Although they lead the all time series with the New Orleans Saints 15-10, recent history shows that New Orleans has been anything but The Big Easy to the Dallas Cowboys. The Saints have taken 7 of the last 8 meetings with Dallas, including last December's 34-31 overtime shootout. The outlier, however, was a victory that Cowboys fans have still not forgotten, one that was a rare dent on the Saints' Super Bowl season.
To kick off Week 15 of the 2009 season, fans were treated to the NFL's two remaining undefeated teams playing on NFL Network before Sunday. On Thursday, the Indianapolis Colts kept their streak alive, defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars in 35-31 thriller (yes, the Jaguars were actually contenders at one point!) and the Saints were scheduled to take on the Cowboys on Saturday night, December 19. Many experts had given the game to the Saints, and few could blame them. Dallas was coming off brutal back to back losses, further exaggerating the legend that they were unable to win in December. Following a painful 31-24 loss to the divisional rival New York Giants, the Cowboys fell at home to the San Diego Chargers 20-17. They were barely holding to a playoff spot, and things only looked bleak going into New Orleans, especially at the Superdome. Now the Saints had been challenged before the Dallas game, but no one figured Dallas would be the one to help the 1972 Miami Dolphins breathe easier. They came in boasting offensive weapons like QB Drew Brees, RB Reggie Bush, WR Marques Colston, and plenty of other names to give teams nightmares. They were coming a 26-23 win over rival Atlanta, which required a game winning field goal by K Garrett Hartley. By kickoff, the 13-0 Saints were 7.5 favorites over the 8-5 Cowboys, who did receive good news when it was revealed DeMarcus Ware, who was carted off the field late in the San Diego game, was ready to play.
The game got off to a shocking start...the Saints high powered offense got the ball first but went three and out. Starting at their own 21, Tony Romo got the Cowboys to midfield, where he found Miles Austin on a 50 yard strike to put Dallas up 7-0. Many expected a quick New Orleans retaliation, but the Saints again went three and out...the first time they had started a game with back to back three and outs. After Patrick Crayton returned a Thomas Morestead punt 28 yards to the Dallas 40, Romo engineered another scoring drive, getting the Cowboys into the red zone on a 26 yard strike to the Saints 15. Three plays later, RB Marion Barber, ripped all week for not scoring during the Charger game, punched it in from 3 yards out, his first touchdown in seven weeks. Though the Cowboys were up 14-0 after the 1st quarter, the raucous Saints crowd was not panicking. Carolina had jumped out to a 14-0 lead after one on New Orleans six weeks ago, and the Saints ended up winning that one 30-20. The Cowboys did give up a 34 yard Hartley field goal in the second, but negated that with a 44 yarder by K Nick Folk. Folk's field goal was set up by Ware's strip and sack of Brees, whose fumble put Dallas on the New Orleans 24. The Cowboys were up 17-3 at the half, and talks of an upset began to circulate.
On their first 2nd half possession, the Cowboys scored on a 13 play, 74 yard drive that lasted exactly seven minutes. Barber scored his 2nd touchdown of the day, and the Cowboys had a 24-3 lead after three. However, Brees and the Saints offense finally started to wake up. Brees engineered a 9 play, 80 yard drive that made it a 24-10 game, with RB Mike Bell punching in the score from one yard out. Roy Williams's drop led the Cowboys to another punt, and Brees again took the Saints on a scoring drive, this one going 70 yards in 7 plays. Brees threw the score himself this time, a 7 yard pass to WR Lance Moore that sent the Superdome in a frenzy.
The Cowboys got the ball back after a Morestead touchback and quickly faced 3rd and 7. Romo found Miles Austin for a 32 yard gain that put Dallas back into New Orleans territory. They went even deeper on the very next play, a 23 yard hookup with TE John Phillips. Not only was Dallas moving the ball, but they were taking time off the clock as well, forcing New Orleans to start calling their timeouts. Eventually the Saints, after using all their timeouts, forced the Cowboys into a field goal, sending Folk and the rest of the unit out. Folk had not had a good warm up session in the Superdome, and NFL Network was kind enough to play a clip of it before he lined up for a 24 yarder. Folk's attempt clanged off the right upright, and New Orleans got the ball back. It was the 2nd time in 3 weeks that Saints fans had seemed a situation like this play out, as Shaun Suisham's miss from 23 yards gave the Saints the opportunity to pull off a comeback win against Washington. As for Folk, it ended up being his final kick as a member of the Cowboys. He was let go two days later.
Given new life with 2:16 to go, Brees tried to keep the undefeated streak alive. On 4th and 10, he found Colston for a 14 yard gain. Brees eventually worked his way to the Dallas 42, where the Saints faced 2nd and 10 with 12 seconds to go. Brees dropped back and searched for an open receiver downfield....but the ball never made it there. Out of nowhere came...well, Ware. The then-linebacker sacked and stripped Brees for a second time, and the ball was recovered by Jay Ratliff, sealing a 24-17 win for the Cowboys. Romo finished the game 22-34 for 312 yards and a touchdown, with his favorite receiver being Austin who nabbed 7 catches for 139 yards and a TD. Brees, despite his turnovers, finished 29-45 for 298 yards, a touchdown and an interception to Mike Jenkins.
The momentum was huge for the Cowboys. After defeating high powered New Orleans offense, the defense posted back to back shutouts of Washington and Philadelphia en route to the NFC East division title. Even sweeter, they picked up their first playoff win in over a decade, defeating those same Eagles in the NFC Wild Card round. Sadly, a rematch with the Saints was not to be as the Cowboys fell to the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional round. New Orleans, meanwhile, went on to win their first ever Super Bowl title over the Colts that February.
So while New Orleans may go into Sunday night's game favored, just remember...the Cowboys used a prime time win over New Orleans to propel them to a division title before...who's to say they cant do it again
Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración
Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.
Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.
Cambios de Coach
A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.
A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.
Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?
A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.
A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.
En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.
La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.
Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.
Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.
No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.
Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story
Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.
Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.
Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.
Here's why those people are wrong.
Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.
Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).
Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.
There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.
Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.
Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.
Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.
Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.
And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.
Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?
When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.
It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.
Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.
Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.
Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.
The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.
Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating
Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating
As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.
Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Now, he just has to go out and prove it!
Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?
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