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!
Dorance Armstrong, Kerry Hyder Stand Out in Cowboys Practices
With Left Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery, Defensive End Taco Charlton rehabbing a shoulder and foot injury, and Right Defensive End Randy Gregory currently suspended indefinitely, there have been plenty of snaps at defensive end for other players to make a name for themselves in the offseason training activities (OTAs) and this past week's minicamp. The two players that stood out above all others on the defense were defensive ends Dorance Armstrong and Kerry Hyder.
You might be asking yourself, "what does it matter? DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn are the starters. Why should we care about a couple of backups."
First, the backup defensive ends for the Dallas Cowboys will play. After DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford, the leaders in defensive end snaps in 2018, Randy Gregory got 44% of the snaps on defense and Taco Charlton saw 39%. Dorance Armstrong, who played sparingly as a rookie, saw 26% of the snaps. The defensive ends that make the 53-man roster are going to get playing time.
Secondly, there's no guarantee that DeMarcus Lawrence will be ready for week one. Tyrone Crawford, who was the starter at right defensive end in 2018, could miss week one if the NFL deems his offseason altercation is worthy of a suspension. That leaves a whole lot of potential snaps at the left defensive end spot if either of those two guys misses week one.
Dorance Armstrong, the Dallas Cowboys fourth-round pick from 2018, caught the eye of several observers from the media and finished his offseason with a strong minicamp.
"These coaches have to be happy with what they’ve seen from Dorance Armstrong during these practices. Armstrong has been mainly filling in for DeMarcus Lawrence on the left side, but on Wednesday he switched over to the right. There were several snaps where he was a handful for Cam Fleming to handle. Armstrong started off well last season before hitting the rookie wall. He physically looks bigger and is also now equipped with the knowledge of how he has to prepare to play at a high level the entire season. Keep an eye on Armstrong to make that jump from the first to second year."
Bryan Broaddus - DallasCowboys.com
Armstrong had a really nice training camp as a rookie and as Broaddus notes, tailed off during the regular season. Reports are that he's added size this offseason -- as most players do between their first and second year -- and if all the reports are correct, could be a breakout player in the making.
Kerry Hyder is another intriguing player and one of the more underrated offseason acquisitions by the Dallas Cowboys front office.
Coming from the Detroit Lions, where they used Hyder as a nose tackle in Matt Patricia's 3-4 alignment, he was played severely out of position. In 2016, playing primarily as a defensive end, Hyder recorded eight sacks for the Lions. In 2017, he suffered a torn achilles which kept him out all of that year.
Now with the Dallas Cowboys, he gets to return to his more natural defensive end position. And he's making some noise in these offseason practices.
D-Linemen never get any shine during OTAs, so today is for them. With Tyron Smith & La'el Collins sitting out today, Dorance Armstrong & Kerry Hyder absolutely wrecked practice. Murdered it. I legitimately don't think Dak would've gotten a single throw out if sacks were allowed.
Of course not playing against the starting tackles in Tyron Smith and La'el Collins will allow players to shine a bit more, but let's not forget that Cam Fleming started in the Super Bowl for the New England Patriots before signing with the Dallas Cowboys. Connor Williams, who has been getting snaps at tackle as well, is no slouch as a former All-American for the Texas Longhorns.
Here's what Bryan Broaddus had to say about Kerry Hyder in one of the previous OTAs his "Scout's Notebook" from May 22nd.
"I have to be careful with my love for veteran defensive linemen, but Kerry Hyder looks like a different man playing at end instead of head-up tackle. The coaching change in Detroit did him no favors last season. Having to play in a spot where he had to fight blocks all day to now working on the edge in space is a good thing for him. It appears that Hyder has his quickness back, but he also has some pass rush moves in his tool belt. I thought maybe they were going to use him as an under-tackle, but putting him back at end might be his best shot at making the roster."
Bryan Broaddus - Dallas Cowboys.com
The Cowboys found a really good player in Kerry Hyder. He's capable of playing some 3-technique defensive tackle if needed as well as on the edge. He has a good motor and is able to make plays in the running game.
