Hello one and all!
Welcome to the Dallas Cowboys Honors show in relation to the 2015 NFL season. The NFL has its own "NFL Honors" show that they'll have on Saturday night and they think they're cool just because it's on tv and there'll be players there and it's an actual show, but this one is better!
We're here to re-live the 2015 season and give out some handy (sorry Jason Pierre-Paul) awards to those who earned them. The academy has carefully assessed each award, nominee, and outfit for this whole dealio and I promise that you won't be disappointed.
This is absolutely not a black tie affair so your hoodie and sweatpants will work. Unfortunately there is underwear required so we had to rescind Joseph Randle's invitation. Maybe next year, 21!
Flash photography is permitted, and I will be signing autographs after the show; however I've put Eli Manning in charge of the timing of it all so who knows if it'll even happen...
Seriously though, who's excited? I see plenty of faces in the crowd that I recognize. Hey everyone... Chip Kelly is here! So Chip, how much of your life have you devoted to finding a "Dale" to run around with? And if you found him would you trade him away? Also would you consider yourself more of a chocolate or potato chip? I've always wanted to know.
Oh I should mention... don't be alarmed at that constant pounding sound. It's just Johnny Manziel and Robert Griffin III scratching and clawing at the Dallas Cowboys door. Before you know it it'll be gone, just like their careers. Hey-o!
I was going to break into a song and dance routine for you guys like the opening to the Tonys, but I choreographed the whole thing with DeSean Jackson and he kept stepping out too early! It was so frustrating. There were fireworks involved and everything (sorry again, JPP).
WHO'S READY FOR SOME AWARDS?! Brandon Weeden might even win one, absolutely not, so things are about to get saucy. Dallas Cowboys Honors is officially underway!
Merlin Olsen Award
This isn't your typical awards show, folks.
The "Merlin Olsen Award" is going out to the Dallas Cowboys who had the greatest name on the team in 2015. It's appropriately named after Merlin Olsen because how freaking cool is that name?
In terms of the award... it's a tough one. Are we going off of just the first name, just the last, or the whole ensemble? If King Jerruh was picking he might go with one of the Joneses (Byron or Chris), but that's too boring for us.
Dez is so much fun to say, and it's great for puns. Tyrone is a pain to type in my iPhone because it always gets corrected, Terrance is so many syllables, and LaDouceur is a nightmare to spell.
We had to start this show off right and with the right type of wind in our sails... like a great opening kickoff return. For something like that we don't have to look any further than Lucky #13.
WINNER: Lucky Whitehead
Taylor Swift Award
If you know me at all then you know I rock out quite a bit to T-Swizzle, but I'm not at all here to deny that the girl's got some trouble getting over dudes.
Close your eyes and think about someone who you once loved, but grew up and moved on from. Think about how they, in a state of disarray, completely collapsed and found themselves in a downward spiral of utter failure.
You can go talk to your friends named Jeff Lurie, talk to my friends named Tony Romo, or talk to me all you want. I honestly don't care what Dez Bryant says, DeMarco. We are never ever ever getting back together.
WINNER: DeMarco Murray
A Goofy Movie Award
There are a ton of great Disney movies.
There's Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, the list goes on and on. You know what's a dark horse contender for best all-time, though? A Goofy Movie.
Look past the good times had with my pal Goofy and his son Max and search deep in your memory to remember that this movie had songs by Tevin Campbell! We need to remember that for the rest of time!
It really is impressive that AGM is its own juggernaut in a land of them, kind of like this winner. There was a ton of hype about this team's defensive line going into the season, remember? We all expected guys like Greg Hardy, Randy Gregory, and DeMarcus Lawrence to do their thang... but someone else stepped in and stole the show pretty frequently (like with a blocked field goal!) a la my main man Goof.
WINNER: David Irving
For the last ten years or so I've heard people besmirch the name Nickelback when it comes to the music scene. People hate these dudes so much that in 2011 Detroit Lions fans put together a petition to prevent them from performing at halftime of their Thanksgiving game. Who else is shocked that Lions fans knew what a petition was?
Hating these dudes is suuuuch a popular opinion. It's cool to hate them. Well you know what, hating is mean.
