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Dallas Cowboys Dealt 2-7 Hand: How To Make It Work

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Blog - Dallas Cowboys Dealt 2-7 Hand: How To Make It Work 1

2-7.

It's hard to look at. It's hard to type. It's hard to say out loud.

There were a lot of references last week to prior teams that have turned 2-6 records into playoff runs. Those were meant to give the Dallas Cowboys some semblance of hope entering the Tampa Bay game.

"The 1970 Bengals made the playoffs after going 2-6," (in a 14-game regular season, mind you) was our battle cry. "The Panthers lost six in a row and still made the playoffs just last year!" was the coal in our engine of optimism.

That's all gone. All that remains is a 2-7 record.

If you're a Texas Hold'Em aficionado then you know what the worst starting hand in the game is: 2-7 off suit.

Cowboys Blog - Dallas Cowboys Dealt 2-7 Hand: How To Make It Work

For all of you Scrabble fans out there that are unaware of why 2-7 is not desirable, there are a lot of reasons why this is a terrible hand.

These are the lowest two possible cards that you can have that cannot make a straight as there are four cards between two and seven.

Even if they are suited and you somehow pull off a flush, your highest holding member of the flush is a seven. Say you manage to pair one of them... congratulations you've got a pair of deuces and unless they're wild you are in some hot water. This hand is so hard to come back from that it's actually referred to as "The Hammer" among poker players. Yikes.

The odds vary on how successful this hand is based on the number of players at the table, and the Dallas Cowboys have now drawn it in a four man game against the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins.

I've written extensively here at Inside The Star about some different "plans" for winning the NFC East. The first set of plans blew up in my face when the Cowboys lost to the Eagles at home in Week 9. I sat back down and drew up a second plan last week that got off to a rough start two days ago against the Buccaneers.

Third time's the charm, right?

After some brainstorming thanks to an exchange of Tweets with Chase Aguiar I've come up with yet another plan... this one intent on conquering "The Hammer" hand we've been dealt.

I'm resilient. And I believe in this team... despite their 2-7 record. I'm also listening to "Fix You" by Coldplay while writing this so I'm feeling inspired. Just go with it.

As it stands this is the NFC East through Week 10:

Overall Record Division Record
New York Giants 5-5 2-2
Washington Redskins 4-5 1-1
Philadelphia Eagles 4-5 2-2
Dallas Cowboys 2-7 2-2

The previous variations of my "plans" have involved winning games without a certain star quarterback. We now know: A) that did not happen B) Tony Romo is expected to return this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins

So while I was trying to cook you guys up a "plan" before... I was using a little battery-powered Easy Bake Oven. This team is now cooking with gas. It's going to be delicious.

Here are the games these teams will play over the next nine days with the dates they're played on in parentheses:

Week 11 Week 12
New York Giants BYE @WASH (11/29)
Washington Redskins @CAR (11/22) NYG (11/29)
Philadelphia Eagles TB (11/22) @DET (11/26)
Dallas Cowboys @MIA (11/22) CAR (11/26)

Here's what we need to happen with wins in green and losses in red:

Week 11 Week 12
New York Giants BYE @WASH (11/29)
Washington Redskins @CAR (11/22) NYG (11/29)
Philadelphia Eagles TB (11/22) @DET (11/26)
Dallas Cowboys @MIA (11/22) CAR (11/26)

Say for the first time in 2015 we were to actually catch a break and have this happen (I purposely did not pick the Giants/Redskins game as that does not happen in the next nine days, don't worry).

Then let's fast forward to Thanksgiving Night when you're listening to Aunt Theresa talk about Facebook, figuring out what you're going to buy on Black Friday, and blah blah blah. This would be the situation:

  • The Dallas Cowboys would be 4-7.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles would be 4-7.
  • The Washington Redskins would be 4-6.
  • The New York Giants would be 5-5.
  • We would be three days away from the Redskins hosting the Giants.

Imagine if the Redskins won that game? Tying themselves with the Giants at 5-6? Oh my.

Then we'd have the Cowboys at 4-7, Eagles at 4-7, Redskins at 5-6, and Giants at 5-6 with this coming up:

Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17
New York Giants NYJ @MIA CAR @MINN PHI
Washington Redskins DAL @CHI BUF @PHI @DAL
Philadelphia Eagles @NE BUF ARI WASH @NYG
Dallas Cowboys @WASH @GB NYJ @BUF WASH

I know that you're digging the color-coded madness going on so I'm going to throw some more at you. All three division teams showed a lot more (both good and bad) in Week 10 that we should consider when predicting their games. Washington likes that, Odell dropped that, and Philadelphia could be without the services of Sam Bradford for some time.

