Probably one of my favorite things about this time of the year is attempting to figure out which rookies from the most recent draft class will have the opportunity to make a statement during their first season in the NFL. As an NFL franchise, you hope that several, if not all of your draft picks are able to make your opening week 53-man roster and make significant impacts during the regular season.
With the way the Dallas Cowboys have drafted in the last four or five years, we've grown accustomed to first-year players showing out in their rookie seasons. This time of year creates all kinds of speculation toward that end.
The downside to this time of year is that there isn't a ton to talk about. Most of what is going on is speculation into how the team will look when they take the field week one.
It's that time of the NFL year when there's not a whole lot going on and EA Sports drops their Madden ratings out for the world to peruse and criticize. Like every year, there are always ratings that make you go, "huh?" and this year is no different.
Tank is 89 rating on Madden, how? 😳 pic.twitter.com/NoGNXDvM3E
— mike crum (@cdpiglet) July 15, 2019
The fact that DeMarcus Lawrences is rated only an 89 on Madden 20 is just further evidence to how underappreciated he is around the NFL and those who follow the NFL. Even in the Dallas Cowboys fanbase, Lawrence isn't considered to be the same level of player that Khalil Mack or Von Miller is, but if you look at the totality of the numbers, you find that Tank's been every bit as productive and disruptive as those guys have been.
As you can see from the chart above, in fewer snaps, DeMarcus Lawrence had a greater playmaking EPA over the course of the 2018 season than Khalil Mack and Von Miller. Aaron Donald had a higher playmaking EPA and should be rated higher than Lawrence, but I have a really hard time with Lawrence being rated anything less than a 95.
Though he may not have had as many sacks as Mack or either of the Watt brothers, Lawrence finished tied for fourth among edge rushers in Pro Football Focus' "stops" metric, which is defined as a play that results in a loss for the defense. Could be a tackle for a loss, a tackle that didn't achieve the expected yards for the down and distance, a sack, a batted pass, an interception, a tackle that forced a fourth down.
Lawrence is one of those players that does everything really, really well. He's one of the most well-rounded players on the defensive side of the football as he doesn't lack in his ability to play the run or rush the passer.
His ability to disrupt the run and pass game at an equally elite level goes beyond what you see in a boxscore. Oh, and his boxscore is really really good too. Though many Cowboys' fans were unsure if Lawrence was worth the $21 million per year and $60 million guaranteed that he received this offseason, I've never wavered in my belief that you should feel comfortable paying DeMarcus Lawrence like an elite edge player, because he's an elite edge player.
Do you have any rookies besides Hill and McGovern making the team?
— Carbon Fiber Supplement ✭ (@mikecarbon22) July 8, 2019
Mike followed up this question by also including Tony Pollard, so I won't touch on that one much except to say that I'm really excited to see what Pollard could do with 5-10 touches per game behind this offensive line. He's such an explosive player with the ball in his hands that you want to work to get the ball in his hands.
So, besides Trysten Hill, Connor McGovern, and Tony Pollard, which rookies do I see making the team in 2019? Well in my most recent 53-man roster projection, I included Mike Jackson, the cornerback out of Miami who the Dallas Cowboys selected in the fifth round as well as Donovan Wilson, the Texas A&M safety, their sixth-round draft pick.
I think both of those players will have an excellent shot to make the roster out of training camp and Wilson, in particular, could find himself with a significant role with the defense if he's able to translate his collegiate playmaking ability to the NFL. He was an excellent tackler and ball-hawking safety and if there's one thing that was evident in 2018, the team needs better tackling from its other safety not named Xavier Woods.
It's going to be very difficult for any of the rookie defensive linemen or wide receivers to make the roster out of training camp because there is already tremendous depth there.
Training camp generally leads to the hype machines getting out of control for undrafted free agent wide receivers and this year will be no different with playmakers Jalen Guyton and Jon'vea Johnson ready to shine. The difficulty is that they'll have to be significantly better than veterans Tavon Austin, Allen Hurns, and Noah Brown to force the team to move on from players they covet and trust.
It's possible, it's just not very likely.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Training camp is now less than two weeks away and as it draws closer, the excitement of Cowboys Nation will begin to boil over. This is a squad that has the talent and depth to be a contender. We're finally getting closer to being able to see that talent on the field instead of just talking about it.
