As a member of Cowboys Nation, I think I can speak for everyone in saying that the 2017 season for the Dallas Cowboys has been a roller coaster ride full of emotions. This year's team has looked unstoppable in some games and completely pathetic in others. We have also had to ride out this entire Ezekiel Elliott suspension situation. It's been an interesting season so far to say the least.
Since Thanksgiving is just a few days away, I thought I would put together a list of 5 things I think Dallas Cowboys fans should be thankful for in 2017. I mean, that's what you do on Thanksgiving… Right!?
We eat too much food, visit with friends and family, and watch the Dallas Cowboys play. I know that's what my Thanksgiving has always consisted of. You?
As always, please feel free to take advantage of the comment section at the end of the article to share any of your own thoughts and opinions on the topic. But here are my points.
Dominant Offensive Line
If there is one thing about the Dallas Cowboys we should all be thankful for, it is the offensive line they have built over the past few years. The Cowboys OL is arguably the best unit in the NFL, headlined by their three Pro Bowlers, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. They are without a doubt the strength/backbone of this team.
Don't expect this unit to change much over the next several years. Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick are already locked up for the foreseeable future, and Zack Martin will likely receive an extension this off-season. And that's not even mentioning La'el Collins also received an extension recently. With the continued continuity, they could even get better.
The Cowboys probably need to find an upgrade at the left guard position, but Collins' position flex could work in their favor come draft time.
They could keep Collins at RT or move him back to LG depending on what they believe is in the best interest of the entire OL. This is great news for the Cowboys offense for years to come.
Dak Prescott is another reason the Dallas Cowboys and fans have reason to be thankful about the team on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys were extremely fortunate to find Prescott in the fourth round in 2016, because making the transition from Tony Romo at quarterback could've gone a lot worse.
Fortunately, the transition from Romo to Prescott went smoothly and Cowboys Nation couldn't be happier with their new signal caller.
Prescott isn't experiencing any kind of sophomore slump in his second year in the NFL, in fact he is putting together yet another Pro Bowl caliber season. There were those doubters out there who believed he wouldn't be able to replicate the numbers he put up as a rookie, but he's doing just that this season.
We will learn a lot about the Dallas Cowboys' young QB while Ezekiel Elliott is out, but I expect him to put the team on his back and keep them competitive. He is one of the few QBs in the league who can hurt you with his arm and his legs, and scary thing is, he will only continue to get better.
In the off-season, Owner/General Manager Jerry Jones really wanted to find the Dallas Cowboys a "War Daddy" to get after opposing QBs. Unbeknownst to him, that player was already on the roster.
DeMarcus Lawrence has been on a tear this season and has become arguably the best pass rushing defensive end in the NFL.
Now, it is a contract year for Lawrence, but don't expect the Cowboys to let him get away.
It's unlikely he receives a long-term contract just yet. They probably want to make sure that this isn't some kind of fluke performance from him and that his previous back injuries won't become an issue. That is why it is much more likely he receives the franchise tag.
Regardless of how the Cowboys keep Lawrence around, I think we can all agree that we are extremely thankful Dallas finally has a pass rusher who can dominate a game. Plus, he will only continue to get better as the Cowboys improve the talent around him on the defensive side of the ball.
DeMarcus Lawrence isn't the only defensive player to kind of come out of nowhere and become a "War Daddy" pass rusher. David Irving has become one of the better defensive tackles in the NFL and is a nightmare for interior lineman across the league. For that, I am extremely thankful.
Irving possesses unique size, speed, and agility for a DT and he uses that to his advantage.
Since returning from his four-game suspension to start the 2017 season, he has been absolutely dominant and continuously makes plays behind the line of scrimmage. He has always shown flashes of this, but has finally become consistent in his play.
Irving won't go anywhere anytime soon. He is a restricted free agent after the season, but the Cowboys will likely place a first-round tender on him to secure his services. But, they could enter into contract negotiations and lock him up for several years to come.
Heading into the 2017 season no one really knew what to expect from the Dallas Cowboys secondary after pretty much cleaning house in the off-season. The Cowboys ended up drafting not one, but four defensive backs in the 2017 NFL Draft and it looks to have paid off.
The Cowboy secondary struggled early in the season because of injuries and inexperience, but have really rounded into shape here of late.
Jourdan Lewis looks like a starting CB and Xavier Woods might have earned the starting job next to Byron Jones at safety. Unfortunately, we haven't seen much of Chidobe Awuzie because of a recurring hamstring injury, but his versatility to play several different positions will be a welcomed addition in the secondary.
The Dallas Cowboys look to have not only upgraded the secondary, but they have managed to do it in just one season. All of these young players will continue to get better the more they play and that means the future is bright for the Cowboys defense.
That's a reason to be thankful. What are you thankful for about the Dallas Cowboys?
Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPN
ESPN has long been considered "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," and for a long time that title was justified. If you wanted your national sports news, where did you turn to but the cable sports channel to watch that day's episode of SportsCenter. But over the last few years, it's become more and more clear that it's "The Worldwide Leader" in name only.
The ratings are dropping and the network has had to make a lot of business decisions as it relates to much of their on-air talent over the last several years. With their latest under 25 starting 22 -- ahem, troll job -- they seem to have finally come to terms that they are basically First Take.
