I like to consider myself a big fan of movies, but the truth of the matter is that there are a lot of iconic films that I've never seen (Fight Club is one, I know... I know.).
A few years ago I was working on something with two colleagues and a box arrived in the mail. One person, we'll call her Sally, posed the question, "What's in the box?".
The other person present, let's call him Terry, immediately let out a "WHAT'S IN THE BOX?!" proclamation. Sally looked confused and Terry said, "What, you've never seen Se7en?" as if Sally was from Neptune.
Sally said no, and then they both looked at me. I had never seen this movie (I have now, and don't worry I won't spoil it if you haven't... just know that's an iconic line) and I didn't want to look stupid. I wanted to look like I knew what was going on.
"Yea Sally! Come on, Se7en is awesome!" I said with absolutely no idea knowledge of the film.
This whole bit became sort of a running joke among the three of us. Terry would occasionally tease Sally about not knowing this movie and the all-important line, and every time I'd play up how awesome I thought the movie was - with literally zero knowledge on it.
About a year after this interaction I finally watched the movie. I got to the part of the movie where the line is uttered and very audibly shrieked to myself, "OHHHH!!!!". It was epic.
What's particularly amazing is that I went a whole year keeping this joke alive without it ever being discovered how unprepared I truly was for those conversations. If Sally or Terry had asked me literally anything about the movie - I would've been exposed.
Sometimes in life we scathe by when we're unprepared. That's what the Cowboys have seemingly done over these first three weeks. There's no way on earth that they were prepared for the hand they were dealt when Week 1 began, and there's no way that they're prepared for the one that current faces them.
The Cowboys are proving that they know how to get by, even when they have no idea what really is inside the box. That's the mark of a great team, that's the mark of our team.
Welcome to my 5 Bold Predictions. Let's roll.
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Ezekiel Elliott Will Rush For Over 200 Yards
Todd Gurley III, Fozzy Whittaker, and Christine Michael were the leading rushers for their respective teams when they took on the San Francisco 49ers in 2016's first three weeks. They combined for 253 yards.
Todd had 47, Fozzy had 100, and Christine had 106. The Niners Defense has allowed more and more yards from the opposing primary running back as the season has ticked on. Now they'll try to contain Ezekiel Elliott who is coming off of a 140-yard performance.
The Cowboys are very likely going to be without the services of Dez Bryant on Sunday, which means that they will be feeding Zeke - a lot. Zeke is going to eat, eat, eat, eat, and EAT all the way to his first 200-yard game in the NFL.
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Brice Butler Will Establish Himself As This Team's WR2
9 catches, 143 yards, and 3 touchdowns. That's what #19 had last time the Cowboys visited San Francisco.
To be totally fair, that game was five years ago... and that #19 was Miles Austin at his peak (a short-lived one). Nowadays Brice Butler slips the 1-9 over his shoulders on Sundays.
It was September 15th, 2015 when Dallas traded for Brice Butler in an effort to give them a viable option while Dez Bryant was sidelined. Thanks to injuries we never saw that happen, and we find ourselves in a similar situation a little over a year later.
This game will go a long way in determining who this team's WR2 is and who the Cowboys are going to prefer in 2017 between Brice Butler and Terrance Williams. The former is going to make sure that at the end of the game we all know that it's him.
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"The Catch" Will Be Mentioned
Cowboys/49ers is arguably the greatest rivalry in NFL History. Don't believe me? NFL Films thought it was great enough to do a whole two-part episode of The Timeline on it a year ago called A Tale Of Two Cities (You can read about this from last year in my interview with NFL Films Senior Producer Paul Camarata).
There are many a moment that can be pulled from this historic rivalry, but none are bigger than "The Catch." Considering that Troy Aikman and Joe Buck are on the call, you can bet that they'll go through the rolodex of iconic plays, "The Catch" among them.
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Jason Garrett Will Make Another Bold Decision
2016 has brought forth a new disposition from Jason Garrett - a bold one.
In the last two games, contests that have seen the Cowboys come out victorious, Jason Garrett has gone for it on fourth and short early in the game twice and run a surprise onside kick. Yowza.
These are moves very uncharacteristic for the Jason Garrett that we're familiar with. These are moves that are having a serious impact on this football team... in a fantastic way.
Jason Garrett has shown us through three games, and most recently the former two, that he is no longer here to punt (metaphorically and literally speaking). He's taking 2016 by the horns and he's in a position where he'd rather go down swinging than staring at a blank pitch.
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Cole Beasley Will End The Week Leading The NFL In Receptions
Entering Week 4 Cole Beasley had 20 receptions on the 2016 season which had him tied for fourth in the NFL (Antonio Brown and Jarvis Landry led entering the week with 24 each).
Cole Beasley has been targeted 12, 6, and 7 times so far this season. He's on pace for a monster year as far as receptions go, and he's going to show that again in the final game of the season's first quarter.
Dak Prescott looks for Cole in almost every situation. He'll be looking, and connecting, for him all day long as Cole becomes the lead dog in the NFL receptions list.
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Bonus Bold Prediction #1
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!
