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3 Reasons Cowboys Can Make A Deep NFC Playoff Run

Kevin Brady

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Wolf Hunter: Leighton Vander Esch's Pass Coverage Skills Rising to Occasion

It seems like the whole football universe is in agreement about the Dallas Cowboys playoff future. Basically, they won't have one.

Most expect Dallas to be one-and-done, with a loss to the Seahawks Saturday night ending their season. Other more optimistic fans are hoping they could win one home playoff game before most likely traveling to New Orleans and losing on the road.

Sure, these are the most "likely" scenarios, but there was no one who believed it "likely" that a 3-5 Cowboys team could end up hosting a playoff game in the first place. So let's take a moment before the playoffs start to identify three reasons the Cowboys could shock the world over the next few weeks and find themselves in an NFC title game. Or even a Super Bowl.

Defense, Defense, Defense

This is the clear number one reason, right? If the Cowboys are going to upset the NFC's best, they'll need to play defense in a way only 1 or 2 other teams around the league have this season.

And they've already proven that they can do it.

Dallas finished the 2018 regular season top 10 in defensive DVOA, with some of their strongest performances coming against the league's best offenses. This, of course, includes their November victory over the 1-seed Saints, where they held that prolific offense to just 10 points.

Now, if there is going to be a Cowboys/Saints rematch it's going to happen at their place, where the Saints have been nearly unbeatable during the Drew Brees era. But as the old cliche goes, defense travels. Hopefully this will be the case for the Cowboys.

Dak Prescott Is Playing The Best Football Of His Career

Yes, you read that right. The often discredited quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, Dak Prescott is playing the best football of his young career. It's been an up-and-down season for Prescott, but there has been much more good than bad over the last 8 weeks.

Last Sunday against the Giants Prescott was nearly perfect, throwing for over 380 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Cowboys' 10th win of the season. Prescott always avoids turnovers, something which is critical in playoff football, and has shown the ability to use his legs in key moments as well.

If you were just ranking the top quarterbacks remaining in the playoffs in a vacuum, Prescott's name may not come up until towards the bottom of the list. But for this team and at this moment, Dak Prescott looks like a winner that could help propel the Cowboys somewhere they haven't been in quite some time.

Zig When They Zag

The popular thing in today's NFL is to create an offense that looks like that of the Chiefs; one that looks to throw the ball all over the field and avoid falling into the run-run-pass ball control type of scheme. Obviously when you have Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill, running a pass happy offense makes a lot of sense.

But for the Cowboys and their personnel, zigging when the rest of the league looks to zag might be their best strategy. The Cowboys can neutralize these high powered offenses not only with their defensive studs, but also by running the football, controlling the clock, and keeping quarterbacks like Drew Brees on the sidelines.

It may be the old school way of thinking about football, but it just might work for the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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Star Blog

DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

Kevin Brady

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DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.

The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.

After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.

So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.

What exactly is that role, though?

I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.

Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.

Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.

If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.

This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.



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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

Kevin Brady

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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.

Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.

Randall Cobb on Twitter

Randall Cobb on Twitter

https://t.co/9H9xfApFqe

In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.

This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

https://twitter.com/tae15adams/status/1108158105957920770

RJ Ochoa on Twitter

Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb

Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.



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Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Malik McDowell, Michigan State

The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.

McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.

None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.

2017 NFL Draft: Scouting Michigan State DL Malik McDowell - Slant Sports

The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.

Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?

"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.

On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."

nfldraft malik mcdowell 3

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.

nfldraft malik mcdowell 4

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.

Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.



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