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….and there’s nothing you can do about it.

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Cowboys Blog - ....and there's nothing you can do about it.

If you want a seminal snapshot of the season to date, it was right there, late in the game, for the nation to see in all its dominance and glory.

Five linemen, a fullback, and DeMarco Murray celebrated together in the end zone, apart from the shiny toys on offense, away from Romo, isolated together in the end zone of the world champs.  They hugged and head butted, knowing full well what they’d just done, and what they’ve become.

They are one.  The most dominant collective unit in the National Football League.  Soak in that for a moment.

They are also everything Jerry Jones avoids at every turn, which makes it all more improbable and twice as delicious.  They are fat guys with 70-something jerseys that don’t sell in the pro shop.  “Zack Martin picks get you to 8-8,” said Jerry the Football Imbecile.  How’s your boy Manziel doing, eh Jerry?

It's so much more enjoyable knowing Jerry is looking at it from the outside with "I told you so" etched in lipstick across his thick skull.  I'll let you figure out who's lipstick.

Yesterday was so much more than a win. Somebody every week upsets a team in difficult circumstances, especially in the watered-down parity the NFL has devolved into. There’s nothing specifically noteworthy about that in and of itself.

But that’s not what happened yesterday.  This was an institutional change in NFL hierarchy.  Richard Sherman’s cockiness and bravado turned into congratulatory daps with Dez, and a post-game hug of respect with Romo.  Pete Carroll’s early camera smugly smirks turned into lost looks of confusion and helplessness.

Dallas had just Seattle-ed the Seahawks, as if to say, “Looky here, boys, we are now who you used to be.”

Dominance is a tricky concoction to make.  It needs a catalyst, perhaps two, to fester into the fabric of reality.  It’s quiet, and it’s everywhere.  You know it when you see it because you can feel it, too.

That’s what this offensive line has done for this team.  Everything is feeding off of it, the backs, Romo and his now deadly play fakes, receivers and tight ends blocking downfield, and a defense that is flying around and hitting everything without mercy.  Everybody feels fresh, mentally and physically, for four quarters and every Sunday.

Even Gavin Escobar is blocking. Good gosh, it’s a miracle.

Such a unit infects malady into the other team, too.  We watched Drew Brees stand on the sideline as a spectator.  Russell Wilson did the same yesterday, merely a face in the crowd, watching a bloodletting reversal.  Seattle’s offense looked impatient and uncertain, as if their identity had been ripped from their souls and held up to their faces.  Fingers pointing, coaches pacing, opposing fans pondering.  Oh crap, the stinking Cowboys are back.

Murray for 5, Murray for 3, Murray for 7, Randle for 15, Dunbar on a catch for 20.  Pound, pound, pound.  The message is loud and clear.  We’re running right there, and you can’t stop us.  And when needed, Romo can still work his magic.  And lest you forget, our receivers are pretty dadgum good, even the ones you barely know.  I can’t remember the last time first downs tallied with such ease and expectancy, but it’s making this a superbly fun season.

OK, it’s October, I know.  Ten games to go, fraught with potential injuries, and pits of calamity lurking around every corner.  Learning to live with expectations remains unproven.  Wearing the proverbial “team to beat” target is a burden, even when accustomed to what wearing the Star brings by its very nature.

But I take you back to that picture of Murray and his team of gladiators in Seattle’s end zone.  That’s a bond that doesn’t break in thick or thin.  That doesn’t wilt in the cold and pressure of December and January.  That’s a constant in any equation.

This is a playoff team, and a mighty serious one at that.



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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Paul Leatherman

    October 13, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Great article. But Meh on the Jerry dissing. He takes the blame for the bad so you gotta give credit for the good.

    • John Schmidt

      October 13, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      i would have said the jerry bashing was unnecessary to but for jerrys stupid 8-8 comment about manzeil

    • Erod

      October 13, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      It’s necessary because this could have happened so long ago if not for Jerry. He was there in the 90s. He played offensive line in college. Yet, he ignored the proper course for so many lost generations of players. He meddled and took Mo Claiborne instead of DeCastro. He fascinates over the Manziels of the world. He’s PT Barnum, not a football man.
      This team is everything Jerry isn’t. Disciplined, blue collar, fundamentally sound, a group of RKGs. Jerry is the black sheep of it all. He doesn’t belong in the picture of this group of Cowboys. He’s the leper on the other side of the glass.
      Thank Jason Garrett for that.

