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I want you to focus on two numbers for a second... 0-8.
2008 was the year that I graduated from high school, and before my freshman year at Texas A&M University my Dad and I took a trip to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. You know... "OH" kind of looks like "08", don't you think? If you just closed the top/bottom of the H it would totally work!
Another city in the state of "08IO" is Cleveland (sorry Indians fans). "The Land", as LeBron James has dubbed it recently, is home to much more than just the self-proclaimed King. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, and so are the most lovable losers known to the National Football League - The Browns.
We decided to devote part of our trip to these Cleveland Browns and their Training Camp, we wanted to see how the franchise that gave us the Cardiac Kids prepared for a season. Browns Training Camp literally happens in a tiny neighborhood in Berea, OH... and I seriously mean neighborhood. It's right out of a Disney movie.
We're walking about Training Camp, right? Kellen Winslow (K2) was there, and things were pretty interesting. In the middle of experience were two fans who stood out above the rest. They were an older couple... and I mean they really stood out.
The man wore a Joe Thomas Pro Bowl jersey, Browns shorts, and had a fairly bright goatee. The woman had a standard Thomas Browns jersey, a matching skirt, oh and she had a bright orange mohawk. They were very friendly and obviously loved football. Papa Ocho and I struck up a conversation with the duo, exchanged pleasantries, and I snagged a photo with them.
Who is this lovely couple? Only Joe Thomas' Aunt Mary and Uncle Tom. Yes, that Joe Thomas. The 9-Time Pro Bowler, 6-Time First-Team All-Pro, stud Left Tackle for the Cleveland Browns Joe Thomas! That dude!
Look how bold these two young kids are... and they're Browns fans! If they can be bold, anyone can be bold. That's this week's lesson as the Cowboys take on the 0-8 Cleveland Browns. Welcome to my 5 Bold Predictions. Let’s roll.
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The Cowboys Win By The Exact Same Score From The Last Time They Were In Cleveland
Sunday, September 7th, 2008 was 2,982 days before this game. What's the significance of that day? It was the last time the Dallas Cowboys visited the Cleveland Browns (no big deal but right after I met Joe Thomas' Aunt and Uncle).
For what it's worth 2 + 9 + 8 + 2 = 21 so Ezekiel Elliott is obviously going to go off, but he'll be doing his damage in the Cowboys "cursed" navy jerseys. That's right, America's Team will be donning their away uniforms when they visit the Factory of Sadness... just like they did almost three thousand days ago.
That day the Cowboys won 28-10. It's happening again. Shabooya.
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"3-1" Plays A Role In The Form Of A Big Play From Byron Jones
Did you know that the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers? Did you also know that the Cleveland Indians blew a 3-1 lead in the World Series to the Chicago Cubs? Good.
3-1 has been everywhere in sports throughout 2016. The Cowboys are bringing one of the best 31's there is to the city well-versed in the number's magic - Byron Jones.
"The Senator" is one of the better Cowboy defenders, and shockingly has never recorded an interception in his young career. I'm not saying that Byron hauls in an interception here, but he's going to have an impactful play. 3-1 is freaky like that, just like Byron's athleticism.
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Orlando Scandrick Records Two Sacks
In the interest of keeping things chronological, I have jumped from #31 to #32 - Orlando Scandrick.
The Cowboys may be 6-1 in 2016, but Orlando Scandrick has only been present for three games. The Philadelphia win marked his first return since Week 2.
Two is a funny number for Mr. Thirty-Two. That's the week he last played before leaving for injury, and it's the number of sacks he currently has on the season... thanks to an epic one he had near the end of last week's overtime thrilling victory against the Eagles.
Orlando wrapped up the opposing quarterback once last week, but he's going to double (another two) that digit. Whatever you're going to bet, double it.
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Dan Bailey Attempts Extra Points From Opposite Hash Marks
The greatest kicking mind that roams the internet is none other than Inside The Pylon's Chuck Zodda. I spoke with Chuck on their Quick Kicks Podcast - concerning the current state of the Cowboys - and of course the subject of kickers came up.
Chuck is more than a fantastic football follow, he's an astute observer. There isn't a football that's kicked, a lace that's not out, or a squib that isn't seen by him.
In fact, Chuck Zodda was the first person to notice something absolutely incredible about Dan Bailey.
Dan Bailey is literally toying with kicking now - moving his location on XP from kick to kick to get some practice in despite no misses
How absurd is it that Dan Bailey is so clutch at extra points that he uses them as opportunities to get better for field goals? Also, how sick is it that Dan knows he has a lot of extra point attempts to use as practice?
I want to imagine that Dan is doing this out of smug arrogance as opposed to precision and detail, but that just wouldn't make sense. Love you, Danny boy.
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Ezekiel Elliott Triples His Last Performance In The State Of Ohio
The last time young Zeke toted the rock in the 'ol O-H-I-O was November 21st, 2015 when The Ohio State Buckeyes hosted the Michigan State Spartans. It wasn't exactly Zeke's finest day as he only rushed 12 times for 33 yards and a single touchdown.
