Listen to an audio version of this article on Bumpers!
Sunday, December 13th, 2015. You remember that day, even if you don't know it.
The Cowboys were in Green Bay for a date against the Packers, the final score of which isn't important, and it was their first visit to Lambeau Field since Dez Bryant heroically caught a brilliant pass from Tony Romo near the end of a game 11 months earlier.
There would be no Tony Romo this time, only Matt Cassel. There would also be Inside The Star Staff Writer RJ Ochoa (hey I know him!) in attendance, that's me! That's right. My Dad, some friends, and I ventured to one of the NFL's most iconic venues last December to watch America's Team (a trip that I wrote about here).
On gameday we decided that we needed breakfast so we went to IHOP. We feasted, in the middle of tons of Cowboys and Packers fans, and headed to the car so we could head to Lambeau. On the way we passed some little kids playing a friendly game of "Simon Says."
My Dad's best friend David was feeling good about this game, and he felt like letting the world know how good he felt. One of the kids began a new command, "Simon Says..." and David interrupted him.
"SIMON SAYS 'GO COWBOYS!'"
The kids screamed out, "NO!" but the damage was done. The world knew. The Cowboys are the best.
The world will be reminded this Sunday of that same sentiment. Simon Said the Cowboys had no shot this season, but here they are at 4-1... and they want more.
Welcome to my 5 Bold Predictions. Let’s roll.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Ezekiel Elliott Catches DeMarco Murray's 2014 Performance Through Six Games
The Dallas Cowboys enter Week 6 of the NFL season with the league's leading rusher at their disposal. This statement is as true today as it was two years ago at this exact same time.
When DeMarco Murray finished his sixth game in 2014 (a contest the Cowboys won in Seattle) he had 785 yards to his name. As it currently stands rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott has 546. It's no secret that the Packers Offense has the ability to put points up, and the Cowboys will look to neutralize that with their best defense - their offense.
Ezekiel Elliott is the key to beating Green Bay, both offensively and defensively. This means that he's going to have a huge day on the ground. 240 yards, the last time an NFL RB had this many in a game was Doug Martin in 2012 with 251, would put Zeke ahead of DeMarco's 2014 through this point. It's happening.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Dak Prescott Will Have A Better Performance Than Brett Favre's Last One At Lambeau Field
In August we celebrated the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2016, and among its members was legendary quarterback Brett Favre.
The career of "The Gunslinger" is quite the tale, but he's pretty relevant this week. First off, he came out and said that Tony Romo should let Dak Prescott keep playing. This
makes sense since this is the exact thing Brett Favre did with Aaron Rodgers is as stupid as it sounds. Stay classy, Favre.
Brett Favre is also extremely relevant this week because at halftime of this game he'll receive his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring. Good for you, Brett; however, the last time Favre was on this field as an actual player was not so good.
He was 16/29 for 212 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions. Dak Prescott is going to easily top that.
Also, it should be noted that the only stadium Brett Favre never won in was Texas Stadium. Huzzah.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Dan Bailey Amasses More Yards Via Field Goals Than Eddie Lacy Does Rushing
So much is made about the "Dez Catch" from 2015's Divisional Round at Lambeau, but there is another Cowboy besides Bryant that has a score to settle from that day - Dan Bailey.
That day Dan Bailey attempted the only field goal that he's ever kicked at the historic Lambeau Field, and he missed. That's right. Just like Favre never won at Texas Stadium, Bailey's never hit a 3-pointer in Green Bay.
Cowboys Nation held their breaths regarding Bailey last week because his back tightened up just before the San Francisco game. All signs at this point are positive, and he's going to be a big factor on Sunday... bigger than Eddie Lacy.
I've written before here at Inside The Star about how Eddie Lacy completely owns the Cowboys, and I believe that trend is going to halt. Eddie is going to have such a low day on the ground that the yardage added up from Dan Bailey's field goals are going to be more impressive. How do you like them apples, Eddie?
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Lucky Whitehead Takes A Jet Sweep Over 20 Yards
Death, taxes, and one Lucky Whitehead jet sweep play every Cowboys game.
Lucky has had a jet sweep in each of the last three games and they've gone for 3, 8, and 9 yards respectively. The Packers know this, but they also know that Ezekiel Elliott plays for the Cowboys and are far more concerned with that threat.
While Whitehead has yet to hit even the double-digit yardage mark when it comes to the jet sweeps he runs, he's going to double that with a run to the outside of at least 20 yards due to the lack of attention there since the bulk of it will be focused on Zeke. Vamonos!
