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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.


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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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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. BleedBlue&Silver

    November 17, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Great work, first time I’ve read any of your articles and will definitely read more. It’s definitely possible, granted we need alot of things to go our way.If the defense can play (not great but decent) like they have without Romo, I believe Romo can put up enough points to win these last 7 games. Heck we shouldve went 6-1 without Romo but that over and done with. So now we move forward with at least a chance which in the NFL is all you can ask for.

    • RJ Ochoa

      RJ Ochoa

      November 17, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Thanks so much, Jarrad!

      I totally agree. Offensively we’re going to be fine, stellar at moments, and passable (no pun intended). I think this defense is meant to play from ahead so if we can get the lead I think they’ll finally be able to rush the passer the way we all fantasized about in the offseason.

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Star Blog

Jason Garrett Can’t be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?

Brian Martin

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Jason Garrett Can't be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?

One of the few positives most of us were looking forward to after the Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams was the fact that Scott Linehan would no longer be the offensive coordinator for America's Team. Everything was pointing to his dismissal, but that may not be the case according to Head Coach Jason Garrett.

Todd Archer on Twitter

Jason Garrett said on 105.3 The Fan that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will return in 2019. "We don't anticipate any significant changes on our staff," Garrett said.

I can't say that I was happy upon learning Jason Garrett plans on retaining Scott Linehan as the Cowboys OC in 2019. In fact, my first thought was… Well, something better left unsaid. I'm sure many of you can kind of read my mind, because I'm pretty positive you had all that the same thoughts running through your head as well.

In all honesty, I didn't think there was a snowball chance in hell Scott Linehan would return to Dallas after the conclusion of the 2018 season. After all, the Cowboys nearly fired him during the bye week earlier this season, meaning his job security was already on thin ice. He didn't do anything to improve things in my opinion.

I know Jason Garrett has said Scott Linehan will return as the OC in 2019, but not for a second do I believe it. We are less than 72 hours hours removed from the Cowboys exit from the playoffs and I highly doubt any of Dallas' decision-makers has had the time to sit down and discuss who stays and who goes. In fact, I know they haven't.

Jeff Cavanaugh on Twitter

Stephen Jones says they won't comment on anything with coaching staff but that they need to take a deep look at why they fell short. Says it a little early to speculate about players or coaches. They haven't had a meeting about it yet.

I think once the Cowboys brass sits down and reevaluates the 2018 season, they will come to the conclusion they can do better than Scott Linehan as their offensive coordinator. There were just too many times throughout the season where the playcalling was a problem just. It's just time to move on, despite the vote of confidence by Jason Garrett.

Of course, this could just be me trying to read between the lines hoping and praying Scott Linehan is finally fired. Like many of you, I've grown way too tired of his predictable and dated playcalling. It's time to move on and find someone more innovative who can maximize the talent the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster, much like Kris Richard did with the defense.

You can either choose to believe Jason Garrett or not. I for one have a hard time seeing the Dallas Cowboys staying status quo with their coaching staff, especially their offensive coordinator. But, only time will tell.

Do you think it's time for the Dallas Cowboys to fire Scott Linehan?



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Star Blog

Cowboys Rammed Out of Playoffs but 2019 is Bright

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Cowboys Rammed Out of Playoffs but 2019 is Bright

If you were to have clicked over to Sportsbook Review, you could have seen what all the premier online sportsbooks were dealing on the Cowboys/Rams game before kickoff. Sites like Bovada, which incidentally you can read a Bovada Review at Sportsbook Review as well, had the Rams favored in every quarter, in both halves, and installed LA as seven-point favorites over Dallas. As is often the case, the number was nearly spot on as the Rams bounced our 'Boys out of the postseason 30-22. It was a heart-wrenching loss for Dallas fans everywhere but for those who put their money where their mouths were, it was particularly painful in what turned out to be a one-point difference between losing and pushing.

Let’s look on the bright side, though. The Cowboys not only copped the division crown but the draft picks from April bore fruit this season. Linebacker and No. 19 overall pick Leighton Vander Esch is a certified stud while third-round pick Michael Gallup proved he is a bona fide NFL receiver. Second-round offensive lineman Connor Williams had difficulties at left guard, but at the very least, has a season under his belt at the next level and could turn into a legitimate bodyguard for Prescott in 2019.

And let’s not forget about the trade for Amari Cooper, which turned Dallas from a squad struggling to find its identity to an NFC East champ in winning seven of its last nine games since Cooper arrived. This year’s edition also bested a tough Seahawks team in the first-round of the playoffs.

Let’s face it, folks, no one expected the Cowboys to win a Super Bowl this season and what we got was about as much as we could have hoped with the current roster as it is presently constructed.

Dak Prescott has one more year on his rookie contract and will be looking to score a big payday at the end of next season, if not sooner. The Cowboys could enter negotiations and lock Prescott up for the foreseeable future, but it might be best for both parties to see what 2019 brings and go from there. Either way, Dallas will pay beaucoup bucks to keep Prescott in a Cowboys uniform so watching and waiting will most likely be the tact management takes with their star quarterback, with a franchise tag in 2020 as an option as well.

