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Cowboys Front Office Proven Right So Far, Faces Reality Check Vs Saints

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Front Office Proven Right So Far, Faces Reality Check Vs Saints
(Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS via Getty Images)

The Dallas Cowboys deserve a lot of credit for their 6-5 record through 12 weeks, salvaging playoff hopes out of a 3-5 team that was under performing and fading fast. Specifically, the often-criticized Cowboys front office was at the forefront of the team's turnaround. Admitting to offseason mistakes that still have every opportunity to keep the Cowboys out of the playoffs, thanks to the Redskins and Eagles remaining within a game in the division, the Cowboys look competent on offense now. Credit the addition of Amari Cooper and coaching change in the offensive line room, as the team fired Paul Alexander.

Marc Colombo has returned the Cowboys to their winning ways up front, while Cooper has given the team a fighting chance in the passing game. Playing offense without a threat like Cooper on the outside was a death sentence for a young Cowboys unit that was losing confidence by the week.

With Cooper in the fold, the Cowboys can fairly evaluate Quarterback Dak Prescott, who has not turned the ball over in any of his team's last three wins. This front office has talked plenty about extending Prescott's contract, making a sustained level of play with Cooper an absolute must.

Cowboys Front Office Proven Right So Far, Faces Reality Check Vs Saints 1

Everybody knows the 10-1 Saints are in town this week, rolling into AT&T Stadium as winners of ten straight. As the Cowboys prepare for their steepest challenge of the season, facing the reality of being stuck at .500 again with a loss, the organization should come to terms with Thursday's kickoff being a reality check.

Before you instantly dismiss this premise and call me a hater for "writing off" the Cowboys, I'll say now that I firmly believe Dallas will be in this football game with a chance to win late.

With an owner/GM that's compared his team to the 10-1 Rams, outscoring the Cowboys by just over 14 more points a game while running away with the NFC West thanks to an ultra-aggressive offseason, Jerry Jones has a lot at stake this week.

The Rams only loss this season came to this week's opponent, as the Saints defended their home field with a 45-35 shootout win. Games like these around the league have done little to inspire hope in Cowboys Nation that this team can truly contend in the playoffs.

At times, the Rams and Saints (two teams intertwined in the Cowboys season for better or worse) have appeared to be playing a different sport entirely compared to the Cowboys.

Where the Cowboys merely talk about being as dynamic an organization, teams like the Saints back it up. As Dak Prescott is still a quarterback that relies on near-perfect surroundings, Drew Brees is a Hall of Fame lock. For as important as former fourth overall pick Ezekiel Elliott is, the Saints are content with third round pick Alvin Kamara. The Saints top wide receiver, Michael Thomas, has been playing at a high level since 2016 as a second round draft pick.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys against Philadelphia 2

Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett

The Cowboys have shown a lot of fight for their Head Coach Jason Garrett recently, elevating their level of play to make up for a less-than-dynamic scheme on offense. Across from Garrett on Thursday will be Sean Payton, near the forefront of offensive innovation as his Saints have dismantled teams on that side of the ball.

New Orleans has outscored their last three opponents by a combined 92 points, defeating the Eagles, Falcons, and Bengals handily.

The Cowboys have almost no business hanging around with the Saints, but with the expectation being they'll find a way thanks to a defense that's pushed all the right buttons, their front office once again deserves credit.

Drafting Leighton Vander Esch, moving Byron Jones to cornerback, and hiring Kris Richard all seem like home run moves the Cowboys have made to field a top defense for the first time in years. Lining up against the top scoring offense in the NFL this week will be a reality check.

No matter the outcome, the Cowboys will have four meaningful games remaining for 2018. By all means they should be excited about the prospects of winning the NFC East after such a slow start, but I can't help but ponder the team's standards to do much more than that anytime soon.

Remaining in contention at either 6-6 off a loss to the Saints or 7-5 with a four game win streak is a fantastic way for the Cowboys to stick with what has worked this season -- perhaps only out of desperation.

Though they don't have to play like a desperate team on Thursday, Jerry Jones wants his players to think each play is the "Super Bowl" this week. In an interview on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, Jones mentioned this game as one that can "change your attitude".

An attitude adjustment that makes the Cowboys a true Super Bowl contender is hard to fathom even with a decisive win against the Saints, and is only something that could peek through the silver and blue tinted windows at The Star.

For sure, more national pundits will be singing the praises of the Cowboys if they upset the Saints. To those of us who've followed this team through alternating wins and losses from week one to seven, an embarrassing home loss off the bye to Tennessee, and countless seasons where a .500 record was far from good enough, the gap between Dallas and New Orleans feels massive.

