After a loss, it's really easy to look for all the reasons that a team can't do something. If you read or listen to many in Cowboys Nation you'd think that we've reached the last quarter of the season and the Dallas Cowboys have been eliminated.
That's not the truth of the situation though. They've played three games and while the offense has looked stagnant for most of those three games, there are things that we can look at and find a bit of hope for this season and the future.
Hot Boyz Destructive
The Dallas Cowboys have a defense that has shown capable of taking over a game as they showed in week two against the New York Giants. In their loss to the Carolina Panthers, they showed that even when the offense wasn't playing well, they could keep the game close long enough for the offense to have a shot at getting back into the game.
Week three was a different story as the Seattle Seahawks were able to do something Carolina and New York weren't able to do; hit big plays in the passing game.
They'll be without Sean Lee for an indeterminate amount of time, but they'll also be getting back a fresh on Monday after he serves the final game of his suspension this Sunday. He's a wrecking ball in the middle of the Dallas defense. Putting him on a line that now sits second in the NFL in sacks.
Byron Jones has asserted himself as one of the better corner backs in the NFL. Leighton Vander Esch has been really good in his rookie season, who now leads the Dallas Cowboys in tackles.
The Dallas Cowboys have really good players at all three levels of the defense. If they can correct some of the zone mishaps, particularly from their safeties, the Dallas Cowboys will have a defense that will cause problems for every team remaining on their schedule.
This defense is capable of helping the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs and will keep games close until the offense figures it out.
Superstar Capable of Carrying the Load
Ezekiel Elliott is the best offensive skill player that the Dallas Cowboys have. He had an up and down game on Sunday where he ran for 127 yards on 16 carries and at the same time had several drops and mental miscues that ended drives.
He's a great player that can carry your offense if he doesn't have the lapses that he had on Sunday. Ezekiel Elliott is leading the NFL in rushing through the first three weeks despite only carrying the football 48 times.
Among players with at least 22 carries so far this season, only Christian McCaffrey's 5.9 yards per attempt are better than Ezekiel Elliott's 5.7.
The Cowboys coaching staff appeared to make a better effort to get Ezekiel Elliott the ball and he had opportunities for big plays after the catch, but again the mental lapses hurt him and the team. I don't think that's something that will happen again.
This week when facing the media, Elliott took responsibility for his part in the team's 24-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He's a better player when thrown the ball than what he showed on Sunday and I think given the opportunities again, Ezekiel Elliott will rise to the occasion.
When you have a player as capable of taking a game over as Elliott is, then you have a chance to win a lot of football games. If the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff doesn't shy away from giving him opportunities, then the Cowboys could find themselves in the playoff race at the end of the season.
13 Games Remaining
In a league where there are only 16 games in the regular season, teams don't have many opportunities to send a message about who they are as a football team. After three weeks, many would argue that what we've seen is who they are.
The reality of the situation is there is a lot of football left to be played.
At 1-2, the Dallas Cowboys are still in the thick of the NFC East race, sitting just a game back. The Los Angeles Rams are the only undefeated team in the NFC at 3-0 and so the Dallas Cowboys are only two games back of one team at the moment.
Sure, the deficiencies in the passing game are troubling and it's looking more and more likely that this is who the Dallas Cowboys are in the passing game. Yet, the possibility remains that they turn it around and begin playing much more efficient football through the air.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
I've been guilty of it too, but we need to be careful not to live in a world where we blow from one extreme to another. Yes, the Dallas Cowboys have some things to work on, but they still have some areas where we can feel positive about this team, even if it's only a sliver of optimism.
Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?
It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.
Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.
A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.
Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.
First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:
- Earl Thomas
- Landon Collins
- Lamarcus Joyner
- Tyrann Mathieu
- Adrian Amos
- Clayton Geathers
- Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
- Glover Quinn
- Tre Boston
- Kenny Vaccaro
- George Iloka
- Jimmie Ward
- Adrian Phillips
Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.
With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.
Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.
Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.
The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.
Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?
Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors
What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.
Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?
As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.
Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.
Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.
That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.
However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.
Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.
Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.
The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.
Just something to think about...
2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back
To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.
As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.
Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.
These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.
Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.
Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.
Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.
Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.
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