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Rookie DT Maliek Collins Gets His First Career Sack
Three of the most impressive members on the 2016 Dallas Cowboys Roster are rookies: Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Anthony Brown. Only one other rookie has even played snaps on the season - DT Maliek Collins.
Collins has played well so far, just not to the elite level of his rookie classmates. This is going to change on Sunday in Lambeau Field. The Cowboys Defense has been all about surprises this season as far as who steps up, and while that man has been Collins at times it's going to happen in a collision with Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Bonus Bold Prediction #1
Remember, if you want YOUR Bold Prediction featured here, tweet it at me! It’s that simple! Here are this week’s contributions, thanks to all those who shared!
Donny is a fantastic guy and long-time contributor to our weekly Bold Predictions, so kudos to him on that.
Here we're saying that Dez Bryant is not only going to play, but he's going to hit a hat trick of touchdowns and that one of them wins the game. Goodness, this is spicy! Additionally the Cowboys Defense has six sacks on Rodgers, two interceptions from him, and Ezekiel Elliott crosses the 200-yard mark.
This is quite the hodgepodge of Bold Predictions. At this point it's not too farfetched to say that Dez plays, and Zeke crossing 200 amazingly seems so easy these days. If the Cowboys Defense balls out to this level then we need to make some more room around here because the bandwagon is going to be trying to join us in full force!
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Bonus Bold Prediction #2
@rjochoa Bold Prediction: Jason Garrett goes for a 2pt conversion when it is not necessary #AgainstTheOdds #GamblinGarrett
I love this, and it makes a lot of sense when you really think about it.
Jason Garrett has shown a new sense of boldness in 2016, and he hasn't played that hand in the last two games... mostly because he hasn't had to.
The Packers present a tough test for the Cowboys, and that might require something different. Thankfully it appears Coach Garrett is willing to be different.
Bonus Bold Prediction #3
@rjochoa Bryon Jones gets a pick of tip ball. Dez get a TD. Dak runs it in to for TD. #BOLDpredictions
Dez Bryant catching a touchdown isn't the strangest sight in the world, although it's been a while since it happened on a consistent basis, and obviously this is contingent on him playing. Should Dez suit up then I have no doubt that he hauls one in for six.
Dak Prescott has a rushing touchdown in three games this season, that's 60% of the time. Those are pretty good odds on anything in life so I like where Chris' head is at! In terms of Byron Jones... we've been looking for The Senator to snag an interception ever since he first put on the Cowboys uniform as he has zero for his career. He's due. It's time. Bring it!
Cowboys Chill While Pats & Rams Set to Thrill
If you were to check out the line on the Super Bowl matchup between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams, you might wander over to Sportsbook Review, where you could read a 5Dimes review and see what all the best online sportsbooks, first and foremost among them 5Dimes, are dealing on this intriguing matchup. Tom Brady and the Patriots, much to everyone’s chagrin outside the six New England states, are back in it – again – and are currently slight favorites over the emerging LA Rams.
In New England’s 37-31 victory over the Chiefs, the Patriots did what they always seem to do, which is rally late and win in dramatic fashion. It’s become almost a ho-hum experience in New England while the rest of the country bites on a bullet, cursing the embarrassment of riches and success that has been the standard of this Patriots’ franchise for two decades. But this was supposed to be the season that the dynasty would end after viewing Tom Brady’s often mediocre performances and his All-World tight end, Rob Gronkowski, hobbling up and down the field without the same reckless abandon as we’ve seen in year’s past. And then their only truly talented speed merchant capable of stretching the field, Josh Gordon, left the team under a cloud of suspicion.
Unfortunately for the rest of the nation, the Patriots' once porous defense coalesced into a rather stout unit and apparently, the two weeks between the end of the regular season and the start of the Patriots’ postseason was enough time for Brady to heal from his rumored sprained MCL that he had been dealing with in silence all season long.
Gronkowski must have also visited the same shaman as Brady because he looked as dominating as ever in ripping the Chiefs on every critical third-down throughout the final quarter. Finally, the conduit to much of Brady’s success, Julian Edelman, is now being mentioned as a Hall-of-Fame candidate when his run is done.
It’s all a bit much for everyone else, but not for Patriots Nation.
The LA Rams will be the Patriots’ latest foe on the league’s grandest stage as they have a burgeoning superstar in Jared Goff. Los Angeles tore through the regular season off of the golden arm of Goff and his Juggernauts, winning 13 of 16 and earning a first-round bye. Their first foray into the 2018 postseason was a 30-22 win over the determined but overwhelmed Dallas Cowboys. The Rams then traveled to the lair of Drew Brees and the Saints down on the bayou and came away with a 26-23 overtime victory.