The Cowboys have done everything possible leading up to this game to close such a gap, but have work left to do - very possibly in the form of more high-level changes - in becoming one of the league's best.

No such team will come out of the NFC East this season, as the defending Super Bowl champions are fighting for their playoff lives, and the Redskins reduced to a backup quarterback.

Cowboys Front Office Proven Right So Far, Faces Reality Check Vs Saints 2

Very often, the best teams go through these aforementioned changes, as the Saints were 7-9 for three straight years from 2014-16 before an 11 win season last year and likely an even better output for 2018.

AT&T Stadium would host a playoff game if the postseason began today, but the second place team in each NFC division has any many wins as Dallas. The Seahawks, stuck behind the juggernaut Rams, have a win over the Cowboys already while the Vikings are hunting the first place Bears as last year's NFC Championship Game loser.

Missing the playoffs entirely at 9-7 last year, the Cowboys desperately want in any way they can make it, with four quarters to prove how worthy they are of a playoff spot coming on prime time in two days.

Professional football is a hard sport to figure out. The Cowboys are certainly improving at doing so in the short-term, with the long-term outlook for this team requiring a much larger sample size than just Thursday's game or even the rest of 2018 as currently constructed.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Front Office Proven Right So Far, Faces Reality Check Vs Saints" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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3 Biggest Non-Divisional Games on the Dallas Cowboys 2019 Schedule

John Williams

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The Dallas Cowboys Are Legit Contenders

There hasn't been a repeat champion of the NFC East since the early 2000's when the Philadelphia Eagles won three in a row from 2002-2004. Unfortunately, history is already against the Dallas Cowboys repeating as division champions again in 2019. For the Cowboys to repeat as NFC East champs, they'll have to navigate a tough slate of opponents.

That's the reward of winning your division.

Though much can change in the next five months as the NFL prepares to play football games that matter in September, there are already key matchups for this young Dallas Cowboys team. We know the NFC East is always a difficult division to play in. The rivalries make for a lot of close games. The Cowboys have to play well in the division to have a shot at winning the division. But with the schedule they have, they'll have to win some contests that they probably shouldn't to stake their claim as Super Bowl contenders.

Divisional games are always important, but let's take a look at the three games outside the division that will have the greatest impact on the fortunes of the Dallas Cowboys 2019 season.

1. Week 4 - Dallas Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints

The Cowboys have an opportunity to get off to a hot start in the first quarter of the season with games at home against the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins, and a road game against the Washington Redskins. There's a legitimate chance for them to start the season 3-0.

Whatever momentum they do gain in the first three games of the season could all come to a screeching halt with a tough week four matchup in New Orleans.

New Orleans has been a tough place to play in the Sean Payton and Drew Brees eras. The Dallas Cowboys defense will have a tough test attempting to slow down the high scoring Saints offense two years in a row.

When the two teams met in 2018, the Dallas Cowboys defense completely dominated the Saints. On that day, they held the Saints to 176 total yards (111 passing and 65 rushing) and an amazing 3 for 11 on third downs. It was especially impressive because the Cowboys only had two sacks and one turnover in the game. The Saints just couldn't find a rhythm as the Cowboys came with a lot of energy and physicality. It was a defining moment for this young defense and gave us a picture of what they could possibly be.

If the Dallas Cowboys can find a way to win this game and potentially start the season 4-0, it would be huge for their playoff hopes.

On the flip side, if the Dallas Cowboys start the season 2-1, they could be going into New Orleans with the possibility of starting the season 2-2. The pressure would be incredible for the Cowboys the rest of the way with the slate of teams they have at the end of the season.

The Cowboys have to leave the first quarter of the season at worst 3-1 to have a shot at the playoffs in 2019.

2. Week 14 - Dallas Cowboys @ the Chicago Bears

The toughest part of the Dallas Cowboys schedule always comes around the Thanksgiving day game, and this season is no different. Starting with their week 12 game at the New England Patriots, the Cowboys will play three games in 12 days culminating with their week 14 game against the Chicago Bears.

The Bears, coming off an NFC North title in 2018, are similar to the Dallas Cowboys. They boast an incredible defense with one of the best pass rushers in the NFL and a young an improving offense.

Playing in Chicago is always a tough task, but doing so in December is a tall order. Doing so after going to New England, then playing at home, then going back on the road seems like an impossible task.

