Only two of the eight division winners in 2015 made the playoffs in 2016 (Patriots & Texans). There hasn't been back to back NFC East champions since 2004, the last year the Eagles controlled the division, and for four straight years (2001-2004). The Dallas Cowboys haven’t had back to back 10-win seasons since the mid-1990’s.
Life in the NFL moves fast. Parity is the goal of the league. Repeating success is hard. So why am I so confident that the Dallas Cowboys will wrap up the NFC East again in 2017? Let’s dive in.
This coaching staff and front office have been together for a while now.
That sentence is so important. Read it again. Seriously.
It’s a relationship, just like having a long-term boyfriend or girlfriend. You know what they like, what they don’t like, how to make them happy. Consistency starts at the top, and all of these draft picks--this year, last year, etc.--were picked for this scheme and these coaches.
Veterans aren’t learning something from the ground up, they’re changing a few things and working on some new wrinkles, but they know the majority of the playbook. Not dealing with the fear or stress of being fired can do wonders for an organization.
The Jones’ may be set for years.
This early in the preseason we know little about how this most recent group of draft picks will perform in games. However, we do have an idea of how last year’s draft performed in year one, and therefore an idea of how they might perform in year two.
You hope to see improvement, which of course that doesn’t always happen, although you would assume not all of the talented players would have down years together.
There are a lot of talented players from last year’s draft too; if you follow me on twitter (@SingForTheDay) you probably know that I've mentioned how the 2016 draft could’ve produced 8 people making the 46-man game day roster if everything breaks right (Elliott, Jaylon Smith, Maliek Collins, Charles Tapper, Dak Prescott, Anthony Brown, Kavon Frazier, Rico Gathers).
Draft picks are gambles, lottery tickets. You don’t get eight players that work out from a single draft. No one gets that lucky, do they Mr. Jones?
Dak as the Starter
Last year Dak Prescott was the third string quarterback. As such he was not getting many reps with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, or Jason Witten. Now they will have had a whole off-season and training camp to work together.
We saw a noticeable difference in Dez Bryant between the first half of the season and the second half. Dez is healthy, and he’s been working with his quarterback.
This bodes well for Cowboys fans, but should worry opponents.
The Goal is Set
This team has their eyes on the prize. They’re not rebuilding, they’re not trying to make the playoffs early in their careers. They know they’re a contender, they comport themselves as such. They practice like they are preparing for a run. Not at the division, at the whole caboodle. They have veteran players that know how fickle an NFL season can be.
Dez brings the passion, Witten brings the work ethic, Orlando Scandrick brings the dog, Sean Lee brings the hustle, and the offensive line sets the tone. They have the pieces, every team has its weaknesses, it’s about overcoming those. There is an urgency, this team is hungry for greatness.
The concerns about the 2017 Dallas Cowboys are well documented already, well before week 1 has kicked off. Pass Rush. Secondary turnover. “Sophomore slump.” A suspension that is still in the appeal process--and could be dragged out further in court. I can talk all day about those, it’s up to the players to prove people wrong.
What I would like to address here is that fact that every team has question marks. No one is exempt.
Let’s take a quick look at the NFC East competition:
- New York Giants: Aging QB with a tired arm that needs to bounce back (no great backup either). Inconsistent offensive line play. Running game, what’s that? Can the defense repeat?
- Washington Redskins: Dysfunctional front office. Offensive Coordinator change. Wide Receiver turnover. Offensive line and pass rush concerns. Running back having to lose weight to compete.
- Philadelphia Eagles: Has the QB fixed his mechanical issues? Pass catcher and secondary concerns. Unproven head coach.
Point is, the whole division has question marks.
Who do you trust to answer the bell on the majority of issues, become NFC East Champions, and make a legitimate run at the Lombardi?
Let me know on twitter @SingForTheDay or in the comments below.
Where In The World Is DE Taco Charlton?
Over pretty much the last decade, the Dallas Cowboys have been rock solid with their first round picks. With selections of Ezekiel Elliott, Travis Frederick, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Leighton Vander Esch (just to name a handful), Dallas has rebuilt the core of their roster through the NFL Draft.
It's nearly impossible to bat .1000 in any round of the draft, however, and this appears to be the current case with the Cowboys' 2017 first round pick.
