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?!
Maliek Collins on the Verge of a Breakout Season
Maliek Collins has never lacked any ability on the field just the ability to stay on it. Foot and knee injuries have always seemed to get in the way when he's been on the brink of reaching his potential.
2019 is a contract year for Collins which means it's the most critical season of his young career. He hasn't wasted any time, though, showing what he's capable of when he doesn't have any physical limitations.
Maliek Collins beats Connor William's with a swim move in 2v2s https://t.co/prL9GsG1rY
In the first video above, Collins gets a great burst off the line of scrimmage while he simultaneously gets his hands on Connor Williams first. He controls and pushes him right into Dak Prescott's face, forcing a throw out of bounds. On the next video, he again explodes off the ball and uses a great swim move to beat Williams again in 2 on 2 drills.
His dominance hasn't been limited to training camp practice, however, as evident in his performance this past Saturday in albeit a short amount of action.
These next two plays stand out for me specifically. In the first, he uses a very physical spin move that knocks the left guard off balance and puts him right in the quarterback's face. In a league that focuses on quarterbacks getting the ball out quickly, the sooner you can provide pressure from the interior the harder it is for a quarterback to stay in the pocket and throw effectively. In the next play, he utilizes a swim move after a quick jump off the line and is right in the face of the runner as he and Jaylon Smith combine for a TFL (tackle for loss).
Beautiful TFL for Maliek Collins. Swims inside the LG on the zone concept to get penetration. Quickly flattens, latches onto Henderson's jersey and drags him to the ground. Outstanding grip strength #Cowboys. https://t.co/6ZnpKSVsRv
Collins performing at a high level in 2019 doesn't just benefit him but also rookie Defensive Tackle Trysten Hill. While he's still acquiring the tools needed for the pro level under the guidance of Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli he can watch and learn from Collins as he'll be right behind him as the team's backup 3-technique defensive tackle. Hill is probably still a year away from being a big contributor with Collins looking so refreshed and healthy so this is a great time to gain all the knowledge he can from a veteran. If that learning process comes along quickly, the Cowboys will have a very solid one-two punch alongside Antwaun Woods, the starter at the 1-technique.
Health, at least so far, seems to be on the side of Maliek Collins heading into the 2019 season, which is all he's ever lacked. Motivated by the opportunity to maximize his dollars for 2020, and a rookie being drafted at the same position, I look for Collins to not only have a breakout year but one that could garner a pro bowl nod, or at least be heavy in the conversation, which would mean great things for the Cowboys defensive front.
Cowboys Nation Mailbag: What about Taco Charlton and Ezekiel Elliott?
The 2019 regular season is now less than three weeks away and now is the time when we start getting down to the nitty-gritty. The "dress rehearsal" game is coming this Saturday as the Dallas Cowboys take on the Houston Texans and a lot of the 53-man roster will likely be decided after that game.
As we inch closer to the regular season, the contract status for the Dallas Cowboys' newest version of the triplets and the construction of the 53-man roster will have even greater emphasis in the news.
Thanks for your questions this week. Let's did into this week's Cowboys Nation Mailbag.
How long until all of cowboys twitter completely turns on Zeke? Like immediately after pollards first long td run or????
— E.D.I.T.H. (@cashfeen) August 19, 2019
I guess it depends on what segment of Cowboys Twitter you're talking about.
Contract situations and hold outs always create some tension within the fanbase. They expect players to show up for work as they do. You hear people talk about Elliott fulfilling the agreement of his contract. But what people don't understand is that rookie contracts and the rookie salary scale was negotiated by players already in the league to avoid rookies making Sam Bradford type money. The veterans and to some extent the owners didn't like the idea that rookies could hold out of training camp to negotiate their first contract.
So, when Ezekiel Elliott was drafted fourth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, he was locked into a contract length (including a team option for a fifth season) and a salary and bonus for the length of that contract.
The other thing to consider is that Elliott is doing exactly what the collective bargaining agreement allows him to do. Though the Dallas Cowboys can fine him, Elliott is permitted by the CBA to seek a contract extension after the third season of his rookie contract, just like you saw Michael Thomas of the New Orleans Saints do earlier this summer.
I get that fans are frustrated by the idea of a player "not honoring his contract," but in the NFL, that's the way football goes. The owners don't always honor the contracts they've agreed to, cutting a player with guaranteed money left on his deal because his play might have dropped off or simply because he doesn't warrant the cap hit.
But as Mike Leslie of WFAA recently pointed out on Twitter, our jobs aren't like NFL jobs.
