Listen to an audio version of this article on Bumpers!
Every week - typically on Friday - here at Inside The Star I pen 5 Bold Predictions for the upcoming Dallas Cowboys game. You can read, so you know that this is being published on Saturday, December 17th.
Considering that this is the last game that the 2016 Cowboys will play before Christmas, I wanted to spice things up a bit. Who am I? RJ Ochoa, Staff Writer for Inside The Star and the Host of Ocho Live.
Now we've all made a list - make sure you check it twice - and we know what we want for Christmas after getting clothes last week in the form of a loss against the Giants. We want a win, an NFC East title, a first round bye, and home-field advantage (that's what all the cool kids get every year). This is the time of year where gifts are exchanged, so considering the yuletide greetings who's to say we can't get what we want?
This week's 5 Bold Predictions will have a Christmas feel to them, and considering that they're being published with one less than nine days until December 25th (not to mention that today is the 17th... 1+ 7 = 8 aka Ocho)... this is officially the Ocho Days Until Christmas version of my 5 Bold Predictions. Let's roll.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Dak The Halls: Prescott Has His Own Zeke Leap
This has been one of the longest weeks in recent history for Cowboys fans. The notion of processing a second loss on the season in the middle of December has been too much at times, but winning cures all.
Due to the nature of being the Dallas Cowboys Quarterback, Dak Prescott has been questioned quite frequently since leaving the field in New York. With the exception of that game, we have only ever seen Dak rise above adversity when he's faced it this season.
With a lot on the line, both individually and team-wide, Dak knows that this game against Tampa Bay has a lot riding on it. Look for him to do every single thing he can to win, even outside the pocket, and to copy his buddy Zeke with a leap of his own.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Gavin Escobar Channels The Grinch And Triples His Season Total Catches
While they've certainly been very impressive, it's fair to say that at times we all think the Cowboys are a bit predictable on offense. Last week's drubbing in New York - an inability to score more than seven points - is proof that Scott Linehan needs to get more creative.
Look... Gavin Escobar is still a thing. He's there, just waiting and waiting and waiting to be used. It's been a minute, but more-seasoned members of Cowboys Nation will remember that Gavin Escobar was frequently compared to Jimmy Graham.
When the Buccaneers played Jimmy Graham and the Seahawks a few weeks ago, Graham had six catches. If the Cowboys get creative offensively and use Gavin in a similar fashion... six catches could be headed his way. As he currently has three, this would give him nine on the season and triple his current total a la The Grinch and his tiny little heart.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Being Home For Christmas Provides A Big Time Advantage
When you're watching a Christmas movie there's always that part where somebody messes up, is driving aimlessly, and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" plays as they think about the gigantic mistake they made. You can count on
The Dallas Cowboys haven't played at home since Thanksgiving Day - think about that. That's 24 days, over three weeks, without playing a game in your home stadium.
I'm not trying to make excuses for how poorly the Cowboys played in New York, but it's definitely worth discussing this time they've been out of their hizzy. Since walking off the field against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, November 20th the Cowboys have been moving at an abnormal pace: Thanksgiving, Thursday Night Football, a mini-bye before New York.
Sunday against the Buccaneers will mark the first time that the Cowboys play back-to-back football games on Sundays since Weeks 10 and 11 against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, respectively. Normalcy is good. Being home, for Christmas, is good. It'll show.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
The Cowboys Sack Their Turbo Man Aka Jameis Winston At Least Three Times
The popular Christmas movie Jingle All The Way features a Dad trying to find his son the one thing he wants more than anything in the world - a Turbo Man action figure.
Turbo Man is this super awesome and popular dude, and the Dad has a bit of trouble in terms of finding one for his son. It's a great movie and there's an epic scene at the end where Turbo Man saves the day, blah blah blah.
A few weeks ago the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wore their color rush uniforms, and you know who they looked like? Turbo Man! Seriously!
@Jaboowins and the #Buccaneers tonight on #TNF.
