After the big win against the Detroit Lions this week, the Dallas Cowboys improved their 2018 seasonal outlook by getting back to .500 and staying close to the division leading Washington Redskins (2-1). Not only did they improve their record, but our opinion of them improved some as well.
The Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott finally got their passing game going "for he first time in forever."
Sorry, when you have a two-year old daughter you get Frozen songs stuck in your head.
But seriously. How different do we feel about the Dallas Cowboys passing game heading into week five than we did heading into week four. They finally got some things clicking downfield. Dak Prescott showed some really good accuracy going 5/8 for 113 yards and a touchdown on passes greater than 10 yards down the field. Including a couple of bombs to Michael Gallup and Ezekiel Elliott.
I know one week doesn't erase all of the negative things that we saw over the last half of the 2017 season and the first three games of 2018, but it will go a long way toward proving that Dak Prescott is the quarterback we saw in 2016 and the first half of 2017.
We weren't the only ones who thought the Dallas Cowboys looked better on Sunday. As we take a stroll through the national football media, let's round up some weekly power rankings to see where the Dallas Cowboys made the jump after week 4.
USA Today: For the Win
Last Week: 21
This Week: 21
"I thought about putting the Cowboys higher on this list after an encouraging performance by the offense on Sunday. Then I remembered Sean Linehan is still in charge of getting this unit to play well so I’ll just leave them here."
Steven Ruiz - For The Win: USA Today
Perhaps this week the mind-meld of Sean McVay and Scott Linehan called the plays and that is why the Dallas Cowboys were so effective on offense in their week four win over the Detroit Lions. I had to double check that Mr. Ruiz actually wrote "Sean Linehan" several times before I felt comfortable leaving it in the quote above.
Last Week: 24
This Week: 22
"The Cowboys evened the score on the season, putting them in a second-place tie with Philly and just a half-game behind the Redskins in the NFC East. Dak Prescott had much to do with Sunday's outcome, making the accurate throws in small windows that Dallas fans have been waiting for -- especially that nine route to Ezekiel Elliott on the game's final drive. Elliott went off, rushing for 152 yards on just 25 attempts. At center stage, though, should be the offensive line, which gave Prescott plenty of time to make those throws, and paved the way for Elliott. Key for Dak moving forward: maintaining this level of performance against teams that can bring more heat than the Lions, and doing it consistently, week in and week out. The Cowboys are sure glad they don't have to play Golden Tate every week. Good grief."
Elliott Harrison - NFL.com
Ain't that the truth. Golden Tate was a nightmare for the Dallas Cowboys secondary. Elliott hits the Dallas Cowboys' proverbial nail on the head. If they can get performances out of Dak Prescott similar to what they received on Sunday, they're going to be very difficult to beat.
Last Week: 22
This Week: 21
"Rookie snaps leader: OL Connor Williams, 230 snaps out of 230 (100 percent). The Cowboys' five-man offensive line has not missed a snap in the first four games. Williams is one of seven rookies (all OL) who have not missed an offensive snap."
Vince Masi - ESPN.com
This week, ESPN.com highlighted a rookie from each team in their power rankings by snap count. Obviously Connor Williams has played the most out of the rookies this season and has improved his play since the week one outing vs the Carolina Panthers.
The Washington Post
Last Week: 26
This Week: 18
"The Dallas offense showed some signs of being functional and, even with their early-season issues, the Cowboys are only a half-game out of first place in the NFC East."
Mark Maske - The Washington Post
It was a huge game for the Dallas Cowboys to be able to keep pace with their division rivals. Just as important as the win were the losses by the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants putting the Dallas Cowboys in second place behind the idle 2-1 Washington Redskins.
Last Week: 23
This Week: 16
"They got back to running the ball with Ezekiel Elliott against the Lions. That's something that they have to do more of coming up."
Pete Prisco - CBS.com
I don't think Pete was going out on a limb with this one. It's evident since 2014 that the Dallas Cowboys want to run the football and if they're going to have any success, they are going to have to continue to have success running the football. However, they never went away from the run game. Game script dictated that they pass more and they were effective in the run game when they ran it. The big difference in week four is the passing game showed signs of life for the first time since late in the 2017 season.
Pro Football Focus
This Week: 18
"The Cowboys needed some late-game heroics from Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott to beat the Lions at home. Prescott has been less than impressive to start 2018, and while some of the blame can be attributed to his receivers, he still has the third lowest adjusted completion percentage among current starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Our model pegs their playoff chances at 32% with a 20% shot of winning the division."
Eric Eager and Ben Brown - Pro Football Focus
So you're saying there's a chance? A 32% shot at making the playoffs sounds great after how we felt about this team following the loss in Seattle. The Dallas Cowboys are right in the thick of the NFC East Divisional race and can reassert themselves in the conference with a win against the Houston Texans on Sunday.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
With the win on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys certainly turned some heads as they rose in every power rankings save for one. But that guy doesn't know the offensive coordinator's first name, so we are going to give the team a pass for not climbing in his rankings. Who knows what he's thinking.
Power rankings are completely subjective, but it's good to get an idea of how the Dallas Cowboys are viewed by national observers from time-to-time, even if it appears the national observers aren't observing very closely. Looking at you Pete.
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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