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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.
Could a Former Division Rival be Cowboys’ LG Solution?
When it comes to prioritizing the Dallas Cowboys offseason needs, offensive guard is definitely near the top of the list. Opinions will certainly vary, but for me, solidifying the offensive line with a new starting left guard is the top priority for the Cowboys.
I know many of you will disagree and believe the Dallas Cowboys need to continue to upgrade their defense. But, this teams success or failure will be determined by how their offensive line performs. That's just the way the Cowboys are built, which is why they have invested so heavily putting this unit together.
Four out of five of the Dallas Cowboys starting offensive line is set in stone, but there is currently no one on the roster to step into the vacant left guard position unless you want to see the coaching staff give Chaz Green another try.
No, I didn't think so.
With the start of the 2018 free agency just a few weeks away, the Dallas Cowboys have certainly narrowed down some of the potential free agents they would be interested in bringing aboard if the price is right. Remember, they have turned into "bargain shoppers".
There are a few intriguing free agent options who I believe could step in to upgrade the LG position for the Cowboys next season, and not break the bank. One such option is a former division rival of the New York Giants, Justin Pugh.
The former 19th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft has spent five years in New York while playing out his rookie contract, but that time has come to an end. The Giants aren't likely to re-sign him, which means he will get his first taste of free agency.
Justin Pugh could step in and be an immediate upgrade over what the Dallas Cowboys employed at the left guard position in 2017. He has exceptional mobility. He reaches the second level with ease and plays with good body control and footwork. He is a perfect fit in a zone blocking scheme like the Cowboys employ.
Pugh is also versatile. He has played both right tackle and offensive guard for the Giants. He of course would be asked to play between Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith at LG with the Cowboys, but versatility to play another position is never a bad thing.
Unfortunately, Pugh doesn't come without baggage. He has missed a total of 13 games over the last two seasons with the Giants, including eight last season due to a back injury. This is definitely a huge red flag, especially for the Cowboys after dealing with the same issue with Tyron Smith.
But, this is why Justin Pugh will likely be in the Cowboys price range. Sportrac currently estimates his contract at 4 years at $23,983,847, which equates to $5,995,968 annually. I personally think that's a little low for someone of Pugh's caliber and versatility, but it certainly understandable when you take into account his recent injury history.
I personally think this is a longshot to happen because the Cowboys would prefer to go younger and cheaper, but it wouldn't surprise me.
Do you think Justin Pugh makes sense for the Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys Wishlist: 2018 Free Agency Edition
Sadly, we can't wake up on Sundays to NFL football. The Dallas Cowboys are not on TV every week for us to watch them play. To make matters worse, we'll have to wait until September to get real football from our favorite team.
But that doesn't mean there's nothing to talk about until then! For the die-hard Cowboys fan, the offseason should be quite entertaining. Free agency will begin in March, and it should be an intense one for Dallas.
They need to handle a tight salary cap while trying to add a bit of help for this football team. Recently, Inside The Star Contributor John Williams wrote an in-depth piece about the Cowboys' cap situation and how they can manage to get things done, despite having little cap space right now.
Last season, I wrote a weekly Cowboys Wishlist about things I wanted to see for each game. Now there are no games, but I decided to write a special edition for this upcoming free agency.
Wish #1: Keep The Rushmen
The front office will have one hell of a challenge trying to retain all of its free agents. The two most important ones may be their two defensive linemen. If they can keep them, DL won't be a top need heading to the Draft.
Lawrence is one of the biggest names in free agency this 2018, but the Cowboys should find a way to keep him from ever being available.
If they're able to franchise tag him, that'd be the way to go since he's only had one elite season in his four-year career and they may not want to sign him to a huge long-term deal and risk not seeing the same guy next season.
David Irving is a more polarizing player, with off-the-field issues. However, he's been a very disruptive guy and he has the chance to be a unique player. His talent is really out of this world. Keeping him and Irving would give this franchise a top defensive line for the first time in many years.
Wish #2: Pay Anthony Hitchens
When healthy, Sean Lee is one of the NFL's top linebackers. He is simply an outstanding player who's always around the ball and seems to know where the ball is going before the opposing coach even calls the play.