The Dad in Jingle All The Way, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, ultimately gets his hands on a Turbo Man before the movie is over (if you haven't seen a 20-year old movie by now, I didn't spoil it for you). The Cowboys are going to follow Arnold's plan and get their hands on this version of Turbo Man - Jameis Winston. Three sacks coming up!
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
God Rest East Merry Gentlemen: Dallas Locks Up The NFC East On Sunday
Tidings of comfort and joy... that sounds nice, but a division championship sounds a whole lot better in my humble and honest opinion.
I know that technically this prediction doesn't have 100% to do with the Cowboys/Buccaneers game, but a few things: oh well, it's Christmas, it involves us winning the division so no complaints!
Should the Detroit Lions manage to beat, or tie with, the New York Giants on Sunday then the Cowboys will have a win-and-clinch scenario when Sunday Night Football begins.
The Dallas Cowboys have been holding down the NFC East since they took hold of it in Week 5. While they missed an opportunity to stick a fork in the whole dealio last week, it kept us on our toes and let us fully appreciate the dominance that this season truly is. God Rest East you Merry Gentlemen (the gentlemen are our rivals, except the Eagles aren't Merry they're the opposite of Merry which I think is horrible). We're locking this thing up on Sunday night. Huzzah.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
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 prediction: jj Wilcox gets a pick and cowboys win on strength of zeke 2 TD game
@rjochoa bold prediction; BJ and Brown with a pick each, Beastly with 2TD, Zeke with 200yds and 2TD. Dak 300yd night 3TD, Witten 75yds 1TD.
@rjochoa BOLD PREDICTION: Anthony Brown get his second pick of the season. This one being returned for 6Pts.
@rjochoa ok I've been thinking long I've got my prediction Zeke will catch his 2nd receiving TD and Beasley will throw one too TWill
Cowboys en Español: ¿Dónde Tiene Que Mejorar Dallas?
El mejor juego de los Dallas Cowboys en 2018 vino la semana pasada, cuando recibieron a los Jacksonville Jaguars y los vencieron 40-7. Un resultado que tomó a todos por sorpresa demostró la mejor cara en el año de este equipo que apenas tiene un récord de 3-3.
Por más dominantes que se vieron en el emparrillado el domingo pasado, esa actuación no termina de reflejar lo que realmente son los Cowboys. Son un equipo con potencial en la ofensiva y con una defensiva bastante fuerte, pero ¿pueden ganar constantemente como lo hicieron contra Jaguars?
De entrada, la respuesta a esta pregunta parece ser no. Aún en esa victoria, se vieron problemas evidentes en la ofensiva. Para empezar, la falta de ejecución en la segunda mitad en series ofensivas que incluso llegaron a iniciar en territorio enemigo. De gol de campo en gol de campo se juntan puntos, sin duda, pero en partidos cerrados eso termina costando victorias. Hace falta que Dak Prescott y compañía puedan mover el balón una vez en rango de gol de campo y convertir esas oportunidades a touchdowns.
Otra preocupación que no podemos subestimar es que el juego aéreo sigue sin funcionar apropiadamente. Cole Beasley dominó con nueve atrapadas para 101 yardas y dos touchdowns, pero el resto de los receptores se fueron sin más de una recepción por cabeza. El único jugador que logró más de una fue el TE Geoff Swaim, quien se llevo dos en todo el juego.
Si bien Beasley tuvo uno de los mejores juegos en su carrera, más receptores tienen que involucrarse para llevar la ofensiva al siguiente nivel. La buena noticia es que en esta ocasión se enfrentaron contra una de las mejores secundarias en la NFL. Los números son malos, pero tienen la oportunidad de demostrar mucho más contra otras defensivas.
