Listen to an audio version of this article on Bumpers!
'Twas the Night before Kickoff, the season's been flyin'
Here we are, Christmas Day, about to tame the Lions
Since this team last felt joy, it sure has been a while
Yet here we are celebrating an NFC East title
The Cowboys have rookies, of the type you'd never believe
Dak and Zeke have taken us, to the number one seed
Coach Garrett is the man, I will continue to say
A red-haired coaching genius, who takes things day by day
Get to 13 wins, in this means to an end
During Monday Night Football on ESPN
This is a time for the best, you cannot be meek
Run, score, and fight, don't forget to feed Zeke
We've learned a lot of lessons, especially never to settle
Fight till the end, and jump into a red kettle
If you need an epic win, one man can answer the call
His name is Prescott, and he can sure Dak the Halls
It's now time to begin, some interesting premonitions
Welcome to a Christmas Edition, of my 5 Bold Predictions
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The Lions Game Is A Culmination Of 9-4
When the Cowboys welcome the Detroit Football Club on Monday Night Football they'll be doing so with a player that hasn't seen the field in almost a full calendar year - Randy Gregory. While the expectations from young Gregory shouldn't be too high - and his status is very ambiguous thanks to the NFL - he's going to play and we should be thankful for that.
Upon being drafted by America's Team, Randy Gregory was given the iconic #94 jersey that once belonged to Dallas Cowboys Legends Charles Haley and DeMarcus Ware. This is a tactic that worked out well with Dez Bryant after he slipped the spectacular #88 over his rookie shoulders, recognizing the number and team's legacy.
Dak is the firmly-anointed starter so that's not shocking, but given the events from around the NFL on Christmas Eve you can sense that Romo might be given one quarter of work potentially in this game. 9-4!
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Byron Jones Starts A Streak Of Interceptions
Last week the Cowboys secured a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but a more important achievement was made - Byron Jones' first career interception!
"Late Night Ice Cream" - as I have dubbed him - wrapped his hands around an opposing quarterback's pass for the first time ever during a last-second play at the end of the first half. This is something that Cowboys fans have been longing for for quite some time, so it was great to see it finally happen.
Get the spoons ready, because Late Night Ice Cream is starting a streak of consecutive games with an interception. Late Night Ice Cream!
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Every Active Cowboys Running Back Gets At Least 5 Carries
The NFC East Champions find themselves in an interesting predicament that will, as it currently is even in this same article, be discussed a lot - how much should they rest their starters?
The next game of importance for this football team will come, at the earliest, on Saturday, January 14th. That's quite a ways away. Given that this team has one of the most dynamic players in the league in Ezekiel Elliott, it's fair to assume that some tolerance will be made for the notion of resting him.
Look for Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar - or whoever the other active running backs are - to get some work in an effort to alleviate Zeke's workload. Five carries apiece, Santa!
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Zeke And The Offensive Line Are Compared To Santa And His Reindeer
If you've made it this far into this then you really deserve one of these - Merry Christmas!
As it is Christmas season, Christmas magic and decorations and treats and presents are in the air! These presents are so prominent that even Ezekiel Elliott got into the mood when he gave his offensive line ATVs on Friday.
There's a comparison considering the time of year concerning Zeke and his Offensive Line that's just too easy to make, Zeke is Santa and the linemen are his reindeer. Any seasoned pro in the broadcast booth is going to see that and run (or fly) away with it.
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Don Meredith's Famous "Turn Out The Lights" Is Referenced
From their inception in 1960 through 1968, the Dallas Cowboys boasted one of the best and most iconic figures in their long-standing history at the all-important quarterback position - Don Meredith.
"Dandy" Don was as legendary as they come, and he furthered that legend after his playing career in the broadcast booth. Meredith became a staple on Monday Night Football and developed a signature catchphrase of sorts by singing a Willie Nelson line, "Turn out the lights, the party's over."
The Cowboys/Lions game will serve as 2016's Monday Night Football finale - can you believe that?! - and therefore will call for an essence of good-bye. ESPN will still have some playoff coverage, but it won't be the same. The moment is too perfect to not drop Dandy Don's signature line as the MNF season comes to a close.
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Bonus Bold Predictions
Remember, if you want YOUR Bold Prediction featured here, tweet it at me! It’s that simple! Here are this week’s contributions, thanks to all those who shared!
@rjochoa Bold Predictions - Escobar TD catch, Irving sack/fumble, and the home crowd goes wild when Tony Romo trots onto the field.
RANDY Gregory is gonna get 2 sacks against the Lions. AND one of them is to win the game, 2014 playoffs DLaw style.
@rjochoa got that link to the article the other day? And my bold prediction is that Romo throws a touchdown Monday
Also on Facebook, Tyler Spence says:
- Byron Jones not only has his 2nd career INT, but it's a pick 6
- Terrance Williams also goes for a 65 yard TD in this one, similar to how he dominated Detroit in the playoff game 2 years ago
I like the callbacks to the 2014 Wild Card win over Detroit here! Santa is obviously an Inside The Star reader, so these will undoubtedly come true.
Merry Christmas from all of us here at Inside The Star to you and yours. Go Cowboys!
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.
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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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