On Sunday, the Denver Broncos bested the Cowboys 42-17 at home with a dominant showing from their elite defense and balanced offense. The Monday reactions from Cowboys Nation were naturally all over the place, as the blowout loss seemingly had some quickly forgetting that we are still just a year removed from this Cowboys' core winning 13 games and the NFC East in 2016.
There is one narrative going around worth addressing following this game, and it is that the Broncos exposed the Cowboys by providing a "blueprint" for how to beat this Dallas team. This of course comes after the team's first loss of this young 2017 season, failing to take into consideration that it was a week one loss to the formidable Giants last year that sparked an eleven game winning streak for the Cowboys.
Like the Broncos now, the Giants were seen as a team that had the Cowboys' number after beating them twice during Prescott and Elliott's rookie campaign. With a win against an equally tough New York defense already under their belts before this humbling defeat in Denver, it is ridiculous to begin assuming that teams around the league suddenly know how to stop one of the most well-built and dynamic offenses in the NFL.
The Broncos' defense is good, very good. This unit deserves a ton of credit for what they did taking Ezekiel Elliott out of this game so early for the Cowboys on the ground, but this was also not entirely their doing. Drives extended by defensive penalties on Dallas, missed opportunities to force turnovers, and failure to gain any rhythm in the passing game allowed Denver's defense to do what they did to the Cowboys on Sunday by holding Elliott to a career low eight yards and forcing Dak Prescott to drop back a career high 50 times - resulting in two killer interceptions.
The Broncos made the Cowboys' offense look so uncomfortable in this game by simply doing what they've done best for a long time now, putting elite talent on the field at all three levels and matching up against the Cowboys in man coverage.
Look around the defensive depth charts for any other team in the NFL, and it becomes evident quickly that this hidden "secret" to beating the Cowboys is not a secret at all - instead a simple lack of adequate depth in the secondary to cover against Scott Linehan's passing offense while also committing the ridiculous numbers the Broncos did to the box in the running game.
The Giants are likely the closest to proving they could match what the Broncos did this week, but currently sitting at 0-2 with a loss on the record against the Cowboys already, it is clear that this once-elite defense has regressed a fraction while the offense holds the Giants back even more. It was the Broncos balanced offense exploiting an absolutely depleted Rod Marinelli defense (playing with two healthy CBs) that ultimately put Sunday's game out of reach for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys and Giants won't meet again at Metlife Stadium until week 14. Before then, the Cowboys will see three teams in the bottom ten of the NFL from 2016 in Yards Per Play Differential - an all important stat when it comes to a Cowboys team that wants to regain control of games by hitting on big plays on the ground while protecting leads with their zone defense looks.
Just because none of this came to fruition against a Denver Broncos team under former defensive coordinator and now Head Coach Vance Joseph - who said himself that the Cowboys' offense was easy to scout but difficult to actually stop - does not mean that much better days are not ahead for Prescott and Elliott running this Cowboys offense.
Preparing to do so against defenses that won't be able to man up on the outside nor get the best of Dallas' league-best offensive line the way Denver did, order can be restored quickly to a Cowboys offense that should hope to never throw the ball 50 times and hand it off only 11 times again anytime soon.
The Cowboys' next opportunity to start a new winning streak following a loss will come in prime time on Monday night at the Cardinals. Arizona's defense is certainly tough, but the distance between their unit and that of the Broncos' playing at its absolute best is tangible - as should the difference in performance from week two to three for the Cowboys in all three phases.
It is not any easier to beat these 1-1 Cowboys than it was when they were 1-1 at this time last year, and for once Monday can't get here soon enough as the team will look to remain in first place and move to 2-1 on the 2017 season.
Whether or not they do so will have nothing to do with a blueprint that's out there for Cardinals' Head Coach Bruce Arians or any other team remaining on the Cowboys' schedule to use.
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.
Star Blog2 days ago
Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
3 Free Agent Targets for the Dallas Cowboys Offense
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Will Cowboys S Jeff Heath Be a 2019 Salary Cap Casualty?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
How Does LB Joe Thomas Fit Into Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 Plans?
Star Blog2 weeks ago
3 Uncertainties Surrounding The Cowboys Offseason
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
Cowboys C Travis Frederick Provides Update on Recovery, 2019 Return
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
Mock Draft Analysis: Who are Experts Sending to the Cowboys?
Star Blog1 week ago
Dak Prescott Won’t Give A “Hometown Discount,” Nor Should He