      • Paul Leatherman

        October 13, 2014 at 4:15 pm

        He was there in the 90’s right. So how many of those oline guys were 1st round picks. Zero. I get it. You blame Jerry for 20 years of misery. Rightfully so. He deserves more than his fair share of it. But to blame the oline failures on him is ridiculous in mind. He meddled and took Claiborne? Well thats just not factual at all. Stephen Jones had that trade worked out the day before the draft. Not Jerry. How long do you have to be involved in football to be considered a football man? See, the problem is you start off blaming everything on Jerry and then you say this team is everything he is isn’t? So when did Jerry stop meddling? When did he stop making picks? When did the “football man” start making picks? Who is this “football man”? If you look back on it Jerry has almost always made draft choices depending upon what his head coach wanted. He did it with Parcells, well except for that one time Parcells wanted to take Spears at 11 and pass on Ware. Ol Barnum Jones decided to take Ware and wait on Spears. So what if he fascinates over Manziel? Did he pick him? No. He was fascinated by Dez Bryant and thank God he took him. It’s obvious you hate Jerry and blame him for everything and will never give credit for anything. Not trying to change your mind. Believe me, I’ve done my fair of Jerry cursing. But I give credit where credit is due. I don’t bash him for bad picks and then give credit elsewhere when a good pick is made.

        • Erod

          October 14, 2014 at 10:37 am

          Jerry is the embarrassingly drunk rich uncle at the wedding that won’t stop feeling up the bridesmaids on the dance floor. He writes the check for the shindig, so he gets the mic when he wants it.
          Fortunately, he’s largely ignored these days. Players, coaches, even his own family…nobody takes him seriously as a serious person anymore. He’s just Daddy Pocketbook.

      • vrusimov

        October 14, 2014 at 12:02 am

        Excellent, deadly accurate observation on Jones, who will look to again take credit for the insights of others who must keep him from making bonehead choices like Manziel. This line should have been addressed following the ’07 season, but it was Romo’s improvisational skills that allowed him to neglect what made the Cowboys great when they were winning SuperBowls. While I have my reservations about Garrett still, he has to at least get some credit for what we are seeing now…hard as that is for me to admit. Jones has always had a perverse penchant for “bling”.

  2. Jonathan Day

    October 13, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Great write-up Erod.

  3. Jerry Jones 1 Dallas Fans 0

    October 13, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    What a bunch of hot air over a football game, and a regular season one at that. Seattle lost, Cowboys won. There’s nothing revolutionary or poetic about a football game. If you think you can write, use your talents on something worthwhile like a real writer, don’t waste them on blowing a bunch of hot air over a child’s game.

    • Erod

      October 13, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      …says the guy who logged on to a football site to read a column. Things a little slow over on the Redskins forum, or whatever rock you crawled out from under?

    • Paul Leatherman

      October 13, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      Hey Jerry Jones 1 Dallas Fans 0…………Go be a dick somewhere else.

  4. mike

    October 13, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    too bad that is the wrong picture you have up…that one is the TD pass to 82

    • Bryson Treece

      October 13, 2014 at 2:21 pm

      You got the right one???

    • Erod

      October 13, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      I asked for the other, but it’s no where to be found apparently. This was the closest we could find.

  5. Cowboysdude

    October 13, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Good write up… still all in all this team has improved greatly under Marinelli and Linehan… it’s certainly not because of their “HC”….garrettkeet the puppet. My only fear is that they are hired away and garrettkeet stays because it’ll be right back to mediocre football…

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Star Blog

2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch

Kevin Brady

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Leighton Vander Esch Lands on List of NFL's Top 10 Rookies

As the first round draft pick of America's Team, any player would be under a ton of pressure from all angles. Whether it's from the fans on the outside or the organization on the inside, the expectations around being a first round pick for the Cowboys are immense. But the pressure placed upon linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, from the second he was announced as the 19th overall draft pick, was second to none.

It felt like Cowboys Nation let out a collective groan when Vander Esch was taken, with fans hoping for a more glamorous first round selection. Someone like wide receiver Calvin Ridley or edge rusher Harold Landry would've done the trick, but after Vander Esch's rookie season it's hard to imagine either of those players would have had the impact Vander Esch did in 2018.

Though he didn't start a game until week 4, and didn't become the unquestioned full-time starting WILL until week 10, Vander Esch earned Pro Bowl honors for his rookie season. Tallying 140 total tackles and 2 interceptions, Vander Esch made his presence felt week in and week out.

No counting stats can fully measure Leighton Vander Esch's impact as a rookie, however.

Prior to the 2018 season, the Cowboys defensive success often came down to the health of Sean Lee. When available and playing at his best, Lee led an overachieving Cowboys defense to solid performances each week. But, when Lee went out (as he often did), the entire Cowboys defense seemed to fall apart.5 Studs and Duds From the Dallas Cowboys 2018 Season

This year, though, that all changed. When Sean Lee was out with injury the Cowboys defense got better. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith became a versatile, hard hitting tandem the NFL immediately feared, and helped to direct the Cowboys defense to signature wins throughout the 2018 season.

There are arguments against taking any off-ball linebacker in the first round, as the value of the position has been questioned due to the new style of offense in the NFL. Nowadays linebackers are relegated to two-down players, taken off the field in favor of faster defensive backs on critical passing downs.

Leighton Vander Esch is athletic enough to be both an old school run stopper, but also a three down linebacker in today's fast paced NFL.

