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A Tale of Two Teams

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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.



I am 35, married and a father of 2 boys. I have been a Cowboys fan since Jimmy Johnson took over; not because I had anything against Tom Landry, but because it just so happens I was old enough to start following and understanding football right as that new era began. Since then, I haven't missed games if I could help it.

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Dallas Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott vs Byron Jones Part II: The Case For Paying Zeke

John Williams

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New York Giants are 2-1 Against Cowboys With Ezekiel Elliott

It's a debate that has raged on social media for some time now and it likely won't slow down as the offseason progresses and the Dallas Cowboys begin to hand out massive contracts to their top players. Pay Ezekiel Elliott? Pay Byron Jones? If you could only pay one, which would you pay?

This week fellow Inside The Star Staff Writer, Kevin Brady took to Twitter to poll the populous and his results were a bit surprising to me.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

if you can only pay one it should be

The results inspired me to see what would happen if I put the same poll on my timeline.

John Williams ✭ on Twitter

Inspired by my teammate @KevinBrady88, if you can only pay one, which would it be?

On Monday, Kevin wrote a piece looking at one of the difficult decisions facing the Dallas Cowboys this offseason or next. If the Cowboys could only extend Byron Jones OR Ezekiel Elliott, who should they choose? Kevin, as am I, is a firm believer in Byron Jones ability and says the Cowboys should extend them, and I agree. But let's look at the other side of the argument.

To begin, the Cowboys should and probably will get both guys contract extensions either this offseason or next. It's not impossible with the cap continuing to increase at a rate of about $8-12 million per year that the Cowboys will have the space to get the deals done that they need to get done. Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones included.

Byron Jones settled in nicely at cornerback during his first full season at cornerback and knowing what we know about Jones, he won't be satisfied with a second team All-Pro appearance. Expect him to get better. However, if there's a single player that represents the current identity of the Dallas Cowboys, it's Running Back Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys made him the fourth overall pick in 2016 and haven't looked back in their plan to establish the running game. For his career Elliott has averaged 26.9 touches per game over the course of his 40 games.

Here's a look at what Elliott's per game and per 16 game paces look like through the first three seasons of his career.

As you can see from the table above, Ezekiel Elliott is averaging 131.2 total yards per game for his career. In his rookie season he had 1,994 total yards and he sat out the week 17 game against the Philadelphia Eagles when the Cowboys had the NFC and home field advantage locked up. In 2017, Elliott sat out six games and still had nearly 1,000 yards rushing. In 2018, Elliott broke through the 2,000 total yard barrier after seeing a huge increase in his targets and receptions.

Ezekiel Elliott has been everything the Dallas Cowboys could have hoped for and more. With the leadership role he's taken with the team, he's a player that leads both vocally and by example. There are few players on the Dallas Cowboys that give as much effort as he does each snap. How many times has it looked like Elliott was about to get dropped for a two or three yard loss only to grind through tackles to pick up a four yard gain? How many times has he bounced off tacklers to get to the first down marker? Ezekiel Elliott is the human personification of dirty yards, but don't let that fool you into thinking that Elliott can't take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Elliott's is a game breaker who threatens the defense every time he steps on the field.

In 2018, Elliott led the NFL in yards after contact, per Pro Football Focus. His 949 yards after contact in 2018 would have ranked 13th in the NFL in rushing, which was better than David Johnson's 940 yards rushing last season.

Not many running backs effect a football game like Ezekiel Elliott does.

Few players outside of the quarterback position are as much of a focal point for their offense while being an attention grabber for opposing defenses like Ezekiel Elliott is. In 2018, he saw eight or more men in the box on nearly 25% of his carries in 2018. Some of that is related to the Dallas Cowboys insistence on using two tight ends on 50% of their running plays (per Sharp Football), but the other aspect is related to how much they respect the Dallas Cowboys running game. Since the 2014, the Cowboys have been synonymous with running the football. DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, and now Ezekiel Elliott have been the faces of that running game behind the Cowboys elite offensive line.

Even in a down year for offensive line play from the Dallas Cowboys, Elliott still managed to lead the NFL in rushing for the second time in three seasons. Elliott made the Pro Bowl for the second time in three years as well. Were it not for the railroad job done by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2017, there's a really good chance that Elliott leads the league in rushing three years in a row and that the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs all three seasons.

Sure, the running back position is undervalued in the NFL and rushing yardage can be replaced, but there are intangibles to Elliott's game that are very difficult to replace. His ability to grind out the dirty yards, break big plays, create yards after contact, pass protect, be a threat as a receiver, and his leadership make him a player that is difficult to replace.

Yes, Byron Jones was really good in 2018 and deserves to get paid by the Dallas Cowboys as well, but you'd be hard pressed to find a player on the Cowboys roster who has been as consistent and dominating week in and week out as Ezekiel Elliott has been over the last three years.



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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

Brian Martin

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BREAKING: Cowboys Sign Ex-Packers WR Randall Cobb

According to multiple sources, the Dallas Cowboys have signed former Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver Randall Cobb to a one-year deal to help bolster their depth at the WR position and potentially become Cole Beasley's replacement.

Adam Schefter on Twitter

Cowboys are giving former Packers' WR Randall Cobb a one-year, $5 million deal, per source. https://t.co/8KWFPjSP8T

The Dallas Cowboys met with Randall Cobb earlier this week, but he eventually left Dallas without a contract. He must've had a change of heart or just needed time to ponder the Cowboys offer, but regardless of what transpired in that short time he is now part of America's Team.

During his time with the Packers, Cobb accumulated 470 receptions for 5,524 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. The eight-year veteran will now be expected to replace some of Cole Beasley's production out of the slot for the Dallas Cowboys.

After years of watching Beasley as the Cowboys slot WR, it will be really interesting to see Randall Cobb in that role. He's not as quick twitched as No. 11, but can be just as dangerous due to his ability to be more of a down the field receiver. He also brings added value in the return game and could compete with Tavon Austin to become the return specialist.

This could mean the Cowboys forgo drafting a wide receiver early in the 2019 NFL Draft, but I wouldn't put it past them. Regardless of what happens, this is an excellent addition.

Welcome to Cowboys Nation Randall Cobb!



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REPORT: Dallas Cowboys Re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur

Jess Haynie

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L.P. Ladouceur

L.P. Ladouceur is returning for his 15th season as the Cowboys' long snapper. The veteran free agent was re-signed by Dalals today to a one-year deal.

Thanks to Jason Witten's one-year sabbatical with Monday Night Football, Ladouceur has now been with the Cowboys for more consecutive seasons than any current player. He just turned 38 last week, but Louis-Philippe remains one of the top long snappers in football.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have signed long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur to a one-year deal worth $1.03 million and $90,000 in bonus money, but he will count $735,000 against the cap. This will be Ladouceur's 15th season with the Cowboys, tying Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Mark... https://t.co/2iDsi6RX7e

Retaining Ladouceur is an underrated move for the Cowboys given their situation at kicker.

Brett Maher was only 80% accurate overall on field goals last year. The team could be considering an upgrade in free agency.

Whether they bring Maher back or try someone new, having a long snapper with Ladouceur's performance perfection will make things much easier for them.



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