The problem is, he has a lot of trouble remaining available. Anthony Hitchens is a guy who's found the way to step up every time the General is out, and he's shown a great progression as a player year after year.
Lee will be 32 by the time the season starts, giving Dallas something to think about. Hitchens is a guy capable of starting and competing in the NFL. If the front office finds a way to keep him, they'll be getting closer to being less "Sean Lee-dependent."
Wish #3: Get Seattle Seahawks' Earl Thomas
When we talk about a potential big name addition to the Dallas Cowboys, we're usually a bit pessimistic. This team isn't one that makes splashes like this, but Earl Thomas to Dallas makes a ton of sense. Former Seahawks' defensive coordinator is now the Cowboys' defensive backs' coach.
With Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis (and maybe Byron Jones moving to CB), this team will have a promising secondary. Add Earl Thomas, and it will go from "promising" to "great" in a heartbeat.
The Cowboys could not only have a top DL, but a top secondary if they're able to get this veteran.
Let's hope the Cowboys listen to Thomas and they go get him.
Wish #4: Get Dez Bryant to Take a Pay Cut
When I started writing this, I wanted to add a "get this wide receiver in FA"... but I won't. A few weeks ago, I wrote a case in favor and one against Dez Bryant remaining a Cowboy in 2018. Personally, I would be fine with him parting ways with the team.
However, I'm aware of how hard it can be finding a replacement for a guy like #88. The biggest issue with Dez is definitely his cap hit. He hasn't justified the money he's being paid on the field as he should be.
If they can get him to take a pay cut, it may end up being the ideal scenario for the Dallas Cowboys.
It'll be a very interesting offseason, and here at Inside The Star we'll continue to provide you with content about it all.
Switzer and Beasley: A Dilemma for Cowboys’ 2018 Offseason
When the Dallas Cowboys drafted Ryan Switzer in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, Cowboys Nation rejoiced. By some, including myself, the product out of North Carolina was considered a steal by America's Team. Taking a guy who could contribute from day one for special teams and for the offense was something to be happy about.
At the time, WR didn't look like much of a need. Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley were staying in Dallas and Terrance Williams had just been re-signed (little did we know he'd fail to score a single touchdown in 2017) pushing the receiver position down the team needs list.
But the front office had landed a very productive slot receiver from North Carolina. On top of that, they found a guy to replace Lucky Whitehead as a return specialist. However, offseason hype took over a large amount of Cowboys' fans, writers and analysts and the expectations for Switzer were very big.
Naturally, he was compared to Cole Beasley since people started talking about him as an NFL prospect. His height, skills and playing style were similar and with the Cowboy veteran coming off from a big year in 2016, people were excited for what Switzer could do as a professional football player.
But it wasn't just about the rookie returning punts and kickoffs, it was about him contributing to an offense that already had a great slot receiver. Cowboys Nation was excited to see Switzer and Beasley on the field at the same time.
That never happened.
Switzer barely saw playing time in 2017 and when he was on the field as a WR, he was limited to running or faking jet sweeps. The coaching staff misused him and we didn't get to see him get a lot of snaps until the final week of the season, when #11 was injured.
And it was that same week when we saw what he was capable of. Switz showed how talented he is and how he can beat NFL defensive backs when he was asked to do so.
With a busy offseason and a tight salary cap, the Dallas Cowboys' front office will be considering a lot of possibilities. One of them will be the future of Cole Beasley. Releasing him would free up more than $3M in cap space.
I know a large amount of Cowboys' fans prefer to see Dez Bryant gone over him, but we can't deny that there's already a clear replacement for Beasley in Switzer.
The Cowboys wanted Switzer to be a returner and a receiver for them, but if they're going to use him just as a gadget player on offense... was the fourth-round pick worth it? If you're not going to use one of them, why have two players who are very similar on your roster?
Cowboys Nation loves Cole Beasley, as they should. I for one wouldn't want to see #11 on another team. Even still, it's only fair to admit that it would make sense for Dallas if they were to say goodbye to one of their most beloved players.
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