December 26th means different things for different people.
Some people are headed home after visiting family. Others lay in their pajamas and watch college bowl games or movies. Of course there are those that rush to their local retail stores to exchange whatever gifts they opened under their tree the day before. The Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles are using this day to play a game of football.
Some people spend the day tearing down all of the lights, tinsel, and novelty Santa Clauses that adorn their house throughout December. I am not one of those people.
Just like there is a rule as to when you can start listening to Christmas music (the day after Thanksgiving you're in the clear) there is a rule about how long you can have your decorations up.
It's still a festive time of year and there is still one big holiday left for us all to celebrate. I choose to leave my decorations up until after New Year's.
"But RJ, it doesn't make sense! Why do you have Christmas decorations up after Christmas?!"
It makes my heart happy. It's still great to enjoy the spirit of Christmas even though the actual day itself is over.
I view the Dallas Cowboys the same way.
A week ago tonight America's Team was officially, mathematically, and heartbreakingly eliminated from playoff contention for this season. The day is done.
That doesn't mean that we still can't enjoy the spirit of the season for just a little bit longer.
We here at Inside The Star all hope that you had the Merriest of Christmases and we wish you the Happiest of New Years.
Here are this week's 5 Bold Predictions.
There Will Be Over 10 References To The Cowboys/Bills Super Bowl Days
The Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills made NFL History in the early 90s when they squared off against one another in back-to-back Super Bowls.
The Cowboys won both of those contests in convincing fashion, helping to establish them as the team of the decade. The Buffalo Bills actually lost the two Super Bowls prior to the two they played against us, both of which they lost, giving them four losses in the biggest game possible in a row.
The Cowboys and Bills only play once every four years thanks to being in separate conferences. It's always a great matchup and there is no place to watch a game like Ralph Wilson Stadium.
This is one of the better matchups in terms of NFL lore, and we're going to be reminded of that all day long.
Terrance Mitchell Will Record Another Interception
A little over a week ago the Cowboys shocked all those who follow them closely when they released cornerback Tyler Patmon. In terms of roster adjustment they called up Terrance Mitchell in his place.
Mitchell made them look like geniuses a week ago when he intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick. This was the first interception recorded by a Dallas Cowboys cornerback since December 4th, 2014. Wowza.
The secondary has been a point of weakness for the Cowboys for quite some time, so it was really nice to see the team get something positive out of it.
I've called for rookie standout Byron Jones to get an interception in these Bold Predictions before, but after lots of food over the Christmas Holiday my gut is feeling Terrance Mitchell.
Always go with your gut.
Darren McFadden Will Have Over 100 Yards On The Ground
Alright class, who can tell me who has the most 100-yard rushing games this season in the NFL?
You! In the back!
That is correct! Now can anyone tell me who is tied with Todd Gurley for second on this list with just one less than Peterson?
The answer is Run DMC aka Darren McFadden aka He Continues To Surprise.
Darren McFadden has, amazingly, been the most stable part of the Dallas Cowboys offense this season. He's pulled off some big runs and five 100-yard games... all despite the defense knowing that he's getting the ball.
DMC getting 100 yards is money in the bank at this point. I'm just writing the check, he's going to cash it.
Brice Butler Will Have A 30+ Yard Touchdown
When Dez Bryant went down with a foot injury after the Week 1 victory over the New York Giants, the Cowboys traded for a receiver to give them some depth at the position in Dez's absence.
Brice Butler of the Oakland Raiders was that man and he's looked pretty good in the few opportunities that he's been given. Many members of Cowboys Nation actually believe that he could/should overtake Terrance Williams for the #2 role on the Cowboys giving them an attack of Dez, Brice, and Beasley.
Dez Bryant will not be playing in this game, so Brice is going to have a larger volume of work against the Bills. This is a great opportunity for him to showcase his talent and his lethal speed.
That speed is going to have him flying during this game and Kellen Moore is going to look his way for a score over 30 yards. Book it.
Kellen Moore Will Have A Rushing Touchdown
There has been quite a carousel of quarterbacks for the Dallas Cowboys this season.
At different times we have seen Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore. Yes, those are real people.
Moore is just the latest person to take snaps from Travis Frederick as he took over mid-game for Matt Cassel last week against the Jets. Kellen will be the one getting the start in Buffalo.
I liked what I saw from Kellen. He has an electricity about him that seems to get the team energized when he's at the helm.
I can see it now...
Kellen snaps the ball. He rolls right. He doesn't like what he sees. He comes back left. He's motioning for someone to cut back in. It's not there. The Bills defensive linemen are coming. Kellen takes off. Kellen scores. Everyone is jubilant!
Cowboys Chill While Pats & Rams Set to Thrill
If you were to check out the line on the Super Bowl matchup between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams, you might wander over to Sportsbook Review, where you could read a 5Dimes review and see what all the best online sportsbooks, first and foremost among them 5Dimes, are dealing on this intriguing matchup. Tom Brady and the Patriots, much to everyone’s chagrin outside the six New England states, are back in it – again – and are currently slight favorites over the emerging LA Rams.