However, had it not been for an inexcusable non-call, it is far more likely LA would be watching, rather than participating in this year’s Super Bowl. If you didn’t see it or hadn’t heard about it, then the question begs; why are you reading this article?
Of course, you know that LA’s cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman steamrolled New Orleans’ wideout Tommylee Lewis as Brees’ pass was descending toward Lewis inside the five-yard line. It was a penalty without a flag and that one blown call forced the Saints to settle for a field goal that pushed them ahead 23-20. Yet, there was still enough time on the clock to give Goff and his prolific Rams’ offense one last gasp at either tying the game or putting a dagger through the hearts of Saints’ fans everywhere with a touchdown in the waning moments.
It was the former and not the latter that occurred, but an errant pass by Brees in overtime sealed the deal as the Rams picked it off and ultimately ended the contest off the thunderous foot of Greg Zuerlein.
If you want to check out the line movements over the next two weeks for Super Bowl LIII then get on over to Sportsbook Review, read the 5Dimes review, and see exactly where the money is moving the spread as well as the total in the game. Buckle up Cowboys’ fans, it’s gonna get even more interesting as February 3rd draws near.
Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches
Lamentablemente, la temporada 2018 de los Dallas Cowboys ha llegado a su fin. Lo hizo cuando el equipo visitó Los Angeles para intentar sorprender a los Rams en su propio campo en la Ronda Divisional de los playoffs. Ni siquiera con una invasión exitosa de la afición de Dallas pudieron ganarse un pase al Campeonato de Conferencia. En vez de eso, los Cowboys estarán viendo desde casa y la afición estará preguntándose: ¿qué sigue para los Dallas Cowboys?
Parece ya una tradición anual que no podemos dejar pasar. Este momento en el que comenzamos a cuestionar, una vez más, que entrenador es digno de quedarse en la franquicia y cual debe irse. En esta edición de "Cowboys en Español," hablaremos específicamente de los tres principales coaches en el equipo.
Coordinador Defensivo Rod Marinelli
El futuro del coordinador defensivo de los Dallas Cowboys no se puede tratar sin mencionar a Kris Richard. Fue la defensiva la que llevó al equipo hasta la postemporada y fue la unidad que cargó al equipo en muchas de sus victorias. Incluso con la llegada de Amari Cooper a Dallas, la defensiva fue siempre el pilar de la franquicia esta temporada.
Jaylon Smith y Leighton Vander Esch sorprendentemente se perfilaron como uno de los mejores duos de linebackers en toda la liga, la línea defensiva fue muy exitosa con Randy Gregory y DeMarcus Lawrence en los extremos y con la grata sorpresa que fue Antwaun Woods en el centro. La secundaria vio la mejor temporada en la controversial carrera de Byron Jones e hizo un excelente trabajo con un talento decente, pero no genial.
Todo esto, y el haber terminado como la sexta mejor defensiva en puntos permitidos (20.2) y la quinta mejor contra la corrida (94.6), hace a Rod Marinelli merecedor de una ronda de aplausos. Sin embargo, Richard probablemente merezca más aplausos.
Fue Richard quien revolucionó la defensiva de los Cowboys y la convirtió en un grupo mucho más agresivo. Fue él quien implementó jugadas de "blitz" en el equipo (algo no común con Marinelli) y quien en un punto de la temporada, comenzó a seleccionar las jugadas desde la banda.
En esta posición, me parece que los Dallas Cowboys tienen que enfrentar la dura decisión de decirle a Marinelli que es tiempo de dejarle el puesto a Kris Richard. Si bien no se llevó un trabajo de head coach, es muy probable que le llovieran ofertas a Richard si no se hace con el título de coordinador defensivo en Dallas.
Coordinador Ofensivo Scott Linehan
Con un equipo tan polémico como este, la afición de Dallas no concuerda en muchas cosas. Sin embargo, lo hacen al hablar del pésimo trabajo que Scott Linehan ha realizado mandando las jugadas en ofensiva. Realmente ha sido doloroso de ver y es en mi opinión, el mayor problema que tiene el equipo actualmente.
Semana tras semana, fuimos testigos de pésimas decisiones en la ofensiva de los Cowboys. Vimos como el equipo se aferraba a llenar la caja de defensivos antes de correr el balón con Ezekiel Elliott. Vimos incontables pases pantalla en tercera oportunidad y largo. Pero no solo es lo que vimos, sino lo que no vimos.