Noah Brown put it best in his reaction to the ESPN "Insider" voting that led to Saquon Barkley being named to the starting 22 ahead of Ezekiel Elliott. Brown, Elliott's teammate when both were at Ohio State University, came to his defense upon seeing the list.
And here is the ESPN list:
43 of our NFL Insiders voted. Here's their best starting roster under the age of 25.
I'm sure there could be debates about different positions on the squad. Personally, quarterback is one where an argument could be made for Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott over DeShaun Watson, but that's for another time.
But to have a rookie, who has never played a down in the NFL ahead of the NFL's league leader in rushing for 2016, Ezekiel Elliott, is laughable.
The fact that they had 43, again I use the quotations, "Insiders" vote on this and Ezekiel Elliott wasn't listed as one of the two running backs just shows you how far they've come as a network.
Let's remember that Ezekiel Elliott has averaged a touchdown a game -- receiving and rushing -- in his 25-game career. No running back has more rushing yards than Elliott does over the last two years, including 2017 league rushing leader, Todd Gurley. No running back has more rushing touchdowns than Elliott's 22 rushing TDs.
Ezekiel Elliott's yards per carry is a healthy 4.63. Todd Gurley sits at 3.93. No player with more than 1,800 rushing yards over the last two years has a better yards per attempt than Ezekiel Elliott.
I get that you'd vote Todd Gurley in there, but to not have Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the game's best running back on your Under 25 starting 22 just makes you look like Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith. Not a sports journalism entity worthy of people throwing money at for "Insider" access.
I won't say that I never or will never watch ESPN, because where else am I gonna go for Monday Night Football, Todd Archer, or the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships? When I'm at my father-in-law's, I'll watch SportsCenter first thing in the morning, because it will be on and you don't change another man's television.
"The Worldwide Leader," however, loses credibility when they promote a list like this that has such a glaring omission.
Perhaps, maybe the goal wasn't to put out an accurate list. Maybe the goal was to get us talking about their list, just like when NFL Network releases their Top 100 players list. Like they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.
This troll job from ESPN has certainly gotten them some publicity, or should I say, notoriety.
Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp
The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.
From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.
Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.
Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.
They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.
Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:
Cowboys, Elliott Should Keep Close Tabs on Le’Veon Bell’s Situation
The deadline for reaching an agreement with franchise tagged players came to an end last Monday, in what turned out to be a pretty uneventful day all around the league. No agreement was reached by any of the teams with their respective players, including the Dallas Cowboys and their promising "War Daddy," DeMarcus Lawrence.
But the Cowboys' front office have something to learn in this process that doesn't involve a player of their own. Something that both the front office and Ezekiel Elliott should be keeping a close eye on.
The Pittsburgh Steelers also failed to secure their franchise tagged player: Running Back Le'Veon Bell. Really, no one expected a deal to be reached among the two parties. The 26-year old football super star is asking for too much money, which has led to the Steelers tagging him twice in consecutive years.
Bell, conscious of his abilities on the field, is asking for a lot of money from his football team. In 2018, he's set to earn over $14.5M under the tag. That's more than twice the money that Devonta Freeman averages per year - 8.25 million - who's next on the list of highest paid running backs in the league and the highest paid on a long-term contract.
Just to clarify: Steelers' offer to Le'Veon Bell last year averaged $13.3 million per year. Steelers' offer to him this year averaged $15 million per year. But Bell does not believe he should be paid as a RB; he believes he should be paid as an elite offensive weapon.
Le'Veon, whose agent has said 2018 will likely be his last season playing as a Steeler, was reportedly offered $15M per year but that wasn't enough for him. Bell wants to get paid as an elite offensive weapon, which he is. But it turns out he's also... a running back.
It's a complicated situation and one that, if it turns out well for him in free agency next year, could revolutionize the entire running back market in the NFL. If it doesn't, he might end up regretting passing on the Steelers' offer for he won't easily find that kind of money with a team that seems to be a Super Bowl contender on a yearly basis.
The Dallas Cowboys' priorities will rely on other players during the next couple of years, but that shouldn't keep them from keeping close tabs on these events since they could be dealing with a similar scenario when Ezekiel Elliott's turn for a new deal comes around.
Fairly assuming that the fifth year option on Zeke's contract will be picked up after the 2018 season, locking him up through 2020, it's a problem that will be down the road for the Cowboys. But it will have to be dealt with at some point.
When his time is up, Elliott should undoubtedly be looking to become the highest-paid in the game, but the amount of money he gets will depend on the outcome of this whole Le'Veon-Steelers thing. David Johnson and Todd Gurley will also play an important role in determining the future of the running back market.
While Elliott hasn't been used as a receiving threat during his first two seasons in the league, he's still an elite offensive weapon for the Cowboys. The team's offense is based around Zeke and the running game, so it will make sense if his demands are somewhat similar from those by Bell.
Elliott might even be franchise tagged once or twice by the Cowboys if things get complicated in the future. Unlike DeMarco Murray in 2014, surely they won't be willing to let him walk in free agency once his contract comes to an end.
For now, it won't be just the Cowboys who will be keeping close tabs on this situation, but also Ezekiel Elliott and his agent. Hopefully, both parties will manage to handle things better than what we're seeing right now in Pittsburgh.
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