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Dallas Cowboys

Change Is In The Air

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Summer is in full bloom, and that means we are getting ever so close to the beginning of training camp. It is this time of year that has every football fan tied in knots, and I am no different.

While the Cowboys have yet to don anything but shorts and helmets the style of this team is beginning to take focus.

Every team in the NFL is good enough to win the Super Bowl! Or at least that is what they want us to believe. This years Dallas Cowboys are no different, at this moment many of us have very legitimate concerns about the receiver, quarterback, and O-line positions and basically the overall play of the offense.

Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips can tell us all day long that they have faith in the young receivers and that the offense is working hard and coming together, and blah, blah blah! We all know that the majority of that is just a bunch of crap to make us feel warm and fuzzy about the upcoming year!

Let me be clear about something, the offense in my opinion should be as good as and possibly better than last year’s team. I honestly feel and believe that Romo will be a better QB this year, and that Roy Williams can and will do a more than adequate job as the teams #1 receiver, and with the running game that the Boys have this should be enough to carry that side of the ball.

The offensive unit will always be the most glorified, it has all the stars, and scores all the TD’s, but I am here to tell you that if you are an offensive person, and like to see scores in the 40’s each week you are in for a rude awakening.

This is now a control and time of possession unit, we should no longer see play after play of three receivers all running 40 yard triple move routes (not saying we are not going to see these still, just not as many), instead we will see a lot of two tight end sets, short hooks, out routes, slants, and fades, but primarily large amounts of MBIII, Felix, and T-Choice.

There is something taking place on this team that everyone should start paying attention to, THE DEFENSE!!

Granted there has been very minimal contact so far so we cannot quite see the full picture yet, but all the early reports talk about how attacking, and pressure filled this unit is. Mickey Spagnola at DC.com had a great article up on Tuesday about this very thing. Here is my rookie attempt at designing a graphic that shows the alignment!

Def Alignment

In his article he went into pretty in depth detail about how the defense was lined up at one point in the day, and I must tell you this type of scenario is going to cause major headaches for opposing offenses.

Everyday it seems I hear about the competitions taking place on the defensive side of the ball, and each and every one of these guys are pushing each other to be the best. This unit already has there competitive juices boiling over, and its FREAKING JUNE!

This unit is priming itself to have a major impact not only within the team, but they are looking to, in the immortal words of Ebby Calvin 'Nuke" LaLoosh “Announce their presence with authority!”

We have all heard the old saying “where there is smoke there is usually fire!” all I can say is that the defense of the Dallas Cowboys has had a ton of smoke emitting from its smoke stack!


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8 Comments
  • https://insidethestar.com/ Doran Palmer

    Not bad. I agree. The defense is looking to be a serious beast just based on the schemes and alignments being used in practices. Full contact will change things up a little because the speed of the game will change from it, but I think we’re all fairly confident that these guys aren’t afraid to hit. The rookies we don’t know about so much, but there’s enough vets to take care of that part.

    I’m just glad to finally hear about Alan Ball and Courtney Brown doing something worthy of a roster spot. I hope that continues through the offseason.

  • Jonathan

    3.4 yards. That’s the goal. If you want to avoid the dreaded 3 and out, averaging 3.4 yards per carry/pass moves the sticks on third down. If you want to keep your defense fresh, the baby step approach to offense is the most ideal. If you want to dominate the clock and control the game, then exhausting the run, the flats, and the intermediate seam is where your offense should live and die.

    I’ve been saying it for years now: The scheme that T.O. demanded, handicapped this team as a whole. With age, T.O. is not ideal for the slant or the WR screen. He doesn’t have the wiggle or the strength to shed off potential tacklers, to be effective, used in that capacity. The only way he was effective is if he caught the ball in stride and had already reached max speed. But beyond that, truth be told, he was ineffective to say the least.

    The addition by subtraction cliche truly does apply to the release of T.O. for two reasons: One, he won’t be campaigning for the ball and therefore, Romo, won’t have to second guess his initial reads on who should be open. In 07 and 08, his eye’s would look from T.O., to Witten, back to T.O., to the other eligible receiver, which resulted in way too much time spent in the pocket. Now, he can make his presnap read without prejudice and get the ball out quick like we all know he is capable of doing.

