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Cowboys Sack Unblemished Saints

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Once again through the first 2 weeks of December the Dallas Cowboys were being haunted by December’s past. Fans and media alike had one phrase circling through their minds, “Here we go again”. This time however, things would be different.

As soon as the final second ticked off the clock, with the loss at home to the San Diego Chargers Sunday a week ago, Cowboys coaches, players, and front office personnel were enveloped by a storm of fans and media, calling for the dismissal of Wade Phillips, and Jason Garrett. No one and I do mean no one, gave this team a chance to knock off the “unbeatable” Saints.

Quietly however, a transformation had begun to take shape inside the locker room. That transformation was ignited, not by coaches, or by fans, or even by the owner, no this transformation was ignited by the two “Leaders” of this football team, Tony Romo and DeMarcus Ware.

The fans of the Dallas Cowboys have been screaming for several years for certain players to “Step Up” and impose their will on this football team, well guess what people? That is exactly what took place in New Orleans on Saturday night.

Coming into Saturday nights match up, the Saints offense had been lights out. In their previous 15 possessions the potent Saints offense had punted only once, yes one time! The Saints were an unstoppable machine.

In the Cowboys previous game against the Chargers, they were dealt a blow that could have been disastrous. Star outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware while trying to make a tackle, took an awkward hit to the head, and dropped him to the carpet. While Ware lay lifeless on the Cowboys Stadium floor, we all watched in horror. The next day we all heard that he would be okay, but that we should prepare ourselves for a trip to New Orleans without him.

Later in the week rumors began to circulate that the Cowboys defensive heartbeat may have a chance to play against the Saints, was this merely a stunt to keep the fans from jumping off the nearest bridge? Was this Jerry and Wade’s way of keeping the team together? Or was this simply DeMarcus Ware refusing to sit by and watch his comrades go into battle without him?

We the fans may never know, just exactly what took place, but I believe that Ware viewed this scenario like this; this is our time to prove ourselves and I will not sit idly by and let the moment slip past us. This was the beginning, this was the flame that ignited the blaze.

The Cowboys past December failures have placed upon the shoulders of one man, whether they should have been or not is debatable, but Tony Romo received the blame none the less. People have questioned his commitment, leadership skills, and decision making. They have even brought his personal life into it as a reason for the team’s failures. Tony however, has never wavered in his beliefs of himself and of his team; he has taken the abuse in stride.

The Cowboy offense has been very good and very bad, many times all of that in the same afternoon. I and many of you have questioned the game plans, play calls, who should start and who should get more carries, not because we know any better but because we believed that this team could be better than it was.

There has been something slightly off about this years Cowboy offense, not personnel wise or anything like that, there was just something missing. The team seemed to be unable to have the energy level and fierceness, to start a game at full speed to let their opponent understand that the Cowboys were in charge, and there is nothing you can do about it.

We have heard Tony Romo say many times that “individual things are not important” he does not care how many yards he throws for or how many touchdowns he has, he simply wants to win.

From the opening kick off Dallas was ready and New Orleans was not prepared for what the Cowboys had in store for them.

All week long we told of the doom that was in store for our boys. We were told how great Greg Williams was, and how he had transformed the Saints defense into this turnover creating machine, and how they would force Romo into making poor decisions. We were told of the great Drew Brees and the dynamic receiving corps. that surrounds him, and how the Cowboys secondary simply would not hold up to the pressure.

Tony Romo and the Cowboys offense took their first two possessions the length of the field for touchdowns, and put the superdome crowd in their seats. The blaze that had been started by Ware was now raging out of control, a blaze so big not even the waters that once flooded the streets of New Orleans could have contained it.

The Dallas Cowboys were now in position to pull off the unthinkable, they had the unblemished Saints on the ropes, but like any good team they were not going to just walk off into the night without one last fight. The Saints began to scratch and claw their way back into the game behind their MVP candidate Drew Brees. The ultimate stage was now set for not one, but both of the Cowboys leaders to either, (a) let another game slip through their hands or (b) stand up to the challenge.

After the Saints had brought themselves to within seven points of the boys, Tony Romo took the huddle and looked his mates in the eye and said follow me. Twice in the Cowboys final offensive drive they looked as if things would stall, but each time Romo stepped up and made a play to keep things rolling, when others were crumbling to the pressure he simply did things himself.

Tony drove his team 74 yards and put them in position for a chip shot field goal to ice the game, only to have the kicker clank it off the upright. Now there was nothing more he could do, except stand on the sidelines watch, and all of us had that disgusting December slogan run through our minds once again “Here we go again”.

Then with just seconds left in the game and the Saints driving, the man who just one week earlier had been driven off the field in an ambulance, simply looked across the line at his opponent and said, not this time, not today. We all have seen the explosiveness, and power that is DeMarcus Ware but never like this. Like something out the movies DeMarcus launched himself at the snap of the ball, with so much power that when he made contact with Jermond Bushrod it launched the Saints tackle into the air, and in a flash Drew Brees was enveloped, and the ball he once held was now rolling on the Superdome floor.

