I'm an optimist. One may call me an eternal optimist.
Even as the game seemed to be getting out of hand with your local heroes getting down 21-3, I felt like I was one of only a few people who still had hope our Dallas Cowboys could turn things around.
More than 7 minutes to play in the half. Get a score. Get a stop. Get a score. Asking a lot I know, but I'm still a believer.
Remember when we gave up 21 in the first half to Detroit and then shut em out in the second half. I do. D has been great at adjustments.
Think about it. There was a ton of time left in the game after Green Bay scored its third touchdown, and some were already conceding.
I saw tweets that said "ballgame" and "It's over." But what had we seen from the Dallas Cowboys all season? They repeatedly showed an ability for Dak Prescott and the offense to respond and the ability for the defense to make adjustments.
Dallas was down 18 points, and then outscored the Green Bay Packers 25-7 to tie it at 28 before trading field goals. That led to one of the most heartbreaking finishes to a sports game that I have witnessed.
The only games that can compete with that heartbreak were:
- Dallas at Green Bay in 2014 (Dez Bryant caught it)
- 2011 Texas Rangers to clinch the World Series in Game Six (Nelson Cruz didn't catch it).
Dallas' comeback in the game on Sunday, though it ultimately wasn't enough, raised a lot of eyebrows in Cowboys Nation, mine included. The eternal optimist, while disappointed in the loss, can only see a great and mighty future coming for the Dallas Cowboys.
Much To Look Forward To The Future Has Arrived
So much has already been said about our rookie quarterback, Dak Prescott, but he passed another test in my eye.
What do you do when you're down by three scores?
Rally the troops. You make the plays that are available to make and get points where you can get points, while at the same time realizing you can't do it all yourself.
The quarterback of the next 10 to 15 years has arrived
We won't have to live through another batch of QBs like Chad Hutchinson, Drew Henson, or Ryan Leaf for some time. We have the next Franchise quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. An esteemed list that includes; Roger Staubach, Don Meredith, Danny White, Troy Aikman, Tony Romo, and now Dak Prescott.
Prescott showed the ability to win games in the NFL when teams made him do it.
Defenses attempted to take Ezekiel Elliott away and make Dak Prescott beat them all season long. And on many occasions, including Sunday, he did just that; beat the defense in front of him.
We saw a quarterback who can not only make plays with his arms and his legs, but also win the mental side of the game. He made adjustments to what the defense was throwing at him. The biggest thing -- to me -- that showed a ton of maturity was "living to fight another day."
For Dak Prescott, punts aren't a bad thing.
Let's also give the coaching staff a ton of credit as well. When they got him on the field, they saw in him the reason to pass on Nick Foles and Josh McCown. They and the other quarterbacks on the roster got him prepared to play every week and he did that pretty much every week.
Only the New York Giants were able to "figure out" the offense. Every other NFL team left scratching their head about the way they played against the Dallas Cowboys offense.
No Longer an Identity Crisis
Over the last several years, the Dallas Cowboys have found an identity as a physical run-first football team.
They've committed serious resources to the offensive front and established the Dallas Cowboys as the premiere running team in the NFL. And everything that the Cowboys are about is built on the foundation of that offensive line.
The core of the offensive line is still very young in offensive line years. They'll be protecting Prescott and paving the way for Elliott for years to come. They will likely replace Ronald Leary with La'el Collins and have to find someone to replace Doug Free, but the core of the line, Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin, will be here for a long time.
Solid Building Blocks
The defense, while showing flaws, has some really nice pieces to be excited about.
Anthony Brown has a chance to be a player on this team for years. Maliek Collins is looking like the three-technique the team's been looking for since the beginning of the Rod Marinelli era. Don't forget about Sean Lee and his first-team All-Pro performance.
Byron Jones, who admittedly played his worst game at the worst time, is still a heck of a player. J.J. Wilcox is likely going to return and showed marked improvement as the year went on; he may have a chance to unseat Barry Church at the strong safety position.
And guess what?
The defense will receive an injection of talent from a couple of 2016 draft picks. Projected middle linebacker Jaylon Smith and defensive end Charles Tapper (who I'm really looking forward to seeing) look like they will be ready to go at least by training camp.
Still Got Those X-Factors
While there's a good chance Terrance Williams and Brice Butler are with another team in 2017, the team will return its two leading receivers in Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley. Bryant has always been great, and he showed it again on Sunday with his best game of the season, and at the most important time.
Cole Beasley, who led the team in receiving in 2016, is now considered one of the best slot wide receivers in the NFL. I expect him to continue to get better. He is now the second receiving option for the Dallas Cowboys.
Continuity is Key
The coaching staff continues to get better, and with maintained continuity they will continue to grow in their communication, game planning, and execution. It doesn't seem like Marinelli or Scott Linehan are going anywhere and I think that's for the best. For Dak Prescott, having continuity in the coaching staff can be huge to his development.
After years of the front office bungling the draft and free agency, I now have high expectations and a high amount of confidence in the front office. Every offseason they're going to make the right moves and the right draft picks to make the team better.
Jerry Jones, Will McClay, Stephen Jones, and Jason Garrett have figured out how to balance the scouting reports with the coaching desires. And they're just getting started if 2016 is any indication of what's to come.
A Bright Future
The organization as a whole is getting better and that is translating to success on the field.
Be disappointed in the outcome of the game. Be disappointed that a team who looked ready for a deep run got beat by a future hall of Famer who played his tail off. Losses happen, but the winners learn and grow from their setbacks.
With Dak, Dez, the OL, Elliott, and the coaching staff, I have a ton of belief that by this time next year the Dallas Cowboys will be poised for yet another deep playoff run.
Only this time with a much different result.
What is your dream scenario for the 2017 offseason to help the Dallas Cowboys contend again next season?
Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?
It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.
Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.
A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.
Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.
First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:
- Earl Thomas
- Landon Collins
- Lamarcus Joyner
- Tyrann Mathieu
- Adrian Amos
- Clayton Geathers
- Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
- Glover Quinn
- Tre Boston
- Kenny Vaccaro
- George Iloka
- Jimmie Ward
- Adrian Phillips
Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.
With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.
Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.
Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.
The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.
Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?
Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors
What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.
Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?
As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.
Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.
Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.
That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.
However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.
Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.
Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.
The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.
Just something to think about...
2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back
To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.
As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.
Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.
These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.
Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.
Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.
Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.
Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.
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