have to consider a plan for the playoffs that doesn't include him lining up under center for the Dallas Cowboys.

But like my Dad once brilliantly said, "Anything can happen."

This is that anything.


I've written extensively here at Inside The Star about potential "plans" for the Dallas Cowboys to make the playoffs this season.

The first plan (we'll call it Plan I) was put into action right before the loss against the Seattle Seahawks on the first day in November. I drew up a second draft (aka Plan II) after the Cowboys fell at home to the Philadelphia Eagles - a game which the first plan totally hinged on. I thought one revision would be all it took.

I was back at it just one week after the second plan when the Dallas Cowboys inexplicably lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that's how Plan III was born. It seemed like a hat trick of plans would be all we needed when the Cowboys carried out the first step of it by beating the Miami Dolphins... but every plan in existence was blown to smithereens when Tony Romo was laying on the turf at AT&T Stadium on Thanksgiving.

You now know that I've been a heavy supporter of Tony Romo since 2006. Seeing him, and knowing what had just happened, almost a week ago now... was perhaps the lowest that I've ever felt as a Dallas Cowboys fan.

One thing that I've learned from Tony over this decade-long ride is that you can't give up. You just can't.

How many times has he evaded a tackle, made a throw, or pulled out a victory when all logic pointed to the contrary? We owe it to him to keep believing.

This is the greatest game in the world. We spend the majority of the offseason counting down the days until Dallas Cowboys Football officially begins. It's here and we're smack dab in the middle of it. Forgive me if I don't want to fast forward through it. We're going to make the most of 2015.

The Dallas Cowboys believe that the playoffs are still a possibility. They said so yesterday when they decided not to put Tony Romo on season-ending injured reserve. They believe, so we're going to believe.

Welcome to Plan IV - where anything can happen.

Here are the standings in the NFC East through Week 12:

Overall Record Division Record
Washington Redskins 5-6 2-1
New York Giants 5-6 2-3
Philadelphia Eagles 4-7 2-2
Dallas Cowboys 3-8 2-2

I spent a lot of Plans I, II, and III looking at things by group. We're going to do things a little differently and look at each team and their remaining schedule individually.

Washington Redskins (5-6)

Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17
Dallas Cowboys @ Chicago Bears Buffalo Bills @ Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

If you've read my previous plans then you know that I'm a big fan of color coding things. We'll get to that, but let me explain this five game stretch first.

The hopes and dreams of these Cowboys totally and completely hinge on them beating the Redskins in both of their matchups - we're going to give Washington losses for those.

The other three games? Chicago has been resurgent lately, they did just beat Green Bay at Lambeau on Thanksgiving when Favre got his number retired, and Buffalo is in contention for a wildcard spot in the AFC. Philadelphia is uglier than last year's eggnog, Washington will win that easily.

Looking at their schedule with wins in green and losses in red we have:

Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17
Dallas Cowboys @ Chicago Bears Buffalo Bills @ Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

This would put Washington at 7-9 on the season. It's not asking for a lot. In fact we control a good chunk of it, which is always a good thing. So what do we need, in layman's terms, from the Washington Redskins for Plan IV to work?

We need to beat the Redskins twice and have them lose at least one game from their other three.

New York Giants (5-6)

Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17
New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins Carolina Panthers @ Minnesota Vikings Philadelphia Eagles

Alright so we took care of the Redskins and now need to figure out how the Giants are going to give us everything on our Christmas list.

The Panthers and Vikings are two guaranteed losses for the Giants. The Jets are going to give them a run for their money this Sunday and I'm sure Odell Beckham Jr. will be on Revis Island... which means many interceptions from Eli Manning. It's hard to tell what you're going to get from the Dolphins and while I don't think the Eagles could beat them in New York, the Giants are pretty bad themselves.

Looking at their schedule with wins in green and losses in red we have:

Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17
New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins Carolina Panthers @ Minnesota Vikings Philadelphia Eagles

The Panthers game is a slam dunk in terms of what we need. The Vikings aren't as much of a lock, but they're a free throw at the very worst. Just consider those two games for the Giants as the two games that we have against the Redskins. We can't control these, but we can easily assume losses for our division foe. This puts the Giants at 7-9 along with the Redskins.

We need the Giants to lose at least three of their five remaining games.

