Last year the Dallas Cowboys overcame a 3-5 hole in the standings to finish 10-6, win the NFC East, and make the playoffs. It was a remarkable turnaround, and one that they will have a hard time repeating in 2019. They can't afford to have another slow start to this upcoming season.
We concede that games that seem easy or difficult now can have a different look once we get into the season. But as things currently stand, Dallas' easiest stretch of games on the 2019 schedule are in the first three weeks.
- New York Giants
- @ Washington Redskins
- Miami Dolphins
That's two home games and three opponents likely to be among the softest that the Cowboys see all year. It's an especially good time to get Washington and Miami, who will both be integrating new quarterbacks.
Week 4 is the revenge match with the Saints in New Orleans. From there Dallas faces the Packers, Patriots, Vikings, Rams, and Bears throughout the season, not to mention the two games with the Eagles.
If the Cowboys don't get those easier wins early, the hole may be too deep to dig out of this time.
A big reason for last season's turnaround was the mid-season trade for Amari Cooper. That offensive spark was the catalyst for Dallas 7-1 run to finish the year. The 2019 Cowboys won't have a card like that to play this season.
The importance of those early games is why we're justifiably concerned if Ezekiel Elliott gets any kind of suspension for his recent incident in Las Vegas. Even if it's just a one or two-game wrist slap from Roger Goodell, it comes when the Cowboys are needing to build their cushion for the tough season ahead.
Sure, we'd like to think that Dallas could beat the Giants, Redskins, and Dolphins even without Zeke. But bad memories from 2017 gives us rightful cause for concern.
It's especially concerning with some much uncertainty on the RB depth chart. We don't even have an Alfred Morris or Rod Smith right now to provide a little confidence if Elliott misses time. Only rookie Tony Pollard is sure to make the team, and he's not an every-down back.
Zeke isn't the only player facing a potential early-season suspension, either. Tyrone Crawford could be looking at a few games for his involvement in an offseason bar fight, and Randy Gregory's status in the NFL's substance abuse program is a total mystery.
The Cowboys should still be strong and deep enough to beat those early teams, but this is all based on late-May logic. A lot can happen between now and September.
The 2018 Cowboys had Ezekiel Elliott and still stumbled out of the gates. A repeat of that, Zeke or no Zeke, and this season could be over very quickly.
Report: Amari Cooper Likely out for the Rest of the Preseason
Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Amari Cooper is likely out for the remainder of the preseason according to ESPN's Todd Archer. He is currently dealing with a form of plantar fasciitis that has kept him out of practice since August 6th.
The three-time pro bowler changed life in Dallas last season as the team went 7-2 in it's final nine games after he was acquired to win the NFC East. Cooper isn't worried about any long term effects, though, as this is something he's familiar with.
"I'm not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger, it doesn't matter," Cooper said. "I had 1,000 yards when I played on plantar fasciitis before."
The Cowboys host the Houston Texans this Saturday in what is known as the "dress rehearsal" game before the regular season. Starters normally play about a half of football to get the juices flowing for when games really count in September. Ideally, the plan would be for Cooper and Dak Prescott to get a rhythm of sorts before the season starts but that will have to wait until the team prepares to take on the New York Giants on September 8th.
However, the good thing here is this issue doesn't seem to be serious and Cooper will be ready for the start of the 2019 season.
Report: Cowboys Agree To Contract Extension With LB Jaylon Smith
The Cowboys are neck-deep in contract negotiations with some of their team's most important players, but it appears they have gotten one key guy signed this afternoon.
ESPN's Todd Archer is reporting that the Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with middle linebacker Jaylon Smith, though the exact terms of the contract have yet to be announced.
The Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with linebacker Jaylon Smith, according to sources. Smith was set to be a restricted free agent after this season but the Cowboys and his representatives started talks in the spring and they ramped up once camp began. Smith, a...
Of course, the Cowboys drafted Jaylon Smith early in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft despite the horrific leg injury he suffered in Notre Dame's college bowl game. Some didn't think Smith would ever recover to be the same player he once was, but in 2018 Smith emerged as an excellent middle linebacker once again. Smith finished the 2018 season with 121 combined tackles and 4 sacks, and has looked just as imposing thus far in the preseason.
Smith regained his athleticism and sideline to sideline speed, while retaining his impressive hit power and sound tackling to become one of the league's best. Combining Smith with Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys have put together arguably the best linebacker group in the NFL.
And now, there's no end in sight for the dynamic duo.
Report: 2 Dallas Cowboys to be Activated off of P.U.P. List
Per a report from ESPN's Todd Archer, the Dallas Cowboys will soon activate Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence off of the Physically Unable to Perform (P.U.P.) List.
"The Cowboys are planning to activate defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford from the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday, according to a source. They will work through individual drills in their first steps on the field before going through full practices. Lawrence had shoulder surgery not long after signing a five-year, $101 million contract in April. Crawford has been working his way through a hip issue that kept him out of the offseason program. Safety Byron Jones (hip) and receiver Noah Brown (knee) remain on PUP."
Todd Archer - ESPN.com
This report comes after DeMarcus Lawrence had offseason shoulder surgery in April and signed his five-year deal making him the highest-paid player in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, at least for now. It looks as if Lawrence will be ready for a week one return.
It's long been believed that Lawrence would be available for week one of the regular season and hasn't suffered any setbacks to this point that should lead you to believe otherwise. With Robert Quinn suspended for the first two games of the regular season and Randy Gregory's status still up in the air (he still hasn't applied for reinstatement), getting Lawrence and Crawford back for the first two weeks of the season becomes instrumental.
The Dallas Cowboys defensive line has looked really good through the first two games of the preseason, but as good as they've been, they'll need Lawrence and Crawford once the regular season starts. Lawrence will slot back in as the left defensive end and Tyrone Crawford will split snaps at right defensive end with Dorance Armstrong and 3-technique defensive tackle with Maliek Collins, Trysten Hill, and Kerry Hyder.
While the additions of DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford will help the defense tremendously, there still isn't a timeline on the return of Pro Bowl Cornerback Byron Jones. Jones has been out since having hip surgery this offseason.
With as good as the Dallas Cowboys defense has looked this offseason, there's reason to believe that they can be even better once each of these guys are back in the lineup full-time. For a defense that was one of the 10 best defenses in the NFL in 2019, they'll need Lawrence, Crawford, and Jones to make the jump into the elite stratosphere of NFL defenses.
With the Dallas Cowboys' eyes set on capturing that sixth Lombardi Trophy, getting Lawrence and Crawford back in time to be ready for the regular season is vital to starting the 2019 season off right.
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