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?
Will DeMarcus Lawrence Be Franchise Tagged Again in 2019?
The deadline for extending players under the franchise tag has come and gone last Monday, in a day in which none of the remaining tagged players reached an agreement with their respective teams. That includes Dallas Cowboy Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, who's set to earn $17M in 2018.
The front office and the 26-year old defensive end failed to agree to a new contract before the season's start, but we saw that coming. After all, there was never a point in which we had the classic "X player and his team are close to a new deal" headline.
All of this makes the future of the Cowboys' promising "War Daddy" very uncertain. What lies a head of the player that put on an impressive show in 2018?
Since 2017 was Lawrence's breakout year, racking up 14.5 sacks trough the season, we have leaned towards the narrative of last season being his only good one. His performance last season was impressive and clearly his best one yet, but we tend to overlook 2015.
In his sophomore season, the only other year in which he has played 16 games, he finished the campaign with eight sacks and 35 tackles (55 combined). Really, the idea of 2017 being his only good year is not as accurate as we might think.
That being said, I think it's more likely that we see another great year from him this upcoming season than seeing a disappointing one. This, of course, will end up being the main thing that determines his future in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys front office really took a risk by tagging Lawrence this offseason. #90 was reportedly asking for an average of $17M per year in his long-term contract, which is Olivier Vernon kind of money.
So what if he puts a similar season or an even better one? Lawrence and his agent could end up asking for even more money. Perhaps in the 18 or 20 million dollars per year range. If that ends up being the case, the team will find itself in a tough position when trying to reach an agreement with its promising pass rusher.
Which leads us to the possibility of seeing the Cowboys franchise tagging Lawrence for the second consecutive season. Dallas will already be negotiating a contract extension with QB Dak Prescott, and things will get complicated. Even more if they decide to pursue a big-time free agent in March, such as Earl Thomas.
It would make sense, from a financial perspective, to hand the tag twice in consecutive years to D-Law. However, it shouldn't be the priority. If he plays like he did in 2017, the front office will be more than wise to extend him for good.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Cowboys will have approximately $50.6M. Seemingly, the team's cap woes will be over soon.
Fortunately, Lawrence didn't become a headache by threatening to holdout for offseason programs and even training camp. However, don't expect that to happen if he finds himself under the tag next year.
Careers in the NFL are short, so DeMarcus will surely want to get paid. If he keeps it up, he'll deserve it. As much as he deserves it, though, football is a cold business. If the Jones need to tag him, they will.
Do you think the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence in 2019?
Without Looming Suspension, RB Ezekiel Elliott Should Shine In 2018
NFL Films typically does a good job of exposing some truths around NFL teams. Whether through "Hard Knocks" or Amazon's new "All or Nothing" series, these documentaries do an excellent job of giving fans an inside look of their favorite teams.
If anything was revealed through the Cowboys' All or Nothing series on their 2017 season, it's that Ezekiel Elliott's suspension weighed heavy on his mind all year.
The Pro Bowl running back did not look, act, or play like himself while awaiting decision on his incoming suspension. And, once it was finally announced he would serve the six games, the entire team collapsed in Atlanta.
Despite the clear and detrimental effects Elliott's suspension had on the Cowboys' season, Zeke still put up more-than-respectable numbers; rushing for almost 1,000 yards and averaging a league leading 98.3 yards per game.
Now, Ezekiel Elliott enters a season with no doubts about his own availability. Scott Linehan gets to coach an offense that knows they will have their best player for the entire season barring major injury. And, Jason Garrett can lead his team without addressing questions about Elliott's future day in and day out.
Of course, these effects aren't quantifiable. We can't sit here and say that without the pressure of court appearances and suspensions that Elliott will be worth "X" amount of more yards and "Y" more touchdowns.
But I do believe we can say, without question, that playing with a clear mind and without a looming suspension will breed the type of production we saw from Zeke his rookie year.
We can say that Elliott has had a weight lifted off his shoulders, and could be looking for revenge on a league he feels did him wrong.
And, for the Cowboys sake, I hope this is true. Because they are going to need Ezekiel Elliott to be even better than he ever has been if they hope to make a run at the Super Bowl in 2018.
