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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!

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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
  • BleedBlue&Silver

    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

      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.

Star Blog

Will Ryan Switzer see an Increased Offensive Role in 2018?

Brian Martin

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Will Ryan Switzer see an Increased Offensive Role in 2018?

The Dallas Cowboys clearly had a specific role in mind for Ryan Switzer when they drafted him 133rd overall in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Come to find out, that role didn’t include being involved much on the offensive side of the ball, at least not as a rookie.

After watching the way the Cowboys utilized Ryan Switzer in 2017, it’s pretty obvious the sole purpose he was drafted was to improve the special-teams play in the return game.

They clearly didn’t envision him being a part of the game plan on offense, despite the continuous outcry from fans.

Like most rookies, Ryan Switzer didn’t really get off to a fast start, and took a while to get used to the speed of the NFL. But, once he calmed his nerves and regained his confidence, he proved to be an upgrade in the return game.

Switzer ended up ranking third in kickoff returns, averaging 25 yards per return in 2017 and 12th in punt returns with almost 9 yards per return.

He also became the first Dallas Cowboys player to return a punt for a touchdown since 2013. He accomplished this against the Washington Redskins, in Week 13 when he took an 83-yarder to the house.

Surprisingly enough, using Ryan Switzer solely as a return specialist wasn’t enough for a lot of Cowboys Nation. A lot of fans wanted to see his talents utilized more on the offensive side of the ball as well, but were only left disappointed.

Ryan Switzer

Dallas Cowboys WR Ryan Switzer

Getting Switzer involved in the offensive game plan just wasn’t in the cards in 2017.

He only managed to catch six passes for 41 yards and rushed four times for 5 yards. This isn’t exactly what Cowboys fans envisioned after hearing Switzer was opening a lot eyes in training camp and organized team activities (OTAs). That was the main problem.

He was hyped up so much heading into the season that fans expected to see him involved much more on offense.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, had something else in mind, but I doubt that’s the case for the upcoming 2018 season.

I really think we’re going to see an increased role for Ryan Switzer next season.

The Cowboys coaching staff should have a much better understanding of his strengths and weaknesses now that he has a year in the system under his belt. And, they’ve seen firsthand how explosive he can be with the ball in his hands.

What the Cowboys coaching staff will have to determine this offseason is just how big of a role Switzer will have next year.

Should Switzer take Cole Beasley‘s job?

Cole Beasley, like the rest of the Cowboys receivers, had a down year in 2017. We shouldn’t assume that his job is safe, especially with someone like Ryan Switzer waiting in the wings. But, is Switzer ready to take over full-time?

Tough decisions will have to be made eventually, but such is life in the NFL.

Will Ryan Switzer see an increased offensive role in 2018?

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Will Terrance Williams be Back with Cowboys in 2018?

Brian Martin

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Will Terrance Williams be Back with Cowboys in 2018?

Each offseason tough decisions have to be made by teams around the NFL, and the Dallas Cowboys are no exception. Teams have to decide who to promote, who to demote, and who to cut ties with altogether. For the Cowboys, Terrance Williams fits into one of those three categories, but which one?

It was plainly obvious that the Dallas Cowboys wide receivers all had an extremely disappointing 2017 season.

Everybody has their own opinion as to why this happened, but one thing is for sure, the Cowboys coaching staff will definitely look at ways to get more out of their receiving core. The one player who I think could be affected most by whatever decision the coaching staff ends up making is Terrance Williams.

Williams didn’t do much to make a case for keeping his starting job in 2017, let alone sticking on the roster.

To say he had a disappointing season would be an understatement.

Williams finished the 2017 season with just 53 receptions for 568 receiving yards and absolutely zero touchdowns. The Cowboys were likely hoping for more production from someone they just signed to a four-year, $17-million contract extension back in March [2017].

Now, you can make the argument Williams took a team discount in order to stay in Dallas, but that doesn’t carry much weight when your production leaves so much to be desired. This is especially true when there might be somebody on the roster who can do just as well, and possibly be an upgrade.

Noah Brown

Dallas Cowboys WR Noah Brown (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Yes, if you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m talking about Noah Brown.

I know I’m not alone here, but I think Noah Brown could easily replace Terrance Williams’ production. I understand that there’s not much evidence to back up that statement based on Brown’s rookie season, but he has all the tools required to succeed.

This is really all about potential, and Noah Brown simply has more upside than Terrance Williams.

We all know what Terrance Williams is as a receiver, and what he brings to the table for the Cowboys offense. I believe Noah Brown can do all the things Williams does and has the potential to be even better.

I already think Noah Brown is a better blocker, something the Cowboys coaching staff really values about Williams. I also think Brown is a better pass catcher. He is a natural hands catcher and has a large catching radius, something Williams obviously isn’t (body catcher).

Right now, Williams is only better than Noah Brown in a few areas. He is slightly faster, he’s more advanced as a route runner, and has more experience. That’s about it.

This will obviously be a tough decision for the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff to make. But, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if we see Terrance Williams playing somewhere else when the 2018 season kicks off.

