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2015 Dallas Cowboys: Feels A Lot Like Deja Vu

RJ Ochoa



Cowboys Blog - 2015 Dallas Cowboys: Feels A Lot Like Deja Vu

Between now and September we will see a lot of predictions, projections, and straight up guesses on the success of the 2015 Dallas Cowboys. People will pick games, assume things, and we’ll see who is proven right. One thing that won’t be mentioned as often though is that we’ve seen this team before… in the past.

Present teams get compared to past teams all the time though, right? The 2007 Patriots were compared to the 1999 Rams and their Greatest Show on Turf. Six years later the 2013 Broncos were compared to those 2007 Pats, and we’ll see another team in the future that makes us reflect on Peyton and his 2013 Bronco bunch. 30 years ago this season, the 1985 Bears forged a defense that became the measuring stick for all great ones.

So to whom will the 2015 Dallas Cowboys be compared? Better yet, how can we even compare them to anyone when all that has happened this year is free agency? The answer lies within the 2014 Dallas Cowboys (and some handy NFL history). Examining the success from 2014 and what we’ve seen in 2015 gives us just enough to reference a certain team’s two year period…the 2005-2006 Indianapolis Colts.

2005 Indianapolis Colts

The fourth rendition of Tony Dungy’s Colts (and Peyton Manning’s eighth) was pretty nifty and featured some moves that I’d like to reference in a second:

  • They locked up their stud right tackle, Ryan Diem, to a multi-year contract before the season began.
  • They lost every preseason game.
  • They played the NFC West.
  • Edgerrin James rushed for 13 TDs.
  • They won their division.
  • They lost in the divisional round of the playoffs.

“Alright RJ, where are you headed with this?” Settle in and check this out.

2014 Dallas Cowboys

The fourth (full) rendition of Jason Garrett’s Cowboys (and Tony Romo’s [full] eighth) …wait, what? You’re telling me that Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning were around for the exact same amount of time (excluding Tony Romo’s partial 2006 and Jason Garrett’s interim 2010) on the Cowboys as Dungy and Peyton Papa John were on the Colts? But wait! There’s more!

  • They locked up their stud left tackle, Tyron Smith, to a multi-year contract before the season began.
  • They lost every preseason game.
  • They played the NFC West.
  • DeMarco Murray rushed for 13 TDs.
  • They won their division.
  • They lost in the divisional round of the playoffs.

“Ok you got me. That’s kind of cool. But so what?” So what? So what?! You want more? Fine.

This 2005 Colts team was LOADED. They even had eight Pro Bowlers. Among the 2005 Colts’ Pro Bowlers were: QB Peyton Manning, RB Edgerrin James, and WR Marvin Harrison (What number did Marvin wear? What was it? 88? Huh, weird.) Triplets.

The Colts went on an absolute tear that season and were even 13-0 before the San Diego Chargers stopped their streak. Their playoff loss to Pittsburgh in the RCA Dome will always be remembered for Jerome Bettis’ fumble and Ben Roethlisberger’s heroic tackle to set up a Mike Vanderjagt shank that left the Colts devastated. It was a heart breaker, and it was time to look forward to 2006.

The 2014 Dallas Cowboys had… any guesses out there? Anyone? Bueller? Yes! Eight! Among the 2014 Cowboys’ Pro Bowlers were: QB Tony Romo, RB DeMarco Murray, and WR numero double ocho Dez Bryant. Triplets again?

The Cowboys didn’t exactly start off with a 13 game winning streak, but we did have a six-game streak that woke people up. Much like the Bettis fumble, our playoff loss will ALWAYS be remembered for the Dez play.

2006 Indianapolis Colts

“I’m not going to lie to you, RJ. You’ve got me interested. But how do the 2006 Colts factor into this? I don’t get it!” It’s your lucky day, my friend. I’ve got the answer! The WORLD CHAMPION 2006 Indianapolis Colts have some nifty moves of their own that I’d like to share with the class:

  • Edgerrin James left via free agency to the Arizona Cardinals.
  • Marvin Harrison signed a long-term contract.
  • They played the AFC East.

Tony and Peyton got off to their fifth and ninth respective Colts seasons by losing their prominent running back to the jaws of free agency. Nobody panicked. They addressed that need in the draft with rookie Joseph Addai out of LSU. This team started off on similar fire to 2005 and had another undefeated streak snapped…this time by Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys in Week 11. They managed to overcome this, though, and would go on to have ultimate success in the playoffs beating the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card Round, the Baltimore Ravens in the Divisional Round, the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship, and the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. World champs.