Remember greens are predicted wins, reds are predicted losses, and blues are toss ups. All of these "predictions" are what I feel is fair. Greens are what these teams should win, reds lose, you get the picture.

Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17
New York Giants NYJ @MIA CAR @MINN PHI
Washington Redskins DAL @CHI BUF @PHI @DAL
Philadelphia Eagles @NE BUF ARI WASH @NYG
Dallas Cowboys @WASH @GB NYJ @BUF WASH

Let's assume that both the Cowboys and Giants win one of their respective toss-ups. Let's even assume that Philadelphia wins theirs. Add those up and you've got:

 At The End Of The Regular Season Overall Record Division Record
Dallas Cowboys 8-8 4-2
New York Giants 7-9 3-3
Washington Redskins 7-9 3-3
Philadelphia Eagles 5-11 2-4

NFC East Champs.


If you've managed to read through all of my plans then let me first say - you're the best. Love you. Thanks for being part of the ride.

As a reward for surviving "RJ's Plans" I've gone as far as to just give you a numerical breakdown of what we need if the schedule grid just isn't your cup of tea.

Through the rest of the season we need (however they come):

  • 4 New York Giants Losses
  • 4 Washington Redskins Losses
  • 4 Philadelphia Eagles Losses
  • 6 Dallas Cowboys Victories

It doesn't sound so scary when you say it like that, right? We just need each division team to lose four times and for us to win six. 4+4+4+6 = NFC East Champs.

That's a lot of data to process. The rest here is just straight from the heart.


This season has sucked. A lot.

I've thought a lot about how maybe if we were 2-7 with our full compliment of weapons it wouldn't be as bad... because part of what has sucked is we haven't gotten to watch our favorite players even play this season.

In some ways it feels like the 2015 season hasn't even started. We skated by the Giants in Week 1 - but we lost Dez. "It's all good! As long as Romo's here we've always got a chance!" was on the minds of every Dallas Cowboys fan... only to watch him go down just one week later. It was brutal reading Tony's lips as he said, "It's broken." out in Philadelphia.

If you're like me and you pictured what winning a Super Bowl would this team would feel like you imagined dominating the season and being one of the league's best teams all year long. You also felt the worst that you have in a long time when the Cowboys fell to 2-7 two days ago.

You know what I know in that the odds of pulling this off are slim - for crying out loud this has never even been done before. In a few months we'll all celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Championship Game that no one has ever won after starting 2-7.

How awesome would it be to be the first?

Tony Romo has been the single most important person to the Dallas Cowboys organization in a long time. You could argue that, based on how the team has been without him recently and historically, that the only single influence larger than Tony's has been Tom Landry's.

Yes, the expectation (and this whole series of plans that I've derived) on Tony Romo is extremely unfair... but imagine if he really does pull it off?

It would be unprecedented in NFL, and arguably all of sports, History. It would prove what you and I have believed all along... Tony Romo is one of the best quarterbacks of all-time.

This "plan" is based on what should happen and there has been no larger lesson learned in the 2015 NFL season than that things don't go according to plan.

For as long as I have watched football the best player that I have ever seen at adapting to things not going to plan is Tony Romo.

So yea, we've been dealt this unfortunate 2-7 hand.

Yea... it has been torture to watch these losses mount up.

It has been two of the more frustrating months in Dallas Cowboys History.

I've now searched for an answer through three different plans. I don't know the future.

One thing that I do know is that if there is anyone on this planet who can turn this 2-7 hand into something special... it's Tony Romo.

That's our quarterback.


RJ Ochoa on Fancred

~ Follow RJ Ochoa on Fancred ~

What's keeping your hopes alive for the 2015 Dallas Cowboys? Email me your thoughts at Roel.Ochoa.Jr@Gmail.com or Tweet to me @rjochoa!

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Dealt 2-7 Hand: How To Make It Work" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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Star Blog

If You Could Only Pay One: Ezekiel Elliott Vs. Byron Jones

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys en Español: Proyectando el Roster de 53 Jugadores 2
James D. Smith via AP

Let me first start by saying this is not the case. The Cowboys can find ways to pay both Ezekiel Elliott and Byron Jones over the next two offseasons, securing leaders on each side of the ball.

But last week a couple of Twitter polls got me very interested in this topic, and I wanted to expand on my thoughts.

It all started when longtime Cowboys reporter Mike Fisher wrote that as the Cowboys look to sign their own free agents, Byron Jones will likely be the one who gets squeezed out. So while Elliott, Dak Prescott, DeMarcus Lawrence, Amari Cooper, and Jaylon Smith remain with the team, Jones will likely be off to find a new home.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

if you can only pay one it should be

I put up this poll, pitting Jones against Elliott, and Jones came out as the winner. My colleague John Williams put out the same poll, but with Elliott running away for the victory.

