December used to be a four-letter word around these parts. During the middle of the Tony Romo Era, Dallas was known for some big letdowns in the final quarter of the regular season. But in 2018, these last four weeks are looking good for the Cowboys to keep on winning.
After last night's upset victory over the New Orleans Saints, Dallas improved to 7-5 and are now on a four-game win streak. They will get a 10-day break until their next game.
Here is the rest of Dallas' 2018 regular season schedule:
- WK 14 - Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)
- WK 15 - @ Indianapolis Colts (6-5)
- WK 16 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)
- WK 17 - @ New York Giants (3-8)
The last three games are all currently scheduled for early Sunday starts. The next game against Philly is in the late afternoon. Cowboys-Colts is the only game that could get flexed to Sunday Night Football, which is possible given the current Eagles-Rams matchup. Who knows if Philly will still be playoff-relevant by then?
There's no question that Dallas' next two games are its toughest. The Eagles will likely be coming off a win this week against Washington, and they'll be fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive.
As for Indy, the Colts are right in the mix for the Wild Card race and still just two games back. We'll see where they are by Week 15, but right now they look to be a competitive team still fighting for its postseason bid.
Things get much easier from there. Both Tampa and New York are done this year, and both may be more concerned with positioning themselves in the 2019 NFL Draft than trying to get moral victories over the Cowboys.
After what we saw last night from Dallas, continuing the win streak through December isn't unreasonable given the competition.
Even if Dallas were to split the tougher games with Philadelphia and Indianapolis, they would have an 8-6 record with two soft opponents to finish the year. That should be enough to still take the NFC East, and would make the Cowboys competitive for a Wild Card spot.
But again, finishing the year 11-5 isn't wishful thinking.
Not only do the Cowboys have great momentum, but they should be getting back several key players for their late-season run. Tyron Smith, Sean Lee, David Irving, and Tavon Austin are all slated to return from injuries after this 10-day rest.
Arguably, the biggest challenge for Dallas now is to not lose their momentum during this extended break.
If they can overcome complacency and their next two opponents, the Cowboys are set to ride major hot streak right into the playoffs.
Placing Value on Cowboys Slot Receiver Position this Offseason
Another offseason, another Dallas Cowboys wide receiver ominously discussing his status with the team - this time ahead of free agency with Cole Beasley. His impact on the Cowboys offense had been inconsistent at best under Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan, and with the Cowboys moving in a new direction at OC, it may also be time for a new look at Cole's slot position.
Beasley took to Twitter on Tuesday to discuss his role with the team and some of the behind the scenes decisions that went into each week's offensive game plan. Among his quotes, "utilization is more important than money," and, "I haven't been a huge priority in that regard (the front office pushing who they want to get the ball to)".
Honestly, the front office pushes who they want to get the ball to. I haven't been a huge priority in that regard. Maybe that will change but I'm not sure. More balls come my way in 2 minute drill where nothing is planned. https://t.co/ioih9BJJv1
All signs point towards Kellen Moore being the next Cowboys OC, opening up the game planning to include further input from Jason Garrett and Doug Nussmeier. "Dak friendly" was the buzz word of last year's offseason, and now after another Pro Bowl season from Prescott, the Cowboys are taking real strides to accommodate their quarterback. Former Cowboys QB Jon Kitna is also in agreement to join the coaching staff, potentially as the QB Coach if Moore is promoted.
Beasley had at least five receptions in each of Prescott's first three career games, the connection between the rookie QB and reliable receiver evident. 2016 was a career high in receptions, yards, and touchdowns for Beasley.
The new direction of the Cowboys offense should put a priority on the tight end in the passing game, but it was Beasley that became Prescott's security blanket as Jason Witten was to Tony Romo.
Doesn't mean I'm gone. I'll play anywhere where I can make more of an impact. I would love for that to be Dallas or anywhere else that will give me more pops to make an impact. I just wanna ball. It's hard with 3 to 4 opps a game. https://t.co/zImZKxkAvD
A more recent example of the impact Beasley can make out of the slot came in week six this season. Exploiting a talented Jacksonville Jaguars defense, the Cowboys put up a season-high 40 points in a blowout win. Beasley had nine receptions for 101 yards and two touchdowns, just the second time he's eclipsed 100 yards in his Dallas career and seventh game with multiple scores.
The offseason is a time to look at all possible upgrades, and though the Cowboys hand may be forced if Beasley departs in free agency for a better opportunity, there are more dynamic and cheaper options available in the draft.
Options already on the roster include second-year player Cedrick Wilson, futures contract addition Devin Smith, and practice squad receiver Lance Lenoir.
Even still, electric players like Andy Isabella have become early fan favorites in the draft. Out of UMASS, Isabella is at the Senior Bowl this week, making quick work of defensive backs with tight footwork and effortless separation ability.
Andy Isabella's quickness and precise route running are as good as advertised. #SeniorBowl https://t.co/WXN1aczXL0
Chris Hogan, Adam Humphries, and Jordan Matthews are potential free agency targets for the Cowboys at this position as well.
With Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup tabbed to start on the outside again next season, the Cowboys shouldn't be done looking for depth at wide receiver, but have a decision to make on if they'll be players for a new starter in the slot.
Paying a premier price for a player expected to exceed the production of Beasley, who puts up numbers whenever given the chance to, would at least give a sense of direction to the Cowboys offense in 2019. Without Linehan's input on whether Beasley is retained or not though, Cowboys Nation is no closer to knowing if he'll be a part of the offense or not moving forward.