    The second addition is the ability to get different talent on the field in different ways to keep the opposing defense quessing; think two TE sets, dual or all three RB’s at once, the Razorback, a HB in the slot…the list goes on and on. With T.O., it was though the Cowboy’s paid a T.O. tax to shut him up by forcing balls in his direction.

    Of course, I didn’t begin this comment with the intention of dragging T.O. into another discussion, but it’s important to understand, despite losing his potential production as a receiver, the Cowboy’s have gained some from not having him don the Blue Star on the side of his head.

    Now to the defense:

    Believe it or not, even with the injury to Newman, the suspension to Pacman, the slowing and undersized Anthony Henry, subpar safety play, and rookies manning quite a few starting positions throughout the year, the Cowboys still managed to finish 5th in the league in pass defense. That’s right, I couldn’t believe it myself when I recently looked this up, but it’s true. Now, imagine: We’ve improved our Safety position through Free Agency and Draft – and let’s face it, it didn’t take much. Experience took a shot, but we improved in speed at CB. And if you consider that Mike Jenkins is better suited for man defense and that is a shift the Wade has already indicated we are moving to, it’s safe to assume that our CB position has improved. Then, at LB, another position responsible for coverage duty, once again we lost in experience, but speed was a definite upgrade. One could safely assume that this defense will be extremely stingy.

    I honestly think our interdivisional foes, as well as the rest of the league and sport’s analyst currently underestimating our Cowboys, are in for a rude awakening.

  • bags030404

    Great insight Johnathan! I like the team better when everyone thinks they will suck!

  • Jonathan

    Thanks bags. Sorry for rambling, I tend to do that. I, too, am glad that everyone thinks the Cowboy’s suck. Aside from the ideal mental state that it puts are team in, it gives us alot more to talk about in the offseason; particularly if you are like me and disagree with most of them. And I don’t think I’m being too unrealistic in my assessment of this team.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ Doran Palmer

    Not at all. I’ve actually want you to write for us so everyone can better see your thoughts on the team, you’re spot on in everything so far. We appreciate it.

  • Jonathan

    Doran – I’d love to. I actually have a few pieces that I’ve submitted to other forums that might work if you are looking for material. Just let me know where to send them and I’ll let you be the judge. Just be warned, my post tend to run long, as I always have alot to say…

    • https://insidethestar.com/ Doran Palmer

      I tell you what, go ahead and use the contact form, which you can access here or up top, so we can get our email addresses to each other. Typically you’d just register and from there you have access to write posts. We’ve tried emailing you at the address you leave in your comments, but I guess it got caught in a spam filter. But contact us with the form and we’ll get you setup. Material is good, new stuff is good, however – we just like getting more fans involved.

Dallas Cowboys

5 Points: Analyzing the 2018 Dallas Cowboys Schedule

Sean Martin

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5 Points: Thoughts on the 2018 Dallas Cowboys Schedule 1
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Every year around this time, sports fans everywhere are reminded of just how dominant the National Football League is. The NFL schedule release is literally just the sharing of a calendar that has little meaning until after next week's NFL Draft, but still dominates headlines both before and after the event.

If the Dallas Cowboys are going to return to the playoffs in 2018, we now know the path they will take -- beginning on September 9th in Carolina against the Panthers.

Here are five of my initial thoughts on this team's schedule.

1. "Early" Bye Week Still Later Than Recent Seasons

The Cowboys' bye week falls in week eight this season, which is certainly nothing new. This team is used to having their bye earlier in the season, but week eight is actually the latest it's been over the last three seasons.

In Dak Prescott's rookie season, the Cowboys rolled to six straight wins following their bye week - all part of a longer 11 game win streak. In 2017, the Cowboys played their final three games with Ezekiel Elliott after the bye, improving to 5-3 and inspiring hope for a salvageable season before further injuries piled up.