In New England’s 37-31 victory over the Chiefs, the Patriots did what they always seem to do, which is rally late and win in dramatic fashion. It’s become almost a ho-hum experience in New England while the rest of the country bites on a bullet, cursing the embarrassment of riches and success that has been the standard of this Patriots’ franchise for two decades. But this was supposed to be the season that the dynasty would end after viewing Tom Brady’s often mediocre performances and his All-World tight end, Rob Gronkowski, hobbling up and down the field without the same reckless abandon as we’ve seen in year’s past. And then their only truly talented speed merchant capable of stretching the field, Josh Gordon, left the team under a cloud of suspicion.
Unfortunately for the rest of the nation, the Patriots' once porous defense coalesced into a rather stout unit and apparently, the two weeks between the end of the regular season and the start of the Patriots’ postseason was enough time for Brady to heal from his rumored sprained MCL that he had been dealing with in silence all season long.
Gronkowski must have also visited the same shaman as Brady because he looked as dominating as ever in ripping the Chiefs on every critical third-down throughout the final quarter. Finally, the conduit to much of Brady’s success, Julian Edelman, is now being mentioned as a Hall-of-Fame candidate when his run is done.
It’s all a bit much for everyone else, but not for Patriots Nation.
The LA Rams will be the Patriots’ latest foe on the league’s grandest stage as they have a burgeoning superstar in Jared Goff. Los Angeles tore through the regular season off of the golden arm of Goff and his Juggernauts, winning 13 of 16 and earning a first-round bye. Their first foray into the 2018 postseason was a 30-22 win over the determined but overwhelmed Dallas Cowboys. The Rams then traveled to the lair of Drew Brees and the Saints down on the bayou and came away with a 26-23 overtime victory.
However, had it not been for an inexcusable non-call, it is far more likely LA would be watching, rather than participating in this year’s Super Bowl. If you didn’t see it or hadn’t heard about it, then the question begs; why are you reading this article?
Of course, you know that LA’s cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman steamrolled New Orleans’ wideout Tommylee Lewis as Brees’ pass was descending toward Lewis inside the five-yard line. It was a penalty without a flag and that one blown call forced the Saints to settle for a field goal that pushed them ahead 23-20. Yet, there was still enough time on the clock to give Goff and his prolific Rams’ offense one last gasp at either tying the game or putting a dagger through the hearts of Saints’ fans everywhere with a touchdown in the waning moments.
It was the former and not the latter that occurred, but an errant pass by Brees in overtime sealed the deal as the Rams picked it off and ultimately ended the contest off the thunderous foot of Greg Zuerlein.
If you want to check out the line movements over the next two weeks for Super Bowl LIII then get on over to Sportsbook Review, read the 5Dimes review, and see exactly where the money is moving the spread as well as the total in the game. Buckle up Cowboys’ fans, it’s gonna get even more interesting as February 3rd draws near.
Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de los Coaches
Lamentablemente, la temporada 2018 de los Dallas Cowboys ha llegado a su fin. Lo hizo cuando el equipo visitó Los Angeles para intentar sorprender a los Rams en su propio campo en la Ronda Divisional de los playoffs. Ni siquiera con una invasión exitosa de la afición de Dallas pudieron ganarse un pase al Campeonato de Conferencia. En vez de eso, los Cowboys estarán viendo desde casa y la afición estará preguntándose: ¿qué sigue para los Dallas Cowboys?
Parece ya una tradición anual que no podemos dejar pasar. Este momento en el que comenzamos a cuestionar, una vez más, que entrenador es digno de quedarse en la franquicia y cual debe irse. En esta edición de "Cowboys en Español," hablaremos específicamente de los tres principales coaches en el equipo.
Coordinador Defensivo Rod Marinelli
El futuro del coordinador defensivo de los Dallas Cowboys no se puede tratar sin mencionar a Kris Richard. Fue la defensiva la que llevó al equipo hasta la postemporada y fue la unidad que cargó al equipo en muchas de sus victorias. Incluso con la llegada de Amari Cooper a Dallas, la defensiva fue siempre el pilar de la franquicia esta temporada.
Jaylon Smith y Leighton Vander Esch sorprendentemente se perfilaron como uno de los mejores duos de linebackers en toda la liga, la línea defensiva fue muy exitosa con Randy Gregory y DeMarcus Lawrence en los extremos y con la grata sorpresa que fue Antwaun Woods en el centro. La secundaria vio la mejor temporada en la controversial carrera de Byron Jones e hizo un excelente trabajo con un talento decente, pero no genial.
Todo esto, y el haber terminado como la sexta mejor defensiva en puntos permitidos (20.2) y la quinta mejor contra la corrida (94.6), hace a Rod Marinelli merecedor de una ronda de aplausos. Sin embargo, Richard probablemente merezca más aplausos.
Fue Richard quien revolucionó la defensiva de los Cowboys y la convirtió en un grupo mucho más agresivo. Fue él quien implementó jugadas de "blitz" en el equipo (algo no común con Marinelli) y quien en un punto de la temporada, comenzó a seleccionar las jugadas desde la banda.