It's a game that will likely be a grind-it-out affair, as both teams want to run the ball and play defense. Depending on what happens in the previous two games, this could be a must-win to start the final quarter of the season.

3. Week 15 - Los Angeles Rams @ Dallas Cowboys

The rematch of the NFC Divisional round matchup is just another in a long line of important conference matchups for the Dallas Cowboys. It will be a very important game for the Cowboys because it will be a home game after their three games in 12 days stretch. They'll have to go to Foxboro and Chicago in a span of 12 days, which makes for tough travel.

Facing a Los Angeles Rams team that absolutely dominated the Dallas Cowboys defense is an opportunity for redemption, but will have huge implications on the playoff standings for the NFC.

The Cowboys and Rams could both be leading their divisions at this point in the season, which would make this game important for seeding. Or, they could be fighting for a wild card berth. Either way, a conference game this late in the season has huge consequences in the way the tie breakers shake out.

This one will carry an emotional importance as well.

The way the 2018 season ended for this club, especially on the defensive side of the ball, left a lot of players -- and fans -- with a bad taste in their mouths. It completely changed the way a lot of people view a defense that finished in the top 10 in most major defensive categories. The loss to the Rams was one of the worst defensive performances of the season and it came at the worst time of the season.

Not only was the defense bad, but the running game was terrible that day too. Ezekiel Elliott only managed 47 yards on 20 carries for one of the worst rushing performances of his career. It took a really good second half from Dak Prescott and the passing game to get the Cowboys within one score with a shot to get the ball back at the end of the game.

If the Cowboys can get revenge for that playoff loss, it would do a lot for the morale of this team heading into the final two weeks of the season.

These conference games will have huge implications for the Cowboys and their playoff hopes. Though the NFC East will have a bigger impact on their ability to win the division, how they fare in these three games will give us a better understanding of the legitimacy of their contender status. Each of these games is against the team that won the division the previous season. If they can go 2-1 against this quality of competition, then we'll know this is a team to be reckoned with heading into January.



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Dallas Cowboys 2019 Schedule: Reaction and Analysis

Jess Haynie

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Dak Prescott/Carson Wentz Is No Rivalry, And There's Only One Side To Blame

The full NFL 2019 regular season schedule was released last night. Here is my reaction to the Dallas Cowboys' schedule and analysis of how what I think it means for them next season.

Of course, a schedule can have a very different feel come September-December than it does in April. The teams don't change, but their circumstances can be wildly altered by the time they actually have to take the field.

Just ask the Cowboys' opponents from the 2015 season. Nobody was looking forward to playing that Dallas team coming off its 12-4 playoff run the year before. But all it took was a Tony Romo injury in the preseason to suddenly make the Cowboys a cupcake.

But for now, we can only react to what we know. Before we dive in, here's a quick reminder of the complete 2019 regular season schedule for the Dallas Cowboys.

    • Week 1: New York Giants @ Cowboys
    • Week 2: Cowboys @ Washington Redskins
    • Week 3: Miami Dolphins @ Cowboys 
    • Week 4: Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints (SNF)
    • Week 5: Green Bay Packers @ Cowboys
    • Week 6: Cowboys @ New York Jets
    • Week 7: Philadelphia Eagles @ Cowboys (SNF)
    • Week 8: BYE
    • Week 9: Cowboys @ New York Giants  (SNF)
    • Week 10: Minnesota Vikings @ Cowboys (MNF)
    • Week 11: Cowboys @ Detroit Lions
    • Week 12: Cowboys @ New England Patriots
    • Week 13: Buffalo Bills @ Cowboys (T'giving)
    • Week 14: Cowboys @ Chicago Bears (TNF)
    • Week 15: Los Angeles Rams @ Cowboys
    • Week 16: Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
    • Week 17: Washington Redskins @ Cowboys

We already knew this wasn't going to be an easy slate. The Cowboys won the NFC East last year, meaning they were guaranteed to play against four division winners this season; Bears, Patriots, Rams, and Saints. They also get the regular two games against the Eagles, who were a Wild Card team last year.

Let's just talk about those six games for a minute. New England is still New England; Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will ensure that it's one of the toughest games of the year, and especially on the road. The Patriots have won 12-straight home games going back to 2017.

The Bears and Rams are both rising teams that shouldn't suffer any drop off next year. Chicago QB Mitch Trubisky is entering his third year and LA's Jared Goff will be in his fourth season, but only third in Sean McVay's offense. Both have starting QBs with rookie contacts, which means having the resources to load up on talent elsewhere on the roster.