Defensive end Taco Charlton has not had the sophomore season that he, or anyone, had hoped for. A healthy scratch last Sunday, Charlton has only been active for 1 of the Cowboys' last 5 games, and has not recorded a sack or tackle since week 9.
Prior to disappearing with injuries and "attitude issues," Charlton had only recorded 1 sack on the season and was beginning to fall behind his Hot Boy-brethren. Defensive end Randy Gregory has reached his form over the last few weeks, Tyrone Crawford is having arguably a career year, and DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the best ends in all of football.
This doesn't leave much room for Charlton, who's now having issues even getting on the gameday roster. Rod Marinelli dodged questions about Taco Charlton earlier this week, vaguely saying they are "moving forward" and that he'd like to talk about other players on his defensive line who are performing.
Rod Marinelli on Taco Charlton's benching and being inactive last week: "We just keep moving along keep going forward. It's kinda been out there I'd leave it at that. I'd rather talk about our two tackles.
Charlton has not been quiet about his displeasure as of late, either. He's taken to Twitter to voice his frustrations, saying that not only is his shoulder fine but that the Dallas media is making up stories about his absence. He's also posted some cryptic tweets such as this one, with a picture of Allen Iverson and a caption reading "Every players needs that one coach to believe in them."
Maybe Taco is right. Maybe he just needs increased opportunity and a support system/coach that believes in him whole-heartedly. After all, Charlton has faced nothing but doubters and detractors since the second he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
But in the NFL, the ultimate "what have you done for me lately" sport, it's hard to imagine he'll get that unwavering support anywhere in the league. He's going to have to "earn" his playing time, as head coach Jason Garrett spoke to earlier in the week. But with the plethora of talent the Cowboys are already putting out there on the defensive line, it's becoming difficult to see exactly where Taco Charlton can fit in on this defense.
It's possible, and fine, if it is simply not a fit between Charlton and the Cowboys at this point. But I'd also be wary of giving up on your first round pick in just his second NFL season. Another offseason with the team, working on his craft and getting fully healthy, should do Charlton wonders, and hopefully allow us to get a better read on his future with the Cowboys going forward.
Until then, we are all left to scratch out heads and wonder what in the world is going on with the Cowboys and Taco Charlton, and if the former first round pick will have a future in Dallas at all.
Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC
2018 has seen the emergence of high-powered offenses in both NFL conferences. The Kansas City Chiefs sit atop the AFC and the NFC is spearheaded by the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. Through 14 weeks, these three teams are the top three offenses in the NFL, each averaging over 30 points per game. This year, for the first time in NFL history, two teams scored more than 50 in the same game.
Thanks to this consistent impressive offensive performances, you would think "offense" is the name of the game for the 2018 NFL season. Well, not so fast, my friend. Despite sitting atop the NFC, the Saints and the Rams have recently suffered losses that indicate hope is anything but lost for defensive teams in the league.
The Chicago Bears were able to bring down the Rams last Sunday Night 15-6. The same offense that averages 33 points per game was limited to six points. Sean McVay's remarkable offense went home with no touchdowns to talk about on the plane back home. Instead, they probably discussed Jared Goff's four interceptions.
Weeks earlier, the Dallas Cowboys shocked the world when they brought down the Saints. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas simply couldn't move the ball against Leighton Vander Esch, DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones. 13 points were all the Cowboys needed to score to beat an offense that was averaging 37 per game heading into week 13 but was only able to put up 10 in Dallas.
The Cowboys are the #4 seed with the Bears slightly ahead of them as the #3 seed in the NFC. Together, these teams have defeated the top two in the conference. Now granted, playoffs will definitely be different.
For starters, if they are to advance to the divisional round, they'll be on the road. Chicago was surely benefited by playing in such a cold weather versus a Los Angeles team. As far as the Cowboys are concerned, few times has AT&T Stadium been as loud as when they beat the Saints.
Hopefully, we'll get to see both of these elite defenses advance to the Divisional Round to square off against this couple of high-powered offenses again. We will not only be witnessing amazing football games, but a great discussion regarding the everlasting debate between offense and defense.
For years, "defense wins championships" has been a widely accepted statement in football. The Cowboys and Bears have made that same statement resound recently with their impressive wins.
Can they do it again in January football? Can they do it on the road?