How many games did the Cubs win in a row to dethrone the Indians? Three. Zeke is going to multiply that performance by three on Sunday. 36 carries, 99 yards, and a hat trick of touchdowns await the Offensive Rookie of the Month.
Eat. Eat. Eat.
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Bonus Bold Predictions
Remember, if you want YOUR Bold Prediction featured here, tweet it at me! It’s that simple! Here are this week’s contributions, thanks to all those who shared!
@rjochoa zeke with 200 yards dez with 2 tds and Anthony brown with a pick 6 for my bold predictions.
@rjochoa Bold Prediction right here. JJ WILCOX will have 3 sacks with a Pick Six. #BOLDPrediction #RJsfavplayer
@rjochoa Bold Prediction: @EzekielElliott runs for close to, if not over, 200 yards in his return to Ohio!
@rjochoa @AlexGelhar Zeke will get over 160 yds this week in his homecoming to Ohio. Book it
The latest Tweets and replies from Jones (@aj_bryant5188).
@rjochoa #bold prediction Zeke gets his first 200+ yd game & scores 3 TDs. Dez gets 2 TDs & we get our first 40+ point game ☺
Well, well, well. We have quite the list of contributions this week, don't we?!
The love seems to heavily favor Ezekiel Elliott so I think it's fair to say the class is of the belief that Zeke is going to fare well in his return to The Buckeye State. Also our pal Gene thinks JJ Wilcox is going to have himself a game, my oh my that would be tasty.
Basically Zeke is going to go bananas and JJ Wilcox is going to eat them. They eat, you eat, I eat, we all eat. Huzzah.
How The Tables Have Turned for 2019 Dallas Cowboys
The 2018 season was a two-part tale for the Dallas Cowboys. The first is the story of a mediocre 3-5 team that couldn't get it going offensively. The second part is about a football team that turned its season around, made the playoffs, got a win in the postseason and ultimately lost to the team that ended up representing the NFC in Super Bowl LIII, the Los Angeles Rams.
Surely, 2018 didn't go as planned. The storylines leading to last season are actually very different from the ones we're hearing today. Let's take a look at a few examples of how the tables have turned for the Dallas Cowboys.
The need for a true WR1
Last season, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys preached the philosophy of not needing a #1 wide receiver. While that could've sound encouraging at the time, once the season began the team was proven wrong. They did need a WR1. Fortunately, this season we won't have to worry about it. This year, Dez Bryant shouldn't be a discussion topic among Cowboys' fans.
Amari Cooper is in the house. And he's been pretty good since he started playing with a Star on his helmet. If we have conversations about the WR position, they will not be about who's the #1 guy. With Michael Gallup showing up late in the season, it probably won't be about who is #2 either.
Back on top of the NFC East
Last year, the Dallas Cowboys were not really the favorites to win the NFC East. The Philadelphia Eagles had just made history by winning their first Super Bowl ever and it seemed like the Cowboys would have to get a wildcard spot to play in January. Now it's the Cowboys back on top after sweeping the Eagles and turning their once 3-5 season around.
That of course, means a tougher schedule next season. However, it's nice to be back on top of the division. These two teams will surely have an intense race for the division title next season. Maybe we even see them both in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Sean Lee's uncertain future
I'm pretty sure no one expected Sean Lee to be considered a potential cap casualty for the 2019 season. Even if he was, it would've probably been anticipating an injury or something like that. No one would've imagined that Leighton Vander Esch would be so good to take Sean Lee's job.
The Cowboys' first round rookie truly earned the starting role as the defense's weak linebacker and he should keep it. With Sean Lee set to return to the field, I'm sure we didn't expect him to be a backup by now. We'll have to wait and see if the Cowboys decide to part ways with him. As a fan, it would certainly be painful. But we can't deny it would be a move that makes sense.
It's a crazy franchise on a crazy league. Who knows how things will go from now on, but the Dallas Cowboys certainly look like a promising team heading into the 2019 offseason. Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue to update you with the latest on your favorite NFL team.
Cowboys en Español: Volviendo a la Idea de Earl Thomas
El año pasado, Earl Thomas fue uno de los temas de conversación más frecuentes para los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys. Después de que los Seattle Seahawks no le dieran su deseada extensión de contrato, Thomas se convirtió en un candidato a ser intercambiado de su equipo. Entre los favoritos estaban los Cowboys, quienes tenían una necesidad en su defensiva secundaria. Ahora que la temporada 2018 llegó a su fin, la misma necesidad por un safety de calidad está presente en Dallas.
Sólo que en esta ocasión, Earl Thomas no está bajo contrato con ningún equipo. Su último momento con el uniforme de los Seahawks fue en un carro de lesiones, donde salía lesionado en dirección a su vestidor. Esto mientras se despedía de su equipo con el dedo de en medio extendido hacia sus entrenadores y compañeros. Así concluyó su temporada y su carrera en Seattle.
