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?
Will DeMarcus Lawrence Be Franchise Tagged Again in 2019?
The deadline for extending players under the franchise tag has come and gone last Monday, in a day in which none of the remaining tagged players reached an agreement with their respective teams. That includes Dallas Cowboy Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, who's set to earn $17M in 2018.
The front office and the 26-year old defensive end failed to agree to a new contract before the season's start, but we saw that coming. After all, there was never a point in which we had the classic "X player and his team are close to a new deal" headline.
All of this makes the future of the Cowboys' promising "War Daddy" very uncertain. What lies a head of the player that put on an impressive show in 2018?
Since 2017 was Lawrence's breakout year, racking up 14.5 sacks trough the season, we have leaned towards the narrative of last season being his only good one. His performance last season was impressive and clearly his best one yet, but we tend to overlook 2015.
In his sophomore season, the only other year in which he has played 16 games, he finished the campaign with eight sacks and 35 tackles (55 combined). Really, the idea of 2017 being his only good year is not as accurate as we might think.
That being said, I think it's more likely that we see another great year from him this upcoming season than seeing a disappointing one. This, of course, will end up being the main thing that determines his future in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys front office really took a risk by tagging Lawrence this offseason. #90 was reportedly asking for an average of $17M per year in his long-term contract, which is Olivier Vernon kind of money.
So what if he puts a similar season or an even better one? Lawrence and his agent could end up asking for even more money. Perhaps in the 18 or 20 million dollars per year range. If that ends up being the case, the team will find itself in a tough position when trying to reach an agreement with its promising pass rusher.
Which leads us to the possibility of seeing the Cowboys franchise tagging Lawrence for the second consecutive season. Dallas will already be negotiating a contract extension with QB Dak Prescott, and things will get complicated. Even more if they decide to pursue a big-time free agent in March, such as Earl Thomas.
It would make sense, from a financial perspective, to hand the tag twice in consecutive years to D-Law. However, it shouldn't be the priority. If he plays like he did in 2017, the front office will be more than wise to extend him for good.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Cowboys will have approximately $50.6M. Seemingly, the team's cap woes will be over soon.
Fortunately, Lawrence didn't become a headache by threatening to holdout for offseason programs and even training camp. However, don't expect that to happen if he finds himself under the tag next year.
Careers in the NFL are short, so DeMarcus will surely want to get paid. If he keeps it up, he'll deserve it. As much as he deserves it, though, football is a cold business. If the Jones need to tag him, they will.
Do you think the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence in 2019?
Without Looming Suspension, RB Ezekiel Elliott Should Shine In 2018
NFL Films typically does a good job of exposing some truths around NFL teams. Whether through "Hard Knocks" or Amazon's new "All or Nothing" series, these documentaries do an excellent job of giving fans an inside look of their favorite teams.
If anything was revealed through the Cowboys' All or Nothing series on their 2017 season, it's that Ezekiel Elliott's suspension weighed heavy on his mind all year.
The Pro Bowl running back did not look, act, or play like himself while awaiting decision on his incoming suspension. And, once it was finally announced he would serve the six games, the entire team collapsed in Atlanta.
Despite the clear and detrimental effects Elliott's suspension had on the Cowboys' season, Zeke still put up more-than-respectable numbers; rushing for almost 1,000 yards and averaging a league leading 98.3 yards per game.
Now, Ezekiel Elliott enters a season with no doubts about his own availability. Scott Linehan gets to coach an offense that knows they will have their best player for the entire season barring major injury. And, Jason Garrett can lead his team without addressing questions about Elliott's future day in and day out.
Of course, these effects aren't quantifiable. We can't sit here and say that without the pressure of court appearances and suspensions that Elliott will be worth "X" amount of more yards and "Y" more touchdowns.
But I do believe we can say, without question, that playing with a clear mind and without a looming suspension will breed the type of production we saw from Zeke his rookie year.
We can say that Elliott has had a weight lifted off his shoulders, and could be looking for revenge on a league he feels did him wrong.
And, for the Cowboys sake, I hope this is true. Because they are going to need Ezekiel Elliott to be even better than he ever has been if they hope to make a run at the Super Bowl in 2018.
Cowboys en Español: El Regreso de Randy Gregory
A sólo días de que los Dallas Cowboys aterricen en Oxnard, California para dar inicio a su training camp como todos los años, el equipo recibió excelentes noticias respecto a la selección de segunda ronda del 2015: Randy Gregory. Después de pasar todo el 2017 suspendido, el ala defensiva ha sido oficialmente reintegrado por la NFL.
Gregory, quien tuvo muchos problemas debido al uso de marihuana, ha pasado los últimos meses rehabilitándose para poder volver a vestir la estrella y volver al emparrillado. Los Cowboys, quienes siempre apoyaron a su joven jugador, sin duda estarán felices de verlo de vuelta en el equipo por motivos más allá que el football americano.
Sin duda alguna, antes de estar emocionados y felices por verlo en el campo intimidando a quarterbacks rivales, deberíamos estar alegres por el logro personal de Randy como un ser humano. Realmente hizo un esfuerzo consciente en un lugar en el que muchos se hubieran rendido y dejado sus sueños de ser parte de la NFL. Pero no lo hizo, y ahora, todos sus esfuerzos han valido la pena.
El siguiente paso en su lista por-hacer, es volver al campo y poco a poco, ganarse su puesto en el equipo y después, la titularidad. La última vez que vimos a Gregory en el campo, fue contra Philadelphia, en el final de temporada del 2016.
En este juego, Gregory mostró muchos destellos de lo que sería capaz de hacer semana tras semana en la liga y porque valió la pena nunca dejarlo ir, lo cual no hubiera tenido sentido hacer, dado que los Cowboys no les costaba nada (literalmente) mantenerlo en el equipo.
Sean Martin escribió un artículo recientemente en el que analiza este partido a fondo.
El potencial de Gregory es inmenso, suficiente incluso, para aventurarse a decir que se convertirá en el defensive end (ala defensiva) derecho antes de lo esperado. El reto más grande para el jugador de 25 años será regresar a una condición física óptima para la NFL.
Afortunadamente, a diferencia del 2016, Gregory no estará regresando a media temporada. Su llegada toma lugar justo a tiempo para el training camp, dándole tiempo para regresar a la forma en la que tiene que estar.
Una vez ahí, ¿qué tanto le tomará ganarse un rol más importante que el de Tyrone Crawford y Taco Charlton? A pesar de que prácticamente no lo hemos visto jugar en Dallas, sabemos el potencial que tiene para convertirse en un defensivo de suma importancia para los Cowboys.
Un año después de ver la mejor temporada en la carrera de DeMarcus Lawrence, los Cowboys tendrán el potencial de una estrella similar en el lado derecho de su línea defensiva. Gregory tiene una montaña que escalar para cumplir las expectativas de los aficionados, pero no será una sorpresa si lo logra.
Vaya, no olvidemos que si no fuera por sus problemas fuera del campo, hubiera sido seleccionado en el Top 10 del Draft del 2015. Tiene el potencial de conseguir diez sacks por temporada.
Con un poco de suerte, no nos equivocaremos en tenerle fe al jugador que ha tenido un gran viaje para llegar a este punto. El punto de ponerse el casco e ir a trabajar con su equipo.
Incluso si sólo llega a ser un jugador de rotación, sin duda será importante para el éxito del equipo. Entre DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Randy Gregory y el resto del talento que los Cowboys tienen en la línea defensiva, el equipo podría tener un frente de muy buena calidad.
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