There are a lot of folks that understand that there is a business side to all of this. The players, the coaches, and a large segment of Cowboys Nation all understand where Ezekiel Elliott is coming from. Even the "running backs don't matter" truthers aren't throwing Ezekiel Elliott under the bus for holding out for a new contract.
As I've said before, don't get mad at Ezekiel Elliott or even the Dallas Cowboys for the current state of his contract negotiations. Get mad at the Los Angeles Rams for setting a precedent that Ezekiel Elliott is attempting to take advantage of.
Ezekiel Elliott is only doing what's permitted by the CBA. Though the negotiations continue to drag on, there's still three weeks left till the start of the regular season, which is plenty of time to get a deal done.
Until this holdout lasts until the regular season, you shouldn't worry.
Actually John, I do have a question. I haven't reviewed film from Saturday yet (that's my Tuesday deal each week of the season), but your take on Taco? I thought he had maybe his best preseason game in some time. Enough to secure a spot?
— Marlon C Taylor (@MarlonCTaylor) August 19, 2019
Taco Charlton has done some nice things in the preseason thus far. He's been able to create pressure, and by Bobby Belt's splash metric, Taco Charlton is leading the team.
Cowboys leaders in disruptions (sack, TFL, QB hit, INT, PD, FF) through two preseason games:
1. Taco Charlton - 4
2. Donovan Olumba - 3
t3. Ricky Walker - 2
t3. Kerry Hyder - 2
t3. Trysten Hill - 2
t3. Joe Jackson - 2
— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) August 19, 2019
Obviously, this isn't the only way to evaluate talent, but it does give an indication that Taco Charlton has been good this preseason. I've long believed that Taco was going to make the 53-man roster for the sheer fact that he was a first-round draft pick. That may not be a good enough reason for some, but he's a player that the Dallas Cowboys won't give up on lightly. He's doing enough at this point in the preseason to warrant another year.
Cutting Taco Charlton in 2019 actually costs you money. It would cost the Dallas Cowboys roughly $3.5 million in 2019, but they could save $1.3 million in 2020. It's not likely that the Cowboys will pick up his fifth-year rookie option, which would be for 2021. Financially, the only move that would make sense is a trade, which would cost the Dallas Cowboys only $1.3 million in dead money.
While I think Taco Charlton is a player that is destined for the 53-man roster, with reports that DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford are about to be activated from the physically unable to perform (P.U.P) list, it may come down to a numbers game at defensive end.
Players like Dorance Armstrong, Joe Jackson, Kerry Hyder, and even Jalen Jelks may have something to say about Taco Charlton's spot on the 53-man roster, but I believe they give him another year to prove he's worth retaining.
PFF Ranks Dak Prescott As Tier 3, 17th Overall Quarterback
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is the subject of constant debate around the football world. Now that it's getting time to pay him, those debates are even hotter.
As I discussed last week, Prescott has been much better than he's often given credit for, though the narrative continues to be that he is carried by his offensive line and rushing attack.
Pro Football Focus ranked all 32 starting quarterbacks heading into the 2019 season, placing them both in tiers, and in traditional order as well. Prescott clocked in at 17th overall on their list, listed as a tier 3 NFL starting quarterback.
"Tier 3: Volatile or conservative quarterbacks whose production will rely even more heavily on supporting cast and play calling. Tier 3 quarterbacks can post top-10 production in any given year in the right situation."
The other quarterbacks listed in Prescott's tier include Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, and Cam Newton, all ranked in front of him. Prescott is ahead of a couple of tier 3 passers as well, though, including Jimmy Garoppolo and Derek Carr.
"Even with his added rushing ability, Prescott has settled in as a mid-tier quarterback whose production is more dependent on his supporting cast, and this will be a big year to see if he can get back to his rookie levels of efficiency."
Personally, I'd rank Prescott ahead of a decent number of those tier 3 quarterbacks, such as Stafford and Cousins. Overall, though, it's tough to have too big an issue with their assessment of Prescott and the Cowboys offense. He has been somewhat up-and-down during his time as the Cowboys starter, and saw a big spike in his play when given Amari Cooper as a weapon in the passing game a year ago.
While the entire fanbase is hopeful that he will improve on his mechanics and decision making under new leadership on offense, we can't bank on that happening just yet.
Still, Dak Prescott has looked excellent this preseason, and should be poised for a career year in 2019. I think there's a good chance he finds himself closer to Wentz and Watson on these types of rankings than Carr and Stafford by this time next season.
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