To say the Dallas Cowboys have been fortunate as an organization to have had some of the best wide receivers to ever play the game would be an understatement. I could sit here and throw numerous names at you, but you pretty much know who they are. One name that probably isn't in that conversation yet is Dez Bryant, but should it be?
Now, I know opinions will vary as to whether or not Dez Bryant deserves to be mentioned in the same context as Michael Irvin, Drew Pearson, or Bob Hayes, but I'm of the opinion that it might start to be. Michael Irvin and Bob Hayes of course are Hall of Famer's and it can be argued that Drew Pearson belongs there as well, so it's understandable why Bryant isn't linked to them very often. The good news is though, Dez Bryant does share something in common with each one of these WRs.
Dez Bryant shares a connection with Michael Irvin and Drew Pearson by the number jersey he was awarded when the Dallas Cowboys drafted him, #88. It's a number that has been at the forefront of many big moments in Cowboys history and something Jerry Jones was hopeful Dez Bryant could continue during his tenure with the organization. Whether or not he has lived up to those expectations would be an interesting topic for discussion, but it's Bryant's connection with Bob Hayes I want to focus on.
Unfortunately, Bob Hayes' playing days were before my time, but I know all too well who he is and what he meant to the Cowboys organization. Hayes played for the Dallas Cowboys for nearly a decade (1965-1974), and during that time he set numerous records that still stand today. But, one of his records is in jeopardy of being broken by Dez Bryant after standing for nearly 50 years.
You would think Dez Bryant tying Bob Hayes for the most touchdown receptions (71) in Cowboys history would've garnered more attention last week, but it kind of slipped the cracks. I'm sure it was mentioned at the time, but I think everybody was so caught up in the dominant performance the Cowboys had put together against the 49ers, that it was quickly forgotten.
Well, I'm 100% positive that it will be a big storyline this week against the Washington Redskins. Dez Bryant has a chance to sit atop the TD reception list for the Dallas Cowboys if he can find himself in the end zone this Sunday against the Redskins. But, it probably isn't going to be an easy thing to accomplish.
You see, it's looking more and more as if Josh Norman will be back on the field when the Dallas Cowboys come to town. Norman has missed the last few weeks due to an injury, but you can bet he will not pass up the chance to battle Dez Bryant, even if he's not at 100%.
It's pretty much guaranteed it will be entertaining every time Dez Bryant and Josh Norman square off against one another. They are two of the more fiery competitors in the NFL and neither one of them wants to give an inch to the other. We have seen it in past ballgames and now in commercials. So, you can bet Norman will do his best to keep Bryant from breaking Bob Hayes record against him.
Now, I'm not going to bet against Dez Bryant though. If I was him, I think it would just add more fuel to the fire. What better way to break a record that has stood nearly 50 years for the Dallas Cowboys than to do it against someone you respect and despise at the same time? That is exactly what Josh Norman is to Bryant.
I know I'm biased, but I really hope Dez Bryant is able to score the 72nd touchdown of his career and surpassed "Bullet Bob" Hayes. Not only would it be amazing to do it against a competitor like Josh Norman, but it would prove beneficial to the chances of the Cowboys beating the Redskins. That is the bigger picture after all.
Do you think Dez Bryant can break Bob Hayes record against Washington?
Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019
It's been a few years since things around the Dallas Cowboys felt this good prior to a season. Coming off a 10-6 year in which Dallas won both the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a one possession road game to the future NFC champions, Cowboys Nation is expecting some big things in 2019.
After all, the Cowboys went out and improved their roster in multiple ways this offseason and brought in some new blood on their offensive coaching staff. Spirits are high among Cowboys Nation, and just about everyone is anticipating a two team race for the NFC East.
But some numbers indicate we should be thinking "not so fast."
The details of the 2018 season are not as pretty as the total picture. Rarely are they ever, of course, but these particular details point towards possible regression for the Cowboys in 2019.
Basically, their point differential a year ago spells out impending doom. (That was dramatic, but let's discuss).
The Cowboys were +15 in 2018, and by pythagorean wins expectation, they were about as strong as an 8-8 team (8.53 wins to be exact). This means they won nearly 2 more games (1.47) than would be expected, fourth most in the entire NFL.
This point is furthered when looking at their record in one possession games. Dallas went 8-2 when the game was decided by 7 points or less, winning close games at a rate that is simply not sustainable year to year.
