Forgive the blatant clichéd to death Charles Dickens rip off, but honestly I don't think there is a play on words that I've heard that better describes the Cowboys of the last 3 years. I touched on this briefly in my last contribution; thus far in 3 games, we have seen every aspect of the Cowboys wow us, be it the running game, the passing game, special teams, rush defense, pass defense, etc. But, we have not seen it all happen at the same time! The one scenario that I did not cover, though, was when the Cowboys do all show up at the same time, only not for the entire game. To be more specific, the Cowboys in the 1st half compared to the 2nd half were two different teams against the Panthers Monday night. It happened last year against the Bengal’s, only the Cowboys fired on all cylinders in the first half, but seem to become content with their lead in the 2nd. The point is, yes, I'm happy the Cowboys were able to pull their collective heads out of their butt and win (I even told those who would listen in my close proximity at the bar I was at that the Cowboys were going to come back), but as a fan who would like to see this team go to the Super Bowl, I was not impressed.
Granted, the Eagles were playing the Chiefs, but they won that game the way a good team wins - convincingly (and that with their back-up QB and rookie RB). The Giants against the Bucs: Is there any question who got dominated in that game?
And yet, the Cowboys in every game have made the game look closer than what it should be. I walked away from week 1 thinking watch out for those Bucs. Three games down and I'm not so sure. I walked away from week 2 thinking, well, at least, the Giants didn't blow us out; there something there to build on and improve upon. And then coming into week 3 I heard a familiar statement that I hadn't heard since 2008: "The Cowboy's have a nasty habit of playing to the talent level of their opponent," and it really hit me hard, because this was shortly after my last contribution. It all makes sense now. The question left is, who is at fault?
Honestly, I'm leaning towards Wade Phillips. There is another cliché that often is used in regards to the Cowboys: A team takes on the personality of their coach! Now let's imagine Wade gets in a fight and let's say he is actually winning. Which of the following sounds more like Wade's approach in finishing off his opponent: He keep's swinging until someone pulls him off or he knocks the guy down, but then being the nice guy that he is, reaches down to help him up, dusting off his pants and hoping that his adversary has had enough?
Now let's look at a few teams that have had success over the last few years and apply that same question to their coach:
Steelers - Mike Tomlin - He keeps swinging
Patriots - Bill Belichick - He keeps swinging
Eagles - Andy Reid - He keeps swinging
Giants - Tom Coughlin - He may have to stop to take his heart medication, but by God, he'll keep swinging.
This is not a criticism of the players coach. The players coach can have success; there have been plenty in the history of football. In fact, watching the chemistry that Mike Tomlin has with his players, I'd describe him as a players coach. This is about identity and it is a universal concept that extends beyond the borders of football.
As an adolescent growing up, if you wanted a reputation that you were not to be messed with, it wasn't enough to throw the punch that ended the fight; there will always be another who will take a chance at the title. You had to end it and make who ever tested you regret it and it had be done in such a manner that sent a message to any other potential contenders, hospital stay being the ultimate statement.
In life, it is no longer good enough to do your job. There are too many people out there without a job who are over qualified to do your job and yet are willing to do it for the lack of anything better. No, you have to keep swinging until you make your self irreplaceable.
In your marriage, it is not nearly good enough to say you love your spouse; you have to show through action that you love them. The same principle applies to your children and family.
I hate this, because I want to like Wade and, furthermore, I want to believe that 2009 could still be the Cowboys year to go to the Super Bowl. But unless this team finds someone different within the organization to emulate, I have my doubts.
Cowboys DE Dorance Armstrong Could Be Needed Quickly
The Dallas Cowboys are stronger at defensive end than they've been in some time, but they still lack a specific type of pass rusher. Rookie Dorance Armstrong may be able to fill that role, giving him an early opportunity to contribute that many mid-round rookies can't find.
While DeMarcus Lawrence has become a beast and Taco Charlton is expected to do more as a second-year player, they are both better suited to play on the left side. It is that right side DE, the athletic type who can take on NFL left tackle, that the Cowboys haven't had since DeMarcus Ware left.
It was supposed to be Randy Gregory, but we all know the issues he's dealt with the last three years. His reinstatement request to the league is expected to go through, but even then we can't be sure the type of player he will be.
If Gregory isn't still the talent that Dallas hoped for in 2015, the next man up just might be Armstrong. He is a raw talent, still undersized for consistent NFL defensive end work, but he has the natural agility and style of play that best suits the weak-side rusher.
Veteran Kony Ealy is more like Lawrence and Charlton, bigger and more suited from the strong side. Another option, Charles Tapper, has yet to prove he can get through a single game without injury.
Rookies have not had a hard time finding early work in Dallas lately.