Philadelphia Eagles (4-7)

Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17
@ New England Patriots Buffalo Bills Arizona Cardinals Washington Redskins @ New York Giants

Of the three division rivals this domino is the one most likely to fall. Instead of a slam dunk this one is like the ball just permanently being surrounded by the net. The net of Chip Kelly's misguided football mind.

The Eagles in New England after the Patriots just experienced a gut-wrenching loss on primetime? Too da loo, Chippy. The Bills are in contention, the Cardinals are on fire... and it's hard to see them beating either other division rival right now.

Looking at their schedule with wins in green and losses in red we have:

Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17
@ New England Patriots Buffalo Bills Arizona Cardinals Washington Redskins @ New York Giants

I am not making this up. Tell me one team on that list who you think the Eagles can beat. You can't.

You could maybe argue that they'd beat the Bills if Rex Ryan had a bad enough day, but they are not beating the Patriots or Cardinals. That alone would put them at nine losses which would tie them with Washington and New York.

They'd still have to beat Buffalo, Washington, and New York... which is not happening. It would actually be awesome if Philly lost these next three games in a row. That would put them at 10 losses on the season already.

Imagine they then beat Washington or New York or both? Remember that we counted the remaining game against the Eagles as a win for both the Redskins and Giants? Another loss from either of those teams would also put them at 10 on the season.

We need the Eagles to lose at least two more games (which will likely be the Patriots and Cardinals). If they also lose to Buffalo then we would like them to beat Washington or New York or BOTH to give us even more breathing room.

Dallas Cowboys (3-8)

Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17
@ Washington Redskins @ Green Bay Packers New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills Washington Redskins

The best for last. (I hope the same is true for plans as well).

I know that it's hard to envision literally any of these as a win because these Dallas Cowboys have not won one single game without Tony Romo... and he will not be present for any of them. We're off to a good start, aren't we?

Remember that this is where anything can happen. You can't see this team, with all of its stars on both sides of the ball, beating the Redskins twice? We're halfway there off of that alone.

Say we drop the deuce on Washington (like what I did there?). What else do we need? It's simple - two out of three.

Looking at their schedule with wins in green and losses in red we have:

Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17
@ Washington Redskins @ Green Bay Packers New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills Washington Redskins

I cannot stress enough how vital the two games against the Redskins are. Without those this plan does not work (that explanation is coming right after this, I promise).

The Cowboys have a score to settle in Green Bay. If they can pull off the win in Washington it's hard to see them not getting up for that contest. Toss in the fact that the Packers have lost four out of their last five? They're beatable!

The Jets are for real this year. There's no way that we can hang with them offensively if Revis eliminates Dez. Rex Ryan can be beat, his Bills are so hot and cold.

Ultimately it doesn't matter which games are wins between the Redskins ones. We must have at least two. That would get us to 7-9.

We NEED to beat the Redskins both times. We also need to win two out of three of the games in between (and potentially only one out of those three if Philadelphia is able to give us more breathing room)

NFC East

So if all of this comes to fruition we'd have:

Overall Record Division Record
Washington Redskins 7-9 3-3
New York Giants 7-9 3-3
Philadelphia Eagles 4-12 2-4
Dallas Cowboys 7-9 4-2

That 4-2 there at the end? It's really important.

The immediate tiebreaker within the division is, you guessed it, division record. This is why those Redskins games are so vital to this whole plan:

  • The Redskins only have one division loss currently, but with two opportunities to play them we control the ability to turn that into three which we'd be better than.
  • The Giants are already at three division losses. As we are 2-2 we would be better with the two Redskins wins.
  • The Eagles will lose to the Patriots and Cardinals, that part is as guaranteed as it can be at this point. That's why if they lose to Buffalo we'd be rooting for them in the final two weeks. Losses to New England, Buffalo, and Arizona would put the Eagles at 4-10 on the season entering their games against Washington and New York. As we're planning on the Cowboys finishing at 7-9, even if Philly won those last two and ended with a 4-2 division record they would still be one overall game behind us and therefore not a threat. They could finish at 6-10 with those division wins and give us an extra game for potential error (right now the margin is one).

Plan IV

  • We need to beat the Redskins twice and have them lose at least one game from their other three.
  • We need the Giants to lose at least three of their five remaining games.
  • We need the Eagles to lose at least two more games (which will likely be the Patriots and Cardinals). If they also lose to Buffalo then we would like them to beat Washington or New York or BOTH to give us even more breathing room.
  • We NEED to beat the Redskins both times. We also need to win two out of three of the games in between (and potentially only one out of those three if Philadelphia is able to give us more breathing room). 