The 2009-10 Dallas Cowboy season has been a roller coaster ride, was this, the game that they needed to get them to believe enough in themselves to become the team they aspire to be? Or was this just one special night? We do not know the answer to these questions yet, but at least for now, we can be proud of this team, and of what they accomplished. No longer should they be subject to statements like these,

The Dallas Cowboys have zero chance!
Tony Dungy

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1 Comment
  • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

    It’s such a shame too, I watched the CBS coverage for a couple of hours after their noon game finished and not one single mention of the Cowboys-Saints game was made. I watched ESPN and ESPN2 for about five hours this morning waiting for it to be brought up, and it barely was. That’s retarded.

    They all like to jump on the whole “Cowboys suck in December” bandwagon and yet when the Cowboys surpass mere luck like they did against the “unbeatable” Saints, not one word about it. Even the announcers during that game were repeatedly calling the play of the ‘Boys perfect and nearly perfect.

Dallas Cowboys

DeMarcus Lawrence, Franchise Tags and Realities for Dallas Cowboys

Mauricio Rodriguez

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DeMarcus Lawrence, Franchise Tags and Realities for Dallas Cowboys
Matthew Emmons / USA TODAY Sports

For Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, it was now or never. With an expiring rookie contract, it was time for him to make a name for himself. Between injuries and a suspension, Lawrence wasn’t close to being a great player before 2017. He accounted for eight sacks in 2015 and only one in 2016.

However, last season he was finally able to get double-digit numbers by sacking opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times. Lawrence also had 36 tackles and four forced fumbles. Not only was he a very good pass rusher, but he also became a great run defender.

Simply put, DeMarcus “Tank” Lawrence went from an average player to one of the NFL’s best defensive ends in 2017.

It seems like finally, after years of waiting, the Dallas Cowboys have found their “War Daddy.” But, as is always the case for the Cowboys, there’s a problem. DeMarcus Lawrence needs to be paid in order for him to stay. With number 90 ready to hit free agency, the Cowboys’ front office has a choice to make.

They can give him the big multi-year contract he wants, they can tag him, or the Cowboys can watch him walk out the front door and thrive somewhere else in the league.

DeMarcus Lawrence

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence (Scott Cunningham / Getty Images)

There’s a problem with giving him a big-time contract though. Lawrence had a great 2017 season, but before that, he hadn’t proved anything. Tank has provided one quality season for the Dallas Cowboys. Are they willing to pay him a lot of money and take the risk of seeing him play like in 2015 or 2016?

It wouldn’t be the first time that an NFL player has had a great “contract year” season just to become an average football player. The Cowboys should look at the possibility of keeping Lawrence for at least one more year by giving him a franchise tag.

But First of All, What is a Franchise Tag?

The offseason is a time in which we sort of understand certain concepts but don’t truly understand them completely. Simply put, every year each NFL team has the right to hand out a franchise tag to one of its players. Tagging a player means giving him a one-year deal with a high payment, basically forcing the player to stay with the team for one more season.

In some cases, the player might even end up on another team, despite being tagged, but that would depend on the type of franchise tag he receives.

There are three types of franchise tags:

  • Exclusive Franchise Tag: With this tag, the player gets paid the average of the top five salaries for the player’s position (in this case, defensive end) for the current year. With this tag, no other team can negotiate with the player (hence the term exclusive). However, only guys like Kirk Cousins or Von Miller get exclusive tags, so it probably won’t be the case for Lawrence.
  • Non-exclusive Franchise Tag: Out of every tag, this is the most used. With this tag, the player receives the average of the top five salaries at his position over the last five years. Other teams can actually negotiate with the player though. If offered a deal by another team, the current team has the right to match the offer. If they decline to do so, they get two first-round picks in compensation.
  • Transition Franchise Tag: This isn’t as compromising as the other tags are, since the team doesn’t even receive compensation if the player takes a deal with another team. The player is paid the average of the ten best salaries at his position. The current team has the opportunity to match any offers made to the player.

In DeMarcus Lawrence’s case, the “non-exclusive” tag would make the most sense, but even if the Cowboys decide to tag Lawrence, there’s still a big problem… cap space.

Per Over The Cap, Dallas is expected to have a cap number of around $18M. The projected tag for a DE in 2018 is over $17M. The Cowboys have to make some moves if they want to keep Tank on the roster.

Whether it’s releasing some players or restructuring a ton of contracts, something will need to get done in Dallas. Lawrence is not the only player the Cowboys should be concerned about re-signing, so they’ll definitely need the cap space.

We may see some surprising cap casualties if the Cowboys really want Lawrence. I wouldn’t even be surprised if this team says goodbye to Dez Bryant, for example.

