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4 Reasons For Optimism About The 2018 Dallas Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Planning
AP Photo/Ron Jenkins

Now that the 2018 NFL Draft has come and gone, we can finally start looking forward to the actual 2018 season. The Dallas Cowboys finished off their 2017 campaign rather disappointingly, leading most fans to believe this is a do-or-die year for many people within the organization.

While things may seem dire to some, and the Cowboys certainly have their roster holes, I do believe there are reasons to remain optimistic about how good this team can be in 2018.

So, why not list four of said reasons?

The Running Game Is Back

By using their second round pick on offensive lineman Connor Williams the Cowboys made a statement: it's time to get back to what they do. Too often last season this running game didn't look like we all know it can, and whether it was due to injury or suspension, those problems are hopefully behind them.

The Cowboys will get their All-World running back Ezekiel Elliott for all 16 games (barring injury), and post arguably the best group of five offensive linemen in the entire league.

While there are questions about the Cowboys' receiving corps and tight end group, there should be no doubt what the identity of this team will be. And that identity in itself is cause for optimism.

Kris Richard And The New-Looked Secondary

Last offseason the Cowboys front office made changes in their secondary that many doubted, but one year in they are looking like forward-thinking geniuses because of those moves. Allowing veteran cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, as well as safeties JJ Wilcox and Barry Church, to walk in free agency was step one in revamping and rebuilding the Cowboys defense.

Now, as rookies Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods enter year two the Cowboys should see more tangible success on the field. All three had successful rookie seasons, but with extra experience and comfortability they should be improved in 2018.

Former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard will have his hands all over this secondary, and we should be excited about what they'll look like going forward.

Year Three Dak Prescott

Much of Cowboys Nation is down on Dak Prescott after a shaky end to the 2017 season, but I believe we should be optimistic about his development heading into year 3.

Prescott did things his rookie season that we have rarely ever seen, leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record, a division crown, and going toe-to-toe with Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs. Now, Prescott gets his running back for all 16 games and an improved offensive line in front of him. Dallas has also added receivers that will hopefully better fit Prescott's skill set in Michael Gallup and Allen Hurns.

We all saw what Dak looks like when things around him are clean, and they should be as clean as ever in 2018.

The Rush-Men

Last but certainly not least, we should all be excited about what this Cowboys pass rush can be.

Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence returns after his career year, and now playing under the franchise tag, he still has something to prove. Lawrence was on another level in 2017, and as long as he remains healthy, he should be incredibly productive this year.

David Irving has begun to come along as a downright beast, aiding this pass rush from the interior. Hopefully Taco Charlton will take another step forward and continue to add to his pass rushing repertoire as well.

And, of course, there is still the hope that Randy Gregory can return and be the explosive edge rusher the team is still looking for.

If all goes right, this pass rush has the chance to be among the league's best.



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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3 Comments
  • EverybodyTalks

    But…..
    * we lost Dez….therefore….the WR will stink
    * we lost Orlando….therefore….the Secondary will be worse
    * we lost Hitchens….we got some guy whose name you can’t pronounce…LB corps sucks
    * we lost Witten….MNF is up….but we have no team.

    The sky is falling…it’s Armageddon…there will be riots in the locker-room.
    Sorry. I was told I’m to much of a homer. The pessimists are trying to drag me over to the dark side.

    Great Article and have a good weekend.
    GoCowboys!

    • Roguewave1

      I’m anxious to see Rico Gathers with a ball in a defensive backfield. Don’t know if he can block a lick, but he is light years more athletic that Jason Witten.

  • Will

    Another is getting these three LB on the field together. If all three stay healthy, Lee, Smith, and LVE are going to form the best LB trio in the game

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys NFC East Title Put on Hold with Redskins Win, Shutout Loss at Colts

Sean Martin

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Cowboys NFC East Title Put on Hold with Redskins Win, Shutout Loss at Colts

For the first time since 2003, the Dallas Cowboys were shutout on Sunday at the Indianapolis Colts. Their five game winning streak snapped, the Cowboys also saw their chances at clinching the NFC East dashed before the late kickoffs. Needing both a Redskins and Eagles loss to win the division without the benefit of a win themselves, the Redskins kept their playoff hopes alive with a walk off field goal at the Jaguars.

Washington Quarterback Josh Johnson won his second start since 2013 with 151 yards and one touchdown. The Redskins aren't the only NFC East team playing with a backup QB, as the Eagles must once again rally around Nick Foles against the Rams to extend their shot at the playoffs on Sunday Night Football. 

The Cowboys certainly didn't deserve a celebration of any kind after their performance at the Colts. An emotional letdown after a win streak that featured triumphs over the Eagles twice, Redskins, and Saints, the Cowboys were slowed to a complete stop on offense while struggling fundamentally on defense.