If you went back in time to the wee beginnings of the 2015 Dallas Cowboys season you'd find a large number of people directing a Nickelback-like hatred to a certain running back. This particular ball carrier happened to finish 4th in the entire NFL in rushing yards in the face of all that doubt/hate and put together a pretty impressive resume for the season in the process.
Sing it out loud, Nickelback. Tell the world about our next victor!
WINNER: Darren McFadden
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Award
If you have not seen Episode VII by now, well I'm going to have to ask you to leave.
Just kidding! Come back!
The Force Awakens was one of the most hyped movies that we've had hit the silver screens of the last decade. There was a ton of pressure for it to live up to the great name and reputation of the Star Wars films, so it really had to deliver.
For all those that have seen the film you know as well as I do that it was fan-freaking-tastic. It was everything that we wanted it to be and more... just like the Dallas Cowboys first round draft pick.
WINNER: Byron Jones
Mambo Number 5 Award
"1... 2... 3, 4, 5." That kind of describes the mentality behind the shuffling of starters in at a certain position for the Dallas Cowboys in 2015, doesn't it?
We really could have used a little bit of Sandra in the sun at the most important position in sports all season, but it just wasn't meant to be. It seemed like week after week we saw Matt Cassel "jump up and down, move it around, shake his hand to the sound, put his hand to the ground, take one step left, one step right, one to the front, and one to the side" all before he'd just throw another interception. It hurts to even remember, that's how bad it was.
Lou Bega might have thought he was singing about some lovely ladies, but he was really singing about damsels Weeden, Cassel, and Moore.
WINNER: Dallas Cowboys Quarterbacks Not Named Tony Romo
Jason Pierre-Paul Award
You saw me take some opening shots at a certain New York Giant in my "opening monologue" and you know what, I'm doing it again! Welcome to Dallas Cowboys Honors!
It's no secret that this dude has hands worse than a certain Little Giant named Rasheed "Hot Hands" Hanon. Come on, that made you giggle and you know it.
None of us were giggling when opposing quarterbacks were throwing on us. You know why? The only defensive backs to record at least one interception for the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 were Terrance Mitchell and Ayodeji Olatoye... not exactly the elite secondary we planned on out in Oxnard.
What's particularly sad about this is that the Cowboys went from December 4th, 2014 all the way to December 19th, 2015 without an interception from a defensive back. You're safe now, JPP. That's no cause for fireworks. But you still have pretty terrible hands like our winner(s).
WINNER: Dallas Cowboys Secondary
Rocky Road Ice Cream Award
How many people in the audience have ever had a day full of blues and gotten themselves a nice scoop of Rocky Road to help ease their troubles?
If you didn't raise your hand you're lying because we all experienced 2015 together.
Last season was a complete and total disaster, but like rocky road ice cream there were a few neat little surprises inside. We walked out of the season with Byron Jones and La'el Collins as bonafide studs, Jason Witten over a thousand career receptions, and with a brand new color rush jersey!
While it's no cookies and cream like 2014, rocky road sums up our year pretty nicely.
WINNER: 2015 Dallas Cowboys
Tony Romo Award
As they say in the biz, you've gotta save the best for last.
2015 was literally the opposite of everything that we hoped, dreamed, and wanted from our football season. We were robbed of the experience that everyone deserves when they sit on their couch on Sunday to enjoy the thing that we love most in this world.
You know who's been robbed like that a lot? Tony Romo.
He was robbed of the opportunity to be drafted, robbed of any credit from his detractors early in his career, and just like us Tony was robbed of eventual glory in 2015.
There's one thing that we all know deep within our hearts... every time Tony Romo's been "robbed" in his life he's responded and gone farther than anyone ever said or thought that he could.
That's our 2016. That's our destiny. That's our quarterback.
WINNER: 2016 Dallas Cowboys & Cowboys Nation
That concludes the first Dallas Cowboys Honors! I hope you all had as much fun as I did. I'll be hosting an afterparty on Twitter where I'll dish out all the drama that happened backstage (I almost spilled water on my keyboard... it was scary).