Los Dallas Cowboys tienen que repartir más la bola y seguir buscando maneras creativas de utilizar a su RB Ezekiel Elliott. Pases pantallas en tercera y largo no es ser creativo. Lo vemos funcionar dos o tres veces al año pero mandan esta jugada semanalmente. En cuanto a Dak Prescott, hay mucho donde mejorar. Deberíamos estar viendo pases más arriesgados, al centro del campo y mucho mejor posicionados.
Para la defensiva, las cosas se ven muy bien. Puede que veamos la mejor versión de esta unidad esta semana, cuando viajen a Washington. Maliek Collins, Sean Lee, David Irving, y Randy Gregory estarán jugando mucho más sanos y preparados. Este es un frente defensivo lleno de talento que intimidará constantemente a Alex Smith este domingo.
A pesar de que los Redskins no tienen una ofensiva muy explosiva, el área de oportunidad principal para la defensiva de Cowboys está en la profundidad defensiva. Tanto Jeff Heath como Xavier Woods han hecho un trabajo decente, pero tienen sus momentos en los que no logran asegurar una tackleada y permiten jugadas largas.
Hace unos meses no esperábamos que fuera la defensiva y no la ofensiva la que cargaría a este equipo a muchas victorias, pero ese ha sido el caso en las tres victorias de esta temporada. Y en las tres derrotas, la defensiva fue la que mantuvo a los Cowboys en el juego.
Sin duda alguna, lo que tiene que mejorar es la ofensiva. Los receptores tienen que desmarcarse, Prescott debe ser más preciso y tener una mejor conciencia en la bolsa de protección.
Pero sobre todo, es la inconsistencia del equipo. Esto se comienza a sentir como la temporada del año pasado, cuando los Cowboys se fueron 9-7 y nunca terminaron de establecerse como contendientes a los playoffs. Aún en una NFC East donde todos los equipos tienen récords similares y débiles, no pueden continuar perdiendo una semana y ganando a la otra.
Ganarle a los Redskins sería la primera victoria de Dallas jugando de visita. También sería la primera vez en el año en la que tendrían victorias consecutivas. Por esto y muchas otras razones, incluyendo el potencial liderato de la división, este juego es de suma importancia.
Si ganan, podría ser el momento en el que los Cowboys terminen de darle la vuelta a la página y si pierden, podría ser un indicador de que esta temporada será igual que la del 2017.
Time to get FB Jamize Olawale More Involved Offensively?
The Dallas Cowboys are coming off arguably their best and most complete offensive performance of the season after playing the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, but there is still quite a bit of improvement that can be made. The need to get more playmakers involved is apparent, which is why I think it's time to utilize Fullback Jamize Olawale's unique skill set.
I know many of you will argue that getting Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup going is a higher priority, and you wouldn't be wrong, but Jamize Olawale's playmaking ability could be a huge asset for Quarterback Dak Prescott and the offense. I know it sounds a little strange, but hang in there with me for little bit.
As things stand right now, Olawale has only played 38 offensive snaps (10%) in 2018. That's the exact amount of offensive plays Wide Receiver Terrance Williams has played this year and he's missed the majority of the season. It's not exactly the kind of production I was expecting when the Cowboys decided to bring him aboard via trade with the Oakland Raiders earlier this offseason.
I don't know about you, but I was expecting Olawale to be more involved in the offensive game plan. He is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and isn't too shabby as a runner either. But, we haven't seen him utilized in either fashion this season and I think that's an injustice that needs to be corrected.
Now, I fully understand there are other offensive weapons ahead of him in the pecking order who need to see more targets, but I also really think he can make a difference maker, especially in the passing game. That is where his strengths lie, not as a lead blocking fullback.
Olawale was a bit of a Swiss Army knife during his time with the Oakland Raiders. He played a little running back, fullback, tight end, and even a little slot receiver. I really thought the Cowboys would take advantage of his versatility in the passing game, but as of yet they have failed to do so.
I'd like to see the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan utilize Jamize Olawale's unique playmaking ability a little bit more on offense. I think they should try to utilize him like the San Francisco 49ers use their fullback, Kyle Juszczyk. He's much more involved and has played a total of 263 offensive snaps (63.68%) this year.