Ahora, listo para cumplir los 30 años en mayo, Earl Thomas probará la agencia libre cuando comience en marzo. Y sin lugar a dudas, uno de los equipos candidatos a firmarlo serán los Dallas Cowboys. Es un equipo que a pesar de tener una de las mejores defensivas la temporada pasada, se vería muy beneficiada con la llegada de un profundo del calibre de Thomas.
A pesar de su edad y las lesiones, Thomas continúa siendo uno de los mejores en la liga. Su talento es innegable y tendrá toda la disposición de demostrar lo que vale cuando tome el campo la próxima temporada. Cuando llegue el momento, podríamos ver una guerra de ofertas entre varios equipos de la NFL para llevarse al veterano a sus respectivas ciudades.
La pregunta es: ¿estarán los Dallas Cowboys en esa guerra de ofertas?
Los Cowboys tienen espacio en el tope salarial. Sin embargo, este no durará mucho considerando que DeMarcus Lawrence está esperando su merecida y cara extensión después de jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia en 2018. Además, jugadores que aún están bajo contrato también estarán buscando ofertas este offseason.
Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, y Byron Jones están en la lista de quehaceres de la administración. Eso sin mencionar a Cole Beasley, cuyo contrato ya expiró y podría llegar a la agencia libre en marzo.
A pesar de esta complicada situación, los Dallas Cowboys deberían buscar conseguir a Thomas. Siendo sinceros, la defensiva tiene mucho talento y podría mantener su nivel en 2019. Pero hace falta un jugador en la posición de safety para llevar a esta unidad a otro nivel. Un nivel realmente capaz de ganar en postemporada enfrentándose a cualquier tipo de ofensiva. Sin importar que tan explosiva sea. Y además de esto, un jugador que sea capaz de robar el balón y hacer jugadas de impacto constantemente.
Cuando los Cowboys se enfrentaron a Seahawks en temporada regular, Thomas dio un buen ejemplo de esto interceptando en dos ocasiones a la ofensiva de Dak Prescott.
A pasos de un equipo de campeonato, un movimiento agresivo para obtener a Earl Thomas sería algo genial para Dallas. Vimos como los Rams de Los Angeles fueron agresivos al construir su equipo y llegaron hasta el Super Bowl este febrero. Quizá es tiempo de que Jerry Jones y compañía sean igual de agresivos y vayan por ese safety elite que la afición lleva pidiendo desde el offseason del año pasado.
Slot Machine: Amari Cooper in the Slot Could be Even More Dangerous
Amari Cooper was a dangerous man with the Dallas Cowboys after he arrived via trade from the Oakland Raiders last season. He was one of the big reasons why they were able to turn around a season that looked as if it was circling the drain and I don't think anybody would argue the point. But, I think he could be even more dangerous in 2019, especially if Cole Beasley departs via free agency.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you pretty much know the topic of the Cowboys offseason so far has centered around Cole Beasley and his future with the organization. He has been invaluable in Dallas since arriving as an undrafted free agent in 2012, but it's looking more and more as if he could be taking his talents elsewhere in 2019.
With Beasley more than likely moving on, the Cowboys will need to find someone who can replace his production in the passing game, especially in the slot. Everybody assumes Dallas needs to go outside the organization to find that player, but I'm not so sure. I think they already have a wide receiver more than capable of stepping in, and he just so happens to be there first-round draft pick this year.
In case you haven't figured it out already, I'm talking about Wide Receiver Amari Cooper. He has mostly been used as an outside receiver in his professional career, but he does have the skill set and route running ability to be a really dangerous out of the slot. I'm not talking about a full-time move into the slot or anything, just a marginal increase in snaps.
According to Rotounderworld.com, only 12.6% of Amari Cooper's snaps in 2018 were out of the slot. For comparison sake, Cole Beasley's snaps in the slot was 85.9%, the highest of any receiver in the NFL last season. That's a huge difference, not one the Cowboys should try to match with Cooper or any other potential slot WR replacement.
Personally, I'd like to see Cooper's snaps playing out of the slot increased to around 20%. That would put him in Odell Beckham Jr. territory (19.9%), and we all know how difficult he is to cover all over the field. It would likely do the same for Amari Cooper.
I just really like the idea of him having the entire field to work with and the favorable matchup it creates with slot/nickel cornerbacks around the league. Can you imagine opposing defensive coordinators trying to figure out how to contain a player that has the kind of speed and route running ability that Amari Cooper has? They better stock up on Tylenol, because that is a surefire way to get a headache.
This is course is just speculation at this point, especially since we don't know what the Cowboys offense will look like with Kellen Moore taking over the playcalling duties. But if it was me, I'd be doing everything in my power to get the ball in the hands of my best WR, Amari Cooper, and that might mean increasing his snaps out of the slot.
What do you think about using Amari Cooper out of the slot more often in 2019?
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