Urban Meyer Says He’d “Absolutely” Take Cowboys’ Head Coaching Job
Typically, when a coach is asked about a potential future coaching job that is currently occupied, he'd never openly admit to eyeing that position. He'd dodge the question, lie, and say he's enjoying his time away from the game at the moment.
Former college coach Urban Meyer, however, was extremely clear in how he feels about the potential opening at head coach in Dallas with the Cowboys.
Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd asked Urban Meyer outright if he would take the job if offered, and Meyer made no mistake about it.
While it feels to me like Meyer is breaking some sort of unspoken code between coaches with these comments, it wouldn't be the first time he operated in shady waters.
But I digress.
Of course, Urban Meyer had incredible success at the collegiate level. He won multiple national championships and did a lot of winning at multiple programs. In addition, he was the college coach of Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott, who the team just extended with a monster contract. Meyer also won with quarterbacks who can utilize similar skill-sets to Cowboys starter Dak Prescott, something Jerry Jones and company would want to see in any potential head coaching candidate.
With all that being said, though, it's important to mention the Cowboys head coaching job is not open. At least not yet.
Jason Garrett's contract expires at the end of this season, and unless he can make sure that he continues coaching this team through January, it's seeming increasingly likely that this will be his final contract with the team.
Garrett's Cowboys face their biggest test of the season on Sunday night, with the Philadelphia Eagles coming to Arlington and looking to take first place from their grasps.
This will be the first step of many that Garrett will need to take if he wants to keep the Urban Meyers of the world from coming for his job.
QB Dak Prescott Confident Cowboys Can Right The Ship Sunday
Dak Prescott is a warrior.
The Cowboys starting quarterback has spent his entire NFL career proving doubters wrong. From fourth round compensatory pick to Pro Bowl quarterback and the leader of America's Team, Prescott has come a long way in just four years. And he hasn't gotten here by giving up nor giving in.
This week, to put it lightly, Prescott's Cowboys are in a tough spot. Having lost three straight games the Cowboys have fallen back to earth quickly, and now sit tied for first place in their division with this week's opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles. They're also only a game up of the 2-4 New York Giants, who are favored at home against the Cardinals this very Sunday.
Dallas has to have this one at home. And despite the team's recent struggles, Dak Prescott remains confident that his bunch can get it done.
"We're right there," Prescott told the Dallas media Thursday, "We’re a good team that hasn’t been getting it done."
Prescott certainly isn't incorrect in his evaluation. He and this offense were flying high the first three weeks, and although they've taken a step back in recent games they still sit 2nd in offensive DVOA this season.
They have gotten off to slow starts in each of their last two losses, however, scoring just 9 points over their last 4 first half quarters. This first half output is unacceptable, but Prescott remains confident that the Cowboys are going to get things right on Sunday.
The biggest factor holding the Cowboys back? According to Prescott, it's themselves. Dak also told the media that the offense just needs to "get out of our own way," referring to the penalties, sacks, and general mistakes this team has made in seemingly every key moment during this losing streak.
Luckily for Dak Prescott, he should be getting some reinforcements to protect him from the Eagles fearsome front. Both La'el Collins and Tryon Smith have been active at practice this week, and even wide receiver Amari Cooper remains optimistic despite not practicing yet since his quad injury.
It feels like Cooper will likely be out on Sunday, but increasing their help across the offensive line will be a massive boost for this offense.
Still, in the end, it's the Cowboys defense which needs to step up and play better than they have on Sunday. Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense have been strong in recent weeks, and they are looking to take over first place in the NFC East in primetime.
Cowboys en Español: El Verdadero Status de Jason Garrett
Estamos aquí de nuevo. Con los Dallas Cowboys y un récord de 3-3 después de seis semanas y tres derrotas consecutivas, el Head Coach Jason Garrett es la conversación principal entre aficionados de los Cowboys. Tras iniciar con el pie derecho esta temporada, las cosas han tomado un giro muy desafortunado para el equipo.
Desde que se convirtió en el head coach del equipo en 2010 (cuando se volvió el head coach coach "interino"), los Cowboys de Jason Garrett tienen un récord de 80-62 (56.3%) en temporada regular y un triste desempeño de 2-3 en postemporada. Tiene un premio de Coach del Año en 2016. No hay manera de negarlo... Algunas cosas han sido buenas durante la era de Garrett.