En esta posición, me parece que los Dallas Cowboys tienen que enfrentar la dura decisión de decirle a Marinelli que es tiempo de dejarle el puesto a Kris Richard. Si bien no se llevó un trabajo de head coach, es muy probable que le llovieran ofertas a Richard si no se hace con el título de coordinador defensivo en Dallas.
Coordinador Ofensivo Scott Linehan
Con un equipo tan polémico como este, la afición de Dallas no concuerda en muchas cosas. Sin embargo, lo hacen al hablar del pésimo trabajo que Scott Linehan ha realizado mandando las jugadas en ofensiva. Realmente ha sido doloroso de ver y es en mi opinión, el mayor problema que tiene el equipo actualmente.
Semana tras semana, fuimos testigos de pésimas decisiones en la ofensiva de los Cowboys. Vimos como el equipo se aferraba a llenar la caja de defensivos antes de correr el balón con Ezekiel Elliott. Vimos incontables pases pantalla en tercera oportunidad y largo. Pero no solo es lo que vimos, sino lo que no vimos.
A pesar de la innegable habilidad para correr el balón de Dak Prescott, Linehan se rehusó a explotar esta versatilidad de su QB. Vimos pocos "QB sneaks," jugada donde el mariscal toma el balón bajo centro y consigue poco yardage detrás del empuje de su línea ofensiva.
Siendo honestos, los Cowboys llevan dos años sufriendo por este coordinador. Dejarlo volver en el 2019 sería una decisión ridícula. Los comentarios en la radio de Jason Garrett no lucen prometedores, pero realmente sería una sorpresa que fueran ciertos. Linehan no debe volver... punto.
Head Coach Jason Garrett
El futuro en esta posición será muy debatido durante los próximos meses, pero de los tres que hemos mencionado es sin lugar a dudas el más seguro de todos. Nos guste o no, Jason Garrett estará al frente del equipo la próxima temporada.
Garrett está lejos de ser un gran coach y aún le hace falta demostrar que puede cumplir las aspiraciones de los Cowboys de traer un sexto Trofeo Lombardi a casa. Pero siendo honesto, este equipo debería tener suficiente con Garrett y un par de buenos coordinadores. ¿El problema? No hay un par de buenos coordinadores en el equipo.
Sin embargo, Garrett ha demostrado que cuenta con el amor y apoyo de sus jugadores. Ha demostrado que efectivamente, puede ganar la división (lo ha hecho en tres de los últimos cinco años). Este año el equipo le dio la vuelta a la temporada después de comenzar 3-5.
Lo más preocupante en mi opinión, es la falta de urgencia para despedir a Linehan, por ejemplo. Quizá a puerta cerrada Garrett quiere un cambio en su staff, pero nunca lo sabremos.
Jason Garrett no es un coach excelente, pero podría ser suficiente para llevar a los Cowboys a un Super Bowl si tiene un equipo adecuado. Todo parece indicar que su trabajo está seguro (incluso más de lo que pensamos) así que es tiempo de esperar que se arreglen sus coordinadores.
2018 Draft Class Season Review: LB Leighton Vander Esch
As the first round draft pick of America's Team, any player would be under a ton of pressure from all angles. Whether it's from the fans on the outside or the organization on the inside, the expectations around being a first round pick for the Cowboys are immense. But the pressure placed upon linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, from the second he was announced as the 19th overall draft pick, was second to none.
It felt like Cowboys Nation let out a collective groan when Vander Esch was taken, with fans hoping for a more glamorous first round selection. Someone like wide receiver Calvin Ridley or edge rusher Harold Landry would've done the trick, but after Vander Esch's rookie season it's hard to imagine either of those players would have had the impact Vander Esch did in 2018.
Though he didn't start a game until week 4, and didn't become the unquestioned full-time starting WILL until week 10, Vander Esch earned Pro Bowl honors for his rookie season. Tallying 140 total tackles and 2 interceptions, Vander Esch made his presence felt week in and week out.
No counting stats can fully measure Leighton Vander Esch's impact as a rookie, however.
Prior to the 2018 season, the Cowboys defensive success often came down to the health of Sean Lee. When available and playing at his best, Lee led an overachieving Cowboys defense to solid performances each week. But, when Lee went out (as he often did), the entire Cowboys defense seemed to fall apart.
This year, though, that all changed. When Sean Lee was out with injury the Cowboys defense got better. Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith became a versatile, hard hitting tandem the NFL immediately feared, and helped to direct the Cowboys defense to signature wins throughout the 2018 season.
There are arguments against taking any off-ball linebacker in the first round, as the value of the position has been questioned due to the new style of offense in the NFL. Nowadays linebackers are relegated to two-down players, taken off the field in favor of faster defensive backs on critical passing downs.
Leighton Vander Esch is athletic enough to be both an old school run stopper, but also a three down linebacker in today's fast paced NFL.
Despite the doubts which surrounded the pick, the Cowboys absolutely nailed their first round selection in 2018. And Leighton Vander Esch made Dallas' front office look like geniuses each and every Sunday.
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