With the emergence of Kerry Hyder and Dorance Armstrong this offseason, it puts Taco Charlton behind the eight ball as the team heads to Oxnard. If they continue to play well, it's a real possibility that Charlton could be a gameday inactive during the regular season, especially if Randy Gregory is reinstated.
However they end up being deployed, this group of defensive ends will cause fits for opposing offensive lines. They've been aiming for waves of pass rushers for Rod Marinelli's defense and for the first time since becoming defensive coordinator, he looks to have just that.
BREAKING: Cowboys TE Rico Gathers Receives One-Game Suspension
Tight End Rico Gathers already had an uphill climb to return to the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster in 2019. But that climb just got even steeper; the NFL handed down a one-game suspension to Gathers today for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
If he does make the team this year, with Dallas or anyone else, Rico will have to sit out Week One of the season without pay.
Cowboys TE Rico Gathers is suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL's policy and program on substances of abuse. This is from his arrest in 2018 for marijuana possession.
Gathers' chances of returning in 2019 were already hurt by Jason Witten's reversed retirement. He dropped to fourth on the TE depth chart behind Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz, and Dallas only kept three tight ends last year.
The Cowboys also added Codey McElroy as a developmental player during the offseason.
While the suspension is news, the incident that led to it is not. Dallas already knew about the arrest, which occurred in early September of 2018, and have kept Gathers around up until now.
The NFL's substance abuse system is pretty formulaic, so the Cowboys likely anticipated this suspension all along. This may not change anything about how they value Rico Gathers for the 2019 season.
Nevertheless, a player who can't help you in Week One and is a liability for ever longer suspensions down the road is definitely a red flag against Gathers' job security.
Antwaun Woods: Cowboys DT is Just Getting Started
Antwaun Woods went undrafted in 2016 coming out of USC. After two years with the Tennessee Titans, he would only see one game of action. In May of 2018, the Cowboys signed Woods to a two-year contract worth 1.05 million. Probably seen as nothing more than a practice squad guy, Woods would quickly show he was much more than that.
The newly acquired Woods started his climb to stardom in Oxnard during training camp, and not for making plays. One day during practice he got into a friendly game of fisticuffs with All-Pro Center Travis Frederick. The team even posted the video on social media, which had fans buzzing and wanting to know who he was.
All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott echoed those thoughts when he saw Woods during camp. "Honestly, when we first got him, we were like, 'Who is this guy?'. He was giving Travis Frederick, one of our best players, hell all camp. Just trying to figure out where this guy came from," Elliott said.
Once the regular season started it was clear the Cowboys had found a hidden gem. Although the sack numbers won't dazzle you, seeing as he only registered 1.5, you could forget about running the ball anywhere near him. Woods has amazing quickness for a 300 pounder which allows him to extend his arms before offensive lineman can get a hand on him.
How significant is that? It becomes that much easier to bull rush and blow running plays up in the backfield.
When you can get your hands on an offensive lineman immediately when the ball is snapped, he's basically under your control. You can move him around like a puppet on a string. Essential for a 1-technique nose tackle. With that being said, there should be no surprise the Cowboys finished fifth against the run in 2018 with Woods manning the middle.
Woods draws a lot of double teams, and he handles them well. Having the ability to take on multiple linemen frees up your other playmakers. As the anchor in the middle, Woods made life a lot easier for not only his fellow defensive linemen but the team's two young star Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Allowing them to roam freely like Lions in the Serengeti makes running backs essentially Zebra's carrying the ball, cooked food. So much so that both tallied over 120 tackles and were the only teammates in the NFL to rank in the top 15 in that category.
There's nothing but upside with Antwaun Woods. He's only had 18 games of experience in three years. He's already a stud, but with limited snaps, it can only mean he'll be even more formidable going forward.
The Cowboys have a loaded defensive lineman group with around 15 bodies, plenty of competition. All signs point to him remaining the starter, but it's not guaranteed. Even with that being said I don't expect a complacency from Woods, especially with DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn looking like the only sure starters on the defensive line. Plus this is a contract year for him, so you know he'll be even more motivated as he tries to maximize his dollars. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg from this raw talent, setting up for a potential breakout year for him in 2019.
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