Uncharacteristic missed tackles and lack of pressure on Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck allowed Indianapolis to turn a 10-0 halftime lead into an easy 23-0 win. Defending their home field, the Colts came out like a team still fighting for their playoff lives, while Dallas played like a team knowing two more chances at winning the division are still to come.

Instead of being able to watch and root against the Eagles tonight, the Cowboys can focus on not letting an embarrassing loss define a season that'll still end on a high note should they defeat the Buccaneers or Giants. A week 16 or 17 win automatically seals the division for the Cowboys, even with the Redskins improving to 7-7 moments before the Colts secured their shutout.

It was a masterful performance from Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus, preparing his team against Scott Linehan's offense to disrupt the momentum of one of the league's hottest teams.

Praising the Redskins for defeating a Jaguars team the Cowboys handled 40-7 much earlier in the season is hardly the situation Cowboys Nation wants to be in right now, but the team still has everything in front of them once Sunday's sixth loss is put behind them.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys NFC East Title Put on Hold with Redskins Win, Shutout Loss at Colts" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

IND 23, DAL 0: Cowboys Get Shut Out, Embarrassed by Colts

Jess Haynie

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Is Dak Prescott's Relationship with Scott Linehan Broken?

The Dallas Cowboys must think they've already won the NFC East, because they looked like a team with nothing to play for today. The result was an embarrassing 23-0 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

The Cowboys were shut out for the first time since the 2003 season, which was Jason Witten's rookie year.

Dallas squandered a major time-of-possession advantage in the first half, finishing three drives with a blocked field goal, punt, and a failed 4th-and-1 play near the Colts' goal line. Indianapolis capitalized on their own drives and took a 10-0 lead into halftime.

The Colts got the ball back to start the third quarter and drove down for another touchdown. Down 17-0, Dallas responded with a weak drive and a punt. The game felt out of reach even then, with the Cowboys just looking flat from that point forward.

Ezekiel Elliott had 87 rushing yards 41 receiving for some empty production. Amari Cooper won't be winning any awards this week, held to just four catches for 32 yards.

Dak Prescott completed 62% of his passes for 206 yards. He was sacked three times and threw a late interception; an overthrown ball got tipped by the receiver and picked off on the team's final offensive series.

While the offense was especially bad today, the defense wasn't much better. Dallas surrendered 139 yards rushing yards and two touchdown to Colts RB Marlon Mack, who hadn't had a 100-yard game since October. Andrew Luck wasn't sacked and went virtually untouched the entire day.

The Cowboys could have taken the NFC East with a win, but they didn't come close. Hopefully this serves as a wake-up call with the postseason only a few weeks away.

Other Notes

  • With the Redskins defeating the Jaguars today, Dallas will have to wait until next week to try to clinch the NFC East. The Cowboys needed losses by both Washington and Philadelphia if they didn't win themselves. The Eagles are visiting the Rams tonight.
  • The Cowboys will get some softer competition to finish the year, hosting the Buccaneers next week and then going to play the Giants in Week 17.
  • With the Bears defeating the Packers today and moving to 10-4, they will likely stay the #3 seed in the playoffs. That means Dallas, assuming they do win the NFC East, will almost certainly be hosting the 5th-seeded Seahawks in the first round.
  • Jaylon Smith led the Cowboys with 11 tackles, but neither he or Leighton Vander Esch were making the big plays that we've grown accustomed to.
  • Xavier Woods had the highlight play on defense, delivering a perfect hit to dislodge the ball from Colts TE Eric Ebron and stop a potential big gain.
  • Blake Jarin and Dalton Schultz combined for seven catches for 68 yards; another week of increased TE production from what we've seen must of the year.
  • Fullback Jamize Olawale doesn't get many opportunities on offense, and he may not get more after dropping an open touchdown on the team's second drive of the day.



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Game Notes

Cowboys Can’t Finish Drives, Trailing Colts 10-0 at Halftime

Jess Haynie

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Dak Prescott

The Cowboys have had no trouble moving the ball today, but they've failed to finish drives with points. Dallas is thus trailing the Indianapolis Colts 10-0 at halftime.

Dallas has had possession for over 19 minutes compared to just 10 for the Colts. But their three drives have ended with a blocked field goal, a failed 4th-and-1 play near the endzone, and a punt.

Ezekiel Elliott has 64 rushing yards and 23 receiving so far today. Dak Prescott has completed 12-of-19 for 106 yards, but has been sacked twice.

The offensive line continues to suffer from health issues. With Zack Martin already out and Connor Williams starting at right guard, Xavier Su'a-Filo left the game with an eye injury during the second quarter and will not return. Backup Adam Redmond is now playing.

The Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a win in any of their final three games. They could also clinch today if the Redskins and Eagles lose. Washington is trailing 10-3 in Jacksonville at halftime, and the Eagles are visiting the Rams tonight.

Hopefully, Dallas will start showing up on the scoreboard in the second half.



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