The next time we do one of these awards we'll have a pinata in the shape of a 2015 that we can all "vent" with. Hooray for pinatas!
The countdown to next year's Dallas Cowboys Honors is already on.
Make sure to bring snacks.
Peace out, enjoy the Super Bowl, and Go Cowboys!
Geoff Swaim Needs Surgery, Should the Cowboys even use a Tight End?
Well, the injury woes continue to mount for the Dallas Cowboys with news coming down this evening that Tight End Geoff Swaim broke a bone in his wrist in the 22-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The injury will need surgery which will mean Swaim will be out a while, if not for the rest of the season.
Geoff Swaim broke a bone in his wrist yesterday and is going to need surgery. Sounds like it might not be season-ending, but he won't be available Thursday #cowboyswire
In previous seasons this wouldn't be much of a blow to the offense, but Geoff Swaim has been the only tight end that the Cowboys have ben able to rely on this season. Dalton Schultz is a rookie, Blake Jarwin's been inconsistent, and Rico Gathers still isn't fully trusted. With the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan's insistence on using a tight end, it seems there's a huge hole at the position heading into Sunday's first place showdown with the Washington Redskins.
But in reality, is there?
For weeks, I've been screaming for this team to use more 10 personnel (one running back and zero tight ends) as its primary passing formation because it gets their best pass catching weapons on the field at the same time. Swaim has been solid and consistent in his first year as a starter, but the rest of the tight end group has disappointed. So why even run a tight end out on the field.
The Dallas Cowboys have options that could replace the tight end in the passing game without actually using a tight end.
First, they could use Noah Brown as the de facto tight end. He's been one of the best blockers on the team in his first two seasons with the team and this is the type of role he's made for. Split him out wide and motion him in tight when you want to run. He can be a threat down the seem and in the red zone with his athleticism. He'd be a mismatch for the linebackers that try to cover him and could open space underneath for Cole Beasley. Brown is also a really good run blocker, so having him on the field doesn't negate what you want to do in the run game.
The other player the Cowboys coaching staff could work into more of the tight end route responsibilities is Allen Hurns. Hurns is a really good route runner, especially in the middle of the field, where the Dallas Cowboys haven't received a lot of production. You can put Hurns in as the fourth wide receiver and split him a couple of yards off the tackle to give him a cleaner release than a TE might get and have him run "Y-option," shallow post routes, or drags. He can be a threat in the passing game if put in situations where he can excel. See below for something Allen Hurns does really well.
In fact, by going four wide receivers with Brown or Hurns on the field, it's possible the opposing defense is forced to run more of dime packages against the Dallas Cowboys 10 personnel.
Why would you want to get teams into dime packages?
Most NFL teams have two pretty good linebackers that they can deploy in nickel situations, but teams rarely have four corners that they can put on the field and feel really good about. So, if you can force teams to remove one of their 11 best players for a backup corner back or safety, you are already winning that matchup.
That matchup would also get you into much more favorable defensive fronts to run against. Even if the opposition put seven or eight in the box, it would be against smaller personnel like corners and safeties instead of a second linebacker.
Running 10 personnel as their base offense moving forward would be unconventional, but with an opportunity to take control of first place in the NFC East on Thanksgiving, now is not the time for conventionality.
Cowboys WR Michael Gallup on Personal Leave; Team Offers Support
Dallas Cowboys rookie receiver Michael Gallup suffered a personal tragedy on Sunday, being informed that his brother committed suicide. He is now on personal leave away from the team, and both Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett have given their full support to Gallup during this difficult time.
According to reports, Gallup was unaware of his brother's death until immediately after the Cowboys' win over the Atlanta Falcons. Michael did not return with the team to Dallas and remained in Atlanta to be with his family.
A formal statement was made by owner Jerry Jones yesterday regarding Gallup:
“Our team and our entire organization are deeply saddened by the news of Michael’s loss. His family is our family. We share in the grief and pain that comes with something so personal and tragic. We offer our support, care and comfort for Michael, and we ask that all of those who have sons and daughters and brothers and sisters join us in keeping Michael and his wonderful family in their thoughts and prayers.”
