I was 19 years old.
Off at college. Living in my own apartment. I knew it all.
I decided that, since I had my own apartment and all, I ought to cook myself a meal. Pretty normal thing, right? Not for 19-year-old RJ Ochoa.
I called my Mom, told her I wanted to make some pasta, and asked for help. I may have known it all, but that included knowing that Mom is actually the one who knows it all. She told me what to buy and gave me a rundown on the process. Leggo.
So I've got the noodles boiling, right? I'm dancing around the kitchen. I think I'm Bobby Flay up in this business, tossing around spoons and sliding all over the floor like Joel Goodsen in Risky Business.
The final thing for me to tackle, remember that I'm literally making the most basic thing possible in pasta, is the sauce. My Mom had said to throw some of it in a bowl, toss it in the microwave ("Put a paper towel over it son. Don't make a mess." she said), and sit back in admiration. I'm a pretty smart cat so I followed those instructions and thought I was in business.
A minute and a half or so after I set my sauce up to get all nice and warm, I opened the microwave and THE BOWL HAD VANISHED!
I was stunned. I was freaked out. I had no idea where the bowl, and residually the sauce, had gone! All that was left was the paper towel my Mom insisted on. How...
In an effort to calm myself I said that my roommate must have pulled a brilliant trick on me while I'd run to my room mid-microwaving. So I did it again and stood guard. Nobody was going to take my sauce!
THE BOWL VANISHED AGAIN AND I LEGITIMATELY THOUGHT THERE WAS A DOOR TO NARNIA BEHIND MY MICROWAVE WHERE SOMEONE WAS STEALING MY ALFREDO SAUCE!
It turns out that you're not supposed to put styrofoam in the microwave. Good one, RJ.
What's the lesson to be learned here? Sometimes being bold is really dumb if you have no idea what you're doing. That's why my Mom told me to put a paper towel over the sauce. I had no clue what I was doing. I was going to destroy this meal. If we're being totally honest I could have started a fire or something, but instead I was worried about Narnia (I legitimately thought that).
The Dallas Cowboys have spent a lot of time getting prepared for the 2016 season. Tonight's preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks will serve as the dress rehearsal for that occasion. They've "put paper towels" over this whole thing by making sure that recently concussed Dez Bryant and Tyrone Crawford sit the game out. It's time for them to get bold and make their meal, alfredo sauce and all. It's time for them to be bold in a smart fashion.
Welcome to my 5 Bold Predictions. Let's roll.
Ezekiel Elliott Will Surpass DeMarco Murray's Performance In Seattle During The 2014 Season
October 12th, 2014 was a long time ago. 684 days to be exact.
It would be particularly bold to say that Zeke would then have 684 yards against the Seahawks, but I'm smart enough to figure out there's no Narnia in my microwave so I'm not going to do that.
On that early October day, then Dallas Cowboy DeMarco Murray toted the rock 28 times in Seattle, accumulating 115 yards and a touchdown (game-winner for what it's worth) in the process.
You know when you get a new phone and peel off that little plastic film that's on it? I don't know why, and neither do you, but that's one of the best feelings in the world. That's what it's going to be like for the members of Cowboys Nation tonight when we see the future of our team in action for the first time.
Dak Prescott Will Do It Again
The only thing in the history of the world more stupid than the way I handled pasta for the first time is the preseason performance of Dak Prescott.
Word on the street, don't believe it, is that Cowboys fans have gotten too carried away with Prescott-mania. It's ok to be excited about Dak Prescott. We told you why last Saturday. It's completely and totally normal to enjoy the prospect that Dak is and what he could someday be for the Cowboys.
That being said, Dak is in for his toughest challenge to date. He'll be taking on most of the starters for one of the NFL's most formidable defenses, and he'll be doing it without his most lethal aerial weapon.
If/when Dak does this tonight I am going to lose my mind. You're going to lose yours. It's going to be incredible.
At Least Five Russell Wilson Commercials Will Air
Let the record show that I like Russell Wilson. I really like him. He's one of my favorite NFL players. You got that, record? Cool.
Russell Wilson is probably the most corporate-y athlete in America outside of JJ Watt. This dude has commercials for the Microsoft Surface tablets, Bose headphones, some kind of razors, this, that, the other thing... Russell Wilson is everywhere!
I'm all for a dude making a living however he wants, so do you Russ. Do you. But let's call a spade a spade here and acknowledge that Russell might have more commercials than he does career touchdowns, which is saying something.
Whether you're watching tonight's game on NFL Network, GamePass, local broadcast... Russell will find you. And he will try to sell you something. Be warned.
Rico Gathers Will Out-Jimmy Graham The Actual Jimmy Graham
Did you know that Antonio Gates played basketball in college and that helps him as a tight end? How about Jimmy Graham? Julius Thomas? Rico Gathers? WHEN DOES IT END?