John Williams ✭ on Twitter

Inspired by my teammate @KevinBrady88, if you can only pay one, which would it be?

His had many more votes, which likely makes his poll a bit more representative of the fan base's feelings (which reminds me, follow me on Twitter @KevinBrady88.) Plus, I have been carrying the Byron Jones flag for quite some time, so it's possible my followers are biased towards Jones.

Either way, let's examine the situation here.

On one hand is Ezekiel Elliott. The former fourth overall selection in 2016, Elliott has led the league in rushing two of his first three seasons in the NFL. While this is true, his ability (and usage) as a receiver deserves to be questioned, and his lack of touchdown production in comparison to some other elite-level backs is concerning as well.

Yes, this is not totally his fault, as Scott Linehan and an overall lack of offensive weapons outside of Elliott have handcuffed him a bit. But if we are going to place the blame for his faults onto others, then we should at least attribute some of his excellent raw rushing totals simply to opportunities.

Elliott carried the ball 304 times in 15 games, averaging 20.3 rush attempts per game. The next closet player in terms of total carries? Saquon Barkley, who carried it 261 times in 16 games, averaging 16.3 rushes per game. That's a massive gap.

No individual running back is taking the wear and tear that Elliott is on a per game basis. And while it helps make his raw rushing totals look outstanding, it is also likely hurting his shelf life as an elite runner in the NFL.

The main argument I received supporting paying Elliott over Byron Jones was that while cornerback is more important than running back in a vacuum, Elliott is such a special player that his importance is greater than that of a normal running back.

Maybe. But let's talk about how special Byron Jones is and can be.

Kevin Brady on Twitter

Kevin Brady on Twitter

https://t.co/3wwkpl4qM7

Jones' spider chart puts him in elite company, with the likes of Jalen Ramsey, Antonio Cromartie, and Terence Newman. Except, Jones was even more athletic that each of these Pro Bowl caliber cornerbacks.

Cornerbacks with the athletic profile that Byron Jones has rarely ever miss, and most of the time they reach an All Pro level. This is exactly what Jones did in 2018, getting named second team All Pro and to his first Pro Bowl in the same season. Both these honors also came during his first season as a full-time cornerback. Imagine what his ceiling can look like as he continues to work with Kris Richard and get more comfortable in his permanent home.

There's no doubt that Jones struggled a bit more in December last year than he did in September, but he was playing at a pace few players ever have played at or kept up over a long period of time. Even accounting for these "struggles," Jones was graded as the sixth best cornerback in all of football by Pro Football Focus. Elliott, on the other hand, had his overall value questioned by PFF.

Of course PFF is not the be-all-end-all here, but it's certainly a piece of the argument. Both Elliott and Jones will command top money at their position whenever it is their turn to get signed. The Cowboys have struggled for years to find themselves a number one cornerback. Despite paying Brandon Carr big money and trading up for Morris Claiborne, it simply hasn't worked. Really since Newman began aging, they haven't gotten that guy.

On the other hand, Dallas produced two 1,000 yard rushers back-to-back seasons before Elliott even became a Cowboy. Running back is a more replaceable position at the top than cornerback is, and if Dallas believes that Jones should be considered "at the top" of his position group, than the choice between the two becomes clear.

I will say, however, that there is a human element to this as well. Elliott is a clear leader on this team, and if the Cowboys strong-armed him out of town, it could have serious implications across the roster. Jason Garett loves Zeke, Jerry Jones loves Zeke, and quarterback Dak Prescott loves Zeke.

Zeke is going to get paid by the Cowboys, I have no doubts or issues with that, but if all these guys getting paid squeezes an All Pro corner out of town, that could bite this franchise in the butt down the line.



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Jason Garrett Has Hard Road Ahead in Contract Year

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Report: Jason Garrett "Not Going Anywhere" with Possible Extension Coming Soon 1

It seems like every year we talk about how hot is Jason Garrett's seat. This year though, it will be one of the biggest storylines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys. Garrett will enter the 2019 season without an extension. However you feel about the Cowboys head coach, being in a contract year automatically means dealing with low job security.

What is clear though is that Garrett's contract year might be a difficult one.

First of all, the Dallas Cowboys haven't managed to get their superstar 26-year old pass rusher signed to a long term deal. DeMarcus Lawrence has made it clear that he will not play under the tag and until a contract is signed, he'll even postpone his pending shoulder surgery.