Just one of the major personnel decisions that could come down in the next months, along with a contract extension for Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and DeMarcus Lawrence, Stephen Jones has promised a "busy" offseason and Beasley's helped assure this by stirring things up on social media.
Dallas Cowboys Stay Competitive Amidst Roster Turnover
Since the start of the 2014 season, the Dallas Cowboys have won three NFC East titles, have been to the divisional round three times. and have gone 2-3 in playoff games all the while turning over an enormous amount of their roster over the last five years.
Roster turnover is normal. We see it every offseason. The amount of roster turnover that's occurred since the 2014 season is pretty incredible.
Dan Rogers, of Blogging the Boys put this out on Twitter on Sunday. It displays just how much the roster has changed in just five seasons as only two players started all three divisional round playoff games; Tyron Smith and Zack Martin.
Not only have the Cowboys won the East in three of the last five seasons, but they've done it with three different teams. Only two players have started all three divisional playoff games.
In addition to the above note, only six players who started the divisional game for the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 started for the Cowboys in the matchup with the Los Angeles Rams; Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Maliek Collins, and Byron Jones.
Tyrone Crawford is the only other player that was available for all three games, though he didn't start the 2016 divisional round game.
It highlights the amazing job that the Cowboys have done at building their roster and "rebuilding on the fly." Every year, save for 2015, the Dallas Cowboys have been competitive because they've been able to turnover the roster efficiently and effectively. This team has become one of the best drafting teams in the NFL and will look to add to that legacy this April in Nashville, Tennessee.
18 of the 22 "starters" for the Cowboys this season were draft picks or undrafted free agent (UDFA) signings for the team. If you include players with a significant role like Cole Beasley, Randy Gregory, and Sean Lee, you see that the Cowboys have done an amazing job at building their team through the draft and have found significant contributions from free agents -- or in Amari Cooper's case, players they traded for -- here and there.
Of the top 10 players in snap percentage on offense from the 2018 season, Joe Looney was the only player that wasn't drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. If you look at the top 15 players in snap percentage for the defense, Defensive Tackle Antwaun Woods was the only player that wasn't drafted by the Cowboys.
We also shouldn't forget to underscore just how awesome Zack Martin and Tyron Smith are. Their availability has been incredible. Tyron Smith has sat out games each of the last three seasons for various issues, but has always been their come playoff time. Martin had never missed a game until this season when he sat out two related to knee and hip issues. But again, Martin was there in the playoffs helping Joe Looney and Connor Williams deal with Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh.
We're going to see some turnover this season and there's a chance that a player or two who started the divisional round game this season won't be starting in the divisional round a year from now. If all goes well with Travis Frederick, he'll be back manning the center position in place of Joe Looney in 2019. Randy Gregory could start in front of Tyrone Crawford next season. Gregory will probably add some weight this offseason, now that he's able to practice and work out with the team. Jamize Olawale may not be back and Cole Beasley looks to be headed out the door. And here's hoping the Cowboys are able to land a prized safety. Either Earl Thomas from the Seattle Seahawks or Landon Collins of the New York Giants works for me.
The Dallas Cowboys are one of the youngest teams in the NFL and will continue to build their roster through the draft. With a lot of cap space and compensatory picks coming their way to supplement their draft, the Cowboys front office can make significant strides this offseason to put their team in position to contend again in 2019.
Is 2019 Pro Bowl Kellen Moore’s Audition for Cowboys’ OC Job?
The Cowboys coaching staff is already in Orlando, FL working with the NFC team for the 2019 Pro Bowl. One of those staffers is Kellen Moore, who is a heavy favorite to become Dallas' new offensive coordinator. Could this weekend's game be his audition?
Moore's previous job as the quarterbacks coach has already been given to former QB Jon Kitna, who is with the team this week working at the Pro Bowl. The previous OC, Scott Linehan, is not there after being fired early last Friday.
With Kitna as the QB coach and no official OC announced, it appears Moore is serving in the coordinator role this week.
Kellen Moore is installing the offense for the NFC Pro Bowl team
Cowboys coaches Kellen Moore and Jon Kitna working with the quarterbacks at Pro Bowl. Dak Prescott is not at practice at the moment. Neither is Ezekiel Elliott
Moore will have several of his Cowboys players to work this weekend. Ezekiel Elliott was part of the original Pro Bowl roster, and Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper were named to the team recently as alternates.
Dallas may not be using this week to learn anything about Kellen Moore, who they clearly already have a high opinion of. But it will still serve as a good experience for him before potentially taking the reins of the Cowboys offense in 2019.
If nothing else, it's an added level of intrigue for Cowboys fans this weekend.
Dallas Cowboys7 days ago
5 Potential Candidates Cowboys Could Target to Replace OC Scott Linehan
Dallas Cowboys3 days ago
3 Reasons Not to Hate Kellen Moore Becoming Offensive Coordinator
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Texas Forever? Kris Richard Appears Closer to Staying with Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Cowboys Getting Over $30 Million Cap Space from Expiring Dead Money
Dallas Cowboys2 days ago
7 Free Agents the Cowboys Should Target
Dallas Cowboys4 days ago
Tony Romo Won’t Be the Next Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator
Player News5 days ago
Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Top 5 Offseason Priorities for the Dallas Cowboys