These numbers make the Cowboys a prime candidate for regression in 2019, as they were in 2017.
Back in 2016, the Cowboys outperformed their pythagorean expectation by a whole 2 wins. The following season? Dallas finished the year 9-7. The model also indicated that the 7-9 Eagles performed 2 wins under expectations in 2016, meaning they would get back on track in 2017. As we know, they ended up winning 13 games and the Super Bowl the following season.
Of course, this isn't set-in-stone, and the Cowboys very well could outperform these expectations and avoid regression. This would mainly hinge on their coaching staff and quarterback performing at an elite level, carrying them through close games and winning more games by greater than one possession.
Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations
Winning games in the NFL typically comes down to accomplishing two goals. One, being successful when passing on offense. And, two, stopping the opposing team's passing game.
The Cowboys set out to accomplish that second goal this offseason, re-signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and trading for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn. Quinn, who tallied 6.5 sacks last season for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the leagues more feared rushers when at his best. The former All Pro has multiple 10+ sack seasons under his belt, including a whopping 19 in 2013.
And, as expected, the Cowboys coaching staff is ecstatic to have such a respected pass rushing specialist on their roster.
“He’s got that first step. He’s an established pass rusher in this league, so he’s going to bring some good stuff for us.” - Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
The Cowboys acquired Robert Quinn for a 2020 6th round pick, which could end up being the steal of the offseason. Quinn has played with some top-notch pass rushers in the past, and each time they have brought out the best in his own game.
Back with the Rams in 2017, when Aaron Donald was on the same defensive line, Quinn got to the quarterback 8.5 times. And, last season, he remained consistent in his sack totals playing alongside Cameron Wake. Now he joins a DeMarcus Lawrence who has 25 sacks over the last 2 seasons.
"I think it was kind of one of those where I get to have fun, pin my ears back and just disrupt the backfield, which is what they want us to do." - Robert Quinn told NFL.com.
Quinn and the always dominant Lawrence will form an impressive defensive end duo on passing downs, with the potential to be one of the best in all of football. Dallas is also hoping to add Randy Gregory into this mix, a piece which could prove vital late in football games if he is able to return from his current indefinite suspension.
Whether or not Gregory finds his way back onto the field, though, this defensive front will be in good hands. The edge combo of Quinn and Lawrence, combined with a plethora of skilled interior rushers such as Maliek Collins, gives the Cowboys a fearsome defensive line which should keep quarterbacks uncomfortable every Sunday.
Can Rookie OL Connor McGovern Compete For A Starting Spot?
Raising eyebrows in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cowboys added Penn State offensive lineman Connor McGovern to their already deep OL depth chart.
McGovern, who played guard for the Nittany Lions, was reportedly by-far the best player remaining on the Cowboys draft board when they came on the clock in round three. Still, with seemingly more pressing needs yet to be addressed, Dallas' selection of McGovern was certainly a surprise.
When you watch the tape, though, you immediately see what the Cowboys loved about Connor McGovern.
A "plug-and-play" type guard, Connor McGovern is the type of rookie you'd expect to contribute in year one. On many teams he may be a candidate to start at guard or center from the beginning of his rookie season, but here in Dallas, his role for the 2019 season is somewhat in question.
Clearly, being a day two pick, there's no doubt that McGovern will make the Cowboys roster. But can he compete for a starting job?
During OTA's McGovern took reps at both guard and center, pointing towards the possibility of him being the first interior offensive lineman off the bench if one of the starters were to go down with an injury. Fellow interior linemen Joe Looney and Xavier Su'a-Filo each contributed in big ways during the 2018 season, however, and will be tough to beat out during camp.
While possible, I would still say it's unlikely. The Cowboys selection of McGovern seems to be more about 2020 and beyond than it is about the 2019 season. With right tackle La'el Collins coming up on a contract year, Dallas might elect to let him walk in free agency, move Williams back to his college position of tackle, and slide McGovern into the left guard slot.
This seems fool-proof in theory, but this many moving parts across the offensive line could spell trouble early on in 2020. Regardless, Connor McGovern's arrival gives Dallas the flexibility to consider all options on their offensive line.
In reality, McGovern strengthened a strength for Dallas, and may be needed to prove himself as early as this Fall if injury issues arise.
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