Throughout his time owning the Cowboys, Jerry has built a reputation for personal loyalty and compassion with his players. His head coach is no different.
As he addressed the media Monday, Jason Garrett did not get into football matters when addressing Gallup's situation:
“This is a very challenging time for him. We’ll take it moment by moment, day by day, and give him all of our love and all of our support.”
While Michael is certainly dealing with something far more important than football, his availability for Thursday's Thanksgiving game against the Washington Redskins does come into question.
The Cowboys have a short week to prepare for Washington, and Gallup has started their last five games. If the rookie has to sit, which seems probable given the timeframe, we can expect more playing time for Allen Hurns and Noah Brown.
Whatever happens happens on that front. Our focus is on Michael Gallup during this sad time, with him and his family in our collective thoughts as Cowboys fans and fellow humans.
Wolf Hunter: Leighton Vander Esch’s Pass Coverage Skills Rising to Occasion
The Dallas Cowboys know what they're doing when it comes to the NFL Draft. Not to be outdone by Philadelphia, the Cowboys brought the 2018 Draft to AT&T Stadium, marking the first time the event's been held in an NFL stadium. This made Boise State Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch the first player to be drafted on the field he now calls home. Returning home this week after two straight interceptions against the Eagles and Falcons, Vander Esch is far from the controversial pick that drew jeers inside AT&T Stadium on draft night and every bit the star the Cowboys projected him to be.
The ascension of Leighton "Wolf Hunter" Vander Esch as one of the best young linebackers in the game has happened rapidly. LVE played eight man football in high school, tasked to do everything on both sides of the ball before settling into defense as a walk onto the blue turf.
For the first time in what seems like forever, the Cowboys have more than just a plan to play defense without Sean Lee. Thanks to their 19th overall pick they're thriving as one of the best units in the league, making Lee an afterthought.
Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith have changed the entire makeup of the Cowboys defense, two young and athletic linebackers that should be roaming the middle of the field for a long time in Dallas.
This is exactly what LVE was able to do on his interceptions of both Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan. Vander Esch defending well against the pass is probably the least surprising part of his development, as his coverage skills always overshadowed his strength against the run in college.
It just so happens that Vander Esch tallied 63 tackles in eight games before recording his first career interception, establishing himself as an all-around linebacker with no true weakness. Vander Esch has played with the power and block shedding ability that matches his sideline to sideline range and instincts, as opposing offenses have done little to slow the Cowboys new leader on defense.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
This is Vander Esch's first interception, which set up a Cowboys field goal against the Eagles. Watch as Leighton reads the eyes of Wentz through the play, first angling towards his check down throw and then gaining depth to intercept the pass.
The subtle yet effective movements from Vander Esch to undercut Wentz's throw is a fine example of how quickly LVE has picked up on Kris Richard's defense, as well as the next level game speed.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
Sunday's interception from Vander Esch was the type of game breaking play the Cowboys needed to separate from the Falcons in hostile territory. Although the Falcons would rally to tie the game after this point, the Cowboys defense became the first to hold Atlanta under 20 points at home this season, thanks in large part to LVE as always.
The smoothness from Vander Esch on this play is exceptional, stepping up into coverage against the running back before sprinting back in position for the turnover. Calvin Ridley, drafted seven picks after Vander Esch, helps Leighton by letting Ryan's pass go through his hands.
Give Vander Esch credit for being in the right place at the right time and finishing the play. Every week, the rookie finds a way to do something memorable, and in helping the Cowboys earn their first two road wins of 2018 he finally flashed in pass coverage.
The next challenge for the Cowboys defense comes on a short week, against the division leading Washington Redskins. Though they lost starting Quarterback Alex Smith for the season on Sunday, expected to start Colt McCoy on Thanksgiving, it was Running Back Adrian Peterson that gashed the Cowboys for 4.13 yards a carry and 99 total yards in the Redskins week six win over Dallas.
Given what not only Leighton Vander Esch but the rest of the Cowboys defense has shown against the run in recent weeks, all without David Irving and most recently without either Antwaun Woods or Daniel Ross, the Cowboys should certainly be prepared to play for first place in the NFC East on Thursday.
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