Amidst a barrage of "the season's over" comments from both fans and analysts alike, I felt it was a good time to take an objective look at where the Cowboys stand. Before we dive into the discussion, let's present the key data that we'll be using. Here are the current NFC East standings and the schedules for the Giants, Eagles, and Cowboys over the next four weeks:
[table id=30 /]
GIANTS: Patriots, BYE, @Washington, Jets
EAGLES: Dolphins, Bucs, @Lions, @Patriots
COWBOYS: @Bucs, @Dolphins, Panthers, @Washington
Now, it's important up front to admit how steep the climb will be. Things both within and outside of Dallas' control would all need to swing the right way to make it happen. If you think it's silly to even consider the notion of a positive outcome, I can't blame you given the circumstances.
However, as the late Yogi Berra might have put it, nothing's impossible until it's impossible.
The Cowboys are three wins behind the first-place Giants. They've already split their head-to-head series and have the same division record. This week Dallas gets the middling Tampa Bay Bucs while New York has to go on the road to face New England. There's a decent chance of a Cowboys win and a Giants loss, narrowing the gap to just two games.
And then Tony Romo comes back!
While the Giants take their bye week, Dallas will likely get Romo back for a road game against the struggling Dolphins. Building off the Week 10 scenario we just discussed, Cowboys win and Giants loss, let's now consider the possibility of a win in Romo's first game back. The records at that point? Giants 5-5, Cowboys 4-6.
The Eagles can't be ignored, either. They have a soft schedule coming up with home games against Miami and Tampa, then on the road for the Lions. They could reel off three wins before a likely loss in New England, which might make them the division front-runner by this time next month. However, as with the Giants, Dallas has split the head-to-heads and has the same division record for key positioning with tiebreakers.
As for Washington... yeah.....
See why I'm not ready to throw in the towel? It's easy to look at Dallas' 2-6 record and be ready to surrender, but you have to look at this NFC East and see room for hope. None of our rivals are great teams this year. None of them looked poised to make a big run toward the playoffs.
In fact, if any team is in position to do that, it is indeed the Cowboys. Assuming Romo is back and providing a significant upgrade from our current quarterbacks, Dallas has the same basic components in place that led to a 12-4 record and the NFC East crown last year. They've found that run-game dominance against with Darren McFadden and La'el Collins joining the starting lineup. The defense has its problems but it's certainly no worse than last year's.
Now, if they go lose in Tampa this week and then fall to 2-9 or even 3-8 against the Dolphins and Panthers, I'm certainly looking at things differently. But it's just too damn soon to waive that white flag and start worrying about your draft position. We have eight games to overcome a three-game gap.
Do the math. Don't give up.
Cowboys Trade for FB Jamize Olawale from Raiders
Less than a week after the Cowboys lost fullback Keith Smith to the Raiders in free agency, the two teams have worked out a trade to send FB Jamize Olawale from Oakland to Dallas.
Fullback trade! The #Raiders are sending FB Jamize Olawale to the #Cowboys, sources say. Dallas has its fullback, one who was with Oakland since 2012.
To facilitate the trade, the Cowboys will send their fifth-round pick (173rd overall) to the Raiders for their sixth-round pick (192nd), moving back just 19 spots.
In return, Dallas not only brings in a veteran replacement at FB but a player they already know.
Jamize Olawale was an undrafted rookie free agent of the Cowboys in 2012. Despite a strong showing in that preseason, Dallas did not have room for him on the roster. He was on the team's practice squad until December, when Oakland poached him.
Since then, Olawale has been a regular roleplayer in the Raiders' offense. He's missed just six games since 2013.
Jamize brings more offensive firepower to the FB position than Keith Smith had. He's scored at least one touchdown in each of the last three seasons. He can be effective both running and receiving.
Through the trade, Dallas picks up the final year of Olawale's current contract. It calls for a $1.5 million base salary in 2018.
Dallas Cowboys to Re-Sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for 2018
Continuity is the key to good special teams play in the NFL. Already losing long-time Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia to the Raiders - who promptly snatched ST aces Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber in free agency - the Dallas Cowboys have announced their intentions to re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for the 2018 season.
Returning on a one-year deal, the fan favorite Ladouceur will be back to do what he does best in cleanly executing almost every special teams snap for Chris Jones or Dan Bailey to handle.
Long snapper L.P. Ladouceur will re-sign with the Cowboys on Monday, according to sources, on a one-year deal. He will be in his 14th season with the franchise. Only Jason Witten, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Bill Bates and Mark Tuinei will have more years of... https://t.co/yTQbMYyrIv
While Jones has improved as the Cowboys' punter with each passing season, Kicker Dan Bailey actually enters 2018 as another question mark on this unit. With the general belief around the team being that Bailey will be just fine moving forward, the Cowboys will no longer have to worry about who handles long snaps next year either.
L.P. Ladouceur is back in the silver and blue, and in this moment, everything can be alright with the world.
Report: Raiders Sign Former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber
A Free Agency period filled with departures continued for the Dallas Cowboys today, as the Oakland Raiders have reportedly signed the now-former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber.
The Raiders have signed LB Kyle Wilber: https://t.co/TaC6cqjval
Wilber has been with the Cowboys since 2012, and has played in all 16 games four of the past five seasons. Most of his time has come on special teams, but he did provide solid linebacker depth for the Cowboys since joining the team.
Dallas has now lost both Wilber and Anthony Hitchens, depleting their linebacker depth even further over the last couple weeks.
The Raiders have now signed two key special teams contributors for the Cowboys in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber this offseason. Hopefully Dallas can replace these types of "replacement level" players throughout the rest of the offseason, especially during the NFL Draft.
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