This season, the Cowboys will come out of their bye week to host Monday Night Football at AT&T Stadium against the Tennessee Titans.

5 Points: Thoughts on the 2018 Dallas Cowboys Schedule

2. AFC South to Play A Huge Factor

Speaking of the Titans, it is the NFC East's year to face off against the AFC South. This has been an unpredictable division as of late, with the Jacksonville Jaguars emerging as early favorites following their improbable run to the AFC Championship Game.

Unlike the NFC East, the AFC South has been decided by who maintains stability at quarterback. The Colts are hoping to contend with Andrew Luck back on the field in 2018, as are the Texans with second-year QB Deshaun Watson.

The Titans overhauled their coaching staff in hopes of progressing QB Marcus Mariota further to make a run at the playoffs once again.

For the Cowboys, their meetings with the AFC South will carry extra weight - as all but one of them precedes a divisional game in some sense. Following back to back games at the Texans and home against the Jaguars, the Cowboys will visit the Redskins in week seven.

The first shot Dallas will get at the defending Super Bowl champions will be November 11th in Philadelphia, two weeks removed from their bye after facing the Titans.

Coming out of two games in 12 days through weeks 12 (Thanksgiving) and 13, the Cowboys will have little chance to come up for air against the Eagles in week 14. Their chance to regroup may come the following week, with a favorable December road game in Indianapolis against the Colts.

3. Revenge Against the Falcons

The Cowboys' week 10 game a year ago in Atlanta is truly where the 2017 season was lost. Playing without Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys looked lost on offense thanks to the added absence of All-Pro Left Tackle Tyron Smith.

The Cowboys' fight to carry on at 5-4 was buried into the Falcons' new turf, as was Dak Prescott that afternoon, sacked eight times.

Only a week removed on the calendar from meeting the Falcons on the same date, the Cowboys will again play at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in week 11 this season. The chance for revenge against the Falcons will also mark the only pair of consecutive road games this 2018 Dallas Cowboys team will play.

Cowboys en Español: 3

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

4. Running Through December

The national media may not want you to know that the Cowboys are a combined 6-2 in December over the last two seasons, as this team's fabled late season collapses remain a topic of conversation.

This point also stands as a great example of why breaking down team schedules in April is often a pointless exercise, but not obsessing over every twist and turn of the NFL as a yearly hobby is no fun. According to me.

It is no secret that the Cowboys will be relying heavily on Ezekiel Elliott in 2018, expecting their star running back to suit up for 16 games and carry the offense. If you believe that Prescott and Elliott paired together full-time again is enough reason for optimism about the Cowboys, their December schedule becomes even more favorable.

Aside from playing three of the four games indoors and away from the elements, the Cowboys will face three of the worst rushing defenses in yards per game allowed from last season in December. With the Eagles being the glaring exception (leading the league in this category), the Cowboys should have their way on the ground with the Colts, Buccaneers, and Giants over their final three games.

5. Thanksgiving Tradition

For the second time in three seasons, the Dallas Cowboys will host the Washington Redskins on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys were victorious on Thanksgiving in 2016 over the Redskins, 31-26.

The Cowboys have only lost to the Redskins once on Thanksgiving, facing them a total of eight times and dropping a 2012 bout with Washington 38-31 (Robert Griffin III's rookie season with the Redskins).

Riding a four game winning streak against the Redskins, the Cowboys get to face an Alex Smith led Washington team on Thanksgiving to wrap up their first series against the NFC East. Following week 12, the Cowboys will still have meetings with the Eagles and New York Giants.

Some may look at this year's division as a two-team race, but counting absolutely any team out of an NFC East race is foolish - even more so in April.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

By this time next week, the Dallas Cowboys have a chance to look entirely different - adding as many as ten players at the 2018 NFL Draft. Only then will we have a better feel for how they stack up against this 2018 schedule.

Stay posted right here to Inside The Star for draft coverage live from Dallas, as I will be at AT&T Stadium for all seven rounds of picks alongside Slant Sports Draft Analyst Nick Flaherty.