Much like the Patriots, the Saints still have their franchise QB and coach and should remain a top team. They will also be out for blood after the Cowboys humiliated them last season, as will their fans, and that could make for a very tough road game in New Orleans.

Then, of course, there are the Eagles.

Eagles vs Redskins Tonight; What Outcome is Best for Cowboys?

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

The NFC East appears to be a two-horse race in 2019. The Giants are arguably the worst team in the NFL right now and the Redskins are dealing with major QB problems. It should be Dallas and Philadelphia once again battling for the top spot.

The Cowboys and Eagles should both get some cushy wins against their fellow division opponents. It could come down to their games against each other, and so far Dallas has dominated Philly when Carson Wentz is playing QB. With Nick Foles gone, how will that impact the Eagles going forward?

As for the rest of the schedule, the only other game that seems easy on paper is against the Miami Dolphins. Teams like the Bills, Jets, and Lions could go either way. The Packers and Vikings should both be tough opponents.

The teams aside, the general layout of the schedule isn't bad. The Week 8 bye is nice for a break right in the middle of the season. Dallas only has to play back-to-back road games one time, Weeks 11 and 12 against the Lions and Patriots.

The first three games against the Giants, Redskins, and Dolphins give Dallas a great opportunity to start the year right and build momentum. They will definitely need to go into December with some cushion, because that stretch against the Bears, Rams, and Eagles could be very difficult.

Overall it's a solid schedule. It's got some tough spots because of the Cowboys' performance last year, but that means they were a good team then and they stand to be even better now. There's nothing here that prevents Dallas from building on the success of 2018 and making then an ever better season.



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BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys 2019 Regular Season Schedule Announced

Mauricio Rodriguez

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys against Philadelphia

Although we're still months away from the 2019 NFL season, we finally know how the Dallas Cowboys' games will line up this year. The entire league schedule was just released. I know just how much you want to know who the Cowboys will be playing each week so don't let me keep you.

Here's the full 2019 Dallas Cowboys schedule and a few notes at the end. Enjoy!

  • Week 1: New York Giants @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Sep 8th, 3:25p
  • Week 2: Cowboys @ Washington Redskins
    • Sun, Sep 15th, 12:00p
  • Week 3: Miami Dolphins @ Cowboys 
    • Sun, Sep 22nd, 12:00p
  • Week 4: Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints
    • Sunday Night Football
    • Sep, 29th, 7:20p
  • Week 5: Green Bay Packers @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Oct 6th, 3:25p
  • Week 6: Cowboys @ New York Jets
    • Sun, Oct 13th, 3:25p
  • Week 7: Philadelphia Eagles @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Oct 20th, 7:20p
  • Week 8: Bye
  • Week 9: Cowboys @ New York Giants 
    • Monday Night Football
    • Mon, Nov 4th, 7:15p
  • Week 10: Minnesota Vikings @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Nov 10th, 7:20p
  • Week 11: Cowboys @ Detroit Lions
    • Sun, Nov 17th, 12:00p
  • Week 12: Cowboys @ New England Patriots
    • Sun, Nov 24th, 3:25p
  • Week 13: Buffalo Bills @ Cowboys
    • Thanksgiving Day
    • Thu, Nov 28th, 3:30p
  • Week 14: Cowboys @ Chicago Bears
    • Thursday Night Football
    • Thu, Dec 4th, 7:20p
  • Week 15: Los Angeles Rams @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Dec 15th, 3:25p
  • Week 16: Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
    • Sun, Dec 22nd, 3:25p
  • Week 17: Washington Redskins @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Dec 29th, 12:00p

A few notes and thoughts...

  • It feels like the Cowboys play the Giants on week 1 just about every year. In 2018 it was the Carolina Panthers, but now we're back to watching this divisional matchup early on.
  • I love that the Cowboys and Saints will matchup against each other on primetime on week 3. Last season's Thursday Night game between the two was one of the best games of the season.
  • Having a bye week right in the middle of the season is pretty ideal, and the Cowboys have been lucky in this regard lately. This time they'll rest on the eight week of the season.
  • Overall, this seems like a tougher calendar than last year's. This only makes sense given that the Cowboys are the current NFC East champions and are bound to face tougher opponents.
  • A particularly tough stretch might take place from week 12 to week 17. The Patriots, Bears and Rams will be on the list as well as two divisional rivals in the Eagles and Redskins.

Tell me what you think about "BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys 2019 Regular Season Schedule Announced" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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