Talk about a lag ... it's been a full week since the last post here. Not to worry, we're not going anywhere, just got a big project going for the site and figured the lull before the draft was the best time to take care of it. Not quite ready to reveal what the deal is, but we will soon.
For now though, got a few things to cover. First on my list is the trade today that sent the long time Chief Tony Gonzalez to Atlanta. The Falcons gave up their 2010 second round pick for what few will argue is the best tight end to ever play the game.
The move is a certain upgrade for Atlanta as they haven't really had a good tight end in recent years, let alone a great one that still has a few years left before retirement. Surprisingly though, Kansas City GM Scott Pioli basically said that the Chiefs would be better off without Gonzalez and I just have a hard time swallowing that.
You don't get rid of a capable player who has been to 10 Pro Bowls in 12 years, and has started all but two games in those very long 12 years. Of course he did want a trade because he wants the chance to win a Super Bowl before he retires, and considering that the Falcons are on the incline with their second year starting QB Matt Ryan and coming off a division title year with an 11-5 record, Tony is definitely making the right move.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs are left with no real replacement for the massive production that Gonzalez provided year in and year out. I guess they're hoping for a good draft year ... we'll see.
We know too that since the restricted free agent signing period ended that Miles Austin, who did not actually receive an offer from the Jets, has been locked in as a Cowboy for 2009. Along with WR Sam Hurd, TE Rodney Hannah, and RB Alonzo Coleman, Austin has not only signed his tender but has signed a longer term contract as well. The Cowboys have no more RFA's to resign.
They do still have a free agent out there to work on though in Keith Davis as he has yet to sign with anyone. It's almost a no brainer that the Cowboys need Davis around with his near flawless special teams play, and because he was a capable backup when injuries took down all but him, and even him before it was all over with, at the safety position. He did interview with Kansas City a few weeks ago, but those talks seem to be dead at this point.
And now we head into the draft tomorrow, a time that will be a little hard to sit through as the Cowboys are unlikely to make their first pick before the sun sets, but we could all get a better idea of what's going on before they actually take that 51st pick by watching a few names.
On my own list, I'll be watching for Patrick Chung, Louis Delmas, and Brian Robiskie. Coming out of Ohio State he hasn't really impressed anyone with his good, but not great, combine numbers, and his days at Ohio State can be summed up in much the same way. The real intrigue of Robiskie is in his relationships in the NFL. Being the son of Falcons wide receivers coach terry Robiskie, it figures to be interesting to see if he actually learned anything from the old man.
It's typical for rookie wide receivers to struggle there first year simply because of adjusting to play at the NFL level, yet this young man might very well have the knowledge to come right in and play. Even if he does have the mental stuff down, it's still no safe bet that he'll either be able to execute it or have the talent to go with it, the Cowboys have a better idea than most since they worked him out recently.
Oh yes, this draft is looking more and more interesting for Dallas and we'll be there for it all as our very own Bryan Martin will be keeping tabs on all the hot moves come Saturday and Sunday. And come Monday morning, not only will we finally have our questions answered, but hopefully we'll be able to announce our plans here as well.
Warts And All, Dak Prescott Shows Why It’s Not So Easy To Move On
Dak Prescott was far from perfect Sunday night in Philadelphia. In fact, at times, he was downright bad.
Prescott missed two potential touchdown passes to Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup on fly routes down the sideline, and might have left points on the board when he badly missed Ezekiel Elliott in the flat in the red zone early in the game. Prescott continued to panic in the pocket a bit during the first half, and took an absolutely horrendous sack on what would end up being the Cowboys' first touchdown drive of the night.
All of this is true. All of this is indisputable.
Where things get tricky, however, is that while these flaws continue to show up in Prescott's game, so do his strengths. A particular set of strengths and skills that the can be highly valuable in today's NFL, especially if deployed correctly.
Beginning with the final drive of the first half, Dak Prescott played the type of football we've rarely seen from him over the last calendar year. He was comfortable in the pocket, seldom abandoning clean looks or running into sacks. He utilized his legs and ability to extend plays when necessary, and delivered some absolute strikes to help the Cowboys offense get into scoring range multiple times. Prescott also picked up some key third downs with his arm to answer Eagles' scoring drives, something we haven't seen from these Cowboys in quite some time.
Dak was far from perfect on Sunday night, but he did show why he is so hard to move on from. When the offensive line is clicking and Prescott can have that comfortability (that is all-too-rare in the NFL), he looks like his Rookie of the Year self. But, we all know that when things really break down, he isn't able to put the offense on his back the way the true "top" quarterbacks are.
I am a Dak Prescott fan. I'll make no mistake about it. But what do we call it when a quarterback is good enough to keep you competitive, can have wildly impressive plays/drives/games while also having wildly frustrating and bad plays/drives/games?
We call that quarterback purgatory. We call that the Cincinnati Bengals.
The only thing which separates Dak and Dallas from being in full purgatory mode, to be quite frank, is Prescott's youth. Because of that youth we can still hope that he can develop as a passer and quit being so gun-shy and timid to make tight window and anticipation throws.
But how long can a team truly wait before they become Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton losing by 30+ points at home?
It's a question which is tough for every team to answer. Dak Prescott is too good to easily replace with a random quarterback off the street, but it's hard to imagine he's good enough to get your team over the hump without significant help around him.
