The score was 23-20, Pittsburgh. In a game without Ben Roethlisberger, they seemed minutes away from pulling out the win against the division rival Baltimore Ravens. With 2:29 left in the game, they sent kicker Josh Scobee out to do what he does and make it a 6-point lead.
"He's going to miss it." was the text that I sent my cousin.
No harm no foul. The Baltimore Ravens would go four and out, and with 1:06 left Scobee would be given a chance at redemption. All would be forgiven if he could just kick this one through the crossbars.
"He's going to miss again." I typed into my iPhone.
"No way. I'll bet you my jeep." my cousin responded ever so confidently.
You are all welcome to take a ride in my new jeep, which I have affectionately named... "Scobee Dobee Doo".
Calling for an NFL kicker to miss a field goal is bold, and calling for that same kicker to miss consecutive field goals is even bolder. If you've read my bold predictions before then you know that I'm not here to punt. This is four down territory.
The Dallas Cowboys will roll into the Superdome in New Orleans tomorrow on NBC's Sunday Night Football. They're coming off of a loss, Brandon Weeden is the quarterback, you know the drill.
What you don't know is what's going to happen. That's what I'm here for. Welcome to the Week 4 version of Getting Bold With RJ Ochoa. Each week I carefully anticipate five things that could happen but are on the wild side of reasonable. Shall we get started?
1. Drew Brees Fails To Top 200 Yards
One of the most talked about topics all week long has been whether or not the quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, Drew Brees, will even play on Sunday. News broke on Friday indicating that all signs lead to Brees slinging the rock, so the Cowboys will indeed be squaring off against the former Super Bowl MVP.
Don't you worry your pretty little face, though. Mr. Brees has a sore rotator cuff that caused him to miss last week's game against the Carolina Panthers. What's a rotator cuff, you ask? Only this super important part of your shoulder that is essential for the throwing motion. It's not like a quarterback needs that, right?
Drew Brees will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday... and rightly so; however, he's going to be very limited come Sunday. Couple that with a very angry Dallas Cowboys defensive front that has spent the week hearing all about their failures against the Atlanta Falcons and you have a recipe for disaster down in the Bayou.
I expect Sean Lee to be running around like Bobby Boucher in the Bourbon Bowl during this game, wreaking all kinds of havoc on Drew. I very much believe in Morris Claiborne this year, and I think he's going to help limit Brees' productivity deep downfield. It's going to be a tough day at the office for New Orleans as Brees... my bold prediction here is that Drew will fail to surpass 200 yards - which has not happened since December 2nd, 2013.
2. Gavin Escobar Scores 2 Touchdowns
During Training Camp, we had NBC5 in DFW's Pat Doney on Cowboys Cast. Among other things we talked about potential breakout players this season. Pat raved about how great Gavin Escobar looked in camp and how uncoverable he was. When trying to compare the third year player from San Diego State to another NFL tight end... he said that Gavin shared similar traits to Jimmy Graham.
The Superdome is no stranger to the talents of Jimmy Graham. The basketball player-turned-NFL superstar dunked touchdowns over the goalposts so many times that the NFL had to outlaw the rule! Unfortunately for Saints fans Graham was traded to the Seattle Seahawks after last season so they haven't seen the usual performance of high-flying antics from a big tight end this year.
It's no secret that Brandon Weeden and the Cowboys need to push the ball downfield more. In the absence of Dez Bryant and Tony Romo, someone is going to have to step up. That someone is Gavin Escobar.
#89 had what should have been a touchdown called back in Philadelphia two weeks ago, but I am predicting two scores for Gavin in this game. I believe that the Cowboys are going to be able to move the ball effectively on the ground and find themselves in the red zone needing a big target. There are no Saints who can cover Escobar, and he's going to give them a painful reminder of the same type of plays that they used to love so much. Gavin is scoring twice, book it.
3. Cole Beasley Has A 100-Yard Game
While I fully believe that the Cowboys are going to allow Brandon Weeden to throw more downfield, he's still going to have to check a lot of things down. The defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints, Rob Ryan who Cowboys fans know well, is a big fan of exotic blitzes. He's going to bring some serious heat at Brandon come Sunday.
