Listen to an audio version of this article on Bumpers!
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.
Are the Dallas Cowboys Distancing Themselves from HC Jason Garrett?
Training camp is always an exciting time for the Dallas Cowboys, with 2018's proceedings being no exception. A major difference this year is the hype carrying over to the Cowboys coaching staff, featuring newcomers at the positional level everywhere but running back, safety, and defensive tackle.
Experienced coaches like Kris Richard, Paul Alexander, and Sanjay Lal will have a big impact on the Cowboys development as a 9-7 team that's only gotten younger this offseason. Still likely in need of a playoff appearance to save the job of Head Coach Jason Garrett and his coordinators, one can't help but question Garrett's effectiveness with this year's team.
The Cowboys appearance on NFL Films' latest All or Nothing series offered Cowboys Nation a rare look inside this team's day-to-day activities, including Garrett's role as a motivator and leader to many coaches no longer with the team.
Garrett's walk through a proverbial hall of mirrors at The Star reflects much deeper though. Ultimately, it's the players that decide games on Sundays, and the Cowboys didn't have enough of their blue chip ones on the field together for 2017. Whether or not this changes in 2018, the Cowboys can do little to shake the truth that conditions must be perfect for Garrett to captain this team to success.
If having a future Hall of Fame tight end like Jason Witten around wasn't enough for Garrett, going all in on this team in their first year without not only Witten but Dez Bryant feels foolish.
This underdog status and youthful nature may very well bring the Cowboys back to their 2016 form. I've already mentioned mirrors however, and how about the smoke? Garrett's best year out of eight full seasons, that 13-3 campaign was surely not all 'smoke and mirrors', but it is now far enough in the past to expect improvement from the Cowboys head coach.
Garrett must overcome massive changes on the offense he once coordinated to see third-year Quarterback Dak Prescott put this team back in the playoff picture, or the Cowboys will only continue to change face even more dramatically for 2019.
Long gone are the innocent days of Garrett playing catch under the California sun with a rookie Prescott, who had no idea the impact he'd make on the entirety of this franchise so quickly. Now, the Cowboys may have to quickly separate this duo if looking to preserve a window of contention under Dak's rookie contract.
It truly will be fascinating to see the new points of emphasis this revamped Cowboys coaching staff brings to the team not only on the field in Oxnard but through their team meetings and into the regular season. As Garrett allows the likes of Richard and Lal to oversee important changes at CB/S and WR respectively, his overarching message of character, competition, and respect will still echo throughout the team.
Whether or not the slew of new players Garrett has to coach can inspire him to implement this message effectively, or if his days are numbered given the slack the Cowboys have already provided, is the most important story line for the Cowboys in 2018.
By most team's standards, a 9-7 season given the circumstances around the Cowboys a year ago is acceptable -- which it ultimately was for Dallas as they kept Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli.
This team's shortcomings through a disappointing season was enough for the Cowboys to begin reevaluating the coaches below this trio though, leaving only their ninth year head coach to fall victim to the level of turnover NFL teams are experiencing on the fly right now.
The Cowboys roster has received this message loud and clear. Will Garrett's carry the same impetus, and will it truly matter for the 2018 season?
Is WR Cedrick Wilson the Player With Most to Gain in Training Camp?
Within the Dallas Cowboys' uncertain wide receiver core, is sixth-round pick Cedrick Wilson. Considered a draft steal by many, Wilson's name is often lost in the mix among Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley and third round rookie Michael Gallup. Just days away from the start of the 2018 training camp, Cedrick Wilson might be the player with the most to gain on the team.
Wilson comes from the Boise State Broncos, where he set the school record for receiving yards in a season with 1,511 last year. As a sixth-round rookie, the young 22-year old receiver has an uphill battle ahead of him to earn a spot on the Cowboys' 53-man roster.
It shouldn't come as a surprise if he emerges victorious in this battle, though.