So, in the end, here we are. With the Cowboys at 4-5 fighting with an Alex Smith-led team for what will most likely prove to be a rather irrelevant division title.
But hey, it's always fun to win in Philly isn't it?
Leighton Vander Esch Is A Stud, And Should Be For A Long Time
The Cowboys took their fair share of heat for selecting linebacker Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. But through just over half a season, Dallas is looking vindicated in their decision.
Vander Esch was arguably the best defensive player on the field during Dallas' 27-20 win in Philadelphia Sunday night, and made the two biggest defensive plays of the game as well. Finishing with a game-high 13 tackles, Vander Esch was all over the field in both run and pass defense.
The first of his two massive plays came in the first quarter. After the Cowboys offense stalled deep in their own territory, the Eagles looked to be in prime position to strike first with a short field. On Carson Wentz' first pass attempt of the drive, however, Leighton Vander Esch was there to intercept him and return the ball back 28 yards.
Those return yards proved key as well, giving the Cowboys the short field and an easy path to their first three points of the night. And with the way their offense looked early in this game, Dallas could use all the help they could get.
The biggest play of the game, though, came late in the fourth quarter. With the Eagles facing a third and short and down seven points, they absolutely needed a conversion to keep pace with the surprisingly hot Cowboys offense. Philadelphia tried to beat Dallas with a running back screen to the backside, inviting the pass rush and getting blockers out in front.
There seemed to be nothing but blockers and green grass ahead for the Eagles on this play, with "Next Gen Stats" expecting a 22 yard gain after the catch. Then, Leighton Vander Esch eluded two blockers and tracked down the running back for a loss of 3.
Leighton Vander Esch made a game-saving tackle late in the 4th quarter to preserve the Cowboys 27-20 win. Corey Clement was expected to gain 22 yards after the catch (gained 3), -19 YAC Below Expectation, the most yards saved on a pass play this season. #DALvsPHI #DallasCowboys https://t.co/0DF7jhPQzH
If not for this tackle, who knows how both that Eagles' drive and the game would have ended. Vander Esch saved the day for Dallas, and forced the Eagles into a tough fourth and long situation with the game on the line.
I know it is still early in Vander Esch's career, and even relatively early in this season as well, but it's become clear the Cowboys hit a home run with their 2018 first round selection. Vander Esch is fitting in beside Jaylon Smith with ease, and with those two athletic freaks together, the Cowboys look to have one of the brightest defensive futures in all of football.
Of course, there are now legitimate questions about what the Cowboys should do with their captain Sean Lee. But as of right now, it should be Leighton Vander Esch's job to lose.
Can Cowboys LB Vander Esch Do Enough to Win DROY?
At 3-5, there are very few positive things to point out when discussing the 2018 Dallas Cowboys. One of those few things has been first-round rookie Leighton Vander Esch, whose play at linebacker has taken the league by surprise. Seen as a raw talent who could develop into an elite player with time as a prospect, Vander Esch's impact on the field has been immediate.
Through nine weeks in the NFL season, the Boise State product should definitely be in the Defensive Rookie of the Year discussion. As much as Sean Lee's injury will hurt the Cowboys' defense, it will get the rookie more playing time and a big opportunity to put his name in the minds of NFL Honors voters.
Sean Lee will miss some time after re-injuring his hamstring for the second time this season. Earlier in the year, Jaylon Smith and Vander Esch were able to keep the defense from crumbling without their veteran captain. Even with all the offensive struggles, that should continue to be the case for the linebackers.
Vander Esch has only played in 65% of the Cowboys' defensive snaps, yet he's tied for ninth place in solo tackles in the entire league with 49. He's at 64 total tackles and two pass deflections and has been a magnet to opposing ball carriers every time he's been on the field.
He's the third highest graded rookie LB for Pro Football Focus. Most times, rookies find success like this by being rotational players or simply splitting snaps with other players. But as previously mentioned, Lee has already been out for a handful of games in 2018 and Vander Esch has lived up to the hype.
Simply put, Leighton's play as a rookie has already put Sean Lee's future on the Cowboys in question. With such an injury history and a two young studs ready to take over the reigns, Dallas could very well release Lee prior to the 2019 season.
Now granted, the race for Defensive Rookie of the Year will not be an easy one to win for Vander Esch. Fourth overall pick Denzel Ward has been an impressive cornerback for the Browns and fifth-overall pick Bradley Chubb has been one of the best pass rushers on Sundays. Not to mention the NFL leader in solo tackles, Colts' LB Darius Leonard.
Despite a great start to his season, the Cowboys young LB will have to play way better for his name to be called when the Defensive Rookie of the Year is revealed at the NFL Honors event in February. There are some pretty big names he has to catch up with in order to make this happen.
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Should Cowboys Pursue Former Raider Bruce Irvin?
Player News2 weeks ago
BREAKING: Cowboys DT David Irving Suffers Potentially Severe Injury
Player News4 days ago
Legendary Cowboys Quarterback Backs Dak Prescott
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Could Cowboys Have Two WRs Make Their Debut Against Tennessee?
Player News2 weeks ago
Could WR Noah Brown Help the Cowboys at Tight End?
Dallas Cowboys7 days ago
Is Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones to be Trusted?
Dallas Cowboys2 days ago
Next Day Rant: Dak Prescott Shows Big Flaws in Big Win
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Why We’ll See a Different Cowboys Team VS Titans