In the team’s immediate future will be signing their second-round pick in 2014, DeMarcus Lawrence. The talented defensive end provided the Cowboys with the edge rusher they needed for parts of this season and his combined 25 sacks over the last two seasons would be nearly impossible to replace. Dallas franchised him this season but will most likely put together a long-term deal for Lawrence in the offseason.

Ezekiel Elliott has also reportedly been hinting at his own contract extension even though he is contractually committed to the Cowboys for next season with a team option in '20.

Ironically, one of the strengths of the Dallas Cowboys in recent years was a relatively weak link this season. The offensive line was decimated by injuries and Pro Bowler Travis Frederick missed the entire season. But those wounds will heal for next season and the old gang will be back together again.

The Cowboys have loads of cap space but are without a first-round pick due to the trade for Amari Cooper. Nevertheless, the young blood on the team looks poised to contribute for many years and there will be money available to woo free agents to a club now viewed as a legitimate contender.

If you want to look at next season’s odds, make sure to educate yourself on which online sportsbooks are the most reputable, trusted, and reliable. Read the Bovada Review over at SBR and see what customers are saying about one of the industry’s top sportsbooks. Then, when the lines come out on next season’s division, conference, and Super Bowl winners, you can be informed and maybe throw a few bucks on the 'Boys from Dallas!



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Star Blog

Cowboys’ Window Depends On Maximizing, And Helping, Dak Prescott

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Future Hinges Heavily On Dak Prescott And Their Future Offensive Coordinator

Saturday night's Division Round loss was met with mixed reaction among Cowboys Nation.

Some fans, claiming they are the rational ones who hold the Cowboys to a higher standard, believe this might end up being their best chance at a Super Bowl for some time. The young players this roster is built around will only get older and more expensive as the years go by, and 2018 ends with yet another Jason Garrett-led playoff loss.

Other fans, claiming they are the rational ones, said that Dallas accomplished a lot this season, climbing back from a 3-5 start to win the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a competitive game to one of the league's best. This group believes that the Cowboys championship window is as open as it has been in years, with young talent galore on Dallas' roster.

Whether this is true, however, hinges on the shoulders of two individuals. One of which, ironically, hasn't even been named yet and the other a source of constant debate among those same segmented fans.

Those people, of course, are quarterback Dak Prescott and whoever ends up as the offensive coordinator in 2019.

Dak Prescott is a good quarterback.

Let's start there. I firmly believe that Dak Prescott did enough during his third season to earn the contract extension he will likely receive from the Cowboys within one of the next two offseasons. Especially once the Cowboys acquired wide receiver Amari Cooper.

Clearly, Prescott is far from "perfect" is a passer. He makes mistakes in decision making, he sails some throws, and he sometimes exhibits inconsistent footwork when the pocket breaks down. But we focus too much on his mistakes while simply glossing over his accomplishments, talents, and upside.

Not only is Dak Prescott someone that the team responds to and believes in, but he is also a good football player. Prescott finished the 2018 season 12th in total Expected Points Added, ahead of quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Baker Mayfield. He's also finished 3rd and 4th in raw QBR during his first two seasons in the NFL respectively. And, despite his slow start to 2018, Dak Prescott ended his third season on the best run of games in terms of QBR he has ever had.

Prescott is improving, and this is evident each week. He played more comfortably in the pocket over the last 6 games of the season, panicking less, taking fewer dumb sacks, and abandoning his technique fewer and fewer. And, while he doesn't run as often as many would like, the times Prescott does carry the ball often change drives and games.

And while I despise "QB Wins" as a determining statistic, the fact remains that bad quarterbacks don't win at the rate Dak Prescott does. Three straight winning seasons has been rare in Dallas over the last 15 years, and Prescott orchestrated this his first three seasons as a starter.

Passing Wins Championships.

Though very different than the old cliche, this appears more accurate by the season. The final four teams remaining in the NFL are each top 5 in passing DVOA, while not a single one has a top 10 defense by DVOA.

Neither the Chiefs nor the Rams have had a good run defense at all this season, but stopping the run doesn't matter as much as stopping the pass most weeks in today's NFL. I know this sounds absurd after the Cowboys run defense got abused by Los Angeles, but the numbers often bear this out.

The Cowboys have to do everything in their power to aid Dak Prescott and the passing offense this offseason. They need to draft another pass catcher, preferably with their second round pick. They need to continue to improve the chemistry between Prescott, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.

And, maybe most importantly, they need to hire an offensive coordinator who can maximize this passing game.

Scott Linehan simply is not the answer. And if the Cowboys are going to make the most out of whatever title window they may have, the offensive play caller will be the most critical man in the building going forward.

Unfortunately, latest reports point to Linehan returning in 2019.



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