So what now?
The Cowboys have a well-paid cornerback who took a Molly, an owner who partied with a pair of Mollys, and a understudied son who partied with a busload of Mollys, not to mention the NFL head of officiating. Mix that stench with the aroma of a durian defensive performance, and you have fan hope draining like a Medieval bloodletting.
The annual Cowboys Camp Soap Opera has been in rare form. Amidst it all sits Jason Garrett and his staff, trying to implement a sense of football normalcy to a roster hopefully not built solely on offense.
The fun of Orlando Scandrick’s suspension added to a host of defensive injuries and question marks as we nudge closer to the looming 49ers in Week 1. While Dallas’ offense looks ready right now – and note that San Francisco is sorting through their own defensive woes and conundrums – the 11-plus Cowboy defenders that will compete on September 7th seem mysteriously concerning, unproven, and perhaps not even here yet.
If you want a bright spot, Anthony Spencer is fast-tracking to an early campaign return it appears, and by midseason, the additions of him, DeMarcus Lawrence, and perhaps Josh Brent, offer hope to what may be a catatonic initial pass rush. Generating quarterback pressure and reasonable run defense is, quite frankly, largely the determinant of 2014-season success.
Questions need answering if Dallas is to manage a representative defense. Certain musts must be met for this season to get out of the gate better than 1-3.
The much-neededs include:
- Rolando McClain has to be outstanding. He has the know-how, the physicality, the athleticism, and the pedigree to be the best player on the defense, even better than Sean Lee. He’s everything the rest of the linebackers wish they were, minus the mood swings and inner demons. Nick Saban said McClain has his affairs in order and is ready to return, and Jerry promised to help him as he did Tyron Smith with the hauntings from back home. If McClain wants to be a force, he will be, I have no doubt. Big if though. You can't coach or fake desire.
- Morris Claiborne has to finally arrive. He sees his counterpart, Patrick Peterson, getting paid and glorified at every turn. He knows his career is dangerously close to journeyman waters, and if he doesn’t get it done this year, that “big” contract he was expecting will be a shadow of Peterson’s. He’s beefed up, and I hope he’s studied up, too. That Wonderlic score hangs over his unimpressive career like a stain on a blue dress. It’s nut-cutting time for Mo. Now or never here.
- A pass rush must be fermented and harvested asap. The time for patience is gone. Bottle this up quick and serve it as Boone’s Farm. Find 5-6 willing mad dogs and figure out a way to get to the quarterback, pedigree and promise be damned. George Selvie has to be even better. Terrell McClain has to beat out Nick Hayden. Tyrone Crawford has to be what we’ve heard about for too long. Henry Melton has to match his paycheck. Coleman, Bishop, Wilson – I don’t care who – a couple of those blokes have to be young Jay Ratliffs. Then, this band of gypsies has to batten down the hatches until help arrives one by one from the M*A*S*H unit later on.
- Meanwhile, can someone get off a block? Those same Joes charged last paragraph have to be able to stuff a run, too. Linebackers, are you listening? Preseason means so little, but let’s just say that San Diego thing needs to be quite the opposite of what the 49ers see four Sundays from now. I’ve seen more resistance at a brothel. (Actually, I’ve never been to one, but you get the point.)
That’s it. The answers are few and simple. Much is in place, which is the shiny side of the coin.
Problem is, these answers aren’t found on the dollar menu. Romo’s sustained health and a drive-stopping pass rush sound too much like balancing the national budget and manning a mission to Mars. It does to me anyway.
I encourage ignoring the preseason-game fray and dismissing the Chicken Littles that muddy the message boards. I see exhibition games for what they are, just massive money grabs in dress-up practice drills. So little can be gleaned from them at all.
But this is Dallas, where every camp is a ticking time bomb. Every year in Ox-nerd, Jerry goes drunk-uncle-at-a-wedding with either Super Bowl predictions, glory holes, or stripper selfies on Twitter. It’s always something. (How can he rightfully be upset with Scandrick, Brent, or anyone after his own escapades?) The track record begs for drama and encourages the salivating media to dogpile every miscue. You can set your August by it.
This should be a time for work and development. Instead, it’s six weeks of breath-holding until Labor Day comes and goes.
I contend that this team has far more hope and promise than what camp has felt like so far. Too many good things in place for this squad not to surprise. Too many bad things other teams are dealing with that we pay less attention. Such is the sport of attrition that the NFL is.
But for the love of Pete Rozelle, can this team just focus on football from here forward, please? Can we catch a break on injuries until it’s for real? Can we avoid TMZ and Deadspin, stay off the Twitter and reality shows, commit to our craft, and generally just be a boring football organization for a change?