The Baylor Baller (um hello epic nickname) turned Dallas Cowboys Tight End Rico Gathers hasn't really impressed this preseason period. There are many (more like dozens) of us who were actually afraid that Rico would never make it to the Dallas practice squad (he might not) if he doesn't make the Final 53-man Roster.
Here's the deal. Rico Gathers wears #80. Jimmy Graham used to wear #80 back when he was good and before the Seahawks broke him. In this game the Seattle loyalists are going to see the player that they thought they were getting when they traded for Graham.
Except he'll be wearing a Star on his hat. Call it the "Rule of #80" if you want. Because it's happening. Boo-ya.
The Cowboys Will Run A Surprise Onside Kick
Shockingly, we haven't heard a whole lot about the NFL moving the touchback mark to the 25-yard line in the first two preseason broadcasts.
This fascinates me. There are an innumerable amount of ways that this could come into play in an NFL game, I even hypothesized some of them with Inside The Pylon's Chuck Zodda a few weeks back on the RJOShow.
The third preseason game is the dress rehearsal. We all know that. It's the time where you can really gauge your team in legitimate situations, all before doing it for real a few weeks from now.
I'm not saying the Cowboys should come out and test every trick in the book, but if they're planning on getting creative with the advantages this rule change could provide at any point in the season... now is the time to see it in action.
Warm up the boot, Bailey. Let's have some fun.
How The Tables Have Turned for 2019 Dallas Cowboys
The 2018 season was a two-part tale for the Dallas Cowboys. The first is the story of a mediocre 3-5 team that couldn't get it going offensively. The second part is about a football team that turned its season around, made the playoffs, got a win in the postseason and ultimately lost to the team that ended up representing the NFC in Super Bowl LIII, the Los Angeles Rams.
Surely, 2018 didn't go as planned. The storylines leading to last season are actually very different from the ones we're hearing today. Let's take a look at a few examples of how the tables have turned for the Dallas Cowboys.
The need for a true WR1
Last season, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys preached the philosophy of not needing a #1 wide receiver. While that could've sound encouraging at the time, once the season began the team was proven wrong. They did need a WR1. Fortunately, this season we won't have to worry about it. This year, Dez Bryant shouldn't be a discussion topic among Cowboys' fans.
Amari Cooper is in the house. And he's been pretty good since he started playing with a Star on his helmet. If we have conversations about the WR position, they will not be about who's the #1 guy. With Michael Gallup showing up late in the season, it probably won't be about who is #2 either.
Back on top of the NFC East
Last year, the Dallas Cowboys were not really the favorites to win the NFC East. The Philadelphia Eagles had just made history by winning their first Super Bowl ever and it seemed like the Cowboys would have to get a wildcard spot to play in January. Now it's the Cowboys back on top after sweeping the Eagles and turning their once 3-5 season around.
That of course, means a tougher schedule next season. However, it's nice to be back on top of the division. These two teams will surely have an intense race for the division title next season. Maybe we even see them both in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Sean Lee's uncertain future
I'm pretty sure no one expected Sean Lee to be considered a potential cap casualty for the 2019 season. Even if he was, it would've probably been anticipating an injury or something like that. No one would've imagined that Leighton Vander Esch would be so good to take Sean Lee's job.
The Cowboys' first round rookie truly earned the starting role as the defense's weak linebacker and he should keep it. With Sean Lee set to return to the field, I'm sure we didn't expect him to be a backup by now. We'll have to wait and see if the Cowboys decide to part ways with him. As a fan, it would certainly be painful. But we can't deny it would be a move that makes sense.
It's a crazy franchise on a crazy league. Who knows how things will go from now on, but the Dallas Cowboys certainly look like a promising team heading into the 2019 offseason. Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue to update you with the latest on your favorite NFL team.
Cowboys en Español: Volviendo a la Idea de Earl Thomas
El año pasado, Earl Thomas fue uno de los temas de conversación más frecuentes para los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys. Después de que los Seattle Seahawks no le dieran su deseada extensión de contrato, Thomas se convirtió en un candidato a ser intercambiado de su equipo. Entre los favoritos estaban los Cowboys, quienes tenían una necesidad en su defensiva secundaria. Ahora que la temporada 2018 llegó a su fin, la misma necesidad por un safety de calidad está presente en Dallas.
Sólo que en esta ocasión, Earl Thomas no está bajo contrato con ningún equipo. Su último momento con el uniforme de los Seahawks fue en un carro de lesiones, donde salía lesionado en dirección a su vestidor. Esto mientras se despedía de su equipo con el dedo de en medio extendido hacia sus entrenadores y compañeros. Así concluyó su temporada y su carrera en Seattle.