2015 Dallas Cowboys

“I’m with you now, RJ. Bring it home.” Obviously the 2015 season has yet to be played, or even scheduled for that matter, but we can draw some interesting parallels here. What do we know so far about the 2015 Dallas Cowboys?

  • DeMarco Murray left via free agency to the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • Dez Bryant has been franchise tagged.
  • We play the AFC East.

Look, I know that ultimately none of this guarantees anything. But it is worth looking back on and reflecting. The 2005 Colts had a heartbreaking divisional round loss to the Steelers much like our January loss to the Packers. They played the NFC West and AFC East in back to back years like we’re about to. They lost their pro bowl running back in free agency exactly like we just did. You know what they did next?

They won the Super Bowl.

Tell us what you think about "2015 Dallas Cowboys: Feels A Lot Like Deja Vu" in the comments below. You can also email me at, 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!

  • Cowboys DJ EJ

    nvm, I got it

  • Coco™

    “: 2015 Dallas Cowboys: Feels A Lot Like Deja Vu #DallasCowboys” WORTH THE READ

  • Kevin Medina

    “: 2015 Dallas Cowboys: Feels A Lot Like Deja Vu #DallasCowboys” @S_Villa23

  • Kevin Medina

    “: 2015 Dallas Cowboys: Feels A Lot Like Deja Vu #DallasCowboys”@NVTheDank

  • Douglas Paul

    With a Return of Doomsday for the D and better protection for Romo, the Sky’s the limit!

  • Douglas Paul

    With a Return of Doomsday for the D and better protection for Romo, the Sky’s the limit!

  • Jorgen

    hahahahaha anything to give you hope. Because playing the AFC East is relevant and that’s how football works. Hahaha

Star Blog

Warts And All, Dak Prescott Shows Why It’s Not So Easy To Move On

Kevin Brady



Warts And All, Dak Prescott Shows Why It's Not So Easy To Move On

Dak Prescott was far from perfect Sunday night in Philadelphia. In fact, at times, he was downright bad.

Prescott missed two potential touchdown passes to Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup on fly routes down the sideline, and might have left points on the board when he badly missed Ezekiel Elliott in the flat in the red zone early in the game. Prescott continued to panic in the pocket a bit during the first half, and took an absolutely horrendous sack on what would end up being the Cowboys' first touchdown drive of the night.

All of this is true. All of this is indisputable.

Where things get tricky, however, is that while these flaws continue to show up in Prescott's game, so do his strengths. A particular set of strengths and skills that the can be highly valuable in today's NFL, especially if deployed correctly.

Beginning with the final drive of the first half, Dak Prescott played the type of football we've rarely seen from him over the last calendar year. He was comfortable in the pocket, seldom abandoning clean looks or running into sacks. He utilized his legs and ability to extend plays when necessary, and delivered some absolute strikes to help the Cowboys offense get into scoring range multiple times. Prescott also picked up some key third downs with his arm to answer Eagles' scoring drives, something we haven't seen from these Cowboys in quite some time.

Dak was far from perfect on Sunday night, but he did show why he is so hard to move on from. When the offensive line is clicking and Prescott can have that comfortability (that is all-too-rare in the NFL), he looks like his Rookie of the Year self. But, we all know that when things really break down, he isn't able to put the offense on his back the way the true "top" quarterbacks are.

I am a Dak Prescott fan. I'll make no mistake about it. But what do we call it when a quarterback is good enough to keep you competitive, can have wildly impressive plays/drives/games while also having wildly frustrating and bad plays/drives/games?

We call that quarterback purgatory. We call that the Cincinnati Bengals.

The only thing which separates Dak and Dallas from being in full purgatory mode, to be quite frank, is Prescott's youth. Because of that youth we can still hope that he can develop as a passer and quit being so gun-shy and timid to make tight window and anticipation throws.

But how long can a team truly wait before they become Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton losing by 30+ points at home?

It's a question which is tough for every team to answer. Dak Prescott is too good to easily replace with a random quarterback off the street, but it's hard to imagine he's good enough to get your team over the hump without significant help around him.

So, in the end, here we are. With the Cowboys at 4-5 fighting with an Alex Smith-led team for what will most likely prove to be a rather irrelevant division title.

But hey, it's always fun to win in Philly isn't it?

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Star Blog

Leighton Vander Esch Is A Stud, And Should Be For A Long Time

Kevin Brady



Leighton Vander Esch Is A Stud, And Should Be For A Long Time

The Cowboys took their fair share of heat for selecting linebacker Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. But through just over half a season, Dallas is looking vindicated in their decision.