Do you think Terrance Williams will be with the Cowboys in 2018?

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Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?

Sean Martin

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Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 3

Three of the four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs — a win away from the Super Bowl — ranked within the top four defensively in yards per game allowed this season. The other is the defending-champion New England Patriots, who of course were expected to reach yet another AFC Championship game, thanks to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

Somewhere between this field, losing their 2017 hopes at a deep playoff run to injuries, suspensions, and just poor execution at times, are the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys ranked eighth in yards allowed per game at 318.1 this season.

On the surface, all this provides hope that typically springs eternal around the league through the offseason.

It has been far too long since the Cowboys defense matched the skill level of the team’s offense, but Rod Marinelli’s unit (not exactly by design) outplayed that of Scott Linehan’s at times through this 9-7 campaign.

This defensive rebuild in Dallas began with the admission that this group had reached their ceiling in the offseason, as the Cowboys let long-time starters like CB Morris Claiborne, CB Brandon Carr, S Barry Church (now with the Jaguars), and S J.J. Wilcox go in free agency.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense?

Dallas Cowboys CB Jourdan Lewis, CB Chidobe Awuzie, S Xavier Woods (AP Photo / Ron Jenkins)

For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, looking to turn over an entire secondary in a division featuring Carson Wentz, Eli Manning, and Kirk Cousins as quickly as the Cowboys did was a risky move. Their confidence in hitting on draft picks paid off though.

The Cowboys’ bright future is predicated on the likes of CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Jourdan Lewis, and S Xavier Woods.

With two young starters at cornerback, the sky truly is the limit the this Cowboys defense. And they’ll play in support of an offense with more than enough talent to return to form in 2018.

As it stands now under Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys defense is built to keep everything in front of them, and get bodies to the football. This coverage-friendly approach could be taken to new heights with Lewis and Awuzie on the outside, along with Anthony Brown finding a home in the slot. All three cornerbacks have excelled at using their speed, length, and technique to get their hands on passes.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 1

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

Of course, games are won in the trenches, where the idea of the Cowboys defensive line ever rising to the level of their offensive line was laughable until recently. Whether it’s with the franchise tag or a long-term extension, sack-artist DeMarcus Lawrence looks to be an all-important member of this entire team moving forward.

A healthy Lawrence was a nightmare for opposing right tackles in 2017. He earned a national spotlight each week on his way to the quarterback 14-and-a-half times. Making it look easy at times, Lawrence is a refined rusher with the speed and power to win inside and out.

The RDE position remains a sore spot in need of talent as this Cowboys defense looks to take the next step, but there’s hope for the likes of Randy Gregory, Charles Tapper, and Taco Charlton to get the job done, along with veteran starter Tyrone Crawford.

With Crawford at RDE for much of 2017, running the ball against the Cowboys front was a tall order. His ability to capture the corner against left tackles came as a pleasant surprise to many, and once in position, the defensive captain chased down plenty of plays.

Tyrone Crawford wasn’t the only pleasant surprise on the Dallas Cowboys defensive line this season.

Rookie Taco Charlton looked like an entirely different player to close a first year in Dallas that began with completely uninspiring results. Charlton — having the physical traits to play at the next level — was never a question out of Michigan.

He may never be a player to take over games for a defense, which the Cowboys couldn’t have expected to find at DE selecting 28th overall, but an improved player at DE and DT could be an incredibly valuable asset for the Cowboys in 2018 and beyond.

This leaves the Cowboys linebacker corps, where we find the best example of young potential on the entire defense. Amazingly playing in all 16 games, LB Jaylon Smith is in line to take a massive step forward in year two.

Smith closed his season looking enticingly close to the player he was at Notre Dame, an encouraging sign as the Cowboys look to become less dependent on Sean Lee on this side of the ball.

Lee and Smith paired together would give the Cowboys a middle-of-the-field presence to rival the best in the league. Both players have exceptional range and awareness to run down plays from sideline to sideline.

Anthony Hitchens, an impending free agent, is another valuable piece at LB with his ready ability to play all three positions at a relatively high level.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 2

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

Stefon Diggs racing to the end zone with no time left to send the Vikings to the NFC Championship game will be the lasting image of this past Divisional Round weekend, an offensive play that will live on forever.

A closer look at these games and the teams that survived them reveals a collective trust in defenses, a trust the Cowboys could be blissfully close to with their own young defense.

The Cowboys are likely losing one of the smarter minds behind their defense in recent years, with Matt Eberflus ticketed for Josh McDaniel’s staff, and are still in need of a secondary coach after not retaining Joe Baker. In a league where better talent typically prevails though, the possibility of the Cowboys building a championship defense for next season and beyond may not be far off.

With defenses in Jacksonville and Philadelphia providing the hope that both teams can pull off the impossible and reach the Super Bowl on Sunday, will defensive potential be enough for Dallas to get through this long offseason and start the even longer path back to their first NFC Championship game in 21 seasons?

Tell us what you think about “Are the Dallas Cowboys Building a Championship Defense?” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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