Ahora, listo para cumplir los 30 años en mayo, Earl Thomas probará la agencia libre cuando comience en marzo. Y sin lugar a dudas, uno de los equipos candidatos a firmarlo serán los Dallas Cowboys. Es un equipo que a pesar de tener una de las mejores defensivas la temporada pasada, se vería muy beneficiada con la llegada de un profundo del calibre de Thomas.
A pesar de su edad y las lesiones, Thomas continúa siendo uno de los mejores en la liga. Su talento es innegable y tendrá toda la disposición de demostrar lo que vale cuando tome el campo la próxima temporada. Cuando llegue el momento, podríamos ver una guerra de ofertas entre varios equipos de la NFL para llevarse al veterano a sus respectivas ciudades.
La pregunta es: ¿estarán los Dallas Cowboys en esa guerra de ofertas?
Los Cowboys tienen espacio en el tope salarial. Sin embargo, este no durará mucho considerando que DeMarcus Lawrence está esperando su merecida y cara extensión después de jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia en 2018. Además, jugadores que aún están bajo contrato también estarán buscando ofertas este offseason.
Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, y Byron Jones están en la lista de quehaceres de la administración. Eso sin mencionar a Cole Beasley, cuyo contrato ya expiró y podría llegar a la agencia libre en marzo.
A pesar de esta complicada situación, los Dallas Cowboys deberían buscar conseguir a Thomas. Siendo sinceros, la defensiva tiene mucho talento y podría mantener su nivel en 2019. Pero hace falta un jugador en la posición de safety para llevar a esta unidad a otro nivel. Un nivel realmente capaz de ganar en postemporada enfrentándose a cualquier tipo de ofensiva. Sin importar que tan explosiva sea. Y además de esto, un jugador que sea capaz de robar el balón y hacer jugadas de impacto constantemente.
Cuando los Cowboys se enfrentaron a Seahawks en temporada regular, Thomas dio un buen ejemplo de esto interceptando en dos ocasiones a la ofensiva de Dak Prescott.
A pasos de un equipo de campeonato, un movimiento agresivo para obtener a Earl Thomas sería algo genial para Dallas. Vimos como los Rams de Los Angeles fueron agresivos al construir su equipo y llegaron hasta el Super Bowl este febrero. Quizá es tiempo de que Jerry Jones y compañía sean igual de agresivos y vayan por ese safety elite que la afición lleva pidiendo desde el offseason del año pasado.
Slot Machine: Amari Cooper in the Slot Could be Even More Dangerous
Amari Cooper was a dangerous man with the Dallas Cowboys after he arrived via trade from the Oakland Raiders last season. He was one of the big reasons why they were able to turn around a season that looked as if it was circling the drain and I don't think anybody would argue the point. But, I think he could be even more dangerous in 2019, especially if Cole Beasley departs via free agency.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you pretty much know the topic of the Cowboys offseason so far has centered around Cole Beasley and his future with the organization. He has been invaluable in Dallas since arriving as an undrafted free agent in 2012, but it's looking more and more as if he could be taking his talents elsewhere in 2019.
With Beasley more than likely moving on, the Cowboys will need to find someone who can replace his production in the passing game, especially in the slot. Everybody assumes Dallas needs to go outside the organization to find that player, but I'm not so sure. I think they already have a wide receiver more than capable of stepping in, and he just so happens to be there first-round draft pick this year.
In case you haven't figured it out already, I'm talking about Wide Receiver Amari Cooper. He has mostly been used as an outside receiver in his professional career, but he does have the skill set and route running ability to be a really dangerous out of the slot. I'm not talking about a full-time move into the slot or anything, just a marginal increase in snaps.
According to Rotounderworld.com, only 12.6% of Amari Cooper's snaps in 2018 were out of the slot. For comparison sake, Cole Beasley's snaps in the slot was 85.9%, the highest of any receiver in the NFL last season. That's a huge difference, not one the Cowboys should try to match with Cooper or any other potential slot WR replacement.
Personally, I'd like to see Cooper's snaps playing out of the slot increased to around 20%. That would put him in Odell Beckham Jr. territory (19.9%), and we all know how difficult he is to cover all over the field. It would likely do the same for Amari Cooper.
I just really like the idea of him having the entire field to work with and the favorable matchup it creates with slot/nickel cornerbacks around the league. Can you imagine opposing defensive coordinators trying to figure out how to contain a player that has the kind of speed and route running ability that Amari Cooper has? They better stock up on Tylenol, because that is a surefire way to get a headache.
This is course is just speculation at this point, especially since we don't know what the Cowboys offense will look like with Kellen Moore taking over the playcalling duties. But if it was me, I'd be doing everything in my power to get the ball in the hands of my best WR, Amari Cooper, and that might mean increasing his snaps out of the slot.
What do you think about using Amari Cooper out of the slot more often in 2019?
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