Obviously, it didn't take Quarterback Dak Prescott long to make an immediate impact. We've also seen the same from Cornerbacks Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown, Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins, and Safety Xavier Woods.
With the difficulties that guys like Gregory and Tapper may have getting back into football shape, Armstrong could have a leg up in training camp. The Cowboys won't hesitate to give him the work if he's the best man for the job, regardless of draft status or tenure.
These new look, new era Dallas Cowboys are all about meritocracy, so Dorance Armstrong could rise quickly if he performs. It would make for a nice immediate return on a fourth-round pick.
CB Jourdan Lewis Addresses “All Or Nothing” Scene With Dez Bryant
When the newest season of Amazon's All or Nothing featuring the Dallas Cowboys came out, people immediately were drawn to one scene in particular.
That scene featured then veteran Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant and rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis, as they battled it out all day in practice. Lewis and Bryant were in each others ears, as Lewis wanted to make it known to Bryant that he isn't the same type of corner he's used to seeing in practice.
Jourdan Lewis was asked to give his side of the story recently, and DallasCowboys.com recorded his response. The following video is courtesy of "Ed It Channel" on YouTube.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
Lewis addressed rumors that the rivalry was "fake" or staged due to the fact that Bryant knew that Lewis was mic'ed up. He says that the competition was organic, and that when put on the field with each other their competition improved both of their play.
Dez Bryant is gone now, but hopefully the Cowboys will be able to replace that competitiveness on the practice field and allow for tempers to flare from time to time.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott Embraces Lack of No. 1 Wide Receiver
As I wrote exactly a week ago, in discussion of maligned Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Terrance Williams:
"...this won't be the first look we have at the status of the Cowboys receivers. I'm already on record having high expectations for Michael Gallup, and believe Cedrick Wilson was one of the steals of the draft for the Cowboys in the sixth round. The unproven nature of this pass catching unit (through to TE with rookie Dalton Schultz) is going to make for fascinating training camp battles, competing for spots in an offense that could still be one of the league's best".
Here we are again, with an emerging leadership voice of the Cowboys speaking about his wide receivers. Dak Prescott told Pro Football Talk that he, "doesn't know if any team in the league necessarily needs a No. 1 receiver".
This is a bold statement from a third-year quarterback that's already told Cowboys Nation this offseason that he wants to be the best to ever play for the franchise. Beginning the journey towards becoming a Cowboys legend must start with Prescott securing his status as the Cowboys franchise QB in 2018 - by throwing to Williams, Michael Gallup, Cole Beasley, Cedrick Wilson, and Allen Hurns.
This will be no easy task for Prescott, but the Cowboys have never wavered in their commitment to building this team around him. Left with no choice on personnel decisions like Jason Witten's retirement, the Cowboys are well-prepared to also deal with the loss of Dez Bryant.
If they weren't, Bryant would still be in Dallas, and as it stands now he remains a free agent. New to the Cowboys offense is not only Gallup, Wilson, and Hurns but also Tavon Austin as a pass-catching running back.
Strength in numbers must be the message for the Cowboys offense this season. Relying heavily on Ezekiel Elliott and a punishing offensive line will be what keeps opposing defensive coordinators up at night, but so too must be the diverse nature of how the Cowboys can line up on the outside.
Allowing Prescott to serve as a "point guard" like QB could lead to the Cowboys turning plenty of heads with their all-around play in 2018. Anybody writing them off simply because of unproven wide receivers lacks a complete understanding of the roster and how Scott Linehan plans to change his offense.
Sure, it's possible that Linehan fails to prove himself as a play caller worthy of the talent the Cowboys possess on offense - but the talent is there. In Prescott's rookie year, Cole Beasley emerged as his go-to receiver, only to regress in 2017.
With the Cowboys shipping Ryan Switzer to Oakland during the draft, Beasley has a clear path back towards developing this chemistry with Prescott out of the slot. The same should go for Allen Hurns, despite arriving in Dallas as a free agent this year.
Hurns has talked about holding himself to a high standard, despite joining the Cowboys to play with Dez Bryant initially.
"I felt it was a big opportunity to come to Dallas to play with Dez. But with him not being here, it’s a bigger opportunity. It's a matter of me making the most of the opportunity"
Plenty of Cowboys receivers will have a chance to make the most of the opportunity to play in this offense. Hurns' spot as an outside starter feels safe, as he could be the big "No. 1" target Prescott needs to either find in the red zone or distribute the ball elsewhere.
The amount of change the Dallas Cowboys have gone through since drafting Dak Prescott is a cruel reminder of how difficult reaching the pinnacle of sports can be. The Cowboys biggest challenge to reach the playoffs again in 2018?
Silence the doubt that a declining Dez Bryant no longer being with the team will derail the efforts of this deep and eager-to-compete WRs room.
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