Juszczyk is a better lead blocking FB then Olawale, but that's not where he makes the most difference in the 49ers offense. He does it as a receiver and has already caught 17 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown. That's some pretty solid production from a position that is being phased out in the NFL.
Now, just imagine the Cowboys offense getting similar production from Olawale and how that would help open up things for everybody else. It's not out of the realm of possibility because the 49ers offense and the Cowboys isn't all that dissimilar.
Unfortunately, I think Jamize Olawale is pretty much an afterthought in the Cowboys offense right now. It's truly unfortunate because I think he can be a difference maker if given the opportunity. And with a division foe like the Washington Redskins next on the schedule, what better time to unleash a new and unseen element of the offense?
Do you think Jamize Olawale needs to be more involved offensively?
Cole Beasley Key to Cowboys Passing Game Productivity?
What most of us already knew was confirmed last Sunday afternoon against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wide Receiver Cole Beasley is the Dallas Cowboys best receiver and is the key to the passing game productivity. He is not only the most productive, but the most consistent.
Cole Beasley isn't the tallest or the fastest and definitely doesn't look like a prototypical NFL receiver, but he showed last week against the Jaguars why opposing defenses have to account for him on every single play. He torched Jacksonville's top-ranked passing defense for 101 yards on nine catches and added two touchdowns, and it's that production that could help open up the entire passing game for the Cowboys.
It's painfully obvious Cole Beasley has been Dak Prescott's favorite target in the passing game since he took over the starting duties in 2016. Once opposing defenses figured that out they started to make things extremely difficult by bracketing Beasley in coverage and the passing game hasn't been the same since. But, that could be changing if the Jaguars game was an indication of what we might see moving forward.
Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan did a much better job of moving Beasley around to create favorable matchups against the Jaguars. I think we will see much more of that moving forward, but that likely means opposing defenses will once again try to take away Prescott's favorite target. That actually could end up helping the Cowboys passing game though.
If opposing defenses indeed try to contain Cole Beasley like they've done in the past, it should help provide more opportunities for Dallas' other pass catchers. Spreading the ball around to several different receivers would not only help Prescott and the passing game, but also open up the entire offense.
We haven't really seen much of Allen Hurns or Michael Gallup this season, but both are more than capable of being more productive if they are seeing single coverage more often. That's what's likely to happen if defenses bracket Beasley in coverage once again. Both WRs need to be more involved anyway and Beasley's recent spike in production could help do just that.
Now, if defenses decide to try and cover Beasley one-on-one like the Jaguars did quite a bit of last Sunday, the Cowboys would be wise to take advantage of that mismatch. He simply can't be covered by a single defensive back because of his precise route running ability. He is that good.
Regardless of how opposing defenses try to handle/contain Cole Beasley, he is without a doubt key to the Dallas Cowboys passing game productivity. Just the threat of him on the field changes a defenses approach, which is why he is Dallas' #1 WR in my book. He absolutely has to be more involved moving forward, even if it is as a decoy.
Do you think Cole Beasley is the key to the Cowboys passing game productivity?
Star Blog1 week ago
If Jason Garrett’s Out, Who’s In? Potential HC Candidates
Star Blog5 days ago
Should the Dallas Cowboys Trade for These 2 Oakland Raiders?
Player News1 week ago
Leighton Vander Esch Lands on List of NFL’s Top 10 Rookies
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Did Garrett’s OT Decision Cost Him More Than Just the Game?
Star Blog1 week ago
Is Jason Garrett Losing the Cowboys Locker Room?
Player News4 days ago
Oakland Raiders’ Wide Receiver Amari Cooper On the Trade Block
Dallas Cowboys3 days ago
Report: Jason Garrett “Not Going Anywhere” with Possible Extension Coming Soon
Game Notes1 week ago
Jaylon Smith Looks Healthy, And The NFL Should Be Terrified