Or is that just asking too much?
The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up
Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.
The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.
As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.
Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.
Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.
Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.
Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.
I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.
All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.
How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?
Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?
With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.
Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.
I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.
I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?
Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.
Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.
Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.
Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.
Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?
Week 1 NFC East Predictions and Cowboys Season Outlook
Let me start this article with a strong opening statement: The Cowboys will be better in 2018 than they were in 2017. There's been a lot of talk about the lack of a true No. 1 receiver. But when we break it down, the current setup will most likely play out better for Cowboys QB Dak Prescott.
The Dak Stats
Certain quarterbacks shine when they have that go-to playmaker. We're talking about guys like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Calvin Johnson, Ocho Cinco, Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, and Dez Bryant. But other QBs do better at reading the defense and quickly adapting to what is given. Dak Prescott is the latter breed of QB.
Let’s do a quick numbers exercise to prove this.
When Prescott is targeting 8 or more receivers throughout the game, his passer rating jumps from 86.1 (targeting less than 8) to 104.5. He passes for almost 50 yards more per game and his touchdown to interception ratio drastically improves from 21-13 to 24-4.
Most importantly, when he targets at least 8 different receivers, the Cowboys are 14-2. When he targets less than 8, the team is just .500 at 8-8.
Without a doubt, Prescott is much better at adjusting to what the defense is giving him. He just isn’t one of those guys who can successfully "force" the ball (like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees). Not feeling the pressure of having to get the ball into the hands of the star playmaker will give this offense a new kind of depth in 2018.
Yes, losing Jason Witten hurts, much more so in my opinion than not having Dez.
Questions Still Loom
This is still the Cowboys' biggest concern on offense. There is some great depth. We have Rico Gathers, Blake Jarwin, Geoff Swaim, and the young stud out of Stanford, Dalton Schultz. But between the three who have any NFL experience, there are only 9 catches between them. I must say that Dalton, with his 4.75 40-yard dash, has a legitimate shot at seeing a lot of playing time in his rookie campaign and could become an impact player with his size (6’5”, 244-lbs) and speed.
But despite the battle for TE being wide open, and debates about whether or not the team needs a No. 1 receiver, the Cowboys are still expected to give the Eagles a run for their money in the NFC East. Here are the odds on the defending NFC East champions and how (although early) it is expected to shake out:
- Philadelphia Eagles -167
- Dallas Cowboys +350
- New York Giants +650
- Washington Redskins +750
NFC East Week 1 Predictions
The Cowboys open the season in a difficult road game against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have been listed as 2.5-point favorites (follow the Cowboys NFL Odds here all season long) which isn’t surprising considering they are a tough team playing at home. You might be thinking, "crap, we're opening up as underdogs?" Don’t worry too much; it actually bodes fairly well because the lines-makers generally give a 3-point advantage to the home team. This means that they actually handicap the Cowboys to be a half-point favorite on a neutral field and a 3.5-point favorite in Arlington.
The Redskins open their season in Arizona against the Cardinals. The line is set at a pick ‘em (meaning there is no point spread; it's anyone's game). But, looking at the 'Skins and Cardinals, I think Washington gets disappointed in Week 1 and starts their season with a loss.
The Giants get to test their new offensive line and see if they were right in continuing to place their faith in Eli Manning against the best defense in the league. The Jags are 3-point favorites at MetLife stadium. This means the Jags are actually 6-points better. I do think that the Giants will be vastly improved this season, but they are also going to open with a loss.
The Eagles don’t have it easy either, but they will probably pull out the win at home as 4-point favorites against the Dirty Birds on Thursday Night Football. Their defense is just too good. Atlanta's road offense scored just 21 points per game last year while Philly scores 28 on average at home. The Eagles' home defense has been downright nasty, only allowing 12 points per game in Philadelphia.
This will be a two-horse race for the division between the Eagles and Cowboys. And even if the Eagles win the East, the Cowboys will wildcard into the playoffs.
Star Blog1 week ago
Should Cowboys Regret How They’ve Handled The Safety Position?
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
5 Cowboys From 2017 Who May Not Make Current Roster
Star Blog1 week ago
Don’t Freak Out About The Cowboys Passing Game Just Yet
Star Blog1 week ago
DE Taco Charlton Bigger, Stronger, Faster in Year 2?
Dallas Cowboys1 day ago
Possible Cowboys Roster Cuts Who Could Have Trade Value
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Rico Gathers May Make Cowboys Roster on Raw Ability Alone
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Could Dak Prescott’s Development Cost Another QB a Roster Spot?
Player News1 week ago
LB Jaylon Smith 100% Healthy Entering 2018 Season