After the amazing 2016 season, a couple of members from the Dallas Cowboys received an award in the 2017 NFL Honors. Jason Garrett was named Coach of the Year and Dak Prescott received the Offensive Rookie of the Year as a fourth rounder, beating the 2016 fourth overall pick, Ezekiel Elliott.
It had been a great season for America's Team despite its playoff run ending prematurely.
Last season, many would've thought DeMarcus Lawrence could've been a contender for the Defensive Player of the Year Award but he wasn't included among the three finalists.
But surely, the team might have an opportunity to make things right in 2018. With the Cowboys trying to get back into the playoffs in this season, there's many talented players who could emerge as candidates for an award at the end of the year.
Here's my list of potential Cowboys' candidates who could earn a trophy in the next NFL Honors! Let me know your thoughts on the comments section below or tweet them @PepoR99 and let's talk football!
Offensive Rookie of the Year: WR Michael Gallup
In 2016, the Cowboys dominated this category with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott leading the Cowboys' offense. Two seasons later, Dallas will have Michael Gallup trying to become the team's WR1 with his ability to play anywhere on the field.
The Cowboys third-round draft pick will likely be a starter very soon, perhaps even since week 1. With the wide receiver starting jobs wide open in Dallas, it's not far-fetched to see Gallup as a potential Offensive Rookie of the Year.
When it comes to receivers, this year's rookie class will be loaded all around the league but Gallup's biggest challenge might end up being playing in an offense with a run-first identity.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: LB Leighton Vander Esch
The Cowboys' first round pick will play alongside Sean Lee, one of the NFL's best linebackers, and Jaylon Smith, who promises to have his best year since joining the Cowboys. Vander Esch has a lot to prove being the rookie who reportedly was off of many draft boards around the league.
The Cowboys didn't pick another rookie defender until the fourth round of the Draft in Dorance Armstrong, so the in-house competition for Defensive Rookie of the Year won't be very strong for the Boise State product.
If Vander Esch manages to become a starter on the nickel defense over Jaylon Smith, he'll see a lot of snaps and will be on his way to become an award candidate.
Offensive Player of the Year: RB Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott has done enough to be considered one of the NFL's top three running backs. You could even argue he's the best in the league. Being the rushing-yards leader in 2016 and falling just 17 yards short of the 1,000 yards-mark despite missing six games, Elliott will make people remember who he is next season.
Is this the year that he runs for 2,000 yards? If he does, he will not only an Offensive Player of the Year candidate, but an MVP candidate.
However, if there's one thing we've learned from the NFL Honors, is that it's almost impossible to be named the MVP if you play any position other than quarterback.
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Sean Lee
The obvious candidate here would likely be DeMarcus Lawrence, who just last year had an impressive breakout season with 14.5 sacks. Trying to prove his worth for a long-term extension, it only makes sense for Lawrence to keep his 2017 level of play and be a clear candidate for this award.
But we all know how talented and dedicated Sean Lee is. He's only missing one thing to be considered the NFL's best linebacker: full seasons.
Year after year, Sean Lee suffers an injury and is forced to leave the field. If he manages to remain healthy for one and only one year, he'll play like an All-Pro and be a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.
Comeback Player of the Year: LB Jaylon Smith
It seems like the Cowboys don't have any strong candidates for this award. That's mainly because the criteria that the Associated Press uses on this award isn't that clear.
"This is a good spot for a reminder that the Comeback Player of the Year criteria, is, well, not exactly precise. It's presented each season to a player who thrives while overcoming adversity [...]" - Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke, 2016
If the award doesn't "require" that to win this award a player must have had a successful season before, then Jaylon Smith has gone through a lot of adversity. We know that.
If Smith is able to put on a show in 2018 and prove that he was worth the second round pick used on him in 2016, then he could be in the running for Comeback Player of the Year after coming back from an injury that some feared would end his football career.
Most Valuable Player: QB Dak Prescott
Yes, it sounds crazy. Maybe Ezekiel Elliott seems like a more realistic candidate for this award, but Dak Prescott is a quarterback. And the MVP is a quarterback award, if we're being honest. His third year in the NFL will be a very important one, especially since this might be the season that earns him a big-time contract.
Every year, surprise contenders for the MVP title emerge. Playing in the most popular franchise in sports, all Dak Prescott needs to do is take control of his offense and have a great year leading his team into the playoffs. He obviously needs to improve his game in a lot of ways, but he's shown he's able to.
Don't be surprised if Dak's numbers go up during his third year in the NFL.
If he finds a way to shine in a run-first offense with an overhauled set of pass-catchers, Prescott might find himself in the MVP conversation. Hopefully, he does.
Which Cowboys do you think will be candidates for an award in the 2019 NFL Honors?
Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración
Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.
Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.
Cambios de Coach
A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.
A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.
Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?
A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.
A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.
En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.
La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.
Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.
Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.
No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.
Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story
Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.
Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.
Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.
Here's why those people are wrong.
Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.
Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).
Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.
There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.
Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.
Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.
Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.
Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.
And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.
Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?
When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.
It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.
Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.
Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.
Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.
The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.
Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating
Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating
As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.
Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
Now, he just has to go out and prove it!
Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?
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