You see, the lack of a #1 receiver has been one of the main story lines for the Cowboys and for good reason. Heading into the preseason, there is no clear-cut "#1." But even though there isn't a big name such as Dez Bryant, I'm sure we'll feel way better about the wide receivers once the season starts and the offense manages to sustain a good passing attack led by Dak Prescott.
Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup seem like the two front-runners for being the "X" receivers on offense, the position in which Wilson lined up at Boise State during his last year in college football. It's tough to imagine a sixth round rookie being the starting "X" receiver in his rookie season, but that doesn't mean he can't earn an important role at some point of the year.
In 2017, the offense struggled due to the receivers failing to create separation downfield. Wilson, although a raw route-runner, was a very dangerous vertical threat in Boise State and could be just that for the Cowboys down the road.
He needs to improve as a player, but with Sanjay Lal focusing hard at route-running with his receivers, Cedrick could become an important target for Dak earlier than expected.
In order to do so, the young wide receiver will have to find success in training camp. Wide receiver will undoubtedly be one of the most intriguing position battles on the team, with many young yet unproven talent.
There's too many receivers that will be fighting for a roster spot over the following weeks, so Cowboys Nation is bound to be disappointed with so many so-called "pet cats." One or two of these guys will be released and I bet it'll hurt, just as it happens every year.
In all seriousness, though, with his ability to stretch the field and be a vertical threat plus his experience as an "X" receiver, Cedrick Wilson might not only make the roster, but become a significant piece for this new-look offense in Dallas during his rookie season.
Will DeMarcus Lawrence Be Franchise Tagged Again in 2019?
The deadline for extending players under the franchise tag has come and gone last Monday, in a day in which none of the remaining tagged players reached an agreement with their respective teams. That includes Dallas Cowboy Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, who's set to earn $17M in 2018.
The front office and the 26-year old defensive end failed to agree to a new contract before the season's start, but we saw that coming. After all, there was never a point in which we had the classic "X player and his team are close to a new deal" headline.
All of this makes the future of the Cowboys' promising "War Daddy" very uncertain. What lies a head of the player that put on an impressive show in 2018?
Since 2017 was Lawrence's breakout year, racking up 14.5 sacks trough the season, we have leaned towards the narrative of last season being his only good one. His performance last season was impressive and clearly his best one yet, but we tend to overlook 2015.
In his sophomore season, the only other year in which he has played 16 games, he finished the campaign with eight sacks and 35 tackles (55 combined). Really, the idea of 2017 being his only good year is not as accurate as we might think.
That being said, I think it's more likely that we see another great year from him this upcoming season than seeing a disappointing one. This, of course, will end up being the main thing that determines his future in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys front office really took a risk by tagging Lawrence this offseason. #90 was reportedly asking for an average of $17M per year in his long-term contract, which is Olivier Vernon kind of money.
So what if he puts a similar season or an even better one? Lawrence and his agent could end up asking for even more money. Perhaps in the 18 or 20 million dollars per year range. If that ends up being the case, the team will find itself in a tough position when trying to reach an agreement with its promising pass rusher.
Which leads us to the possibility of seeing the Cowboys franchise tagging Lawrence for the second consecutive season. Dallas will already be negotiating a contract extension with QB Dak Prescott, and things will get complicated. Even more if they decide to pursue a big-time free agent in March, such as Earl Thomas.
It would make sense, from a financial perspective, to hand the tag twice in consecutive years to D-Law. However, it shouldn't be the priority. If he plays like he did in 2017, the front office will be more than wise to extend him for good.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Cowboys will have approximately $50.6M. Seemingly, the team's cap woes will be over soon.
Fortunately, Lawrence didn't become a headache by threatening to holdout for offseason programs and even training camp. However, don't expect that to happen if he finds himself under the tag next year.
Careers in the NFL are short, so DeMarcus will surely want to get paid. If he keeps it up, he'll deserve it. As much as he deserves it, though, football is a cold business. If the Jones need to tag him, they will.
Do you think the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence in 2019?
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