I like where Donny's head is at on this one, and I'm always down for using historical points in Bold Predictions.
The Cowboys have gotten turnovers in each game this season so the likelihood of them getting one of some kind is relatively high. For what it's worth the 49ers have turned the ball over at least once in every game this season, and they turned it over a hat trick of times during Week 2 in Carolina. Let's do it again!
Bonus Bold Prediction #2
The latest Tweets and replies from Jones (@aj_bryant5188).
Jones is feeling the Zeke magic this week as well!
Considering that Zeke hit 140 yards this week, 150 seems possible. Considering that I boldly predicted Zeke will top 200, 150 seems easy!
I think the interesting element to this is the receiving yards. We haven't seen the Cowboys integrate Zeke a whole lot into the passing game, but in a game that likely won't feature Dez Bryant it makes sense that Zeke would get his chance to finally snag some passes. Huzzah!
Will 2019 be the Storybook Ending to Jason Witten’s Hall of Fame Career?
It's old news now, but Jason Witten will suit up for the Dallas Cowboys once again in 2019. After less than a year in retirement, he will return to the field with the hopes of chasing down that ever elusive Super Bowl ring that has eluded him, and the Cowboys, for nearly two decades. If successful, it would be the storybook ending to an impressive Hall of Fame career.
I may be in the minority here, but I actually wasn't too excited to hear Jason Witten was going to end his retirement and rejoin the Dallas Cowboys. I thought he retired at the right time last year, going out on his terms instead of letting father time force him out. He definitely didn't have anything else to prove on the field, but sometimes hunger gets the best of us all.
That's what Jason Witten is. He's hungry! He's not stupid. He's looked this Dallas Cowboys roster over and sees just how talented it is from top to bottom. He knows this team has a real shot at reaching the promised land this year, adding yet another Super Bowl trophy to their collection. He wanted in, and rightfully so.
Witten may not have a full tank of gas anymore, but he's got enough left to help get this team to their desired destination. Despite my hesitation at first, I'm really excited to have him back in uniform. I'm really looking forward to seeing him back in action now, but more importantly having him on hand to mentor these younger players around him.
Most importantly though, I'm really hoping the 2019 season can be the storybook ending he deserves. He's been such an important ambassador to the NFL throughout his career, both on and off the field. What better way to end such a decorated career than with a little jewelry to put on his finger?
The 11 time Pro Bowler still holds a lot of records in the NFL and with the Dallas Cowboys, despite not playing last season. I'll let you look those up for yourself if you want, but the impact he has had on the game throughout his career is undeniable, and should continue to be so. The Cowboys or Witten wouldn't have reunited if either thought that wasn't the case anymore.
I know many of you may be thinking I'm probably reaching little to suggest this 2019 Dallas Cowboys team has a chance at going all the way this year, but I don't think so. This is a team with Super Bowl aspirations and the roster to do it.
The Cowboys already had a championship caliber defense last season and they're even better now after making a few upgrades. This alone will make them a much more dangerous team this year, but they're not slouches on the offensive side of the ball either.
The offense was good last season after making the Amari Cooper trade, but should be able to take the next step this year. They only lost Cole Beasley, but replaced him with Randall Cobb, who has a chance to be even better if he can stay healthy. Then if you throw in the addition of Jason Witten and the development of a few players, this is looking more and more like one of the more dangerous offenses in the NFL.
Maybe, just maybe, this is the team that can finally get the Dallas Cowboys back to the Super Bowl and help Jason Witten end his Hall of Fame career in a storybook like manner. Hello Hollywood! You've got a blockbuster movie in the making.
Do you think Jason Witten can end his career in a storybook like manner?
Travis Frederick’s Return Named Cowboys Biggest Reason For Excitement
Overall, Cowboys Nation feels to be in a positive mood during this year's offseason. Despite early angst over lack of action at the start of free agency, and concern over the Cowboys' draft strategy, most within the fan base seem to have high, yet realistic, hopes for the 2019 season.
Most seem to believe the NFC East will be a two team race, with the last two champions battling for the crown once again down the stretch of the season. Others can see the potential for a dark-horse candidate in Washington, but still believe the Cowboys roster has the edge.
So while Cowboys fans may not think they need a singular reason to look forward to the Fall of 2019, Bleacher Report's Brent Sobleski gave them one this week.
NFL Brent Sobleski @@brentsobleski Twitter Logo NFL Analyst The offseason can be as thrilling for NFL fans as the regular season. Player movement constantly refreshes rosters-whether through free agency, the draft or trades. Significant changes inject excitement into franchises, personnel and fanbases. A one-time league doormat can become the league's "it' team simply through a string of acquisitions.
Brent identified the biggest reason for each team to look forward to 2019, with the return of center Travis Frederick being the Cowboys' submission. There's no question that when healthy, Frederick is one of the best centers in the game, and anchors an offensive line many still consider to be at the top of the league.
"A full year with wide receiver Amari Cooper and re-signing Demarcus Lawrence to a long-term deal are both reasons for the Dallas Cowboys to be excited. However, the return of Travis Frederick to man the middle of the offensive line is far more pertinent."