There you have it - a fourth draft of the 2015 Dallas Cowboys' chances at making the playoffs.

If you want to pack up shop and focus on 2016 I'm not going to talk you out of it. I'm a realist and I get that things look as bleak as ever. I'm just choosing the other option.

This isn't a matter of believing until we're mathematically eliminated or being an eternal optimist.

This is Christmas. The season of perpetual hope.

This is where anything can happen.

This is that anything.


RJ Ochoa on Fancred

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What do you think of Plan IV? What are your thoughts on how probable this is? I'd like to know! Comment below, Email me at Roel.Ochoa.Jr@Gmail.com or Tweet to me @rjochoa!

Tell us what you think about "2015 Dallas Cowboys: Anything Can Happen" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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Can Rookie OL Connor McGovern Compete For A Starting Spot?

Kevin Brady

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Connor McGovern

Raising eyebrows in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cowboys added Penn State offensive lineman Connor McGovern to their already deep OL depth chart.

McGovern, who played guard for the Nittany Lions, was reportedly by-far the best player remaining on the Cowboys draft board when they came on the clock in round three. Still, with seemingly more pressing needs yet to be addressed, Dallas' selection of McGovern was certainly a surprise.

When you watch the tape, though, you immediately see what the Cowboys loved about Connor McGovern.

A "plug-and-play" type guard, Connor McGovern is the type of rookie you'd expect to contribute in year one. On many teams he may be a candidate to start at guard or center from the beginning of his rookie season, but here in Dallas, his role for the 2019 season is somewhat in question.

Clearly, being a day two pick, there's no doubt that McGovern will make the Cowboys roster. But can he compete for a starting job?

During OTA's McGovern took reps at both guard and center, pointing towards the possibility of him being the first interior offensive lineman off the bench if one of the starters were to go down with an injury. Fellow interior linemen Joe Looney and Xavier Su'a-Filo each contributed in big ways during the 2018 season, however, and will be tough to beat out during camp.

Obviously McGovern won't be starting over All-Pros Travis Frederick and Zack Martin, but could he dethrone Connor Williams from his left guard position?

While possible, I would still say it's unlikely. The Cowboys selection of McGovern seems to be more about 2020 and beyond than it is about the 2019 season. With right tackle La'el Collins coming up on a contract year, Dallas might elect to let him walk in free agency, move Williams back to his college position of tackle, and slide McGovern into the left guard slot.

This seems fool-proof in theory, but this many moving parts across the offensive line could spell trouble early on in 2020. Regardless, Connor McGovern's arrival gives Dallas the flexibility to consider all options on their offensive line.

In reality, McGovern strengthened a strength for Dallas, and may be needed to prove himself as early as this Fall if injury issues arise.



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Cowboys en Español: Analizando al Rival Más Fuerte en la NFC East

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Amari Cooper has Final Say on Trade Compensation in Cowboys Win 3

Los Dallas Cowboys se han llevado el título de la NFC East tres de los últimos cinco años. Dos veces han sido con el QB Dak Prescott como el titular. Sin embargo, no han logrado llevarse la división en años consecutivos. De hecho, ningún equipo de la NFC East ha logrado coronarse campeón divisional en años consecutivos desde el 2004. Los Cowboys, actuales campeones del grupo, buscarán romper esa tendencia en la temporada que está por comenzar en septiembre.

Los New York Giants, Washington Redskins y Philadelphia Eagles intentarán evitar que tal hazaña suceda. Sin embargo, parece ser que solo uno de estos tres equipos podrá ser rival para un equipo de Dallas bastante completo tanto en ofensiva como en defensiva.

Prescott vs. Wentz, the Meaningless Debate Continues

Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz, Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Matthew Emmons / USA TODAY Sports)

Los Eagles, quienes estuvieron en postemporada al igual que los Cowboys en 2018 (pero en calidad de comodín), cuentan con un muy fuerte equipo para la próxima temporada. En las apuestas deportivas, las casas de apuesta tienen como favorito a ganar la división a Philadelphia. El margen de diferencia entre ambos equipos es muy pequeño, poniendo las expectativas para ambas ciudades en aproximadamente el mismo nivel.

