See, there it is. That’s just the kind of statement that I’m tired of seeing when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys. “The Cowboys must win on Saturday to make last week’s win meaningful …” As if to say that blowing out the Eagles last week wasn’t an accomplishment, a great game, a big win, or a stellar defensive effort if the Cowboys can’t win this coming week?
Last I checked, we didn’t take any gambles against Philly in week 17. It’s not like we’re the Colts who said, “Hey, we’re going to sit our starters for the final two games because we need them around to win the Super Bowl when we get there.” That’s the kind of situation where a later event can define the meaning of a past decision.
If the Colts don’t make it to the Super Bowl this year, then they will be looked at as chumps – honestly. Them winning the Super Bowl is going to be the difference between being thought to have made a good decision resting starters and preventing injuries, and choking any chance they had of winning, disgracing the sport by not playing to win.
The Cowboys didn’t do that. Even when we had that game in hand last week, we still sent Romo, Barber, Adams, Austin, and every other starter back onto the field until Romo took a knee to run the clock out with under 2 minutes remaining.
It’s not like with the Patriots who decided to play hard in week 17 and ended up losing their star wide receiver to an injury that would’ve meant IR for him even if it happened in the preseason. They did what they always do and went full throttle for 60 minutes on Sunday, just like any other Sunday before it.
You could argue that they made a choice to keep themselves in a rhythm and try to maintain some momentum heading into the playoffs. Well now if they don’t win the Super Bowl, they’ll be thought less of for not being more cautious with such an important player as Welker going down.
It all comes down to the gambles that a team makes this time of year – if they lose then a firestorm ensues, but if they win, they’re geniuses.
The Cowboys simply went out and played some good football. No lasting injuries, no promises or game plans for Super Bowl glory in a month – they just played some good, hard, NFC East football against a good football team.
Leading up to week 17 it was clear to everyone involved that it was a virtually meaningless game and a big game, all at the same time. Both teams had already been assured a spot in the playoffs after week 16, so there was no type of win-and-you’re-in scenario to be played out.
The Eagles did have something pretty large to play for though as they eyed the shot at a first round bye and the #2 seed in the NFC, which would come with an NFC East Division Championship if they had beaten the Cowboys.
The Cowboys started their day out with those same accolades in sight, that is until Minnesota beat the Giants in the noon game. Then it became a shot at the #3 seed and home-field advantage for the wild card round, as well as the NFC East title.
To the Eagles, who were riding a six game winning streak, that game, aside from all playoff scenarios, just didn’t mean that much more than another game against a long time foe. But for Dallas it was more than that. After having lost nine season finales in a row, going more than a decade since winning a playoff game, and adorning one of the most repugnant December swoons in league history; and after handing the Saints their first loss of the season followed by a shutout against another NFC East rival, albeit one in sad shape and merely a week away from firing their head coach, this game was a chance to go out and show everybody something we hadn’t seen since players numbered 8, 22, and 88 marched us down the field time and time again.
This was a big game for Dallas, and a huge win. It put the NFL on notice that the Cowboys were playing strong, and the shutout simply added the brief message, “Fear Us.”
But that game was that game – just a week 17 regular season finale. It wasn’t a heat race, and it wasn’t a qualifier. It was a brilliant win against a tough Eagles team.
This Saturday at 7pm will be the start of another game against a tough NFC East rival, and this time there are no silly scenarios to work out, no small consolations such as a bye week or home-field advantage to play for – this time it’s for the whole season.
Lose and you go home. Win and you move on to the next round.
And then, just as now, the game preceding will not be made any less important or well played because of this week’s performance. It simply will be another game won, or lost.
Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson
The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.
Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.
The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.
Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.
Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.
For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.
Dallas Cowboys: How “Position-Flex” Has Handcuffed The 2015 Draft Class
Over the last few years the Dallas Cowboys have placed a high level of importance on "position flex." They've drafted Swiss-Army knife players which could be moved around to different positions on the field.
By drafting players like Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods last year, as well as Byron Jones in 2015, the Cowboys have tried to find these versatile players who can be used in multiple ways.
While this seems great on paper, this strategy has handcuffed the majority of their 2015 Draft Class, and is a key reason why the Cowboys seem to be in such a tough spot.
The Cowboys' first round pick in 2015, Byron Jones, quickly became a favorite of mine during his rookie season. Incredibly athletic, long, and skilled in coverage, Jones was able to be both a fantastic cover cornerback and a solid middle-of-the-field safety due to his range.
Due to both injuries to his teammates, and Jones' own versatility, the Cowboys coaching staff couldn't keep Jones in just one spot. Once they discovered how great he was in man coverage against tight ends, they became enamored with trying to play him in the box.
Once in the box, Jones' struggles as a run defender were highlighted, and both the organization and the fans soured on him quickly.
Now it is rumored that Byron Jones will be moving back to cornerback full time. And while I do hope this is the case, the fact that he is in year four, and the Cowboys haven't been able to find their first round pick a permanent home is a huge indictment on their ability to evaluate and develop talent.
Okay, hear me out.
The former third round pick of the 2015 Draft was brought in to be the swing tackle for the Cowboys his rookie year. Mainly due to injuries, Green did not see the field for much of his first two seasons. When he did fill in for Tyron Smith at left tackle in 2016, however, Green was very effective.
Of course, Chaz Green's last appearance with the Cowboys was ugly, giving up a plethora of sacks against the Atlanta Falcons. But Dallas might've made their own bed with Green during the beginning of the 2017 season, when they attempted to move him to left guard full time.
Instead of getting the increased work at tackle, and continuing to work as the swing tackle for the team in case of injury, Dallas started Green at left guard early on in the year. He struggled trying to move positions, and looked even worse when trying to move back to tackle.
Once again, the position flex bit the Cowboys right in the backside.
It's 2018 and we are still talking about what position to play La'el Collins on the offensive line. And that is solely on the coaching staff and front office, not Collins.
Collins was brought in as an undrafted free agent in 2015, but was widely regarded as a first round pick heading into that draft. Though he started at left tackle at LSU, Dallas shifted Collins inside to left guard in 2015. After taking over for Ronald Leary as the starter, Collins produced highlight blocks week after week.
Injuries shortened his 2016 campaign, but heading into 2017 the Cowboys decided to shift him back out to right tackle. Despite some early struggles, Collins progressed nicely throughout the year and became a solid starting right tackle. Plus, he has the upside to become one of the top right tackles in the league.
Instead, it is now being rumored the Cowboys might move him back to guard for 2018. And with that news, I continue to pull my hair out over the position-flex decisions this coaching staff and front office like to make.
If the Cowboys want to get the most out of each draft class, and effectively develop their talent, they need to let those players actually develop, rather than move them around each season. Hopefully they now understand this, and allow both Byron Jones and La'el Collins to reach their full potential.
Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal
At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.
The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.
Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.
Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.
A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.
Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.
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