Vander Esch was arguably the best defensive player on the field during Dallas' 27-20 win in Philadelphia Sunday night, and made the two biggest defensive plays of the game as well. Finishing with a game-high 13 tackles, Vander Esch was all over the field in both run and pass defense.

The first of his two massive plays came in the first quarter. After the Cowboys offense stalled deep in their own territory, the Eagles looked to be in prime position to strike first with a short field. On Carson Wentz' first pass attempt of the drive, however, Leighton Vander Esch was there to intercept him and return the ball back 28 yards.

Those return yards proved key as well, giving the Cowboys the short field and an easy path to their first three points of the night. And with the way their offense looked early in this game, Dallas could use all the help they could get.

The biggest play of the game, though, came late in the fourth quarter. With the Eagles facing a third and short and down seven points, they absolutely needed a conversion to keep pace with the surprisingly hot Cowboys offense. Philadelphia tried to beat Dallas with a running back screen to the backside, inviting the pass rush and getting blockers out in front.

There seemed to be nothing but blockers and green grass ahead for the Eagles on this play, with "Next Gen Stats" expecting a 22 yard gain after the catch. Then, Leighton Vander Esch eluded two blockers and tracked down the running back for a loss of 3.

Next Gen Stats on Twitter

Leighton Vander Esch made a game-saving tackle late in the 4th quarter to preserve the Cowboys 27-20 win. Corey Clement was expected to gain 22 yards after the catch (gained 3), -19 YAC Below Expectation, the most yards saved on a pass play this season. #DALvsPHI #DallasCowboys

If not for this tackle, who knows how both that Eagles' drive and the game would have ended. Vander Esch saved the day for Dallas, and forced the Eagles into a tough fourth and long situation with the game on the line.

I know it is still early in Vander Esch's career, and even relatively early in this season as well, but it's become clear the Cowboys hit a home run with their 2018 first round selection. Vander Esch is fitting in beside Jaylon Smith with ease, and with those two athletic freaks together, the Cowboys look to have one of the brightest defensive futures in all of football.

Of course, there are now legitimate questions about what the Cowboys should do with their captain Sean Lee. But as of right now, it should be Leighton Vander Esch's job to lose.

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Star Blog

Can Cowboys LB Vander Esch Do Enough to Win DROY?

Mauricio Rodriguez



LB Leighton Vander Esch Rare Bright Spot In Cowboys Disappointing Loss

At 3-5, there are very few positive things to point out when discussing the 2018 Dallas Cowboys. One of those few things has been first-round rookie Leighton Vander Esch, whose play at linebacker has taken the league by surprise. Seen as a raw talent who could develop into an elite player with time as a prospect, Vander Esch's impact on the field has been immediate.

Through nine weeks in the NFL season, the Boise State product should definitely be in the Defensive Rookie of the Year discussion. As much as Sean Lee's injury will hurt the Cowboys' defense, it will get the rookie more playing time and a big opportunity to put his name in the minds of NFL Honors voters.

Sean Lee will miss some time after re-injuring his hamstring for the second time this season. Earlier in the year, Jaylon Smith and Vander Esch were able to keep the defense from crumbling without their veteran captain. Even with all the offensive struggles, that should continue to be the case for the linebackers.

Vander Esch has only played in 65% of the Cowboys' defensive snaps, yet he's tied for ninth place in solo tackles in the entire league with 49. He's at 64 total tackles and two pass deflections and has been a magnet to opposing ball carriers every time he's been on the field.

He's the third highest graded rookie LB for Pro Football Focus. Most times, rookies find success like this by being rotational players or simply splitting snaps with other players. But as previously mentioned, Lee has already been out for a handful of games in 2018 and Vander Esch has lived up to the hype.

Simply put, Leighton's play as a rookie has already put Sean Lee's future on the Cowboys in question. With such an injury history and a two young studs ready to take over the reigns, Dallas could very well release Lee prior to the 2019 season.

Now granted, the race for Defensive Rookie of the Year will not be an easy one to win for Vander Esch. Fourth overall pick Denzel Ward has been an impressive cornerback for the Browns and fifth-overall pick Bradley Chubb has been one of the best pass rushers on Sundays. Not to mention the NFL leader in solo tackles, Colts' LB Darius Leonard.

Despite a great start to his season, the Cowboys young LB will have to play way better for his name to be called when the Defensive Rookie of the Year is revealed at the NFL Honors event in February. There are some pretty big names he has to catch up with in order to make this happen.

Tell me what you think about "Can Cowboys LB Vander Esch Do Enough to Win DROY?" 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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