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How Adrian Clayborn Ruined The 2017 Dallas Cowboys

Kevin Brady



How Adrian Clayborn Ruined The 2017 Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys season is effectively over. After suffering a gut-wrenching and humiliating home loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the Cowboys now sit at 8-7 and are finally mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Though many thought if Dallas could simply stay afloat during running back Ezekiel Elliott's suspension, his return would propel them into the postseason - those expectations rang untrue. Instead the offense looked as bad as they have all season, and the team scored just 12 points.

Now, of course, we have some tough questions to ask. Is the franchises' all time receiving touchdown leader washed up? Is the health of Tyron Smith officially a long term concern? And among others, is Dak Prescott the franchise quarterback of this team?

But how did we get here? How did Dak Prescott go from the Rookie of the Year who dethroned Tony Romo from his own spot to being questioned as the starter the very next season? I personally think questioning Prescott's spot is premature, but I think I have an answer for "how" we have gotten to this point.

November 12th, 2017.

The week prior to this date, the Cowboys decimated what we thought to be one of the AFC's top teams - the Kansas City Chiefs. Outside of a fluke-y touchdown to end the first half, the Chiefs stood no chance against Dallas that Sunday. Sean Lee led the defense to an exceptional performance, and Dak Prescott played arguably his best game as a pro.

Prescott diced up the Chiefs defense, and combined with a strong running game led by Elliott, the Cowboys offense looked unstoppable. Dallas looked so good that Chiefs pass rusher Tamba Hali called them the "best team in football."

But on November 12th, this team was much different. It was the first game of Elliott's six game suspension, and it was Chaz Green's first start at left tackle in 2017. Plus, Dallas was traveling to play the reigning conference champion Atlanta Falcons.

Personally, I thought the Cowboys could weather the storm even without these two important pieces. I wasn't sure they'd win, but with Prescott at quarterback and a decent replacement at tackle (based on what I'd seen in 2016), I did not expect them to get embarrassed.

What happened, however, might have "broke" the Cowboys offense for the remainder of the season. Dak Prescott was sacked 8 times, 6 from Adrian Clayborn alone, and the Cowboys offense scored just 7 points in a blowout 27-7 loss. The offense was simply putrid, and the root of the problem was the left tackle position.

The next week the Cowboys hosted one of the league's top teams in the Philadelphia Eagles, and were once again demolished. In this 37-9 loss Prescott was pressured all night, getting sacked 4 times and throwing 3 interceptions.

All of a sudden the Cowboys were in shambles. And though they would rattle off three straight wins following another blowout loss, and Prescott would once again look solid during the winning streak, the offense just never felt the same.

I truly believe that the Atlanta Falcons game ruined the Cowboys offense in 2017. For the first time in his career, Dak Prescott lost all faith in his protection, in his receivers, and in his offense. And to make things worse he didn't have his All Pro running back to turn to when things got overwhelming for the young quarterback.

Had the first game of Elliott's suspension come against the 49ers, or any of the "weaker" opponents on the Cowboys schedule, I think things would've ended a bit differently. But to begin that suspension with the butt-kicking which occurred in Atlanta set forth a series of events which the team never truly recovered from.

I still believe in Dak Prescott, and I still think he is this team's quarterback of the future. But the Cowboys must reload on offense, and improve the weapons around him in the passing game if they want to take a step forward in 2018.

Years ago the front office created a "Romo-Friendly offense." Now it's time to make things Dak-Friendly as we move into the future.

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 am currently a college student. Lets get going.

  • EverybodyTalks

    I find this title offensive…lol. As an Iowa Hawkeye fan, Adrian Clayborn has roots back here at home. Chaz allowed him to have 6 sacks in one game. Adrian has 9 for the season, last time I looked. I heard if he gets 10 sacks, it’s Bonus Time. Clayborn should split that bonus with Chaz and our coaching staff. Cha-ching Clayborn!

    • Anthony1080

      That’s hilarious!