Sin embargo, no ha sido lo suficiente. Los Dallas Cowboys siguen buscando su ansiado regreso al NFC Championship Game y por supuesto, al Super Bowl. Año tras año, el equipo "se ha quedado corto." De todas las estadísticas que pueden definir lo que ha sido Jason Garrett en Dallas, mi favorita es la siguiente: En la era de Garrett, los Cowboys no han estado en los playoffs en años consecutivos. Insisto, buenos, pero no lo suficiente.
Este 2019, los Cowboys están en riesgo de perderse los playoffs esta temporada. Este domingo pelearán por el liderato de la división contra los Philadelphia Eagles en lo que debe de ser uno de los duelos del año. Ambos equipos tienen talento y han decepcionado tras sus primeros seis partidos. Los dos tienen una oportunidad de remediar sus defectos. A pesar de que empezaron con una marca de 3-0, Cowboys se encuentra en modo de pánico rumbo a la semana 7.
Tras perder contra los New York Jets - quienes no habían probado la victoria antes de enfrentar a Cowboys - la afición vaquera llegó a conclusiones a las que ya ha llegado anteriormente. "¡Jason Garrett se tiene que ir!" "Ahora si no terminará esta temporada en Dallas." Y más.
Pero, ¿en qué riesgo está realmente Jason Garrett? Los Cowboys han estado en situaciones similares antes, solo para mantener a Garrett a la cabeza del equipo. El año pasado, Dallas llegó a tener un récord de 3-5 antes de terminar la temporada con diez victorias y un pase a playoffs. Una y otra vez, la directiva ha confiado en Garrett.
Pero ahora la diferencia es fácil de identificar. Este año, los Cowboys tomaron una decisión a consciencia de no extender a su head coach. El simple hecho de estar bajo contrato de un año significa que está en el denominado "asiento caliente." No importa lo que los Jones digan en la radio. Las acciones dicen más. Si Jerry Jones dijera la verdad cuando dice que ni siquiera ha pensado en ello, Garrett tendría un contrato más amplio.
No hay que cuestionar la culpa que tiene Jason Garrett de la situación actual del equipo. La planeación de juego ha sido claramente un problema, con un plan ofensivo que cambió drásticamente tras las primeras tres semanas, renunciando a la agresividad y al play-action que tanto les había funcionado. El equipo una vez más ha demostrado no estar preparado para cada partido, iniciando lento en cada uno de ellos esta temporada. Y por supuesto, no han sido capaces de superar la ausencia de jugadores clave como Amari Cooper, Tyron Smith y La'el Collins. El coacheo ha sido incapaz de compensar la falta de estos jugadores.
De que hay un problema en la cabeza del equipo, la hay.
Pero en caso de que Jason Garrett fuera a ser despedido, ¿cuándo llegaría la noticia? Sería una sorpresa que ocurriera como muchos lo han sugerido: a media temporada tras una derrota ante Eagles. Por supuesto que aún no sabemos quien se llevará la victoria este domingo por la noche, pero asumamos lo peor por un momento.
Si bien caer a un récord de 3-4 sería difícil de superar, los Cowboys aún tendrían esperanza. Si la tuvieron hace un año con tres victorias y cinco derrotas, también la tendrían esta temporada. Más aún si consideramos que sus jugadores terminarán por sanar y regresar a la alineación. En tal caso, el talento será mucho como para quedarse sin victorias.
Mientras los Cowboys tengan vida esta temporada, muy probablemente Jason Garrett continuará con el control. A pesar de las frustraciones de muchos respecto al head coach de Dallas, no veo al equipo renunciando a Garrett a media temporada. Menos aún considerando que no hay una opción para reemplazarlo en seguida.
Y finalmente, aún queda otra alternativa. ¿Qué si los Cowboys terminan jugando en enero? Al final de cuentas, no es nada descabellado. Este equipo podría darle la vuelta a su temporada rápidamente y llevarse la división, incluso si no ganan contra Philadelphia. Pero digamos que terminan en playoffs, ¿cuánto es suficiente para que Jason Garrett se gane el derecho de quedarse al mando? Sin duda alguna, su trabajo esta en riesgo. Pero contar con que lo perderá si los Cowboys caen en la semana 7 parece prematuro.
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