I don’t see how this team could let DeMarcus Lawrence walk in free agency. I don’t think they should. Let’s hope Tank is wearing a star in 2018.

Tell me what you think about “DeMarcus Lawrence, Franchise Tags and Realities for Dallas Cowboys” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Have Need for Speed at Running Back

Jess Haynie

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Has RB Rod Smith Emerged As Ezekiel Elliott's Primary Backup? 2
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have a lot needs in the 2018 offseason. Running back may seem low on the list, but Dallas should not take it for granted. They have an opportunity to add some needed speed and explosion to their offense.

Ezekiel Elliott and Rod Smith will form an exciting one-two punch at the top of the RB depth chart. Alfred Morris‘ contract has expired and it’s unlikely he’ll return with Smith’s late-season push for a larger role.

Rod Smith is an ideal backup for Elliott. He has the right mix of power and athleticism to run some of the same plays, plus he’s not a bad receiver. He could even work as the third-down back when Zeke needs a breather.

Ezekiel Elliott, Broncos

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Between those two, Dallas has all the power and standard running they need. That’s why I believe they should use the number-three spot this year on a true speedster.

I’m sure the first name that pops in mind is Lance Dunbar, who held that role to varying degrees from 2012-2016. Dunbar could be used in a variety of speed-based plays, go out as a receiver, and even return kicks at times.

The Cowboys have a candidate for this role already in Trey Williams, who was on the practice squad and will be with the team at least to start the offseason.

Small and versatile, Williams looks like he fits that Dunbar mold. However, Williams isn’t a true burner. He clocked just 4.49 at the NFL Scouting Combine. He’s quick and agile, but isn’t necessarily going to beat guys to the edge.

With the way Dallas’ offensive linemen can move and work out in space, a back with blazing speed could do some real damage. All he needs is a lane and he could make house calls.

Right now, wide receiver Ryan Switzer is the only player Dallas has who can assume some of those Dunbar-like roles. He could be effective on screens and reverses. But a guy with those same skills at RB can be even more dangerous. He can leave defenses guessing even more because they’re not sure which position he’s playing until after the huddle breaks.

That third roster spot is wide open, so the Cowboys should spend the offseason looking for a weapon that provides a different skill set and more for opponents to worry about.

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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Face Tough Decision with DL Tyrone Crawford

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Blog - Dallas Cowboys Sign Tyrone Crawford To Long-Term Contract 1
AP Photo/Brandon Wade

As the Dallas Cowboys look to get back into the playoffs next season, they have some work to do on their current roster. Talent needs to be added and retained, and that takes money. Veteran Tyrone Crawford’s contract puts the Cowboys in a tough spot.

Crawford isn’t the Cowboys’ best defender, but he did have the highest cap hit in 2017, even more than linebacker Sean Lee. Crawford will count $9.1 million against Dallas’ salary cap next season, which is currently second behind Lee’s projected $11-million hit. That fact alone would make you think Tyrone Crawford is likely to be released this offseason.

It would seem even more likely when you consider how guys like DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving have eclipsed him as impact players on the defensive line.

However, Crawford’s contract isn’t so easily discarded.

Tyrone Crawford

Dallas Cowboys DL Tyrone Crawford

Because of past restructuring, Dallas won’t get much cap relief by cutting Tyrone outright. He still has $7.3 million in dead money on the deal, which means cap savings of only $1.8 million.

That’s a small return for losing a solid, dependable player and great locker room guy.

Crawford can play inside or outside in the 4-3, and he’s been a veteran leader on an otherwise young roster.

If Dallas were to make Tyrone Crawford a June-1st release, they would get $6 million in cap space for 2018 and push another $4.2-million in dead money to 2019. That sounds nice on the surface, but keep in mind Dallas can’t use that $6 million during free agency in March. It only becomes available after June 1st. Still, the Cowboys could find ways to use that money.

It could fund their rookie pool, or go toward a new contract for Lawrence or Irving. It could also be used to sign other June-1st cap casualties. If nothing else, it could be rolled over to next season. But again, you lose a solid player in the exchange.

Tyrone Crawford may not be worth a $9.1-million cap hit, but you have to factor in replacement cost.

Dallas could certainly get by. Assuming Lawrence and Irving return, they also have Maliek Collins, Taco Charlton, and Charles Tapper under contract. Benson Mayowa has one year left on his deal, but is likely to be a cap casualty himself. The Cowboys also have several young prospects in Richard Ash, Lewis Neal, and anyone they might add in this year’s draft.

This would be a no-brainer if Crawford’s contract hadn’t been reworked in the past. Dallas would likely get a nice chunk of immediate change if they cut him, but they created their own problem here with the restructuring. Now they have an asset who isn’t worth his price, but doesn’t offer enough relief to be worth cutting.

It’s a tough call; one of many the Cowboys will face in the 2018 offseason.

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