Frederick missed all of the 2018 season after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disease that I am not nearly qualified enough to discuss. What I do know is that it can be very serious, and it kept Frederick out for the entire year.
The Cowboys offensive line suffered during the early part of 2018, largely due in part to Travis Frederick's absence. Yes, Joe Looney filled in and played as well as anyone could have hoped for, but the disconnect in communication across the offensive line was clear without their usual center. Especially during the first couple months of the season.
If Frederick is fully back and healthy, his presence alone will take the Cowboys offensive line back towards their peak. Combine his comeback with a healthy Zack Martin, and a now bulked up Connor Williams, and the interior of this line has the chance to be special.
3 Dallas Cowboys Who Could Make Pro Bowl Debuts this Season
Every year, the Dallas Cowboys send quite a few players to the Pro Bowl. This year, the Cowboys sent eight players to the Pro Bowl with Leighton Vander Esch and Byron Jones being selected to their first Pro Bowl squad.
There is a lot of talent on this year's roster and the Cowboys will likely send someone to the annual all-star game that hasn't been there before. Here are three I think will make a push for Pro Bowl recognition in 2019.
Chidobe Awuzie, Cornerback
In the first half of the season, Chidobe Awuzie got picked on a bit. His coverage was always pretty good, but he allowed a ton of receptions. Awuzie allowed the ninth highest passer rating in coverage, the 12th most receptions, the 10th most yards, and tied for the sixth most touchdowns allowed weeks 1-9 of 2018.
In the second half, including the playoffs, Awuzie was much better and showed a higher level of comfort. His passer rating allowed dropped 50 points and was the 17th lowest in the league among corners who played at least 197 coverage snaps. He allowed fewer receptions, yards, and touchdowns in the 10 games over the second half than he allowed in the first eight games of the season.
Awuzie is one of the tougher players on the team. He plays with a similar edge that DeMarcus Lawrence does on the defensive line.
After spending part of his rookie season injured and rotating in, Awuzie found his stride in the second half of 2018 and was one of the Cowboys better cover players. Going into his third season in the NFL, the Cowboys 2017 second round pick looks to be an ascending player that could make some noise for postseason awards.
Tony Pollard, Running Back/Kick Returner
The Dallas Cowboys went into the 2019 NFL Draft looking to find a gadget player they could use on offense, but just as important, they wanted a player who could contribute in the return game. They got him in Rookie Tony Pollard.
Over the course of three seasons and 87 returns, Pollard averaged 30 yards per kick return and returned seven kickoffs for scores. In 2017, Pollard averaged an insane 40 yards per return. He's an incredibly dynamic player with the ball in his hands and though he wasn't used much on punt returns, shows an ability to make people miss and read his blockers.
As Stephen Jones said, "he's got a little Alvin Kamara to him." As a ball carrier, Pollard averaged 7.7 and 7.1 yards per carry over his final two seasons at Memphis. He was dynamic as a receiver as well averaging more than 12.4 yards per reception over three seasons in college.
With Ezekiel Elliott, the Dallas Cowboys may not give Pollard enough snaps and touches to have an Alvin Kamara like rookie campaign (120 carries for 728 yards, 8 touchdowns and 81 receptions for 826 yards and 5 touchdowns), but if he's given half that workload, plus what he could do on returns, he'll make noise for Pro Bowl consideration.
Jaylon Smith, Linebacker
It was a bit surprising to go back and look at which linebackers made the Pro Bowl and not see Jaylon Smith's name. As good as Rookie Leighton Vander Esch was, Jaylon Smith might have been better. By standard metrics -- tackles, interceptions, tackles for loss -- Vander Esch totaled more. Advanced metrics like defensive EPA (expected points added) and playmaking EPA, favored Jaylon Smith's season.
Overall playmaking EPA rank among all NFL defenders: 5. DeMarcus Lawrence 7. Jaylon Smith 58. Leighton Vander Esch
Jaylon Smith didn't rack up the tackles like Vander Esch, but he was far more impactful over the course of the season. That's not to diminish Vander Esch's contribution to the Cowboys success in 2018. It's important to show Jaylon Smith his due, though.
Smith recorded four sacks, two forced fumbles, four passes defended to go along with his 120 combined tackles in 2018. And that was just his second full season back from the devastating knee injury he suffered in college.
Another season removed from the injury should make Jaylon Smith more confident and more explosive in 2019, which should lead to another outstanding season for the Dallas Cowboys Middle Linebacker.
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Don't let anyone tell you that Pro Bowls don't matter. They do. Sure, All-Pro awards are the more highly coveted recognition, but to the players and to their agents, Pro Bowl selections matter. It's not as exclusive, but in a league with 1,696 players being one of 88 is still a really nice honor. To be a Pro Bowl player mean's you're in the top 5% of NFL players.
Obviously, we'd all prefer none of the Dallas Cowboys play in the Pro Bowl. Because that would mean they'd be preparing to play for that elusive sixth Lombardi Trophy. The Cowboys have always provided quite a few participants to the Pro Bowl game, but if the participation was zero in 2020, it wouldn't be all bad.
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