Unless Brandon Weeden is a fan of getting hit very hard, he's going to have to get rid of the ball quickly - that's where Cole Beasley comes in. He's one of the shiftier players on the entire roster, and he's going to really shine in this game.
Get ready to hear constant comparisons to Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots because Cole is going to demolish New Orleans in the middle of the field. My bold prediction for the beautiful golden mane of Beasley is 9 catches for 114 yards.
4. The Cowboys Defense Forces 4 Turnovers
This defense has had to endure a lot of criticism all week. They've had to put up with chatter about how they let the game slip away, and how Julio Jones ran all over them. They are very angry.
I would be willing to bet my new jeep that Rod Marinelli has not been too kind to them either. He wants these guys to be getting after the ball all the time. He wants turnovers, and he's going to get them.
Given the status of Drew Brees, he's going to be delicate. Tyrone Crawford is going to come to play on Sunday, and he's going to be getting in Drew's face all day... forcing him to make quick and poor decisions.
If you took some perspective away from the Falcons game then you know that the second half was an aberration. Look for the Dallas Defense from the first two games of 2015 to show up in the Superdome, and look for them to be so ready to play that they force four turnovers.
5. Darren McFadden Throws A Pass
The name of the game isn't "reasonable" predictions, it's "bold" predictions, baby!
If you're a college football fan then you probably remember the days of the "Wild Hog" formation. In this formation, during his days as an Arkansas Razorback, Darren McFadden was known to sling the rock as well as run it. He actually has 7 passing touchdowns to his name in terms of his time at Arkansas.
The Cowboys will be across the field from one of the more creative NFL head coaches we've seen in the last decade, Sean Payton. They're going to need to surprise these guys as Payton has had the Cowboys' number a lot over the years.
I believe that the Cowboys will, as they always do, look to do everything possible to win. That includes getting a little bold themselves. Watch out for Darren Mcfadden taking a pitch to the outside, stopping to set his feet, and launching it downfield. How's that for bold?!
Is Kavon Frazier Fighting a Losing Battle With the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys Safety Kavon Frazier has one year remaining on his rookie contract, but may not see the end of it with the same team who drafted him. In fact, it really looks as if he is already fighting a losing battle in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys signed Free Agent George Iloka and drafted Donavan Wilson out of Texas A&M in the sixth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft in the hopes of upgrading the safety position. That doesn't bode well for Kavon Frazier, especially after seeing his defensive snaps take hit in 2018.
After the arrival of Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard, Frazier saw his playing time on defense go from 21.24% in 2017 to 18.07% in 2018. It's not a huge difference, but it's pretty obvious the Cowboys value his special-teams ability, not his defensive play.
The way I see things, Kavon Frazier is a longshot to make the Cowboys final 53-man roster this year. At best, I have him fifth or sixth on the depth chart right now. Since Dallas typically only carries four safeties on the roster, it's looking as if Frazier could inevitably be the odd man out.
I personally have Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath, and George Iloka ahead of Kavon Frazier right now on the depth chart. That means he's competing with Darian Thompson, who is also playing on a one-year deal, and rookie Donovan Wilson for that fourth and final roster spot at the safety position. Unfortunately for Frazier, it looks as if the odds are against him.
Donovan Wilson has already had to step into Frazier's shoes while he was out in OTA's after having his knee scoped, and has been pretty impressive doing so. He has supposedly picked up the defensive scheme pretty quickly and is becoming a vocal leader on the backend. Being a younger, cheaper option, Wilson has a better chance of sticking around on the final 53-man roster over Frazier.
As you can see, Kavon Frazier is fighting an uphill battle with the Dallas Cowboys. It of course is nothing new for him. He's had to fight his way onto the roster ever since he joined the Cowboys, but this year just seems a little different in my opinion. It just looks as if the odds are more against him this time around.
I have no doubts Frazier will continue to fight with every ounce of his being, but if I'm being completely honest I think he's fighting a losing battle. It's going to be really interesting to see how this roster battle at the safety position plays out in training camp and preseason.
Do you think Kavon Frazier is fighting a losing battle with the Dallas Cowboys?
Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019
It's been a few years since things around the Dallas Cowboys felt this good prior to a season. Coming off a 10-6 year in which Dallas won both the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a one possession road game to the future NFC champions, Cowboys Nation is expecting some big things in 2019.
After all, the Cowboys went out and improved their roster in multiple ways this offseason and brought in some new blood on their offensive coaching staff. Spirits are high among Cowboys Nation, and just about everyone is anticipating a two team race for the NFC East.
But some numbers indicate we should be thinking "not so fast."
The details of the 2018 season are not as pretty as the total picture. Rarely are they ever, of course, but these particular details point towards possible regression for the Cowboys in 2019.
Basically, their point differential a year ago spells out impending doom. (That was dramatic, but let's discuss).
The Cowboys were +15 in 2018, and by pythagorean wins expectation, they were about as strong as an 8-8 team (8.53 wins to be exact). This means they won nearly 2 more games (1.47) than would be expected, fourth most in the entire NFL.
This point is furthered when looking at their record in one possession games. Dallas went 8-2 when the game was decided by 7 points or less, winning close games at a rate that is simply not sustainable year to year.
These numbers make the Cowboys a prime candidate for regression in 2019, as they were in 2017.
Back in 2016, the Cowboys outperformed their pythagorean expectation by a whole 2 wins. The following season? Dallas finished the year 9-7. The model also indicated that the 7-9 Eagles performed 2 wins under expectations in 2016, meaning they would get back on track in 2017. As we know, they ended up winning 13 games and the Super Bowl the following season.
Of course, this isn't set-in-stone, and the Cowboys very well could outperform these expectations and avoid regression. This would mainly hinge on their coaching staff and quarterback performing at an elite level, carrying them through close games and winning more games by greater than one possession.
Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations
Winning games in the NFL typically comes down to accomplishing two goals. One, being successful when passing on offense. And, two, stopping the opposing team's passing game.
The Cowboys set out to accomplish that second goal this offseason, re-signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and trading for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn. Quinn, who tallied 6.5 sacks last season for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the leagues more feared rushers when at his best. The former All Pro has multiple 10+ sack seasons under his belt, including a whopping 19 in 2013.
And, as expected, the Cowboys coaching staff is ecstatic to have such a respected pass rushing specialist on their roster.
“He’s got that first step. He’s an established pass rusher in this league, so he’s going to bring some good stuff for us.” - Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
The Cowboys acquired Robert Quinn for a 2020 6th round pick, which could end up being the steal of the offseason. Quinn has played with some top-notch pass rushers in the past, and each time they have brought out the best in his own game.
Back with the Rams in 2017, when Aaron Donald was on the same defensive line, Quinn got to the quarterback 8.5 times. And, last season, he remained consistent in his sack totals playing alongside Cameron Wake. Now he joins a DeMarcus Lawrence who has 25 sacks over the last 2 seasons.
"I think it was kind of one of those where I get to have fun, pin my ears back and just disrupt the backfield, which is what they want us to do." - Robert Quinn told NFL.com.
Quinn and the always dominant Lawrence will form an impressive defensive end duo on passing downs, with the potential to be one of the best in all of football. Dallas is also hoping to add Randy Gregory into this mix, a piece which could prove vital late in football games if he is able to return from his current indefinite suspension.
Whether or not Gregory finds his way back onto the field, though, this defensive front will be in good hands. The edge combo of Quinn and Lawrence, combined with a plethora of skilled interior rushers such as Maliek Collins, gives the Cowboys a fearsome defensive line which should keep quarterbacks uncomfortable every Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Dallas Cowboys’ New-Look Offense “Challenging” Defense in Practices
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Tony Pollard One of Many Who Bring Speed to the Dallas Cowboys Offense
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Could Cowboys Have Another “Ezekiel Elliott vs. Jalen Ramsey” Debate?
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Could CB Michael Jackson Prove To Be Cowboys Best Value Pick?
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Cowboys OT Mitch Hyatt is an Undrafted Rookie to Watch
Player News1 week ago
Dorance Armstrong, Kerry Hyder Stand Out in Cowboys Practices
Player News2 weeks ago
Cedrick Wilson: Cowboys WR Could Shine After a Year Off
Star Blog1 week ago
Dallas Cowboys Shouldn’t Add a Veteran Backup Quarterback