Cowboys en Español: Los Colts No Son Cualquier Rival
Al igual que el resto de la afición de los Dallas Cowboys, parte de mí se siente confiada respecto a este equipo visitando a Indianapolis Colts y resultando victoriosos. ¿El problema? Los Colts no son un rival sencillo de vencer. Si crees que la racha de los Cowboys los intimidará, piensa de nuevo. Los Houston Texans llevaban nueve victorias al hilo antes de enfrentarse a este equipo.
Siendo objetivos, este puede ser el partido que evite que los Cowboys cierren su temporada con ocho victorias al hilo para terminar el año con un récord de 11-5. Ni los Tampa Bay Buccaneers ni los New York Giants deberían presentar amenaza alguna contra Dallas. Lo mismo no se puede decir de Indianapolis.
Por primera vez en mucho tiempo, Andrew Luck está realmente de vuelta. Gracias a una reconstrucción de su línea ofensiva, su nivel de juego a regresado al nivel que conocíamos de él desde que llegó a la NFL. Afortunadamente para los Colts, Luck se ha mantenido sano toda la temporada y no se ve rastro alguno de sus lesiones anteriores en el emparrillado.
T.Y. Hilton está teniendo un muy buen año y sin duda alguna presentará un reto para Byron Jones y el resto de la secundaria de los Cowboys. Eric Ebron en la posición de tight end también será un dolor de cabeza para la defensiva.
Lo más interesante se dará en las trincheras. Los Cowboys han hecho un muy buen trabajo presionando quarterbacks opuestos en la temporada, pero si el centro de los Colts, Ryan Kelly está sano el domingo, se enfrentarán al mejor duo de centro-guardia en la liga actualmente. Con Quenton Nelson al lado, Luck estará muy bien protegido.
Sin embargo, Kelly no ha jugado debido a una lesión y aún está por verse si tomará el campo el domingo por la mañana. Los Cowboys hicieron un muy buen trabajo a la entonces ofensiva #1 de la liga, los New Orleans Saints, pero eso no significa que la ofensiva #8 que tienen los Colts no los retará.
Promediando 27 puntos por juego, la defensiva necesitará ayuda de Dak Prescott y compañía para ganar el partido. Dallas continúa moviendo el balón efectivamente, pero es tiempo de anotar touchdowns y no goles de campo.
Ezekiel Elliott será, una vez más, clave para la victoria. Enfrentándose a una defensiva Top 10 contra el juego terrestre, mover las cadenas con Zeke no será tan fácil. El novato Darius Leonard como linebacker ha sido algo espectacular otra temporada al igual que Leighton Vander Esch. Liderando a toda la NFL en tackleadas, estará listo para recibir a los Cowboys al Lucas Oil Stadium.
Lo más importante de este partido...
Por más impresionante que sea la racha de cinco victorias consecutivas, los Cowboys tienen que demostrar que pueden ganarle a un equipo fuerte estando de visita. Porque hay que admitirlo, Jason Garrett y su equipo no han tenido éxito fuera de casa. Claro, le ganaron a un equipo debilitado de Philadelphia Eagles y a unos Atlanta Falcons que va 4-9.
Este equipo "nuevo" de los Cowboys no ha ido contra un rival de calidad siendo el visitante. Es tiempo de demostrar que lo pueden hacer, ya que si quieren contender en postemporada, es justo lo que necesitarán... jugar bien de visita.
Sinceramente creo que los Cowboys ganan este partido. Principalmente gracias a su defensiva, pero también veo a la ofensiva dominar el tiempo de posesión en un juego de pocos puntos. Es tiempo de mantener esa racha.
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Should Cowboys Address TE Injuries and Inexperience With This FA?
Star Blog1 week ago
Why is Jerry Jones “keeping a very close eye” on the Kareem Hunt Case?
Player News2 weeks ago
Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch a Dominant Defensive Duo
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Will Kris Richard’s Success End Jason Garrett’s Era in Dallas?
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
David Irving’s Return Could Make Cowboys’ Defense Even Scarier
Player News2 weeks ago
Cowboys Reinforcements on the Way, How Should Dallas Deploy Them?
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Randy Gregory Is Looking Like We Always Thought He Could
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Wide Receiver Michael Gallup Making a Huge Impact for Dallas Cowboys