Para Eagles, termina una agotadora discusión entre Nick Foles y Carson Wentz después de que el veterano partiera a Jacksonville en la agencia libre y dejara a la segunda selección global del 2016 al mando de su equipo, como debería de ser. Wentz es un QB prometedor para su equipo. Antes de lesionarse en 2017, era el claro favorito para ser premiado como el MVP de la temporada. Pero la fortaleza del equipo va más allá de su mariscal de campo.

Doug Pederson ha demostrado ser un head coach muy capaz en la NFL, y tiene la fortuna de liderar un equipo repleto de talento. Similar a los Cowboys, los Eagles tuvieron un offseason algo discreto pero efectivo.

En ofensiva, Eagles consiguió talento para el juego terrestre después de conseguir al ex-Chicago Bear Jordan Howard y al novato de Penn State, Miles Sanders. Como receptor hace su regreso a Philadelphia Desean Jackson, quien será un arma peligrosa con Alshon Jeffery y Nelson Agholor.

Catching Up With Dallas Cowboys NFC East Rivals' Offseasons 1

Para la defensiva, consiguieron ayuda en la línea defensiva (que de por sí lucía muy talentosa) firmando al DT Malik Jackson. Como linebacker, una posición en la que necesitaban una mejora, llega Zach Brown. Ese frente defensivo es de temerse, sin duda.

Pero no solo se trata de aquellos jugadores nuevos en Philadelphia, sino las retenciones claves. Con Eagles se quedan después de firmar extensiones y nuevos contratos el centro Jason Kelce, el tackle Jason Peters, el caza cabezas Brandon Graham y el cornerback Ronald Darby.

Los Cowboys tienen un rival fuerte a quien superar si quieren llevarse el título de la división por segundo año consecutivo. Ambos equipos se enfrentan en las semanas 7 y 16, pero la NFC East se tendrá que ganar con un esfuerzo en los 16 partidos de la temporada.

Recientemente, Eagles y Cowboys han representado la rivalidad más importante dentro de la división y el 2019 no será la excepción. A nosotros como aficionados, nos espera un espectáculo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Analizando al Rival Más Fuerte en la NFC East" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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What Will Joe Looney’s Role Look Like In 2019?

Kevin Brady

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Would Cowboys Trade Joe Looney if the Saints Came Calling?

The quick answer to the question the title poses is: he will be the backup center.

And, well, yes. Duh. Right?

Now that veteran center Travis Frederick has returned to claim his rightful spot on the Cowboys offensive line, Joe Looney must slide back into his backup role. Looney filled in for the All Pro center admirably in 2018, playing well above expectation level for much of the season. Still, there was clearly a drop off in play between he and Frederick, especially when it came to communication across the offensive line.

It may not be as simple as "Joe Looney is back to being a backup interior lineman," though, especially considering the offseason which the Cowboys had. Dallas went out and added Penn State guard Connor McGovern with their second selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, adding him to a very crowded interior group.

Now, Joe Looney is joined by two guards which played significant time in 2018 in Connor Williams and Xavier Su'a-Filo, the unquestioned starter Travis Frederick, and this rookie who draft pundits have praised to be plug-and-play on the inside.

Looney himself, however, doesn't sound too concerned about how these pieces may fall during Training Camp. “Whatever happens, happens. My role is to be the best player that I can be. When the team needs me, my job is to be ready,” Looney told DallasCowboys.com recently. "Right now, it’s about getting better. If my number is called, I’ll be ready.”

There's no question that Joe Looney is both a favorite of the fans, and in the Cowboys locker room. The jolly lineman which NBC's Cris Collinsworth dubbed "Jumbo Joe" has proved his worth both on and off the field during his time in Dallas. Still, he isn't the player now that someone like Frederick is, and he doesn't have the ceiling or potential that someone like Connor Williams has.

One of these interior linemen is likely to be released before the season starts, but my guess would not be Joe Looney. Su'a-Filo did a fine job when Connor Williams missed time due to injury in 2018, but he is likely the odd man out on the interior of the Cowboys offensive line.

Joe Looney's ability and comfortability at the center position is extremely valuable, as is his experience from a season ago playing a full season for this offensive line. It would be extremely difficult for Dallas to move on from him in favor of lesser-known players, especially if Frederick's health is still any sort of question mark.



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