Tell us what you think about "5 Points: Analyzing the 2018 Dallas Cowboys Schedule" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!


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Player News

Cowboys TE James Hanna Retiring

Jess Haynie

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James Hanna

In an unexpected bit of pre-draft news, Dallas Cowboys backup tight end James Hanna will be retiring after six seasons. He was drafted by the Cowboys in sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

The news of Hanna's retirement was first reported by ESPN's Todd Archer:

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys will place James Hanna on the reserve/retired list as the tight end could not get over a serious knee condition that troubled him for most of the last two seasons, according to sources. Hanna was not involved in the early part of the team's... https://t.co/45BAZ2avSC

Hanna, who turns 29 in July, missed all of 2016 with that knee issue and has had two surgeries. He was active for all 16 games last season but wasn't used much on offense, only having four catches. James did catch his first and only NFL touchdown in the team's Week 4 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Many thought Hanna would be a salary cap casualty this offseason, but a retirement has the same effect on the cap. The Cowboys now save $2.75 million off his scheduled $3.5 mullion cap hit in 2018.

James Hanna has stuck around this long thanks to being a proficient blocker and one of the standout players on special teams. Geoff Swaim, entering the final year of his rookie deal, will likely be trusted to fill those roles.

That said, tight end was already a targeted position for the Cowboys in next week's draft. Losing Hanna only give the team more incentive to add more talent.


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Player News

Optimistic Reports Emerge Around Randy Gregory

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Randy Gregory, Eagles
Eric Hartline / USA TODAY Sports

Good news are coming to Dallas just in time. Less than a week from now, the NFL Draft will be held in the Cowboys' home, the AT&T Stadium. But the team may count with a defensive talent many in Cowboys Nation have tried to forget for a while now. Randy Gregory's comeback may just happen.

There's a lot of positions in the roster that need more help than the defensive end one, but after finding the "War Daddy" Jerry Jones has always wanted in DeMarcus Lawrence, finding a RDE this offseason would be a dream scenario.

Sure, there's a lot of young talent in this football team and they'll be coming off a season that put a chip on their shoulders. Even so, they'll need all the help they can get.

Fortunately for the Cowboys, some help could come in form of a very talented pass rusher. Randy Gregory is reportedly applying for reinstatement very soon and according to Mike Fisher and Bobby Belt, there are positive reports around the situation.

Bobby Belt on Twitter

Randy Gregory update: I'm told there is real momentum building. He is expected to apply for reinstatement in the week or two following next week's NFL Draft.

Cowboys Nation last saw the second round pick back in 2016, but his potential shouldn't be forgotten. Of course, the Cowboys shouldn't be considering Gregory for their 2018 plans, simply because there's risk of him not being available.

Even still, Dallas may get lucky at defensive end. After DeMarcus Lawrence has a breakout season in 2017, imagine the defensive line with Randy Gregory reinstated and rehabilitated to exploit his talent in the NFL.

mike fisher ✭ on Twitter

UPDATE: We're told Randy Gregory camp is ready to present to NFL the fact the #Cowboys DE has passed a large number of drug tests, hasn't failed one since July 2016. https://t.co/Hjgu2CqRtC

Despite some TMZ "reports", it looks like Gregory has been clean for a while. It sure should make Cowboys' fans happy and not only form a football perspective. A comeback would definitely be something amazing. He has a chance to write a unique story for himself.

Everyone likes second-chance stories. Gregory is a guy who had his share of problems. By coming back to the NFL, he's showing players and fans that change is possible. This wouldn't just be epic for Dallas Cowboys fans but NFL fans in general.

If Dallas is fortunate enough to see Gregory reinstated by the NFL, their fight in the trenches might see a big upgrade next season. Randy still has a lot to work on and he might not even be a starter right away, but the potential is right there.

The Cowboys could become a team capable of dominating the line of scrimmage both on offense and on defense.

Hopefully, Gregory is able to come back and shine as a professional player. He, and NFL fans deserve a story like that.

Tell me what you think about "Optimistic Reports Emerge Around Randy Gregory" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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