Cowboys Nation is hoping to see D-Law get his long term deal before it's too late, and as we know, the Cowboys want to sign him. Who wouldn't? But there's a reason it hasn't happened yet and if this drags out, it won't be good for the team. Jason Garrett can't be happy about not having his best defensive player ready to work.

Kellen Moore, Jason Garrett, Dak Prescott

Rather than an unfortunate situation, this feels more like a bold approach by Garrett. After firing Scott Linehan, the Cowboys promoted Kellen Moore to offensive coordinator. Moore's potential has since been praised by players and coaches around the country and I'm actually excited about what he can bring to the table. But he's still a rookie OC. Young coaches like Sean McVay have taken the league by storm but it still feels like a bold move by Garrett to put Moore in this position. This was undoubtedly a Jason Garrett move and it only makes sense for the Cowboys to let him put together his own staff before the season.

Under the "Cowboys are one player away" narrative, many believed a big free agency signing was bound to happen in Dallas. Specifically, the discussion revolved around one of the newest members of the Baltimore Ravens, Safety Earl Thomas. So far, though, it's been same old, same old for the Cowboys during the start of free agency. Top free agents are off the shelves and Dallas has been pretty quiet so far.

Also worth noting is that the Cowboys will not have a first round pick during the 2019 NFL Draft. Now granted, that first round pick they don't have was worth it thanks to Amari Cooper's arrival but it's still a difficult situation for a football team that has many needs, including one at wide receiver after letting Cole Beasley leave for the Buffalo Bills.

A potential holdout by DeMarcus Lawrence, a rookie offensive coordinator, no splash in free agency and no first round pick... Jason Garrett's approach to his contract year certainly seems like a risky one. Not to mention this is only what we're talking about now. What if Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott or Cooper decide to holdout (even if it's just for a while and eventually come back)? Hopefully this isn't the case, but with the way things go in the NFL today it wouldn't be a surprise.

The Dallas Cowboys will play in an NFC East that might sound like an easy division but surprises happen every single year. If Jason Garrett manages to lead his team to a successful season under such circumstances, he should earn the respect of many fans that want him out of the picture. The question will of course be: "How much does he needs to accomplish to keep his job?" Will making it to the playoffs be enough? Or will he need to make a bigger statement?

Tell me what you think about "Jason Garrett Has Hard Road Ahead in Contract Year" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Would Cowboys Trade Joe Looney if the Saints Came Calling?

Brian Martin

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Would Cowboys Trade Joe Looney if the Saints Came Calling?

The hits keep coming for the New Orleans Saints. Not only are their fans extremely disappointed in the way the Saints 2018 season ended, and rightfully so, but now they have to deal with the fact that one of their best offensive players has decided to retire. Ouch!

Field Yates on Twitter

Source: Saints C Max Unger has retired. Wow.

No matter how you slice it, Max Unger's decision to retire is a huge blow to the Saints offense. The three-time Pro Bowl center is still one of the best in the game at his position and he's a huge reason why New Orleans has been so successful on the offensive side of the ball since he joined the team in 2015.

Unger's ability to keep the middle of the pocket from collapsing on Quarterback Drew Brees, while also blocking for Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram in the running game is the lifeblood of the Saints offense. Without him, the entire offense could be in trouble. Finding someone to step in and fill those huge shoes won't be easy.

As luck would have it, the Dallas Cowboys may have the answer to their problems. Joe Looney had to step in and replace Travis Frederick, another one of the top centers in the NFL, and filled in admirably during his absence. He could do the same thing for the New Orleans Saints.

With Frederick set to return to the Cowboys starting lineup in 2019, Looney suddenly becomes nothing more than a backup C/G once again. Because of that, he could become expendable, making him an intriguing tradable asset for teams looking for a starting caliber offensive lineman with versatility to play any interior position. This could be exactly the kind of player the Saints are targeting.

Unfortunately for New Orleans, they don't have a lot of draft capital in the 2019 NFL Draft to find a starting caliber center. Like the Cowboys, they don't have a first-round pick this year and don't make their first selection until the second-round. After that, they don't have another draft pick until the fifth-round. This further complicates replacing Unger as well as trading for anyone, such as Joe Looney.

It's highly unlikely the Saints are willing to part ways with their second-round pick and the Cowboys would probably want more for Joe Looney than a fifth-rounder. Looney after all has proven to be a serviceable starter, which is probably more valuable for Dallas considering the unknown about Travis Frederick's health moving forward.

So, even if the New Orleans Saints picked up the phone and called the Dallas Cowboys to acquire about trading for Joe Looney, I just don't think the two teams would be able to come together on trade compensation. I guess that means we can put this potential trade rumor to bed.



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