Jerry Jones got an early start on this week's Bold Predictions on Tuesday morning.
Jerry Jones on @1053thefan: Brandon Weeden is "a thing of beauty throwing the football. Frankly, you won't see a more gifted passer.
Jerry believes in Brandon Weeden, and you know what? So do I.
I'm not saying that Brandon is about to throw for 400 yards against the Falcons on Sunday (no Cowboys quarterback has ever reached that mark against the Falcons FYI), but he's in a great position to manage the game and lead the Cowboys to victory.
According to almost everyone on earth, I checked, the Cowboys have the greatest offensive line in the NFL. They also have some solid playmakers outside of Dez Bryant (not diminishing #88 at all here) and a collection of running backs that will serve as nice dink-and-dunk options for "the most gifted passer" in the history of the world.
As bold as Jerry got, I can't let him outdo me. It's time to get BOLD! If you read my bold predictions from last week's win over the Eagles, then you know that I got two right. Philly never did stumble their way across the 50-yard line in the first half, and DeMarco Murray didn't top 50 yards on the ground (or 3 yards on the ground for that matter). Please remember that these are bold predictions. Vamonos! Let's dance the night away.
1. The Dallas Cowboys Defense Scores A Touchdown
Holy Sean Lee does the defense look good! These guys are absolutely swarming to the ball and whoever is carrying it. They've really impressed fans (and made DeMarco Murray sad) through two weeks of 2015.
We saw this unit generate 3 turnovers last week in Philadelphia. I have no doubt that they'll find a way to force another. These guys are focused and want to do their part to carry the team in Tony Romo's absence. Look for a tipped ball at some point that a Cowboy defender snatches and takes to the house!
2. Julio Jones Doesn't Top 50 Yards
I care about the environment so I'm going to recycle here. That's right, I'm calling for Julio to stay locked down on Sunday! Morris Claiborne has shocked us all this season by not giving up 28 touchdowns in two games. Not to mention that he kept Odell Beckham Jr. in check.
Dallas knows that Julio Jones is the wind beneath the Falcons' wings. They're going to devote the majority of attention to him and force someone else to beat them. Leonard Hankerson is going to be the Falcon receiver with the biggest day in the box score. Write that down right now (even though I just typed it).
3. Lance Dunbar Has 175 Total Yards
The backfield of the Dallas Cowboys has been discussed very rarely in all of 2015 (about as rarely as Deflategate). Joseph Randle seems to have emerged as the leading ball carrier, but Lance Dunbar has found a place of significance on this team.
He has been used in a lot of passing situations and was a huge contributor to the critical drive that Tony Romo mounted against the Giants two weeks ago. He's a shifty back that figures to be used heavily in the passing game, especially with Tony Romo out.
How have the Falcons fared against those type of running backs? In Week 1 the Falcons hosted the Philadelphia Eagles and Darren Sproles... who ran 5 times for 50 yards and caught 7 passes for 76 yards. In Week 2 Atlanta went to New York to play the Giants and Shane Vereen... who ran 6 times for 19 yards and caught 8 passes for 76 yards.
Put Lance Dunbar in your fantasy lineups now. You're going to want his jersey on Sunday afternoon.
4. Brandon Weeden Rushes For A Touchdown
The wheels of Brandon Weeden are going to be moving fast on Sunday!
Weeden has had a full week to prepare for the starting gig, cool. He's had a week to work with offensive geniuses Scott Linehan and Tony Romo (that's right). Romo is going to be coaching Weeden up through this game - wait and see.
Atlanta has also had a week to prepare for Weeden. They're banking on him checking everything down and are going to force him to beat them... and he's going to!
I can see it now... 2nd and Goal from the 4-yard line, Weeden takes the snap, he drops back, he makes his read, there is NOBODY in front of him, so he just skips to his lou into the end zone for a score.
5. Brandon Weeden Is Sacked 0 Times
I really liked what I saw from Dan Quinn's Falcon defense when they played the Eagles. It seemed like he was having a very strong influence on them already and that they're going to get after the quarterback this season.
I still believe that. Just not against the Cowboys.
Sports are awesome, man. What's really great about them are the things that you just can't explain with logic or reason.
The Cowboys are in rally cap mode. They have come together as a team for a common purpose, and that's a scary thing for opposing teams. These guys are so focused and so dedicated on this season, and getting Romo and Dez back, that they are going to play out of their minds on Sunday.
We're going to see one of the best games that we ever have from this offensive line. They know how much the team is depending on them, and they're going to deliver with enough time for Brandon to knit a sweater in the pocket. His jersey is staying clean all day long.
Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?
Since becoming the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Rod Marinelli hasn't had too many of his former players follow him to Dallas. In fact, I can only think of one… Henry Melton, and we all know how that turned out.
I don't know about you, but I found that a little strange. It's pretty common for coaches to try to bring some of their players with them when they accept a new job. Familiarity goes a long way in the NFL and former players can also help make the transition easier for everyone.
Strangely enough, Rod Marinelli hasn't really been afforded that luxury, whether it was his doing or not. But, there is a free agent who played under Marinelli's tutelage in Chicago who might make sense for the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Shea McClellin.
Rod Marinelli was the defensive coordinator in Chicago when the Bears decided to draft Shea McClellin 19th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Marinelli likely had a big say in that decision, and if he still feels the same, a reunion could be in order.
Shea McClellin started his career in the NFL as a 4-3 left side defensive end playing opposite Julius Peppers, but was also viewed as a potential Brian Urlacher replacement. He showed flashes of becoming a solid defensive end his first few years in the league, but was eventually moved to linebacker, where he seemed to find a home for himself.
After his contract expired with the Bears, the New England Patriots decided to bring him aboard to help with their linebacker depth. He only ended up starting four games for them in 2016, but made some memorable plays to help the Patriots become the Super Bowl champions.
Unfortunately, the 2017 season wasn't very kind to him. His entire year was wiped out due to a concussion, which probably had a lot to do with why they recently released him.
This of course could be good news for the Dallas Cowboys. They currently need some depth at the linebacker position and Shea McClellin could provide that, if he's healthy. The healthy bit here is key, because he has had problems with concussions in the past.
If McClellin is indeed healthy, he could bring a versatile skill set to the Cowboys defense. His best spot is probably at strong side LB (SAM), but I think he could play middle linebacker (MIKE) as well. He also could provide depth at defensive end, the position he played to start his NFL career.
With the LB depth a concern, Shea McClellin makes quite a bit of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, his past history with concussions is a red flag, but it also drives down his asking price. I think he would definitely fall into that "bargain shopping" mentality the Cowboys have been using these last few offseasons.
He probably wouldn't be viewed as a very important signing, but you still need these types of players on your team in order to succeed in the NFL. Let's see if the Dallas Cowboys agree.
Do you think a Rod Marinelli and Shea McClellin reunion is in order?
Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys
Now that he's signed with the Washington Redskins, cornerback Orlando Scandrick joins a lackluster list of former Cowboys players and coaches who have gone from Dallas to its historic rival. The history of these moves is ugly for Washington, going back over 40 years, and can't have their fans too excited anytime they sign an ex-Cowboy.
The most recent example was just last year with defensive tackle Terrell McClain. After a strong season as a 15-game starter in Dallas, McClain got a four-year, $21 million deal to join the Redskins. He missed four games with injuries and was only credited with two starts; hardly what the team wanted given the money they paid.
Before him it was Jason Hatcher, whose 11-sack season for the Cowboys in 2013 got him a four-year, $27.5 million deal from Washington. Hatcher would battle knee injuries for two season, getting only 7.5 sacks from 2014-2015. His early retirement in 2016 brought an abrupt end to a disappointing tenure.
Continuing the legacy of defensive linemen was Stephen Bowen, who Washington paid a shocking amount of money ($27.5 million over five years) to in 2011 to pick up in free agency. Bowen had a great first year for the Redskins with six sacks and 16 starts, but injuries would soon cost him 14 games from 2013-2014. He was eventually released after only one standout season in four with the team.
Going back even further, DT Brandon Noble joined Washington in 2003 after being a full-time starter for Dallas for over two seasons. He would miss all of 2003 with a knee injury, have an unimpressive year in 2004, and then missed all of 2005 with more health issues. He retired after being released by the Redskins in 2006.
Orlando Scandrick won't be the first cornerback to go from Dallas to Washington, or the best. At age 32, Deion Sanders was released in 2000 by the Cowboys and then got a huge seven-year, $56 million deal from the Redskins. This came less than a year after Daniel Snyder bought the franchise and was desperate to get them relevant again.
The Sanders move backfired horribly. Even after a solid season by his lofty standards, Primetime was disgruntled with both the coaching staff and his increasing struggles as an aging player. He suddenly retired after just one season of the seven-year contract.
Washington also tried to tap into the Cowboys' glory days when they signed receiver Alvin Harper in 1997. Harper had left Dallas in 1995 and spent two years with Tampa Bay, but had not carried over the same success he enjoyed playing in the Dallas offense.
The Redskins hoped that reuniting him with Norv Turner, who had been Harper's offensive coordinator and was now their head coach, would help Alvin get back to form. But between ongoing injuries and the absence of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith as teammates, Alvin Harper was never the same guy as when he won two Super Bowls in Dallas.
The failed poaching attempts go back many more decades, another one being running back Calvin Hill. The fourth-leading rusher in Cowboys history and a four-time Pro Bowler while in Dallas, Hill joined Washington in 1976. He served as a backup only, averaging only 3.8 yards-per-carry as he played behind the likes of Mike Thomas and John Riggins.
The bad history doesn't stop with players. The aforementioned Norv Turner, who was one of the hottest assistant coaches in history after the Cowboys first two Super Bowl wins in the 90s, was hired as the Redskins' head coach in 1994.
Turner's run started with a whimper, drafting quarterback Heath Shuler third overall in that first year. Shuler would go down as one of the biggest QB busts in NFL history
Norv's Redskins never seemed to recover from that blunder. He only had two winning seasons and one playoff appearance from 1994-1999, and was fired midway through the 2000 season.
Far more recently, Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan left the team in 2015 and took the same job in Washington. He didn't get to bring the offensive line or DeMarco Murray with him, though. As such, the Redskins have remained one of the league's worst rushing teams for the last three seasons. They fell to a new low of 28th in the NFL in 2017.
~ ~ ~
Of course, none of this means that Orlando Scandrick won't have success in Washington. But with the Redskins generally the most mismanaged team in the NFC East, all of the Dallas players and coaches who've gone there have not walked into good situations. For all that Cowboys fans love to complain about Jerry Jones, he handles the owner and GM roles better than any pair Washington's had in almost 30 years.
Given the nature of the rivalries, we naturally can't wish success for Scandrick or anyone else who leaves Dallas for a division opponent. With the track record we just discussed for Washington, it's not something I'll be losing any sleep over.
Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
It's not uncommon for Dallas Cowboys fans to zero in on certain free agents in hopes that they will bring their talents to America's Team. In fact, just about any "big name" player to hit the open market is often linked to the Cowboys in some way or another. That was the case when the Arizona Cardinals decided to move on from Tyrann Mathieu.
Once Tyrann Mathieu became available, Cowboys fans immediately wanted to see him with a star on his helmet. But, despite the fans petitioning, the Cowboys brass seemed to show almost zero interest in the former Cardinal.
The decision to not pursue Tyrann Mathieu certainly didn't sit well with a lot of Cowboys Nation, but I think it was the right decision.
Despite Mathieu's perceived talents and youth (he's just 25), the Cowboys weren't interested in paying the price to bring him to Dallas, especially since they already have a similar player on their roster.
It may sound crazy, but I think the real reason the Dallas Cowboys didn't show much interest in Tyrann Mathieu is because of Xavier Woods.
I honestly believe Xavier Woods and Tyrann Mathieu have a similar skill set. Both players are little undersized to be a full-time safety in the NFL, but each of them have the versatility to play several different roles in the secondary.
Mathieu may have been listed as a safety on the Arizona Cardinals roster, and now the Houston Texans, but the truth is he played mostly out of the nickel/slot in his professional and collegiate career. That is where he is at his best, and the same can be said about Xavier Woods.
As a rookie, Xavier Woods showed his versatility with the Dallas Cowboys by playing a variety of different roles in the secondary. His versatility was one of the reasons the Cowboys decided to trade up in last year's draft to acquire his services.
His name might not carry the same kind of weight as Tyrann Mathieu right now around the league or amongst NFL fans, but I don't think Xavier Woods is that much of a drop off talent wise.
Personally, I believe Mathieu is starting to decline a little as a player. I think injuries are starting to take a toll on his play, although it may be minimal. I actually prefer Xavier Woods' upside, especially when you take into account the difference in salaries between the two.
Surprisingly enough, Xavier Woods might just have been more productive in 2017 then Mathieu. Woods started just four games and finished the season with 42 tackles, three passes defensed, and one interception. Mathieu on the other hand started all 16 games and accumulated 78 tackles, one quarterback sack, one forced fumble, and two interceptions.
As you can see, Xavier Woods was almost just as productive as Mathieu in nearly a third of the playing time. What's even more impressive about this is that Woods accomplish this as a rookie.
Of course, all of this is speculation, but I for one am not all that upset the Dallas Cowboys missed out on Tyrann Mathieu. I'm willing to bet on Xavier Woods being able to do everything Mathieu can and at a fraction of the cost.
Were the Cowboys right not to pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
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