In 2014, we didn’t have much expectations for the Dallas Cowboys. Analysts and fans thought they could become one of the worst defenses in the history of the NFL. Some were even calling them to end the season with only four wins. Then the Cowboys ignored every expectation and won 12 games, the NFC East title, and beat the Detroit Lions in the Wildcard round. Even though they were defeated by the Packers in the Divisional Round (The catch-no catch will forever be an argument), it was an amazing season for such terrible expectations.
In 2015, we had big expectations for Dallas, but after Tony Romo got hurt, and Dez Bryant too, they faded week after week until finally they ended the season with only four wins. We had to go through the terrible Brandon Weeden/Matt Cassel/Kellen Moore carousel, and it was the worst season I’ve ever seen in my whole life.
But Things Were Different In 2016
Heading into the first game of the regular season, most of us didn’t know what to expect. There was this young rookie who had played a pretty good preseason at quarterback. With help from the fourth overall pick, Ezekiel Elliott, we all had hopes that Dakota Rayne Prescott would win a fair share of games before Romo's return.
The season began with a tough loss against the New York Giants, but even after that, we weren't that sad; we were hopeful. So we moved on, and so did the Cowboys.
The Cowboys' 11-Win Streak
Last year, after Tony Romo went down versus the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys lost seven straight games."The Streak" that year was something bad. This year though, things were different.
It didn't look like much at first. The Cowboys had beaten the Washington Redskins, the Chicago Bears, and the San Francisco 49ers, and suddenly were 3-1 under Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, who had built upon his impressive performance during the preseason. The next games were tough. "This week the Cowboys face their first real test," the media said before the Cowboys dominated the Cincinnati Bengals in a home game, beating them 28-14.
They said the same when Dak & Co. traveled to Lambeau Field. I'd dare say this was the game where the Dallas Cowboys made their first statement.
Dak Prescott threw his first career interception but made it right, throwing for 247 yards and three touchdowns, including one great drive just before the first half ended. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 157 yards against the then number one rush defense. The Cowboys won the game 30-16, and it was when the streak began to be something real.
The Tony Romo vs. Dak Prescott debate was at full speed when the Cowboys hosted the Eagles in possibly the best Sunday Night of the season, but that didn't matter to the team.
This game was a huge deal. The first Carson Wentz/Dak Prescott match-up ever.
The Cowboys started slow; Dak was shaky, the team drew a lot of penalties, and for a moment it looked like they were going to lose the game. Late in the game, Dallas rallied. With the help of Chris Jones and his infamous fake punt run and a settled-in Dak Prescott, they were able to get the game to overtime. They finally end the game with a Romo-esque scramble by the rookie before tossing TD pass to Jason Witten.
And The Streak Lived On
One week later America's Team -- now with a 8-1 record -- had its way at Cleveland, beating the Browns 35-10 in a game where we even got to watch Mark Sanchez throw a pass. A week later they played in another thriller against the Pittsburgh Steelers. This was their "real test," something people seemed to say every single week the Cowboys played a football game.
The game turned into a shootout between one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, Ben Roethlisberger, and the sensational rookie Dak Prescott.
In what was probably the most exciting 45 seconds of the season, Big Ben faked a spike and threw a touchdown pass to Antonio Brown for the lead. With 15 seconds remaining Dallas was in field goal range, but the offensive line decided to give Zeke the game-winning touchdown by blocking the Steelers' front seven and clearing the way.
The Streak Kept Going
The Cowboys kept rolling. Ezekiel Elliott beat another then #1 rush defense in the NFL. Dak posted another 300-yard performance along with three touchdowns. Later that week, Tony Romo spoke to the media for the first time since August.
Tony Romo held a press conference, one I'll never forget and I'm sure no Cowboys fan will.
He talked about the whole situation and how Dak Prescott earned the right to be the Dallas Cowboys quarterback. It was the classiest of acts. Tony said he didn't plan to be a distraction for the team, and he put an end to the media distraction that for weeks had discussed the QB controversy in Dallas.
It was hard to watch because, at the end of it all, it was the end of an era. Young fans like me had never really seen another quarterback leading this team. But it was the right thing to do, and we'll never forget it.
The Cowboys won another close offensive shootout against the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving, then headed to Minnesota to face a pretty tough defense on Thursday Night Football. It was a bad game with lots of penalties and mistakes by the offense. The Cowboys got away with a win, which didn't seem so important, but it really was. The Cowboys proved they could win in situations where the offense wasn't working like it should. Being able to win ugly games is an important thing in January.
A week later, Dallas got their second loss of the season, against the same team as the first... the New York Giants swept them.
It was sad, sure, but we were still atop the division, so it wasn't that bad. The defense played great and Anthony Brown even got his first career interception. A lot of questions were raised about this offense and some people even started the Romo vs. Prescott debate again.
Dak hushed all this talk by beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the second highest completion percentage in NFL history, with the help of an amazing performance by Ezekiel Elliott.
This offense was suddenly back on track.
2016 Has Been One Hell Of A Season For Cowboys Fans
Sitting one win away from clinching the NFC East title, a first round bye, home field advantage, and the #1 seed in the NFC, the Eagles did us a favor last night.
They beat the Giants and saved the Cowboys the trouble of having to win at least one of their last two games. When your hated rivals -- the Eagles -- give you the #1 seed by winning a game, you got to ask yourself: How amazing has this season been?
Two rookies who have become super stars have led our team, the Dallas Cowboys, to a 12-2 record. Some wins have been dominant, some have been thrillers. Jason Garret is the front-runner for the Coach of the Year award. Zeke is in the conversation for MVP, and with two games left the Cowboys have nothing else to fight for in the regular season.
But the best part of it all? The Dallas Cowboys are just getting started.
What are your favorite memories from this Dallas Cowboys 2016 season?
Did a Year Away Help Rejuvenate TE Jason Witten’s Game?
Jason Witten is 37 years old, retired from the NFL after the completion of 2017 season to try his luck as an announcer in the booth, but has now decided to come out of retirement to rejoin the Dallas Cowboys? It seems a little unrealistic to think he can come back after a year away from the game and pick up where he left off, but it sounds as if he's like a Phoenix rising from the ashes.
Jason Witten has been the talk of Dallas Cowboys OTA practices so far. These practices are unpadded and basically just an opportunity to do install some of the offensive and defensive plays, but that doesn't make them any less important. One of the things that has been somewhat surprising though is how talked up the future Hall of Famer has become.
Here is what Head Coach Jason Garrett had to say recently about Jason Witten's return:
“Yeah, absolutely. He’s been excited about every part of it ever since I met him and that hasn’t changed,” coach Jason Garrett said. “The work that he’s done in the weight room in the off-season program has been outstanding. His testing numbers and all of that are what they’ve been or even better. And he just has an unbelievable way about him. Tremendous passion for the game. And he demonstrates that every day. Witt looks good. He’s excited to be back and we’re certainly fortunate to have him back.”
The main thing that stands out from Garrett's quote to me is how Jason Witten looks just as good, if not better after not playing at all in 2018. To think that his testing numbers are possibly even better is unfathomable. We typically don't see NFL players in their mid-30s retire from the game and then return just as good, or maybe even better than they were before.
Maybe that's just what Jason Witten is, a little inhuman. Maybe he's found the secret to turning the clock back just a little bit. Or, maybe he found the fountain the youth and didn't tell anybody. Regardless, there's no doubt Witten will be a welcomed addition to the Cowboys offense, especially if he's gained a step.
I don't know about all of you, but I'm hoping the year away from the game did him some good. I honestly thought he made the right decision to retire prior to the 2018 season. It just looked like father time was catching up to him in 2017. But, hopefully all he needed was a little time away from the grind he's been putting his body through for over a decade.
Whatever he's done hasn't gone unnoticed though. Even Quarterback Dak Prescott has noticed and said he's on to Witten's scheme.
“I guess the trick is to take a year off because he’s definitely gotten better, stronger and faster,” Prescott said. “He hasn’t lost a step.”
I'm not afraid to admit I wasn't too excited to see Witten come out of retirement and rejoin the Cowboys at first. I was skeptical he could be the player he once was after a year away from the game. But, all of this talk about him looking as good as he once was, perhaps better, has me really looking forward to seeing him on the field once again.
Do you think a year away has rejuvenated Jason Witten's game?
Cowboys en Español: El Verdadero Cambio en La Ofensiva
Los Dallas Cowboys tuvieron un interesante 2018. La ofensiva dejo mucho que desear toda la primera mitad de la temporada cuando carecían de un receptor número uno. No fue hasta media temporada cuando consiguieron a Amari Cooper de los Oakland Raiders, que la ofensiva comenzó a verse realmente amenazante. Siendo sinceros, el cuerpo de receptores de los Cowboys lucía muy débil al inicio y Michael Gallup aún no conseguía mucho tiempo de juego en el emparrillado. Incluso una vez en el equipo, a pesar de las grandes hazañas de Cooper en Dallas, la ofensiva no terminó de dar el siguiente paso.
Sí, con Amari en el equipo vimos un equipo de Cowboys que movía constantemente las cadenas e incluso se convirtió en una de las mejores unidades en tercera oportunidad en la liga, pero no fue suficiente. Los problemas en zona roja persistieron y continuamos viendo una selección de jugadas muy cuestionable semana tras semana.
Es por eso que al finalizar la temporada, la administración de los Cowboys finalmente tomó una decisión muy anticipada. El entonces coordinador ofensivo, Scott Linehan, fue despedido.
En cuanto a talento, los Dallas Cowboys no verán un cambio mayor en su ofensiva. Cole Beasley, uno de los mejores WR slot en la NFL, firmó con los Buffalo Bills durante la agencia libre. A pesar de la llegada de Randall Cobb, la ofensiva probablemente extrañará bastante a Beasley. Además está el regreso de Jason Witten al campo, quien se repartirá el balón mucho con los jóvenes del equipo, principalmente con Blake Jarwin. Por último, Travis Frederick podría estar de regreso como el centro titular. Fuera de eso, no se anticipan cambios de jugadores en la ofensiva.
Y a pesar de esto, la afición de los Cowboys espera ver un cambio grande entre la ofensiva del 2018 y la de 2019. Si las cosas salen bien, así será. Pero más que por el talento del equipo, que ya está ahí y es un muy buen talento, deberá ser por el hombre al mando.
Kellen Moore ha tomado las riendas como el nuevo coordinador ofensivo y finalmente podremos ver su potencial. Muchos han criticado a Moore, en gran parte por nunca haber sido un quarterback exitoso en la NFL. Sin embargo, hay muchas razones por las cuales deberíamos estar emocionados.
Desde que Moore salió de la universidad de Boise State, se le veía como un prospecto muy inteligente. Incluso analistas como Jon Gruden (en ese entonces conductor del programa de ESPN Gruden's QB Camp) mencionaban que Moore probablemente no sería un gran mariscal, pero que tenía la mente de un coach.
En Boise, Moore trabajaba con la ofensiva del actual coach de los Washington Huskies, Chris Petersen. Esta ofensiva es una muy complicada que le exige al mariscal saber casi tanto como un jugador profesional. Muchos han descrito a Moore como un genio ofensivo que será un gran coach en el futuro.
Para los Cowboys, Kellen Moore será una pieza clave en 2019. Si vemos una ofensiva realmente diferente, será gracias a su creatividad y filosofía que implementa a un grupo bastante talentoso en Dallas. Los jugadores están ahí, ¿sabrá el coordinador ofensivo de 30 años aprovecharlos?
NFL to Study Marijuana Use, Will It Impact Randy Gregory’s Status?
The NFLPA and the NFL have reached an agreement to research alternative pain-management tools for the players. They'll form joint medical committees to study different strategies, among which will be the use of marijuana. It's important to make it clear that said committees will not be exclusively about marijuana, but a lot of different issues related to pain-management in the league. However, it'll likely be one of the most important aspects of their work.
Marijuana continues to be a highly debated topic and it's no different when discussing the NFL. Dallas Cowboys fans should be very familiar with the situation. Earlier this year, David Irving "quit" on football during an Instagram live stream while smoking weed. In the video, Irving talks about how he thinks it's better to be addicted to marijuana rather than certain medications used by NFL teams to treat their players.
Although David Irving is not an authority on substances, that is where all of this debate centers around. Throughout the league, players are given strong medication to deal with injuries and the physical pain of playing pro football. I'm not an expert either, but it's more than fair to say there's a strong argument here. Specially in a country where marijuana has already been legalized in 10 states and the trend points toward legalization continuing.
The current CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) between the NFL and NFLPA will expire after the 2020 season and how the league's drug policy looks like in the new agreement will be a huge factor for reaching a satisfactory CBA for both sides.
Of course, the fact that the NFLPA and the league are working together on such an important task doesn't mean we will see any immediate changes or that the NFL's ban on marijuana will be lifted anytime soon. Many big question marks will have to be answered before we hear about teams implementing this substance as a pain management tool.
For the Dallas Cowboys, this will be a relevant narrative down the line. Pass rusher Randy Gregory was reinstated after serving an indefinite suspension due to substance abuse prior to the 2018 season. After a dominant year, Gregory was suspended again by the NFL and it all points toward him sitting out this upcoming season and perhaps even more.
Even still, the Cowboys are still standing behind their 2015 second round pick. If the league ends up lifting its ban on marijuana, they'll have to decide what they will do with players already serving a suspension for this reason. Guys like Randy Gregory, for instance. If it's decided they'll be reinstated to the NFL, the Cowboys will sure be glad to have supported Gregory all throughout the process.
Last year, the pass rusher proved how effective he could be even with a short period of time training. Hopefully, the Cowboys are able to get him back on the field eventually, where's been consistently dominant. In the meantime, we'll see how recently acquired Robert Quinn does in Dallas.
The NFL won't be lifting its ban anytime soon, but it's good to know they're at least open minded to changing the league's policy and consider alternatives that could benefit the players' health. We'll see how these new medical committees work and keep you updated here at Inside The Star.
Player News1 week ago
Leighton Vander Esch Graded Best Rookie Linebacker Since 2014
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Kicker Matt Bryant Should Be the Final Piece of Cowboys 2019 Offseason
Star Blog2 weeks ago
QB Dak Prescott Already Impressing New Offensive Coaches
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Way-too-early 2019 Dallas Cowboys 53-man Roster Projection
Dallas Cowboys6 days ago
What Could June 1st Mean for 2019 Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Despite Perception, Dallas Cowboys had an Excellent Offseason
Dallas Cowboys4 days ago
Why Cowboys Should Make Signing RB Jay Ajayi a Top Priority
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Depth Chart, Pre-Training Camp