Cowboys en Español: El Regreso de Randy Gregory
A sólo días de que los Dallas Cowboys aterricen en Oxnard, California para dar inicio a su training camp como todos los años, el equipo recibió excelentes noticias respecto a la selección de segunda ronda del 2015: Randy Gregory. Después de pasar todo el 2017 suspendido, el ala defensiva ha sido oficialmente reintegrado por la NFL.
Gregory, quien tuvo muchos problemas debido al uso de marihuana, ha pasado los últimos meses rehabilitándose para poder volver a vestir la estrella y volver al emparrillado. Los Cowboys, quienes siempre apoyaron a su joven jugador, sin duda estarán felices de verlo de vuelta en el equipo por motivos más allá que el football americano.
Sin duda alguna, antes de estar emocionados y felices por verlo en el campo intimidando a quarterbacks rivales, deberíamos estar alegres por el logro personal de Randy como un ser humano. Realmente hizo un esfuerzo consciente en un lugar en el que muchos se hubieran rendido y dejado sus sueños de ser parte de la NFL. Pero no lo hizo, y ahora, todos sus esfuerzos han valido la pena.
El siguiente paso en su lista por-hacer, es volver al campo y poco a poco, ganarse su puesto en el equipo y después, la titularidad. La última vez que vimos a Gregory en el campo, fue contra Philadelphia, en el final de temporada del 2016.
En este juego, Gregory mostró muchos destellos de lo que sería capaz de hacer semana tras semana en la liga y porque valió la pena nunca dejarlo ir, lo cual no hubiera tenido sentido hacer, dado que los Cowboys no les costaba nada (literalmente) mantenerlo en el equipo.
Sean Martin escribió un artículo recientemente en el que analiza este partido a fondo.
El potencial de Gregory es inmenso, suficiente incluso, para aventurarse a decir que se convertirá en el defensive end (ala defensiva) derecho antes de lo esperado. El reto más grande para el jugador de 25 años será regresar a una condición física óptima para la NFL.
Afortunadamente, a diferencia del 2016, Gregory no estará regresando a media temporada. Su llegada toma lugar justo a tiempo para el training camp, dándole tiempo para regresar a la forma en la que tiene que estar.
Una vez ahí, ¿qué tanto le tomará ganarse un rol más importante que el de Tyrone Crawford y Taco Charlton? A pesar de que prácticamente no lo hemos visto jugar en Dallas, sabemos el potencial que tiene para convertirse en un defensivo de suma importancia para los Cowboys.
Un año después de ver la mejor temporada en la carrera de DeMarcus Lawrence, los Cowboys tendrán el potencial de una estrella similar en el lado derecho de su línea defensiva. Gregory tiene una montaña que escalar para cumplir las expectativas de los aficionados, pero no será una sorpresa si lo logra.
Vaya, no olvidemos que si no fuera por sus problemas fuera del campo, hubiera sido seleccionado en el Top 10 del Draft del 2015. Tiene el potencial de conseguir diez sacks por temporada.
Con un poco de suerte, no nos equivocaremos en tenerle fe al jugador que ha tenido un gran viaje para llegar a este punto. El punto de ponerse el casco e ir a trabajar con su equipo.
Incluso si sólo llega a ser un jugador de rotación, sin duda será importante para el éxito del equipo. Entre DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Randy Gregory y el resto del talento que los Cowboys tienen en la línea defensiva, el equipo podría tener un frente de muy buena calidad.
Star Blog2 weeks ago
4 Decisions That Could Shape Cowboys 2018 Season
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Ex-Giants Coach Ben McAdoo Talks Trash About Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys4 days ago
Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPN
Star Blog1 week ago
Would Trading La’el Collins for Earl Thomas Make Sense?
Star Blog1 week ago
True or False: Sifting Through the Cowboys Trade Rumors
Dallas Cowboys4 days ago
What’s Left for Cowboys to Offer in Deal for Earl Thomas?
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Kris Richard Allows Cowboys to be Patient on Earl Thomas
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Who Replaces Dez Bryant as Cowboys Red Zone Threat?