Star Blog

Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys

Jess Haynie



Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys

Now that he's signed with the Washington Redskins, cornerback Orlando Scandrick joins a lackluster list of former Cowboys players and coaches who have gone from Dallas to its historic rival. The history of these moves is ugly for Washington, going back over 40 years, and can't have their fans too excited anytime they sign an ex-Cowboy.

The most recent example was just last year with defensive tackle Terrell McClain. After a strong season as a 15-game starter in Dallas, McClain got a four-year, $21 million deal to join the Redskins. He missed four games with injuries and was only credited with two starts; hardly what the team wanted given the money they paid.

Before him it was Jason Hatcher, whose 11-sack season for the Cowboys in 2013 got him a four-year, $27.5 million deal from Washington. Hatcher would battle knee injuries for two season, getting only 7.5 sacks from 2014-2015. His early retirement in 2016 brought an abrupt end to a disappointing tenure.

Continuing the legacy of defensive linemen was Stephen Bowen, who Washington paid a shocking amount of money ($27.5 million over five years) to in 2011 to pick up in free agency. Bowen had a great first year for the Redskins with six sacks and 16 starts, but injuries would soon cost him 14 games from 2013-2014. He was eventually released after only one standout season in four with the team.

Going back even further, DT Brandon Noble joined Washington in 2003 after being a full-time starter for Dallas for over two seasons. He would miss all of 2003 with a knee injury, have an unimpressive year in 2004, and then missed all of 2005 with more health issues. He retired after being released by the Redskins in 2006.

Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys 1

Hall of Fame CB Deion Sanders

Orlando Scandrick won't be the first cornerback to go from Dallas to Washington, or the best. At age 32, Deion Sanders was released in 2000 by the Cowboys and then got a huge seven-year, $56 million deal from the Redskins. This came less than a year after Daniel Snyder bought the franchise and was desperate to get them relevant again.

The Sanders move backfired horribly. Even after a solid season by his lofty standards, Primetime was disgruntled with both the coaching staff and his increasing struggles as an aging player. He suddenly retired after just one season of the seven-year contract.

Washington also tried to tap into the Cowboys' glory days when they signed receiver Alvin Harper in 1997. Harper had left Dallas in 1995 and spent two years with Tampa Bay, but had not carried over the same success he enjoyed playing in the Dallas offense.

The Redskins hoped that reuniting him with Norv Turner, who had been Harper's offensive coordinator and was now their head coach, would help Alvin get back to form. But between ongoing injuries and the absence of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith as teammates, Alvin Harper was never the same guy as when he won two Super Bowls in Dallas.

The failed poaching attempts go back many more decades, another one being running back Calvin Hill. The fourth-leading rusher in Cowboys history and a four-time Pro Bowler while in Dallas, Hill joined Washington in 1976. He served as a backup only, averaging only 3.8 yards-per-carry as he played behind the likes of Mike Thomas and John Riggins.

Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys 2

Norv Turner also couldn't bring his Cowboys success to Washington. (Brian Bahr/Allsport)

The bad history doesn't stop with players. The aforementioned Norv Turner, who was one of the hottest assistant coaches in history after the Cowboys first two Super Bowl wins in the 90s, was hired as the Redskins' head coach in 1994.

Turner's run started with a whimper, drafting quarterback Heath Shuler third overall in that first year. Shuler would go down as one of the biggest QB busts in NFL history

Norv's Redskins never seemed to recover from that blunder. He only had two winning seasons and one playoff appearance from 1994-1999, and was fired midway through the 2000 season.

Far more recently, Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan left the team in 2015 and took the same job in Washington. He didn't get to bring the offensive line or DeMarco Murray with him, though. As such, the Redskins have remained one of the league's worst rushing teams for the last three seasons. They fell to a new low of 28th in the NFL in 2017.

~ ~ ~

Of course, none of this means that Orlando Scandrick won't have success in Washington. But with the Redskins generally the most mismanaged team in the NFC East, all of the Dallas players and coaches who've gone there have not walked into good situations. For all that Cowboys fans love to complain about Jerry Jones, he handles the owner and GM roles better than any pair Washington's had in almost 30 years.

Given the nature of the rivalries, we naturally can't wish success for Scandrick or anyone else who leaves Dallas for a division opponent. With the track record we just discussed for Washington, it's not something I'll be losing any sleep over.