A pesar de la innegable habilidad para correr el balón de Dak Prescott, Linehan se rehusó a explotar esta versatilidad de su QB. Vimos pocos "QB sneaks," jugada donde el mariscal toma el balón bajo centro y consigue poco yardage detrás del empuje de su línea ofensiva.
Siendo honestos, los Cowboys llevan dos años sufriendo por este coordinador. Dejarlo volver en el 2019 sería una decisión ridícula. Los comentarios en la radio de Jason Garrett no lucen prometedores, pero realmente sería una sorpresa que fueran ciertos. Linehan no debe volver... punto.
Head Coach Jason Garrett
El futuro en esta posición será muy debatido durante los próximos meses, pero de los tres que hemos mencionado es sin lugar a dudas el más seguro de todos. Nos guste o no, Jason Garrett estará al frente del equipo la próxima temporada.
Garrett está lejos de ser un gran coach y aún le hace falta demostrar que puede cumplir las aspiraciones de los Cowboys de traer un sexto Trofeo Lombardi a casa. Pero siendo honesto, este equipo debería tener suficiente con Garrett y un par de buenos coordinadores. ¿El problema? No hay un par de buenos coordinadores en el equipo.
Sin embargo, Garrett ha demostrado que cuenta con el amor y apoyo de sus jugadores. Ha demostrado que efectivamente, puede ganar la división (lo ha hecho en tres de los últimos cinco años). Este año el equipo le dio la vuelta a la temporada después de comenzar 3-5.
Lo más preocupante en mi opinión, es la falta de urgencia para despedir a Linehan, por ejemplo. Quizá a puerta cerrada Garrett quiere un cambio en su staff, pero nunca lo sabremos.
Jason Garrett no es un coach excelente, pero podría ser suficiente para llevar a los Cowboys a un Super Bowl si tiene un equipo adecuado. Todo parece indicar que su trabajo está seguro (incluso más de lo que pensamos) así que es tiempo de esperar que se arreglen sus coordinadores.
2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch
As the first round draft pick of America's Team, any player would be under a ton of pressure from all angles. Whether it's from the fans on the outside or the organization on the inside, the expectations around being a first round pick for the Cowboys are immense. But the pressure placed upon linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, from the second he was announced as the 19th overall draft pick, was second to none.
It felt like Cowboys Nation let out a collective groan when Vander Esch was taken, with fans hoping for a more glamorous first round selection. Someone like wide receiver Calvin Ridley or edge rusher Harold Landry would've done the trick, but after Vander Esch's rookie season it's hard to imagine either of those players would have had the impact Vander Esch did in 2018.
Though he didn't start a game until week 4, and didn't become the unquestioned full-time starting WILL until week 10, Vander Esch earned Pro Bowl honors for his rookie season. Tallying 140 total tackles and 2 interceptions, Vander Esch made his presence felt week in and week out.
No counting stats can fully measure Leighton Vander Esch's impact as a rookie, however.
Prior to the 2018 season, the Cowboys defensive success often came down to the health of Sean Lee. When available and playing at his best, Lee led an overachieving Cowboys defense to solid performances each week. But, when Lee went out (as he often did), the entire Cowboys defense seemed to fall apart.
This year, though, that all changed. When Sean Lee was out with injury the Cowboys defense got better. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith became a versatile, hard hitting tandem the NFL immediately feared, and helped to direct the Cowboys defense to signature wins throughout the 2018 season.
There are arguments against taking any off-ball linebacker in the first round, as the value of the position has been questioned due to the new style of offense in the NFL. Nowadays linebackers are relegated to two-down players, taken off the field in favor of faster defensive backs on critical passing downs.
Leighton Vander Esch is athletic enough to be both an old school run stopper, but also a three down linebacker in today's fast paced NFL.
Despite the doubts which surrounded the pick, the Cowboys absolutely nailed their first round selection in 2018. And Leighton Vander Esch made Dallas' front office look like geniuses each and every Sunday.
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Should Tavon Austin’s Role Get Expanded Against His Former Team?
Dallas Cowboys5 days ago
5 Potential Candidates Cowboys Could Target to Replace OC Scott Linehan
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Texas Forever? Kris Richard Appears Closer to Staying with Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys2 days ago
3 Reasons Not to Hate Kellen Moore Becoming Offensive Coordinator
Dallas Cowboys7 days ago
Cowboys Getting Over $30 Million Cap Space from Expiring Dead Money
Dallas Cowboys3 days ago
Tony Romo Won’t Be the Next Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator
Dallas Cowboys17 hours ago
7 Free Agents the Cowboys Should Target
Player News4 days ago
Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick