Happy Thanksgiving Eve, Cowboys Nation!
Yes that's a real day.
About 24 hours from now we'll watch our Dallas Cowboys, fresh off of a victory in Miami, take on the 10-0 Carolina Panthers. How exhilarating!
The Cowboys are no strangers to big-time games against undefeated teams. On November 19th, 2006 they hosted the 9-0 Indianapolis Colts in Tony Romo's first start at home. Indy was unable to get to 10 wins as Dallas handed them the first loss of their World Championship season.
What's the old saying, doing something twice makes it a tradition? Well on December 19th, 2009 the Cowboys took on the 13-0 New Orleans Saints in the Superdome. With a game in Washington following their date against a team with no losses (like they've got on Thanksgiving) the Cowboys had an emphatic win against the eventual World Champions. A tradition was born!
We've got our own tradition going on here at Inside The Star. Every week, on the eve of gameday, I cook you up a batch of 5 Bold Predictions.
I know that this week is funky with Thanksgiving and all, but I am a chameleon and can adapt to anything!
As it is Gameday/Thanksgiving Eve, please allow me to present this week's rendition of my 5 Bold Predictions. Enjoy.
Jason Garrett's 1994 Thanksgiving Victory Will Be Mentioned At Least 7 Times
Thanksgiving comes with a lot of traditions: football in the yard, nice clothes, taking pictures with all of my aunts' phones, turkey, stuffing, Dallas Cowboys football, the list goes on and on.
Since Jason Garrett took the reins as the Dallas Cowboys Head Coach full-time in 2011 a new tradition has made its way into our lives. Death, taxes, and mentioning Jason Garrett's 1994 victory over the Green Bay Packers are the three unavoidable things in life.
On Thanksgiving 1994 Coach Garrett was called into action and had to quarterback the Dallas Cowboys against the Green Bay Packers. The Pack were one of the top teams in the NFL (what else has changed?) at the time and this was quite the tall task for young Jason.
The original Red Rifle rumbled his way through the game, though. He went 15/26 and threw for 311 yards, 2 touchdowns, and an interception... all in a winning effort.
You can bet your sweet potatoes that this will be mentioned at least seven times on Thanksgiving, but would we really want it any other way?
BOLD PREDICTION BONUS POINTS: I'm going to go a step farther here, for bonus points of course, and add one more tiny little detail. Not only will Garrett's Thanksgiving heroics be drilled into your brain, but there will also be at least four mentions that he was the first to rock the new "Color Rush" jerseys. How do ya like me now?!
Lucky Whitehead Will Return A Kickoff For A Touchdown
The Cowboys have been pretty fortunate with how the NFC East has played out this season. They've caught some breaks, and they're right in the middle of the race at Thanksgiving... a shocking thing for a 3-7 team.
As fortunate as they've been - they're about to get Lucky.
The last time that Lucky Whitehead had the chance to bring one out of the endzone, three weeks ago against the Eagles, he took it 79 yards. On Thanksgiving Lucky is going to hit the full hundred.
The breaks have gone completely in the opposite direction that we would have liked over the last two months. I'm not saying that we should root for or depend on breaks... I'm saying that we're going to make them go our way.
Everyone knows that winning all three phases (Offense, Defense, and Special Teams) is essential in an NFL game. The Cowboys are going to get a big play from Lucky #13 as a special appetizer for the Thanksgiving Feast they'll have after the game.
Lucky Whitehead scores his first touchdown on Thanksgiving Day against the undefeated Carolina Panthers.
Sounds awesome, doesn't it?!
The Dallas Cowboys Defense Will Hold The Panthers Under 20 Points
The Carolina Panthers have scored at least 20 points in every single game this season, but I don't call these bold predictions for nothing... I'm not here to punt.
Cam Newton and Co. have been on all kinds of offensive fire this season. Just last week Superman threw for five touchdowns. What on earth am I thinking here?!
I'm thinking that the Dallas Cowboys have held three out of their last four opponents to 14 points or less and that they're allowing 22.8 points per game across the whole season.
I've also got this thing called a brain that's telling me Tony Romo is here, draining the clock like some Steph Curry 3s, and that the Kraken is about to be released against his former team.
Greg Hardy will face the Carolina Panthers for the first time, and he won't be alone. DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Jeremy Mincey, and Jack Crawford were all hanging out near Ryan Tannehill last week. Cam Newton is the new meeting spot.
This defense is going to stifle the Panthers in a way that they haven't been all season. Toss in the fact that the Panthers are going off of one true day of practice this week and I'm even more on board.
I hope you enjoyed life at 20 and above, Carolina. The ride is over.
Jason Witten Will Channel His Color Rush Poster For His 1,000th Career Reception
I was talking to my Dad the other night about just how incredible Jason Witten is... and how we don't fully appreciate it.
This dude is so freaking amazing that it's actually become boring.
"Oh Witten caught 10 passes?" No big deal. "Jason hauled in two touchdowns?" Seen it before. Hey, but remember that time he ran without his helmet! That was awesome!
Jason Witten is INCREDIBLE. He is currently sitting on 994 career receptions. These are the players in front of him:
That's it. Aside from those ten gentleman there is nobody, in the history of professional football, that has caught more passes than Jason Witten. Wow.
Six receptions is usually a mediocre day at the office for Jason, but on Thanksgiving it's going to be spectacular. Witten is going to re-create the pose he's got going on in the "Color Rush" poster with his 1,000th career reception that's reeled in for a touchdown! Huzzah!
Tony Romo Will Turn To Thanksgiving Day 2006 And Throw 5 Touchdowns
You already know how Romo took care of business against the undefeated Colts in 2006. What you might have forgotten was that one week later, on Thanksgiving, he torched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the tune of five touchdown passes (so basically what the Buccaneers did to the Eagles last week).
Romo was just entering our lives when he hit the cinco mark on Thanksgiving Day 2006. He's just re-entering our lives these days as we've got one game with him under our belts in the last two months.
Wouldn't it just be the coolest thing ever if he did it again? Against the 10-0 Panthers?
It's happening! Romo's tossing enough for the thumb against the vaunted defense of the Panthers.
Respect. The. Romo.
Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?
It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.
Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.
A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.
Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.
First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:
- Earl Thomas
- Landon Collins
- Lamarcus Joyner
- Tyrann Mathieu
- Adrian Amos
- Clayton Geathers
- Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
- Glover Quinn
- Tre Boston
- Kenny Vaccaro
- George Iloka
- Jimmie Ward
- Adrian Phillips
Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.
With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.
Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.
Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.
The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.
Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?
Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors
What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.
Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?
As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.
Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.
Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.
That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.
However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.
Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.
Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.
The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.
Just something to think about...
2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back
To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.
As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.
Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.
These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.
Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.
Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.
Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.
Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.
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