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Star Blog

Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?

Brian Martin



Cowboys Have Their Version of Tryann Mathieu in Xavier Woods?

It's not uncommon for Dallas Cowboys fans to zero in on certain free agents in hopes that they will bring their talents to America's Team. In fact, just about any "big name" player to hit the open market is often linked to the Cowboys in some way or another. That was the case when the Arizona Cardinals decided to move on from Tyrann Mathieu.

Once Tyrann Mathieu became available, Cowboys fans immediately wanted to see him with a star on his helmet. But, despite the fans petitioning, the Cowboys brass seemed to show almost zero interest in the former Cardinal.

The decision to not pursue Tyrann Mathieu certainly didn't sit well with a lot of Cowboys Nation, but I think it was the right decision.

Despite Mathieu's perceived talents and youth (he's just 25), the Cowboys weren't interested in paying the price to bring him to Dallas, especially since they already have a similar player on their roster.

Xavier Woods

Dallas Cowboys DB Xavier Woods

It may sound crazy, but I think the real reason the Dallas Cowboys didn't show much interest in Tyrann Mathieu is because of Xavier Woods.

I honestly believe Xavier Woods and Tyrann Mathieu have a similar skill set. Both players are little undersized to be a full-time safety in the NFL, but each of them have the versatility to play several different roles in the secondary.

Mathieu may have been listed as a safety on the Arizona Cardinals roster, and now the Houston Texans, but the truth is he played mostly out of the nickel/slot in his professional and collegiate career. That is where he is at his best, and the same can be said about Xavier Woods.

As a rookie, Xavier Woods showed his versatility with the Dallas Cowboys by playing a variety of different roles in the secondary. His versatility was one of the reasons the Cowboys decided to trade up in last year's draft to acquire his services.

His name might not carry the same kind of weight as Tyrann Mathieu right now around the league or amongst NFL fans, but I don't think Xavier Woods is that much of a drop off talent wise.

Xavier Woods

Dallas Cowboys DB Xavier Woods (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Personally, I believe Mathieu is starting to decline a little as a player. I think injuries are starting to take a toll on his play, although it may be minimal. I actually prefer Xavier Woods' upside, especially when you take into account the difference in salaries between the two.

Surprisingly enough, Xavier Woods might just have been more productive in 2017 then Mathieu. Woods started just four games and finished the season with 42 tackles, three passes defensed, and one interception. Mathieu on the other hand started all 16 games and accumulated 78 tackles, one quarterback sack, one forced fumble, and two interceptions.

As you can see, Xavier Woods was almost just as productive as Mathieu in nearly a third of the playing time. What's even more impressive about this is that Woods accomplish this as a rookie.

Of course, all of this is speculation, but I for one am not all that upset the Dallas Cowboys missed out on Tyrann Mathieu. I'm willing to bet on Xavier Woods being able to do everything Mathieu can and at a fraction of the cost.

Were the Cowboys right not to pursue Tyrann Mathieu?

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Star Blog

Free Agent CB Orlando Scandrick Joining Washington Redskins

Jess Haynie



Orlando Scandrick

Just two days after being released by the Dallas Cowboys, cornerback Orlando Scandrick has found a new home in the nation's capitol. After 10 seasons in Dallas, Scandrick is signing with the rival Washington Redskins.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Redskins and Orlando Scandrick have agreed to a 2-year deal worth a max value of $10M, source said. From Dallas to a rival.

By joining Washington after leaving Dallas, Scandrick follows in the footsteps of many ex-Cowboys: Terrell McClain, Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen, and even Deion Sanders to name a few.

Last week, Orlando reportedly requested his release from Dallas. It was widely expected that he would be a salary cap casualty anyway, though, and especially with the young stockpile of cornerbacks the Cowboys currently have.

Dallas has three young corners they believe in with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Anthony Brown. There is also talk that Byron Jones could be moving back to CB next year.

Scandrick, 31, will get to stay in the NFC East and now cover some of his former teammates. Give the reportedly salary, he should at least be the slot corner for Washington next year if not a starter.

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