Despite the doubts which surrounded the pick, the Cowboys absolutely nailed their first round selection in 2018. And Leighton Vander Esch made Dallas' front office look like geniuses each and every Sunday.



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Star Blog

What Is The Cowboys Most Pressing Offseason Need?

Kevin Brady

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Finishing their season with a Division Round loss, Dallas Cowboys fans are getting a somewhat late start on the 2019 offseason. Of course, we'd much rather a later start, but the results are what they are.

Now Dallas must get better, and re-tool before heading into Dak Prescott's fourth season, and the Cowboys' 2019 campaign. Though they didn't feel all that close to a championship this season, looking around the roster, it's actually tough to identify one key need the Cowboys must address.

They are filled with young, talented players that they have high hopes for across the board. And in the places they are "older," such as across the offensive line, they have established veterans who aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

So what is the Cowboys' most pressing offseason need?

Well, despite already using their 2019 first round pick to address it, the answer very well might be wide receiver.

Adding Amari Cooper midseason provided a massive jolt to the Cowboys previously anemic passing attack, but on his own he is not enough to take this passing game to where it needs to be to compete in this new NFL.

Third round pick Michael Gallup is going to be a very good pro, and progressed really well as his rookie season went on. I think he can play opposite Amari Cooper nicely, and be the number two option in the passing game going forward.

Though arguably their best wide out against man coverage, Cole Beasley is a free agent, and if the reports are true about Scott Linehan returning in 2019 it could very well mean Beasley will not be opting to sign back with Dallas.

Regardless of Beasley's decision, however, the Cowboys need to seriously evaluate their pass catchers heading into next season.

This is a passing league. The rules have dictated that you must be able to pass the ball efficiently if you want to compete with the best of the best around the NFL. To take the next step in their progression, and reach an NFC title game and/or Super Bowl, Dak Prescott will need to have as explosive a group of pass catchers as possible.

The Cowboys have already taken solid steps to making this a reality, but another move or two this offseason could go a long way to putting Dallas in the conversation with teams like the Rams and the Saints in 2019.



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Star Blog

3 Things We Learned About The Dallas Cowboys In 2018

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

Coming into the 2018 season, loads of questions surrounded the Dallas Cowboys and the future of their roster.

Could their defense stay intact when the annual Sean Lee injury occurred? Was Kris Richard going to lead the Cowboys young secondary to places we thought they could be? And would Dak Prescott earn a contact extension and become the official franchise quarterback of America's Team.

Of course, there are tons of other questions that may have gone unanswered, but these three critical areas seem to find clarity in 2018.

Leighton Vander Esch And Jaylon Smith Are Legit

The Dallas Cowboys caught a lot of flack for their selection both of these linebackers, each for different reasons.

When they snagged Jaylon Smith in the second round of the 2016 draft, it was still unknown to the public if Smith could ever even play football again. When they took Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall last April, fans questioned how valuable an off-ball linebacker would be on a defense that already had Sean Lee.

Well, after their first full season together, it's easy to say that both Vander Esch and Smith are the linebacker options of the future in Dallas. Named to the Pro Bowl during his rookie season, Vander Esch took the world by storm in 2018. When Lee went down, he was there to not only fill his shoes, but to outplay the veteran all year long.

What is fun to consider is that as good as Vander Esch was this season, Jaylon Smith might be even better. Both posses insane sideline to sideline pursuit ability, and are some of the surest tacklers in all of football.

Watching these two grow together will be a pleasure over the coming seasons.

Their Young Secondary Is Coming Together

Like their linebackers, the Dallas Cowboys secondary is a young group, who fans are excited to watch grow throughout the years. It seemed like more pressure sat on the shoulders of young cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie than of Smith and Vander Esch, however.

With Kris Richard joining the staff and making the decision to move Jones to cornerback full time, it was do-or-die for the former first round pick. Byron Jones answered all the doubters, earning not only a Pro Bowl selection but also First Team All Pro honors for his performance.

Opposite him, Awuzie had a rough start to his sophomore campaign. While typically right there in coverage, wide outs too often made contested catches over him. Over the final few weeks of the year, however, that changed and Awuzie played some of the best football yet.

Xavier Woods, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis (in much fewer snaps) all had fantastic seasons as well, giving the Cowboys great hope and confidence in their secondary moving forward. They may need to add another safety during the offseason, however, though Jeff Heath remains more than just a viable option.

Dak Prescott Is Here To Stay

Whether or not you think it's justified, Dak Prescott is the quarterback of the future in Dallas. And he earned that right the back-half of 2018 and during the postseason. After a shaky start to his 3rd season, Prescott turned things around nicely, leading the Cowboys to a 7-1 finish to the regular season.

Prescott played the best football of his young career down the stretch, and showed just how valuable he is both on the field and in the locker room. It seemed like every game he made 2-3 winning plays that put the Cowboys over the top that afternoon.

Dak is going to get a contract extension, and will be locked in as a Cowboy for the foreseeable future, and with the way he played the final 10 games of his season, I can't second guess this decision much at all.



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